8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is stated in the press that the war gratuity regulations have received the approval of. the Executive Council. I ask that they may fee made available to members and the public as soon as possible, so that the various inquiries regarding the gratuity may be correctly answered.
– Theywill be made available as soon as possible.
asked the Acting
Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - .
– The particulars desired by the honorable member are as follow : -
Males, 61; females, 10; total, 71. Inter-State - Males, 495; females, 182; total, 677. Total departures, 748.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.NICHOLLS asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
To report on what measures are taken by the Anglo-Egyptian Bank and Thos. Cook and Sons to insure that remittances made through them to members of the Australian Imperial Force by persons in Australia are paid to the individual whom the sender intends to receive same, and not to some unauthorized person. 3. (a) Copy of correspondence in the matter with the Defence Department, including the instructions given to Mr. Murdoch and a copy of his subsequent report, is now laid on the table.
The following paper was presented : -
Australian Imperial Force. - Correspondence with reference to the appointment of Mr. Keith Murdoch to report upon certain arrangements in connexion with the Australian Imperial Force in Egypt.
In Committee (Consideration of Go- vernor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913, and for other purposes.
Resolution reported and adopted.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure is introduced primarily as a result of representations made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page), who took exception to the proportion of members appointed to the Public Accounts Committee from the Opposition benches. When that point was raised, I said that whilst I did not admit that the representation had not been accorded with due regard to the numerical strength of the various parties, yet, in view of the fact that in the last Parliament the Opposition had three representatives on the Committee, I would introduce a measure to amend the Act by providing for the appointment of an additional member fromthis House. This Bill so provides. In addition to that, the Bill incorporates a number of clauses taken from the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act of 1913. To the best of my recollection, this measure repeats in substance the provisions of a Bill introduced by my predecessor, Mr. Fisher. By glancing through the Bill, honorable members will understand at once to what extent the scope of the Public Accounts Committee is being widened, and the reasons for that course. The measure does not provide for any extra remuneration being paid to members of the Committee. The Act makes provision for a Joint Committee of nine members, and certain duties are conferred upon them, and powers given them to take evidence on oath. This Bill increases the number to ten. Specific provision is made for the appointment of a chairman and vice-chairman, and a temporary chairman to preside in the absence of the other two. The same clause determines the manner in which questions before the Committee shall be decided. That clause is identical with the provision in the Public Works Committee Act. Clause 4 gives the Committee power to summon witnesses, and to compel the production of documents; and provision is made for the issue of a warrant for the arrest of any persons who refuse to appear in obedience to a summons. That is a very necessary power. There are also penalties for disobedience of a summons, or for preventing witnesses from giving evidence. As the Act is worded at present, though the Committee may take evidence on oath or affirmation, there is no power to compel the attendance of witnesses. This Bill gives that power, which, on the face of it, is very necessary. It prescribes also the form of oath or affirmation to be administered to witnesses, and provides for the punishment of persons refusing to be sworn, or to give evidence after having been sworn. Generally, the Bill repeats all those sections in the Public Works Committee Act which the Legislature has enacted as a result of experience, and which, having been omitted from the Public Accounts Committee Act, impairs the efficiency of that body to a vital degree.
.- The Bill not only increases the membership of the Committee from nine to ten, but gives statutory effect to what honorable members who have served on the Committee tell me is already the practice. This measure will give the Public Accounts Committee powers on all-fours with those enjoyed by the Public Works Committee. Honorable members who were in the House when these two Committees were first brought into existence, will recollect that the Public Accounts Committee was regarded as a body of secondary importance. I believe that it is equally as important as the Public Works Committee, and can do good work. I cordially support the measure.
.- This Bill is identical with a measure which was included amongst the “ slaughtered innocents “ at the end of a session during the regime of the Fisher Government. There is only one clause to which I take exception, and that is the provision giving the chairman a deliberative vote and a casting vote. In my opinion, that is neither democratic nor in accordance with parliamentary procedure. In this House, when there is a tie - either in the full House or in Committee - the question is resolved in the negative. If such a contingency arises in the Public Accounts Committee, the chairman will have authority to give a casting vote. A result arrived at by this means cannot be the decision of .the Committee, it must be the decision of the chairman only. I hope that honorable members will agree to strike out that clause. I am satisfied that when honorable members view this question calmly and recognise that our object should be to secure a majority decision in every case, they will amend the clause in the direction I have indicated. When honorable members opposite meet in caucus to. deal with great questions, such as that relating to the Oil Trust, their chairman has only a casting vote. The principle for which I contend is a truly democratic one, arid, provided that effect be given to it, I shall offer no opposition to the Bill.
.- When speaking last night I suggested that it would be a very wise procedure to refer all taxation measures to a Committee of this House. I rise to suggest that it might be possible to insert in this Bill a ‘ clause enabling a sectional Committee of the Public Accounts Committee to act as a Committee to which finance measures might be referred, with power to take evidence in regard to them.
– I think it would be better to raise that matter separately.
– I shall not press it, but I thought my suggestion might commend itself to the Ministry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After section two of the principal Act the following sections are inserted: - “2b. (1) All questions which arise in the Committee shall he decided by a majority of votes . . . and when the votes are equal the Chairman shall have a second or ‘casting vote. . . .
Amendment (by Mr. West) proposed -
That the words “ second or “ be left out.
– I hope that my honorable friend will not press this amendment. It would really place a disability on the honorable member elected as Chairman of the Committee. It is idle to blink the facts. This will be a Committee of equal numbers. One of the main objects of the Bill is to provide for the appointment of another member from the Opposition side of the House, in order to- do away with what the Opposition regarded as a party anomaly. It ill becomes the honorable member to try to minimize the most vital objective of the Bill. In the case of this Committee, above all others, the full voting strength should be obtained, otherwise there is no reason for making the proposal contained in the Bill. In the circumstances, I hope , my honorable friend will withdraw his -amendment.
– I would submit that the clause remain as printed. You, Mr. Fleming, as Temporary Chairman of Committees, have no part in our deliberations, and therefore do not exercise a deliberative vote. But the chairman of a Committee of this kind very properly takes part in its deliberations, and as a necessary consequence I think should exercise a deliberative vote. In the Committee to which the Bill refers, I may say, from my own experience, party predilections are very largely set aside when members proceed with their work. There is, therefore, no reason why the Chairman of the Committee should not exercise a vote which ordinarily might be of some little value to it3 deliberations. Hitherto the practice has been for the Chairman of a Committee of this kind to have a deliberative, and, if necessary, a casting vote. I submit that no ‘ justification has arisen for any change.
.- It is true that protests were raised by myself and other honorable members on this side, in view of the fact that although our party is now more largely represented here than previously, our representation on this Committee was not so large as formerly; and the result is that this Bill seeks to rectify the anomaly. However that may be, I cannot conceive of a position arising, in the case of the Public Accounts Committee, when the casting vote -of the chairman is likely to be exercised.
– It has occurred in the case of the Public Works Committee, and I think a casting vote is necessary.
– It may be necessary, and I ask the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) not to press his amendment at the present time, in view of the fact that the Government have met us so fairly.
-1 am not complaining about any action on the part of the Government. I . know that, in the past, Parliaments all over the world -have done many things which they ought not to have done; and my object is to make Parliament a truly democratic institution, as nearly perfect as my abilities will permit. I have had a long experience of life and men, and it justifies me in giving no more privileges than are absolutely necessary to any person. I feel that my view is the correct one, but I am afraid that my brother legislators have not reached that true ideal of Democracy that I have, and that I shall have to wait until they begin to understand what it is that the people really expect. I certainly have had some pleasure in ventilating my views this afternoon, and I am confident that the day will come when honorable members will appreciate the pearls of wisdom that have fallen from me. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Penalty for refusing to be sworn, &c).
– This clause gives power to any member of the Committee to ask any question, and all the penalties in the Bill attach to the person who refuses to answer. I submit that that is an exceedingly dangerous power to place in the hands of any one man.
– It is a usual power.
– And it has been abused more than once. In the case of this Committee, which is one to inquire into the public accounts, and so forth, it seems to me that, if a member is unable to get a majority of the Committee to approve of a question he wishes to ask, he should not have the power proposed by the clause. The question should be asked with the approval of a majority, or be one relevant to the inquiry.
– The clause gives the power only in the case of a witness refusing to answer “without just cause.”
– All the same, the proposed power appears to me most dangerous and unnecessary.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
I congratulate honorable members on the passage of this measure, because I believe that, together with the Public Works Committee Act, it is capable, as the outcome of experience, of incalculable service in connexion with public works and the spending of public money. I am pleased to be associated with this Bill, and I shall always remember with satisfaction that I had the inestimable privilege of piloting the original measure through this Chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Appointments in Taxation Department - Compulsory Military Training - Old- ageand Invalid: Pensioners in Institutions - Federal Capital - Post and Telegraph Department: Allowance Post Offices - Moratorium - Transport of Fodder: Commonwealth Steamers - Rents - Returned Munition Workers - Loans - Cotton Industry - Bureau of Science and Industry - Technical Education.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1920-21, a sum not exceeding £1,838,847.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
That Sir Joseph. Cook and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and read a first time. .
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill covering Supply for the first month of the new financial year. The House will probably meet early in the month, but not in sufficient time to make provision for the first payment falling due in July. There is nothing novel in the Bill, no new services are provided for; it simply includes provision for the ordinary ser vices for a full month, and for salaries payable on the 9 th and 23rd July. Provision is made for : - Ordinary votes, £811,000; war services payable from revenue, £227,000; refunds to revenue, £50,000 ; Treasurer’s Advance, £750,000. The Treasurer’s Advance may seem a; little large, but it is usual at the beginning of every financial year to vote a fairly large amount, because, out of the Treasurer’s Advance, it is necessary to begin to spend money on new works and public buildings in process of construction. At. the end of the financial year, as honorable members know, all revenue remaining unexpended is swept up into a trust account; and, as it is necessary to have money available almost immediately at, the beginning of the new year, the Treasurer’s Advance, which is a very handy fund for this purpose, is generally reinforced by voting a large sum in the first SupplyBill of the year. The total amount appropriated for the current: financial year is £21,186,000: Onetwelfth of that amount is. £1,755,000. In this Supply Bill, we are really taking £73,000 more than one-twelfth of the full expenditure for the year; but this slight excess is due to the amount which is in- cluded for refunds to revenue, and to an amount of £20,000 embraced in the Treasurer’s Advance. Honorable members’ trill see that this is merely a carry-on proposition for the first month of the new year, and I commend it to the House.
.- Last night the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) said that when introducing this Supply Bill he would give us some information in regard to the general Defence policy of the Government, more particularly with reference to certain points raised by honorable members. For instance, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) asked for information in regard to the purchase of plant for the Arsenal.
I understand that there are about twenty-nine vacancies in the Taxation Department which, owing to the war conditions, have remained unfilled ; and that in regard to twenty-five of them there is no dispute as to who should fill them; and that fourteen out ofthese twenty-five officers are returned soldiers. Some of the men who have qualified to fill the positions were employed in the Treasury prior to enlisting. Others are officers in the Public Service who have proved themselves fit to fill the posts. Now that the war is over, there can be no gain in delaying the filling of the vacancies.
– Are the appointments necessary?
– Yes ; these men are practically doing the work now. Vacancies have occurred through various causes. Officers previously filling the positions may have received promotion, and the present applicants have proved their qualifications to be appointed to the vacancies by carrying on the work attached to the positions, and passing the necessary tests. Many heartburnings are caused by undue delay in filling vacancies. Soon after the war broke out, Mr. Andrew Fisher - the then Prime Minister - announced that during the war all promotions and appointments in the Public Service would cease ; and now that the war is over, it is only right that vacancies should be filled. Delay only creates friction, and we all know that friction among a large number of employees is one of the worst possible things that can happen. On the other hand, a well-paid and contented Public Service is one of the greatest blessings any country could have. There is no need for further delay. Everything has been done to fill the positions except the issue of the necessary Orders in Council, and I hope that the Acting Treasurer will take the matter in hand and expedite it.
.- The compulsory training of the youths of Australia is now being done chiefly on Saturday afternoons, and thus great hardship is inflicted upon them and their parents, because they are deprived of the only opportunity in the week for indulging in sport and other recreations, which would benefit them and the community. Every thoughtful person will admit that the development of the sporting instinct should be encouraged as much as possible. What stood our soldiers in such good stead during the war was the training they bald received in the football field, between the cricket wickets, and in following sport generally. This made them alert, mentally and physically, and enabledthem to worthily play their part in the conflict. The object of training our youths is to build up a citizen army for the defence of Australia. But those who have most at stake in this community are the employers and the wealthy classes, and, therefore, they should bear the burden of this training, that is to say, the trainees should be trained on working days, during time that now belongs to their employers. They should not be called on to give up the few hours they have for recreation each week in order that they may be fitted to fight for the moneyed interests of Australia.
– Is that all that they are being trained for?
– That is one of the reasons why they are being trained. Then, again, as the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden) has remarked, they are compelled to pay fares on the trams or trains which they have to use to get to the training ground. This is a great injustice to their parents, who, for the most part, in these days, when the cost of living is so high, find it difficult to meet their ordinary obligations.
– And we are now compelling them to provide boots and clothing.
– Yes. Parliament should tell the Defence Department that, if these boys are to be compulsorily trained, they must be provided with clothing and all necessary equipment at the expense of the Government, and must be given a free pass for train and tram, to enable them to attend drill without expense. Furthermore, as I have said, the drills should be held during working hours, in time that now belongs to the employers. But I would draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that the war has shown that with the material we have in Australia soldiers can be made in next to no time; that, given men of a certain physique and a certain standard of intelligence, you can, without months and years of the drudgery of drill, very quickly manufacture efficient soldiers. Men who before enlisting had not had a moment’s military training became, within a few months, the best soldiers in the world:
– That may be all very well in a protracted war, but suppose that we required soldiers at once?
– The war has provided Australia with hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers, who have got their experience, not in the barrack square, but on the actual field of battle, and they are ready to respond at a moment’s notice should Australia be attacked by a hostile power. From the defence point of view, the compulsory military training of our youths is a waste of money, and hundreds of thousands of pounds could be saved were it given up. I recommend that suggestion to the consideration of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). Under our present system, military training ceases just when a lad has passed into manhood, and has gained the discretion and dash necessary to make him an effective soldier.
– A good deal of it is only physical drill.
– I have roared with laughter to see a man dressed in a tinselled uniform, barking orders in a loud, barrack-square voice at a crowd of children.
– Does the honorable member propose to leave to the men who have already done so much for Australia any future fighting that may have to be done?
– Wot at all. I strongly opposed the application to this country of conscription for service overseas. If Australia were attacked, every man capable of bearing arms would immediately respond to the call to defend the country.
– But the honorable member objects to making our men capable of bearing arms.
– The training that I am criticising does not make them capable. This “left turn, quick march,” business was discarded by experts years ago.
– During the war the men who had had previous military training had a big pull over those without it.
– Of course.
– Nothing of the sort. Those who covered themselves with glory, winning Victoria Crosses and other decorations, were men who before the war had had not a moment’s military training. The present system is farcical, and a reckless waste of public money, and it is for those who pride themselves on being custodians of the public purse to economize to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds by stopping it.
I wish to tell the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) of what is happening on board the vessels which he controls. Next week certain functions are to take place in Melbourne-
– Everything is to take place here; there is to be nothing in Sydney..
– The Fleet is coming to Port Phillip to take part in the reception of the Prince of Wales, and the Australia, after leaving Sydney, went into Jervis Bay, and spent eight hours there, while the blue-jackets were being taught how to shout, “ Hip, hip, Hurrah !” All hands were piped on deck, and a signaller was stationed with a flag in his hand. When he raised it above his head that was the signal for attention; then, as the flag was lowered the men were required! to shout, “ Hip !” The flag was raised again, and they repeated the “ Hip !” Then it was whirled round and they shouted “ Hurrah.” They are not allowed to say the good Australian “ Hooray.” It must be “Hip! Hip! Hurrah.” I object to useless waste of money and time in teaching men that sort of thing. This instance must indicate to the Minister that there is a good deal of scope for the exercise of economy in connexion with the administration of the Navy.
I desire the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) to realize that there are other places in Australia than Melbourne.
– I am certain Sydney is not Australia.
– No; but it is a more important part of Australia than any other place I know of. I invite the PostmasterGeneral to go to Sydney, and personally investigate the deplorable condition of affairs in that city. It is useless for him to sit in Melbourne and think that he can know all about the administration of the Department in other States. He must travel. In my own district there are many matters which are crying aloud for attention. The demands for telephones, and the apparent incapacity of the Department to provide .them, are alarming. I believe that if the PostmasterGeneral went to Sydney and enjoyed the balmy atmosphere, and occasional trips on the harbour, he would be a far better man; he would take a broader view, and administer his Department much better. There is need for additional post-office accommodation in many parts about Sydney, but the Deputy PostmasterGeneral says that he has no authority in these matters, and that Ministerial authority must be obtained. And when one interviews the Minister he finds that that gentleman knows nothing about the locality, and has to write to Sydney to get a report.
– When we had a New South Wales Postmaster-General the honorable member was not satisfied. ‘
– He was more a post than a Minister. The present occupant has not yet indulged - at any rate, not publicly - in. flights of poetic fancy. We have at least in Sydney a public press that realizes that Melbourne- is not Australia, and that the Federal Capital ought to be at Canberra. If we could convert the Age or the Argus to the same point of view, we should be conferring a benefit upon Australia as a whole. I direct the attention, of the Postmaster-General to the crying need of a new post-office at East Balmain.. It is a big industrial centre, but it has only a little dog-kennel office in which all postal business and pension payments are transacted. The revenue obtained from that- little dog kennel compares more than favorably with that obtained’ in other centres, but the thousands of pounds contributed to the Treasury by the illventilated and dingy office at East Balmain is utilized for the erection* of palatial offices in Victoria.
– What about the country facilities ?
– We do not call them facilities in New South Wales.
– I am now dealing with the requirements of my own district.
– The honorable member may get a dog kennel in the metropolitan districts, but we get only a mousetrap in the country.
– The honorable member is quite capable of seeing that his electorate gets a fair- deal. Hundreds of people in a congested industrial area are calling out in vain for telephonic communication. Hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other professional people are waiting to be connected with the telephone service.
– Their outcry is nothing compared with that of those who have the telephone.
– I was about to say that not only those who are unable to obtain telephones, but also those who are connected with the system, have a grievance against the Department - the latter because they are unable to get a satisfactory service. I believe that if the Minister came to Sydney and investigated these matters personally, the Postal Department in New South Wales would be better administered. Any business from which the principal is continually absent must suffer.
– The PostmasterGeneral is too- pious to encourage profane language by installing new telephones.
– I was told the other day that the profane language which is’ supposed to be used in Sydney to-day by users of the telephone is very mild compared with that which was used when the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was Postmaster-General. The present Minister may at least take credit for the fact that conditions in that respect are’ better than they were then. I feel sure that the Minister will take my advice to heart, and at the earliest opportunity visit Sydney in order to see that justice is done to the people who are dealing with the Department.
It is high time that some action was taken by this Parliament to establish the Federal Capital at Canberra. .We heard some talk the other day about honouring’ contracts that had been entered into. Honorable members have an opportunity of showing that they are prepared to honour the contract that was made between the people of 0 Australia, on the one part, and the people of New South Wales on the other, that the Federal Capital should be established at Canberra. To-day, after twenty years of Federation, Melbourne is still the Seat of Government, and the establishment of the Federal Capital at Canberra is as far off as ever. There has been a clear breach of faith, and also, I would remind the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams), a breach of the contract entered into with the- people qf New South Wales. Those who believe that the terms of a compact ‘solemnly entered into should be carried out ought to demand that immediate steps be taken to bring the Capital City into being at Canberra.
– Why not make Sydney the Federal Capital ?
– Because the contract was that the Capital should be in New South Wales, and not within 100 miles of Sydney. The honorable member’s suggestion is a mere device to lure the bird off the bush. The moment we departed from the contract for the establishment of the. Capital at Canberra, we should have Melbourne declared, in the Constitution, to be the Seat of Government for all time. If the Government are not ready to honour this contract, then honorable members must shoulder the responsibility. Honorable members, and especially those who represent New South Wales, ‘ should be ready to say to the Government, “Unless you honour this contract, you must go out of omeo.”
In conclusion, I hope that the Defence Department will avail itself of the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum by abolishing the com’pulsory military training of the youth of the country. I hope, also, that the PostmasterGeneral will accept the invitation I have extended to him to visit Sydney in order to deal with matters affecting his Department in New South Wales. Finally, if the Government are not prepared to hearken to the cry of the people of New South Wales for the establishment of the Capital at Canberra, I hope that the House will tell them plainly that they must, make room for a Government that will honour the compact.
.-There are several matters which I desire to discuss, including one to which reference was made a few evenings ago by the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) and the honorable member for Nepean (Mr. Bowden). In the schedule to the Bill there appears under “The Department of the Treasury” the item -
Maintenance of persons admitted to charitable institutions and hospitals in accordance with provisions of Invalid and Old-age Pensions Acts, £4,500.
This is the provision to be made in respect of one month’s supply, so that it would appear that we are paying something like £54,000 per annum to these institutions for the maintenance of invalid and old-age pensioners.
– We are practically maintaining these State institutions.
– That is so. We have a right to give to the old people who would be pensioners even if they were not inmates of these institutions, the 2s. per week which is allowed them for the purchase of comforts, but the States themselves have a responsibility in the matter. This £54,000 per annum is handed over to the States,- and we are thus paying largely for the upkeep of institutions over the management of which we have no control. We should not say to these old people, “You must come out of these institutions in order to become eligible for a pension.” I would be in favour of treating all persons alike, but I do not believe that, in order to give these inmates- of charitable institutions 2s. a week to provide them with comforts, we should have to make ourselves liable for an additional 13s. per head per week to the States. The great majority of honorable members recognise that 15s. a week, does not go very far with old-age pensioners who are not inmates of charitable institutions, and if there is to be any alteration, it is more likely to be in the direction of an increase than a decrease.
– Nurses of these institutions in New South Wales are charged 15s. a week for their accommodation, and 13s. per week is being demanded for the accommodation of the old people.
– I am surprised to hear that. I would prefer the accommodation set apart for the nurses rather than that provided for the old people. I do not wish, however, to .say one word against the management of these institutions. They do their very best with the money available. Honorable members will recognise that every increase made in our invalid and old-age pensions has meant au increased allowance to these institutions, and it seems to me that since we make this allowance to them we should have a voice in their management.
– No, because we do not send the old people into them.
– Many old people go into charitable institutions after being granted their pensions, and we allow the management to deduct 13s. out of the 15s. per week allotted to them; The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) stated recently that inmates who had friends outside leave these institutions for a fortnight or a month, in order to become eligible for the pension, and that immediately it is allotted to them they return and draw the 2s. per week allowed them for comforts.
– That is frequently done.
– The honorable member for Illawarra also referred to that practice.
– I know of a man who left one of these institutions and slept on newspapers in the Domain for a fortnight in order that he might become eligible for a pension. While he remained an inmate, he was not eligible.
– That is a scandal. We ought to make better provision for these poor people.
– Pensioners who are inmates should now be receiving at least 3s. per week to provide them with comforts.
– Undoubtedly. I do not know whether this question will be discussed at the Conference of State Premiers to be held shortly, but there is much, from the point of view of the Commonwealth, that might be said in regard to it.
In another part of the schedule, under the heading of “ Department of Trade and Customs,” we find the following item : -
Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry (including expenses of Advisory Council pending establishment of permanent Institute), salaries, contingencies, £1,170.
This has been for some time a recurring item. It is not long since we passed £30,000 for the purpose of the Institute. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) recently stated that he desired to dispose of the Institute of Science and Industry Bill before we adjourned in connexion with the approaching visit of the Prince of Wales. We should either abolish the Institute altogether, or place it on a permanent basis. There should be cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in order that there may be no unnecessary expenditure. We ought certainly to co-operate with the States to the extent to which they are doing work likely to come within the scope of the Institute. We should make use of the Commonwealth laboratories to supplement the work of the State agencies rather than set in operation a big institute which will try totake over the whole of the work now being done by the States.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) stated last night that he intended, in connexion with this Bill, to propose a reduction of an item as an instruction to the Government to continue the operation of the moratorium regulations. I think we all approve of the protection which those regulations afford to returned soldiers and their dependants in the matter of rentals. The moratorium in this respect, however, has proved a double-edged weapon. Landlords in many instances have refused to let houses to returned soldiers or their dependants. When many of us complained of the way in which dependants of soldiers had been treated, we were successful in a number of instances in securing a reduction of rents, and in others we prevented any increase being made. In some cases, dependants of soldiers have been invited by their landlords to move as soon as possible. I have received the following letter from a returned soldier : -
The information I require to know - are the landlords allowed to raise the rents on a returned soldier. I will not be discharged twelve months until August, and my rent has risen 5s. a week during the last two months. Have I got any redress? If so, you will be doing me a service, also others, if you would let me know.
I have written to the Attorney-General’s Department to ascertain whether this man has any redress. However, it is not only returned soldiers that heavy rents are affecting. Last week the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) instanced a case of the proprietors of one of the oldest business establishments in Melbourne having their rent enormously increased; and I, myself, have received the following letter addressed from one of the business streets in the metropolitan area : -
I wish to bring under your notice the profiteers that are in our midst.
The facts are: I being knockedout with mining, and being unable to do any for a long while, and having a young family, I started doing light work, and the wife going out to work. We saved up a little money, and started business in Ballarat in a small way, which we thought we would sell out and come to Melbourne. We bought a business in Chapel - street, SouthYarra - confectionery and tea rooms. We had nine months of the lease to run, which expires at the end of June.
The property which consists offive shops, the late owners being the Colonial Life Insurance, the present owners …. The rent we paid was £2 10s. per week. They notified three of us tenants, whose leases expire, that we would have to pay £5 per week - 100 per cent, of a rise.
Now, don’t you think they are profiteers of the worst type? I may state that we have to face the winter; and, confectionery being so high, it would take us all we knew to make anything during the winter months. We have been compelled to give up our side line - cigarettes and tobacco - which meant a great loss with us.
I would esteem it a great favour if you would bring this before the House. I was wellknown in Ballarat.
It may be said that these increased rents are made necessary by increased rates; but in the case I have just mentioned the rates cannot amount to more than 2s. or 2s. 3d. in the £1, with an increase of 3d. I suppose that 8,000 out of the 9,000 houses in my own electorate have been erected for twenty-five years; and yet, when any tenant leaves, the opportunity is taken to increase the rent. The Government will, perhaps, tell us that owing to constitutional limitations it is impossible for us to do anything in the matter; but
I suggest that they might co-operate with the State Governments with a view to simultaneous action throughout the Commonwealth. With the ever increasing cost of living it is impossible for people to make ends meet. There is a fear on the part of some honorable members that, owing to the way things are going, there may be a crash sooner or later, and everything we can do to avoid such a calamity should be done in the interests of Australia. This matter requires the earnest consideration not only of this Parliament, but of all the State Parliaments.
I should now like to draw attention to a complaint by returned soldiers who are temporarily employed in the Post and Telegraph Department. The communication regarding them is as follows: -
I would like to state a few grievances against the Postmaster-General’s Department regarding the treatment meted out to the temporary soldiers in the Department. A fair number are employed as letter-carriers. Some of these have bicycle rounds, which are extremely awkward in wet weather. A few have capes, but the big majority have none. That means getting wet through whenever it rains. The Department shows no consideration at all as far as this is concerned. These men had hard times on the other side - that’s not to say they have to have them here. A little consideration goes a long way. Why is there so much consideration shown a permanent man? He is allowed two uniforms a year. The temporary soldier has to find all his; while there is a vast difference in the wages, by pay day, which is in the permanent man’s favour. We ask that no morning deliveries of letters extend to later than 10 a.m.; majority out this way
II a.m. and 12 noon.
The hours of delivery are a matter for the Department, but I ask the PostmasterGeneral to consider whether something cannot be done for these returned men. Honorable members who were in the first Parliament will remember how, in those days, I urged that all postal employees should be treated alike in the matter of clothing and so forth. Even if a man is temporarily employed he, requires a great coat -or cape just as much as does the permanent employee.
With other honorable members I met a deputation last week of returned munition workers who feel that they have a grievance against the Department which sent them away. They say -
We would point out that this body of men who have fulfilled their agreements, and with the highest satisfaction to the Commonwealth and Imperial Government, have returned to Australia in a much worse financial position than before leaving for work overseas.
We consider that the facts relating to our services and sacrifices are not available to the honorable members of the House.
We earnestly plead that you will consent to . the appointment of commission of inquiry, which will enable us to justify our claims for consideration, and vindicate the false impression prevalent in the minds of the community at large that munition and war workers improved their position through their services abroad.
In the camps in Australia were found enlisted men who were engineers, and directly this was ascertained, they were withdrawn and sent oversea, or set to work here as munition workers. Those men are as much entitled to fair consideration as _any other soldier. Many enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and it was not their fault they did not go to the Front with the troops. If honorable members are under a wrong impression regarding the conditions that applied to these men, their case should have fair consideration, and I have been on at least five deputations to the then Assistant Minister for Defence (Senator Russell), the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), and others regarding them. They were allowed a certain amount of money for the voyage, and their wives and dependants were also made an allowance; but this allowance lasted for only eight weeks, whereas in some cases the voyage lasted up to sixteen weeks. I believe, however, that something has been done bv the Defence Department to allay the dissatisfaction in this regard. As I stated before, the skilled worker did not earn so much as the unskilled worker in munition making, for the reason that the unskilled worker was on a machine which turned out hundreds or thousands of articles, whereas the skilled man was employed making the tools and dies, and he was not, like the unskilled man, paid by piece-work. I also believe that there is differential treatment in some of the States, some of the men coming within the land settlement schemes, while in other States they do not. I do not know which Department has control of this matter; but we have no right to throw these men aside after the services they have rendered. They are just as much entitled to fair treatment as the larger number which went to the front.
– You do not suggest that they should have the same treatment?
– I never said so.I know of anAustralian munition worker who, when proceeding from his work to his home in Camberwell, London, was killed in consequence of an accident to the bus on which he was riding.
– That could happen here.
– But his wife, who lives here, was given absolutely nothing, not even workers’ compensation, on the ground that he was not at work when he was killed. Another case - in which, however, some redress has been given - is that of a man who contracted pneumonia, or some other disease, on the voyage, and was sent back to Australia without a penny, his wages being stopped during his illness. There are many little grievances of that nature, and it is the “ pin-pricks “ that count.
As to the Bill itself, I realize that if we are to adjourn, it is advisable to have Supply for at least one month ; but I trust that before another Supply Bill is introduced we shall have the Budget delivered, and an opportunity afforded for a full and free discussion ofthe Estimates. It is most desirable that the prevailing practice of passing the Estimates in whole Departments, involving millions of money, without discussion, should not be continued.
Sir GRANVILLE EYRIE (North
Sydney - Assistant Minister for Defence) [4.15]. - I should like to say a few words in reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony). Of course, this is the old story of interference by the “‘prentice hand”; the honorable member knows nothing about military matters, or he would not, I fancy, have said what he did about military training. We have had compulsory training in this country for a good many years.
– It is a very rotten system !
– If so, the honorable member should blame his own party, because they have been insistent on their claim that it was they who originated the system.
– I am quite aware of that.
– Then find fault with your own people.
– I find fault with the manner in which the compulsory training is administered.
– In my opinion, it is absolutely ridiculous to say that there should be no training. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) urges that Australian men can fight just as well without any training - that they are the best fighting men in the world, and do not require training before going into the firing line. I am prepared to admit that there are thousands of splendid men in Australia, who have not had one moment’s training, but who, if put into the firing line with a rifle, would be just as effective as other men who have had twenty years’ training. At the same time, these men have to be got into the firing line; it is not a mere matter of “ right turn “ and “ left turn,” of which the honorable member spoke so much; there is the matter of discipline generally, and the “ interior economy,” as we call it, of those bodies.
– How long would it take to give the necessary tuition?
– A good deal depends on the men themselves. I admit that, in my opinion, it takes a much shorter period to train the average Australian than it does to train any other men in the world.
– I think the Americans would be just as good.
– I do not say anything about the Americans.
– Will the Minister indicate what would be the average time required to train a man and fit him for the trenches?
– It is impossible to say, broadly, how long, for the reason that it depends on how many trained and experienced men there are amongst those whom the recruit joins when he goes into the field. There is always a sprinkling of trained and experienced officers and non-commissioned officers already in the units. But if we were to take 10,000 men who had never heard a word of command, nor had any training - I include all the officers, noncommissioned officers, and men in that number - it would be years before we could evolve a decent force, no matter how intelligent they were. It takes years to make commissioned and noncommissioned officers fit to carry out operations successfully.
– Are we making commissioned and non-commissioned officers out of compulsory trainees?
– The graduates at the Duntroon College are boys who have come from all classes of society. They secure their positions at the college as the result of competitive examination, and when they leave they are supposed to be competent to trainthe young men of Australia. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman), who spoke about the college yesterday, will bear me out that it is not an institution merely for the sons of the rich. Boys are admitted there as the result of competitive examination and fitness. The honorable member for EdenMonaro has reason to be proud of his two boys who have graduated from Duntroon.
– The purpose of the college is to fit men who decide to make a life-long profession of military work.
– It is absolutely necessary that we should have men who make this work their profession ; otherwise we should not have competent instructors or officers to train men to take the field. When I first took up military work, I went into camp with some volunteers who were raised in the country. The whole regiment went into camp, and the men knew practically nothing about dis cipline or military work. As a consequence, it was perfectly amazing to hear the noise in that camp, with the shouting of orders and men calling out “ Sergeant This “ and “ Sergeant That.” I was acting in command of a brigade, and men used to come to me complaining that they had not received any sugar; others had received a double ration of bread and no tea. There was endless confusion. No one knew what had to be done. The life was worried out of the old instructors. And we had very goodinstructors ; if it had not been for them there would have been pandemonium. However, after successive years in camp, things got very much better. Each annual camp showed an improvement. I wish to show the value of training. When we were in the field we often received an order to be ready in two. hours to shift camp to some other spot. That meant shifting all transport, ambulance, guns, &c, but absolutely no noise was heard. All orders went out through the proper channels - in the first instance from myself to the brigademajor and from him to the staff-captain and quartermasters. The men would move out of camp without the slightest noise and take up their new position, and in a few minutes they would settle down as if they had been there for weeks. It is absolutely impossible to carry out such a movement with untrained men and without discipline. If this condition applies to a couple of thousand men, in the case of 60,000 or 100,000 men absolutely untrained themselves, and without experienced men among them, it would be a rabble, and if it were necessary for such a force to defend the country from an attack or to go anywhere else to fight it would only be to court disaster.
– Why did not all that happen during the last war?
– Every man who went to the war was trained to a certain extent.
– For how long?
– The First Division of the Australian Imperial Force was trained for months before going away, and in Egypt it was taken to Mena Camp and trained for months again before proceeding to Gallipoli.
– For months, but not for years.
– The honorable member is not fair in his criticism. These men were not absolutely on their own as untrained men. All the time there was among them a sprinkling of thoroughly trained soldiers, and the instructors were competent instructors. If the honorable member proposes to abolish all compulsory training in Australia - he says that all this “ Right “ and “ Left “ business and the shouting of orders is rubbish - he will soon find that all the men who have received some training have disappeared, and that there are no competent instructors alive. The only men available to defend Australia will be green men. No one will know anything about military work. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that we can put men into the field to fight under those conditions.
– The Minister is sidestepping the question.
– No. It is not so much a question of “ Right “ and “ Left” training. That is certainly part pf the drill, but every nation in the world applies practically the same kind of tanning which we adopt in Australia. I am surprised that any honorable member should say that a scheme which has been productive of so much good, the very excellent system brought into force under the auspices of the greatest soldier that the nation has seen, Lord Kitchener, is not a good one. Apparently honorable members opposite are going back on what they claimed some years ago, -when they urged that they were instrumental in introducing this system, and that it was productive of a great amount of good. Apart altogether from the military aspect, I think compulsory training has been productive of the very greatest amount of good among the youth of Australia. Some years ago there were in Sydney what were known as the Rocks push and the Woolloomoolloo push, a lot of larrikins who had formed themselves into pushes and proved a menace to the community, but a year or two after the introduction of compulsory training they were as fine a lot of lads as one could wish to see. I attended a dinner at the invitation of non-commissioned officers from the area known as the Rocks, and I was amazed at the splendid type of young fellows I saw. I was assured by several people that in the same area previously there had been nothing but a little mob of larrikins, yet after a couple of years of military training they were as keen as mustard on their work. Of course, a great deal depends upon the area officer. They had the services of one who used to encourage them by all sorts of games and competitions. As a matter of fact, they were able to win a big competition. Compulsory training is thus serving a useful purpose among the youth of Australia, and we must continue it unless we are to rely on the men who have been to the war, and have returned. Otherwise we shall have no force here to defend Australia if circumstances arise in which we are called upon to fight a foreign enemy. Who is to say that we shall not be obliged to do so?
– Does the Minister think that these boys will be able to defend Australia?
– Is the honorable member foolish enough to imagine that a boy always remains a boy? The time to impart instruction to a nian is when he is a boy. S’ome people hold that it is no longer necessary for Australia to have an effective military force, but I maintain that it is absolutely necessary for us to do everything in our power and within reason to maintain such an effective military force.
– What does the Minister mean by an effective military force?
– I cannot say what may be termed an effective military force for Australia, because we do not know what is in front of us. lt may be necessary for us to fight. We are anxious to avoid reference to international matters, but, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) knows, there may be a menace not very far away, and it would be a terrible thing if Australia were attacked by a foreign enemy and we were not able to put up some sort of defence through ceasing to maintain as effective a military force as possible.
Some people would lean on the League of Nations, saying that there is no further need for maintaining a military force and that expenditure on defence is useless. I am in favour of the League of Nations. I believe it may be productive of a great deal of good, and I would give it a trial, but I would not depend on it. I do not . believe it will prevent the resort to force between nations.
– It will probably cause a resort to force between nations.
– I do not know about that; but some years ago legislation was passed in the State Parliaments and in the Federal Parliament for the settlement of industrial disputes - for the prevention of a resort to force by employers and employees. It was even made compulsory that all disputes should be taken to the tribunals which were created under this legislation, and it was said that there could not be any further strikes, because all disputes were by force of law to be taken to the Arbitration Court and dealt with. The facts, however, are that after the introduction of this legislation for the creation of these tribunals there were in a given time 100 per cent, more strikes than had occurred before. If that legislation could not prevent a resort to force between employer and employee, I do not believe the League of Nations - which, in my opinion, is nothing more than a big Arbitration Court to prevent a resort to force between nations - will achieve the desired result. It is foolish to say that all compulsory training is so much rubbish, and is unnecessary, and that men can fight just as well without training. I admit that the untrained man is just as brave as the trained man, and if he can shoot at all is just as good a man with the rifle as the trained man when you get him into’ the line ; but there are the matters of discipline, interior economy, and mobility to be considered. Try to move 10,000 men previously untrained from one spot to another, with all their transport, guns, and ambulances, and they would develop into an absolute rabble - they could not be effectively moved. And what applies to 10,000 men applies tenfold to 100,01)0 men. We must have discipline and organization, and we must have men properly trained. It is also essential to maintain the fighting spirit in Australia. I do not believe in the militarism that obtained in Germany or, at all events, Prussia; but it it well that there should be engendered in the youth of Australia and kept alive in the people generally that spirit which will tend towards our effective defence if ever we should be attacked by a foreign foe. There are amongst us those who are and have been pacifists, and there are those who say, now that the war is over, “ Poor Germany ; let her up.” If I had my way there would be no letting up. On one occasion at the Front one of our Billjims was having a go with a Tommy. After a good rough-and-tumble, the Australian got his opponent down, and then our fellows, with their usual sense of fairness, shouted, “Let him up.” “Not much,” said the Australian, “I had a hell of a job to get him down.” So I say of the Germans; they are down now, and I would keep them down until they show contrition, and make reparation. If I .had knocked a maru down and out in a fair fight, I would be the first to offer to shake hands with him. But if I had fought a wild beast and got my foot on his neck, should I let him up to tear the vitals out of some one else? No; I would keep him down, and absolutely destroy him. Let honorable members mark my words. Germany is only watching and waiting for the day when she can revenge herself. Every shilling she can put aside for the purpose will be so used, though she may have to wait fifty or a hundred years for her opportunity. It behoves- us, therefore, to see that our military strength shall not dwindle away to nothing, and that we shall remain a virile nation. If we abolish compulsory military training, the day may come when we shall rue it, finding ourselves, as a people, absolutely undone for lack of defence.
.- I do not wonder, having heard his sentiments, that the Minister representing the Minister for Defence has little faith in the League of Nations. I have not much faith in it myself as a means of preventing war. But if the Governments of the nations of the world are actuated by views such as he has expressed, wars will never be abolished, and if the spirit that he wishes to inculcate is breathed into the Australian youths, this country will not wait for some one to attack it, it will look for a fight. The Minister told us that he was wholly opposed to what he termed the Prussian brand of militarism. But I shall show him that the compulsory training system is applying the Prussian system to the youths of Australia. Under , our Defence Act there is, and has been for a considerable time, a continuous persecution of lads in different parts of Australia. I have brought instances of this under the notice of members on two or three occasions, and I have now been again requested by the fathers of some of the lads in Broken Hill to mention it once more. Those who are protesting against the treatment which has been meted out to youngsters in that city are not my supporters, nor are they sympathetic wit.h my views, as I shall presently show. The Minister will not contend that the officer at Broken Hill is quite the saint that he pictured the Sydney Rocks area officer to be. This is a report appearing in the Barrier Miner - a newspaper whose, views are not generally in harmony with my own - on the 26th March last - .
In the Police Court to-day, before Mr. W. Le Brim Brown, S.M., a number of trainees were prosecuted by Lieutenant D. C. Jacob for breaches of the Defence Act.
Clement George Huckell pleaded guilty to a charge of having disobeyed an order while on parade on 17th March.
Lieutenant Jacob said that the defendant was cautioned about speaking in the ranks. He refused to stop when spoken to. There were four previous convictions against the defendant.
Defendant was fined 60s., ‘and ordered to pay 3s. costs, or undergo fifteen days’ detention.
The same defendant was further charged with failing to wear his uniform while on parade on 17th March. Defendant pleaded guilty.
The father of the lad shows in a letter that he has written that for about eighteen months his son had had no uniform supplied to him, although repeated applications had been made to the Department for one. On this occasion the lad had overslept himself, and grabbed the first clothes available before rushing to attenddrill. The report continues -
Lieutenant Jacob said the defendant was issued with a full equipment on October, 1919.
The defendant said that there were about a dozen boys on parade without uniforms, and that he was the only one summoned.
The magistrate said that was nothing to do with him, but told the defendant that he could report the matter to the military headquarters. A’ fine of 10s., with 3s. costs, or detention for seven days, was ordered.
Aubrey Keith Erickson pleaded guilty to a charge of having disobeyed an order while on parade on 17th March.
Lieutenant Jacob said that the defendant with Huckell refused to stop talking when told to do so by an officer. There were no previous convictions against the defendant.
Defendant was lined 20s., and ordered to pay 3s. ^ costs, or undergo seven days detention.
Samuel Townsend pleaded guilty to a- charge that on 13th February he did not return to custody when instructed.
Lieutenant Jacob said that on 13th February the defendant was sentenced to fourteen days’ detention. He was released temporarily, but failed to return. There were three previous convictions against the defendant. Defendant was fined 40s., and ordered to pay -3s. costs, or undergo ten days5 detention.
Harold Robert Williams pleaded guilty to a charge of having failed to attend a compulsory parade on 17th March.
Lieutenant Jacob said that the defendant had missed five compulsory parades and had been previously convicted for insolence and for having made use of indecent language. Defendant was ordered fourteen days’ detention, with the payment of 3s. costs or an additional day’s detention.
Williams was further charged with having failed to attend a compulsory parade on 21st February.
Lieutenant Jacob said that a sergeant.major while on the way to the parade ground told the defendant to go to the parade, but the defendant failed to put in an appearance.
The magistrate said that he did not think that it was par.t of the duty of a sergeantmajor to tell trainees in the street that they had to go to parades.
Lieutenant Jacob: The fact remains that he did not. go to drill.
The Magistrate: That is so; but I cannot take notice of the other facts. Defendant is ordered into custody for three days, and must pay 3s. costs or undergo an additional day’s detention.
Ronald William .Kilsby, pleaded guilty to a charge of having failed to attend a compulsory parade on 17th March.
Lieutenant Jacob said the defendant had missed three compulsory parades.
Defendant was ordered seven’ days’ detention and the payment, of 3s. coats - in default, an additional day’s detention.
Robert Samuel Robinson pleaded guilty to a charge of having failed to obey the lawful command of an officer on 17th March.
Lieutenant Jacob said the defendant was given an order three times and disobeyed the officer three times. There were three previous convictions. He asked the magistrate to order detention without the option of a fine. The defendant had always found money to pay the fine.
Defendant was fined 60s., and ordered to pay 3s. costs, or undergo detention for fifteen days.
On the application of Lieutenant Jacob five charges were withdrawn.
Two charges were heard» in the Children’s Court, the boys being under the age of sixteen.
This is the report of what took place in the Children’s Court -
In the Children’s Court to-day, before Mr. M. H. Cleeve, Acting S.M., a small boy appeared, charged on the information of Lieutenant D. C. Jacob, with having disobeyed a lawful command. The evidence for the prosecution was that the defendant repeatedly put his hand on his shoulder and refused to move it when spoken to. The defendant said that his clothing was loose, and that he had his hand up to keep a portion of the clothing in its place.
The magistrate dismissed the information, but cautioned the defendant.
Another defendant was charged with having attended late for parade. The defence was that the mother of the boy was ill, and he could not leave home earlier.
As a matter of fact, the boy had to look after his mother, who was ill, the father being away. For being late on parade he was called before the Children’s Court by this Australian exponent of Prussianism -
The magistrate dismissed the prosecution, and told the boy to attend on time in future.
To show that the complaints against these prosecutions are coming from persons whose political and economic views differ from my own, and who are not anti-militarist, let me quote this letter.
Sir. - I notice by Friday’s issue of the Miner that several lads have been prosecuted for “ breaches of the Defence Act.” May I have the opportunity of expressing my opinion in regard to these prosecutions, which are becoming all too frequent.
Case 1 : ‘ Disobeying an order “ by “ speaking in the ranks.” - What a monstrous crime for which the military-made criminal ( ?) has to pay £3 3s. in hard cash or be detained in slavish subjugation to his prosecutors for fifteen days. Just fancy £3 3s. in these hard times for the privilege of using one’s own tongue for the purpose it was intended.
Case 2 (same defendant) : Charged with failing to wear his uniform while on parade. - Fined 10s., costs 3s., or seven days’ detention. Thus one lad for the trumpery offence (?) of wearing his own clothes and saying a few- words is penalized to the extent of £3 lGs.
Case 3 : Another case of “ talking,” but as he was otherwise a good boy his “ talk “ cost him only 23s. Yet these are loyal young Australians; but when sedition-mongers take possession of the people’s parks and “ talk “ sedition, Bolshevism, anti-patriotism, strike, and stagnation for an hour or two in open defiance of a clearly-defined law, a ridiculous fine of 5s. is imposed.
The writer i3 hardly sympathetic with my views, and is likely to be impartial in regard to the prosecutions that he criticises.
Case 4: “Failed to return to custody when instructed.” - In this case “ failure to return “ cost the delinquent 43s., or ten days. It would be interesting to know what this trainee had been doing during his first period of detention.
Cases 5, 6, and 7, for want of space, I will pass over.
Case 8 : “ Disobedience to an officer.” - Now, who was the “ officer ?” Was he some boy N.C.O., who, dressed in a little brief authority, gave an order for the sake of impressing his own superiority ( ? ) upon his unfortunate mates?1 This is often the case, and when the tell-tale juvenile N.C.O. complains to the chief inflictor of unnecessary and unmerited punishment, a prosecution (or is it persecution) results.
And the prosecuting officer asked that detention be imposed without the- option of a fine. Had the magistrate given way on this point, what an opportunity for a man armed with full legal powers to lead this lad a dog’s life for two or three weeks! The defendant in this case has to increase the revenue by £3 3s., or suffer persecution for fifteen days.
When will parents and electors generally take heed of these tilings, these glaring miscarriages of justice, these Court farces which are a disgrace to Australia? That loyal Australian youths should have to appear in the Police Court to answer such trumpery charges and to be heavily fined or detained by force (practically gaoled) is a disgrace to any country pretending to be called “ free.” What a spectacle to see ! One week enemies- of our land and Empire who refuse to submit to any law but mob law are fined os. for a distinct breach of the law. Next week loyal Australian boys are ordered “ detention “ for “ breaches of the Defence Act.” Methinks the Defence Act is so - full of “’ breaches “ that it should have been in the waste-paper basket long ago. I would suggest that all parents of boys should take this matter up, and by constitutional means wipe out the clauses of the Defence Act that practically mean boy conscription, and set the boys free. - I am, &c,
A Loyal Australian.
– Wipe out all punishments, and we shall have a nice Force.
– That is a matter to be dealt with by the Assistant Minister, who is a believer in militarism. The honorable gentleman must recognise that the sentiments expressed by the writer of the letter I have quoted are not mine; they are written by a man who signs himself “A Loyal Australian,” and he draws a distinction between men who voice in the - parks and streets of Broken Hill opinions such as I hold and these boys who commit minor offences against the Defence Act. He points out that men whom he regards as a menace to the Empire are let off with a paltry fine or 5s., whilst his son and other boys who are said to be loyal young Australians are heavily fined.
– The moral is that the honorable member ought to have been fined more heavily.
– I have not been fined at all. The Government took good care that I was sent to gaol without any option. However, whilst I do not mind a joke at my own expense, these punishments are no joke for the lads or their parents.
– Does the honorable member object to the excess of punishment, pr to the punishment itself 1
– I object to any individual having power to persecute these lads in the vindictive manner that has been characteristic of these officers at Broken Hill.
– Does the honorable member say that the Area Officer should not be allowed to punish them at all?
– I object to the whole system. Under no system of training men or boys is such persecution justified.
– If the honorable member can point out one case in which an Area Officer has persecuted any boy, I will have him “ sacked “ at once.
– I have read to the Committee a list of cases.
– That is merely a statement by the honorable member’s friend and correspondent that the boys are suffering persecution.
– He is no friend of mine. That letter proves his bona fides as a member of the National party. Some of his sentiments certainly tally with the Nationalist election propaganda in my electorate. This is not the first occasion on which this matter has been ventilated in this , Chamber; lots of promises have been made by Ministers in regard to various abuses, but the fact remains that the military staff are the people whose determinations are carried out irrespective of what Minister is in office. The administration of the Defence Act, so far, has shown that the military authorities are determined, whether or not the people like it, to im pose their ideas of militarism upon the children of this country. The Assistant Minister himself has spoken of the necessity for discipline, and for training the children when young, and inculcating in them the principles of unquestioning obedience. The cases I have read to the Committee axe the result. I am not a militarist, and no vote of mine will ever be given, at any rate while the present order of society continues, to help any military establishment in this or any other country.
– That is all right, as long as there is no military establishment in any other country.
– No system of military defence that could be devised could carry the weight of the persecution of youngsters that has taken place in Broken Hill. If the Assistant Minister values the position he occupies, and wishes to deal fairly with these children and their parents, who are not political supporters of mine, he will not wait to be supplied with charges, but will cause an immediate investigation into the cases that have been published broadcast, in order to establish what has been the practice in that military area. The facts cannot be denied. *
– If the Germans had reached Australia they would have made the honorable member do the goose-step.
– In all probability they would not have been friends of mine, but would have associated with the Minister and his kind. I have listened to speeches by the Assistant Minister for Defence in denunciation of Prussianism and militarism, but I fail to distinguish between the German and the local exponents of militarism.
.- This Bill will authorize the first expenditure in tha financial year 1920-21 for which we have not, and cannot yet have, a Budget. The voting of the amount specified in the Bill will enable the Government to pay the salaries of the Public Service that will be due in July. I should like the Acting-Treasurer to say whether any increases of salary will be paid from this grant.
– I quite expected that answer. As the House is about to adjourn for a few weeks, it is necessary that the Government should receive parliamentary authority to pay the salaries of the Civil Service. Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) whether the Government would instruct the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) not to negotiate for or contract any loans on behalf of the Commonwealth during his present visit to Europe. I suppose that the Prime Minister regarded it as impertinence on the part of an ordinary member to ask such a question, which concerns a matter of Government policy. At any rate, he answered me in a very abrupt fashion. In asking the question I had in mind a policy that would be of material benefit to the Commonwealth. Since the armistice, and particularly this year, there has been a remarkable rush on the part of the public of Great Britain to’ enter into investments and start new industries. For these and for other purposes there has been a very large call upon the credit of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer recently submitted a Budget which will make a very heavy levy upon the taxpayers, yet, with all the proposed taxation, the revenue of the Imperial Government will fall short of expenditure by approximately £533,000,000. The Bank of England was forced to raise the interest rate to 7£ per cent. - that was the figure for last March - a higher rate than was charged during the late war, or, I believe, at any period in the history of England. The charging of such a high rate of interest on. even gilt-edged securities was not for the purpose of earning more money, but in order to check the demand upon the credit of the country.- I am satisfied that the Prime Minister is not possessed of all this information, because his multitudinous duties prevent him making a special study of financial questions. I consider it very injudicious for Australia to go upon the British money market at the present time. During the war there was no other means of raising the money necessary to carry on military operations, but now that the war is over we should seriously consider the inauguration of a new era in which we shall discontinue foreign borrowing. Of course, if the raising of additional money is essential, and time will not permit of taxation being levied to meet our war debts, we should, before approaching the markets of the Old World, thoroughly tap the monetary resources of Australia. It does not require a gigantic intelligence to understand that loans which are raised in Australia are locally controlled, and the interest upon them is circulated amongst the community. In a short space of time the community returns that interest to the coffers of the monetary institutions. When we float a loan on the London market, we cannot go to the Port Phillip or Sydney Heads, and watch a steamer come in with the money on board. The loan is arranged by means of the exchange of goods, or by meeting existing credits. One of the chief causes of the high cost of living today is the high rate of exchange. There is only one way by which we can hope to get rid of that evil, and that is by lessening our imports. The Government should endeavour, as far as possible, to reduce imports into Australia. Any attempt of the kind would, of course, meet with a good deal of opposition. In the main streets of all our bi» cities, we see goods exposed for sale at almost fabulously high prices. These prices are obtained because of a notion on the part of many people that they must dress according to the latest fashion. Even articles of the flimsiest character, merely because they happen to be of a fashionable colour, realize phenomenal prices. There are half-a-dozen persons wanting the one class of article, and the owner is therefore able to obtain a fabulous price for it.
I think the House will share my view that the Government should be instructed not to raise any further loans abroad until they have exhausted the opportunities which the Australian money market offers. During the last five years, we have been raising loans in Australia. Every one knows that a Government loan at 5 per cent, is regarded in financial circles as a gilt-edged security. I do not think that, during the war, we could have raised money at a lower rate of interest. But what is the position with which we are now confronted ? Five years hence we shall have to redeem a loan of £25,000,000, and in 1927 we shall be called upon to redeem a loan of £80,000,000. Each of these loans bears interest at the rate of 5£ per cent., and is exempt from income tax. We cannot afford to continue paying such a high rate of interest as we had necessarily to pay in war time. We had then to offer special inducements to secure the money we wanted; but I do not think any one dreamt of a company subscribing £2,500,000 in respect of one loan, and thus, allowing for the income tax exemption, securing a return on its investment of from 7½ to8 per cent. How can we expect the country to progress if it is to go on borrowing money at such high rates of interest? If the Government are alive to their responsibilities, they will take steps as soon as the opportunity offers to relieve the people of the burden which these high rates of interest involve. After the Napoleonic wars the indebtedness of Great Britain was about £800,000,000. To-day it is £8,000,000,000 ; but the production of Great Britain is very much greater. Following upon the Napoleonic wars Great Britain, as its loans fell due, converted them into stock, bearing interest at a fixed rate, and redeemable by the Government at any time. We should do something in the same direction. The question is one that ought not to be treated in an off-hand way. We are living to-day on borrowed money ; but there must come a time when borrowing must cease, just as the time must come when we must pay off our war indebtedness. I am not in the secrets of the Cabinet, but I hope that in the next Budget provision will be made for wiping out our existing loans. The British Government proposes to wipe out about £500,000,000 of its war indebtedness. We in Australia should also be able to reduce our war debt to a very considerable extent, even if we have to resort to a tax on wealth, or a levy on capital, in order to do so. Once we get back to our pre-war position we shall be able to reduce our taxation, and shall have an era of real prosperity. But so long as our war debts exist, and so long as the people have to find the money to pay the heavy interest bills which they involve, we cannot hope to make much progress. The money that is being collected from the people to meet our interest charges ought to be going into our primary and secondary industries, and so increasing our production.
I rose chiefly to explain the object I had in view in putting to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the question which he answered so abruptly this afternoon. I recognise now that I could have so framed it as to make it impossible for the right honorable gentleman to answer it so abruptly. In the latest issue of The Times to hand it is stated that the Bank of England has raised its interest rate to over 7 per cent., which is a higher level than was even reached during the war period. The Bank of England has raised its rate really with the object of putting an end to speculative loans, and the same principle would apply equally well to Dominion loans.
– How does the honorable member make that out?
– Dominion loans cover longer periods than do those made in respect of British investments. The honorable gentleman must know that shortdated loans do not carry such high rates of interest as are demanded in respect of long-dated loans floated at Home for investment purposes beyond Great Britain. I hope that honorable members will give some consideration to my remarks; but, in any event, I am satisfied that the general public who read them in Hansard will recognise that there is an opportunity for the Government to do something to improve our position, and to relieve us of much that was necessary for the protection of our country during the war .
Mr.CORSER (Wide Bay) [5.19].- I wish to call attention to a matter of vital importance to the Commonwealth. I refer to the cotton industry. I have just received the report of the Bureau of Science and Industry for April last, and I am rather surprised that it does not give more information in connexion with this burning question. A little while ago, I suggested to the Government that a pamphlet should be issued for the information of those who were growing, or seeking to grow, cotton in Queensland and elsewhere. There are, no doubt, enormous areas of land suitable for the purpose; and the idea that cotton cannot be produced in the Commonwealth because of the high wages is quite exploded by information received from America and other countries, and quoted in the beforementioned report. It is there stated that, at the close of November, 1919, cotton pickers in the State of Texas were receiving from $3 to $3.50 for each 100 lbs. of cotton seed picked.
– Is the work not all done by niggers?
– There is only one place where it is done by niggers, elsewhere only white men are employed; and my contention is that this industry can be profitably carried on by white labour. It is stated in the report, on good authority, that a man can easily pick by hand from. 200 lbs. to 300 lbs. per day, showing a very good return for the worker ; indeed, it is stated that many of those employed have picked as much as 500 lbs. in a day, showing that this is not a black man’s industry, but one for white men. Further, just as women and children engage in fruit-picking in Tasmania, they can engage in cotton-seed picking.
– We do not desire to have that class of labour introduced into this country.
– We do not; but I am showing that the work can be done by women and children.
– I should say that the picking of 500 lbs. a day is an extreme performance.
– My authority is the Bureau report, which I ask honorable members to read, and judge for themselves. In some parts of the United States, the cotton picking extends from ninety days up to six months, so that it affords pretty constant employment ; then the cotton is not all picked off the cotton bush in one picking, but very often extends to three and, in some cases up to five pickings, the cotton not flowering and ripening all at once.
I had some experience of this industry in Queensland at the time of the Civil War in America, when we were called upon to help making good the world’s shortage, and when companies, in what is now my own electorate, produced cotton very profitably. When the Civil War was over, the price of labour went down very much indeed, and coloured labour was called upon for the greater part of the work. That is not so to-day, and as circumstances have so altered, I feel that we should do everything possible to establish this industry on a white-labour basis.
– Do you not think that the producers would presently ask for a big duty ?
– I do not. If the Government were to extend the bonus from three years to six in order to encourage planting, I think that would prove all that is necessary. Honorable members can realize what an advantage it would be to us to produce a sufficient quantity of cotton, even for our own requirements.
– Do you think that Queensland is suitable for cottongrowing?
– Yes ; and also many other parts of the Commonwealth. I saw it grown profitably in Queensland when prices were not so low as they subsequently became after the Civil War. I desire particularly to call attention to the fact that, although this Bureau of Science and Industry was designed to co-operate with similar institutions in the different States, that co-operation is not carried on in a business way. At the present time, I have a letter in my possession which shows that when a person engaged by the Queensland Bureau wrote to the Bureau in Melbourne asking for certain information, the reply was that he had better apply to his own Bureau. As the Queensland Bureau had employed this gentleman to obtain the information, the reply, I think, was a most peculiar one, showing that there is something wrong, although the information in the April number is valuable, and I hope that the Government and the Bureau of Science and Industry will get into touch with the Queensland Bureau and the bureaux of other States, with a view to the establishment of the cotton-growing industry. A large number of people in Queensland are taking the matter up, and, with very little encouragement, they would grow cotton successfully, and create a wonderful asset for the Commonwealth.
.- I take this opportunity to ask the Government to do something to promote the spread of technical education. This could be done, I think, by supplementing the State grants, with great benefit to the Commonwealth as a whole. We have a Bureau of Science and Industry, but I doubt whether it will do as much in the way of the technical training of the youth of our country as would the adoption of the suggestion I have made, and the placing of a sum on the Estimates for the purpose.
. -I desire to call attention to the utterly inadequate remuneration which isgiven to those in charge of allowance post offices, especially in outlying districts. This urgent matter has been referred to by other honorable members, and I must add my voice to theirs, for these allowance officers suffer great disadvantages and deserve the support and encouragement of the Government. I know that every one of them is supposed to be also engaged in some other occupation, but that is not so in every case. There are places where it is impossible to obtain storekeepers to carry on the work, and others are keeping the offices going at rates not at all commensurate with their duties. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise), according to an answer to a question he gave, has this matter under consideration, and I hope exceptional cases will meet with justice.
I have had sent to me, in common,I suppose, with other honorable members, a communication from the Council of Public Service Associations, enclosing a resolution passed by it last evening. The communication is -
Melbourne, 20th May, 1920.
I have the honour by direction to bring under your notice the resolution set out hereunder adopted last evening at the meeting of this council, which represents the following Public Service organizations: -
The Federated Public Service Assistants Association.
The General Division Telephone Officers Association.
Post and Telegraph Association.
Commonwealth Postmasters Association.
Australian Letter-carriers Association.
Postal Linemen’s Union.
General Division Officers Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
Postal Electricians Union.
Postal Sorters Union.
Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Commonwealth Artisans Association.
The resolution has been forwarded to all members of the National Parliament- Senate and House of Representatives.
As the matter is a most urgent one, we trust that you will assist us by having the resolution placed before the House praying the Government to’ take immediate action.
That this meeting of representatives of executives of Public Service organizations registers its most emphatic protest against the unconscionable delay in dealing with the Public Service cases now pending, and urges the Government to expedite the hearing.
I recognise the urgency and justice of the claim made and I take this opportunity to have this communication recorded in Hansard. We members of this House, or some of us, recently expressed the opinion that we are entitled to an increase of salary. What happened ? On the day the matter was brought up, two notices of motion and two orders of the day were postponed in order that we might discuss the proposal. We can rush the business when our own salaries are concerned, and I do not see why we cannot be as expeditious in the interests of the public servants. I understand that today a measure is to be introduced to provide for an increase in the parliamentary allowance. We, it appears, can make a claim, and get it carried into effect by Act of Parliament within a week, whereas the Public Service organizations have to wait week after week and month after month. I hopethe members of Parliament who are so careful to look after themselves will be just as careful in expeditiously looking after the claims of our employees. We. as members, receive £12 a week, but the public servants receive considerably less ; and 1 hope that we shall show ourselves other than selfish, and expedite the consideration of their claims.
.- I hope that some of the £40,000 set down for contingencies for the Department of the Postmaster-General will be devoted towards paying increased allowances to mail contractors in the drought-stricken areas of western New South Wales. Apparently many honorable members are not fully acquainted with the seriousness of the position in that part of the Commonwealth, which is suffering from the most disastrous drought ever experienced in the State. All sections of the community are affected, and the mail contractors are no exception to the rule; but while it is impossible for this Commonwealth Parliament to give relief to all sections of the people who are suffering, immediate relief can be given to the mail contractors. I feel sure that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) believes that these men have been fairly treated because an increased allowance was paid to them last year, but if he is of that opinion it is only because he is not conversant with the true facts of the situation. I have received numerous letters on this subject. The following is one I received only to-day: -
I would respectfully ask you to make inquiries into the very unfair treatment which I have had meted out to meby the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in connexion with the running of the Wellington-Parkes mail. In 1918 I was running this mail and was making a fair living, and put in a tender for 1919 at an increase of £28. This was based on the increased cost of living, and in making up my price I based it on the price of fodder at that time, as per List No. 1. Late in 1919, on account of the greatly increased price of fodder, an allowance of £11 18s. 2d. was made to me, while other contractors, with much smaller mail contracts, received far greater allowances. On the 29th December, 1919, I wrote, asking why I was only allowed this small amou nt, and received a reply dated l5th January, 1920, from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, stating that as my price for 1919 had been increased by £28, 1 had presumably made this increase to meet the rise in fodder, and thereforeI had received better treatment than the other mail contractors. Now, is it at all feasible that such a difference in the price of fodder as shown by List No. 1 attached would be covered by a sum of £28? … I only want fairness; I am willing to work as hard as any man, but at present it is costing me £37 a month to run my mail contract, and under present conditions I cannot carry on. I might add that I lost £124 7s. in 1919.
The letter received from the Deputy Postmaster-General was as follows : -
In reply to your letter dated 29th December, 1919, I have to inform you that the 1919 price of theWellington-Parkes mail service was £28 higher than in 1918, an increase of about 13 per cent., and as you. held the service up to the end of 1918 and presumably raised your price for 1919 to meet the increased prices of fodder, you have actually been better treated than the others, as the remuneration paid to you for 1919 was about18 per cent, higher than that for 1918, whilst the others received only a 15 per cent, increase.
My correspondent has attached what he refers to as List No. 1. It is as follows : -
August, 1918, when I contracted - Chaff,5s. 9d. cwt.; corn, 5s. 9d. cwt.; oats, 4s. cwt.; bran,1s.1d. cwt., with grass.
November, 1919, when allowance was made - Chaff,14s. cwt.; corn, 9s. 9d. cwt.; oats, (is. 6d. cwt.; bran,1s. 9d. cwt., with grass unprocurable.
Present prices - Chaff, 17s. cwt.; corn, 12s. cwt.; oats, 8s. cwt.; bran, 2s. 3d. cwt. No grass.
There has been an increasein the price of chaff of from5s. 9d. per cwt. to 17s. per cwt., yet the Department say that this man has been generously treated by actually making him an allowance of £1118s. 2d. to assist in making up his deficiency. I know that the Department say that special cases will be treated on their merits, but if a special case is sent along to them a reply comes to hand in a week or two to say that an allowance was made on such and such a date, referring to the 1919 allowance, and under the circumstances no further allowance can be made. This inflicts a severe injustice on the mail contractors and settlers in the droughtstricken areas. If a mail is to be delivered to these settlers, if the avenues of communication are to be kept open, and if these people are to be kept in touch with civilization, the Postal Department must be more generous and must pay a greater allowance to the mail contractors. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to carry on. This afternoon the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) advised the Postmaster-General to visit Sydney. I recommend the Minister and a few of his colleagues to travel through the drought-stricken areas of New South Wales and see the conditions with which the men and women there have to contend. Let them visit those districts where chaff is selling at l7s. per cwt., and where millions of stock are dying, and men are giving away their horses or shooting them rather than trying to keep them alive. They would know something of the conditions prevailing, and not only would see that the grievance of these mail contractors is removed, but also would expedite the matter of making use of the services of some of the Commonwealth steamers in the coastal trade in order to remove the surplus fodder of Western Australia and South Australia. In the ports of these States there are thousands of tons of chaff awaiting shipment to drought-stricken areas; it may be bought at a reasonable rate, and would assist in relieving the distress that now exists. I hope that the Postmaster-General will take notice of this matter, and see that his Department does not make use of the stereotyped reply that an allowance was made in 1919. That allowance does not cover the present circumstances, and therefore I hope the Department will adopt a different policy, and give some measure of relief to the mail contractors and those other people whose claims I have mentioned.
.- I wish to follow up the remarks of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) in reference to the inadequate allowance to some of our postal officials. The following memorandum has just been sent to a semi-official postmistress : -
I have to inform you that your term of office as semi-official postmistress has been extended for a period of one year from the 24th July, . 1920.Your allowancewill be at the rate of £204 per annum, madeup as follows : -
You will receive1d. per payment for workin connexion with work for military allotments (Any assistance required in this regard must be met out of this allowance). The usual agreement will in due course be forwarded to you for execution.
This country town post-office, which is doing a fair amount of business, is expected to be run at a cost of £204 per annum, but the postmistress is to be paid less than £2 per week, and the agreement between her and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral states that she must give the whole of her time to the performance of her duties. It is an instance of sweating on the part of the Department. I know that it is particularly hard for the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) to carry on with the funds placed at his disposal up to date, but it would benefit the whole community if these allowance officers were put on a better salary, and given more opportunities of advancement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I move -
That the proposed vote, £4,780, for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, be reduced by £1, with a view to testing the feeling of the Committee as to whether the provisions of the Moratorium Act should be extended.
If the Government will consent to extend the protection afforded by the Moratorium Act until Parliament re-assembles I amcontent to let the matter go for the moment, and the House can decide the question when it meets again.
– When does the Act expire ?
– On the 30th June.
– It has been gradually expiring for a long time, and entirely ceases to have effect on the 30th June.
– If the Government will continue the protection afforded by the Act–
– They cannot.
– The War Precautions Act has as much force to-day as it had when the first regulation was issued under it. Had it not been that the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) told the House that, as peace was about to be declared, if we extended the moratorium for twelve months instead of six months, as was proposed, we would jeopardize its validity, members would have voted for the longer period. I am moving in this matter not, as the Prime Minister suggested last evening, because of the drought. The war has brought about an absolutely unprecedented state of the money marketin Australia, and the difficulties thus occasioned’ have been accentuated by one of the worst droughts in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania that those States have ever known.
– And one of the longest.
– Yes. In no other drought have the primary producers suffered such losses. The total wealth of Australia is estimated at about £1,760,000,000, of which the value of private lands and the improvements on them is about £1,106,000,000. It is not possible to obtain statistics regarding the mortgages in force to-day, but I believe that between £300,000,000 and £500,000,000 has been advanced on mortgage in respect of the £1,106,000,000 worth of private lands. Before the war money was advanced on mortgage by the ordinary banks, the Savings Banks, the insurance companies, and the trustee associations and very large sums were sent from Great Britain, where the rate of interest was from 2¾ to 3¼ percent., to be invested here at from 4 to 4½ per cent. The borrowing of the Commonwealth Government for war purposes has all but completely dried up the sources from which money could be obtained on mortgage. Over £140,000,000 has been put into war loans. Had anyone before the war ventured to predict that this country could have made that magnificent contribution for its own defence he would not have been credited.
– Do you say that it is difficult to borrow money on mortgage security to-day ?
– Yes, and often impossible. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) said some time ago that if I would bring to him any mortgage proposal offering a reasonable security he would get the money for me. I took to him a proposal in regard to which the property offered for security had been valued by the valuer of the Commonwealth Bank at £16,500, and the manager of the Bank had verified that valuation. I went to the honorable member for Kooyong with the proposal to borrow £9,000 on the security of that property, paying 6 or 7 per cent, interest, but at the end. of three weeks the honorable member had to tell me that it was impossible to get the money in Mel-‘ bourne. In every town in Australia today men are walking from place to place trying to borrow money on mortgage, and failing to do so, because the money is notavailable The manager of one of the big insurance companies, told me the other day that for more than two years his company had not lent ls. on mortgage, the whole of its surplus funds being put into the war loans. The insurance companies, especially the National Mutual and the Australian Mutual Provident societies, and the Savings Banks put very large sums into the war loans. The members of the Country party are receiving floods of urgent telegrams from all parts of Australia, especially from New South Wales and Queensland, urging them to get the moratorium extended because of the impossibility of renewing loans. Money is to-day as dear in England as it is in Australia. In innumerable cases operations have been suspended under the belief that Parliament would before now have taken steps in the direction I suggest. I have’ gone into this matter as closely as I could, and if my estimate of the amount of money now out on mortgage is anything like correct, as great a financial disaster as ever occurred in any country will ‘ occur in Australia if the moratorium is lifted completely on the 30th June. There is not a bank in Australia that to-day will advance money on mortgage; they will give only overdrafts, which can be called up without notice.
– It is not their business to lend money on mortgage.
– That is so; but the Savings Bank used to lend a very considerable amount on mortgage. They received enormous sums of money, the result of the economy of workers and persons with small incomes, and these were let out at interest on mortgage; but for the last two or three years this money, together with that of the trustee associations and of the insurance companies, has been put into war loans. One does not care to say these things, but it is use less to try to hide facts, and we know that the last loan “hung fire” to a certain extent, and was completely covered only under the threat of compulsion. The banks will tell you to-day that, believing that another forced loan is coming, they have to make provision for it.
– There is nearly £30,000,000 more in the Savings Banks to-day than there was in 1914.
– In cash or in bonds? Practically the whole of the deposits in the Savings Banks have been put into the war loans.
– Money cannot be at the banks and in war loans at the same time.
– i think that the Minister does not mean that there has been an actual increase in cash deposits to the extent he has named. Prom inquiries that I have made I know, and the figures of the Savings Banks show, how greatly their resources have been drawn on to support the war loans and the peace loan. Attention has been drawn to the hardship that will be inflicted 011 mortgagees if they cannot recover what they have advanced, but it must be remembered that the rates of interest were increased. For example, on amounts exceeding £5,000, the rate of interest was made 6 per cent, under the moratorium, so that the mortgagee is getting 1£ per cent, more than he contracted for. It is not a good thing for Parliament to interfere, in ordinary times, in matters of this kind, but the war has upset the financial, social, political, and industrial equilibrium of the world, and conditions now cannot be compared with those of pre-war days. The hardship inflicted on the mortgagee who is compelled to leave his money out at interest is not so great as that which would be inflicted on the men whose homes would have to be sold up if the advances made to them were recalled.
– Who are appealing to Parliament for relief ?
– Appeals have come from the honorable member’s district.
– Not one.
– We have received several urgent telegrams.
– None has come to me.
– And you have not had any from my district.
– I cannot say. Telegrams have come to us from farmers’ organizations all over Australia.
– Prom Queensland?
– From what part of Queensland ?
– The last I received came yesterday and was from Toowoomba.
– Toowoomba is not Queensland.
– I passed over the Darling Downs a few days ago and the country was in a worse condition than I have ever seen it in. There were men who told me that they had saved nothing off their properties for two and a half years. I mention that fact to illustrate the extraordinary position in which some men are placed. If the mortgages are called up, the money is not available to replace them.
– The States have a legal right to attend to this matter.
– So has the Commonwealth.
– That is questionable.
– When the Labour Government, led by the present Prime Minister, was in power, Parliament passed a Moratorium Bill. Later, by regulations under the War Precautions Act, the moratorium was extended. I am now asking the Committee to agree to a further extension over the period of the forthcoming adjournment of Parliament. If the House were not about to adjourn, I would not adopt this course, but I am afraid that, unless some steps are taken now, many people will be sold up between now and the’ re-assembling of Parliament. I am asking the Committee to instruct the Government to protect the borrower until Parliament meets again, when Parliament itself may decide the issue, not by any regulation under the War Precautions Act, but by a deliberate enactment. That is a fair and reasonable proposal. In various ways I have tried to bring this matter before the House. A notice of motion which I had upon the businesspaper I have withdrawn in order to raise the issue to-day. My apprehension in regard to the termination of the moratorium applies not only to the country but also to the town. I know of men who bought homes in towns and paid down £300 or £400, and have mortgages of several hundreds of pounds. It will be just as difficult for those men to get other money if the present mortgages are called up as it will be for men on the land who owe larger sums.
– It is a question of price.
– it is . not. i know of men who have offered 7 per cent, interest for a renewal of mortgages. Very few will say that that is not a sufficient rate of interest to be paid by a man on the land.
– It is too much to pay on a mortgage.
– Money cannot be obtained for less.
– It can.
– I am prepared to hand over to the honorable member certain properties on which loans are required, as I did to the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), who after endeavouring for three weeks, failed to raise the money. I have interviewed managers and directors of banks in order to ascertain, the state of the money market, and they have told me that the market is tighter than they have ever known it, although there is. more money afloat. That contradictory state of affairs is, I believe, due to the inflation of the paper currency. When men in different States are seeking in vain to renew giltedged security mortgages at 7 per cent., it is time for this Parliament to act as it is doing . in connexion with very many other matters. This is as much the aftermath of the war as is the care of maimed soldiers. It is better that a number of men should be compelled to allow their mortgages to continue beyond the contract period than that one man, let alone possibly thousands, should be sold up on account of mortgage money that cannot be replaced. I have tried to state the case as fairly as I could, and I ask the Committee to agree to this motion as an intimation to the Government that they must protect these people until Parliament re-assembles’.
– The honorable member for Franklin made out a pitiful case, which, if it were correct in every particular, would stagger the country. But is there not, after all, just a little exaggeration in his statement - as, for instance, when the honorable member referred to mortgages to the amount of £300,000,000 to £500,000,000 being affected by the moratorium ?
– I stated that the mortgages on the real estate of Australia amounted to between £300,000,000 and £500,000,000.
– And the infer.ence was that a great proportion of that amount would be affected by the honorable member’s proposal.
– Some of it would.
– But fortunately only a relatively small proportion. The case is bad enough; no good is done by ‘ exaggerating it and making it appear worse. In the first place, these cases to which the honorable member has referred must be very few by this time, and confined to certain areas in the Commonwealth, because I understand that ever since the outbreak of war the mortgagee has had the right to contract himself out of these obligations.
– I believe that has been done in every case.
– Any lawyer of repute will tell the Acting -Treasurer that a man cannot contract himself out of a legal obligation.
– Lawyers of repute have assured me that mortgagees have contracted themselves out of these obligations in nearly every case. Indeed, it has been almost impossible to borrow money without such a clause being included in the mortgage. That being the case, the farmers will not’ be benefited very much if the moratorium be extended. A good case could be made out on the other side, but I shall not attempt to make it out. I am looking at the matter in the gravest possible light, but there are more difficulties in the way of a renewal of the moratorium than in the way of taking other steps to give relief to the farmers.
– What do the Government propose to do?
– We propose to discuss with the State Premiers the whole of. the facts and their gravity, and the continuance of the drought, and with a keen desire to improve the situation in every possible way. That, after all, is more likely to lead to something of (practical value being done than would any steps to enforce the continuance of the moratorium. In those circumstances, I suggest that honorable members might very well let this matter pass, accepting my assurance that it will be discussed with the representatives of the States at the forthcoming Conference of Premiers.
– I wish to deal with the very important issue raised’ yesterday by the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) in relation to the conveyance of fodder to starving stock. I promised yesterday that I would get into communication with the manager of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers, with a view to seeing what relief could be given. I have discussed the situation with Admiral Clarkson and Mr. Eva, and I now desire to put the Committee in possession of the facts. Honorable members will admit that the facts are a little surprising in view of the continuous demands that have been made that Commonwealth vessels should’ be made available for this work. Three of the Commonwealth steamers are now engaged, and have been engaged for a considerable time, in bringing phosphatic rock from Ocean Island to Australia, without which the farmer could not carry on his operations. No other vessels are available for the purpose, and practically the whole of Australia’s requirements in phosphatic rock are carried by the Commonwealth steamers. A fourth vessel of the Commonwealth Line, the. Bulga, is now on its first visit to Ocean Island, and will return to Australia with a cargo of phosphatic rock. The second three vessels built in Australia are now employed solely on the coast. Thus are seven of our vessels accounted for. In addition, the ex -enemy vessels Goo-ee and Parattah were allocated to the coastal trade In December last. That accounts for nine vessels. The tenth, the wooden steamer Bundarra, is now loading for her first coastal trip. In addition to the regular coastal work in which these ten vessels have been engaged, our other oversea liners have been utilized for coastal work on every occasion on which cargo has been available. For instance, the Australpeak was employed to carry fodder on 4th November, 1919, from South Australia to Sydney and Brisbane whilst she had still on board her original oversea cargo. All this work, of course, involved great loss of money to the Commonwealth; not one of these vessels returns the cost of the oil she uses.
In order that honorable members may know the extent to which we have assisted in carrying coastal cargo, I may state that, since the beginning of 1918, 275,317 tons of such cargo have been carried by Commonwealth steamers. So much for what has been and is being done. When the honorable member brought up this matter yesterday I had not, as I complained, the facts before me, as I should have had if he had given me notice of his intention. I therefore take this opportunity of putting them before the Committee.
In pursuance of the promise that I made yesterday I have instructed the manager of the Commonwealth line of steamers to get into wireless communication with the Bakara, now en route from Cape Town to Melbourne, and to arrange for her to pick up coastal cargo. This she will do. I also instructed him that the steamer Australglen, due in Sydney very shortly, should, upon the completion of her discharge, be used for one or more trips for the carriage of coal and produce.She will carry fodder to New South Wales and return with a cargo of coal. A new steamer, the Eurelia, now being constructed, will shortly be available, and I have given instructions that she shall be placed on the coastal trade. That will make a total of eleven Commonwealth steamers on the coast, exclusive of those which we are diverting for coastal carriage purposes. I sent a cablegram yesterday to London to ascertain at what price three 5,000 to 6,000 tons dead weight vessels could be purchased or chartered for immediate delivery. Upon receipt of an answer I shall bring the price before the House, and it will be for honorable members to say whether or not we should buy.
This disposes at once of the statements that have been made that the Commonwealth line of steamers is doing nothing in the coastal trade to assist the pro ducers. In addition to the vessels I have named, every one of our steamers going overseas is carrying Australian produce to the world’s markets, and by its competition is keeping down the Combine’s oversea freights. I must say this - and I say it with all respect to those who differ fromme -that if Lord Inchcape had briefed men in this House to destroy the only competitor the Combine has, these honorable members could nothave acted more effectively. The only competitor that now stands against the British Shipping Combine is this line of steamers owned and wholly controlled by the Commonwealth. Some honorable members never seem to be satisfied unless they can put the vessels of that line where they not only cannot “ earn their own salt,” so to speak, but where they actually lose thousands of pounds on every voyage.
– Because you run them half empty.
– What nonsense! If the honorable member were only half as full of wisdom as these vessels are of cargo, he would make a better impression on the House and the country. Take one instance. We loaded a vessel with 9,000 tons of cargo. Not only was she full, right up to the hatches, but she carried deck cargo. And yet we lost on the voyage. And we shall continue to lose, even with the 20 per cent, increase in freights.
– To what vessel does the Prime Minister refer?
– To one of the Commonwealth line.
I come now to another point. While stock are starving in New South Wales, fodder is abundant in Victoria. Why is it that Victorian fodder is not going into New South Wales? I shall give the House some of the reasons. It is due mainly to the delay in unloading Victorian railway trucks at the New South Wales border. Here are some facts and figures from an officialreport that will prove my assertion -
From the above it will be seen that there are at present 1,194 Victorian trucks, of which it is safe to say over 1,000 contain fodder, waiting to unload at New South Wales border towns. Yesterday 178 tracks were unloaded, and this was greatly above the average for many days.
These facts speak for themselves. I think I have given a complete answer to the complaint that has been made. Our vessels have beenput on the coastal trade. I shall put on others if we can obtain them. When we obtain an answer to our cablegram as to the price at which additional steamers can be purchased, I shall submit the price to the House; and when I do so the first honorable member to rise and say, “We ought not to buy these steamers,” will be the honorable member for Franklin.
.- I should like to remind the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that he has never heard any member of the Labour party denounce the Government for its action in purchasing Commonwealth ships. No such denunciation has come from this side. Nor can it be said that I have ever denounced the Coal Board. On the contrary, I have said the Board have done magnificent work. But, while the Government are taking this action to assist the primary producers, may we ask what private enterprise is doing in the same direction? Those who are continually howling for private enterprise, and demanding that there shall be no Government interference with trade, should ask their private enterprise friends who are owners of steam-ships to do a little more for the producers of Australiaby carrying their produce for them at lower rates.
– I informed the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), who was in charge of the House at the time, that, in view of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) that nothing could be done in regard to the continuation of the moratorium regulations, and that the Government were determined to do nothing, I would submit a further amendment. While extremely anxious that something should be done for the people concerned in this matter, I am inclined to think that the course pursued by the Leader of the Country party (Mr. McWilliams) is not quite the right one. I am anxious to do the best thing, because I am convinced of the urgency of the matter. I informed the Minister for the Navy that I would move that the total of the proposed vote be reduced by £1, as an instruction to the Prime Minister to bring the question of the moratorium before the Premiers’ Conference–
– I will do that.
– I desire to obtain the Prime Minister’s assurance.
– I certainly give the honorable member that assurance.
– I am very pleased to have that assurance of the Prime Minister that, at the Conference of State Premiers, to be held a few days hence, he will endeavour to impress upon the visiting Premiers the urgent necessity of doing everything in their power to give relief by securing an extension of the moratorium. I believe that it is a State matter. We have hitherto taken action under the War Precautions Act, but if that Act is to cease to operate in a month’s time, then clearly we are unable to secure for these people the desired relief. I accept the Prime Minister’s assurance.
– The question is that the schedule be agreed to:
– I call for a division on my amendment.
– I put the question clearly, and there was no call for the “Ayes.” The amendment has been negatived, and I cannot re-open the matter.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I wish to announce to the House that at 7.30 p.m., in the Queen’s Hall, it is proposed to present to representatives of the Navy and Army, and others, the resolution of thanks recently passed by Parliament to the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth and others for their services during the war I ask honorable members to assemble on the north side of the Queen’s Hall two or three minutes before that time. I shall resume the chair at 8.15 p.m.
– Why on the north side of the Queen’s Hall? ‘
– Because the centre of the hall will be reserved for those who are to take part in the ceremony, while the south side of the hall will be occupied by members of another place.
Sitting suspended from 6.30. to 8.15.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation
Bill. . War Pensions Appropriation Bill. Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill. Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1917-18. Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1918-19. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and
Buildings) Bill 1917-18. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and
Buildings) Bill 1918-19.
Sugar Purchase ‘Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to an allowance to members of each House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Resolution reported; Standing Orders suspended; and resolution adopted.
That Mr. Hughes and Sir- Joseph Cook do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It will be within the recollection of honorable members - that last week the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) submitted a motion in this House in relation to the matter which is set out in this Bill. The question was discussed, various views were put forward, and a division was taken. That division showed an overwhelming majority of members of this Chamber in favour of the honorable member’s motion, which, in substance, was that the salary of honorable members should be raised to an amount not exceeding £1,000.
I said, when speaking on the motion of the honorable member for Herbert; - which I did as a private member of this House - that I agreed in the main with his contentions, and I promised to give the House an opportunity to register its opinion in constitutional fashion. That I now do, but I think it only proper that 1 should explain the circumstances under which the Bill is introduced. As honorable members are well aware, it is not competent for any private member to introduce a measure relating to appropriation of moneys, and it is obvious that, in order that the House shall have an opportunity to express and register its opinion on the statute-book of the country, any such measure must be introduced by. the Government. I introduce this Bill, because I am satisfied that it is the desire of a very considerable majority of members of this Chamber, and, I believe, of the other Chamber, that such an opportunity should be afforded them, and because I myself believe that the change in economic and other circumstances justifies an increase in salary. I introduce the Bill, not as a Government measure, and certainly not as a party measure. I wish to make it perfectly clear that every member, both of the Government, and of the party which I have the honour to lead, is perfectly free to express his opinion and register his vote in any way he pleases. My own . opinion I shall express in terms which I hope will be perfectly clear to everybody, and I take full responsibility for my own action. Honorable members will notice that the Bill is drafted in such a way - the proposed two amounts being enclosed in brackets - that it is competent for honorable members to move that either be reduced. If no amounts had been set out, I am assured by the authorities of the House that the Bill would not be in order.
So much by way of preface; I now come to the Bill itself. First of all, I deal with what may be termed the principal objection to this measure which has been urged by the press, and by our old and esteemed friends, “ Pro Bono Publico,” and persons of that ilk, whose names, by the way, although I have made diligent search, I have not been able to find inscribed on the electoral rolls of this country. As compulsory enrolment is a law of this land, I must, therefore, assume that those persons are law-breakers. But let that pass. “We have been told that it is not competent or proper for this Parliament to deal with this question. Let me direct my remarks to that point f or a moment or two. Section 48 of the Constitution provides -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of Pour hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.
Section 51 of the Constitution provides -
That Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: -
Matters in respect of which this Constitution makes provision until the Parliament otherwise provides:
That is to say, the Constitution establishes the principle that members are to be paid, and deliberately confers on Parliament the right and duty of determining the rate of pay. Obviously, Parliament is the only body to which such a duty could be intrusted. Not only Parliament’s right, but its duty to determine the matter is undoubted. So much for the constitutional basis of this measure.
Now, as to precedent. Those honorable members who have been in the House for some years will remember that in 1907 this Parliament dealt with this matter in exactly the same way as is now proposed, and deliberately exercised the powers with which it is clothed by the Constitution, by raising the allowance of members from £400 to £600 per annum. At that time Mr. Deakin was Prime Minister, by whom the measure was introduced, and it was supported by the late Sir George Reid, who, in doing so, expressed regret that -he had been a party to fixing the allowances to members at £400 in the Convention. Then, in the British Parliament, the Mother of Parliaments, to which we look as the very model of what is proper, the same course as we are pursuing “to-night was followed. That Parliament, which until then had been, an unpaid Legislature, deliberately passed a Bill for the- payment of members. The same course was followed in Canada. And every State Legislature of the Commonwealth has followed the same course. In the State of New South Wales payment of members was agreed to many years ago, and the allowance fixed at £300 per annum. This was increased in 1912 to £500 by a Parliament which applied the increase to members of the existing Parliament. In the State of Queensland the salary which originally had been fixed at £300 was increased in 1919 to £500. In Western Australia the salary which was fixed by Parliament at £200 was increased in 1911 to £300. In Tasmania an increase was made by the Legislature from £100 to £150, and subsequently to £250. In the United States of America the salary, which was originally $5,000, waa increased in 1907 to $7,500; that is to say, the salary was increased from £l,p00 to £1,500. These precedents, to which we may add those of South Africa and New Zealand, are amply sufficient to show that the procedure we are following has been the practice all over the Empire and in other countries. Indeed, the onus is thrown on. those who criticise the right of Parliament to deal with the allowances paid to members to point out one example where this course has been departed from. Those gentlemen whose reading, perhaps through unwise or illdirected tuition in childhood, is confined to the press - who, in short, find at once a source of solace and satisfaction in. reading newspapers, will have noticed that during the last few days we have been favoured by lengthy lucubrations allegedly from indignant taxpayers who are for the most part on the pay-roll of the newspapers in which we find their statements. I have my suspicion that, although we cannot find “Pro Bono Publico” on the electoral roll, we may find him very easily in the office which issues the newspapers in which his letters appear. We have, as I have said, recently been privileged to read some very stirring statements in the columns of a section of the press; but it is to be regretted - because the occasion is not without its possibilities - that the vocabulary and the imagination of the writers are alike most limited, for, curiously enough, all they say now they said in 1907. I have gone to the trouble to rummage among those ponderous tomes in the Library - which for a man of my frail physique shows, at any rate, a spirit of earnest endeavour - in order to refresh my memory with the statements made by our old friend “ Pro Bono Publico “ and others in those days. The Age on 16th August, 1907, said-
Federal members have raided the Treasury. And that journal asked for a referendum, as the only honest way. The Argus on 22nd August, 1907, said-
The people came to the Town Hall to declare their indignation at what they believed to be a contract broken, a trust betrayed. In the attempt to move faster than the’ breath of criticism, Parliament drew on its head a storm.
A few phrases will show the tone of the speeches which were delivered -
A measure rushed through behind our backs. The abuse of a position of trust. An imposition put upon ns. A policy not of increase, but of grab. No man shall be the judge in his own case.
Turning to the press reports of the debate in the House of Commons in Canada, I find in the Canadian newspapers almost the same words. So after a lapse of some thirteen years we find the same criticisms expressed in the same way, and through the same channels.
I was one of those who voted for the increase in the allowance in 1907, and since then I have fought I do not know how many elections - they seem like millions to me - but at only one of those meetings has one gentleman asked me one question on the matter; and I am glad to say he was howled down by an indignant people. So I put these manufactured press criticisms on one side. They emanate from a source which contributes nothing but destructive criticism to the solution of any great’ public question. I do not remember one measure I ever introduced into this Parliament, whether I led the Labour or the National party, that the press has not denounced. I recall, for example when, greatly daring, I bought up the fleet of Commonwealth steam-ships, the storm of hostile criticism a.nd denunciation with which I .was assailed from these very quarters. I am sorry I have not the Argus and Age criticisms of my action at that time, because I could have contrasted them with substantial results of the policy they denounced, and put them to confusion by presenting the balance-sheet. In all the circumstances, therefore, it can hardly be wondered at that I do not bother very much about what they say, and what is more to the point, neither do the people. We are to consider this question on its merits. This Parliament is to be overawed neither by mobs nor by the press.
Now let me point out what the Bill does. It provides for an increased allowance to senators and members of the House of Representatives, and that increase will be what Parliament determines. The amount of the allowance set out in the Bill is £1,000, amd a proviso brings up the allowance which Ministers of State, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chairmen of Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives are “ to receive. They are to receive an increased allowance equal to that of ordinary members. In clause 7 the Bill provides that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives is to receive an allowance, in addition to his salary, of £400 a year, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate is to receive an allowance of £200 a year, in addition to his salary. This matter was mentioned when the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) was under discussion last week. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives has a difficult position to fill. While, perhaps, his correspondence is not .equal in volume to that with which the Leader of the Government has to deal, it is most extensive. A very large number of the electors look to him, write to him, and express their opinions to him, desiring, through him, to express them to Parliament. He occupies an office which is well recognised. He is the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition. Parliamentary government has long recognised the necessity for an Opposition, and it is about time we gave statutory authority for the office. It should have been done long ago. We will do it how. The Bill does not deal with the salaries of Ministers as members, but leaves them still £200 less than the allowance to other honorable members. Honorable members must not think that I consider that the Prime Minister of this Commonwealth or other Ministers will be adequately paid by the increase in their allowance as members of the Parliament. I believe that they and the overwhelming mass of the people will agree with me that whoever occupies the position of Prime Minister is entitled’ to a salary comparable at least with that of a departmental manager in a large wholesale house. It is not to the advantage of the Commonwealth that Ministers or members should be paid a salary inadequate to the services they perform and to the dignity of the office they fill. We are glad to think that we belong to an institution whose honour is untarnished. Democracy knows no better, safer, and certainly no more convenient form of popular government than through Parliaments. It is not proper that those chosen by the people to determine matters vitally affecting their material and social welfare should be underpaid. Contrast the position of a member to-day with his position in 1907, when this Parliament increased the allowance of its members from £400 to £600 per annum. Compare the functions of Parliament now with those it exercised then, and consider, too, the depreciation in the value of money which has occurred in the interval. In 1907, as I know well, because I was then practising in the Arbitration Court, the basic wage of the labourer was £2 Ss. a week; it is now £3 12s., and in New South Wales £3 17s. 6d. a week; an increase of 50 per cent, or more. But the allowance of members has not increased. We are expected to maintain some sort of position, to pay regard to appearances. The calls upon us are numerous. Last year my income taxation was over £100, whereas in 1907 it was only about £14, and in 1910, when I was a Minister of State and receiving practically as much as I receive now, it was about £25. In every direction expenses and the general cost of living have increased.
But quite apart from the increase in expenses and the depreciation in the purchasing power of money, the point I stress is that the services of those who speak and act for the people in regard to matters of vital importance are not fairly remunerated with an allowance of £600 a year. Last week the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) staged the position very clearly. Members who travel weekly between Melbourne and other State capitals are forced to incur heavy expenditure. For ten years I travelled constantly between Sydney and Melbourne, and there was not a week of that time in which I had not to spend between £2 and £2 10s. for living and travelling expenses, in addition to the maintenance of my home in Sydney. For many years after I became a Minister, I kept up a home in Sydney and another in Melbourne. It must not be forgotten that a member of Parliament cannot effectively look after his private business and the business of the people as well. I have had the honour of occupying the office of Attorney-General of the Commonwealth longer than any other man, and during the whole of my occupancy of the office I have not earned a penny at the Bar. Like the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), and many other honorable members, the whole of my time has been devoted to the service of the country. When the people think that some other man can represent them better, they will, no doubt, elect him in my place. But while I give the whole of my time to the service of the country, I expect something like an adequate salary. Although the Commonwealth parliamentary allowance has remained unchanged since 1907, the remuneration of the members of the Parliaments of New South Wales and Queensland has since been increased from £300 to £500 per annum. The reasons which justified these increases justify the increase of the Commonwealth parliamentary allowance. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) told us the other afternoon that a member of the Queensland Parliament is much better off at £500 a year than is a member of this Parliament at £600 a year. I know that in the old days, when a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, with a parliamentary allowance of £300 a year, I was better off than I was subsequently, as a member of this Parliament, with an allowance of £600 a year. The electors do not realize the many calls on members, the cost of elections, the donations that are expected from them; yet these are fixed factors in parliamentary . life. It has been said that the proposal to increase our allowance should be referred to the people. The only precedent for such a reference that I know of occurred in South Australia, where members of Parliament are paid £200 a year. In that State those who make the laws on which the welfare of the country depends are paid a few shillings more per diem than the men who work on the roads. They are charged with most important duties, and with the control and disposal of great public revenues, and they receive for the discharge of these most important public duties only £200 a year ! Some years ago, finding it impossible to live on this sum, the matter was referred to the people. They were asked to increase the allowance, not to £1,000, nor even to £500, a year,, but merely to assent to an increase of £100 ger annum, yet the people rejected this most moderate proposal by a majority of two to one. Had a private employer done a thing like that, what would have been said of him? This is clearly a matter to be decided by Parliament. As I have said, the argument which justified the increasing of our allowance in 1907 from £400 to £600 justifies the further increase now to £1,000 per annum. To-day that amount will not buy more land, or houses, or clothes, or goods than £600 would purchase in 1907, so greatly has the value of money depreciated. It is in the interest of the Commonwealth that the members of this Parliament should be in an absolutely independent position, and able to cast their votes without fear of consequences. I have been here for a long time, and, without casting reflection on any one, I say that many times have I known votes turned this way and that by fear of consequences. Some members have means, and it is well for them that they have; but for those who have only their salaries, adequate remuneration is a matter of life or death. This matter goes to the bedrock of Democracy. Are we to have a Parliament composed only of wealthy men, or of men who give only the fag end of their day and strength to the service of their country ? The people should have freedom of choice, . and the representatives they elect should feel free to vote as they please, without fear of consequences.
I repeat that this is not a Government measure. I have introduced it in pursuance of a promise made to the House, and I shall vote for it. I have left no one in doubt as to my attitude in this matter, and my friends on the press, who occasionally fill their columns by writing about me, will not lack petroleum for to-morrow. The measure is non-party, and the Government as a Government is no more responsible for it than is any one else; it belongs to the House. I hope that it will be carried by an overwhelming majority.
.- I expressed my opinion on this subject last week in speaking to the motion submitted by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). Although, on the last occasion on which the question of the parliamentary allowance to members was raised, there was criticism to the effect that the proposal was brought forward and rushed right through, the press and others all over Australia, who are opposed to this measure, have had on this occasion at least a week to deal with it. Many persons have assumed that the carrying of the motion of the honorable member for Herbert settled the question. I stated distinctly last week that a Bill would have to be brought forward to give effect to the motion. I also stated, as the Prime Minister has said to-night, that this is not, and cannot in any way be made, a party measure.
– Or a Government measure..
– Or a Government measure. In the division which was taken last week, there were members of the three parties on each side. That is the exact position. No member can be criticised for his , vote by those who were- opposed to him. While I have been in this Parliament, I have never been afraid to give a vote in the way I thought was right. I shall vote for this Bill because I believe that the proposal is right. Since 1907, when the last increase took place, it is only fair to state that there have been five elections in less than ten years, and at each election each member has been out of Parliament for at least six weeks, so that, since 1909, we have been out thirty weeks in all. I believe that it means a loss of salary to each member of £70 or £80 on each occasion. It is not generally known by the people outside that our salary stops immediately the dissolution takes place.
I agree with the Prime Minister that some of the people, if they had an opportunity, would make it absolutely impossible for some of us to come to Parliament. The wages earned by the men in the trade which I followed before I entered this House have more than doubled since I have been here, and the same thing applies to a great number of other trades. Although I am a great deal older than I was when I entered Parliament, I still flatter myself that I have enough skill to go back and earn a few shillings at my old trade, if the people turn me out of Parliament.
– They will never do that.
– Whether they do or not, I have never been afraid to take what I think is the right attitude upon any question, and I have not consulted other people before giving expression to that attitude. I was criticised some time ago, when the Prime Minister and I disagreed upon a certain measure, but the honorable gentleman will bear me out in the statement that the first man in Australia to whom I defined the attitude I would take up on that question was himself. I did not go about, as the papers said I did, waiting for instructions from other people, nor have I waited for instructions on this matter. It is not a party matter. No member is bound, and no bargain has been entered into, so far as I know, between any honorable member of this party and any honorable member of any other party regarding it.
The Prime Minister alluded to a provision in the Bill touching a matter referred to last week by interjection by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney). That honorable member said then, when I was speaking, that I was the only Leader of an Opposition in Australia who did not obtain an allowance, and I was assured afterwards by honorable members sitting on both sides of the House that they had had an idea for years that the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament was paid an allowance. That has never been done in this Parliament. I am confident that, although the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) and I disagree on many subjects, he will confirm my statement that the work he did as Leader of the Opposition was greater than he would have bad to do as an ordinary private member. I say deliberately that I shall take the liberty of voting for the salary of £1,000 for members, as proposed by the Prime Minister. I shall not vote on the question of the allowance to the Leader of the Opposition, as I will be the only person affected by it. That will be a matter for the House itself to decide, but I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, believing that it is a step in the right direction.
When the discussion on the Bill to provide for payment of members took place in the House of Commons, the members of which had never been paid before, one member said, “ Why, we will be accused outside of fixing our own salaries.” Mr. Arthur Henderson, who, I think, was then the Leader of the Labour party, replied, “ Who else can fix them except ourselves?” Why did the framers of the Australian Constitution deliberately allow Parliament to settle this matter for itself ? I did not know all the members of the Federal Convention, but I have a fairly good recollection of its personnel, and I do not think there was one delegate there who was not a member of Parliament. They knew that it was a matter that Parliament should decide for itself, and they deliberately left it for the Parliament to settle. The late Sir George Reid and others who were members of the Convention said in this House afterwards that had the Convention sat later the salary would have been fixed, not at £400, but at the amount which the Prime Minister proposes to-night. As I said the other day, I believe this is a matter which Parliament itself can decide, and the Prime Minister has deliberately thrown on Parliament the responsibility of fixing the salaries to be paid to its members.
– I cannot support this Bill. I did not have an opportunity of expressing my opinion on the question on the last occasion, because just when I rose to speak the time for adjournment was approaching, and I did not want to be accused of talking the motion’ out, because that would not have been a fair way of dealing with it. I have always said that the payment of members of this House is not equitable, or based on that equality of sacrifice which, is really a maxim in all our text-books on political economy. For instance, there is no equality of sacrifice between, the man who lives close to Parliament House, and can sleep at home every night, and who represents a small city area, and another man who comes from a distant State, and cannot get home unless he loses a week of his parliamentary duties, or, in some cases, more. In my own case I have been to my home once since I started on my election, campaign. During the whole of that period my time has been occupied in duties which necessitated my attendance in Melbourne, especially during the strike.
From my stand-point, however, in discussing this measure, all that is beside the question. When, the proposal was made to raise the salary from £400 to £600, I took precisely the same attitude as I am taking to-night.
– And took the salary, too.
– I took the same attitude then as I take now, that if Parliament deems that the remuneration of its members is insufficient, despite what has been said by the Prime Minister, the proper method to follow is to introduce the Bill in tho last session of the Parliament. I would not be afraid to go to the electors and quote to them some of the ‘cases that have been put forward by hon- orable members in this House. I am not going to say that the present system offers a fair remuneration for men who have to come to Melbourne for perhaps three-quarters of the year, and to devote the whole of their time to their parliamentary duties, as compared with others whose homes are in Melbourne, and who do not have to make those sacrifices. Despite what has been said by the Prime Minister, my view is that the Bill should be introduced in the last session of a Parliament, and then, if the electors refuse to indorse the increase, that will be the very best reason why we should not increase the salary ourselves. That is the stand I take. I shall not labour it. I simply want to register my position. I do not think it right for the House in the first session of a Parliament, after an appeal to the country, to do what I am sorry to say the Parliament did in my own State quite recently, and what it is now proposed to do here. The proper course is to introduce the Bill in the last session, and let the electors decide to send back men who are or are not in favour of an increase. I know that there are men in this House who, at more than one election, have deliberately stated that the pay was not sufficient, and that, if elected, they intended to vote for an increase. Those men have come back. I do not say that the question should be submitted to the people by referendum, but if the Bill was introduced in the last session of an expiring Parliament members could put the case before “the electors fairly and squarely. Then, if the electors were not in favour of that increase, they would return members to give effect to their opinion.
.- I intend to support the proposal of the Government. . The only questions thatexercised my mind in coming to that decision were: First, Does this country believe in the policy of payment of members ? It has said so, and the principle is contained in the Constitution. ‘ The next question I asked myself was : Is the present allowance adequate? My answer is “No.” What the proposals for increase were I did not know until this Bill was circulated to-night. I do not regard them as excessive, and I propose to support them. We have taken what I believe to be the right and proper and constitutional course to decide the matter. There was first a motion by a private member, which afforded an opportunity to us for indicating to the House and .the country the intentions of honorable members. I had not an opportunity of speaking on it, but a vote was taken, following upon which the Government have acted. It is the ambition of rich and poor alike to enter the Parliament of their country. A fair and free and unfettered chance should be available to them. There has been much criticism of the proposal, but I welcome the fullest opportunity for the discussion of my attitude either by my constituents through the press, or through organized bodies like the Taxpayers Association, or in any other way.
The latest suggestion is that of the honorable member for Franklin, that a Bill should be put through the House in the last session of the Parliament - for what purpose? To make provision for our successors, or possible successors. That is a great test to put upon human nature. One cannot discuss a Bill of this description without feeling that he is discussing something which directly affects himself. The question is delicate in that respect, and in that respect only, but that is no reason why the matter should not be faced and discussed. So far as I am concerned, no fear of consequences will worry or deter me in doing what I believe to be right. In the seven years that I have been in this National Parliament, I have faced four elections and taken part in four referenda. An honorable member, concerning whose reputation and honesty no one has any misgivings, has interpreted what he believes to be the contract made between himself and his constituents. He has declared that it was a contract to serve for a term of three years at £600 per annum. In my judgment there is no such contract. The Parliament takes control of honorable members as soon as they are elected, and by resolution can terminate the political career of any honorable member by sending him back to’ his constituents. That being so, no constituency can keep a member here for three years against the will of the Parliament itself. The Parliament is supreme in respect of every matter placed within its jurisdiction by the Constitution, and it is indisputably correct that the determination of what allowance shall be paid to members has been specifically intrusted to the Parliament by section 48 of -the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
I wish to deal with one or two of the criticisms that have been levelled at this proposal. The chief among them is that honorable members should not themselves make increased provision for their own services. I do not think that the people, or members themselves, believe that the allowance granted to members is intended to be a full and complete return for their services. The representatives of five of the States have to journey to Melbourne as the Seat of Government, and many of them come from the most remote parts of the Commonwealth. Their constituents generally insist upon them making their homes in their respective divisions. A member has either to maintain his home in his own electorate, and remain away from it while Parliament is sitting, or he must bring his family to the Seat of Government and set up a second home here. He has to incur the expense of maintaining two homes. There are also a hundred and one expenses to which members are subjected, and of which their constituents know nothing. It is for that reason that I welcome this opportunityof telling the broad constituencies of Australia that the people have not sufficient conception of the responsibilities of a t member of the National Parliament, and know nothing of many of the personal expenses to which a member is put. It has been said that it is indecent for members, in discussing a question of this kind, to refer to their own private affairs. I should like to know in what other way it would be possible to show the sufficiency or otherwise of the allowance we receive. I should have been .very loath to discuss this question from a personal stand-point had not that statement been made. I gave five years of special effort during the war to my constituency, and I have had during that period no return whatever, nor did I look for any, from my Parliamentary allowance. The constituencies have an obligation to discharge to their representatives. They are under a definite obligation to give them an adequate and sufficient remuneration to enable them to provide for themselves and their dependants. The question of personal sacrifices made by many honorable members in entering Parliament might be referred to, but it is not while they are actually in Parliament that the greatest sacrifice is made. When a man’s political career is terminated - and it generally happens to be terminated at the most disadvantageous time - the real sacrifice falls upon his family. We have had, unfortunately, too many striking illustrations of that fact, but I shall not refer to them individually. It will be argued that men ought, surely, to be drawn to a proper discharge of their public duties even without an adequate allowance. My answer to that is that members of Parliament are just as human as other members of society, and that the obligations imposed upon them are various and heavy.
I do not regret having entered Parliament, and even if the allowance were not what it is to-day I should still strive to be here. That, however, does not influence my decision on this question. I should like to feel that every honorable’ member was dealing with this question on its merits, and was considering it from the viewpoint that the remuneration should be a sufficient living allowance for himself and his family. In dealing with a matter of this kind, individual members ought not to be influenced by considerations of what may be their own private resources. They should view the proposal from a fair basis. They should ask themselves whether the present allowance is an adequate return to be given to members of the Parliament of a continent as wide as this, having regard to the expenses which membership involves. From whateveraspect this proposal may be regarded, I claim that it is not unreasonable. We have been asked what effect this action on our part will have upon those who are contending for increased emoluments in other directions. That is not the real consideration. The provision has been made to enable their claims to be settled. Our critics, wherever they may be, have never at any time suggested that the present allowance is insufficient. No suggestions on that subject have been made by them. A significant fact is that very few of them say to-day that the allowance is adequate. Their chief contention is that we have gone about securing an increased allowance in the wrong way. There were three ways open to us. In the first place, Parliament itself could take the full responsibility; secondly, the question might have been referred by referendum to the people; and, thirdly, it could have been put before the people in connexion with a general election. The allowance to be paid to members of Parliament, however, could not be made the determining factor of any election. To include such a proposal in the policy of a party might “be theoretically right, but. in actual practice, it would lead to a very indecent scramble for return to this Parliament. I think that the Parliament has taken the proper course, and I am prepared, without the slightest fear, to take the responsibility of supporting the Bill.
.- While listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) it occurred to me that they had a strangely familiar ring. I have heard similar arguments advanced in Broken Hill by men of the same type who were prepared to let some of us do the fighting for better working conditions and more pay. They did not think we ought to go on strike or take direct action to secure better conditions, but they were always prepared to take whatever we gained as the result of our efforts. I am informed by honorable members that those who protested when the last increase was made did not hesitate to take the benefits which were secured by those who had the courage, whatever the risk, to vote for what they believed to be right.
As I told the House when this proposal was first made by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), I do not base my support of it on the pretence thatI cannot subsist on the allowance which I now receive. I want to reiterate the point which I then endeavoured to make - and which has been mentioned to-night by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) - that I support this proposal because it is necessary to safeguard the interests of the dependants of members, and more especially the dependants of those who, on entering the House, are prepared to speak their mind without fear of the consequences. The man who intends to be a strict partisan and to follow his party blindly will probably be very careful to listen to what his constituents say, and particularly to his party’s statements. He will probably go whichever way they want him to go if he wishes to remain here under any circumstances. I say quite plainly to the House that a considerable portion of the allowance which I receive as a member of this House has gone to help the workers on strike.
Mr. Hay. ; Stop the strike and save your money.
– Like the honorable member, I believe in stopping a strike when we win.
Mr. Hay. ; Why complain ?
– I am not complaining. I thank the honorable member and other honorable members opposite for bringing forward this proposal, which will enable the men on strike at Broken Hill to secure an increased proportion of my allowance. I “make no bones” about the matter.
Mr. Hay. ; But the honorable member is. He is complaining of his poverty.
– No. -I said at the outset that I did riot pretend that I was not able to live on my present allowance. Evidently the honorable member intends to vote with the “ Noes.”
– The honorable member is a very bad guesser.
– Then his only ob,jection is to the direction in which I intend to allow a portion of my increased allowance to go. The only other point I wish to make is that nothing is to be gained by honorable members contrasting the decrease in the purchasing power of their salary with the decrease of the purchasing power of the wages of the workers outside. If honorable members are worse off than they were before the war, how much more worse off. must be the people referred to by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in submitting this measure to the House. That, however, does not really touch the position. As long as I remain a member of this House my aim will be to help the people outside where necessary to adopt precisely the same method that honorable members are now adopting. If they cannot get what they desire by other means, then the people outside should follow our example in raising our own salaries. I want to establish outside the House as well as inside it the principle that the people who work should determine the conditions under which they shall work.
.- I did not have an opportunity of speaking on this question when it was raised last week by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), and as I voted against the motion then submitted >y him, I want very briefly to give my reasons for the action I took. The position as I see it is not one in which we are concerned in discussing whether the present remuneration is sufficient or not. It is not on that ground that any objection on my part is based. When such a question is under consideration I am prepared to express my opinion upon it, but to-day the whole point seems to me to turn upon the time that has been chosen for this action on the part of the Federal Parliament. There was a general election only some five months ago, and at that time every party represented here to-day - be it National, Labour, or Country party - outlined a very exhaustive policy which indicated the action it was going to take if, and when, it was returned. There was, however, no mention of .the question of payment which then was as burning as it is now, no suggestion, that the amount paid to the individual members was inadequate, and that steps should be taken in order to maintain the prestige of the House, to increase it to a more reasonable figure. While I believe there were individual members who did express that view on the platform, not one of the great parties, though nearly every one in the House adheres to one or the other, laid that. down as a policy in the way generally recognised: by the country. The Parliament then elected is some five months old, and now the question is introduced. While I believe that members are perfectly sincere - I wish them to understand I make no suggestion against anybody - I point out the way in which this proposal strikes the people of the country. There is no doubt that it is striking them as a piece of rather smart practice which is not confined to any section or party. I feel, and feel very seriously, that it is nearly a tragedy that any action by we representatives of the nation should leave such an impression, with, as I venture to suggest, some grounds for it. We are the highest authority in the land, and it seems to me we should be completely above suspicion. That is the reason, and the sole reason, I propose to vote against the measure.
The case has been put by the member for the Barrier (Mr. Considine), that there are certain individuals in this world who, while not prepared to help to further any object, or run any risks, are, nevertheless, quite prepared to take all the benefits of such a proposal as this. That, it appears to me, is a despicable attitude to take. This question is one -which many people in this land believe involves a certain risk at the next election to those who vote in favour of the Bill. If that be so, anybody who proposes to take the benefits that certain people are risking their political existence to obtain, had better vote for the Bill. I wish to place on record my own personal view, that not to come straight out and vote in favour of that of which they propose to take the benefits is despicable - an action of which I do not think any member of a great National Parliament should be guilty.
In expressing my opposition to the Bill I should like it to be distinctly understood that I am in no way referring to the clause dealing -with, the Leader of the Opposition. In regard to that, we are not dealing with our own remuneration or our own affairs, but with an individual position - a question on which the present older (Mr. Tudor) has very properly said he does not intend to vote. Having regard to the very heavy and onerous duties of the Leader of the Opposition, I have not one word to say against the proposal; in fact, I am heartily in accord with it.
.- As a new member I am liable to make mistakes, but I hope that any mistakes I may make in my few remarks on this Bill will, tot some extent, be overlooked. I have just contested an election on the understanding that £600 would be the amount of the allowance of the successful candidate; and the proposed increase at the present time is to my mind a very serious matter. We have to remember that there are thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth who are in a far worse position than we are; and if we increase the parliamentary allowance, and so set an example to Australia at large we shall have to meet many deputations in favour of very substantial increases in other directions. For instance, there are oldage pensions, Wages Board and Arbitration Court awards, and so forth, and if we start at the ton of the tree, and increase our own salaries to the extent proposed, we must be prepared to improve the position of all, from A to Z, throughout the Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite call out, “Hear, hear” ! - Very well. The Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) made a very able speech the other night on the finances of the Commonwealth, when it was proposed to vote a few paltry pounds to assist returned soldiers in starting certain industries. We were told by the honorable gentleman - and another place was told by Senator Millen - that the finances do not warrant such a vote ; but I remind the House that if this Bill be passed, we shall be called upon to make increases in all quarters involving an expenditure of many millions, and not merely of hundreds of thousands.
As to the cost of living, the newspapers tell us to-day that in America there is a very considerable decrease, and the chances are that, with a reasonable season, and a return to normal conditions, that cost will gradually, even rapidly, come down’ in Australia. We here are, therefore, I think in a much better position to meet the present circumstances than are the ‘ industrial workers. As to the time devoted by honorable members to attendance in this House, I may say that my own has been fairly constant, though that of quite a number of other honorable members has hot. Do those honorable members expect the increased pay for half their time ? Of course, they do. This is a raid not only on the Treasury, but on Australia as a whole, and .if it be agreed to we shall deeply regret it.
– Will the honorable member accept the increase if it is carried ?
– Will the honorable member hold his tongue ?
– The honorable member intends to accept the increase, but has not the courage to vote for it.
– I know that the honorable member, if the amount were double what is proposed, would willingly accept it. Then, how many members of the House are entirely dependent on their salaries? I venture to say that there are very few indeed - that the bulk receive a good deal more than their salary from other sources. The Bill is a monstrous proposition which I shall vote against.
.- The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) spoke of the overwhelming body of public opinion. There are some people who are like the little bantam rooster on the backyard fence when he first flaps his wings and crows, and thinks that his noise is the hum of the universe. Those people think that when the Age and Argus speak it is the voice of Australia. As a matter of fact, we can search the whole of the Sydney press, and find no letters from “Pro Bono Publico,” or “Mother of Ten,” but written, as we know, in the offices of newspapers themselves. There are no resolutions of indignant taxpayers’ organizations appearing in the press of New South Wales - none of the fuss, and big headings that we find in the Age and Argus. These two newspapers have been so long in the habit of dominating the politicians of Victoria that they think they have only to raise a howl on any matter to make politicians in this Parliament fall down and do as they are told.
I was present on Saturday afternoon at a conference in Sydney of 128 delegates, representing sixty-eight unions, and’- not one word was said about the proposed increase of the parliamentary allowance. On Sunday night; I was at a conference of representatives of 123 Labour Leagues in the metropolitan area, Sydney, and, again, there was. not one word. - We may search the press of the other States in vain to find any parallel to the fake of the Age and Argus as to what people are thinking and saying about the matter.
It has been said that the question should be left to the decision of the electors at a general election. How are the electors to decide such a question at a general election? Suppose that in my own electorate I told my constituents that if they elected me I would favour an allowance of £1,000 a year, and a Nationalist were to come along and say he would represent them for nothing - would the Labour electors of Cook vote for the Nationalist? Many times I have had wealthy men contesting my seat against me, and, no doubt, there are such men who would pay a premium of £10,000 to obtain a seat in this House. The difference between the present allowance and the allowance proposed in the Bill would not influence Protectionists to vote for Free Traders or Labourites to vote for Nationalists. It is absolute bunkum to talk about referring the matter to the people at a general election. With the complicated issues and policies put forward by the different parties it would be absolutely impossible for the electors to decide such a question separated altogether from the party programme and their own party convictions.
The honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) told us that he does not support the Bill on the ground that the present allowance is inadequate for his expenses.
– I did not say that.
– I do not think the honorable member will contradict me if I say that the amount he has received since he entered Parliament has not been sufficient to meet his expenses as a public man.
– I have certainly got into debt.
– I think it is only fair that that statement should go on record, because, from his speech, although the honorable member mav not have in tended it, it would appear that he regarded the present allowance as more than enough.
In the Argentine Republic, with a population a little in excess of our own, the salary , is £1,500 per annum, and in Canada, which has a population of about 8,000,000 people, as against our 5,000,000 people, but which certainly has not as large an extent of country, the allowance is £1,000, plus travelling allowances, and plus a private secretary paid by the Government for each member. In South Africa, which is not nearly as populous and as wealthy as Australia, the allowance is also £1,000.
As far back as 1902, a Bill to pay £1,000 per year to Federal members was drafted by the late Sir Edmund Barton, but was not then proceeded with. In regard to the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) that some honorable members may oppose the increased allowance and then afterwards accept it, I propose to submit an amendment to the Bill to provide 1»hat when members do not take the increase it shall revert to the Consolidated Revenue. I was in this House in 1907 when the first increase was made. There were men who stood up here and made capital out of their attitude in opposing the increase. There were some members who did not take the increase until after the next election; but others who voted against it accepted it. In one or two isolated cases men waited until after they had faced their constituents before doing so. One of these gentlemen, who had a private income, was “booted out” by ‘his electors, and he- immediately went to the Treasury, where his uncollected increase had been accumulating, and drew the “whole bang lot.” I do mot think that is a fair thing. If a man chooses to pose before his electors in order to get some kudos out of his attitude in opposing the increase, and does not collect it, the amount ought to go back into the Consolidated Revenue from month to month, and in Committee I shall move an amendment in that direction.
I have perused the newspaper criticism of this increase in the two larger States. The first expression! of opinion moved by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) was carried in this House on the 13th May, and the Age, in a leading article on the following day, dealt with the matter, the burden of its story being that members were fairly well paid for the part of their time they devoted to Parliament. It emphasized the fact that we sat three days in the week, and were here only six months out of the year; but the writer of the article knows perfectly well that on the days of the week when the House does not sit a New South Wales member is travelling to or from Melbourne. There have been occasions when the House has sat almost the whole year around, and a member cannot walk outside the chamber and lob into a lucrative post next minute.
It is impossible for a member giving every moment of his time to be fully conversant with everything dealt with in the House, and give an intelligent vote on it; and it is quite obvious that members who come here for part of the time cannot be in touch with the business on all occasions. Did the ex-member for Nepean (Mr. Orchard) leave politics because he did not’ like them, or because his ambition was not for public life? No. He did not seek re-election because, although he had a well-established and large business in Sydney, he found it absolutely impossible to attend this Parliament, even, as the Age puts it, for half a year, without that business going to pieces. The ex-member for New England (Mr. Abbott) made the same statement on retiring from politics at the end of the last Parliament. It is practically impossible for a man outside Melbourne, unless he has a large and well-established concern, which runs by itself, and does not need his own personal attention, to carry on a business and at the same time attend to his duties as a member of this House.
On the 17th May the Age admitted that there was some justification for the amount of salary named, but went on to say that it was opposed to payment of members altogether. I quote the following paragraph from the Age: -
Before trying to decide what is a fair remuneration for parliamentary service, it is necessary to determine whether the allowance should be made as a salary paid in return for the member’s total working energies, or whether it should be fixed as a recompense for the part of his time he gives to public work.
Professional and business men who secure election still find time to earn substantial incomes in addition to their pay as members. While recognising that direct representation of important sections would be impossible were there no payment, is a member’s working life confined to attendance at Parliament for sixty or seventy days a year, and to regard for the importunities of his constituents?
If the payment of members is not to- be sufficient to enable a man to meet the calls that fall upon him, either in living or in carrying out his public duties, it will be impossible for Labour members to come to this Parliament. The argument put up by the Age was .really against payment of members. The same argument is practically put up by the Argus.
Here is a significant feature of the matter: No one has yet shown that the amount of the salary proposed is too large. The newspapers have had the figures put forward on the 13th instant by various honorable members, including myself, but they have not sought to controvert them. In regard’ to the merits of the case, the Argus said on the 14th May last -
A number of members followed in support of the proposal, several of whom give minute details of their expenditure in connexion with elections, and - in the case of Labour members - pre-election, referendums, support of two homes, expenses while travelling, all tending to prove that the balance remaining after their special expenses as members had been deducted, afforded an extremely small remuneration for their services. There can be no reason to doubt the truth of the statements made or the deductions drawn.
The Sydney Morning Herald, in a leading article in opposition to the increased allowance in its issue of the 18th May, said -
Is the office to be regarded as a merely sordid one, which provides a more or less good living for the holder of it? One might suppose so if he were to judge by some of the speeches made in justification of the £1,000 a year proposal. If law-making and departmental administration are to become more and more the preserves of professional politicians, and less the concern of personally disinterested men who are capable and are animated by a high public spirit, then this talk about the salaries being inadequate for the position is in perfect order.
Apparently the amount is in perfect order if an honorable member gives up all his time to his work, but it is not in perfect order if what the Sydney Morning Herald desires is maintained, namely, that Parliament should be the preserve of the rich men in Australia. The aim of this newspaper in denouncing the proposal is to render it possible for rich men to come here, and impossible for Labour members to do so.
But after this chorus of disapproval by those who are largely opposed to payment of members - and with about two isolated exceptions, it will be found that the honorable members of this House who voted against this proposal are rich men who do not depend upon the parliamentary allowance - it is refreshing to find the Melbourne Herald saying, on the 14th May -
The contention that the position of the private member is amply remunerated at £12 a week is too ridiculous for acceptance by any but the most ultra-conservative mind, or the class sedulously anxious to belittle selfgovernment, and the men chosen by the people to carry it on. The amount is less than hundreds of subordinate officers in private concerns, from drapers’ shops to newspaper offices, receive for duties involving moderate skill and experience. . . . The conservative idea of Parliament and its institutions is that of a menagerie of dangerous wild animals, whose activities should be caged, and their harmful energies reduced by a dietetic scale based upon underfeeding. Thus debilitated they would not do much harm. An enfeebled Parliament will be subject, as it was too often in the old Victorian days, to the pontifical authority of despotic and malignant party newspapers.
I have no doubt the Melbourne Herald had in mind the time when the Melbourne Age practically dictated politics in Victoria twenty-seven years ago, when, as thu Age admits in this morning’s issue, there were 55,000 free passes on the Victorian Railways issued to distinguished persons in one year. As a matter of fact in those bad old days, the policy speech of the State was written in the Age office, and despotically dictated to the nominal political leader.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 15th May said -
We do not support the contention that members of Parliament have no right to raise their own salaries. There is nobody else to deal with the question of members’ pay but members themselves, who are there to treat this matter on its merits, the same as any other coming within the ambit of parliamentary jurisdiction. As to the demand that they should first get the taxpayers’ authority, there is nothing in that either. How could they get any more authority than they receive when elected to do the duty that ordinarily devolves upon a representative of the people? Under our present system of party government, to make this question an issue at a general election, so that the result would show just how much and how little the country was willing to pay its representatives, is a practical impossibility. … If £600 a year was a fair payment for a member of Parliament before the war, it is clearly not fair now, when about 30s. have to be paid for what then cost £1. The price of everything else having gone up in proportion to the decline in money’s purchasing power, we expect parliamentary service to do the same.
Questions involving much larger financial considerations have gone through this House, and the public have never been consulted concerning them. We have just passed an agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) was perfectly right in describing as involving tens of millions of pounds of the people’s money, and practically affecting the supply of petrol and lubricating oils for the people of Australia, it may be for half a century to come. It will literally involve the expenditure of £10,000,000, yet the people were not consulted regarding it, and some of those who are objecting to the present proposal were not even willing to refer to a Select Committee for investigation an agreement in regard to which this proposal is a mere pigmy.
I devote the whole of my time to my public career. There were some members from Victoria in Sydney last week-end, and they saw there last Monday what I have already described as a regiment of men and women waiting at the Commonwealth Offices to interview me on public business. To .these, callers I render services which they could not obtain from any business or professional man for three or four times the amount proposed in the Bill. I am doing my utmost, day in and day out, to improve and protect the lot of the great masses of Australia as an energetic and experienced advocate on their behalf, and shall well earn every penny paid to me as an allowance.
I have shown by figures that cannot be disputed that the expenditure forced on a member by rich men who contest his seat at parliamentary elections, which, during my thirteen years* experience, have occurred on the average once .every two years, and the other “ expenditure that I have mentioned, leave to the member out ‘ of his . allowance little more than the living wage paid to a labourer. I defy the contradiction of my figures either in the .press or here by those who are opposing the measure. I should not have spoken at such length were it not that some honorable members seem ready to make political capital out of this proposal, and I wish to put into Hansard a statement of my views concerning it. I am satisfied to leave it to my electors to judge of the righteousness and propriety of my vote on this occasion.
.- As I had not the opportunity to say a few words in support of my vote on this question last week, I rise to do so now. I could not follow the arguments of the honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts), who says that he does not see the difference between the ratification by Parliament of the Anglo-Persian Oil Agreement and the raising of the allowance of its members without reference to the electors. There is a big difference between the two things, and i hope that members generally recognise it.
– Will the honorable member accept the increase if it is passed ?
– I shall answer that question later. The Prime Minister contended that it is necessary that members shall be adequately remunerated, so that when big questions come before Parliament they may vote as their conscience dictates; but it seems to me that if the parliamentary allowance were raised still higher, members would recognise still more fully the value of sticking to their party, and would be more inclined to vote with it than to exercise their own private judgment. Undoubtedly of late years the work of members of this Parliament has become very onerous. To my mind, there is a little too much Parliament. Members are kept here for the greater part of the year, whereas if our proceedings were better controlled we should be able to do the work of the country within five or six months. Indeed, it would not harm Australia if Parliament were closed for a few years, and the country governed by a dictator.
– Would you accept Sir John M. Higgins in that position?
– I should not; I do not think his appointment to the position would be for the good of the country, particularly in view of his advice and actions controlling the metal industry. I think, however, that the country would lie better off with less Parliament. Had the question of members’ remuneration been raised prior to the general election, my attitude would be different from what it is now. I have always been in favour of payment of members, realizing that adult suffrage, unless it enables the constituencies to send those whom they chose into Parliament, must be inefficient, and payment of members is necessary to allow that to be done. A great strain is imposed upon the members of this Parliament. During the seven years that I have been here, I have had to contest four elections - members lose about six weeks’ pay at every dissolution - and to speak throughout my electorate during two referenda campaigns… The expenses which work of this kind entail are very great. Had the question been raised during the elections, I would have told my constituents that I thought that members should receive more than they are getting. That we are not receiving more now is our own fault, because at the election we should have told the people that we needed more; in fact, a Bill should have been introduced prior to the dissolution.
– Whose duty was it to raise the question at the elections? Why did not you raise it %
– I was not asked my opinion on the matter, and gave it no consideration. I believe that some members told their constituents that they would not vote for any increase. Undoubtedly, the people expect this Parliament to study economy in public expenditure. I am satisfied that, following upon the raising of our allowance, will come demands for increases from Commonwealth and State public officials, which will mean an aggregate increase of public expenditure amounting to! many millions of pounds per annum. Such demands will be fair and just,
– If Parliament reduced the allowance paid to members, would the public servants ask to have their salaries reduced ?
– The question is absurd. I cannot imagine that any member’ would propose a reduction of his allowance. I would be ready to vote for a Bill to increase the allowance for future Parliaments, but I cannot vote for this Bill. Prom every stand-point the time is most inopportune. It is intended in the near future to call together a Convention to remodel our
Constitution, and I hope that that Convention will fix in the Constitution the emoluments of Ministers and members. I have been asked whether, if the Bill be passed, I shall accept the increase for which it provides, and to that my reply is that I shall ; but I hope that a provision will be inserted in the measure which will forfeit any sum that is not drawn monthly by the member entitled to it. There should be no scandals in connexion with this measure such as have occurred on other similar occasions, when men have said that they would not accept an increase, and have made political capital out of their refusal to do so, and yet, after losing their seats, have collected the money from the Treasury. I think that my duty to my constituents requires me to vote against the Bill.
.- On Thursday last I made my attitude towards this proposal quite clear by recording my vote, against the amendment moved by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), and I should not have risen to-night but for a reply which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) gave to a question that I asked a day or two ago, and but for certain interjections that have been made. I asked the Prime Minister whether, if he introduced a Bill to increase the allowance paid to members of Parliament, he would -sanction a similar increase in the allowance paid to soldiers incapacitated during the war.
– You should be ashamed of dragging the soldiers into a matter like this. They have been played with by those who have opposed their interests, and it is a pity that a returned man should use them.
– I think it is necessary to do what I have done. I intend to tell the House why I put that question to the Prime Minister.
– Will the honorable member take the increase if it is agreed to?
– Certainly. I was saying that a great deal of prominence had been given to a question which I put to the Prime Minister regarding increased pensions for incapacitated soldiers. It has been stated in one quarter that I put that question with “ obvious sarcasm.” I assure the House that I had no intention of being sarcastic. I put it for the sole reason that I thought a suggestion of the kind to the Prime Minister might be beneficial, and lead him to think of the case of those men before he brought in this proposal.
– He did think of them.
– I am pleased to hear it. My object was not to bring the soldier unduly into the debate or to be sarcastic at the Prime Minister’s expense. It appears quite obvious that if we, as members, increase our allowance, the incapacitated soldiers, who are now receiving pensions to the extent of only 303. per week, should receive consideration also.
– The Repatriation Bill which has just been passed provides for a pension of £4 per week.
– Yes, for totally incapacitated soldiers, but there are many who are maimed, although they are not regarded as totally incapacitated, and who receive only 30s. per week. We, as members, will be open to criticism by those soldiers when they see that we have increased our own allowance, while they are not receiving a pension sufficient to keep them in reasonable comfort according to their circumstances. That is a good enough reason for rae, at any rate, to oppose a- proposal such as this. It will be conceded that whilst the Repatriation Bill was before the House the members on this side who have been soldiers were at least moderate in their demands. I recognised to the full the truth of the plea put forward by the Treasurer, or Acting Treasurer, when applications for increases in the payments made to soldiers have been placed before the House, that the state of the finances of the country would not permit of them being granted. That being the case - and no one believes in it more than I do - if we, as members, increase our allowance now, we can scarcely justify our refusal to pay incapacitated soldiers a sum adequate to keep them in reasonable comfort. We should remember that these men have served their country and bought the freedom that we hare to-day. In spite of what my honorable friend on my right says, I am determined to bring up this matter. They bought our freedom and paid for it in blood and tears. I have to answer to them, and I consider the inadequacy of their allowances a good and sufficient reason for not voting for an increase in my own allowance.
Many reasons have been given in the debate last Thursday and to-day to show why it is necessary and proper that the allowance of members should be increased, but I reiterate what I said on the former occasion, and what has been said by others to-night, that the Bill is not a proper one to introduce in the first session of a Parliament. I think I was the first to voice in this House the opinion that such a question should, in some form or other, have been ‘first put before the people.
It has been said that- if we do not pay members of Parliament properly we shall not get the best men for the positions, and my reply is that at the last election the choice was limited, because the people supposed that the allowance of members would continue at £600 a year. If £1,000 a year had been decided on there would probably have been much more competition, and a number of members, perhaps myself among them, would not be here to-night.
– May I suggest that you should go before your electors and ask them for permission to accept the increase? You can take that as a form of referendum.
– I have heard the suggestion, and, as Ministers often say, it will receive consideration. Some honorable members have given as a reason for increasing the allowance that their election expenses are very great, and that they find after expending about £200 per election that there is little more than that left for themselves. I cannot understand why a member should spend hundreds of pounds to win an election if the remuneration he is to receive is inadequate. I can quite understand men having an ambition to serve their country and even wanting no return for it when they are elected. In certain Parliaments in the past no allowance has been paid to members. I can also quite understand men spending a great deal of money for the honour and fame attached to the position - I do not say that in any sarcastic sense - but I cannot understand any honorable member putting forward the plea that his allowance should be increased because his election expenses leave him very little for himself.
I am not one of those who consider that the most successful man, as the word “ successful “ is generally used, in nrl.vate life or in business or in the profes sions, would make the best member of Parliament., It is very easy for a man to make money if that is his sole aim in life, but many men who are successful in business or professional capacities have concentrated on one department or branch only, and their outlook on life is necessarily narrower than that of other men who have had no ambition to make money, but have mixed with their fellows and made themselves acquainted with their wishes and needs. I do not claim that the man who can make a big salary in private life must be paid a correspondingly large allowance if he is expected to become a candidate for the National Parliament.
I have been surprised that certain honorable members have thought it necessary to tell the House that they have not accepted a bribe since they have been in Parliament. I cannot command language to express exactly what I think of that statement. Of course they do not accept bribes. Who said they did ? They do not pick pockets either. Surely we are not going to pay a member an increased allowance so that he shall not be in a position to need to take a bribe? Is a man’s honesty measured by the amount of his income ? I think not. The argument was a very poor one in the first place, and should never have been advanced in this Chamber. .
I wish to refer, in. conclusion, to the question which has been put to me, of whether I would accept the increased allowance df the Bill was passed, with the amendment suggested by the honorable members for Gook (Mr. Catts). I have already said that I would accept it. Interjections and epithets such as “ despicable “ and “ cowardly “ have been thrown across at us.
– Those came from your own side.
– It has already been Droclaimed from both sides of the House that this is not a party question. When the matter was first canvassed, a member said to me that a man who would take the extra allowance after voting against it would be nothing but a hypocrite. I replied that if they thought I was going tr» come over because of a threat of that kind they had picked the’ wrong man, and J say it again now. Never before has the word “ cowardly “ been used to me, and no suggestion of that sort will deter m«* from recording my vote in the way 7. think right. Honorable members who speak in that way will at least understand that I have sufficient courage to tell them now plainly and clearly that I shall take the money if it is voted.
With regard to the proposed allowance to the Leader of the Opposition, I am not in a position to say what the work attached to the position is, but I have no objection to the payment of such an allowance. The Opposition has become recognised, as the Prime Minister says, as ? necessary institution in Parliament. I am not in the habit of throwing bouquets about, but I can say honestly that there is no member of this House for whom I have greater respect than the Leader of the Opposition. However, the honorable member and myself may differ on questions of policy, I believe that the Opposition is well led. The tone which the honorable member adopts when criticising Government proposals might well be followed by all members. There is no question about his ability, and he has given a great deal of time to his duties. I am sure that he has earned every penny he has received, and will do so in the future. But there are other members besides the Leader of the Opposition, and we cannot decide what allowance is due to a member because of his ability, or what remuneration he would be receiving outside if he had given all ‘his attention to business instead of devoting himself to politics.
.- As the mover of the motion carried on Thursday, I hope that the second reading of this Bill will be carried in the same way. You, Mr. Speaker, will bear me out when I say that my motion was carried unanimously. I moved to omit certain words from the question, “ That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,” and it was upon the omission or retention of those words that the division, took place. After the division had been taken, you put the question that the original motion as amended be agreed to. That was carried without a protest from anybody. The proposal was therefore carried unanimously, and T hone the second reading of this measure will be carried in the same way. There are several other matters to which I should like to make brief reference. In the first place, I know of no Parliament the members of which are so poorly paid as we are. Reference has been made during the debate to the salaries of members of the Argentine Parliament. Soon after we increased our allowance from £400 to £600 a year, I met a gentleman who occupied a high place in the political life of Victoria and, in the course of conversation, he remarked to .me, ‘ ‘ You fellows think you have done a wonderful lot for yourselves by increasing your emoluments by 50 per cent. I have just come from the Argentine,1 where every member of Parliament receives £1,500 a year, and has a room devoted to his own use ; then again every member has a typist, and, by George! a good-looking lot they are !” The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes); when speaking on the motion submitted by me last week, said that the allowance received by Ministers was inadequate. It is undoubtedly too )ow. I have no hesitation in saying that, for a Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, it is absolutely mean. In pre-war days, in South Africa, Mr. Louis Botha enjoyed! a salary of £5,000 a year as Prime Minister, and each of his Ministers had a salary of £4,000 per annum. On the outbreak of war, every member of the Government voluntarily surrended £1,000 per annum, so that- Mr. Botha received £4,000 a year and his colleagues £3,000 a year, or nearly twice as much as the Prime Minister of Australia receives. The Commonwealth will compare favorably with South Africa in regard to its resources and potentialities, but everything associated with this Parliament has been conducted on lines which tend to reduce its dignity.
The Prime Minister is not present, and I should like, although not without some diffidence, to remind honorable members that, during the last election campaign, he was publicly offered £50,000- that is to say, £5,000 per annum for ten years - to edit a newspaper in New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman declined the offer, because he felt that it was his duty to remain in this Parliament and work for his country. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page), and others, will also recollect that when the Inter-State Commission Bill was passed, in 1913, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had merely to hold up his hand to secure the position of Chairman of that Commission, which carries with it a salary of £2,500 per annum, with £3 3s. per day as a travelling allowance. He felt, however, that in the interests of his party, and of the country, he should remain in Parliament, where he could do better work for the Commonwealth. These are facts that ought to be remembered when objection is taken to this Bill.
I take strong exception to the remark made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), that this proposal was in the nature of sharp practice. That word suggests something that is quite intolerable, and it is not right for any man to apply it to anything done by this Parliament, or to connect it with members, individually or collectively. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) said he was surprised to hear the boast made that honorable members of this Parliament had never taken a bribe. In the early days of the Parliament, our allowance was a very inadequate return for our services. Our sittings were lengthy, and the sessions of the Parliament extended over many months. The temptation, then, to members was very great. A man had merely to go into the lobby and hold out his hands to have them filled with good Australian gold, practically at any moment. Those who have but recently entered the Parliament do not know what temptations were held out to members at that time.
It has been said that this question should have been put to the electors at the last general election. That was one of the points made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook). Had we adopted that course we should have had men putting themselves up to public auction. A candidate would have said, “ My opponent, Mr. So-and-So, wants the allowance to members increased from £600 to some unknown sum. I shall be satisfied to receive £600 a year. For whom are you going to vote?” In that event every other consideration would have been subordinate to that of getting the cheaper man. The Constitution itself provides that this question shall be determined by the Parliament and not by the people. The Prime Minister mentioned, this evening that on one occasion the people of South Australia were asked to approve of the State parliamentary allowance being increased from £200 to £300 a year, and that the proposal was almost unanimously turned down. As showing the conservatism of the electors, let me cite still another case. A few years ago the membership of the New South Wales Parliament was 125, and it was decided to refer to the people the question of whether it should be reduced to 105 or 90. The people’s vote was almost unani- mously in favour of a reduction to ninety members. Whenever questions of this kind are referred to the electors, we may be sure that they will vote for the lowest possible amount or, in the case of membership, for a reduction to the smallest numbers. I hope that there will be no amendment. We have waited long enough for this little increase. We ought to have it, and I hope that the motion for the second reading of the Bill will be carried on the voices.
.- In rising to oppose this Bill, I feel that I am in a somewhat difficult position, since I am taking up a stand different from that adopted by the members of my party. The position of a member who is in and about the House three or four days every week is not very easy when he is up against a hostile Government, discovers that members on the other side are also, to a certain extent, hostile, and, on entering his own party room, finds that he holds a- view different from that entertained by his fellow members on a question which, to say the least, deeply affects them.
– The honorable member, like every one else, is entitled to his own opinion.
– Thank you.
– He was told that.
– Will the honorable member take the increased allowance if the Bill is passed?
– I shall deal with that point. I am by no means a wealthy man, so that the taunt which has been hurled at opponents of this Bill who arc possessed of wealth cannot be applied to me. I am, comparatively speaking, a poor man, dependent upon my allowance as a member of Parliament for the sustenance of my family and myself. As to the question put to me by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell), I may say at once that I shall draw the increased allowance, but that not one penny of it will go to benefit me, my wife, my children, or any of my relatives.
– The honorable member will just use it to sweeten his electors !
– If the honorable member will be good enough to let me measure my corn by my own bushel, and not by his, I shall be much obliged.
– I should have to pay too much for it.
– The honorable member changed his political coat in order to remain in politics, and I do not want such interjections from a man who has done that. I do not intend, as he says, to use this extra £400 a year to sweeten my electors. In respect of the first two or three months it will go to the widow of Emil Roesler, to whom the Government, in my opinion, owes at least six months’ salary, in lieu of the six months’ leave that was due to Roesler before he was interned. He died in the internment camp.
– ‘Will that not be sweetening up your electors, who are nearly all Germans?
– If, in the opinion of the honorable member for Adelaide, it will have that effect, I can only say that he is a good judge of ulterior motives. I leave the matter at that.
– The honorable member is going to use the money to sweeten up the Germans in his electorate.
– The Government put the late Emil Roesler into the internment camp, where he died, and since he had been in the Public Service for thirty years, and had six months’ leave due to him, the Government should have granted his widow an amount equal .to the salary which he would have drawn in respect of that period. The Government have declined to do so, and as the chance comes to me to make good that amount by giving this Government money to the widow I shall do so. After that, if I know of any case of destitution on the part of Australian-born Germans who have been interned I shall use the increased payment to assist them, because this Government has refused to do so. If I know of any such cases of destitution, I am prepared to give something to assist, and, after that - and this is where the bulk of the money will go - I shall hand it either to the South Australian Labour party or the Daily Herald, whichever I think the more needy or deserving. I will bring the receipts for this money, month by month, and hand them to the secretary of the Australian Political Labour party, whoever he may be at the time.
In my opinion, it is unwise to make this increase, because we in this Parliament have said that there is need for economy at the present time. The other day the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), when we were asking for a little extra help for returned soldiers, pleaded the necessity for economy, but now the same honorable gentleman, and the Government, are prepared to spend another £44,000 a year on the salaries of honorable members. The Government preach economy when the necessity for telephone lines and other public utilities are proposed; but under pressure of honorable members they have allowed economy to go to the four winds of heaven; with indecent haste they have introduced the Bill in order that the parliamentary allowance may be augmented. The proposal is unwise, not only because it is a discouragement to the practice of economy, but also because it is an encouragement to those in Government employ to act likewise. Perhaps I am not correct in saying that, because, as & matter of fact, if Government employees acted in a similar way they would be sent to gaol. If our salaries are increased, it will be perfectly justifiable for public servants, whose wages afford a bare livelihood for themselves and families, to come, as they doubtless will, and rightly, and endeavour to have them increased. Further, this proposal is unwise because it will encourage the community to do as it is proposed we shall do - whenever they think they ought to have increased payment, to take it. Nearly every honorable member opposite condemned the engineers for striking; but what was that strike compared with the attitude of some of those honorable members now? This Parliament is set up before the people as an example - that is, if they want anything and can get it, they should take it, regardless of the fact that, as has been said in the course of this debate, it savours of “ sharp practice.” Honorable members opposite can now have nothing to say- against any unionist who takes direct action in order to increase his wages. Then, the proposal is unwise, because it is belittling the political world. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the other day had a “ shot “ at the newspapers of this State, and told them that when they held up politicians to ridicule, they were assisting to overthrow political institutions. Not all that the Melbourne press has written in. twelve months could make political institutions stink in the nostrils of the people more than does the proposal of the Government to-night. It would have been altogether wrong for me to support this Bill, considering that, in my maiden speech here, I contended that what is necessary, if we are to solve the problems ahead, is sacrifice on the part of the whole community. That opinion I. still hold; and the proposal before u3 is certainly no encouragement to sacrifice. My next objection to this so-called “salary grab” is that it is unfair. “We are public servants, and there are other public servants; there are employees in this House who are paid £3 lOs. a week, which is insufficient to enable a man with a family to make ends meet. Honorable members have spoken on behalf of these employees, and weeks ago asked that their wages should be increased; but no increase is as yet forthcoming. If it is just that we who are receiving £12 a week should have our salaries increased, it certainly is not fair that those public servants should have to wait week after week-
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to be a little more tolerant of an honorable member who’ is addressing the House. I have several times called for order, and I again draw special attention to the fact that to interject immediately after order has been called for, is not only extremely discourteous to the Chair, but an affront to the House itself.
– The old-age pensioners are receiving only what is barely sufficient, and the last increase in the pension does not represent more than 20 per cent.; but, in the case of members of this House, it is proposed to add 60 per cent, to their allowance. Those who are in charge of allowance post-offices are so insufficiently paid that some offices out-back have had to be closed.
– Give them some of your increased allowance.
– If the honorable member will mind his own business, I shall mind mine.
– Order ! The honorable member should speak to the question.
– Mr. Speaker, I regard that remark of the honorable member as insulting.
– -I have already called the honorable member who is addressing the House to order, but I remind the honorable member who raises the objection that- the retort was the result of a disorderly interjection by himself.
– In my opinion, the proposed increase is, generally speaking, not earned. I have listened to honorable members opposite, and have been much amused by some of their statements. I have .only a short experience of this House, but, generally speaking, I do not think, as I say, that the increase is earned. We can come and go when we like; I have repeatedly counted the House, and found on many occasions not more than fifteen of the seventy-five members in the chamber. We ought to do the work for which we are paid. On occasions I have expressed my desire to call attention to the state of the House, but have been advised not to do so in case I became regarded as a bore. If this increased salary is approved, however, and in the future I find there is not a quorum present, I shall certainly draw Mr. Speaker’s attention to the fact. Whether the salary is £600 or £1,000, it is the duty of ‘honorable members to be present at least a portion of their time.
– I must ask the honorable member not to cast reflections on other honorable members. I remind him that, if members are absent from the chamber, it does not necessarily follow that they are absent from thenduties. They are probably occupied in other parts of the building. They have a heavy correspondence to attend to, and meetings of various Committees of the House are often in progress in the Library and elsewhere while the House is sitting. Their temporary absence from the chamber in such circumstances is unavoidable in the discharge of their other parliamentary duties.
– I do not wish to cast any reflections. I am merely stating what actually takes place.
– The honorable member should not accuse other honorable members of having neglected their duties through not attending in the chamber, unless he has knowledge that justifies the accusation.
– Apparently I cannot say all that I think, but as I cannot say what I think, I still can think it. I have noticed that it is possible for an honorable member to get two months’ leave of absence on the .ground of urgent private business. I must not say where it has happened, or you, Mr. Speaker, will pull me up.
– The honorable member is again infringing the rules of the House in reflecting on a decision of the House. Leave of absence is only given by a decision of the House, which is the sole judge of whether the circumstances of each case justify such leave being granted. The statement of the honorable member constitutes a reflection on the votes of the House, which is a breach of the Standing Orders.
– I find that I am hedged in in many directions by the Standing Orders. Here is another reason why I shall not vote f or the increase. I find that £12 per week is sufficient for me to live decently upon. I believe that, with the aid of my good wife, I can put by some savings out of the present allowance. Of course, I speak knowing how short has been my time here, but at some future date, when I give some consideration to what other honorable members have said, I may see that I have been wrong in saying this. However, I am speaking as I find things, and, such being the case, I am able to give the whole of my time to attendance at the House, seeking to do the country’s business.
– We are all very sorry,
– The Prime Minister is just the same to me as any other honorable member, with this exception, that I receive less courtesy from him than I have got from any other member. In the circumstances, it makes no difference to me whether he is sorry or glad. I am also against the increase because of the way it has been brought about. What is behind it? What has made this economy Government prepared’ to give an increase of £44,000 a year? It is well known in Parliament that one of the greatest thorns in the side of a Ministry is the number of its supporters who are hungry for office. They are troublesome to the Government, and this Government has recently been in trouble if the Age is to be relied on to give correct information. Seeing that it has helped to put the Government back into power, I can at least quote it upon this subject. On the 13th May last it 6aid -
The position of the Federal Government during the past fortnight has been far from happy. Proposals brought forward by the Ministry with regard to hoth the Repatriation Bill and the Bill to ratify the agreement entered into with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company have not been received with unanimous approval even by the Government’s own immediate supporters. A few weeks ago the political atmosphere was comparatively clear, but the happenings of the last two weeks have served to demonstrate how narrow the majority is that the Government can command in the House.
In view of the present unsettled situation, interest attaches to a meeting of the Ministerial party to be held to-day, at which there is likely to be some very plain speaking. Members are likely to be told that unless they are prepared to pull together with the Ministry, it will be useless for the Government to attempt to carry on very much longer.
Thus we have it. Trouble in the Government! Very well, how is it to be got over ? The A ge next morning said -
As foreshadowed in the Age, there was some plain speaking at the meeting of the Ministerial party held at Federal Parliament House yesterday morning. The Prime Minister emphasized the futility of attempting to carry on without the whole-hearted support of all members of the party. As a result of his remarks, a better spirit prevails among the Government’s supporters, and the political atmosphere has become much clearer.
And in the very next column it said -
Members of the House of Representatives are about to make another raid on the Treasury, with the object of further increasing their salaries. Quite unexpectedly, Mr. Bamford (Queensland), as “father” of the House, yesterday, on the motion for the House to go into Committee of Supply, moved an amendment to the effect that members’ salaries be increased from £600 to £1,000 a year.
This is the position. First of all, we have trouble in the Ministerial camp. There is a hungering after office. How is the difficulty, to be overcome? An increase of salary ought to have some effect in this direction.
– I must really ask the honorable member not to continue in that strain. He must’ see that he is imputing unworthy motives to other honorable members by indirectly accusing them of being amenable to bribery. He may state his arguments from his point of view as forcibly and vigorously as he chooses within the limits of fair and decent debate, but he must not make insulting insinuations that other honorable members who take another view do so from base and dishonorable motives.
The imputation of unworthy motives is expressly forbidden by our Standing Orders.
– I am told that everything is fair in politics, and from what I have seen of political strife it seems to be a rule that it is quite fair for a member of one party to attack the party he is opposing. That is what I am seeking to do at the present time. How is it that the Economy Government has brought down this increase of £44,000? How is it that men like the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Navy, who went out and said that honorable members on this side were Sinn Feiners, pro-Germans, disloyalists, and traitors to their country are now giving those traitors this increase unless there is something behind it? That is what I want to get at.
Honorable members laughing. .
– Order ! This is not a subject for levity. Very serious insinuations of bribery have been levelled against honorable members, and the House cannot but suffer in reputation if such remarks are allowed to pass in a jocular spirit. The honorable member has cast a very distinct and odious reflection onother honorable members, and unless he is prepared in a regular way to make specific charges he cannot be permitted to continue a speech on such offensive lines. I have cautioned him more than once already that he is transgressing the rules of the House.
– As I would like to move a motion that an inquiry should be made into the allegation which the honorable member is making, I move -
That the honorable member’s words be taken down.
– Do not exalt him.
– Very well, I withdraw the motion.
– I must ask the honorable member for Angas to conform to the rules of the House, and not indulge in offensive insinuations.
– Here is the point I was trying to make, and at least I can say this without being pulled up.
– I want the honorable member to understand that it is not my desire to intervene for the sake of preventing him from speaking. My desire is to secure for him the utmost freedom in making his speech in conformity with legitimate debate and the rules of the House, but the honorable member may only speak by conforming to the Standing Orders, which are equally binding upon other honorable members. I try to prevent interruptions, but I realize how difficult it is for other honorable members to keep silence under circumstances of such provocation as he gives them.
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad that there is at least one man in the House who feels that this is a serious matter. I am not saying these things because I want to say them. I have spoken what I believe to be right and as the position appeals to me; But seeing that I am on dangerous ground, and because what I am saying is apparently becoming very offensive to some honorable members, I leave that aspect of the matter to say that there are one or two things which have been mentioned during the debate which I would like to answer, and which I think I will be safe in answering.
– On a point of order I ask if the honorable member is not aggravating his offence by saying that he has only said what he believes.
– It must be remembered that the honorable member is a new member, and is perhaps not as familiar with the forms of the House as older members may be. In such circumstances certain allowances, I think, should be made for inexperience, but I would ask the honorable member to keep on the track of legitimate criticism and adhere to the Standing Orders. He may express his objections to the Bill in as forceful parliamentary language as he choos s to employ so long as he does not cast reflections on or impute unworthy motives to other honorable members.
– I am surprised at the honorable member for Robertson taking exception to another honorable member saying that he believes in what he is saying. I made the remark without any intention of aggravating my offence.
– That matter has already been disposed of.
– I shall answer one or two of the statements made in the course of the debate. The Prime Minister made use of words to the effect that if honorable members were not sufficiently remunerated it would be possible for only wealthy men to enter this Parliament. If every man in this Chamber went out of it because he thought £12 per week an insufficient remuneration, men quite as capable ‘would enter it and carry on the legislation of the country. It has been pointed out that the Constitution left.it to -the Parliament to fix the remuneration of members; but it must not be forgotten that the Convention that drew up the Constitution was composed almost entirely of politicians, who naturally had confidence in the wisdom and judgment of politicians, and sympathized with them. It was also stated that a higher remuneration would have the tendency to keep men honest, but I contend that a man who would be dishonest on £600 a year would be dishonest on £1,000 a year : that if a man is inclined to be dishonest it is a matter of opportunity whether he succumbs to temptation or not. No doubt some honorable members sincerely believe that . they should be paid more than £12 per week, but others who hold a contrary view are equally sincere.
– Though they are going to give the money that they get to a German Club.
– The honorable member seems to be much offended because I intend to give some of my allowance to the widow of a man who was interned, and to whom this Government, I think, owed six months’ salary. She cannot get hexjust dues in any other way. I do not accept him as the judge of my actions. There are others to whom I would rather go than to one who has changed his political coat, and has betrayed those who put him into Parliament.’
– The honorable member’s remarks are distinctly offensive, and I ask him to withdraw them.
– If it is by using the word “betrayed” that I have erred, I withdraw it. I would not go to a man who, having been elected to a public position bv the workers, left them in their hour ox need to battle as they best could, and turned in his hour of success to a party that has never fought in the interests of those who lifted him up.
– On this question I have no desire to be numbered with the saints, like the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. In my judg ment, the claim for an increased allowance has been fully upheld. The public generally is unaware of the great sacrifices made by the members of this Parliament. A good case having been made for increasing the parliamentary allowance, the question is whether the sum of £1,000, which is provided for in the Bill, is a fair one. I regard it as a just and reasonable remuneration, having regard to the work and responsibility of the position, and particularly so if compared with what obtains in the State Parliaments and in other countries. It has been suggested that the fixing of the parliamentary allowance should be sent to -the people by way of referendum, but, to my mind, the suggestion is absurd, because the Constitution clearly empowers^ Parliament to deal with the question. My only quarrel with honorable gentlemen in this matter is as to method. In my judgment, some intimation should have been made at the last general election by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, or should have appeared in their programmes, that it wo intended to increase members’ allowances’. At the last election, I was distinctly asked whether I would vote to increase the allowance to members, of Parliament, and replied that I would not do so unless tha matter had been put before the country at a general election. It is to be regretted that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition did not refer to the present increase at the last election. Had they done so, the people could have given the matter consideration, and voted accordingly. I do not hesitate to say that I believe that members are entitled to an increased allowance, and have made out a thoroughly good case for what is proposed, but I, of course, stand by my promise referred to.
.- It has always been my pleasure and desire to assist in improving the conditions of those with whom I have been associated. When at the bench in the ‘workshop, I was always ready to help to improve the conditions of those working with me, as well as my own condition. Whenever the men with me were prepared to take a certain stand, I, like a good Labour man and a good unionist, was ready to take my part, and to steadily support all endeavours to improve working conditions. I shall not take up any other attitude at the present time. When an opportunity affords itself for the improvement of the conditions under which a man labours, he should take it; and I am fortified on this occasion by the almost unanimous opinion of my fellows, who have had many years’ experience of public life. It would have been very easy, knowing how the numbers will go, to cross to the other side of the chamber,, and afterwards to accept the increase without bearing any responsibility for it; but, as one who holds to his principles, and wishes to show that he is a man, I cannot accept what I regard as a justifiable increase without shouldering my share of responsibility for it. I cannot see that any offence which it is alleged there may be in, taking J;he increase can be condoned by promising to give part of it to this person or to that. I have as much charity in my heart as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), or any other honorable member opposing this measure, and in the Hindmarsh Division there are some very poor persons whom I should like to assist more than I have done; but in. matters of this kind I do not let my left hand know what my right hand is doing, and do not make public what should be regarded as secret and sacred. It pains met to have to criticise a colleague with whom I am frequently associated, and for whose frankness and candour I have a great respect; but when he says that there are persons as capable as the present members who are willing to do our work for the remuneration that we receive; I tell him that he is using what is not the argument of a good unionist. There are always men willing to undercut the man who is called upon to make a sacrifice for the sake of principle, and at times of industrial strife such men are always ready to take advantage of others’ misfortunes. But it shall never be said of me that I did so. I have greatly misjudged organized Labour if it is opposed to the action taken by me and my fellow-workers to improve our conditions of life. The honorable member said that we should consider economy, but if he accepts the increase, he does not study economy, whether he uses’ the money himself, or pays it away to others ? Therefore, as he is going to be an accessory to the act in accepting the increase, whether it is for his own personal interest or not, he is not immune from the responsibility of the carrying of this mea- sure. If any man in a sphere such as this cannot be of the value prescribed in this Bill to his constituents, there should be no room here for him. How many briefs would those gentlemen who practice at the bar be willing to accept for £1,000? I listened to the speech of my most learned friend the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) the other day in opposition to the proposal. If there is one thing that I should like to see provided in this Bill it is that members shall give their undivided time to the duties of the House. The honorable member tried to lecture m& and others for our intention to vote for the increase, although he and many other members who are adopting the same attitude are willing to supplement their incomes through the medium either of business or professional duties, and, to a very great extent, to absent themselves from the business of this House. I desire always to maintain the highest moral standard in those circumstances of life in which I am placed,, and I want the moral character of the public, life of this country to be beyond suspicion. Those who have to discharge public duties should be placed in such a position as to be able to feel that they are receiving sufficient consideration without being subject to any temptation to do things about which there might be some suspicion. I am prepared to remove every” circumstance which might make such suspicions possible.
I have no recollection of any of those members who are opposing this Bill having asked questions .concerning the urgency of making proper provision for those who carry out the more humble yet important duties connected with the House, whereas those who to-day are advocating the increase in the allowance of honorable members aire the very ‘ones who have been most active and energetic concerning the claims of those people, who are certainly underpaid.
– -This is the third occasion on which I have spoken for them.
– But I have not heard the honorable member ask you, Mr. Speaker, what progress has been made. The mere giving utterance to general sentiments does not help towards finality, and’ a member who is anxious to do something generally goes to the fountain head to find out what is necessary to be done.
I desire to raise the standard of life and comfort throughout this community and continent. I should like to see. the circumstances and general conditions of life amongst my fellow-countrymen based upon, the same standard as prevails from time to time in the National Parliament which governs them. I want to see a raising of the social status, and it will be my constant endeavour in that way to justify the claim I am now making for extra remuneration foc members of this Parliament. There are some men associated with the duties of this Chamber and with Government Departments who are receiving a great deal” more than honorable members receive. I believe the Clerk of the House receives £1,000 a year.
– He earns it, too.
– I do not dispute it, but he has not the same calls upon his purse that honorable members have. Whilst his position may be one of responsibility, I do not think it is more responsible than ours. The Solicitor-General, the Crown Solicitor, the Federal Statistician, the Secretary of the Treasury, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, and the Secretary of the Postmaster-General’s Department all receive £1,000 per year each, or more, for the services they render to the Commonwealth. They have permanent positions, and no elections to fight, and have not the same calls upon their purses as we have as members of Parliament.
– Still, they earn what they receive.
– I have never disputed it. I am simply showing that the allowance which members receive to-day, so far from being excessive, is not nearly as much as it should be, and as many believe it ought to be.
There is a number of people in the community who are trying to gain a certain amount of limelight and applause at the expense of honorable members. In South Australia there is a certain cheapjack, by name and nature, who cannot be deemed other than a fanatic in respect to reform, and a much disappointed man in the realms of politics, running about from place to . place trying to cast odium upon members who desire to improve the conditions prevailing here, and to bring them into disrepute with the electors. I have every respect for public opinion, but I do not think the public desire that their servants should be underpaid. When I entered this Parliament I thought I was going to save money out of my allowance. I know that when election time comes there will be calls upon it which will make it less than £12 a week, birt, even then, I thought I would have been able to save. My experience, however, has proved to me that, in many respects, I am not in that position which I should occupy as a citizen and a public man. I find that instead of being able to advance my financial circumstances, unfortunately I am not able to respond to calls upon my salary as liberally as. I hoped to be able to do. I feel sure the people will recognise the justice of the claim, and realize that whilst we are endeavouring to do what we can to improve the general conditions of the community, there is also an obligation upon the people to see nhat the emoluments of their representatives in the National Parliament are in keeping with the imp*ortance of the position.
.- I was not present last week when the vote was taken on the motion submitted by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), but I have no desire to give a silent vote on the Bill. I was asked last week by certain electors in my constituency if I would have voted for the motion had I been present, and I replied that if I had voted to increase the allowance to £1,000 a year it would have been because I thought I was worth the money, and intended to take it; that if I could not vote for it, I would not take it. I believe that members of this Parliament are entitled to a salary in keeping with the performance of their very important national duties, and I think the House is quite justified in increasing the salaries of its members. The Constitution specially provides that we shall have this power. The fact that we are considering a measure to increase our own salaries does not suggest that we shall be unmindful of the rights of other workers. On the contrary, I venture the opinion that men who value themselves at less than £600 a year - and some honorable members are inclined to do that - are not likely to improve the condition of the workers. A man who recognises his own value, is more likely to do the best for his fellow-men. Not only shall I vote for the Bill, but I can assure honorable members that I shall not go to any of my constituents and say - “Mr. Von Heinreich, are you hard up? Do you want a fiver? Well here it is.” I shall not go amongst my “ dear “ German friends who live in the division of Adelaide and distribute part of my salary amongst them. I shall not do anything to assist the Tanunda Club, for instance, to fight for the right to re-open. I shall not issue circulars in the division of Angas, urging the Government to re-open the German schools so that “poor” little German children may be again taught in the Germanlanguage, and to honour the Kaiser instead of the Union Jack and our King. That is what some people would do to get into this House.
– You ought to be shot ifyou attempted to do that.
– I am saying that I shall not attempt to do it. If I lived in the division of Angas I hope I would be too honest to crawl and cringe to Ger- mans to get into a British House of Parliament.
– Thenyou would not issue an electoral circular in the German language ?
– No ; nor would I make an appeal to the Germans.
– That is what your party did on a previous occasion, then.
– When this Bill is carried I shall not distribute any of the increase in salary among the “ poor “ unfortunate people who were interned, because I think I am worth the full thousand myself, and, as a good trade unionist, I feel that any increase in salary should not be used for the purpose of bribing electors to return me for another three years.
– The question is an abstract one: Is the position worth it?
– It is. But I want to clear up these little points. My friend, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), who is now a leading ornament of his party, has told us that he will distribute this surplus cash first to Germans in his district, and then to the Herald, and the Labour party funds. It is unfair for any honorable member of this House, knowing that his selection for a division is determined by plebiscite, to bribe the Germans, and also the members of his own party, to record their votes in his favour.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the accusation of bribery. ‘
– I know it is out of order, Mr. Speaker, and I unreservedly withdraw it, but I am sorry the forms of the House do not allow me to express myself as I would like to.
– That cuts no ice now.
– I do not know about that.
– You do not get any Labour support from that kind of tripe, let me tell you.
– Order ! The honorable member for Batman has made use of an offensive expression, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
– Whether honorable members vote for this Bill or not, we all ought to be perfectly honest about the matter. If the honorable member for Angas does not value himself at £1,000 a year, nobody will quarrel with him. After his speech to-night, I could easily imagine he is not worth £600 a year, but, of course, that is a matter for his constituents to decide. I shall record my vote in favour of this Bill. I shall not give to a German any of my money, and I shall not attempt to buy selection by my party by making a contribution to any organization connected with my party. I shall vote for this increased allowance, and take it, because I believe that those who are returned by the constituencies to the Federal Parliament should receive such an allowance as will enable them to uphold the dignity of the position, and to properly discharge the important duties attaching to it. . Whatever may happen, I shall not attempt in any way to make political capital out of this matter. This is not a party question; it is one on which members of all parties are free to express their opinions, and to say whether they approve or disapprove of it. I regret exceedingly certain other statements made by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), but so far as they relate to myself and my loyalty to my principles, I realize that, having regard to the source from which they came, I need not waste the time of the House in dealing with them.
.- I confess, Mr. Speaker, that when I entered this House this afternoon I felt that I was within the precincts of some sacred institution, the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies. While the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was speaking in advocacy of this Bill there was no murmur. There was absolute silence, and I am sure that since the return of this Parliament you have not had the privilege of presiding over so peaceful a gathering. No honorable member is freer than I am to express an opinion on this ques-ti on. I am not going to consult anybody or any party in regard to the vote I shall cast. I shall be guided solely by my own conscience. I have the honour to represent a constituency which never failed to support justice. The people of New England selected me to represent them, and returned me with a fine majority.
– A good working man’s majority.
– If the honorable member had worked as hard as I have, both physically arid mentally, he would’ not have made that interjection. I was not asked during the recent election campaign whether I approved of an increased allowance to members; but had I been questioned on the subject I should have at once said that I was not in favour of an increase in the payment of members. Thank God, I have the liberty of exercising my own judgment. Honorable members must appreciate the fact that while they live in any one State they are narrowed down by State prejudices, but when they enter this National Parliament their mind’s become exalted - they rise above all State considerations, and become Australians. Since my return to this House I have heard so much, particularly from the Opposition, regarding your action, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the payment of the officials in this building, that I shall not cast a vote giving .preference to any one unless those who are permanently engaged in this House are given what we call to-day a living wage.
– I would remind the honorable member that, apart from the erroneous nature of his statement, it is not in order to discuss the Speaker in the debates of this House. The occupant of the chair cannot enter into a discussion with honorable members, or refute statements made by them in the ordinary course of debate; and it is, therefore, a well-recognised principle of parliamentary procedure that reference to the Speaker must be kept out of the debates. The honorable member has just involved me in an unmerited imputation, which I hope to answer on a more fitting occasion.
– When the Bill goes into Committee I shall move that the members of this House receive no allowance whatever.
– That amendment will not be seconded.
– I hope that it will be, because it will make those who are shivering and shaking and wavering on this question come to a decision. I may not have the gift of the gab, like the honorable member for Angas-
– The honorable member can easily get the gift of him.
– The honorable member who has just interjected has been appointed to the honorary position of phrenologist to the House. He has been feeling every politician’s bumps for the last thirty years, and is well qualified to interject as he has done. When the Bill reaches Committee I shall exercise my judgment as to how I shall vote upon it. But I intend moving that no allowancewhatever shall be paid to members of this Parliament, because they must either voluntarily discharge their functions or they must receive an adequate allowance.
– Does the honorable member intend to vote for the payment of £1,000 a year?
– I know that the honorable member for West Sydney is capable of discussing constitutional law with the Prime Minister; but this is another question. I suppose that my human instincts are just as strong as those of other honorable members, and I am convinced that a representative of the people cannot devote himself to the best interests of this country if he has constantly to consider how his wife and family are faring. There is nothing so disturbing to his mentality as the thought that by reason of his devotion to public duty he is depriving those who are dearest to him of the benefits which he could confer upon them if he were engaged in other undertakings. If Australia is to have good government she can secure it only by the . devotion of those who are intrusted with the control of her affairs. I believe that every man is worthy of his hire, and I am satisfied that this Commonwealth can be efficiently governed only by the devotion of our united thought to its affairs, but that result can be achieved only when material considerations do not constantly intrude upon one’s peace of mind. Every man who devotes his life to the betterment of his country unquestionably makes a great sacrifice. I may be here to-day and away to-morrow, but no fear will deter me from registering my vote in accordance with the dictates of conscience. I shall vote in such a way as will enable the best brains of this country to be engaged in this Chamber in a representative capacity.
– I think that I ought to place upon record my attitude towards this Bill, especially as I have paired upon it with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), who is absent through .illness Certainly I do not intend to impute motives to other honorable members who may view the Bill in a different light from that in which I view it. I recognise that if I had to depend solely upon the parliamentary allowance which is paid to honorable members I, would be bankrupt within six months. But I have always regarded that payment as an allowance rather than as a salary. When I was in this House some ten years ago, my experience was similar to that which has been narrated by those who have spoken in favour of the Bill. When I quitted this Chamber I was some £800 ot £900 worse off than when I entered it, and during all that time I might have been making money had I been able to attend to my own business. But, having had this previous experience, and recognising the sacrifice which was involved, I deliberately accepted the position which I now occupy at the present allowance, and I will not be a party to any proposal to increase that allowance. During the recent campaign, when I was asked whether I would oppose an increase of the present payment during the life of this Parliament, I told my committee that, in view of the necessity for economy, I would do so. From that decision I cannot deviate. I shall, therefore, vote against the measure.
.I was not present on Thursday last when the honorable member for Herbert (Mr.
Bamford) submitted his motion regarding an increase of our parliamentary allowance. But the way in which I shall vote upon this Bill was settled at the time of the last election. The Tasmanian Parliament had just previously increased the salary of its members, and, as a result, throughout my campaign a great many persons were constantly accusing the Commonwealth Government of an intention to raise the allowance which is granted to members of this Parliament. I denied their accusation, because I had never heard a hint of any such proposal. I was then asked whether I would support an increase in that allowance, and my reply was that I would vote against it. That is the position which I occupy to-night. My only object in rising is to place on record my reason for the attitude I am taking.
– This is not a question of whether it is right or wrong that the salary of honorable members should be £700, £800, or £1,000, but whether it is right or wrong, at the present juncture, to fix the latter salary. Every man here had the same mind prior to the elections in December last that he has now. We hear honorable members who support the Bill making the statement that they are not afraid to speak their minds to their constituents, or afraid of what the press may say; but if they are not afraid now they ought not to have been afraid prior to December last. They knew when they were nominated that the salary would be £600, and not one word had been said before the expiration of the last Parliament that it was to be increased.
– Are you in favour of submitting the price of wheat to referendum i
– I am not in favour of such a referendum. Before the elections honorable members would have been afraid to express the opinion that they express now, but now they say that they were not. That is a bold statement. A man who enters Parliament with a view to making money makes the mistake of his life; in any case, this is a wrong time to make a proposal of this kind. This Parliament has practically its three years to go, and honorable members who support the Bill are, apparently, of the opinion that the memory of the public is rather short, and that the increase will be forgotten before another election. I am sure that honorable members who reside in other States must have great difficulty in,” carrying on “ with a salary of £600 ; but I can hardly see how any difference could be made between States in this connexion. Members who are professional men living in Sydney may be compelled to sacrifice the whole of their private business, and depend on politics alone, whereas other professional members who live in Melbourne have to make no sacrifice at all, but rather find Parliament a benefit to their business. I am not saying that we would be overpaid at £1,000 a year, but the increase should not be made, in view of the fact that the electors were not made aware of any intention of the kind before the elections. There is one phase of the question which might well have found a place in the Bill. The Electoral Act prevents a candidate from giving money away prior to his election, andI think a like provision should be applied to him as a member. It is calls of the kind I suggest that reduce the salary to an amount too small for a member of the National Parliament. I am going to vote against the Bill. As I say, if the question had been raised prior to the election, the position would have been different, but no honorable member was “game” then to agitate for a salary of £1,000.
– I do not intend to detain the House at this late hour, especially as the “ numbers are up,” and also in view of the fact that I had an opportunity the other evening of giving my reasons why I shall vote against this proposal. I agree with the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) that any man who is going to accept this allowance, if it be approved, should vote for the Bill. I am going to vote against the Bill; and though two honorable members who object to it, have said that they will take the increase as enabling them to distribute their doles more widely, I feel that we have no right to the money, and I cannot accept it under any circumstances.
– You have plenty without it.
– -I have not, and I would sooner have an allowance of £1,000 than £600 a year. I am dependent for my living on the sweat of my own brains - I have no other source of income. I wish to reiterate the point I made the other night, because I think honorable members have got quite away from it. Nine-tenths of the discussion has been devoted to the proposal on its merits ; there has been no real attempt made to meet the objection of those who oppose the measure, that our masters have had no say in the matter.
– They accepted the Constitution.
– In the Constitution it is provided that the allowance or remuneration of honorable members shall be £400 a year until otherwise provided by Parliament, and no one has ever disputed for a moment that this Parliament and this Parliament only, has the power to increase it. The appeal to the Constitution does not meet the objection that, having accepted a position at a certain figure, we should increase that figure without saying one word to our masters.
– How do you know ?
– I say that, as a Parliament, we have not said one word to our masters, though individuals may have done so; and that is one reason why I do not take it on myself to judge honorable members. I repeat what I said before, that every man ought to satisfy his own conscience, and I say that in spite of the sneering remark made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs).
– You brought that on yourself.
– Because I said that I was going to vote according to my conscience
– You questioned the honesty of other people.
– I did not-I was careful not to do so - and I think no honorable members will say that I am in the habit of imputing motives.
– You said we were dishonest.
– I did not; the burden of what I said was that if honorable members regard the position as I do, they will see that this is a dishonest proposal, because we accepted service at a certain figure and then, when our master’s back is turned, we dip our hands in the public purse.
– That is worse!
– That is, from my point of view, what we are doing.
– The honorable member has a marvellously elastic conscience.
– He lost his conscience when he took up the defence of criminals.
– The honorable member talks about defending criminals, but I have heard more special pleading in this House to-night than I have ever listened to during the whole ,of my experience at the criminal Bar. The only redeeming feature about the debate has been the marvellous unanimity of opinion that has been expressed, the fact that men who in other regards are as wide as the poles apart are on this question “ loeing each other like very brithers.’
– For instance, the honorable member and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb).
– To me, it was quite touching to notice the marvellous way in which honorable members on the Opposition side hung upon every word that fell from the lips of the Prime Minister. In other circumstances, they are continually gibing at him, and’ .hurling all kinds of reproaches at him. But tonight, when they listened to him on this Bill, we heard from them not a single word of anything but the most perfect approval of everything he said.
I have been accustomed, since I came into this House, to hear honorable members on the other side tell honorable members on this side that the people are our masters. We have had that constantly cast up to us. We have been told that we forget whose servants we are, and that if we do not serve our masters faithfully we will have to answer for it when we go back to them.
– The honorable member will be praised by the Age for this in the morning.
– The running commentary of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) is not very pleasant.
– I ask honorable members hot to interrupt. -It must be difficult for the honorable member to speak with so many interruptions, and difficult, also, for the Hansard staff to hear what he says.
– It is constantly cast up to us by the other side that we are responsible to our masters, and should think of them. What I say is that I undertook employment in this House-
– To give the fag-end of your time.
– No. I do not give the fag-end. of my time to my duties here. The best answer to that statement is that when I stood on the hustings on the last occasion, having served for one Parliament, and one candidate from the opposite side offered to give the electors all his time, I told them that they would get only part of my time, and yet they chose me. I am told, forsooth, by some honorable members that I neglect my parliamentary duties.
– So” the honorable member does.
– What right has any man to say that I neglect my duties ? Thank God, honorable members opposite are not the judges of that. The people are the judges, and so long as I have their approval, I do not care a snap of the fingers for that of any one else. These gentlemen prate about their democratic ideals, and talk about trusting the people, but when there . is a suggestion that their allowance should be raised, they say, “Don’t go near the people; don’t refer it to the people.” We have been given two reasons why we should not refer this matter to the people. One by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), who says “ Do not refer it to the people, because” they do not understand it. They do not understand what the duties of a member of Parliament are. What is the use of discussing the matter with them. They will not understand it.” I should like to have seen the honorable member, when he was wooing the suffrages of the electors, going on to the platform and dealing with some complicated question of policy contrasting that of the Labour party with that of the Nationalist party, ,and saying, “Now, ladies and gentlemen, there is one matter I have not touched upon, which is far more important and far more complicated and difficult than any of the questions with which I have dealt” - (Breathless attention). “What is it? A rise in my screw. You are fit to express opinions on any of the complicated questions which I have been elaborating, but this is above and beyond you.”
– And it is above the honorable member.
– I am trying to give reasons for the position I take up, and I should like to hear what reply honorable members have to make to what I have said. They tell us that the people do not understand this question sufficiently to enable them to give an intelligent vote upon it.
– The honorable member will be lauded for this speech in the Age.
– The Prime Minister gave another reason. He says, “ Do not refer it to the people.” Why? “Because they will vote against it.” That was the reason we got from the Prime Minister.. He says, “We have an example from South Australia. They asked for a very modest rise, but the people turned their request down; and so, for any sake, if you want the rise, do not ask the people for it.”
Very well, I say be honest in regard to the matter, and face the facts. If honorable members take up that position, it is understandable. Let them say, “ We are going to raise our own salaries because the people do not understand the question, and there is no use discussing it with them,” or “ because if we did ask them, we should have no chance of success. Therefore, if we want a rise, we had better take it.”
– Do the honorable member’s clients fix his fees?
-No ; they do not. I fix my fee, and generally a fairly high one, and I tell my clients that they can get advice next door for half the money, and are under no obligation to come to me.
– Does the honorable member ask them where the money comes from with which they payhis fees?
– No, I certainly do not.
– The honorable member will have a big article in the Age this morning.
– I am glad to see that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) got home on the honorable member.
– Order ! I ask honorable members to cease their interjections.
– There is one thing I have remarked about the speeches of a good many honorable members, and it is that, to hear them speak, one would think that the electors are running after them to secure their services.
– They do to secure mine.
-Then I imagine that my honorable friend is a brilliant exception. I wonder if there are any other honorable members whom the electors run after.
– I was up at Darlinghurst one night, and I saw and heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) running after the electors.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has done more running after the electors than any other member in this House.
– I hope that that interjection by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) will be taken down. I do not think that honorable members generally would indorse that ungenerous remark.
– Are not the terms of the honorable member’s contract upon which he entered Parliament governed by section 48 of the Constitution?
– What does section 48 of the Constitution say?
-That Parliament shall determine the terms of the contracts - the remuneration for our services.
– It was fixed at a certain amount “until the Parliament otherwise provides.” Certainly, I agree that Parliament is the only tribunal that can raise the allowance of honorable members; but that does not obviate the necessity for referring the matter to our employers, and telling them that it is our suggestion that our present remuneration is inadequate for the duties we perform.
– If they had desired that, the words which have been quoted would not have been included in the Constitution, and then it would have been necessary to go to the people for a decision, as in the case of other matters, by a referendum.
– Under section 48 of the Constitution this Parliament, and no other body, can alter the allowance paid to honorable members, and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) therefore says that, without any reference of the matter to the people, we have the right to do it ourselves.
– I say that theoretically the honorable member is right; but as a matter of practical politics it cannot be done.
– As a matter of practical politics it can be done. Seeing that there seems to be so much unanimity on all sides in this House as to the necessity for the rise, what is to prevent the different parties in the House on the eve of an election discussing the matter, and saying, “ We are agreed that the salaries of honorable members should be raised from £600 to £1,000 a year,” and submitting the simple question to the electors, “ Are you in favour of the proposed increase, yes orno?”?
– It could not be done as a question of practical politics. You would have at theelection the cheap auction business of a member’s services, and more indecency.
– I do not think so. It is a remarkable fact, to my mind a significant fact, that those honorable members who, judging by their speeches, feel that their remuneration is totally inadequate, must have felt the same when they were offering themselves for reemployment at the last election, yet, speaking generally, there was not a single suggestion of it.
– Give us something new.
– I am not as gifted as the honorable member for East Sydney is. We cannot all be” geniuses, and I do not pretend to be one. I do not pretend to be more than what the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) has described as one of the cheap and nasty sort. The honorable member for East Sydney may be a £1,000 a year man, but. as an apprentice in the game, I merely claim to be a £600 a year man. I undertook the work at that salary, and I intend to do the work at that figure until I have consulted my masters in regard to my remuneration.
Sitting suspended from 12.33 to 1.5 a.m. (Friday).
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Fawkner has thought it necessary to take up the attitude he has taken in regard to this measure, because it is hardly fair to himself and to the House. He states that he has an understanding with his constituents that he is not to give so much of his time to the work of Parliament as is given by other honorable members. If that is so, he has all along been better paid than his fellows, because the rest of us have agreed to give so much of our time to the business of Parliament as may be necessary for the work required of us. The honorable member says that he has made an arrangement with his constituents by which he may absent himself from the House in order to earn a better living outside, but that for the time he is able to be here he is to get the same remuneration as those who devote themselves wholly to the work of Parliament.
– We cannot find any published statement to the effect that the honorable member would give to the public only part of his time.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance; but it weakens his case beyond repair. If members were to make conditions with their constituents, one saying that he would attend only an hour a week and another the whole week, the election of a member of Parliament would be degraded to a sort of Dutch auction. I support the proposition of the Prime Minister, but I think that we should insert in the Bill a provision similar to that in the New South Wales law, under which, if members do not draw their remuneration within a reasonable time, it is forfeited to the Treasury. There have been instances in which men have posed as conscientious objectors, and, after having by that attitude gained the votes of their constituents time after time, have eventually gone to the Treasury and drawn back pay covering a number of years. We should provide against that. Men should not have the credit of refusing to take money, and be permitted to draw it later, after it has been accumulating as a sort of provision for their old age. It is not playing the game for a member to denounce an increase and to win election after election by his denunciation of it, and then, when the electors have tired of him, to collect the money that he said he would not take. We should at all events remove the temptation which might beset conscientious objectors, and preserve the pristine purity of their consciences.
– With regard to. the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner, if he made with his constituents the arrangement he has spoken of, it was a very handy one to make. But the honorable member’s campaign received a great deal of publicity in the Melbourne newspapers, and it is news to every member of this
House, and probably to his constituents, that any such arrangement was made. I do not doubt he may have said at some place that he could not give all his time to his parliamentary duties, but if that was said, it was said in a very obscure corner.
– His constituents have a right to know at the next election that that was the bargain made with him.
– All his constituents will know of it next time, and they belong to a different class from that which I take them to belong to, if they will indorse the honorable member’s claim to be allowed to give only the fag end .of Ibis time to his parliamentary duties.
– He is a quarter- timer.
– I doubt if he is even that. I am doubtful if there is any constituency that would approve of ite representative claiming the right to attend Parliament and carry out his public duties for only a portion of his time. At any rate, it would be a very handy arrangement, if it were permitted.
– What is wrong with it if one’s constituents are satisfied?
– I do not think any constituency in Australia would knowingly enter into a contract to permit its representative to attend only portion of the sittings of the national Legislature, and to spend the greater part of his time earning money outside. When the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was returning thanks upon the occasion of his recent re-election his opponent accused him of not having won the campaign on political aspects alone. The honorable member is reported to have denied that, and to have said in- reply “ I did not introduce anything else, because I never got a chance to speak at all. Your supporters did not allow me to speak upon any platform.” If the honorable member was correctly reported - and, certainly, he was widely so reported - I can understand that if he could not speak at all he could not have had the opportunity to tell his constituents that he intended to give only a quarter of his time to his duties in Parliament in the task of earning his £600 per annum.
– It was a silly attack on his motor-car which put the honorable member for Fawkner back into Parliament.
– It may have been that.
– Does the honorable member mean to tell me that it is not generally known that 1 am engaged in a fairly large practice?
– The honorable member’s constituents did not expect that, in the pursuance of that practice, he would absent himself from a great many of the sittings of Parliament. He must know ‘that this Legislature cannot carry on unless there be a quorum present. I am certain that there have been many times when the House could not have met if it had had to depend on the honorable member for Fawkner to complete a quorum.
– Yes, it could have don© so. I would have undertaken to be present at all times and any time if it were necessary. I could have been absent from this House with profit on many occasions, and in more senses than one, when I deemed it my duty rather to attend.
– It is very interesting to hear the honorable member talk in that high strain. But he throws the onus on other honorable members, who confine themselves to their parliamentary salaries ‘ of £600 per annum, to regularly attend to their parliamentary business in order that Parliament may be carried on without fear of the lack of a quorum. The honorable member for Fawkner casts a reflection upon the honesty of every honorable member who supports the Bill. When I entered this Parliament I gave up my private business, and told those who sent me here that I would devote the whole of my time to their interests, and to the interests of this country. I am not afraid to compare my honesty of purpose with that of the honorable member. I give the whole of my time to my parliamentary duties, and am interested in no private business. The honorable member gives Parliament only the fag-end of his time, and earns, outside, ten times as much as his parliamentary salary. Which attitude now is the more honorable? I will leave it to the judgment of the electors of Fawkner.
The honorable member attends this Chamber when it suits him, and when he does not happen to be engaged very profitably elsewhere. I cannot believe that, when the electors of Fawkner selected him as their representative, they were aware that while this House was sitting he would be lucratively engaged elsewhere instead of attending to his constituents and the country’s business. The honorable member accuses every honorable member who supports the Bill of being guilty of dishonesty. He must not expect, in the circumstances, that I should display other than strong feelings towards him. The honorable member, by interjection, has indicated that if the National Legislature were to meet in Sydney or Canberra he would not be able to remain a member of this Parliament.
– I could not afford to.
– I am pleased to hear that interjection. While this Parliament meets at the honorable member’s own door, and he is thus able to earn big fees close at hand, instead of conscientiously attending the sittings of Parliament, he is quite willing to throw the onus of regular attendance upon honorable members from distant States. But if the Parliament were transferred from Melbourne, he would no longer retain his membership, because he could not afford to.
– I said that honorable members who support this Bill should have asked their constituents for a rise in salary when they went before them last year.
– Honorable members who support an increase of salary are obeying the Constitution; the honorable member cannot say we are acting unconstitutionally. He claims that he is obeying the dictates of his conscience. That infers that, despite his actions and accusations, he has a conscience.
– Some consciences are much more elastic than others. Some consciences are in a good state of repair because they have never been used.
– Does the honorable member mean to infer that insinuation regard ing myself ?
– I do not think he does, for he knows you never had a conscience.
– Honorable members who support the Bill can say with satisfaction, and in all conscientiousness, that they are moving for an increase in salary because they are devoting the whole of their time, for which they are at present underpaid, to their public duties. I would find it very much easier to satisfy my conscience by taking action such as I propose to take to-night than by spending threequarters of my time outside this chamber earning big fees instead of attending to the matters which I was sent here to attend to. I am sorry for the conscience of a person that will allow him to give but one-quarter of his time to the service of the people who sent him here to do their work.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– I make that statement because I have been a spectator of what has gone on. I know . exactly when the honorable member comes into this chamber, when he is here, and when he is not here. I have made it my business to know. Many other honorable members, like myself, know casually who is in the chamber and who is not, and how long members are here. I am not exaggerating when I say that since I came into this House the honorable member forFawkner has not given half his time when the House has been sitting to the work that his constituents sent him here to do.
– It was only a quarter of my time just now.
– He has not given even a quarter of his time.
– I have given far more.
– I only mention these matters to show that the honorable member should be the last man in this Chamber to charge other honorable members with lacking honesty of purpose.
Other honorable members have said that they are going to vote against the Bill, but will take the money. Words cannot describe the attitude of such people. Two members on the Ministerial side of the House said they were going to vote against the Bill, because they believed the proposed increase was akin to stolen property.
– And one on your side said so.
– I do not care from which side of the House it was said. The statement was made by honorable members that the measure was “a raid on the Treasury” and “ an act of robbery,” but that they were going to take the money. I have always understood that the person who receives stolen goods “ falls in “ as badly as does the person that first takes the goods. Therefore, following the argument of those honorable members to its logical conclusion, if they think the extra money is stolen property, but still intend to accept it, they will stand in the position of receivers of stolen goods.
I came into this House pledged to my constituents to do no other work. While I am here I am going to do all in my power to make the lot of those who sent me here a little brighter than I found it when they elected me. It is my desire, in particular, to make the lot of the great masses of the working people of this country a little happier and better than it has been. To do that, I have given up my private business, and it will be difficult to find one of those whose lot I have tried to better that will say he does not want me to better my own position as well. The honorable member for Fawkner says that if Parliament sat in another State he could not be here at all. I, like many other members, represent a constituency in another State. I have to go over at the week-end, andam practically in the position of having to keep two homes going. The honorable member for Fawkner is not in that position, yet I have to give up my private business in order to attend to the work of those who sent me here. As the representative of a constituency situated in another State, it would be absolutely impossible for me to continue to live on the allowance I have been receiving, because it is equivalent only to £300 a year five years ago. Needless to say, I shall vote for the Bill. Some members are scared of what the newspapers are going to say about them. In another State, not one newspaper has mentioned a word about this matter. In one State, the newspapers are writing all sorts of ridiculous stuff about it, and some of those members who have spoken against the Bill are scared of them. That is why they are going to vote against it, although they are praying to heaven that it will be carried. I believe nine out of ten of those who are going to vote against the Bill are doing so because they know the numbers are up. I venture to say that, if they did not know this, they would risk everything in order to make sure that the Bill was carried
– I can see no reason whatever to make this debate personal, nor do I see why we should question any other man’s motives in connexion with the proposed increase of the parliamentary allowance. The whole matter resolves itself into a question of the interpretation of the Constitution. The honorable member for Fawkner, as a lawyer, should be able to interpret it better than a mere layman, but I have gone into it as far as a layman can do so, and my interpretation of it is utterly different from that of the honorable and learned member. Not only does the Constitution enact definitely in section 48 that this Parliament shall have power to regulate the amount of the parliamentary allowance, but in section 3 it distinctly provides that the salary of a certain highly-paid gentleman shall not be increased during his tenure of office. There is no such stipulation regarding the allowance to be paid to members of Parliament. All the Constitution says on that point is that, until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives, shall receive an allowance of £400 a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat. There is no prohibition there against increasing the allowance during a member’s occupancy of his seat. The only inference, therefore, is that it was anticipated that the Parliament would increase, and should increase, its own allowances.
– And the matters that are to be the subject of reference to the people are definitely set out.
– I do not often agree with the honorable member, but he is perfectly right in that statement. I was not present during the previous debate on this subject, but even if I had been inclined at that stage to vote against the proposal, I believe the absolutely unfair and uncalled for attitude of the press would have made me vote for it on this occasion. It is utterly wrong for the press to try to bully this House into doing what the press thinks fit. If we are not entirely independent of everybody but our own constituents, we have no right to be here at all, and I strongly resent the attitude of those members of the press who are trying to dragoon us into their way of thinking. It has been stated that it is unfair for us to raise our allowances at the beginning of a new Parliament, and that all this trouble could have been avoided by the different parties going before the people, and referring the matter to them. What would have been the position then? I have always told my constituents that members of this House were very much underpaid, but that until they took their courage in their hands I was not going to say anything. But the position would not have been any better if we had submitted this matter to the people, because, if both parties had faced the elections pledged to support the increase in salaries, the electors would still have been obliged to select representatives of one of the parties, and so, in effect, the proposal would have been the same as far as the electors were concerned. Looking at the matter from every point of view, I can see no reason why any honorable member should conscientiously vote against the Bill. Men come here for various reasons. Some because they believe it to be their duty to do what they can for their country; others because they like the prominence which the position gives them; others, again, in order to make a living, and, by the way,- it is a very poor living. These three cases, I think, cover all the reasons that actuate any man in entering politics. Can it be said that any honorable member will not do his parliamentary work better when he knows that, by this proposed increase in salary, all anxiety concerning the comfort of his wife and children is removed? It has been truly said that no man can give undivided attention to his public duties if he is concerned about the welfare of his wife and family. To some members of the House the parliamentary income may mean nothing. They arc in a fortunate position, and because of that very fact they should be careful that other members, who may be dependent upon their parliamentary salary, are placed in a position to discharge their public .duty satisfactorily. Often, if an honorable member loses his seat after a few years in Parliament he is .unfitted, to some extent, for any other work. There are few honorable members who would not have been in a better position after, say, fifteen years’ service, if they had devoted that time to the building up of a private business, because in some cases they would have enjoyed the annual increments which come to every prudent business man ; in others they would have been establishing a substantial good-will. There is nothing in the election of an honorable member in the nature of a financial contract, and, because I believe it is essential for the better governing of the country that members should be free of financial worry, I intend’ to support the measure.
– I am loath to prolong the debate, but I was absent when the motion submitted by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) was debated, and I desire to place my position before the House. I may say at the outset that I am going to vote against the Bill, though I agree with the statements repeatedly made this evening, that the parliamentary salary is not sufficient. I do not think £600 a year is a fair remuneration, and I have already intimated to my constituents that, as a public man, I shall give no donations, a practice which I think very few honorable members have adopted. And I do not think my constituents think any the less of me. While I am on this subject I may add that the continual requests to parliamentary representatives for donations for this and that movement comprise an important part of every honorable member’s correspondence. Yet those who send begging letters to their elected representatives are often the very people who at meetings of certain associations condemn honorable members when they endeavour to secure an increase in salary that will enable them to meet some of these demands. I believe it would be in the interests of clean politics if it were made an offence against the law for any person to solicit donations from public men, or for any public man to give donations. I sympathize very much with the position of honorable members from other States. It is not fair that representatives from such distant constituencies as Capricornia and Maranoa, in Queensland, and Dampier in Western Australia, should be on the same level, as far as reimbursement is concerned, with members representing metropolitan constituencies of this State. Old parliamentarians tell us that we cannot make any distinction in this matter, but I do not see why some extra allowance could not be made to members from distant portions of the Commonwealth. I am prepared, now to advocate a proposal to increase the emoluments in that direction and give to honorable members from, say, Tasmania, South Australia, and New South Wales £100 per annum for travelling expenses, and honorable members from Queensland and Western Australia £200. I believe that that would be an equitable arrangement, and certainly fairer than the proposal now before the House.
– Would that be fair to yourself? You represent a country constituency.
– I am about to state my own position. Some honorable members, in support of the motion last week, furnished the House with details of their election expenditure. If I have to thank one section of Wimmera voters more than another for my return to this House, I have to thank the working farmers, chiefly the struggling electors in the new areas. They subscribed every penny of my election expenses. Despite that fact, I frankly admit that the present allowance is no good to me, since it does not allow of any savings. I oppose the proposed increase for the reason that during the election campaign from every public platform I advocated economy, and stressed the necessity for sacrifice on the part of all sections of the community. We have been told that our financial position is very grave, and we know that it is. Some honorable members have declared it to be almost desperate. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) is at present in London on a mission with which we are all familiar. We are trying to borrow money in England. If we do not succeed, we shall have to float a further loan in Australia. We have a huge war debt, heavy interest bills, and obligations of great magnitude in respect of repatriation, war pensions, and invalid and old-age pensions. Our obligations are piling up in every direction, and it is absolutely necessary, therefore, that we should economize. This is essentially a time of sacrifice for all sections of the community, and this Parliament should set an example. If this Bill be passed, the discontented sections of the community will be keener and more insistent in their demands. They will say that Federal members are looking after themselves, and will insist upon recognition of their own claims. I oppose this Bill because I advocated economy and sacrifice on the part of all sections of the community, and intend to continue to do so. I am not going to urge that all other sections of the people should adopt a course of action which I myself am not prepared to take.
– I desire at the outset to announce that if this Bill be passed I do not propose to give away any part of my increased allowance. I have never given any money away - that is why I am so rich ! The Sydney Daily Telegraph, in an article commenting on this proposal, while not going into raptures on the subject, said that if members were to receive any payment for their services that payment should be adequate. It proceeded to ridicule the suggestion that it should be left to the people to determine what the allowance should be.
– Is it an advocate of the principle of the referendum ?
– That was not the point involved. The Sydney Daily Telegraph pointed out that, under the Constitution which had been accepted by the people, the Federal Parliament was given power to determine what should be the allowance received by its members. The people accepted thatprovision in the Constitution, recognising that if members fixed their remuneration at too high a rate they would “ get the order of the boot. ‘ ‘ The idea that the question should have been brought before the people in connexion with a general election was ridiculed by the newspaper. It pointed out that at a general election the issues are already sufficiently clouded, and that it was quite undesirable that any further issue such as this should be raised. If it were, I am satisfied that we should have the meanest scum in creation returned to this Parliament by the meanest people in the community. The “ boss “ never thinks that he is giving too low a wage to his employees. We are told that we are here as the servants of the people, and, while my constituents are as largehearted as any other section of the community, I am satisfied that if this issue were raised at a general election their feelings would be played upon to such an extent by the yellow press of Australia that they would say to members, “ We will give you nothing at all.” If that were the verdict of the people, I could not remain in Parliament.
Let us contrast the attitude of the Sydney Daily Telegraph with that of the Melbourne newspapers. I have nothing to say of the criticism indulged in by the Argus, since that newspaper has always been opposed to payment of members, and openly admits that it is against what I would describe as a democratic form of government. It believes that the legislation of a country can best be promulgated by wealthy men. The Age newspaper, on the other hand, indulges in such low-down criticism that it is a wonder to me that its readers believe there is any truth in any statements made by it. The Age is run by men who in private life are all that could be desired. No one can point the finger of scorn at their actions as private citizens; but even the yellow journals of the United States of America could not get into the gutter to the extent that the Age does in respect of this and practically every other proposal to which it is hostile. The Age tells us that if we do not think the present remuneration adequate we are not compelled to remain in Parliament. But what is the position of those who have to advertise in the Age? It is undoubtedly a great advertising medium, and, whether I like it or not, I have to purchase it. This journal has increased its advertising charges by some 300 or 400 per cent., and business people are compelled to advertise in it whether they like it or not. It gives the public only about an inch of news for every 50 inches that are devoted to advertising. Yet it has the temerity to talk about honesty. Why, these newspaper robbers have stolen from the people of Victoria about £100,000 during the oast few weeks.
– Why talk about, that?
– -I intend to deal with this question in my own way, and the honorable member may do just what he likes. So scurrilous is this mighty organ, the Age, that it does not hesitate to attack a man when he is prevented from replying to its attacks. If he attempted to reply it would either refuse to publish his letter or would cut it up in such a fashion that he would be unable to recognise it. This is the journal which stigmatizes honorable members as robbers merely because they propose to adopt the constitutional method of increasing their salaries.
– The Sydney Morning Herald has increased its honour-roll advertisements from 2s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. per inch .
– And the Age newspaper has increased its in memoriam charges by about 300 per cent., though’ the impost falls upon the mothers and wives of our men who died at the Front. This is the journal which has the effrontery to prate about honesty. It should be ashamed of itself. It presumes to dictate to the people of this country the political policy of. the Commonwealth, and it is enraged because during the past Tew years it has been unable to dictate even the policy of Victoria. It now seeks to pander to the narrow-minded crowd who love to attack members of Parliament.
An Honorable Member. - If I were the honorable member I would not’ waste so much breath upon the newspapers’. .
– I prefer to deal with this matter in my own way.
– How long will it take the honorable member to do that ?
– At every election campaign in which I engage I make it a practice to devote half an hour each night to a criticism of the newspapers of this city. The mean, contemptible leaders of the Age, and its inspired letters, are supposed to injure public men like myself. I have no fear of that journal, though there are many persons who are’ afraid to oppose its dictum. I know that quite recently it has robbed every one of its subscribers of 13s. per annum. I do hope that some pf the representatives of the country districts of Victoria will fight this horror as we have had to fight it in the city.
.- I had not an opportunity of speaking upon the motion for an increase of our parliamentary allowance which was submitted in this Chamber last Thursday, and I wish, therefore, to tell honorable members precisely where I stand. I voted for that motion, which affirmed the advisableness of increasing our parliamentary salaries to an amount not exceeding £1,000 per annum. But like the honorable member for Wimmera. I think that the case might very well be met by a travelling allowance. I supported the proposal of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) on account of the position that is occupied by the representatives of ‘distant States like Western Australia and Queensland. They are entitled to more consideration than are honorable members like myself, who can go to their homes at the weekends. At the same time it is not equitable that I should be asked to accept the same allowance as a Victorian representative, who can sleep in his own home every night. I happen to occupy a more fortunate position, perhaps, than some honorable members, inasmuch as I am interested in a business. How long that business will remain a profitable one I cannot say.
Obviously I cannot give proper attention both, to it and to my duties in this Parliament. One or the other must suffer. If my business is to suffer I must be adequately remunerated for my services here, otherwise I shall have to leave the Parliament, and that may not be a good thing for the country. I have no desire to be personal, but if an accurate clocking of honorable members were taken, it would be found that the Victorian representatives devote the least time to the discharge of their duties in this Chamber. Unfortunately, the present shipping service between the mainland and Tasmania precludes me from getting home for more than a day and a half at each week end. Now, it is not reasonable that I should be expected to travel 600 or 700 miles for the sake of spending a day and a half weekly in my own city. I believe, therefore, that there should be an increase granted to honorable members by way of a travelling allowance. I would like to see a medium course adopted, and with that end in view I am prepared to support a proposal to increase the salaries of honorable members to £800 per annum. But evidently I shall be precluded from doing that, because when the proposal is voted upon the question will be put in the form “ that the clause stand part of the Bill.” Consequently, I shall be obliged to vote for an increase to £1,000’ per annum, or to oppose that increase - I cannot vote for an increase to £800 per annum. Now, I do not intend to place myself in the position of voting against this Bill, and to afterwards accept the increased emolument. When I was before my constituency I preached the doctrine of the economy of nigh wages; and I think tha.t the press of Australia, “ instead of reviling honorable members of this House for supporting an increase in the parliamentary allowance, and thus inducing a. better class of candidates to come forward, ought to approve of the step.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has contended that we ha/e no right to make any alteration in the parliamentary allowance without first submitting the question to the people. But’ if we look at the Constitution we at_ once see that there -are certain provisions that can be altered only by referendum, and care has been taken that these references shall not be mixed up in a farcical way with a thousand other questions at a general election; they must be settled by direct vote on the particular point at issue. We have no power, for instance, to extend the term of Parliament; but, on the other hand, there are many sections in the Constitution which give Parliament power to make alterations as it thinks fit; and the matter before us now is one of them. There is a provision in the Constitution that, “until Parliament otherwise provides,” there shall be only seven Ministers of State, and Parliament has altered that number without reference to the people. Does the honorable member for Fawkner say that in the case of every provision which is to stand “ until Parliament otherwise provides” we cannot legislate until we have submitted it( to the people? If that be the case, the whole thing is an absurdity, and it would have been better to leave out those words from the Constitution.
– The raising of our salaries is in a different category altogether.
– When there is a referendum, people have a chance of expressing an independent opinion; but it is rubbish to say that we shall get the opinion of the people on such a question as this by submitting it at a general election. At such a time the question would be absolutely lost sight of. On the last occasion, in 1907, when the first alteration was made in the parliamentary allowance, the same argument was used, but at the next general election, in 1910, not a solitary word was said about the matter. The great issue then was between the Fusion party and the Labour party, and the people throughout Australia were divided into two straight-out camps, which they supported on purely party lines. No question was of any consideration! then except . the question of which party was to rule. People seem to forget the fact that the first alteration as regards the allowances was at a comparatively early stage of the Commonwealth’s history. The Constitution provides that the salary shall be reckoned from the day when a member takes his seat; but Parliament, without consulting the electors, dr without being called to account, made the salary reckon from the day on which, the member is elected. This means a difference of two or three months to every honorable member in the way of salary. That was a precedent laid down for Parliament altering the allowance, without consulting the constituencies. We have power to do what is now proposed, but we have to account to our constituents afterwards for what we have done in this respect as on all other questions, and, if they think fit, they can punish us. One of the reasons why this matter was left to Parliament, and not fixed in the Constitution, was that the Federal Convention had no idea as to the length of time the Parliament would sit, or as to the amount of work it would have to do. In the 1891 Federal Convention the allowance was fixed at £500, but at the 1898 Convention the Committee which presented the Constitution Bill inserted £400. Mr. Gordon, of South Australia, moved that the allowance be £500, pointing out that the Parliament would have a great deal of work to do. The contention of other members of the Convention, however, was that Parliament would not have much work to do, and Mr. Higgins, now Justice Higgins, expressed the opinion that after a year or two Parliament would sit only two months in the year. He was prepared to reduce the allowance to £300, but regarded £400 as a compromise. If he considered £300 enough for a session of two months each year, what would he think enough under present circumstances. That gentleman was certainly one who had his eyes opened very quickly, because I think that the first session lasted for about eighteen months. These facts explain why it was left to Parliament to deal with the matter, and Parliament has the responsibility, and must accept the consequences if the constituencies are displeased.
Honorable Members. - Divide ! Divide !
.I quite sympathize with honorable members who are crying out for a division to be taken; but it must not be forgotten that since the commencement of the debate there has been a general desire shown from all sides of the House to take part in it; and even at this late hour I feel it my duty to very briefly express my opinion on the measure before us. The Postmaster-
General (Mr. Wise) has given lis the constitutional view in a very clear and decisive way. Honorable members who have read the Constitution know that it is quite within the power of Parliament to raise the allowance or to bring in and pass any measure which the Constitution leaves to its competence. I, therefore, feel that all the arguments that have been used in regard to our constitutional rights represent a waste of time. , I am sorry that the personal, element has been introduced into the debate, along ‘ with other matters not very pleasing to the House in general. A good deal has been said about “ playing the game”; but, so far as I am concerned, I was sent here to represent a Victorian constituency, and, as I said in my maiden speech here, I am responsible to my constituents, and to them only, for the way in which I cast my vote. I am prepared to vote with any side of the House if I consider that the measure proposed is in the interests of the Commonwealth at large. I shall vote against the Bill, because I consider that the arguments in regard to the value of honorable members’ services are beside the question, which is really one of method, and the method adopted in this instance, in my opinion, is not a right and proper one. The honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Hector Lamond) has . said that those who vote against the Bill will not be “playing the game” if they accept the increased allowance. We are not quite sure yet as to how the honorable member is going to vote.
– You need have no fear about that.
– Possibly not on this occasion. But sometimes one listening to’ the way in which honorable members discuss a motion may be excused for wondering how they will vote upon it when thetesting time comes. I honestly hold the opinion that the salary at present paid tomembers of this important Parliament is not sufficient ; but that is not the question before us at the present time. Since my election, I have found that it is almost, impossible for me to keep pace with my work as a member and to attend to all the requirements of my constituents. When that can be said by an honorablemember who resides in Victoria, it is easy to understand that it may be much more difficult for honorable members from the other States to cope with their work. I” have told individual members that if any proposal were made to make a special allowance to honorable members coming from the other States to place them on an equal footing with Victorian representatives, it would receive my whole-hearted support. It has been said that we should follow the example of other Parliaments. But we have not to follow the example of other Parliaments in this or in other countries. We have a duty to perform, which, I believe, will be performed by every member of this House, and that is to carry out the pledges which we made to our constituents on the hustings in December last. 1 feel that if the Government in the broad policy they put before the electors had given a hint that they considered it necessary to increase the allowance of members of this Parliament, honorable members could vote for this proposal knowing that they had the sanction of their constituents in doing so. A good deal has been said during the debate about honorable members fearing the consequences of their vote on this question. Young as I am as a member of the House, I wish other honorable members to understand that I am quite prepared to face the consequences of my vote, and to accept the criticism of any constituency in the Commonwealth or of the great newspapers which have been1 referred to here bo-night. I pledged myself to my constituents that I would not vote for an increase of the salary or allowance of members of this Parliament, and I intend to carry that pledge into effect when a vote is taken on- this measure.
. - Notwithstanding the desire of honorable members to brins; this somewhat protracted debate to a close, I do not wish to give a silent vote on the question. It is one of some importance, and its discussion has induced some honorable .members to express their views rather strongly in addressing themselves to it. I regard the question as one which we may discuss, anc! which indeed we ought to discuss, without imputing any improper motives to those who are for or against the proposal. For my part. T do not feel any grudge against the press for taking a particular view of any action of mine in this House, on this or any other question. Payment of members is a principle for which Democracy stands. The question as to what is adequate and proper payment for members of this House, for those holding Ministerial positions, or for the high and honorable position held by Mr, Speaker, is for this House to determine in the same way as it determines any other question that is the subject of legislation. lt has been made so by the people who have specifically given the Parliament the right to deal with the question of the remuneration of honorable members. I saw in yesterday morning’s newspapers that a message was received from the’ GovernorGeneral recommending to the House of Representatives an appropriation of revenue for the purpose of a Bill for an Act relating to the allowances of members of each House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This is a recommendation from the GovernorGenera] to this House. As I view the matter, the only question is whether the remuneration at present fixed is adequate. I have heard honorable members almost universally admitting that it is not adequate. But some say that, because they have given some pledge, or because the matter was not mentioned at the election - and I do not know whose duty it was to mention it if it was not. their duty - they feel bound to oppose the Bill.
– But also to accept the increase.
– I am not much concerned as to whether they accept the increase or not, nor am I much concerned about some of the arguments used to the effect that members could make more outside Parliament. There is no compulsion, upon them to be in Parliament. If one can make more outside Parliament he has the option of staying outside. I view the question in quite an abstract way, and I ask is the position worth the salary proposed ? In my opinion it is. The position of a member of the National Parliament of a great country, and one that is destined to become a greater country, is such that, in my opinion, it should attract the most capable men in- the community. It will not do that unless the allowance is increased beyond the amount paid at the present time. I am entirely in favour of the increase to the amount mentioned in the Bill before the House. It has always been the argument of the capitalist that there should be no payment of members, or that it should be as small as possible. I see no difference between this House dealing with the question of fixing tha salaries of honorable members and dealing with any agreement with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. That Was not be-fore the people, and was not mentioned to them, at the last election, yet we have passed legislation in regard to it. I have to accept responsibility for every speech I make in this House and every vote I give in it in just the same way as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and any other honorable member who opposes this Bill. We are all over the age of twenty-one years. We are not infants, and we know that we take responsibility for our public acts. I am prepared to do that. I think we ought to be prepared to acquit ourselves like men in a matter of this sort. There are some honorable members quite anxious for the Bill to be passed, but they do not seem to have screwed up their courage sufficiently to vote for it. It costs me my full salary in expenses, and I do not know how I would get on if it were not for what I earn from my profession. But I certainly do not make the income from that profession which I am credited with making by certain sections of the press, who indulge in misrepresentations with regard to me as well as other honorable members. According to one newspaper my income was £8,200 itv one year.
– It is amusing -to hear the opinions of outsiders as to the incomes earned at the Bar.
– It is amusing; but these figures were supposed to be obtained from an official source. It is the first time I have heard that I was earning such an income, and I. invite the Commissioner of Taxes to look into the matter. As a matter of fact, my income other than the parliamentary allowance is not one-sixth of the amount mentioned. I feel that the position occupied by honorable members of this House is sufficiently important to warrant the payment of the allowance provided in the Bill, and for that reason I shall support the measure^ Is there any honorable member who proposes to vote ( against the Bill who will say that the salary mentioned in the measure is too high?
– It is far too high.
– Every honorable member knows that there is an overwhelming majority in the House in favour of the Bill. There are some honorable members who do not think that the salary should be raised, and I give them credit for holding those views, but those who do think that the salary should be raised ought to record their votes in favour of the Bill, and should not walk out of the chamber, before a division is taken. Above all, do not let us make political capital out of a measure of this kind. I am prepared o accept the responsibility for my speeches and my votes, and on this question I am inclined to think that the electorates of Australia will stand by those who do what they conceive to be the duty which has been intrusted to them by a higher authority than Parliament, namely, the people of this country.
.- As honorable members generally know my attitude towards the Bill, there is no need for ma to give reasons at length for opposing it. During my election direct questions were put to me as to whether it was true that there was likely to be a move to raise the salaries of members of the Federal Parliament, and I replied that I did not know that any such movement was on foot. In reply to a further question as to what would be my attitude if a motion were brought forward to increase members’ salaries, I said that I would oppose any such, motion, and that I really felt more inclined to vote’ for a reduction in the salaries of members of Parliament, subject to certain conditions which I laid down. Those conditions have been referred to by various speakers during this debate, and the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson), in particular, dealt with them most explicitly. I move about a good deal among my constituents, and as a result of my activities in that way I have felt that, under, the conditions now obtaining, the salary of a member of Parliament is not sufficient. Mention has been made >( the need for differentiation between the salaries of members of Victorian constituencies and ‘those of members representing constituencies in other States, but possibly it has cost me quite as much to travel about my constituency during the past three years as it has cost many honorable members living in . other States to travel. I am also obliged to keep two homes going, and I fail to see any justice in differentiating in this regard. Statements have appeared in the press regarding the time honorable members devote to their parliamentary duties, and stress has been laid over and over again on the fact that we give less than six months’ service in the year in the discharge of our duties. It may be true that we are only assembled here for that period, but our duties by no means cease once we leave the precincts of this building. My busiest time has been during the recess, and it is utterly wrong for the press to endeavour to make capital out of such an argument. Were my time to be tabulated during my occupancy of my present position, I would be found to have been working, probably, close cm fourteen or fifteen hours a day. Since I have been a member of this Parliament I have had only two Saturday afternoons to myself, and again and again I have been called out of bed at 9 o’clock ou a Sunday morning to attend to the requirements of my constituents.
– The honorable member is like a family doctor.
– Infinitely worse, because a family doctor has privileges that a member of Parliament does not possess. It has been stated by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) and some other honorable members that the section of the Electoral Act which protected candidates during the recent campaign should apply to the whole of their political career, i do not stand alone in this matter. I have received many letters soliciting subscriptions, and during the recent campaign I despatched no less than forty-seven communications stating that I was precluded from contributing money prior to an election. Many wrote to me thinking that it was an opportune time to obtain financial assistance, and I remember one instance in particular, where a lady indicated that she had been deputed to approach me for a donation for a certain purpose. There was a postscript to the communication, and postscripts in ladies’ letters are usually the most important portion. It was to the effect that if I subscribed a generous donation it would become known and would be of considerable advantage to m© during the approaching election. I intend to be frank in this matter, because I believe honorable members expect a man to keep his platform pledges, and I therefore intend to oppose the Bill.
.I have listened very attentively to the arguments for and against the Bill.
– There have not been any against it.
– Well, I have listened to those supposed arguments in opposition. I have given close attention to the matter, and I can see innumerable reasons for granting an increase; but, thinking that perhaps there might be some arguments against- it, I devoted special attention to those who expressed their intention to vote against the measure. . The speeches- against the Bill that have been delivered can be separated into two distinct . sections, one of which is that the salary paid is too high, and in this category the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) and the honorable member for Corio. (Mr. Lister) have been included. They said, in effect, that they were not worth £600, and I was pleased to hear them make such an admission, because I feel satisfied that, when they go to .the country again, the electors will be able to assess them at their own value. If they are not worth £600 per annum ho good purpose would be served by returning them to this Chamber. There were also some honorable members who said that they believed that the increase was justified, because of the higher cost of living, and, although they could not submit any arguments against the proposal, they intended to oppose the Bill, because they had made certain pledges to the electors. After listening to those honorable members who believe that the increase is justified, although they were not supporting it, I wondered why they were objecting. There can1 be only one reason, and that is that they feared that if they told the truth to the electors, and said that they were entitled to the increase, the electors would not return them.
– The honorable member would not include in that category new members.
– Yes; every honorable member who stated that the increase was justified, and who would not support it, because he had made certain pledges. Why did they make such a pledge if they thought that the salary was not sufficient ? They should have had sufficient courage to express their opinion’s whatever they may have been. During the campaign, the question of salary was only submitted to me on one occasion, and I stated that the salary was, in my opinion, inadequate, and that if I had an opportunity T would assist in increasing it. If some honorable members consider that the increase is merited, they must have pledged themselves not to support it because they were afraid of the consequences. I am not afraid to face the consequences of my own actions, and I do not want my constituents to believe that I was ashamed to express my opinion, or that I desired to record a silent vote. I am prepared to accept my full share of responsibility, and I am quite sure that, if the rote to-night will have any effect on the next election, as far as Calare is concerned, it will mean that my majority will be larger than ever.
– I have no desire to take up the time of the House, but I am anxious to record my views on! this important measure. I do not want to go into my electorate, and allow my constituents to believe that I accepted, an increase without desiring to shoulder the responsibility, nor do I want the electors who have supported me in the past, and who may give me their vote in the future, to think that I am anxious to score off the bat of my colleagues, as I have always been in favour of an additional allowance being granted to members of the Federal Parliament. Questions concerning the salary, of members were not addressed to me during the election campaign, and I did not, therefore, make any pledges. But honorable members may rest assured that my constituents could easily imagine that if an opportunity presented itself for me to assist in increasing my remuneration, I would gladly do so. I would like honorable members to realize the position in which some country members are placed. I reside in Bathurst, in my electorate, and have to travel 700 miles each week to and from Melbourne. I cannot do that on less than £4 a week, and only £8 remains to me for the . maintenance of my family, contributions to various charitable calls, and the meeting of other financial obligations. I have a particularly large electorate, in which scores of the centres of population are from 45 to 50 miles from the railway : and as I am expected to “pay periodical visits to all of them, I have to hire motor cars to do so, and with my present allowance cannot give the attention to every individual that T would like to give. I shall vote for the proposed increase, and all my electors would expect me to do so. They would censure me if I did not do so. For ten years I was paid to advocate higher wages and better conditions for the workers, and naturally, when the opportunity presents itself for getting an increase to my own salary, I gladly accept it in justice Cb myself and to my constituents. The Melbourne newspapers have commented strongly on the actions o? those who support the Bill, and in this morning’s Age a number of letters of protest are published, signed “ Gunpowder,” “ Pink Pills,” “ Hot Indignation,” and so on. ‘ I would point out, however, that the proprietors of the newspapers did not consult the public before increasing the price of their journals by 50 per cent., or before increasing their advertising rates by about 200 per cent. The Age, which is particularly loud in its condemnation of the proposal’ under discussion, professes to be strongly Protectionist, and yet insists that everything it uses shall be admitted free of duty. Were the proposed increase even larger, I should still vote for it.
.- As a new member, I felt that this’ was a difficult problem, and would not have risen to speak to-night had it not been for the way in which this Parliament has been abused by the press of Melbourne. Since Federation became an accomplished fact, the Melbourne newspapers have done nothing to build up an Australian sentiment. All they care for is to get benefits for Victoria. For eight years I was secretary to a union, and had to travel about through the States, and I know that immediately prior to Federation the Victorian Public Service was the worst paid in Australia; but when it was seen that Federation would come about, and that the Commonwealth would have to pay the salaries of the Departments transferred to it, the wage of the Victorian officials was made equal to the maximum paid in any State. Then, prior to Federation, there was 2d. postage in this State, the postage in the other States being Id., and, on the motion of Mr. Isaacs (now Mr. Justice Isaacs), Victoria was given Id. postage immediately before Federation. The newspapers applauded these things. As for the attitude of the honorable member for Fawkner, every member must speak in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. I agree with him that we should consult our constituents, and in the short time at my disposal I have consulted all of my constituents whom I could see. They happened to be five members of this Parliament, and they unanimously instructed me to vote for the Bill, I have not been here long, yet I think that members should be paid by results; and much of what I have heard during the past fifteen or sixteen hours bears out my view that the Capital should speedily be moved to Canberra. When Parliament meets there, members will have to devote all their time to the business of the country. It is to the interest of the country that we should have professional men, like the honorable member for Fawkner, in Parliament, and all shades of opinion should be represented, but members should give the whole of their time to their parliamentary duties. My electorate is numerically the largest in the Commonwealth, having 73,000 electors on the roll. They, at present, pay me 2d. per head per annum, and when this increase is given they will have to pay me 3¼d. a head, an increase of l¼d. Should any of them object to pay this extra lid., I shall be prepared to refund it to them. I do not agree that members from other States should receive £100 per annum as travelling allowance. That amount would not pay one’s travelling expenses upon the train. I am not prepared to sit in the express with a bottle of ginger beer and a bag of biscuits, to chew my way across to Melbourne. Honorable members know how often they entertain constituents here, and that sometimes they are asked to escort the wives of some of their male constituents back to Sydney. All such obligations as these add to one’s expenses. There is a deal of physical wear and tear in constant travelling. The responsibilities of attending the sittings of the Federal Parliament have caused the death of probably more members than has been the case in any other Parliament in the world. The atmosphere here is about the most unhealthy that representatives from other States could be called upon to endure. I do not consider that a New South Wales member, or the representative of a division in any of the other States, has more right to claim travelling allowances than a member from a Victorian country electorate. The latter is compelled, just as are members from other States, to practically keep two homes going. I have had no opportunity to undertake private business since my return from the war. It . would be impossible for me to live upon my parliamentary salary, and I intend to take every opportunity available to augment it from other sources of activity. Since my election five months ago my bank balance has depreciated by a matter of £260. I have already told some of my constituents that they will have to look for another candidate at the next general election. If my constituents are not prepared to indorse my action in endeavouring to secure better remuneration, they are very welcome to send some one else here to represent them. The only press opposition, so far as I know throughout Australia, has come from two of the Melbourne newspapers. The Herald has looked upon the proposition from a very fair viewpoint, and newspapers in other States have acknowledged that members of Parliament are entitled to a higher remuneration than they have been receiving.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 33
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Reckoning of allowance to senator).
– Would it not be possible to make the allowance to members a payment of so much per year? At present it is paid only up to the dissolution of Parliament, and there is a period during which it is not payable. Could it not be made payable from election day to election day?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Reckoning of allowance to member).
– The clause provides that the allowance of a member of the House of Representatives shall be calculated from the day of his election. I think it ought to continue until the date of the election of his successor, for the reason that when members want the money most, that is, at election time, it stops. If there is no constitutional reason why that may not be done, the Government ought to introduce the necessary amendment. Probably, as a private member, I could not propose it, because it might be held to increase the amount of money required. I see no reason why members of this House should not be placed on the same footing as the members of another Chamber.
– I ask the honorable member not to press it.
– If it cannot be done constitutionally, I have no desire to press it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 to8 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause he inserted: - “ All moneys accruing due to any senator or member of the House of Representatives under this Act not claimed within three months of becoming due shall revert to the Treasury.”
This would bring our law into conformity with that of New South Wales, which provides that money not claimed within a reasonable time shall revert to the Treasury. In the absence of some such clause, the unclaimed money remains in the! Treasury without anybody being able to deal with it. It is highly undesirable, from an accounting point of view, that it should accumulate in that way. There have been cases in New South Wales, and, I understand, elsewhere, where members have not claimed the money for years. I have been told of one case where the creditors of a member who was defeated forced the money to be taken out of the Treasury and paid to him in the end.
.I had intended to move for the insertion of a similar clause, as notified in my speech on the second reading of the Bill, and I shall support that submitted by the honorable member. I sat in this Parliament in 1907, and know what happened then. Honorable members stood up and declared that they did not intend to take the increase in salary, but waited until after the next election, and then they took the whole ‘ ‘ bang ‘ ‘ lot. Men who are so mean and paltry as that have no right to profit by it. There is no need to take up the time of the Committee by debating the new clause. I intend to support it.
– I hope the honorable member for Illawarra. (Mr. Hector Lamond) will not press for the insertion of the new clause.
– Because, after all, it is the business of honorable members. While I do not think it is very admirable on the part of any honorable member to rise in his place to denounce a proposal to increase salaries, to allow his to accumulate for two or three years, and then, when defeated, to go to the Treasurer and draw the whole amount, still, this is a matter for his electors to decide, and, after all, it only shows the fallibility of human nature.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with requests.
Message recommending appropriation to cover Senate’s requested amendments reported.
That the message be taken into consideration in Committee forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is. expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of the amendments requested by the Senate in Message No. 24 relating to a Bill for an Act to amend the War Gratuity Act 1920.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests) .
Clause 4 (Rate of war gratuity).
Senate’s Request. - After the word “ service,” first occurring, insert “ or who is totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of such service.”
– I move -
That the requested amendment be made.
This is an amendment which will give effect to the promise I made that the dependants of soldiers who have been incapacitated in camp should be treated in the same manner as those of men incapacitated on active service.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendments requested in clause 5 made.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
That the Bill amended accordingly, be returned to the Senate.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senatewithout request.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a proposal to give us a little more loan cover. It is really a precautionary measure, and is not, so to speak, for immediate consumption. It is always wise to have plenty of cover so as to he ready for any emergency. I already have from the House authority for a considerable sum of loan money yet to be raised, but we feel that the margin is not sufficient. At the present time we are spending loan money at the rate of about £3,000,000 per month, and the outlook is that we shall continue to spend at that rate. All this loan money is in respect of repatriation, the payment of war debts, and other expenditure arising out of the war. It is in order that we may be ready to act should the necessity arise, that I ask the House for this further authority. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt), as honorable members are aware, is now trying to arrange matters in London, and if he can make a satisfactory arrangement there, it is just possible that we may not have to use the authority for which I now ask the House. It is, however, within the realm of possibility that he may not be able to arrange matters as we hope he may, in which case I shall have to obtain money here. It is so that I may have the authority to meet any emergency that may arise that I ask the House for this further cover. This is really a nominal matter, and I need not, therefore, discuss it further.
.- I agree with the concluding statement just made by the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). Upon a previous occasion, after less discussion than has taken place on this measure, we passed a Bill giving authority to float a loan of £80,000,000. The Acting Treasurer is probably not in a position to make a statement in regard to this projected loan; but if he is able to float it on the terms upon which we secured the last loan of £80,000,000, he will be deserving of our congratulations.. I realize that money for repatriation purposes, for the erection of war service homes, and the payment of war pensions, must be provided, and that when the Budget statement is delivered the Treasurer will probably be in a better position than he is to-day to state what our actual financial position is.
– At this early hour of the morning it is hardly reasonable to expect from the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) any information as to the financial position. I hope, however, that he will avail himself of an early opportunity to advise honorable members as to the unsatisfactory position of the Commonwealth in regard to our indebtedness to Great Britain which the Treasurer (Mr. Watt) is now endeavouring to deal with.
– I wish I could tell the honorable member what the position is.
– It is certainly very unsatisfactory and far from creditable to us as a Commonwealth, having regard to what Great Britain is staggering under and the determined efforts the Imperial Government is making to face the financial situation. We seem to be making no effort to face the position except by borrowing more and more. I hope this will be the very last occasion on which the authority of the House will be granted for loans in this direction. I wish to place on record my view that the whole position of the Commonwealth in regard to our indebtedness to Great Britain is most unsatisfactory, especially to the Government which has had the handling of the matter, and I hope that we shall receive an early intimation that these begging appeals to the Old Country are going to cease. ‘
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) has not put the matter fairly. I would remind him that we have something like £100,000,000 of credits in London.
– To whom does the honorable member refer as “we” - the wool-growers ?
– I am speaking of Australia at the present time. We have upwards of £100,000,000 of credits in London, and it cannot be said that we are begging for anything when we try to arrange that a credit shall be set off against a debit. I have yet to learn that that is going cap in hand to any one, and I protest against such unfair statements. I wish I could tell the honorable member precisely what the situation is. I hope it may clear up, but no good purpose is served by making exaggerated statements which are unfair to the Commonwealth, and not calculated to help us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and, the Standing Orders having been suspended, passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
– I think it would be better if, instead of adjourning now in the usual way, we were to ask you,. Mr. Speaker, to leave the Chair until 2.30 p.m. to-day. We shall have to come back to receive Bills from the Senate and to clear up the remaining business. So far as I know at present we do not propose to forward to another place any further business before we adjourn. It will meet the convenience of all concerned if Mr. Speaker now leave the Chair until 2.30 p.m.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– In accordance with what I understand to be the desire of the House I shall resume the Chair at 2.30 p.m.
Sitting suspended from3.33 a.m. (Friday) to 2.30 p.m.
Presentation of Resolutions Passed by Parliament.
– I have to inform the House that last evening, accompanied by honorable members, I attended in the Queen’s Hall, and conveyed to representatives of the various branches of the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Imperial Force the resolution agreed to by the House on the 4th May, according the thanks of the House to the sea, land, and air forces, the voluntary workers of the Commonwealth, and others for their heroic services in connexion with the Great War.
Copies of the resolution were presented to Admiral Grant, General Sir Henry Chauvel, and General Sir John Monash, representing respectively the Australian Navy, and the Australian Armies serving on the Eastern and Western fronts. The officers mentioned each made a reply expressing his deep gratitude and that of the troops and allied organizations for this recognition of their services, and asked that their sincere appreciation of the resolution be conveyed to the House of Representatives.
.- I move-
That a record of the proceedings on the occasion of the presentation of the resolution of thanks, and of the replies made by Admiral Grant, General Sir Henry Chauvel, and General Sir John Monash beinserted in Hansard.
I wish to add a word of congratulation to all concerned on the success of the gathering.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
At the invitation of the President of the Senate (Senator the Hon. T. Givens)., and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson), honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives attended in the Queen’s Hall, on Thursday, 20th May, at 7.30 p.m., to witness the presentation to the representatives of the Navy, Army, and Auxiliary Forces of the resolutions of thanks passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The several Services were represented as follows : -
Engineer Rear-Admiral Sir WilliamClarkson, K.B.E., Third Naval Member.
Lieutenant-General Sir H. G. Chauvel, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., late G.O.C. Desert Mounted Corps.
Lieutenant - General Sir John Monash, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., V.D., late G.O.C. Australian Army Corps.
Major-General Sir C. B. B. White, K.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O. , A.D.C., representing the G.O.C. Sir W. R. Birdwood. G.C.M.G., K.C.B., K.C.S.I., C.I.E., D.S.O., A.D.C.
The Chief of the General Staff - Major-General J. G. Legge, C.B., C.M.G.
The Adjutant-General - MajorGeneral V. C. M. Sellheim, C.B., C.M.G. , A.D.C. to GovernorGeneral.
Depots in United Kingdom -
Major-General the Hon. Sir James
McCay, K.C.M.G., K.B.E., C.B., V.D.
Light Horse and other Units (Gallipoli and Palestine) -
Divisional Commander - MajorGeneral Sir G. Ryrie, K. C.M.G., C.B., V.D.
Regimental Commander - LieutenantColonel G. J. Bell, C. M.G., D.S.O.
Squadron Commander - LieutenantColonel T. J. Daly, D. S.O.
Non-commissioned Officer - No. 34, Squadron Sergeant-Major H. G. Ayres, D.C.M., M.M., 4th Light Horse.
Infantry and other Units (Gallipoli, Belgium, and France) -
Non-commissioned Officer, 3rd A.S.C., W.O. B. Donagan.
Non-commissioned Officer - Sergeant T. H. Kempson.
Non-commissioned Officer - Sergeant L. Horscroft.
A.I.F. in Mesopotamia -
A.I.F. in India -
A.I.F. in Salonika -
S/Nurse-Staff Nurse R. Watt.
Matron in Chief–Miss E. Tracy Richardson, R.R.C.
Presbyterian - Chaplain MacCrea Stewart.
Hebrew - ChaplainJ. Danglow.
Australian Comforts Fund - LieutenantColonel T. S. Woodburn, C.B.E.
Munition Supplies - A. E. Leigh ton, Esq., General Manager, Commonwealth Government Arsenal, Principal Administrative Officer in England for Australian Munition Workers and War Workers.
-(Senator the Hon. T. Givens). - The gathering this evening is for the purpose of presenting the thanks of both Houses of the Parliament to the Navy, the Army, and all the Auxiliary Forces and Workers, the members of which fought and worked for our liberty in the Great War. I now invite Admiral Grant, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Chauvel, and Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash to come forward as representatives of all those branches of the Service.
AdmiralGrant, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Chauvel, and Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash having taken their places on the dais,
The PRESIDENT read the following resolution of thanks as passed by the
Senate, and presented each of the representatives with a copy thereof : -
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, warrant officers, petty officers, and men of the Royal Australian Navy for their heroic services during four years of war in the guardianship of Australia and her commerce from the attacks of a lawless foe, for their unceasing vigilance in the patrol of many seas, for their courage and skill in safely convoying their soldier comrades to the main theatres of operations, and for their efficient co-operation with the Grand Fleet of the Empire.
Thatthe thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, warrant officers. N.C.O.’s, and men of the Australian Imperial Force for their unrivalled courage and efficiency, their cheerful endurance of unexampled hardships, and their magnificent achievements throughout four years of strenuous effort, with their comrades of the other portions of the British Empire in upholding the cause of human liberty.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the Australian Air Force for their brilliant, daring, and conspicuous services over sea and land.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the members of the Australian Army Medical Corps for the skilful discharge of their humane office, and for the unprecedented success which attended their unremitting labours to preserve the armed Forces of Australia from the ravages of disease.
That the thanks of the Senate be accorded to the women of the medical and other auxiliary services for their devotion in tending the sick and wounded and for other duties faithfully and bravely discharged.
That the thanks of the Senate he accorded to the fathers, mothers, wives, and sisters of Australia’s sailors and soldiers, for their devotion, their service, and their sacrifice.
That the Senate records its deep appreciation of the efforts and gifts of the women, men, and children of Australia, for the mitigation of the hardships endured by sailors and soldiers, and for the alleviation of the sufferings of the sick and wounded.
That the thanks of the Senate be also accorded to the men who enlisted for home service, the munition and war workers, the mercantile marine, the Royal Naval Auxiliary Forces, and the Citizen Forces called up for Garrison Artillery work.
That the Senate acknowledges with deep reverence and submission the heroism of those who have fallen in the service of their country, and tenders its profound sympathy to their relatives in the hour of their sorrow and their pride.
That the foregoing resolutions be conveyed to the officers, men, and others referred to therein.
– I have pleasure in presenting the resolution as passed by the House of Representatives in similar terms to that read by the President of the Senate.
ADMIRAL GRANT.- Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - On behalf of the Royal Australian Navy, and of the merchant service, I ask you to convey to the Commonwealth Parliament our great thanks for the high honour which has been conferred upon the Service, and which will be greatly appreciated by all ranks and ratings. The Navy is merelyan instrument of government for carrying out the will of the people, and the will of the people in the recent great war was the will to win. Without that magnificent spirit we could not have accomplished anything. The Commonwealth Government may rest assured that if the Royal Australian Navy is again called upon to protect the country, it will maintain the high traditions of the great Services of which it is an important and acknowledged part.
Lieut-General Sir HENRY CHAUVEL. - Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - On behalf of those soldiers who served in Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and on behalf of the Army Medical Corps and the Army Nursing Service who served in those theatres and in India and Salonika, and of all those Auxiliary Services and organizations which did so much for our soldiers, both at home and abroad, I thank you. I appreciate very much the resolution that has been passed by both, Houses of the Parliament.By reason of the gratitude shown by the nation, our soldiers will soon forget the hardships they have endured, but I trust they will never forget our gallant comrades who lost their lives in the cause of freedom and justice. We are most deeply grateful for the confidence you have placed in us, and for the terms in which your appreciation of our services has been expressed.
Lieut.-General Sir JOHN MONASH. - Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and honorable gentlemen, - As representative of the Australian ImperialForce who served in the European theatre of war, I desire, through you, Mr. President, and you, Mr. Speaker, to express to your respective honorable Houses, our sincere thanks for the resolutions of 4th May and 5th May, which have just been presented to us. No greater honour can come to any man, or any body of men,. than to receive at the hands of the Parliament public recognition for services rendered to the State, and such recognition compensates for every sacrifice and every endeavour. May I be permitted on this occasion to say a word or two about thetroops which it was my privilege to lead in theWestern theatre of war during the period of their greeatest achievements? No commander in war in the whole range of history could have been better served. The Divisional Generals, the Brigadiers of Artillery and Infantry, the heads of Auxiliary Services and Departments, and the numerous Staffs rendered notable service with most wholehearted devotion. They brought to their daily tasks a fortitude, a resolution, and an industry which was always exemplary. Australia owes much to these men, in the palms of whose hands lay the national honour and prestige and the well-being of her soldiers. But all of these men will, like myself, be the first to acknowledge that the foundation of all their achievements lay in the superb spirit and performance of the troops themselves. It was the regimental officers, the noncommissioned officers, the men in the ranks - the gunner, the sapper, the airmen, the signaller, and the infantry soldier - who bore the heat and burden of the day. These men underwent untold privations and sacrifices, and won for us the battles that we planned. They have gained for themselves a place in history which none can challenge.
But there were many other workers whose efforts contributed in no small measure to the success of the troops. First and foremost, must come the splendid medical services, and the devoted men and women who staffed them. Noblaze of publicity illuminated their work, but they have nevertheless earned for themselves a crown of glory.
I am glad also that the resolutions of. your honorable Houses referred to the services and sacrifices of the people of Australia. The men and women of the Australian Imperial Force will never forget how much they owe to the generous help and support of the Australian public, or to those splendid organizations which took upon themselves the heavy task of bringing to the troops in the field and in the depots the succour, comfort, and consolation for which the Australian people had furnished the means. I allude to the AustralianRed Cross, the Australian
Comforts Fund, and the Australian Young Men’s Christian Association.
On behalf of all these activities working together in France, Belgium, and England, in the common purpose of achieving final victory over our enemies, I again tender our respectful thanks to Parliament for the tribute which has been paid to them to-night.
The proceedings then terminated.
– I lay on the table -
Northern Territory - Report of the Royal Commission (Mr. Justice Ewing).
The report discloses an unsatisfactory condition of affairs, of which the Government are bound to take notice. Revelations of facts have been made which indicate that it would be undesirable to continue in employment any of the persons who left the Territory on the demand of the people, or any of those others whose conduct has been adversely criticised in this report.
There are suggestions as to improper administration on the part of the Government, which involve a more complete examination of the evidence and documents than it has yet been possible to make, but this is in hand and will be completed shortly. I move -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented: -
Late German New Guinea - Interim and Final Reports of Royal Commission.
Ordered to be printed.
Northern Territory Commission- Minutes of evidence.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message . that the Senate had agreed to it as amended by the House of Representatives at its request.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on a date to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which day of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
– The only question now before the House for discussion is the motion just moved by the Prime Minister. Honorable members can discuss whether the House, at its rising, shall adjourn to a date to be fixed in the manner referred to in the motion, or to some other date. I am afraid that no other matters can be mentioned.
– Can the Prime Minister tell us when we are likely to reassemble? Honorable members whose homes are in other States have arrangements to make, which it would be most inconvenient to conclude unless timely notice were given.
– Yesterday the Prime Minister mentioned the difficulty that ho had at the present time in fixing a definite date, because matters arising out of certain functions which are about to take place leave things in a state of some uncertainty. That is why it is proposed that, Mr. Speaker shall call honorable members together by telegram or letter.
– Cannot we be told approximately when we shall meet again?
– At the present time I have no other information than that contained in the announcement of the Prime Minister yesterday.
– We should be given fair notice of the intention to call Parliament together again. I think that there should be at least a fortnight’s notice.
– It will take me nearly a week to travel to my home in Queensland, and almost a week to get back to Melbourne. We should be told approximately when the House is to reassemble.
. -I thought that yesterday I dealt with the matter as precisely as I could. Unless the earlier calling of the House is necessitated by circumstances which cannot now be foreseen, it is proposed that the adjournment shall extend over the period of His Royal Highness the Prince’s visit to Victoria and New South Wales. I have not seen the programme, so that I do not know exactly how long that period will be; but the House will not be asked to meet before the 23rd June, and I think that the visit of His Royal Highness to New South Wales will conclude about a week earlier.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As honorable members, and certainly you, Mr. Speaker, are perfectly aware, it was contemplated that an address of welcome should be presented from this Parliament to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, upon his arrival in Melbourne, and it was anticipated that an arrangement would be made between Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate to enable this to be done, but I have had an opportunity of speaking to Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate on the matter, and, from what I can gather, the two presiding officers do not agree as to the manner in which it should be done. In this connexion I speak as a shipwrecked mariner. I know nothing about precedence and procedure in such matters. May is a sealed book to me. I say it to my shame. After twenty years of parliamentary life, I look upon May with reverence, and accept its dicta with respect, but I have never read it. In the circumstances I can only offer the humble suggestion of a layman to experts, that Parliament might adopt an address to His RoyalHighness and present it to him in the Library; and if Mr. Speaker agrees with that proposal, not that he thinks it the best way, but because he deems it the only way in view of the impossibility of arriving at an understanding with the President of the Senate, I shall be very glad to move that a suitable address of welcome be prepared by this House and presented to His Royal Highness.
– Since my conversation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) I have received a copy of the official programme of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and I see, from the arrangements set out in it, that my suggestion that a part of the building common to members of both branches of the Legislature has been decided upon for the reception of the Prince. That arrangement is in conformity with established precedent and CUStOm in connexion with this’ Parliament. .1 have not heard any reason advanced why our wellestablished practice should be set aside. The first intimation I had of the proposed departure was a paragraph in one of the newspapers to which the attention of the House was drawn by an honorable member, who asked me a question from his place in the Chamber, concerning it. Subsequently I was handed by the President of another place a typed copy of suggestions concerning the matter, which were similar to the programme in the newspaper report.
Briefly, the main1 points were that the address should be a joint one first passed in the Senate, and then sent on to this House for its concurrence.
That both Houses should be called to meet again, on the day of the official dinner to the Prince, half an hour before the time fixed for the dinner. That the Senate should then invite the members of this House to attend in the Senate Chamber to receive His Royal Highness, and that after the Prince had been ushered into the Senate Chamber by the Prime Minister, the President should read and present the address to His Royal Highness, after which both Houses should adjourn.
Apart from the cumbersomeness of the procedure, involving as it did unnecessary special sittings of each House, and the presence of a number of visitors whom it would not be easy to prevent from afterwards crowding into the Queen’s Hall, already arranged for the dinner, there was the very serious objection - a fatal, one in my opinion. - that the adoption of the proposed innovation on our established procedure involved a serious encroachment on the undoubted, rights .and privileges of the House of Representa tives. I did not question for one moment the right of the President to present an address om behalf of the Senate, but I certainly disputed his assumption of the authority to do so on behalf of the House of Representatives, which, elects its own “Speaker,” who is the only authoritative “mouth-piece of the House.””
I think it well, perhaps, to read a copy of a letter I addressed to the President on the subject, which was as- follows: -
Regarding the suggestions for the presentation of a Parliamentary Address to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, there are several objections to the proposals’ outlined in the typed copy you were good enough to furnish me with. I sea no reason for departing from the established practice regarding presentation of addresses to the Crown or the King’s representative. Such addresses are passed by each House, and presented by the presiding officers of each House separately. The last occasion of the presentation of a special address was on the news of the surrender of Germany. A similarlyworded address to His Majesty the King was adopted by each House, and presented by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House pf Representatives in the presence of members of both Houses, not in either chamber, but in a place common to both Houses, viz., the steps of Parliament House.
In Votes and Proceedings, No. 100, of Thursday, 14th November, 1918, honorable members will see the record of that function, and a record of last night’s proceedings, which were carried, out on the lines I have indicated as being in conformity with our established procedure, will be incorporated in Hansard as the result of a report I have just made to the House.
I see no reason why this practice cannot be followed on the occasion of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Should the weather conditions be unfavorable for an out-door presentation, the Queen’s Hall, which is common to both’ Houses, could be availed of. The best time for such a function, in my opinion, is that originally proposed when the Prince is passing Parliament House in the procession on the day of his arrival, but if this is found to be inconvenient another occasion -preferably unassociated with the dinner function - might be availed of. The only occasion when members of the House of Representatives officially, attend in the Senate chamber is when they are summoned to do so by the King’s representative.
They are not summoned to do so by the Senate.
The address can be adopted by each branch of the Legislature prior to the adjournment before the Prince’s arrival in Australia. This would obviate the necessity of calling the
Houses to meet the day after bis arrival, when it is quite possible, though perhaps not probable, there might not be a quorum available. I commend this alternative proposal to your consideration, as you will note that in the case of the presentation of the joint address from the Lords and Commons by the Lord Chancellor, which you claim as a precedent, the whole of the circumstances were dissimilar, and the address was not presented in either Chamber, but in a room in the King’s Palace.
I have had no further communication with the President on the subject, but Senator Russell who, I understand, is in charge of the arrangements connected with the visit of the Prince of Wales, interviewed me, and gave me to understand that the President was not agreeable to my suggestion, and that unless I was prepared to accept his proposal there would probably be no address presented to His Royal Highness. I told Senator Russell that while I would very much regret such a decision on the part of the Government, such a consideration, regrettable as it would be, would neither excuse nor justify me in surrendering the rights and privileges of this House of which I was the custodian and guardian.
– To do the President justice, I do not think the personal aspect affects his judgment any more than it does my own. There is simply a divergence of views as to the constitutional position of the two Houses. And I cannot concede his point except at the cost of curtailment of the rights and .privileges of this Chamber. This is an extremely important matter with far-reaching consequences in the matter of procedure ‘ which honorable members may not realize at first sight. If we sacrifice the rights and privileges of this House it will establish for all times the precedence of the Senate over the House of Representatives, setting it up as the superior Chamber, whereas the House of Representatives, as its name implies, is the representative House. If any precedence is to be claimed by one House over another I claim it on behalf of the popular House, which not only is numerically twice as strong as the Senate, but also has rights and privileges secured to it which are expressly withheld from the other House under the Constitution.
I cannot imagine the possibility of any serious objection to the proposal I put forward, which was in accordance with recent practice, namely, for addresses to be moved by the head of the Government in this House and the Leader of the Government in the other House. This was done in November last on the occasion of the presentation of an address to the King on the conclusion of the war with Germany, and, again, only last night, when the thanks of Parliament were conveyed by the President and the ‘Speaker to the representatives of the various units who served the Commonwealth in the great war with Germany, and I see no reason for departing from the procedure on this occasion. Therefore, I have already suggested in a memorandum to the Prime Minister that, while we are waiting for Bills to come from the Senate, it might be convenient for this House to adopt an address to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, leaving the Senate to adopt an address in similar terms at any time convenient. Then we could carry out the arrangement provided for in the printed programme of arrangements during the Prince’s visit, which states that at 7 p.m. on Thursday, the 27th May, His Royal Highness will be received at the Commonwealth Houses of Parliament by the right honorable the Prime Minister, and conducted to the Parliamentary Library, where he will be received by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and members of both Houses. Then follow the words, “ Presentation of address.” The mistake - one easily rectified - is the use of the singular instead of the plural. In the Library the President of the ‘Senate, standing alongside the Speaker, can read the address adopted by the Senate; and Mr: Speaker can then, in order to save time, present the address adopted by the House of Representatives without going through the formality of reading it, and explain that it is couched in exactly the same terms as are used in. the address read by the President.
– Even then the Senate would be getting an advantage.
– Yes, they would be getting an advantage in regard to precedence, but this practice has hitherto been adopted by our predecessors. I suggest that the customary procedure should be observed. If the other procedure ‘be adopted, it may involve faTreaching consequences later on, which will be of great detriment to the prestige of this House.
– Does that mean that there is to be only one address, and that we are supposed to acquiesce in that procedure? Do you, sir, desire to present an address?
– What I desire, and what I have already explained, is that the procedure which has recently been followed should be followed in this case; that is, that there shall be addresses couched in identical terms, one moved by the Prime Minister, as the Leader of this House, and the other moved by the Leader of the Senate, agreed to by both Houses, and presented jointly in the same way as addresses have been presented hitherto.
– There is only one address, but it is in two parts.
– It is practically the one address, but passed separately by each House as distinct and separate branches of the Legislature.
– I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you leave the chair for a while, so that we may have an opportunity to prepare an address for submission to the Chamber. There is one thing I should like to say, however, before you do leave the chair. On the 27 th May - next Thursday - the Government of the Commonwealth is giving His Royal Highness a dinner in the Queen’s Hall of this Parliament House. It is a dinner confined to members of Parliament, the only officials invited outside members of Parliament being the heads of Departments and the officers of the House. I ask honorable members, out of respect to this Parliament, and no matter at what inconvenience to themselves - -though I know it will be very inconvenient to some - to attend that dinner. As to all other functions, honorable members may please themselves; but I ask them to attend this, really the only function at which the Government qua Government - Commonwealth qua Commonwealth - is receiving His Royal High ness. As this is the great representative institution of Australia, I think- every honorable member, irrespective of his opinions on controversial matters, ought to attend ; and I ask them to do so. I do not merely give them an invitation, for they are the hosts; and I expect them to be here, just as I shall be myself.
– May we attend in tweed suits ?
– I remember when a previous Governor-General occupied the position there was a function of some sort - I forget what - and cards of invitation were sent out, and I insisted that cards of invitation should be sent to the heads of the trades organizations throughout Australia. On the left-hand bottom corner of the card these sinister and menacing words were written: “Trousers to be worn.” Within half-an-hour I received many indignant protests from my friends of one sort or another - .and I am bound to say they are recruited from all sections of society - who wished to know whether they were thought to be aborigines or what. The idea, of course, was that we were not to attend in breeches; but as none of us had any breeches, the direction was quite superfluous. However, honorable members may come in the best dress they have. They can do their best; that is all I can say.
– I understand that it is the desire of the Prime Minister that I leave the chair for a while, in order that an address may be prepared. I shall resume the chair when necessary, and five minutes’ notice will be given by the ringing of the bells.
Sitting suspended from 3.7 to ,345 p.m. (Friday).
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Proclamation (dated 29th April, 1920), prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Fruit (Fresh or Preserved), Fruit Pulp, and Jam.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1920, Nos. 77, 79.
– I am informed that the other branch of the Legislature has adjourned without adopting an address to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; but I have prepared an address as to which you, sir, and the members of this Chamber, can decide whether or not it shall be adopted. With your permission, I move -
That the following Address be presented to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales: -
To His Royal Highness Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester in the Peerage of England, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, and Baron of Renfrew, in the Peerage of Scotland, Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland,K.G., P.C., G.M.M.G., G.M.B.E., M.C.
May it Please Your Royal Highness:
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, welcome Your Royal Highness with assurances of our devoted attachment to the person and Crown of our Most Gracious Sovereign.
We recall with pride the latest visit to Australia of His Majesty the King before his accession to the Throne, when he was graciously pleased to open in person the inaugural session of the Australian Parliament.
The abiding memories of that epochal event have proved a potent factor in strengthening the ties of kinship and affection which hold together the free nations of the British Empire in the union which war and danger only helped to consolidate.
We therefore rejoice at the presence of Your Royal Highness, and we offer you a warm and loyal welcome, not only as Heir Apparent to the Throne and as our future Sovereign, but also as one who was hailed by our gallant Australian soldiers as a comrade on the field on which so many brave men fought and died in the sacred cause of freedom.
We congratulate Your Royal Highness upon the spirit you displayed in the great war now happily ended, and we feel that we may indulge a becoming pride in the thought that the high sense of duty and responsibility by which Your Royal Highness was animated was shared to the full by Australia’s sons and daughters, who by their valour and their sacrifices contributed a worthy part to the ultimate triumph of those principles which are the glory and the pride of the British name.
Your progress throughout the Commonwealth will afford Your Royal Highness an opportunity of observing the energy, enterprise, and character of our people in the pursuit of the arts of peace.
We earnestly trust that your visit to our sh ores may be fraught with happiness and pleasure to Your Royal Highness, and that your mission to our people may be blessed with an abundant measure of success to the present and enduring advantage of Australia and the Empire.
I will offer no observation at all upon the fact that the Senate has adjourned without considering the matter of an address; but I submit this to you, sir, in order that you may exercise your discretion and, if you deem it fit, give to honorable members an opportunity of exercising theirs.
.- Honorable members are placed at a great disadvantage in being asked to agree to the address which has just been read. It is a matter, I am sure, upon which any honorable member would be reluctant to express either agreement or disapproval without, at any rate, being afforded an opportunity to study it. The Prime Minister has intimated that the Senate has adjourned without adopting or, apparently, discussing the matter of a similar address. I do not know whether that means that the Senate does not intend to take any part in the presentation to His Royal Highness.
– That should not influence this Chamber.
– Of course, we need not worry about that; but I am wondering whether it had not better be left in the hands of Mr. Speaker and the President to prepare an address. The Prime Minister has already laid down the basis for such an address; but it is not fair that honorable members should be asked, without any notice whatever, to adopt its precise terms.I would be very reluctant, indeed, to oppose the presentation of an address to the Prince of Wales; but I emphasize that it is asking too much of honorable members to support and adopt something which we have had no opportunity to peruse.
– I, certainly, would not be prepared, in any circumstances, to vote against the address; but it would be morethan lamentable if, owing to the friction which has arisen between the two Chambers, or between their presiding officers, any hitch or trouble should now develop. It would be very much better to leave the whole matter to yourself, sir, and to the President, in order that you might mutually arrange some amicable way out of the difficulty, and thus avoid marring the proceedings by a silly little dispute re*garding precedence. If this House agrees to the address as read by the Prime Minister, in face of the fact that the Senate has not adopted a similar address, there will be serious danger of the whole matter becoming a fiasco. I urge the Prime Minister not to proceed further, but to substitute for his motion for the adoption of the address another to the effect that the matter be referred back to Mr. Speaker and the President for joint action.
– I can only point out once more that that would revive the whole trouble, and would altogether set aside the longesta!blished procedure of this House. We are bound by our own procedure, and, unless, there is any grave reason for bringing about an alteration, we should continue to f ollow that procedure. The question of whether an address shall be presented is one for the House, not the Speaker, to determine. The practice hitherto has been for the. head of the Government in this Chamber to move for the adoption of an address, and for the senior representative of the Government in the other Chamber to move similarly there. The initiative rests with the Government, and the decision rests with the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative
– I think it would be well for the House to agree to a formal motion in regard to the presentation of the address.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes.) agreed to -
That the honorable members of this House assemble in the Library on 27th May, at 7 p.m., anil that the address be there presented by Mr. Speaker to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-14, the following work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for their report thereon, namely -
Additions and alterations to the General Post Office building, Adelaide, South Australia.
In submitting drawings and description of the proposed scheme for the remodelling of the General Post Office premises at Adelaide, I may explain that, beyond some internal minor alterations, which necessarily had to be made from time to time, there has been no real step taken to meet the great expansion of postal work that has occurred in Adelaide since Federation. The time has, therefore, arrived when extensive provision in the form of remodelling the premises to meet pres.ent-day postal and telegraph operations is necessary. The scheme of this work now proposed to be submitted to the Public Works Committee is intended to provide suitably for the necessities of every branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s work and for the public doing business with these branches. The proposals are also on a scale expected to meet the expansion of all such requirements over a considerable period of years. The nature of the plans is such that the outward appearance of the premises will be little interfered with. They consist in a large degree of providing extensive new areas of floor space behind the street frontages of considerable height, constructed in a modern manner; they will be fireproof, perfectly lighted and ventilated, and with a minimum of structural obstruction to the operations intended to be carried on within the building. Inasmuch as it is not intended to interfere with the official use of the premises during the carrying out of the alterations, the work will necessarily have to be carried on in sections, and, in the aggregate, will occupy several years. Expenditure will thus extend over several parliamentary financial periods. It was intended to proceed with these works in 1917, since which date the necessary drawings and estimate of cost, &c, have been in existence. Owing, however, to the stringent financial situation, progress has been, suspended, until now the position is such that the inconvenience being experienced in the premises as they now” exist has become very great. The estimated cost of the work in 1917 was about £79.000. Since that date, however, building values have increased considerably. The percentage of this increase is being investigated by the Department of Works and Railways, and will be ready for submission as evidence to the Public
Works Committee when it enters uponconsideration of the project. I will lay on the table of the House the plans and specifications of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Arbitration Court - Export of Metals - Re-assembling of Parliament - Public Service and Arbitration Awards - Munition Workers - Prince of Wales’ Visit : Holiday Pay for Vocational Trainees - Vacancies in Taxation Department - Mail Contractors in Drought Areas - Allowance Post Officers - Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide: Calling of Mail Steamers - Soldiers’ Graves - Exchange Calculations by Trade and Customs Department - War Service Homes Department : Supplies of Brick and Cement.
. –I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Yesterday the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fenton) asked a question in regard to the accommodation for the Deputy President of the Arbitration Court. I am now in a position to say that special arrangements are being made for the accommodation of the Court, and it is expected that Mr. Justice Starke will be able to take up his duties as DeputyPresident in a few days.
On 11th May, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) stated that the Australian Metal Exchange had refused a permit for the exportation of old horseshoes required for ballast purposes, and asked if an outside organization such as this has the supreme power of denying permits for the exportation of goods, and, if so, how long such a system is to continue. I am now in a position to state that it is not, and never has been, the function of the Australian Metal Exchange to refuse or grant permits to ship metals. Registration of contracts is the function of the Exchange; permission to export rests with the Government. In the case referred to by the honorable member, the applicants did not hold any horseshoes, but wished to buy 70 tons for export to Hong Kong. Permission to ship was refused by the Government, as local users were prepared to purchase the horseshoes at a reasonable price for local treatment in Western Australia, where electric furnaces are at present being erected to treat the West Australian production and accumulated stocks of scrap steel. The conversion of each ton of scrap treated locally by means of electric furnaces, means the expenditure of £4 for electric current, and from £18 to £20 for labour to bring the product to a saleable condition. In addition, about £4 is spent in the Commonwealth by way of incidental and overhead expenses. If the embargo had not been imposed, the stocks of scrap iron and steel in the Commonwealth would long ago have been sold to the East. By the institution of the embargo, supplies for local purposes have been assured, an important industry has been developed, and a competitive demand for scrap steel has been created in the Commonwealth. In dealing with applications to export scrap metals, the producers of the scrap receive every consideration, but the Government cannot permit dealers to export scrap steel making for themselves from £1 to £2 profit per ton, whereas by insisting on local treatment, at least £27 is spent by the steel founders in the Commonwealth mostly in direct wages, and reasonable prices are, at the same time, obtained by the producers of the scrap.
I have refreshed my memory in regard to the programme which has been prepared for the convenience of honorable members, and I find the Prince of Wales will leave New South Wales on the 19th June, and, consequently, the 23rd June is the first day on which this House can be called together. I do not say that the House will be re-assembled on that day; but I do say that it will not re-assemble earlier.
.- This is the only opportunity I shall have for some time to bring under the notice of the House several matters of urgency. On the 4th May, twenty awards under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act were laid on the table, some of which dated back to the 1st May. The thirty days during which the awards must lay on the table will elapse on the 3rd June. I ask the Prime Minister to arrange that the men who are affected by the awards shall receive the amended rates at the earliest possible date after the thirty days have elapsed, even though the House be not in session at the time.
Yesterday I asked a question in regard to the munition workers. These men consider that they have not been well treated, and that their services have not been adequately recognised. I know that some of the Ministerial supporters agree with me in urging that an inquiry be held in order to insure that proper recognition is given to the services of these men-
– I understand that the Prime Minister has practically agreed to that.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will arrange for an inquiry to be held, with a view to seeing that the munition workers secure justice?
– What kind of inquiry does the honorable member want?
– I am not in a position to make a suggestion off-hand.
– I will discuss the matter with the honorable member.
– There is another matter affecting vocational trainees. I am informed that men who are being paid sustenance by the Repatriation Department will receive payment for the two public holidays during the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,but” that the vocational trainees will not be paid for those days. The latter are entitled to at least as much consideration as are the men who are receiving sustenance. We have no right to say to men, “ Because you are trying to improve yourself, and because we are closing the school for two days, you shall suffer a reduction of pay.” Compulsory holidays for these men without pay is not’ just.
– Is it not a good way to encourage loyalty?
– The honorable member is speaking sarcastically. Every one ot these men is a returned soldier, and I heard one of them say, “ My next paywill be 13s. 6d. short, because of the Prince arriving.” That is not fair, and I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation to consider the claims of these men.
Another urgent matter is the filling of vacancies in the Taxation Department. A return was submitted to the House the other day showing that over 1,000 men had left the Department within nine months. Of the twenty-nine appointments to be made, twenty-five have been held up in Victoria alone. The men who have been appointed in other States are thus securing seniority over those who are temporarily held up here. I ask the Minister to ascertain whether it is not possible for something to be done for the twenty-five men to whose promotion there can be no objection.
– I have just had a discussion on the point with the Minister. It is all right. I will do what the honorable member suggests.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise), and also that of the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to a matter of urgent importance, since if it be allowed to stand over until we resume, it may then be too late to take action. The drought in . New South Wales to-day is so serious that I fear that unless some encouragement is given mail contractors to continue their work, quite a number of small country services will be discontinued. The hardships and sufferings of the people in the droughtstricken areas, great as they are, will be much increased if they are deprived of the ordinary mail conveniences. I assure the Acting Treasurer and the PostmasterGeneral that unless something is done immediately to assist small mail contractors throughout New South Wales, they will find it almost impossible to carry on.
.- I sympathize with the plea which has been made by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) on behalf of mail contractors in the drought-stricken areas of New South Wales, and I think his statement will apply to men so employed in all the States. I wish specially to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) the position of those in charge of allowance post-offices, and to inquire whether the honorable gentleman has yet taken action to afford them some relief. They are among the worst paid people in the community, and I hope that speedy action will be taken to improve their position. They are performing onerous duties, aud although, like all other sections, they feel the pinch of. the high cost of living, they seem to be the only people who are not receiving any consideration.
.- I desire to bring under the special notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) the congestion of business in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Some time ago, when this question was discussed in the House, it was stated that forty-two cases were listed for hearing. Since then seven additional plaints have been lodged, bringing up the total to forty-nine. I realize that the Government have done something to relieve the congestion by appointing an assistant to Mr. Justice Higgins, but I would urge that an attempt should be made, by the appointment of temporary Deputy-Presidents of the Court, to clear up the arrears of work. It is utterly impossible for the arrears to be overtaken under existing conditions. The delay in hearing these cases is responsible for a greal deal of industrial unrest, and is playing into the hands of those who are to-day advocating direct action.
I desire now to bring before the PostmasterGeneral the position in regard to oversea mail steamers calling at the Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide. Recently a mail steamer bound from the Old Country failed to call at the Outer Harbor, and so caused a great deal of inconvenience to those engaged in the commerce and industry of the State. The overseas mails had to be closed earlier than usual in order that they might be sent to Melbourne to be placed on board the steamer there, while intending passengers had to journey either to Melbourne or Fremantle to board her. It has been the practice of these vessels always to call at the Outer Harbor, and, having regard to the fact that Adelaide is the third city in the Commonwealth, I hope the Postmaster-General will see to it that its citizens are not again subjected to such inconvenience.
– Those who are acquainted with the work that is being done in connexion with soldiers’ graves abroad will be grateful to the Government for the thorough manner in which they are interpreting the wishes of the nation in that regard. It has been brought under my notice, however, that in some of the larger cemeteries in our own country there are a number of soldiers’ graves which are not only unmarked, but, in some cases, are falling into a state of neglect such as no one would like to see. I suggest for the serious consideration of the Minister for Defence that inquiry should be made immediately - while the facts can be ascertained - to locate the unmarked graves of Australian soldiers in our own country, so that crosses, or other monuments similar to those which are being erected over our soldiers’ graves abroad may be placed above the remains of those who lie in their own land.
.- When the Estimates were under consideration earlier in the week I dealt with the method adopted by the Department of Trade and Customs in calculating exchange for the purpose of determining the amount of duty to be paid. I then understood the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Laird Smith) to say that he would bring the matter under the notice of Cabinet. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to expedite the matter and to give an assurance that the final decision of the Cabinet, as soon as arrived at, will be announced through the public press, so that it may be widely known throughout Australia. I make the request that the matter be treated as urgent, for the reason that every day opportunities are being lost by France and Italy to obtain trade in Australia, and that orders are going to neutral countries as well as to America and Japan. If this matter is going to be decided, I ask that it be decided quickly. Whether the Government intends to continue the present practice, or to improve matters by altering it, some decision should be come to, and made known as soon as possible.
.- I have been informed that last year the War Service Homes Department seized or commandeered all the supplies of brick and cement, and that this has interfered with the ordinary business of contractors. Once before in this State, when there was a great dearth of bricks, the late Sir Thomas Bent was man enough to start making them, and he supplied them to the Government Departments, and to the public, at a price considerably less than had formerly been charged. The architects of Australia complain of the way in which the work in connexion with the building of War Service homes has been apportioned. I hope that before we meet again they will be more fairly treated, and that my suggestion in regard to the making of bricks and cement by the Government, with the assistance of returned soldiers, if necessary, will be given effect to.
– For nearly two years the members of the Merchant Service Guild have been trying to get their case heard by the Arbitration Court, but have not been able to do so because organizations whose members strike are able to secure prior hearings. After waiting for eighteen months for an opportunity to go before the Court, the engineers struck, and an arrangement was made.
– Not by the Court.
– No. But because the members of the Guild have been loyal, and have not struck, this condition of affairs has come about, that on all the high-powered steamers on the Australian coast the engineers are receiving higher pay than the captains.
.- On the 21st May, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked -
The Commissioner advises as follows : -
– I wish to say, in reply to the remarks of several honorable members, including the honorablemember for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), that the position of mail contractors whose cases are exceptional will be specially dealt with throughout Australia. The drought is so serious and unprecedented that I am certain that the Treasurerwill be prepared to support me in giving fair and reasonable assistance.
– Will you make it general ?
– Yes, throughout the States. The present prices of fodder are so high that they could not have been foreseen by any contractor when sending in his tender. I intend to ask the Treasurer for a reasonable sum to meet the fair claims of the contractors.
As to the allowance post-officers referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), that matter is also receiving my attention. I shall do all I can to assist them.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) , complained of the R.M.S Ormonde not calling at Adelaide on her return voyage. This is the report I have obtained on the matter -
TheR.M.S. Ormonde did not call at Adelaide on her present voyage from Australia for the reason that on her voyage to Australia she damaged her propeller in the Suez Canal, and, in consequence,was detained about ten days on that voyage. In order to enable the vessel to deliver homeward mails on the date originally intended, or as nearly as possible thereto, and as it is essential in the interests of the whole Commonwealth that the steamer should be able to revert to her regular time-table on the return voyage if possible, approval was given for the omission of Adelaide in this particular instance, so as to enable time to be made up.
The case is exceptional, and will not occur again.
– I haveonly one remark to make about this fresh appeal to the Treasurer.
– It is a fair thing.
– I know that it is; but I would remind’ the House that about £350,000 over and above the amount voted in the Estimates has been poured into the Post Office. That is the bottomless pit.
– Last year the Department made a profit of over £500,000.
– So long as you make a profit, you can have something back. Regarding the taxation officers, I regret the delay that has taken place. Twenty-five of the cases that have been referred to will be released at once. Difficulties have arisen in connexion with the rule of the Government to give preference to returned soldiers, and four cases remain to be dealt with.
– With regard to the awards about which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) spoke, I shall get them through with as little delay as the law requires.I shall do what I can to expedite business in the Industrial Court, but the law does not permit us to appoint acting Judges. That is our trouble.
With regard to the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), I have discussed it at some length with the French Consul-General. I asked that if the French Government felt that it is being treated unfairly, either in this instance or by the Tariff generally, it should make direct representations to this Government. I did that six weeks ago, and I have sent telegram after telegram, and have had interviews after interviews,but cannot get the French authorities to do anything. If this is a serious matter for France, the least they can do is to say so. Twenty-four hours after they have said so, the anomaly here referred to will beremoved. Business is business, and I must say that the neglect to comply with my request in this matter is a most unbusiness-like proceeding. I have told them, in words as plain as those I am using now, “All that you have to do is to ask, and you shall have, but you must ask.”
– It is only another case of a Government not being alert to the interests of its constituents.
– It is not for me to criticise the French Government at all, but I shall defend myself. To-day the rate of exchange is at least 50 francs to the £1.
– Over 50 francs.
– I think it is 53 francs.
– It was 55 francs, but it has dropped, perhaps, to 53 francs. This represents a complete embargo on French goods. As soon as the matter was put before me I agreed, if asked, to do what was proposed. I was dealing with a number of matters, one of which is of infinitely more importance to France than is that to which the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) has referred. However, just as in regard to the United Kingdom, I could get no satisfac tion at all so long as I confined myself to cable communications, and as soon as I made certain representations through the press I noticed symptoms of weakness, so, in all probability, if the press send this information, the French Government will be asked why they have not asked the Commonwealth Government to do this very necessary thing. I say to the honorable member for Flinders, and to the French Government, that, twenty-four hours after the French Government has asked that they shall be considered in this matter, that consideration will be extended to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.27 p.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200520_reps_8_92/>.