3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
.-By leave, I move -
That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of all other business on Thursdays, except questions and formal motions.
Since we last met the Government have been doing all they possibly could to get things in order, so as to allow honorable senators to have a- full and fair opportunity of dealing with the business to be submitted prior to the close of this session. I believe that it is the desire of honorable senators to close the session this year if possible. If we carry this motion 1 do not think there will be any difficulty, if we work hard enough, in proroguing by the second week in December. When we took office there were on the notice-paper several Bills in charge of the late Government. We desire to retain some of them on the noticepaper, and as far as possible to make progress with them. Of course every honorable senator knows that when we approach, the last week or two of a session the principal business is the consideration of the Estimates. We have taken over practically the Estimates of the late Government, with a few minor alterations, greater details of which probably the Treasurer will give in another place. Speaking briefly,I may state that out of some small economies made in certain Departments there may be a trifling amount of , £70,000 or£100,000 more than was originally intended to be given to the Post and Telegraph Department, and a little more to the Defence Department. With the exception of alterations of that description, the Government have taken over the Estimates presented by the late Government.
– Does the total remain the same?
– There maxbe a little alteration in the total, but the Treasurer will go more fully into details than I intend to do. There are other matters which very probably interest different members of both Houses, and no doubt they would like to know the proposals of the Government regarding them. The first matter of importance which we intend to deal with is one which was in course of negotiation between the representative of the Commonwealth in London and the late Minister of External Affairs, and that is the purchase of a site for Commonwealth offices in London. On another motion which I intend to ask leave to submit today there will be ample opportunity for honorable senators to discuss the merits or demerits of that proposition. It was left to us as a legacy by the late Government. With’ the additional information which we have gathered we are prepared to take that’ burden upon our shoulders, and do what we possibly can to give effect to it.
– Hear, hear.
– With the . assistance of Senator Walker and others’, who know a little about the matter. Then’ there are some small Bills to be dealt with. There is a Bill which has come down from the House of Representatives dealing with the encouragement of manufactures-
– In New South Wales.
– In Australia. New South Wales is in Australia, and as that measure has come down to. the Senate-
– Come up, not down.
– Well, come up.
– Hear, hear ; that is better.
– I. was only trying to see how honorable senators would take a change of phraseology. That measure has come here with the approval of another place, and the Government intend to do all they possibly can to push it through the Senate with very slight alterations. I hope that with diligent application by honorable senators that will be accomplished in a very short while. We also intend to leave the Navigation Bill on the notice-paper of the Senate.
– Certainly; that is all right.
– No doubt honorable senators may take that as a joke. But it was well known before any disturbance took place in connexion with, the Government of the Commonvealth thatthat Bill could not be passed this session. If business should not come down rapidly enough from another place, we may have time to pass a few more clauses, and that will make the position all the better for next session. That is all I can say regarding the business coming before the Senate. The Estimates will be dealt with in the House of Representatives as rapidly as possible, and a number of small Bills will be introduced there.
– What about the Seat of Government Bill ?
– I shall come to that question in a few minutes, because I do not intend to make a very elaborate or detailed statement. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill was sent on from the Senate to another place, and, in the interest of the proper conduct of public inquiries the Government intend, if possible, to see that that Bill is passed. There is also a short Bill dealing with & slight alteration in the Immigration Restriction Act. It may be carried through another place, and, of course, it will receive fair consideration when it comes to the Senate. Then there is a Bill dealing with our electoral law, because some defects require to be remedied, so that at any time there may be in existence effective machinery for carrying out an election.
– That is a commendable foresight.
– I am not going to discuss now the merits or demerits of a Bill that is to be introduced in another place.
– Is the measure anticipatory ?
– I have no thought of that kind in my mind. Finally, I have to mention a measure which is regarded as being of the greatest importance by some honorable senators opposite. I allude to the Bill dealing with the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth’. It will be introduced in another place.
– Why not here?
– Many considerations have to be taken into account, and the probability is that more rapid progress will be made with the Bill if it is introduced in another place and not in the Senate. We desire to carry out the expressed intention of Parliament. Every honorable senator knows that I have always been an ardent supporter of Dalgety.
– I am like a number of other honorable senators ; at a convenient time I have changed my views on the question. But realizing that both Houses have expressed a definite opinion, it is the duty of whatever Government is in power to give effect to the will of Parliament.
– A very sensible view.
– It is with that object that the Bill will be introduced in another place, and we hope that it will come up to the Senate early, because it is the intention of the Government, with the assistance of both Houses of Parliament, to carry it through this session.I have now dealt with the programme of the Government as far as the present session is concerned. The business of next session is a matter of speculation; and no doubt Senator Pulsford will take advantage of the ample opportunities afforded him to see that measures dealing with direct taxation, the nationalization of monopolies, and matters of that description are brought’ prominently before the mind of the Government, who, I have no doubt, will not be allowed one single loop-hole to escape from their responsibilities in those directions.
– May I ask the Minister whether it is intended to proceed this session with his motion on the paper with regard to land taxation?
– The motion that I am now submitting, if carried, will prevent the consideration of the motion to which the honorable senator refers this session.
– Very conveniently.
– What I have said completes the statement which I have to make in respect to the intentions of the Government regarding the present session. As to next session, I hope that we shall honestly carry out everything that we have promised to the people of Australia. With regard to the conduct of the business in the Senate, honorable senators will be aware that I occupied the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council on a previous occasion, and very often found myself under certain difficulties. But I am very much pleased now to have a colleague who I know will do all he possibly can to assist in carrying on the business of the Senate. Honorable senators are aware that the representatives of the Government in the Senate have to answer questions relating to Departments which are presided over by Ministers in another place ; and I desire, for the convenience of honorable senators, to intimate the Departments which Senator Pearce and I will represent respectively. Senator Pearce has kindly consented to deal with all questions, Bills, and other matters connected with the Treasury, the Department of the Postmaster-General, and the Department of Trade and Customs, as well as matters relating to the Department of Defence, over which he himself has control. That arrangement will leave to me all questions relating to the Department of the Attorney-General, the Department of External Affairs, and the Department of Home Affairs. As to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, honorable senators will have recognised by this time that I am a bit of a “ bush-lawyer,” and it is “only proper that I should take charge of business connected with the Attorney-General’s Department. As to External Affairs, seeing that I have had a very great foreign experience in my time, I think it is my duty to deal with matters relating to that Department; and as I have also been thoroughly domesticated, I have recognised, the desirableness of taking charge of matters relating to Home Affairs. That completes the statement which I had to make on behalf of the Government, and which I have made as clearly as I possibly could.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen). adjourned.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Public Service Act 1902. - Repeal of Regulations 97 and 147; Repeal of Regulations 5, 24,. 27.29> 30.38, 43. 46. 50. 51> 52. 57»61>62»- 73. 77. 78, 79.86> 89, 89A, 98,111, 116, 118, 119, 121, 134, 148, 159, 160, 161, 163, 163A, 164, 165, 166, 264, 267A, 276a, and268,and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof ; and new Regulation 90. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 116.
Customs Act 1901. - Amendment of Regulation 101. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 115.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901. - Repeal ancll Amendment of Postal, Telegraphic, Telephone,, and General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 107. Amendment and Repeal of Postal and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. in.
Defence Acts 1903- 1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 134. - StatutoryRules 1908, No. 113.
Regulations (Provisional) for the MilitaryForces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 225. - StatutoryRules 1908, No. 114.
Interpretation of Constitution
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The document which I hold in my hand contains three pages of figures, and gives complete information regarding the decisions of the High Court in respect of matters involving an interpretation of the Constitution. I therefore propose to lay it upon the table of the Senate.
– Will that document be printed in Hansard?
– It will not appear in Hansard.
– If it be the desire of the Senate, I will ask that the Clerk be directed to read the document.
– It ought to be printed in Hansard.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has intimated that he proposes to lay the paper in question upon the table of the Senate. Are we to understand that a summary of its contents will appear in Hansard as an answer to the question put by Senator Givens ?
– No. If the Minister sees fit to do so, he may lay it upon the table in the Senate in the form of a return, and it may then be printed as a parliamentary paper. If, however, the Senate desires that its contents shall appear in Hansard the Clerk will read it.
– To overcome the difficulty, I move -
That the document be read by the Clerk.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Clerk proceeded to read the paper as follows : -
Cases decided in the High Court involving the interpretation of the Constitution in which both Commonwealth and State (or a person suing or being sued on behalf thereof, or a public authority thereof) were either parties or intervenants.
Cases decided in favour of the Commonwealth.
Date of Judgment. - 24th February, 1904.
Plaintiff.- Pedder, F., Superintendent of Police, Tasmania.
Defendant.- D’Emden, H. L., D.P.M.G., Hobart.
Question in Issue. - Liability of Commonwealth to pay State Stamp Duty on receipts given by Commonwealth officers for salary.
Costs awarded to Commonwealth-
– I rise to a point of order. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has been asked a question relating to the number of cases involving an interpretation of the Constitution which have been brought, by the States before the High Court. I submit that the information which is now being supplied goes far beyond that, inasmuch as it sets out particulars of the suits brought before the Court, and of the parties to them.
– Does the honorable senator object to that information being given ?
– I do not. But if the practice be tolerated, it is manifest that in the future information which is not sought may be supplied. I desire to Know whether the information which is now being supplied comes within the category of a proper answer to Senator Givens’ question?
– May I suggest that Senator Givens should ask for the information which he seeks in the form of a return? It will , then be laid upon the table of the Senate, and may be printed as a, public document.
– The object of putting a question to a Minister is to elicit a reply upon specific points, and the intention is that the reply shall not go beyond that. Of course, if further information be desired by any honorable senator it can easily be obtained in the form of a return. It has been customary, however, to permit Ministers to reply to questions in a fuller way than is strictly warranted. The information which is embodied in the document presented by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is supposed to have been given by the Minister himself, but with the concurrence of the Senate it is possible for it to be read by the Clerk. I think that perhaps it would be better if that information were laid upon the ‘table in the form of a return, and it will then be competent for- the Senate to determine whether or not it shall be printed.
– As this question appears upon the business paper it can be answered either now or at some future date. But from your remarks, sir, I gather that you suggest that the answer should be given in the form of a return. May I draw your attention to the nature of the question ? Paragraph 1 reads -
What was the total number of cases between the States and the Commonwealth, involving an interpretation of the Constitution, brought before and decided by the High Court?
That portion of the question can be replied to by a simple numeral. The second part of the question can be answered in a similar way, and paragraph 3 merely demands the statement of a specific sum. The last paragraph of the question can be answered either by a simple affirmative or a simple negative. But the statement which the Clerk was proceeding to read contains an unnecessary amount of explanatory matter, which is quite extraneous. Is there not some procedure by which we can obtain from a. Minister a definite statement when if is asked for?
– I have already pointed out what I consider ought to be embodied in a reply by a Minister to a question. But when a return is laid upon the table of the Senate, I have no power to ascertain the nature of its contents beforehand. It is really for the Minister concerned to determine in the first place what information a return shall contain.
– May I suggest that the question should be postponed ? It is customary for answers to questions to be obtained from the different Departments to which they refer, and Ministers have very little time to investigate them. But if the question asked by Senator Givens be postponed, I undertake that only proper answers to it shall be given. Any other information which may be attached to the Departmental reply will be laid upon the table in the form of a return.
– May I point out that the Senate has already directed the reading of the document by the Clerk.’ I wish to say, however, that I moved that motion in the belief that the paper merely dealt with the number of cases involving an interpretation of the Constitution which had been brought before the High Court. I did not think that it would take two minutes to read the document. Certainly I did not intend that all these unnecessary details should be read.
– I suggest that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should withdraw his answer, otherwise it will appear upon the records, as the answer to Senator Givens’ question. It should be withdrawn, and the question itself should then be postponed.
– I ask leave to withdraw the answer to the question.
Answer, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to the reply given on Thursday last (5th November) to question No. 4, is the Minister aware that the (London) Daily News of September 26th contains the following, which is said to be based on a paragraph in the Imperial Postmaster-General’s Annual Report : - “The Postmaster-General says that he has invited the Governments of the several British Colonies to enter into an arrangement under which the Postoffice will collect from the addressee, and remit to the sender, the value of articles sent by post in fulfilment of an order?”
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General is aware that a statement to the effect referred to appears in the Fifty-fourth Report of the Postmaster-General of the United Kingdom.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Have the Government decided to amend the Commerce Act Regulations as to marking cases of fruit for export as promised to be considered to a deputation of fruit-growers recently? If so, to what extent?
– The matter is under consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If the Government will take into consideration the advisability of obtaining the advice and’ assistance of Lord Kitchener in connexion with the re-organization of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth, seeing that his work in India has been so successful, both as regards efficiency and economy ?
– It is not the intention of the Government to adopt the suggestion.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– This question must be considered as very similar to that asked by Senator Givens. I have two pages of figures supplied in connexion with the answer to it, and, in the circumstances, I ask Senator St. Ledger to postpone the question, and I shall lay the information upon the table in the form of a return.
– Arising out of the answer just given, may I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he will see that instructions are given to departmental officers, when furnishing replies to questions asked in the Senate, to give merely the information that is asked for?
– I think that I ought to be able to obtain specific information in figures in answer to the question I have submitted.
– Order ! I point out that honorable senators cannot debate this matter. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked that the question be postponed.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate do now proceed to elect a Chairman of Committees.
– I now call for nominations for the office of Chairman of Committees.
Nomination (by Senator Givens) proposed -
That Senator Turley be appointed Chairman of Committees.
Nomination (by Senator Gray) proposed -
That Senator Dobson be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– The Standing Orders provide that when two senators have been proposed for the office, each senator shall deliver to the Clerk a ballot-paper in writing containing the name of the candidate for whom he votes, and the candidate who has the greater number of votes shall be Chairman of Committees. The Clerk will now distribute ballot-papers to honorable senators. As the ballot is not an open one, it will not be necessary for them to sign the ballot-papers.
A ballot having been taken,
– I have to announce to honorable senators that the result of the ballot is -
Under the Standing Orders, it will be necessary to take another ballot. Standing order 22 provides that -
In the event of there being an equality of votes, the Clerk shall declare such to be the case, and the votes shall be again taken, when, if again there shall be an equality of votes, the Clerk shall determine, by lot, which of the candidates, having the same number of votes, shall be withdrawn as if he had obtained the lesser number of votes.
That is the rule to be observed in the election of the President, and it is provided in standing order 27 that the Chairman of Committees shall be appointed in a similar manner.
– Am I to understand, sir, that the names are again to be submitted to the intelligent senators who probably will record the same vote, and that in the event of another tie, we shall be asked to vote again and again ?
– Another ballot will be taken immediately, and if there should be an equality of votes the matter will then be determined by lot.
A ballot having been taken,
– The result of the second ballot is exactly the same as that of the first ballot -
The standing order provides that in the event of there being an equality of votes the Clerk shall determine by lot which of the candidates shall be withdrawn. What I suggest is that the Clerk should write the name of each of the two candidates on a slip of paper, put the two pieces of paper into a suitable receptacle, and then draw one out. The candidate whose name is written on the paper which is withdrawn will be the one who is withdrawn, and the candidate whose name is on the paper left will be the senator who will be considered to be the choice of the Senate.
– Have you not a vote, sir?
– I have.
– Have you not to vote now, there being a tie?
– No ; the voting is over. There is no casting vote.
– Did you not vote, sir?
– I did not vote.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit- that the standing order to which you have referred is not in accordance with the Constitution. The Constitution provides that where the votes of the Senate are equal, the question shall pass in the negative. But we, apparently, have a standing order, to which I take grave exception, which permits of the drawing of lots. I submit that according to the Constitution neither of the candidates whose names have been submitted to two ballots has been elected, but that, the votes being equal, the question has passed in the negative. I submit that the standing order is in this respect in derogation of the Constitution.
– The section of the Constitution to which the honorable senator refers provides that -
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator -.lull have one vote. The President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.
That relates to ordinary questions submitted to the Senate. But we are now dealing with a case in which certain names have been submitted to a ballot, and one of our standing orders lays down how we shall deal with an equality of votes. I have nothing to do but to carry out the standing order. It is not my duty to interpret the constitutionality of it.
– The point of order which’ Senator Neild has raised introduces a very much larger question, and one of greater importance than at first sight appears. The Senate is indebted to Senator Neild for drawing attention to it. Section 17 of the Constitution lays it down that-
The Senate shall before proceeding to the despatch of any other business choose a senator to be the President of the Senate.
Our Standing Orders prescribe the method of choosing the President, but the standing order under which we are working lays it down that in the event of an equality of votes the actual choice shall be taken away from the Senate and that the matter shall be submitted to chance. The same procedure applies to the election of a Chairman of Committees. The question is whether it is regular for the choice to be taken away from the Senate and handed over to the chance of the tossing of a coin ?
– Can we avoid it?
– It seems to me that this is not a “choosing” of a Chairman of Committees by the Senate. The Senate should devise means of choosing, or of giving effect to its choice, in some other way - by a conference amongst senators or something of that kind. The method now adopted does not secure a choice by the Senate. It is an acknowledgment by the Senate that it has been unable up to a certain stage to make a choice; and then it says, “ We will hand the matter over to the chance of the tossing of a coin.” That raises a very grave question, and perhaps you will consider, sir, whether it gives effect to section 17 of the Constitution, which provides that the President shall be chosen. This method practically conduces to our abandoning our choice. It is a fortuitous thing. It is not a choice. It is no more ,a choice than it would be if the Clerk were to spin a coin in the air.
– The standing order dealing with the election of a Chairman of Committees provides that the Chairman shall be elected in a similar manner to the President. The method laid down with regard to the election of a President is that in the event of there being an equality of votes the decision shall be arrived at fortuitously, as Senator Symon has expressed it. There can be no question that standing order 27 -
The Chairman of Committees shall be appointed in a similar manner to the President - makes the procedure prescribed in regard to the election of President applicable to the election of Chairman. I do not see that it is my duty as President to take upon myself the responsibility of ruling that the standing order is ultra vires. It has been within the competency of the Senate to deal with this matter at any time since the present Standing Orders have been in operation. But the Senate has not seen fit to do so. Let us assume, for the sa.ke of argument, that the standing order in question is ultra vires. The question then arises whether it is the duty of the President to decide whether the standing order is constitutional. But as the standing order is in existence, and! is applicable, I do not propose to take upon myself the responsibility of expressing the opinion that it is ultra vires of the Constitution.
– The Clerk has handed me a paper with the name of Senator Turley upon it. That being the case. Senator Turley’s name is withdrawn and Senator Dobson is elected Chairman of Committees.
– I hope that I may be permitted to thank honorable senators’ for having elected me to the position of Chairman of Committees. The office is an exceedingly important one, and I hope, with the assistance of honorable senators, and by the exercise of due care and attention, to carry out the duties with impartiality and satisfaction to all sides. I should also like to congratulate my honorable friend the ex-Chairmam of Committees, now Minister of Defence, on the very efficient, courteous, and impartial way in which he performed his duties while he occupied the office. I think that the whole Senate is under a debt of gratitude to him, and if I can discharge my duties as well, I shall be more than satisfied,and hope that honorable senators will be satisfied also.
Motion (by Senator W. Russell) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing -
The total number of men under arms (exelusive of Rifle Clubs) in each separate State of the Commonwealth in 1900-1 and 1907-8.
The cost of administration in each State in 1900-1 and 1907-8.
) The total cost of the Defence . Force in each State in 1900-1 and 1907-8.
Motion (by Senator St. Ledger) agreed to-
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a return showing -
The estimated number of persons in each State holding agricultural areas, and the number of such areas of over £5,000 (i.) in improved and (ii.) in unimproved value, and the total aggregate value of the same. The return to show the number of persons in classes of £500 above the value of , £5,000.
The number of persons and areas as in (1) holding areas of£5,000 and less as in (i.) and (ii.) of (1), and the aggregate values. The return to show the number of persons, in classes of£250, in the£5.000 and lower values.
The number of persons in the respective States holding lands in cities and towns of over £5,000 (i.) in improved and (ii.) in unimproved value. The return to show the classification as in (1) above.
The number of persons as in (3) where the values (i.) improved and (ii.) unimproved are £5,000 and less. The return to show the classification as in (2) above.
The total amount paid in 1907-8 (i.) into the Consolidated Revenues of the respective States, and (ii.) into State Trust or Local Board funds by way of(a) rent, (i) taxation on lands, and (c) other assessments leviable on land or live stock.
The aggregate amount of revenue raised in the respective States by municipalities, shire councils, divisional or local or other public boards or bodies having statutory powers to levy taxation on. land or landed property during the year 1907-8.
The total amount of income tax paid into the Consolidated Revenues of the respective States in the year 1907-8 from incomes derived from land.
– By leave, I move -
That this Senate approves the purchase of a site on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Charing Cross, London, for the sum of £198,000, for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
I desire to thank honorable senators for affording me an opportunity to submit this motion without notice, because it seems to me to indicate a desire to proceed as expeditiously as possible with a portion of the policy of the Government which is of very great importance. In making a general statement of our policy this afternoon. I intimated that the proposal to acquire this particular site for Commonwealth offices in London was a legacy of the late Government. But from that announcement I do not desire any honorable senator, or any person outside of this chamber, to imagine for a moment that the Government do not take the fullest responsibility for their action in simultaneously presenting it to both branches of the Legislature. Everybody recognises that, sooner or later, we must make provision for the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London.
– According to this proposal, it will be later.
– The honorablesenator in interjecting in that manner is merely taking certain contingencies into’ consideration. Of course, even under this proposal expedition might be exercised! under certain conditions. But apart from that, it is the duty of Parliament to embrace the opportunity which now presents itself to acquire a site which will be of considerable advantage to the Commonwealth. Sooner or later provision of this kind will hara to be made. We also know that in the near future - if we carry out the provisions of the Constitution, and give effect to the wishes of the people of Australia - it will be necessary to appoint a High Commissioner. To appoint such an officer without first providing premises in which he could discharge his functions, would be as fatuous as it would be for a bird to lay its eggs before it had built its nest. We do not want that position to arise in the future. Some time ago the representative of the Commonwealth - Captain Collins, I presume - was informed that it was part of his duty to keep his eyes open and his senses alert, so that if a suitable site for Commonwealth offices were available, and if it possessed the necessary qualifications from the stand-point of situation and price, steps might be taken to open up negotiations for its purchase. From the summary of the papers which have been laid before both Houses of Parliament, it appears that he faithfully discharged his duty in this connexion, because honorable senators will find that as far back as March of the present year communications were exchanged between him and the Minister of External Affairs upon the subject of a site for Commonwealth offices in that great metropolis. An attempt was made - an unsuccessful attempt, with the circumstances of which honorable senators are familiar - to acquire a site in the Strand; but the price asked for it was regarded as too high, and, as a result, the negotiations fell through.
– What was the rental which was to have been paid in connexion with that site?
– Speaking from memory, varying prices were asked for different blocks that were offered. The first group of blocks contained, I think, about. 10,000 superficial feet and the annual rental payable to the London County Council in respect of them ranged from 12s. to 17s. per foot. In the aggregate, the ground rental of this area was about £7,200 ner annum. A proposal was also submitted for the purchase of a larger area containing, I think, about 12,000 superficial feet, for which the ground rent averaged about 15s. per foot.
– And at the end of the lease the building would have become the property of the landlord?
– Of course, honorable senators thoroughly understand that at the end of a lease of that description everything of a substantial character would have become the property of the London County Council. It will be seen, therefore, that before anything could have been done, we should have had to pay a very large sum as ground rent. But the proposed purchase of that site was not approved by the Government or by Parliament, and negotiations for its acquisition fell through. As I have already stated, our representative in London was on the look-out for a suitable site, and when those negotiations hari been broken off, he informed the Minister of External Affairs that the present site was in the market, and could probably be purchased at a price. He further stated that there was no more suitable site in London upon which to establish Commonwealth offices. I am aware there are some honorable senators present who have recently visited London, and who know perfectly well the location of Trafalgar Square. There are others here who remember London as it was a long time ago, and who only know what Trafalgar Square was then like. I merely know what it was like thirty-five years ago, when there was no Northumberland-avenue, and no means of getting from one place to another in. the penny or two-penny tubes, which have since been provided - in short, when there was not the means of communication between London and its suburbs that exist at the present time. Those who are best acquainted with that great metropolis are unanimous in affirming that the proposed site is one of the most suitable which can Lft obtained, or which is likely to be obtainable within the next fifty years. That being so, our only consideration should be whether the terms upon which we can procure it are sufficiently favorable. Captain Collins having informed the Government, that this site was available, was instructed to make further inquiries. The result was that in June last he obtained the report of a reputable London valuator, Mr. Howard Martin, in respect of it. The terms used may appear peculiar to some of us, but honorable senators will find from the paper that Mr. Howard Martin valued the site uncovered, as between a willing buyer and a willing seller, at ,£154,000.
– And he revised that valuation afterwards.
– He did, ns every sensible man would in the circum- stances, because the papers clearly indicate how Mr. Howard Martin arrived at that valuation. In his explanation of the terms of his first valuation, he shows that the Commonwealth, or a State Government, or any wealthy corporation entering into negotiations for a site of this description anywhere near the same position would have to pav from 20 to 40 per cent, more than the valuation in the case of a willing seller and a willing buyer. The revision of Mr. Howard Martin’s first estimate was quite natural, and there was nothing extraordinary about it at all. He stated clearly
That if the Commonwealth Government could get that site as an uncovered site, clear of all obligations, for from £200,000 to £220,000, they would make an excellent bargain. But it was impossible to secure the site free from the terms of leases entered into, some twenty-seven years ago, and which will expire in the course of about three and a half years from date, or in the course of three years from next June. At that date, the Commonwealth Government, if they become the purchasers of the site, will be at perfect liberty to do what they like with it. They will be free of all obligations to any of the present lessees, and can proceed to improve the present buildings, or to demolish them, and erect more suitable and up-to-date buildings on the site. All that is set forth in Mr. Howard Martin’s valuation, and in his communications with Captain Collins, the Commonwealth representative in London. When it was ascertained that Mr. Lyons was not prepared to accept less than a certain price, the Government authorized Captain Collins to offer £190,000. That offer was made, and after serious consideration, it was increased to £198,000, which offer Mr. Lyons accepted. Some honorable senators may be inclined to believe, and I confess I am myself, that Mr. Lyons is simply a speculator. He may have received some information, and as a shrewd man, calculating that this site would be very suitable for the requirements of the Commonwealth Government, or of some rich corporation, and finding that he could obtain it at what he considered a low price, secured an option, or purchased it right out, and no one can expect that he will part with it to the Commonwealth or to anybody else except at a profit. The question is whether the profit for which he asks is too great. That is what we have to consider when asked to give our sanction to the completion of the arrangements between Mr.
Lyons and Captain Collins for the purchase of the site. Honorable senators will find other names referred to in the papers, and amongst them the name of Lord Jersey. No one here will suggest that Lord Jersey would lend himself to anything which would not be straightforward and honest so far as the Commonwealth is concerned.
– There is nothing in the papers to show that Lord Jersey expressed any opinion on the subject, with the exception of a reference by Captain Collins to the matter.
– In nearly all the papers there is reference to the’ intimate knowledge which Lord Jersey has of the site, and to the interest he takes in the Commonwealth, and there is a statement to the effect that Lord Jersey thinks that this would be a site admirably suited for the purpose for which such a site is required in London by the Commonwealth. Be that as it may, we have sometimes to put aside our suspicions when we come to a crucial point, and have to say whether what is proposed is a wise thing to do in the interests of the Commonwealth. If we think that we ought to do what is now proposed in this matter, we should do it at once. The reason why we should do it at once is this : Negotiations for the purchase of this site were carried on up to the beginning of this month, and, when the present Government took office, they found that they had reached a stage at which it was proposed that the site should be acquired for £198,000, that the seller would not take less, that the site was to be an uncovered site in four years, and that the purchaser should be entitled to the rent of the buildings for the four years. Some misapprehension may exist in the minds of honorable senators in connexion with a reference to a ground rent of £4,000, but I have it on the best authority that that ground rent of £4,000 will disappear when the site is purchased. It was a part of the conditions on which the original owners of the site, twenty-seven years ago, leased it to some of the present occupiers. If any one purchases from the original owners, the £4,000 of ground rent disappears. So far as purchaser and seller are concerned, the seller gets his money, and the purchaser gets the site and the buildings on it, and becomes the sole landlord, and instead of the £4,000 a year ground rent, he will receive the rents now derived from the property on the site. I wish honorable senators to thoroughly understand that that is the position, and that they need not be troubled for one second about the £4,000 mentioned as ground rent. Early in this month, while negotiations were going on, a change of Government took place. It was notified to London, and an extension of time for the completion of the proposed purchase was requested. An extension to die end of this month was granted, but it was explained that it would be taken as a very great favour if a definite answer could be given on the 25th November - that is, to-day. It is for that reason that the Government are anxious to deal with the matter to-day, in order that a definite answer may be given before the time expires. Leading up to the present position, I have explained that an offer of £190,000 was made, that it was subsequently increased to £198,000, and that that offer was accepted, subject fo the condition that it should be ratified by Parliament. Then a change of Government took place, and an extension of time was granted. The new Government had all the papers before them. We found that the arrangement suggested was for the purchase of the site, with the buildings on it, for £198,000, paying 10 per cent, in cash, and the balance in four years, at 4J per cent, interest.
– Four and a half per cent. ?
– That was the position when the present Government took office. They immediately wired that they considered the rate of interest too high. They could not see their way to pay 4^ per cent, for four years, or for any other term. Then some suggestions were made, and counsel was taken, with, I think, Lord Jersey, the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, and the authorities of the Bank of England. Senator Walker, as one who is familiar with such matters, will probably be able to explain the procedure in conducting such transactions. No one can expect me to know all about the way in which loans are negotiated, or what the current rate of interest on overdrafts is in London. The negotiations with the London authorities resulted in a proposal that the Bank of England should take the matter up. Honorable senators are aware that the Commonwealth has always a certain amount of money in the Bank’ of England as a floating balance for certain purposes. I have explained that 10 per cent, of the purchase money is to be paid in cash, and the Bank of England undertakes the responsibility of making the payments, charging us the current rate of interest on any overdraft. Our floating balance in Londonis sometimes more, and very seldom less, than £100,000, so that honorable senatorswill see that by paying interest on the overdraft, we shall never be called upon to pay interest on £100,000, or anything like that amount, whilst we shall be getting the rents of the buildings on the site until theexpiration of the existing leases, or until some arrangement were made to uncover the site and do something with it on our own account.
– What interest is tobe charged on the overdraft ?
– That I cannot exactly say. I believe that Senator Walker will be able to give honorable senators information on that point.
– - Senator Walker isnot the only person who can tell us something about that.
– I do not suppose that it will be much more than 4 per cent. I understood that it would be 4 per cent. A great many persons object to that, and say we are raising a loan, and paying 4 per cent, for it, but Senator Mulcahy isaware that to obtain an overdraft from a bank is a very different thing from obtaining a loan and paying interest on a mortgage.
– Is it not borrowing ali the same?
– Certainly it is, but the rate of interest is not the same. If the Commonwealth went on to the London’ market to borrow money to pay for the site, I have no doubt that we could obtain the money at per cent. The negotiations are going on. There is nothing to prevent us doing that. There is no time now to make financial arrangements, but we carr get an overdraft to cover the balance of the purchase money at the lowest rate of interest which is charged to any one for are overdraft, and we shall be in a position in a month, or in a year, or at whatever time we may be prepared to take the action, to pay off the whole of the amount. 1 mention this matter so that the objection to the Commonwealth paying 4 per cent, for a month or a year, or whatever the term may be, shall not be regarded as a bar to our taking advantage of an opportunity to obtain one of the most favorable sites in London for our purposes. The present Government were not altogether satisfied with the position. Like
Thomas - I do not mean the PostmasterGeneral, but another Thomas - we would not take anything for granted. We thought another independent valuation would fortify us to a considerable extent, and for that purpose we communicated with the Commonwealth representative, the only person with whom it was safe to communicate. We received a cablegram to the effect that the valuation of the site uncovered was £187,000.
– Who was the valuer?
– If I recollect aright the valuation was made by Weatherall and Green, a firm which has done work of that description for the Commonwealth. I do not think that our representative would go to any shoddy or jerry concern to get information on an important matter for the Government he represented. I understand that it is a reputable firm.
– Their valuation is £24,000 more than Mr. Martin’s on the same basis.
– Yes, but .the honorable senator will see that Mr. Martin qualified his valuation by saying that any one who expected to get the site would have to pay from 20 to 40 per cent. more. I do not know how experts in London arrive at their values. Probably Mr. Martin gave an honest value based on some calculation. He was candid enough to say that although that might be tha value of the uncovered site in the case of a willing buyer and a willing seller, yet there was no possibility of the Commonwealth getting the site for that sum. What was the use of saying that the site was worth only _£i 54,000, and adding that in order to obtain if. the Commonwealth would have to pay from 20 to 40 per cent, more? That is exactly what his valuation meant. I place more reliance upon the independent valuation by Weatherall and Green, because they took all those things into consideration, and gave what I regard as a fair estimate. I would remind honorable senators that neither the Commonwealth nor any other Government need ever expect to get anything in any part of the world as cheaply as a speculator, because they do not get the chance. No matter whether we act now or at the end of twenty years, we shall be liable 1o be squeezed to a little extent. Whether we are being squeezed too much at the present time is what we have to consider ; but I do not think that we are. I had no intention! of dealing at such length with this matter, because I am hopeful that it will be discussed by honorable senators who know something about London. We may not be getting the site as cheaply as we should like, but I believe that we are getting it as cheaply as it can be obtained.
– Mr. Lyons has only an option?
– I do not know, as he does not mount the house top and whistle his business.
– Does not the Minister think that we ought to know?
– I dare say that we should, but in trying to learn too’ much we might lose our opportunity to secure the site, and be sorry for that fact.
– There are plenty of other sites in London.
– London is not a very small place.
– Yes, .but places suitable for Commonwealth offices do not extend all over London and its suburbs. The choice of a suitable site is confined to a certain area, and, according to those who have given information, suitable sites in that area are becoming scarce. There was some talk of a site connected with Morley House, but it could only be secured on a leasehold tenure. It extends to the Post Office block, and includes a very large area. The representatives of the Commonwealth stated that it was out of the question, as it would be a very big proposition. I am amplifying the summary of the negotiations which honorable senators have in their possession, and if it is not convenient to any honorable senator to call at the office of the Minister of External Affairs to see the complete file of papers with the plans and photographs, no doubt they will be sent by an. officer to wherever he may appoint. At the present time the rents derived from the buildings on the proposed site amount to about £9,700 a year. Some of the tenants pay a considerable amount of the taxes in respect of the rooms they occupy, and the amount left for the Commonwealth to pay in rates would be about £2,200, reducing the amount received from rents to about £8,000. Certain repairs may be necessary, if we do not decide to take down the buildings immediately, but, according to Mr. Howard Martin, the making of those repairs would enable the Commonwealth to derive a larger aggregate rent.
– Not under the existing leases.
– I believe that there are six rooms which are not occupied.
– The Commonwealth would not have much difficulty in getting a higher rent for them than is now being obtained.
– No, but I am only putting the position as it is put in the’ table furnished to honorable senators in connexion with the summary of Mr. Martin’s report. It gives the number of tenants, states what rooms they occupy, and what rates they pay, or do not pay.
– But it is not proposed that we should buy the building for the purposes of re-letting it?
– No. The honorable senator knows very well that there are times when, if a person requires something in the. future, it may pay him to buy it at once, and put up with a little inconvenience until he can get complete control. He knows that if we could get a site clear of every obligation, it might be better for us to secure it, though we might have to pay a little more. But the slight inconvenience of having to waitthree and a half years for some of the tenancies to expire should not be permitted to bar the acquisition of a suitable site.
– We should not have anything to do with that, because there is the ground lease.
– The ground lease will be surrendered, as I have already explained ; we shall secure the property as it is to-day, and, of course, the ground rent of£4,000 will disappear. Some honorable senators may take exception to the indefinite character of the available information in connexion with rates or taxes. Every one knows that London is not a place like Melbourne, or Adelaide, or Sydney. I have known persons who have left such a salubrious spot as Brunswick because they, were asked to pay municipal rates to the amount of 2s. in the £1. I have known persons in Adelaide object to the most sanitary improvements, which could be made, because they would be asked to pay a rate of1s. in the £1 for that service, while the total amount of municipal rates would not amount to 2s. 6d. in the £1. I want honorable senators to compare our position with that of London. Some persons will say, “ In London or its neighbourhood there are places where the tenants pay rates to the amount of 12s. 6d. in the £1. If you had a property there you would not make very much out of it if1 you were receiving only 7s. 6d. out of each £1 of the rental value.”’
– The honorable senator ought to regard that as an ideal state of affairs.
– I do not. and if the time were opportune, I might give reasons why it exists. In order to be armed with all the information which might reasonably be expected from me, I communicated with Mr. Knibbs, our Statistician, who ought to have information’, about the rates in different cities. He informs me that the rates in the area containing this site - St. Martin’s in the Fields, I think it is called - amount to 6s. 8d. in the £1, and in Poplar to 12s. 6d. in the-
-And also at West Ham.
– I did not get that information, which, coming from the honorable senator. I take as being absolutely correct. A little to the east or north of the site in question the rates, amount to 5s. in the £1. That was the information given by Mr. Knibbs ; and” Mr. Brown also informs me that the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs was actually in communication with the authorities in London, so that our information might be absolutely correct. That information confirms what I had already obtained from Mr. Knibbs, namely, that the rates in that particular part of London’ amount to 6s. 8d. in the £1. I give this, fact to honorable senators so that they may thoroughly understand the position. I have now traced the negotiations from the beginning. The real position is that we are endeavouring to obtain a site that is acknowledged by every one who has an intimate knowledge of London to be peculiarly suitable. Since this -matter came under my notice, I have questioned gentlemen who have been in London recently, and whose opinion I value ; gentlemen who have some idea of the suitability of the site and of ‘ the value of property in the locality. Every one whom I have questioned says that the site is a suitable one, and that if we can get it for the amount stated, the price is not excessive, whilst we shall have- very little trouble, in their opinion, in dealing with our lessees if we determine to enter upon occupation earlier than three years and a half from. now. The price is . £198,000 ; the terms are 10 per cent, cash, and the balance to remain for four years; or, rather, that was the original idea, but the new idea is tor the Bank of England to pay off the whole amount, and for the Commonwealth to pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent, or thereabouts. I am not positive as to the rate of interest, but I am informed that the Bank of England would only charge us interest on the amount that we had overdrawn. With the balances that we always have floating in London, the sum would not be considerable, whilst the arrangement would give us time to make other terms that would be more advantageous to the Commonwealth if we determined to clear off the liability altogether. I have now given the Senate all the information that could be reasonably expected from me. If other points are brought forward, and additional information is found to be necessary, I will endeavour to obtain it in the meantime, and, when replying, to satisfy every honorable senator as to the eligibility of the site, and as to the economy “of purchasing it at present rather than waiting for years, and then probably having to put up with a less suitable site.
– The terms of the motion submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council might, I think, be more properly set forth in this way - “ A proposal or invitation by the Government to purchase a pig in a poke, the said pig being marked suspicious, and the only definite thing about the proposition being the poke.”
– There is something definite about the price.
– There certainly is something very definite about the price. The most remarkable thing which struck me in listening to the Vice-President of the Executive Council was the admission that the Government that is submitting the proposition at first regarded it with suspicion. Why were Ministers suspicious? If they confess to a feeling of suspicion when approaching the proposition, although they were in possession of probably more ample information than is supplied to us, is it unreasonable that the ordinary members of the Senate, having only this printed information before them, should regard it as suspicious, and should ask for further information before they agree to commit the Commonwealth to this enormous expenditure? I am quite prepared to recognise the extreme suitability of the proposed site. I do not think anything can be said on that score. It appears to have very much to commend it. Even with the knowledge that I have of London, which dates back more years than Icare to speak about, I can say so much.
– Where is the necessity for this rush? Is not the selection of a site for the Capital of the Commonwealth of more importance than the selection of a site in London for Commonwealth offices ?
– The honorable senator’s remark regarding a “ rush “ reminds me thatwe are not to get full possession of the site if we agree to purchase it for the next three and a half years. All that we are able to do at present is to arrive at a decision in order that we may three and a half years hence be in a position to proceed to pull down a block of buildings and erect others in their place. I draw attention to one or two of the difficulties set out in this document. . One point is, as I have already indicated, that we are not to get full possession till 1912 unless we pay a price very considerably in excess of the price we are now asked’ to pay, for the privilege of calling ourselves the owners of this property, which is not to be fully ours for three and’ a half years.
– iWe get possession, but we do not get complete possession.
– All that we get is the right to collect rents from our tenants, or, in the alternative, the privilege of buying out our tenants.
– Is notthat provided for?
– No; it is set out here that if we purchase the buildings for£198,000 we shall then be in the position of the existing owner. We can collect the rents from the existing tenants, and if we want to get rid of those tenants so as to have absolute control of the property the additional sum we shall have to pay is estimated at about£20.000.
– Mr. Martin’s report is not very definite on that point.
– He is not definite anywhere; and where he is definite he is careful to definitely contradict himself. Assuming that these buildings were taken over, there is then the further fact that it will cost £16,000 to put them in a condition of repair. That is set out in the summary. In addition to that, we are told that in the event of the Commonwealth occupying the present buildings as offices the alterations would cost £46,000.
– Not in addition to the £16,000.
– I take it so. First of all, if the present buildings are retained, repairs will be necessary, which are estimated to cost £16,000.
– That is not in addition to the £46,000.
– I take the repairs referred to to be necessary for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. Then the document goes on -
In event of Commonwealth occupying present building as Government offices - estimated cost o f alterations, ^46,000.
– That surely includes the £16,000.
– I should certainly find fault if an architect whom I sent out to value a property of this kind included in the estimated cost of alterations to one part of the building the cost of the upkeep and repairs in another part.
– According to that logic, the honorable senator might as well add the £65,000 which is the estimated cost of new building with additional story.
– No, because even my honorable friend, with all his ingenuity, could not put up a new building until he had cleared the old one out of the way. I am following this document briefly in the order of the paragraphs as printed. We are informed that the owner of the property is Mr. Lyons. But it is quite evident, from the remarks of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, that he has no definite information as to whether Mr. Lyons is actually the owner or not. It is material that we should !know whether we are paying the absolute owner of this property a fair market price for it, or whether some intermediary or agent or speculator has obtained an option enabling him to come to the Commonwealth of Australia, and ask a large price for securing that option. I doubt very much whether Mr. Lyons is the freeholder of this property, and my doubts arise from the reports of Mr. Lyons himself.
– He only has am option ; that is clear.
– Then he is not the owner, and it is important that we should know that. If we are to get value for our money, we should know the man we are dealing with, and the price for which that man is willing to sell the property.
– Suppose that Mr. Lyons is an optionee, it is a fair deal.
– But I think that the man who merely has an option should tell us so. I really think he should.
– The whole question is whether the property is worth the money.
– Exactly; and the reason why I have raised this point is that the matter all comes back to the question of whether the property is worth the money. If, out of the £1.98,000 which we are to pay, some £20,000 is going into the pockets of an optionee, it is quite clear we are paying more than the property is worth. That is the reason why I attach some importance to knowing the man with whom we are dealing. Coming to the report of Mr. Martin. I find that this gentleman has given five different valuations, though I am not able to make any two of them agree. Mr. Martin may, of course, be able to do so.
– They axe in different terms.
– The first valuation is for the site as if it were a clear, empty block of land. A little later on he gives a valuation for the site plus the buildings ; and, further on, he gives the price and the cost of clearing the site. Now, one should be able to add two of those figures together and arrive at the third. But they do not agree, and, therefore, I do not see how Mr. Martin can ask us to accept his report with any degree of confidence.
– Did not that justify the Government in getting another valuation ?
– Which only adds to the confusion, because the new valuator values the property at £187,000, whereas Mr. Martin valued it at £154,000, a difference of £33,000, or one-fifth. That is to say, one man valued it at 16s. in proportion to £1 of the other man’s valuation; and yet both are supposed to be expert and reliable valuators. There are certain disabilities attached to this property. I have referred to one of them in the fact that we cannot get possession until 19 1 2, unless we pay a large sum. Another is - and I draw attention to it because I am not sufficiently familiar either with the surroundings or with the architectural necessi- ties of the case to know whether it represents a disability - that it is pointed out that it may not be possible to carry a new building to a greater height than the existing one without having to compensate surrounding owners for depriving them of their rights of light. I do not know to what extent that disability extends to the block where this site is situated. If it is a disability, it is one that ought to be set out, and to be considered by those who have to give a decision on the subject.
– Where is that information to be found ?
– On page 2 of the printed paper in the third paragraph of Mr. Martin ‘5 report it is said -
It would bc impossible, without obtaining the consent of adjoining owners, to cover the whole area of existing building with a new building of a height greater than the present.
I do not know whether the present building, carried to the height to which we could go without compensating any one, would be sufficient for our purposes, or whether it is of such a height as might be regarded in the future as ample.
– That is just the place where a skyscraper ought to be erected.
– Exactly. This condition, therefore, represents a limitation of the ordinary rights of the freeholder, and to some extent depreciates the value of the property. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that probably we do not understand the meaning of the term “ a willing buyer and a willing seller.” I take it that it implies a sale under the most advantageous circumstances, one party being keen to sell, the other party eager to buy. Could more advantageous circumstances exist for arriving at an accurate value of any property?
– And the value arrived at ought to be its fair market value.
– Yes. If the buyer wishes to purchase, he will not haggle over a few pounds. Mr. Martin values this property at £154,000, free of all leases and encumbrances, and cleared of the existing building. But in the next paragraph of his report, it is worthy of note - because we want to know whether the removal of the building would be a costly operation, or whether we might not make something by the re-sale of the materials - he says -
The quality of the materials and workmanship (as explained in the architect’s report referred to) is not better than is to be found in the better class of speculative builder’s work,, and a considerable part of the interior is not in good repair.
That suggests that it would be hardly worth while to proceed to alter the present building. We are told that the structure represents a speculative builder’s work-
– Of the better, class.
– Of the better class,, it is true, but still that work is not of the class that would be put into a public building. We do not know whether the value of the materials would compensate us for pulling down the present structure. If we acquire the proposed site, we shall probably have to erect a new building. Consequently we ought to have some information as to its cost._
– And as to how the money required will be obtained.
– Certainly. The very first act of this Government has beere to submit a proposal, the adoption of which would destroy one of the planks of its own party programme. I always understood that non-borrowing is a principle to whichthe Labour Party are attached. Yet hereis a proposition - disguise it as we may - to borrow money for the purchase of this site.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council did not say that.
– But he used wordswhich show that the Government intend toborrow. He said that they proposed repurchase this site by obtaining overdrafts from the bank. If they had the money to spare, of course they would not require any overdrafts, but if not the payments of the purchase money would be represented by overdrafts. Wrap it up as we may, that proposal means borrowing. It is an excellent business proposal if we ordinarily have a credit balance in London, and those who are responsible for it are to be commended for having hit upon a happy method of overcoming a difficulty. At this stage I merely wish to point out that the first act of the Government has been to violate one of the principles of its own party platform by a proposal to resort to borrowing. It is ‘ worthy of note that Mr. Martin valued the bare site which it is proposed to purchase at £’54,300. But on page 6 of the papers submitted for our perusal he sets out that the value of the site is £I63,750, “ “cleared and freed from the existing lease.” There is a difference of £9,450, and I assume that Mr. Martin thought that that difference represented the
I should think that some£20,000 would probably buy out all the occupying tenants, though, of course, this is merely a rough guess, as I have not the data for any even approximate estimate.
We have here a warning by the gentleman whose valuation we are asked to accept that his valuation is merely a rough guess. Before we enter into an investment of this kind, I submit that we should have something more than a rough guess to guide us. The site may be the best in the world, the investment may be the best, but the information placed before us is insufficient to enable us even to determine whether or not the investment is a good one. I venture to sav that anv honorable senator, knowing what would be required by this Parliament, could have prepared a more lucid, more business-like, and more informative document than that with which we have been favoured upon the present occasion. I cannot resist the idea that an attempt has teen made either to obscure the points upon which honorable senators would like information, or the grossest bungling has been exhibited in the preparation of this document. Half-a-dozen considerations are raised by a perusal of it as to points upon which no information is vouchsafed. The “Vice-President of the Executive Council himself referred to one of these when he spoke of the rates payable upon the property which it is proposed to acquire. Surely we might have expected our representative in London to have informed us of our liability in that connexion.
– Not our present representative.
– Any representative of the Commonwealth who is worth the salarv which Captain Collins receives should have “furnished us with information such as a private representative would have supplied to his principals. If an honorable senator thbught of purchasing either a small cottage or a big block of land, I venture to say that one of his first acts would be to ascertain his liability in respect of rates and other charges. Captain Collins ought to have known the sort of information that we required. Yet the VicePresident of the Executive Council has
– I have given the municipal rates.
– That is a liability in respect of which Captain Collins has l>een silent. Why should he have been silent upon it? The new valuation does not appear to help us one bit. If the matter were urgent, probably we might be justified in affirming that die site, being a suitable one, ought to be acquired, and submit to any loss that might be incurred as the result of our action. But where is the urgency of this matter? Surely there is no urgency in acquiring a property _of which we cannot obtain full possession till 1912. It has been said that Mr. Lyons will withdraw his offer if we do not close with it. I do not think that he will. If lie has a good option, he will not let such a good prospective purchaser as the Commonwealth go.
– Not so long as he can hold the oDtion.
– Exactly. There is sufficient in the document to which I have alluded to justify us in asking for fuller information before we confirm the offer which has been conditionally made. I am perfectly certain that the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not want to land the Commonwealth in a bad purchase. As we cannot obtain possession of the property till 1912 unless we pay another big sum in addition to the purchase money, it would be discreet to lay this proposal aside till we have secured information which will satisfy the suspicions of the Vice-President of the Executive Council and allay my own doubts. By so doing, we should stand to lose nothing and to gain everything. The present Government are not responsible for these negotiations, and if’ the Vice-President of the Executive Council had satisfied himself as to the bona fides of the transaction, I should not make this appeal to him. But his own remarks upon the subject evidence that he entertains some doubts of the wisdom of concluding this purchase. That being so, I ask him to postpone the consideration of this proposal until he can obtain for the information of
Parliament, and the satisfaction of the Government, the particulars in which the. document before us is so lamentably deficient.
– It is not very long since 1 was in the Old Country, and I hold certain views about the position which Australia ought to, and .does, occupy there, that I should like to put before honorable senators. Some twelve months ago I was in the little city of Exeter.
– “ Little” ?
– Yes. It is a city with a population of about 50,000. Whilst there, I had occasion to send a cable to the north-western portion of Canada, and at the post-office I was unable to ascertain the proper telegraph station to which my communication should be addressed. In talking the matter over with the clerk, I was advised to visit the Canadian office in that city. I did so; and received the information which I sought. During the next few days, as the result of inquiry, I found that the building in Exeter was one of ten separate institutions of the kind which the Dominion had established throughout the provinces of Great Britain for the dissemination of information regarding Canadian affairs. When I visited London, and proceeded to Trafalgar Square, I came across the Immigration Office of Canada.. But there was no feign of Australia being represented anywhere in that neighbourhood except so far as the advertisement of the Orient Steam Navigation Company was concerned. Consequently, I felt small again. I recollect that some years ago a well-known public man scoke of Trafalgar Square as “the finest site in Europe.” Whilst in London, I saw Captain Collins, and I quite indorse the view which he informed me Lord Jersey entertained regarding the possibility of using the area embraced in the Strand site. Lord Jersey had said that if the Commonwealth wanted to spend only a certain sum of money in the acquisition of a site, it could accomplish its end by purchasing a less frontage to the Strand, and erecting thereon buildings of a great elevation. I said that would be a sensible thing to do, and I afterwards wrote to Captain Collins that he should not let anything I had said be accepted as in any way. an approval of the Strand site. I mav say that Mr. B. R. Wise, a gentleman who is known to many honorable senators, was at the time in London, and spoke to me two or three days before I left. He said that he considered the site in the Strand entirely unsuitable, because it was away from the business centre. Australia needs to be well represented, and I unhesitatingly say that a few thousand pounds more or less ought not to be considered in dealing with a matter of this kind. We may debate the question as long as we please, and appoint as many agents as we please to report upon London sites, but we cannot do better than be guided by the advice of a man like Lord Jersey.
– We have not got it.
– We have in in the papers.
– No. we have nothing at all from Lord Jersey.
– I am quite willing that an addition should be made to the motion, leaving the matter in the hands of Lord Jersey.
– Why Lord Jersey. Is it on account of his title ?
– Because he is greatly interested in Australian affairs, and has specially devoted himself to the consideration of this matter.
– Lord Jersey was consulted in this matter.
– So I thought. I believe that he approved of the purchase of this site, and, in fact, I do not see how he could do otherwise.
– The honorable senator will see from the papers that correspondence took place, and that Captain Collins had frequent conferences with Lord Jersey.
– It is a very difficult matter to secure a specially suitable and valuable site in London. Honorable senators are aware that London is a huge place in which hundreds of thousands of sites might be obtained. But Australia does not desire merely to obtain so many square feet of land, but a site in the very centre of the heart of the Empire, where it can erect such a building as will, put us at once in the race with Canada in the promotion of our affairs.
– We require to be represented in at least a dozen places in the provinces. That would be infinitely more practicable.
– I regard that as a subsidiary matter.
– If we spend all the money on the purchase of this site, we shall have none to spend on really practical work.
– I have noticed something in the papers which will give honorable senators an idea of the quality of this site. I notice that the New York Life Insurance Company have a suite of fourteen rooms in the building. These great American insurance companies are very particular about the offices which they occupy, and, as a rule, obtain the very best -available. I take it as some sort of indorsement of the value of this site that the great New York Life Insurance Company occupies a suite of rooms in this building.
– It does not much matter where the office of a life insurance company is situated, as the business goes on all the same. If the office of the Australian Mutual Provident Society were in the back blocks it would make little difference.
– Honorable senators are aware that in certain places in London the traffic is enormous. They are resorted to by visitors from all parts of the United Kingdom, and, indeed, from all parts of the Empire ; and it would be a. distinct advantage to have Australia, as well as Canada, represented in such a centre of the Empire City.
– It is the people, and not the money, that we want.
– We want both people and money. It is to be regretted that full details have not been supplied as to the rates payable in connexion with this site. But I direct attention to the fact that more than half of the tenancies of the building are subject to the payment of rates. Honorable senators will notice that one tenant, paying £450 a year, also pays rates. One paying , £275, two paying each £400, and a number of others have to pay rates in addition to their rent.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that the rates payable by the Commonwealth would amount to about £2,000.
– The New York Life Insurance Company, the biggest tenant of the lot, does not pay rates. It is only the small tenants who pay rates.
– Not at all. The honorable senator will find that tenancies representing a rental of about £4,000 are subject to the payment of rates. So that the matter of the rates is not so serious as honorable senators might think. Another proof of how great the demand is for accommodation in a building situated in this locality is the fact that at the time this paper was prepared the whole of the unoccupied portion of the building represented a rental of only £190 out of a total rental estimated at £9,740. We may, therefore, assume that rooms there may be easily let, and that the rentals paid cannot be regarded as excessive. With regard to the terms of the proposed purchase, I must say that I was very much surprised, after reading the papers, to find that the present Government were prepared to agree to them. The members of the present Government have always posed as cash people, and as being opposed to loans, and I find it difficult to understand their willingness to occupy a sound, common-sense business position such as they take up in connexion with this proposal. I have no wish to say any more on the matter, except that I propose to vote for the motion, but should like to add to it a condition that the arrangement be left to Lord Jersey to complete.
– Like Senator Pulsford, it is not very long since I had the pleasure of being in London, and I went with Captain Collins to see the site which it is proposed should be purchased. It struck me that if there was one site which, above all others in London, would suit us. it was the very site now under offer. I do not believe that we could get a better site in all London, except, perhaps, a site near the one proposed, on the other side of the street, but it is of twice the size, and would cost a great deal more money. Honorable senators must remember that sites such as this in London have a great prospective value, and even from the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view, I believe that in the next ten years we should find that we had made a great bairgain. if we purchased this site at the price proposed. With regard to the payment of interest, I gather from the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the Bank of England is prepared to give us the benefit of our current account balance as against an overdraft for the balance of the purchase-money. The Bank of England does not, as a rule, allow interest on deposits at call. It is therefore a concession that we should have to pay interest only on the amount of the balance of purchase money in excess of the amount of our funds in hand in the bank. That is a very advantageous position for us to be in, and I commend the present Government for following in the footsteps of their predecessors in this matter. We must remember that they did not originate these proposals, but I think they are acting patriotically in desiring that the country should secure the benefit of action initiated by their predecessors. I much prefer this site lo the one in the Strand. This property is freehold, whilst the property suggested in the Strand is leasehold. I, for one, always strongly object to pay a long price for a leasehold, knowing that all improvements must go to the landlord at the termination of the lease. With respect to the valuation, I think it must be regarded as satisfactory. A valuation of something like £187,000 was put upon the bare land, and surely the improvements are worth the difference between that sum and £198,000. One point to which I wish to direct attention has not, I think, been referred to before, and that is the height of the building. The building at present erected on the land is apparently only five stories high above the street. I think it is very desirable that, if possible, we should ascertain whether there would be any objection to carrying the building higher. I think we might have a very much higher building than that at’ present on the site. The site may be described as situated on a round corner, and has three frontages, one to Northumberlandavenue, one to Charing Cross, and another to Parliament-street. When in London, I had the pleasure of meeting Lord Jersey at the Commonwealth Offices, and he seemed very favourably impressed with this site, but he did not go into particulars as to its value, because the vendor was then asking very much more than he is now prepared to accept. 1 think that the price originallyasked for this site was £240,000. The seller has since come down to -^”198,000. Mr. Lyons, who is selling the site, is an exceedingly wealthy man. His business in London is a remarkable one. He carries on the business of a large restaurant-keeper in various places in London, and last year the profits of the few partners in it amounted rp £270,000. Such a man is not likely to reduce the price of this site below what he is now prepared to take.
– If he has come down £42,000, there is no reason why he should not come down a little more.
– I think the chances lie the other way, because Senator Mulcahy knows that a person having something to sell very often in the first instance asks more for it than he is willing to take. 1 remind honorable senators that the income from the building will very nearly pay the interest on the purchase money. It is probable that we may not have to pay any interest at all on the balance of the purchase money until 1912. I told Mr. Deakin lately that I was delighted that his Government had made up their minds to secure this site in preference to the one in the Strand. Of course, I have not a great knowledge of the value of property in London, but I know from the experience of an institution in which I am interested that it is difficult to secure such a site at anything like a reasonable price. At the present time the institution with which I am interested is very anxious to secure a site in London, but the price asked is enormous. I think that for business purposesthis site in Trafalgar Square would be as valuable to us as any site in London, i strongly support the proposal of the Government.
.- I feel somewhat in a difficulty regarding this question. While I consider that the Commonwealth ought to be worthily represented in London, and that the first step in that direction is to have a proper building, at the same time there is a vagueness and an uncertainty about this proposal, and a desire to rush it through hastily that bids one pause. It looks to me as if there is more under the surface than appears to the eye. I have not been able to look thoroughly into the summary of the negotiations, as I did not receive a copy of the paper until after I entered the chamber. It is a great pity that we have not been allowed a little longer time in which to consider the proposal. The point which strikes me first of all is that the valuations of the site have been made practically by one individual. There are thousands ‘of reputable valuers in London whom the Government could have asked by cablegram for an indorsement of the proposed purchase.
– There were two valuations by different valuers.
– There is only one valuer mentioned.
– The site was valued1 by two different persons.
– As regards the value of London land I cannot place much reliance on the judgment of Captain Collins. He may be a very good man in buying warlike materiel and stores; but if I were doing business for myself I should not place much reliance on his judgment. I prefer that the choice of this site should be indorsed by reputable men who have a knowledge of the city of London and the methods of doing business there.
– The honorable senator has two valuations - Mr. Martin’s and Lord Jersey’s.
– We have not Lord Jersey’s valuation. We are told of certain conversations with him, but we have no indorsement of the proposed purchase by him. If we had such an indorsement it would overcome my difficulty to some extent. While the negotiations were taking place, there was ample time to cable to some bank managers in London, representing institutions here, or other reputable men, and ask whether they could indorse the transaction on the terms offered to the Commonwealth. I believe that both Governments have been somewhat remiss in that regard.
– That has been done. Since the present Government took office a different firm has been asked to give a valuation, and it has given a higher valuation than the original one.
– They have given a valuation £1:1,000 less than the price asked.
– Their valuation excludes the building.
– For this sum of £.198,000 we are to get only the bare ground, because, according to all accounts, the building is not in a very good state of repair. In fact, Mr. Martin says, I think, that it would cost £46,000 to put it in repair, while a new building would cost £65,000. That seems to me an absurdly low estimate for a new building such as the Commonwealth would require. Probably before it was completed the expenditure would run into at least £300,000. I think that no one can take exception to the site itself. I was in London a little time ago, and can say_ that it is an excellent site. If I was satisfied that the Commonwealth would get a really good bargain, I should have no hesitation in voting for the purchase of it, provided that the price was in any way reasonable. I should like to see the motion carried with an addition to the effect that a further reference should be made to representative men in London, and that if they indorsed the transaction as being one in the interests of the Commonwealth, they should have power to settle the matter right off. In that way we should safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth, and secure an excellent site, without feeling that we were paying an unduly large sum.
– In listening to the debate, I ha.ve been wondering why the Commonwealth is asked to purchase this site. I imagine that if it is intended to establish offices for the Commonwealth in England, it is to be done for, at any rate, two reasons, the first having reference to finance, which,. I admit, involves association with the City of London, and the other having reference to the securing of a desirable class of immigrants. I assume that the proposed expenditure on this site is to be devoted to those two purposes. Now, for our financial requirements, nothing more is necessary than to rent a suitable office. As I heard honorable senators talk of the possibilities of enlarging this building, I wondered what was going into it. I cannot conceive that the Commonwealth intends to occupy the five stories. While it would be a factor against the purchase of the building, if we were indulging in its purchase from a speculative point of view, that we could not add to its height, I cannot see that that is a matter of importance in considering the question of the desirability of securing offices for the purposes I have mentioned. For many reasons I object to this expenditure. I suspect the whole transaction. I think that there is scarcely an honorable senator who does not suspect it.
– In what way does the honorable senator suspect it? .
– I could better answer that question by telling the honorable senator in what way I do not suspect it. I suspect the whole transaction. I have very little doubt that some one will make a very large profit out of the Commonwealth if this price is paid for the site. But I do not know why we should secure this or any other site, and that is my main point. From the practical point of view, it would be infinitely better for the Commonwealth to rent a suitable office in which to transact its financial business in London, arid to follow the example of Canada by spending the balance of the money available in circulating throughout the country districts of England the real, not illusory, advantages to be obtained in Australia. We might save at least £100,000 of the amount which is proposed to be paid for this site, and obtain infinitely better results by arranging for suitable agencies in almost every county in England. That would be easily within our resources, and it would produce far better results than the larger expenditure proposed to be made in London. As I listened to the debate, I was surprised to hear one senator after another talking about the financial possibilities. I do not intend to be ai party to allowing Commonwealth funds, to be made the subject of speculation in connexion with a building in London. It is not our province to indulge in a commercial enterprise of that sort, nor is it desirable that we should. Some honorable senators were inclined to support the proposition because, as they said, “ We may make money out of the transaction ; the land will improve in value, and we shall get so much rental.” I think that such considerations should not be imported into the discussion of this question. We have no mandate from the people to invest £200,000 in a land speculation in London, and certainly we are not qualified to say whether the speculation would be a good: Or bad one, even if authorized.
– I have not heard the proposal supported on that ground.
– I have heard several honorable senators talk about the advantages which may be derived from the letting of rooms. We want representation in London for two purposes - finance and immigration. Under which head can the investment of £198,000 be put? Under neither. We ought to avoid being drawn into this expenditure. I do not want to say anything about the attitude of the Government with respect to financing this proposal. But in mv opinion if would be infinitely better for the Commonwealth to rent, an office in London if we want representation there, and we could do that much more easily than we could secure a site. On these broader grounds I intend to vote against the motion, with or without any of the various addenda which have been subgested, but which, to my mind, would not improve it at all. We should not be justified in Spending £200,000 in purchasing a property in London. I consider that it would be an unsound transaction, even if we were well advised, and in this particular case there is no doubt that we are illadvised.
– Lord Jersey approves of the site.
– The honorable senator may have been in private communication with1 Lord Jersey, but the Senate has only access to the information which is contained in this printed document, and in which Lord Jersey is referred to twice. In a letter, Captain Collins says -
A new road is in process of construction extending in a direct line from the Mall to Trafalgar Square. In the opinion of Lord Jersey and others this will add greatly to the value of the site.
No doubt the construction of a road would add to the value of the site, but that is no reason why the Commonwealth should pay this price for it. The only other reference made to Lord Jersey is the following -
Further correspondence took place, and Captain Collins had frequent conference with’ Lord Jersey, whose valued assistance has been highly appreciated, and who considers the site eminently suitable for the purposes of the Commonwealth.
So do we ali. No one doubts that it is an eminently suitable site. But. so far as Captain Collins reports him. Lord Jersey is absolutely silent as to whether the price asked, is a fair one. He says not a word about that.
– Yes, but we had Senators Walker and Pulsford on that point.
– No doubt they lead the honorable senator, and indicate to him always the direction in which he should vote. But I reserve to myself for as long as I can a certain degree of independence. While I attach value to the statements of those two honorable senators, I do not intend on this occasion to follow them blindly when it is a question of spending £200,000 of Commonwealth money. I shall vote against the motion.
– Last- year I took strong exception to the proposed purchase of the Strand site, and I asked then why Commonwealth Offices in London were wanted. I asked was it to encourage immigration. Canada was going to spend £400,000 in building in carrying out a large immigration policy. I inquired if the Commonwealth wanted a social or ornamental office, or a commercial office. I instanced the experience of South Australia, which inscribed its own stock, and found that for financial reasons it had to take an office in the city, and not in the West End. For what purpose do we want offices in London? We have not obtained the consent of the States to join us in the occupation of this large building. Are we going to indulge in commercial speculations, or do the Labour Party, intend to enter upon a policy of immigration? Do they require one of the finest sites in London for offices, in order to attract immigrants? Whether the site is or is not worth the money asked for it I do not know. I do not pretend to know the value of properties in London. But 1 do know that the conference of AgentsGeneral held in London a few years ago laid it down that it would be far better for the Commonwealth, instead of having a large office of its own, to rent an office at from £2,000 to £4,000 a year, suitable for the purposes for which it was likely to be required for a great many years to come. I join with Senator Clemons in thinking that it would be very much better to rent an office than go to an expenditure of at least £260,000, or possibly £300,000, without knowing what we are going to do with the building when we get it. Canada for years past has had small offices scattered all over England and Scotland, and also has travelling vans for the purpose of encouraging immigration. Canada requires a large advertising medium in th, Strand to assist her in her immigration policy. But our policy so far has not been favorable to encouraging immigration on a large scale. I should be very glad if it were. If the members of the present Government intend to encourage immigration of a useful character, more power to their elbow. I shall be glad to help them. But I shall vote against this enormous expenditure at the present time.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria) [5.56]. - I thought that we had got be-, yond the stage of considering the advisableness or otherwise of securing offices for the Commonwealth in London. I can only ask the Senate to consider what has actually taken place. On the Estimates last year j. there was a lengthy discussion based on a vote of £1,000 which was placed there with the object of taking steps to secure a site for Commonwealth Offices in London. We were then negotiating for a site, the freehold of which would cost a sum much in excess of that which it is now proposed to expend. Therefore, it was the determination of Parliament that offices should, at a large expenditure, be secured, the Commonwealth following the example of other important States in this connexion. The passing of that item authorized the Government to secure the Strand site if possible. It was understood that the rent of the leasehold property was not to exceed 15s. per superficial foot, and if it could not be secured for that,
Ave should look for some other site. It must therefore be taken that there was an authorization by Parliament for the Government to negotiate for a site. The Government found themselves unable k» pay for the Strand site the amount asked for it by. the London County Council. The result was that we had to look elsewhere for a suitable site. The question that Parliament has to consider, assuming that we have come to the conclusion that it is desirable that we should have a London site, is, first : whether this is a suitable site ; and, secondly^ whether the price to Lie paid for it is fair and reasonable? I dfr not think’ that the suitability of the sit-? can be questioned. Indeed, it has n; been questioned, even by those who ar opposed to its purchase. If we desire any evidence on this point, we have the expert recommendation of Mr. Howard Martin, who speaks in the most pronounced terms, and adds that he knows of no uncovered site in London with advantages of position, equal to this one. He adds that whenever there is occasion for such a site to be acquired, it is almost invariably the case that it is necessary to pay tor it a sum far above its market value in buying up existing interests and otherwise clearing the site. He also says that he does not think there is any site in London with equal advantages of position and nearly equal area at present uncovered and in the market. This is the advice of Mr. Howard Martin, the expert employed by the Commonwealth to advise us ; in addition to which we have the advice of several- honorable senators who know the position, who have seen it, and who have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the most suitable sites that could be procured. The next question is whether the price is reasonable. In this respect we have, first of all, the original valuation of Mr. Howard Martin, who estimated the value at £154,3°°-
– What is the standing of Mr. Martin in London ? “
– He is a recognised valuator of high standing
– We can gauge his standing from the fact that he got £300 for this valuation.
- Mr. Howard Martin assumes that the property is worth- £154,300, as between a willing buyer and a willing seller.
– That is his valuation of the site without buildings.
– He says in one place that -
Tlie property is worth as between a willing buyer and a willing seller ^154,300.
But Mr. Martin points out that it is a rare thing to be able to secure a site in such a prominent position, free and clear of obligations of one kind or another in the way of tenancies or building rights. Therefore he says that we must add between 20 and 40 per cent, to the valuation just mentioned, in order to arrive at the true value.
– The 20 or 40 per cent, is to be added to his valuation of £198,000.
– No; as I understand it, to the value of £154,000.
– No. Mr. Martin says that it has to be added to the £198,000, and he adds that the site would be well worth £220,000. But he wobbles a good deal.
– I am taking his original valuation of the site of £154, 300 free from all encumbrances, to which we have to add 20 or 40 per cent. ; but it is quite true that Mr. Martin says that no person could expect to buy the property and get vacant possession for less than from £200,000 to £220,000. We have also a valuation made by recognised valuers at the instance of the present Government. Their valuation is £187,000, free of the present building. We may assume, therefore, that the building is worth something, though probably it would be worth very little if we had to pull it down and substitute a building of our own. In these circumstances, it is, I think, reasonable to say that if the site is suitable, the consideration of a thousand pounds or so one way or the other is a, trifling one, having regard to the importance of getting the right sort of place. The result of the negotiations certainly shows that we have a suitable site offered to us at a fair and reasonable price. I, therefore, submit that we are justified in affirming the action of the Government without delay. But it has been stated by some honorable senators that Mr., Lyons has but a mere option, and is taking advantage of that option in selling to us. I do not know where that information was obtained from. I have seen nothing in the papers to justify the assumption. What I see upon the papers is that Mr. Lyons is selling as a freeholder. If he is selling to us as the owner of the freehold, we obtain the freehold, or we do not pay our money. We are dealing with a man of recognised financial status. Mr. Lyons is in an enormous way of business, is looked upon as a financial magnate, and his contract in this connexion is perfectly sound, I venture to say. Therefore, whether he has merely the option or not is beside the question. The question for us is that we are dealing with a man of recognised financial status, and that if we do not get the freehold, we do not pay our money. I submit, under the circumstances, that the acquisition of the site would be reasonable. It is recognised that we ought to be represented in England. I, therefore, hold that we should be well advised in utilizing this opportunity of confirming the tentative contract that lias been entered into ; and I hope that the Senate will see its way to carry the motion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.8]. - This motion brings us face to face with the question of whether we are prepared to sanction the immediate expenditure, either by borrowing money or otherwise, of a sum of at least £200,000. Certainly, if we are to make arrangements with the present occupants, £20,000 or £40,000 more would be involved. If we are to effect any repairs, £16,000 in addition will have to be spent. If we are to make alterations to make the building suitable, we must spend £46,000 more. If we carry the building up another story, we must spend a further £65,000.
– The £65,000 is for a new building.
– Oh, no. That remark shows how confused and absurd the information laid before us is. If we were to put up a new building on this site, the cost would be more like £500,000 than £65,000. It must be obvious that the £65,000 must be for adding to the present building accommodation suitable for the Commonwealth, or more suitable to our ideas than the existing building offers. That is the proposition which we are asked to sanction - a proposition which, according to the document before us, involves an expenditure of any sum between £200,000 and £300,000 in respect of property, of which, it is admitted, we cannot gain full possession for three or four years.
– Even if we did obtain possession of it. the Commonwealth would not be well advertised if it had to erect a building upon it with foreign capital.
– It is quite natural that Senator Best should seek to vindicate this most extravagant proposal, which emanated from the late Government, and which has been handed down bv them to the present occupants of the Treasury bench.
– Does the honorable senator think that they handed it over to r us?
– I think so; or was it a fair exchange? Therefore no attention need be paid to the circumstance that this Parliament voted £1,000 last year in connexion with the acquisition of Commonwealth Offices in London. By doing so, it merely expressed a desire that the Commonwealth should be housed in that city. That is all that I take it its action signified. ‘ We have plenty to do with Commonwealth money here. For instance, we have old-age pensions to finance. Are we going to tie up £200,000 or £300,000 in acquiring this site, as though we were land speculators, knowing that the present premises must remain as they are for a few years, or that we must pay a large sum to get earlier possession of them. Under existing conditions, we should derive no interest upon our outlay - we should be merely flogging a dead horse for the sake of advertising the Commonwealth bv the erection of a huge building on the most conspicuous site in London. I consider “that this proposal is entirely premature. My view is that we should first catch our hare. If we are going to house the High Commissioner in a palatial manner, we ought first to appoint him. He ought to be on the spot as the responsible officer of the Commonwealth to engage in the negotiations for the acquisition of a site.
– We want the cage before we get the bird.
– Apparently, it is not a cage, but an estate, in which the High Commissioner is to revel. If we follow the example of Canada, there is no necessity for us at this early stage of our existence to embark upon a huge investment of this kind. From 1867 up till the present time, Canada has had its office in Victoria-street, London. For the purposes of a central office, we do not require a better site. Of course, it is not there that we require to put up placards regarding our productions and our resources.
– Canada also has a depot near the proposed site.
– No. The proposed site is on the corner between Northumberland-avenue and Whitehall, and I think that it is an excellent one. But we do not require a site, the acquisition of which, before we put a stone upon it, will cost £200,000 or £300,000, and which will afterwards involve us in a huge outlayin the erection of buildings worthy of the Commonwealth. In my judgment, that would not be a reproductive expenditure, and at this stage of our existence as a Commonwealth, we ought to consider what expenditure will be reproductive. I merely mention the fact that for forty-one years the Canadian Dominion has had its High Commissioners - from Sir Charles Tupper to Lord Strathcona - housed in chambers » in Victoria-street.
– That is a very out-of-the-way place.
Sena)tor Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- But it is quite good enough for office purposes.
– Our own offices are there.
– I am aware of that. I admit that those offices ought to be much better tRan they are. But for the central office in London we require something more modest and more in keeping with the object that we have in view than would be an expenditure of £200,000 upon the acquisition of a property in Trafalgar Square which one public ‘man has described as “the finest site in Europe.” This enormous expenditure is entirely premature. I have no objection to the acquisition of a freehold for our offices, but I contend that the Commonwealth does not require a site of such magnitude as that proposed or one the purchase of which would prove so expensive. In the third place, I say that no man who desired to act prudently in regard to his own affairs would make such a purchase upon the material which is before us. I have read the document presented for our consideration very closely, I listened attentively to the excellent analysis to which it was subjected by Senator Millen, and I say that nobody could do that without concluding -that for some reason or other the valuator upon whose valuation action was taken by Captain Collins is not to be trusted. I do not say that upon moral grounds he is not to be trusted-
– What about the second valuation?
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON.- My honorable friend is quite right to remind me of that. But I would point out that we have no information as to its details. That valuation has been obtained by cable, and I commend my honorable friends for their action in that connexion, because it justifies the statement of Senator Millen that they are themselves suspicious. May I ask whether that cable was sent through Captain Collins?
– Yes. Consequently the honorable senator’s indictment is aimed at two valuators and at Captain ‘Collins.
– Captain Collins is a most excellent officer in his way, but he is not capable of forming an opinion upon this matter.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he would carry out our instructions to obtain a valuation from a reputable firm?
– The Minister of Defence has no right to put any honorable senator in the position of saying something detrimental to Captain Collins. Evidently the latter is wedded to this site, and he would be more than human if, either directly or indirectly, he did not convey his feelings upon the subject to the most impartial man in London.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council himself admitted that the Government were suspicious.
– The justifiable outcome of our suspicion was that they obtained a second valuation. But that valuation represents a sum of £11,000 less than the price we are asked to pay, without including the £20,000 or the £40,000 which we would have to give to determine the existing tenancies. An honorable senator has already pointed out that one of the tenants is the New York Life Insurance Company, and Mr. Martin has declared that it would prove the most difficult tenant to deal with. Of course it would endeavour to bleed the Commonwealth as much as possible. It has ‘been said that if we do not close with the present offer Mr. Lyons will withdraw the option. There is not much fear of that. When we are purchasing from a man who holds an option, we have a right to see that he does not bleed us too much. Senator Millen spoke about buying “ a pig in a poke,” but I contend that the position is very much worse than that. Moreover, it is clogged with difficulties. During the course of his remarks, Senator Walker admitted that his attention had not previously been directed to the fact that a difficulty might be experienced in regard to existing rights of light in connexion with any new building that we might erect. If we purchased the proposed site, we should have to pay through the nose to get rid of the present tenants, and we might not be able to erect a building of the height that we would be justified in adopting. That fact alone would prevent me from voting for this proposal.
– The present building is five stories high.
– It may be in front, but it may not be behind. Senator Walker has already pointed out that it possesses three frontages. It is situated on a corner. It may be that the occupants at the rear, who have access to light, of which we have no particulars-
– The building may be increased to five stories high without experiencing any such difficulty.
– Where is that stated?
SenatorPearce. - In the files at the office.
– Mr. Martin says that he has valued the property in two ways -
He has valued it both from the stand-poinl of a willing buyer and a willing seller. The last paragraph of his report reads -
I ought, perhaps, to add that I know of no uncovered site in London with advantages of position equal to those of this building, and that, whenever there is occasion for such a site to be acquired, it is almost invariably the case that it is necessary to pay for it a sum far above its market value, in buying up existing interests.
That, I take it, refers to the buying out either of the leaseholders or of the man who holds the option - the middleman. When Mr. Martin’s attention was drawn to that paragraph in his report, he stated - as will be seen by reference to his next letter -
In my opinion, the present market value of this site, if in the market, cleared and free from the existing lease, would be£163, 750 to builders, speculators, or others willing to buy it in the ordinary way of business.
What is it proposed that the Commonwealth should do? Ought it not to buy the site in the ordinary way of business? This is the kind of recommendation on which we are asked to sanction the expenditure of this money. Mr. Martin says -
But as the site (like, I think, every other site of equal area and advantage of position in London) is at present covered with occupied buildings, I think no one for whose purpose this position is specially suitable, and who requires the whole site for the purpose of immediately erecting a building for his own occupation could expect to buy the property and get vacant possession for less than from£200,000 to£220,000.
This valuator enters into these subtle distinctions in order to make it appear that it is worth our while to pay this amount. In the same paragraph he says that to a person buying the property in the ordinary way of business it is worth , £163,750. But for the Commonwealth, apparently, it is worth £200,000 or £220,000. Will any one say that as a speculator he would be justified in giving £163,750 for this property? People speculate for the purpose of making big profits, and why should we be called upon to sanction an expenditure of £200,000 or £220,000 for the purchase of this property ? In a letter received from Captain Collins, Mr. Martin is quoted as saying -
He thought, also, that if the property could be obtained for£200,000 subject to these existing tenancies, the Commonwealth might be able to deal successfully with them at a moderate cost.
And when Mr. Martin was asked to say how much that moderate cost would be, he stated it roughly at £20,000, as being probably sufficient to deal with all the existing tenants. If this is not a proposal to buy “ a pig in a poke,” I do not know what it is. Why should we sanction the throwing away of £220,000 or £240,000 before we put a brick on the place?
– And before we have anything to put into it.
– And, as my honorable friend says,before we have anything to put into it? It is a little too much to ask honorable senators to sanction such a proposal. If we are to advertise the Commonwealth we should ask ourselves whether we can best do it by spending money ona huge palatial building in London. If we are to do that kind of thing and are to squander the people’s money by erecting a building like Parliament House at Westminster, the site suggested is probably a very good one. From a business point of view I consider the Strand site better ; but there is no doubt that this site opposite the Grand Hotel and in view of the National Gallery is a very good one. I do not wish to depreciate it as a site, but I do ‘say that it would be foolish, extravagant, and wanton of us to sanction the expenditure of £200,000 on the acquisition of this site, especially if we are to acquire it with borrowed money.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5p.m.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [7.45]. - The fact that the site that is now submitted is a freehold and not a leasehold, as was that formerly considered by the Senate, rather appeals to me. I know the site now suggested, and it certainly is an admirable one. Although it is perhaps half-a-mile further west than the site previously considered in this chamber I am not at all sure that having an abundant open space in front of it, instead of being merely at the side of a whirling traffic, it is not more commanding and will not receive a greater share of attention from the world at large than the site which was formerly considered. I have to thank the courtesy of the Vice-President of the Executive Council for a photograph showing a portion of locality, including the Nelson Monument, in Trafalgar-square. I suppose there will be no objection to my mentioning an historical fact in connexion with the Nelson Column, particularly as my reference is entirely Australian in character. It will be recollected that in the early days of Australian settlement several attempts were made to secure the passage of the Blue Mountains. The great surgeon Bass made an heroic attempt. Another heroic attempt was made by Henry Hacking, quartermaster of the Sinus, after whom Port Hacking, in the National Park of New South Wales, was named. Various other persons made splendid efforts to cross the Blue Mountains, which hedged in the infant settlement of Australia, so that the settlers were unable to grow the food they required, and had to depend upon importations from the other side of the world. The third Governor of Australia was Philip Gidley King, a Royal Navy captain, and a grand man. There was in the service of Australia in those bygone times the son of a refugee from the French Revolution, a young man who became ensign in the New South Wales corps. He was a very intelligent officer, to wit, Ensign Barrallier. He had done some excellent surveying about Corner Inlet, in Victoria, and at Newcastle, then known as Kingstown, after Governor King. The Governor thought that Barrallier would be a useful man to try to cross the Blue Mountains, and he applied to Colonel Patterson, the Military Commandant, for his appointment to undertake the work.
– The honorable senator is a long way from Trafalgar Square.
– I am quite off the track for the moment, but the President will find that I shall make my remarks absolutely pertinent to the site we are now asked to consider. Colonel Patterson objected to Ensign Barrallier’s services being utilized for this purpose. Thereupon Governor King, with the ability often to be found in naval officers, appointed young Barrallier as his aide-de-camp. Of course, the Commandant of the troops could not object to that. Having made Barrallier his aide-de-camp, Governor King, with a whimsicality that is at least interesting, appointed him as his ambassador to the King of the Mountains, and sent him off on an exploring tour with soldiers in scarlet coats, stiff leather stocks, and stiff shakos on their heads. Barrallier set out with a bullock dray drawn by two bullocks and a few assigned convicts to conquer the mountains, and, if possible, meet the King. He crossed the mountains, and was the earliest to do so, without knowing it. His map shows he crossed them. He was brought up by the Abercrombie Ranges, at some distance on the western side. Other things happened to Barrallier, but he subsequently settled in England as an engineer officer, after military service in other’ parts of the Empire. It was Ensign Barrallier who crossed the Blue Mountains in Australia, who built the Nelson Column in front of the site submitted by the Government for our consideration to-day. I am sure that our regard for Australian antiquities will be considered a fair excuse for my narration of this bit of forgotten history, and for pointing out that in the immediate frontage of the site submitted Australia has a kind of antiquarian interest, which, if I had not related this historical fact, might have been utterly unknown to honorable senators. The site formerly submitted for our consideration was a leasehold site, with some rather peculiar surroundings. There was in the immediate neighbourhood of it a Cafe Chantant, some kind of French theatre, some sort of restaurant, and it was said something that might be described as a “universal provider.” In this case we are offered a freehold, and I have a difficulty in deciding my vote on the question, because of the difference between the Government’s valuation and die price at which the property is offered. I do not think there is any need to suggest, as one honorable senator did this afternoon, that this proposition involves an expenditure of about £500,000. There is nothing in the papers to warrant such a statement. I see that, in order to make the building perfectly suitable for the purposes of the Commonwealth, it is estimated that an expenditure of £46,000 will be necessary. But that does not mean that the Commonwealth is going to be the sole occupant of these premises, or that the Commonwealth Government will not draw a large revenue from the portions of the building which they do not require. It is impossible to suppose that the needs of the Commonwealth Government will require the occupancy of the whole of the building. We are offered a freehold title, and the site is undoubtedly one of the very finest positions in London, with the expansive area of Trafalgar Square in front. And let it be noted that the Nelson Column stands on what has been described as the finest city site in Europe. It is well known that, although you may have a great volume of traffic passing along a narrow street like the Strand, in front of the site previously submitted here, you do not give the public an opportunity of gaining a knowledge of the buildings, and a knowledge of the occupancy of them, to the same extent as you do where you have a magnificent expanse in front of your site. People can see more then. For instance, if the building in which we are assembled stood in Little Collins-street, it would be lost. But with a fine wide street in front of it, and another street running at a right angle from it, there is every opportunity for the building to occupy a position in the minds of the people which it could not possibly occupy if in a narrow street like the Strand. Therefore, in this instance there is not only an advantage in respect of title, but a large advantage in respect of position. There is one other point which I think some critics of the scheme have overlooked, and it is that properties have two values. I am speaking as a sworn valuator under the Real Property Act of New South Wales, and therefore I am not talking about a matter of which I have no knowledge. Properties, I -repeat, have two values. There is an investment value, which represents the earning of a certain percentage. There is also a good-will value.
– A prospective value.
– One meaning includes the other.
– That is not the true value.
– I think that there is a true value in it. If you look at a property simply from the stand-point of how much interest it will earn, and also from the other stand-point of how suitable it is for your purpose, how much better it will suit you than any other, and what price you may expect to obtain from another person who values it for such a reason as you do, namely, because it is more suitable than anything else he can get, you must be prepared to recognise a good-will value. I do not say that that is anything very large.
– It is sure to merge into the revenue value.
– Eventually. I do not know the ways and methods of Melbourne or London valuers, but the method of the firm of highest standing in Sydney is simply to take what they consider is the rental, and regard that rental as representing 10 per cent, on the value. I do not intend to mention names, but that is a rule-qf-thumb method with the principal valuators in New South Wales. Here is a building which earns £10 a year, and, according to their method, its value is £1.00. Here is another building which represents £100 a year, and its value is £1,000. They do not bother any more. I do not know whether some such plan as that has been followed by some of those who valued this building in London, but I find that there is a considerable difference.
– That plan prevails everywhere.
– I have never regarded that as being an entirely satisfactory plan, because there are certain sites for which a man, if he wants a particular position, is prepared to pay a bit more.
We all know that many a man ‘will pay a good deal more than a percentage value in order to get that which he considers valuable to him for his purpose.
– And it will be worth more to one person than to another.
– My honorable friend has put my argument in a nutshell, and I thank him for that concrete way of putting it. A site is of more value to one man than to another, irrespective of the exact percentage which a rental may yield. I think that this position - provided that we think that there is a necessity to establish a business of this kind in London - is worth more to the Commonwealth than what the rental value would be in another street. There are tens of thousands of properties in London which would yield, perhaps, a larger percentage income, but they would not answer our purpose. We do not want a building in a back street. By way of example, go down Flinders-street and you will find fine buildings, but they would not suit for public purposes. The Commonwealth would not go into a narrow street for a building. It would pay a larger price - a fancy price, if you please - for a building in a more suitable locality. That all goes to show that my argument of what I, for the want of a better phrase, calla. good-will value, has its influence in determining the price of picked sites. Now, this site under offer to the Commonwealth is a picked one.. In all London, there are only one or two sites like this, and if you want to get a suitable site you have to pay for it.
– And there is only one London in England.
– There is only one London in the world.
– There is a London in Canada.
– There are a number of places called London in the. world, but, as the greatest city in the world, and the capital city of the greatest nation in the world, there is only one London as we understand it, and this is one of the very picked sites of London. I am very much disposed to vote for the Ministerial proposition, because this is a freehold, and not a leasehold, and because the site is, in mv estimation, an undeniably fine one. With reference to the suggestion we have heard this afternoon that the cost would amount to half a million, a good case may be more readily spoiled by exaggeration than strengthened. I do not think that anything is to be gained by so exaggerated a proposition as that. I think that of the two sites, this would be infinitely cheaper than the one which we discussed some time ago, arid for which we were willing to pay between 13s. and 15s. per square foot. The bit of blotting-paper in my hand represents- about a square foot. When we were prepared a little while ago to pay 13s. or 15s. a year for each little square which this piece of blotting-paper would cover, I think that we were face to face with a fairly expansive proposition. The present position is, I think, better. Surely we could always find a buyer if we wanted to sell the site. But the question arises, do we want it at all? That is a feature with which I am face to face. I have not hitherto felt the slightest inclination to support the appointment of a High Commissioner with an expensive headquarters in London. But when I read in the press from time to time the expressions of men high in the service of the Empire, alleging that it is a serious loss to Australia that it is not more adequately represented in London, I begin to wonder whether my notions about economy are not wrong, and whether it would’ be better for us to incur this expenditure. But there is one other point on which I think the Minister should give us information. How are we going to pay for the site? Hitherto, with a splendid and robust virtue - so-called - >we have set our faces against borrowing. No State in the world attempts to carry on the development of its concerns without borrowing. I am face to face with a proposal to expend every copper of a quarter of a million on this site, and though we are going to get a revenue from a lot of that expenditure, although we are going to have tenants who will pay us rents, that will represent an annual return upon our outlay, still the outlay has to be faced. I tell the Minister that if we are going to find a quarter of a million for a building and furniture in London, and all the money which the Government programme indicates, the Commonwealth cannot do it without borrowing. I want to know whether my honorable friend is prepared to borrow. I am not prepared to pay for this site out of revenue, because we have on the statute-book a measure which proposes the payment of old-age pensions. We cannot find old-age pensions and pay for all these capital charges out of revenue. One of two things must follow. The Commonwealth must, to use an American phrase, “ bust,” or the States must be squeezed into penury, if not bankruptcy. I should like to hear from one of the Ministers whether it is proposed to find this quarter of a million out of revenue or loan funds. Apparently, negotiations are about being completed, under which the Commonwealth will have in some form or another to meet a liability of about £12,000,000 to the States for transferred properties. We cannot find all these moneys out of revenue. In asking us to consent to this expenditure of a quarter of a million, is the Ministry prepared to face the question of Commonwealth borrowing or not? I, for one, am not prepared to go on voting blindly moneys which we cannot afford to pay. There is no use in blinking the question. It has to be faced within the next year or two. Before very long, a leading question put to the people will be : Is the Commonwealth determined to continue the practice of paying for all its outlay, including this sum of ^£2 50,000, out of revenue, and starving the States, and failing to meet its obligations under the Old-age Pensions Act, failing to fulfil its obligations in respect of Australian defence, and failing to keep up to the mark the Commonwealth services, and ‘ I refer particularly to the Post, Telegraph and Telephone services? All these things must be faced, and we may just as well face them on this motion as on any other proposal. We are face to face to-night with the matter of the Commonwealth borrowing, or, as I say, to use an American phrase, Commonwealth “ busting.”
– It is a speculation.
– This is a proposal which is more speculative than maintaining the Commonwealth services, which are the life blood of a community. Our Post, Telegraph, and Telephone services have broken down. We cannot find money for them. My honorable friend Senator McGregor need not be restive, because I am not criticising him. He is only an inheritor, and a happy inheritor, I hope, of the criticism. We are told that we cannot find rifles for the cadet service which we profess to think so much of.
– That is so in South Australia, anyway.
– It is so everywhere in the Commonwealth. We have starved the Militia Forces because we have not the ready money to fulfil statutory obligations to the men who have taken the oath of service to the Commonwealth. Now we are asked to find a quarter of a million of money for this affair. I ask Ministers - from whence is the money to come? I want an answer to that question. If I am told that the Commonwealth is prepared to face the obligation that is imposed upon every nation in the world, and every civilized community that wishes to develop its territory, then it means borrowing - reasonably, carefully, but still borrowing. I am not -an advocate or exponent of a policy of extravagance.
– Barbarous nations also borrow ; the only difference between them and civilized nations is that they do not return.
– That is so; but I have no doubt that the Commonwealth would never incur any financial responsibility that it is not able to meet.
– We are simply offered credit for 90 per cent, of the amount.
– That is as clear a case of borrowing as could be. Ministers have not explained whether they are going to purchase this property partially 011 credit, or to pay cash for it.
– They have said that the Bank of England will charge 4 per cent
– Then they are going to borrow the money. If that be so, the Ministry propose the initiation of Commonwealth borrowing; because it is just as much borrowing to buy a property largely on credit as it is to buy for cash, and borrow the money from the man in the next street. There is not a pennyworth of difference either in principle” or in fact. There may be a difference legally, but that is all. Perhaps I may be allowed to press home this question by repetition. We cannot afford to buy this property and rebuild to the extent proposed, out of current revenue. I want to know what the Ministry propose to do. We can do it, no doubt. We can find the quarter of a million that is necessary if we say: “Let our’ old-age pensions go hang”; if we say, “Hang defence, let it rip.” I am speaking colloquially, perhaps not elegantly, but I want to make the thing a matter of the commonest ‘ everyday life. I want to have no large phrases to dignify a position which cannot be defended. I want, if possible, to bring it home to my own heart as well as to thehearts of those who hear me, that we must ignore old-age pensions; we must ignoredefence ; we must let our great services, the Post and Telegraph Department, and theDefence. Department go hang, if we are to pay cash to the extent of £250,000 for this London property. If, on the other hand, we are going to obtain credit for the larger part, then we have started on a career which hitherto the Commonwealth, has set its face against - a career of borrowing. If I were to purchase some of Senator McGregor’s many properties to thetune of £50,000, and Senator McGregor were to give me credit for £40,000, I should be his debtor.
– The honorablesenator is making the transaction too small.
– I was thinking not of Senator McGregor’s opportunities, but of my own necessities when E named £50,000 as the limit of the transaction. If I am in Senator McGregor ‘sdebt for £40,000, what on earth does it matter whether I owe the money to SenatorMcGregor, or have borrowed it from Senator Pearce in order to pay off SenatorMcGregor? It is only in this homely way that I can hope to bring the financial proposition right to the front, and to keep it: in the minds of honorable senators.
– Would the honor.orable senator call it borrowing to becomea tenant of a property and pay 4 per cent, on the capital value?
– Would the honorable senator mind saying that a littlemore slowly, and would he also be .good1 enough to inform me whether he has theband parts ? I am in favour of the site and of the title as a freehold; though I should’ like to hear Senator Dobson’s views on thelegal title after he had investigated the necessary deeds. My only difficulty is how we are going to pay the money. Apparently we must have an establishment in. London.
– Hang the expense !
– That is exactly the attitude that Senator Walker and: the wild enthusiasts of ten years ago took, up with reference to Federation. They all said, “Oh, hang the expense; let usgo in for Federation.” Really I own that I cannot comprehend the attitude of a man like Senator Symon, who was one of the- “ Hang the expensers “ of Commonwealth advocacy and who, now that he has hisbauble, and is playing with it, and let us. hope is deriving pleasure, satisfaction, and profit from it, cavils about a miserable little difference of £11,000 in the valuations for offices in London. It does not appeal to me. I was one of those who opposed Federation. I thought we could not afford it. But now that we have Federation I am not going to be mealy-mouthed or penurious in my views with reference to the establishment of offices in London. A matter of £10,000 or £20,000 would not alarm me if we got the proper sort of site. The people of Australia would have Federation, and I suppose they are prepared to foot the bill. The offices will cost fully a quarter of a million of money before we have done with the transaction. We shall have to live up to that magnificent column in the centre of Trafalgar Square. We must have a High Commisioner at so many thousand pounds a year, and he must have a, few deputies and marshals and clerks. I suppose, however, that he will have nothing so commonplace. They -must be something higher in title - clerical assistants or private secretaries. He must have all the official impedimenta to assist him.
– At what would the honorable senator value our share in the Nelson Column ?
– I hope that when Senator McGregor leaves this world for a better - I trust that he will go to a better - his memory will be maintained by some recognition at the hands of his fellow citizens if not in so monumental a’ form as this great column, at least in -a form worthy of his merits. If we start this affair, I say, we shall not pay a copper less than £10,000 a year in salaries. That is clear. I know that Senator Walker is in favour of paying at least £3,000 a year to the High ‘ Commissioner.
– Five thousand pounds I think would be the amount.
– That shows how exceedingly moderate my estimate of £10,000 for salaries is; because, if the High Commissioner receives £5,000, his deputies and staff will surely absorb more than £5,000 amongst them. We cannot borrow the money for that purpose. We shall have to pay it out of current revenue, and £10,000 a year represents a large capital value. Honorable senators may fix their own rate of interest, but whether it be 4 or 5 per cent., £10,000 a year will represent a very large sum capitalized. The question at issue as to whether this property is worth £187,000 or £198,000 is not very important. There is only a difference of something like £1.1,000 in the valuation’s. But I have my doubts as to any expenditure for this purpose at the present time. There is only one other remark that occurs to me to make, and that is with regard to what Canada has done. She had at one time upstairs rooms in Victoria-street, Westminster. But Canada, it must be admitted, began her representation in London in the day of smail things. This is the day of large things, and I favour the representation of Australia in London, if the Commonwealth is to be represented there, on a broad scale, without parsimoniousness and, ‘ on the other hand, without extravagance.
– Canada now has a place in Trafalgar Square.
– That has been established since I was in England last. I shall not pledge myself to vote for the Ministerial proposition until I have an intimation as to whether the Government propose to take the whole of this sum out of current revenue, and give the go-by to our obligation with respect to old-age pensions and defence. Because that is what must follow ; or, in the alternative, we should know whether they propose to break down the system which has hitherto existed, and either borrow the money or owe the larger part of the proposed outlay.
. 1 - I have very little to say on this question, although I consider it to be an important one. But it requires very little thought to arrive at a decision. The question whether we ought to be represented in London, to my mind, answers itself at once in the affirmative. I think we ought to be represented in London ; we ought to have, so to speak, a home of our own. I agree with Senator Neild that that home ought to be on a scale commensurate with our own ideas of our own importance. Having got that far, the question is whether the site proposed is a suitable one. I had only four months’ residence in London ; but still it is often said with truth that possibly those who visit London know more about it than people who were born there. It is a fact that people who visit London temporarily go about a good deal, and I saw very much of London while I was there. It can be fairly and truthfully said that Trafalgar Square is the heart of London.
Whether one travels from east to west or from north to south one is almost compelled to go through Trafalgar Square.
– The honorable senator probably knows that all cab fares are reckoned from the King Charles’ monument, on the verge of Trafalgar Square.
– It is the undisputed centre of London. The question whether we should borrow or not, or whether purchasing on deferred payment is borrowing, seems to me’ to be unimportant. At present we occupy buildings for which we pay an annual rental. If we can acquire the proposed site upon terms which will insure to us a rental sufficient to pay interest upon the capital outlay, it seems to me that we shall- be practically purchasing it without borrowing. Certainly we shall be acquiring buildings for our present use without borrowing. We shall be getting the site for the price that we are prepared to pay for the use of the buildings.
– The honorable senator is splitting hairs beautifully.
– If we can do that we shall obtain the buildings upon conditions exactly similar to those upon which we occupy some of our offices in Springstreet, Melbourne.
– No; because in London we shall have a continuing responsibility, whereas we can walk out of the Melbourne offices.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, Victoria has not borrowed money for the purpose of building railways.
– The honorable senator is entirely wrong. Victoria has borrowed an enormous sum with which to build railways, and for many years the returns have not paid interest upon the outlay.
– The honorable senator will experience some difficulty in showing that for many years the rents from the proposed site will pay interest upon the outlay.
– My own opinion is that the vendors of property can only hope to dispose of their property by parting with it at a rate which will insure to the purchaser some return for his outlay. Of course, every vendor is naturally anxious to obtain the highest possible price, but business considerations compel him to accept such, a price as will allow the purchaser to make a reasonable profit.
But I rose chiefly to say that the Commonwealth ought to be represented in London, and that the proposed site is far and away the best which can be obtained at -any price. Upon the question of whether the price asked for it is a fair one, I am not competent to express an opinion. But in answer to the question put by Senator Neild, I say that if the Commonwealth- requires this site, it is absurd to argue that it cannot afford to purchase it. The Commonwealth can afford to purchase any service that it may require. A community as wealthy as we are cannot be without a home-
– Are we not homeless in Melbourne?
– I do not wish to discuss that question. Personally, I think thatthis Parliament has an excellent home in Melbourne.
– On the nod.
– I have no doubt that if the VictorianGovernment asked for rental for the building which we occupy the Commonwealth would be quite prepared to pay it. But I do not see that there is any analogy between the two cases. As a matter of fact, we are paying rental for the Government offices that we occupy in various parts of this city. If the proposed site be purchased, I am of opinion that we shall have concluded a business transaction which will not prove unprofitable to us. But whether we pay a high price or a low price for it, we ought to have offices in London, and we ought to have adequate representation there at all times. For that reason I shall support the proposal of the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– For the same reason that I objected to the proposed purchase of a site in the Strand for Commonwealth offices. I protest against, the purchase of a site in Trafalgar Square. If the site in the Strand was too far removed from the heart of London to warrant us in establishing offices there, the site under consideration is also too remote, seeing that it is half a mile further distant. There is no doubt that it is one of the finest sites in London, and I make that statement as one who has lived in that city for a good many years, and who knows it fairly well. Nevertheless, I do not think that the site is one which we require for Commonwealth purposes, in view of the price which is demanded for it. Should Parliament decide to acquire it, I take it that the ultimate cost to the Commonwealth will be nearly £350,000, and under present circumstances, and with a knowledge of the financial responsibilities which lie before us, I claim that that money could be expended to far better advantage in other directions. It will, I think, be generally admitted that Canada has taken a very leading part in securing representation in the . heart of the Empire. But I need scarcely point out that she has not incurred the vast expenditure to which it is proposed to commit the Commonwealth in this connexion, although she is in a far better position to withstand it. As Senator Pulsford stated this afternoon, the Dominion has established in the rural districts of England a number of small depots - pivot-stations, if I may so term them - for the dissemination of knowledge concerning her resources, with the result that Australia gets only ten immigrants where Canada gets 1,000.
– Of what quality ?
– Of the quality best suited to Canadian needs in every sense of the word. I assume that those charged with the conduct of Canadian affairs are equal in every respect to those charged with the conduct of Commonwealth affairs. We all recognise that of late years Canada has developed very rapidly. It is not very long since it was regarded as a country which immigrants should avoid. As a matter of fact, although the Dominion, a few years ago, was expending thousands of pounds in encouraging immigration, a great proportion of her immigrants were accustomed to cross the border into the United States.
– Look at the money Canada has expended in London.
– There is no necessity for the Commonwealth to acquire this site and to erect elaborate buildings upon it. Why cannot we rent suitable premises in Victoria-street, and wait until we can “better afford to be represented in the manner that is now proposed ? By so doing we shall be studying the best interests of the Commonwealth more than we shall “lie by embarking upon a large expenditure on insufficient data. I am quite sure that there is no urgency whatever in connexion with the proposal which is now under consideration. Under no circumstances can we obtain possession of the site until after the lapse of four years. In the meantime we might very well rent suitable buildings in London, just as the Argentine and other equally wealthy countries are doing. I attach very little importance to the question of whether the money for the acquisition of a site in London is borrowed, or whether, up to a certain point, it is taken out of revenue. As a matter of fact, we cannot take the whole of it out of revenue. I have no objection whatever to borrowing, assuming that the money be wisely expended. That is the crux of the whole position, and I cannot help thinking that my honorable friends opposite made a great mistake when they made it a plank in their platform that all public works should be constructed out of revenue.
– That is not a plank in our platform.
– Some of the members of the Labour Party have affirmed that principle very strongly in connexion with the policy of the Labour Party. In legislating upon this subject I hope we shall recollect that Australia is a young country, that its resources require development, and that if we spent the money which it is proposed to expend in acquiring a site for Commonwealth Offices in London in the dissemination of literature which would advertise our products, we should obtain a better return for our outlay.
– I regard this as a matter of so much importance that I should not record a vote upon it without giving some reasons for. the vote which I intend to give. I intend to oppose the motion, and I wish to give one or two reasons why I take up this attitude. In the first place, having looked very carefully through the meagre information submitted, I urn not satisfied that even the valuator employed has justified his recommendation. I have not by any means lost sight of the consideration which Senator Trenwith answered for himself so easily. The honorable senator asked whether it is necessary that we should be represented in London. He answers that question very easily to his own satisfaction. The honorable senator mayfeel that it is desirable that we should do away with the representation we have already in London of the various States of Australia.
– We have not yet a representative of Australia in London’ .
– We have in London a representative of every State in the Commonwealth. We have six AgentsGeneral in London, and each has a separate office. Looking at statements of the finances of the various States from time to time, it does not appear to me that any of the offices of these Agents-General is carried on at a very low cost, and we may assume that, in the aggregate, the people of Australia are already spending at least a sufficient sum of money upon their representation in London.
– Would it not be better to have one representative of the Commonwealth, and abolish the six representatives of the States?
– -That- is not the question we are considering at the present moment. If, after an agreement had been come to between the Commonwealth and the States Governments, we were considering a proposal that the whole of the representatives of the States, with their staffs, should go back to the States, and Australia should be represented in London by a single representative, the position would be very different.
– We shall be paving the way for that by providing an opportunity for it.
– 1 do not know that we shall be paving the way by agreeing to this motion. If it is suggested that we shall pave the way for a reduction of expenditure upon our representation in London by spending about £300,000 on the purchase of the proposed site, and that we shall reduce the number of official representatives in London by increasing the existing staff by, say, a half-a-dozen additional officers, I must say that I am unable to regard the matter in that light. I regard the purchase of this building as a first step. The appointment of a High Commissioner would be the second step. I do not know that that would add to our influence in London, or would be of any greater benefit to the Commonwealth, than the representation we have already there. The financial question is involved in this matter. So far as I can see at present, the Government propose to secure this site by the adoption of a borrowing policy. As I understand the matter, the Bank of England is to pay cash to the vendor, and the Commonwealth Government is to borrow the money, or so much as may be necessary, from the Bank of England at 4 per cent.
– They would1 borrow the money all the same.
– I take this, proposition to be founded on a borrowing, policy. It may be necessary in the futurefor the Commonwealth to adopt some kind of a borrowing policy. I do not say that it will be necessary, but if I ever record a vote in favour of a borrowing policy, it will be in favour of one, the benefits from* which will be enjoyed in Australia, and not in London.
– The honorable senatordoes not approve of going into a speculation ?
– I do not approve of entering into a speculation, particularly at such a distance from the Commonwealth.
– An overdraft ishandy now and again.
– That is so,, but if the Commonwealth must have an overdraft, we should be assured that it willbe of advantage to the people of Australia. Senator Neild has reminded us that wehave to make provision for the payment of old-age pensions. Side by side with that, the Government propose the payment of a bounty for the production of iron,, which will not be a small item. If, in addition to providing for old-age pensions,, and the payment of a bounty for the production of iron, we are to find £350,000’ for the purchase of a site and the erection of a building in London, for which at thepresent time I see no necessity, we must ask ourselves where we are to find themoney to cover all this expenditure. I donot say that I am in favour of borrowing, money, but I would prefer to borrow money for the payment of a bounty for the production of iron in Australia, and-‘ the employment of our Australian people, to borrowing it merely for decorative purposes, and to show how grandly an Australian representative can live away fromhis own country. I see no necessity at the present time for the purchase of the proposed site, even for purposes of immigration. Surely one representative of theCommonwealth in London should be sufficient ? My own opinion is that if the number of existing representatives of Australia, in London were reduced to two, they would do better work in this respect than is being-, done at the present time. We know that there is not likely to be an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States- that there should be only one representative of the Commonwealth in London,, and we are not at present seeking for that. The fact is that the States are as anxious about their special representation in Lon- don as any member of the Commonwealth Parliament can be about the representation of the Commonwealth as a whole.
– The States Governments will not give up their representation in London.
– They are not likely to do so. If we had been in agreement’ with them to abolish their representation, and to have one Commonwealth representative in London, with a probable reduction of two-thirds of the present cost, I might have been prepared to take a different view of this question, but under existing circumstances I feel compelled to vote against the motion.
.- I was in London a few weeks ago, and one of the first things Captain Collins asked me to do was to inspect the site in the Strand. I did so, and I considered it an excellent site. I was aware that the -Government had not come to terms about it, and before 1 left England Captain Collins asked me to look at the site we are now discussing. I knew the locality, but I carefully inspected the site, and found it also to be an admirable one. I agree with Senator Neild that it is, perhaps, the better site of the two. It is at the entrance to the Strand, close to a number of the shipping offices, and to the offices of the Canadian-Pacific Railway, where Canadian immigrants book their passages. Altogether, the site proposed is an admirable one; but, before I can make up my mind to the purchase of any site, 1 ask myself what we propose to do with it. What is our policy ? How do we propose to conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth in London? Are we going to unite with the States, or to drift further apart from them? Are we to have six AgentsGeneral established in separate offices ana representing the various States, and at the same time erect a building at a cost of £^00,000 for Commonwealth. Offices in London? If there is one economy which more than another candidates for the Federal Convention told the electors that Federation would secure, it was the doing away of the six States Agents- General and their staffs, and the substitution of a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth in London. We seem to have forgotten all that, and to be unmindful of the fact that the economy we then preached is more that ever necessary. The financial obligations to which we are committed, if we are to pursue a progressive policy, are almost more than we can stagger under and it behoves us not to spend this money on the purchase of a site for Commonwealth Offices in London unless very good reasons are advanced to justify it. I have been opposed to the appointment of a High Commissioner and to the purchase of expensive offices in London, but I cannot help remembering with Senator Neild that there seems to be a consensus of opinion that we are not properly _ represented in London, and that if we are to carry out an immigration scheme, the appointment of a High Commissioner is -a necessity. I cannot avoid being influenced to some extent by the opinion of public men here and in England, and by the press, but I cannot yet see .the necessity for a High Commissioner or for expensive Commonwealth Offices in London. When I hear the argument used that the Commonwealth requires to be represented in London, and is not represented there now, and that the Commonwealth should be able to speak with one voice, I ask myself what are the States Agents-General doing. My own common-sense tells me that if any State is slandered, any State law is misunderstood, or any statement detrimental to the interests of a State is published in London, . the Agent-General for the State is on the spot to put the matter right. If the Commonwealth is slandered, as it was in connexion with the six hatters, and as it was to some extent in connexion with our schemes to prevent alien immigration, we have six representatives of the States in London to answer the slanders. We have six brains to confer together as to the right position to be put before the world. My .honorable -friend opposite may reply that the six Agents-General may not agree, and’ that we may have six different views expressed, but I do not assent to that. On a vital matter, affecting the policy of Australia, affecting our chance of getting a great scheme of immigration in the near future, the Agents-General would agree. They would know better than their critics, and would be able to state clearly and quite as forcibly as one man could do, although he was High Commissioner, the policy and the law of the Commonwealth. Have we any sign that the States are willing, or that the Commonwealth is willing, to make good the statements which scores of us addressed to the electors?
– This proposal is a sign of it.
– I am told by men who have been Agents-General, and by financial experts, that financially there is really nothing for a man to do for the Commonwealth except to buy material until we take over the State debts, and so far there is no sign of that being done. Now, what is the policy of the Ministry with regard to immigration, and keeping our empty, lands filled with people, both for settlement and for defence? So far from the States drawing closer to the Commonwealth and vice versa, they seem to be drifting farther apart. I was getting reconciled to the idea of appointing a High Commissioner and securing, not purchasing, offices in London. When the matter was first mentioned, twelve or eighteen months ago, it was understood that the offices we were to purchase would house the AgentsGeneral. So, whether the States chose to have Agents-General, or commercial agents, or both, they could all find room for themselves, their staff, and their products, in one great building, which, of course, would have cost a. considerable sum. That scheme has to some extent been knocked on the head by the fact that Sir Thomas Bent, on behalf of Victoria, has bought in the Strand an excellent site which adjoins the site fi ret proposed to be purchased for the Commonwealth, and is now erecting offices entirely for his State. Only the other day the Government of Queensland purchased Gatley’s Restaurant, in the Strand - a most excellent site- on which they propose to establish offices for their own purposes. So, while we have been talking and negotiating with a man 12,000 miles away, which is a very difficult thing to do, two States have broken away from the policy which was beginning to appeal to me. Have I am assurance or hope that they will be brought into one general scheme and common building? If they are, they will have to get rid of the sites which have been acquired. Having dealt with the question of offices. I come down to the question of immigration, and of the means whereby we are to get immigrants. Here we are worse off than ever with regard to a united scheme. At their last Conference, the Premiers decided that the Commonwealth should have nothing to do with their immigration schemes, except to pay for advertisements to flood the Empire with. If that is the case, where is a sign that our building would be made the fullest use of? Where is any evidence that the States are cordially with us, will occupy our building, and make use of our offices and sample rooms for the display of their products, if we incur this enormous expenditure? I see no evidence of that, nor have I any assurance that it will be done. In these circumstances, I am not in favour of the motion. I cannot place the slightest reliance upon the two valuations by the one man mentioned in this summary. I do not quite understand what he means. It seems to me that he is wobbling, and does not know his own mind- If we purchase the site, pull down the building, and erect offices suitable for our requirements, the cost will be over £300,000, and we do not know whether any or all of the Stateswill join us.
– Does not the honorable senator think that as a preliminary to. inviting the States to come in we must be able to tell them where we want them tocome to?
– I do not think so, because the States, by negotiation, could” say, “ Certainly we will join if you secure central offices.”
– But they want to know where the building is to be located’.
– Let us agree that it shall be situated somewhere between Trafalgar Square and up towards the city. The difficulty which my honorable friend’ indicates can be got over very easily if he will only try to arrange that all the Statesshall come in with us. We shall not be so’ foolish, I hope, as to purchase a building which will not meet with the approval of the States. At the present time each Stateis paddling its own canoe. One of our able financiers in another place has stated that the financial affairs of the Commonwealth and the States must be separated’. To my mind that is absolute nonsense. Of course, we must keep the accounts separately, but in financial matterscan we talk about separating the States from the Commonwealth? It cannot be done. I shall consent to no financial scheme unless the States are to benefit by an increase in the revenue, and to take theresponsibility of a decline in the revenue. Being one people, we must rise or fall together.. We must progress or retrogress^ together. Therefore, with regard to a High Commissioner and London offices, we ought to act as one people, and to bear in mind that union is strength. I believe that Canada is deriving a great benefit from the fact that people have not to bother about half-a-dozen different States.
– But the finances of every Province are separated from those of the Dominion.
– They are separated in a kind of way, but my honorable friend knows that certain Provinces receive subsidies.
– They all do; but the finances are separated absolutely.
– Of course, as a matter of accounts, the finances have to be separated. But, speaking practically, is it possible to separate States from Commonwealth. I want to see united action taken in these matters. How are we to determine what we are to build until we know what States will come in with us. It appears to me that the Senate is asked to nut the cart before the horse. I feel that I have not half enough evidence to enable me to give a vote. Unless I get a satisfactory assurance on the points I have mentioned, I see no necessity for agreeing to this proposal. As a solicitor, if I had to advise a client, I should advise him that I had not nearly sufficient evidence to enable me to tell him whether he ought to buy the site or not. We are practically asked to buy “ a pig in a poke,” because most important information has not been put before us. The statement that Mr. Lyons is going to allow 90 per cent, of the purchase money to remain at 4^ per cent, is simply idle. If he offered to allow the money to remain at 3 *</inline> per cent., there might be something in that. Again, we do not quite know what the Commonwealth will have to pay for rates and taxes. I was not present when
– I desire to say a few words in support of this proposal, because, in my opinion, the time came a good while ago for the Commonwealth to have adequate representation in London. One has only to look through the magazines, even the cabled reports of the utterances made in the Old Country, to come very quickly to the conclusion that in London an authoritative voice is required to speak on behalf of the Commonwealth. We want a High Commissioner there, and it would ill become the Commonwealth to house him in an outoftheway place. Senator Dobson has committed himself to a policy of wait-a-while, a policy of procrastination. If action had been taken on the previous proposal, at least one of the States would, not have drifted in the manner about which he has just complained. We should have secured a site in the Strand, and destroyed at least one reason for Queensland setting up a building on its own account. The necessity for securing this site in London cannot be ignored by this Parliament, because it will not be offered again, or perhaps it may not be offered for a very long time. It is quite plain that every city, even London, has but one important centre through which all the traffic runs. It appears to me that Trafalgar Square is the only place in London where it will suit the Commonwealth to have a building.
– Perhaps the honorable member has not been in London.
– I was in London twenty-two years ago, and my recollections al’ Trafalgar Square, assisted by a reference to the plans, are quite sufficient to enable me to come to the conclusion that it is the most important centre in that great city. Here is an opportunity to purchase a site for housing our High Commissioner when he is appointed. I believe that the Commonwealth Parliament has been inexcusably slow in respect to making arrangements for the appointment of a High Commissioner and establishing a place for him to carry out his duties. We have been negligent in performing our simple, duty to the country in that respect. Australia in the past has suffered immeasurably at the hands, not of its enemies, but of its own citizens, who, when they have got to London, Rave reflected discredit on the country that feeds them. Now that we have an opportunity of placing our High Commissioner in an honorable position we should not allow it to pass. Turning to the financial side of the proposition, although the information supplied to us is not quite so full as I should like it to be, nevertheless there is sufficient to warrant us in coming to the conclusion that we can make a very fair bargain by coming to terms with the present vendor. The property at present produces something like £9,740 per annum in rent. Out of that sum about £2,000 will be absorbed in rates, reducing the net income to about £7,700 per annum. Assuming that the High Commissioner, when appointed, will require a suite of rooms similar in extent to those occupied by the New York Fire Insurance Company - fourteen rooms, returning a rent of £1,300 - the net income would thereby be reduced to something like £6,400 per annum. On the purchase price of £200,000 that shows a. return of a trifle over 3 per cent.
– That is a pretty way of reckoning.
– So that in addition to housing the High Commissioner we should have a reasonable percentage on our investment. In view of these facts, and of the necessity of placing the High Commissioner in a central situation, I think we ought not to be chary of embracing the present chance of securing a site, which appears likely to be the only one of the kind that will present itself for a long time to come. Another reason in support of the proposition is that many honorable senators have been clamouring for the advertising of the resources of Australia.
– This is not advertising our resources.
– By purchasing this site I submit that we shall be adopting a direct means of giving a much-needed advertisement to Australia.
– The purchase of the site would not give us fifty immigrants a year.
– We should not look at the proposition entirely from an £ s. d. stand-point, because the indirect benefits to Australia by making the country better known not only to Britishers, but to foreigners passing through England, cannot very well be calculated. In supporting the motion, I feel that we are taking the right course for dispelling the ignorance that seems to rest in the minds of Britishers as to our importance and resources, and the opportunities that the Commonwealth affords for the employment of capital as well as of labour. For these reasons I shall vote for the motion with pleasure, though at the same time recording my disappointment at the attitude of those honorable senators who have always cried out for the advertising of Australia, but who have refused to lend their aid to clinching this bargain, which will be the means of advertising the Commonwealth in an effective way.
– I oppose the motion. A good deal has been said as to the value of the Trafalgar Square site. As a site it might be advisable for the Commonwealth to possess it. But the same was said with regard to the Strand- site. I notice in the correspondence that the vendors originally asked for about £230,000. When the bargain was not snapped up at that price they were quite willing to take a lesser amount. That seems to me to be huckstering. Viewing the matter on business grounds, therefore, it would be advisable to wait a little longer to see whether the vendors would not come down a little further.
– To carry that argument to a logical conclusion, can the honorable senator tell us how long we should have to wait before we got the site for nothing?
– There is an old Irish saying that any fool can ask a question.
– But some fools cannot answer one.
– I shall not attempt to answer the honorable senator’s question. It was remarked by Senator Clemons that he viewed the transaction with some suspicion, and when I asked him why he suspected it he replied that his suspicion was not on the affirmative side, but that what he did not suspect about the matter was what troubled him. I agree that from a business point of view most unsatisfactory reasons have been given for the purchase. I see no reason at present for hurrying on the acquisition of a site. What would be the main purpose of such a building? It would be to house the High Commissioner. More important than the site itself is the question who is to be the Commonwealth High Commissioner in London. From many points of view the sooner the High Commissioner is appointed the better it will be for Australia. His main work when appointed will be, by his ability and reputation and force of character, to keep Australia to the front and combine the interests of the States and the Commonwealth in London. His work will be to advertise, throughout the United Kingdom in the first place, and throughout Europe, possibly, in the second place, what sort of a country Australia is, and to point out to the people of the United Kingdom that this is one of the most desirable countries on earth for hard-working decent men and women to come to, and for capital to be invested in. This proposition comes before us at the instance of a Government which has succeeded the Deakin Administration. It is supported by a party that has opposed the policy of the ex-Prime Minister in regard to immigration. I take this opportunity of saying that if there is one thing I admired in Mr. Deakin’s policy it was his consistent advocacy of immigration for Australia. At the Colonial Conference he did and said many things with which I disagreed. But I could not but admire him because he never hesitated to point out the resources of Australia and to emphasize its progressive character. No site that we could have in London would be of any use to us unless we were assured of having a man as High Commissioner who would carry on such a line of policy. But the Deakin Ministry has been succeeded by one, the members of which have never been friendly to that policy. Indirectly, if not directly, they have been absolutely hostile to immigration.
– Some of the States Premiers have acknowledged that they have not land enough for their own people, to say nothing of strangers.
– I believe that in some of the States it has been said that there is not room for immigrants.
– The South AustralianPremier has said so.
– I believe the South Australian Premier said so, and, of course, he is responsible for his own utterances.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine himself to the question.
– Unless we have the assurance that such a policy will be vigorously pursued, I am not inclined to vote any money for the purpose indicated, and shall continue to resist any grant by this Parliament until the Ministry which brings down- the proposition shows that it is sincere in giving practical effect to what can be the only purpose of a suite of offices for the Commonwealth in London, and that is the promotion of immigration to Australia and the advocacy throughout the United Kingdom of the advantages . offered by the Commonwealth to people of our own kith and kin. Like the proverbial Yankee, I am open to conviction, and if in his reply the VicePresident of the Executive Council can assure me that the Government intend to use the offices which it is proposed to erect in London for the purpose of advertising Australia
– And to make them the head-quarters of the Agents-General of the States.
– Exactly. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council, on behalf of the Government, can assure me that that is a principle which they cherish, and to which they will give effect, it is quite possible that I may be found voting for the proposal. At present, however, I intend to oppose it. It has been frequently remarked - and I quite agree with the statement - that unless the States Governments unite with the Commonwealth Government, the expenditure incurred in establishing offices in London will practically be wasted. If the Government could induce the States to see eye to eye with them in this matter, possibly we might be justified in investing a considerable sum of money in providing the Commonwealth and States with suitable accommodation in the heart of the Empire. But, unfortunately, in this matter the States have drifted entirely apart” from the Commonwealth. I do not for a moment suggest who is responsible for this condition of affairs. But it cannot be denied that one of the strongest reasons advanced in favour of Federation was that it would enable some officer appointed by the Commonwealth to unite the energies of the States in the matter of advertising the resources of this country.
– The experiment has not had a fair trial.
– Nevertheless, what I have stated is a fact. In Queensland, a halt was called iri the policy of immigration–
– I hope that the honorable senator will connect his remarks with the motion under consideration.
– Yes. We have no assurance that the Commonwealth and the States are agreed as to this important project. We cannot count upon the co-operation of the States in the acquisition of the proposed site, and that is why I intend to vote against the motion. I think that the States have done well to look to their own interests in this connexion, and the action of “Queensland and New South Wales in endeavouring to attract immigrants to their shores is especially to ‘be commended.
– Can the honorable senator disprove my statement that, if the proposed site were acquired, the Commonwealth would receive 3 per cent, upon its investment after accommodating the High Commissioner ?
– I did intend to deal with that aspect of the matter.
– The honorable senator laughed very cynically when I made the statement.
– I smiled, but [ did not intend that my smile should be accompanied with any cynicism.
– The honorable senator is advocating the States-frights policy.
– Under the circumstances, I do not believe that the Government entertain a genuine desire to achieve the chief purpose underlying this proposal, without which it would be useless to appoint a High Commissioner, or to establish central offices. Until ‘ that belief can be dispelled. I intend to vote against the motion.
– A great many side issues appear to have been dragged into the discussion of this question. But, to my mind, there is only one aspect from which it ought to be viewed, and that is the business aspect. We ought to look at it entirely from that point of view. Personally, I think that the Commonwealth ought to be represented in the heart of the Empire. It ought to loom much larger in the eye of the general public in London than it does. The time must inevitably come when the Commonwealth will occupy a much more prominent position than it does, and when the status of the States must be diminished. We shall then have a High Commissioner in London, and the States will possibly be satisfied with’ the appointment of business agents for the general conduct of their affairs there. When that time arrives, the High Commissioner and those business agents may very well be located in one building, so that people may know where they can procure information in regard to any of the States. I have a personal knowledge of the proposed site, and I admit thai it is one of the most prominent in the city of London. I should hardly like to say how many persons pass that particular spot in a day, and from the point of giving prominence to the Commonwealth, I do not think that a better site could be chosen. As I have already remarked, the only point which we have to consider is whether the price asked for it is a reasonable one. I confess that the information which has been supplied to us is not sufficient to enable us to determine whether or not we ought to acquire the site in question. I have endeavoured to read between the lines of the different reports submitted for our consideration, and I have come to the conclusion that twenty-two or twenty-three years ago some man leased this particular land at a ground rental of £4,000 per annum, that he erected the present buildings upon it, and that he is now deriving from it a gross income of £9,74° per annum. Senator Lynch has said that he thinks the proposal a good business one, and that its adoption would insure to the Commonwealth the return of a very fair interest upon its outlay. May I point out that the present building upon the proposed site returns to the lessee £9,740 per annum, out of which he has to pay £4,000 by way of ground rent. In addition, he has to pay a considerable sum in rates and taxes - about £2,000 per annum - so that his net income is thereby reduced to about £3,000 per annum. Consequently, he is not obtaining 2 per cent, interest upon his outlay. The site has been let for twenty-five years at the ground rental of £4,000 per annum, and the report of Mr. Martin says that, assuming that the property were free from disadvantageous restrictions, and from outgoings other than those of ordinary rates and taxes, it would lie worth about £163,000.
– We must take into consideration what the buildings cost, and what they return.
– I am speaking of the building as it stands to-day.
– The honorable senator was speaking of the man who procured a lease at a ground rental of £4,090 per annum.
– During the twentyfive years of his tenure, the lessee also had to pay the value of the building which he erected upon the site because that building passes to the ground landlord immediately his lease expires. It will be seen, therefore, that the return from the present buildings must be exceedingly small.
– The honorable senator is taking two sets of figures which have no relation to each other.
– We are asked to purchase this site. If we decide to do so, and if we resolve to erect suitable offices upon it, and to furnish them as they ought to be furnished, I am. satisfied that we shall have to face an expenditure of £300,000.
– I have had some experience of what the expenditure of Government money means, and I know the way in which the bill almost invariably mounts up. I am quite satisfied that the adoption of this proposal will involve an expenditure of £300,000. Now, 4 per cent, upon that amount would mean £12.000 annually. Of course, I admit that we might obtain a small rent from offices in the building which we erected.
– But the municipal taxes are very heavy.
– I have already dealt with that aspect of the matter. I do not think that we are justified in expending £300,000 simply for the purpose of providing the Commonwealth with, office accommodation in London. If we refuse this offer, I am inclined to think that before very long the property will be offered at a very considerably reduced price. Even if that were not so, and honorable senators are determined that the Commonwealth shall have land of its own in London, I think it is possible to buy on more advantageous terms than are here proposed. I do not know that it is necessary that we should acquire a freehold in London. People talk a good deal about the prospective values of London property, but everything depends on the rate of taxation that will be levied in the Old Country, and it will be admitted that such taxation might very considerably reduce values. However, as a business proposition, we are being asked to spend something like £300,000 to house the representative of the Commonwealth in the city of London, and I do not think it is good enough to spend that amount of money for the purpose.
– It would be enough to spend on Houses of Parliament in Australia.
– I hope that we shall not spend as much as that to house this Parliament itself. We desire to avoid extravagance in every way that we can. We should do better if for the next ten or twenty years we leased premises in London. At the end of that time we should know very much better how we stand. I am altogether in favour of having the Commonwealth represented in London, and well represented there. I am in favour of the Commonwealth taking a more prominent and bolder position in London than we have hitherto done ; but in order that we may do so, I am not prepared to spend what seems to me to be an extravagant sum to secure Commonwealth Offices in London. I do not see my way clear in the circumstances to vote for the motion. My advice is that we should bide a wee, and it will be time enough ten or twenty years hence for us to consider whether it is worth our while to acquire a freehold in London. In the meantime we could rent such offices as we require.
.- I agree with Senator Vardon that it would he much more business-like and more satisfactory to the citizens of the Commonwealth if for a limited period we leased a building suitable for Commonwealth purposes in London, instead of purchasing, as proposed, a site which will cost anything from £250,000 to £350,000. The gentleman who is conducting these negotiations with the Commonwealth Government evinces a very great anxiety that the Commonwealth should close with him as speedily as possible. There is no doubt that he is an exceedingly willing seller. But that is no reason why we should come to a hasty decision in this matter. Senator Lynch has said that at the present time a sum of £9,740 is received by Mr. Lyons from tenants of the building in question, and that if the Commonwealth purchased the property the Commonwealth Government would receive that income. As a matter of fact, that statement is not correct. The Commonwealth Government would receive . that income, less £2,000, which would have to be paid for rates and taxes. Then it is assumed that a rental of £9,740 is being received, although there are three or four rooms in the building at present unoccupied. It is therefore on an estimate that is, to some extent, problematical, that we are told that the rental is £9,740. Senator Lynch has also said that if we purchased this property the offices now occupied by the New York Life Insurance Company, consisting of fourteen rooms, could be utilized for the High Commissioner’s Offices. If that be so, what need is there to purchase a building at all? Surely it is possible in London to secure fourteen rooms equal to those at present occupied bv the New York Insurance Company? On Senator Lynch’s reasoning there is no necessity for the Commonwealth to embark on such a huge undertaking as that involved in the motion now before the Senate. I think the time is altogether inopportune for the Commonwealth to embark on such a big undertaking abroad. If is said that if we purchase this land, we might, in the course of a few years, erect upon it a building which would extensively advertise the resources of Australia. -If that be the desire of the Government and of honorable senators, who support them, they should remember that we shall be unable to obtain complete possession of this property until the year 191 2, unless we compensate the present tenants of the building for the termination of their leases. At a time like the present, when we have complaints from, nearly every State in the Union that our postal and telephonic services are starved-
– Is the honorablesenator developing the States right’sdisease ?
– No) I am not ; but I know that vigorous complaints are made about the inconvenience to which citizens in many parts of the Commonwealth aresubjected because the Post and Telegraph Department is not in a position to incur the heavy expenditure required for necessary services. At such a time, and when, in addition, we are on the eve of a large expenditure for the payment of old-age pensions, and it is proposed to set apart additional funds for the defence of the Commonwealth, it is unwise, in my judgment,, to commit ourselves to the expenditure of such a large sum as is involved in thismotion. It is said that the Commonwealth suffers from the absence of a High Commissioner, and Commonwealth offices inLondon. That mav be in some measure correct, but I venture to say that if we had a High Commissioner in London at thepresent time, he would not be able to do very much more than has been done by thevarious Agents- General of the States in effectively replying to misstatements regarding Australia made from time to time by interested persons. In common with otherhonorable senators, I know that prominencehas been given to the publication of incorrect statements concerning laws passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and tO’ vigorous adverse criticism of various Acts,, and particularly of the Immigration Restriction Act, and I am also aware that Mr.. Coghlan, as Agent-General for New SouthWales, has done an immense amount of good in replying through the columns of the leading London journals to writers whohave unfavorably criticised the Common wealth. If the motion is carried, the sitepurchased, and the erection of Commonwealth buildings proceeded with, we know that there will be considerable difficulty ininducing the States Governments to consent to their representatives establishing themselves in London under the roof of the Commonwealth building. That must be clear from the fact that the construction of edifices to be occupied by the AgentsGeneral of some of the States is already fairly well advanced. For this reason, and’ for the other reasons which I have stated, I repeat that it would be more businesslike and more satisfactory to the citizens of the Commonwealth that we should lease offices for the Commonwealth in London for the next ten or fifteen years, and after that lapse of time, we should better understand the possibilities of our various Departments, and shall have a better knowledge of our financial position. It is in my opinion wrong to suggest this huge expenditure abroad when we are unable to provide the money required for necessary works in the Commonwealth itself. We have been told by past Ministers that necessary works in the Commonwealth have not been proceeded with, because they have not had the wherewithal to carry them out. In the face of this, we are asked to commit ourselves to expend in London a sum of money which, U expended in the Commonwealth, would confer lasting conveniences on many citizens of the different States. ‘Requests have been made to me, and I suppose to every other senator representing Victoria, for telephonic facilities for people settled in remote portions of this State. Thev are far removed from railway lines, the post-offices available to them are far apart, and they naturally desire that they should be given some of the facilities of communication enjoyed by people in the more closely settled districts of the State. In submitting these requests to the Post and Telegraph Department, we are invariably told that whilst the officers of the Department are anxious to assist people so placed in this and in the other States, they have not enough money at their disposal. When that is the answer we are given, is it reasonable to expect that we shall commit ourselves to the expenditure of a huge sum of money for a building and land in London that are not required at the present juncture? Those are. the reasons which prompt me to vote against the motion, and I hope that the suggestion which has been thrown out by more than one honorable senator that instead of a proposal to buy land in London and erect a costly edifice for Commonwealth requirements, negotiations will be opened up with a view to leasing a building in a suitable site.
– - I am not altogether surprised at the expressions of opinion which have fallen from some honorable senators. I know that there are some honorable senators who have always cried out against the establishment of offices in London which would be to the credit and for the benefit of Australia. I am, however, surprised at the attitude of certain honorable senators who on a previous occasion were prepared to support another Government in a proposal which, to my mind, was not so much to the advantage of the people of Australia as is this proposal.
– Oh, no; that was only a proposal to set apart £1,000 for the* purpose of opening up negotiations.
– The annual expenditure they could not get over. When the present Government proposes something similar, but under better conditions, those honorable senators fall away and oppose it.
– There is a difference of opinion as to whether the conditions are better.
– I do not intend to say very much on that matter. The present Government took over this responsibility from the late Government because they honestly believed that the acquisition of this site would be to the advantage of the Commonwealth. Some honorable senators are prepared to change their views even on this question if I, on behalf ot the Government, am prepared to give them a guarantee that we shall do something, which I cannot gather from their statements. If I could thoroughly understand what Senator St. Ledger meant by asking me to give an assurance that the Government were going to incur this expenditure for the purpose of advertising Australia, I could reply to him. Of course the Government have no other idea in view than to do all they possibly can in a legitimate 0 way to advertise the Commonwealth. The honorable senator said that it was a huckstering kind of business to bring down the price of the site from £230,000 to £198,000. But what does he propose to do? He desires to defeat our proposal, and says that if it is defeated the probability is that the site will be offered to the Commonwealth for much less. He blames the representative of the Commonwealth in London for huckstering, and proposes to defeat this motion for the purpose of huckstering to a greater and more discreditable extent. I am surprised at the representative of any State rising here and giving such reasons for opposing an honest motion. But I do not intend to occupy the time of the Senate in endeavouring to convince honorable senators. Every one of them acknowledges that a good site is offered, and that it is nearly time that we were represented in London as the Australian Commonwealth, and not as separate States. Every one admits the desirability of securing that representation, but then they want the States to give a guarantee that they will make use of the Commonwealth building. How can the States possibly give such a guarantee until they see whether the building is a suitable one or not ? I have spoken to at least one State Premier, and he has not the least doubt that when the Commonwealth does take the responsibility of providing accommodation in London the States will be bound to go where it isrepresented, as their financial relations are so closely interwoven. No matter whether they are isolating themselves from the Commonwealth interests in London, the time will come when (hey will have to draw closer to the Commonwealth for their own protection. It was with that object in view that the Government were anxious that this particular site should be purchased, not intending to pull down the building and erect a palatial edifice right away. This was considered to be a fair offer. It has been placed before the Senate, and the responsibility of rejecting or accepting it is left with honorable senators themselves. Every one here must recognise that this is no party question. I dare say that when a division is taken we shall find many supporters, or those who ought to be supporters of the Government, voting in one direction, and some of those who should be opposing the Government voting in another direction, so that in no sense can it be called a party question. The Parliament alone will be responsible for accepting or rejecting an offer of a site which the Government believe to be in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
Question. - That this Senate approves the purchase of a site on the corner of Northumberland-avenue and Charing Cross, London, for the sum of £198,000, for the purposes of the Commonwealth - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Public Service : Boards of Inquiry - Military Forces : Trial of OffencesOrder of Business.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Seriate do now adjourn.
– Rather than move the adjournment of the Senate at the beginning of a sitting, I take advantage of this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Ministry a matter of some importance. Under the Public Service Regulations, a civil servant who is charged with an offence is brought before a tribunal composed of civil servants. I wish to give a few particulars of a special’ case which happened lately. I do not want to discuss the merits or demerits of the case, but merely to point out what the tribunal was to which it was referred. In other words, I do not wish to say that the man who was brought before the tribunal did or did not deserve the punishment’ which he received, nor do I wish to impugn in any way the bona fides of its three members. The postmaster at Launceston was charged with an offence of which he was either guilty or innocent. The tribunal appointed to try his case consisted’of a civil servant who is at the present- time Collector of Customs at Launceston, and two officers of the local post-office. The chief fact with regard to the tribunal was that these two postal officials were candidates for the position which the postmaster would have to vacate if he were, as he was disrated. It seems to me that it is a most extraordinary state of things to happen in any Federal jurisdiction. As a matter of fact, those two men were then practically the only two applicants in the State of Tasmania or in the Commonwealth for that particular position.
– The only two eligible for the position.
– Possibly they were the only two eligible for the position. The claims of no other man in the Public Service were considered in any respect, and as a matter of fact one of the two men was subsequently appointed in place of the postmaster. That is a state of things which reflects no credit upon us, and which undoubtedly ought to be altered. I do not impugn in the least degree the bona fides of the men who tried the case. But they never ought to be put in that position. While on the one hand it is obviously unfair to the postmaster in question that he should be so tried, it is equally unfair that these two judges should have to try him. I do not know whom to pity most, the postmaster who was tried or the two who had to try him, and who were applicants for his position if he lost it. I hope that none of my remarks will be taken in a wrong spirit as imputing either a miscarriage of justice or unfairness on the part of the officers concerned. I know nothing of the facts, except what I have stated, nor do I in any way reflect upon the bona fides of the two men who acted as judges.
– The instance mentioned by “Senator Clemons reminds me of another case which, now that we have a fresh Minister at the head of the Post and Telegraph Department, should receive attention. It is a case inwhich an inquiry was held as to the behaviour of a postmaster in Queensland. The board appointed reported that the postmaster was not guilty of the various charges made against him. But there are minutes in the possession of the Department showing that the Public Service Commissioner said that he did not approve of the finding of the Board, and consequently he refused to the postmaster the statutory leave of absence to which he was entitled before He retired from theservice. There is a case where a Board made an inquiry, and came to a certain determination, and where the Public Service Commissioner overrode the decision of the
Board and inflicted an additional penalty, which in this case amounted to a loss of six months’ salary.
– Who was the postmaster ?
– I do not think that it is necessary to mention names, but I may add that the case has been brought, by the honorable member for Maranoa in another place, and myself, under attention of the Post and Telegraph Department. I trust that the Postmaster-General will take the matter into his consideration, and will do something to uphold the recommendation of the Board of Inquiry held by his own Department, which was overridden by the Public Service Commissioner, although the Board was one which was properly appointed under the Act.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.12]. - I take advantage of this opportunity, in view of the regrettable statements that have been made - regrettable because I have no doubt of their truth - to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence a scandalous breach of the statute law of the Commonwealth. In April last an officer in New South Wales was placed under arrest for an alleged offence. Certain proceedings were taken against him, which I insisted should be submitted for the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral as to whether they were legitimate. I was afterwards supplied in writing with the opinion of the Attorney-General, which was that the whole proceedings were an utter nullity. There is a section of the Defence Act that prohibits any proceedings ‘in respect of any offence after the lapse of six months. But though the alleged offence was committed eight months ago, this officer is still illegally under arrest, and is still illegally dispossessed of his position in the Forces. Because he does not please certain people in high places who have egregiously blundered, and who did not know one of the commonest features of the Defence law of the Commonwealth, this officer, who has committed the outrageous offence of having risen from the ranks to a company command - that is his real offence, and I do not hesitate to say so - is still treated in this infamous manner. I repeat that his offence is that he has had’ the ability and capacity to rise from the ranks; and I will say more - that Re was. wounded in South Africa, and is in receipt of an Imperial pension on account of his wound. Yet we have this man for over eight months kept out of his proper position in defiance of the law.
– Who is responsible?
– Of” course the Minister of Defence is responsible for what goes on in his Department. I do not mean to blame Senator Pearce, because I do not suppose that the matter has previously been brought under his notice. I can, if necessary, supply him with names. I know the case well, because I have had the handling of it, recognising that an illegality was being perpetrated. Since last April, I have been fighting this man’s battle all the time, and I will fight it to the end. I am simply contending for the fulfilment of the law, and not for the subversion of military discipline. As this man has not had any charge levelled against him, or any prosecution initiated during the statutory period of six months, I say that that period having expired, it is an absolute illegality and an outrage on a citizen soldier that he should be maintained in the indignity of arrest, and prevented from doing his duty to his company - he is a company commander - merely because some people in high places have made egregious asses of themselves, have blundered like fools, and have shown their utter incapacity for occupying the positions into which they have been pitchforked. I speak strongly because the law has been broken, and a decent man has been outraged. If the facts do not justify one in speaking hotly, I do not know what would. I admit that I lose my temper when I think about the case. I am making an appeal to the Minister, who I know is brave enough to set aside the interests of carpet-baggers, and to do justice. Senator Pearce will not, however, suppose for an instant that my strictures apply to him, because I am sure that the people to whom I have made reference would try to keep the facts out of his way as long as possible.
– The case mentioned by Senator Neild has been brought under my notice, though I am not in a ‘position to deal fully with the question or to state the exact position, because I have not had time to go into the facts fully. Briefly, arid speaking from memory, the case, as I remember it, is as follows : - The name of the officer concerned is, I think, Heaney.
– It is a pity that the name should be mentioned.
– There is no secret about the case. A Board of Inquiry was held-
– An illegal Board.
– It recommended that he should be court-martial led. The constitution of the Board was challenged.
– Pardon me ; it was not a Board, but an individual officer.
– I believe that it is correct that the constitution of the Board was challenged. It was called a Board of Inquiry. The matter was referred to the Crown law authorities of the Commonwealth, and they reported that the Board was illegally constituted. By the time that report reached the Minister, the six months period provided by the regulations–
– No, by the Act.
– The time during which the charge involving the court martial must be investigated had elapsed. The consequence was that when the Minister received the report that the Board was illegally constituted, he was not able under the Act either to have a fresh Board appointed or to have . the officer courtmartialled.
– The decision of the Attorney-General was given before the expiration of the six months.
– I am under the disadvantage of speaking from memory, but I believe that the officer is not now under arrest. The papers were put before me, and the circumstances were roughly sketched out, but I had not time to go into the matter full)’. I asked that the case should be brought before me in a day or two, when I intend to go into it carefully. But my present impression is that the officer has been reinstated. I do not say that definitely.
– He had not been reinstated on Monday last.
– I can, however, promise that the matter will receive immediate attention, and that I will remedy the injustice, if any has been done.
– I thank the Minister for his courageous and courteous statement.
– I should like to inquire whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council can state, for the convenience of honorable senators, what measure it is intended to proceed with after the termination of the debate on the motion which he submitted at the commencement of to-day’s sitting ?
– After the termination of the debate on the motion which I moved at the commencement of the proceedings to-day, it is intended that the Minister of Defence shall move the second reading of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. With regard to the statement made by Senator Clemons. - judiciously made by him, I may add, inasmuch as no names were mentioned - I sympathize with the view that he put, and agree that something should be done to make it impossible, not only for injustice, but for the appearance of injustice, to occur under the Public Service Act. Honorable senators are aware that the Public Service Act is a piece of legislation that is really on its trial. Many provisions in it, that at the time it was passed were considered beneficent, have been found not to work out as it was thought that they would do. The late Government had the Act under consideration, and the present Government have also given some attention to it. . I can assure Senator Clemons that his representations will be laid before the Minister of Home Affairs and the Government, and something will be done if an opportunity is afforded to remove defects which have been found to exist in the Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 November 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081125_senate_3_48/>.