3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers;
Senator VARDON presented a petition from 101 producers in South Australia praying the Senate to reduce the standard of flash of kerosene oil to 73 deg. Fahreneit.
Petition received and read.
Senator VARDON (South Australia) [2.32]. -Asthe probabilityis that the matter will be again’ before the Senate - in which event I desire to take action - I move -
That the petition be printed.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) [2.33]. - Whenever it was proposed to print any document of this sort, relating to the Tariff, I opposed the proposal, and, therefore, I intend to vote against this motion.
The PRESIDENT. - According to standing order 92 -
No senator shall move that a petition be . printed unless he intends to take action upon it and informs the Senate thereof.
I understood the honorable senator to state that he intended to take action upon the petition when the matter again came before the Senate.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [2.34]. - I desire to point out that a short time ago I made a similar statement, and that the Senate-
The PRESIDENT.- Order. I point out to the honorable senator that at the present time that matter is not open to discussion. It is not a question as to whether the ruling on that occasion was correct or not.
Senator Colonel NEILD.-Iam not challenging the ruling.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senator PULSFORD. - I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, the following questions -
What is the total amount of the revenue collected from ships’ stores from 8th October, 1901, to the end of 1907?
Out of such total what amounts have been credited to the respective States- State by State?
Senator BEST. - The honorable senator was good enough to give me (notice’ of his intention to ask these questions, and therefore I am in a position to say that the replies thereto are as follow -
New South Wales, £38,813 12s. ad.; Vic toria, £23,976 8s.* rod. ; Queensland, £10,859 6s.1d.; South Australia, £21,081 19s.9d. ; Western Australia, £24,681 7s.; Tasmania, £4,047 18s. Total, £123,46011s10d.
NAVAL AGREEMENT : EXCHANGE.
Senator PULSFORD.- Referring to the table given on page 54 of the Budget papers, I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the words at the head thereof, “ Including Exchange,” mean that any charge for exchange is deducted from the £200,000 paid to the Imperial Government under the Naval Agreement, and, if so, how much ?
Senator BEST. - No exchange is deducted.
– At the present moment I am hardly in a position to make a definite reply to ray honorable friend. The prospect is that we shall have the Capital Site Bill here for consideration on Friday next.
– What about the Supplementary Estimates?
– I hope to have the Additional or Supplementary Estimates here by to-morrow, and perhaps honorable senators may see their way to finish the consideration of the Estimates by to-mor- tow night.’
– I hope so, indeed.
– The money has all been spent.
– It is not worth while to bring the Estimates before the Senate at all.
– I will not say that I should not like to have the Estimates and, if possible; the Additional Estimates put through by to-morrow night. I hope to receive the Capital Site Bill on Friday next, but, perhaps, I may be able to make a more definite announcement to morrow.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, some questions arising out of the following complaint from Stockwell, which appeared in the South Australian Advertiser of Saturday, last -
The local post-office has again had a change of officer. Miss Carter has resigned from the service, and her place is being filled temporarily by Miss Dunstan. It is proposed to make this a telephone office and connect it with Nuriootpa, whence messages will be transmitted. As a result of the adoption of a system of making the small country townships show a - credit balance every year, the residents are being subjected to irritating inconveniences. Telegrams must wait till they are called lor” &c. Members of the Commonwealth Partial ment talk about living wages and minimum salaries to boys and labourers, and yet they allow post-offices in the country to be taken at £40 a year. The lady who resigned did the work for £50, and presumably the next one will only get £30. Steps are being taken to call a public meeting to protest against this outrageous policy.
Will the Minister cause inquiries to be made as to whether those statements are correct, and, if so, does he consider it desirable to. attempt to effect some improvement ?
– My attention has not previously been directed to the paragraph in question, but if the honorable senator will be good enough to supply me with a copy of it, I shall have inquiries made’, and furnish him with the result of them.
– Referring to page . 115 of the Budget papers, I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, the following questions -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as. follow -
– This is the first time that I have heard of the matter. I shall certainly deem it my duty to make immediate inquiries, and, possibly, if the matter is mentioned at a later hour, I may be able to give the honorable senator the information which he desires.
– May I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he is yet in receipt of information relating to communications between the Commonwealth Government and the Indian Government on the subject of remounts?
– No reply has yetbeen received from the Indian Government in answer to our cable.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the fol lowing papers : -
Statutory Rules1908, No. 35. - In the High Court of Australia-. - Rules of Court.
Additional Estimates of Expenditure and Additional Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings’, &c, for the year ending 30th June, t1908
Copy of a Report from the Commissioner for Lands, Papua, for the month of February.
Notification respecting Right of Carriage Way, Battery Site, Mount Nelson, Tasmania.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Senate a copy of the reply of the Government to the despatches from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated November and December last, regarding the Navigation Bill, which the Government stated on the 24th March was in course of preparation?
– The reply has not yet been sent.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the statement by the Prime Minister of Natal that his Government proposes to bring up the question of surtax on sugar from Australia at the Customs Conference in Pretoria in April, has the Government taken steps to see that the Australian views on the matter are placed fully before the Conference in answer to Natal ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Yes; the statement of the case in the Prime Minister’s letter of 28th February (copy, of which has already been laid upon the table of the Senate), has been followed up by a cablegram reading - “ Urge that question of surtax on Australian sugar be reconsidered at Customs
Conference. Not bounty fed within meaning Sugar Convention. Bounty ‘paid to individualfarmers who produce cane with white labour and not to manufacturers of sugar. See third paragraph Prime Minister’s letter 28th February to Premiers South African States.”
I may add that this cable was sent to the High Commissioner.
– What was the date?
– I have not the date, but I will ascertain.
Referring to the return recently laid on the table of the Senate, relating to cadet staff officers -
Why was there omitted from the statement of the length and character of the military services of Major Dove, adjutant of the New South Wales cadet Staff, the following : - (a) 3 years’ service in Scottish Rifles, private tocolour-serge’ant ; (i) 2 2-12 years in the Mounted Rifles, trooper to sergeant ?
In the Remarks column, why was it stated regarding the major and lieutenant that “ Both these officers’ duties’ are similar,” if it is a matter of common report and knowledge that this is not so?
Is it not a fact that a senior officer is charged with higher responsibility, and’ exercises higher authority, than, thosejunior to him?
Is it not a fact that the State Commandant and the Chief Staff Office, New South Wales, look to Major Dove, and hold him responsible for all matters arising in the local cadet force, and in the staff of same?
Is it not a fact that the salary paid by the Commonwealth to Major Dove, as adjutant, is no higher than that previously paid to the drill sergeantmajor attached to the corps?
Is not the salary paid to Major Dove materially less than that stipulated in the Financial Regulations as the pay attaching to officers of equal rank on the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the Commonwealth Military Service?
The records at head-quarters only give the commissioned service of Brevet-Maior Dove, D.S.O.
Both of these officers belong to the Instructional Staff of the Cadets, and their duties are set forth in paragraph 53 of the Standing Orders for the Commonwealth Military Forces, which reads -
Officers of the Instructional Staff are attached to brigades and corps for imparting instruction in drill, tactics, discipline, organization, and administration. They are under the command of the Brigadiers to whose brigade they ‘ are attached. They will assist the Brigadiers and Commanding Officers in the administrative duties connected with their commands. They are placed at the disposal of the Brigadiers and Commanding Officers of the various brigades, regiments, and corps, as instructors in the broadest sense of the term. It will be their special duty to instruct (and assist) the Brigade Majors and Adjutants of regiment’s in their administrative, clerical, and other duties,
Staff officers will personally impart practical and theoretical instruction to officers of the units to which they belong. They will exercise constant supervision over warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff.
Officers of the Instructional Staff are not to be considered as available for District Staff duty, except under very special circumstances, and Brigadiers and Commanding Officers will invariably be consulted beforehand should the Staff Officers be required for duty away from the units to which they are attached.
There is no knowledge at head-quarters that any departure has been made from this.
From a general point of view, yes; but similar duties are allotted to all officers of the Instructional Staff, irrespective of rank (vide standing order above quoted).
There is a Commanding Officer of Cadets in New South Wales who alone is responsible to the Commandant for all matters “ arising in the local cadet force, and in the staff of same.”
No. From a communication received from the District Commandant, New South Wales, the State Education Department employed three non-commissioned officers - instructors - viz. : - 1 at a salary of£225 per annum. 2 at a salary of£200 per annum.
Brevet-Major Dove received £225 per annum as Adjutant of Cadets under the Education Department of New South Wales. On appointment to the Commonwealth fie received£250 per annum, and provision is made for payment to him at the rate of , £275 per annum from 1st May next.
Brevet-Major Dove’s substantive rank is that of captain, and the minimum salary allotted to a captain of the Instructional Staff is £375 per annum ; but when the officers who were previously employed by State Governments were appointed to the Cadet Administrative and Instructional Staff in 1906, the arrangement (fully understood by the officers concerned), was that (hey should receive the same salary as that paid by the State Governments, or not less than£250 per annum, i.e., the minimum pay of a lieutenant on ‘the Administrative and Instructional Staff, with increments in accordance with regulations. All first appointments to the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the Commonwealth are to the rank of lieutenant, but as Brevet-Major Dove was permanently employed under the State Education Department of New South Wales he was permitted to retain the higher rank. As stated in (5) Brevet-Major Dove has received£25 per annum more than previously paid by the State Government, and from1st May, 1908, the increase will be £50 per annum.
Wales, each receive salaries of£400 per annum; whilst in one State the officer who, according to the return, has qualified for no military rank whatever, is discharging these duties?
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable senator -
Motion (by Senator Henderson) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on 2nd April,1908, be adopted.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of the following message from the House of Representatives : -
The House of Representatives transmits to the Senate the following resolutions, which were this day agreed to by the House ofRepresentaitives : -
The House of Representatives requests the Senate to empower the Committee accordingly.
House of Representatives,
Melbourne, 2nd April,1908
– Under the terms of the Standing Orders, and particularly in view of the fact that the matter referred to in the message fro.m the House of Representatives has already been discussed by the Senate, and that what I propose to do in connexion with it will be in all probability regarded as purely formal, I ask that, by leave, the message may be dealt with at once.
– I move-
This matter was very fully dealt with, as honorablesenators are aware, when the Select Committee was appointed. Representations were subsequently made elsewhere, and it was decided by the Government, in pursuance of the strongly expressed wish of honorable members of both Chambers, that reflections which have recently been made upon members of Parliament, and upon the honour of Parliament, should receive the attention of the Committee which has been appointed. A resolution was thereupon passed in another place. The position now is, therefore, that the House of Representatives section of the Joint Committee have been empowered to make these further inquiries. Now it is asked that the Senate members of the Committee shall likewise be empowered to inquire into the matters referred, to inthe terms of the motion.
– Can the Committee sit when the session is ended?
– Then will the Government make a Royal Commission of it ?
– It is to be hoped that the Committee will make a considerable advance with their work before the session closes ; but in any case that question is not now under consideration.
– I rather regret that, as the result of the action taken elsewhere, two matters that appear entirely distinct are likely _ to become confused. In saying that, I think it is very probable, judging from the tone of the debate the other day, that in my views I am in a minority in this Chamber, but it would have been far better to kaye the Parliamentary Committee to make its inquiry, and devise means of dealing with cases of this kind, rather than to ask a section of those against whom an allegation has been made to practically conduct an inquiry into that allegation. I wish to refer to the major argument addressed to you, sir, in the debate of last week - that the practice of bringing offenders, or alleged offenders, before Parliament was open, not merely to the charge that it had proved useless, but that Parliament was in the position of prosecutor and judge in its own case. The Committee will be, to a great extent, in exactly the same position. Instead of Parliament as a whole making the in:quiry and calling the offenders before it, it delegates that task to a section of its members.
– The honorable senator is presupposing that these people cannot prove the charge. How can they be offenders if they can prove what they have stated ?
– My main point is that where an accusation is levelled against Parliament, Parliament is unfitted to inquire into it. Perhaps I am wrong in saying that it is unfitted, but the impression outside would always be that Parliament was necessarily prejudiced in its own favour. I had hoped that the Committee would have thrust upon it simply the responsibility of devising means by which in any cases such as those now under review, Parliament could have taken action outside of itself. I do not propose to suggest the idea that is in my mind, but at any rate machinery could have been devised under which Parliament, instead of being in the position of - a Judge could, through some properly-appointed officer, have stood in the . position of complainant, leaving to those outside parliamentary circles to determine whether the statements made were libellous or justified in the public interest. I suppose, however, judging from the previous debate, that I am in a minority in the matter, and I can only express my regret that the action taken in the Senate, after discussion and deliberation, is likely to be reversed by the course adopted elsewhere, and now brought forward for our acceptance.
– NEILD (New South Wales) [3.4]. - I am rather at a loss to follow Senator Millen’ s argument, which seems to be that Parliament as a whole is competent to deal with a matter which the elected representatives of the Parliament are not fitted to deal with. But I have an objection to the motion from quite a different point of view. If Parliament, or its Committee, is in a position to make these investigations, there was no need to appoint the Committee to propose methods by which such matters should be inquired into. The duty placed upon the Committee last week was similar to the duty that falls upon the Judges of the High Court to prepare rules for the conduct of the business that is to come before them. I name the High Court because it is the newest Australian creation. Just in the same -way as the Judges are empowered to do all that is necessary to formulate rules of Court to enable the details of their business to be properly handled, so Parliament” has, no doubt, power to act in these affairs, but some machinery, some rules of Court, or Standing Orders, or possibly a short Act, may be needful to give more complete and effective powers for dealing with the mat- ers I referred to. But if those powers are required, how is the Committee to investigate such matters without powers? If, on the other hand, the Committee has the power to make the inquiries proposed, where is the necessity for the Committee to draw up recommendations for Parliament? One proposition conflicts entirely with the other. I draw attention also to the hopelessness of the Committee dealing with these investigations during the remainder of the present session.- There is not a prospect of their being able to do so. It is possible that we might be able to submit, in the course of two or three days, some machinery proposals, and they might be made efficacious ; but to suppose that ‘the Committee will be in a position, during the currency of the present session, to investigate these charges, which were made in another State - and that will mean bringing a lot of people here, or the Committee going to that State - is to expect an impossibility, unless the session is to be prolonged very much beyond the limits that honorable members of both Houses desire.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South. Australia) [3.7]. - I do not wish to re-open the discussion that took place last week, but personally, I feel unable to allow the motion to go without a strong protest. Parliament is adopting an extremely unwise course in appointing such a Committee at all, and is going still further in a course of error and foolishness, if I may so express it, in adding to the duties of the Committee those matters which the Minister has enumerated. The Senate should pause before affirming this extension of the Committee’s duties, which are, undoubtedly, as Senator Neild pointed out, absolutely in conflict with each other. There is also the consideration suggested by Senator Givens, that it is really a farce to appoint a Select Committee when we are on the eve of a prorogation. It would be an excess of folly to appoint a Royal Commission upon a matter of this kind - a Royal Commission to inquire whether Parliament has been slandered !
– Not whether it has been slandered, but whether certain members of Parliament received large sums of money in respect of their votes on the Tariff.
– I do not know who they were, but that is the allegation.
– Exactly. The proposal is to appoint the Committee in order to find out whether the allegation has been made. It is contemptible. If Parliament cannot allow a railing statement of that kind to be made in the press, without any specific accusation, but must go foraging about for a specific accusation, then’ Parliament is not worthy of its name.
– The accusation was fairly specific.
– It was not, and it is a humiliation for Parliament to go hunting about for a specific accusation against some of its members. Is there any member, or class of members, in this Parliament towards whom any of us, or any one outside, can point the finger and say that he .or they have received a bribe? If there is, let us bring the matter before this Parliament and deal with it. Nobody would be more ready to inflict the utmost possible punishment if allegations of thai sort were made without foundation than I should be, but the Committee was recommended to the Senate, and, no doubt, also to another place, because it was suggested that there was a defect in our procedure, which was lumbering and ineffective, . and that it would be very much better that a shorter procedure, if possible, should be adopted. That is a proposal that might commend itself to any of us. We know that the procedure of Parliament, in regard to its privileges, is cumbersome and difficult to work, and, to a large extent, to use Senator “Millen’s expression, useless. It has its advantages in some ways, but, so far as regards specific inquiries and punishments, it is not effective. That was therefore a legitimate subject of inquiry, and the motion which we agreed to was an admis-sion by us that some kind of remedy or simplification ought to be devised. The Committee might even report that it was desirable that accusations against Parliament should be remitted to the High Court - ah independent tribunal - to be dealt with. It might recommend the simplification of the existing procedure or the substitution of some other more effective tribunal. But having conceded, as we did the other day by passing the motion, that the powers of Parliament are cumbersome, although, perhaps, not altogether ineffective, and that we could not investigate and deal with these matters ourselves, it is proposed now to ask a Committee, appointed in the expiring days of the session, not merely to say whether the procedure ought to be improved or re-modelled, but to hunt about for a charge and report to Parliament whether a charge has been made or not.
– The Committee will not have even the power to summon witnesses.
– The proposal is surrounded with all kinds of difficulties. I pity the members of the Committee, not because I think that they will hesitate to give their utmost endeavours to the task before them, but because the result will be absolutely futile.
– The Committee would never have been appointed if it had not been for the allegations recently made.
– The honorable senator is, no doubt, quite right, but the object of its appointment was not to hunt about and formulate an accusation for people who make railing statements in newspapers. The object was so to rearrange and simplify the procedure either of Parliament or of some other body, that when charges were made they could be instantaneously dealt with. I decline to believe or admit that charges, other’ than vague railing statements, have been made, that this Parliament ought to take any cognizance of. Where is it to end? The proposal is that the Committee should inquire into allegations made against Parliament or individual members of it. There are none. Such an inquiry would be in conflict with the real purpose of the Committee. A pretty mess they will get into. If- they are ever able to investigate the charges ali all, the difficulties that Senator Givens has indicated will be found insuperable, and the inquiry will result in a perfect fiasco. That is not a position in which Parliament or the Senate ought to be placed. I cannot express the feelings of indignation that I entertain, in regard to a proposal that the Committee should hunt about in the press, where all kinds of things are said about Parliament generally, in order to see whether some distinct allegation or accusation has been made that ought to be investigated, or in respect of which somebody ought to be punished. Above all, there is the point, emphasized already on this side of the Chamber, that there are only two or three days for the Committee to sit. The Minister rather evaded the question when he was asked if the Government intended to convert the Committee into a Royal Commission. He ought to state at once whether that is the intention of the Government. Surely he will not say that the Government propose to turn this Committee into a Royal Commission to inquire into vague statements which nobody believes?
– Many people outside believe them.
– I do not think that any man whose opinion is worth considering, for a moment believes them.
– A statement appearing in a newspaper with the circulation of the Bulletin leaves some impression.
– I dare say that I set a value upon the Bulletin a; fairly as does. Senator Findley. T do not disregard its circulation; but there are plenty of other newspapers, and to say that whenever a reflection is passed upon Parliament we should, as a body, immediately appoint a Select Committee or a Royal Commission to find out which member of
Parliament is referred to, or what certain persons or a certain individual may mean by making a charge, would be to reduce our proceedings to a level of folly which it is difficult to contemplate with calmness.
– No one objects to criticism, but when a charge of dishonesty is made against certain members of the Parliament surely that is different?
- Senator Findley must know that we’ cannot escape, not merely criticism, but vituperation. I stand before my honorable friend as a man who has had it poured over him, but I am none the worse in my own opinion, and I feel sure that honorable senators generally do not think less of me on that account.
– But the honorable senator would like to have an opportunity to hit back.
– I should like to be able to deal with a man who accuses me, but I should not like to go about saying : “ Hit me on the nose, and I will retaliate.” I enter my most emphatic protest against any such proceeding as is now proposed. I think it is frivolous and unnecessary. I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to say that the Government will not appoint a Royal Commission to sit in judgment upon this Parliament.
– - There ‘is One matter to which I should like to direct the attention of the Government. Some time ago the Senate passed a Bill for the protection of parliamentary witnesses. At. the present time any witness called before a Royal Commission or a Select Committee to give evidence, does so at his own risk. He is absolutely without any protection. I see by the business-paper that this Bill passed the Senate, and was sent to the House of Representatives on the 21st July, 1907, nearly twelve months “ago. It has been on the business-paper in another place since then, and has not yet been passed. My advice to witnesses who might be called before the proposed Committee, would be that they should not attend unless the Government say that they are willing to protect them by securing the passage of the Bill to which I have referred.
– The circumstances under which the Government introduced this’ motion for an inquiry in the first place have been more or less patent. I venture to say that on the statement which honorable members are aware appeared in a certain circular and in a certain newspaper, it would be impossible, as directed against private individuals, to found an action for libel.
– That may be so, but certain people may be prepared to go further, and prove what they. say.
– I have seen the circular and the statement which appeared in the newspaper, and with all humility, since lawyers may differ, I venture to offer the opinion that the accusation made in the circular orin the newspaper, if made against any individual in the terms these are made, they would afford very little hope for the founding of a successful action for libel.
– There is a general agreement upon that point.
– I agree with what has been said by honorable senators on this side. No matter how this question is dealt with, the proceedings must be more or less futile, and may very probably bring this Parliament more or less into contempt. Further than that, as Senator Pearce has already pointed out, the persons whom the proposed Committee bring before them to give information might, under our procedure, decline to say one word. As the honorable senator has also very properly suggested, they would be entitled to say, “ What protection can you give us if we answer these questions.” The answer to that must be, “None.” What hope of success can such a Committee as is proposed, or a Royal Commission, have to protect Parliament if it needs protection under the procedure which, in the circumstances, must be followed in this particular case?
– A Royal Commission has the powers of a Court.
– A Royal Commission has not yet the powers of a Court. Possibly if the Bill to which Senator Pearce has referrred were passed, we should have a means of obtaining information, and Parliament might be well advised as to the procedure which might be adopted to protect itself against slanders or libel. If in the opinion of the Government this Parliament has been slandered by an individual, or by a newspaper, it is their duty to take upon themselves the. whole responsibility of dealing with the matter effectively. If they felt that they were not armed with the necessary powers, it was their duty to ask Parliament for those powers. Of course, Par liament can look after itself. It possesses all the power necessary if it has the courage to exercise it. In this matter the Government appear to have assumed that Parliament has been slandered, and it is therefore their duty as the Executive of Parliament, to protect the Parliament, or to assist Parliament to protect itself against the slanderers. In the circumstances, it is their duty to come down with a direct motion to protect Parliament from the slanderers. If they had asked the assistance of Parliament in the matter, and showed sufficient grounds for their action, does any honorable senator think that any member of this Chamber, or of another place, would have refused his assistance? I say that the Government are shirking their responsibilities in this matter. If they feel that Parliament has been slandered they are neglecting their duty when they refuse to shoulder the responsibility of protecting Parliament against the slanderers. It is clear that the whole of the action which they have taken is intended to relieve them of their responsibility in a most important matter, and to throw that responsibility and the consequences on to the shoulders of a Committee or Commission of Inquiry. I venture to say that the Government are entirely shirking their responsibility to adopt a proper course of procedure in this matter.
– I refuse to believe that the honour of this Parliament requires that the course proposed to us to-day should be followed. Holding this view, without wasting further time in talk, I simply have to say that I intend to vote against the motion.
– I should like to have made clear one point that has arisen with regard to the powers of the proposed Committee in the matter of summoning witnesses and calling for papers which might require to be examined. I should like to know ‘ whether power for this purpose fs granted in the motion now before the Senate?
– No; the motion we passed the other day provided fully for that.
– The Committee can summon witnesses, but they cannot protect them when they are before them.
– If honorable senators are satisfied that the Committee have the powers to which I referred, I need not further refer to the matter.
– As honorable senators are well aware, the original idea of the Government in this matter was to inquire and report as to the best procedure for the trial and punishment of persons charged with interference with, or a breach of the powers and privileges of, either House of Parliament or of the members or Committees of either House. Honorable senators will also be aware of the views which I expressed very strongly on the matter. It was the machinery of procedure which we aimed at.
– Does not the honorable senator think that it was the duty of the Government, backed up by the advice of the Crown Law officers, to advise as to the proper procedure ?
– No. I think I explained to the satisfaction of the Senate that it was not. I wish now to say that so keenly was this matter felt in another place, against the members of which these charges seem to have been more especially levelled - though they might be said to reflect to some extent upon the Senate - that a majority of honorable members elsewhere demanded that there should be an extension of the inquiry relegated to the proposed Committee. The Government had a right to give consideration to the expressed wishes and desires of a majority of honorable members in another place. Senator Millen has said, and I indorse the statement, that a number of honorable senators expressed a similar wish.
– I was against that.
– I am aware of that, and, personally, I was opposed to it, but I am referring now to the views expressed by a number of honorable senators. The present motion has been submitted in obedisnee to a strong expression of feeling in another place, which has been substantially echoed in the Senate. For the reasons I have already mentioned, the Government felt it to be their duty to concede what was desired by so many members of this Parliament.
– This is like a motion that we should trail our coat to see who will step on it.
– However, the motion is before honorable senators in accordance with the motion passed in another place, and it is desired that theinquiry by the
Committee should be extended in the terms therein set out.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Appropriation Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– Any honorable senator will be in order in discussing this motion.
– I anticipated that the Minister would deliver his speech on the Bill at this stage.
– No, on the secondreading stage, in accordance with the practice.
– I think that this is the stage at which questions may be discussed not relevant to the Bill itself.
– Any honorable senator is entitled to address the Senate at this stage of the Bill, and his remarks need not be relevant to the question, but on the second-reading stage the discussion will have to be relevant to the Bill!
– I did not wish to speak at this stage, but wanted that point to be made clear to certain honorable sena-y tors, who, I understood, desired to bring forward several matters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It will be recollected that the Budget was delivered by the Treasurer on the 8th August, 1907, “and that his speech, together with full explanatory papers, has been circulated.
– It is as ancient history now.
– As a rule, an Appropriation Bill is.
– An Appropriation Bill, embodying the Estimates ought not to be, so far as the Senate is concerned.
– From time to time, the Estimates of Expenditure have been discussed very fully in the Senate. During the financial year we have had no less than five Supply Bills, covering a period of ten months, and appropriating ,£3,813,439.
– Is the Minister proud of that ? ‘
– There is nothing to be ashamed of, if that is What my honorable friend means. A Supply Bill was submitted in July, and also in August; two Supply Bills were submitted in November ; and the fifth Supply Bill was submitted last month. On those various occasions the finances and the Estimates were discussed fully. It will also be remembered that £685,824 was appropriated by the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Act passed in October last, when the finances were fully reviewed, in the light cf my statement of the financial position up to that period. Again, when the Customs Tariff Bill and the Excise Tariff Bill were presented, the finances were fully discussed. It must be borne in mind that, apart from the sums which are provided for in Appropriation Bills, there are special appropriations for such purposes as the payment of a bounty upon the production of sugar, payment of members of Parliament, and other purposes which are clearly set forth in various Acts of Parliament. I propose to give honorable senators, as concisely as I can, a bird’s-eye view of our present financial position. When the Treasurer delivered his Budget in August last, he anticipated that he would receive from Customs and Excise duties £10^509,000; from the Post and Telegraph Department £3,190,000, and from miscellaneous sources £46,200, making a. total revenue of £13,745,200. He estimated that the expenditure, as outlined in the EstimatesinChief, would amount to £5,967,992, leaving a- balance of £7,777,208. This surplus, as honorable senators are aware, is divisible amongst the States ; that is to say, they receive three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, plus the unexpended portion of the Commonwealth’s fourth share. The three.fourths’ share to which, of course, the States are entitled, is estimated at £7,673,216, and the Treasurer anticipated that the Commonwealth would be able to return to the States out of its fourth share £103,992.
– Are not the States entitled to the whole of the surplus?
– I said so.
– No; the honorable senator said that the Commonwealth is entitled to one-fourth share of the Cus- toms and Excise revenue.
– It is entitled to expend every shilling of that share, namely, £2,557,739, and if it does not see fit to expend the whole amount, then of course the balance is divisible amongst the States.
– It belongs to the States.
– The Constitution speaks for itself, and the position is as I have stated.
– So that, to take away that surplus for a trust fund would be proper?
– I contend that we have a right to appropriate the money, and that it would not be improper to appropriate it if we thought it necessary to do so. Having reminded honorable senators of the financial position when the Budget was delivered in August last, I shall proceed, very briefly, to state what has since taken place. As they are aware, the income from Customs and Excise duties has largely exceeded our expectations, but there is no reason to think that the increase will’ continue in the same proportion. For the nine months ending 31st March,, we received from Customs and Excise duties £9,063,694. In the corresponding period of the previous financial year, the total sum collected from those sources was only. ,£7,297,991. So that the figures for the current year show an increase of £1,765,703 for the first nine months. The revenue from the Post and Telegraph Department has also been buoyant, though it is not likely to exceed the Treasurer’s estimate of .£3,190,000, which he made in August last, but in which he allowed for a loss of £117,000 from the establishment of penny postage throughout the Commonwealth. His estimate of the revenue from the Department was really .£3,307,006, as against a revenue of £3,129,074 for the previous year, showing an increase of £177,926. So far as the Post and Telegraph Department is concerned, for the nine months ending 31st March, 1908, we received £^2,475,622. In the corresponding period of the previous year we received £2,355,610 ; representing an actual increase for the nine months of £120,012. When the Treasurer delivered his Budget Speech it was estimated that the States would receive a total sum of £7,779,290. Already in nine months the Commonwealth has paid to the States £7,505,448. New South Wales in 1906-7 received £3,022,351. For the nine months of the present year New South Wales has received £3,007,275. Victoria received in 1906-7, ,£2, 192,340. She has received during nine months of the present year £2,122,437. Queensland in 1906-7 received £942,569. During nine months’ of the present year, she has received £854,556. South Australia received in 1906-7, £645,121. She has received during nine months of the present year. £668,106. So that South Australia is in the happy position of receiving during nine months of the present year substantially more than she received for the whole twelve months of 1906-7. Western Australia received in 1906-7, .£780,166. During nine months of the present year she has received .£609,162. Tasmania received in 1906-7, £262,293. During nine months of the present financial year she has received £243,912. So that the totals are :–amount paid during 1906-7, £7,844, 840; amount paid during nine months of the present financial year, £7>5°5>448. It has been found that the Estimates-in-Chief are short of the departmental requirements. Consequently, there have been introduced and laid upon the table to-day Additional Estimates.
– Could the honorable senator tell us how much miscellaneous revenue has been received during the nine months of the present financial year?
– I do not happen to have particulars of the miscellaneous revenue at hand. It was £54,530 during
– What is meant by “ Miscellaneous “ revenue?
– It includes a variety of payments. The Additional Estimates provide for a sum of £571,028.
– Are there not two lots of Supplementary Estimates?
– There are, but first of. all I will deal with the Additional Estimates, representing an amount of £571,028. That represents the Additional Estimates to be appropriated up to. the 30th of June, 1908. There have also been circulated Additional Estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1906, and for the year ending at the same date, 1907 ; but those are only of a formal character. . They simply represent the appropriation of the Treasurer’s Advance. The moneys have already been paid, and the payments have been authorized by Supply Bills, and by. the AppropriationAct. These Estimates, ‘therefore, are of a. formal character, and the Appropriation Bills based upon them validate the payments made out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– Why were they not presented in due course?
– These things are usually left over for a year or two. That is not an unusual experience at all. As regards the’ present Additional Estimates, they represent, as regards ordinary departmental payments, a sum of £159,746, and’ additional new works and buildings are provided for to the extent of ,£411,282. I. think that it is fair to mention to the Senate a sum of £134,050, which will be found at the end of the Estimates-in-Chief. Honorable senators will pr*obable remember that provision was made for harbor and coastal defence to the extent of .£250,000, and also for a cordite factory £10,000 - representing in all £260,000. Later onin the same Estimates we find that it is proposed to deduct an amount, which it is anticipated will not be spent during the year, of .£125,950.
– Dealing with’ the Estimates for purposes which the Minister mentioned just now, do not the votes ex– pire on the 30th of June if the money is. not expended?
– I want first of all to make clear the matter to which I have referred, the difference between the sums which I have named. The £134,050 is also included in the Additional Estimates. So that either that amount in the EstimatesinChief will lapse, or it will lapse so far as the Additional Estimates are concerned.
– As there is no possibility of spending the money between now and the 30th of June, it appearsto ma that it will lapse anyhow.
– That remains to be seen. The Additional Estimates involve an expenditure of £57 1,028, as I have already explained. But the actual amount is really less than that to the extent of £134,050, because that amount is already provided for on the Estimates-in-Chief. We are, therefore, proposing actually to expend . £436,978 more thanit was originally intended to spend.
– I am not quite clear as to why the sums appearin two Estimates.
– I will explain the matter again. On the original Estimates there appeared two items, one for Coastal and Harbor Defence £250,000, and another for a cordite factory £10,000 - total £260,000. In the same Estimates it is assumed that there would probably not be expended a sum of £125,950. Deduct the £125,950 from the £260,000, and the result is £134,050. In the Additional Estimates those two sums, £250,000 and £10,000, have been again inserted without the deduction of £125,950. Therefore I say that, whilst we are ostensibly providing for an additional expenditure of £571,028, the real additional amount will be less by £134,050. We cannot disturb the old figures, because that would be a serious matter, they being the basis on which the Estimates were prepared. Consequently, I am drawing especial attention to the fact that, instead of our actually proposing to spend £571,028, we shall really expend on account of these Additional Estimates £436,978. That is to say, that is the amount which we shall spend more than was originally provided for on the EstimatesinChief.
– Is this what has- happened : that an amount of the original
Estimates has been reduced, and that reduction carried on to the Supplementary Estimates ?
– That is actually what will happen.
– But we are surely not going to pass the same amount twice?
– Either one amount or the other will lapse.
– Funny bookkeeping !
– We are asked to vote the money twice all the same.
– The Senate will be asked to vote it only once. If the sum of £436,978, which it is proposed to spend under these Additional Estimates, be added to the total amount of expenditure under’ the Estimates-in-Chief, it will be found that the total proposed expenditure for 1907-8 is £6,404,970 ; against an expenditure in 1906-7 of £4,987,301, or apparently, at all events, an increase for the year of £1,417,669.
– The Minister said “ apparently.”
– For reasons which I will explain.
– Is the Minister going to give us solid figures now?
– I have been doing nothing but giving solid figures. I do not understand the honorable senator.
– The Minister told us that some of it did not matter.
– Because there are always savings on the year. On the figures which appear in the Estimates, there is an increase of £1,417,669, but it is safe to say that the actual increase will not exceed £1,300,000.
– The other £117,000 will have to be re-voted next year. If we pass £1,417,000 for works in excess of the previous year-
– Some, but not all, of that would be for works.
– Is not the lapsed vote for works?
– It will be from various sources.
– If we save it this year we shall have to re-vote it next year.
– So that it is not a saving.
– It represents “ savings on the year.” That is the recognised term. It is only fair that honorable senators should be placed in possession of all the particulars, so that they may know the exact condition of the finances. The increase that I have referred to is accounted for in the following way : New special defence provision, £342,000 ; Defence increases on new works, not included in previous item, £1,013 ; Post Office, new works, increase, £248,916 ; Customs, new works, increase, £10,553; Trawler, £14,485 ; new works, not included in previous items, increase, £7,358; Defence, or. dinary expenditure, increase, £115,436; Post Office, ordinary expenditure, increase, £278,796 - adding to that sum the increase of £248,916 for new works in the Post Office, gives a total increase in that Department of £527,712 - Customs Department, ordinary expenditure, increase, £33,633 ; Sugar Bounty, increase, £244,487 ; Governor-General, Buildings, &c, increase, £1,778; External Affairs, increase, £24,774; Attorney-General’s Department, increase, £5,653 ; Home Affairs Department, increase £31,046 ; Treasury, increase, £6,155; Quarantine, £8,500 ; Repayment, money order advance, and interest, £30,018 ; Bounties, £25,000 ; Railway Survey, £15,000; total, £1,444,601. Only a small proportion of the £25,000 for bounties will be expended before the 30th June. That is one of what I call the savings on the year.
– Can there be any of it spent under the regulations?
– There may be, but I should say very little. Still, the amount appears in the year’s Estimates. Only a comparatively small portion of the £15,000 for the railway survey will be expended. From the total increase of £1,444,601 there have to be deducted certain nonrecurring items shown in the previous year, such as £25,129 for election expenses, and £1,515 for repatriation of Pacific Islanders, also a decrease in refund of fines £288 - total, £26,932 - leaving a balance of increase of £1,417,669; but there will be savings, such as on the bounties vote.
– Expenditure held over, not savings.
– The recognised term-
– And misleading term.
– The recognised and well-known parliamentary term is “ savings on the year.” The increase for the year may be roughly and fairly statedat £1,300,000. A considerable proportion of that will be represented by valuable assets in our new buildings. Another substantial proportion represents the White Australia policy of the Commonwealth, for there is a large increase in the sugar bounty. There is, however, to some extent, a corresponding increase in revenue from the same source, because where formerly the bounty was £2 and the Excise £3 per ton, the bounty is now £3 and the Excise £4. A large proportion of the increase represents Post Office expenditure, which has been agreed to after careful and full inquiry, and is justified by the general expansion of the Department and its increased revenueproducing power.
– Do the figures which the honorable senator is about to put before us represent the compromise between his colleague, Sir William Lyne, and his other colleague, Mr. Mauger?
– The figures speak for themselves. Those which I am about to give represent the Estimates-in-Chief and the Additional Estimates, and will give honorable senators the true position of Post Office finance. The appropriation provided for the year 1907-8 is : - Salaries, contingencies, &c, £2,865,109; plus new works, including telegraphs and telephones, and’ Department of Home Affairs, £434,078, making a total provided for on the Estimates-in-Chief of £3,299,187. To that must be added the amounts provided on the Additional Estimates as follows: - Salaries, £14,956 for 905 officers - that sum represents the salaries of those officers for something like one-third or one-quarter of the year - contingencies, £92,764; fittings and furniture, £975 ; new works, telegraphs and telephones, £63,410; and new works undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs, £27,211 ; making a total provided on the Additional Estimates of £199,316. The total requirements for the Post Office for the year are, therefore, £3,498,503. The estimated revenue for the year is £3,297,412, showing an excess of estimated expenditure over revenue of £201,091.
– If the works were built out of loans the figures could be made to balance.
– Without, any difficultv. I propose to give honorable senators a substantial illustration of that.
– If the Government paid interest on the value of the transferred properties, would there be a credit balance?
– We should still have a substantial surplus.
– Especially if the Government practised sweating and had no minimum wage.
– Yes. The statement has been made, and is no doubt correct, that the expenditure of the Department has increased by something like £1,000,000 since 1901-2. But it should also be borne in mind that the revenue has increased in like proportion. The increase in revenue in the year 1906-7 over the year 1901-2 was £756,213, and the estimated increase in 1907-8’ over the previous year is £168,338, representing a total increase of £924>5SI over the revenue of 1901-2. It is also pertinent to point out that the expenditure on account of new works amounted in the period from 1901-2 to 1906-7 inclusive, to £914,844. Adding the amount provided for 1907-8, plus the sums asked for on the Additional Estimates, a total of £524,699, gives a grand total of £1,439,543 for new works and additions which has been or will be charged to revenue.
– And which will earn interest instead of having to pay interest.
– Exactly. But this very wholesome practice of ours of paying for works put of revenue is opposed to the usual practice in the conduct of Post Offices. In the London Post Office they calculate that new works have a life of, say, twenty or thirty vears, and their practice is to spread the cost over two-thirds of that period. Therefore, that sum of £1,439,543 would, according to the London . practice, be spread over a period of fifteen, sixteen, or “seventeen years.
– According to the State practice, it would be spread over 100 years or more.
– No doubt it would be spread over a very long period if charged to loans. Let me illustrate the desirability of dealing with this matter on the basis of the practice adopted in London, showing what each year should bear. If the financial year 1907-8 were charged with a proportion, say, one-tenth- and honorable senators will admit that that is a fairly large proportion to charge against each year- in respect of new works estimated expenditure, the position would he as follows:. - Estimates-in-Chief for 1907-8, salaries, contingencies, &c, £2,865,109, Additional Estimates, £108,695. The ex’penditure ora new works proposed for 1907-8 is £434,078 under the EstimatesinChief, and £90,621 under the Additional Estimates, or a total of £524,699. One-tenth of that amount would represent the amount that would be charged to the year, namely, £52,470, making “the total expenditure chargeable to 1907-8 £3,026,274.
– That advantage would disappear in the course of time.
– Then’ we come to the estimated revenue, which is £3,297,412, and, therefore, according to the example I am now giving, an excess of revenue for the year of £271,138 is shown. This excess of revenue would practically allow for the payment of 3 per cent, interest on £6.000,000, the- valuation of the transferred properties, which I believe is a fair valuation, and would leave a balance of £92,113 to be brought forward.
– That is a very satisfactory statement.
– Is the valuation of the transferred properties which the honorable sena’tor has given official?
– Yes, and I think it is fairly accurate.
– I am glad to hear it. I thought it was more like £10,000,000.
– I wish to put before honorable senators a few additional figures which, in my opinion, are full of interest. I have here a Statement showing the percentage of increase in revenue for each financial year from 1901-2 to 1906-7. In 1902-3 the increase of revenue over the previous year was £31,869, representing a percentage of increase of 1.34.
– In these figures the honorable senator is dealing only with the Post and Telegraph Department.
– Yes. In 1903-4 the increase over the previous year was £105,473, representing a percentage of increase of 4.39- Of course, I could give honorable senators the actual figures, but I think that - all that ‘they require are the figures giving the percentages of increase. In 1904-5 the increase in revenue over the previous year was £[122,348, representing a percentage of increase of 4.87. In 1905- 6 the increase was £191,797, a percentage of increase of 7.29, .and them in 1906- 7 the increase over the previous year was £3°4j726, representing a percentage of increase of 10.79.’
– It is increasing very satisfactorily.
– Honorable senators will see from these figures that in every year, without exception, there has been a gradual but certain increase upon the revenue for the previous year.
– With extended facilities.
– Of course, I shall have something ,to say so far as that is concerned. Then I have another statement showing the percentage of increase in expenditure in each financial year from 1901-2 to 1906-7.. The increase in the expenditure in 1902-3 over the previous . year was £101,052, representing a percentage of increase of 4.09. In 1903-4, the increase was £128,608, representing a percentage of increase of 5.01. In 1904-5 the increase over the previous year was £2,212, a percentage of 0.08. In 1905-6 the increase in expenditure over the previous year was £84,998, a percentage of increase of 3.15, and in 1906-7 the increase was £181,109, representing a percentage . of increase of 6.50. So that the” position is that the increase in revenue for 1906-7 over that for 1901-2 represents a percentage of increase of 31.86, whereas the increase of expenditure in 1906-7, as compared with that in 1901-2, represents a percentage of only 20.17. These figures, which have been supplied to me by the Department, and are, of course, capable of verification, speak eloquently of the expansion of this great business concern since it was transferred from the management of the States to that of the Commonwealth.
– It is a better record than any State Railway Department can show.
– The increase in the appropriation for 1907-8 over that for 1906-7, so far as officers and salaries are concerned, is as follows : - The original Estimates provide for an increase in the number of officers by 669, and of salaries to the extent of £38,100. The Additional Estimates provide for 905 officers more, whose salaries for the proportion of the year would be £14,956. I have already pointed out to honorable senators that, roughly, it is estimated that the salaries of these 905 officers for the year would amount to something like £70,000. The .total increase in the number of officers for the year is 1,574, and the expenditure involved in their employment £53,°S6-
– Has the honorable senator, figures showing, the increase in revenue in each State?
– I have not thought it necessary to worry honorable senators with details. I thought that they would prefer the gross figures showing the percentages qf increase in revenue and expenditure.
– Has the honorable senator any figures distinguishing between the revenue from telephones and from other postal services?
– No ; it would be quite impossible to give such figures at this stage. In order to save time, I shall cause to be circulated certain papers in connexion with the Post and Telegraph- Department which are worthy of the attention of honorable senators. .One of these papers sets out the additional facilities granted to the public by the Department since Federation, and it is eloquent of the advance which has been made. It starts by a reference to the very substantial concession in the reduction of the charge made upon telegrams.
– Does it mention any curtailments of public conveniences ?
– No ; there has been nothing but extensions granted to the public.
– There have been some curtailments of public conveniences.
– There may be some trumpery little matter in connexion with which persons may be under some misconception and believe that there has been a curtailment of public convenience, but, speaking generally, the record has been one of consistent expansion as disclosed by the figures which I have already quoted.
– Where has there been any reduction in the telegraphic rates ?
– In every State.
-From what rate to what other rate ?
– In Western Australia it used to cost 3s. to send a telegram from Western Australia to Queensland which can now be sent for is.
– The additional facilities are set out in details in the paper to which I refer.
– There has been no reduction in the cost of telegrams to New South Wales.
– New South Wales is not the Commonwealth.
– Let us look at what has occurred in New South Wales for a moment. I find that when this Department was under State control, though the address and signature were free, the charge for suburban telegrams in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania was 6d. for the first ten words, and for each additional word1d. Now a telegram can be sent throughout Australia at the rate of sixteen words for1s.
– Before Federation the charge everywhere in Queensland was1s. for ten words outside a certain radius.
– I am circulating the statement of the additional facilities granted to the public since Federation, and it will be found that it categorically sets out what has been done.
– But the honorable senator said that it sets out a concession in the reduction of the price of telegrams when there has been no such concession in New South Wales.
– Yes, there has. Does the honorable senator require to use six words for the address of a telegram ?
– For the address and signature, yes.
– I do not think that it would be wise for us in this connexion to discuss the benefits conferred upon individual States. We should rather take the Commonwealth as a whole because, so far as the Post, and Telegraph Department is concerned, we are dealing with the revenue as a whole.
-Persons in New South Wales sending telegrams outside that State had before Federation to pay 2s. or 3s. for ten words, and they can now send a message of sixteen words for1s.
– I objected to the VicePresident of the Executive Council saying that there was a concession to New South Wales.
– I did not say so. I said that it was after concessions had been made to the citizens of the Commonwealth, who must all be treated alike, that the substantial increase of revenue to which I have referred has taken place, and, of course, additional requirements to meet the expansion of the Department are necessary. A second paper to which I desire to direct the attention of honorable senators has also been printed, and will be circulated. It refers to the benefits to officers since federation, and they will also be found to be very substantial.
– They do not seem to appreciate them.’
– I can hardly expect Senator St. Ledger to appreciate them.
– What are all their complaints about?
– Perhaps it would be only fair that at this juncture I should state in regard to the Post and Telegraph, Department what has been done, and what is contemplated by the sub-Committee appointed by the Cabinet in order that honorable senators may be given an outline of the scope oftheir inquiry into the working of the Department. I have this information on the subject to submit to the Senate. It is proposed that the Committee shall inquire into -
Inquiries are being made of ex-officers of the Department who have occupied responsible positions. Suggestions by representative public men upon matters withinthe scope of the inquiry will receive consideration.
Reports are being obtained from the DeputyPostmastersGeneral in each State.
Complaints made by members of the Federal Parliament during the last 12 months will be investigated and classified.
The abnormal growth of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic business in New South Wales during the last twelve months will demand a thorough investigation by the Committee in that State as to the best methods to provide for its being efficiently met, and, where circumstances warrant, other States will be visited
The Deputy Postmasters-General have been instructed to classify the complaints made in Parliament, and those which have been categorically stated in the press during the last 12 months, for investigation by the Committee.
Under each heading, details into which inquiry is considered necessary are being arranged.
That is just a categorical statement of the scope of the proposed inquiry.
– Can the honorable senator give us any idea as to how the SydneyMelbourne telephone line is paying?
– No, but I shall endeavour to give my honorable friend the information when we are considering the Estimates in Committee.
– - I tried to use that line last week, but could not.
– In conclusion, I desire to make a statement regarding our obligations under the Braddon section. In the early portion of my remarks I stated that according ;to the Budget estimate there would be paid to the States this year out of our one-fourth share of the Customs and Excise revenue £103,992. But that estimate has to be revised in the light of the Additional Estimates, and the increased revenue. In the first place, we must add an amount for the Post and Telegraph Department. As the’ Penny Postage Bill has not been passed its revenue will not suffer the estimated loss of the £117,000, so that the probable excess above the estimate will be about £107,000. The estimated revenue was £3,190,000, and to that sum has to be added £n7>°°o on account of the non-introduction of penny postage, making a total of £3,307,000. But we estimate to receive only £3,297,000, that is to say, £[107,000 more than the Budget estimate. It will be recognised that the Treasurer made a very close estimate when he deducted £117,000 as the cost for half a year of penny postage. Our one-fourth share of the additional Customs and Excise revenue may be set down roughly at £250,000, which, with the £103,992 and the £107,000, makes a total of £460,992. We must, however, deduct a further increase of expenditure under special appropriations, viz., for increased pay to members of Parliament £17,000, and for sugar bounty £15,000, .totalling £[32,000. The total amount which we have in hand available for expenditure is, therefore, £428,992.
– - The Government have not that money in hand. They have paid over the balance to the States at the end of each month.
– My honorable friend must know that while that may be the law it is impossible and impracticable.
– - The Government do not want a Surplus Revenue Bill ‘ if they are holding back money from the States.
– - Surely my honorable friend must know that we are obliged to make provision for our obligations, and that tens of thousands of pounds are set aside for that purpose. That is the spirit of the Constitution, and that is what every Treasurer must do, otherwise he would rapidly come to grief.
– Does not the Minister mean that by the end of this current year the Treasurer estimates that the Commonwealth will have handed back to the States £[400,000 more than the law requires ?
– I mentioned most definitely what had been handed over during the first nine months of the year.
– How much in excess of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue?
– I gave the figures. During the nine months we have paid to the States £[7,505>448.
– How much more than the three-fourths share is that?
– I went so far as to contrast that amount with the amount paid in 1906-7.
– But the honorable gentleman did not say by how much that exceeds the three-fourths share.
– I can only deal with the original Estimates and state what has taken place. When the Treasurer delivered his Budget it was estimated that the States would receive from the Commonwealth £7j779<29°- That represents the threefourths share of the Customs and Excise revenue, plus £103,992. I went into details.
– The question I have asked has not been answered, even on the Minister’s own showing.
– I mentioned that the original Estimate was £7,779,290, and that in the course of nine months we had paid to the States £[7*505,448.
– Yes, but the honorable senator did not say how much the payment is in excess of the three-fourths share.
– It is £[708,000 in excess.
– It is a matter of calculation. In this sum of £7,779,290 was included £103,992, which represented a portion of our one-fourth share. The total available amount for expenditure is, I repeat, £428,992. Against that, the Additional Estimates, after the deduction of £134,050 included in both the EstimatesinChief and Additional Estimates, provide for £436,978. There is apparently a shortage of about £8,000, but as honorable senators know, there will be savings which will keep the expenditure well within the revenue. I have endeavoured to give as shortly and concisely as possible not only the figures relating to the Budget, but alsf the figures regarding revenue and expenditure since its delivery. I have also directed some attention to what is contemplated in regard to the Post and Telegraph Department. Although there may be room for complaint in regard to that Department - and I know that there is - yet the figures indicate very clearly that it has progressed from the time it was taken over. Necessarily in the bringing together of six vast ‘concerns and organizing them under Federal authority there has been room for complaints. All that remains to be done is to see that the Department is placed on a better footing so far as its organization is concerned, and that less opportunity for complaint is given to the general public. I hope that on the whole the financial position of the Commonwealth will be found to be eminently satisfactory to honorable senators.
– I am sure that no one who has listened to the interesting array of figures which the Minister has submitted would, imagine that it was possible to follow him through them in any detail. Owing to the fact that my time has been fully occupied in dealing with the Tariff, it has been quite impossible for me - and I believe for other honorable senators - to give to Federal finance that close attention which would qualify me on the spur of the moment to enter into a criticism of the Minister’s statement. It must be regretted that since its establishment there has been a tendency on the part of the Senate to regard its responsibility in relation to the finances in rather a perfunctory manner. That commenced very early in the days of Federation, and I regret to say that the tendency seems to have broadened out until it has almost become accepted as an accomplished fact. I am not extremely hopeful as to an early amendment of this practice. So pronounced has it become that the Senate is invariably asked to vote the great bulk of the money expended in the year before the Estimates-in-Chief are submitted.
– Not at all. From the beginning we have had the Estimates before us.
– It is not half an hour since the Minister reminded the Senate that it had already authorized the expenditure of ten -twelfths of the items which are covered by this Appropriation Bill.
– Exactly, and with each Supply Bill we had the Estimates.
– We did not have the Estimates of Expenditure placed before us. We were merely provided with a printed document embodying estimates of expenditure which had yet to be revised by the other House, and sent to us in the form of an Appropriation Bill. We are told that we need not examine monthly Supply Bills too critically, that we can pass them rather as a matter of form, because they represent ordinary expenditure for a month or two, which will come before the Senate when the Estimates proper are brought under review. But when the Appropriation Bill is submitted, we .find ourselves practically unable to give to the items that close consideration and analysis which they are entitled to receive. We are greeted with the comforting assurance that we need not examine the Bill critically because we have already sanctioned the expenditure of tentwelfths of the amount.
– It does not matter a button if we do.
– I should not like to think that. I can still find room for some slight hope that circumstances arising out of a recent measure may pave the way for the adoption of a better system, if desired. I refer to the Bill which altered the date for holding the periodical elections. Whilst at first sight that may not appear to have any great effect upon our method of dealing with financial questions, still I think it is possible that it will. Owing to circumstances which to some extent were not within our control, we drifted into a state of affairs when there was no > regular period for the meeting of Parliament - no set time when we might expect to get an opportunity to discuss the Estimates of expenditure, and no recognised date at which it might hope to conclude its deliberations. But if Parliament is called together, as it will be after the next general election, some time before the expiration of the current financial year, it will be possible for the Government, if they take advantage of the opportunity, to bring down their Estimates early in the session so that Parliament can have them under review almost from the beginning of the new financial year. It can then give the consideration to them that they require, and leave the Appropriation Bill ‘to be considered n+ the close of the session. I am hopeful that, when the new Parliament does meet, towards the end of one financial year, an effort will be made to get into a “ regular stride,” if I may so express it; that we shall have a ‘ regular period at which Parliament will meet - regular, that is, within a few weeks; and that it will be an accepted practice for Governments to introduce Estimates a’t’ the earliest possible date after the assembling of Parliament. If that is done, we shall adopt a practice which is perhaps observed more than any other practice that I know of in the British House of Commons - a practice which enables those who are disposed to pay more or less particular attention to the financial proposals of the Government the fullest opportunity of examining them. Turning to the remarks of the. Vice-President of the Executive Council, I. regret very much the limitations put upon us in dealing with his speech. He has obtained the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable this Bill to be carried through all its stages in -one sitting. The suspension was granted with the unanimous approval of the Senate. Therefore, it would be idle to do more than point out the great disabilities which are imposed upon any honorable senator who desires to discuss the speech of the VicePresident of the Executive Council as it should be discussed.
– We have debated the Estimates on five occasions already.
– I do not think that there has been a definite debate on the financial position of the Commonwealth in the Senate this year. Honorable senators have taken various details of Supply Bills that have come before us, but I have never listened to anything approaching a i financial debate - such a debate as might reasonably have resulted from the speech just delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. That being so, it would be folly on my part to attempt anything like a criticism of the figures to which I have just listened. For that reason I do not ‘ propose to make even a pretence of looking into the financial, affairs of the Commonwealth. There are, however, one or two matters to which I should like to refer. First of all, I have to say something with regard to the Post and Telegraph Department. I am not going to deal with many of the complaints which have been made, and made in spite of the extraordinary benefits which the Department is supposed to have conferred upon every man, woman, and child in Australia. It is, by ‘the way. rather remarkable that when we hear of all these added benefits and of reduced expenditure, nevertheless, from one end of Australia to the other, there is nothing but one loud wail of complaint - and, I think, with ample justification. However, what I wish particularly to refer to in this connexion is the difficulty which the ordinary man has in understanding tha. figures relative to the Post and Telegraph Department. I have previously referred to this subject, and have indicated a more businesslike method of presenting accounts, and one which would make abundantly clear the figures relating ko the’ revenue and expenditure connected with the various branches of the Department. It seems to me to be a reflection upon the management of this great Department that we are not able to tell how the telephone branch stands as compared with the telegraph branch. No business firm would so “ box up “ its accounts as to be unable to know the revenue-earning capacity and the expenditure of each one of its various branches;. In the Railway Department of New South Wales, for instance, it would evoke a smile, or something less pleasant, if it were suggested that the railway authorities could not tell how much the trams earned and how much it costs to run them. I see no great difficulty in regard to the telephone branch ; and it has become a matter of increasing interest to know whether the telephone branch is paying its way, and to what extent, and ‘ to be able to differentiate the figures of that branch from those of the telegraph branch, for, the reason that, as most of us are aware, the use of the telephone is spreading more rapidly than is the use of the telegraph. The telephone is coming into all our homes; and it appears to me that’ both in the interests of sound administration, and in the public interest generally, the Department ought to make an effort to ascertain the .exact financial position which the telephone branch occupies. Whilst the Vice-President of the Executive Council said a little while ago that it was not possible to obtain these figures, I’ would remind him that his colleague, Mr. Austin Chapman, when he was at the head of the Post and . Telegraph Department, practically gave a promise that a return would be prepared showing what proportion the telephone receipts and expenditure bore to the total receipts and expenditure of the Department.’ Another matter to which I wish to allude has regard to the capital invested. No balancesheet issued by a private firm or by a public concern can be considered satisfactory which does not set forth accurately what liabilities it has, and what the assets are.
The Post and Telegraph Department never attempts to do that. All that it attempts to put forward is a statement of its receipts and expenditure - a most incomplete balance-sheet, which would satisfy no business man. While I do not say that the Post and Telegraph Department must be regarded solely as a business institution, I see no reason why its accounts should not be presented in a business-like way, so that Parliament, which has to deal with them, and the public, which is keenly interested in them, may know exactly how this big revenue earning concern of ours stands. I have heard the matter referred to frequently, but have never seen that any particular steps have been taken towards the realization of the goal to which I point. I do trust that the Cabinet Committee, though not, perhaps, specially deputed to inquire into thisparticular matter, will make some recommendation, not only with regard ‘to amplifying, but also to simplifying the accounts of the Department, so that members of Parliament and the general public may be able to understand clearly what the Department is doing, what it is earning, and what it costs. One set of figures to which the Minister has referred I fail to understand. He referred to a sum of £400,000, which he said the Commonwealth held . in excess of the amount paid over to the States. I understand that the Commonwealth Constitution forbids that kind of thing, and that amounts which the Commonwealth Parliament has not appropriated must be paid over to the States at the end of every month.
– We are appropriating it by this very Bill.
– I am not speaking of the amount appropriated by this Bill. I am aware that once a certain appropriation is made, it is not necessary absolutely to expend it, but once it is appropriated, it is withdrawn from the amount returned to the States. The Minister, however,as I interpreted him, referred to the fact that the Government was providing against this obligation by putting apart a sum of £400,000 for contingencies. If that is so-, it appears to me that the Government is anticipating the Surplus Revenue Bill. If I understood the Minister aright, it appears to me also that the Government is acting in contravention of the Constitution, which apparently lays it down that any surplus- not required by the Commonwealth for its own purposes, and not appropriated within the month, or at the end of the month must be paid over to. the States. If that obligation had been carried out there could have been no £400,000 for the Government to hold for contingencies, to meet liabilities which may or may not occur.
– By the Additional Estimates laid upon the table we are appropriating the £400,000, and this £250,000 for harbor and coastal defence forms part and parcel of that.
– That does not clear up the point. Is the money which is being appropriated money which has been held back during the. past nine months, or is it money which the Government expect to receive during the next three months? If it is money held back, I say that it is distinctly held back in violation of the Constitution.
– Not at all.
– There is no other way in which the Government could hold it back.
– It would be impossible for the Government to do so in violation of the Constitution.
– The Auditor-General would surely step in if the Government were doing anything contrary to the Constitution ?
– He probably would, but the Auditor-General’s report is not before us yet. The fact that the Minister does not give a simple answer to my question lends colour to my idea. I say that if this is not merely a sum which we have yet to receive, but is money which the Government have received and have held back out of the monthly division, they have acted improperly and contrary to the Constitution.
– Are the books balanced monthly or not?
– That is the point.
– Until Parliament otherwise provides they must be.
– The Minister said distinctly that the Government contend that that is not so, and, therefore, I am wondering whether there is some way known to the Treasury officials which would enable the Government to do indirectly what they propose to do openly by means of the Surplus Revenue Bill.
– We should hear of it from the Auditor-General if they had done that.
– We should hear of it from the Auditor-General in time, no doubt. Another matter to which I wish to refer is not one that may affect matters in the Senate just now, but which is,- nevertheless, very important. I am speaking of the approaching re-adjustment between the States and the Commonwealth of their financial relations. It is extremely difficult to deal with any figures in considering that re-adjustment, because of the fact that we are now in a period of transition, a period of abnormal figures, and of increased revenue. I am not saying how far that increase, is due to the wholly abnormal yield of revenue generally, and how far it is due to operations under the new Tariff arising out of proposals for higher duties. Every scheme’ that has been put forward for the solution and adjustment of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States has embodied the central idea that there, should be paid to the States by the Commonwealth an annual sum of money - paid either directly as a contribution from the central body to the various States, or indirectly by the Commonwealth relieving the States of obligations with regard to their public debts. The Constitution, I should like to point out, provides for the payment to the States of three-fourths of the Commonwealth revenue under the section known as the Braddon section. Now, the Commonwealth has paid, in addition to that, a sum of money amounting, up to the end of the last financial year, to~£5,728,ii4. This year, I gather from the figures given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, something like £700,000 has been paid to the States in excess of the three-fourths. But it is rather a curious fact that, instead of the States’ expressing satisfaction at the receipt of this excess amount, they are. practically making it the basis of their claim for future payments.. I should be the very last to say that the Commonwealth is not under a very serious obligation to pay to the States as much as possible over the three-fourths which is guaranteed to them. As their Customs and Excise revenue has been taken away from them, we have to return, to the States, in some way or other, some fairly substantial contribution. But what I want to point out is that we have to be just to the Commonwealth before we can afford to be generous to the States. Tt seems to me that the States Premiers rather tend to overlook the fact that in the early days of Federation, before the Commonwealth had attempted to assume all its responsibilities, its expenditure was necessarily small, and, consequently, it was enabled to return more to the States. But, as day by day the Com- monwealth takes up more of its constitutional responsibilities, its expenditure must grow. Consequently, the States must receive a smaller proportion of the revenue than they have received in the past. The States Treasurers -and- Premiers naturally keep an eye on their own affairs, but they seem to me to overlook the very serious obligations and responsibilities which must devolve upon the Commonwealth.
– That applies to New South Wales and Victoria, but not so much to the smaller States.
– I did not wish to mention any States, but I have no hesitation in saying that the representatives of my own State have been foremost in pushing that view forward. lt is a serious problem which is opened up. When I see that we have, within the limits of our constitutional powers, such things as old-age pensions to provide for, that we have defence to make effective and complete, that we are within measurable distance of the time when we have to take over the Northern Territory, that these are all obligations clearly within our constitutional rights, and in respect of which there is a well-voiced public demand that we should attend to them, it appears to me that we might reasonably ask the States to recognise that in proportion as we discharge ‘ those and kindred obligations, to that extent the expenditure of the Commonwealth must undoubtedly increase. As our demands increase, not because of any extravagance but merely by the enlargement of our functions through the Commonwealth more completely discharging, the duties for which it was called into existence, the Commonwealth must require to keep a larger control over the revenues which it collects, and to that extent will probably be forced reluctantly to hand back less and less to the States as time goes on. There is a Conference of Premiers shortly to meet in this city, and every one will be delighted if as a result an amicable and reasonable arrangement is arrived at as between the States and the Commonwealth. I do not think there is anybody either in the Ministry or in Parliament itself, and certainly not in a Chamber such as this, constituted as it is especially to look after the interests of the States, who would deny for a moment that in view ‘ of the inter-relation between the State and Federal finance there is an obligation upon us to consider most tenderly the requirements of the States. But whilst subscribing heartily to that, the
Commonwealth would be making a most fatal mistake if, in order -to be generous to the States, it was unjust to itself. One thing which I fear above all others, judging from the many public utterances which have come under my notice, is the possibility of the Federation being made the great taxing machine of Australia, whilst the States stand forward as a kind of bountiful Providence distributing in various kinds of concessions to the people the amounts which the Commonwealth has raised. I want to see that terminated.
– That must be, so long as the Commonwealth controls the Customs.
– I am not complaining of the amounts which we are paying the States to-day. I only fear that a demand may be made not merely for the payment which has existed in the past, but even for an enlarged one. Even to-day, whilst the Commonwealth is pointed to as the big taxing machine, my own State has received enormous sums, has been enabled to show great surpluses, and make great concessions to the people, with the result that must inevitably follow wherever you have one body raising the money and another spending it. The object I have in view is to bring about as soon and as completely as possible an absolute divorce between Federal and State finance. It is quite immaterial to me whether that is done by means of the transfer of State debts or the payment of a fixed sum. The main thing is to arrive at a fair adjustment between the two bodies as to the proportion of Customs revenue which they shall receive, and a distinct agreement which, from the date on which it is arrived at, will leave the Commonwealth free to work out its own destiny unhampered by any consideration of State needs or State necessities.
– Whilst we are all anxious to assist the Government to get on with the work of the country by passing, the Estimates, there are some figures which I have extracted from the Budget speech and from other financial papers that I feel it my duty to lay before the Chamber, and, through it, before the public. These figures show the enormous increase of expenditure on the various Departments between the years 1901-2 and 1906-7. I admit that they are capable of explanation, and that possibly some explanation can be given to account for what certainly appears to be an enormous increase, but if there is anything that requires a very clear explanation, it is this drift of !the Commonwealth finances. The cost of the various Departments in detail was as follows -
That shows an increase of £1,268,077, roughly from three and three-quarter millions to about five millions, or a proportionate increase of /nearly 33^ per cent.
– Is not that a good sign?
– Not with expenditure. I am not going to say whether it is good or bad, but the expenditure is certainly mounting up at a rapid rate. I can see in the various items in the Departments several cases of expenditure which has had to be incurred by the Commonwealth, and consequently the Government cannot be fairly charged with the responsibility of the whole of that increase. The principal item is represented by works. The State authorities formerly charged their works as a rule to loan account, but the Commonwealth Government have charged them to revenue. The increase in the expenditure on works in 1906-7 over that for 1 901-2 was as f follows : - Home Affairs, £9,285; Census and Statistics, £5,007; Trade and Customs, £1,162; Defence, £195,159; Postmaster-General, £275>737- The increase of 33J per cent, in the total expenditure, even if reduced by that sum of ‘£486,350, is still very large. It is only right to say that in the Department of Trade and Customs the amount for sugar bounties is very large, but even allowing for that, the increase of expenditure between 1901 and 1907 is a subject which should occupy the closest attention of the Federal Treasurer, and no doubt justifies every State Treasurer in closely scrutinizing the expenditure of the Commonwealth, seeing that the States are entitled to look to their three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to form a very large proportion of their own revenues. The total expenditure provided for the year 1906-7,, according to the Treasurer’s Budget speech, was £4,987,301, and on the Estimates now before us . the expenditure tor 1907-8 is £5,967,992, or nearly £6,000,000. That shows an increase of ,£1,000,000, or nearly 20 per cent., over the previous year. We are entitled to know, even in the Senate, the justification for so large an increase of expenditure as one-fifth in one year.
– Why does the honorable senator say .” even in the Senate “ ?
– Because, as the leader of the Opposition has pointed out, it has usually been regarded, whether as a matter of principle or of necessity, as not the right or duty of the Senate to closely investigate the finances. Although as a new senator I may be speaking rashly, I take it that, with few limitations, the powers of the Senate in’ regard to expenditure, are equal to those of the House of Representatives, and that we are entitled to the opportunity to criticise and express our judgment upon the revenue and expenditure of the Commonwealth. If I . have the time, and the opportunity is afforded to me, I shall discuss in this Chamber the finances down to every farthing in the Departments. I quite 1 agree with Senator Millen that, through pressure of business and possibly through circumstances over which no one has control, we have not the time nor opportunity in this Chamber to investigate the finances with proper attention to detail. We have certainly not done so for the last twelve or eighteen months, and we do not know, except by observing the general tendency of drift in the finances, where the Commonwealth is going with regard fo the States and with regard to itself. A comparison df the expenditure for 1901-2 and 1907-8 gives very startling results, apart from any explanation or defence that may be offered. I do not know whether the Minister will enter upon a detailed defence at this stage, but, at any rate, the figures as they stand require explanation. In a Chamber of this kind, representing the interests of the States consistently with the interests of the Commonwealth, we are bound to put these matters strongly from a State point’ of view. The Estimates of expenditure for 1907-8 amount to £5,967,992- In 1901-2, the Estimates of expenditure submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament amounted to £3,733,218. These figures show an increase in the expenditure over the. seven years of £2,234,774, or roughly speaking an increase of £2,250,000 on an expenditure of £3,750,000, or put in another way an increase of £9,000,000 on an expenditure of £15,000,000. This represents an increase, roughly speaking, of over 60 per cent. Whilst on one side we have a right to consider our financial powers under the Commonwealth, the States Governments, through their Treasurers*’ being largely dependent upon a certain share of the revenue from Customs and Excise, are entitled to point out to the Commonwealth Government where their expenditure is drifting to. The figures I have quoted are from official sources, and are not challengeable. They show an increase of over 60 per cent, in the expenditure of the Commonwealth Government, and it is therefore about time that some one called a halt, and certainly if a halt is not to be called, good reasons should be given by the Common: wealth Government. In this connexion, I refer to an alarming feature in Commonwealth finance which may be common also to State finance. Whether our Commonwealth expenditure can or can not be justified, it must be admitted that it is increasing by leaps and bounds, whilst our population is, comparatively speaking, stationary. Since the Commonwealth was established, whilst our expenditure has been increased by 40, 50, or 60 per cent., our population has been increasing only at the rate of from 1.2 to 1.5 per cent, per annum. From his stand-point, Senator Millen has very properly pointed out that we must not unduly strain the financial powers of the . Commonwealth in response to any clamour on the part of the States. I can quite understand the honorable senator’s contention. He speaks as a representative of a. large State, which has been receiving continuously from the inception of Federation hundreds of thousands, and in some years almost a million, of pounds more than she received previous to Federation from her Customs and Excise revenue. The honorable senator also properly pointed out that that advantage given to’ the State of New South Wales had been followed bv the very unfortunate result that it offered an almost irresistible temptation to the States authorities to indulge -in extravagant expenditure, and that when they found themselves in financial difficulties the politicians responsible for that state of affairs howled against the Commonwealth. The honorable senator’s remarks on this phase of the question require to be taken into consideration. Practically, similar results have followed in Victoria. Every year since Federation was accomplished1 Victoria has received nearly £1,000,000 more than her share of three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue. ‘ But I wish specially to call attention to the position of Queensland, as one of what are called the smaller States. On three occasions Queensland has received less than her share pf three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue. She was not entitled to an equal share of, the one-fourth, because of the excess of expenditure in Queensland, but the result has been that on three occasions she has not received her proportion of threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which she would have received if collecting the revenue as an independent State. We require to closely consider the position of the. smaller States in this matter. Notwithstanding the very large increase in the revenue from Customs and Excise duties due to the revised Tariff, the Treasurer in the tables which he placed before Parliament pointed out that Queensland would receive this year £7 2.. -47 less than her three-fourths of the total revenue from Customs and Excise. New South Wales and Victoria will receive nearly £1,000,000 more than. their threefourths share of that revenue. Whilst representatives of those States in the Senate may very properly point out that in the circumstances the Commonwealth is not to be unduly hampered in its financial operations, I, who speak on behalf of a State that, on the figures submitted by the Treasurer himself, is to receive £72,347 less than her three-fourths share of the revenue from Customs and Excise, am entitled to take a different stand. It has been shown that this revenue will be very largely increased as a result of the operations during the nine months of the financial year which have passed. The Treasurer has now only to forecast the probable revenue for the three months remaining, and I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say now whether the Treasurer anticipates that Queensland will after all receive her fair share of three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth ? In determining the respective financial positions df the States and the Commonwealth under the operation of the Constitution, the States authorities have a right, not absolutely to assume, perhaps, but -.to a large extent to presume, that each State will receive at least its three-fourths of the total Commonwealth revenue from Customs and Excise. According to the Treasurer’s tables, Queensland ‘will not receive -her share this year.
– Queensland has not . been receiving her share for some time.
– That is so, and I am glad of the interjection from a representative of the State of Tasmania, because, from the same table submitted by the Treasurer, I find that he estimates that Tasmania will receive £[23,106 less than her share. The reason must be that the expenditure in the two States as against the share of the Customs and Excise revenue created to themselves a deficit in each case to- the amount stated.
– The real reason is that we pool the Customs revenue for purposes of expenditure.
– I am aware of that. The Customs and Excise revenue is pooled, and the various States are debited with the expenditure in them.
– I ask the honorable senator not to dwell too- long upon that phase of the question, because, really, it is not strictly in order at this stage, though it would have been on the first reading of the Bill.
– I admit that that is. so; but I wished, if possible, to discover what would be the surplus above three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which the smaller States would receive. I shall not at this stage pursue the matter further, because I am sure that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will direct the attention of the Treasurer to the criticisms addressed to this aspect of the finances, of the Commonwealth. The object I have had in view has been to point out that there is a good deal, of reason for our unrest with regard to the increasing expenditure of the” Commonwealth, and especially in view of the fact’ that in every Department of the Public Service that has been transferred to the Commonwealth there is unrest, dissatisfaction, and almost absolute chaos. In the case of the two great Departments of Defence and Posts and Telegraphs, it may be said that it will require the best efforts of Parliament to discover the most effective means to make them properly perform the duties expected of them. When side by side with a large increase of expenditure we have universal complaint as to the inefficiency of various Federal Departments, it is surely the duty, not only of the Senate, but of both
Houses of the Federal Parliament, to very carefully scrutinize every item of expenditure. Might I say, further, that we have reason to regret that, with respect to the current financial year, we have not the opportunity to do our duty in this matter thoroughly and effectively.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council painted, in very rosy colours, the financial position of the Commonwealth, and in still rosier colours the financial abilities and performances of the Government. I think the honorable senator laid the brush on a good deal more heavily than the circumstances warranted. I feel that the large revenue which has been collected, and which! has been poured out in certain instances to the States by the million sterling almost, represents money which in the first instance has been improperly extorted from the people. 1 cannot understand any person having, as the members of the Federal Government ought to have, the interests of the people of the Commonwealth at heart, allowing themselves to extort, or even, shall I say collect, from the citizens revenue by the million more than is required to meet the necessities of public expenditure in Australia. I have no hesitation in saying that the financial policy of the Government has been exceedingly weak. Instead of taking hold of the great questions which remain unsettled, and dealing with them in a complete and comprehensive scheme, the Government seem to know how to do nothing but to appeal to the Customs House, using their pet scheme of protection to raise money that is not wanted.
– 1 point out to the honorable senator that the policy of the Government in that respect is not now under consideration. I gave honor-able senators a very fair opportunity before this debate was entered upon, by pointing out that they would not be bound by the rules of relevancy in discussing the first reading of the Bill, but that in dealing with the second reading they would be bound by those rules. I have already given honorable senators a great deal of latitude, perhaps more than I should have done, in the course of this debate. To be relevant on the motion, before the Senate, honorable senators should discuss the administration of the Departments, and the amount of money proposed to be expended in connexion with them. It would be competent for them to make comparisons as to the decrease or increase of expenditure, but the .protectionist policy of the Government, or any matter of that kind, is quite beside the question at the present stage. I ask Senator Pulsford, in the circumstances, not to depart from the question to such an extent as to discuss the protectionist policy of the Government.
– I fancy that’ under your ruling, sir, the members of the Senate will be tied up a -little more than were the members of another place in dealing with these matters. However, you certainly did point out that the first reading of the Bill afforded an opportunity for dealing with certain matters, and I can only regret that I did not take advantage of that opportunity.
– Perhaps, sir, you will permit me to point out how that ruling will circumscribe the remarks of honorable senators on a matter of the highest and most vital importance, because in dealing with this Bill we are in practically the same position, as is the House of Representatives when it is considering the Budget, and I think that that is how it has always been treated here before. On the first reading of the Bill, as you very kindly reminded us, we deal with grievances, that is, questions which necessarily have no relation to the subject-matter of the Bill or the financial statement. But, on the second reading of the Bill, the Minister made what is a Budget speech in this Chamber. I think, sir, that on all previous occasions, at this stage, we have dealt with the financial position of the Commonwealth. I ask you, sir, whether as that has been the practice, and, as you have been good enough to allow some latitude, you cannot, subject to further consideration, extend it to Senate r Pulsford. Those who have to address the Senate on the financial position must feel that we should be allowed to do so on the footing that the Minister has practically delivered a Budget speech involving not merely the details of departmental expenditure, but the Ways and Means of the Government. At the moment, sir, I did not notice the full force of the point to which you were directing our attention, but I am sure that you would not wish to curtail the opportunities which we have to deal with various matters in relation to the finances..
– I point out to the honorable senator that in the other House it is generally in Committee of Ways andMeans that the Budget is delivered, and that at that time it is in order fo~ its members to debate the policy of the Government as therein detailed. When the Appropriation Bill comes to the Senate, we are not considering the matter of taxation, but merely the question of expenditure. Or; the motion for its first reading, we have the opportunity not only to ventilate grievances, but also if we see fit to debate the financial policy of the Government as it may be known to us. It is true that the Vice-President of the Executive Council alluded to certain sums which had been paid te the various States out of surplus revenue. I did not attempt to prevent honorable senators from dealing with that question as it was raised by_ the Minister. Senator St. Ledger was dealing with the matter at rather great length, and although it appeared to me that he was exceeding the latitude which he was. entitled to take, still, not desiring to curtail debate, I did not interpose until towards the end of his speech, when I reminded him that he was getting astray. When I called Senator Pulsford to order, he was discussing the financial policy of the Government, and the fact that they, were drawing millions of pounds out of the pockets of the people under a highly protective system, of Customs and Excise duties. I held that that was not the question which we had to consider at the present stage. If the Government choose to come down with proposals for increased taxation, either at the Custom House, or otherwise, it is quite open to honorable senators to debate them. But at this stage of the Appropriation Bill it is not open to them to debate the question which Senator Pulsford was seeking to discuss.- I find that I have not laid down a new rule, because in the session of 1905, this question was raised, and my predecessor ruled that -
On the second reading of an Appropriation Bill, whose sole object is the appropriation of the consolidated revenue, discussions on such questions at land tax, protection and free-trade, a new scheme of taxation, are not in order.
I am only following the practice which has been laid down here, and certainly following what I think is the proper course in dealing with the measure at the . present stage. The rule of relevancy is as strict in connexion with an Appropriation Bill at this stage as it is in connexion with any other measure at a like stage.
– Will you forgive me, sir - looking at the importance of the matter - if I say a few words, having reference to this particular occasion ? You will recollect that when the first reading of the Bill was moved the VicePresident of the Executive Council . was asked by Senator Millen whether he proposed to make his statement then. I understood, in fact it was anticipated, that he would do so at that stage.
– Oh no, I said that 1 1 followed my honorable friend’s practice, and the usual practice.
– My honor- able friend did not mention my practice.
– Perhaps it will be better if the Minister does not interrupt, as Senator Symon only desires to address a few words to the Chair.
– When the motion for the first reading of the Bill was put Senator Millen rose and intimated, as I gathered, that his understanding was that a statement was to be made by the Minister. I took it from the Minister’s remarks on that occasion that a financial statement would be made on the second reading of the Bill. I. am obliged to my honorable friend for mentioning my practice. What happened in the session of 1904?
– I remind the honorable senator that that is not a matter for discussion at great length. I’ have no objection to an observation being made to further elucidate the position, but I do not think that honorable senators will be in order in discussing what was done on a previous occasion. I intend to adhere to the ruling I have given, subject of course to the opinion of the Senate. I gave honorable senators generally a fair indication of the position, because’ I went rather out of my way, I think, to tell them that on the first reading they could deal with any matter, but that on the second reading the rule of relevancy would apply. I have not interfered with any honorable senator who has desired to criticise any word uttered by the Minister, but beyond that I shall not allow any speaker to go.
– I was not going to say one word, sir, by way of extending the discussion. My allusion to what occurred in the session of 1904 was merely to explain-
– That question is not before the Senate.
– I want to suggest to you, sir, that it is an indulgence which you might grant to Senator Pulsford. He was under the impression, in fact we have all been under the impression, that the standing order relevant to the first reading of an Appropriation Bill was introduced to enable the Senate to discuss grievances merely in the sense in which they are discussed on the motion for going into Committee of Supply in the other House, and- not with, a view to shut out a discussion on the general statement of the Government in relation to the finances, of the. Commonwealth. It was from that point of view, sir, that I was merely suggesting that a little latitude might be allowed to Senator Pulsford, who was evidently under the impression, as we all were, that the old procedure was to be followed.
– In view of your ruling, sir, I do not see how I can very well continue my remarks. I quite understood from the remarks of Senator Best that he was speaking on the second reading of the Bill, and that there would be a financial debate. I gathered that while honorable senators might on the first reading introduce matters outside finance altogether,, in a second-reading speech they could still deal pretty well with the general subject of finance. I regret that I missed the opportunity to speak at the previous stage.
– - It is somewhat futile to offer any remarks at this juncture, because the larger proportion of the money which we are called upon to vote has been spent. During the present session we have dealt with five Supply Bills, and, therefore, we” have had many opportunities for referring to various matters relating to the Public Service. I am aware that the late arrival of this Bill is attributed to the intervention of the Tariff Bills, but I venture to think that even in their absence the Bill would have arrived here late in the. session, and so continued the pernicious system of submitting the Estimates to the Senate towards the end of the financial year. In’ my opinion they ought to be introduced at a very early period in the session, so that we might have a voice - in determining how the money should be spent. I propose to refer to several matters which I do not think have been mentioned previously. In connexion with the Department of External Affairs we are asked to vote ,£20,000 for advertising the resources of Australia. I have no objection to vote in that1 direction, but it involves rather a big question.- What are the resources of Australia that we are desirous of advertising, and what is the ob ject which we have iri view in publishing the advertisements ? There can be only one object in view, and that, is- to bring here a number of persons from the Old Land; in other words, to encourage a judicious influx of immigrants. No one in the chamber is more desirous of seeing a number of persons coming to these shores than I am - there is no one more cognisant of our great resources than I am - but before we spend £20,000 in advertising our resources we ought to be in a position to tell those who may think it advisable to swallow our, bait that we have something to offer to them.
– What is the bait which is offered to them to swallow ?
– The bait which I think is being offered to people in the Old Land is that in Australia there is plenty of land available for intending settlers.
– And is there not ?
– There is; . but at the present time it is locked up. The best land in Australia to-day, so far as agricultural requirements are concerned, is certainly locked up.
– By “ locked up*” the honorable senator means that the owners want market value for it.
– They are waiting to get a better price than they can get to-day.
– I know plenty who would >be glad to get to-day’s selling price if it were offered to them.
– Before we spend £30,000 or £40,000 in advertising the resources of Australia it is imperative that land monopolies be broken up. Even in to-day’s newspapers there is a reply to the Prime Minister from the Premier of Victoria, in which he practically says that there are 1,000,000 acres pf land in this State on which intending immigrants can settle, but that the land is held by private individuals. I recognise that the population of Australia is too small. I recognise the necessity for a judicious scheme of immigration, and for developing our great natural resources. But I also recognise the necessity of first supplying the needs of our people within our own shores and who are anxious to settle upon the land. In every capital city in the Commonwealth to-day there are unemployed. Within a stone’s throw of this building I saw, a few days ago, a number of men gathered about the Treasury steps- Some of them, perhaps, were not genuine unemployed, but I venture to say that the majority were really in want of employment.
– Fifty per cent, of them would not move away from this city to take any employment.
– I venture to. saythat 90 per cent, of the unemployed in Victoria and in other States would gladly avail themselves of any opportunity of taking their part in the development of our natural resources. The facts point to the necessity of either the Commonwealth Government or the States Governments taking steps to break up effectively the land monopoly that exists in a greater degree in this country than it exists in the Old Land from which many of us come.
– It is bad enough in Australia, but not nearly so bad as in old lands.
– In proportion to population and to area the evil is worse in Australia than it is in European countries. The question of land” settlement is intimately connected with the’ proposals of the Government for the improvement of the defence of Australia. We cannot defend this country unless we have a sufficient population. We need the manhood to defend it. We can never have that manhood unless we break up the monopoly to which I have referred.
– There is not much land monopoly in the north-west of Western Australia, is there?
– There is undoubtedly land monopoly in the State from which I come.
– Not up Kimberley way.
– There we have men in possession of large blocks of country which they are not using.
– But in the undefended part of the country there is no land monopoly.
– We have in Western Australia the example of the Midland Railway Company, which is certainly in possession of a great area of land. While I am an ardent supporter of the defence proposals of the Government, and while I shall willingly vote for expenditure to make their scheme as perfect as possible, I point out that at the present time a certain amount of injustice is being inflicted upon those men who are doing their duty in participating in training for the defence of Australia. I think that the periods fixed for the annual camps are too short for effective purposes. Moreover, many men who would like to take part in the camps cannot afford to do so owing to the loss of time entailed. Loss of time means loss of wages. ‘ The Government might reasonably take into consideration the desirableness of making an allowance to those working men who are willing to undergo training to make themselves effective defenders of the Commonwealth. Then there is the question of uniforms. I do not think that the father of a family ought to be put to the expense of providing uniforms for his boys, who belong to the cadets’. I notice that certain expenditure for the Electoral Department is provided for in this Bill. I think that the time has arrived when the responsible Minister should recognise the necessity of amending the Electoral Act. The system under which we have worked has certainly contributed - I will not say to corruption,, but to certain practices which are, to say the least of them, reprehensible. They have been the means of involving citizens in unnecessary expenditure through the bungling of electoral officers. I will now refer briefly to the fact that a document has been presented to us which purports to show the benefits conferred upon the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department since Federation. While I do not deny that many Commonwealth officers have received benefits, I nevertheless think that they are being deprived of some of the privileges of citizenship. For instance, Commonwealth public servants are denied the right of taking part in political affairs.
– They are not denied their rights as citizens at all.
– If a public servant of the Commonwealth chooses to become a candidate for any particular public office- say a Town Clerk, a Road Board, the State Parliament, or the Commonwealth Parliament - he is immediately called upon to resign his position in the service.
– Experience has shown that that is a most desirable thing to do.
– When I was a public servant in Western Australia, because I had the temerity to offer myself as a candidate for a public position, I was called upon to resign..- I refused” to do so, and remained in my position until I was returned to the office which I sought.
I fail to see why any citizen of Australia who is employed by the Commonwealth Government should have to renounce his rights of citizenship. Public servants should’ be perfectly at liberty to take part in public matters outside office hours. Because they are public servants, they ought not to be deprived of any position -within the gift of the people of Australia. Another matter that is before us is the recommendation to give to Commonwealth public servants in Western Australia an increase of 5 per cent, over men in the same grades in other States, owing to the extra cost of living in the West. I welcome that proposal. It is only right that such a concession should be made. There is a vast difference between the cost of living in Western Australia and in any other portion of- the Commonwealth. But I do not think that the concession goes far enough. A stipulation has been made that officers in receipt of district allowances shall not receive this concession of 5 per cent. Consequently, the majority of the Western Australian public servants will not benefit by the concession, because they are already in receipt’ of district allowances which operate on the gold-fields. The gold-fields allowance was given’ before Federation. It’ was recognised that the cost of living on the gold-fields area was much greater than the cost in the metropolitan area. That system was continued by the Commonwealth Government. But, strange to say, whilst the Commonwealth proposes to make an increase of 5 per cent, to the public servants in the metropolitan area, on account of the cost of living being dearer in the West than it is in the other States. they refuse to make that concession to those officers who are situated in the distant portions of the State where the cost of living is 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, higher. The matter is now almost settled. I believe it will be settled adversely to the officers in the gold-fields portion of our State, although it is not just that it should be so. I shall conclude with a slight reference to the Public Service Act, in connexion with the Public ‘Service Commissioner We have heard a great deal this afternoon as to the administration of the Post and Telegraph and other Departments under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, but I think there would not be so many complaints either from- the public or from the officers, if we had not a Public Service Commissioner standing between the Minis- ten and the service, and between the- service and the people. We have heard an example of the Public Service Commissioner telling a Minister that he was not to have a. certain number of employes to carry on his Department. The PostmasterGeneral was desirous of increasing the staff in order to cope with the growing demands ot his Department, but the Public Service Commissioner said “ No,” and there the matter ends. I know that prior to the appointment of the Commissioner, there was a danger of political interference. I do not advocate that system, but in the present Public Service Act we have gone right to the other extreme. I say unhesitatingly that the time has arrived when Parliament should insist upon the Government of the day bringing down a Bill to amend the Public Service Act in order to take away from the Public Service Commissioner, no matter who he may be, some of the very arbitrary powers vested in him. I am not in any way personal in making these remarks. I do’ not refer in the slightest to the gentleman that at present holds the position of Commissioner. I, am speaking simply of the powers attached to his- office. I think that my opinion is generally shared bv my colleagues in this Chamber, and in another, place. I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will consider my remarks worthy of notice, because the Public Service Commissioner, with the powers vested in him,’ is certainly standing between the service and the Minister, and the people to whom the Minister’ is responsible.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.4]. - Senator Needham made some remarks about the Public Service and the Public Service Commissioner, but he seems to forget that the Public Service Commissioner was put in that position for th-i very purpose of standing between the Minister and the service, and particularly between Parliament and the service, subject, of course, to certain rights of Parliament, and that this was done for the protection of the rights of the people in the first place, and in the second place for the protection of the Civil Servants against themselves. A tirade’, not against the gentleman who holds the office - the honorable senator disclaimed that - but against the office itself, comes not merely a little late in the day, but is altogether in conflict with the policy of the Government and of Parliament, when the Public Service Act was introduced and passed. For my part, I am not inclined, if we are to have a Public Service Commissioner at all, to restrict his powers, and make him a mere tool in the hands of the Government, or a complaisant public officer. He must be given, if not absolutely arbitrary powers, at all events strong powers, and be placed in a position in which he is perfectly independent of the Minister of the day. If he is not in that position, his office had better be abolished altogether. There are many reasons, which were all threshed out when the Act was passed, operating both ways, but after exhaustive consideration of the whole subject, it was felt- and the feeling was well grounded - that a Public Service Commissioner, under a carefully framed Public Service Act, was absolutely essential for not merely the organization, but also the care and control of the Public Service in the interests of the community. One of the best things we could have nowadays, if the illustration which Senator Needham gave is accurate, is that the Public Service Commissioner should put his foot down and say, that a particular Department is overmanned, or, if, on the’ contrary, the Minister, for some reasons of economy, wants to starve the Department, and .reduce the number of officers in .it, that the Department is undermanned.
– Does- the honorable senator contend that the Post Office is overmanned ?
– That is not the question which we are discussing at present. What the honorable senator inveighed against was the office of the Public Service Commissioner and the arbitrary powers conferred upon the holder of it. The Commissioner must have large powers, and if he is to be ari effective officer, must be given absolute independence of the Minister of the. day and to a large extent of Parliament, but not altogether of Parliament, because Parliament can always repeal the Act. I do not desire to follow the honorable senator on to what he called the dangerous ground of the land question, from which he appeared to shrink.
– I went as far as the Standing Orders would allow me. I was not afraid to tackle the question itself.
– The honorable senator might have extended the expression which he used, because the whole question is a perfect quaking bog. I am not at all indisposed to have land purchase, and all that sort of thing, in order to pro mote settlement under a properly conducted policy, for which no doubt provision is made in these Estimates, but there has been a great deal of misrepresentation, and the question of- unoccupied and locked-up lands is very largely made a mere election advertisement to influence ‘the unthinking masses. Senator Needham is entirely- mistaken in his allusion to the necessity of the introduction of manhood into this country as a means of defence, for he must know that the Prime Minister and others who use that- phrase do not mean the introduction of men into the settled parts of the States. What they refer to is the necessity for the occupation of our unoccupied lands. The lands locked up in Australia are a mere flea-bite compared with those immense areas.
– Every block in Victoria is over-applied for.
– I am talking not of Victoria, but of the whole Commonwealth, which has to be defended. What we want is a manhood occupation, 1 do not say of Central Australia, but of the North, the North- West, and the North.East of Australia. It is idle and silly to talk about the land being locked up in those parts, .and to urge that as a reason against the introduction of immigration.
– The land in the Northern Territory and the North- West is held on long leases.
– Some of it is held under lease, but immense areas are not under lease at all.
– Forty-two years’ leases are given in the Northern Territory.
– Not for the whole of the Territory. There are millions of acres .wholly unoccupied. The danger to Australia in the event of a hostile descent is in connexion with that part of the Continent, and not with the closelysettled parts. The taking up of the land in those parts may involve pioneering difficulties. Men may have to put their backs into the work, if they want to open up or use the land, to an extent which might not be necessary if they were given, at a price, the already settled and cultivated lands in the settled areas. Senator . Mulcahy referred to the unemployed who will not ‘go outside the cities. We all know that the cities have an attraction which the country has not, and that there is hard pioneering work to be done in the country, but the people who will be brought here- to go out on to those unoccupied areas will perhaps have to put. their muscles and hearts into the opening up of the land to make it useful just as the original pioneers did when they came on to the land which they acquired, and which is now settled. We forget that. Perhaps it is not as agreeable to men to go to the North- West or to the Northern Territory to open up the land and make homesteads there.
– That is just about the last place where you could expect a stranger to our climate to go.
– I appreciate that, but still all that land must be developed some time or other. The men who came here in the early days had to face the same arduous difficulties, and perhaps even greater difficulties in those parts of Australia which are now the most favoured for settlement. People will have to face difficulties if they intend to occupy those other lands. I agree with Senator de Largie that perhaps a man would not go to those parts from choice, but he has to go there to earn his living. There is a great deal of misrepresentation upon the whole question. It is certainly a very large one, and I do not suppose it has to be settled here and now. The subject of immigration is not exactlybefore us, but those matters which are fairly relevant, as Senator Needham has put them, may be dealt with. The emphatic language which he used in regard to the breaking up of the land, and all that sort of thing, is simply the language of the platform.
– Language which the honorable senator does not like to use when he is on the platform!
– I always deal with those statements when I am on the platform, and I find that my audiences, ‘when the matter is explained to them clearly, and when mere declamation is not offered to them, take the right view, and see at once that the claptrap to which they usually listen is not the sort of thing to advance this country. The honorable senator showed how he had been a kind of village Hampden in regard to the civic rights of public servants in Western Australia,; and had defied I do not know what authorities. But he had his way. Why should he complain that public servants have not the rights of citizens?
– I want them to have their way, too.
– What happened to the honorable senator?
– I was elected.
– The honorable senator was like the King in the Scriptures : he achieved his purpose. But if all the public servants did the same thing no work would be done. Whatever Department he was in in Western Australia, I am sure that he did his work well, and was as thorough and good a servant as he is a senator, but when he talks in that vehement way about the public servants not having the rights of citizens he is drawing upon ‘his imagination.
– I wish all citizens had such rights.
– I wish we all had their rights and privileges and the same amount of leave each year. I get none. They get their leave and regular salaries, and so far as I can see they have the most unbounded opportunities of agitation for their rights. I again enter my protest against the opportunity to which the Senate is” entitled of dealing with the financial position of the Commonwealth being postponed to so late a period of the session, although, of course, I recognise that the Appropriation Bill must always come up last. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that the Budget speech had been delivered on the 8th of August. That is about eight months ago. There have been so many changes in the Government’s financial proposals since then that it is difficult to know what position they take now. I am not putting it in that way from any desire to cavil at the Government. I have protested again and again upon occasions similar to the present against the absolute disrespect, if I may use that expression, which is shown to the Senate in postponing all opportunity to deal with financial matters until this period of the session. Of course the Appropriation Bill should be practically the last measure dealt with in the session. Years ago, when you, sir, were on the floor of the Senate, you assisted me in urging, or advocated on your own account, that some means should be devised similar to the moving of the first line of the Estimates in Committee of Supply in another place, by which! the financial statement mightbe delivered in the Senate under circumstances which would enable honorable senators to devote sufficient time to the Budget proposals of the Government, and to deal with them with the same facility, and as effectively as they can be dealt with in the House of Representatives. I put it to the Vice-President ofthe Executive Council now, that consideration might well be given to devising some means to give the Senate an opportunity to do its duty under the Constitution in dealing with Commonwealth finance, and at a proper time: It is impossible that the Senate can do so now. I am not speaking, Mr. President, with respect to your view as to the proper procedure to be followed at the present time. It could not be done now, whatever might be the procedure. We are apt to forget that under the Constitution in matters of finance the Senate has co-ordinate powers with the other Chamber. There is a difference of procedure in the twoHouses, but the powers are co-ordinate. That is a fundamental principle of the Constitution of the Senate. I personally should not have been a party, nor would Senator Trenwith have been a party, to the creation of the Senate under the Constitution unless these powers had been fairly and honestly conferred upon it. These powers have been conferred on the Senate, but, unhappily, we have not exercised them.
– Not quite.
– They have been conferred absolutely, though the procedure in the two Houses differs. The only difference! between the Senate and another place is that we cannot initiate financial proposals.
– That is a very important difference.
– That is a privilege of the House of Representatives, but we have absolutely the same financial power and control. That is proved’ by the fact that we can go into every detail of these Estimates and make requests upon them. Those requests are nothing but amendments. Wecan abandon or insist on them, and the fight between the two Houses only arises should the other Chamber disagree with our requests. I say that on every occasion on which we neglect to assert our powers, we are lowering the constitutional position of the Senate. I speak in no spirit of censure of the present Government, any more than of any other, but I say that Government after Government in the Commonwealth has ignored the Senate, and has kept it in a position of degradation - I think that is the only word I can use - in view of the status which it should occupy under the Constitution.
– The Senate has its remedy, if it cares to take advantage of it. On the first reading of the first Supply
Bill that comes along, we can deal with the whole question of the financial policy of the Government.
– Honorable senators might put their feet down and’ throw out the. Appropriation Bill.; but of course that would be a very extreme measure to adopt.
– It will be a bad day when they do.
– I shall have a word to say about that.
– We might do a good many things which no one would dream of doing.
– Of course. I wish to add that the throwing out of an Appropriation Bill is quite within the power of any Legislative Council in the States Legislatures of this country. But we arein a different position, and it was because it was never intended that the Senate should be driven to any such extraordinary measure that these co-ordinate powers were given it under the Constitution. But we are never given an opportunity to exercise them.
– On the first Supply Bill submitted the Senate might discuss every item in the Estimates.
– That is not the question, and that is not the remedy for the evil with which I am dealing. We have not the financial proposals of the Government before us. We should have the Budget submittedin the Senate, and should be in the same position as are honorable members in another place to deal with the financial policy of the Government. It is for that we ought to fight. Wecan, as Senator Pearce has said, deal with the items of the Estimates on a Supply Bill, and with the Bill itself; but that is not what I want, nor is it that to which we are entitled. In fact, it would be derogatory for us to do that; but what we are. entitled to is an opportunity in some way- - and it should riot, be beyond the wit of man to devise a mean - to have the financial policy of the Government brought before the Senate within a reasonable time after it is submitted in another place. I can say for myself that, asa memberof the Commonwealth Government in 1904, in the interests of the Senate, and in order to maintain its dignity and power, I brought before my colleagues suggestions with a view to carrying out something of the kind. However, in that year the Government of which I was a member was in office only from August, and after the motion of want of confidence had been moved, it was impossible in October, November, and the early part of December to do anything in the direction I contemplated. But I submit, that the VicePresident of the Executive Council might bring under the notice of his colleagues, I will not say the desire, but the necessity that exists for giving the Senate an opportunity, in the exercise of its powers under the Constitution, to deal with the financial policy of the Government as a concrete whole. I should like also to say, im view of the ruling which you, sir, have given, that I hope on another occasion, when we are dealing with a similar Bill, and the Vice-President of (he Executive Council is in a position to deliver a Budget statement as the Treasurer delivers it in another place - and I hope the honorable senator will be able to deliver many such statements - he will do so on the first reading of the Bill, so that there will be no possibility of honorable senators being deprived of an opportunity to express their views upon the financial policy of the Government as a whole. There is one other matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government, and that is the sugar bonus. On behalf of my own State, I protest again, as I have done before, against this enormous charge upon the people of this country.
– Unfortunately, it is levied under a contract, and we cannot break it.
– Well, I propose to keep on at the question until the time arrives when we can sweep the charge away. I do not take this view because of any feeling against Queensland or in any parochial or provincial spirit, but I hold that it is monstrous that £500,000 a year should be paid over to the Queensland sugar growers to assist them in getting rid of a particular’ kind of labour, and that it should be taken from the pockets of taxpayers in the other States, who are not directly interested in the matter at all.
– The honorable senator should not forget that we collect more than the amount stated in Excise.
– Very little more.
– Very considerably more.
– But the consumers have to pay the Excise as well ; that is the pity of it.
– It is your POliCY
– It is not my policy.
– It is Australia’s policy
- Senator Chataway has given himself away. He said that we collected more in Excise. I said that it amounted to very little more; but the real point is that, whatever it amounts to, it is the taxpayers of South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania who must pay this £500<000 or £750,000 more to the Queensland sugar growers. I cannot forget the eloquence with which Senator- Pearce not long ago showed how utterly inequitable it was because the people of Western Australia had to pay out of their own pockets for keeping alien labour out of their mines.
– Order. I point out to the honorable senator that the question of the sugar bonus is already settled’ bv Statute, and it does not appear to me thatthat policy is a matter which can be discussed at the present time.
– I am not discussing the policy which is responsible for the sugar bonus, but this item of expenditure, ‘ and I. protest against it, Statute or no Statute. I denounce the Statute^ I say that the provision under which this money is paid is one of the most monstrous legislative provisions that was ever passed.
– Would the honorable senator propose to amend the Statute if he were in power to-morrow ?
– I object to the expenditure) and when we come to the item it is possible that, with Senator Needham’s assistance, I may move a request to omit it.
– But the honorable senator would not break a contract?
– I ‘ should not break a contract ; but there are certain moral obligations which do not amount to contracts.
– The contract was only to pay Excise until the kanakas were re. moved.
– No, it is for a term of years.
– I leave this matter with the protest which I have felt that it has always been incumbent upon the representatives of the States other than
Queensland to offer. A reference was made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to surplus revenue, and I wish only to say with respect to that that I think the honorable senator was mistaken in what he said. I do hope that he will take the matter into consideration, and will put it to his colleagues that the Federal Parliament would be committing an act of gross political immorality if it withheld from the States any portion of the surplus revenue unless the money had been required for actual expenditure incurred. Certainly, to put it into a trust fund would only be another way of putting it into some one else’s pocket.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - Having a little regard for the Standing Orders, sir, I suggest that a quorum should be formed. [Quorum fcrmed.] During the discussions on Supply Bills, a large number of grievances have been trotted out, and it does not seem to me that any good purpose would be served by trotting them again out on the present occasion. I merely wish to indicate to Ministers my desire, when in Committee, to get some definite and satisfactory information on certain matters which I have brought before the Chamber, namely, the salaries of two officers in the Defence Force, and the pay of two sergeants in the same force. I hope that my honorable friends opposite will he in a position to reasonably satisfy me on those points when we reach the items in Committee.
– The honorable senator hrought this matter before me so specifically in connexion with the last Supply Bill that I have here an officer from whom I think I can get all the information which he desires.
– I thank my honorable and learned friend.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3, and First Schedule, agreed to.
The Parliament - Clerk of the Parliaments : Usher of the Black Rod.
Divisions 1 to 10 (The Parliament), proposed vote, £30,481.
– I notice that our respected Clerk has been absent from his post for a good while. I desire to know whether there is any prospect of his return to duty, or whether any arrangement is contemplated with regard to the appointment of a successor to him.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [7.53]. - Unfortunately, owing to his continued illness, it became necessary to give to the Clerk of the Parliaments leave of absence for a further period of six months, and at its expiration he will resign his position. He has been a very old and faithful public servant, and it was felt that the least that we could do would be to treat him withevery possible consideration.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
.- The contemplated retirement of the Clerk of the Parliaments affords us an excellent opportunity - one which may not recur for many years - -to remove from the list of our officers what” I consider is an excrescence. It is more than probable, at any rate, I hope, that upon Mr. Blackmore’s retirement the Clerk Assistant will be appointed to the position of Clerk, and that the gentleman who formerly occupied the position of Usher of the Black Rod will be advanced to the position of Assistant Clerk. That, in my opinion, is all very right and proper, but then it will create a vacancy in the office of Usher of the Black Rod, which I suppose the President may want to fill by the transfer of the Clerk of Papers or the Accountant. Here is an opportunity, without doing an injustice to any one, to get rid of an office which is nothing less than a useless excrescence. It is ridiculous to see a gentleman - sometimes a fine looking gentleman - dressed in a tail coat, knee breeches, and buckle shoes, carrying a black10d before him.
– But he does not carry a black rod.
– He acts in the capacity of Clerk of Select Committees.
– Let us call the officer by that title, and not “ Usher of the Black Rod.” The Ministry should take this opportunity of trying to get rid of what has been a useless encumbrance. What do we want with an Usher of the Black Rod ? We are now sensible people, and are not like a number of savages going in for useless ceremonial, as was done in the old feudal times. I hope that the Government will endeavour to accomplish a very necessary and desirable reform which must commend itself to the common sense of any one who has ever given thought to the question.
– A very favorable opportunity is provided for carrying out the idea which has been expressed by Senator Givens. No doubt the opening and closing of Parliament must be attended with some ceremony ; but we might very well change the title of this office, even if we do not change the duties of the officer. Probably we could hot do very well without an usher on ceremonial occasions, here, but there is no reason why the officer should not be calledmerely the usher. The major portion of his work lies in connexion with the position of Clerk of Select Committees. If he were designated Clerk of Select Committees and Usher it. would be a more sensible designationthan is that of Usher of the Black Rod. . I trust that the leader of the Senate will state what is intended to be done. It is just as well that we should be told at once whether a sensible name is to be applied to our usher or whether a meaningless term is to be continued.
– Probably there are very few officers whose time is more constantly occupied.
– Certainly not in carrying the black rod.
– I have no complaint to urge against the office, but I have astrong objection to the. present designation, of its occupant.
– Is not the honorable senator pursuing a shadow ?
– No. It is only proper that the designations of our officers should be brought into harmony with the duties’ which they have to discharge. In my opinion, “ Usher of the Black Rod “ is a ridiculousdesignation, and it can be revised with much credit to. ‘ourselves.
– Honorable senators who have addressed themselves to this subject;have indicated very clearly that it is not to the occupant of the office of Usher of the Black Rod that they are making any objection. He is an officer who commends -himself to our confidence, and we know that he’ does his duty.
– We arenot discussing the man.
– I am glad that that is quiteclear: The position is that- he has been appointed to the office of Usher of the Black Rod and Clerk of Select Committees. It is in connexion with that office that his salary will’ be paid up to the 30th of June next. If we were to strike out the words “of the Black Rod,” and simply describe him as “ Usher and Clerk of Select Committees,” it might involve a fresh appointment. That is a point as to which I express no definite opinion without an opportunity of looking into it more fully. But certainly on the present Estimates we cannot hope to make any alteration. We are entitled to hear the views of honorable senators in relation to the office, and Ministers will have pleasure in consulting with the President in connexion with the matter when the next Estimates are being framed.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [8.1]. - I should like to say a few words to ease the minds of my honorable friends. There is a certain amount of advantage in retaining the title “Usher of the Black Rod,” inasmuch as it is a well-known parliamentary office, just as is that of “ Sergeant at Arms,” in the other House. The title conveys some idea of the work performed by the officer. Of course, it is quite possible that if the officer himself had an opportunity of expressing his opinion, he might feel rather aggrieved that we. do not provide him with a black rod. He does hot possess that insignia of office. But there are certain duties which attach to the office.
– Could they not be carried out just as well if we called the officer by another title?
– They could be carried out just as well if we gave him no title at all, and if he were simply designated by his own patronymic. It has beensuggested that we might call him simply “ The Usher.” Well, there might be half-a-dozen ushers. We require the title “Usher of the Black Rod “ to indicate certain specific duties that have tobe performed by that official. It has to be remembered that he acts as Clerk of Select Committees and that the duties pertaining thereto absorb a large amount of his time. I dare say that honorablesenators generally like to see the smiling face of the usher in the chamber. I do not think that we have any reason to change’ the name of the office.
.- There has been very little business in this discussion. I did not hear the opening speech of Senator Givens, but if it were as fully charged wtih milk and water as was that of Senator de Largie; he might as well have not made it. My objection is not to the name “ Usher of the Black Rod.” I consider that the office is a superfluity. I think that we are paying £550 per annum in re-, turn for very little service rendered. Of course, some useful work is done. No one doubts that. But I put it to honorable senators whether we want an officer - I do not care what he is called - to perform the duties which usually fall to the lot of the Usher of the Black Rod, and to pay him £550per annum for performing them? In the Queensland Parliament there are seventy-two members in the Legislative Assembly. There the Clerk Assistant is Usher of the Black Rod. There are only thirty-six members of the Seriate to keep in order. In my opinion, the Clerk Assistant might very well be appointed Usherof the Black Rod, in addition to holding his present office. I think that the £550. is absolutely wasted.
– What is the honorable senator’sproposal ?
– I propose that the Clerk Assistant should perform the duties of the Usher of the Black Rod in addition to his present duties, and that we should abolish the fifth officer in the list - Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee. With regard to Select. Committees, a few are appointed in some sessions. In other sessions we have none. I have no doubt that the duties of Secretary of the Joint House Committee are important. But are we warranted in paying an officer £550 a year to perform them ? Are we warranted in paying such a salary in the first place for an officer who renders no useful service to thisChamber ? I do not say that with any idea of disrespect to the officer himself. I am on perfectly friendly terms with him. But I cannot permit anything of that kind to come between me and my public duty. I see an officer here for whom there is no earthly use under the sun. We might just as well throw the money we are paying him into the Yarra forany benefit that the Commonwealth receives from his services. While the old state of things existed, while Mr. Blackmore was Clerk of the Parliaments, Mr. Bovdell, Clerk Assistant, and Mr. Upward, Usher of the Black Rod, I did not think it desirableto press’ the Government upon the matter. Butnow that an opporr tunity has occurred of dealing effectively with it, I think that the. Government ought to realize what their duty is. I wish to take the sense of the Committee upon the question. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives berequested to reduce the item Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee,£550,” by
– I really thought, from the opening remarks of Senator Stewart , that something tremendous was to be hurled at us. He has said that there was “ no business “ in the remarks which I made. The mountain has been” inlabour and has brought forth a ridiculous mouse. The “ business “ of Senator Stewart’s remarks consists in aproposal to reduce the voteby £1.
– The carrying of the request would have a very important bearing.
– I understand that the honorable senator, who got up with the air of a man about to do something wonderful, would submit something more effective. It was hardly worth his while to occupy so much time in moving his request.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [8. 11]. - I should not like honorable senators to labour under a misapprehension with regard to the duties devolving upon the officer in question. Senator’ Stewart is absolutely mistaken in supposing that all that he has to do is to sit in this chamber and occasionally to perform certain ceremonial functions. A number of important duties devolve upon him.
– No duties that cannot be performed by an officer at a much lower salary.
-Colonel GOULD. - The Usher has not only to be in attendance while the Senate is sitting, but he has also to act as Secretary to Select Committees. Then, again, he is Secretary of the Joint House Committee.
– He receives £50 extra for those duties.
-Colonel GOULD. - The duties involve a considerable amount of work. If honorable senators turn to page 8 of the Schedule they will find that the officer has the control of the refreshment room, of the electric lighting, Queen’s Hall, Parliamentary Gardens, Engineer, ‘ Assistant Engineer, and Lift Attendant. It is true that he receives £50 extra for being Secretary of the Joint House Committee. But I ask honorable senators to realize that this officer has office duties to discharge which necessitate his constant attention. The whole of his time is occupied. It is necessary to have an
Officer for these purposes. The extra £50 paid to him as Secretary of the Joint House Committee is no inordinate remuneration for the duties that devolve upon him. He acts as Accountant in connexion with the Other functions that I have enumerated, and has to keep an eye on other officers and to see that there is no undue expenditure. I should also like honorable senators to realize that while Mr. Blackmore has been away on leave of absence it lias been necessary to appoint a temporary officer. But the other officers have had increased duties thrown upon them, and have had to give up a great deal more of their time to their work. So far as my knowledge and experience go, I can say that the office in question could not be abolished without imposing upon the other officers a greater amount of work than is fair and1 reasonable. I am quite sure ‘that the honorable senator who has moved the request has no idea of anything like that being desirable.
– Let us take the first statement of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, with regard to the duties of the Usher of the Black Rod. He stated that that officer attends the meetings of the Senate. Is his presence here necessary, and for what purpose ?
-Colonel Gould. - He has
Other duties to perform besides that.
– We will deal with them as they come along. .1 am dealing now with his duties in this chamber. I ask honorable senators who have had the opportunity of observing to state what his duties here are. Could they not be performed by the Clerk Assistant? I understand that the particular function of the Usher of the Black Rod is to collar disorderly members and rush them out of the chamber. That sort of thing has never been necessary here, nor do I think it ever will be. If it is,- the ordinary .policeman ought to be sufficient. Does the Usher of the Black Rod perform a single useful function in this chamber? He is a superfluity. With regard to his position as Secretary to the House Committee, a company handling hundreds o’f thousands of pounds per annum could get a Secretary for ,£550 a year, .and. yet we are told that this paltry refreshment room, whose turnover probably does not amount to more than a thousand or two, requires a Secretary to be paid at that extravagant figure. A great deal is made of the secretaryship of Select Committees. When we appoint a Select Committee there are any number of men in the Civil Service who .are capable of acting temporarily as Secretary..
– Are they not already fully occupied?
– There are always men who could be got for that particular purpose.
– They ought to be put out of the service if there is no work for them.
– I do not say that there is no work for them. The service is in a continual state of flux. There are always temporary men being taken on and put off. If a competent permanent official is appointed to be Secretary -of a Select Committee, as I have known men to be, and another man is required in his place, a temporary hand can be taken on. so that there is no need for’ us to keep a permanent official here and pay him £550 per annum for the performance of duties which may never exist. I do not know what attitude Senator McGregor proposes to take. I appealed to him as leader of my party’ on this question ‘ some time ago, and asked him to interview the Government. I do not know whether he has done so. He appeared then to favour my proposal. He seems now to be against it. Why did he. not tell me straight out when I spoke to him that he did not approve of what I was doing? Probably, as a good boy, I would have subsided on hearing that he did not intend to support my proposal. The inventory of . this official’s work as detailed bv the President certainly sounded formidable - very much more so than it is in reality. I can only repeat that we are absolutely wasting this money and ought to make some new arrangement. I., have suggested to the Government an arrangement, which is already in operation in Queensland, and has acted very well for many years. It could be introduced here without doing an injury to any one. No one need be turned out of the service or displaced.
– This is a specially favorable opportunity.
-<~The opportunity is specially favorable, and may never occur again in our time. I want to see a little economy, and shall therefore’ insist upon my request.
– I wish to urge Senator Stewart not to persist in his request. We are now dealing with the Estimates for the year which ends on the 30th June next. The honorable senator is moving a request upon the Estimates for the present year.
– This will be an instruction for next vear. What else can I do?
– The honorable senator has made strong representations. If it happens that the present occupant of the position is promoted to be Clerk Assistant, it will be the special duty of the Government, in consultation no doubt with the President, to inquire as to whether there is any room for the economy suggested.’
– The President thinks there is not.
– That is all the more reason why we should hesitate, because the President, as head of the Senate, says that there are duties for the Usher of the _ Black Rod to perform. This is simply a question of fact. Are there duties to perform? If those duties can be distributed, undoubtedly we shall be called upon to ascertain if the economy suggested can be brought about. But for us to say blindly now that the office shall be abolished without inquiry, in face of the statement of the President that there are duties attached to it which have not yet been distributed, would be a mistake. I assure the honorable senator that if the promotion which he has indicated takes place, that will be a reason why inquiries should be made by Ministers, in consultation with the President. I hope that he. will withdraw the request now that I have given him that assurance.
– I am sorry that I have not obeyed Senator Stewart’s instructions in this matter.
– I did not instruct the honorable senator. He promised to speak to the Government.
– When Senator Stewart and myself had a conversation, on the subject, I took up the same attitude as the Vice-President of the Executive Council has taken up now. I am certain that every honorable senator will be prepared to support the Government if in the next year’s Estimates, they show that they have made a legitimate economy in connexion with the services of Parliament.
– And in both Houses. Not in one House only.
– In either House. I must say in justice to Senator Stewart that, if it was not neglect, it was a lapse on my part not to do what he asked me, but I must plead as an excuse the important Tariff business upon which we have been engaged for so long. I really forgot to consult any member of the Government on the question. I do not think that the way in which Senator Stewart is attempting te carry out the reform is the proper one to adopt. We are interfering with a state of affairs that has continued so far during the whole of the financial year, and that ought to continue up to the 30th June next. It is after that, date that any reform should take place.
– The appointment will be made before then.
– Appointments are not made in such a hurry.’ It is hardly possible for honorable senators, unless they make particular inquiries, to know exactly what the Usher of the Black Rod has to do. Is Senator Stewart, or am I, who am a member of the House Committee, in a position to say whether that officer is worth £500 or £600 a year? We know that if the position were put up to public auction we could probably get somebody to take on the duties for £150 a year. There are any number of people in Australia prepared to occupy Senator Stewart’s position, and to declare emphatically that they could carry out the duties of a senator as we.ll as any of us can for half the salary, and, in fact, for nothing at all. Some of them would be quite prepared to take it for the’ honour. It would be far better if honorable senators, after ventilating this ques: tion as they have done this evening, left it to the Government in the meantime. Within the next two months I shall do all I possibly can to carry out Senator Stewart’s wishes. I will speak both to the President and to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and see if any economy can be effected. I am sure that if they are satisfied that something can be done they will do it, but we should not be in such a hurry as to interfere with the Estimates for the present year. If they are passed, and things are left as they are until the 30th June, I hope that anything that can be done for the future will be done.
– The Committee is greatly indebted to Senator Stewart for bringing this question forward. He has always the courage of’ his opinions, and is not afraid to say things that may be unpopular for the time being. The personal equation is bound to be largely present in the minds of honorable senators in questions of this kind. At the same time, a great many of us talk together from time to time, and are of opinion that there is some extravagance in the number and cost of officers of both Houses. The honorable senator wishes to give effect to what is in the minds of many as well as himself. We find it difficult, because in this case a particular officer is involved, to take action. But we might do what Senator McGregor has suggested - that is, ask the President and the Government, when the resignation of the Clerk of the Parliaments is handed in, to consult the Senate before anything permanent is done in the way of a full reinstatement of the number of officers. It is due to various officers who have held positions here that they should receive promotion as their seniors retire, so long as they have performed all their duties satisfactorily. At the. same time, by arranging the work to be done, it might be possible to do with one officer less without injustice to any officer now in the service of the Parliament. If an undertaking were given, that that would be considered before any new appointment was made, Senator Stewart might be disposed to withdraw his request.
Question: - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Usher of the Black Rod, Clerk of Select Committees, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee, £550,” by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 11 to 16 (Department of External Affairs), proposed vote, £81,964.
External Affairs : Commonwealth Gazette - Alien Immigration : Inspection of Vessels - High Commissioner - Commonwealth Offices, London - Captain Collins - Historical Records - Papua : Administration : Land Scandals - Australian Men of Letters Fund - Advertising the Commonwealth.
.- I wish, in connexion with the proposed vote of £1,800 for the printing and distribution of the Commonwealth Gazette, to make some inquiries. The amount stated would average about £38 per week as the cost of the printing and publication of the Gazette. I should like to know from the Minister how many copies are distributed, whether they are distributed gratis, and if not, what revenue is. derived from the sale of the publication, and whether there are any receipts in connexion with the supply of the information contained in it.
– I think there are something like 2,000 copies of the Commonwealth Gazette issued. They are sent to honorable senators amongst other persons.
– I do not get one.
– Nor I.
– I think they are posted to honorable senators; I always get one.
– They can certainly be obtained by honorable senators. I understand that something like 2,000 copies of each issue aredistributed. They are available at all the post-offices, public libraries, and schools of arts. The proceeds or profits from the publication are merely nominal.
– Can any citizen of the Commonwealth obtain a copy of the Gazette free of charge?
– No. There would appear to be scarcely any public demand for the Gazette, and I am informed that the proceeds of the sale of the publication are purely nominal.
– I wish to direct attention to the vote of £1,000 for interpreters’ fees, legal and other expenses, in connexion with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. This is, a vote which’ will have to be increased’ in the future if we are to maintain at some Of our outoftheway ports’, especially on the north-west coast, the close scrutiny of vessels from eastern ports which is absolutely necessary. At present the only port in Western Australia at which it can be said that a close scrutiny is maintained to prevent the introduction of undesirable immigrants is the port of Fremantle. At the port? at which it is most likely that undesirable immigrants would be introduced, we have practically, no scrutiny. At the ports on the north-west coast of Western Australia, one officer has practically to carry out all Commonwealth work, and he is so busy when a ship arrives in looking after the work of the Customs Department, that he is unable to make the necessary inquiries to discover whether undesirable immigrants are stowed away in the vessel. I have frequently seen statements appearing in the newspapers which go to show that the number of Asiatics finding their way into the Commonwealth must be far in excess of the number indicated by the official figures. I hope that the Government will adopt some means to meet the difficulty. It will be of little use for this Parliament to have declared in favour of a White Australia policy unless we are able, by a closer scrutiny of vessels arriving at our out-of-the-way ports than has been possible in the past, to prevent the introduction of undesirable .immigrants,
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) [8.42I - I agree with much that’ has been said by Senator de Largie. Something should certainly be done to protect Australia against evasions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I do not know that any scrutiny of vessels arriving at our ports would be sufficient for the. purpose, and I should like to direct the attention of the Government to what I think is the only’ effective method of preventing imposition by aliens. Every alien in Australia, who is not entitled to vote as an elector for the Commonwealth should be obliged to obtain a certificate of residence on which his photograph or other means of identification should appear, and any such alien who cannot produce such a certificate should be at- -once deported. That; is. in’ my opinion, the only way in which the Immigration Restriction Act can be given full effect.
– The matter to which Senator de Largie has referred has been for some little time past under the consideration of the Department of External Affairs. The States Governments have been communicated with, and by their permission we are asking the police for certain reports in connexion with the matter. I shall be glad to bring the further representations made by Senators de Largie and McGregor under:the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I have a suggestion to make to the Department. From my knowledge of the north-west coast of Western Australia, I do not think that it is pos- . sime for us to station a sufficient number of officers at each port to insure the close scrutiny of vessels that is necessary. I make the suggestion that an officer should be appointed who should devote the whole of his time to this particular work. If a vessel be arriving from Singapore, he should go on board the vessel at the first port at which he touches, at Derby or Broome, for instance, and remain on board until she reaches Fremantle or is leaving Australia again. In that way he would come into touch with what was going on on board of a steamer much better than he could do by simply observing things from a wharf. I do not see how it is possible by any other method to secure that close scrutiny of immigrants which is an absolute necessity.
– Why not extend the system to Port Darwin and Thursday Island ?
– I have no ob- ‘ection. I I am merely suggesting a method bv which to deal with that part of the coast which I know. Of course, the same plan could be adopted in the Northern Territory and Queensland. In Western Australia we have had a number of cases where Chinese stowaways have -left the boat after it had been in Fremantle for nearly a week. It is practically impossible to prevent an influx of undesirable persons’ unless, the Commonwealth has an officer stationed on the boat.
.*- J am -very- much obliged - to my honorable friend for the suggestion which he has made. No doubt he will be very pleased to learn that the Prime Minister has requested the Customs t authorities in Western Australia to recommend a man for that very purpose. It is the intention of the Department to place a man on board of an incoming vessel.
– I hope that the Department will also put a man on the boats at Thursday Island and Port Darwin.
– If the experiment in Western Australia be successful, it will be an encouragement to the Department to extend it to Port Darwin and Thursday Island.
– We are entitled to some information from the Government with regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner, or how they propose to carry on the Commonwealth offices in London, for which a vote of £4,400 is required by the Department of External Affairs. Although the Commonwealth has existed for seven years, still we have not a High Commissioner in London, or any one to represent us officially. When the Constitution Bill was adopted b: the people, it was contemplated that the Commonwealth would have a High Commissioner in London, and thus obviate to a large extent the necessity and expense of maintaining six Agents-General for the States. But so far we have clone nothing in that direction, and successive Governments seem to have been too frightened of the State Governments to proceed to do anything definite.
– We cannot dp away with the position of Agent- General.
– No; but we can do away with the necessity for the States to maintain six Agents-General in London.
– The States are the fudges of that necessity, not the Commonwealth.
– It is our duty to fulfil our part of the task which was laid upon us by the people when they accepted the Constitution Bill. Successive Governments seem to have deferred too much to the opinions of State Governments. Year after year a Conference of State Premiers is held. The Government seem to take more notice of the State Premiers than they do of the body which was established under the Constitution to look after State rights and interests. The way iri which the Government are continually deferring to the opinion of the State Premiers, who very often are mere ephemeral creatures, is a slight .to the Senate. If senators are going to allow themselves to be overlooked in that manner, and their proper and due function to fall into abeyance, there is no reason -for the existence of the Seriate. Australia has been derided and libelled from one end of the Old Country to the other. The acts of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament have been denounced there, and we have not had in London a responsible officer to put an authoritative view before the public, who necessarily were forced to believe what they had heard or read against us.
– The gentleman we have in London is carrying out the work as well as could any High Commissioner.
– It is not contended by any one that Captain Collins is more than a mere makeshift High Commissioner.
– He may be doing the work quite as well as it would be done by a man with a higher title and a larger salary.
– Perhaps; but he has not yet made very much noise in London, nor does it appear to me that his work has been very effective in the direction I have indicated, and that is to defend Australia from slanderers and libellers.
– The man who gets most lime-light does not do most work.
– Will the honorable senator say that Captain Collins is the best man for the position?
– Our difficulty is to get a good man for the post.
– I do not think that Australia is suffering from such a dearth of suitable men, that it is impossible to find a High Commissioner. Another question on which I should like to get a little information is the prospect of the Commonwealth acquiring suitable offices in London. We are continually charged by the States with extravagance; but we find that Victoria, to which we return a large surplus every year, can afford to secure a site in London, and to build offices, while the Commonwealth is seemingly too poor to secure: a suitable site for that purpose. It is in danger of being overshadowed altogether by the States, when the people in the 013 Country will hardly know that we have a unified form of Government in regard to national affairs. Why should we indulge in a parsimonious policy in order to allow the States to launch out into extravagance at our expense? We are entitled to get an explanation from the representative of the Government. I hope that the High Commissioner . Bill will be passed as soon as possible, and that the Government will proceed to erect proper offices in London and appoint a suitable High Commissioner, so that the affairs of Australia may receive in the Old Country that clue and dignified attention to which thev are justlv entitled.
– Whether the States maintain or abolish their Agents-General, is a matter which rests entirely with themselves. The advantages or disadvantages which accrue from the maintenance of Agents-General in London is a matter entirely between the States and their own people. It ought not to be necessary to point out that fact in this Chamber. I agree with much of what Senator Givens said with regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner. But let us discuss the question of the High Commissionership and its duties without any reflection upon, or reference to, the Agents-General in London.
– I did not reflect upon any Agent-General or State.
– I am very pleased to hear that statement from the honorable senator.
– It does seem strange that after an existence of seven years, the Commonwealth has no representative in London. We hear a great deal on the subject ; but it appears to me that under the surface there is some reason why an appointment has not been made. It must be evident to every one that the Commonwealth should be represented by an official of that kind and standing in London. I should like to hear from the Government why a High Commissioner has not been appointed. I have heard many reasons for this dereliction of duty on their part. I have heard it whispered that some leading politicians are eagerly grasping or gasping for this political plum, that the Government cannot make up its mind to select a man, and that therefore Australia is not represented at the heart of the Empire. It appears to me that her interests are being deliberately sacrificed to those of a few grasping politicians.
– Oh !
– The honorable senator who interjects is probably in the running for the position. We should be very sorry to lose him, but I am sure that he would make a very good High Commissioner if we did send him to London. Anyhow, I think the Government ought to make an appointment. If the leading politicians to whom I have referred cannot agree, . why should they not draw lots for the appointment or shake dice for it? Why should they not play “ two-up “ and settle it in that fashion if they cannot settle it in some other way ? For goodness sake let us have some representative appointed. Senator St. Ledger took Senator Givens to task for referring to the States Agents-General. I understood that one of the reasons given for Federation was that one representative of Australia in London would be sufficient, that the various States agencies would be abolished, and that therefore a great saving would be accomplished as far as Australia generally was concerned. I should like to hear some statement from the Vice-President of the Executive Council as to the real reason why the position has not been filled. He might supplement that by giving us a reliable list of aspirants. I dare say that he knows a great deal more about the subject than he cares to disclose. The Government ought at any rate to weigh well the utterances of Senator Givens. We have Australia reviled and misrepresented every week in London, and there is no one in authority to answer back. That is a state of things that ought not to be permitted to continue.
– I do not for a moment discount the importance of an early appointment of a High Commissioner. I recognise that if the Commonwealth is to be truly and well represented in London we must endeavour to secure a man who will have no difficulty in upholding the interests of Australia in the heart of the Empire. I may say, in passing, that during the last twelve months Australia has had the unique advantage of having the Prime Minister himself in London, and I will venture to say that no man within the limited time at his disposal could have dispelled so many of the misconceptions and misrepresentations which existed in a discreditable form in’ regard to the Commonwealth.
– We cannot always have the Prime Minister in London.
– That is true. But the great advantage of his temporary presence there will not, I am sure, be discounted by honorable senators. I admit that the work in London has been very efficiently done by a limited number of officers. But it is not to be considered for one moment that the results are completely satisfactory. We have already given a promise that a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner will be introduced this year. Of course it is quite impossible in the closing hours of the session to attempt to deal with an important subject of this kind. But we have no difficulty in giving honorable senators the promise that a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner will be introduced. It is of equal importance that we should also select an eligible site for Commonwealth offices in London. We thought that we had a reasonable chance of obtaining a site which appeared to us to be an eligible one if we could secure it on reasonable terms. . We considered that the preliminary negotiations which took place while my two colleagues, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, were in London, would eventuate in securing the Strand site.
– I. do not think that the Minister will be in order in discussing that question on this item.
– The question has been raised; but if I am relievedfrom replying further I shall be glad.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.7]. - It is particularly refreshing to hear some of the members of the party of economymaking such a splendid demonstration of tragic profligacy. But what in the world do we want a High Commissioner in London for? What would he have to do? We have no debt; there is no immigration. He might occasionally have a gaol bird to capture, but that would appear to be rather the function of the officers of Scotland Yard than of a High Commissioner. I do not know what he would have to do, except perhaps to be a kind of modern Mr. Turveydrop, professor of deportment. What else, in the name of thunder, would he have to do? Who can tell me? I would suggest that the representation of the Commonwealth in London might be very readily met by a succession of perambulating senators - one at a time. But if we want Australia to be thoroughly represented, what is the matter with sending a father, mother, and progeny of Australian rabbits ? They would be a splendid advertisement of the fecundity of Australia.
– Is all this in order?
– The honorable senator himself is occasionally in the condition that he has just named. As to the adequate representation of the Commonwealth in London - has not Senator Pulsford been there lately? Has he not kept up the Australian end with a brilliancy of declamation and a splendid vigor that have caused him to return crowned with laurels? I wish to draw attention to an extraordinariystate of affairs that has existed for some time in connexion with the gentleman who is at presentacting as our London representative, but whose services are most eminently necessary in connexion’ with the Government defence scheme. The Secretary of Defence has been displaying deportment in London, particularly in connexion with the mail contract that was not a contract, but only an option. We ought to have that officer out here. Either he is a superfluous officer in Australia, or he ought to be here. I cannot understand, when the whole policy of defence is in the balance; the permanent head of the administrative branch being absent from Australia for years together.
– The salary of that officer is provided for under another heading.
– I am merely mentioning that as one of the extraordinary features in connexion with this item. Not only is the Secretary of Defence absent, but he is still down on the Estimates as Secretary of Defence. I notice that he has no fewer than four clerks to help him in London. I can quite understand the necessity for them if he’ has a large number of contracts to make like that with James Laing and Sons. I also observe that the sum of £3,200 is down for contingencies. Imagine that large sum being spent on contingencies, when the four clerks draw between them only £450.
– The vote for contingent cies contains an excess amount of £1.000, which was to be a preliminary deposit in connexion with the contemplated contract for the Strand site.
– We are told in a footnote that the total vole does not include’ the salary of the officer in charge. That is dealt with elsewhere. So that we are spending a fair amount of moneyon our representation in London, and getting very little advantage from it. The results have been exceedingly unhappy during the last two years. I may mention by way of illustration the mail contract and the rifles, with which one cannot hit a hay-stack. Perhaps the Minister will kindly give me some information about a matter in which I take a keen interest, namely, the sum of £650 for the collection of historical records. Is that money to be spent in London or is it to be spent in collating and editing records in Australia?
– From the remarks made on the subject of the representation of the Commonwealth in London it would seem that some honorable senators are never satisfied unless an enormous expenditure is being incurred. Complaint has been made that the office in London is conducted with a staff comprising only four clerks at very moderate salaries. Unless we are making a great splash in London with an enormous staff, some honorable senators seem to think that we are doing nothing. Personally, I think that we are incurring quite as much expenditure in connexion with the office as is justifiable. What do we desire a staff in London for at the present time ? There are many things to be settled in connexion with Federal politics before we establish a London office on a large scale. Until the changes that are necessary take place, and the Commonwealth Parliament has passed legislation dealing with certain very important matters of finance, I do not see that we require to incur larger expenditure in London. We have a very satisfactory officer there now. What are his principal duties? As far as I know they consist of the purchase of material required for defence purposes. CaptainCollins is just as well fitted for that work as any man whom we could send to London. I am quite sure that Captain Collins will carry out the duties connected with the advertising of Australia and the correction of misrepresentation as well as could any man whose name has been mentioned as likely to be appointed High Commissioner. Several persons have been mentioned from time to time. The most satisfactory, so far as I can judge, is the present Prime Minister. But we are informed that the Prime Minister will have nothing to do with the position. Mr. Watson, whose name has also been mentioned, will not accept the appointment either. Whom can we send there to be more satisfactory?
SenatorStewart. - SirJohn Forrest.
– No doubt he would get much of the limelight and spend all the money we could supply, but I have grave doubts whether the work of the office would be done any more satisfactorily under his guidance than by the present occupant of ‘the position. I am satisfied with the work that is going on there. The cost is quite high enough. There is no need to be in a hurry to have an enormous bill to foot for our representation at the heart of the Empire, as Senator Stewart phrases it. We are getting very good service for the money, seeing that there is only a small staff of four officer’s, whose salaries do not exceed a total of £550. If we had a larger bill to. foot, an outcry would be raised that altogether too much money was being spent in our London offices.
– My complaint is not as to the small amount - £550 - set down for the London offices, but I really wonder what services have been, or may be, rendered to Australia in return for that expenditure. As a young nation, we are not represented in London as we ought to be.
– We are often misrepresented there.
– That is a very pertinent interjection. The only man that I know of who has effectively replied to the calumnies against and misrepresentations of Australia has been Mr. Coghlan, the present Agent- General for New South Wales. He has dealt effectively with the slanders uttered against Australia and Australian methods by people who have made their money in Australia, and have gone Home to spend it. I was hopeful, from statements made at the beginning of this session, that steps would be taken ere now by the Government to settle once and for all the question of the representation of Australia in London, and also of erecting there a building which would reflect credit upon this young nation.
– It would run us into about a quarter of a million of money.
– I do not agree with that statement at all.
– Why is the honorable senator in such a violent hurry to go to the unnecessary expense of erecting a palatial building in London ?
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the question of a new building.
– Would I not be in order in pointing out the amount of expenditure necessary for a building of pur own, as compared with the rent which we pav for the present one?
– The honorable senator was referring to the question of the site for a new building, which is dealt with in a separate Bill. He can deal with the present office for which the rent set out in the schedule is paid.
– The present office is entirely inadequate to the requirements of the Commonwealth. Without attempting to depreciate the abilities, energy, and zeal of Captain Collins, who tentatively represents Australia, I consider that we have no standing there as a Commonwealth. There are in London the High Commissioner of the Dominion of New Zealand, and the High Commissioner of the Dominion of Canada. Will any honorable senator suggest that the representation of Captain Collins, good man though he may be, is as effective as would be that of a man occupying the position of High Commissioner of Australia? I do not say that if Captain Collins were appointed High Commissioner to-morrow he would not be as good as, or better than, any gentleman whose name has been so far suggested for the position. But at present he has no status, and cannot carry the weight that a properly appointed High Commissioner would carry. The question of the Agents-General of the States has been raised by Senator St. Ledger. _ I should like to see those positions entirely abolished. I am just as eager to abolish them as I am anxious to abolish the Legislative Councils and the Governors of the various States. All that we want is one Governor-General in Australia, and one High Commissioner to represent the whole Commonwealth in the Old Land.
– Honorable senators have reason to be well satisfied with the efficient manner in which Captain Collins has managed the offices of the Commonwealth in London.
– Then why did the honorable senator promise just now to introduce a High Commissioner Bill before the end of the year?
– For present purposes and until the High Commissioner is appointed, Captain Collins is doing most excellent work. By his management of money intended for the purchase of defence material, and by his investments, he has shown a profit which more than covers the cost of the London offices. He has also, by his representations in regard to insurance and freights, and in connexion with the despatch of various orders, rendered valuable service. He does all this with a staff, besides himself, of an accountant, three clerks, two typists, and a message boy. He has certainly shown splendid business capacity, and has done all that was ever expected of him in his temporary occupation of the position. Senator Needham asked for information as to the item °f £650 for the collection of Australian historical records. This work is practically a continuation of what was originally started by the New South Wales Government. All the archives of London and other places were searched for records connected with- Australian history. These have been edited by Mr. Bladen, in New South Wales, and a report published by him was printed and circulated as a parliamentary paper in 1903. Mr. Bladen is still engaged in editing the results of the researches. None of the £650 has been spent in London, but £250 of it has been used to meet expenses incurred by Mr. Bladen in Australia.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.25]. - I am exceedingly pleased with the statement which the Minister- has just made. The records of Australian history, placed by the New South Wales Government in the very capable hands of Mr. Bladen, who is now Chief Librarian in Sydney, have been brought up to, perhaps, the most interesting point in Australian history the immense development which took place during the governorship of -Governor Macquarie. I am delighted to hear that this most important work is being carried on by the Commonwealth,’ and by a gentleman who has proved his capacity so thoroughly as Mr. Bladen has done.
. - The administration of Papua is a matter of considerable moment.- especially at the present time. Revelations have recently been made with regard to the administration of the Possession which call for the gravest consideration by Parliament, and the Government. Attention has-been called every year by certain honorable senators in the most emphatic way to the administration of Papua, and we were pleased to see a little while ago that the Government seemed inclined to inaugurate a new regime and to put affairs upon a more satisfactory footing. But the recent revelations have shown that, however good their intentions may have been, success has not yet crowned their efforts. I refer to what are called the land scandals, which show that certain officials in Papua have been, to say the least of it, practically conspiring together to pick the eyes out of the country, and to get hold of the best parts for themselves, actually using their official positions to further their designs. If the statements in the papers that have been placed at the disposal of honorable senators are correct, a disgraceful state of affairs is disclosed which should not be allowed to continue for a moment longer. It is a repetition of what took place in every State in Australia, and for which Australia is paying very dearly now, when the old-time cliques who ruled the roost in the young days of the States combined and conspired together to collar the pick of the country for themselves and their friends, to the detriment of Australia and almost to the extent of stopping settlement in the most suitable areas. With all the experience of those days to guide us, the Government should be exceedingly careful to guard against a repetition of that sort of thing in Papua. It has been suggested that things have not had time to settle down there yet, but are in a state of transition. It is true that at present we have no permanent administrator at the head of Papuan affairs. I always understood that the present Acting Administrator, Judge Murray, was to be appointed to that position. I have a personal acquaintance with about one-half of the white settlers in Papua, and I frequently receive letters from them, and from others with whom I have no personal acquaintance, and every letter which I have recently received, either from those whom I know, or from those whom I do not know, refers in the highest terms to Judge Murray, and makes the claim that he is undoubtedly the best qualified man they have ever had for the position of permanent Administrator. I do not know Judge Murray at all, but I give the opinion of him formed by men on the spot, who have to live under him and should have the best opportunities of judging the merits of his methods of administration. In references to the land scandals, it has been suggested in some of the newspapers that Mr. Staniforth Smith who was at one time a respected member of the Senate, is an aspirant for the position of Administrator. I know that when he was a member of the Senate he did aspire to that position, but since his appointment to his present official position in New Guinea, he has been satisfied, and is no longer an aspirant for the position of permanent head of the Government in the Territory. That being so, it is hardly fair to suggest that there is any rivalry between him and Judge Murray for this position. The difficulties which have recently arisen in the Territory have been due to the fact that the old nest, or coterie, or clique of officials has not been completely rooted out as it ought to have been. Attention was called from time to time to their misdeeds, but some of them have been allowed to continue in office, and. Mr. Staniforth Smith and Judge Murray appear to have been powerless to withstand them or to defeat their machinations. For the last four years attention has been called in the Senate to the misgovernment of the little clique of officials in the Territory who arrogated to themselves the right to run the country in their own interests. I believe that the Government have tried,’ and are trying, to improve the administration of affairs in the Territory. ‘ I give them credit for that, but their methods have not been nearly drastic or radical enough. It is impossible to convert a bad administration into a good one by merely grafting on to it one or two good men, whilst the old clique or coterie is left untrammelled. Mr. Staniforth Smith is only one member of the Land Board of Papua, and it is possible for the other members of the Board to overrule him. From the information we have received, it is not possible for anyone to say exactly what are the merits or demerits of the case in connexion with the alleged land scandals. I shall not on that account make any further reference to the matter than to say that the disclosures already made indicate a grave condition of affairs which should be improved at the earliest possible moment. I repeat that the action of the Government in trying to improve the administration has not been sufficiently drastic. They should have entirely weeded out the members of the old clique, whose administration for a number of years has resulted in nothing but dissatisfaction to the white people living in the Territory, and to every one who has business with it. To show that the white residents are eminently reasonable and are prepared to support fair and honest administration, let me repeat my statement that they all speak now in the highest terms of the Acting Administrator, Judge Murray. That being so, the Government should take a further step, and appoint this gentleman to the position of permanent head of the administration in Papua. They should give him full power to deal effectively with the officials who have been carrying on a course of misconduct that has been a disgrace to the Commonwealth as the controlling authority. The Government cannot say that they have not been warned in this matter. Year after year, I have stood up in this chamber, and tried to induce the Government to bundle out the misdoing officials neck and crop.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer as the officials who ought to be bundled out ?
– There was a clique of them. Mr. Staniforth Smith, as a member of the Senate, frequently called attention to the misdoings of some of them. We are responsible for the proper government of the Territory, and we cannot shirk our responsibility. We have no doubt two good men there at present in Judge Murray and Mr. Staniforth Smith, but the Government’ should deal. in a drastic way with officials who in at least one instance have been proved to be guilty of wrong-doing. We are far removed from Papua, not, perhaps from the point of view of the actual distance which separates the Territory from the Commonwealth, but from the ppint of view of the difficulty of ready communication. We cannot in the circumstances secure good government by a system of centralization, and the Government should appoint as Administrator the man on the spot in whom they have confidence, and in whom the white residents have confidence, and should give him full authority to deal with wrongdoing officials. In view of the difficulty of ready communication with Papua, when one instance of wrong-doing has been brought to light we can assume that many others have occurred which have not been discovered. Complaints have been frequently received from the Territory from men who have gone there to open up the country and improve it, but they have fallen upon deaf ears, and those who have made them have received very little satisfaction. Now we have absolute proof of wrong-doing - if the papers forwarded by the Acting Administrator are to be admitted as proof-on the part of a clique of officials who wished to enrich themselves at the expense of the country and every one living in it. Another point I should like to mention in this connexion is that I do not think we can have any thorough system of communication with Papua until we have established the check of public opinion upon the officials in the Territory. The white residents have continually petitioned this Parliament and the Federal Government to give them some voice in the management of the affairs of the Territory. We, who believe in home rule for Australia, and for every other part of the Empire, should’ be prepared to apply the principle in the Territory under our own control. The white residents of Papua have claimed representation upon the local Legislative Council. It is at present composed entirely of officials who are the judges of their own conduct and the directors of their own methods of action, and some representation of the white residents on the Council would be a salutary check upon it, and has been asked for time and again.. This is to me an exceedingly important question, but as honorable senators appear to be animated by a desire to deal with the Estimates as quickly as possible I shall not dwell upon it as long as I should otherwise do. I will only add that the Committee has a right to expect from the Minister representing the Government in the Senate some authoritative declaration of the intentions of the Government in connexion with Papua.
– I do not think that Senator Givens need make any apology or excuse for taking up a little of the time of the Committee in considering the question of the administration of Papua. Papers laid on the table in both Houses of the Federal Parliament show that it would be well for us to wait for a time before speaking very strongly about what is occurring there. Some very important matters are, to use a legal phrase, at present sub judice. But the papers show that the question of the administration of Papua is one of the most important which can engage the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament. I take a very great interest in the Territory, and settlers there, and persons otherwise interested in it have spoken very strongly to me about the work of Government there. From what I can gather from those persons, and from the papers to which I have referred, it would appear that the administration of affairs in Papua at the present time is in a critical position, and much will depend on the course which the Government pursue in regard to two important matters. They must make up their minds as to who is to be the responsible officer charged with the administration of affairs in New Guinea. I have been very much pleased with what Senator Givens has had to say on this subject, because I am in a position to indorse his remarks. From every source of inquiry ‘and information, it is clear that the claims of Judge Murray to the position of Administrator ‘ are particularly strong. It is to be hoped that when the permanent appointment is dealt with, the express wishes of the Legislative Council of Papua, as well as of the white settlers in the Territory, will be given careful consideration. Probably, we should be in closer touch with Papua than we are now, and it is a difficult question to decide how we can be brought into closer touch with that Territory. We have a precedent in the representation given in Congress to Territories of the United States before they had become States. The United States Congress provided that when a Territory which was looking forward to representation in Congress, possessed a certain population, it should be entitled to elect a representative who, without a vote in Congress, should be given a consultative power. ‘ He might be consulted in one of the chambers - I think the Senate. It might be possible for us to adopt a similar practice in dealing with Papua, and in that way give some representation in the Federal Parliament to the Legislative Council of the Territory. Whether we should follow the lines adopted in the United States, or should mark out a new course for ourselves, is a difficult question to determine, but the administration of Papua so far has, unfortunately, been attended with mistakes which have been more or less tragical.
– I do not think that the honorable senator’s representation of the position of Territories of the United States is quite correct.
– I do not. say that it is ; but I have made the suggestion as indicating a precedent which, if followed, might bring us into closer touch with the administration of affairs in Papua.
– The status of Territories of the United States has been under the consideration of the Government in connexion with the administration of Papua.
– I am very glad to hear that that aspect of the questibn has been considered. A desire that it should be given consideration is my excuse for making these remarks. The future of Papua is one of the most important questions with which the Government will have to deal. I hope that what has been said here will receive the most earnest consideration at their hands, and that no clique inside or outside Papua will interfere with the policy which we think is designed to promote its best interests. We have a sufficiently strong indication of how and where wrong has been done. We have also a clear indication of how and where we may do right. I hope sincerely that this will be the last occasion on which it will be necessary to make any complaint concerning the administration of the Territory.
– The various matters which have Been mentioned by honorable senators are worthy of the consideration, and, as a matter of fact, have received the attention of the Government. The manner in which the Government viewed the revelations in regard to certain land scandals in Papua, may, perhaps, be judged best by the severe terms of the last minute on the subject by the Prime Minister. There were three officials primarily implicated. One was Mr. Drummond, who was a surveyor ; and the others were Mr. Pinney and Mr. Ardlie. It was recommended by the Executive Council that Mr. Drummond should be suspended, and he has been. It was . recommended that Mr. Pinney should be fined £25, and I believe that no punishment or award has been made in the case of Mr. Ardlie. When a full report of the case arrived, it received grave and lengthy consideration from the Prime Minister, who wrote the following minute -
The offences herein indicated appear to call for the severest punishment, but at present I am quite unable to account for the penalty proposed to be inflicted upon Mr. Pinney, or the omission of Mr. Ardlie. Though occupying a much less responsible position than Mr. Drummond, Mr. Pinney’s conduct in the second application seems at least as culpable. Having regard to his behaviour in the two. cases mentioned, a fine of £25 is wholly inadequate, and the fact that this fine is all that is suggested in his case embarrasses me in considering the matter in which Mr. Drummond’s abuse of his office should be dealt with. A further report, convening the opinion of the Executive Council, and also your own opinion upon the relative responsibility of these three offenders, should be made by telegraph. The penalities to be imposed ought to be adjusted in relation to each other as well as to wrong-doing. Information is also required why Mr. Ardlie’s participation in this matter has apparently passed unnoticed.
I feel somewhat reluctant to enter at any great length into these matters; nor .do I think it necessary to do more than say that the Government consider that these cases must be treated with the utmost severity, provided, ‘ of course, that the charges of misconduct are conclusively proved. It was the belief that they had not been dealt with sufficiently severely which caused the Prime Minister, before he accepted the recommendation of the Executive Council, to require, further information as to the apparent disparity in regard to the punishment. The minute indicates the views of the Government on the subject of reprimanding, in the severest way, anything approaching the appearance of a land scandal.
– Does the honorable senator think that officials found guilty of such an offence as conspiring to obtain land for themselves, should be maintained in the service?
– That is precisely the aspect of the matter the Government will deal with as soon as they have obtained full information. The Prime Minister has laid down, in strict terms, the regulations which it is proposed must be observed in regard to any interest which an officer shall acquire in any lands in Papua. There is no necessity for me- to quote the regulations, as they have been circulated’ amongst honorable ‘senators. But they go to impress upon the Executive Council the necessity for taking the utmost precaution to prevent the taking up of land by officials directly. Under certain circumstances, and with the direct permission of the Administrator, they may be permitted to hold shares in a company, but that is a matter for the exercise of his discretion.
– I do not think that they should hold shares in these companies.
– My honorable friend will find that the terms of the regulations are very stringent.
– They will always favour the company in which they are interested.
– The Administrator will be in a position to judge whether or not his consent should be given. My honorable friend has referred to a clique of old officials.
– It was the constant complaint of - most of the white people in Papua that if they did not act in consonance with the wishes of that particular clique they would be practically hounded out of the country.
– It appears to me that during the last two or three years there has been an extraordinary turning out of officials. During last year alone no fewer than fourteen officials have left the place, and from that stand-point there has been a decided purging, which will be extended if those who are mainly implicated in the land scandals lose their offices. My honorable friend also contended that the people in the Territory should have direct representation in the Legislative Council. According to the Commonwealth Statute there is to be an Executive Council consisting of, I think, six principal officers, and a Legislative Council including the members of the Executive Council and three persons nominated by the Government.
– But not a single elected representative.
– That is quite true: but it should be borne in mind that, although Papua is of about the same area as is Victoria - 88,000 ‘square miles - it contains only 750 or 800 white people. One can hardly think that it has been sufficiently developed and populated with white persons to justify a further instalment of selfgovernment such as has been suggested.
– Those 800 white persons ought to be entitled to a representative.
– Ultimately that must happen, but we have to proceed most carefully. My honorable friend must see that in a Territory where the white population is so limited the election of representatives might lead to serious abuses.
– If one-third of the members of the Legislative Council were elected, would they not be a useful check upon the officials?
– Undoubtedly there is much to commend what has been suggested by my honorable friend, and that will be the natural development of affairs. The Government will take the responsibility of appointing an Administrator within the next month or two. We require a strong, able man for the purpose of discharging the important duties of the position. The name of Mr. Staniforth Smith has been mentioned. It has been with much satisfaction that we have noticed the splendid work that he has been’ able to do, and the progress which .has been made in the Territory, which was only taken over on’ the 1st September, 1906, has been very satisfactory. I propose to quote only the more important developments which have taken place -
Since the new land law came into operation there have been 163 applications granted for 128,922 acres. Now there are fifty plantations actually at work. A handbook, giving particulars likely to be useful to intending settlers or investors has been published, and has met With a very considerable demand. The work of surveying has been delayed owing partly to the difficulty of procuring suitable men, but arrears are being rapidly overhauled, and no serious inconvenience has yet been met by planters. During the last twelve months an Agricultural Department has been established, which has purchased 742,500 rubber seeds, and has sold to planters 40,000 Para rubber trees and 95,000 Sisal hemp plants which have been raised in its nurseries. Seven Government plantations have been started, in which over 100 kinds of plants of economic value are now growing. ‘ Plantations have also been begun at the head-quarters of the Resident Magistrates. Analyses of soil have been made, and reports obtained of specimens of tobacco, fibre, ite. Classification of native plants has been commenced. A botanical library has been inaugurated, and works are available for the use of residents. Attention has been given to the development of the timber industry in regard to which a new law has been passed. An expert is now at work on behalf of the Government examining native timber and classifying it. A vigorous policy of road construction has been entered upon. Cart roads and bridle tracks are being opened to the “centres where agricultural settlement is most likely to occur.
In accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission a sum of £5,000 has been placed on the Estimates for that purpose.
Roads have been made in mining districts from Tamata to the Gira, and from Buna Bay to the Yodda; in the central division, from Port Moresby to the Astrolabe, continuing through Sogeri and Kemp Welch districts to Hood Bay. The entrance to Port Moresby has been surveyed and marked with beacons and buoys, so that vessels may now enter in all weathers and at all times.
– Has the honorable senator any return showing the amount which has been spent on road-making?
– I understand that about £1,000 has been spent, and we have intimated that a vote of £5,000 will be available shortly. Mr. Staniforth Smith, whom we all know, is responsible, and entitled to credit for most if not all of the reforms to which I have referred. There has been a distinct developmental policy, energetically pursued, and I am quite sure that, had it not been for the unfortunate land scandals, the report from Papua would have been of an exceedingly satisfactory character.
– As a representative of a State not far removed from Papua, and as one intimately acquainted with . the conditions there, I have to congratulate the Government on. the proposal to devote £5,000 to the development ‘of the Possession. I think that this is the first ‘time that the item has appeared on the Estimates. We used to spend £20,000 per annum on the administration, but the whole sum was swallowed up in official salaries and office expenses, and the amount devoted to the development of the country was infinitesimal. I hold that £5.000 is not a sufficient sum. Although excellent work has been done by Mr. Staniforth Smith in organizing the Agricultural Department, and in other developmental work, yet he has not been able to do as much as is desirable, especially in the making of roads to the gold-fields. I have had a long and varied experience in connexion with roads in North Queensland, where the conditions are similar to those in Papua. To make a road through miles of scrub such as we have in that part of the country, a considerable amount of money is requisite.
– In a tropical country we have to go slowly in the matter of expenditure, especially on such works as roads.
– How are settlers and prospectors to get over the country un- - less they have roads to travel on ? How many miles of roads does the Minister think could be made for £1,000 through Queensland scrub? In former days, it ‘ was considered nothing for the Queensland Government to make special grants of £500 and £1,000 to make roads to the gold-fields.
– Settlement should precede road-making.
– But the miners have been hard at work in Papua for years with hardly a single track to travel over. The honorable senator seems to be unable to comprehend anything beyond the shibboleth of the “fat men” down here in Melbourne.
– To-night the honorable senator is all for “ spend, spend, spend.” To-morrow it will be all “economize, economize, economize,” with him.
– I want to. see money spent where the spending of it will be profitable. It is all very well for an honorable senator who lives in Melbourne, where one can travel about in a tramcar over good suburban roads paved with macadam or wood blocks, to object to good roads being made for the miners of Papua.
– How does the honorable senator know that part of this vote is not for the making of roads?
– I hope that a good part of it will be devoted to that purpose, but the amount is not sufficient.
– We do not want to make roads to the moon.
– But we do want to make roads to minimize the hardships which white people have to endure in Papua. We cannot develop a Territory like this without opening it up by means of roads. We ought to give every assistance to the men who are doing good work in parts of the country where there is not even ‘a mule track, and where native carriers have to be employed to carry the tucker and goods of the miners seventy or eighty miles in some’ instances. We ought to do all we can to develop the country, and especially to enable the white men who are working there to pursue their avocations profitably. A man has a very small chance of pursuing mining at a profit when he can get only enough to pay for the carrying of his tucker and tools to the place where he works. The making of a road may mean all the difference between conducting mining profitably or otherwise. While I congratulate the Government on this step in advance, I cannot help thinking that £5,000 is quite insufficient. We shall promote the prosperity of Papua to a very much greater extent if we spend more money in developing the country, which I am satisfied is capable of carrying a large and prosperous population. I earnestly hope that the Government will not pursue a parsimonious policy, but will do all that is possible to encourage the settlers who. in any case, have to undergo very many and severe hardships, and who deserve all the consideration that we can extend to them.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Austra
Givens has said, I should very much like to submit a request for an increased vote. I am sorry that it is not possible to do so. I long ago came to the conclusion that £5,000 was not a sufficient sum to promote a proper development policy in Papua. The discrepancy between the expenditure of £20,000 on the administration, and a paltry £5,000 on development is remarkable.’ I recognise the difficulties attaching to developing such a country. I also recognise the valuable work that has been performed by the present director of agriculture, mines and lands. I know that he is capable of doing very much more useful work. There is ample scope for his abilities and energies in making the Possession very much more valuable than it is atpresent. I support the contention of Senator Givens that £5,000 is inadequate for promoting the policy of development as rapidly as it ought to be promoted, in view of the richness of the country committed to our charge.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President . of the Executive Council whether he can give the Committee any information as to the participants in the vote of £500 to assist indigent Australian men of letters?
– A Committee was appointed some time ago in connexion with this matter, and a report from them was laid before Parliament in October last. So far no money has been expended.
– Is it proposed to expend money on those who are deserving of a grant, and if so. who are to get it?
– It is proposed that there shall be representatives of each State to inquire into the merits of claims.
– Who are to compose the State Committees ?
– I understand that they are to be appointed next week.
– Is there any limit to the time within which claims can be made ?
– Regulations will be framed in connexion with the administration of the fund. Particulars will be notified in due course.
– I wish to direct attention to the vote of £20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. This is the first time that such a vote has appeared on the. Estimates. It marks the introduction of a policy of immigration, which is a most important subject for us to consider.
– If my honorable friend will allow me to intervene, I will explain tlie position. The sum of £20,000 has been placed on the Estimates, and the unexpended portion of it will lapse on the 30th June. The Prime Minister has declared that he intends to place on next year’s Estimates a sum of money for- the purposes of an immigration policy. Before that is dealt with, the Prime Minister, will expound the policy of the Government on the subject. When that is done, there will be .a favorable opportunity for discussing the whole question completely. This item is simply an expiring item, in connexion with which we have not been able to carry out all that we desired. As a matter of fact, only £1,503 has been expended, partly in connexion with Reuter’s telegrams, and partly on the purchase of copies of a publication called Australia To-day. The distribution of 5,000 copies of Prolific Australia was also undertaken. Several items of that character accounted for £1,503. The £20,000, therefore, is an expiring vote, and will be revived on the next Estimates. The Government will then declare their policy in connexion with that vote. This ‘ amount might, .in the circumstances, be permitted to go.
– Probably the time indicated by the Minister would be the best at which to debate this important question. I will yield to his wish, and thank him for his suggestion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney-General - Clerical Staff - Defence of Prisoners - High Court : Tipstaffs : Travelling Expenses - Court of Conciliation and Arbitration : Advertising: Travelling Expenses.
Divisions 17 to 20 (Attorney-General’s Department), proposed vote, £14,289.
– Will the Minister explain the reason for the new expenditure of £310 for a clerk in Grade D? What are that officer’s duties, and what were the reasons for the appointment ?
– I cannot detail the officer’s duties. In the work of the office it was found necessary to obtain further assistance, and, therefore, this professional officer was appointed.
– Who are the prisoners for which the item of £20 for “ Defence of prisoners ‘ ‘ is required ?
– This is in connexion with a provision of the Judicature Act, by which criminals, upon the Judge’s certificate, may receive professional assistance.
.- Provision is made under the division “ High Court “ for one tipstaff at £175, two at £156, and two at £144. Why the differentiation in salaries? Are not the duties similar ?
– One of the tipstaffs is a senior officer, who was transferred at the salary he now receives. The two last appointed receive the minimumsalary for the office, arid in due time will be entitled to increments.
– Are these .officers appointed by the respective Judges?
– They are Commonwealth officers, appointed by the GovernorGeneral, but no doubt the Judges are, to som.e extent, consulted.
– Is their remuneration fixed by the Public Service Commissioner?
– It is fixed under the Public Service Act, and they are remunerated according to their class.
– Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council state how much of the £3,000 for travelling expenses for the High Court has been spent?
– It will all- be spent. Last year £2,950 was spent.
– What does the. item of £100 for advertising, under the division “Court of Conciliation and Arbitration,” mean?
– It is for advertising awards, common rules, and general notices in newspapers.
– Why is lt necessary to provide £250 for travelling expenses for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in view of the liberal travelling expenses allowed in connexion with the High Court under the last division? What particular travelling expenses are provided for by this item?’
– This provision is made for cases where the President of the Court has to travel in connexion with the work of the Court. Very little was expended in that way last year, and I am not certain whether all this sum will be spent, but it is provided to be available if necessary.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Home Affairs - Recoup of Election Expenses - Electoral Office : Western Australia - Collection of Statistics - Commonwealth Year-Book - Office Cleaners - Medical Officers’ Retaining Fees - Gratuities’ for Valuable and Practical Suggestions. - Map of Australasia - Lighthouses.
Divisions 21 to 29 (Department of Home
Affairs), proposed vote, £234,036.
– Is there not some item relating to candidates’ expenses at the recent South Australian election?
– It was intended to make certain provision in the Supplementary Estimates to meet what the honorable senator is thinking of, but since the Supplementary Estimates were introduced in another place, it has been decided to make special provision under a special Act to meet the special circumstances of this case. On previous occasons, in connexion with the Melbourne election and the Riverina election, special provision was made by the Government for recouping certain candidates the expenses they incurred in connexion with elections afterwards avoided on account of the fault of Government officials. We intend to follow the like course in this case. The only matter now under consideration is the extent to which the Government should recognise its responsibility for certain legal costs. The fullest consideration will be given by the Government to the whole of the circumstances, and the Government will recognise their responsibility without taking any course that may hereafter be calculated to induce defeated candidates to indiscriminately enter upon a course of litigation.
– The various sums set out under the Division of “ Electoral Office “ are very small. I have a suspicion that they do not cover the whole of the cost, and that there are other items in the Estimates connected with ‘ the expenses of the office. Only £185 is set down for Western
Australia. I am afraid there is room for criticism of this office, at all events in that State. There was previously room for very much criticism, but we at last obtained a man who seemed to .understand the working of our electoral laws. The Minister of Home Affairs gave a specific promise on the floor of the Senate that that officer at Perth would be permanently appointed to the head of the Western Australian branch, but he was riot appointed, and the Department lost one of the ablest men in electoral matters in Western Australia. I do not know who has been put in charge of the work in that State, but I am sure that he is not a better man. Is the Minister certain that we shall not get into the same confused state in our electoral affairs in Perth as obtained prior to the appointment of the man whose services were dispensed with? The moment he left the Commonwealth service he was snapped up by the State authorities, who knew a good man, and gave him a position in the State Electoral Office. I regret to say that a certain amount of influence that was not at all creditable to the Government, in view of the definite promise given by the Minister, was brought to bear to get rid of that officer. .There was a scandal in connexion with his dismissal. I suppose we shall have to wait to ascertain whether the present occupant of the position can do the work better than it was done before that gentleman took it over. Does this item represent the total expense of the Electoral Office in Western Australia?
– The honorable senator has made some reference to the apparent smallness of these votes, but I direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that they refer only to the Chief Electoral Officer, the senior clerk, and other officers of the central branch of the Department, and also , to the salaries provided for the Chief Electoral Officer in each of the different States. As honorable senators are aware, many of the officers discharging electoral duties in .the different States are not confined simply to the performance of that work. In any case these votes do not apply to the general rank and file, if I may so refer to them, of-the officers of the Electoral administration, who are ‘officers of the Post and Telegraph and Customs Departments, and other Commonwealth officers in various parts of the different States, but to the head officers bf the Electoral administration in each of the
State capitals, and the officers of the central staff. That is a reason why the vote appears small, but if honorable senators will analyze it, they will find that it provides for fairly reasonable remuneration to the officers concerned. With regard to the question raised by Senator de Largie as to the appointment of an officer in Perth, so far as the particular officer to whom he has made reference is concerned, I believe that he was a very excellent officer.
– He was the best man we ever had in the office in Western Australia.
– That may be so, but there were reasons, for which the Government or myself cannot be held responsible, butfor which I suppose Parliament might be held responsible, why that particular officer could not be appointed in certain circumstances. Senator de Largie referred just now to a statement I made on the floor of the Senate. The honorable senator knows as well as I do that when I made that statement I was carrying out duties in this Chamber as an honorary Minister, and after a reference to the officer of the Home Affairs Department, who happened to be in the Minister’s box on the occasion, I stated that the position which this officer wasthen occupying was a temporary position, and it was intended that it should be made a permanent one. If I did not make that clear that was certainly the information I received. It may be that in transmitting the information to the Senate, I conveyed the impression that instead of the position itself being converted from a temporary to a permanent one, this temporary officer was to be appointed permanently.
– The honorable senator said that this officer was to be made a permanent officer.
– That may be so, but in making the statement I was acting for the Minister of Home Affairs in connexion with a Department over which I had no personal control, and I endeavoured to convey as well as I could the information given me by a permanent officer of the Department. I would not for a moment attempt to shelter myself behind any. officer, and say that I was misinformed. I have read what 1 said on the occasion referred to, and I accept the full measure of personal responsibility. I was suddenly asked for information upon a matter of which I knew nothing. I was informed by the officer in attendance that the temporary position was to be made a permanent one, and I may have conveyed the impression, though, if I did, it was without design, that the particular officer occupying the temporary position was to be made a permanent officer. I take full responsibilityfor that, but any one in the same circumstances might have taken and conveyed a wrong impression in the same way. With respect to the officer, I understand from every report concerning him that he is a most efficient officer. I believe from what Senator de Largie has informed me that his services have been secured by the State Government. I have occasion every week to regret that the limitations imposed upon administration by the Public Service Act prevent Ministers from availing themselves of the services of officers whose merits and capacity to discharge duties required to be discharged in the service of the Commonwealth could not but be recognised.
– In connexion with the vote for the Statistical branch of the Department, I should like to say that I am given to understand that a number of mounted troopers are employed in collecting information for the Department. I am not an advocate of extravagant expenditure at any time, but I have been told, and the Minister will be able to say whether my information is correct, that these men receive the magnificent remuneration of 6s. per day - is. 6d. each for three meals, and1s. 6d. for a bed.
– But that is in addition to their pay.
– The States Governments pay their salaries, but considering that they have very often to cover a large area of country in collecting this information, it seems to me that it would not be going too far if, in addition to the allowance for three meals anda bed, they were given something to provide them with a drink of lemonade on their way. I know that clerks who do not occupy a very high grade in the service of the States receive travelling expenses amounting to 8s. per day, and considering the work which these collectors of statistics have to do, they might be given a little better remuneration than that which, if my information is correct, is now paid them for their work.
– It is highly desirable that the gap between the publication of States statistics and Commonwealth statistics should be bridged over as soon as possible. During the consideration of the Tariff and in connexion with some other debates the necessity for this’ was painfully apparent. I do not wish to reflect in any way upon the Minister or the Statistician. I have never appealed to the Commonwealth Statistician without getting correct information immediately. I do not wish to compliment or to criticize any officer, but I will say with regard to the Statistician himself that he has amply satisfied every inquiry that has been made by honorable senators. I hope the Minister will be able to satisfy the Committee that in a very short time the statistics of the Commonwealth will be published in a form handy for reference.
– Iri reply to Senator Vardon, I may say that as far as possible we utilize the services of States officers in collecting information. We do so on a system of co-operation with the States authorities. The particular officers to whom he refers may be remunerated at the rate he mentions, but whatever rate they receive is a matter of arrangement -between the Commonwealth and States Governments.
– But the Commonwealth Government do not pay these men directly/ ‘
– No, we pay the States Governments. If the States Governments asked us for payment for this work at the rate 6f~ 6s. or 8s. a day we should make the payment accordingly. We find the Slates Governments willing to cooperate with us, and we utilize the services of their - officers wherever we can. We ask them what amount of remuneration we should pay, and without question we pay what they ask.
– But we. have a scale of allowances for officers of the Commonwealth service.
– That is another matter.
– Gould the Minister say whether the scale referred to by Senator Vardon is in accordance with the Commonwealth scale of allowances?
– Work of this kind done- by Commonwealth officers is paid for in accordance with the Commonwealth scale, but ‘where we utilize the services of States officers1 we pay whatever the States Governments ask.
– And they do not allow payment to be made to States officers direct.
– That is so. They have asked that in all- cases the payment should be made to the States Treasurers. With regard to the question raised by Senator St”. Ledger, I should like to say, without going into too much detail, that I hope that before we rise, or before Easter, to have in the hands of honorable senators the first issue of the official Year-Book of the Commonwealth. It will contain a great deal of information - practically all the statistical information covering the last six years which would be useful to the public. It will be a little more bulky than succeeding issues are likely to be. .At the same time we propose to continue the publication of statistics periodically, whether monthly as at present or quarterly is a matter for further determination. Another matter which is at present engaging the attention of my honorable colleague, the . Minister of Trade and Customs, and myself with the object of securing the best results, is the particular form in which the statistical information shall be published. We have to determine whether it should follow absolutely the form of the Tariff or the alphabetical order adopted in a great many other countries. That is a matter to which we are. giving the closest attention, and I hope that, whatever the determination come to may be, the result will, be to give the greatest satisfaction to those who require to consult the statistics of the Commonwealth.
– I am obliged to the Minister for the information which he has given, as I Was not aware of the nature of the arrangement. A complaint was made to me on . the subject, and, therefore, I was anxious to ascertain the true position.
– The item of £104 for Office cleaners under the ‘ head of ‘ ‘ Census and Statistics,” seems to call fbr an ex-, planation, because, under the head of “Administrative Staff,” we have passed an item of £829 for office cleaners for the Departments of External Affairs, AttorneyGeneral, Home Affairs, Trade and Customs, and Postmaster-General. I submit that that item of ,£829 should have been divided amongst those Departments. If all the expenditure for office cleaning in connexion with the Department of Home Affairs had been included in that item, we should not find an ‘item of £104 for office cleaners, under the head of “ Census and Statistics,” and an item of £80 for office cleaners under the head of “ Meteorological Branch.” I think that it is some evidence of a little carelessness in the preparation of the Estimates.
– Unfortunately for the Commonwealth, all the Departments are not housed under one roof. The Departments of the AttorneyGeneral, External Affairs, Trade and Customs, and Postmaster-General, are practically housed under one roof in Springstreet, and the office cleaning is carried out under the supervision of one man, who also acts as messenger to the Department of External Affairs. The Department of Home Affairs is distributed through the city. We have most of our offices in Russell-street. We have a Meteorological Branch in Carlton, and a Statistical Branch at the Rialto in Collins-street, and in various other ways we are scattered round the city. The item of £104 is the provision fortwo office cleaners at Carlton, at the rate of £1 per week.
– I am not complaining about the amount, but pointing out the irregularity in lumping the office cleaning for the Departments on page 21.
– But those Departrnents are really under the one roof.
– But the expenditure should be split up amongst them.
– That may be so; but that has not been the practice hitherto, and the bunching of the expenditure enables honorable senators to see at a glance the cost of cleaning the Departments.
– I should like the Minister to furnish some information regarding the item of £200 for retaining fees for Commonwealth medical officers.
– This vote is required for the. purpose of retaining certain medical officers in the different States who are called upon to make the necessary examinations of persons seeking entrance to the Public Service. In order that the Commonwealth should not have to hunt round for medical officers, certain men in each State are retained, and upon their services in this regard we have a first call.
– I should like the Minister to tell me what officers have offered “valuable and practical suggestions leading to the introduction of useful reforms and to greater economy and efficiency” in the Public Service, and the nature of such suggestions.
– I cannot specify any particular officers, but we propose to put on the Estimates every year an item of £200 for the purpose of encouraging officers to put forward suggestions which, as the result of their experience of the working of Departments and the general administration of the duties allotted to Departments by Parliament, may be of value.
– Do not the Government pay their officers well enough to induce them to do that now?
– I think that the officers are very well paid; but, apart from that, there may be a little tendency on the part of officers to feel that, being secure in their positions, it is unnecessary for them to do more than their immediate duty. We propose to offer inducements to officers to bestir themselves and to make suggestions. We are following what is a very well established practice in some of the most successful private enterprises in the world. It is a very small item, which I think Parliament will vote readily.
– How many officers have participated in the money ?
– I cannot say that even a penny has been spent. ‘We are simply asking for parliamentary authority to spend £200 in this direction.
– It was through the Post and Telegraph Department of the United States offering a reward to its officers, or suggesting that they should make certain experiments, that one of the most important improvements in telegraphy was made by Mr. Edison, aclerk in its employ. If. we vote this item of £200, it may induce officers in our Departments to exercise their ingenuity and to offer to their superior officers suggestions which will be rewarded fittingly.
– I notice that we are asked to vote £500 towards the cost of compiling a map of Australasia. I desire to know whether it has been compiled and is obtainable.
– I asked each State if it would be kind enough to send an officer to a conference, which was to be held here with regard to the compilation of a map of the Commonwealth.
The different States were represented at the conference, and a plan of compiling a map was decided upon. It was agreed that the map should be prepared in the survey office in Sydney, and each State Surveyor-General was asked if he would be good enough to send along a delimitation of its coast line and boundary. Through the different survey offices we are getting this map prepared on a scale of, I think, twenty-four miles to one inch. As honorable senators are aware, the general scale usually adopted is about sixteen miles to an inch. The work is proceeding steadily and carefully. Several errors have already been discovered in the delimitation of the coast line of the continent.
– Has any portion of last year’s vote of £500 for this purpose been spent?
– Very little. This is not a work which can be done in one month,or even three months ; it may occupy two or three years. It was discovered that a very serious shipwreck had occurred on the coast of New South Wales from the fact that the ordinary maps showed a certain point east of a particular meridian, whereas, as a matter of fact, it was a little west. All these little errors and. inaccuracies which have crept into our geography we are endeavouring to rectify. While we are carrying out the work of getting a complete and accurate map, each State is deriving a considerable advantage in that it Is, through its survey staff, getting a most correct and up-to-date map of its own territory. I believe that when the map is produced - next year,I hope - honorable senators will recognise that the money has been very well spent.
– Fromwhat the Minister has said, am I to understand that this map will not be completed until the coast line has been surveyed ?
– Oh, no.
– Then the map will contain just the same mistakes as mark the Imperial map. There are many islands along the Northern coast which, according to seamen, are charted miles outof their proper situation.
– This vote cannot include a marine survey. That is impossible.
– The Minister has referred to shipwrecks having something to do with mistakes in marine surveys, and I want to know whether the map is to be made really complete?
– I am sure that the Minister never intended that this map should be practically a marine survey of the coast of Australia.
– It is not intended to give the results of a hydrographical survey. We shall obtain the absolutely latest information from every State.
– I desire to direct attention to the item “ Towards the expenses of making inquiries and preparing plans for additional lighthouses required on the coast of Australia, £1,500.” 1 recognise the importance of the item in regard to the safety of the lives both of passengers travelling in, and crews working on, ‘vessels trading on the Australian coast. But I am wondering whether the amount set down is adequate to provide additional lights on the coast. I recognise the need for improvements, and should like to know from the Minister in what direction the inquiries are to be made.
– Under the Constitution the Commonwealth Government have power to deal with ocean navigation, lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys. With a view of getting ready to take over the control and administration of matters relating to lighthouses, I considered that it Was necessary for the Department to be equipped with information as to the present provision, what was required in the way of additions, and as to the relative urgency ofthose required additions. The Government have received from the States Governments, from the masters of ships trading on the Australian coast, and from shipping companies, numerous representations as to the necessity for fresh lights in different places. In some instances we have received half-a-dozen representations with” regard to particular lights. Some months back, after consultation with the Prime Minister, I had the map of Australia divided into two, and to every State Government we sent a map showing the lights that were suggested, and were not? already provided in the particula ‘ State. We invited suggestions with regard to the necessity or urgency of fresh provision in those directions. The course which I took was to number each particular light recommended, arid to send a schedule to the States concerned, . indicating the names of the persons who recommended particular lights, and asking for the suggestions of the States Governments. As a result, we have received from them - after consultation with their Navigation Departments and Marine Boards - their representations. Before we can go any further it is necessary to analyze and tabulate the information so obtained. Our desire has been to get the best information with a view of improving the present facilities. I have already taken the step of detailing an officer for a few weeks for the duty of going into the whole matter as to the relative urgency of various lights suggested. No particular State is especially involved in this matter. The interests of the whole Commonwealth are concerned. These are preliminary investigations with a view to the Commonwealth taking over the control of lighthouses.
– I am afraid that we are going the wrong way about this matter. When it is remembered that there are six Navigation Departments in the States, it will be seen how futile it is to expect to get better information than must be in the possession of those Departments. No one officer, no matter how able he may be, can know the local conditions that are known to these State Departments.
– Every State Department in Australia has been consulted.
– I think it would have been wiser had the Government waited until the Commonwealth took over this service before taking any other steps. I like the idea of receiving suggestions from masters of vessels, but to go beyond that and to try to find out what are the best places for lights is I. think a waste of money.
– I have decided not to ask the Public Service Commissioner to recommend the- appointment of any permanent staff until provision is made for taking over lighthouses. This is preliminary work.
– The Minister can take no other course. What is the use of our gathering information if we cannot take any further step?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at2. 30 p.m.
Surtax on Sugar.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed_
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he can tell me the date of the cablegram which has been sent to the Natal Government in reference to the surtax on Australian sugar?
– It was sent to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at11. 13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 April 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080408_senate_3_45/>.