1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask you, Mr. President, without notice, if you have been officially informed by the Chief Reporter that the Prime Minister did authorize him to promise that it would be no part of the duties of Hansard reporters to report Royal commissions, and that they would always have the recess to themselves ? When you stated yesterday that you did not think “ that the Prime Minister made such promise,” had you received an assurance to the contrary from the Chief Reporter, and had you perused all the papers on the subject ? What was the nature of the researches which led you to tho conclusion that you did not think that the Prime Minister made any such promise ?
– I have had several interviews with the Chief Reporter concerning this matter. I understand that he bases the claim that the work of the reporting staff should be virtually confined to the sessions of Parliament, and that they shall be called upon to do nothing during the recess, upon the written instructions given by the Prime Minister on the 26th March, 1901. Those instructions, do not mention the reporting of Royal Commissions, and the contention is that it is a necessary inference that, therefore, tho members of the staff should not be called upon to report Royal Commissions. That, however, is a question for consideration. As application was recently made by the Government for the services of the staff in connexion with the reporting of a Royal Commission ; the Speaker and myself have come to the conclusion that the matter should stand over until the Prime Minister returns, when it can be gone into by him.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable, senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Councilupon notice -
– The Government has no official information on the subject, but inquiry will be made, and the honorable senator’s proposal considered.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If the regulations in connexion with the Public Service Act will be laid on the table of the House before Parliament prorogues ?
– Though the regulations are in an advanced state of preparation, it will not be possible to lay them upon the table of the House before the prorogation of Parliament, as some essential information is not yet to hand.
asked theVicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned senator’s questions are as follow : - 1, 2, and 3. The debate has notyet been considered by Cabinet.
Except that Customs officers are not allowed to undertake any responsibility for the importer’s declaration of the goods, and their value or quantity, every reasonable information and assistance is given to the public.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill being passed through all its remaining stages during the same sitting of the Senate.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Connor) -
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Appropriation Bill for the year 1901-2 being passed through all its remaining stages during the Same sitting of the Senate.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Matheson) -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a return showing the name and rank of each person recently retrenched . from the permanent, partly-paid, and volunteer forces ; to whom compensation has been paid ; the amount of compensation paid toeach ; and the proportion such compensation represents of their yearly pay: also the States to which they belong.
Bill returned by the Acting GovernorGeneral with a message recommending certain verbal amendments.
Debate resumed from 7th October (vide page 16525), on motion by Senator O’connor-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I desire to say a few words with regard to one or two of the matters whichare dealt with in the schedule. As the Estimates of the Defence department have already been brought prominently under notice, and will doubtless be further commented upon, I shall not make any more than passing reference to them. I should like the YicePresident of the Executive Council to give us his assurance that there is no truth in the statement which appeared in the Melbourne newspapers this morning to the effect that it is intended to increase the price for . 303 ammunition to11s. 6d. per 100, and to charge 10s. per 100 for Martini-Henry ammunition. It would be against the expressed wish of Parliament if anything were done to discourage the members of rifle clubs from qualifying themselves as marksmen. It has been generally understood, both inside and out of Parliament, that in the future we shall have to rely very largely upon the members of rifle clubs for defence purposes. Therefore I hope that the Minister will be in the position to assure us that nothing will be done to interfere with the privileges which have hitherto been accorded to members of these clubs. Several matters which arise in connexion with the Estimates for the Department of Home Affairs call for the consideration of honorable senators. I am quite in accord with those honorable senators who have expressed the opinion that the present is not an opportune time to arrange for a tour by members of the Federal Parliament all round the continent. If any honorable member finds it convenient during the recess to visit any of the distant States, he should experience no difficulty in obtaining the necessary passes by steamer to enable him to travel free of expense. It is quite right that this facility should be offered ; but the proposal that a special steamer should be chartered to convey a parliamentary party right round the coast of Australia is most inopportune. Senator Pearce and Senator Walker were apparently enamoured of the idea, but I would remind them that all the States are not in such a good financial position as those which they represent. A large number of the electors in at least two of the States are very carefully observing the actions of this Parliament, and are very anxious that no unnecessary expense shall be incurred. Our experience during the last eighteen months has taught us that we cannot place the fullest reliance upon statements published in the daily newspapers, and I find it difficult to believe the statement that the Minister for Home Affairs really intends to charter a steamer and arrange for the trip as indicated. Such an expenditure as would be involved would be most inopportune in view of the condition of the Queensland and Tasmanian finances.
– I should prefer honorable senators to see Queensland now, rather than at a future time.
– I have as keen a desire to see the more distant States as have any other honorable senators, but judging from the experience gained during the parliamentary inspection of the pro-‘ posed sices for the federal capital, it will be extremely difficult to induce a reasonable number of honorable senators to make the journey contemplated. Only about onethird of the members of this House, and a very much smaller proportion of the members of the House of Representatives, joined in those visits of inspection. Therefore I am entirely opposed to the suggested parliamentary tour, although I think that every facility should be offered to individual members who desire to visit the distant States.
– That might be more costly and less satisfactory.
– I do not think so. I am quite satisfied, in my own mind, that if members visit the distant States singly, or in twos and threes, they will gather far more complete and satisfactory information than if they make the trip as members of a large Parliamentary party.
– Could they touch at every port if they were to rely upon the ordinary coastal steamers ?
– No ; but I do not think that is necessary.
– I think it is.
– It is reported that the Minister for Home Affairs intends to establish a club in each of the States for the use of members of the Federal Parliament during recess. I hope that this is only a rumour, because I take it that during the recess most honorable members will be only too glad to devote their attention to their private affairs, and to avoid all clubs. If the rumour is well founded, I hope that such an expression of opinion will go forth from this Chamber that the proposal will be nipped in the bud.
– The honorable senator is a Kyabramite.
– I am nothing of the kind, but I would remind the honorable senator that the State which he represents is in a much more fortunate financial position than is Tasmania. Owing to the generosity of the other States, or to their desire to bring Western Australia into the federal union, special advantages were offered to that State. Owing to that circumstance she has a comparatively large surplus, whereas under the peculiar conditions of taxation in Tasmania prior to federation that State has a large deficit. Although I do not regard that circumstance as altogether a bad thing, I recognise that great difficulties have arisen owing to the disarrangement of the finances, and that we should be careful not to unduly increase our expenditure. We are asked to approve of a definite proposal to establish a Public Works department for the Commonwealth.
I believe that any public works which may have to be carried out in connexion with the transferred departments could be as efficiently, and far more economically, designed and. supervised by the officers of the Public Works departments of the several States than by a special staff of officers employed solely by the Commonwealth, and I hope that the contemplated department will not be established, at least until Parliament has had an opportunity of considering the whole matter next session. I desire to direct attention to one or two matters in the PostmasterGeneral’s department. I find that there is a very wide difference between the rates of pay given to letter carriers in some of’ the States. In New South Wales 501 letter carriers receive an average wage of £104 per annum, or £2 per week. That, of course, is quite little enough. In Victoria, 407 letter carriers receive pay averaging £123 per annum. That is a little bit better. In Tasmania, however, 61 letter carriers receive an average wage of £90 per annum, and I am informed that they work considerably harder and for longer hours than do the letter carriers in Victoria and in New South Wales. This condition of affairs does not redound to the credit of the department, because federation has been established sufficiently long to have enabled the heads of the departments to bring about some approach to uniformity in the pay of officers performing similar work.
– They are all brought under the Public Service Act.
– Yes, but the Public Service Act is not yet. in full operation, and I think the Postmaster-General should endeavour in the meantime to rectify some of the existing anomalies. I notice, furthermore, that in some of the States provision is made for allowances to officers who are stationed in outlying localities, where living is more expensive than in more thickly populated and better favoured districts. It is quite right that these officers should be recompensed for the extra cost of living and the discomforts which they have to endure, but there should be some uniformity in the allowances made. In Western Australia the allowances represent a total expenditure of £11,145. Twelve officers receive £40 per annum, and 252 £30 per annum as gold-fields allowances. Two officers receive £60 per annum, eighteen £50 per annum, and 46 £40 per annum, as tropical allowances, and field allowances of £40 are given to six officers. In Queensland £6,500, in South Australia £680, in New South Wales £4,150, and in Victoria £101 is provided for allowances. But here again a strange anomaly is repeated, inasmuch as no climatic allowances are paid to any of the officers connected with the Post and Telegraph department in Tasmania.
– There is no tropical country in that State.
– But if Senator Smith visited some portions of Tasmania he would speedily learn that the cost of living there is very high as compared with that in other districts-. - relatively as great as is the cost of living in tropical and remote parts of other States compared with that in more favoured localities.
-Col. Neild. - Is the honorable senator referring to the increased price of blankets 1
– No; but to the cost of general provisions. The conditions of life in some portions of Tasmania compare just as unfavorably with those of other parts as do the conditions of the isolated districts of some States with those of their more favoured localities. For that reason it seems to me that the postal officials in Tasmania should be placed upon the same footing as are those of the other States.
– Are not some of these allowances intended to cover house rent and the cost of fuel 1
– No ; the special allowances referred to are outlined in the Estimates.
– In New South Wales a system of climatic allowances has been in operation for years.
– I do not suppose that the honorable senator objects to that system t
– No ; but I thought that the honorable senator did.
– Certainly not ; I merely object to penalizing the officers- of the Postal department in one particular State, by refusing to pay them climatic allowances.
– But there is no climate in Tasmania.
– I should like to bring honorable senators a sample of it. I am satisfied that they would prefer to live even in the drought-stricken regions of
Australia, rather than in localities where the rainfall aggregates 8 or 9 feet a year, and where provisions are relatively very dear. I hope that the anomalies to which I have alluded will be removed, and’ that the Postmaster-General will endeavour to do some small measure of justice to the officers of his department in Tasmania, by according them the same treatment as ‘is meted out to officials in the other States. Of course, it may be that he relies upon the Deputy Postmaster-General in each of the States ; but, if so, it seems strange that the head of the department in Tasmania has not placed matters before him in their proper, light. I trust that the Postmaster-General will investigate my complaint, and that before the Public Service Act comes into operation, the officers of his department in the State which I have the honour to represent will receive the climatic allowances to which they are entitled equally with those of other States.
– I propose to make only a few remarks in regard to these Estimates, and my observations will be more particularly directed to the expenditure in connexion with the Defence department. In passing, however, I may say that to my mind the proposed parliamentary trip round the Commonwealth might very well be delayed until the finances of the States are in a sounder condition than they are at present. Concerning, the question of defence, I would remind honorable senators that during the federal campaign there were two chief subjects which were discussed by all the candidates, including Ministers. Those subjects were the advantage which would be derived by the adoption of a uniform Tariff with its natura] corollary, the establishment of Inter-State free-trade, and the almost squally important question of the defence of a united Australia. After many months of weary work, the Parliament has at length succeeded in passing the Tariff, but up to the present time not the slightest action has been taken with a view to placing upon the statute-book an Act dealing with the defence of the Commonwealth. It is perfectly true that the Government have appointed a General Officer Commanding the Forces, and I congratulate them upon their selection. The officer who has been appointed has had considerable experience in New South Wales and Canada, and the defence force is indeed fortunate in securing his services. But, although he has now been in Australia for more than a year, we have derived very little advantage from his great experience, not because he is not able and willing to offer sound advice, or has not tendered it, but merely because no legislation has been enacted to enable the defences of the Commonwealth to be properly dealt with. This is due to the fact that the Ministry have not yet made up their minds as to what scheme of defence is required. To me that appears to be a most unsatisfactory and humiliating position for the Government to occupy. Notwithstanding that the- Commonwealth has now been established for nearly two years, so far as the important question of defence is concerned, the States are now no better off than they were before they federated. I rather incline to the belief that they are worse off. At the present time we have six distinct defence forces, which are controlled by six separate Defence Acts. The inevitable result of this condition of affairs has been to engender a state of great discontent. The forces have become disheartened, and to a considerable extent disorganized. Surely by this time the Ministry ought to have arrived at a decision as to what is needed both in the way of naval and land defence? I need scarcely say that the one hangs upon the other. Having decided upon the amount to be expended upon naval defence, there would necessarily be a certain sum available for land defence. Upon that amount the scheme for land defence will have to be based. Having made up its mind upon that question, the Ministry ought to adhere to their proposals. I admit that such a proceeding would be rather extraordinary on their part, because the one feature in connexion with their administration which has impressed me more than another is the facility with which they are prepared to waive their own opinions, and give effect to the views advanced by others. Last year the Defence Estimates were based upon the expenditure of the various States prior to the inauguration of federation. Immediately exception was taken to those Estimates, the Government offered to reduce them by £130,000. They did not pause to consider whether or not that was a reasonable reduction to make, or what effect it would have upon the defence force as a whole, but in the course of a few minutes determined that the expenditure could be reduced by the amount ‘ mentioned, and accordingly promised to undertake the task. This year the Estimates were submitted after they had been under consideration for some months, and it would have been only reasonable to expect that they would be based upon what the Ministry believed to be the requirements of the Commonwealth. But what happened % In the course of a few minutes aa suggestion was made that the Estimates of Expenditure should be reduced by £62,000. Without going into the question of whether or not that step could be taken without having an injurious effect upon the forees, Ministers adopted the suggestion, at the same time receiving a further intimation that an additional £50,000 should be taken off the Estimates next year. That is not a business-like way of dealing with this important question. I am not an advocate for a heavy expenditure in connexion with the defence forces. I believe that the expenditure could he kept within reasonable limits, and in passing I may add that I have, always been strongly averse to any portion of our defence forces being enrolled with a view to the utilization of their .services outside the borders of the Commonwealth. Whenever it is necessary to render assistance to the mother country I am satisfied that history will repeat itself, and that an abundance of volunteers will be available. I think we are all agreed that in Australia a defence force of some kind is necessary, and that we must not expend more money upon it than is absolutely required. But surely we have a right to expect that, in view of the time which has elapsed since the Defence department was transferred to the Commonwealth, the Government would have some idea of what is absolutely necessary, and would submit Estimates based upon what they believe to be the actual requirements of the Commonwealth. We have a right to assume that these Estimates, which were recently submitted for consideration in another House, were the result of the calm judgment of the Ministry. Yet, in the course of a few minutes, the Government abandoned them, and-agreed to reduce the total defence vote by £62,000 a year. We have seen in the press an intimation that a considerable portion of that reduction will have to be effected in what is commonly known as the permanent force. I am aware that there are not a few members in both Houses of this Parliament who hold the opinion that a permanent force is scarcely necessary. But I would remind honorable senators that we have already spent upon the armament, ammunition, and stores contained in the various forts of Australia between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. These forts must be maintained. They cannot be looked after by the militia or volunteers. For that reason we must maintain a certain proportion of permanent artillery. We must retain a sufficient number of these men to keep the valuable weapons and stores contained in our forts in efficient condition, because, if neglected, the guns might be comparatively useless when most needed. In most of the forts we also require to maintain a certain number of highly-trained men, who, as the result of constant drilling upon their guns, would be able to serve them at any time either in the day or night. I am aware that in some of the States a larger proportion of men are maintained than are required in cithers. In Victoria, for example, the forts are 30 miles distant from head-quarters, and therefore it is necessary to maintain a larger proportion of men per gun than would be required if the guns were mounted closer to the city, say at Port Melbourne. But at Newcastle, where the fort is practically just outside the town, it is not necessary to maintain so large a proportion of paid men, because the paid militia are close at hand, and can put in as rauch drill upon the -guns as may be deemed to be necessary. There ought to be three or four men per gun, there being forts which require that proportion in case of emergency. Other forts, such as those at Newcastle, and some of those at Sydney, are within close touch of the garrison artillery, and do not need so large a proportion of men. I cannot too strongly urge the absolute importance of not unduly cutting down this force in view of the immense amount of valuable property which requires constantly looking after. I am bound to say that I should like to see a little more drill put in by the garrison artillery. When Minister for Defence for Victoria, I insisted on the garrison artillery being used as such, and not being called upon to do a lot of outside work, which only took them away from their proper duties. I insisted on having the garrison artillery stationed at the forts, so that they might have a thorough knowledge of the forts and of the guns they had to use ; but I am sorry to say that recently the bulk of the men have been brought to Melbourne, where they cannot put in the necessary number of drills. The same remark applies to the garrison artillery at Sydney, the members of which are doing duty which soldiers should not be called upon to discharge. These soldiers are too costly for such work, and should not be employed for any but military purposes. We must look on the garrison artillery as practically the first line of land defence, and as our most highly-trained men. Behind the garrison artillery we have the paid militia. The question has been asked why we do not trust more to volunteers. In the olden time we used to have a large number of volunteers; and I was a volunteer myself, and served in the ranks for a good number of years. In those days, when fighting was all in close formation, there could be drill at night, but since the necessity for open formation has been proved, it is utterly impossible for men to learn drill except by daylight, and we cannot expect citizens to devote the daytime to such duties unless they receive some pay. That is the reason the partially-paid militia was originally organized, and such a militia should be limited in number, and form the basis of the whole of our land defences. Behind the militia come the rangers, which, with a little extra drill, might form a second line of defence. Then we have the rifle clubs, which are mainly for the purpose of teaching men to shoot. The members of the rifle clubs, in my opinion, should not be drilled, seeing that they are scattered all over the various States in small bodies - bodies too small to drill with any advantage. But, in the event of war, the members of the rifle clubs could be brought into camp, and, with a few weeks’ drill, used to bring the militia up to war strength. We know, of course, that a fairly-drilled force can be increased in number by 25 or 30 per cent, of men more or less partially drilled, especially if, the latter already are proficient in the important art of rifle shooting. Exception has been taken to the number of officers in connexion with the paid forces, but I think that those who take that exception have altogether overlooked the fact of the number of forts. These forts are scattered about, and, as every fort must be under the command of an officer, there is necessarily required a larger proportion of both commissioned and noncommissioned officers than would otherwise be the case. In passing, I may say that in Victoria there is a large number of rifle clubs ; indeed, I venture to think there is an unnecessary number, far in excess of any possible requirements in the event of attack. This, of course, causes considerable expense. If only 10,000 or 15,000 men are wanted under the greatest strain, it is of no use having- 30,000 men ; in time of peace the excess of number is an unnecessary expense, and in time of war the men cannot be used because they are not drilled, and it is not desirable that they should be drilled. On the cadets, a little money might, I think, be spent with advantage, and I am strongly of opinion that throughout the schools there should be compulsory drill. Apart altogether from the military aspect of the question, the drill is good schooling -for the youngsters, and, in addition, it presents the most economical method by which we can gradually train up a citizen army. The lads never forget the drilling, and, with inexpensive rifles and ammunition, they learn to shoot ; and all rifle shots know perfectly well that once the art of shooting is learned it is practically never forgotten. On the score of economy I strongly advise the increase of the cadet forces in all the States. I am aware that many people are of opinion that nowadays shooting is the be-all and end-all, and that drill and discipline may go by the board. We have heard and read that the South African war has conclusively proved that position ; and I have endeavoured to obtain all the information possible from the accounts given by Imperial officers, foreign officers, and colonial officers. In passing, I should like to say that we are all very glad to see Senator Cameron back amongst us looking so hale and hearty. From the information I have gathered, I arrive at the conclusion that so far from the war in South Africa having proved that only shooting is required, to the exclusion of drill and discipline, it has proved just the contrary. Never was individual drill and discipline of men been more required than it is in modern warfare. With regard to the number of officers, to which exception has been taken, we must recollect that the more open the formation and the larger the area of ground covered by the line, the greater must be the number of officers to hold the men in control. In the olden days, when we tumbled into battalions of 600 or 700 men, over which the voice could be heard with perfect ease, comparatively few officers were needed ; but now that there is open formation, covering a large extent of country, it is physically impossible for the same small number of officers to maintain control. Then exception has been taken that the Head-quarters Staff is too large, and that the State Head-quarters Staffs have not been proportionally reduced. At first sight it would appear that there is some ground for complaint, but we must bear in mind that the Head-quarters Staffs in the various States have been reduced both in number and in the rate of pay of the senior Officers. There must bea central Head-quarters Staff to govern the whole. Exactly the same position arises under federation, or in connexion with any business. We have, if I may use the expression, a head-quarters staff in our Federal Government, but there must also be the Governments in the various States. In time the number of States Ministers may be reduced, but we cannot wipe out the Head-quarters Staffs of the various States, and depend solely on the Federal Head-quarters Staff. There must in each of the States be a complete self-contained ‘force, and also a central Headquarters Staff, the latter of which forms, I may say, the brains of the army. I should like to refer to the statements made last night by Senator Matheson. We all listened to that honorable senator’s array of figures with a great deal of interest, and some of us may have listened to them with some little surprise. Senator Matheson was exceedingly critical, and his figures certainly appeared to be somewhat conclusive ; but I am bound to say that I felt that the honorable senator presented an illustration of a “little learning” being a “dangerous thing.”
– That is a very unkind cut!
– I believe that what I say is true, and I shall show honorable senators my reasons ibr arriving at that conclusion. It is not everybody who has the opportunity of paying close attention to military matters, and it is no discredit to Senator Matheson that he is not possessed of technical knowledge. That honorable senator dealt with the supply of ammunition, and compared the decreased amount paid for ammunition this year with the amount paid last year. By very little inquiry the honorable senator could have ascertained that, as a matter of fact, the expenditure on ammunition prior to federation, and in anticipation of federation, was very large. Not merely in the Defence department, but in other departments, there seemed to be an idea that provided the money were spent before federation, the Commonwealth and not the States would have to pay it, people forgetting that ultimately the States must meet the expenditure. In New South Wales and Victoria, very heavy orders for ammunition were sent home, and the consequence was that at the commencement of federation the supply, on order and in hand, was very heavy. I am in a position to state that the reserve of ammunition is sufficient to meet full requirement - that not only has there been sufficient for this year, but sufficient to meet requirements even supposing the establishments were up to their full strength, which they are not and will not be. Therefore, the amount voted this year will not only not trench on reserves to the slightest extent, but will leave a surplus for next year. That is the exact position, and it is just as well, in the face of the lengthy statement of Senator Matheson, that honorable senators should know that what I am stating is authoritative and presents the absolute facts of the case. There is a full quantity of ammunition, both for heavy and small arms, to meet the requirements of the Imperial regulations - a supply ample, and more than ample, for all possible requirements. I am aware that there ought to be other expenditure, more particularly in the direction of heavy guns, most of our forts requiring, to a considerable extent, rearmament. Many of the guns in the Victorian forts are obsolete. These guns were not, of course, obsolete eighteen or twenty years ago, but they now want replacing with modern guns. The same remark applies to small arms and also to field guns, a larger supply of quickfiring guns than is ordered or provided for, being required. This expenditure to a large extent ought not to be met out of annual revenue, but out of loans.. It is not fair to charge the present generation with expenditure on arms that will last ten- or fifteen years ; and the amount might very fairly be taken out of loans .to be recouped by some kind of sinking fund.
– But will the new guns riot become obsolete in fifteen years ?
– What I say is, that the expenditure should be spread over a period of, say, fifteen years. Another matter I wish to touch on is that of naval defence. What is wanted, us I mentioned before, is that the Government should come to some final decision as to what our defence should be. First of all, it should be decided what amount we are going to spend on naval defence, which is necessarily our first line of defence. Having arrived at that amount, we should then ascertain what remains for land defence. One line of-defence is of no use without the other, but we must bear in mind that naval defence is necessarily always our first line. I am aware that exception has been taken to the proposal to increase our subsidy to the auxiliary squadron. I think the arrangement made some fifteen years ago with the Imperial Government by which we obtained, at a cost of £106,000 per annum, the presence of a squadron on the Australian station was the best bargain that the States ever secured. The Imperial Government have acted most liberally in the matter. They have not adhered to the strict letter of the agreement ; they have given us a very much better and more expensive class of vessels than we contracted to obtain, and they have not asked us to pay one cent more. These ships are now practically effete, and require to be replaced by more modern vessels of larger size and better armament. How can we effect that change? We cannot afford to pay for the construction of new ships to take the place of the present fleet, and I venture to think that it would be a very unwise thing to do anything of the kind. At the end of another ten or fifteen years the new vessels would themselves be obsolete. What, then, would be our position ? No Ministry would be prepared to face the expenditure required to replace them by more modern vessels, and the result would be that we should continue for many years to put up with obsolete ships of war and weapons. Would that be better than our present arrangement? Under the existing system, we enter into an agreement for ten years with the Imperial Government to supply up-to-date ships of war for the Australian station, and at the end of that time we are perfectly free to enter into another arrangement to secure modern ships and arms.
– We do not possess a chain, an anchor, or a mast.
– I am thankful to say that we do not possess a chain, an anchor, or. a mast of an obsolete character.
– We do not possess one of any kind.
– It is a good thing that our defences are not hampered with practically, useless material. It is said that we have spent this year a large sum of money, and have nothing to show for it. I believe that assertion was made by Senator Matheson. But I have always looked upon our defence expenditure as a mattter of insurance. We desire to make that insurance as efficient as possible, and to obtain it as economically as we can. I wonder what Senator Matheson would say if I were to ask him whether the position of the Commonwealth in this respect is not exactly the same as that of a merchant who has for a number of years paid fire insurance premiums, but has never suffered loss by fire. Such a merchant has nothing to show for his payments, but during all the years covered by his premiums he has been protected against loss by fire. Fortunately, we have not been attacked ; but like the merchant who has insured against loss by fire but has never had a fire, we have had full value for our money. I am desirous of seeing the present arrangement continued, believing that it will be found to be the most economical. It would be idle to expect the Imperial Government to hire modern war vessels to us, as suggested by Senator Matheson, except at a price that would really be prohibitive. In connexion with the auxiliary squadron, I should like to see carried out the scheme which the late Admiral Tryon almost perfected, and would have completed had he lived. Under that scheme, it was proposed that the vessels of the squadron should be manned by our own men. I discussed the subject on many occasions with the late Admiral Tryon, and as a matter of fact, the draft of his scheme was prepared while he was here. There was certainly a difficulty in regard to the varying rates of colonial pay as compared with the Imperial pay, but he did not anticipate that there -would be, in the long run, any trouble in overcoming it. One great obstacle in the way of the acceptance of the scheme related to the status of the officers who would be employed upon the vessels. It was pointed out that they would not be Imperial officers, and that it would be difficult to entrust an Imperial ship to colonial officers. Admiral Tryon considered, however, that it would be possible to overcome even that difficulty. Although the day will come when we shall probably have a navy of our own, I hope that we shall not rush into any proposal to lay the foundation of that service for the Commonwealth, It has been urged that the auxiliary squadron would leave Australian waters in time of war. I am very thankful to say that it would certainly do so. The Admiral on the station, when giving evidence before a committee, said that notwithstanding the existing arrangement he would not hesitate in time of war to take the vessels of the squadron out of Australian waters, believing that the very best defence of Australia would be to attack the enemy in another quarter - say in the China Sea. We should keep the war as -far as possible from our own shores. Do not let us fritter away our strength by keeping on the Australian coast a small squadron which might be annihilated by a larger one, but which, combined with an Imperial fleet, would be quite sufficient to ward off an attack. We have only to look to the ChinaJapanese war in order to see what would be the result of keeping a small independent squadron here. The Chinese had different fleets belonging to different provinces, but not one of the Viceroys would allow his fleet to leave the coastline of his own province. The result was that the Japanese ships destroyed them one after another. Had the fleets of the provinces combined, the result of the war might not have been changed, but the progress of it’ would certainly have been different. I listened with no little astonishment to the interpretation placed by Senator Matheson upon Captain Mohan’s works on this subject. ‘ No one would have been more surprised than Captain Mahan had he been present to hear Senator Matheson’s interpretation of his works. It was utterly at variance with the very first principle that Captain Mahan has laid .clown, namely - “ Do not wait for your enemy, but go out and find him, and smash him.” That is a common-sense principle, and it is one which the British fleets have invariably followed. In times of war a British fleet does not remain in British waters until attacked. It goes out to seek the enemy, and whereever an enemy’s vessel appears, there our vessels heave in sight. It is urged that an enemy’s ship might occasionally escape the vigilance of the British fleet, and attack our’ commerce. Such a thing might happen, but we know that in the event of war every ship belonging to the enemy is shadowed. We know that, only a few years ago, comparatively speaking, every vessel of a possible opponent in the China seas was shadowed. But, assuming that a few of an enemy’s vessels did escape and attack our shipping, the loss would be a mere bagatelle. If honorable senators will take the trouble of ascertaining the losses in connexion with any recent naval war, they will find that, so far as the commercial shipping losses were concerned, the percentage was a mere bagatelle. In the worst circumstances it amounted to only about 2£ per cent. It has been mentioned that the *Alabama played havoc with Federal shipping during the American civil war. To a certain extent she did ; but what was the reason 1 The United States navy was hardly in existence ; it was a very small affair, and consequently the Alabama was able to dodge about and harass the United States shipping. Nowadays, there is a difficulty in the way of attack by isolated vessels, and that is that they can cany only a certain amount of coal and ammunition. Once their supply has been exhausted, where are they to obtain fresh supplies ? Judging from past experience, and from the writings of those who are experts* on the subject, I do not think that we need have the slightest fear of any serious loss from attacks by isolated vessels. I hope that for some years to come the Commonwealth will not think of attempting to incur the great and useless expenditure involved in the building up of an Australian navy. The time will come when we shall probably ha ve anavy of our own, but, in the meantime, let us obtain what we require in the most efficient and economical way. I hope that an end will be put to the present very unsatisfactory position in regard to our defences. I repeat that it is not creditable to the Government. The matter is too important to be trifled with; we are simply wasting the time, the energy, and the good-will of our men ; and we are not obtaining that which we have a right to expect. One of the first measures to be dealt with next session should certainly be a Defence Bill based upon sound lines. The Bill should recognise that we cannot have a standing army, and that we do not want our forces to be removable beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth. But it should also recognise that we do require a certain number of permanent troops to look after our forts and stores, and that we must have a certain proportion of paid militia as the backbone of that force, with the rangers and the rifle clubs behind them. Behind those forces, again, we should have the cadets gradually growing up. Let that principle be carried out, and we shall soon have a satisfactory force - one that will do credit to the Commonwealth, and one in which its people will be able to take a just pride.
– The Senate this week has to deal with Appropriation Bills for two years, and with another measure, which may be called an additional Appropriation Bill, for the current financial year. This week we have our only opportunity to consider the finances of Australia. Certainly we have had hitherto no opportunity offered by the Government, and, from the words with which Senator O’Connor introduced this Bill, it is evident that the Ministry do not desire to encourage the Senate to enter upon a general discussion of the finances of the Commonwealth. Senator O’Connor introduced the Appropriation Bill for the current financial year in one of the briefest’ speeches with which he has ever introduced any matter to the Senate, and he appears to consider that we have very little to do but to follow his example and speedily to agree to the proposed expenditure. I have on one or two occasions dealt at some length with the Customs administration, but as this Appropriation Bill provides for an expenditure of about £250,000 upon that department, I am justified in taking advantage of the present opportunity to again draw attention to this very important matter. Although some light has been thrown upon it - although honoraNe senators are a little better seized of the facts of the case - there is still much for them to learn. Judging from the reply given by Senator O’Connor to a question asked this afternoon by Senator Dobson, and. reading between the lines, I believe that the Government intend practically to do nothing. What they seem to say is this - “In a few days the session will be over. All we have to do is to sit tight and take no notice of these fellows ! We must’ treat them with the necessary amount of bluff, and then when Parliament has gone into recess the matter will be wholly in our hands, and we shall be able to do what we like.” I do not think the Government are to be congratulated upon their obstinacy in relation to matters in which they are clearly in error. During their career the Government have given up a good many matters, and they might with advantage make some satisfactory arrangement in regard to the administration of this department. I propose to draw attention to two or three matters relating to it, quite apart from the question of the prosecutions. In the first place, we are told that the great anxiety of the Minister for Trade and Customs is to protect the revenue. The right honorable gentleman is anxious that there should be no leakage of revenue, and that every trader should be made to pay to the very last farthing the duty which the uniform Tariff has imposed upon the goods which he imports. This being the ease, I should like to draw the attention of the Senate to the position of goods subject to excise. According to section 24 of the Excise Act -
Excisable goods and goods liable to Customs may, in prescribed cases and subject to the prescribed conditions, be delivered free of duty or subject to such lower duty as may be proscribed, for use in the manufacture of excisable goods.
I venture to say that there is no member of the Senate who anticipated that that section would be administered in the way in which it has been in connexion with the remission of duties upon goods used in the manufacture of tobacco and cigars. Some time ago a notice appeared that certain articles might be delivered to tobacco manufacturers free of duty. I asked, in the first place, under what authority this was done, and I was referred to the Excise Act. Then -I asked for an estimate of the amount of goods which were being so delivered. To that question Senator O’Connor replied on the 24th September last. Certainly I did not know that tobacco was so complex an article as it is shown to be by the reply to my question. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in answer to the question, gave an estimate of the average quantity of the goods used monthly. I propose to give these quantities multiplied by twelve, to show the yearly consumption, and T propose in some cases to give the duties from which these goods are held to be exempt. I. take, in the first place, sugar, and it appears that tobacco manufacturers are allowed to import sugar to the extent of 106½ tons every year free of duty, and they thus secure a remission of duty to the extent of £639. The next article is liquorice, and I find that annually 262,404 lbs. of liquorice are used. Under the Tariff this article is subject to two rates of duty,1d. per lb. for crude and 2d. per lb. for refined liquorice. Assuming that it is the crude liquorice that is used by tobacco manufacturers, as I imagine it to be, granting them the use of this article free is equivalent to a remission of £1,093 of duty. Then 12 tons of glucose are used by tobacco manufacturers in a year to improve their tobacco, and this at £S per ton involves a remission of duty to the extent of £96. Then the manufacturers are allowed to have the use of 93 tons of glycerine free of duty each year. I am not sure what the duty upon glycerine is, but on 93 tons it would probably come to something considerable Then 504 gallons of essential oil are used by tobacco manufacturers free of duty, and 384 gallons of flavouring essences. Then they are given tin tags, the little things which we see hammered into plugs of tobacco, to the extent of 24 tons annually. It is noteworthy that in the Customs Tariff, when tobacco is imported we take care that the duty is paid upon the weight, including tags and any other attachment. I do not know what is the duty upon these tags, because I have not been able to find out the heading under which they are imported, but I have no doubt there is a considerable sum remitted upon the 24 tons of tin tags used. Then they get free something over a ton of starch, . which at 2d per lb. represents a remission of duty to the extent of £20. They are also allowed the free use of cigarette papers to the value of £2,052 annually. Then they are allowedfvee of duty 60,756 lbs. of spices, which at 2d. per lb. represents £506 of duty remitted. There is a small quantity of vaseline and one or two other items also used, and upon which no duty is charged, and then -we come to the item of spirits. It seems that tobacco manufacturers use considerable quantities of spirits in the manufacture of tobacco, and they obtain spirits free of duty to the extent of 15,366 gallons in each year, which at 14s. per gallon amounts to no”less than £10,756. The position, therefore, is that the manufacturers of tobacco receive free of duty these articles which they use in its manufacture, and the total duty so remitted to them is about £15,000. Honorable senators will know that the excise duty on tobacco is ls. per lb. When Senator O’Connor gave his reply to my question, he said -
It should be remembered that the extra weight given to the tobacco by the use of these goods is included in the weight for excise duty.
That is a very simple thing to tell us. We know that whatever is in the tobacco when it pays excise duty, the duty is levied upon the weight. A ton of tobacco at1s. per lb. of course pays excise duty to the extent of- £112, whereas the import duty upon manufactured tobacco, at 3s. 3d. per lb., amounts to £364, so that between the excise and import duty there is a difference of £252. Of course, the tobacco manufacturers use a certain quantity of imported tobacco. If we had not fixed this duty under the Act, and stated that it must be levied on leaf delivered to the manufacturers, it would have been in the power of the Czar of the Custom-house to have ordered all leaf tobacco to be delivered to the manufacturers free of duty. Parliament agreed that tobacco manufacturers should have a substantial protection, and I think what Parliament expected was this : - There is a Customs duty of ls. 6d. per lb. on imported leaf, and an excise duty of ls. per lb. upon the locally-manufactured article, and it was expected that the two duties would be paid. That is to say,1s. 6d. and1s., making 2s. 6d. per lb. upon the locallymanufactured article, as against 3s. 3d. paidby importers upon imported manufactured tobacco, leaving a protection of 9d. per. lb., which upon a ton would, of course, amount to £84. Honorable senators will see that the less imported leaf tobacco used the smaller the amount of revenue obtained, and the greater the margin which tobacco manufacturers obtain. How much margin beyond that which Parliament intended to grant are we to allow the Minister for Trade and Customs to give to the manufacturers ? Are we to be blinded by what the honorable and learned gentleman says as to his great anxiety to protect the revenue when we find him without any necessity giving away thousands of pounds to this trade in the manner he has done ? Adding up the total weight of the various items to which I have referred, I find that they come to 989,764 lbs. This is the quantity of the various articles put into locally manufactured tobacco and cigars. If leaf tobacco were imported to that extent the Customs would have obtained £73,732 of duty. But they did not obtain that sum, and the Minister for Trade and Customs is not willing even to accept the £15,000 which he might have had upon the articles which are used to mix with tobacco - I do not know whether to adulterate or to improve it. So much for the way in which the Minister deals with the question when revenue is really at stake. Now, I should like to draw attention to another matter of Customs administration to show the way in which affairs are being managed in the department. A few days ago notice appeared in the newspapers of a regulation or order touching the valuation of imports, which was worded in this way - “ Ten per cent, is to be added in every case to tho fair market value of goods (whether ad valorem, rated, or free), in the principal markets of the country of export.”
Now, what does this mean? We know the system with regard to ad valorem goods. We know that 10 per cent. ‘must be added in lieu of freight. Ten per cent, all the world over where ad valorem duties are imposed is accepted as a fair equivalent of the addition to value which freight would represent, but the position is very different in regard to articles liable to specific duty, and those which come in free. If this order is carried out, the consequence will be that the import and export returns of Australia will be affected by millions, and will become less reliable and trustworthy as a guide to the financial position of Australia than they otherwise would be. This will be seen at once when I draw attention” to the fact that articles like timber, salt, and so on, cost somewhere about 100 per cent, in the matter of freight to import. For instance, we might buy to-day in England a cargo of 2,000 tons of salt at 15s. per ton. That would cost £1,500. But I imagine that to bring it out here it would very likely cost £2,000 in freight. The ordinary usage in dealing with Customs statistics would be to enter that cargo at £3,500, the amount it has cost the importer. But under this edict of the Czar, the salt would be ordered to be entered at the Customs at £1,650, and to that extent on one cargo of that kind the Customs returns will be made less trustworthy. Let me draw attention to another matter in which Customs administration is at fault. In the papers which have been distributed by the Treasurer, we have four or five sheets giving the values of the imports and exports of Australia. I think everybody knows that the moment federation took place all political boundaries between the various States for Customs purposes were swept aside, and there can be no imports except those oversea. But instead of recognising that, the Customs authorities are still preparing import and export returns in the old fashion, and are styling goods which are merely passed from State to State as imports and exports. The Vice-President of the Executive Council will remember that when the Commonwealth Constitution Bill was being prepared, I wrote a letter to the drafting committee with reference to a certain clause which spoke of goods being exported or imported “from State to State.” I pointed out that this was not a case of goods being imported or exported, but was merely a passing of goods internally. The wording of the clause in question was altered on my representation to read “ Goods passed from State to State.” Now the Customs authorities ignore that, and give us the returns drawn up in the old-fashioned way, including with the imports from oversea the goods that pass from State to State. I mention that as another instance of a remarkable absence of skill in the management of the Custom-house. Now I come to the question of prosecutions. I told the Senate a fortnight ago that the business done in the Custom-house ‘now was exceedingly heavy. I have obtained some information on this point, which I will give with a view of enabling honorable senators to see the immensity of the business that is done, and consequently the ease with which mistakes may occur. In the Custom-house, Sydney, during six months of this year, there has been a daily average of 443 duty entries passed. That is for five days of the week. On Saturday the number is about onehalf. Then there have been 70 entries for bonding, 230 entries of free imports, and 350 entries of exports : or a total of 1,090 sets of entries passing through the Customhouse per day, Saturdays excepted, when the number is about one-half. It must be remembered that one of these duty entries may contain ten or more items which are dutiable. One may, indeed, have enumerated in it perhaps 50 or 100 or more different lines of imports. Honorable senators will see, therefore, that, the possibility of. mistake in any one entry is remarkably great. It should be borne in mind that the adoption of our present Customs system has increased the expenditure of the mercantile community to a very large amount. I believe I am quite within the mark in saying that the merchants of Sydney to-day are paying at least an extra £10,000 per year in doing their Customs work on account of extra clerks and extra Custom-house agencies.
– Who gets the benefit of that?
– No one gets the benefit of it, except the clerks who are employed.
– Surely the clerks are benefited ?
– This extra expenditure has to be added to the cost of thegoods. Surely, the honorable and learned senator is not so low down in his elementary knowledge of economics that he is not aware that additions to expenditure have to be added to the value of the goods, and that the whole of these expenses must ultimately be borne by the consumer. Yesterday a return was presented to the Senate giving the number of Customs prosecutions, but owing, I suppose, to a fault in the way I worded my question, the return included only the number of prosecutions for false entries. The total number here mentioned is 36, but I can assure the Senate that the Customs prosecutions are very much in excess of that number. The Customs Act permits prosecutions under other headings also - for alleged false statements, and so on. The total for New South Wales is given as twelve; but in one single day, to which I referred only last week, there were ten prosecutions in Sydney. If the maximum fines had been imposed, the amount paid by the defendants would have been £3,600. But the total sum collected in this way was £247, showing, that in the great majority of cases the magistrates had put the fine at the very lowest farthing which the law allowed. I will give the Senate some information as to the nature of some of these cases. I have a letter from Mr. Robert Craig, trading under the firm-name of Prescott and Company, and I will read what he says : -
We imported about 200 boxes of butter from New Zealand, and sold . 100 boxes to go to a firm in Brisbane. The shipment was made on a
Saturday, and our shipping clerk, to have his documents all completed and sent forward on that day (in the absence of our Customs clerk) wrote out an Inter-State certificate, but unfortunately wrote it out on the wrong form, and it went through as if this butter were the produce of New South Wales. We knew absolutely nothing whatever about this until the buyer in Brisbane wired us down to say that the InterState certificate was incorrect. We immediately looked into the matter, found out the mistake that had been made, and put a correct certificate through the Customs. There could be no question of fraud in this instance, as we, ourselves, had paid the 3d. per lb. duty on this butter. The Collector of Customs called upon us for an explanation, which we made as above, and heard nothing further after that for three or four weeks, when an officer of the Customs called and served each individual partner with a summons. It was our intention to enter a defence when the case came on, but after spending about two hours and a half at the Water Police Court listening to various cases, criminal and otherwise, and’ seeing no prospecu of our case being brought on within areasonable time, we decided to plead guilty, and were fined £o, with as. 6d. costs.
There is a case in which there is not one scintilla of fraud. There was no suspicion of fraud. The only thing that happened was that some trouble arose under the book-keeping system. The whole of the duty was paid. The error made in the Inter-State certificate, if it had not been discovered, would merely have prevented the duty that had been paid being credited to Queensland. That was the only thing that could have happened. Everybody will see that only a simple clerical error was made. The butter-boxes were branded “New Zealand,” and it was transparent, the moment the goods were landed on the quay at Brisbane, that the butter was NewZealand produce. It was the simplest thing in the world to get the Inter-State certificate corrected. But, instead of that, what did the Customs authorities do? Tbey served summonses on the members of the firm charging them with fraud, brought them before a police magistrate and had them convicted. That is the term - they were convicted of a falsification of entries, and were fined £5. How can any member of the Government have the face in this Senate, or in the House of Representatives, to stand up and say that they are working simply and solely for the protection of the revenue, when they commit an action so outrageous and scandalous as this ? I do not know any man who would stand up more fearlessly and resolutely in defence of his own honour than would my honorable and learned friend Senator O’Connor ; and we should all feel that he was justified in doing soif any one stated that he had falsified any statement, and he had been dragged up to a police court. I claim that we may reasonably expect from a man in his position that he, as an important member of this Government, will do what justice calls for, and take some steps to prevent a recurrence of these grave and scandalous proceedings. I should like also to remind the Senate that when the Customs Bill was passing through this House the gravity of the clauses which we were asked to pass was shown, and Senator O’Connor told the Senate that this was a case in which special laws must be passed. What did he add? He said - “ We want something that we can hold in terrorem over evil-doers. We do not wish to bring this law into operation on any paltry excuse, but we want power to deal with those who may attempt to defraud the revenue.” The second case, which affected the firm I have mentioned, was as follows : -
On the 29th July we imported viâ Melbourne 34 cases of New Zealand cheese, these being purchased from Melbourne house. The specification and S/R were handed to our Customs clerk along with other documents in reference to various shipments, and he, not knowing that these were New Zealand cheese, and simply . seeing the Melbourne S/R had nothing on the invoice to indicate that the cheese came from New Zealand, passed these cheese unwittingly as Victorian produce. The mistake was all the more likely to occur, as We had been for some time previously importing Victorian cheese. Of course there was no InterState certificate with the Melbourne documents, and our clerk, concluding that this would follow on (as is very oftenthe case) by a later mail, to get delivery of the cheese, passed a guarantee, this guarantee reading as follows : - “ To the Collector of Customs, Sydney. “Dear Sir, “ In the absence of the Inter-State certificate for 34 cases of cheese, per s. s. Aramac, from Melbourne, if you will be good enough to pass entries, we guarantee to produce same within fourteen days or to pay all duty if called upon.”
On checking over his entries the same evening, just after the Customs had closed, our clerk found, out his mistake, and went to the Customhouse first thing next morning to rectify the error and pay the duty. This he was not allowed to do, and the collector gave instructions for the cheese to be taken possession by the Customs authorities, and put in their special bond. The next day we received a letter from the Collector of Customs, stating that it had been brought under his notice that 34 cases of cheese, imported by us, and entered as free, were properly dutiable at the rate of 3d. per lb., being produce of New Zealand, and asking us for an explanation. This explanation we gave ; and after waiting for over a fortnight and having no reply, we endeavoured again to pay duty and get delivery of the cheese. In the meantime, they were deteriorating very much in value. We could get no satisfaction in Sydney, so sent full particulars to Melbourne to Mr. Dugald Thomson, M.H.R,, asking him to kindly interview Mr. Kingston in regard to the matter, and put all the papers before him. This Mr. Thomson kindly did, and about a week after we were rung up by the Inspector of Customs to say that we could now get the cheese by paying duty and signing a guarantee. We asked what the guarantee was, and he said we had better come to the Custom-house and find out. We found that the guarantee was calling upon us to pay up the value of the cheese, the duty, and whatever fines were imposed upon us if called upon. This we signed, and heard nothing about the matter for a few weeks longer, when we were again visited by an officer of the Customs, and each individual partner was served with a summons. The case came on last week at the Water Police Court, and we pleaded guilt3’, and were fined £5, with 10s. 6d. expenses, in the usual way.
In neither case could the Customs have been defrauded of any revenue whatever. In the latter case we called their attention to the mistake, and, at any rate, any Customs officer could see that they were New Zealand, cheese, as they were so branded. The mistakes in both instances were simple mistakes that willoccur from time to time in aiy office where a considerable number of entries are being passed.
I come now to a different matter. A company of agents - the Fuller Carrying Company - were instructed to pass entries for a. shipment of drapery. The invoice for the goods covered 22 pages, and the Customs entry was, therefore, an elaborate one. In it two errors w.ere made, through which 23s. 9d. too rauch was paid to the Customs in respect of one item, and 15s. 5d. too little in respect of another, the net result being that8s. 4d. more was paid than should have been paid. That information was given to me in Sydney, but since my return to Melbourne I have received a telegram from the agents saying that the difference is really 7s.11d. ; and I want to be exact in these matters.
– Is the honorable senator in order in going into these details on the question before the Senate ?
– The full, discussion of all matters in any way affected by the provisions of an Appropriation Bill, and even of a Supply Bill, has been sanctioned, I believe unanimously, by honorable senators, and therefore I rule that Senator Pulsford is in order.
– In the case to which I refer, the charge of falsification was made against those concerned, and they were fined £5, with costs. What an absurdity it is that persons who have paid the Government more than they were bound to pay should be placed in the position of thieves who had tried to defraud the Government of revenue due to it ! The other night, as I was coming here with the honorable member for Wentworth, who is a partner in the firm of Macarthur and Co., he told me that his firm had twice been fined, and. on one occasion under precisely similar circumstances to those which I have just detailed, two mistakes having been made in an entry, the net result of which was that the Customs department was overpaid. The firm of Farmer and Co. is an important Sydney house, and passes entries, I suppose, nearly every day. On the 9th July it passed an entry for a bale of rugs. I have here a copy of the entry, and of the statement of value or invoice which was sent in with it. What is known as the slip reads- “One bale of rugs, value £37 4s. 6d.” The clerk, in making the entry, transposed the figures, and made the amount £34 7s. 6d., which reduced the duty by about 9s. As the slip which I have read was handed in with the entry, the mistake was an obvious one, and there was not the remotest attempt to defraud the department ; but the firm was, nevertheless, dragged before the police court ‘ and fined £5, and costs. Senator Playford, when dealing with the Customs Bill last year, said that cases like these would not come before the court, but would be settled by the Minister. Experience has proved that he was incorrect. In my opinion they ought not even to go to the Minister. Forty years ago I was engaged in passing Customs entries in England, and when I made a mistake, the examining clerk who discovered it would hand the document back to me, and I would correct it. It was not until our Customs Act was passed that I heardof cases such as I have mentioned being dealt with in the way I have described. In another case the firm of Muston and Sons received some packages of samples from abroad, for which they were charged nothing, and of the contents of which they had only meagre information in a written memorandum received by post. Amongst the articles sent were some cigars, the quantity and weight of which were unknown, but as the firm were not charged for them, they did not consider them worth very much. The memorandum describing the contents of the packages was taken to the Custom-house and stamped, and the deposition of the Customs official is that the firm’s clerk told him that there were some cigars in the packages, but that he could not say how many. Believing that the goods were samples, and of no commercial value, the clerk considered himself justified in entering them as free goods, but when they were landed they were found to contain 5 lbs. of cigars, upon which the duty was about £2. The firm was therefore summoned, and the concluding sheet of the depositions in the case contains this statement -
The defendant is convicted, and is fined £5.
What a record to be placed against the name of innocent commercial men ! When this matter was being debated last week, Senator Gould drew attention to the fact that a conviction such as I have just described might materially damage a man when giving evidence on some later occasion. He might then be asked - “Are you the Mr. So-and-so who on such and such a date was convicted of falsification ? “ He would, of course, have to say “Yes,” and such an admission’ would materially weaken his evidence. I have heard of a case of that kind in Sydney. Many years ago some foolish law was in force in New South Wales under which a man might be fined or imprisoned, and a well-known Sydney man, named Michael Metcalf, now deceased, was convicted under its provisions, and, being too indignant to pay a fine, elected to go to gaol. Thirty years later he was giving evidence in a court of justice, and was asked - “Are you the Michael Metcalf who on such and such a date was convicted and imprisoned?” and he had to say “Yes.” What a scandalous injustice that was ! The legislation of the Commonwealth was to have been high-toned, strong, and efficient, and its administration honest and able; yet those are the kind of things which are happening under the regime of the Barton Government. I ask the Senate to insist upon these things being prevented. All we ask is that there shall be no criminal prosecution in cases of obvious mistakes without intention to defraud. Has not every man a right to ask that ? Are we to continue to permit persons to be dragged up to the police courts and charged with fraud, and represented as criminals when there is no tinge of fraud in their conduct? Do not honorable senators see that when cases of real fraud occur the consequences are to a certain extent mitigated if it may be presumed that they are cases of mere error only. If it is only for the punishment of those who are really guilty, it is necessary that something should be done, and we ask, nay, we demand, in the name of justice, that it shall be done.
-What can we do?
– We can insist before we adjourn that the Government shall give us a promise that criminal prosecutions shall not be instituted where no moral wrong has been done.
– Hear, hear. If the honorable senator moves in that direction, I shall support him.
– It is very significant that, according to the return laid upon the table yesterday,Victoria has furnished the largest number of prosecutions under the Customs Act. I imagine that this arises from the fact that the merchants of Victoria have been accustomed to certain usages, and that now that a new King has arisen, and new methods are being adopted, they have fallen into errors which they would otherwise have escaped. A Melbourne firm, from which I have received a letter, complain very bitterly regarding the maladministration of the Customs. They say that the Customs officers, who formerly used to help them in passing their entries, are now debarred from doing so, and are afraid to render the least assistance. I hope that the Yice-President of the Executive Council, when he is replying, will give us a promise that there shall be no criminal prosecutions where no fraudulent intent is disclosed. I have a considerable-number of notes in regard to many matters upon which I might speak, but as I have already occupied a considerable time I shall conclude my remarks for the present, reserving to myself the right to refer in committee to certain matters upon which I feel compelled to speak.
– I shall not detain the Senate beyond a few minutes. I regret that Senator Sargood is not present, because I desire to convey to him my admiration’ of his very able speech. The honorable senator made some reference to our procuring for defence purposes vessels which might very soon become obsolete. We have had some experience of this in Victoria. About twenty years ago we purchased two gun-boats, and within a short time discovered that they were utterly useless. We sold them to other Governments, and I believe one of them is being used for towing mud barges. The guns were taken out of the boats, and one is mounted in the Ballarat; Botanical Gardens as a sort of ornament. I do not know where the others are. The experience of Victoria in regard to these vessels bears out the statementof Senator Sargood . that we might very easily be encumbered with a lot of useless vessels. The Victorian defence ship Cerberus is not obsolete so far as her machinery and hull are concerned, but her guns are entirely out of date, and I am surprised that the Government have not considered the advisability of supplying her with four 6-in. breechloading guns, in lieu of those which at present form her armament. I am told that if the Cerberus were armed in the way I have indicated, she would be more than a match for any single vessel that is likely to enter Port Phillip Heads. As this change would involve an outlay of only about £20,000, the expenditure might very well be incurred for the protection of a port like Melbourne.
-Col. Gould. - How old is the Cerberus?
– Perhaps 30 years. She is a floating battery rather than a warship. When she is in fighting trim she has scarcely any freeboard, and very little except her towers show above the waterline. I approve of the encouragement of rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth. We might very easily raise 100,000 young men in Australia, who, with a very little practice, could shoot straight and often - and that is one of the arts of war. I do not attach so very much importance to the opinions of experts in this matter. I have a clear recollection of the fact that three years ago the best experts of the British War-office told us that they did not want mounted troops, but required infantry for South Africa. It was found afterwards, however, that they did require mountedtroops and not infantry. So much for the best expert opinion that . could be procured in Great Britain.
– There was a reason for that.
– I am not an expert, and I am only stating that of which I have a clear recollection. We have heard a good deal from Senator Sargood about our first line of defence. No doubt ships of war would be our first line of defence, and, that being so, it seems desirable that we should train our own men to work the vessels. What better men could we have for this purpose than the naval brigades in the various States 1 They are all hard-working men, and are therefore wiry, powerful, and sound in wind and limb. At one time we had nearly 400 of these men in Victoria, but the number is now reduced to 152. Formerly £1 2 per annum, which was known as a retainer, was paid to them if they went through so many drills in the course of a year. Now they are being paid only £8 10s. per annum, and T believe that is the rate of remuneration they received just before federation. The present rate of pay is not high enough to induce a large number of good men to join the brigade, but if the grant were raised to £10 or £11 per annum, and this amount would not be too much, we should be able to secure hundreds of men who would be admirably adapted for carrying out the work connected with our first line of defence These men are both sailors and landsmen. They are seamen, and would be able to man our ships if necessary, and they are also efficient in the use of the rifle. When they compete at the rifle ranges - and I say it without any disparagement of our military forces - they are fully able to hold their own, and have in some cases demonstrated their superiority. They are capable of performing work on board ship, which it would be beyond any landsman to carry out, and it would be difficult to find a more useful lot of men ashore. It would be well for us, therefore, to pay a little more attention to this branch of our service. T find that in New South Wales the naval brigade has been increased in numbers from 361 to 440. This addition of 79 men lis one of which I thoroughly approve.
-Col. Neild. - The naval brigade has been increased, but the naval artillery volunteers have been wiped out.
– I am speaking only of the naval brigade, which is composed of men who get their living by. hard manual work. I should not have objected to see the force in New South Wales increased by 200 or 300 men, but provision should also have been made for some addition to the forces in Victoria, where there has been no increase. One rather peculiar feature of the New South Wales Naval Brigade is that of the 440 men 26 are bandsmen. J
– We cannot have a military band with less than that number of performers.
– We have no band in connexion with the naval brigade in Victoria. Only £50, or one-fifth of the amount appropriated for the band in New South Wales, is provided for the payment of the bandsmen in Victoria. Judging by the experience in ‘New South Wales, this would suffice for the payment of only five bandsmen, and as an expert has told us that we cannot have a military band of less than 26 performers, I presume that five bandsmen would be utterly useless. Surely 26 bandsmen are not required to lead the way for 414 members of the naval brigade ! Do the bandsmen play as soon as the members of the brigade go on board their ships, or do they head the brigade when they march through the streets on holidays and high days ? lain not objecting to these men blowing their own trumpets, but I think that all the States should be treated in the same way. We could not do better than offer encouragement for the enrolment of the most hardy and useful men we have amongst us. We know how handy sailors are, and that we could scarcely put a sailor in the wrong place.
– In connexion with this motion, I desire to take very strong exception to the manner in which it has pleased the Acting Minister for Defence, I presume with the consent of his colleagues, to practically ignore the constitutional principles that govern the existence of Parliament. In this conjunction I would point out that the question of defence is eminently interesting to, and seriously affects, all the States, and that in the States House - the Senate - we have a body of men elected for the express purpose for protecting State rights. These State rights have been ignored. The Acting Minister for Defence has ignored the Senate by undertaking to make alterations in the defence forces without consulting this Chamber, which is 11OW asked to provide the money necessary to maintain his department. I will not attempt to enter into a critical exposition of defence matters in detail, but I hold that the proposal to tomahawk £60,000 off Estimates which have been already hugely reduced, without consulting the Chamber specially appointed under the Constitution to protect States rights, makes a very’ serious inroad, not upon the privileges of the
Senate, but upon the principles laid down for the working of the .Federal Constitution. If the matter of defence is to be solely one for consideration by the other Chamber, it is hardly necessary to ask the Senate to sanction expenditure which is to be reduced upon the whim of the Acting Minister for Defence in whatever way he chooses, simply because he has been told to decrease them by one member of the other House. As these are the days of retrenchment, it might be well to effect an amendment of the Constitution dispensing altogether with the Federal Parliament, and leaving the administration of Commonwealth affairs to the Ministry of the day and Mr. J. C. Watson, because if that gentleman tells the Government what they are to do they come to heel as obediently as a well-broken dog. I congratulate my honorable friends of the labour corner upon occupying a position of absolute dominance in the working out of the Federal Constitution.
– It shows that our views are those of a majority.
– Upon the reduction of the Defence Estimates demanded by Mr. Watson, the Ministry did not even call foi1 a division. Having been told their duty, they assented to the proposal with that meekness which is certainly recognised as one of the Christian virtues, but which is not usually associated with the functions of a militant body, and certainly military Estimates are supposed to have something of the element of the militant. I take the strongest exception to this Parliament attempting to fix the price of its garment before it has determined upon the character of that garment. Is there any tradesman throughout the whole Commonwealth who would fix the price of a suit of clothes without knowing the character of the garments to be turned out and the quality of the cloth of which they were to be made ? But that is what -we are doing to-day. Last year the Ministry fixed the amount of the defence vote, but Mr. J. C. Watson told them to reduce it by £130,000. This year he directed them to still further decrease their Estimates by £60,000, and that task was obediently undertaken.
– Nobody dissented from the adoption of that course.
– I am dissenting ; but I suppose that I am nobody in the estimation of Senator Pearce.
– I was referring to the other House.
.- I do not happen to be charged with any responsibility in connexion with the other Chamber.
– Why attribute the reduction which has been made to one man 1
– Because Mr. Watson is absolutely paramount in the working out of the Federal Constitution. I . congratulate Senator Pearce that the labour party occupies such a dominant position.
– More power to them.
– It was the House which requested the reduction, and the honorable senator declares that it was Mr. Watson.
.- Surely I am stating the facts of the case. I am satisfied that Senator Pearce feels very proud that the leader of his party is the dominant power in the Commonwealth Parliament. Turning from anything in the way of badinage I seriously take up the position that up to the present time no decision has been given by Parliament or the Ministry con-‘ cerning the future constitution of the defence forces of the Commonwealth. We are hacking away an existing system before we have determined either to continue its remnants, or to substitute a new system. Do we intend in the future to maintain any appreciable number of thoroughly trained men to look after the costly armaments that exist in the Commonwealth to-day as the result of large borrowings from the other side of the world ? Though I am a citizen soldier, I recognise that the citizen soldier is not competent to look after the complicated artillery included in modern armaments throughout the world. Every one who has visited a fort o$ studied guns of modern construction knows that they are not only very expensive, but immensely complicated. They are delicate pieces of machinery which require constant attention, and that attention can be» given only by placing professional men in charge of them. It cannot be afforded by occasional visits of citizen soldiers to the forts. Of course, when it comes to the question of rifles, I do not advocate the establishment of professional rifle regiments. The citizen soldier can do all that is necessary in that connexion. But there is a vast difference between the huge complicated armaments of a fort and the aggregation of citizens for the purpose of forming rifle battalions. I do not think it is desirable that the permanent or professional branch of ‘the defence forces should be chopped down in the ruthless manner proposed without any definite plan of defence having been formulated either for the present or the future, and without consulting this Chamber. The other House has consulted the Senate in regard to this matter no more than if this Chamber had had no existence. One would think that no authority was given under the Constitution for the creation of a second House whose duty it is to protect State rights. In the course of his observations this afternoon, Senator Styles attempted to show that infantry regiments are of very little value as compared with mounted troops. He pointed out that prior to the outbreak of the South African war the British War-office authorities did not understand their own business, and that having asked for assistance in the shape of infantry in the first place, they immediately afterwards re- versed their request and asked for mounted troops. The honorable senator’s facts are quite right, but I think that he drew a wrong inference. It must be remembered that whilst there were about 200,000 British troops in South Africa for about two years, not more than 50,000 of them were mounted. Of course, we naturally heard a great deal of the doings of the rapidly-moving columns of mounted troops, and did not hear of the work of the patient, plodding infantryman who, after all, with his row of block houses, did more to bring the war in the Transvaal to a successful close than did the rapidly-moving mounted columns.
– I did not reflect upon the infantry regiments.
.- I know that the honorable senator did not. But I understood him to suggest that mounted troops were much more valuable than infantry.
– I did* not say so. I merely stated a fact.
– The character of the war underwent a change.
.- The point which I wish to make is that Great Britain can more coveniently supply infantry than cavalry, because she has an abundance of men, but not a plethora of horses.
– She has more men than mules.
.- Exactly. In Australia we have an abundance of horseflesh, and it is well known that the Australian is a riding and galloping man.
– Did not the War-office authorities know of all the facts beforehand ?
.- But the war underwent very rapid changes. The whole course of events altered within a few months, and instead of troops fighting in the old style, a new system of warfare was inaugurated. I have already admitted the facts mentioned by Senator Styles, and I am merely suggesting that the British Waroffice authorities had reason for reversing their request. Great Britain has an abundance of infantry. She discovered that she required more mounted men than she originally anticipated, and naturally looked to the country which was eminently able to supply her requirements, not only in horseflesh, but in men who could ride. Quite a large number of the men who played the part of galloping soldiers in South Africa were drawn from the suburbs of Sydney, as well as from the backblocks of Australia.
– ‘Some of them came from Melbourne.
.- Senator Styles is singularly impatient. I was about to add that doubtless many of the “ good old bushmen “ were drawn from Melbourne and suburbs, just as they were from Sydney and Balmain. I know of one regiment- - the 7 th Infantry Regiment of New South Wales - every member of which resided in the metropolitan area. Nevertheless, “it supplied a number of hardy old bushmen for service in South Africa, and I do not know that they shaped badly. However, I did not rise for the sole purpose of correcting one who is usually so well informed as is my esteemed friend Senator Styles. I am now going to deal with another particular friend of mine in this Chamber - Senator Sargood - who declared that it was not necessary for members of rifle clubs to be drilled. I am directly opposed to that view.
– How much did the Boers drill ?
.- They did not drill to any appreciable extent, and if we could always depend upon having to fight only undrilled enemies there might be something in the contention. But there is no nation upon the face of the earth with which we are likely to come into collision that is distinguished by any such conditions as. were the Boers. If in the future we have to enter into any conflict it would certainly be with drilled enemies, and to pit undrilled men against drilled troops would be simply tantamount to sending them to slaughter.
– That is what the Boers did.
– Am I to understand from a gentleman possessing all the Ministerial experience of Senator Playford that he is absolutely prepared to ask undrilled troops to cope with an army that is properly drilled and equipped - battalions such as are produced by a great military system? I cannot think that the honorable senator is really serious. From personal experience I know that the idea of a joke is sometimes so attractive as to cause a man to appear to forget common sense. I recognise that remark as applying to myself at intervals, but this afternoon I think it applies to Senator Playford. When we hear so much about being able to “shoot straight,” does anybody say that the cowboys of America, who shoot uncommonly straight; and on sight, are specially designed for the protection of the great republic? Straight shooting is a very valuable part of military operations, but, if I may use the simile, it is rather the apex than the foundation. We require a foundation as rauch as we require a showy apex, and if we erect the structure with an elaborate cornice and parapet, but without substantial groundwork, we may be certain that it will not require very much of an earthquake - the South Australian variety would do - to demolish the whole. There must be reasonable training; and there is another objection I have to the idea that merely straight shooting will answer the purpose. I object to public money being expended under the pretence that it is for defence purposes, when it is really spent in the promotion of “pot-hunting” - in the promotion of hunting for trophies. If, by any form of public . expenditure, we subsidize rifle clubs, the members of which have nothing to do bub shoot - have no discipline or obligation to train for the public service - these gentlemen will have no other duty, if duty it can be called, than to devote their spare time to practising at the butts, and becoming expert shots. But_ by-and-by the Government propose a parliamentary vote - of which we have examples in the Bill before us - for shooting in connexion with rifle associations. What happens then is that the rifle club man, who has nothing else to do in his spare time except to practise, comes along and “scoops the pool” as against members of the defence force on whose behalf the vote for the rifle associations is especially supposed to be given. The man from the rifle club comes to compete with the other man, who has to put in half his spare time in drilling. The member of the rifle club is not required to spend one moment per annum in doing aught else but rifle shooting, whereas members of the defence force have bo devote much time bo drilling. Such immense changes are being- proposed in the method of drilling the defence forces of the Commonwealth, that it is difficult to see how the men are bo find a day for rifle practice during the next twelve months. This is a matter of public notoriety ; I am not disclosing official knowledge, because anybody may see the orders issued from the military stations. Great changes have been, and are to be, made in the methods of organization and drill, and a drill fairly applicable to mounted troops and foot troops alike has to be practised. In the public interests, I hope the present arrangements will be somewhat varied. It is now absolutely necessary for every member of the defence forces to make himself acquainted with two distinct forms of drill, and not by any means to mix them up in carrying out evolutions. Unless there is some rearrangement we may have some very funny incidents at public parades. An order given under one form of drill” means a certain thing, but it means another thing under a second form of drill, so that we may look for some pleasant little contretemps if matters are not re-adjusted. I am in favour of spending money on rifle clubs, and of giving them every proper facility and assistance, recognising that they ought to be a most important and most valuable adjunct of the military forces. On thi point I hope that no honorable senator who follows me will suggest that there is any desire on my part to interfere with the successful working of rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth. At the same time, I wish to see applied to rifle clubs a limited drill - a drill limited to the smallest proportion, but still one calculated to inculcate some idea of military discipline and obedience to authority. “If my idea were carried out, it would make rifle clubs a true adjunct to the defences of the Commonwealth, and not a “rope of sand” with a rifle at the end. I am sorry to see in the Estimates an item of £3,000 as an instalment towards the cost of the erection of a drill-hall for volunteer regiments at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. If it were a matter of only £3,000 1 should not say anything, but this, I regret to say, is merely an instalment. In my view, to attempt to to centralize volunteer regiments, instead of encouraging them from the point of view of local character, local interest, and local camaraderie, is to attempt to do that to which the new forms of military drill and instruction are utterly opposed. The whole system of militarism now laid down, not only in the Commonwealth but elsewhere in the Empire, is that of giving prominent importance to the company rather than to the regiment. The regiment is to exist merely for the purpose of administration, and for the occasional working together of the companies ; but the latter, consisting of 100 men, or, as in some of the States, 60 men, are to be all-important. The responsibility is now thrown on the company officers rather than on the regimental commanders. The idea is that every man in the company shall work shoulder to shoulder with men whom he knows he’ can trust, and not with strangers ; and that can only be accomplished, not by centralization, but by localization. The proposed drill-hall will provide accommodation for, at the outside, three companies or 300 men of the 5th regiment, three companies of the 6th regiment, three companies of the 7th regiment, and four companies of the 8th regiment, or, in all, thirteen- companies. I may point out that for £200 each company, or £2,600 in all, there could be provided in the various suburbs and localities all the drill-shed accommodation that is required. The idea, however, is to bring the companies to one centre. ‘ If it were in Melbourne there might be a man from North Melbourne standing alongside a man from Prahran or from Emerald Hill; and under these circumstances, we have a number of disunited atoms aggregated occasionally on the drill-ground, instead of a number of men filled with the idea of comradeship, neighbourly feeling, and local interest. In Sydney, as in Melbourne - though more particularly in the former city - the people live in the suburbs, and centralization means bringing a man away from all those local surroundings which tend to give zest to the volunteer movement. No one knows the suburban volunteer when he comes to the city drillhall ; and between him and those whom he meets there are none of the ties which tend to make a valuable- citizen force. When such a company marches out into a street it is “ nobody’s dog “ - nobody is interested in it. In a suburban company, however, there is much local interest ; the mayor and the council give it some attention, and the local tradesmen subscribe trophies for the shooting tests, and, when there is a march out all the “ sisters, and the cousins and the aunts “ are there to heighten an enthusiasm which is very necessary, if good and efficient’ service is expected from men who are totally unpaid, and who give their time to training very often when they are weary from a long day’s work. I thoroughly believe in the suburban company system, with separate drill-halls. These halls cost at the outside £200 each, which is very much less than the item which appears in the Estimates, and which will contribute more to the public interest in the defence forces. I do- not intend to move any requests in connexion with the Estimates ; the time has passed for that. I recognise that in some respects the citizen forces are handsomely treated as compared with the intentions displayed with reference to other portions of the defence forces. At the same time, I regret that it has been found necessary to so seriously reduce the number of sergeant-instructors that regiments are, to a great extent, crippled in the best part of their work. Kipling has said, with great strength and force, that “The backbone of the army is the non-commissioned man.”
– “Sergeant What’shisname ? “
.- Yes. “Sergeant What’s-his-name “ does the work for which other people very commonly get the credit. There never was a commanding officer or any commissioned officer who made a regiment a success unless he had good noncommissioned men to do that work without which there can be no satisfactory military operations.
– The non-commissioned men do not wear gold lace, do they ?
– That interjection is just an evidence of the folly into which people may fall. If the honorable senator were not led away with clap-trap phrases which are very popular and easy tocollect and redistribute, he would know that, as a matter of fact, there is comparatively little difference between the uniforms of the commissioned officers and the uniforms of the sergeants. Let me tell the honorable senator that a sergeant wears gold or silver lace, as the case may be, in very much the same manner as does a commissioned officer. It is hardly possible to distinguish one from the other at a few yards distance.
– A sergeant does not have any peacock’s feathers in his hat.
– Unless my honorable friend hasbeen to China, I do not know that he has seen any officers wearing peacock’s feathers. Apparently some people are very willing to “ peacock “ common sense with a large amount of frivolity. It is strange that, although defence was one of the chief objects for which the States of Australia came together, now that they have clone so, defence seems to be a subject which, like the fat alderman, provides an undeviating supply of silly jokes.
– They do not wear gold lace in Williamstown. That is why I asked the question.
– The honorable senator will remember that, perhaps unfortunately for the Commonwealth, Williamstown does not constitute the whole of it. No doubt, if Williamstown happened to constitute the whole Commonwealth, everything would be quite right, but because it is not so, there are deficiencies and crudities which must be removed. There is only one other matter to which I wish to refer. A change is to be made in connexion with the Executive Council. An officer, who, I hope, will prove to be adequately paid, is to be placed in charge of the secretarial work, but I desire to say a word or two in respect of the gentleman who has hitherto discharged practically the same duties - a gentleman who has had the laborious, and not what Senator Styles would call the “gold lace,” part of the work to do. I refer to an officer whose name is, I believe, Lewis. I do not know him, and, therefore, I am not speaking out of any friendly consideration. I find that, according to theHansard report, the responsible Minister has proposed in anotherplace to practically disrate that officer because a higher appointment has been made. That is not fair. It is proposed, I understand, to transfer Mr. Lewis to some inferior position.
– In order to make room for Captain Wallington.
– I do not say that. There may be circumstances connected with a very confidential department of the Government, of which comparatively few honorable senators are qualified to express any definite opinion. I am not doing so. I do not think that I am qualified to express any definite opinion upon the subject. If I had just entered Parliament the position would be different, but I have been in Parliament a quarter of a century, and during that time have learned that there are subjects upon which an outside experience does not qualify one to express an opinion. I wish to ask the Minister to give some assurance to the Senate that whatever changes may be necessary in the conduct of public business, the higher appointment shall not prejudicially affect the man who has honorably and capably done the work hitherto; that he shall not.be disrated or disadvantaged by reason of a higher appointment being made. If this officer is to leave the department of the Executive Council, and is to go to another department of the State, I ask that he may be treated honorably, and not disadvantaged in consequence of the change. The indication which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has given to me in a quiet way is, I take it, a reliable assurance that he will see, so far as he can, that the request which I make has proper attention.
– Hear, hear.
.- I hope that this is practically the last speech that I shall have the pleasure of making this session. I do not intend to take up time in proposing or supporting requests relating to the Estimates which have been voted by another place. I take it that this is not the time to bring about any kind of conflict or friction between the two Houses. I am prepared on this occasion to treat this measure as a kind of temporary Supply Bill, which we have to pass in a hurry.
I hope that next session we shall be able to address ourselves to the Appropriation Bill, then introduced, in circumstances that will give us a little more leave and licence in the public interests to investigate, more closely than it is possible for us now to do, the very large sums which we are called upon to vote., and which, I believe, the Senate will cheerfully unite in voting for the Government of the great Commonwealth which has been established for weal or woe - and, please God, it may be for weal - throughout the broad domain of the great Australian territory.
– We find ourselves at the close of a very long session in the very anomalous position of having the Estimates for the current year to deal with, and with the Estimates for the past year untouched, so far as the Appropriation Bill is concerned. Our position, unfortunately, has been such that we have been compelled to deal with Supply Bills, not for a few months, but for each month of the first year, and for about four months of the second year of the existence of the Parliament. I “take it that if the Senate is to have any effective control over the finances of the country, we should endeavour to inaugurate some system by which we shall be enabled to exercise that control. At the end of the session, the Estimates in chief for the current year have been brought up to us with a request that we should deal with them as speedily as possible, in order that Parliament may be prorogued at the close of the current week. That really places us in a position which the States Legislative Councils have occupied in the past. As a rule, the last work to be dealt with by the Lower House in a State Legislature is the passing of an Appropriation Bill. The Bill is then sent up to the second Chamber, and members of the Lower House wait in almost breathless expectation for the return of the measure untouched.
– It is a very old trick.
– It is a very old custom so far as the States Legislatures are concerned. The second Chambers in the States Legislatures have practically no control over the finances ; they do not represent the people of the community, and it was almost inevitable that such a state of affairs should exist. But in the Senate we have a House which represents the same electors as does the House of Representatives. In the Senate we have a House whose members are amenable to the electors of the country in the same way as are the members of another place - a Chamber which under the Constitution has, with very few exceptions, co-ordinate powers with the House of Representatives. Except that we have no power to amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth, and no power to .amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people, we occupy a co-ordinate position with the House of Representatives. But the section in the Constitution which prevents us from making amendments in these measures, recognises our right to deal with them in almost the same way as does the House of Representa’tives. It is provided that -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by Message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.
With a provision like that in the Constitution, and having regard to the constitution of the Senate, we should realize that we are responsible, equally with another place, to the people of the country in regard to matters relating to the appropriation of revenue and the imposition of taxation.
– So we are.
.- So far as the imposition of taxation is concerned, we have shown already that our right in this respect is not one which exists merely on paper. We have shown that it has a real existence, and it has been rocognised not only by the Senate but by another place. The same right should be recognised in regard * to our power to amend, by request, any Appropriation BDI which may come before us. But when, as in this case, an Appropriation Bill is submitted to us in the last week of the session, it is almost impracticable for the Senate to exercise its powers in the full, free, and unfettered way in which they should be exercised. I recognise that there is a difficulty in dealing with a matter of this kind, but I hope that the Government - and not only the Government, but honorable senators themselves - will set themselves the task of devising some means by which, without interfering with the ordinary progress of public business, the Senate will have with the House of Representatives an equal opportunity to deal with Appropriation Bills and with the Estimates. We know that the Estimates are submitted to another place not at the fag end of, but early in, the session. Then the House of Representatives deals with them, and comes to a determination as to whether reductions should be made and which of the Estimates should be approved as submitted by the Government. It is true that the money is not appropriated until the end of the session ; but the practical work is done in the House of Representatives in the early stages of the session, when honorable members are able to work under normal conditions, and, in Committee of Supply, to determine what money shall be voted. I am anxious that some opportunity shall be given to the Senate to deal with the Estimates in a similar way. I know I shall be met with the reply, “We cannot do so. We cannot go into Committee of Supply ; we are not called upon in the first place to grant supply.” That is true ; but we are dealing with a new Constitution - with the foundation of our legislation - and it is for us to devise such means as will giveus power to carry out most completely the duties which are conferred upon us by the Constitution. I hope that some means ‘will be devised to enable us to do this, and that in future we shall not be compelled, during the last three or four days of the session, to deal with Estimates in Chief in a way that renders it impossible to carry out our work effectively. Complaint has been made by Senator Neild with regard to the promise made by the Minister for Home Affairs, at the request of certain honorable members of another place, and without consulting the Senate, to reduce the Defence Estimates. If the Estimates had been dealt with earlier in the session, the Government would no doubt have made themselves acquainted with the views of honorable members of both Houses, before making such a definite promise. Neither House has the power, when the Estimates are under consideration, to increase the proposed expenditure ; but the Government have said in this instance”We have already reduced the Defence. expenditure under last year’s Estimates by £131,000, and we will reduce the expenditure under the Defence Estimates for the present year by some £60,000.” The responsibility thus rests with the Government. If they can reduce their Estimates for the department, and still secure an effective service,it is right that they should do so. But some little time ago, when the Government were called upon to reduce the Defence Estimates as far as practicable, they consulted with the General Officer Commanding. They prepared a scheme of retrenchment in accordance with his . advice, and now, without consulting him - without consulting the officer who is responsible to the Government, just as the Government are responsible to the country, for the effective defence of the Commonwealth - they have struck off a further sum of about£60,000at the request of another place. I take exception to that action. Can such a reduction be carried out consistently with efficiency?
– The Government did not carry out their proposal to reduce last year’s Estimates to the extent of £131,000.
– I understand that they undertook to reduce the expenditure by £131,000 upon the amount which was given to them in the first instance to expend. I believe they did not go up to the full amount. Be that as it may, they brought down Estimates representing £130,000 less than the Estimates brought down for the preceding year.
– Which included the expenditure incidental to the Royal visit.
D- That may be, but there is a certain amount of reduction made, and now a further promise of reduction has been made. The position I am endeavouring to take is that, after consultation with . their advisers, they come down deliberately with an estimate of £750,000 in all. I am not prepared to believe that the Government would go to their military advisers, and say - “We desire to spend £750,000.” I think they would be more likely to say to them - “The House has requested us to reduce these Estimates by £130,000, but if you can still further reduce them without impairing the efficiency of the force, we shall expect you to do so.” I say that the promise made is an inconsiderate one, and a great many hardships may be inflicted in consequence of it.
– And a great deal of inefficiency brought about.
– That maybe. We have been told that in dealing with these Military Estimates a large number of retirements have been brought about, which will be the means of reducing public expenditure. We are led to believe that these retirements have been brought about simply in the ordinary course of reducing the number of men in the service, in order ‘ to reduce expenditure, but the fact is, that they have been effected, to a large extent, by means of a new code of regulations which has been adopted, and under which men have been called upon to retire at an earlier age than that at which they would have had to retire under the regulations which existed previously. In many cases men in the permanent forces of the country, who were just as capable of performing the duties appertaining to their positions at the time of their enforced retirement, as they were five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years before, have been retired under the new regulations, and other men have been put in their places. It will not tend to satisfy men who are in the forces, or to induce good men to enter them in future, if they know that at any moment they will be liable to be retired under regulations of this character. I recognise that every man in the forces should be liable to be retired at any time if it is considered necessary in the public interest ; but I do protest against retiring men unless it is in the public interest that they should go ; unless the duties they have been discharging no longer require to be discharged ; unless it is shown that they are incompetent by reason of their age or for some other cause, or that because of misconduct they are not fit to remain in the service. Of course, in cases such as these, they should go ; but I object to a. system rendering men liable to be retired by rule of thumb, and without reference to the necessities and requirements of the Commonwealth. I do not propose to go into the details of the Military Estimates, because, I take it, they are framed after consultation with the recognised advisers of the Government. The chief adviser of the Government is unquestionably responsible to the Government of the Commonwealth for the efficiency of ‘the defence force, and there can- be no doubt that the gentleman occupying that position will be perfectly justified, if he finds an insufficient sum of money placed at his disposal, in telling the Government straightforwardly that he cannot be responsible for the efficiency of the service unless a larger amount of money is provided. I believe that the gentleman at present occupying the position is sufficiently independent to takeup that attitude should it become necessary. After all, while it may be said that by cutting and hacking an officer may save money in this or in that direction, if it is done at the expense of the efficiency of the defence force, a wrong will be done to the Commonwealth, and a serious wrong to the officer himself. The Government take the advice of their adviser and they are responsible to Parliament, and will have to stand the brunt of any trouble or difficulty that may arise. It must not be forgotten that at all times the question of defence is a serious and important one. It is a matter of insurance. We may go on for scores of years without needing any defence, but a day may come when we shall be involved in trouble, and shall require to fall back upon our defence forces to protect our interests. It mustal ways be remembered that the greatest security against attack is in being prepared to meet attack. While a nation is prepared to meet attack it may not be attacked at all ; but the moment it becomes weak, inefficient, or incapable of protecting itself, it invites invasion and attack. I trust this Commonwealth will never be put in such a position as that. When the full scheme of defence is , formulated, it will be for Parliament to say whether it is satisfied with it or not, after examination of reports supplied by experts, and with the information honorable senators may themselves possess. Passing away from our local forces to the subsidy proposed to be given to the Imperial authorities for the auxiliary squadron, it has long been notorious that the ships we have are not up to date, and are not such vessels as we ought to have for the defence of the Australasian States. Now that it is proposed to increase the subsidy, it is at the same time proposed that we shall get cruisers which will be more up to date, and more efficient for purposes of protection than those we have at present. I am, however, entirely in sympathy with honorable senators who believe that we should as soon as possible take steps in order to have some defence force upon the water upon which we can rely, and which will be more under our control than can be any vessels belonging to the Imperial squadron. I desire to see the Commonwealth make a beginning with the training of its o own men for this purpose, and I wish to see the Commonwealth in possession of ships which will be under our own control. I recognise that to purchase first-class cruisers would involve an expenditure which the Commonwealth at the present time is not justified in incurring, but although Senator Sargood seems to think that . it is not possible for us to obtain ships from the home authorities by .a system of rental, I am by no means satisfied that the honorable senator is quite correct in his conclusion. It may be that we should have to pay a larger sum by way of rental than 3 per cent, upon the capital, value of the ships ; but, at the same time, I believe that the Imperial authorities would gladly welcome any attempt on the part of the Commonwealth to strike out for itself in that direction. Of course, while we are an integral portion of the British Empire, as I hope we ever shall be, there must always be a certain amount of control exercised by the Imperial authorities as to where they will take their ships for the purpose of fighting. But -what we must realize is that, while it may be perfectly true that it is better to fight battles 4,000 or 5,000 miles from Australian shores, in order to prevent any attack upon this country, there is always the possibility of an enemy’s force evading the ships of the Imperial navy, and making a descent upon some one or other of the States. It is to provide against an emergency of that character that we should have certain ships under our own control, so that we might have an opportunity of protecting our coastal commerce as we have the opportunity of protecting our great cities by means of fortifications and other defences.
– We are in no danger.
– If the honorable senator is of opinion that we are in no danger, I suppose he is almost prepaied to cut off £750,000 from the military Estimates.
– I should cut them down to £500,000. That would be ail ample sum to provide.
.- Everything depends, upon what is sufficient to effectively defend the community. I hope that when the question of increased contribution to the auxiliary squadron comes on for discussion, as it undoubtedly will next session, honorable senators will be enabled to look at the matter from two or three different points of view, which may fairly be presented when considering our defences.
I noticed that some honorable senators were inclined to regard a good deal of what Senator Pulsford put before the Senate with regard to the administration of the Customs department as jocular. That must have been entirely owing to the unthinking character of honorable senators who regard the matter in that way. For after all, we must bear in mind the fact that where we create an artificial system of crime, we must be very careful in the administration of it. When the Customs Act was under consideration we were told that it was absolutely necessary to give the Minister for Trade and Customs or the Government certain powers of prosecution, or otherwise the revenue might be defrauded through their inability to deal with cases of improper conduct on the part of importers. It was upon’ representations such as these that Parliament was induced to give this power, but we always considered that whatever powers were given to the Government would be exercised in the best interests of the community, and not arbitrarily or improperly. The cases cited by Senator Pulsford have shown the distance to which these prosecutions have been allowed to go. I say it is a most serious thing that a community should have a large number of its most respected merchants liable to prosecution, not for wilful offences, but for what are merely inadvertent mistakes. The world outside will judge our community by the respectability of the persons transacting business amongst us. What will be the position of this Commonwealth if, when a firm is mentioned in the old country, somebody says - “ Oh, by the way, that firm was charged with defrauding the Customs, and they were prosecuted, convicted, and fined 1 “ People on the other side of the world will not pause to inquire whether the prosecution took place upon a technical breach of the law, or a mere clerical error. We know that some of our most respected firms, not in one, but in all, of the States, have been prosecuted, most harshly and unjustly. I have no hesitation in saying that some of the prosecutions are a crying scandal and disgrace to the administration of the Customs law of the Commonwealth. I say that prosecutions ‘ have taken place here which would not be possible in any other community in the world.
– They have npt hitherto been possible here.
– And as the honorable senator says, they have not hitherto been possible here. I should like to remind honorable senators that when the matter was previously referred to in the Senate, we had the advantage of a speech from Senator Best,’ who had administered a Customs Tariff of a highly protective character in Victoria. Under the administration of that gentleman we heard nothing of these scandals and troubles.
– Nor under that of Sir George Turner himself.
– Nor under that of Sir George Turner himself. We know that when attempts were made to defraud the revenue, prosecutions were promptly instituted, but where the Minister was satisfied that no attempt whatever was being made to defraud the revenue, he at once said - “ These men are just as likely to make errors and mistakes as is the. department.” We know that under the present federal administration the officers of the Customs department have made innumerable errors. There have been no prosecutions in consequence, but whenever an unfortunate merchant or importer has made a little slip or mistake, he has been forthwith . prosecuted. During the last week I observed a case in Sydney in which a prosecution took place. Let me point out -to honorable senators the charge first of all, then the statement of the Crown with regard to it, and one or two matters appertaining to it. A certain firm was charged -
That at Sydney, on 8th Juli’, they unlawfully made a certain entry, to wit, an entry for home consumption of goods ex Cuzco, contained in packages marked and numbered as in the said entry specified, which was false in a certain particular, to wit, in omitting to include goods to the value of £97 3s. 3d., forming portion of the contents of the said packages.
I assume, for the sake of argument, that the firm was convicted. It goes forth to the world that one of the most respected firms in the Commonwealth has been punished for attempting to defraud the revenue by undervaluing its goods - a most serious charge of dishonesty if people did not know the circumstances of the case. The only reason is the -provision we put into our Customs Act by means of which a firm is liable to be convicted simply on an affirmation that there has been a technical breach of the law. I
.- “We” did not do it.
.- A few of us voted against that section of the Act, but were unsuccessful in our opposition to it. I very much regret it, because the section lends itself to prosecutions which should never be instituted. However, let us see what was done in this particular case :-
Henry Dunn, shipping clerk for the defendant firm, gave evidence as to the ordinary method of passing goods through the Customs. It was only after the entries and invoices had been checked that goods were passed. In this case it was while the entries and invoices were being checked, and before the goods were passed, that the error complained of was discovered. It was a clerical error, due to the figures being shown in French money. When the amounts shown on the first sheet were totalled, the total amount appeared small in comparison with the number of articles shown. The sheet was then checked again, and the error discovered. Witness asked the Customs clerk if anything could be done to rectify the matter, and was taken to the Collector of Customs, to whom he pointed out the mistake, and explained how it occurred. The collector said he was very sorry, but he could not do anything here, as there was no finality in Sydney, but he could plainly see it was a clerical error.
Mr. Cargill, who was prosecuting on behalf of the Customs department, interposed here, and said -
I might sa,y that it is not claimed by us that it is anything but a clerical error.
And on this a prosecution was founded.
– It is monstrous - perfectly monstrous - that a case of the kind should be taken to court.
– But did not the honorable and learned senator vote for that section in the Bill ?
– No, I did not -2 it was understood that section 265 would be sensibly administered.
– Another member of the firm, giving evidence, said -
The firm had been carrying on business in Sydney for seven years, and in Melbourne for over 50 years. Since the Federal Tariff was passed the firm had imported over 20,000 packages, passed 2,398 entries in respect of those packages, and put through 2,930 wholesale certificates. They had paid over £70,000 iu duty-in less than twelve months. During the whole of that time there had never been a similar mistake made by the firm. The firm was, as a matter of fact, in the habit of giving the Customs assistance Personally he knew nothing about the mistake until the matter was brought under his notice. All the -entries in the invoices in this case were perfectly correct, and represented the actual money value of the goods. The error in question was a purely clerical one.
When the case arose he communicated with the Collector of Customs, but was referred to Melbourne, although tho collector admitted that the error was only of a clerical nature. The goods delayed in consequence of the action of the Customs were “season’s” goods, and were of great value at that particular time. He offered to give any guarantee whatever, or pay any amount of money, in order to secure delivery of the early goods, but although the Customs authorities here did all they could to help him, the necessary authority was only received from Melbourne at the end of the month. He then gave a guarantee to pay the duty and . the whole of the money value of the goods involved. The three weeks’ delay in securing possession of the goods caused the firm considerable inconvenience. Witness then described the action taken by the firm, both in Sydney and Melbourne, to secure possession of the goods, and the grave inconvenience caused by the transmission to Melbourne by the Customs of the papers in the case. After his interviews with the Customs authorities witness formed the opinion that the papers had been lost.
Mr. Cargill ‘said that the charge was that a clerical error had been committed, that the firm was charged with making a mistake, and that there was no implication that there was any intention to defraud the revenue. There is a typical case of the prosecutions which are taking place day after day at the instance of the Customs department. It is enough to make a man’s blood boil with indignation to find that such a state of things exists, and, still more, that the law is being so used as to interfere with the trade of the country and with the residents of the Commonwealth in the way I have mentioned.
– And with the reputations of respectable firms.
.- And ‘withthe reputations of firms. I have already pointed out that where an information is laid, charging these firms under the terms of the Act with having made false entries, and where they are convicted and fined, the law leaves no alternative to the magistrates but to inflict a fine ; and besides the execution of this gross act of injustice, a respectable firm is liable to be labelled as dishonest. The most respectable firms in, the Commonwealth may have their commercial honesty impugned by being prosecuted and convicted for offences of this character. That information goes forth to the world. What will people in other parts of the world think of us ? They must think that our commercial firms have no great amount of commercial honesty, or else they must come to the conclusion that we are a ‘peculiar people or endeavouring to do all we can to besmirch and ruin the reputations of our commercial people in the eyes of the world. Therefore, I trust that the representatives of the Government’ in the Senate will endeavour to see that cases of this kind shall be put an end to. Where a man wilfully’ attempts to defraud the revenue, or gives reasonable cause to believe that he is attempting to defraud the revenue, though the department cannot prove it, prosecute him by all means. Do not give a man an opportunity, simply because technically you cannot prove the case against him, to escape from punishment. But where it is recognised that only an error has been committed, and when that is admitted by the department, no prosecution should take place. In some of these eases, where convictions have been made and fines inflicted, if the firms had pleaded guilty, the full particulars would not have been disclosed to the public. I am glad that some of the firms did not plead guilty, but insisted upon the full facts being disclosed. Under these circumstances it would have been an act of grace on the part of the Government not to insist upon a heavy penalty. I have found other cases of a similar character earlier than this. I know of a case which is’ in course of prosecution at the present time, and which shows how the administration is being conducted. I trust that the members of the Government will endeavour to check the undue zeal of the Customs authorities, and will try to stop reputable citizens, from being dragged to the police court and branded as quasi criminals. Again, in connexion with this matter, I am told that Customs officers are generally debarred from giving information to the public. Is that fair or right ?
– Did the honorable and learned senator hear the answer which 1 gave to-day ?
.- I heard it, but it is only applicable to a limited extent.
– It absolutely contradicts what the honorable and learned senator is saying.
.- If I want to pass goods through the Custom-house, I contend that I have a perfect right to ask the officials for the fullest information. I have a right to ask them - “ How am I to fill in this form, and what am I to do?” I take it that it is the duty of a public servant to give every possible information to the public upon occasions where people do not know exactly what to do in order to comply with the law.
– Then you had better have a whole lot of lawyers at the Customshouse.
.- No, we do not need a lot of lawyers, but these officials know the practice, and can very well give the information asked for.
– It is a question of decisions, and the officers are not allowed to give verbal decisions.
.- Suppose Senator Playford were in charge of the Customs department, and I had certain goods to put through ? Should I not have a right to ask him what to do %
– Surety, if the honorable and learned senator were an importer he should know his own business. He would know the value of the goods. I should not know what they were worth. I should say, “ Here is the form, and you have to fill it up.”
– Then the position is that the honorable senator would say to the public, “ There is the law, and it is your duty to know it,. but if you fall into any mistake you will be prosecuted.” Surely the honorable senator would not discharge his duties in that way ?
– I never knew of merchants who wanted to ask such silly questions.
– There is an officer at the Customs in each State for the purpose of giving information.
– If a man makes a mistake and admits it, and shows how it arose, he should never be prosecuted for it. I am perfectly sure that if Senator O’Connor happened to be sitting on this side of the Senate, in opposition to the Government, no man would speak more strongly in condemnation of the present administration than he would. This is not merely a matter of whether an honorable senator is supporting the Government or the Opposition. It is a matter of administration that affects the honor of the commercial community.
– These difficulties never occurred in Victoria under the administration of Senator Best and Sir George Turner.
– They had not to administer a Tariff affecting six States.
.- There is no difference in principle between administering a Tariff affecting six States and a Tariff affecting one State. An injustice is being done in this case, and it should be stopped. Passing from that matter, there is another topic to which I should like to allude. It is a matter in’ regard to which three of the States are particularly interested. The States of New South Wales and South Australia both have strong interests in the question of the Murray River waters. The Premier of New South Wales, in consequence of certain action that has been taken in Victoria, saw fit to send a letter protesting -against what he terms the improper diversion of the waters of the Murray for irrigation purposes. The South Australian Government have also, I think, made similar complaints that the waters of the Murray are- being taken away, and the navigation of the river interfered with. I am aware that a reply was’ given by the Premier of Victoria to the Premier of New South Wales, to the effect that no attempt was being made to take the water from the Murray, but that waters are simply being taken in a more extended form from the Goulburn River, which is one of the important tributaries of the Murray. The Victorian Premier claimed that his State had a perfect right to do that. But we may .be in this peculiar position - that whether Victoria has or has not a right to do this, there are no means at present for testing that right in any of our courts. Our Constitution Act provides that the Commonwealth Government shall have control of the rivers so far as concerns navigation, but that we shall not unduly interfere with facilities for irrigation. We all recognise that. We accept the terms of the Constitution in that respect. I recognise that the States of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia have at the present time a body of men constituted from themselves, who are endeavouring to inquire into this subject. The question is : How far can irrigation be taken in hand by the different States without interferring with navigation ? I hope that a halt will be called by the representatives of the State of Victoria until at any rate the commission has had an opportunity of fully inquiring into the whole question, and reporting upon it. I am aware that the Minister for Home Affairs has expressed the opinion that the
Commonwealth Government cannot interfere until the Inter-State Commission has been appointed. But power is given to the Government under the Constitution to appoint a body of this character to take the whole question in hand and deal with it. Therefore I contend that the Commonwealth Government are charged with the duty of seeing that no wrong is done wittingly to any one of the States by any other State in regard to this question. The River Murray, as we know, actually flows through New South Wales. A portion is strictly speaking within the State of New South Wales, under the Constitution of that State. The northern boundary of Victoria is on the southern bank of the Murray.
– Where is it in times of flood?
-I do not refer to the. matter in any spirit of hostility towards Victoria. While a State may have every right to deal with the waters of its rivers as it thinks fit, in the case of important tributaries of the Murray such as the Goulburn and the Darling, it must be recognised that the impounding or diverting of water may have the effect of interfering with the navigability of the main river, and as it is one of the powers of this Parliament to deal with questions concerning navigability, the Commonwealth Government should pay attention to the way in which such tributaries are being affected by the action of the Governments of the States through which they flow. The common law rule is that a man who lives on the bank of a stream is entitled to the reasonable use of the waters flowing past his property, and that no person living higher up has any right to divert the water from him, or to prevent him from enjoying its use. The flow of water into the Murray should not be interfered with in such- a way as to affect the normal flow of the river.
– It is only the floodwaters of the Goulburn which are to be intercepted.
– In that case there is no ground for complaint against the action of the Victorian Government. We are all desirous to prevent the waste of water ; but I do not wish anything to be done, either by the Government of Victoria or by the Government of New
South Wales, which will interfere with the Murray. I hope that the Common wealth Government, if necessary by the exercise of reasonable argument, will endeavour to induce the Government of Victoria to stay its hand until the whole matter has been reported on, and we are satisfied that no undue interference with the Murray will take place. I recognise to the fullest extent the right of the Victorian Government to protect the interests of its people by the conservation of water for purposes of irrigation; but as the. Goulburn is a tributary of the Murray, the impounding of its waters is a matter of national concern. I hope thatthere will be a consultation between the Commonwealth Government and representatives of the States Governments, so that an arrangement may be arrived at, and the difficulties of the position overcome without irritation. In conclusion, I wish to say that I hope that next session we shall have an opportunity of dealing effectively with the proposed expenditure for the year, as we may think best in the interests of our constituents, and that Supply Bills and Appropriation Bills will not be put before us at such times that their proper consideration by us will interfere with the arrangements of the other House. I recognise to the fullest.extent the rights of the House of Representatives, but I am determined that the rights of the Senate shall equally be maintained and observed.
– I cordially welcome the Appropriation Bill which we are now considering, because I regard it as the curtain descending upon the drama which we have been acting during this very long session. None of us is anxious to impose an obstacle to its speedy and quick descent. We wish to feel that the session’s work is at an end, and that we can enjoy a period of respite before the work of next session is undertaken. This session has been an uncommonly long one. I shall not say at this stage to what I think its length is chiefly due, but I have felt that, occasionally at any rate, our proceedings might have been, curtailed and the session shortened by a little moreforesightin thearrangement of business. I express the hope that, as this session will go down to history as the first of the Federal Parliament of Australia, it will also be recorded as the longest session of that Parliament. We must all agree that the work of the session has been anxious and important. I do not think any of us oan question the earnestness devoted to it and to its consequences in relation to the future of the Commonwealth. All of us will say, some for one reason and some for another, that many things have been done which might better have been left undone and many things have been left undone which might better have been done. Amongst these latter - and this is my main reason for offering a word or two while the Appropriation Bill is under consideration - is the matter to which attention has just been called by . Senator Gould, the riparian rights of the States in respect to the Murray and its tributaries. Many other subjects might be passed oyer as matters merely for momentary discussion, but that question is of vital interest to at least three of the States. Amongst the things which have been left undone are several machinery Bills - measures essential to the smooth and satisfactory working of the Constitution. I do not want to enumerate them all, but the session would have had a better record, and members would have dispersed with more satisfied consciences if, instead of some of the measures which have been placed upon the statute-book, other measures such as I refer to had been dealt with.
– The Inter-State Commission Bill.
– The Inter-State Commission Bill is one of the measures which should have been passed this session.
– An Inter-State Commission Bill ; not the measure introduced by the Government !
– A measure of which Parliament could approve should have become law this session. With all deference to some of my honorable friends who take a different view, that Bill, and others which I shall not enumerate, were worthier of a place on the statute-book, and would have been more useful than the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and other measures of that description. I do not underrate the importance of either of the Acts which we have passed for the abolition of alien labour in this community. But as we have had kanakas and other coloured labour in Queensland and in other States for the last 30 years and more, a delay of another year in getting rid of it would have been justified if it would have enabled us to pass legislation to make the Constitution work more smoothly.
– What the honorable and learned senator says in regard to legislation .for the restriction of alien labour applies equally to legislation for the settlement of Inter-State disputes.
– The people of South Australia are deeply interested in this matter. Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to the ownership of the bed of the Murray where it flows between New South Wales and Victoria, there is no question that in its lower regions it is wholly a South Australian river, and provides that State, not only with means of irrigation for parts of her territory which are particularly susceptible to the benefits of irrigation, but is also a great highway for our commerce. Every drop of water from the Upper Murray and its tributaries, in so far as it lessens the navigability of the river, is a direct injury to the best material interests of South Australia. In New South Wales the people are. interested in navigation and in irrigation, but to a lesser degree than are the people of South Australia.
– A good deal of parochialism was shown during the debate on this subject in the Convention of 1S9S.
– Parochialism is a convertible term for what the representatives of . a State regard as its best interests. Following the example of Senator Gould, I am unwilling to say a word which would incense the people of any State, but I wish to emphasize the vital importance of this question. It is a misfortune that we have not got at least one tribunal - the Inter-State Commission - which would have had something to say on the subject from the aspect of trade and commerce of the Commonwealth, and would have impressed upon the Government the importance of following the suggestion of Senator Gould, and representing to the Victorian Government the wisdom of staying its hands for a time. The rivers of Australia are few, and most of them, with the exception of the Murray, of very little consequence. The Murray, however, occupies a position in our system of rivers the importance of which it is impossible to overrate. I speak with a feeling almost of despairing regret in reference to the situation which now confronts us. In reply to the remonstrances of South Australia and New South Wales, the Premier of Victoria has pointed out that he is not taking water from the Murray, but is merely utilizing the waters of the Goulburn. The riparian question is one of the utmost difficulty. No Parliament could enter upon an investigation of the subject with a view to pronouncing judgment upon it. No Parliament would be a tribunal competent to deal with the question. That can only be accomplished by some tribunal which will do justice between the parties interested, guided by principles that are difficult to ascertain, and are still more difficult to apply. It is only by such a tribunal that the rights of the different States can be finally determined, and, therefore, I say that it is not possible for us to deal with this matter even if we would. We should probably do wrong if we made any such attempt. We should probably do greater mischief than if we allowed the States concerned to do justice each in its own light. I feel, however, that it would be well for the Government of Victoria to withhold any further action until an opportunity is presented of determining all these questions - of determining, amongst other things, whether, although they may concede that they are not entitled to draw water direct from the Murray, they are entitled to draw it from the rivers which are tributaries of that stream, and to practically tap the sources of supply of the main stream. Whether they can or cannot do this is a matter which will have to be determined.
– Will not that matter be determined by the High Court?
– The Inter-State Commission will have functions which will enable it to deal with the question from the point of view of trade and commerce. The only limitation to its powers is to be found in that section of the Constitution which declares that nothing shall be done by law or regulation in regard to trade or commerce which shall abridge any of the rights of a State to the reasonable use of its waters for the purpose of irrigation.
– That is all that Victoria asks for.
– I wish my honorable friend to understand that I am not attacking Victoria. I do not wish to diminish the rightsof Victoria by one drop of water, but I say that we should, if possible, have the rights of Victoria and the other interested States determined finally and justly before any act is done by either of the States to assert what it may believe to be its rights.
– The whole position is very much intensified by the drought.
– No doubt. But I do not wish to introduce any question of that kind. I wish to emphasize the fact that the strongest possible feeling has been aroused in the State of South Australia by the carrying out in Victoria of contracts which may be perfectly proper and within the rights of the State of Victoria. Still, the feeling which I have described exists, and I am here to express my regret that no machinery is provided by which this question can be effectively determined, and to express the hope that the Government will make independent representations in the same direction as those made by the South Australian and New South Wales Governments with a view to preserving the status quo until there is an opportunity of finally determining the whole subject. I am perfectly certain that if this course is taken by the Federal Government they will secure the good-will not only of South Australia and New South Wales, but of Victoria herself ; because the last-named State is just as much interested as are the others in having the whole question as to what she can and what she cannot do finally determined. It is not desired that any one State should exercise more than its just rights, but that these just rights should be made apparent so that money may not be spent by any one of them, and afterwards proved to be improperly applied. I hope that my honorable friends representing the Government in this Chamber will take care to inform their colleagues in the Cabinet of the position of this great question, and that some steps will be taken with a view to prevent any change in the situation until the rights of all the States interested are finally determined.
– I was a member of the committee which inquired into the scheme to which the honorable senator has referred. The object is to divert some of the flood waters from the Goulburn River to the Mallee country. First of all the water is to be diverted during flood time into a large storage basin and drawn off from that basin when the river falls. We cannot touch the river waters below a certain level.
– I am very much obliged to the honorable senator for the information. I do not wish to go into the details of the matter, but I am quite sure from what my honorable friend has said that the Victorian authorities will be actuated by the same spirit of fairness that animates the other States, and that they will abstain from doing anything that will - I will not say irritate, but make the other States suspicious that their rights are being invaded, until some means are provided of determining the whole question.
– That aspect of the matter was discussed by the committee from time to time.
– I am very pleased to hear it. I should like to refer to one other matter to which allusion has been made. It has been the subject of very full reference by several honorable senators. I refer to the position of the defence affairs of the Commonwealth. Of course, for us to talk on this subject at present is very much like beating the air. We have no Defence Act, and the whole system is, as Senator Sargood has stated, comparatively in a state of chaos. It is a thing of shreds and patches. It is a collection of remnants of which we have taken possession, not under any general defence scheme, but under the systems which previously existed in the States. This is very unsatisfactory, because it is impossible to deal effectively with details of expenditure which rest upon no uniform system whatever. The details of the Defence department Estimates covering an expenditure of £750,000, occupy something like 100 pages of the 232 which constitute the Estimates, and are presented to us in such a form that it is impossible to do justice in any way. I am entirely at one with those who say that this expenditure ought to be curtailed to the last farthing. I want efficiency, but not extravagant expenditure. If I am asked, however, whether it is possible to reconcile existing contradictions or to put matters upon something like a satisfactory basis, I say that it is not - short of doing what has been done in the other Chamber. I entirely concur with the action which has been taken there, namely, the reduction of the Estimates by a lump sum of £66,000 or £70,000. I do not see what else is to be done. Whilst I say this, however, I hold that every effort should be made to secure efficiency in connexion with the actual backbone of the system. This is not to be achieved by the accumulation of highsalaried and high-titled officers. It may be that it is impossible to adjust matters as they should be, and it may be that it is absolutely necessary to expend the £12,225 here provided for the Head-quarters Staff. The General Officer Commanding is not overpaid by one farthing, but there are a number of colonels and other high-titled officers whose positions I am really at a loss to understand. In addition to this, there is a staff in New South Wales which is to be maintained at an expense of £4,140; the Victorian staff is to cost £3,618; the Queensland staff, £2,759; the South Australian staff, £1,545; and the Western Australian and Tasmanian staffs, £1,340 each. Here we have an expenditure of nearly £27,000 upon Headquarters Staffs.
– The honorable senator has not reckoned in the allowances.
– No. I should like to see the pruning-knife applied with vigour in this and othersimilar directions. I find in one of the reports of the commission which sat some time ago, that a minority report signed by Colonel Templeton and Colonel Waddell called attention to the large number of officers who were really attached to a small permanent force. The gentlemen named expressed the opinion that that part of the Commonwealth Defence forces which consisted of permanent men would be a very small fraction of the whole, and that the appointment of so many officers was not warranted. I commend this to the consideration of honorable senators when we have the Defence Bill before us. I do not agree with the remarks of Senator Neild with reference to the necessity for some elaborate and continuous drill, such as is in vogue in the European armies. I am not at all in favour of that kind of drill. I do advocate discipline, but discipline does not necessarily involve very close attention to that kind of pipe-clay drill which, although very lovely, no doubt, on parade, has had its inefficiency demonstrated in South Africa. Although my honorable friend is a soldier, and I am not, I think that he fell into a mistake when he appealed to the Senate tosay whether they would pit the undrilled men of this country, even though they were fighting in defence of their own homes, against the highly-drilled forces of some European nation, armed with all the latest and most efficient instruments of destruction. My honorable friend forgets the lesson afforded by the South African campaign. The Boers were without drill - I will not say without discipline and preparation - and they gave us a lesson which we may well take to heart. If the Boers in South Africa in defence of their homes, and of what they believed to be their rights, were able to withstand the military power of the mightiest nation the world has ever seen, and to hold it at bay for three years with a considerable amount of success at greater or less intervals, I have perfect faith that the men of Australia, who come of the best blood on earth, and out-number the Boers ten times, will be- able to give a good account of any enemy and to defend their hearths and homes, not for two and a half years, but successfully for all time. So much for drill and discipline. In conclusion, I desire to say that if there is one thing more than another upon which we as members of this Chamber may congratulate ourselves at the close of this long session, it is the position which has been taken up, and which is now occupied, by the Senate. I feel more proud of being a member of the Senate at the close of the session than I was when I entered it. I do not think it is necessary that the Senate should be assertive. I think it should simply be firm. I feel that the Senate has shown that firmness without any approach to assertiveness. I do not speak of the Senate as having strengthened itself, or as having enlarged its powers. It has no need to enlarge its powers ; they are sufficiently large under the Constitution. Further, it has no need to strengthen its position, because so long as it exerts its powers with firmness it must always satisfy the requirements of its own existence. For my part, I hope that, without exceeding by one hair’s breadth the just limits of the powers given to it by the Constitution, but by maintaining the position which it has held during this long session, it will fulfil in the highest degree the conception of the framers of the Constitution, and’ that it will take that great part in building up the fortunes of this Australian Commonwealth which all expect of it.
– The remarks which I have to make upon this subject will be very brief. In the first place, I wish to indorse the attitude taken up by Senator Pulsford concerning the unwisdom of the action of the Minister for Trade and - Customs in instituting police court prosecutions against certain trading firms in Melbourne, and I would recommend the Ministers representing the Government in this Chamber to ask their colleague to exercise greater discretion than has hitherto characterized his administration. I am informed that many firms have been dragged before the court in Victoria whose names are household words for probity, honour, and integrity. For some error that has been made in the passing of entries, these firms have been prosecuted and treated as criminals. I say that there are means of dealing with these people without having recourse to such an outrageous proceeding. I want to tell the Postmaster-General that when the present Treasurer was administering in Victoria a far more stringently protective Tariff than that of the Commonwealth, he rarely found it necessary to institute legal proceedings against firms in the manner in which the present Minister for Trade and Customs has done. If the Postmaster-General- desires further information upon the subject, he can obtain it from the present Chairman of Committees, Senator Best, who occupied the office of Commissioner of Customs in this State for nearly six years, and who, in the administration of that department, had to contend with difficulties just as great as those which beset the present Commissioner. The testimony which has been brought forward by representatives from New South Wales discloses facts which are not creditable to the administration of the Customs department.
– The honorable senator is biased against the Ministry!
– I retort that Senator Higgs is biased in favour of the Ministry. Regarding the statement of Senator Neild, it appears to me that there are grounds for condemning the extravagant Estimates which have been submitted in connexion with the Defence department. I was very much impressed with the remarks of Senator Symon when comparing the operations of the Imperial troops in South Africa with those of an undisciplined body like the Boers. If a large Imperial force could be successfully resisted for two or three years by bodies of apparently unskilled men, surely it is within the power of the Commonwealth to devise means for the defence of Australia, which will not involve such an expensive outlay as is now proposed. I would point out that the huge expenditure of £750,000 upon defence represents about 8 per cent, of our entire revenue. Such a sum seems to be extravagantly high, and I think that it might well be reduced to 2£ or 5 per cent. In his remarks this afternoon Senator Gould referred to the proposal of the Victorian Government to divert certain waters from the Murray. I hardly think that he can be thoroughly acquainted with the true facts of the case. Does the honorable and learned senator know that for the part fifteen years there has existed upon the Goulburn River, at a place called Wahring, a weir from which the waters of that river have been diverted into the Waranga basin? All that the Victorian Government now propose is the enlargement of the Waranga reservoir for the utilization of the flood waters of the River Goulburn. At’ the present time a certain quantity of the waters of the Goulburn flows into Waranga. The remainder is used by the farmers in that neighbourhood, and allowed to flow down the river. The land-holders between Waranga and the junction of the Murray would be the first to complain if the Government attempted to divert more of the waters of the Goulburn than they could reasonably expect to use. Of course, when the Goulburn is in flood no one would object to the diversion of a larger volume from the river, because such a step would benefit the farmers by preventing their lands from being inundated. Before Senator Gould accuses the Victorian Government of committing an unneighbourly act he ought to make himself acquainted with the real facts. I recollect that this very question was discussed in the Federal Convention, and it was then pointed out that the reasonable use of the waters of the rivers for irrigation purposes would be continued. There is not an inch of the Goulburn River in any State other than Victoria, and the point at which its waters are diverted is situate. about 25 miles from “its junction with the Murray. It seems to me that the Victorian Government are doing only what is reasonable, and I do not think that senators from New South Wales and South Australia should interpret their action as being in any way unfriendly. This afternoon Senator Symon spoke of the undue length of the present session. But I would point out that that result has been largely brought about by the inordinate length of the speeches of honorable senators. I have been a member of Parliament since 1864 or 1865, and I can honestly say that the speeches delivered in both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament have been of quite unnecessary length. Member after member rises merely to repeat what his predecessor has said.
– How did the honorable senator prevent that when he was President of the Legislative Council of Victoria ?
- Senator Higgs has been as great a transgressor in this connexion as any member of the Senate. I make this statement in a perfectly friendly spirit. If honorable senators desire to shorten the length of the session it is in their power to do so. To my mind, apart from Ministers and the leader of the Opposition, no speech ought to exceed half-an-hour or an hour in delivery. If senators cannot say all that they desire to say within that period they ought not to speak at all. I am quite sure that if every one adopted the practice of making only short speeches, an all-round advantage would be conferred, and the reputation of this Chamber would be considerably enhanced. Coming to the question of the Tariff, I think we may congratulate ourselves that it has been framed upon fair lines. Of course, the difficulties of the task were very great owing to the conflicting interests of the six States of the Union. On the one hand we had the extreme free-trade interests of New South Wales, and on the other the heavilyprotected interests of Victoria. To a great degree these differences have been reconciled. I think that honorable senators will admit that, under the circumstances, we have done the best we could, ‘and I trust that in the future the Tariff will prove a source of benefit and consolation to the different States.
– The present is the first opportunity that has been afforded the Senate of discussing the financial proposals of the Government other than those of taxation with the fullest data before it. In these Estimates , we have to debate not only the cost of the transferred departments, but also the “ new “ expenditure and other matters which at the present time are of very great importance. At the outset I desire to congratulate the Treasurer upon the extremely lucid manner in which he has placed before us these very complicated proposals. The papers which he has circulated in connexion with his Budget statement are the result of a very considerable amount of trouble and care, and any honorable senator who desires to understand the financial position of the Commonwealth can do so by studying those papers. The statements which they contain are particularly necessary just now when it behoves us to scrutinize with the greatest possible care every expenditure that is proposed. The -States have to look to the Commonwealth for the principal portion of their revenue, and we must also bear in mind that four or five of them are faced with very large deficits.
– That is nothing new.
– But the deficits are now of a more aggravated nature than they were previously. Simultaneously Australia has been afflicted with one of the most appalling and devastating droughts recorded in its history. It is therefore incumbent upon us to exercise every possible economy consistent with efficiency. It is only by that means that we can refute the attacks upon the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth which are emanating from every portion of Australia, and justify the establishment of federation by proving to the people that it has not cast an undue burden upon them. Whilst I think that the taxation levied by the Government is of a more burdensome character than is necessary–
– It was not levied by the Government, but by the Parliament.
– It was imposed by a majority of the Parliament. At the same time, I think that the expenditure in some directions might be curtailed. The Treasurer has pointed out that in spite of increased taxation the Commonwealth Government are returning to the States Treasurers more revenue from customs than they were accustomed to receive prior to the establishment of the Federation. I contend that we ought not to view this matter merely from the point of view of the States Treasurers. We ought to regard it from the stand-point of the people. In this connexion I would point out that during the last two years, in order to discharge the ordinary functions of government, we have levied increased taxation upon the people to the extent of- £1,200,000, of which £245,500 has been derived from the taxation of the imports of States Governments. Nearly the whole of this increased taxation has been spent either by the Commonwealth, or by the States after it has been returned to them by the Commonwealth. Very little of the money has been spent on reproductive works. If we estimate the cost of federation, I think we may say that it is the extra amount of taxation which the people have been called upon to pay as a direct result of the Union. If we look at the matter from that point of view, we see that the increased taxation has been £1,200,000, or 6s. 2d. per head for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The Treasurer has painted out that the expenditure resulting solely from federation during the years 1901-2 was ls. Id. per head, and that for the year 1902-3 it is ls. 4£d. per head. In my opinion, that is not a correct way of looking at the matter. In the first place, if we desire to ascertain the increased cost of federation by the expenditure, we must ascertain whether the departments transferred to the Commonwealth have been managed as cheaply as they were managed previously by the States. If we find that these departments have been managed more expensively, we must add the extra cost to the new expenditure, and regard the total as the cost of federation. If the proposals of the Government, as laid before the House, had been carried out, the increased taxation would have been still further augmented by at least £1,000,000. It is impossible to say what the Tariff, as originally introduced to the House of Representatives, would have brought in as revenue ; but if we confine ourselves to the articles which have been placed on the free list, I am safe in saying that the taxation of the Commonwealth has been reduced by at least £1,000,000. By placing tea and kerosene on the free list, taxation was saved to an amount of between £450,000 and £500,000, whereas if all the duties proposed had been levied, the increased taxation would have meant lis. 4d. per head. Unfortunately, the operation of the Tariff has been most inequitable, and the whole of this increased taxation has been . paid by New South Wales and Western Australia. The increased taxation paid by New South Wales, as the result of the Tariff, is £1,500,000, and that by Western Australia £226,000, while the other States in the aggregate have been taxed to a lesser extent than previously by £500,000. In addition, the returns from the Post and Telegraph department during the last two years show an increase of £200,000, of which £118,050 was drawn as revenue from the States themselves, owing to the fact that the States Governments have now to pay for their postage and telegrams.
– The States have not yet begun to pay.
– I am now speaking of the Estimates for 1902-3 as laid before Parliament by the Treasurer. I quite agree, of course, that the States Governments should pay for their postage and telegrams, but we are receiving a much greater amount of revenue than was paid by the taxpayers prior to federation. Then the Government proposed to float a loan of £1,000,000, portion of which was to be spent on telegraph and telephone works, the rest being devoted mostly to palatial additions to post-offices. For instance, additions to the Sydney Post-office were to cost £12,500; to the Newcastle office, £1-1,000 ; and to the -Brisbane office, £25.000, the latter being only an instalment of a proposed expenditure of £1 25,000.
– That is not on the Estimates now.
– I am speaking of the Loan Bill as originally proposed by the Government, and trying to point .out what would have been expended if the proposal had been accepted. A telephone from Sydney to Melbourne was estimated to cost £50,000, an expenditure which I should regard as a mere waste of money on a useless work. A metallic circuit for the Sydney Telephone Exchange was estimated to cost £54,000, and a switchboard at Sydney, £30,000, though the present board has been in use for only two years. “When I was in Sydney I was shown the switchboard, and told what an up-to-date appliance it was, and how splendidly it worked. It is a switchboard much more modern and better than that in use in Melbourne, and yet the proposal was to spend money on a renewal which, I suppose, would be described as a reproductive work. I think it will be admitted that the Government proposals for raising revenue have been excessive, and if they had been carried out, would have brought the Commonwealth into discredit. But Parliament has reduced the proposals very considerably, and, as I pointed out, brought them within reasonable bounds. It is obvious that if we want to make a comparison of the working expenses of the transferred departments during the three years 1 900-3, we must eliminate all public works - and buildings, the cost of which varies in amount, and has no connexion with the working expenses of the services. Deducting the cost of public works and buildings, I find that in 1900-1 the cost of the administration of the transferred services of Customs, Defence, Post and Telegraph, was £3,298,000. In 1901-2 the cost had increased to £3,452,000 ; and in 1902-3 the estimate is £3,490,000. In 1901-2 the increase in the cost of the management [of these departments, as compared with that of the previous year, was £154,755, and the cost in 1902-3, as compared with that of 1901-2, showed an increase of £192,SS3.
– Does the honorable senator not see that the latter amount includes works which were not included before 1
– The Postmaster-General is under a mistake. I have eliminated all moneys voted for and spent on works, and the information I am giving was received from the Secretary to the Treasury.
– What is the cause of the increase ?
– That is what I intend -to tell honorable senators. Eliminating the cost of all the public works proposed this year, we have the working expenses left, and I have shown that each year there was a large increase. I now desire to show, to a certain extent, how that increase has been caused. No doubt much of the increase is the result of legislation rather than of administration. For instance, the estimated annual loss caused by the minimum wage clause in the Public Service. Act is £47,719 per annum. In Victoria and New South Wales, the State reclassification of the public service previous to federation resulted in an increased expenditure of £15,000, while the ordinary annual increments amounted to £25,000. We can, therefore, say that of the £192,000, £76,000 is caused by legislation, £40,000 of which is the result of the legislation of the States, and £30,000 as the result of the legislation of the Commonwealth. This increased expenditure would have been very much greater if the original proposals of the Government had been adopted. In the Estimates for 1901-2, a sum of £170,212 was struck off the Defence vote; £3,000 was struck off the vote for the Crown Solicitor, together with £1,490 for an Inter-State Commission, and £500 for the Corowa memorial, which, I suppose, was intended to immortalize some local potentate. On the Estimates for 1902-3 we find that a reduction of £100 has been made in the salary of a clerk in the Department for Home Affairs ; that an item of £32,000 for telephone switchboards has been struck out ; and that the Defence vote has been reduced by £62,000. All these reductions on the cost of the management of the transferred departments show a total of £269,300. If. the Estimates, as introduced, had been agreed to by Parliament, the increased expenditure for the two years would have been £461,300. I understand that next session the Government will propose an addition of £94,000 to the naval vote. I want now, for a few moments, to speak of the new expenditure, which has already reached the very large sum of £313,930, and is solely and exclusively the result of federation.
– That includes arrears, and the real figure is £295,000.
– I was about to mention that fact. Various sums have to be deducted, such as, for instance, the cost of the administration of New Guinea, and the non-recurring expenditure on the Royal visit and the Coronation. Under the head of new expenditure, I put the cost of federation at £265,873, on which sum the Treasurer based his estimate of ls. 4id. per head. If we add £152,833, the increased expenditure on the transferred services, we find that the total increase, as the result of federation, is £418,756, or 2s. 4d. per head, instead of ls. 4£d. as estimated by the Treasurer. If we judge federation by increased taxation, it has cost the people 6s. 2d. per head, but if we judge by the increased expenditure, it has cost 2s. 2d. per head. But this new expenditure is not going to stop here. It must largely develop. For instance, next year I believe we shall have a proposal to create a Federal High Court at an estimated cost of £30,000 ; an Inter-State Commission at an estimated cost of £5,000-
– The honorable senator knew of all these things when he was advocating federation.
– I am not objecting to this expenditure ; I am endeavouring simply to point out what will be the increases in the new expenditure when these various services have been inaugurated.
– The High Court will cost a little over £19,000, not £30,000.
– It is estimated that the cost of the High Court and everything associated with it will be £30,000 per annum. The estimated cost of the Inter-State Commission is £5,000 per annum ; the estimated cost of the High Commissioner, together with his office and staff) £10,000 ; and the estimated cost of the federal elections, £60,000. Spread over three years the cost of the federal elections will be £20,000 per annum : and taking a very low estimate, the cost of the expert inspection of the federal capital sites will be £2,000. This will bringup the new expenditure to £333,000 per annum. It has to be remembered that at the Adelaide Convention the estimate of the new expenditure of the Commonwealth was £300,000 ; but when all the services have been established, I do not think it will be less than £ 3 3 3, 000 per annum. There are various other proposed services, such as those relating to quarantine, harbors, lights and buoys, patents office, astronomical and meteorological stations, a census and statistical department ; conciliation and arbitration boards, and other matters, which will involve large expenditure. Some of these will be merely transferred services ; but others will undoubtedly entail considerable new expenditure.
– Did the honorable senator point out all these things when he urged the people of Western Australia to join in the Federation ?
– Yes. But I am glad to say that they were so impregnated with the federal spirit that they were willing to enter the Federation in spite of the expenditure which it would involve. I am not complaining of this expenditure. I am endeavouring simply to point out what the new expenditure is likely to be, in order to urge the Senate to use every endeavour to minimize it as much as possible. I must admit that I view with a considerable amount of apprehension the increase that is taking place in what we term “ new “ expenditure and especially in regard to the Department for Home Affairs. That department is already managed at an estimated cost for this year of £74,414 ; but it must be borne in mind that that is not the present annual expenditure. Many of the offices, in connexion with the department, have been created only during the present year ; and many officers have been engaged during the currency of the year. Therefore the full cost is not included in the sum I have named, and the present annual cost of the department is considerably in excess of £74,414. The department is increasing at an enormous rate. It is spreading all over the Commonwealth. We are to have clubs in each of the State capitals for the use of members of the Parliament.
– That statement is absolutely without foundation.
– I heard the Minister for Home Affairs state, in his Ministerial capacity in the House of Representatives, that he was providing rooms in each of the States capitals for the use of honorable members.
– We cannot call rooms “ clubs.”
– I presume that clubs consist of rooms %
– But rooms are not clubs.
– The South Australian Government have offered us the use of a room in Adelaide.
– There is absolutely no occasion for these rooms. W e desire to see these departments managed as efficiently and economically as possible, and there is no reason why we should allow this unnecessary expenditure to be incurred. It must mean a corresponding reduction in the amount returned to the various States, which are so much in need of revenue at the present time. Offices connected with the Department for Home Affairs are spreading over the Commonwealth like the tentacles of an octopus. Almost every week we hear of some ‘new department which is to be created under it. The Department of Public Works is, I consider, an unnecessary piece of extravagance. We have a Department of Public Works in each of the States, and it is competent for the Commonwealth to utilize the services of the men engaged in those departments to carry out Commonwealth as well as States works. It must be remembered that these men, prior to federation, carried, out exactly the same work as they would be asked to do for the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator did not use that argument when he advocated the appointment of a public service commissioner and inspectors.
– That was a piece of gross extravagance.
– That was simply a matter of administration. I wished to see no political interference with the service. The Commonwealth Public Works department is estimated to cost this year £5,267, but the Treasurer said in his Budget speech that it was not yet fully established. When it is in full working order, perhaps, according to the views of the Minister for Home Affairs, it may cost £10,000 or £15,000. I do not desire’ to take up any more time. I think I have said sufficient to show that the original proposals of the Government would have enormously increased the cost of administering the transferred services ; that they would have enormously increased the new expenditure, and that their proposals in regard to revenue would have taken at least £1,000,000 more out of the pockets of the taxpayers than was previously taken. I contend that we should use every endeavour to cut down any expenditure which we consider to be extravagant, unnecessary, or premature.
– Point out one or two such items in the Estimates.
– I am not going at this stage to make a committee speech. It is not the province of any honorable senator to go into the details of any Bill in a second-reading speech, but when we get into committee I dare say I shall satisfy my honorable friend by pointing out certain items in which very considerable reductions might be made. We should not establish any service - or be a party to any expenditure - which is not absolutely necessary. We know that if we are guilty of extravagance, we shall be censured, and justly censured, by the people of Australia. At the present time we have many hostile critics, in all parts of Australia, pointing out alleged extravagances committed by the Federal Government, and if we do not wish to bring federation into disrepute, if we do not desire to accentuate the alarming deficit of the States, and if we do not wish to increase the financial burdens of the people of Australia, we should go carefully through this Bill, and eliminate every item that is not absolutely necessary for the proper carrying on of the work of the Commonwealth.
– I shall do what I can, consistently with my duty, to bring the session to »a close this week. But might I suggest that the session is going to close a week too soon, for we certainly have not time to devote the care, thought, and attention to these Estimates that they demand ? It appears to me that the Federal Parliament will, at no distant date, be accused of extravagance ; and, however eloquent honorable senators may be, I do not think we shall be able to get rid of that charge. My earnest hope is that the reform movement which has done such good work in Victoria will permeate through all the States. I earnestly hope that the electors will recollect that they have the privileges of a democracy ; that they will here after take a greater interest in the government of the Commonwealth, and that they will see that honorable senators do not merely talk retrenchment, but act in accordance with their principles. I have been to some extent disappointed with the debate, so far as it has gone, because honorable senators who have spoken seem to think that the Defence Estimates are the most important to be considered. It was quite reasonable that one or two honorable senators who have made a study of defence matters should have given us their views upon the Defence Estimates, but every honorable senator who has spoken has indicated that, he considers that the Defence Estimates constitute the most important business before us. I think we are greatly indebted to Senator Smith - who I know has been working like a Trojan, and with some good result - for the facts and figures which he has given to us.
– Which he has misquoted.
– He may have gone a little wrong in some directions, but those who have looked into the figures must realize that he will be able - and that the electors will be able - to sheet home to this
Parliament the charge of reckless extravagance at the inception of the Commonwealth. I feel very strongly about this matter, and I propose to deal very shortly with a few subjects which have to do with economy. I shall not deal with them as fully as I had intended to do, because Senator Smith has saved me the trouble. I have here a copy of the estimate made by Mr., now Sir Frederick, Holder, and used at the Adelaide Convention, of the expenses of the Federation. They showed that the expenses of federation might fairly , be estimated at £300,000. Out of that sum, provision was made for £52,500 in respect of interest on the cost of public buildings - which have not yet been erected, because we have not yet chosen the federal capital - and a margin of £54,000 was also allowed.
– For how many States did that estimate provide ?
– For the whole six.
– It did not allow for Queensland joining the Federation.
– Nor did it allow for Western Australia joining the Union. It was made in 1897.
– It is a document which has. been frequently quoted. It is the basis upon which we have been working. I have heard Ministers - and also Senator Keating in his able defence of Ministers - state again and again that the expenses of the Federation had not yet reached the estimate of £300,000 formed at the Adelaide Convention.
– That estimate was for the smaller Federation.
– What I desire to point out is that the margin of £54,000 has absolutely disappeared ; that there is no room for any interest whatever in respect of the cost of public buildings ; that we were to keep within that mark, and that we have now a new expenditure of about £295,000. So far as I understand the figures, I add £24,000 for the High Court, £8,000 for the High Commissioner and his office, and £8,000 for the Inter-State Commission, which brings up the total expenditure to nearly £350,000. If we add to that the £52,000 for interest, which was Sir Frederick Holder’s moderate estimate, we have a total approaching £450,000, which, within a very short time, will be the cost of federation. But, as Senator Smith has pointed out, we ought to add to that amount the £51,000 which our Public Service Act has added to the increments of the civil service.
– The honorable and learned senator has made a mistake of £50,000. .
– That is nothing. The honorable and learned senator is dealing only with generalities.
– The new expenditure will shortly amount to nearly £450,000 per annum, if we add to the amounts I have named the £51,000 per annum which represents the cost of the minimum wage provision in the Public Service Act. I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he now can justify the creation of the Public Service department. It is costing us now £15,000 per annum - more than the cost of the Treasury, more than the cost of the Audit-office, more than that of almost any other department that can be named, with the exception of the Defence department That large expenditure is being incurred in managing the civil servants in three departments in each State. The service was fairly well managed in years past in the States where Civil Service Boards were in existence, and everything went on smoothly. Here we find ourselves appointing a Public Service Commissioner, five inspectors, seventeen clerks, and incurring an expenditure of thousands of pounds for contingencies, in order to manage this department. I deem it my duty to ask my brother senators, and I hope I shall have the assistance of Senator Stewart and his honorable friends in the labour corner, to respectfully request the other Chamber to reduce this department. So far from pushing Ministers, as Senators Glassey and Smith have appeared to do, into stating a time when the Public Service Act will be proclaimed, and urging them to grant the ‘increases provided for to officers in the transferred departments, as from the 1st July last, I warn and request them to do nothing of the kind. I urge them on the contrary not to proclaim the Act until we know how we stand financially, arid until we see that we really have the money to pay the £50,000, together with all the other new expenses, and at the same time give back to the States the funds which they require to carry on their Governments, if they are to remain in a state of solvency. I am at a loss to understandhow these Estimates can have been passed by the Cabinet. I cannot conceive how, with a commissioner and a staff of five inspectors, we can possibly require a chief clerk at £600, a registrar, and twelve or fourteen other clerks. The Public Service departments in the different States must have had some kind of register of every man employed in them. These have all to be copied and signed, and it appears that seventeen clerks are necessary to do the work. I never saw such extravagance in connexion with Estimates before. We shall, in my opinion, be failing in our duty if we do not in some way request as firmly as we can that this department shall be cut down. Now I come to the Department of Public Works, and here I ask myself : Are we proceeding on business-like lines? Is not the Commonwealth composed of six States 1 We know . that it is, and yet we are trying to ignore the existence of those States and to ignore the existence of the Public Works offices they have established and the trained architects and builders who have served them for years past in the construction of public buildings. Here we have the Minister for Home Affairs saying that he cannot get his work done through those departments, and he cannot be responsible for the federal Department of Public Works unless he has the control of the officers, and has a supervising officer in each State to see that his work is properly done. Is that the way to bring about economy ? Is that the way to work harmoniously with the States Governments, to keep the wheels going round properly, and start this machine in a proper manner ? Is it possible to conceive that anybody agrees with the Minister for Home Affairs when he says that the Public Works departments of the States cannot be trusted to put up a post-office here, a custom-house there, or to carry out additions to buildings in another State. The tiling is perfectly monstrous. Here we are told that an InspectorGeneral of Works at £1,000 a year is necessary. What is he to do ? Is he to be a kind of galloping engineer, architect, and builder going about from State to State to see that such work as the construction of a post-office, costing £1,000, is carried out in a proper manner 1 We know that the clerk of works, who is present while the building is being constructed, and sees brick laid upon brick, and stone upon stone, will know more about it than can this wonderful Inspector-General of Works at a salary of £1,000. I shall be very glad if my honorable friends in the labour corner, oi” in any other corner of the Chamber, will join with me in a request to another place, not only to reduce the vote for this department, but to knock it out altogether.
– We have passed the Bill, and we should abide by the consequences.
– I am talking now of the Public Works department, and not of the Public Service department. But I may say that I absolutely disagree with my honorable friend, Senator Pearce. We have passed the Bill, but if by so doing we find that we have made a mistake, it is our duty to the electors not to persist in that mistake for the sake of a little popularity. What a monstrous thing it is when the reform movement is bound to go from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, and when the State public servants are being retrenched and dismissed, that we should be here absolutely increasing at a rate never before attempted in any public or private office the salaries of the junior federal service.
– What does the honorable and learned senator mean by increasing the salaries of the junior federal service ?
– We are increasing the salaries of the junior federal service by providing that every youth or young woman who enters one of our departments and remains in the service for three years shall, at 21 years of age, get £2 2s. per week, which is a greater salary than perhaps half of the bread-winners of the whole island are receiving, though each may have a wife and five or six children to keep.
– “ King Charles’ head,” again.
– No; it is not “King Charles’ head,” it is the reform movement. It is sound finance, and it is carrying out our duty to the electors.
– We should abolish all Governors.
– Senator Stewart may do as he pleases. If he brings a little common sense into his proposals I shall be with him, but if he does not I shall be against him. I should like to say a few words about the Defence, department. I think it is very unwise for us to be hacking away week after week at the Defence Estimates when we have not yet settled what the defence policy of the Commonwealth is to be. We have imported at great cost, but not at too great a cost considering his experience, an absolutely up-to-date and skilled officer, in whom we all have the greatest confidence. But instead of allowing him to lay down some plan of defence in conference with his officers and the Cabinet, then embodying that policy in a Bill, .and afterwards shaping our Estimates to carry out that policy, Ministers are allowing honorable members in another place to hack about the Defence Estimates when nobody knows the form of defence up to which we desire to lead. The plan adopted has been to say, “ Here is a big department ; we must cut it down b)’ rule of thumb.” I cannot join with Senator Symon in being particularly proud of what* the Senate has done. I do not say it has done badly, but I say that we have no occasion to pat ourselves upon the back. This Chamber has been placed in an unfair position. It has had its power weakened, because certain measures have come here, not according to the policy of the Government, but according to the policy of a majority in another place to whom the Government have given way. Therefore, when matters are introduced here, although they are contrary to the Government policy, we have found that we have been in a hopeless minority, and honorable senators have not taken the interest in matters which the)’ should have taken had Ministers adhered to their policy, and had they not given up everything, in the other Chamber. As I understand it, Ministers ask us to pass these Estimates practically without making a single request. Is that what we are here for? It is obviously an advantage to close this session to-morrow or next day; but, as I have said before, we are asked to dp in three or four days what it should take us a fortnight to do. I should be inclined to say that retrenchment in this Defence department ought to some extent to cease, until we have a proper policy of defence for the Commonwealth. If there are, as I understand there are, some officers on the staffs who are not required, in mercy alike to the officers who are to remain, and to those who are to go, they should be informed of the position, and we should give them all the time we possibly can to look out for other employment. But I do not think Ministers should be bound by the promise made in another place to reduce these Estimates by £62,000. They must keep that promise if the Senate agrees with it. But I think something should be done to show that we do not agree with it, and to show that we do not agree with a policy of hacking away the Estimates of any department unless we know exactly what we are doing, and the principle upon, which we are proceeding. I see that where the services of members of the Defence Force are being dispensed with, the Government are laying down a policy under which they are to receive compensation. I desire to ask Senator O’Connor if the Government, at the dictation of a party in another Chamber, are. prepared to go the length of dismissing officers in department after department, and giving them a month’s salary for every year of service 1 Are we prepared to continue the same system of compensation hereafter to all federal public servants who may be dispensed with ? Because, if we are not, we shall be doing a wrong in this case. However much we may sympathize with these defence officers who are to be dispensed with, we cannot, I take it, give them any greater consideration than we shall be prepared to give to the general body of our public servants. I, therefore, object upon two grounds to this drastic retrenchment, repeated again and again, in the Defence department, before we have a Defence Act before us, or know what we are doing. If these men are to be dispensed with, they should be given full notice. I take it that some of them are skilled officers who have a few more years of work in them, and there is no reason why they should not be dispensed with a few at a time. We should not do an injustice in order to carry out whims and fancies, and then do a gross wrong to the rest of the public service by voting them money upon no principle whatever.
– The honorable and learned senator would cut off the dog’s tail a joint at a time.
– I should try and do it as mercifully as I could, but the illustration is rather a bad one- Honorable senators will be able to estimate the drastic character of the retrenchment proposed in connexion with the Defence department when they learn that the Estimates for the Defence departments of the various States immediately before federation amounted to £789,000. So that, as a consequence of adopting the proposal made in another place that Ministers shall cut down these Estimates to £700,000, we are going nearly £100,000 below the sum voted for their Defence departments by the individual States.
– The honorable and learned senator is taking the last year’s Estimates of the States.
– I pointed out to my electors that the Defence department was one in which they might expect the cost to be raised, because I saw at once that we could never go on pretending to be loyal subjects of Great Britain while giving a paltry £106,000 a year for the auxiliary squadron. We shall, I hope, soon have to vote, and I hope we shall do so cheerfully and willingly, £200,000 a year at least for the purpose, and that will be a paltry and miserable allowance too.
– Make it £500,000.
– I may tell my honorable friend, Senator Stewart, who does not believe in empire, or in fact anything but. ultra-democracy, that our fair share of contribution, according to population and commerce, is 5,000,000. Instead of £5,000,000 we are paying £106,000, and I agree with Senator Sargood that a better bargain by way of defence was never made.
– Salaries of £2 2s. a week for public servants, and £5,000,000 for naval defence.
– I am telling my honorable friends what our contribution should be according to population and according to our interest in the Empire’s commerce. Here I should like to say that, much as I admire the industry of Senator Matheson in preparing the figures which he gave us yesterday, I cannot look at the question of defence apart from’ the Empire, and how he can do so, as he seems to have done, I cannot imagine.
– The honorable senator did not do so.
– The honorable senator confined his remarks to the question of the defence of Australia, while I look upon the defence of Australia as but a small part of the defence of the Empire.
– The honorable senator also said as a part of the Empire. ‘
– If he did it was in a very half-hearted way. I hope I am not misrepresenting the honorable senator, because he is not here to reply, but I think I can say that Senator Sargood and I understood him to contend that we should pay far more attention to Australia. He told us that we must have . a third-class cruiser, and that, to my mind, is absolute nonsense.
– Of the type of the Highflyer, I think he said.
– I do not care of what type. That is not the way to prepare for the defence of the shores of Australia or the commerce of Australia. I should like to ask Senator O’Connor one or two questions bearing upon those which I asked him this afternoon. I was very much astonished at the cases which Senator Gould brought before us concerning the prosecutions which took place in Sydney under the Customs Act. I am only referring to this matter - we have had almost too much of it lately, although the discussions do not seem to have made much impression upon the Minister for Trade and Customs - because I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council why he did not answer my question. The question was - In what cases, if any, does the Minister for Trade and Customs intend in future to adjudicate under the 265th section of the Customs Act 1 That section says that when a contravention of the Act takes place, and a dispute arises between the Customs officers and the importer, if the importer consents in writing, the Minister may determine it. If ever there was a case which never ought to have gone into court - a case in regard to which that section of the Act ought to have been carried out - because the 265th section was put in the Act for the express purpose of enabling such cases to be settled by the Minister - that mentioned by Senator Gould was such an one. It was the case of a man who had made a mistake by adding up a column in French, instead of English, money. He admitted the error, but the Collector of Customs in Sydney - poor man ! - said that he could do nothing, although it was a palpable mistake upon the face of it. When the case came before the Minister for Trade and Customs he insisted on a prosecution taking place. Almost the first words used by the prosecuting counsel engaged by the Customs department were to inform the court that he recognised that only a clerical error had been committed, and that there had been no attempt whatever to defraud the revenue. Can any one say that that is the way in which the Customs Act should be administered ? When in office in Tasmania, as I was for only a short period, I got behind the scenes somewhat, and saw the various dodges resorted to for defrauding the revenue of Customs duties. I quite admit that Mr. Kingston has a very hard task to perform in preventing the revenue from being defrauded, and the department from being “got at.” We can all admire him for putting all the importers upon the same footing, and showing no favour to any one whatever. But if he knows, and his officers are satisfied, that it is absolutely and purely a clerical error that has been committed, what justification is there for bringing the importer to court? Why cannot the Minister carry out the section of the Act to which I have referred, and which was put in for the express purpose I have mentioned ? Why cannot he administer it himself, and, if necessary, fine the importer for the error that has been made ? If he wants the world to know what he is doing - and I think the world ought to know - let him have an announcement put in the newspapers the next morning to the effect that, say, the first firm in the land has been fined £2 for making a clerical error in an entry.
– The section provides that the proceedings must be open to the press.
– The Minister could hear such cases in his office every morning, and the press could go in and report whatever took place. But- there is a great difference between fining Senator Pearce £2 for making a clerical error, and bringing an action “Customs department versus Pearce,” in which the defendant is charged with making a false entry, found guilty and fined. My honorable and learned friend, the VicePresident of Executive Council, says that he did not bring before the Cabinet the ‘discussion which took place last week with regard to this matter. I feel somewhat disappointment on that account, because I gathered from what he said that he intended to bring the case before the Cabinet.’ But perhaps it is of no use for the Cabinet to discuss such matters. It looks rather like it to me. But I now ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether in his reply he will kindly inform me
I whether the Minister for Trade and
Customs will in future act under the 265th section of the Act ? If my honorable and learned friend will give a plain answer to that question I shall be much obliged.
-What I said was that the Cabinet had not considered it, not that it had not been brought before the Cabinet.
– Can my honorable and learned friend tell me whether the Minister will administer the section to which I have referred in the future?
– How can I tell ?
– I ask the question now as I asked a similar question last Friday, so that the Vice-President of the Executive Council may have ample time to answer it. Another thing which I should like to ask my honorable and learned friend is in regard to the rebate on sugar. When I was at Bundaberg I found that there was a complaint amongst the planters to this effect : Supposing they had planted sugar, employing black labour, and the plants remained in the ground, and the crop of cane was cut for five or six years, they said that they could never get the rebate, although after the planting they had employed white labour only upon their plantations. As I understand the answers given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to-day, they appear to me to be unsatisfactory. He says that the Cabinet or the Minister for Trade and Customs never considered, and do not intend to consider, the termination of the black labour agreements. But is that fair? Is it in accordance with the intentions of Parliament? If a man has employed 400 kanakas - and I saw 300 on one station and 400 on another - and if the agreement with those men does not end till December this year, and they have been engaged from June up to November - the planting time - in planting cane ; and if at the end of December every one of those kanakas is sent home and the agreement with them is at an end ; and if from December and for the next four, five, six or seven years while the cane remains in the ground it is cultivated and white labour only is employed according to the regulations, is it fair that the planter should never be able to get the promised rebate on the sugar produced from that cane? Is he to take the cane up and replant it in order to get the rebate?
– That would not do any harm in some cases.
– I understood that the honorable senator wanted to see sugar produced by white labour only in Queensland. If people do away with black labour forthwith, they should be able to take advantageof the rebate. We want to have the regulations framed and administered in a sympathetic way, so as to encourage growers to employ white labour. When the planters made to me the statements which I have made to the Senate, I could scarcely credit them, because I know that in spite of what the Vice-President of the Executive Council says to the contrary, that it is not in accordance with the will of Parliament, and is not carrying out the spirit of the Act, to refuse to pay the rebate to the planters who employ white labour forthwith. On the contrary, it is sticking to the letter of the Act in a very foolish, harsh, and cruel manner. I should like to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if that is really the position of the Government ? If these agreements do not terminate until December this year or next year, and the kanakas are kept there under their agreements, and the sugar cane is planted by them, then I contend that when the planting is over and the black men are gone, and the cane is grown and cultivated, and the sugar is produced purely by white labour, the growers are entitled to the rebate. . I have only a word or two to say about the proposed trip around the continent. I do not care whether it takes place or not, because I shall not be able to go. But I should like to help my honorable friends who can go to do so. Surely the matter is not worth all this discussion and trouble. What is the principle which should govern a trip of that sort ? When we come to this Chamber we are brought here by rail and by steamer free of expense, but when we get here are the people of the Commonwealth supposed to supply us with our whisky and our soda, our cigars, and our meals ? No ; we pay for them ourselves. Similarly, if honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives want to make a trip around the continent, let them go, and let the Government place a steamer at their disposal and pay for it. But let the members who go pay for their own cigars, and drink, and board, and do not let us have all this scandal - because there will be a scandal if what I suggest is not done, and rightly so. I have found that, whatever the principles which obtain in a democracy may be, the representatives of Che democracy understand how to take care of themselves./ Only a little while ago I read a sentence to the effect that members of Parliament have a tendency to entrench themselves in the enjoyment of the most wonderful perquisites and privileges, to which they are not entitled by the Constitution or by Act of Parliament. That sentence is absolutely true and correct. Honorable senators have only to look at what is going on in this very State to see what wonderful privileges, in the way of railway passes and otherwise, have been given to Members of Parliament.
– That has nothing to do with this Parliament.
– It has to do with the principle, and my honorable friend knows that privileges of this kind, like the scarlet fever, are catching. It is very nice, indeed, no doubt, to have such perquisites. An agitation was in progress up to the last week or so for the purpose of voting to Members of Parliament a higher salary than is paid to them under the Constitution. I hope we have heard the last of that suggestion. We should endeavour to work hand in hand with the States, and if an economical move- ment is going on in the States on account of a loss of revenue, we should endeavour to act in sympathy with it. Here I should like to ask whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council can inform me whether, in framing these Estimates, an attempt has been made to work with the States 1 Take printing, for instance. If honorable members’ will look at the Estimates, they will find that we have to pay no Government Printer at £1,000 a year, no head clerk at£600 a year and no foreman of works at £500 a year. They will find that what we have to pay are the wages of the compositors for setting up our printing matter. If we want to find out what the high officers who have to do with the printing are paid we have to turn to the State Estimates. There we have a most expensive department, about which I do not wish to say anything, because it renders grand service to the Commonwealth, for which we are much obliged to it. But there is a department in which we are working hand in hand with the States. Why can we not do the same in regard to Public Works and other departments ? Why cannot we recognise that the States mean the Commonwealth ? If we go on talking about setting up separate departments of bur own we shall, if we are not careful, 46 z carry out to the letter Mr. Philp’s description of the position - that federation is becoming unworkable on account of the enormous cost which it entails upon the citizens. I shall welcome heartily the report or advice of any financial experts who can show us the way in which we can hope to convert our State debts in such a way as to save a little money. I should like to see the 60 Australian stocks that are at present in existence converted into one. But from the little I know about the subject it will be a very difficult matter to take up. I doubt whether it will be possible for the Commonwealth to take up the loan of £5,000,000 which falls clue in the State of Victoria in January, ] 904. But I am hardly experienced enough to speak on that point.. We shall have to consult the best financiers with the view of framing a satisfactory scheme, and shall have to launch it at the psychological moment. It is perfectly apparent to me that if we were to launch it today it would be a gigantic failure, no matter how brainy were the experts who framed it. If we could launch it at a time when 2^ Consols were bringing in £113, as in 1897, we should have some chance of doing so successful! y. There is an admirable article in the Argus this morning dealing .with this important question, and it shows conclusively how even in these days the rate of interest has fallen time after time. In connexion with this point, I should like to call the attention of honorable senators to the price of the various stocks of the Empire, and to show them that the credit of Australia does not stand very high at present. I fancy that the reason of this is that the people in England are disappointed with the laws which our Federal Parliament have passed. I have not only read this in the newspapers, but have heard of it, and seen it in correspondence from men who know what they are writing about. But for the loyal service which the Australian States rendered to the mother country in the late war - but for our spending our blood and treasure to help them, and the loyalty and devotion . we showed - we should have heard still more about the dissatisfaction with some of the wretched, miserable sections we have put into our Acts of Parliament, and as a reason for which our credit is going down and down in the market. If honorable senators do not take my word for it let them look at the price of stocks. The last file of the Times which I got quoted the price of Consols 2¾ per cent. at 95¼.
– Does the honorable senator mean to compare English Consols with our stocks ?
– I have already mentioned the fact that Consols were formerly at £113 in order to show how the rate of interest goes up and down. Now they are at 95¼. Three per cent. Canadian debentures are at from £102 to £103. Cape 3 per cents. are from £97½ to £96, New Zealand 3 per cents. at £96¾, and Australian 3 per cents. at £95, £94, and £93½. Our securities stand below those of Canada, of the Cape, and of New Zealand.
– How is it that democracy has not depressed New Zealand securities?
– It may be that the democracy of New Zealand has more brains and common sense than that of Australia Besides, New Zealand is, for its size, the richest country in the world.
– Our debentures have always stood below those of Canada.
– But why should theystand below those of the Cape, which has just emerged from a terrible war, whose industrial and pastoral life has been upset, and whose lands have been denuded of their stock and are governed largely by Dutch ? It is because our legislation is unsound, and therefore cannot be progressive.
– When it is as progressive as that of New Zealand, will our stocks rise in value?
– Our stocks have always been lower than those of the countries named by Senator Dobson, but they are in no worse position than usual.
– Next to British consols they should be the best in the world.
– At any rate, federation has nothing to do with matter.
– The laws of the States have not been based upon principles of economy, and that is affectingour credit. In support of that statement I have referred to the newspaper articles which have been published on the subject, to the letters which have been written by men who are withdrawing their capital from Australia, or who will not send capital here, and to the price-lists of the stocks of the various parts of the Empire.
– Is the trouble due to Commonwealth or to State legislation ?
– In some degrees to both. Latterly it has been due to Commonwealth legislation.
– What Commonwealth legislation has sent out stocks down ?
– To a certain extent, our labour legislation. We did wrong in providing in our Post and Telegraph Act that black men shall not be employed on any mail steamer. Only a week later, the Orient Steam-ship Company announced to the world that itwould have to give up white stokers, because they could not stand the work.
– A provision to the same effect as that in the Post and Telegraph Act has been in force in Queensland for fifteen years.
– The minimum wage provisions of the Public Service Act have increased the expenditure of the Commonwealth by £51,000 a year, and the unwise legislation of Victoria in reference to the salaries of transferred officers, by an expenditure of £75,000 this year, and a future annual expenditure of £30,000.Legislation like that must do us harm at home. But what does us most harm is our overborrowing. Year after year the States have been borrowing to construct works which should have been paid for out of revenue. People at home naturally think that we know nothing about economy, and our credit, therefore, suffers. I am very glad that the House of Representatives decided that the expenditure of the Commonwealth upon public works this year shall be paid for out of revenue and not out of loan money. None of the States can so ill afford to construct works out of loans, even to the extent of £1,000, as can Tasmania ; but I shall, nevertheless, loyally support the decision of the House of Representatives. The floating of a Commonwealth loan for £500,000, chiefly to pay for the erection of new post-offices and additions to old ones, would be a very bad thing. I hope that in the future we shall construct most of pur works out ofrevenue. I have been requested by the Treasurer of Tasmania to ask that money for new switchboards and other works required by the State may not be voted, because they cannot be afforded, and should stand over for a time. I understand that Queensland is in much the same position.
– The matters which the honorable senator is now discussing are dealt with in a Bill which is not now before the House, the discussion of whose provisions we cannot anticipate.
– I wish only to say that if the States I have mentioned cannot afford to pay for certain public works, it will be a great mistake for the Commonwealth to vote the money for them, even on the understanding that it is not to be spent, because, once voted, no peace will be given to the members representing the districts interested until the works are carried out. The honest way of proceeding will be not to vote money for works which it is not intended to construct.
– I am not surprised that my honorable colleague, Senator Dobson, has taken this opportunity, which is possibly the last open to him this session, to launch a vigorous attack against legislation which he has so strenuously and unsuccessfully opposed, but I am surprised that he attributes what he conceives to be the unfortunate financial position of the States to that legislation. He has spokenat considerable length in regard to the advisableness of the Commonwealth utilizing the services of State officers for the performance of certain duties, and particularly for the construction of public works ; but is he aware that, since certain departments were transferred to, and have been administered by, the Commonwealth Government, they have often been compelled to depend upon the services of State officers; and, as a result, have, in several instances, been mulcted in charges for which the services rendered were altogether inadequate? A few weeks ago I moved that a return be laid upon the table, showing the claims made by the different States Governments, or departments of State Governments, upon the Federal Government, or any department of it, in respect to services alleged to have been rendered, specifying in each case whether the claim had been settled, was unsettled, or was in dispute. That return has not yet been prepared, but I understand from inquiries made in the proper quarter that the number of claims presented, and not yet settled owing to differences between the Commonwealth and the States Governments or departments concerned, is very large, and that as the collection of the information involves a considerable amountof labour, we cannot be put in possession of it for some considerable time. Under those circumstances I think we should be chary about entering further into a haphazard and loose system such as has been suggested by Senator Dobson. The Imperial Government was charged commission upon the equipment of certain troops or the purchase of stores sent to South Africa by one of the State Governments, and I believe that a similar attitude has been taken by some of the States in regard to the Commonwealth. Therefore, unless definite lines are laid down as to the terms upon which the services of officers of the States shall be obtained, it will be impossible to say to what expense the Commonwealth may not be subjected. The honorable senator, referring to the remarks of Senator Walker last night as to the advisability of consolidating and converting the State loans as soon as possible, said that he would welcome the advent of a financier who would successfully undertake such a herculean task, but that he thought that it could not be successfully undertaken for some time to come. He drew a gloomy but wholly imaginative picture of the position of the Commonwealth in the London money market, and spoke of it as the result of legislation to which he has already taken objection.
– And of over-borrowing.
– He told us of the articles which have been published in English newspapers on the subject of our legislation, but has he read those articles ?
– Then he knows that in nearly every instance they were written by persons who deliberately misrepresented our legislation, or were grossly ignorant of it. The description given in some of the English magazines of our antikanaka legislation would bear no other construction. I hope that when the States loans are consolidated, and the saving in interest of £500,000 spoken of by Senator Walker is made, Parliament will decide that no part of the money shall be returned to the State Treasuries to enable them to remit direct taxation, but that it shall all be applied in its respective proper proportions towards the existing sinking funds for the ultimate redemption of these loans themselves. Senator Smith has dealt very exhaustively with much that is contained in the Estimates, and I agree with Senator Dobson that he must have taken considerable pains in preparing his speech. I think, however, that we are to some extent handicapped in attempting to criticise his statements. We must remember that when the Treasurer submitted his Budget, certain papers relating to it were circulated simultaneously, and that the publication of Hansard was hurried on in order that honorable members might have an opportunity of reading at leisure and comparing his utterances with the figures supplied. The honorable senator has not been able to afford us equal . facilities for following his statements, and we are, therefore, placed at a great disadvantage in attempting to criticise what he has said. I think the honorable senator fell into the same error as Senator Dobson, and that in comparing the actual new expenditure under federation with what was estimated, he has accepted as a forecast the statement made by Sir Frederick Holder at the Adelaide Convention in 1897, when it was contemplated that the Federation would include four only, instead of six States. I think that Senator Smith also fell into the errror of including in next year’s new expenditure the item of £20,000, a third of the £60,000 which will be required to defray the cost of the general elections, and which is distributed over the Estimates of each year on the assumption that the elections will take place once in three years. The honorable senator put down that £20,000 for next year as an additional item, to be added in comparing the Estimates of new expenditure, for next year with that for the current year, or with the actual outlay of last year. I understand, however, that the proper proportion ©f that £60,000 has been debited in every instance, so that if my understanding is correct the £20,000 would not bean item of additional new expenditure next year! The honorable senator remarked that we must be very care ul not to increase the alarming deficits that exist in some of the States Treasuries. He told us that if the proposals as originally submitted to Parliament by the Government had been carried, they would have taken £1,000,000 more out of the pockets of the people. What would have been the result That extra million would have been diverted to the Treasury of the Commonwealth or to the Treasuries of the States. I think that Senator Smith and other honorable senators forgot that we not only owed a duty to the people of Australia, but that we owed a double duty to the people throughout the whole of the six States taken nationally, and to each and every one of those States. It must be remembered that we are collecting the revenue derived from the customs and excise duties practically as trustees ‘ for the people through their respective State Treasuries, and that we must therefore consider the position of each and every one of the States. We must legislate as a Parliament representing not a unified community, but a federated community, and whilst having regard to the interests of the people as a whole, we must also study their welfare as members of six separate communities and as citizens of six separate States. It should be our aim to avoid disarranging the finances by the remission of various duties which if imposed would draw from the pockets of the people perhaps more than was required in some States, but which in their incidence in other States would preserve that financial equilibrium which the people of every State thought Parliament would endeavour to maintain. A great deal has been said with regard to our defences, and I think that there is much to commend the suggestion made by Senator Matheson. I recently read a work that was written some four or five years ago by George Cathcart Craig on the Federal Defence. qf Australasia. Throughout the whole of this work Mr. Craig insists that the navy must be the first line of the defences of United Australia. He points out strongly that no matter what compact may exist between the Imperial Government and the Australian Governments with regard to the location of the Australian auxiliary squadron, that squadron must be taken off the Australian station in time of war to meet the enemy’s ships in the China Sea or in the Pacific, or wherever it may be necessary to attack them to guard against their seizing any particular base from which the)’ could menace our trade routes. Mr. Craig quotes Admiral Bridge as saying -
Referring to the disposition of the Australian squadron, it was commonly believed that the ships would be well employed in the defence of particular localities, but this was opposed to all well understood naval strategy, and completely refuted nearly every ‘ page of British naval history. There is only one position in war time for the British man-of-war to occupy, and that is in close proximity to the enemies’ ships. The Australian squadron could not be considered a social institution to steam from port to port, but had incomparably higher functions to perform. In past history badly managed naval combinations had invariably been due to interference by shore-going people sufficiently influential to be effective in the wrong direction.
The writer of this work, as the result of a careful research, and of a comparison of opinions expressed on questions of this kind, not merely by British naval officers, .but by that well-known American authority, Captain Mahan, and others insist that, in the event of the Empire becoming involved in war “with a strong naval power, it is almost absolutely certain that the warships on the Australian station would be withdrawn to meet and intercept the enemy in any attempt he might make to descend upon our coasts, or to dislodge him from any base which he might take up near China or Madagascar, or in any other part of the globe, with the object of menacing our commerce. He points out the absolute necessity of an increase in the naval arm of our defence. He indicates that ,this result can be achieved in either of two ways, and as I remember he expresses no particular preference. It might be done by increasing the subsidy paid by Australia to the Imperial authorities for the provision of additional warships on our station, or by the Australian people forming the nucleus of an Australian -owned navy, which would act as one of the arms of the Empire’s naval defence, but which would be exclusively used for defence purposes in Australian waters. I conceive that that was the attitude Senator Matheson ‘ adopted, and I cannot understand how, after his carefully worded utterance, Senator Dobson could have come to the conclusion that Senator Matheson was endeavouring to establish an Australian navy, and set up a scheme of defence which would ignore altogether the way in which the Commonwealth is implicated in this vital matter with the rest of the Empire. I think that there is much in the suggestion of Senator Matheson to commend it to members of this Parliament, and I earnestly hope that any arrangement made by Sir Edmund Barton, while in England, will not be calculated to jeopardize the prospects of giving effect to the opinions entertained by Senator Matheson, and shared by many people throughout Australia, more particularly by those who have been intimately acquainted during their life’s work with the naval defence of Australia as an integral part of the Empire. Although a great deal of credit is being taken by this Parliament for cutting down the defence Estimates, I do not feel disposed to share the jubilation of those honorable members who think that we have done anything very praiseworthy. lt is only fifteen months or so ago since the federal authorities, in the exercise of the powers conferred upon them by the Constitution, assumed the control of the defence forces ; and under what circumstances do we exercise our powers until a uniform Defence Act can be passed ? The officers and men of the various companies and corps are still carrying on as if they were under the original State regimes, except that they are under the control of the federal authorities. The defence forces of Australia have not yet been federalized in fact. They are federalized upon paper only - practically nothing more or nothing less. There may be some uniformity with regard to certain practices and regulations, but we have not yet adopted a comprehensive scheme of Australian defence. Yet, whilst we are working under a number of separate enactments - in many States there are six or seven apparently conflicting Acts - the Administration is calmly asked to cut down the Estimates by a big lump sum. The central authorities are scarcely yet in touch with the utmost ramifications of. the Defence system of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, they cannot be expected to approach this great work with that calm and careful deliberation, and that full knowledge of the subject which such an important work must demand. If honorable members say that retrenchment has not been carried out in the most judicious way, and that the pruningknife has not been applied in the proper quarters, they have only themselves to blame for their precipitate and rash action. To ask a controlling bod 3* not intimately acquainted with even the nearest portion of the service to take in hand and carry out a scheme of retrenchment of the dimensions indicated is to court failure, or to bring about a considerable amount of dissatisfaction not only among those who are directly affected bv the retrenchment, but on the part of those who are interested in effecting a reduction in the expenditure. We might well have waited until we had something like one scheme of defence for the Commonwealth under our own Defence
Act and regulations - until there was something in the nature of intimacy between the central authorities and the various branches of the service - before requiring the Ministry to satisfactorily carry out retrenchment to the extent to which they have been asked to effect it in the present instance. I agree very much with the remarks of Senator Sargood in regard to the scheme which he outlined in connexion with public schools throughout the Commonwealth. I had the pleasure of laying down the principle for which he contends as a plank in my platform when addressing the electors of Tasmania. I certainly think that we might very easily carry out the scheme of which he spoke, and insist that the curriculum in every State school should include instruction to the boys in the simplest military evolutions. I am also of opinion that, as far as possible, they should be armed with a light and inexpensive rifle, so that as they grow into manhood they will’ possess at least a rudimentary knowledge of military drill.
– But the States schools are under the jurisdiction of the States Governments.
– I am quite aware of that. The defence of Australia, however, is under the control of the Commonwealth Government. But irrespective of whether or not it is likely that friction would arise, between the States Governments and the Commonwealth Government in consequence of an overlapping of jurisdiction, I feel certain that a happy understanding could be arrived at, because even if the instruction imparted were not utilized for the purposes of defence, the very physical training given to the children at that impressionable period of their lives when their bodies are susceptible to every influence which- makes for their better development, would induce the States. Governments in their own interests to carry out some such scheme, which to all intents and purposes, would be absolutely destitute of expense. Before concluding I wish to refer te- one or two matters in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s department, with a view to> obtaining an explanation at a latter stage. I wish to draw his attention to the fact that in the Estimates for this year, as compared with those for last year, an increased salary has been given to 5:5 telegraph officers and to 60 post and telegraph assistants. I desire to ascertain as far as possible what particular officers have received the increases which I are shown upon the Estimates in a lump sum, and I also wish to learn the principle upon which the Postmaster-General has proceeded in the allocation of those increments to the various officers. I hold that the annual increments ought to have been given all round as they would have been under the States laws, instead of which they have been given only to one or two officers. The only other matter to which I desire to refer is the charge of extravagance which is being made in various quarters against the Commonwealth Government and against this Parliament. It has been said that the cost of federation is altogether out of proportion to the benefits bestowed under it. To a considerable extent I think we have to blame some of those who occupy authoritative positions in the States, and who, either through neglect to go fully into the facts or from a desire to make federation unpopular, have been guilty of submitting to the people figures which in many instances are inaccurate, grossly misleading, and calculated to arouse in the public mind a feeling of insecurity and dissatisfaction. Quite recently in this Chamber I referred to a speech made by the Treasurer of Tasmania in the Parliament of that State in which he attributed to the Federal Government a largely increased expenditure in the administration of the transferred departments. I directed, the attention ©f the leader of the House to that speech, and asked that through him the attention of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth should be drawn to it. I also requested that the Treasurer should be asked to lay upon the table of the Senate information showing the cost of administering each of the transferred departments for the two years immediately preceding their transfer ; their cost during the first financial year of the federation, together with the estimated expenditure in administering each department for the current year ; also that in each instance, where increases were shown since the period of transfer, he should indicate the- cause of such increases. That information came to hand only yesterday, but I understand that in the interim the Treasurer has prepared similar particulars in regard to Queensland, where the same complaint has been made. What is the result ? The allegations of extravagance and increasing expenditure are shown to be grossly exaggerated. It is conclusively proved that, in most instances, the increased expenditure in the administration of the transferred departments is due to the action of the States Governments and Parliaments themselves, in providing for increases in those departments, foolishly believing that the Commonwealth would have to pay them. Now, however, they have ascertained that the gun was loaded, and that under the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution all such increases have to come out of their own pockets. It is the disappointment engendered by these results that has caused those in authority in several States to turn round and point to the Federation as a typical example of governmental extravagance, and as something which people formerly blessed, but had since learned to curse. I hope that the information which has been supplied by the Treasurer, particularly with regard to Queensland and Tasmania - because it has been repeatedly stated that the dislocation of the finances of those States was the result of federation - will receive as much publicity as possible, so that the people of the Commonwealth will be enabled to see what are the actual facts, and to compare them with the statements made by persons who by reason of their authoritative positions should have been, if not generous, much more careful and fair than they have shown themselves in criticising the work of the Commonwealth Parliament before the conclusion of its first session.
– I did not intend to take any part in the discussion upon the second reading of this Bill, but in view of the extraordinary utterance of Senator Dobson, it would be almost criminal on my part to remain silent. The honorable senator appeared to speak with two voices. He commenced by declaring himself an ardent advocate of economy and retrenchment, and ended by strongly urging the Commonwealth to what I regard as unwarrantable and idiotic extravagance. Concerning the charge of extravagance which has been made by nearly all the States Treasurers against the Commonwealth Parliament, it is only proper to say that deficits in. the Australian States are no new thing. They are chronic. Take the case of Queensland, for example. I am satisfied that I am safe in saying that during the whole time the present Premier, Mr. Philp, occupied the office- of Treasurer he did not once declare alegitimate surplus. It is true that on. several occasions he has come forward with a paper surplus, but on examination it was always found that that surplus was caused by the lavish use of loan money as revenue. During Mr. Philp’s tenancy of the position of Treasurer, the revenue from nearly every department has risen to a degree never .before known in that State. But faster than it flows in, the tide of extravagance grows, until at last Queensland finds herself in a most difficult position. Federation is not to blame for that. The. utter incompetence, the undiluted muddling of the man at the head of affairs in that State is responsible for its present unfortunate position. When Mr. Philp, and those who acted with him, advocated federation, they knew perfectly well that the Queensland Tariff could not be adopted by the Commonwealth. They were aware that the Border Duties would be abolished, and that the revenue from customs and excise would be much less than the amount which had previously been derived from those sources. Yet, knowing all these facts, they made not the slightest attempt to meet the new circumstances. Now, when they find themselves in a most disastrous position they wish to make a scapegoat of federation. In New South Wales we find that almost a similar state of affairs obtains. The people there have been borrowing money during the last ten years at an extraordinary rate. They have been selling their lands, and, after the fashion of the spendthrift, living upon their capita] instead of upon their revenue. They, too, I understand, are dissatisfied with the results of federation. In Victoria the same remark is equally applicable. ‘ The Treasurer of this State blames the extravagance of the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Parliament for its present disastrous position. But when we come to analyze the figures, we find that these weak incompetent men are merely making a stalking-horse of federation and holding it up to shield their own inability to efficiently conduct the business of the country. I think that we should be failing in our duty t© the Commonwealth if we did not rise in our places and protest against the unfounded, unwarranted, and malicious charge of extravagance which has been made against us. I was very much amused at Senator Dobson when he indulged in his perrenial attack upon, the labour party and labour legislation He told the Senate that Australian stocks in London are falling, because of labour legislation.
I suppose that is because we have abolished the kanakas, declared for a white Australia, mid prohibited lascars and other coloured men from being employed in our postal service. I suppose that because of all this legislation the London money lender looks with an exceedingly unfavorable eye on Australia. “Well, I hope the London money lender will have cause to look with a still more unfavorable eye on Australia, if that is his reason for frowning on this Commonwealth. I know perfectly well, and I believe every honorable senator knows, the kind of policy the London money lender would like to see pursued here. He would like to see our resources developed by cheap black labour, and not by wellpaid white labour. Black labour would mean to him the payment of a heavier dividend than would the employment of white men at reasonable wages, and he does not care one straw about the social condition of the people of Australia. The London -money lender does not trouble himself at all about how the people of this country live, or whether or not they are compelled to associate with Asiatics ; and he favours the employment of coloured people in the development of our resources. I trust that we shall continue on the same good course on which we have entered, no matter what the. London money lender may think. Senator Dobson is dreadfully troubled about the price of stocks. I can assure that honorable senator that the price of stocks does not trouble me in the least ; I am neither a buyer, nor a seller. What does trouble me is a desire that we should have a comfortable community in Australia, and that our people should be as fully employed as possible, and at the highest wages. . A great number of people may say that full employment and high wages cannot be attained unless we apply continually to the English money lender. But the sooner we stop such appeals and rely on our own resources - the sooner we develop some- means of raising money locally without having recourse to either the foreign or the home money lender - the better it will be for us. I can assure honorable senators that there is a scheme by which we can raise money and make ourselves entirely independent of Isaac, Abraham, and Joseph, and all the rest of the eagles whose eyrie is London, and whose spoil is the entire earth. We can render ourselves entirely independent ;. and the very way to compel us to take steps to that end is for the English money lender to depress, and to continue to depress, our stocks. The more our stocks are depressed, the better I like it, because the sooner we shall be compelled to fall back on our own resources. I wish now to say a few words on the subject of defence. I am exceedingly sorry that we have not been able to lay down some definite principle with regard to the defence of Australia. Parliament has been so continuously occupied with what it believed to be more important business that we have not had an opportunity of dealing with this question ; but I trust that next session nothing will be allowed to interfere with its settlement. I am one of those - and I have no doubt that I am in a minority - who believe that Australia need not trouble herself very much about defence. It is important, as I have said, that we should settle the principle, because until we have done so we do not know where we are, or where we may find ourselves landed some fine morning. I repeat, however, that we need not trouble ourselves about the question of defence. We are perhaps more favorably situated than any other country on the globe so far as defence is concerned. We have a clean sweep of thousands of miles of sea between us, and any possible attacking power. When we recollect that the little “ silver streak “ of 21 miles of sea between Great Britain and the continent of Europe is of more service to the mother country than all her fleet and a million men, the 5,000 or 10,000 miles of sea which lie between us and, as I have said, any possible invader, ought surely to be some guarantee of our safety.
– The “silver streak.” makes it necessary to have a big navy.
-But Australia cannot afford a big navy. The United States was very old comparatively and very rich before it attempted to have a navy, and in my humble opinion if that country had not foolishly entered upon what may be called an Imperial policy it would not require a navy even now. Canada, which is much more unfavorably situated than Australia, so far as attack is concerned, sees no necessity for a navy, and does not contribute one farthing to the Imperial defences.. If Canada can take up a position of that kind, why should not Australia 1 I suppose that 90 per cent, of the members of this Parliament refuse to discuss the question of the defence of Australia apart from that of the defence of the Empire. But I say that defence, like charity, ought to begin at home, and if we lender our own shores secure from attack, we have done all that is necessary towards the defence- of the Empire.
– Unless we are asked for assistance.
– If we keep out of quarrels,, my opinion is that no nation will go out of its way to attack us. I know that what I am about to say will be looked on as rank heresy, but I say it deliberatly after having given the very fullest consideration to the matter. Indeed, I do not know that I shall not be regarded as guilty of something approaching treason when I say that our chief danger, so far as attack is concerned, lies in our connexion with the British Empire. If we had no connexion with the Empire, I believe we should be absolutely immune - that no nation would seek to interfere with us. If we are ever attacked or brought into difficulty, it will not be because we are independent, but because we stand in with the British Empire ; and that is an opinion to which I have come deliberately. Not only does our great danger so far as attack is concerned lie in our connexion with the British Empire, but thereis another and, perhaps, more serious danger brought about by that connexion, namely, the danger of Asiatic invasion. Some honorable senators may point to the fact that we have declared for a white Australia ; but unless we are prepared to maintain a white Australia, the mere declaration goes for nothing. That is one reason why I am so favorable to a fairly large defence force for purely local defence purposes, so that any possible invasion from Asia can be repelled as it ought to be repelled. With several honorable senators I think that instead of contributing towards the cost -of British vessels which would be drawn away from our shores in case of war, we ought to have at least the nucleus of a fleet of our own. We ought not to be dependent on Great Britain for the few ships which patrol our coasts.
– A fleet of our own would cost us something.
– No doubt, but it would be our own fleet, and under our control. lt would be manned by our own people, and give birth to a national sentiment. All these advantages we lose under the present arrangement. The Government ought to give us some definite information as to how far the Prime Minister has pledged Australia to the increased subsidy, of which we have read so much of late. We have only received the vaguest information so far, but, probably, the Prime Minister has not found it convenient to convey to his colleagues exactly what has been done in England. Probably the hurry to wind up Parliament, proceeds in a very great measure from a desire on the part of the Prime Minister, and those who are acting with him, to prevent any awkward questions. I should have very much liked the Prime Minister to be in his place before the prorogation of Parliament, so that he might be asked to state definitely what has been done in London - whether he has committed the people of Australia, and if so, to what extent 1
– Why prorogue this week?
– I am quite willing to remain here for another month, if we can get definite information from the Prime Minister as to what has been clone. Before the right honorable gentleman went away I asked several questions as to whether anything done by him in London would bind Australia, and the answer given was that Australia would not be so bound. That being the case I hope honorable senators will not be governed by the idea that if the Prime Minister has made any promise, we are morally bound to carry it out. My contention is that we are not so bound.
– That would amount to a vote of want of confidence, and the Prime Minister might resign.
– I am not troubling myself about any want of confidence or any resignation. We ought not to be bound by anything that the Prime Minister has done, because he had no authority to bind the Commonwealth. We simply sent the Prime Minister Home as our representative to attend the Coronation, and also a particular conference. No authority was given to come to a conclusion, but merely to discuss certain matters which were to be brought before the conference, and to report to the Federal Parliament, which could take such action as might be deemed necessary. Senator Dobson seems to be exceedingly anxious that we should spend large sums on defence.
– And yet Senator Dobson said he was speaking in the interests of economy.
– That is so, and it appears to me that the position which the honorable senator takes up is that the workers of Australia ought to be prepared to live on bread and water, so that the Government of the Commonwealth might have millions of money to spend on soldiers, to take care of the property of the foreign and of the local investor. I take altogether a different view of the situation. I believe that, by seeing that our people are as well off as possible, and by treating them better than they would very likely be treated anywhere else, we give them the very best eason, in ‘ case of attack, for defending their country to the last extremity. But if we impoverish them; if we sweat them, as Senator Dobson has been in the habit of doing in Tasmaniaand the creation of the Commonwealth will, I hope, relieve one section of the workers of that State from the iron grip of the sweater - if we reduce them, as he would desire, to a -diet of bread and water, why should they defend the country which yields them so little? Why should they put themselves out of the way to repel a foreign invader who could not treat them worse than do their existing rulers 1 Why should they seek to defend institutions which do not give them more than a bare living 1 There would be no reason whatever for them to do so* But if we’ treat our people well, if we see that they are well fed, well clothed, well paid and comfortable, and that they enjoy free political institutions, we furnish them with a motive for defence which is more effective even than the rifle. and the bullet.
– Better than pipeclay.
– A million times better than pipeclay. Senator Keating referred to the necessity for training our boys in the schools in military evolutions, and so forth. I do not know whether or not that is desirable. I have not been able to make up my mind on the point. No doubt physical development is a very good thing, but the very best foundation upon which we can develop the physique of our young people is- good food - good condition. Feed them well, and they will grow up healthy, well developed, strong, patriotic men and women. Our schools have been created for educational purposes. It may be desirable to train our youth in military evolutions, but I cannot say whether it is or not. I was trained in that way when I was at school, but I do not know that it did me any particular good or harm. At any rate it did not develop the military spirit in me.’
– It did not make the honorable senator a Jingo.
– I am glad to say it did not. ,
– Then I think we might safely adopt it.
– I should like to say a word or two with regard to the Public Service Commissioner. I am compelled to admit that there is some extravagance in connexion with the department. I fail to see the necessity for the very large staff which the Minister for Home Affairs appears to have gathered about him, and I must say that in several other departments of the federal service there appears to be a desire to spend money too lavishly. I intended to move a large number of requests for reductions in the salaries of many of our public servants ; but I realize that at this late period of the session - when honorable senators are all desirous of seeing the proceedings of this, the first session, brought to a close and of returning to their homes - there would be no chance of having such proposals discussed upon their merits. For that reason I intend to leave the matter over till next session. If I am spared to come back next session I shall certainly move requests for reductions in regard to a very large number of salaries paid to officials of the Commonwealth. I consider that the Public Works department is a piece of unwarranted extravagance. The Minister for Home Affairs might very well have- depended for some time upon the States Public Works departments to attend to any buildings required by the Commonwealth. I am well aware that there might have been some friction, but I believe that could have been overcome by a little diplomacy. In any case the Minister for Home Affairs has evidently made up his mind to have a department of his own, in addition to making use of the States departments. In my opinion the Commonwealth Public Works department is unnecessary. Apparently the Minister has very good reasons for the institution of the department. He has evidently given satisfactory reasons to another place, but they have not been sufficient to satisfy a number of honorable senators, and I certainly am not pleased with them.
– Perhaps honorable members of another place, like ourselves, were anxious to get away.
– I believe they were. I am glad to see Senator Dobson in his place. Before he resumed his seat he had a tilt at Members of Parliament, and spoke of their desire for grants of various kinds to which they are not entitled. I entirely repudiate that statement. So far as I am personally concerned, I get nothing to which I do not consider myself absolutely entitled. I have a free railway pass, which I very seldom use, because I am not fond of travelling. But we are in this position : We are the managers for the Commonwealth, and if the Commonwealth desires good government, it must give those who are placed in charge of its affairs an opportunity to travel up and down the country so as to obtain information for themselves. Does any commercial house ask its travellers to pay their own expenses when they go out to do business for that house ? Nothing of the kind ! They pay not only the railway fares, but the living expenses of their agents. Our living expenses are not paid, and I have never heard a Member of Parliament urge that they should be paid by the Commonwealth. There appears to be a great deal of unnecessary comment about the perquisites of Members of Parliament. These things. , have apparently run riot in Victoria. There is unmistakably a condition of corruption here which does not prevail, so far as I have been able to discover, in any of the other States.
– Perhaps it is in consequence of protection.
– I do not think that free-trade or protection has anything to do with it ; but that is the position in which the people of Victoria find themselves, and from being too extravagant there appears to be a tendency to go to the other extreme, and to err on the side of parsimony. If the Commonwealth desires to be well governed, it must give its representatives an opportunity to travel up and down the country to obtain information. Senator Dobson himself took the opportunity recently to g© to Queensland to secure information with regard to the sugar question. I am very glad that he did so. But he collected information from only one side of the question. He should have gone to some other people, in addition to those whom he visited.
– I had breakfast with 200 kanakas. What more could the honorable senator want 1
– The honorable and learned senator had Mr. Angus Gibson on one side, and the 200 kanakas on the other.
– There was no complaint about the rations that morning.
– Certainly not. I am sure that if the honorable and learned senator had only gone a little further north - if he had visited Mackay and Cairns or travelled all over the northern district - he would have gained information which would -have been very useful to the Federal Parliament, and to the Commonwealth as a whole.
– He is going to join in the excursion round the continent which is now being arranged by the Minister for Home Affairs.
– It would do him. a great deal of good. It would give him an impression of this young Commonwealth of ours, which would help to wash out of his mind that excessive reverence which he possesses for the little island away in the northern seas. I believe this is going to be a much greater country - not only in size, but in everything that makes for the grandeur of nations - than even the country from which we come. It .would do Senator Dobson and a number of other honorable senators very much good if they availed themselves of an opportunity to circumnavigate this the largest island in the world. It would give them some tangible idea of the ‘ great country which they are called upon to govern.
– And the great advantages of a white Australia.
– Yes. I do not wish to detain honorable senators any longer. I recognise that we are almost compelled on this occasion to allow the Estimates to go through with very little discussion. I am sorry that it is so, because there is ample room in many of the departments for the application of the pruning knife I suppose we must reserve that pleasure for some future occasion,.
– At this late hour in the evening, and exceedingly late period in the session, it is not my intention to speak at any length. I do not think I should have risen, had it not been for the extraordinary - I might almost say the most audacious - speech delivered by Senator Dobson. I am very glad that he has returned to the chamber, so that I may have an opportunity of addressing a few remarks to him. I wish to put a few pertinent questions to him, and I trust that he will be able to give an answer to them. I entirely agree with Senator - Dobson when he says, with a considerable amount of force - and eloquence, shall I say? - that the rebate on sugar grown by white labour should be paid in respect of crops gathered by means of white labour, irrespective of whether they were planted by black or white labour. If a crop is gathered and properly attended to by white labour, the fact that it was planted by black labour should not disentitle the owner to the rebate.
– I hope it will be granted in such cases.
– I trust that it will. I am prepared to do anything that I can to encourage the growth and the manufacture of sugar by means of white labour, and Senator Dobson will find no warmer supporter than I am when he urges that the rebate should be allowed on sugar which has been harvested and gathered by white labour, irrespective of whether or not the cane was planted by black labour. We are entirely at one on that point. But here we part company. I am obliged to take up two or three of the points made by the honorable and learned senator in his wonderful speech. I think he said that the labour legislation that has been passed by the Federal Parliament has injured our credit in London and the money markets of the world.
– And over-borrowing.
– And, as an afterthought, the honorable and learned ‘senator added “and over-borrowing.” I desire to know from Senator Dobson what portion of our legislation has injured our credit in London. I think he said that the section to which we agreed in the Post and Telegraph Act removing coloured stokers and sailors from our mailboats had a tendency in that direction. I was obliged to interject during the delivery of his speech that a similar provision had been in force in the State of Queensland since the year 1889. I ask the honorable and learned senator, and those who agree with him, whether the adoption of that policy has in the slightest degree injured the credit of .’the northern State of Australia. If Senator Dobson continues to make such statements as he is frequently in the habit of making, we shall have to call on him to give some proof.’ Not one tittle of proof does the honorable and learned senator submit to the Senate when he makes these violent attacks upon legislation of this kind. He contents himself by merely making an announcement, expecting that such statements will be allowed to go forth to Australia and the world uncontradicted. I have told him again and again, and I now repeat, that whenever he makes these reckless, unfounded, and unproved statements, I shall rise in my place and contradict them. I now ask the honorable and learned senator upon what he bases his statement that our credit has been injured by the legislation to which reference has been made? The honorable and learned senator gives no proof, nor can bte give any in support of such statements. As I have said, a provision requiring the removal of coloured stokers and sailors from mail steamers has been in force in Queensland for the last thirteen or fourteen years, and if Senator Dobson will consider the loans which have been floated by that State since the adoption of that policy, he will find that at no period of her history has her credit been better than since that legislation has been in force. The honorable and learned senator has made another statement which is just as audacious and unfounded. He tells us that capital is leaving, or has left Australia.
– So it has.
– When and where, and where has it gone ?
– Thousands of pounds have left.
– I do not want general statements. I want some details and facts.
– P. N. Russell and Co. shut up their place in Sydney on account of labour troubles, and took all their money to England. One of them gave £50,000 the other day to the University at Sydnev.
– What a wonderfully poverty-stricken place Australia must be, when some one goes off with a few thousand pounds thinking that he can live more comfortably in England with the means at his disposal than if he remained in Australia.
– He says he would have lost all his money hadhe remained here.
– Is that in consequence of this labour legislation ? Where does the money lender go - to Turkey, or the Argentine, or other countries of the world to invest his money? No ; he goes to Australia, believing, as he does, and I think wisely, that in no part of the world is his investment so secure as in Australia. I find that British consols were in 1897 quoted at £112, and Australian stock in the same year was quoted at £98, a difference of £14. In 1902 British Consols are quoted at £95, and Australian stock at £94, a difference of £1.
– Why, Great Britain is going to the dogs !
– Is it not marvellous that a gentleman of the standing and position of Senator Dobson, who has held office as the first Minister of the Crown in his own State of Tasmania, should be so reckless in the statements he constantly makes in this chamber, that in consequence of certain legislation disaster after disaster is following in our wake ? . I can tell the honorable andlearned senator, and others who are inclined to take the same view, that so far from our legislation relating to coloured labour injuring our credit in the markets of the world it will have a tendency in an entirely opposite direction. I should not have said a single word in this debate had it not been for the statements made by Senator Dobson. He has made similar statements upon other occasions, and I tell the honorable and learned senator that as often as he repeats these charges - that inconsequence of the action which this Legislature has taken to proclaim and establish by means of law that this continent shall be preserved for white people we shall be injured in our credit - he will be met and his statements will be contradicated. I do not intend to continue the discussion any longer. The evening is getting late and it is late in the session, and we are all anxious to return to our homesat the earliest possible moment. I think that since the 9th May, 1901, we have clone a fair amount of work. That work, in my judgment, has been done in the best interests of the country, and I believe that that will be ultimately proved. I believe that members of the
Senate and members of the other House have not spared themselves, and I trust that the legislation which has been passed, and particularly that relating to a white Australia, will result, as I feel confident it will, in great good to the people of Australia, while it will in no way injure our credit or destroy the best interests of the people of Australia in the money markets of Great Britain or of the world.
– I do not desire to detain the Senate many minutes on the Bill which is before us for its second reading. The matter which is of more immediate interest to me is the vote for the Defence department. It appears to me that the whole question of defence is at present only in a tentative stage, and these Estimates simply consist of items of Supply to carry on the Defence departments, which are a legacy from the different States, and which have not yet been brought into unison by any general scheme of defence for the Commonwealth. I think, with due submission to the Senate, that until a Bill submitting such a general scheme is before us, and we have decided upon what our lines of defence are to be, it will be a pity to drastically apply the pruning knife in any indiscriminate way to the Defence Force as at present existing. I think that by doing so we may find that we shall be only accentuating existing difficulties instead of improving matters, and we may be going contrary to what the expressed opinion of Parliament may be in six or seven months’ time. Under the circumstances it behoves us to deal fairly with the situation and accept the Estimates which were asked for by the various States previous to the separate departments of defence being taken over by the Federation. I think they ought to be carried on as then existing until we have decided the broad lines upon which for the future our Defence Forces shall be conducted. I do not know that the information is public property, but I understand that the. vote towards the Imperial Navy is to be increased to £200,000. I do not know that that statement is official, but it has appeared in the newspapers, and I, therefore, see no reason why I should not refer to it here. We may possibly reduce the present Defence Estimates by some £60,000 as has been proposed, but if the contribution to our naval defence, to which I have referred, is part of an agreement to which we are practically bound, as I presume we are, we snail have to find that money in some shape or form, and our Defence Estimates will in consequence be considerably increased. However, I do not think that should weigh with us in any way in considering the requirements of the forces under our control. I have heard it mooted that it is probable that a large saving will be made in connexion with the expenditure on the general staff. I would ask honorable senators to be very careful before they reduce the general staff. We must have a general staff to carry on the work, and we must have good men for the purpose. We must have men with good heads upon their shoulders, and we must give them salaries in the army profession in some way equivalent to what such men could earn in civil life. If we do not do that we shall not get the class of men we require, or men capable of undertaking the responsibility we desire them to undertake. I have also heard it mooted in various quarters that the pruning knife may be put into some of our permanent forces, which, I understand, practically consist entirely of artillery. I ask honorable senators to seriously consider the position of the artillery. The artilleryman is not the product of a moment, but a scientific product, the result of time and training, and upon our artillerymen we must depend for a very essential part of our defence. I would, therefore, seriously ask honorable senators not to sanction or encourage, in any shape or form, the destruction of such a very useful and, as they have proved themselves to be, such an excellent body of men as are the artillerymen we have throughout the States. I do not propose to detain the Senate any longer, but I say sincerely that I hope that honorable senators will not, without very grave and good reasons, take a free hand in excising some of the votes on the Estimates, or in bringing about the dismissal of some of those who are now in the Defence ‘Force without a full discussion in Parliament as to what our future Defence Force is to be, and how it is to be conducted.
– If there is one thing which has impressed me more than another during the long discussion upon this Bill, it has been the . neglect, if I may so term it, of the Government to pass certain measures which they ought to have passed, in order that the Constitution may work smoothly. We have heard a good deal during the discussion upon the. matter of defence, which could not possibly be of any great value to any of us at this stage. Before we can attempt to deal with the question of defence and its cost, we ought, first of all, .to decide ‘what kind of structure we intend to erect. We Ought to have done that at a very early stage, and, having passed a Defence Act, and having agreed om a certain design, we should have been in a position to say that it would Cost so much, when we should have had, of necessity, to vote that sum to give it effect. But instead of doing that, we have been asked month by month to pass Supply Bills. We have now two Appropriation Bills before us. Turning to the Appropriation BiU for 1901-2, I find that the Estimates for that year were based on the expenditure that would have been incurred by the States if there had been no federation. The expenditure would -have been £100,000 more than we are now asked to vote for military services. I cannot see how the various States can charge the Federal Government with being extravagant when we have reduced the Estimates upon that line alone to the extent of £100,000. Now we are asked to cut off £62,000 from these Estimates, and we are told that that can only, be done by reducing the permanent staff. We do not know what effect that will have upon the whole service. We ought to know what the result will be to the military organization of the Commonwealth before we consent even to that reduction. Personally, of course, I should like to see the Defence Estimates cut down as low as possible consistent with efficiency, but it is useless to discuss that matter now, because we have not yet decided what kind of military organization we shall have. I am also sorry, notwithstanding the long session we have had, to find that no definite answer has yet been given, either by the Minister for Trade and Customs or by Senator ‘O’Connor, to the question put by my esteemed f riend Senator Dobson as regards section 265 of the Customs Act. The importers and Customs agents in my own State are seriously distressed to know how -to conduct their business under the very stringent methods adopted by the Minister in his interpretation of the Act. I am hopeful that now we are getting into recess the Minister will have more time to devote to the details of his department, will soon clear up the arrears of work, and be able to deal with some-of these Customs questions personally. There is a great agitation in South Australia just now over the question of the waters of the River Murray. The people there have been extremely anxious that there should be a court to appeal to in regard to any interference with the navigation of the Murray, and they have been somewhat distressed with respect to the action of Victoria in calling for tenders for the cutting’ of a trench leading from the Goulburn to the Waranga reservoir. I am very pleased to learn from honorable senators representing Victoria that there is really no attempt to divert the surplus waters of the Goulburn into the Waranga basin. That assurance will give great satisfaction to those in South Aus-‘ tralia who are watching the developments of the question very closely. I, in common with other honorable senators, have heard a great deal of the extravagance of the Federal Government. Although we must admit that in some things we can honestly be charged with extravagance, yet I think that much of the extravagance with which we have been charged ought to be laid at the doors of the States Parliaments. I will add a word with regard to the so-called extra- va:ant trip proposed by the Minister for Home Affairs. Personally, I do not see that there is any necessity for it, nor do I think it can be carried out with any satisfaction either to Members of Parliament or to the people of the Commonwealth. In the first place, if we charter a ship, probably very few members will join in the trip. We incurred an expenditure of some £4,000 for the purpose of inspecting some capital sites, but all to no purpose ; and I am afraid that if this expensive trip round the continent is made it will have no more influence for good than had the trip to the capital sites. Then the question arises - How are we to prevent the trip from taking place? If we are desirous of stopping it, ‘the only mode I can see is to reduce the amount of £10,000 for travelling expenses by a certain sum, which will indicate that we desire that the trip shall be stopped. I am very pleased to have heard the speech of Senator Gould with reference to the River Murray question, and to have had the assurance of those who have been connected with the politics of Victoria for so long that all that the Government of this State intends to do will not in any way interfere with the navigation of the Murray, or with the waters of the ‘Goulburn, to any injurious extent.
– We have not had a very long discussion considering that we are practically saying good-bye, and are discussing generally the work that has been done during the session. I do not want to interfere with the universal good feeling that has prevailed by prolonging the debate to. any considerable extent, but I do think that, as far as concerns the question of defence, we have scarcely done our duty. If there was one question which we who advocated federation most earnestly relied upon as a reason it was that of defence; and if there is one subject which we have not considered in the slightest degree it is the subject which was the very basis upon which federation was brought into existence. Except for this question we should never have federated at all. We carefully laid down the Constitution so as not only to preserve the rights of the two branches of the Legislature, but also to create tribunals by means of which constitutional rights could be properly preserved. We have the two branches of the Legislature safely enough, but as to the protectors of the Constitution, we have not got them yet, and we are absolutely in a state of chaos to find out what are our rights or to secure a vindication of them. That is to be regretted. But at the same time we are only men. We cannot sit for ever without some period of adjournment, and it is utterly impossible at this stage of the session properly to consider the questions of defence, of the Inter-State Commission, of the Judiciary, and of various other things that are absolutely necessary to establish the Constitution on a sound foundation, and which, it will soon be found, will have to be considered and dealt with before the -Constitution can be worked out properly. Of course the mercantile community happened to be the strongest, as it always is, and “ Inter-State free-trade must be conceded and the Tariff settled,” was the universal cry. “Set aside all those -other questions, but for Heaven’s sake do not keep our pockets in a condition of suspense.” That line of policy has been acted upon by, I think, the universal or almost universal assent of both branches of the Legislature. We have worked for practically eighteen months. We have certainly worked assiduously. We have given our time to the work, and have sacrificed our other interests for it. I suppose that we have temporarily, or perhaps permanently, or for a long time, settled the Tariff question.
– The question upon which we federated.
– It was a very important question upon which we federated, but there were certain other questions going still deeper to the foundations of the Constitution, and which are necessary to be enacted so as to enforce the legislation which we have passed. We have carried certain legislation. The vindicatory power to preserve its due exercise remains in abeyance until next session. That cannot be helped. As far as the question of defence is concerned, I do not think I am exaggerating in saying that we do not know much about it. But the other branch of the Legislature, like ourselves, were in the unfortunate position of having to make some temporary supply. So they passed, in the form of an Appropriation Bill, what practically is only a temporary Supply Bill, dealing with something which they have had no real opportunity of considering. I should have thought that the safe basis upon which to pass the temporary Supply Bill would have been to take the expenditure that was then being incurred, and not to make retrenchments without understanding what they were, and above all things not to put in the hands of the Government or of the head of the military service, who is the adviser of the Government and is practically responsible, the opportunity for discriminating amongst the service, and saying what branches should be knocked off and what should be preserved. That we have had no opportunity of considering the matter intelligently is evident. Senator Dobson thinks a week would be sufficient. I should say that it would take three months. It is a matter to be considered very calmly and deliberately. We need to apply our best wits to it in order to arrive at sound conclusions. But the matter has come before the other House, and money has been knocked off - it may be rightly or it may be wrongly. They do not know ; we do not know.. We can do nothing but accept their recommendations, but I hope that in accepting them great care will be taken by the Government as to the manner in which the reductions are applied to the different parts of the forces. I feel very strongly what my honorable friend Senator Cameron - whom we are all glad to see back again - said about the artillery. Artillerymen are not made in a day. It is of no use spending time and money in educating men if, when we have educated them, we dismiss them. By so doing all our money is thrown away, and we argue ourselves very stupid people.
– We should not make barrack-room attendants of them either.
– That is quite right also. Something must be left to those in authority. I do not think that any layman in the Senate feels justified in taking action with regard to the different forces at this moment. If there are such senators they do not sit on my side of the Chamber ; they are to be found in the corner where Senator Pearce sits. So far as that is concerned, I am very much impressed with what has been said by Senator Cameron as to the particular line of saving which has been adopted being that which would seem to go to the waste of our capital, which is the experience of the men for whose education we have paid. When we dismiss them we lose it, and have to purchase fresh capital out of revenue. As for other matters, I agree that we cannot deal with the subject of defence generally this session. We musthave some time in which to attend to our own affairs. But next session we shall have time and opportunity to devote to this vital question. Meanwhile, I think the Government should be very ‘careful about the retrenchments they make to meet the hasty vote given in the other branch of the Legislature. If they find out that certain unexpected and unforeseen contingencies arise, which make it inexpedient to save all the money they have been told to save, they will probably discover that a grateful Commonwealth will recognise their courage, and applaud their conclusions. I do not think there is much in the charge of general extravagance which has been made against the Common- wealth. One thing which impressed me very much at first sight was the proposed establishment in each State of meeting places for the members of the Commonwealth Parliament. That looked superfluous. I do not know that, once hack in our own homes, we are not to some extent satisfied with our previous communion, and not desirous of renewing it too hurriedly. An occasional interval is a good thing in a friendship. Apart from that, I recognise that the Houses of Parliament in each State are open to all members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Not in New South Wales.
– Nor in Western Australia. They have not sufficient accommodation there for their own members.
SenatorSirJOHNDOWNER.- Ithink it will generally happen that the States Houses will not be in session when the Commonwealth Parliament is sitting. In any case, there are committee rooms which are not in constant occupation, and in which members of the Commonwealth Parliament will have no difficulty in securing accommodation. But when I came to inquire into the matter further I found that it was one of the exaggerations which are constantly made by men who persistently opposed federation, and attack it whenever they have the opportunity. The Commonwealth Government must have an office of its own in each State, and, incidentally, they thought that it would be convenient if members of this Parliament were allowed to meet there, to chat over matters upon which they wanted to converse. Therefore, the expense which has been commented upon amounts to nothing at all, and the statements which have been made on the subject are merely windy utterances, founded on mistake or misrepresentation, and supported by empty oratory. This Parliament has made every endeavour to keep down expense. Each of us has felt a sense of duty in that respect to his own State, quite apart from the broader interests of the Commonwealth. On. the subject of defence we have had two speeches - that of Senator Sargood was excellent, thoughtful, and carefully worked out, and pleasant and instructive to listen to. But I do not yet know how he proposes to pay for the navy which he says we should have. He said that we could not buy the ships, because, as the life of such vessels is only fifteen years, theprice would be ruinous, and that for the same reason we could not hire them, but that we must have them. What are we to do ?I agree with honorable senators who have said that we must think first of our naval defence. I have entertained that view for a great many years. But the question is - How to obtain naval defence? It would be a great mistake to incur lavish expenditure upon a navy at the very beginning of federation. I do not recognise that it is our duty to defend ourselves on the high seas. As the Imperial Government benefits by our connexion with the Empire, we have a right to expect protection from them. We are all agreed about that. We were agreed about it in 1887, when we made the arrangement which, with modifications, has remained in force up to the present time. I am not in favour of purchasing warships at the present time, and I do not think it is expedient to hire them. I thought at first that the protection of the seas was entirely an Imperial concern, to which we should contribute; but ithas since been suggested tome, with a force which recommends the suggestion to my mind, that if it were left entirely to the Imperial authorities, the movement would become unpopular with our own people. If we wish to contribute to naval defence to any appreciable extent, and to get the people to agree to the contribution, they must have some voice in the management of the fleet within their own waters. Ships might be sent here, and we might pay interest on their cost, or make the best terms we could, consistent with right and justice ; but they might be manned by Australians under the superintendence of Imperial officers. By that means we might popularize the service, and preserve the most perfect good feeling with the Imperial Government in naval matters. So far as the land forces are concerned that is not a matter in which I think we need assistance, but which we can attend to ourselves.
– Without interference.
– Certainly, without interference. As to the navy I would consider it rather a misfortune to have it immutably fixed here, because it is necessary that the men should go abroad for experience. All ordinary drills and teaching in peace time can be as well learnt here as elsewhere ; but it is necessary that the men should be taken into a broader arena, so as to prepare themselves to take a more active part in times of struggle and emergency. There has been a great deal of talk in South Australia in reference to the River Murray, which has for a good many years been the subject of rather a burning question in that State. If, as we are told by Senator Zeal, there is “ nothing in it “ we do not need to bother ; but if there is something “in it” then I think the proposed action by Victoria should not be taken. The first time .the question arose in South Australia was when some points of dispute came to be discussed between the Governments of that State and New South Wales. The proposal of New South Wales was something like that now made by Victoria. There was an irrigation scheme, though I do not think it was ever intended to be carried out ; and that, in my opinion, is the case in connexion with the present Victorian proposal. First of all the New South Wales scheme was founded on an assertion that the river altogether belonged to that colony, and that the waters could be used for the purposes of irrigation. I was a member of the South Australian Government at the time, and I had a long correspondence with the Government of New South Wales, though the writing was mostly on my side, it not being the habit of the mother State to always reply to communications. After the matter had been debated in the two Parliaments, I finally received an intimation from the then Premier of New South Wales that I need not trouble my head, as it was not intended to do anything further. And I must say that New South Wales never did an unfriendly act to another colony, though some of the wilder spirits have on occasions suggested such a course. I do not think that Victoria means to do an unfriendly act in the proposals which are now before us. But when there is a question on which there is a strong feeling in a State, and that State has undoubted rights, such as those possessed by South Australia in the waters of the Murray, there ought not to be even the appearance of any intent to invade. When the question was presented to us various claims were made, and nice questions were raised as to the rights over the waters; but what makes the right to a stream ? Supposing Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales were all one State, and the question was one of private ownership amongst the proprietors on either side, there would be no right to interfere with the waters. The fact that the Goulburn rises in Victoria and discharges in the Murray in Victoria, does not settle the question, but leaves undecided other matters of great doubt and difficulty. To deflect the Goulburn and take away its waters so far as to materially diminish the flow of the Murray, and make it less useful than before to the people below, would between nations be considered an unfriendly act or an act of war. The States desire to be exceedingly friendly, and it would be well if the Government did all in their power to prevent the Victorian Government from doing anything which might even have the appearance of being unfriendly. It must be remembered that it is expressly provided by the Constitution that this is a matter over which the Federal Government have control. It may be, as Senator Zeal has stated, that Victoria will only deal with flood waters; and it is very likely that nothing ‘else could be dealt with, because the Murray is a slow going stream, and has not the flow to enable it to be deflected in very droughty times. But the statement that the waters are only to be used at flood times is made for the first time to-day, and has not appeared in any papers or discussions with which the South Australian Government is acquainted.
-Col. Cameron. - Cannot the river waters be conserved 1
– I suppose it can, but there are raised very difficult questions as to the rights of the people of one State to interfere with waters running from that State into another. That is a question for the High Court, when established, and it is inexpedient to raise debatable questions which have been the subject of conflict between friendly States, and have resulted in the power being put into the hands of the Commonwealth Government. I think the Senate has fairly preserved its constitutional rights during this Parliament ; but it notably did not do so in the case of the Tariff. That Tariff was imposed quite rightly and constitutionally by the Government, but duties were taken off on the vote of one House without consulting the other. I humbly hope that that will not occur again - I hope that we shall take care it does not occur again. My own opinion is that we, perhaps, sacrificed our constitutional position because we agreed in effect with what was being unconstitutionally done. In other respects, however, we have on the whole asserted our constitutional rights, and it has certainly never been the fault of the President if we have failed in that assertion. Without patting ourselves too much on the back, I think that in parting we may say that we have fairly well preserved the intention of the Constitution, and have had our powers recognised in the way that we could wish.
, In reply. - I do not know that I am altogether in accord with the opinion that it is necessary to congratulate the Senate on having adhered to its constitutional rights. It appears to me rather an unusual thing that’ a House should congratulate itself on not giving up its rights. I take it that the two Houses have worked together in accordance with the Constitution, and I have no recollection of any one instance in which the rights of either House have been trenched on. As the question has been raised, it does seem to me that this Chamber is in much greater danger of arriving at a condition which is vulgarly described as “ swelled head “ with regard to its rights, than it is of any voluntary surrender of those rights. I think that the rights of the Senate will always depend upon its reasonable exercise of the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution. I hope that they will be so regulated by a due regard to the underlying principles of the Constitution, and to the necessity for carrying on responsible government under that Constitution as to prevent the Senate from taking any unreasonable course. The last speaker stated, in an admirably concise way, a question of extreme difficulty with which we shall have to deal at some time or other. Irefer to the subject of riparian rights, and to the power vested in the Commonwealth in connexion with the control of the waters of navigable rivers. But I do not intend to enter into a discussion of that subject now. I quite agree with Senator Downer that the mere suggestion of the rights which are involved in this connexion opens up a vista of conflicting interests which, if pushed, to an extremity will, I think, convince any one of the unwisdom of raising unnecessary questions until we have established a tribunal to decide them. The Government have been blamed - and I hardly thought it possible for any honorable senator to so censure us - for not completing by legislation the establishment of the Inter-State Commission, and of the High Court of Australia ; but, after all, we are only human, and we can do only the work of men. I should like to know how it would have been possible, during the seventeen months that we have been in session, to do more work than we have accomplished. I admit that there might have been less talk, but unfortunately we cannot always regulate that. Considering the time Ministers were obliged to devote to the great matters of organization which they had to bring for ward, and the period occupied in passing them through Parliament, it has been utterly impossible for us to achieve more. It is indeed unfortunate that even many of the friends of federation expected us to accomplish the whole gigantic work of organizing the. Commonwealth within one session. It could not have been done within that period. We had to make a selection of what measures could be passed, and we considered that the Bill which would insure the collection of the Customs revenue of the Commonwealth was one of the most important which could engage our attention ; that the establishment of Inter-State freetrade throughout Australia was a matter of supreme moment, and that we ought to bring home to the people at the earliest possible date all the advantages conferred by federation in making the Commonwealth one market, and putting its finances upon a stable footing. That involved the passage of numerous machinery measures, and the harmonizing of the Tariffs of the various States in the Federal Tariff, which we have just passed. In addition to that, we have placed our electoral system upon a proper basis, and regulated our franchise. We have put the seal of Australian opinion upon the races which we think should inhabit this continent. We have decided the manner in which the kanaka question is to be dealt with. If one looks impartially at the work which has been done in connexion with organization - in connexion with preparing and carrying these measures through Parliament - it must be admitted that we have accomplished a gigantic task. There are some matters to which I desire to refer only in a general way, because they can be more properly dealt with in committee. One question is typical of the others. I refer to the proposal to provide what has been variously described as a “ picnic,” or expedition around Australia. In regard to this matter, I desire to say at once that whilst my honorable colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, evidently entertains strong views upon it - views which have been made public- the Cabinet has in no way considered or settled it, and honorable senators will realize that the scheme cannot be given effect to until the Cabinet has approved of it. At the same time, I may say that I am in strong sympathy with the motive which has actuated the Minister for Home Affairs in planning that expedition. It is essential to the proper performance of the duties of the representatives of the people in both Houses, not only that they should make themselves acquainted with the actual needs of every part of Australia, but that the Government should, as far as possible, afford them proper facilities for travelling from one part of the continent to the other. As we have provided “members with railway passes to enable them to travel to and from Parliament, similar facilities should be granted in respect of the railways in every part of Australia, so that honorable senators may become familiar with the requirements of the great country for which they have to legislate. I would extend that privilege’ to those States with which we have communication only by steamer - to Tasmania and Western Australia. As the Government will offer reasonable facilities to enable members of the Commonwealth Parliament to visit every portion of this continent,. I trust that those facilities will be availed of as far as practicable, and that members will thus fit themselves for the discharge of their legislative duties. But the question of whether the travelling is to be undertaken in the form suggested by the Minister for Home Affairs, has, I repeat, not yet been decided. At the same time, the Senate may rest well assured that the Government hold a strong view of the necessity for avoiding any unduly large outlay, and for keeping the expenditure of the Commonwealth within lines which will give no cause for comment upon extravagance. Of course it is impossible to avoid that comment. There seems to be a spirit abroad among some people which prompts them to seize upon every small item of Commonwealth expenditure, and to immediately put it under scarce headlines. For instance, my honorable friend, Senator Smith, in his very able speech, rather surprised me by the extravagant way in which he referred to the proposal to provide accommodation for members of this Parliament in the capitals of the different States as one for the establishment of “club houses “ throughout Australia. The real fact is, that in every State of Australia the Commonwealth must have some abiding place for its own officers. It has its own officers in the Customs and Post-office departments, and it will be necessary to have some room or office in which can be transacted the work of the Commonwealth in regard to the care . of the public works and buildings and other matters of that kind. Surely it is not very much to ask that in this official residence of the Commonwealth in each of the States there should be some accommodation provided so that honorable senators may feel that they are beholden to no one when they desire to write a letter, or -to read a paper, or to carry out in any way that they may think fit their public duties as representatives of the people 1 What justification is there for branding this as a scheme for establishing club-houses throughout Australia 1
– Under the States Governments they have Ministers’ rooms. at the chief centres outside the capital.
– Undoubtedly so. When we are dealing with the expenditure of the Commonwealth, it appears to me that, although we must exercise every possible economy, it does not make in favour of economy or efficiency to indulge in this absurd exaggeration over every step taken by the Commonwealth to provide conveniences for its officers or representatives. .
– I am sorry that the Minister mentioned the matter, because the States Parliaments admit representatives of the Commonwealth to their refreshmentrooms and libraries, and in fact extend to them every facility which is enjoyed by members of the States Legislatures.
– I do not agree with the honorable and learned senator in this matter. It is not by this tin-pot criticism of small matters that we shall advance the real interests of economy.
– It is not fair to advance the convenience of honorable senators as a reason for making the provision suggested, because there is no real necessity for it.
– There is another matter of the same kind to which I wish to refer. It has been said that the creation of a’ department for the purpose of looking after the public works of the Commonwealth involves unnecessary extravagance. Let me direct the attention of honorable senators for a few minutes to the present position of affairs. The Commonwealth possesses something like £12,000,000 worth of property. This consists of fortifications, and of buildings and works of various kinds, which certainly require the care and attention of skilled officers if they are to be kept in a proper state of repair. How is this to be done 1 Either by utilizing the services of State officials or by employing a staff of our own. We have tried the system of employing State officials, and have found it eminently unsatisfactory. Honorable senators who have had any experience of building know that there is no way in which money can be lost more readily than by leaving construction or repair work to look after itself. ‘ In stating that our experience with State officials has been very unsatisfactory, I have every feeling of gratitude towards the States Governments for the. spirit in which they have always .met us. They have always been willing to do all they can to help us in looking after outworks and buildings, but they have necessarily and properly made one condition. They have said - “ We have no objection to your buildings and works being looked after by our officers, provided it does not interfere with their own work.” As the result of this we have found that the State work comes . first, and the Commonwealth work next. We have also realized the ‘disadvantage arising from the want of control over State officers, and our inability to hold them reresponsible for any mistakes which may be committed by them. We find, moreover, that the system of relying on State officials is an extravagant one, and that it is better to have our own officers, whom we can control, to deal with the whole of these works under a uniform system.
– That is more costly.
– It is not more costly. At present we are in a state of transition. Part of the Work is being carried out under the old system of supervision by State officers, and part by our own officers,’ and we find that the cost in the latter case is infinitely less than in the other. We believe, therefore, that it is very much better to appoint our own staff. If the work is to be done by our own officers, there are two ways in which it can be carried out. We may establish a branch in connexion with each department, and give it the control of the works to be attended to in that department. For instance, in the Post-office there would be a works branch, and in the Customs department there would be a similar institution. That would involve separate’ systems, and it would be impossible for the various branches to work together. It would also be inimical to economy and to the utilization of material to the best advantage. Therefore, the simplest plan will be to have one department to carry out all works under proper supervision. If the department is to be properly administered, there must be an officer - who is described in the Estimates as the Inspector-General of Public Works, and who is to be paid £1,000 a year - to perform the most important work. He must be able to look after the fortifications and the property contained in them, -.and buildings of all kinds, from the large edifices in Sydney and Melbourne to the smallest post-office in a country town. I need hardly say that he must be an officer of experience, and of high and general qualifications, and that he must be paid adequately. It will be necessary for him also to have under him the officers who- are described in the Estimates ; and we believe that in the interests of the Commonwealth property and of economy this department should be created in the way provided for. In moving the second reading of the Bill I spoke at some length upon the Defence department, not because I thought it was of more importance than many others which must be discussed in connexion with this Bill, but because I saw - and my opinion has proved to be correct - that that was the principal point of attack. I do not intend to follow honorable senators in all their criticisms, or to reply to the several able speeches made upon that subject. I should like in a few words to put what appears to me to be the duty of the Government, and the duty of Parliament at the present time in regard to this question. There is no doubt that the present condition of things is extremely unsatisfactory. We have taken over this important and large department. We have had it under our control since, I believe, March 1901. Before we could organize a system it was necessary to pass an Act of Parliament laying down something like the rights and obligations of the forces, and the method of our organization. A Bill was introduced for that purpose in the House of Representatives. But it very soon became apparent that the settlement of this question could not be satisfactorily accomplished until we had with us an expert officer to take charge of the Australian forces. We found great difficulty in selecting an officer. The intervention of the war in South Africa and other matters made it very difficulty to make a selection. We did our best, but there was a great deal of delay on the part of the War Office at Home in selecting a gentleman who would be suitable and acceptable to us. Finally, we did make a selection - a selection admitted generally to be a most suitable one. General Hutton did not arrive here until April last, and he issued his report in the following month. It is a very able report indeed ; and it points out what, in his opinion, the organization should be. In the meantime, however, it had become quite evident that until we had his report dealing with the whole question it would be unwise to pass a Defence Act ; and that until we had an Act of Parliament systematizing, and bringing together the separate organizations- as they had existed in the different States, it would be most unwise to try and lay down any definite basis to work upon, or to do anything else than carry on things as they were.
– But the Government did do something more than that.
– Have I not said so % If the honorable and learned senator is going to interrupt me, I would advise him to listen to what I have to say. I said that we introduced a Bill, but that it very soon became apparent that it would be impossible to complete the work until the arrival of the officer to take charge of the forces. Meantime, the necessity for the completion of the Tariff became so urgent . that it was impossible to obtrude any other business upon the House, and thus the year went by without the passing of a Defence Bill. In the circumstances there was nothing else to be done, but to maintain the forces as they were, at the same time, cutting down all unnecessary expenditure. In cutting down any expenditure found to be extravagant there was really only one course which could be adopted. It appeared to be impossible for Parliament, in the absence of a system, to set to work to cut down the expense in- volved in having one officer here, to say that an -officer in another place was unnecesary, and to go into ali the details. The only way in which reductions could be effected pending the establishment of the new system was for Parliament to obtain an undertaking from the Minister for Defence, that after consulting his officers and in the exercise of his best judgment, he would cut down the expenditure by a certain amount. And so . it was that Sir John Forrest promised after the introduction of the first Estimates to cut them down by £131,000. He cut them down by £175,000; but as a matter of fact, as I have pointed out already, he saved only £62,000 in the actual expenditure. That was because the expenditure was very much less than was estimated, owing to the fact that a number of officers and men in the forces went away to South Africa, and because of other causes which I have described. For these reasons, the only thing was done that could be done, and this cutting down took place. When the next Estimates were introduced, although they were £175,000 less than the previous Estimates, it became evident that Parliament, not being in a position to arrive at any new system, still thought that there should be further pruning, so as to bring the total down to some £700,000. The Acting Minister for Defence has undertaken to do that, or to cut down the expenditure of the department by something like £62,000, and the Senate may rest well assured that that cutting down will be done in such a way as not to diminish substantially the efficiency of the forces, and not to destroy those portions which it is necessary should be kept together in any scheme of organization. Consent would not have been given to a reduction to that extent without consultation with the proper officers, and full and explicit instructions have been given that, in carrying out this further reduction, nothing is to bedone which would permanently impair the efficiency of the nucleus of a force which we now have. Something has been said with regard to cutting down the Headquarters Staff. That staff is no larger than is absolutely necessary to carry out the exceedingly important work in hand. What work could be more important or more difficult - what work could require more knowledge or greater ability - than this 1 They have to deal with something like 26,000 men, with forts, stores, and equipments on a corresponding scale, and the organization has to he carried on throughout the whole of Australia. Different conflicting systems have to be brought into harmony as far as possible, and all this has to be done with justice to each State, with due regard to efficiency, and as far as possible with justice to all the individuals composing the forces. This is a work which can be done only by the application of the greatest amount of knowledge, ability, and assiduity. Honorable senators may perhaps not be aware that members of the Head-quarters Staff have not only the work of inspecting and appearing on parades, and of making a gallant show as some seem to think, but most of them have been kept week after week working until eleven o’clock and twelve o’clock every night in order to do all that is necessary to be done, so that the scheme to be determined upon may work smoothly and properly. No one who knows anything about these matters can doubt, for one moment, that the giant work of any scheme of organization depends upon having all the details so completely under control that the officer carrying them out knows exactly what he is about, and the best way to manipulate all the forces at his disposal. All this involves an immense amount of detail, and certainly requires - whilst the work of organization is going on - the attention of every member of the staff in order that it may be carried out properly. By-and-by, when the scheme of organization has been completed, and the new system is in working order, it may be possible to do without some of the officers on the Head-quarters Staff, and no doubt it will be cut down. But until that time comes it would be the falsest kind of economy to cut down the men who are to be intrusted with the most important work of the whole of our organization. For the sake of a little economy in the Head -quarters Staff, the men who are to carry out that work, we may be losing very much in efficiency, and perhaps losing thousands of pounds in expenditure. I hope, therefore, that when honorable senators come to deal with the Estimates in detail, they will recognise that, pending the adoption of this new system, it is absolutely essential that there should be preserved for the purpose of carrying out this organization an efficient and adequate staff at headquarters. There are some matters of detail to which I had intended to refer, but upon which I shall not speak unless the questions are raised again. One matter to which I must refer is the supply of ammunition. It has been said by Senator Matheson that a large portion of the saving has been made .at the expense of depleting the stores of ammunition. That is not so, because although the difference in expenditure upon ammunition between this year and last is something like £52,000, the saving has been effected without weakening the stores of small arms ammunition. The fact is, that in the case of all the States the stores of ammunition were allowed to run down so low that it was necessary during last year to incur very heavy expenditurein order to bring up the reserves to what they ought to be. With the stores which are now in our possession, which are ‘coming here under .order, and which are provided for in these Estimates, there will be the ordinary adequate supply for the services of the troops. There will also be an adequate reserve, and there will be something like 1,500,000 of small arms ammunition beyond the reserve. So that there is no necessity to incur heavy expenditure during this year, and the saving can be made without in the least degree affecting the efficiency of our ammunition supply. That statement applies also to the supply of warlike stores for the guns that have been already referred to. The honorable senator mentioned Albany and Thursday Island in dealing with the artillery. I quite agree with what has been so well said by my honorable friend, Senator Cameron. I think with the honorable senator that it would be a great pity to do anything which would interfere with the efficiency of our artillery forces, and the great bulk of our permanent force is an artillery force. But a distinction must be drawn between different portions of Australia in this respect. There are places like Sydney and Newcastle where we have in our partially-paid force, or militia, a very efficient force accustomed to drill with the guns, which are there in position, and which they will have to use in time of war. They have their regular drills, and although, undoubtedly, they are not as expert as the professional artillerymen, they are sufficiently expert to be intrusted with the working of these guns, and after a very few days’ continuous training their efficiency would be beyond question. In such places there is no necessity to keep our artillery force up to the same strength as in places where we have not the assistance of the militia in the same way. I have referred to Sydney and Newcastle as illustrations of places where we have a militia ready at hand and reasonably efficient, but at Albany, as I understand, there is not the same supply of militia or of the volunteer element, and no doubt in such places the permanent artillery force ought to be kept up to its full strength. As Senator Matheson has pointed out, the force is not at its full strength at Albany at the present time. There is there a major who is an Imperial officer, under engagement with the Imperial authorities, and whose services, therefore, cannot be dispensed with until his time of service is expired. There is also a lieutenant, and there should be a force of 50 non-commissioned officers and men. As a matter of fact, by reason of the stoppage of recruiting, and of the fact that the term of service of many of the men has expired, there are only something like 25 men there now. The vacancies have not been filled up, but as soon as this system is brought into operation the result will be that we shall be able, I hope, to reduce the numbers of the artillery, and though there may be fewer stationed in places where we can get the militia to do the necessary work, all the vacancies in places like Albany and Thursday Island will be filled up when necessary. In that way we hope to be able even to cut down the numbers of the permanent artillery without in any way impairing the efficiency of our artillery force in general. I do not think it necessary to refer to any other matters. Some very interesting speeches have been made with regard to the naval force and future plans for our outer line of defence - the navy. I think honorable senators will realize that it will be impossible for me at present under all the circumstances to discuss that question. Parliament will be asked early next session to consider the new proposal which the Prime Minister brings from the Imperial Conference. Until he has had an opportunity of explaining it in all its details I do not think it desirable that I should say anything about it, having only at my command the imperfect knowledge and materials we have at the present time. It does not enter into the discussion here, because fur the next two years we are bound to pay the £106,000 included in these Estimates. So far as the present is concerned, therefore, our contribution is fixed. When dealing with the future condition of things, it seems to me that it will be time enough to discuss the very interesting questions which have been raised by some honorable senators with regard to our navy. I hope now that the Senate will proceed at once to get through the details of this measure, and that it will become law as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £2,621,197).
– I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will not now consent to our reporting progress, and proceed with the Bill in committee to-morrow? I understand it is the honorable and learned senator’s intention that we should meet early to-morrow.
– I think we should go through the clauses of the Bill until we come to something in connexion with which some difficulty is raised.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Appropriation of supplies, £3,986,794).
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I point out that in these clauses we are being asked to fix the amount that is to be paid. In these clauses it is proposed to appropriate large sums of money, and it is clear that these provisions are contingent upon the passage of the schedule in which the details of expenditure are set out.
– I shall make no difficulty whatever about a reconsideration if there is any alteration made.
.- I accept the honorable and learned senator’s assurances to that effect.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Con nor) -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at11 o’clock a.m.
Senate adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19021008_senate_1_12/>.