3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers. ,
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in view of the fact that to-day New Zealand has been . declared a Dominion, the Government intend to send a congratulatory telegram on that great event?’
– It is intended to submit a motion to each House of the Parliament to-day.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. On Friday last Senator Guthrie rose to a question of privilege with regard to a report in the Argus concerning the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. I did not pay much attention fo the report when I read it that morning. just as the honorable senator commenced to speak some important letters were placed in my hand, and I was reading them whilst he was speaking. Afterwards I heard the honorable senator raise his voice and call attention to the fact that the article in the newspaper indicated what the effect of the report would be. A moment or two later I understood him to ask whether any member of the Committee had been authorized to make any statement as to its proceedings, and I said, “Certainly not.” If I had risen and made an official statement,’ as probably I ought to have done, I would have pointed out that at its first meeting the Committee did authorize the Chairman to communicate to the press, on application, such salient facts as are usually communicated to the press, namely, that the. Committee had met, and adjourned, arid in this particular instance the reason for a long adjournment, namely, that Senator de Largie had left the State, and wished to be present before the report was agreed to. I regret that I did not make a statement to that effect, because I thought that my honorable friend was inquiring if anybody was deputed to give an account of the judicial proceedings of the Committee, which, of course, ought to be withheld until it has reported to the Senate.
– I wish to explain that I was absent from but oris meeting of the Committee, and have not heard of any proposal to communicate to the press an account of its proceedings. I have been no party to any disclosure of the kind.
– Prior to asking the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question, without notice, I desire to remind him of a statement which he made yesterday. Senator Mulcahy asked the following question -
I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if it is the intention of the Government’ to obtain the sanction of both Houses of the Parliament before committing the
Commonwealth to any definite and binding action regarding the acquisition of ‘ properly in London for Federal purposes?
The Vice-President of the Executive Council replied, “Undoubtedly.” Within a few minutes of that time Sir _ William Lyne, speaking elsewhere, said that, owing to the limited time at his disposal, 1 have been compelled to take action on the vote in Committee df Supply last night.
The question I desire to ask is whether the honorable senator will furnish the Senate with information to reconcile those apparently conflicting statements; whether the Government has in any way committed the Commonwealth to any expenditure in connexion with the acquisition of a site in London for Federal offices, and, if so, to what extent?
– I repeat the answer which- I made to Senator Mulcahy when the Senate met yesterday. The Government is not committed .to any particular site, and it is my intention to make further explanations in connexion with this matter at a later stage to-day.
– I should like to point out- that that is hardly an answer to my question. I asked whether the Commonwealth has been committed to any expenditure, and the honorable senator has replied that the Government is not commit-, ted to any particular site.
– Nor expenditure.
– That is- an answer ; but the honorable senator has not yet answered my question as to the discrepancy between his statement and that of his honorable colleague.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will lay before the Senate a copy of the cablegram sent by the Acting Prime Minister with reference to the acquisition of a site in the Strand?
– My honorable friend must have been in the chamber when I” stated that it was my intention to deal fully with the matter at a later stage today. If he will kindly possess himself in patience he will hear a copy of the cablegram read to the Chamber.
Report presented by Senator Hendersonand read by the Acting Clerk as follows -
The Printing Committee have the honour to. report that they have met in Conference with the Printing Committee of the House of Representatives.
The Joint Committee, having considered all the Petitions and Papers presented to Parliament since the last meeting of the Committee, make the following recommendations with respect to such Petitions and Papers as were not ordered by either House to be printed, viz. : -
Committee Room, 26th September, 1907
– I ask the leave of the Senate to move the adoption of the report. The report will be printed in the Journals of to- day ; but if its consideration is postponed, and an order made for printing, it will also be printed as a parliamentary paper. The report from the Committee ‘is published in the Journals of the day when it is’ brought up, and twice printed in Hansard by reason- of the fact that it is submitted to each House. It will not interfere with the right of any honorable senator if this report is adopted ‘immedi ately, but it will reduce the cost of printing. It will still be competent for an honorable senator to ask the Senate to order the printing of any paper which the Committee has not recommended to be printed.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the honorable senator have leave to submit the motion?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to.
That the report be adopted.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper -
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 - Repeal of Regulation 28, and substitution of New Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 94.
The Acting Clerk laid on the table -
Return to Order of the Senate of 22nd August, 1907. - Tobacco, Cigars, and Cigarettes taken out qf Bond : Quantities, and Duty paid on.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether he is aware that some time ago the Senate agreed to a resolution to the effect that it would not pass the Bill unless the name of the High Commissioner was announced simultaneously with it?
– My honorable friend may rest assured that we shall deal with that aspect of the question when the Bill is brought up.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether the name of the High Commissioner will be submitted to the Parliament for its assent?
– My honorable friend will see that at this stage it is very difficult to give any promise ; but he may rest assured that when the Bill is brought up the anxieties of honorable senators will be fully recognised.
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer I wish to ask him whether there is any truth in the rumour which has recently been industriously circulated, that Mr. George Reid is to be appointed High Commissioner?
– I do not think that that is a question arising out of the answer given, and I must therefore decline to allow it to be put.
– I wish to ask another question on the same subject.
– Does it arise out of the answer given by the Minister?
– Yes, sir. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that he will not give us the name of the gentleman to be appointed High Commissioner, I wish to know - why not ?
– The matter has not yet been considered by the Government.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What steps the. Minister has taken or proposes to take to give effect to his promise tothe Senate to have a trial of machines for voting at parliamentary elections ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
An advertisement has been inserted in the Commonwealth Gazette and quoted in the newspapers, intimating to inventors and others interested, that the Department of Home Affairs is prepared to undertake the testing of voting machines fulfilling certain requirements. Before the insertion of the advertisement a number of machines had been brought under my notice by correspondents. The attention ofeach of such correspondents is now being specially directed to the advertisement referred to.It is anticipated that still further machines will be brought under notice of the Department ; meanwhile, I have instructed the Chief Electoral Officer and the Inspector-General of Works, in conjunction, to submit proposals for the constitution of an Examining Committee and for the procedure of testing.
asked the VicePresident of the. Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answer which has been furnished to me is that -
Further inquiry is proceeding, but it is regretted no report can yet be furnished.
Are the hours of members of the night staff of the Mail Branch, General Post Office, Sydney, as laid down by the -Public Service Commissioner, 78 per fortnight, viz., between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. ?
Have these hours been extended to 7 a.m. on Mondays?
By whose orders was this extension made?
Is it a fact that, during the nine hours in question, members of the staff are refused an interval of even ten minutes for refreshment or other necessary relief ?
Will the Minister see that the period of nine hours’ night work be reduced ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to grant and supply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the service for the year ending 30th day of June, 1908, a sum of money for the purposes of additions, new works and buildings. It is necessary to deal with this Appropriation Bill before the main Estimates are submitted for consideration, because some urgent demands have been made upon the Treasurer in respect of requirements for additions, new works, and buildings, and also in connexion with various sites required throughout the Commonwealth. The principle adopted by the Treasurer is to refuse to grant or pay any moneys without the sanction of Parliament. In introducing the Bill, I think I shall be justified in reminding honorable senators, in a word or two, of the financial position of the Commonwealth. According to the Customs and Excise Estimates, we hope to receive revenue to the amount of ,£10,509,000; and after deducting the cost of collection, £278,045, there will be left available for division, the sum qf £10,230,955. The Commonwealth’s one-fourth of that sum amounts to £2,557,739, and that available for distribution to the various States - namely three-fourths of the whole - is £7,777,208. Our free revenue - that is the revenue derived from the post office and other services - amounts to £3,236,200. So that our available revenue is £5,793,939- The expenditure which is proposed in the Estimates amounts to £5,689,947 - that is, excluding Customs expenditure - leaving, therefore, a balance of £103,992. It is only fair to point out that the total amount proposed for works and buildings in the main Estimates is £819,874.’ Last year, the amount provided was only £479,724. The actual expenditure incurred last year was £472,781. So that in the present Estimates we propose an expenditure exceeding that of last year by £347,°°°-
– A very remarkable increase.
– It is not remarkable in any way. What is more, the Estimates, as I hope to show my honorable friend, are based upon the strictest lines of economy. The £347,000 excess provided for this year is mainly accounted for by a sum of £216,000, which represents new special defence provision. It was originally included in the main Estimates, and was not intended to be included in these. I have mentioned that in the preparation of these Estimates the Treasurer has not yielded, to the demands - and the reasonable demands - of the Departments. The amount originally asked for by the various Departments totalled £i,io7;o86, which included £511,027 asked for by the Post and Telegraph Department. The Treasurer cut down the Post Office Estimates to ,£300,000, being a reduction of something like £211,000 on that item alone. I venture to think that, were the money easily available, there is very much to recommend the granting to this great revenue-earning Department, the Post Office, of the full expenditure asked for, £511,000. I have mentioned that the total sum originally asked for by all the Departments was £1,107,086. The amount granted on the main Estimates is £819,874. So that the Estimates were cut down by £287,213. Under the Appropriation Bill now under consideration, honorable senators are asked to vote a sum of £686,824. That is something like £134,000 less than the amount provided for on the original Estimates, which were laid on the table on the 8th August. The vote for special defence purposes, which amounts to £216,050, has been reduced by the sum of £134,050.
– Do I understand that the amount of £3475000 shown in this year’s Estimates covers the £216,050?
– Yes, the vote for special defence purposes, amounting to £342,000, or less the amount which it is anticipated may not be expended during the year, to £216,050, has for the moment been reduced by the sum of .£134,050 as the items harbor and coastal defence, £215,000, and cordite factory, £10,000, will not be proceeded with for the present. The Government are not in a position to supply the Senate with the fuller information they were anxious to supply in- submitting those items. In relation to the cordite factory, as honor- able senators will be aware, it is proposed to establish a factory at a cost of something like £10,000. Mr. Hake, a very experienced State officer - as to his experience and ability I can! speak personally - is at present visiting the old country with the object of collecting information in regard to this subject. Matters appear to be in a state of transition in regard to the manufacture of cordite. The minds of some military authorities are apparently in a nebulous condition regarding it. Questions from time to time ha.ve arisen as to its storage. Experiments have been made, and we prefer to wait for the return of Mr. Hake before submitting proposals in this direction.
– Then the Government are obliged to the other House for the action that it took in that matter?
– I do not think so. If Parliament desires to have fuller information, before actually passing the vote in question, of course we shall be. pleased to supply it. But, of course, honorable senators can safely rely that the Government would not spend the money without the fullest justification, founded upon the reports received from experts. This brings me to an additional item which appears at the end of the Estimates, namely, £1,000 for the purposes of the proposed London offices of the Commonwealth. In approaching this subject I suggest with the greatest confidence that adequate provision for the representation of the Commonwealth in London is certainly not a party matter in any shape or form. I am sure that all sides must be influenced by one anxiety, and that is to promote the highest and best interests of the Commonwealth.
– Then the honorable senator intends to take the Senate into his confidence?
– I am going to take the Senate into my full confidence. The object of the Government in placing this sum on the Estimates is to ask Parliament to affirm whether, as a matter of policy, it is desirable to secure a site for Commonwealth offices in London. If the Senate approves of that proposal, as another place has, it will then be the duty of the Government to proceed at once with negotiations to secure an eligible site. This matter engaged the attention of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer during their visit to London. Amongst several sites submitted to them was one in the Strand, which, in their opinion, was specially eligible. The Strand is one of the greatest highways connecting the east and west of London. It is an exceedingly busy thoroughfare, and the site commended itself in every way to my colleagues. The London County Council is at present engaged in re-arranging that portion of the city, and by reason , of the demolition of buildings which formerly stood there, the vacant land is immediately available. Three sites were submitted in this part. I have here a locality plan which is available for the inspection of honorable senators. The semi-circular road known as Aldwych forms portion of the resumed urea, and so does the new thoroughfare of Kingsway, which leads up to Holborn. The sites front the Strand, and are situated between St. Mary’s Le Strand Church and St. Clement Danes Church. The area which has already been selected by Mr. Bent forms the western corner of the conical-shaped block shown on the plan. The three sites are marked here. Site A has an area of 10,000 superficial feet, and was submitted at* a price of 19s. per foot. Site B immediately adjoins that selected by the Premier of Victoria, and also represents 10,000 superficial feet, offered at 18s.
– What did Victoria Pa.v?
– 13s. 6d. per superficial foot, with a frontage to the Strand.
– Does Victoria pay rates and taxes ?
– I believe so. Site C represents also 10,000 superficial feet, submitted at 15s.
– Ground rent?
– Those figures represent simply ground rent. Correspondence took place between Captain Collins, the representative of the Commonwealth in London, and the ‘London County Council or its representative, starting on 17th May of this year, when Mr. Andrew Young, the valuer for the Council, stated that the Commonwealth could have the refusal of a lease of from ‘10,000 to 12,000 feet superficial of the land forming lots 1, 2, and 3, with a- frontage to the Strand. That option was to expire on 20th July. Then came a cablegram from Captain Collins, dated 21st June, as follows -
Please inform Lyne Aldwych ‘ site Bent has taken corner part of lot 2, 25 feet frontage. County Council now submit with reference to proposals sent out to Lyne - the three sites which I have already mentioned.
– What is the frontage to the Strand of the three blocks ? ‘
– The frontages have varied from time to time, but I will give shortly the ultimate proposal regarding them.’ The following cablegram was sent to Captain Collins by the Prime Minister on 9th July -
Ascertain lowest procurable rental for whole lot 1 and alternatively for 10,000 square feet lot 1 having Strand frontage 125, all comer frontage and short Aldwych frontage.
Then this is a copy of a cablegram from Captain Collins to the Prime Minister on 10th July -
Referring to your telegram yesterday,. Council would entertain an offer but would not quote lower figures. Can I be authorized for Burr -
I think Mr. Burr is the architect for the Council - negotiate on 13s. basis for plot 116 feet 3 inches frontage Strand, 60 feet deep all corner frontage……..
The following important cablegram was sent to Captain Collins on 20th July -
With regard to Strand site there can be little doubt that Government will acquire land if terms can be agreed upon. Suggest for the consideration of Committee at next meeting that thev should fix definite price for the whole of Strand frontage from Bent’s block eastward with depth say 75 feet.
The proposal in that cablegram’ was to take the whole of the frontage to the junction of the Strand and Aldwych, with a depth of 75 feet.
– What frontage would that give?
– I think about 137 feet.
– Is that on the north side of the Strand ?
– Yes. On 26th July came this important cablegram in reply -
In reply to your telegram of to-day’s date, communicated substance of yours 20th July Committee, stating subject your confirmation I was prepared make definite offer 13s. square foot. Now received reply Committee prepared accept offer subject modifications of northern boundary adjoining Aldwych and West thoroughfare at 18s. square foot. Committee adjourned for two month’s but authorized negotiations, and desire your decision at an early date. Offer for part land submitted. Burr considers if Government makes firm offer 13s. good prospect acceptance. Suggest negotiations through Burr -
That is the man through whom Mr. Bent negotiated - and authority offer 13s. Negotiations are proceeding for acquisition by Canadian Government whole frontage opposite St. Mary’s Church.
The frontage for which the Canadian Government were negotiating is in the centre of the conical-shaped area which- 1 have indicated on the plan.
– It covers neither A, B, nor C?
– It does not cover those sites. It will be observed that the Committee, after considering the proposals contained in the cablegram of 20th July, adjourned for two months, during which period, of course, it was open for us to make offers for their consideration when they met. The matter was recently submitted to the House of Representatives. I point out again that the amount was only placed in these Estimates with a view to obtaining an expression of opinion from Parliament as to the desirability or otherwise as a matter of policy of acquiring a site for Commonwealth offices in London. The other place having sanctioned the item, the Prime Minister yesterday sent to Captain Collins the following cablegram -
House of Representatives last night agreed to Government opening negotiations with County Council and if conditions found suitable offer will be made. Information first desired on following points : What happens at end of 99 years; what is furthest time that would be allowed for commencing building ; what rates and taxes are lessees liable to pay? It is considered that conditions should provide for renewal on expiry of lease on re-appraisement or building paid for on valuation. Obtain building conditions and forward by first mail. Offer if made will probably be for whole Strand frontage with depth of 65 feet.
– The Committee of the London County Council will have met again by now.
– The object which my colleagues had in sending that cablegram, to Captain Collins was to let the Committee know that at least we were moving, and were not going to allow the matter to expire. The sole object in forwarding the telegram is to secure the necessary information, so that if the Senate approves of the project, and the Bill is passed, the Government will be authorized to enter into negotiations for a site in London. The price to be paid will be something between 13s. and 18s. per superficial foot.
– It is to be hoped that it will not be a second mail contract business.
– My honorable friend must not be too free with his clever inter.jections With his aid, the Senate will not be capable of making any further mistakes, if it actually did make them in the past. I understand that Senator Millen has taken exception to some remarks made by the Treasurer, and - 1 propose to state accurately what those remarks were. The honorable gentleman was asked the question -
In reference to the vote of ^1,000 agreed to last night for the acquisition of a site for Commonwealth offices, will the Treasurer give the Senate an opportunity to express its opinion on the subject before he proceeds to negotiate with the London County Council as with the authority of Parliament.
Mv honorable colleague, in reply to that question, said -
If it were not that the date up to which I have the offer is so near I should take no step until the opinion of the Senate -had been obtained, but as to-morrow is the last day available to me I have been compelled to take action to obtain certain information that was requested during the debate.
The Treasurer was then asked -
Why did the honorable gentleman wait until the last moment before submitting the matter?
And -my honorable colleague said -
I should have liked to bring it before the Senate, but time would not permit, and a cable has already been despatched to England asking for information.
Of course, I cannot pretend to know the operations of the Treasurer’s mind, but it is absolutely certain that it was never his intention to commit the Commonwealth to a contract or to any expenditure, except with the full approval and consent of both branches of the Federal Parliament.
– But the option expires to-day.
– Is my honorable friend complaining?
– Certainly I am.
– The honorable senator thinks that the option should have been acted upon straight away ?
– No; I am referring to the answer given by Sir William Lyne.
– My honorable friend is altogether wrong, and it is just as well that we should understand one another. The crime committed by the Treasurer has been to communicate with the representative of the Commonwealth in London to say that we, in the Commonwealth Parliament, are moving in the matter, but before we are able to enter into any negotiations, or make any offer, we desire certain information.
-No;the crime is that Sir William Lyne has altered the Hansard proofs.
– The honorable senator is making a, rather remarkable statement.
– Which I shall substantiate directly.
– Apart altogether from the honorable senator’s statement, he cannot possibly get away from the fact that nothing further has been done in the matter beyond the sending of the cable I have read asking for information in order to enable us to negotiate. Moreover, my honorable colleague has intimated elsewhere that, so far as the building that it is proposed to erect is concerned,it will not be proceeded with until the proposals of the Government in regard to it have been submitted to Parliament.
– Will the honorable senator kindly tell the Senate what the option was?
-Is there an option?Is there a contract? Is there anything?
– My honorable friends have had the fullest information, and they can see for themselves that there is no contract.
– Is there no option ?
– And therefore there is no option, so far as this matter is concerned, further than the option to submit an offer, which it is proposed to do.
– And which the Government cannot do without making in quiries, the answers to which must be received by mail.
– Which we willbe in a position to do, when we get the information which has been sought by my honorable colleague the Treasurer. The position therefore is that the Government desire to secure the whole frontage to the Strand running right up to the junction of Aldwych, with a depth of 65 feet. It is estimated that this block will have an area of about 12,000 superficial feet, and the rental required will be something like £11,000 at 18s. per foot, the maximum price suggested, and a considerably less sum of £8,000 odd if the site can be secured for the lesser price of 13s. per foot.
– Has the honorable senator any idea what the rates and. taxes will be?
– No, we have cabled to secure all particulars in regard to rates and taxes, but the position is, that subject to the terms of the London County Council, which will be similar to those fixed in regard to the site selected by Mr. Bent, as regards conditions, rates and taxes, we have the option of purchasing at a rental of from 13s. to 18s. per foot. It is in order that we may secure thebest possible terms that we ask by this vote’ that the Government shall be authorized to negotiate with the London County Council.
– Was any money paid in connexion with the option to secure the land ?
– No. As my honorable friends will admit, I have gone to considerable trouble to supply the information on this subject to which the Senate is entitled, and I hope I have succeeded in making the matter absolutely clear.
– The honorable senator might have done it a week ago.
– My honorable friend must know that the matter was not before us a week ago. Honorable senators will observe that the votes contained in this Bill may be divided practically into five groups. There is, for instance, a total proposed vote of £221,824 in connexion with matters under the control of the Home Affairs Department; a vote of £300,000 in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department ; and of £2,000 for the Treasury. For the Department of Defence there are two proposed appropriations, one of £80,000, and the other of £82,000, and in connexion with matters under the control of the Department of External Affairs there is a vote for .£1,000 to which I have already referred. It will be noticed that various items in the schedule are marked with an asterisk. For instance, in division 1, subdivision No. 1, in connexion with the Home Affairs Department, there is a vote of £6,000 proposed towards the cost of erection of a store at Darling Island, Sydney, and the note attached explains that the total cost of this work will amount to £30,000. Particulars of this expenditure can be supplied if honorable senators desire. Then there is a vote °f £7>5°° towards the cost of erection of a Customs House at Fremantle, and it is noted that the total cost of this work will be £10,000. On the same page- there appears a new item of £12,000 for a trawler. Honorable senators will be aware that the subject of the purchase of a trawler was under the consideration of tHe Senate last year, and a sum of £8,000 was voted for the purpose. On expert advice, it has since been recognised that £12,000 will be necessary for this purpose, and we have now placed that amount on the Estimates. For works in connexion with the Defence Force under- the control of the Department of Home Affairs, there is a vote of £32,087 for rifle ranges, distributed as follows: - For New South Wales, £10,993; Victoria, £7,864; Queensland, .£3,725 i South Australia, £1,430; Western Australia, £1,854; and Tasmania, £6,221. The practice in regard to rifle ranges has been in some cases to grant the amount required to rifle clubs, and in other cases the Government Department undertakes, the work. An amount of ,£9,693 has been included under the headings of the various States for drill halls, and £9,256 for fortifications, and. £6,618 for barracks. Under Post Office buildings, including the purchase of sites, there is provided a sum of £147,078, distributed as follows: - For New South Wales, ,£34,246; Victoria, £58,300; Queensland, £30,086 ; .South Australia, £14,977 ; Western Australia, £^8,494; and Tasmania, £975. Under telegraph lines a vote of £77,500 is divided in” this way: - For New South Wales, £20,000 ; Victoria, .£20,000 ; Queensland, £20,000 ; South Australia, £0,000; Western Australia, ,£8, 000 ; . and Tasmania, ,£500. Under telephone lines, including construction of conduits and placing of wires under ground, &c, there is a vote of £237,000 proposed, and distributed amongst the States in this way : - New South Wales, £56,000 ; Victoria, ,£80,000 ; Queensland, £29,000 ; South Australia, £25,000 ; Western Australia, ,£24,000 ; and Tasmania, £23,000.
– That expenditure will all be revenue producing?
– The expenditure on telephone lines, of course, will be. Honorable senators will observe in this connexion that all the money provided for expenditure under this Appropriation Bill is chargeable on a population basis. Including the provision for harbor and coastal defence and the cordite factory the vote proposed foi additions, new works, buildings, &c, amounts to .£819,874.
– Has it been determined where the cordite factory is to be established?
– No. I shall refer to that later on.
– It is a funny thing to ask for money when the Government do not know where they are going to spend it.
– We are not asking one shilling for the erection of a building for a cordite factory. This vote of £819,874, which is less £2,000 for printing plant, will be chargeable in this way. The works to be carried out in New South Wales are estimated to cost £260,079, and thatState will be charged on a population basis, .£305,476. The works to be constructed in Victoria are estimated to cost £247,305, and that State will be charged on a population basis with £243,146. In Queensland, the estimate for these works is .£116,357, and the State will be charged with- £105,604. In South Australia, the, estimated cost of the works proposed is £76,505, and the State will be charged £76,324. In Western Australia, the estimate of cost is £^7 1,659, and the State will be charged on a population basis only £52,114. The works proposed for Tasmania will cost ,£45,969, and the State will be charged only £34,940. I conceive it to be mv duty to refer to one or two items for post offices and telegraphbuildings under .the control of the Department of Home Affairs. A sum of S.n, 000 is required to provide for alterations at the General Post Office, Sydney.
I believe that an alteration of its internal arrangements is urgent. But this vote is only a contribution towards a total sum of £40,000 which will be expended for that purpose. Last year a sum of £15,000 was voted in connexion with the General Post Office at Melbourne, but only £2,574 was spent. A sum of £19,000 is required for the current year, and the total cost on the work is estimated at £30,000. The item of £10,000 for wireless telegraphy has been dealt with here. A sum of £1,000 is required for the survey of a cable route to Tasmania. I believe that negotiations are in progress for the purchase of the existing cables from the Eastern Extension Company. The survey of a route is being undertaken in case the Government and the company should be unable to agree upon a price. Of course, if they do agree upon a price, no survey will be made. It is believed that a better route can be secured, so that, in the event of the failure of., the negotiations, and in that event only, the work will be proceeded with. I believe than an arrangement has been made with the Pacific Cable Board to undertake the survey at cost price. A sum of £80,000 is put down for the purpose of special defence material. Last year £130,000 was voted for that purpose, but £159,988 was expended. The ordinary vote of the Defence Department for last year amounted to £639,000 ; the Department spent £610,000, and that left available £29,000, which was applied towards the purchase of special defence material. Under the head of “ New special defence provision,” a total sum of £82,000 is required. That includes- a sum of ,£50,000 for guns, lights, and emplacements for fixed defences.
– Is there any sum to provide for the due working of the telephones in connexion with the forts in Port Jackson ? Last Easter they would not work.
– I am hardly in a position to answer my honorable friend, but I shall make inquiry into the matter. Under the head of “ New special defence provision,” a sum of £32,000 is also set down towards the cost and erection of a plant for a small arms factory. That practically represents one-half of the amount which will be required, namely, £65,000. No- provision is included in that amount for the building. It. is contemplated that shortly . a building will have to be provided. I understand that it will be. an inexpensive one, and is not to exceed about £10,000. It is anticipated that it . will be constructed of galvanized iron, with a concrete floor. With regard to the item, of £50,000 for guns, lights, and emplacements for fixed defences, I am informed that the Imperial Defence Committee reported that the armament of the fixed defences in the Commonwealth should be, as far as possible, uniform, and recommended 6-inch mark 7 guns. The Committee of local officers appointed to consider the question were of the same opinion. The total cost of carrying out this work, with the necessary ammunition and electric lights, will be approximately £280,000.
– Can the Minister saywhere he is going to get ten practice torpedoes, with gyroscopes, for £390?
– If my honorable friend will repeat the question when we get Jo the item, I shall try to procure for him the necessary information. I have already explained the reason for the postponement of the item of £250,000 for harbor and coastal defences, and the item of £10,000 for a cordite factory. As this is essentially a Bill for consideration in Committee, I shall be prepared there to supply any further information which may be required.
– - I think that the Minister has laid himself open to a charge of being wanting in generosity. I feel that he is under a very great debt of obligation to honorable senators on this side for having plied him with questions with reference to a mysterious and apparently non-existing option. It -has enabled him to reveal two excellent attributes in his character. The first is his extreme loyalty to his colleagues, which no one doubted, and the second is (he extreme adroitness which he is capable of developing when he desires to extricate a colleague from an awkward position. I propose to show exactly what has transpired with regard to the varying Ministerial statements- .on the subject of a site for Commonwealth offices in London. When Senator .Best was speaking, I interjected that Sir William Lyne had altered the proofs of Hansard. That is not a statement which ought to be made lightly. I recognise the seriousness of it. I made the interjection, not on the spur of the moment, but because I had seen the proofs which were supplied.
– But they do not alter the facts.
– I am not speaking about altering the facts, but about altering the proofs of Hansard. The practice, as honorable senators are aware, is for proof slips to be supplied to members whose remarks have been reported. I assume that in this case proof slips were supplied to Sir William Lyne, the Minister who answered the questions, and also to those members who submitted the questions. I have no doubt that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been supplied with a copy of the proof as supplied to Sir William Lyne and altered by him.
– I know nothing about it.
– I willingly accept my honorable friend’s disclaimer. I am not suggesting that he was aware of the fact that anything had been edited in any way. All I am saying is that the proof as supplied to the honorable member who submitted the question does not furnish the answer, without a material alteration as read by the honorable senator. The reply given by Sir William Lyne to Mr. Johnson has been altered by the insertion of the words, “ to obtain certain information.”
– That is the truth.
– It is the truth that those words do not appear in the proof slips as supplied to Mr. Johnson, whose question was answered. They can only have been inserted in one way, and that was when Sir William Lyne edited the proof which was supplied to him in conformity with the existing practice. With regard to the other statement of Sir William Lyne, made in reply to an interjection by Mr. Bruce Smith, that also has been altered by the addition of the words, “ asking for information.” Both those interpolations have been made for the purpose of showing that what Sir William Lyne said was merely that the object of the cablegram sent and the efforts of the Government was to obtain information. The words have been put in since the proof slips were supplied to the gentlemen whose names I have given. It is quite possible that, as altered by Sir William Lyne, the proofs now represent what he intended to say. But it is quite clear, from what I’ have seen, that they are not what he did say, and that they have been altered, presumably, by the honorable gentleman himself.
– Is that kind of thing a rogue or is it an elephant?
– It will be a combination of the two.I admit that it is not material to the matter under discussion, but I refer to it in justification of the interjection I made some time ago. The VicePresident of the Executive Council said, very rightly, that the policy of acquiring a site in London was in no sense a party matter. I cordially indorse that sentiment. But it was not as a party move ‘that honorable senators on this side submitted their questions. What they considered to be the question at stake was, not whether we were to acquire a site in London, but whether the Government were going to ignore the Senate, whether they were going to enter into a very serious financial responsibility without first obtaining the views of this co-ordinate branch of the Legislature.
– I was very pronounced in my statement. My honorable friend will see that such a thing could not take place.
– I am not now disputing that, but merely saying that the questions were submitted from this side not with any reference to the policy of acquiring a site, but because we, on the strength of the statements made by Sir William Lyne, thought that a commitment was being entered into without the sanction of the Senate. With regard to the financial aspect of the case, let me point out exactly where we stand. Senator Best has said that this innocent-looking vote of £1,000 is submitted in order that Parliament may be able to give an expression of opinion as to the policy of selecting a site. So far as it goes, it is all right. But if honorable senators ask the question, “ What is it we are asked to approve?” there need be no doubt that if the item is passed now the Government can claim, and rightly claim, that it has a free hand to commit the Commonwealth practically to any expenditure which it likes. . Is the item on the Estimates for the purchase of a site? No. It is towards the erection of a building in London. That is the technical question upon which we are asked to vote; but, according to the answer which we give to that proposal, the Government will determine whether or not we give it a free hand in continuing the negotiations which apparently are only now commencing.
– Which will end with the purchase of a site. My honorable friends may take the assurance given elsewhere that, so far as the building is concerned, the Parliament will be consulted.
– That may be so. But I re-affirm that this vote is put to us as a means of expressing our approval of a policy. I have every reason to believe that the Senate will agree to it. But if we express approval of the proposal we must recognise that we give the Government an absolutely free hand. What is the extent of the cheque which we practically hand over to them? Do honorable senators realize that it means an expenditure of anything up to £1,000,000 or .£1,500,000? The absolute commitment, if these negotiations are carried through, is, I repeat, a total of ,£1,000,000 or .£1,500,000, according to whether the Government succeeds in getting this area of land nearer to or further from the minimum of 13s. per foot. Taking the net annual rental at the mean between 13s. and 18s., and allowing a reasonable estimate for rates and taxes - which I presume will have to be paid by the tenant - what will the Commonwealth have to pay?
– The rates to the London County Council amount to 7s. in the £1, and there is also 4s. in the £1 to be paid under an ancient rate which has been recently revived.
– That is information for which 1 am much obliged to my hon;orable friend. It confirms the figures that I have given, that on the ground alone, plus rates and taxes, we shall have to spend every year something in the neighbourhood of £15,000. A ninety-nine years’ lease would mean, therefore, a sum ranging to something near ,£1,500,000. I admit that that will be spread over a long period ; but I put it that under this innocent looking item, we aic practically asked to determine whether the Commonwealth shall- incur a liability of ,£1,000,000 or £1,500,000. And that is a liability irrespective of the amount which we shall have to provide to erect a building on the land if we acquire it. I am not saying that as a reason why we should not vote for the item, but I point out that it is not the small and innocent looking item that the Government would have us believe. It is another evidence of that absence of business capacity that even the friends of the Government must credit them with, that, although the option is about to expire, the Government are not yet in a position to furnish us with information as to the terms on which they can acquire the land, and have had to cable to London for it. We were told all along that the option was on the point of expiration, but we find that the Government does not know the very essential factors that are involved in the acquisition of the land. When ray honorable friend Senator St. Ledger interjected that he hoped that we would not have, in connexion with this matter, a repetition of what happened in connexion with the mail contract, I thought there was good reason for the remark. I hope that we shall not have another such difficulty. But it is remarkable that, on the very eve of concluding the contract, and of asking Parliament to consent to it, the Government do not even know the terms on which the acquisition of the land is possible, do not even know what time they will have before they commence to build, and do not even know whether rates and taxes will have to be paid bv the Commonwealth. They are absolutely ignorant of everything except that land is to be had if we pay the price for it. These facts do not inspire me with any great confidence as to the business aptitude which the Government are likely to display in conducting the further negotiations in connexion with the matter, I pass now to the main question. Here I approach another subject that has no party aspect. It is not a party question in the sense that any party has anything more to gain or lose than any other party by the consideration of it. I allude to the whole financial outlook which is opened up by the introduction of this Bill. Whatever set of political views may induce men to bind themselves together, it is quite evident that no Government can carry on, and no party can continue in existence, unless it pays attention, above all things, to sound finance. I ask honorable senators whether they have paused to consider the fact that the Government is in the habit, of coming down and asking the Senate to pass Bills involving very considerable expenditure of public money, without the slightest regard to the effect that that expenditure may have upon the financial position generally ? In dealing with this matter it is not merely the financial “ position of the Commonwealth that we have to consider. There is also a special obligation upon us in the Senate to consider the effect of Federal, finance upon our respective States. My own State is perhaps one that could, as well as any State in the Union, afford to regard leniently the financial pranks of the Commonwealth. But there are other States in the Union whose finances are already seriously straitened by the very existence of the. Union itself; and I venture to say that those of us who come from the larger, and for the time being more wealthy, States are under an obligation to give careful and generous consideration to the position of the weaker States of the Union. We are now within some two years of the time when we have not merely got to talk, or think, or suggest, but when we have to be prepared with a working scheme to take the place of that provision of the Constitution known as the Braddon section. We are in the habit, I am afraid, of going upon the principle that “ sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” But this is a matter that is not likely to wait, because we have to remember that while. we in the Commonwealth are enthroned in a strong position, and can afford to act very much as we please, it is not fair to the States that we should fail to tell them within a reasonable time what proposition we have to submit, and what treatment we are prepared to give to them.
– The States have not shown themselves very reasonable in the matter.
– I am afraid that I must admit that. But, at the same time, I urge that no want of consideration on the part of the States, and no irritating action on the part of State politicians - no neglect of their duties - can be any excuse for neglecting, or should be any incitement to us to neglect, our duty. I quite admit the difficulty which is occasioned when we find an inclination on the part of State politicians not to smooth the inevitable friction, but: to increase it. I am not now speaking with any desire to increase difficulty, nor am I in any sense making an attack upon the Commonwealth. My inclination is entirely the other way. i am as anxious as any man can be to make this Union strong, powerful, and beneficial. But we can only do that by showing that those who are responsible for Federal legislation can rise to the height of their responsibilities, irrespective of State irritation,- and map out a ;course beneficial te the whole of Australia. I should like in saying that to add, ;for fear of being misunderstood, that I do not mean to say for a moment that because the Commonwealth has the power it should necessarily exercise it without regard to the wishes of the States. While having regard, first of all, to the wishes of Australia as a whole, as it is our duty to do, the Federation should endeavour to mete out, not merely just, but generous treatment to the States.
– So it does.
– I am not saying that it does not. I am speaking of some scheme which must take the place of the Braddon section when it expires. Let me invite the attention of honorable senators to a few figures. I do so to lay the foundation for a statement which I have made quite recently, and shall now support, that the Federation is steadily running to this, position. Without saying that any one is to blame for what has taken place, I point out that the Federation will soon be faced with the serious task of bringing its income up to its larger expenditure. If that be so, it is not wise for us to wait until the time occurs when we shall have to adopt a new policy. We ought immediately to anticipate the difficulty as far as we can, and endeavour so to arrange our financial course that when the time does come we shall be prepared to meet it. In the first year after the Commonwealth Tariff came into operation, the total revenue was £12,105,000. We returned to the States that year £8,204,000. This year, with a revenue of £I3’750,000, we return to the States only £7>75°>°°o. In other words, with a revenue of £1,639,000 in excess of that for the first year of the uniform Tariff, we are’ giving back to the States £425,000 less. I call attention to these figures particularly. The Commonwealth receives into the Consolidated Revenue £1,639,000 more, and it gives back to the States £425,000 less. Another way of stating the facts is this. In the first year of the uniform Tariff, we gave to the States £1,145,000 over and above their constitutional three-fourths. This year, with a much larger revenue, we propose to return only £103,000 in excess of the threefourths.
– That is assuming that the penny postage proposals of the Government are- carried?
– I am taking the Government’s Estimates. I am not saying at the present stage that any of these figures could have been altered ; and, above all, I do not wish it to be thought that I am making any accusation of extravagance against the administration of. the Commonwealth. I am not doing anything of the sort. It is not often that I am in a position to agree with the Acting Prime Minister, but I cordially indorse his remarks when I say that I have never known a Government that has been conducted on such economic lines as the Federal Government has been. But it is one thing to have economical administration, and quite another thing if Parliament is continually passing proposals for Federal expenditure without knowing where the money is to come from to meet it. I recognise that at the expiration of the Braddon section, the Commonwealth will be in a very enviable financial position if we are prepared to ignore altogether the obligations of the Commonwealth to the States outside the constitutional requirements.
– When does the Braddon section expire?
– In 1910.
– It continues unless Parliament otherwise provides.
– But my point is that as Parliament is going onat present we shall soon not be able to return even threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to the States. At the rate we are going on now, our expenditure will in a year or two be considerably in excess of the onefourth to which we are at present entitled. It is clear that we shall not be able to return to the States the three-fourths unless we find new sources of revenue.
– We can go in for direct taxation.
– Exactly ; Senator McGregor anticipates the logic of the thing. We are under no obligation when the Braddon section expires to do anything, so far as the Constitution is concerned. But I think everyone will recognise that as the Federation has taken over the Customs and Excise Departments, which are the great revenue yielding sources of taxation, we have got, not merely for the ten years of the Braddon section’s operation, but for a much longer period, and probably for ever, to make some equivalent to the various States. What is that equivalent to be?
– Take over the States debts.
– If we did take over the States debts, we should be practically in the same position as if we did not do so, but returned to the States three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue on the present figures.
– The States say that they will see the Federation hanged first.
– They have such a poor opinion of the Federation that they will not even trust us with their debts. Senator W. Russell has made a sugges tion, which is in the minds of many people, that the way out of this financial difficulty may be found - I am not affirming that it will - by our taking over the States debts. But that would not in any way relieve the Commonwealth finances. We should have to find interest amounting in round figures to £7,250,000 upon the debts, and therefore the Federal Treasury would be no better off. Whether we had to pay back that amount to the States, or paid it in interest charges upon the debts, we should still have to find that amount, which is probably somewhere about the sum which everybody will agree, irrespective of the Braddon section, ought to be paid to the States.
– Sir John Forrest expects to make a saving of 5s. per £100.
– How long has my honorable friend displayed this pathetic faith in the statements of Sir John Forrest? I should have much more faith in that saving of 5s. per £100 if it were made by the men who hold the stock. I decline to believe that the shrewd financiers of London will give up the stock of unquestionably solvent States, unless they receive a full quid pro quo for it. There may be a possible saving when those loans fall due and have to be renewed. The Federation may then be able to obtain money for redemption purposes at lower rates of interest, but that is a saving which could only take place as the loans fell due, and is in no sense an immediate saving. Whether we take over the States debts, or give back to the States an amount equal to the interest upon them, we are in the position that on our present revenue Estimates we have practically exhausted the money at our disposal, and seeing that we have a growing expenditure, it means that we are almost shaking hands with a deficiency. On the present year’s Estimates we have £103,000 over and above the amount which we are legitimately entitled to retain. That is all the margin between meeting our requirements and any contingent expenditure. If we had paid our way, and met all the obligations which could be fairly charged against us, then, instead of having £103,000 to the good, we should have been seriously to the bad, because the present Estimates take no account of interest upon transferred properties. If we add that liability to our annual expenditure, then instead of having £103,000 to the good, and being in a position to hand it back to the States, we should already have to face a deficiency. One of the biggest and most serious financial mistakes ever made by the Commonwealth was made when we started to hand back the surplus over the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue without insisting on its being regarded as part payment for the transferred properties. We have given back some millions of pounds in that way.
– About £6,000,000.
– That amount we could have used if we had liked. Instead of giving back that amount - I will not say as a gift, because it was collected from the people of the States, and we are under an obligation -to return everything that we do not. require - we, as business men, ought to have said to the States when handing the money to them, “ Please regard it, not as an unconditional payment to you, but as part payment for the transferred properties, the total balance on which will be adjusted when you have made your valuations.” Had that been done we should have found when the valuation was made that from 60 to 80 per cent, of the transferred properties had been paid for, and would have been to-day unencumbered Federal property.
– And the States would have attended to their finances.
– It would .have had a very beneficial influence upon State finances, because I can hardly think that the States Parliaments, seeing that they were being paid these large sums upon capital account, would have been content to do what they are doing now and use the money’ as revenue.
– I think they would.
– I will not quarrel with my honorable friend’s opinion so far as concerns his own State, but it is quite possible that my own State, with its buoyant revenues, would have insisted on the money, which would have been payment for property sold, being treated as capital, and paid into one of the sinking funds or used to redeem some of the floating Treasury bills.
– Does the honorable senator really suppose that?
– I should not occupy the time of the Senate in stating it if I did not believe it. At any rate, the Commonwealth would have been in a better position if that course had been followed. If the States do not like to husband their resources, *that is a matter entirely for themselves to deal with. It would further have lent considerable force to the demand which exists in New South Wales that the State Government should have economized as the Federal authorities took over certain expenditure. Even assuming that there were no contingent liabilities, such as transferred properties, to set against this surplus of £103,000, we have already committed ourselves, if not legally, certainly indirectly, to other expenditures which will far more than absorb it. Simply to enumerate the headings which must throw expenditure upon the Commonwealth, I take the following: - Papua, Northern Territory. No more important subject ever called for the attention of Parliament than the .development of that portion of Australia. I will not say that it is the one weak spot, for I am afraid there are several, but undoubtedly it is the most dangerous spot in the coast line of Australia. No man can affirm that at this very moment some hostile landing is not taking place there. Whatever the cost - and that is an unqualified remark - Australia has to take up the burden of the Northern Territory. . That means a very considerable call upon the public Treasury. Then we have, I do not say by any means the unnecessary or excessive, but undoubtedly the enlarged calls which the new defence policy makes upon us. The Estimates for this year, whilst they contain an enlarged defence vote, do not take cognizance of that larger expenditure which is .involved in the policy of the Government. I am not Questioning the wisdom of the policy. I am merely pointing out that in order to give effect to it we have to face a larger expenditure than is provided for by the present Estimates. In two items - the small arms factory and the ammunition factory - these Estimates only make provision” for half the amount required, and make, of course, no provision for the annual upkeep of those establishments. Another project dear to the hearts of honorable senators, but which cannot be carried through without money, is the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway. The Government stand practically committed to carry out that work, irrespective entirely of what the survey mav disclose. The Vice-President of the Executive Council shakes his head, but the principal argument used for that work was “the moral obligation!,” which was not for a survey but for a railway, and, as the Government based their action upon the promise of a railway, then, whether they are right or wrong, they stand pledged to carry that railway out. That is a matter upon which I cannot promise the Vice-President of the Executive Council any great assistance, but it is one of the obligations to which the Government stand committed, and which must entail a very considerable drain upon the public Treasury.
– Can the honorable senator give us any idea of what the revenue will be in the same year as the expenditure on the construction of the railway will fall due?
– I do not propose to give an estimate, either of the expenditure or the revenue, but I would sooner have the amount represented by the figures of the expenditure than that represented by the revenue. I am merely asking honorable senators to consider the position in which we stand with regard to the finances, with a specific object which I shall disclose later on.
– Oh, we will trust to Providence.
– I will not quarrel with the honorable senator’s intention, but I wish to offer a word of warning to him not ‘to trust the Government too far. Another matter which also involves some expenditure - if it is to be seriously regarded, and treated as other than a subject for levity, and I believe the Senate is prepared to deal honestly and fairly with that portion of the Constitution - is the question of the Federal Capital. The appoint-, ment of a High Commissioner must be considered. We cannot support a fully equipped Commonwealth office in London without a considerable annual grant. We shall not obtain our mail contract in the future except at a price in excess of that which we have hitherto paid.
– Unless we conduct it ourselves.
– That would involve a still further deficiency. My object is to avoid a deficiency. Another matter about which my honorable friends opposite are extremely enthusiastic, is immigration. I do not know to what extent the Government are prepared to go, but they have continually assured Australia that they are ready to take active and energetic steps to encourage immigration. That, also, would mean a further outlay of public money. We have two bounty proposals - the general bounties scheme now before the
Senate, and the promise of the Government to bring in a Bill for a bounty upon iron. Last, but by no means least, there is a claim, with which I am in entire sympathy, for provision for old-age pensions.
– The honorable senator has left out the money necessary for a fleet of torpedo boats.
– Seeing that, according to the Estimates,, we’ can buy ten torpedoes with the latest mechanism for £300, I do not propose to trouble the Senate with such details. I have no doubt that that item indicates merely expenditure in connexion with torpedoes. I have, as Senator Pearce remarks, left out altogether the additional expenditure which will be involved at any stage of the establishment of an Australian Navy. “I have shown that, .on the figures of our present revenue, the moment we attempt to carry out not all, but even two or three of those obligations, we shall be face to face with financial difficulty. But that position becomes accentuated if we assume that the Tariff proposals of the Government will be carried, and have the effect which, all protectionists assume that they will have. I have gone so far on the basis of the revenue as it stands this year. But no protectionist will say that the Tariff, after being in operation for some time, will continue to yield as large a revenue as it does in its early stages.
– We hope not.
– I am not going to quarrel with or question the honorable senator’s hope. It is not often that protectionists and free-traders agree upon a fiscal question, but in this case, even a hidebound protectionist like Senator Stewart, and a thoughtful free-trader like myself, agree that the Tariff, sooner or later, must give a diminishing revenue. In proportion as the Tariff, .by reducing the purchasing power of the people, or by shutting out imports, tends to diminish the revenue, to that extent will the deficiency which is already looming close at hand, be increased and hastened.
– Does the shutting out of imports mean a diminished purchasing power ?
– I referred to the effect of the Tariff, either in- diminishing the purchasing power of the people according to the free-trade view, or in shutting out imports according to the view of protectionists. If we are so close to a deficiency with a revenue of over £13,000,000 we clearly must expect to have to face a deficiency if the Tariff should prove effective, and so cause a diminished revenue from Customs. Therefore, the effect of the Tariff, whether beneficial or not, in other directions must be to. hasten arid accentuate the financial difficulties to which I have referred.
– What about the Braddon blot?
– I have already dealt with that, and if my honorable friend was not present at the time. I sympathize with him for what’ he has missed.
– But the honorable senator did not express any opinion upon it.
– I am endeavouring not to express opinions here, because my honorable friends do not always accept them without question, whilst I thought they would accept the few facts I have given.
– They are selfevident.
– If I thought so I should have expected certain honorable senators to take a different course from that which they have taken in the Senate. Having dealt with what might be called the pessimistic aspect of the financial proposals of the Government, so far as they have been disclosed, I might refer to one redeeming feature in connexion with our finances, and that is that so far the Federal Parliament has paid out of revenue for the construction of works and buildings a large amount, which under the practice in the various States would have been paid from loan money.
– £1,600,000 in the six years.
– In view of a communication I have received from the VicePresident of the Executive Council, I suggest that the debate be adjourned, and. that I be given leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That Mr. President be requested with the Speaker of the House of Representatives to send a message conveying the congratulations and good wishes of the Commonwealth to New Zealand on the occasion of the celebration of its assumption of the new title of “ Dominion.”
I believe that at the Imperial Conference it was decided that the oversea selfgoverning Colonies or States might in future be designated as “Dominions.” The occasion to which the motion I have moved refers marks an important era in the history of New Zealand. We have many sympathies, and many interests in connexion with trade, in common with that country. We find in New Zealand a market for a number of our products, and we reciprocate, by being customers of New Zealand, as our import returns show. The good . feeling which at all times has existed between what is now the Dominion of New Zealand and ourselves has been such as warrants us in adopting the motion I have proposed. I am sure we are all agreed that the marked prosperity her people have hitherto enjoyed, the advance they have made in the settlement of many social questions, and the courage shown by her statesmen, entitle New Zealand to recognition as one of the most important portions of the Empire. I am confident, therefore, that the Senate will deem it a privilege and a pleasure to have the opportunity on the occasion of the assumption by New Zealand of the new title of “ Dominion “ to offer her people its sincerest and heartiest congratulations.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.22]. - As I suppose I am about the oldest New Zealander on the premises, seeing that, as a very youthful colonist, I was in New Zealand as long ago as 1853, and resided there for a good many years, I rise with feelings of very considerable pleasure to second the motion proposed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. It is not necessary that I should, by additional phrases, seek to enhance the expression of fraternal greeting which, in suitable words, has been so appropriately submitted by him. I, therefore, content myself with seconding the motion, and I do so with a great deal of pleasure.
Questionresolved in the affirmative.
– I have, I think, only to point the moral of the facts which, perhaps, I have wearied honorable senators in relating. The financial position of the Commonwealth is, to my mind, quite obvious. That is to say, we are steadily and rapidly drifting into a position in which we will have to face a deficiency. If does not appear to me to be in accord with common sense, or business-like to wait until the deficiency absolutely arises before we consider our position. An ordinary business man would scorn the idea of waiting until he was in difficulties before he took stock of ways and means. The .obligation which, in such circumstances, would rest upon any individual in the community rests upon Parliament, and, in a special manner, upon the Senate, for the reasons which I mentioned’ in my opening remarks. I say that the position of some of the States has been extremely acute. I refer especially to Tasmania. No State has suffered so seriously in connexion with its finances as the island State of the Union.
– I think that Western Australia is in a worse position this year.
– The “ people of Western Australia do not carry the somewhat serious burden of direct taxation which the people of Tasmania, have to bear. However, it does not affect my argument to say that one State is more seriously injured tha’n another, nor do I suggest that, however serious the injury ‘to any State’ may be at the present time, the ultimate benefit of the Union will not more than compensate for it. But I point out that one of the obligations specially resting upon this, the States’ House, elected to guard the interests of the States, is to see that we do not travel a reckless financial road, which might lead, not only to throwing Federal finances into confusion/ but to seriously hampering the States in carrying out the great work still left in the hands of their Governments. The question is : What can the Senate do to prevent this? The Government submits certain proposals, and the alternative to accepting them is, possibly, some hostile action which would bring into play every party feeling. I do not wish- to take such action, but I do think that it is incumbnt upon the Senate to inform the Government, and honorable senators may do so in their speeches, that ‘ we are not prepared to go on as we have been doing in the past, blindly appropriating large sums of public money without the slightest intimation from the Government as to where they are to come from. For all practical purposes, we have passed a” Bounties Bill ; we are now asked to pass a Bill appropriating about £750,000, and no one here has the slightest idea of what are the Government proposals for raising the revenue required to meet that expenditure. We have not the slightest idea as to where the Government propose to raise revenue to meet the important contingent liabilities to which they stand committed. All we know is that for the ensuing twelve months we have reason to suppose that our income will be sufficient to meet the expenditure for which we are providing, if we leave out of sight the contingent liabilities to which I have referred. Beyond that, all is confusion and chaos. Certainly no business people would carry’ on) their business in that way, and while I think we may say that another branch of the Legislature has not given that close attention to the finances which the position demands, it is incumbent upon us to exercise the utmost caution in dealing with these proposals. Above all, I invite honorable senators to make it quite clear that the Senate will not go on indefinitely granting large sums of money until there has been a frank and full disclosure of the financial proposals of the Government. Earlier in the day, I contemplated moving an amendment which would enable honorable senators to express their opinions in that direction, but, after conferring with many of my honorable friends on this side, I came to the conclusion that perhaps at this juncture it would serve the purpose which I and others have in view, if I were to refrain from such action, and so enable honorable senators to express their views without the introduction of any element of party feeling. I invite the Senate to recognise the opportunity presented to it to become the guardian of the finances of the Commonwealth, and the advocate of sound and honest finance. It is in order that honorable senators should be induced to accept this responsibility and obligation that I have taken the opportunity of addressing myself to them as I have done this afternoon.
– I am sure that we have all listened with considerable interest to the speech made by Senator Millen. Every member of the Federal Parliament, and, indeed, every Federalist in Australia must recognise that the honorable senator has given a fairly accurate forecast of the financial problems that confront us. But, after-all, what we have to think of is not so much the recognition of those problems as the necessity of deciding what we shall do to meet them. I ask Senator Millen what he proposes to do in connexion with this Bill.
Can the honorable senator suggest any means by which, in dealing with this Bill, we can ‘ solve the problems to which he has referred? So far as I can see, it is not possible for us, in connexion with this Bill, to take any action to bring about what Senator Millen and others believe to be necessary. The various financial proposals of the Government must be assented to by both Houses of the Federal Parliament before they can be carried into effect. If they receive the assent of Parliament, then, presumably, a majority of the people of Australia are in favour of them.
– That does not prove them to be wise.
– No; but if the people of Australia indorse the proposals of the Government, they must be prepared to pay for them. If they return a Parliament pledged to cut down the revenue from Customs, there is only one alternative before them - they must be prepared to accept direct taxation from the Federal Parliament. There is no other alternative, except national bankruptcy or dishonest finance.
– Was that position put before the people of Australia ?
-Their commonsense should have taught them that that is the position. They should know that if they demand a protectionist policy which will destroy revenue from the Customs House, and at the same time pledge Par-“ liament to works involving very great public expenditure, they must be prepared to face the alternative of direct taxation. I rather rejoice at that prospect. I do not put that forward as ‘a doleful tale, because I think it is a thing to be desired.
– The honorable senator is on velvet, so far as direct taxation is concerned.
– Yes. On the one hand, the Government are cutting clown the revenue by’ a protective Tariff, and on the other hand they are bringing forward large spending proposals, which cut away the existing revenue. So that with both feet they are walking in my direction. I welcome them heartily. I shall very soon be able to embrace them, even if the embrace on their part may not be a willing one.
– The Labour Party had better absorb them.
– Possibly they may absorb us.
– Is it not possible that some public works may be constructed out of loan money, and that we shall have only to pay the interest thereon?
– I am glad to say that the record of the Commonwealth in that regard has been a; clean one, and I hope that it will long continue to be so.
– Surely the transcontinental railway cannot be built out of revenue !
– I think, we can get over that objection in a very satisfactory way, though perhaps this is not the proper time to say how Ave shall raise the money for that purpose. One objection always crops up whenever a Bill of this kind is brought forward by a Ministry. A Bill is submitted which ostensibly commits the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £600,000, whereas a great portion of that sum was voted in the previous year. Public works proposals are submitted, both Houses sanction the proposed expenditure, but the vote is not expended within the financial year. This Bill, for instance, provides . for a total expenditure of £241,824 on works and buildings for the transferred Departments, but of that sum no less than £60.847 was voted last year. That may not be dishonest finance, but, at any rate, it is very awkward finance. We get the credit of being extravagant, because we vote money twice. People say, “ Look at what a tremendous sum the Commonwealth proposes to expend,” when,, perhaps, we know, as a matter of fact, that at least £100,000 of the sum will not be spent within the financial year. One reason why a vote is not spent in the smaller States is that our public works are carried out through the State Department of Public Works at a percentage charge. If it happens to be busy, then the Commonwealth public work has to wait until the State work is completed. The works for the Defence and Post and Telegraph Departments are carried out1 through the Department of Home Affairs. First of all, one has to get the Post and Telegraph Department to agree that the erection of a post-office is necessary, and having done that, to persuade the Department of Home Affairs to get the State Department to take up the work of preparing plans and calling for tenders. When all that has been done, the State Department has to be asked to keep its eye upon the Federal work while it is in progress. That is cumbersome in the extreme. We have three Departments, one of which is beyond our control, dealing with public works. The State Department can always snap its fingers at us and treat us as’ if likes. The erection of a small post-office is sanctioned; but twelve months elapse and the vote for the purpose is not spent. That accounts largely for the large number of re-votes on the Estimates. I know of small works for Western Australia) which appear on the Estimates year after year, simply because it is almost impossible to get the money spent within the year. The remedy for that state of things is not to let one Department have anything to do with the carrying out of the public works. I do not see why the Department of Home Affairs should interpose between the Post and Telegraph Department and the State Department of Public Works. I can understand the Department- of Home Affairs taking the control of Federal works in New South Wales and Victoria, because in those States it calls for tenders and supervises the carrying out of the work. But why should it be interposed between the Post and Telegraph Department and the Public Works Department of Queensland? If we are prepared to allow the latter Department, which is equivalent to our Department of Home Affairs, to carry out a public work, why not let the whole business be transacted between that Department and the PostmasterGeneral ? I think it is owing to the interposition of the third Department that the delay occurs. In the case of several works in Western Australia, we have had to approach the Department of Home Affairs. On several occasions where there has been delay, we have been met with the excuse that the fault lay with the State Department. Having decided that a post-office in a place is necessary, the Postmaster-General and his Department are naturally interested in getting the work carried out. The Department of Home Affairs feels no particular interest in the matter. If, however, the Postmaster-General were acting directly with the State Department, he would be specially interested in seeing that a work was kept going ‘and was carried out promptly. I consider that in those States where Federal works are not directly carried out by the Department of Home Affairs, it should not interfere, but the business should be transacted between the Department directly concerned and the State Department. If honorable senators will glance at the schedules of these Bills, they will find that re-votes are very largely caused in that way. Another point which strikes me is in connexion with the expenditure on the Postal Department in New South Wales. I am not complaining of theamount of the proposed expenditure, or opposing it. No doubt it is necessary. Although in this Bill we are asked to authorize an expenditure of £13,600 for the purpose, the total ‘ expenditure to whichthat vote will commit the Parliament is- £51,000. It is somewhat singular that, whereas in the case of comparatively small, offices, the total sum to be voted is denoted by a footnote,- there is no footnotestating that in voting £13,600 in connexion, with the Postal Department in New South Wales we are committing ourselves to a further expenditure of £38,000. I welcome thefact that at last the Government havescrewed up their courage to establish a small arms factory. They have not cometo that decision a moment too soon, I think. I trust that in the selection of a site they will put out of consideration every questionof State jealousy, look upon Australia as. one country, and choose the best site, irrespective of whether it is within a stone’sthrow of Melbourne, Sydney, or any otherplace. With regard to the construction of a building in the Strand, London, I think weare justified in taking the step proposed. Undoubtedly we wish to build up a white nation, and to populate the country, sothat in time of trouble we may have sufficient defenders. I have never been, nor am I now, a supporter of a State-aided” system of immigration’. But I recognisethat in England there must be a large number of persons who now go to the United? States, Canada, and other countries, who* would make excellent citizens here. They have the necessary capital to come hereand make a stait, but they are attracted toCanada and other countries simply becausethose countries come more directly under their notice than does Australia.
– And because. they get direct assistance.
– The persons I amspeaking of are not those who get assistance. Those who go to the United Statesat the present time do not get assistance,, but have to depend entirely upon their ownresources.
– Those who go to Canada are assisted.
– I am not speakingof the class who are being assisted toCanada, but of the’ class who look around for other avenues of employment and are: attracted by the exhibition of alluring pictures of Canada, the United States, and other countries, whereas Australia is seldom or never heard of. I recognise that the secret ofa successful immigration policy is to make the country attractive by providing openings for labour and capital. I would be out of order if I were to indicate the policy which I think is the right one to pursue. But I recognise that, no matter how good our conditions may be, it is necessary to let the people of the world know what they are, and the erectionof London offices will afford us a means of disseminating that information . How tremendous are land values in London is shown by the ground rent which is asked for the site in the Strand; 18s. a square foot seems to us rather stiff. I believe that the Government will spend the money wisely. It is responsible to Parliament, and before any further expenditure can be incurred, parliamentary sanction must be obtained. The item has my cordial approval. I regret the absence of certain items from the Bill. I had hoped that the Government intended to grasp the nettle of naval defence. I understand, however, that their proposals have been delayed largely owing to the unfortunate illness of the Prime Minister.
– An item was included in the Estimates as introduced elsewhere, but was struck out because of the manifest wish of honorable members to hear the Prime Minister’s explanation.
– That, I believe, is the case. The naval defence of the Commonwealth is a pressing problem, and one upon which the Government should make a statement at the earliest moment. I do not think that we are called upon at the present time to consider the financial outlook as regards the Braddon section. In my opinion it is absolutely essential to the safety of the Federation that the Government should deal with the question in a firm and unflinching manner, being just to the States and also to the Commonwealth. They should recognise that it is absolutely impossible to secure an agreement between six State Premiers, with six different sets of conditions, and the Federal Treasurer. What is wanted is a Government strong enough to come down and say, Here is what we propose to ask the people’s representatives in each House of the Commonwealth Parliament to sanction, and if sanctioned, the States must accept it as the wish of the people.”
– Was not an agreement practically come to six months ago?
– One Minister, apparently without consulting the Cabinet, went to a Premiers’ Conference and tentatively agreed to submit to the Cabinet, and afterwards to Parliament, certain proposals.
– What the Prime Minister had practically approved.
– The Minister in question said that the Prime Minister had approved of them, and another Minister said that he had never seen them.
– It is doubtful if Parliament would approve of them.
– Yes, and it is very doubtful whether six State Parliaments would approve of them. If we are going to wait until the States come to an agreement amongst themselves, we shall have to wait until the crack of doom. The financial condition of the various States is continually changing. Take the position within the last five years. At the Hobart Conference, only one of the States Treasurers out of the six was able to say, “ I have a surplus,” namely, the Treasurer of Western Australia. But, on the occasion - of the last Premiers’ Conference in Brisbane, five of the Treasurers were able to say, “ We have surpluses,” whilst the Western Australian Treasurer had a deficit. The position was entirely reversed. How then can we expect agreement between the States Treasurers?
– Does the honorable senator think that the fact of a State having a surplus would cause it to moderate its demands ?
– The honorable senator has only to read the reports of the Conference to obtain an answer to his question. The Treasurer of Western Australia assumed quite a different tone at the Hobart Conference from that which he assumed at the Brisbane Conference. At Hobart, “ Everything in the garden was lovely.” He did not mind what proposal was adopted. Western Australia had a surplus ; she had a sinking fund for her loans; her revenue was buoyant, and so forth.
– Still he was inclined to take everything he could get.
– Yes; but he was in a far more reasonable and generous frame of mind than at the Brisbane Conference.
– Western Australia has been treated very generously.
– She has been allowed to impose double Customs duties on her own people, if that is what the hon.orable senator calls generosity.
– I presume that that was an advantage, to the State.
– It was an advantage to the State Treasurer undoubtedly. We want a Government that will come forward with a scheme, or a set of proposals, and . lay them before Parliament. Surely, we can’ trust the representatives of the people in the two Houses of the Federal Legislature to see that justice is done to the States. Can we believe that the Senate will assent to proposals which would mean the insolvency of the States ? I have sufficient confidence in the Senate to believe that any proposal adopted would be fair to the States, and at the same time fair to the Federation. The Federal Government occupies a strong position. When the Braddon section expires, the Federal Government can, if Parliament approves, take the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. Consequently, it holds the whip in its hand. This Parliament can, if it chooses, determine to return nothing to the States.
– If that is to be done, a Parliament will have to be elected pledged to that policy. Parliament may do exactly the opposite. It may continue the Braddon section.
– I am doubtful about that being done. From what I have seen of members who have been returned to this Parliament, I should say that before their return they held a much more exalted opinion about States rights than they did after they got here. After their return, we find that “ State finance “ becomes “ State extravagance,” and “ States rights “ become “ Federal rights.” I believe we shall always have a Federal Parliament that will be prepared to assert itself as the predominant partner in any scheme of Federal finance ; and I hope that we shall some day have a Federal Government that will be strong enough to take the lead, and not one that will wait upon the States in this matter. In Canada, the Dominion Government is the dominant partner -in relation to finance, and lays down the law with regard to the financial arrangements with the States. .
– The Canadian Con,stitution is different from ours.
– But the financial relations of the Dominion Government with the Provinces have been! modified since the establishment of the Canadian Federation. In any scheme that is prepared, provisionwill have to be made for the more necessitcus States. I recognise,’ for instance, that the same, provision cannot be made for a State like Tasmania ais is made for a vast and prosperous State, with a large population, like New South Wales.
– In time we shall be able to develop a deficiency even in New South Wales..
– New South Wales has been doing very well in that direction since Federation. We have had no indication from the Government that they are. prepared to deal with this question, and 1 am not very hopeful for the future. The greatest danger for Federation lies in weak government. The strength of Federation will lie in a Federal Government and a Federal Parliament with a financial policy on this most intricate question which they are prepared to carry through. But if we have a weak Government, with little or no policy. allowing itself to be pulled hither and thither by various conflicting State interests, as represented by the amount of. noise kicked up by those who advocate those interests for the time being, we shall “make no progress. I still hope to see a Government which will be able to tackle the problems indicated by Senator Millen, and to lay down a financial policy that will be advantageous to both Federation and States. In the meantime, we can do nothing but pass this Bill, because it provides for works which are absolutely necessary.
– The usual wind up !
– Can Senator Gr.ay point to any item in this Bill which is not necessary ? In regard to defence, for instance, surely there is no division in the measure that can be struck out. If the honorable senator can show me any unnecessary item, I shall be prepared to vote against it.
– It is not so much a question of whether any item is objectionable, but of whether the Bill ought to form part of the whole financial policy of the Government. Instead of that, it is thrown before us piecemeal.
– So far as I can see, part of the policy of the Government must be to carry on necessary works, such as are provided for by this Bill. At present we are not faced with a deficit. We have ample revenue to meet the obligations which We are incurring. The Government are not, like Mr. Micawber, faced with the necessity of toeing miserable. They have the proverbial sixpence in their pocket. It is when the Government have to find the sixpence that they will be in a difficulty. While we have a surplus of £103,000, I do not think that we are called upon to consider the means of raising revenue, but when we come within reasonable distance of a deficit, we shall have to make arrangements to provide for our needs. In the meantime, I support the Bill.
– - What has been said by Senator Pearce accentuates what some of us have been thinking for a considerable time past. That is that the Commonwealth will soon be over-running the constable if it goes on paying for public works out of revenue. That policy suits a certain .section in Parliament, who wish to force us to go in for direct taxation. I do not belong to that party. I do not want to see the Federal Parliament imposing direct taxation for many a year. That source of revenue ought to be left to the States. Whether we like it or not, we shall soon be faced with the necessity for a loan policy. Take the case of the London offices which it is proposed to erect. I suppose the cost of them will be between £300,000 and £400,000. Suppose they cost .£400,000. If we paid for them out of loan money the interest at 3 per cent, would be something like £12,000 per annum. It is much easier to pay £12,000 per annum than to make provision for the whole cost out of one year’s income.
– It would take four or five years to complete the building.
– I do not see that we ought to be expected to pay for public buildings out of revenue. They ought to be paid for out of loans. Then take the Federal Capital. Are we to be expected to pay for that out of one year’s income?
– No, of course not.
– I am one of those who believe that the sooner we set about the consolidation of the debts the better. Furthermore, at present no attempt has been made by the Commonwealth Government to arrive at a settlement with the States on account of the properties taken over. We are occupying them rent free.
– We have given the States £6,000,000 more than they were -entitled to under the Braddon section.
– We have given them some of their own money back; that is all. I should like to have further information with regard to the obligations we shall incur by voting the £1,000 on account of the Commonwealth offices in London. ‘ Is that sum to be a deposit which will be lost if we do not carry through the contract, or will it commit us in any way ? I find no fault with the proposed expenditure on defence. There is, however, a question which we shall have to think of before long, and that is what we propose doing in regard to immigration. Depend upon it if we have a larger population we shall be able to spend more money out of revenue on public works. If our population were one-fourth larger than it is we should have one-fourth more revenue from Customs and Excise. It is true that the Commonwealth has been able to pay to the States something like £5,750,000 more than they were entitled to under the Braddon section. But, while that is true in the aggregate, I am not far from the mark in saying that Queensland considers that she has not hud her fair share.
– A little over.
– I recognise that if we are to spend large sums on public buildings we must do so by means of loans.
– Apart from the particular question that has been the principal subject of debate, I think the public will be gratified at the attention that has been devoted to the financial position. I indicated in my speech on the Bounties Bill that I had some anxiety about the financial position. I feel pleased, and I am sure the Senate is more than pleased, with the excellent speech which has been delivered from this side of the Chamber concerning the position into which the Commonwealth is either deliberately going, or senselessly drifting. This is a very convenient and useful opportunity, without making any party move, to point out the situation for the grave consideration of the Government, because the question will have to be decided very shortly either by the present or some other Administration. It appears that a sum of .£1,000 is asked for something, and it also appears that it is not quite clear what that something is. My objection to the course taken by the Government is that they had a very long recess, during which the Prime Minister and one of his colleagues spent some time in
London. In those five or six months, the subject could have been discussed more or less leisurely. They knew that the Premier of Victoria was looking for a site in London, and, according to what’ we have gathered from the debates in another place, and from what has appeared in the press, there was actual competition or rivalry then with regard to this site.- Yet, after that lapse of time, we are practically asked now to vote £1,000, although, notwithstanding the ingenuity, and, to a certain extent, the candour of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the destination of the grant, and the probable result of sanctioning it, are not yet quite clear. That is why, in a somewhat hostile sense, I interjected, “ Is this a second mail contract business?” I hope the Government will profit by the very severe lesson they received in that connexion about the difficulties and dangers of dealing with deposits and options on contracts.
– The deposits and options were the other way about in that case.
– But it is not yet clear that we are in the fortunate position of being able to say, “ Heads I win, tails you lose,” so far as this £1,000 is concerned. But for consideration- for the general welfare and the business of the country, I should not assent to this grant. But I believe that every honorable senator on this side of the Chamber is particularly anxious to have the Tariff settled:
– Time will prove that.
– We are particularly anxious to have the Tariff dealt with, and, notwithstanding the strong grounds of objection that there are to this particular vote, or to the works and buildings policy of the Government generally, we should not be doing pur duty now by assailing the position of the Government on a minor issue. We feel tEat our duty to the country is to let the Government bring the Tariff before both Chambers as quickly as possible, because it is the supreme desire of the country that that question should be settled at once for a considerable time to come. Although it is not the custom on the other’ side of the Chamber’ to give us credit for generosity or political magnanimity, still, as in time we become better acquainted’ with (each other’s desires, I hope that a better understanding .will prevail, and that’ they will recognise that sometimes -‘we. refrain from ‘doing things which might give us a’ party advantage, in order to help forward what we consider to be thesupreme interests of the Commonwealth.
– A most surprising statement.
– I am glad that my remark has been received in good faith,, and fully reciprocated.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council doubt the capacity of the Opposition- to harass theGovernment if it wants to?
– I never doubted it for a moment.
– I hope that noremark of mine can be taken as disparaging the ability of this side of the Chamber to do so. We had the opportunity, if wehad wished to resort to mere party tactics, of embarrassing the Government considerably by making a rather warm attack on« these Estimates. But I am delighted, personally, that nothing of that sort is to beclone. I hope that nothing will be doneto give the Government an excuse to allegethat we on this side aire delaying the settlement of the Tariff. Whether the Tariff” is to be free-trade, protectionist, or prohibitive, the whole of Australia, is anxiousthat we should settle it. What I have stated shows that we are perfectly earnest and sincere in our desire to give effect to the supreme desire of the mercantile, commercial, and working classes of Australia. Probably the opposition to this large vote for works and buildings would have been very much warmer and longer sustained”but for our recognition of the fact that thewhole of Australia fervently desires that the Tariff question, affecting as it does important industries-
– The honorable senator is straying somewhat from the question. I ask him to confine himself moreclosely to the subject before the Senate.
– On the subject immediately before us, I cordially indorse Senator Pearce’s excellent speech. Whether’ the Commonwealth offices are placed in theStrand or some other portion of London,both Houses a.re unanimous that we must have offices there, to form the centre of very important negotiations.
– Should not we have the High Commissioner’ first ?
– We cannot have the High Commissioner without theoffices.’ One of the important functions tobe discharged there by the High Commissioner ‘will be the dealing with the- question- or immigration. That .view is indorsed by Senator Pearce. Next to. the settlement of the Tariff, the supreme need of Australia is immigration. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to Canada every year.
– I do not know whether there is any item in the Bill relating to immigration. I believe that there is not, and, if so, the honorable senator is not in order in discussing that question.
– I hope, at any rate that part of the object of the erection of Commonwealth offices in London will be the initiation of a systematic effort to secure immigration. If I could see that the Government intended to make some practical effort in that direction, I should assent much more readily to this vote of ,£1,000. I do not intend to offer any opposition to it now. I -am glad to see that earnest and serious thought will be given to the subject by honorable senators on the opposite side, for I take it that Senator Pearce, to some extent, reflects their wishes. I am very glad -that Senator Walker has brought forward the question of how long we can continue to draw upon our one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue for -money to carry out the works and buildings policy of the Commonwealth. I do not think that any of the States can object to the increase in the vote for defence purposes. It is vitally necessary, considering the trend of events in the Pacific, with which we are necessarily immediately and seriously concerned. The time is not far distant, in the course of human affairs, when the whole of Australia will have to face the situation. Every one of us may fervently send up our prayers that that contingency may be averted.
– rit is better to watch than to pray.
– Exactly. I say, with Cromwell, “ Trust in God and keep your powder dry.” I agree with’ Senator Walker that we must seriously consider how long we can continue to finance entirely out of revenue the undertakings necessary for the development of the Commonwealth. I am not in favour of anything like the extravagant expenditure which has characterized the financial administration of many of the States in the past. The States, from a financial point of view, have left themselves seriously open to the adverse criticism of the financiers of the world by their administration of loan expenditure. I believe that there has been gross extravagance to some extent in the past, but that is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should decree that for all time none of our works must be paid for out of loan money. Whilst the taxpayers of the present day have no right to be extravagant and call upon posterity to- bear an unfair burden, the converse is equally true. We .should not bear the whole of the burden of works built now, ‘ but intended also for the benefit of our descendants for years to come. That is a sound principle which all the nations of the world have adopted. Whenever development by permanent public works is undertaken, by which posterity will benefit more largely than we shall, posterity should take some of the burden. The only way in which that policy can be given sound effect to is by a well administered and economic loan system. I am happy to say that such a system appears to have been adopted by Western Australia, and, “to some extent, is in force in Queensland, where provision is made for the redemption of loans, and their redemption is extended over a period of fifty or sixty years. That is a sound policy to adopt. The Western Australian Government are adopting the principle that, in connexion with every loan, a sinking fund must be established, so that in a number of years the payments to that fund will gradually pay off ‘ the loan. In Queensland we have a provision that every surplus on the year’s expenditure must be set aside for the redemption of loan indebtedness. Sooner or later the Commonwealth Parliament will have to face this problem. We cannot continue to call upon the taxpayers of Australia to pay directly for works, the benefits of which will be largely enjoyed by posterity. Senator Pearce has said that the policy so far pursued will probably result in direct taxation. The honorable senator is not so much interested as others are in bringing the Government sharply to took in this connexion. I am with him when he says that it is about time that the Government should distinctly declare what the position of the Commonwealth is likely to be, and the measures they intend to take to meet that position. I have indicated how I think our difficulty should be met. I think that we shall have to enter upon a loan policy, and arrange with the States with regard to further contributions, and as to how the States debts are to be treated. I join with Senator Pearce in demanding from the ‘ Government some direct explanation of their policy in connexion with the important financial questions with which we are confronted.
– I listened with very great interest to part of the speech delivered by Senator Millen. I regret very much that I was unable to be present during the whole of the time he was speaking. But, after all, the honorable senator merely stated a number of facts that are well within the knowledge of honorable senators. If the Government are without light or leading on the subject of finance, the Opposition are, apparently, in exactly the same predicament, if Senator Millen can be taken as their mouthpiece.
– The obligation to expound a policy is upon the, Government, and not upon the Opposition.
– The Opposition were in the same position when they were on the Treasury bench.
– Yes, they had their opportunity. They occupied the Treasury bench for no inconsiderable time, and they allowed matters to drift, as the present Government are, apparently, going to do. I agree with Senator Millen that it is extremely desirable that the Government should give Parliament some outline of their financial policy. We are rapidly approaching a time when we shall be expending more money than we are receiving, and when we shall be face to face with a deficit. I am exceedingly anxious to know how the Government propose to add to the revenue of the Commonwealth in view of the fact that the Braddon section cannot be interfered with for at least three years. It is estimated that we shall require to use the whole of our one-fourth share of the net Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth, with the exception of £103,000.
– On non-recurring expenditure.
– The probability is that before 1910 our expenditure will very largely exceed one-fourth of the net Customs and Excise revenue, and, in the circumstances, the Government should at least give us some inkling of what they intend to do. They have three courses open to them until the Braddon section is either continued, modified, or abolished. Thev can raise revenue, as we do at present, in which case, if they require
Fi, 000, 000, they must raise £4,000,000. They can ask for power to impose special duties, the whole of the revenue from which can be retained by the Federal Government for Federal purposes, or they can impose direct taxation.
– Which the honorable senator would prefer.
– Which I would . undoubtedly prefer. In the last session of the last Parliament, the Government made an attempt to pass a measure under which the people were to. be asked to give this Parliament power to raise additional revenue by the imposition of special duties for the establishment of an Old-age Pensions scheme, and for other purposes. I am quoting the words used by ex-Senator Playford, who, on the occasion I referred to, was not at all definite. He said he would not bind the Government down to old-age pensions, but that the money raised by the special duties imposed might ber and undoubtedly would be, used for a number of other purposes.
– He mentioned one other purpose - defence.
– That is so; and” I gathered from what he said, and from certain statements which have fallen from Sir John Forrest, that this .is the Government policy. If they require more money they intend to ask the people for permission to impose special duties, the revenuefrom which is. to be retained for Federal purposes. I may say that if any proposal of that character is again introduced in theSenate, I shall oppose it as vigorously asI did a similar proposal when it was submitted at the close of the last Parliament.
– Can. the honorablesenator go through the present Tariff, and’ point to a single article that is not already taxed ?
– We could not get a single State to approve of additional Customs taxation.
– I am not so sureabout that. In any case, I’ am not now dealing with the States or the Tariff, but with so much of the Government policy ashas been disclosed. I do not know whether the’ Government intend to carry out the financial policy of Sir John Forrest. Thepublic have never been informed as to why that right honorable gentleman left theCabinet, whether it was because his financial policy was not indorsed by the other members of the Government, because of hisdisgust at being kept. in power by the Labour Party, because he had had a surfeit of eating dirt, or because lie was offended? at not being continued in the position of Acting Prime Minister. We do not know for which of these reasons he left the Government. My own opinion is that he left for one or another of these reasons, it may be for- a combination of them all, but, in any case, and without disrespect to the right honorable gentleman, I do not- think he is much loss to the Government. What we are particularly interested in now is to get some disclosure from the Government of their intended financial policy. It has been said that Federal expenditure is mounting up year after year, but I defy any member of the Senate to put his finger on any particular item in the schedule to this Bill, and say that the expenditure proposed in connexion with it is unnecessary and might be cut out. We have to deal with the question of defence. It is admitted on every hand that the Commonwealth must provide much more effectively for its defence than . it has hitherto attempted to do. If that is to be done, additional expenditure must be incurred. Then we cannot always sit in the house of our friend, no matter how hospitably inclined that friend may be. Some day we must establish a Federal Capital, and that also will involve a very large expenditure of money. Whether the money will be raised by loan, or paid out of revenue year by year, as Senator McGregor seems to suggest, no one here can tell. The one thing. we know is that the Federal Capital must be established, and that it will cOst a very large sum of money.
– Has the honorable senator any idea how much it will cost?
– I have not the slightest idea how much it will cost, nor have I any idea as to how much it ought to cost, but I should like to say that I trust that if the Federal Parliament spends £750,000 upon parliamentary buildings, as the State Parliament of Victoria has done, a more comfortable building will be provided than the one in which we now hold our meetings.
– We are housed like princes.
– No doubt this chamber is very ornate, but the other conveniences in connexion with the building are not nearly as comfortable as they ought to be.
– The honorable senator should remember that this building was designed fifty years ago.
– I remember all that, but I hope that if the Federal Parliament spends a similar sum of money upon parliamentary buildings, we shall see that every yard of space is properly utilized, and that the members of the Federal Parliament are as conveniently housed as modern ideas of architecture will allow. It is ‘admitted on every hand that we are not only morally bound to take over the Northern Territory, but that the safety of Australia depends, not merely on our taking it over, but on our peopling and developing it. All this involves more and more money-, and where is it to come from ? Then we require to make provision for our old-age pensions. I am very glad to find that State after State is establishing a system of old-age pensions, but I think it will be agreed that the Federal authority must ultimately, and within a very limited period indeed, take over the matter. What is desired is that an old-age pension shall be payable to every man or woman who has lived a certain number of years, not in any particular State, but in Australia, and until the Federal authority makes provision for a Federal ‘ system of oldage pensions that cannot be done. Then there are the harbors and lights to be taken over ; tthat, again, will mean additional expenditure. Last, but not least, at present, I would mention the question of penny postage. I know that a number of honorable senators are opposed to that proposal, but I think that within a veryshort period the system must be adopted. That also will cost some money. When the whole of ‘ these -services, and others which might be mentioned, are added together, we find that the additional expenditure to be borne by the Federal Parliament will be very large indeed, and must be provided for in some way or other. In these circumstances, I think it is only fair to ask the Government how it proposes to meet that additional expenditure - not only how it proposes to tide over the interval between now and 1910, but also what it intends to do in that year. Does it intend to continue the Braddon “blot’: as it is at present, or to abolish the “ blot “ or to modify the “ blot,” or to substitute a fixed payment for the “blot,” and, if not, what does it intend to do”? The Parliament and the country want some leading on this very important question. We have the States with their own ideas of finance. The States, if I gather their decision from the last Conference, want the Braddon section continued in another and, what I believe to be, a worse form ; they want a fixed payment per annum. In that way they claim that Federal and State finance will be completely separated. I hold that if that idea is adopted we shall be a very long way indeed from severing State from Federal finance. The Federation will be, to all intents and purposes, pinned down to a revenue Tariff. We shall have to pay each State probably more than it is being paid at the present moment ; and we shall have to pay that money whether it is obtained from the Customs or not.
– Does not “the honorable senator- expect that the States will grow; and that as they grow their revenue will increase every year?
– I hope that the States and the Federation will grow, but I trust that our revenue from the Customs will grow smaller by degrees and beautifully less. I believe that the raising of revenue by means of Customs duties is one of the most cunning devices ever contrived for robbing the poor man and allowing the rich man to escape. I believe that it is largely responsible for one of the most serious evils which afflict Australia to-day. If we had had a proper system of finance’, there would not be any land monopoly here to-day, because the land, being quite open to bear its fair share of taxation, could not possibly be held by monopolists, as is the case now, and has unfortunately been the case in the past.
– This is the old story of King Charles’ head.
– It’ does not matter whether it is an old story ; it is one of which the honorable senator will hear a great deal more in the future than he has ever heard in the past; in fact, it is the one question in Australian politics which appears to be of any consequence. It does not matter how many other things we settle, if we leave that question untouched and unsettled, the Continent will continue to be in exactly the same unsatisfactory position as it is in today. Believing that, I hope not for an increase of Customs taxation, but for a decrease
– I remind the honorable senator that he is getting very far away from the subjeGt-matter of the Bill.
– I will try to come back to the question. I was asking the Government what its intentions are with regard to the Braddon “blot.”
– They have not any..
– I think that the honorable senator outrht to allow the Government to answer the question. I am exceedingly anxious to know what is the policy. of the Government in that regard. As: I said a little while ago, the States Treasurers want a fixed payment. If that idea is adopted, the Federal Parliament will be bound down so long as the arrangement lasts to a system of indirect taxation. I do not want that, and therefore I am opposed to. anything in the’ way of a fixed payment. Does the Government propose to abolish the Braddon “ blot “ if it is in power in 1910, which is very problematical?
– It will not be in power.
– We might have a very much worse Government in power. T am well satisfied with some of the work which the Government has done.
– I understood the honorable senator to be finding fault with the Government.
– Of course, there are spots on the sun.
– - The honorable senator said just now that the Government has no policy.
– No. I said that the Government has not disclosed its policy. I want to find out what it is.
– Living from hand to mouth.
– If the Government intends to continue the Braddon section, I have not the slightest objection, because the Federation, if it is to continue spending the money which it must spend, must impose direct taxation, and that is the very thing I want.
– Exactly. King Charles’ head again.
– Direct taxation is a thing which the honorable senator is not going to get.
– Why, even the Age is coming round to the idea of direct taxation.
– It will take a long time to get it.
– The stern logic of facts is doing more to bring about direct taxation than is any member of the Labour Party. It is as inevitable as that the sun will rise to-morrow, and Senator McColl, who appears to think that he can resist it for all time, need not delude himself with any idea of that character.
– It will come all right, but we shall not see it.
– I hope it will. I am not exactly a Methuselah yet. Ihope to live a few years, if I get fair play, and during that period I am extremely hopeful that I shall see a very large measure of direct taxation imposed, either by the Commonwealth or by the States.
– That is another question.
– I admit frankly that I would prefer the States to impose direct taxation. In the ultimate it really matters very little whether the Braddon section is continued or discontinued. If it is continued, and the States must get their three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, as at present, the Commonwealth will be compelled to raise revenue in some other way.
– Order. I ask the honorable senator how he proposes to connect these remarks with’ a proposal to pay out of the Consolidated Revenue a sum of £686,824 for the purpose of carrying out the public works specified in the schedule to the Bill? He will be in order in pointing out obligations which the Government will have to meet as a reason for not voting for the Bill, but not in discussing the desirability of adopting some other form of taxation. If there is a desire to make an alteration in that regard, it should be dealt’ with either on a specific motion or on a Bill introduced by the Government; but it is not in order for the honorable senator to pursue the topic as he has been doing. I should be very sorry if I had to stop the honorable senator, but I cannot allow him to go any further in that direction.
– Of course, sir, I must bow to your ruling. Other senators probably did not travel so far into the subject as I have done, but they referred to it.
– Yes. I have no objection to an incidental reference to any matter, so long as it is pertinent, but the honorable senator was entering upon a lengthy argument.
– When the Governmentasks us to commit the Parliament to an expenditure which will probably exceed our visible income in the very near future, I think it is within the right of any honorable senator to ask for a disclosure of its policy, and to inquire how it intends to find the money. In any case, seeing that I am out of order, I will not pursue that aspect of the subject.
– I do not want the honorable senator to misunderstand me. I do not object to him asking the Government to state how it intends to find the money to pay for these public works, because that will be pertinent to the Bill; but it is out of order to discuss schemes of taxation which may at some time or other be submitted to this Parliament for its consideration.
– One or two of the speakers - I think Senators St. Ledger and Walker - declared themselves in favour of a loan policy. While they acknowledge the good work which has hitherto been done by the Federal authority in erecting public buildings out of revenue, they seem to think it is not desirable that that state of affairs should continue. I do not believe that there is a country under the sun, except Australia, which, when it wants to build a post-office, borrows the money at the other end of the world. The whole affair seems so ridiculous that I am astonished that any self-respecting citizen of Australia should entertain it for a single moment. I am not in favour of borrowing, but I believe that there are many enterprises which could hardly be carried out without loan expenditure. Australia would never have reached its present stage of development but. for the “loan industry,” of which we have heard so much.
– How does the honorable senator propose to pay for the £10,000, 000 worth of property taken over from the States? Out of revenue?
– I would not pay for those properties at all. I would simply take over an amount of debt equivalent to their value.
– That is the same as raising a loan.
– It is not. It is merely talcing money out of one pocket and putting it into another. If, as the honorable senator suggests, the Commonwealth were to borrow £10,000,000 to pay for the properties, it would hand that sum over to the States. Is that what the honorable senator wants us to do?
– I shall be quite satisfied if we take over an equivalent portion of the debts. But that will be practically the same as borrowing money.
– There is no necessity to raise a farthing by way of loan. Instead of the States paying the interest on £10,000,000, the Commonwealth would pay it.
– But the Commonwealth would owe the principal also.
– Of course. It would be charged against Commonwealth expenditure, and would reduce the Commonwealth surplus. It would still further limit our power of spending, unless we were prepared to impose taxation.
– The honorable senator does not seem to see that that would be the beginning of a loanpolicy.
– There would be no loan whatever. The Commonwealth would simply become responsible for the principal. If particular loans could be earmarked, I suppose some arrangement could be made to the effect that when those loans fell due the Commonwealth would either have to pay the principal or renew them. But, so far as concerns loans for post-offices and works of that character, I trust that the Commonwealth will continue the policy that it has initiated, and pay for them out of revenue.
– There will be no Capital city, then.
– I do not see that. There is nothing to prevent us from erecting a Capital city. But adopting a phrase which was used by Sir John Forrest in another place, I am not going to jump that fence until. I reach it. If, when the matter comes before us, it seems to me to be desirable to pay for the work out of revenue, out of revenue it will have to come, so far as my vote is concerned. With regard to the London offices of the Commonwealth, I have again to complain that the Government have not taken the Senate into their confidence. It appears that negotiations have been going on for some months. It is only to-day that we are asked to vote £1,000 practically to commit the Commonwealth to an unknown expenditure, and it is only to-day that information on the subject is vouchsafed to us. With all respect to the Government, I say that that is not treating the Senate in a proper fashion. If Parliament is to exercise any control over expenditure, and if the Senate is to look after the interests of the States, as it is supposed to do, we ought to have fuller opportunities of examining proposals of this kind. If I were a member of the Opposition, I should be very much tempted to do everything within my power to defeat the Government in connexion with this matter. The Government ought to be taught a lesson not to treat the Senate with the contempt which they apparently feel.
– What is the honorable senator complaining about? He has the fullest opportunity of talking at length and getting all the information that he wants.
– It is only to-day that we are asked to vote £1,000, thereby practically committing us to buying the London site.
– The Senate is asked to authorize the Government to negotiate for the site.
– And for the erection of buildings. It is only to-day that we have had any documents placed in our hands in connexion with the matter.
– The honorable senator knows that the proposal could not be discussed at one and the same time in both Houses.
– Does the Government require the £1,000 for the purpose of carrying on negotiations on the subject ?
– This vote enables Parliament to express its approval or disapproval of the proposal to acquire a site.
– But we ought to have more information before we are asked to express approval or disapproval. What do we know about the subject? The only information we have is that which has been placed in our hands to-day.
– What information does the honorable senator want?
– A great deal more than appears here.
– I made a very full statement.
– We have the plans before us.
– For some months past the Government have been sending cablegrams to London, yet not a syllable of information has been given to either House of the Legislature.
– Does the honorable senator want to know the quality of the soil or what the drainage is like?
– No, I do not; but I think that we ought to have been treated less cavalierly by the Govern- ment. I suppose that they ha,ve depended largely upon our unwavering loyalty. But when I think the matter over probably the Government are not so much to blame after all. There has been so much danger of the business of the country being submerged by floods of eloquence in another place that probably the Government thought discretion was the better part of valor, and did not bring their proposals before Parliament until the last moment, knowing perfectly well that had they been brought up twelve months before, the debate would have continued all the time.
– The honorable senator is blowing hot and cold.
– I am simply showing why the Government is, perhaps, not wholly responsible for what I have been complaining about. Probably the Opposition in another place may be called upon to bear some share of the responsibility. But I complain seriously that 1 have not been furnished with earlier information. We are told that Sir William Lyne has to-day cabled for more particulars. I observe that it is stated that the option was continued for two months. What was the option ? I suppose- it was this - that the London County Council reserved this particular piece of land for two months until the Commonwealth had an opportunity of considering whether it would, make an offer. If the option expired to-day, and has not been renewed, I presume that the County Council will be in a position to treat with other persons who have made offers so that we shall have competitors in the field for this piece of land. It appears to me that the Acting Prime Minister ought not. tq have left his decision over until >the last moment. An honorable senator has referred to the question of immigration. The President ruled him out of order. But I find that in one paragraph of the document that has been circulated in connexion with the London offices it is stated that it is - proposed to erect offices which will accommodate the High Commissioner for the Commonwealth, and permit of the transaction of emigration, financial, as well as the ordinary agency business of the London Office.
– That is not part of the Bill.
– But one of the objects of the establishment of these offices is the transaction of emigration business. That is* expressly stated in . the document which has been circulated. We know that the Government have an immigration policy. In a’ny case4 no one is more desirous than I am of seeing the population of Australia, largely ‘increased.
– I again point out to the honorable senator that he will not be in order in debating the question of immigration. The document which he has read will not assist him at all in that regard. The text of the Bill and its schedules are the. matters upon which the question of relevancy must be considered.
– I should like to know whether the Government have communicated with the States to ascertain whether they will be prepared to take offices in the new premises, and whether, if the Commonwealth is to incur this large expenditure in addition to the cost of the appointment of a High Commissioner, the States will consent to a reduction of their expenditure on Agents-General? I am sorry that we did not have a better opportunity of scrutinizing this proposal, but I suppose that after all the Government have, done the best they could. While we have a Government we must place some confidence in them, and, that being the case, I think I shall support the Government in their proposal, so far as I can see at present.
– Whenever a Bill of this character comes before the Senate my first thought always is that I am a trustee for the people, with the duty of seeing that their money is expended to the best advantage. It has been pointed out, and is a fact, that the Government’s proposals are to decrease the public revenue0 and increase the expenditure. Senator Pearce very clearly stated that we were faced with the alternatives of bankruptcy or direct taxation. I therefore wish to criticise as well as I can the expenditure proposed. I have no confidence whatever in the business capacity of the Government. We know what has occurred in the past, and now I find that in the memorandum which is put before us the Acting Prime Minister states- -
On the 17th May I had an interview with the valuer of the County Council, in company with Captain Collins, and received information as fo the building conditions, terms of the lease, &c.
In spite of that, I understand that the honorable gentleman sent a cablegram on the very day on which the option was to expire for information on these subjects. If he had the information before, why has he not made use of it? The object of this expenditure is stated to be the acquisition of a site for Commonwealth offices in the Strand, London. Are the offices intended for business, social, or ornamental purposes? If for business purposes, the Strand is not the best site that could be got. If for ornamental purposes, the site is certainly not the best; and if for social purposes, it is one of the worst. Business is done in the city, where all the great financial institutions have their head offices. The AgentsGeneral in a report which they made a short time ago, at the request of the Government, in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner, stated that offices might easily be rented in London at an annual rental of from £1,000 to £4,000, according to the purpose for which they were required.
– Does the honorable senator disapprove of the site?
– Canada has a fair idea of a good position, and yet it has launched out heavily in that locality.
– If we are to emulate Canada, the first thing we ought to do is to follow her example in the matter of immigration. We should get the money which she is getting, and then we could talk about building a £400,000 office. It has been suggested that the High Commissioner should live in the proposed building. He might as well live at 77 Bourke-street. The proposal is simply absurd. What is really required is a business office. The Strand site, of which I know something, is not suitable at all.
– Where does the honorable senator suggest?
– It should be in the city, where business is concentrated. We should consider what work we are going to undertake there. If the building is to be principally for the use of the High Commissioner, there will be very littlefor him to do until the States concede to the Commonwealth the power to deal with their financial operations. We have not that power now, and I cannot see any necessity whatever for hurrying this proposal on. There is a sum of £900 under the Department of Home Affairs for additions, sundry offices, Tasmania. I should like the Minister, when the schedule is’ being dealt with, to give me some information as to what is included in that vote.
.- A great deal of the money which it is intended to spend on a large building in London would be better spent in putting up buildings to be occupied by persons who are now in the service of the Commonwealth. Certain sums are put down for post-offices in various places. I believe they are badly required, but there are a great many more places where they are equally badly wanted. Some of the buildings that people have to live in and do business which brings in revenue for the Commonwealth are simply ridiculous.
– In what State?
– In Queensland.
– That is the fault of the State, and not the Federal Government.
– It is the fault of the Federal Government during the last six years, at least. In plenty of buildings used for post-offices men have to work and live in little rooms with a galvanized iron roof within a few feet of their heads. They are not fit for men to live in and? transact business. It is different in this State, where the men have large and palatial structures to work in. I am not rinding fault with the Government for expending the money they are going to expend, but I should willingly have supported! a larger amount. The same applies to the vote for defence. I hope that the Government will increase these votes in supplementary Estimates. If they do I shall be prepared to support them in that direction.
– How will they get the money ?
– That is for the Government, and not for me, to propose. How did they get the money for the increase in salaries? We got that put through quick and lively, and we were paid the increase. We did not ask the Government then how they were going to find the money. They, found it.
– Thehonorable senator voted against it.
– The Government found the money, all the same. We are told that offices are to be built in London for the purpose of doing the business of the Commonwealth, and especially to forward the work of immigration. I do not think the class of people that we want in Australia will be picked up in the streets of London gazing at this magnificent building.
– We must have a centre to work from.
– It is not a. palatial building that will attract them here. The people we want are in the country districts, whither we shall have to send agents and lecturers, and money will have to be found for that purpose. I object to passing this vote of £1,000 to-night, because I agree with other honorable senators, who have spoken that we have not . been given sufficient information. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in reading the cablegrams to us to-day, distinctly stated that the Government had wired to Captain Collins, in London, to obtain information, and that he was to send it out by mail. These negotiations started in May last, and it was well known to the Government - no one could know it better - that the option expired on 26th September. We did not hear a word of this, but were kept in the dark until the very last day. Then we were given certain .information. I cannot see why the information which is now asked for from London could not have been procured in that long interval. I suppose that Mr. Bent, when he made his deal, knew whether he would have, to pay rates, and the exact position in which he would stand. The Commonwealth Government, on the other hand, began negotiations for the land in May last, and yet up to the present they have not made the necessary inquiries. If any business man approached his shareholders with a request that they should vote money, and told them at the same time that after negotiating for six months he was only now beginning to make inquiries, he would he laughed out of court. I have noticed the Vice-President of the Executive Council smiling when honorable senators have been speaking. He may well smile, because he knows, as was said in another place, that the numbers are up. That is a well known fact. Several honorable senators on the other side of the Chamber have supported our contention, but have wound up by saying that the Government were not altogether to blame, and that they would vote for the project. I do not think they really mean it. They must have been laughing up their sleeves while pretending to criticise the Government, knowing that they were going to vote for the Government’ after all. The Vice-President of the Executive Council would not have attempted to lay the proposal before the Senate in this manner if he had not known that He had a majority, and that they would back the Government up whether right or wrong. Those honorable senators have denounced the proposal on the floor of the Senate. In fact, Senator Pearce said that the Commonwealth was drifting to ruin, and Senator Stewart, who is a supporter of the Government, although he says that he is not, condemned them in stronger language than I am likely to use. His criticism was so strong that the VicePresident of the Executive Council, by interjection, asked him what he wanted. I suppose the honorable gentleman was anxious lest he should lose a supporter, but the honorable senator wound up nicely by saying that he would support the Government. That is the position we are in, and it is not a nice position. We have members of the Senate who do not believe in the policy of the Government, but who, for party purposes, will continue to support them. What sort of legislation can we expect in these circumstances? If the Government secure the approval of Parliament to this vole of £1,000, the next time they make a reference to the matter it will be to say that they have spent the money, and made all the arrangements, involving further expenditure. I believe that in order that they may be able to do that, the Government are concealing certain information from the Senate. Once this vote is. passed, we shall hear no more of the matter until the Government announce that the Commonwealth is pledged to certain expenditure. I have read the debates which took place in the House of Representatives, and I am convinced that I have indicated, the position which the Government will take up. If they do take up that position, they will be quite within their rights, because I hold that by passing this vote we shall authorize them to purchase the land referred to. I have seen the statement reported that at 13s. per foot the total annual rent which will have to be paid for this land will be ,£1,400. How do such statements come to be published? Another statement published is that the amount that will have to be paid *s £2,70°- Some people may believe these statements, and yet we have been informed to-da.y that if we get the land at 13s. per foot, the rental will amount to £6,500 per annum. Then the Government do not know whether, on top of that, they will not have to pay taxation to the extent of 10s. in the .£.
– They will have to pay more.
– The Government do not know what they will have to pay in the way of taxation, and they are wiring Home to Captain Collins to obtain the information, and send it outto Australia by the next mail. If we must wait until the arrival of thenext mail for this information, why should there toe so much hurry about the passing of this vote? Honorable members in another place were told that the matter was urgent, and thatunless it was dealt with to-day it would be too late to deal with it. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council was asked to say what the option was, he said that there was no option. In another place, honorable members were told that there was an option, and that it would expire to-day. How are these contradictory statements of Ministers to be reconciled? From what has transpired, I think there must have been something in the nature of an option given to the Federal Government. If we were supplied with all the information to which we are entitled as to the terms on which this land may be secured, I might be disposed to support the proposal, but the Minister representing the Government in the Senate cannot tell us what they propose to do with the £1,000 when they get it. He is unable to say whether it is to be paid as a deposit to bind the London County Council or what is to be done with it. It is a vote for something that is unspecified, and in the Queensland Legislative Assembly I have known a vote for unspecified railways tobe “ stone-walled “ for a week until the Government explained what they required the money for, and on what lines it was to be. expended.
– I gave honorable senators a full explanation of this vote.
– The Minister must excuse me if I say that the informationhe gave was very misleading.
– That is a very improper thing to say.
– I mean, when taken in conjunction with the statements which have been made in another place in connexion with the same matter. The honorable senator gave us some information regarding a cable which was to be sent to the representative of the’ Commonwealth in London asking for particulars to be sent outby the first mail.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– I certainly understood the honorable senator to say that a wire had been sent to Captain Collins requesting him to send out certain information by the first mail.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to read the cablegram again. This is the message which has been sent -
House of Representatives last night agreed to Government opening negotiations with County Council, and if conditions found suitable an offer will be made. Information first desired on following points. What happens at end of niney-nine years. What is furthest time that would be allowed for commencing building. What rates and taxes are lessees liable to pay? It is considered that conditions should provide for renewal on expiry of lease on reappraisement or building paid for at valuation. Obtain building conditions and forward by first mail. Offer if made will probably be for whole Strand frontage with depth of sixty-five feet.
It is only the information with respect to the building conditions that is to be sent by the first mail. The other information is sought at once.
– I wish to know whether the Minister will pledge his word that before any contract is entered into for the purchase of the lease, Parliament will be consulted? If he will say that when information is received as to the terms on which this land can be secured, Parliament will be consulted before any contract is entered into, I shall withdraw my objection to the vote. If the Minister is not prepared to give that pledge, I must repeat my contention that if we pass this vote the Government will consider themselves entitled to conclude a contract for securing this land, and will claim that Parliament is committed to the necessary expenditure.
– I have told honorable senators that, before any contract for a building is let, Parliament will be consulted.
– Will the honorable senator say that when the Government receives information as to the conditions on which the land can be secured, the price to be paid per foot, and theextent of taxation, Parliament will be consulted as to whether the Commonwealth shall secure this land or not? On the other hand, are we to be asked to pay what1 ever amount the Government pleases to submit, on the ground that Parliament, in passingthis vote for £1,000, will have committed itself to the whole scheme? Perhaps whenthe Vice-President of the Executive Council rises to reply, he will be able to assure honorable senators’ that before the Government finally decides to secure this land, all the particulars will be laid before Parliament, and we shall be consulted in the matter.
– Certainly not. The very object of this vote is to give the Government authority to negotiate for a contract.
– And to purchase the lease.
– Certainly. I said so distinctly in my remarks.
SenatorSAYERS. - Then my contention all along has been the correct one, and in passing this vote we are being asked to give the Government authority to spend whatever amount of money they please in securing this land, without letting Parliament know the conditions on which it is secured. I am not prepared to agree to that, nor do I think honorable senators generally will agree to it. I ask leave to continue my remarks when the debate is resumed.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the debate be resumed after private members’ business has been dealt with
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, the officers and all competent operators employed on the Commonwealth linotype machines who have served a period of twelve months and over on those machines, should be placed on the classified list of civil servants of the Commonwealth.
This is not the first time that a reference has been made here to the operators employed on these linotype machines, and also to the Commonwealth printing generally as it has been carried out in that portion of the State Government Printing Office which is set apart for the use of the Commonwealth, because Hansard shows that the question generally was ventilated in 1904, 1905, and 1906 by many honorable senators, some of whom are present this evening. But this, I venture to say, is the first time that the Senate has been asked to consider a definite motion which has for its object the improvement of the status of the men employed in that particular branchof the Commonwealth; service.
In order to give honorable senators a fair idea of the conditions under which the men labour, it will be necessary for me to review the period which has elapsed since the installation of the machines. The object of my motion is simply to place the men - who are certainly servants of the Commonwealth - on the same plane as officers in other branches.
– In the service of the Commonwealth while Parliament is sitting - that is to say, during the session.
– It cannot be denied that the Commonwealth Government advertised for men to work on the machines, and therefore I consider that the operators are Commonwealth servants. . I shall endeavour to prove presently that in the advertisement certain conditions were offered, which tempted men who were employed in other ‘States to accept positions offered to them by the Commonwealth Government in the hope that, within reasonable limits, they would have some security of tenure. When the linotype machines were first installed in that part of the State printing works which is set apart for Commonwealth use - that is about four years ago - an advertisement appeared in the daily newspapers in the various States calling for thoroughly competent linotype operators, and offering them constant employment at. a weekly wage of £4 10s. The promiseof constant employment has not been kept, despite the fact that some of the men had an understanding in writing that they would have an assurance of constant work. I may mention in passing, that one employe in that branch of the service has been gazetted, and thereby placed on the classified list of civil servants. I refer to the gentleman in charge of the machinery, who, I believe, is termed the engineer. I do not say that the act of placing him on the classified list of civil servants was wrong, but why should he be singled out and the other men passed over? He must have competent operators, otherwise the machines would be useless. On the completion of the first issue of the Commonwealth rolls the operators were employed for a time as compositors at the reduced rate of £2 17s. per week. That was a rather large reduction in the wage’ at which they were engaged. At the beginning of the next session the setting of Hansard by the linotype machines was adopted, and the operators returned to them, but they had to accept a minimum rate of £3 10s. per week. After various deputations had waited upon the Commonwealth Treasurers who were in office at different periods, the operators, about twelve months ago, succeeded in getting the reduced minimum increased from £3 10s. to £3 15s. day shift, and £4 5s.night shift, at which rates they are now employed.
– The honorable senator says that the minimum was £3 10s. day shift, and £4 5s. night shift. Did the others get £4 10s. per. week ?
– No. The men who were originally employed as the result of the advertisement in the daily press of Australia had £4 10s. per week.
– Were they all reduced ?
– Yes ; on the completion of the first Commonwealth rolls they were reduced to £2 17s. per week, and at the beginning of the next session, the rate was increased to £3 10s. per week. They worked under those conditions for some time, and then, as the result of many deputations, they received an increase of 5s. per week on the day shift, and were brought to £4 5s. on the night shift.
– When they were getting £2 17s. per week, they were not working thelinotype machines?
– No; they were hand compositors; but with that phase of the question I shall deal later on.
– Were they engaged permanently ?
– Yes; and many of them received an undertaking in writing that they would have constant employment.
– If that is written, it is an agreement enforceable at law.
– As the machines belong to the Commonwealth, the men had a reasonable ground for supposing that eventually they would be placed on the classified list. One man in the Department, who is not an operator, has been gazetted. Many of the men, as I have said, received an understanding in writing that they would have permanent employment, but, despite that fact, some of them have been dismissed.
– Has the honorable senator seen the terms on which they were engaged ?
– No; but I think a copy of them can be procured.
– If a man had such a letter he could hardly be dismissed.
– The men would have an action at law.
– Of course they would.
– Owing to the dissatisfaction which existed amongst the operators, nine left the Department. They saw no hope of getting constant employment, and now they are engaged in outside offices in Melbourne at a wage ranging from £410s. to £5, and working hours varying from 35 to 48 hours per week. Eight or nine months after the installation of the machines, a few of the men who were originally engaged were dismissed on the score of not being competent ; and, strange to say, those very” men have been engaged ever since then in private offices at a wage varying from £4 to £6 per week.
– It is a good job that they left.
– That is not the point. If the men were incompetent operators on the Commonwealth linotype machines, how did it come to pass that they were immediately engaged, and have since been retained in leading private offices in Victoria ?
– That may occur. The class ofwork may be different.
– The class of work does not differ very much.
– At that time it was difficult to get linotype operators.
– Then the Commonwealth has been the means of bringing to Victoria good men, who have been snapped up by private firms. It all goes to prove that there must have been something wrong in the Department, and also that the men must have been engaged, as it were, under false pretences. At different times during the last four years, memorials have been presented - always through the Victorian Government Printer - to the Commonwealth Treasurer. I am tempted to depart from the text of my motion and to refer to the question of where State printing work overlaps Commonwealth printing work and vice versa; but I shall refrain from introducing that phase of the subject. It might distract the attention of honorable senators from the particular matter that I am submitting . The first memorial was fruitless.
-What did it ask for?
– It was a memorial from the chapel, asking to.be placed on the list of permanent public servants.
The second memorial was also fruitless. The third was sent to the Treasurer, who forwarded it to the Acting Government Printer, on the 14th of June last, for report. Sir John Forrest was then Treasurer. The Acting Government Printer either has not had time to furnish a report to the Treasurer, or has not found it convenient to do so.
– He declines to have political pressure brought to bear upon him.
– That is an imputation which I at once resent. No political pressure has been brought to bear either on the Treasurer or on the Acting Government Printer.
– Is the honorable senator sure that the Treasurer has not received a letter from the Acting Government Printer ?
– The Treasurer referred the memorial to the Acting Government Printer, and asked him to report upon it ; but up till now he has not reported.
– Does the honorable senator know that?
– That is the position. Senator Gray says that the Acting Government Printer refuses to bow to political pressure.
– He evidently considers that he is the proper judge of the class of men who should be engaged.
– Senator Gray’s innuendo is one that’ I must emphatically resent. There has been no political pressure in relation to this question. Not one single member of Parliament has interviewed any of the employes, nor has any member of Parliament endeavoured to interview the Acting Government Printer. But information has come to me as a member of the Senate.
– Did it come down by balloon?
– If I think that aninjustice has been done to any servant of the Commonwealth, or to any citizen, it is my right to ventilate the grievance.
– Do I understand that the Government is departing from a written arrangement with these men?
– So far as I can learn, some of them received a written undertaking that they would have constant employment.
– How did the honorable senator learn that?
– I have received information from a reliable source.
– Yet the honorable senator has not seen one of the men.
– I have received information that this undertaking was given.
– Is it not the duty of thePublic Service Commissioner to classify these men, or to recommend a classification! to the Governor-General in Council?
– They are not under the Public Service Commissioner.
– If the Public Service Commissioner has their case brought under his notice, is it not his duty to suggest a classification?
– No. They do not comewithin the provision’s of the Public Service Act. They are, in a sense, houseless and homeless. They are casual employes.
– At very good wages.
– They do good work for it.
– They may receive good wages, but I call attention to the fact that they work under abnormal conditions. Most of their work is done during the night. While Parliament is sitting the operators are called upon to work long hours. They start at 6 p.m.,. and work until 3.30 a.m. That is the usual shift; but in the event of either House of Parliament sitting late, or. perhaps all night, they have to work on until all copy is finished. The work occasionally.carries them close on to 8 a.m., when the day-shift comes on. This work is done without a break, except half-an-hour from. 10 to 10.30, supper time, and a quarter of an hour at 2 a.m., smoke time. They start work again at 6 p.m. the same day.
– When Parliament is not in session, is there any work for them to do?
– Any amount of work.
– Federal work ?
– Federal work.
– Do other linotype men take their places when Parliament is not sitting? If there isplenty of work to do, and they have to leave, do other men do the work ?
- Senator Gray is attempting to draw a red herring across the track. His question involves that of establishing a Commonwealth’ Printing Office. I am simply dealing with the men who were- originally engaged by the Commonwealth Government to do certain work, and am pointing out the conditions under which they are working.
– The honorable senator says that they do not get employment while Parliament is not sitting, although there is plenty of work to do. The question is - when they are not employed, and there is plenty of work are some other men doing that work?
– Other men are doing the work that these men should do. It is done by men employed by the State Government.
– The honorable senator had no business to be angry with me because I asked the same question.
– During that time it must be remembered that the Commonwealth linotype machines, for which the Federal Government paid £30,000, are standing idle.
– There is no work to be done.
– An additional fact is that these men are not paid overtime for night work. I have detailed the conditions under which they work. I could, if I chose, give particulars concerning wages earned in outside offices as compared with the’ wages which these men are receiving. But I will not detain the Senate by giving details, except to say that in the leading printing offices in this State, and in Melbourne particularly, the wages range from £3 10s. to £5 5s. per week, and the hours of work from thirty-two to fortyeight. I contend that if the Government engages men under certain conditions those conditions should be respected and observed. Apart from that, the Government should always be a model employer. These men are working always at night, and any honorable senator who has had experience of night work knows this-
– Not always at night ; there is a day and a night shift.
– The majority of them are engaged onnight work.
– They take it in turns.
– Not the men I am referring to. The majority of the men employed on the Commonwealth linotype machines work at night.
– They work in the daytime also. If not. who works the machines in the daytime?
– They are engaged on a different kind of work. The majority of our parliamentary work is done at night.
– Are not the machines working clay and night?
– Are they Commonwealth employes who work the machines during the day ?
– I should say so, because Commonwealth work is done.
– There Senator Findley is labouring under a misapprehension. The fact is that there is Commonwealth work done by State employes who are learning to work these machines at Commonwealth expense. I will not pursue that phase of the question further.
– Does the honorable senator say that State employes are learning to work the machines, and that they are only used by learners during the daytime?
– State employes are learning to work the machines during the day-time, and we are paying for it. Our work is done at night.
– Where do the State learners work when they become competent ?
– Some of them are practising on our linotype machines at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– I am afraid the honorable senator does not know much about linotypes.
– Ihave here a copy of the memorial.
– Has the honorable senator a copy of the agreement ?
– No, I have not.
– That would be better.
– Unfortunately, the men who had the agreement in writing have since been dismissed as incompetent, and have since that time become employed in leading printing offices in Melbourne.
– Surely some of them could have given the honorable senator a copy of the agreement.
– I think I have proved that we have men working under conditions that ought to be ameliorated. I simply ask that they shall be placed on the same footing as the officers of any other Government Department. Recently, in the Defence Department and the Post and Telegraph Department officers have been gazetted. When these linotype operators were engaged to perform the work they are doing, whether a promise was made to them in writing, or whether it was not-
– The honorable senator says that it was.
– I say that certain conditions were held out to them.
– Does the honorable senator know how many of the men en- * gaged under the conditions stated by him are now in the employment of the Commonwealth ?
– I could not give the exact number at the present time. We ought to give them some sense of security. If they were placed on the classified list of civil servants, they would have, in addition to payment for all public holidays, which they get at the present time, and which any ordinary employe” of the Government receives-
– According to the honorable senator’s proposition, they would get a holiday for six months in the vear.
– I do .not” want that. But I want to provide that they should receive payment if they are off through sickness.
– The honorable senator said that their labour is to a certain extent spasmodic.
– If the Commonwealth Government like to go into the question, they can find continuous employment for the men at present engaged on the linotype machines.
– That is the whole point. The Government cannot find employment for them when Parliament is not in session.
– That question might come up for discussion under another heading. We might deal a little more justly with these men than we have done in the past. Honorable senators have already referred to this phase of the question during the years 1.904-5-6, as regards, not only the overlapping of State and Commonwealth work, but also the hours which the men were working without being paid for overtime. If they work more than a certain number of hours per week, they have to cut the rest out, although they have actually worked the overtime.
– To how many men does the motion refer?
– Sixteen or seventeen altogether, including the man in charge.
– Were the words used “ Permanent work,” or “ Constant employment?”
– Permanent. ‘ I ‘ think I have put the case clearly and forcibly before the Senate. I trust that the motion will be carried, and that the same justice and consideration as is given to other officers in our employment will be meted out to these employ 6s.
.- I second the motion. If the statements made by Senator Needham be correct, then there ought to be no honorable senator who would not support his proposition. I do not doubt for a moment that the men were induced to leave their employment in different States to come to Victoria under the conditions set forth by Senator Needham. But if they were engaged - and some of them have it in writing - on a promise of permanent employment at £4 IOS. per week, and if representations, have been made to the Government by them that they have not been treated in accordance with the terms of their engagement, it seems strange to me that the Government have not given their position serious consideration and meted out justice to them. If the Government are sheltering themselves behind some technicality, when permanent employment was offered to the men, by giving them in the first place the stipulated wage of £4 ros. and afterwards, because they were unable to keep them fully employed on Commonwealth work, finding State employment for them at £2 17s. per week, then there has been a distinct violation of the contract. I have . not the slightest hesitation in saying that the whole of the men could be fully employed year in and year out on Commonwealth work if the office was placed on a proper and business-like basis. I have raised my voice in this Chamber before against the system followed in regard to all work required for Commonwealth purposes. It is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Senator Needham, said that a certain portion of the Government Printing Office was set apart for Commonwealth printing. That has application only to the building in which the linotype machines are placed. In the. Victorian Government Printing Office, printing and linotype machines, type, stereotyping plant, and other property belonging to the Commonwealth ‘ Government are inextricably mixed up, according to some people who work over there, with State property. ‘Although the
Acting Prime Minister said that when the Federal Capital was established we would be able to remove our plant, material, and property, I venture to say that, if we do not make an alteration very soon, long before the Federal Capital is fixed upon our type, machinery, and plant will be almost valueless to the Commonwealth.
– What nonsense !
– I know what I am speaking about, and my statement is not nonsense. There is a life to a printing as well as to a human machine. When those machines are, worked, as they have been almost “since the inception of the Commonwealth, at high pressure, they must wear out much more quickly than - would be the case if they were utilized wholly and solely for Commonwealth purposes. We have expended a total of from £36,000 to £38,000 upon machinery, plant, and material.
– About £[10,500 for linotypes.
– Yes, and the rest is made up of expenditure on type and other property.
– £20,000 for plant.
– I am fairly near the mark in saying that between £36,000 and £38,000 has been voted and expended for Commonwealth purposes in connexion with that office. There is nothing unfair in Senator Needham ‘s request that these men shall be not only permanently employed, but placed upon the same footing as permanent State employes in the printing office. It may be said, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council interjected, that when Parliament is not in session sufficient work cannot be provided to keep them fully employed, but, as one who has worked in the Government Printing Office, I know that the permanent State employes are fully occupied year in and year out on State work.
– But extra hands are taken on during the session.
– Yes, but the permanent schedule hands, and also a number of what I may call permanent casuals, are kept fully employed from ohe year’s end to the other. At abnormal times, when the State Parliament is in session, and when the State rolls are being printed, additional hands are taken on, but there is no doubt that the men who are supposed to be Federal employes have for some time past been working at very high pressure on Commonwealth work. As a matter of fact, the linotype operators have not been able to cope with all the work required to be done for the Commonwealth, and have been largely assisted by the State employes in the office. Honorable senators will have noticed recently that some of the printed matter supplied to us, particularly Customs returns - work which ought to have been done by the Commonwealth under Government supervision - has been turned out by . private offices in Melbourne and Sydney.
– Because there was a rush of work.
– Perhaps that is ina measure correct, but the real cause is the unbusiness-like way in which the Government are allowing Commonwealth work to be carried on. Mr. Knibbs, the Federal Statistician, of course with the consent of ‘ the Government, recently decided to have, the statistical volume printed by a private firm. Messrs. McCarron, Bird, and Company, a Melbourne firm of high repute, who recognise just conditions of labour, secured the contract, but they will have to purchase large quantities of type specially for that work.
– It is all hand-set.
– Yes. In the purchase of the type a” large amount will be involved. That private firm will have the advantage-of the type, because they are not going to lose by the transaction, and would not undertake the work without some guarantee that they would have the printing of it for some time. If the Government made an exhaustive inquiry into the working of the office and its expenses from a Commonwealth point of view, they would find that expert and unbiased men would unhesitatingly recommend that the Commonwealth should establish a printing office of its own. I should like to see all who are permanently employed in Commonwealth work in the Victorian Government Printing Office treated in the way that the motion desires the linotype operators to be treated.
– If there is not work for them all the year round, what would the honorable senator do?
– Work can be found for these men all the year round.
– We do not want to find work for people.
– Work is not found in the Victorian Government Printing Office for the sake of finding it’. No man is kept there for twenty-four hours unless he is competent and able to give satisfaction to the Department.
- Senator Needham objected that competent men had been- dis- missed.
– I know that there have been occasions when competent men have been discharged.
– Who is to be the judge’, the man or the master?
– If Senator Gray were acquainted with the nature of the work and the system that obtains in the Victorian Government Printing Office, he would admit that it is not a satisfactory system. Competent men, accustomed to’ work in other offices, have gone into that office, and since it takes some men longer than others ‘ to accustom themselves to new conditions, honorable senators will understand that a man who is under some disadvantage in securing necessary material may not put up as good a record as another more fortunately situated. It will be admitted, also, that the man putting up the best record is not necessarily the best workman. I shall not discuss that phase of the question, but if the Government desire to give satisfaction to these men, and. that Commonwealth printing shall be turned out satisfactorily, the time is opportune for the creation of a new Department - a Commonwealth Printing Department. I understand that there is only one permanent Commonwealth employe” in the State Government Printing Office, and that he is in a measure subordinate to the Acting Government Printer of Victoria. The Acting Government Printer’s first consideration is naturally for the State Government, whose employe” he is, and, whilst it is true that, in common with those under him, he does all he can to facilitate the despatch of work to be done for the Commonwealth, it is impossible for him to give absolute satisfaction to the Commonwealth and State Government at the same time.
– Our work is done most promptly and efficiently.
– I am not saying that the Commonwealth work is not done a-s speedily as possible, taking all the circumstances into consideration, or that it is not done efficiently. I do not wish to be misunderstood. The men in the Victorian Government Printing Office are competent to give satisfaction to the Commonwealth, but if we had a Government Printing Office of our own, “and the machinery was in charge of Commonwealth officers, they would’ be directly responsible to us for the despatch of the work and the care of the machinery
– Would not the establishment of a Commonwealth Printing Department cost more money?
– I think that it , would cost much less than we are paying for our printing at the present time. In. addition to the amount to which I have referred as having been expended on machinery and plant, honorable senators will find, in the schedule to the Bill which wewere considering this afternoon, a vote of £2,000 for further machinery and plant, and year after year our printing bill ismounting up. I should like to know whether the State expenditure has been on the same basis during the time Federal! work has been done at the State Government Printing Office. I trust that the Government will see that a necessity hasarisen for a departure in connexion with the system adopted to provide for Commonwealth printing. It is most unsatisfactory that the Commonwealth Government should be told, as they frequently . are, that the authorities of the State Government Printing Office are unable to giveany guarantee that work required for various Commonwealth Departments will be turned out in the time desired by the heads, of those Departments. Because they have been unable to get such a guarantee, muchof the printing done for the Commonwealth has had to be done in various partsof Australia. The head of a Department requires to be in a position to exercise closesupervision of all the work done by and for his Department. If the principal, officers of the various Commonwealth Departments are to be continued in Melbourne for any considerable time, it would’ be much more satisfactory to establish a Commonwealth Government Printing Office, which would be better able to consult thewishes. of the heads of Commonwealth Departments, and would cost less than Commonwealth printing iscosting us at the present time. I hope that when the Government make inquiriesinto this matter thev will ascertain how many men, in addition to the linotypeoperators and officers referred to in- themotion, are permanently engaged on Commonwealth work. I trust, also, that when the report reaches us we shall follow it up> by instructing the Government to at onceestablish a Federal Government PrintingOffice.
– After listening to Senator Findley, I have begun to doubt whether «the motion before the Senate is that moved by Senator Needham. It would appear that, under cover of the motion, we are not dis- cussing whether the men employed in connexion with Commonwealth linotype machines shall be placed on the same footing as other servants of the Commonwealth, but whether the Commonwealth printing is being carried out as promptly, cheaply, and effectively by the Victorian Government Printing Office as it might be by a printing office managed and controlled by Commonwealth authorities. It seems to me that that is not what Senator Needham aims at in his motion. I take it that he desires to place a particular class of operators on a certain footing, and, having some knowledge of the business, I have a great deal of sympathy with the object the honorable senator has in view. But if we are to pursue the argument used bv Senator Findley, we must recognise that the honorable senator has made some rather serious statements. One is that, in addition to linotype machines costing some £[10,000, there is nearly £30,000 worth of Commonwealth machinery located in the Government Printing Office of Victoria, supposed to lie used for Commonwealth purposes, but over which we appear to have absolutely no control, if we except the control exercised bv one individual. Should the Acting Government Printer of Victoria find it advantageous to use that machinery - and I imply nothing unfair - the question would arise whether the Commonwealth would be getting a reasonable return from the State Government for its use?
– As a matter of fact, all our machinery is used for State purposes.
– And we use machinery belonging to the State.
– In dealing with a matter which came up on the motion for the adoption of a report presented by the Printing Committee, I was informed - I think by Senator Givens - that certain economies which I suggested ought to be ma.de in our printing bill could not be easily effected because we had to take our printing from the State Government Printing Office of Victoria, and had no real control over the internal management of that office. I do not wish to discuss the advantage or otherwise of the arrangement the Commonwealth Government have with the State Government
Printing Office; but Senator Findley, who speaks on the matter with a good deal of technical knowledge, and Senator Givens, who spoke with technical knowledge, and also as a member of the Printing Committee, have pointed out that the authorities of the Victorian Government Printing Office use our machines, and that we have no efficient control over them. If that be so, Senator Needham has done an excellent thing in submitting a motion which has given us the opportunity to direct the attention of the Government to the existing state of affairs. In connexion with the motion itself, I gather that Senator Needham is seeking to improve the status. of a certain number of men, but if he had come forward with a motion to reform the Commonwealth printing arrangements so that all the men engaged on a certain class of machine - and they must be very skilled men to do the work they are called upon to do - might be put on the Public Service list, I would be with him to a, greater extent than I am on the motion submitted. The honorable senator cannot really be au fait with the work of a linotype operator when he says that it takes twelve months for, a man to leant to operate a linotype, a monoline, or monotype machine. These are all intricate machines, on which similar work is performed, and I say that ‘ it requires a three years’ apprenticeship to enable a man to become thoroughly competent not merely to work, but* to look after these machines. Any honorable senator who has a knowledge of the business will bear me out in that statement. To expect a young man, after twelve months’ practice on a linotype machine, to be entitled to be classified as a person thoroughly competent to operate and look after these machines is to expect him to be a. genius of a rather striking description. I notice that the Vice-President has urged as an objection to the motion the fact that these linotype operators cannot be employed all -the year round. That may be correct, but it seems to me that during what one might call ihe parliamentary slack season a great deal of work has to be done which might be done by linotype machines. When I speak of linotype machines, I include monoline and monotype machines. Senator Needham informed us that certain electoral rolls were set up on linotype machines. I believe that such work could be done more satisfactorily by hand, but if it is done bv using the linotype machines, there is an enormous amount of tabulated matter, book matter, indices, and so forth, which could be set up on these machines. That being the case, I am rather inclined to agree with Senator Findley that during the parliamentary recess work could be found for the fifteen men to whom Senator Needham refers in his motion. But I would ask what is the present position of the members of the Hansard staff, against whom I wish to say nothing? Are they not members of the Public Service? I take it that unless they can get extra work, or may be called upon to perform departmental work during the time the Parliament is in recess, they are employed only during the time Parliament is sitting, and if they are entitled to be put on the Public Service list, I should say that the men referred to in Senator Needham ‘s motion are also entitled to be put on that list. I do not propose to discuss whether the men are paid good or bad wages while they are employed by the Commonwealth Government. But I understand that between the Commonwealth and State Governments there is an arrangement by which when Commonwealth work has to be done the time of the men is charged against the Commonwealth Government, and when the men are employed on State work their time is charged against the State Government.
– That is right.
– If that is correct, then if we have toapportion the blame for the men not having been kept at work all the year round, it must be reasonably apportioned between the Commonwealth and State Governments, both of whom appear to stand in the position of employers. It is not reasonable for any one to say that the Commonwealth Government should put these men on the classified list of Federal officers when, as a matter of fact, for a very considerable portion of their time they are employed by the State Government.
– That remark applies to the engineer and two clerks whom the Commonwealth Government have put on the classified list.
– If from my point of view a mistake has been made in the case of one man, that is no reason why it should be repeatedin the case of fifteen other men.
– There was no mistake made in regard to the engineer, because he would not accept the post unless he had some definite appointment.
– He said so.
– The two explanations do not agree with each other, but no doubt they are quite correct as far as they go. It is impossible for any one to say that we must put the operators on the classified list when we know that they are not employed solely by the Commonwealth Government, but are employed in an office which it does not control. The Commonwealth Government, by some arrangement, is paying the men for a portion of their time, and as regards the balance they are employed and paid by the State Government in the same office.
– The men were originally engaged by the Commonwealth.
– If itis a fact, as the honorable senator remarked in his speech, that the men were written to and told that if they would take service under the Commonwealth, they would get permanent or constant employment, andno reasonable effort has been made to carry out that undertaking, then I, though an ordinary layman, venture to think that they have a reasonable case at law against the Commonwealth Government.
– No one disputes that.
– I do not propose to discuss whether men are paid sufficient or what wages they earn - that is under the Commonwealth and under people outside - or what hours they work. It seems to me that we shall get right away from the object of the motion if we discuss whether men work so many hours and are allowed a quarter of an hour in the middle of the night for smoking, or a halfanhour for supper. That has nothing to do with the question. What we have to decide is, first, whether the linotype operators are a class who should be put on the classified list, and, secondly, whether the Government is at present in a position to take that course. ‘ I believe that if the men were permanently in the employment of the Commonwealth or any Government they should be put on the Civil Service list. I know the class of men exactly. Many of them have to be skilled mechanics, apart altogether from being skilled operators on very intricate machines. What I. cannot understand is whySertator Needham should have excluded other men in the printing business, many of whom, I should say, are equally competent, expensive, and skilled. There are not only the foremen, but also the machinists, who work the lithograph machines and the ordinary printing presses, and the men who do marbling and binding. All these men are highly skilled operators, and just as much entitled to be put on the classified list as linotype operators, to say nothing of the men who work the monoline and monotype machines. I ask my honorable friend why he excluded those men from the motion, unless he has come down here specially with a brief for fifteen linotype operators?
– Who are all employed by the Commonwealth Government.
– Do I understand thatallthe work which is done for the Commonwealth Government is done entirely by State officials except the fifteen men who work the linotype machines? Ithink that my honorable friend has got himself into a tangle. I would advise him to reconsider the motion, and see if, by an amendment, he cannot make it more acceptable to those who, I think, understand something about this business, and know the difficulty of carrying into effect such a proposition. As regards the value of these men, we have in the Public Service many clerks who are being classified. I believe that when a man becomes a classified civil servant he receives a salary of £120 or £125 a year, and that is after he has served a probationary term. According to Senator Needham, men are. paid by the Government from £160 or £175 up to a considerably higher amount per year, and by private individuals from £200 to £450.
– Not £450 ayear.
– I think that Senator Needham mentioned that one man received £8 per week.
– No, £6 a week.
– That is not a bad salary either. That payment is considerably higher than is given to some men on the classified list. If we regard the matter from the point whether the men are well paid, and judge their skill according to their salaries, it is reasonable that they should be put on the classified list. -But can the Government put the men on that list? We have been told that the Public Service Commissioner should take the matter in hand straight away, and that he is to blame if the men are not put on the classified list. But if it is a fact that the men are casually employed, partly by the Commonwealth and partly by the State, then I fail to see how the Commonwealth Government can possibly put them on the classified list. Senator Findley points out that a very much more satisfactory position will be created if we have a Commonwealths Printing Office. I believe that he is perfectly correct, but I do not see how we are going to create a new printing office in. Melbourne. As soon as my honorable friend gets the Federal Capital established in a place which has not a reasonably convenient printing office alongside it, then we might propose to establish a permanent printing office.
– We shall have the Federal Capital in Melbourne, I think, for the next quarter of a century.
– If that is so, my honorable friend’s chance of getting a second Government Printing Office established in Melbourne is rather blue. I hope that the arrangement for our printing will be put on a better footing before very long, but I do not see how it will be possible or reasonable to establish a Government Printing Office right alongside the State printing works in the hope that we shall obtain greater economy with the prospect, at no very early date, of the Seat of Parliament being removed to Canberra or Dalgety or to the height of Mount Kosciusko. I would advise Senator Needham to try to secure an amendment so that his motion will provide, first, that a general classification should be made, not including one class of operators only ; and, secondly, that that classification should be postponed until the Government is in a position to act in consequence of being the sole employer of the men whom it is proposed to classify.
Debate (on motion by Senator Best) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (videpage 2227), on motion by Senator Henderson -
That this Senate is of opinion, that, in the best interests of the Commonwealth, the Government should purchase and control a fleet of mail steamers capable of maintaining a fortnightly mail service between Australia and Great Britain.
Upon which Senator deLargie had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added, “ such steamers to be constructed so as to be suitable for defence purposes as fast cruisers.”
– At no stage in the history of the Commonwealth has it been more necessary to seriously view such a proposal as is contained in this motion than it is at the present time. Recently we have experi- enced a failure in connexion with the mail contract. I do not propose to traverse the various arguments which have been adduced in both Houses in favour, and in condemnation, of the negotiations to secure a satisfactory mail contract. We are about’ to enter into another contract. I hope that the effort will be more successful than was the last one. It must be recognised that Australia is at the mercy of a shipping ring. It has been objected by some hon’orable senators that the Commonwealth is asked by this motion to make an experiment. I do not think that it can be fairly called an experiment. We have had considerable experience of railways, tramways, and other services having been conducted by the Government for the benefit of the people,, and I do not see v/hy the Commonwealth could not operate a fleet of steamers with equal success. In the matter of railways and tramways, I believe we have set an example to the world ; in other countries it is about to be copied. But, as regards the connexion of mail steamers and railways, the Old World sets us an example. In Scotland, two leading railway companies have provided a very extensive fleet of steamers to cope with the traffic which is brought to the shores of the Firth of Clyde by their railways. If it pays the proprietors of private railways in the Old World to provide fleets of steamers to carry the traffic which their railways bring to the wharfs, I see no reason why we in Australia cannot do the same thing. On my first visit to Sydney some few months ago, I was struck by the evident success of one of those ventures which have been termed by some honorable senators socialistic. I found there, not only State-owned railways, but also a Stateowned tramway system. I venture to say that the tramway service of Sydney compares favorably with the tramway services that I have seen in’ many cities of the old world.
– Is it as good as the Melbourne service?
– It is better. It is more efficient, cheaper, “and more up to date in every respect. But whilst the Government of New South Wales owns the tramway system, and the profits go- into the coffers of the State Exchequer, they carry their passengers down to the harbor to fill the ferry steamers, which are owned by private companies.
– What fault has the honorable senator to find with the ferries?
– None, except that the socialistic tramway system is allowed to bring traffic to make profit for the private ferry-owners. We have in Australia, our State-owned railways, and my point is that we should also have State-owned steamers in order to carry our produce away, and bring back whatever commodities it is found necessary to import.
– They would have to be paid for just as are privately-owned steamers.
– But we should not have to pay through the nose as we are doing now. Two Commissions have sat in Australia to deal with the question of freights. One .was appointed bv the Commonwealth Government. Senator Henderson and Senator de Largie have referred to it. Another, appointed in ‘Western Australia, proved that’ the people were being bled by a shipping trust or ring. I myself was a member of the Western Australian Commission. The late Mr. Diamond, the member for South Fremantle, .was the chairman, and Mr. A. A. Horan, the member for Yilgarn, was also a member of the Commission. We obtained some remarkable evidence. I have a copy of the report here. By leave of the Senate, I shall read a few extracts from it bearing upon shipping transactions affecting Western Australia, and shall suggest that the same conditions of things may be prevailing in some of the other States. When the Federal Commission visited Western Australia, and sat in Fremantle, the three members of the State Commission were invited to give evidence before it. Mr. Diamond, the chairman, did so. I shall now quote a passage dealing with the pernicious system of rebates. The report Sa VE -
Evidence given before your Commissioners shows that a system exists by which a rebate of 10 per cent, on the freight paid is credited to the shipper, and is paid to him at the end of a term of six or twelve months. Payment, however, is conditional on the shipper remaining “loyal” to the ring - that is, should he ship in the interim by a rival line it would be forfeited. We have no evidence to show that the Western Australian Shipping Association is interested in this item. Your Commissioners were surprised to learn from some of the witnesses that they knew nothing about this rebate, and had never received it, expressing their gratitude to the Commission for making it known to them. It is, however, allowed to the. State Government.
– Then only a few people got the rebates ?
– Many of the shippers did not even know that they were entitled to receive them. Out of about forty-nine witnesses who gave evidence, there were only a few who received the rebates. The others knew nothing about them. Suppose, for instance, that a certain firm shipped goods in the vessels of the Western Australian Shipping Association during the year 1906. The rebates would be due to them on the 31st December, 1906. But they would not be paid until the 31st December, 1907. If during 1907 they shipped with any other line they would forfeit entirely the 10 per cent, rebates which, had been deferred. I also desire to call attention to the fact to which Senator Symon alluded the other day, that there is a law in America entirely forbidding the payment of deferred rebates. I quote again from the report of the Commission -
The attention of your Commissioners has been directed to certain Acts of Congress of the United States, which might well be copied by ‘ the British Empire. The Harter Act renders nugatory in all bills of lading signed in the United States clauses which are so .conspicuous in English and Australian bills of lading, and which practically contracts the ship out of all liability.
The Elkin Act makes it illegal to differentiate in rates of freight between one shipper and another, and abolishes the deferred rebate system, as well as the imposition of what is, known as primage, accompanied by its bogus system of repayments.
I contend that if the Commonwealth Government, in its wisdom, decided to embark upon the enterprise of building and equipping a fleet of steamers, this pernicious system, whereby many of the Australian public are being imposed upon, would not obtain.
– Can the honorable senator prove that people have been imposed upon ?
– The statements made by the Commission, whose report I have quoted, have not been disputed. A copy of the report was sent to the Federal Parliament, the Imperial Parliament, and the principal centres of the British Empire.
– The report merely shows that about 15 per cent, of the shippers took rebates.
– The system is wrong in itself, and would not be permitted if we had a national fleet of steamers. In reference to the profits which this Association enjoyed, I may quote another passage from the report -
The profits made are divided amongst the shareholders only, and are, of course, derived from the excessive rates of freight which are paid by all freighters, including the State Government. It will be seen by Appendix No. VI. that the net profits of the Western Australian Shipping Association during the nine years ending 31st March, 1904, were ^’97,825, an average of ^10,870 per annum. To attain this result, a capital of about ^3,000 to ^’4,000 was employed, the maximum being reached in 1903-1904 when it amounted to ^4,292 10s. It will be seen, therefore, that the net profit during the period under notice averaged about 300 per cent, per annum. These profits are divided as follow : - One-fifth to dividends ‘ on share capital, three-fifths on a tonnage basis to shareholders who are freight contributors, and onefifth to reserve fund.
I do not think that it is necessary for n:e to point out the results of the combination of shipping companies trading on the Australian coast.
– That system was de-, fended last night by an honorable senator opposite.
– What was defended by some honorable senators was the combination of coal companies in New South Wales, but the double combination of coal companies and shipping companies was condemned. The primary producers of Australia are suffering from the operations of the Shipping Trust.
– Considering the mileage, our freights are the lowest in the world.
– A little while ago it was ascertained that, as the result of the failure of the New South Wales Government to join with Victoria in securing Commonwealth action, the dairy producers 6*f the two States were penalized to the extent of nearly £40,000 per annum.
– The shipping companies there affected do not pay such dividends as the honorable senator has referred to.
– Perhaps, if the same scrutiny had been applied to the operations of the shipping ring in other States as was applied in Western Australia, similar facts would have been elicited. With regard to the dairying industry of the two States, I believe that some arrangement has recently been entered into.
– They will have to pay more.
– If an increase has been made, it makes my argument a good deal stronger. One of the principal desires of those who favour the motion is to give every possible assistance to people engaged in agricultural pursuits in Australia. We desire to afford them facilities for cheap transit for their goods from Australia, and for whatever they may find it necessary to import. The value of our imports for1906 was £44,729,506, and the value of our exports of strictly Australian produce was £66,299,874, which, added to an export value of£3,437,889 from other sources, gives a total value of exports amounting to £69,737, 763. Surely, then, the time has arrived when we ought to- grapple seriously with this question.
-By putting a 25 per cent, duty on all the agricultural implements they use.
– That duty has not yet been imposed by this Parliament. The interjection is somewhat on a par with the wild howl which has been raised throughout Australia, against this Parliament, because, so far, no member of it has yet had an opportunity of saying whether any item in the Tariff is too high or too low. An amendment in connexion with the use of merchantmen as fast cruisers has been moved to the motion. Those vessels, which I believe we shall construct in the near future-
– Where is the money to come from ?
– That is not a new question. We have managed so far to construct! all our works out of revenue. I donot think that we can manage to build bur fleet of steamers, which would cost something like £3,000,000, in that way, but, although I am decidedly against borrowing money - except for reproductive purposes - I. should be quite prepared to vote for a motion empowering the Federal Government to borrow money to embark upon this venture. I believe that if we did depart from the coursewe have followed in the past, we should not need to follow the bacl example set by the States, and go to London to ask for the money. We could find it within the confines of our island continent. We could use this fleet of steamers for other purposes than importing and exporting articles of commerce. They would be handy, as have been the merchantmen of Britain, in times of defence. Even the highest naval authorities agree that the vessels could be so constructed as to be useful for that purpose.
– That would mean that they would cost half as much again, as has been proved by the experience of English builders.
– It would mean nothing of the sort. I had eleven years’ experience in building vessels of all sizes in the ship-building yards of Britain, and I know that vessels of the kind that we should require, if this motion were given effect to, could be built for the purposes of trade, and also for use as auxiliaries to our defence forces in times of war, without very much increase in the original cost. I am thoroughly in accord with the motion. I hope that the time will soon arrive when we shall get beyond the mere stage of affirming by resolution, either in this or the other Chamber, that a certain thing is good for the people, and put our ideas, which in this case I believe are backed up by the people of Australia, into practical operation. By so doing we shall be able to say that we have acted in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from this day (vide page 3829), on motion by Senator Best -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland [9.23]. - When the debate was interrupted, I was calling attention to the fact that if the Bill were allowed to pass, including the item of £1,000 for leasing land in London and the erection of a palatial building
– I believe that that is the intention. I have made inquiries in the meantime, and looked up what was said in another place. The discrepancies between what was said there and the information given to us by the VicePresident of the Executive Council warrant delay. I cannot see why so much time has been allowed to elapse without anything being done. It was distinctly stated in another place that we had an option, and that unless the vote was passed before the 26th of this month the option would expire. I have come to the conclusion that the Government have not given the Senate full particulars. I am afraid that there is something hidden from the Senate and the country. If we allow the item to pass - and this may almost be regarded as a surprise motion - I fear that the whole of the money will be expended without the consent of Parliament, and then Parliament will be twitted with having already approved of the scheme by passing the item. The Government would smile then like the Vice-President of the Executive Council is smiling now. He knows that if he gets the vote through, the Government will be able to undertake the whole work. He would not . be taking things quite so easily otherwise. He is not at all troubled, because, although honorable senators denounce the proposal, and think that it. is not the right thing to do, they all wind up by saying that they will support the Government.
– Hear, hear; the Vice-President knows that the honorable senator is not in earnest.
– But honorable senators opposite spoke very earnestly, and their speeches will go out to the country. People will say, “ Those men opposed the Government, and used strong language in condemnation of their proposal, and yet announced their intention of voting for it.”
– Who condemned it?
– The honorable senator did. He said that this was notthe right way to bring it forward. So far as I could understand, he was thoroughly opposed to the principle which the Government had followed, until nearly the end of his speech. He did not think that the Senate had been given sufficient information, or that the matter was of such great urgency as to warrant the course taken.
– I did not say that.
– I cannot remember the exact words without obtaining a copy of Hansard, but I can remember the tenor of the honorable member’s speech and the impression it made on honorable senators on this side of the Chamber. One honorable senator here remarked, “ There is the Chairman of Committees strongly opposed to the Government.” But the honorable senator wound up like a sucking dove, and announced his intention of supporting them. We have heard a number of speeches of that kind. Many honorable senators on the other side condemn the Government time after time, but when the division bell rings, if they think the Government are in danger, they support them. If, however, they know that the Government have a big majority through honorable senatorsgoing over from this side to help them, they come across to this side and say, “What grand fellows we are! We do not want to support the Government.” I am very sorry that some older member of the Senate has not thought fit to move an amendment. If that had been done, I should have supported it. The leader of the Government in this Chamber is laughing in his sleeve. . He practically says,” Let us get this through, and you will hear no more about it.” If the question goes to a division, I shall vote against it. I hope that it will go to a division, so that we may see, after the speeches that have been made, how honorable senators vote on this item of £1,000. I have no fault to find with the building programme of the Government in the Commonwealth itself, but if a great deal of the money which is to be expended in London for various purposes was spent in the Commonwealth in erecting buildings in various parts, it would be better spent. Inmy own State, Government officials have to live and swelter under a tropical climate in buildings with iron roofs, without any ceilings, within a few feet of their heads.
– Did the Commonwealth Government erect those buildings?
– No; but they are under the control of the Commonwealth Government, and I say that before we spend money in erecting a palatial building in London, we should see that the servants we employ are better housed. Some Commonwealth officers with families have to occupy buildings in which there are only three rooms, one of which is’ the office in which they have to perform their duties. That is the way in which the public servants of the Commonwealth employed in remote districts are treated.
– The money required for this purpose would build the Federal Capital.
– I do not believe it would. Judging by the extraordinary ideas which some honorable senators appear to have, the Parliament House to be erected in the Federal Capital will alone cost £2,000,000 or . £3,000,000. We know how easily Governments spend money. We are considering a vote for £1,000, but we know what is behind it. We really do not know what price will halve tobe paidfor the land referred to, but we know that we may have to pay a rental of as much as18s. per foot for it. No business man would entertain such a proposition as that which is being submitted to the Senate. No board of directors would meet their shareholders, and no business man would submit to his firm such a proposition. We are asked to give the Government £1,000, which is to authorize them to make a deal about which we know nothing. We are here to protect the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, and to see that their money is properly spent. I do not believe that such a proposal was ever submitted to a Parliament without being resisted to the bitter end. We are being asked to give the Government carte blanche to do as they think fit. We are not even told what this £1,000 is to be voted for. We do not know whether it is to be paid over as a deposit to bind a bargain with the London County Council.
– I think the honorable senator is firing blank cartridge.
– No doubt, when honorable senators opposite have made up their mind to vote for this proposal, all that is said from this side on the subject is “ blank cartridge. “ The only information given concerning this vote is that it is an amount which is to go “towards the construction of a building in the Strand, London, for Commonwealth offices.” We know that £1,000 would be sufficient only to pay about one month’s rent for the land referred to. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has distinctly stated that if we pass this vote, no agreement will be submitted to us for ratification, we shall not be told how much is to be paid for the lease of the land, or what taxes will have to be paid in connexion with it. From the way in which this matter has been engineered, I expect that , bv the time Parliament meets again, a contract will have been entered into by the Government, we shall then be informed of its terms, andwill have to submit to the expenditure involved. If the Government are, as I believe they are, in a position to force the passage of this vote, I need not say any more on the subject, but I enter my protest against the proposal. It does not speak well for the Senate that honorable senators should vote money without knowing how it is to be spent.
.- I agree with many of the honorable senator’s arguments, but I do not agree with his conclusions. I believe that this Bill is likely to pass. I have been gratified to hear the speeches made by Senators Millen’ and Pearce, and by the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. They have pointedly directed attention to our financial future, and that is the most important question which Parliament, at the present time, can consider, as it certainly most seriously affects the interests of the people. The speech made by Senator Millen was worthy of the honorable senator. I hope it will arouse honorable senators generally to a sense of their duty, so that they may more closely watch the finances of the Commonwealth in the future than they have done in the past. I was very pleased to hear Senator Pearce speak so strongly of the necessity of coming to some financial arrangement with the States as to the future, and of the danger of allowing the present nebulous condition of affairs to continue very much longer. Senator Stewart also directed attention to the same question. Whilst I disagree, as I generally do, with many of the honorable senator’s remarks, I was very glad that he also should have devoted himself to a consideration of this question. I think that we could not, on this Bill, have expected from the Vice-President of the Executive Council a full disclosure of the financial proposals of the Government, but the honorable senator might have informed the Senate as to where the money was to come from to meet the expenditure to which we are now being asked to agree. Perhaps the honorable senator, in his reply to the debate, will be able to afford some information on that point. I should like to add my word of warning with respect to the financial position. On the 1st of January, 1911, the Braddon section of the Constitution will cease to operate.
– It will not, unless Parliament otherwise provides.
– Its operation will terminate unless something is done.
– No; the honorable senator is wrong. Something has to be done to terminate its operation.
– However, I do not think it would be wise to continue the operation of “the Braddon section after the time referred to. To have to raise £4 for every £1 we require is not good business. I mention this in order to emphasize the necessity for doing something to meet the difficulties with which the States will be faced when the Braddon section ceases to operate. The question must be tackled, and the more attention is called to it at the present time the better the States will be prepared for what must follow. It must be admitted that public expenditure by the Commonwealth and by the States is mounting up very rapidly indeed. ‘ The expenditure of the Commonwealth has been increased by over £2,000,000 in excess of its expenditure in the first year of Federation, whilst the expenditure of the States has been increased by some £4,235,000 over and above the States expenditurefor 1899-1900. This indicates a very serious position, because, in addition to this increased expenditure, the States have been relieved of expenditure to the extent of over £3,000.000 since the inauguration of Federation. The anticipations of those who took part in the agitation for Federation, and of the people who voted for it, that,in bringing it about we should not increase our expenses unduly, are being sadly disappointed. If, when the Commonwealth Bill was submitted to the people, they were told that at the close of the sixth year of Federation the Commonwealth would have increased its public expenditure by£2,000,000,and the States their expenditure by £4,235,000, the chances are the Bill would never have been accepted.
– Some people did tell the public that.
– Possibly there were some wise people at that time, but I should be glad to learn that those who told the public that when the Commonwealth Bill was being considered, have since done their best to keep clown public expenditure.
– The Labour Party have done so in South Australia.
– The Labour Party have not urged economy since Federation. It ought never to be forgotten that Commonwealth and States charges have to be paid from the same pockets. We have to face the fact thatexpenditure under the Commonwealth must be still further increased. That cannot be helped. We have other functions of government to take over from the States. We have to make ourselves known in the world, and to develop the country, and, without going into detail, it may be taken for granted that the legitimate expenditure of the Commonwealth must be very considerably increased. That being so, it is our duty to exercise our very best care, and to avoid committing the
Commonwealth to wild-cat schemes such as the proposal which we have been discussing to-day, the mail contract, and so on.
– Speaking in Adelaide, the honorable senator said that we must provide for old-age pensions.
– I am prepared to vote for the establishment of a Federal system of old-age pensions. That will involve legitimate expenditure which we must incur. As compared with the House of Representatives, the Senate represents the States in a special manner, and we should bear in mind our dual obligation of loyalty to the Commonwealth and the States. We are bound to economize so far as we can, and we should insist that the States Governments shall economize also. They cannot expect to go on, as in the past, increasing their expenditure. If they do, the people” will rise in judgment and sweep us and them out of the way. Another matter which should lead us to be careful in dealing with financial questions is the fact that there is a prospect before us of a bad season. During the last three years we have been favoured with exceptionally good seasons. In my experience - and it has been a very long one - I have not seen a season break so badly in a great portion of northern Victoria and Riverina as this season has, since the year of the great drought. That we shall experience a bad seasonin the greater portion of northern Victoria, Riverina, and a considerable part of western NewSouth Wales - I do not know about Queensland - is an absolute certainty, I think. That is another reason why we should bevery careful. A bad season does not come alone. When we get one bad season, we generally have two or three more. That will bring us up to the time for the next general election. Unless we mend our ways, the electors will talk at that time, I think, to some purpose. Senator Pearce has said that a strong Government is needed to produce a financial scheme which will insure fair treatment to the States and at the same time enable the Commonwealth to pursue that course of development which it should take in order to achieve the end for which it was created I do not know whether such a Government lies in the immediate future or not. I certainly doubt if we have such a Government at the present time. The present Government reigns, but does not govern. It is in the hands of a party which is always ready to spend. It will be very difficult indeed to put on the brake and keep it within reasonable bounds.
– To what party is the honorable senator referring?
– To the Labour Party.
– That is another misrepresentation.
– If I wanted to find a motto for that party, I would suggest “Tax and Spend.”
– That is another misrepresentation.
– The burden of nearly all their song is to tax and then to spend the money.
– It is the party which put the brake on the desire of the antiSocialists to borrow at the inception of Federation.
– There was no such desire on the part of anti-Socialists. There was a proposal by the Government of the day to borrow £500,000 to carry out certain public works, and with the exception of a very few members it was rejected by the House of Representatives.
– The Labour Party settled that proposal.
– The Labour Party is entitled to no more credit for that decision than is any one else. But, of course, they claim the credit for every good thing which is done, and try to fasten upon others the discredit for every bad thing which is done. I am very strongly of the opinion that the present Government will retain office for nearly three years. I do not see how any change is likely to come about. It has been pointed out that when the Tariff is out of the way, we may get a change of Government. I do not think that there is the least chance of that taking place. The party which is supporting the Government now will continue their support until the next general election, because it is bound to the Government by the strongest of ties. It is not a tie of affection or interest or community of interest, but a tie of fear, and that is the fear of a general election.
– Of that the Labour Party have never been afraid.
– The wily man who is leading the Government at the present time knew what he was doing a little while ago when he got the Labour Party by the back of the neck; he knew that he had them safe, and that they would not precipitate a crisis before a general election came about in the ordinary course.
– I think that the Labour Party are less afraid of a general election than any other party.
– We shall see. I think it will be found that the Labour Party and the Government have eachgot
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that topic unless he intends to connect his remarks with the question before the Senate.
– I have only one more remark to make, sir.
– The honorable senator has had a very fair opportunity to refer to that matter, and to show how he proposes to connect his remarks with the motion.
– I only wish to make one more remark. Either the Government and the Labour Party have to hang together or they will hang separately. I am glad that a warning note as to our financial position has been sounded here to-day. I trust that the Government will be prudent, and so far as they exercise prudence and care, and practice economy, they will have the support of honorable senators, no matter where they may sit. Ihave no special interest in any items in this Bill. No person has sent to me a request for a post-office or other work.
– No request for telephones ?
– No. My interest in the Bill is purely an abstract one. I certainly do take an interest in the vote for a site, in the Strand, London. I agree with many of Senator Sayers’ arguments, but not with his conclusions. The members of the Government: who have to deal with this question have fully maintained their reputation for unbusinesslike capacity. I find that the Acting Prime Minister has stated that on the 17th Mayto had an interview with the valuer to the London County Council, in company with Captain Collins, and received information as to the building conditions, terms of the lease, &c. Those are the very items in respect of which the Vice-President of the Executive Council said to-night’ the Government has cabled to London for information. Can you, sir, imagine any” one going to London on a mission of this importance, and coming away with the meagre tale which we heard here to-night ?.
Would any one of us retain a servant who did his work in that way? No.
– But that was not the purpose for which the Minister went to England?
– That was one of the purposes to which the Minister applied himself when he was in England, and he acted in a very incomplete way. 1 undertake to say that Mr. Bent did not come out so meagrely supplied with information as did that honorable gentleman. Surely the information which was available to Mr. Bent was available to Sir William Lyne ! He was not there alone. He was accompanied by Mr. Atlee Hunt and two or three other Government officers, to whom he could have said, “ Go and look into this business, and bring me all particulars as to rents, rates, and building terms, and the position at the end of the lease.” All that information could have been obtained, but I suppose that the honorable gentleman was too busily engaged in spreading himself at Birmingham and other places to look after such humble matters as the interests of the Commonwealth. Reference has been made to the failure of the mail contract. While this business may not be such a fiasco, still, so far as it has gone, it reflects as little credit upon the Government as that business did. But, putting aside the question of the capacity or incapacity of the Government, let us consider this matter fairly in the . interests of Australia, and . see whether we really need in London ‘a building which will pro- . perly represent this continent. In the first place, we want a building in order to concentrate Australian interests in London. We desire the Commonwealth to be represented on onespot, and the various States to be represented on that spot, to show the products which we can produce, and to impress upon the people of the old land the suitability of this continent as a place for the Anglo-Saxon race. We need in London a building in which the States can rest under the shadow of the Commonwealth, each State doing its own work in its own way, and the Commonwealth doing the great business of Australia. We do not require costly Agents-General for the States to wear the paraphernalia of office and attend distinguished society functions, but shrewd and patriotic general -agents who will push the interests of their respective States, and in doing so, promote the interests of Australia to the best of their ability. Two years ago I spent a considerable time in London. If there was one thing which used to grieve and anger me it was the dense ignorance of Australia which was displayed by the people.. TheVice President of the Executive Council and I used to discuss the question together. Unless a man goes to London and moyesabout among the people, he is really unable to comprehend the dense ignorance about this country which prevails there. London people know more about Timbuctoo, Paraguay, and other such places, than they know of their kith and kin in thiscountry. The need of Australia in London -of course, I mean Great Britain - is representation to expose the evil things which are said about us, to present our good points, to explain what a good place Australia is for the English race to come to, to describe the conditions of life under which we live, and to depict our fineclimate.
– Were not the antiSocialists responsible for the majority of thosemisrepresentations ?
– I did not say that there were any misrepresentations. At any rate, that is hot the question with which. I am dealing. We want to be represented by competent men, with a knowledge of the country. We desire our products to beexhibited in a central building, and information to be supplied therefrom. That,., of course, involves the appointment of ar. High Commissioner. An appointment should be made with as little delay as possible. If it were possible, I would like to seea High Commissioner chosen even beforethis building is erected. He could occupy temporary premises at an annual rental of £1,000or£1,500. That would answer while the permanent building was being: erected. He could be gradually getting, used to the place, ascertaining the lay of the land, acquiring a knowledge of the people, and thus preparing himself for thetime when he would be able to carry out , his work in larger premises and on a widerscale. Is it a good site which has been selected? It is said that it is not a good site, because it is not in a business or central street. I do not profess to know all London, but to my mind it is an excellent site. It is not what may be called a business street, but it is a busy street.
– At night.
– No, it is a great artery of London.
– For omnibuses, but not for pedestrians.
– I do not care whether the people walk or ride in omnibuses or tramcars, if they go along the street they will not miss seeing our building in the Strand. They will know where to go. It is a site that stands out well. I have heard it stated that people do not go there. I will mention a fact to show whether people _go there or not : At the time when the Vice-President of the Executive Council and I were in London, Dr. Torrey was holding great religious revival meetings on -almost the very spot where it is proposed io acquire land for the Commonwealth. A temporary church had been erected there. Surely, if it were not the kind of place to which people would go, a building would mot have been temporarily erected in which to hold meetings of 17,000 or 20,000 people.
– It must be consecrated ground now !
– It is near to Westminster, near to the National Gallery, where thousands of people go, near to Covent Garden, near to St. Paul’s, and not very far from the Bank of England. The plan before us would seem to show that it is nearer the Bank of England than is really the case. As a matter of fact, it is -about a mile and a quarter away, but it is quite near enough to the heart of the city. Indeed, a site within the city itself would mot be suitable for the purpose. It is also very near to the river. The next question is whether the price we are paying is too high. That is a matter as to which we cannot very well judge. If we want land anywhere we shall have to pay the price for it, and land in London, as we know very well, is very, very- dear. It is not “very long ago since the London County Council took this district in hand, bought up the buildings, pulled them down, and de-cast the whole neighbourhood.
– In the city itself we ^should have to pay far more for land.
– In the middle of the city we should have to pay very much more. Even as a speculation, I do not think we shall go far wrong in taking this . property. We must, of course, take some fisk. I do npt think that the risk is too great
– Is there not a -danger of our being too extravagant ?
– There is always .a danger of being too extravagant on the one hand, or too miserly on the other. We require to get the right mean as between tlie two: But we do want to be known, in London and in Great Britain, and we have to take some risk to secure our end. We must make up our mind to spend some money, I believe that it would have been better, had it been possible - I3o not say that it was possible- to consult the States as. to their willingness’ to join with us in this matter. I feel confident that if the site is secured and the States are taken into the confidence of the Government as to the building that is to be erected, and if they are invited to make use of it, not one single State Government in Australia will stand out. They must see that’ it- : will .be; much to their advantage- to have quarters in , a group of buildings where all Australia will be represented, rather than have their offices scattered about in holes and corners in various parts of the city. I have no doubt that the States will join. My honorable friend, Senator Sayers, is very dubious as to the success of this experiment, and as to the expenditure, which he says we are giving the Government permission to incur. But that is scarcely the case. We have been told very frankly that the Government want this £1,000 in order to enable them to’ get a leg in - to make a start. They want to secure the land. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has been perfectly straightforward in what he has told us. He has assured us that in regard to the building and the design for it, Parliament will be consulted. I do not think we can ask for more than that at this time. But if we lose this chance of getting an eligible site, we mav have to wait a long while before we get another chance. If Canada is going to build alongside of us, so much the better. Certain ‘ points which are very important have been mentioned. One is as to what will happen at the end of the ninety-nine years - whether there will be a re-adjustment of rent, or compensation for improvements, or a right to a renewal. Those points will, of course’, receive due consideration. Another point is that while we may take the land at once, we are not expected to pay the full rental at once. In the first year, no rent will be required. Thev will give us an opportunity to build or to commence our foundations’. In the second year, they will charge a quarter rent, in the third year a half, in the fourth year three-quarters, and in the* fifth year the’ full amount will be payable. We shall therefore have time to complete our arrangements before the full rent is paid. .. I urge upon my fellow senators that it is high time we were properly represented in London.It is time that we made the pace a little bit. faster there than we have been doing. I do not say that we should Le extravagant. We must certainly be careful. But there is a carefulness that makes for loss, and an expenditure that will make foradvancement and profit. Australia expects to make progress. The question of opening up new markets, the question of encouraging immigration in order to people this continent, have to be dealt with. We have two great competitors for the vast stream of emigration from England - Canada, and the United States. If we desire to cope with them, and to have any chance of securing a proportion of the emigrants who leave England every year - going to the United States to the extent of 1,000,000 per annum., and to Canada to the extent of 200,000 or 300,000 - we shall have to do something more than we are doing at present. We are taking the first step in the right direction. We cannot see our path clearly all the way. We cannot see far beyond the present. But as we enter further into this matter, the way will open in front of us andwe shall be able to see directions in which our position can be improved. I believe the Senate will be wise in agreeing to the vote. I trust that it will be passed, and that the Government will proceed cautiously, carefully, but at the same time, with determination and vigour, to secure for us in London - and that means in the heart of the Empire - a habitation and a name worthy of Australia.
– Since it has been my fortune to be a member of the Senate, I have been led to regard honorable senators opposite as a sort of constitutional party who boast of being very precise and correct in their method of dealing with public business. But I have been astonished on this occasion to find honorable senators ready to charge the Government with the absence of a financial policy. I desire, however, to congratulate the Government upon once more determining to construct public works out of revenue, and not to go in for the borrowing policy which has characterized the States in the past. But a demand has been made that the Government shall come forward with a financialpolicy. I do not know that there is any necessity for a Government at any time to provide more money than is required for the annual services and for public works out of revenue. Thanks to that ‘ ‘ extravagant ‘ ‘ party to which Senator McColl referred - the Labour Party - the Commonwealth has no debts, and, therefore, does not require to provide a sinking fund. But the Government’s financial policy, up to the present, has been such that if it were necessary they are in the fortunate position of being able to provide a little money for a sinking fund.
– How about taking over the Northern Territory and the other proposals which have been mentioned?
– No doubt the Government are like other Governments, and, when the time arrives, thev will. make provision to meet their financial obligations ; we do not expect them to provide the money until it is required. If the States, whose example has been held up to us by Senator McColl, had avoided borrowing, as the Commonwealth is doing, they would have had reason to be thankful. I very much regret that Senator McColl was a little wild, and almost inclined to be raving, in some of his utterances ; but I am glad to know that the honorable senator has at last mustered sufficient courage to say in the Senate what he has been saying to the people outside. I can forgive a man for making such statements if he can back them up with facts ; but’ what right had Senator McColl to charge the Labour Party with extravagance and with a desire to tax and spend, and not bring one fact forward in proof of his allegations? What fact is Senator McColl able to cite as proof of extravagance on the part of the Labour Party?
– One cannot move without running the risk of breaking one’s neck over the facts.
– The States debts, which Senator McColl is so anxious for the Commonwealth to take over, were created by the political party to which he deems it an honour to belong. I was not enthusiastic about the erection of great Commonwealth offices in London; but as a result of what we have heard from honorable, senators opposite to-night, I realize that there . is an urgent necessitv to have a broad-minded representative of Australia in the old country to correct the ill effects of such speeches. For that reason I shall support the proposal for the provision of
Commonwealth offices in London. I have every confidence in the future of Australia,, although we have been told by honorable senators opposite that Australia is on the brink_of ruin - that practically, in a few years, the country will .be bankrupt. Such utterances are probably cabled to the ‘bid country.
– Whoever said that?
– Has any member of the Opposition risen to-day without repeating the statement?
– Who said it?
– Practically all the honorable senators opposite who have spoken, have said so; and Senator McColl indorsed Senator Millen’s words to that effect. I regret that Senator Millen was very narrow in dealing with this question from ah Australian point of view. The honorable senator drew an alarming picture of expenditure which he said was contemplated by the present Government ; and the position of honorable senators opposite is rather remarkable. When the Bounties Bill was under consideration, - honorable senators opposite declared that the industries would never bet commenced in Australia ; but when they came to deal with the financial aspect of the matter, they emphatically declared that many hundreds of thousands of pounds would be required in order to pay the bounties. They seem to. forget that if the industries are not started no bounties will be collected j and such argument as they used is hardly fair. Then, again, those honorable senators make all sorts of calculations as to the cost of penny postage; although they are confident that that project will not be carried out. Is. it fair, on their part, to ask the Government to provide ways and means for meeting expenditure which they are anxious shall not be incurred, and which they will use every possible effort to prevent? As to defence, I am quite alive to the fact that the Commonwealth cannot make satisfactory provision, so long as they are compelled to continue the present annual repayments to the States. If we desire, to establish, anything like effective de-‘ fence, one of two things must happen ; we must either cease contributing so much to the revenue of the States, or we must borrow. There is only one other alternative, and that is direct taxation. Honorable senators opposite always fight to retain the Tight of the States to draw as much revenue as they possibly can from the Com monwealth^ while they, at the same time, object to any .additional direct taxation, particularly in the form suggested by honorable members on this side. We now have Senator McColl claiming that it is owing to the elf oris of honorable senators opposite that the Commonwealth did not adopt a policy of borrowing. That honorable senator, who poses as the champion of economy, desires to have- the Commonwealth represented in a worthy manner by the erection of grand “offices for the High Commissioner in the Strand, London. I do not know whether the proposed site is -a good one or not ; but Senator McColl ‘s idea is to have the States’ representatives grouped around the High Commissioner in the new’ premises. But what sort of economy is it to establish a High Commissioner, and then have around him ai number of little, satellites, in the shape of Agents-General, drawing money from the taxpayers of Australia?
– They are general agents.
– I do not know that the duties of the general agents differ much from the’ duties of the AgentsGeneral, 01 that the change of name means any reduction in the salaries. If I thought that the appointment of a High Commissioner would mean the duplication of the States representation, I should certainly oppose any such scheme. I am .in hopes, however, that when a High Commissioner is appointed, the States will see the wisdom of economizing by withdrawing their Agents-General, and leaving the representation of Australia to the High Commissioner. Senator McColl charged the Labour Party with being bound to the present Government, not by sympathy, burby fear; and I believe that to be just about the position. Personally, I do not support the present Government altogether because of any particular love - for them. I want to be candid in this matter ; and I may explain that I. have a terrible fearthat if the present Government were/displaced, honorable senators opposite might come into power. That, in my opinion; would mean disaster to Australia,- because, then we should have extravagance as in the days of old. We have been told by Senator McColl that when he was in London - he found great ignorance prevailing in regard to Australian conditions. But what can we expect? Very few labour speeches made in this Chamber are cabled to- London, but the utterances- of. the so-called anti-Socialist, constitutional, allvirtue party are’ read in the old country. When the speech of Senator McColl is cabled over, and the’ people at home see that,, in his- opinion, the present Government, are kept in power by a party, whose only desire is to grab something, I can quite imagine Australia being deemed a good place to be out of. If honorable senators opposite would adopt a reasonable attitude, and deal with facts, it would be more to the interests of Australia. I again congratulate the Government on their financial .policy, and especially upon the fact that they have provided for the necessary public works of the Commonwealth without borrowing. Although they are paying for public works out of revenue, they are still’, able to provide a little for the benefit of the States over and above the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which the Constitution compels us to return. Senator McColl expressed the fear that some wildcat scheme was- going to be inaugurated at the instigation pf the Labour Party. Has the Labour Party ever thrust any ‘wildcat schemes upon .the people of the Commonwealth? I can not’ only enumerate a number of such schemes which have been proposed and carried by honorable senators opposite, but can mention more than one which has. been responsible for building up the public debt .of Victoria - introduced by Governments of which Senator McColl was al member. For those he must bear his fair share of responsibility. When the Labour Party have the responsibility thrust upon them of conducting the Government of the Commonwealth, when they bring in wild-cat . schemes which end in building up a national debt, when they fail to make provision for the redemption of those debts, it will.be time enough to condemn them for bringing in wild-cat . schemes. Governments, in which a large proportion pf honorable senators opposite have had a share, have built up the debts df the) Australian States, and when_ those honorable senators are asked for a remedy they’ say, ‘.’The.’ Commonwealth Government and’ Parliament are dominated by the Labour Party.” Consequently, I ask those extravagant, would-be-wild-cat people to relieve us of the accusation of bringing in wild-cat schemes, and of the responsibility for the debts created in the past. I am- glad to know that the Commonwealth has lived’ so far without going into debt. I” hope that the anti-borrowing policy will continue as the permanent policy of the Commonwealth, and that when the Government oring down a defence policy, including theconstruction of ‘ an Australian Navy, they will recognise mal the working man of Australia has really very little interest in’ defence. He has at least not nearly the same interest as have the class of people whom honorable senators opposite have the honourto represent. What has a man who merely has his labour to sell, who has only hishands wherewith to obtain a living, which, when obtained, is barely sufficient to keep his wife and children, to defend ? We donot want to tax him to defend the country. When that defence policy is brought down, I hope that the Government will say, ‘ ‘ As we are going to defend the property of the Commonwealth-, the men who own it ought to pay for its defence.’.’ When that day arrives, I hope that the necessary direct taxation will be levied upon those who have something to defend, and that defencewill not mean impoverishing the poorer people of this country.
Debate (on . motion by Senator Gray), adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070926_senate_3_39/>.