2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Senator TRENWITH presented a petition from 2,155 employes in the manufacture ofstripper-harvesters, praying the Senate to impose such substantial duties on imported stripper-harvesters as would shield them from the great danger by which they were threatened by such importation.
Petition received and read, and ordered to be printed.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at10.30 o’clock.
This motion is moved in order that if, unfortunately, we should not complete the consideration of the Estimates to-night, we might have afew hours at our disposal’ tomorrow before the other House meets. Of course, if the Estimates are dealt with at this sitting, the Senate will meet at the usual hour to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
PUBLIC SERVANTS : CIVIC POSITIONS.
Senator PEARCE.- I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions: -
Have the Government yet given consideration to the question of public servants having the right to stand for election to municipal and other local governing bodies, subject to the consent of the Governor-General, and, if not, will they give it consideration at an early date?
Senator PLAYFORD. - The matter has not yet been considered by the Government as a whole, but it will be considered’ in Cabinet at a very early date.
TROPICAL AUSTRALIA: WHITE LABOUR.
Paper by Dr. Elkington.
Senator HIGGS asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice-
a. Will the Government obtain a copy of the paper, and lay it on the table of the Senate?
Senator PLAYFORD. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it true that the present garrison at Albany is below the strength advocated by MajorGeneral Button in his scheme of Commonwealth defence ?
Is it true that a portion of the present garrison is to be removed to Fremantle?
If so, will the Minister state why the garrison at this important strategic base is to be reduced?
Senator PLAYFORD. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
REPRINTING OF SPEECHES.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH asked the Minuter representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
If members desire to have their parliamentary speeches printed in pamphlet form by the Government Printer, has the Minister any objection to the speeches being “broken out,” so as to show the headings of the principal subjects touched upon, provided the speech is an exact verbal transcript of Hansard, and provided the member whose speech is being printed defrays the cost of same?
Senator PLAYFORD- The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
After consultation with the President, and the Speaker, it appears that there is no objection, provided the headings are informative only, and contain no personal reference. It may be suggested that if any arrangements of the kind are to be adopted, the headings must be subject to the approval of the Chief Parliamentary Reporter.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Statement showing : - 1. How much has been expended in each of the financial years ending 30th June, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904,1905 in the purchase of - (a) New Rifles; (b) Maxim guns; (c) field artillery. 2. The distribution among the several States of the Commonwealth.
Return showing strength in each of the several States of the Commonwealth of the Permanent, Militia, and Volunteer Forces, and Members of Rifle Clubs, on the 1st July, 1901, and on the 1st day of July, 1905.
Ordered to be printed.
Provisional Regulations under the Defence Acts 1903-4. - Statutory Rules 1905, No. 74.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 28th November, vide page 5851):
Treasury - Auditor-General’s Report: Auditor-General’s Staff: Government Printing: Linotype Operators.
Divisions 27 to 32(The Treasurer),
– Last year the report of the Auditor - General was not issued until the 13th December, so that practically it was of no valueto honorable senators when the Estimates were being considered. Will the representative of the Government give the Committee an assurance that for the future the report will be available for that purpose?
– Recently I informed the honorable senator that the Auditor-General is a servant of the Parliament, not of the Ministry. He does not take any command from the Ministry, he is in a perfectly independent position. I have inquired why his report for the past financial year has not been issued. I have been informed that it is because, in some cases, the necessary vouchers to show the accuracy of the statements issued by the Treasurer have not been forthcoming in time. There is very great trouble at times in getting necessary vouchers from outlying parts of the Commonwealth. Although the Treasurer bases his statement on what he believes to be accurate information, still that information has not been checked with the necessary documents. The Auditor- General waits for the whole of the documents to come in from the Departments, and if one Department is a little lax in that regard, it tends to delay the compilation of his report. I know that the Treasurer has done all that he possibly could to expedite the supply of the necessary information to the Auditor-General, so as to enable his report to be prepared. Everything is being done on the part of the Ministry to help this officer. I fear, however, that if the Treasurer delivers his Budget early in the financial year, say, in July or August, it will be impossible for the Auditor- General to be supplied with the information in time to enable him to make a report which will be available for, at all events, the House of Representatives, when the Estimates are being dealt with. At the same time, I think that matters might be expedited, so that before the Senate considers the schedule to the Appropriation Bill, the report may be furnished. We will do all we possibly can next year to secure the accomplishment of that very important object.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- It is reported in the newspapers that Mr. Israel, the Auditor-General, insists upon having his own staff in each State. He says that there must be no divided allegiance, and that the officers who do auditing for the Commonwealth must be Commonwealth servants.
– That is rubbish.
– It appears to me to be rubbish, and unless strong reasons are given why such a course should be adopted, I shall oppose it. It amounts to duplicating audit staffs all over the Commonwealth. In each State there is an Auditor-General, with his staff who, previous to Federation, audited the accounts of the Post Office, Customs Department, and the Defence Department. Why should they not continue to do that work under the supervision of the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral ? It is all very well for the Federal Auditor-General to say that he must have his own staff. I have no doubt that he would like that to be the case. So, probably, should we. But we must have some regard) to the financial conditions of the States. We might very well proceed under the present system, at least for some time longer. The Minister of Defence says that it would not be possible to present the Auditor-General’s annual report in. July or August, when the Treasurer makes his financial statement. No one expects that. Probably the vouchers do not come in before the end of July. Certainly a month would not be sufficient for the preparation of the report. But this is not the month of August. We are now in November. The report, in all likelihood, will not be ready until December, when it will be of no earthly use to us in considering the schedule to the Appropriation Bill. One of the principal objects in appointing the Auditor-General was to insure correctness in the payments, and that the law was obeyed in all particulars. But under the present system we might as well have no such official. I trust that an effort will be made to hurry up the report in future.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I will read what the Auditor- General has to say in reference to this matter -
At present in States other than Victoria the. audit is performed by the State Audit Staff, the State Auditor-General acting as deputy for the Commonwealth Auditor-General, for which service he receives an allowance of£100 per annum. . . . The Auditor-General has reported that the present arrangements are unsatisfactory, as the tendency is to subordinate Federal for State work, and in some States the audit had been allowed to get considerably into arrear. Mr. Israel estimates a saving in Commonwealth expenditure under the new system of £2,000 per annum. He also considers that a more effective system of audit will be secured.
We pay the States for services, which their auditing staffs render, the following amounts : - New South Wales, . £2,325 ; Queensland. £1,928; South Australia, £1,000; Western Australia, £1,497 ; Tasmania, £400; making a total of £7,150. In Victoria we do not use the State staff. The work is done by the Auditor-General’s staff. Of course, if the present system is altered, these allowances will cease, and their place will be taken by salaries and travelling expenses ; but the AuditorGeneral anticipates that there will be a saving of £2,000
– Does he give an estimate of salaries?
SenatorPLAYFORD.-No; it would be impossible to do so at this stage.
– In connexion with the vote for the Government Printing Office, I wish to bring under the notice of the Government a matter which requires serious consideration. The Commonwealth has purchased a number of linotype machines for use in the Government Printing Office. Operators have been engaged to work them. So far, those men have been given no definite status. The rights of other public servants are conserved by the Public Service Act and the regulations. But these men, who fill responsible positions, have no status whatever. They may be dismissed at a moment’s notice. In addition to that, they are doing their work at lower rates of pay than are received by men who are doing a similar class of work outside. Furthermore, they do not know, according to the statement of the Treasurer, whether they are working for the State or for the Commonwealth. On the nth of September, the operators, very properly desiring a settlement of the questions relating to them; formed a deputation, which was introduced by Mr. Tudor, a member of the House of . Representatives to the Commonwealth Treasurer. In the case which they placed before the Treasurer, they asked first-
That all operators engaged on day work be paid at the rate of £4 per week ; those employed on night work to be paid at the rate of £4 10s. per week.
Let me point out that these are lower rates than are currently paid in outside offices to men who are doing the same class of work. In some offices, linotype operators are paid £5 per week. Why should not the Commonwealth pay those who are doing its work a similar rate? The next request which they put before the Treasurer, was -
That overtime work be paid for to all operators after completing an ordinary day’s (or night’s) work.
No more reasonable request could be made to any employer than that. The present absurd system is that the men are compelled to work a full week of forty-two hours before they get a single hour’s overtime pay.
– That is the system which prevails right through the service.
– If . these men are not allowed to have the same rights as other Commonwealth servants in other respects, why should they be compelled to accept the disabilities under which other officers labour? If they accept the disabilities, undoubtedly they should enjoy the rights as well. If I work in a mine or in a factory, after I have completed my eight hours’ work, overtime payment begins, if I am expected to work longer. During the recent long sittings of the House of Representatives, these linotype operators had to work fourteen hours a day. It was most arduous work. But they only received the ordinary pay. There is nothing under the present system to prevent their being employed forty-two hours at a stretch before they receive any overtime payment. It should be remembered that the operators are only paid time and a quarter, when any overtime is allowed to them, whereas in accordance with the ordinary rate prevailing in the trade they should be paid at the rate of time and a half.
– Are they engaged during the parliamentary recess?
– On what work?
– On the same class of work as they do now. They have to work forty-two hours per week, and even if they put in that time at one stretch they would not get one farthing’s extra pay.
– They were engaged by Mr. Brain, a State officer, partly for State work and partly for our work.
– But they are working our machines and doing our work. It appears that they are to be kicked from pillar to post, simply because the Minister shelters himself behind a plea of divided authority. That is not a proper position for the Commonwealth Government to assume. We are responsible for employing them, and should see that they are properly treated. Another reason which they put before the Treasurer was -
That the position of all operators be properly defined, and an endeavour made to be gazetted as permanent employesin a similar manner to all other branches of the Federal Public Service.
That was an eminently reasonable request to make. But after an interval of six weeks, during which Sir John Forrest was incubating the matter, he hatched out the following reply: -
Department of Treasury, Melbourne,
Sir, 27th October, 1905.
In reference to the requests made by a deputation which you recently introduced to me respecting the position of the linotype operators employed in the Government Printing Office, I beg to inform you that, after giving the matter very careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to place these men on the permanent staff, and, further, that I can make no alteration as regards their rate of wages, and the matter of overtime.
He does not give any reason, except that he cannot do it. The letter goes on -
With respect to the question of holidays and vacation leave, the Government Printer informs me that these men will not be called upon to perform night work longer than about six months in each year, and, further, that arrangements have lately been made which will obviate their working more than the usual hours at night.
It has also been represented to me that to grant vacation leave, as asked for, would seriously embarrass the State Government in the administration of the Government Printing Office - possibly to the extent of constraining that Government to reconsider its arrangement with the Commonwealth.
For your information, I may explain that cue of the arrangements between the two Governments is that each permits the other the use of its machinery. This being the case, the linotype operators are not distinctively Commonwealth employes, because they also work for a State, and are also paid for such work by the State ; hence, they are practically only partially Commonwealth employes.
But the Commonwealth pays them.
– The State pays a proportion of the wages.
– But Senator Playford told us a little while ago that these men are not Commonwealth employes at all. Whom are we to believe - Sir John Forrest or Senator Playford? The letter proceeds -
I am also informed that these operators already enjoy the same privileges as State temporary employes, which are greater than the privileges enjoyed in private establishments.
The privileges are nothing of the kind. In private establishments, where the pay is higher, the work is not so arduous, and, in regard to overtime, the Commonwealth employes are distinctly worse off. The letter concludes -
Having given all these questions consideration, I regret being unable, under existing circumstances, to meet the wishes of the deputation which you introduced to me.
I have the honour,&c.,
The memorandum which I hold in my hand states that when the, linotypes were first installed by the Federal Government, in July, 1903, operators were engaged in accordance with the following advertisement, which appeared in all the daily newspapers : -
Wanted, thoroughly competent linotype operators, who can set at least 6,000 long primer corrected matter. Constant employment offered. Robert S. Brain, Government Printer, Melbourne.
Is constant employment casual employment, as Senator Playford a little time ago would have led us to believe? These men are undoubtedly in the constant employ of the Commonwealth.
– They happen to be . in the employ of the State, too.
– We allow them to do certain work for the State on the Commonwealth linotype machines.
– The State allows the men to do certain work for the Commonwealth. ‘
– In .whose employ is the engineer who has charge of these machines ?
– He is in the employ of the Commonwealth, as disclosed by the Estimates.
– Is there any logical or equitable reason why a distinction should be made between the engineer in charge of the machines and the men who work, the machines? The memorandum goes on to state that the advertisement resulted in the engagement of a number of operators from the various States of the Commonwealth, who threw up positions to accept these situations in Melbourne. The majority of the operators, thinking that the rate of pay and other conditions would be at least as good as those in private establishments, resigned good positions elsewhere, but found on their arrival in Melbourne that the wages paid was the minimum! in Victoria, namely, £3 10s. for both day and night, or £1 per week less than formerly. I do not desire the Commonwealth to pay extravagant salaries, but the Commonwealth ought to be a model employer. Instead of grinding men down to the lowest wages paid in any office in which these ‘machines, are used, the treatment accorded ought to be at least as good as that of men in outside employment. .1 have already pointed out that the hours of work are often cruelly long, extending on several occasions to fourteen hours a day, while the payment for overtime does not commence until the week’s work of forty-two hours has been completed. After repeated requests to the Government Printer for the former rate of wages of £4 ros., an increase of 10s. extra per week to those employed on night work was granted. As a matter of fact, I know of linotype operators, who are no more skilled, and do no more arduous work than those in the Commonwealth employ, but who earn as much as £7 and £8 per week. There has been some dispute between the operators and the Government Printer as to the quantity of work done. The specified work, according to the advertisements, was at least 6,000 per hour of long primer corrected matter ; and those honorable senators who are acquainted with the printing trade will know what that means. The linotype operators assert that they constantly set up more than 6,000 per hour. As I pointed out, these linotype machines are about the best in Australia, but, nevertheless, it is more difficult to set matter on them than to do ordinary newspaper work. The Commonwealth machines contain italic founts, and small capital founts, and the printing has to be done in a superior style, these founts being used for the emphasis of certain portions of the matter. This sort of work is seldom called for in a newspaper office, or if it is, those who do it are paid double. In the Commonwealth service, however, this work is not counted as anything; extra ; and I specially emphasize the point that the linotype operators are afforded no opportunity to verify the amount of work with which they are credited. A very moderate request made by them is that they shall be furnished with proof slips of everything they set, so that they may be able to check the Government Printer’s compulation ; but they have not been able to obtain that fair concession. The operators assert, and I know from my own experience, that one column of matter in the Government printing office is equal to a column and a half of ordinary newspaper work. I do not know, and I do not believe that .the operators know, what the system of computation is, but they assert that the average output per man at the present time is nearer 7,000 than the stimulated 6,000 per hour. That being so, the Government Printer can have no complaint as to the work done ; but I repeat that it is only fair that the men should have an opportunity of verifying the computation. In all outside establishments, it is customary to pay overtime after .the completion of the ordinary day’s work of seven and a half hours, or whatever time is agreed upon. But no later than a week or so ago, the men in the Government Printing Office were called upon to work fourteen hours at a stretch without receiving any special consideration. There is no doubt that their desire to be given the status of public servants in the employ of the Commonwealth, is reasonable. The engineer in charge of the machines is a Commonwealth servant, under the Public Service Commissioner, and his salary of £285 is set down in the Estimates now under consideration. Is there any reason why this officer should be under our sole control, and have an assured position, while the linotype operators, who work the machines, are left in their present anomalous position? It must not be forgotten that if the operators occasionally work for the State Government, the engineer in charge of the machines must do the same. I do not desire to press the matter, but merely to ventilate what is undoubtedly a grievance. I hope the Minister and the Government will take this matter into consideration, and do a tardy act of justice to men who sacrificed good positions in order to find employment under the Commonwealth. Unless our public servants are fairly treated, and satisfied with their employment, we shall not be able to obtain the efficient service we desire. No men have more arduous or more important duties to perform than these linotype operators, who must possess high technical skill; and they ought to get the same justice that is accorded to every employe of the Commonwealth.
– I do not profess to have the expert knowledge of the printing trade possessed by Senator Givens, nor to have been aware of the facts of this matter; but it must be admitted that the honorable senator has made out a fair case for inquiry in connexion with this very mixed Department. The advertisement which appeared in the Western Australian papers was worded as Senator Givens has said, and the first batch of men who came from that State to Melbourne understood that they were to be permanent employes under the Commonwealth. I notice that in the sub-division, where the provision is made for the salary of the engineer, State servants, such as Mr. Brain and the State classified staff of the Government Printing Office,” are also provided for, there being an allowance to Mr. Brain, and a sum set down as the proportion of the salaries of the classified staff. Why are allowances made to some, and direct salaries paid to others? A sum of £4,300 is set down for compositors, and I do not see why they should be so described, and yet the proportion of salaries spoken of as allowances. It seems quite clear that we do recognise the compositors and linotype operators as our special employes, and the other people as extraordinary employes, for whom allowances ought to be provided. The Minister might explain the system under which joint Commonwealth and State printing is done. How is the cost of work done by a linotype operator for the State separated from that done for the Commonwealth? What allowance, if any, do we receive from the State for work done for the State by our men, and what do we pay the State for work done for us by State officers? If we do not employ State men, do we receive anything on account of wear and tear of valuable linotype machines employed in doing State work? I think if the Minister makes inquiries he will find that the men referred to by Senator Givens are employed by the Commonwealth, and if they are employed under the conditions stated by the honorable senator, something should be done in the matter.
– There is almost certain to be difficulty and trouble in the management of one Department by more than one authority. Instead of setting up a Printing Department for ourselves, we took advantage of the fact that Victoria had already established a very excellent Government Printing Office. We found that we could make use of their machines and their type, and we also purchased some new machines for ourselves. It was decided that we could work conjointly, in such a manner that it would not be necessary for the Commonwealth to have a separate printing establishment and staff. The men employed do work partly for the Commonwealth and partly for the State Government, andthe method employed is that a computation is made under a system suggested by the Victorian Government Printer, by which computers keep a record of the amount of work performed by each man. The Commonwealth pays for the work performed for it, and the State for all work performed for the State. These men cannot be called Commonwealth officers, and so long as the present system continues, they cannot be classified as members of the Commonwealth Public Service. We cannot fix salaries and rates of pay for them, except in conjunction with the State authorities.
– Why do we do so in the case of the engineer?
– I suppose that is because the engineer is a special man, employed by the Commonwealth to look after the new machines, which belong to the Commonwealth.
– According to the honorable senator, he is working as much for the State as for the Commonwealth.
– The State employs men in connexion with other machines.
– The State has no linotype machines.
– What does the, State pay towards the linotype engineer’s salary ?
– Nothing, so far as I know.
– And yet they have the use of his services.
– We have the use of the States men also.
– But we pay an allowance for that.
– We pay an allowance for the work done by States compositors, and the State has to pay for work done for it by men who are chiefly employed on Commonwealth work. I repeat that these men cannot be called Commonwealth servants, as they are only partially employed by the Commonwealth. They are being paid in accordance with the practice followed all along in the Victorian Printing Department. Senator Givens has said that some men outside make as much as £7 or £8 per week, but those men would be working on piece, and I do not know what hours they would have to work. The honorable senator also said that men in the Government Printing Office of Victoria are frequently employed for as long as fourteen hours in a day. I find on inquiry that whilst a man may in one day work fourteen hours, twelve hours, or eleven hours, no man works for more than fortytwo hours per week without receiving extra pay.
– The honorable senator must admit that they have to work very long hours.
– They may have to do so occasionally, but if they have not to work more than forty-two hours in the week, I do not think they can complain.
– In outside employment, if men are asked to go on after they have completed a day’s work, they get overtime.
-Another point made is that the men are only paid the minimum wage, but I am informed by Mr. Brain that that is in accordance with the practice in the Victorian Government Printing Office. Further, so far as I can understand, the minimum and maximum are in this case the same, and I can therefore see nothing in the complaint. Then it is complained that only time-and-a-quarter is paid for overtime, and I am informed that that is what the State has paid for overtime all through.
– I can inform the honorable senator that the society rate is timeandonethird.
– I am informed that time-and-a-quarter is the overtime rate which has always been paid in the Victorian Government Printing Office, and that rate is fixed because of the very large number of holidays which these men get in the year. They get fourteen holidays in the year, for which they are paid. As the office is worked under a joint arrangement, we cannot increase the pay of these men, or bring them under Commonwealth Public Service conditions, without the consent of the State Government. The only solution of the difficulty, if there is one, is for the Commonwealth to have its own Government Printing Office. That is a question which, of course, must be looked into by the Minister in charge of the Printing Department of the Commonweal th.
– Does not the Minister think that it is a reasonable request that the men should be furnished with proofs of the matter they set, in order that they may be able to check the computation?
– Mr. Brain informs me that every man keens his own computation, and is paid according to it.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That is the information supplied to me. So far as I know, there is no objection to furnishing them with a copy of the computations, but I am informed that already they keep their own computations, and Mr. Brain is aware of no trouble arising in consequence.
– I am personally aware that they do not do so.
– I have given the Committee the information supplied to me. So long as the printing office is worked in conjunction with the State, we must expect that some difficulties will arise.
I agree that we should pay the highest rate of wages, and should be really good employers of labour. The State may not Hake the same view, and we cannot have two rates of wages paid to men doing similar work in the one establishment.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- The Minister of Defence is trying to blind us to the real facts of the case. He has endeavoured to relieve the Commonwealth Government of responsibility, on the ground that the authority governing the printing office is a divided one. We are told that nothing can be done, because these men are not working in our own office. Let me point out that some of the State printers are occasionally employed on Commonwealth work, but that does not’ affect the right of the State Government to deal with them in any way they think advisable. On the other hand, the men working our machines, and engaged principally in our work may, although’ occasionally thev do some work for the State Government, be treated by us in any way we think fair and desirable. These men are just as’ much employed by the Commonwealth as is the engineer in charge of the linotype machines, and they are just as much entitled to have their salaries set down in these Estimates. As a matter of fact. the State Government does not own any linotype machines at all. Those machines are ours, and the services of our operators are occasionally placed at the disposal of the State Government. I have no fault to find on that score, but that is no reason why our employes should not be treated in s.ny way we deem fair without reference to the State Government in the matter. Why did we not get a separate building ibo. which to place our linotype machines, or a separate building for our officers ?
– We are getting the buildings rent free, and we have made a very good bargain.
– Let us pay the rent.
– There need be no bickering between the State and Commonwealth Governments, and I am inclined to think that the arrangements which have been made are mutually advantageous; but there is no reason whatever why we should not treat the men to whom I have referred as Commonwealth servants, in just the same way as we treat the engineer in charge of the linotype machines.
– The honorable senator would destroy all discipline in the office.
– We should do nothing of the kind. They are Commonwealth officers, and Mr. Brain is receiving an allowance of £150 a year from us to look after them.
– Mr. Brain is not receiving anything. The money goes into the coffers of the State.
– Very well, to that extent, we can make Mr. Brain a Commonwealth officer, no matter whose coffers the money goes into. He can look after our employes, and see that they do justice to the Commonwealth’, and that the Commonwealth does justice to them. In the letter from Sir John Forrest, which I quoted, and which will go into Hansard verbatim, he stated, I suppose after consultation with’ the Government Printer, that arrangements were being made by which any necessity for long hours and; overtime would be obviated. He said that arrangements were being made which would do away very largely, if not entirely, with the necessity of working these long hours and with overtime. But, as a matter of fact, no less than a week or so ago the men had longer hours to work than they ever had before ; and occasionally, while Parliament -is sitting, and its members desire to get Hansard as soon as possible, especially towards the week-end, the men are necessarily compelled to work very long hours. I must say, in fairness to the men, that they do not complain in that regard. They are willing to stretch a point in order that the work may be done, and they so express themselves. But they should not be asked to work for less than they would get for doing similar work outside. I hope that the Parliament will insist upon the men being given a fair, deal, as undoubtedly they follow the most arduous occupation which is pursued by any servant of the Commonwealth. Before the vote is passed I desire to ask Senator Playford whether the men were told bv Sir John Forrest that arrangements were being made by which they would not have to work excessive overtime, or excessively long hours, and, if so, whether that promise has not and cannot be carried out?
– I quite realize the difficulty in which the Government are placed. We are, so to speak, carrying on our printing operations in the building, and, to a very large extent, with the machinery of the State ; and it is apparent that our employes cannot be put on a proper footing until the Commonwealth has its own printing office. It is, however, within the power of the Commonwealth Parliament to alter the rule with regard to overtime. In the statements read by Senator Givens, it is mentioned that very often the men work fourteen hours at a stretch, but are not entitled to overtime until they have completed a full week of forty-two hours. I interjected when the honorable senator was speaking that that was the rule right throughout the service. To my mind, it is a very bad rule, which ought to be altered at the very earliest opportunity. It was framed by men who either Have had no experience as workmen, or who, if they have had such experience, nave entirely forgotten the fact, because if there is one thing, which is more clearly recognised by the average worker than any other it is that his working power is, practicallyspeaking, his earning capital, and that if it is to be conserved to him it must not be rushed out in periods of lengthened work. For that reason, the eight-hours’ limit has been established in a very large number of occupations by the practice of the country; and when a man is asked to expend more of his labour in one day than he thinks is admitted by the rule to be proper, then the ordinary custom is to pay him at overtime rate. I claim that when these men work more than eight hours in any day they ought to be so paid.
– Then let us knock off their holidays and treat them in the same wayas men outside are treated. Let us treat fairly the men who have to find the money as well as the printers themselves.
– It is apparent that Senator Mulcahy is not very sympathetic towards these men.
– They are paid for fourteen days in theyear when they do not work : but men employed outside do not get that concession.
– Apparently my honorable friend objects to the men getting their holidays !
– They are earning £.4or £5per week, and, in my opinion, are doing very well indeed.
– Many public servants get twelve months’ leave of ab sence on full pay, and why does not the honorable senator vote against that rule? He will ignore extravagance in any Department of the Commonwealth, but when it comes down to the working man he is out with his cheese-paring implement, and is ready to pare every time. The Commonwealth ought to be a fair employer, and when it asks men to work more than eight hours at astretch it ought to be prepared to pay at an extra rate for the excess time. I know that a similar arrangement holds good in other Departments of the Public Service, but it has been made by men who have no sympathy with the workers, or who, if they have passed through the mill, have forgotten the fact, and are now the petty tyrants of the working man. In order to test the feeling of the Committee on the question of overtime, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Allowance to Mr. R. S. Brain, for services rendered in connexion with printing for Parliament,£150,” by £1.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - Since I addressed the Committee, I havehad an opportunity of seeing the Victorian Government Printer, and putting some questions to him. I asked Mr. Brain, “ Are the men who are set down in the Estimates as compositors and so on Commonwealth or State employes, partly to do Commonwealth work, and partly to do State work, or did you engage them on behalf of the Commonwealth?” He said, “ I engaged them on behalf of the State,” and, in the. circumstances, we have nothing to do with the question of wages or overtime. We have a distinct arrangement that a certain rate shall be paid for the printing and the work which is performed.
– The honorable senator contends that the men are really State employes?
- Mr. Brain informed me that they are really State employes. We have an arrangement by which we pay the State for the work done.
– Are the men fairly paid ?
– That is rather a question to be considered by the State Government, who contract with us to do our work at a certain rate, and employ the men. We repay the State for the work done.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- The information which has just been furnished by Senator Playford is satisfactory, because it helps to clear up the question. I have no desire to interfere with the working of the State Printing Department, and now that it is clearly understood, on the authority of Senator Playford, that these men are not Commonwealth employes, it will be satisfactory to the men themselves, inasmuch as they will know to whom to look for the redress of any grievance. In the circumstances, I do not intend to press the matter any further, though I think it would be well within the right of the Commonwealth to ask the State Government to see that the men who are partly employed on Commonwealth work should not be required to work unduly long hours1, or to submit to any worse conditions than those to which they would be subjected in doing similar work outside. If it should cost the Commonwealth a little more to get its work done in a satisfactory way, I feel sure that it would be willing to pay the additional sum. I intend to vote for the request in order to express my disapproval of men being compelled to work fourteen hours at a stretch without getting paid for overtime.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- If it be correct, as the Minister says, that these men are the servants of the State, and that the Commonwealth has nothing to do with them. I would point out to him that the estimate is wrongly framed. What are the items which we are asked to vote?
Wages and overtime : -
If the Minister’s statement be correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, the Estimates, ought to have been framed in quite a different fashion. Instead of being asked to vote the wages of compositors and others, we ought to have been asked to discharge an account to be rendered by the State Government for work done.
– The amounts are based on work done, and wages earned in doing the work.
– This division is a jumble of the most comprehensive character. When it suits the Government, it is one thing; but when it does not suit them, it is something else. It is most adaptable in its character. It is almost anything which the occasion may demand. In any case, I suppose that it is not worth while to pursue the subject; but I shall call for a division on the question of overtime.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - In order to get the matter fully cleared up, I would ask Senator Playford to say whether, when pay-day comes round, the money to pay these men is drawn by a cheque on the -Commonwealth’s bank or by a cheque on the State’s bank? If the money be drawn from Commonwealth funds, undoubtedly the men are Commonwealth employes, otherwise they are State employes.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).I wish to ask whether the operators sign a Commonwealth pay-sheet or a State paysheet? I insist that they are Commonwealth employes. I am surprised that a better business arrangement is not made.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - The operators sign a double pay-sheet, showing the work done for the Commonwealth and the work done for the State. They are, therefore, jointly employed by the State and the Commonwealth, and my previous statement was not quite accurate.
– Are they paid under the same conditions as are other men who do work for both State and Commonwealth ?
– Yes ; exactly the same.
– I do not see that it is possible for me to support the request moved by Senator Stewart, because the men mentioned by the Minister are employed in the first place by the State, and are doing work for the State. If, however, they do work for the Commonwealth, they are paid by the Commonwealth at the same rates as are paid by the State. If we determine that they are not paid sufficient for the work done for the Commonwealth, the only practical course is for the Commonwealth to establish its own. printing office and fix its own rates of remuneration. I suppose that when operators are doing work both for the Commonwealth and State, the time when they are employed on Commonwealth work is taken, and they are paid for that time at the same rate as when they are doing work for the State. If we say that they shall be paid more for doing Commonwealth work, the position which we shall create will be that the men in the Government Printing Office doing work for the Commonwealth must” be paid in accordance with one standard of wages, whilst the men doing work for the State must be paid at a totally different rate. There is no way out of the difficulty unless Parliament is prepared to establish a Commonwealth printing office. In connexion with all contract work for the Commonwealth, a rate is fixed below which men cannot be employed. I take it that there is a rate below which the men working in the Government Printing Office who are doing Commonwealth work cannot be paid. I cannot support the request, because I do not see that any benefit can accrue from it.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- My motion is intended to be an intimation to the Government that when the linotype operators are employed for longer than seven and a half hours in any day on Commonwealth work they shall be paid overtime. I am anxious that the good name of the Commonwealth shall be maintained, and that we shall not be written down as a lot of sweaters. If the men are compelled to work ten hours consecutively on Commonwealth work, they should be paid overtime rates for the extra two and a half hours.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Allowance to Mr. R. S. Brain, for services rendered in connexion, with printing for Parliament, £150,” by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Trade and Customs : Increases of Salary.
Divisions 33 to 41 (Department of Trade and Customs),£269,620.
– I understand that certain officers of this De partment have been granted increases during the present year, and that others to whom increases have been promised have not received them. Can the Minister give us any information’ as to whether the increases in the cases I have referred to are to be paid?
– A certain number of officers are awaiting the sanction of the Government to the classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner, when they will receive the increases that he has recommended. Honorable senators may notice a number of items in the . schedule, in which increases of salaries are put down as lump sums. The object is to provide increases to officers whose salaries are voted elsewhere; but the increases cannot be shown against the votes for the salaries in question until the Commissioner’s scheme is adopted.
– I was referring to those officers who are not under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner.
– What does the honorable senator mean by his reference to people outside the Public Service?
– I mean officers who are not under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commissioner.
– So far , as I understand, all the public servants are under the Public Service Commissioner, except, it may be, some casual employes.
– I mean heads of the Department, such as Collectors.
– The Collectors are undoubtedly under the Public Service Commissioner. Some of the heads of the Department, including, I think, Dr. Wollaston, are not under the Public Service Commissioner. I do not quite see the point which the honorable senator is raising.
Defence : Military Clerks : Military and Naval Defence: Compulsory Drill : Cadets : Militia : Volunteers : Goode Island : Accident Insurance : Labourers, examination and fees : Rifle Clubs.
Divisions 1 to 147 (Department of Defence)£589,981 .
– I desire to direct attention to an anomaly in connexion with the clerks employed in the Defence Department. Some seventy-nine of these clerks are under the control of the Public Service Board, and enjoy all the rights and privileges conferred by the Public Service Act;but there are about thirty-seven, known as military clerks, who are simply under the control of the Minister of Defence, and outside the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commissioner.
Will the Minister look into this matter?
– I have already done so.
– Some of these military clerks, although they have been in the service from fifteen to twenty years, are denied the benefits of classification, and the right of transfer, and promotion to positions in other Departments. The singular fact is that the naval clerks, the clerks in the Ordnance Department, the Pay Office, and the Rifle Clubs Office, are all under the Public Service Act. Under the circumstances, the military clerks feel their position to be rather insecure. While they have the advantage of permanent employment, they have no permanent classification; and this in itself is unsatisfactory. I believe that the regulations drawn up by the late Minister of Defence make no provision for increments or promotion in the case of these clerks. Although (their work has been classified by the inspector of the Public Service Board as equal, I believe, to second-class work, which, under the Public Service Act, carries salaries of from , £350 to£400 a year, the maximum salary for the military clerks is £260. It has been urged that these clerks must be kept apart, in order that discipline may be observed. That contention is hardly sound when we remember the other seventy-nine clerks, who are under the Public Service Act. and who are doing preciselysimilar work in the Defence Department. If it be a matter of discipline, they may readily be dealt with under, I think, section 73 of the Act. I am simply making these representations from what I have heard, and inquiries I have made; and all I can do is to ask the Minister to direct his attention to the matter, and see that no injustice is done. These men are denied privileges enjoyed by others with whom they work side by side; and, considering the length of service of many of them, it is only right that their case should receive due consideration.
– This matter has been considered by the Government, and by the Military Board, and it is felt by both that these men have just claims to be classified as ordinary public servants. At present, I believe that the highest salary that these military clerks may receive is between£250 and , £300 per annum, and their only chance of promotion is within their own little circle. The wider range of the Commonwealth Service is closed to them, and they naturally desire to be placed under the Public Service Commissioner, and receive the ordinary benefits of classification and increments.
– These clerks, in the matter of promotion, are even confined to a portion of their own Department.
– I believe that is unfortunately so. The Military Board has recommended, and I have approved of the recommendation, that these clerks be classified ; and now, I believe, the only trouble is with the Public Service Commissioner, who objects to them being placed under him. There is also some little difficulty created by the Defence Act, a section of which provides that certain employes, like these clerks, shall not become members of the Public Service. That provision was, I fancy, inserted for some reason by MajorGeneral Hutton. Then it appears that the ordinary public servants do not wish that these clerks shall be brought under the Public Service Act, onthe ground that their inclusion will decrease their own chances of promotion. The selfishness of human nature crops up in all the walks of life.
– That view is not entitled to any consideration.
– It is not; but I mention it as a fact which has been brought under my notice.
– Does the honorable senator say that there is a section in the Defence Act which prevents these men being brought under the Public Service Act?
– I have had the whole matter under my consideration, and, although I cannot remember the particular section, I am certain of the fact. I will do all I possibly can to have these clerks placed under the Public Service Commissioner. They are doing precisely the same work that the ordinary public servants do.
– In certain respects they are doing superior work.
– I dare say; at any rate, they are doing similar work, and ought to be placed in the same category as the ordinary public servant. I shall do all I possibly can to bring about that result.
– With a view to expedite business, I have hitherto refrained from speaking on these Estimates. I rise now, however, to present an aspect of the matter under discussion, which, so far as I know, no honorable senator has yet dealt with. Prior to Federation these military clerks were, in some of the States, under the State Public Service Acts, while in other States they were military clerks pure and simple. Under the circumstances, a great injustice is done to the military clerks who formerly enjoyed all the privileges conferred by the States Public Service Acts. I suggest to the Minister that, in view of the section of the Constitution which provides that all the accruing rights of transferred public servants shall be conserved, some of these military clerks may justly hold that their present position is unconstitutional. In Western Australia, for instance, these military clerks were previously classified as civil servants, while in Victoria they were regarded as military clerks. If my contention be correct, the clerks of the Defence Department in Western Australia have a strong claim to be brought under the Commonwealth Public Service Act. An important consideration is that the Commandants of all the States have recommended that these military clerks should be given the benefit of the Public Sen-ice Act, and this ought to materially assist us in forming an opinion. Many of the military clerks do more important work, and yet are paid less, than the clerks with whom they work side by side. I am quite sure the Minister does not agree with” that. I might mention that the figures quoted by Senator Best do not agree with those supplied to me. I have been informed that the number of officers who are described as public servants is 116, and the number described as military clerks thirty-nine, but that is perhaps unimportant. The fact that in some of the States before Federation these military clerks were under the State Public Service Acts; ,and the further fact that the States Commandants have reported in favour of the proposed change should be sufficient to induce the Minister to agree to it.
– In discussing the first item of the Defence Department, I desire to state the position in which I find myself in dealing with the various items of expenditure in these Estimates. The total amount we are asked to vote for naval defence is £47,609 ; and the total amount for military defence, £523,285. I am not sure whether I am alone in the view I take, but I have no hesitation in saying that if the votes were transposed, and we were asked to vote £523,285 for naval defence, and £47,609 for military defence, I should do so with a great deal of pleasure.
– The honorable and learned senator is not alone in that.
– I am glad to hear Senator Pearce say so.
– I said so on the second reading of the Bill.
– I intended to do so, but I allowed the opportunity to pass. I do not propose to make a second-reading speech now, but I take advantage of the opportunity to say, that in my opinion our expenditure on defence is absolutely topsyturvey. I do not forget that we pay an annual subsidy of £200,000 towards the Australian Squadron. I thoroughly approve of that. But I am not satisfied with an expenditure of £200,000 as a perpetual subsidy to the British Nav:. I am very strongly of the opinion that no time should be lost in forming an Australian Navy. I recognise that no effort has been made by the present, or any preceding Government of the Commonwealth in this direction. My chief regret in connexion with the Department of Defence is that we are doing nothing in the direction of acquiring a Navy of our own.
– Would it not be better to increase the subsidy?
– I do not think so.
– Surely unity is strength ?
– I do not think that the formation of an Australian Navy would in any way interfere with that unity which I agree with Senator Fraser is most desirable. If we were asked by the Imperial authorities to contribute more than £200,000 towards the Australian Squadron, it is possible that I should vote for it, because I am firmly of opinion that such a contribution must be maintained. But I should not stop there. I say, let us contribute that subsidy of £200,000, and if necessary, a larger subsidy, but do not let us remain idle, and content to acquiesce in that position. We should decide, and soon, I think, first of all, what is the total amount the Commonwealth can afford to expend in its defence. If we decide that we cannot go beyond our present total, which is about £800,000 per annum, then when the opportunity arises I shall make such an effort as I can, and I hope I shall receive assistance, to secure that a very large proportion of that £800,000, which is now, in my opinion, very unwisely spent upon military defence, shall be devoted to naval defence.
– The amount is over £800,000 this year.
– It is over £1,000,000 this year.
– I have considered the subsidy of £200,000, as in addition to . the amount appearing on these Estimates.
– There is also an expenditure on works connected with the Department and on defence material, amounting 10 £200,000 more.
– The Minister recognises that that is not likely to be a perpetual charge) and I think that expenditure should be spread over a number of years. The’ Minister is not suggesting that the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth for the purpose of defence will be about £1,000,000 ?
– It has been as much for some years.
– If that is so, it only strengthens my argument. I say that if we are going to spend £1,000,000 a year on defence, it is pathetic, and I can use no other word, that we should spend the paltry sum of £47,609 a year on naval defence.
– As at present constituted, it is not worth any more.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and, in fact, I very much doubt whether we are getting like fair value for the expenditure of £47,609. What I should like would be to see the Commonwealth getting good value, and there is nothing to prevent it, for an expenditure of £500,000 a year on naval defence. In my opinion, if it is necessary, in order to do so, we should take something off the amount set down in the military Estimates. If the Federal Parliament were prepared to expend £1,500,000 per annum on defence, I should very gladly do what I could to secure an annual expendi- ture of not less than £500,000 on naval defence. If we were to spend £400,000 or £500,000 on naval defence, it would not be very long before the Commonwealth might own a very efficient, though a small fleet, of first-class cruisers.
– Not first-class cruisers; they would cost £1,000,000 each.
– With all respect to the honorable senator, I think we could get first-class cruisers for something under £1,000,000 each. Even if they were to cost £1, 000,000, by making a determined effort, we could gradually acquire a small fleet of first-class cruisers, homogeneous in equipment, and especially in speed. I venture to say that if we had five, or even three, first-class armoured cruisers, we should be in a better position to join with the Empire in maintaining our defence, than we should be if we spent £50,000,000-
– In subsidies?
– No, not in subsidies, but on so-called military defence.
– Captain Creswell has formulated a scheme which would be much less expensive than that proposed by the honorable senator.
– I have read Captain Creswell’s scheme. He does not propose cruisers, and his scheme is practically limited to torpedo defence.
– A very good beginning.
– It is all we can do.
– I do not think that it is. When I consider the absolute waste of money on military defence, I do not think we should sit down and say that that is all we can do. I doubt whether any member of the Committee believes that the Commonwealth is getting anything like fair value for its enormous military expenditure, and I further doubt whether any honorable senator has any degree of confidence whatever in the defence which the expenditure on our present military forces would provide for the Commonwealth in time of need. In discussing defence matters, we are all agreed that our first line of defence is naval defence.
– It is our primary defence.
– It is; and by those who use that expression, it is intended to convey the opinion that it is our most important line of defence. And yet we spend a paltry £47,609 on our most important line of defence.
– We have the British Navy.
– I admit that we pay a subsidy towards the Australian Squadron, but it will be a very poor thing for Australia if for ever we are to remain content with paying a subsidy to the Imperial authorities. I never voted for the subsidy with any such idea in my mind. I thought it the right thing to do, but I always hoped and believed that it would be supplemented by our own efforts. We are spending a lot of money in the endeavour to train men for military service.
– We are not training enough of them.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question at present, but Senator de Largie will agree that, much as we spend in that direction, we have spent practically nothing in endeavouring to prepare men for naval service. What opportunity is afforded for the training of naval cadets under our defence scheme ? Is there any ? I should be delighted if an opportunity were afforded to enable, say, 1,000 boys to begin training every year as naval cadets in Australia, and if training ships and training schools were provided to meet such a demand. Instead of being prepared to train 1,000 boys for the Navy, as we ought to be. I find that we have made no preparation for the training of even fifty of the youths who might desire to enter the defence service of the Commonwealth by joining the Navy. I am aware that the Minister is giving the whole question of defence his serious consideration. The honorable senator has not yet formulated a policy, and I do not blame him for that; but if, when he comes to formulate that policy, he can give the Commonwealth some opportunity to direct its energy and spend its money in naval defence, be will do more for the real defence of Australia, and for the preservation of our self-respect, than all previous Ministers of Defence have done since the Commonwealth has been established. I hope that some other honorable senators will join with me in the expression of these opinions. I recognise that most members of the Committee, and most public men in another place and elsewhere, in discussing the question of defence, spend all their time in finding fault with existing arrangements, and offering suggestions which have all to do with military matters, and never touch upon naval defence. An agitation is got up, which I regret, as to whether Australia should contribute to the Imperial Squadron, but when that dispute has been settled–
– It ought first to be settled whether we should depend on our own efforts or on the Imperial Government.
– When that question is settled the whole question of naval defence disappears. We have heard objections to the amount of the subsidy; but if we decided no longer to vote £200,000 as an annual contribution towards the Imperial Navy, in my opinion it would become absolutely incumbent upon honorable senators who desire to bring about such a state of things to insist that we should spend at least £2,000,000 per annum to provide an adequate naval defence for the Commonwealth. What I suggest is that, availing ourselves of the magnificent protection we get by the subsidy of £200,000 paid towards the Australian Squadron, we should build up a fleet of our own, even though we may have to do so gradually. As a preliminary, and as a practical suggestion, I urge the Minister of Defence to say whether he cannot make a daring innovation and propose some adequate provision for the training of Australians for naval service.
– To a very large extent, I am in sympathy with the views which Senator Clemons has expressed. I hope that in the recess the Minister of Defence will settle down to the real work of formulating a defence scheme, and that he will keep in mind the method of naval defence which, of course, would entail a larger expenditure, and the further encouragement of rifle shooting, so that we shall have a larger reserve to draw upon for our land defence, and at a lesser expense than we now pay.
– That will mean disbanding a number of the militia.
– Well, if it does, it will meet the views of myself and, I believe, of a large number of the people of Australia. According to the Minister, our militia cost £8 6s. a head, and our riflemen only £1 10s. 3d. a head. The discrepancy between the expenditure per head is so great, when contrasted with the difference between the usefulness of a rifleman and a militiaman, as to deserve serious consideration from the Minister.
– If we are to have a field force, we must have a stiffening.
– How many riflemen have we?
– Thirty thousand.
– We have 30,000 riflemen at an individual cost of £1 10s. 3d. per year, but we have room for 60,000 riflemen. The Commonwealth will have to rely upon the riflemen as the great base of its land force. It was all very well for in Imperial officer like Major-General Hutton to lay down as the basic principle to guide the Commonwealth -in defence matters, that it should not have so many volunteers, but should convert them ‘into militia. The central thought in his mind was that in Australia there should be raised a certain, number of men upon whom the Commonwealth could call for service in foreign parts. But that idea is not shared by a great majority of the people of Australia. When he mentioned in a report that it was necessary for us to convert our volunteers into militia in order to maintain a higher standard of efficiency, what did he mean? The higher standard of efficiency, I take it, is a higher standard of usefulness. Does the Minister of Defence agree with MajorGeneral Hutton that the higher standard of efficiency should be efficiency in drill, without efficiency in rifle shooting? Let us recall the work which was done by the Boers without that higher standard of efficiency to which Major-General Hutton alluded.
– But the Boers had had a good deal of training.
– Yes, but nothing like military training in the sense in which Major-General Hutton used the term. Their higher standard of efficiency was efficiency in rifle shooting. In the South African war, a small army was able to resist an enormous military power, simply by reason of their higher standard of efficiency in rifle shooting. The back-bone of the land portion of our defence system should1 be efficiency in rifle shooting. That should go hand in hand with an immediate and a very large increase ‘in the number of cadets. It is simply absurd that Australia should have only 9.000 cadets, while New Zealand has 12.000. Let us either sweep away the cadet system, or put it on a more practical and common-sense basis. I believe that the Minister will give his serious attention to this point, but I am sorry to see that he is not in sympathy with the view held bv a number of us that there should be universal compulsory training to a certain extent. I think that any able-bodied man who is not willing to contribute a little towards the defence of his country or to qualify himself to render some service when called upon is not worthy of the rights of citizenship.
– It would cost two or three millions sterling a year to supply rifles and accoutrements.
– It would not be necessary to -incur that expenditure at the start. Either let us have no defence or let us have a defence system on a commonsense and sound basis. No doubt we have nol: -et arrived at that stage when we should be able financially to place a rifle with ammunition in the hands of every ablebodied man. But I believe that public opinion is gradually coming round to that view, and that eventually we shall have compulsory universal training for a short period, and1 compulsory military service. The principle that the Commonwealth can call upon every able-bodied citizen is, now embodied in the Defence Act.
– Only in time of war.
– What is the use of sending out a number of men in time of war, unless they have been trained in time of peace to defend’ the country ?
– Does the honorable senator propose to have compulsory military training without pay ?
– Yes, for a certain period of the year.
– Then the people will not stand it.
– I am sorry to hear the Minister enunciate that view, because I believe that they will when they see that the cost of defending the country or of always being in a position to defend it when necessary will be far less under that system than under the present system. What are we getting from the present system? As the Minister knows, we are getting very little indeed. We have to expend nearly £600,000 on the Military Forces, and £47,000 on the Naval Forces, which, I think, is entirely inadequate - quite irrespective of the naval subsidy which we pay to the Imperial Government.
– A great .deal of that, sum goes in forts and mines.
– And ammunition for the big guns.
– To my mind the most pleasing portion of ,the ‘Minister’s speech on. the second reading of the Approp riation Bill was that in which he referred to the report of the Director of Naval Forces,. I hope that the views expressed in his report by Captain Creswell will find a very strong supporter in the Minister, and that they will be carried out to a very large extent.
– That does not mean the cruisers which the honorable senator’s colleague talked about.
– Yes; it does. I do not altogether agree with Captain Creswell ‘s views as regards, the land forces. I believe that he would sweep them all away.
– Every one of them except the rifle clubs.
– We must have a land force as the backbone of our defence. If we foster the cadet movement, as the Minister has promised to do shortly, and encourage rifle shooting, so far as that can be done consistently with the state of the finances, and sweep away still more of theexpenditure on our present military system
– That is all very good, when speaking in a general sense, but when it came to a matter of details it could not be carried out.
– It is for us to speak in general terms, and for the Minister to carry out the details. He is a thoroughly practical man, and will, I believe, agree to a large extent with what I am saying. We should also go as far as we possibly can with the view which Captain Creswell has laid down in regard to our naval defence. It is satisfactory to think that if his view be adopted a large portion of the work could be done in Australia. I am informed that we could build a certain portion of the torpedoes and torpedo destroyers.
– And a nice mess we should make of it !
– I do not think we should. At any rate, that is an additional encouraging feature in Captain Creswell’s report. Originally., the Estimates contained an item of £22,500 for making saddles, and an item of .£10.250 for saddle-trees, stirrups, and bits. These items were omitted in the other House.
– And they decided to buy rifles with the money.
– That was a very sensible course for the other House to take. I am not objecting to the omission of the items, but to the fact that in the Defence Department there should have’ been officials who could place on the Estimates two items amounting to £32,750, unless the expenditure was necessary.
– That was done by the previous Minister.
– If it was done by the previous Minister, surely it was done with the concurrence, and upon the advice of his officers. I take it that a Minister of Defence would not recommend an expenditure of over £30,000 on such items as I have mentioned without the concurrence and upon the advice of his officers.
– It was part of Major-General Hutton’s scheme for the defence of the Commonwealth.
– If we have in the Department, as we apparently have, officers who are prepared to recommend an expenditure of £32,750 for the purchase of articles which are not wanted, it discloses a serious state of affairs. The other House knocked out that amount, showing that the expenditure was not required. The Minister of Defence does not propose to re-instate it.
– It was omitted at the suggestion of the Minister.
– This fact shows that a very careful watch should be kept on the Department, and on the work of every officer. It is evident that there are officers who have very unsatisfactory ideas as to our financial position, and who do not recognise that we have only a certain amount of money to spend, and that it is better to spent it on rifles and ammunition than on accoutrements, which are not absolutely required. I trust that the Minister of Defence will, during the recess, devote himself to the task of formulating a complete defence scheme for Australia, and will keep in ‘ mind the two important points to which I have referred. We must certainly incur heavier expenditure in relation to our Naval Forces. I hope that he will adopt, to a very large extent, Captain Creswell’s recommendations in that respect, and that, in relation to the land forces, he will see whether he cannot reduce still further the expenditure on our present military system. He should increase the expenditure for rifle shooting by purchasing more ammunition, and giving greater encouragement to able-bodied young fellows to perfect themselves in the art. It is worth while to consider whether it would not be a great incentive to our ablebodied men to practise rifle-shooting to hold out as a prize a certain sum of money for sending a team of rifle shots annually either to Great Britain or America to compete against the world’s best rifle shots. I have always been in favour of that course.
– It costs £2,000 to send a team to England.
– Surely we should get an adequate return.
– It would be better to make them compete on our own soil.
– Let us have competitions for rifle shooting in every State, but as a final prize to encourage rifle shots to make themselves as efficient as possible, let there be held out the bait that a team of a dozen men will annually be sent abroad to compete. Senator Clemons has been an athlete. He was a good cricketer. Was it not an incentive to him to excel, that he might be able to take part in Inter-State matches, and would it not be a further incentive that he might be able to take part in an Australian Eleven?
– The analogy is not quite complete, because the question of cost arises in relation to the rifle shooting.
– The ambition of every good cricketer is to get into an Australian Eleven. We should make it the ultimate goal of every good rifle shot to get into a team to compete against the world. The expenditure would be very small in comparison with the gain. I have had a great deal to do with rifle shooting in my time. It is a fascinating pastime, but an expensive one for a working man with a small salary. If there was a chance of riflemen eventually reaching the goal of their ambition, and being able to compete against the best shots in the world, that would be a great stimulus to them. It is worth the while of the Minister to consider the point.
– I agree with a great deal of what Senator Clemons has said. I do not know whether I am wrong in the statement, but I think that this is the first time he hast advocated a forward movement in Australia with regard to local naval defence.
– I have always felt what I have said to-day, but I have never ventured to speak on naval or military matters before.
– I have always held that view, and therefore I was glad to hear the honorable senator advocate it as he did. When we were dis-“ cussing the naval agreement during the first administration of the Commonwealth, I said that the proportionate allocation of money between our three lines of defence was altogether wrong. On our first line of defence, which is the sea, we are spending something like £247,000. On the second line of defence, forts and mines, we are spending something like £100,000. On our third line of defence, the land forces, we spend something like £500,000. That third line of defence will only become operative in case the British Navy is defeated or evaded, and a large military force is able to land in Australia.
– Great Britain spends something like half its defence outlay on its Navy, and half on its Army.
– And it has to be remembered that the British Army has to garrison distant territories. We are not sp situated. I myself think that we ought to adopt the same policy as Canada has done, and devote the greater part of our money towards an Australian Naval Defence Force, which could be used in conjunction with the Imperial Navy in time of war. It goes without saying that we are absolutely dependent for our protection on the British Navy. That must be so for a great many years to come.
– So is Canada.
– We should adopt tha same attitude as Sir Wilfred Laurier took up at the Colonial Conference, when he said that all the money that Canada devoted to naval defence would be spent on men and ships, and not on a subsidy. If we adopt a policy somewhat on the lines of Captain Creswell’s recommendations, we shall be doing something at least to prepare for local defence in a more efficient manner than is the case at present, when we have no protection at sea beyond that which we receive from the British Navy. Senator O’Keefe has spoken about the necessity for universal military training. I am satisfied that if we adopt that system we shall absolutely negative the possibility of having a system of naval defence. Whilst in Switzerland compulsory military training is necessary, in Australia we occupy an exactly opposite position. We are surrounded by the sea, and have to look principally to naval defence. Switzerland is surrounded by military nations, and has to look solely to military defence. There could not be a stronger antithesis.
– What suits the one country cannot possibly suit the other. ,
– Exactly. If we adopt compulsory military training it will mean the equipment and preparation of something like 500,000 or 750,000 men. We are told by the highest authorities that it is exceedingly improbable that any attack will be made on Australia by a large military force. We should therefare have armed, say, .three-quarters of a million of men, whose Tides and accoutrements alone would cost ^4,000,000 or £5,000,000, and _ should thereby negative the possibility of being able te devote any considerable sum oF money to naval defence- I am quite in accord with Senator O’Keefe when he urges that
Ave should encourage the rifle clubs in every way.
– They are doing very well.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.They are the cheapest means of attaining the greatest result in military defence. They cost us no more than about £I 10s. per head. We could ‘not have a cheaper and better service than is provided by a very large number of efficient riflemen. They provide an effective guarantee against invasion. I desire now to speak on another matter altogether. It has reference to the administration of the Defence Department. I refer to the advisableness of having more secrecy with regard to the details of our land and sea defence forces. Senator Pulsford mentioned this earlier in the debate, and there is a great deal of force in his contention.
– If” our forces are of no use, what is the good of being secret about them?
– If our forces are ineffective, there is all the greater need for secrecy.
– We must not have printed Estimates laid before Parliament if we are to have secrecy
– If public documents, like Hansard, containing details of our defence organization are read abroad-
– The Imperial Government publishes information in the’ Estimates, and elsewhere
– The Imperial Government, I am quite sure, does not publish such information as is published here- If foreigners read Hansard, and the other published reports which are placed before Parliament, they will have all the information they can require for use in case of hostilities.
– Does the honorable senator think that foreigners will read Hansard? They will be great fools if they do !
– I think they do. The information so obtained is all tabulated. If our defence’ scheme were complete - if we had an effective scheme, effective guns, and an efficient force - it would not matter very much if foreigners knew all about it. But when our guns are obsolete - or as Senator Playford said, “obsolescent” - and our defence scheme is incomplete, it is foolish to point out all our deficiencies for the benefit of foreign nations. I have before me a letter from a German gentleman who. occupies a position of some importance. I should like to read an extract from it, as bearing upon the important matter to which I have just referred. He says -
In reading your Australian papers and the speakers in your Legislative Assemblies, I have’ for many years been struck with the frankness with which you debate your military matters. In speaking with officers of different foreign nations, I have always found that they shared my opinion. Military matters such as you debate in Parliament or in the Senate are in other countries kept dark. One only has to read Hansard to know how many guns you have - if they are oi any use or not, what ammunition you have got, how your fortifications are manned, and by what class of soldiers, and so on. I think there should be a little more secrecy in the matter. A few years ago, when the war vessel called here, I. came in conversation with the Commander. Talking about Sydney Harbor, he laughingly told me that he had made a plan of Sydney Harbor, where all the details were marked. Asking him how be had been able to do this, he pointed to a bottle of champagne, and said, “ This is my informant.” Where so many are in the secret there is no secret. A German Commander some years back told me, “ If only the people (in Sydney) would talk less of their fortifications, and their military matters, it would be a great deal pleasanter to stay there. We do not want to spyaround, but they make me sometimes feel like a spy in honouring me with their unwarrantable confidence.” I write you this to show how other people think about such matters, and you may be sure that all such communications are taken notice of. In this matter you might learn a little from
Germany. The German army can remodel their artillery or their infantry entirely without a soul knowing it. It is an Historical fact that in 1866 the German artillery had proved insufficient, and that the French artillery was far superior. The enmity of France grew more threatening after 66 than ever before, so that it was. clear that eventually a war was unavoidable. When the Luxemberg incident took place, Germany would have gone to war at once had it not been that the remodelling of the artillery had not been carried through at the time (1867),and took two more years to get completed. This was kept so secret that the German artillery in 1870, when the war broke out, was a relevation to the French.
I know that there is great difficulty in keeping such matters secret - that, in fact, it is practically impossible to do so. When we are discussing certain forts - when we show exactly the condition of the guns and the mountings, the quantity of ammunition available, and give the most minute details - we do something which no nation in the world does.
– Does the honorable senator think that we ought to be like an ostrich, and keep our heads buried in the sand ?
– Does Senator Smith suggest that Parliament would give a Government power to spend £300,000 or £400,000 without wanting to know how the money would be spent?
– What I am saying is that we give more publicity to our military mattersthan does any other nation in the world, including Great Britain.
– We seem to get on pretty well !
– We have not yet had a war, so that we do not know how we would get on. With Senator Pulsford. I hold that when a document is sent out by the Home authorities marked “ private and confidential,” it is most inadvisable to practically disclose its contents by reading reports on that document.
– I could not make Parliament understand the matter without replying to the questions.
– The Minister ought not to give ‘ replies which practically disclose the contents of a private and confidential communication, made by the Home authorities.
– What possible harm could it do?
– As a matter of honour, there it is not right to disclose, in any way whatever, the contents of a confidential document, without the con sent of the sender. I do not intend to speak again on the DefenceEstimates, and shall say now all I have to say. The details of our fortifications, and so forth might be supplied to Members of Parliament, but ought not to be allowed to appear in public documents?
– If the information were within the knowledge of forty or fifty Members of Parliament, it could not be much of a secret.
– Papers containing information, which it is not advisable for other nations to possess, are circulated amongst members of the House of Commons, and are never made public. Especially when we have defences which are admittedly insufficient - when, at strategic points of Australia, there are guns which Senator Playford states are obsolete or practically useless - it is inadvisable to make the facts public. Before the defences are described publicly, they ought to be in a fair state of efficiency, and raised to a standard which would render us safe from ordinary attack.
– I should like to say something on the question of universal military training. I have a motion dealing with the subject on the noticepaper, and, as the Minister has promised that an opportunity will be afforded to us to discuss private business to a finish, I do not desire to take up much time at the present juncture. I should not speak at all now, if it were not for the fact that our practical Minister of Defence keeps making statements which are detrimental to the views embodied in my motion, and which are utterly contrary to the fact, and show that he is really out of touch with modern thought on the question of universal training and military defences generally. The statements which the Minister has made over and over again, and which to some extent–
– The honorable senator can say all this when replying to the debate on his motion.
– The statements have to some extent distressed us, because they are so utterly at variance with the spirit of the age in which we live. The Minister described my motion as dealing with an academic question.
– The honorable senator is now dealing with what I said on his motion. The honorable senator will have an opportunity to reply to me by-and-by, without taking up time which ought to be devoted to the Estimates.
– I am afraid that Senator Dobson may be anticipating the discussion on his motion.
– How is it possible to help anticipating. Senator Playford, in the last few minutes, has been uttering what he calls facts and truths, but what are really a violation of everything we have learnt about systems of defence; and I cannot sit here without contradicting him.
– Then contradict, and be done with it !
– I should like to be allowed to speak for five minutes without interruption. Senator Playford says that universal military training is an academic question ; but I would remind him that in every leading newspaper and magazine, the subject is dealt with by military men and other experts all over the world. If Senator Playford regards this as an academic question, all I can say is that his ignorance of what is going on in the world is colossal. The next contention of Senator Playford is that there is no need to have any compulsion in connexion with a national cadet force - that boys are so glad to have their caps braided and wear a uniform, that they will all join. That idea is absolutely contrary to fact. There has been a cadet system in Australia for ten or twelve years, and there are now only 10,000 cadets, as against 12,000 in New Zealand.
– The cadet system has not been hitherto under the Commonwealth.
– According to New Zealand experience, there ought to be now 60,000 cadets in Australia.
– So there will be - give us time.
– Senator Playford proposes to eliminate from Lt.-Col. McCay’s scheme the only point of worth in it, namely, the compulsion on all boys to drill, and on all schools to have drill in the curriculum.
– So there ought to be.
– But Senator Playford wants to trust to luck - to trust to the whim of the boy or the parent.
SenatorPlayford. - I could have done nothing had I waited until the States passed Acts on the subject.
– The honorable senator is exaggerating. The question of defence, and the training of boys for de fence, does not rest with the States, but with theCommonwealth.
– The Commonwealth cannot exercise compulsion on the States schools in this matter.
– I doubt whether any State Acts are necessary.It might be advisable, perhaps, to have Acts laying down certain conditions ; but, in my opinion, everything could be accomplished by conference and regulation. There would, of course, have to be payments made for the drill instruction given, and for the use of the schools.
– We could not compel the States to use the schools for the purpose.
– Possibly not; but, in my opinion, the States would allow the Commonwealth the use of the schools. I deny that Acts of Parliament would be necessary to that end.
– The honorable senator is altogether wrong.
– An Act of Parliament might possibly be required for some purposes, but it is not essential to the scheme. Senator Playford, the other day, told us that the conference of schoolmasters in Sydney had ended most satisfactorily. I take that to mean that the States will join with and help us, and allow us to use their schools and schoolmasters.
– Not under compulsion.
– They will allow the use of the schools and the schoolmasters in return, I am sure, for a mere pittance for the extra trouble and service. Having told us about the satisfactory conference in Sydney, the Minister, in the next breath, tells us that the system cannot be carried out without Acts of Parliament. The most extraordinary of all the arguments used by the Minister is contained in his question, “Do you mean to say that the Commonwealth will stand compulsory service without payment?” Here is colossal ignorance ! Itis recognised in all Englishspeaking communities, and by the highest authorities, that in return for the enormous advantages and privileges of citizenship - free education, free libraries, parks, amusements, and so forth - every boy, youth, and man ought to help to defend their country. But that sacred duty cannot be performed without some slight modicum of training. Just as we compel boys and girls to learn to read and write, lest their ignorance should prove a “danger to the community, we ought to provide some universal and national system of training every youth to assist in defending the country. In asking that question, the Minister shows that he does not understand the foundation principle on which this universal training rests ; and I am afraid that if he keeps repeating that fallacy it will “catch on.” I find that throughout the Empire whenever a man desires to oppose universal training he endeavours to show that it means conscription.
– It is un-English, too.
– There the Minister goes again. The honorable senator asked me to hold my tongue, and now hurls at me statements which are contrary to facts. Will the honorable senator dare to say that the duty to defend one’s country is un-English?
– There is no need for compulsion.
– Will the Minister deny that it is the duty of every man to assist in the defence of his country? Is that not the principle engrafted on the Act which he has to administer?
– Is there compulsory military service in England?
– What has that to do with the question?
– That is what Senator Playford referred to.
– The principle of universal training is advocated by the London Times, the Spectator, and by Lord Roberts and many other authorities.
– There have been a number of “cranks” advocating it for years.
– I did not quite catch the honorable senator!’ s last interjection. If the Minister and I cannot agree on this question, we must agree to differ, though I cannot understand the Minister of Defence daring to deny such a principle. Does the Minister contend that the young men of Australia owe no duty to their country in this matter? Does the Minister contend that to compel the young men to turn out in time of need is unjust or any violation of rights? As a fact, it is’ in accordance with our, rights to demand this service which they owe. I should have liked to have read to this practical Minister of Defence an article which recently appeared in the United Service Gazette. That article pointed out the folly of the action of Sir John Forrest in opposing Mr. Watson and the members of the Labour Government when they desired to support Mr. Hughes in his proposal for some system of universal training. The article is scatching and sarcastic when it points out” how Sir John Forrest opposed, on the one hand, such a system, and, on the other, assisted in passing an Act compelling men .to serve, some of whom have never held a rifle, or know anything of shooting - compelling these men to turn out in time of war, to be shot down like partridges. What is the use of calling out men who do not know one end of the rifle from the other? What is the use of imposing the duty of service, when not one hour or one shilling is devoted to training.
– Many of the contingents which were sent to South Africa were totally untrained.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Some of the generals who took part said that the war would have ‘been over in twelve months if the men sent had understood military drill, and, to some extent, had been trained soldiers. We have all read the lamentable accounts of men being drilled hourly and daily for months before they could be sent into the field in South Africa. Some of them had to be helped on to their horses, and almost held there, in order to serve as mounted men. It has been declared over and over again by experts that if England had had any form of universal training, or compulsory rifle shooting, which Lord Roberts suggests, the Boer war would never have been a fact. It was simply the knowledge of the weakness of the British Army, and of the power of a handful of skilful shots against thousands of men accustomed to city streets, but foreign to the veldt, which brought about the conflict in South Africa. With all this knowledge, information, and experience the Minister sits here, and says,: “ It is academic. The people would never stand it. I am going to have cadets, but I will not have a compulsory system.” We compel our youths to learn reading and writing, but we are not to have compulsion for physical training and drill. I believe, and’ I can give good authority for the belief, that the English nation is losing ground physically and mentally, because there is no di’scipline in the national life.
– Set up some gymnasiums.
– Because Senator Playford is a giant himself, and has begotten six sons, each of whom is over six feet high, he says that everything is well, and the race is. not degenerating. I tell the honorable senator that it is. “ I tell him, further, that a great deal of the increasing prosperity of the German nation is owing to the system they have adopted. The discipline, order, and method they have followed are recognised as the causes of their physical and commercial prosperity. I do not propose to sit here and be dragged two or three generations behind the age. The Minister will find in the Times, the Spectator, and the Fortnightly Review article after article dealing with this important matter. If the youths growing up in our midst are left without any discipline or order in their lives, what can we expect. They will know that they may have to become soldiers some day, and yet no attempt is to be made to drill them, or teach them anything of the ‘business. I am astoni’shed at the statement made by the Minister, and if, in the sYstem of defence which he formulates, he includes any of the fallacies which we have recently heard from him, I shall be found opposing it to the very uttermost. The despatch which has come from England is, in my opinion, a most important document. I have listened with very great astonishment to honorable senators talking about Australian navies and’ Australian naval defence, and I have wondered why Ministers have never conferred with the Imperial Government, and could produce no despatches from the Imperial authorities on this important subject. It4 appears now that they have received one such despatch. It is produced rather late in the day, but, so far as I can gather, it is. dead against our having an Australian Navy. Senator Smith has said that he believes in Australia starting a Navy of its own, and in his very next sentence the honorable senator added : “To act with the Imperial Navy.”
– That is what I have always contended for.
– When a war broke out I should like to know what would be the difference between one Imperial Navy defending the Empire, and a Navy ninetenths of which was Imperial and onetenth
– No; ninety-nine onehundredths.
– And! one little portion of which was an Australian Navy, if, as Senator Smith admits,, they would be bound to act together?
– We should contribute more in men and ships than we do in subsidy.
– I quite agree with Senator Smith. that the subsidy we contribute is shamefully inadequate, and I am glad the honorable senator knows it. We should be contributing more if we had 2,000 or 3,000 trained sailors ready for service in British ships.
– The honorable senator is now talking about an Australian Navy.
– I am absolutely at one with honorable senators in the suggestion that we should contribute more trained men than we do, There is no reason why we should not go in for training reformatory boys for such a purpose.
– The honorable senator wishes to train criminals for the purpose.
– Does Senator Playford mean to say that a boy who is sent to a reformatory school for three years, because he has stolen an apple, is a criminal ? 1 Senator Playford. - I have never heard of such a case. I have stolen apples myself, but I was never sent to a reformatory.
– I have stolen apples also, and I have stolen some which I found out later belonged to the honorable senator; but surely Senator Playford is not going to talk nonsense of that sort ? Boys sent to reformatories and industrial school’s should receive training. such as some lads are ‘now receiving on the Sobraon. Very excellent work is being done on that training ship. Senator Walker assures me that the young man who has won the swimming records of the world was a Sobraon boy. Does Senator Playford mean to say that these boys are all criminals ?
– No, no.
– Such’ lads can be trained to make the finest seamen. These reformatory boys are lads who have been sent to a reformatory school for some simple theft, or something of the sort, inorder to be reformed ; and surely the honorable senator will not say that they are criminals? I find it impossible to agree with any statement the honorable senator makes. We want a system of education in which every lad will be trained to be what he is best fitted for, and under which all will have equal opportunities. I am against this idea of an Australian Navy.
– For ever?
– I do not say for ever.
– Then why not begin now ?
– This is not the time to start an Australian Navy. If we were to make a beginning now, in ten years’ time everything we had got together would have to be displaced for something newer and better. If honorable senators will read Senator Playford’s speech on the second reading of the Bill, they will find that it bristles with statements about obsolete, and partially obsolete, guns, which have had to be set aside as useless. If we set to work now to create an Australian Navy, in ten years’ time we may find that torpedo boats and destroyers are considered of little value, and that submarine vessels will have supplanted them. If we once launch out upon expenditure in the creation of an Australia Navy, we shall not know where it will end. As I understand the despatch which has been received from the Imperial Defence Committee, which comprises the most experienced naval experts of whom the world knows, and men who have been considering questions of defence for the last thirty years, the statement is made that immediately torpedo boats and destroyers are necessary for the defence of Australia, they will be supplied, but that if anything happens to change the aspect of affairs in Europe, the whole matter will require to be reconsidered, and therefore, in the opinion of the naval au thorities the time is not ripe when we should be called upon to expend over £2,000,000 in providing torpedo boats and destroyers for Australian defence. I should not dare to express my own opinion in this matter, but I am quoting the highest authority we can get. The Imperial Defence Committee certainly know quite as much about this subject as does Senator Clemons. Although I have the very greatest respect for that honorable senator’s gigantic intellect, it is impossible that he can always be right. If we have the Imperial Defence Committee to advise us in these matters, one cannot be blamed for quoting their opinion.
– I think the honorable senator is quite right, and I agree with him.
– I am very glad that my honorable and practical friend, Senator Fraser, does agree with me.
– We have spent £3,000,000 on military matters since the Commonwealth was established.
– That is not a fair way to put it. We are spending a little less now than the States spent before we tied the knot. If I were to go back upon Senator Clemons’ expenditure in cigars, I might find that it came to an alarming sum. The question is what can we afford to spend per annum?
– We are spending about £600,000 per annum on military matters, and what are we getting for it ?
– With our enormous coast-line, it would be impossible to have torpedo boats and destroyers so stationed as to be able to defend every part of it. If the time ever came when the Imperial Navy would be beaten, and the Empire had to give up the command of the sea, with 20,000 trained men here, Australia might be taken from us. But if we had a citizen army and an armed people in Australia, with 100,000 trained men, and 200,000 or 300,000 rifles, I do not know that any power would be able to take possession of this country. With these remarks I shall resume my seat ; but I shall have something further to say on the subject when my motion comes before the Senate
– If this debate teaches us anything at all, it is that we had better accept the Estimates submitted by the Government, and rely upon the capacity and good sense of those who have been appointed to look after this Department. Senator Clemons has proposed a scheme, and it has been immediately criticised by Senator O’Keefe, who has proposed another.
– I hardly proposed a scheme ; I did not pretend to do so.
– It has been pointed out by Senator Dobson that a vessel which is in first-rate fighting order this year may have become quite obsolete in six years’ time, and in the circumstances it would be monstrous for us to launch out into the expenditure of an enormous sum of money to provide a system of naval defence which might be quite useless in a few years’ time.
– Look at what Great Britain does. She spends as much on her Navy as on her Army.
– Great Britain has an enormous revenue. She is the work-shop of the world.
– It is a question of proportion.
– To a country like Great Britain an expenditure of £1,000,000 per annum is nothing. But we are all workers here, or ought to be, and 1 am entirely opposed to the idea of universal armament. I think we had better develop our country, and make whatever defence we have provided for as efficient as possible. There is no reason why we should undertake immense expenditure for this purpose. Let honorable senators consider what some other countries do. Take, for instance, a country like Denmark, in themidst of warlike neighbours, and we shall find that in some respects our expenditure on defence exceeds that of Denmark. Is it rational that we should rush into the enormous expenditure proposed ?
– Let the honorable senator propose to knock £300,000 off the Military Estimates, and I shall vote with ham.
– I object to knock off any sum unless it is clearly shown that it is advisable to do so. 1 think that we should rely upon the old country for the defence of our coast. The recent information we have is that Great Britain is now going to spend a large sum of money in making the straits which lead to Eastern Australia, almost impregnable. That circumstance, taken in conjunction with the recently formed alliance, will provide ample security for this country, if we make our Military Forces efficient. I trust that honorable senators will not be led away by this craze for enormous expenditure upon defence. It is ridiculous in a country like this. Let us consider what Canada and the United States have done. Until within recent years, when the United States has taken a part in European politics, they practically had no Navy at all.
– What are they doing now? They are rapidly increasing their Navy.
– Canada has refused to contribute to the Imperial Navy.
– She is building three cruisers of her own.
– Canada believes that she is now in a position to provide her own ships.
– She is commencing to do so.
– On a very small scale.
– That is the way in which we should commence.
– The great power of the mother country is as ready now for the protection of Canada as before the Dominion possessed any ships.
– Then there is no necessity for our paying a subsidy of £200,000 ayear.
– The honorable senator must know that a hostile fleet could very easily destroy the few vessels that Canada possesses.
– The honorable senator’s argument was that Great Britain is prepared to do as much for Canada, though she pays nothing towards Imperial defence, as for Australia, and in that case why should we pay a subsidy of £200,000 ayear?
– Great Britain, as no doubt the honorable senator is aware, has been garrisoning certain places in Canada, until the Canadian Government are ready to undertake the work for themselves. It is all the more credit to them if they like to undertake that work, but we are not in a position to do what is proposed at the present time. If we allow the Government to develop a proper military force on economical lines, that is all we can expect of them. In the circumstances, I think that all we can do is to allow ourselves to be guided by the expert advisers of the Government, and accept the Government proposal.
– We have heard a great variety of opinions expressed on this very important subject. I do not claim to be a naval expert like Senator Clemons,ora military expert like Senator Dobson, and therefore I shall offer my few remarks with the greatest diffidence. I do not think that we are in a position to establish such a Navy as would be an effective defence against the large navies which exist in other portions of the world.
– No one has suggested anything but harbor defence.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator that harbor defence is absolutely necessary. But our land defence ought, I think, to be placed in a proper position. In Australia, the commonly accepted idea is that we should have a citizen defence force.
– A compulsory one?
– I am not in favour of a compulsory force: I do not think it is practicable under present conditions, or necessary.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a citizen defence force, then?
– I mean a volunteer force. In Australia, we have an Army of 23,751 men, of whom 1,360 belong to the permanent forces, 16,540 to the militia, and 5,850 to the volunteers. We expend £130 a head onthe permanent force, about £9 a head on the militia, and £2 a head on the volunteers.
– No, £6 odd.
– The honorble senator is including the cost of the rifle clubs. .
– No; the rifleman costs only about 30s. a year.
– The volunteers cost £6 8s. 6d. a head.
– I am taking the figures from the Estimates. On behalf of New South Wales, we are asked to vote £6,357 for 2,490 volunteers, £3,500 for cadet corps, and £13,405 for rifle clubs. So far as direct payments are concerned - that is, without taking into account the miscellaneous expenditure - I find that the volunteers cost about £2 a head. That is very cheap.
– In my secondreading speech I gave the figures, and the honorable senator will find that the volunteers cost £6 odd a head.
– The estimated expenditure on the Military Forces this year is £591,431, and for that amount we are only able to put into the field a small army of 24,000 men. What the Government ought to do is to abolish the militia system, and to largely increase the expenditure on the volunteer force. We must have a small permanent force which will be the nucleus of our Army ; but the paid contingent ought to be abolished. It is impossible to run a partially-paid force and a volunteer force side by side. That is abundantly proved by the small number of volunteers we have. Year by year, the number of men who join the volunteers is decreasing. If mv suggestion be adopted, I calculate that for the same expenditure we ought to be able to put nearly 50,000 men into the field.
– We would not get them.
– I believe that we should get a very large number of volunteers if we offered reasonable inducements.
– If we gave them pay, as was done in South Australia., we should get them right enough.
– I do not think it is necessary to give them pay. I believe we should get a very large number of men to join our volunteer force if we offered prizes for shooting, gave them a certain amount of free ammunition every year, and as much additional ammunition as they liked to use at cost price.
– We let them have ammunition at below cost price now.
– But only a limited quantity.
– We cannot run the two systems side by side. I know a number of men who are in the militia. Why did they join? Not because they were anxious to take part in the defence of Australia, but simply for the sake of the money they would get.
– I do not think that was the case. They do not get very much.
– I am well aware of that, but the little they do get is an inducement. What I am pointing out is that we cannot afford to pay the money.
– If they are going to defend the rich man’s property, why should they not be paid for it?
– We are trying to inculcate into the minds of the people of Australia the desirability of every man taking his share in its defence. What greater sacrifice could any man make for his country than to offer up his life for it, whether he be rich or poor? The rich man ought to pay more in taxation than the poor man, and if he does not he should be called upon to do so. But to attempt to make invidious distinctions between the rich and the poor in the matter of defence seems to me to be altogether beyond the question. We have had a great deal of loose general talk on the subject of defence, but no attempt, so far as I know, has yet been made to lay down any definite lines upon which the Government ought to proceed. I have a proposition to make, and it is that the militia force should be disbanded, not now, but within a certain time, and that the money which is now spent thereon should be diverted’ to the maintenance of the volunteer system. In order that I may ascertain the mind of the Committee on the subject, I propose to move that the item of £45,726 for the militia, or partly-paid force, be reduced by £1.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will refrain from moving the request at present?
– Yes. Some point should be given to the discussions which take place here from time to time. We have had a great deal of talk on naval and military defence, but we never seem to make any progress towards the adoption of a definite scheme. Here is a scheme which I propose, so far as our land forces -are concerned. If the Committee approves of my idea, it will support the request which I propose to move when the general discussion is concluded. If it does not, well, I do not know whether that will be taken as an, instruction to the Government to continue the present system or not, but it will look very like it, and if it turns out to be the case, then we shall have some idea as to what the wish of honorable senators is.-
– The general question of defence has been under discussion for a good while, and we have had some very interesting speeches. Senator Clemons opened the discussion by advocating the establishment of an Australian Navy, and other senators seem to regard the development of the land force as being the more desirable. Senator Dobson gave us an interesting speech as to the universal military training of our young people. I am entirely in favour of a citizen defence force as against a standing Army. I believe that when the call is made the people will show themselves to be ready, willing, and, I believe, capable of successfully defending Australia. I think Senator Dobson is advocating a course which should be taken by the Commonwealth when he presses his proposal for the universal training of our young people. But it ite a mere confusing of the issue to confound that with compulsory military service, because it is not military service at all. Whenever Senator Dobson submits a concrete proposal, I shall be found voting in favour of the universal military training of our young people, because I believe that, in addition to enabling them, when they have grown up, to be effi cient defenders of the country, it would have a valuable effect in developing their physique and promoting their health. But I do not agree with the honorable and learned senator that we should not start the nucleus of a Navy straight away. It is just as important for us to be selfreliant in the matter of naval defence as in the matter of land defence. Senator Clemons was perfectly right when he urged that we should start as soon as possible the work of building up a Navy. I am ready to vote millions for our own defence when it is- necessary, and we can do it in our own way, but not a shilling in the way of tribute. That is all I wish to say on the. general question. One of the most important branches of the Defence Force is the instructional staff. The value of our forces as efficient fighting men depends largely upon the instruction given to them by that staff. Last year I moved for a return to show the status and pay of the instructional staff in The different States. Such a return was afterwards tabled. It shows some very curious anomalies. Soon after the return was tabled, a classification of the instructional officers took place; but, strange to say, although Federation had then been established for about four years, the classification was made on a State basis instead of on a Commonwealth basis, with the result that there were the most extraordinary differences in the classification and pay of officers in the different States. It is extremely difficult to understand on what basis that classification was made. The warrant and noncommissioned officers of the instructional staffs are divided into four classes - (1) warrant officers, (2) sergeants-major. (3) staff sergeants, and (4) sergeants. Take the position of the Queensland instructional officers, and compare them with their fellow officers in the other States. We find an enormous difference between the salaries paid to men belonging to the same classes in the various States. I have prepared a return, which shows the state of things exactly. It is taken from the official records, and no one can dispute its accuracy. It shows the position at a glance. The New South Wales instructional staff officers in class 1 receive ,£242 16s. per annum. The same officers in Queensland receive £193, showing a difference as against the Queensland officers of £49 16s. In class 2, the New South Wales officers receive £208 6s. 8d. ; the
Queensland officers receive £173 7s. 6d. ; showing a difference against the Queensland officers of £34 19s. 2d. In class 3, the New South Wales officers receive £i73 ns. 3d. ; the Queensland officers receive £364 6s. 7d. ; showing a difference as against the Queensland officers of £9 3s. 8d. In class 4, the New South Wales officers receive £154 I2s. id., and the Queensland officers £140 3s. iod. ; “showing a difference against the Queensland officers of £14 8s. 3d. The instructional officers in New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia all receive higher rates of pay than they do in Victoria, J South Australia, and Queensland. I have worked out the averages for the whole Commonwealth. The average for the Commonwealth in class 1 is £205 is. 9d. ; the average in Queensland is £193; showing a difference of £12 is. 9d. as against Queensland officers. In class 2 the average for the whole Commonwealth is £190 17s. ; the average in Queensland is £173 7s. 6d. ; making a. difference of £17 9s. 6d. against the Queensland officers. In class 3 the average for the Commonwealth is £172 4s. 1 id. ; the average in Queensland is £164 6s. 7d. ; showing a difference of £7 18s. 4d. against the Queensland officers. In class 4 the average for the Commonwealth is £149 us’, iod. ; the average in Queensland is £140 3s. iod. ; showing a difference of £9 8s. against the Queensland officers. If the Victorian and South Australian rates of pay are compared with the average rates for the whole Commonwealth, similar differences against the officers in the two States mentioned appear. I have only worked out the figures affecting the State which I represent, because I am quite sure that honorable senators from the other States will look after their case. I want to know from the Minister of Defence why these anomalies exist. Is it because of economy? Is it because of anything that was done by the States prior to Federation? It must be remembered that the officers of the Public Service were not classified on a State basis. The whole service was classified on a Commonwealth basis. In a similar manner the officers of the instructional staff should be classified in accordance with a Commonwealth scheme. If it is said that the differences which I have shown are due to economy, I reply that I have worked the matter out to the last fraction, and the result shows that if the whole of the mem bers of the instructional staff in all the States were paid at the rate of the New South Wales instructional officers, it would not cost the Commonwealth £500 more than is now paid. A miserable saving of that sort is too small to be offered as a reason for continuing the dissatisfaction that exists amongst the officers. I have here a list showing every instructional officer in every State of the Commonwealth, and the salary which he is receiving. Any honorable senator can tell at a glance by looking at this document what salary is paid to any officer. The preparation of the paper has occupied a great deal of time, and caused great trouble, but it gives valuable information in a very convenient form. I am prepared to place it at the disposal of the Minister, in order that he may be able to appreciate the position precisely. It is a ‘remarkable fact that the salaries are higher in New South Wales, Tasmania, and in Western Australia than they are in the other States; and it is also remarkable that they are highest of all in New South Wales. That ought not to be so. When, as I have pointed out, the total amount that the Department saves by perpetuating these differences is less than £500, I think I have said sufficient to convince the Committee that there is a genuine ca.use of complaint. In New South Wales, the highest paid officers in the ‘instructional staff receive £270 per annum. There isa difference of £78 8s. 6d. between that and the salary paid to another instructional officer. Yet both officers belong to the same State. So that even officers, in the same class, and1 in the same State are not paid at the same rate. The position of Tasmania is peculiar in this respect. In that State, there are men in class 2 who receive on an average £15 per man more than their seniors receive in class 1. Can the Minister explain that?
– I have not worked out these details.
– They require to be worked out. If the Minister’s officers will glance at the document which I hia ve before me, they will find the particulars to be correct.
– Of course, there is a maximum and minimum rate of pav.
– But how is it that in Tasmania there are officers in class 2 who are receiving a higher rate than their seniors in class 1 ?
– What officers are they?
– Officers of the instructional staff. These facts are not apparent to honorable senators in going through the Estimates. It takes a great deal of labour to find out the truth. The details are bulked in the Estimates in such a way that it is not possible to find out that such anomalies exist. I am quite certain that if the true state of affairs had been known Parliament would not have allowed it to continue so long.
– Glancing at the document which the honorable senator has produced, I find that” the same kind of thing exists in Queensland. One officer in class 2 is receiving £202, whilst an officer in class x receives £190.
– Of course; the salaries vary.
– According to last year’s Estimates, £14,16315swasthe total to which the New South Wales instructional officers were entitled at the maximum regulationrates.
– New South Wales officers, when taken over by the Commonwealth, were being paid at certain rates, and we had to keep up those salaries.
– Is it not a fact that we are striving after uniformity under Commonwealth law?
– Butwe cannot make the rates of pay uniform at once, if differences existed at the time the officers were taken over. The regulation rates for officers in the first class are 10s. 6d. or11s. 6d. per day. Then, again, some officers have to keep horses, and are allowed something on that account.
– Is the regulation rate in Queensland the same as in other States ?
– Yes, just the same.
– Then how is it that different officers receive different salaries?
– There is a maximum and a minimum. In some States there is a greater number of officers receiving the maximum than is the case in other States.
– What is the use of dividing these officers into four classes, if some of those in a lower class receive higher pay than some in a higher class?
– I should imagine that a man when he joins goes into the first class at a low rate of pay in the same way as a policeman commences at a wage of5s. 6d. or 6s. a day, and works up to 10s. or 12s.
– The present rates of pay are as follows: -Class 4, £136 17s. 6d. to £146; class 3, £155 2s.6d. to £164 5s. ; class 2, £173 7s. 6d. to £182 10s. ; class 1, £191 12s. 6d. to £210. There is no difference to account for the disparity in the figures I have quoted. How is it that they are all senior officers in three of the States, and all juniors in the other three States. Can the Minister explain?
– No, I cannot; but I shall be glad to have the honorable senator’s figures, and see that justice is done, as far as I can.
– I should like to compare the salaries paid to the military instructors with the salaries paid to the military clerks. I make bold to say that the salary of an instructional officer should be quite as large as that of a military clerk. The work of the former is, at least, equally valuable to the Commonwealth.
– The highest salary of a military clerk is £355, and the highest of a garrison sergeant-major is £246.
– The salaries of the military clerks are as follows: - Class 1, which ranks with warrant officers, £285 to £335;class 2, which ranks with sergeantmajors, £220 to £260; class 3, which ranks with staff sergeants, £170 to £210; class 4, which ranks with sergeants, £70 to £160. These salaries are very much higher than those paid to instructional officers ; and thereought to be no such disparity.
– Instructional officers have often to do a lot of clerical work.
– That is so. Instructional officers must have as much ability and training as any good clerk. It must be recognised that it is easier to get an efficient clerk than an efficient instructional officer; so that, if anything, the remuneration paid to the latter should be the higher. As it is, however, the clerk, who has not nearly such onerous and important duties, is paid the greater amount. I do not wish to weary the Minister by going fully into the details, though I have them here all set out in a most carefully prepared statement, which I believe to be accurate in every respect. Some reasonable attention ought to be paid to this matter, so as to remove the anomalies Ihave pointed out. At present there is a great deal of dissatisfaction, which cannot be of advantage to the Defence Forces, which we all desire to see placed in an efficient state. If, however, discontent is caused by unfair and invidious treatment, we can scarcely expect that high standard of efficiency which we all regard as desirable.
-Col. GOULD (New South Wales). - I am sorry I was not here during the second-reading debate, when I should probably have spoken at greater length than I shall have an opporunity to do on the present occasion. The question of defence is one of preeminent importance, as has been clearly shown by the . discussion that has taken place while the Estimates have been before us. When we bear in mind that defence was one of the foremost objects of Federation, it is seen at once that it is a subject to which great attention ought to be paid. While I congratulate the Minister on the candour with which he placed before us the lamentable state in which the Commonwealth stands so far as defence is concerned, I very much regret that he has not laid before us some definite scheme to remedy the many defects so plainly and distinctly pointed out. The speech of the Minister of Defence follows, in respect of its candour, the lines of that I heard delivered at a public meeting in Sydney by one of his colleagues, Mr. Ewing. I was amazed that a Minister of the Crown should deem it necessary to take the public so largely into his confidence in regard to the position of the defences. I know that when the Government come to Parliament for the purpose of obtaining money for defence purposes, ir is always regarded as necessary to give the fullest possible information, in order to induce members to grant Supplies. There is no necessity, however. to expose all our weaknesses, nor do I think that honorable senators are reasonably entitled to expect the details to be made public, unless the Minister accompanies his statements with some remedial scheme. The history of the military defences in Australia goes back a great many years anterior to Federation. Officer after officer, brought out from time to time for the purpose of advising the different State Governments, has pointed out the necessity for granting larger sums of money, and strongly impressed upon the authorities the desirableness of having some Federal scheme of defence, under one control, instead of a separate organization in each State. Without some Federal scheme, they contended, it would be impossible for Australia, as a whole, to adequately defend herself. The first Commonwealth Govern ment endeavoured to obtain a military adviser who would be in a position to give an opinion as to the be3t method to defend Australia*, and they chose Major-General Hutton. That gentleman did not come here as an unknown man, or as one whose opinions on defence matters were not pretty well known. While Major- General Hutton was in command in New South Wales, some years before, he was engaged with the representatives of other States in conferences on the defence question, and ait that particular time he pointed out how necessary it was to evolve some better scheme ; and when he assumed control under the Commonwealth he expressed a very similar opinion. How was that opinion received? Major-General Hutton came here with a great reputation, as an officer well fitted to be the trusted adviser of the Government and the Commonwealth generally. But no sooner had his scheme been placed before Parliament than steps were taken, not simply to economize in a reasonable way, but practically to destroy the efficacy of the proposals by reducing by large sums the money that Parliament was asked to provide. In that I think- a very great mistake was made. We should have been better off had we accepted Major-General Hutton’s advice, so far as concerns the re-organization and strengthening of. the Defence Forces.
– Major-General Hutton proposed to re-organize the forces on altogether a wrong basis.
– Honorable senators know perfectly well that the scheme of organization submitted was such as they might reasonably have expected from Major-General Hutton.
– Major-General Hutton proposed to re-organize the forces for over-sea purposes, instead of for Australian defence.
.- That was not essential to the carrying out of the scheme proposed. Major-General Hutton pointed out that we ought to have a force of 30,000 or 40,000 - I speak from memory - on a war footing; but he was invited to reduce his Estimates by something like £170,000. That, of course, interfered very materially with his scheme. Exception has been taken to Major-General Hutton’s suggestion that we should rely largely on the partially-paid or militia forces. I know there ‘is an idea amongst people in Australia that we ought to rely absolutely on what is called a citizen, or purely volunteer, force. When the Defence Forces were originally started, we relied on citizen soldiery - a purely volunteer force. That force, however, was not found to work as efficiently as it ought to have done. I know that in New South Wales, at any rate, a law was subsequently carried to provide that, after a certain length of service, the members of the force should be entitled to a grant of land. That plan was not found to work satisfactorily, and then was instituted the partially-paid system. I can speak of these matters from personal knowledge, because I have served in the forces of New South Wales under the purely volunteer system, under the system of land grants, and under the partially-paid system. From my experience I am convinced - and in this I am sure I shall be corroborated by others who have seen similar service - that the partiallypaid system is unquestionably the best. The reason is not far to seek. In the first place there is much better chance of discipline being observed, and of the work being carried out on’ military lines. With a purely volunteer force, many men join, I admit, for the love of soldiering; but, at the same time, they are not imbued with the same idea of discipline which attaches to a man who recognises the fact that he is paid for certain services to the State. It is perfectly true that it is the duty of every citizen to do what he can to defend the State. At the same time it is, unfortunately, found that volunteers will not accept the restrictions which they deem unnecessary, but which are really imposed in order to make them more efficient ; and the result is a lack of discipline. It is necessary that men should give a certain amount of time to training in order to acquire the necessary efficiency. With a purely volunteer system men find that they cannot afford the time, and, therefore, drop out of the ranks ; butwith a partially-paid system, it is regarded as a duty to attend the drills, just in the same way as a man in any other walk of life considers it his duty to do the work for which he is paid. In the northern districts of New South Wales a number of men in the ranks of the partially-paid forces are recruited from the coal mines. These men regard the day that is set apart for training as one on which they will earn a little more money, and this is a consideration, in addition to the patriotic motives which induced them to join. It was always made a rule, in that district, in order to suit the convenience of these men, to have the drills-, as far as practicable, on pay-day, and the consequence was that the companies were always full, and the men attentive to discipline, and prepared to do the work for which they were paid. I feel convinced that if the partially-paid forces are abolished, and we return to a purely volunteer system, we shall experience a failure which will compel us to retrace our steps.
– If every man were compelled to undergo a certain amount of training, what advantage would there be in the payment?
.- The honorable senator is describing a system of conscription.
– Evenin countries where there is conscription, the men are paid.
– The men are paid in Switzerland.
.- That is so: though I admit that the payment there is small. Wherever there is conscription there is payment; and it would be almost impossible to get men to assent to a system under which they received no payment for the services rendered. If we introduced conscription into the Commonwealth what would be the effect? I presume that we should find some 500,000 able-bodied men in the Commonwealth, and we should require a very great number of drill instructors to train them. The honorable senator will admit that those instructors would have to be paid.
– Does the honorable senator think that it is fair to apply the term “ conscription “ to the Swiss system ?
– Ido, because it is compulsory.
– “ Compulsion “ and “ conscription “ are not synonymous. Under compulsion, every man is compelled to undergo training, but under conscription that need not be so.
.- I think that the two terms in effect mean the same thing. If we take the system proposed, and assume that there will be, say, 500,000 men in the Commonwealth capable of bearing arms, we should require an army of instructors to drill them, and an enormous expenditure to provide them with arms and ammunition. We should find ourselves faced with the neces- sity for expenditure in every direction to maintain a force which would not be required for the defence of the Commonwealth. It is far better that we should provide for a more moderate force, and see that it is entirely under our own command. In connexion with these Estimates, the question of naval defence has also been raised. I do not suppose that many honorable senators will say that we should adopt a solely military or a naval system alone. They will probably be prepared to recognise, as I do, the merits of both. I have had an opportunity of seeing Captain Creswell’s report, and I recognise the very great force of many of the observations which it contains. I should gladly welcome a proposal on the part of the Government to provide a certain number of torpedo boats, destroyers, and vessels of the class ‘referred to by Captain Creswell. I believe that Ministers are prepared to propose something of the kind, but the weak point in the scheme is that they propose to distribute not only the expenditure, but the providing of the ships over a certain number of years. They propose, I understand, that a period of seven years should be devoted to acquiring a fleet’ of the character recommended by Captain Creswell. We know that events do not stand still. The world is marching, dangers are increasing, and the interests to be protected are growing. I should prefer to see the Government cut down Captain Creswell’s proposals, and provide for a certain number of ships now, raising the money by means of a loan, and providing for a sinking fund, by which, year after year, the whole expenditure might be met at the end of seven years.
– No more borrowing.
.- No more borrowingis a very good maxim, but we must see whether our circumstances permit of its adoption. If we require a defence force,we must pay for it. and if that should be necessary, in my opinion, it would be reasonable to borrow money for the pur- pose. We should have no difficulty in raising the money required, and if an adequate sinking fund is provided for. there is no reason why the Commonwealth should get into a position of any serious indebtedness.
– A needy Treasurer might make use of the sinking fund.
– He could not do so if proper provision were made, and Parliament saw to it that the promises made to the money-lenders were faithfully carried out. I regret that the Minister has not yet been able to propose a suitable scheme of defence for Australia. Five years have elapsed since the Commonwealth came into existence, and we are not in as good a position to defend ourselves to-day as we were five years ago, when the various States had their own defence in their own hands.
– Yes,we are. Look at the rifles and ammunitionwe have now. We have also better drilled men. We have now as fine a body of men as can be found anywhere.
.- The bestdrilled force that Australia ever saw was disbanded in the early stages of the Com- monwealth - a force which Major-General French saidwas worthy to beplaced alongside of any force of equal strength in Europe.
– Towhat force does the honorable senator refer?
.- To the permanent artillery force of New South Wales.
– The States had no artillery.
.- They had two or three batteries ofwhatwere modern guns at the time the Commonwealth took themover.
– They had only two or three serviceable guns altogether.
– Where are they now ?
– The Commonwealth have them.
.- We first of all started under the Commonwealth with a General Officer Commanding the Military Forces in the person of Major-General Hutton. We have since changed our policy altogether, and have appointed an InspectorGeneral of the forces,who has practically no control whatever over them. He is a highly-paid, experienced, and efficient officer,who is appointed to make reports upon the condition of the forces in the various States to a Council of Defence composed of his juniors in the service. His recommendations, to be given effect to, depend upon the approval of menwho are his juniors, and without his knowledge or experience of military matters.
– That is absolutely the greatest blunder Ave have made yet.
– Where is the Council of Defence?
.- I am told that the Council has met once or twice at the outside, and dispersed without doing anything. If our Defence Forces were required to act at the present time we do not know whether the Inspector-General or a junior officer would be placed in command. We might have an officer placed in command who is not in touch with the forces throughout the Commonwealth, as is the Inspector-General, whose duty it is to inspect the various branches of the forces and report on their efficiency. I believe that some time ago the Inspector-General made application for some assistance, and the reply he got was, “ We cannot give you any assistance; when you accepted the position you knew that you would be without assistance of the character for which you ask.” I believe that in Canada there are some seven or eight officers attached to the InspectorGeneral of the forces, to assist him in his work of supervision. If the circumstances of Canada demand that the InspectorGeneral should have such assistance, the circumstances of Australia demand the adoption of a similar course here. It has been suggested that we might allow the officers in charge in the various States to make inspections and report to the Inspector-General, who could pass their reports on to the Council of Defiance ; but the special object of appointing an Inspector-General was to secure an absolutely independent report on the efficiency of the various units in the different States. We should have such a report without any intervention on the part of such officers as the State Commandants.
– Who ought to be reliable, and who are removed from one State to another periodically.
.- I admit that we have a right to assume that the State Commandants can be relied upon, but we have appointed an Inspector-General to report independently, in. order that there may be no mistakes. The Commandants are no doubt good men, but they have not the same knowledge of the whole of the forces as has the Inspector-General. When Senator Guthrie says that they are removed periodically from one State to another, it should be remembered that the Commandant in one State is paid £500, in another £600, and in a third £1,000 or £1,200, and we could not promote a man getting £1,200 to a position in which he would receive only £600. The only thing we can do, when a man gets to the top of the tree as a State Commandant, is. to make him InspectorGeneral, or let him go altogether.
– Brigadier-General Gordon has already been in three of the States.
.- He is now stationed in New South Wales, in the most highly paid position of any of the State Commandants, and what are we to do when his services are no longer required there ?
– Surely we might take his certificate as to the condition of the forces in New South Wales.
.- I was laying some stress on the advantage of having independent reports on the forces in each State. I think it would have been well if the Minister could have seen his way to comply with the Inspector-General’s application for assistance. Senator Dobson, in speaking about the cadet force, was very insistent upon the advantage of a compulsory system. I feel that the cadet forces in the past have not received the encouragement which they ought to have received. Australian boys are only too delighted to avail themselves of the opportunity to join a cadet corps. As members of a regularly drilled force, they begin to feel that they are of some importance in the community. Whether the system adopted is voluntary or compulsory, there can be no doubt that Australia will have to depend very largely in the future on the training of young lads to the use of arms, and to efforts made to imbue them with the idea that it is a part of their duty to defend the country in which they live.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - On page 66, under the head of Queensland, I observe an item of £300 for cadets, but their number is not stated. I wish to know what provision is made for the instruction and training of naval cadets, and why. we are asked to vote a sum for this purpose for the State of Queensland alone?
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - In Queensland there are a little over 200 naval cadets, but we expect to increase the number.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- I desire to ask the Minister of Defence why it is that in the case of New South Wales - a State which is preeminently fitted for the training of naval cadets - no provision in that direction is made on these Estimates? For naval cadets in Queensland some provision is made, but none in New South Wales.
– Nor in the other States.
– Will the Minister give some consideration to the question of inaugurating a system of naval cadets in New South Wales? I can conceive of no better part of the Commonwealth in which to make an experiment.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - When the Military Forces were taken over by the Commonwealth there happened to be some naval cadets in Queensland, which had two special boats. We took over and provided for these naval cadets, and now propose to increase the provision for them. In none of the other States were there any naval cadets. We have made no provision for inaugurating a system of naval cadets for the Commonwealth, but I hope to be able to bring before Parliament next session a proposal whereby we shall have naval cadets in all the States.
– The Minister has stated that there are no naval cadets except in Queensland, but only the night before last I saw naval cadets marching in the streets at St. Kilda in this State.
– They are not Commonwealth, but private cadets.
– I understand that the naval cadets I saw were organized privately. I wish to know if the Department arms these lads, or pays for their uniform, or recognises them in any way?
Senator PLAYFORD (South’ AustraliaMinister of Defence). - There is a private company of naval cadets at St. Kilda. They have no connexion with the Commonwealth Forces, and therefore we have no authority over them. They are clothed and drilled, and, I believe, were organized, by a Presbyterian Church.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- On page 67, under the head of New South Wales Naval Forces, I observe an item of £1,000 for continuous training in the gunboat Protector. Is she in New South Wales now ?
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - The Protector was sent from South Australia, first to Victoria, and next to New South Wales, in order to train the men of the Naval Brigade, because no other boat was available. This vote is required to defray the expense of her visit to New South Wales. I think that a smaller item for the same purpose will be found under the head of Victorian Naval Forces.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if he can give the Committee any information abouti the Council of Defence. I noticed the other day that his representative in another place said that he was not sure how often the Council of Defence had met, if it had met at all, but that he would make inquiries. As the Minister is a member of the Council of Defence, no doubt he knows how often it has met, and how it is managed. I hear that it has given rise to very great dissatisfaction, and I hope that the Government will devise some way of making iti a more effective body than it is. I also wish to draw the attention of the Government to the want of fortifications at Hobart. Although this is one of the most important sea-ports we have, still it is one of the weakest in its “defences.. I certainly think that if we are to have any fortifications our best ports should be properly fortified.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - We have not yet reached the items relating tq Hobart, but I am only too willing to answer the questions asked by Senator Macfarlane. I made a statement a day or two ago as to the Council of Defence. I will repeat it for honorable senators’ information. The Council has met twice. One meeting, at which questions of defence were discussed, was rather important. The second was in regard to a matter which was not very important. The Council consists of the Minister for the time being, the Treasurer, and a number of officers, naval and military. It is called together when the Minister needs its advice. At the present time I do not see any utility in calling the Council together, but there will be a meeting before the scheme, which I hope to be able to lay before my colleagues, is ready. The Council will be able to criticise it before it is placed before the Government for approval or disapproval. The defences of Hobart have not been neglected. We are spending money just below Hobart now. We are manning a - very effective gun to protect that very interesting little city. True, it is but one gun, but it is up to date and efficient.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).In respect of the defences of Queensland, I wish to ask what has become of the gunboats Gayundah and Palumah ? Are they still being used ?
– The boats referred to are in Queensland, and are being used for the purpose of training the naval
– There is an item of £300 for pay for Queensland naval cadets. Do we pay them ?
– When they are taken away from their work for training purposes they are paid.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- The item £61 for the pay of one sublieutenant and twelve able seamen of the Tasmanian Naval Forces is interesting because of its size. The peculiar fact is that the force is administered by the military authorities of the State. The Minister will, perhaps, excuse the interest which I take in this subject. I am rather keen about the Navy, and I object to naval men being officered or managed by military officers.
– Let us appoint an Admiral at once !
– That is not the question. I wish to know whether this force really exists. Is it to be seen? What do the men do? What is the duty of the sub-lieutenant? What training do the able seamen receive ? Why is the force being administered by military officers?
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - This is a new item. The Tasmanian naval militia was not previously in existence. We are doing something in the direction which Senator Clemons advocated earlier in the sitting, though, certainly, the beginning is a modest one. It will be noticed that in the portion of the schedule dealing with the Western Australian Forces there is provision for twenty-four able seamen and two sublieutenants. This, of course, is merely a beginning. The men in Tasmania have had the benefit of training on the Protector.
– The footnote “Administration by military authorities in State “ puzzles me.
– We had to appoint some officers to supervise the administration of the force. In Tasmania there were no naval authorities to undertake the duty. For the time being, and as a makeshift, they were put under the military authorities.
– Is not this Tasmanian naval force the old crew which manned the torpedo boat?
– No; there was. an engineers corps for that purpose.
– It is high time that naval reserves were established throughoutthe Commonwealth. I believe an attempt has been made to recruit by sending the Protector round. Senator Dobson has suggested that we shall be able to recruit a considerable number of seamen, not only to serve in our own Defence Force, but to assist the Imperial Navy if necessary. He has said that it will be better to assist the Imperial Navy by means of men than by money. In England,no matter how much money Parliament is prepared to vote for naval purposes the trouble is to enlist men to man the fleet. I believe that it is our duty to do something to assist in manning our own coastal defences, and that therefore the recruiting of naval reserves should be pushed forward vigorously. It has been said that England is prepared to let us have ships of war. What is the use of having those vessels if we have not men to man them ? There are men on the Australian coasts who would be prepared to render this service if they were trained. But the encouragement given is very small. Let honorable senators realize the fact that we spend over £600,000 in land defences, and only about £45,000 in naval defence. A considerable sum is spent in harbour defence, which should be undertaken by trained sailors. My own opinion is that the whole of the harbour defence of Australia should be under one command, and that a naval command. The men at the guns on shore would have to fight in conjunction with the seamen, and the officers on board the ships ought to know everything about the guns at the forts. I trust that the Government, in considering the defence scheme during the recess will be able to propose something definite in this regard. There is plenty of room for economy ; and if I am in order, I should like to draw attention to another matter. A whole company of men are withdrawn from the Queenscliff forts every week to do duty at Government House. I regard this as an absolutely useless expense, seeing that these men are not provided with any ammunition, and could not afford us any protection whatever, not even having the power to arrest an offender. Their whole duty is to walk up and down at Government House, and be relieved every four hours. A fresh company is brought from Queens- cliff each week by train at a cost of about 15s. per man. The time occupied on the journey is seven hours, whereas these men could very well travel by steamer at 2s. 6d. a head in two hours and a half. Surely some economy could be exercised in this connexion, instead of reducing the force for the coastal defence of a State to twelve men.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- Was any call made for these naval reserve men in Tasmania, and if so, was twelve the total number that could be obtained ? Is there any relation between that number and the numbers of naval reserve men in the other States? I see that there are twenty-four naval reserve men in Western Australia, twelve in Tasmania, and eightytwo in South Australia. Is there any rule observed in this matter?
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - So far as I know, these twelve men were obtained in Tasmania, but I do not know why that is the number, or why any particular number is selected for any State. These arrangements were made before I took office, and I found these items in the Estimates. I can see no reason for the particular numbers, except, perhaps, that they may have been arrived at on a population basis.
– I cannot see how the number is arrived at on a population basis.
– There are 1,050 naval reserve men in the Commonwealth,
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, Thursday Island, “ Militia, £2,088” by £1.
My object is to get an expression of opinion as to whether the Militia Forces should be continued. My own impression is that wewould get a much more effective and certainly a more numerous force, if the money at present spent on the militia were diverted to the support of the volunteer system. In the Militia Force we have 16,540 men. whereas there are only 5,850 volunteers. The volunteers, in direct payments, cost £2 per head per annum, while the militia cost £9 per head ; so that if the whole of the money spent on both branches were devoted to volunteers,we should, as I say, have a much larger force. Of course, the question of efficiency arises; and I should like an expression of opinion as to whether the extra drill to which the militia are subjected, is a compensating advantage for the expenditure. To my mind it is not a compensating advantage. We ought to specially encourage rifle shooting in the land forces. The drill of the barrack-yard does not appear to be of much consequence in modern warfare, and certainly would not count for very much in the defence of Australia. The mere ability to perform certain evolutions, so far as I can gather, is of very little moment on the battlefield of to-day ; what is wanted principally is the capacity to shoot well, and the power to march, and to endure hunger and fatigue. We are much more likely to get a good class of men in the volunteers than in the militia. I know a number of men who would not be in the militia, but for the money inducement. What we want is not a comparatively small number of men able to go through certain evolutions, but a comparatively large number of men able to shoot well. Honorable senator after honorable senator addresses himself to the subject of defence, but we do not seem to make any progress towards, a definite defence system. I advocate the abolition of the militia, and the substitution of a small permanent force, with a comparatively large volunteer force. We should spend the money much better in encouraging volunteers by offering prizes for shooting, and providing ammunition, ad libitum, if it be desired. In that way we should train up a nation of sharpshooters, who would be able to give a good account of themselves, if Australia ever had the misfortune to be invaded. We could, I believe, by this means raise an Army of 50,000 men equal in every particular, to the 22,000 who now make up the militia and the volunteers.
– I should like some information regarding the item of £579 set down as a contribution towards the maintenance of a telegraph station at Goode Island, and cable communication with the Prince of Wales group of Islands, Torres Straits. A short time ago it was reported that the Colonial Defence Committee had recommended a fortification at Goode Island. I should like to know from the Minister whether it has been finally decided to fortify Goode Island, and whether the vote to which I have referred is asked for in order to give effect to that decision?
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - No. A similar vote was passed last year, before the suggestion with respect to the fortification of Goode Island was made. Last year we voted £838 for this purpose. The provision is necessary for the maintenance of the cable between the groups of islands in Torres’ Straits, and particularly in order that Thursday Island may be in cable communication with the mainland in time of war. The vote has nothing to do with the fortification of Goode Island. On that subject we have only some memoranda forwarded by the Colonial Defence Committee and a report by an officer who was asked to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, it has been found that the port at Thursday Island is silting up with very great rapidity. It is a question whether it would not be better to have the coaling station and fortifications at Goode Island rather than at Thursday Island ; and if that is the case, of course an unfortunate mistake was made in the selection of Thursday Island in the first instance. No definite request has been made in connexion with the matter, and at the present time there is no necessity for immediate action.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I wish again to direct the attention of the Committee to the amount spent on the paid forces and their number, and the amount spent on the Volunteer Forces and their number. In the Permanent Forces in New South Wales we have 505 nien, who mop up £70,776; 5,127 militia, or partiallypaid men, who cost us £45,726 ; and 2,490 volunteers, who cost £6,357. The volunteers cost a little over £2 per head, the militia, or partially-paid forces, £9 per head, and the Permanent Forces £150 per head. I do not know whether honorable senators have given this aspect of the question the consideration which it deserves, but it appears to me that it would be very much better for the Commonwealth if we disbanded the militia and partially-paid forces and spent the £51,000 now spent on those forces and on the Volunteer Forces entirely on the volunteers. We should then have a verv much larger force, and, in my opinion, it would be as efficient as the present force. The number of men at the service of the Commonwealth might be doubled, or more than doubled, for the same money, and that ought to have some influence with the members of the Committee. If honorable senators are determined on continuing militia, or partially-paid forces, I shall be compelled to move a reduction on the amount set down for the Volunteer Forces, with the object of getting an expression of opinion as to whether honorable senators desire that those forces shall be continued. My own opinion is that we cannot have the two forces running side by side successfully. Men who desire to be paid will not join the volunteers, but very many men would certainly join the volunteers if there were no paid branch of the service. They are not willing to volunteer while there is a paid branch. They very reasonably say : “ Why should we give our services for nothing when these other men are paid?” It is an absolute waste of money to have these two arms of the service maintained side by side. If the Committee determines to keep the militia, or partially-paid force, they should disband the volunteers, and spend all the money available on the rifle clubs and cadet corps. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote, New South Wales, “Volunteer Forces, ^6,357,” by the sum of £1.
– Honorable senators will notice that the summary of the Military Forces of New South Wales covers divisions extending over twenty-three pages of the schedule. I point out that honorable sen ator are at liberty to test any particular question on the summary, and if that is acceptable I will put the summary for each State to the Committee as one vote. That will save a very great deal of time, and if any honorable senator should desire to deal with any particular item I shall be quite willing to put that item to the Committee. If there is no prior request I propose now to put Senator Stewart’s request.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).- I have no wish to occupy time unnecessarily, but I think that “Senator Stewart’s arguments should nol go unsupported. They are entirely in accord with what I said this afternoon.
– Then why did not the honorable senator support me?
– I propose to support the honorable senator now, but I do not think he took the right step before. Senator Stewart has placed his finger on the weak spot in our defence system. He has said that we should have a militia or partiallypaid force at the cost of £7 or £8 per head, or a volunteer force at a cost of less than half that amount. If the request moved is supported, Ministers and honor- able members in another place may take it as an’ indication of the feeling of the Committee that up to the present time the authorities of the Defence Department, in administering our land forces, have not paid sufficient attention to rifle shooting, and have paid too mud] attention to drill. There can be no doubt that the money paid to the members of the militia, or partially-paid forces, is an incentive to many to join those forces, and it is looked upon as a wellearned return for the work they put in at drill. I believe that a large proportion of the members of the militia or partiallypaid forces who receive or to a year, and earn it, could not hit a man at 200 or 300 yards distant. That is well known to those in charge of our land forces.
– Does it follow that because a man is in the militia he cannot shoot?
– No ; but if the money which is now spent in drilling the militia forces were devoted to training them in the use of the rifle it would be much better spent.
– They must know something about drill.
– They must; but it would be better that they should know a great deal about rifle shooting and a little about drill than that they should know a great deal about drill and be unable to use the rifle. We know that at the various rifle matches held throughout the Commonwealth, in the majority” of cases the best shots are members of rifle clubs who have not spent much time in drill-halls, but who have spent a great deal of time on the rifle ranges. I support Senator Stewart’s request.
– The honorable senator proposes to wipe out the Volunteer Forces.
– The volunteers and members of rifle clubs are practically on the same footing. Why should we have militia or partially-paid forces, and volunteers as well as members of rifle clubs ?
– The members of rifle clubs should have to do some drill, and should be sworn in also.
– I have admitted that it is necessary that the men should do a certain amount of drill, but I contend that it would be better to spend the money in teaching the militia or partially-paid forces the use of the rifle rather than on uniforms, and in return for the work done in the drillhalls. I can see no necessity for having members of rifle clubs and volunteers under a different heading. Neither of these forces are paid.
– They stand on a different footing to the militia in regard to their liability for service.
– Under what liability is it necessary to place them beyond that of having to serve in the defence of their own country in time of war? The idea of Major-General Hutton, in encouraging the militia, or partially-paid forces, against the volunteers, was to raise up a Defence Force which could be called upon, if necessary, to serve outside the Commonwealth. That I hold is utterly repugnant to the feelings of the people. We do not wish to impose upon the members of rifle clubs any liability of that kind!.
– A rifle club is a club for the amusement of men at the expense of the Government.
– The drill which Senator Gould so strenuously advocates is amusement. Will he tell me that there is not more utility in a man being able to shoot straight than in being able to perform certain evolutions?
– I admit that.
– Then the honorable senator has to admit that a very large proportion of the drilled men cannot shoot, and that a very large proportion of the rifle men can shoot.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales). - I wish to ask the Minister of Defence if the Department has thought pf a system by which, upon paying a premium to an accident ‘insurance company, they could get the necessary compensation for injuries done to men while on duty ? I find that as compensation for injury suffered by men on duty, we are asked to vote £300 for New South Wales, £250 for Victoria, and £100 for Queensland.
Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence). - The Military Forces are in this respect in exactly the same position as the buildings of the Government. It is a great deal better for a Government to be its own insurer, than to pay annual premiums to a private company, because in the long run it will cost a great deal less. When I was Treasurer of South Australia, I came to the conclusion that it was not desirable to insure any public buildings.
In ten years we had paid £8,000 or £10,000 for insurance, but we had received only £1,000 or £2,000 from the companies for compensation for fires which took place. With a big military force such as we have, it is a great deal cheaper to be our own insurers than to pay a company, who would charge sufficient to cover all risks, and to leave a profit. I think we had better keep the profit for ourselves.
– I am much obliged to the Minister for the information he has given.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - A short time ago the Defence Department in Victoria advertised for the services of a labourer - a packer. I understand that the candidates had to put in three days’ work for nothing, to pass an examination, and to pay a fee of 7s. 6d. There were eightyfour candidates to fill one vacancy, so that the imposition of the fee yielded a very nice sum. I do not know whether the candidates had to be examined in subjects other than arithmetic. I shall read the paper on arithmetic. In view of the fact that the occupant of the position would probably never be asked to do anything but pack away stores, I should like honorable senators to say whether they approve of all this superfluity of examination. The paper reads as follows: -
Time allowed : Two hours.
N.B. - Show the whole of your working,
Is it not utterly absurd to ask a candidate for a position of labourer in the Defence Department to pass an examination of that kind?
– We wanted a labourer in the Department, but he could not be obtained except through the Public Service Commissioner. An advertisement was published, and I think eighty-four applications were received. In order to decide who was the most fit and proper person, an examination was held. I do not hold either myself or the Department responsible for this tom-foolery. There was no necessity for holding an examination, when we merely wanted a labourer for packing stores in the ordnance branch. But that is the way in which the Public Service Commissioner treated the applicants. It certainly would not have occurred if we had been able to obtain the services that we required ourselves.
– I certainly think that the fee of 7s. 6d. ought to be returned to the eighty-three men who were turned away.
– Does the Minister of Defence mean to tell the Committee that under the Public Service Act the Commissioner had power to enforce that examination ?
– I did not inquire whether he had the power or not; I only know that he did it.
– I think that the matter is worth inquiring into by the Minister. I can understand that, when the Commissioner had to select one out of eighty-four applicants he thought that this would be a fair way out of the difficulty, but it is not one of which we can approve for a moment.
– No man can enter the Public Service now without (passing an examination.
– I think it is a monstrous thing that such an examination should be held .
– My officer does not know what the Act provides.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia),I think that some step should be taken to refund the fee of 7s. 6d. to the eightythree applicants who were turned away. It is a scandalous thing, I think, that the money was collected.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - The applicants had to payafeeof7s6d., whichwas handed over to the Public Service Commissioner, and withwhich the military authorities had nothing to do. I do not know, but I should imagine that it would be returned to all but the successful applicant.
– It was not.
– It will be very unfair if it is not returned.
– It seems from the regulations that all the fees are forfeited. Indeed, it is regarded as creditable to the Public Service Commissioner that the fees form a considerable item of revenue.
– In connexion with the votes for rifle clubs and associations. I observe that New South Wales receives £2,000 ; Victoria, £1,375; Queensland, £1,500; South Australia, £200 ; Western Australia, £350; and Tasmania, £150. This affords an opportunity for Senator Stewart to exercise his craze for economy. The State which he represents appears to dip alts hand info the Commonwealth purse more deeply than does any other State in proportion to the number of riflemen. On the strength of her rifle clubs she is only entitled to something like£500.
– Perhaps she has encouraged rifle shooting more than any other State.
– As a matter of fact, the number of riflemen in Queensland is just about the same as in South Australia; that is to say, there are 2,918 in Queensland, and 2,803 in South Australia. Yet South Australia receives only £200, andQueensland receives £1,500. Senator
Stewart and Senator Givens have been doing their best to economize in many directions. Now they have an opportunity. Queensland is getting more than she is entitled to get. I am satisfied that Senator Stewart will not be a party to anything of that kind.
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - This is one of the matters we took over from the States. Queensland had divided her territory into a number of districts, in which rifle associations had been formed. We do not think it right to diminish the amount formerly paid by the State Government. And as was admitted to me by a gentleman in Adelaide, who is connected with military matters and rifle associations, with whom I was talking over the matter, there is some justification for a larger amount being paid in Queensland. She has an immense territory, with a population extending along a coast-line hundreds of miles in length. Each district has its own. rifle association. We are only too pleased to give these associations money to encourage them to perfect their rifle shooting. But there is no doubt that the amounts voted to South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales are not on a fair basis, My attention was not called to the subject until I had been Minister of Defence for some time. I have since looked into it, but I do not wish to decrease the amount voted to Queensland. She is entitled to much consideration on account of her peculiar position. But in justice to the other States, we must increase the amount voted to them, and if I have the honour to draw up the Estimates next year, honorable senators will see a change made in this direction.
– It is transferred expenditure; Queensland is paying the money.
– Of course Queensland pays for it; butwe ought to encourage rifleshooting in the other States on the same lines.
– I do not know why honorable senators representing other States should object to Queensland contributing an extra large amount in aid of the rifle clubs. This item is large because Queensland, prior to Federation, did her duty as to national defence. If the other States had done their duty also, Ave should not have had Senator de Largie twitting Senator Stewart and myself with not being in favour of economy because we do not move for a request to reduce this vote. I enter my protest against the mock indignation of those who object to Queensland maintaining her- rifle clubs in a state of efficiency. I shall be pleased if the other States will contribute an equally large amount for the defence of Australia.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) - To test the sincerity of my impetuous friend who has just sat down, in the cause of economy, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, Queensland, “ Rifle Clubs and Associations, ^4,679,” by ?1.
– I trust that the honorable senator will not proceed with this extreme economic course. We shall be saving too much by reducing the item’ by ?1. It cannot possibly do any good.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- Perhaps the Minister of Defence will tell us how many men there are in the rifle clubs.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - I can furnish an answer to that question. In New South Wales there are 4,491 riflemen, and the amount voted is ?2,000. In Victoria there are 16,632 riflemen, and the amount on the Estimates is ?r>375- Queensland has only 2,918 riflemen, and she has ?1,500 on the Estimates. In South Australia the number of riflemen is 2,803, for whom grants amount: ing to ?200 are provided on the Estimates. In Tasmania the number of riflemen is 250, and in Western Australia 208.
Senator STEWART (Queensland).- All the evening I have been advocating an increase of the subsidy for rifle clubs and volunteer corps, but have been unable to get any support from honorable senators. I have no intention to support any reduction in this vote, which I regard as money well spent. I am sorry that the other States have not been as generous to their riflemen as has Queensland.
– -In the other States assistance is not required to the same extent as in Queensland, where travelling is more expensive and difficult.
Post and Telegraphs : Revenue and Expenditure : Non-Contract Mail Vessels : Telephones at Hotels : Classification and Salaries : Case of Mr. Butler : Case of Mr. A. Hart : Tasmania and Victoria Mail Service.
Divisions 176 to 182 (The PostmasterGeneral’s Department), ?2,578,838.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I should like to draw attention to a few figures, which may cause honorable senators to consider whether the Post and Telegraph Department is managed as it ought to be. In the New South Wales Post Office the receipts for the year 1904-5 were ?980,009, and the expenditure ?923,651. The increase in the receipts since 1901-2 was ?106,000, and the increase in the expenditure ?122,000. It will be seen that, in order to collect ?106,000 additional revenue, there had to be an additional expenditure of ?122,000, New South Wales thus being ?16,000 to the bad.
– All the salaries have been increased, and the ‘minimum wage adopted.
– That would account for only a very small proportion of the increased expenditure. In the Victorian Post Office the receipts last year were ?682,000, and the expenditure ?634,972. The increase in the receipts since 1901-2 was ?91,000, and the increase in the expenditure ?75,000, showing Victoria to be ?16,000 to the good. In Queensland the receipts last year were ?331,000, and the expenditure ?419,775. The increase in the receipts since 1901-21 was ?18,000, and the increase in the expenditure ?25,000, showing Queensland to be ?7,600 to the bad. In the South Australian Post Office the receipts last year were ?266,000, and the expenditure ?269,541. The increase in the receipts since 1901-2 was ?9,000, and the increase in the expenditure ?38,000, so that South Australia is ?29,000 to the bad. In Western Australia the receipts last year were ?257,000, and the expenditure ?290,422. The increase in the receipts since 1901-2 was ?31,000, and the increase in the expenditure ?30,^00 - the two just about balancing. In Tasmania the receipts last year were ?112,000, and the expenditure ?118,353. The increase in the receipts since 1901-2 was ?21,000, and the increase in the expenditure £17,000, showing Tasmania to be £4,000 to the good. The total increase in the receipts throughout the Commonwealth since 190 1-2 was £258,000, and the increase in the expenditure £307,000.
– Works are not now constructed out of loan moneys.
– The cost of works is. not included in these figures.
– We might expect the comparison to be unfavorable in the case of large and sparsely populated Stales, and favorable in the case of the smaller and more densely populated States.
– I cannot see why the expenditure should continually increase at a greater rate than the income. One would expect exactly the opposite to be the case, as I believe it would be, with good and economical management. I shall have occasion this evening to lay one or two cases before honorable senators, which, I believe, are only symptomatic of a veryserious state of affairs in the administration of the Department. The figures I have quoted ought to be taken into serious consideration by the Government. I do not wish any cheese-paring to take place in connexion with our Public Service, or that any one should be underpaid, but I certainly object to extravagant management. The figures denote carelessness - to use no strong term - in the outgoings,. The increased expenditure caused by the minimum wage does not account for the difference which the figures disclose.
– It may be as well to remind ourselves and that portion of the public who are constantly crying out about extravagance in the transferred Departments, that, while, as against an anticipated increase in the revenue this, year of £51,000, there is an anticipated increase in the expenditure of ,£90,000, the latter to the extent of £52,000 is on account of the over-sea mail contracts. It is remarkable that the people who are loudest in their denunciation of Federal extravagance, are those who, to a large extent, were loudest in their request for the increased expenditure on the mail contracts. These same people may also be informed that the adoption of penny postage throughout Australia would mean a further increase in the expenditure; and it is to be hoped. that the request for the adoption of this policy will not be listened to. It is estimated that for at least a year or two it would mean an additional annual expenditure of about £300,000; and I cannot see why the whole of the people should be called upon to contribute to a loss incurred for the benefit of a comparatively small section, consisting for the most part, of the mercantile classes. Only one State in the Commonwealth has adopted penny postage, and I trust that the other States will hold fast to their present system, because if penny postage were brought into force in those States, the people who are now asking for it would be crying out against the increased expenditure of the Department, and Federal extravagance generally.- *
– I think that the statements made by Senator Stewart are entitled! to some reply from the Minister in charge of these Estimates. The honorable senator has pointed out that the expenditure under this Department in the various States has been considerably increased since the inauguration .of the Commonwealth. It is right that some explanation of the increase should be given. There is no doubt that a sufficient explanation can be afforded.
– The minimum wage.
– That is one reason. A very considerable number of officers have received increases of salaries. Another reason for the increased expenditure is the fact that better services have been instituted in the back country. Only the other day I noticed that a number of services were established which previously did not exist. For the credit of the Department the Minister in charge of these Estimates should make some explanation on these points.
– I did not intend to permit Senator Stewart’s remarks to go without any reply. I take it that the honorable senator had no other object in making them than to point to the improvements effected in connexion with this Department, in contrast with the condition of affairs that existed under the several States. Several factors contribute to the increased expenditure in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. In the first place, since the transfer of the States Departments to the Commonwealth there has been an allround increase of salaries.
– And a reduction in rates.
– I shall deal with that- presently. I am dealing now specially with expenditure. As honorable senators are aware, the application of the provision of the Public Service Act with respect to the minimum wage has increased the expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department, as of other Departments of the Commonwealth, service. There is a further factor in the increased expenditure common to all the transferred Departments, and that is that all works, new buildings, and properties required for those Departments are now paid for out of revenue earned, by them, and not as previously under the management of the States Governments, out of loan moneys, or public works accounts. I think that Western Australia was the only exception to the latter rule.
– The cost of works is not included in these Estimates.
– I am aware of that, but apart from Senator Stewart’s figures, it must be remembered that criticism is often indulged in in various quarters to the effect that the expenditure in connexion with all the Departments under the Commonwealth has been abnormally increased; and I point out that the increase is largely clue to the fact that works which, under States management, were paid for out of loan funds and public works accounts, are now debited to the revenue of the various Departments.
– It might be as well to emphasize the fact also that a large proportion of the increased expenditure would have been incurred if the Departments had not been transferred.
– That is so, by reason of the fact that the ordinary annual increments would have to be paid if the Departments had remained under the control of the States. The revenue from this Department is very satisfactory, whilst very great improvements have been effected since the establishment of Federation. Very considerable reductions have also been made in the charges made to the public, especially in connexion with telegraphy. I suppose that there is no part of the civilized world to-day where it is possible to send more matter over a longer distance by telegraph at a cheaper rate than in the Commonwealth of Australia. The rates now charged in Australia are remarkably low, and lower than those ever previously charged ‘by public or by private enterprise in any other part of the world. The reductions made have been surprising. A telegram which, before Federation, cost from 3s. 6d. to 4s., can now be sent in the Commonwealth for is. We have that balance of great advantage to set against any depletion of revenue, and when the figures submitted by Senator Stewart are considered, it is found that the revenue has not suffered very considerably.
– The other day I asked a question with respect to the item “ gratuities for the conveyance of mails by non-contract vessels.” A similar item is found in the division for each of the States. I was told, in answer to my question, that these gratuities represented1 the amount paid as poundage rates. In the circumstances, it appears to me that the wrong term is used. If we are paying for the carriage of mails at per lb., it is misleading to describe the charge as a gratuity.
– That is a technical term used in the Post-office.
– As we go along we are getting rid of red-tape, and we might decide to use common-sense terms. Some alteration of this item should, I think, be made, so that the ordinary reader may understand what it means.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - After this matter was mentioned by the honorable senator last week, I caused inquiries to be made, and I find that postally the word “ gratuity “ is used in a technical sense. It means the payment made to non-contract vessels as distinguished from subsidies paid to contract vessels. In several State Post and Telegraph Acts the word appears, and in the Estimates of Expenditure of those States it was invariably used. When this Department was transferred’ to the Commonwealth, and Estimates, were framed in connexion with each of the States Postal Departments, the word “gratuities” was retained, and I think rightly, because it serves to indicate to those concerned with State finances what particular sums are being expended in this way. I have received a memorandum on the subject, in which it is said -
The same wording has been continued in the Estimates of Expenditure for the Commonwealth, but arrangements will be made in connexion with the 1906-7 Estimates to amend the wording so as to make it clear that these payments are payments at poundage rates.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - In reply to a question put in another place a day or so ago, the astonishing information was given that big places of business like the Hotel Australia, in Sydney, and the Grand Hotel, in Melbourne, have an attendant all to themselves in the telephone exchanges, and the cost of this attendance comes to more than the total receipts received from these hotels for the telephone services they enjoy. That is altogether wrong. There are other expenses in connexion with these telephones, such as the expense of putting the lines to the hotels, and of fitting up telephones in them; and if all the figures were supplied, I suppose it would be found that these two hotels secure complete telephone services for half, or less than half, the amount they cost the Commonwealth. That should! not be tolerated. I understand that there is a special rate for hotels, but it should be differentiated in some way, and the charge made according to accommodation. If, for instance, an hotel can accommodate twenty guests, it might be charged the minimum charge, but if it can accommodate 200 guests, it should be charged accordingly on some ascending scale, so that the actual cost of the service shall not be about twice as much as the total receipts from it.
– The whole matter of abolishing or modifying the present flat rates is being considered.
– I am very glad to hear it. It is, at any rate, desirable that the matter should be mentioned, because the taxpayers of the Commonwealth have a right to expect that when they provide a first-class service for people who enjoy the greatest possible advantage from it, they should receive some remuneration in proportion to the cost of the service provided.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - A great many complaints have been made about reductions of salaries of Victorian employes of the Post and Telegraph Department. For the information of honorable senators, I propose to read a list of increases which have been granted to men in the more highly paid positions in the service. This list gives the salaries of particular officers on the 26th December, 1900, and the salaries of the same officers as classified by the Public Service Commissioner -
In nearly every one of these cases the men had already been receiving what might be termed a fair salary. In some cases the salaries were increased by 20 per cent., in others by 30 per cent., in others by 50 per cent., and in others by up to 100 per cent. ; indeed, in some instances, fairly high salaries have been exactly doubled. While the Commissioner has been increasing the salaries of the comparatively highly-paid men, he has been doing everything he possibly could to screw down the emoluments of the men in the lower grades. Last night
I tried to induce the Committee to intervene on behalf of those men, and to get the Commissioner to re-open the whole matter, but I was unsuccessful. I do not intend to dwell upon the matter, but merely to point out that the more highly-paid men are getting increases habitually.
– Yes, but the State itself made a number of these increases.
– No doubt the State increased the number of salaries at. the very last moment.
SenatorMulcahy. - In this table there is a column showing the difference between the salary on the 26th December, 1900, and the salary proposed by the Commissioner.
– Why nottake the salaries as they stood on the 27th December, 1900?
– The salaries were jumped up for a particular reason, but the Commissioner was not satisfied, and he had to give them another hitch up. Apparently, while increasing the salaries of the more highly-paid officers, he has set himself assiduously to cut down the remuneration of the more lowly-paid officers. Of course, if the Committee approve of that policy, I have no more to say.I gave them an opportunity yesterday of saying whether they did or not. They decided that they did, and now it will go forth to the people that the Commissioner is supported in this policy by the members of the Senate.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - In many cases the increases to which Senator Stewart has referred were brought about in the first instance by the States Public Service Classification Boards prior to the Departments being transferred. With regard to the officers who he complains have experienced a decrease in salary, I would point out that, by virtue of section 19 of a famous Victorian Act of Parliament, every officer of a transferred Department in the State was entitled to claim, in respect of his work, a salary equal to the highest salary which was given to any officer in any other State performing similar work. The Act was passed just prior to Victoria entering the Federation. In effect, its Parliament said, “ Our letter-carriers and telegraph operators are going over to the Commonwealth. We provide now that those officers, as well as every other officer who is transferred–
– There are none of those officers here.
– The telegraph operators are included. Whatever they be, they are transferred officers. I only gave those cases as an instance. The Act provided that every transferred officer should receive for his services a salary equal to the highest salary paid to any officer performing similar services in any other State. It was thought at the time that the Commonwealth was going to obtain gold from a treasury which was then hidden upon which it might provide all these men with an increase. As a matter of fact, the men have been receiving the salaries, and Victoria has had to pay them because they were transferred officers.
– And they are cut down.
– Our Public Service Commissioner came along, and in the course of the duty which devolved upon him by Statute, he proceeded to classify: the public servants of the Commonwealth. He had to work upon uniform principles and lines, no matter what the Statute of Victoria provided as to the salaries to be received by its transferred officers in comparison with those enjoyed by officers in other States. In order to determine the value of the work done by the different persons, and their efficiency, he had to subject them to an examination. By virtue of section 19 of the Victorian Act No. 1721, a number of officers in Victoria were receiving a salary of £130, but on the adoption of the classification scheme early this month their payments under that Act ceased, and they are now receiving a salary of £120.
– Can the scheme override the Constitution?
– I think it can override that Statute of Victoria. If we are going to have a classification, it must be based on uniform principles. We cannot adopt as a uniform principle an Act which would give a letter-carrier of nineteen or twenty years of age in Victoria the same salary as a letter-carrier in South Australia who perhaps has put in forty years’ service. These men have been reduced in some instances from £130 to £120 as the result of the examination. They have not proved, in the opinion of the Commissioner, their efficiency to do work for which a salary of £130 ought to be paid. But all those who presented themselves for examination did not fail.
There were many who passed the test, and whose salaries were raised from £130 to £140. The complaints we hear come from those who failed to pass the examination,” and who, therefore, have had to go back from £130 to £120, so that they will be on the same level as officers who are doing corresponding work in other parts of the Commonwealth. The fact of the matter is that the Victorian Act gave a certain number of persons anartificial salary, and now, when the classification scheme has been adopted, and uniform principles have to be applied throughout the Commonwealth, they have, in some instances, to get down to a salary equivalent to the work which is being done. If officers in Victoria cannot show that they are rendering services equivalent to a salary of £140, they will have to go back to a salary of £120 until they can demonstrate their efficiency to attain to the higher rate after which they will proceed by the ordinary increase until they reach the highest salary in the division, namely, £160.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - Senator Keating has carefully avoided dealing with my principal complaint about the very large increases in the salaries of the highly-paid officers. These men were not asked to undergo any examination, or pass any test. They were simply advanced, so far as I can discover, at the sweet will of the Commissioner. A section of the telegraphists in Victoria were promoted without being subjected to any test, as Senator Keating admitted in reply to a question by’ me a few days ago. Why were these telegraphists in Victoria advanced without being subjected to a test, while the other men were tried by examination ? Further, why were examinations not held in the other States? Why were the Victorian telegraphists singled out for this test?
– Because, as I said, they were getting an artificial salary.
– That is the most extraordinary answer I have ever heard. If the salary was artificial then, it is artificial now, and a dozen examinations would not make it real. The men are doing exactly the same work now as they were doing previously. They were not able to pass some fancy test to which they were subjected bv the Commissioner. The Minister says that the salary is artificial. If it was artificial in the one case it was artificial in every case. If these men are not doing their work properly, they ought to be dismissed. If they cannot earn the salaries which they are receiving, they should get their walking ticket. It seems to me to be an extraordinary method of “ cutting down men’s salaries, more especially those in the lower grades of the service, who are getting very poor remuneration at best. And1 if these men were subjected to a test, why were not officers in the other States subjected to the same test? We hear a great deal about uniformity. Why did not the men in the other States have an opportunity of showing whether they were capable of earning the increases which had been given to these officers? ‘ It appears to me, speaking without prejudice, that the whole thing is a complete jumble, and that the service is seething with incapacity from top to bottom. I have a word or two to say 1 with regard to Queensland. It will be fresh in the recollection of honorable senators that a few days ago I put a few questions to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Replies were given. But probably honorable senators do not know the inner history of those questions. I propose to give some information on the point. At the end of January last, an employe” in the Brisbane Post Office was found to have stolen a sum of £8 belonging to the Department. I understand that on the discovery of the theft he was told to go home. In the beginning of February he was tried in Brisbane, convicted of larceny, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. But he was liberated under the First Offenders Act. On, the 24th of June he received a letter, informing him that he had been suspended on the charges that he had absented himself from duty without leave; that he had failed to account for the sum of £8 odd ; and also that he had been convicted at the Police Court in Brisbane on this charge, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. This letter, be it noted, was sent on the 24th June, about five months after he had been convicted and sentenced. He had left the office at the end of January, had been convicted of larceny at the beginning of February, and was suspended on the 24th June. He was called upon to answer the charges in writing. He saw the Deputy Postmaster-General, who asked him to resign. But meanwhile some kind friend had whispered in his ear that, not having been suspended or dismissed, he could make a claim for his salary. He did make that claim, and the sum of £83 and some odd shillings was paid to him for which he never did a single hour’s work. These facts disclose a most extraordinary state of affairs. Here is a man discovered in an offence at the end of January. He is told - I suppose by his superior officer - to leave the office. In the beginning of February he is charged and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, but is liberated under the First Offenders Act. He was ultimately dismissed, I believe, some time in August; but the Department had to pay him£83 - his salary from the date in January . when he left the office until the date when he was suspended. I want to know why he was not suspended the moment the offence was discovered, and why he was” not dismissed the moment he was sentenced? I want to know, further, what officer was responsible for this neglect of duty ? That officer, I submit, ought to have two alternatives placed before him - either to pay the £83, or to leave the service. The facts disclose a state of affairs which is really lamentable. How can we place any reliance upon an Administration which conducts its affairs in this slipshod fashion? If the interests of the Commonwealth are neglected in these particulars, how are we to know that the whole of our Post and Telegraph business is not going to rack and ruin ? I shall be glad to hear whether Senator Keating has any information to give.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - -The matter to which Senator Stewart has referred was brought up by means of a question put to me one day last week. Since then I have been making inquiries, and I find, as he has pointed out, that the case first arose in January last. The officer in, question, Butler, was guilty of the larceny of £8 14s, 3d. He was brought before the justices and convicted. He was dealt with, however-, as a first offender, and liberated under the provisions of the State First Offenders Probation Act. Then the question arose as to how far he had forfeited his office. Under the Public Service Act, section 66, it is provided that -
If an officer is on an indictment or presentment convicted of any offence he shall be deemed to have forfeited his office, and shall thereupon cease to perform his duties or receive his salary.
The question had been submitted to the Crown Solicitor - I do not know whether it was an abstract question or whether a concrete case was mentioned - as far back as October, 1903, whether an officer convicted of an offence on an information - as compared with the word “ indictment,” used in the Public Service Act - could be deemed to have forfeited his office. It was pointed out that the word “ indictment,” under section 27A of the Acts Interpretation Act, included “ information.” An opinion was given by the Crown Solicitor to the effect that a conviction on an information would not necessarily cause an officer to forfeit his office, because he might be convicted, for instance, upon an information for riding his bicycle without a light. When this particular concrete case arose, in the early part of this year, I find that what was done by the then Government was that the matter was referred for advice as to whether the conviction of Butler brought him under section 66 of the Public Service Act. That was immediately after he had been released under the First Offenders Act.
– Did not the authorities know what to do with him?
– They did not know as a matter of interpretation whether he had lost his office. He had been convicted before two justices.
– The matter submitted to the Crown Solicitor was a very vague reference.
– I donot know whether, in the earlier instance, a concrete case or an abstract case was submitted. I am informed that this subject was brought under the notice of the Government at the time, and was referred for advice as to whether the conviction brought Butler under section 66 of the Public Service Act. The Crown Solicitor forwarded the papers to the AttorneyGeneral, and he gave an opinion upon the case which runs as follows : -
Butler was” charged with, an indictable offence, but apparently was dealt with summarily under the State Justices Act. The question is whether he was convicted on an indictment or a presentment within the meaning of section 66 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902. Section 27 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 provides that in any Act, unless the contrary intention appears, the word “indictment” shall include information. The Crown Solicitor has previously advised that summary conviction for an offence which is not indictable is not a conviction on indictment or presentment. My view is that information in section 27 of the Acts Interpretation Act means an information in the nature of an indictment, and does not include an information before justices; and consequently that the officer in this case was not convicted on “ indictment or presentment.” “ Indictment “ in English law means an indictment by a Grand Jury. In Australia indictable offences are mostly prosecuted by information or presentment of the Attorney-General or other Crown Law Officer- and it is submitted that the intention of the Acts Interpretation Act is merely to make the word indictment extend to this procedure.
– Who was the AttorneyGeneral ?
– Senator Symon.
– Why was the man not suspended?
– The authorities were not in a position to suspend the man, unless they were certain that such action would be the proper one. A proper charge would have had to be formulated, and it was desirable that iti should be known whether it was necessary to suspend him, considering the possible fact that he bad forfeited his office by conviction. He had been convicted, but was still not suspended.
– Then why not have suspended him then?
– I have twice told the honorable senator the reason. It was not known whether the .man could be suspended, or whether that was the proper course, until the legal position bad bien ascertained.
– The Department might have been open to a claim for damages ?
– Exactly. It was desired That a course should be adopted which could be followed in all similar cases hereafter, and the proper step was taken to obtain an opinion from the Law Department of the Commonwealth. The Crown Solicitor thought the case of such importance that he referred it to the AttorneyGeneral. It was seen that it could not be held that the man had lost his office, and that if they had endeavoured to act on the supposition that he had, the Department might have been) involved in an action for damages.
– Because he had not lost’ his office.
– He had committed an offence.
– Then there was a proper procedure to follow.
– What is that procedure ?
– The procedure that was afterwards followed -
The Deputy Postmaster-General of Brisbane was thereupon instructed that it would be necessary for proceedings to be taken against Butler under section 46 of the Public Service Act, i.e., that he should be formally suspended and charged with a breach of the provisions of the Act.
That is, that he should be formally suspended, and charged with a breach of the Act;; and* that is why he has been suspended and a charge made against him.
– The explanation is a thousand times clearer than mud.
– It is better in a case like this for the authorities to know exactly their legal position - that they, should know exactly where they are.
– Where are they?
– It is desirable that no hasty or ill-advised ‘action should be taken by the officials on, perhaps, the first reading of the Act,, which may involve the Commonwealth in costs for litigation.
– How is it that a man may be suspended for giving a back answer, to his superior, whilst he cannot be suspended if he is guilty of robbery?
– If a man has lost his office by virtue of a conviction, as was thought to be the case in Brisbane, he could not be suspended.
– -But this fraud was discovered before the man was convicted, and why was he not then suspended?
– He might have been suspended on suspicion, but, of course, he was not guilty until convicted. After conviction, the question arose whether a. man could be suspended who had already lost his office by reason of the conviction.
– I agree that it seems an extraordinary idea that a man who had been guilty of theft could not be suspended at once. The Public Service Act is very clear on the matter. Section 47 provides -
Where an officer in the Administrative Division is charged by any person with any of the offences mentioned in sub-section 1 of the last preceding section the Minister may suspend such officer.
One of the reasons for the suspension, is being guilty of any disgraceful or improper conduct. It is perfectly clear that, under the Act, not only was there power to suspend this officer, but he ought to have been suspended promptly.
– Before he had been proved guilty?
.- He ought to have been suspended, and he could then have been called upon to show cause. The Public Service is in a most ridiculous position, if a man can be guilty of theft, and actually convicted., and then, after all, receive £83 as arrears of salary for the time he has been absent, as in this case.
If the Department is to be administered in this way we shall soon have complaints, not only of extravagance, but of disgraceful management. I never heard of a case in which a man in the Public Service was charged with theft, or an offence of that character, who was not thereupon suspended, and, if convicted, dismissed as from the date of suspension. I hope that such a case will not occur again. A matter of the kind should not be allowed to pass unnoticed, or without strong protest. This man was dealt with very leniently in the Court - and I do not complain of that, because there may have been some reason - but he was subsequently paid £83, because, owing to some peculiar reading of the law or unfortunate technicality, he had not been dismissed. In my opinion the Minister at the time would have been absolutely justified in suspending the man immediately.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - We shall have anew industry in the Commonwealth if this conduct is allowed in the Public Service. A public servant will only need to steal £7 or £8 in order to have a present made to him of £83 or thereabouts. The whole position is simply ridiculous. I say emphatically and unhesitatingly that the officer who is guilty of the blunder in regard to this man ought to be called upon to repay the £83. The provisions of the Public Service Act are so plain that he who runs may read, and it is useless for Senator Keating to say that it could not be known whether or not the man, was guilty until he had been convicted.
– I was asked for the history of this case, and I have given it. I am not defending the action that was taken.
– I know that what Senator Keating has stated is the excuse placed in his hands by the officers of the Department.
– All this took place during the last Administration.
– The official explanation offered may be characterized as a mere mass of irrelevant verbiage - like the inky fluid which the cuttlefish exudes to cover his retreat. The Public Service Act distinctly provides that if an, officer is merely charged with misconduct of this description, he may be suspended, and, if proved guilty, dismissed. If that plain, straightforward course had been taken, a disgrace ful blunder would not now be recorded against the Department, and this £83 would not have been paid as a premium on crime. A disgraceful want of proper organization has been displayed, and whoever is responsible ought to be severely “ hauled over the coals.”
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).- I agree with the contention raised by Senator Stewart, but I should like to know from Senator Keating whether, after this experience, gained at a cost of£83, the Department is now in a position to cope with any similar case?
– I think so, undoubtedly.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- So far as I am concerned, this matter will not have been satisfactorily disposed of until we have ascertained who has blundered. I presume it was the Deputy PostmasterGeneral who ought to have reported this man’.
– Yes ; but the Deputy Postmaster-General at thattime is now out of the service.
– I am glad to have elicited that information, which ought to be made public. It seems that a gross blunder was perpetrated ‘by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral. The first step to be taken was undoubtedly to suspend this man. There could have been no danger of an action for wrongful dismissal.
– The memorandum I have read only explains the delay in omitting to discharge the man in the first instance.
– That delay seems to have been justifiable. The action in regard to the suspension was wrong ; but before the man could be dismissed it was as desirable to make this something in the nature of a test case. To put the matter in another way, it was desirable to have a final decision, from the highest legal authority, and the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral of the time was properly obtained before the question of dismissal could be decided. The real blunder was in not suspending the man. We have ascertained that that is the fault of a man no longer in the service, and I do not mind saying that it is a good thing he is not.
– He does not get a pension, either.
– That is a good thing, also.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - The Public Service Act is quite clear on the matter, and there should have been no difficulty in connexion with this man’s suspension, and no necessity to refer the matter either to the Solicitor-General or the Attorney-General. Section 46 of the Act provides -
If any officer is guilty of a breach of the provisions of this Act or any regulations thereunder, or is guilty - of any disgraceful or improper conduct; then such officer shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable to such punishment as may be determined upon under the provisions of this section.
Then sub- section 2 provides that -
Any officer (not being an officer included in the administrative division) charged with the commission of an offence -
for any such offence whatever may be tem porarily suspended by the Chief Officer or in emergent cases by any officer prescribed as having power to suspend officers in the office or place in which the offending officer is employed, in which event such suspension shall be immediately reported to the Chief Officer.
This was an emergent case. Apparently some official had discovered a discrepancy in the cash or accounts of the officer in question, and when he did so, he ought either to have suspended the man himself or immediately reported the offence to the Chief Officer, who should have suspended him. That was not done, and the whole of the subsequent proceedings became necessary, and this disbursement of £83 had to be made, because the man was not suspended in the first instance.
– I do not think that that is an adequate reason. I think the £83 should never have been paid.
– I do not know anything about that. The then, Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Buzacott, is now out of the service, but the man who was immediately in charge of this particular officer ought to be questioned with regard to the matter. We ought to know whether he reported the case immediately to his superior, and if he did, why the superior did not immediately take action. The Government should institute an inquiry into this case, because it really discloses a lamentable state of affairs in connexion with the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department. I should like to know whether the Government propose to bring the immediate superior of the offender to book.
– He was the then Deputy Postmaster-General, and he is now out of the service.
– The Deputy Postmaster-General, not the officer immediately over the offender.
– The latter officer would have nothing to do with it.
– The offence should have been reported to the Deputy Postmaster-General by his own officer. If the present Postmaster-General adopts in regard, to this sort of thing the easy indifferent attitude which is adopted by the leader of the Government in the Senate, God help the service. We shall find the public servants riding roughshod over everybody, stealing everything, neglecting everything, and the service will go to ruin. I have another case to bring up. I am very sorry that I have to refer to these matters, but we must probe these things if we are to have a healthy administration of our Departments. I propose to refer to the case of the man Hart, though I have been told that it would not be proper to refer to the case because it is. sub-judice. This is a case the beginning of which was about a man’s lunch. It all hangs upon a man going out to his lunch, and yet it has already involved the Commonwealth in hundreds of pound’s of expense. There is now a case before the Court, and, win or lose, it is probable that the Commonwealth will have to pay the piper to the tune of another few hundred pounds, so that before the matter is finally settled £1,000 will have been taken out of the long-suffering taxpayer’s pocket. We shall probably never have an opportunity to refer to the case if it is not referred to now. In December, 1903, this man Hart was employed in the Brisbane Post Office, and his immediate superior, Mr. Cooling, complained that he was in the habit of going out for luncheon without first obtaining permission. My information is that the other men in the room were in the habit of taking their luncheon inside the building, but Hart, who had a delicate stomach, insisted, as he had a perfect right to do, on going outside for his lunch. The matter was. referred to Mr. Crosbie, Mr. Cooling’s superior, who ruled that there was nothing in the regulations to prevent an officer on staff duty taking the regulation time off. Hart consequently insisted on going out for his lunch, and taking the three-quarters of an hour for the purpose allowed by the regulations. He only took that time.
– Is that quite clear?
– That is quite clear. The difficulty between Hart and Cooling, the man in charge of the room, was that Cooling insisted upon Hart going to him and asking permission to leave.
– Each time.
– On each occasion. Cooling’s reason for insisting upon that was that it was necessary he should have his men always at his command, so that the receiving of incoming mails should not be interfered with. Hart’s reply to that is that he had nothing whatever to do with the mails, that he never left until some other man had come to relieve him, and that the business of the Post Office was not delayed or inconvenienced for a single moment by his going out for luncheon. On one occasion it appears that Hart went to Coolingto ask for permission to leave, but Cooling happened to be absent, and he told Cooling’s locum tenens that he was going out for lunch. This was in the end of September, 1903. On the 7th January, 1904, Hart was suspended for leaving the office without permission while on duty on the 30th December, 1903. I should like the attention of honorable senators, because I am not talking to Hansard. I am trying to impress on the minds of honorable senators that there is something rotten in connexion with the administration of our Post Office.
– It appears to be all centred in Brisbane.
– Whether it is in Brisbane or in Adelaide, it ought to be rooted out. Hart was suspended, and I direct SenatorClemons’ attention to the fact that there was no difficulty about his suspension. The only offence he had committed was that of going out for his dinner without asking permission of his superior officer, but, strange to say, when a man steals £8, he cannot be suspended without the opinion of the Solicitor-General, the AttorneyGeneral, and Heaven knows how many other generals. That seems to me to be red-tapism run stark, staring mad. Hart claimed that he was illegally suspended. A Board of Inquiry was appointed, but the question of his illegal suspension was not permitted to be heard. The only question before the Board of Inquiry was whether Hart had left without asking the permission of his superior officer.
– And thereby committed an offence.
– And thereby committed an offence ; but my contention is that the Board should have started at the beginning. Hart claimed that he left for lunch, as he was permitted to do under the regulations, and therefore his superior officer had no power to suspend him on that account as for an offence. That is where the initial mistake was made in this case. It all springsout of the petty tyranny practised on so many occasions by superior officers in these Departments. I claim that the Board of Inquiry should have settled whether Hart was entitled to go without asking permission. If that had been decided against Hart, he would have deserved whatever punishment was inflicted upon him, but, seeing that he raised that question, and that it was not settled, the whole of the subsequent proceedings are a serious reflection upon the capacity and management of the superiors of the Department. On the 29th January, after three weeks’ suspension, he received notice of the constitution of the Board of Inquiry. In addition toobjecting to the form of the charge, he took objection to Mr. Lowther, a member of the general division, being on the Board. As Mr. Hart was a clerical assistant, he objected to another member of the Board, on the ground that he was a relative of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, that is the lamented Mr. Buzacott, who made the other mistake, and who is now safe out of the firing line. He has retired with all the honours of war, and cannot be got at now ; but this is another of his mistakes. Mr. Hart had made a charge against him, but no notice was taken of those objections. The Board met, and said that the only matter for inquiry was whether he had left without Mr. Cooling’s permission. Mr. Hart had’ admitted that he left the room without permission, but said that Mr. Cooling was absent at the time. ‘How could he possibly ask permission from a man who was not there? The whole thing appears to me to be just a piece of petty persecution on the part of Mr. Cooling. When the inquiry was closed, Mr. Hart appealed, and under regulation 276, he required acopy of the report of the proceedings, but that was refused. He then communicated with the Commissioner, claiming first that the Board of Inquiry was illegally constituted, secondly, that it had illegally restricted his case, and thirdly, that it had refused a copy of itsreport to him. The letter, I am informed, was ignored by the Commissioner. Surely Mr. Hart was entitled to a copy of the Board’s report ! The next communication he received was from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, on the 2 is? March, when he was informed that his suspension was removed, that his salary was reduced from £170 to £162, and that he was transferred to Bundaberg. That was the decision of the Board. Mr. Hart claimed that it had no right to deal in that way with him. Then, although he had been under suspension from the 30th December, 1903, to the 21st March, 1904, and had practically been convicted of an offence, he was paid his full salary. If a man is convicted of an offence against the rules or customs of the Department, it is not common, I believe, for him to receive full salary. Mr. Hart refused to go to Bundaberg, and on the 29th March he was suspended for refusing to go there. On the 10th May, fortyseven days after the suspension, he was informed that another inquiry would be held. On the 16th May he was informed as to the constitution of the Board, and again he objected to Mr. Lowther, a member of the general division, having a seat thereon. Mr. Hart, I may say, was one of those unfortunate men who had passed a civil service examination, but whose work had been classified as general division work by the Commissioner, and who was treated, so far as this Board was concerned, as a general division officer. Honorable senators will recollect that an officer is entitled to have a member of his own division on any Board of Inquiry which is appointed to investigate a charge against him. On the 26th May the Board met, and when Mr. Hart again claimed that he had been illegally suspended, it refused to deal with that objection, and said that his refusal to go to Bundaberg was the only question with which it could deal. Again he applied for a copy of the Board’s report, and did not receive it. He then submitted his case to the Deputy Postmaster-General, who decided that it could not be re-opened. On the 25th June, the Deputy Postmaster-General informed Mr. Hart that the suspension had been removed, and that he was immediately to proceed to Bundaberg. Mr. Hart repeated his former objections, and again refused to go there. On the 16th July an. Order in Council appeared in the Gazette, ordering him to go to Bundaberg. Again he claimed that the position of assistant in Bundaberg was a class below that of officer of the travelling pest-office, and demanded a proper inquiry. The Commissioner then referred his case to an Appeal Board. On the 25th June, Mr. Hart again received his salary in full. Notwithstanding the fact that he had not done a single stroke of work for the Department from the 6th January, he was paid his salary up to the 25th June. I do not intend to enter into all the ramifications of the case, but the fact remains that for twelve months he humbugged the Department, or it humbugged him ; and that both of them humbugged the taxpayer to such an extent that Mr. Hart drew over £200 without doing a single hour’s work for the country. The initial mistake was made when the Board of Inquiry refused to inquire whether he had disobeyed a reasonable order or not. Apparently it was taken for granted by the Board .that any order issued by Mr. Cooling was a reasonable and lawful one. Mr. Hart, as a man who was on his trial, had every right to question the legality of the order. It was not permitted to be questioned, and I submit that from that mistake the whole of the subsequent difficulties sprang. All this shows again the essential incompetence of some of the men who occupy high positions in connexion with this Department. Some one has seriously blundered in connexion with this case. Even if Hart’s claim for damages is not upheld by the Court, it is evident that some officers have been guilty of the very grossest neglect, and are not fit to keep the positions of responsibility that they now hold; In July, 1888, Hart entered the Public Service as a clerk in the Post and Telegraph Department at Roma. On various occasions he acted as postmaster there. In 1897 he was promoted to the position of travelling mail officer, doing duty in the Roma district. In the early part of 1901 he was acting as relieving travelling mail officer on the most important section in the State, that between Brisbane and Woolloongabba. While on that duty, he made suggestions to the Department which were adopted, and resulted in a saving to the State of about £200 a year. This, however, Hart says, roused the resentment of an officer, who hinted that he would be removed. We can easily understand that. We know how men in high positions in the Commonwealth service resent a suggestion from a subordinate. I have heard of dozens of cases where, when men made suggestions which would facilitate business, they were told to mind their own affairs, and not interfere in matters which concerned only their superiors. At about the same time Hart called attention to a looseness in the system of accounts in connexion with, certain charged letters, with the object of preventing a leakage of revenue, estimated at probably £1,000 a year. He was then complimented by the Under-Secretary of the Department, Mr. R. T. Scott, who is now Secretary of the Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Department. An unworthy officer surely would not be complimented by the head of his, Department. I need not enter into the remaining portions of his statement. I have touched on the most salient points. I am not advocating Hart’s case. I do not pretend to say whether he was in the right or in the wrong. What I wish to emphasize is the gross incapacity of the men in charge. Why was it possible for Hart practically to defy the Department for twelve months? He compelled them to pay his salary during the whole of that period, when he did not do a single stroke of work. A Department that permits such a state of affairs seems to me to require to have the hose turned upon it. Something needs to be done to purify and cleanse it. I hope that the present Postmaster-General will keep a keen eye on the administration of his Department. If he does not, other cases, such as this, will arise all over the Commonwealth. I am afraid that these cases are merely an indication of a disorder which is deep-rooted. I ask the Minister to probe the internal arrangements of the Department, and see whether there is not something seriously wrong with it.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - Both the cases referred to by Senator Stewart certainly indicate some necessity for closer supervision of the management of the Post and Telegraph Department, at any rate, so far as Queensland is concerned. I do not intend to discuss the merits of Hart’s case, because it is sub judice.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I wish to direct attention to the item concerning the conveyance of mails from and to Tasmania and Victoria. I have incidentally referred to this matter at other times, but this is a suitable time for me to take action in regard to it. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Conveyance of mails per Union S.S. Co.’s vessels under contract from and to Tasmania andVictoria,£11,000,” by distributing the amount on aper capita basis.
Most honorable senators know the circumstances, but I shall briefly relate them. The mails conveyed between the mainland of Australia and Tasmania, are paid for by a subsidy which appears in the Estimates as £11,000. That payment, being under the head of transferred services, is borne wholly and solely by Tasmania, with certain reservations as to poundage fees, into which I need not enter, and which I think ought not to embarrass the question in any way. I shall give a few illustrations in support of the request which I have moved. I first drew attention to this matter in connexion with the telephone services provided for in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill which was before us a little while ago. As honorable senators remember, there was in the Bill an item of £30,000 for the provision of a telephone service between Melbourne and Sydney ; and it was pointed out at the time that this money would be paid for by all the States per capita. Although this was a service any profits from which would go to the two States involved, the expenditure, as I say, had to be borne by the whole of the States.
– And the advantages of the service would be shared by the two States of New South Wales and Victoria.
– Of course. There was another illustration later on, in connexion with the Vancouver service. Some years ago the expense of this service was borne by the two States chiefly concerned, namely, New South Wales and Queensland. When we discussed the matter the other day, it was decided - and I do not object to the decision - that the whole of that expense should be borne per capita. The fruits of that decision may be seen in the Estimates now before us, according to which Tasmania will have to pay £1,194 as her share of the expense of conveying the mails by Vancouver. I need not say that Tasmania does not derive benefit representing anything like that amount.
– I do not think that any of the States do.
– I need not say that Tasmania gladly pays her share, but I am pleading for uniformity in our system of mail conveyance. There is a still further illustration- in these Estimates. The expenses of the service to New Guinea appear, not, as they might, in the Estimates of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, but in the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs. The regular subsidy of £3,600 is under the head of transferred expenditure, but there are items under the heading of “ other “ expenditure, and it is to this class of expenditure that I desire the Tasmanian subsidy to be placed. In the case of New Guinea, .there are three items of £400, £2,000, and £6,000, a total of £8,400, under the heading of “ other “ expenditure.
– Some of these are new services.
– They may be new in a sense, but they are not newer than the subsidy to Tasmania. They are renewed or altered contracts.
– Some are not renewed contracts, but extended contracts, covering greater distances.
– They are either renewed or modified, but the principle is precisely the same. This expenditure of £8,400 will be borne by all the States per capita. I think I have given three very forcible illustrations, which show that the claim I am now making is just and fair. It is most desirable, now that the Commonwealth controls the postal service, that there should be uniformity, not only in the general management, but in the distribution, especially of the expenditure.
– There are other services which will have to be treated in the same way if we pass this request.
– Undoubtedly. I have looked carefully through every item in the schedule, with the result that I can find no other case similar to that of Tasmania.
– There are other cases, but they are included iri general items.
– There is one case of a mail service from Brisbane to Port Darwin.
– And another of a service between Port Darwin and Wyndham.
– I regret that the subject of these services was not brought up ; I do not; ask for more than I am prepared to give. The request is for bare justice, which, however, I should not like to see confined to Tasmania to the exclusion of any other State. On every occasion I have voted for the per capita distribution of such expenditure. The argument has been used that Tasmania should bear this expense, because each State has to deliver its own mails. In reply, I have to say that Tasmania is prepared to pay for the delivery of her own mails ; but this subsidy means a great deal more - it means the conveyance of the mails of the whole of the other States of the Commonwealth to Tasmanian territory. The position is not analogous to that of two bordering States. Each State on the mainland conveys its mails on its own railways to its own boundary, where they are picked up by the trains of the adjoining State. The position of Tasmania, however, is very different. We are prepared to convey our own mails to the limit of our own State; but when we have done so we are faced with this sea passage. The question is - who ought to pay the cost of conveying the mails over this sea passage? I. do nol see any fair and honest reason why the whole of the expense should be borne by Tasmania. The benefit is shared by the whole of the States?, more or less. I may be told that there are not many people in the ‘two remotest States of Queensland and Western Australia who send letters to Tasmania.
– It is a great convenience to passengers to have this regular steamer service.
– That I admit; but this is purely a mail subsidy.
– Is it?
– In what sense is it not?
– I happen to know that th–; increased subsidy was given in consideration of the provision of larger steamers, more suitable for passenger traffic.
– A Select Committee was appointed by the Senate to inquire into this matter.
– I was a member of that Committee.
– I shall remind the honorable senator of what happened. The radical! object aimed at was fast steamship communication, primarily - though I do not say that, incidentally, this did not help the passenger traffic - for mail purposes.
The whole inquiry was on the basis of the regular, frequent, and rapid delivery of mails.
– And greater facilities for the tourist traffic.
– I frankly admit that, incidentally, that was so; but the whole basis of the inquiry was the expeditious delivery of the mails. I remind Senator Pearce that the demand made by Tasmania, and practically agreed to or sympathized with by the other States, especially Victoria, was that there should be a more frequent and rapid delivery of mails - that was the essence of the whole inquiry. I admit that the present provision, while it secures the rapid delivery of mails, gives excellent facilities to passengers. But why should Tasmania pay the whole cost of f acilities which are shared by every citizen on the Continent? This rapid steam-ship service is a distinct convenience to the people of Victoria.
– It is a bit of an advantage to Tasmania.
– I am not denying for one moment that Tasmania gets some advantage, but I emphasize the point that Tasmania does not get the whole advantage. Let us consider the position of Western Australia with regard to her mails. Most of the mails to Western Australia, as we know, are taken by the boats of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
– That is not so.
– Very well ; I am prepared to withdraw the word “most.” We must all admit that the Orient Steam Navigation Company and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s boats, which maintain a service weekly from almost all the Eastern ports of Australia, convey mails to Western Australia.
– What does that cost the Commonwealth?
– It might not cost the Commonwealth very much ; but what [ am asking for will cost the Commonwealth hardly anything. It matters a good deal to Tasmania when she has to pay every penny of it, but if it is made a per capita contribution it will fall very lightly on the whole of the Commonwealth. The mails which go to Western Australia by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s boats are paid for per capita ; West ern Australia does not pay a farthing under the heading of “transferred” services for the carriage of those mails. Honorable senators may say that such an arrangement could not be avoided, but that does not affect my argument, nor the comparison I am making, nor does it in any way weaken my claim tor fair treatment for Tasmania.
– Would it not be a fairer comparison to take the Wyndham to Port Darwin service?
– I do not think that would be a fair comparison. I have already said that I am quite prepared to have this rule, which I believe to be a sound and wholesome one, applied to every similar service in the Commonwealth. More than once I have expressed the opinion that now that we have taken over the sole control of the Postal service of the Commonwealth, all these subsidies should be paid for per capita, since the whole Commonwealth benefits by the services. I say again that Tasmania is the main instance of an exception to the rule. That State, whether for her sins or otherwise, already suffers very considerably with regard to postal and telegraphic facilities. She has lately had an additional amount of about £1,000 placed against her because of the Vancouver mails, which she will willingly pay. She pays herself - and I make no objection whatever to this - gratuities for the conveyance of mails by non-contract vessels. I do not ask that that should be considered as “ other “ expenditure. She has to pay a special subsidy, as every one knows, in connexion with the Tasmanian cable. I make no claim whatever in connexion with that ; but it should not be necessary for me to remind members of the Committee that it costsTasmanians considerably more to cable to the Mainland than it costs, say, a resident of Adelaide to cable to Port Darwin.
– And that charge is on thetop of the subsidy which the State pays.
– It does not cost a resident of Tasmania any more to cable to Adelaide than it costs a citizen of Adelaide to cable to Tasmania.
– That is so.
– Then where is the disadvantage?
– Surely Senator Pearce does not need to be told. I do not say thatthe whole of the disadvantage appertains to Tasmania.
– It is a disadvantage to Tasmania that she should not have as cheap communication as the other States have.
– It must be obvious that Tasmania is suffering under a disadvantage in this respect. Her people have to pay more for cable communication than have the people of any other State. I say that we are prepared to put up with that.
– Tasmania is very sweet on private enterprise, and this is a private enterprise concern.
– I am making no motion in connexion with the cable. I do not propose to try to remedy that matter; but surely it is fair to point out how much Tasmania suffers in connexion with postal and telegraphic communication, because of that reason superadded to all others? I point out that there is an opportunity now afforded the Committee to do justice, and at the same time to initiate a uniform system which, if it is imposed, will extend its advantages not merely to Tasmania, but all over the Commonwealth. What I propose should appeal to every member of the Committee, no matter from what State he comes.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - The matter referred to by Senator Clemons, who proposed to transfer this amount of £11,000 from the “ transferred “ expenditure column to the column for “other “ or “new” expenditure has been dealt with in a variety of ways at different times in the Senate. Speaking for myself, it is one which has naturally engaged my attention and interest as a representative of Tasmania, and particularly because, as honorable senators aTe aware, I was chairman of the Select Committee to which Senator Clemons and Senator Pearce has made reference. I think that it is well, before we come to any decision upon the point, that we should be acquainted with the facts. As honorable senators are aware, in connexion with the transferred Departments of the Commonwealth, we are under an obligation under sections 89 and 93 of the Constitution to maintain those Departments as at the time of transfer, and consequently in connexion with “ transferred “ expenditure, when we pass it here as such, we debit the particular’ State To whose transferred Department it is applied. When Tasmania came into the Commonwealth, this was the condition of affairs with regard to her mail communication with the outer world, as disclosed before the Committee of which Senator Pearce and myself were members. Tasmania had a contract entered into prior to Federation with the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand for the carriage of. all mails out of the State of Tasmania to Australia, but for the carriage of no inward mails, except the English mails, every week from Melbourne. For this service the State was paying the Union Steamship Company at the rate of £6,000 a year,’ and received a tri-weekly service during what were called the summer months, but which were not specified, between Launceston and Melbourne, and she was entitled to receive a service one day per week between Melbourne and a North-Western Coast port, and I think an increased service of two days per week was optional. All, therefore, that Tasmania secured under the contract was that there should1 be at least four trips each way every week during the summer months - three between Launceston and Melbourne, and one between the north-west coast and Melbourne, with perhaps, at times, an additional trip. During the winter season, which lasts about eight months, there were to be two trips a week each way between Launceston and Melbourne, and one between the northwest coast and Melbourne. But, under the new contract called for by Senator Drake, when Postmaster-General, Tasmania gets three trips a week each way between Launceston and Melbourne all the year round, and two trips in the summer and one in the winter each week each- way between Melbourne and the north-west coast. Furthermore, the contract requires that steamers of greater speed and larger capacity .and accommodation than were formerly being used shall be employed. Tasmania gets this improved service for £11,000 a year, less about ,£2,000 in poundages. Prior to Federation, however, the State was paying £6,000 a year for a much inferior service, in connexion with which she contracted for the carriage inward of her English mail only, whereas she now has all her mails, inwards and’ outwards, contracted for.
– That is a distinction without a difference.
– It is an important difference. It is necessary, to be candid with the Committee, to make this contrast. I have thought f rom the outset that part of the £11,000 which is now paid should be treated as in excess of the transferred obligations of Tasmania, and as chairman of the committee to which I have referred, and as a private member, I have made representations on the subject, and in regard to the cable, to Senator Drake and his successors, and the heads of the Postal Department; and, consequently, as soon as the present Government came into office I was asked to write a memorandum putting forward the case of Tasmania. That memorandum, when written, was submitted to the Cabinet, and was dealt with by the Treasurer, and the Postmaster-General in particular. I think that, without breaking a confidence, I may say that the feeling of the Ministers is in favour of the allocation of part of this amount on a per capita basis. The question arose as to what portion of it should be so treated, and we were immediately confronted with the fact that there are a number of Inter- State services of a similar character, such as between the north-eastern ports of Australia, along the coast of Queensland to Port Darwin, between the north-western coast of Australia and the Northern Territory of South Australia, and between Adelaide and Port Darwin and others. The Cabinet therefore decided to obtain a complete list of these services, andthen to deal comprehensively with the whole question. It is impossible to deal with the whole of this amount, as suggested by Senator Clemons. It cannot he said that Tasmania should not pay at least the £6,000 which she previously paid for the despatch of her mails to the mainland, and the conveyance of her English mails from there. For the conveyance of her English mails the same provision has now been made at poundage mileage rates as was made in connexion with Queensland by an. addendum to the resolution ratifying the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, added in another place, and agreed to here. Therefore, Tasmania herself now pays only for the conveyance of her Inter-State mails. Each State on the mainland pays for the conveyance of the mails of other States across its territory, or from its borders to its capital. Senator Clemons has said that Tasmania pay*- for the conveyance of the mails of a number of States, but the other States all do the same. For instance, when mails are sent from Western Australia and South Australia to Queensland, Victoria is responsible for their con- veyance between” Border Town and’ Albury, and New South Wales for their conveyance between Albury and Wallangarra. Of course, the question arises : What about the strip of sea intervening between Australia and Tasmania?
– Why should not the Commonwealth pay for the conveyance of mails across that strip of sea?
– It is an ocean service.
– It is no more an ocean service than is the service from Wyndham to Port Darwin.; it is really an Liter*- State service. The waters to be crossed are the waters of Tasmania.
– Why? It cannot be said that the intervening sea is the exclusive territory of Tasmania.
– The waters between Wilson’s Promontory and the mainland of Tasmania are under the jurisdiction of Tasmania. It is only a few years since some Victorian fishermen were using certain trawling nets in Bass Straits prohibited by the Fisheries, laws of Tasmania, and, when interfered with, claimed that they were practically on the high seas, and that the Tasmanian authorities had no jurisdiction over them. The firm, with which I am connected was engaged in the case, and we conducted the prosecution successfully and gained a conviction.
– Was that within three miles of the coast?
– No, I think not. In the letters patent of 17th June, 1880,. issued under the great seal of the UnitedKingdom to Sir Frederick’ Weld, asGovernor of Tasmania, Tasmania was described as “the Island of Tasmania and all the islands and territories lying to the south* of -Wilson’s Promontory in 39 degrees 12 minutes of South latitude.” Tasmaniaclaims, as against Victoria or other States, jurisdiction to within three miles of Wilson’s Promontory. One of the nets in the particular case to which I have referred was alleged to be six miles long, so that it alone would have extended to a distance beyond three miles of the coast. My point is this : So far as Tasmania is concerned, it could never be suggested that the original contract for £6,000 was not a transferred’ obligation. How far the increased cost is due entirely to the new service - disregarding the interests of Tasmania - and how far it is due to the maintenance of the Depart* ment as at the time of transfer - having regard, of course,, to the necessities of extension and development - is difficult to determine. But, so far as the Government are concerned, they propose to re-organize the whole system of the allocation of the cost of Inter-State mails, whether they be carried by land or sea, and they intend to follow a uniform principle. When I ask honorable members not to agree to place this £11,000 in the column “ other “ or “ new “ expenditure, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do so, not because I think that Tasmania is not entitled to claim that a certain portion of the amount should be treated as Commonwealth expenditure, but in order that the new arrangement may be carried out comprehensively, systematically, and uniformly. I do not think that any one could fairly urge that Tasmania should be relieved entirely of the obligation that attached to her, in common with the other States, prior to Federation, to forward and receive her mail matter. It we had not been federated, Tasmania would still have been under the obligation to send her own mails out. Previously she was paying £6,000 for sending the mails out of Tasmania and conveying the English mails in. I think that a substantial portion of the £11,000 should be debited to the Commonwealth, but as to what that proportion should be, I am not in a position to advise the Committee. The Government are considering the matter, and are obtaining the fullest information, with a view to treating all similar services throughout the Commonwealth upon uniform and systematic lines.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). > - I have taken considerable interest in this matter, and I agree to a large extent with what Senator Clemons has said. But I would point out that there are other services in the Commonwealth which are ora a similar footing, and which should be dealt with on the same basis. The other items to which the Minister has referred are so embedded in the vote that it is impossible to find them. Senator Drake will bear me out in saying that if it had not been for the representations made by the Select Committee, of which Senator Keating was the Chairman, a much cheaper service might have been arranged - that is, if tenders had been called merely for the conveyance of mails, apart from any consideration as to the facilities offered for passenger traffic.
– The people of Tasmania wanted better steamers, and it was understood that superior vessels would be provided.
– Yes. The rest of the States were perfectly indifferent as to whether or not better steamers were engaged in the service.
– That is an utterly incorrect statement.
– I heard all the evidence, and I know what was stated. The Tasmanian people urged that better steamers should be employed, in order to encourage the tourist traffic, and the Committee took that into consideration, and recommended - I agreed with the recommendation - that the Postmaster-General should make the payment of the increased subsidy conditional upon the provision of better steamers. I would point out to Senator Clemons that if this were to be regarded as a mail service pure and simple, to be paid for by une Commonwealth, it should be made the subject of open tender.
– Tenders were called for the present service.
– Yes, but with a certain stipulation as to the character of the vessels to be employed. All that was required, so far as .the Commonwealth was concerned, was that the mails should be carried upon certain days and within a certain time. This, of course, ‘is an Inter-State service, but there are some State mail services which are almost upon all fours. In Western Australia we have a service between Albany and Esperance, which was subsidized by the State partly as a trade service. When the Commonwealth took that service over, the PostmasterGeneral said, “ Why should my Department have to pay a subsidy which is intended to encourage trade within a State ?” He proposes to take away the conveniences which they have enjoyed in the past. Although Western Australia has to bear the expense of that service, it is to be taken away from that State because the PostmasterGeneral says that it is not the policy of the Department to continue it. I agree with Senator Clemons that a just proportion of the amount paid under Inter-State services of this character should be charred upon a per capita basis, but I cannot pick out an item here and there in that connexion. I am. however, prepared to vote for the general application of that principle throughout the Commonwealth upon some recognised plan.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I think that Senator Keating will admit that I am one of those who have so consistently urged that fair play should be given to Tasmania in regard to this matter. When I asked him in August last, if the Government would take measures to have more equitable treatment meted out to that State, his reply was -
It is not considered that an inter-State mail service by water differs materially from a similar service overland, or that it could be treated on the same basis as an ocean mail service, without a reconsideration of the whole of the arrangements under which inter-State postal services are carried on throughout Australia.
I understood from him at that time that the question was being reconsidered. I desire to know what progress has been made in thatdirection, and whether he can give me any assurance that the matter will be dealt with at an early date. Needless to say, I shall vote with Senator Clemons, because I regard the proposed vote as new expenditure, inasmuch as it is being paid under a new contract.
– It is admitted that part of it is added expenditure, as the result of Federation. The question at issue is, how much of the total amount is new expenditure, and upon what principle should it be dealt with?
– Senator Keating’s argument that this part of the ocean belongs to Tasmania can not, I think, be sustained. We have been given control of the adjacent Islands; but I have always understood that our jurisdiction does not extend beyond three miles of the coast. In my opinion, therefore, the view he has advanced is not correct.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).- It is just as well that this matter has been raised. It is all very fine for Senator Pearce and others to say that they do not believe in one or two items being picked out for special treatment. But I would point out that this is the only item which could be selected to illustrate the argument that has been used in favour of adopting a uniform system. What I specially wish to bring under the notice of the Committee is that, although this question has been previously discussed in the Senate, the Postal Department has utterly ignored the arguments used upon former occasions. If the matter had not been again raised to-night, the existing condition of affairs would have obtained next year when the Estimates came under review. In my opinion, it is time that the Postal Department tackled this matter in a proper manner. Of course, the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, has assured us. that the whole question will be gone into thoroughly. But it seems to me that if we did not keep pegging away at it, its determination would probably remain in abeyance for years. The argument that, because Tasmania paid £6,000 per annum for the old service, and because the new improved service is costing £11,000 per annum, that State is deriving the whole of the benefit, is a very weak one. I submit that at least the difference between the cost of the old and the new services should be distributed per capita. .
– I shall move in that direction if I fail to carry this amendment.
– There is not a State in the Commonwealth which is not participating in the benefits derived from this new service. New South Wales, Victor ia, and South Australia specially benefit. Since this more frequent service has been in existence, more than half as many passengers again have–
– Spent their money in Tasmania.
– Have travelled from the mainland to Tasmania. They go to that State to recuperate their health, which has been broken down by the vile climate which obtains in the other States. I contend that the improved passenger service benefits Victoria equally with Tasmania. Will Senator Trenwith argue that more people from Tasmania do not come to Victoria now than formerly?
– Tasmania asked for special steamers, to an extent that no other State did.
– When she entered into Federation, Tasmania asked for an improvement in her mail service. Incidentally that meant an improvement in her passenger service. But will any one seriously contend that any State should be content to continue the old, obsolete, service which it had prior to Federation? If a State is granted an improvement in its mail service, is it to be urged1 that the whole of the cost of that service should be debited to that State? Is not Tasmania paying her proportion of the cost involved in an improvement in, the Vancouver service? In my opinion Senator Clemons is not asking for anything that is unreasonable. I quite agree that we should have uniformity in this matter. Let us bring about that. uniformity by charging the whole of the expenditure on these services upon a per capita basis. Certainly the difference between the cost of the old and the new Tas.manian (services1 should be ‘allocated on that basis.
– Before the honorable senator resumes his seat, I may mention that more than one Attorney-General of the Commonwealth has advised that this expenditure can only be charged as “ transferred “ expenditure.
– The late AttorneyGeneral did not.
– I do not know that he was ever asked.
– But I do.
– We know that lawyers differ. What is the Opinion of the present Attorney-General ?
– The present Government is the only one, so far as I can see, that has Taken the subject up.
– If the present AttorneyGeneral is in favour of my view, I shall adopt his opinion in preference to all others. If, however, his opinion is against mine, I shall think he is wrong. What difference is there between this and the Vancouver mail service? It is time the thing was gone into in a proper way, and that at least the extra £5,000 was distributed per capita.
– I express the hope that my colleague will be satisfied with the assurance of the Minister. “ Fair play is bonnie play.” We have been told that the case which Senator Clemons has been advocating, with all other similar cases, will be dealt with on one basis by the Ministry. We cannot ask for anything more than that. I have always thought that Tasmania had a claim, but not in respect of the full amount of £11,000.. I have argued with Senator Clemons himself upon the very lines that Senator Keating has argued. Tasmania stipulated that she should get a better service, with more passenger accommodation and greater speed. We have obtained those benefits. True, Tasmania is not the only State that benefits from the improved service, but we have gained to a considerable extent. A point that stands out prominently in this debate is the need for putting the whole of the mail services upon a per capita basis, whether thev are Inter- State services or services within a State. It is just as important to a man in a remote corner of the Commonwealth that his letters should be carried swiftly and safely to another part of the same State as it is to a man in Tasmania that his letters should be carried safely to the mainland ot Australia. I think, moreover, that Tasmania will come out of the bargain worse off if we insist upon the whole £11,000 being debited per capita, because in that case other mail services must be debited in the same manner.
– I do not care whether Tasmania comes best or worst out of the bargain. What I want’ is justice.
– The honorable senator wants to get some immediate benefit for Tasmania. But if we secure this object we must be prepared to concede to others what we are asking for ourselves. It seems to me that it is very likely that if the concession is granted, when we pay our share towards the services of the other States, also, it is likely that we shall not benefit in any material degree at all. T express the hope that the assurance of the Government will be accepted.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- We have been told that it is the object of the Government to secure uniformity. I agree with that. But we have not secured uniformity under this Appropriation Bill. The schedule bristles with instances where uniformity has not been observed. If ray request is carried we shall not be departing farther from uniformity., but shall be getting nearer to it. If we intend to make a start in the direction of uniformity, now is the time to do it. I go much further than Senator Mulcahy does. I admit that there is a desire for uniformity. I propose this request with the object of having effect given to it. Senator Pearce has made some remarks about the new contract benefiting Tasmania. The contract was not made by. the Tasmanian Government. It was made absolutely by the Federal Government.
– Tasmania could not have made a mail contract, and the previous contract fell in.
– Senator Keating emphasizes my point. It has been urged that Tasmania has succeeded in making this contract for the benefit of her passenger traffic. Tasmania had nothing whatever to do with it. As to the time we have to wait, I may remark that what I complain of has been going on for many years. When is it to be discontinued? For- over three years, -certainly, Tasmania has been paying considerably more than the £6,000 which she formerly paid. I absolutely refuse to wait any longer. I am surprised at what Senator Mulcahy has said. I am surprised that he should urge another representative of Tasmania to hesitate to press this motion and do his best to secure its object, on the absolutely ignoble, descreditable, dishonorable grounds–
– Is the honorable senator in order in talking in this extraordinary fashion?
– I am perfectly in order if the honorable senator will sit down.
– I am asking the Chairman whether Senator Clemons is in order in using the expression “ dishonorable, ignoble, and discreditable.”
– I did not understand Senator Clemons to apply those epithets to Senator Mulcahy.
– Nor to any one else. I shall not repeat the adjectives, which I think are sufficiently fresh in Senator Mulcahy’s memory, but simply say that every one could be applied to the attitude of Tasmania if the people of that State were to go carefully into debtor and creditor accounts, and consider whether it would pay them better to adopt a purely Federal scheme of per capita expenditure, or to dodge and avoid such an arrangement.
– Some Tasmanian representatives have used that argument.
– I have not done so, and I am prepared to stand by anything that I have said. I shall never be a party to suggesting for one moment that Tasmania should barter and bargain on this question.
– Who is suggesting that Tasmania should do so?
– The honorable senator is undoubtedly making the suggestion. I move the request as a plea for uniformity; and I shall persist in it to a division.
Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania).- Am I in order in proposing an amendment to the request that the House of Representatives distribute £5,000 of this expenditure on a per capita basis ?
– I have already intimated that I intend to move a request to that effect, if the request before us is negatived.
– I asked the question because I cannot support the proposal that Senator Clemons has laid before us.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “Conveyance of mails per Union S.S. Company’s vessels under contract from and to Tasmania and Victoria, £11,000,” by distributing the amount upon a per capita basis - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Conveyance of mails per Union S.S. Company’s vessels under contract from and to Tasmania and Victoria,£11,000,” by distributing£5,000 of the amount on a per capita basis.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - I voted for the request moved by Senator Clemons, because I think it is a good Federal principle that all mail carriage within the Commonwealth should be a Federal charge. I know there are similar cases elsewhere, with which we have not attempted to deal ; but the fact that we have missed our opportunity in respect to these, does not absolve us from doing what is right in the case of Tasmania. For that reason, although Queensland and Western Australia suffer, I am still prepared to extend this amount of justice to Tasmania. However, I rise to say that, in my view, either the whole amount should be a per capita charge, or no part of the amount. For that reason I cannot support the request submitted by Senator Mulcahy. The honorable! senator may laugh, but I think my position is perfectly logical.
Why should this £5,000 be placed on the Estimates as a per capita charge? Simply to provide better passenger accommodation, from which Tasmania benefits.
Senator TRENWITH (Victoria).- We are all agreed that the cost of mail services, and every other Federal service, should be distributed on a per capita basis between the States. That is the principle underlying the Federal movement, but in order that there should be no great dislocation of existing arrangements, it was provided that during a certain period which has not yet expired, certain bookkeeping should be maintained. That is why this vote does not appear as new expenditure distributed on a per capita basis. With reference to the proposal to make £5,000 of the vote per capita expenditure, I point out that while I agree that some portion of the vote should be distributed per capita since it is in no sense transferred expenditure, but added expenditure, it is very difficult’ to know what portion of the vote is added expenditure.
– I do not think that Senator Trenwith has quite disposed of this matter. The. honorable senator admits that there is an injustice in the vote as submitted, but he desires that it should “be left to Ministers who have promised to look into it.
– Ministers and Parliament.
– I was just going to say so. I have more confidence in the Senate, to which I belong, than I have in Ministers who are at present engaged in trying to push down people’s throats legislation for which they have no authority. With the item, and the facts before us now, we are as capable of laying down a just rule as are Ministers. There is some logic in the request moved by Senator Mulcahy, and, in default of a. better proposal, I intend to support it. I supported the request moved by Senator Clemons, because I think that all these mail subsidies should! be dealt with as per capita expenditure. The present request, if agreed to, will come before another place, and the principle involved may be adopted. I desire to admit quite candidly that Tasmania! asked for the new service, principally because she desired better accommodation for the tourist traffic. Still, whatever advantage Tasmania has derived, it must be admitted that the Commonwealth also derives some advantage,’ and I am, therefore, prepared to vote for the ‘request.
Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania).- Having considered the matter further, I think it would hardly be consistent with my first speech on this subject, if I were to persevere with the request I have moved. With the consent of the Committee, I should like to withdraw it. I hope that the next time the matter comes to be dealt with in the Senate we shall consider it as gentlemen dealing with gentlemen.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I am disappointed that the request should have been withdrawn. When speaking before, I indicated that if the whole sum of £11,000 was not treated as per capita expenditure, at least the increase of £5,000 should be so treated. I do not believe in moving a request, and immediately afterwards withdrawing it. I propose to give honorable senators, who think that £5,000 of this subsidy should be treated as per capita expenditure, an opportunity to vote in that direction. I, therefore, move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item “ Conveyance of mails per Union S.S. Company’s vessels under contract from and to Tasmania and Victoria, £11,000,” by distributing£5,000 of the amount upon a per capita basis.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- It has been urged that it is illogical to ask, not that the whole of this amount should be allocated on a per capita basis, but that a portion of it should be so treated. There is nothing illogical in the request, and nothing that is not warranted by what has already been sanctioned in the schedule. The Committee has already sanctioned, in regard to the mail service to the Pacific Islands, an arrangement analogous to that which Senator O’Keefe wishes to have made in connexion with Tasmania. Three thousand six hundred pounds is provided under the head of transferred expenditure for a subsidy towards the mail service between New Hebrides and other Islands, while three other amounts - for additional subsidies on condition that black labour is not used, for the extension of the service, and for its improvement - are provided under the heading of “other” expenditure.
– That is, an external service.
– It is not wholly an external service, seeing that it is a service in part to a Territory of the Commonwealth. The honorable senator in connexion with the vote for that service has approved of an arrangement analogous to that which Senator O’Keefe now suggests.
– I disapprove of that contract altogether.
– At any rate, the Committee has agreed to it, the circumstances being almost identical with those surrounding the Tasmanian service, which, in the first place, has been improved, and, in the second place, is new, and for which an increased amount has been granted. If the request is insisted on, the Tasmanian subsidy will be paid on the same basis as the subsidy for the mail service to the Pacific Islands.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
First schedule and the title agreed to.
The Senate : Travelling Expenses : Sydney Government House.
– I would ask honorable senators to agree to the reconsideration of the two items with regard to which it has been decided to prefer requests) to the House of Representatives. In connexion with subdivision No. 1 of division No. 25, relating to Government House, Sydney, the Committee decided to request that the vote be reduced by £1,000. I am now in a position to tell honorable members that, so far as the Government are concerned, this line shall never appear on the Estimates again. If any arrangement is made in the future with regard to the occupation of Government House, Sydney, by the GovernorGeneral, it will have to be embodied in a Bill, and discussed on its merits, altogether apart from the Estimates. I would point out to honorable senators that this vote has been struck off at a moment’s notice, and without any warning to the New South Wales Government, and that, if we insist upon our request, we shall lay ourselves open to the charge of having acted cavalierly towards the State authorities. I feel quite confident that, if I had been able to say last night what I am able to announce this evening, the request would not have been agreed to, and I would therefore ask honorable senators to agree to the reconsideration of the item and the withdrawal of the request. I also desire that the request with regard to the reduction of travelling expenses for members of the Senate should be withdrawn. Honorable senators know that they have already accomplished all that they desired, because the expenditure to which they objected will not be again incurred. If honorable senators will agree to adopt the course I have suggested, the Bill will become law to-morrow, and the public servants of the Commonwealth will receive their salaries at the usual time - on the last day of the month. If, however, the Senate persists in its requests, the payments to public servants of their monthly salaries will be delayed. I therefore move -
That division 1, sub-division 2, item 7, “ Travelling Expenses,” and division 25, sub-division i, “ Sydney Government House “ be reconsidered.
– Might I suggest that this would be a convenient time at which to adjourn for halfanhour ?
– I think that it would be much more reasonable if we adjourned until 10.30 to-morrow morning.
– If that were done, we should not be able to pay the public servants at the usual time.
– Surely the Minister must know that he is not correct in making that statement. If we met tomorrow morning at half-past 10 o’clock we should be able to dispose of the Bill and send it on to the House of Representatives in time for the meeting of that Chamber at
– If honorable senators will follow the course I desire, the Bill will come into operation to-morrow morning, and the public servants will be paid at the usual time. But if we adjourn now until 10.30 to-morrow morning, the payment of salaries will be delayed.
– What possible difficulty can be created by our deferring the further consideration of the Bill until 10.30 to-morrow morning, and disposing of it by, say, 12.30 p.m.?
– But I have no guarantee that honorable senators will not con tinue the discussion beyond half -past 12 p.m.
– If the Senate adjourns until to-morrow morning, as I suggest, I shall not make any attempt to delay the passing of the Bill.
– Then let us proceed to a division at once.
– My attitude is liable to undergo a serious change if I am to be compelled to sit here all night.
– Let us have something to eat.
– In view of that interjection, I am disposed to consent to an adjournment. I wish it to be distinctly understood, however, that I do not do so out of. any consideration to Senator Pearce. Honorable senators will have ample opportunity to hear my views upon this question before. 3 p.m. to-day.
– When the majority is opposed to the honorable senator, what is the use of wasting time?
– I deny that I have indulged in any waste of time.
– Perhaps it would be convenient to honorable senators if I suspended the sitting for twenty minutes or half-an-hour.
– Have you, sir, the power to do so? If you have, I trust that you will exercise it.
– I believe that I have that power.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 .a.m., Thursday, until 1.15 a.m.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - We are asked to reconsider the Bill for two purposes. May I ask whether you, Mr. Chairman, intend to divide the motion?
– Certainly I will do so. We will first deal with the request made in subdivision No. 2, of division 1, affecting the President.
– I think it will be remembered that when that request was moved by me, after attempting to get information upon the item and failing, eventually, but reluctantly, Senator Baker informed us that the item then in dispute was made up, not as he had given the Committee to understand, by an appropriation for cabs for the use of senators, but by a sum of £1010s. which he had charged the Commonwealth for himself. It was a very difficult thing indeed to extract that information. Butwhen at last it was extracted, it will be remembered that I at once offered
Senator Baker to drop my intended request and to say nothing more about it if he would give the Committee an undertaking that what I considered to be an offence would not be repeated. He gave no such undertaking. In fact, he went further, and said that he absolutely refused to entertain such a proposal, and that he would vote against the whole item. He went on to say, as a justification for the expenditure, which the Committee subsequently decided was not justifiable, that it was a fair thing to take money out of the Commonwealth purse in one direction, because others - meaning members of the Senate - were helping themselves out of the Commonwealth purse in another direction. When we did get that, information, I gave Senator Baker an opportunity of preventing any request being made. I said that if he would give an undertaking that such a charge would not be made against the Commonwealth any longer, I would not go on with the request. He refused; and it was because of his refusal, and for no other reason, that the request was made.
– He subsequently said, before the division took place, that he would take the vote, if in favour of the request, as indicating that he was not to repeat what had been done.
– It is true that when he had taken a survey of the Chamber, the bells were on the point of ceasing to ring, and he had ascertained how the vote was going - when he found that it was going against him - he said that he would climb down. We have seen plenty of instances of men being willing to climb down when they knew that the gun was loaded, and that the man behind it was going to shoot.
– He voted in favour of the honorable senator’s request.
– It is a great deal better to vote for a thing when it is certain that it is going to be carried, than to vote against it and have it carried in spite of you.
– I do not think anyone knew that it was going to be carried.
– Without individualizing particular persons, I have had ample opportunities in this Parliament for observing the rapidity with which certain persons in the Senate can ascertain how a vote is likely to go.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is imputing very nice things to the President.
– I have not imputed anything to him. I was not mentioning him.
– He is our President, and-
– Senator Clemons has a perfect right to say what he likes.
– It is not a question of right, but of taste.
– He is imputing al! sorts of motives.
– I quite agree with Senator O’Keefe that the person who has to decide whether I am in order is the Chairman, not Senator Dobson.
– I am only making a friendly interjection ; but one cannot expect good taste at half-past i o’clock in the morning.
– I quite expect that, before we have finished, we shall see much that is npt in the best of taste. It was for that reason I suggested earlier that we should1 adjourn, and that I gave an undertaking that if that were done I would not speak more than a quarter of an hour. . Seeing that Senator Playford is determined to keep us here all night, he cannot be surprised at some things being said which are not altogether agreeable. We are asked to reconsider the Bill, not on the question which affects, senators from New South Wales, but on a question which affects the Senate and the President only.
– The President has promised that this sum shall never be used again for the purpose, and. that being so, the item might as well be restored, and another place not asked to go into Committee upon it.
– Why ?
– Because the honorable senator has gained his object.
– The observations of Senator Clemons might be taken as vindictive.
– I resent that imputation.
– I am very sorry, but it looks rather like it.
– When Senator Baker finds that a majority of the Senate is against him, it is not a difficult thing for him to say that he will not repeat what we consider as an offence.
– Senator Clemons has repeated that sentence three times, and I ask whether he is in order ‘in doing so.
– I must say that I have not come to the conclusion that Senator Clemons, so far, is guilty of needless repetition.
– If the item in regard to Senator Baker is reconsidered, it will be open to the fullest discussion. The other day we dealt only with an admission by Senator Baker that there was an item of£1010s., which he had charged the people of the Commonwealth for the purpose of his own convenience. We accepted that admission without going into details, and during the whole of the discussion we did not, as we might properly have done, deal with the question as to the amount that had been absorbed for the same purpose in previous years. I point out seriously that if Senator Playford secures a reconsideration of the question, he will certainly make it possible, and only too easy, for any honorable senator to go into the whole question as to how long these payments have been going on, and as to what the total is which, in the opinion of the Senate, has been wrongly appropriated for the purpose of paying for extra berths for Senator Baker. If Senator Playford will let the matter drop now, he will avoid much that may be unpleasant. I warn Senator Playford that if the item is committed, he cannot expect anything buta full and complete inquiry, from the 1st day of May, 1 90 1, to the present day, as to the amount of public moneys appropriated for this particular purpose.
– If it is a proper matter to be inquired into, it ought to be inquired into, irrespective altogether of this vote. This kind of threat does not reflect much credit on the honorable senator.
– Does Senator Playford, as’ leader of the Senate, give the Committee an undertaking that he will make an inquiry? Is he prepared, himself, to ascertain what the amount is that has been appropriated for this purpose, and lay a report on the table ? If the honorable senator will give such an undertaking, I shall promise, if the Bill be reconsidered, not to go into the question. Is Senator Playford prepared to give the undertaking?
– If the House desires I shall do so.
– There are occasions when the leader of the Senate can very properly act on his own initiative, and consider what is due not only to his own dignity, but to thedignity of the
House.. I gather from SenatorPlayford’s interjections that, in his opinion, this matter ought to be inquired into thoroughly .
– I do not say anything at all. I am not under crossexamination.
– That is so; nor did I invite Senator Playford to interrupt me when I was speaking.
– I interrupted because you made a threat.
– I made no threat.
– The honorable senator said there would be an inquiry if certain things were not done, and my reply was that if an inquiry was necessary it ought to be made altogether apart from any reconsideration of the Bill.
- Senator Playford must agree, whether he likes it or not, that if the item be recommitted, there will, at any rate, be a great danger of an exhaustive inquiry into the whole matter.
– That has no effect on me.
– I am inclined to contrast my attitude with that of Senator Playford. I said that if we had an undertakingfrom the Minister I would drop the matter, whereas Senator Playford has said that, now we have gone so far, if it is a right thing we have done, we ought to go into the whole history of the expenditure.
– I said nothing of the sort. I said that if an inquiry was the right course, it ought to be made, irrespective of my action.
– Precisely; the Minister says that if it is right to have an inquiry, it is right to go into the whole question from the beginning of Federation. Speaking generally with regard to the reconsideration, it does not add much to the dignity of the Senate for a Minister at 1.30 o’clock a.m., to ask us to reconsider items which have already had proper consideration in our usual hours of sitting. If the Senate adds to the many examples of weakness it has already shown since this Parliament first met, by backing down - for that is what a recommittal would mean in the case of an important measure like the Appropriation Bill - I say advisedly that we shall run considerable risk of becoming a laughing-stock to such members of the public as take an interest in Federal parliamentary proceedings. We shall be told that the moment we are threatened we are prepared to swallow our own opinions.
– Honorable senators are not threatened with anything.
– The Minister has been a large mass of threats for the last three or four days, beginning on Friday, when he used a threat, repeated last night, to have an all-night sitting. I said at the time that I thought the Minister was in earnest, and so he proves to be; but I never thought that he would attempt to sit all night on a proposal to reconsider certain items in the second schedule of the Appropriation Bill. It might have been necessary to insist on the consideration of the Bill being completed, and to that end I should have been glad to assist. I have never wasted two minutes of the time of this Senate since I entered it; but to-night things are changed. I have given a full undertaking to be no party to any obstruction to-morrow if the Senate is now adjourned, and we meet at the time provided for ; but every honorable senator is entitled to protest against an attempt to reconsider what we have already done at this hour of the night.
– There are special circumstances connected with this Bill which render it desirable, that it should be passed in time to enable the public ser.vants to be paid at the usual time.
– During the halfhour adjournment I made some inquiries on the subject, and, so far as I can ascertain, the only convenience that can be secured by finishing the consideration of the Bill to-night will be such as might be gained by the opportunity to send a telegram which could not be received before 9 o’clock to-morrow morning to officers in different parts of the Commonwealth to say that the Bill has been passed, when, if V the Bill is not considered to-night, it will be sent in the ordinary way by message to another place, and1 will be received there at half-past 2 o’clock.
– The other House will then have to consider it, and it may be too late to send telegrams in order that salaries may be paid in the usual way.
- Senator Playford is assuming that the Bill will be sent to another place with the requests already agreed to.
– If it does there is certain to be delay ; but if the honorable senator assumes that it will not, why should we not pass it to-night?
– I can assure the honorable senator that if it were in my power these requests should go down to another place. I shall be no party to turning the Senate into a laughing-stock. I am not prepared at 12 o’clock one night to vote in one direction, and at 12 o’clock the next night in the opposite direction. When Senator Playford suggested a reconsideration, he did not say one word with regard to the item with which I am dealing.
– I said that, as. honorable senators had gained all that they desired, the prevention of the payment of certain money for the purpose for which it had been paid before, I ‘asked’ that it should not be made the subject of a request, because that would necessitate the Bill going into Committee in another place, and would so delay its passage.
– Between the implied undertaking by Senator Baker that the offence complained of shall not occur again and the striking of a certain sum off the Estimates there must surely be some difference. Can Senator Playford say how much of the sum of ten guineas has already been expended? We are dealing with Estimates which cover the expenditure of the financial year, beginning with the ist of July last. We are now almost in December, and we should know whether Senator Baker has spent the whole of this ten guineas. If he has, the honorable senator’s promise that he will not spend any morel is a very barren one. Senator Playford apparently can give us no information on the subject, and his attitude in connexion with all the Departments is simply, “ I do not know.” I am willing that, there should be a reconsideration if Senator Playford will move it at what I think to be a fitting and proper time, that is to say, during ordinary sitting hours.
– Why not deal with the matter now?
– Senator Clemons seems to think that his views must prevail over those of every one else.
– Not at all. With regard to the request affecting Senator Baker, I do not feel so strongly on the subject now that the Committee has secured that its views will be met, but I certainly must oppose the withdrawal of the other request.
– As the most important request for the reconsideration of which it is proposed to reconsider the second schedule was moved by me, I think that I should be allowed to say a few words at this stage. I repudiate all responsibility for any inconvenience which may occur through our action in delaying the passing of the Bill. If the Government had desired to pass it in a proper, orderly way, they would have sent the requests of the Committee through the House of Representatives, and they must take the responsibility for what has happened. Is the Senate to be a mere recording body? Are we to swallow, holus bolus, without a grimace or a wry face, anything that the Government may choose to put before us? We are asked to reconsider our action in this matter, because of the bluster and bounce of the Premier of New South Wales, whom the Government are anxious to placate. Therefore, they ask us to repudiate to-night what we did last night, after full discussion and fair consideration. It would be ridiculous, and beneath the dignity of the Committee to take such a step. Moreover, according to the metropolitan newspapers of New South Wales, which’ the senators from that State continually hold up to us as the leading press organs of the Commonwealth, we shall be carrying out the expressed wishes of the Premier and the people of the State in insisting upon our request. I have no wish to delay a decision on this matter, but I wish to protest as strongly as I can against the proposal”” that the Committee shall go back upon what ft has decided. Are we a parcel of school children that we can be induced, by a threat of a whipping from the Premier of New South Wales, to swallow our principles? Why should we reconsider this matter ? The action that we are now asked to reverse was taken in accordance with the express wish of the Premier of New South Wales, and of the press of that State. A short time ago Mr. Carruthers openly stated that if the Commonwealth Government did not take care they would be given notice to quit Government House, Sydney.
– That statement was made by the Premier of New South Wales, and not by the people.
– I agree with the honorable senator. I think that the people of Sydney are kicking up all the row, and that the people of New South Wales would act a proper and sensible part if they were left to themselves. The ridiculous jealousy which exists between Sydney and Melbourne, which is; utterly unfederal, is allowed to operate to the detriment of the best interests of the Commonwealth. As I have said, the Premier of New South Wales openly threatened to give us notice to quit Government House, Sydney, and we should not be influenced to reverse our vote merely because Mr. Carruthers has changed his opinion, and has apparently made up his mind to work up a grievance in any case. If he chooses to act as a spoilt child, that is no reason why we, in our ‘turn, .should make ourselves ridiculous. Last night I read an extract from what Senator Walker admitted to be the leading newspaper in New South Wales - the Sydney Morning Herald - which expressed the opinion that, within a few days, something would be done towards ending the present arrangement, t think we should be wanting in dignity if we refrained from putting an end to that arrangement before we were kicked out. In order to show that, not only the free-trade, but the protectionist press of New South Wales is in favour of the course I propose, I desire to read a leading article which was published in the Australian Star no later than Monday last. The article is headed “The Houses Twain,” and reads as follows: -
What everybody knows with respect to the arrangement by which two Government Houses are maintained Th Sydney is that it was led up to under circumstances very different from the existing ones. Nobody dreamt at the time - nobody possibly could dream - of the turn which matters were to take when the Federal Parliament decided as to the financial and other conditions which should regulate its obligations with regard to the Governor-General. No objection here is to be raised to the fact that in the discussion which then took place on the question as to the salary and “ allowances “ of his Majesty’s representative in the Com’monwealth economy was supposed to be the order of the day. That is a principle indeed which is most admirable in itself, and against which of course not one word is to be said. But in the pursuit of it in the particular instance referred to the economists deliberating in Melbourne came to not a few conclusions which were in the nature of surprises for the people of New South Wales.
Some of those Federal legislators, it will be remembered, were sufficiently frank in the expression of their opinion that Melbourne was to be considered as the one and only place in the Commonwealth where the Governor-General should have a fixed residence. They laughed to scorn the idea that there was anything in the Constitution which more directly associated the GovernorGeneral in such a relationship with Sydney. This and a great many things besides which were affirmed in the Federal Parliament were most decidedly in the nature of after-thoughts. There was no whisper of them when the question as to how the Governor-General would be apt to divide his time between the two principal Australian capitals was raised in the first instance. The assumption was - and a very natural and reasonable one - that when the Federal Parliament was not actually sitting in Melbourne the GovernorGeneral would reside in Sydney, in the chief city of the State which was to furnish the site for the Federal capital. All this, to be sure, is comparatively ancient history now. It however necessarily recalls itself in connexion with the fact that what may be termed the second chapter in the history of the Governor-General’s official residence in Sydney, as duly provided by agreement between the State and Federal Parliaments, is nearing its close. Is the arrangement to be renewed ? The Federal Government Is understood to be very willing that it should. The prospect however is not a very enticing one for the State.
Yet honorable senators say that we are seeking to do an injustice to New South Wales. The article proceeds as follows : -
The Governor-General spends only about three months out of the twelve in Sydney. The upkeep of the establishment, whether occupied or not, tots up to an annual amount which is sufficiently heavy. There has been an expenditure of not less than ,£20,000 incurred with respect to the temporary residence of the State Governor at Cranbrook. The suggestion now is that the State Governor should be assigned the quarters so long identified with his predecessors before Federation came, and that no separate establishment should be maintained for the reception of, the GovernorGeneral on his occasional visits. It is hinted in fact that in future when such a distinguished guest is welcomed by the State it should, so to speak, “board him out,” and let the privilege of entertaining be accorded to the State Governor. Of course in this playing the host to his bigger official brother the State Governor would have to be provided with the ways and means by an allowance from the State Parliament. An arrangement of the kind might bring its inconveniences and difficulties, and possibly might occasion little paltry hagglings in Parliament, which would not redound at all to the credit of the State, when it was a maTter of settling the extra outlay incurred when the two Governors were under the one roof. The only thing that is positively certain is that the present system of two Government Houses involves a very large amount of expenditure to no purpose at all. It is utterly useless extravagance.
We propose to put an end to a condition of affairs which is apparently unsatisfactory to the people of New South Wales, and also to the Commonwealth Government. Certainly, judging from the vote given last night, it is unsatisfactory to honorable senators, who represent the whole of the States. It is represented that we have been loaf- ing upon the mother State, and I think that we should do all we can to remove any such reproach at the very earliest opportunity. We do not desire to loaf on New South Wales. We wish to do the fullest possible justice to that State, as well as to every other State in the Commonwealth. New South Wales, however, is entitled to nothing more than a fair deal, and I shall never be a party to giving her anything more. We are told by the Minister that if we allow the vote of last night to be reversed this item shall never again appear upon the Estimates. He has promised that if the present arrangement is continued it will be under the authority of a specific Bill, which will be discussed in both Houses. I admit at once that that position would be much more satisfactory than is the present one. But the experience of the Commonwealth is that Ministries come and go. A Government may be in power to-day, and may be displaced to-morrow. It may vanish like the mists before the rising sun. Let us suppose that by some turn in the political wheel of fortune the present Government were defeated, what would happen? A new Administration might be formed which would decline to abide by the promise which has been given, and we should then occupy the laughable position of having recorded a certain decision upon one day, and of having reversed ^ it the next.
– No. A new Administration would never dare to refuse to carry out the promise of its predecessors.
– Very frequently, a . promise by one Government is repudiated by another. Whilst we adhere to our present decision we are masters of the situation ; but if within twenty-four hours we reverse that decision, we shall occupy the most ridiculous and humiliating position of which I can possibly conceive. If the Committee agree to the recommittal of the Bill, I shall have considerably more to say upon this matter, but at the present I content’ myself with entering my protest against honorable senators being treated in such a fashion as. would warrant any onlooker in believing that we are a lot of children who do not know our minds.
-Sc far as the item, the Senate, “ Travelling Expenses,” is concerned, I shall be very glad to vote for its reconsideration.
– The two items are to be put separately.
– I was not aware of that. In regard to the second item, relating to Sydney Government House, it seems to me that the Senate cannot go back upon its decision of last night without stultifying, itself. We cannot alter our minds with anything like dignity within the brief period of twenty-four hours.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the leaders in another place concur in the promise which has been made by the representative of the Government?
– But a certain procedure has to be adopted if we desire to place our views upon record.
– The Committee has already placed its views upon record.
– But the Minister is now asking us to reverse our vote.
– Only upon certain conditions, which ought to be satisfactory to the honorable senator. If I had been able to announce last night what I have told the Committee to-night, I do not think that they would have reduced this vote.
– The strongest argument which can be used against the maintenance of an establishment for the GovernorGeneral in Sydney was not brought forward last night. If, out of deference to the views of New South Wales, we continue to maintain a vice-regal residence there, we shall be committing ourselves to a policy which it will be very difficult to abandon. I can easily imagine that after we have removed to the Seat of Government, a claim might be raised for the maintenance of a vice-regal establishment, not only in New South Wales, but also in Victoria. In that case, we should have to maintain no less than three separate residences for the Governor- General, which would be a very expensive matter. Last night, I mentioned what is done by Tasmania in connexion with the annual visit of the Admiral of the Australian Squadron. The Government invite him to that State, and provide him with suitable accommodation. Similarly, if New South Wales desires the Governor- General to reside within her borders during a certain portion of the year, she is entitled to his presence if she is prepared topay for it. In this connexion, let the other States follow the good example which has been set by Tasmania. Then, when we remove to the permanent Seat of Government, we shall not be tram melled by any precedent which it will be difficult to overthrow.
– I agree with the view that two Government Houses are undesirable, and I hold that there is much to be said for reconsidering this item under the circumstances. Much has been made of the fact that we are asked to reverse a vote given last night, and that that seems like changing our minds. It is nothing of the sort. Last night we said that, in our opinion, it is unnecessary to maintain two Government Houses, and in order to emphasize that fact we adopted a somewhat rule of thumb method, by requesting the other House to reduce an item by £1,000. That was a clumsy means of signifying our desire. Now, however, we have an assurance from the Government which I venture to say is bound to be given effect to whether this Government remains in office or not.
– Does the honorable senator think that any succeeding Government would feel bound by a promise given in this way ?
– Decidedly. Sometimes Ministries leave office on account of their policy, and that policy is reversed by an incoming Government. But we are now deciding that, in the opinion Of the Senate, it is undesirable that the present method of maintaining two Government Houses should be continued. We have technically decided that the vote for that purpose shall be reduced in the future. We have achieved our object by what we did last night. The question now is whether we can proceed in a way that will prevent friction. I think the way now proposed will have that result. Senator Givens has said that there is bad feeling between Melbourne and Sydney. I have always felt that there has been no bad feeling on the part of Melbourne in this matter. Perhaps I am wrong in that, but. at any rate, there is too much of an un-Federal spirit somewhere. If we can achieve our end without causing undue friction, surely it cannot be said that by doing so we have changed our opinion. It is merely a change of method for the achievement of the same object. I earnestly hope that the second schedule will be reconsidered for thepurpose of proceeding in that way. We shall have the assurance that what we desire will be attained, but at the same time the undertaking in regard to Sydney Government House will not be terminated in the middle of the arrangement. That is the feature of it that is objectionable. If we terminate the existing agreement at the end of the year, and simply discontinue it for the future,, there will be. less cause of complaint on the part of New South Wales. I have always felt that there has been a great deal too much un-F’ederal spirit since Federation was effected. I am not astonished at that. Such has been the history of all Federations. We have not been unusual in that respect. The great American Federation, which is now work.ing so smoothly, had to contend with a great deal of un-Federal spirit, and with much more severe friction than we have had, in its early years. All true Americans, however, wished1 that that friction should be removed, and I am sure that all true Australians are anxious that such means as are possible shall be taken to remove every cause of ill-feeling in this country. For the mere dread of seeming to change our minds, or being labelled as fickle and unstable, we ought not to be afraid of reversing our decision, or rather of driving home our position in a less objectionable way.
– I was not able to be present last night when the vote was taken on the matter under discussion. I was paired in favour of Senator Givens’ proposed request. I remember very well that some three years ago, when this subject was before us in the Appropriation Bill, I was amongst those who thought that it was entirely opposed! to the spirit of our Constitution that any money should be set apart for a second Government House. I thought that while Melbourne ,was the temporary Seat of Government, there should be one residence- for the Governor-General. But a very strong appeal was made by Senator O’Connor, who was then the leader of the Government in the Senate, on the ground that we might appear to be unFederal, and to be doing something which would not foster the Federal spirit, but would promote ‘ friction if we did not agree to what was proposed. If the representatives of the other States take the proper course in refusing to continue this expenditure, I do not see that New South Wales is given any reasonable ground of complaint, or that any friction need result. When this question first came before us I voted for the item, in deference to the appeal of the then leader of the Government in this Chamber, who was from New South Wales, and. in consequence of the representations of other New South
Wales senators, that the whole of the people of that State were anxious for the Governor-General to reside there for a certain period. But I have always felt since that I voted contrary to the spirit of justice, and not in accordance with the interests of Tasmania or any of the other States. It seems a -most ridiculous assumption that, because New South Wales happens to be the oldest State, and the largest in point of population, it has a claim to a residence for the GovernorGeneral at the cost of the Commonwealth. The sooner the Federal Capital is established in New South” Wales the better ; but until that time arrives it is absurd to maintain a second Government House. I am fortified in that opinion by the fact that the very Federal spirit we are asked to show to New South Wales is absent on the part of the Parliament and Government of that State, though I do not say it is missing on the part of the people. As a matter of fact, almost every possible insult was, in the course- of recent correspondence, heaped on the Federal Parliament and Government by the Premier of New South Wales, supported by a majority of his Parliament. I deny that any want of the Federal spirit Has been shown on the part of the Federal Parliament, and I am glad the Committee took the action it did last night, if only as a protest, which will make it clear that i.he Federal Parliament has “turned” at last. Indeed, it is probably largely owing to the miserable, pettifogging spirit displayed by the Premier- of New South Wales, and to the language and threats he used, that that action was taken. I may say that, though I was absent, I was paired in favour of the request to strike out the item ; but at the. same time I recognise, after giving the matter earnest consideration, that the Government are taking a proper course under the circumstances. I take that view, not because of any idea that the retention of the item might harass the Government in another place.
– The question is, how we ought to consider our self-respect as a Senate.
– Personally, I should not object to a fight between the two branches of the Legislature on this question. After all, if there is any climbing down or going back it is on the part of the Government.
– If this request is not sent on, the Senate will have taken no action as far as another place is aware?
– I cannot agree with the honorable senator as to that. The item was struck out against the wish of the representatives of the Government in this Chamber, and the Government admit at once that they see the seriousness of their position. It is a question of which House has to give way ; and now we are promised, on behalf of the Government, that if the item be restored, the desire of the Senate, as expressed by the request, will be carried into effect.
– The intimation to that effect should have come from another place when the Appropriation Bill was returned to us.
– If the desire be to show the strength of the Senate as against the Government, that end has been attained. The question is, whether, in justice to the other States, this expenditure should be continued in New South Wales; and we have been informed that when the agreement expires in a short time it will not be renewed.
– We desire to indicate our opinion to the people, and to the House of Representatives, but it will never be indicated if the request is not sent on.
– I am satisfied to take the assurance of the Government that the agreement will not be renewed.
– There was a similar promise made in 1902, but nothing has been done.
– If honorable members in another place do not agree with the action we have taken, they will take steps to make theGovernment renew the agreement.
– I say that we should send our request to them, but I neither know nor care what they will do with it when they get it.
– There is not a great deal of difference of opinion between the honorable senator and myself, but I am willing to accept the assurance of the Government that the agreement will not be renewed.
– But we shall not have done anything.
– On the contrary, we shall have done a great deal. The agreement will not be renewed by the Go vernment because of the action taken last night by the Committee of the Senate. With regard to the other item which the Government proposes should be reconsidered, I can have no objection to its reconsideration, because I voted against the request. When we discussed the question, I said, as I say now, that I did not agree with the action taken by Senator Baker,, and I certainly could not agree with his very unworthy remark, “Some members of the Senate get it in one way, and some in another.” It is just as well that the honorable senator should know that every member of the Senate takes exception to that very unworthy remark, which would leave it to be understood that we desire to “get at” the Commonwealth. I utterly repudiate that suggestion. I have no desire to “ get at “ the Commonwealth, if Senator Baker has. As I voted against the request for the reduction of the item of £1010s., I have no objection to the reconsideration of that request.
Senator CROFT (Western Australia).Last night by my vote I expressed my objection to keeping up a Governor-General’s residence in Sydney. I desire to be consistent to-night, and in order to do so, I find it necessary to vote for a reconsideration of the subdivision dealing with that matter. I supported the request for the reduction of the vote by £1,000. I am satisfied that Government House, Sydney, might be kept up as a residence for the GovernorGeneral, even though the vote should be cut down in the way proposed by honorable senators. The leader of the Government in the Senate has promised, with the consent of all his colleagues, that the vote will never appear again in an Appropriation Bill and that if any new arrangement is proposed as to where the Governor- General shall reside until the Federal Capital is established, we shall be given an opportunity to record a vote upon it in a specific Bill. Let us look at this matter as practical men, not allowing its consideration to be affected by personal spleen. We have already spent about half the sum set down in the Bill, and to reduce the vote by £1,000 would not prevent the Governor-General from going to Sydney to reside, if he wished to do so. Besides, we ought to give notice of our intention to quit. I should like to deal with this matter by such a Bill as the Minister of Defence has spoken of.
– Let the will of Parliament be fairly expressed in a Bill.
– We do not know what proposals the Government would make in any Bill of the kind.
– The will of the Senate has been expressed, so that the Government would not dare to bring in a Bill to do other than provide that the GovernorGeneral shall live only at the Seat of Government, and to make it unnecessary to maintain two residences for him.
– I am very glad that honorable senators consider that the Bill should be recommitted for the reconsideration of the subdivision relating to Sydney Government House. I recognise that a number of them are opposed to the maintenance of two houses for the Governor-General, and, as a representative of New South Wales, I shall be glad to have the whole matter settled clearly and definitely by means of a Bill. Such an arrangement would put an end to the long and acrimonious discussions which arise when this matter comes before us in the Appropriation Bill each year.
– The New South Wales Premier has told us that he will give us notice to quit.
– I regret that there has been friction between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in regard to the settlement of the Federal Capital Site. I do not defend the New South Wales Parliament or the New South Wales Premier, because they have made serious mistakes, nor do I exonerate the Commonwealth; but we should realize the friction which exists, and should do all we can to remove it. If the New South Wales Parliament says that it wishes to terminate the arrangement in regard to Sydney Government House, well and good ; but do not let us be accused of adding fuel to the flames by interfering with the understanding already existing. The people of New South Wales have felt that the Governor-General should reside in that’ State for a portion of the year, and if a Bill is introduced, I shall be prepared te explain mv reasons for desiring the continuance of the present arrangement; but I shall not debate the subject further now. With regard to the request affecting Senator Baker, I think that, a protest having been made, we have done all that is necessary. The chief officer of the Senate will, no doubt, feel bound in honour to regard the opinions which have been axpressed, so that the matter can be settled without further heat or unpleasantness.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). - It seems to me absurd to ask the Committee to reverse the vote which it has given in regard to the travelling expenses of the President.
– I should not ask the Committee to reverse its vote, but for the fact that I do not wish to further delay the passing of the Appropriation Bill.
– I am tired of hearing that excuse. If the Government had forwarded the requests of the Committee, the measure could have been dealt with very rapidly. The delay has been caused by the refusal of the Government to act on the express wishes of honorable senators. If we now vote the money it will be equivalent to saying that we desire that it shall be spent. The Government should have accepted the decision of the Senate, and sent the request on to the House of Representati ves .
– If a majority of honorable senators are willing to do what I ask them to do, why should I not try to get the vote of the Committee reversed?
– The majority is, of course, entitled to rule, but I have the right to show, if I can, that the course which it is proposed to ‘take is not the best.
– Quite so, within reason.
– I ask the honorable senator if I have been unreasonable. Senator Baker would be the greatest “ mug “ in the world - if I may apply such an expression to a gentleman occupying so high and dignified a position - if he did not spend the money, supposing that we were fools enough to vote it for him. Would honorable senators deal in that manner with their own money? Would they say to a man : “ You are not entitled to this ten guineas, and I shall not give it to you.” and immediately afterwards hand it over to ham.
– We are not proposing to do anything of the kind.
– Certainly we, are.
– No, we are not. The President has pledged himself to be bound by the decision arrived at a few evenings ago.
– But we are, in effect, declining to accept that pledge, and are handing over the money in question. I am prepared to proceed to a vote forthwith, but I protest agains.t our being asked to stultify ourselves by deliberately undoing that which we did yesterday.
– I have no objection to the proposed recommittal, but so far as the ten guineas for travelling expenses is concerned I shall vote exactly as I did on a previous occasion. My reason for adopting this attitude is this : We have had an indication to-night of the absolute impotency of the Administration. We were told that a certain officer of the Commonwealth purloined a certain sum of money, that several months elapsed before the Government knew whether they could dismiss him, and that it cost £80 to obtain that information. In the event of our voting these ten guineas,’ who knows- but that when another twelve months have elapsed1, the Government will feel bound to make provision for a similar sum on the next Estimates, lest the man who might have spent the money should claim compensation ? I certainly think that we should prevent any such provision from ever again being made. At the risk of being regarded as inconsistent, I am prepared to reverse my vote with regard to the reduction of the amount set down for the maintenance of the Government House and grounds in Sydney. I am induced to db this by the promise given by the Minister of Defence that any further arrangement that may be made with the New South Wales Government with regard to the occupation of Government House, Sydney, by the Governor-General, will be embodied in a Bill, and submitted to the Senate for consideration on its merits. It seems to me that, in the first instance, honorable senators did not take the trouble to acquaint themselves with the actual bearings of the situation. They were in ignorance as to whether or not there was any agreement between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government with regard to the occupation of Government House. Sydney. I place implicit confidence in the assurance given by the representative of the Government, so far as that particular matter is concerned, and I shall vote accordingly.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - So far. I have not touched upon the second question proposed for reconsideration. I admit at once that I regard it as the more important of the two, and I regret that we should have to seriously con sider such a proposal at this unreasonable hour. One of the chief advantages enjoyed by this Chamber in comparison with other Upper Houses is that “it possesses the power to make requests for amendments in Bills which appropriate money. But up to the present time we have not made a single request to the other Chamber to amend an Appropriation Bill. Last night this item was discussed very earnestly and exhaustively, and it was decided that a request ought to be made in respect of it. I hold that before taking any backward step we should assert the right of the Senate to deal with the measure in an effective way. ‘ Upon the merits of this question, I desire to say that I am not animated by jealousy towards New South Wales. Indeed, if there is one State, apart from Tasmania, towards, which I am more friendly than another, it is New South Wales.’’
– Was the honorable senator ever on friendly relations with anybody ?
– I am on very friendly relations with Senator Dobson, though I admit that he imposes a very great strain upon those relations every time that I hear him speak. But, despite his many acrobatic votes, I still endeavour to retain his. friendship. Having once recorded our decision upon this matter, it has been urged that we have done all that is desirable, and that we should now be content to back down.. I claim, however, that if we attach any value to the power which we possess to request that amendments shall be made in Appropriation Bills, we should forward our request to the other Chamber. I now wish to deal with the reasons “which have been offered’ by Senator Playford for reversing the vote of last night. He says that the Government have pledged themselves to bring in a Bill-
– I have promised that this item shall not appear upon the Estimates, again, and that if the question is dealt with at all, it ‘will be dealt with by means of a Bill. But very likely honorable senators will hear no more about it.
– To me the Minister’s statement throws a new light upon the subject. It is practically an undertaking that if this item be retained on the present Estimates, it will not appear upon the Estimates of next year. I accept the Minister’s assurance, but I hold that it affords a poor reason why we should waive our undoubted rights in connexion with this matter. I admit that there is not the faintest’ chance that a Bill dealing with the matter will ever be submitted for our consideration. That suggestion has been put forward with a view to capturing the votes of some honorable senators. I believe that the very name of “Bill” has been sufficient to catch the votes of Senators Henderson and O’Keefe.
– I accept the assurance of the Government that, owing to the vote of the Senate, they will not embody this item in the Estimates in future. They will not renew any agreement which may exist with New South Wales.
– If the matter is dealt with at all, it will be by means of a Bill which both Houses will have” an opportunity of fully discussing.
– Senator Playford says, first of all, that this vote will not appear upon next year’s Estimates. That is a verv Door reason for reversing a vote of the .Senate. But he says, in addition, that if the Government touches the matter in any way, it will bring in a Bill.
– The honorable sena. tor is now talking against time.
– I am not, and I resent the imputation. I am talking because I feel very seriously about the position. I give my assurance that I do not desire to waste a moment of time; but I do desire to place my view on record, because I regard this as a most important juncture in the history of the Senate. I do not doubt the assurance that Senator Playford has given. But it is a very poor excuse for reversing a vote of the Senate to say that the objectionable vote will not appear upon next year’s Estimates. Does Senator Playford tell me that it is at all likely that his Government, or any other Government, will introduce a Bill dealing with the question of where the Governor-General shall reside’
– Of course, if a satisfactory arrangement can be come to.
– If the Government does introduce such a Bill, they will have to take the responsibility for it. They cannot throw it on the table and let Parliament do what it pleases with it.
– Of course we shall take the responsibility for it. If we lay the Bill on the table it will be part of our policy.
– That is what I assumed would be the case. Such being so, it is very interesting to read what Senator Keating, who is a member of the present Government, said on this subject not long since. He said only last year -
I have given expression to my feelings with regard to the inclusion of this item in the Appropriation Bill, and I have heard what the AttorneyGeneral has said with regard, to it. He has agreed in substance with my criticism, and I feel sure that after the debate that has taken place, the Government will recognise the advisableness of reconsidering the whole division, and of discontinuing the present policy.
But the present Government has not considered the desirableness of discontinuing the present policy.
– This item was on the Estimates before we took office. Besides that, the honorable senator would know-, if he had ever been in a Government, that a Minister has to give way to a majority of the Cabinet.
– It is true that I have not been in a Government, but I was closely connected with a Ministry in, the Senate, and I refused to go with that Ministry on several occasions. Senator Keating proceeded, in the speech from which I am quoting, to say -
I do not agree with Senator Givens, that it is practicable for the House of Representatives to reduce this item now. As pointed out by Senator Trenwith and Senator Turley, it would be extremely awkward and inconvenient to do so. We should be disturbing the arrangement made with New South Wales, which has incurred considerable expense in connexion with the Sydney Government House. I am perfectly satisfied with the views expressed by the Attorney-General, and I am not prepared to do anything which may be impracticable in making a request to the other House, to which effect cannot be given. The House of Representatives will be compelled to recognise that a change in policy cannot be made immediately.
There is no more opportune time than the present for making this change, because the arrangement now in existence will terminate at an early date. Senator Keating concluded as follows: -
I trust that the Government will recognise what the feeling is, and that in future there will be only one Governor-General’s residence in the Commonwealth.
– Apparently the other Government did not carry out their promise, but placed this item on the Estimates.
– How can that be said?
– Because we found this item in the Estimates.
– These veiled accusations against the late Government are unfair. It is unfair to assume that the late Government, who went out of office at the end of June, had at that stage finally revised the Estimates.
– Apparently the late Government altered their mind, and did not take the item off the Estimates.
– The Late Government took no steps in the matter, and the item was left.
– I wish to impress on honorable senators the fact that the members of the present Government, when out of office, expressed, in more than one instance, their disapproval of this item.
– How many? Only one.
– There are only two representatives of the Government altogether in this Chamber. As soon, however, as they have an opportunity to give effect to their opinion they refuse to do so. What does Senator Playford propose to do?
– If honorable senators will support me, I propose to go on to a finish.
– If Senator Playford succeeds in getting a reconsideration at this hour, does he intend, straight away, to take the final decision of the Committee on a question of this importance?
– Yes, because, it is important that a decision should be arrived at this morning at the Latest. I. gave deliberate notice to all honorable senators from whom! I might expect opposition that such was my intention.
- Senator Playford will give me credit for offering to assist him to secure a meeting of the Senate at 10.30 this morning, and for objecting to the suggestion to close the sitting the other night at ten minutes past 9 o’clock, when the second-reading debate concluded. If Senator Playford has the numbers now, he will have them at 10.30 this morning.
– It is important that the Bill should be passed before that hour.
– There is no Bill which could be of greater importance to the Senate, as affording an opportunity to assert the position which this Chamber ought to hold. There is no party question involved. In the affair of the disbursements by the President, I shall do as I did before, because I do not like to reverse my vote; but, apart from that consideration, I have no strong feeling in the matter. As to the subject immediately under consideration, however, I take a different stand, because we are afforded a good opportunity to assert our strong position in regard to the Appropriation Bill. I have entered my protest, and I think, Mr. Chairman, that if you at this moment occupied a seat elsewhere in the Chamber, you would join with me in objecting to the misuse of the power which the majority may exercise. If the Minister of Defence persists, I say advisedly and calmly that he will be largely responsible for distinctly lowering the position of the Senate, which has fallen low enough in past years. There is nothing to prevent our meeting early in the morning, except the convenience of a few people in the matter of telegrams. That is the only reason Senator Playford can suggest for degrading the Senate. I should be. glad, Mr. Chairman, ifyou were to express your view of the action proposed by the Government for the reconsideration of these items, in order that the Committee may reverse its vote, and failto give public expression to its opinion on these subjects. I am certain that if you did so it would be likely to have some effect upon the Minister.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I have not occupied the time of the Committee at all on this question, and as our trains will not leave for some little time, I may as well say a word or two. Never on any occasion have I altered a vote I have previously given with less compunction than I shall do on this occasion. When I voted for the request for the reduction of the vote for the up-keep of Sydney Government House, I did so, not with the object of inconveniencing the Government, or lending assistance to “ stone-walling “ in another place, but in order to terminate the practice of keeping up two residences for the Governor-General. I find that I have accomplished my object. The Government now say that if they are responsible for the framing of next year’s Estimates - and when I come to consider those who sit opposite, I devoutly hope they will be - they will not bring forward this item in those Estimates. Many honorable senators who are present to-night were members of the first Federal Parliament, and they will recollect that every time an Appropriation Bill has come before the Senate there has been a squabble over this particular item. Its removal from the Estimates will have at least this good effect - it will put an end to that annual squabble. Then the leader of the Government in the Senate, says that if the Ministry has any proposals to make with respect to a second Government House, they will submit them in the form of a Bill. If, when that measure is brought before us, it provides for two Commonwealth’ Government Houses, and we think there should be but one, we can amend the Bill, as we shall be masters of the situation. I regard that as satisfactory. I scarcely know on which point Senator Clemons feels most strongly, but for some undefinable reason it would appear that the honorable senator greatly desires that the Committee should adjourn now,- and meet again at 10.30 a.m. That appears to be an object of tremendous importance to the honorable senator.
– Because I think we should have a better attendance then.
– There appears to be some undefinable, and apparently unspeakable reason why the whole difficulty will be unravelled if’ we only meet at half-past 10 o’clock.
– That would not alter the result.
– Senator Clemons admits that, but still apparently something would be accomplished.
– The decent conduct of business would be accomplished.
– Let us see what else would be accomplished. Suppose Senator Clemons obtained his desire, and that we insisted on our request, what would be the result if another place refused to accept our requests, would Senator Clemons insist on the requests?
– Undoubtedly, I should not reverse my vote.
– The honorable senator does not follow the question as he ought. In that case, we should be faced with a different situation. We should be asked to climb down as gracefully as we could at the request of another place.
– Senator Clemons says that he does not object to do that.
– I think it is out df order for Senator Playford to state that I have said that I would climb down. Nothing could be more emphatic than my assertion that I will not climb down.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that if we met at half-past 10 o’clock this morning, and sent the Bill to the House of Representatives with our requests, and the other House refused to agree to them, we could then give way.
– I did not say anything of the sort. Nothing will induce me to alter my vote under any circumstances.
– I ask honorable senators if they are prepared to force a crisis in connexion with the request for the reduction of the President’s travelling allowance by £10 10s. ?
– Then why did the honorable senator vote for the request?
– As I have pointed out, we have, accomplished what we set ourselves to do. I am prepared to accept the climb-down of the Government, who have accepted our terms.
– I do not like the course, which we have now adopted on several occasions, of coming to a decision on one day and reversing it the next. On the 17 th June, 1902, Senator Matheson moved the reduction of the vote for the rent, repairs, and maintenance of Sydney Government House by £1, with a view to expressing the opinion of honorable senators that the expenditure was unnecessary, and next day we reconsidered our decision and withdrew the request. Of course the position has altered greatly, since then, bv reason of the deliberate statement of the Minister of Defence that he can promise, with the consent of his colleagues, that the item shall not appear again in the Appropriation Bill. Therefore, if we sent the request to the other House, and it refused to accept it, we should not be in such a strong position as we are in now. We have objected to the expenditure, and I hope will always object to expenditure which’ we consider unwise ; but I think that our object will be secured if we do not press matters further. I am sorry that so much has, perhaps inevitably been made out of the expenditure bv the President of £10 10s. on sleeping berths. It would have been better if we had intimated our own views on the subject without the lengthy newspaper reports which’ have appeared ; but I think that the vote come to the other night shows the opinion of honorable senators, and it will not be necessary to send the request to the other House to have it complied with.
Question - That division1, subdivision 2, item 7, “Travelling Expenses,” be reconsidered - put. The ‘ Committee divided -
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That division 25, subdivision 1 , “ Sydney Government House,” be reconsidered - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the request “That the item, the Senate, Travelling expenses, £50’ be reduced by £10 10s.” be not made.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland).- It is perfectly childish that we should be asked to vote money that every one knows is not required. No honorable senator would act in this way if his own money were involved, and we should not be asked to go back on our previous vote
Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia - Minister of Defence). - I maintain that there is nothing childish about the course which honorable senators are being asked to adopt, because our object is to pass the Bill at the earliest possible moment. If. we insisted upon our request, the Bill would have to be sent back to the House of Representatives, where it would require to be considered in Committee. That would involve delay, which would result in serious inconvenience to the whole of our public servants whose salaries would not be paid upon the usual date, namely, the last day of the month’. But for the delay that would be involved. I should never have asked honorable senators to reconsider the matter, because I am quite certain that, the vote being one connected with the Senate, honorable members in another place would have readily agreed to our request.
– Some honorable senators, including myself, were not here upon the former occasion, and, therefore, we cannot be accused of having gone back upon what we had formerly done.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I cannot allow the remark of the Minister of Defence to pass without comment. He has told us twenty times before that it is of the utmost importance to pass the Bill without delay. He has now gone further than ever before, inasmuch as he has stated that if the question of paying the salaries of the civil servants at the usual date were not involved, he would not ask honorable senators to reverse their previous decision.
– Not upon this point.
– Every time that Senator Playford makes that statement he deliberately implies that the fault rests with ourselves. Does he allege that I am in any way responsible for the delay which has occurred ?
– I am very glad to have the Minister’s admission, even at this late stage of the sitting.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the request, “ That the vote ‘ Sydney Government House, £2,585, be reduced by £1,000,” be not made.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Motion agreed to.
Bill reported without requests. Report adopted-
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That somuch of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill passing through its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 4.30 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19051129_senate_2_29/>.