1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to consult Parliament before deciding on the distinctive names to be given to the Federal Territory and the Federal Capital after Parliament has fixed upon the locality, in accordance with section 125 of the Constitution Act ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is - Yes.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to appoint at an early date aRoyal Commission to obtain and furnish information respecting the feasibility of the Commonwealth taking over the States debts, or a rateable proportion thereof, in accordance with section 105 of the Constitution Act?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Treasurer intends to confer at an early date with the States Treasurers on this subject. After that conference the Government will consider as to whether it is necessary to appoint a Royal Commission.
Customs Prosecutions : Farmer and Co.
– I ought to have called upon Senator Pulsford before the questions were asked, because he has given me a written intimationin pursuance of standing order 60 that he intends to move that the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until an unusual hour.
– Are you, sir, going to allow the honorable senator to move the adjournment now?
– Although properly speaking he has lost the opportunity of doing so?
– Yes, because it is my fault. I did not open the letter until after the questions had been asked.
– I am not objecting. I only wish to remark that you are following a precedent which you established in the case of Senator Cameron.
– I do not propose to debar the honorable senator from moving the motion.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until a quarter past 2 o’clock p. m. to-morrow.
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
– I am taking this course in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance with regard to the administration of the Customs Department. Exactly one year ago, on the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, I was criticising the Customs administration, and amongst other cases of prosecution to which I referred was that of Farmer and Co., which I described in these words : -
The firm of Farmer and Co. is an important Sydney house, and passes entries, I suppose, 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.
With regard to that statement, I heard nothing further until the month of May, when the late Minister for Trade and Customs addressed a public meeting in the Sydney Town Hall. In the course of his address, he referred to my criticisms on the Customs Department, and made an attack on myself, which was marked, shall I say, with that vigour, of which he, as every body knows, is a master. He said that the statement which I have just read “ did not contain a word of truth in it.” In consequence of his statement I visited the police court where the prosecution had taken place, and asked leave to see the depositions. I found that they sustained my statement - that the prosecution had taken place on that very case. But Mr. Kingston said something else at the public meeting. He said that that case was withdrawn and that the prosecution took place in regard to another mistake of a larger character. I also saw the depositions in that case, and I found that it was marked “withdrawn.” Naturally I communicated the result of my visit to the Sydney press some time in May. In June Mr. Kingston, in defending his Customs administration generally in the other House, reverted to this matter, and made a more severe attack upon myself. I believe I shall not be in order in referring specifically to what he said. Therefore, I cannot deal with his remarks except to say that they were of a more grave character still. He wantonly declared that there was no truth in what I stated, and imputed positive misrepresentation to me. I followed up the matter, and the firm told me that the Customs House documents would sustain the statements which they had made, that before they could get delivery of the bale of rugs they had to give a guarantee which was marked “ prosecution having taken place,” and that the other guarantee was marked, “ in the event of a prosecution being ordered.” In the Senate I endeavoured to secure the production of the papers. I had a motion for that purpose on the businesspaper for several weeks, but there was an objection to its being taken as formal business, and, therefore, it could not be moved. At last the Government consented to my asking for the production of the papers. On the 22nd July I asked the question, and the Government agreed that the papers should be sent for. On the 13th August a packet of papers was laid on the table. In my question I asked for the production of all the papers, especially mentioning the guarantees, and so on, but to my surprise I found that those special papers had not been included in the return. I mentioned the fact to Senator O’Connor, and he at once said that the Government would write for the balance of the papers. Evidently his promise was kept, for a week later the Customs authorities sent them to Senator Drake. He handed them to me to look through, and I found that the guarantee paper given to the Customs House, like the document at the Police Court, sustained the truth of what I had said - that a prosecution had taken place in regard to this matter ; but, strange to say, this guarantee was accompanied by a statement signed by a Customs officer as follows : -
Guarantees attached. They were accepted by me, and at the time they were so taken the papers connected with the matter were absent. I regret to say that in making the alterations visible’ the rug case was taken, and not the furniture one. The importers were anxious and’ bustling for delivery, and I took the” statement of the shipping clerk who had been present at theCourt as to the particular case in which the prosecution had taken place. I much regret the error, but I am sure the Collector will bear me out when I say that I am not usually so credulous.
We are face to face with one of the most remarkable things that I ever experienced. A prosecution took place; the Ministry say that it did not take place in a certain case ; the depositions at the Police Court show that it did, and a guarantee given to and accepted by the Customs House also shows that it did. . It is not for me, after having argued so frequently here that in all business there must be a certain margin of mistake, to say that the Customs and Police authorities did not make a mistake in this case. It is quite - possible that they did. It is possible that it will never be known exactly in which case the prosecution did take place. But it is quite evident that the statements which I made were amply justified ; that there wasno lack of fair play ; that there “ was no straining a point ; that there was no misrepresentation in anything I said either in the Senate or in the press of Sydney. I wish to draw the attention of the Senateto the fact that the Customs officers in Sydney were aware that a grave - imputation had been made against myself, that they made no effort to remove it, and that, apparently, even the Minister wasmisled ; that - further and worse than all - when these identical papers were asked for, in the first instance they were suppressed,, and that the Government had to write a second time before they were obtained. I am satisfied to have been able to make thispublic explanation. It remains for theGovernment to consider whether they ought not to call upon the Customs Department to make an inquiry as to the reason which actuated the officers in remaining silent solong as they did, and why when they were asked for these papers, they apparently endeavoured to suppress them.
– I have not the papers in this case before me. I heard Senator Pulsford say last night that he intended to move the adjournment of the Senate to refer to the Customs administration, but I did not know that it had any reference to this case. I gather from his statement this afternoon that he has been supplied with all the papersthat he has asked to see. I have not the? details to supplement the outline of the case, but my information is to the effect that there was confusion between two cases, one involving only a few shillings, and the other involving.£4:0or £-50, and that a guarantee “was given in each case. In the Police Court, one case - the big case, I believe - was called on, but the papers were marked wrongly by the depositions clerk, and that appears to be the ground-work of Senator Pulsford’s complaint. A conviction was obtained, and the other case was withdrawn, but it appears that the papers which related to the case involving the smaller amount were marked as referring to the case involving the larger amount. I cannot see “that the honorable senator has any substantial grievance.
– He was charged by the Minister, at a public meeting in Sydney, with having told an untruth.
– I have no information on the subject, and I do not know on what information Senator Pulsford is going. So far as the facts of the case are concerned, which, of course, can be ascertained by reference to the papers, the whole complaint is based on a mistake which took place in the police court. I can see no. evidence of any real grievance in the honorable senator’s statement. His charge against the late Minister for Trade and Customs is a matter which rests between the honorable senator and that right honorable gentleman. I do not see that the -present Government have anything to do with the matter.
– I must admit that I am rather surprised that the Attorney-General did not express sympathy with Senator’ Pulsford in the circumstances. At a public meeting in Sydney, at which there were thousands of persons present, Senator Pulsford was held up as a man who had made a gross misstatement ; and surely, when it has been shown that the charge was not a just one, the person who made it, in error possibly, should just as publicly correct it, and should not allow a suspicion of this kind to rest upon an honorable man like Senator Pulsford. There has been a considerable feeling of dissatisfaction among the honorable : senator’s friends in Sydney, who believe that he has been insulted. I, as one of the honorable senator’s friends, say that there is no man in Australia who stands higher in my estimation than does Senator Pulsford.
– I have not much to say. It is evident from the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral that Senator Pulsford has been misled. This is the substance of the grievance which the honorable senator has brought before the Senate. The late Minister for Trade and Customs, knowing more about the position of affairs than Senator Pulsford, naturally contradicted the statement, which was not according to the facts. . Senator Pulsford went to the court, and, instead of discovering the real facts, discovered the mistake which has been explained by the Attorney-General. We are all sorry for the honorable senator, but we know that his impetuosity sometimes leads him astray when anything connected with fiscal matters is under discussion. So far as the honorable- senator’s feelings have been hurt, we all sympathize with him, and hope that he will not do it again.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - The matter before the Senate is not a proposal to decide in which of these cases the prosecution actually took place, but whether or not Senator Pulsford has misrepresented the case, and has, to put it shortly, been guilty of lying.
– No, no; that is not suggested.
– I believe I am not at liberty to quote the words used by the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs in another place. Had I been at liberty to do so, I should have referred in the Senate to what the right honorable gentleman said the week following that in which the statement was made. It is a matter of no interest to the public to know in which of these cases the prosecution took place. I gave the details in one case, and in the other the Clerk took one invoice in two sheets, and did not notice that the amount on the first page had not been carried forward to the second. Any one who knows anything about commercial affairs is aware that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the amount is carried on from page to page to the final total.
– And the mistake is always against the Government.
– That was done in this case. I repeat that it is not any longer a question as to which of these cases the prosecution took place upon.
That, I believe, will never be satisfactorily known, but the question of my political honesty should be of some importance to honorable senators. Senator McGregor, as a Scotchman, will remember the Scotch saying - “Its an ill bird that fouls its ain nest,” and the honorable senator ought to be as ready as any one else to see an unjust imputation removed from another honorable senator.
– I am very sorry.
– I am perfectly satisfied as to my own action. I referred to the documents at the police court, and some of the police officials believe that there was a mistake. I have referred to the documents in the hands of the Customs Department, and the Customs officials believe that a mistake was made. I have proceeded entirely upon public documents, and I ought not to be stigmatized as a man who told untruths, or was guilty of wilful misrepresentation. . Having explained the position, and having stated what the documents disclosed, I am perfectly satisfied with regard to myself. The matter to which I specially directed the attention of the Government, and in connexion with which I think some reply ought to be made, was as to whether they should not institute some inquiry to find out why the officers of the Customs Department attempted to suppress the documents for which I asked, and which were necessary to show what had been done. My request has been plainly stated, and it certainly ought to be answered. The members of the Ministry have not seen fit to take any notice of it, and there I leave it.
I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Resolved(on motion by SenatorClemons) -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Harney on account of urgent private business.
Bill read a third time.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Higgs) -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an
Act to provide for the acquisition of land for the purposes of the seat of government by the Commonwealth, for dealing with land so acquired, and for other purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the passage of a Bill for an Act to amend the High, Court Procedure Act 1903 through all its stages without delay.
I should not ask honorable senators to suspend the Standing Orders to deal with a contentious matter. A simple alteration is found to be necessary in the High Court Procedure Act, and I think the Bill it is intended to introduce will not give rise to any debate. I may now explain the object of the Bill in order to avoid the necessity for referring to it at length upon the second . reading. In the High Court Procedure Act there is a. section- under which a case may be removed out of the District Registry to the Registry for the purpose of making an application. When the Bill was framed it was contemplated that there would be five Judges, and that there would consequently be no necessity to make provision for removing a cause from one Registry to another. As there are only three Judges of the High Court, it may frequently happen that there will be no Judge at one of the principal Registries to deal with applications that may require to be made, and a slight amendment of the Act is therefore necessary to provide that causes may be removed from one Registry to another for the purpose of an application. If, for instance, a’ writ isissued out of the Registry here in Melbourne, and there is no J udge in Melbourne at the time, the object of the Amending Bill is to provide that an application in connexion with the cause may be made at some other Registry - for instance, in Sydney. Where a cause is pending in one of the capitals, an application may be made to a Judge, who may be in another capital, to deal with some matter connected with it.
– Would that put litigants to any inconvenience?
– No ; just the other way. The intention is to study the convenience of litigants by enabling causes to be removed from one Registry to another in the same way as power is given under the High Court Procedure Act already for the removal of a cause from the District Registry to the Registry. In order to effect the required alteration, the proposed Bill provides for the striking out of sub-section 1 of section8, and the substitution of another provision therefor, because the phraseology would be different ; and for the omission of the word “ district “ from each of the sub-sections of that section and sections 9, 10, and 11. The amendment sought to be made is entirely in the interests of litigants.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the High Court Procedure Act 1903.
Bill presented and read a first and a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Temporary transfer).
– I am not exactly clear about this provision. I suppose it is all right, but these Bills which are passed ostensibly in the interests of litigants usually turn out to be rather in the interests of the legal profession. A leading provision of the Bill is intended to permit a party to a cause to temporarily transfer the hearing of the cause from one place where the High Court sits to another place where it may be sitting at a particular time. Is it not desirable that the consent of the other party should be given to any transference of the kind ?
– The Judge will see to that. He will see that no advantage is obtained by one party.
– Suppose a cause is being tried at Melbourne, and one of the parties applies for its transference to Sydney. It would appear to be necessary that the other party to it should hire counsel and agents to represent him there. It appears to me that in some instances this provision will merely result in the piling up of legal expenses. I do not profess to understand these things, but it does appear to me that some difficulty of the kind I have suggested might arise. It is provided that an application may be lodged with the Registrar, but there is no provision that the Registrar shall give notice of the application to the other party to the cause.
– If it is not an application which can be made ex parte, the Judge will see that the other party to the cause is represented.
– What Judge?
– The Judge before whom the application is heard.
– It does seem to me that some difficulty may arise out of this right of transfer.
– It is all right.
– When Senator Clemons tells me that it is all right I believe it is all wrong. Anyhow, I suppose it will have to go.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 7th October, vide page 5780) :
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £30,305.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South
Australia). - I wish to call attention to three items which have reference to the salaries to be paid to officers of this Chamber. As the Estimates appear before us now, the Clerk of Papers and Accountant receives a salary of £380 ; the head housekeeper and doorkeeper a salary of £205 ; and the President’s messenger, a salary of £188. When the Estimates were first submitted to the House of Representatives by the Government, these salaries were respectively £420, £235, and £204, which are the salaries paid to similar officers in the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives, however, reduced the salary of the Clerk of Papers by £40 ; that of the housekeeper and doorkeeper by £30 ; and that of the President’s messenger by £16. I admit that from a pounds shillings and pence point of view the amount is not very large, but there is a principle involved. Are the officers in the Senate to be placed in a position inferior to that of officers of the House of Representatives? Attention should be called to the fact that the House of Representatives increased the salaries to be paid to their own officers by the sum of £70. I do not mean to say that the Estimates were increased by that amount, but the House of Representatives assented to the Estimates which raised the salaries of the officers of the House of Representatives by £70. A junior clerk employed by the House of Representatives has received an increase of £10, and there is an item of £60 - which did not appear in last year’s Estimates - in order to provide for increments and adjustments of salaries. What the House of Representatives did was to increase the salaries of their own officers by £70, and decrease the salaries of the officers of the Senate by about £100.
I may, however, add that the House Committee of the Senate expressed the unanimous opinion that the salaries of all officers, messengers, Sc. , of the Senate should be the same as the salaries of similar officers, messengers, &c. , in the House of Representatives.
The Government recognised that the claim of the Senate to be a House of co-ordinate jurisdiction and power with the House of Representatives ought to be acknowledged, and they brought down the Estimates in such a way as to carry out the view expressed by the House Committee. I take it, therefore, that the Government will support the suggestion that the House of Representatives should be asked to restore the salaries in the particular cases I have mentioned to the amounts which appeared originally in the Estimates. I, personally, do not want to move that a request to that effect be sent to the House of Representatives, but would rather leave that duty to some other honorable senator. I think it my duty, however, to bring the matter forward, because it is one in which I think the Senate ought to take action. I confidently rely on the Government support, seeing that such a request would only be carrying out a part of the Government policy.
– I am very glad that Senator Baker has brought this question before the Senate. I heard of the alteration in the Estimates, and I was rather surprised at the action of members of the House of Representatives. Like Senator Baker, I have no desire to say that this reduction of salaries was an undue interference on the part of the House of Representatives with our affairs. No doubt the House of Representatives have a perfect right to reduce the Estimates as they please; but I think their action was in very bad taste, seeing that they at the same time ratified increases of salaries proposed for their own officers. In my opinion, the House of Representatives very unjustly interfered with increases of salaries which had been unanimously agreed to by our House Committee, and accepted by the Government. It may be urged that the officers of Parliament are fairly well paid. It must also be recognised, however, that the officers of Parliament have very responsible duties to perform.
– So have we.
– I dare say that Senator Stewart is as much to blame as anybody for the scale on which members of the Federal Parliament are remunerated ; but that is not the question we are discussing at the present time. The officers of this Chamber have responsible duties to perform, and can show long and faithful service. They are trustworthy, obliging, and reliable, and if they receive higher wages than are paid to men occupying similar positions outside, that may be regarded as some return for a life-time spent in the Public Service. I am sure that the general public would not begrudge the increases which were sanctioned by the House Committee in the case of men who have carried out their duties so faithfully and well. There is no necessity for any lengthy debate on this matter. I am aware that in another place there was a good deal of misunderstanding when the question arose on the Estimates, and I believe that if we request the House of Representatives to restore the salaries to the figures originally proposed, very little objection will be raised. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salary of the Clerk of the Papers and Accountant from £380 to £420.
– The whole amount involved in the proposed increases is only £98, which, from a financial point of view, may be regarded as a mere nothing. The question is whether officers of the Senate, who perform duties quite as onerous as those performed by the officers of another place, shall not receive the same remuneration as is paid to the latter. It would have been more courteous and considerate on the part of the other House if it had left it to the Senate to decide what salaries should be paid to its officers. I do not think it would ever be proposed that the Senate should interfere with the salaries paid to the officers of the House of Representatives after the latter had decided on the amounts. I should like to point out to Senator McGregor that the remuneration paid to the shorthand writer and typist employed in the Senate has been reduced from £200 to £188. Perhaps that item was overlooked by Senator Baker when he introduced the subject. I shall move a request that the proposed increase be granted. In my opinion a typist and shorthand writer, capable of doing parliamentary work, is not too well paid at a salary of £200. The housekeeper and doorkeeper, who has been getting a. salary of £18S, has been in the sei- vice of the State and Federal Parliaments for thirty years. I am sure that it will be generally admitted that he has carried out his work faithfully and well. He is in charge of a staff, and is responsible for everything on this side of the building. He has to go on duty at an early hour, and to remain on duty until a late hour. He has to perform duties which the houskeeeper on the other side has not to discharge. Hehas to act as doorkeeper as well as housekeeper, so that he is on duty during the day as well as during the night. He has been in the Public Service nearly twice as long as the housekeeper on the other side. It was proposed in the Estimates that these two officers should receive the same rate of salary, but the other House cut down the salary cf our housekeeper and doorkeeper by £30, and that I think was most unfair. He has also to distribute all the papers of the Senate. He has never had a day’s holiday since this Parliament was opened. Soon, after the close of last session the State Parliament removed to this building, and it was necessary for him to remain here all the time to render to the Legislative Council similar service to that which he had rendered to the Senate. The Inter-State press-room is located on this side of the building, and therefore it has to be kept open until an unusual hour. I hope that the Committee will not hesitate to request that the proposed increase be granted. The increases for the Senate’s officers involve a total sum of only £98.
– Before the question is put, I wish to draw attention to the salaries of other officers. We ought to be extremely careful of what we are doing. We know perfectly well that the finances of the Commonwealth are not in too healthy a condition, and the other House, which lias control of the purse, has - on the score of economy, I suppose - refused increases to certain officers who, I believe, do not receive over much as it is. I do not wish to refer to their salaries, but to draw attention to the extravagant sums paid to the President, the Chairman of Committees, and the two Clerks at the table. We might very well save £1,000 a year on those four officers. Honorable senators may think that it is heresy for me to talk in thisfashion, but I conceive that I am merely doing my duty. What does the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the other House do to earn a salary of £1,500 - £400 as member and £1,100 as presiding officer. I consider that these officers are extravagantly paid. In all the States, in Canada, and, I believe, in the United States, the J salaries are fixed on a very much lower scale. In the States Parliaments the salaries of the Speakers average £1,000, and I am not very sure that it will not be reduced in the near future, now that the rage for economy is abroad. I would reduce the salaries of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the other House to £1,000 - namely, £400 as member and £600 as presiding officer, which I believe to be ample. Again, with regard to the salary of the Chairman of Committees-
– Would the honorable senator make him pay for keeping the place ?
– I am not very sure but that Senator Clemons would not be prepared to pay a premium for being here if there were no payment of members. I know a number of honorable senators who would like to pay a premium for a seat in the Senate in the absence of payment of members. I consider that £750 for the Clerk of Parliaments and £650 for the Clerk Assistant would be handsome salaries. Last session I made some remarks about the Usher of the Black Rod and Clerk of Select Committees. We might be able to economise in his case. What he does for a salary of £550 I cannot discover. When I look at the SergeantatArms putting the mace on the table of the other House, taking it off, placing it below the table, returning to his seat and merely looking at the proceedings, I begin to wonder whether we are fit to conduct the business of the country when we vote for his office a salary of £550. Senator Playford laughs, but his mind is bound up in obsolete customs. No doubt he reverences the mace, and would like to see a mace in the Senate.
– I would kick it out. Like Oliver Cromwell, I would say, “ Take away that bauble.”
– It ought to be taken away from the other House. In my opinion, the Clerk of Papers and Accounts is very well paid at £380 a year. So long as the officers do their duty their bread and water is sure. I do not know whether I should get any support if I moved a request for a reduction. I am afraid that I should not, but I think that this is a proper time to intimate that in the future the President may expect a reduction in his salary.
– He would go on strike.
– He might go on strike, but if he did there are several blacklegs who would be very glad to take the position even at a salary of £1,000. I protest against these high salaries which I think might very well be reduced without injury to the officers and with some profit to the Commonwealth.
– I was the member of the House Committee who proposed these increases for our officers, and the proposal was based on the principle that they ought to receive the same salaries as corresponding officers in the other House. Taking it all round, I believe that they are doing equally as much work.
– There can be no other reason, but that is a good one.
– I believe that this rule obtains in the States, except, perhaps, in the case of Victoria. It was provided in the Constitution Act of South Australia that the officers of the Legislative Council should receive the same salaries as the corresponding officers of the other House. After making inquiries I found that the duties which our officers were performing were quite equal to those of corresponding officers in the other House, and on that ground I asked the House Committee to recommend the Government to propose an increase for each officer. The increase was submitted on the Estimates as we desired, but to my regret it was struck off by the other House. In thecircumstances the only course open to me is to assist honorable senators in carrying a request to the other House to reinstate the increase.
– I think that the Committee should only consider the question whether the officer is getting sufficient remuneration for the work which he is doing. That is the only reason which will influence my vote. If it can be shown to me that any officer of the Senate is not paid a fair salary I shall be prepared to vote for an increase, but not otherwise. Any argument that a correspondingofficer in another place is getting a higher salary will not appeal to me in the slightest degree. I believe that it can be clearly shown that the housekeeper and doorkeeper is not receiving an adequate remuneration for his work. I am prepared to vote for an increase to his salary, but, after looking into the matter carefully, I am not prepared to vote for an increase to any other officer or to any messenger. The argument that the salaries of our officers should be the same as those of corresponding officers in the other House could be used as a reason why the latter should be reduced, so as to correspond with the former. I hope that the argument will not prevail with honorable senators. It was used by Senator Baker and to some extent by Senator Playford. Is a salary of £380 adequate for the work which is done by the Clerk of Papers and Accountant? It must be remembered that the salary is being fixed not for ‘ this year, but for a long time. Whatever sum may be decided upon now will not be reduced, but will probably be increased as the years go on. Will the tendency be towards long sessions ? Is it not a fact that, as our legislative powers are exhausted, the sessions will become shorter, and consequently the work of the officials will be lessened ? It should also be remembered that we had to take over certain officers from the States. We found that their salaries had been increased, until they were quite out of proportion to the importance of the work which they were doing. The natural consequence was an outburst of indignation throughout the Commonwealth, and, of course, some officers had to suffer.
– I have been anticipated by Senator Pearce. This spurious sense of dignity which we are trying to assume lias no weight with me. I do not see why we should regard all these officers as being exact duplicates of the officers of the other House. As a matter of fact, when we look at the Estimates, we find that they are not. Yet the chief argument which was adduced by the honorable senator who introduced this discussion, but did not move a motion, was that we should put ourselves on precisely the same footing as the other House. He was followed by Senator Playford, who, until I interjected, was using the same argument, and trying to induce the Committee to vote for higher salaries, simply on the ground that the positions were paralleled by positions in the other House to which larger salaries were attached. I entirely indorse what Senator Pearce has said. If that argument was any good, we should find ourselves in this disastrous position that, if the other House were guilty of extravagance, it would have to be duplicated by the Senate. We should find a majority in the Senate contending that whatever the officers of the House of Representatives received for work done’ should be paid to officers performing similar duties for the Senate.
– We might get a few lascars to do the work here.
– I am not advocating a reduction of salaries. The honesty of Senator Pearce in this matter makes his opinion preferable to that of Senator McGregor; and I agree that we should pay full value for services rendered, giving as close attention to these matters as the items of the Appropriation Bill will allow. I see no reason why the officer who, in the Senate, occupies the position of housekeeper and doorkeeper, and to whom it is proposed that a salary of £205 shall be paid, should not receive £235, the salary paid to the housekeeper and doorkeeper of the House of Representatives, or possibly more. I instance that as a strong reason why we should not be bound down to a close parallel with the House of Representatives. I can conceive that the housekeeper and doorkeeper of the Senate may perform work which is better deserving of a salary of £240 than is the work performed by the officer holding a corresponding position in the House of Representatives deserving of a salary of £235. The argument that officers in the Senate should be placed exactly on the same footing as officers in another place, because it is right that we should assert some spurious sense of dignity, is to my mind valueless. I indorse the argument used by Senator Pearce that so far as we can we should pay value for services rendered. It is possible that I and other honorable senators may vote wrongly in this matter. The amount whch we think should be paid to the Clerk mght be right or wrong, but in such a case I should prefer to err on the right side so far as the officials are concerned, and would rather overpay than underpay them. I regard that as a healthy solution of the difficulty. But with respect to the housekeeper and doorkeeper I am perfectly satisfied that I shall be right in voting for an increase in his case. With regard to the other increases, I shall risk it and vote for them also.
– I think that perhaps Senator
Clemons does not know all the facts con- jnected with this matter. I may mention the position in which the Legislative Council j of Victoria was placed when similar votes ‘ came before it. Whether for the sake of economy, or for some other reason, it was the fashion of the Legislative Assembly to cut down the salaries of officials connected with the Legislative Council considerably below the standard of salaries paid to officers of the Assembly.
– In order to earn a reputation for economy t
– On the ground of economy. As President of the Legislative Council I strongly protested against this action. It is not just that the Legislative Assembly in that instance, or the House of Representatives in this, should single out officers of the other Chamber in order to make reductions in the salaries paid. Senator Clemons has referred to the housekeeper and doorkeeper in the Senate. I can say from my own knowledge that that officer has been here for over thirty years ; and I am at a loss to understand why it should be proposed to pay him a smaller salary than that paid to the housekeeper and doorkeeper of the House of Representatives.
– He ought to be paid more.
– He ought to be paid fairly, and honorable senators must agree that it is very unfair that honorable members of the House of Representatives should propose to reduce the salaries of officers of the Senate. My contention has always been that the President of a Legislative Council, and, in this case, of the Senate, should frame his own estimates, and that these salaries for officials of the Senate should be voted in globo by honorable members of another place. I am quite sure that the President might be trusted to see that the salaries proposed to be paid to officers of the Senate are fair and just. He will probably be guided to some extent by what is done in another place, as well as by the services rendered by Senate officers. I ask honorable senators to protest against the practice of the House of Representatives of cutting down the salaries of officers connected with the Senate. If this is permitted we shall some day find the House of Representatives, when there is a little disturbance between the two Houses, showing their displeasure by striking off 25 or 30 per cent, of the salaries of officers of the Senate. That kind of thing has been done before in the State Parliament of Victoria.
-We have a remedy against that.
– We do not wish to have to resort to those remedies. We desire to have our rights maintained, and nothing more. I protest most strongly against the reduction proposed upon the salaries of officers of the Senate.
Request agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Staniforth Smith) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salary of the Shorthand writer and Typist from £188 to £200.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salary of the Housekeeper and Doorkeeper from £205 to £235.
Motion (by Senator Charleston) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salary of the President’s Messenger from .£188 to £204.
– Before we agree to this request, I should be glad to learn from the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether the Government propose to increase in the same way the salaries of all the other messengers, especially of those who have a record of Ions service. They have to discharge as important duties as the officers whose salaries we are now considering, and, speaking for myself, my vote upon this request will be very much influenced by the attitude which the Government propose to take. I wish to see justice done all round ; and, so far, it is not proposed that the salaries of the other messengers shall be increased. The messenger who looks after the papers performs as important, if not more important, duties than those performed . by the officer whose salary we are now considering ; and I wish to know whether it is intended to raise the salaries of all the messengers from £188 to £204.
– The salaries of all our messengers were originally considerably below the salaries of messengers of the House of Representatives. The anomaly was done away with last session ; and the salaries of all the messengers were increased to £188.
I am free to admit that if the salary of the Speaker’s messenger was fixed at £1S8 we ought not to increase the salary of the President’s messenger. Having adopted a general principle, and having requested the House of Representatives to increase other salaries, I would ask honorable senators whether they are now going to cavil at an increase of £16 a year for this officer. I wish to point out that we have an income of something like £11,000,000 and a corresponding expenditure: and the only development of economy exhibited by the House of Representatives in the Parliamentary votes is in reference to the salaries of officers of the Senate.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - We have just had a most excellent reason from Senator Baker why we should not do these things. We have heard the honorable and learned senator say that he is prepared to admit that £188 is a proper salary for this officer.
– I did not say that.
– I do not intend to misquote the honorable and learned senator. We have heard him say that if in the other House £1S8 a year was paid to the Speaker’s messenger, we ought not to move in the direction of increasing the salary paid to the President’s messenger.
– That is so.
– Then I am satisfied that I quoted the honorable and learned senator correctly. Such an argument is hopelessly bad, because it simply comes to this : that if the other House is extravagant, we must also be extravagant. The proposal is that we must increase a salary, not because the increase is deserved or has been earned, but because there has been extravagance elsewhere which we ought to live up to. I shall not vote for any increase of salary for a reason of that kind, and unless a better reason is submitted for this request I shall not support it. If Senator Baker’s contention is correct an opportunity is afforded him to move that the salary of the Speaker’s messenger be reduced to £188. We have so far heard no reason why the messengers attached to the President and Speaker should be paid more than the other messengers who are receiving a salary of £1S8 each. Being limited to the services of the President and Speaker, these officers would appear to have less to do than the ordinary messengers. Unless some satisfactory reason is given why the President’s messenger should be paid more than other messengers, I shall vote against the proposed request.
Senator DRAKE (Queensland - AttorneyGeneral^. - In justice to this messenger, it should be said that his duties are not entirely confined to waiting upon the President. He is also exceedingly useful to Ministers. It is very hard to draw comparisons between the work performed by one messenger and another, especially in the case of a messenger who occupies a somewhat confidential position. The officer whose salary we -are now considering certainly performs services for Ministers which are of considerable value.
– So do the other messengers.
– I am only correcting a statement made by Senator Clemons.
– I made no statement of the kind ; I asked for information.
– Senator Clemons appeared to be under the impression that this officer’s duties were confined to waiting upon the President, but as a matter of fact, in addition to those special duties, he is ready and willing at all times to assist Ministers : and it is very convenient for Ministers to have a messenger at hand to perform the duties which he readily undertakes.
– Will the honorable and learned senator assure me that this officer does more work; or work of a higher quality, than the other messengers?
– It would be exceedingly difficult to do that, or to make any comparison between the work performed by one messenger and another. I may say that this officer occupies a confidential position, and does very useful work. I hold no brief for him any more than for the other messengers. I desired merely to correct a misapprehension which might have arisen from the remarks made by Senator Clemons.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I wish to notify honorable senators that if this request is carried I intend to move requests that the salaries of the other messengers be increased by the same amount. We should not make any distinction between messengers, who, it appears to me, do equal work. It must be remembered that the President is away at the week end ; and that he will be away during the recess. Honorable members are constantly here, and at the week end the other messengers are on duty all day long in attendance upon them. I am of opinion that they do quite as much, if not more, work than that done by the President’s messenger. I remind honorable senators that the Speaker’s messenger last year received a salary of £204 : and the Senate permitted the disproportion to exist in last year’s Estimates. I shall vote against the proposed increase ; and I certainly think that if we are fair to the other messengers we shall see that if a salary of £204 is given to one it shall be given to all.
– Senator Clemons made some reference to the reduction in salaries paid to messengers of the House of Representatives, but we are not proposing that the salaries of officers of the House of Representatives shall be reduced. If the Speaker’s messenger deserves to be paid a salary of £204 a year, we say that the President’s messenger is entitled to the same salary.
– Because the same services are rendered by both officers.
– Does he render more service than the other messengers of the Senate ?
– I am not in a position -to balance these points ; but the other House decided that the remuneration of the Speaker’s messenger should be £204 per annum. There is nothing to show that the services rendered by the President’s messenger are not equal to the services rendered by the Speaker’s messenger, and the remuneration in each case should be the same.
– I shall support a request that the salary of the President’s messenger be restored to £204. To be consistent, we must either support the request now proposed, or suggest that the salary of the Speaker’s messenger be reduced to £188. I might as well intimate here that I intend to support the request which Senator Pearce has indicated his intention of moving in favour of increasing the other senior messengers’ salaries from £188 to £204.
– That would involve another message from the Governor-General, and cause a great deal of trouble.
– If any mistake has been made the Government are responsible for it, and it is simply my duty as a senator to see that justice is done. It is absurd to ! say that messengers, who are at the beck and j call of every member of the Senate for the i whole of the year- and we know that they were required by senators during the recess - should be paid less than a messenger whose chief is away from the building for five or six months at a time.
– Some, one has described this as a question of economy, but in my opinion it is a question of giving equal pay for equal work performed. I shall not support any suggestion to recommend that the salary of the corresponding officer in the House of Representatives should be lowered, because I do not think that another place would consent to any such reduction. The proper course is to increase the salary of the President’s messenger to £204 : but, if that course be taken, I contend that the salaries of the senior and junior messengers ought also to be increased.
– Senior and junior, messengers in both Houses receive the same salaries.
– But we have also to bear in mind that, whereas there are nineteen officers in the House of Representatives, there are only sixteen in the Senate ; and that clearly proves that at the very least the Senate officers must do an equal amount of work. After all, these messengers receive very small salaries, and I know that, even when the House is not sitting, they are sometimes called upon to stay in the evening for the convenience of two or three members. If a comparison lias to be made, I am of opinion that these messengers ought to be considered before the President’s messenger.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). - We are all trying to do the best we can under the difficult circumstances, and Senator Clemons was not, in my opinion, acting fairly when he impugned the honesty of any honorable senator. Whatever the motives of Senator Pearce or myself may be, they should not concern any honorable senator if we are trying to do what we think is right. So far as I understand, the recommendation for the increases of these salaries came from the House Committee, whose duty it is to inquire into all the circumstances. If that committee omitted to consider the claims of any messengers during last session, we can only hope that they will rectify the omission during next session. It would be throwing great discredit on the House Committee to ignore their work, and my belief is that they did their best to adjust the salaries according to the work. The request before the Committee is a proper one ; but if we begin to suggest amendments in connexion with matters which have not already been discussed in another place, difficulty will arise. Is that a wise course to pursue, even although we may believe that certain anomalies exist? It would be better to accept the recommendations of the House Committee, leaving it to that body, as soon as opportunity offers, to recognise any injustice which may have been done to any servant of Parliament. When Senator Clemons and other honorable senators argue so strongly as to the value of the work done, the question arises as to who is to estimate the value? If Senator Clemons had to work for eight hours a day with a pick and shovel, he would expect to be paid £1,500 a year, when he compared that work with the work he does at the present time. Faithful service must sometimes be recognised. The services of an officer of Parliament, or any other institution, are not always to bo gauged by the amount of sweat that he sheds, but rather by the confidence that can be placed in him, and by the value he gives. I have every confidence in the recommendations of the House Committee, and, therefore, I shall support the request moved by Senator Charleston.
– I should like to have a little information on one or two points. In the first place it is our duty to consider not only the interests of the officers, but also the interests of the taxpayers. On looking down the list of officers of the Senate and the House of Representatives, I am inclined to think, comparing the salaries with those paid outside by private employers and by the States Governments, that their remuneration is fairly generous. I can quite understand that if a man, who is junior in length of service, and possibly lass efficient, is chosen as the President’s or Speaker’s messenger at a higher salary, it may cause friction and some dissatisfaction amongst the other messengers. I should like to know from the President, or the representative of the Government, whether the President’s and Speaker’s messengers were selected for length of service, or on any other special ground, and whether they are entitled apart from their special positions to any increase of salary? I am not inclined, as representing the taxpayers, to increase the salaries of the rest of the messengers. We have just agreed to a request for an increase of the salary of the typist and shorthand writer to £200 per annum, and, taking that as a correct standard of payment, I do not see that it is fair or right to give salaries of £200 to messengers whose work, is not so important. If the messengers were here to speak for themselves,I think they would recognise that, as between them and the taxpayers and other States servants, they occupy well-paid situations. We ought not to be dragged into a position which compels the Senate to increase these salaries, which, I understand, were increased only last year. If a man receives £3 10s. per week as a messenger, he is very fairly paid. I acknowledge sincerely the efficient and careful way in which the messengers do their business ; but at the same time I think they are adequately paid. If we are forced into increasing salaries all round, and the Government are compelled to take the step of receiving another message from the Governor-General, it would be better to face the question at once, and ascertain whether the President’s messenger has any special claim to extra payment. If there is no such special claim, the salary ought to be left as it is, and a request made to the other House to reduce the salary of the Speaker’s messenger.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - I presume I am the only one who can answer the question put by Senator Dobson, but I can only answer it partially. I cannot say anything about the reasons which induced the Speaker to select his messenger. In my own case, my present messenger entered the Public Service in South Australia in 1888, and was messenger for a very long time. He is a most efficient messenger, who does his work very well, and that is the reason I chose him.
– I think we ought to have a statement from the representative of the Government as to whether the salaries of the other messengers are to be increased.
– The other messengers had their salaries increased last year.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 19
Noes … … … 4
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salaries of the senior messengers from £188 to £204.
The Committee has decided that the services of messengers are worth £204 per annum.
-I shall support the request proposed by Senator Pearce. I would ask honorable senators to look at the position calmly.
– It is impossible to get an increase without a Governor-General’s message.
– What have we got to do with Governor-General’s messages ? The Government, will have to attend to that. Let honorable senators have the courage of their opinions. I claim that if the services of one messenger who only attends upon one senator are worth £204 per annum, the services of other messengers who are at the beck and call of every senator ought to be paid for at the same rate. I do not think that any honorable senator can give any reason why this request should not be supported. Why should the President’s messenger be singled out for an increase ?
– His position is the blue ribbon of the service so far as the messengers are concerned.
– I do not know whether it is the blue ribbon, or the yellow ribbon, or the green ribbon ; but it appears to me that there is something inharmonious in the fact that one messenger, who, I presume, does less work than the others, should receive a higher salary. The one devotes his services to a single member of the Senate, whilst the services of the other messengers are busily engaged upon the requirements of thirty-five other senators.
– The proposal is not practicable.
– Senator Dawson thinks it is not practicable because of some formality that has to be complied with. Are we to be the slaves of red tape and precedent? I thought Senator Dawson was one of those whe refused to bow down to precedent.
– I came here to do business and not to fill Hansard.
– I do not know whether we can do business without filling Hansard or not. At all events, we must try to instil some common sense into the heads of honorable senators opposite.We must appeal to their reasoning faculties, if they have any. We must try to convince them, if only to make them consistent in their inconsistency. I shall be very glad to hear Senator Dawson, even at the risk of filling the already bloated volumes of Hansard, give reasons why he proposes to pay one messenger, who only attends to one senator, £204 per annum, whilst he proposes to pay a smaller salary to three messengers, each of whom has to attend to rather more than eleven senators.
– If I gave the reason the honorable senator would not understand it.
– I do not think that Senator Dawson understands it himself. At all events, I wish to hear some reason as to why other honorable senators take up this extraordinary attitude.
– The tone of the debate is pleasant, at all events to the extent that it shows that the Kyabram cry has very small influence here. If any alterations are to be made we are rather inclined to level up than level down. Seeing that we have proposed to increase the salary of one of the messengers who is junior to some of those who are receiving £188 per annum, we ought to be consistent, and increase the salaries of the latter.
– Why did not the honorable senator recommend that as a member of the House Committee ?
– The question did not come before the House Committee. If it had, the anomaly that appears on the original Estimates would not have remained if my vote could have altered it. We ought to put the messengers on a level. It is very hard to grade the work they have to do, and to determine which of them has the most onerous duties to discharge. But seeing that some of the messengers who receive £188 are senior to the one whose salary it is proposed to increase to £204, I shall vote for the request.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Can Senator Playford give us any information as to the item in division 2, House of Representatives - “ To provide for increment and adjustment of salaries, £60.”
– The Public Service Act appoints Mr. Speaker and myself as Commissioners in reference to the officers of the two Houses. We have power to make regulations and to classify officers. We have not done that yet. As a matter of fact, it depends to a very considerable degree upon the action of the two Houses as to whether we ought to do it or not, or as to whether the salaries of officers of Parliament should not be fixed. That is a question to be decided. In the meantime, the Speaker put down this amount to provide for possible increments, but I did not put down any sum.
– I wish to have a little information with regard to the continually recurring items for writing-paper, account-books and other office requisites. This item recurs in connexion with nearly every Department. Does each Department order its own paper and books, or is there some arrangement by which purchases are made at a minimum cost for the whole Commonwealth?
– The Treasurer has had this matter under his consideration for a. long time past. I believe that orders have already been placed for some kinds of stationery. At all events, the Treasurer intends to adopt that plan in the future.
– Is the Government going to start a paper-mill?
– I do not think so ; but it is proposed to indent stationery in large quantities. It is more economical to procure stationery in that way.
– In the meantime, is each Department ordering its own stationery ?
– The Departments order through the Government Printer on a schedule of prices.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).With regard to the item “ Incidental and cash expenditure, £200,” I see that last year £88, was spent and £225 was voted. Why is £200 asked for this year ?
– If it is not needed it will not be spent.
– The appropriation last year was £225, and the expenditure was £88.Very little was expended that year for some reason.
– I wish to have some information from the VicePresident of the Executive Council with respect to the attendant in connexion with the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. Is it a fact that that officer is very frequently on duty from 10 in the morning till 2 o’clock the following morning ? Apparently he is in the unfortunate position of being nobody’s child. He has to attend both the Senate and the House of Representatives. He has to obtain the quotations which honorable senators use, and to see that they are returned. I am under a deep debt of gratitude bo him inthat regard, and that is what prompts me to ask for some information.
– Do not give him so much work next session.
– It is assumed by some honorable senators that in the future a session of Parliament will not last for more , than a month or two. I fell into a similar blunder on looking at the records of the American Senate. Desirous of judging how long we should be likely to sit, I turned up the Congressional Record one day and I found that day after day the Senate met at 2.30 and adjourned at 3.30 p.m., and that it sat for only two or three months in the year. I feel sure that for the next five years a session of this Parliament will last for seven or eight months, and when we have exhausted our legislative powers and made a reputation throughout the Commonwealth, the States will be only too anxious to give us more powers. In New South Wales, for instance, there is a proposal - which, to my mind, is ridiculous - to abolish the State Parliament and to hand over its powers to this Parliament. We shall be in session for some time every year, and we ought to see that the attendants are fairly treated. For sixteen years, the Hansard attendant was engaged in the Government Printing Office of New South Wales. His work was mostly in connexion with the publication of Hansard. He came into the service of the Commonwealth with practical knowledge. No person but a practical printer would be of any use in the position.
– What is his age ? He is getting an increase of £10.
– He is about thirty-two years of age. I think that he ought to receive £188 per annum, which is the amount paid to some of the other messengers. Frequently he is in attendance from 10 o’clock one morning until 2 o’clock next morning. All the recreation leave he received last recess was a fortnight. He had to assist in the distribution of Hansard, and to address envelopes and so forth. It is stated on the best authority that he does five times as much work as is done by other attendants who get more salary.
– He will soon get grey.
– Although he is only a young man, the grey hairs are showing up freely. I “move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to increase the salar)’ of the Attendant to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff from £166 to £188.
– I do not know this, officer, but I can quite believe that during; the session his hours are long. The hours, of a Hansard official are often very long, but I can hardly believe that the attendantis hard at work all the time. Probably th& work is congenial to him, and he feels that, he is working his way up to a better position. I dare say it is a position which scores and scores of men would break theirnecks to get. We cannot increase salaries, all round by big jumps every year ; the taxpayers would not stand it. If the services of this officer are appreciated, as they” evidently are, I think he should be satisfied. No doubt he is satisfied, but some of his friends who have a very high opinion of his services would like to see him more generously treated. Probably, If inquiries, were made, it would be found that he is. satisfied with the increase of £10 which he received this year.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia). - This officer is under the jurisdiction of the Speaker and myself. I think that there must be a mistake as to the length of his holiday leave, because the instruction was that each officer of the Hansard staff was to get at least six; weeks’ holiday during last recess. It is quite true that sometimes he may be in attendance for long hours, but very often, during a great portion of that time he has nothing to do. He only runs messages, for the reporters.
– He wears out a pair of; boots every month.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.The question of his salary was brought under the notice of the Speaker and myself some time ago, and we. agreed toincrease his salary by £10 a year until hegot the salary of a senior messenger. So far as I know that decision seemed to have: given satisfaction. I heard no more about it until the present moment.
– I am rather surprised at the argument which the Attorney - General advanced against the proposal of Senator Higgs. I cannot support an increase in this salar y, although I have every sympathy with the officer, for exactly the same reason as I opposed an increase in the salary of any senior, messenger. There is no possibility of the Governor-General being asked to send down a fresh message this session, so that we should be only making ourselves ridiculous by requesting an increase in this salary. But I hope that the remarks of Senator Higgs will cause the President and the Speaker to make full inquiries into .the position of the attendant, and that, if they find that anything more can be done, it will, on the first opportunity, be done. On the understanding that the attendant’s salary will be increased by £10 a year until he reaches the status of a senior messenger, I. think it will be well for my honorable friend to withdraw his motion.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland).- The explanation of Senator Baker is to some extent satisfactory, but I find fault, with the ‘ view of Senator Drake, that an increase should not be proposed because a hundred persons outside would be glad to get the position. If the position of a Minister were put up to tender, probably he would find that thousands would be willing to take less than £1,500 a year, and if the office of AttorneyGeneral, with the right to appear before the High Court, were put up for “tender, he would find that very many persons would be perfectly willing to appear, and to mark a brief, not fifty or one hundred guineas, but, probably, ten guineas, while the refreshers would be a guinea instead of twenty-five guineas. Neither the Commonwealth nor the State should take advantage of the necessities of the people to compel their servants to work for less than a fair thing. If it is not a fair thing that the Hansard attendant should be paid a salary of £188, let it not be paid ; but if he does that worth of work in the year he ought to receive the money, even though there may be two thousand persons outside who, through being unemployed, would be willing to accept £50 a year.
– But who is going to -appraise the value of the work ?
– Our common experience will enable us to appraise the value of the work. So far from this attendant having a happy time, he was so overworked during the session that he had to obtain medical advice. He was afflicted with insomnia by reason of the long hours which he had to remain on duty. In view of the statement by Senator Baker, I think that the best thing I can do in the interests of the officer is to ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator PEARCE (Wes tern Australia). - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item, “Miscellaneous - For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General, £200.”
Whatever we may think of this gentleman we have no right to spend public money in purchasing a bust of him. If the memory of any man ought to be perpetuated it is that of the first Prime Minister, who was the choice of the people.
– He was the choice of the Governor-General.
– Yes ; but the people through their representatives indorsed that choice. I cannot see any reason for voting this money to purchase the bust of a gentleman who did nothing so far as Federation is concerned except in an official capacity, for which he was very well paid.
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I hope that Senator Pearce will not persist with his motion. Surely the Commonwealth can afford £200 for this purpose ? We do not wish to demean the public life of Australia and to bring it down quite to such little ideas. £200 is a moderate sum to vote for the purchase of a bust. It might reasonably be voted without any further delay.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I do not wish to demean the public life of Australia. I should be glad if I could place it on the highest possible pedestal. But I do not know that the late Governor- General did a great deal for the Commonwealth. What has he done to justify us in expending £200 on the purchase of a bust of himself ? There is a “bust “on record already in the 100 bottles of champagne he gave to the unemployed. If we have money to spend in this way there are several of our public men who might be so honoured.
– Who are they?
- Sir William Zeal, who was President of the Legislative Council of Victoria, foi- one, and I could mention a number of others. I cannot see what the Marquis of Linlithgow has done. He was merely the mouth-piece of the Executive, as was pointed out in this Chamber by Mr. Justice O’Connor, who was then Senator O’Connor. All he had to do was to carry out the wishes of the Cabinet. He did that fairly well, though he sometimes exceeded his duty, and was quite willing, on one occasion, to accept responsibility for the sins of the Government. No doubt he was extremely zealous in that regard, but he did nothing to entitle him to this distinction. I shall support the motion.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia). -I also intend to support the motion. I see nothing in the actions of the Marquis of Linlithgow during his association with the Commonwealth to justify any proposal of this kind. His final action, in respect to the Governor-Generalship, was an insult to the Commonwealth. That is my opinion, and I am here to express it. I would just as soon vote for the expenditure of £200 to erect a bust to one of the Chirnsides, who got about three times the value of their land atWerribeefromthe Victorian Government, as I would vote for a bust of the Marquis of Linlithgow, who has received nearly double its value for land situated not far from the Firth of Forth. He is not Governor-General now ; I may say what I like about him, and I intend to do so. I am not going to toady to those people, who, under the guise of patriotism, avail themselves of every opportunity to fleece the country to which they belong.
– That is wrong ; the honorable senator has no right to say that.
– Whohas to pay the hundreds of thousands of pounds of British money for the land purchased from the Marquis of Linlithgow? It is the poorer people of Great Britain. I shall not be one to vote money for the purchase of a bust of such an individual. If he were still Governor - General, probably I dare not say this, as it would be out of order. I would say it outside, and I am prepared to say it anywhere. Whatever Senator Zeal may think, I shall not be one to encourage this kind of Judas Iscariot patriotism of which we hear so much. I am sure I shall have the support of Senator Stewart when I take up that stand.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator cannot state the facts.
– If the Marquis of Linlithgow were a man of great ability and patriotism, there might be some justification for the proposal made. I do not believe in it, and I would rather see this £200 given to the poor widows who are employed charing, cleaning, and scrubbing outthe General Post Offices in the different capital cities of the Commonwealth. We shall see what action some honorable senators will take when a matter of that kind is brought up for discussion. If they are not prepared to assist the poor and lowly, I am not going to assist them to honour a person who never did anything to recommend himself to me.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I desire to ask Senator Pearce to withdraw his motion, so that I may propose the substitution of the name of the late Sir Henry Parkes for that of the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth. If honorable senators wish to spend money in this way let them purchase a bust of the late Sir Henry Parkes, who, while he lived, made Federation a living force in Australia. If it had not been for his efforts there would have been no Australian Federation to-day. Senator Zeal asked me to name some one, and I have mentioned a man whose name deserves to be perpetuated.
– A man who never made a cent out of politics.
– A man who died poor, though he had ample opportunities to enrich himself. He knew the railway policy of the Government of New South Wales, and might have acquired land along suggested railway routes. He never availed himself of his official knowledge ; he died poor, and, so far as we know, he never got any of his relatives into the Public Service.I look to honorable senators representing New South Wales to support me in this matter. I hope they will not go back upon that “Grand Old Man.” I may mention here that he was a free-trader, and that ought to commend him to Senator Pulsford. He had a record of fifty years in the public life of Australia, and although we have made no attempt to show our appreciation of him, it is proposed to spend £200 to secure the bust of a distinguished visitor who came here. He came here without any intention to make his home in the Commonwealth, but merely for the honour of the position which he held. We have heard lately of another distinguished visitor who will not have his children educated as Australians. He proposes to go to the old country, because he desires his children to be educated amongst the boys and girls who will be their friends in after life. The claims of these distinguished visitors ought not to be considered before those of Australian statesmen.
– I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General, £200,” by leaving out the words “the first Governor-General” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “the late Sir Henry Parkes.”
Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales). - I think the Government proposal is one which honorable senators should accept. I have no hesitation in saying that if Sir Henry Parkes were alive and were a member of the Senate he would support it, and he would deprecate any such action as is now proposed to be taken. There are a great many busts of Sir Henry Parkes in Australia to-day ; but I do not know that there are any of the first Governor-General of the Commonwealth. We do not form a Commonwealth of Australia every day, nor yet every century ; and we shall be doing honour to ourselves and to the Commonwealth by a due recognition of those who fill the very responsible office of GovernorGeneral. I do not think it necessary to say any more. I hope honorable senators will carry the Government proposal.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I cannot say that I agree either with the proposal of the Government to spend £200 on a bust of the Marquis of Linlithgow, or with the request which Senator Higgs has moved. Senator Pulsford has said that there is every reason why honorable senators should agree to the Government’s proposal, but he has not given a single reason why we should do so. Why do communities honour the memories of distinguished individuals in this way 1 It is because they have rendered some conspicuous service to the community. What service did the Marquis of Linlithgow render to the Australian community 1 He was the first official head of the Commonwealth, the first representative of the Crown to fill the position of the Governor-General of Australia.
– And he struck for higher wages.
– That is quite in accord with Senator McGregor’s union principles. On strictly union principles the Marquis of Linlithgow looked for a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. The objection I take to the proposal is that, 1 apart from the political position which he held, he did nothing for the Commonwealth of Australia. He was merely : the representative of the King in the I
Commonwealth, a mere fly on the wheel, a mere figure-head. When we, as a com.munity, begin to do honour to our distinguished men, let us honour those who have done something for Australian life and progress. Can Senator Pulsford tell me what the Marquis of Linlithgow did for Australia beyond filling the official position of Governor-General, and drawing the salary attached to that position ? Was he eminent in Australian public life ? We know that he could not be as he was not in Australian public life, but was the mere figurehead of the Commonwealth ship. Was he eminent in any other department of life ?
– If he had spoken about politics at all the honorable senator would have been the first to denounce him for doing so.
– Certainly. He rendered no service to the Commonwealth whatever. If we must spend money in this way, let us spend it in honouring men who have done something for the Commonwealth. It has been suggested that we should get a bust of Sir Edmund Barton, and, while I do not believe very much in this kind of thing, if I had to make the choice I would prefer to vote money for a bust of Sir Edmund Barton rather than for one of the Marquis of Linlithgow.
– This is a waste of time.
– But what of the waste of money 1 The honorable senator’s own time is evidently of more value to him than is the Commonwealth money ; but we in this corner are prodigal of our time while being very saving of the Commonwealth cash. We propose, if we can, to save this £200 to the country, instead of spending it on a piece of marble in honour of a man who never did anything for Australia.
– Nonsense !
– What did he do t
– He did a great deal more than the honorable senator will ever do.
– I am not immodest in advancing the statement that in my own humble, unimportant way I have done a great deal more than the late GovernorGeneral did, or ever will do, for Australia.
– Nonsense !
– What did the late Governor-General do for Australia 1
– He did his duty with honour and dignity.
- Senator Pulsford, as a representative of the people, does his duty in trying to lead public opinion in certain matters, and he is of much more consequence than he seems to think, and of much more consequence than was the late Governor-General. If I had my choice between a bust of the late GovernorGeneral and a bust of Senator Pulsford I should vote for the Pulsford bust. But I do not believe in wasting money in this fashion ; we have no £200 to fling away here and there on pieces of marble. This, I suppose, is a precedent, and a bust will be requested for the present GovernorGeneral when his term expires. It will be pointed out that as we have a bust of the first Governor-General, we must complete the set. Why not have busts of all the senators? There are thirty-six of us, and £200 would allow £5 or £6 for a decent representation of each of the first senators of the Australian Commonwealth ; and I consider that we are of much more importahce to the community than ever was the late Governor-General. I trust that the Government will not insist on this idiotic vote. Does the Vice-President of the Executive know how the sale of this bust was manoeuvred ?
– I know nothing about it.
– I read something in the newspapers to the effect that an enterprising Sydney sculptor conceived the idea of executing a bust of the late Governor-General. Some kind friend informed Sir Edmund Barton of the fact that the bust was in existence, and Sir Edmund, with that kindness of heart which is characteristic of him, said - “Oh, all right; we’ll buy it for the Commonwealth.” Of course, it was Commonwealth money, and Sir Edmund would never miss it.
– Sir Edmund Barton may buy the bust himself now.
– It would be most generous on Sir Edmund’s part to buy the . bust and make a present of it-
– To the High Court.
- Sir Edmund might buy the bust and place it on the High Court Bench. Here is a Commonwealth which sweats its charwomen.
– That is only an assertion.
– Here is a Commonwealth which sweats its charwomen and buys busts of Governors-General. In this the Commonwealth is following the example of older and more foolish communities, although I thought that we were wiser in Australia. My idea was that, being a democratic community, we should not stoop so low as to toady to Scotch noblemen. In Scotland noblemen are so plentiful that we pay no regard to them, and I canonly suppose that it is their scarcity which makes them so valued in Australia. In Scotland we are all noblemen - we are all sons of kings - and no one is better than another. Out here the Australian community appears to be suddenly afflicted with-
– I could excuse hero-worship ; but they appear to be afflicted with sycophancy. It would almost seem as though they were cursed as the serpent was cursed - “Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and. dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.”
– It is cringeomania.
– That is a most excellent word. I do not say that the people generally have the affliction, though. apparently a number of members of the House of Representatives have it, and also, I am sorry to say, members of the Senate. As to the amendment to substitute the name of Sir Henry Parkes, I would, if I had to choose between the two, select the latter. That is not because I think Sir Henry Parkes was the great man Senator Higgs would lead us to believe he was, but because I think he did much more service for Australia than did the late Governor-General.
– We very largely owe the white Australia policy to Sir Henry Parkes.
– I hope the Government will abandon this vote. To waste £200 in this fashion is extravagance which might almost be called criminal - it is unwarrantable expenditure run riot.
– No one who has listened to Senator Stewart can think for a moment that economy is his principal motive for opposing this vote. It will be a. great mistake if this vote is not passed. In years to come there will, no doubt, be a Commonwealth picture gallery containing statuary and busts of celebrated men who have done good work for the nation, and it would be a great pity if there were not included a memorial of the first GovernorGeneral. I disagree with the opinion expressed by Senator Stewart, because I believe it was very necessary indeed for us to have a gentleman like the present Marquis of Linlithgow in the position of first Governor- General. No better choice could possibly have been made, and the late GovernorGeneral did great service for the Commonwealth. For the, comparatively speaking, small sum proposed we shall be able to obtain a very good bast of our first GovernorGeneral, and we ought to aVail ourselves of the opportunity. If we do not we shall certainly regret the fact.
– We can get a bust then.
– It is not possible to get a good bust of a man after he has been dead for some years; in order to get a faithful portrait in marble it must be executed during life. I am perfectly certain that the taxpayers of the country will never think of indorsing the objections which have been offered by some honorable senators to this small vote.
– I rise to confirm the remarks made by the Attorney-General. I speak with a little experience, because, some years after the death of a relative of my own, it was -desired to have a bust of him executed. We sent the best photographs obtainable of him to England, and paid 300 guineas to an eminent sculptor, and when the bust came out no one who was interested could tell for whom it was intended. If we are to have a bust of our first Governor-General it ought to be executed during his life, and I am sure -we all wish that he may live for many years to come. May I here suggest that when the name of the Federal Capital is under consideration, that of our late Governor-General will, not be forgotten.
– I am somewhat in a difficulty as to how to vote in this matter ; but I certainly think that the late Governor-General was treated exceedingly well in the Commonwealth. I am also of opinion, however, that he did a great injustice to the Commonwealth by creating an impression in England that we are desirous of having a Governor-General who is able, and ought, to spend something like £20,000 per annum of his own money in maintaining the dignity of his position. That idea is still existent in the minds of the people of England, and only a short time ago I saw in a newspaper satisfaction expressed that the (Governor-General elect is rich enough to be able to spend some of his own private income while in Australia. Considering the manner in which the late Governor-General was treated in the Commonwealth, he ought not to have created such an impression in England. If we have any cause to be grateful, it is to our present GovernorGeneral, who has set a very good example in living within his official income, or, at any rate, if he is not doing so, is not saying anything about his having to resort to his private means. The people of the Commonwealth are quite willing that the Governor-General should live in any manner he chooses, expecting nothing more from him than he is willing to spend ; and I feel it very deeply that we should have been so unjustly criticised in England. The present vote is so small that one does not like to vote against it, but if I should do so, it would be as a protest against the wrong impression which has been created, namely, that Australians are extremely anxious to extract about twice as much from a Governor-General as they are willing to pay him. I have never mentioned this matter in the Senate before, but I think this a fitting opportunity to express my disapproval of the action of the late GovernorGeneral. At the same time we might as well continue the generosity we have shown in the past, and expend £200 on a bust, not so much on account of the Marquis of Linlithgow personally, as to have a memorial of the man who by good fortune happened to be the first Governor-General, and who will go down to posterity as such. It is possible that in time to come the people may forget the unjust remarks which the late GovernorGeneral made in regard to ourselves.
– He made no unjust remarks.
– It was circulated that one of the reasons why he retired was that the people of Australia make such large demands upon their Governor-General. In that respect he gave a very wrong and false impression with regard to the people of Australia. But, nevertheless, as the amount is so small, and as the bust is to commemorate the first GovernorGeneral, I shall not vote against it.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - It is very unfortunate that this item should find a place in the Bill. It compels those of us who are not at all pleased with the impression left by the late Governor-General when retiring from his office to say what we think of him. It compels us to make comparisons which otherwise we should be glad to refrain from making. It would have been better had the Government considered the unpopularity of the late Governor-General when he left Australia.
– With whom was he unpopular ?
– With public opinion generally, excepting the small class who are ever ready to pander to men in his position. There are certain people who would be ready to lick the boots of a man in the position of the Governor-General, no matter what he did. But the late GovernorGeneral was undoubtedly unpopular on account of the position he took up in respect to the allowance paid to him. Those of us who hold that opinion are bound to state that we do not think he is worthy of this honour. If we are to erect busts, there are scores of men who are more entitled to the honour than is the Marquis of Linlithgow. What about the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and the first leader of the Senate, both of whom did good work and deserve some recognition of this character? It is deplorable that the matter should have been introduced, and I hope that the Committee will support the request.
– I cannot allow the statement made by the last speaker to go without contradiction. We never had a more popular man in Australia than was the Marquis of Linlithgow. We never had a Governor who so earnestly desired to promote the best interests of the people of this country, and to do everything that would conduce to their well-being. The Marquis of Linlithgow was above all others a people’s man.
– But he wanted plenty for what he did.
– I should like to say something with regard to that remark, but I will not do so at the present moment. The Marquis of Linlithgow spent his money freely, and did everything that a mortal man could do. Indeed, he did more than his strength permitted, and, as his health gave way, he had to retire. Of course, the labour crowd will do everything they can against any man in the Marquis of Linlithgow’s position. They are against all Governors and all high officials, except such as are in sympathy with their ilk.
– The honorable senator is wrong there.
– I am quite right.
– We like Lord Tennyson.
– There may be exceptions, but my statement is correct, speaking generally. It is disgraceful that there should be such a discussion on a paltry matter like this.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia), - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General, £200,” by leaving out the words “the first Governor-General,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ the Honorable Thomas Bent. “
Mr. Bent is a worthy citizen, and in the opinion of some people has done a great deal for Victoria.
– Does the honorable senator desire that his motion shall be put?
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ For the purchase of a bust of the first Governor-General, £200,” by omitting the figures £200.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £38,355.
– I think that the Secretary to this Department is overpaid at £800 a year. The Secretary to the largest Department we have - the Post Office - receives a salary of only £1,000, and, in my opinion, £700 is quite enough for the Secretary to this Department. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “Secretary, £800,” to £700.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I notice that the expenditure on clerks is increased from £1,210 to £1,790, and that the number of officers has been increased by two. I wish to know from Senator Playford - first, what has necessitated the increases ; secondly, whether the Public Service Commissioner was asked to report as to the necessity for the increases, and, if so, whether the two additional officers were appointed at his request ? We went to a great deal of trouble to enact that all appointments to the Public Service should be made on the recommendation of the Commissioner. Whenever we desire to ventilate a grievance in connexion with the administration of the Public Service, we are referred to the Commissioner, and we ought to have a guarantee from the Government that they are observing the law relating to appointments. It seems to me that during the past year no additional work has been laid on this Department to necessitate the appointment of two additional officers. It is charged with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. It has been stated by the SubCollector of Customs, at Fremantle, that he is hindered in the performance of his official duties by the want of an officer to carry out the administration of that Act. Senator Playford, in answer to a question, has said that the Government did not think it was necessary to appoint an officer, as they were not aware that the number of Asiatics was increasing in Western Australia. It is the duty of this Department to see if the Act is accomplishing its object and to stop the influx of Asiatics. If they had taken the trouble to look through the Statistical Register of Western Australia, they would have found that the number of Asiatics is increasing. Although we are asked to vote for the Secretary to this Department £800, and for ten clerks £1,790, or, in all, £3,465 for salaries, still the officers are not aware that the number of Asiatics is increasing in Western Australia. It exists for the purpose of seeing that Asiatics do not come into Australia ; but I can prove from the Statistical Register that the Asiatic population is increasing at the rate of 90 per month.
– They have included men on the pearling fields.
– No; I am taking the number of Asiatics who have come into the State from Asia.
– They cannot come from Asia, in defiance of the law.
– The Statistical Register gives, first, the nationalities of the immigrants, and, secondly, the countries from whence they have come, and in each case an increase is shown.
– It includes those who are engaged in the pearling industry.
– When I asked my question, why did not the Department say that the number of Asiatics had only increased on the pearling fields 1
– We have got the information since the question was answered.
– The assertion of the department cannot be proved.
– I am not going into the question of whether or not the Department ought to have known that there was an increase in the number of Asiatics in Western Australia, but I shall answer the inquiry in reference to the increased expenditure. A chief clerk, receiving a salary of £600 was dispensed with last year, and the Department has been furnished with three extra clerks, of whom two had been temporarily employed. If the item £600 for the chief clerk is added to the appropriation of £1,210 for seven clerks last year, it will be found that the total exceeds the sum of £1,790, which we are asked to vote for ten clerks this year. Last year the total vote for
Salaries for the Department was £3,415, and this year we are asked to vote a sum of £3,465. The difference, I suppose, is required to pay increments which are due under the Public Service Act. Although we are actually saving money, yet Senator Pearce thinks that we are working the Department more expensively than formerly. “We are doing nothing of the sort.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Senator Playford must not cavil at any request for information, and certainly he will not lessen the demand for information by replying to an inquiry as he has just done. I asked whether the appointment of the two additional officers had been recommended by the Commissioner ; but to that question he has not replied.
– Undoubtedly; they could not have been appointed otherwise.
– I am given to understand that some appointments have been made which have not been recommended by the Commissioner.
– If the honorable senator is possessed of that knowledge, and the appointments were such as ought to Iia ve been recommended by the Commissioner, he ought to bring the matter forward. If he does, we shall punish somebody for improper conduct.
– The honorable senator made some capital out of the fact that they had dispensed with an officer in receipt of a salary of £600 ; but do the estimates for the Department show a saving of that amount? On the contrary, they show an increase of £50.
– There is a saving of £20 in these salaries. Last year there was a chief clerk at £b’00 and seven other clerks at £1,210, making £1,S10 for the clerical staff, including the chief clerk. Provision is made this year for ten clerks at £1,790, which is a saving of £20 in the expenditure for clerical services. The total vote for the Department is a little more, because there is an increase for messengers from £180 to £200, and a vote of £50 to provide for increments and adjustments of salaries. So far as the clerical staff is concerned, there is exactly a saving of £20, and this has has -arisen because the high salaried chief clerk at £600 has left the Department, and his place has been filled by promotion from below at a reduced salary.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I desire to know whether a record is being kept of the Asiatics who are allowed to be introduced in connexion with the pearling industry, whether any arrangements are being made with the State Government to insure their deportation, and if so in whose hands the administration rests 1
– An exact account has been kept of all Asiatics coming into the Commonwealth, arrangements are made for their deportation, and the records are in the hands of the Customs officials.
– I should like to impress upon the Government the necessity for carrying out the promise given by the ex-Prime Minister to appoint a special officer to look after the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. .From the Government returns for Western Australia there would appear to be an alarming increase in the number of Asiatics, and if any new appointments are to be made in the department, that promise by the ex-Prime Minister should be borne in mind. The Government should see to it that something is done to enable them to exercise some control over the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. If it is not properly administered it will be a failure, and I am sure no honorable senator desires that it should be.
– Senator De Largie’s fears on the subject of the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, so far as it effects the pearling industry of Western Australia, are groundless. The Federal Government has in Mr. M. S. Wharton an official who is most careful in the performance of his duties. He keeps a register which shows exactly when every coloured person is introduced for the pearling fleet, what boat he is employed upon, the term of his engagement, when he leaves Broome, and what boat he goes by. Every pearler employing a coloured man is required to deposit a bond for £100 that the man at the end of his term of engagement shall be brought into the office at Broome and if not re-engaged shall be deported by the first boat. I may say also that in order to avoid personation each coloured man is photographed when he arrived, and at the end of his term each man is compared with the photograph previously taken. I spent half a day going through this register and I found that with but a single exception every coloured man introduced in connexion with the pearling industry, not only since the passage of the Commonwealth Act, but .since the passage of the first State Immigration Act, has been accounted for. A mistake has been made in the return in including, amongst people coming to reside in Western Australia men who have been engaged for the pearling industry, and who must be returned when their term of engagement is up. I am in a position to say that the officials at Broome are overworked. In the laying-up season, when the men come in to be paid off the officials are working day and night, and their duties are carried out with the greatest strictness. A few months before I visited Broome some coloured people came down from Singapore, and a wire was received from the Attorney-General refusing them permission to land. The reason for this refusal was that Mr. Wharton had not followed the usual procedure of writing to the Government asking for the permission and giving reasons why ; it should be granted. When he wired for permission, and gave the reasons, these men were allowed to land. When I was there the Act was’ being administered with the greatest care, and it would be well if the same strict administration were adopted at 1
Thursday Island. There was no such.. administration up to the time of the passageof the Commonwealth Act, and coloured people were allowed to land at Thursday Island without any condition at all. It ismost regrettable to find that there are about 2,000 coloured people at Thursday Island, and employed in the pearling fleets in those waters, who are at liberty to travel to any part of Australia as soon as their term of engagement is up. At Broome, with the exception of about 100 men, who were introduced before the first State Immigration Act was passed, and who are called “ free men,” the coloured men employed . in the pearling industry only came intothe place in the laying-up season ; they can do no work on shore, because, if they do their employers are liable to a heavy fine, and they must either be deported or go off in the boats as soon as the pearling season starts. So far as Broome is concerned, there is no danger to the Commonwealth, but the way in which affairs have been conducted by the State Government at Thursday Island was scandalous. We find, also, that at the present time thousands of Chinese are coming from the Northern Territory of ‘ South Australia to all parts of the Commonwealth.
– There ai-e very few thousands there to come.
– There are five Chinamen there for every white man, and I fear we shall have the same difficulty with respect to the coloured men at Thursday Island.
– Looking into the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, I wondered that the cost should be only £750, but I find in the miscellaneous division a further item of £900 for payment to Customs officers employed in connexion with the administration of the Act. This brings the cost of its administration up to £1,650 a year. I take the liberty of suggesting that next year these items should be brought together, in order that we may see what the administration of the Act i-s really costing the Commonwealth.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).– I suggest that there should be some reduction in the cost of issuing the Government Gazette. I do not know whether honorable senators are in the habit of perusing that interesting publication, but if they are they will agree that it is full of vain repetitions, and the printing in connexion with it might very well be cut down by one-half. This would
Save the Commonwealth some money, and it would save honorable senators a great deal of trouble. If an honorable senator desires to find out exactly what is going on in any of the Departments, he has to read through a long rigmarole about the GovernorGeneral and the Commonwealth of Australia, and, when the grain of wheat is winnowed from this bushel of chaff, he finds that some messenger is to be temporarily appointed at some outlying place in the Commonwealth. I sent an example of a Customs advertisement to the Minister for Trade and Customs, showing the number of unnecessary repetitions. I ask Ministers representing the Government in the Senate to bring their influence to bear in this matter, and see whether they cannot get the Commonwealth Gazette published on common-sense lines.
– I do not see that we can save very much by omitting the GovernorGeneral’s title from notices published in the Government Gazette. We are economising in connexion with advertising as compared with what used to be done in the old colonial days. Government notices used to be fully advertised in the newspapers, but we have adopted the practice of inserting a short notice in the local newspapers directing attention to notices in the Government Gazette. The Gazette is circulated to police magistrates, postmasters, and so on, in order that the people interested in the announcements may have an opportunity of perusing it. That we may get the full advantage of this practice, it is necessary that the Government Gazette should be largely circulated. Last year the vote of £1,000 was exceeded, and that is the reason why a larger vote is now asked for. It necessarily follows that as the operations of the Commonwealth Government are extended, it becomes more expensive to publish the Government Gazette. I do not anticipate that the vote asked for ast year will this year be largely exceeded, ut it was not thought safe to only ask for £1,000.
– I have very great sympathy with Senator Stewart in his endeavour to carry out economy in the printing of the Government Gazette by curtailing needless repetitions, preambles, whereases, wherefores, and such phrases.
– We have seen a number of whereases in motions submitted to the Senate before now, and they tend to increase the printing bill.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Government in another channel. I believe that the usefulness of the Gazette could be extended with economy. We must have a Gazette, which is sent all over Australia ; and I want to know why its publication is not conducted on commercial lines? We hear it contended that every undertaking of the Government must be on commercial lines, and show a profit ; and I ask why the columns of the Gazette are not open to all advertisers who choose to use them? There is not a business man who does not recognise that the Gazette is capable of being made one of the most profitable of advertising mediums.
– The Gazette is not very much read, I am afraid.
– The Gazette is not read, because it does not possess sufficient interest. . But there would be a change, possibly, if in the Gazette there appeared some of those hoarding pictures of nice young ladies pouring out cups of tea, and so forth.
– A few imaginative reporters are required.
– Even a few reporters might be employed on the Gazette. Why should not the Gazette be turned into a newspaper ?
– Containing extracts from our speeches ?
– It is not necessary to all at once publish the Hansard reports in the Gazette, but I hope the day will come when there will be a daily Gazette containing the speeches delivered in this Parliament. In South Australia the contract for the publishing of the Hansard reports is let to the proprietors of a daily newspaper.
– That is rather different from running a State newspaper.
– I only desire to show that if an ordinary private firm can find it profitable to publish all the dry details of the speeches delivered in a State Parliament, surely similar work might be undertaken by the Commonwealth. I am in full sympathy with the desire for economy, but at the same time I urge on the Government the desirableness of rendering the
Gazette a profitable concern, by making the departures I have indicated.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I have here a file of the Gazette from which I can show several examples of redundancy in the wording of the advertisements. Intimations of promotions and appointments commence as follows : -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Postmaster-General’s Department, 25th May, 1903.
HIS Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, by and with the advice of the Executive Council thereof, has approved that the following officers be promoted to the positions shown opposite their respective names : -
– That is very short, surely.
– I submit that all the language about “His Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth,” is unnecessary. The words “ PostmasterGeneral’s Department” is at the head, and there is no earthly need to repeat it in each advertisement. Here is another example, in which, after the same long introduction, it is stated : -
Ernest Harold Bourne, Telegraph Messenger, Malvern, to be Junior Postal Assistant, Malvern ; to date as from 8th May, 1903.
The words “promoted to junior postal assistant, Malvern,” would be quite sufficient.
– I have seen more redundancy in a leading article in a newspaper.
– Then again,”From the 8th May,” would be quite sufficient, without all the other words. Why are the words “Commonwealth of Australia” repeated in each advertisement? Surely we all know that this is a Commonwealth ? There is a whole row of advertisements in whichallthe languageabout “His Excellency the Governor-General in and over the Commonwealth,” is religiously repeated.
– That is the trouble so far as the honorable senator is concerned.
– The trouble arises from the fact that I am what Senator Pulsford is not - careful of the Senate’s time and of the Commonwealth’s cash. The VicePresident of the Executive Council is, I believe, a gardener, and he knows that if there is anything which trees require it is pruning. If Senator Playford will only bring his pruning knife into use in these advertisements and similar printed matter, he will be doing the country a service.
– He would, if he pruned the speeches in the Senate.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “Administration of New Guinea, £20,000,” by £1.
I submit this motion as a protest against the action of the Government in dropping the Papua (British New Guinea) Bill. That measure was introduced into the other House, where it was considered at considerable length, and went into Committee. But because the principle of land alienation was condemned, and a provision was inserted prohibiting the sale of liquor, it was dropped. The administration of British New Guinea is being carried on under ordinances, under which it is possible for the fee-simple of the most valuable land to be sold. Seeing that the Government opposed the principle of preventing the alienation of land, it is reasonable to assume that they are willing to part with the fee-simple. When we have an opportunity of dealing with the Bill we shall be able to test the point, and to say whether land shall be sold or not. I feel satisfied that the Bill as amended by the House of Representatives would have been passed by the Senate in a few hours, and I submit this motion for the purpose of giving an opportunity to honorable senators to protest against the action of the Government in practically refusing to accept the decision of the House of Representatives and in not giving the Senate a chance of expressing an opinion.
– I think that Senator Pearce will recognise that if the Papua. (British New Guinea) Bill had been passed, including the amendments made in it by theHouse of Representatives, it would have beennecessary largely tosupplementthegrant. The amount voted is calculated upon the receipts and the expenditure in New Guinea. It is estimated that a certain amount of revenue will be received from the sale of land, and a certain amount from the sale of liquors. I am not saying a word as to whether it is desirable that the amendments in question should be made or not ; but I am endeavouring to emphasize the point that if those amendments were made, and the Bill were passed in that form, the grant of £20,000 would not be sufficient.
The sale of liquors to the natives is prohibited, and the revenue is derived from the sales to white men. That consideration justifies the Government in determining at this late stage of the session to allow the measure to stand over for reconsideration until next session. I do not think the honorable senator need have any fear that land will be alienated in large quantities. In the past, whenever attempts were made to alienate land in British New Guinea, there was such a strong expression of public opinion against it that the sales did not take place. Probably if the Possession continues to be governed by ordinances as in the past, there will be no large sales of public land, or no sales whatever. ‘.Che House of Representatives, having made important alterations in the Bill, it was not unreasonable that the Government should allow the matter to stand over. To do so was not expressing a judgment one way or the other upon the merits of the amendments, but was simply a recognition of the fact that if they had been made Parliament would be faced with the necessity of making larger provision in aid of the revenue of British New Guinea. I think that the Government, under all the circumstances, has done quite right.
– The line of argument adopted by the Attorney-General is a peculiar one. Of course he is quite justified in making out the best case he can for the Government, but it is clear that the will of another place has been plainly indicated in a certain direction, and that the Government refused to carry out that will. The House of Representatives declared against the alienation of land in British New Guinea - or, as I prefer to call it, Australian New Guinea - and also indicated their disapproval of the sale of intoxicating liquors there. I have not the least doubt that if the Bill had been sent up to the Senate it would have been accepted, and those provisions would then have become the will of Parliament. The Government practically say, “ We are not going to fight against the will of Parliament, but we are going to defeat it in another way.” The AttorneyGeneral tells us that if the amendments had been carried, it would have been necessary for Parliament to vote a larger sum in aid of the Government of British New Guinea. Did not the House of Representatives know that it would be necessary to vote a larger sum if Parliament prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors and the alienation of Crown lands ? They knew it as well as the Government did, and were prepared to take the consequences. I am sure that the Senate would also have been prepared to take the consequences. But the House of Representatives recognised that the ultimate results would be beneficial to Papua and the Commonwealth. They were not looking merely to the results this year or next year. Senator Pearce is quite justified in submitting his proposal, if only for the purpose of affording an opportunity to honorable senators to indicate to the Government the feeling of the Committee upon this question. Although the motion may not be carried, I trust that when honorable senators have spoken, the Government will take good care that the expression of opinion will be regarded as sufficient warrant to prevent them from selling Crown lands in Papua. The Attorney-General says that the Government will not permit the sale of large areas. But in the early days land was sold in small areas in the city of Melbourne, and it has been made clear that those sales were to the detriment of the revenue of Victoria. I trust that land will not be sold in New Guinea in any areas whatever. If it is sold, it will, in the future, be a source of regret to the people of the Commonwealth and to those who are living in Papua. I trust that as early as possible next session a measure will be passed making it impossible for the same conditions to exist in New Guinea as have existed in Victoria and other parts of the Commonwealth.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I trust that Senator Pearce’s motion will be carried. The members of another place and honorable senators have very good cause to complain of the conduct of the Government. They brought in a Bill relating to the management of the affairs of New Guinea, and because certain provisions to which the Government were opposed were carried in the other House, they dropped it. That course of conduct may be constitutional, and in accordance with the custom of Governments, but, taking all the circumstances into account, it was altogether discreditable. What a fine Government it is that we have got ! How accommodating it is ! It brings certain measures before Parliament - very important measures ; it allows Parliament to mangle them in any way it pleases, and it accepts the amendments in the most meek and humble fashion. They are passed in a torn and tattered condition. That is how the Government act with regard to certain Bills. I will name one of them, which must be fresh in the recollection of honorable senators. I refer to the High Court Bill. What a brave measure it was when it was introduced into the House of Representatives ! What a poor, pitiable, wretched spectacle it was when it emerged ! But the Government accepted it. Why ? Because members of the Government were interested in it. I give that by way of illustration. Here we have a Bill regarding Papua. I have hitherto known that country under the name of British New Guinea ; I prefer to call it Australian New Guinea. Petition after petition was poured in upon both Houses from the people of the Commonwealth, praying Parliament to prohibit the sale of intoxicants in New Guinea. One portion of Parliament did prohibit the sale - and very properly so. We know perfectly well what the result will be if the sale of spirituous liquors is allowed in a country inhabited by somewhere about half-a-million of coloured people. We also know the value of the statement that spirituous liquors are not allowed to be sold to the natives. We are perfectly well aware that they get it. Now the Government raises the plea that if the sale of spirituous liquors and the alienation of land were prevented it ‘ would diminish the revenue of the Territory. My contention is that the House of Representatives, when it passed those amendments, accepted the responsibility in connexion with them. AVe have government by Parliament. Of course the House of Representatives did not kick out the Government when its bidding was not done. I do not know exactly why it was not done, but if that wholesome lesson were administered occasionally, the power of Parliament and government by the people, instead of by a few men, would be established. I was amused very much by the speech of the AttorneyGeneral. One portion of his speech was based on the assumption that if land sales were prohibited the revenue would be very much les i, but when he was trying to soothe the fears of honorable senators in this corner, he said, “ We shall not be able to sell any land, and, if we do, it will be sold in only very small quantities.” I consider that the wish of the large majority of the members of the other House ought to have some weight with the Government. Either the Government intend to sell land, and to allow liquor to be sold - which things I believe to be bad - or they do not. If they do not intend to do these things, why do they not ask the Parliament to pass the measure this session ? But if they do intend to do these things - and that is the conclusion I have come to - they ought to say so and let us know exactly where we stand. I do not know whether they realize the gravity of the task which has been undertaken by the Commonwealth in taking possession of this territory. We find that almost everywhere the native coloured races disappear after the advent of the white man. They are poisoned by drink ; they acquire diseases which are unmentionable ; they learn the habits of the white man, and the consequence is that, in a very short time, they disappear. In these matters the Commonwealth ought to lead the nations of the world. We ought to show that it is possible to govern a country of semi-barbarians in a Christian and humane fashion. We ought to save them on the one hand from the evils which have been shown to follow in the train of intoxicants, and, on the other hand, from the extortions of the land grabber. I believe that British New Guinea contains a large area of very fertile land, has a very good climate and excellent rainfall, and offers many inducements to persons to settle there. If those conditions prevail, we may very reasonably come to the conclusion that in the future, if not soon, there will be an overflow of population from Australia to the island. Therefore, it is our duty to lay down the lines on which its mode of government ought to proceed. I need not refer to the evils which follow in the train of the liquor traffic, because they must be apparent to everybody. But, with regard to the land question, we find that in each State of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding that its population is so sparse and its territory so large, the Government are compelled to buy back land from private holders so as to make settlement possible. That is the supreme question in Australia. We are laying down rules for the government of a new country with all this experience to guide us, and yet the Ministry deliberately cast every lesson of the past and the present to the winds, and cling to the old system of land sales. I believe that it is a question of revenue, more or less, but surely the resources of civilization are not exhausted. There are sources of taxation, and I believe very rich sources, which have not yet been tapped, and which, if tapped, would conduce to the progress of civilization.What are the Government going to do ? I suppose that we need not expect to see the Bill this session, and goodness knows what will happen next session, or who will be here. I think that, in order to mark its disapproval of the action of the Government, the Committee ought to vote for the motion of Senator Pearce. We do not wish to harm the Government, but simply to show that we do not approve of their dropping a measure simply because it cannot be carried according to their particular ideas. We have government by the people, for Parliament represents the people, and the members of the Ministry are merely a Committee of Parliament. If we agree to the motion we shall simply assert the right of Parliament, not the Ministry, to govern.
– I hope that the Committee will reject the motion. Senator Stewart has alluded to government by the people. I read recently that at a public meeting in Samarai, the Anglican Bishop and the London Missionary J Society’s agent, the Rev. W. Abel, regretted the possibility of this Bill being passed. These gentlemen, I take it, possess a better local knowledge than does any honorable senator, not even excepting the Columbus of Australia, who, I believe, visited the Possession not very long ago. If the importation of spirits and narcotics were prohibited, it would lead to an immense amount of smuggling across the German border, and necessitate the introduction of a large coastal guard system, and conse- I quently an increase in the annual subsidy. I My impression is that we shall do well to listen to the advice of the local authori- j ties before we proceed any further. Those who think that the Government have acted wrongly ought to have brought forward a ] motion of want of confidence. One thing for which I think the Ministry deserve great credit is the postponement of legislation 1 on this subject until the voice of those best able to speak can have been heard. The question of the acquisition of British New Guinea was not discussed at the time when the members of this Parliament were being elected, and those who think that the Government have acted unwisely may have an opportunity at the next elections to express their opinion. For some years the Possession has been governed by a Legislative Council, and surely its members ought to know what is best for the people. I would recommend Senator Stewart to pay a visit to the island and see whether it is a place to which white men would care to take their wives. In many cases the civil servants will not allow their wives to live in the island, because the climate is so bad, and they are obliged to maintain their families in Australia, to which they come from time to time. I hope that Senator Stewart will visit the island before he repeats the statement that it is an attractive place for our surplus population. Although it has been a British Possession for nearly twenty years, still the British population numbers only 400 or 500. The persons in control of the Possession have surely much more local knowledge than we can have, and yet some honorable senators are prepared to be guided by their own limited knowledge. An annual grant of £20,000 is little enough ; to supplement the local revenue, and if the importation of spirits and narcotics were j prohibited it would have to be increased.
– It was j wise on the part of Senator Pearce to move this motion, because it has provoked some discussion. I believe that if the Papua Bill had been allowed to reach the Senate, it would have been amended in the direction of putting, the liquor traffic under State control. That is a sensible statesmanlike method of dealing with the question.
– The liquor traffic under State regulation or otherwise is not required in New Guinea.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. I was reading some of the Epistles of St. Paul the other day, and he says in effect, that one man’s faith will enable him to eat anything, whilst another man’s faith may be so weak that he can only eat vegetables. That applies also to drink. Certain people can take drink, and others cannot. I can understand honorable senators who believe in the prohibition of the liquor traffic, and who are teetotalers themselves supporting the prohibition of the liquor traffic in New Guinea, but . 1 cannot understand members of Parliament who are not teetotalers, and who take a little wine for their stomachs’ sake, refusing to allow white people in NewGuinea to getany liquor.
It is hypocrisy for such members to try and j enforce such a provision. They would not be in favour of it if they were in New Guinea, and they have, therefore, no right to enforce i it upon those who have to reside in an unhealthy climate, as the climate of all tropical and sub-tropical countries is, until they have been settled for a number of years by white people.
– The honorable senator has said that the climate of Cairns is not unhealthy.
– Senator Fraser could not have heard what I just said. The honorable senator will remember that in the early days of the settlement of New South Wales, the Britishers who came to the colony were attacked by miasma, malarial fever, and such diseases ; but these malarial troubles disappear as new countries become settled. I have no doubt that in some years’ time this will be found to be the case in New Guinea. I say that we shall be proceeding upon wrong lines if we endeavour to enforce a provision of this kind in New Guinea. The proper course to adopt is to teach the people of New Guinea self-control. We can never advance if we require to have a number of policemen following us round to see that we do not do certain things. Men must be taught to rely upon themselves, and honorable senators will admit that it is the principle of self-restraint and self-control, inculcated during the last fifty years, that has -been effective in doing away with a good deal of drunkenness. At one time it was deemed to be the correct thing for a man to fall under the table from drink. We read in history that boys were kept for the purpose of loosening the neckties and collars of gentlemen who fell under the table from the effects of drink. It was then deemed to be quite a gentlemanly thing for a man to become intoxicated ; whilst the man who becomes intoxicated now in any company is looked upon with disdain and contempt. I am I very glad to find that the feeling is growing, and that there is not now anything like the same amount of drunkenness as there used to be throughout the civilized world.
– Drunkenness amongst women is increasing, unfortunately.
– I do not know that that is so. I have no knowledge of the Alexandra Club, or of the women’s clubs in the old country that have licences to sell drink. We all know that there has been a great improvement amongst the people of Australia in this respect, and though drinking is carried on to a great extent in the old country, it is not nearly so prevalent now as it was some years ago. The proper lines upon which to proceed are those which will inculcate self-reliance; and the way in which we should deal with the liquor question in New Guinea is not to prohibit liquor, but to put the traffic in liquor under State control, that no temptation may be offered to individuals to sell adulterated liquor in order to fill their pockets. I hope the Government will have the courage to proceed with the Papua Bill. I am sure that a majority of the members of the Federal Parliament are in favour of trying an experiment in land nationalization in New Guinea. Senator Drake said that it was unlikely that there would be any revenue from land in New Guinea unless we allowed land to be sold, but there would certainly be some revenue derived from land under a system of land nationalization.
– It would come in very slowly.
– That is so. The revenue now derived in New Guinea from the sale of intoxicating liquors could be derived in another way if we undertook the control of the traffic. If honorable members in another place had had an opportunity of voting upon a proposal for the State control of the traffic before they inserted a provision for prohibition, the principle of State control would now be embodied in the measure.
– Is not that a very good reason for further consideration before the Bill is proceeded with 1
– There is a great deal of force in that. The prohibition proposal was sprung upon honorable members in another place, and as they are about to go before the electors they were afraid of putting
I themselves in a wrong light before the general public, and voted for the proposal when, if they had had an Opportunity of doing so, they would have voted for State control of the liquor traffic.
– I rise to express my profound surprise that the highly respectable Senator Walker should advocate that the liquor traffic should be allowed in New Guinea. I was never more surprised at anything which has occurred in this Chamber.
– I told honorable senators that the missionaries advocated it. i
– There is only one i thing more surprising, and that is to find Senator Higgs suggesting that, for their stomachs’ sake, people require a little liquor in Hew Guinea. When the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was brought before the Senate it was pointed out by Senator Higgs that the reason why the white man could not work in the cane-fields of northern Queensland was his fondness for bad rum and worse whisky.
– I never said such a thing. I have a better opinion of labour than that.
– Senator Dobson might have pointed that out.
– Was it not pointed out that the reason why they could not compete with coloured men in the canefields was that they were not temperate enough ? Will any one assert that any man is the better for using liquor of any kind in a hot climate ?
– Or in any other climate.
– Certainly they are.
– What is it that kills off the Britishers who go to India? We know that it is drink. In two or three years some of them become perfect wrecks as the result of drink. Here we have had the use of drink advocated by many honorable senators ; and the most painfull)’ respectable honorable senator of the lot has strongly advocated the use of liquor by natives of New Guinea.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that. I said that the Bishop of New Guinea and the missionaries said it was necessary.
– The banking instinct in the honorable senator got uppermost, and he said we should make some money out of it. Surely it is not a good reason for allowing the liquor traffic to be carried on in New Guinea that we should derive revenue from it? I quite agree with Senator Pearce in what he has said with respect to the nationalization of land in New Guinea. If I had my way I should not sell an acre of land in that territory. I should prefer to allow people to occupy it for a generation for nothing, in order that they, might open up the country. I do not know that any Act which we can frame will keep liquor out of New Guinea, and if a rich gold-field is discovered there many means of getting liquor will be devised, notwithstanding any prohibition we may pass ; but it is the duty of members of this Parliament to, as far as possible, keep it from the aboriginal natives of the country.
– I am very glad that Senator Pearce has made a proposal for a reduction in this vote as a protest against the action of the Government. When we come to analyze the motives which have actuated the Government in withdrawing the New Guinea Bill, we shall find that the)’ do not redound to their credit. They introduced the Bill with the full intention of carrying it, but because honorable members of the House of Representatives, directly representing the people of Australia, carried two amendments providing for the prohibition of the liquor traffic and the nationalization of land in New Guinea, the Government withdrew the Bill. I say, unhesitatingly, that their action has been an unwarrantable misuse of the functions of a representative Government. The Government have no right to flout the will of the people. The people’s representatives decided that the Bill should be amended in a certain way, and the Government have snapped their fingers in the face of the people of Australia. We are placed in an anomalous position with regard to New Guinea. We have passed resolutions, in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, declaring that New Guinea should be taken over as a Territory of the Commonwealth. At the present time it is a Possession of Great Britain, and we are paying the whole of the expenses of the Administration, though we have not the power to appoint a Lieutenant-Governor, or to control in any way the management of this alleged Territory of the Commonwealth.
– The agreement is that we shall pay .£20,000 in aid of the Administration.
– We are paying the whole of the expenses required to meet the deficiency between revenue and expenditure. Great Britain has declined to pay a penny. I have always expressed the opinion that it would have been better if we had not taken over New Guinea. The Government, however, intend to take over the territory, but because the people of Australia, through their representatives, expressed an opinion in regard to certain issues, they decline to enact a Bill.
– Senator Higgs says that that was not the true opinion of the Government, but that they were rushed into their action by the House of Representatives.
– The Senate never cast a vote on the question.
– The Senate never had an opportunity; but, if they had, they would have a perfect right to legislate in favour of prohibition. What is the Government’s objection to land nationalization, seeing that the land of New Guinea is practically unalienated ? The Government are strenuous in their opinion that not only should the Crown lands iivthe Federal territory remain unalienated, but that the alienated land should be purchased, so that for all time it might remain the joint inheritance of the people of Australia. In New Guinea, however, they favour the extraordinary policy of opposing nationalization, although the land has not yet been alienated. Senator Walker talked about the danger of illicit traffic in liquor between the German territory and the Australian territory. That reminds me very much of Mark Twain, who once said that if he had to give a lecture on any subject, he would choose astronomy, because he knew nothing of it, and it left so much more to the imagination. It is absolutely impossible for an illicit liquor traffic to be carried on except by water. There are no tracks or roads parallel with the sea coast, the roads simply running inland to the parts where the people desire to go ; and the German settlement is 100 miles north of the border line.
– Gold is actually being worked on both sides of the border line at the present time.
– The Gera gold-field is near to the border, but it is not being worked on the German side, unless illicitly by residents of the Australian territory.
– They are working on both sides of the river.
– The Kamusi River does not divide the territory. If any honorable senator can prove to me that in any country, where the white people have been allowed liquor, the coloured people have not been able also to get it, that will be a strong argument against the necessity for prohibition.
– There is one place - Queensland.
– When I was in Thursday Island, which is a portion of Queensland, last May or June, I saw aborigine natives, or mainlanders as they call them, lined up against the front bar of an hotel, getting whisky, beer, and brandy. I never saw a place where the law is more flagrantly and impudently broken in this respect than it is in Queensland.
– The honorable senator must have had a stroke of luck.
– If the honorable senator does not like to take my testimony, I refer him to the report of Mr. Roth, the Inspector of Aborigines, in which there is testimony from a sergeant of police, and also from Mr. Bennett, the representative of the aborigines, to the fact that the natives get drink. As an illustration, Queensland is about the worst that Senator Dawson could have cited. I am absolutely certain that if liquor is allowed in New Guinea, ostensibly for the white people, the coloured people will be able to obtain it. It will be a crime and a stain on the escutcheon of Australia if we wipe out this handsome and physically and mentally well-developed race. I have seen aborigines drunk on Thursday Island, and I never witnessed more degrading exhibitions of humanity. I have seen similar natives in New Guinea, as a fine body of people capable of great advancement. It is said that the natives do not get liquor in New Guinea. I know that the Government Resident at Daru - which is the most westerly British station - had to prohibit islanders from Saibai coming to the mainland, because they were the means of introducing drink. Saibai is in Queensland, because the Queensland border was extended to take in all the islands of the archipelago. It is a notorious fact that some of the natives in the western division will do anything for liquor. There are over 100 New Guinea natives employed on the pearling fleets, and when they come to Thursday Island they prove themselves as fond of liquor as the Poly-‘ nesians or any other of the coloured people engaged in the same trade. Let us look at this question from the point of view of the white people. There are about 500 whites in New Guinea, 120 at Woodlark Island and about 380 on the mainland, and as there are about 400,000 Papuans, we may say there are 1,000 Papuans for each white man.
We wish to tell the white people that if they require liquor medicinally, they shall, be able to obtain it, but that they shall not have it as a luxury, because then it will get into the hands of the coloured people. Every white man there ought to deny himself liquor as a luxury, in order to save the lives of 1,000 Papuans. The white person who goes to New Guinea, and is not willing to deny himself liquor as a luxury for the sake of the coloured people, is not worthy of the name of a white man.
– Is liquor a luxury there?
– If liquor is not a luxury, but is proved to be & necessity, it can be obtained.
– There are only two doctors in all New Guinea to give certificates.
– Those who favour prohibition are quite willing to afford opportunities for obtaining liquor if it is required medicinally.
– How is a man 300 miles away from a mission station to get permission to use liquor 1
– Had the Bill come from the Senate, it would have been possible to give resident magistrates the power of dispensing liquor for medicinal purposes. The objection raised is one of those “cant” objections, the purpose of which is to defeat an important principle.
– We have the testimony of Bishop Stone- Wigg.
– Bishop Stone- Wigg has been only a short time in New Guinea, and is Under obligations to the people of Samarai for sending his goods to the mission station, and so forth. I never saw a more regrettable spectacle than a Bishop of the Anglican Church, at a meeting consisting mostly of hotelkeepers, working hand and glove together in order to secure the continuance of the liquor traffic.
– Would it not have been the same with the Bishop of any church t
– No ; and I can assure the honorable senator that there are a great many church people who support the missions, and who are disgusted with the conduct of Bishop StoneWigg in this respect. If it has been impossible in any part of the world to prevent coloured races from getting liquor where white people are allowed to use it, we may infer that New Guinea would prove no exception. We have two courses open to us - one to kill off the native race by allowing liquor, and the other to prohibit it except for use medicinally. I hope that a Bill dealing with the question will be introduced this session; if not, that there will be next session, and I can assure the Government that the representatives who will be returned to the next Parliament will be more strenuous than those of this Parliament in their determination to prohibit the ‘ liquor traffic in New Guinea. I hope that we shall not be responsible for the decimation of the inhabitants of New Guinea, as we are responsible for the decimation of the inhabitants of Australia. This land of Australia has never been stained with the blood of our fellow man in war or civil strife, and we have a history of which we may well be proud. But there is one page of the history which is besmirched, and that tells how we have treated the aborigines, who have been killed, not by civilization, but by the vices which accompany civilization. We found in Australia a land with a contented, happy, if indolent people, living a somewhat precarious life ; but these native inhabitants have practically been wiped out of existence.
– We tried to “wipe out “ the Boers on the same plea of civilizing them.
-I am not discussing the Boers. Are we going to do the same in New Guinea as has been done in the South Sea Islands - as has been done amongst the Maoris of New Zealand, the red Indians of Northern America, and the negroes of the United States 1
– The negroes of the United States are increasing faster than are the white people.
– We have only to read the testimony of Booker Washington, and similar authorities, to learn that one of the reasons for the degradation of the negro is the facilities which are afforded him for obtaining liquor. We an.nexed New Guinea, not primarily for the purpose of colonization, or in order to develop the industries there, but because we were afraid some other nation might take the land. Having annexed New Guinea for strategical and defence purposes, we find ourselves in the position of governing a coloured people; and we ought not to introduce certain factors which will inevitably have the effect of killing them off. I feel confident that if members of the Senate could see on each side of Torres Straits and see the effects of the drink traffic - and I am sure we are all actuated by a desire to do what is best in the interests of humanity - they would be unanimous in absolutely prohibiting the traffic in New Guinea. Experienced men like the Rev. Dr. Chalmers and Sir William Macgregor have pointed out the evils which follow the traffic. Sir William Macgregor contends . that liquor is most injurious to white people in such a climate, and that it is responsible for a great many deaths. He said it would be far better if the. liquor were absolutely prohibited even from the point of view of the white population. Sir William Macgregor is a man who has had more experience with regard to the government of coloured races in tropical climates than any other man here. He is the best man we have ever had in New Guinea, and he came to the conclusion that the drink traffic was absolutely injurious. If we considered the white people alone it would be better to prohibit the sale of liquor there, but when we consider the aspect of the question as to coloured races, we must recognise that it would be a lasting crime if Australia allowed drink to kill off these people.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £9,165.
– I wish to call attention to the vote, “ Books for departmental library, £500.” It will be remembered that £1,000 was voted for books in connexion with the Parliamentary Library. It is perfectly true that that sum covers book-binding and fire insurance. Then we have £150 voted for books for the Crown Solicitor’s office, and £400 for books for the High Court. This is a very large sum to spend upon law books. We have a magnificent Parliamentary Library at our disposal, containing a great number of law books, and a considerable quantity of reports. I consider that these votes are most lavish, and I move -
That theHouseof Representatives be requested to reduce the item “Books for departmental library, £500,” to £250.
– It is absolutely necessary to have some law books in the AttorneyGeneral’s office. Each year since the initiation of the Federation we have had a vote. I think the sum was £700 last year, and of that we spent £697. Now we propose to spend £500. I presume that if a vote is necessary next year the amount will be smaller. It is necessaiy to obtain a good collection of reports. We have purchased many of the American and Canadian reports, and hope to make them complete. When that is done it will not be necessary to have so large a vote ; but it is essential that there should be a good collection of reports for the Attorney- General’s Department. We cannot rely upon the Parliamentary Library, which is not our own, for our law library. Senator Dobson will know that a lawyer cannot work unless he has his law reports close at hand. They are his tools of trade. It would be the worst possible form of saving to attempt to carry on the AttorneyGeneral’s Department without a law library.
– There is a vote of £250 for the High Court library.
– Certain law reports must be obtained for the High Court. The amount is small enough, goodnessonly knows !
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs.
Proposed vote, £213,739.
– I wish to direct attention to the votes for the
Public Works Staff. There are votes for the salary of the Inspector-General of Public Works and four superintendents of works. Has the Inspector-General of Public Works been appointed ?
– The appointment of Inspector-General is not exactly made, but I believe that Colonel Owen of the Defence Department is likely to be appointed.
– What work will he have to do ?
– He will have to superintend the construction of all Federal works carried out by the Department of Home Affairs, whether they be military works, post-offices, or other buildings.
– I regret that I must oppose this expenditure, because I regard it as unnecessary. The answer of the AttorneyGeneral has not dissipated my doubts. I have a distinct recollection that the exMinister for Home Affairs, Sir William Lyne, said on more than one occasion that he was not going to attempt to conduct his Department unless all the officers were under his control. He did not seem inclined to carry on public works with the assistance of the numerous skilled officers of the States, who for years past have been familiar with the construction of post-offices, defence works, Customs buildings, and so on. The Department has been carrying on works with the help of the States engineers and architects, but now the Minister has got back to his old idea, and wants to have an InspectorGeneral at -£1,000 a year. What for? Not for the technical inspection of defence works about which a colonel might know something, but for the inspection of post-offices and other public buildings. Let me show how it works out. A post-office in Tasmania foi1 a fairly large township would cost £1,000 ; for a small place it might cost £500 or £600, and for a large town, £1,500 or £2,000. These buildings are constructed under the supervision of a clerk of works and an architect. While the work is going on, the clerk of works is present daily, and the architect visits the building twice or thrice a week. But we are to have a galloping Inspector-General going round the Commonwealth and inspecting the erection of buildings. What will be the value of his inspection 1 It is impossible for him to do the work effectively. If the officers on the spot do their work properly there is no need to have it done twice over. The work can be inspected by the architect and the engineer and can be supervised by the clerk of the works. The Inspector-General’s whole life will be taken up in travelling from place to place, and he will really know nothing as to how works are carried on. He will not be able to say whether the timber was sound, whether the cement or the plaster was good, or whether the masonry was well constructed. He may have a look at the shingles on the roof, but he will not be able to say much about them. We are also to have four superintendents. What are they wanted for? The Attorney-General has forgotten, a return which the Senate some time ago ordered to be furnished, specifying what arrangements had been made with the Public Works Departments of the States for carrying on Commonwealth works. There is a Public Works Department in each of the States, officers of which have been accustomed to the construction of post-offices and other public buildings. The officers of these Departments are ready to hand. If our own business had to be conducted under these conditions, we should make use of the States officers, and why the Commonwealth Government cannot avail itself of their services, I do not know.
– The experiment was tried in Western Australia and was a miserable failure.
– Then I should like to sheet matters home to the officers who made it a failure. I do not see how it can be a failure.
– The Commonwealth work had to take second place.
– I have heard that argument before, but I do not quite credit it. Although the work is done for the Commonwealth, the buildings require to be used in a State and for a State. That argument is a mere bogy. If some persons in a place desire the State Government to construct a building, and other persons in that place wish the Federal Government to erect a post and telegraph office, is it not more likely that the latter will agitate far more than the former ? I think so. I do not believe that there is a building which is so promptly clamoured for when it is needed as a post and telegraph office. We have heard a number of arguments here which have gone to pave the way for the appointment of these officers, but there is absolutely nothing in them. I shall feel bound to vote against the item, unless the necessity for the appointment of this officer is proved.
– An experiment has been made of the execution of these -works under the superintendence of State officers, but it has not worked well in all cases.
– It ought to be made to work well.
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to make that statement, but when two parties have to come to an agreement about a matter, it is of no use for one of them to say that something must be done. The experiment has not worked well in a great many cases, and we find that it will be much better to have Federal control of the construction of public works. The total vote for the construction of Federal buildings by this Department amounts to £192,000; and it will be no economy to allow their construction to be carried out under the control of persons who are not directly responsible to the Department. In some cases the States have made a somewhat heavy charge for the services of their officers, and it has been found in many cases that it would have been more economical to have had the work supervised by our own officers. Taking into account the large expenditure which has to be supervised, the proposed vote for superintendence is not excessive. The appointment of an Inspector-General of Works has not been made yet, but it is under consideration to appoint a gentleman who is performing certain duties in the Defence Department.
– What does he know about buildings ?
– Colonel Owen is a civil engineer, and is possessed of very great abilities. Two superintendents have been appointed, one in New South Wales and , one in Victoria, and we are asking for a ‘ vote for four superintendents.
– Where are the State officials who formerly did this work ? >
– Naturally they devote themselves to the carrying out of the works’ of the State in whose service they are, and the result is that the Federal works have to take second place. It is i much better, I submit, to carry out the con- struction of Federal buildings under Federal control than to continue the practice of asking i for the loan of the services of State ‘ officers.
– I could understand that Colonel Owen as a military engineer might be useful in superintending the construction of defence works, but we do not happen to have the construction of very many defence works in hand.
– The Government are going to build a fort at Fremantle.
– Let Colonel Owen build that fort. What does a civil engineer know about architecture t He knows no more about the erection of post and telegraph offices than does a man in the street.
– This vote is required for an Inspector-General of Works, not for an architect.
– It is required for a Johnny-all-sorts. Colonel Owen does not know anything about the erection of buildings. I presume that this Department will take charge of the erection of the Federal Capital.
– We shall have special men for that purpose.
– Here is the first instalment of £4,000 or £5,000 a year for a Public Works Department which is not required. No men can be so well acquainted with the requirements of the Post and Telegraph and Customs Departments as the State officers who have been erecting and repairing such buildings in the past. Suppose that Colonel Owen were appointed, he would have to apply to those very men for assistance in the shape of plans and specifications. No provision is made here except for a head draftsman at £300 a year. Whoever heard of such a salary being voted to the head draftsman of a large Department ? It is ridiculous to pay a man £1,000 a year to gallop all over the States who has a special knowledge which is not required. We are not going to erect defence works. Every building will be erected under the supervision of an architect. Suppose that a State has charged a little more than ought to have been demanded. The money has had to come out of the pockets of the people of the State. I am surprised, after the opinions which have been expressed here time and again, that such an item should be allowed by the Government to appear in an Appropriation Bill. I shall support a request for the omission of the item if it is moved.- I cannot understand why it was considered necessary to appoint an Inspector-General of Public Works at a salary of £1,000. For the repair and enlargement of old buildings, and the erection of new buildings - mainly for the Post and Telegraph Department - the services of an architect, not a civil or military engineer, are required. There is as ! wide a difference between one engineer and another as between a blacksmith and a fitter. Generally speaking, a railway engineer is of no use for carrying out a water supply ; nor is a water supply engineer of use for supervising the construction of defence works. I could understand the Government stating that they required an officer or two to see that the construction of public buildings was properly carried out, but I cannot see that an InspectorGeneral and a staff are required. If they had proposed a salary of £500 or £600 a year for one or two inspectors to see that the requirements as laid down by the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department were properly complied with, I should not grumble, but I submit that the construction of our public works could be better and more economically carried out by the officers who have been charged with that duty for the last generation.
Motion (by Senator Dobson) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to omit the item “Inspector-General of Works, £1,000.”
– I can quite understand that the Government will not be satisfied to have a large number of Federal works carried out under the supervision of State officials, because the responsibility to them is not direct. I should have been much better pleased if the Government had made overtures to the States to take over some of the officials who, previously had to carry out the construction of such works, and who undoubtedly are competent and trustworthy. If they had taken that course, and their overtures had not been entertained, they would have been provided with an answer to the charge which has been made against them here to-night. It cannot be denied that we are duplicating expense. This unfortunate country is not in a position to stand that.
– We have taken over some of the States officials.
– If the Government have taken over States officers, and the expense is not duplicated, they have acted wisely. I do not care what Department of a State Colonel Owen was in previously so long as the expense is not duplicated If the
Government have taken an officer from any Department of a State, and placed him in a position for which he is qualified, without duplicating the expense - and we must assume that Colonel Owen is a suitable officer for the purpose - my objection partly falls to the ground.
– I cannot see that there is any necessity for this Department as it is organized. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth is carrying out works which previously were carried out by the States. Suppose, for instance, that some slight repairs are required at a post-office in Farina, nearly 400 miles from Adelaide. The postmaster reports that a leak ought to be repaired ; his report comes down to Adelaide ; and a man has to be sent up to Farina to inspect the leak and to report. The postmaster sends word to the Deputy Postmaster-General, and a man is sent perhaps 400 miles to find out what is wanted, and then another is sent to do the work. Some trifling repairs may be required at the public school in the same place, and another man is sent from the State Public Works Department to inquire about that.
– The honorable senator is showing the defects of the present system.
– We are continuing the practice. Two men are being sent’ long distances to ascertain what works are required, when all that is necessary could be done by one man. If it were left to the State officers to do the work, instructions would be given to an officer working on the spot, or near it, to make the necessary inquiries.
– We have to pay all these State officers, and they charge a very high commission.
– They do not necessarily charge a high commission. I can assure the Attorney-General that some claims which were sent in to the Home Affairs Office from South Australia, and were considered to be excessive, were not found to be excessive when they were carefully looked into. I believe that the work will not be done for anything like the same amount if we have a separate Commonwealth staff, as is now proposed.
– We think it will be done cheaper.
– I feel sure that it will not, because of the duplication of work. The officer who is to superintend these works is a man trained to design fortifications ; but a very different training is required to design a post-office and ordinary building. I hope the motion will be carried, and that some effort will be made to utilize the services of the officers of the various States.
– That is just what is being done. We are making use of the services of .States officers throughout the Commonwealth at the present time in carrying out works from one end of the Commonwealth to the other, and we are paying them a commission of 6 per cent. But we require an inspector to look after the work, and we specially require a man who is skilled in the designing of fortifications. The principal public works now being carried on by the Commonwealth in the State of Victoria are fortifications, and it is nonsense to say that a man who has special knowledge in designing and building fortifications will not know something about ordinary buildings that may be roofed with shingles. If we appointed an ordinary architect for the position, he would not have the special knowledge required to enable him to superintend the designing and construction of fortifications, whilst a man having special knowledge of fortifications may be assumed to be competent to superintend the construction of other public works. We are at present paying a commission of 6 per cent, to States officers for looking after our public works..
– Including designing ?
– And providing tools for working?
– I do not pretend to an intimate knowledge of ‘ everything connected with the matter, but I do know that we are paying a commission of 6 per cent., and I admit that that is a reasonable charge. At the same time, we find that it is absolutely necessary that we should have some one to superintend the work of the States officers because they are States officers, and are liable to be extravagant unless controlled. We must have some one to control them. I am informed that no less than £3,000 has been saved by the inspecting officer in connexion with one building in New South Wales. We may by this appointment save the amount of this salary over and over again ; whilst if we trust entirely to States officers, who will not be responsible to the Commonwealth, they will prepare plans for buildings of a very extravagant character. They will want to erect fine buildings, that they may be able to say, “ Look at the beautiful Commonwealth post-office I have built here.” And it must not be forgotten that the more money they spend, the more they themselves will get. The payment to them of the commission will induce extravagance. We must have supervision. Senator Charleston has spoken of men being sent great distances to look after little repairs to post-offices ; but it is the States officers who do that work, and we must have some general supervision. Without it we shall have gross extravagance in all the States. We are not duplicating the work any more than is absolutely necessary in the interests- of true economy, and I therefore, ask honorable senators to pass the vote. I believe that the officer who is to be appointed Inspector-General of Works is specially fitted for the position. We require a man having a special knowledge of fortifications, and as an intelligent intellectual man this officer will be able to look after the interests of the Commonwealth, and see that post-offices and various other public buildings which we have to add to or construct are added to’ or constructed in a proper manner.
– Will the Minister say whether these officers will design work ?
– They, are at present designing works in connexion with fortifications in the State of Victoria, and they may be employed in other directions when they have finished that work. We must have a competent officer as head of the staff.
– To watch Mr. Owen Smith ?
– He will be able to watch Mr. Owen Smith, who is the Superintendent of Public Works in the model State of South Australia.
– He does not require much watching.
– I am not so sure of that. I will guarantee that Mr. Owen Smith could put up a very expensive building for the benefit of the Commonwealth, especially if he got 6 per cent, commission on it. It is unmistakable that we must have supervision of public works in the interests of economy.
– I have heard a lot about supervision, designs, and the extravagant cost of this Department : but if a proper man is obtained by the Commonwealth Government to carry out the duties of head of this Department, the salary provided on the Estimates is not too high, and the Government will be very lucky if they get such a man. It is not a man to design fortifications, public buildings, or anything of that kind that e require, but a man who will be able to organize a Department. I do not know Colonel Owen, but I may say that nearly everybody who is coming into the Commonwealth service is a colonel, a captain, a general, or something of the kind.
– He might be a good man in spite of that.
-He might be the best man in the world, in spite of that. But no man can be assumed to possess special abilities for anything outside of warfare because he happens to have colonel, general, captain, or corporal attached to his name.
– Vote against him because he is a colonel.
– Senator Fraser makes a very great mistake. I would not object to his being an admiral if he had the necessary ability for the position. I am endeavouring to point out that what we require is not a man possessing great designing capabilities. He may have designing capabilities which will run the Commonwealth into hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenditure. What we require is a man who can organize a Department, and who will be able to see that money voted by the Commonwealth Parliament to provide accommodation for Commonwealth officers, and for carrying on public business is not wasted.
– Is not Colonel Owen that kind of man 1
– I do not know whether he is or is not. I am only telling honorable senators that what we require is not a man specially qualified to design fortifications or handsome public buildings, but a man who can organize a Department, because we are bound to have a Department to look after this wouk. If we can get a man who can organize this Department, so that the money of the Commonwealth may be spent economically in the provision of sufficient accommodation, that is the kind of man we want.
– This may be the man.
– Did I say he was not?
– The Government must be trusted to appoint the man.
– I am trusting the Government, and I am telling honorable senators that if a man can be found to do what I have indicated, the amount placed on the Estimates as his remuneration is not too high. I am having regard at present to the percentage method of carrying out the work. What does this method mean 1 A building worth £600 will, under the system of allowing 6 per cent., cost £636 in, say, New South Wales or Victoria ; but if an exactly similar building can be provided in Tasmania, South Australia, or Western Australia for £550, with the added cost of 10 per cent, commission, which will be the most profitable to the Commonwealth 1 The principle is bad, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council was perfectly right when he said that there are many architects and designers - designing men, as it were - who, if they were doing work on commission, would find it to their interest to have* the buildings cost as much as possible.
– The 6 per cent, does not go into the pockets of the officers, but is paid to the States.
– But do honorable senators not see the position ? If 6 per cent, is paid to a State it increases the State income while it increases the Commonwealth deficit. That gives room for Fairbairn, Dean, Bryant, or any Kyabram representative to charge the Commonwealth with extravagance and to credit the State with financial ability. As I have said already, £1,000 per annum is not too much to pay for such a man as I have described. He must be a man who is thoroughly acquainted with the conditions in every part of the Commonwealth and who, with everything under his complete control, will at any moment be able to place his hand on the State officer or Commonwealth officer most fitted for economically carrying out a particular work. Such a man will save money for the Commonwealth, and we cannot pay ‘ him too high a salary. I do not say that Colonel Owen is not the right man for the place, but if his only qualification, is that he can design a fortification or approve of the architecture of a post-office, that is not all that is required.
– He has shown himself a good organizer.
– We have heard the name of a certain individual frequently mentioned, and, it seems to me, that we are rather losing sight of the main question. I intend to vote on the item, and not on any individual. I never heard of Colonel Owen before; and the only question which I ask myself is whether it is necessary for us to create an office of the kind. If I can satisfy myself that such an appointment will tend to economy, I shall vote for the item ; on the other hand, if I could be convinced that Senator Dobson’s view is the correct one, I should support him. I do not suppose, however, that Senator Dobson monopolizes the desire in this Senate for economy, but rather that all senators wish to see the Commonwealth works carried out as economically as possible. I do not care whether or not Colonel Owen is fitted for this office. The responsibility for his appointment must rest on the Government, and all we have to do is to pass the item if we think it is necessary’ in the interests of the Common wealth. If the Government appoint Colonel Owen, and he proves not to possess all the qualifications which were painted in such glowing colours by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it will be for Parliament to bring the Government to book.
– Oh !
– I am afraid that in the eye of Senator Stewart it is unfortunate that “ Colonel “ comes before “Owen.” As to the absolute necessity for the office I have some doubt ; at the same time I do not believe in divided control. I dare say there is a great deal in what Senator Playford said, namely, that it will be at least as economical to carry out the work by means of officers solely responsible to the Federal Parliament.
– There is some little misunderstanding with regard to this matter. Lt. -Col. Owen occupies the position of Assistant Adjutant-General of the Engineer Services and his duties cover the construction, maintenance and repair of fortifications, barracks, and store buildings ; preparations of designs of all military works ; military telegraphs ; custody of plans of works ; custody of lands in occupation of troops ; questions of engineer and submarine mining stores and equipment . personnel and stores ; technical instruction of engineers, submarine miners, &c. I am informed on the best authority that Lt. -Col. Owen has carried out his duties in an exceedingly able manner, and by his splendid supervision has saved thousands of pounds to the Government. It has been said that we are asked to vote £1,000, but I do not think that that is the case. I understand that there is a proposal to amalgamate the office of Assistant AdjutantGeneral with that of the Inspector-General of Works.
– That has not been told us by the Minister.
– I never get up to speak unless I have something new to tell honorable senators. Lt.Col. Owen at present receives £650 per annum, so that if the offices be amalgamated - and I believe they will, because both the Defence Department and the Public Works Department want his services - the increased expenditure will be only £350. Lt.-Col. Owen has knowledge of the erection of fortifications and buildings, and the suggested amalgamation would result in a saving. The Commonwealth has transferred services and buildings to the value of about £12,000,000, and if we are going to spend £180,000 per annum on new buildings, it would be foolish and false economy not to have some qualified person to supervise the work. A commission of 6 per cent, on £180,000 means £10,S00 per annum.
– But we shall have to pay the commission in addition.
– But the expenditure under the supervision of this gentleman will be very much lessened. It seems a paltry cheese-paring idea to say that there shall be no Inspector of Public Works when we are possessed of such an enormous amount of property, and are continually erecting buildings. I believe that it will be in the interests of the truest economy if this appointment be made.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- Is it intended to establish a Department to design and carry out all works without the assistance of the officers of any of the States, or is it intended to continue paying the commission of 6 per cent, in addition to the proposed expenditure? If Colonel Owen, of whom I should not have known anything but for the remarks of the Attorney-General, has been trained in one particular line, he cannot be a “jack of all trades.”
– It does not require much knowledge to design a post-office.
– But when a man does not happen to have that little knowledge, the post-office would not be likely to be very well designed, as would be the case if the plans were prepared by a man who was familiar with that work.
– A man who can design a fort can design a little building.
– I do not find fault with Colonel Owen, except that I am told that he is a military engineer. “What I want to know is whether the 6 per cent, which has been paid to the States is to continue after the Public Works Department is called into existence, or whether the Department itself is to do all the work? If the States officers are to do the work, and we are at the same time to have a Department of our own, it seems to me that matters are being duplicated. We had better constitute a proper Department, and not have a half and half thing like this. We already have a Department with several officers, costing several thousand pounds a year.
– When the States officers send in plans to the Commonwealth Government who is going to approve of them ?
– The men who designed the public buildings before Federation can continue to do it, and can do it better than a man who has had no experience of this kind of work. I object to the reflections cast upon States officers. I do not believe that an officer holding a high position in a State would, merely for the sake of spending money, become extravagant. It does not matter to the officers whether the States or the Commonwealth pay their salaries. These arguments did not hold good when the High Court Bill was before us. We were then told that we required to have our own Judges to do Commonwealth work, and that we could not trust the States Judges because they would be influenced by the States which paid them. What is really intended 1
– There are some people who will not understand.
– I want a straight answer.
– The answer which the honorable senator will get is such as my knowledge will enable me to give. The Commonwealth Public Works Department is already in existence. It is not a new creation. Over £4,000 was voted for its purposes last year. The Department having been in existence, it is now found to be highly necessary that it should have a proper head. A sum of £750 was voted last year to pay the salary of a head for the Department, but there has been some delay in making the appointment. The gentleman whose name has been so frequently mentioned is an officer whom the Defence authorities do not care to give up if they can help it. The Department of Home Affairs wishes to secure his services, and has had some trouble in obtaining them. The chances are that he will be able to work for both Departments, and by that means save a considerable sum.
– Does the honorable senator really mean that ?
– Yes, that is the information supplied to me, and I believe that it is absolutely accurate. We hope to make the appointment very soon. It is necessary to have at the head of the Public Works Department a highly intelligent officer of good organizing powers ; and we have in view a gentleman who has been tried and proved.
Senator STYLES (Victoria).- My question has not yet been answered. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has not told the Senate whether it is intended that this officer and his department shall do all the work, or whether the 6 per cent, is still to be paid to the States ?
– It will be paid when the States do work for us, of course.
– Are we to create a Commonwealth Public Works Department to do the whole of the work for the Com monwealth ?
– The Department cannot be expected to do all the work of the Commonwealth, but it will do a considerable amount - as much as possible. The chances are, that in the two great centres of Melbourne and Sydney, the Department, will do a considerable amount of the work, but in the outlying portions of the Commonwealth we shall have to trust, to a certain extent, to State officers.
– I wish briefly to ask the Vice-President of the
Executive Council if lie deliberately accepts full responsibility for the statement that the officer in question, who has been in the employment of the Defence Department at a salary of £650 a year, is to continue to discharge the same work for the Defence Department, and also to discharge the duties for which the salary of £1,000 appears upon the Estimates?
– He will not do the whole of the work ; it would be impossible for him to do it. But he will do work for the Defence Department as well as work for the Home Affairs Department.
– Am I to understand that this officer will receive £1,000 a year for discharging duties for the Public Works Department, and will also continue to do the work for the Defence Department which he has hitherto done efficiently? Will the Attorney-General accept responsibility for that undertaking? It is a fair thing that the Committee should understand the position.
– The position will be that the officer will be Inspector-General of Works in connexion with the Home Affairs Department, and will at the same time be advising engineer to the Defence Department.
– Then another appointment will have to be made in the Defence Department.
– The officer will leave the Defence Dapartment, but his services will be utilized as an advising engineer in connection with those military works of which he has a special knowledge.
– That is rather an evasive answer. It is obvious, from what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said, that, when this officer is transferred from the Defence Department to the Public Works staff, a vacancy will be created that will have to be filled at some expense to the Commonwealth. While I have been anxious to assist the Government, I cannot recognise in this appointment any economy whatever. It may be a good appointment so far as the officer is concerned, but the plea of economy has disappeared. I do not suppose that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will any longer maintain that this is an appointment by way of amalgamation. Practically, he now admits that it is not.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia). - We are indebted to Senator Smith 1 for having presented the case on behalf of the officer in question as he has done. He has certainly thrown a good deal of light upon the subject. Now we are told that the officer to be appointed is to be Assistant Adjutant-General and adviser to the Minister for Defence, and we are to add £350 a year to his salary, so that he may also be Inspector-General of Public Works for the Home Affairs Department.
– It is not intended to fill the vacancy on the Head-quarters Staff due to the transfer of Colonel Owen.
– That means that this officer will have todo very important work for the Defence Department. Should the Minister for Defence require his services as an adviser, and should his services at the same time be required by the Minister for Home Affairs, which Minister is Colonel Owen to serve ? Are public works in the States to remain in abeyance while Colonel Owen is serving the Minister for Defence ? Instead of this appointment leading to economy, as we were led to believe -would be the case, it will lead to greater expense and to less expedition. I trust that the Senate will support the motion, because it seems to me that we are going to create a very costly Department, and to bring about a great deal of duplication work.
Senator- Playford. - We have the Department now, and we want a head for it.
– The honorable senator states that States officers will be anxious to erect buildings of a magnificent character so that they may say, “Look what fine buildings we. have designed.” What nonsense that is if it is .analyzed. When a post-office is required the Deputy Postmaster-General will know what services it is wanted for. He will know how many rooms are required, and will pass judgment upon the design. He will be able to say whether it is too expensive, and whether it fulfils requirements. To suppose that a States officer is going to put up a building with twelve rooms when only five are necessary, is to endeavour, to put the case in a way that the Committee will not accept. We are asked to authorize an unnecessary expenditure. The State officials are prepared to do this work, and I am quite sure from the reports I have read that it has been done very economically in the past. Considering that the Commonwealth would be called upon to provide a special plant for making a few repairs here or there, a charge of 6 per cent, for the loan of a plant and the supervision of the repairs by a State official is, I think, very low. I am sure that the work could not be done so cheaply under the proposed system.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I wish to point out to the Committee that the Estimates condemn the policy of the Government. If honorable senators will refer to page 24, they will see that a sum of £8,000 a year is paid to States officials for their services in connexion with the erection of Federal works, and to that sum we are asked to add £6,685, making a total of 14,685. As we construct new buildings to the value of about £180,000 a year, a charge of 5 per cent, on that sum would amount to £9,000. If we decided to employ the services of the best professional man in a State, and had no Public Works Department, we could get the construction of £1 80,000 worth of public buildings supervised by architects for an annual charge of £9,000. I was startled by the statement of Senator Playford that it is the intention of the Government to continue the policy of paying States officials. They have not indicated, that the’ annual expenditure of £8,000 for this purpose can be reduced in any way, and they intend to have the construction of £8,000 worth of work supervised by States officials, and the construction of £6,000 worth superintended by Federal officials. In my opinion the Government have taken an utterly wrong view of this matter. I do not believe in paying the .States 6 per cent, for the services of their officials. I think that an arrangement could be made with the. States to pay a fair proportion of the salaries of their officials. lj would be very easy for the Auditor-General of each State to ascertain how many days in the year, a State officer had been working for his State and the Commonwealth respectively. We may disabuse our mind of the idea which Senator Smith enunciated ; namely, that Colonel Owen, or any man, is capable of doing all the work which he mentioned for the Defence Department, and supervising the construction of Federal buildings. It is quite clear that the policy of the Government is not to put Colonel Owen in that position, hut to create a- new office, which, in my opinion, could very safely be done without. It is my intention, by-and-by, to move a request for a reduction of the number of superintendents of works by two.
– I do not think that very much new light has been thrown on this question since the discussion began. Senator Playford has stated in very emphatic terms, that this proposal means economy and efficiency, but he did not show us how a redaction of the expenditure is to be effected. Indeed, when Senator Styles pressed him very hard, he had, unwillingly, to admit that side by side with this new arrangement, the old 6 per cent, system would be continued. The question of creating a Public Works Department was debated very fully last session. On the one hand the late Minister for Home Affairs claimed that he ought to have direct control in these matters, while, on the other hand, it appeared to honorable senators that the Department would lend itself largely to administration by the States. I do not think it is possible for the Commonwealth to organize a Public Works Department on the scale which some honorable senators have indicated their desire to see. If that were done, what would be the result of this huge system of centralization ? The wheels of administration would be slowed down until complaints of delay and inefficiency would pour in from every corner of the Commonwealth. The wisest method to follow is to place the construction of our public buildings in the hands of the Public Works Departments of the States. That appears to me to be the only workable arrangement which could be made. The charge for supervision might very well be ‘ reduced from 6 to 5 per cent. Any architect would undertake to do this work for a fee of 5 per cent. Originally the States asked for 10 per cent., and it was only after some trouble that they consented to charge 6 per cent., which I think might very well be reduced to 5 per cent. With regard to. the appointment of Colonel Owen, I desire to ask Senator Playford whether it is intended to fortify all our post-offices, Customs Houses, and public buildings generally, seeing that that gentleman evidently knows more about fortifications than anything else. The only conclusion’ which I can come to, after listening’ very carefully to the debate, and trying , to read between the lines, is that this is a little job on the part of the Government to find a snug billet for Colonel Owen. I never heard of the gentleman before this evening. I do not know anything about him, except what we have all heard from Senator Playford. But I gather that he is a military engineer. Who ever heard of a military engineer being placed in the position of inspector of works? What qualification can he have for the position ? However intelligent or skilful Colonel Owen may be in his own profession - and I suppose he is a skilful and intelligent man - I cannot see bow he can be competent to undertake the duties of this office. The longer I’ listened to the debate the more convincod I became that there was an attempt on the part of the Government to foist an official, whom they do not know very well how to provide for, into a position at £1,000 a year. From the very nature of his profession, he cannot be competent to act as an inspector of works. To properly fill that position, a man requires to possess certain qualifications. He requires to have a special knowledge of one trade, and a general knowledge of many trades. For instance, carpentering and plumbing have to be done in connexion with public buildings. Does any one imagine that a handy military engineer is a proper person to put in a’ position of that kind ? I do not think so. We ought to be provided with more information about Colonel Owen before we are asked to vote this money.
– I am prepared to ask the Chairman to report progress, if the honorable senator will afford me an opportunity.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Instructions to Divisional Returning Officers ; Instructions to Registrars ; and Instructions to Presiding Officers.
– It is not my intention to ask the Senate to sit after 1 o’clock to-morrow, because some honorable senators desire to go to the garden party to be given by the GovernorGeneral.
– We want to get on with our work.
– I gave a promise to two or three honorable senators that I would not ask the Senate to sit beyond that hour.
– I shall oppose an adjournment at that hour. We ought to sit and do the work.
– If the Senate desires to sit in the afternoon I shall be only too pleased to attend, but it is difficult at times for us to keep a quorum. It was represented to me by a number of honorable senators that they would have to go to the garden party, and I saw that the difficulty of keeping a quorum would be very great. But Ishall be only too pleased if my honorable friends will assist me to keep a quorum in the afternoon. I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19031008_senate_1_17/>.