9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I regret to inform the House that the Hon.P.G. Stewart has tendered his resignation as Minister for Works and Railways, and His Excellency the Governor-General has accepted it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question based upon an urgent wire I have received from Mr. Madden, of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, Sydney, to the following effect: -
Position likely to be serious Cockatoo and Garden Islands unless something done urgently.
Number of men under notice. Please take steps to overcome same.
Will the Prime Minister give sympathetic consideration to the request that these men shall not be put out of employment?
– I shall make inquiries at once as to the actual position, and shall see if anything can be done.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, with reference to the proposed removalofthe Australian War Museum temporarily to Sydney, and the housing of the museum in the Exhibition Building, Prince Alfred Park, to say what has been done.
– The honorable member was good enough to mention the matter to me before the House met, but I am afraid I cannot give a complete answer to his question to-day. The Sydney City Council has been asked whether a lease will be granted to the Commonwealth, in about twelve months’ time, -when the present lease to a Mr, Brown will expire. Pending a reply from the council no action can be taken by the Commonwealth towards making immediate arrangements. I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories, and obtain from him a more complete answer.
Mr.FORDE. - I ask the Prime Minister the following questions: -
Common wealth Government, (b) the New South Wales Government, (c) the Queensland Government to tiring about the ratification?
– Obviously the questions put by the honorable member should be placed on the notice-paper, but I should like to remove the misapprehension that it is the fault of the Commonwealth Government that there has been delay. That is not so.
Report of Sir Edgeworth David
– As there have been several references in the press lately to a report by Professor Sir Edgeworth David on the Military and Naval Colleges, can the Minister for Defence make the report available to honorable members ?
– A departmental report was submitted by Sir Brudenell White, Captain Hyde, and Professor Sir Edgeworth David in regard to the colleges soma twelve months ago. Part of the report referring to the strategical position at the present time, is secret. The other part deals generally with the Military and Naval Colleges. I think there is no objection to honorable members seeing the report. I shall look into the matter, and give the honorable gentleman an answer to-morrow.
-With regard to the negotiations that I understand are now going on in some of the states for a bounty on Doradilla grapes, I ask the Prime Ministerwhether the bounty is to be paid only to returned soldier-growers or to all growers of Doradilla grapes?
– Under the proposed arrangement the bounty will be paid to all growers of the grapes. There is no limitation to returned soldier growers.
– I ask the Minister, representing the Minister for Home and Territories, if his attention has been drawn to an article published by Dr. Stefansson, which gives evidence of terrible mortality amongst travelling stock in the Northern Territory, due to the lack of water, which has been aggravated by the non-installation of machinery required and ordered twelve months ago, and the failure to have another bore sunk.
Will the. Minister call for a report on the matter, and will he also lay on the Library table the report of Mr. Keith Ward, the Government Geologist of South Australia, made last year?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for Home and Territories, and shall obtain the information for which he asks.
– Has the Prime Minister received any official intimation from the British Government or the High Commissioner with regard to the recent ReparationsConfenence ? Will he, in any event, consider the advisability of conveying the congratulations of Australia to the British Labour Government and the Socialist Government ofFrance for having succeeded in bringing about an agreement between the two countries where their predecessors had failed to do so?
– I have received many communications from the British Government with regard to the negotiations which have been proceeding, and are still proceeding in Great Britain. I suggest to the honorable member that it is extremely undesirable to introduce party politics into matters of this character. We are all most desirous to see a happy issue out of the present negotiations, which should be kept on the highest possible plane.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to make the report of Colonel Ainsworth on the administration of the Mandated Territories available to honorable members, and, if so, when?
– The report has not yet been received, but ever since his return Colonel Ainsworth has been engaged upon it. It is, of course, the intention to make it available to honorable members as soon as it is prepared.
– I ask the Treasurer when we are to expect the bill to amend the Superannuation Act which has so long been promised?
– In the budget speech last week I dealt with the matter, and said that the bill would be introduced as soon as the actuarial investigations are completed.
– When will that be?
Medicalreport - Western Australian Accommodation
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will make available to honorable members a return supplied some months ago by Sir John Macpherson, and Dr. Ramsay Mailer, in connexion with cases of soldiers mentally affected?
– The report has already been given to honorable members, but I shall make it available to the honorable member in the Library.
– Is the. Treasurer prepared to make a further statement respecting the provision of accommodation for mentally affected soldiers in Western Australia ?
– To my knowledge, no further communications have been received since I made my previous statement.
New Zealand Reciprocity
– In view of the importance of the development of the dried fruits industry to the fruit-growers of Australia, can the Minister for Trade and Customs intimate when honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss the preference proposals affecting the trade between Australia and New Zealand ?
– The question should have been addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). I do not think it is in accordance with the policy of a government to indicate the nature of such proposals until they have actually been completed.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether an opportunity will be afforded this House to discuss the classification recently issued by the Public Service Board, and whether, in view of the considerable dissatisfaction existing among certain officers affected by it, the Govern ment proposes to take steps to remedy their grievances?
– The classification is being carried out under the Public Service Act, and the ordinary procedure will be followed. The Government does not at present intend to take any special action in this matter.
The following papers were presented : -
Canned Fruit Bounty Act - Statement of persons, &c., to whom Bounty has been paid to 31st July, 1924.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 102.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land Acquired at -
Lindisfarne, Tasmania - For Postal purposes.
Rosewood, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 110, 111.
Papua Act - Ordinance of 1924 - No. 4 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 1) 1923-24; together with Supplementary Estimates 1923-24.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 103, 104, 105, 112.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at -
Kempsey, New South Wales.
Parramatta, New South Wales.
Remission of Duties
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1. (a) Would a public servant who is retired under section 85 of the Public Service Act within a month after reaching 60 years of age receive an actuarial equivalent in lieu of the full pension for which he is contributing.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1. (a) Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether he will request his officers to draw up examples as to how the new income tax proposals will affect people with net incomes of £500, £750, £1,000, £1,200, £1,500, and up to £5,000?
– The appended table furnishes the necessary information : -
Statement of the tax payable on specificincomes derived from -
– On the 25th July, 1924, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) asked the following questions : -
I promised the information would be obtained. The following are the replies: -
– On the 20th June the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) urged favorable consideration of the claim by the municipality of Thebarton for assistance in the maintenance of roads in that municipality. He represented that in consequence of the cartage of material required for war service homes in the town and the surrounding district the road’s had fallen into a state of disrepair, and the corporation requested some assistance to enable it to effect the necessary repairs. I promised him that the Government would consider his representations in conjunction with the general question of assistance to municipalities in similar circumstances. I now desire to inform the honorable member that with regard to the particular claim by the Thebarton Council the Government is unable to see any justification for a grant to assist in road repairs rendered necessary as a result of building homes for soldiers. The War Service Homes Commission have only 29 houses in Thebarton, and these were either acquired or erected prior to January, 1921. Since that date the state savings bank of South Australia has been providing homes for returned soldiers under its own act: The War Service Homes Commission has no power to make funds available for assistance in the maintenance of public roads. Further, it is not considered that the maintenance of roads is a matter for the Commonwealth, but is a responsibility of local authorities, especially as the occupants of the houses erected by the War Service Homes Commission pay municipal rates. Under the Main Roads Development Act the Commonwealth grant to the states is limited to the construction, &c, of developmental roads, and in no circumstance is it to be used for work for which moneys would ordinarily be made available by the states. In the circumstances, no action can be taken by the Commonwealth in the direction desired by the honorable member.
– On the 1st August the honorable member forReid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the following information : -
Report (No. 2) presented by Mri Cobber.
Message, recommending appropriation, reported.
Message, recommending appropriation, reported.
Resolution of Committee of Supply adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply, reported.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first and second time.
In committee :
.- In the schedule there is an amount of £20,000 for the “ construction of buildings and roads, engineering services, and water boring, in the Northern Territory.” The Register published yesterday a statement by Dr. Stefansson in regard to the inadequate provision for watering stock in the Territory. The statements which he has made are so serious that I feel it incumbent upon me to> bring them to the notice of the Ministry. Coming from such an’ authority as Dr. Stefansson, they challenge a reply.
– Do they not refer to the track from Oodnadatta to Charlotte Waters, which is in South Australia?
– I admit that the trouble is partly on the track from Oodnadatta to Charlotte Waters, in South Australia, but I think it will be found that trouble exists not only on the South Australian side of tho border but on the other side also. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), I feel sure, will tell the committee that the particular well referred to is not the only well at which trouble has been experienced in the watering of stock. Dr. Stefansson says -
The return from Alice Springs has been leisurely, with more opportunity to see things and to converse with old residents at the Government telegraphs, the Government wells, and the cattle stations. Much of what we have heard has been enlightening, but nothing has impressed us so much, or thrown so much light on the “conditions under which pioneers fight to establish .themselves in Central Australia, as certain, events we partly saw and partly had told to us between old Crown Point and Blood’s Creek Well.
Several weeks ago two mobs of cattle started from the Northern Territory for Oodnadatta, and the markets ‘beyond. One came from a station near Newcastle Waters, owned by the estate, of the late Hon. John Lewis, and the other, belonging to Messrs. William Hayes and Sous, came from Undoolya, on the southern edge of the MacDonell Ranges. Even in this dry year feed is plentiful enough, by diverging now and again from the frequented stock route. The problem, as usual, is water for the stock to drink. They should not- travel more than 12 miles a day, or they lose condition. But wells have not as yet been sunk at such regular intervals, except on parts of the long way these mobs had to travel. There wore. stretches where the drovers knew they would have to go two . or three days without, water, but by good generalship they were able to so rest and feed up their beasts at intervals that they were in fair condition when a day or two apart they passed the junction well, near the union of the Goyder River and the Finke.
The stretch ahead was difficult, for there had been mismanagement at the Charlotte Waters bore. The old one, G14 feet deep, with an abundant supply ‘ of good water to be pumped, failed nearly two years ago-
I think the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) will agree that that portion of the track,, at any rate, is in the Northern Territory. I particularly direct the attention of the Minister to the statement that the bore at Charlotte Waters failed nearly two years ago. The article continues - because saline water at about 90 feet below the surface level had eaten its way through the casing, and filled the well with salt water, and made it unfit for stock. Urgent calls for help were sent to the Government, but action was slow. It was more than a year before the boring of the new well, beside the old one, was commenced very energetically, and then, by an excellent firm of well -borers.
The Government should supply a reason’ for the delay of twelve months that occurred before the “boring of the new well was undertaken, when it must have been aware that the old bore was useless.
– What about the delay that occurred under previous Governments ?
– The honorable member was a supporter of the last Government, which was just as culpable as this Government.
– I attach as much blame to past Governments as to this. One would think that this is a new matter, Dr. Stefansson was not the first person to make the discovery.
– Being an old complaint, it is quite time that action was taken to remedy it. It is a reflection upon the Government to have its shortcomings exposed by a visitor from overseas. Dr. Stefansson is a mail whose word cannot be doubted. If the Government is not disposed to listen to advice tendered by those who are Australian-born, perhaps it will take notice of suggestions that are made by visitors. The article proceeds -
But when we passed there on August 1 they had got down only 470 feet of the 614 needed to strike the old water supply. It will probably be another three of four weeks before that depth is reached.
Knowing all about those conditions, the drovers -of the mobs travelling two days apart did easily enough the first 22 miles to the dry Charlotte well, but each mile of the remaining 30 to Blood’s Creek bore became increasingly difficult. There should have been at least three wells to break up that stretch, but the stockmen knew there were not, and nursed their animals ahead partly by driving in the cool of the night. Still it was a hard pull, as we could see when we motored along their trail a few days later, and found it marked by a constantly increasing number nf dead beasts.
If those beasts had been’ taken alive to Oodnadatta and placed on the train, the freight collected would have assisted in reducing the deficit on the line. The article goes on to say -
The Lewis mob (with .the news of ‘their coming ahead of them) found the 10,000 gallon Blood’s Creek tank filled for their arrival, emptied it,- -and ‘drank some, more, for after such a long -stage bullocks, will average more than 10 gallons in ‘their first drink. These stayed a day for their second drink, and were moved away only in /time to ‘make room for the approaching 890 of the -Hayes mou. It had been known for five years that ‘the pumping machinery df the ‘bore was giving but, or so the stockmen now ‘say in the. ‘gloom o’f what lias happened.
– As this ‘has happened in South Australia, the honorable member cannot ‘blame the Commonwealth Government for it.
– That well is in “South Australia, but the one ahead of it is not. In amy case, as this Government owns the line, it ought to do its part in providing bores in its own territory, thus making it possible for th’e beasts to travel over the remainder of the journey to the South Australian railhead, until it has done the proper thing by extending the railway to Alice Springs. The article continues -
Complaints more and more urgent are said to have gone in “ for years,” and finally a month ago arrived the new pumping machinery, but there was nobody to instal it. Just as the thirsty and weakened Hayes mob arrived the outworn machinery gave way, and the sweet water 70 or 80 feet below ground level became as much out of reach of the poor animals and the men who were trying to save them as if it had not been there. When we arrived the next day, August 2, we did not see Mr. Henry Roper, the caretaker of the well, for he was still at work on the machinery rather hopelessly, and ‘had -been at it day and night since the break. A telegram had been sent in to Mr. Thomas Harrison, at Oodnadatta, 110 miles away, who is charged with the installation of new pumping machinery, but it was not even known whether he was there - or if the message would reach him promptly.
It was Mrs. Roper who described to us how the poor bewildered cattle had stood around the well sniffing .the odour of fresh water while the humans were making up their minds that the machinery was hopelessly unworkable. Then came the consultation as .to what chance of travelling .to water should be tried. The duck ponds south-east, with natural surface water, were only 10 miles away, but inthis dry year they have contracted till thelittle remaining is too salty for animals. The Possum bore, 26 miles south-east, is private property, and the owner might need all itswater for his own stock. He might even now be short, and there was no telephone connexion to. find out. So it was decided to try for the only abundant and dependable supply - theponds ‘that result from the flow of the Mound. Springs, at Dalhousie, -32 miles southeast,, and the weary march began. The stockmen in our party have been discussing the chances with drovers w.e have met on the road to Oodnadatta and the consensus of opinion seems to be that the Hayes drovers will do well -if they -save half ‘of their 890 head.
Every one is hoping the fate of the Hayes castle may prove less tragic than now seems probable. To a stranger like myself, “this story epitomizes pioneering :conditions in Central Australia, but what impresses -one most is the comment of -the stockmen .that a 500 or 1;000mile drive is seldom, -made without -some -serious and expensive mishap depending ‘in one way .or another -on walter supply.
The ‘lesson ‘is that ‘wells ;shou’ld ‘be -twice as numerous, and the ^machinery kept in constant repair, with a telephone >at each, and with a ready ‘response from some not too remote- centre to each call ‘for assistance needed by the well caretakers. When travellers ‘like -our ownparty dash through -the i-country in ‘motor cars at from five to ten times the daily speed of camels, it would seem that a motor car patrol of the wells would be practical through the dry months. They could double our speed if 1 mile of sand in 50 were “corduroyed” or otherwise improved. During rainy weather and bad roads they would not be needed. If the losses of the Hayes mob prove only half of what is now expected, they could pay for a well patrol for a goodmany mouths, for even 200 bullocks runinto considerable money. I do not want to offer definite criticism of any one, since I do not know all the circumstances, but no traveller actually on the spot could help agreeingwith the stockmen that this story illustrates an important problem in the colonization and development of Central Australia.
I support Dr. Stefansson’s statement The position is so serious that I urge the Government to do something to meet it. Dr. Stefansson’s proposal that in dry seasons the wells should be patrolled is an excellent one. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth is losing £70,000 a year on theOodnadatta railway, which would carry the Northern Territory stock if they were able to reach the railhead, it appears to be the bounden duty of the Government to do one of two things. It. should either sink sufficient wells within its own borders to meet the needs of the stock and assist them over the very dry stages - and the South Australian Government should act similarly in regard to its territory - or it should immediately undertake the work of constructing the North-South railway to Alice Springs. That would make it easier to get stock to the railhead, and so to the markets, and would remove the necessity for travelling cattle over these excessively dry routes.
– The history of cattle droving in the Northern Territory is, and always has been, terribly tragic. Those who know the conditions under which the pioneers in the Northern Territory are called upon to market their stockmust wonder why the Government has allowed them to suffer such hardships for so many years. It cannot he truly said that the Government is unaware of the conditions which havebeen described by Dr. Stefansson, for I have brought them under the notice of the Minister in charge of Northern Territory affairs several times, and the ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) is also well acquainted with the serious need for water on the stock routes. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) inter jected, with justification, while the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) was speaking, that this is not a new topic. As a matter of fact, it is so urgent that members of the Government are being forced, not by legislators, but by the general public and visitors from overseas, such as Dr. Stefansson, to give consideration to it. I do not blame the present Government for the failure to meet the position, I lay the blame on all governments, but I . say, without hesitation, that the treatment that is being meted out to the Northern Territory stockowners amounts to a national disgrace. A sum of £20,000 has been placed on the Estimates this year for the constructionof buildingsand roads, engineering services and waterboring in the Territory. But what ‘effective work can be done with that amount in an area of over 500,000 square miles ? It is not even a bagatelle. If the Government desires to do anything effective it must fearlessly tackle theproblem from a national standpoint. Not the expenditure of £20,000 butof £20,000,000, or at least of £10,000,000, is necessary to remedy the position. Abillshould be introduced to give effect to acomprehensive scheme of development. Such a largesum is being spentannually in interest on loan money expended onthe Qodnadatta railway and Northern Territory works, that the adoption of a practical policy for the development of the Northern Territory would be an economy. No satisfactory return from past expenditure can be expected until settlement in the Northern Territory is encouraged. Twenty thousand pounds is a paltry amount for the construction of buildings and roads,engineering services and water footing. Boring for water is a costly undertaking. It costs £2,000 or £3,000 to equip a well on the Barklay Tableland. At present, cattle have to travel up to 50-mile stages between wells, and although they can do it, their value is materially depreciated thereby. Some little time ago I brought under the notice of the Minister in charge of the Northern Territory administration a suggestion that as cattle-owners had been compensated for losses through the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia they shouldbecompensated for stock lost on dry stock routes. I was told that there was no analogy between the two cases, but in my opinion there is. The stock routes belong to the Government, and stock-owners are compelled to use them. Not only does the Government neglect to provide an adequate water supply on the routes, but it does not take effective action to eradicate the poison weed that grows on them. Consequently, travelling cattle eat hungrily of the poison weed, and if afterwards they drink copiously an immediate and terrific mortality results. Struggling settlers have lost in one night as many as 300 from a herd of 400 head. As their losses have been due to the f failure of the Government to provide the facilities that it pretends to provide, they should be compensated by the Government. It has been known for three years that the water supply at Charlotte Waters was failing, and attempts have been made to prevent loss to the settlers. It is a serious matter when travelling cattle on the Barklay Tableland to find a broken down mill and empty earthern dams, where one expects to find water. It cannot be said that the Government was unaware of the danger, but it nevertheless neglected to apply remedies. A party with which I was travelling on the Barklay Tableland came to a number of bores with brokendown machinery. When one is driving cattle over long stages, and expects to find water at a certain place 20 miles ahead, it is a serious matter if that water cannot be raised to the surface because the pumping machinery has broken down. The task of developing the Northern Territory has been trifled with by the Government. It is impossible to do anything effective with £20,000. Every year reports are received of thousands of cattle lost, and there is no doubt that the value of the cattle lost, if it could be computed, would amount to a much larger sum than it is proposed to spend on the improvement of stock routes. The tenacity of the settlers in the centre of Australia is marvellous, and after they have struggled for years, it is deplorable that they should be treated in this way. Why should the watering places be 50 miles apart? It is true that cattle can be travelled 50 miles between watering places, but only with great deterioration. They are fat when they come off the runs, but are forward stores at the best when sold. If the watering places were 10, or even 15 miles apart, the cattle could be marketed as fat. Ten miles a day is a fair” distance to drive cattle. The Government should cease playing with the task of developing the Territory. The people of Australia are slowly coming to- realize that the centre of Australia is not the great arid desert about which we were taught at school, but that it is a fertile country, capable of maintaining millions of cattle and sheep. Notwithstanding its great potentialities, a sum of only £20,000 is placed on the Estimates to cover not merely ‘ the provision of water supplies, but also the construction of buildings and roads. How far, in view of the high cost of labour and transportation would £20,000 go in providing buildings ? The amount is absurd. The Government has noi reason to be proud of its buildings in the Territory, and I know that a certain Minister did not care to take a photograph of one of them. The police are herded together in indescribably ramshackle places, without, in some instances, a covering. If the Government did the right thing by these officers £20,000 would be spent on .providing buildings for them. If it wanted to do the right thing, why did it not enunciate a policy that would encourage the struggling settlers ? When a settler sees a sum ‘of £20,000 on the Estimates, he wants to know to what extent it will assist him, but when he examines it, he comes to the conclusion that it will not assist him. Continued neglect of the Territory will hasten the day when the people there will take the business of government into their own hands, and the sooner they do that the better it will be for the Territory.
.- Members -of this committee cannot truthfully accuse me of not having endeavoured to bring the facts relating to the Northern Territory under their notice. I am gratified ‘that Dr. Stefansson has made a trip through central Australia, and has published his views on it. ‘ Honorable members who have been through the Territory have gratuitously contributed articles and interviews on the subject to the press. But “ a prophet in not without honour, save in hia own country.” Dr. Stefansson comes from abroad, and is being paid for his articles, and, therefore, some notice is being taken of them. I endorse what has been said by the two previous speakers, and would draw the attention of the committee to the fact that last year we sanctioned an expenditure of £39,270 on the’ same items as are included in the £20,000 proposed for this year, but of that sum only £15,066 was spent, leaving about £24,000 unexpended. Although a further £5,000 is provided in the Works and Railways Department’s estimate for bores in the Northern Territory, the total amount this year is only the same as it was last year. The Government is not proposing to spend one penny more on new works in the Territory this year. I agree with the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) that the Government must grapple with this question in an entirely new way.
– What does the Government suggest can be done with the small sum of £20,000?
– If the experience of last year is repeated, very little will be done, and a large part of the money will be re-voted next year. The Minister should give the House an assurance that the money voted will be spent.
. - I am glad that trips to the Northern Territory by private individuals are already promising to have a good effect.
– It is a pity that we should have to wait for strangers to tell us what ought to be done.
– On many occasions during the last twelve years I have been pleading with this House and with various ministries to start in a business-like fashion with the development of the Northern Territory from the southern end. If half the money which has been completely wasted in the Northern Territory had been spent in its development from the southern end, we should have a very different tale to tell to-day.
– I have said the same thing from every platform in Australia.
– I have poured this tale into the ears of every Government.
– Did the honorable member divide the cabinet of which he was a member, on the subject.
– I was successful with Mr. Poynton for the first time in getting Mr. Hughes to pledge his Government to proceed with the work at once and start at the southern end of the Territory. As late as Friday night, when travelling over to Adelaide with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron), I was in conversation with a party of three of the keenest commercial men in the. Commonwealth who have been through the Ter ritory at their own expense, and know what the country is like. Honorable members would blush to hear them say what they saw and heard from one end of the Territory to the other. They contended that the key to the successful occupation of the Territory is at the southern end, and that the South Australian plan for its development should have been followed. At the time of the transference of the Territory to the Commonwealth, it was the intention of the South Australian Government, for reasons of economy and expedition to continue the existing line from south to north. The gentlemen to whom I refer have been over the track right up to Darwin, and they say that if water facilities had been provided, and the line constructed to Alice Springs, it would have been possible every season during the past twenty years to bring stock hundreds of miles to the rail-head as prime fats to be sent to any part of Australia. These men could estimate the wealth of the Territory at the southern end, and according to them it will prove to be a perfect El Dorado. A company proposes to run a regular motor service over the country if some slight expenditure is incurred to improve the track. What may be done is seen at West Depot Sand Hills, where, by the use of native labour, and an expenditure of from £55 to £60 in cutting down scrub here and there, removing big stones, and cutting through sand hills, about 50 miles of very decent track has been made. It is said that the officer-in-charge of the work had some trouble in securing the last £3 or £4 to conclude the payments for the work. The statement is made that with the expenditure of a few thousand pounds it is possible to make a good track to Alice Springs. The honorable member for the Northern Territory and other honorable members have often referred to the neglect of buildings in the Northern Territory. Since the Commonwealth took over the Territory, the buildings there have been allowed to go to rack and ruin. Now that the public eye has been directed to the importance of the development of the Northern Territory the statements of responsible persons should move this Parliament to action. I repeat the statement that, if when the Commonwealth took over the Territory it had provided railway facilities as far as Alice Springs, it would have been possible in any season during the last twenty years to send prime fat cattle from the Territory to any part of Australia.
– If the railway had been built to Alice Springs it would have saved millions of South Australian stock in times of drought.
– That is so, and what benefit that would have been to meat consumers in Australia during all these years when famine prices have ruled for meat! In view of the public attention that has been called to the matter, no government can live in the future if it continues indifferent to the interests of the Northern Territory.
.- I support the pathetic plea of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster). I hope it will reach the stony heart of the responsible Minister. The honorable member for Wakefield is not a cattle king, and in this matter he is pleading for the development of the Northern Territory in the interests of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) asks why we should blame the present Government. Who are we to blame in the matter ? All governments appear to follow the policy of their predecessors.
– I blame all governments.
– It is somewhat curious in this connexion that South Australia should have been represented by more Ministers holding the portfolios of Home and Territories and Works and Railways than any other state in the Commonwealth, and yet South Australia has received less consideration than any other state. I should like to know how cabinets function. In the formation of a ministry regard is generally had to the representation of each state in the Commonwealth, and I am curious to know whether Ministers fight for the interests of the state they represent. Some fight should have been put up in the Cabinet in the interest of South Australia in this matter. I do not think that present Ministers care so much about the development of the Northern Territory as they do about keeping the “ pact.” That appears to be the burning question with the Government at the present moment. It is not a question of the expenditure of £20,000 on works in the Northern Territory, but whether there shall be a nationalist or a composite government in power.
The CHAIRMAN (Hon. F. W. Bamf ord) . - Order !
– I am suggesting that the vote for roads, engineering services, and water boring in the Northern Territory does not disclose the real intention of the Government. I challenge the sincerity of the Government in putting this vote on the Estimates. As pointed out by the honorable member for Bass the vote for this purpose on the Estimates last year was £39,000, and of that amount only £15,066 was spent.
– We shall be spending more this year.
– We must put against that statement the reduced estimate submitted this year. South Australian representatives have been told that they need have no fear about the north-south railway, but a reduced vote does not say much for the sincerity of the Government in the matter. I am inclined to think that South Australian representatives are going to be sold another pup.
– We are dealing now with votes payable out of revenue.
– I base my opinion upon the reduced proposal submitted this year. Only £20,000 is provided, and if the expenditure is to be in the same ratio as that of last year only about £7,000 of this amount will be spent during the current financial year. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has reminded me that the last Government considered that the best means to develop the Northern Territory was to give it representation. It has been given representation, and as a result we have received practical firsthand knowledge of its requirements. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has displayed a strong desire to bring about progress in the Territory, yet only £20,000 is put down for works there. The honorable member says that it will be impossible to do much with such a vote. I was a member of a deputation in connexion with the Northern Territory, at which it wasstated that when, the South Australia u Government established the cyanide works at Arltunga it took two years to get a boiler up there. The honorable member for Wakefield confirms that statement, and I ask how much the Government expect to do with a vote of £20,000 for the whole year’s expenditure ?
– That amount would barely equip a good party to visit the Territory.
– The ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) made a trip to the Northern Territory, but we do not know what it cost. Although some persons have crossed the Northern Territory in a search for oils and minerals, yet others have done so simply to view the country. The Hon. W. G. Duncan, member of the South Australian Legislative Council, and a brother of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) has recently returned from the Northern Territory full of eulogy respecting the possibilities of that country, but he said it was heart-breaking that fat cattle from northern stations should arrive at southern markets to be sold there as stores.
– They cannot be sold.
– They must be sold, as they could not be taken back to the cattle stations. Owing to the lack of proper transport facilities, the pastoralists, as the soldiers colloquially say, “ came a thud.” If the Government fails in regard to its responsibilities to the Northern Territory, the House should carry an adverse vote against it. I am convinced that the pioneers of South Australia were rightly seised of the position when they attempted to bisect, the continent along a line from Adelaide to Port Darwin. They at least succeeded in establishing telegraphic communication through the Northern Territory, thus benefiting the whole of Australia. Sixty years have passed since then. The Commonwealth has not honoured its obligations, and by failing to construct the north-south line, has neglected the development of the Territory. It is a bad advertisement for Australia when
Dr. Stefansson, after casually inspecting the Northern Territory, exposes some of the awful conditions existing there. When asked by the shrewd, hard-headed Yanks how the affairs of Australia are conducted, he will certainly express his honest opinion of the men who are responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory. He will speak as an uninterested party, and not as a politician who, with his tongue in his cheek, endeavours to hold his position in Parliament. Dr. Stefansson, if he desires to live up to his reputation and to justify the expenditure on his trip, may have something sensational to tell the Americans. It is a most astounding statement that bores and pumping machinery which became useless twelve months ago have not yet been replaced. The Government should realize these conditions and expend money on necessary works in proportion to the size of the job. For one item of defence alone there is an estimated expenditure of £160,000. The Government has no hesitation about expending £2,100,000 for the construction of a cruiser that when completed three years later will be practically obsolete and ready for scrapping. Yet only £20,000 is provided for the development of a large tract of country in which we could build up our meat supplies, so that, as pointed out by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), we might in time destroy the meat combines that, through their enormous inflation of the cost of our every-day requirements, consistently bleed the working class of this country. The Government is not sincere, and should be ashamed of its attitude towards the development of the Northern Territory, and its promise to the South Australian Government to construct the north-south line. Only last week we were asked to pay to the beef barons a bounty of 10s. each for all live cattle exported. Yet we are prepared to vote only £20,000 to assist the pastoralists above Oodnadatta. The Government does things, in a higgledypiggledy manner. The great question that should occupy the attention of this Parliament is the construction of the north-south railway, to relieve the awful conditions of stock transport that have been described by Dr. Stefansson in the Northern Territory. The bores in that country should be reconditioned to relieve the disabilities suffered by the pastoralists. I believe further opportunities are to be given to people to view the Northern Territory in motor cars. I hope that no attempt will be made to build a track merely for motor cars. The only sane and logical policy to pursue for the development of the Northern Territory is to provide sufficient bores and to construct roads and railways. Once proper transport facilities are provided, the pastoralists will be able to obtain their supplies within reasonable time. It has been stated that it took two years to transport a boiler from Adelaide to Arltunga. As pointed out by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), the sooner we provide transport facilities to bring the Territory nearer to the southern portion of this continent, the sooner will the loss on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line be reduced. To-day the loss is £70,000 per annum, yet this Government is making no provision to reduce it.
– It should be a revenue earning line.
– I agree with the honorable member. There is very little in Australia that we cannot produce profitably, and, if we develop the Northern Territory efficiently and conscientiously, it will be no time before that railway will be a paying proposition. The honorable member for Wakefield will remember the time when the country adjacent to Keith and Tintinara, in South Australia, was known as the Ninety-mile Desert, but now it is considered to be one of the productive parts of that state. With proper development, the same thing may be said of the Northern Territory. The Government, if it treated this matter at all seriously, would provide on the Estimates more than £20,000 for the development of this country. We should know the decision of the Government respecting the North-South Railway before these Estimates are passed.
– Does the honorable member want a decision now on the North-South Railway ?
– Yes; because there is nothing on the Estimates to show whether the railway is to be constructed, and, if constructed, whether on a 4-ft. 8½-in. or 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, and what route it will follow, from Kingoonya to Marree, or elsewhere. The Government has reduced last year’s proposal by £19,000, yet it claims to have adopted a progressive policy in regard to the Northern Territory. I am inclined to think that, if the provision of £20,000 represents the Government’s policy of development in that country, the Territory is in an even worse position than the Composite Ministry now finds itself.
.- Having visited the Northern Territory, I have listened to the honorable member for Adelaide with a great deal of interest. The Commonwealth Government, when taking over that huge Territory at the request of the people of South Australia, did so with its eyes open, realizing that the transfer involved a loss of some £200,000 per annum. The matter was ventilated in this chamber, and the Government rightly decided to relieve South Australia of that heavy burden. In these days, when state governments are, more or less, cutting up large estates to bring about closer settlement, it is time that the Federal Parliament took steps to ensure an adequate supply of cattle to meet our immediate and future meat requirements. Supplies can come only from the remote parts where huge grazing lands are available. The whole trouble in the Northern Territory is that cattle are reared in a hot climate, and, as with plants reared in a hot-house, to transfer them in good condition to the southern parts of Australia is almost an utter impossibility.
– It is one of the worst forms of cruelty.
– I agree with the honorable member. In addition to constructing the North-South Railway, to bring stock nearer to the southern parts of Australia, we should establish abattoirs at the rail-head, to facilitate the carriage of meat to southern markets. The Government has sadly neglected the development of this vast Territory. Articles by an utter stranger, Dr. Stefansson, have to be written respecting the conditions of the Territory before a lively debate can be produced in this chamber about the need for realizing our responsibilities. This is a large tract of country, and the estimated expenditure of £20,000 will be almost of no use in its development. This can be brought about only by the provision of railway and water facilities. Given those two factors, settlement there will progress on natural lines. I urge the Government to adopt a reasonable attitude, and do something for the pioneers, who were encouraged to settle in that country by the promises of past governments.
– I am in a quandary. I desire an increase in the item under discussion, but I understand that the only course open to a private member is to propose a reduction of the item. If the reduction is carried, it will be an instruction from the committee to the Government to increase the amount. That procedure places an honorable member in a false position. Nobody appreciates more than I do the need for greater provision for roads and wells in the Northern Territory.
– Did I understand the honorable member to intimate that he intends to move an amendment?
– The honorable member will not be in order in doing so. These items were already agreed to before the Appropriation Bill was introduced. The time for moving an amendment was when the Estimates for works and buildings were before the committee.
– A good many of the criticisms which have been quoted from Dr. Stefansson’s report will be met to some extent by the proposed expenditure of £20,000, a. considerable portion of which will be devoted to new bores or the repairing of existing ones. Mr. Keith Ward, Government Geologist of South Australia, was specially engaged last year to inspect and report upon the water supplies on the southern stock route of the Northern Territory. His report reached the Minister for Home and Territories on the 3rd October. After carefully considering the recommendations contained therein, the
Minister’ approved of the following new works being put in hand forthwith : -
All of these places are between Alice Springs and Charlotte Waters, on the southern boundary of the Territory, and are spread over a total distance of about 180 miles.
– Will that money be spent this year ?
– Of course, it is the intention of the Government to spend the money this year. One reason why only £20,000 is included in this bill is that, although a larger amount was voted last year, only £15,000 was expended, and the Government has reason to believe that £20,000 will be sufficient for the works that can be attempted this year, plus the further works in connexion with bores, for which £5,000 appears elsewhere.
– Will the Minister explain how, with an unexpended vote last year, the bores were left in the condition in which they are reported to be?
-I am unable to explain that. Honorable members have had a good deal to say this afternoon about railway projects. Surely no honorable member expects to find in these revenue Estimates proposals for a big outlay on railway construction. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) said that the Commonwealth Government has no intention of building a railway into the Northern Territory ; but for what other purpose are the conferences being held between the South Australian Ministers and the Federal Minister for Works and Railways?
– But the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) is no longer Minister for Works and Railways.
– Though he has resigned, it does not follow that the policy he has initiated will be abandoned.
.- The Government seems tobeof opinion that because last year’s vote for the Northern Territory was not fully expended it is justified in placing a smaller amount on the Estimates this year, but the amount of £20,000 in this schedule is totally inadequate.
– I protest against the lame excuses made by the Minister(Mr. Atkinson). Last year Parliament voted £35,000 for works in the Territory, and spent only £15,000, but, although the wells are in the disgraceful state described by Dr. Stefansson, the Government has the cheek to propose a smaller vote this year. That shows indifference and incompetence, and the sooner the Government is shifted from office the better forthe Territory.
.- As the worst part of the stock route is in South Australian territory, served by the Oodnadatta railway, which is operated by the Federal Government, will the Government be prepared to share equally with the South Australian Government the cost ofproviding adequate water supplies on that section of the route’? I think this Parliament would approve of such , an arrangement.
Bill agreed to, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
InCommittee of Supply(Consideration resumed from31st July, vide page 2738) on motionby Dr.Earle Page-
That the first item intheEstimates under Division (1) - theParliament-namely,” The President, £1,100,” be agreed to.
.- Last week the Treasurer occupied a considerable time in reading his budget statement, and I suggest, without intending to reflect upon the honorable gentleman, that it would be advisable to amend our Standing Orders so that, in future. Treasurers may be permitted to formally present to the committee important statements, without being put to the trouble of reading them.
– Hear, hear !
– Such an innovation would be of great advantage to the Treasurer, and to honorable members. For two years the Leader of the Country party hasbeen in charge of the finances of the Commonwealth, and this is his secondbudget. So far as one can see, the finances of the country have been absolutely under the control of the Country party. We may, therefore, confidently expect to find in these statements evidences of the sagacity, the intelligence, the purity, and the perfection that are claimed to belongexclusively to that party.
I have scrutinized the speech, not from the stand-pointof a member of the Opposition, but from that of the ordinary “ John Citizen “ who is anxious to see what it contains,and to ascertain what its statements mean to the country. The first thing I notice is that a surplus is shown. Thesesurplusesare perennial. The art of manufacturing a surplus is a simple one. All that is needed is pliant treasury officials, the lack of an independent audit, a few assets that one can sell, and loan funds whichcan be loaded with expenditure which should come out of revenue. During the last three years the Commonwealth’s receipts have totalled approximately £192,000,000. Of that sum roughly £150,000,000 has been derived from taxation, £30,000,000 from the post office, £6,000,000 from the nation’s assets, such asthe Commonwealth Bank and the note issue, and £6,000,000 from other sources. The average annualrevenue has thus been £64,000,000. The expenditure, on the other hand, has averaged approximately £63,000,000, the surplus being roughly £1,000,000 per annum. The State of Victoria prior to federation had some excellent Treasurers. There was one who diverted sinking fund and trust fund moneys to revenue account, and turned a deficit into a surplus. Another very clever Treasurer imagined that he had sold a lunatic asylum for £2,000,000. He took thesum of £2,000,000 from the loan fund and placed it torevenue account, intending to reimburse the loan fundout of the sale - which nevertook place. By that means he transformed a deficit of £1,000,000 into a surplus of £1,000,000, and received the plaudits of the country and the press for having successfully steered his course through the financial shoals of the period. The gentlemen who have occupied the office of Treasurer during the last three years have adopted various methods of financing the affairs of the country. The press has complimented the present Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) very highly upon his presentation of this budget. In one or two instances/ of course, the criticism has had a sting in its tail. One newspaper characterized the budget as “ an ordinary kind of a budget.” Another said that it contains a proposal relating to the establishment of a navy in the next few years, and of an aerial fleet in the sweet byandbye. A third, very unkindly suggested that the honorable gentleman now employs all those devices which formerly he condemned. I remind the Treasurer of these things merely as one friend speaking to another. I notice that the revenue during the last twelve months has amounted to roughly £64,000,000- £50,000,000 from direct and indirect, taxation, £10,000,000 from the Dost office, and £4,000,000 from the note issue, the Commonwealth Bank, and other sources. The Customs Department has been responsible for the bulk of the revenue from taxation. In the years just preceding the outbreak of the war, Australia exported overseas something like 6,000,000 tons per annum, the export value of which was about £13 per ton. The importations amounted to 4,500,000 tons, the value of which was about £18 per ton. Now, Australia exports something like 5,250,000’ tons per annum. That does not mean that this country is now worse off than it was before the war. In the period that has intervened, the population of Australia has increased by roughly 1,000,000 persons, its production ia practically every industry except that of mining, is now considerably greater, its consuming power, because of enhanced prosperity is bigger, and our primary producers are depending less and less
Upon overseas markets. Prior to the war Australia imported annually 4,400,000 tons of commodities; it now imports 3,100,000 tons - roughly 25 per cent, less than was the case ten years ago. It will be seen that 100 tons of Australia!? products, which formerly purchased 72 tons of imports, now purchase only 54 tons. Therefore, the purchasing power of Australian products has enormously decreased. I do not propose to explain the reason;. I merely state. the fact. Let us now consider the matter from the aspect of value. The value of the commodities exported from Australia prior to the war was, roughly, £13 per ton. The average value of exports during the last three years has been about £24 per ton - an increase of 85 per cent. Prior to the war the goods imported into Australia had a value of, roughly, £18 per ton ; to-day their value is about £43 per ton. That increase of 140 per cent, in value is responsible for the large amount that has been received by the- Customs Department. It- must be remembered, also, that many of the imports are landed in Australia at- dumping, rates, and sold at. prices that are below their production value ia other countries, When, it is considered that the average value- of the imports has increased by 140 per cent., it can be reliably estimated that many of those products are entering. Australia at a price 200 per cent, greater than that which ruled prior to the war. That is to say, they come into Australia loaded with the enormous burden of taxation rendered necessary by the war. I again point out that although Australia is importing 1,300,000 tons less per annum now than prior to the war, she has to pay for her imports £54,000,000 more than was charged in pre-war years. Before the war, 140 tons of exports would purchase 100 tons of imports. Now 180 tons of exports are required to purchase 100 tons of imports. The Customs Department has been able to add to its revenue, not by reason of an increase in the quantity of goods imported, but by reason of the enormously increased price of those goods. In the years 1921. 1922, and 1923 Australia exported 15,805,000 tons, and imported 9,340,000 tons. The value of the exports was £378,000,000, and that of the imports £399,000,000. For those three years, therefore, the average value of our imports exceeded by £7,000,000 the average value of our exports. During the year 1923-24, the value of our imports was £21,000,000 greater than the value of our exports. Because of that fact the Customs revenue was swollen by many millions of pounds. As, during four years, the value of our imports has exceeded the value of our exports by £42,000,000, and the interest payable overseas has amounted to about £10,000,000 per annum, there must be a balance against Australia of, approximately, £80,000,000. Notwithstanding those remarkable facts we are supposed, for some reason that has not been explained, to possess a surplus of funds overseas. As an ordinary thinking citizen, nob as a partisan, I ask myself, if those are the facts, how can they be explained? The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) has delivered lucid and interesting speeches to honorable members in an endeavour to explain that the present position has arisen because of the fact that there has been an immense amount of borrowing by the states. I do not know to what extent that affects the situation. It certainly has no application to the Commonwealth, though to a certain extent it may apply to the states. During the last three years the Commonwealth has increased its indebtedness from £402,000,000 to £416,000,000. It may fairly be said that the increase in the indebtedness of the states has amounted to £25,000,000 per annum. That fact, however, does not explain the position in which Australia is placed. One can- only come to the conclusion that, in addition to the loans floated by the Commonwealth and the states overseas, there has been a large increase in the amount of foreign capital sent to Australia for investment. In my judgment, and I give it for what it is worth, there would be greater justification for, and probably greater value to the country from, the appointment of a commission of experts to inquire into the problems of international economics and the financial relationship of this country to other countries of the world than there has been for all the boards and commissions that this Government has appointed. In 1921-22, when the present Prime Minister was Treasurer, the receipts from Customs amounted to £28,000,000; and * from income tax to £17,000,000. The receipts last year from Customs amounted to £36,000,000, and from income tax to £11,000,000. I submit this proposition for the consideration of honorable members of the committee: That it is far better for the country that the Government should derive three-quarters of its income from the production within its own territory, and one-quarter, or the smallest amount possible, from Customs, than that it should derive threequarters of its revenue from Customs and one-quarter from local production. The Government is existing precariously upon revenue derived from Customs. It is living in a house of cards that may collapse at any moment. If it were not for its enormous Customs revenue, the Government could’ not carry on. We are told that it has had an average income of £64,000,000 for the last three years, but wo have not been told how much of that has been obtained from the profits of the Commonwealth Bank, the note issue, and the enormous sums realized from the sale of national assets. I submit that in the circumstances it would be just as easy to arrange the figures so as to show a deficit as it has been to! arrange them to show a surplus. With that observation I leave the revenue aspect of the subject.
Let us turn now to the expenditure side of the national balance-sheet which has been presented to us. In considering it we should remember that the time is not long distant when the present Treasurer was sitting in opposition, not only to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), but also to the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), and he was just as critical of his present colleague as he had been . of Mr. Hughes. In October, 1922, he said, respecting the present Prime Minister’s budget -
There appears to be some manipulation of loan and revenue expenditure in order to make the budget look as favorable as possible.
It must be very pleasing for both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to reflect on those remarks. On the same occasion, he made the following statement : -
A close examination of the present budget indicates that although many of the old defects are better covered up, it is tragically full of objectionable features, and it is designed with an eye not to the next generation, but merely to the next general election. The Treasurer, instead of trying to stem the stream of extravagance, has been content to go with it.
That means, that in the opinion of the Treasurer, his colleague was a greater financial expert than his predecessor, for he could better cover up the objectionable features of the financial situation. If it were true that the present Prime Minister designedly prepared his budget having in mind the next general election, and not the next generation, we may say, without any hesitation of the present Treasurer, that in preparing this budget, he had in mind the next generation and not the next general election. May I remind Lim that some hundreds of years ago, when the rise of the commoners was beginning, King Richard, a certain Lord Salisbury, and a gentleman named Watt Tyler, figured prominently in public life. When Richard desired to deal severely with Tyler and his followers generally, Salisbury said, “ Speak gently to them, my master, speak gently to them.” In effect, Salisbury said to the King, “ Do not be violent with the man who is outside your door. Do not throw a brick at him, or give him into the charge of the police, but ask him inside and put something in his pocket. That is the easiest way to deal with him.” The present Prime Minister has adopted Salisbury’s advice. What did he do when the present Treasurer, sitting in the Corner, remarked that he was a better financier than his predecessor, in that he had more cleverly covered up his tracks? Did he deal violently with the Treasurer, or point the finger of scorn at him, or hold him up to public derision? Oh, no! When the opportunity came, he said, “ Come in here, my friend, and I will do something good for you. I offer you a position of honour ; and large emoluments will be put in your way.” The damaging critic came into the Cabinet, and now says that he looks at things in quite a different way. In fact, he goes further than that when dealing with the remissions of taxation, and says -
It will be noticed that the first sign of reduction appears during last year, for the first portion of which the present Prime Minister was in control of the Treasury.
He has evidently overlooked all the delinquencies with which he formerly charged his present colleague, and he has quite forgotten the tragic occurrences for which he held that gentleman responsible. He now says, “ I think my present colleague’s budget the most virtuous I have ever seen except my own.”
The revenue of the country has averaged £64,000,000 per annum for the last three years, and in the same period the expenditure ha3 been, roughly, £63,000,000 per annum, so that the surplus has been about £:l ,000,000 per annum. The revenue has been created by expenditure of borrowed moneys, by the sale of national assets, and by amounts taken from trust funds. Although we have been told how the revenue has increased, not a word has been said of how the national assets have been diminished, and of how the national indebtedness has been piled up. I tell honorable members, and through them the country, that in the last three years the national indebtedness has increased from £402,000,000 to £416,000,000, to say nothing of the fact that the Government has disposed of millions of pounds’ worth of public assets; that it has taken £7,000,000 from the profits of the Commonwealth note issue, and several million pounds from the profits of the Commonwealth Bank. When honorable members consider these facts, they will realize how clever and astute has been the honorable gentleman who claimed, when he was leading the party in the Corner, that he was a great economist. They will also realize that he has pursued the same devious methods of finance as he condemned his predecessors for adopting.
I do not propose to analyze the total expenditure of £63,000,000, for some of it, being due to war indebtedness, would be obligatory upon any Government, whether National, Country, or Labour; nor do I propose to take into consideration the heavy interest burdens which must be borne by every ‘ Government in consequence of the war. Our war obligations must be met, and they can only diminish as the number of war pensions, and the repatriation and other expenditure in connexion with the war is reduced. I wish to make it quite clear that I realize that the expenditure consequent upon our activities in the great war will fall upon every Government, whatever its political support. Therefore, in my criticism of the expenditure of this Government, I make a clear distinction between war, expenditure and ohe ordinary expenditure necessary to carry . on the administration of the country. The Treasurer, when in opposition, said that there had been “some manipulation of loan and revenue expenditure.” The present Prime Minister, when Treasurer, spent £10,000,000 in certain directions out of revenue and very little out of loan, and had no surplus, and his present colleague denounced him. But he himself has spent £10,000,000 in similar ways, obtaining £8,000,000 from loan and £2,000,000 from revenue, and has claimed a surplus of £8,000,000, although he omits to mention that he has seriously increased the indebtedness of the country. In condemning his present colleague in 1922 for having permitted the ordinary expenditure to increase so greatly, he said -
The Treasurer instead of trying to stem the stream of extravagance has been content to go with it.
He also accused him of having no financial skill, knowledge, or ability to meet the needs of the situation. The ordinary expenditure in the year of which the honorable member complained was £32,859,000. The then Treasurer apparently did not object to the denunciation, for as soon as he could, he said to his critic - “ I will put you into the position of Treasurer and the emoluments will shut your mouth.” That was done, and we are now faced with the remarkable fact that in the first year in which Dr. Earle Page was Treasurer, the expenditure increased by £1,000,000.
– On account of increased payments to old-age and invalid pensioners.
– I am quite sure that the honorable gentleman will have an explanation to offer, notwithstanding that he subjected all the explanations of his predecessors to withering criticism. In his second year of office the ordinary expenditure increased by £1,500,000. That is the result of making this great economist of the Country party the Treasurer of the Commonwealth. Instead of reducing the expenditure in the various public departments, as he said he would do, he has used his wonderful wisdom to increase it by £2,500,000. I do not for a moment imagine that he will fail to give us some explanation. He cannot be so poverty-striken intellectually as to be unable to give some excuses. No case is so bad that it will not merit some attempt at justification. Even the man who picks pockets in the public streets can explain the economic reasons which impel him to do so. The Treasurer, who, when leading the Corner party in opposition to the last Nationalist Government, so trenchantly denounced the Treasurer of the day, can now sit in his place and smile complacently while I criticize his conduct of the Treasury. He would not listen to any remarks which previous Treasurers made in justification of their administration. He appears to have reasoned thus with himself - “Although the expenditure in our public departments has increased so greatly, I must build up a surplus, I must show how economical I am. Therefore, I shall not spend anything out of revenue on new works and buildings, but I shall provide for all such expenditure out of loans. That will show that I am a better man in this position than the man whose place I took.” We have heard something to-day about money being placed on the Estimates and not being expended, yet in spite of that the Government’s expenditure in the ordinary administration of the various departments increased last year by £1,500,000, and more money “was spent out of loans for the ordinary purposes of government than for many years past. The Treasurer has departed from the methods of his predecessors by spending millions out of loan moneys on services for which they provided out of revenue. In the year 1921-22, £3,250,000 was spent out of revenue. The Prime Minister was Treasurer during only part of 1922-23, and he spent on fruit pools, main roads, wire netting, and miscellaneous items,- an amount of £2,500,000. The Treasurer has altered all that. The expenditure in the ordinary departments was £29,500,000 in 1921-22, £29,500,000 in 1922-23 and £32,000,000 in 1923-24, and the proposed expenditure this year is £33,500,000. From whatever point of view one looks at the subject, there are enormous increases in the ordinary expenditure of departments. Our indebtedness has increased from £401,000,000 to £416,000,000 in three years, and a further increase of £5,000,000 is proposed this year. The Treasurer says, “Do not look at the increased expenditure from loan moneys, do not look at the increased indebtedness, but look at the surplus I am creating by meeting ordinary expenditure out of loan money !” When sitting in the Corner as a private member, the Treasurer asked why revenue was taken from the Postmaster-General’s Department and allotted to other Government activities. Yes, why? He has been Treasurer for two years, but it is still being done. A sum of £1,500,000 was taken out of the profits of the post office last year, and it is estimated that £1,750,000 will be derived from the same source this year.
– Not if all the expenditure is taken into account.
– Last year the ordinary expenditure of the post office was £8,168,000, and the revenue £9,757,000, leaving a surplus of £1,500,000. What does the Treasurer propose to do with that ? He proposes to put it into the Consolidated Revenue - a practice that he has strongly denounced in the past. The revenue of the post- office this year is estimated at £10,000,000, and the expenditure at £8,200,000, representing a surplus of £1,800,000. I am endeavouring to acquire a knowledge of the Treasurer’s methods in order to fit myself for his position. He once said -
I desire to enter an emphatic objection to taking from the Postal Department the profits it makes, and crediting them to general revenue. The Postal Department should, at least, lie made self-contained, and whatever profits it earns should be utilized for its extension and development. That department has been the Cinderella and milch cow of the Treasurer since the inception of federation.
It is so still. He denounced the Prime Minister for taking every penny earned by the post office and crediting it to the general revenue, and for enlarging the facilities of the post office with loan moneys. He is -appropriating much more revenue from the post office than ever his predecessors did. When he denounced Mr. Bruce, that right honorable gentleman was building new works and making additions and extensions to telephone and telegraph lines out of revenue. He spent £2,500,000 out of revenue and £847,000 out of loan money. Last year the Treasurer spent £250,000 out of revenue and about £4,000,000 out of loan moneys. He will not spend in extending postal facilities one penny of the £1,300,000 that he expects to obtain this year in profits from the post office j he will place it all in the general revenue, and will use it to defray the expenses of other departments. He proposes to borrow £4,500,000, out of which he will extend postal facilities such as his predecessors provided for out of revenue. One Treasurer spends £2,500,000 out of revenue to develop the post office, and has little or no surplus, but another . one says, “ I shall not spend a single penny out of revenue on the development of the post office. I shall do all that out of loan moneys.” Thus, an apparent surplus is created - ‘ ‘ apparent “ because it deludes the public by obscuring the fact that the nation’s liabilities have increased by millions. There is hardly a department in which the same policy has not been applied. The surplus of the last three years has been fictitious and fraudulent. The annual surplus has not been real, for it has been brought about by the sale of national assets, and by paying out of loans liabilities that should be paid out of revenue. The Treasurer once denounced the Government for paying for immigration out of loan moneys. How wrong! How iniquitous! He said, “ The importation of citizens into this country should be paid for out of ordinary revenue, and not out of loans.” He denounced 1&e Prime Minister for spending £160,000 out of loan moneys for the purpose of inducing immigrants to come to this country. Soon after he himself became Treasurer, and increased this loan expenditure from £160,000 to £200,000. This year it will be still further increased to £250,000. It is proposed to spend £43,000 on’ coal. Why a consumable article like coal should be paid for out of loans needs to be explained. The Treasurer alone can explain it. Military expenditure is being financed in the same way. The Government has a defence policy, and any one who does not say “ hear, hear !” to its proposals is supposed to be anti-Australian. During the past five years it has spent £17,500,000 on defence. I ask seriously, how has that money been spent? What results have been achieved ? The people of the country might reasonably expect that there would be something to show for such a large expenditure. I intend to read a few expert opinions on that matter. Sir John Monash is reported to have said -
There were no tanks. They had no Mill bombs. There was not enough munitions in the country to last 24 hours. Conditions in regard to the defence of Australia were most unsatisfactory, and things were going to pieces.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) has been to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and other large centres of population in this country, and has made speeches on the subject of defence. He told the people that-
The position regarding munitions was serious. The position of our fixed defences and our military units is serious, so far as munitions is concerned. The coast defences of Australia are in a deplorable condition. The loss of efficiency in the Australian Navy is staggering. It was no good saying we had seven or eight submarines, for those in charge of naval defence knew these were obsolete, and could not be used.
Senator Drake-Brockman, who was a general during the war, has said -
Australia could not equip one division, let alone five. If we were suddenly called upon to defend ourselves, we would not have enough munitions, war equipment, and the tilings necessary to maintain an army for 24 hours.
General Sir Harry Chauvel has said something to this effect -
Not sufficient money to enable our formations to be given their war outfit. In some states, no mobilization stores. No mechanical transport lorries. Many of the horses have grown so old as to be unserviceable. No permanent ordnance stores. Insufficient civil ordnance staff. Ordnance workshops nonexistent, and machinery lying idle, and valuable material deteriorating.
Those statements show what we have got for the expenditure of £17,500,000. It is a very poor result for the expenditure of such an enormous sum of public money. On the Estimates there is an increase of £6,000 in the cost of the central administration of the Defence Department. That would not be much if we had effective and economic administration, but it is an enormous increase for such a result as I have indicated, and it is a scandalous increase for a department that has demonstrated its incapacity. During the last two years we have had the Naval Board strutting around with the functionaries and batmen associated with it, and. the increase in the vote for administration alone amounts to £10,000. In spite of this I read a note at the bottom of the page to say that seagoing pay has been reduced by £30,000. If the expenditure upon those who would be called upon in our hour of need to defend the country was so diminished there can be no good reason why, with a smaller and inefficient force the cost of administration should have gone up £10,000. Upon what grounds can any man justify an increase of £10,000 in administrative expenses with a reduction of £30,000 in sea-going pay ?
During the last two years we have been confrontedwith a scandalous waste of public money by the gentleman who proposed to bring to the administration of this country sagacity and wisdom. He proposed to give us not only purity of administration, but greater wisdom and greater economy. He has not given us greater economy. In the ordinary civil administration of the country he has incurred greater expenditure than Australia has ever previously seen. We never saw such extravagance even from the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) in his most extravagant moods or from the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when he was in office as Treasurer. When the present Treasurer was sitting in the corner as a private member he condemned Mr. Hughes for his extravagance, but there never was such extravagance in connexion with civil administration in this country as there is now. It is easy to criticize when one is without responsibility, but when responsibility is assumed things appear in quite another light. I do not condemn the expenditure. I do not say that if I were in power I could carry on the government more cheaply, but I do say that I am justified in pointing to the hypocrisy and sham of a man, who, while in opposition to the Government, condemned it for extravagance, has since he became a member of it, been responsible for greater expenditure than that which he condemned. Every one can recognize the problems that confront Australia. We know that reductions have been possible in the ordinary expenditure of the departments through, men who were at the war dying and ceasing to draw pensions, and because fewer men are demanding money in connexion with repatriation.
When I point out to the committee and the country that, while there has been an enormous expenditure of public money, no efficient defence has been provided, I may be asked what I have to put forward as a counter proposition. I readily recognize that it is one thing to condemn a man to whose ideas you are opposed and another to propound ideas of your own. It is easy to condemn, but it is not so easy to put forward a counter proposition. No man can claim to be a states- man capable of rendering valuable service to the country if, while condemning his political opponents for ideas with which he disagrees, he is not able to put before the country some ideas of his own. In connexion with defence, I did express some ideas only the other day. They were not then expressed for the first time. On several occasions previously similar ideas had been expressed by the Leader of this party (Mr. Charlton), and our conceptions of national defence have been expressed by other members of this party on various occasions. There was not one word to which I gave expression, and not one idea which I ventilated in this chamber on behalf of those who stand behind this party in the country, for which I cannot find ample justification, not from ourselves or our supporters, but in the press of thi3 country, and in the opinions of men who are experts in naval and military affairs.
We have said that we take our stand upon economic preparedness as the foundation of national defence. I need not labour the question now, but I point out at this stage that we have some justification for our ideas. One newspaper said this week -
With’ all that Labour has to say about the necessity of making Australia economically and industrially strong as a means of guaranteeing its capacity for self-protection those who have knowledge will cordially agree.
So much for our ideas. We point out that the country needs to be economically prepared for defence, and that expenditure upon equipment, admirals and generals strutting around, unless it has a sound economic foundation, is an absolute waste of public money. The same newspaper said some time ago -
An efficient modern army can be created in a few months’ time. A nation’s military Strength is more tuan anything else a question of the fitness, the spirit, and the efficiency of its industrial organizations.
We can leave it at that. We direct attention to the fact that the anti-Labour parties have no policy of economic preparedness. They have closed up or sold the national adjuncts to defence. They have sent overseas millions of money that might have been used in the internal development of our industries and the employment of our own people. The Labour party stands for economic preparedness as essential and fundamental.
The present Government, whilst pretending to make some little effort, is doing nothing for defence. I can tell honorable members a story in support of what I am saying. The Government built a section of a large factory. It brought out a man from England and asked him to go round the factory and look at it and the machinery, which was supposed to be part of the defence of this country. He said at once, “ I will not take charge of this factory unless it is changed. I condemn it. I refuse to take charge of this machinery. I condemn it. It is dangerous and obsolete.” This machinery had been imported at a high price, from England and installed in the factory. When it was condemned, the Government said to this expert, “Well, go ahead; get new machinery.” An Englishman was brought here at the expense of the country, to administer this particular department, because he was .a specialist and expert. He condemned the plant and surroundings, because the buildings were not dustproof. He asked that new machinery should be installed. The factory was not started, and nothing was done last year because of this condemnation. But new machinery has been put into the factory, and every bit of it was constructed in the district represented by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Ecn ton), whilst the British machinery was condemned and thrown out on the scrap heap. Because this man condemns British machinery, he is no longer wanted in a department of this kind. He will never get promotion. The factory is there now to manufacture munitions for the defence of Australia. The machinery is there ready to work. Is it going to be worked? No, it is not going to function. Two other men were brought out to assist the expert introduced from England, and this highly-paid official and his two assistants are walking about doing nothing. Nothing is being produced at the factory, whilst if it were commercially used it would make n profit sufficient to pay the whole of the expenses of carrying it on. The Government will not permit it to be economically used. It will not permit it to do anything useful for Australia. That is the Government’s policy of preparedness for the defence of the country.
A policy of defence involves expenditure. It is not sufficient to say that we will defend our country; we must consider what is the limit of the expenditure which we can devote to that purpose. Is it to be £8,000,000, £10,000,000, or £20,000,000? If it is to be the limit of our capacity to spend, we have to ask ourselves what money we shall make available for the purpose of defence. Honorable members on the other side, who declare themselves in favour of the adequate defence of the country, will not say how much should be expended for the purpose. None of the newspapers will say what they mean by the “ adequate defence of the country.” Are they prepared to say what would be legitimate expenditure for the adequate defence of the country within the limits of our financial capacity?We must build up the resources of the country for the purpose. We have said that we must, first of all, anticipate the enemy, and we must anticipate the time of his coming. One newspaper said -
Before the war, those who wanted to see a declining British naval strength were in the habit of asking, “ Against whom are you arming?”
This very newspaper has criticized me. I do not object to criticism. Every public man must expect it. I look in every newspaper and listen to the speeches of political opponents, not in order that I may answer their objections, but to see whether there is anything in their statements which should induce me to alter my viewpoint. So far as time will permit, I read all the newspapers and the criticisms of my opponents to find out where I have been wrong. When this newspaper published the statement I have just quoted, my memory carried me back to the 24th January, 1912, two and a half years before the war broke out. If it were true that there were people in Great Britain who did not know where the enemy was coming from, there were plenty of people in this country who did know. In this newspaper there was published on the 24th January, 1912, two and a half years before the outbreak of the war, the following statement: -
It is becoming staringly apparent to thoughtful Britons everywhere that a crisis is approaching which must resolve the rivalry between Germany and Britain. A war of blood seems imminent.
Every one knew that we were preparing for war against Germany. There was not a newspaper in this country that did not know it. The delegates wesent overseas in 1911 came back knowing full well the country against which we were to. make preparedness. Four years before the war, Lord Rosebery told our oversea delegates-
There is a silence in Europe in which you can almost hear a leaf fall to the ground; but in the midst of this intense silence never was theresuch intense preparedness for war.
In his marvellous oration to the oversea delegates, he said -
No one can tell whether the approaching Armageddon between the nations of Europe will drive us back to barbarism or to a position where the workmen will say that wo shall have no more war, and no more of its bloody horrors..
That was said some years before the war. The newspaper that asks who knew before the war who our enemy would be supplies the answer in its own columns. Today we have justification for asking the question, “Who is to be our enemy?” We have said that there is no sign of war from America; the crippled state of Europe precludes the idea of war there; and we on this side have said that there is no sign of war from Japan at the present time. There is a gentleman sitting in a gallery of this chamber who wrote an article against me, in which he pointed out that it was most absurd of me to say that there was no danger from Japan. Yet only a few months prior to writing the article, the newspaper for which he wrote sent him to Japan. He returned to Australia, and in articles about Japan set out the opinions that I have expressed in this chamber, and which he now condemns. What is the prostitution of women in our streets compared with the prostitution of intellect in the press of this country ? I asked the question, where was the enemy ? The Prime Minister, and also the delegate whom we sent to the Washington Conference, at a cost of thousands of pounds, has said that we should devote our efforts to bringing about peace. Only a few weeks ago - not years ago - the Prime Minister said that the remoteness of their bases from each other made it impossible for the countries that were parties to the Washington Con ference to assail each other. The Age of the 6th December, 1921, said -
The Washington Conference continues to confound all cynics and pessimists. The air has been cleared, suspicion has been dispelled, ground has been given for reasonable faith in the honest desire of the nations (Britain, America, and Japan) to live together in peace and amity.
On the 21st December, 1921, the Age further said -
The people of all nations will be relieved of the burden of maintaining vast machinery of warfare, and no nation will become the driven victim of its own war machine.
It said that on the very day that we were discussing in this chamber the resolutions of theWashington Conference and the report of our delegate. Yet the other day, when I accepted these statements, the press stated that my remarks concerning the conference were only the fulsome declarations of one who wished to delude the public. What can be said of a press that expresses certain sentiments and then condemns public men for saying what the newspapers themselves have published ? In this chamber men carry considerable responsibility. We may or may not be honest. Being public men we are, to a certain extent, driven backwards and forwards by public expressions of passion and sentiment. Sometimes we swim with the stream, and sometimes cling for dear life to a reed, hoping that the swirl of public opinion may not sink us, and that we may once more climb to high public positions. But the press of this country is not in that position. It can change public opinion, be independent, and a guide to those seeking enlightenment. It can lay down definite principles. But how can any man. in this country, anxious to come to sound conclusions upon public questions, rely upon the press under its present control ? It is an outstanding menace, a curse to Australia. A powerful and gifted public press should persistently advocate well-defined principles, without cant or hypocrisy. Yet this, great gifted press with capable men in control has no clearly-defined policy for the people’s guidance. It should be for it to advise this country in a time of crisis and distress.
In addition to saying that we have not yet visualized the enemy, I said that we must anticipate the period of his attack. It is. one thing to say that there may be a possibility of danger of invasion from
Japan, and it is quite another thing to say when the Japanese are coming. There is in this chamber no man who believes that there is any immediate danger within the Pacific. The Prime Minister, speaking the other day, said that “ We shall formulate a policy of defence, and it will defeat the party spirit.” He makes a mistake. It will not. I contend that there are greater issues in this country than that of defence. The Labour party believes that if men can be induced to take a vital interest in their country, they will do all that is necessary for its defence. All effort to establish a pretentious defence is political trickery. The facts are against the Government. We must provide for. five, six, or ten years hence. The honorable gentleman who introduced the motion respecting the Washington Conference said that it would give peace in the Pacific for ten years. This Government, therefore, does not believe that there is any immediate danger to this country. The proposed expenditure on defence and our present defenceless position are admissions that there is no immediate fear of invasion. If the Government thought otherwise, then its inadequate provision for the defence of this country amounts to an act of collusion with the enemy. It could not more deliberately sell Australia to a foreign foe than if it had been its bribed associate. In leaving Australia in a state of unpreparedness, the Government evidently does not believe that there is any immediate danger’ of invasion. On these Estimates £20,000 is provided for one item, £250,000 for another, and £1,000,000 for another. It sounds very well, but I ask honorable members to analyse these proposals. Only so much is to be spent this year, and so much next year. As one honorable member said, there will be enough in years to come; there will be enough in the sweet by-and-by. But there is to be no army, no navy, no aerial fleet, nothing for years to come. I have no wish to use an unparliamentary expression, but I say that no greater sham has been imposed upon a credulous public than that imposed by this Government when it talks of providing for an adequate means of defence. It well knows that no enemy is in sight, and that within the next few years’ there is no prospect of an enemy assailing our shores. Looking at the insignificant items of expenditure on defence, it is evident that the Government is doing nothing to defend Australia. One cruiser is to be constructed out of borrowed money in two and a half or three years’ time. If war does not come within ten years that vessel will then be on the scrap heap, but the naval personnel will still have to be paid.
The Labour party scorns the Government’s defence proposals, resting in the security that no enemy can be visualized at present, and no war anticipated for at least the next ten years. We shall build up our defence for the next ten years, laying the foundation well and soundly upon the basis of economic preparedness. We shall take one other step in proportion to the resources of our country and to the desires of our people. Because the British Navy has ruled the seas for 200 or 300 years it does not follow that we should try to do the same. We should not support such a policy. It has been said of this party that there has been a notable departure from its military and naval programme before the war. Of course, our programme has changed. The world has changed. Our financial and economic position has altered. To know how rapidly the world has changed we have only to take the speech of the Prime Minister the other evening on wireless. We were to expend large sums of public money on a certain system of wireless, but the decision had hardly been made before a fresh development arose, and it was decided to adopt the beam system of wireless. What a marvellous transformation ! To-day we are doing things in the way of banking and financing that ten years ago would have been regarded as monstrous and absurd - as a mere chimera, a thing drawn from phantasy and childishness. We are told that by altering our policy of national defence we shall be unworthy as a party and untrue to our past traditions. We can exist as a party worthy of our responsibilities only if we live in the present, facing new features as they present themselves.
We regard, as fundamental those things making for preparedness. We say that our air force should be developed, but the Government say “ no “. The air force, as a means of defence to Australia, is a most imperative and economic arm, being easily adapted to the conditions, of this country. The exploit of Wing-
Commander Goble, at the head of our air forces, and Flight-Lieutenant Mclntyre, who recently made a non-stop flight to Sydney, aroused the pride and glory of Australians. Every one feels that Australians will gladly assist tha development of that force. General Monash has said that the air force is now a sham. What are we doing todevelop an arm of defence which is peculiarly adapted to the needs of Australia? Not only has the Government reduced the .pay-roll of the seagoing section of defence, but it is now reducing that of the men who do the actual fighting, although increasing the ‘ emoluments of those on top. It is now proposed to reduce the payments to those who run the risk and carry the responsibility from £94,000 to £93,000. WingCommander Goble said that no progress had been made towards a definite policy of air defence. Goble, Monash and Chauvel are all agreed so far as our air defence is concerned. WingCommander Goble also said -
The cost of equipment for the air defence will be £3,000,000. . . . That sum will provide for 26 squadrons of air planes, flying boats and sea planes.
Commodore Hyde, Acting First Naval Member of the Naval Board, said -
We have no stock of munitions, no means of manufacturing munitions, no oil or petrol for submarines or air-craft.
That is a nice position for Australia to face. The same authority said, “ An air policy was decided upon several years ago, but it has not been carried out.” The Labour party stands for an aerial fleet that will be the most economic and numerous, and capable of the most rapid concentration. It stands for a fleet that can go across the continent, and under no necessity to go around it; capable of rendering public service in peace as well as in war. It stands, also, for the provision of aerial stations and aerial supplies in all parts of Australia, and for a submarine navy operating in conjunction with and supported by aerial observers, scouts, and co-defenders. The Labour party’s attitude is endorsed by Admiral Sir Percy Scott, who said: -
Another bogy put before the Australians is that on account of their enormous coast-line they must have battleships. That is just what they do not want. If all the waters of all countries are protected by submarines, all waters will be wrong waters for battleships.
Admiral Kerr, of the British Navy, also said : -
The Australian lino of defence is obviously comprised of aeroplanes, submarines, and torpedo boats, against which no hostile fleet dare approach within 200 miles.
Rear-Admiral S. S. Hall, of the British Navy, states: -
We had a grand fleet with a preponderance of nearly two to one ever Germany alone. We had the assistance of the American, French, Italian, and Japanese navies, and yet our main naval purpose - the protection of our trade - could not be carried out. . . . The navy itself could not put out to sea without itself being protected by flotillas of little quickturning devil-dodgers.
Lieutenant-Commander Rawson stated : -
It needs little technical knowledge to see that Australia must concentrate on submarines, mine layers, fast torpedo boats, and aircraft. Sixteen submarines can be built for the price of one battleship. No extensive dry docks are required. Flotilla warfare is a form of defence particularly suitable to our needs and our resources.
Admiral W. F. Fullam, United States navy, also said: -
Submarines, air forces, mines, and torpedoes are sufficient to defend a coast.
Admiral Sims, of the United States navy, said : -
There will never again be naval expeditions carried across the sea to an enemy port, the establishment of an advance base on his coast, and the pouring in of soldiers and supplies. This has been rendered impossible against any country that has adequate air and submarine forces. If our coast is protected by aeroplanes and submarines, no ships can roach our shores, or land troops. The success of transporting 2,000,000 men to France furnishes no precedent. It was not a landing on enemy territory. The German submarines wore not operating in home waters. They had no air forces to act as eyes, to convey information or to co-operate in attacks on our convoys. It would have been an entirely different proposition if we had attempted to land on enemy territory occupied by enemy forces through hostile waters held by enemy submarines operating in conjunction with an aerial fleet.
Lord Wester Wemyss, First Lord of the British Admiralty stated: -
Had any enemy submarines been present at Gallipoli in April, 1915, the landing of the troops on the Peninsula would have been impossible.
Admiral von Scheer, of the German navy, said -
The aeroplane and submarine furnish greater advantages to the defender than to the attacker. They make attack so difficult that the surface war vessel must now be denied official offensive power.
And Lord Sydenham said -
Submarines, .minefields, and the air have conferred new powers on home defence.
I have made a clear and definite statement of where the Labour party stands in regard to defence. It stands primarily for economic preparedness and for the development of the air forces, and, when we have arrived at that point of development, we can estimate how much further we may go with the moneys available. We charge this Government, first of all, with having enunciated a fictitious and valueless defence policy that is condemned by experts as ineffective. It provides neither for equipment for the troops, stores, nor munitions. Over £17,500,000 has been expended by the Government without showing any real or tangible results. We charge the Treasurer with having bolstered up his revenue by the sale of assets and the appropriation of properties that belong to the people. He has seized millions of pounds of public money which was originally set aside as a sinking fund for the redemption of the public debt, and has used it. for the inflation of the revenue. We charge the Government, and the Treasurer especially, with having incurred expenditure from loan funds that should have been made out of revenue. By these methods of revenue inflation the Treasurer has created a bogus surplus. The assets of the country are fewer than they were when he first assumed office. Our second charge against the Government is that the public debt has been increased to over £415,000,000 under the administration of the present Treasurer. We care not what may happen to the Government, or whether the present Treasurer remains in office. I, personally, hope that he will, for I am confident that whatever odium attaches to him, or the party with which he is associated, will cling to those with whom he ie now associated, and the more it clings the more I shall be pleased. We are indifferent to the immediate fate of the Government and its allies, for we know that the longer it continues in office the more it will become discredited. We have no desire to protract this debate. We say that the defence policy of the Government is not sound or real; that the Treasurer’s professions of economy are a sham; and that he has eaten into the accumulated resources of the country, and increased its expenditure and indebtedness. With that condemnation, I leave the subject.
.- I regard the budget presented by the Treasurer as very satisfactory, because it promises to so many people a certain amount of relief from direct taxation, and because it continues the policy, commenced by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when Treasurer, of lightening the burden of taxation upon the poorer sections of the community. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) referred to the fact that three quarters of our revenue from direct taxation was obtained through the Customs Department, and his remarks would lead one to infer that the whole amount was collected in duties- upton imports from overseas. The fact is that of the £35,000,000 of customs and excise revenue collected last year, over £10,250,000 was received from excise duties, which ‘are an internal tax. The honorable member also expressed his inability to reconcile the figures regarding the amounts said to be standing to the credit of the Commonwealth in London. I think he was overlooking the fact that an amount of £39,000,000 on account of wool sales, half the profits of which will go to -the Commonwealth, had .not been taken into credit. That was made clear by the speech delivered by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) some weeks ago. The Acting Leader of the Opposition expressed concern that the country was depending upon Customs duties for so large a proportion of its revenue. But the fiscal policy of the Labour party is protection., and I also am a supporter of that policy.
– Our tariff is not protective. If it were it would not earn so much revenue.
– I consider that it is a protective rather than a -revenue tariff, a-nd if it has not proved as protective as it should be, it is “because of the peculiar exchange conditions on the other side of the world
– The honorable member’s explanation is an admission.
– The honorable member belongs to a party that believes in the policy of protection, and I should like him to explain how, if that policy is to continue, the country is to rely less upon revenue from Customs duties?
– The remedy is,obvious Increase the duties and reduce the imports.
– Although I am a very strong protectionist, I am not altogether a prohibitionist, and I see a danger of the Commonwealth being forced into the same position as obtains in the United States ‘of America at -the present time. The primary industries in America are in much the same .plight as those in Australia; and. I have seen in a pamphlet issued in New York that the American people are discussing the introduction of a bill which will empower the Government to buy all primary products, fix the home consumption price, and sell the surplus overseas.
– Does the honorable member believe in price fixing?
– The Emperor Augustine tried to fix the price of ‘corn 2,-000 years ago, and his -effort was as big a. failure as have been the attempts at price fixing ki Australia. That is another instance of history repeating itself . Prices will always be governed by the law of supply and demand. Under the American proposal I have just mentioned, the farmer would receive for his’ hogs., when used for home consumption, tha average price he received some years ago, namely, $11. To-day the price is less than $6^. The available surplus for export will have to fee dumped, and. I wonder what will happen when the American consumer finds that, while pork is being sold cheaply overseas;, he is called upon to pay $11 for what he is now getting for $6 50 cents. The natural result will be that the home consumer will eat less pork. The control of other primary products will operate in the same way.
– The same position obtains in Australia without Government intervention.
– “Some of ‘ the arguments used by both protectionists and freetraders are self-contradictory. The honorable member Tor Forrest :(Mr. Prowse) is prepared to allow all goods to be imported free of duty.
– Like the honorable member, I believe in competition, and the law of supply and demand.
– I am not an extreme protectionist. I realize that certain articles must be admitted free of duty in order to enable local industries to be established, rand I think we have reached the limit of fair and logical protection. A duty of ;35 per cent, on British goods is reasonable.
– What about a duty of 97 per cent.
Mir. JACKSON;- The honorable member must be referring to a dumping duty, but that ds governed by exchanges, .and is not necessarily part of a policy of protection. .So long as the Labour party supports a (protective policy, it must expect a large revenue from Customs duties, because, -as population increases, and further industries are established, we shall require more imports. Therefore, the Treasurer is quite sound in estimating a Customs revenue of £34,OOO.O0O in the current financial year. The only way in which ‘Customs revenue can he reduced is by increasing our manuiffactures .and that is >a slow process. When w.e start; ,an industry we cannot immediately shut .off .the importation .of articles similar -to those it produces. An increase in population must mean an increase in business- The freetrader says that the importer, like the poor, will always be with us. I regard many importers as a menace to the country.
– Could not a >big proportion of the defence stores be manufactured locally?
– Probably the greater proportion of them could have been produced in Australia, .and I deplore the fact that the contracts were not placed locally.
I regret that the budget speech contains no reference to the further development of the Northern Territory by means of railways. When the Government introduced, last year, the bill for the southward extension to Daly Waters of the existing railway in the Northern Territory, I warned Ministers that they were still expending money at the wrong end. The statements made in an earlier discussion this afternoon proved that my warning was correct. I am pleased to know that conferences are being held between Commonwealth and South Australian Ministers in regard to the north-south railway, but I strongly object to that line being grouped with any other railway project and made part of a bargain between the Commonwealth and State Governments. ‘The north-south line is justified, or it is not justified.
Either the country through ‘which the railway would pass is sufficiently good to justify its construction, or it is not. I am not .concerned with the attitude that is being adopted by South Australia towards the proposal to construct a line from .’Port Augusta to Hay. The Alice Springs proposal must rely upon its own merits. X believe that if a vote of honorable members were taken, the decision would be to construct that line immediately. I deplore the .attempt that is being made to strike a bargain with .South Australia.
– I do not think that this Government is doing that.
– I .cannot say definitely that such is the case-; but the press, which is supposed to guide public opinion, states .that it is. A consideration of this matter involves a survey of our sources of revenue -and the field of future development. The press df Australia generally, particularly in Melbourne, as well as the various taxpayers’ associations and one or two other bodies^ are continually urging the Government to reduce its expenditure. I am not in favour of incurring expenditure on wasteful projects, but I do contend that a young country like Australia, which is capable of such considerable development, requires the expenditure of a much greater amount than has been spent on its development in recent years. When a sectional committee, of which I was a member, returned to Melbourne from the Northern Territory nearly three years ago, it submitted a report to the Government suggesting that a policy of development .extending over a period of twenty years should be undertaken. Very little will be gained by this Government spending a few thousand pounds ‘ this year, and other governments spending a few thousand pounds annually in future years; a- continuous policy of development is essential for the Northern Territory. The comparative failure of previous efforts has been due to the disjointed policy of a succession of Ministers charged with the administration of the different departments concerned. I regret the retirement from the Ministry of the ‘honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) just’ when he had concluded important business relating to the Alice
Springs line. His experience, I presume, will be placed at the disposal of honorable members if a proposal to construct the line is brought before the House;. but, as he visited the Northern Territory in May, we should by now have had some official report of his trip. This afternoon, the committee approved of an expenditure of £20,000 on the building of roads and bridges, engineering services, and water boring in the Northern Territory. If the Government tackled the matter in the proper way, it would spend the whole of that £20,000 in building low-level bridges alone. I have had occasion to tell honorable members” before, and I .repeat it in order that it may sink into the minds of Ministers that, until conditions are so improved that operations can be carried on for a greater part of the year than at present is possible, the Northern Territory will not advance to the extent that wo desire to see it advance. For four months in every year weather conditions render travelling an impossibility. This Government, and others that have preceded it, have not adopted anything in the nature of a continuous policy and it is a fact that not a single yard of main road has been constructed outside Darwin - and that in a country which is twenty times the size of Tasmania! Not a single bridge has. been constructed south of the terminus of the railway. Certainly, one or two low-level bridges have been constructed down the Victoria River track, but the cost of those was shared with the Government by Vesteys and the owners of Victoria Downs station. A large sum would not be required to carry out necessary works. The rivers are swollen for several months in the year, but they recede very, quickly. The construction of low-level concrete bridges would have the effect of extending the working year to, probably, ten and a half months, while the expenditure incurred would not be very great. The speeches that were made on the motion which I moved a couple of months ago regarding the Alice Springs, railway, and the reports that have been furnished from persons who have recently visited the Northern Territory, clearly show that that country is well worthy of attention. I am hopeful that a vote will be taken on my motion shortly. Unfortunately, three weeks were lost because of the illness of the honorable mem. ber for Herbert (Mr. Bamford). Before sheep are placed on that country rail facilities must be provided, and the cost of fencing, bore, material, and other supplies must be cut down by giving the settlers cheap freights.
I want now to deal with the question of telephone construction. That matter comes within the purview of the Public Works Committee when big undertakings are contemplated. The committee’s investigations have shown that the PostmasterGeneral’s estimate of £10,000,000 for necessary works will fall far short of requirements. The installation of automatic telephones is popularizing the instrument to such an extent that the department in one instance found that its estimate of a revenue of £7 per line was considerably exceeded. On a full year’s working, the revenue received averaged £16 per line. Although the department has in it3 service some of the ablest men it would be possible to procure, its forecasting has been rather unfortunate. As soon as automatic telephones are installed there is such a rush of new subscribers that it will not be long before the exchanges now in operation will have their capacity fully taxed. Automatic telephones undoubtedly are necessary in the city, but I desire to see the system extended also to. country districts. Those districts will not have a satisfactory telephone service until it is continuous during the whole of the 24 hours. That can be economically provided only by the installation of automatic exchanges. Honorable members whose constituencies embrace country districts will admit that they are everlastingly receiving requests from small townships to have the hours during which the exchange operates extended to 8 o’clock in the evening. Residents of the cities and large towns have the doctor, the nurse, and the hospital, within easy reach, but those living in the country have sometimes to travel very many miles and then pay the additional impost of 2s. 6d. to have the post office opened. If the automatic telephone were popularized in country districts, I feel sure that it would be installed at every farming homestead. I hope that the Government will have a demonstration carried out in a small country district in order to ascertain how such a proposal would be likely to work out.
I desire now to deal with the position of Tasmania. The people of Tasmania are always grateful for small mercies. Generally speaking, however, they are somewhat disappointed at the failure of the Government to make a straight out cash grant and relieve the state from its dependence upon “ Tatts.” A few weeks ago I voiced the possibility of “ Tattersalls “ being tempted to transfer its headquarters to another state. Honorable members laughed at the suggestion, and I was not at all surprised that they should. Tasmania’s position would be very serious indeed if that institution left the state. From the moral point of view, some people would probably say that it would be a good thing. If it should eventuate, the taxpayer in Tasmania will be called upon to make good annually a loss of considerably over £300,000. The Commonwealth Government, although it collected £113,000 from “ Tattersalls,” would not allow the institution to use the post office. Its action in this matter cannot be reconciled with its action in taxing the lottery. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) may have satisfied himself that he has washed his hands of the business, but the responsibility still rests upon him and upon other Ministers to decide whether the post office shall continue to be .closed against “ Tattersalls.” The Government had no moral right to collect any tax while that restriction existed. I am disappointed at the fact that the cash payment of £85,000 per annum is to be withdrawn at the expiration of five years. I suggest that there is yet time for the Treasurer to extend the period to ten years, the amount of the grant to be reduced annually. The case put forward by Mr. Lyons, the Tasmanian Treasurer and Premier, with the valuable assistance of the State Statistician, clearly shows that the Tasmanian taxpayer is faced with the prospect of a very long uphill struggle. Glancing through a Tasmanian newspaper of yesterday’s date, I noticed that Mr. Lyon3 has stated that any reduction in taxation must be a very gradual process. We had hoped for a very prompt and substantial reduction, but Mr. Lyons immediately dissipated that hope when he learned the nature of the Commonwealth Government’s financial proposals.
– During the adjournment, I looked up some figures which refute the argument of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) concerning the increased expenditure last year. He said that our expenditure had increased by £2,250,000 over the figures for 1921-22. If honorable members will turn to page 6 of the financial statements presented by the Treasurer when he made his budget speech, they will discover that the ordinary expenditure on our government departments decreased last year by £947,6S9, compared with that of 1921-22. No credit was given to the Government for this. By disposing of certain business undertakings, the Government was able to reduce departmental expenditure, and that, I may say, is the only direction in which expenditure can be decreased. It must be admitted that the Acting Leader of the Opposition spoke truly when he said that there had been an increase in expenditure in other directions ; but I ask honorable members what part of that increased expenditure they would prevent? In the Postmaster-General’s Department an increased expenditure of £452,000 was incurred. Would the Acting Leader of the Opposition suggest that no increased expenditure was justified in this great business undertaking, which last year showed an increased revenue of about £680,000 ? I do not know to what extent the honorable member represents a country constituency, but I assure him that last year a very -./ 7 – large sum was spent out of loan money to provide better telephonic, telegraphic, and postal facilities in country districts. The large amount of £1,500,000 was contributed to sinking funds. If our Postal Department is to make substantial progress, it is necessary for it to contribute to sinking funds, so that when borrowed money which is spent on postal development is due for repayment, it will be possible to meet the bill. The Postal Department is not yet giving all the service that one might reasonably expect from it. Years ago, in certain country districts in Tasmania, the people had two mail deliveries a day, whereas now they are only able to get one, notwithstanding that two trains still pass daily through the districts. Economy is necessary, I admit, but it should be reasonable economy. In some of the outback parts of Australia the people only get one mail in six weeks. I would favour the provision of a much better service for them. Additional expenditure of about £1,700,000 was incurred in the payment of old-age and invalid pensions. The Acting Leader of the Opposition supported the Government’s proposal to increase this expenditure, and he would have supported a larger increase. To that extent, at any rate, he must accept responsibility. If any charge of extravagance is made in that respect, he must, accept hie share of the bla me.
– Honorable members on this side of the committee did not support the Government in making a present of £247,000 to the wool kings.
-Parliament has already considered that matter, and the fact that honorable members opposite do not agree with the supporters of the Government about it does not affect the increased pension payments. Adequatecontributions to sinking funds are a necessity. I have quoted several times in this chamber the Western Australian experience in connexion with the construction of the water supply for Kalgoorlie. A 3per cent. sinking fund was established to meet the loan raised for the purpose of that work, and before many years had passed the work was handed over to the state entirely free of debt. Our forbears did not do all that they might have done to provide sinking funds to meet our loans as they became due. Another inevitable increase in expenditure occurred in the per capita payments to the states amounting to £431,000. I have read in various newspapers that members of the Labour party have stated that these payments must cease.
– Which members?
– I need not give names. If the honorable member for Werriwa considers my statement to be inaccurate, he will have an opportunity to refute it. I shall resist every effort to abolish the per capita payments until the states are given an equivalent. Still another item that contributed to the increased expenditure was the appropriation of £1,000,000 for defence. I may now claim that I have effectively disposed of the charge made by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that the Government has been extravagant. On page 69 of the budget financial statements, the approximate result of the workingof the Postmaster-General’s Department for 1924-25 is given as follows : - Receipts, £10,047,000 ; expenditure out of revenue, £9,575,828; interest on amounts which the Treasurer has advanced out of revenue from 1st March, 1901, to 30th June, 1924, to meet the net loss on, the working of the post office during that period, £282,369; interest and sinking fund on post office loans redeemed by the Treasury, £45,604; surplus, £143,699. This result is anticipated despite the fact that the taxpayers have been given the benefit of reduced charges.
– Instead of reducing the charges, the Government should have attempted to reduce the deficit.
– The charge made against the Government last year that it was using the post office as a taxing machine cannot be laid against it successfully this year. I wish now to discuss trade preferences.. It is highly necessary that we should expand our trade, and develop markets in other parts of the world ; and whilst I am prepared to assist in securing reciprocal treaties with various countries, I consider that very great care will have to be exercised to ensure that we do not place ourselves in a worse position than, we now occupy. I have yet to be assured of the earnest desire of the Canadian Government to do something that will help us. It would be quite easy for it to show its bona fides by giving us a preference on our dried fruits at once. Figures show that Canada has a much greater trade with Australia than Australia has with her; and’ unless we are careful we shall place ourselves in a worse position by giving Canada preferential treatment. I shall regard with a great amount of suspicion any proposals which the Canadian Government may make unless they are accompanied by incontestable evidence that it wishes to do something to help us, and not something that will strangle our industries. I shall oppose any proposal to remove the duty on farming machinery. The United States of America would probably reap the largest benefit from any action of that kind. But there is the larger question of preference in relation to Great Britain.. I was very disappointed with the result of the vote on that matter in the House of Commons recently, but I am optimistic enough to believe that it will be reversed before very long. It is .of very little satisfaction to Australia to know that for the sake of -two or three votes we are denied the right to sell our .goods to o.ur .own flesh and blood in , Great Britain, notwithstanding that we provide- the best oversea market that . Great Britain has for .her products. I hope that the Minister i:or Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) will make a statement very shortly on the iniquitous tariff arrangement which permits preferential treatment of goods which .are 75 per cent, foreign and only 25 .per cent. British. Those goods are practically manufactured in foreign countries, where the wages are lower and conditions of work are not so good as in Australia, and where the exchange position is -such as to make Australian competition -absolutely impossible. “The ‘Government proposes to devote £500,000 to arranging .schemes for marketing .our products. ‘On the general -question of marketing Australian products, the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), who represented Australia -at the opening of the Empire Exhibition, made some startling statements after he -returned to Australia. When he endeavoured to obtain supplies of Australian .butter for sale at the exhibition, he found that stocks were not available. The same thing could be said of nearly every other requirement for the exhibition. Although many people say that there should be more business in .government and less .government in business, I maintain that the Government must assist business in this country to a much greater extent them is necessary in any other primary-producing country, because we are so far away from our markets.
– That is socialism.
– It may be socialism. I do not say that the whole programme of socialism is bad. But I ‘do not wish at the moment to get into .an argument on the subject. I look forward with confidence to the -working of this -scheme, and I hope the Government will act on the best advice it can get. Last year Tasmania -exported .1,65,2,000 bushels of apples, and it is safe to say *hat. very few growers in ‘that state made any profit out of their year’s labour. ‘This year the result is not much better. ‘The crop was much .smaller, land we sent .away only a little more than half of ‘the number of bushels exported last year. Grower -after grower is receiving .demands from agents in London for money -expended in excess of the amount received from the sale of the fruit. The experience of growers ‘in other states has not been <very different.
– Apples are dear enough in Australia. m Mr. JACKSON . - That interjection reminds me that ten years ago the Californian -dried fruits industry was in a state similar to that of the Australian industry to-day. There was overproduction, and it was difficult to find markets for the surplus. By advertising and reducing prices the growers increased the local consumption until to-day their output is five times what it was ten years ago, and the grower is prosperous. It is not very long since California was sending packets .of dried fruits to Australia and selling them here. As thousands of tons sf fruit rot on the trees and vines in Australia fruit ought to be .cheap enough in this country. In my native city it is very difficult to get .a decent case of apples. All the good ones seem to be sent away, and even for them the growers receive very little, and occasionally have to send money to England. I hope that the Go.vernment, in the interests of the industry, will not delay the spending of the money. I hope that very little will be unexpended when the next budget is presented.
A necessary work that has been neglected ever since railways were first built in Australia is the standardization of railway gauges. I welcome the proposal to do some.thing at last regarding the line from Kyogle to Brisbane. I hope that the State Governments concerned will come to an early decision, so that the work can go ahead. The breaks of gauge are very annoying to those who have to travel even from Melbourne to Perth, or .from Melbourne to Brisbane, and in -addition there is the enormous economic loss caused by having to .transfer goods at every break of gauge.
Another question is that of the .main roads grant we .passed some weeks sago. It is remarkable that while we propose to spend £500,000 on roads in the -stashes only £20,000 is provided for boring .for water, engineering’ services., buildings, >and roads in the Northern Territory, which covers 500,000 square miles. When will the Government wake up to its responsibilities in the Territory? I hope the
Treasurer will pay some heed to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of constructing roads in that vast area. Enthusiastic motorists are proposing to hold a motor race, or motor reliability trial, through the Territory next year. I have been suggesting something like that ever since I returned from the Territory in 1921. I know of nothing better for bringing it under public notice than to encourage men with money to go into it, and only men with money can participate in the proposed trial. When they have seen the country they may be prepared to invest capital there. I hope the Government will do everything in its power to assist the trial, even though it may cost some money. The track ought to be cleared immediately. Out of last year’s vote for the building of roads in the Territory, the Government purchased a road grader, but it made the blunder of sending it to Darwin and then over 200 miles of railway to the Katherine River. No motor car has ever gone through the Territory from Darwin southwards; such trips have always been made from the south. The sensible thing to have done would have been to send the grader to Oodnadatta, ,to start work from the southern end. I do not know how many times. I shall have to tell this House that this Government, and former governments, always start work in the Territory at the wrong end. If the 1,018 miles between the present rail-heads is graded by one grader, honorable members will all be dead, or at least very old, before the work’ is completed.
I trust that when the Estimates have been passed the Government will proceed with the serious business of spending the money that Parliament has provided. With an increasing population in Australia the forecast of developments is entirely justified. I look forward to further slight reductions in taxation, but I do not think that taxation can be cut down substantially every year. Having regard to our war commitments, we seem to have curtailed expenditure almost to the lowest possible amount.’ I congratulate the Treasurer upon having redeemed such a large amount of loan money. We shall collect a little more revenue in the near future, because the money now invested in tax-free loans will be made to pay its share of taxation. I congratulate the Treasurer on the budget, which, generally speaking, has my support.-
.- I wish to enter a protest because the Treasurer has not referred, in his budget speech, to the north-south railway, nor has any provision been made for it in the Estimates. The question has been debated in this chamber from time to time, and much of what I wish to say has already been said. But there are considerations that led those who represent constituencies in South Australia to expect, especially at this time, that something would be done. South Australia claims that if has a moral and a legal right to call upon the Commonwealth Government to construct this railway. The Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910 provides that the Commonwealth shall -
Construct, or cause to be constructed, a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway, with a, railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway to connect therewith, is hereinafter referred to as the transcontinental railway).
That section has been misinterpreted by interested people who desire the railway to follow another route. The clause I have read is ordinary, plain English. It is concise, and it means that the Commonwealth Government is responsible to the South Australian Government for the construction of the line. If that is not so, why was the clause put in the agreement ? The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) has frequently mentioned the subject, and I give him credit for the interest he has taken in the Northern Territory. The Public Works Committee inquired into the proposal to construct the railway, and presented a report in 1922. Clause 81 of that report reads -
In regard to the southern section, cognizance was taken of the fact that the existing line from Quorn to Oodnadatta is now laid with light rails on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, and that between Marree and Oodnadatta the regular service is a fortnightly one, and is not likely to be anything more for at least some years. The Oodnadatta railway at present involves the Commonwealth in an annual loss of between £60,000 and £7,0,000, but the terminus at Oodnadatta is in the midst of some of the poorest country in Australia, and it ie possible that with the extension to the better country in the region of the Macdonnell Ranges, the loss on the existing line may be somewhat diminished. All witnesses ‘ ex- amined on the subject agreed that the MacDonnell Range country offered many possibilities for development, both pastoral and agricultural; that the mineral potentialities of the district had been only partially exploited and had not been by any means exhausted, and would be benefited by a railway, and that the climate was quite equal to anything in Australia.
The committee accordingly agreed to recommend that the line from Oodnadatta be extended to Alice Springs by the construction of a light line with 60-lb. rails and low-level bridges at a cost of approximately ?4,742 per mile.
Mr. Jackson moved ; ‘ That the committee approve of the extension of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line to Alice Springs by the construction of a light line of railway with 60-lb. rails and low-level bridges.”
That motion was seconded by Mr. Mathews, and was carried by a majority of the members of the committee.
– Then the Government fell down on the job.
– Notwithstanding the fact that the committee sent to inquire into the proposal recommended that the line should be constructed, nothing has been done’ up to the present. Since the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth the attitude of every Federal Government on this question has been one of procrastination. The exPrime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in 1919, in delivering his policy speech at Bendigo, specially referred to the north-south railway. He said that the line would be built by the direct route if his Government was returned to power. In his next policy speech, delivered at Chatswood, the right honorable gentleman said the same thing. During the election campaign, speaking to the people of Adelaide, who are directly interested in the matter, he made a promise to the whole of the people of South Australia, that if his Government were returned to power thenorthsouth railway would be built, and he advocated the direct route. He regarded the construction of the north-south railway as a matter of sufficient importance to deserve mention in every policy speech he made. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has referred to the building of the railway since he has occupied the position. When he was going through Adelaide in September, i923, he attended a valedictory social, and at that gathering he was questioned as to the attitude of his Government on the construction of the north-south railway from Oodnadatta. I make the following quotation of what he said from the Adelaide Advertiser, of the 4th September, 1923:-
When tlie Prime ‘Minister was replying, he said his old friend, the north-south railway, had once more flitted across the continent with ite iron rails - (laughter) - and a word, almost of warning, had been given to him about his duty and what action he should take. He knew all about the opinion of the public of South Australia on the subject. In fact, he had been left with no possible doubt whatever. What the people of South Australia knew about it was as nothing compared with what he knew. “ I ‘have stated publicly and emphatically,” added Mr. Bruce, “ that we recognize the obligation we are under to South Australia to build that line as the result of the arrangement entered into when the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth from South Australia. (.Cheers.) I have never qualified that in any way, and I do not qualify it now. We recognize the obligation, and we are prepared to stand up to it - (cheers) - but we do say that a new Government coming into office, are not to be stampeded into doing things until they have an opportunity for full consideration of the question, and to say when it is right to take action. This is bordering on controversial subjects, which, thank Heaven, are kept out of gatherings of this sort; but I shall certainly keep in mind this national enterpize, and if it -is possible or desirable to take action, when in England, to carry through the North-South railway as one of the great schemes in which the British Government and Australia can cooperate, I shall not hesitate to take that action.”
Up to the present the Government has done nothing. It has been in office for some time, and, according to reports, is not likely to remain in office much longer. In the circumstances it can scarcely be regarded as a new government, but rather as an old government going out of office. I hope that the promises made by the exPrime Minister, and the present Prime Minister, to the people of South Australia, will be honored. The ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) promised the people of South Australia that the Government would do something in the matter. The honorable gentleman visited the Northern Territory and, in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 3rd May, 1924, there is a report of the Minister’s visit, from which I quote the following : - Asked what his impressions were, Mr. Stewart refused to make any statement pending his report, which he will submit to Cabinet on. his return, beyond saying that he had an interesting and informative trip, and regretted that time did not permit to see more of the country. He paid a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the sprinkling of white settlers that were pioneering the vast lonely stretches of such an immense country. “ The inhabitants of the capital cities of the south,” he said, “have not the faintest conception of the isolation, the deplorable lack of medical and transport facilities, and’ the hardships suffered by the pioneers, outback, both men’ and women,, particularly the women. City-bred Australians who flock nightly te the theatres to follow with breathless interest tile fanciful dramas of Western American pioneering life little dream- that more stirring incidents are- being enacted daily in real life in their own country, by their own people, whose lives are full of hardships, and whose dentils, owing to the lack of medical facilities, aase often tragedies…..
After looking into’ the problems of that area he had very definite recommendations to make to Cabinet. What those recommendations when he- could not give any indication until the Government, had seen them1.
Tie inference from the honorable gentleman’s remarks is- that when he arrived in Melbourne he would recommend the Cabinet to build the north-south railway to overcome the difficulties of settlers in the .Northern Territory. He said that immediate action should be- taken in view of the hardships of those settlers. Since his return I have put questions to him in this House, asking if he. had- anything to report in connexion with the construction of the railway. On each occasion I have been told, in reply to my questions, that he had no statement to make on. the subject. I was hoping, as time went on, that some statement would be made by the honorable gentleman, and that he would assure the House that provision would be made for the construction of the line. The honorable gentleman has proclaimed himself sympathetic in the matter, but he has not so far advocated in this House the construction of the railway.. I suppose that the promises of the ex-Prime Minister, the present Prime Minister, and the ex-Minister for Works and Railways, on the subject of the north-south railway, sink into insignificance at the present time, in view of the negotiations between the parties on the other side to determine which is to have the greatest share of the loaves and fishes. References were made by many witnesses examined by the Public Works Committee in the course of its inquiry as to the fertility of the soil in the Northern Territory. The general opinion was expressed that the land around Oodnadatta is. a desert, and the. fact that the existing line stops there- hasmilitated against its extension northward.
– The Government lost £1,500,000 because the line stopped at. Oodnadatta.
– That is so. Since this House passed the Northern Territory Crown Lands Bill, thus retarding the development of the Northern Territory by placing it in the hands of a few people, with little prospect of making it available for closer settlement, many honorable members, who previously advocated the construction of the north-south line, are opposed1 to it. The operation of the ordinance embodied in the act should not deter honorable members from supporting the construction of this line, as it is possible that action may be taken later to suspend its operation. Honorable members representing certain states adjacent to the Northern Territory hope to gain some- advantage by advocating a deviation from the originally suggested’ route of the north-south lime, but ‘ the direct route’ must be followed if tha compact entered into between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments is to be honoured… The South Australian, Government has carried out its obligation., and- the Commonwealth should- do its share. During this session honorable members have discussed’ the building of the Federal Capital.. Like other honorable members, I considered it to be a waste of money,, yet, because of the pact between the Commonwealth and the New South- Wales Governments, I voted for further expenditure on its construction. Honorable members should adopt a similar attitude towards the north-south line. In addition to the legal aspect, there has to be considered the existence in the Northern Territory of vast potential wealth, which is far greater than is imagined by many people. The evidence taken by the Public Works Committee has been referred to from time to time by the honorable member for Bass, who, as a member of that committee, visited the Territory, and- was seised1 of the possibility of its development. He has since toured Australia, lecturing on the potentialities of the Northern Territory. The climatic conditions and the possibilities of developing that country have been placed before honorable members from time to time by different organizations in Australia. Not long ago honorable members received, from the, White Australia Committee a pamphlet reading as follows : -
What has taken place in North Queensland is quite possible to be repeated in the Northern Territory. These two parts- of. Australia’ have a similar climate;, and axe capable of producing similar products.
The Territory does not at present bear a good name in reference to climate- and other natural conditions, but the same thing- was said of Queensland. At one time- people going from Sydney to, Brisbane were informed that the climate was not suitable for white men to live in. And it is not many years ago that the same thing was said to people going from Brisbane to Townsville or Cairns.
In the early days of settling North Queensland, I believe, the insurance companies charged an extra premium- to insure persons living in- the- north, but later finding by the result of statistics, that the north was healthier than the south, the charge was abolished.
And- visitors to North- Queensland will realize that the people living there are just ais active, enterprising, and perhaps more socially inclined than in, some southern, parts.. The children are healthy and full of life, as in any other country;
That statement should cause honorable members to banish from their minds the idea that settlement in the Northern Territory is impossible. Cotton production there has been referred to. A company has been- formed- for- the- production of cotton-, and in the Age of the 2nd March, 192’4’, the following article appeared : -
Three thousand prosperous white people settled on a thousand1 square miles of the Northern. Territory growing- cotton, ginneries dotted! here- an<& there with Australian machinery,, built, of Australian, metals’ - that is the project of an Anglo-Australian engineer of Melbourne, Mr. John Marshall. He asks for a million* pounds to launch the scheme. “Australia has the- best cotton, growing country in. the world,” he says,, and. he, leaves for London by the Mooltan on Tuesday to arrange for the flotation of a company. He expects that half the sum required1 will be raised in Australia and haU im England. Already he has interested: about 5.0 of Australia’s big business men, and it is. understood that the Commonwealth Government have granted/ a lease for 2! years free- of rent of 60’ square miles in the Roper River district, which will be- increased to 670; square- miles when, the company is on its feet.
Aboriginals will ihe used for certain jobs, but white people will be settled’ there. Australians are to be given the first opportunity to apply for holdings. Already twelve applications have been- received, after which families will be brought out from. England, their passages paid, a.nd money advanced to start their crops-. The whole thing will be done on the farm-sharing basis. “ There is not the slightest doubt of its success,” says Mr. Marshall. He estimates that when things are under way a man-, his wife, and three children will be able to earn £1,500 a year on a 1,500-acre plot.
That article dealt with the production of cotton in the Roper River district, but there are far greater possibilities of success in the. Northern Territory further inland. At Mataranka is a Government experimental station which has grown the best cotton ever produced in Australia. Its cotton crop yielded 1,400 lb. to th& acre.. In Queensland the cotton average is only 600 lb. to the acre. This shows the undoubted possibility of successful cotton growing in various parts of the Territory. Mining resources should also be exploited, in order to obtain payable quantities of silver, lead, and gold. At the end of last J January a rich mineral deposit was reported to have been found in the. Northern Territory by a, prospector. Dr. Basedow, of South Australia, waa sent to the Territory to- inquire into the possibilities of the find. His report, taken from the Advertiser of South Australia of the 4th February, 1924’, is as follows : -
The discovery is indeed a fine one. There aiia at least two parallel lines of lodes running slightly south of east, and all are absolutely virgin, with not the mark of a pick, shovel, drill. or hammer upon them. What appears to be the principal’ ore-bearing body is 4S0 feet long and- from 4 to 25 feet wide,, consisting of rich carbonates of copper and lead, with high values of silver. On the eastern end, after a break- of 75 feet, this body reappears for another length of 120 fee, at an average width of 2 feet of very massive; and, rich carbonate of lead mixed with, the blue and- green carbonates of copper. This outcrop stands from 2’ to 3 feet above the ground. About 250 paces south of this- lode another line, parallel- to the- above, appears: on the surface in two. places, and no doubt are. continuous below. The eastern- outcrop of this formation consists “of- siliceous ironstone, Hie western rich cupriferous ore, the latter body measuring about 2. chains in length and from 5 to 14 feet in width.
I must candidly admit that the formation is’ the most promising virgin lode I have, seen and examined during the whole of my career as a geologist. Of course, one can never tell with absolute certainty, but from the settled- and clean nature- oi tile formations, which, axe true tissure-fillings, and. from the richness of the oxidized minerals now appearing upon, the surface, I have no hesitation in predicting, that at a comparatively shallow depth the mine will reveal some- phenomenally rich ores of copper, lead, silver, and in all probability gold.
Only a. few. weeks ago I heard an honorable member of this House, at a deputation to the Prime Minister on this subject, quote figures concerning a Northern Territory mine in which he was interested. Notwithstanding that I knew the nature of Dr. Basedow’s report, I was very much surprised to learn that the possibilities of mineral production in the Territory were so great. If mines were opened up in the central part of Australia, fuel, coke, and coal would need to be transported to the mining fields. If the ore were smelted there, the carriage of timber and other commodities would make a railway from either Port Augusta or Port Pirie to the Northern Territory a paying proposition. Even if the ore were smelted at, say, Port Pirie, the railway would be in the same position as the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line which is the only railway outside of the metropolitan area in South Australia making a profit. A line serving the mining fields of the Northern Territory would be a paying proposition irrespective of whether the ore was smelted in the Territory or at a seaport. A company would certainly find it more profitable to smelt the ore at the seaport and so avoid the heavy cost of transporting over long distances into the interior coal and coke, which is light, but bulky. A smelting plant such as exists at Port Pirie could not be established for less than £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. It may be news to honorable members that the ore that is being brought from Broken Hill to Port Pirie for smelting is of low grade. I have heard it said for many years that Broken Hill is petering out, but it continues to produce ores which, although of low grade, can be profitably transported to Port Pirie for treatment, and with .a railway to the Northern Territory the rich ores from the centre of Australia could be mixed with the low-grade ores from Broken Hill for smelting purposes. The Register of the 30th July last contained this paragraph regarding a mica deposit in the Northern Territory -
Claiming that on his land, 150 miles north-‘ west of Alice Springs, there is a deposit of hundreds of tons of mica, worth about £2,220 per ton, Mr. T. D. Edmonds Baw Senator Pearce this morning, and asked that the Commonwealth Government should provide better means of transport between Alice Springs and Oodnadatta. There was great wealth in Central Australia, he said, but it could not be o-ot out because of the lack of transport facilities.
I have heard from those qualified to speak that mica exists in other parts of the Territory. In connexion with the disadvan- tages with which residents of the Territory to have to contend, Mr. H. A. Heinrich, of the Finke River Aboriginal Station, in a recent interview, said -
The average rainfall there (Macdonnell ranges) is about 11 inches, compared with only 4 inches, or less, farther south. Fruit of all kinds - given water conservation - will grow there, and dates iii abundance. Ample opportunity is afforded for extensive cotton growing and tobacco culture. . . . We have our high cost of living problems, for the camel freight on general merchandise from Oodnadatta to our station is £12 a ton (it is not bo long since it waB £23), and to this must be added rail freight to Oodnadatta of about £5, making £17 or more altogether.
Honorable members who have had an opportunity of seeing the country state emphatically that the Northern Territory is one of the most valuable assets of the Commonwealth. Reliable witnesses have testified to the richness of the land, and, according to a paragraph published in yesterday’s newspaper, Lady Stradbroke has selected land in the Territory. At the end of this year the Commonwealth Government will take over from the South Australian Government the- railway from Quorn to Oodnadatta, the operation of which has resulted in an accumulated loss of £1,500,000. That loss, which is at the rate of £70,000 per annum, will continue while the terminus of the line is at Oodnadatta, but if the railway is extended beyond the poor country into the more fertile areas to the north the loss will be substantially reduced. The Commonwealth will be at a disadvantage in the operation of that line under existing conditions. The South Australian Government is able to transfer the staff and rolling-stock to other parts of the state when the heavy cattle traffic eases off, but the Commonwealth will not be able to do that, and no matter how economically the line may be administered, the loss under federal control must be greater than it is under South Australian management, unless the volume of business is increased by an extension of the railway into the more productive areas of the north. At the present time stock trains run from the north intermittently for only about seven months in the year, and it will not be economical for the Commonwealth to maintain a large staff and a big quantity of rolling-stock on that linein order to cope with only the rush traffic. Yet if the requisite facilities- are not available when they are needed the cattlebreeders will suffer. It has been said by opponents of the north-south railway that cattle raisers in the Northern Territory would not truck their cattle, even if the present railway were extended. Those people do not understand what they are talking about. The land about Oodnadatta - the present railway terminus - is poor, but further north is exceptionally good country, yet if cattle travelled from there by road over the poorer country they would be stores by the time they reached Adelaide. They would depreciate in value by from £5 to £8 per head. As a matter of fact, it would not pay to send store cattle to Adelaide. I believe that when the north-south line is constructed cattle will not be sent all the way to Adelaide. If the line were taken right into Port Augusta on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge there would be an agitation for the establishment of ‘ Government freezing works at that centre. If the Government will not establish killing works, private enterprise will. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has frequently stated emphatically that sheep can be profitably bred in the north, and Dr. Stefansson has said that, notwithstanding the shortage of water and other disabilities along the stock route, and the fact that the present season is one of the driest on record, he did not see on© beast in the Territory that was not fat. With all this evidence to guide us, it is high time that railway facilities were given to that great fertile area to the north. A railway would confer another boon, which must not be overlooked. In the Territory there are edible bushes which provide good feed for stock, even in dry seasons, and when the railway is extended north of Oodnadatta it will be used during periods of drought to shift stock from the lower and middle north of South Australia into the Territory. If such a line had been in existence in 1914 many of the farmers whothen lost horses and cattle would have saved the majority of their stock by railing them into the Northern Territory. The line, if extended, would be used for that purpose when the middle north of South Australia was experiencing a drought. The glowing accounts of its fertility by the honorable member for the Territory have been verified from time to time by visitors to the north. After the visit of the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) the residents of the Northern Territory thought that their transportation difficulties would be relieved, for his remarks led them to expect that he would do something practical on his return to Melbourne. They were sadly disappointed, and now the representatives of South Australia are grievously surprised to find no mention in the budget speech of provision for the construction of the north-south railway. I hope that, even though provision has not been made in the Estimates, the Minister will enable us to give an assurance to the people of South Australia that action will be taken during the life of this Parliament, if it runs its allotted span. We would thankfully receive that assurance, notwithstandingpast procrastination.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made to authorize the raising of moneys to be loaned to the states, and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.
– I move -
That this bill be now read a second time.
I do not anticipate that this bill will meet with any opposition from honorable members, as it had its genesis in an agreement that was arrived at between the governments of the states and the Commonwealth Government. Those governments represented every political party in Australia. The measure is brought forward to enable the Commonwealth Government to undertake, on behalf of the states, all loan operations in Australia during the present financial year. It is the outcome of the deliberations of the Australian Loan Council during the last few months. The introduction of the measure marks a very important advance in the method of conducting governmental borrowing in Australia, and I therefore propose to briefly narrate the steps which led up to the proposal that the Commonwealth Government should act on behalf of the states in regard to borrowing in Australia. Prior to the war, the Commonwealth Government did not raise in Australia loans of any magnitude, and although the states floated loans for developmental works, a great deal of that , money was obtained in London, borrowing in Australia being usually confined to business over the counter’. On the outbreak of the war it became evident that the Commonwealth Government would need to borrow freely to enable it to finance its warlike operations. It was quickly recognized that, to make a success >of loan flotation in Australia, some arrangement was necessary between the (Commonwealth abd the states. The first agreement entered into provided that the Commonwealth should advance from the Notes Fund moneys for public works. A subsequent agreement empowered the Commonwealth to borrow on behalf of the states. Unfortunately, that agreement was not complete, New South Wales declining to take advantage of the arrangement. Five states, however, participated in it, and unnecessary clashing was thus prevented during the war period. At the termination of the war that agreement went by the board, and there nas since been a great deal of competition between the various governmental authorities. During .the war it was made manifest .that a great deal more money could be raised in Australia than was previously thought possible. During the last few years, therefore, keen competition has ..existed .between the states themselves, and -between the states and the Commonwealth, for the money that was available for loans. At times, too, the issue of loans by the various governments has clashed. Last year, when the Commonwealth had on its hands the first big war loan conversion operation, involving a sum of over £38,000,000, the lack of co-ordination made it impossible to keep all the state governments off the loan market while a loan was being subscribed. There can be no question that this competition in Australia has been one of the principal factors in the gradual raising of the rates of interest to their -present height. In January, 1919, the Right Hon. “the Speaker, who was then Treasurer of the Commonwealth, endeavoured to secure a certain amount of coordination in borrowing operations. He proposed that for three years the Commonwealth should borrow on behalf of the states. Unfortunately, that proposal was not acceded to by the states, because of the fear that they would thereby lose certain of their sovereign rights, or that some limitation of borrowing would necessarily result. The states possessing the smaller populations were willing to .agree to the proposal, because they had always experienced a greater amount of difficulty than the larger States of New South Wales amd Victoria in obtaining the money they required. Unfortunately, as Victoria and New South Wales would not come in, the proposal could not be proceeded with. Since that time, at various conferences that have been held between the -Governments of - the Commonwealth and the states, attempts have “been made to secure unanimity in this matter, but no success attended those efforts until last year, when’ the Commonwealth Government put forward the proposal that,, an Australian Loan -Council should be formed, consisting of the Federal Treasurer and the Treasurers of the states. The earlier objection to the formation of such a .council was that it might attempt to secure executive as well as advisory powers, .and that the inevitable outcome would be ,a definite limitation of borrowing by the Commonwealth ‘Government. The constitution of the Loan Council agreed ito last year was .along the lines :of making it a purely .advisory body, -the executive function of placing a definite limitation on borrowing being put completely on one side. The Loan Council was asked to determine the order in which the ‘Commonwealth, the states, and the various public ‘bodies created by the state legislatures, should go upon the loan market in Australia. A further function of .the council was to advise each Treasurer regarding the rate cif interest, and :other terms upon which local loans should be floated. The states agreed to the proposition of .the Commonwealth Government, and in May, 1923, the Australian Loan ‘Council was formed. The first meeting of the /council was held on 1st February, 1924, just before it was necessary for the Commonwealth Government to arrange “the conversion ‘loan in connexion with its war gratuity bonds. In the six’ months prior to February, 1924, although the constitution of the Australian Loan Council had .been determined, it was not possible to hold a meet- ing, and during that time there was very active competition between the Governments of the states, which resulted in the rate of interest advancing from 5 per cent, to 6 per cent. At the first meeting of the council in February, 1924, the different Treasurers frankly disclosed the financial position in which they were placed, and discussed the whole of their operations. Each recognized the need for co-operation in the raising of loans. The council then fixed uniform terms to be offered by the several Governments concerned for any loans which it was found necessary to raise in Australia up to 30th June, 1924, and the members of the -council bound themselves to observe those terms and to obviate unnecessary clashing in the issue of loans. The Governments of Victoria, South Australia, and New South “Wales stood off the market while the Commonwealth conversion loan was being arranged, although they continued to accept money over the counter. The states of Queensland- and Western Australia were needing money, and the Commonwealth Government agreed ‘ to find £750,000 for the former, and £1,250,000 for the latter in order that it should not be necessary for them to go upon the market while the Commonwealth conversion loan was being arranged. Proposals for limiting the loan expenditure and for giving the Australian Loan Council authority to determine the time for and method of placing loans on the Australian market, were also considered, but the members of the council were not at that time willing to bind themselves beyond the 30th June, 1924, nor were they prepared to agree that there should be one borrowing authority for the whole of Australia. The arrangements made at the February meeting, however, proved so satisfactory in practice, they induced such a feeling of good will between the various Governments, and such an absence of clashing, that in June last the Treasurers found themselves able to make a very substantial move forward.
– There were then five Labour Treasurers.
– That had been the trend throughout. The Treasurers of all the -states have at all times been most ready and willing to co-operate in every possible way, no matter to what political party they belonged. Further meetings of the Loan Council were held in June and July of this year, when the loan programmes of the several Governments for the present financial year wore disclosed, and discussions took place as to the amount of loans that might be raised in Australia and overseas during 1924-25 without disturbance of the national financial position. All the members of the Loan Council recognized the need for reducing the proposed loan programmes, and for limiting the borrowing of the Commonwealth and the states accordingly. As a result, the following motion was unanimously passed : -
The Australian Loan Council, having had under review the loan requirements of the various states and the Commonwealth for the forthcoming financial year, agrees as to the advisability of concerted .action feeing taken by the states and the Commonwealth to raise the amount* required in Australia for the year. After careful consideration, and recognizing the need for some central body function - ing an behalf of both states and Commonwealth, -the council agrees that the Commonwealth should arrange a loan for the agreed amount, and the states will give inscribed stock, bearing concurrent obligations, to the Commonwealth for the amounts allocated on a basis to be determined.
This resolution, and the Loan Council’s proposals for the reduction of the contemplated loan programmes, were unanimously adopted by the respective Governments. The position now is that,, so far as this year is concerned, at least,, the Commonwealth will raise all the newmoney required in Australia by thestates, and the states themselves will notapproach the Australian market for newmoney. With* regard to the conversion, of state loans falling due in Australia in- 19:24-5, the states will themselves, as faras possible, make their own arrangementsfor conversion. They will, however, makethese arrangements in consultation with the Australian Loan Council, and’ will’ not offer terms more attractive to lenders than those agreed to by the council. If any state finds that it cannot arrange itsloan conversions, the Commonwealth is to undertake the conversion. There will’ thus be no -competition between- the Commonwealth and the states, or between j states and states, on the Australian market during the present financial year. Each Government is to continue to arrange its own loans on the London market, but an agreement has also been made to limit borrowing in London. The Commonwealth and the states, other than Victoria and South Australia, are bound not to issue loans overseas in 1924-25, except for conversion purposes, for amounts exceeding the respective totals of the payments to be made by them overseas. Victoria agrees not to raise overseas more than £2,175,000 in excess of its payments overseas. South Australia agrees not to raise overseas more than £600,000 in excess of its payments overseas. The general effect of these arrangements for London borrowing is that the governments concerned will not have to approach the- banks for exchange, because, except to a limited extent in the case of Victoria and South Australia, they will not be bringing to Australia the proceeds of the loans they raise in London. It has been arranged that, in respect of any money raised by the Commonwealth for the states as the result of the Loan Council’s agreement, the states shall _pay to the Commonwealth annually, during the currency of the loan, a sinking fund contribution of 10s. for each £100 of stock or bonds. The sinking fund contribution, which will be paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund of the Commonwealth, will be on the same basis as that already established in respect of the Commonwealth debt, and will be better than the average of the sinking fund provisions made by the states. This is due to the fact that all* the states have not yet provided for sinking funds at so high a rate as 10s. per cent, per annum. The arrangements made by the Loan Council are likely to have most beneficial effects on the loan operations of the Governments in Australia. During the present financial year, at least, there will be no competition, nor will there be any clashing of one state loan with another. In addition, the amount to be borrowed will be limited to the definite sum agreed upon by the Loan Council. All the financial institutions will know that, except for the loan to be issued by the Commonwealth for the states, no other appealwill be made to the Australian market for new money during the present financial year.
Dr. Earle Page.
– “Will the states continue to take money over the counter?
– Only for conversion purposes.
– Will they not issue treasurybills ?
– Not as they do at present for new money. The arrangement made ‘ is of the greatest importance, and is a very great improvement, because under the old methods of raising loans the banks and financial institutions were not able to look ahead to see what calls might be made on the money market by the Governments for loan purposes. It may be asked how. limitation, of borrowing is being secured under the Loan Council’s arrangement. The position is that, for the first time, the proposed loan programmes of the states and the Commonwealth have been disclosed to the responsible Ministers in conference. The figures having thus been brought together, the Treasurers have been able to consider the extent to which the amount proposed to be spent could be borrowed without unduly disturbing the loan market or taking out of it moneys required for private enterprise. Having thus fixed the total amount which might be borrowed on behalf of all the Governments, the. Treasurers were in a position to consider the extent to which it was necessary to curtail the proposed loan programmes of each Government. As a result, the Loan Council was able to make definite recommendations, supported by sound arguments, for the limitation of each Government’s borrowing to a specific sum, and the Treasurers, armed in this manner, were in a position to place convincing statements before their respective Cabinets. I am very pleased to be able to say that each Government accepted the Loan Council’s recommendations. This- bill is to give the Commonwealth authority to carry out the arrangements made by the Loan Council, and subsequently adopted by the respective governments. The first thing to be done is for the Commonwealth to raise a loan in Australia for state public works. The proposed Australian loan will not include any moneys for Commonwealth use’ as, apart from conversion operations, it will not be necessary for the Commonwealth to approach the Australian market for its own loan needs this year. The states re- quire in Australia this year a little more than £10,000,000, and in order that the expenses of raising the loan may be provided for, authority is sought to borrow £.1.0,300,000. The amounts allocated to the several states are: - New South Wales, £2,906,000; Victoria, £2,325,000; Queensland,- £1,340,000; South Australia, £2,034,000; Western Australia, £1,200,000; Tasmania, £233,000; total,. £10,038,000. During the last few days, the Loan Council has had several consultations with the representatives of the Australian banks, in regard to loan arrangements for the present year. The advice of the banks has been sought regarding the terms which might be offered for an Australian’ loan. The exact terms cannot, . of course, be fixed until a day or two before the loan is issued, but the consultations with the banks have enabled the Loan Council to make tentative arrangements for the issue of the proposed loan. In all cases where the Commonwealth raises loans for the states under these arrangements, it will issue its own securities to the loan subscribers. The states will then be required to give to the Commonwealth state securities subject to conditions similar to those of the Commonwealth securities given to the loan subscribers. The agreement which has been reached between the Commonwealth and the states in regard to this year’s loan operations will have a most. important bearing on the loan which the Commonwealth must issue for the conversion of the greater part of the huge war loan of £68,813,000 of 4£ per cent, stock and bonds maturing in Australia on the 15th December, 1925. The loan which the Commonwealth proposes to issue for the states is to be issued at an early date, and all the money subscribed under it will be payable by about the end of January next. The first war loan conversion operation of the Commonwealth was adversely affected by the issue at the same time of state loans for new works. The new operation will, as has been shown, be quite free from any competition of this kind and the market will have a period of rest before the heavy conversion operations of the Commonwealth begin.
– Is this £10,000,000 loan to provide all the money that the states will require next year for redemption purposes?
– The money proposed to be raised under this bill is not for redemption purposes at all; it is entirely new money. State conversion operations, I may say, are rather different from those of the Commonwealth. State conversions nearly always concern people who have been in the habit of subscribing to state loans for many years, whereas the great majority of people who have subscribed money to the Commonwealth loans are comparatively new investors in government stock. The Government seeks authority in’ the bill for the following purposes: - (1) To raise a loan of £10,300,000, and to lend that money to the states; (2) to raise money for the purpose of redeeming state loans falling due in Australia this year; (3) to convert state loans falling due in Australia this year ; (4) to enter into agreements with the states in relation to the terms and conditions of new loans, and of conversion and redemption operations; and (5) to pay into the National Debt Sinking Fund all moneys received from the states as sinking fund contributions in respect of loans raised under the bill. For the reasons I have given, I earnestly commend to honorable members the proposals in the bill. It is a measure arising out of decisions, reached by seven governments representing all political parties. All these governments recognize that the time has come for action on the lines proposed in the bill, and all concerned are convinced that the measure will be beneficial, not only to the governments, but to the people of Australia, and to all the financial interests concerned.
.- As my leader does not desire to make any comments on the bill, I shall avail myself of the opportunity to do so. It is not the first time that I have adopted the attitude that I shall take on this matter. We have frequently heard fine utterances on loan proposals such as the Treasurer has just delivered. The same kind of sophistry always envelops a proposal to raise a loan. We are told that it is made by mutual understanding and amicable arrangement between those concerned. As the Treasurer said, the interests of the Commonwealth and State Governments have clashed in the past, and the bill is designed to give effect to an arrangement to stop that from happening in the future. I want, if possible, to focus the attention of the House on what has happened in years past. To-day we are only fencing round the difficulties, and trying to continue in the old way with the least possible effort. According to the Treasurer’s budget speech, our gross indebtedness is £910,000,000, and our net indebtedness £831,000,000. He kindly told the people that their gross debt amounted to £158 per head. I belong to a party that has always condemned borrowing except for reproductive works. I do not think there is a reproductive work under Commonwealth control, except the post office, and good care is taken that that department is not run on business lines. The cost is cut down until those who manage it get into difficulties. The Labour party is not in favour of borrowing except for conversion purposes and for reproductive works.
– The Commonwealth is borrowing for four State Labour Governments.
–I know that; and I am ashamed that Labour Governments have not evolved some other way to finance themselves. When Mr. Andrew Fisher submitted his first borrowing proposal I voted for it out of loyalty, but I told him in the caucus room that he was only doing what Sir Joseph Cook would have done in the same circumstances. Borrowing is the policy of National Governments, but the Labour party has laid down the principle that borrowing shall cease. The exigencies of the moment justified the Labour caucus, in its opinion, in ignoring that plank, and borrowing for war purposes. I do not care what criticism is levelled at me by so-called financiers, because the greatest financiers of that day made false prognostications regarding the effect of borrowing for the war. They said that it would be financially impossible to carry on the war for twelve months; that we could not borrow £20,000,000 in Australia, and that if we attempted to do so industries would stop, because the money was working capital.
– Have they not?
– They have not. If the honorable member will consider the statistics that accompany the budget speech, he must be a “ little Australian “ indeed if he cannot see how the Commonwealth has developed since 1914 in manufacturing industries alone. It is said that firms in my state have spent money to enlarge their buildings so as to avoid paying war-time profits taxation. Some firms have doubled and trebled the size of their premises. The Government borrowed £80,000,000 in one year f roam a source from which it was said we could not take £20,000,000 without creating chaos. It did not stop there, and, the exigencies of war demanding more money, it doubled the amount in the following year, and then doubled it again.( We can now see the result in a war debt of over £400,000,000. All the preconceived ideas of the financiers were knocked bandy, and we are paying the penalty to-day. A loan was issued for providing war gratuities. It was issued and authorized by Acts No. 2 and No. 18 of 1920. It was government registered stock, and £5,000,000 was issued at £95, and £5,000,000 at £96. The interest was 6 per cent., and the loan is redeemable in 1941. That shows what a splendid thing the financiers are getting out of Australia, just because this country went to war. It represents the price we are paying for defending Australia. The more we borrow abroad the more goods we must get from abroad, and if we get goods from abroad, we cannot manufacture them here. But for the strangling effect of finance, we could produce and manufacture everything wanted, not only by every one now in the Commonwealth, but also by thousands more to come. I know that it is the policy of the Government to continue the present system, but I, for one, raise my voice in protest, as I did on the other side of the chamber ten years ago. The present method is trickery. It does by borrowing from Jews what could be done by other means if the Government so desired. The money borrowed for the war is a fictitious burden upon the people of Australia to-day. I have been challenged for making that statement, but its truth is obvious in the light of an example I shall cite. The Government appealed to trade unions to put money into the war loans, and they did it. It appealed to the workers to subscribe amounts as low as £10, and they did it. The Typographical Society in South Australia put £1,000 into one of the- war loans, and the following year had to fight an- Arbitration Court case. The case cost them £1,200, and they opened negotiations- with their lawyer as to how they should settle Ms account. He offered to take their war bond, and they handed it over to him, with £200 in cash. I do not know whether that bond circulated farther, but bonds were accepted as currency by many business people. The Typographical Society paid the costs of that case with a bond that represented £1,000, but the Commonwealth Government had already spent that £1,000 before the Typographical Society spent it. Thus the loan was duplicated. Although I am not going to advocate a system to replace the present one, I say that once the attention of the people is focussed upon the existing evils a change will be made. Notes to the amount of £6,000,000 have been issued to balance the war gratuity loan, because the Government could not borrow the money. Notes to the value of £54,000,000 or £58,000,000 have been issued, but are not in circulation. They are not necessary; they cannot be forced into circulation if they are not wanted, for no one is fool enough to pay for something, that he does not want. . But as a credit the banks can, and do, use them effectively for the purpose- of making money. When I suggest that the Commonwealth should issue inconvertible notes, should substitute another system for borrowing, and should use’ its own credit instead of paying 6 per cent, interestto the Jews, the financiers heap ridicule upon me. The sinking fund that has been established will take years to liquidate existing loans, and the Government will borrow more each year than the amount placed in the sinking fund. The process must end some time. If the end comes through an upheaval of the people, Government supporters will say that it is due to agitators. When we borrow money we simply transfer credits. I. have an £80 bond in the war loan,, and I dare say I could negotiate it at a discount to-morrow, if I tried. Once the discount has . been paid on it, the next seller does not have to lose anything, for he sells at the same rate as he buys from me. The Commonwealth has. already spent the £80, and where the second £80 comes from it is beyond me to say. lt seems that we can eat our cake and have it,, for the Government has eaten my cake, although I still have it locked up in the Commonwealth Bank. That is the trickery of. finance,, and I object to it. I do not mind the smile of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann).. I was smiled at years ago- when I said that an inconvertible note was the right currency for Australia. I was laughed at by the great Crawford Vaughan, who submitted the question to Mr. Gill, then UnderTreasurer, who, I know, told him that there was nothing unsound in ‘ the proposal to issue an inconvertible note for local, currency purposes. We have lived to see the day when, for’ all practical purposes, we have an inconvertible note. If we had no gold in the Commonwealth Treasury, the confidence of the people in the Government would, be sufficient backing for our notes. Now that difficulties in the borrowing system have been encountered, a Loan Council has been formed, loans are being rationed, and governments are treading as warily as possible. If the Labour party had the numbers in 1915 to carry the proposal of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) to place £20,000,000 to the credit of the Commonwealth Bank, and work on that, we should have had no war debt to-day, and would not have been paying huge sums in interest to outsiders. The transcontinental railway is a losing proposition, and all other Commonwealth railways are losing propositions; but there is a difference between them. The transcontinental railway pays interest to the- Commonwealth, but on the other railways the Government pays interest to the money-bugs of Great Britain. The Commonwealth Bank was started on a nominal grant of £1,000,000 from the Commonwealth Treasury, but lt never touched a penny of that money. If a bank can be developed on those lines, I am satisfied that the time has arrived when we should cease to borrow from any one but ourselves. It may be urged again that posterity should pay its share for the development of the country. Poor posterity ! We were told the same thing ten years ago, and posterity is still carrying the burden, and will carry it when I am out of the way. Posterity cannot throw bricks at me, but if it has cause to revile my memory, I hope it will do so if I do not oppose a system that is financially burying future generations.
– I am afraid that so long as we use a large amount of the wealth of this country to pay subsidies to exotic industries we shall have to borrow for our regular requirements. I believe we all welcome such an arrangement as that made between the Commonwealth and the states. It will be a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth, but I am a little perturbed as to its effect on the states. I want to say a few words on this aspect of the matter, for, although the states have undoubtedly agreed to the arrangement, it would appear that a certain amount of pressure has been brought to bear upon them by the Commonwealth. In carrying out any scheme of this sort, we have to be very careful that the Commonwealth authority does not exert an influence over the state governments which it is not justified in exerting. I have here a report of a speech made by the present Premier and Treasurer of Western Australia in connexion with this matter. He says -
The Commonwealth Government, however, was again endeavouring to push the states into a corner, and would not agree to the pooling o local borrowing unless the states agreed to limit their borrowing overseas.
– That hasbeen their ambition for years past.
The Premier said that was so, and it was an attempt to deprive the states of their sovereign rights. There should be no attempt to dictate to the states how far they should go or how much they should borrow in London or overseas. It was urged by representatives of the state governments that the Commonwealth Government should be content to have pooling for local borrowing, and to allow the states a free hand in regard to borrowing overseas, but the Commonwealth’s attitude was that unless the states would agree to limit their overseas borrowings the proposals for pool borrowing within the Commonwealth went by theboard.
Mr. Richardson. ; Onwhat basis is the quota for each state fixed?
The Premier replied that it seemed tohim that the quotas were fixed without any sound foundation. The Commonwealth had asked the state Premiers to submit estimates of their loan requirements for the year. . . . The Commonwealth bargained with the states and whittled down the amounts they had asked for. . . . He had hesitated about giving the Commonwealth Government the right to determine what the borrowing of any state government should be overseas for any particular year. The Commonwealth could have no knowledge of the state governments’ requirements. The limitation of borrowing overseas would have this effect - that since most of the money raised wag for the purpose of carrying out a policy of land settlement and migration, that policy would be correspondingly restricted.
It would appear from the remarks of the Premier of Western Australia that a, certain amount of pressure has been brought to bear, but as the state Treasurers have consented to this arrangement, they must be answerable for the consequences. It appears to me that inthis arrangement we have a principle introduced which may have a dangerous and far-reaching effect.
– It may have a very good effect, too.
– That is a matter of opinion. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), who, no doubt, believes in unification, may consider this a very desirable arrangement. In this, as well as in other matters, the Federal Government is gaining an increasing amount of control, and by this means is bringing pressure to bear upon the finances of the state governments. If we desire unification, let us say so straight out, and have done with it. I cannot oppose this bill, because the Treasurer of my own state has agreed to it; but it seems to me that it is my duty to raise the question I have raised, in case a similar matter comes up in the future. I feel that there is a very’ subtle danger lying behind this proposal. It is like putting shackles upon the hands of the state Treasurers. It may very seriously cripple, not only the sovereign rights, but the actual developmental principles of the states, and especially states that are in a comparatively backward position.
– This measure is really designed in the interests of the weaker and smaller states.
– I am aware that it is said to be so, but I have justquoted the remarks of the Premier and Treasurer of one of the smaller states. Presumably he knows what he is talking about. Honorable members are aware that this gentleman does not belong to the same political party as I do. We are on opposite sides of the political fence, but that does not matter, and I am trying to show that the interests of the states may be endangered by such a proposal. That is why I have raised the question now. When such an arrangement as this is made, the Commonwealth Government must be very careful that it does not take advantage of it to bring about a measure of control over the governments of the states, because, after all, finance is government and government is finance. Under such an arrangement the Commonwealth Government might, secure a measure oi control over the states far beyond the powers conferred upon it by the Commonwealth Constitution. This must inevitably lead to greater difficulties in the future. I think it right to make this protest, because the remarks of the Premier and Treasurer of Western Australia seem, to me to suggest that, although he agreed to the arrangement, he did so more or less under force majeure. The opinion that will be held as to whether this will prove a good thing or not will depend on the political views of honorable members. Some states with big sinking funds and good credit can, under existing conditions, borrow on better terms than others, and obtain higher prices for their loans, but, because this loan will be raised as a whole, those states will have to pay the price which can be demanded of states whose financial position is not so satisfactory. I cannot vote against the bill for the reason I have given, but I have felt that as this measure represents an important departure in connexion with our financial arrangements, I should utter a warning a3 to i.ta probable effect.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat suggests some ulterior motive in the introduction of this bill. He should hesitate to make such a suggestion, because the bill .has been introduced by the Government he supports. If such a measure were being introduced by the party to which I belong, I could understand the honorable member being suspicious. I have been struck in this connexion by the advantage given to the treasurers as a result of Labour victories in four of the states. Probably every person who claims to understand federal and state finance has expressed the opinion that there should be only one borrowing authority for Australia. Every one who has given the matter a moment’s consideration will admit that. When our last conversion loan was floated, the action taken by some state Treasurers was deplorable. I know for a fact that in one state, money for treasury-bills was taken over the Treasury counter, and those concerned in the transaction gloried in their attempt to hamper the Commonwealth Government in the flotation of its loan. I cannot understand why there should be any opposition to one borrowing authority for the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government will borrow on behalf of the states, and will obtain the money on better terms than could be obtained by a state government. One thing which should be borne in mind is that if a state government is unable to borrow money on favorable terms, that has a very bad effect upon the finances of the rest of the Commonwealth. It is only reasonable to conclude that the credit of Australia as a whole is better than that of the individual states. A trustee having money to invest will prefer to invest it with the Commonwealth rather than with a state. I am aware that some honorable members are state righters, but many are in favour of unification, and a large number of people outside is awaiting the first opportunity to. cast a vote to increase the powers of the Commonwealth. Nothing is calculated to do more to forward a movement for unification than state borrowing. It must have been pleasing to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to know that at the last conference he would, meet Labour Treasurers from four of the states. They showed the true Australian spirit and assisted the honorable gentleman to get this arrangement through. The Treasurer must know that if it had not been for the advent of Labour Governments in four of the states he could not have made such an arrangement. I think that this augurs well for the future. I have in mind a change of Government in the Commonwealth, and when the party on this side is in power we shall not do what the Treasurer is doing. We shall try to use the credit of Australia for its people. With all due respect to the opinions of honorable members opposite, I say that that can be done. The attempt, to do it will be made, and I am sure that success will attend our efforts in that direction. I am glad that the loan- is to be arranged through the Commonwealth Bank, and I hope that all future loans will be raised through the branch of that bank in London. I have written many letters on the subject to the other side of the world, and so far as I know there is nothing to prevent future loans being arranged through the Commonwealth Bank in London. The various states should conduct their financial business through the Commonwealth Bank. I have never understood why the state Treasurers have failed to make use of. the bank for that purpose. I hope that as the result of the recent action of the Loan Council, where necessary, the ‘Commonwealth Bank will be used for the borrowingof money in London. Before the next conversion loan is raised an opportunity should be given this House to discuss it so that wemay have one borrowing power, and negotiations for loans carried out through the Commonwealth Bank. This would mean the payment of a lower rate of interest than before. The bill before the House is a move in the right direction.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) stated that pressure had been brought to bear on Western Australia. I certainly admit that all the states felt the pressure of economic circumstances, due to most of them having borrowed freely, and the tightness of the money market. It is true that pressure wasbrought to bear by the Loan Council acting as a whole, but that was because of the economic stringency. The states readily recognized when they saw the large total of the proposed commitments, that they would not be able to borrow to theextent desired. Western Australia is one of the last states that should complain of bad treatment from the Commonwealth. Early this year this Government found £750,000 for that state to prevent it from going on the money market, and to save it trouble and expense. Last year New South Wales lent Western Australia £250,000 to enable it to meet some of its obligations. Under the present arrangement the weakerstates are being protected, because in a scramble for money New South Wales and Victoria, with their huge commercial activities, would reap an advantage over the smaller states.I hope that every member of this House will disabuse his mind of the suggestion that there has been a desire to bring about unification under this scheme. The bill is to provide for co-ordination among the states, and to establish one borrowing authority for Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
Motion (by Mr.Corser), by leave, agreed to-
That the PrintingCommittee’s Report (No. 2) be agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Respecting the motion just moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) that the report of the Printing Committee be agreed to, I should like to know whether it is not an unusual procedure fora committee’s report to be agreed to without honorable members knowing anything of its contents. I happen to be a member of the Printing Committee., yet I have received no intimation that anymeeting of that committee has been held. I do not know the nature of its report, and I have not the least idea of what theHouse has agreed to. It seems rather peculiar that such a position should arise. The report may or may not bea properone. Possibly it would be better ifsuch reports before being agreed to were made available, if not to honoraible members as a whole, at least to the members of the committee presenting them.
– In reply to the honorable member, I would point out that it is now too late for this matter to be reopened, as I have declared the motion carried. There is an ancient form of procedure in respect of the Printing Committee’s reports, which, for the moment I did not recollect when the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), as chairman of the committee, presented its report this afternoon. The usual procedure is for the committee’s report to be read, and for a motion to be passed without objection, agreeing to it. This is a comparatively innocuous, and I should think, strictly formal report, of two or three paragraphs, prepared for the convenienceof the House, of which the Printing Committee stands as custodian for the time being. The meetings of the committee have nothing to do with the House at all, hut the honorable member for Richmond will see when he gets his copy of the Votes and Proceedings to-morrow, that the convenience of the House has been studied in following the procedure that has been adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240806_reps_9_108/>.