2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Ministerrepresenting the Minister of External Affairs,upon notice- -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions, are as follow : - 1 and 2. Upon the completion of the communications now in progress in respect to the alteration referred to, and to other matters, the consideration of the agreement of 8th June, 1903, will be resumed.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
I will have the. information laid upon the table: of the Senate in the form of a return.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether the construction of the Port AugustaTarcoola telegraph linewas a charge against the State of South Australia or was Commonwealth expenditure?
– The answer to the. honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The cost of construction of the line mentioned was treated as “ transferred “ expenditure, and charged wholly against the State of South Australia.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
I have a copy of the special reports which were issued on the occasion.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow : -
– Are the reports correct ?
– This answer has been furnished to me by the Prime Minister. I should imagine that the reports are correct, otherwise he would have called my attention to the fact that there was a mistake.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the probable early appoint- ment of a High Commissioner to represent Australia in London, the Government is not of -opinion that any scheme for immigration should remain in abeyance until such official is appointed, so that he could take part in the selection or recommendation of any intending immigration?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The appointment of a High Commissioner is regarded by the Government as an important factor in the encouragement of immigration, and Parliament will be invited to consider it in that relation.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the question of the tobacco industry, and the alleged monopoly in connexion therewith, have leave to adjourn from place to place.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper : -
Regulations under the Beer Excise Act 1901 - Statutory Rules, 1905, No. 55.
– I move-
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the State - owned railways of Australia should be transferred to the Commonwealth with as little delay as possible.
I need hardly point out that party politics have no bearing on this matter at all. It is the initial step towards making one of the greatest, if not the greatest, deal ever made south of the equator. It is quite true that it may be some years before it comes about, but it is simply inevitable. The Stateowned railways of Australia, in which term, of course, I include Tasmania, are about 13,500 miles long, and cost£132,000,000. I mention that fact in passing in order to make it clear that it is a gigantic transaction which I am about to advocate. Prior to Federation, there was a good deal of talk upon this very subject. I, in common with a great many others, believed that the federation of the railways would follow closely upon the federation of the States. Nearly five years have elapsed since that event, but no step has been taken in that direction by any one of the five Governments of the Commonwealth, and it now rests with a private member of its Parliament to initiate the discussion on this great subject.
– We cannot take over the railways without the consent of the States.
– I shall come to that point directly. The only reference made in any speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral during the last five years was made in the speech delivered on the 2nd March, lastyear, when His Excellency said : -
Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is much to be desired.
What was the meaning of that statement put into the mouth of His Excellency ? Was it intended as a sort of kite, to test public feeling, because, without having the railways transferred to the Commonwealth, this Parliament had no power to intervene, unless it ran a line of motor buses or motor cars? Or was it intended as a truism that speedier and cheaper transportation is much to be desired ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect us to explain the Governor-General’s speech?
– No; I am only drawing attention to the passage.
– That is a platitude.
– I think the honorable senator is right.
– And the Minister ought to know.
– I was about to say that Senator Playford was a member of the Government which framed the speech, and therefore he ought to know what was meant. He interjected just now, in that whispering voice of his which can- be heard all over the chamber, that we could not take over the railways without the consent of the States. We all knew that; but, in. order that every one who reads Hansard outside the Parliament - and I do not suppose many do - can see that we have the power to act, I shall read article 33 of section 51 : -
The acquisition, with the consent of a State, of any railways of the State, on terms arranged between the Commonwealth and the State.
That is perfectly, fair and right. That is all that was proposed by either of the Federal Conventions, and it is not quite clear to me that they could have gone , much further, notwithstanding the criticisms which have been levelled against their members by the press from time to time. I do not see how they could haw discussed all the details of such a transaction in an assemblage of the kind. This great subject seems to divide itself into four parts - first, whether we ‘have the power to act ; secondly, will the transfer benefit the people of Australia; thirdly, in making the transfer what terms will be fair and just to the Commonwealth and the States alike ; and, fourthly, If the existing railways are transferred to the Commonwealth, who should construct future lines. I propose to point out a few of what appear to me to be the benefits which would arise from the transfer of the railways. Uniform methods would be introduced at once, that is to say, as speedily as they could be. In all matters relating to the traffic, locomotive, and maintenance branches, the practices are widely different, in the States- The minimum number of highly-paid officers would then be employed. I am sure that honorable members will agree with me that, although the traffic might expand, and employ thousands of additional workmen, still we might not require any more highly-paid officers. I think that that is a view any practical man would take.
– We were promised economy before Federation.
– I am not quite clear as to whether we have gained or not, but I do not intend to discuss that aspect of the matter. I am stating; my view as to what I think should be done in reference to railways. .The ne.xt point is that there would be a standardizing of the best type of engines and vehicles in Australia. The best types, selected not from one State, but from the various States, would be applied to the whole of our railways. There would also be uniform mileage rates under uniform conditions. The conditions themselves might vary, but under uniform conditions there would be uniform rates. That it not the case now. There ought to be no preferential rates as between States.
– There are none now.
– Then an alteration has been made only recently, because I directed attention to that very point some time ago. Next, there would be no occasion for the appointment ofl an Inter-State Commission, in this connexion at all events. Generally speaking, the best points in railway management would be selected by the central board of management, or whatever other authority was appointed, and would be applied to all the States. Under present circumstances perhaps the managers of our railways look somewhat askance at improvements initiated in other States. Probably we should do the same ourselves if we occupied their positions. A man naturally seeks to magnify the service with which he is connected. Before I have done I shall be able to quote some strong authorities in favour of the course I am advocating. The Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, in a report issued as far back as 30th June, 1899, made reference to the value of Inter-State railway conferences. I am quoting; this to show that railway federation is coming of its own accord. The Commissioners said : -
The desirable arrangement of holding annual intercolonial railway conferences for the interchange of ideas on railway matters was brought into active operation by a meeting of the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland at Sydney on the 14th September, 1898. The result of the first meeting has demonstrated their value, and the advantage of holding them regularly will, it is anticipated, be appreciable. These conferences have already done much to bring about uniformity of practice, and vexed questions have been readily disposed of, and as the railway interests of the colonies become more united, the great advantage to be derived from this intercourse will be fully realized. The conferences are preceded by meetings of the principal officers, at which the details of approved subjects for discussion are thoroughly investigated, and subsequently dealt with at the Commissioners Conference.
That is an important passage.
– That course is1 generally followed in England and America.
– Amalgamation is the trend nowadays in all these matters.
– That is consultation.
– What does that mean? It means nothing but federation of ideas amongst the leading railway officials of the country.
– It means the sort of thing the honorable senator is trying to establish in the tobacco trade - monopolies and rings.
– If what I advocate is carried out it will be a monopoly belonging to all the people instead of to a few. That is the wide distinction between what I advocate and what the honorable and learned senator refers to. In order to show that the idea of these’ railway conferences has not died an untimely death, but that they are still held, I will quote from an Age report issued last year -
The Inter-State conference of railway officers was brought to a termination to-day. The general feeling expressed by the representatives was that excellent results had been arrived at, and a distinct step made in the direction of making uniform the practices in the engineering and traffic branches throughout the States.
What does that mean? It means railway federation, it seems to me.
– The conferences are held so that the States railways shall not cut freights one against the other.
– Of course, under what I am advocating, there would be a central authority, and therefore there would be no need for the railway officers of the States to go from place to place holding conferences. A conference of the kind was held in this very city only a month or so ago. I saw the traffic managers of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia in the gallery one evening at the time. Under the system which I advocate, all the best brains in Australia would be selected by the head managers, and applied to the working of the railways of the Commonwealth.
– At the present time there have to be conferences even of officers within a State, and there would necessarily have to be conferences of all the superior officers throughout the Commonwealth if the railways were federated.
– Not necessarily. One important reform to which effect has been given in New South Wales, and from which that State has derived considerable benefit, has been the easing -of grades and the straightening of curves on railways. When we realize the benefits that have accrued from this reform we may wonder why it has not been pursued in other States. I shall Be able to show why. It is not so easy as it looks, when a proposal of the kind has to be brought before a State Parliament, to secure the expenditure of a considerable sum of money for the purpose. To make clear the value of such alterations I will read an extract from a letter showing what has been done in New South WalesThe same could, of course, be done in Victoria. The letter says -
In regard to your inquiries, £181,000 was spent to. effect an estimated saving of £100,000 per annum.
Consider that fact. By the expenditure of ,£181,000 it was possible to save £100,000 a year.
Altogether, up to the 31st October, 1899, £723,000 has been spent in this particular class of work, with most beneficial results. But the saving cannot be exactly put into figures, and some grade work gives better results than others. Our best goods engines draw 350 tons up one in forty and 700 tons up one in 100.
– Can the honorable senator show that Federation would reduce the cost of running our railways?
– The honorable senator is in a hurry. I am going to show that a little later. The letter which I have quoted was written to me by my respected friend, Mr. Fehon, in reply to a letter of mine at the beginning of 3900. At that time I had it in mind to collect such data as I thought would convince the Parliament of Victoria that it would be a good thing to spend one or two million pounds in easing grades and reducing curves. But, unfortunately, an election happened, and my constituents put me out of Parliament, so that I had no opportunity to proceed with the proposition.
– I believe that that policy in New South Wales has returned on the investment at least 10 per cent.
– I think that is so, and I believe that money well spent in any other State in the same direction would secure similar results. It may appear to be a curious thing that I should maintain that a State could not do this work as well as a Federation. My reason is this : It would be necessary to state the grounds for such a proposal to a House of Parliament so that it could be understood, and for that purpose to have the chief railway officers- in the House, in order that they might enter, into figures and explain technical details. The mere reading of reports, without having some one in authority to back them up, would have very little effect. If a Government brought down a proposal to spend, say, ^1,000,000 in regrading and easing the curves of lines, they would at once be met with the criticism, “Oh, you want to spend a lot of money on railways that have already Len built, but we have no railway communication at all at Dead Horse Flat and Never Never Gully. . Why do you want to spend money on improving railways when we want new lines to bring our people nearer to civilization?” No matter if it could be shown by a practical man that this expenditure would return ^100,000 a year, or 10 per cent, on an outlay of 000,000, I have very grave doubts indeed whether any Government in Victoria could carry such a proposal through Parliament. But the same objection would not apply if a Federation were dealing with the matter, because the same local influences would not be brought to bear.
– What the honorable senator says has not been the case in New South Wales, where the Houses of Parliament sanctioned such improvements.
– That is so; but under Commonwealth control the Commissioners might have pushed the improvements much further than, they ventured to do under State control. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I am not in any degree reflecting upon the railway officers of Victoria. They thoroughly understand and are alive to the importance of grading. I happen to know, in fact, that they are well versed in these matters. But 1 am quite satisfied that the State Parliament would not look at such a proposal, though I am equally convinced that it would be a good thing for the country.. There would be an outcry raised against it, and people would not understand the question. In fact, it would be surrounded by such a mass of technicalities that the average lav-man could not be expected to understand it. The diversity of gauges in Australia has been referred to. Of course, that has been a great drawback to the working of the railways in this country. As honorable senators are aware, there are three gauges between Brisbane and Adelaide. In Queensland there is a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge ; and in New South Wales a 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge, which is known as the standard gauge, and is adopted on 80 per cent, of the- railways of the world. I may remark that that gauge was fixed by a working man, George Stephenson. Then in Victoria and South Australia we have a 5 ft. 3 in. gauge. Those differing gauges would be very awkward in time of war. It would be a wise thing from that point of view to have a uniform gauge throughout Australia. If troops had to be taken hurriedly from Adelaide to Brisbane, the horses and men would have to be transhipped twice before they reached their destination. It is quite’ true that the operation would not take very long, but what would be a great deal worse would Le the difficulty of maintaining a regular train service under circumstances of excitement. But a still worse feature is that hundreds of vehicles, together with a large body of troops, might be unable to proceed further than Wallangarra, while the northern capital was in deadly peril. Supposing Sydney and Newcastle were Doth threatened at one time, the New South Wales Government would only have the engines and vehicles of that State to convey troops; and with the border in the north about 400 miles from Newcastle, and the border in the south about the same distance from Sydney, the chances are that the strain on the rolling-stock would cause a breakdown, or some other mishap, My object is now to show that in time of war it would be most desirable to have a uniform gauge. One of the strongest arguments used in favour of a uniform gauge throughout Great Britain was that it would facilitate the movements of troops and equipment from point to point in case of war.
– Would not the substitution of a uniform gauge involve great expenditure ?
– It would involve an expenditure of millions of money.
– Experts some years ago estimated that it would cost £2,250,000 to convert the Victorian railways to the New South Wales gauge ; but, strange as it may appear, it was estimated that to convert the New South Wales gauge to that of Victoria would cost £4,500,000, or just double.
– The money would build four battle-ships. That is what we were told in reference to the proposal to build a transcontinental railway.
– I have tried to explain that in time of war a uniform gauge would be of great advantage, and I should now like to show that it would be equally desirable in time of peace in the interests of the producers, the class whom we have first to consider. The obstacles to the quick movement of troops between Adelaide and Brisbane were not reckoned with when the railways in the eastern States were built. It was then thought that the railways would be useful for the purposes of defence, but each of the eastern States constructed its own lines, and did not ask assistance from any one ; and, of course, those railways are not as efficient as they would be with a uniform gauge.
– Let the eastern States institute a uniform gauge for themselves ; it is not the business of the Commonwealth to do so.
– I do not hesitate to assert that with a uniform gauge in South Australia, where there are at present two gauges, 25 per cent, could be saved on the rolling-stock in that State alone, and 20 per cent, in three other States.
– The only gauge on which a saving could be made in South Australia would be a 3ft. 6in. gauge.
– I shall not discuss that question.
– Could a uniform gauge not be brought about without the Federation of the railways?
– It could, but the fact is that the States will not bring it about. Each State has to maintain a large stock of vehicles and engines in order to deal with wool, grain, and other produce in a reasonable time; but after the rush is over a large quantity of this rolling-stock is put into sidings to await the next season.
– That would be so if there were no break of gauge.
– I shall show that it would not be so. Wool and grain in South Australia are ready for conveyance to port about a month or five weeks sooner than is the case in Victoria.
– That depends on the district in Victoria.
– I am- now speaking generally.
– In some parts of Victoria the wool and grain are ready sooner than is the case in South Australia.
– As I say, I am speaking generally. The wool clip in Queensland begins, I believe, in June and ends about July.
– In parts of New South Wales the time is the same.
– That may be so; but, generally speaking, the further north we get the sooner we find the wool clip and the grain ready for conveyance to port. With a uniform gauge throughout the Commonwealth, vehicles and engines could be sent where they were most required to cope with the rush, just as occurs now within the borders of each State ; and the time during which the produce of the mainland would have to be carried to port would, of course, be extended over a longer period than at the present time. Another point worth considering is that, with a uniform gauge and federated railways, the produce would’ in all cases go to the nearest port, which, generally speaking, is the best for the producer. .There would be no difficulty about boundaries, and no question raised as to whether the produce ought to go by this or the other railway system, because the system would be one. Mr. Mathieson, late Railways Commissioner for Victoria, is regarded as an authority on railways ; and those people who have a habit of slandering Australia might just bear in mind that when the greatest railway company in the United Kingdom, which has a paid-up capital of £^182,000,000, required a manager, it did not select one in the United Kingdom but sent to Australia for the gentleman whom I have just mentioned. Mr. Mathieson now manages a railway system which cost £”50,000,000 more than the whole of the railway systems in Australia put together.
– Did Mr. Mathieson not first come to Australia from the old country ?
– I understand that in the old country Mr. Mathieson had .£900 per annum, but the experience he gained in Australia made him worth £4.500 a year to the company by which he is now employed. I am not mentioning this fact out of any disrespect to Mr. Mathieson, who is a personal friend of my own ; but there is no doubt that owing to the valuable training he. received in Australia he is new worth £’4,500 per annum, which is paid, not by a Government, but by a private company.’ .
– Is the honorable senator sure that Mr. Mathieson now receives ^4,500 a year?
– I cannot say for certain, but that is my information.
– At any rate. Mr. Mathieson is now receiving a much larger salary than he, did previously.
– I know that Mr. Mathieson received ,£3,500 per annum in Victoria, and I am told that he is now paid £1,000 more. Mr. Mathieson said: -
Were the Commonwealth to take over all the railways . . . the rates would then be on a uniform basis for the whole of the States. All the railways would be worked for the common good, and the geographical position of the ports would rule the traffic. . . . Railway rates should not, any more than other ordinary commercial charges, be dependent on merely political divisions.
– When was that written?
– It is taken from a report furnished bv Mr. Mathieson in 1897, at the request of some member or members of the Federal Convention ; and what he said appears to me to te good common sense. This question of gauge is inseparably bound up, in my estimation, with the federalizing of the railways. Fifty-five years ago, before the first railways were begun in Australia, it was decided in Sydney - at that time Victoria, then known as Port Phillip, was part of New South Wales - that the railway gauge of Australia should be 5 feet 3 inches. Mr. Eddy, the late very able Chief Railway Commissioner of New South Wales, revived the question about sixteen years ago, when he made a suggestion that the break of gauge should be transferred from Albury to Melbourne. Mr. Eddy’s proposal was that the 4ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge should be continued right on to Melbourne, and that all the branch lines in the north-eastern districts of Victoria should be converted to the same’ gauge. Mr. Eddy was kind enough to transfer the break’ of gauge, with all its inconveniences, from his own Colony, and to suggest that the consequent alterations should be in Victoria. ‘
– The honorable senator admits that a uniform gauge would be more economical.
– That is what I do not admit, unless the whole of the railway business is federalized ; and Mr. Eddy’s proposal would have done away with one break of gauge and created half-a-dozen.
-Col. Gould. - Mr. Eddy’s proposal was that all the railways should have a gauge of 4ft. 8 1/2 in., and that the whole of the Colonies should jointly bear the expense.
– I am not going into that question. I am merely pointing out now that Mr. Eddy, one of our foremost railway men> advocated this extension of a uniform gauge as a first step to the unification of gauges in Australia. I regard it as rather cool, however, that he should have made tha proposal he did, seeing that he represented the State which broke the agreement made at its own suggestion in 1850 - that was the agreement as to gauge between New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
– Come down to recent times.
– I know that Senator Millen was not very old at the time.
-Col. Gould. - I think that one railway had been built at that time by a private company.
– No; not at that time. Honorable senators need not think that T have the slightest feeling in this matter, because my only desire is to have the question discussed in the press and on the platform - discussed both in and out of Parliament. If the proposal is found to be hostile to the best interests of Australia, we need not go any further, but if it can be demonstrated to be for the benefit of the people, let us have the railways federated with a view to the adoption of a uniform gauge. I shall now quote from Mr. Coghlan, the free-trade statistician of New South Wales.
– Is Mr. Coghlan a freetrader ?
– I think so.
– I do not believe that the people of New South Wales think so.
– Mr. Coghlan, in my opinion, is no better or worse for being a free-trader. At any rate, that gentleman says : -
In 1850 the Sydney Railroad and Tramway Company decided to adopt the 5ft. 3m. gauge, and in 1852 an Act was passed, which provided that all the railways in the State should be laid down to that gauge. But in 1853 -
I may say that the engineer had then been changed - the company mentioned . . . altered their views on the gauge question, and applied to have the 4ft. -.Sim. gauge substituted for the 5ft. 3m. gauge, succeeded in repealing the Act, and in passing another, which made the narrower gauge imperative. This step was taken without the concurrence of the other States, and feeling ran very high in Victoria in consequence, as two of the railway companies in that State had already given large orders for rolling-stock on the 5ft. 3in. gauge.
I shall not go into these old matters further than to show that we in Victoria are quite aware who caused the break of gauge. I am not saying that on that account New South Wales should contribute any more than a fair proportion. I should like it to be understood that because they happen to have railways on the 4ft. 81/2in. gauge, the standard gauge of the world, they are not to receive any special advantage from that.
– I cannot see the application of this ancient history to the motion.
– I desire to point out that New South Wales is to blame for the break of gauge.
– We know that New South Wales is very wicked.
– The honorable senator is an excellent authority-: on the subject, and I have no doubt that he is correct.
– Is it not on the honorable senator’s own showing, evident that the real position is that New SouthWales recognised what was best sooner than did Victoria ?
– I do not think that was the point at the time. I am not sure now that the 4ft. 81/2in. gauge, though it is the standard gauge of the world, is the best gauge to adopt. I admit that it answers very well, and that it is a little cheaper than the 5ft. 3in. gauge. It has been my desire to point out that New South Wales agreed upon a 5ft.3in. gauge by an Act passed by the Legislative Council of that State, and subsequently that Act was repealed without notice to other States interested. It is only right that I should point this out, so that when it is said that we want so much in Victoria, we may reply that we do not want anything on this ground. I admit that this is ancient history. In 1891, our President, Sir Richard Baker, foresaw that it would be a good thing to have our railways on a uniform gauge, and he moved in the Convention, held in that year, that the Constitution should contain authority for - the altering of the gauge of any line of railway, and the establishing a uniform gauge in any State or State’s.
It is fourteen years ago since the honorable and learned senator moved in that matter, and it is to be regretted that more notice was not then taken of the question, because about 2,600 miles of railways have since been laid on various gauges, and they will eventually have to be altered.
– On the 3ft. 6in. gauge?
– Yes, and on the 5ft. 3in. gauge also. If the motion moved in the Convention by our President had been carried, instead of being rejected, railway managers might have been induced to give more attention to the question. However, they did not take any action in the matter until seven or eight years later, when they met to discuss the question.
– Perhaps it was a matter of funds?
– Whether they had the funds or not, they might have taken certain steps in the matter. It was not merely a question of funds, as I will be able to show that they could have taken steps in the direction of the unification of the gauges without spending any money at all. I now propose to refer to the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Sir Edmund Barton. He made a reference to this question, and I dissent entirely from the policy which he enunciated.
– Was the Act to which the honorable senator alluded as passed in New South Wales in 1853, an Act to assist a private company, or was it a public Act?
-Both the Acts to which I have referred were public Acts passed by the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the first enacting that all railways should be built on the . 5ft.3in. gauge, and the second enacting that they should be built on the 4 ft. 81/2 in. gauge.
– The honorable senator will recollect that the first railway in New South Wales was started by a private company, and was taken over by the Government in 1853.
– I understand that that was so. Sir Edmund Barton, on the subject of federalizing the railways, said in his Maitland speech -
Ministers hoped that it would not be long before between the great capitals of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, at least, the railway gauge may be made uniform.
Presumably the gauge in the honorable gentleman’s mind was the 4 ft. in. gauge, and what he proposed would involve the substitution of the 4 ft. in. gauge for the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge in Queensland, and the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge in Victoria and South Australia.
– Why should we propose a unification of gauges when the States will not do the work, although the honorable senator contends that it would be such an advantage to them?
– The States will not do it, and I reply, as I did in connexion with the gradients, that, in my opinion, if in the States now it were proposed to spend£2,500,000 in converting the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge in Victoria and South Australia to the 4 ft. 81/2 in. gauge, there would be an outcry against the proposal, because the people would want the money spent on new lines. That outcry, raised by a section of the people in the Commonwealth, would not have the same influence and weight with this Parliament that it would have with a State Parliament.
– But the States Parliaments would still have control of the railways.
– Not if they were transferred to the Commonwealth, as I propose. If that were done there would be less substantial opposition to a proposal for a unification of the gauges than if any attempt were made to bring that about by the States themselves. The people of the States wish to have new railways everywhere, and all sorts of things are promised if it is understood that they will get a railway.
– I am afraid that the honorable gentleman has “been there.”
– I have. I think that in the States and in this Senate, which is the States House, no such scheme as that enunciated by Sir Edmund Barton would be supported. The Senate represents the States, and we would see, if the States Governments did not - though I have no doubt they also would see it - that what Sir Edmund Barton proposed was to take over from them their main trunk lines, which in nearly every case are their best paying lines - the king-posts, so to speak, of their railway systems. In order that produce from the interior of any of the States may reach the seaboard, generally speaking, it has to be taken some distance along one of the inter-State lines, and it is not at all likely that the States would hand over those lines to the
Commonwealth, and retain for themselves the lines which do not pay so well, and which in a great many cases do not pay at all. Even if there were no practical and technical difficulties in the way, it is not at all likely that any State would hand over its best-paying lines to the Commonwealth. We know perfectly well that if we had our inter-State lines on a 4 ft. 81/2 in. gauge at the present time, we should require to have a seventh Railway Department in Australia, where we already have six such Departments. There would be a Department required simply to manage and work the inter-State lines. That is ridiculous on the face of it. For the railway between here and Albury and between Albury and Sydney we should have to have two sets of offices, and two sets of running sheds. If the cross-country lines were built on the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge two sets of running sheds, repairing shops, and so on, would be required. Having said this, I shall show that some of the Engineers-in-Chief of our railways support the policy enunciated by Sir Edmund Barton. The members of the Engineers’ Board who reported on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line, were very strong in support of that policy. In their report they say-
We are of opinion that the standardizing of the existing main lines cannot be long delayed. . . . The overwhelming importance, from a national point of view, of having a uniform gauge for Australian through lines should be fully recognised when considering the proposed undertaking, and any action which is likely to jeopardize this result should be strenuously opposed.
That is the opinion given not more than two years ago by a board composed of the Engineers-in-Chief of the railway systems of Australia. It will be seen that they entirely support Sir Edmund Barton’s proposal, and I have no hesitation in dissenting absolutely from their opinion. A sweeping condemnation of any such suggestion has been made, not by a builder or designer of railways, but by Mr. Mathieson, who was a manager and worker of railways. In 1897 Mr. Mathieson, in dealing with this question, said -
The possession by the Commonwealth of a part of the railways of an individual State mightbe found to create difficulties which do not exist at present, as, for instance, were the Commonwealth to agree to take over our main trunk lines only, and work them, an alteration of the present gauge might be decided upon, and this would so disorganize the local traffic as to create great public inconvenience. I would, therefore, urge that, so far as the Victorian railways are concerned, there should not be any breaking up of the system which would involve this, and that the condition should be absolute that either the whole system, or no portion thereof, should be handed over by this State.
That, in my opinion, is sound common sense, and it applies with equal force to every State in the Commonwealth. I can find another authority supporting the view stated by Mr. Mathieson - :no less an authority than the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales. In a report made six years ago they say : -
It is satisfactory to note that Victoria and South Australia reported, at the last intercolonial conference, that all new structures and appliances were being designed, where practicable, with a due regard to the future adoption of the 4ft. 84in. gauge, being that of New South Wales.
When I was referring a little time ago to the fact that steps might be taken in the direction of a unification of gaUge, I said that this might be done without spending any money. As a matter of fact, it has been going on for some years. Victorian rolling-stock has been constructed so that it might be converted with very little additional expense in such a way that it might lie used on a 4 ft. 8£ in. gauge line. The Railways Commissioners of New South Wales go on to say: -
The only question now remaining to be determined is as to how the question of cost is to be apportioned, which is one for the respective Governments to deal with.
– The honorable senator has just said that no additional cost would be involved.
- Senator Playford must have misunderstood me. I have said that the cost would be about ,£2,500,000. But I have also said that we can begin preparations for the unification of the gauges, and are doing so without any additional cost. We are making rollingstock now with the idea of a uniform gauge in view. Since this proposal was enunciated in New South Wales, rolling-stock has been made in Victoria and in South Australia to the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds, which is suitable for conversion at a moment’s notice to use on a 4ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge line.
– I do not know how it could be done ; the wheels would have to be taken off.
– I have just spoken of the New South Wales Commissioners as saying that it is satisfactory to1 note that Victoria and South Australia reported at the last intercolonial conference that all new structures and appliances were being designed where practicable with a due regard to the future adoption of the 4ft. 8 1/2 in. gauge.
– That refers merely to railway stations, and not to rollingstock.
– I can assure the honorable senator that something is being done in this connexion with rolling-stock, though not with locomotives. In these two cases Mr. Mathieson and the Railways Commissioners for New ‘ South Wales are managers and workers of railways open for traffic, while the gentlemen who reported on the construction or otherwise of the Western Australian railway were not managers or workers of railways open for traffic, but merely designers of railway works. Therefore, I prefer to take the opinion of the New South Wales Commissioners, supporting Mr. Mathieson, rather than that of those who perhaps have never had anything to do with the working of traffic. They say, “ Take the whole of the railways or none.” It appears to me that any divided control would be a. mistake. The whole of the railways or none should be transferred to the Commonwealth, and the condition precedent to the undertaking of any construction, to the unification of the gauges, or to the working of even one line, should be the federalizing, of all State railways.
– Would the honorable senator withdraw from the States all connexion with their railways?
– The trouble is that they will not surrender their lines.
– Of course, we know that the States have the right to say no. I am only assuming that they are anxious and willing, like this Parliament, to do the best for the people of Australia. If it can be shown that it is the best thing to do, I do not know why the States Parliaments should not consent. But, of course, if that cannot be shown, we cannot expect them to give their consent. I desire t« make a few references to the financial aspect of the question. An attractive picture is painted by some amateur financial authorities. They say, “The railways cost £132,000,000.^ the interest on the capital is 3! per cent. ; go and buy up the debentures with the proceeds of Commonwealth debentures, bearing 3J per cent, interest, and save1/2 per cent. every year.” That is easily talked about, but I do not know that it is very easily done, without the concurrence of the money-lender at home. I am not quite sure that he would agree under any circumstances, unless he was to come out on top. If any Australian financier entertains the idea of making a bargain of that kind, and coming out on top, the sooner he weans himself off the idea the better for his reputation as a financier, and for the pockets of the people of Australia, for I am quite sure that he would fail to realize his expectations. The railways have cost £1 32,000,000. Withinthe next twenty-one years that sum will have to be repaid. Of course, if the money-lender will lend us his money at1/2 per cent. cheaper, then, by the year 1926, but not before that year, we shall be saving£660,000 per annum. If the money-lender says, “ I shall lend you the money at a much lower rate, because it will be secured upon the credit of six States, whereas if it were lent to one State there would be only that State to fall back upon,” well and good.
– Does the honorable member suppose that New South Wales would part with her railways at a 31/2 per cent. valuation, as against perhaps a 6 per cent. valuation, for which they could be sold under ordinary circumstances in the London market ?
Senate STYLES.- No. I do not think that any State would part with her railways unless she was well paid for them. I am trying to show that it would be a good thing for the people of Australia if it were done, but of course if that cannot be shown it will not be done.
– The honorable senator is basing his figures on the assumption of purchase at a 31/2 per cent. valuation.
– I have hardly come to that point yet. In 1844, when railways ware in their infancy, the British Parliament passed an Act, in which’ it was provided that if a company were to be bought out, it should receive an amount equal to twentyfive years’ purchase, to be calculated on the average of the annual divisible profits for the preceding three years, and if either party did not agree, it could resort to arbitration. Asimilar principle was adopted about twenty-five years ago by the Victorian Government, when it was buying out the railways from the Hobson’s Bay Company ; but a twenty years’ purchase was adopted, to be calculated on the average annual profit for the preceding three years. That method might be admissible in a case where the railway extension had reached its limits, or could be foreseen, as in the suburban radius here or in the old country, but it would not apply to the railway systems in Australia. Another method of dealing with the question may be described in this way - “ We will fake 31/4 per cent. and capitalize it, and see what amount we should have to give for the railways in Australia.” If we did that, we should be very far out on the last three years’ divisible profits; that is to say, the amount left after working expenses had been paid. Under that method, the value of the railways would be only£7 5, 200.000 as against their cost of £132,000,000.
SenatorSir Josiah Symon.-Howdoes the honorable senator account for that?
– Because the railways did not earn the money in that period. Any such method as that could not be recognised. Another method would be to have the lines valued by a board of experts. But that would be very cumbersome, tedious, and costly, causing a never-ending succession of disputes. I doubt whether we should ever reach finality in any such way, and I am quite certain that there is no one system of valuing which could be adopted. I cannot imagine any one plan which would apply to all the railway systems at the. one time, owing to the movements of population through the seasons, and even through railway extension. Do we not know that at any moment, in a partially developed country like this, rich mineral deposits may be discovered, as was the case in Western Australia, or that land previously believed to be valueless or nearly so, as in the case of the Mallee, in Victoria., might be found to be very fertile ? I recollect the time when it was said that the Darling Downs country in Queensland, would not grow anything but grass and sheep, but now for miles and miles we can see farms in every direction. Such local changes might convert a non-paying railway system into a good business concern in a very short time. No method that I can conceive of would be equally fair to all the States alike. So far as I am able to judge, the only method of valuing the railways would be to take them at cost price in all cases.
– New South Wales would never sell at that rate.
– South Australia would not sell at that price.
– I mean the cost price, as shown in the annual reports. Perhaps South Australia has a surplus, but with a bad season or two down will go the value of her railway assets at once. Let me show how awkward it would be to try to apply one plan. Suppose we said, “ We will give you per cent, and capitalize that, South Australia would receive £86,000 less than the cost of her lines ; Victoria would receive £1,000,000 less than the cost of her lines; Tasmania would receive ,£2, 100,000 less than the cost of her lines ; New South Wales would receive £5,000,000 less than the cost of her lines; Queensland would get £[9,100,000 less than the cost of her lines; while Western Australia would get £1,100,000 more than the cost of her lines. Even if the States parted with their lines at cost price, they would not have very much cause to complain, because the values of private and public lands have been enhanced by the construction of railways to the extent of some hundreds of millions; that is their profit. Mr. Mathieson again went into the question. He said -
He whs strongly of opinion that in the event of the Commonwealth taking over the railways, it should be at an amount not less than their capital cost.
I think that those who go into this question will agree wilh me that there is no way of dealing with the values. Apparently, some years ago the New South Wales railways were worth a great deal more than they are now. Last year they had a deficit of over £300, 000, but at one time they had a surplus. At one time Victoria had a deficit of half a million, but for the last two years, according to the annual reports, the accounts have balanced. There is another question to which I would direct attention, and that is : Who would construct railways in the future if the Commonwealth took over the existing lines? That is a very important question - one to which I heard a senator refer to-day. Of course, we know that we have power to accept the State-owned railways. A body which is working railways can construct lines at a cheaper rate than a body or corporation which has no railways at its command. The money could, I think, be got a little more cheaply by the Commonwealth than by a State. There would be no Customs duties to pay.
– The credit of the Commonwealth is not as good as that of a State,.
– For one thing, the Commonwealth has not tried to borrow. The credit of Canada is 1 per cent, better than the credit of a province.
– The honorable senator is speaking of another country now.
– In regard to the matter of constructing railways, one important fact has to be borne in mind, if the Federal Government owned the railways of Australia. We know perfectly well that if the States were left to undertake new construction, unrestricted in any way, there would in some cases be a serious loss upon them, though sometimes a State might find it to be advantageous to. build a new line that it knew would not pay from the commencement. But the Commonwealth could not, in justice to the other States, take over such a line.
– Is that not a strong argument against federalizing railways which have been constructed for developmental purposes?
– My honorable friend is a little bit premature. I shall meet that point. The Commonwealth Government could not take over railways built by States for developmental purposes, except on special terms, because it is evident that, as the result of such construction, the people of a particular State would receive advantages in the form of enhanced value of property, public and private, whilst the other States would receive no advantage of the kind, and would have to pay the lion’s share of the inevitable deficit. But it might be fairly argued by a member of a State Parliament, “ Who is better able to judge whether a particular country railway should be constructed than the members of the Parliament of the State concerned?”
– That is another argument against the honorable senator’s view.
– And I am going to answer it. We in the Federal Parliament should no doubt say that the railways which we took over should be commercial lines; that is to say, that they should pay interest and working expenses. If the Federal Parliament decided to build a line it would be one from which a return would be expected almost from the commencement. This is, I admit, one of the most difficult aspects of the matter. But it appears to me that something of this kind might be done. To begin with, the Commonwealth Parliament, if it owned all the railways of the Commonwealth, would have the right to construct any line on its own initiative. But if a State Parliament said, “ We want a line run to the Magpie and Stump, in the bush,” the Commonwealth Parliament would say, “ We cannot do that unless you transfer to the Commonwealth the whole of the land through which the line will pass.” The State then would have to acquire the land and transfer it to the Commonwealth. In the next place, the Federal Parliament would have to be allowed to levy special rates upon the line if it so desired. That is the policy which has been pursued under the Railway Lands Acquisition Act in Victoria.
– Under the honorable senator’s system, Western Australian members would have the right to say whether any railway should be built which the Government of New South Wales considered was essential to “the development of that State.
– Only the State Parliament should have the right to say whether a developmental line should be built. But the State Parliament would have to guarantee the Federal Government against any loss in the same way as a State Government guarantees the money-lender in London. Under the Victorian Act which I have mentioned, when an urban railway is constructed, if there is any doubt in the minds of the officers as to whether it will pay, the municipal councils through whose territory the line will run have to give a guarantee to the Government of 4 per cent, per annum for twenty years upon the money expended on land and compensation for severance. In the case of the Collingwood line, in Victoria, the guarantee came to £[70,000 or .£80,000. The Collingwood and other councils interested guaranteed 4 per cent, upon that sum for twenty years. In the case of Victorian country lines, all the land has to be handed over free of cost to the Government.
– Has Collingwood paid its share of the loss on the line ?
– I cannot say. I know that Collingwood tried to get out of it, as is always the case. But we should be in a different position from a State Parliament when it is dealing with a local council. I think it would be sufficient if a State were to guarantee us 3 1/4 per cent, of the ai per cent., which is the average rate at which railway loans throughout Australia have been floated. The State would be amply repaid by the enhanced value of pri vate and public land, and by the increased production that would follow from the construction of the railway. It would be just as free to order the building of any new lines, as it is now, by simply guaranteeing, the Commonwealth, instead of the British capitalist, a return for the outlay. The trend nowadays throughout the civilized world is in the direction of amalgamation. The London County Council, with its extended powers, is an example of that in England. In Victoria there is a Greater Melbourne scheme. In our President’s State they are talking of a Greater Adelaide. The railway and tramway employes of Australia have amalgamated. In Great Britain railway companies have amalgamated. Small companies are being absorbed by large ones. I want to see the same process take place in Australia. A well-known writer said recently -
The tendency of British development has been for the lines to be constructed by small companies of local promoters, and subsequently amalgamated1 into larger systems. The Great Western Railway Company, for example, has built up its great system by swallowing up nearly 200 lesser companies.
I think that is a sufficient reply to those whoobject to having one central authority, especially in matters of this kind. Here are people who are dealing with their own money, and large undertakings have swallowed up small ones -
The bulk of the railway systems of the United1 Kingdom are now concentrated in the hands of a comparatively few companies.
The company of which Mr. Mathieson, the late Railways Commissioner of Victoria, is manager, in England, actually has a paidup capital of £[182,000,000, which is £[50,000,000 more than the whole of the railways of Australia have cost. President Roosevelt, the head of the great republic of the west, whom I regard as one of the ablest men of the day, recently made a speech at a dinner of the Chamber of Commerce at Denver, where he advocated giving the national Government, and not the States Governments, increased powers of supervision over and regulationof railway and (other large corporations.
– That is only regulation, not amalgamation.
– It is to be remembered that the railways in America are privately owned. President Roosevelt could h’ardly advocate the amalgamation of them. But the next best thing is the vesting of railways in a central ‘authority, instead of placing them under the control of States. That is what I am contending for. My object is to focus control. By way of conclusion, I am going to outline what I conceive to be a true railway policy for Australia. I want to show what would follow from the federalizing of the railways. I have prepared a map to illustrate my argument.
– I notice that the honorable senator has the transcontinental railway marked on his map.
– I have it marked in red, which, to a railway man, means danger. But the real transcontinental railway, from Adelaide to Port Darwin, I have marked in blue, which means caution. In the first place, it appears to me that, if the railways are federated, the Northern Territory should be handed over to the Commonwealth Government at once, so that we, in the Federal Parliament, can control the people employed there. No doubt we shall be able to make good use of the Territory. Poor little South Australia, that I admire so much, is not able to spend money in development. The Commonwealth might. My suggestion is, in the first instance, that there should be a transcontinental line running from Adelaide to Port Darwin. There is a great deal to be said in favour of that proposition. I observe that that is about the only thing that I have said this afternoon which meets with the approbation of the Minister of Defence. He says “ Hear, hear “ vigorously, because the line would run through bis State. He now thinks that I am a very sensible man, and know what I am talking about. Let .me point out the difference between the time that it would take correspondence to reach Great Britain by the route which I advocate as compared with the present route. By means of a line of steamers running from Port Darwin to Port Arthur, and touching at various ports en route, the whole of the eastern side of Asia would be tapped. We should be able to open up communication and develop new markets that would be enormously beneficial to Australia. Of course, this cannot be done in a day. A letter could easily be brought from London to Port Darwin in twenty days. I have set down twenty and a half days in my calculation. By means of this railway, which I have shown on the map, such a letter could be brought down to Adelaide, and it would reach there in twenty-five days “after it left London. At present the time is thirty-one days, so that there would be a gain of six days. I do not want to go into details unless honorable senators desire me to do so. From London to Perth at present occupies twentyseven days, or about the same time that would be occupied, under the suggested scheme, in taking the Western Australian letters to Port Augusta and sending them over by ,the transcontinental line. . To Melbourne the gain would be almost exactly the same as in the case of Adelaide. Then as to Sydney, I suggest the construction of a line of 500 miles to connect Cobar with the transcontinental line at Beltana, and this would afford a saving in time of seven days fourteen hours. The Queensland mails would be conveyed by way of the Charleville line, and would reach! Brisbane in eight and a half days’ less time than at present.
– That saving would be .made (by constructing 750 miles of railway ?
– Yes. I do not put these reasons forward as all that could be adduced in favour of the construction of these lines, but, at any rate, the matter is one which it is worth while to think over. The advantages which the land in that part of Australia offers, might afford some justification for the construction of the lines, and I do not see why the other States should not hand over territory to the Commonwealth if the railways were built. The whole 3,500 miles of railway would cost, roughly, £[20,000,000. We are accustomed to be very saving in these days, and when we talk about the expenditure of a few millions, we are apt to hold up our hands in horror. I can recollect the time, however, when £[20,000,000 for the construction of railways was spent in twelve and a half years in Victoria, where there were only 1,000,000 people to pay the interest.
– I thought the honorable senator said that it would cost £[10,000,000 ‘to build the transcontinental railway to Western Australia.
– I think Senator Croft is making a mistake.
– Sometimes the honorable senator, said that that line would cost £[5,000,000, at other times he said it would cost £7,000.000, and once that it would cost £[10,000,000.
– The honorable senator must have then had me “on a string.” Then, strange to say, “the gap in the transcontinental line appears to be of exactly the same length as the proposed line to Western Australia, and as the map was prepared under the direction of the late C. Y. O’Connor, of Western Australia, I take it to be correct. I submit this rough, and perhaps crude, scheme, as showing in outline what may happen in future years if the railways are federalized. An expenditure of £[20,000,000 is not such a great amount for 3,500 miles of railway, if we take into account the large areas of land that would be transferred to the Commonwealth for the purposes of settlement. The day must come when railways will move in the direction shown on the map ; and all I desire to do now is to make out as good a case as possible for the federalizing of the railways. When the inevitable negotiations begin between the States and the Federal Parliament, they may be conducted much more smoothly if the central fact be borne in mind that the railways all belong to the people.
– That is a splendidsounding phrase.
– This is about the only time I have ever received any support or encouragement from my honorable colleague. The main question is whether it is best in the interests of the people that the railways of Australia should be managed by the officers of six different departments controlled by six Parliaments, or whether they should be controlled by one Railway Department subject to the people’s servants in the Federal Parliament. Like other railway contractors, I am afraid that there is not much sentiment about me ; andi my only desire now is to ascertain what there is to be said against my proposal, so that I may have an opportunity, which I hope to have before the end of the session, to reply to objections. I know that in some quarters one objection raised will be that under Federal management the railways will cost a great deal more than, at present. It is true that Federation has in some instances not reached the ideal which was pictured ; but that happens in every walk of life when great changes are made. At any rate, it ‘is rather premature for us to cry “ stinking fish “ - too early for us to say that the Commonwealth Parliament cannot do what is done by the States Parliaments - and, in my opinion, we could carry out this work much better than do the States Parliaments. The Commonwealth Parliament, like the States Parlia ments, has made mistakes; but that is because we are all human.
– The States Parliaments have got possession, and that is nine points of the law.
– I do not regard members of the States Parliaments in the same light that the Minister of Defence apparently does. In my opinion there are amongst the members of the States Parliaments many who, if they believed that the federalizing of the railways would benefit the people as a whole, would consent to that step being taken to-morrow. The inference from- the interjection of the Minister of Defence is that the States Parliaments, who are in possession, would object to transfer the railways.
– The States Parliaments have possession and responsibilities.
– That is so; but I believe that the bulk of the members of the States Parliaments, if a good case were made out, showing that the people would benefit, would consent to the transfer of the railways to the Commonwealth.
– I agree with Senator Styles that this is a most important proposal. Before Federation was established, there were1 many who considered that the transfer of the railways to the central authority would be of advantage to the Commonwealth as a whole; and if Senator Styles had proved that to be the case, I am sure that we should have approved of the motion. But would the federalizing of the railways be to the benefit of the people? When Australia was divided into Colonies by the British Executive, it was done with the idea that a continent so large as this could be better developed by separate authorities than by one Government.
– That was before there were any railways.
– Ouite so; I am now speaking only of the principle on which the British Government .acted. I think that the division into Colonies was a very wise proceeding, recognising, as it did, the fact that each part of Australia has varying conditions, climatic and otherwise, which could be best taken advantage of bv people within a limited area. When we consider what the federalizing of the railways would mean, directly and indirectly, to the States who own them, we can see the wisdom of leaving these matters to the local powers. I shall speak of New) South Wales only, because I am best acquainted with that State, though my remarks, I have no doubt, will be applicable to each and all of the States. We recognise that railways are necessary to the proper development of the States, and that the local conditions vary. Tasmania, for instance, produces minerals and fruit
– Tasmania is not connected by rail with the rest of the Commonwealth.
– The proposal is that the railways shall be taken over by the Commonwealth, and I am assuming that the State Parliament of Tasmania knows better what is to the advantage of the population of that State than does the Federal Parliament. At any rate, in New South Wales I am sure that that is the position. In New South Wales the interests of the mineral, pastoral, agricultural, and manufacturing industries have .all to be considered.
– Supposing there were external trouble, who would control the highways and railways?
– In case of war, I believe the Constitution gives the Commonwealth power to assume control of the railways.
– Is not that an admission that the Commonwealth should own the railways?
– It is only an admission that in certain circumstances, for purposes of defence, the use of the railways would be an advantage to the Commonwealth. The development of the territory of a State depends almost entirely on its railway system. If a new railway is advocated in any part of the State, it will be admitted that the State representatives of the district, who are acquainted with the nature of the country, and its mineral and agricultural resources, will be better able to decide whether or not such a railway should be constructed than would the Federal Parliament. The States representatives for the district would naturally also have a far better knowledge of its requirements than would members of this Parliament. That will apply in the case of all the States. I do not think, for instance, that representatives of Western Australia would consider it wise to hand over to the Federal Parliament, composed of representatives of the various States, the administration of the Western Australian railways, and the development of that State - because that is what it would amount to. If a railway were required in any particular district of the State, and a reduction of railway freights were suggested on any particular line for the advantage of local producers, I do not believe that representatives of Western Australia would be prepared to refer such questions to a central administration under the control of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Is not Western Australia now appealing to us in connexion with the trans-Australian railway?
– Western Australia is now asking for a railway which will connect that State with the other States of the Commonwealth, but she is doing that for a special purpose, and chiefly for the purpose of defence. I point out that under the Constitution, the Federal Executive has the power to use the railways of any of the States for that purpose without the passing of any motion of this kind. Western Australia has asked for a survey of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, but I venture to say that the representatives of that State will not assert that the people of Western Australia would agree to the Commonwealth taking over the railways of that State as a whole.
– ‘After the treatment they have received in connexion with the proposed survey, they would have grave doubts on the subject.
– Does Senator Pearce mean to say that if this Parliament had agreed to the proposed survey, Western Australia would have been prepared to hand over the control of all her railways to the Federal Executive?
– If the survey had been agreed to, the Western Australian people would have had a little more confidence in the Federal Parliament than they have now.
– I am of opinion that, owing to the different conditions prevailing in the States, they require different systems of railway administration. I am, for instance, in favour of what is known as the Zone system as applied to New South Wales, but I do not believe it could be applied with advantage in Victoria or in Tasmania. Do honorable senators believe that New South Wales would be prepared to hand over to two or three Commissioners under the control of the Federal Executive the principal means of the development of her territory, and to place in their hands the development of the resources on which her prosperity must depend. We might as well propose to hand over everything necessary for the advancement of our people.
– I have explained that what I propose could be don.e without depriving New South Wales of control.
– The honorable senator assumed a condition of affairs which I do not believe the New South Wales people would for a moment agree to accept. I say frankly that the past administration of the Commonwealth has not been such as to encourage the people of New South Wales to intrust the Commonwealth Parliament with such a large control of the means of developing the resources of the State.
– What the honorable senator means “ is that the people of New South Wales have no confidence in either the present or the past Federal Ministers.
– I say that the people of New South Wales have, so far, seen no reason why they should give these extraordinary powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. Federation has not resulted as many of us thought it would, and 1 think every one will admit that, in the matter of administration, the government of the Commonwealth has been weak. Consider the reasons which actuated the Imperial Government in dividing this continent into Colonies? Have those reasons been effective, and has development of this continent taken place to such an extent that we are now in a position to go back to the original state of affairs when Australia was a continent under one Government? This proposal would practically have the lame effect as a proposal to bring all the railways in Europe, or all the railways in England, under one central control. I mav say that it is quite possible that in the’ future the system of railway administration in vogue in America and in England mav be admitted to be of advantage here. There are many people who consider that freetrade in railways has done more than anything else to develop the United States. Granted that _ most of the early shareholders in United States railways have been ruined, and that the interest paid on those railways has not been satisfactory, no one who understands their working will deny that they have been, to a large extent, the means of the great development of that country.
– They have absolutely ruined the resident farmer.
Senator - GRAY. - They have absolutely ruined many of the shareholders interested in them, but they have been the means of settling vast numbers of people on the land, and enabling them to forward their produce to market and to dispose of it at a profit.
– Is there in any district in America farmers such as we have in Australia, farming their own lands, and with the right to the produce of their labour ?
– I might say that there are millions of such farmers.
Senator -Dawson. - They have Bonanza farms, worked for the benefit of the railway companies.
– We know that whole villages of Germans and Scandinavians have been transferred from their own countries, and settled in homes of their own in America. Before they reached the United States the land on which they were to be settled had been bought, they were planted on it, and divided it amongst themselves, and the lands are now in their possession.
– That was done also in Australia.
– It was done, in the days gone by, to a very limited extent. I am endeavouring to show that, instead of centralizing the whole of our railway systems under the control of one administration, there are many railway experts who believe that the Australian railways will never be properly utilized for the development of the country until we have free-trade in railways here, as there is in America and England. It must not be supposed that private railway companies in these countries’ have the power to do as they please. They are restricted by regulations and conditions affecting freights and running rights. The railways working to a centre from one direction are not permitted to injure those working to the same centre from other directions. They must obey regulations and conditions which prevent any action being taken by one company that would be inimical to the interests of another, or of the districts through which the railways of other companies run. I venture to say that no English railway expert would for a moment entertain the idea as a practical business proposal of working the whole of the railways of the Commonwealth from one centre. He would not agree that they could be so worked as advantageously as they are now worked by the States Governments, who recognise that the development of their States depends very largely on their railway administration. I believe that it will be a very long time before the people of New ‘South Wales can be convinced that the administration of the railways of Australia by one central Federal authority would be of advantage to the people of the Commonwealth, as a whole. Senator Styles referred to the unification of gauge. I presume that we are all agreed that it would be advantageous if the railways in this country were built on a uniform gauge, but Senator Styles has failed to convince me that the States Governments could not, if they pleased, adopt a uniform gauge at the present time just as easily as it could be adopted under Federal control.
– They could, but they will not do so.
– That is a proof that the unification of gauge would cost so much that the States Governments do not consider it practicable to undertake the necessary expenditure at the present . time. I cannot understand how my honorable friends opposite could possibly, entertain such an idea, because they have declared to all Australia that they do not intend on any consideration to raise further loans. How is this country to be developed by .railway construction if no more loans are to be raised?
– The honorable senator is entirely mistaken about that matter.
– I am very glad to heat that I am. But I certainly understood that the Labour caucus had given out that statement.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that we are not in favour of borrowing money except for reproductive works.
– I am very pleased to hear that announcement. I think we can all pretty well agree to that policy, with certain limitations. I do not believe that the people of the States would consent for a moment to part with their railways. Take, for instance, the value which is attached to them. It is well known that “New South Wales could have sold her railways in the London market for an amount which would have covered her public debt. If the other States were in a. similar position the amount which would be required for the purchase of the State-owned railways would be an extraordinarily large one, and might for years to come prevent any interest being paid on the capital cost.
– Does not the honorable senator see that itf is a case of the people selling to the people, and not a case of buying the railways from a private company ?
– I quite see- that, but I cannot forecast what may happen under such conditions. If the railways were valued under a scheme which people at home might consider for the time being a big watering scheme, their value as assets might be greatly diminished. In conclusion, I _ have to thank Senator Styles for submitting the motion, because it deals with a most important question, which no doubt in the future will have to be considered bv the public.
– I had not the good fortune to be in the -chamber when Senator Styles commenced his speech, but I am certain that I could not have agreed with any of the arguments he used, because I am totally opposed to his motion, and so are the people of the Commonwealth. If they were polled to-morrow, there would be an overwhelming vote against the Commonwealth taking over the railways. The States own the lands and the railways, and ‘are not likely to give them up to the Commonwealth. The prosperity of the country depends upon production, which can be best assisted by the construction and good management of railways. There are still millions and millions of acres of land belonging to the States. The statement made by Mr. Outhwaite in England is absolutely untrue. In Queensland and in some of the other States there are untold millions of acres belonging to the Crown.
– Where does the honorable senator find these untold millions of acres of unalienated land in Queensland?
– Everywhere - east, west, north, and south.
– Will the honorable senator particularize ? I know Queensland well.
– Let the honorable senator look at a map. The alienated lands comprise the principal parts of the Darling Downs, some parts along the coast, and a few other dots. North of Rockhampton there are untold millions of acres of Crown lands, which are under sheep, cattle, and horses. The honorable senator knows that these lands are unsold.
– I know that the honorable senator is wrong. From Cairns up towards the Gulf the land is all alienated-
There are. large stations, and I believe the honorable senator is the principal shareholder in one station.
– I do not wish to argue with the honorable senator. I assert that not 15 per cent. of the lands of Queensland have been alienated.
– Nothing like that percentage.
– I stretched a point in order to be on the right side.
– It takes Cobb and Company’s coach two days to gothrough a station which the honorable senator has up there.
– I do not wish to weary the Senate. The land is developed by the use of the railways, and possibly its development will be assisted in the future by the utilization of the rivers, for there is ample water to serve our purposes. Assuming that the State-owned railways were taken over by the Commonwealth and paid for, probably they would be managed from a central department in Melbourne. It would be necessary to cross the sea to manage the Tasmanian railways. How could a huge central Department manage the several railways in Queensland which connect with the Government lines, the railways running north from Rockhampton for 400 or 600 miles, or the railways running north from Townsville for many miles?
– How does South Australia manage the railway from Port Darwin to Pine Ceek? From Adelaide.
– In South Australia the authorities manage probably as well as they can. But would their railways be managed any better if they were controlled from Melbourne by the Federal Government?
– They might be managed as well.
– In my opinion the management would be infinitely worse. I have owned private railways in New South Wales, and I venture to say that they were worked at half the cost of the State-owned railways.
– In what portion of Queensland is there a private railway run- ning north from Rockhampton for 400 miles?
– I referred to the State-owned railways ; but there are many private railways in that State.
– How many?
– Six or seven.
– There are about two.
– I know of four private railways in Queensland. There is an extension from Beaudesert, which the honorable senator does not know about.
– That is only a tram line.
– It is operated by a locomotive using steam.
– How does the honorable senator make up the seven private railways ?
– If the honorable senator refers to the map he will find that I am correct.
– There are only three private railways. Let the honorable senator answer my question.
– There are at least seven private railways in Queensland, and I named the one which was built only the other day.
– That is only one.
– There are several private lines in connexion with the sugar industry. I know of four or five lines.
– Over Crown land ?
– In saying that private lines are worked more economically than State railways, I do not reflect upon the State management. It is acknowledged throughout the world that any huge political Department cannot manage railways so well as private persons can. Private management will always be better than State management. In New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and, I think, South Australia, after a long experience of political management, the Parliaments were obliged, in order to secure economical and good management, to place the railways under semi-private management, namely, Commissioners. It is acknowledged by all men who are abreast with the times that the management of the lines by Commissioners is far and away better than was the political management. If the railways be not well managed it will take a lot of money to run them. In the first place, they are expected to cover the interest on the outlay and the working expenses. If the outlay is great, and the management is expensive, the producers cannot have cheap freights. The growers of wool, wheat, meat, and all other products, which are carried over the railways, have to pay freight, according to the cost of construction, as well as the cost of management.
If we are to compete with Canada, the United Stares, and other parts of the world, where railways are managed much better than here, that is a handicap against our producers. Our railways should be managed economically and well, so that the producers may in no way be handicapped.
– Are they better managed than the American railways?
– Everybody knows that the American railways are built at an extremely low cost. I can name a station in Victoria - the one at Maryborough - which has cost as much money as, perhaps, all the stations within a length of 500 miles in the United States or Canada. In those countries, for great distances, there are no stations. Passengers have to jump from the train to the ground.
– That is the reason they have not so much interest to pay.
– They have a better system than ours.
– The honorable senator is referring to the building of lines, not the working of them.
– We have worked on the wrong principle in building our Australian railways. They should have been built on Canadian and United States lines. The English system is a very good one for England, and I have no doubt enables trains to run at a higher speed than the American system permits, but the bogie system, and other improvements adopted in America, would have suited our purpose better, lt would be impossible to develop this great country, with its enormous resources, if the whole of the railways were controlled by one authority. It often pays a State to build a line which is not expected to pay interest for years to come. The Commonwealth would not consider such facts. Senator Styles says that extensions could be made by the Commonwealth at the request of the States. But that would be a roundabout, rigmarole way of proceeding. How should we be able to deal with railway extension in the far west of Western Australia, or the far north of Queensland? No one Minister could master the whole of the details. Even in connexion with such public works as the Commonwealth now undertakes, we had the Minister of Defence admitting last evening that he knew nothing about some of the proposals. Of course, he could not be expected to know, and we do not blame him. The greater the area the greater the difficulty, and the less likely is a Minister to know the details. A further objection to Senator Styles’ proposal is that the States are not inclined to extend greater powers to the Commonwealth. I vouch for that fact. There is a feeling of apprehension on the part of the people of all the States, so far as I know; I cannot speak for Western Australia.
– What the honorable senator calls the “ people “ is merely a noisy minority.
– With reference to the question of gauges, the fault of the present system lies at the door of New South Wales. I admit that it would be a good thing to have a uniform gauge throughout Australia. But it would never pay. It would be cheaper to build the transcontinental line than to institute a uniform gauge. And there is no absolute necessity for it.
– The transcontinental line that the honorable senator refers to is that from Port Darwin.
– Well, if there is to be a transcontinental line at all, that from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin is infinitelypreferable to that from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. But I hope that neither will be built for many a day. We ‘cannot afford to saddle ourselves with millions of debt, from which we shall get no return. The difficulty with respect to gauges is often exaggerated. It has to be remembered that there is not much heavy traffic going across the border. The bulk of the heavy trade goes by boat between States, and wherever there is water communication inland, as there is upon some of the rivers, it will always successfully compete with railway traffic. Wool is being sent all the way from the north of New South Wales to Port Victor, at a great deal less than the cost of sending it by rail to be shipped at Port Melbourne or Williamstown. Wool from the Edward River can be taken by water to Port Victor, 1,200 miles for j£i or 25s. a ton. I could get it done for less, if I tried to cut things close; and the man who carries it makes a little fortune. One man who engaged in the trade. Captain Wilson, died worth thousands, though he started as a poor sailor boy on a Murray River boat. The States would not gain a penny from uniformity of gauge, and I am quite sure that they would not dream of consenting to such a proposition as that of Senator Styles.
– In the first place, I think that the motion as worded is a very bald one. It is plain and unadorned. It lays down no conditions. In its present form, I could not support it. There is, however, one condition under which one could support the taking over of the railways of the States; and that is in connexion with the taking over of the debts of the States. It appears to me that it would be a business-like idea in taking over States debts to take over the assets which represent them. The greater part of the money owed bv Australia to foreign money-lenders has been borrowed to build railways. But a proposal to take over the railways of the States, irrespective of other considerations, is one to which I could be no party. I will give my reasons. Australia is a vast country, and the means of communication between State and State are at present so limited that I agree with Senator Fraser that it would be impossible for the Commonwealth Government to cater adequately for the wants of the people in respect of railway communication.
– We cater for them in respeot of posts, telegraphs, and telephones.
– There is a sense in which posts and telegraphs are different from the railways. Post and telegraph business is linked together all over the continent. But there is railway communication between only some States. It also has to be borne in mind that the railways are not only, nor are they chiefly, for the purpose of providing communication between States. Thm are chiefly for the purpose of opening up country, and providing facilities for commerce in every part of every State. Postal administration differs from that of railways in being in a very much larger sense, naturally a Federal service. The Post and Telegraph Department is not affected bv the artificial geographical boundaries, which, in consequence of the limitations imposed by the Constitution, have an effect on commerce and transport services. So many of the powers affecting business, production, and transport are retained to the States Parliaments, that to hand over the railways to the Commonwealth without, at the same time, extending the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with matters which have been specifically left to the States, would be like handing* over a shell, and keeping the kernel. Practically the power of the States is sovereign in connexion with land settlement, mining, and almost every other element of production. It would be an anomaly if the control of transport, which is one of the chief factors in production, were handed over to the central Government, while all the other powers affecting production remained with the States Governments. I am sure that the federalizing of the railways under such conditions would lead 10 considerable dissatisfaction. Westtern Australia, for instance, possesses a railway system having its own centres, and separate organization, the object of which is to develop those portions of the State which present themselves as capable of development. The State Government have control of the lands, and open up areas which they consider suitable for settlement ; and to assist to that end railways are constructed in certain directions. Then, again, the State Government control mining, and with the object of developing the industry, railways are run through certain areas; they have also control of the Forestry Department, and cause railways to be diverted or constructed in certain districts in order to assist the forestry industry. That is what is done by a State which has control of these three great lines of production.
– And the policy pays a State.
– That is so; and by these means the best results are obtained What would happen if the control of these three great industries remained with the States, while the railways were handed over to the Commonwealth? If the State Government determined, on promoting settlement in a /particular district, it would rest, not with the State Parliament, but with the Parliament of the Commonwealth, to say whether a railway should be constructed to that end.
– Perhaps I did not make myself clear, but that is not what I said.
– Whatever Senator Styles may have said, that seems to me to be the logical outcome of handing over the control of the railways to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Senator Pearce apparently thinks that the Commonwealth Parliament could not properly control the railways.
– I am casting no reflection on the Commonwealth Parliament, but simply recognising our limitations. It seems to me that the Parliament or Government which has the power to open up lands, and make certain conditions to induce settlement, ought to be best fitted to deal with the railway policy as affecting the development of a State. The same remark applies to the mining and the for- estry industries. Let us look at the difficulty from another point of view. It has been determined, and, so far, the arrangement has not been disturbed that the expenditure of the Commonwealth shall be distributed on a -per capita basis. Each of the States is at a different stage of development in regard to railway construction, and those States which are most backward, are naturally anxious, in the interests of land settlement, mining, and forestry, to carry out ai railway policy. If the control of the railways were handed over to the Commonwealth Parliament, the very fact that some of the States are in a backward state of railway development would have a tendency to hamper them, because the expenditure in those States would, as we saw in connexion with a Bill recently before us, be so disproportionate that honorable senators would feel impelled to oppose railway construction proposals, not on the ground that they were not legitimately needed to open up a particular district, but on the ground that more was being asked for in the case of one State than in the case of other States.
-. - The honorable senator has misunderstood me.
– That was noli the objection raised to the measure before us yesterday.
– I am making no complaint, but merely pointing out to honorable members the fact that disproportionate expenditure of the kind would cast into the scale a weight which might, perhaps, have the effect of determining whether or not a railway should be constructed. Instead, therefore, of the conclusion as to the construction of a railway being based on whether the line was necessary or not, the question would be determined largely by the fact that ai certain State’s quota of per capita expenditure exceeded that of other States.
– My proposal is that the States shall control the construction of lines, but that the work shall be carried out by the Commonwealth.
– That may be Senator Styles’ intention, but I fancy that if the States are asked to hand over the railways to the Commonwealth, they will take it that they are handing over the control of railway development for all time. I do not think the Commonwealth Parliament would consent to take the railways over on any other condition.
– I explained that also; there is a misunderstanding.
– If such conditions had been laid down in the case of the Post and Telegraph Department, Federation would not have been achieved. In my opinion the transfer of the railways at the present time would be a bar to development. The States Parliaments are best fitted to control the railways, simply because of the fact that they have control of the elements of production. The suggested alteration of gauges is of very serious import from a financial point of view, involving, as it does, an expenditure which is enough to stagger anybody. We must remember that an alteration of the gauge would not mean the carriage of a single additional ton of produce, or one more passenger.
– But a quantity of rollingstock could be dispensed with.
– To make the alteration of gauges a condition of federalizing the railways is adding to the proposition a weight which could not be carried’. Engineers have dealt with this subject very gingerly, and there has not been the slightest disposition on the part of the States Governments to tackle the question in a practical manner. Many long years would be consumed in discussion before an arrangement was arrived at as to what should be the standard gauge, and who should pay the expense of the alterations. The Australian railways, as at present managed, compare more than favorably with railways in any other part of the world. It is necessary to say that, because some statements made by Senator Gray and Senator Fraser might be held to infer that there is something in the administration of our railways of which’ we need be ashamed.
– I neither said that nor wished it to be inferred.
- Senator Gray held up as an ideal what he called free-trade in railways, such as exists in America; but I should say that the American railways afford a very sorry ideal for Australia.
– I said that while the administration in America* is not all that could be desired, the results t are satisfactory financially, and that the railways proved of great advantage to the country.
– The history of the railways of America may be pleasant reading to the Vanderbilts and the Jay Goulds, but it is very unpleasant to the people who have been exploited and driven from their homes in the eastern States, and lately in the western States, by preferential rates, rebates, and other methods, which are familiar to all who have investigated this matter. With all their financial success, and the wonderful genius at the head of the concerns - and even with the additional advantages of a population of 80,000,000 people to cater for, as compared with 4,000,000 in Australia - the. American railways do not compare favorably in their financial returns with the Australian railways.
– Sixty-six per cent, of the railways in America pay no dividends at all.
– The American railway rates are very much less than the rates charged in Australia.
– A railway may be selected here and there and shown to pay a high percentage of profit, but, taking the American and Canadian railways as a whole, and the Australian railways as a whole, the latter are the best paying.
– Railway freights are very much lower in America than here.
– That statement is .not correct when generally applied to the American railways, because the average charge on the Australian lines is lower, as shown by Mr. Coghlan’s figures. Senator Gray has said that freights in America are fixed by elective boards.
– What I said was that there is an Inter-State Commission appointed to regulate freights and prevent one railway company giving preference as against another company carrying on business in the same district.
– As a matter of actual practice, the Inter-State Commission in America has no effect in regard to the general charges on railways; it only acts where railways charges are used for the purpose of forming an Inter-State Tariff.
– That is what I meant.
– Happily we need not contemplate those dangers in Australia, where the railways are the property of the people, and, I think, will remain so. There is no need to regard the Commonwealth and the States as opposing factors in the question, because the people, whether as a State or as a Commonwealth, already own the railways. It is not a question of change of ownership at all. If they are trans ferred to the Commonwealth, the same people will own them.
– I pointed that out over and over again.
– It is a question of change of control. There is another matter to be borne in mind, and that is that the railway systems of some of the States of the Commonwealth ate paying a profit, whilst others are worked at a loss. The railway system of Victoria, for the first time for many years, paid a profit last year, and this year also they have paid. The railway system of New South Wales pays about interest and working expenditure.
– No; there was a loss of £”300,000 on the New South Wales railways last year.
– In the previous year, I think, they paid about interest and working expenses.
– No; there was a greater loss that year.
– The Queensland and Tasmanian railways show a loss, and also the South Australian railways.
– No; there was a profit on the working of the South Australian railways.
– The South Australian railways are in this position, that, while they may show a slight gain, they are dependent entirely on Broken Hill for it, and a strike of a few weeks on Broken Hill would turn their surplus into a loss.
– There can be no strikes in New South Wales now.
– If there can be no strikes, let us say that a depreciation in the price of lead would turn the surplus on the working of the South Australian railways into a loss. Western Australia shows a solid gain over interest and working expenses in the management of her railways.
– A surplus of £112,000.
– A strike at Coolgardie mighT convert that into a loss.
– There can be no Strikes in Coolgardie, and the price of gold does not fluctuate as does the price of lead. The point I wish to make is that some of our railway systems are paying, whilst others are not paying. We might say tothe people oT Western Australia, for instance, who have built a number of their railways out of revenue - “You are buildingrailways out of revenue earned bv your existing railway system, and we wish you to- throw your railways into the pool;” but we should have to add - “ We want you also to help to bear the loss on the Tasmanian railway system, and to remember that when you ask for a further development of your railway system, Tasmania being asked to share in the necessary expenditure, its representatives in Parliament and its people will probably be found fighting against you.”
– The Tasmanian railways will pay in a very few years ; they are increasing their revenue every year.
– I hope the honorable senator is a true prophet. I have stated the position, and I have referred to Western Australia only for the purpose of illustration. At the present time the people of that State are extending their railways, and are rapidly developing the resources of the State by that means. Their railways are returning a profit, and the proposed change would mean to them a handing over of the development of the State to people some of whom would be interested in keeping down expenditure on new railways, and would probably endeavour to block every attempt at further development. Knowing that their own State railways were not paying, they would object to be called upon to share in railway expenditure in other States. For these reasons, I feel that at the present juncture I cannot vote for such a motion. As I have said before, there is one contingency in which I could vote for it, and that is if it were proposed in connexion with the transfer of States debts, and the railways were taken over as assets to provide security to the Commonwealth for the States debts.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dawson) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th September, vide page 2190):
Clauses 18 and 19 agreed to.
Clause 20 -
WhereI book is written in distinct parts by separate authors, and the name of each author is attached to the portion written by him, each author shall be entitled to copyright in the portion I written by him, in the same manner as if it were a separate book.
– Underthe previous clause we have provided that where there are joint authors of a book the copyright shall be the property of those authors ; but under this clause it is proposed to provide that where a book is written in distinct parts by separate authors, each author shall be entitled to copyright in the portion written by him, as if it were a separate book. I should like the Minister in charge of the Bill to say what precedent there is for this clause, which proposes a very awkward form of copyright. In view of the amendment carried by Senator Givens on my amendment, fixing the period of copyright, honorable senators will see that this clause would give a different period of copyright for two parts of the same book. This is one of the disadvantages of not having a fixed period of copyright without any reference to a man’s life, or to his life, plus seven years. Under this clause, we might have two or more copyrights in the same book expiring at different times. That would be very inconvenient, and it would destroy the value of the copyright. Perhaps Senator Keating can show that there is some precedent for this provision. I intended to call attention to the difficulty arising also under clause 19, but that is not so obvious, nor is it very material. Clause 20, however, might cause a very great deal of trouble.
– As the memorandum which has been circulated shows, this clause is taken from clause 9 of the British Copyright Bill. It is quite possible to have a book prepared in several parts, with distinct authors in respect of each part. There is something similar in the case of an encyclopaedia. There might be a work dealing with several branches of a particular subject, and one author might devote himself to the consideration of one of these branches, and another author to another. In such a case, copyright, in the portions of the work which would be separable, and might be published separately, could be vested in the persons particularly responsible for them, where the book clearly indicated that. Subsequently, it is proposed to make provision in the case of encyclopaedias, periodicals, and magazines for copyright to the authors of particular articles, and contributions of a literary character appearing in those publications. The criticism applied to this clause could be applied equally well to the proposal to give copyright in respect of articles contributed to magazines or periodicals.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - When the honorable and learned senator says that the same criticism might be applied to the proposal to give copyright in respect of articles published in an encyclopaedia, he overlooks the fact that, in the case of an encyclopaedia, the proposal is to give the copyright to the proprietor or projector of the work, and not to the authors of articles contained in it.
– There might be a reservation, as in the clause dealing with periodicals.
– We are not dealing with periodicals, and I repeat that in the case of an encyclopaedia, the proposal is to give copyright to the proprietor.
– That is in the absence of any special agreement.
– In that case, there is no copyright proposed in respect of individual articles, and for a very excellent reason. Clause 22 deals with the case of articles appearing in periodicals, which are on quite a different footing as compared with portions of the same book which are the work of different authors. The provision is safeguarded, as regards the publishers of a periodical, by a reservation to him, literally, of a two years’ ownership of the right to publish an article. So that the difficulty does not arise there. This clause 20 is taken from a provision appearing in a draft Bill which, although it was considered some four or five years ago by the House of Lords,’ was never dealt with by the House of Commons, and has had no legislative force given to it. This is, therefore, a purely experimental provision, and we should be very careful before we adopt a provision of this kind, under which we might have two or more different durations of copyright in respect of the same book. These new departures should be carefully scrutinized. Honorable senators must see that clause 20 will involve very great inconvenience, not merely to authors but to publishers, and also to those who may be charged with infringing the copyright in any portion of a book.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 -
The author of any article, contributed for valuable consideration to and first published in a periodical, shall be entitled to copyright in the article as a separate work, but so that -
The proprietor of a periodical in which an article, which has been contributed for valuable consideration, is first published shall be entitled to copyright in the article, but so that -
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - Paragraph a of sub-clause 1 provides that copyright shall subsist for two years from the end of the year in which the article was first published. So that if, for valuable consideration, a person supplied an article to a periodical, the owner of that periodical would have an absolute copyright in the article for two years from the end of the year in which it was published. These articles are not inthe same category as books. Although they would cease to have any value to the periodical, almost at the expiration of the year of publication, still they would have a value to the contributor if he could use them again in pamphlet or book form. What object can there be in giving copyright for such an extended term to the owner of the periodical, when in a short time it would practically cease to have any value? It will place a handicap on the contributor. I ask the Minister to consider whether the term could not be materially shortened with advantage without inflicting any hardship on the owner of the periodical.
– The provision which is made for the author by this clause is very much more liberal and considerate than the existing law. At the present time copyright may exist in an article ; but the author cannot republish it separately within twentyeight years from its publication.
– What law is the Minister referring to?
– According to the English law, which operates unless it has been modified by Statute in any particular State, until the expiration of twenty-eight years, the author has no right to separately publish such an article. During that period the owner of the periodical can republish the article ; but, of course, his rights are circumscribed to this extent - that he cannot republish the article separately within the period except with the consent of the author. There is a period of twenty-eight years during which the rights of both parties are, to some extent, suspended. After the lapse of twenty-eight years, the author has the right to publish in a separate form ; the article reverts to him entirely for the balance of the term of copyright, and the owner of the periodical can in no way interfere with or derogate from that right. If the author reserves to himself- the right to publish the article separately, as he may do by an agreement at the time it was produced, he can exercise his right without prejudice to any rights which the owner of the periodical may, by agreement, have reserved to himself. Honorable senators will understand that this clause, like many others in the Bill, can only apply in the absence of an express agreement to the contrary. In other words, it will be competent for either the author, or the owner of the periodical, to vary this provision by an .express agreement. For valuable consideration, a man may contribute an article to a periodical, and the owner of the periodical may acquire the copyright therein for a certain period. That period may be a lengthy one, say twentyeight years, as in the case I referred to. Within that time, the author may have obtained some fame by reason of his works. In many instances, publishers have been known to republish the earlier works of men who had subsequently acquired fame. That has prejudiced very considerably the good name of such writers, and they are very anxious that their earlier efforts shall not appear when they are enjoying, perhaps, a well-deserved reputation. In many instances they think their reputation is liable to be besmirched by the republication of articles written by them many years before. We propose to limit the term, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, to two years. Remembering that the provision is subject to any variation which may be determined upon by the author and the publisher, honorable senators will see that it is a very lib-.-rr:! advance upon the present’ law, so far as authors are concerned.
– No doubt the Minister has given a very satisfactory explanation of the law as it is, and of the provision of the Bill which will enable an author and the proprietor of a magazine to come to an agreement, but he has not explained why the term should be two years rather than one year or twenty years. All he has said is that there is a law which compared to this measure is tyrannical. He has said nothing to justify the fixing of the period at two years. The mere fact that under the Bill it is competent for the author of an article to enter into an arrangement with its publisher does not affect the matter at all. Under the Bill, it will be quite competent for an author to sell either the right to publish the article once only, or the copyright in the article for the full term to which he is entitled. We should shape the Bill to meet the ordinary run of cases. If the period were reduced to one year, it would be much more likely to meet the ordinary requirements of those who write for the magazines than would a two-years’ period. It seems to me that, after the lapse of some time, writers invariably desire to collect most of their articles for the purpose of republishing them in book form. Assuming that the period were fixed at twelve months, and that they wished to give the owner of the magazine a longer term, they could do so under the provisions of the measure. I believe that a period of one year would be much more workable, and would meet the convenience and requirements of writers and publishers much better than a period of two years.
– I go further than Senator Millen. I think that paragraphs a and b of the first sub-clause should be. omitted. There has been no explanation given by the Minister as to why paragraph a should have been inserted. What the clause is dealing with is copyright in articles published in periodicals. If, for valuable consideration, a man writes an article for a periodical, he is given a COPYright. If that is so, why should we annex to that a disability preventing him from publishing next month his article in pamphlet form? I cannot understand why that limitation should ,be imposed, particularly as there is another copyright givento the publisher, who, however, is not entitled to publish the article in ‘ pamphlet form at all. This is the most misguided, topsy-turvy clause I ever saw. There are two copyrights given, one to the author of an article, with a disability attached, and’ the other to the publisher of the article, with a- disability attached. I am not at all sure that there should be a copyright given to the paid author of an article in a periodical.
– Why not?
– When an author is paid for an article, it ceases to be his property.
– He will only get paid in proportion to the length of copyright he gives to the owner of the periodical ; he can sell the whole of his copyright if he chooses.
– It would be much simpler to say that the price given for an article shall include all rights than to give the author a copyright with a disability, and the publisher a copyright which would be practically of no use to him. There may be an exception, but, as a rule, there is no second edition of a periodical. The effect of the provision is ito bury the article for two years. Subclause 2 is, I think, unnecessary, but still it might enable the author or the owner of the periodical to stop any person from reproducing the article. In the first place, I move -
That the words “but so that,” line 4, be left out.
If that amendment be agreed to, then paragraphs a and b of the first sub-clause can be omitted.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).The remarks of Senator .Symon have suggested to me a prior amendment, which, perhaps, he will afford me an opportunity to move. Sub-clause 2 deals with only the author of an article contributed for valuable consideration. Why should it not also apply to an author, who may present his article to the proprietor of a magazine, and receive no payment? Surely the latter is entitled to as much consideration as the former ! If any one is entitled to a preference it is the man who has not received any payment for his work. At any rate, he should be placed on absolutely the same footing as the other. It is well known that many prominent public men contribute to periodicals articles for which thev are not paid, and do not expect to receive payment. They are entitled to have their rights safeguarded. I see no reason why we should discriminate between an author who is paid for his article and one who is not. Therefore, I suggest the omission of the words “for valuable consideration.”
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I agree with my honorable friend Senator Millen. I do not see why a man should be penalized because he does not ask for payment for an article published in a periodical. I dare say that many of us have contributed articles for which we have not been paid, and the least reward we can have is to feel that we are possessed of property in our productions. The statement of Senator Keating answers the argument of Senator Dobson. That is to say, if we give absolute copyright it is competent for the parties to bargain as they choose. What we are concerned to do is to give absolute copyright in the pro. duct of a man’s brain which appears in the form of an article in a periodical, and to give that without qualification. I shall withdraw my amendment to enable Senator Millen to move his.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the words “ for valuable consideration,” lines 1 and 2, be left out.
– I am inclined to think that the clause ought to stand, with a slight modification as to the term. Senator Keating has pointed out that the object of these clauses is to regulate the rights of parties where there is no agreement to the contrary. Take an article which has been contributed for valuable consideration. When a man has paid for an article which is to be published in his magazine, it would hardly do for the author, a few weeks after it had appeared, to republish it iri pamphlet form. The best plan is to lay down certain lines with regard to cases which are happening every day. I think that if a magazine proprietor has paid for an’ article he should have the exclusive right to it for a few months. I suggest that it would be better to retain the clause, substituting six months for two years. I agree with Senator Millen that two years is too long. If a man contributes articles to various magazines in England and America, he may desire to republish them as a volume of essays, and it would be rather unfair to make him wait two years. Six months would be a fair period, and would give proper protection to the publisher.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - Whatever term honorable senators may insert in the clause, I would ask them not to consider this amendment as being in the same field. This matter of valuable consideration is the crux of the whole clause. In the first instance, an author is a person who is, prima facie, entitled to copyright in his work. As far back as 1824, in a case that came before the Courts in England, this question of valuable consideration was considered in connexion with a copyright case. In the case of Barfield v. Nicholson, Sir John Leach said, in effect -
The person who forms the plan, and who embarks in the speculation of a work, and who employs various persons to compose different parts of it, if not legally, is equitably the author of that particular work, so. far as copyright is concerned.
– Clearly that referred to encyclopaedias.
– Yes ; and where a person designs and prepares a certain scheme of publication and other people are commissioned for valuable consideration to assist him with the product of their thought and research, it is obvious that the man who has commissioned the work is to some extent entitled to the material benefits of copyright in it. That is the principle upon which the law stands, and upon which this clause has been framed. The position at present is that an author in that case could not publish separately for a period of twenty-eight years. I ami reminded by a remark from Senator Symon that the author’s remedy during the twenty-eight years is only against the proprietor of the periodical. So that if another person published the article separately during those twenty-eight years, the author would have no right of redress against that individual. The existing law is based upon this consideration - that where one commissions another to do work for money, and provides the particular means by which the work of the person who is so paid shall be submitted to the public, that proprietor of the publication is entitled to some of the material benefits of the copyright. Hitherto the period has been twenty-eight years. Now we propose to limit the proprietor’s right of republishing to two years, and to say that he cannot republish in a separate form, but only in his magazine and in the form in which the article originally appeared. We are limiting the publisher’s right to two years.
– But why differentiate between a man who is paid and one who is not?
– We are not differentiating. We are making provision for the benefits of copyright to be distributed between the person who commissions an author to write an article and the person who writes it. The question of protecting a man who contributes an article gratis is a separate one, and I suggest that it should be provided for in a separate clause, to the effect that where an article is contributed gratuitously the author shall have an absolute copyright in it. But I do’ think that in these cases of mixed rights, as I may call them, we ought to be careful to make proper provision for distributing the benefits between the owner of the periodical and the person who contributes an article for valuable consideration.
– Is not two years too long ?
– That is a matter for the Committee. I do not object to securing the rights of the author of a gratuitous article. The period of two years has been adopted because it was chosen by the English Commission which investigated the whole subject, and made recommendations after a considerable amount of research and examining a number of expert witnesses.
– Suppose an author wrote an article and made an agreement with the publisher that he should have the right to republish; how would this clause affect him?
– The clause would not make such a contract invalid. It would be desirable to have it in writing, but I do not think that would be absolutely necessary. An express contract could vary the effect of this clause.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I think the course suggested by the Minister is the better one, and I suggest to Senator Millen that he should withdraw his amendment and submit a separate clause to safeguard the writer of an article who does not receive valuable consideration. The Minister might accept the suggestion of Senator Dobson to cut down the term to six months. I cannot accept Senator Symon’s suggestion to strike out the sub-clause altogether, because that would open the door to the practice that an author could submit an article to the proprietor of a periodical, and while that periodical was still on sale could republish his article in another form.
– The proprietor would take care to make the author agree not to do so.
– Proprietors of magazines might then be induced to make far more stringent agreements. In fact, they might make (their agreements with authors so drastic as to accomplish more than this clause is intended to secure. I therefore suggest that Senator Millen should withdraw his amendment.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - The suggestion of the Minister in charge of the Bill is practically an admission of the strength of my contention that an author who contributes something without valuable consideration is entitled to the protection of the Bill.
– I think an author is entitled by law, in any case, to protection.
– But the Minister admits there is a doubt, and it should be the object of the Committee to eliminate any element of uncertainty. I propose to ask leave to withdraw the amendment, with a view to asking the Committee to accept a new clause io. which I practically adopt the language of the first portion of clause 22, with the substitution of “without valuable consideration” for “for valuable consideration.”
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I move -
That the word- “ two,” line 7, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ one.”
– Why not make the period six months?
– That was the period I first suggested; but, after hearing from the Minister in charge of the Bill the conclusion arrived at by the worthy men who constituted the Royal Commission in England, and who recommended that the term should be two years, I think one vear to be a fair proposal.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator Dobson seems to think that opinions, like wine, improve with age. The recommendations of the British Royal Commission have Iain dormant for thirty years, and that fact shows that the proposals have not recommended themselves to the British Legislature, because, had a change been regarded as important, it would have been made long ago. I shall not press the amendment I suggested to eliminate this paragraph a of sub-clause 1. There may be a contract between the proprietor of a periodical and the author to publish the article in pamphlet form immediately after the periodical has appeared, and the striking out of the paragraph would have precisely the same effect. If it were not intended to preserve from republication the article for a certain time, that would also be the subject of an agreement between the proprietor and the author; so that it is really a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. I hold, however, that six months is quite long enough to keep an article from republication in the absence of an agreement.
– Why did the British Royal Commission recommend a period of two years?
– I suppose it was because some witness suggested two years, a>nd another -witness suggested five years, and the ,period of two years was hit upon without much consideration.
– The Royal Commission took evidence, which they no doubt considered.
– Of course, the Commission did consider the evidence, but their recommendations have remained dormant for thirty years, and I do not see how any weight or value can be attached to them, seeing that they have never been acted upon by the Legislature. The period of twenty-eight years was the law for a. very long time, and I dare say that the valuable consideration for the article was, in fact, the purchase of the copyright. We now, like the British Royal Commission, do not desire to prescribe that length of time, but suggest that the price of the article shall merely be the reward for the publication in the magazine. It is almost, if not absolutely, unheard of for a magazine to be re-published.
– There was the republication of Everybody’s Magazine, containing the article on “Frenzied Finance.”
– At any rate, a new edition of a magazine is a very rare event ; and if we prescribe six months during which an article shall remain buried, except by agreement between the author and the proprietor, we shall do well. We shall thus afford an opportunity to the reading public to get acquainted with the article, and also an opportunity to the author to arrange with the proprietor that when the six months’ period, or whatever is left of it, shall end, there shall be a re-publication in pamphlet form. The reading public have to be considered, and in the absence of an agreement an automatic period of six months is long enough.
– Were not all these views considered by the British Royal Commission ?
– According to Senator Dobson, the best thing; for us to do would be to embody all the recommendations of the Royal Commission in the Bill.
– The Bill is based not only on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, but on the Copyright Bill’ of 1889.
– No doubt the Bill is based on all the sources that are of value; but it comes before us now just as if it were an original draft from the hands of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman for our consideration ; and it is our duty to see that we carry out the objects we have in view in passing a copyright law.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).Senator Dobson seems to overlook one factor when he pins his faith to the recommendations of the British Royal Commission ; and that factor is the different conditions which prevailed then as compared with the conditions which prevail to-day. I assume that the object of giving the proprietor of a magazine a term of copyright in an article is to enable the magazine to reach its ordinary reader. I can conceive of no other reason, and I say that six months, with the improved facilities of steam-ship and rail-road communication, will be more effective to-day than was the period of two years when the British Royal Commission made their recommendations. Even in my own time I can remember, in the rural districts of England, magazines many months old going their round, whereas to-day a publication a month old is discarded.
– To-day magazines months old are read in libraries, farmhouses, and homes in the country.
– To the same extent as thirty years ago?
– To a greater extent, because there are ten times as many magazines.
– The honorable and learned senator must know that the tendency to-day is not to read a magazine three months old, but to purchase another which has just been published. In my opinion, a period of six months is ample.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I notice that, according to sub-clause 2, a proprietor is not entitled to publish an article except “ in the periodical in its original form.” How will this provision affect a periodical like the Nineteenth Century, the title of which has been slightly altered ?
– I do not think that such a periodical, will be affected by it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 22A. The author of any article contributed without valuable consideration to and first published in a periodical, shall be entitled to copyright in the article as a separate work.”
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- The objections which I am inclined to think might be raised to this clause are these. A well-known writer> offering an article to the publisher of a periodical, would probably ask valuable consideration for it, but a comparatively unknown writer might regard the acceptance of an article by a publisher as an honour done him, and to some extent as a valuable consideration. So far from adding this clause to the Bill, I should be inclined to say that any reference to valuable consideration to an author of an article should find a place in the previous clause. The publisher of a periodical, by giving publicity to the writings of. an unknown man, might bring him into notoriety, and yet he would have no copyright in the article even for a week. I do not think the new clause should be accepted.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - As I previously indicated, I see no objection to the insertion of such a clause as that proposed by Senator Millen. There is always some little trouble in connexion with copyright in articles contributed to periodicals and newspapers, for which valuable consideration is not given. Senator Dobson is inclined to think that in some instances the publication itself of an article by an obscure person might be valuable consideration. There might be instances in which the writer of an article would look upon its publication as valuable consideration, but there is nothing in this clause to prevent him allowing the person publishing his article to acquire full copyright in it. The uncertainty which exists in the minds of some people as to the present law on this subject leads to what is considered in some quarters as a large measure of abuse. The proprietors of newspapers and periodicals often invite contributions, offering a certain award or prize for the best, and they reserve to themselves the right to publish even those which are unsuccessful. In that way, they obtain the product of the brains of other people without any adequate consideration, beyond the hope of reward, if they are successful in obtaining the promised prize. I do not think the clause will do any harm, and it will insure to those who do work of a valuable character the right to copyright in it unless they choose to part with that right. If there is to be any inclination to either side, it is desirable, I think, that we should incline more to the author than to the publisher.
– It is only recognising his property.
– As a rule, publishers look after themselves very much better than do authors, and that would be especially true of the unskilled and inexperienced authors referred to by Senator Dobson. We cannot do better than conserve their rights, when we know that they can assign them, subject to such terms and conditions as they deem fit, if they think it desirable to do so.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 23 -
The copyright in a book, the performing right in a dramatic or musical work, and the lecturing right in. a lecture, shall be personal property, and shall be capable of assignment and of transmission by operation of law.
– I point out that the definition of the term “ book “ in the interpretation clause is not sufficiently wide to cover “ article,” and there should be some provision for assigning copyright in an article.
– Do we require anything more than the word “ copyright ?”
– Perhaps not; if the word “ book “ is left out of the clause.
– I think we should say, “ The copyright, the performing right, and the lecturing right shall be,” &c.
– Some alteration of the clause, as it stands is necessary to cover the assignment or transmission of copyright in an article.
– I think that Senator Drake’s objection will commend itself as good to the Minister in charge of the Bill. It is the right that is the personal property, and what is conferred by this Bill is copyright, performing right, and lecturing right.
– Those words are not used without reference to a book, a dramatic or musical work, or a lecture.
– It is the right that is really the personal property, and if we say simply that the copyright, the performing right, and the lecturing right shall be personal property, that will be a neat way of stating the clause. I move -
That the words “ in a book,” line. 1, be left out.
– In the interpretation clause “ book “ is defined to mean - any book or volume, or part or division of a book or volume, or any pamphlet, newspaper, sheet, or letter press, sheet of music, map, chart, diagram, or plan separately published, and any illustration therein.
– If the honorable and learned senator will look at clause 18 he will find that it is the right that we make personal property by this Bill.
– At present I must admit that I do not see any objection to the use of the words “copyright, performing right, and lecturing right “ in the plaGe of those used in this clause, but there may be several objections which, on further investigation, will disclose themselves. This only illustrates again the inadvisableness of asking the Minister, when dealing with a technical Bill of this character, to accept amendments off-hand.
– In accordance with notice already given, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have to express my regret that, while the Government has not endeavoured to burke discussion on the important question of the classification of the Public Service, still the discussion has been conducted with such limitations that it has been impossible for the Senate to express, in concrete form, an opinion as to the scheme of the Commissioner.
– There is no motion which could give wider range of discussion than this one.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.This motion gives the widest possible range for discussion, but it absolutely precludes us from giving expression to the general will of the Senate in concrete form. We have been compelled to discuss the question on a motion for adjournment, but I think it would have been better had the Government laid the scheme upon the table and initiated a discussion, as I think is usual, which would have enabled us to discuss the matter as we would discuss other questions, and would not have precluded us from carrying a motion. Because, while speakers may express diverse views, unless we carry a motion, it will be impossible for the Commissioner to know what opinion is held by the majority with regard to matters generally affecting his scheme. We must all admit - and I think that every speaker has so far admitted - that the task which confronted that officer was one of the very greatest difficulty. He was called upon to create absolute uniformity throughout the Public Service - a service previously governed by six different Acts, and an almost countless number of amending Acts. These Acts revealed varying practices, differing scales of remuneration, diverse district allowances, and a different system of bestowing increments. The difficulties I have enumerated were accentuated and complicated by the fact that the Constitution, in section 84, provides that public servants transferred from the States to the Commonwealth shall retain their existing rights. Undoubtedly this was a’ stupendous task to perform, and we are not surprised to find that there are in the classification scheme certain anomalies and inconsistencies. It is the duty of honorable senators to point them out, and to a certain extent direct the Commissioner in connexion with anything which is operating unfairly towards the Public Service. While it was hoped and intended that his appointment” would do away with political influence, and allow promotion to a certain extent, at any rate, by juster methods than seniority, and introduce if possible a system of preferment by merit, it was not Intended in the slightest degree that the
Commissioner should be beyond or above parliamentary control. In the debate on the Public Service Bill, speaker after speaker insisted that, while it was our desire to do away with political influence, there was no shadow of a suggestion that we should do away with parliamentary control. The Act states clearly the procedure. The Commissioner has to report to the Government, who are responsible to Parliament, and1 who have submitted to the Senate his classification scheme before they have come to a decision as to whether it shall be accepted or referred back to him. It has been said that the scheme has resulted in greater expense to the Commonwealth, and in higher salaries to public servants. A very superficial investigation of the scheme might lead one to suppose that that was correct. According to a return which, at my request, was prepared on ‘ the 3rd August last the total remuneration prior to the classification was £1,602,576, and the total increase as the result of the classification was ,£54,564. When the Minister of Home Affairs initiated the discussion 011 the scheme in another place, he stated that at the inauguration of the Federation there were 11,191 employes receiving a remuneration of 439,938; that on the 1st January, 1904, there were 11,661 employes receiving a remuneration of ,£1,578,861, or an increase of .£138,923, and that as a result of the appeals, the remuneration was increased by ,£4,215, and the district allowance bv .£1,555, making a further increase of ,£5,770. I have always held that the Public Service should be well remunerated. When I stood for election I promised my constituents that I would vote for a well-paid Public Service. I said it was the duty of the Federal Government, as perhaps the largest employer of labour in the Commonwealth, to set a good example in this regard, and that we should not set a bad example to State and private employers. From the figures I have quoted, it might be concluded that the Public Service has done very well out of the classification scheme, and that to make any alteration would be unfair to the great Australian public, who have to pay the salaries. My complaint is not so much with regard to the present salaries, because in that respect public servants have little to complain about. What I have to complain about is that the future opportunities for obtaining any increase of salary have been almost entirely destroyed by this scheme. Under the old system we had differential salaries, and, at any rate in Western Australia, a uniform allowance, irrespective of the nature of the work. Under the new system the Commissioner is providing for uniform salaries, with a differential allowance, calculated according to the salaries of the clerks and the geographical position in which they are employed. Therefore we must not let this increase blind us to the fact that the public servant is in an absolutely worse position as the result of the classification than he was in before Federation by reason of these increments being curtailed and the opportunities for advancement being so much smaller under our Public Service Act than under the States Acts. The whole position might be put in this way : It was necessary in the Act to level up the Public Service; therefore public servants in each State receive in the aggregate higher remuneration than they did before. It was like giving to the public servants a bonus and stopping all future dividends. We have given public servants an increase in salary, but we have virtually said, “You shall have very much smaller opportunities of increase than you previously had.” So that really the position of a public servant is worse now than it was prior to Federation. Another point we must never forget in comparing the Public Service of the Commonwealth with that of the States is that its public officers have no pensions paid by the Commonwealth. They are forced by the Public Service Act to contribute so much to a fund in order to provide for themselves a pension when they attain a certain age. or an allowance if they become incapacitated. This has to be paid out of their salaries, and as it is not done in any of the States it imposes an obligation upon our public servants, which’ must be taken into consideration when we are instituting any comparison. In the Public Service Act we decided that in the general division we would create a minimum wage of £110 per annum, practically £2 2s. per week. We made no limitation as to thi maximum, but the Commissioner has stepped in and created one of practically £2 12s. 6d. per week. It is only with extreme difficulty that a letter-carrier in the general division can attain to a salary of £138 a year, and therefore the Commissioner his established a maximum of practically £2 12s. 6d. per week. It is almost impossible for the great majority of letter-carriers, or persons in a similar occupation, ever to attain to that salary. I think we should fix the maximum at £3 per week - at least at £I 50 a year. The officers in the general division have great responsibilities. Often they have very difficult tasks to perform. In the proper sense of the term, theirs is skilled labour for which they should receive a fair remuneration. I would suggest that we should do away with the three grades of the general division, and allow the letter-carriers and others in that division to rise by annual increments to a maximum of r ‘50. In the clerical division we allow the officers to rise to _£i6o without grades; we should at least allow those in the general division to rise by increments to £[150, and do away with the three grades that are provided for in section 80. Whilst there are apparent opportunities for those in the clerical division to rise to the highest position, they are blocked by the classification. It insists upon the great majority of the telegraphists being relegated to the lowest division, and practically they have no opportunity to rise. At present two-thirds of the telegraph operators are in the fifth class. It would be, a fair thing to remove that congestion around the lowest rung of the ladder by providing that at least one-half should be in the fifth division, and one-half in the fourth, instead of the present proportions of twothirds and one-third. Otherwise, the officers will have less opportunities of advancement than they had prior to Federa-turn. I have, I think, shown that the public servants are worse off than they were before Federation, although they have received what I may call a bonus as the result of the levelling-up process, which has blinded members of Parliament to the fact that the future prospects of the officers are irreparably injured by this classifi-cation scheme. The female officers of the service have been treated bv the Commissioner in a manner totally opposed to the intentions of Parliament. The Acf: clearly lays down the broad principle of sex equality. The public servants, male and female, were to receive the same salary if they were doing similar work, and were possessed of equal capacity. But the whole intention of Parliament has been, reversed by the Commissioner in practically preventing any female officer from being employed in the clerical division. Whether they have passed the examination or not, they are all thrust into the general division, though they may be doing similar work to, and are equally competent with, men in the clerical division who are receiving higher remuneration. The promotion of female public servants has been absolutely blocked. Positions in the fifth class have been advertised, female clerks qualified by examination) have applied and the vacancies have been filled exclusively by males. Female officers who have passed the clerical - entrance - examination, and the minimum wage examination, entitling them to be placed in the clerical division, have without exception been placed in the general division. That is an invidious distinction that was not intended by the Act, but has been initiated by the Commissioner. Now, I wish tosay a word with regard to the appeal board. I was instrumental in having those boards provided for in the Public Service Act. There can be no doubt that they have not created that degree of satisfaction, and conferred such benefits as it was hoped they would. They have not been as effective as Parliament intended. But it must be remembered that the Senate had a big fight to secure appeal boards at all. On two occasions, I think, the proposal of the Senate carried at my instance was rejected by the House of Representatives, and only in a modified form was it restored and ultimately retained in the Act. The nature of the appeal boards has undoubtedly militated against their successful operation. Practically, an appeal board as at present constituted is a body that sits in judgment on itself. It consists of the inspector, the permanent head, and, some one elected by the officers of the service. The two former officers were, of course, largely instrumental in fixing the salaries and conditions against which appeals are made. They themselves are therefore called upon to adjudicate on their own work. It would be better if we had an appeal board composed of a representative of the Government and a representative of the employes, presided over by a stipendiary magistrate.
– No, a Judge.
It might not be possible for a Judge to give sufficient time to the work. But either a stipendiary magistrate, a Judge, or some person in a judicial capacity, who is free from bias and has a capacity to weigh evidence, should sit on the board. The recommendations of the board are subject to the decision of the Commissioner, which is final. Such a tribunal as at present constituted is not likely to have made many alterations in the classification scheme that was formulated largely at the instigation of its members. But, in any case, the provision with regard to appeal boards had this advantage - that it insured that a public servant with a grievance had a right to appeal to Caesar. Not only that, but it enabled an aggrieved officer to give and call evidence, which had to be taken down and sent to the Commissioner, so that he might be able to know both sides of a case before he came to a decision. The object was to do away with socialinfluence, which I insisted, when I proposed my amendment in the Public Service Bill, was almost, if not quite, as bad as political influence.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Personally, I believe that in the Public Services of the States unfair cases of social influence are ten times as numerous as are unfair cases of political influence. We want to do away, as far as we can, with what I may call departmental pets - certain people who are relations of those high in the service, or who are perhaps very friendly with heads of departments, and who are pushed forward over the heads of others, or sent to places where the conditions of life are pleasant and Opportunities of promotion are great ; whilst persons equally honest and capable are retained where promotion is almost impossible.
– We shall have to bring down an archangel or two to manage the Public Service.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.It is quite impossible to do that, unless we secure the services of Senator Mulcahy. We can, however, point out abuses that occur. While it is impossible for us to secure perfection, we can at least attempt to minimize evils that tend to spread to such an alarming extent in the service. It was unfortunate that the first test of the efficiency of the appeal boards was in relation to the myriad appeals against the classification scheme. It was almost physically impossible for the Commissioner to give individual attention to each case, to read the evidence, and to come to a decision. I know nothing about the matter personally, but he must have delegated the decisions to some of his clerks, or must have acted upon the recommendations made by the appeal boards. Consequently, the very factor that we hoped would be useful in doing away with unfairness in the working of departments has not been availed of to the extent we had hoped. There were 2,217 appeals lodged, of which 443 were allowed, and 1,774 were disallowed. It is also unfortunate that, as reported in the press, the Commissioner showed hostility to the creation of the appeal boards. It is reported that he said that the system was unworkable, and also that Sir William Lyne, then Minister of Home Affairs, said that he would have the appeal board section repealed. For these reasons the career of the board has been of a somewhat chequered nature. It has had a very severe trial. We can only hope that in future the system will be more effective. I am pleased to say that at least some good has been accomplished. In Western Australia, in the Department of Trade and Customs, four officers, and in the Post and Telegraph Department sixty-three, were benefited as the result of the system. In the matter of district allowances, one centre was raised from scale 2 to scale 3 ; twenty-three centres were raised from scale 3 to scale 4; fifteen were raised from scale 4 to scale5 ; four were raised from scale 5 to scale 6 ; three received a special allowance of £60 each ; and in something like the same proportion officers in the other States were benefited. We can, therefore, rightly assume that if there had been no appeal boards there would have been hundreds of cases of injustice which would never have come before the Department, and would have remained until the present day. Indeed, I believe that many injustices remain now, which should have been rectified by the appeal boards ; but we, at least, can congratulate ourselves on the fact that some have been adjusted, which otherwise would never have received consideration. In the salaries established under the Public Service Act, absolute equality throughout the Commonwealth was rendered necessary by reason of the Constitution, in order to enable public servants to be transferred from one part of a State to another, and from State to State. This absolute equality was inaugurated irrespective of climatic conditions, of the isolation of some places, and of the discomforts inseparable from certain positions. As I have stated, this uniformity was obligatory under the Con stitution, but it would undoubtedly be a cruel injustice if disabilities were not corrected by allowances attached to the districts in order to compensate officers for the disabilities I have mentioned. I venture to think that in the system of allowances a grave mistake has been made bythe Commissioner. Instead of adopting fixed allowances, according to locality, the Commissioner has adopted percentage allowances, modified by locality. He has computed the allowances partly from the geographical position in which the public servant is placed, and partly on the amount of the salary ; and I say that that is wrong in principle. We grade salaries according to the ability of the individual and the importance of the position and the responsibilities; and in that, I think, we have adopted a right policy. But these factors in no way exist when we consider the question of allowances. Isolation, discomfort, and increased cost of living press as heavily on the official drawing £100 a year, as on the official receiving £500 a year. There is only one method which can be adopted in a spirit of absolute fairness, and that is to say that locality alone shall determine the amount of compensation. If a man, in receipt of £100 a year is stationed at a place like Belladonia, Eucla, Wyndham, or Derby, in Western Australia, he ought, on the grounds I have stated, to receive the same allowance as a man who is paid a much higher salary. This is not a question of merit but of discomfort and expense ; and, therefore, the Commissioner, in my opinion, was wrong in making a compromise, and holding that locality should have a certain weight, and salary a certain weight.
– Salary has nothing to do with the question; climatic allowances should be equal all round.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is so. There is only one system of differentiation, irrespective of locality, which can be allowed with equity, and that is the differentiation between married and unmarried men. In the Western Australian Railway Department, married men receive an allowance of £50, and single men an allowance of £30 a year in inland towns. With that one exception, which may or may not be advisable, there should be no differentiation at all - locality should absolutely decide the amount of compensation. In bringing about uniformity of salaries, there was a general levelling up, and on account of the accrued rights of the public servants it would have been impossible to adopt any Other process. The public servants of Tasmania had their salaries increased to the extent of 18 per cent. ; in South Australia, 17 perc ent. ; in New South Wales, 11 per cent. ; in Victoria, 10 per cent. ; in Western Australia, 5 per cent. ; and Queensland, 4 per cent. It will be seen that the public servants of Western Australia and Queensland received the smallest increases, and if we ask ourselves why, in those States, the public servants previously received the higher salaries, we must come to the conclusion that the conditions of living were recognised by the States Governments. In other words, the higher salaries show that the conditions are worse, as, indeed, is admitted, in Western Australia and Queensland than in the other States. Now that the salaries are absolutely equalized, a much greater obligation is imposed on us to increase the allowances in those States. But the fact is that the allowances in Queensland and Western Australia have been in a great many cases largely reduced-, while in few, if any, instances has there been any increase. I contend that the allowances should be increased instead of reduced, if any semblance of fairness is to be meted out to those public servants who, under the Constitution, are entitled to retain all their rights and privileges. At an inter-State conference of letter-carriers, attended by representatives from all the States, the following resolution was passed : -
That in the opinion of this conference, the whole of the State of Western Australia should be brought under clause 168 of the Public Service Regulations.
That is the clause which provides for a scale of district allowances; and in the opinion of this conference of letter-carriers, who compose one-fourth of the general division of the Public Service, the whole of the officers in Western Australia ought to receive this consideration. At a conference of the Electric Telegraph Association, held in Melbourne on the 20th June last, it was resolved -
In view of the high cost of living, and the higher rate of wages obtaining in Western Australia, as compared with the rest of the Commonwealth, this conference advocates the bringing of the whole State under the provisions for district allowances.
Those resolutions are undoubtedly justified by the increased cost of living, which can be verified by a reference to newspaper advertisements in Western Australia, and to the price lists of commodities in the various States. I have here an extract from a newspaper, giving a comparison between the prices of goods in Adelaide and in Perth, based on what is required for a man and his wife for a week. The comparison is as follows : - Rent in Adelaide, 8s., as compared with 17s. 6d. in. Western Australia; meat, 7s., as compared with 13s. ; groceries, 8s., as compared with 11s. 6d.
– Does the honorable senator say that meat is double the price in Perth?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Very often it is. The comparison proceeds: - Milk1s. 2d. in Adelaide, as compared with1s. 6d. in Perth ; vegetables, 10d., as compared with1s.9d. ; bread, 2s. 1d., as compared with 2s.11d. ; wood, 2s., as compared with 2s. 6d. ; fruit, is.,as compared with 2 s. The total cost for the week is£1 10s.1d. in Adelaide, as compared with £2 12s. 3d. in Perth. Then a comparison is also instituted in regard to the cost of other provisions, as follows: - Bacon, 51/2d. per lb. in Adelaide, as against 1s.1d. in Perth; eggs,11d. per dozen, as against1s. 9d. per dozen; cheese, 5d. per lb., as against10d. per lb. ; tea,1s. per lb., as against1s. 3d, per lb.; butter, 8d. per lb., as against1s.1d. per lb. ; and potatoes, 28 lbs. for1s., as against 2s.
– What is theauthority for those figures?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The extract is from a Western Australian newspaper, called the Spectator .
– The statement of prices is absolutely incorrect, so far as Adelaide is concerned.
– The comparison proceeds : -Mutton. 21/2d. to 4d. per lb. in Adelaide, as compared with 4d. to 6d. per lb. in Perth; beef,21/2d. to 4d., as compared with 6d. to 9d. ; bread, in the 2-lb. loaf, 21/2d., as compared with 31/2d. ; and rabbits, 6d. per pair, as compared with 2s.
– The whole statement is incorrect so far as Adelaide is concerned.
– The honorable senator is expressing a very dogmatic opinion without, I think, sufficient evidence.
– I know what prices I pay for provisions for my own family.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Doubtless the honorable senator purchases commodities of the very best quality, and fares sumptuously every day. Poor public servants cannot afford to buy the choicest of the fruits of the earth, as doubtless the honorable senator does. Instead of this difference in the cost of living being recognised, the- allowances in Western Australia, and, I believe, in Queensland, have been actually reduced. I admit that there are places in Queensland where the disabilities are just as great as those experienced in Western Australia. The climate in the north of Western Australia and in the north of Queensland, with the accompanying discomforts, is about equal, and any claims I have made on behalf of the public servants in the western State, may be made with equal force for the public servants in the northern State. There is no doubt that Western Australia has benefited least by the classification scheme, or, to put it another way. has been injured most. The unfortunate public servants have been punished both ways. As I pointed out before, the public servants in Tasmania have had their salaries increased by 18 per cent.
– Do not forget the rates which prevailed in Tasmania before Federation.
– I do not mention the rates prior to Federation, because salaries are now uniform. What I am pointing out is that Federation has benefited the public servants of every State more than it has the public servants of Western Australia, where the increase in the salaries amounts to only 5 per cent. In the latter State the public servants are also injured in the matter of allowances, which are lower than they were prior to Federation, so that, as I said, injury has been inflicted in both directions.
– It might happen that the salaries of the public servants in one State, might under the classification, not be increased at all, and yet no unfairness result - I mean if the salaries were previously sufficient.
– The salaries paid in Western, Australia and Queensland were practically taken, as the standard, and the salaries elsewhere were brought up to their level, because no other course was possible under the Constitution. When all the rights and privileges of the public servants had to be preserved, it wa§ impossible to reduce salaries.
– That is why civil servants in Western Australia do not appear to have benefited so much by the classification.
– The honorable senator confirms what I have said. Public servants in Western Aus tralia have received less benefits under the classification, and they have been seriously injured by the reductions made in the allowances which they previously enjoyed. In the reclassification scheme as compared with the original classification scheme, of seventy towns in Western Australia, forty have been placed in a higher scale with respect to allowances, and thirty have been left as they were before. Civil servants employed in the towns which have been placed in the higher scale of allowances are now in receipt of allowances barely equal to those which they received prior to Federation, whilst those employed in the thirty towns which have been retained in the same scale as before, receive little more than half the amount in allowances that they received prior to Federation. These latter towns include inland centres like Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, in which large staffs of public servants are employed. I say that in this Public Service Classification we are not carrying out the spirit and letter of section 84- of the Constitution, under which it was intended that all existing rights of civil servants should be maintained’. Whilst the level ling-up process, to . which I have referred, has practically resulted in bonuses to numbers of civil servants, so far as increments are concerned they are in an infinitely worse position than they were in before Federa-tion. When we come to consider allowances, we find that they are receiving very much less than they received prior to Federation.’ The postal officials employed, at Brownhill, Boulder, Bulla Bulling, Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, and Trafalgar (now Lake View) received ,£30 a year as allowances in addition to salary prior to Federation.. They are now receiving allowances according to the following scale : Those in receipt of a salary of £140 receive an allowance of £~i8 a year, or a little more than, half the allowance paid prior to Federation. Those receiving salaries up to £150 receive an allowance of £19 1 os., and there are very few in receipt of a higher salary. Those receiving salary up to £185 receive an allowance of £21 7s. 6d., and up to £210 an allowance of £23. In these towns, in which there are employed a large number of public servants, the allowances , paid have been reduced in some instances by nearly 50 per cent. Civil servants employed at Bardoc; Bonnievale, Broadarrow, Bulong, and Burbanks received an allowance of £30 a year prior to Federation. They are now in receipt of allowances computed as follows : - -Salary up to . £140, allowance £24 ; upto£160, allowance £26 ; up to £185, allowance £28 10s. ; and up to £210, allowance £3010s. In the case of Carnarvon, where public servants prior to Federation received an allowance of £40 a year, they are now in receipt of allowances on the scale which I. have just referred to.
– Is the honorable senator referring to climatic allowances, or to increments of salary?
– To allowances to meet extra cost of living, and in consideration of isolation, and adverse conditions of employment. I am contending that these allowances should be computed simply according to locality, and that no other factor should be allowed to enter into the computation. I say that a clerk at Carnarvon receiving £100 a year should get exactly the same allowances as an offier in receipt of £500 a year at the same place, because the adverse conditions must be equally oppressive to each. There can be no question in this matter as in the case of fixing salaries, of payment according to the value of services rendered. In dealing with allowances a lump sum should be given, as in the State service of Western Australia, and also in the case of private employers, as I shall be able to show. The principle adopted by the Public Service Commissioner has been to give the man in receipt of the higher salary a higher allowance. He would appear to have followed the Scriptural injunction, “ To whomsoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance, but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away, even that which he hath.” I propose to refer to the allowances paid to civil servants in the employ of the State Government of Western Australia in similar conditions. In the Education Department, each civil servant employed in the inland towns of the State receives an allowance of£30 per annum, irrespective of salary. In the Railway Department, married men receive an allowance of £50 per annum, and single men an allowance of £30. in the
Police Department all receive £30 per annum and quarters. In the Treasury, Law Department, and Mines Department, officers receive an allowance of 20 per cent. on their salaries, which is a very generous allowance.
– Anda very bad principle, according to the honorable senator.
– I do not approve of the principle, but under that regulation a man in receipt of £150a year salary would receive £30 a year as allowance. While I object to the principle adopted in the case of those departments, I admit that the allowance granted is on an exceedingly generous scale. In dealing with the allowances paid by private firms, I quote the associated banks, because they are large employers of clerical servants, and in the inland towns of Western Australia they pay each clerk an allowance of £50 per annum in addition to salary. I say that the Commonwealth Government has no right to so seriously reduce the allowancesheretofore paid to civil servants in Western Australia or in any other Stale. The course adopted is an injustice to those who are immediately concerned ; but it is also an injustice to every wage-earner employed where these adverse conditions of employment obtain. The Commonwealth Government is, if not the largest, one of the largest employers of labour in Australia, and when they have taken this step the tendency will be for the States Governments to do the same thing. We know that the rate of wages is almost invariably fixed by those employing the largest number of hands. If a great mine in a certain locality pays a certain rate of wages it practically fixes the wages for the smaller mines around it. This applies to various other avocations. If the Commonwealth Government sets the example of altering the existing conditions obtaining on the Western Australian gold-fields, and of. reducing allowances fixed by officials who had an infinitely better knowledge of the conditions of employment in those places than any Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner could possibly have, there is great danger that private firms and employers will also reduce the allowances which they are now ‘ paying. What has been done under this classification scheme may have the effect of decreasing the difference between wages paid on the gold-fields of Western Australia and those paid in the Eastern States. If it is to be decided that the difference in cost of living, the disadvantage of isolation, and the other disabilities which have to be endured in remote parts of Western Australia, are to be estimated by an allowance pf 7s. 6d. a week - because that is what this proposal practically amounts to - we shall be creating a standard for private employers on the Western Australian gold-fields. At the present time clerical and manual labour is receiving in the inland towns of Western Australia practically 50 per cent, more than similar labour is paid in the Eastern States. We are under this classification scheme, saying that the difference should only be 7s. 6d. per week. By adopting such a course we shall be doing a very great injustice not only to our own public servants in outside districts, but to the employes of the State Government ‘and of private firms in those districts. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the transfer of civil servants. Great injustice has been done in the past by the fact that civil servants who have been able to exercise no influence, who have not had the benefit of a relation in a Department, or some powerful friend in the community, have been practically banished to some “ Siberia “ in the centre of Western Australia or on the northern coast. They have been left there until* they halve resigned or until their health has broken down, owing to the rigour of the climate. Cases have occurred in (which men who have been told that they must go to some of these places, have stated that they would resign rather than go into perpetual exile,, because they know what the conditions would be. When an officer has applied for a transfer the head qf the Department has said, “‘I want you to go up to Broome, Derby. Wyndham, Eucla, or Balladonia to relieve so-and-so, who has been there for three or four years.” The clerk refuses^ to go, and says that he prefers to resign, with the result that the unfortunate wretches already banished to those places are “kept there until their health is injured. In this way the greatest injustice has been done to many civil servants. As an illustration of many hundreds of cases, I can mention that of the postmaster of the town of Lawlers, which is almost in the centre of Western Australia: He went up there wilh his1 wife, eight, if not nine, years ago. He has several young children who have never seen the sea, who practically have never seen civilization. The doctor has told him that it is absolutely necessary for the health of his wife and children that he should have an extended holiday near the sea, or in some place where the conditions are better. Although I have been, I think, to every Minister up to the time when the Commissioner was appointed, and urged that the man should be transferred, still they have been unable to transfer him, because they said they could not get any one to take his place. If the Commissioner would lay it down as an absolute rule that in those places where the discomforts are great, no public servant should be compelled to stay more than three years, the whole difficulty would be got over, because a man would say, “ I shall get a certain allowance ato ve my salary. I shall have to put in my three years, and take my turn with the others.” That is a very different thing from saying .n a man, “ You shall go to this outoftheway place, and we shall not say when you will be relieved, whether you will be there till you die, or until you resign.” Unless such a rule as that be established, the greatest hardship will exist in the future, and the greatest injustice will be carried on in Western Australia. If a return were prepared to show the length of service that some of these men have done in tropical parts of Western Australia, and in parts where the discomforts are very great, where they see hardly a white face from one month’s end to another, I think honorable senators would say that some provision should be made that public servants should not be compelled to stay more than three years in these out-of-the-way places. To sum up what I have said, I would say that female employes in the Civil Service possessing equal qualifications and aptitude, should be placed ki the same class and receive equal remuneration as male civil servants doing similar work ; that at least onehalf of the total number of telegraphists should be in the fourth class; that the three grades in the general division should be abolished, and annual increments substituted up to at least *£i$o ; that district allowances should be more in conformity with those previously allowed by the States, and should constitute a more equitable compensation for increased cost of living, isolation, and climatic conditions ; and that the appeal board provision should be amended so that there should be on each board one representative of the Government, and one of the civil servants, presided over by a stipendiary magistrate or Judge. It is impossible for me to move these propositions under the restricted conditions in which I am placed. I do not wish in any way to prevent discussion, but when the debate on this scheme is completed I shall embody the propositions in a notice of motion, which I shall move at a later date.
– On a previous occasion I spoke on the classification scheme generally ; but there is one phase in connexion with the Public Service which would have been raised tonight by Senator Neild if he had been well enough to attend. When he was last here he asked me, if he were absent when the scheme was discussed, to bring forward the question of the isolation of a small number of public servants in the Military Department. In that Department there are a number of clerks who have been practically cut off from the rest of the public servants and placed in a most invidious position as compared with other public officers.
– Unfortunately it is done by the third section of the Defence Act.
– Whatever the reason for this isolation may be, I think there are sufficient grounds for altering the law. For instance, they are not considered eligible for transfer to other Departments under the Commonwealth when vacancies occur which they are competent to fill, although clerks in the Pay and Ordnance branches of the Military Department, and also clerks in the Rifle Club and Naval Offices, are so eligible for transfer and promotion.
– I think they’ have a very just cause of complaint, and I shall try to get them placed within the Public Service, if I can.
– The clerical positions in the military service are restricted. No regulations exist as to when promotions or increments may be expected, if clerks perform their services satisfactorily. There is no board of appeal or feeling of security of position. Again, military clerks cannot aspire to the higher positions to which public officers in the clerical division of the Public Service naturally hope to aspire, as a reward for years of meritorious service. Moreover, through want of opportunity, they are prevented from rising in the military branch. They are not in the active forces, arid therefore have no opportunity of rising in the military branch of the Defence Department, or in the clerical branch of the Public Service.
– But in the clerical branch of the military service they can rise to the position of Secretary to the Minister.
– Yes; but, in view of their small number, it is manifest that the chances of promotion are practically nil. Under the present regulations, military clerks are subjected to periodical medical examinations, which are not required of the men in other branches of the Public Service. They are compulsorily retired at the age of fifty -five years, without a pension or superannuation allowance, whilst clerks in the other Departments serve on until they attain the age of sixty years, and in some cases sixty-five years. That seems to be very harsh treatment.
– They get no superannuation allowance.
– That is so; but still, to retire a man at the age of fifty-five years, when practically he should be in his prime, seems a great hardship, because it is utterly impossible for him then to commencelife afresh. If it is decided that the military clerks do not come under the provisions of section 33 of the Public Service Act, the Government should pass a short Bill toamend section 3 of the Defence Act, so as to bring them into the Public Service. I cannot understand any reasons being given for their present treatment. I believe that the reason given by MajorGeneral Hutton was that there was some necessity for keeping military clerks under the control of military officers, because it might be necessary to court-martial them. Surely it could be laid down that if the military clerks broke any of the Public Service Regulations, the Commissioner should deal with them, and that if they broke any military regulations, they should be dealt with by court-martial, like the clerks in the Ordinance Department. I trust that the Minister will see if a remedy cannot be found for the position in which military clerks find themselves.
– I am looking into the matter, and trust to be able to find a remedy.
– I do not know whether the Minister has had his attention drawn to the fact that public officers in
Western Australia receive very much larger salaries than public officers in Victoria. I should be glad if he would examine a paper which has been placed in my hand, and see if an alteration can be made. It seems very unfair that such a discrepancy should exist in the case of officers in the Department of Trade and Customs.
– In Western Australia the officers receive more remuneration on account of the higher cost of living, and now the representatives of the State say that the men do not receive enough.
– I would suggest that the salaries of the Victorian officers be raised tothe standard of the Western Australian officers. I do not see why a lettercarrier should not be allowed to rise to at least £150 a year, which is only a fair and reasonable remuneration. I believe that the present limit is £138 a year, but I do not see why any deserving men should not have the opportunity to rise to a maximum of £150 or £156 per year. That is not a very large amount ; and a man is encouraged to do his duty when he knows that he is fairly paid. That was my experience as a large employer of men. I should be glad if Senator Keating will look into the matters I have mentioned.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I should not have risen to speak, but for an interjection by the Minister of Defence and a remark by Senator Styles. I fully realize that the latter has no desire to see very low wages paid in Western Australia, but wishes to see equitable wages paid to public officers in Victoria. I am one of those who believe, not only in the State controlling the various Departments we have under consideration, but also in the extension of its functions - and as those functions extend, so I hope it will be a model employer, and pay the best wages. I can assure the Minister of Defence that the difference in the cost of living was quite correctly represented by Senator Smith.
– The prices quoted are, as regards Adelaide, altogether wrong.
– I believe that the prices are right. For the first few years after the Arbitration Court was established in Western Australia I conducted the majority of the cases for the Employes’ Union.
– Senator Smith’s prices as regards Western Australia may be right; but his prices as regards Adelaide are wrong.
– With a view to ascertaining the cost of living for the information of the Arbitration Court, we obtained! tradesmen’s bills paid by small families, and sworn to as correct, which showed that, although in some seasons certain articles might be a little dearer, yet, taking the whole year round, the cost of living generally averaged from 18 to 33 per cent. more in Western Australia than in South Australia. The cost of living in Adelaide is higher than the cost of living in Sydney in a good season. Heaven knows that banks do not pay very liberal salaries at any time but we find that these institutions have so far recognised the necessity of paying their employes increased wages on the gold-fields that they will not allow a clerk to work there for less than £200 - a salary which would make some of the bank clerks in Melbourne envious, I should think - and they give a gold-field allowance of£50per annum. I hold in my hand records of the Arbitration Court, which disclose the cost of living and the disabilities under which the various descriptions of workers were employed and had to live. Let me quote some of the wages paid, for instance, at Gwalia,. a very thickly-populated place, which is connected by railway with Perth. I find” that surface labourers - pick and shovel men - get11s. 8d. per day; boiler cleaners and tool sharpeners, 15s. per day; tradesmen, mechanics, engine-drivers, amalgamators, mechanics’ labourers, greasers, oilers, and cleaners, from 16s. to 16s. 8d. per day.
– A perfect paradise for a working man.
– I have been through that country, and can assure the Minister that even with those rates of wages it is not a perfect paradise for a man to live in, let alone to try to raise a family of children in. When one considers the high wages paid to every other class of workers, it will be recognised that the dissatisfaction that exists amongst the public servants in Western Australia has some justification. I trust that the facts and circumstances so ably laid before the Senate by Senator Pearce and Senator Staniforth Smith will receive attention from the Commissioner,
– Although we have the assurance of the Minister that any complaints and suggestions made by honorable senators will receive consideration at the hands of the Commissioner, it seems to me that he and his officers cannot, unless they plead guilty to incompetence, interfere with the classification scheme as amended. The Commissioner was appointed to classify the Public Service of the Commonwealth. He had “the assistance of inspectors and other officers. They completed their work. Due provision was made in the Act that public servants who were dissatisfied with the classification should have the right of appeal. A large number of them availed themselves of that right. Some appeals were allowed;- others were disallowed. Granting that in the first instance the Commissioner may have been mistaken in some particulars, he has now rectified his scheme, and he must insist that it is as near perfect as he can make it, and that to make further alterations, in deference to expressions of opinion by Parliament, would cause it to appear that he and his staff were not fit for the positions they occupy. For that reason, I think, it now remains for the Government to adopt the scheme, especially in justice to those who have successfully appealed. There is a considerable number of public servants in that position, and a large amount of back pay is due to them, in many cases covering periods of eighteen months. They cannot get that money until the classification scheme has been finally adopted, arid therefore injustice is done to them. The case of the letter-carriers has been referred to by Senator Pearce, but as the Minister has promised that the Commissioner will consider their grievances, I need not refer to that branch of the service. I agree most heartily with those who hav? pointed out that the clerical division seems to have been treated very much’ more generously than the general division. In The general division are men who have quite as much clerical ability as those in the clerical division, in addition to which they possess mechanical skill and general knowledge. But simply because they are engaged in work which is, in many instances, of f ar greater importance, and much more disagreeable, and involves greater integrity on the part of the officers than that performed by clerical officers, they have no chance of rising above a miserable £150 per annum. I indorse the remarks of Senator Smith as to the fact that in the classification scheme the Commissioner has absolutely ignored the principle laid down by the Federal Parliament, that women employed in the Public Service, provided thev are doing the same kind of work, and are equal in capacity to men, should receive the same pay. There are postmistresses and women occupying other positions which are important and responsible, and which compare with positions held by men of a like character. But simply because they are women, their promotion is barred. Certainly they have good ground to complain cf their treatment. Some of them have unsuccessfully appealed against their classification. Senator Smith, however, made it appear that South Australian public servants have been generously treated in comparison with those of Western Australia. But there is a class of public servants in South Australia that has been very badly treated. I refer to postmasters. In the classification scheme a large number of very important post-offices are graded at ,£140 per annum. Many of them are at important places. Under State management they carried a verymuch higher salary, and officers of the service looked forward to secure these positions as promotion for good service. To illustrate what I say, I have taken halfadozen post-offices in the State of South Australia, and propose to mention the salaries paid by the State before Federation, the salaries suggested by a Classification Board appointed by the State some years ago to grade these offices, and the salaries proposed under the Commonwealth classification scheme. The half-a-dozen offices which I shall take are a fair example of the whole classification in South Australia. First of all, at Strathalbyn, an important town south of Adelaide, the salary and allowances paid by the State amounted to £340 ; the State .Classification Board fixed the salary at- .£291 ; the Commonwealth classification makes it £’240. The present occupant of the office receives .£210. At Renmark the salary under the State regime was ,£245 ; the State Classification Board proposed to make it ^260; the salary under the Commonwealth classification is ^144. At Petersburg under the State the salary of the postmaster was .£42° ; the State Classification Board proposed to leave it at that amount ; the Commonwealth classification proposes to cut it down to ,£257. At Kadina the State salary, with allowances, was ^370 ; the State Classification Board proposed .£355 ; the Commonwealth classification cuts the amount down to £234. At Mount Barker the State salary was .£340; the State Classification Board proposed to make it ,£350 ; the Commonwealth classification scheme makes it ^’89.
There are similar instances throughout the classification scheme, the Commissioner having been most parsimonious in fixing the salaries of postmasters. In fact, they have been fixed so low that officers in the General Post Office in Adelaide, who at one time were anxious to secure country post-offices, and regarded the transfer as promotion, now prefer to remain in the General Post Office as subordinates rather than forfeit some amount of salary by taking country offices. For purposes of comparing payments at present made by private employers and even by the State, 1 will take Mount Barker, a town of which I know something, and which is a fair type. There are two branch banks there. The manager of one gets £320, with allowances, and the manager of the second receives £300. The inspector of stock, who is a State officer, receives £320 per annum; civ; schoolmaster £270; the” railway stationmaster £240; and the postmaster only £210, less £21 rent. In a town which is large enough to pay the salaries of two bank managers and several officials, the postmaster receives a beggarly pittance of £i%9 per annum.
– And bank managers are not generally overpaid.
– I quote those figures in order to compare payments in private employment with salaries paid by the Commonwealth. No encouragement whatever is given to good men to join the service. It should be the object of the Commonwealth to attract the very best men to do its work, and the only way to secure that end is to make something like a fair reward for services rendered. ‘ Looking through the figures prepared by Sir George Turner, I notice that the Post and Telegraph Department of the Commonwealth, shows a very fair profit. In New South Wales and Victoria the profit is, I think, 10 per cent. ; in South) Australia it is over jo per cent. Surely a Department that can show such a profit can afford to pay its officers fair salaries. The Commonwealth has the services of well-tried and experienced men from the States’ Public Services, to some of whom the transfer certainly did not mean promotion. In some cases, in order to obtain the same salary under Federal control, as was paid to them when in the employ of the State Government, they have been compelled to remove from the agreeable climate of the south to the much warmer and objectionable climate of the northern part of South Australia. To an officer of some years’ standing, who has a family growing up, and has formed social and other connexions in a certain locality, it is a great hardship to be compelled to make such a move, in order to obtain the salary to which he is entitled by his length of service. I do not think that it is of any use prolonging this discussion. In justice to members of the Public Service to whom a large amount of back pay is due, this scheme should “Be finally dealt* with as early as possible. No doubt, cases of individual hardship will occur, but these may, later on, be disposed of by the Commissioner, or the appeal boards, and, although the scheme, generally speaking, is unsatisfactory, to alter it now, even if we had the power, would give rise to a great deal of trouble and difficulty.
– I spoke on the classification scheme about a fortnight ago, but, as the motion before us is for the adjournment of the Senate, I wish to take advantage of the opportunity to draw attention to another matter. To-day, I asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, the following question : -
Whether, in view of the probable early appointment of a High Commissioner to represent Australia in London, the Government is not of opinion that any scheme for immigration should remain in abeyance until such official is appointed, so that he could take part in the selection or recommendation of any intending immigration.
The answer which I received was not quite so clear, and was hardly so fair as the question deserved; but, of course, 1 entirely absolve the Minister of Defence of any intention to be obscure.
– I gave the answer which I had received from the Minister of External Affairs. I had nothing to do with preparing it.
– The reply to my question was as follows : -
The appointment of a High Commissioner is regarded by the Government as an important factor in the encouragement of immigration, and Parliament will be invited to consider it in that relation.
That certainly is not a reply to the very simple and plain question which I asked.. In view of newspaper correspondence on the question of immigration, and of certainstatements made by the Minister of External Affairs, it occurs to me, as I believe it has occurred to a number of other people, that it is quite possible, and, in fact, probable, that arrangements are likely to be made at a very early date for the furtherance of the ‘scheme of General Booth, of the Salvation Army, to send 5,000 families to Australia. I have nothing to say on the question whether General Booth or any other individual is qualified to choose immigrants such as the States desire ; but, in view of the probable early appointment of an official to act as High Commissioner for all Australia
– Elected by Parliament.
– Whether the High Commissioner be elected by Parliament, or appointed by the Government, does not matter for the purpose of my argument. My contention is that it would be more satisfactory if the High Commissioner had some voice in the furtherance of any scheme that may be proposed, and in the selection of intending immigrants. That was my object in framing what I submit was a fair question, to which a clear answer might have been given. As I said before, Ido not charge the Minister of External Affairs with having intentionally made the answer obscure, but I think we ought to have some definite information on a matter which is of considerable importance to the Commonwealth.
– And is growing more important every day.
– That is so. I make these observations with a view to affording an opportunity to the Minister of Defence to consult with the Minister of External Affairs, if he deems it advisable to take that course. If the Minister of Defence does not accept this suggestion some honorable senator op myself may feel it necessary to take some further action.
– It is evident that Senator O’Keefe has never been a member of a Ministry, or he would know that it is not always possible to give a direct “yes” or “no” in answer to a question. If, in some cases, a direct answer were given, the Ministry would tie their hands, and place themselves in an awkward position. Senator O’Keefe evidently desires to have a direct answer to the effect that all arrangements in regard to immigration shall be stopped until a High Commissioner is appointed. The Government desire to have a High Commissioner, but do not know whether they will succeed ; and if Senator
O’Keefe had received the answer he. desired, and the Government were unable to appoint a High Commissioner, no action could have been taken in connexion with immigration. I can thoroughly understand that the Prime Minister saw the point, and realized the difficulty in which the Government would be placed if the question were answered with a direct negative or affirmative.
– Would itnot have been more honest to have told me that in answer to the question ?
– The honorable senator might have read between the lines and realized the position. I am now telling the honorable senator exactly the view which I suppose the Prime Minister took. I may say that I have not conversed with the Prime Minister on the subject, and that I never saw the reply to the questionuntil a few minutes before the Senate met. As I say, I read the answer as it was given to me, but I gathered what the situation was. The Government were asked, to say “yes” or “no” to a suggestion that we should stop all consideration of the immigration problem until a High Commissioner had been appointed, and had arrived in London. Had the answer been in the affirmative, and no Commissioner appointed, the Government would not have been able to utilize the services of the present AgentsGeneral for the States in the promotion’ of immigration. Therefore, the honorable senator received, I shall not say an evasive answer, but a sympathetic answer.
– A diplomatic answer.
– A diplomatic answer, which meant that under the peculiar - circumstances of the case it would not be wise for the Government to. commit themselves to anabsolute “yes” or “no.”
– Now I have received the answer which I wished.
– I had intended to address myself to the subject of the classification of the Public Service, but as Senator Smith has informed us that he intends to place some motions on the notice-paper in reference,; to the scheme, I think it better to defer, the few remarks I desire to make until those proposals are before us. We shall then be able to register our opinion by a vote,a course which’ cannot be adopted under the present mode of discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050921_senate_2_27/>.