13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Shipping Act - Commonwealth Shipping Board -
Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers -
Treasury Loan Account as at 30th April, 1932, with the AuditorGeneral’s Certificate.
Liquidation Account for year ended 30th April, 1932, with the AuditorGeneral’s Certificate.
Cockatoo Island - Balance-sheet as at 31st March, 1932, with the AuditorGeneral’s Certificate.
Mr.FORDE. - Has the Acting Leader of the House read a newspaper report that the Government of the Dominion of Canada proposes to pay to the farmers a bounty of 5 cents a bushel on wheat exported ? Having regard to the perilous condition of the wheat industry in Australia can the honorable gentleman say whether the Government has come to any decision regarding the granting of a bounty on wheat production, or whether he has heard from the Prime Minister what has been decided at the Premiers Conference in Melbourne regarding this proposal ?
– I have read the cablegram to which the honorable member has referred. The subject of assistance to the wheat industry is being discussed at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Melbourne, but T have no advice regarding any decision that may have been reached there.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the House been drawn to the advertisement of a demonstration to take place in Moore Park, Sydney, on the 6th November, and at Central Square on the 7th November, which, according to a pamphlet which has been sent to me, was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian Soviet Republic? Against the proposed demonstration I have received several protests, and I desire to know what action the Commonwealth Government proposes to take?
– The control of public meetings and demonstrations is a responsibility of the State; but the proceedings at the proposed Communist demonstration will be closely watched by the Commonwealth Government with a view to safeguarding the interests of our people.
– The newspapers report that the Premiers meeting in conference in Melbourne have agreed to float an internal loan of £20,000,000, a portion of which will bc used for the relief of unemployment. Will the Acting Leader of the House say whether that proposal indicates the policy of the Commonwealth Government in regard to unemployment ?
– I understand that no final agreement has been reached by the Premiers Conference ; in any case, it is not customary to announce Government policy in reply to questions.
– Last -week I asked a question of the Minister for the Interior regarding the non-payment of timbergetters engaged in hewing sleepers for a contractor to the Commonwealth Railways Department. Yesterday I received the reply that that department has no knowledge of the non-payment of the sleeper-cutters, but that negotiations were in progress with the contractor regarding the submission of a statutory declaration to ensure that certain specified conditions in the contract have been complied with; I have received from Mr. Viles, who apparently is a sub-contractor, a telegram stating that the reply to my question is misleading, and that a statutory declaration by him was lodged with his bankers in Melbourne on the 5 th October, but that the contractor is holding up the business. He says that his appeals to the Railways Department for assistance have been in vain. Will the Minister instruct his officers to acquire some knowledge of the circumstances of this case, and take the necessary action to facilitate payment for the sleepers which have been already delivered to the Railways Department?
– In view of the fact that the reply I gave yesterday appears not to coincide with the communication which the honorable member has received from Mr. Viles, I shall have further inquiries made into the matter.
– Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs state whether the Government has yet come to a decision upon the request made on Saturday last by a deputation of members of the Country party and representatives of the Federal Banana Growers Association of New South Wales that the 15 per cent, duty which, under the formula agreed to at Ottawa, will be the margin of preference granted to other British products, shall bo applied to bananas also in lieu of the duty of 2s. 6d. per cental on 40,000 centals per annum?
– The matter 13 still under consideration.
– What reply has the Government to make to the statement of the Honorable Frank A. Bulcock, the Minister for Agriculture and Stock in the Queensland Government that, according to information he had received, the action of the Federal Government in reducing the duty on Fiji bananas was taken for the purpose of providing more freight for overseas shipping companies trading between Sydney and Fiji and Melbourne and Fiji ?
– The Government was not actuated by that consideration.
Servicein Western New South Wales Relay Stations
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that listeners at Bourke, Nyngan, Brewarrina, and many other far western towns in New South Wales, suffer serious disabilities in regard to broadcasting services ? As they pay the same licence fee as people in more favoured districts, will the Minister consider the establishment of a station which will more efficiently serve far-western listeners?
– I shall investigate the suggestion.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet able to announce whether the departmenthas chosen sites on which to build broadcasting relay stations in New South Wales?
– I have gone into this matter with the officials of the department; but the exact sites have not yet been determined. So soon as a decision has been arrived at, I shall be glad to communicate it to the honorable member.
Lien on Property.
– In regard to the Commonwealth lien on the property of invalid and old-age pensioners, I am informed that the Titles Office in Victoria insists that before a transfer can be effected the transferor must sign a declaration that lie is not drawing a pension. This procedure is holding up titles business, and over 1,000 transfers cannot be proceeded with. The request has been made that, pending the publication of regulations, the Pensions Office should be instructed to answer the questions whether a transferor is a pensioner or not. Will the Acting Leader of the House ask the Attorney-General to consider immediately the practicability of this suggestion ?
– Following the honorable member’s remarks during the discussion on the Treasury Estimates last night, the Attorney-General’s
Department was asked to give immediate consideration to this matter. I assume that the Attorney-General will deal with it on his return to Canberra.
– In view of the fact that the Victorian Government has budgeted this year for a deficit of £1,441,000, which is £900,000 in excess of the amount agreed to at the Premiers Conference in June last, I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether the Commonwealth Government intends to apply the financial enforcement legislation to a government of its own political complexion, or does it intend to make an exception in the case of Victoria?
– Assuming that the honorable member’s question is serious, I assure him that the Government has no intention to take the action he has suggested.
– In view of the admission of the Government that it is not proposed to enforce the terms of the Premiers plan upon the States, may we expect an early repeal of the financial enforcement legislation directed against the State of New South Wales ?
– The enforcement legislation has already been suspended, a fact which the honorable member has overlooked. He need have no doubt that any departure from the Premiers plan will receive the serious attention of the Premiers Conference which is now sitting. We may safely leave the matter to that conference.
– For the convenience of honorable members and others interested in the Ottawa agreement, will the Acting Leader of the House state when the second reading debate on the United Kingdom and Australia Trade Agreement Bill is likely to be resumed?
– The Government is desirous of proceeding with the measure as soon as possible, and the debate on the bill will be resumed as soon as the Estimates have been disposed of, if the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) is then sufficiently recovered to take his place in the House.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether notice has yet been given to Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited of the Government’s intention to determine the agreement of 1927, by which the company receives 3s. royalty for every set used by listeners?
– No such notice has yet been given; but the matter is under consideration.
PRICES of Milk and BREAD
– Is it a fact that milk is 8d. a quart in Canberra, and that a 4-lb. loaf of bread costs ls.? How do these prices compare with those being’ charged in Queanbeyan?
– I cannot give the information off-hand; but I shall make inquiries.
– It was stated some time ago that examinations would be held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra to determine the qualifications of persons applying for work in connexion with the taking of a Commonwealth census. I asked the Prime Minister some time ago whether a similar examination would be held in Brisbane. Will the Minister in charge of the House state whether any action has yet been taken in regard to the matter?
– I have not in my possession the information which the honorable member desires; hut, if he places his question on the noticepaper, it will be answered in due course.
– Is the Minister aware that the Now South Wales Government intends to make the receipt of an old-age or invalid pension part of the permissible income of families in receipt of the dole, with a view to excluding them from dole payments? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government is of opinion that children should maintain their aged parents? If so, what action does the Government propose to take to protect pensioners against the action of the New South Wales Government in its attempt to force pensioners to keep their children ?
– The Government has no intention of compelling pensioners or others to do more than is reasonable, nor anything which they ought not to be doing at the present time.
– Has any decision yet been come to regarding electoral redistribution before the nest elections are held?
– The Government believes this to be a matter which may well be left for decision until a later date.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 25th October, (vide page 1577).
Proposed vote, £142,500.
.- I move -
That Division No. 33, “Public Service Arbitrator’s Office, £1,190” be reduced by fi.
I take this action in order to protest against tho attack by the Government on the vital principle of a minimum working wage. This attack was made when, at the instance of the Government, the Senate disallowed a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator in regard to certain officers employed in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This matter was ventilated on a previous occasion in this chamber ; but so serious is the action taken by the Government, which aims a blow at the very foundations of industrial arbitration, and the principle of the basic wage, that I have decided to go a step further. Slowly but surely there lias grown up in Australia a strong sentiment in favour of the fixation of wages, and the determining of working conditions by an industrial tribunal. The trade union movement is pledged to the support of those principles, and it has the sympathy and assistance of a large number of persons who, though not directly connected with that movement, believe in the judicial control of industrial relations. There are many persons in the community, including numerous business people, who believe that the workers are entitled to a wage which will enable them adequately to maintain themselves and their families in food, clothing, and housing. There axe also the mean employers - happily, they aro comparatively few in number - who are always endeavouring to evade awards, and frequently enter into conspiracies with their employees, the latter signing documents to the effect that they are receiving full award rates when they are actually receiving less. Again, there are a number of employers who believe that they can conduct their businesses better by round-table conferences and direct negotiation with their employees than by the recognized’ methods of arbitration. But the workers of Australia tried the round-table conference method before the introduction of industrial tribunals and arbitration courts. It was because they found it so unsatisfactory that they threw their strength in behind the movement for the establishment of industrial arbitration. Under the old conditions, it was impossible to secure standard wages and conditions. A long fight was waged before industrial arbitration became the accepted policy of this country, but it has been so for many years. In these circumstances, it is deplorable that the National Government should join with the mean and contemptible employers and those who believe in direct negotiation in trying to break down this system which involves the fixation and payment of a living wage. We naturally look to governments to ensure that our citizens are adequately housed, clothed, and fed, hut this Government has entirely failed in this respect. Its active opposition to the principles of industrial arbitration, as shown by its action in disallowing the determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator, has put back the hands of the clock by 40 years. Our industrial arbitration machinery has made Australia one of the greatest countries in the world, and it is distressing in the highest degree that the Commonwealth Government should endeavour so callously to smash the machine. It has been advanced in defence of the Government’s action that the financial conditions of the country have made it necessary that money shall be saved, and that adults shall work for less than the basic wage. But the Scullin Government was confronted with a much more serious financial position than that which faced this Government when it assumed office. We had to meet a deficit of £20,000,000 in times when the business of our great public instrumentalities, such as the Post Office, was falling in volume every month.” At the same time, we had to find avenues of employment for the junior members of the Public Service. Notwithstanding the extremely difficult financial position, and the many redundant officers in the Public Service, we decided to pay the juniors in the Service the adult wage as soon as they reached their majority. But immediately the Lyons Government assumed office, it took steps to discontinue that policy. The basic, wage has always been regarded as sacrosanct, but, unfortunately, the representatives of the employing class in this chamber do not so regard it. The Government issued a regulation which was entirely at variance with the policy of the Scullin Government. The Public Service unions thereupon appealed to the Public Service Arbitrator for the reconsideration of the whole subject. The Public Service Arbitrator has had a life-long experience in the Public Service, particularly in the Postmaster-General’s Department, and was probably in a better position than any other man in Australia to deal with the case submitted to him. Evidence was placed before him to the effect that the circumstances of the country were such that public, officers who reached adult age, but could not be found positions for which the basic wage wa3 paid, would either have to work for less than the basic wage, or be discharged from the Service. I have on many occasions in this chamber pointed to the greatdanger to the Commonwealth Public Service of failure to maintain a supply of properly trained juniors to step into the senior positions as these fell vacant. This, and many other aspects of the subject, were discussed before the Public Service Arbitrator by persons who could speak with authority. After a most exhaustive investigation, and a hearing which was not in any way hurried, the
Arbitrator decided in favour of the public servants, and against the Government. He held that as there were many avenues in the Service, particularly in the Postal Department, in which juniors who reached adult age could be usefully employed, there was no necessity whatever for discharging them. The Arbitrator quoted a number of authorities in support of his finding. I do not propose” to refer at any length to these authorities, for honorable members must, by this time, be well informed on the subject. I have moved this amendment as a protest against the action of the Government in applying sweating conditions to adults in its service. If the Commonwealth and State Governments can disregard the basic wage, and all the well-established principles of arbitration, it will not be long before the whole system will fall to pieces, and the conditions of the socalled good old days are reverted to. The Government resembles a petulant and mean-minded school boy who, in the sporting field, refuses to accept the decision of the umpire. The Government, in a mean and despicable manner, nullified the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator.
– The words “ mean and despicable “ are unparliamentary, and must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw them. I shall say that the Government acted in an unmanly way, in that it sought by subterfuge to evade the responsibilities placed upon it by the people. Unfortunately, the Government and many of its supporters would, had they the opportunity, destroy our arbitration system and reduce wages in order to get back to the industrial conditions which obtained many years ago. The Government, by its action, has done incalculable harm to a large number of citizens. Many of those concerned have now reached manhood, and although occupying responsible positions in the Public Service are expected to work for £2 5s. or £2 10s. a week.
– That is better than the sack.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) might, with equal logic, contend that £1 a week is better than the sack. Perhaps his con science is sufficiently elastic to permit him to say that even 5s. a week is better than no wages at all. By saying that £2 10s. a week is better than no wages at all the honorable member places himself in the position of an Arbitration Court judge.
– I did not say that £2 10s. is sufficient for an adult, but that it is better than nothing at all.
– The honorable member has echoed the sentiments of employers of a certain type in Australia who say that half a loaf is better than no bread. Some employers contend that if they could lower their costs of production by reducing wages 10 per cent. they could employ more men. The honorable member for Perth who suggests that £2 10s. a week is better than nothing, is in the same category. Such a principle when applied to government departments becomes a menace to the citizens of this country. It has been said that these youths are single men. They are single to-day, but many of them may be the fathers of our future citizens. Unless they receive a wage sufficient to enable them to save money on which to maintain a house of their own, many must remain single or assume responsibilities which they will be unable to carry. I protest against the action of the Government in evading its responsibilities and in following the mean and contemptible course adopted by certain private employers who wish to reduce wages and to destroy our arbitration system. The Government’s action in this respect merits the condemnation of the committee, and I trust that a majority of honorable members will support my amendment.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has adopted the somewhat unusual course of resurrecting a subject which has. already been discussed at great length in this chamber.
– The debate was “gagged.”
– Discussion may have been “ gagged “ on one occasion, but on at least two or three others, the subject was fully discussed.
The honorable member for Darling exhausted his vocabulary of expletives and unjustifiably brought together a number of objectionable epithets to form the text of a speech in condemnation of the Government’s action. He suggested that something unusual or illegal had been done.
– Not illegal, but immoral.
– He further said that the Public Service arbitration law had been infringed. The course adopted by the Government, which the honorable member characterized as subterfuge was exactly in accordance with the law. The act gives the Public Service Arbitrator the right to investigate the conditions of employment in the Public Service, but it also provides that his decisions shall not become effective until ratified by Parliament. This Government merely exercised its right to move to disallow a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator with which it was not in agreement. That disposes of the argument of the honorable member that the action of the Government was unfair or unjust, or in the nature of a subterfuge. Approximately 1,000 youths had reached adult age, when they were entitled to perform the work of adults if it were available, and to receive the basic wage. The Postal Department said that there was no adult work for these youths to do. Those engaged in commercial enterprises would not, in similar circumstances, have done what this Government has done. Instead of dispensing with the services of these youths and bringing on other boys to do what is boys’ work, we allowed them to continue at the wages they were then receiving, on the understanding that they would be absorbed into the Public Service as adult work became available. If honorable members willstudy this matter free from party bias, and consider the interests of these young men, they will admit that the Government acted in a reasonable and humane way. I have set out the salient points as succinctly as possible, and leave the decision of the matter to the good sense of honorable members.
. -I join with the honorable member for
Darling (Mr. Blakeley) in protesting against the Government’s action in this matter, notwithstanding the Minister’s reminder that the subject has been discussed on other occasions. In my opinion, this question cannot be discussed too often, because once a precedent of this kind has been established, there is danger that it will be followed, because of the desire of the Governmnt and its supporters always to reduce wages and conditions of labour. It behoves the Opposition to be ever watchful, and to avail itself of every opportunity to focus public attention on this matter. A new sphere of thought is opened up by the suggestion that the Parliament should have the right to disavow a determination as to wages and conditions of labour made by a properly constituted authority. If the Government and its supporters believe that the Parliament should determine these matters, well and good ; let the several political parties seek a mandate from the people.
– It would be deplorable if the Parliament were to decide these matters.
– The Government’s action gives the lead for the future determination of the wages and conditions of its employees by the Parliament. On other occasions members opposite have been insistent that Parliament is not in possession of all the information necessary to decide these questions; that wages and conditions can be determined fairly only by those acquainted with all the facts. They are prepared outside of this House to argue at length that members of Parliament are not competent to deal with these matters, but if the Parliament can be used to lower wages, it is time that the Constitution was altered to enable it also to increase wages, and to deal with the whole problem. It would appear that when outside these walls honorable members opposite express, different views from those which they advance within this chamber. So far as I am aware, Parliament has never vetoed a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator providing for a decrease in wages. When times are good, and work plentiful, it is more than likely that the workers could demand more than the Arbitrator’s award provides; in such cases, it would be found that honorable members opposite would not disallow his award. Even if the party now in power remained in office for a century it would never take steps to disallow the Arbitrator’s award in order to increase wages; but, strangely enough, it will take action to do so when conditions are different. I am forced to admit that under the law, Parliament is entitled to veto the Public Service Arbitrator’s determinations; but why was not the matter brought forward in this chamber, instead of in another place? Was it because the Opposition there was not so strong as in this chamber, and because less publicity was likely to be given to the Government’s action?
– The Opposition is proportionately as strong in the other chamber as in this.
– Surely the honorable member admits that the other chamber has equal rights with this chamber?
– Not in all things. The other chamber has its rights ; but one would naturally expect that a matter of such importance to the Postal Department would have been brought forward in the chamber of which the PostmasterGeneral is a member. Instead, the Government took action in another place, where the Minister in control of the department concerned could not himself be heard. Obviously, the Government had a reason for dealing with this matter as it did.
The financial emergency legislation, which cuts across the principle of arbitration, opened the way for the Government’s action. That legislation has been the subject of many protests by the people affected by it. During the last Parliament a committee was appointed to adjust wages and conditions of employment in various semi-public bodies, in order to bring them into line with the general reductions that had taken place in the Public Service. The basic wage was not then involved; but I am afraid that I shall not be permitted to discuss that question now. The Minister said that he was prepared to leave the matter to the decency of honorable members. I suggest that it might be considered in the light of the need for providing a decent standard of living for the postal workers concerned. The standard of living of those affected by the Government’s action is a matter of vital importance to them, and for that reason I, and those associated with me, will use the forms of the House to focus attention on what has been done, with a view to restoring to these employees the conditions to which they are entitled under the award of the Arbitrator.
– Since this item deals with the cost of arbitration in this country, I take it that honorable members are entitled to- discuss the principle of arbitration, and the adequacy or otherwise of the vote for the system to be successful. I am firmly convinced that the majority of the people of Australia still favour the principle of arbitration. Having had some experience of the system, I am still 100 per cent. in favour of a scientific scheme of arbitration, either to prevent industrial disputes or to settle them once they have arisen. I am also in favour of taking into consideration the economic circumstances of an industry when determining what wages and conditions shall operate in it. That principle has never been endorsed by those in control of industry; if it had been the principle of arbitration would be much more acceptable to both employers and employees than it is now. We have violated the principle of arbitration by varying it according to the demand for workers. When the competition for jobs is keen, the employers take advantage of the Arbitration Court to force down the conditions in industry; at such times the principle of arbitration is satisfactory to them. On the other hand, when there is little competition for the jobs offering, the system is acceptable to the employees. The law of supply and demand should not govern the principle of arbitration. The first President of the Arbitration Court, the late Mr. Justice Higgins, urged that the Arbitration Court should have what, in effect, were sovereign rights; he did not believe in outside influences interfering with it.
– He resigned because of that belief.
- Mr. Justice Higgins did more than any of his suc cessors to commend the principle of arbitration to the people. It may be that the other judges were subjected to greater interference; but the fact remains that when Mr. Justice Higgins retired from the court, 99 per cent, of the people of Australia were favorable to the principle of arbitration in industrial disputes. Every thinking person in the community realizes that there must be some system of collective bargaining to determine the conditions in industry. Since individual bargaining is now impossible, we should endeavour to evolve some scheme which, while being fair and reasonable, will deal satisfactorily with this big economic problem before grave trouble occurs and before the wheels of industry cease running and waste takes place. When the late Mr. Justice Higgins first directed attention to this phase of the industrial problem, this country was passing through an industrial crisis similar in many respects to, but not so acute, as the present one. Believing that the court was wasting much valuable time in the investigation of the circumstances governing the weekly hours of labour in individual industries - whether they should be 48 or 44 - he suggested to employers and employees that an attempt should be made to settle this question for a decade at least, at the end of which time it could be reviewed in the light of any changes that might have taken place in the meantime. Accordingly, he invited employers and employees from all over Australia to appoint representatives to confer with hiin, believing that if agreement could be reached industry would be saved hundreds of thousands of pounds yearly. When he had nearly completed this investigation, it became evident to the legal representative of the manufacturers, who passed on the opinion to their representatives in Parliament, that he was about to give a decision in favour of the employees. Thereupon the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) instructed the judge that ho must not give a decision which would alter in any way the standard working hours for industry under normal conditions in Australia. Mr. Hughes further intimated that Mr. Justice Higgins must confine his attention to the cases then before the court, and part heard, in which two or three organizations were concerned, that he could determine such questions as piece work rates wages, apprenticeship, &c, but must not give a determination affecting the standard working hour3 in industry generally. That was one concrete evidence of political interference with our arbitration tribunal which we would do well to remember in these days, when we hear so many protests from government supporters that there should not be political control in industry. My complaint always has been that governments approve of political control when it suits them, but are opposed to it if they believe that intervention would be against the interests of the people they represent. Clearly the need to-day is for some scheme which will settle this vexed question once and for all. When the late Mr. Justice Higgins received that instruction from the Prime Minister, he declared that he could no longer retain his dignity as a man and continue in the position of President of the Arbitration Court. Accordingly, he resigned, and it is not too much to say that since that day our arbitration system has lost much of its attractiveness, although I am absolutely certain that the great mass of the people of Aus-, tralia are still anxious to continue it for the prevention of settlement of industrial disputes.
In the debate on this item, it is, 1 think, fitting that we should review the system, and endeavour to ascertain the causes which have tended to weaken the regard in certain quarters for arbitration. I do not think there is one member of this chamber who would care to say, publicly, at any rate, that arbitration should be swept away, and direct action take its place. Surely then, our purpose should be to make the system as sound and attractive as possible. I have just said that political interference has helped to minimize the regard for the system of arbitration by the people generally. But: I do not agree with those who contend that Parliament should not define policies, because, at various stages in our evolution, parliaments have given a lead to our courts and other public institutions, and that power should at all times remain with the Parliament. Changes in the method of doing work necessarily demand alterations from time to time of the conditions of labour. Failure to recognize this fundamental fact frequently leads to disaster, which could be avoided by the adoption of an orderly, progressive and scientific system for the control of industry meeting changes as they arise. Therefore, Parliament should, at the right time, give a lead to our courts. I suggest that that time has arrived, because all over the world employers and employees are facing the same fundamental economic difficulty. They are seeking to determine the number of people that can be absorbed in industry, the amount of individual service to be rendered, and the manner in which employment can be spread so as to make the income of all the people engaged in industry as nearly permanent and uniform as possible, in order that business and social conditions may be stabilized. Because of this inherent problem confronting all countries, there is definite need for a fresh policy to determine the conditions of labour in industry; how we shall produce and distribute our bread and butter output - to put it in the ABO of the language of economics - so as to remove the cause of all the discord that exists in the world to-day because of the maldistribution of these necessary commodities. Therefore, I suggest that this Government would render a distinct service to the people of Australia if, because of the changes that have taken place during the last three or four years, and the present chaotic state of industry, it suggested to our arbitration judges that they should re-investigate our entire economic and industrial system with a view to discovering its faults, and working out a different and better policy for the future. Australia would then play her part in the world restoration of prices by increasing the purchasing power of the workers.
This problem, I remind honorable members, is also engaging the attention of the League of Nations. At the last conference, practically 90 per cent, of the time of the delegates was concentrated upon the evils of unemployment in all countries. Consideration was given to proposals for re-arranging the rewards for labour, and the number of hours to be worked in industry, so as to ensure a more uniform distribution of the available employment. This Government, while it is dealing with arbitration, should suggest to our judges the need for a similar investigation. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) has on many occasions intervened in arbitration matters, and I put it to him that he should now intimate to the Chief Judge and his colleagues that that time is ripe for such an investigation, to see if it is not possible to help the Government to lessen the number of unemployed in this country by a more even distribution of and a general increase in the wages fund, thus again making useful citizens of our unemployed, and improving the local market for the people who produce other goods.
Not long ago, the Government of the day gave a definite instruction to the court that, in determining claims regarding wages and hours of work, it should take into consideration the economic circumstances of the industry concerned. That instruction has endangered the system. It was based on the representations of employers that, as industry was in a parlous condition, due to the depression, wages should be reduced. At all events, everybody in. Australia read the instruction in that way, believing it to be an intimation to the court that the time had arrived when the rewards of labour in industry should be reduced. I suggest that that was a wrong action to take. When the arbitration system was introduced in this country, Mr. JusticeHiggins had his own views on this point, but the judges who succeeded him have followed his lead. He took the stand that his duty was- to fix the minimum amount of wages payable in industry, apart altogether from considerations as to skill or rewards for special work, to enable a man to live indecency and comfort. He laid it down that any additional payment on account of extra skill or initiative should bemutually determined by the employer and employee, and said that his duty was to fix the minimum wage, which was not to be regarded as the maximum. If the Government meant what it said when it instructed the court that, in arriving at its determinations, it should take into consideration the economic circumstances of an industry, what did it expect would happen when an industry was in a nourishing condition? Employees generally do not regard with favour the suggestion that a judge should take into account the existing economic circumstances, because they fear the application of the principle in one way only. At one time I assisted in the preparation of an agreement that was made between the Broken Hill miners and their employers. I then suggested the advisableness of taking into consideration the economic circumstances of that industry. At the time, the metal market was becoming more and more buoyant. The price of lead, upon which depended the profitable working of the mine, had reached a figure which made it possible to re-commence operations. It was likely that the metal market would remain buoyant for a year or two, and both employers and employees were anxious to exploit it. I then suggested that when the price of lead rose, the employees should receive a share of the excess profits. The proprietors agreed to that, and the practice was adopted for the first time in the history of this country, and so far as I know, for the only time.
– “What happened when the price became lower?
– When prices drop the same principle should apply: but the minimum wage fixed according to the standards observed by the court should not be interfered with.
– Should it remain untouched until a show shut down?
– The honorable member for Denison knows that there must be a minimum wage, and that it would not be profitable to employ labour below it. By a minimum wage I mean a subsistence wage, the taking-off board from which all other rates spring. No judge in Australia had favoured the reduction of that subsistence wage under any circumstances until that principle was interfered -with by the present Bench ; but there has been agreement with the principle that when the economic circumstances of an industry improve some share of the extra profits should he distributed among the employees. If that were done, the employees would be willing to meet the employers when conditions became bad. The one.sidedness of the arrangement has been responsible for the partial failure of arbitration. The Government interfered with the principle when it caused action to be taken recently to disapprove a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator. The whole of the business life of that gentleman had been spent in the Postal Department, and no man knew better than he the surroundings and the circumstances of the Service. All the evidence that the Public Service Board could procure was submitted to him, yet he refused to make his determination conform to the overtures that that body made to him. Then this Governmentvetoed his determination. How can arbitration be expected to become popular if Parliament vetoes decisions that are considered unsuitable? If we want arbitration to be as popular as it ought to be, we must place it on a proper and a more or less permanent basis. The system should not be altered except when drastic changes occur, such as have been taking place recently, making it possible for men to do twice as much in a given period with the expenditure of an equal amount of energy. If judges are slow to meet them, governments should suggest that the time has arrived for the altered conditions to be reflected in their awards. But so long as Parliament, by vetoing decisions, makes the conditions worse than those fixed by the judges, the people cannot be expected to adhere loyally to awards of the court.
.- This is hardly an appropriate occasion for a second-reading debate on the subject of arbitration. I do not agree with many of the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway). Probably, itwould be wrong to blame a particular section, but I am astonished at finding so rarely in the balance-sheets of big companies reference to anything in the nature of an employees’ superannuation fund. That item appears in the balance-sheets of many British and some New Zealand companies.
A review of the history of arbitration in Australia can lead only to the conclusion that it has been a failure, and that it has built up more antagonism between employer and employee than exists in any other part of the world. The statistics show the enormous losses that have been incurred on account of strikes, since the inauguration of the system. What we need is legislation along lines similar to those of Canada, where arbitration is not compulsory, but employers and employees may make agreements that are given the force of law.
We have a Public Service Board that involves an expenditure of £33,000 a year; yet after it has conducted inquiries and fixed conditions, the Public Service Arbitrator is empowered to destroy the whole of its work. Some of the awards that have been made by the Arbitrator are utterly stupid. A clerk travelling from Canberra to Melbourne, or vice versa, is entitled to an allowance of 4s. Sd. an hour between the hours of 5.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m., during the whole of which time he may be reading a novel or playing cards. In what industry would it be suggested that anything of that sort should be done? The idea of making any payment other than one for actual sustenance, is wrong. Again, when a boy of eighteen or nineteen gets married, he must be paid the adult wage, for being such a fool. These are the stupid things that have sprung into existence since we encumbered the service with a Public Service Arbitrator. What is the necessity for that official? Surely the Public Service Board can arrange all the details necessary in connexion with the Public Service. In any case, Parliament has ultimately to decide what action shall be taken in regard to any award made by the Public Service Arbitrator.
I notice at page 7S of the Estimates, under the heading “ Exempt “, an item, “ six associates to judges, £2,532 “. Does that mean that these associates are exempt from the provisions of the Financial Emergency Act?
– These associates are exempt officers, under the Public Service Act, but they are subject to the reductions effected under the financial emergency legislation.
– We have been given to understand that, if it can raise the necessary money, the Government intends to transfer the Patents Office to Canberra.
That will involve an expenditure of about £41,630. I suggest that, before the Government takes such a step, it should inquire into the administrative costs of the department which, to my mind, aredisproportionately high. It would be interesting to learn how much revenue was derived from the Patents Office last year. I do not suggest that there should be any further reductions in the salaries of officers of the department, but I do think that the administrative costs could be lowered. I hope that the Government will not rush into additional expenditure for the purpose of trying to boom Canberra, especially when we are told that the cost of living is so high in this centre, and that some time will elapse before the Government transfers the Patents Office to the Federal Capital.
.- I support the- amendment of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). Honorable members should take every opportunity to register a protest against what has been a serious departure by the Government from a principle of arbitration that has been regarded as a fundamental part of the Australian industrial system.
It has been interesting to mo to hear the opinions of honorable members on this matter. In the days of national prosperity, honorable members opposite, and their supporters, invariably desired to have wages and conditions adjusted by an industrial tribunal upon a definite basis, actuated principally by the cost of living. Now, when we are passing through a time of national depression, they desire to give employers freedom to barter with prospective employees for their services. Some day we shall return to prosperity, and then we shall remind those people opposite of their present attitude. The principle of a living wage has been destroyed by the judgments given in our arbitration courts during the past two years. Now, the economic position of industry is the determining factor in fixing wages and conditions. If in times of stress, it is a fair thing to consider the ability of industry to pay, it is also fair that that should be the basis governing awards in times of prosperity, when industry is pay- ing rich returns to investors, issuing bonus shares and dividends, and watering stock. In- the future, it will be wrong in principle to determine the basic wage on the cost of living figures alone. Any improvement in the condition of an industry, particularly in respect of its earnings or profits, will also have to be taken into consideration. I hope that the judges of the Federal Arbitration Court will take these factors into consideration when times improve, and there is an opportunity given to them to reclassify the wages and conditions ruling in industry. I regret that one learned member of the Commonwealth judiciary has indicated that it is desirable at this time of stress to disregard the principle of the basic wage. Surely we should not agree to take from the- workers the meagre standards of protection which have been gained by them as a result of years of agitation and endeavour on the part of their representatives in industry. There should be an irreducible minimum in respect of wages and conditions, so as to give some security to the workers against economic pressure, when a number of others are anxious to fill their positions. The Government has been remiss in its obligations to its own employees by failing to observe a recent, decision of the Public Service Arbitrator. If we appoint a Public Service Arbitrator we should accept his decisions, particularly in the case of an appeal. In this instance, the Arbitrator gave his decision not on an ordinary adjustment of wages and conditions, but on an appeal against a regulation of the Public Service Board. This Government stood as one party to that appeal, and the members of the Public Service as the other. Had the decision gone against the members of the Public Service no opportunity would have been given to them to veto the determination of the Arbitrator. The Government, believing that might is right, is claiming every advantage. If we wish tu strengthen the principle of arbitration, we must do justice to every party concerned. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) wants to know why the Public Service Board should not fix the wages and conditions of the Public Service. Let me inform bini that the Public
Service Board is in the same position as an employer.
– No. it was appointed for the purpose of prelecting the Public Service against any individual ministry.
– Tho Public Service Board was appointed for the purpose of classifying and supervising the Commonwealth Public Service.
– And to give protection to the members of the Public Service.
– If there were any merit in the contention of the honorable member, there would be no need for the Public Service Arbitrator. The appointment of the Arbitrator is in itself an eloquent answer to the honorable member. The existence of the Public Service Arbitration Act, which the honorable member helped to pass, is evidence that the Public Service Board was never intended to act as a protection to the members of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– The passing of the act was one of the political games played at the time.
– It was nothing of the kind. Any honorable member who has a true outlook must admit that the definite intention behind the Public Service Arbitration Act was to remove from the Public Service generally any feeling of dissatisfaction in regard to the classification of positions. We are in honour bound to respect the decisions of the Arbitrator. His recent determination affected those members of the Public Service who had recently attained their majority. Surely we should not deprive the youth of this country, which has already suffered sufficiently because of the lack of outlook and opportunity, of emoluments and conditions to which they arc justly entitled. The economic position of Australia does not justify the removal of the application of the principle of arbitration to the fixation of industrial conditions throughout this country. Our arbitration laws have, irrespective of what the honorable member for Swan has said, done much to prevent disputes and chaos in industry, and we shall never be able to realize fully the consequent benefits won for the community generally. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has said, the work of the late
Mr. Justice Higgins, as President of the Arbitration Court, established public confidence in that tribunal. If industrial chaos is to be prevented, we should endeavour to increase rather than reduce its prestige. Employers and employees alike should be anxious to have the benefits of arbitration spread over a wider field than has been covered in the past. There should be no attempt to undermine the court by the methods which the Government now seeks to adopt.
.- Since the Attorney-General’s Department administers patents and trade marks, this seems to be an appropriate opportunity to protest against the transfer of the central office of the Patents Department from Melbourne to Canberra. It may be possible to advance good arguments in support of the expenditure of £40,000 from trust funds, and £15,000 for the removal expenses of officers; but I ask whether this transfer would be justified at a time when governmental expenditure is being reduced in various directions, when wages are being cut, and when we are experiencing extreme financial stress generally. I submit that the Patents Branch is essentially a business department, which must be in close contact with the commercial world. The Patents Office in Melbourne has a famous library which, I believe, was taken over from the Government of Victoria. The officials in this office are experts in examining patents and designs, and it would be inadvisable to isolate the department by transferring it to Canberra, where is would be out of ready touch with the business community. It is said that Melbourne will be catered for by the establishment of a branch office there; but that would result in further duplication of governmental activities, of which we have enough already.
– Does the honorable member suggest that there should be no branch office of the Patents Department in Melbourne?
– On the contrary, I point out that Melbourne must be catered for in this matter. My objection is to the establishment of the head-quarters of the department in splendid isolation at Canberra. That would involve a large measure of duplication of activities. I had the honour of introducing recently to Senator Massy Greene, a deputation from all the officers concerned protesting against the transfer of the Patents Office from Melbourne to Canberra. I realize how great a convenience it is to the manufacturing world to have ready access to the Patents Office there.
– It may be of great convenience to Melbourne, but not toSydney.
– I regret that some honorable members from New South Wales still show a parochial spirit. There is an efficient patents office in Sydney, and there should be no complaint on the ground that the head-quarters of the department happen tobe in Melbourne. Sydney and Melbourne are the two big cities of Australia.
– What about the other capitals - Adelaide, for instance?
– Of our population of more than 6,000,000, over 2,000,000 reside in Melbourne and Sydney. The principal patent attorneys in Melbourne have issued a circular in which many interesting facts are made known, and, in my opinion, the claims advanced by them should be answered. Their circular states -
Even if the entire rents, anticipated to be received or saved by the Minister for the Interior, are regarded as net receipts, it would require at least four years for the direct cost of removal operations to be paid off. These direct costs, however, are only a small part of the ultimate expense involved.
There would be serious loss to officials and to the Government by taking over 43 officers’ homes in Melbourne on an extremely depressed market.
The Government has a lease until 1936 of the buildings in Melbourne, for which a rent of £2,000 a year is paid. Empty premises are seen on every hand, and, if the present office of the department were vacated, a loss would surely result. I believe that it is proposed that the Government should take over the house properties of theofficers who are to be transferred ; but I submit that it would be most inadvisable for the Government to invest in property of that kind at the present time. The circular continues -
The removal would have an extremely serious effect, as it would separate a highlyspecialized technical office from its direct association with trade and industry, and loss of efficiency must necessarily result from the isolation of the large staff of technical examiners from contact with technical institutions and the industries of which they make a special study.
If a business man is interested in a patent, and wants to know whether he can manufacture a particular article, he requires easy access to the Patents Office so that he may discover whether anybody has patented a similar article in the past.
– How do business people manage in Sydney?
– Sydney, as I have already said, has a patents office, and the needs of the business community there are met by it. The Sydney office, like the Melbourne office, has a library, and anybody can ascertain what patent rights exist.
– It would make patents very costly if those interested in them had to travel to Canberra to conduct their business .
– Of course, Knowing how impecunious inventors often are, the proposed transfer of the department to Canberra might result in depriving the community of the benefit of the investigations of enterprising Australians. 1 am looking upon the proposed transfer from a purely business point of view. I object to the waste of money that would be involved in transferring the Patents Office from Melbourne to any other place. If the transfer would prove a good investment for the Government, it is strange that the patents agents are objecting to the proposal. The patent attorneys say further -
There would most certainly bo a lack of experienced professional representation in Canberra for applicants and Patent Attorneys throughout Australia.
If the Patents Office is established at the Hotel Acton, what a hive of industry it will be ; how it will be besieged by inventors and business people !
– What is to be gained by the transfer?
– That is the question I am putting to the Minister. Is the transfer intended as a sop to the vanity of Canberra, or to swell the business and population of this city and provide employment locally?
– Does the honorable member contend that the central office should not be in the Federal Capital?
– Generally speaking, most of the departments should be in the
Federal Capital, but the Patents Office is essentially a business undertaking, and its proper place is in a State capital where it is in touch with the commercial community. Recently the Department of Commerce, which had been transferred to Canberra, was returned to Melbourne.
– That is an entire misrepresentation. Only a few officers were brought to Canberra, and they have returned to Melbourne.
– The memorandum continues -
The Patents, Trade Mark Designs, and Copyright Office is a department which operates in direct association with the public and occupies a six-floor building in Melbourne which was adapted at a cost of £3,500.
The present Melbourne lease runs until 1936 at a rental, including rates, of over £2,000 per annum.
Stock of printed specifications for sale valued at £400,000.
If these specifications are not on view, but are only catalogued in Canberra, how will the public have access to them ?
The departmental library which is open to the public free of charge, is greater than the Federal Library at Canberra, and houses over 30,000 volumes, and 9,634,000 Australian and foreign patent specifications. The Department of Patents cannot properly function without a library, the records in which are vitally essential for the conduct of many of its functions.
As a sub-office is provided in all other States, a similar office will require to be established in Melbourne. The records of such an office will require to be separately built up, at considerable expense, to the standard of other State sub-offices. The cost of a Melbourne suboffice, including rental and salaries, will amount to £1,500 annually.
– The honorable member will be delighted to know that the cost of the Sydney office is only £519, less the emergency cut.
– Including rental and salaries?
– Certainly an office could not be rented in Melbourne for that amount, apart from the salaries. As the patent fees were increased by the Scullin Government when it was contemplating the removal of the central office to Canberra - the idea was abandoned because of the expense involved - it is pertinent to ask whether, if the transfer is effected, the present fees will be maintained or further increased. Business people are of opinion that the fees should be reduced to the old level. The memorandum continues -
The Hotel Acton in Canberra will require to be substantially altered to receive the equipment and library.
The transfer of the department from Flinders Street to its present site retarded the running of the department for two months, and the arrears have not since then picked up.
Of the staff of 78, excluding cleaners, there are 43 officers holding property rights in their homes, and the prospects of selling are negligible at the present time, and even so property values have dropped 25 per cent, to 30 per cent., which would represent an approximate loss to individual officers of at least £12,000. Present values would not in many cases cover existing liens.
Thu majority of Patent applications are of an involved technical character which frequently involve personal attendances by qualified Patent Attorneys for elucidation. If these facilities are removed, the work of the department will be delayed and increased by extensive correspondence and possible loss of rights by inventors, apart from heavy extra expenses to the latter, and since 1030 applicants’ expenses have been materially increased by the imposition of additional Government fees.
For example, the fees payable to the department for Patent rights for sixteen years, have been increased from £13 to £48 10s.
Great numbers of interviews occur with the Chief Clerk, apart from examiners, in connexion with application to the courts and numerous other matters, and by this means many matters arc disposed of with consequent curtailment of expense.
The Patents Department at present is struggling to pay its way. If removed to Canberra revenue would be decreased owing to the remote situation, and many applicants would be placed in the position of having to employ professional assistance.
The Trade Marks section of the department requires to be urgently consulted by all classes of traders when adopting trade marks to be applied to new lines of goods, and business will be largely hampered by the absence of direct contact with this section.
Finally, the greater the convenience provided for the lodgement and prosecution of applications, the higher the revenue, and furthermore, manufacturers, traders generally, and inventors outside Australia, will more readily interest themselves in this country with resultant greater flow of capital into manufactures in Australia.
These facts are contained in a circular published by four of the leading patent attorneys in Melbourne, and have been approved by a fifth. They are the five agents principally concerned in the location of the Patents Office, and their protest has been reinforced by that of the whole of the staff of the office in Melbourne.
– On what grounds has the staff protested?
– On various grounds,, the principal one being that examiners are experts, who are able to advise peopleseeking patents protection.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Balaclava should take a long-range view of this proposal.
– The range that the honorable member suggests is so long as to be beyond the vision of the people in Melbourne, who are principally concerned. I am making this protest mainly on the score of expense. The removal of the central office to Canberra will necessitate the establishment of another office in Melbourne, and that will mean duplication. The litigious aspect also must be considered. Frequently patents are infringed, wittingly and unwittingly, and when legal action is taken in Melbourne or Sydney, the case is dealt with in the ordinary courts, but if the central office is transferred to Canberra, any case of infringement will have to be heard by the High Court unless legislation is introduced to obviate that. Is not the business community sufficiently harassed already with industrial legislation and taxation, without being obliged to take to the High Court litigation relating to patents?
– The practice in future will be the same as it is in Sydney now.
– If the head office is removed to Canberra, legal action will have to be taken in the High Court.
I am sorry that heat is being engendered over geographical considerations. Whether the £55,000 involved in this transfer comes from trust funds or taxation, it will be taken from the pockets of people who are barely eking out an existence - the men on the land who have difficulty in carrying on, and harassed business men who for the last three years have been making heavy losses. This expense is being incurred merely because of a fetish that Canberra must be developed. Of course, we have to recognize that this city is the Federal Capital, but a period of depression is not the time for embarking on further expenditure to accelerate the growth of the city. The transfer of the Patents Office could reasonably be delayed for five or ten years. The Scullin Government announced that it intended to move the office from Melbourne to Canberra, but after protests in this Parliament by myself and others, the transfer was deferred. Some honorable members who are now opposing me supported my protest on that occasion, and I believe that if some of the neophytes who are now in favour of the transfer had been in Parliament when the Scullin Government proposed it, they would have joined me in opposing it. If the transfer was too costly then, it is too costly now, and the money involved might reasonably be saved. We have been told that all the patents business of the United States of America is concentrated in Washington; but there is no analogy between America and Australia. A definite expenditure is proposed at an inopportune time, and, in view of the protests which have been made, I ask the Minister to give a full explanation of the proposal, and to indicate what return may be expected from this outlay.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) said that there had been within recent years a considerable increase in the staff attached to the Patents Department, and asked whether the Department was paying its way. The revenue for the year 1931-32 amounted to £49,000, while the estimated revenue for 1932-33 is £50,000. The excess of revenue over expenditure for 1931-32 was £7,700, and it is estimated that for 1932-33 the excess of revenue over expenditure will be £8,400.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) expressed opposition to the proposed transfer of the Patents Department to Canberra. May I point out to the honorable member that when Canberra was established, it was never intended that the departments here should be a mere nucleus, with larger branches in the various capital cities. Rightly or wrongly, it was intended that this should be truly a national capital for Australia. It is reasonable, therefore, that we should continue to develop the city, and make it a national capital in every respect, but that cannot be done if we leave some of the departments in Melbourne. It would not be fair to the public in view of the money already spent here, nor would it be fair to these private citizens who have invested capital in Canberra. In seeking to develop Canberra as rapidly as possible, the Government is pursuing a sound business plan, and is rendering a service to the Commonwealth as a whole by seeking to obtain a return for the taxpayers money already spent. If all the Commonwealth departments were transferred to Canberra it is probable that before long the annual loss now incurred on Canberra would be turned into a profit. In my opinion, it is the solemn duty of members of this Parliament to further the interests of the National Capital, and, instead of talking it down and decrying it on every possible occasion, they should take up the cudgels on its behalf and defend it against those who, with little information, are prepared to condemn the whole enterprise. One of the best ways of helping Canberra to become the city it was intended to be is to transfer here as soon as possible all Commonwealth departments.
Moreover, the transfer of the Patents Department to Canberra is essentially a sound business proposition. The removal, it is estimated, will cost something like £17,817 from revenue this year. The acquisition in Melbourne of homes, assuming that 25 are taken over at a cost of £1,200 each, and the actual transfer expenses of officers can all be covered for the figure I have mentioned. There is in existence a trust fund which is established in connexion with the taking over of the homes of those officers already transferred to Canberra, and that fund is in credit to the extent of something like £28,000 at the present time.
– How much of that trust fund will be used in connexion with the proposed transfer.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Practically the whole of it will be absorbed. The possible benefits to be derived from the transfer will be the occupation of 44 additional houses in Canberra, which, at an average rental of 35s. a week, will return £4,000 a year. Additional revenue will be earned through motor registrations, electric light charges, &c, while if the premises now being occupied in Melbourne can be relet, an additional £3,000 will be saved. The total benefits, therefore, will amount to £7,000. From this must be deducted Canberra allowance estimated at £2,000, leaving net increased revenue of £5,000, which represents approximately 28 per cent, on the cost of removal.
Sib Littleton Groom. - That will be an annual benefit, as against removal expenses of £17,000.
– There will, be some additional expenditure next year. The figures I have quoted dispose of the assertion that the transfer will not be a sound business proposition.
The honorable member for Balaclava quoted the objections raised by certain business interests, in ‘Melbourne. The opinion of those who are personally interested can hardly be taken as a serious contribution to a debate on what is really a national undertaking. The. headquarters of the Patents Office is in Melbourne, and has been for years. In Sydney there is a branch office which costs not more than £750 a year to run, and serves the needs of a city of 1,250,000 inhabitants. Therefore, the citizens of Melbourne can have little real reason for complaint when it is proposed to provide for them the same facilities as are now provided in Sydney.
– Does the Minister suggest that the business people of Melbourne will be as efficiently served by a department in Canberra as they are by a department located in Melbourne?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.When patents are accepted, copies of the drawings and specifications are made and sent to the various patents offices, so that the Sydney office at present is able to provide practically the same convenience to the public as does the Melbourne office, except that, for the hearing of cases, the parties have to attend at Melbourne. That, however, does not occur very often. Even then, the citizens of Melbourne who will have to attend hearings at Canberra will be no worse off than are those of Sydney or Adelaide at the present time.
– It will be necessary to stock the Melbourne office with books and records, and this will entail additional expenditure.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.When I was Minister for the Interior I received a letter from a prominent firm of patent attorneys in Melbourne, whom I admire for the national view they took of this question. They said that they were one of the largest firms of the kind iri the city, but they felt that the proposed transfer was just and reasonable. They had never had occasion to apply to the head office for information which they could not have readily obtained at the counter as is done in Sydney.
– What is the name of that firm.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The firm was G. G. Turri and Company, doing business at the Rialto, 499 Collinsstreet, Melbourne.
– They are in the minority.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.In Australia, the public receives much better service from the Patents Office than do the public of America with its population of 120,000,000 people: There they have only one office, situated in Washington, and any one desiring to transact business with it must go to Washington for the purpose. In England the only Patents Office is in London.
– But it is only a hop, step, and a jump from one end of England to the other.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That interjection is absurd, and should not have been made in connexion with a serious subject such as we are now discussing. If the people of England are able to manage well with one Patents Office, it surely cannot be seriously suggested that the people of Australia will be inconvenienced by the removal of the Patents Office from Melbourne to Canberra under the conditions I have outlined. In the letter from Messrs. G. G. Turri and Company, to which I have already referred, the following paragraph appears : -
When Mr. Brown was the Commissioner of Patents we, during the whole time he occupied it, never once had occasion to visit him personally, or to discuss any matter personally with the officers except once, when one of our patents was, after acceptance, opposed, so that a sort of court was held, the proceedings taking only half a day.
Now, Australians are favored at present in some such “ court “ cases by visits which are paid by the Commissioner of Patents to Sydney from Melbourne, and would be paid from Canberra to Melbourne similarly at intervals when an accumulation of special matters rendered it worth while. Nothing of that kind is done in any other part of the world, so that our privileges here would be so great that it might fairly he said that we in Melbourne had never lost our Patents Office at all, but merely that part of it which comprised chiefly the examining and governing staff.
That is the view of a firm of patent attorneys which operates on a large scale. It must be clear, therefore, that very little, if any, inconvenience would result from the proposed transfer. Another paragraph in the letter reads as follows : -
We do not presume to pass’ any opinion whatever upon the cost of the transfer, as we do not know, and have no data to guide us; but it is clear that some very wildly exaggerated figure, a have been mentioned in the press by those who are opposed to the transfer. It does seem that the depression in the price of houses in Melbourne would lead to a loss if pre-depression prices were paid for those houses by the Commonwealth, but it may be many years before these pre-depression prices return.
Surely honorable members realize that the officers of the Patents Office who may be transferred from Melbourne to Canberra are in exactly the same position as officers of banking and insurance companies, or other large institutions of this country who may be transferred from one branch of their firm to another. Unless the officers of such firms are prepared to accept transfers they must retire. It must be remembered that a number .of the officers of the Patents Department who will be transferred are near the retiring age. In their case it is hardly likely that they will transfer their families to Canberra. They would, undoubtedly, prefer to retain their Melbourne homes and live in lodgings in this city until they retire. In their case,’ certainly, there will be very little difficulty in regard to properties.
A great many of the public servants who were transferred to Canberra years ago, came here very reluctantly. I was in very close association with many of them while I was Minister for the Interior, and I wish to say that no people in Australia are more worthy of admiration than the people of this city for the public spirit they have shown and the manner in which they have adapted themselves to their new conditions with the object of building up a worthy national capital. The public servants who have come here have shown a truly national spirit, and are entitled to the support of this Parliament and this Government, particularly in respect to the transfer of other departments which must ultimately be located in this city, in seeking to build up in Canberra a truly Australian centre with a truly Australian spirit.
– I wish to make one or two observations on the speeches delivered this afternoon by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), in regard to arbitration. In my speech in the budget debate, I dealt at some length with this subject, and I do not propose to do so on this occasion. Both of the honorable gentlemen whom I have mentioned, re-echoed the sentiment which I expressed in my budget speech to the effect that if in a time of adversity it became necessary for every one to make sacrifices to share the general loss, then the principle of sharing should be followed in a time of prosperity. I do not think that any fairminded person can do other than agree with that view. But at that point I part company with my honorable friends. They take the view that prosperity can best be shared by means of the arbitration system. I take the view that the arbitration system prevents the sharing of prosperity. From time to time our arbitration authorities have to deal with industrial affairs of very great complexity, and they cannot do more than lay down minima. But the degree of prosperity differs considerably in various industries. The courts cannot, therefor, make a common rule which will apply equitably throughout the whole field of industry. If it is desired that the sharing of prosperity shall apply in good times to offset the necessary sacrifices in bad times, that can only be done effectively by the representatives of particular industries working it out for themselves, having regard to the economic circumstances surrounding their own industry.
I have vainly searched through the Estimates for the vote for the Department of Industry. We have a Minister for Industry, a Department of Industry, and stationery headed “ Department of Industry”; but I cannot find any reference in the Estimates to this department. I am advised that the expenditure must be included in that provided for the Attorney-General’s Department, and that is my reason for referring to the matter at this point. One would expect that the Department of Industry has some staff and incurs certain expenditure ; but apparently it is not so. This Government has been in office for nearly a year. There has been any amount of time and opportunity for the Department of Industry to give some evidence that it is at work. There is ample room for such a department. In fact, in the present circumstances of the country, it should be one of the principal departments of the Government. A properly organized Department of Industry should have a bigger job to do than the PostmasterGeneral’s Department or the Department of the Interior. In fact, it should be second in importance only to the Department of the Treasury. I know that there is a reference in the Estimates to the Industrial Registrar, but that officer is connected with the Arbitration Court, and not with the Department of Industry. In the circumstances of to-day, when our social order is so gravely overshadowed by the serious problem of unemployment and when industrial changes of vast significance are taking place with great rapidity, the Department of Industry should be doing important work. Scattered through our organization of government arc four principal activities which touch things industrial and things social. First, there is the Development Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department, and secondly there is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Surely these two activities should be operating side by side, for development depends upon and is inseparable from scientific and industrial research. These two activities could be associated with great advantage to the Commonwealth. The third important aspect of industry is that which is dealt with by the Arbitration Court. These are three of the four legs upon which industry stands. The fourth is connected with the great problem of unemployment, and it surely calls for full-time consideration and a greater degree of concentration than ever before. It seems to me that this problem is not being faced as it should be faced by a National Parliament. Representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments meet at odd intervals and, as the result of their deliberations, apply to the banks for money. Presumably when this is obtained it is spent in certain directions in the relief of unemployment. Although I am a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, I do not know how the money is being spent, nor what impression the spending of it is making on the unemployment situation of the Commonwealth. In this respect I suppose I am in the same position as other honorable members of this Parliament. This is due to the fact that this Parliament is not facing this vital issue as it is facing other important administrative acts of the Government. I have, on previous occasions, offered the suggestion that the Development Branch, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, unemployment, and other cognate subjects should be regarded in proper perspective with the other problems of the Government, and dealt with in a more effective manner. Certainly the problems of unemployment demand continuous concentration, expert skill, and wise handling. There is an insistent call for a proper organization to handle these problems, and I consider that they could be effectively dealt with by a well-organized Department of Industry. I hope that the Government will give careful consideration to this suggestion.
.- In discussing the proposed vote for the Attorney-General’s Department, some honorable members have criticized the operation of our system of conciliation and arbitration. There are others who believe in the total abolition of that system, and, like the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), advocate what he terms the get-together movement, or a system of round-table conferences between employees and employers. I have heard honorable members support this system, on several occasions, when, in order to holster up their arguments, they have stated what, in their opinion, are the advantages of round-table conferences. The honorable member for Denison has told us what has occurred in connexion with companies with which he has been associated. I, however, have received information from a person conversant with the conditions under which one, at least, of the firms with which the honorable member was associated conducts its operations, the Zinc Company Proprietary Limited, of which my correspondent says the honorable member for Denison i3 still the industrial officer. He states -
This company procured exemption from the Arbitration Court on account of its so-called co-operative activities, and the Industrial Wages Board, which consists of five representatives of the company and five employees. This board lays down that the employees must be represented by men working on the plant while the company’s representatives, although working for the company, are highly trained men.
I am informed that two of the representatives of the employers on this wages board are men with trained legal minds-
– That is incorrect.
– My correspondent states further -
So far as the conferences between the men and the company are concerned they are absolutely waste of time as no matter what proposals are put forward by the works committee they can only go to the general superintendent and any advantage to the men working on the plant is at all times turned down by him. In March of last year the company had their Zinc Industries Wages Board called together for the purpose of obtaining the 10 per cent, reduction in wages. In putting their case, they promised that if successful to keep all their men employed but as soon as their application was granted, they at once put in the pruning knife and dismissed between 300 and 4.00 mcn besides introducing a cruel and unnecessary system of rationing. This system operated differently in the various departments, one branch being compelled to sign a form asking for a fortnight’s leave of absence, while in another department men who bad served the company faithfully for ten years and more wore dismissed for one month at the end of which they were taken on as. new hands, and thereby lost their continuity of service. This latter system was applied to two employees only as it caused such unrest in the department it was operating in that the company thought it wise to alter their tactics, and so introduced the yellow form compelling the men to ask for a month’s leave of absence and this continued in operation until the 22nd February of this year, when one of tlie men refused to sign the form. His reason for refusing to sign was that on the form is a space for giving the reason why the leave of absence was required, but the man himself was not allowed to give the reason. The company took upon themselves the right to do this after the signatures of the men had been obtained.
– That man is not an employee of the company, and 90 per cent, of the information contained in the letter is incorrect.
– Well, I do not intend to disclose the name of the writer; if I did so, he would be victimized next week. The letter continues -
In connexion with public holidays, they do not get paid for the public holidays. Instead the company has a system of bonus leave in which shift workers get thirteen days and day workers nine days each year. This scheme works on a sliding scale, as for instance, one man who was dismissed for a month had been in the company’s employ for seven months from the date of his previous holiday to the date of dismissal, and had lost live and a half public holidays for which he got four days bonus leave. Another case is that of a man who was dismissed altogether and who had been in the company’s employ for live months and had lost eight public holidays for which he received two days’ leave.
The honorable member has frequently stated that this system has been operating most successfully, and that there have been no disturbances of the industrial relations between the company and its employees.
– That is not so.
– The writer further states that -
In regard to the wharf work at Risdon, although the men work under waterside workers’ conditions, they Ill(3 deprived of- the “ smoko “ which is provided for both morning and afternoon. There was a dispute with the Amalgamated Engineering Union in 1922, when the company locked them out for six weeks. They also had a dispute with the carpenters and one on the waterfront. The dispute with the Amalgamated Engineering Union was over 44 hours. There is so much discontent on the job owing to the present tactics of this company, that the employees’ representatives are talking about breaking the works committee up as it ia only a farce and there are very few men working at Risdon who do not wish to be covered by the Arbitration Court.
Evidently there is not unanimity between the employers and the employees in this instance, and, the so-called get-together scheme, or round-table conferences have not achieved the success which the honorable member has suggested. Any one who knows anything concerning the methods adopted at such conferences is aware that it is the practice of the employers to tell the employees in offering certain wages and conditions to “ take it or leave it “’. Owing to their economic conditions, the employees are compelled to accept the terms of the employers, because they realize that there are hundreds of others ready to take their places if they do not.
Much can be said in opposition to our present arbitration system, especially when it happens to be one under which decisions given against the men can be upheld by the Government, and when they are against them, can be upset. In looking through the items, it is rather amusing- to find that large amounts are provided to meet the cost of travelling allowances. I take it that included in the item “ travelling allowances”, a large suan is provided to meet the travelling expenses of the judiciary.
– To what item is the honorable member referring?
– To the travelling expenses of the members of the High Court Bench, the Arbitration Court judges^ and those associated with the administration of our bankruptcy law-. I have been informed that the travelling allowances of the judiciary are included in this item. Arbitration Court judges, when determining the cases brought before them, have frequently referred to– the fall in the national income, a-nd’ have told the workers that they must be prepared to accept reductions because other sections of the community have suffered. They have talked- of the- necessity of “ equality of sacrifice.” I- ask honorable members whether the members of the judiciary should not participate in this equality of sacrifice, which they continually insist should be applied to others. Last year, when effect was being given to legislation with the object of balancing the budget, the Government suggested- that the members of the judiciary should, in common with other public servants, agree to the reduction of their remuneration. The .Government, realizing that the salaries- of the members of the judiciary are- protected- by the Constitution; asked them whether they would voluntarily reduce their own remuneration. Many of the judges had not the- decency to reply to the communica tions sent to them. Mr. Justice Lukin, who has now been transferred to the bankruptcy administration, definitely stated that he would not be prepared to agree to any reduction, and I understand that Mr. Judge Drake-Brockman adopted a similar- attitude.. These are some of the men. who speak of the need of accepting equality of sacrifice to workmen who are getting only £3 10s. a week, which is the basic wage now in New South Wales. I understand that the Chief Justice of the High Court receives £3,000 a year, and the other judges of that court £2,500 a year. In addition to that handsome remuneration, they are each allowed £2 2s. a day as travelling expenses. Mr. Justice Lukin, in addition to his remuneration, receives a pension from the Queensland Government of £1,000 a year.
– I ask the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to connect his remarks with an item in the Estimates.
– I am dealing with the item of travelling expenses, which includes the travelling allowances paid to judges. These gentlemen are always anxious to apply the pruning knife to others, and’ to recommend equality of sacrifice, and I submit that this is an- occasion on which we can, in some measure, apply it to them by reducing- the amount provided to- cover their travelling expenses. As Mr. Justice Lukin and Mr. Judge Drake-Brockman were not prepared to accept voluntarily the reduction of their remuneration, we have the right to reduce their travelling allowances.
Mr-. Dennis. - If that is done,, they will not travel so much.
– That is a matter, for those concerned to decide. Not only did these- gentlemen- refuse to reduce their salaries voluntarily, but they declined togive reasons for refusing. When they reduce workers’ wages they go into much detail to show the necessity for such reduc-tions-; but, when their own conduct isconcerned, they decline to give any reasons at all for the action they take. From time to time honorable members- have asked- questions in an. endeavour to inducethe Government to table the correspondence which passed between- the Government and? Mr; Justice Lukin and Mr’. Judge Drake-Brockman.
– I rise to a point oforder. I submit that, in dealing with the item, thehonorable member for East Sydney is not entitled to discuss the work of thejudiciary.
– I submit that it is competent for the honorable member to do so. On page 79 of the Estimates the sum of £3,000 is provided for travelling expenses, and the judiciary is concerned in these payments. This is the only opportunity honorable members have to discuss this subject. Seeing that the salaries of the judiciary are provided for under special appropriation, the committee can surely take this opportunity to force these gentlemen to recognize in a measure their obligation to the community, particularly at a time when sacrifices are being made by other persons. As the committee is not entitled to deal withthe salaries of the judges, it should be permitted to approach the subject from another angle.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may not discuss the work of the judiciary.
– In discussing the expenditure of the Attorney-General’s Department, consideration may, at least, be given to the amount provided for travelling allowances forthe judges. On the 9thOctober last year, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) asked the Prime Minister the following questions : -
Will he lay upon the table of the House the correspondence between the Government and JudgesLukin and Drake-Brockman, regarding the proposed salary reduction of 22½ per cent?
The then Prime Minister said -
I will communicate with the judges mentioned, and ascertain whether they are agreeable to the publication of thecorrespondence.
Later, when the honorablemember pressed for an answer, the then Prime Minister said -
No communicationhas yet beenreceived from the judges inreply to the letter forwarded to them ‘by myself.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I must ask the honorable member to connecthis remarks with a particular item of expenditure provided under this department.
– An item covering the travelling allowances of the judiciary is includedunder the Attorney-General’s
Department. These judges are not prepared to make the sacrifices which they expect others to make, and the committee would be justified inreducing their travellingallowances, and so compelling them to use a portion of the handsome salaries they receive in paying for their travelling out of their own pockets. That is my view. I have in mind some recentdecisions. The Minister says that we must not discuss the judiciary.
– That is for the Chair to decide.
– On many occasions honorable members haveendeavoured to secure this information, but so concerned have Government members been with preventing any discussion of the decisions of the judgesthat they were prepared to move “ That the question be now put “, or to leave the House withouta quorum, in order to stifle discussion. Honorable members who wish to refer to this subject must therefore take the opportunities that offer to draw public attention to these things. If the Government really believes inequality of sacrifice it could not do betterthan cut out the amount provided forthetravelling expenses of judges.
.- The sum of £9,334 is set down for theCommonwealth Investigation Branch, a section of the Public Service whose activities are little known. I do not propose to discuss in detail the work of this branch ; but shall confine my remarks to one of its most important duties. The staff of the branch totals 27, and although the work these officers are called upon to perform has increased considerably during recent years noaddition to the personnel is contemplated in these Estimates. The work carried out by the Investigation Branch covers income tax and customs inquiries, and minorinvestigations, as well as duties of such importance as the policing ofthe drug traffic. It is about its work in connexion with the drug traffic that I desire to speak.
Formany years the control of illicit drug tradinghas caused the civilized world much thought. A convention held at the Hague in 1912started the civilized nations along the road of planning for the adequate controlof this traffic. That convention was followed in 1925 by a convention of the League of Nations, which was attended by representatives of many of the civilized nations. On that occasion preliminary arrangements were made for the more effective control of the traffic in dangerous drugs, which was all too prevalent at that time; but for various reasons, the nations did not agree to tho recommendations of the convention as quickly as was expected. To-day 48 nations, including Australia, have accepted them. The illicit trade in drugs threatens civilization more as the years roll by. Its control in Australia is the work of the Investigation Branch, but because of its lack of numbers, the branch is not able to do what it should in that direction. In 1931, a convention was held at Bangkok, in Siam, to which many of the nations sent representatives ; but, although the convention was held so close to Australia, no representative of this country was present. An agreement made at that convention for the manufacture and disposal of opium was later ratified by the 48 countries, including Australia, which were signatories to the’ League of Nations convention. In my opinion Anstralia i3 not discharging her obligations to the world in connexion with the illicit drug trade, because the branch whose duty it is to police that trade is overworked.
– The responsibility for the opium traffic in China lies at the door of Great Britain.
– In that case, Australia should fall into Hue with Great Britain in endeavouring to rectify the wrong done by our grandfathers.
Let me draw attention to the activities of the opium manufacturers in Persia, a country not far from Australia. The Government of Persia, having a monopoly of the manufacture of opium, transferred its business to a concessionaire, who was responsible for supplying a certain quantity of opium to Vladivostock. For some time the normal supply of opium to Vladivostock was about 250,000 lb. per annum, but in 1930 the concessionaire concluded a contract with his principals in Vladivostock for the supply of 900,000 lb. of opium. Honorable members probably know that opium is the foundation of certain well-known drugs such as morphine and heroin. Vladivostock appears to be one of the main distributing centres for the illicit drugs which are smuggled into this country. Morphia, morphine, heroin and cocaine, - the last named being produced from the coca tree, the growth of which is confined almost entirely to Java - have valuable medicinal qualities; they are good friends but bad masters. The ruin caused by their illegitimate use among civilized people is paralleled only by the damage they cause in less civilized communities, where the native population has followed the bad example set by the supposedly civilized white population. The figures I have given in respect of Vladivostock show a surplus of 650,000 lb. of opium entering Vladivostock through the agency of this Persian concessionaire, hut not all of that opium was consumed in the region surrounding Vladivostock, for the downtrodden population of that region could not afford to buy so much of this expensive drug. Vladivostock is the entrepot from which morphia, heroin and the other derivatives of opium are smuggled into Australia. Notwithstanding the menace of this illicit drug trade, our Investigation Branch, which is supposed to police the traffic, comprises only 27 officers. In my opinion, we are only playing with this danger, and while we are playing, some of our citizens are being ruined. Only within the last day or two we read in the Sydney newspapers of the arrest of two Chinamen in Sydney who had cocaine concealed on them. We do not know how many others engaged in the traffic have escaped arrest. Those engaged in smuggling opium into Australia do not trade in large quantities, and tho work of the Investigation Branch is thereby rendered much more difficult, because small parcels of drugs are so easily concealed. Various methods of evading detection are practised ; drugs are placed in the big ends of engines, in the soles of boots, and in the double bottoms and water tanks of vessels trading to Australia. The enormous profits made by those engaged in the traffic compensate them for the risk involved. The drugs, which are. imported in a highly concentrated form, are sold to the unfortu- nate addicts greatly adulterated. The drugs act as a temporary stimulant; but, unfortunately, when their effect has worn off, the poor addict is left in a more depressed state than before.
Other countries are making an earnest attempt to deal with this problem. The principal manufacturing countries of Europe are making a definite attempt to control the manufacture and distribution of drugs, and their example could well be followed by Australia. The last recorded figures show that the principal drug manufacturing countries reduced their production of drugs during the four years 1926 to 1930 by 68,000 lb. in the case of morphine ; by 7,700 lb. in the case of heroin, and by 10,000 lb. in the case of cocaine. Their action was a most effective step in the right direction. Germany and France, which are among the principal drug manufacturing nations, made an even better contribution to the control of this traffic than the figures indicate, as is evidenced by the following table showing the production of drugs in those countries : -
Despite all the care exercised in policing the traffic in narcotics and other drugs, the principal manufacturing countries have been forced to admit that during the period I have mentioned 4,750 lb. of morphine and 4,000 lb. of heroin “ escaped “. They know that that quantity was manufactured in excess of the amount legitimately disposed of; but they do not know where it went. We can only assume that it was smuggled into other countries. The principal drugusing countries of the world are North America, Egypt and the Far East ; but as a discussion of the effects of the illicit drug traffic there would. take me too far from Australia, and perhaps would not be in order, I shall npt refer to the matter further. It is of sad interest that drugs like morphine, cocaine, and heroin can be purchased comparatively easily in Australia.
– Is the use of drugs in Australia on the increase?
– I have not been able to obtain any figures to show that the illicit use of drugs is on the increase in Australia; but from inquiries which I have made from responsible and reputable people, it would appear that the habit is growing. That impression is not, however, borne out by the figures presented to the League of Nations by various countries.
– Has the honorable member figures ( showing the imports of cocaine into Australia ?
– No; and even if I had, they would show only the imports of cocaine for purely medicinal purposes. I have nothing to say against the use of these drugs by the proper authorities; my complaint is against their illegal use. The harm which addiction to drugs is causing throughout the world is too terrible almost for words. In his evidence, given before the royal commission appointed by this Parliament in 1907 to inquire into this subject, the president of the Pharmacy Board of New South Wales made the almost unbelievable statement that he knew of a woman who offered to sell her daughter’s honour for the money wherewith to buy morphine. Could anything be more terrible than that? In view of all the circumstances which I have related, it is, I submit, the duty of all governments in Australia to take more active measures to control this pernicious traffic.
.- I should like some explanation from the Minister with reference to the item “ Conciliation Commissioner, £1,250.” My impression is that conciliation is dead in Australia, and that the commissioner has no function to exercise. Consequently, the maintenance of his office is of no practical value. I should like to hear what the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral has to say in justification of the continuance of this office, when, for all practical purposes, there has been a cessation of conciliation proceedings under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
I also direct attention to the increase of expenditure for the Attorney-General’s Department. As we are all pledged to reduce governmental expenditure, it is disappointing to me, as one who under-‘ took to do what I could to bring about a reduction, to find that some departments are maintaining expenditure at very nearly the old standard, and that, in the case of the Attorney-General’s Department, there is an increase of expenditure over that of last year.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. E. Harrison) with reference to the traffic in drugs. The Commonwealth Investigation Branch and the customs officials in New South Wales are doing excellent work to confine it to the firms which handle this class of trade, and I believe that the traffic in cocaine is now restricted to a number of reputable firms. There is, however, one matter to which I desire to direct attention, namely, the regulations dealing with the sale of local anaesthetics in Australia. As many of these anaesthetics contain approximately only 1 per cent, of cocaine, and are in a solution, the formula of which includes antiseptics and antidotes, the regulations governing their sale are a source of irritation to those firms which have to deal in the drug, and are unnecessary, as their sale is confined to doctors and dentists only. I am informed that this solution will not do harm; that although it might induce sickness in the person taking it, it is not likely to make him a drug addict. Therefore, the regulations might very well be rescinded.
.- I compliment the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) upon the interesting information which he has given to the committee concerning the extent of the traffic in drugs and the measures taken to control it. I disagree with the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) that 1 per cent, of cocaine in a local anaesthetic is not injurious. My view of the matter is that cocaine is most insidious in its effect upon the person taking it, so much so that doctors using it would do well not to inform their patients. We are all familiar with the known evils of the opium trade. On my last visit to Japan 1 saw, in one of the islands at which the vessel touched, opium being smoked publicly in a place licensed by the British Government. Gaming also was permitted there. We have good reason to blush when we recall the history of the opium trade. Its introduction to China in opposition to the wishes of the Emperor and his advisers was the cause of a most awful war, in which thousands of men, women, and children suffered terribly. For man; years the profits from, the opium trade played an important part in balancing Indian budgets. Luckily those days are passing, and soon I hope to see traffic in opium completely abolished. The debates in the Swiss Parliament reveal the fact that England was rather dilatory in following the lead of other nations in putting down this pernicious trade, but I am glad to know that the Mother Country has seen the error of her ways, and that the crusade against drug traffic in all its forms is now being conducted on a wide front throughout the world. I hope that the Minister for Health (Mr. Marr), for whom I have the highest esteem, will take up this matter, and see what further action can be taken to check the illicit sale of drugs in Australia. Deaths in this country from small-pox or the plague are comparatively unknown because of the measures taken to prevent the introduction of those contagious diseases. I remember only one case of death from plague in Victoria. This trifling mortality was due, in no small measure, to the excellent work done by the late Dr. Creswell, who, for many years, was chairman of the Victorian Board of Public Health. I should like to see the Commonwealth Health Department give more attention to the general health of the people, and especially to be more active in checking the awful drug traffic- I know that a good deal of this class of trade is being carried on in Sydney. For a long time I have been endeavouring to trace it. If at any time I obtain definite information about it, I shall only be too pleased to collaborate with the honorable member for Bendigo and do my utmost, in season *.nA out of season, to put it down.
Question - That the amendment proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Blakeley’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- At the present time, there are branches of the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office only in Melbourne and Sydney. Last March, I asked what was the estimate of the cost of establishing a branch in Brisbane, which is the third largest capital city in Australia, and how the estimate was made up. The reply that I received was that the estimated cost was £1,750 per annum, exclusive of rent. I was informed that-
This estimate is arrived at as follows: - Staff, £1,550; contingencies, £200. Premises might possibly be obtained in the General Post Office, Brisbane, otherwise rent would be an addition to this estimate.
It was also pointed out that there would be other costs, which were estimated to amount to £500. Last month, I asked what amounts were paid to legal firms in Brisbane and other places in Queensland during the last five years. The reply that I received stated that in Brisbane alone an amount of £4,920 0s. 4d., on account of costs, was paid to one legal firm, Messrs. Chambers, McNab and Company, and that in addition there were reimbursements and out-of-pocket payments: totalling £2,26018s. 8d. On these figures the payments in Brisbane alone to private legal firms are in the vicinity of £1,000 per annum apart from reimbursements and out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, according to the figures that have been supplied to me, several hundreds of pounds are paid to private firms in other Queensland cities. Therefore, the expense connected with the establishment of a branch of the Crown Solicitor’s Office at Brisbane would not be very much greater than is involved under the present system. The administration of justice is so important that, unless a very large amount were involved, every endeavour should be made to establish this branch. Doubtless, the particularfirm mentioned carries out the work capably and well; but it is questionable if it is wise to leave with a private firm the determination of whether a prosecution shall or shall not be instituted.
Under the Financial Emergency Act, passed last year, the Full Court of the High Court now sits only in Sydney and Melbourne. There are three branches of the controlling power of a nation - the legislature, the administration, and the judiciary. In Australia, the legislature and the administration operate in Canberra; and I consider that it would be in the best interests of the community if the judiciary also had its headquarters here, or if that be considered impracticable, that the High Court should at least sit here occasionally.
– That would be both inconvenient and costly.
– The same argument applies to other departments.I am in favour of Canberra being the seat of government, though I know that many members are opposed to it. But as the matter has passed beyond the stage of argument, and millions of pounds have been spent on Canberra, it is the duty of the Government to complete the transfer of the different departments as expeditiously as possible, and particularly to see that the courts are established here. I should like the Full Court of the High Court again to sit in Brisbane and the other capital cities; but perhaps in the interests of economy that may not be advisable at the present time.
I notice that only four persons are employed in the bankruptcy administration in Brisbane, whereas there are eleven in Adelaide, ten in Perth, and a larger number in every other centre.
– No one is going bankrupt in Queensland.
– That is understandable, since there was a change of government on the 11th June last. I should bo interested to learn whether the Registrar of Bankruptcy in Queensland has applied for additional staff during the last twelve months, and also the reason for the staff there being smaller than in the other States.
No salary is provided for the Official Receiver in New South Wales, who I
Understand is a private individual. In Queensland a State employee acts as Official Receiver, and in other States federal employees do that work. I understand that the New South Wales officer is over 72 years of age. Although he is not a Commonwealth public servant, he is being paid by the Commonwealth Government, and the rule of the Public Service relating to retirement at the age of 65 years ought to apply to him.
I appeal to the Government to reconsider the case of those public servants on less than the basic wage who, since the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator was upset, have suffered a cost of living deduction under the last Financial Emergency Act. If the Government is determined to adhere to its decision not to allow the award of the Arbitrator, these officers should not have those extra pounds deducted from their salaries. Exemption should be granted also in the case of those who receive the basic wage, but have dependants. That is the case with married men. Whether married or single, if an officer over 21 years of age has dependants or receives less than the basic wage, he should not suffer the cost of living deduction recently made.
.- Consideration of the suggestion that the headquarters of the High Court of Australia should be in Canberra shows how hopeless it is to expect to make this city a really national capital. New court buildings would have to be erected at the costs ruling in Canberra, and there would have to be a new library costing many thousands of pounds. Those concerned in matters that came before the court would be put to great expense and inconvenience in order to attend the sittings of the court. There would be a considerable increase in- the travelling expenses of the justices, their staffs, the court reporters, and all the other impedimenta associated with a travelling court. Advocates would have to come from the other capital cities, and the extra cost to litigants would be tremendous. The details of the proposal have only to be mentioned to show what a hopeless sacrifice would be involved.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) elaborated to some extent this afternoon views that he expressed on a former occasion. I undertake to bring them to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral.
The question of holding sittings of the High Court at Canberra is being considered by the Attorney-General and the officers of his department. There are many difficulties associated with the matter, an important one being that of securing juries if public servants are exempt from acting in that capacity.
At the present time quite a number of anomalies exist in the administration of bankruptcy, due to the fact that the Commonwealth has assumed jurisdiction only within the last few years. It is expected that before long much smoother working will be achieved. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Baker) correctly stated the age of the Official Receiver in New South Wales ; but that gentleman is not a member of the Commonwealth Public Service and no retirement conditions apply to him.
The establishment of a branch office of the Crown Solicitor at Brisbane is under consideration. It would be a considerable undertaking. The Government wishes to restrict expenditure as much as possible, consistent with the dispensing of justice and the convenience of the public. That is the only information I am able to give the committee at this stage; but I give an assurance that a record is being taken of the matters on which I am unable to enlighten honorable members, which will receive the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham).
The honorable member for Perth also referred to the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. Coneybeer. It is difficult to assess the value and extent of this gentleman’s activities, as they do not receive publicity; but I know that his predecessor, Mr. Stewart, did most valuable work when he occupied the office, and I am informed that Mr. Coneybeer is performing work that is of considerable importance to the community. The act provides for the appointment of conciliation commissioners, whose duty it is to endeavour to prevent industrial disturbances, and I am confident that the appointment of Mr. Coneybeer is justified.
– No mention is made of the salary paid to the Public Service Arbitrator winch, I understand, is approximately £2,200. Will the Minister enlighten me on the point?
– The salary of the Public Service Arbitrator is £1,554 per annum.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £355,000.
– I again raise the matter of the number of architects employed in the Department of the Interior. I gave details when I spoke on the subject during the budget debate, and, if I do not receive a satisfactory explanation from the Minister, I intend to move for a reduction of the vote. This year, when only £963,000 is to be expended on new works and ‘buildings, there are 32 architects on the staff, while during the years 1926 to 1930, when the expenditure on new works and buildings averaged £6,533,690, the average number of architects employed was 58£. In reply to my statement, the Minister for Health (Mr. Marr) declared that a number of these architects were engaged on work for the Common wealth Bank which is not shown in the Estimates. I replied that architects were doing similar work during 1926-27, to which the Minister responded that the agreement between the Commonwealth Bank and the Government had not then been entered into.” The committee should at least receive accurate information from the Minister. I have made inquiries from the Secretary to the Department of the Interior, and find that the agreement with the bank was made in October, 1925, which indicates that the Minister was deliberately misleading honorable members, as he should have had the information at his disposal. I shall be glad to learn exactly what work was done for each of the years I have mentioned, so that it may be compared with the work that is contemplated during the present financial year. I question whether the retention of such a considerable staff is justified. I have no desire to select the architects for special attack. So far as I am aware, I do not know one of them. I merely desire to ascertain whether tha department is over-staffed.
At page 102, there is an item “ Telephone service, including installation, rent, calls, extension, repair and maintenance, £3,330,” which /elates to telephone service provided in the federal members’ rooms in the various States. Recently, in answer to a question, I obtained details of this expenditure, and, by calculating the aggregate number of honorable’ members and honorable senators, I was able to determine the comparative expenditure for the representatives of the various States. I nave not the exact figures of expenditure, but the comparison between New South Wales and Victoria is as 18 is to 12; between New South Wales and Queensland as 18 is to 5; between New South Wales and South Australia as 18 is to 2£; between New South Wales and Western Australia as 18 is to 3; and between New South Wales and Tasmania as 18 is to 1. Melbourne has practically the same standing as Sydney, and therefore one wonders why there is such a discrepancy between the amounts expended on telephone calls in the federal members’ rooms at those capitals. Members representing four States pass through Melbourne and members representing two States pass through Sydney; but the numbers in each instance are practically the same. I should like the Minister to explain why the expenditure on telephone calls at the federal members’ room at Sydney is so much greater than it is inthe other capital cities.
– What is the expenditure -in each State?
– The expenditure in New South Wales was £730; in Victoria, £391; in Queensland, £111; in South -Australia, £48; in Western Australia, £52; and in Tasmania, £17.
– How does the honorable member account for the difference between that expenditure and the expenditure of £3,124 appearing in the Estimates ^
– That I cannot tell the honorable member. One amount was obtained from the department, and the other from the Estimates of expenditure for last year. The honorable member will notice that the item reads “ Telephone service, including installation “. A considerable portion of the expenditure of £3,124 may represent the cost of installation. The estimate of expenditure this year is £3,330. I do not know whether there is any urgent need for additional installations in the federal members’ rooms. There is certainly no need for it in South Australia.
– The cost of installation comes under the Postmaster-General’s Department.
– It would first be a charge on the Department for the Interior and then be transferred by book entry to the Postmaster-General’s Department. I should like from the Minister some information respecting the two matters to which I have referred.
.- With regard to the item covering the ministerial visit to the Northern Territory, the estimated expenditure this year is £240, while the amount expended last year was £110. Will the Minister explain how that expenditure was incurred, and what was the length of the visit ?
I come now to the Electoral Office. I have been informed that absentee votes are included in the ballot and that no check is made on them until after the declaration of the poll. If that is so, I suggest to the Minister that absentee votes be checked with the official voting lists* before the declaration of the poll.
[6.11 J . - A few days ago the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) referred at some length to the number of architects employed by the department. He quoted certain figures, in respect of which I have had a statement prepared. Before reading it, I wish to say that during the week-end I called at the head office in Sydney and was informed by the officer-in-charge that, notwithstanding the depression, the office is busier now than it has been for the past seven or eight years, and that, far from the staff being too numerous, it is in fact undermanned. For some time the office has had more work than it can cope with, mainly because of the construction of the Commonwealth Bank. In addition, the ramifications of the department extend over a vast area. If only one job were being undertaken this year, four or five architects would be sufficient; but in the various States there are numerous jobs which require a considerable staff of architects and supervisors. During the past three years many officers registered and classified as architects have been doing merely supervising work. They are not even doing draughtsmen’s work. Some of them are acting as inspectors of work. But they all contend that they should be classed as architects.
– Have they the necessary qualifications?
– Yes. Some of the clerical officers of the department are receiving higher salaries than architects who are to-day carrying out subordinate duties. Therefore, the figures given in the Estimates are, in a sense, somewhat misleading; but I can quite understand the attitude of the honorable member for Angas, because he has placed a natural interpretation on them.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In stating that certain architects had been wrongly classified, I was not alluding to the present financial year. The wrong classification ceased at the end of June. All the officers shown on the Estimates for the present year as architects are correctly described, although they are not all actually employed upon architectural work. I would inform the honorable member for Angas that the expenditure figures quoted by him, particularly in relation to the earlier years referred to, do not reflect the true position, as 90 per cent, of such amounts relates to services being carried out for other organizations. Such services include immigration, defence equipment, Commonwealth railways construction, postal services, River Murray works, &c. Moreover, the printed estimates do not reflect the total expenditure by the works and services branch of the department, as a great deal of work is carried out on behalf of other administrations, notably the Commonwealth Bank, the Repatriation Commission, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, &c. In addition, during the past two years, large amounts have been made available for unemployment relief works, which are not shown in the Estimates.
With regard to works carried out for outside administrations, the department is being paid fees in respect of such expenditure amounting to 6 per cen’t. on the cost of construction. During the year 1931-32, a sum of approximately £31,000 was received in respect of such fees, and - the estimated receipts for 1932-33 total £18,000. In considering the staff required for a given amount of expenditure, attention must be given to the character of the works included in such expenditure. The programme of works for the current financial year involves an outlay of approximately £750,000. If this were devoted to one building scheme, three or / four architects would be sufficient. An analysis of the programme, however, indicates that the major portion of the amount will be spent on a multiplicity of small works, additions, alterations, repairs, and maintenance, averaging in cost from £100 to £200. There are approximately 400 jobs of this character, widely distributed in the metropolitan and country areas throughout the Commonwealth, many of them being in remote localities. Each of these requires specifications, plans in many cases, and supervision, practically all of which must be carried out locally, thus requiring a relatively greater number of architects than if the work were concentrated in one locality. The technical staff of this branch has been closely reviewed by the
Public Service Board and the department, and the position has been examined in relation to the standard rates of 6 per cent, and 10 per cent, charged by outside authorities for the designing and supervision of works. After considering thecost of the works staff, as against thevalue of all services performed, it hasbeen established that the staff is now on. a sound financial basis, and is profitably employed.
In regard to the case of the two architects in South Australia, it is advised that the territory covered by the South Australia branch includes the Northern Territory up to Newcastle Waters. Apart from the completion of certain buildings at Stuart, and the ordinary maintenance items for South Australia and the Northern Territory, involving £15,000, this year’s programme includes £3,000 specially made available from the unemployment relief funds for Commonwealth works; a further £1,000 in prospect towards the cost of new quarters foiexcise officers at Renmark, Berri and Reynella; and the Estimates provide £3,258 for three cottages for lighthousekeepers at Kingston, and £1,400 for new postal works. It is considered that there is ample work to justify the employment of the two architects referred to. It may be mentioned that the number of architects quoted by the honorable member as having been employed did not include temporary architects, of whom quite a number were engaged in the earlier years. The services of these temporary officers have now been dispensed with. The number of permanent and temporary architects employed during the financial years 1926-27 to 1932-33, and the amount of salary paid, may be seen from the following table: - ‘
From the information that I have given, the honorable member will realize that he arrived at erroneous conclusions regarding this matter.
The honorable member for Angas also complained about the cost of the telephone service at the federal members’ rooms in the capital cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. I have not had time to analyse the figures; but it seems natural to presume that the Sydney and Melbourne figures would, on the average, exceed those of other States. At almost any week-end, numerous telephone calls are made from the members’ rooms in Melbourne by members from Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia. Naturally, members make more longdistance calls when they are absent from their own States than at any other time, and it is not surprising that the cost of members’ calls is greater in Melbourne and Sydney, which are the two nearest capital cities to Canberra, than in any of the other State capitals. It should be remembered that the cost of members’ telephone calls is mainly a matter of bookkeeping, the expense actually incurred by the Government being very small. After all the majority of them relate to matters of public business. Possibly, in a few instances, members telephone to their relatives in distant States. It seems to me that the total sum involved is not unduly large, and, as I have said, it is mainly attributable to calls made by members in the course of their parliamentary duties. It would be poor economy to prevent members from using the telephone service when dealing with matters of public importance.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) alluded to a trip to the Northern Territory recently made by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill), who preceded me as Minister for the Interior. If the trip was made practically at the end of the last financial year, the accounts would not be presented until the current year.
– I wish to be supplied with details of the expenditure involved.
– I have taken over the control of this department only recently; but I have already seen sufficient of the files to justify me in saying that it was most desirable that a member of the Government should visit the Northern Territory. I am glad that my colleague has done so, and the information with which he has furnished the department will prove of the utmost value.
The honorable member for East Sydney also stated that at Commonwealth elections the absent votes were not checked until after the result of the ballot had been declared.
– They are checked with the ordinary roll, but not with the official list.
– Ordinarily, a count would not be complete until the absent votes had been cheeked; but the returning officers leave a little to chance when they know that the number of absent votes is not sufficient to alter the result of an election. In cases in which the absent votes are sufficiently numerous to alter the result, it is customary to check them before the result of the poll is declared.
– What objection is there to checking them with the official list?
– I see no objection to that. The Government is contemplating a number of amendments to the electoral law, and the suggestion of the honorable member will receive consideration.
.- The Christmas season is approaching, and the duty devolves upon the Commonwealth Government to see that, something is done in the direction of providing employment for citizens of Canberra, who have been without regular work for a long period. The State Governments are providing work for the unemployed in the various States, where private employers are also able to make work available; but the only hope of the unemployed of Canberra lies in employment being provided for them by the Commonwealth Government. I hope that the Government will give this matter its earnest and immediate attention.
– I have not had an opportunity to study the typewritten statement which the Minister courteously furnished to me a few minutes ago regarding the employment of architects in his department, and, therefore, I shall not move an amendment as I had intended to do. This is another proof of the difficulties which members experience in trying to give intelligent consideration to the Estimates. The Minister has stated that some of the architects for whom provision is made on the Estimates are not doing architectural work; that some of them are doing the work of inspectors and others work that could be done by junior officers. One naturally concludes that architects are employed to do architectural work; apparently that is not so, and if other items are equally misleading it is impossible for a private member to criticize with assurance the expenditure of any department. Perhaps that explains why most members do not bother to analyse the expenditure, but prefer to talk at large on general subjects. I give the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) credit for having, when in charge of the Department of the Interior, effected many economies, but a study of the figures suggests that the Scullin Government must have been exceedingly lax.I find that in 1931-32 the expenditure on new works, buildings, &c., was £832,622, and 49 architects were employed, whereas thisyear the estimated expenditure is only £963,000 and 32 architects are employed. Apparently, although the expenditure this year is not considerably greater, the number of architects engaged has been reduced by seventeen. The figures for the last seven financial years have been -
For the four years 1926-27 to 1929-30 the average expenditure was £6,533,690, and the average number of architects employed was 58½; yet this year, when the expenditure is estimated to be only £963,000, the number of architects employed is 32. I do not agree that the expenditure of £963,000 necessitates the employment of 32 architects, because in 1918-19 only nine architects were employed for an expenditure of £1,490,523, and, in 1919-20, thirteen architects for an expenditure of £1,598,188. I used to think that the statements issued by the Taxpayers Association regarding the overstating of public departments was so much eyewash, but the fact that, in a time of depression, although the expenditure on new works and buildings has decreased since 1926-27 by 600 per cent., the professional staff has not been proportionately retrenched, suggests that there is some justification for the Briticism by that body. I do not say that all government services are overstaffed; I know that some, including the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Office at Adelaide, are undermanned.
I am not satisfied with the Minister’s explanation of these Estimates, nor with what he said regarding the public works to be carried out in South Australia. He stated that the programme in that State includes three houses for excise officers, three cottages for lighthouse-keepers, and postal works costing £1,400. Those works are not sufficient to keep two architects employed for a year.
– They also supervise the works.
– That has always been done. In South Australia the Commonwealth has never employed more than three permanent architects, although in some years new post offices and other public buildings were being constructed.
In regard to the use of telephones in member’s rooms in the various capital cities, the Minister evidently misunderstood my statement. I did not adversely compare the expenditure in Sydney with that in other State capitals generally, but I did draw attention to the discrepancy between the expenditure in Sydney and that in Melbourne. The conditions in each city are practicaly identical; the rooms are used by members passing to and from other States, but I dissent from the Minister’s statement that the telephones are used mainly by visiting members. The Minister also stated that the expenditure on telephones is merely a book entry. By the same reasoning, any service rendered by any government department can be regarded as only a book entry, but surely the Minister does not suggest that there is no cost to the Government in the use of telephones and other services rendered by Commonwealth departments. I find that the average annual expenditure per member on telephones has been: in New South “Wales, £21; Victoria, £15 ; Queensland, £7 ; South Australia, £3 10s.; Western Australia, £4’ 10&; and Tasmania, £1 10s. The committee is entitled to some explanation of the variations, particularly in relation to the expenditure in New South Wales and Victoria.
, - On page 117 of the Estimates an amount of £5,277 is shown as a payment to the Victorian Government. How long is it proposed that this should be continued ? On the previous page an amount of £18,000 is shown under various departmental headings for expenditure on works and buildings. How is it proposed to spend this money? I am interested because I desire tha* as much employment as possible shall be provided for tradesmen and others in need of work.
.- The Estimates show that over £3,000 is- being paid in salaries to instructors at the- Canberra Forestry School, the amount being made up of £1,194 to the InspectorGeneral,, and £1,940- to three lecturers. How many students are at present at the school ?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked what was being done to provide employment, by way of Christmas cheer for those out of work in the Federal Capital Territory. It will be seen on page 132 of the Estimates that provision is made for relief- works,, not only in, the Capital itself, but also at Jervis Bay. The amount provided exceeds that spent last- year, and although it is not specifically shown as for. Christmas cheer, the Government hopes that some of the money will be spent for that, purpose. Moreover, it is hoped that, after the Estimates are passed, arrangements can - be made for spending further sums on the relief of unemployment.
In reply to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the sum of £18,000 shown in the Estimates is for n.ew works, and the money will be divided equitably, between the six States of the Commonwealth.
There are now fourteen students at the Forestry School in Canberra. There were six students in 1927, ten in 1928, seven in T929-, ten, in 1930;. and ten in 1931.
The payment of £5,277 to the Victoria*! Government represents compensation for the cancellation of the lease of the old Government House in Melbourne, and will be continued until 1938.
.- The Government should seriously consider the advisability of abolishing the system of postal voting- in Commonwealth elections’. I understand that it was abolished in 1911, and’ restored in 1928. I do not desire to disfranchise any one, but the present method lends itself to abuse. Postal votes are exercised chiefly by persons who are ill in hospital, and by the aged and feeble. Sick persons are not usually greatly interested, in elections, and experience has shown that they are unduly susceptible to the influence of political canvassers: Some little time ago, together with Mr. Copley, who is now member for Bulimba in Queensland-, I had an experience which’ confirmed my suspicions in this regard. During the 1928 elections I was1 a candidate for the division of Oxley, and- was defeated by just over 3,000 votes. Six months later, during the 1928-29 State elections, Mr: Copley and I conducted some inquiries on behalf of the Labour candidate for Kurilpa. We visited the house of Mrs Service, a well known Nationalist organizer who,- during the regime of’ the last Nationalist’ Government in Queensland,, was, with other supporters of that government, promoted- to the dignity of a justiceof the. peace.
– That does not sound’ quiteright.
– The honorable membercan easily verify my statements. In answer to our. inquiries Mrs. Service produced a roll for the Oxley division and, seeing that- we were interested in politics, she soon embarked on a- political discussion. For the first ten minutes or so, shewas very careful, but later, believing, that we were keen supporters of her- party, sheinformed1 us that she was a paid organizer for the Nationalists.
-. - The honorable- member - must have deceived -the lady.
– In this case the deception was worth- while. She informed ‘usthat she and Mrs. Kidney, who- was then, and still is, a Nationalist organizer, and a member of the Queensland Electoral League, canvassed for postal votes. One of them posed as a Nationalist organizer and the other as a Labour organizer, and by this means were able to capture 1,500 Labour votes in the divisions of Oxley and Brisbane, 600 being in Oxley. On Poppy Day, which occurred while the election campaign was in progress, one wore a poppy and posed as the Labour canvasser, while the other, garbed in black, represented herself as being the canvasser for the Nationalist party. They interviewed sick people who, in many instances, did not know who was standing for election, and did not even wish to vote. If it was found that the elector “was really enthusiastic about voting, the interviewer posed as an organizer of the party which the elector supported. It may be contended that both sides indulged in this practice, but the Nationalists alone have sufficient funds to keep paid organizers at work continuously. They keep their lists up to date, and revise them when an election is looming. In this way they know who is likely to be .exercising postal votes at the next election. They are able to get right off the mark as soon :as an election comes round, thus gaining an advantage over their rivals. The Labour party has only a paid secretary and two girls who work in the office, so that it is obviously impossible for us to keep our organization as up to date :as that of our opponents.
– The honorable member must show that what he is criticizing is the responsibility of the Electoral Office.
– I have been discussing matters that bear upon -Commonwealth elections. In proof of what I have said the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) told me to-day that, at the last federal election, in which he was successful, out of the first 500 postal votes’ counted he did not receive one. I am concerned in this matter also, because eighteen months rafter this discussion with M.rs. Service, I was beaten in a federal election by only 100 votes out of a total vote of 56,000, and there had been no swing of the political pendulum.
– The provision for postal voting is incorporated in the Electoral Act; it does not come within the scope of administration.
– Surely, in discussing the amounts expended on the Electoral Office, we may discuss the administration of the department.
– The honorable member may not argue that postal voting is good or bad, because postal voting is provided for in the act.
– I suggest that if the Government is not willing to consider the total abolition of postal voting, it should follow the example of Queensland, and so amend the Electoral Act - -
– The honorable member is not in order when discussing this item in suggesting amendment of the Electoral Act.
– I suggest then that the administration of the act should be so tightened up as to prevent the occurrence of such incidents as I have referred to.
. - I understand that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) desires to be furnished with details of the cost of my visit to the Northern Territory. The amount expended during the last financial year was £110, and it is estimated that a further £240 will be paid out of this year’s vote. The expenses for this trip were considerably below those for any similar trip in the past. The total of £350 is made up of £110 for fares and expenses of the two officers of the department, who accompanied me, and £240, mostly for the hire of motor cars and trucks for the tour. All the expenses are covered by the £350. In view of the natura] curiosity of the honorable member, I may be excused for mentioning that, although I was entitled to 28 days’ expenses, my personal outgoings did not amount to the full sum that I was entitled to draw, and I actually drew only eighteen days’ expenses, which meant, that £15, which I would have been justified in drawing, was left in the Treasury.
– I .should like the Minister to explain what degree of co-operation there is at present between -the Commonwealth Electoral Office and various State
Electoral Offices, and also in regard to the meteorological services of the States and the Commonwealth. To what extent do these services overlap, and what is being done to overcome such overlapping?
.- In my opinion, the visit of the then Minister for the Interior (Mr. Parkhill) to the Northern Territory was long overdue. Such visits are few and far between. T have no doubt, from my own experience > in the extensive electorate that I represent, that the visit of the Minister to this area will be beneficial alike to the residents in the remote places that he visited, to this Parliament and to himself. There has already been one good result. I had been trying for a long time to get the Postmaster-General to provide a continuous postal service to and from Mount Isa. Since the return of the honorable member for Warringah from that area, this service has been granted. I am sure that the honorable member will reap the benefit of his visit in his new position as Postmaster-General.
– What is the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) after now?
– The requests that come from my electorate are moderate in every respect. I have not risen on this occasion to ask for anything for my constituents; but I have just received a telegram from the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) asking me to ascertain what tho Government intends to do this year to help the unemployed in the Northern Territory. I know that many people are hunting for gold in this area at present, but much other useful work could be put in hand there. In this instance the Government cannot hide behind a State Government, for it must accept full responsibility for the relief of unemployment in the territories directly under its care. I trust that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) will give some definite information on this subject.
. -I should like some further information regarding the amount of £5,277 to be paid to the Victorian Government for the lease of the building in Melbourne previously occupied by His Excellency the Governor-General. This building is at present being used as a girls’ high - school. Does the Victorian Education Department make any payment for the use of it, or is there any other offset for the amount that I have mentioned?
– Li reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Baker), respecting postal voting, I can only say that the Government contemplates making certain changes in our electoral laws, and that the honorable member’s suggestions will receive consideration when the bill to give effect to those changes is being drafted.
The honorable member for Angas (Mi-. Gabb) made some allusions to the economies that have been effected in my department. May I remind him that the amalgamation of several branches of the Department of the Interior has resulted in a substantial reduction of expenditure, the saving this year being estimated at £30,000 ; but when a certain number of officers now awaiting transfers to other departments have been so transferred, the annual saving in consequence of this amalgamation will be £40,000. This, I think it will be admitted, is a substantial economy, and one which is worthy of the commendation of the honorable member. A watchful eye is being kept on all the departments, but it must be realized that we are approaching bedrock in regard to economies of this nature. When things begin to brighten it might be necessary to employ additional officers.
The elimination of overlapping in our meteorological services is receiving the attention of the Government. Mr. Duncan has been able to make a number of valuable recommendations to this end. It has been recommended, for instance, that only three main meteorological stations be retained.
– I hope that efficiency is not being sacrificed.
– Although Mr. Duncan is not a practical meteorologist, he is in close touch with the practical men in the various State Meteorological Departments, and the fact that his recommendations have been approved by these officers should re-assure the honor- able member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) that the interests of economy are not being overlooked.
I was glad to hear the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) speak favorably of the visit of my predecessor to the Northern Territory. I am sure that the information which he gathered will be useful to this Parliament, and will result in an improvement in the conditions of the people who live in the remote areas that he visited. If the honorable member will refer to Part III. of the Estimates, he will see that provision is being made- for certain expenditure in the Northern Territory this year. I assure him that there will be no curtailment in that direction.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence
Proposed vole, £2,995,000.
– I should like some information on several items in this proposed vote. Provision is made for a “defence liaison officer “ in London at £2,000 per annum, less £450 reduction, under the Financial Emergency Act. What work does this officer perform?
I notice that an amount of £3,000 is provided as salary for the First Naval Member. Who is at present filling this office, and what work does he do?
– He is a good fellow who knows bis work and does it well.
– The war has been over for a long while. In any case, I shall not place much reliance upon the honorable member’s assurance in view of what was said here this afternoon respecting him.
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence also explain the item “Allowances to representatives in England, £300”?
The next subject with which I shall deal deserves more attention than was given to it when it was mentioned in this chamber some little time ago. I refer to the charges made by certain naval ratings as to their treatment and as to certain happenings on H.M.A.S. Australia within the last few weeks. It appears that the lot of the lower paid ratings of the Navy is anything but satisfactory. From information which has been pub lished in the press this matter was brought before the Naval Welfare Conference recently held in Melbourne. According to that report a good deal of discontent has been caused by -
Tlie cutting to bedrock in numbers and theconditions that have been instituted by allowing the Royal Naval Reserve cadets to join theNavy and work for practically nothing.
The statement also says -
The truth of this is clearly shown by therequest of the men to the Naval Board to havethis state of affairs discontinued.
We are entitled to know whether the conditions complained of actually exist in theservice to-day. I should like to know whether the complaints of these men havebeen brought under the notice of the “ good fellow “ referred to by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), although it would appear that this has been done, and no remedial action has followed. Many forms of economy have been practised in regard to employment of thi3 nature, and I understand that there is no prospect of the men who have been dismissed from this service being readmitted to it. The report to which I have referred also states -
There are hundreds of mcn on the waiting list who have served their time in seamanship, gunnery and torpedo sections and who resent their positions being filled by what may be called the “ Saturday afternoon sailors.”
The report, proceeds as follows : -
The trouble which occurred on the H.M.A.S. Australia during the cruise of the fleet was the finale to the injustice of punishments for trivial offences.
According to one man -
Pay is so low at present in the Navy that it is impossible for a man to keep his family and himself at a decent standard of living. Malnutrition of a sailor’s children leads to sickness as is witnessed by the frequent requests made by the mcn for special leave so that they can spend some time with their ailing families.
In matters of this kind it appears to be difficult to determine the real source of the trouble. It is true that following upon reductions of the pay of British naval ratings, certain action was taken to bring the circumstances forcibly under the notice of the authorities. We have only meagre information at our disposal, but we are aware that the action taken did force the British Government to recognize the necessity for easing up in the matter of making inroads upon -the pay and conditions of the lower Eatings in the British Navy. We are entitled to know if similar circumstances prevail in our own naval service, and whether the men have been reduced to the stage of -resentment as is alleged to have been disclosed by recent happenings on H.M.A.S. Australia. The men themselves are reluctant to give information on the .subject, because there are always some who are ready to inform on them to those “ good fellows “ that happen to be on higher rates of salary, some of whom are drawing up to £3,000 a year, and the punishment for giving information may not only be dismissal from the service but also the loss of amounts which have -accrued over a number of years. There are instances, too, in which other punishment follows. It is difficult, therefore, ito get any of the lower ratings particularly to show their hand and disclose actually what has recently happened. From time to time the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has brought under the notice of the .Government and of the Minister for Defence the treatment which has been meted out to certain ratings in the service who dare to stand up to their rights, and honorable members -associated with him will avail themselves of every opportunity that presents itself to expose the tactics employed by those in authority. When associated with the present leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and his Government, I was able to ascertain the attitude towards the lower ratings adopted by those “ good fellows “ concerning whom the honorable member for Denison interjected a short time ago. I shall give thea no quarter at all, because I realize that they never give the lower ratings any chance at all. s
– Rubbish !
– That is all the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Green) has in his mind.
– What does the honorable member know about it?
– I know as much as the honorable member.
– I ask the honorable member for Richmond to cease interjecting. .
– What right has the honorable member to speak on this subject?
-The .honorable member for West Sydney is entitled to be heard in silence, and I ask the honorable member for Richmond not to interrupt again.
– When treatment of this kind is meted out to these men, and authority is so exercised that they have not the same opportunity as have men in other walks of life to ventilate their grievances, we feel that it is our ^responsibility to ease the pressure upon them -when an opportunity presents itself to do so. A question was asked on this subject a few weeks ago. Whether the Assistant Minister was fully informed at the time I am unable to say, but his answer certainly did not satisfy any one who wished to obtain information on the subject. The incidents which occurred when certain vessels of the Australian Fleet were at sea show the extent to which the ratings have been forced in -taking .the action they did. I do not suppose that we shall -ever learn the real facts, but the information we have so f a-r received suggests that .there is something radically wrong in the service.
The Assistant Minister has now an opportunity to disclose the actual position, and I trust that no attempt will be made to withhold any of the information he possesses. He should inform the committee whether the pay and conditions of the lower ratings are such that it is impossible for them to meet their -commitments as ordinary citizens, and their obligations to their wives and families.
– There has been no alteration in the pay of the lower ratings since this Government assumed office.
– According to the report I have quoted it was the discipline that is being exercised that forced the men to take the action they did.
– The honorable member does not surely stand by that report.
– If the form of discipline exercised over these ratings has forced them to take the action reported - that something has happened we know - and if we could learn who has been responsible for introducing disciplinary measures that are apparently new to the service, we should possibly be in a position to determine the cause of the trouble. Discipline, as it is known in the British Navy, is not acceptable to the Australian people and it would be’ interesting to learn if the service is being controlled by officers from overseas who are introducing new measures which are not in keeping with what Australians think are fair and reasonable?
– Comrade officer!
– As honorable members will have an opportunity to speak on the proposed vote for the Department of Defence, I ask them not to interrupt the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley).
– The spare colonels will have a chance later.
– The honorable member and his friends have never had any colonels to spare.
– If the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) continues to disregard the directions of the Chair, I shall name him.
– I leave the matter at that. I trust that the Assistant Minister will inform the committee as to the exact position, and that every effort will be made to give these men a “fair go.” Surely no one would deprive them of that right. If the discipline that is necessary can be maintained in a temperate way, and these men can be treated as the average Australian expects to be treated, I have no doubt that they will give satisfactory service. I am anxious to obtain this information because I know that these men are anxious to carry out their work without being harassed by these officers. We do not want a repetition of the slashing of wages and conditions that recently occurred in Great Britain.
.- I cannot subscribe to the views expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), that the average Australian is a person who demands, desires, or acquires a form of discipline different from that exercised over British soldiers or sailors. From my youth, I have been associated with defence matters, and in recent years, in common with many other honorable members, I have had a full opportunity to judge and have had a close knowledge of the Australian under arms. It is ridiculous to say that Australians are not amenable to discipline or demand other conditions.
That sort of talk has caused a good deal of trouble and! is absolutely unreliable.
Honorable members have just had placed in their hands an explanatory statement of the estimates of expenditure prepared under the direction of the Minister for Defence. It is useless to place such a document in our hands just when the defence estimates come up for consideration. This step is in keeping with the action of the Government in bringing down three pages of printed amendments when the last Financial Emergency Bill was under consideration, and at the same time applying the guillotine.
– This has been the practice since the inception of federation.
– That makes it none the less reprehensible. Included in those amendments was one dealing with a subject concerning which I wish to speak to-night, the reduction of the pay of the members of the Commonwealth naval, military and air forces. Perhaps this is not the time to refer to certain assurances that were given to me in connexion with those amendments, but I may say that defence regulations issued two days ago show that, in spite of the assurances then given, there have been substantial cuts in the salaries of members of the naval, military, and air forces as the result of the passage of the Financial Emergency Act.
In speaking on the defence estimates generally, I wish to refer to the salaries. On a previous occasion when I referred to the pay of the lower ratings in the Navy, I think that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and the members of his party agreed with me that when these men came ashore some of them were worse off than the unemployed man in the city who is in receipt of the dole and child endowment. I asked how discipline could be maintained under those conditions. I wish now to refer more particularly to the organization of the Defence Department. There are other honorable members ,in this chamber who are as well acquainted with the position as I am. Referring more particularly to the higher-paid officers, we find that, allowing for the deductions under the Financial Emergency Act, the secretary to the department receives £1,550, the ControllerGeneral of Munitions, £1,550, and the Defence Liaison Officer, £2,000, which is probably not subject to the deduction mentioned. The remuneration of these gentlemen should be compared with that of the permanent highly-trained specialists in the naval, military, and air forces. For instance, the admiral commanding the squadron receives £1,460 a year, the Chief of the General Staff, £1,163 per annum; the Air Commodore, commanding the Air Force, £1,085; the Adjutant-General, £920; and the QuartermasterGeneral, £960. The Base Commandant and commanders of divisions receive £8S0 per annum. If we are to have a defence force at all - and in view of the present condition of the world, thinking men and women agree that the present force should be increased - it is absurd to offer inadequate remuneration to the senior trained men. This is a matter which affects, not only the present occupants of senior positions, but also the younger men who will be required to take their places in the future.
I am somewhat curious about the defence liaison officer at a salary of £2,000 per annum to whom reference has been made. I should like the Minister, who himself has a distinguished war record, to tell us who this defence liaison officer is, what military training he has had, what he does for his salary of £2,000 per annum, and how many such officers we have had in London. Certain officers of the Defence Department have, I understand, undertaken a course of military science extending over a period of two years. Are they military officers; what becomes of them when they return to Australia, and are they permanently available for service with the Defence Department? On page 119 of the Estimates, provision is made for the salaries of thirteen clerks in the central administration, and on page 161 for a further 81 clerks. Does each of these clerks carry in his lunch bag the baton of a future defence liaison officer, or that of some other high officer who should be a properly trained naval or military expert?
The Ordnance Department, to which I referred last week, is manned largely by civilians; and as they do not work on Saturdays, the Defence Department has actually to arrange its camps of training and bivouacs so as not to interfere with the civilians who issue the stores for tho camps. Many units going into camp have to enlist volunteers from their own ranks to go into camp a day ahead of the main body in order to obtain stores on a day when the Ordnance Department is pleased to remain open. These positions should he held by enlisted men so that when the military requirements have to be met, they will be there to do the job.
Provision is made for 30,000 officers and men to receive militia training. That is not a sufficient number. In the opinion of those who have been watching the trend of affairs in Australia it would be a good thing if universal military training were re-established in the interests of our young men themselves. I have thought recently that the five honorable members sitting on my right, belonging to the Beasley-Lang group, would be the better for a period of compulsory training, so that in the event of war breaking out, their value to the country would be increased.
– The honorable member wishes to use us as gun fodder.
– The honorable member would be sure of a permanent and comparatively safe appointment to the regimental concert party.
There is a welcome increase in some of the votes. The sum of £10,000 is now provided for camps, and £5,000 for the maintenance of arms; but the increases are small in comparison with requirements.
This is not a time when suggestions for raising salaries or increasing expenditure are popular. For some time we have done nothing but cut down expenditure; we have reduced even the pensions of invalids and the infirm. Our financial position may be serious; but we cannot afford not to increase our defence vote. Since a private member may not move to increase expenditure, I desire to ask tho Government to do two things - first, to rc-organize the Defence Department, and secondly, to increase its efficiency and extend its operations. Not one of us wishes for another war, but we cannot shut our eyes to disquieting facts. In the matter of arms we have made a name for ourselves, and we should not now risk disgracing that name by leaving Australia at the mercy of an enemy. Nor should we rely on help from the Old Country, to which we already owe so much, notwithstanding that at times that country is reviled by certain honorable members. I hope that the Government realizes the necessity for extending and expanding our defence forces to the fullest extent.
.- If we are to have a navy or an army, there must necessarily be discipline, but often it is not easy to distinguish between discipline and brutality. The remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) concerning H.M.A.S. Australia remind me of a case of brutality which occurred on H.M.A.S. Brisbane when that vessel was sent to the Pacific Islands to suppress some trouble on one of the islands. On that expedition the crew had good reason to complain of the quality of the food supplied to the men. One of them, a stoker, gave pleasure to officers and men alike by his bright and witty writings in the ship’s paper until he wrote a few verses in which he complained of the quality of the food. His remarks were somewhat strong, but the treatment ho received was out of all proportion to the offence. After his case had been referred to in this House the captain of the Brisbane, for some unexplained reason, was returned to the British Navy. The stoker’s offence did not justify his being imprisoned over the latrines in the tropics, nor should his wife have been deprived of the allowance to which she was entitled. When the vessel returned to Sydney he was placed in gaol, and from that day he and his wife and children have practically starved, because he’ has been unable to obtain employment in his own country. If that, is discipline, as exercised in the navy, it is no wonder that enlistments are so few. Even now, I ask the Minister to see that justice is done to this young Australian.
– It is three years since these things happened.
– The young man and his dependants have been practically starving ever since. An injustice has been done, and the Government should endeavour to make amends. If we want to encourage Australian boys to join the navy, it should be an all-Australian navy as was the case previously. I have mentioned this matter in the hope that something will be done to compensate this man for the brutal treatment to which he was subjected. The department still holds money owing to him.
Instead of subsidizing aero clubs, those engaged in the carrying of air mails should be assisted. No better training for a future war could be obtained than that gained in conducting the air mail services of this country. We have granted subsidies to two air mail companies at the rate of £94,000 per annum. Of 117 aeroplane owners only 37 are subsidized. Only seven aeroplanes are owned by the3e two companies, which are drawing subsidies ranging from 200 per cent, to 1,000 per cent, on the contractors’ gross earnings. During the last ten years the cost to the Commonwealth for the carriage of Australian air mails has been £20,000 per. ton. For this we have to- blame the BrucePage Government, which made these contracts. One company in Western Australia has benefited to the extent of £500,000. It is time that the whole of our air mail services were co-ordinated, so that, with the development of civil aviation, we shall also be building up an efficient air force for defence purposes. The existing conditions should not be allowed to continue for another 24 hours. I mention the matter now in the hope that some action will be taken to put the position right.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has asked for information with reference to payment of £300 as allowances to representatives in England. There has been no alteration of this vote. It is required for the payment of allowances to officers of the Permanent Forces who are sent to London for temporary duty at the High Commissioner’s Office, and the War Office.
– Are they Australian military officers?
– Yes. The honorable member also referred to alleged discontent on H.M.A.S. Australia, while on a cruise to the islands of the Pacific. I discussed the allegations with the First Naval Member, Rear- Admiral Hyde, at the time. The vessel was then at sea. RearAdmiral Hyde has since informed me that, upon the vessel’s return, he discussed the matter with the senior officer of the ship, and has assured me that the whole story is a fabrication; that the ratings were quite happy, and did their work loyally and faithfully. It appears that there was some fear that, under the Financial Emergency Act, further substantial reductions of the pay and allowances of the lower ratings would be effected; but I am pleased to be able to state that there has been no reduction since this Government took office. Unfortunately, certain reductions of pay and allowances were made under the regime of the previous Administration.
– -Those reductions were made under the Financial Emergency Bill, which the Minister and his friends supported.
– Nevertheless, the honorable member conveyed the impression that such reductions had been made by this Government under its financial emergency legislation, and, as I have explained, they were not.
Concerning -the references to RearAdmiral Hyde, the First Naval Member, all I need say is that he is Australian born, was specially appointed to, and received his early training in the Royal Navy, and after some years service in the Royal Australian Navy on loan, was transferred permanently to the Commonwealth service in 1912. He has served in our navy in peace and in war, has risen to the highest position which the Australian service has to offer, and may be trusted to uphold the best traditions of the Royal Navy, and of the Royal Australian Navy.
– All of the officers on the Australia are not Australian-born.
– The honorable member for West Sydney also referred to the personnel of the Royal Australian Navy. On this point I refer him to the explanatory statement on the Estimates of expenditure for this year prepared by the direction of the Minister. On page 4 of that document he will find the following information : -
Fulfilment of the policy of building up an Australian personnel for the Royal Australian Navy is progressing satisfactorily. Of a total of 2,787 petty officers and men borne, three only are on loan from the Royal Navy, and these will be replaced in the near future.
– At least one is on the Australia.
– The “ statement continues -
The number of officers on loan from the Royal Navy has been reduced to the following: - Seven commanders and higher ranks, six warrant-officers, or thirteen out of a total of 384 borne. There are also ten Royal Naval officers on exchange service.
– Does the Minister say definitely that there is no trouble on the Australia?
– Such is my informa nt on.
– I should prefer to rely upon statements made by the men who were’ there.
– Possibly there was some agitation; but I am pleased to be able to say that there was no trouble. It is only fitting that I should pay a tribute to the ratings for the way in which they have conducted themselves during the disappointing time through which they, in common with other sections of the community, have passed owing to the difficult financial condition of the country.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. McNicoll) referred to the abolition of compulsory training, and urged the need for re-organization of our defence system. Every one admits that the present state of our defence services is unsatisfactory; but, as I have explained, we are governed by considerations of finance. I am quite certain that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) wishes to see the three arms of our defence system brought back to the excellent standard which they had attained in 1929, before drastic economies were made by the previous Administration. Unfortunately, that will not be possible until the financial position improves. I hope that the steps which this Government is taking, following the decisions of the Ottawa Conference, will usher in a new era of prosperity in Australia, so that we may then be able to honour the sacred obligations which are imposed on us to make our defence system adequate for our needs.
With regard to the position of “ defence liaison officer in London,” I would point out that the work formerly done by senior officers of the Defence Department is now being carried out by Mr. Trumble. As honorable members are aware, it was :necessary, for financial reasons, to return those officials to Australia. Mr. Trumble, who has had extensive experience in an administrative capacity in the Defence Department, is being assisted in liaison work by junior officers from the three arms of our defence forces.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) again mentioned the case of an ex-naval stoker. He has repeatedly discussed this matter in this House since 192S, when the offence for which the stoker was punished occurred. Since then there have been two or three changes of government, and successive Ministers for Defence have examined the files. I also have done so, and I am satisfied that the procedure followed was the correct one. The ex-stoker was charged under the naval regulations with an offence to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline, his offence being the typing of poetry, the subject-matter of which was subversive to naval discipline. All the facts of the case are to be found in Hansard. The charge was investigated by the captain of the ship in the ordinary service way. The accused, exercising his rights, selected an officer to assist him, and also called and examined witnesses. The captain found the charge proved, and, under the authority vested in him by the Australian Naval Defence Act, he sentenced the stoker to 90 days imprisonment and recommended his dismissal from the service. The Naval Board reviewed the evidence, and confirmed the sentence, except that discharge was substituted for dismissal. The discontinuance of sustenance to the ex-rating’s wife was a consequential penalty of the punishment of imprisonment or detention, during which a rating may not be borne for pay. His discharge was ordered by the Naval Board in accordance with the authority vested in it by the naval regulations. As I have said, the offence for which the stoker was punished occurred in 1928, so it would appear that the honorable member for Newcastle, who now appears to be anxious to have the case re-opened, neglected opportunities which were available to him for at least two years, during which time a Labour Government was in power. I know that at the time the Minister for Defence investigated the charge thoroughly, and I am convinced, from my own study of the files, that former Ministers gave this matter very careful consideration, satisfied themselves that the charge had been proved and that everything had been done in accordance with the regulations.
– If that is so, why was the captain sent Home shortly after the inquiry was held?
– His term of service in the Australian Navy expired, and, in accordance with the usual procedure, he rejoined the British Navy.
The honorable member for Newcastle also read a circular communication which honorable members have received dealing with civil aviation, and urged that our air mail services should be developed with a view to the training of air pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force. A sub-committee of experts appointed by the Disarmament Conference to draw up rules to govern civil aviation has included in its report a recommendation that the high contracting parties should refrain from requiring that civil aviation enterprises shall employ personnel specially trained with a view to their employment for military purposes. There must be a definite distinction between tlie two air services. The Government arranged for an interdepartmental committee to make a thorough investigation into all aspects of aviation matters in Australia, with a view to determining its future policy, and that committee has made its report to the Minister. He is now considering the question, .and at a very early date will bring the matter before the Cabinet, which will formulate a policy covering civil aviation generally, including the carriage of mails by air. The majority of our contracts or arrangements with the companies that carry air mails expire early next year, and the new policy will provide ‘for a system that I am sure will meet with, the approval of all honorable members.
.- The provision for the development of civil aviation is £102,930, made up of subsidies for aerial mail services, £93,451; grants to aero clubs, £8,600; and miscellaneous services, £S79.
For some considerable time a proposal to link ,up with Imperial Airways in an all-air route to Great Britain has been discussed, and evidence on the subject has been taken by a committee in Australia. A proposition has been made by three Australian companies, two of which are at present drawing subsidies from the Commonwealth - Qantas and Westralian Airways Limited. The third company concerned - Australian National Airways - carried on for some time a satisfactory service between Brisbane and Sydney. These companies appear to consider that they are entitled to all the plums in connexion with civil aviation in Australia. New England Airways took over the service between Brisbane and Sydney that was relinquished by Australian National Airways, and at present are providing a daily service between those cities. At no time has the Government been asked for a subsidy by this company; it has carried on the service purely and simply as a commercial venture. I do not wish to anticipate the result of the inquiry that has been conducted, but, considering the length of time that it occupied, it is difficult to understand why the rather vague statement was made only the other day that it is likely to be some time before the Australian public will learn the nature of the report that has been presented to the Government. I should like the Minister to allay the fear that was expressed by an honorable member, that civil aviation may pass into the control of the three companies to which I have referred, two of which are already well subsidized. There are other companies and concerns connected with civil aviation which deserve consideration. It is thought likely that the Imperial Airways route will embrace a subsidized service between Sydney and Brisbane. I suggest that in no circumstances should the New England company, which has carried on a daily service without leaning on the taxpayers of Australia, be pushed on one side and dis placed by other companies, one of which unfortunately found it necessary to cease operations.
The explanatory statement placed in the hands of honorable members tonight, dealing with the department’s estimates of expenditure, gives one cause for a good deal of disquietude, and makes one realize how totally inadequate are our defence forces. I do not propose to go over ground already covered by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) in the very able speech that he delivered on the budget. Although that speech has received a fair degree of publicity, it should bc distributed much more widely, because it was the utterance of a gentleman who is thoroughly acquainted with the subject. I commend the honorable member for having drawn attention to the very serious state into which our defences have fallen. Some honorable members may hold different views. One would expect, after listening to the puerile speech of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), who knows nothing about war, and has no intention of learning anything about it, that if an enemy invaded Australia, the honorable member would get up on a soap box and 33k i t to return home. That is the only way in which he would defend Australia - with his tongue, which is dirty enough for anything.
– Order !
– He learned what he knows about the Navy when he went to Geneva, and sadly misrepresented Australia at an international gathering.
– Order ! The honorable member must deal with the item before the Chair.
– Only four vessels are to be in commission during the current year, two of which - the cruisers Canberra and Australia-are supposed to be reasonably up to date. Incidentally, I may mention that those vessels did not add to our interest indebtedness, because they were purchased out of surplus revenue when the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) was Treasurer. Then there is the Albatross, which, so far as I have been able to gather, is somewhat out of date; also one of the “ T “ class destroyers, the Tattoo. All the other vessels are to he held in reserve, among them being the survey ship Moresby.. I am sorry that Australia is not deriving in surveying and chartmaking generally, the advantage that it should from the technical staff that has been built up in the Navy. Years of research -work and charting remain to be done south from Thursday Island, particularly along the Great Barrier Reef. Such work not only would benefit mariners generally, but is most necessary to our own defence. If we desire to make full use of that natural barrier, we should have a complete knowledge of it. If we keep the survey ship in reserve, we shall lose a highly trained personnel, the like of which it is difficult to obtain. During the coming year, as well as in the future, at least one survey ship should be kept continually in commission. It is a very necessary portion of our naval work. The fact that it is beneficial to our commercial relationships should appeal to the militant pacifists in our midst.
I understand that, after graduation, the cadets of Flinders naval base cannot all be absorbed in the Navy. They receive an excellent educational and naval training at the public expense, and if they cannot be absorbed in positions for which they have been definitely trained., they should be transferred to some other branch of the Commonwealth Service to which they would be a decided acquisition. At their age they are far better equipped educationally than the average person admitted to the Public Service.
I was perturbed to read in the explanatory notes the following paragraph, under the heading, “ Naval Stores “ -
Owing to the adverse financial position, it will still not bc possible to maintain normal stocks of naval stores, purchases of which will continue to be made on tlie present reduced basis.
I cannot close my eyes to the fact that the diplomatic waters of the Pacific are anything but calm. To the north of us we have the very serious trouble that exists in Manchuria. Originally, that disturbance concerned only China and Japan, but it is extremely possible that other nations, possibly including Australia, will be involved. I recall the comparatively minor incident of Serajevo in 1914, which led to a world conflagration. It is quite conceivable that a spark may be dropped into the powder magazine of Manchuria, and that before we know where we are, we shall be involved in another tremendous conflict. In view of that possibility, it is alarming to read the comment to which I have referred. If it is not considered a matter of high government policy, I should like the Minister to indicate whether the position can be rectified.
The explanatory notes also indicate that H.M.A.S. Canberra “ showed the flag in the Pacific”. It will be readily understood that, as the representatives of Australia, the officers and men of the ship would be entertained more or less lavishly, and in turn would be called upon to entertain representative people of Noumea, Vila, Suva, and Norfolk Island. An important medium of entertainment would be alcoholic beverages. I suggest that, to lighten the entertaining expense that must fall on the personnel of our warships, which visits outposts of the Pacific and elsewhere, liquor should be supplied to them free of customs duty and excise. A check could easily be kept of the amount issued, for the purpose.
– I do not think that liquor purchased outside the three-mile limit is subject to duty.
– I am led to believe otherwise. Perhaps an allowance could be made to assist those concerned. I am sorry that our naval, air, and military defence has been so reduced that Australia is left worse than naked in this respect.
.- In reply to the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the Minister stated that the lower ratings of the Navy have sustained no salary reduction since that made by the Scullin Government.
– That is correct, so far as petty officers and lower ratings are concerned.
– I am advised that a second reduction has occurred in respect of the lower paid personnel of the army and air force. If that is so, I should like to know the reason for the differentiation.
– I wish to refer to the administration of the Defence Department, more particularly because of the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. P. Harrison) that the Scullin Government of which E, as Minister for Defence, was a member, had wrecked the defence policy of Australia. I have not the slightest objection to :;:.y honorable member holding vic,i’“<? d.i>-.rent from mine with regard to the method of defence necessary to maintain the safety of Australia, but I do object to any honorable member questioning the patriotism of others just because his political views differ from theirs. The honorable member stated -
But through the policy of the last Government, a highly efficient force was converted into a mere skeleton. That imposed a tremendous hardship upon enthusiastic soldiers and they felt the rebuff keenly. For reasons best known to themselves the members of the last Ministry had no sympathy with the profession of arms.
That is not the true position. The honorable member for Bendigo may have persuaded himself that that was the attitude of the Scullin Government towards defence, but I can assure him that one of the principal planks of the platform to which the Labour party is pledged, is the effective defence of Australia. When Minister for Defence, I spent a great deal of time, as the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) knows, in visiting drill halls in the capital cities of Australia to ascertain how our youths were faring under the voluntary system introduced by the Labour Government, and to encourage them. I personally had nothing against the Defence Department; I wanted! to help it, and I wish, at this stage, to pay a tribute to a number of its officers, who worked hard indeed in assisting the Labour Government to make a success of the voluntary system. The fact that the present Government has not interfered with that system is evidence that it has not brought about the great disaster that was prophesied by the present Minister, the honorable member for Balaclava, and others at, the time of its institution. This Government, which the honorable member for Bendigo supports, is spending on defence even less than the Scullin Government spent. I find no fault with that, because of the need for economy. But the point is that the honorable member has raised no protest in this chamber against the action of the present Government in continuing the defence policy instituted by a Labour government. The honorable member said that the defence forces had been reduced to less than 30,000 men. The Labour Government’s aim was tohave a defence force of 35,000 men. We consulted the Council of Defence, the head of which was Sir John Monash, who, I say with all due deference to other soldiers in Australia, was the greatest soldier that this country hasever produced. He helped us to frame the scheme of defence which exists to-day. and which has for its object the employment and training of an adequate number of officers to keep in operation the same number of units as were then in existence. The honorable member also said that: the Labour party when in power seemed determined to depreciate the soldier. I challenge the honorable member to pointto any action on the part of myself or my successor, Mr. Chifley, which would justify him in making such a statement.. The honorable member further stated -
We have been told that by giving a man, a rifle and a uniform he can he made an integral and useful part of an army. The attitude of the Scullin Government was illustrated by the “ pruning “ of the liaison officers at Australia House. The “ pruning “ of the liaison officers in London was carried out on the recommendation of the Defence Department itself, and it is now fully recognized, even by this Government, that the duties which were previously carried out by those officers are now being successfully carried out by a civilian who has considerable ability. The difficulty in the Defence Department is that various technical officers hold divergent views as to the arm upon which the safety A Australia mainly depends. One officer will say that the most important is the military arm, and of course the naval and the air force officers will contend that the respective services with which they are concerned are the most vital. I refer the honorable member for Bendigo, who has had considerable experience in military matters, to the experiments which have been carried out by the air force of the United States of America under Mr. Mitchell, an air force expert, who has claimed that warships are now chained to the beach because of the ease with which they can be destroyed by aerial torpedoes. Sir John Monash informed me that this dispute as to the importance of the different defence arms was taking place in every country in the world. It was even taking place in India at the time of his visit there.
The honorable member for Bendigo went on to say -
The. expenditure upon defence in Australia during the last few years bears a pitiable relation to the expenditure prior to the war. In 1913-14 the expenditure was 23s. 7d. per head; this year it is estimated to be 9s. 3d.
The Scullin Government was faced with a financial deficit. It had no animus towards the soldier or the Defence Department. We all know that during the war the workers represented nine-tenths of those who enlisted.
– And now they are starving.
– They certainly have not received what they expected at the hands of this country. But I am not dealing with that subject now. The Scullin Government, when it took office, was faced with a deficit of £20,000,000, and with the prospect of a deficit of £40,000,000 at the end of the next financial year. . Australia, unfortunately for us, expended £700,000,000 on the European war. That expenditure represents the major portion of our total debt of £1,100,000,000. Because of the war expenditure, Australia and other countries are now faced with serious financial problems. Australia is the finest country on God’s earth, yet it has 400,000 people unemployed. The Scullin Government during its first year of office, reduced the expenditure on defence from £6,500,000 to £4,850,000. Other departmental expenditure was also reduced. The nations of the world have been so exhausted by past wars that there is no danger of another war within the next ten years. I make that statement on the authority of officers of the Intelligence Corps.
– Before the honorable member became Minister for Defence, I was director of that branch for five years.
– -The information that I received from the intelligence officers was very different from that supplied by the honorable member in his speech, and I leave him to reconcile his arguments with the facts that I have presented. In the year 1930-31, the government with which I was associated reduced the expenditure on defence by £972,000, and the present Government is reducing it still further. In 192S, the people of this country had to pay £29,000,000, or £4 12s. per head, in respect of old wars, and 17s. 8d. per head in preparation for new wars. Only £2 12s. 6d. per head was left for financing other governmental services.
The compulsory system of military training is not in operation in any British dominion, not even in New Zealand, which is far more isolated than Australia, nor in. South Africa, which ha& a comparatively small white population. The speech of the honorable -member for Bendigo shows that he takes a gloomy view of the position of Australia from a defence view-point. I am reminded of the fact that many years ago we were told to beware of Russia. I served under General Hutton in Victoria under the voluntary system, and I well remember his saying that we should watch the Russians. To-day we are watching Russia, but for another reason; we are interested in the great experiment that is now being carried out in that country. I have seen something of militarism as we have known it in Europe, and as we had a taste of it in Australia during the last war, and it is certainly a thing that we should avoid as far as practicable. The honorable member for Bendigo remarked that at the present moment the condition of Australia is one of absolute insecurity. The honorable member is associated with a party that has a large majority in this Parliament, and it lies within the power of the Government immediately to change the present defence system, if it so desires- The honorable member remarked that during the last war, an aeroplane from an enemy cruiser was alleged to have flown over Sydney. This is the first time that I have heard that story. Where did the aeroplane come from ?
– From the raider Wolf.
– We may dismiss that tale as being unworthy of credence.
He also remarked that mine-fields had been laid off Gabo Island. I was not surprised to hear that German vessels had laid a few mines; not even Australia could have hoped to escape from the danger from that source. I know that enemy cruisers laid many mines in the China seas when I was there during the war: But if every man in Australia were armed to the teeth, and the expenditure on defence were ten times as great as it now is, such things would happen.
The honorable member also observed that it was probable that in the next war, Australians would see bloodshed in their own country. That may be the honorable member’s opinion, but the advice given to me by the intelligence officers was that there was only one nation in a position to attack Australia. Knowing the psychology of that country, I do not fear attack from that quarter. In any case, it would take that country six months to prepare for war with Australia, and our intelligence officers would be well-informed of any preparations of that kind. If it would take another power six months to establish a base in Australia, it would have to reckon with the British Navy. Seeing that it is not practicable for a foreign power to hold this country, I maintain that the present defence system meets our requirements under existing conditions, at any rate, I admit that an aeroplane from an enemy vessel could destroy the Sydney Harbour bridge, or drop bombs on the capital cities. That would be only a raid, which could not be followed by occupation.We should recognize that our first duty is to develop this country, and not spend money needlessly in providing for defence. New Zealand and South Africa are far more exposed to invasion than is Australia. I agree with the honorable member’s statement that it would be nothing less than murder to send ill-equipped and untrained men into the field, but I do not admit his claim that Australia is the weakest link in the chain of Empire defence. The outlook in Europe may not be encouraging.
– It looks black in India, too.
– Yes. But the Japanese have bitten off as much as they can chew in Manchuria for the next 30 years. The very fact that Australia has adopted the voluntary system of military training is a gesture in favour of peace among the nations. The Labour party has always opposed compulsory service. If this country were attacked, every member of the community would be anxious to give his services in helping to repel the invader, and we should have several months’ notice of preparations for attack before an enemy could land here. The voluntary training system was rereceived with a good deal of enthusiasm; all the technical arms were fully recruited, but the response for the infantry was less satisfactory, and I understand that enlistments have declined since the Labour Government went out of office, although even now they are within 5,000 of the required strength of 35,000. In 1929 conferences of militia commanding officers held in all States recommended, in order to give a fillip to the voluntary system -
I believe that if all these recommendations were carried out we could quickly recruit the extra 5,000 men necessary for the defence of Australia. But the Minister has declared “it is not practicable, under present financial condition’s, to increase the rates of pay or the vote for provision of uniforms, but it is proposed to hold camps in lieu of bivouacs in 1932-33.” The committee will see that, despite the criticism that was hurled at the last Government by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis), the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), and others, when they have responsibility they continue the system which the predecessors of the present Government inaugurated. When I was Minister for Defence, I was advised that there was no likelihood of a war occurring within the next ten years; and judging by the present economic state of the world, there is little prospect of war on a large scale for at least two decades. Trouble may occur in Europe, but if it does I hope that Great Britain will manage to keep out of it and not risk a repetition of its experiences in the last war when, although it was mainly responsible for the success of the Allies, it gained the least benefit from victory.
In 1921 the Nationalist Government suspended for a period all camps of training. The number of training centres was reduced from 371 to 42 - in Queensland, from 63 to 11 ; in New South Wales, from 129 to 14; in Victoria, from 90 to 9; in South Australia, from 31 to 3; in Western Australia, from 19 to 1; and in Tasmania, from 37 to 4. I do not say that the present Government is disloyal because it does what the financial exigencies demand; it is merely acting with common sense. Train a lad to use his fists and he immediately wants to fight his fellows. ‘ Similarly, when a nation is armed to the teeth, it is always spoiling for a fight.
Whilst in my endeavour to economize I received a lot of assistance from officers in the Defence Department, I obtained no help in reducing the expenditure on the Royal Military College at Duntroon from £52,000 a year to £17,000 a year. I was told that such reduction could not be effected without destroying the morale of the cadets. We were training 69 cadets at a weekly cost of £14 per head. The college had cost £1,000,000 from its inception. At the Royal Naval College, Jervis Bay, £871,000 had been spent, and only 200 cadets had graduated. The annual cost of training 51 cadets was £67,000. When I declared that this expenditure must be reduced, I obtained no help from the commandant in charge. The Labour Government decided to transfer the Royal Military College from Duntroon to Sydney, where it is being maintained at a cost of about £15,000 a year, whilst by transferring it from Jervis Bay to Flinders, the annual expenditure on the Naval College has been reduced from £67,000 to £15,000.
The charge of disloyalty which, has been levelled against the Scullin Government cannot be sustained. That Government had to reduce expenditure, but unfortunately when a man is placed in charge of any service, whether a government department or a military establishment, he maintains that it is impossible to keep his expenditure within the limits prescribed by the government. There fore, a third party has to be brought in to do the job.
– The committee has probably been misled by certain statements made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) ; for instance, he stated that in his endeavour to reduce expenditure on the defence colleges he received no assistance from me when commandant at Duntroon or from the captain in charge of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay. If the honorable member, when Minister, failed to get that assistance, it must have been through lack of attention to the work of his department, because, during his regime, I prepared two schemes for the reduction of expenditure at Duntroon, and, in cooperation with the then captain in charge at Jervis Bay, drafted a third. Those proposals may or may not have been submitted to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. but in justice to my opposite number at Jervis Bay and myself, I must place on record the fact that these schemes were prepared and should have been brought to the notice of the then Minister.
– They were impracticable and proposed practically no saving.
– I listened carefully to what the honorable member had to say in criticism of my speech, and I do not see that I am called upon to reply to any of his remarks. He quoted portions of my speech almost verbatim, and made verbose comments upon them, but in no instance was he able to contradict anything I had said, except my statement that there was always a possibility of a world war. I know of the statement referred to by the honorable member as to the unlikelihood of a world war taking place for some time, and, in my opinion, it should not have been mentioned in this House by the exMinister for Defence or by anybody else.
– The honorable member himself made a statement diametrically opposed to it, and -which he must have known to be wrong.
– I did not know it to be wrong.
I do not propose to follow the honorable member into a discussion of those matters which came under my notice when I held an official position, and which should not be discussed publicly. It seems to me to be a poor foundation for a defence force to rely for immunity from attack on some psychological trait in the character of one’s enemy. It would not be right for those charged with the defence of the country to take such a factor into consideration as a reason for neglecting proper defence measures.
My statement that Ave are the weakest link of the Empire chain of defence has also been criticized by the ex-Minister. I am afraid that he is not in a position to dispute the truth of that statement; while I am in a position to prove it, and will do so at any time he feels inclined. Upon inquiry it would be borne out by practically every officer charged with the responsibility for defence of this country, no matter to what branch of the defence forces he may belong.. It is all very well to make gestures of disarmament to the world. The ex-Attorney-General, the former honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), at a conference in
Geneva, publicly announced that Australia had led the world in disarmament. My experience of life has taught me that it is not safe to play according to the rules if you are playing against people who do not know the rules, and that it is not safe for a nation to become the sole disarmed unit in the world while other nations - as many are doing now - are increasing their armaments from day to day. To say that because we arm ourselves to protect our homeland we are likely to invite attack, is a statement hardly worthy of an answer. Most honorable members will agree with me that the man who has learned to use his fists keeps out of fights until the occasion arises when he must fight, and then he knows how to use them. He does not seek quarrels. He avoids fights because he knows the danger and trouble incidental to them, even though he prove the victor.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie accused me of being an advocate of compulsory training. I do not think that I used the term in my speech the other night. It is an expression I do not use. Whenever I am discussing that aspect of defence, I use the expression “universal training “. The object of my speech was to draw attention to the fact that we in Australia were not in a position to defend ourselves. I said that the condition «f our finances had a great bearing on the present condition of our defence forces. I said that system of training previously in operation in this country had provided us with an efficient force, but I did not recommend a reversion to that system. I believe it is possible to build up an efficient force under the present system of voluntary training; but we must have adequate reserves, and to have them, we must be prepared to pay more for defence.
I do not propose to follow the honorable member for Kalgoorlie into all his comments on my remarks. I have other reasons for speaking to this item, one of them being to correct an error into which the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has fallen in more than one speech dealing with our defenders. On previous occasions, as well as ‘on the present, he has made erroneous statements which have not been challenged because, perhaps, no one has had the exact information at his disposal. He said that the cost of training cadet midshipmen at Jervis Bay worked out at approximately £4,000 for each cadet. He then drew a parallel between that and the cost of training students in the so-called learned professions at a university. I remind the honorable member that the conditions are not parallel. In an institution such as the Royal Australian Naval College it is necessary to teach the same number of subjects as in any faculty at a university, but the classes are much smaller in comparison with the number who take courses in medicine or law at a university. The cost of running small classes is always higher than that of running fullsized ones. The honorable member said that there were 162 teachers at the college, but that is not correct. I tried to correct him by interjection when he was speaking, but I was informed that I did not want to hear the truth. I protest that I do want to know- the truth, and I have been at some pains to learn it. At the Naval College, besides a number of officers and civilians, there were lower ratings who did the ordinary work about the college, such as painting and repairs. Others were cooks, who prepared meals for tlie cadets and the staff, while others were at the college partly for health reasons, recuperating after coming out of hospital.. They were not really connected with the college at all.- The figures quoted by the honorable1 member were, T believe, supplied to him by the Defence Department, which- was at fault in furnishing such information-. The honorable member then spoke of the expenses of the Royal Military College at Duntroon. He said that 69 staff cadets were under the charge of 98 teachers and others. I know that when that answer was furnished to- the honorable member, there were eight officer” instructors at the college. There were nothing like 98 others. Included among the “ others “ were persons who- were allowed to ply their own trade such as bootmaking, hairdressing, tailoring, and the like persons-, who by no stretch of the imagination could be put down as teachers. A consideration of these facts does not make the case quite so amazing. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) was misled in using the figures he quoted, and I hope that he will not use them again.
The Capital cost of the Royal Military College was criticized by the honorable member for Melbourne, and has been referred to again this evening by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. Both honorable gentlemen put the figure down at £1,000,000 up to date, taking into account all expenditure since 1911. On that basis, a calculation has been made to show how much it cost to turn out each cadet from the college. The number of cadets, alive or dead, was divided into the £1,000,000, but no regard was paid to the fact that during the war period 1,400 other officers were trained at the college. To train these, the staff frequently worked double shifts without any extra remuneration or expectation of it.
Certain anomalies in the three arms df the Defence Force have been awaiting rectification for a long time, but since no one has been in a position to voice the complaint nothing has been done. I refer to the unequal rates of pay of the three services. To illustrate the position, I shall take three equivalent ranks in the Royal Australian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force. A rear-admiral in the Navy receives, in active pay, £2,250; subject to no reductions under the financial emergency legislation, and until three or four months ago he also received £134 per annum deferred pay. Theseamounts, with a lodging allowance, made his total pay £2,464 a year. This rate is fairly in- accordance with therates ruling throughout the British. Empire, although in the Royal Navy they are slightly higher and the allowances are definitely better. In the Army,, a malor-general.. who is also chief of the general staff and senior member- of the Military Board, receives £1,163 a year. A major-general who is also adjutantgeneral, but is not chief of the general staff, receives- £891 a year. These ranks afford a fair indication of the relative rates of pay in the respective services. The age of the youngest incumbent in each case shows considerable disparity. In the case of the rear-admiral it is 55 years, in that of the major-general, who is chief of the general staff, it is nearly 59 years, and in that of the adjutantgeneral, it is 60 years. It will be seen, therefore, that at 60 years the adjutantgeneral of the Army receives £891, while at 55 years the rear-admiral, who is also chief of the naval staff, and has perhaps heavier responsibility, receives £2,464 a year. In each of the services there has been a different scale of examination for a considerable time. In the service to which I had the honour to belong, cadets who complete their preliminary course are examined for the rank of lieutenant, captain, major, and lieutenantcolonel before they may receive either promotion or increments in pay In addition, it might almost be said that dozens of other courses of special instruction have to be taken by an officer during his career. In the Navy, examinations are held only for the ranks of sub-lieutenant and lieutenant. Beyond the rank of lieutenant promotions depend upon reports on conduct and upon a certain degree of suitability and seniority. To continue the comparisons of pay, a brigadier draws from £752 to £891, the age of the youngest incumbent being 48 years, while an air-commodore draws £1,293, the age of the youngest incumbent being 42 years. A captain in the Royal Australian Navy draws from £1,100 to £1,300, while a colonel, which is the equivalent rank in the Army, draws £661, and a group captain, the equivalent air force rank, draws £1,224. To take another group, a commander in the Royal Australian Navy draws from £671 to £849, while his brother officer in the Army, a lieutenant-colonel, draws from £565 to £627, and a wing-commander draws from £672 to £930. Right down the scale the same disparity is to be found. This has been a source of irritation to officers serving in the Army. It does not make for harmony when officers in other branches of the service, younger in years and subject to fewer examinations for promotion, draw in some cases almost double the pay for their year’s work. The age disparity is in every case against the Army officer, and shows that the latter is nearly always five or six years older .than his brother officer of equivalent rank in the Navy and Air Force; yet nothing has been said or done with the object of correcting the anomaly. In these forces overseas vast changes have been made in recent years, with the result that to-day it might almost be said that a group of officers holding equivalent rank in the Navy, Army, or Air Force receive much the same pay. I consider that some degree of equality in pay should be introducced into the three arms of our Defence Force, to avoid the irritation that exists at present.
– Those honorable members who have discussed the subject of defence tonight have neglected to deal with fundamentals. I listened to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. McNicoll) with a good deal of attention, and while disagreeing with him on soma of the views he expressed concerning militarism, I am certain that he is sincere in trying to assist the people of Australia to defend this country effectively against an invader. We all wish to do that; but the difficulty is that from year to year governments, Ministers and various political parties :are insincere. If they were sincere in trying to perfect a scheme of defence - :not something that will aggravate other nations - they would set aside all personal business considerations in an endeavour to formulate a truly national scheme. That is what we ought to do if we wish to defend this country as we think it ought to be defended. Surely every honorable member will agree that the methods of warfare have changed as have conditions generally in our economic life. The basis of any defence scheme is largely economic, and. the question of private profit should be eliminated from the consideration of any scheme of defence. Let me give two illustrations. When the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) submitted £is report on the recent Disarmament Conference, he said that the outstanding difficulty - if he had not said so we could have obtained the information from his report or from our general reading - was to define where schemes of defence began and ended. He said that it was almost impossible to determine the amount of expenditure that should be permitted to one nation as against other nations, because of the inroads which defence makes upon the ordinary industrial activities of a nation. I remind honorable members of another statement made during the second year of the war. Tt seemed as if the allied countries would be wiped off the map, and Britishers were at their wits’ end; we were all wondering what was going to happen. But Mr. Lloyd George placed his finger on the cause of the whole trouble when he said, “England is not being defeated on the battlefield; she is being defeated in the workshops.” That statement was based on the fact that the British people had allowed their industrial technique to drift, their machinery .to become rusty, and their artisans to be out of training. Commodities which Great Britain should have been manufacturing were being obtained from Essen, Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere and transported to the dominions, thus allowing the British plants to become obsolete. On the outbreak of war these plants were useless and practically all branches of the navy, army and air force were ill-equipped or left without supplies to meet the situation which then developed. Following upon the advice which Mr. Lloyd George gave
Great Britain built factories, constructed machines, installed plant and trained men and women to make the equipment necessary to enable her soldiers to carry on the struggle. A cablegram containing the words of Mr. Lloyd George which I have quoted, was flashed all over the British Empire.
Great Britain’s experience during the war leads me to say that the millions of pounds which are expended on defence could be spent to greater advantage. We could get better results from the expenditure of the same amount if we would only discard the obsolete idea that our defence workshops should not enter into competition with private enterprise. In any scheme of national defence it is of paramount importance that, in peace time, these workshops should engage in work undertaken by private enterprise in order that it may be possible to maintain them at no cost to the general taxpayer. It is in that respect that honorable members are inconsistent when, for instance, they say that Cockatoo Island Dockyard shall not make a boiler for a private firm. Under our defence scheme we have difficulty in continuing the training of our engineers, electricians and artificers, who are equal to any in the world. I have heard men from Vickers works admit that. I have seen some of the machines in Vickers works fashioning huge pieces of iron resembling tree trunks into big guns. It was work which the general public is not supposed to see. The staff in our clothing factory which is making uniforms, canvas goods, and leather equipment is equal to any in the world, but because this Government and those it represents stand for the sacred rights of private enterprise, it is not maintained at its proper strength, and the factory is prevented from earning profits which would help us to maintain an efficient defence system. If those engaged in that factory were allowed to make tents and other canvas goods instead of making only covers for hangars, it would show a much better return. If continuous employment were provided for these artisans, we should be able to maintain a more efficient defence machine than we have at present. About 25 or 30 years ago a Commonwealth Government, whose name has .gone down in history and which was a credit to this country, established for the first time a defence scheme which aimed at making Australia self-reliant. That scheme was jeered at by those who said that we should subsidize Great Britain and expect the vessels of her fleet which were stationed 12,000 miles away to defend us should the need arise. That Government did not only train men for active service, and establish workshops, but it also subsidized people to open up the iron ore deposits in this country, and install plant to roll steel plates so that we could construct our own ships. It built woollen mills and clothing and harness factories, and developed all kinds of industries fundamental to any real scheme of defence. While the war was in progress no one objected to the development of these national workshops, or to increased expenditure upon them, because every one’s skin was in danger and the work was regarded as necessary, but when the war was over those who now say that we are not adequately defended, that our defence machinery is obsolete, and that we are not spending as much money upon it as we should, undermined and sabotaged these national workshops because the work that was being undertaken in them could not be classed . as 100 per cent. for defence purposes. We have since tried to carry on the workshops with the machinery working at only half capacity; we have neglected the proper technical training of the employees; we have undermined the fundamental basis of our defence scheme. If the defence of our country is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Let us have a decent scheme of defence. Only by having trained artisans, a succession of apprentices, and workshops equipped with modern machinery working at full, capacity, if necessary doing work which is not strictly either naval or military,, can we hope to establish a proper scheme of defence. When it was proposed to dismantle the Commonwealth harness factory, I interviewed General Ryrie, who told me that the leather and the canvas equipment of the Australian troops in Palestine was better than that of any other group of soldiers engaged in the war. I thereupon urged that, instead of disbanding the staff, which we had scoured Australia to secure, the manager, Mr. Crowe, should be allowed to make footballs, or cricket balls, or to do other work which could not come strictly within the category of naval or military requirements. The general agreed that the machinery should be kept up to date, and the staff well trained, but he added that the government of that day did not believe in governments engaging in trading operations. In other words, that Government would not do anything to encroach on the profit-making preserves, of the Flinders-lane merchants. The Commonwealth clothing factory showed a profit from the beginning; it paid for the land on which it stood and for the equipment, and, in addition, it contributed to the general revenue from time to time. But because the government of the day did not believe in the factory doing other than strictly defence work, it was proposed to close the factory. Representations were made that the management of the factory should be permitted to tender for the making of policemen’s uniforms and helmets, uniforms foi’ postal and tramway employees, &c, so that the staff, including the sailmakers required for the making of aeroplane hangars, might be kept in employment, but the request was refused, because it was said that to do so would be to enter into trade. If those who profess to believe in a scientific scheme of defence were in earnest, they would agree that the munition factory at Maribyrnong, the dockyards at Cockatoo Island, and the clothing factories in the several capitals, are all parts of a comprehensive scheme of defence, and they would allow the management to accept any work necessary to keep a trained staff fully employed.
– Is that not now being done at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory ?
– In order to keep that factory going, the last Government tried to find work for the special machines installed there, and, after some time, it decided to make shearing machines at Lithgow. That was done only because there was no private firm in Australia prepared to accept the risk of making those machines. Shearing machines are still made at the Lithgow factory, but on the part of some who pretend that they want to provide for the defence of Australia there is a constant endeavour to take that work away from the factory.
– Men are being put off at the rate of nine a week.
– The Maribyrnong workshops are in charge of a first class management. It was the first factory in Australia to roll sheets of brass, but as soon as it showed that there was profit in the operation the work was given to private enterprise. The management is not allowed to make the factory pay, notwithstanding that it is a necessary part of an adequate defence scheme.
I want our people to be self-reliant: I want Australia to have a real defence scheme, and that can be done only by having workshops properly equipped with modern machinery, and staffed with trained mechanics. Those who would deny the right of these workshops to maintain a trained staff by training apprentices year by year, and would refuse to permit the machinery to be kept up to date, are not playing the game; they are not real Australians, and are not really concerned about the defence of Australia. What is it that makes Hitler appeal to the young Germans of to-day unless it is that he and his Nazi lieutenants are seeking to establish a system of State socialism in Germany? They are out to build up the internal position of Germany. They claim that too long has Germany expended her energies in sending goods overseas without any real concern for Germany itself, and they are now concentrating upon building up the nation from within. Their appeal is meeting with a ready response. Germany is not allowed to manufacture arms and munitions of the orthodox kind; but its people know that the methods of warfare are changing, and that, in future, technicians will determine the soundness or otherwise of any nation’s scheme of defence. Consequently, Germany is training electricians, engineers, chemists, and skilled tradesmen, and has established a system of compulsory physical culture.
Groups of men, comprising university students, mechanics, and uneducated farm labourers, are put together incamps, and, at the expiration of twelve months of compulsory manual labour and educational training, the universitystudent cannot be distinguished from the mechanic or the manual labourer; they are all better men physically and mentally than when they entered the camps,and are possessed ofgreater initiative. Within a few years the whole German nation will be trained to the last ounce. This training is not classified as training for warfare; yet it is the basis of any sound scheme of defence. We must seek to make Australia worth defending by providing full-time work, decent wages, proper education, and reasonable hours and conditions of labour. If we make Australia worth defending every man will be willing to defend it. Our defence scheme is too costly for the results achieved. A sound scheme of defence necessitates intensive training, so that the nation, if forced into a war, can conduct its operations on a scientific basis. That cannot be done without trained men, or workshops equipped with machinery which, in times of peace, is used to promote peaceful development, and can, when the occasion arises, make implements of war. We should see that our defence scheme is established on such a basis.
– I pay a tribute to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), whose contributions to the debates in this chamber are always interesting and instructive. I believe that he is thoroughly sincere in all that he says with reference to our defence system, but I disagree with him when he says that we are spending too much upon it. I endorse his remarks with reference to the need for national workshops which could be devoted to defence purposes when the need arises, and I submit that we should make adequate provision for the training and equipment of our forces. Those of us who went through the horrors of the Great War have no desire to take part in another, nor do we wish to see put into operation defence policies which may give offence to other countries and perhaps cause another conflict. It is, however, essential that we should put our defences in such a state as to deter any foreign power from endeavouring to occupy our shores. [Quorum formed.] I should not have spoken in this debate but for the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) who, as an ex-Minister for Defence, should be able to enlighten the committee upon the real state of our defence system. But before commenting upon his observations, I desire to compliment the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) upon his comprehensive survey of our position and his exposure of our impotence in defence matters. I cannot help thinking, however, that he did not give us the whole story - that he let us down somewhat lightly; I should like to hear him say exactly what is in his mind about the state of our defences, in the hope that it would awaken the people to the danger ofunpreparedness. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie made statements which, to me, appeared to be ridiculous and absolutely insincere.
– I take exception to the offensive remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and ask that they be withdrawn. He has charged me with insincerity.
– I withdraw the remarks if they are offensive to the honorable member, but I hope to be able to prove what I have just said. As an ex-soldier the defence of this country is of some consequence to me, particularly in view of the fact that portion of Sydney Harbour defences is in my electorate. Members of the Labour party never tire of telling us that the party stands for the effective defence of Australia, but its more recent attitude to this important subject would lead one to believe that its ideas of the defence measures necessary to protect this country from aggression are, to say the least, somewhat humorous. I, in common with many other honorable members on this side of the chamber, take a serious view of our position. Recently, in company with the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) and one or two other members, I had an opportunity to inspect the defences of Sydney Harbour. At South Head I was particularly struck with the inadequacy of the guns and equipment. I understand that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, when he was Minister for Defence, also inspected the South Head Military Reserve with the object, I believe, of considering a proposal to make it a public reserve. If the present arrangements at South Head - they are a travesty of what defence measures should be - are allowed to stand, the reserve might as well be handed over to the people for a public park. I asked the officer in charge how the range of the guns would compare with naval guns, and was informed that modern vessels would be able to stand off and blow South Head to atoms. Will honorable members believe me when I say that candles are used in the magazine for lighting purposes, and that the machinery used to drive the searchlights is so exposed that it could be put out of action by one shell? After inspecting South Head our party crossed to the other side of the harbour to have a look at Chowder Bay. There I was horrified at the conditions under which the men comprising the garrison were carrying on their work. The engineering officer in charge has, under his control, a number of efficient machines, lathes, &c, but I was astounded to notice that the overhead shafting was supported from hangers which, in their turn, were supported by broken beams screwed together with bolts. The first question that I asked that particular officer was, whether the State factory inspectors allowed this sort of thing. He replied, “ Unfortunately for us, they have no jurisdiction. If they had, we should have been put through long ago.” I then asked why the beams were bolted together as they were; whether it was due to the fact that there was not a sufficient supply of timber. I was told that the amount of money available did not permit of decent joistings being put in. I then said, “ Where did you get all this broken timber ?” and was told “ We simply tore up the floor, took out the beams, bolted them together, and swung them overhead “. The reply to my inquiry as to what supported the flooring was, “ We have rubble built under .the joistings to support it “. This establishment is a travesty of a defence system for Australia. It reminded me of a song that was sung on the other side, “ We are a ragtime army “.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie argued that no army could land on the shores of Australia, because it would be prevented by the British navy. He is one of those who would hold on to the apron-strings of the Mother Country. In the mouths of such people -the worst word is too good for the British navy in times of peace, but as soon as war threatens they expect it to get us out of our troubles. The honorable member also said that if any nation should dare to make an attempt to invade Australia, every man; woman and child would go to the waterfront to resist it. Presumably they would be armed with pop-guns, or would endeavour to prevent a landing by the use of hot air, a practice in which the honorable member is well versed. When an ex-Minister for Defence says that the defences of Australia are effective, his qualifications for that position ought to be investigated. I am pleased that in the present Assistant Minister we have a military man. Ho has given us the assurance that when the finances permit the whole of the defence system will be thoroughly re-organized. I may have peculiar notions in regard to those who should hold Cabinet positions; but I maintain that the defence system of this country can be properly administered only by a practical soldier, not by a theorist or one who has had no experience of warfare. Any man who endeavours to administer the system without possessing the requisite knowledge cannot do justice to Australia. Those who have practical knowledge of the subject should lay bare the sorry state to which our defences have sunk. If the Government were really aware of the conditions that exist it would not restrict the expenditure to such a miserly pittance as we find in these Estimates.
.- I feel somewhat timid at obtruding into this debate after all the spare colonels, generals, admirals and commodores have taken part in it. The other evening, I suggested to the Government that it is useless to send delegates to the League of Nations and disarmament conferences, because wars are inevitable so long as the present economic system operates. That has been demonstrated to-night by the speeches of every honorable member who has had naval or military experience. Each has said that we must prepare for war. If that be so, why should we continue the farce of sending delegates to disarmament conferences and the League of Nations - which, I understand, was supposed to be established to preserve the peace of the world? Australia is one of the signatories to the Kellogg Pact, under which a great many nations undertook, in no circumstances, to resort to amis for the settlement of their differences. Practical demonstration of our sincerity in sending delegates to the League of Nations and disarmament conferences, and in signing pacts which provide that the nations shall not resort to arms for the settlement of their differences, would be given by a substantial reduction of the defence vote. I agree with the honorable member for “Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) that if we want an efficient army and navy we must give the people something to fight for, some interest in the conflict. Even military gentlemen will not contradict that assertion. If they were to go among the unemployed returned soldiers and suggest their participation in another war, what measure of success would they have? Unfortunately, many of the men who were promised much when they were asked to fight, now have nothing to defend except the dole ticket.
– They would have to defend the honorable member.
– If I depended on the honorable member for Denison I should lean on a rotten reed. If I were sure of the same protection as he had during his war service, I should be prepared to serve. Those who did the actual fighting in the last war are to-day in the ranks of the unemployed, existing on the dole. Honorable members say that it is unfortunate that the salaries of men in the army and the navy should have to be reduced. Who are the mon who voted for that reduction under the Financial Emergency Act that was passed last year? They are the brass hats in this Parliament, the returned soldier members who, to-day, parade their wonderful concern for the defence services. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) mentioned the salaries of admirals, commodores, brigadiers and majors-general, but said not a word about the pay of the lower ratings or the privates, who do the actual fighting. I was not old enough to go to the last war, but even had I been I should not have gone. That conflict was not caused by the assassination of a member of a European Royal family, as asserted by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) to-night. We know full well that it was the result of conflict on the economic field - among the various Imperialist powers. They are not able to settle their differences by negotiation or other peaceful methods, consequently they arm for the day when inevitably, they will have to resort to war. Take the position in Australia to-day. Japan is represented as being one of Britain’s allies. Will the Minister, then, explain why his department is erecting defences at Port Darwin? Is it because the Government is afraid of Japan or some other nation attacking this country ?
Whenever a trade agreement is entered into which interferes with the markets of another nation, the way is prepared for a future war. The Ottawa agreement aims a severe blow at our secondary industries, in which capital of the United States of America is invested. Is it imagined that the capitalists of that country, who have their funds invested in our secondary industries, will remain quiet and allow us to shut them out of the markets which they have prepared for themselves ? There will be a continual conflict over the Ottawa agreement, and, when it is found to be impossible to settle differences on the economic field by peaceful methods, armed conflict will result.
I shall refer to discipline in the Navy, which was mentioned hy other honorable members. 1 have in mind the case of one of the lower paid ranks who was involved in an ordinary brawl which took place on the mess deck of his ship. He was thrown into the vessel’s prison, dumped ashore when the mainland was reached, drummed out of the Navy, and denied the deferred pay to which he was entitled. Courts martial and inquiries held aboard warships receive no publicity, so that, the general public does not know whether the men concerned receive a fair deal. I see no reason why publicity should not he given to these proceedings, so that the public who subscribe funds to maintain the army and navy through the medium of taxation, may know exactly how their men are treated.
Practically every honorable member who has spoken to this item went to the last war, and in consequence lays claim to some knowledge of defence matters. The inference is that those who did not go are ignorant on the subject. That being so, Sir George Pearce, the present Minister for Defence, must be placed in that category.
I was surprised by the suggestion of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) that the way to bring about efficiency in the Navy is to provide the officers and sailors with free liquor, so that, when visiting the Pacific Islands and other ports, they may appropriately maintain the dignity of the Navy. If that indicates a knowledge of defence, I plead guilty to ignorance on the subject.
I should like an explanation from the Minister regarding the £300 which, he said, is paid to Australian officers in London, and I shall be glad if he can supply the number, name, and rank held by those officers in the Australian army, and what their duties are on the other side of the world. I should also like to know what are the duties of the liaison officer who is retained in London at au enormous salary.
Now that honorable members opposite have acknowledged that Australia does not believe that the peace of the world will be preserved for long, that war is inevitable, and that Australia should prepare for it, I urge that we should end the farce of sending delegates overseas to disarmament and League of Nations conferences. If it is” desired to have an efficient defence force, we must first have our lines of communication secure. How can that be attained when we have an enormous army of discontented unemployed ? I say, frankly, no matter what the nation may be with which Australia comes into conflict, I shall not only not support the project, but also advise our unemployed not to participate, as they would have nothing to gain by doing so. Those returned soldiers who are out of work today realize the error they made when they went to the war. As one honorable member has said, when the cry went out that the Empire was in danger and their patriotism was appealed to, those men willingly rushed in, saying, “ Give us a rifle, supply us with a uniform, put us on transports going to the other side of the world, and we will protect the Empire “. But those who controlled the situation said, “ Oh, no, we do not do things like that. We shall not give you a rifle and transport you free to the other side of the world, but will loan you those articles and advance your fares overseas. If you are fortunate enough to come back to Australia, we expect you to repay us “.
It is all very well for the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) to talk about “ our country “. He probably has some decent stake in it. What have the unemployed to protect? Give them homes, decent working conditions, and security for their wives and children, and there will be no need to appeal to their patriotism. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I happen to be an Australian of the third generation, not a foreign agitator imported to this country of whom honorable members opposite express so much fear, and I play second fiddle to none insofar as being a real Australian is concerned. Probably I have a greater right to talk about “Australia, our country,” than many who have spoken to-night. I contend that the true Australian patriot is not the man who waves a flag, beats a drum, and urges somebody else to do ths fighting when there is a war on, but he who seeks to lift the living conditions of the people of Australia to such a high standard that he can justly take pride in being a citizen of this country.
.- I move -
That the item, “Secretary, £2,000”, be reduced by £500.
I am confident that, if it receives proper consideration, my amendment will be accepted. After the application of the provisions of the Financial Emergency Act, the Secretary’s salary is £1,560. The relative position of this officer to that of the principal soldier of the land, the chief of the military staff, has already been referred to by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. McNicoll). The chief of the military staff, a major-general, has a position classified at £1,500 a year, and after statutory deductions are made, he is actually paid £1,163. My proposal is to bring the chief of the clerical staff down to the same grade as the chief of the military staff. The history of the Secretary of the Department of Defence is not unknown. This officer was at one time private secretary to a former Prime Minister, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). The succeeding Prime Minister desired a new secretary, so the old secretary was appointed to the High Commissioner’s office and later transferred to the Defence Department. It is an anomalous position. The honorable member for Werriwa has compared it with the positions of military and naval officers. Several honorable members, who have spoken to me about the position of the Secretary for Defence, have contended that the salary is much too high. I now suggest to them that it is of no use to talk and take no action. This Government was returned to office to reduce expenditure. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who is in close touch with the secretary of the department, has not seen fit to propose any reduction in his salary. If we believe that the salary is higher than the position warrants, it is our duty to take the steps necessary to effect its reduction.
Motion (by Mr. Rosevear) negatived -
That the question be now put.
– I oppose the amendment. Mr. Shepherd, the Secretary of the Defence Department, is a man of considerable experience, and I have a high opinion of his ability. His salary of £2,000 has, under the financial emergency legislation, been reduced by £450. This officer is not popular, mainly because he does necessary things without fear of the consequences. Because of his ability, he was selected by Mr. Fisher, when Prime Minister, as his private secretary. He was subsequently appointed to the position of Secretary to the Department of the Prime Minister, hut the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when Prime Minister, was anxious to place in that position his own private secretary, and in order to do so proposed to appoint Mr. Shepherd to the position of Secretary to the High Commissioner in London. Mr. Shepherd refused to go to London in that, capacity unless he received a higher salary. The Prime Minister agreed to this,, and the salary was increased to £2000; Mr. Shepherd remained in London for a considerable time, and upon his return was appointed to the position of Secretary to the Department of Defence. Mr. Shepherd is a valuable officer, because he acts as a go-between between the Minister and the heads of the various arms of defence, each of whom considers his branch of supreme importance. I hope that the amendment will not be agreed to.
– I ask the committee not to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). Mr. Shepherd is receiving a salary of £2,000 a year, which, is subject to a definite reduction under the financial emergency legislation. The position he occupies is an important one, and the work of Mr. Shepherd has been rendered more difficult because of the reduction in the total vote for defence purposes. Prior to going to Great Britain, this officer was Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, and, as such, received a salary of £1,200. That position is now classified at a salary of £2,000 per annum. When the position of official secretary in London became vacant in 1921, the Government of the day offered it to Mr. Shepherd at a salary of £2,000 a year. He accepted and held it until 1927 when he was transferred to Australia as Secretary to the Defence Department and took the place of Mr. Trumble, who is now liaison officer in London at a salary of £2,000 a year. Mr. Collins is also paid £2,000 a year. Both salaries are subject to deductions under the financial emergency legislation. Honorable members, by referring to page 1081 of Hansard, of the present session, will see that a number of officers in the Public Service are receiving a salary equivalent to that of the Secretary to the Defence Department. Mr. Shepherd, who has had 42 years’ service, is the oldest permanent head in the Service, and it is only just that after such faithful service he should receive a salary at least equal to that enjoyed by many other officers who are his juniors in the Service. The honorable member for Perth does not allege that Mr. Shepherd is not an efficient officer, nor has he given any reason in support of the amendment which he has moved. As a matter of fact he is an officer of conspicuous ability, and is carrying out his work extraordinarily well in view of the difficulties with which he is confronted. His work is doubly trying because of the difficulties of administration brought about by the reduced sums made available for defence. I hope that, in view of the facts presented to the committee, the honorable member for Perth will not press his amendment.
– I do press it.
– Then I urge the committee to reject it.
Thursday, 27 October 1932
– I am given to understand that when increased rates of pay in the navy were granted seven or eight years ago, the claims of petty officers in the Permanent Forces were overlooked, but that when the last two redactions of public servants generally were made they were called upon to participate in them. If that is a fact, I suggest to the Government that the position of these men should now be reconsidered.
. -I feel disposed to support the amendment. As the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has said, we should be prepared to take action to overcome the financial difficulties of the country. Possibly the Secretary for Defence has sound claims to the salary which he is now receiving; but it is, to say the least of it, anomalous to grade a nonprofessional officer in the department much above the responsible heads of the various arms of the Defence Force. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) requires information about the navy, he does not go to a sailor, nor does he consult a soldier about the army, and, presumably, when he wishes to know the state of his bodily health he asks a Inwyer to examine him. I was not at all convinced by the honorable member’s remarks. No doubt when he was the ministerial head of the department, he was closely associated with the present Secretary for Defence, and was probably impressed by that officer’s worth. I have no desire to disparage the value of his services; but it is inconsistent to grade that officer so far above the chief of the general staff and the chief officer in the air force as to cause comment in this chamber. I have heard that Mr. Shepherd’s salary is protected under a certain agreement made at the time of his London appointment. If his salary is protected, I presume that that agreement stands.
– Does it bind this Parliament ?
– I am merely asking for information.
– It does not.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) referred to the development of civil aviation, and particularly to certain air routes in the Richmond electorate. The future policy to be pursued in regard to civil aviation was recently the subject of an examination by a departmental committee. That committee has furnished its report, and the Minister is now considering its recommendations. I shall see that the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond are brought under the Minister’s notice. The suggestion that naval cadets who fail to pass the final examination for admission to the navy should be absorbed in other branches of the Public Service will also be taken into consideration.
The honorable member will be glad to know that provision has been made for the continuation of the hydrographic survey of the Great Barrier Reef. Owing to the limited financial resources of the country, it is not possible to commission the survey vessel Moresby for that work, but as the vessels trading on that part of the Australian coast are using, mainly, charts which were prepared by Matthew Flinders, the Government is anxious that this work should not cease. Personally, I have for years stressed the importance of this survey, and -many other Queenslanders have supported my representations. I am pleased to be able to state that the work has not been discontinued. Until the finances will permit of the survey ship Moresby being recommissioned, arrangements have been made for the work to be carried on by a naval survey party operating in motor boats. When the financial position improves there will be no delay in bringing the naval stores up to date.
I have no desire to follow the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) in his attempt to justify the defence policy pursued by the Scullin Government, of which he was a member. I do not think that the honorable member himself, nor anybody else, is satisfied with the present condition of the Defence Forces as the result of that policy. I certainly am not.
I ought not to resume my seat without making passing reference to the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), particularly those concerning my colleague Senator Sir George Pearce. Owing to his many years’ experience in administering the Defence Department, no other man in Australia is better fitted for that work than Senator Sir George Pearce. He was first appointed Minister for Defence in November, 1908, and, except for two short periods, continued in that position until December, 1921. During the earlier years of his administration he was largely responsible for the introduction and development of our defence forces under the universal training scheme from which force was provided the. foundation of our magnificent Australian Imperial Force. Sir George was in charge of the destiny of the Defence Department during practically the whole of the strenuous war years. Under his direction and administration some 417,000 men were recruited, equipped, and trained, and approximately 330,000 were transported overseas. After the termination of the war, arrangements for the return and demobilization of this huge force also came directly under the administration of the right honorable gentleman. The record of our gallant Australian Imperial Force overseasprovides a lasting monument to his capacity and initiative as an administrator. I think that Australia is indeed fortunate in having had such an able and distinguished man as its
Minister for Defence during these difficult times.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has referred to the defence liaison officer in London. Mr. Trumble was appointed by the Scullin Government to discharge temporarily duties that previously were carried out by senior officers of the army, navy, and air services. His responsibility is to keep the defence authorities in Australia posted regarding the latest developments in Great Britain in armaments, munitions, methods of training, &c., affecting the various arms of our Defence Force. The honorable member for East Sydney referred, also, to the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) as one who had participated in the war from a safe position. That was an unwarranted reflection upon a gallant officer.
– I did not see him over there.
– That is all the more reason why the honorable member should be careful in his references to an officer who served his country faithfully and well.The honorable member for Denison commanded a company of the 21st Battalion, and for his distinguished service and gallantry was promoted in the field and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He completed a fine war record as brigade major of the 3rd Brigade.
– Why was he not taken into the Cabinet? What about preference to returned soldiers?
– Unfortunately, there is not room in the Cabinet for every honorable member who is qualified to be there; but it ill becomes men who have no record as soldiers to make slighting references to a man with such an honorable military record as that of the honorable member for Denison.
– What is the reason for the garrison at Port Darwin? Of whom is the Government afraid?
– A nucleus force has been established at Port Darwin to protect the oil supplies there. When our fleet burned coal, large stocks of that fuel were kept at Thursday Island, and a small garrison was maintained there to defend those stores. Our ships are now converted to oil fuel, of which quantities are stored in tanks at Darwin, whither the military organization formerly stationed at Thursday Island has been transferred.
– Why is the oil stored at Darwin, instead of Sydney?
– Supplies are stored at Sydney and elsewhere. Our trade routes must be protected against menace from any quarter, and, therefore, it is necessary to have supplies of fuel in the north, so that when ships of the fleet are operating there they may replenish their stores, speedily and conveniently.
– Will the Minister explain the item of £300 for allowances to departmental representatives abroad?
– Officers sent to the United Kingdom on duty receive an allowance to meet the additional expenses to which they are subjected. Similarly, an officer in Australia who. is required to Undertake duties which involve his absence from home, receives a special allowance for travelling, &c. The amount of £300 is to provide for the expenses of representatives of the Defence Forces sent abroad on special duty. A similar amount was voted last year.
I again appeal to the committee not to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). The Public Service is classified by a board.
– Has this particular office been classified by the Public Service Board ?
– The classification of heads of departments is the prerogative of the Government. I understand that special circumstances and conditions surrounded the appointment of the Secretary of the Defence Department. He is, however, the senior departmental head and has rendered faithful service in every position he has occupied.
– So have the -4,000 men who are to be sacked from the New South Wales railways.
– They have my sympathy. But I hope that this committee will not apply that example to a faithful officer who has qualified by long and able service for the remuneration he now receives.
Motion (by Mr. Rosevear) negatived -
That the question be now put.
– I oppose the amendment.
– Members of the Opposition always battle for the “ tall poppies.”
– That is untrue, but we are opposed to further cuts. There might be some justification for reviewing the salaries of all departmental heads, simultaneously, but the singling out of one officer for a cut of £500 a year, suggests limelighting on the part of some honorable members who would have the public believe that they stand for economy and that other members who oppose this drastic and unfair proposal do not. The Secretary of the Defence Department has already suffered a reduction of £450 a year under the Financial Emergency Act. At least four other departmental heads receive £2,000 a year, whilst the Director-General of Postal Sendees receives an annual salary of £3,000.
– That is different.
– That is a matter of opinion. We should act fairly if any action is taken at all, and Cabinet should reconsider the salaries of all permanent heads of departments. Any cut made in the salary of the head of the Defence Department should apply also to the heads of other Commonwealth depart- “ ments. If that is done, the Opposition is prepared to consider favorably proposals for economizing along those lines. As a general principle, however, we are opposed to any further cuts in salaries. We believe that the Commonwealth Public Service has already suffered sufficient reductions under the Financial Emergency Act. A few days ago this Parliament in its wisdom refused to agree to a proposal to reduce the salary of the Clerk of the Senate. Although I admit that the Clerk of the Senate is an estimable officer, and gives good service, no one will contend that he is overworked, and if Parliament did not think it proper to reduce his salary, there can be no justification for further reducing the salary of the Secretary to the Defence Department. It is not equitable to single out one man for such treatment.
– I support the amendment. I have nothing against the officer personally, but if we compare his salary with that of other permanent heads of departments, it is evident that he is receiving more than he is entitled to. The Secretary to the Treasury occupies a more important position, yet he receives only £1,500 a year, less a deduction under the Financial Emergency Act.
– He receives an additional £600 a year as a director of the Commonwealth Bank Board.
– The Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department receives £1,750 a year, while the Secretary to the Department for the Interior receives only £1,400.
– The Solicitor-General has only recently been appointed to his position.
– It appears to me that if the Secretary to the Defence Department received £1,500 a year he would be well paid for his services, seeing that he is not associated with the actual defence of the country, but merely with the administration of the department.
Mr. BEASLEY (“West Sydney) [12.23 a.m. J . - My attitude on this matter differs from that of other honorable members who support the amendment. I am influenced by my opinion of the officer himself. I have come into contact with him when placing before him the cases of the lower paid men in the Service, particularly those employed at Garden Island. “Whenever he had an opportunity to deal a blow at the conditions of the lower paid artisans, he did not hesitate to do so. At no stage in my negotiations did I ever detect in him the slightest sympathy with those on whose behalf I had interested myself. Now, when an opportunity presents itself to teach a lesson to this man enjoying his comfortable £30 a week, I propose to let him know, if possible, where he stands. He and others like him, use every opportunity to further their own interests, but never do anything to help the lower paid men in their departments. I do not agree that the principle of wage reduction is involved. These highly paid officers are in a different category altogether from those whose interests I represent in this Parliament. When we consider the sacrifices that are being demanded of other sections of the lower paid employees of the Government, it is not too much to ask something more of those who are living in the lap of luxury. I propose to take this opportunity to teach them a lesson.
– No valid reasons have been advanced in support of the amendment. The mover admitted that he did not know the record of the officer; that he was unable to say that the officer did not do hiawork properly, or that he was not capable and efficient. The reasons advanced by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) for supporting the amendment are not those which should influence any deliberative assembly. Because one man is receiving £30 a week while others are receiving less is no reason why we should deal harshly with a man who has faithfully served his country for over 40 years.
– Many of those who have served their country as faithfully are now on the dole.
– The honorable member was himself on the dole before he came to this Parliament, and ho will go back on the dole when he loses his seat. The Secretary to the Defence Department has served the country for 42 years, and it i3 not reasonable to cut his salary by practically £1,000 a year. As a result of the financial emergency provision, his salary has already been reduced to £1,550, and if it is reduced by another £500, he will receive only £1,050.
– Actually he will receive £1,153.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is not the figure at which I arrived by my method of calculation. The Government has considered the Estimates carefully, and believes the salary fixed for this position to be reasonable. It has stood at this figure for a number of years. If there are valid reasons why the position is not worth the money, surely they should have been stated before this.
– It is a matter of tho country’s capacity to pay.
– And whether the position is worth the money.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The position is worth the money. The argument of the honorable member for
Denison (Mr. Hutchin) that, because this officer is not a soldier, he is not qualified to administer the department is not sound.
– I did not say that. I did not disparage the man in any way.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL The honorable member said that a military man should be Secretary to the department.
– What I said was that the heads of the military departments should be rated at least as high as the permanent Secretary to the Defence Department.
– I understood the honorable member to say that a civilian could not successfully fill this position, and I intended to direct his attention to the position of Lord Cromer, one of the greatest administrators the wor’d has ever seen. Lord Cromer knew nothing about irrigation when he went to Egypt, but he carved out for himself there a reputation for handling irrigation projects which will remain famous in history. It would be entirely unreasonable for honorable members to accept this amendment, in view of the fact that nothing has been said against the efficiency of the officer concerned. Doubtless, in the course of his career, this gentleman has made enemies, as every man does who performs his work without fear or favour; but he has proved himself to be capable and trustworthy, and there is no justification for the amendment.
– I cannot record a silent vote on this amendment, which seems to me to be aimed at one officer.
– There are others to follow.
– In my opinion, this committee is not competent to express an opinion upon whether the salary proposed by the Government is either adequate or generous. I understand that the salary has been reviewed by the Public Service Board.
– The salaries of the permanent heads of departments are fixed by the Government, and not by the Public Service Board.
– That being so, the Government accepts the responsibility for the fixing of this salary. Are honorable members prepared to reconsider the salaries of heads of other departments that have already been approved?
– If I thought they would do so, -I might be prepared to support the amendment. If the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) had moved his amendment as an instruction to the Government to review the salaries of all departmental heads, I should look at it in a different light. As it is, I cannot support it.
.I regret that I differ from the Government on this issue. I shall support the amendment, but not for the reasons given by certain honorable members on my right which are the last that would influence me. As this department is not now one-fiftieth of its normal strength, it seems to me that there is no justification for continuing to pay the present salary to the secretary. Although an honorable member owes a certain loyalty to his party, he must make up his own mind on a subject of this kind, and act in what he believes to be in the best interests of the country. I cannot subscribe to the view that a Government supporter is obliged to support every proposal that the Government makes. In this instance, I shall act upon my own judgment.
– It is difficult to understand how the salaries of permanent heads of departments are fixed. I find that the Secretary of the Treasury is paid a salary of £1,500 per annum less £375 under the Financial Emergency Act.
– He also receives £600 as a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board.
– The salaries of certain other departmental heads are very much lower than that of the Secretary to the Defence Department. There is also a considerable disparity between the salaries of the principal officers of the naval and military forces and that of the secretary to the department. I cannot agree that the secretary should receive a much higher salary than is paid to men who are responsible for carrying out our defence system. Seeing that the Defence vote has been very greatly reduced in recent years, there is justification for a reduction in the salary of the secretary.
– The reduction of the vote has made the secretarial duties heavier.
– As a much smaller sum of money is being spent, the administrative responsibility should also be less. For the reasons I have given I shall vote for the amendment.
.- I can understand the attitude of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) ; but I am curious about the reasons actuating certain other honorable members who have supported the amendment. I would not at any time allow my personal feelings towards a Commonwealth official to influence my vote on a subject like this. At the same time, I have felt that the salaries of many of the more highly-paid Commonwealth public servants, particularly in the Defence Department, should be reviewed. “While governments in the past have been somewhat niggardly in fixing the salaries of public servants in subordinate positions, they have been overgenerous towards the departmental heads. This remark is particularly applicable to the Secretary to the Defence Department. I am anxious to ascertain whether those supporting the amendment are in favour of reducing the salaries paid to the admiral of the Fleet, the first member of the Naval Board, and others occupying responsible positions in other branches of the Service. I have felt for some time that it would be of greater advantage to the community to pay higher salaries to the medical men in the Health Department who are working in the interests of humanity, than to remunerate so highly some of the senior officers of the Defence Department. Many of the salaries paid to the senior officers in the Public Service are out of all proportions to the services rendered. Members of Parliament who receive only £7 50 a year are away from their homes for long periods, and during their absence, are not in the fortunate position of many public servants who draw travelling and other allowances. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill), said that the Estimates have been carefully considered by the Government, but I venture to suggest that these salaries have not been given that consideration which the Minister would have us believe has been given to them. They are approved from year to year as a matter of form, but when economies are to be effected, they are made at the expense of those on the lower rungs of the ladder. It is the latter whose salaries are reduced, and whose overtime and travelling allowances are also seriously interfered with. Officers of the Defence Force are entitled to all sorts of extraordinary conditions such as 42 days annual leave during each year-
– Not in the army.
– Naval officers engaged on shore work are entitled to 43 days annual leave at a time when the rights of others are being whittled away. I support the amendment, and at the first opportunity will submit a proposal instructing the Government to review the salaries of all highly-paid officers. In taking this action I shall expect the support of those honorable members opposite who propose to vote for this amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Gander) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced, be so reduced (Mr. Nairn’s a m en dmen t ) - put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- In order to be consistent, I now move-
That the item, “Defence Liaison Officer, London, £2,000,” be reduced by £500.
– I ask the honorable member to be serious. It is no light thing to move that an officer’s salary be reduced by £500, merely in order to be consistent. The officer, who is at present carrying out the duties of Defence Liaison Officer, London, was head of the Defence Department for a number of years, and rendered invaluable service to Australia during the whole period of the Great War. It is scandalous that at this early hour amendments of this nature should be moved without any information being placed before the committee to support them. Not one reason has been advanced to show why the salary of this officer should be reduced by £500. He has not been charged with incompetence; indeed I do not believe that the honorable member who moved the amendment knows anything at all about him. I hope that the committee will reject the amendment on the voices.
Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Nairn’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman- Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The official Opposition supported the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) because it considered the position of liaison officer in Great Britain to be superfluous, and that, at a time like this when the Government is affecting further economies, a saving should be made in the salary provided for that office.
– The appointment was made by the Government of which the honorable member was a member. It is amazing to find him now questioning the action of his own Administration.
– I should like to explain that honorable members who sit with me in this chamber take the view that, since it has become the practice to make reductions of salary in the case of lower paid officers, a course to which we are strongly opposed, it is necessary to demonstrate, per medium of our votes, our intention whenever possible, to effect economies in the case of higher paid officers, particularly those in the salary range of from £1,500 to £2,000 a year. We believe that if economies are to be made, the burden should be placed upon the shoulders of those officers best able to bear it. I make these observations in order that our position with regard to reductions of Public Service salaries may be clearly understood by the people.
. -I do not wish the position of the Government in this matter to be misunderstood. The amendments upon which votes have just been taken were not considered vital. The Government realizes that members have every right to exercise their opinion in this matter.
– The honorable gentleman will not be in order in referring to an amendment which has just been dealt with by the committee.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL That was not my intention, Mr. Chairman. I had in mind future amendments that might be submitted.
– Clearly, the Minister would not be in order in discussing amendments which have not even been indicated.
– In view of the lateness of the hour, and the protracted nature of the debate on the Estimates for this department, it is, I think, reasonable to now take a vote upon it.
Proposed vote agreed to.
House adjourned at 1.7. a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: - -
s asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
With regard to onions recently imported into Australia from America, per A.M.S. Monterey -
What was (a) f.o.b. value per ton; (6) d.i.f. value per ton; (c) primage per ton; (d) exchange per ton; (e) wharfage and other dues per ton; (/) import duty per ton; (g) lauded cost per ton; and (ft) wholesale selling price per ton?
Were any Australian-grown onions then available?
If so, what quantity, arid what was the wholesale selling price?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:-
Price of Butter.
y. - Information is being obtained in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) in regard to the selling price of butter.
– On the 13th October, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information v -
y. - Information is being obtained in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Caprieornia (Mr. Forde) in regard to the consumption and importation of rum.
e asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the total quantity of potable brandy of Australian origin in stock in Australia on (a) 30th June, 1932, and (b) 30th September, 1932?
– The information is being obtained.
Commonwealth Military Forces.
s. - Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible to the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) in regard to members of the Commonwealth Military Forces sent to staff colleges in England.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the attention of the Government been drawn to a statement in the Melbourne Sun of the 22nd instant wherein it is stated that one of the major oil companies is refusing to supply crude oil to an Australian company engaged in the refining of an economical engine fuel; if so, does the Government propose to take any action to prevent such restraint of trade ?
Mr. Archdale Pabkhill (for Mr. Lyons). - Yes. The Government will give careful consideration to any facts submitted to it which indicate that there has been a breach of Commonwealth law.
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. Archdale Parkhill (for Mr. Lyons). - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
en asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. Archdale Parkhill (for Mr. Lyons). - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
ns). - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
y. - On the 13th October, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
ns). - On the 18th October, the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) asked the following question, without notice: -
Will the Prime Minister inform me whether tobacco planting machines fall within the definition of farm implements, and are therefore exempt from sales tax?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The recent amendments of the Sales Tax Assessment Acts provide for exemption of “ Machines for planting seedlings “. Tobacco planting machines are exempt under that heading.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 October 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19321026_reps_13_136/>.