13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister administering war service homes when the committee appointed to investigate the disabilities of purchasers of such homes will complete its investigation and present its report?
– The terms of reference require the committee to report within four months from the date of appointment; that period will terminate
At the end of June. The committee has completed its investigations in Victoria and Tasmania and is now in New South Wales. I anticipate that the report will he available by the due date.
– Does the Prime Minister regard the advent of the subsidized Matson shipping line as a challenge to British and Australasian shipping and an attempt to divert Australian traffic through America? Is the Government taking any action in consonance with the legislation passed in New Zealand to empower that dominion to co-operate with other governments in the protection of Empire shipping? “What steps, if any, . does the Government propose to take to impose against the American line, at least the same restrictions as are imposed by the United States of America against British and Australasian ships trading in American waters?
– The honorable member was good enough to notify me of his intention to ask this question; I am unable to express an opinion on the first part of it, out, as I have already indicated, the whole matter has been, and is, engaging the earnest attention of the Government, which is in communication with the British and New Zealand Governments in reference to the matters involved. Certain aspects of the subjectwere dealtwith by my colleague, the Minister of Commerce; in reply to a question, upon notice, on the 3rd May, but at present no statement can be made regarding the possibility of action by the Commonwealth Government.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation make available to honorable members the whole of the file relating to the case of Thomas Collins, war pensioner? Does the file contain reports from neighbours of Mr. Collins; if so, will the Minister make such reports available? Is it the custom of the Repatriation Commission to seek information from neighbours regarding the medical condition of war pensioners; if so, will the Minister consider the advisability of abolishing this practice in view of the fact that for various reasons neighbours may not be on friendly terms?
– I have already discussed this matter with the honorable member.
All files belonging to the Repatriation Commission contain confidential reports, and it is not the practice to make such files available to the public The Commission seeks medical information regarding pensioners from medical practitioners only; the medical view of any case is not influenced by reports from members of the public.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that when the Tariff. Board reported in 1924 on the request to proclaim wire netting under the Australian Industries Preservation Act of 1921 it was seriously contended that 75 per cent, of the netting manufactured in Great Britain was consumed in that country and that the. Board compared the price per roll in England against the price per mile in Australia? Having regard to the present high rate of exchange, and the serious rabbit menace will the Minister again refer this matter to the board with a view to the cancellation of the proclamation?
– I am not aware of the contents of the Tariff Board’s report in 1924, but I shall consider the honorable member’s suggestion that the subject of wire-netting be again referred to the board.
– In view of the bitter anti-Australian campaign against Australian beef now being conducted in England by Lord Vestey and Sir William Vestey, will the Prime Minister invite theco-operation of Australian meat experts in combating these slanders ? Further, in view of the published statement by Vestey Brothers - since answered by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) and the High Commissioner - that Australia was exploiting British patriotic sentiment with the object of obtaining a quota for Australian beef, will the Prime Minister remind Vestey Brothers and the British consuming public that Australia is hot unmindful of that firm’s action in evading war-time profits taxation by retreating to America?
– If the honorable member will give notice of the question I will let him have a considered reply; meanwhile,I assure him that the subcommittee of Cabinet, which is dealing with the matters to be discussed at the Ottawa conference, will be glad to avail itself of any assistance that may be available to uphold the claims of Australian producers of meat.
– Owing to the extreme shortage of onions for home consumption, supplies being available for only eight weeks, and the fact that the market will not be replenished by local growers bef ore November, will the Minister for “Trade and Customs consider the advisability of removing the import duty on onions during the months of August, September and October, in order to ensure the maintenance of adequate supplies to the consumers?
– I understand that, owing to the partial ‘failure of last season’s onion crop, the yield was about 50 per cent, below normal; in consequence the selling price of onions is unusually high for this time of the year. If, as the honorable member has stated, the supply will last only about eight weeks, consideration will begiven to his suggestion. I remind him, however, that the duty of £8 per ton on onions does not apply to the produce of New Zealand; under the reciprocity agreement, the duty on New Zealand onions is only £1 per ton.
– In view of the great importance of fertilizers to Australia, and the fact that that product is cheaper in any other country than it is here, will the Minister for Trade and Customs take prompt action to see whether fertilizers can hecheapened to Australian producers?
– I shall be glad to give the matter consideration.
-Will the Prime Minister indicate whether the press statement to the effect that the Government has definitely decided not to take the census until next year is correct?
– The Government has not come to any decision in the matter, which is at present under consideration.
Police Superannuation Fund - Widows’ Pensions
– Is it a fact that the amount standing to the credit of the New South Wales Police Officers’ Superannuation Fund was included in the sum withdrawn from the banks by the Government of that State and deposited with the State Treasury. Further, is it not also a fact that the New South Wales Government is responsible for payment from that fund?
– The Commonwealth Government has no information that any moneys standing to the credit of the Government of New South Wales that have been attached on its behalf are associated with the superannuation fund of that State. The responsibility for the payment of such funds rests with the Government of New South Wales. Provision to meet the position will be embodied in the bill that will be introduced this afternoon.
– Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Bank, on the last occasion on which it paid widows’ pensions for the Government of New South Wales, retained the sum of approximately £150, which was not called for by recipients on the due date, and that it paid this sum over to the Federal Government under the provisions of the Enforcement Act? If this is so, how does the Prime Minister reconcile that action with his statement appearing in this morning’s press to the effect that ever since the act came into operation there has been nothing to prevent the Government of New South Wales paying these pensions through the Commonwealth Bank?
– It is obvious how shallow and groundless is the propaganda that is being carried on in connexion with this matter, when an honorable member suggests that the sum of £150 is likely to influence the ability of any government to pay pensions. The money to which the honorable member refers was paid into the Commonwealth Bank on behalf of certain pensioners. If that institution retained any of it on behalf of the Commonwealth Government it was not with the desire of this Government. That money belongs to the pensioners concerned, and should be held in their name. An arrangement was made between the Commonwealth Bank and the Government of New South Wales as to the method of paying pensioners, and 1 understand that the banking facilities then provided have not been withdrawn. These payments can still be lodged with the Commonwealth Bank on behalf of pensioners, and paid out to them as required.
– Has the Prime Minister read the report of the proceedings in Sydney, in .which certain men were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an alleged attack upon Alderman J. S. Garden? Has the honorable gentleman noticed’ that the report contained the serious intimation that black * gowns and hoods of the type used in the United States of America by the Ku Klux Klan were discovered in premises occupied by the convicted men, and that a number of statements were made. by witnesses alleging a systematic attempt to organize in Australia, a movement similar to the Ku Klux Klan. Will the honorable gentleman refer the matter to the Federal Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department to ascertain whether those, statements are correct or whether the whole incident was a “frame-up”?
– I shall certainly bring the matter before the Attorney-General’s Department, although I have not the slightest . doubt that it is already receiving their attention.
– In view of the fact that the contract for the Australian Broadcasting Company terminates on the 30th June next, will the PostmasterGeneral advise whether the personnel of the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been appointed, and if he is in a position to dislose their names. If not, when will the appointments be made, and published ?
– As soon as the Senate disposes of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Bill, and the measure receives the royal assent, the commission will be appointed and the names of its members made public. tariff:
– Is it the policy of the Government to lift the duty from primary products whenever the tariff becomes effective? Does the Government intend to apply that policy to the manufacturing industries of the country?
– It is not the policy of the Government to lift duties whenever they become effective.
– Is it intended that the leader of the delegation that will proceed to Ottawa shall make a statement to this House before it goes into recess concerning the policy of the Government in regard to that conference?
– I have already intimated to the House that it is the intention of the Government to give honorable members an opportunity before the House goes into recess to discuss in a general way the policy that will be adopted by the delegation that will represent Australia at Ottawa.
– I am in receipt, as I anticipate most other honorable members are, of a circular letter from the honorary organizer of a dance on behalf of returned soldier patients in the Repatriation Block, Callan Park Hospital, portion of which reads -
Though some of these men are fairly well provided for, many of thorn have neither pensions nor other means to purchase the small luxuries that help to make life bearable.
Will the Minister for Repatriation cause inquiries to be made as to the condition of these men, and if, as stated by the circular, they lack smokes and other small comforts, will he see that the omission is made good?
– Like other honorable members I have received a copy of the circular to which the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) refers. I am having inquiries made, and will give consideration to his representations.
– Will the Minister for Customs (Mr,. Gullett) institute inquiries regarding the sworn evidence that was given before the Tariff Board last week to the effect that between January and May 10,400 tons of galvanized iron were imported by Lysaght’s? Will the honorable gentleman inform the House whether the Government did not advocate the imposition of an embargo on the importation of galvanized iron in order to provide work for our own people?
– I really think that that question should be addressed to my predecessor in office,
– Is it a fact, as reported in to-day’s press, that the Government proposes to re-introduce the system of compulsory military training? If not, will the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) state whether the Government proposes to extend the present system of voluntary training in any respect?
– It is not the practice to make statements of Government policy in reply to questions. The defence policy of the Government will be announced when the budget is submitted to the House.
Distribution of Surplus Military Clothing
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’squestions are as follow -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Ainslie (each to be shown separately) for the years ended 30th June, 1920, 1930, .1931, exclusive of interest on capital, rates or ground rent?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the maximum export of primary products is of vital importance to secure the financial recovery of Australia, will the Government take into immediate consideration the desirability of renewing a bounty of 4Jd. per bushel for wheat for the coming season, and announce their policy in this regard at the earliest possible moment, so that wheat fanners throughout the Common- wealth may be re-assured of stability in the industry, and stimulated to put in a maximum crop for the coming year?-
– In view of the serious financial problems which will confront the Commonwealth and the States at the next Premiers Conference and the Loan Council, it is not possible for Cabinet to come to a decision on this matter at the present time.
Central Australian Gold Prospecting Expedition
– On the 5th May, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked me, inter alia, the following question, upon notice : -
With reference to the question by the honorable member for Capricornia on the 28th April, regarding an expedition into Central Australia, will the Minister ascertain from Mr. Carrington, Deputy Administrator and Chief of Police at Alice Springs, and from Dr. Browne, Deputy Chief Protector of Aborigines in the administrative area in question, whether they have any knowledge of the proposed expedition, and, if so, if such expedition has already started? 1 have now received advice that the officials mentioned by the honorable member have no knowledge of the proposed expedition.
Population - Jurisdiction
– On the 4th May, 1932, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) regarding the estimated white population of New Guinea, I intimated that information was being obtained regarding the number of white children in the territory. I have now been advised by the Administrator that at 30th June, 1931, there were approximately 140 male and 150 female white children in the territory exclusive of the district of Kieta.
On the 28th April, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) asked a question on the subject of the right of appeal to the High Court of Australia from a decision of the Central Court of the Territory of New Guinea, part 3 of which was as follows : -
How many appeals against conviction and/ or severity of sentence in the territory have been lodged in the High Court?
I am now in a position to advise the honorable member that there has been no appeal to the High Court of Australia from the Central Court of New Guinea against any conviction and/or severity of sentence.
Tenders for Purchase
– On the 6th May, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked me the following questions. upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply : -
– On the 6th May, the honorable the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) asked me the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
The Commonwealth Government is conducting scientific investigations into methods of control of the buffalo fly. Professor Handschin and other officers of the Council tor Scientific and IndustrialResearch have been in Java, whore the buffalofly exists, studying conditions there with a view to the discovery of parasitic insects. Professor Handschin recently arrived in Australia, and is now making arrangements for the liberation of parasites thought likely to be suitable. The Government of Queensland was informed by the late Commonwealth Government that the Commonwealth would undertake this, work, but that it was a matter for the Queensland authorities to exercise control over stock routes, and to establish suitable dips where necessary.
– by leave - I desire to announce to the House that on the receipt of the news of the tragic death of Monsieur Paul Doumer, President of the French Republic, His Excellency the Governor-General sent the following message to the British Ambassador in Paris : -
On behalf of the Commonwealth Government and people of Australia, I request Your Excellency to convey sincere sympathy to the relatives of the late Monsieur Paul Doumer, President of the French Republic, and to the whole French nation.
– by leave - The Commonwealth Government learned yesterday of the death of M. Albert Thomas, Director of the Internationa! Labour Office, and a message in the following terms was despatched by cable to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations : -
The Commonwealth Government deeply regret the passing of M. Albert Thomas. The loss of his experience; and influence at the International Labour Office, in the organization and development of which he took such a prominent part, will be sorely felt. He leaves a vacancy which will be difficult to fill.
The following papers were presented : -
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1932-
No. 12 - Industrial Board (No. 2).
No. 13 - Administration and Probate.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Financial Agreement Enforcement Acts 1932.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mack ay.)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a bill for an act to amend the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acts 1932, from being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill brought up and (on motion by Mr. Lyons) read a first time.
-I took particular notice as to whether one or more honorable members called “No”, and I heard only one in reply to the call of the Chair. If honorable members will not call out sufficiently loudly for the Chair to hear, that is their fault-
– In due deference to you, sir, I called “No”, and I distinctly heard the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) do so.
– Order !
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to amend the Financial Agreements Enforcement Acta in order to remove certain difficulties which have arisen. Some of the amendments are of a machinery character, but clause 5 has for its object the amendment of section 15 of the principal act, which relates to moneys held by banks on behalf of a State. Under that section, notices were served on all banks in New South Wales calling on them to pay over to the Commonwealth moneys held by them on behalf of the Government of New South Wales. Up till yesterday only £8,000 had been paid by the banks to the Commonwealth. A considerably larger sum is held by the banks, but it has not been handed over. No moneys have been received from the State Government’s bankers, the Bank of New South Wales, and the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney ; neither have any returns been received from those bankers of moneys held.
Owing to the practice in New South Wales of treating as one account with the Government bankers all moneys paid to the credit of the several accounts of the Treasurer of New South Wales, difficulty has been experienced with moneys of which the Treasurer of New South Wales is merely a trustee. In this way superannuation moneys have apparently been treated as part of the moneys of the State, and representations have been made by the Superannuation Board that notices served on the banks had the effect of holding up payments to pensioners. It was never the intention of the Commonwealth that trust moneys, such as superannuation moneys, or widows’ pensions, as mentioned by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Gander) should be paid over to the Commonwealth, or that banking facilities in regard to such moneys should be interfered with. In order to make the intention of the Government quite clear, it is proposed to amend section 15 to provide that the Treasurer may cancel or vary the terms of any notice served on. the banks, and refund to the banks any moneys paid in pursuance of that notice. This will enable the Commonwealth to release any superannuation or other trust moneys where it can be shown that such moneys are held up by the banks.
Afurther provision has been inserted in the bill to exempt from the operation of section 15 moneys held in bank accounts on behalf of the State where those accounts are approved by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and are operated for purposes approved by him. Under this clause approval can be given for accounts for the payment of superannuation moneys, widows’ pensions, family endowment, or other items that are approved by the Treasurer. This maybe done whenthe Treasurer is satisfied that these moneys are being used in a bona fide manner forthe purposes set forth.
Clause 6 of the bill makes provision for the protection of State officers. Under the recent proclamation and directions of the Treasurer, State officers have been directed to pay over to the Commonwealth certain State revenues that have been proclaimed. It is necessary to give adequate protection to State officers who carry out the Commonwealth law. Clause 6 accordingly contains a provision which will protect officers from victimization, or any other action that may be taken to prejudice them in. their employment. This clause will prevent any person from taking action to prejudice an officer or employee of a State in relation to his employment, by reason of the officer or employee having complied with any direction or notice issued under a Commonwealth act, or having, in so complying, failed to comply with the requirements of State law. It will be seen, therefore, that, so far as the Commonwealth can provide protection for State officers, it will be provided under this new clause.
– How far will that go?
– State officers will be protected by Commonwealth law, which is paramount throughout Australia.
– If State officers are sacked for obeying Commonwealth law, what will the Commonwealth Government do about it?
– We will then deal with the person who sacked them.
. -This bill does not call for a repetition of the remarks previously made regarding the general principles of the enforcement legislation. The explanation given by the Prime Minister was fairly clear, but more clear, I should say, in regard to the first main clause than to the second. The two main clauses of the bill, I gather, are clauses 5 and 6. Clause 5 really empowers the Commonwealth Government to hand back moneys which the Commonwealth hascollected or attached, to cancel notices and refund moneys in certain circumstances, and to provide banking facilities to operate certain . trust funds. I am glad the Government is doing that. Trust funds, of course, should not be seized by the Commonwealth, because they are not the property of the State. It is an extraordinary thing that they should be included in the State Government account at all. It is very regrettable that trust accounts should be mixed up with other accounts. They should be clearly marked when the money is lodged with the bank so that they could not possibly become mixed up with any other funds. That rule should be observed even apart from this legislation altogether. However, that is not our business for the moment.
I think that the Prime Minister rather surprised honorable members when he said that, up to date, only £8,000 had been handed over to; the Commonwealth by the banks. Is that the total amount which has been received so far?
– That is all we had received from the banks up till yesterday.
– I thought that £83,000 had been handed over?
– No. According to the statement of the sub-Treasurer, a sum of £85,000 is standing in the name of the Government of New South Wales “in the banks, but it has not been handed over to the Commonwealth Government.
– If it can be shown that any part of that £85,000 is trust money, it can be now released and operated upon.
As far as I can make out, the provision for the protection of State Public Servants will confer upon them a protection more imaginary than real. I fear that State officers obeying their Government’s instructions may be subjected to certain penalties, and for that reason I am not prepared to support this clause, though I cordially support clause 5. In the first place, if clause 6 provides any sort of protection for State servants, it; is not effective protection. Suppose the Governor in Council of New South Wales issues a regulation instructing all State officers to pay moneys received to the head office of each department, and not to the Commonwealth Government. . If the officer obeys that regulation who is to be responsible? Will it be the Governor in Council or the officer who obeys the regulation issued by the Governor in Council?
Mr.Fenton. - The issue of such a regulation would be a violation of the federal act.
– I do not know that the State Government has been too anxious to obey the law, and I am not supporting it in its action. The federal system will be impossible, if one government refuses to obey the paramount laws of the Commonwealth. What I am concerned about is this imposition of new penalties on State officers who are forced either to pay those penalties or to suffer dismissal. If an order is issued by the head authorities of the State to officers to the effect that they must pay money into the State treasury, or else suffer dismissal; that they must collect moneys from their subordinate officers or, in turn, dismiss them - because the dismissal notice will come from a senior officer - the officers who order the dismissal of the other officers will come under this law and have penalties imposed upon them. Therefore, instead of protecting these departmental officers, we shall be inflicting additional penalties upon them. It may be said that, with regard” to those who are dismissed or threatened with dismissal, protection is given under clause 6, but it is only an imaginary protection. What protection does this provision give to those who are actually dismissed? Very little. The Commonwealth may order that the penalties recovered from the State shall be paid to the officer who has suffered dismissal, but what kind of protection will that be to a man who has been dismissed from the service, despite the fact that he may have had 30 years’ service, and be entitled to compensation and superannuation rights.
– In that case could not an application bc made for a mandamus to compel the Government of New South Wales to reinstate the officer?
– That is not provided for in this bill. I am not a lawyer, and I do not know whether such provision could be made, bur, at present it is not intended to do it. It is proposed that whoever orders the dismissal of a public servant or threatens his dismissal, shall be penalized, but the penalty is not provided. I presume that that- is covered by existing legislation. This clause will bring into the line of attack a large number of public servants who, although they order dismissals, will be carrying out the directions of their senior officers. Therefore, it does not deal with the real offenders. If an officer is dismissed, and the officer who ordered his dismissal, is brought before the court and fined, what will be the position? The officer concerned may have dismissed scores and hundreds of men. He may be fined £50 or 100, but what would that represent if distributed among 50 or 100 dismissed officers? If the Commonwealth Government desires to protect the State public servants, it should indemnify them from loss by providing them with compensation and allowing them to recover from the State. This provision, instead of protecting State officers, will bring more of them into the line of fire. It will add to the penalties imposed on public servants, who are in a wretched position in respect of the fight between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government. They are endeavouring on the one hand to retain their positions, and on the other to obey the law, and they do not know which Government to obey. They are being made the subject of new penalties, and with that I do not agree.
Dr. EARLE page (Cowper) [3J5].- I thought that when the Prime Minister introduced the bill, and explained its purpose, it would, in principle, secure the unanimous vote of this House. Even the supporters of the Lang plan must he anxious to prevent any harm from being done to officers who have been superannuated, and to give protection to any State servant who carries out what he conceives to be his duty. I did hope that the second reading of the bill would be carried unanimously by this House, because even the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) agrees with the principle of clause 6, although he does not agree with the method proposed to be adopted in connexion with it.
– No State officer will be dismissed.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the honorable member. The two matters dealt with under the bill are evidently not sufficiently covered by existing legislation. I thought that the first matter had been dealt, with under the previous amendment of the act, because when I made a suggestion in regard to trust funds, an amendment was moved by the Government which I am now surprised to learn does not really cover the position. There is no doubt that hardship is being inflicted upon public servants, including those who are retiring, and are entitled to superannuation benefits, and those who have previously been receiving superannuation. Every honorable member who is anxious that no injury shall be done to the State public servants must support the bill.
There seems to be a doubt whether this bill will really give sufficient protection to State employees, and I should like the Government to insert in the bill a further amendment ensuring that there will be no pecuniary loss suffered by the public servants themselves if they carry out the laws of the Commonwealth. The law of the Commonwealth is, under the Constitution, really the law of the State as well. The bill provides that if State public servants are dismissed, and the Commonwealth Government secures a penalty against the Government of New South Wales for such dismissal, the Commonwealth Treasurer may direct that the whole or any part of the penalty recovered - may be paid to the person injured by the offence. We have not been over successful in securing money due to us from New South Wales. How are we to be any more successful in recovering penalties under this legislation? The Government of New South Wales is in a position somewhat different from that of an individual with regard to the collection of money. Under this provision a State public servant who has been dismissed will have to wait until the Federal Government recovers penalties from Mr. Lang, and may, therefore, have to face a period of starvation. He should be protected from such a position. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to see that State employees who carry out the laws of the Commonwealth suffer no penalties ut all, and I trust that the Government will, when the bill is in committee, bring down some adequate amendment which will really ensure ample protection to State employees.
.- It is amusing to me to see the Government ignominiously retreating from the position which it took up when introducing the original Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill, and which it passed irrespective of the warnings of honorable members of my party. The Government boasted of its intention to do many things by the. aid of this legislation, but its every move has been countered by Mr. Lang. The bill now before us is the outcome of agitation on the part of ministerial supporters who were perturbed by the public discontent caused by the holding up of superannuation payments and social ser vices in New South Wales. Notwithstanding the denials by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the fact remains that pensions were not paid, because the money that had been paid into the banks for that purpose was seized by the Commonwealth.
– Lang had taken it out.
– Money had been deposited to the credit of a trust fund.
– There was no trust fund.
– In reply to the assertion by the Prime Minister that Mr. Lang had withdrawn superannuation funds from the banks, Mr. O’Sullivan, secretary of the Public Service Association of New South Wales, has stated thai the superannuation funds could not have been operated upon by the State Government, because they were in a trust account. It is gratifying, however, to know that the Commonwealth Government has been compelled to retreat from its former position, and that the pensions will be paid. Some widows were unable, through sickness, to present their pension cheques promptly when funds were available to-meet them, and when the cheques were presented after the issue of the proclamation attaching the bank balances belonging to the State Government, they were endorsed by the Commonwealth Bank, “ Refer to drawer “. The agitation that has developed in New South Wales as a result of this harsh treatment of the pensioners is not to the political advantage of the Federal Government, and fearing the consequences of an early election, it has made an ignominious retreat. I shall not oppose that portion of the bill which will extend more consideration to the pensioners who have been deprived of their money, but it is » pity that the Government did not pay regard earlier to the representations made by the members of my party.
Clause 6 provides-*- 20b. - (1.) A person shall not dismiss an officer or employee of a State, or injure him in his employment, or alter his position to hie prejudice, or recommend or threaten such dismissal, injury or alteration, by reason of th, officer or employee - (a.) having complied or indicated his intention of complying with any direction or notice issued in pursuance of this act; or
This is an attempt on the part of the Commonwealth to encourageState employees to repudiate their obligations to the State that employs them.
– Has not Lang repudiated his obligations?
– Many governments throughout the world have repudiated obligations amounting to thousands of millions of pounds, and prominent financiers overseas are declaring that the cancellation of debts is the only alternative to repudiation. A great deal of obloquy is sought to be attached to Mr. Lang for his frank recognition of economic facts; but is he responsible for the repudiation of the debts of European powers, or for the £20,000,000 deficit of the Government of the Dominion of Canada? Clause 6 offers inducement to public servants to “ scab “ upon the State. “ Scab “ is a term applied in industrial disputes to men who are not true to the organization to which they belong. By the employers such men are usually called “ loyalists “, but now public servants who are loyal to the government of a State that was founded almost 100 years before the Commonwealth came into existence, are already penalized, and this legislation is designed to make them disloyal by indemnifying them against dismissal or other penalties. These temptations will not influence public servants who have grown old in the service of the State to be disloyal to the government whose salt they eat. This bill confirms my prediction chat the Government would be unable to enforce payment by the State of New South Wales, and that as fast as one bill was passed another would be required. The Government is legislating, regardless oft he hardships it is imposing upon innocent people, in order to give vent to it political spleen against Mr. Lang. Coercion of this kind was never threatened during the last federal election campaign. The Nationalist candi dates merely fooled the electors by promising that employment at good wages would be provided for all. If the Commonwealth Government had any regard for the real welfare of the Australian people, it would discontinue this vindictive legislation and devote itself to measures for the relief of the unemployed.
– The honorable member voted on Friday to reduce the amount of relief offered by the Commonwealth.
– I voted to double the amount.
– The Chair discountenances all interjections, and the honorable member is certainly not in order in replying to those which are outside the scope of the bill.
– It is amusing to discover that, after the tremendous energy that the Government has applied to the recovering of moneys from New South Wales, it has collected ony £8,000 from the banks. It could achieve its purpose much more speedily if it invested in State lottery tickets. This Government claimed that it would recover all of the moneys owing to it by the Government of New South Wales within two months. It has collected an insignificant sum from the banks and, judging from the proud way in which the Prime Minister referred to that £8,000, the amount that it has collected from other sources must be very paltry indeed.
Clause 6 has my uncompromising hostility. If given the opportunity I shall move an amendment.
– If the honorable member can think of one.
– I and my colleagues are required to deal with measures such as this on the spur of the moment. We do not enjoy the facilities that are given to the honorable member for Warringah and other members of the Cabinet to ponder the subject. The honorable member delights in interjecting in an endeavour to lead one away from the subject under debate. Sub-clause 2 of clause 6 reads -
In any proceeding for an offence against this section, if all the facts and circumstances constituting the offence, other than the reason for the defendant’s’ action, are proved, it shall lie upon the defendant to prove that he was not actuated by the reason alleged in the charge.
That is intended to give a measure of protection even to an individual who may be- dismissed for an offence and who advances the plea that he was punished not for the action alleged, but for services rendered to the Government under the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act. That can cause only discontent and involve those concerned in considerable expense. It would be much better if this Government devoted the time and the. money that will be wasted in endeavouring to give protection to those who desire to be loyal to their employers, to relieving the greatest problem with which Australia has ever been faced, unemployment.
.- I am pleased that the Government has introduced this amending bill, which has a twofold purpose. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) described it as a kind of retreat from the position previously taken up by the Commonwealth Government. - The bill is not designed to undo something that was done by the principal act, but to make it impossible for the Premier of New South Wales any longer deliberately to hold on to money which he could have distributed had he wished to do so.’ Those honorable members who are familiar with the circumstances are aware that one of the causes of this trouble has been that moneys that should have gone to various trust funds in New South Wales were deposited to tile credit of the Colonial Treasurer, and as such became attachable under the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act. However, Mr. Lang did not give the Government an opportunity to attach those sums. The £1,250,000 which he buccaneered from the banks and placed in the vaults of his Treasury include £480,000 which should stand to the credit of the Supreme Court Suitors Fund, also the credit balance of the Public Service Superannuation Fund, which, on the 30th June last, stood at £168,000. Where have those amounts gone? They are not in the bank to the credit of those accounts, and they have not been attached by the Federal Government. Those are the moneys that .Mr. Lang and his minions took away, and which are now being guarded by members of the timber basher gang.
I welcome this measure, because it makes it impossible for Mr. Lang any longer to rob the hungry women and children of New South Wales. I make all apologies that are necessary to my honorable friends in the corner group for borrowing one of their pet phrases. Ever since the Commonwealth Bank took over the liabilities and obligations of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales, widows’ pensions in that State have been paid by depositing the requisite amount of money with the Commonwealth Bank, together with a list of the payees, and that institution has accepted the amount on behalf of the pensioners, and distributed it to them. No provision under the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act could have upset that scheme. However, for reasons that are perfectly obvious, Mr. Lang chose to discontinue the arrangement. That gentleman has also been told, time and time again, that the same procedure could be followed to distribute child endowment payments. It suited Mr. Lang better to hold on to the £60,000 a week which should have gone to the hungry women and children of New South Wales. If there is any challenge to that statement, how is it that Mr. Lang has been distributing money to grocers, butchers, bakers, and the teachers of New South Wales ? He has been doing that by using trust accounts, with the co-operation of the bodies I have mentioned. The whole thing is a pretence on the part of the Premier of New South Wales, about whom we hear so much as the champion of hungry women and children. Mr. Lang has claimed that he is unable to pay pensions and child endowment, because of the action of the Federal Government. The operation of this bill will make clear on whom the onus lies. That is why I welcome it.
I also welcome the principle underlying clause 6 of the measure but, with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), I entertain fears ag to whether it will accomplish its purpose. It will certainly restrain some persons from doing certain things, but I doubt whether it will safeguard adequately those public’ servants who obey the law. I hope that the Government will take any necessary steps to amplify the measure in that respect.
The honorable member for Hunter has several times complained that the bill is one of a series of blows directed against
Mr. Lang. I do not know why he should object to that. Is it not the usual procedure that is adopted to cope with any blight ? Some years ago, when New South Wales was suffering from an outbreak of bubonic plague, the authorities did not immediately introduce a cast-iron set of regulations from which there could be no deviation. They coped with the situation from day to day, quarantining this, and then that area, and ultimately, the plague was beaten from the country. That will be the fate of the plague that is now besetting New South Wales.
– I also welcome clause 5 of this bill, because it will make clear which government is responsible for holding up these moneys. Regarding clause 6, I should like an explanation as to” what the Government intends to do to protect any public servant of New South Wales who is dismissed or imprisoned because he has obeyed the instructions of his employers. Will this Government indemnify such a person? Why does it not leave the minnows and go after the trout? If Mr. Lang is responsible, why not arrest him, and make him face the music? If some other Minister or the Executive is responsible, why not proceed against that person or body, instead of against an individual, who is carrying out his lawful duties?
I cite this further example: Supposing that an election takes place in New South Wales, and another government is elected, what guarantee is there that it will re-employ men who were dismissed from the State service, because they obeyed the instructions of this Government? It may also happen that another government may be elected to the treasury bench of this Parliament, and that it will introduce further amendments to the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act as harmful to the then Government of New South Wales as these provisions are to Mr. Lang. How can any government guarantee to indemnify a person who is no longer in the State Government employment because of what has happened through his failure to obey an order given him while he was still a government employee? If a person disobeys an order of the head of his department, who received the order from the Government, and is sacked for so doing, what authority or power has this Government to help the man? An employee may be entitled to certain superannuation payment, long service leave, and the like, and he may be entitled to continue as a government employee, if his health permits, until he is 65 years of age. If such a man is dismissed under the circumstances to which this bill has regard, will the Commonwealth Government see that he loses none of his benefits for the unexpired period until he is 65 years of age? Will it be able to say what would happen if such a man committed a misdemeanour which would have justified his dismissal from the Public Service? A man who gives good honest service, and conducts himself in a proper way towards his employers, is entitled to such protection as it is possible for his employer to give him; but, if he disobeys his employer - as a public servant would do if he disobeyed an order of the head of his department - what redress will he have?
I want the Prime Minister to answer this definite question: How can a dismissed State public servant be indemnified against penalties incurred through his disobedience of orders from the State Government? If a person is dismissed for doing so, or even if he is temporarily suspended, is there any assurance that he will be subsequently re-employed, or that his suspension will be lifted if another government comes into office? If such a man is incarcerated in a prison for refusing to obey lawful orders, can this Government possibly compensate him adequately? Surely it must be recognized that persons who receive their pay from a certain authority must obey the orders given by that authority, or leave its employment. If it is legal for Commonwealth servants to obey Commonwealth laws, is it not also legal for State servants to obey State laws? If penalties follow the disobedience of the laws in either case, how can any satisfactory indemnity be provided ? I fail to see how any State employee can he recouped by the Commonwealth for losses which he will sustain for refusing to obey the orders which his superior officers give him.
The Government does not seem to realize that this enforcement legislation is having an unfortunate influence in other States than New South Wales. It is well to remember that two governments, those of the States of Victoria and Tasmania, were represented before the High Court when the validity of the original enforcement act was questioned. Statements made by Mr. Moore and Sir James Mitchell must surely be sufficient to cause the Government to realize that a considerable body of public opinion in both Queensland and Western Australia is also opposed to this legislation. In fairness to honorable members on both sides of the House, the Government should tell us definitely how it proposes to indemnify New South Wales Government employees against loss of employment, or other losses or penalties which may fall upon them if they disobey the orders of the State Government. It must be apparent that the interests of all State public servants will be implicated who refuse to do something which is regarded as defending the interests of the authority which employs and pays them.
. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber must agree with the principles underlying clauses 5 and 6 of this bill; but there is undoubtedly a general feeling that clause 6 does not go far enough in protecting the public servants of New South Wales who may suffer through the proper performance of orders given to them pursuant to this emergency legislation. The mere imposition of a penalty of £100 on any person who may dismiss an officer, or take any other action injurious to his welfare, because of his performance of duties under the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act, is not enough. It is provided that the amount of this penalty may be awarded to the officer. That provision is, perhaps, worse than none at all, because it implies that this is the only compensation which is likely to be made to an officer, who may be dismissed from his employment.
– And is that not the fact?
– The provision of that compensation negatives the idea, or promise, that there will be additional com- pensation. It is in the interests of this Government to give every encouragement to the officers of the New South Wales Government to carry out orders given to them pursuant to this legislation. The prospect of dismissal is very serious to a public servant who has behind him a long record, and is approaching retirement, for it may jeopardize his superannuation, long service leave, and other rights. If a State officer is given an order by the Commonwealth authority and a different order by a State authority which carries a threat of dismissal or other punishment for disobedience, he is certainly placed in a most invidious: position. Clause 6 does not go far enough. If we want the officers of the New South Wales Government to carry out our law, we must indemnify them effectively against loss.
– The Commonwealth cannot give men back their State jobs.
– That is so ; it can only give them compensation for losses. There are many reasons why it cannot replace a man in his job. If a man is dismissed from the Public Service, some one else is appointed in his place. There is usually a step up right through the Service if the dismissed officer is in a high position. The men who are thus promoted get vested interests in their new positions. If the dismissed officer is afterwards reinstated in the Service, every officer who has to step down to the position which he formerly occupied feels that he has a right to special consideration. It will be seen, therefore, that many difficulties are likely to arise. I hope that the Government will reconsider this clause, and, if necessary, adjourn the debate so that it may ascertain what other steps can be taken to protect adequately the position of New South Wales officers who may be affected by carrying out orders based on the provisions of this legislation.
.- This is the fourth attempt that has been made to improve a legal enactment which was heralded within this House as the most perfect piece of draftsmanship that had yet come before the Parliament. We were assured that the provisions of the original bill would enable the Commonwealth Government to deal effectively with the New South Wales Government. But a careful perusal of the provisions of this measure would lead a person without knowledge as to how it was introduced to believe that it was drafted by the Opposition, for practically every clause in it is designed to enable the Commonwealth Government to retrace the steps it has taken along a course which it was warned against taking. Almost every provision of the bill is designed to enable the Government to get out of a difficulty into which the original Financial Agreements Enforcement Act led it. It was said when the original measure was introduced that it was a master piece of draftsmanship, and the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) was eulogized for having devised such a means of meeting the situation which faced the Government. Yet almost every week since then, and sometimes more than once a week, we have been called upon to consider proposals for tightening up certain provisions of the measure and loosening others.
– It has made Mr. Lang squeal.
– Not at all. “When the Government led us to believe that it was highly delighted with the provisions of the original bill, honorable members opposite blew many bubbles in telling how they would deal with the Premier of New South Wales. Since then the enthusiasm of even the most ardent Government supporters has disappeared, for bubble after bubble has burst. A situation which was almost humorous arose this afternoon when the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) told us that the justification for clause 5 of this bill was that it would prevent the Government of -New South Wales from saying unkind things about this Government. The State Government has alleged that this Government is responsible for the withholding of certain payments, and the naughty Premier of New South Wales must be prevented, so we are told, from saying such things about this Government. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart) said that the object of this bill was to counteract the propaganda of the members of the Lang party in the country districts of New South Wales; but he cannot get away with statements of that kind. This Government was warned when the original financial agreements enforcement legislation was introduced that it would be dangerous to seize the bank deposits held in the name of the New South Wales Government. It was also warned that much of the money so held consisted of trust funds which were not the property of the State Government. A good deal was also said about the possible -results of the seizure of such funds from the banks. All these warnings were ignored; but the justification for them is to be found in the provisions of this amending bill. The Prime Minister told us that only £8,000 had been received from the banks of New South Wales, but not even he could tell us to whom the £8,000 really belonged. The honorable gentleman also said thai £85,000 was still held by the banks, which would not pay the money to either the State Government or the Commonwealth Government.
– And the State Government will not pay widows’ pensions-
– Or child endowment.
– I must ask honorable members to cease interjecting. Interjections naturally provoke replies from the honorable member who is addressing the Chair, and are most disorderly. I ask Ministers on the front bench to set an example to the House by not interjecting.
– The Commonwealth Government was warned when it first set out on its present policy of persecuting the New South Wales Government, that all the moneys which came into the hands of the State Government were paid into the Colonial Treasurer’s account in the banks.
– Where they were mixed up with other moneys !
– The moneys <*f the New South Wales Government have b.een mixed up for many years, and the responsibility for that cannot be laid at the door of either Nationalist or Labour governments. All State moneys have for many years been banked in one account.
– Lang should have known better !
– This Government should have known better. When the original financial agreements enforcement legislation was introduced, the Commonwealth Government asserted that it would be able to dissect the deposits held hy the banks for the New South Wales Government. If it had then known aa much about the State accounts as it knows now, it would have realized that it was utterly impossible to dissect these moneys. It has been said that the Government of New South Wales could have found means of making payments to widows, child endowment claimants, and others from whom payment has been withheld. I do not propose to anticipate anything which the Premier of New South Wales might’ say, but I am prepared to state that, before the end of the present week, this Parliament, and the people of New South Wales, will be furnished with indisputable proof that the Government of New South Wales- could not have attempted to pay those moneys without their having been seized by the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, the bankers of the New South Wales Government warned that Government that the ordinary facilities for payment were no longer available.
– I do not believe it.
– Whether the honorable member believes it or not, the truth will be forced upon him before very long. I do not propose to discuss here the points raised by honorable members regarding the robbing of hungry men and women. What we have to remember is that the ordinary banking facilities, by means of which these persons ordinarily received their money, were withdrawn. This week, whether the amending bill now before us is carried or not, facilities will be created by legislation passed through the Parliament of New South Wales, to enable the payments to be made; and this will be done no matter what action is taken by the Commonwealth Government or by the banks.
In regard to this enforcement legislation, the Commonwealth Government is constantly shifting its position. ‘ When the original bill was brought before Parliament, its sponsors claimed that it would be an effective weapon against the State of New South Wales. The Government has since discovered that’ it blundered in some respects, and has sought to retrace its steps. In its attempt to protect State servants against victimization, it has taken on a very difficult task. No New South Wales public servant has been dismissed up to date as a result of this legislation; none has even been threatened with dismissal. Realizing the loyalty of the State servants of New South Wales, the Commonwealth Government is seeking to extricate itself from a desperate position by bribing them to take its side with an offer to share with them the fines imposed upon any one who attempts to victimize them. When the Government sets out to prove victimization, it will find itself up against the toughest job it has undertaken up to date. It is an extraordinarily difficult thing to prove victimization. Those of us who have had experience of industrial affairs, know just how difficult it is. Clause 6 of the bill purports to afford State servants protection against victimization, but even the Government’s own supporters recognize how ineffective that protection will be. Under the industrial laws, it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove victimization, but sub-clause 2, of clause 6, throws the onus on the defendant to prove that he was not actuated by the reasons alleged in the charge. By this provision, the Government is likely to stir up a hornet’s nest about its ears. Every one knows that State servants are dismissed from time to time for a variety of reasons. After (his bill becomes law, every man dismissed from the Government service in New South Wales will allege that his dismissal was in some way associated with the enforcement legislation, and will approach the Commonwealth Government to take action on his behalf. He may not really believe that he has been victimized, but’ he will have a rough shot at getting back his job by pleading victimization. If the onus of proof were thrown on the plaintiff, the Commonwealth Government would protect itself against impositions- of this sort.
Sub-clause 3 provides that the fine collected for a breach of this clause may be paid to the person injured by the offence. I cannot see the purpose of this provision, because, if a man who has been dismissed gets his job back, which must be the case if the measure is to be effective, where is the need for distributing cash? Moreover, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) pointed out, if 50 or 100 men are dismissed, the amount which each will receive out of the fine imposed on the man who dismisses them, will not be of much use. Probably the Government believes that the promise of a small cash consideration as a solatium for their trouble may induce State public servants to deviate from their loyalty to thi? Government which, after all, provides them with their livelihood.
Our group supports the first five clauses of the bill, because we regard their introduction as a justification of the criticism we levelled against the earlier instalment of this legislation. We criticised the Government’s proposal to attach railway revenue, and so just was that criticism, apparently, that, although the act has been proclaimed, no steps have so far been taken to collect the money. This experience should induce the Government to lend a more attentive ear to criticism emanating from this side of the House, and, if necessary, to remodel its legislation in the light of such criticism. This would save it the necessity of making, as now, a sort of i deathbed repentance, and restoring money, the seizure of which has occasioned much inconvenience, and some suffering to innocent persons.
– That is mere pretence.
– The honorable member may think so, but if he were dependent for his bread and butter upon a pension, he might hold a different opinion.
– The Government of New South Wales could have paid the pensions in the same way as it paid the school teachers.
– Our group cannot support clause 6, because its effect will be to bring the State servants into the fight between the Commonwealth and State Governments. Last week the Commonwealth Government threatened State servants with penalties if they did not carry out its wishes ; this week it promises them protection and cash rewards if they do carry out those wishes. So far nothing has happened to indicate that any one will need protection. The Commonwealth Government is assuming that Mr. Lang will sack men, but, as a matter of fact, that is the last thing he will do. All along the Government has been assuming that Mr. Lang would do certain things, and it has taken measures to forestall him. Then Mr. Lang has done something different; he has dodged the Commonwealth Government all along. This alleged protection which clause 6 is to confer is quite worthless.
Sir LITTLETON groom (Darling Downs) [4.47]. - It is very gratifying to find that the clauses of this bill up to and including clause 5 receive the support of the extreme corner party. Many honorable members have failed to appreciate the real purpose of clause 8. They have spoken as if the provision were intended to be a sort of compensation to State officers who suffered dismissal by reason of their compliance with Commonwealth law. We have passed several enforcement bills requiring State public servants to fulfil certain duties under Commonwealth law, and to obey certain directions regarding the payment of moneys. If such action had not been taken, this legislation for the purpose of enforcing the financial agreements, would, to a great extent, have been inoperative. The object of clause 6 is to prevent anyone from interfering with State officers in the performance of duties imposed on them under the enforcement legislation,
– Sub-clause 3 goes further than that.
– I shall deal with that presently. What’ I have stated is the main purpose of the clause: sub-clause 3 is subsidiary. The intention of the clause is to impose penalties upon those persons who penalize State servants for performing duties imposed on them by the paramount law of the Commonwealth. The main purpose of the clause is to lay down the principle that, if any person, no matter what position he occupies, interferes with a public servant of a State in the performance of a duty imposed on him by the Commonwealth, he shall be liable under Commonwealth law. Thus the object is. not to compensate . public servants for injury they may suffer, but to prevent them from being deprived of their office for complying with Commonwealth law. Ought we to impose that liability upon State servants? The decision of the High Court in respect of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act makes it perfectly clear that the duty to obey the law lies upon State Ministers and public servants just as much as it does upon
Commonwealth Ministers and public servants, and if a State Minister or public servant attempts to evade the Commonwealth law he should be made liable to the penalty for the offence. That is the principle contained in this bill, but incidentally this measure contemplates the adoption of a provision similar to that in the Arbitration Act, under which where a penalty is imposed for a certain offence against the industrial laws it may be paid by way of compensation to the person injured. But the real object of thatlegislation was, not to provide compensation, but to impose a penalty for a certain offence. It is only right that this compensation should be paid to the person injured from the amount of the penalty imposed for the offence. But the provision of compensation is not the object and purpose of this clause. lt is perfectly clear that the Commonwealth cannot undertake to compensate every person who suffers wrongfully by reason of any action of the Premier of New South Wales, or of any officer in the employ of the State Government in his effort to resist Commonwealth legislation.
– The injured person has the right to take action against the State Government for compensation.
– That may be so; but it is perfectly clear that the Commonwealth cannot undertake to reinstate in employment all those persons who have been dismissed by the State Government, or to say that they are entitled to compensation and all the benefits and privileges of employment in the State Public Service. If an officer suffers wrongfully at the hands of the Premier of New South Wales, the offender - the State Premier - should be brought to book. I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) that we are unfortunately living in an atmosphere of party politics, and that when a man is loyal to one government he is sometimes regarded as disloyal by a subsequent administration. That is entirely wrong. No one could justify such a method of victimization, whether it is cloaked under some party shibboleth or not. The victimization of a man for performing his duty is wrong in principle. Under this legis lation, if a man is victimized, a penalty is imposed for the offence. But it is hardly within the competence of the Commonwealth to say that a man shall be reinstated in his employment, or be entitled io the rights and privileges of the State service. The only other form of compensation is by indemnity.
– That would absorb more than the whole of the State moneys attached by the Commonwealth.
– The officers who will be affected by clause 6 will not be a multitude in lowly paid positions, but certain officers holding responsible and highly paid positions. Their dismissal would be a serious matter to both the State and the Commonwealth, because the compensation ‘for wrongful dismissal as fixed by a court of law would represent a considerable sum.
– The honorable member is anticipating that the State officers will break the Commonwealth law.
– I am not anticipating that, but it is our duty to take every precaution to make the position of the Commonwealth safe. If the need for enforcing this law does not arise no harm will be done. We should support the measure. The conflict between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth has been in existence for some time, and I appeal to honorable members who support the Lang plan to persuade the Premier of New South Wales to honour his obligations. His present attitude is causing anxiety to the other States. Only the other day, an appeal was made by one of the highest church dignitaries of Brisbane for the cessation of the strife between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. If that State continues its present methods the solvency of the other States must be impaired, and we cannot contemplate that with indifference. I ask honorable members opposite to appeal to Mr. Lang.
– The honorable member should appeal to the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister has appealed to Mr. Lang to honour his obligations, and to fulfil the honorable undertaking which was entered into between the Commonwealth and the various States. “We, who represent the other States, take the view, not of the State, but of Australia as a whole. We know the position into which this country is drifting, and the disastrous effect which the refusal on the part of New SouthWales to honour its obligations is having upon Australia. The evil is becoming intensified. One thing is obvious : The great and wealthy State of New SouthWales cannot expect the other States to bear its obligations, and it should be prepared to do its part. I hope that this will be the last measure of its kind which it will be necessary to introduce into this House, and that the Government will be prepared to recognize the paramount power of the Commonwealth, and the responsibility that it owes to the people of Australia generally.
.- One honorable member referred to the position existing in New South “Wales as a plague. It is just as well that a real plague is not sweeping throughout New SouthWales, because if the attempt of the Federal Government to combat it were comparable with its attempt to bring the Premier of New South “Wales into line with the Premiers of the other States, the people of New SouthWales would be wiped out of existence. This legislation has, from the outset, been a piece of bluff. During the federal election, it was a popular cry that if the United Australia party were returned to office, Mr. Lang would be compelled to stand to his obligations, and that the moneys owed to the Commonwealth by that State would be recovered.
– This bill is in redemption of that promise.
– It is a poor attempt at redemption.
– It is a better attempt than that made by the Scullin Government.
– The legislation introduced by this Government has failed to return to it the moneys due by New South Wales. What has the Commonwealth obtained by attaching the revenue from totalizators and stamp duties? The Government of New South Wales has, at every turn, forestalled the Federal Government. The existing position is unfair to the people of New South Wales.
– It is hard for us to think crookedly enough in order to forestall a crooked government.
– The interjection shows the spirit of hatred which the members of the United Australia party bear towards the Government of New South Wales, and which, if persisted in, will ultimately wreck, not only New South Wales, but every other State in the Commonwealth.
– Can the honorable member put forward an alternative scheme?
– The alternative is to cut, not at the bottom, but at the top of the tree, because by cutting at the bottom we destroy the roots. The Commonwealth Government, in the collection of State revenue, should attack the men who are responsible for revenues, and not the railway porter. Some people think that the Federal Government is not game to face the position. When the Government of New South Wales continued to disobey a Commonwealth law, which the High Court had declared valid, the duty of the Commonwealth Government was to take action against the Ministers responsible, and not against the servants of those Ministers. But the Government has dodged that issue; meanwhile public affairs have drifted, one section of the people of New South Wales is organizing against another section, and the danger of civil turmoil is daily increasing. Instead of restoring confidence as honorable members opposite promised to do, they are destroying it. This bill is not another step forward ; it is a retreat forced by Mr. Lang. A member of the New South Wales Ministry, speaking through broadcasting station 2KY last night, said -
The State Government also deposited sufficent money in the Commonwealth Bank to pay widows’ pensions, but because all the widows entitled to pensions did not call for it in time, the unpaid balance passed into the possession of the Commonwealth Government. This was admitted by the Commonwealth Bank in an official statement to the press.
– That refers to only £150 of a total of £20,000.
– The statement that the Commonwealth Government has deprived widows and orphans of their allowances has not been answered by honorable members supporting the Government. Reference has been made to trust funds, but contributions to superannuation funds are not placed in a trust account; they are credited to the general account of the State, upon which the Government operates for the payment of superannuation, child endowment, and widows’ pensions. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has pointed out that the amounts due to pensioners cannot be separated from the general banking account of the New South Wales Government. This bill is the first indication that the Commonwealth Government is retracing its steps. It is about to surrender amounts which it has attached, but which it said had not been attached. It is clear that the intention behind all this enforcement legislation is not the collection of moneys due by New South Wales to the Commonwealth, but tha destruction of a State Government elected by the people only eighteen months ago. The electors of New South Wales have the same rights as the electors of any other State or the Commonwealth to put in office a government to administer public affairs for three years. This bill would have the support of every honorable member if clause 6 were amended to protect those officers who are most likely to suffer through the endeavour to attach the revenue of the State. Speaking on the third enforcement bill, I contrasted the treatment of the taxpayer with that of State servants. A taxpayer who pays State taxes to the Commonwealth is indemnified against prosecution or other penalties that might be proposed by the State Government. But if a railway servant pays State revenue to the Commonwealth in disobedience of the instructions of those who pay his salary, he can be dealt with by the head of his department, the Minister for Railways. The ministerial head who instructs an officer not to pay moneys to the Commonwealth, not the officer who obeys that instruction, should be held responsible for any breach of the law. Stationmasters throughout New South Wales send their cash regularly to the head office to be banked. That is in accordance with the instructions of their superior officers. Every man who disobeys that instruction is liable to dismissal. Railway servant’s are entitled, after fifteen years’ service, to four months’ leave, and after twenty years’ service, te six months’ leave; they enjoy also annual holidays and free passes over the railways. Men who are dismissed for disobedience of the instructions of their superiors, will lose their accrued rights and privileges. The maximum fine provided in this enforcement legislation is £100, and the bill proposes that the whole or part of any pecuniary penalty collected under clause 6 may be paid to the person injured, by the offence - say, the dismissed railway officer. But, if a large number of stationmasters and porters pay State revenues to the Commonwealth, and for that are dismissed from the Service, the division amongst them of the £100 collected from the superior who sacked them may not yield 2s. to each. This bill does not indemnify them against punishment for disobedience of the instructions of their departmental heads. If the Government really desires to protect them it will agree to an amendment to provide for their reinstatement and for the preservation of their rights and privileges under the Railways Act. That is all that is necessary to make clause 6 satisfactory. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), however, objects that the cost to the Commonwealth would be excessive. Certainly the cost would be more than the Commonwealth is likely to get from Mr. Lang in ten years, at the present rate of collection. A stage has been reached when the Commonwealth must realize that i-t is losing the fight, and must devise other methods. The Government of New South Wales, also, will have to recognize that, whilst it may struggle along in defiance of Commonwealth law, the position of the people of New South Wales is not being improved. Apparently, the Government is not game to take drastic action against responsible State Ministers, and it is threatening to prosecute subordinates who are not responsible for any repudiation of which the State Government may have been guilty.
– Why is the honorable member so anxious :to put Mr. Lang in gaol?
– Remembering how the honorable member dodged a division on the tobacco duties lest he might have to vote against the Government, I can well believe that, if his courage is a. criterion of that of his colleagues, the Commonwealth Government will be continually retreating, and will not collect its dues from Mr. Lang in 50 years. I ask the Government not to persist in a course of action that will create chaos in the public affairs of New South Wales. The recent disclosures in regard to the New Guard indicate the dangers of the present policy. Legislation such as this is what Communists live and fatten on. Having failed to compel Mr. Lang to honour his obligations, the Commonwealth Government should admit the futility of the measures it has adopted. It has deferred so long drastic action against the real offenders who are in authority in the State, that it has no chance of collecting any substantial amount of money from the Government of New South Wales. It should, therefore, try another method for the sake of the suffering people. Australians have adopted the principles of conciliation and arbitration, and the present dispute affords an opportunity for their employment,with probable benefit to the Commonwealth Government and the people of New South Wales.
– I must confess my inability to follow the arguments of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), or discern in them any relation to this bill. I am equally at a loss to discover in the bill any causefor the amusement of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), in regard to it. Their speeches have certainly not enlightened me on that score.
It was suggested by the honorable member for Kennedy that this is a retreat by the Government from previous steps that it has taken. Actually the bill is an endeavour to compel a government and a premier to be honest, and to observe the usual tenets of decent citizenship. It seeks to force Mr. Lang to honour his contractual obligations rather than inflict upon the citizens of States other than New South Wales the task of paying the debts of a relatively wealthy community.
The measure is designed to clarify the position, and make it abundantly clear, even to the obtuse conceptions of certain honorable members opposite, why this procedure is being taken. There has been a good deal of misconception, principally on the part of supporters of Mr. Lang in this chamber, as to disposition of certain trust funds that are not now available to those who are entitled to them. Who is responsible for that state of affairs? The Prime Minister told us that up to yesterday the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney and the Bank of New South Wales - the private banking institutions with which the State Government transacts business - have paid some £8,000 under the provisions of the Financial Agreements Emergency Bill. It is well known that those banks hold in trust moneys something like £85,000, an amount that stood at more than £400,000 a very short time ago. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Dalley, these trust funds are banked in the name of the Colonial Treasurer. It is clear that that £400,000 is not in those banks to-day. It and other money, which aggregated £1,000,000, were removed in suitcases by Mr. Lang and his myrmidons. I draw public attention to the extraordinary position that people who relied upon the Government of New South Wales to protect their estates have had their moneys taken from the banks by Mr. Lang, the present Colonial Treasurer, who is using their funds for other purposes.
– It is a gross abuse of trust.
– Yes, one of the greatest abuses of trust that can be laid at the door of any man or administration. Yet certain honorable members opposite defend the nefarious and dishonest practices of Mr. Lang. Let me deal with the position of the Public Trustee of New South Wales, a man who is in charge of the estates of deceased persons, and who administers funds belonging to thousands of widows and children. Those funds are banked in the name of the Colonial Treasurer. Where are they now? They have been carried away in suitcases by the person who is masquerading as the Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales. That individual is defying the law of the land, and is being aided and abetted by the speeches and actions of honorable members in the corner group.
Goodness knows what the Public Trustee of New SouthWales is now doing with any moneys he receives. Perhaps he is putting them away in safe deposit. Is that the way in which a person with such great responsibility should be forced to act? Surely it is the duty of the Premier of New South “Wales to see that the laws, whichso intimately affect citizens, are obeyed. There must be some power in the Constitution that compels even the Premier of a State to comply with the laws of the land and that will restrain him from breaking them.
This measure, which honorable members in the corner group claim has excited their risibility, merely makes clear the fact that the funds earmarked for widows’ pensions and child endowment have never been interfered with by the Commonwealth Government. That canard originated in the minds of the supporters of Mr. Lang and is typical of the contemptible propaganda that such people resort to in order to make political capital against the Federal Government. Mr. Lang was notified that if his Government; would pay the necessary money into the Commonwealth Bank, together with a list of the pensioners concerned, it would be distributed by that institution. That Mr. Lang declined to do. He prefers to let the widows and children go hungry, and resorts to the contemptible device of deluding the people in an endeavour to make them believe that the money has been attached by the Commonwealth Government.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) sees no objection, to any of the first five clauses in this measure, and I gather from the discursive remarks of honorable members in the corner group that that is also their attitude. Those honorable members ask “ why all these amendments to the principal act?” The honorable member for Dalley (Mr.Rosevear) stated that when the Financial Agreements Emergency Bill was originally passed, generous encomiums were paid to the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) for the able manner in which he had drafted the legislation, which has since successfully run the gauntlet of the highest court in the land. Those encomiums were well deserved, for the measure is a monument to the great skill and legal ability of the present AttorneyGeneral. That gentleman declared that the measure was valid. Mr. Lang and his loud-mouthed champions declared that it was invalid. “We know who is right. Mr. Lang said the same thing with regard to the Loan Council and declared that he would smash it. To-day the Loan Council is smashing him. He said that he would obtain millions of money from abroad. He is unable to get threepence anywhere. Yet he can. still delude certain people, who follow him as though he could lead them into another land of Canaan; the man who has pursued the most dishonest public policy ever known in the history of the country.
The repudiation of debts is not new. It was advocated as far back as the days of the Duke ofWellington, following the American war. For centuries it has been espoused by every unworthy section in the community. To-day human nature is no different from what it then was. We still have in, our midst unworthy sections who refuse to meet their obligations, preferring dishonest to honest courses, for that is the only way in which the Lang policy of theft can be adequately described. Honorable members in the corner group chuckle and grin, and declare that every method employed by this Government to preserve the integrity of the nation will fail. If this Parliament admitted the correctness of such an attitude we should be proved a lot of craven curs. Thank God that point of view is confined to a very small section in this chamber.
I come now to clause6 of the bill, which deals with the public servants of New South Wales, The Public Service of Australia is on. as high a footing as that of any country in the world. Our public servants, when left alone, conscientiously discharge their duties; but it is a different thing when a venal government seeks to get them to do things which they should not do, and which they know they should not do. There are highlypaid public servants in New South Wales to-day, who are honorably discharging their statutory obligations under federal law. They have refused to be made the tools of Mr. Langto carry out the Lang policy, and they are entitled to the protection of this Government in their efforts to do conscientiously what they believe to be right. But there ure other State public servants of whom that cannot be said. These arc the exceptions to the rule. Certain circulars are being sent out through public departments in New South Wales over the signatures of State public servants which accuse the Lyons Government of discrimination against State citizens. These circulars, which consist of a series of absolute untruths, ure being signed by weak-kneed public officers at the instigation of their ministerial heads, because those gentlemen have not the courage to take the responsibility upon themselves, but in a most miserable and contemptible fashion are putting it on to the shoulders of the public servants of the State. In these circulars it is stated that certain payments are not being made, because of actions taken by the Lyons Government. What right has any Minister of the Crown to ask a public servant to sign a circular in which an attack is made upon a government? If the ministerial heads responsible for the despatch of these circulars had any courage or decency they would themselves sign the circulars, and not ask public servants to do so, for they would know that these public officers are pledged to do their duty to the whole community, and should not serve any political party or become partisans of any government. I can imagine the howl that would go up to the heavens from some honorable members opposite if public servants signed such circulars at the request of a Minister in the United Australia Party Government. In such circumstances no words could be found strong enough to condemn this kind of thing; yet to-day the same gentlemen applaud their champion for such conduct.
The object of this bill was lucidly stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom). The position to me is abundantly clear. The men who are fulfilling their statutory obligations in the Public Service of New South Wales deserve the protection of this Parliament. Those gentlemen, having been entrusted with the performance of certain
Commonwealth duties, should be allowed to do their work conscientiously and without interference; and they should not be expected to do the work of Mr. Lang and his party. While I have nothing but praise for the State public servants who are doing their work conscientiously, and shall do my utmost to uphold their hands, I have nothing but the profoundest dissatisfaction with other officers of the Service who are prepared without either struggle or protest to do what Mr. Lang asks them to do, even though it be, to their knowledge, entirely wrong and dishonest.
The whole purpose of this financial agreements . enforcement legislation is to compel the New South Wales Government to meet its obligations. Certain moneys -borrowed for New South Wales have been spent on public works within the borders of that State, and the Government has agreed to pay interest on the loans at certain rates. If this interest is not paid it is not a few wealthy people on the other side of the world who will suffer, but women and children of slender means, who, like many of the wageearning community in this country, have invested their hard-earned money in government securities. The validity of this legislation has been upheld by the High Court.
– The Minister has already told us that. Let us hear some other explanation.
– I have given the honorable member the correct explanation, but I was not sure that it had penetrated his skull. It is for that reason that I am reminding him that the High Court has declared this legislation to be valid. The Government is taking these steps, and it will take any other steps that it can to ensure that the obligations of the New South Wales Government will be met. One thing stands out in this business like the peak of a mountain-
– And that is that the women and children are suffering.
– Order !
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.It is that the Government is deter.mined to use all the resources of this Parliament to compel the New South
Wales Government to honour its obligations, to cease the dishonest and dishonorable course which it is pursuing, and to return to the straight and honest way of paying its debts.
Mr. BEEN ABD CORSER (“Wide Bay) 5.44] . - One would suppose that the honorable members who are opposing this bill–
– Has the honorable member for “Wide Bay joined the Government ?
– I have not; but would far rather join the Government than support Lang, as the honorable member is. doing. I was about to say that one would suppose that honorable members of the second Labour party, who are supporting Mr. Lang in resisting the legislation which the Commonwealth Parliament has passed, have forgotten the interests of the other States of the Commonwealth. Surely they have overlooked the title of this bill, which is the Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill. It is tragic that in a British country it has become necessary to introduce legislation to compel a government to curry out an agreement to which it is a party. One would imagine that this legislation was something other than an attempt to endeavour to ensure the carrying out of an agreement. It has been said that the Commonwealth Government is endeavouring to harass one State only; but honorable members who say that must surely forget that this State, like all the other States of the Commonwealth, is a party to the Financial Agreement. The other States have met their obligations under the agreement. The people of Queensland have been sorely taxed in order that their obligations may be honoured, and so have the people of other States. In pursuing its present policy in respect of New South “Wales, the Commonwealth Government is acting in the best interests of the people of the whole Commonwealth. The people of the other States, like the people of New South Wales, are expected to provide funds for the relief of unemployment, and for the assistance of the sick and distressed within their borders, and they are doing so and yet meeting their obligations under the
Financial Agreement. Surely the fact that so many honorable members who represent New South Wales constituencies in this Parliament are supporting- this bill should be evidence enough to convince the electors of that State of the justice of it. As a representative of Queensland, I feel that it is my duty to support the Commonwealth Government in its present policy, for I am sure that the interests of the people of Queensland, like the interests of the people of other States, will suffer severely if the political ideals of Mr. Lang are allowed to go unchallenged. That gentleman is endeavouring to wreck not only his own. State, but also the Commonwealth itself. He has evidently set out to destroy constitutional government. If his policy succeeds the whole edifice of the Commonwealth will crumble. Mr. Lang is endeavouring, by Acts of Parliament, and by every other means in his power, to obstruct the Commonwealth Government in the performance of its duties; and he is encouraging the citizens of that State to break its laws.
The provisions of clause 6 of this bill are designed to protect the public servants of New South Wales who carry out their duties under Commonwealth law. Nothing unfair is being done to the public servants of that State; on the contrary, everything possible is being done to protect them. I wish to make it quite clear that, in supporting this bill, I amnot acting with the object of bringing about the downfall of the Lang Government. That Government was elected by the votes of the people of that State, and it should remain in office until it is defeated by the votes of the people. The longer it remains there the better it will be, for the people will be so sick of the flapdoodle of Mr. Lang, and of his failure to fulfil his election promises, that they will turn the Government out neck and crop. Still, I am of the opinion that the Government should not be turned out except upon the votes of the people.
– And the election will be in about eighteen months’ time.
– The honorable member apparently thinks that it will take the people of New South Wales a long time to see the light. Mr. Lang is endeavouring to bluff the people of Australia, and if he succeeds in doing so it will be a sorry day for the Commonwealth. He is breaking all the rules of parliamentary etiquette, putting aside all the requirements of constitutional government, and endeavouring to set up a dictatorship. His Ministry is not a real ministry, and his followers are blindly going wherever he leads them. In introducing measures of this kind the Prime Minister is carrying out the mandate given him by the people. It was never expected that any responsible government would refuse to honour an agreement which it had made with other governments, and in endeavouring to compel that Government to meet its obligations the Prime Minister and his colleagues are acting fearlessly. I am glad that they are not being turned aside by any innuendoes or unjustifiable criticism of their motives. The Prime Minister deserves the commendation of every citizen of the Commonwealth, and of New South Wales for the steps that he has taken, and I think that every member of the United Australia party, the Country party and the Labour party should unite with him in this effort to ensure the fulfilment of an agreement made with the full approval of all the State Governments and of the people of Australia expressed by their votes at a referendum. There should be only one policy for the people of New South Wales, namely, to rid the State of an individual who attempts to go beyond the limits of constitutional government, and to rule by virtue of a mandate which he proclaims for himself. We do not want dictators in this country. Some honorable members have stated that the Commonwealth Government, through this enforcement legislation, is seeking to wrong the widows and orphans, and the unfortunate underpaid public servants. That is rubbish. I congratulate the Government for judiciously avoiding any action which might interfere with funds designed for the payment of the dole, for pensions, or for the upkeep of State services. Honorable members should npt be gulled by statements that pensions have been interfered with, and such statements come with poor grace from Mr. Lane’s supporters in this House, when we know that the Government of New South Wales has commandeered £500,000 of trust funds. The Commonwealth Government has been deluged by telegrams from the secretaries of various State public service organizations protesting against various phases of the enforcement legislation. It would seem that the persons responsible for those messages are less public servants than political partisans, and the Prime Minister would be wise to treat them as political opponents who are endeavouring to serve the interests of the Lang Government. They are trying to create, in the minds of the people the impression that the Commonwealth Government is doing something to injure pensioners, and the poorer sections of the community. I trust that the people of New South Wales will not be deceived by this propaganda. If there is any fear of their believing it, perhaps it would be a good thing if the elections in that State were deferred for a while. After the people have had a little more of what they have been getting, they might be in a proper frame of mind to deal intelligently with the Lang Government when they go to the poll.
It has been stated that the Commonwealth Government must have made mistakes in framing the enforcement legislation, because amending bills have occasionally been brought down.
– Occasionally !
– I remind honorable members that no civilized community has ever before had to deal with a situation such as this. If it has been necessary to bring down several amending bills, it should be remembered that the Commonwealth Government has to take action to counter the successive moves of Mr. Lang. Surely honorable members do not complain because this legislation proposes to protect State servants. It certainly does not appear that the Commonwealth Government desires to do anything contrary to the interests of State servants.
– How will this measure protect them?
– They will be protected by Commonwealth law. The wording of the clause is clear. In any case, if the honor able member feels that the clause is not sufficiently binding, let him introduce an amendment to give State servants the protection to which he thinks -they are entitled.
The supporters of Mr. Lang who denounce this legislation do not seem to think that it is necessary tq advance any arguments to justify their attitude. They think that, when they shout “-Lang is right !” they have said all that is necessary to justify their policy. They might just as well say that black is white. The one statement is about as true as the other.
– It would be more true to say that Lang is black.
– When I learned that the Commonwealth Government proposed to attach railway receipts in New South Wales, I was doubtful whether I could support its action.
– The honorable member voted with the Government when there were only three of us left on this side to oppose it.
– It is not proposed to commandeer any railway revenue required for working expenses, but only the surplus which should be devoted towards paying interest. Mr. Lang was quite content to open the Harbour Bridge, but he refuses to make available the. revenue from the bridge for paying interest on the cost of construction. Yet he complains because he is unable to borrow money for the relief of unemployment. The other States are able to raise money for this purpose, but the unemployed in New South Wales are to receive no relief except such as is provided by the Commonwealth Government.
– The honorable member is straying from the subject-matter of the bill.
– I hope that it may be practicable to introduce legislation to protect trust funds in New South Wales against seizure by the Government of that State.
– It is too late. Mr. Lang has already mopped them up.
– That may be so; but, if it is possible to do anything to protect the people of New South Wales against such action, it should be done. Mr. Lang’s supporters in this House first objected to the enforcement legislation on the ground that it was unconstitutional. Since then the highest tribunal in the land has declared that the legislation is constitutional, and that the Commonwealth has power to do what it has set out to do, Mr. Lang’s supporters have changed their ground, and are now opposing the legislation on the ground that they are fighting for the under-dog.
– The High Court’s decision was not unanimous.
– In the circumstances, that was not to be expected. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) seems to be out of step with his own party in his opposition to this legislation. I do not believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) really wishes the enforcement measures to fail. He opposed the legislation on principle, but he is as anxious as the Government is that the Commonwealth should recover the money due to it. In supporting this legislation, I am carrying out the wishes of the people of my State who have been deprived of a greater measure of unemployment relief because of the reckless extravagance of Mr. Lang. I trust that the Commonwealth will be successful in its efforts to recover the money due to it, and to force the Government of New South Wales to honour the agreement it signed. By its action, the Commonwealth Government is carrying out the desires of the people of Australia as a whole, and is proving to the world that we, as a nation, are prepared to honour our just obligations, and if possible, to reduce them, by honorable negotiation.
Question - That the bill bc now read a second time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Protection of State officers complying with Commonwealth laws).
– When the previous bill was before us, and the power of the Commonwealth to instruct certain State officers to act as its agents was being discussed, the suggestion was made by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) that some protection should be given to those officers in view of the possibility of injury being done to them by way of either dismissal or penalty. While the Government at that stage was not prepared to introduce an amendment giving effect to the suggestion, the promise was “made that the matter would be considered. That suggestion is now embodied in this clause. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) dealt with this subject so ably and clearly that I expected honorable members would be satisfied to accept this provision as offering the greatest measure of security that the Commonwealth could reasonably give to State public servants.
-Which is none.
– If that is so, then there is no protection in the provision for penalties for victimization in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which, as has been pointed out, is phrased in almost identical terms.
– How many cases have been won under the arbitration law?
– How many cases have been tested? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has said, that under this bill we are making State employees liable to new penalties. As a matter of fact persons who disobey the federal law, which is the paramount law, are subject to penalties under the existing act as it stands ; there is, therefore, nothing new in this bill in regard to penalties. We are simply trying, to the best of our ability, to prevent any penalty from being inflicted upon State public servants for doing a lawful act. To-day if they break the law - and the federal law is the only law in this regard - they are subject to a penalty, as they ought to be; but we wish to save them from being penalized for having observed the law. As the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has pointed out, the object of this clause is not to deal with the public servant who suffers as a result of acting lawfully, but to inflict a penalty upon the person who unjustly treats that officer for having obeyed the law. There is nothing further that we can do. We cannot establish the principle of indemnifying every individual who suffers, because he obeys the law of the laud. It would be utterly impossible to do that. But we are entitled to expect that State officers will obey the law. In the first place the State Government refused to meet its obligations, and, as a result, the Commonwealth had to meet them. This Parliament then carried certain legislation which has since been declared valid by the High Court. We are asking certain State officers to act according to that law, which is the only law of the Commonwealth dealing with the position as it exists in New South
Wales. If those officers obey the law, and, as a result, suffer some injustice, this legislation will enable us to impose a penalty on the person responsible for that injustice. I suggest that honorable members opposite are taking up a somewhat unreasonable attitude because the object of this clause is merely to carry out alaw of this Parliament.
– As a result of this legislation a State officer may lose his livelihood.
– In that case the responsibility would be upon the person who dismissed the State officer, and he would be dealt with according to the law of the land. Having considered the suggestion made not only by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman), but also by other honorable members who supported him, we are prepared to make this provision, which I hope will be accepted by the committee.
.- I agree that the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) gave a clear statement of the position. He clearly showed that” this bill is not intended to be a protection to State public servants. It provides for the imposition of a penalty upon certain State officers.
– Which will restrain them from breaking the Commonwealth law.
– The only protection is that compensation out of the amount of penalty imposed may be paid to those who are injured. It is true that a provision to that effect is contained in the Arbitration, Act, and that its phrasing is somewhat similar, but the position is not analogous. The fundamental objection to this clause is that it brings under penalties State public servants. The Prime Minister has said that there is nothing new in this provision because, under the principal act State public servants are already under penalty. Actually, however this is a new penalty, and that is why I object to it. The Government are, by this clause, putting the unfortunate officers of State departments in the position of having either to lose what they have considered to be a lifelong job, or suffer further penalties. The act provides a penalty in thecase of a State officer refusing to pay money to the Commonwealth when requisitioned to do so. Under this provision, if a State officer dismisses an employee under instruction from a superior officer, hie will be liable to a penalty. The scope of the penalty is being widened and no real compensation is being provided for the poor unfortunate man who may be dismissed. I object to this clause because it extends the penalties.
Sitting suspended from 6.18 to 8 p.m.
– Clauses 1 to 5 inclusive are necessary to prevent further chaos in New South Wales, and to allow certain social services to be continued, but I cannot support the clause now before the committee. I listened attentively to the legal arguments of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) and with sympathy to his appeal to honorable members to seek a more sane method of ending this internecine warfare. He made it clear that the Commonwealth Government cannot guarantee the re-employment of any State servant who may be dismissed or injured because of his obedience to Commonwealth law, and it follows logically, I suggest, that the Commonwealth Government cannot dismiss or cause to be dismissed any person who loyally obeys the instructions of the State Government in opposition to Commonwealth law. This bill is placing too severe a test upon the loyalty of the public servants of New South Wales. They are pledged to carry out the instructions of the Government that employs them, and if I were a public servant in New South Wales I should feel, regardless of the rights or wrongs of the dispute between governments, that my duty was to be loyal to the authority that employed me.
– Even to the extent of breaking the federal law ?
– That would not be my concern. I should feel an obligation to be loyal to my employer. I ask honorable members to consider seriously the nature of the ‘test to which they are subjecting the employees of the State Government. The test is economic rather than ethical. Oneman may have served ten or twenty years in the employ of the New South Wales Government and accumulated certain rights and privileges which he will enjoy on his retirement. Another man may have been in the service only five or six years, but is looking forward to a long period of employment under the Government. Both of these men have to make a decision which involves the whole of the economic future of themselves and their families. It is a bread and butter issue, and to ask either of them to obey the instructions of the Commonwealth Government, which cannot compensate them if they suffer, is to impose upon them too great a test.
– If a public servant were penalized for obeying the law would he not have redress in the courts?
– The Prime Minister has frankly stated that because it is a practical and financial impossibility he would only delude the State public servants if he suggested that the Commonwealth could compensate them for any loss they sustained through obedience to the federal law, contrary to the instructions of the authority that employs them. This legislation provides that a maximum fine of £100 may be imposed on any State departmental head who victimizes an officer for having loyally obeyed the instructions of the Commonwealth Government, and that all or portion of the fine may be paid to the injured person. As the honorable member for Darling Downs pointed out, the very insertion of that provision is an admission that the Commonwealth cannot indemnify State officers in any other way. Even if the maximum amount of £100 were available for the relief of a victimized officer it would weigh very little against ten or fifteen years prospective employment, or, in the case of an elderly man, accrued rights and superannuation. Honorable members may say that a man should decide which course is right and follow it, risking whatever sacrifices may be involved. It is all very well to say that the law of the Commonwealth is supreme and should be obeyed regardless of consequences, but a man who has dependants has to consider the economics as well as the ethics of the issue. Last week I urged recourse to the principles of conciliation and arbitration. That course has been recommended for the settlement of the latest differences between the United
Kingdom and the Irish Free State - both parts of the family of nations to which we belong. The Commonwealth and New South Wales also belong to the same family, and I endorse the appeal of the honorable member for Darling Downs to all governments in Australia to attempt to evolve a formula that will bring into existence an impartial tribunal big enough to handle the present dispute, and map out a system of repayments over a period of years which will enable New South Wales to put itself right with the other States and the Commonwealth. I believe the majority of the people would respond to that appeal.
– Would Lang?
– I anticipated that the suggestion, when first made, would produce such an interjection as came from the honorable member for Parramatta; but in the very near future increasing numbers of people will be echoing the proposal, and those who now scorn it will be ready to give serious consideration to it. Not because I desire to see either government beaten, but because I am a loyal Australian, I want this trouble settled by agreement. If the fight be continued with the will on each side to win, the Commonwealth Government cannot be expected to bend the knee, nor in the present state of public feeling can the New “South Wales Government be expected to do so. In the meantime, consider what is happening to the Australian people. I am delighted that the Government introduced clauses 1 to 5 - doubtless because it had to do so in order to avoid chaos in the banking system of New South Wales.
– The honorable member says that he is delighted with these clauses, but he voted against the secondreading of the bill.
– I voted against the second reading because of clause 6; but my leader and I supported the preceding clauses. Clause 6 is impracticable. I agree with the Minister for the Interior that it does not represent a retreat by the Commonwealth Government. I consider that it is another step forward in the direction of further chaos and turmoil. As I stated last week both sides have burned their boats, and there is no hope of retreat. Because that is my opinion I shall vote against the clause.
– It appears to me that the only controversial point in connexion with this clause is that relating to the compensation which may be paid to any public servant affected by the operation of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act. Honorable members of the Opposition declare that clause 6 is worthless, and allege that it cannot be made operative. I take it that there is no disputing the wisdom of the proposal of the Government to try to protect State public servants who may be penalized in this matter. The point at issue apparently is what steps are to be taken to protect the interests of those public servants. The Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) practically agreed with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that the clause as it stands will be difficult to operate, as any penalties might be uncollectable, and therefore could not be transferred to the State officer concerned. I believe that that difficulty can be overcome. I also do not agree that this bill represents a retreat. It is really a more concentrated attack. The efficacy of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act is proved by the frenzied preparations that are now being made by Mr. Lang and his followers for a State election.
– Will the honorable member keep his promise and resign if Mr. Lang is returned ?
– I stated that if the people whom I represent in this chamber support the Lang Plan with their votes, I shall bo ashamed to repre: sent thom any longer, and will be content, lo resign. I agree with the Leader of the Country party that this clause should be more definite. If the Commonwealth wants State employees to be loyal to this administration, and comply with the law, it must protect their interests. These people are to be asked which of two masters they are prepared to serve. If Mr. Lang is able to convince them that by taking a chance and defying the law they will be better off than if they support the Commonwealth and uphold the law, naturally they will preserve their bread and butter. The matter can be made definite by substituting the word shall “ for “ may ?’ in sub-clause 3. The clause now reads
The Treasurer may direct that the whole or any part of any pecuniary penalty recovered under this section may be paid. to the person injured by the offence.
To make it definite I move -
That the word “ may “, second occurring, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “shall.”
That will safeguard public servants who would otherwise be crucified by this coldblooded buccaneering Lang Government, which pretends to represent the people of New South’ Wales, and make them realize that the Commonwealth Government and the whole of the resources of the country are behind them.
.- I, like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), am pleased that the Government intends to do something to safeguard the Social services of New South Wales. The Prime Minister and others have said that no superannuation, widows’ pension, or child endowment funds have been attached. If that is so, why have cheques on these funds been returned by the Commonwealth Bank marked “ Refer to drawer “.
– Because Lang took the money.
– There has been a hue and cry after superannuation funds and protests have been made on the subject by Mr. O’Sullivan to the Prime Minister. If these funds have not been attached, I can see no reason for the introduction of this bill. The clause with which we have just dealt provided for the refund of certain moneys, which also suggests that these funds have been attached. The plain fact is that the Government is making an ignominious retreat from an untenable position. This Government has shown amazing audacity.
– The honorable member must deal with the clause or the amendment.
– Ned Kelly and the buccaneers, pirates and bushrangers of other days had nothing on a government which could introduce a bill like this.
– The honorable member must not continue in that strain.
– The object of this clause is undoubtedly to encourage individuals in thu State Public Service to pay over to the Commonwealth moneys raised for the succour of the sick, the afflicted and the hungry people of New South Wales. But surely an employer has the right to say what his employees shall do. Apparently this Government thinks that it should be able to direct the public servants of New South Wales to do things against the interests of the people of that State Sub-clause 3 of the clause provides that -
The Treasurer may direct that the whole or any part of any pecuniary penalty recovered under this section may be paid to person injured by the offence.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) has proposed that the word “may”, second occurring, be altered to “ shall “ ; but the other day when I moved an amendment to substitute “ shall “ for “ may “ in a provision relating to the expenditure of £600,000 by the Commonwealth Government for the assistance of the unemployed people of New South Wales, the honorable member voted against the proposal. This Government is actually usurping the power of the State Government. It is asking us to agree that if a State employee breaks the State law he shall be immune from punishment. ‘ The State public servants are between the devil and the deep sea. If this provision is passed it will be possible for so-called loyalist public servants, who, in my opinion, will be “scabbing” upon their State, to commit misdemeanours, and in the event of their dismissal from the Service to plead that, they have been dismissed because of their loyalty. This would no doubt lead to legal proceedings, for the person concerned would endeavour to show that his dismissal was due to some other cause than his misdemeanour. Apparently the Government intends to confiscate the revenue from the State lotteries and so prevent the profits from the lotteries going to the hospitals.. Every one will admit that health is one of God’s greatest blessings, but apparently this Government is not at all concerned about the health of the people >f New South Wales.
– The hospitals are not getting the profits from the lotteries.
– The honorable member for New- England (Mr. Thompson) has termed the Lang Government a coldblooded buccaneering government; but I ask which is the cold-blooded government ?
– The honorable member is distinctly out of order. Unless he confines his remarks to the clause I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– It appears that State public servants who do anything to hinder this Government taking money which the Lang Government should be able to use for the assistance of the sick and afflicted are to be penalized. This shows which is the cold-blooded government.
– I shall name the honorable member if he again, disregards the ruling of the Chair.
– A private employer naturally reserves the right to direct his employees as to what they shall or shall not do.
– Within the law.
– I hope the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Stewart) will be prevented from interjecting, as I do not desire to be named. I am not an employer of labour, but I know very well that all employers reserve the right to say how any revenue that comes into their business shall be dealt with. Yet this Government has the cheek to say that the New South Wales Government, which is an employer of labour, shall not have the right to say what its employees shall do with its revenues. It desires the State public servant to hand revenue over to the party which does not pay the piper, but which has the cheek to call the tune. As I stated when speaking to one of the earlier bills, there is grave risk in this of bringing about dissension which may lead even to insurrection. Nobody wants that to happen, except, perhaps, this Government, which does not seem to care whether it happens or not.-
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I cannot refrain from expressing my astonishment at finding the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) in association with the members of the corner party in opposing this clause of the bill. It seems to me that some honorable members, including the honorable member for
Hunter (Mr. James), who is for the moment acting leader of the corner men, misunderstand the nature of the situation with which we are confronted to-day.. They also fail to understand the real purpose and meaning of the clause now before us. The situation which we have to meet has been brought about by the dishonesty of one man who is exercising in Australia to-day an extraordinarily malign influence. It is remarkable to observe the number of honorable members in this Parliament who are aiding and abetting him in his nefarious practices.
– In his attempts to feed (he people.
– I shall come to that presently. The honorable member for Hunter seemed very concerned over the situation of civil servants in New South Wales. The honorable member appears to forget that he is here to represent Commonwealth citizens. One would imagine, to hear the honorable member speak, that he must be a member of a State Parliament. He forgets that he is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, charged with the conduct of affairs of the whole Commonwealth. The dishonesty of the New South Wales Government, led by Mr. Lang, has placed the Commonwealth in a difficult situation, which renders necessary the legislation we are now considering.
There is one significant fact that is lost sight of by all honorable members opposite, who have addressed themselves to this question, namely, that every citizen of New South Wales is also a citizen of the Commonwealth. Every man and woman in Australia sustains a dual citizenship - citizenship of a State, and citizenship of the Commonwealth. Sometimes it is necessary to disregard the commands of a State where they happen to be in conflict with the commands of the Commonwealth. I think it was the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) who likened the civil servants in New South Wales to pawns in a game of chess. That was a most unfortunate analogy, and one wonders whether the public servants of New South Wales feel complimented by it. If honorable members are familiar with the game of chess, they must know that a pawn has no say whatever as to the square he is to occupy, or the direction in which he is moved. He goes where he is put, and stays where he is put. Do honorable members opposite regard that as a true picture of the State servants of New South Wales? Public servants in New South Wales have a duty to the State that employs them, and also a duty to the Commonwealth. Where there is a conflict between the two authorities, they must exercise their own judgment as to which they will obey. It is generally recognized that, where there is a conflict of command between State and Commonwealth, the Commonwealth must prevail, because the Commonwealth is paramount. The State public servant in New South Wales knows that, and when he is ordered by the State to disobey the Commonwealth, it should be understood that he disobeys at his peril. The Commonwealth, recognizing the pressure that will be brought to bear on public servants in New South Wales to induce them to disregard the commands of the Commonwealth, has decided to come to their rescue, and afford them what protection it reasonably can. That is what the Government is seeking to do by means of clause 6.
What is the reason for all of this concern for the public servants of New South Wales ? Great anxiety in regard to them was expressed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) in the course of his thoughtful address. Why are honorable members of the corner party so anxious about them? Why should the State civil servant be held to occupy any different position from the servant of any other employer. There is a duty laid upon every servant, no matter by whom he may be employed, to obey the Commonwealth law. If a man in private employ be ordered by his employer to defy Commonwealth law, and he refuses to obey his master,, he has his remedy at law if that master dismisses him for that reason, and that reason only. He may sue for damages for wrongful dismissal. The law of the State protects him, and the court3 will see that he gets the protection he deserves. The servants of the State of New South Wales are in exactly t’m same position. If a State servant of New South Wales is ordered by his superior officer to disobey the law of the Commonwealth, and his services are dispensed with because he refuses to obey that command, he has a right to claim against the State Government for wrongful dismissal, and if he proves his case in the courts, the State Government will have to recompense him for all the loss that can be shown to follow from his dismissal.
– The Commonwealth should bear his legal expenses.
– That may be so. We recognize that at the present time, when there may be a conflict of loyalties when public servants feel that they would like to obey the State, but that they have a paramount duty to obey the Commonwealth, it would perhaps be right for the Commonwealth to lay it down that, in the event of a public servant being dismissed for complying with Commonwealth law, the Commonwealth Government will see him through any legal action he may take against the State Government. I should be prepared to support that.
I was interested to hear from our friends in the corner that we are making a fuss about nothing; that there is no chance of Mr. Lang ever dismissing public servants because of their compliance with Commonwealth law. I hope that that is so, and from what I know of Mr. Lang and his doings, it may be so. While he is a dishonest man, while he is a dishonorable man, he is, above all, a very cunning man. His friends in this Parliament are glorying in the fact that up to date he seems to have’ got the better of his Commonwealth opponents. Mr. Lang probably knows too much to go in for wholesale dismissals of New South Wales public servants,simply because they complied with Commonwealth law. I believe that to be so, and, therefore, I think that we need not trouble ourselves very much about this provision to afford them protection.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) said that, if this clause becomes law, every disgruntled person who may be dismissed for whatever cause from the Public Service of New South Wales will claim that his dismissal was due to his compliance with Commonwealth law. and he will seek redress through the provisions of this legislation. The honorable member assumed that the Common wealth Government would at once take up such cases, and proceed against the State Government to remedy the supposed wrongs of every Tom, Dick and Harry in the State Public Service. I draw the attention of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to the wording of sub-clause 2, which deals with the onus of proof. It reads -
In any proceeding for an offence against this section, if all the facts and circumstances constituting the offence, other than the reason for the defendant’s action, are proved, it shall lie upon the defendant to prove that he was not actuated by the reason alleged in the charge.
Before the Commonwealth Government can be expected to take action in respect of any State servant who claims to have been victimized, the State servant has to submit facts and circumstances, other than the reason, in order to prove the offence. There is no hardship in the shifting of the onus of proof, because in those circumstances, if the reason is not as alleged, it will be easy for the defendant to prove that. Therefore, I cannot understand the opposition to this bill, especially that of some honorable members of the corner.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have no wish to deal with the various points which have been raised. It is sufficient for me to say that I am prepared to accept the amendment of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson).
– Will there not be a consequential amendment in respect of the earlier part of the clause? The present amendment provides that the whole or any part of any penalty recovered shall be paid to. the person injured by the offence. Some one must be vested with the authority.
– The Commonwealth Treasurer will be vested with that authority.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Thompson’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 24.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause as amended be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority. . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill contains only two provisions, the first prescribing the age at which whisky may he sold, and the second amending the classification of methylated spirits. Until October of last year, the minimum age at which whisky could be sold for consumption was two years. During the debate on the tariff schedule, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) moved to increase that period in respect of Australian whisky to three years, and despite the protests of the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) the amendment was carried. Subsequently, the change was found to operate harshly against a small distilling firm in. South Australia. There are only two whisky distilleries in Australia - one at Corio now controlled by the United Distilleries Limited, and Milne’s old and reputable distillery in South Australia. The latter company was without any whisky above the agc of two years, and, therefore, was automatically put out of business. Representations were made to the present Government, and upon examination of the matter, I came to the conclusion that in fairness to Milne the operation of the change should be postponed until October, 1933. An amendment was accordingly included in the excise tariff motion submitted to the House a few weeks ago, which I hope will be endorsed. This bill proposes now to amend the Spirits ai.-i 10 require thai imported Scotch whiskies shall after October, 1933. conform to the same age standard. This will ensure that all whiskies sold in Australia have been matured in wood for at. least three years. We all subscribe to the belief that whisky should be at least three years old before being consumed, and I believe that the change will be endorsed by honorable members.
The sale of methylated spirits is controlled by the Government. A pure white spirit is methylated or made unpotable before it goes into commercial use, the additions to it being such as cannot be easily removed. One of the four classifications under which the excise authorities permit methylated spirits to be sold is “spirit for special manufactures.” That is the class of methylated spirit which is used in public hospitals for rubbing’ patients to prevent bed sores. The AuditorGeneral has somewhat facetiously on two occasions submitted that, patients in hospital are not “special manufactures.” and that methylated spirits should not be sold to hospitals under this classification. The bill, therefore, proposes to amend the classification by adding the words “ or for other special purposes.”
Mr. forde (Capricornia) [9.26].- This is a non-contentious measure to which the Opposition can agree. On the 16th October last, when the tariff schedule was under consideration, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) moved without notice an amendment to increase the period for which Australian whisky should be matured in wood from two to three years. I said that the Government could not accept the amendment, and that it should be referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report. To my astonishment, however, a committee that frequently clamoured for guidance by the Tariff Board would not agree to my suggestion and voted foi the amendment. I pointed out then thai one necessary consequence would be ar. amendment of the Spirits Act to oblige imported whiskies to conform to the same age standard, and the present bill now proposes that change. Th’e Spirits Act of 1906 requires that fifteen months’ notice be given of the extension up to two years of the period for which whisky must be matured before passing into consumption. Thai such notice is essential is proved by thffact that, the amendment to the tariff schedule in October last resulted in & small competitor of the whisky combine being put out of business. On that occasion I quoted to the House the following telegram I had received from tb> Collector of Customs in Adelaide: -
Milne opposed to any increased maturity period Australian whisky. Adelaide Wine Spirit Company Hackney recently enlarged plant and now distilling whisky approximately one thousand gallons weekly. Company says any increase maturity period would mean seriOtis setback to them.
As the firm had no whisky more than two years old, it was unable to continue trading. It had large commitments, and customers in different parts of Australia, and was placed at a very serious disadvantage. The amendment to give two years’ notice of the extension from two years to three years is sound. Up till 1906 no period of maturity was specified, and whisky six or twelve months old could be sold if the maker thought fit. In t hat year it was laid down that the spirit must mature two years before it could be marketed. The period of three years now obtains in every other portion of the British Empire except Canada. The two year provision was continued in Australia for 26 years, and I do not think that anybody in this country died from drinking immature whisky. Before an alteration such as this is made, some notice should bo given to enable small companies to protect their interests. Otherwise, strong competitors have a great advantage for they are able to build up large stocks of spirit that has matured three years and more. The amendment regarding methylated spirits is a reasonable one in view of the reports on the subject, and I have no objection to it.
– I am not a spiritualist, nor am I very familiar with spirits. I quite approve of the case that was outlined by the Minister, but I think that the qualifying word “approved “ should be inserted, so that some discretion may be left to the Minis- ter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause . ) (Short title and citation).
.- I wishto say only a few words regarding the suggestion made by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock). I assure him that all of these purposes must be approved by the excise officers, the necessary provision being made in the regulations.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 7 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill Ton motion by Mr. Gullett) - by leave - read a third time.
Nsw SouthWales Trust Funds.
Motion (by Mr. Gullett) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– One interesting fact emerges from the debate that has engaged our attention in connexion; with the amendment of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act. It is that certain trust and superannuation funds in the State of New South Wales have now been submerged in the Consolidated Revenue of that State.
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in referring to a debate of the current session.
– I suggest that the Federal Government should ask the New South Wales Government to prepare a statementshowing the amounts standing to the credit of those funds as at the 11th April last. That would tend to allay the fears that are entertained by many retired public servants in that State, who are apprehensive that they are living in a fool’s paradise in this matter. If the Commonwealth Government cannot obtain the necessary information, legislation should be passed providing that these funds may operate in the manner originally intended.
.-I shall be pleased to place the representations of. the honorable member before the Prime Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at9.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19320510_reps_13_134/>.