2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at . 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 3272), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Whatever views honorable senators may entertain regarding this measure, I think we can all welcome it as one which is likely to clear the ground in the forthcoming electioneering contest in which we must take part. I wish at once to say that I desire to compliment both Senator Pearce and his associates on the perfect candour with which they have presented the Bill for our consideration. We have heard it alleged of late that the cry of those who believe in individual enterprise as against State enterprise is a mere bogy, and that there is no such thing as Socialism, which need not concern us. But we now have a very frank and open declaration by Senator Pearce that this Bill is put forward as a definite socialistic proposal.
– It is on our platform.
– I will come to the platform directly.
– Of which the honorable senator helped to lay the foundation.
– Senator Guthrie is absolutely mistaken there.
– Did not the honorable senator represent the Bourke Carriers’ “Union ?
– I did, andI should be quite willing to represent them again in a matter which they intrusted to my keeping. I may ad’d that it would have been a good thing for my honorable friends opposite, and for those who are associated with them, ifthey had taken the advice that I then gave. It has been urged in support of the contention that the cry of Socialism is a mere bogy that the Constitution itself makes no provision by which the Commonwealth can nationalize anv industry. But Senator Pearce makes it clear that instead of being a bogy, it is something real and definite. He and his party now come forward, in a perfectly constitutional way, to get over the difficulty that stands between them and certain objects which they have in view. I would also, before passing from that point, draw attention to the fact that Senator Pearce, with’ the candour to which I have just referred, admitted last night, on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, that this was not merely his own personal Bill. It is a measure intrusted to him by his party . Therefore, it’ is made, perfectly clear that this matter of nationalization, which has hitherto been only upon the platform of his party, has now reached the stage at which, in the opinion of that party, it is deemed desirable to put it in the forefront of their legislative work. They are, therefore2 seeking from the electors authority for the nationalization of industries in order, we .may assume, that, if the electors give than a majority, they may proceed to give practical effect to the views embodied in this Bill. I can give to the Senate the assurance that I shall endeavour to discuss this matter without any warmth of feeling. It is a matter of enormous magnitude. It is one upon which I think both sides can admit that there are reasonable grounds for difference of opinion, and for conflicting arguments. And when I say, as I do most frankly, that I am prepared to concede to mv opponents opposite the fullest measure of sincerity in the position that they take up, I think I am not unreasonable in asking that they also shall believe in the sincerity of those who, like myself, think that if this Bill were passed, the Commonwealth would be taking not a progressive, but a retrograde step. I lav particular emphasis upon that point, because it will be necessary for me later on to show, as I think I shall be able to do, whilst in no sense impugning the bona fides and good intentions of my honorable friend. Senator Pearce, that he has allowed his zeal for the cause which he has at heart rather to outrun, not merely his discretion, but his sense of fairness, and certainly to undermine, to the greatest extent, the judicial faculty which, as Chairman of the recent Royal Commission, he was called upon to exercise. I must regret, too, that Senator Pearce absolutely ignored two important principles, which, to mv mind, are the main principles we have to consider. One is the great effect, the vital influence, which will be asserted upon the Constitution itself if this Bill becomes law; and the other is the great economic change he proposes to make. On neither of those points did Senator Pearce say anything. It is quite true that he made a casual reference to the responsibility attached to amending the Constitution; but that reference was made with respect to a minor matter - that which we were discussing yesterday. It is the sort of admission which any one could make, even in regard to the most trivial amendment of the Constitution. But so far as one can gather from his address, he has absolutely failed to grasp what the proposed amendment of the Constitution will mean. He also omitted to refer to the great and fundamental change in our economic system which he proposes to make. He alluded to certain businesses which he thought it desirable to nationalize, but in no case did he go to die root of the whole matter, or refer to the difficulties which would arise from the substitution of State for individual enterprise. In those matters the change which the honorable senator proposes to bring about is so great, so absolutely organic, that I think I am entitled to say that it would be not a. mere reform, but a constitutional and economic revolution. I wish first to deal with the constitutional aspect of the matter. I shall particularly invite the attention of honorable senators to this matter, because so far as I can see, if my view of it is” right, it will mean not merely an amendment of the Constitution, but will prove absolutely destructive of the basic principle upon which the Commonwealth Constitution was brought about. I need hardly remind honorable senators that when the question of bringing the Colonies of Australia into some form of union was under discussion, it was very clearly understood and definitely impressed upon every elector, that there was to be a federation and not an unification. I will show by means of a few quotations what I understand to be the basis of a Federal union. Burgess, a writer of considerable repute, says -
The test pf a Federal system lies in the principle that the central government cannot destroy nor modify .the local, nor the local government the central.
It was a government of that kind. which was offered to the people of the Commonwealth, and which they accepted - one” under which there was to be a sharp division of powers and functions, between the local and the central Government, each being absolutely sovereign in its own domain and independent of the other. I lay particular stress upon this point, because if this Bill is carried, it will be a breach of faith with any State the people of which do not declare for it. At the first Federal Convention, held in 1891, a series of resolutions was submitted. The preamble to those resolutions reads as follows: -
That in order to establish and secure an enduring foundation for the structure of a Federal Government, the principles embodied in the resolutions following be agreed ia.
The first of the resolutions referred to reads -
That the powers and privileges and territorial rights of the several existing Colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such surrenders as may be agreed upon as necessary and incidental to the power and authority of the National Federal Government.
Speaking upon those resolutions Sir Henry Parkes said -
I, therefore, lay down certain conditions which seem to me imperative as a ground-work of anything we have to do, and I prefer stating that these first four resolutions simply lay down what appear to me the four most important conditions on which we must proceed. First : “ That the powers and privileges and territorial rights of the several existing Colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such surrenders as may be agreed upon as necessary and incidental to the power and authority of the National Federal Government.” I think it is in the highest degree desirable that we should satisfy the mind of each of the Colonies that we have no intention to cripple their powers, to invade their rights, to diminish their authority, except so far as it is absolutely necessary in view of the great end to be accomplished, which, in point of fact, will not be material as diminishing the powers and privileges and rights of the existing Colonies. It is therefore proposed by this first condition of mine to satisfy them that neither their territorial rights nor their powers of legislation for the well-being of their own country will be interfered with in any way that can impair the security of those rights and the efficiency of their legislative, powers.
I say that that passage clearly outlines the basis of the union, the compact, the agreement, which was offered to the people of these several States, and which they accepted as a Federal as distinct from an unified form of government. I hold that this Bill is absolutely destructive of that idea. If the Bill were carried, it would mean an advance towards unification. I recognise at once that while the Constitution, based on the principles to which T have referred, does permit of amendment in certain ways, it is possible, by a reck- less use of that power, to take from the States rights and privileges which they would not give up voluntarily. Some stress has been laid by Senator Pearce upon the fact that the Bill can only be passed if it gain the approval of a majority of the people in a majority of the States. That, of course, is quite clear from the wording of the Constitution. But if a proposal were made to take all the lands away from the States, and hand them over to the Commonwealth, it might command the approval of four States, and the requisite popular majority. Yet it would be an act of injustice to the States which declined to fall in with the idea. In that way my honorable friends could secure something which they know perfectly well the States would not have given up prior to Federation. Therefore, it seems to me abundantly clear that we have no right to attempt to amend the Constitution, even although we have the power to do so, in order to make an encroachment upon rights of the States which they are not prepared to surrender. In introducing the measure, Senator Pearce threw it out as a sort of challenge that those who doubted the strength of the socialistic movement should agree to his Bill in order that it might’ be referred to the people for an expression of their opinion. But one of the strongest reasons why I object to his proposal is that it is possible to take from New South W.a:les, or any State, something which it would not voluntarily surrender, and which, if it had been made a condition of the original agreement, would have meant that it would have stayed outside the Union. Take, for instance, the Crown lands. Does any one suppose for a moment that New South Wales, or anyState, would have come into the Union if it had been made part of the bond originally that the lands and the mines should be handed over to the Federation? Not a State would have come into the Union on such a condition. Yet by amending the Constitution my honorable friends, I admit, cam take from the States what they would not voluntarily give up. Is it right to do that? Certainly the Constitution gives the power to take that step; but the mere possession of the power is, morally, no justification for exercising it. I wish now to show how great an encroachment the Bill, if carried, would make” upon the’ rights of the States, and to what an extent it would launch us on the road towards unification. Even if limited to the carrying on of industries, it would be a considerable encroachment on States rights. To-day the States possess the right to carry on the business of manufacture or production. It has already been exercised in New South Wales, where w.e have clothing factories and also docks. I am not aware whether Victoria has carried out its brick-making enterprise or not, but I think that the machinery is on the ground. In various directions the States, when circumstances rendered it desirable, have attempted certain enterprises of that kind. Therefore, by proposing to transfer to the Federation these powers, it is proposed to that extent to encroach on what is at present the domain of the States. But I do not regard that in anything like so serious a light as I do the effect which the Bill, if it became law, would have on the Constitution - the substitution, to a very great extent of the principle of unification for that of Federation. It may be said that I am taking an unnecessarily alarmist view when certain sections of the Constitution are considered. I ask honorable senators to turn for a moment to sections 128 and 123. I take it that there is no writer on Socialism - certainly none with whom I am familiar - who does not put forward the land as the first of all monopolies. I am not now saying whether it is right or not, but I assert that all socialistic authors have contended that the first and the greatest monopoly of all is the land. It seems to me that but for a provision in the Constitution, it would be possible under the Bill, if it became law, to nationalize the lands of the several States. That brings me to section 128 of the Constitution, which says -
No alteration diminishing the proportionate representation of any State in either House of the Parliament, or the minimum number of representatives of a State in the House of Representatives, or increasing, diminishing, or otherwise altering the limits of the State, or in any manner affecting the provisions of the Constitution in relation thereto, shall become law unless the majority of the electors voting in that State approve the proposed law.
Section 123 provides that the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall not increase, diminish, or otherwise alter the limits of a State except with the consent of the people of the State. According to those two sections, the ordinary majority - that is. a majority of the people in a majority of the States - would not be sufficient where the lands of the State were concerned. In view of that fact, it might seem that if there is a provision to prevent the Parliament from diminishing the area of a State bv taking away a portion of it, therefore we could not take the whole. But, in answer to that view, I turn to paragraph xxi. of section 51 -
– But that cloes not contemplate taking the whole State?
– I hold that but for the Constitution it would be possible under this Bill, if passed, to nationalize any business. I take it that production from the land is the first business, and that manufacture and distribution follow. As regards this easy method of disposing of constitutional objections, when raised, may I remind my honorable friends in the Labour Party that when this proposal was before the Senate previously thev treated in exactlv the same way the objection which I raised that it was unconstitutional. Senator Pearce was very clear and emphatic on the point that it was absolutely constitutional, and although at considerable length I quoted several authorities my honorable friends still dissented from the view I expressed. But now we have them admitting that the position I then took up was perfectly right. The introduction of this Bill is proof that Senator Pearce now admits that in that occasion he was wrong, and thatthe view I put forward was sound. A similar result would follow in the present case. Paragraph xxxi. of section 51 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament of tne Commonwealth to legislate with respect to-
The acquisition of property on just terms from any Stale or person for anv purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
If to those purposes we added “ the nationalization of industries,” theParliament would then have power to secure the land necessary to carry on a particular business. I think it must be perfectly clear that if we said that one of the purposes mentioned in that paragraph was production, then the Parliament would have power to acquire the property necessary to carry out the purpose, whether it was production in the form of farming or grazinsr or mining.
– Would that be a calamity ?
– I am not now arguing whether it would be a calamity or not - evidently my honorable friend thinks that it would not - but I am trying to show that the proposed amendment of the Constitu- tion could not be limited to the mere nationalization of a particular business, but would make such a fundamental alteration in the Constitution as absolutely to lead to unification. Because, to my mind, it 3s impossible to conceive of a Federal Government controlling the lands, and with them the mines, unless we also recognise that from that time forward the State’s Governments must become a diminishing quantity until they absolutely disappear. Whether it be for good or ill, we should look well ahead at the road which we are invited to travel, and as I am not prepared to believe that a system of unified Government - one in which all the functions would be centred in a central body, the States Governments would be swept out of existence, and the States boundaries would disappear - would make for the welfare and happiness of the people, that is one of the reasons why I oppose the Bill, and invite the attention of the Senate to the sharp distinction between the Constitution as it stands, and as it would be if this proposal- were carried. The next point I wish to deal with is the fundamental difference between national and private enterprise. On that point Senator Pearce was absolutely silent. He may have considered that it was not incumbent upon him to deal with it. But it seems to me very much better that we should look at the principles1 underlying State enterprise as against private enterprise than that we should devote too much time to the incidents connected with any particular industry or business. Charges are made very freely - sometimes with sincerity, sometimes without it - that the advocates of private enterprise ‘are absolutely callous, and would simply stand by the principle of let things alone. No individualists ever accept that as their standard. They hold that the functions of the State should, as far as possible, be limited to the regulation of industry without merging into industry itself. Individualists believe that State enterprise has an inherent weakness, and that therefore it ought to be limited as ‘much as possible. On the other hand, my Socialist friends believe that State enterprise is in itself a good thing, and that therefore it ought to be adopted as far, and as fast, as possible. Individualists further believe that where action is taken by the State it should be limited to assisting private enterprise. I think I am correct in saying that my So- cialist friends would destroy private enterprise altogether. That, I think, very clearly defines the position of the two parties.
– The honorable senator is not justified in saying that his socialistic friends would destroy private enterprise altogether.
– He has a right to make the statement if he holds that belief.
– The two interjections, perhaps, will enable me to correct any wrong impression. I am stating what I believe to be the doctrine of the Socialists, and that is to substitute public for private enterprise. That Socialists to-day, as represented by my honorable friend, propose to immediately nationalize all business, and I do not for a moment believe or pretend, but I assert that the Socialist doctrine is to substitute State for private enterprise. On the other hand, individualists contend that where the State is obliged to take action ft should be simply to assist and not to destroy private enterprise.
– The honorable senator believes that the State should create a profit, and that private enterprise should scoop up the profit.
– I do not believe anything of the kind nor does the honorable senator think that I do. It is a wellunderstood rule, founded upon common sense, that when a change is proposed anywhere the onus of proof lies with those who make the proposal. When my honorable friends brought forward this measure, they should ha;ve recognised that the responsibility rested upon them-of proving that the system of individualism has absolutely failed, and that the system which they propose to put in its place has reasonable guarantees of success. In no case have they attempted one or the other. Senator Pearce made no reference at all to individualism generally, but merely picked ou’t one or two businesses regarding which he made some very strong allegations. The honorable senator, however, never attempted to ascertain whether there axe any facts of a sufficiently general character to justify the assertion that individualism has absolutely failed. Certainly, neither by facts culled from history, nor bv argument or reasoning, did the honorable senator justify the assertion or hope that Socialism would succeed. I admit at once that the honorable senator pointed to one or two industries, regarding which he made certain allegations ; and if those allegations are founded* on fact they seem to prove that in those particular industries there are certain defects, weaknesses, or evils - call them what we like. But I am not aware that, because a certain number of individuals suffer from indigestion, there is any particular reason why the rest of the community should starve themselves. Yet that seems to be the reasoning of my honorable friends opposite - that because they have found an industry or two where private enterprise has assumed such a phase as to appear to be productive of evil, therefore all private enterprise should be swept on one side in favour of State control.
– Because some people suffer from toothache, every one must have their teeth extracted.
– That is a very good simile. I ask for proof that individualism has proved a failure, or t Rat Socialism will prove a success. While Socialism may overcome some of the difficulties which individualism presents, the former system may be accompanied by evils more serious still. I admit at once that a big question of this kind would occupy too much time and research to enable a discussion to be conducted on the floor of this Chamber. But there are certain broad general facts to which I can direct attention, and on which I am content to rely, in proof of my statement that, so far, we have had no evidence that individualism has failed, and that we are actually without proof that Socialism would succeed. It is a remarkable fact that the nations of the world which have led civilization are those which have allowed the largest measure of liberty to individual citizens, while, on the other hand, those nations which have displayed the larger measure of paternalism on the part of the Government - which have been more directly under the control of the Government - have always occupied a second or third rate place. I know of nothing which more vividly illustrates the potency of allowing a large measure of individual liberty than the history of colonization. England, which has allowed its subjects the fullest measure of liberty, is to-day a great colonizing power, whilst the Continental nations, which sent out their explorers and early settlers in leading strings, under the care of Government officials, have proved absolute and abject failures as colonizers. I am not saying that any of the facts to which I refer are at all conclusive ; but they afford a general indication that where the human mind and enterprise are allowed the fullest measure of liberty, there may Le looked for the richest rewards. I take it that both Socialists and individualists, other than those who may have become so absolutely selfish and callous as to have no regard for the common promptings of humanity, desire that in every act of government we shall keep clearly before us the one objective, the greatest good of the greatest number. On the question whether, with that objective in view, individualism has failed, I invite the attention of honorable senators opposite to a few facts. I know that figures are wearying, and therefore I shall condense as much as possible those which I propose to quote. From Mulhall I learn that pauperism in Great Britain is rapidly diminishing. Whereas in 1850 pauperism in Great Britain represented nearly 5 per cent, of the population, the proportion had in 1889 fallen to nearly 2% per cent. - a practical reduction of 50 per cent. Then in 1850 there were in Great Britain 1,308,000 paupers, as compared with 1,000,000 in 1889, although the population had in the meanwhile increased. As a matter of fact, the reduction in the number of paupers in the period mentioned represented 22 J per cent., while the population had increased by over 35 per cent. In order to prevent any misunderstanding, I may say that in quoting these figures I am omitting the odd numbers. Mulhall, dealing with the people of the civilized world as a whole, shows that those who use savings banks - and they are mostly of the working classesadded £503,000,000 to their accumulations in seven years, or about ^72,000,000 per annum. According to the same authority, I find that in America the number of depositors increased from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 in the seven years from 1889 to 1896 - an increase of nearly 25 per cent., while the deposits increased from i.-363, 000,000 dollars to 1,907,000,000 dollars, or, roughly, 40 per cent. This meant an increase of deposits per inhabitant - not per depositor - of 22J per cent. In Great Britain I find that from 1890 to 1897 the number of depositors increased from 5,576,000 to 7,640,000, and the deposits f romain, 000, 000 to £164,000,000 ; the deposits per head of population, though not per depositor, rising from ^15 to .£24. Turning mv attention to Australia, I find from Coghlan, page 806, that the number of depositors here increased from the year 1861 to 1881 by 100 per cent., which, allowing for the growth of population, means 140 per cent.
– The. honorable senator will admit that Australia is more socialistic than is Great Britain ?
– I do not know that I can make that admission.
– I do not think it is a fact.
– If Senator Pearce means by the interjection that the Government in Australia are, under the circumstances in which we are placed, called on to take up functions which the Imperial Government are not called upon to take up, I agree with him.
– Anyhow, the Imperial Government do not take up those functions.
– I shall later on deal with the question whether those States’ actions in Australia may or may not be called socialistic.
– According to the figures quoted by the honorable senator, the Australian conditions are better than the British conditions, and, therefore, Socialism is better than individualism.
– If thehonorable senator could dispose of the matter in that easy way, there would be something in his interjection. At present it may be admitted that in Great Britain Socialism is not the present economic doctrine.
– Senator Best has just informed us that it is.
– I say that Socialism is more prevalent in England than it is here.
– There is much more municipalization’ in the old country than there is here.
– However, it must be admitted, I think, that whatever the relative degrees of State action are, the existing economic doctrine in England is that of private enterprise.
– The honorable senator’s figures illustrative of individualism are just as strong as applied to Australia as they are applied to the old country.
– I am trying to show that under individualism, . instead of the poor becoming poorer, there is a larger acquisition of wealth in the hands of an increased number of people.
– A growing Socialism ; as Senator Svmon pointed out there is a growth of municipal Socialism.
– Senator Pearce just now pointed out that the figures showed better conditions in Australia than in England. First of all. the honorable senator affirmed that the figures show that Australia is more socialistic than England, and now he asserts that England is more socialistic than Australia.
– The figures of the honorable senator show that as Socialism has increased pauperism has diminished in England ; and I accept the statement of Senator Symon that municipal Socialism is increasing in the old country.
– What I say is that the municipal Socialism there is equivalent to our State Socialism.
– Does Senator Pearce contend that Socialism exists in England?
– In a limited form, yes.
– Are the big producing and manufacturing industries in England carried on by the State or by private individuals?
– The municipalities carry on a few.
– To such an insignificant degree as to be hardly worth talking about, and it is begging the question if we turn aside from the main stream into rivulets of that character. Undoubtedly in England, as here, the economic system is private enterprise; and I am trying to show that under private enterprise, instead of the poor becoming poorer, more people are getting more wealth.
– A large number get nothing.
– Exactly ; but that number is becoming smaller under the present system. I admit that the present system is not perfect - no system is. I desire to ascertain’ how far the present system has been a failure up to the present time, and what guarantee there is of equal success, or of a larger measure of success under the system favoured by honorable senators opposite. It is the distribution rather than the production of wealth which excites the hostility of Socialists ; and I should now like to quote a few figures which will conclude my remarks on this aspect of the question. In Coghlan there are certain figures which show the number of people in the communitv who have wealth ; and that number is obtained, as honorable senators know, bv ascertaining how manv who die have estates on which duties are levied, and then averaging the values over the whole community. Taking the figures for the whole of the Common wealth, I find that from 1880 to 1884, 11 per cent. - leaving odd decimals on one side - of the total deaths were those of people who possessed property. From 1885 to 1889 the percentage had risen to 12 per cent. ; from 1890 to 1894, to 14 per cent. ; and from 1895 to 1900, to 17.23 per cent. The figures for the next quinquennial period are not available.
– And we are becoming more socialistic !
– Those figures show conclusively, along with the figures as to the bank deposits, that whatever may be the defects of the present system there is a. wider and wider distribution of wealth, with a smaller percentage of absolute poverty. The figures which I have given as to the number of deaths per 100 of the population are in themselves likely to mislead, because there are included a considerable number of infants. In order to determine the number of the adult population who possess property, I have here figures showing that, taking the deaths per hundred of adult males, the number possessing property exhibits the same uniform increase, starting with 34.6 per 100 from 1880 to 1884, and then rising to 37 per1 00 from 1885 to 1889, to 42.1 per 100 from 1890 to 1894, and in the last period for which we have figures, to 46.6 per 100.
– And if Socialism goes on, they will by-and-bv be cent, per cent.
– No; there will be none at all ; because, if the socialists have one object, it is to take private ‘property, and not leave it with individuals.
– If a man left a swag, I suppose the honorable member would call that property !
– The honorable member knows that, for purposes of probate, a swag would not be called property. The figures in Coghlan are based on the probate returns, and, therefore, Senator Givens’ interjection is very wide of the mark. I desire here to quote from the Melbourne Age an extract from an article tearingon the point. I do not quote that journal very often, but there is an admission in the article referred to which touches the subject. We know very well that the Melbourne Age has latterly been attempting to show that the great industries of the country are not as flourishing as they ought to be; and in the issue of the 22nd of last month there was an article commenting on the figures published by the Victorian Statistician. The article went on to say -
These figures testify that in every department of our industrial life we are forging ahead.
Our agriculturists are thriving, and our manufacturers, despite the handicaps they have at present to fight in the shape of ineffective protection, foreign trust competition, and many lamentable holes in our Tariff fence, are beginning to overtake and supply the wants of the people with the products of Australian labour.
To go exhaustively into the whole question, and show that individualism, as a policy, tends towards progress, would be a task far beyond my strength, and would occupy more time than the Senate could afford to devote to a consideration of the subject. But I have put these few figures forward chiefly in order to show that my honorable friends opposite do not venture to attempt to prove that the system they attack has been a failure. I put them forward as showing, in view of all the facts which can be gleaned without too deep research, that the individualistic system makes for- the prosperity of the civilized nations that have adopted it as their economic system. Senator Pearce said something just now about State enterprise being Socialism, but I am rather surprised that, before honorable senators put forward State enterprises as evidence of the benefits of Socialism, they did not look a little more closely into them. First of all, I deny that thev are socialistic in the sense in which our honorable friends opposite use the term. Every one of the enterprises to which they ‘have refeirrec has something in it in the nature of a monopoly. We could not have a railway system in the country without granting a legislative monopoly. We give the right to run the railways over people’s land. It is that which constitutes the monopoly, and which differentiates such enterprises altogether from businesses such as the tobacco industry, to which Senator Pearce has referred, and which it is competent for one or a dozen men to enter upon if they think fit. I propose to show what strength these State enterprises, or socialistic enterprises, if my honorable friends please, lend to the contention that under Government control our enterprises will produce more wealth for distribution amongst the people in the community than they would under individual control. At the time I prepared some figures on this subject, I was unable to obtain the railway returns for last year in New South Wales, which, I admit, was a phenomenally profitable one, but I find that in New South Wales, for the seven years ending 30th June, 1905, that State lost £1,000,000 on the conduct of the railways. The railways of Victoria, in the same time, showed a loss of £2,500,000. When I take another socialistic service - the Post Office - I find that since Federation was accomplished, allowing for interest on the transferred properties, the Post and Telegraph Department, though we have not yet been federated for six years, has shown a loss of ,£1,760,000.
– To whom was it lost? Not anybody outside of Australia. The people have not lost it.
– If the railways had been privately owned, the profit made would have meant a loss to the people.
– I . am not dealing with a profit from the railways referred to, but to the loss shown on their work. Honorable senators speak as though this were only a book-keeping loss.
– So it is, as a matter of fact.
– It is only a bookkeeping loss in the sense that the Government, having the power of. taxation, could collect sufficient in that form to make up the deficiency. But what would they do if an attempt were made to carry out all the enterprises of the community on the same basis? If they endeavoured to carry out every enterprise, and did so with the same proportional financial loss, whereS would they land the community? .
– We are asking that the State should take over the management of some of the payable enterprises.
– Before the honorable senator can ask that, he must give some instance of State enterprises which have been conducted profitably.
– The New South Wales railways, for instance.
– Which, as I have just explained, show a loss of £1,000,000 in seven years.
– How much was the loss last year?
– I have just- admitted that there was a profit shown on the working of the New South Wales railways last year.
– If the same rates were charged as would be charged by private enterprise, those railways would show a profit all the time.
– Then the honorable senator concedes my whole point, since he admits that if the business had been conducted by private enterprise a profit would have been made instead of a loss.
– I say that the States would have shown a profit if they charged the same rates and extracted the same amount pf money out of the people who dealt with them as private enterprise would have done.
– That is merely a matter of opinion, and I ask honorable senators to consider the solid fact that there has been a loss of £1.000,000 in seven years on the New South Wales railways.
– What is the loss on their tramways?
– The figures for the tramways are included in the gross figures to which I have referred honorable senators. These facts indicate that there is no royal road to making a business pay, and that the State has no absolute claim to say that it can conduct a business enterprise with financial success. The obligation to show that it can is upon my honorable friends opposite. I did not bring this matter forward. They have brought it forward as evidence to show what the State can do, and is doing. Despite the picture of success drawn by the lively imagination of my honorable friends, the fact remains that if all business enterprises were under the control and guidance of the State, and were carried on proportionally at the same loss as those to which I have referred, we should, in a verv few years’ time, touch the border of national insolvency.
– Does the honorable senator condemn the system of State-owned railways ?
– Certainly not. I go a little further to show the wonderful results of the State conduct of business enterprise. I do not know exactly under what conditions country waterworks have been constructed in Victoria; but. although I have not the figures with me, I know that in New South Wales country waterworks constructed under Government control have shown an absolute and appalling loss. They have been constructed under Government control by Government officials ; the Government have provided the money, constructed the works, and have then handed them over to the municipalities concerned, who have been liable for interest on the cost of construction.
– In New South Wales they can do nothing without the Government. They had to get the Government to put up a two-railed fence to keep out ticks.
– Senator Dawson, with his large, practical knowledge, will be able to confirm my statement that it would be difficult to give a single instance of State action which does not reveal the ridiculous in some form or other. In connexion with countrv waterworks in New South Wales, there has hardly been a single case in which it has not been shown that the cost of the waterworks, owing to the fact that they were constructed by the Government, represented a financial burden which no single municipality could shoulder.
– And yet the Kalgoorlie waterworks last year paid working expenses, interest on cost of construction, and £3,000 towards a sinking fund.
– The honorable senator refers to one instance, and I refer, not to one, but to twenty.
– I quote the biggest waterworks in the world.
– And with the most favorable local circumstances. Those waterworks carry water to a place which is expanding, and where the demand for the water is increasing every day.
– In Victoria we wrote off a little over£1,000,000 for country waterworks only a short time ago.
– Because the people using the water would not pay their rates.
– It is not merely a. question of neglect to pay rates, because it has been shown that if the country municipalities in New South Wales exacted everv single penny that the properties benefited by the waterworks would bear, the revenue they would derive would still be insufficient to cover the outlay by the Government in the construction of the works.
– Were they built to make a profit?
– They do not even pay interest.
– Do they not pay indirectly by keeping settlers on the soil?
– Keeping settlers on the soil in country towns?
– The Victorian waterworks have not been constructed merely for the benefit of people in towns.
– The honorable senator must not jump about in that way. I am dealing now with New South Wales country, waterworks, and I say that after Government auditors have examined the accounts of the municipalities concerned they have had to admit that they were not competent to shoulder the overwhelming financial responsibilities incurred by the construction of theworks.
– Would those waterworks have been undertaken by private enterprise ?
– That has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the question. I admit at once that it is necessary that those waterworks should be under State or local control.
– Then what becomes of the honorable senator’s argument?
– I accept these things as necessary evils, whilst my honorable friend puts them forward as desirable advantages, which I have shown they are not. I said just now that there is hardl’v an enterprise which the State has touched in connexion with which greater losses cannot be shown than can be shown in respect Of similar businesses conducted by private enterprise.
– And yet the honorable senator prefers that these undertakings should be carried on by the State rather than by private enterprise.
– With all the drawbacks to which I have referred I do prefer that, because I know that the question of the conservation of water is one with’ which the public health is concerned, and that is an important factor which the honorable senator has possibly ignored. We had in New South Wales a Fitzroy Dock, and we had a Commission appointed to inquire into it, and to find out how that State enterprise had been conducted. I need only refer honorable senators to the report of the Commission, which should convince any impartial mind that in carrying out such works under State control the least, rather than the most, effective work is obtained from the industry employed in construction. The same thing was proved when theGovernment attempted to build a hospital. It was proved that the price paid by outside contractors for the cutting of stone was something like one-third of the price paid by the Government, and the reason was obvious.
– How was it obvious ?
– In the first place, where men are working for themselves they work strenuously and faithfully, and when they are working together for other people the stimulus of work for themselves is absent.
– That argument applies just as forcibly to work done for the outside contractors.
– If a man is working for an outside contractor, and does not do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, he knows what will happen. Here is an instance of the results of what my honorable friends would call absolute State Socialism : Some time ago the Government desired to throw open land for settlement in New South Wales, and the idea was suggested by some members of the socialistic party in that State that it would be an excellent thing and a good investment if, instead of throwing the land open to selection in an unimproved condition, the State improved it first, and added the cost of the improvement to the price of the land. The incoming settlers would then, instead of having to spend time and money in getting their land ready for the plough, be able to enter upon an improved property, and start their operations at once. The idea suggested was adopted, the most experienced men in the Department were sent up to the land, and I think I am correct in saving that the assistance of outside practical men was also availed of. What was regarded as a fair price per acre for clearing the land was fixed. The work was let to gangs of men, anc! it was not long before the inevitable agitation arose for better payment. The State conceded the demand, and before the work was completed the cost of clearing the land had run up from £3 to £10 per acre. That sum was added to the price of the land when it was thrown open to selection. But when it was selected the selectors exercised their right under the land law to have the improvements appraised bv the local Land Board The Land Boards in New South Wales, as honorable senators are no doubt aware, are composed of one Government official, and two local men of farming or land experience. The selectors applied to the local Land Board to have the improvements appraised, and they were appraised on the evidence of Crown witnesses, district surveyors, and field surveyors, at prices which ran from 30 to 50 per cent, of the price which the State had paid for having the work of improvement carried out.
– That was in New South Wales- anything might happen there.
– Honorable senators can hardly dispose of the whole chapter of incidents to which I refer them by saying merely that these things happened in New South Wales. I have yet to learn that any other State has achieved any larger measure of success where the Government has endeavoured to enter upon those industries which have hitherto been left to private individuals.
– I do not think that any other State can show a gross scandal like that.
– The honorable senator may call it a gross scandal, if he likes; but only the other day I read in one of the Victorian newspapers of an embankment being made in this State to prevent certain land from being swamped, and it was shown that the price paid by the Government for the work was not only many times larger than the price which would ‘have been paid by private employers, “ but that the result had been an absolute failure when the work was done. I say, therefore, that such cases are not singular to New South Wales.
– Where was it said that the work was a failure when done?
– It was pointed out that the water had got through the hank; and now they are trying to pull the bank down to let the water out again. It is not a matter of one State alone. These things, I take it, are associated with practically every Government enterprise throughout Australia. On another occasion, the Government of my State entered upon a socialistic venture. It decided to construct certain drains to carry away the water from a bore. When the work was done, it was found that it would cost £70 per mile, whereas the ordinary contract price would have been £6 or £7. The reason was that the Government preferred to do that work with pick and shovel, as probably my friends opposite would have preferred to do it, on the ground that it would give more employment to labour to do it in that way than to use machinery. If the work had been done by private enterprise, it would have been carried out for a much smaller sum by means of effective plant. I could give many other instances, but it is not necessary to do so, because any one who has taken notice of public affairs, not to speak of any one who has been in public ..life, must know of a multiplicity of such cases similar to those which I have mentioned, where, the moment the State stepped out of its legitimate functions and undertook the work of private enterprise, it was landed in a tremendous failure. In fact, it was only possible for it to do such work at all because, if the Government incurs a deficiency, it always has the chance to fall back upon the taxation of the people to make up that deficiency. When I find that consistently Government efforts end in the way I have shown, is it to be supposed that we shall redeem that weakness, or whatever it is, by a mere amendment of the Constitution, which is going to enlarge the opportunities for Government muddling?
– That is not the point at all. The honorable senator assumes that those on this side of the Chamber would not use machinery, but would u’se a pick and shovel to do work which a machine could do better.
– I will shortly give a quotation from Senator Findley showing, that that is what he does propose to do.
– What is that? Does the honorable senator suggest that I would go hack to stage coaches, and dispense with steam-engines ?
– The great evil that I am pointing out in regard ito these State enterprises is that they are not as efficiently or. as cheaply done as when similar works are undertaken by private enterprise.
– There is no doubt that some men have to work too hard to earn a living to’-day.
– It might be assumed that, seeing that the Government, in running these enterprises, evidently pays those engaged in them more than it gets out of the works, there would be a spirit of contentment in the Public Service, and that all those engaged in carrying out State enterprises would be happy. But what is the actual position ? We have had in New South Wales an inquiry into the working of the railways, which’ proves that not merely amongst the rank and file, but right up to the heads of the Department, an absolute state of disorganization and discontent has prevailed. We have going, on there now an inquiry into the tramway service, as the result of ,al legations By the men that their superior officers have been imposing upon them, that there has been tyranny on the one hand and favoritism on the other. The facts to which I allude amply prove that, under this “ ideal “ system which mv honorable friends opposite desire to bring about, there will be an element of dissatisfaction and want of discipline which will prevent the successful undertaking of necessary work. These are instances taken from recent editions of the public press. Not long ago there was a Commission inquiring into the office which deals with weights and measures. Allegations of favoritism and incivility,, and even charges of a more serious character, were inquired into. We had also a water and sewerage board complaint as to am, allegation concerning the dismissal of an employe in order to make room for a nominee of one of the members of the Board. We had also, with regard to the City Council, a system which was known as the “ Widow’s Cart system,” which prevailed for many years, and under which the widow of any one who had been at work under the corporation had an opportunity of hiring a cart and a workman to the City Council at a high rate. Then what about the railways in Western Australia? I find that a Commission of inquiry has been appointed regarding the dismissal of a certain officer for the use of Government material, and for doing private work in Government time. I take all these instances out of recent newspapers as showing - though I admit not at all conclusively - that the ‘Socialism advocated by my honorable friends opposite would effect a change that: would be not at all to the advantage of the community:
– Our gaols are full of examples of the failure of private enterprise.
– I say at once that I do not dogmatize upon these points. But Senator Pearce gave no evidence to prove that individualism is a failure, and that Socialism would be a success.
– I took it that every one recognised that.
– I am showing that I at least do not. Taking the particular enterprises in point as being socialistic in their character, I inquire how they are being carried on, and I find that instead of an ideal state of things existing, there is dissatisfaction amongst the men employed, and a complete absence of that happiness which we are lead to believe will be one of the features of the socialistic State. Just now I spoke of the inherent weakness of Government Service. In the Public Service - I do not speak of the Commonwealth service particularly, but of all Government services - there are two methods of advancement, one by seniority, and the other by merit. Neither has proved satisfactory. Where we had advancement by seriority, there was an absolute want of incentive to exertion. A man knew that all he had to do was to attend his office daily, and wait for promotion to come.
– All he had to do was to grow old.
– He waited for some one else to die, and he went on step by step, irrespective of fitness. That system was destructive of any good work. The other system, advancement by merit, should, on the face of it, prove to be better. But what has happened ? The moment any attempt is made to lift a younger officer over an older one, the cry of favoritism is raised. When we were passing our own Public Service Act, we strenuously declared our adherence to the principle of promotion by merit, and our determination that the Public Service Commissioner should be left alone in the discharge of his functions. But whenever the principle of promotion by merit has been tried, we have had complaints about what has been attempted to be done. Quite recently questions were put to the Minister with regard to certain cases. I am not saying that the complaints in question were not justified, but I am pointing out that whenever you attempt in a public department to select men. for offices because of their superior merit, there is immediately a suspicion of favoritism; and the result has been that unless you get a strenuous departmental head who is prepared to advance officers on their merits alone, and to stand the risk of public criticism, that principle is rarely brought into play as it is in private employment. That, I say, is an inherent weakness of any public department. For proof of it, I have only to appeal to the experience of my friends around the Chamber, and to ask them whether it is not so. I. do not say for a moment that a man in the Public Service is any different from a man outside. I “take it that if you were to compare ten average men in the Public Service with a corresponding number of people in private employment, you would find a percentage who were similar in ability, and character.
– You would find ten times more discontent in private employment.
– In private employment, men sometimes cannot call their souls their own. They can in the Public Service.
– A statement of that kind may be all very well for the platform, but I do not know where these down-trodden men in private employment are to be found. I do not find any reluctance on the part of manual labourers whom I meet to express their own opinions. I take it that members of the Public Service are just average citizens, neither better nor worse. My point is that if you take a corresponding number of men in private employment you will always find amongst them some men making rapid advancement, some being dismissed for incompetency and negligence, and some being advanced much more slowly. Do you find the same state of things in the Public Service?
– Unless in absolutely disgraceful cases of misconduct, you do not hear of any dismissals - except, of course, when the country is in one of its spasms of economy. You do not hear of dismissals from the Public Service on the ground of slowness, incompetence, or similar causes.
– Let us sell the railways and farm out the post-offices !
– I should like to sell my honorable friend, and my price for him would not be very high just now. I do not mind reasonable interjections, but statements of that kind do not advance the argument, and for that reason, are a little disconcerting. Any private emplover will see to it that his employes are reasonably active and energetic in the discharge of their duties ; but any incentive of that kind is absent from the Public Service. For proof of that statement, we can appeal to our own experience. The number of dismissals from the Public Service is so small as to be practically nil.
– Because the men are picked before they get there.
– Just now there was general assent to my proposition, and Senator McGregor cheered the remark’ that the men in the Civil Service are just on an average with the men outside its ranks, but now he wants to fall back upon the idea that they are picked men. Were they picked men when they went in as mereyouths? There is no getting away from the fact that the civil servants are just average citizens. They are not to blame, but the system. The absence of fear of unpleasant consequences on, the one hand, and of incentive on the other, is what renders any big public department less efficient in its working than the same men would be if engaged in private employment. If we had State enterprise in matters of industry, and the same spirit prevailing as now prevails in our public departments, we should have an absolute diminution in the general wealth 06 the community. National wealth is the result of national effort. If the effort were lessened, the wealth would be reduced. I take it that my honorable friends opposite are not complaining of the quantity of wealth that is produced, but only of its distribution.
– We are complaining of the quantity of wealth produced. Every man who is not producing wealth is a burden on the country.
– I shall show when I come to the quotation presently that Senator Findley does not propose to produce any more. The complaint of the Socialists to-day’ is not that enough wealth is not produced, but that its distribution is, in their opinion, unequal.
– That is not a fair statement.
– If my honorable friend contends that under Government control more wealth would be produced, he is giving a contradiction to all our knowledge of public departments and State enterprise.
– .We want the highest production.
– If so, my honorable friend will become an advocate of the system o,f private enterprise. Have my honorable friends any assurance that if, under State enterprise, as much would be produced as is produced to-day ? If as much wealth would be distributed as at present, it seems to me that because they are Quarrelling with the distribution of wealth, they are trying to attack the method of its production. That appears to me tq be neither logic nor good business. What guarantees are there that under a socialistic system more wealth would be produced? Let me take some of the statements which my honorable friends have made. First qf all, they offer, as they have done during this debate, easier times to the men employed in the industries to be nationalized.
– Hear, hear ! There is no doubt about that.
– I thought that the honorable senator would recognise that I was coming to his quotation. The workmen are to lae less hustled, and the temperature in the tobacco factories, which Senator Pearce affirms leads to economic manufacture, is to be dispensed with. With what result? Gould we have easier times for workmen, less hustle on their part, and the removal of a factor which leads to economic manufacture, and still get the same result? When Senator Trenwith made an interjection, Senator Findley said - “ We would have more men working less hours.”
– Senator Trenwith was not in the chamber at the time.
– The remark was made in reply to an interjection, at the time Senator Pearce was speaking. I am correctly quoting Senator Findley. When he said that they would employ more men working less hours, did he mean that they would put in more human effort to get the same result? There is no proposal to increase the output of tobacco, but merely to employ more men to produce the present output.
– Perhaps he meant to employ more men instead of girls, as the trusts now do.
– I shall come to that point presently, and that is one of the instances where I think the honorable senator has allowed his zeal to outrun his knowledge of facts. It is not necessary for him, however, to suggest a meaning of the words I quoted, because Senator Findley does not dispute them.
– I do not remember having, made the interjection. I should like’ to see the remark which called for the interjection.
– I apologise for detaining the Senate while I look up the interjection in the report.
– If I said it, I shall stand by it, .and justify it perfectly.
-Col. Gould. - The honorable senator might as well admit that he made it, if he is prepared to justify it.
– It can easily be justified.
– There we have an admission that the statement can be easily justified. It is a statement . which, in one form or other, has been made here frequently.
– From the trust’s own figures we can prove absolutely that they /’W. on more girls than men.
– My honorable friend should correct that statement, and say that he can prove that from his reading of the figures.
– We can prove that from the figures put in by the trust.
– The honorable sen’ator cannot prove that female labour has been put on in place of male labour.
– I shall prove that, if the honorable senator will give me time.
– The honorable senator cannot prove it from the evidence of the Commission, as I ‘shall show directly.
– I shall prove it.
– What the honorable senator can do is to show that more female labour is employed now than formerly.
– And less male adults.
– According to the figures given in the report of the Commission, the honorable senator is absolutely incorrect.
– There is no interjection by Senator Findley in the report of the speech.
– It has just occurred to me that the interjection was made by Senator Findley during the debate on the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, when Senator Trenwith was present. I took & note of his words at the moment, and I shall show him the interjection in Hansard later on.
– I remember the interjection, but Senator Findley did not mean what the honorable senator means.
– The admission that under Socialism more hands would be employed to produce the same results is a confirmation of my statement that under that system we should be producing less instead of more.
– No; Senator Findley did not mean that.
– I am npt saying what he means, but what he said.
– I shall stand by what I said, and justify it if I did make the remark.
– Will not the honorable senator justify it whether he said it or not?
– Time alone will determine that.
– It must be remembered that under this so-called socialistic enterprise there is a big check exercised by the great body of the people who are outside the Government preserve. But if all the people of the country were working for the Government it would disappear, and I venture to say that there would then be an interminable struggle between those engaged in one industry and those engaged in another as to the apportionment of wages. At the present time the standard of wages paid in private employment determines to some extent what the wages in State employment shall be, but if all persons came into the employment of the State what standard would there be? The system would bring down the wages to an absolute level, with the result that the cause of incentive which exists to-day would disappear. There is but one form of Socialism which I think has any possibility of succeeding, and that is Socialism under a despotism. Such as for instance existed in Peru. That system can be carried on under a despotic Government, who can tell men to do this, that, or the other, and punish them if they do not obey. But to contend that we could have the system under a democratic Socialism, where every man claims the .right, as undoubtedly he would have, not merely to criticise, but to shape the policy, to determine what he should do, and what should become of the product of his labour, seems to me to be a contradiction in terms.
– And yet when he has given his vote at the poll he has to shut up-
– Have the tramway men in New South Wales had to shut up?
– They have not had an opportunity to ballot on their grievances.
– Then is it proposed to take sectional ballots? Is it proposed to have ballots amongst railway men to determine what wages they shall be paid ?
– Certainly not.
– The same condition would exist then as exists to-day. When the railway employes give their votes to elect their representatives in Parliament does their power end there? Not one bit. Quite recently they have managed to exercise such influence over their representatives in Parliament that the Government have placed upon the Estimates an item for the purpose of making a concession which the Railways Commisioners, who, by Act of Parliament1, are supposed to be outside political control, state that the railways cannot afford to bear. But the Government provided the money out of general revenue. That goes on where there is only a 1 inured section of the people engaged in State employment. If all were so engaged it would simply reduce the matter to a farce - to be taking money out of the pocket of A. to be placed in the pocket of B. and vice versa. I want now to say a few words as to the Bill. I ask the attention of Senator Pearce for a moment, because I am at a loss to understand what he means. It is a Bill to provide for’ the nationalization of monopolies. I should like him to define the word monopoly.
– If the honorable senator will read my speech he will find that I started off with a definition.
– If I am to take that definition, then the Bill will absolutely fail to accomplish the object which the honorable senator has in view. It is a Bill to provide for -
The nationalization of monopolies with respect to production, manufacture, trade, and commerce.
If this alteration were engrafted on the Constitution, those persons who would have to construe the Constitution would not turn to the second-reading speech of the honorable senator in order to find out what he meant, but to other sources. They would ask, “What is a monopoly ?” According to the authorities I have been able to- consult, what is termed a monopoly is not what Senator Pearce means by the word. In his dictionary, Chambers defines a monopoly in this way -
Monopoly. - The sole power of dealing in anything; exclusive command or possession; (law) a grant from the Crown to an individual for the sole right to deal in anything.
Monopolise. - To obtain possession of anything so as to be the only seller or sharer of it ; to engross the whole of.
Senator Pearce does not mean that. In his speech, he Has given a definition. By the term, he means any business, any corporation, any controlling authority, which secures so large a share of a particular industry as. to become a menace to the public. Where can he find any legal or dictionary interpretation of monopoly to conform to his own? What he means is not the nationalization of monopolies at all. He has admitted that, whilst he calls them virtual or practical monopolies, there is no absolute monopoly in Australia, except one to which I shall refer. In his speech, he made the admission, not once, but several times, that this monopoly is not an absolute one.
– If the Bill be passed we will take the risk.
– The honorable senator is so willing to take risks that he has at all times been inclined to treat any suggestion of this kind in a light-hearted way, as I reminded him this afternoon. I put to honorable senators, as it appears to be useless to put it to Senator Pearce, what would happen if the Bill were passed ? Suppose that it was attempted to nationalize ia business which Senator Pearce shows is not a monopoly, the High Court would say at once, “You have power to nationalize a monopoly, but what is a monopoly ?” It does not mean what Senator Pearce means; the verv derivation of the word shows what it means.
– We will strikeout the word “ monopolies,” and nationalize anything that we desire to.
– Exactly ; that is the point to which I bring honorable senators opposite. Senator Pearce, instead of being cross with me, ought to thank me for a suggestion which will improve his Bill.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I am in the best of temper.
– Senator Pearce desires to make this Bill refer, not to the nationalization of monopolies, but to the nationalization of businesses.
– The honorable senator would like such a Bill for electioneering purposes.
– So far as I aim concerned, the Bill as it is is quite enough for electioneering purposes. All I have to say anywhere, whether in town or country, is that here is a proposal on the part of the Labour Party to nationalize a monopoly in relation to production. I should not need to go any further - I should be quite satisfied^ with that as an electioneering cry. If I did require an electioneering cry, I should ask the electors to listen to what I have just addressed to the Senate. I should point out that we were invited to put our national destinies in the hands of a party who, wishing to nationalize one branch of industry, brings in a Bill to nationalize another. I do not know that such remarks would be complimentary to Senator Pearce, but, at any rate, they would be justifiable. Senator Pearce can scarcely deny his admission that even the one terrible example of the tobacco business does not present a monopoly. The honorable senator went so far as to admit that there are others outside the combine interested in the industry.
– What I said was that the tobacco business is practically a monopoly, although there is some slight competition.
– The Bill does not say anything about the nationalization of “ practical “ monopolies, but refers to the nationalization of monopolies.
– The tobacco monopoly is a carbuncle on the neck of the Commonwealth, and it ought to be removed.
– If that is the objection, then the phraseology of the Bill ought to be altered. Senator Pearce not only admitted that the tobacco, industry is not a monopoly, but went out of his way to make a statement, fpr which there is not the slightest justification in the evidence given before the Royal Commission. That statement was that the combine allows certain competition to exist in order that they may be able to say there, is no monopoly. Senator Pearce added, “ I .can prove that if the combine liked it could crush that competition out of existence.” But the honorable senator never ventured to attempt to produce any proof. It is easy to make statements, but it is another thing to prove them. In regard to both the sugar and the tobacco industries, .Senator Pearce said they are not monopolies, but only what he termed “ virtual “ or “ practical “ monopolies. If the honorable senator desires to nationalize other businesses, he ought to strike out “ monopolies “ and substitute “businesses,” or insert’ a definition of what he means by “ monopoly.” Otherwise we are asked to pass a Bill, and to put the electors to the trouble of voting,’ when we know that the measure can accomplish nothing. If a monopoly did exist, it would always be competent under the Bill for it to keep in existence one or two small businesses in order to avoid being brought within the dictionary definition. I said just now that I know of only two monopolies, and it is important to remember what they are. One monopoly is that of the railways, and the other is that represented by patents.
– How can- the railways be called a monopoly when every citizen has a hand in the management?
– That does not prevent the railways being a monopoly.
– But there is no one outside the monopoly.
– There is a. monopoly for the simple reason that we could not run another railway.
– We do not, but we could.
– We could not. Could the Commonwealth run a yard of railway through New South Wales territory ?
– Not without the leave of the State.
– I think that Senator Trenwith does not quite see the point, because his interjections are usually pertinent. I know of on.lv two enterprises which come within the definition of “ monopoly,” as I understand the word - as I am entitled to understand the dictionary interpretation. Surely Senator Pearce does not* propose that the Commonwealth should nationalize the railways of the States 1 The honorable senator does not propose, I assume, to take over the monopolies which have been given to persons under the patent laws. And yet these are the only two monopolies to which the Bill would apply. I leave that part of the subject by saying that Senator Pearce must either substitute “businesses “ for “monopolies” or insert a definition of the word “monopoly.”
– I shall take the risk.
– The honorable senator may be prepared to take the risk ; but it is ridiculous to ask the Senate to pass a Bill for the nationalization of monopolies when the honorable senator admits that that is not what he desires - that whathe desires is the nationalization of something which he has shown is not a monopoly. Senator Pearce may take the risk, but I am sure the Senate will not. I now desire to deal with the speech of the honorable senator. I almost feel inclined to apologize for referring to the evidence placed before the Royal Commission, because it seems to me it would have been far better to discuss this proposal to nationalize industries without making any particular business the crux.
– There was a Royal Commission, and there has been a report, so that there is some justification for dealing with the industry.
– I am going to deal with the report. All I am saying now is that it would have been far better if we could have discussed the question of nationalization quite apart from thosedebatable points which necessarily arise in the case of a particular business. Personally, I should have liked to deal with the matter entirely from the point of view of what I may call first principles. Senator Pearce, however, dealt almost exclusively with the evidence which he alleges was presented to the Royal Commission, and for that reason I feel called upon to follow him through a great number of the statements he then made. I trust I shall not be misunderstood, because in challenging the statements of the honorable senator I desire to make it perfectly clear that I give him credit for making those statements in the best of good faith, and inno sense intentionally seeking to mislead the Senate. At the same time, I feel it incumbent upon me to show that the honorable senator has misled the Senate, and I shall not look to anything outside the report of the Commission for justification of that statement. It is a matter of very considerable regret - and how far I am entitled to say this must be shown by my subsequent remarks - that the honorable senator should have allowed his zeal to outrun his discretion, and to absolutely outweigh that judicial determination which he ought to have brought to bear on the matter.
– I made the statements in cold blood, and I am prepared to stand by every one of them. They are based on the sworn evidence of witnesses before the Royal Commission.
– I am afraid it will be my duty to show that when Senator Pearce submitted the evidence of the witnesses he did one of three things, either of which meant that the Senate was misled; and I desire to trace the history of this matter. Senator Pearce has based his whole case on the report of the Royal Commission, and therefore I wish to show whether, from the history of that Commission, the report is a document entitled -I shall not say to our respect, for we respect it - but entitled to be regarded as having any serious bearing on the matter under review. First of all, this report was signed by Senators Pearce, Story, Findley, and “Stewart. I take it that in an inquiry of this kind the judicial character is supposed to be uttermost; those who take part are supposed to make an inquiry into facts, and to report according to the evidence presented. Those four gentlemen are all members of a party which is absolutely pledged to nationalization - are gentlemen who, I assume, signed, with perfect sincerity, a pledge to adopt nationalization as a plank in their political programme. They have expressed the belief, strong within themselves, that nationalization would be for the national good, and ought to be accomplished.
– We are pledged to the nationalization of monopolies, and the inquiry was to determine whether the tobacco trade was a monopoly.
– My point is that each one of those honorable senators, before he entered into this judicial business, had pledged himself absolutely in favour of nationalization.
– Nationalization of what ?
– Of monopolies, and, further, of the means of production and distribution.
– And of exchange.
– They had pledged themselves to the nationalization of the means of production and distribution.
– Here is the Labour platform, and I ask the honorable senator to show a pled.ge to that effect.
– No; that pledge was omitted last time in deference to the feelingsof the people generally.
– The question is what we are pledged to.
– May I ask whether the pledges and principles of the Labour Party change with every convention ? Do they one day come forward as the advocates of the nationalization of monopolies, and then,- because there is a scare amongst the electors, throw that proposal overboard, and say they never meant to make it?
– I never denied that we are in favour of the nationalization of monopolies; but the honorable senator has said that we’ are pledged to the national- , ization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and I ask him to show me that pledge on the Labour platform.
– May I ask the honorable senator if there wasnot a time when one of the planks in the platform of the party was nationalization, such as I have indicated ?
– I say I never signed such a plank on becoming a member of this Parliament.
– I draw the attention of honorable senators to the qualification, and pass on. I say that there has been put forward a Labour platform, in which is included nationalization-
– Of monopolies.
– Of monopolies.
– But the honorable senator said: something more - that we were pledged to the nationalization of production, distribution, and exchange. I say that that is not so ; and I have handed the honorable senator the Labour platform, with a request that he will show me such a pledge.
.-Does Senator Pearce not believe in that nationalization ?
– We are now dealing with what we are pledged to.
– If the honorable senator objects to the statement that nationalization of production and distribution is one of the planks of the party-
– I do not object to that, but I do object to the honorable senator’s other statement.
– I am at a loss to understand the honorable senator. I will not refer to the Labour Party mentioned by Senator Pearce, but simply to the Socialist Party of Australia; and I ask whether that party, speaking through certain of its organizations,has not adopted a plank which provides for the nationalization of the means of production and distribution ?
– What does the honorable senator mean by the “ Socialist Party “ ? Does he mean the Labour Party?
– I mean the Labour Party in certain ofthe States.
– The Federal Labour Party has no such plank. <
– Probably the honorable senator is right - the Federal Labour Party is adroit. . But I shall take statements made by the honorable senator himself in order to show that before the Royal Commission was appointed, or a single witness examined, he was pledged to the hilt in favour of nationalization.
– I was a believer in nationalization.
– The honorable senator was something more than a believer ; he was an ardent advocate.
– Long before the Commission commenced its proceedings, the honorable senator assured the Senate that he had enough evidence to satisfy him that the tobacco monopoly existed, and that it ought to be nationalized .
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable senator agrees to that?
– But I was open to the conviction that there was no monopoly.
– I shall show from the statements I am about to quote what chance there was of so convincing the honorable senator. I desire to make it clear that I impute to the honorable senators I have mentioned only that unconscious bias to which all of us are liable. As an illustration, I should like to direct attention to the report of the Tariff Commission. That Commission was composed of an equal number of protectionists and free-traders ; and, on exactly the same evidence and facts, four protectionists came to one conclusion and four free-traders came to another. There is no reason to suppose that either of the two sets of gentlemen acted in any way except according to their conscientious opinions ; but the facts show how absolutely impossible it is for men with preconceived notions to occupy a judicial position and arrive at a judicial determination.
– Does the honorable senator say that, therefore, the findings of the Tariff Commission are valueless?
– I (am not saying anything about the findings of the Tariff Commission, but merely pointing out that in the minds of all of us there is an unconscious bias from which we cannot entirely free ourselves. I am sure that my protectionist friends will not dispute the statementthat there are absolutely honorable men in the ranks of the free-traders. But would my protectionist friends trust those free-traders to conduct an inquiry into Tariff matters? Would I, as a freetrader, trust the most honorable protectionist I know to conduct such an inquiry? Certainly not. The unconscious bias would be so strong that, whilst such men might honestly desire to give a mostjudicial decision, their judgment would be warped.
It is the same with all matters connected with race and religion. There is an unconscious bias which warps the judgment to such an extent as to render persons influenced by it ineligible to give a judicial decision. I lay stress on the fact that, whilst there were other members of the Commission, only four signed the report, and each one of them before he took up the work of the Commission was a pledged advocate of the nationalization of the industry. I say that the report loses all value from the fact that those who conducted the inquiry had previously made up their minds as to what they wanted, and believed that the nationalization of monopolies should be undertaken.
– One of the objects of the inquiry was to determine whether monopoly existed.
– I thank the honorable senator for the interjection. He says that the object of the inquiry was to determine whether a monopoly existed.
– That was part of our inquiry.
– I say that before it took place the honorable senator said that he had evidence that satisfied him that a monopoly did exist.
– I admit that I thought I had.
– The honorable senator said that he believed in the nationalization of monopolies, and that the inquiry was to ascertain whether a monopoly existed, and yet before the Commission was appointed he said that he had enough evidence to satisfy him that a monopoly did exist, and that the profit from the industry was enormous, and ought to go into the public Treasury. Then I ask what becomes of the judicial character of the inquiry conducted by the honorable senator?
– I do not see that that disqualified me from conducting the inquiry.
– The honorable senator does not see it, but I think that most other people would. I ask him whether he does not think that such an expression of opinion on my part would disqualify me from conducting such an inquiry ?
– Will the honorable senator read the evidence, and then say that I did notgive the other side an opportunity to prove that there was no monopoly ?
– I am afraid that I shall have to show that the honorable sena- tor’s attitude on that Commission illustrated very forcibly the bias of his mind, to which I am directing attention.
– Can the honorable senator show that I refused to call a single witness opposed to the view I held ?
– I can show that the honorable! senator put leading questions which indicated the bent of his mind.
– Can the honorable’ senator show that I did not give the other side the amplest opportunity to prove their case?
– The honorable senator could not shut out those witnesses, but I do not say that he desired to do so.
– I could have neglected to call them.
– It is the smallest measure of justice I can render the honorable senator to admit that witnesses had every opportunity to come forward ; but of what use was it for them to come forward ? Of what use was it for them to give evidence to a Commission, the members of which had made up their minds beforehand ?
– The evidence is now before the Senate.
– And I propose to deal with it, and to. show that, so far as the report of the Commission is concerned, it must be taken only for what it is worth, that is, as an expression of the opinion of four advocates of nationalization, who were in no sense, compelled to that conclusion by the evidence broughtbefore them, but who held that opinion before a single witness had been examined. Let me give honorable senators the history of this Commission. We had, first of all, a motion by Senator Pearce, to this effect: -
That in the opinion of the Senate it is advisable that the manufacture of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes should be a national monopoly.
The honorable senator brought that forward, no doubt believing that everything he said expressed his honest and open conviction. But I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that even at that early stage he expressed the view that the tobacco business was a monopoly, and that it ought to be nationalized. I do not propose to quote from his speech on that motion,, because the honorable senator’s attitude on the subject is well known, and he had often contended that the tobacco industry in Australia formed a monopoly, and should be nationalized.
– I admitted that I was going only upon secondary evidence.
– The second motion submitted bv the honorable senator was in a slightly altered form, and was as follows : -
That in the opinion of the Senate, in order to provide the necessary money for the payment of Old-Age Pensions and for other purposes, the Commonwealth should undertake the manufacture and sale of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.
Speaking to that motion, Senator Pearce said -
I amsatisfied with the proof that a monopoly exists, and with the proof that a profit can be derived from carrying on the business. What I ask is that we should say by adopting my motion that it is advisable for the Commonwealth to take over this monopoly.
There is a directness of statement which admits of no doubt as to what was in the honorable senator’s mind, and it confirms what I have said, that before the Commission commenced their work the honorable senator and his colleagues were in favour of nationalization generally, and were agreed that the nationalization of the tobacco industry would make an excellent beginning. Senator Fearce, in dealing with the matter, said -
This would be a very goodand profitable commencement to make. . . The revenue which is being raised byit, and the enormous profits which are now Going into the pockets of foreign shareholders, . shall go into the Treasury of Australia. ,
That justifies my statement that the honorable senators who signed the report of the Tobacco Commission are open to the charge that their report is not based on the evidence.
– That is not a fair charge to make.
– I am not saying that it is in conflict with the evidence.
– The honorable senator says that it is not based on the evidence.
– I have not come to that yet, but I think I can show that the report of these four honorable senators is a report based on their previously held opinions, and not on the evidence presented to them.
– Not merely on the evidence presented to them.
– I accept Senator Trenwith’s correction.
– Every paragraph in the report is based on the evidence submitted.
– But my’ honorable friend picked out the evidence which supported the views held by himself and his brother Commissioners who agreed with him. Might I ask whether I am correct in statingthat during the time the work of the Commission was in progress, and before it h!ad completed its labours, Senator Pearce was the author of a signed article in the Sydney W or ker dealing with the subject ?
– I was.
– While the work of the Commission was. in progress, and when its labours had not been more than half completed, Senator Pearce wrote a most stringent article, which was published in the Sydney Worker, and in which he dealt with this question. It showed that there was no doubt in his mind then as to what ought to be done any more than there was when he addressed the Senate twelve months ago, because the article was an absolute affirmation of nationalization, and that nationalization of the tobacco business was desirable. So far as the report is concerned it is clearly entitled to no more weight than if the four honorable senators who have signed it had had it written without examining a single witness, because long before the Commission was appointed thev were all pledged advocates of nationalization.
– According to that argument, Senator Gray’s minority report is equally valueless, because he had previously expressed himself as being against nationalization.
– I admit at once that the reports of all these Commissions, composed of men engaged in the active strife of politics, are weakened and rendered almost valueless because of the preconceived ideas with which the inquiries are undertaken. Will any honorable senator accept the reports presented by the Tariff Commission as affording anything more than information ? They certainly cannot be taken as judicial findings. To that extent the appointment of these parliamentary Commissions leads to much waste of public money. As Senator Pearce has made a reference to electioneering purposes, I admit at once that it might be extremely useful in the conduct of a political propaganda for a man to be able to go upon a platform with an ominous-looking volume, and say, “A Commission inquired and it finds soandso “ ; while he says nothing as to how the Commission was composed.
– We shall not say that. We shall say, ‘ ‘ Mr. Jacobs, of the Tobacco Trust, says so-and-so.”
– I only hope that if the honorable senator does that he will correctly quote Mr. Jacobs.
– I have done so in every instance.
– I propose to refer to some of the quotations the honorable senator has made.
– I defy the honorable senator to show that I have not done so.
– I take it upon myself, and the duty is no pleasure to me, to show that quotations made have ‘been torn from their context in such a way as to make the evidence quoted appear to be something quite different from what the witness intended. Senator Pearce, throughout his speech, led the Senate to believe that every statement he was making was based on evidence given before the Commission. I safeguard myself again by saying that I am not impugning the honorable senator’s good faith in any way. My contention simply is that he allowed his strong desire for the nationalization of the industry to warp his judgment, and I saythat in the extracts which he gave to the Senate he read into the evidence matter which is not there, he misread some of the evidence, and he selected some portions
And suppressed others.
– I could not read the whole of the evidence.
– The Senate will recognise that in the selection of some evidence and the suppression of other evidence bearing on the same point the honorable senator was consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, misleading the Senate. I. say further that what Senator Pearce has done is this: He based his speech on evidence given by witnesses who f avoured his views, and where witnesses gave contrary evidence which he could not controvert, he immediately impugned their bona fides. Having made these statements, I propose to direct the attention of honorable senators to the quotations given by Senator Pearce, and the evidence appearing in the minutes attached to the report of the Commission.- I do not say that “the honorable senator did these things out of malice or wilfully, but there is evidence that the bias of his mind was such as to lead an honorable senator, usually fair and courteous in his treatment of others, to fall into grievous error. I have said that the honorable senator impugned the good faith of witnesses whose evidence did npt support his view.
– Is the honorable sena-. tor going to prove the statements he has made?
– I propose to do so, and I take the last first. I do not ‘think that when I have finished my honorable friend will have any cause to complain ; that I have not supplied the Senate with’ abundant material, and with abundant justification for the statements I have made. I have charged the honorable senator that where witnesses differed from his views, and there appeared to be no possibility of getting away from their evidence, he impugned their veracity, their motives, or something else. I take the case of his reference to Mr. Davis, a representative of a tobacco company. Senator Pearce’s reference to this witness will be found at page 3265 of Hansard, and I read from the official report so that there may be no mistake about it. He said -
Mr. Davis is not to be regarded, either, as one who is opposed to the combine. His expressions of opinion were friendly to it - so much so, indeed, that I had suspicions as to whether he was not connected with it in some way.
To that statement I interjected -
Is his firm one of the associated firms?
And Senator Pearce replied -
So far as we were able to ascertain, he was not connected with the combine, although he was engaged in the same business.
This was a witness whose evidence directly contradicted that on which ‘ Senator Pearce relied.
-^- What did it contradict? I was saying that I based my estimate of the, cost of manufacture upon his evidence.
– My point is that Senator Pearce, in his Speech where, the evidence did not suit the opinions which he held - -
– When did I base my report on that?
– ;The existence of another firm outside the combine did not suit Senator Pearce, and he immediately attempted to show that in some way, which he could not define, this Mr. Davis was tobe suspected. ,
– Why should I want to discredit him when, on page 14 of the report, I base my calculations on his statement? Answer that question.
– Here was proof of the existence of manufacturers outside the combine. When this manufacturer came forward as a witness, and his evidence was not agreeable to the honorable senator-
– It was agreeable to me.
– It was not agreeable to have a witness coming forward and saying, “ I am outside the combine ; I am an independent manufacturer.”
– I did not object to that in the slightest degree. I regarded him as a valuable witness. -
– There is a sort of discredit attaching to the honorable senator when he would seek to cast an imputation upon a witness upon whom he relied.
– I did not cast any imputation upon him.
– The honorable senator said that he had a suspicion as to whether Mr. Davis was connected with the combine. What right had he to entertain such an opinion regarding a witness who gave his evidence fairly and openly? Mr. Davis swore that he was not connected with the combine; and yet, because Mr. Davis gave some evidence favorable to the combine, and, therefore, unfavorable to Senator Pearce, the honorable senator suspected him of perjury.
– I did not suspect him of perjury.
– How could the honorable senator suspect him of anything else, when the witness swore that he was not connected with the combine, and Senator Pearce suspected that he was?
– Could I not suspect him of withholding some information?
– I do not want to have this jesuitical way of playing with words. Because the witness swore that he was not connected with the combine, Senator Pearce immediately suspected that he was. If he was connected with it, and he swore that he was not, the witness was committing perjury. Was that the judicial frame of mind which should characterize any one intrusted ‘ with the task of conducting an inquiry of this kind ?
– Senator Pearce accepted the evidence of a man whom he suspected of perjury.
– When Senator Pearce did not like the fact that a witness should come forward, independently of the combine, and yet give evidence favorable to it, he said “ I suspect him.”
– What did I suspect him of?
– The honorable senator has said that he suspected that the witness was connected with the combine in some way.
SenatorPearce. - That suspicion led me to ask him if he was connected with the combine, and he said that he was not. What is more, he produced his roll of shareholders to prove it. Then I had to accept his evidence.
– The position is, then - ‘ ‘ First of all I suspected him ; then I asked whether he was a member of the combine; and, so far as I could find out, he was not.” I am now going to leave that case to honorable senators. I am satisfied that if put before any impartial man, it would justify my statement that Senator Pearce, finding a witness not agreeable to him, went out of his way to impure to him motives - or, indeed, an absolute crime.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I come to the next case that I am going to give in justification of the statement I have made that the honorable senator, unable to upset the evidence of certain of the witnesses, impugned them. On page 3268 of Hansard Senator Pearce is reported as having said -
The only retailers whom I could induce to give evidence were those in a large way of business - practically wholesalers - who spoke in the most flattering terms of the combine, and perhaps got their reward in better terms in the future.
I wish to ask - what justification has any man, placed in a judicial position, to make imputations of that kind against men who gave evidence on oath?
– Numberless small retailers told me that they would like to give evidence, but that they would be ruined if they did.
-The honorable senator said in his speech -
Scores of retailers told me of the exactions of the combine, but when I invited them to give evidence they said they did not want to be “ thrown into the streets.”
So that we have this honorable senator telling Parliament that he actually ignored the sworn evidence of witnesses and paid attention to the tittle-tattle poured into his ears at street corners.
– I gave the reasons why we could not get the small retailers to give evidence, but I based no statements in the report on that
– I put the two things together - that the only retailers the honorable senator could get to give evidence spoke so kindly of the combine that Senator Pearce said : “ No doubt they will get their reward in the form of better terms in the future” - an allegation that the witnesses were perjuring themselves in some degree in the hope or pecuniary reward ; and’ that this honorable senator, occupying a position which ought to have induced him to exercise a judicial mind, On, his own showing, has brought in a report based not on the evidence brought before the Commission, but on the tittle-tattle which retailers poured into his ears, and whose statements he accepted, though they would not give evidence.
– I challenge the honorable senator to instance one paragraph in the report which is based upon what he calls tittle-tattle. That is a fair challenge.
– I am not sure what the report is based on, but I can show that there are statements in it which are based upon no evidence whatever.
– Let the honorable senator point out statements which are based upon the evidence of retailers who did not give evidence.
– I can show that there are statements supposed to be based upon evidence, but there is not a tittle of evidence to support them. And if there is no sworn evidence to support statements in the report, I am justified in saying that the report is based either upon the previouslyheld opinions of the honorable senator or upon tales whispered into his ears by his “ scores of retailers.” Senator Pearce. - Let the honorable senator quote a statement about ,the retail trade from the report.
– I am going to show that there are statements in it to support which there is not a single word in the printed evidence.
– What are the statements ?
– I will come to them directly. My first point was that the honorable senator, where there were witnesses who were not tasteful to him, impugned them. I have given instances of that.
– Why were not some of these small retailers called, and compelled to give evidence?
– Because I did not want to ruin them.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will show that he had evidence to prove that there was a possibility of that happening.
– If men who gave evidence did so in the expectation of better terms from the combine, would that not be corrupt?
– I should suggest that it would be; and, seeing that Senator Pearce took an active part in bringing before the Senate a case in which he said that intimidation had been exercised towards an employ^ of the combine because of evidence given before the Commission, why does he not ask the Government of the day to make inquiries into this alleged corruption ? Because that is what it amounts to - that these men gave evidence corruptly.
– It would be a big contract.
– Does the size of the contract deter the honorable senator?
– It does, I admit.
– Before an honorable senator makes a statement of the kind I ha.ve read, imputing corrupt intentions to witnesses, he should. I contend, be prepared to show that his statements are correct. No one has a right to use his position as a senator, or as chairman of a Royal Commission, to give currency to mere scandals.
– I did not impute corruption.
– I do not know what it was, then. Now I come to the next point with which I wish to deal. I ha.ve indicated four statements in which, it appeared to me Senator Pearce had sought to mislead the Senate. The first I dealt with was his action in impugning witnesses. The one which I now propose to take is my allegation that he has read into the evidence matter which is not there. And by “ matter ‘ ‘ let me say that I do not necessarily mean words, but that in his presentation of the case before the Senate the honorable senator has given to the evidence a shade of colouring that is not in the evidence itself.
– That is what the Age did with George Reid.
– Probably the honorable senator would commend it in that case. In this case I am condemning such conduct. I come to the statement regarding payments to growers. On page 3264 of Hansard Senator Pearce is reported as having said -
The price of tobacco in European countries and in America is greater than it is in Australia, and the cost of manufacture in Australia, while it is higher than in the other countries I have named, is not so much higher as to account for the difference in the retail price. Therefore, the proportion of profit derived from the tobacco industry in Australia is greater than it is in the other countries mentioned.
– The honorable senator knows the price paid for leaf in those countries?
– Yes, and I know the price paid for leaf in Australia also.
– France pays as high a price as do other countries. She buys in the best markets of the world.
– I will stand by my statement.
– I am glad that the honorable senator does. It has been rather difficult this afternoon to get any one to stand by statements made on this subject. The quotation which I have made affirms that the ‘price of tobacco in European countries and in America is greater than it is in Australia.
– That is a mistake. I freely admit that that is not so.
– If the honorable senator admits that, part of what I had intended to say need net be said.
– I clearly show lower down that it is a mistake. I show that the price in European countries and America is less.
– The honorable senator now admits that the price of tobacco in European countries and America is not greater than in Australia. But that dees not altogether dispose of the deductions which the honorable senator drew from the facts. The quotation which I have given also points out that whilst the wages in Australia are higher, the difference between wages here and elsewhere is not so great as to account for the difference in the selling price of the manufactured article.
– That clearly shows that I recognised that the price in European countries was lower.
– Then we have Senator Findley’s interjection that France pays as high a1 price as do other countries. I need not deal with that statement, because Senator Pearce has proved that it is wrong.
– The honorable senator is dealing with two different things. Under dealing with the price of tobacco, whereas Senator Findley is dealing with the price of leaf.
– To simplify matters, let me say that the price referred to in the quotation by Senator Pearce disappears from my argument, as he has admitted that it is a mistake. He says that, while there is a difference in wages, it is not so great as to account for the higher price prevailing in Australia for tobacco than elsewhere. But now we have Senator Findley’s statement that France pays as high a price for its tobacco as do other countries, and he adds that she buys in the best market in the world. I propose to .show how far the selected evidence fairly portrays the evidence which was given to the Commission, and is a fair summary of the facts on which its report was founded.
– Is the honorable senator going to prove that the. interjection I made is incorrect ? That is not the way to do so. I shall prove its accuracy by quoting the Tobacco Journal.
– I am dealing with the report of the Royal Commission, which has nothing to do with the Tobacco Journal.
– It is the interjection, and not the report of the Commission, which the honorable senator is advancing against me.
– All right. With one or two exceptions, to which I shall draw attention, no statement which I am about to make concerning the facts of the case will have any other foundation than the evidence given before the Commission. I shall not go beyond its report except in one or two cases, when I shall state at once the authority upon which I rely. In the meantime, I intend to rely absolutely on the report. The only evidence given on which the Commission ought to have entered up a finding, and which I am going to bring under the notice of the Senate. f was the evidence of Mr. Jacobs in reference to the price paid in the Regie countries.
– But the Commission never said that the price in Australia was lower than in foreign countries. It merely said that the price has been lower in Australia since the formation of the combine.
– I shall come to that point directly.
– The honorable senator is dealing now with the interjection of Senator Findley, and not with the report of the Commission.
– No; I am dealing with the statement of Senator Pearce that, if there is a difference in wages, it is not great enough to account for the difference in the selling price. Although, of course, I do not quote it now in contradiction of the statement which he has admitted is a mistake, still, for the purpose of my argument, I want to quote the actual prices which are paid in the Regie countries and in Australia.
– Who is the honorable senator’s authority ?
– The Commission.
– Whose evidence ?
– That does not mat-,, ter.
– It matters a great deal to me.
– There are several witnesses who gave evidence on the other side.
– I refrained from giving the references to the evidence, as I did not wish to trespass unduly upon the attention of the Senate, but I shall give them now.
The only evidence as to the prices paid in Regie countries and Australia for tobacco leaf was given : -
As regards France and Austria, by Mr. L. P. Jacobs, based upon the Reports for 1902 of the Regie in these countries, the correctness of the translation being certified to by the respective Consuls of these countries in Melbourne -
As to foreign tobacco, France, see p. 277.
As to French tobacco, France, see p. 277.
As to Algerian tobacco, France, see p. 277.
As to foreign leaf, Austria, see p. 276.
As to Austrian leaf, Austria, see p. 276.
By Wm. Cameron, as to proportions of the local and foreign tobacco used in France and the Commonwealth, on p. 249. - Q. 5388.
For Austria these are deduced from evidence on p. 276.
As to the price paid by Australian tobacco manufacturers, evidence was given by Mr. L. P. Jacobs and Wm. Cameron : -
On imported leaf.- Qs. 723 and 5388.
On locally grown leaf. - Qs. 801 and 5388.
The prices given are the average prices paid in France for 1902 ; in Austria for 1901 ; in Australia for 1904.
– Why didnot the honorable senator quote the evidence of Mr.
Ferguson, the Inspector of Excise, on the point as to the price of leaf and the price of tobacco in those countries?
– As to the price paid for raw material ?
– I wish the honorable . senator would direct my attention to his evidence.
– The point is that the honorable senator has chosen witnesses all from one side.
– If the honorable senator will wait he will see that the table which I have taken is that on which he has relied.
– I quoted from all the witnesses, including Mr. Ferguson.
– Whether the honorable senator quarrels with the figures or not, he will see that they show that the average price per lb. paid for local leaf in France was 5½d., in Austria 2½d., and in Australia 10 4-5d., or, roughly, 50 per cent, more than is paid in. France.
– Is the table from which these figures are quoted contained in the report of the Commission ?
– The honorable senator is picking the eyes out of the report.
– That is my complaint against SenatorPearce. ‘ These figures are contained in the report, and are, I believe, those on which he has relied.
– I believe I quoted figures given by Mr. Ferguson.
– It is difficult for me to lay my hands on the page at a moment’s notice, but I have copiedthem from the table in the report.
– It is equally difficult for me to follow them.
– From his familiar knowledge of the matter, the honorable senator will know whether the figures are correct or not.
– Iknow that the last official return in regard to the tobacco monopoly in France is dated 1902, so that the official figures in regard to the price paid in France are not of much value so far as Mr. Jacobs is concerned.
– I wish to quote the price paid in France in 1902.
– That is a long time ago.
– What else can I do except take the last official report? The figures given for Austria are for 1901, while the figures for Australia are of more recent date. Senator Findley says that the figures are of no value ; but Senator Pearce did not take that attitude, because he quoted the last official figures as to the revenue. The average price per lb. paid for imported leaf is - in France, 5 9-10d. ; in Austria,11d. ; and in Australia,10½d. ; so that, although, as Senator Findley says, France may buy in the best market in the world, she does not buy the best material there, or she would not be able to get for 5 9-iod. the same quality of leaf as Australia pays10½d. for.
– On page 4, according to Mr. Ferguson, the cost of material and labour together is - in France. 9.3d. ; in Austria, 9-7d. ; and in Italy10.8d. ; but he does not give the figures for Australia.
– It seems to me idle to contend, , as Senator Findley does, that, buying in the same market, France gets for 59-10d. as good an article as Australia gets for10½d.
– France has an advantage in that she does not recognise any middleman in the purchase of the leaf.
– Is the combine so simple as to allow its profit to be taken away by a middleman? The very purpose of a combine is to shut out the middleman. I would sooner have the profits which the combine will make out of their purchase than those which the French Government would make. The percentage of foreign leaf used in France is 40.89, in Austria, 38.61, and in Australia 55.86. The percentage of local leaf used in France is 58.83, in Austria 61.25, and in Australia 19. 81. The percentage of imported manufactured tobacco used in France is only . 28, in Austria 0.14, and in Australia 23.45. These figures seem to me to show that Australia is getting tobacco of a better quality than that supplied by the French Government. That I put forward in disposal of Senator Findley’s interjection. I want now to show what effect the higher prices have, because Senator Pearce has affirmed that the difference in wages is not sufficiently great to account for the difference in the selling price. If honorable senators will turn to the table on page 275 thev will find thatin France the wages per hour are 3.1d., in Austria1.8d., and in Australia 6.8d. In other words, the Commonwealth is paying a little over twice as much as France, and about five and a half times as much as Austria.
– That is the statement of Mr. Jacobs.
– Where did Mr. Jacobs get the statement from ?
– From the official document.
– I take that as an instance of the misrepresentations I charge against the honorable senator. He told us that this was the statement of Mr. Jacobs, but he well knew that it was taken from an official document, the translation of which was certified to by the Consul. The statement that it was Mr. Jacobs’ evidence was, if not intentionally, certainly in effect misleading.
– I rise to a point of order, as the honorable senator is endeavouring to misrepresent me. What Isay is that the statement which Mr. Jacobs read to the Commission was the statement of the Consul for France.
– There is no point of order. If an honorable senator is misrepresented, he may call attention to the fact, and correct the statement made.
– The evidence which Senator Pearce referred to as that of Mr. Jacobs was, it appears, a translation of an official document. I say. at once that I do not think the honorable senator intentionally meant to mislead the Senate ; but a statement of the kind must have that effect.
– Do you think that a statement like the following would appear in a Consular report?
As this contains a mass of figures which no one can follow intelligently when it is read out, I trust it will be admitted as evidence without my doing so.
– The figures I have given are taken from the report, and my point is that we have no more right to call them the evidence of Mr. Jacobs than we would have the right to describe as evidence any statement taken from Mulhall or any other recognised authority. The figures show that the wages paid in Australia are double those in France, and that the cost price of leaf and imported manufactured tobacco is three times higher here, equalling nearly11d. per lb.
– I have averaged the wages given there, and I find that they are entirely erroneous - that the figures on which they are based do not bear out the conclusion.
– I cannot pretend to have gone through this table, but I take it as a correct translation.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Consul would analyze the figures, and make a comparison as between Australia and France? It is Mr. jacobs’ comparison, and not that of the French Consul.
– Senator Pearce may impugn the statement if he likes.
– I have analyzed it, and found it to be wrong.
– When did the honorable senator do that ?
– When preparing the report ; and I found that the average did not work out correctly.
– It is curious that the honorable senator did not draw attention to that fact, either in the report or when he was addressing the Senate.
– The honorable senator would have said that I was biased.
– It was the duty of the honorable senator to call attention to the fact.
– That is the reason I would not accept the witness’s evidence, as to wages.
– The honorable senator says that the statement as to wages is wrong: but I shall show that the figures are correct. I undertake to say that the statement I have read, showing that the wages in Australia are double those in France, is correct. I also undertake to show that the cost price of leaf and imported manufactured tobacco in Australia is three times as high as in France, and that nearly ltd. per lb. more is paid here, while the selling price out here is only ] S. 4½d. per lb. more. If we are paying j.rd. ps-r lb. more for material, and the wages are 100 per cent, higher, is it not reasonable to suppose that the selling price of the article should be 5jd. more? I propose to leave the comparison as to Austria and other places out of consideration. Senator Pearce has been careful, in referring to the revenue results, to take admittedly the best example, namely, France. In Austria: the State gets only is. 4d. per lb. for the tobacco manufactured and sold in the country ; and this particular instance shows so little advantage that I can quite understand Senator Pearce omitting to press it as an example. I dismiss the point with the remark that Austria is such a miserable and insufficient example that it cannot be accepted as a fair comparison with Australia ; and all that the facts prove is that a State monopoly is not necessarily beneficial to those employed, or productive of revenue. I now desire to pass on to another statement made by Senator Pearce, who denied the inferiority of French tobacco.
– Hear, hear !
– I take it that Senator Pearce stands by the statement that there is no inferiority in French tobacco. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the opinion of Senator Pearce is supposed to be based upon the evidence given before the Commission, and the honorable senator’s actual words were, as reported in Hansard -
The charge is sometimes made that under a State monopoly an inferior quality of tobacco would be supplied. Now, the people of France, whatever may be their faults, cannot be accused of lacking the organ of taste, because they are supposed to possess the finest palate of any people in the world. After ail, the quality of tobacco i’s entirely a question of taste.
In the first portion of the Quotation, Senator Pearce denied the inferiority of the French tobacco, but later on he said -
To a Frenchman French tobacco is the best in the world.
– He cannot get any other.
– That old idea has been thoroughly exploded. A Frenchman can get any tobacco he wants, because he is allowed to import it ; in fact, the Government will import it for him if. he likes. There are importers of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes into France, but the imported tobacco cannot be sold in competition with French tobacco, simply because -
I draw attention to the words - the Frenchman has been used to the local tobacco, and, in fact, prefers it.
That is the verdict of Senator Pearce after listening to the evidence I am about to quote. The first point I make is that the price paid in France shows the inferiority of a State-manufactured tobacco; and now I turn to other evidence on the point. In passing, I may say that Senator Pearce’s two explanations seem somewhat contradictory. The honorable senator first of all affirmed that the French tobacco is not inferior, and then practically said that it does not matter if it is . inferior - after one gets used to it. If the latter means anything, it is an admission that the French tobacco is inferior, but that the people have been so long familiar with it, that the inferiority does not matter. I propose to inquire whether the French tobacco is, or is not, inferior, and the first thing I find on going through the evidence is an extract from the report of the Tobacco Commission appointed by the German Government to inquire, as was the case in Australia, as to the possibility or desirability of nationalizing the industry.
– Is the report of that Commission in the evidence
– It is on page 285 of the evidence.
– Then I would draw attention to a letter from Mr. Woodward, to whom the documents were submitted for interpretation, and who informed us that the report was not contained in the documents submitted bv Mr. Jacobs.
– May I ask whether that fact was ever disclosed to Mr. Jacobs ?
– Yes; I think a letter was -sent to Mr. Jacobs.
– So far as I can follow the evidence, Mr. Jacobs certainly put the report in, or thought he did; and, if by some inadvertence on the part of any official of the Commission, it was not included, that is a matter of which I have no knowledge.
– The honorable senator misunderstands me. Mr. Jacobs offered to let the Commission have the two volumes which he said contained the report of the German Commission. Mr. Jacobs said he could not read German, but that the report was in the two volumes. Mr. Woodward, who was acting as reporter, was instructed to peruse the volume, anc! he, in a letter which is given on the last page of the report of the Commission, informed us that the volume did not contain any such report, but did contain a copy of a Bill to be submitted to the German Parliament for the taking over of the industry, and the reasons for the action.
– All I can say is that whether the document was, or was not, included, I find it on page 284 of the evidence, and it is described as extracts from the German Tobacco Commission report of 1878 on the State Tobacco Monopoly, and other data bearing on the question.
– That is Mr. Jacobs’ evidence.
– It is immaterial to me whether the document was properly put in or not ; all I say is that it is included in the evidence and report presented by the Commission. It does not appear to be quite correct, nor indeed relevant, to say that the document was not properly put in evidence. Surely Senator Pearce is not going to impugn a portion of the document presented by the Commission.
– What I say is “that Mr. Jacobs gave it as an extract from the German Commission’s report, but the volumes which he presented did not contain the report to which, he referred.
– Is it not referred to by the Commission as the report of the German Commission ?
– Not in the report of the Tobacco Commission.
– It is a remarkable state of affairs when, on turning to a document presented to the Commission, I am met with the statement that the portion to which I desire to refer must not be regarded as being in the report. If those who conducted the inquiry did their duty, the document should have been properly put in evidence.
– It is part of the evidence on which the Commission’s report was founded.
– I presume so.
– I am not disputing that, but only drawing attention to the fact that the two volumes handed in by Mr. Jacobs did not contain the report to which he referred.
– However, as to the quality of the French tobacco, the report of the German Commission contained the following : -
It is generally admitted that the quality of French pipe tobacco is inferior. The reasons for this, as specially stated by Dr. Kruekl in the Austrian official report on the Paris Exhibition of 1867, and admitted by all experts, is to be found mainly in defective manufacturing processes - the raw material is excessively wetted and roasted. In spite of wholesale complaints, however, no change has so far been made in a single factory throughout Fiance. All progress in the manufacture of tobacco has thus been originated in countries where it is free, specially in Germany, Belgium, and Holland. Leading officials of tobacco Regies admit that the large private factories of Germany are up to date. These establishments are furnished with the latest machinery and appliances, many of which are not to be found in Regie factories.” Regie countries seek to obtain knowledge of progress in tobacco manufacture, bv sending officers to inspect the factories of those free countries, and by engaging workmen who have been trained there. France has even been obliged to transfer to private factories the manufacture of certain specialties in cigars.
Here is a further quotation from the same report : -
The enquiries of the French Committees of 1835 and ‘8/2 -
I draw attention to the wide difference in the dates, which shows that, although thirty-seven years had elapsed, the conditions were quite similar - reveal the fact that there exists in France a contraband trade of such enormous dimensions that its official description sounds like fairy tales. With regard to frontier districts towards Belgium, the report of the Vicomte de Bourbon, of 1S75, states : -
The contraband trade has taken the place of the Regie. . . . lt is notorious that the great smuggling enterprises now supply from 50 per cent, to 70 per cent, of ‘the consumption. . . This smuggle has its capitalists, insurances, and undertakers, who direct the operations.
This smuggle has its capitalists, insurances, and undertakers, who direct the operations. It has its dogs, its vehicles, and armed bands, who transport great quantities of tobacco.’ “ AH this in spite of the fact that the number of Customs officers in these districts is enormous. In addition, there is the secret manufacture. For instance, the report states that one district, Allauch, having 2,000 inhabitants, has scarcely any other industry than that of the clandestine manufacture of tobacco. The loss of the Regie from these causes, and the sale at reduced prices of its own products in the districts affected, is estimated by the Regie to amount to 20 per cent, of its net revenue.”
The points I make upon that are these : That the French tobacco is so inferior that people will incur all the risk of smuggling, and that in order to. get any sale for it at all the practice of the Government is to sell the tobacco on’ the border district at a lower price than is charged for it throughout the country generally. There is one other extract which confirms that which I have just rea’d, and it will be found on page 285 of the minutes ‘ of evidence attached to the report - “ ‘ Tn the provinces bordering on Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland, the French Regie charges specially low rates for common tobaccos, as the only method by which smuggling can be minimized. For instance, the lowest quality made, “ Talbac de Cantine,” which is sold to retailers at 7.20 francs per kilo, all over France, is sold as low as 2.60 francs per kilo, in the districts immediately adjoining those countries.’ “
It appears to me that if the French tobacco were not merely superior but equal to that to be obtained elsewhere, there would be no necessity for the French Government to quote specially low prices for their border districts. There is another source of information which may be resorted to to show the inferiority of French tobacco. I find that the export of tobacco from France, a country of 40,000,000 of people, is 645,000 lbs., valued at ,£93,000. The export from Austria amounts to 451,000 lbs;, valued at £79,000; from Italy, 88,000 lbs., valued at £11,000. The export from Germany, under the stimulus of private enterprise, amounts to 55,615,000 lbs., or something like one hundred times the export from France. Holland is not a big country, but the manufacture of tobacco there is conducted by private enterprise, and the value of the export from that country is given at £1,175,917, as against an export valued at £93,000 from France. The Commonwealth, with its limited community of 4,000,000 of people, or one- tenth of the population of France, exports £40,000 worth of tobacco, or nearly half the value of the export from France. It is well to ask to what countries France exports tobacco. If French tobacco were equal to the other tobaccoes placed on the markets of the world, we might reasonably expect that her exports would correspond to some extent in volume with those of her neighbours, but I have shown that her exports are too insignificant- comparatively to be entitled to the term. A further explanation is that her exports are largely to her own Possessions, and that in the markets of the world French .tobacco is practically unknown.
– It is very bad. I could not smoke it when I was there.
– I know that nothing but the honorable senator’s grand constitution pulled him through any effort he ever made to smoke it.
– It- all depends on the price you pay for it.
– Most people who visit France take the tobacco they require with them. >
– Let me put these export figures in another way. The total production of France is 83,000,000 lbs., and of that she exports 645,000 lbs., or 7 - roughly, three-quarters of i- per cent. - of the quantity manufactured. Australia exports over 6 per cent, of her production. I present these figures for the consideration of my honorable friends.
– Are they official?
– The figures with respect to French production are taken from the Tobacco Commission’s report, and the other figures are supplied by the Statistician’s Office in Sydney. There is one extract which I wish to give from the official report of the French Regie for 1902. It will be found at page 386 of the Commission’s report -
The average wholesale price realized, according to the official report, of the French Regie for 1902 is -
The people living in France proper are thus taxed very much higher than those in Algeria and Corsica.
Why ? Because the Regie does not apply there. It is not a monopoly in those countries, although they are French Possessions. In order to get their inferior tobacco into consumption in those places, they have absolutely to sell it at a lower’ price than they charge for it in France.
– Has the honorable senator noticed the significant fact that the French Commission of Inquiry of 1875 referred to the prices in 1902? How were they able to prophesy.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken. The document from which I have quoted is the official report of the Regie for 1902, and an opinion which found expression in the previous report of 1875 is re-embodied in the report of 1902.
– The honorable senator will find this in the evidence -
On the same subject this Commission further reports (principal report, page ,117) -
The French Commission of Inquiry of 1875 made careful inquiry into the quality of the tobacco furnished by the French Regie.
I should like to add that this is part of Mr. Jacobs’ evidence.
– The particulars I am giving now are from the last official report of 1902, a report which was before the Tariff Commission. Does Senator Pearce deny that there is in that report evidence that the price at which French tobacco was sold in Corsica and Algeria was less than that at which iti is sold in France itself?
– I do not deny that.
– It is another case of dumping.
– And the unfortunate Algerians have not the benefit of some of Senator Playford’s legislation on that subject. I find that on page 286 of the Tobacco Commission’s report, that the French Commission’s report was taken notice of by the German Commission, who made an extract from it. I quote the extract from the French report, which is given in the report of the German Commission -
It will be seen that complaints hold a larger place than approvals.
The French Commission had been appointed to inquire into the whole business, which apparently in the minds of a good many people, and certainly of the Government of the day, was in an unsatisfactory condition, and” the Commission found that complaints held a larger place than approvals. On that the German Commission add-
This is the judgment of the Regie manufacturers rendered in the best Regie country itself.
I have nothing to add to that. There is evidence from the finding of the French Commissioners, and the confirmation of the German Commission that French tobacco was. and is, inferior, and it was necessary to sell it in border districts at a lower price than in the country generally. It was necessary also to sell it in Corsica and Algeria at a lower price than in France. I have shown that the French export of tobacco, even as compared with that of Australia, is so small as to .show at once that the contention that French tobaccoes are equal to other tobaccoes sold in the markets of the world, is without any foundation. I come now to another statement made by Senator Pearce. The honorable senator said -
A Frenchman can get any tobacco he wants, because he is allowed to import it : in fact, the Government will import it for him if’ he likes. There are importers of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes in France.
That was said’ in reply to an interjection I made. Having as a lad lived opposite to the coast of France, and having had frequent opportunities to visit that country, I knew something of the conditions under which the tobacco business was carried on, and I felt that that statement was absolutely incorrect.
– Mr. Ferguson said in his evidence -
Unmanufactured tobacco, cigars, &c, are practically prohibited. But those who can afford something better than the State factories can produce are permitted to import, for personal use only, a quantity up to 22 lbs. per annum, on payment of about 13s. per lb. Foreign made cigars are imported by the Regie to a limited extent.
– I ask whether even that statement justifies the honorable senator’s statement that a Frenchman can get any tobacco he wants, that in fact the Government will import it for him if he likes, and that there are importers of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes in France? I have here a certificate of the French ConsulGeneral in Sydney, dated 30th August, in which he says -
The following are the rates of duty at present in force in France : -
Leaf, for Regie, direct to a French port, francs (per 100 kilos.), free; via an European port, francs (per 100 kilos.), 6.00.
Leaf for private individuals, prohibited.
Manufactured cigars and cigarettes, for Regie, direct to a French port, francs (per 100 kilos.), free; via an European port, francs (per 100 kilos.),8.00.
Manufactured cigars and cigarettes, for personal use of importers, not more than 10 kilos., per head per annum, direct or otherwise, francs (per 100 kilos.) : -
the Regie does not permit the wholesale importation of any class of tobacco, cigars, or cigarettes, and trading in same.
I thus show -
It follows that (apart from smuggling) there are no importers of these goods in France.
For cigars and cigarettes, 3600 francs per 100 kilo., equal to 13s. 7¾d. per lb.
All smoking tobacco.
From Levant, 2500 francs per 100 kilo., equal to 9s.5¾d. per lb.
From other countries, 1500 francs per kilo., equal to 5s. 8¾d. per lb.
These duties largely exceed the Commonwealth duty, and are prohibitive.
It will then be seen that there is not the slightest justification for Senator Pearce’s statement that a Frenchman can get any tobacco he wants, that the Government will import it for him, or that he can import it for himself. It is idle to say that Frenchmen smoke French tobacco because he likes it, although he could get any other tobacco if he chose. The price at which he could get other tobacco is prohibitive, and he is thus compelled to use the local stuff or none at all.
– I have heard Frenchmen say that our Australian tobacco was rubbish.
– I, myself, have had too much experience down the English
Channel of the repute in which French tobacco is held to require any further proof. I have seen the Deal boatmen chase a homecoming ship for miles in the hope of getting a pound or two of tobacco from a tobaccogrowing country. I have never seen them attempt to smuggle French tobacco into England, though they had no compunction about chasing a vessel along the Downs in the hope that they might be able to get tobacco from other parts of the world from the officers or crew. I am surprised, in looking through the evidence of the Commission, to notice that no portion of it justifies the statement which Senator Pearce has made to the Senate that French tobacco is not inferior, and that a Frenchman can get any tobacco that he likes. There is nothing in the evidence, so far as I can see, to justify that statement. In fact, the evidence absolutely disproves it.
– Several witnesses, Mr. Carter amongst them, said that they were perfectly satisfied that the tobacco in France was satisfactory to the French people.
– Mr. Carter is a manufacturer in Melbourne, who gave evidence before the Commission, and who has written a pamphlet on the nationalization of the tobacco industry. But other witnesses told the Commission that they did not know that any French tobacco came here, that French tobacco was inferior, and that if any came out at all, it was in the form of a few cheap cigars for sale in public- houses. The honorable senator has referred me to one of the witnesses.
– There were several others.
– One of them is an avowed advocate of the nationalization of the industry. But should their evidence be allowed to weigh against the official evidence to which I have drawn attention? There is no denying the fact that France is exporting practically no tobacco, and that she has to sell under certain conditions at a lower price than that at which she supplies the bulk of her own people. Facts of this kind outweigh the evidence of a dozen Mr, Carters, whose prejudices on this subject would appear to bear comparison even with those of my honorable friend.
– Will the honorable senator say that he has no prejudices on this subject ?
– No; I will not. I have already said that it is idle to expect politicians who are actively engaged in the arena of party politics to be without bias. 1 admit frankly that I am just as unqualified to sit on a Commission to inquire into the question whether the tobacco business ought to be nationalized as Senator Pearce is. But that does not prevent me from saying that the evidence which he has presented is partial, that it is selected to favour a few, and that the statements he has made are not founded on the evidence itself.
– The honorable senator’s own statement is open to the same charge. He is relying solely on Mr. Jacobs’ evidence.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong. I am not relying upon that evidence, except to this extent - that it was the only evidence on these points put before the Commission.
– Oh, no.
– If there is any other evidence on the subject, I ask the honorable senator to produce it.
– There is Mr. Carter’s.
– I am going to deal with Mr. Carter later on. There is the unchallengable fact, however, that France is not exporting tobacco, and that she has to reduce the price of that which she sells at some places along the borders of her own territories.
– The honorable senator has been supplied with wrong informationon that point.
– Senator Findley mav dispute it if he can.
– I will dispute it when I have the chance.
– I am not pretending that I am presenting both sides to the Senate. What I say is that Senator Pearce only presented one, and that I am presenting the other in order that honorable senators may arrive at a fair judgment. I also complan that the report compiled by Senator Pearce was based upon one side of the evidence.
– He was only one member of the Commission.
– But some of the other members of it had made up their minds before they went on the Commission.
– That is hardly fair.
– They contended that nationalization was a good thing, and that the country ought to commence with this industry. If, instead of dealing with a big industry, and endeavouring to commit this country to a revolutionary proposal of this kind, the members of this Commission had been sworn on a jury to try a case involving a few pounds worth of property, would they have been willing to accept the position? Would they not have said, “ We ask to be excused because we have expressed such strong opinions that we do not feel qualified to try the case “ ?
– We did feel qualified to serve on this Commission, and the people will agree with us.
– But upon a question affecting a few pounds worth of private property, I venture to say that the honorable senator1 would have taken up quite a different attitude. Even if he were not challenged on the ground that he was prejudiced, he would ask the Judge to excuse him, as any right thinking mas would do under the circumstances. I come now to the statement of Senator Pearce that the tobacco combine has strenuously, continuously, and systematically made efforts to crush the growers. I am glad to hear the approving cheer of my honorable friends opposite, because it shows that I have not misunderstood Senator Pearce’s statements. In order that the Senate may fully recognise what he has said on the subject, I intend to quote a passage from his speech, pages 3267-8 of Hansard -
There was a time when Australia cultivated a fair acreage, and produced a large quantity of tobacco. The acreage and production reached their highest point in this country in1388, when 6,641 acres produced 7,868,112 lbs. of leaf. Since 1888 there has been a gradual drawing together of the factories, which have become fewer and fewer, until in the last three years we have seen the monopoly hy the tobacco combine.
.- Had the Excise nothing to do with the decrease of production?
– Had change of taste nothing to do with it?
– In 1903, in Australia, 1,323 acres produced 802,237 lbs. of leaf, a decrease of 5,419 acres and of 7,065,875 lbs. of leaf. I recommend these figures to our farmer friends as an example of what is happening in Italy and France under State Socialism, as compared with the position of the grower in Australia under private enterprise.
– I suppose the, honorable senator acknowledges that the quantity of tobacco produced was reduced very considerably before the combine came into existence?
– Certainly. I say that the reduction has been going on since 1888.
– Then the combine has nothing to do with it.
– The combine has a great deal to do with the reduction.
– What ! Before it came into existence ?
– The honorable senator does not seem to grasp the fact that since 1888 the factories have been becoming fewer, and that buyers have been disappearing and competition lessening, until, in 1900, the latter practically disappeared because there was only one buyer. Ever since 1888 there have been two movements in the tobacco trade of Australia - a gradual diminution of competition in the manufacture, and the elimination of the tobacco grower from amongst our farmers.
There is a statement which I may condense into a few words - that since 1888 there has been a gradual diminution of buyers, and that, corresponding with that reduction, there has been a decrease in the acreage cultivated for tobacco leaf. I should like to point out, before passing on to give the exact figures, that before October, 1901, each Colony of Australia was an absolutely independent country, and must, therefore, be regarded separately. It is not possible, in view of the different rates of Excise and the different Customs duties which prevailed in each of the Colonies, to regard the Commonwealth as a whole before that date. Although, therefore, I shall give the figures for the whole of Australia, I draw attention to the fact that they are likely to be misleading if honorable senators do not bear in mind what I have said. In South Australia, for instance, there was no Excise duty on tobacco, and the same rate of Customs duty was paid in that State whether the leaf came from New South Wales or from America - namely,1s. 7½d. per lb. The two dates which I wish honorable senators to carry in their minds are 1888 and 1900. Senator Pearce stated that since 1888 there had been a gradual diminution of factories, until in 1900 they were all rolled into one. The figures which I shall quote are taken from pages 11 and 14 of the Commission’s report, and were furnished by Mr. Ferguson, the Inspector of Excise in Victoria. The figures relating to the acreage under tobacco do not begin with 1888. The report to which I refer gives the figures from 1884. The acreage for that year for all Australia was 2.521. Senator Pearce, in order to show as big a reduction as possible, took the year 1888, when there were 6,641 acres under tobacco cultivation. The Senate will see at once that in those four years the acreage had increased nearly three times. Of course, it appears much more startling to take the highest figures and compare them with a year in which the figures are lower. I shall show, however, that Senator Pearce’s statement that the acreage has declined correspondingly with the diminution in the number of factories is absolutely without foundation. He stated that the diminution in cultivation was due to the closing of factories, but he furnished no evidence to the Senate,nor was any evidence on that subject given to the Commission.
-Yes; on page 7 - Mr. Ferguson’s evidence.
– Whilst there has been a diminution in the acreage and in the number; of factories, the two factors do not proceed side by side. We have had a diminution in factories - that is, in buyers - with an increase of acreage, and we have had the reverse position. There is no relation between the alleged causeand the alleged effect. First of all, I take the increase in New South Wales. Mr. Ferguson, in his report, in no case justifies the statement madeby Senator Pearce. He gives reasons for the reduction in the acreage, and I will quote them later on. The only evidence that I can find in the report to support Senator Pearce’s statement is that a number of small factories were closed in Victoria between 1880 and 1888.
– The period with which I dealt was from 1888 to 1900.
– I find no evidence on that aspect of the question.
– We had evidence from the growers that they found a decreasing number of buyers.
– Did the honorable senator ever take the trouble to find out what factories had disappeared? It was not difficult.
– Since 1903- the honorable senator will find that in the appendix.
– It is a curious thing that the time when the factories were decreasing was the very time when the acreage was increasing. Take the case of New South Wales. In 1888 there were 4,883 acres under cultivation. With not a single factory less, it gradually fell from 4,883 acres in 1888 to 716 acres in 1894. That statement can be verified by reference to the Customs officials, who, of course, have issued licences to tobacco manufacturers. From 1888 to 1894 there was a rapid fall in the area under cultivation, and yet not a single factory had disappeared or ceased operations. Then there was an improvement for a period of two years, until, in 1897, the acreage had risen to 2,181 acres, when a factory was burnt down, and not rebuilt. Following on, there was a reduction during the next three years, and that brings us down to 1900, the year when Senator Pearce says the competition was practically confined to one buyer by the amalgamation of the factories. Yet. from the very date which he selected the acreage under cultivation had steadily increased. In 1900 it was 199 acres, whereas in 1903 it was 407 acres. The very opposite result ought to have happened. If the theory of Senator Pearce be correct, then from 1888 to 1897, when the number of factories remained the same, the acreage under cultivation ought also to have remained the same; but, instead of that, it fell enormously. Then it commenced to rise, and again it fell, and the only time when it began to make a steady advance was when all the factories had been brought into one combination, and the buying was confined to one person. In Victoria we get am even more extraordinary state of affairs. In 1888 there were 1,685 acres under cultivation. There was a steady decrease down to 1898, when the acreage had fallen to 78 acres. With such a big drop in the acreage under cultivation one would naturally expect to see, according to the theory of Senator Pearce, a considerable diminution in the number of factories. But what happened in that time? In 1891 a small factory was closed, and in 1896 a small factory was started. Ifthe theory of Senator Pearce be a good one, it means that the fall from 1,685 to 78 acres in a decade was entirely due to the fact that for four years one of the smallest factories in Melbourne had temporarily ceased operations. But, as a matter ‘ of fact,” the diminution in the acreage took place before it was closed, and it continued after the other factory was started. Therefore, it is idle to try to make a general statement of that kind when the figures absolutely disprove it. Here, again, since 1900 - the yeast when there was only one. buyer - we find that the acreage has steadily increased. It has increased from 109 acres in 1900 to 129 acres in 1903. In Queensland the acreage has remained at a steady level during the last few years. It was 745 acres in 1899, 665 acres in 1 goo - the year of the alleged combination - and 686 acres in 1903. The only evidence I can find to show that a number of factories were closed anywhere is as to factories that were closed before the year which Senator Pearce selected. On page 3
Mr. Ferguson gives a table which shows that from 1879 to 1888 the acreage increased from 531 to 685 acres. Yet those are the years in which, according to Senator Pearce, al number of factories were closed. Since the Commission concluded its labours, the figures for another year are available, showing that within a year there has been an increase of from 752 to 809 acres in New South Wales, from 106 to 169 acres in Victoria, and from 784 to 1,100 acres in Queensland. According to the theory of Senator Pearce, since 1900, when the tobacco growers were reduced to one market, there ought to have been a still further diminution in the acreage under cultivation ; but it has been during the existence of the combination that there has been a steady progress. It was during the years when there was no diminution in the number of factories that the rapid decline took place. While I say that the theory advanced by Senator Pearce in no sense accounts for the decreased acreage, there was an abundant quantity of evidence submitted by independent witnesses to show the real trouble with tobacco growing. Expert evidence was given, as regards New South Wales, by Mr. W. S. Campbell, the Director of Agriculture, and, as regards Victoria, by Mr. Ferguson. Chief Inspector of Excise. Referring to the Excise duty imposed in 1884, Mr. Campbell says, in reply to question 3686 -
That is what knocked tobacco growing on the head in New South Wales, to my mind.
On page 8, Mr. Ferguson attributes the decline in the growth to the imposition of the Excise duty, and a change ira the public taste favoring American leaf.
– On page 4 he also says that the number of manufacturers has decreased.
– When the honorable senator makes that interjection he forces me tb read a lengthy extract.
– On page 8?
– That is exactly what I am saying. Relying on Mr. Ferguson’s evidence, the honorable senator affirmed that from 1888 downwards, there had been a gradual lessening of the number of factories, and a gradual diminution in the acreage under cultivation; but he now refers me to Mr. Ferguson’s evidence on page 7, in which I do not find a word about the year to which he referred -
Just before the passing of the Act in 1880 - that is, eight years before the honorable senator brings the figures under review - there were twelve fairly large tobacco and cigar factories in Melbourne, and a number of small manufacturers in Melbourne and country. Those who formerly made tobacco or cigars had now to cease manufacturing unless a licence was taken out.
The very years to which Mr. Ferguson referred are those in which there was an increase in the acreage under cultivation, but the years I am dealing with are those which were specially selected by Senator Pearce, that is from 1888 downwards. From 1888 to 1900 - with the exception of the disappearance of a factory here and the appearance of a factory elsewhere - there was practically going on a gradual fall in the acreage under cultivation, side by side with the same number of factories. It was after the combine had been completed, or, according to Senator Pearce, the factories had come together, in 1900, that the acreage commenced to improve again. In his evidence, Mr. Ferguson gives abundant reasons for the increase in the acreage. He inno sense affirms that the combine had anything to do with that result. He shows that the American Civil War was a contributing factor to the development of the tobacco industry. He points out that the social development of that country had a big effect in that direction, because in a scattered community, small farmers manufactured their own tobacco when they were free to do so, but later on, when an Excise duty was introduced, and the larger factories were started, the small manufacturers did not find it profitable to pay the licence fee, and therefore ceased to manufacture. He deals with a multiplicity of matters of that kind, to which I do not propose to refer, except to say that there is not a single word in them to justify the statement that the drawing together of the factories, if it did take place, had the slightest effect upon the acreage under cultivation. Mr. Ferguson clearly affirms that the Excise duty was a big factor in that direction. In dealing with the evidence of the alleged combine on the local leaf, I am brought to the allegation made by Senator Pearce of unfair treatment against the growers with regard to the Tumut Prize Competition.
– Why did not the honorable senator quote the following evidence by Mr. Ferguson on page 9 : -
Since the duty was imposed in 1880, those factories then in existence have died out except two? - Yes.
– Why did not the honorable senator go on quoting? There is not a word in the evidence of Mr. Ferguson to justify his contention that the number of factories decreased as the acreage fell.
– From twelve to two.
– The honorable senator forces me to quote again from the evidence of this witness -
Since the duty was imposed in 1880 those factories then in existence have died out except two ? - Yes.
Why did not the honorable senator quote the figures: for 1880 instead of those for 1888?
– Why does the honorable senator take Mr. Ferguson as against the tobacco-growers?
– Because I was referred to Mr. Ferguson. No amount of argument can get away from the fact that there is not a single word in his evidence which justifies the statement of Senator Pearce that as the factories diminished in number the acreage undercultivation fell.
– Might there not have been another cause for the decrease in acreage ?
– Of course there was. In introducing the Bill, Senator Pearce affirmed that the diminution in acreage was due to the fact that there was an elimination of the competitors for the leaf.
– That is the reason which the growers gave us for not putting in leaf.
– That is the reason which Senator Pearce gave us.
– No ; the growers said that there were fewer buyers, and that therefore they ceased to cultivate the leaf.
– That was not the reason given to the Commission by the growers. It was put forward by the honorable senator on his own responsibility.
– At Tumut and Wangaratta the growers said that.
– They all said the same thing.
– They do not all say the same thing. In any case, it does not matter whether they do so or not, because the statement I am challenging is the statement of Senator Pearce, who said, without any qualification as to the evidence given, that there had been two movements visible since 1888, namely, the drawing together of the factories, and the gradual diminution of the acreage under cultivation. It does not matter whether or not all the witnesses swore to that effect, because the figures presented by Mr. Ferguson disproved the statement. Senator Pearce must have had those figures before him, and they clearly show that the number of factories remained stationary while the acreage diminished, but that when the combination took place the acreage increased.
– We had no statement but that of Mr. Ferguson.
– There were the official figures.
– Yes, from Mr. Ferguson.
– Official figures must weigh against the testimony of interested persons.
– Where did we get any figures other than those given by Mr. Ferguson ?
– Where did the honorable senator get the evidence that from 1888 the number of factories decreased?
– The /only statement we have is that of Mr. Ferguson.
– That referred to the period from 1880; Mr. Ferguson’s statement has nothing to do” with the years to which Senator Pearce refers. It was pointed out by Mr. Ferguson that it was prior to 1880 that the small factories went out of existence, whereas Senator Pearce is dealing with 1888.
– Does the honorable senator say that there were only two factories in 1888 ?
– I do not say anything about the number; but. so far as New South Wales is concerned, only one factory disappeared from 1888 to 1900.
– Where does the honorable senator find that in the evidence?
– I obtained the information from the Customs Department, and it can be checked by the number of licences issued. In Victoria, in those same years, one factory was closed and another one was opened ; but both were too small to have any material effect.
– There were a number of licences for the manufacture of cigars, but those cigars did not represent 1 per cent, of the total output.
– The honorable senator now seeks to qualify what he has said.
– The honorable senator does not understand all the facts - that is the trouble.
– It may be a satisfactory way for the honorable senator to dispose of an argument by saying that those who differ from him do not understand the subject. That is not a new method ; but I have yet to learn that it is an impressive or effective method. Senator Story interjected that there were other reasons ; and, of course, there were. Senator Pearce himself has furnished what is undoubtedly the best of all reasons. The honorable senator himself has stated in the recommendations -
Tobacco made wholly from Australian leaf is to a certain extent inferior, but that is very largely owing to the fact that in Australia growers have not been sufficiently educated to thoroughly understand the process of curing.
Coming from a gentleman holding such strong views, that must be taken as a clear explanation of the reason why the industry of tobacco-growing has had such a precarious existence in Australia, and the statement is absolutely confirmed bv the evidence of the Government experts in New South Wales and Victoria. The statement made is that the tobacco produced is not that which Australian taste requires; and I shall quote evidence later on showing the opinion of the Government expert of New South Wales as to the Tumut tobacco. The evidence of such witnesses is entitled to greater weight than that of interested parties. Bearing on the point as to the diminution of the area under cultivation, I find in the Melbourne Age this week the following paragraph -
There is every prospect of a large increase during the ensuing season in the areas sown for tobacco. Mr. Temple Smith, the officer in charge of the Government Experimental Tobacco Farm at Whitfield, reports that new and improved varieties of seed are being distributed to growers free of cost. Satisfactory prices have been realized for these varieties of tobacco during the last two seasons.
I draw attention to the reference to both the increased area and the satisfactory prices.
– The growers do not think the prices satisfactory.
– Here we have another statement ; and I intend to show whether the weight of evidence on the point is with the honorable senator, who picks out the evidence of two or three witnesses. It is a very curious .method to ask the man who is selling whether he is satisfied with the prices ; I never yet knew a seller who was quite satisfied. No doubt if vendors were left to fix their own prices, those prices would be satisfactory ; but it would require the gifts of a magician to make buyers take the commodity.
– The growers produced their accounts to show that - and this applied even to the fancy kind of tobacco - they had not made wages.
– I shall show directly that the complaints, which were, no doubt, made by certain witnesses, were also made before the combination started, and, therefore, cannot be attributed to the combination. Indeed, the honorable senator himself offers an explanation. When, owing to want of knowledge or indifference, an article is produced for which there is no demand, and which the honorable senator admits is- inferior, we have to do one of two things - leave the growers until experience teaches them to improve their methods, or cause the State to step in with grandmotherly aid.
– I am speaking of men who did take trouble to grow good stuff.
– I never knew a man who would admit that he did not take trouble ; the most careless person will always contend that he is the most careful ; and we can only judge by results. The paragraph in the Age proceeds -
Satisfactory prices have been realized for these varieties of tobacco during the past two seasons. Over forty new growers have been supplied with seed for the current season. Not only have good crops been grown in the valleys of the King, Ovens, and other northern tributaries of the Murray, but very promising results have been obtained from the hill country in eastern Gippsland.
I have given figures showing that the acreage has increased since 1900, and what I have read indicates that the increase is continuing, and that the prospects for next year! are better than has been the case for some time. Now let me turn to the question of the Tumut tobacco leaf competition. I refer to this matter for a double reason ; first, because it lends confirmation to the statement I have made that Senator Pearce has allowed his zeal to altogether cloud his judgment. I shall show from a quotation from the honorable senator’s speech, when moving the second reading, how suspiciously he regards any action on the part of the tobacco combine. On that occasion, Senator Pearce said, as reported in Hansard -
After the treatment meted out to the growers, I can almost believe the combine capable of anything.
– Is the honorable senator aware that Australian leaf for which the manufacturers gave Sd. per lb. was sold in England at 4½d. per lb.?
– I am aware that the trust offered a prize for the best leaf grown at Tumut, and pledged itself to give Sd. per lb. for the first-prize leaf. What happened was that the grower who won the first prize received 8d. per lb. for the quantity which was put into competition, but for the stock of leaf of the same quality which the grower had, he was not given 8d. per lb., or anything like that price.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– Senator Gray must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but I say that the statement is incorrect.
– Senator Gray will have an opportunity to follow me, and there is no necessity for him to make statements or remarks of the kind to which I have objected. The trust, in order, as it was said, to prove that it did “the fair thing,” offered to purchase a barrel of the tobacco of the first prize quality, and send it to England for sale in the open market. As a matter of fact, however, the growers had no representative to look after their interests, and were not aware what leaf was sent to England.
– Does the honorable senator infer that the manufacturers in this connexion did what was wrong?
– From my experience of the manufacturers, I should think they are capable of anything, and I shall tell the honor, able senator why.
The honorable senator has made some very strong allegations against the tobacco manufacturers, and I ask honorable senators to bear with me while I trace the history of the Tumut competition, and show how far there is any justification fori the gross imputations and suspicions expressed. The report in Hansard continues -
The representative expert of the tobacco combine was present during the giving of evidence at Tumut, and when the winner of the first prize tobacco was being examined, a sample of the tobacco was placed upon the table. This grower is a native of America, and has followed the occupation of tobacco-grower all his life. He told the Commission .that the leaf then produced would, in America, be worth 8d. per lb.
– Who brought the expert from America?
– He was brought out by the tobacco combine. This witness, on oath, gave his word that he would expect to realize in America 8d. per lb. for such leaf. The witness who followed was the expert buyer for the combine, and he, indicating the sample of tobacco, said) “ I venture to say that that tobacco sold in South Carolina would not realize more than 5d. per lb.”
There is more that I desire to quote, but I shall deal with the one point first.
– There is plenty of time. .
– I apologize sincerely for occupying so much time, and I can only justify my action, first, bv the stupendous importance of the subject, and next, by the fact that it is easy in a short space of time to make allegations which require many hours to refute. If I detain honorable senators, I can only say that Senator Pearce, brief though he was, covered so much ground, and made so many serious assertions that I feel compelled to take sufficient time in which to reply. The quotation I have read is an accusation of improper conduct on the part of the manufacturers. It is said that there was no one to watch the interests of the growers, who had no knowledge of what tobacco was sent to England, and, further, that one of the witnesses, who was originally an expert brought out by the manufacturers, swore that the tobacco which he produced would be worth 8d. per lb. in America. The first allegation is that the manufacturers broke faith with the growers in the matter of this competition. The evidence on -which I shall rely could have been obtained by anybody, either officially, or as it appeared in the public journals, or in the evidence given before the Commission. I have here the leaflet which advertised the competition, and laid down the conditions. I shall read one portion which Senator Pearce has made the ground of one of his charges, namely, that while the company paid 8d. per lb. for the quantity of tobacco which earned the first prize, it did not give 8d. per lb. for the balance of the winner’s crop. The leaflet shows that the company never undertook to pay for any more than the two ton lot which formed the entry to the competition, as the following condition will show : -
The company does not bind itself, at the competitor’s option, to purchase more or all of the prize-winner’s tobacco of the same quality at the same price.
Nothing could be clearer than that. The terms may be reasonable or unreasonable, but there is no breach of faith if people offer a prize on terms, and those terms are adhered to. What does Senator Pearce mean by saying: -
What happened was that the grower who won the first prize received Sd. per lb. for the quantity which was put into competition, but for the ‘ stock of leaf of the same quality which the grower had, he was not given 8d. per lb., or anything like that price.
What does Senator Pearce mean by that, except that that price ought to have been paid? From the circular it is clear that the company never undertook to pay more than 8d. for the prize tobacco. The company offered four sums of £40 each as prizes in different districts, and, in addition, offered to pay 8d. per lb. for the sample which won the prize. To say that they ought, therefore, to have paid the same price for the balance of the man’s crop would be not only absurd, but contrary to the terms and conditions under which the prize was advertized. Senator Pearce went on to quote from witnesses, and any one listening to the quotation I have just read, or reading through that portion of the honorable senator’s speech must necessarily come to the conclusion that the man ought to have received 8d. per lb. for the balance of his crop, because of the statement that a witness swore that that tobacco was worth 8d. per lb. in America. Now, the witness did not do anything of the kind.
– I should have said 8 cents.
-No ; the honorable senator will pardon me; 16 cents was the price stated in the . evidence, and 8d. was the real price. Senator Pearce’s statement was first of all an affirmation that the company did not give the man 8d. per lb. for the balance of his crop. I have shown that they were not under any obligation to do so. In the terms of the competition, they expressly provided against that. Then the honorable senator went on to say that they ought to have paid 8d. per lb. quite apart from the terms of the competition, because a witness swore that the tobacco was worth it. The honorable senator said -
This grower is a native of America, and has followed the occupation of tobacco grower all his life, and he told the Commission that the leaf then produced would in America be worth 8d. per lb.
That is one of the statements in connexion with which I must reluctantly say that the honorable senator misled the Senate.
– Did not the witness say that?
– Yes; but what else did he say? The honorable senator asked the witness whether he was prepared to say that that leaf would fetch 8d. per lb. in America, and the answer was, “ Yes.” But the witness was recalled, and what did he say then ?
– Well, what did he say?
– He said that the sample which was shown, and which he estimated to be worth 8d. per lb. was not a fair sample of his crop.
– How long did it take him to think that out
– This was a witness on whom Senator Pearce relied. Are honorable senators opposite going to impugn their own witnesses ?
– Who brought forward this witness?
– Senator Pearce brought him before the Senate by quoting him. I take it that the honorable senator was referring to Mr. J. W. Creasy. In answer to question 2771 he gave evidence that the sample of tobacco shown would be worth in. America 16 cents per lb., but then at question 3301, when the witness was recalled, he was asked whether the sample produced by him and which he said was worth 8d. per lb. was a fair sample of his crop, and he said -
It was not a fair sample. T.hat which Mr. Currin brought up was a fair sample. I simply brought up this lot to show what could be grown in the district.
Yet Senator Pearce brought forward this evidence to prove that the combine had done an unfair thing when thev did not give the man 8d. per lb. for the balance of his crop.
– The honorable senator is misrepresenting me. I was referring in this connexion to a statement of the witness Currin.
– This evidence was brought forward by the honorable senator in connexion with the statement that the combine had done an unfair thing. In answer to an interjection by Senator Gray, the honorable senator said -
From my experience of the manufacturers, I should think they are capable of anything, and I shall tell the honorable senator why.
He then went on to give this particular instance.
– I referred to the statement made by Currin, and I pointed out to him that there was a duty of1s. per lb. in Australia.
– I admit the adroitness with which the honorable senator ran from one “thing to another, but I am not going to follow his example. This is one of the clear cases in which, quite inadvertently, no doubt, the honorable ‘ senator was not fair to himself or to the Senate.
– I was absolutely fair.
– The honorable senator said -
The representative expert of the tobacco combine was present during the giving of evidence at Tumut, and when the winner of the first prize tobacco was being examined, a sample of the tobacco was placed upon the table.
That was a sample of the tobacco which Creasy grew and which he said was worth 8d. per lb. in South Carolina. Was not the honorable senator in the previous part of his speech referring to the fact that the grower did not get 8d. per lb., or. anything like it, for the balance of his crop. He was dealing with that right through. He said that for leaf of the same quality as that shown, the grower did not get 8d. per lb., oranything like it. He went on to say -
The trust, in order, as it was said, to prove that it did . 1 fair thing, offered to purchase a barrel of the tobacco of the first prize quality, and send it to England for sale in the open market. As a matter of fact the growers had no representative to look after their interests, and were not aware what leaf was sent to England.
To that statement Senator Gray made the interjection -
Does the honorable senator infer that the manufacturers in this connexion did what was wrong ? and Senator Pearce replied -
From my experience of the manufacturers, I should think they are capable of anything, and I shall tell the honorable senator why.
Then he went on to say why, and the statement he made in telling, Senator Gray why he had that opinion of the combine was -
The representative expert of the tobacco combine was present during the giving of evidence at Tumut, and when the winner of the first prize tobacco was being examined, a sample of the tobacco was, placed upon the table. This grower is a native of America, and has followed the occupation of tobacco grower all his life, and he told the Commission that the leaf then produced would in America be worth 8d. per lb.
I say that from the beginning to the end of that portion of the honorable senator’s speech, it was clear that he was making an accusation against the combine. When he was asked by Senator Gray if he thought that they did anything wrong, he said, “ Yes, I do, and I will tell you why,” and then he brought up all this evidence of Creasy’s, in which he put forward the sample of tobacco, which he said was worth 8d. perlb, and for which he did not get 8d. per lb.
– I pointed out that on Currin’s own showing, owing to the duty, the tobacco should have realized1s. 4d. per lb., and that showed that even at 8d. per lb., they were paid 8d. per lb. less than it was worth.
-I am dealing now with the statement that Creasy did not get 8d. per lb. for the balance of his crop, or anything like if, and with the further statement in reply to Senator Gray’s interjection that Senator Pearce thought the combine would be capable of doing what was wrong from his experience of manufacturers, and because this man Creasy, who had been a tobacco-grower all his life, and a native of America, had said that the tobacco was worth 8d. per lb., and he did not get 8d. per lb. for it. I say that when he was recalled on the next day, Creasy told the Commission, what I think Senator Pearce should have fold the Senate, that the sample he produced was not a fair sample of his crop, and was only brought forward for the purpose of showing, what could be grown in the Tumut district.
– The point at issue was the price of tobacco of that quality, and the question whether that was a true sample of his crop did not arise.
– The honorable senator made the point that the man did not get 8d. per lb. for the balance of his crop. The question then arose whether the sample wnich was said to be worth 8d. per lb. was a fair sample of the balance of the crop. If it was, it should have realized 8d. per lb., but if it was not, there was no reason why 8d. per lb. should be paid for the balance of the crop. When Creasy was recalled by the Commission he honestly told them that it was not a fair sample, but merely a picked’ piece which he brought forward, with the natural pride which any man might have in the district in which he resided, as showing what the Tumut district could produce.
Now I come to the second point. One witness deposed that the sample of tobacco would not be worth more than 5d. per lb. Senator Pearce took that valuation, and he went on to say -
I then pointed out to him that in Australia there was a duty of1s. per lb.
My honorable friend was incorrect in that statement, because the duty is1s. 6d.
– I was speaking then from memory.
– I assume that the honorable senator made the error inadvertently. He went on to say -
I then pointed out to him that in Australia there was a duty of1s. per lb., and therefore, on his own showing, that tobacco should be worth 1s. 5d. per lb. in Sydney, without considering freight, although the combine had given only 8d. per lb. for a small parcel. That was the evidence of the expert buyer of the tobacco combine. If there is anything in the” statement of honorabte senators opposite that a duty raises the price of the article, especially when there is not sufficient local production to satisfy the demand, then that leaf should be worth at least1s. 5d. per lb. duty paid in Sydney.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45. p.m.
Motion, (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the debate on the Constitution Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill, interrupted by the suspension of the sitting, be resumed this day fortnight.
Motion (bv Senator Keating) agreed to-
That Notice of Motion No. 1 (Call of the Senate) be made an Order of the Day for tomorrow.
Motion (by Senator Keating) pro posed -
That the Order of the Day No. 1 (consideration of reported Bill) be an Order of the Day for Tuesday next.
– I should like to ask Senator Keating whether he will explain the connexion between this motion and that which has just been carried, relating to the call of the Senate ? In view of the fact that the motion for the call of the Senate has been made an Order of the Day for to-morrow, would it not be well to make the consideration of the report on this Bill an Order of the Day for the same day ?
– There is some force in what Senator Clemons has urged. An order for a call of the Senate, under the Standing Orders, has to be for a specific purpose ; and is it possible for us to-morrow to order a call of the Senate to consider the third reading of a Bill the report on which has not yet been adopted ? That is the point.
– I think we can.
– Senator Clemons has raised this point to prevent a mistake being made. It seems to me to be possible that to-morrow we mav be asked to do something which we shall not be in a position to do if the consideration of the reported Bill is not to be taken until Tuesday.
.- I felt somewhat concerned when Senator Keating submitted his motion. I conceive the position’ to be this: The report stage of the Bill would have to be disposed of before a call of the Senate was made, so that we might be ready for the third reading. Standing order 233 reauires that -
Before the third reading of any Bill by which an alteration of the Constitution is proposed, there shall be a call of the Senate.
Then it says that -
If the third reading of any such Bill shall not have been carried by an absolute majority of the Senate, the Bill shall be forthwith laid aside without question put, and shall not be revived during the same session.
The position is, therefore, that, before the third reading of any Bill which proposes to amend the Constitution is moved, there must be a call of the Senate, and that implies that we shall have arrived at that stage of the Bill immediately preceding the third reading.
– I do not think so.
– That is the way I should be disposed to read the standing order. If I were in the Minister’s position I should not be inclined to run any risk. I personally feel interested in the passage of the Bill, and consequently I should have been pleased if the report stage had been disposed of to-night. Then the motion for the call of the Senate might have been moved to-morrow. The spirit and intention of standing order 233 is that a Bill shall pass every stage except the third reading before the call is made. I suggest that, by leave of the Senate, the Minister should amend his motion, so that the report on the Bill may be considered tomorrow.
– It is better to be on the safe side.
– I cannot see that it is necessary that the Senate should have passed all the stages of a Bill except the third reading before a call of the Senate is ordered. Why should we not have ordered a call of the Senate before the second reading was disposed of?
– May I suggest that until the Senate has reached the stage when it can fix a day for the third reading it cannot name a day for a call of the Senate ?
– Why not?
– It is impossible to say whether the discussion on the Bill at its preceding stages will occupy a week or a month.
– My point is this : Under standing order 233, I think, subject to the President’s ruling, that what is intended is that we should have arrived at that stage of a Bill to amend the Constitution next and nearest to the third reading before a call is ordered. I believe that that is the proper interpretation of the standing order. Feeling that there may be some doubt whether that is the correct reading, I have suggested that Senator Keating should take the report on the Bill to-morrow instead of on Tuesday.
– I have not given any ruling on the point yet. I am not asked for one. The time has not arrived.
– I do not think that the Minister should run a risk, at all events.
– I thank honorable senators for drawing my attention to this point, but so far as the interpretation of standing order 233 is concerned, I differ entirely from that put upon it by Senator Best and Senator Clemons. I do not think that it is necessary to read into the standing order that the Bill to which the call relates should have arrived at a particular stage. It seems to me that all that the standing order provides is that before the third reading of the Bill in question- the final and crucial stage - honorable senators shall be made acquainted with the fact that it is under consideration, in order that they may be in their places to vote upon it. Twenty-one days is the period fixed between the order and the call. I think that that term was fixed on account of the postal distance of Western
Australia. So long as it is insured that the whole of the members of the Senate are asked to be present on a certain date, it is competent to bring on the third reading of the Bill.
– That is not what the standing order says.
– It says nothing to the contrary.
– The motion respecting the call does not refer to this Bill at all.
– I do not think it is necessary, under the terms of the standing order, that the call should be for a specific purpose.
– Then how are senators to know what they are to come for?
– I think that standing order 233 indicates that clearly.
– I do not think so. However, I realize that honorable senators who have spoken on the matter wish to avoid complications in settling it, and I should like, by leave of the Senate, to amend the motion to make the consideration of the report an order of the day for to-morrow instead of Tuesday.
Question amended accordingly, and resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th September, vide page 3964) :
Postmaster-General’s Department : Wireless Telegraphy.
Division 5(Postmaster -General’ s Department) £217,722.
Upon which Senator Pulsford had moved, by way of amendment -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “Wireless Telegraphy, £10,000,” by£5,000.
– When I ventured to address a few remarks to the Committee on the subject of wireless telegraphy last night, my honorable friend, the Minister of Defence, evinced a very lively anxiety lest I should make a speech of some duration. He seemed to think that when I commenced to discuss the large subject of the “All Red Line,” my prolixity would be such that I should take at least two hours to do justice to it. I can assure my “honorable friend that I had no intention to speak for more than ten minutes.
I did not intend to pursue the course followed by my honorable friend Senator Millen this afternoon in his very able speech on Senator Pearce’s Bill. The anxiety of the Minister was not justified by the facts, nor will it be justified by results. I was saying, when the adjournment took place last night, that when the PostmasterGeneral returned from the Postal Conference at Rome, he announced that negotiations were being carried on with Sir Joseph Ward, the Postmaster-General of New Zealand, with a view to establish wireless telegraphy between Australia and New Zealand. After stating that inquiries were being made, the subject was suddenly dropped by the Minister. Now, however, I find that Mr. Walker, the representative of the Marconi Company is in New Zealand conducting negotiations with reference to wireless telegraphy. The conjunction of those facts leads us to the conclusion - in view of the absence of any information by the Government - that it is intended to establish a system of wireless telegraphy between this country and New Zealand. Honorable senators will also remember that it was mentioned as probable that the Government would instal a system of wireless telegraphy between Queenscliff, in Victoria, and Tasmania.
– If it be legal.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The representative of one of the wireless telegraphy companies has caused a. station to be erected at Queenscliff and another one in Tasmania ; and an exhibition has been given of the method by which messages are despatched and received. Therefore it seems probable - and we have simply to go by inference, because the Government have declined to give any information as to how the money isto be spent - that their intention is to erect a third station, somewhere in New Zealand, and possibly link up a connexion in that way. I am the more readv to accept that conclusion, from the fact that it would take about£10,000 to create such an installation. It is generally admitted that wireless telegraphy is less efficient and reliable than submarine telegraphy. If this svstem were installed between Australia and New Zealand, we should not have effected anv betterment of the telegraphic communication between the two countries. Certainly we should have a third means of communication, but it would be inferior to the two existing ones. Further than that, the Pacific Cable Company is owne’d by Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Great Britain. Australia is the largest partner, owning one-third of the shares. After allowing for various sinking funds, the deficiency amounts to a sum of which our proportion is about , £26,000 a year. It is proposed to instal a system which would undoubtedly reduce the number of cable messages sent over our own line. We should have two systems owned by the Government competing against each other, and the new system, laid down at a cost of £10,000, would be infinitely inferior to the present one. It is difficult for me to see what advantage would be gained bv the expenditure of £10,000.
– What is the relative cost of the working?
-I think that the number of operators is quite as great in one case as in the other. We ought to be very careful to see that any engagement which we have entered into between States or nations of the Empire is respected in spirit and in letter. When the negotiations were completed for laying down the Pacific Cable, each partner to the agreement was pledged to use every possible endeavour to influence all cable traffic over that line. That is an honorable engagement, which we should not in any way vitiate. Within fourteen days from the time when that agreement was come to, a Postmaster-General of New South Wales gave to the Eastern Extension Companycertain privileges for which they had not asked before, and which there was no reason they should have. Our partners were unanimous in speaking in verystrong terms of his action. A similar agreement was proposed in Victoria, and to the credit of Sir George Turner, he refused to indorse the action of this PostmasterGeneral. To a certain extent Australia broke faith with the Pacific Cable Company by making that agreement. And if we established a system of wireless telegraphy between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, we should for the second time break faith with our partners in this great Inter-Empire scheme. Then I come to the section of the line between Victoria and Tasmania. There is a most unfortunate agreement between the Eastern Extension Company and the Government of that State. Not only did the company receive a large subsidv from Tasmania, but they obtained from its Government a concession by which they were guaranteed a revenue out of all proportion to a fair interest and profit on their outlay and working expenses. The Commonwealth has taken over the agreement, and it is quite immaterial to the shareholders in the company whether we send all our messages over that line or whetherwe send no messages, because if we did not they would simply come to us and say, “ We have had no revenue from telegrams; you will have to make up the deficiency, because you guaranteed us a certain revenue.” I know that at the present time the revenue exceeds the amount of the guarantee, and therefore, although we give the company so much per word, the guarantee costs us nothing. If, however, the wireless system actively competed against the cable between Tasmania and Victoria, the Commonwealth would have to bear the working expenses of sending cablegrams by wireless telegraphy to Tasmania, and for every word which we sent we should have to make up the subsidy guaranteed to the company for, I think, the next four years.
– We could charge the additional cost to the telegrams going from Tasmania.
– No. Within the last few months we have agreed to a special rate, which I do not think the Commonwealth would care to increase. I was exceedingly anxious to get from the Government some information as to where the wireless telegraphy would be installed, because I have taken some interest in the question of submarine telegraphy. But as regards the two lines which it is most probable they intend to instal, in one case we should be depleting the profit on our own Pacific Cable, and in the other we should be taking from the Eastern Extension Telegraph, Company revenue which we should have to make up with a subsidy. Considering the wide expanse of Australia, and the possibilities of wireless telegraphy for shipping, and for connecting various portions ofCommonwealth territory, it seems to me unfortunate that the Government have apparently picked upon the only two possible lines which would either deplete their revenue or necessitate the payment of an increased subsidy. Why should they pick out the only two lines in the whole Commonwealth which could injure us financially with regard to existing schemes?
– Who said that they picked those two out?
– It happens that we have’ not picked them out.
– I prefaced my remarks by saying that the Government have absolutely declined to state in what way they propose to spend this sum of £10,000.
– We do not decline; we cannot tell.
– If the Government do not know how they intend to spend the money, they ought to ascertain that before they ask us to vote it blindly.
– In Australia, there are placeswhere, owing to rocky bottoms, the cables have been absolute failures.
– If, On the other hand, the Government know how they intend to spend the money, we ought not to vote it until they take us into their confidence. It would be just as reasonable for us to be asked to vote £100,000 for defence, and to be told, “ We do not know how we intend to spend this money, but we propose to spend it. We askyou to trust us, and to pass the item.”
– At one time that system used to exist in the States.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes. The control of the purse is a great privilege. One of our most important duties is to see that the money of the taxpayers is expended in a way of which we approve. We ought not to be asked to vote a sum for any works without a definite statement as to what they are. If the Government propose to spend £10,000 on installing a wireless telegraphy system without giving anv information to Parliament, they should put on the Estimates an item of £20,000 for making general investigations, and, after it has been voted by the Senate without any information as to how it would be spent, to use the money in making a survey of the transcontinental railway. The value of the information which would thus be obtained would redeem such an item from the reproach of being somewhat nebulous in its presentment. The only information concerning this item which has yet been presented to us is a minute by the Postmaster-General, as follows -
Wireless Telegraphy,£10,000. - This amount has been placed on the Estimates as a first instalment of the cost of introducing the wireless telegraph system into the Commonwealth.
It has not yet been determined in which part of the Commonwealth the system will be introduced, but full inquiries will be made into a number of proposals which have been submitted to the Department, and when a decision has been arrived at lenders will be invited instal the system.
Would it not have been well for the Government to make those inquiries before they came down and asked Parliament to vote the money?. In view of the fact that it willbe sitting within six or nine months there is no desperate hurry in regard to the introduction of wireless telegraphy. No doubt it would be valuable from the point of view of shipping signals. Beyond that, it appears to be a sort of tov. Honorable senators seem fascinated with the idea of experimenting with a new tov which, if brought into competition with submarine telegraphy, would not be nearly so efficient and reliable. According to the second paragraph of the minute, the Department are making full inquiries into a number of proposals which have been submitted. Will the Minister of Defence indicate the nature of the proposals so that we may have an idea as to the direction which the investigations would take? We are not justified in voting a sum of money without knowing for what purpose it will be expended. If we were to say to the Government, “We will vote the money, and you can spend it as you like,” the Ministry would be practically taking the place of Parliament. If we vote this money it will mean that we permit the Government, instead of Parliament, to decide what public works shall be carried out. That is a right which is claimed by Parliament itself ; and we are often told about the continued growth of the power of the Executive. The principle involved, as well as the proposal itself, is important ; and if we vote this money in the absence of the slightest information, we shall not be doing our duty to our constituents. We have the power of the purse, and we ought to see that the taxes, which are necessary for certain services and public works, are expended for the advantage’ of the public generally. If we abrogate our functions and hand them over to the Executive, we shall adopt a system which is altogether wrong. If the Government have no idea how this money is to be spent, we ought to defer the vote until they have further pursued their investigations, and are in a position to bring before us some definite proposals. If the item be withdrawn until Parliament meets again next year, there will have been in the meantime the Imperial Conference; and we shall then have the benefit of the knowledge of experts as to the best methods of wireless telegraphy, and, possibly, as to the best company with which to enter into negotiations. Sir John Forrest has made a proposal that wireless telegraphy should be installed between some portion of Queensland and Papua. My own opinion is th’at £10,000 spent in other ways in Papua would give a much better return; but if there is a desire to spend money on wireless telegraphy, other than in connexion with the signalling of ships,’ and so forth, I honestly think that it could not be undertaken with greater advantage than as between Australia and New Guinea. At- the present time, we have sometimes to wait for two months before we receive replies to communications from New Guinea; and wireless telegraphy would put us, in direct touch, and enable information to be obtained, possibly in two hours. The Government ought to be able to tell us whether it is intended to instal a system with New Guinea, New Zealand, or Tasmania, or whether the idea is simply the signalling of ships?
– Does the honorable senator think he is talking out a railway survey Bill ?
– Senator Smith said he would occupyten minutes, and he has now been sneaking for half-an-hour.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Senator McGregor made no objection to the long and able speech to which we listened this afternoon ; and I certainly refuse to be cowed into sitting down by the leader of the Senile. I am not responsible to any one but my constituents ; and I propose to speak as long as I think is needful on a subject of such importance. There are many competing systems of wireless telegraphy ; and the Government appear to have given a certain company a sort of preference.
– Other companies could have received the same treatment if they had asked for it.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.It appears to me that the Government intended to give that company certain rights and privileges to the exclusion of other companies. However, so many questions have been asked on the subject, that the Government have now expressed their willingness to call for tenders. So far as I can see, no reason has been given by the Government for any haste in this matter ; on the other hand, the Government do not appear to know what is intended to be done with the £10,000. I suggest that during the recess time might be profitably occupied irt further investigations.
– But the honorable senator suggests that the Government have already made up their minds.
-. That is denied by the Government, and it would be unparliamentary on my part to contradict them. If the Government have made up their minds, their offence is all the worse in not stating exactly what their intentions are. Unless the Government can give some definite information, I shall feel it my duty to vote against the item.
– I hope the Committee will consider this question seriously. There is not only involved the question of wireless telegraphy, or any particular system that may be hereafter adopted- there is a much broader principle at stake. We are asked to sanction an expenditure that may take place at some future time, which, so far as indications go, is by no means close at hand. If this item were to read, “ Submarine cable, from a point not stated to a point not ascertained, £10,000,” honorable senators would certainly ask for further particulars.
– There is an item. “ Construction and extension of telephones in Tasmania, £15,500.” Where is the difference ?
– I hope to convince Senator Guthrie that there is a very considerable difference. If the item were to read as I have indicated, I suppose that Senator Guthrie, like every other honorable senator, would demand some more precise information. The item under discussion differs from that referred to by Senator Guthrie, in that the former applies to no particular State.
– The Government cannot spend money outside of the Common wealth.
– Of course not; but with the famous exception of the proposed vote for a trawler, there is no item’ in this Bill which is not properly allocated to some particular State. The two items I mention have this in common, that we have no details as to in which of the six States the money is to be’ expended. As I say, if we were asked to vote for a submarine cable between two points not stated, we should certainly ask for further information.
– There might be no points in the case, of wireless telegraphy ; the communication might be with ships at sea.
– Even in the case of ships there must be one point on shore ; and the absence of one point is quite enough for my argument. We should, as [ say, require further information in the case of a marine cable, which is a means of communication familiar to us, and certainly details are all the more necessary in the case of wireless telegraphy, which, as Senator Smith has pointed out, is practically in its infancy. Under the circumstances we should certainly hesitate before we vote so large a sum as £10,000, the expenditure of which is to be intrusted to the Ministry without any reference to Parliament. It would be well, I think, for the Government to submit some proposals to Parliament, and afford some information as to the different offers or systems they have investigated. As a matter of fact, however, we are simply asked to allow the Government during recess, if they think fit, to approve any one of, perhaps, a dozen different methods of wireless telegraphy, and to instal. communication in any part of Australia without reference to Parliament. All this expenditure is distributed per ca-bita; and from that point of view alone, much might be said as to the undesirability of allowing the Ministry to allocate to any one State so large a sum.
– It might be Tasmania.
– If I were told that the money was to be expended in Tasmania, I should still vote against the item. However, we have no information whatever on the subject; and the Senate has a right to know for the benefit of which State it is proposed to expend the money. For the reasons I have given I hope that Senator Playford will see his way to withdraw the item. To show the absurdity of the proposal, I direct attention to the fact that the very next line of the schedule is,. “ Less the amount which it is anticipated may not be expended during the year, £20,000.”
– That refers to the whole of the items in the Department of the Postmaster-General in all the States.
– But that is twice the amount of money we are asked to vote for wireless telegraphy ; and the latter also refers to all of the States.
– In one State there may be an excess of expenditure, and in another State a saving.
– True; but does the Minister not admit that wireless telegraphy applies to the whole of the States?
– Of course; but that has nothing to do with the deduction of £^20,000.
– I simply point out that this deduction refers to the whole of the States, and that in any case it is double ,£10,000. It will be absurd to vote £10,000 in the dark, with no information as to the application of the money. In these circumstances it is an absurdity to vote this ,£10,000 when there is another vote of ,£20,000 which we are told is not going to be expended. I cannot understand how any member of the Committee, who is here to look after the finances as well as the other interests of the State he represents, can agree to vote so large a sum of money as £^10,000 without knowing what is going to be done with it. If any elector in his State should say to him, “ You voted ,£10,000 absolutely in the dark,” what is he to say? The only answer ‘ he can give, if such an answer satisfies him, is, “ The Ministry came down and asked for it.”
– For a specific purpose.
– No; that is the whole point at issue.
– It is certainly for wireless telegraphy, and the money could not be spent on a cable.
– If it were for a specific purpose, there could be no objection to.it.” This vote might just as well be proposed for ballooning as for wireless telegraphy, and could any member of the Committee justify a vote of ,£10,000 for such a purpose? He could only do so by saying, “I am perfectly satisfied that if the Ministry ask for ,£10,000 for a purpose so vaguely described as _’ wireless telegraphy,’ they ought to have it.” Even if he did’ say that he would be to a certain extent abrogating the duties he is sent here to discharge. I have on many occasions contended that in the Senate- we are extremely lax in dealing with the appropriation of large sums of money. We pass them year after year almost as a, matter of course. I admit that we can generally excuse ourselves on the ground that the sums asked for are allocated for some specific purpose. ‘But in this instance we are left entirely in the dark. This vote of £10,000, if agreed to, will have to be allocated per capita, and each State will be compelled to find a certain portion of the amount; whilst no honorable senator from any State will be able to tell an elector in his State where the money is to be spent, whether it will be spent wisely or unwisely, or that he had any opportunity of judging that, in his opinion, fallible though it might be, it was likely that the money would be well spent. Such a request to act in the dark has never been made to honorable senators before. I ask the Committee to strike out the vote, as to do so will not in any way injure the Ministry. I am aware that, no matter when I speak here, even though I should be anxious to assist the Ministry, as I am sometimes, I am liable to be accused of desiring, to injure them. However. I can ask Senator Playford, in this instance, whether the striking out of this vote would hurt even his feelings. The honorable senator would not be a worthy leader of the Senate if he did not invite us to consider all these things, and he should be well pleased when we show some interest in the disposal of the sums of money we are asked to pass.
.- I am very much interested in wireless telegraphy, and should like to see it installed between Thursday Island and Papua. Such an undertaking requires inquiry and the command of funds, and I agree with honorable senators who say that we should be asked to vote specific sums only for some specific purpose. The Postmaster-General, in his memorandum, tells us that he wants £10,000 for wireless telegraphy, and does not know where the money is to be spent. He says that he is going to make inquiries, and when he has done so will call for tenders for certain installations, and we have not the faintest notion where they are to be. I never previously heard of a vote being submitted, and a Minister justifying it by saying, “ I shall make inquiries as to when and where it should be spent, and what amount should be spent.” This is a good illustration in support of my contention that we are asked to vote money in an extravagant and reckless fashion. Let me give one reason why I think this vote should be struck out. Honorable senators will very likely be called upon to discuss the legality, and also the morality, of establishing wireless telegraphy between Victoria and Tasmania. We are under an agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and have undertaken to give them a monopoly in connexion with their submarine cable. Can we, in the circumstances, legally instal a system of wireless telegraphy, and can we honorably and morally do it? If Ministers should seriously consider the advisability of establishing wireless telegraphy between Tasmania and Victoria, they will be confronted with the question of whether it would be right to do it in the circumstances. I am inclined to think that it would not. If I sold out a coaching service between two places, and, in doing so, undertook not to carry passengers by vehicles between those places, and then were to take advantage of the latest developments of science and establish communication between them by means of a flying machine, although I might feel legally justified in doing so, I think I should also feel a little ashamed of myself. All the speeches I have heard on the vote go to show that Senator Playford would do well to withdraw the item. I should be prepared to vote money ‘for the establishment of wireless telegraphy between Thursday Island and Papua if the Minister, on inquiry, could tell us that it could be done for a reasonable sum, but I am not prepared to support this vote.
– Since the item was last under discussion, I have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Postmaster-General. He desires that Parliament should trust him with the expenditure of a certain sum of money in connexion with wireless telegraphy, and he tells honorable senators as frankly as possible that at; the present moment he is unable to say where he will spend the money.
– Why does he ask for £10,000?
– I am putting the matter before the Committee with “brutal frankness,” to use the expression that an honorable senator applied to me. Senator Smith, as was to be expected, dragged in the matter of the Pacific Cable, and I admit that he had- some justification, because there is some connexion between the two matters. He said that the Government proposed to establish wireless telegraphic communication between Australia and New Zealand. That could not be done for £10,000, and will be likely to cost something more like £20,000. It is not the intention of the Government to undertake any such expenditure without consulting Parliament. I asked my honorable colleague whether he had any idea of connecting Thursday Island with New Guinea bv means of wireless telegraphy, and he said that that would be one of the first works of the kind on which he would think of spending money. . Senator Millen has said that honorable senators cannot trust the Government, and that if they give us £10,000 to spend they will not know whether they will not be committed to an expenditure of £20,000 or £30,000. In this connexion, I say that honorable senators should judge the Postmaster-General by his actions. We should speak of a man as we find him. and what did the PostmasterGeneral do last year? The Senate last year voted a sum of £19,000 to be spent in New South Wales, and £11,000 to be spent in Victoria in connexion with the construction df a telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney.
– We knew what we were doing then.
– The PostmasterGeneral called for tenders for the work, and he found that in consequence of a rise in the price of copper, the vote of £19,000 would have to be increased to £23,000, and the vote of £11,000 to £14,000. Did he in the circumstances commit Parliament to the increased expenditure? No; he very properly said that in view of the very considerable increase in the estimated cost of the line, it was only fair that Parliament should be given an opportunity to say whether it would vote the additional amount required for the work, because, when they agreed to the construction of the line, they were led to believe that so far as the contracts which were sought to be made were concerned, the cost would be £7,000 less than the amount of the tender. He did not spend the money.
– What is he going to do now?
– The honorable senator is not going to put me off my argument. My point is that the Senate can trust the present Postmaster-General not to commit the Commonwealth to undue expenditure in a matter of this sort.
– Apparently he lost £7,000 or £8,000 to the Commonwealth by not constructing the line last year.
– If the honorable senator desired to talk about that he should have been in his place when the vote was under discussion. I am showing that honorable senators can trust the present Postmaster-General not to commit the Commonwealth to undue expenditure under, this vote. If the money is voted the present Postmaster-General or his successor must be trusted to spend the money properly and’ for the benefit of the Commonwealth. If honorable senators do not think that that will be done, they will no doubt strike out the item.
– Is any portion of this amount to be spent in establishing communication between Australia and New Zealand?
– There will be no such expenditure without the consent of Parliament. Parliament will be given an opportunity to say whether it will approve of such communication. I understand that the installations of wireless telegraphy which my honorable colleague has in mindwill not involve a very large expenditure in any particular case. There is a cable there which is constantly being frayed by the rocks. If we had communication by wireless telegraphy with Port Adelaide, fifty or sixty miles away, it would be a great convenience. Probably there will be an installation like that, or we may have communication established between Thursday Island and Papua.
– I hope that the vote for wireless telegraphy will not be reduced by £5,000. If the Committee is not inclined to agree to it as it stands, I would rather see it knocked out altogether. Wireless telegraphy is, comparatively speaking, new. I wish to submit an illustration to those senators who are constantly telling us that the Commonwealth should do things on commercial lines. If there were a very large business, having dozens of departments, and if suddenly a new line were introduced, and a sum of money were required to open up business in connexion with it, in the nature of things very little information could be obtained as to the amount necessary to . undertake the new work profitably. But suppose the firm had a manager in whom the directors had a fair amount of confidence. The probability is that they would say to him, “ This new line of business may be of great service to our company. We do not know exactly what amount of money is required, but we will put £10,000 at your disposal. You are not to involve us in further expenditure without our permission.” Would not that be carrying on business on commercial lines ?
– Certainly not.
– I venture to say that it is done every day, and if Senator Pulsford, who has extensive commercial experience, liked, he could confirm my statement. That is all that the Government is now doing. Honorable senators are anxious to know where the money is to be spent. That has not been decided.
– Should it not be decided before we vote the money ?
– It may not be possible to decide yet. It may be advisable to make inquiries before the money is spent. Some of it may be spent, as indicated bv the Minister of Defence, in establishing wireless telegraphy between Thursday Island and Papua. It may be said, “ Of what benefit will that be to Western Australia or Tasmania?” No matter where a wireless telegraphy station is established in Australia, so long as that station is in communication with existing telegraph lines it will be of benefit to the whole Commonwealth. If Papua were connected with Thursday Island it would not be necessary to have a station connected with Papua in every State. One would be sufficient. A couple of years ago much was said about a few hundreds of people who live in King Island. Sometimes they are months without any communication with the mainland. Suppose King Island could be connected by wireless telegraphy with Queenscliff. Would not that benefit the Commonwealth generally ? We sometimes hear much about the Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, and other parts of the Pacific. Inquiries that might cost a little money might be necessary to ascertain how many stations were required to connect the principal islands in the Pacific with the Commonwealth. One station in the Commonwealth would serve the purposes of all Australia It seems to me that the amount asked for is reasonable, in view of the vast possibilities that underlie wireless telegraphy. From that point of view, I should not hesitate to go before my electors in South Australia and justify my vote in support of this item, and I have not the slightest doubt that they would be generous and far-seeing enough to say, “ You have done right.”
– I shall not follow Senator Playford’s example in referring to a matter that was dealt with last night, except by way of illustration. The position he takes up is that we should vote the sum asked for because we ought to have confidence in the Postmaster-General. But suppose the Government put on the Estimates £10,000 for the purpose of connecting two cities of the Commonwealth by means of the telephone, without naming them, and suppose when it was asked what places were to be connected we were told that that was to be determined by the PostmasterGeneral, irrespective of Parliament? I venture to say that we should refuse to vote the money. That is precisely the position in which we now are. We are leaving it entirely to the Postmaster-General’s judgment, and taking it out of the control of Parliament, to determine how and where wireless telegraphy shall be installed. Senator McGregor has suggested that if Thursday Island were connected with Papua it would be of advantage to the whole Commonwealth, because the news obtained bv such means could be disseminated all over Australia. But ought not Parliament to have a voice in saying whether it desires that Thursday Island and Papua shall be connected by wireless telegraphy ?
– If we desire it we should say so.
– Precisely. It is a right and proper thing that this Parliament, not the Postmaster-General, should say what it desires in that respect. My main objection is that we are enabling the PostmasterGeneral alone to exeraise what is our prerogative. As a rule Parliament never agrees to any item in an Appropriation Bill without knowing in. what manner and in what part of the Commonwealth the money is to be spent. But in this case we are asked to give the PostmasterGeneral an entire discretion. After the money is voted we cannot recover it, no matter if the policy inaugurated by the Postmaster-General is one of which we disapprove. For these reasons I urge every honorable senator to insist upon further information. There will be no hardship in postponing the work.
– I approach this question with much caution, becauseI know nothing about the cost cf wireless telegraphy or matters connected with it. But a challenge has been thrown out by honorable senators opposite. We have been asked whether we are prepared to vote money for this purpose’, and whether we can justify our action to our electors. I have no hesitation in responding to that challenge. We are asked to vote £[10,000 for the introduction of a system of wireless telegraphy. Whether £[10,000 is too much I cannot say, but I feel perfectly sure that the Postmaster-General would not put such an item in his Estimates without consulting the officers of his Department, who are in a position to ex-, press an opinion. Further, another place - which is supposed to. have the power to control the public purse - has passed the item.
– Surely we should have a word to say.
– I have not said we should not. I simply point to the fact that the item has been scrutinized by another place. It has been suggested .that the Government will inaugurate a system of wireless telegraphy between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. The Minister of Defence has suggested that ‘probably communication will be established with Papua. My position is this : At present every man-of-war in the Australian fleet is fitted with wireless telegraphy. We are to be asked at a later period to vote for a Bill to enable a survey to be made for the purposes of a railway with Western Australia. The Minister of Defence has said in introducing the Bill that the only justification for the construction of the railway would be for defence purposes.
– It must be remembered that that speech has not had the effect of carrying the second reading of the Bill.
– The Government have thought it wise to include the construction of the railway in their Defence policy.
– That does not make it wise.
– Possibly anything which the present Government would think wise the honorable senator would think unwise.
– Under certain circumstances, that is possible.
– If honorable senators think that it is justifiable from a Defence, stand-point, to spend £[20,000 in surveying the route of that railway, then the expenditure of £[10,000 on an installation of wireless telegraphy is equally justifiable from that stand-point. The expenditure of the money on a survey would yield no immediate result, but the expenditure of this £[10,000 would produce some result, because it would be the means of establishing communication with the ships which we subsidize to defend our coast. In the interests of trade and commerce, however, the expenditure is quite justifiable. Not one or two, but many of the large mail steamers are fitted with the necessary apparatus for conveying messages by this method. When they come on to the Australian coast their apparatus is quite useless, except to communicate with ships similarly equipped. A short time ago, owing to urgent representations which had been made to me, I had to wait upon the Postmaster-General because ships were arriving from Great Britain and elsewhere without having been signalled. They were arriving in port before the merchants and consignees had received any notice that they were on the coast. Why ? Because, owing to its having laid upon a jagged bottom, the cable between Althorpe Island and the mainland had been worn out. Ever since the Commonwealth took’ over the cable and telegraph lines, there has been no communication between Adelaide and Althorpe Island.
– Are the Government going to connect Kangaroo Island?
– That is not necessary, because there is a cable laid between the island and the mainland. Today the ships do not strike Kangaroo Island on their arrival. The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the first point which ships strike is Neptune Island, which has no communication with the mainland, and that the second point is Althorpe Island. The Federal Government have taken up the position that it would be too expensive to re-lay the cable to the latter island, and that even if they did, there would be no guarantee as to how long it would last. If this sum of £[10,000 is required for the purpose of introducing wireless telegraphy and making experiments, what better places could be selected for that purpose than those, islands, first in the interests of defence, secondly in the interests of trade and commerce, and thirdly, but chiefly, in the interests of the safety of the people who travel round the coast.
– Would this vote be sufficient for the lot?
– No ; and I did not say so.
– Has the honorable senator any voice in saying which place would be selected first for making the experiment ?
– I do not want a voice. The Government are intrusted by the country and the Parliament with the administration of certain Departments. They have the advice of expert officers as to the best places in which experiments should be made. Practically they say to Parliament, “ We do not feel absolutely sure that wireless telegraphy is a success. We want to make some experiments, and, therefore, we ask for this vote.” That is where experiments could be made. I. do not think that £10.000 would be a penny too much to vote for the introduction of the system, and when it had been proved to be a success, then we could decide upon how much farther we should go. I shall vote against the amendment.
– I do not wish to take up time for more than a minute, and I rise with considerable diffidence even to do that. There is one aspect of this question which I think has not received much attention, and that is the necessarily recurring cost of keeping up the instal lation when it was once effected.
– How can that be found out until an experiment has been made ?
– I have not risen to find out what itis going to cost, but simply to point out that the voting of this item would involve a considerable annual expenditure for keeping up the instal lation. Honorable senators may not be aware of what the cost would be.
– We want to find that out, and that is what this money is wanted for.
– I think that the information could be obtained and laid before Parliament.
– Could it be obtained without money ?
– Inquiries could be made without money. The up-keep of an installation to New Guinea would be at least £1,000 a year. An engineer, an operator, and an attendant would be required at each station, and when honorable senators are prepared lightlv to vote £10,000 for the purpose of making certain installations, they ought to remember that it will involve a continual recurring cost to the people.
– Is it going to be worth it?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.The honorable senator might well ask that question, because he made the ridiculous proposal that we should connect King Island with, Queenscliff, and the New Hebrides and the Solomon Islands.
– I did not make any suggestion of the kind.
-Let us divide, and either strike out the item or let it stand.
– It ought to be remembered that an installation, wherever it might be made, would involve an annual cost of between £500 and £1,000 for its up-keep. Therefore we ought to know if the Government intend to connect some outlandish place like King Island, which would not pay.
– There are more white people in King Island than in New Guinea, and better people, too.
– It is a barren island in Bass Strait. If an installation were made there, it would mean a heavy expenditure for a very small result. The question of the up-keep of a wireless telegraphy station requires to receive more consideration than does the mere question of an installation.
.- An attempt has been made to make it appear that those who intend to vote for the item are going to commit a very serious mistake. I confess that, when I looked at the item for the first time, it occurred to me that it was quite unusual to ask the Senate to sign a cheque for £10,000, and let the Postmaster-General do as he liked with the money. But when we consider that it is quite outside the run of ordinary items, it puts quite a different aspect on the matter.
– We ought to be more cautious.
– I do not think so, although I admit that the subject-matter of the item is very debatable. Certainly there is room for differing as to whether it is correct to pass the item or not. The Postmaster-General, speaking with almost brutal candour, through Senator Playford, has said. “ Pass the item. I really do not know where I am going to spend the money. I admit that it is largely required for the purpose of making experiments, but I am not “going to do anything I should not do.” To a verv large extent wireless telegraphy is still in its infancy. For the next vear or two any installation would be very largely a matter of experiment. After all. I think there is some justification for the Minister of Defence in asking us to pass the item.
– Let us get to a vote.
– I would advise the honorable senator in future to stick to Papua, and leave King Island alone. It may not be altogether ridiculous to contemplate a very early installation of wireless telegraphy between King Island and Victoria. Within the last few weeks I was a member of a deputation which waited upon the Postmaster-General to suggest better means of communication between King Island and Tasmania or Victoria, and one method suggested was wireless telegraphy. He said it would be a matter for inquiry, and that, if he found that the expenditure would be justifiable, he might accede to the request. Of course, it is entirely a matter for the fullest inquiry, and if it were found justifiable to spend any portion of this item in making an experiment between King Island and either Tasmania or Victoria. I have no doubt that, in his wisdom, the Postmaster-General. or his successor - for probably he will have a successor next year - would spend a portion of this sum in that direction. I feel justified in voting for the item.
– I do not rise to argue the question any more, but merely to state the case so that every honorable senator mav know exactly under what circumstances he is asked to vote. I am going to assume, unless Senator Playford contradicts me or rises to correct me, first of all, that he gave the Committee no information as to where the money would be spent.
– Because he does not know.
– I say, further, that the Minister gives us no indication as to where and how the money is to be spent. Is the Minister content to acquiesce in the position that he will give us no information as to how the money is to be spent ? I understand that Senator Playford absolutely declines to tell us whether the money is to be spent entirely for experimental purposes, or partly for those purposes and partly for something in the nature of a permanent installation. If the Minister desires to correct me, it will not take him two minutes to do so.
– The PostmasterGeneral says in his memo, that he will be able to use this money to call for fenders.
– I am glad to be reminded of that fact. I shall assume that tenders may be called for the expenditure of part of the £10,000 without Parliament having any voice whatever in the framing of, or the acceptance of, the tenders. Unless Senator Playford chooses to throw some further light on the subject, Ishall assume that that is the position, namely, that we do not know where or how the money is to be spent, and that we shall net have an opportunity to discuss any tenders. Under the circumstances, honorable senators may vote for the item if they like, but they ought to clearly and unmistakeably know the circumstances.
– I have told the honorable senator the facts, and he can draw his own conclusions.
– And the Minister will tell us no more?
– I have read the Postmaster-General’s minute four or five times.
– I do not think that the information, if it can be called information, which the Government have vouchsafed justifies us in voting ,£10,000. At the same time, there have been demonstrations of the practicability of wireless telegraphy between Tasmania and Victoria, and sooner or later that means of communication may come into general use, where it is not expedient or commercially economical to lay cables. Under the circumstances, I feel justified in voting for the reduced sum of £5,000. I make this explanation, because I am of opinion that, having put our hands to the plough, we should not turn back. If the Government were to frankly ask for ,£4,000 or £5.000’ for the purpose of making further experiments, which the Commonwealth Government could very well, and, probably, ought to make, I do not think we should refuse to vole the money.
– The Commonwealth has not spent any money yet.
– That is so; the expenditure has been gladly undertaken by those who hold the rights to particular systems of wireless telegraphy, and up to the presenttheir work has been satisfactory.
– It is their place to demonstrate the practicability of the system.
– They have done so. There are places where cables have been laid, and have been damaged several times; for instance, between Swan Island, where there is an important lighthouse, and the mainland of Tasmania. There are other places similarly situated where it might be a matter of urgency, ‘when the cables have parted, to establish more permanent communication such as that afforded by wireless telegraphy. It will be seen, therefore, that there are some reasons for intrusting the Postmaster-General with a sum of money for purposes of the kind, which cannot be definitely described without further expert knowledge. The criticism which the Government have received on this matter is thoroughly well deserved. The Minister of Defence is in the habit of bringing important questions before the Senate in a most slipshod manner. After placing on the table proposals for usto worry at without proper explanation, he later obtains information which he ought to have had at hand at first. The honorable gentleman now contends that we ought to pass the motion, because he has been “brutally frank” enough to say that he knows nothing about the matter. Had it not been for the speech of Senator Guthrie, we should have been justified in throwing the item out ; but under the circumstances I shall support the reduced vote of £5,000.
Question - That the item, “ Wireless Telegraphy, £10,000,” be reduced by £5,000 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question; - That the item, “ Wireless telegraphy, £10,000,” stand part of the Schedule - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The Treasury: Government Printing Office, Machinery and Plant.
Division 6 (The Treasury), £1,500.
.- I should like some information as to the item of £1,500 for machinery and plant for Government Printing Office, and works in connexion therewith.
– This amount isnot ear-marked for any particular purpose, but is to be used principally for the purchase of type and type metal. The Treasurer has already spent upwards of £100 on the purchase of numbering machines, which, it is expected, will save their cost in two years. This expenditure of £1,500 is to be under the control of the Treasurer, and it is anticipated that a considerable portion will be devoted to the purchase of type, metal, and other material necessary to keep the printing office of the Commonwealth in good order.
.- It is about time the Committee was made aware of the manner in which the printing required for the Commonwealth is conducted. Some five years ago some thousands of pounds were voted for the purchase of type, printing material, and linotype, monotype, and printing machines and presses. That money was voted in the belief that the machinery and type purchased would be utilized for Commonwealth purposes only. I am informed, and, I believe, reliably informed, that the present methods adopted in connexion with this work are anything but business-like - that they are somewhat on the “ go-as-you-please “ principle. If rumour be correct, the State Government have purchased little or no type during the last five years, and type bought and paid for by the Commonwealth has been extensively used for State purposes. Those who know anything of the work of a printing-office will admit that when types become mixed up it becomes almost impossible to use them, and if they were mixed it would be almost impossible to pick out the Commonwealth type from the State type. If the type is being extensively used for State purposes it can now be of little or r.o value to the Commonwealth.
– Are we voting money for type which the State is using?
– We are. I have reliable information that during the last five years the State Government have purchased no type.
– Because we have been voting money for the purchase of type? ‘
– That is so. In addition to thai, the linotype and monotype machines belonging to the Commonwealth have been worked at high pressure for State as well as for Commonwealth work, and for a considerable time have very seldom been idle.
– Is the State using them in a Commonwealth building?
– If for the privilege of being allowed to occupy a small building in proximity to the State Government Printing Office the Commonwealth plant and machinery is being used for State printing we are paying very dearly indeed for the privilege referred to. Who is responsible for looking after the property in these buildings which belongs to the Commonwealth ? I believe that there is only one gazetted Commonwealth officer who has any responsibility at all for the Commonwealth printing plant. He is in charge of the linotype department. I do not say that those who are in charge of the printing machines are not competent, and do not thoroughly understand their work, but if these machines have been driven in the way I am informed they have during the last five years the plant must have considerably depreciated. I understand that one-half of the time they are occupied with State work and the other half of the time with Commonwealth work. The work, I understand, is given out in this way : There are a number of printers, machinists, and operators ; foremen give out work to the employes, and the time is taken during which they are employed on State work and on Commonwealth work, but it is almost impossible that the time occupied on Commonwealth and on State work can be accurately kept, and the bookkeeping system adopted must be. entirely unreliable.
– Does the honorable senator suggest the establishment of a Federal Printing Office?
– I do absolutely suggest that this Department of the Commonwealth Service should be run on the same lines as every other Commonwealth Department.
– A new Department and more expense.
– I believe that we should save a considerable sum of money if we had our own Printing Department.
– Is none of the State machinery or plant used in the performance of work for the Commonwealth ?’
– I believe that machinery belonging to the State is used for Commonwealth work, but it is a most unsatisfactory way in which to conduct the business.
– Do we pay for the use of the State machinery ?
– We find the type apparently.
– I do not know that we pay anything for the use of the
State machinery, but I do know that the State does not pay anything for the use of the Commonwealth machinery.
– It makes the muddle only more pronounced.
– It is impossible that satisfactory results can be obtained from the adoption of such a system.
– Is not our printing done magnificently ?
– I am not complaining of the way in which the printing is turned out.
– Do not let us have any more Departments.
– I cannot understand that reasoning. No matter how unsatisfactory this Department may be, Senator Dobson contends that we should let the confusion continue, rather than have a new Department conducted on business lines.
– Its conduct is neither confused nor unsatisfactory.
– If Senator Dobson is satisfied that machinery which cost the Commonwealth thousands of pounds should be used for State work, with little or no return he is not viewing the matter from a Commonwealth point of view. I do not suppose that the State would have any objection to Commonwealth printing being separated from State printing. In the interests of both Commonwealth and State, it is time that we raised our voices in protest against the present happygolucky, go-as-you-please system. The probability is that in a very short time valuable type, the property of the Commonwealth will become almost obsolete, as it is employed in doing State as well as Commonwealth work.
– ‘Can the honorable senator say what is the value of the State . machinery employed in doing Commonwealth work?
– I cannot. But I can say that whilst the Commonwealth machinery is comparatively up-to-date, much of the State machinery is almost obsolete.
– Does the honorable senator know whether there is a reciprocal arrangement between the Commonwealth and State Governments as to the way in which the work is to be done ?
– There is such an arrangement.
– There is no doubt a reciprocal arrangement between the two
Governments, but the first duty of the Government Printer is to his State and the Government that employs him. The Commonwealth work is to him and to all the employes in the office a secondary consideration. I do not say that thev are not concerned about Commonwealth work, but they are responsible to the State Government, and not to the Commonwealth Government. There is no inventory taken of our property, and there is no Commonwealth employe in charge of the type or machinery.
– How are the wages paid?
– By time. The employes get a docket for the time they are employed on State work and on Commonwealth work. There are computers who make up the time, and when the accounts are sent iii the Commonwealth pays for the amount with which it is charged, and the State Government for the amount charged for State printing. In all the circumstances, I say that it is almost impossible that under such a system the time occupied on State and Common wealth work respectively can be estimated with absolute accuracy, or in such a way as to give satisfaction.
– If the work is being done fairly, a mistake on one side on one day may be balanced by a mistake on the other side the next day.
– The Minister agrees with Senator Findley that the system adopted is a happy-go-lucky one.
– It “ could not be otherwise. Is it not about time that the way in which property, which cost the Commonwealth over £30,000, is being utilized should be looked into, and that we should put an ‘end to the present confused1 system bv establishing a printing office for the printing work of the ‘Commonwealth? Who is responsible for the performance of Commonwealth work at the printing office? If mistakes are made, who is called to account for them? Who is called to account for any damage which may take place to machinery, type, or other property belonging to the Commonwealth in the State Government Printing Office?
– There is a “Commonwealth officer there, who looks after our interests.
– That officer is in charge of the linotype machines, which are operated in a building apart from the main printing office. His time is fully occupied in the performance of his duties in that building, and the Minister must be aware that in the main building there is Commonwealth machinery worth thousands of pounds which this Commonwealth officer may not see more than once in a month.
– It is mostly State machinery.
– It is not.
– Undoubtedly most of the machinery in the main building is State machinery.
– In the small building the linotype and monotype machines are kept, but in the main building there are Commonwealth printing presses’, machines, and type. The Minister does not know what amount of type there is there, nor how it is being utilized. I suppose that if the Ministry or any of the Commonwealth Departments have printing to be done, they do not send the order to the Commonwealth officer, and instruct him to carry it out ?
– No, it is sent to the State Government Printer.
– He is recognised as the principal, and the Commonwealth officer is recognised as his subordinate.
– We pay something towards the salary of the State Government Printer.
– I find no fault with that. If we give him work to do, he is entitled to some payment for it Let us have a printing office of our own, with machinery and plant of our own under the control of our own officers. If that is not to be done, let an inventory be taken of the property which we now possess, what it cost originally, and what it is worth to-day. I hope that other honorable senators will have something to say on this matter, because I consider that the present method of conducting our business is highly unsatisfactory.
– Last year and the year before I brought this matter under the notice of the Senate. In supporting what Senator Findley has said, I point out that, in addition to the value of the machinery which the Commonwealth has lying in the small building close to the Government Printing Office, we have scattered all over the office itself a large number of costly modern machines, which have become so valuable to the State that they are in constant use. But we have no one to supervise the working of them, no one to see that they are not damaged, and no one to act as a Commonwealth computer to check the State computer as to the amount of work done by the State for us. When these new Commonwealth machines were brought out and set up it naturally took a considerable amount of time to teach men to work them. Before they had learned to manipulate them properly, some damage was done to the machines. I have tried to find out whether under our system of bookkeeping any arrangement has been made whereby an amount for depreciation is annually written off the value of the machines. But I cannot ascertain whether there is or is not such an arrangement. As these machines are being worked by members of the State staff, we should find ourselves in this peculiar position, if it became necessary to set up an office of our own : That the machines were more or less worn out, that parts were broken, and that we had no men of our own to work them. It is obvious that the members of the State staff, some of ‘them being entitled to pensions and other privileges, would not be likely to transfer their services to the Commonwealth. We have paid for teaching these men to work our machines.
– And to do our work.
– But the greater part of the work done by the machines is, as a matter of fact, done for the State. We have no check on the State in respect to what it charges us for the work done. I do not for a moment suggest that it would wilfully treat us badly, but I complain that the present system is not businesslike. We have no check over the material used, and no allowance is made to the Commonwealth for the new labour-saving machinery which it has purchased to do its work, and wh’ich is used to do the State work also. The amount of money spent by the Commonwealth on printing machinery, according to a return supplied at my request last year, may be stated as follows: - Sixteen linotype machines cost ,£14,004 7s. 9d. ; three monotpye machines, £[2,633 I3S- 2d. ; four printing presses, £3,260; four book-bind: ing machines, £[771 ; general printing plant, ,£11,000. Almost as much money has been spent in general printing plant as in the linotype, monotype, and bookbinding machines. The expenditure includes a large number of modern machines, some small and some large.
– What is the total amount ?
– Does that include type ?
– I think not ; type is purchased from time to time as required. In addition to that unsatisfactory state of things, I wish to point out that at the time the Commonwealth proposed to purchase printing machinery of its own, the Government Printer advertised in the chief cities of the States for linotype operators. He mentioned the rate of wages that they would receive. It was announced, I think rightly, that applications would be received from linotype operators in all the States. Consequently, a number of men came over from the other States to work in the office. I know that some men came over from Western Australia. That was a very fair arrangement. But the first time there was any difficulty in connexion with their work, they approached the Federal Treasurer, in whose Department they were. But they were told that they were not Commonwealth employes. Consequently thev went to the State Government Printer, from whom they learnt that they were not wholly State employe’s either. In fact, the position became so acute, that, although the wages were fairly good, the feeling of unrest was so great that the men who came over from Western Australia, with the exception of two, have returned. Several to my knowledge have gone back to Queensland. In my opinion, there ought to be an understanding that if they show ability, there will be some chance of their receiving permanent appointments. If we do not have some arrangement of the kind there will be a danger that, if at any time we desire to establish an office of our own, we shall experience considerable difficulty in obtaining the services of good operators. That may easily happen in the printing trade as it has happened in other trades through the demand for first-class men becoming great.
– Have they not yet been definitely allocated either to the Commonwealth or to the State service?
– No. They work, perhaps, for three or four hours on State work, and then for a couple of hours on Commonwealth work. At the end of each fortnight, each man receives a State docket and a Commonwealth docket with two par cels of money ; and they have to sign the two pay dockets for the money received.
– Is there anything wrong in that?
– But is it a businesslike method?
– They are paid by results.
– If a better arrangement is not made, the Senate ought to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the work of the Government Printing Office, and to furnish a report, in order that steps may be taken to put our work upon a proper business-like footing.
– While we shall all agree that there ought to be sufficient Commonwealth officers to look after our printing plant, and to see that it is kept in good order, I think that it is also fair for us to agree that the State shall use our machinery. Honorable senators will, I think, assent to that proposition when they remember that long before we had any plant of our own, we made use of the State plant to do Commonwealth work. It would be very ungracious on our part if any objection were made to the State using our plant now. Apart from that, I am under the impression that, in spite of the modern machinery which the Commonwealth has purchased, the State has, perhaps, more plant than we have.
– Considerably more.
– Who is to know?
– I am assuming that both the Commonwealth and the State have valuable plant in the printing office. But for us to say that the State shall not use our plant, seeing that we have used theirs, would, in my opinion, be a oneeyed way to look at the matter.
– Does the Commonwealth Government pay rent for the office which it occupies?
– I understand that it pays no rent. It merely pays for the work done. Of course, I quite agree that we should have sufficient Commonwealth officers to supervise and to see that the work done for us is charged for fairly. That is only reasonable. But to find fault with the State officers for making use of our plant, seeing that we had the use of theirs, wou;ld be most unreasonable, especially in view of the fact that probablv a portion of the State plant is requisite for doing our work.
.- Senator Findley has urged that the present arrangements in connexion with the Government Printing Office are unsatisfactory, and lead to confusion, and that the Commonwealth has no inventory of the plant which it has purchased. Senator Croft has argued that the machinery which the Commonwealth has purchased is scattered all over the office, and that there is no one to look after it. If there is any irregularity, and our plant is not being looked after as it should be, we have to thank Senator Findley for bringing the matter under our notice. But 1 am totally opposed to the idea that we should establish a. printing office of our own. One of the most monstrous things I have heard in this Parliament was the statement made two or three years ago by a Minister that the Commonwealth and the States could not work together for the purpose of carrying out public works. The people of the States and of the Commonwealth are the same people, and our expenses are borne practically out of the same revenue, although a certain portion of it is earmarked for State, and a certain portion for Commonwealth, purposes. We have been told that £31,000 has been spent on printing machinery. But we have not been told what is the value of the machinery owned bv the Slate.
– It is worth double that amount.
– We have not been told what the buildings cost either.
– What has that got to do with the question?
– I venture to characterize some of the remarks which we have heard as most ungenerous.
– Most business-like, though.
– Let me give an illustration. I recollect that some time ago Sir William Lyne declared that he would have nothing to do with public works - that lie would not even consent to the building of a post-office - unless his own officers were responsible. After a great deal of discussion. Parliament consented to the appointment of an Inspector-General of Public Works, and a number of other officers. In fact, Sir William Lyne insisted upon creating a Federal Department. But only a fortnight ago Sir William Lyne - I forget in connexion with what matter - said that Stale officers might be trusted to look after and protect Commonwealth interests. That was the same Minister who, a few years ago, had insisted upon the necessity of appointing Commonwealth Public Works officers. It appears to me that my honorable friends, Senator Croft and Senator Findley, are arguing in the same direction. I should like to know what Senator Croft means by saying that our machines are’ “ scattered about “ the Government Printing Office. Would not they be scattered over various rooms if we had a Federal Department? Again and again during the past six years in the Senate, and the other House, members of Parliament .have expressed unbounded satisfaction at the way in which the Hansard staff has done its work, and at the way in which that publication, and other printing, have been produced by the State Government Printing Office.
– Hear, hear ! We make no complaint on that score.
-We ought, in my opinion, to do everything we can to work in co-operation with the State’s. We ought to keep down the cost of the Federal government. It seems to me a monstrous idea to suggest that we cannot trust a printing office, almost next door to this Parliament, to do all our printing, without having a spy there in the form of a Federal officer to see that the time is properly kept. If it is difficult to keep the time, there might be an officer employed to check the work, but if we cannot trust the Victorian Government Printer - an old and experienced officer, who I suppose gets a salary of £800 - to divide the work between the State and the Commonwealth, then what is he fit for? Is it not offering an insult to him to say he is not fit to do that? Would it not be folly to .appoint an officer at a cost of £4 or £5 per week to check a simple thing of that sort.
– The honorable senator does not understand it or he would not say that it is a simple thing.
– I am astonished at the views I have heard expressed here tonight.
– The honorable senator has not heard the views to which he refers expressed to-night.
– I am founding my remarks upon what I heard from Senators Croft and Findley.
– No one else heard anything of what the honorable senator is saying.
– I think that my honorable friend must have heard those honorable senators use the words “ confusion,” and “unsatisfactory,” and talk about the instruments being scattered about and of no inventory having been made. I urge honorable senators not to listen to stupid worthless arguments in favour of creating a new Federal Department.
– There is only one way out of the alleged confusion, and that is to establish a Commonwealth Printing Office. I think it must be admitted that if we were permanent ly located anywhere the composite system which now prevails would be unsatisfactory. But it must be borne in mind that we are only here tentatively. The argument for establishing a permanent Department in co-operation with the State points to what at Jeast one of the States is verv much afraid of, and what would be very wrong in itself, and that is the fixing of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne. We ought to have all our arrangements as easily transferable as possible, in order that whenever the time came to permanently locate the Federal Capital - either100 miles or further from Sydney, or at Sydney, it might be - we could do that with , as little expense as possible, and obviouslv the more complete the Departments we created in Melbourne, the more difficult that operation would be. With reference to the printing for the Commonwealth, it will be remembered that in the early stages the whole of our work was done under very high pressure with the machinery that the State had. It had a very ample supply of machinery for its own requirements, but it had not provided machinery to meet the necessities of two distinctGovernments, the other rapidly becoming bigger than itself so far as printing was concerned. When it was necessary, as it soon became necessary, to largely augment the plant it could not be expected that the State would undertake all the extra cost, knowing that in the ordinary course of events the Federal Parliament would be removing to some other place, and would require the additional plant for its purposes. Therefore, it was necessary that the Commonwealth should undertake some responsibility in connexion with the enlargement of the concern, which it did in the purchase of a considerable quantity of necessary machinery.
– To the amount of
– That, I venture to say, is a very small sum compared with the aggregate cost of the plant and machinery in the Government Printing Office.
– I doubt that.
– Without knowing the facts, I should say that the aggregate cost was more than three times that sum.
– Oh, no; it is nearly all obsolete.
– That is a very rash statement. I agree with Senator Dobson that the work done for us at the Printing Office is admirable, and it is absurd to say that it could be performed with obsolete machinery.
– On what machinery is it performed ?
– On the two sets, but the State has very much the larger proportion, according to the statement of Senator Findley. I agree, in fact we must all agree, that a separate Department, if it were possible without unduly burdening the Commonwealth in this transition stage, would be a better thing, but of the two evils, the establishment of a complete and separate printing office for the Commonwealth would be the greater.
– We ought to find out which is the cheaper.
– I quite agree with the honorable se’nator, if there is any doubt on that point, but that cannot be done on these Estimates. If the abuses are as great and widespread as Senator Findley has alleged the only way to ascertain the facts is by instituting an inquiry. That cannot be accomplished either by a discussion or by omitting the item. The better course would be to submit a specific motion, and bring up concrete facts more definite and complete than those we have had. I am not in a position to saythat there may not be great cause for complaint.
– Surely we do not want any huckstering with the Victorian Parliament ?
– No. Speaking not as a Victorian, but as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, I admit that we are necessarily under a very great obligation to the Victorian Government. They met us in a most gracious and generous manner, when, if I may so express it, we came as a necessity of the Constitution to Victoria to live. Some persons said they did so with the view of fixing us here. I do not think that there is any justification for that remark. I think that the action of the State Government has been prompted by a truly generous Federal spirit. I deprecate any suggestion that the State is imposing upon the Commonwealth.
– It is all the other way.
– I will not say that it is all the other way, but I dare say that by this time arrangements have been so completed that each party to the composite work which is carried on meets fairly its own obligations. I do not think that the Commonwealth is now under any particular obligation financially to the State. I am not aware that there is any charge for housing the plant or for such supervision as the State provides.
– The trouble is that we are not aware of many things.
– That is true ; and this is not the way to get the information desired.
– I suppose that the Minister can give us the details.
– Without reflecting upon the Minister, I think it is somewhat unreasonable for Senator Dobson to assume that he can. The Executive enjoys the confidence of Parliament, and we have a right to assume until proof to the contrary is presented that this Department, with others, is being administered with care, watchfulness, and necessary supervision. If a question were presented to the Minister in the Senate, I dare say that it would elicit most complete information. We cannot expect any one Minister to know the business of all the Departments. All we have a reasonable right to expect is that when difficulties are presented, the leader of the Senate will obtain information for us.
– Did not the Minister read a statement last year explaining the position ?
– Yes; and it can all be seen in Hansard. The question was discussed here for hours, and a complete explanation was given.
– The objections which have been raised seem to me to be unfairly exacting. I do not say that everything in the Printing Office is as it should be. It is reasonable that under existing circumstances there should be some uncertainty as to the exact use and application of each machine where two complete sets are employed conjointly to do the work of two Governments. If the State were to say, “ We are sorry that you are dissatisfied ; but for the future you can do your own work on your own machines,” we should immediately be placed in a difficulty. Of course, we should place ourselves in a position to get our work done, but the immediate result would be that we would not be able to do our work for some time, and to equip ourselves for that purpose would entail an expenditure of probably twice as much as we have already5 incurred.
– I rise to corroborate every word which has fallen from Senator Trenwith. I think it is well that a representative of another State should say that we quite appreciate the generosity with which we have been treated by the Government of Victoria. This discussion suggests that we should hasten the establishment of a Federal Capital as much as possible, in order that we may have our own printing office. It must be remembered that we are not charged rent for the use of the Victorian Printing Office. Probably Senator Findley knows a great deal more about the state of the printing plant than any one in the chamber. I do not find fault with what he has said, but I think that the time has come for us to pass the item without further delay, and to admit, as I believe we all do that the Victorian Government have done everything which could reasonably be expected.
– Before the question is put, I desire to remind the Committee that the only thing we have heard from the Minister of Defence is that he believes he is correct in saying that a sum of £100 has been expended either on type or in printing. All we know is that we are asked to vote £1,500, and the Minister justifies the requestby saying that £100 has been, or is, going to be spent. Did Senator Playford not mention £100?
– I mentioned other items of expenditure as well. The honorable senator has not paid sufficient attention.
– We get so little information from the Minister that I can assure him that I never miss any that he gives. The only expenditure that the Minister mentioned was that of £100.
– I started by mentioning the sum of £1,500.
– That is the sum mentioned in the item ; and, as an instance of the expenditure, Senator Playford mentioned the £100, leaving unexplained the destination of the remaining £1,400.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– Senator Findley is to be congratulated on having placed before the Seriate the state of confusion that exists in the Government Printing Office. I am not going to vote this £1,500, and thus add to the confusion, and to the difficulty in the way of identifying the machinery or type which belongs to the Commonwealth.
– There is, probably, three times as much State type as there is Commonwealth type used in conjunction.
– Neither the Commonwealth nor the State desires to have the best or the worst of the bargain, and I am only calling attention to the state of confusion into which affairs have fallen. I shall oppose the item, simply because Senator Findley has made out a good case, and because we ought not to perpetuate such an unsatisfactory system.
– In spite of the explanation which the Minister has given - I think he termed it an explanation - we are entitled to some information in order to allay the doubts which have been created bv the pertinent criticism addressed to the Committee by Senator Findley and Senator Croft. The statements which have been made raise many questions ; and I expected the Minister to attempt to give, at least, some explanation which is. necessary to determine whether or not this is a vote which ought properly to be passed. I am entirely with Senator Dobson in his desire for economy, but it has not been proved that the present system is the most economical.
– Surely it does not need any proof?
– Senator Dobson expressed the opinion that it is only reasonable that the State and the Commonwealth should co-operate. We all indorse that sentiment: but the statements of Senator Findlev show that, as a matter of fact, there is’ no’ system of co-operation. On the contrary, there appears to be no definite organization; and that view was confirmed by the Minister when he interjected that the whole thing is a sort of “ goasyouplease “ arrangement. Sufficient has been said, in the absence of any answer from the Minister, to justify a call for inquiry. I do not know enough to affirm that the time has arrived to start a Commonwealth printing office, or to say whether that would necessarily be the more expensive course. But if the Minister is not in a position to give any information, it is, I think, incumbent on the Senate to take steps to obtain information by some other means.
– Give us one statement that requires answering.
– The whole of Senator Findley ‘s statements require answering. I do not claim the intimate knowledge which Senator Findley possesses of the technical working of a printing office, but I do know what happens when one font of type gets mixed up with another.
– Who says the type is mixed up?
– Senator Findley said so.
– Senator Findley does not know.
– I am entitled to assume that Senator Findley, when he rose, had, or thought he had, some substantial ground for the statements he intended to make ; and if the picture the honorable senator drew is correct, the type is being mixed up in a most hopeless fashion.
– Is there any Commonwealth type there at all?
– In view of that question, I need not go any further. Is the Committee prepared to go on voting sums of money for we know not what? Senator Dobson, that staunch apostle of economy, says that economy is to be conserved by voting any sum the Minister asks for, without our knowing what plant or machinery we have now, or what is going to be done with the money. The statement has been made that the Commonwealth makes no payment for the use of the machinery in the State printing office; but I should like to know whether, when Commonwealth work is done on State plant, a percentage is not added to the cost for the use of that plant. I do not know whether there is such a practice or not.
– No, nothing of the sort. The machines are used partly for Commonwealth work and partly for State work, and no charge is made on either side for their use.
– That is one point, at any rate, on which I have succeeded in getting a definite statement from the Minister.
– I told honorable senators all about the printing office last year.
– Surely the Minister cannot expect us to remember even his valuable words for twelve months.
– The honorable senator will have another opportunity to discuss the matter on the Estimates
– After the £1,500 has been spent ?
– Cannot the honorable senator trust the Ministry ?
– Not if the Ministry carry on their business in the way described.
– The honorable senator is only wasting time.
– It is my business to see that the Ministry do not waste money. I am sent here to devote my time, as far as possible, to stopping wasteful expenditure, and I desire to know what this item is for.
– According to the Minister, most of the money is to be spent on metal.
– Senator Clemons asked whether there is a corresponding vote on the State Estimates. Linotype machines use up a considerable quantity of metal, and I should like to know whether the Commonwealth is finding the whole of the metal used for the State work.
– Nobody knows.
– I am certain that the State does not desire that the Commonwealth should be continually providing plant, unless there is a reciprocal arrangement.
– There is a reciprocal arrangement, under which we use each other’s type, and charge the cost of labour and material.
– Under that arrangement, when fresh metal is required, who supplies it?
– I think it is a case df about half and half, though I do not know exactly.
– That answer confirms everything Senator Findley has said as to the absolute confusion which prevails.
– No, it only shows that the Minister, as is natural, ‘ does not know all the details.
– If the linotypes are used for both State and Commonwealthwork, does the Commonwealth find the whole of the raw material ?
– The honorable senator cannot expect me to answer questions as to every little detail.
– I have reached the stage when I do not expect the Minister to answer anything. We have never yet had a satisfactory explanation of the item from the honorable gentleman, who has practically told us with great candour, as he told me on another occasion, “ I have told you all I know, and Iknow nothing.” We cannot, of course, have an inquiry at this stage, but I hope the Minister will give us an assurance that some investigation will be made into the many statements which have been made here, so that he may be enabled, at a short date, to offer some explanation to honorable senators. If the Minister does not do so, I suggest that honorable senators who think with me, should take steps to have a committee appointed, or to ask the Printing Committee to inquire and report. At present 1 can only regard the position as exceedingly unsatisfactory.
. -In answer to questions raised by Senator Givens and Senator Croft last year, I went fully into this question, and honorable senators appeared to be perfectly satisfied with the explanation I gave. All the criticism that has been offered to-night simply amounts to an allegation that present and past Treasurers, including Sir George Turner, have failed to look after the interests of the Commonwealth as they should have done, and have allowed the business in the Government Printing Office to get into such a fearful state of confusion as to occasion loss. I had to go and see Sir George Turner on the subject, and he expressed the opinion, with which I agree, that it would be much preferable to have our own printing office, managed bv our own officers. But at the same time, Sir George Turner assured me that the expense of such an undertaking was prohibitive, and that the arrangement, which he made at the inauguration of the Commonwealth withthe
Spring-streetoffice, although not absolutely satisfactory, was the best possible under all the circumstances. The men at the GovernmentPrinting Office are in the employ cf the State, with the exception df one man, who, because of his special knowledge, is engaged by the Commonwealth to look after some of the principal machines. The arrangement with the Spring-street office is reciprocal ; that is, we use their type and machinery, some of which is quite equal to our own, and they use a certain amount of our plant. The paper and other necessary material are, I understand, supplied from our own stores ; and the men are paid according to the time they are employed. If a man is employed on Commonwealth work for an hour he gets a docket on which that is stated. If he is employed on State work, he gets a similar docket. When the wages are to be paid, the men bring up their dockets and show that they are entitled to payment for so many hours’ work. Then the timeduring which they were working on Commonwealth work is paid for by the Commonwealth, and the time during which they were employed on State work is paid for by the State. I can assure honorable senators that I shall bring the statements made by Senator Findley and others to the effect that there is some confusion in the conduct of the business under the notice of the Treasurer. I am quite confident that he will look into the matter, and when I submit the Estimates to the Senate, as I shall have to do shortly, I shall be prepared with information on the subject. I am willing to supply honorable senators with all the information I can if I am given sufficient notice. In this case, I guarantee that the Treasurer will have the matters referred to thoroughly looked into, and I shall be able to supply honorable senators with information. If it is found that the reciprocal arrangement under which we are working is a fair one, well and good, but if it is found that we are paying more than we ought to pay, and the arrangement is not satisfactory, we shall make some alteration.
Defence Department : Special Defence Material.
Division No. 7 (Defence Department), £130,000.
– Will the Minister inform the Committee how the various sums are to be allocated to the different States? Is there any allocation of these large items?
– I take, for example, the vote of £53,040 for field artillery, guns and ammunition. Can the honorable senator say how that sum is to be divided amongst the States? The Minister must recognise that this is a very large vote, and one of the largest votes for special defence material that has ever been submitted in a similarBill.
– A similar vote has been passed for threeyears running.
– I should like to know where the money is going to be spent.
– Is it not in continuation of ageneral scheme ?
– I should imagine so, but with respect to the very large vote for field artillery, the Minister should, I think, explain how it is to be distributed amongst the different States.
– I cannot say what sum will be spent on material for a particular State.
– I should be satisfied if the Minister would explain the method he proposes to adopt for the distribution of all this material.
– I think that the vote is ‘ sufficiently explicit. I could give an explanation with respect to every one of the items, but I cannot tell the honorable senator, for instance, to which States a certain quantity of saddletrees, bits and accoutrements will go. They will be provided wherever they are required. The field artillery guns and ammunition will be distributed to the different States as they are required, and every State will get its share, but I am unable to savhow many guns will go to one State and how many to another. In the same way the vote for camp equipment will cover the requirements for camps in the various States.
– Could not these votes have been allocated in the same way as other defence votes in this schedule ?
– I do not think that they could be. These votes are required to carry out a scheme inaugurated by Major-General Hutton three years ago, and involving a total expenditure of over £500,000.
-Col. Gould. - Can the Minister say where the machine guns are to go?
– I cannot, I cannot say where the 10,000 magazine rifles and parts provided for are going. They will be distributed in the. various States in accordance with military requirements.
– Is all this material in the- Commonwealth now? Senator PLAYFORD. - No ; it has not even been ordered, and will not be ordered until this vote is passed.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 and Utile agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– With the consent of the Senate, I should like to move the suspension of the Standing Orders, to enable us to. pass the Bill through its remaining stages.
– Is it urgent?
– It is necessary that the work should be undertaken as soon as possible.
– It is always objectionable, where it can be avoided, to suspend the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– We are now getting well into September, and have been to-day discussing the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill. I should be g’ad if the Minister of Defence could give the Senate some indication _ as to when it is likely we shall be discussing the Appropriation ‘ Bill ? It is only fair that I should tell the honorable senator that when that measure is before the Senate, it will tie freely discussed.
– The honorable senator refers to- the Estimates proper?
– Yes. I remind Senator Playford that before he occupied his present exalted position he frequently contended that it was the right of the Senate to be given time for a fair and reasonable discussion of the very important matter pf the Estimates. I should like the honorable senator to say now whether he will bring the Appropriation Bill before the Senate at such a time that it will- not be, necessary for him to ask honorable senators to rush it through after all-night sittings in the last two or three days of the session.
– Perhaps the Minister, in reply, would say what business will be taken to-morrow?
– I have asked the Treasurer to endeavour to get the Appropriation Bill through another place’ as early as possible, because I recognise the force of what Senator Clemons has said. It is only fair that the Senate should be given a reasonable time to- discuss the Estimates for the year. With respect to the business to_ be taken to-morrow, we shall deal first with Senator Keating’s motion for a call of the Senate. We shall take afterwards the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill, and then we shall go on with the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and possibly the Audit Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.43 P m-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060906_senate_2_34/>.