3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council if it is a fact, as stated in this morning’s Argus, that the Government is considering the advisableness of appointing a delegate to represent the Commonwealth at a Conference on dry farming to be held in the United States, and proposes to send Senator McColl?
– I know nothing of the matter, beyond what appears in the Argus report.
– Will the honorable gentleman ascertain whether an official invitation has been conveyed to the GovernorGeneral to nominate a delegate to represent the Commonwealth?
– I shall make the necessary inquiries.
– This day week I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council for information as to the valuation of the transferred properties, and his reply was -
The valuations of the transferred properties are not yet quite complete. As soon as they are I shall be prepared, on behalf of the Government, togive the Senate full information in respect of them. yesterday Senator Walker put a similar question without notice, and was asked to be good enough to place it on the businesspaper. I ask why that reply was given at a time when full information was being supplied to the other House? Why was information forthcoming there, and denied here?
– The information was not denied to honorable senators. It must be remembered that the Minister whose Department is concerned with the transferred properties has a seat in the other Chamber, and, without notice, was able to answer a question relating to the subject. I am prepared with an answer to a similar question to-day.
– Is the honorable senator willing that the Senate should occupy second place in matters of this kind, notwithstanding the frequent promises of Ministers that information should be supplied to the two Houses simultaneously?
– I understand that the information was given in reply to a question, without notice, by the Minister in whose Department the matter lies. It could not have been given here without notice.
– I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is under a misapprehension as to what happened elsewhere. I understand that a Minister may be able to answer, without notice, questions concerning matters within the control of his Department, which another Minister could not so reply to. But is the honorable senator aware that his honorable colleague laid the information on the table of the other House? What we desire to know is, why it was not also laid on the table of the Senate ?
– I shall make inquiries as to what happened, and if information was laid on the table of the other House, and not given to this House, I shall endeavour to see that it does not. happen again.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, uponnotice -
– The answers to. the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Is the Minister of Defence yet in possession of the information for which I have asked regarding the bounty on fish ?
– I am informed that the papers will be here this afternoon. Will the honorable member be good enough to repeat his question later?
– Has the Government appointed, at the salary of£250 a year, a Mr. Drakard to act as immigration agent in England? If so, what are this gentleman’s particular qualifications for the position, and is it a fact that he is to be allowed to publish advertisements from anywhere in Australia or the United Kingdom, subject to the censorship of Captain Collins?
– Three months ago or more Mr. Drakard made an offer to the late Ministry to circulate inGreat Britain and Ireland 50,000 copies of a pamphlet or publication of some kind containing information relating to Australia. Inquiries were madeby Ministers, and it was considered that it would be worth while to pay £250 for this service, the publication to be under the control of Captain Collins. A lump sum, not an annual salary, is to be paid. This Government agrees with its predecessor that the amount is a small one to pay for an advertisement of such magnitude.
– I wish to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council if the leader of the Opposition, the right ‘honorable member for Swan, the honorable member for Ballarat, and the honorable member for Hume, and others, are demanding a short recess, and that the Cabinet is considering whether thatdemand shall be complied with. Is it true, as stated in the Argus, that -
It is understood that several Ministers were in favour of getting into recess without any promise as to the date of reassembling, and then keeping Parliament in recess and the Ministry in office until July or August of next year.
Is it the policy of the Government to prolong the recess as much as possible, so that it may retain office?
– My only knowledge of the subject was obtained from the paragraph referred to by the honorable member. The matter has not been discussed by Ministers. I have not felt any pressure, nor do I think pressure has been applied to other members of the Cabinet.
– As the Commonwealth is about to lay a cable between the mainland and Tasmania, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ask that inquiry be made as to the cost of landing at King Island, and as to whether the position of the island and the nature of the settlement upon it economically justify the diversion ?
– If the honorable member will repeat the question when the Postal expenditure comes to be dealt with, I shall endeavour to give him a reply.
Status of Telegraph Operators : Despatching Officers : Eight Hours Principle
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
As the examination for advancement beyond £120 per annum in the Telegraph Department, and the use of the automatic transmitter for testing officers previous to promotion as telegraphists, have both been abandoned, is it the intention of the Government to recoup the amount of salary lost by those officers who failed in what are now admitted to have been unnecessary tests of proficiency; and, in addition, to restore them to their proper status?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The increases to the telegraphists referred to were not granted, as they failed to show that they had attained a reasonable standard of telegraphic efficiency. As all new entrants to the telegraphists’ ranks are now required to pass a similar test prior to appointment, the examination for promotion beyond £120 per annum was recently abolished, but this gives no claim to those who failed to meet the requirements of the service at the time the passing of the examination was necessary to gain advancement. The use of the automatic transmitter in telegraphy examinations has not been abolished.
– Arising out of the answer, I wish to know why the examination is now considered unnecessary.
– The examination was required to test the efficiency of the telegraphists in the service, and is no longer needed, because they have all been examined. Now all applicants for positions in the Telegraph service have to show, by passing an examination prior to their appointment, that they are qualified to do the work.
asked the Minister of Defence,upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Having regard to the increasing use of oil fuel for marine engines and the early possibility of its inclusion in the list of articles contraband of war, and to the reported statement that during the present year the British Admiralty despatched officers to Canada for the specific purpose of ascertaining the location of oil deposits in that Dominion -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transferred Properties - Summary of valuations; also comparison of the actual amounts of the valuations arrived at for each State with the distribution of the total of the valuations on the basis of population as at 31st March, 1 901.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Return showing land disposed of at Barnawartha, Victoria, and Cargo, New South Wales.
Late Presentation of Estimates - The prennan Mono-Rail - Customs Prosecutions - Field Artillery : Ammunition Waggons - Duration of Recess - Government Representation in Senate - Vote for Papua - Census - Sugar Industry - Finance : Commonwealth andStates - Advertising Australia : Mr. Drakard - Immigration - Commonwealth Offices, London : Captain Collins - Bounty on Fish - Post and Telegraph Department : Business Statements : Administration - Military and Naval Defence : Compulsory Training - Old-age Pensions.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
In doing so, I wish briefly to summarize its provisions in accordance with the usual practice, although I recognise that at this late stage of the session the figures embodied in it are practically public property. Stillr there are one or two items in respect of which the figures have been brought up to date, and to which it may be well for me to direct attention. The estimated revenue for the year is £14,577,271. That is made up of £11,040,711 from Customs and Excise receipts, £3,483,000 from the Post and Telegraph Department, £5,500 from the Defence Department, £2,000 from the Patent Office under administration of State Acts, £14,000 from other fees, £5,260 from Trade Marks, Copyrights and Designs, £20,000 from new revenue, and £6,800 from miscellaneous receipts. The total estimated expenditure is .£6,513,579, and it is anticipated that the amount returned to the States will be £8,063,692. Honorable senators will note that that amount is less than the sum which was returned to them last year.
– By how much?
– Practically by £800,000. But whilst that is so, the amount which will be returned to them is higher than that which they have received since 1903. It has to be borne in mind that the revenue last year was entirely abnormal, being very much above that received during previous years. If honorable senators will refer to the figures for 1906-7, 1905-6, 1904-5, and 1903-4, they will see that in each of those years the revenue amounted to only a little more than £7,000,000. So that the estimated revenue for the current year is very much higher than is the average for previous years. The Treasury officials have supplied me with figures which indicate that they expect to effect certain savings. Owing to the shortness of the sugar crop m Queensland, they anticipate making a saving in the payment of bounties to the extent of £76,300.
– Of course, the Commonwealth will receive less by way of Excise.
– Yes. Owing to the fact that the Quarantine Act will not be brought into operation as early as was anticipated - unforeseen circumstances have arisen which will render it impossible to proclaim it upon the date originally intended - we shall effect a saving upon that vote of £8,000. The other savings in the Customs Department aggregate £^5,500, making a total of £89,800. In the Department of External Affairs a saving of £10,000 is anticipated, which will bring the grand total to £99,800. But it is expected that there will be a shortage of £37.000 in the Postal revenue. The sum of .£.33>366 has already been charged to the Treasurer’s advance account, so that we anticipate receiving £29,434 more than the Estimates show. The Customs revenue is estimated at £600,000 less than the amount which was received last year. Up to the 7th instant, it had fallen short of the amount collected for the corresponding period of last year by £240,000. The Customs officials say that not only was last .year an abnormal one, but that during the month of December of that year the returns showed such an enormous expansion that they are totally unable to account for it. Up to the present time there are no indications that the revenue will be similarly buoyant.
– I take this opportunity to refer very briefly to a matter which has occupied the attention of the Senate upon former occasions. But I am sorry to say that the present occasion finds this Chamber in a more unsatisfactory position than it has ever previously occupied. I allude to the late period of the year at which the Estimates are presented to us for our consideration.
– Whose fault is that?
– There is a certain type of mind which seems unable to escape laing the fault upon somebody.
– If the honorable senator’s friends in the other place will “ jaw,” the fault is theirs.
– That statement, coming from an honorable senator who so recently exhausted all his powers in that direction, as well as the patience of the Senate-
– I am not by aru means exhausted yet.
– Then I can only express my regret. I am not charging anybody with the fault which Senator Stewart seeks to attribute to a particular section of this Parliament. I wish, rather, to draw attention to what everybody must admit is an unsatisfactory position, so far as this Chamber is concerned.
– What is the good of talking about it?
– I am talking about it because I intend to offer a suggestion. I think that I might have put that question to the honorable senator much more appropriately yesterday. I propose to offer a suggestion to the Government, in the hope that, all parties co-operating, some means may be devised by which it will be possible for the Senate to give consideration to the financial proposals of the Government at a much earlier period of the session, when we should be able to do justice not only to the Estimates themselves, but to the position which this Chamber occupies as a co-ordinate branch of the Legislature. Upon previous occasions we have contented ourselves with complaining of the position in which the
Senate has been placed. But, after thinking over the matter, I have come to the conclusion that it is almost impossible to ask the other House to surrender its hold upon .the Estimates at a sufficiently early period of the session to enable us to give them adequate consideration. They come to us as the schedule to the Appropriation Bill, and I cannot conceive of the other House relinquishing its hold upon that Bill until Parliament is on the eve of going into recess. TEat being so, it seems impossible for the Estimates to reach us earlier than a day or two before the close of the session. Now, I intend to make a suggestion, with a view to overcoming the difficulty, and I do so with some hesitancy, because I can foresee many difficulties in the way of its adoption. I repeat that the other House can hardly be expected to surrender its control of the Appropriation Bill until it is too late in the session for the Senate to give proper attention to it. But by means of a resolution), I think it would be possible for the Government to invite the Senate at a much earlier stage to give consideration to their financial proposals. Those proposals might come to us informally, in the shape of the Estimates, and honorable senators might then exercise all the privileges which they possess, upon the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill. When that motion is submitted, we usually embrace the opportunity to ventilate our grievances. That course might be followed equally well if the financial proposals of the Government were forwarded to us in the way that I have suggested. We should then- be enabled to criticise the details of the Estimates. The one drawback to the adoption of my suggestion is that our criticism would have no legislative effect, and that we should still have to deal with the Estimates as the schedule of the Appropriation Bill. But whatever defects there may be in the scheme which I have outlined, I hold that it is better that we should be afforded some opportunity of discussing the finances ,of the country, than that we should have no opportunity of doing so.
– If we stop this sort of thing, we may get an opportunity to discuss them.
– But it seems to me that there are circumstances which render it almost impossible for the other House to surrender the Appropriation Bill at an earlier period of the session. It constitutes the one hold which it has upon the Government of the day. If the other Chamber were to part with that Bill earlier in the session it would practically relinquish its control of the Government. We have to view its position, fairly just as we ask it to fairly consider our position, and I cannot conceive of its agreeing to surrender that measure of control over the Government which the retention of the Appropriation Bill secures to it. That difficulty, it seems to me, is insurmountable, and I put forward this alternative suggestion, not as a perfect scheme, but as less unpleasant and unsatisfactory than the course we now pursue. I shall be glad if, as the result of any criticism upon it, a better scheme is evolved, for the Senate has never had an opportunity to fully discharge its obligation to the electors to exercise full and careful control over the finances of the Commonwealth. Taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the motion now before us to ventilate grievances, there are one or two matters to which I should like to refer. My observations, however, will be rather in the nature of an inquiry. I should like first of all to have from the Government a statement as to what steps have been taken to acquire the Australian rights in Mr. Brennan’s invention, the mono-rail. It is stated in the newspapers that the Government are negotiating with a view of offering Mr. Brennan a lump sum. I hope that that report is incorrect. At present, I understand, Mr. Brennan is merely experimenting, and is asking for further sums to enable him to carry on his experiments. If that report is correct, the Government should have abundant evidence, which is not available to the rest of us, showing the value of the invention for practical purposes.
– The Government of India granted Mr. Brennan £10,000 for the Indian rights in his invention.
– £14,000 in all.
– And the Government of India now decline to make any further contribution. One would think that, having devoted so large a sum to the development of these experiments, the Government would not refuse to make any further contribution if they thought they were within measurable reach of success.
– It is believed that Mr. Brennan has passed the experimental stage, so far as the mono-rail is concerned.
– We have proof that he has not in the fact that he asks for £6,000 to enable him to complete his experiments.
– He asks the Commonwealth to buy the Australian rights in the mono-rail.
– But he admits that he has to make further experiments to demonstrate its success. It is one thing for the Government to negotiate with Mr. Brennan for the purchase of the Australian rights in an invention that can be put into daily use, and quite another for him to say to the Government, “ I have an idea that I have developed up to a certain point ; but I am not yet able to give practical effect to it, and I want you to give me more money to complete my experiments.”
– The Indian Government thought that his experiments were well worth encouraging.
– And having gone to a certain point, they declined to go any further. They were doubtless closely watching his developments, and I feel confident that, having given him £14,000 for the Indian rights in his invention, they would not refuse to give him a little more if they thought that in that way the success of his invention would be assured. I am not suggesting that Mr. Brennan has not made a splendid discovery. but I think that the Government is treading on dangerous ground.
– If the invention is a success, it will revolutionize railway conditions, and we shall share in the benefits of that revolution.
– Judging by some of the interjections, I question very much whether I have made myself intelligible. I am not expressing an opinion as to whether that invention is good or bad; but it seems curious that the Government should undertake to find £6,000 to enable Mr. Brennan’s experiments to be developed. It is a new procedure, and the Government should give us an assurance that Parliament will be consulted before such an undertaking is entered into.
– What are we to receive in return for the money?
– If the experiment is successful, we shall secure a valuable concession to the Commonwealth.
– And if it is not, we shall lose £6,000. On the same basis, I might justify the purchase of a ticket in one of Tattersall’s consultations.’ If it drew the first prize, I should have obtained a very valuable concession j if it drew ablank, I should have been a loser to theextent of the price I had paid for the ticket.
– The present Government are not committed to this proposal inregard to the mono-rail.
– Quite so; all that I urge is that if the Government intend to go somewhat out of the beaten track, and to find money to enable an inventor to develop his scheme, Parliament should have an opportunity to express its willingness to indorse such a proposal. If it were anordinary matter of administration, the necessity for parliamentary consideration’ would not be so obvious ; but it is an entirely new departure.
– It has been done on a small scale before.
– That is a dangerous, plea ; many prominent criminals haveurged that they started on a career cf crime in only a very small way. The honorable senator’s interjection seems to be an admission, on his part, that it would beunwise for the Government to act without parliamentary sanction. He pleads that,, as some other Government did something alittle less monstrous, perhaps, we should not regard the adoption of this proposal as a first-class offence. There is another matter to which I desire to draw attention. Quiterecently an ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, Sir William Lyne, stated that if hehad had his way, a certain firm would have been prosecuted for an alleged fraud upon the Customs. That seems to be an affirmation that, in the opinion of an experienced Minister, the material for a prosecution was available to the Department, but that another Minister declined to prosecute. Such a statement should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. If any firm has attempted to defraud the Customs - and I hardly assume that Sir William Lyne would have spoken in this way without some justification- then, in the’ interests of the Department itself, and of good’ government, steps ought to be taken, either to institute proceedings, or to make it clear, by the production of the papers, that the honorable gentleman in question was entirely mistaken.
– I think that he said that underlings were prosecuted, while the principals were allowed to go free.
– We know that the present Ministry are not responsible for what has happened in that regard, and, therefore, I can discuss this question with a measure of freedom that might not be possible if it were thought that my remarks were a criticism of their administration. Sir William Lyne evidently referred to one ofhis own colleagues in the late Government, and that makes the statement still more serious and startling. I invite the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, before we dispose of this Bill, to furnish the Senate with the fullest information upon this point. I am sure that whatever our fiscal views may be we are all anxious that no opportunity shall be given to any one to attempt to defraud the revenues of the Commonwealth. Another matter to which I wish to draw attention might perhaps be more properly dealt with when we reach the Defence Estimates, but I mention it now so that when they are before us the Minister will be ready with information that will enable him, I hope, to allay a doubt that is in my mind. I gather from a statement made yesterday by one of the honorable member’s colleagues, that there is not a battery of field artillery in Australia that could be put into the field fully equipped, or, in other words, that there are no ammunition waggons available for service.
– Was not that the statement made in another place by Mr. Kelly, and not by the Honorary Minister.
– I am asking the honorable senator for information. I understand that the statement was made by Mr. Kelly, and that the rejoinder made by the Honorary Minister was that the position had been correctly stated. If that is so, it. is just as well that the public should know it, and realize the absolutely serious position in which we stand. I claim no expert knowledge of military matters, but I understand that field guns going into action carry on their own limbers a very limited number of shells,, the reserves being brought on to the field by ammunition waggons. In the absence of such waggons, a gun, after being half-an-hour in action, would be silenced for want of ammunition, and would be left at the mercy of an enemy. Such a possibility is far too serious for us to view with equanimity. If the Commonwealth Parliament must find larger sums of money to remedy these defects, it is well that the position in which we stand should be freely and frankly stated, and that the Minister of Defence should take the responsibility of asking for larger supplies than have hitherto been voted. I come now to another matter, which I mention in no captious or hostile spirit. In view of what has been the practice since Federation, I invite the VicePresident of the Executive Council to give the Senate some idea of what will be the length of the approaching recess. Previous Administrations have given such information, and I think, therefore, that we are entitled to it.
– What Ministries have done so?
– I do not say that previous Administrations have mentioned a definite date, but they have given us, if only to enable honorable senators to determine what they are at liberty to do during the recess, aft indication of its probable duration. Many honorable senators live in remote parts of Australia, and some may desire to make an extended tour through their extensive electorates, whose boundaries are co-terminus with those of the States. It is not desirable that they should set out on such a tour and suddenly be recalled by reason of the recess having terminated, or, on the other hand, that they should be prevented from organizing a tour through their electorates because of the fear that they will not have the necessary time at their disposal. I do not ask that a definite date shall benamed, but I think we ought to be given some idea of what the length of the recess will be. I have mentioned these matters in a skeleton form, with a view of enabling the Minister later on to furnish us with the information that I have expressed a desire to obtain. I also had in view the furnishing of an opportunity to the Minister to give us some indication as to the period of the recess to which honorable members may reasonably look forward.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council how he reconciles the representation of the present Government in the Senate with the request that has been repeatedly made that we should have two Ministers with portfolios in this Chamber. Another question that I desire to ask is why the Government is asking for only £20,000 on account of Papua, whereas last year the vote was £25,000. In the interim some important appointments have been made, namely, those of Lieutenant-Governor and Administrator.
It appears to me that it would have been reasonable for a larger, instead of a smaller, vote to be asked for. A third question I wish to put is whether it is intended to take a census before the next general election in 1910?
– The date of the census is fixed by the Census Act.
– It is desirable, that we should know the number of electors in each State, with a view to the exact representation of each State in proportion to population.
– I do not propose to discuss a number of grievances at this stage, lt appears to me to be unreasonable to attack the members of the present Government in connexion with matters as to which they have not had time to become fully informed, and cannot, therefore, be held to be properly responsible. There is one matter as to which I shall make a suggestion, which I trust that the Government will see their way to act upon during the recess. A great deal has been said both in Parliament and out of it in relation to the Australian sugar industry. I do not propose to express my personal opinion upon the controversial questions at issue; but. I desire to draw attention to certain evidence of conflicting views as to the actual facts. Later on I shall ask the Government to take such steps as may be necessary to inquire into those facts, because in 1910 there will be a general election, and there is probably no doubt in the mind of any honorable senator that before 191 2 the Tariff, as affecting the sugar industry, will again” come under review. If there is one thing more than another which is desirable when people are invited to return representatives to Parliament to deal with momentous questions, it is that the electors should be fully acquainted with the facts relating to the questions laid before them. The late Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. Austin Chapman, was not long ago in Queensland travelling through the sugar districts, and in an interview published at Bundaberg, he said -
There are various little matters that we hope to remedy, but their (the sugar producers) chief trouble is that they are doubtful as to the future of the industry. They know that the present scheme of bonuses will only last a certain time, and are wondering what will happen after that. One can easily understand this, but at the same time there is no just reason for alarm.
This was the utterance of a Minister who had just made himself personally acquainted with the conditions prevailing, and who deliberately admitted that a certain amount of alarm was felt because the people did not know what the future would bring forth. He further admitted that there might be a change in the present conditions affecting the industry before many years were over. A statement relating to the sugar question was also made by the present Minister of Home Affairs in the House of Representatives last year, while the Tariff was under consideration. The honorable gentleman said -
Now, the reformer who would destroy class privileges must be prepared to do more than merely denounce them. He must act. That is what I propose to do in demanding a division. I must give these planters overt proof that there is, at any rate, a section in this Parliament prepared here and now to drag their hands from the pockets of the taxpayers.
Later on, in the same speech, the Minister of Home Affairs said -
Let the planters understand that many of the votes which sustain their privileges to-day are given under the duress of circumstances, that these votes are cast by men who deplore the necessity which compels them temporarily tocondone the enormous plunder that the sugargrowers are extracting from the masses of the community, and are determined at the first opportunity to put an end to the system. The division will be a danger signal from which, if they are wise, the planters will take warning that the doom of the sugar tribute cannot be much longer postponed.
Further on in the debate there was an interjection by an honorable member who referred to the large number of people who, on the strength of Commonwealth legislation, had purchased land and entered upon sugar growing in Queensland. To that remark the present Minister of Home Affairs replied that - having taken a speculator’s chance they cannot complain if they meet with a speculator’s fate.
The remarks of Mr. Austin Chapman and of the present Minister of Home Affairs are sufficient to create a good deal of anxiety as to what may happen in the not far distant future; and when the people come to choose their representatives at the next general election they should be supplied with the fullest information concerning the industry, in order that they may be guided in their decision. Honorable senators will perhaps allow me to point out one or two matters on which there are differences of opinion, and which may very well form the subject of inquiry. For instance, when the Budget speech was delivered in October, the then Treasurer, Sir William Lyne, said -
A considerable falling-off is estimated in the quantity of sugar produced this year. The reason of this is partly the failure in planting during 1906 and 1907, partly to a deficiency due to losses by frost, and partly because dairying in the northern rivers of New South Wales has received a great impetus from the high prices of butter.
Recently, in reply to Senator Stewart, the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, said that-
Official reports received by the Department of Trade and Customs attribute the shortage principally to damage to crops by frost, grubs, and vermin.
The fact that one reply from the- Department of Trade and Customs following only two months on a previous reply, gave different reasons for the shortage - with the exception of frost - seems to call for further explanation. I am not going to say which reply was right and which was wrong. That is a point which may very well be inquired into if an investigation such as I suggest be instituted. Then I find that Mr. E. Swayne, a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, has made a statement on this subject.
– One of the old black labour crowd.
– I am not arguing the matter. I am simply reading opinions for the information of the Senate. I take it that the honorable senator does not mind listening to facts sometimes.
– That is just what he does mind.
– I will give the Senate a few facts directly.
- Mr. Swayne referred to the statement of Dr. Maxwell, the head of the Queensland Sugar Experiment Station, that the shortage would be about 30,000 tons, due to frost, and he said -
I represent one of the largest sugar districts - a district second to none - and I say that the shortage is largely owing to the fact that though there were plenty of hands for the harvest last year there were not sufficient to look after the young crop. Therefore there is less cane this year, and there is consequently less work.
Another question has been put by Senator Stewart in connexion with this matter in the Senate. He asked whether any complaint had been made about a shortage of labour in the Mackay district during the past vear. The Minister of Defence replied -
No. Reports furnished monthly have indicated that labour in the Mackay district has been adequate for all requirements.
I do not propose to comment upon that reply except to point out that the question of Senator Stewart was whether there was a shortage of labour during “ the past year”; whereas Mr. Swayne had pointed out that there had been a shortage, not during “the past year,” but during1 “last year ‘ ‘ ; quite a different thing. I take it Mr. Swayne meant a period twelve months previous. If we turn to the annual report of the Sugar Experiment Stations, issued by Dr. Maxwell, and dated November, 1907, we find that expert stating - “ High experimentation and the best modern methods that are practised in other cane-growing countries, are gradually becoming impossible in Queensland, due to want of labour power, at a paying cost, to carry such methods into practice.”
Reading those words in conjunction with the rest of the report, they practically mean that the process of ratooning - that is, a practice of allowing cane to grow afresh after cutting - a method to which Dr. Maxwell was always opposed, is now being approved by him. He is apparently retreating from his old position, and taking up what he believes to be an inferior method of cultivation, because he considers that it is the only method that can be carried on with the present labour power, and * at a paying cost. All the points of view that I have quoted may be true up to a certain point. That any one of them is entirely correct I do not believe; but I honestly admit my belief that there is a certain amount of truth in every one of them. To what extent they are true is a matter that it would be very desirable for the people of Australia to know. Another question that wants looking into is the statement frequently made by mill-owners and others - and when I speak of mill-owners I refer to the manufacturers of raw ‘sugar as opposed to the refiners - that the refiners draw too much of the .profits from the industry. On the other hand the farmers frequently say that the mill-owners are getting too much of the profits. Again, we have the farmers frequently saving that the labour employed costs too much ; whereas a petition recently presented to the House of Representatives by the sugar workers of Bundaberg urges that higher wages ought to be .paid. I may add, in relation to that petition, that a request was put forward to the Government to make an inquiry into the whole of the circumstances surrounding the industry. I have pointed out some of the main points on which there are very serious differences of opinion; and I suggest that during the recess the Government should appoint a Royal _ Commission, or other body, preferably not political, but consisting of agricultural and commercial experts, to go carefully and fully into the question. I do not ask for any reference to the Commission of questions of policy, such as that of coloured labour; but I should like to have an inquiry of the kind, because it would be of permanent benefit to the whole of the people of Australia when we come to discuss the sugar question at the general election of 191:0. First of all, we require to know whether the refiners, mill-owners, or farmers get more than their fair share of the profits of the industry. We also ought to know whether the labour supply is adequate, whether the cost of labour is sufficiently low to enable those interested to make a fair share of profit, and whether the cost of sugar to the consumer is higher than in other countries which have a protective policy, and, if so, to what extent. I do not know how far I am justified by the rules of the Senate in referring to this matter; but a very strong expression of opinion was given by the Minister of Defence the other day as to the high cost of sugar in Australia; and, therefore, such an inquiry, as I have suggested, is highly desirable. Another question to be considered is whether the quantity and cost of labour is such that the best agricultural methods can no longer be profitably employed. An agricultural expert ought to ascertain whether there is any truth in the serious statement by Dr. Maxwell, that the present conditions of labour and Its cost are leading to inferior cultivation and methods. Whether or not that statement be true, I am not prepared to say ; but it is certainly one which ought to be inquired into by agricultural experts. We know that there has been a considerable reduction in the area planted with cane, and also :i considerable reduction in the amount of sugar produced ; and the question naturally suggests itself - What is the cause? According to opinion, probably gathered in particular localities, we are variously told that the reduction in the area and output is due to frost, grub, or labour supply, and here again inquiry is highly desirable. Another question to be investigated is, then,, to what extent have frosts, vermin labour supply, short planting, and overratooning respectively caused the reduction in area and output. I cannot expect the Government to say on the spur of the moment, whether they will institute an inquiry of the nature I suggest, but, in the interests of truth - whether or not that truth be agreeable to myself or to my political opponents - the actual facts ought to be known. As I have already said, I think such an inquiry ought to be undertaken by experts in their particular branches of knowledge, and not by politicians. Of course, the constitution of an inquiring body ot the kind rests with the Government, and my only desire is to ascertain the facts. The Tariff Commission, as we know, made a perfunctory inquiry ; but that, of course, I cannot regard as sufficient. The matters to be inquired into in no way raise the coloured labour question. I do not now suggest any further details for inquiry ; but, in the interests of the consumer - who, in some parts of Australia, imagines that he has been penalized to ai terrible extent - in the interests of the working man, and in the interests of the fanner and mill-owner, we should know definitely whether the statements which have been made are correct, and, if not wholly correct, to what extent. In short, we ought to ascertain the real facts, not permitting; any political bias.
– The Appropriation Bill affords one of the few opportunities which this and’ another place have of ventilating grievances, but we are in the position that if a private member, or even a Minister, attempts to bring forward matters of interest and importance, he is regarded as more or less of an obstructionist.
– There is no use disguising the position. The present Government are particularly anxious to get into recess, and no one, particularly on the Opposition benches, cares to place any obstacle in the way, though, “of course, if the Government’s own supporters choose to object, it is another matter. On the present occasion, there is really not time to ventilate grievances, because we are close to Christmas, when there must be a prorogation. That is a position; into which the -Senate ought not to be driven, but it is one which the leader of the Opposition declares cannot te avoided. It is not to individual grievances that I should like to call the attention of the Senate, but rather to the whole financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. These financial relations in themselves constitute one huge grievance ; and it is unfortunate that the Senate never has had an opportunity of dealing with this all-important question.
– There will be a chance in 19 10.
– Not if the same conditions prevail, and it is to be regretted that neither this nor any previous Government have sought to alter the conditions. I do not blame the present Government, of course; but it must be evident that we are approaching the time when we must consider the whole financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. It is the particular duty of this Chamber to ascertain the most equitable principle of adjustment ; and to that end we must apply our past experience to the conditions of to-day. The policy of the Commonwealth financially may be described as drift, spend, and tax; and to prove that position a very minute analysis of the figures during past years would have to be undertaken. One finds it difficult to surmise why it is that the Senate whose particular duty it is to see that there is an equitable relationship between the Commonwealth and the States, has not done its duty ; and the only explanation is that, owing to the Constitution, the relative powers of the two Chambers, or the bad management of various Governments, we have never had an opportunity to thoroughly consider the matter.
– Which senator has failed in his duty?
– I am not going to say ; but the facts are as I have stated. It must be obvious, not only to the Government, but to every senator, that we have not had proper opportunity to discuss these questions. The figures quoted by the Minister in introducing this Bill, show enormous revenue and enormous expenditure; the Commonwealth, so to speak, is receiving and spending money hand over fist, while the population of Australia is practically stagnant. It is to be regretted that, under the circumstances, the Senate is apparently to have no opportunity of reviewing, as it should be reviewed, the financial policy of the Government; and I can only express the hope that the conditions in this connexion will be altered for the better in the future. In view of the serious financial problem which is before us, even the present Government ought to give some indication of the method they propose to adopt in order to establish sounder relations between the Commonwealth and the States. If the Government are satisfied with the present policy, we ought to know the fact and the reasons for their satisfaction. We had no statement of the kind from previous Ministries, and not a syllable have we heard from the present Government.
– The present Government has scarcely got warm in their seats.
– I dare say that before long they will find their seats too warm if their supporters are not more firmly handled. Even the present Ministry will not dispute the assertion that in a short time we must adjust the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States - that, whatever Government be in power, we shall be forced to consider the question whether or not we shall take over the States debts, and what means the Commonwealth should adopt to that end.
– Some of the States declare that they will not permit the Commonwealth to take over their debts.
– The Commonwealth is in a position to exercise the power. Possibly public Opinion will, declare in favour of leaving the matter to the States, but it is equally possible that the people will force ‘ the Commonwealth Parliament to exercise its power under the Constitution. Many eminent financiers in the United ‘ Kingdom and here have pointed out that it will be a source of great financial strength to Australia if the Commonwealth takes the debts over. There is a good deal to be said on both sides. Surely the occupants of the Ministerial benches should address themselves to a question of such magnitude, but, beyond a few more or less irresponsible expressions of opinion by individual members, nothing has been done bv any Ministry to approach the subject during the last four or five years. The present Government should take into consideration during the recess the advisability of submitting the two problems of the future relationship of the States and the Commonwealth, and of the taking over of the States debts, to an impartial
Commission or Committee of financial experts, with power to take evidence in Australia, and,, if necessary, in the United Kingdom, in . order to assist Parliament in the solution of those two great financial questions which sooner or later it must face. I do not believe that any member of Parliament has at present sufficient information or knowledge to arrive at the best and safest way of approaching either. They require careful consideration, and the advice and assistance of the ablest financial experts, but, although they are immediately confronting us, we are practically doing nothing. Without taking up time by bringing forward individual grievances, I may state that the whole financial relationship of the Commonwealth to the States is one huge grievance. If I had time, I should like to offer, with fear and trembling, a method of solution of both difficulties. I indicated by a question this afternoon a grievance which I had in regard to the appointment of Mr. Drakard as immigration agent. I obtained very unsatisfactory information from the Minister, although it may have been all that he could give in the circumstances, seeing that he is so new to his seat. I understand that Mr. Drakard has had no experience of Australia outside of Melbourne. That the first effort of the Government to advertise Australia should be intrusted to a man who has not been outside of Melbourne is somewhat strange, if not a huge mistake. If . Mr. Drakard speaks with the authority of personal knowledge, he will be able to inform the people of Great Britain only as to the circumstances of Melbourne, and perhaps a small part of the rest of Victoria, which is at present perhaps the least desirable place in the Commonwealth to which to introduce immigrants. It is regrettable that so important a mission has been intrusted to a man whose knowledge of Australia is so limited. I believe that there is a great deal of justification for the complaint often made by honorable senators opposite that immigrants under the present system are brought to the veryplaces where it is the least desirable to put them, and where they compete with their fellow workers, unforunately both for themselves and the others, instead of being sent to more desirable parts, where they might be absorbed. As an illustration, take the recent case of certain Bulgarian farmers. The story goes that they saw an advertisement with regard to Australia, and read it as referring to Victoria. That led them to Melbourne, at which place they were landed and stranded. That sort of thing is the secret of a good deal of justifiable discontent, so often expressed on the opposite side, with our immigration policy, I have been informed on the best authority that literature concerning the resources of our country is so presented to people in Great Britain that the only definite impression which they can form from it is that there is a place called Victoria and a port called Melbourne. When they land here they find, not only that they cannot get work themselves, but that there are many others out of work also. I still believe that the supreme need of Australia is a wellconducted and well-regulated system of immigration suited to the needs of the country ; but if our immigration policy is to be so misdirected as to land men and women in the crowded cities, it will be entirely wrong. Mr. Drakard is to get a sum of money, and to have control of an advertising circular which may contain, in addition to descriptions of the resources of Australia, a great deal more about the wonderful virtues of somebody’s whisky, or somebody else’spills. Strongly as I believe in the advantages of a policy of immigration, I would rather that that kind of thing was stopped at once. What we need is the development of our vacant spaces. Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales offer great attractions, but they will not be brought home to the people of the United Kingdom by the appointment of such men as Mr. Drakard. The Ministry, if they can do so, should stop that gentleman’s mission as soon as possible, and devote themselves to the consideration of a fairly comprehensive scheme, if they believe in immigration at all. It is useless to discuss, any particular grievances on this occasion,, whilst the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States are simply thoseof drift, tax, and spend, and apparently the Senate must stand outside the doorwringing its hands.
– I should not have spoken at this stagebut for the fact that Senator Chataway seemed to think that some special danger was menacing the great sugar industry of Australia, and that special measures werenecessary to avert it. He made statements which I, as a Queenslander, do not agreewith, and which, as one who regards the sugar industry as essential to the well-being of Queensland, I consider require a fuller- explanation before they are allowed to go forth to the public. I do not believe that any . special danger menaces the sugar industry. If a statement of policy is required from anybody - and Senator Chataway was very emphatic that it was required from the Government in order that the people might judge as to who were the proper representatives to return at the next elections - it is much more required from Senator Chataway and his colleagues in order to let the country know whether they are or are not still in favour of their old love, black labour, which was the absolute curse of the sugar industry. They will of course deny that they are the remnants of the old black-labour brigade, but unfortunately for them, they have been too long identified with that policy to be able to do so successfully. Senator Chataway has been for years either the sole proprietor, or very largely interested in, a Mackay newspaper which has been one of the most strenuous advocates of coloured labour in Queensland. I believe the honorable senator and his colleagues are still as much in favour of coloured labour as ever they were, although they will probably disavow it. I base my belief very largely on what happened in Melbourne some time last year, at the annual gathering of the Women’s National League - a body on the same side in politics as that with which those honorable senators are identified. The families of both Senator Chataway and Senator St. Ledger were fully and ably represented at that conference, and had the courage, which those honorable senators had not, to declare boldly for a coloured-labour policy for Northern Queensland.
– Where did the honorable senator find that ?
– If the honorable senator doubts my word, I shall bring the newspaper, and put the report into Han- sard, but there is really no necessity to take that course. The absolute facts are that they boldly and plainly came out with a policy which they had borrowed from the male members of their families, but which the latter were not game enough to put before the country, preferring to shield themselves behind the ladies’ petticoats. Those are the facts which there is no gainsaying, or getting away from. For the last eight years these people have been continually ho wling blue ruin about the sugar industry. They said that the Commonwealth policy meant the shutting up of the great sugar industry of Queensland and New South Wales. They declared that every farmer would be ruined, that the land would go out of cultivation, and that what was then a smiting paradise of prosperity would become a howling wilderness. Those are the statements which the honorable senator made.
– I deny once again that I ever said anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator is here as the nominee of the Black Labour Party of Queensland, and there is no getting away from that fact. Senator Chataway was very anxious to get some of the facts, and there is a great number of facts in the Treasury tables which throw light on this subject.
– Did the honorable senator make this statement before the last election in Queensland?
– I have always said that I was opposed root and branch to coloured labour for the sugar or any other industry. And prior to Federation, I told the people that I believed that the Federal Parliament would deprive them of their coloured labour.
– Who but the honorable senator has been talking of coloured labour all the time?
– The honorable gentleman has always.
– I never said a word about the subject.
– The honorable senator has always been trying to throw discredit upon the conduct of the Commonwealth towards that principle.
– I challenge the honorable senator to produce a single word spoken or written by me to bear out his statement.
– So do I.
– If the honorable senator had as much moral courage as the ladies of the political association which is identified with his side of the Chamber, displayed at their conference, he would come out boldly, as they did, in favour of coloured labour.
– The honorable senator knows what I said in Sydney, and it is a complete reply to him.
– Here are the facts which the honorable senator wants to know about the great sugar industry, which he in his newspaper - the Mackay Mercury - told us again and again was going to be ruined.
– Produce the paper.
– I do not carry in my pocket a file of the newspaper for years past.
– I asked the honorable senator before, and he never offered to do it.
– I do not think that the honorable senator will attempt to say that his newspaper was not an advocate of coloured labour for the sugar industry.
– The honorable senator is perfectly wrong. He is mixing it up with another newspaper published in the town.
– In Mackay, in those days, there was no newspaper which, so far as I know, was not an advocate of coloured labour. They were all tarred with the same brush. The honorable senator was always recognised in Queensland as one. of the strongest advocates of black labour there. We have been told that a large acreage of land is going out of cultivation ; that the industry is under a cloud, and that an enormous danger menaces it in the near future. How many acres of land went out of cultivation before the Commonwealth had anything to do with the industry ? In the district in which I have lived for years - Cairns - the Pyramid sugar plantation went out of cultivation. Every building and every piece of machinery were carted away, and all the coloured labour departed.
– That was after the honorable senator made an address there.
– It was before I had anything to do with the politics of Queensland or the Commonwealth.
– It improved after the honorable senator got elected, I suppose.
– The place is very much better now. We have another crowd of the honorable senator’s particular friends, the Chinese, who own the Hop Wah plantation in the Cairns district. It was owned by Chinese, and worked by Chinese labour, except in the case of the sugar toiler, a white man, named Willie O’Connor. That plantation had to be shut up before ever the Commonwealth interfered with the industry. Let us come a little further south, on to the Herbert River, and we find that there the Hamley plantation - one backed up with enormous capital, with an overplus of coloured labour, and managed by such an extra ordinary genius as Mr. Cowley, the great advocate of coloured labour in Queensland - had to be shut up. Another plantation on the same river - the Gairloch - had to be shut up years before the Commonwealth meddled with the industry.
– There was a plantation in the Northern Territory which failed, namely, the Lizard.
– I am talking of the plantations in Queensland. How many have failed since the Commonwealth brought about the ruin which the honorable senator and his confreres have talked about ?
– Not a single one.
– Does the honorable senator say that no plantations have failed since Federation?
– No big plantation of that kind has failed.
– I can mention two straight away which have failed - the Nerdoo, and the Habana.
– There is cane grown at those places yet, and it is being crushed at other mills. There is no cane grown at the places I have quoted ; they are absolutely shut up.
– There is no cane grown in these places now.
– What are the actual facts of the case? In 1902, the number of sugar farmers in Queensland employing white labour was 1,521, and the number employing black labour, 957. In 1908, the number of the former had increased to no less than 4,425, whilst the number of the latter decreased to 400. The total number of farmers growing cane had increased from 2,496 in 1902, to 4,825 in 1908.
– Nobody is denying it.
– By his remarks, the honorable gentleman wanted to throw discredit on the whole thing a little while ago, and to insinuate that an enormous danger was menacing the sugar industry, owing to the policy of the Commonwealth. I am pointing out that that policy has been responsible for the most marvellous expansion, in the hands of small people, of the sugar industry and the most marvellous state of prosperity which could ever have overtaken any industry in like circumstances. With regard to the acreage, there is no alteration which should cause alarm to any one. In 1902, the total acreage in Queensland under cane was 95,697.
– What was it in
– When all the plantations I have named were in . full bloom, I supposethat it was very great ; but they all went out of cultivation before the Commonwealth had anything to do with the industry. This is the first year in which we have had any record of the operation of the new system which the honorable gentleman and his confreres prophesied would bring ruin upon the industry. I am quoting the actual facts.
– What was the total acreage in 1901, any way?
– It is not given in the table, because the Commonwealth law was not in force.
– The honorable senator knows that there is a difference of 20,000 acres between the figures for those two years. It was 115,000 acres in 1901.
– Suppose that you added 20,000 acres, would it then show the ruin which the honorable senator talked about ?
– The honorable senator knows that he has taken the worst year.
– I am taking the figures which are given in the return, and the honorable senator must acquit me of trying to misrepresent them. If we add 20,000 acres to the figures for 1901, we find that in 1908 there was no less than 124,500 acres under cane, so that, even taking the honorable senator’s own estimate, the acreage has increased by about 10,000 acres during all the time that the industry has been said to be going to ruin.
– What was the acreage in. 1905 ? The honorable senator will find that it was more still.
– It was going up all the time.
– No. It went up to a certain point, and then began to go down. It went up to 130,000 acres in thatyear, and it is now 124,400 acres. With regard to the sugar produced, I intend to give some of the reasons why the acreage fluctuated. The honorable senator spoke here to-dav for electioneering purposes. He said, “ We want to let the people of Queensland know whom they ought to elect next time.”
– I did not.
– If the honorable senator would come out in an honest and a manly way, and avow his real opinion in favour of black labour, he would not have a show of being elected.
– Is the honorable senator getting nervous already about the next elections?
– No. I do not want to allow a one-sided coloured statement to go before the people regarding a matter in which Queensland is vitally interested, without offering some correction, and every elector is entitled to know the official figures. I am not going on mere hearsay, but on official returns.
– I quoted from Hansard.
– It concerns me to see that no one is allowed to introduce the thin end of the wedge. The honorable senator introduced a deputation to the exMinister of Trade and Customs, with a view to prevent justice from being done. If he will deny that he did, I can quote a verbatim report of everything he said on that occasion.
– The honorable senator cannot prove that I tried to prevent justice from being done.
– Not from my point of view.
– I will not deny that.
– That is the whole point.
– But I am willing to put the honorable senator’s statement in Hansard, and let the people judge which point of view is the correct one.
– Produce the report, and put it in Hansard.
– I will before this Bill is passed. I was always under the impression that when an industry was being ruined the product of it gradually diminished, and finally disappeared. My honorable friend is always howling blue ruin about this industry.
– The honorable senator is only putting up Aunt Sallies for the purpose of knocking them over.
– The only one who is howling just now is himself.
– The honorablesenator need not talk in that way. I do not place much reliance on what he says here.
– Andapparently no reliance on what any one else says.
– I am asking the honorable senator to place reliance, not on what I say, but on official figures. If these figures are objectionable, so much the worse for him.
– They are most gratifying to me so far as the honorable senator has read them.
– Instead of the industry being ruined, and its product diminishing and finally disappearing-
– Nobody said that.
– lt was predicted time after time in the honorable senator’s newspaper, and in every other black-labour organ in Queensland.
– The honorable senator must know that he is not stating facts.
– They are absolute facts, and every one in Queensland should know them.
– Will the honorable senator give the tonnage of sugar produced ?
– I propose to do so, and to give the number of men employed in the industry, and I shall have something to say on the class of labour available. In 1902, and I must go back to that year to make a comparison between the time before Commonwealth legislation could have had any effect upon the industry, and the time during which it has been carried on under that legislation.
– Why not go back a couple of years further. The honorable senator knows that he has selected a year of drought.
– If that be so, I can add 20,000 tons to the production for that year in the same’ way as I added 20,000 acres just now at the honorable senator’s request to the acreage of cane crushed in a particular year.
– That would only mean an addition of one ton to the acre, and would not represent the yield of a fairly good year.
– Commonwealth legislation had no effect upon the crop crushed in 1902, because it was planted or ratooned in 1901.
– Had the weather anything to do with it?
– I am not speaking of the effect of the weather. I am pointing out as an answer to the prediction that blue ruin to the industry would follow the Com monwealth legislation, that instead of the product of the industry decreasing it has very largely increased under that legislation, and the present condition of the industry is one of far greater prosperity than existed prior to Federation. The most gratifying feature of the present prosperity is that it is distributed over a far larger number than were engaged in sugar farming under the old system. We now have over 4,000 farmers, whereas formerly we had a few big men aspiring to be the nabobs of the country to whom every one else was to bow down.
– The honorable senator is endeavouring to show that under Commonwealth legislation the sugar-growing industry has expanded and become prosperous.
– Is it now sufficiently prosperous to dispense in the future with some of the assistance that it receives ?
– I shall refer to the sugar bounty and the sugar Excise duty a little later if the honorable senator will have patience. In 1902, the total quantity of sugar produced in Queensland was 77<835 tons. In 1908 the production is estimated at 174,000 tons, an increase of 97,000 tons. If an industry is absolutely ruined under Commonwealth legislation when it can show an increase in production of more than double, it seems to me that those engaged in it should pray to be ruined in the same fashion a hundred times in the same century.
– That kind of talk is good enough for the platform, but we want the facts. Let us have the production for 1 90 1 ; a year that was not a drought year.
– The figures for 1901 are not in the table before me, or I should be glad to quote them.
– I can supply them to the honorable senator.
– Senator Stewart has handed me a copy of the “ Statistics “ of the State of Queensland ‘ 1 presented to both Houses of the Parliament by command and issued by the ‘authority of Anthony J. Cumming, Acting Government Printer, Brisbane.” I find that in 1901, the acreage of cane crushed was 78,160 acres, and the quantity of sugar manufactured 120,000 tons. In 1907, the number of sugar mills was 52, the same as in 1901, the acreage of cane crushed 94,384 acres, and the quan- tity of sugar manufactured, 188,307 tons, showing an increase of 68,000 tons on the production for 1901.
– That is not double as the honorable senator said just now.
– When I spoke of an increase that was double the previous yield I was comparing the production in 1902.. and in 1908. In 1902 the production was 77,805 tons, and in 1908 it is 174,000 tons, estimated, and that is an increase of more than double. If Senator Chataway desires any more figures I shall be happy to give them.
– Let us have the figures for 1898.
-When Senator Chataway was making his speech he was very anxious for information, but now that he is getting it he does not seem to like it.
– I should like to get information from some one who is not a politician.
– The honorable senator desires that some of the advocates of black labour outside should do his special pleading for him, since he is not game to do it for himself. I shall quote the figures for his pet year - 1898 : There were then in Queensland 62 sugar mills, 82,398 acres of cane were crushed, and 163,734 tons of sugar were manufactured. Let me remind honorable senators that in 1898 there were no less than 62 sugar mills in Queensland, and yet in 1901, before the Federal Parliament had anything at all to do with the industry, the number was reduced to 52. This was during the black-labour regime.
– A very good job for the industry. I hope that in the interests of the industry there will be fewer sugar mills at work.
– If ten of the mills at present at work in Queensland disappeared in the short space of two or three years, what a howl the honorable senator would put up about the ruin of the people who have embarked their capital in this great industry?
– Not if the number was reduced as the result of the amalgamation of mills.
– Let the honorable senator quote the earlier figures of production.
– I find that the production, in 1891 was 57,000 tons; in 1892, 61,000 tons; 1893, 76,000 tons; 1894, 91,000 tons; 1895, 86,000 tons; 1896, 100,000 tons; 1897, 97,000 tons; 1898, 163,000 tons; 1899, 123,000 tons; and in 1900, 92,000 tons. I venture the statement that if we take the average of production over the eight years during which the industry has been to some extent under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, and compare it with the average for the previous eight years, it will be found that the prosperity and production of the industry during the first period named was infinitely greater than during any previous period in the history of the industry.
– Then it is time that we reduced the bounty.
- Senator Chataway poses here as the one particular friend of the sugar industry in the Senate; but if he had had his way, he would have insisted upon the employment of coloured labour in the industry for all time, and it would have received no assistance from the Commonwealth Parliament. What would have been the result if the policy of the party to which Senator Chataway belongs had been pursued? Owing to the low prices ruling inthe world’s market for sugar, it could have been brought here at such a low price that the sugar-growers of Queensland would have been irretrievably ruined. But for one reason, there would have been no necessity to offer a bounty to the sugar industry. It was necessary that a differentiation should be made between sugar grown by coloured labour and that grown by white labour, if the White Australia policy of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament was to be fully carried out. Had it not been necessary to make such a differentiation, all that would have been needed to foster the sugar industry would have bean the assistance provided to foster every other industry in Australia, namely, the imposition of a protective duty. I would remind honorable senators that in a short time, under the present law,, the sugar bounty will disappear. Of course, the Excise duty will also disappear. That, from my point of view, will be an exceedingly good thing, as I consider that it is the worst possible policy to impose an Excise duty upon an article of Australian production which is essential to the sustenance of the people. People like Senator Chataway have, I think, been designedly trying to lead the sugar-growers of Queensland to believe that when the bounty disappears they will be in a very bad! state. It is not so. They will be in exactly the same position as they are in now. The position under the Sugar Bounty Act is that the Commonwealth is levying an Excise duty of j£/. per ton, and returns to those who grow sugar with white labour £3 per ton by way of bounty. At the same time, there is an import duty of £6 per ton on all sugar coming to Australia from abroad. The real protection to the farmer is the amount of import duty. His protection consists of the difference between the Excise and the import duty. The Excise is £4 per ton, and the import duty £6 per ton. That means that the man who grows sugar with any sort of labour - black, white, or brindled - gets a protection of £2 per ton, and the man who grows sugar with white labour gets, in addition, a bounty of £3 per ton, making his protection a total of £5 per ton. Under the existing law, the Excise duty and the bounty will disappear. By the time the bounty .falls to £1 per ton, white growers will be paying Excise duty at the rate of £3 per ton, or only £1 less than the full Excise. The producers will still have the protection afforded by the difference between the Excise and the import duties, and I hope that in time the Excise duty will be removed, because a commodity which forms an article of diet in daily use by our people is an improper subject for Excise taxation. I am reminded by Senator Stewart that the Treasurer of Queensland, when making his financial statement this year, said, in regard to the sugar industry - his remarks are published in the State Hansard, at page 766 -
Appearances last year pointed to the sugar industry having a record year, but unfortunately the State was visited by frosts which were the most severe that had occurred for many years, and the Comptroller points out that practically one night’s severe frost made a difference in the value of the sugar crop of, roughly, ^350,000, or a sum about equal to the total value of the wheat crop of Queensland in its record year. The Comptroller, in reporting on the mills under Government control, says that, notwithstanding the unprecedented severe results of the frosts, it is expected that, after meeting all costs of maintenance and upkeep, the Proserpine and Gin Gin Mills will meet their annual payments to the Treasury, the Nerang Mill will pay interest upon its capital liability, and the Mount Bauple Mill is engaged in meeting the capital outlay upon the Government gauge tramline just constructed.
Notwithstanding that last season was a bad one, the industry is prosperous, and the mills directly under Government supervision are in a position to meet their liabilities. The number of persons now connected with the sugar industry is very large.
During the. year which ended on the 3oth December, 1907, the white men engaged inQueensland and New South Wales in theproduction of sugar earning a bounty; numbered 35,558, while in the production of sugar not earning bounty 607 white personsand 3,345 coloured persons were employed, the total number of those connected with the industry, exclusive of those engaged in manufacture, being 39,510. The legislation of the Commonwealth has enabled1 at least 25,000 or 26,000 white men to obtain profitable employment in connexion with the production of sugar. Whereas inQueensland we had formerly 10,000 or 12,000 kanakas working for starvation* wages under conditions of semi-slavery, today the industry is conducted chiefly by white persons, earning good wages, under fair conditions. This year and last vear, even in the far north of Queensland, therewas no difficulty in obtaining sufficient labour for the harvesting of crops to keep tho mills fully employed. It is announced’ that the Mulgrave Central Mill has finished crushing, and that those controlling it had no difficulty in getting labour for harvesting, during the past season. Even Senator Chataway has admitted that labour can beobtained for harvesting, though that is thetime when difficulty might reasonably be anticipated. He said that the trouble arises in the off season, when the cane is. growing. But thousands of men are leaving North Queensland now because the harvesting is finishing, and there is no remunerative employment for them there. The fact that the planters agreed to a wage of 22s. 6d. per week for the off season as a standard rate, shows that there is nolabour difficulty, because a slight increase would attract a plethora of men seeking work. I say, on the authority of one who has lived in North Queensland for a number of years, and is intimately acquainted! with the conditions of the sugar industry there, that if the farmersoffer constant employment at reasonable rates, they will have no more difficulty ingetting labour in the off season than duringthe harvesting months. Senator Chataway quoted Dr. Maxwell as having said that the alteration in the conditions of labour had led to the adoption of inferior methodsof cultivation. I never heard a more extraordinary statement. Where labour is difficult to obtain, it is necessary to employ none but the best methods, and I cannot believe that an expert would make such a statement. If Dr. Maxwell said that, I cannot place much value on his utterances. No doubt, when the present Government has elaborated and brought into force a new protection policy to which, I understand, all parties in the Parliament are inclined to give adherence - a remedy will be found for some of the evils now connected with the industry. I believe that at present the growers do not get the full benefit of the concession which we intended that they should get; but that as the refining and distribution of sugar is controlled by a monopolistic firm, the advantage really goes to it. What are the facts regarding the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which, it was said, would be ruined by Commonwealth interference? The market reports show that, prior to Federation, in 1900, the company’s shares could be purchased at £20 each. Since then they have been twice watered, and yet are to-day worth £44 each.
– The company has interests out of Australia.
– Its interests elsewhere are nothing in comparison with its interests in Queensland.
– They are quite as large.
– The greater part of its profits is made in Fiji.
– I cannot accept the honorable senator’s statement, inasmuch as when I was moving for the nationalization of the sugar industry, the honorable senator interjected that the company’s profits were not unreasonable, and since then it has distributed to its shareholders .£350,000 worth of new stock.
– That is paid out of the reserves. The company has at least three large mills in Fiji.
– And interests in Java.
– I do not think that it has interests in Java, because Messrs. Poolman and Co. were able to force its hands by importing Java sugar into Australia.
– Are the growers dissatisfied ?
– They have good reason to be dissatisfied with the way in which they are being treated by the company.
– They have done very well.
– Yes, but they would have done better had they not been fleeced by this grinding monopoly.
– Those in other industries would like to do as well.
– The New South Wales growers have enjoyed as great advantages as any under our laws. While at harvesting time wages in the sugar industry are fairly good, and conditions not unreasonable, as is evidenced by the fact that there is no difficulty in obtaining sufficient labour, the rates paid during other parts of the year are not sufficient. The men are asked to work too long, and, when working for big companies, the food with which they are supplied, and their treatment, are often anything but satisfactory. I notice that Senator Walker is smiling, but he would not like his food to be ladled out to him through a pigeon-hole, as if he were a kanaka.
– Is there no regulation of hours in Queensland?
– Not in the sugar industry, I am sorry to say. Even when this Parliament desired to :enact legislation to regulate wages, the honorable senator and his confreres wished to exempt the farmers from its operation.
– Quite right.
– If we proposed to re-enact the Ten Commandments, Senator Walker would probably advocate the exemption of the farmers. Seeing that the sugar industry has received a large measure of assistance from this Parliament-
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say that.
– I have never denied it. I believe that, by its legislation, this Parliament saved the sugar industry from absolute ruin. Having treated the industry in that way, I hold that we ought to go a little further, and see that the growers, to whom we have . extended protection, actually receive the benefit of that protection, whilst at the same time insisting that the employes in the industry shall also receive fair treatment. I do not know whether the Government intend to fall in with Senator Chataway’s suggestion, by appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the conditions which obtain in the sugar industry. But in passing, I may remark that the party +0 which the honorable senator belongs has always howled for the appointment of a Commission to investigate the conditions that prevail in the industry, and has desired to pack that body with its own creatures. Personally, I think too many Commissions have been appointed since the establishment of the Federation. Many of these bodies do not serve any useful purpose. They are nearly always resorted to by weak Governments, who desire to avoid the responsibility which should justly attach to them. I recollect that during one year in which I sat in the Queensland Parliament, the sum of ,£10,000 was expended upon Royal Commissions, without tenpence worth of good flowing from their labours. If the Government intend to adopt the disinterested suggestion of Senator Chataway, I would impress upon them the wisdom of making the Commission a thoroughly representative one. If that be done, two minority reports will inevitably be presented. If the Government will tell me the names of the members of the Commission, I will tell them the nature of the reports which they will submit.
– How can there be two minority reports?
– I may inform the honorable senator that I have, seen seven minority reports presented by a Royal Commission. If the suggested Commission be made fairly representative of the opinion of both sides of the Senate, two reports will be presented by practically an equal number of Commissioners, each swearing by all that is blue that their conclusions are correct. Whilst I should welcome an inquiry into the sugar industry with a view to correcting existing anomalies, to insuring that the growers shall benefit by protection which has been extended to them, and that the employes shall be paid fair wages, I say emphatically that that inquiry should not take the form of a Royal Commission. The Government have officers stationed in every sugar district in Queensland. There are innumerable channels open to them through which inquiries might be conducted, and it is their duty to collect as much information as possible for the use of honorable senators. That information, I contend, can be obtained in a less costly and more reliable form than it can be secured by a Commission, which would be packed by men specially versed in the sugar industry. There are one or two other matters to which I desire briefly to refer. The bookkeeping period having expired, it is about time that the Government addressed itself to the task of bringing about a real Federation. So long as a system obtains under which every little transaction between the several States has to be recorded, so long shall we lack a true Federation. If I have occasion to send through the parcels post a small package to Queensland or Tasmania, notwithstanding that Inter-State free-trade has been established and that the bookkeeping period has expired, I am obliged to fill up a Customs form setting forth the country of origin of the goods, and a lot of other particulars.
– It is a great nuisance.
– It is worse than a nuisance. It is absolutely an un-federal act. I maintain that the Commonwealth revenue should be allocated to the States upon a per capita basis. I am. aware that Western Australia is bitterly opposed to that system, because her revenue per head is much higher than is that of any other State. But upon this matter I am in a position to speak from an absolutely disinterested stand-point, seeing that under a per capita system the State which I represent would still occupy practically the same financial position that she occupies to-day. I would suggest that rather than continue the present inequitable system the Commonwealth should grant a lump sum to Western Australia to compensate that State for the loss which she would sustain under a per capita system.
– A lump sum for what term?
– I believe that in a little time the populations and the expenditures per head of the different States will have a tendency to adjust themselves. Western Australia collects a larger revenue per head than does any other State.
– Her new expenditure per head is also very much greater than is that of any other State.
– Where is the largest amount of revenue per head collected in Western Australia? It is upon the goldfields. But is that money being expended there? No. Why does not Senator Lynch advocate that it should be expended there instead of at Perth and Fremantle?
– That would be a parochial view to take.
– Exactly. The honorable senator recognises my point when it is applied to places within his own State. But the moment I seek to apply it outside the limits of that State his vision becomes narrow.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure of his statement regarding the apportionment of expenditure upon the gold-fields of Western Australia?
– I am pretty sure that there is nothing like the same apportionment of expenditure upon the goldfields that there is in Perth and Fremantle. But in that respect Western Australia does not occupy a peculiar position. The putlying portions of the States in which the greatest amounts per head are collected generally obtain the least expenditure per head. I appeal to honorable senators to take a broad, federal view of this question. I repeat that by the adoption of the per capita system the two States which would be most affected would be Tasmania and Western Australia. The latter is a wealthy State, and I believe that she would be satisfied if the Commonwealth returned to her a lump sum over a term of years to compensate her for the loss which she would sustain. Tasmania would gain a little, but owing to the smallness of her population I believe that the remainder of the States would be willing to allow her to retain that advantage. For my own part I would. This is a matter which I desire to impress upon the minds of honorable senators with a view to fostering a truly federal spirit at the earliest possible moment.
– I do not think that I’ could undertake a more dismal and hopelesstask than that of attempting, within a day or two of the close of the session, to review the whole financial position of Australia. A few days prior to the termination of the last session I spoke at some length on various important phases of Federal and State finance, but I do not think that I did more than waste the time of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are embodied in Hansard.
– Yes, and Hansard is only another name for the wastepaper basket. Although seven years have elapsed since the establishment of the Commonwealth many great questions remain unsettled. So far, we have not even adopted a uniform postal stamp for the Commonwealth. Further, varying postal rates obtain in the dffferent States. As Senator Givens has pointed out, we have not a true Federation even in the matter of the exchange of goods. We have practically denied ourselves the full’ benefits to be derived from the interchange of commodities between the States which was one of the greatest advantages that Federation was to confer upon Australia. Then the question of compensating the States for the trans ferred properties has not yet been dealt with. We have not dealt with the great subject of the transfer of the debts of the States, and the general financial arrangement as between the Commonwealth and the States.. That is not a great record for Federal Administration. We have largely devoted our time to the work of placing on the statutebook measures that have not been to the advantage of Australia, and by the repeal of some of which Australia would be greatly benefited. I have observed, too, that when we approach the close of a session and attempt to discuss matters that we deem to be of importance, Ministers remain practically silent. I presume that they hear more or less of the grievances ventilated by honorable senators, but when the recital of complaints closes the leader of the Government in the Senate either keeps his seat, or, if he rises, dismisses the whole matter in a few brief sentences, and urges honorable senators to proceed with, the next stage of the Bill under discussion-. As for any reply to the complaints made, we look in vain for it. I suppose that Ministers believe that in the circumstances silence is golden. Nevertheless, there are- one or twomatters that I should like to mention in the hope that Ministers may venture to make some comment upon them. When the new Ministry was formed we hoped that we should be honoured with the presence in this Chamber of three instead of two members of the Government. Again and again the view has been expressed in the Senate that we should have in this branch of the Legislature three members of the Ministry, and I should not be surprised to find in Hansard a record of such an- expression of opinion by the honorable senators who now represent the Government in- this Chamber. Possibly they may think it worth while to tell us whether they made any effort to impress on their colleagues the desirableness of giving the Senate more representation in the Government. I should like also to ask them whether any further steps are being taken regarding ‘ the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London. If anything is being done, or is proposed to be done in that direction, the VicePresident ought to give us some information on the point. Senator Millen, leader of the Opposition, has made reference to Mr. Brennan’s invention of the mono-rail. The matter is highly important, but I hope that the Ministry will not be led to commit Australia to any expenditure in connexion with it. The mono-rail, if successful, may offer a solution of many difficult questions as to the transportation of produce in Australia, and it is the duty of the Government - and I believe that they are anxious to do so - to inquire fully into the invention and to become seized of all the information available in relation to it, I trust, however, that their anxiety will not lead them unduly to commit Australia to any expenditure in this respect that may after all prove to be disadvantageous to the Commonwealth. I wish now to refer to a matter relating to the Bounties Act. Under that Act provision is made for a bounty of £d. per lb. on “ Fish, preserved,” the total payment under that heading being fixed at £10,000. A little while ago there was laid upon the table of the Senate a return showing the amounts that had been paid up to date under that Act. Strange to say, it showed that nearly all the money so paid related to the bounty on “Fish, preserved.” I find that out of a total payment of «£r>°6i, £%15 had been distributed in respect of this bounty, and that accounts for a further sum of £315 had been approved and were awaiting payment when the return was furnished. We have therefore a total of £1,190 paid or to be paid. Under the Act, a regulation was issued providing that the term “Fish, preserved “ should be deemed to include fish put up in tins, smoked fish, salt fish, and dried fish, and it was upon that broad basis that the payments I have mentioned were made. Within the last few weeks, however, there has been issued a new regulation repealing the old one, and giving the following definition -
The term “ fish, preserved,” shall be deemed to mean fish put up in tins.
As I believe that nearly the whole of the amounts paid in respect of this bounty were paid on fish not in tins, but fish otherwise preserved, the position arises that according to this new regulation, it has been wrongly distributed. At all events, it could not be claimed, under the definition given in the new regulation. What are we to believe? That the money has been paid away under the old regulation, in accordance with the wishes of Parliament, or that the wishes of Parliament are being flouted under the new one? The Bill, as introduced in another place, contained in the schedule the words: “Fish preserved in tins or casks,” and the ex-Attorney-General, in Committee, said that -
The desirableness of making provision for the payment of a bounty on the production of smoked fish was not overlooked, but after consideration it was considered inadvisable to do so. . . There appeared no necessity to include smoked fish in the items, and, technically, I doubt whether we could alter the schedule now, seeing that we have made an appropriation for a specific purpose.
Later on, the honorable member for Corio, Mr. Crouch, moved that the words “ in tins or casks “ be left out, he explaining that he did so in order that the bounty might be claimed on a broader basis than would be possible if the item related only to tinned fish. There was more discussion on this item than on any other, and ultimately the amendment was agreed to, and on the broader basis thus laid down, the Customs authorities issued the first regulation to which I have referred. I have before me a paper showing the amounts paid, and clearly indicating that a considerable proportion of the bounty was paid on smoked fish. Under the heading of “ Victoria,” v- have the statement -
In addition to the moneys paid, two claims for bounty on smoked fish amounting to £315 have been approved, and are awaiting payment.
It will thus be seen that the Customs authorities have taken upon themselves the right to interpret .an Act of Parliament, and by regulation to decide how payments amounting to hundreds and thousands of pounds shall be made. I wish to have a distinct statement from the Government as to their view of this matter. As a matter of fact, it relates really to their predecessors in office, and it is somewhat hard that they should be called upon to make an explanation in regard to it I wish it to he distinctly understood that I do not cast the slightest reflection upon the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs. I have always held, and have repeatedly said in the Senate, that Dr. Wollaston and his officers, in my judgment, display very great ability in the discharge of their duties. It is not long since I enumerated in the Senate the large number of Acts which they have to administer, and the heavy work which falls to their lot. But I have also repeatedly said that we are being governed too much by regulations. We pass Acts of Parliament, and leave it to outsiders to determine how they shall be administered. We have practically placed in the hands of the Customs authorities the power to pay, or to refuse payment of bounties under the Act. I do not think that any bounty has yet been paid on tinned fish, although I believe that when the Bill was originally introduced, the late Government, and Parliament gene- rally, had in mind fish so preserved. The area was enlarged, however, by the omission of the words “in tins or casks,” and that being so, the words deliberately struck out by Parliament should not be reintroduced by regulation. Is it right that these words, having been eliminated by Parliament, should be re-introduced by the Department ?
– The Department is really the Parliament in this case.
– That is so. I dj not think it is right. If my view of the matter is correct, the new regulation ought to be withdrawn.
– What is the date of the new regulation?
– It is dated 10th November last. The only other matter to which I intend to refer to-day relates to the Post and Telegraph Department. Honorable senators will recollect that yesterday I had a question on the notice-paper in regard to the issue of certain statements relating to postal business in the various States. I venture to say that the reply that I received was one that was entirely drafted by the officers of the Department, and was intended solely to clear them from responsibility - to whitewash them, in fact - for the issue of very useless and undesirable literature. I regret that the Minister should so lightly have accepted that answer. I presume that the PostmasterGeneral accepted it in the first instance, and I am sorry that he did. I believe that prior to Federation every one of the States issued a return in the nature of a report on the working of the Post and Telegraph service. In the volume of New South Wales Parliamentary Papers for the year 1900 - that is, the year prior to Federation - there is such a report. It consists of a complete business-like statement, giving the revenue and expenditure for the year, together with details with regard to oversea, inland, and Inter-State mails ; and, finally, there is an appendix giving details in regard to certain offices. The papers recently printed and distributed consist - will the Senate believe it? - of nothing more nor less than a list of the items which appear as an appendix to the New South Wales reports of bygone years. We are asked to accept this as a valuable report. I pointed out in my question that the classification of particulars in the report was different for different States. The reply was that the basis of classification was the same. Well, in one respect that is true; and yet it was not an honest reply to my question. The basis, of course, is postal business, but honorable senators will see how ridiculous it is to state that the information given can be compared. In the Queensland report the information is divided into seventeen columns; in the Tasmanian report there are thirty-one columns ; in the Western Australian report thirty-five columns ; in the South Australian report thirty-nine columns ; in the New South Wales report thirty-one columns ; and in the Victorian report seventeen columns. So that the Senate will see how utterly impossible it is to undertake the task of comparing the business done in country offices, say, in New South Wales, with the business done in any country post office in any other State. The whole thing is a sad commentary on, and a painful illustration of, the want of business aptitude in the management of our postal affairs. We have had several Postmasters-General in charge of the Department since Federation was established. Not one of those gentlemen ought to have allowed the state -of things here exhibited to pass. Is there any business man in the Commonwealth who, if he had establishments in six different States, and wanted his branch managers to send1 in returns, would allow each of them to furnish the information in a different way? He would want to have all the information furnished on the same basis. But it appears that our Postmasters-General have taken no notice of such things. I cannot understand how any Postmaster-General acquainted with the facts can have delayed an instant to order an approach to a businesslike system, and I regret very much that the new Postmaster-General did not take decisive action when the matter was pointed out to him. It is much to be regretted that the honorable gentleman was content to accept the reply which was foisted on him by the Department.
.- We have this year a repetition of what took place last year when the Appropriation Bill came up to the Senate at the last possible moment, and we were called upon to discuss it at a time when it was desired to terminate the business of the session. If we are to do our duty to our constituents, and discuss the items efficiently, we ought not to be content to pass page after page of the schedule to the Bill without consideration, especially in view of the fact that large increases are proposed in the various Departments. Some of the increases are not warranted, especially in view of the fact that very unsatisfactory answers are given by the responsible departmental officials to questions put by honorable senators. A week ago, I asked a question as to the disbursement of £800 or £900 in bounties. Any ordinary merchant or business man, when asked such a question regarding his expenditure, would be able to turn up his ledger and give the information required in five minutes. But the circumlocution office of this Government, and the officials in the office, force us to wait a week or more for a reply to a. simple question. I believe that I know where the money to which I refer has gone. I have received information on the subject. But I am not in a position to state what I believe to be a fact without definite information from the Government. If they have nothing to hide, I hope that they will give some information to the Senate.
– To what Department does the honorable senator refer?
– I believe the matter relates to the Treasury.
– What was the subject of the question ?
– It had reference to the bounty oni fish.
– That relates to the Department of Trade and Customs.
– If the books of the Department cannot show where the £800 has gone to, the business is not carried on in a proper manner. I asked my question on three different occasions, and have not yet been able to obtain a reply. If I do not receive one when an item with which the matter can1 be connected is called on, I shall hold up this Bill for a long time. We were told that the bounties would be paid under regulations, but that Parliament would have an opportunity of discussing the regulations. As a matter of fact, Parliament has had nothing whatever to do with the matter. We have allowed the disbursement of hundreds of thousands of pounds in bounties to be made by the officers of the Department as they think fit. The honorable senator who preceded me, stated that the intention of Parliament was that a bounty should be given on a certain class of fish. But the Department of Trade and Customs immediately said, “Oh, hang what Parliament thinks; we will do the business in our own way, in spite of what Parliament have intended.” I maintain that the Minister does wrong to the country if he permits the public purse to be drawn upon and thou sands of pounds disbursed in a way. that Parliament has not authorized. I cannot blame the present Government, because they were not in office at the time; but the control must have been very lax. The case shows that when money is voted for a specific purpose by ‘Parliament, , steps ought to be taken to see that that purpose is not changed at the will of the Department. What has been done is very wrong indeed. It is quite right that attention should be called to these facts, which show the danger of intrusting Acts of Parliament to be construed in accordance with regulations. We should have laid down distinctly what we intended. We are paying away every year a large sum of money for the defence of the country ; but I have received letters which show me that the Defence Department is, and has been for a considerable time, in a state of niter chaos. The money which we vote is practically wasted. I am prepared to support the Government if even larger sums of money are asked for; but I want to see it spent in the best interests of the Commonwealth, and not squandered. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are wasted even’ vear. We cannot blame the present Miniver of Defence ; but I do not think that he will say that his Department is efficiently managed. If the money at present voted is not sufficient, I for one pledge myself, if the Minister comes down with a properlythoughtout scheme, to vote a larger amount to put our defences upon a sound footing, and to insure that the officers and men shall be properly treated. It is our duty to look after the defence of the country, and I am prepared to vote money for the purpose. But I shall be very sorry to vote increases unless there is atn; improvement in the administration. I am certain that not a single honorable senator will say that the Post and Telegraph Department has been efficiently managed. Large sums of money are spent, but the service is sadly disorganized. I give credit to the party that sits behind the present Government for insisting upon an inquiry. The late Government first of all appointed a Cabinet Committee to investigate. Then they appointed a Royal Commission with a Minister as chairman. I question whether that was a proper appointment.
– It was indecent.
– When may we expect a report from the Royal Commission? A fair amount of money has been spent, considerable time has elapsed, and we ought to have had a progress report before the Estimates were considered by Parliament.
– That was too much to ask.
– Parliament should have had some idea of where leakages had occurred.
– If it has taken seven or eight years to spoil the Department, does the honorable senator expect the Commission to put it right in as many months?
– I do not expect the Commission to put it right. I simply ask that if they have discovered any defects, they should give us information regarding them.
– They have no mission to find information.
– Then why was the country put to the expense of their appointment ? If they have no mission to discover and rectify the evils affecting the Department, the whole thing is a fraud. I understood that they were appointed to discover the causes of dissatisfaction and disorganization in the Department, and recommend to Parliament some method of curing them. Up to the present, however, we know nothing except what we have gathered from short reports in the newspapers. I hope that even before the session closes, the Commission will give us some information. If they are to sit for the number of years that it has taken previous Ministers to disorganize the Department, some of us may be dead before their final report is presented. Apparently, the whole affair is a farce, and we shall find that large sums of money have been expended without the people receiving any commensurate benefit.
– The honorable senator will acknowledge that the Commission have made some exposures.
Senator SAYERS. They have simply exposed what we knew before - that the system was rotten from beginning to end - although they may have shown that it was a little more rotten than we thought. It has been repeatedly stated in this Chamber, that we are to have a High Commissioner to represent Australia in London. It was first proposed to rent an expensive piece of land, and erect palatial offices on it. That scheme failed, and a second project, submitted by the late Government, for the purchase of another property for £198,000, was, I am glad to say, also vetoed by Parliament. We have in London at present a gentleman who appears on the Estimates in quite a different capacity. His duties in Melbourne are being performed by Mr. Pethebridge, but he is drawing his salary in London for the work that he should be doing here, and, so far as I know, we get very little result for it. I suppose he is also receiving extras. It is difficult to ascertain from the Estimates exactly what gentlemen, who travel about like he does, receive in the way of emoluments.
– Captain Collins is not travelling.
– A certain amount appears for travelling expenses.
– That is for the gentleman who was sent over after him. Captain Collins is doing very good work.
– Perhaps if the honorable senator were not a Minister he would think differently. It has often been noted that when ordinary members of Parliament take office, their opinions change considerably. That may be because they obtain information in their offices which they did not get as private members, and for that reason the changes that take place in their views may be justified. I hope the Minister, when he speaks in reply, will inform the Senate whether the Government intend to cause a census to be taken within the next twelve months. I understand that Queensland is entitled to another member in the House of Representatives. If so, we should have that extra representative. Of course, if we are not entitled to it, we shall not ask for it. We simply expect fair play. I hope the Minister will be able to give us a satisfactory assurance on that subject.
– Australia decided a few months ago, through its national Parliament, to adopt a policy of national defence, both military and naval. The military side of that policy has so far not been questioned by the Imperial authorities, but I regret to say that they have taken serious exception to the naval side of it. I have here copies of the parliamentary paper containing the correspondence between the recent Federal Governmeint and the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the subject. I intend to quote passages to show the attitude that the Imperial Government is taking up with regard to the naval defence of Australia. Imperial Ministers are on the horns of a dilemma. The
British people demand the maintenance of the two-power standard in the Navy, and are anxious to crush the ambitions of Germany, a country which I believe desires to wrest from Great Britain the supremacy of the seas. The British Government have to face a division among their own supporters, a number of whom are opposed to the expansion of Great Britain’s naval policy, whilst others desire to maintain the twopower standard. It is evident from a perusal of these despatches that the British Government, faced with that dilemma, desire also to crush the ambition of the Australian people and other portions of the selfgoverning Dominions to defend themselves. The people of Australia have determined to embark upon a system of national defence, and the Imperial Government are attempting to block the accomplishment of their wishes. It is evident that there is a desire in Imperial circles to continue the present subsidy from Australia for the maintenance of a fleet to guard Australian shores.
– Does the honorable senator think that they value the pittance that we pay them?
– No; I think they place as much value on it as on our preferential trade proposals. They have closed the door to both. To ask Australia to continue that subsidy, in view of the fact that the Australian people, through their representatives, have decided to discontinue it, is an insult to Australia. We recognise that Great Britain cannot effectively protect the Commonwealth from any roving fleet that may determine to attack it.
– If Great Britain cannot do so, how can Australia do it ?
– Australia can do it by relying on herself and her people.
– Who will pay for it?
– The Australian people. The Government who recently went out of office committed themselves to a policy of Australian defence.
– That does not bind the present Government, r,r the party supporting them.
– I did not say that it did. That policy was submitted to another place, but since then the Imperial authorities have attempted to veto the expressed will of the Australian people. In a parliamentary paper containing cor-‘ respondence with reference to the naval defence of Australia, between the Commonwealth Government and the Admiralty, the late Prime Minister, in a despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth is now sitting, and members anticipate that before they rise the proposals of the Government in regard to naval defence, or at least a complete outline of them, will be submitted for their consideration. The matter is therefore urgent, and it was hoped that some general indication of approval by the Admiralty of the principles of the proposal forwarded, perhaps coupled with criticisms of some portion of it, might have been given by cable. The suggestions were made in the same spirit as that which inspired the despatch of August, 1905, and were intended as a groundwork which might become the basis of a formal proposal to be conveyed by despatch
I have here another parliamentary paper containing further correspondence on the same subject, and there we find the following cablegram - dated 13th December, 1907 - to the Prime Minister -
With reference to your telegram of 9th December, Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty desire to say that proposals for amendment of existing agreement do not meet the case. If agreement is cancelled any further arrangements must be subject of future negotiations after proposed scheme has been fully elaborated. There was not provision in the scheme indicated by Mr. Deakin when in England for retaining permanently or loaning indefinitely cruisers for Australian local service. Allusion to retention of particular ships includes all four cruisers now asked for. Ministers’” proposals for reasons before stated cannot be accepted. In the absence of details increase of expenditure cannot be estimated, but in any new arrangements there must be general understanding that cost entailed by present agreement is not to be exceeded. Control by Commander-in-Chief of Australian flotilla in time of war considered indispensable on account of probable international difficulties, as well as for strategic reasons generally. Such control would not, however, necessarily mean removal of flotilla from Australian waters.
This goes to prove the point I am leading up to, namely, that while the Imperial authorities offer no opposition to this Parliament, or to the Australian people, establishing and defraying the cost of a local navy, they still claim control of that navy.
– That is, if the subsidy is continued.
– Even without the subsidy ; and one or two other paragraphs from this parliamentary paper will show that I am correct. In a despatch from the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, we find the following -
If the Commonwealth Government decides that it is desirable to cancel the existing Agreement and substitute another arrangement, their Lordships are ready, to the best of their ability, to advise and assist in carrying out, either the scheme sketched by Mr. Deakin while he was in England, or an approved modified scheme for local defence which may appear to be preferable, provided that such a scheme does not involve a definite pledge to maintain particular vessels permanently in Australian waters.
Further on we read -
If the people of Australia, through their representatives, determine to establish a system of Australian defence, military and naval, this Parliament must have full control, and not be dominated by the Imperial authorities.
– Certainly, always supposing that we get no assistance from Home.
– Just one more paragraph -
For the carrying out of the new arrangement my Lords did not contemplate the passing of any Act of Parliament, either here or in the Colonies, in order to give effect to the understanding that may be arrived at with regard to the future relations between the Australian local force and the Royal Navy. The terms would be elastic and capable of adjustment from time to time by intercommunication between the two Governments.
That paragraph, to my mind, reaches the climax of Imperial supremacy as against Australian control. We are, practically, asked not even to pass an Act of Parliament to regulate our own Defence Forces, but to go on as we have been going, and not attempt to assert our spirit of selfreliance.
– Nonsense !
– I expected that interjection ; but if honorable senators opposite can place any other construction on that paragraph, they are welcome to do so.
– In time of war there must be one Admiral for the entire Fleet.
– This despatch refers, not only to times of war, but to times of peace; and a close perusal of the despatches will prove that the Imperial authorities claim absolute control of any local naval force in Australia in peace and war.
-Colonel Cameron. - In war, naturally; but I do not think it means in time of peace.
– I do not know whether the late Government were disposed to agree to the demand of the Imperial authority. I should like to know whether they were prepared to bow to the mandate from Downingstreet, and, further, whether the present Government are, as I hope they are,, not inclined to swallow this despatch. I hope that the present Government will be prepared to maintain the policy of defence,, military and naval - with, perhaps, some differences in minor details - which has been suggested in this Parliament and on many platforms throughout the country. I see that in these Estimates there is a vote of £20,000 for advertising the resources of Australia ; and it is evident that, if we so advertise, we are inviting people to this country. I admit that there is any amount of room for population, but my desire is to have a judicious scheme of immigration. It would be wise before we invite people to come to our shores, to have land available on which they may settle. At the present time, I venture to say that there is not land available for immigrants from the Home country.
– A nice thing to publish abroad !
– I have made the statement before, and I make it again.
– The Western Australian Government offer free grants of land?
– When I speak of land I mean land for . settlement ; and much of that land is held up in my own State, as well as in New South Wales, by those who own millions of acres which they do not use.
– Then the Western Australian Government in offering free grants of 160 acres commit a fraud?
-I cannot help what the Government of my State or any other State offer. I contend that, along with an immigration policy, there must be a tax on the unimproved values of land. If the Federal Government are prepared to spend money in advertising the resources of Australia, and thus helping the various States to secure desirable immigrants, it will be imperative for the Government tohave a say in the selection of those immigrants. We are informed by the press, and I think we have seen for ourselves, that: people come to these shores who are not at all desirable. In Fremantle, a few months ago, a steamer arrived with about 150 or 160 immigrants, bound, I think, for Queensland ; and in the few moments they had to spare, they painted the town red. While the Federal Government are spending money in this way, the States refuse to give us any say in the choice of immigrants ; and I hope that the Minister of Defence, in replying, will assure us that attention will be paid to the matters I have referred to.
– I should not have spoken but for the extraordinary statements made by Senator Needham, which, injurious as they are likely to be to the Commonwealth, call for refutation. When we remember the vast area and possibilities of this country, and see other countries, far less advantageously circumstanced, being developed by means of immigration, it makes one wonder where he “has obtained the knowledge which he has seen fit to impart to the Senate. I hold in my hand a statement which shows an extraordinary increase in immigration in, and also the consequential development which is accruing to, the southern States of South America, Canada, the United States, and Australia. To Canada the immigration was 60,959 m 1901, 84,638 in 1902, 170,176 in 1903, 180,705 in 1904, 211,625 in 1.905, 275,860 in 1906, and 372,817 in 1907.
– How many went back ?
– This statement does not show the emigration from Canada.
– The boats are just as fully loaded when going back as when arriving.
– That is absolutely untrue. In the early years of the period which these figures cover, a large proportion of the immigrants to Canada drifted to the United States, but during the last two years that has not been the case. In the case of the Argentine in 1901, the immigration was 125,951, and the emigration 80,251, leaving a net gain of 45,700; in 1902 the immigration was 96,080, and the emigration 79,427, leaving a net gain of 16,653 ; in 1903 the immigration was 112,671, and the emigration 74.776, leaving a net gain of 37,895 ; in igo4 the immigration was i6r,o78, and the emigration 66,597, leaving a net gain of 94,481 ; in rp05 the immigration was 221,223, while in 1906 it was 252,536. The number of emigrants for 1905 and 1906 is not stated in the return, because no later information was available when it was compiled.
– Why is the honorable senator quoting these figures?
– I want the figures to appear in Hansard in contradiction of Senator Needham ‘s statement that immigrants, if they came to Australia, would not be able to obtain a living. That is the most stinking- fish doctrine 1 ever heard promulgated in regard to Australia. In the case of the United States, in 1901 the immigration was 675,025, and the emigration 306,724, leaving a net gain of 368,301 ; in ‘1902 the immigration was 820,893, and the emigration 326,760, leaving a net gain of 494,133; in 1903 the immigration was 1,025,834, and the emigration 375,261, leaving a net gain of 650,573; m I9°4 tlie immigration was 988,688, and the emigration 508,204, leaving a net gain of 480,484 ; in 1905 the immigration was 1,234,615, and the emigration 536,151, leaving a net gain of 698,464 ; in 1906 the immigration was 1,356,273, and the emigration 496,737, leaving a net gain of 859,536; and in 1907 the immigration was. 1,630,266, and the emigration 569,882, leaving a net gain of 1,060,384. In the case of Australia the net gain to the population was 4,332 in 1901, 2,095 m 1902, 6,613 in 1905, and 3,494 in 1906 ; and the net loss to the population was 7,260 in 1903 and 3,120 in 1904. So that, in the period from 1 901 to 1906, the total net gain to the population was 12,514. I appeal to every honorable senator whether Australia, with its vast area and great possibilities, is so populated that it can be said that in every walk of life there is sufficient population ?
– Where is the land for immigrants ?
– I do not care what the land policy is. You may have one which will break up large estates, and perhaps bring about an addition to the population. It mav be taken without question that the United States, Argentine, and Canada were most prosperous when they had the greatest number of immigrants and the greatest number of unemployed. It was stated officially in the United States that every able-bodied immigrant, whether employed or not, was worth £80 to it. Does any one mean to tell me that our population will make Australia a great nation unless we-
– How much is an Unemployed man worth to himself?
– He is always a consumer to a certain extent.
– He is worth a lot to the other fellow, I know.
– If my honorable friend asks how much a man who is going to be a loafer upon the people is worth, my reply is that the man had better be sent out of the country. In a large country like Australia, with its many possibilities, it is due to nothing but maladministration if we are unable to provide a reasonable livelihood for immigrants exceeding in number by thousands, those whom we are already receiving. It was only the other day that an honorable senator prophesied that within a few years our Federal Capital would need a water supply sufficient to accommodate 350,000 persons. When I said, “ Suppose that the population is 100,000 “ Senator Lynch said “ No, it will be 250,000.”
– In time it will be.
– Although the population of Australia is only increasing at the rate of about 6,000 a year, yet there is a cry of over-immigration. Immigrants went to the United States by thousands and found employment by reason of the natural facilities offered to them by the Government. The Appropriation Bill contains an item of £20,000 for advertising Australia. Last year a similar vote was passed, but only £4,000 was spent. I desire to know whether the Government have any comprehensive scheme whereby persons may be educated as to the possibilities of earning a live:lihood if they emigrate to Australia? It has been brought under our notice that a gentleman has offered to print and distribute 50,000 pamphlets concerning Australia throughout the country districts of the United Kingdom, and to deliver lectures concerning our resources. Possessing some knowledge of advertising, I think that it is rather beneath the dignity of the Government of Australia to accept such an offer.
– It is a little farfetched.
– Yes. If the Government,, through their representative in London, engaged the services of an expert advertising agent with nine or ten home vans, and a good lecturer, and also a good distributing agent well provided with fine views of Australia, and its substantial attractions, I believe that, the money would be well spent. I admit that sometimes immigrants experience a great deal of difficulty in obtaining land on their arrival. If they would take a lesson from those who have had a large, practical education in Canada, the United States and Argentine, they would gain a little valuable knowledge. An immigrant who arrives in Canada with any money has no difficulty in ascertaining the location of land which would suit his circumstances and conditions, and how to reach it. The Canadian. Government have also a perfect system for affording every facility to immigrants to go on the land.
–They have land, but wa have not.
– In Canada, years ;igo, people said ‘” There is no land available. We have far more workers than are wanted. We have too many unemployed painters and plumbers.” The same old doleful story was told in Canada and the United States. But fortunately, each country had at the head of its affairs practical hardheaded men who knew the value of increased immigration and profited accordingly. I desire now to say a few words on the subject of defence. I have never heard in the Senate a more maudlin, weak statement regarding our defence policy than that which was made this afternoon by Senator Needham, who, I believe, was perfectly sincere and honest.
– It is just as well for the honorable senator that Senator Needham has left the chamber.
– I should be very pleased if the honorable senator had remained. He took up the position that we can afford to build our own warships, and to establish an army sufficient for our defence. Does the honorable senator realize what the cost of defending our enormous coast line would be, or what it would cost to maintain only one or two menofwar, which would be of very little use in the defence of our coast line ? The honorable senator’s contention is absolutely absurd. It is equally absurd for any one to assume that for many years to come we shall be in a position to cut the silken cord which attaches Australia to the Mother Country, and to do without the assistance of the Mother Country in our defence. With our modern and progressive ideas, we may feel that the Old Country lags behind in many matters, but we surely have sufficient common sense to recognise that for many years to come the enormous wealth we, in Australia, gather together from fruitful toil, can only be assured to us by the naval and military strength of the Mother Country. Only a year or two ago, a new power arose in the Pacific, and in an extraordinary manner, a people established themselves as a naval and military nation. In Europe, at the present time, we find a condition of seething discontent amongst populations that we hoped were in accord. Viewing those conditions, it is impossible not to realize that at any moment they may lead to an outbreak of war. At such a time we should do our best to put our house in order. We should encourage rifle shooting, and the volunteer spirit, in Australia, and should establish our Naval and Military Forces on the best possible’ footing.
– Will the honorable senator repeat the references which he made to Senator Needham a few moments ago?
– I shall leave that to Senator de Largie, who is a past master in the art of repeating himself.
– The honorable senator was very brave during my momentary absence from the chamber.
– It is very strange that when I got up to speak, the honorable senator should leave the chamber, and on returning should say that I have been talking of him in his absence, and insist that I should repeat my statement. That is about the coolest thing I ever listened to. Perhaps the honorable senator will oblige me by telling me when I am to speak, and what I am to say. I trust that I did not say one word that could be regarded as personally offensive to the honorable senator.
– I should not withdraw anything I said either if I were the honorable senator.
– I am not going to do so. I admitted that I believed Senator Needham was perfectly sincere.
– Senator Needham says that the honorable member will not repeat in his presence what he said when he was out of the chamber.
– I may be weak in some respects, but I have never heard any one attribute to me anything but good fighting qualities. No one has ever said that I am not prepared to say to a man’s face what I would say behind his back. I said nothing which Senator Needham could regard as offensive, or of which he would not approve.
– The honorable senator said that Senator Needham was maudlin and weak-kneed.
– I admit that I said the honorable senator was weak-kneed. But I was speaking in a political, and in no other sense. I ask honorable senators to seriously consider the question of the defence of Australia. We may not be able for years to come to build or maintain a navy of our own, or to establish a sufficient military force, but it is our duty to do what we can in that direction.
– To trust to Britain ?
– We should of course trust to Providence; but Providence takes care of those who look after themselves. I am reminded of what Norman McLeod once said to a missionary. He was crossing one of the Scotch lakes when a hurricane suddenly arose and there was danger that the boat would be upset. The missionary said “ Let us pray ,” and Norman McLeod answered, “ Tak an oar man ; tak an oar man ; God helps those that help themselves.” We should apply the principle of self help in the development of our defence policy. It is only a foolish man who thinks that with our limited population we. are in a position to adequately defend our enormous coast-line. We must for many years to come look for assistance to the Mother Country ; but we must at thesame time do what we can for ourselves.. In this connexion I favour the establishment of naval dockyards for the repairing of large warships. I hope that honorable senators generally will recognise that in the present condition of affairs it behoves us to put our house in order, having due regard to the expenditure we can afford.
– I have a few words to say before the motion is passed. I agree with what Senator Millen said when he complained of the late period of the session at which the Senate is given an opportunity to discuss the Estimates. The honorable senator seemed to have some idea that he had discovered a remedy for what is undoubtedly a serious evil. If the Senate is not to suffer as a representative Chamber it must bestir itself and insist upon getting, the Estimates from another place at a proper period of the session, or if it does not, it should conduct its examination of them as exhaustively as it would if they had reached this Chamber at an earlier period. I understand that the Government are exceedingly anxious that the Estimates should be passed by this Chamber to-night. Whilst I am willing to afford the Government every opportunity to get their business through as rapidly as possible, I think it is trespassing too seriously upon the position of the Senate as a representative Chamber to submit such a request. It means, if it means anything, that the Senate does not matter; that another place having passed the Estimates, there remains nothing for the Senate to do but to say “ditto;” to be a mere echo of the other Chamber. I object to that. I should object to such a suggestion from any Government, and I object to it more strongly coming from a Labour Government. If any Government ought to be willing to afford the fullest opportunity to Parliament to discuss Estimates or any other matter, it is a. Labour Government.
– Hear, hear !
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council interjects in his usual derisive manner. I suppose the honorable senator is not troubled now about anything, except getting into recess. I have a responsibility to the people who elected me; they sent me here to take some little interest in the affairs of the Commonwealth. If it came to their ears that I was privy to the passing of Estimates involving the expenditure of £6,000,000 in a few hours, and without consideration, I should have to answer to them for it.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– While the Government may desire to get the Bill passed as quickly as possible, it is for honorable senators to say whether it shall be passed without due discussion. Personally, I shall give each item, upon which I have anything to say, as much attention as if we were not so near to Christmas as we are.
– Has the honorable senator been asked to refrain from speaking?
– The word has been passed round that Ministers desire to get the Bill through to-night.
– That is so. We should have been glad to get it through before the dinner adjournment. But we have no wish to prevent honorable senators from speaking.
– I understand that the Government wishes us to sit until the Bill has been dealt with.
– Who says so?
– The statement was made to me informally. If honorable senators choose to accept the position which the other Chamber is accustomed to assign to them, the people of the Commonwealth will presently discover that the Senate is an excrescence on the body politic, and that the sooner it is rubbed off the better. Therefore, apart from their duty to their constituents, they should be careful to see that their rights and privileges are maintained, so that they may live long in the political world. I think that some other method of presenting the public accounts should be adopted. The receipts and expenditure of that great trading concern, the Department of the PostmasterGeneral, should be kept separate from the general revenue and expenditure of the Commonwealth. I suggest this improved arrangement of the Estimates for the consideration of Ministers when the next set comes to be framed. We are asked to authorize expenditure, totalling over £6,000,000. When expenditure is proposed it is our duty to ascertain if our income will be sufficient to cover it. Apparently neither this nor the previous Administration has given that question consideration. It is estimated that the_ Customs receipts of the current year will be £ir, 100,000, of which the Commonwealth’s share will be £2,750.000. That is practically our whole income, apart from the receipts from the Department of the Postmaster-General, which I propose to keep separate. The expenditure which we are asked to authorize amounts to £3,200,000, leaving a deficit of £450,000. There is a special appropriation of £410,000 for old-age pensions, but, unless an extraordinary expansion of revenue takes place during the next six months, there will not be a farthing to place to the credit of this trust account. I wish to know if the Government has any proposal for providing against this contingency, or whether, like its predecessor, it trusts in Providence, hoping that something will happen to enable it to meet its liabilities.
– Is it not a little early to ask the Labour Administration to shape a policy? The honorable senator has been saving that throughout the session.
– My present concern is this probable deficit. I do not know whether the honorable senator or Senator Sir Robert Best .have given the matter consideration, but I think that I am justified in assuming that, if any payments have to be held back, it will be those to the oldage pensions account-
– Our proposals for expenditure include ^410,000 for that account, and this month more than the average amount clue has been paid to its credit.
– I am aware that the proposals of expenditure include the payments to the old-age pensions account. My point is that if the Estimates are correct, there will not be a farthing in the Treasury to pay to that account.^
– What about the money already paid to it?
– Last year £191,000 was placed to the credit of this fund.
– And £40,000 a month has been placed to its credit since, the payment last month being £50,000.
– The honorable senator has not accounted for the surplus from the Department of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I shall deal with that later. If payments are being made to the old-age pensions fund, some other Department must be suffering, or the Estimates of income and expenditure must be wide of the truth. These facts emphasize my contention that the Senate, if it is to take an intelligent part in discussing the financial affairs of the Federation, should have more time for the work than has hitherto been allowed by the Government of the day. I shall be more than pleased to find, at the end of the financial year, that things have turned out better than I anticipated ; but should they do so, it will prove, not that my assumptions were wrong, but that the Government mis-stated the financial position.
– It is only Estimates with which we are dealing.
– They must be taken as somewhere near the mark. I find that the estimate of the receipts of the Department of the Postmaster-General is £3,483,000, and of the expenditure £.3.312>°57. leaving a surplus of £171,000. Apparently the honorable member thinks that that sum should be used to decrease the deficit of which I have spoken. That may be the method which the last Government would have pursued.
If so, it stands condemned for desiring to make up a deficiency by starving the most important Department of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– But that expenditure upon the Post Office covers an outlay upon new works.
– Yes, an outlay of £360,141. It is quite proper that year by year the new works required to carry on. the postal business of the Commonwealth should be constructed out of revenue.
– Out of postal revenue ?
– I did not say that. Possibly I have my own ideas in regard to how this Department should be financed. I do not agree with the idea that the Post and Telegraph Department should be, so to speak, a financially solvent Department. If that idea enters into our conception of its management, it seems to me that the outlying portions of the Commonwealth will not receive anything like the fair play to which they are entitled. My own idea is that postal and telegraphic facilities should be granted to all settlers of the Commonwealth upon terms as favorable as possible. If a deficiency occurs as the result of the adoption of this policy - if our expenditure exceeds our income - the general body of taxpayers should be called upon to make good that deficiency. But it is a pernicious proposal, more especially in a new and partially developed country like Australia, that the income from the Post and Telegraph Department should be sufficient to meet its expenditure. If that principle were acted upon, it would simply mean that people who live in our cities and in the more closely settled portions of the Commonwealth would have ample postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities, whilst the pioneers who go out into the wilderness would be penalized.
– Should the principle which the honorable senator advocates also be applied to railway communication ?
-At the present time the Commonwealth has nothing to do with railways. When it has, I shall probably air my ideas upon that subject just as I am doing now on this matter. In reference to the surplus of £171,000 which is anticipated, I hope that the present Government will not follow the example set by the late Administration. If Senator Best had remained in office during the current financial year, that £171,000, instead of being utilized to improve our postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, would have been squandered in other directions.
– The honorable senator would not say that it had been squandered if it were paid into the trust fund established in connexion with old-age pensions.
– I say that the first duty of the Government is to maintain the services to which I have referred at the highest possible point of perfection. That is a standard beneath which no Government should permit themselves to fall. But, instead of doing that, successive Governments have spent the surpluses derived from the postal and telegraphic services in other directions, and have allowed those very services to fall into a state of semi-ruin. The late Administration found themselves under the necessity of appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the affairs of the Postal Department. Now, everybody knew what the Post Office was suffering from. It was hunger - starvation. It was not being fed properly.
– The Committee appointed by the Deakin Cabinet stated what they intended doing.
– But why did they not act sooner?
– Because they had not time.
-We all know what is the matter with the Post Office. What would be the use of starving a man and then taking him to a doctor and requesting the latter to give him something other than beef steak? What would be the use of giving him something to eat which would not put blood into his veins, flesh upon his bones, and strength into his
I arms? That is all that the Postal Department required. Had that course been 1 adopted, all this humbug of an expensive and long-drawn-out Commission would have been avoided. But the Government were so anxious to return to the States money to squander that they did not turn their attention to the needs of the Department.
– The Post Office would not have been starved had the Government retained a portion of the
I £6,000,000 in excess of three- fourths of 1 the Customs and Excise revenue which has been returned to the States during the past six years.
– Exactly ; and they would have been playing a patriotic part in .so doing. The first duty of the Commonwealth is to1 look after its own Departments. I lay that principle down as one which every Government should follow, and the Ministry which neglects to do so ought to be fired out of office with very little warning.
– If any.
– Well, as little as possible. They should be given a short shrift. This is a very serious matter, involving as it does the postal and telegraphic communication of a huge continent. Large numbers of our people are now pushing their way back from their fellows. They are separating themselves from the comforts of civilization in the hope of improving their positions in life. Every man who goes out into the back country, into the undeveloped portions of Australia, is blazing a track for those who will live here in the future. Every consideration in the way of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities should be granted to him. We know that the telephone service is in a most lamentable condition. Only the other day I went into one of the lobbies of this building for the purpose of communicating by telephone with a friend, and it took me nearly half.anhour to get connected. When I did so I was told that the person with whom I wished to speak could not hear me, although I roared as loudly as possible-
– Probably that is why the person with whom the honorable senator was speaking could not hear him.
– I tried to modulate my voice. Quite recently I had occasion to speak to the Minister of Defence upon the telephone, and his voice sounded in my ears like the whisper of a man a thousand miles away. I did hear what he said, but it was with very great difficulty. That is one instance out of many which might be cited. The telephone experts tell us that if the service is to be of any use to the public some hundreds of thousands of pounds must be expended upon it. My ambition is to extend that service to as many people in the Commonwealth as possible.
– To put it into every house ?
– If that can possibly be done. In all our large cities there are numbers of persons who get their telephones for an exceedingly low payment - a sum which is not at all equivalent to the benefits which they enjoy.
– Would the honorable; senator make the toll system general in its application ?
– I believe in the toll system. Just as a man who posts 100 letters is called upon to pay more in postage than the individual who posts only fifty letters, so the telephone subscriber who uses his instrument 1,000 times ought to pay more for it than the individual who uses it only 500 times. The telephone is a great labour-saving machine. It probably saves as much money to a number of men engaged in business in our large cities as does any other instrument of recent invention. It appears to me that that advantage leads to a reduction in the cost of carrying on business. Of course our friend the landlord, who is always on the alert to secure an advantage for himself, is not slow to perceive this. The Commonwealth is foolish if it permits that sort of thing to continue. It ought to do everything in its power to see that those who enjoy these facilities in our large cities shall pay for them. If it does not, it will be impossible for us to extend them to settlers in the bush in the way that they should be extended. The Prime Minister recently uttered one sentiment in the House of Representatives with which I cordially agree. He said that while no doubt the people who live in our cities require the telephone very badly, those who reside in the bush are still more urgently in need of it. I think that it ought to be our object to widen the area within which the telephone is used - to bring it into the homes of the out-back settlers. Let us imagine the loss of time that is incurred by a farmer in visiting the nearest town to order or obtain supplies. He probably has to harness up his horses, and it may take him hours to over the journey, whereas if he were possessed of a telephone, he would merely have to give his order and await its fulfilment in the ordinary course.
– What about his papers and letters?
– They would go through the Post Office. I am sure the honorable senator agrees with me that the telephone would be a great boon in the house of any settler. I do not say that it is possible within a reasonable time to bring about what I desire, but I do urge that we ought not to continue to give rich city firms the facilities which they enjoy at such a low rate, when by doing so we help to deprive of those facilities others who are in greater need of them. I trust that the present Government will make some attempt to put the post and telegraph service in a proper condition. There is a great deal to be done, and I believe that it can and ought to be done. It should be our ambition to have as complete and as efficient a post and telegraph service as is to be found. We ought not to rest satisfied until that is brought about. No consideration should stand in the way of its being accomplished. If we require more revenue before the end of1910, when the Braddon section of the Constitution can be reviewed, then additional taxation can be imposed. If we do not there must be some revision of our present financial arrangements ; either the States must accept less than their threefourths or the Commonwealth will be compelled to impose additional taxation. That must be plain to everybody. I should like to hear some person in authority give a forecast of what form that taxation is likely to take. The last Government would not do so; I do not know whether the present Government will, and we have not heard from the leader of the Opposition, what his party would propose.
– They are not in power.
– Before placing a party in power we want to know exactly what they are going to do.
– The honorable senator has just said that he does not know what the Government that he supports is going to do in this regard.
– I do not know that it has made any declaration ; I should be glad if it had. I am merely pointing out that the Opposition is in exactly the same position.
– Not at all;, they are not in power.
– That is an exploded idea. The honorable senator takes up the position of the politician of 100 years ago, who continually raved against the Government for doing certain things, and when asked what he would propose, said, “ Place me in power and I will tell you.”
– That is a most stupid stand to take up. Would the honorable member apply the same principle to his own business ?
– That is a different thing. Business is different from politics.
– Politics is business. The honorable senator’s interjection proves to me that he knows nothing of politics. His vision does not extend beyond the limits of the four walls of a shop.
– Does one business man tell another what he is going to do?
– No ; but if the honorable senatorwere approached by some person who said, ‘ ‘ I can do certain work very much better than can the man you are at present employing; take me into your service,” he would want some ocular demonstration of the man’s capacity before he would employ him.
– The two cases are not parallel.
– I will not engage in a dialogue with the honorable senator ; I merely point out to him that he asks us to adopt a principle that he would condemn as foolish in his own business. If any party objects to what the present or any Government is doing, and wishes to be put in power, it is the duty of that party to proclaim its policy, so that the people may be able to judge whether it is better or worse than the policy of the party that it seeks to displace. That is the principle that I lay down, and which the Labour Party has always adopted. We make no secret of our policy. We have nothing up our sleeves. Politically speaking, we wear neither overcoats nor coats. Everything that we propose to do is fair, square, and above board.
– And placarded to the world.
– That is so. Can Senator Gray say as much of his party ? Would it be possible for any one to say what the policy of the Opposition would be if they got into power?
– What is the policy of the present Government ?
– The policy of the Labour platform.
– Its policy is to remain in office.
– A Government that intends to do anything can accomplish what it proposes only by remaining in power. When it leaves the Treasury bench it is no longer a Government, and cannot do anything.
– The Government say that they will give us their policy next year.
– The present year is nearly at an end, and I am sure that the honorable senator, who has waited so long for the New Jerusalem, can wait a little longer. In any case, the policy of , the Labour Party is published for my honorable friend to read and digest.
– The Government say that they have not yet formulated a policy.
– Probably they have not formulated a policy for next month or next year, and I am exceedingly anxious to know what they intend to do in the event of the revenue being insufficient to meet the expenditure. The leader of the Opposition referred to the offer of Mr. Brennan to assign his Australian rights in the mono-rail to the Commonwealth Government for a certain sum and a percentage.
– I know nothing about the percentage.
– A percentage was named. The Government ought to close at once with the offer.
– May I point out that my objection was not to the deal, but to the Government acting without first consulting Parliament.
– I certainly should like the Government to consult Parliament in a matter of this kind; but the offer might be made when Parliament was in recess, and it is such a good and promising one - it is one of such large possibilities - that, although I am not of a very speculative turn of mind, I should be willing to risk£6,000 upon it.
– Not if it were the honorable senator’s own money.
– I am not so sure about that. If the invention proves successful, it will be worth a great deal more than£6,000.
– If it were such a remarkably good thing, does not the honorable senator think that Mr. Brennan would have no difficulty in obtaining all the money he requires to continue his experiments ?
– We know that inventors of most excellent things have on many occasions had the greatest difficulty in disposing of their inventions. They have had to hawk them up and down the highways of the world.
– But the honorable senator would buy this invention without knowing anything more of it than is published in the newspapers.
– I have read articles upon it, and whilst I do not profess to be an expert, and do not suggest to the Government that they should buy without inquiry, it appears to me that there is a prima facie case for accepting Mr. Brennan’s offer.
– Would the honorable senator sell an invention for less than it was worth?
– Probably my honorable friend is a member of a syndicate that wishes to buy out Mr. Brennan. We have heard of such inventions being bought out by syndicates and suppressed. That is what the Government of a country like Australia ought to try to guard against. Probably Australia has a keener interest in an invention of this character than has any other country. And why? Because for her development she must depend entirely upon a net-work of railways. Australia is not like the United States of America, Canada, or even the Argentine. She has not huge waterways along which a great portion of her commerce can be conducted. This is an almost waterless continent, and if the monorail proves to be a success, it will be one of the finest things ever discovered for Australia. If it fails - what about £6,000? Senator Gray himself, much less the Commonwealth of Australia, could afford to lose that. Senator Chataway seemed to be very anxious this afternoon about the sugar industry. I am also anxious about it, believing that it is worth fostering, encouraging, protecting, and keeping. In this connexion I would give a little advice to Senator Chataway and Senator Sayers, who are my colleagues from Queensland. If they desire the protection for the sugar industry to be continued - and I suppose they do - they must be prepared to give protection to other industries in other States.
– What about the bounty which we gave to the iron industry ?
– That is one industry which the honorable senator voted to protect. When the Tariff was under consideration, on almost every occasion he voted religiously with the free-traders. If we protect the sugar industry of Queensland because it is situated in our own State, and probably because the people engaged in it have votes, how can we oppose protection to almost every industry in the other States ?
– Only extreme protection.
– If the Queensland senators, want protection for the industry with which their people are so intimately associated, they ought to be prepared to extend the same principle to other portions of Australia.
– That would be giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
- Senator Chataway seems to be very doubtful as to the treatment which the sugar industry is likely to receive in the future, and as to its success. He was fully answered by Senator Givens. That being the case, it is not necessary that: I should go into the matter at length. Senator Chataway urged that a Committee should be appointed to find out the truth about the industry. It has been asserted by employers that there is not sufficient labour. It has been said by the workpeople that there is not a sufficient number of employers, and that wages are. too. low. Again, the employers say that wages are too high. I have been through one of the sugar districts recently, and I found in the Bundaberg district that almost every grower in the industry was making money. I found that the value of land had increased very largely since Federation.
– It has increased tremendous I v in some cases.
– Within a few miles of Bundaberg land which for any other purpose would not have brought more than £z or £a Per acre was being sold at from £”s° to £40 an acre. That was not an evidence of want of prosperity and progress in the sugar industry. But I also found that while the employers were making large profits, the workpeople complained of being inadequately paid. Of course, it is natural for a man to expect to get the most he can, whether he be a capitalist or a labourer. I did not find that there was any scarcity of labour in and around Bundaberg. Indeed, there were hundreds of men looking for employment. Some could not get work : many got it ; some could not keep it when they got it. But upon the whole a man who was prepared to pay a decent wage could find plenty of workmen. The difficulty with regard to the Mackay district was that while there were plenty of men available for the cutting season, labour was scarce during the off season. The reason is obvious.
– How long does the cutting season last?
– About five or six months. The wages were so low during the off season that large numbers of men who were engaged for the cutting would not stay at the money. The wages offered for very long hours were from £1 to 22s. 6d. per week. In many portions of Queensland agricultural labourers are paid from 15s. to £1 per week. The work of cultivating cane is more skilled, and in many respects harder work, than is ordinary agricultural labour. Therefore those engaged in the sugar industry ought to be paid at a higher rate. I found, likewise, that the farmers complained of the millers - those who buy the cane and make it into sugar, who, it was said, were getting more than their fair share of the profits. I am afraid that in many cases there is good ground for that complaint. But that has been partially removed by the Queensland Government advancing large sums of money for the establishment of cooperative sugar mills.
– The operations of the co-operative mills cover only a portion of the sugar area.
– Their operations are restricted, in many instances, to a very small area. I wish to bring under the notice of those who think that the present bounty system is a serious drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth, the enormous profits made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in whose hands the refining: and distribution of the sugar produced in Australia lies. That company has practically a monopoly of the industry within Australian territory. During the last year it divided in dividends and bonuses about . £350,000. The company had built up an inner secret reserve fund which was distributed in the form of additional shares during the last twelve months. Since Federation, the company has watered its stock three times, and has distributed dividends of from 10 to 15 per cent, every six months. The amount of £350,000 distributed during the past year is equivalent to £2 per ton on the sugar manufactured in the Commonwealth. This company is therefore making a huge profit out of the industry.
– Out of a gigantic business.
– Does the honorable senator know that the company has three mills in Fiji upon which it makes a profit ?
– I know that; but I know, in addition, that the company is making a huge profit out of the sugar industry in Queensland. It has organized its business in a most excellent way. No one denies that.
– Better than the Commonwealth has organized its business.
– I am not so sure that the company has organized better than the Commonwealth could, but it has done its work better than the Commonwealth has so far succeeded in managing public affairs. But the company has been in existence a long time, whereas the Commonwealth is comparatively new.
– The Commonwealth is not permitted to employ black labour.
– The Commonwealth would not be permitted to resort to the keen business methods adopted by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I have no word to say against the company. It is out for profit. It is making a profit ; and it will make more profit if it can. If the members of this Parliament desire the sugar industry to continue, and to prosper, something must be done to relieve the people of the huge impost of £2 per ton which now passes into the coffers of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. An impost of £2 per ton is equivalent to about 4s. per ton of cane - almost equal to the bounty paid by the Commonwealth to the growers of cane by white labour.
– The company is making more than that out of the refining business.
– I wish to keep within the mark, and not to exaggerate. Some time ago, Senator Givens submitted a motion in the Senate affirming the desirableness of nationalizing the sugar industry. If that plan were carried out. the Senate will see how much easier it would be for the people of the Commonwealth to maintain the industry.
– Where would the honorable senator get the money from to buy out the company?
– Could not the Commonwealth borrow £2,000,000 or £3,000,000? Surely Senator St. Ledger does not run away with the idea that the resources of the Commonwealth are so limited. I hope that he does not think that I advocate confiscation. I do nothing of the kind.
– Does the honorable senator advocate borrowing?
– It depends altogether upon the purposes for which the money is borrowed. I do not believe in borrowing money to build a wooden postoffice.
– Nor for the purposes of the Federal Capital.
– When we arrive at that fence, I shall be prepared, if I am here, to try to jump it. But if we started upon a scheme for nationalizing the sugar industry, I should be prepared to borrow for the purpose, because I believe that it would pay the people of the Commonwealth to buy out the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and to take the business of refining and distributing into its own hands.
– Does the honorable senator know what it would cost to buy out the company?
– It would cost the Commonwealth a great deal more to keep the industry going on the present basis.
– The company is costing the people of the Commonwealth about ?250,006 a year now.
– Every cent. of that.
– Capitalized at 3 per cent., the sum which we are paying would be between ?8,000,000 and ?9,000,000. I do not believe that the company would be so rapacious as to ask ?8,000,000 or ?9,000,000 for the business. I do not believe for a moment that it would. The declared capital of the company is, I think, about ?3,000,000.
– The present market value of the shares at ?42 per share is
– The honorable senator has given the strongest possible reason -why the monopoly should be nationalized. The actual money put into the business is probably under?1, 000,000, and that has grown by profits made out of the public during the last few years to nearly ?6,000,000. I should not advocate paying the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ?6,000,000 for its business, but it would pay the Commonwealth handsomely to buy the company out at a reasonable figure, take over the business, and work it in the interests of the people.
The following cutting from the Age of 24th June, 1908, has been placed, in my hands -
Colonial Sugar Co. - Issue of New Shares.
The shareholders of the C. S. R. Co. are to receive a gift of?350,000 in new shares.
Senator Givens was apparently right, then
These 17,500 new shares of ?20 each will bepaid for as follows : -?165,000 absorbing the present reserve for equalization of dividend,. ?64,136 standing at the credit of guarantee and insurance fund -
– That belongs to the men in their service.
– And they presented the money to the shareholders ! That is the most immoral transaction I ever heard of.
– They are not taking the officers’ . provident fund from them.
– They are capitalizing it, and handing it over to the shareholders - ?100,000 from reserve fund, and?20,864 from’ the balance at credit of profit and loss. The existing shareholders will receive fourteen new shares for every hundred now held. The new shares will rank for dividend from October next.
There is a nice little plum of ?350,000 in profits handed over to the shareholders in one deal, in addition to the ordinary dividend. The thing is much worse from a public point of view than I had even imagined. That is the third watering of the stock since Federation, so that the sugar industry, so far as the company is concerned, seems to be in . a remarkably healthy condition. It is disconcerting to men like myself, who desire that everybody engaged in the industry shall have a fair “cut “ out of it, to use a colloquialism, to find that many of the men who do the hard work of the industry are poorly paid, inadequately fed, and badly housed.
– That is only an assertion, not an argument.
– I have been round the sugar plantations, and have seen what is going on. I have certainly observed one or two cases where the men were very ‘well treated.- In one diningroom in the Bundaberg district there was a cloth upon the table, a serviette for each man, and everything in exactly the same fashion as in an ordinary hotel. That was the mechanics and clerks* dining-room. In the labouring men’s department I found a very clean table, but -there was no cloth upon it. It was covered with a sort of oilcloth. It was well got up, and everything was clean and decent. The food was excellent. I had a good dinner there, staying there purposely to see what kind of food the men were getting. I found that everything was done in the best possible style, but that mill was an exception. It was the one white lamb of the district. It never had trouble with its employes. It was the only mill in the district that was always full, in which the men were always contented, and where there was never any labour trouble. We heard Senator Gray this evening upon *the immigration question. He is exceedingly anxious that thousands of men should be brought from Europe, an’d dumped down upon our shores without any consideration as to how or where they are to live, ‘what they are to do, or how they are to fare. The honorable senator will, of course, deny that; but facts are too strong for him. There is a land monopoly in the State which he represents, and men who want land have the greatest difficulty in getting it. There are hundreds of unemployed in that State. Victoria cannot even keep her own people, because they are being driven out by land monopoly. It is the same in South Australia, and indeed all over the Commonwealth that obstacle stands in the way of increased settlement.
– Were there unemployed in this country when the honorable senator came here?
– Undoubtedly there were, and there was also land monopoly. My first entry into political life was speaking at a meeting of unemployed. I am happy to say that that meeting was the means- of finding work for a large number of men. Senators Gray and St. Ledger assume that, although there are a certain number of people in every community who are chronically unemployed, there is always plenty of employment to be found, for the great mass of the people, who are willing and able to work. That is a fallacy. We all know that periodically in Australia great numbers of men find it next to impossible to obtain employment. While the country is sparsely populated, great masses of people live in the towns. There are nearly halfamillion people in Melbourne, over half-a- million in Sydney, 130,000 or 140,000 people in Brisbane, and about 168,000 people in Adelaide. In fact, 50 per cent, of the people of South Australia live within ten miles of the Adelaide Post Office. Why do not they go out further? Why do not they spread themselves abroad in the land, seeking the free open air of the country, where they would be able to make decent livings for themselves and their families? Because the land monopolist blocks the way, and will not permit them unless they pay tribute to him- unless they bring grist to his mill. That is the thing that is standing in the way of Australia’s advancement. I recognise that we want more population ; that we shall never be in a position to defend ourselves adequately or to develop our resources properly until we have a much greater number of people here. But until the evil of land monopoly is swept away, it would be criminal on our part to try to induce people to come here from the other end of the world. Let us prepare the way for them. Let us throw our lands open at a reasonable price. Senator Gray referred to Canada, but- the Government of Canada has the lands in its own hands. They are doubtless in many cases passing into the possession of speculators, but still there is land for almost every immigrant at a reasonable price and within reasonable distance of a railway line.
– Because the work is being done by a syndicate.
– It is because Canada never had the same conditions as we have. There was never a squatter class in Canada, and consequently there has been no land monopoly. Canada has always been a small man’s country. Senator St. Ledger says that this settlement is being carried out by private enterprise, but I -know how it is being done. A company proposes to build a railway in some district, and the Government hand over to it alternate blocks of land along both sides of the route. It is to the interests of the company to settle its own land as quickly as possible, because its dividends from the railway depend largely upon settlement along the line of route. The same thing could be done here much better than it is done there, if the proper policy were only adopted, but hitherto we have had in our State Parliaments large land-owners. who in many cases were members of the Government, or, if not, could bring pressure to bear upon Ministers. Consequently they got railways built through their own backyards, so to speak, and held on. They are still holding on in order to derive the community -created increment.
– The Legislative Councils are largely composed of landlords.
– Yes; and the result is that in many parts of Australia, where there is more good unoccupied land than almost anywhere else, we have the extraordinary condition of an absolute scarcity in the midst of plenty. Until this evil of land monopoly is swept away let us hear no more from our friends on my right. If they wish for additional population, let them give an earnest of their sincerityby supporting some proposal which will do away with the existing evil. When they do that we shall welcome them as friends of the people, but, so long as they refuse, we stigmatize them rightly when we say they are acting on behalf of capital, and in opposition, to the interests of the great mass of the people.
.- As I shall not have an opportunity of speaking in Committee, I desire to say a few words on two or three subjects which, to my mind, are of intense interest to the great majorityof the people of the Commonwealth. The present Minister of Defence has been in office only a few days and no criticism or responsibility can attach to him; but I do ask him what he thinks of his Department. Is it true, as stated, that the whole Defence system is in a chaotic state? Is it true that we have a wholly insufficient equipment ? Is the statement correct that there is not a single battery of artillery properly equipped to take the field? These are very serious questions, in view of the fact that the desire for uniformity of administration’, under one system, was the great force which drove us into Australian unity. Yet, nearly eight years afterwards, we have not accomplished that uniformity ; indeed, no one can say that there has been the slightest improvement. I desire to deal now with a subject which may appear to be of minor importance ; but I must confess that the answer which was furnished to the Minister, by his departmental experts, to my question in the Senate, simply astounded me. My question was as to what extent physical culture and gymnastic exercises form part of the compulsory training of the various branches of the Defence Forces; and the reply was to the effect that physical culture and gymnastic exercises did not form part of the compulsory training, but that every encouragement was given to members of the Forces to undertake this form of training, the necessary plant having been fitted up in the majority of the drill-halls. I cannot understand such, an answer emanating from military authorities with a grain of common sense. What is the basis of an efficient army ? Is it not physique? Every applicant for admission to the army has to pass a severe medical lest; and we know that in Switzerland and in other countries, as many as 50 or 60 per cent., or, at any rate, an enormous proportion, are rejected. Are we to understand that, when a youth of nineteen or twenty years of age has been accepted for the Australian Forces there is no compulsory training in order that his physique may be maintained ? It must be some sixty years ago since gymnastic exercises were introduced, but it is only during recent years we have heard of physical culture. According to the answer given to me, there has been some attempt to encourage a certain amount of gymnastic drill, because the gymnasiums are provided; but we must remember that physical culture requires no apparatus or machinery. We all know the various systems of Sandow and others, and that, if a person undergo physical culture for ten, or even five, minutes a day, he will, in the course of time, add some years to his life. Yet we are told that in our Defence Forces - even in the Permanent Forces - there is not the slightest effort made to keep up the physique of our soldiers.
– Is it not possible that the expression “physical culture” may not have been understood in the sense in which it is now explained?
– I cannot conceive of any misunderstanding ; the words simply mean certain exercises calculated to develop the various muscles of the body. There are numberless men and women who voluntarily undergo physical culture every morning of their lives ; and yet the importance of such exercises does not seem to have struck the Defence authorities. We know that in every part of the Commonwealth, and in Great Britain, the voluntary system of defence has, to a great extent, failed. Young Australians are so bent on sport that they will not voluntarily exercise any reasonable self-denial in order to fit themselves to be defenders of their country. It is for that reason I have always advocated universal compulsory training for our boys. For the last four or five years I have’ advocated a system of universal compulsory cadet service; for nearly two years I have had on the notice-paper a Bill to amend the Defence Act. But we know that when a measure is of such importance, nearly every member desires to address himself to its provisions, it is somewhat vain to expect to get it passed. I did my best when the Bill was before us last ses’sion, to find out whether or not the Government were in favour of the Bill ; but I could not obtain any satisfaction. On several different occasions I questioned the Minister of Defence ; and on each was told that the principle was approved. However, when the scheme of the Deakin Government was laid before us, I found that the compulsory training was confined to men between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, while the cadets were altogether ignored. If that is not putting the cart before the horse, I do not know what is. Is it not folly to attempt to build up a scheme without any foundation? We apply universal compulsory training to young men who are just entering their industrial life, and may have families dependent upon them, while all the boys between twelve and eighteen years of age may, as far as drill is concerned, “ take a lunar “ at the schoolmaster, and go and play cricket.
– In three or four of the States the boys must go_ through a regular course of physical training.
– I think that is so; but it does not represent a regular efficient system under the control of military officers. I have always said that this matter must not be mixed up with, ordinary education. In Tasmania, the result of such an experiment was that we had the education authorities trying to “ boss the show “ on the one hand, and the military authorities trying to “boss the show,” oh the other. No doubt, this training is part of education, but it is an expert educational matter, and ought to be under the control of the military authorities. < Look at the egregious mess we have got into by applying the voluntary system to the cadets ! We find that at Adelaide a camp at which 1,850 boys were expected, fell through because the primary schoolmasters and the secondary schoolmasters could not agree as to the date. We are asked to increase the cost of the Central Staff by £7,000 odd a year; and yet we have a state of things in which 1,850 boys miss camp because the schoolmasters have a quarrel. Could anything be more futile?
– It is absolutely ridiculous.
– In such circumstances what is #ie use of private members taking an interest in the subject, and hammering away at it year after year? I quite admit that Mr.- Deakin has formulated a scheme ; but what is the use of it when it does not get hold of a boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen years? When I arrived in London I was welcomed with open arms by the National Service League, because I happened to be a subscribing member of it, to take its papers, and to supply it with Hansard and everything connected with the system of universal training. Lord Roberts and others were most anxious to know whether Mr. Deakin’s scheme was likely to be passed. In their conversations they took it for granted that it would be passed, and I had to tell them that I did not believe that it would, because Mr. Deakin had not provided payment for any body. I told them that I felt quite certain that, sooner or later, the members of the Labour Party would perceive that injustice, and that it would simply kill the whole scheme.
– I am glad that” th.; honorable senator recognised that the Labour Party were opposed to injustice.
– What I mean is that my son, whether he was eighteen or nineteen or twenty years of age, and the sons of professional men, large farmers, and well-to-do squatters would go to drill and lose nothing, but that every shopkeeper and every workman would be taken away from his trade or work, and, of course, would lose money. To my mind, the scheme, in that respect, was utterly wrong and unjust, and I wondered that a fair-dealing man like Mr. Deakin had not foreseen the injustice. I think that we have a perfect right to say to our boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen years: “You shall undergo a certain amount of physical drill. It is absolutely necessary to your well-being, physically and morally.” Anybody who denies that it is says that which is not correct. It is absolutely essential to the well-being of any Defence scheme which the genius of man can invent, and yet it is not applied in our case. Here we are confronted with a dreadful state of affairs, in which our boys are our masters, and kindly tell us whether le’ W will go to drill or not. Let me remind the Minister of what, I suppose, he read last year. The Senior Cadets refused to go to the same camp with the Junior Cadets, because they thought that they could not get enough teaching, that the juniors would keep them back, and that it would be much better for each body to have a camp of their own. I think that the reasons of the young urchins were perfectly right, and displayed a good deal of common sense. Fancy the working of a whole military scheme being dependent upon whether those boys would go to camp. There is a second illustration, which has been blazoned abroad in all our papers. We have not advanced one single Step. My unfortunate little Bill is still on the notice-paper. I do not intend to worry the Minister, when he has so much to do; but, in reply to a question, he has promised me that he and his colleagues will consider what they shall do with the measure. Are they going to support it, or do they intend to ask me to withdraw it? I shall certainly withdraw it if they will give me a promise to supplement Mr. Deakin’s scheme, or bring in a scheme under which every boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen years must undergo a course of physical exercises and physical culture, and be instructed in the use of the rifle not being taught how to shoot during the first three years of his training. During the next three years the scheme, if efficient, ought to go a long way towards making soldiers of the boys, especially if it were carried out by military officers who possess not only expert knowledge, but also common sense. In all earnestness, I ask the Minister to try to let me know before the close of the session what the Government intend to do about the Bill to which I refer, and the cadets. It was only the other day that I read of the results of the training of some boys on a hulk or old man-o’-war in the Mother Country. The progress made with the .physique of the boys in the vear, as compared with the previous year - as regards height, weight, chest measurement, and everything else - was really marvellous. Military experts seem to be ignorant of that which all the world knows. I think that the answer to my recent question must have been givenwithout thought.
– A military expert cannot make a system, he has only to carry out that which the politician gives him.
– Can the honorable gentleman understand permanent members of the Defence Force living in barracks all their lives, and not having to undergofor a quarter of an hour each day certain< physical exercises and drill?
– How could an officer make physical drill compulsory on the part: of the cadets?
– I am talking now about the physique of the members of thePermanent Defence Force. Surely they have to undergo such exercises and drill’ as are prescribed ! Of course, they get a certain amount of drill in field exercises,, and also in shooting. But, apart from, that, they ought to keep up their physique.. However, I do not wish to labour that subject. Let me now refer to one other subject, which again shows the utter inefficiency of the Defence Force. Almost every morning in the press lately we have read1 something about uniforms. If there was one subject more than another which was accentuated in every newspaper and brought under the notice of the Senate every time we discussed defence matters, it was that we did not desire to have “ too much frill and gold lace.” I recollect well that seven years ago, that phrase was used here over and over again, and frequently quoted ir» the press. It was always in the mouth of every honorable senator who dealt with defence questions. It was generally recognised that we required a simple, effective uniform with not too much frill and gold lace. What has happened? After a period o’f seven years, we do not appear to have selected a uniform having the right amount of colour or ornament, one not too costly, and suitable for a citizens’ army.
– Unfortunately, we have not settled anything.
– No. I expected that the military experts would have found*, out by this time the right sort of uniform for a citizen soldier, but they have not. May I ask the Minister if he will see that’ the matter is dealt with? May I suggest to him that he should appoint two officers for each branch of the sendee to sit round a table and report to him, and that he should take the responsibility of deciding what the uniform is to be? Are we to go on for another period of seven years, only to find out that we have settled nothing? Is the question to remain unsettled for ever? I ask my honorable friend, in all seriousness to try to put a stop to the present delay, and to tell the Military Board and its officers that it is a disgrace to the service that the question of the uniform should be still unsettled.
– In the navy there is mo trouble regarding a uniform.
– None whatever. I was not here when the Old-Age Pensions Bill was under consideration. In London, I happened to hear a great deal about the system, because a Bill on the subject was before the House of Commons nearly all the time I was there. I waited with very great anxiety to see what system would be adopted- Although I found that most speakers favoured some kind of contributory system, and did not like the Australian system, almost every one of them intended to vote for the latter, and did. I conversed about the subject with several persons, and told them very plainly what a rotten system I thought ours was. I am prepared to follow the statement of the editor of a newspaper.
– Order ! I direct “the attention of Senator Dobson to standing order 404, which reads -
No senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House or . against any statute unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
The honorable senator will not be in order in reflecting upon a Statute unless with a view to its repeal, and of course that will necessitate the introduction of a Bill.
– I thank you, sir, for directing my attention to the standing order, which I ought to have remembered. I had no right to use the words I did, butI wished to describe a system of which I never could approve. As this statement puts the matter much more clearly and concisely than I could possibly do, I ask honorable senators to bear with me for about five minutes while I read it.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senatorthat the standing order will not permit him to read any statement which he is not allowed to utter.
-May I not be permitted, sir, to compare our system, which is embodied in a Statute, with the German system ?
– I have no objection to the honorable senator alluding to what the German system is, but in doing that he has no right to utter reflections upon one of our own Statutes. He must see the advisability of complying with the rule, because if we were to have every Statute reconsidered on an occasion like this there would be no end to our work.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and will read the statement from the point where it begins to refer to the German system. Whilst I appreciate the value and the justice of your remarks, I should like to point out that after the House of Commons had passed a voluntary scheme Mr. Lloyd George went to Germany, the great object of his visit being to inquire into the German system, which I brought under the notice of the Senate eighteen months a.go, but in which I could not induce any of my honorable friends to take the slightest interest. Although the Age has on two or three occasions published most admirable articles about it and to some extent given the gist of the scheme, still I could not get honorable senators to take much notice of it. Unfortunately, I was away on one occasion, and my motion lapsed. In the press we read that Mr. Lloyd George is very much impressed with the efficiency and advantages of the German system, and that he is considering whether or not a system based upon its principles cannot be grafted upon the system comprised in the English Act. I’ think that honorable senators will find that in the near future a scheme of that sort will have to be grafted on the present scheme. If I had had my way, I should years ago have introduced the German system, under which every man would have been induced by a liberal State subsidy to make provision for himself. I hope, sir, that I shall be in order in reading a short account of the German system, as it is put more concisely than I could describe it.
The German system, which establishes a compulsory and contributory scheme for sickness, accident, and invalidity insurance, is so excellent that I crave space to give your readers a short account of it. Under the German scheme our Workmen’s Compensation Act and Employers’ Liabilities Acts, with all their litigation, risks, and costs, would be repealed, and if, as was the case here a short time since, a workman was hoisted up 50 feet by his mates and then allowed to drop and so was crippled for life, he would be provided for in Germany. This system combines all the features of other schemes, viz., State help, self help, and employers’ obligation. There are three funds or branches.
Had I been here I should have fought strenuously for a provision of that sort. I ask honorable senators to say whether a woman whose husband is out of work, is in the receipt of low wages, or even of the average workman’s wage, is able to undertake all the expense and risk of a confinement without any aid whatever, and, further, to say if, in bringing another Australian citizen into the world, she is not entitled for six weeks, with an extension to twelve weeks, if necessary, to 5s. or ros. a week quite as much as, and indeed far more, than the great bulk of men sixty-five years of age and over, who are frequently able to earn a few shillings for themselves. I very much regret that I was not here when our legislation was passed, because I believe the omission of such a provision is a very great defect in our system. Dealing with the second branch of the German system the article from which I am quoting continues -
One of the best features of the German schemeis that no one is compelled to contribute beyond his or her means, and, therefore, the insured are divided into five classes, and the contributions are graduated for the different wage classes in proportion to the pensions they arewilling and able to purchase. The following; scale shows the workers’ contributions in the five classes, and the amount of pension received by. each class, including the annual State subsidy of 50s.
Might I ask my honorable friends in the Government not to bother their heads about the small subsidy of £2 ros. a year whichis altogether too small for our conditions,, or about the small amount of the pension. What T desire is that the principle of theGerman system should be applied to a new system here, which will include all our young men. I wish them to be lifted out of the present system which I think is morefit for men who have attained a certain age, and have not time to provide for themselves. The five classes referred to are as follows : -
So that honorable senators will see that there are five different classes, and five different rates of wages, and the contribution is in proportion to the wages. The German system makes provision for different rates of pension, but I would recommend that every man should receive the same pension no matter what his contribution might be. If a man contributes in proportion to his means, we have no right to expect him to do any more, and I should not recommend that he should receive a lower pension than a man who contributed more on the same principle. I think that (would be more just than the German system. My quotation continues -
The employer contributes an equal amount, and has the responsibility of seeing that both his and the workers’ contributions are paid. This is done by means of a card with fifty-two spaces, and for each week stamps have to be affixed to a space representing the amount of the joint payment. The employer thus pays the joint contribution, but deducts one-half, from the workers’ wages. No insurance for pension is allowed to lapse unless during a period of two years’ contributions for less than twenty weeks have been paid, and lapsed insurances can be renewed. In these cases, such pensions are payable as the payments made will justify. It is, therefore, clear that the German system is based upon economic law and sound principles.
If an employer should think that ‘the German scheme presses hardly on his class, he will be in error, for the employers of Germany regard the scheme as essential to the industrial peace and progress of their Empire, and they have contributed in favour of the workers between the years 1898-19.02 beyond legal requirements, a sum of over 291,548,503 marks. The papers before me do not show exactly how women are dealt with, but every unmarried woman earning her living could be brought under such a scheme, and married women or widows might surely be given a pension in return for the sacred duties of wife and mother undertaken by them.
The German scheme is most popular, and at the end of 1903 the total insurances were eleven times larger than those of 1890; the income for 1903 was £26,700,000, the year’s payment £21,820,000, and out of 13,567.600 persons insured against old age, 1,000,000 were thus actually in receipt of pensions, while nearly 5,000.000 had received sick pay, and £5,500,000 had been paid to persons suffering from accident.
A scheme of that sort is well worthy the consideration of every honorable senator who considers that the formation of character should be an important factor in our legislation. It is well worth v of our consideration if we really desire to build up a self-reliant people, who will be encouraged to help themselves. Bv adopting a system of this sort side by side with our existing system, which I admit is thoroughly suitable to men and women of advanced years, we should teach the coming generation that State help is not so good as self help, and that if they wish to get on in life, self help must be their motto.
– “ God helps those who help themselves.”
– That, in my opinion, is a very good motto. I do not think that I need apologize for bringing what I regard as a very important matter under the notice of the Senate. Although I hear many members express a desire to insure the publication of certain statements in Hansard, I do not know that it does much good. But I think the pages of Hansard will not be uselessly encumbered if they contain the clear and concise statement of the German system which I have quoted. How we tolerate year by year Workmen’s Compensation and Employers’ Liability Acts I am at a loss to understand. They have engendered more litigation and strife, more work for lawyers, and loss of money, than perhaps any other legislation which could be named. If under a Workmen’s Compensation Act a man who has lost an arm as the result of an accident with a chaffcutter looks to the law, he will be told that agricultural labourers are not under it. If a sailor tumbles off a masthead and is killed, and his widow looks for compensation, she will be told that sailors are not under it. If a man falls from a scaffold 10 feet high, he is told that he is not included, because the scaffold was not 15 feet high. Reading the provisions of such Acts, one would think that we had no common sense left. I should like to ask the Government if they propose to take any steps to bring about a conference with the States Premiers for the settlement of the financial question. I presume we shall meet again in April or May next, because we have a great deal of work to do, and have to a certain extent neglected our work this session owing to party politics. I should like the Government to make a statement as to whether thery propose, by means of another conference with the States Premiers, or bv communication with them, to devise a scheme for dealing with the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States which is likely to be generally approved. We must do what is right and just for both parties. Although th;s is a difficult nut to crack, I hope that the party now in office will manage to crack it. I do not think that it will be satisfactory to arrange for a fixed payment to the States, no matter how far back we go to obtain a fair average on which to base it. The payment should be automatic - generous and large in times of prosperity. The people of the States are the people of the Commonwealth; when the revenues of the Commonwealth are flourishing, those of the States must benefit, and in times of depression both must suffer. I hope that when a scheme is settled upon, it will be acknowledged by our citizens that we are dividing the revenue on terms which, as the Constitution provides, are fair.
– It was not my intention to speak to-night, because I wished to see progress made ; but I feel it my duty to reply to some of the statements of Senator Dobson. I always appreciate his close reasoning, but to-night I was a little disappointed with him. I read that, when in England, he was a Christian Socialist, but to-night he is more of a soldier. He complains that the people of the Commonwealth are not learning the art of war.
– He said “ physical culture.”
– He meant the art of war. Evidently he had prepared, either in England or elsewhere, two secondreading speeches which he wished to fire off to-night, though it was not a suitable time for doing so. We have heard a good many of his views expressed before. My position in regard to compulsory military service - and I will maintain it as long as I am a member of the Senate - is that, while, by paying them properly, we can get men to serve their country, if necessary, on the field of battle, we have no right to compulsorily enlist those who are not willing to serve.
-Colonel Cameron. - Then, good-bye to the White Australia policy.
– How dees this square with the honorable member’s platform ?
– The platform to which I am pledged is that which I put before my electors two years ago. I have received many letters from electors in South Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth, asking me to oppose the scheme for compulsory military training of youths. Good, sound, moral reasons are given in support of this course. The question has never been before the country, so that the opinions of the electors have not been expressed in regard to it; but, as the women of Tasmania have the right to vote, Senator Dobson will have their opposition if he compels those who, for moral reasons, would like to keep their sons at home, to send them to mix with others of a lower class. The honorable member complains that our cadets neglect drill ; but what encouragement have they to attend, seeing that there is a rifle for only one of every three? That was the case in South Australia some time ago.
– And is so now.
– Then we make fools of them in asking them to attend drill. Would honorable members attend under such circumstances? This state of affairs disgusts the boys. The honorable member, while away, must also have had prepared a speech relating to the oldage pensions question. I venture to say that even if he had been here, the Act would still have passed in its present form. Had the occasion been suitable, I would have gone to more trouble to refute some of his statements, but this is not the time to deal with the matters which he discussed. Still, while I am on my feet, I wish to refer to the subject of immigration. Senator Gray is an employer of labour - I believe that he is a good one - but he wants to obtain that labour as cheaply as possible. During the course of this debate, a great deal has been said regarding the sugar industry. Five of the representatives of Queensland have expressed their .views upon this question. Whilst Senator Chataway was speaking, I endeavoured to elicit from him. information as to how many months in the year men were in demand in connexion with sugar harvesting operations.
– Six months.
– When I asked the honorable senator for information whilst he was speaking, why did he not give it to me?
Senator Chataway. - Because there were half-a-dozen honorable senators interjecting simultaneously.
– I am aware that in Queensland, there are a number of persons who are very closely associated with the Black Labour Party, to which Mr. Deakin referred some time ago, and who affirm that the sugar industry is going down because the requisite labour is not obtainable. Yet, according to the statement of Senator Chataway, men are required for only six months in the. year-
– For harvesting purposes.
– When harvesting operations are over, where do these men find employment?
– Where do farm labourers find employment after wheat harvesting operations are over in South Australia
– I shall deal with that question presently. The honorable senator appears to be mixed up with the Black Labour Party. I wish to point out to him that men must eat, not for six months in the year, but for twelve months. If they are required to work only for six months, what are they to do during the remainder of the year? Does it not savour of class legislation to bring men to Australia from the Old Country, with the object of employing them for only six months in the year, leaving them to find work during the remaining months as best they may?
– Does not the same remark apply to shearing and wheat harvesting operations ?
– I say that the honorable senator should face this question honestly, and if he can give a satisfactory reply to it, I shall probably be found supporting his attitude. But I have read the speeches which he made whilst he was associated with the party which desires to employ black labour.
– Some time ago big meetings were held in Queensland, and I noticed that Senator Chataway, who had just been elected to this Parliament, -was always to the fore at those meetings.
– What does the honorable senator himself do in connexion with the harvesting of wheat?
– Let the honorable senator wait a bit, and I will tell him. When I asked Senator Chataway to explain whether it was a fair thing to bring people from the Old Country, for the purpose of employing them in the sugar industry for only six months in theyear, and then to turn them adrift to find employment wherever they could-
– Can the honorable senator point to a single instance in which any man. has been imported from the Old Country in connexion with the sugar industry under a six months’ agreement?
– I did not say anything about a six months’ agreement.
What I said was that the honorable senator had declared that the requisite workers in connexion with the sugar industry were not available. Thereupon I asked him to tell me the period each year during which men were in demand in that industry.
– The honorable senator asked me how long harvesting operations lasted?
– That is what I desired to know. My experience of human nature is that an employer does not pay his employes any more than he can help paying them. If they are not required at the end of six months, and their services are retained as a favour, they are paid at the lowest possible rate.
– The honorable senator speaks feelingly.
– I know something about the matter?
– Will the honorable senator tell us what he himself does?
– I was always, a good employer of labour.
– Does the honorable senator retain his employes all the year round?
– I am not under cross-examination just now. Only to-day the assertion was made that it was difficult to obtain agricultural labourers, and that farmers were offering them4.’2 per week. I believe that that statement is correct. One or more . farmers may be offering that wage, which I think J can show is not an unreasonable one. Forty years ago, when I arrived in SouthAustralia, the ordinary reaping machine was in vogue and upon a damp day reaping operations had to be suspended. But with the employment of up-to-date machinery, hot weather is not now required in order that harvesting operations may proceed. At the present time, harvesters are in common use amongst the farmers of South Australia, and merely by effecting a change of horses, and possibly the change of. a man whilst the driver is having his lunch, these machines can be kept going throughout the day. At one time, when a reaping machine was engaged upon anything like a crop, it was necessary to employ two or three persons to clean up the wheat. But the position has been revolutionized by labour-saving machinery. The result of the use of such machinery is that harvesting operations, which at one time used to extend over some months, are completed now in a few weeks. I come now to a point to which I invite the attention of my Conservative friends opposite, because I undoubtedly know what I am saying. A man is wanted on a farm, perhaps for four or five weeks, and has in all probability to travel several hundreds of miles in order to reach it. His fare to the district may be paid by his employer, but he has to find his own way back. In that way a farm labourer loses a great deal of time. Farmers as a class are no better than others, and I have known agriculturists in South Australia to dismiss their men the day after the reapers left the cultivation paddock and the work of harvesting was finished. I could, if necessary, give the names of some employers who, on the completion of the work of carting in the wheat, and making the harvest secure, have discharged their men, although within a fortnight they proposed to commence once more the tilling of the ground, and to put in another crop. During that fortnight the men ‘were not wanted, and when the time came to employ others, instead of offering them £2 per week, or even 30s. per week and their keep, as we have been told the farmers do, I have known them to offer only 12s. per week, and to obtain the services of men at that wage. Knowing of this, should I be justified in advocating immigration until we have opened up the lands for the people? I do not wish to dwell on this phase of the question, for I and other honorable senators have frequently referred to it, but since Senator Gray has told us to-night that we want, and must have, thousands of immigrants, I feel constrained to remind him that some of the best farmers in South Australia have endeavoured unsuccessfully on several occasions to obtain additional land for their sons.
– And that occurs in a. State where there is a Labour Government in power.
– The honorable senator evidently does not know much about the true position. It is true that we have a Labour Premier in South Australia, hut we have also a Tory Legislative Council.
– Does the honorable senator wish to see immigrants coming to Australia?
– Can the honorable senator prove that we have land available for those already here who wish to settle upon it? The Premier of South Australia has said that we have no land in that State to offer those who come from abroad. We need to satisfy the local demand before we introduce others.
– How did the honorable senator come to Australia? .
– That is my business. If the honorable senator imagines that he is going to take a rise out of me, he is greatly mistaken’. There is no mock modesty about me; but, unlike the honorable senator, I am not egotistical. I may say at once that I came to Australia as a farm labourer - as an immigrant - and paid part of my own passage money. We hear a great deal about the advertising of our resources, and various objections are raised to various systems. My view is that we can best advertise Australia by adopting the policy of the Labour Party, both in State and Federal politics - the policy of compulsorily repurchasing land for closer settlement.
-Colonel Cameron. - The honorable senator just now said that he was opposed to compulsion.
– That was in relation to a different matter. I favour the compulsory purchase of land, in order that the people may be settled upon it, but to go to the old lady with a family of boys, and to say to her, “ We are going to take them from you, whether you like it or not, and to make them soldiers,” is to adopt a system of compulsion of which I do not approve. If that is Socialism, I do not believe in it. Where have we any land on which- to settle immigrants ? According to Sir Thomas Bent, we have none in Victoria, and in New South Wales and Queensland estates are being resumed. In South Australia the same policy is being pursued, and as I mentioned just now, the Premier of that State says we have no land available there for outsiders. Let us adopt a policy that will lead to land of suitable quality being made available for settlement, and by-and-by we shall have a rising generation of settlers of our own rearing. Let it be known throughout Great Britain that we have adopted such a policy, and it will be unnecessary tor us to send lecturers there to advertise Australia. As it is. I. for one, cannot conscientiously write to mv people in the Old Country, and tell them that this is a land flowing with milk and honey. When a near relative sought my advice as to the desirableness of coming to Australia, I replied that everything would depend on what was to come out of the closer settlement policy of some of the States. If we could only say to the people in the Old Land - and I appeal to Senator Millen to say whether we should not effect great savings if we could do so - “ We have good times in Australia ; we have plenty of land available for you, and will make you welcome,” we should soon have a steady stream of immigration. But what hope have we of being able to say anything of the kind when the Legislative Council of South Australia has four times within four years rejected a Progressive Land Tax Bill sent up to it by the Lower House ? I have given sufficient reasons for showing why I, as an ex-farmer, am heart and soul with the Labour Party in trying to bring about the necessary reforms that will enable room to be found for the people who are already in Australia, and for others who wish to come here. By-and-by, when we have a large population, settled in comfort in this country , there will be no trouble about getting plenty of soldiers to defend the Commonwealth. Let us find plenty of room for our own people, and then it will never be said that the Labour Party are opposed to immigration. But we are opposed to black labour and cheap labour, and we must make a stand against both, or the capitalists will override us altogether. I. thank honorable senators for the patience they have displayed in listening to me.
– Before the debate closes, I wish to say a few words on some of the leading items in the schedule to this Bill, which I regard as the most important measure of the session. It must be admitted tq be unsatisfactory that the Appropriation Bill is brought before us for consideration at a period of the session when honorable senators are weary and anxious to get to their homes as soon as possible. Under these circumstances, it is quite plain that that keen scrutiny of the Estimates which they merit cannot be given to them. I hope that in the future they will be considered at an earlier period of the session, when we are in a better frame of mind for dealing with them effectively. The principal features of the financial situation that call for remark from me are., in the first place, that the Government have had to curtail expen diture to an almost dangerous point. It has been admitted that the Government have been obliged to postpone issuing the proclamation bringing the Quarantine Act into operation, in order to conserve the finances.
– The Government do not admit that that is the reason.
– They have stated that they have postponed issuing the proclamation, and it is a fair inference that that was done in order to effect savings. The very scanty funds at the disposal of the Government have made it necessary for them to take that action. I am sure
T shall be corrected if my inference is wrong. This is a step in the wrong direction, because we went to very great pains to perfect the measure. Until it is brought into operation, we shall not be able to witness a more satisfactory condition of affairs between the States than has existed in the past. Without a Federal Quarantine Act the States Governments will still resort to the old device of frustrating that freedom of trade between the States which ought to obtain. We are in our present impotent position because we have to rely upon the funds at our disposal during the operation of the Braddon section of the Constitution. While that section operates we shall continue to be confined within narrow limits, and shall be unable to give effective expression to our desires, or to give the people of the Commonwealth the benefit of those measures for which they have so long been waiting. The position created by the Braddon section is an unfortunate one, and until the year 1910 arrives I see no hope of an improvement, unless the electors of the Commonwealth choose to send to this Parliament a much larger party imbued with progressive ideas who will enable us to resort to other forms of taxation. In 1910 we shall be free. The Commonwealth Parliament will then have control over the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. In the meantime, we are in a hopeless position. That position is in a large measure due to our own generosity. The Federal Parliament has, since the establishment of Federation, given to the States the enormous sum of over £6,000,000 above that which they were entitled to receive. In return for that generous treatment we have received nothing but unstinted abuse from several of the States, including the most opulent amongst them.
– Is not the honorable senator much mistaken in making that statement? It is not true to the extent of one farthing.
– We handed back to the States £6,000,000 out of our onefourth of the Customs and Excise revenue, which the highest tribunal in the land, when lately appealed to, decided could be expended by the Commonwealth.
– Only if the Commonwealth needed it. If not, it was the property of the States.
– The Commonwealth, in its intense desire to help the States in the financial muddle into which some of them had got, denied itself the use of money which would have put its own services on a much more satisfactory basis.
– We need £2,000,000 for the Post and Telegraph Department straight away.
– That Department is an example of the niggardliness that has characterized the career of the Commonwealth ever since it was established.
– We have not been niggardly throughout. We have wasted some ourselves.
– The evidence given before the Postal Commission by some of the officers of the Department shows that about £2,000,000 is needed to bring it to a state of efficiency.
– Some of that was due to the fact that the States had starved their services before Federation.
– That may be the reason in a great measure, but it does not relieve the Commonwealth of the responsibility for not rectifying matters when it was in a position to do so.
– We mav have been niggardly as to the Post and Telegraph Department, but not in everything.
– We have been niggardly in everything, even to the point of meanness. We have denied to deserving country districts throughout the Commonwealth postal facilities which they should have had long ago. It is proposed this vear to spend only £1,100,000 odd on defence, including works and buildings. That represents a most inadequate effort to put our defences in a proper and efficient state. Any one who read the speech of the late Minister of Defence in another place must have come to the conclusion that that Department is in great need of funds.
– It is in need of thorough organization.
– And that involvesthe expenditure of money.
– If you are wasting, three-quarters of a million, it is no guarantee that if you give a million and a half you will get value for your money.
– I acknowledge that;, but, on the other hand, to be parsimonious is sometimes the grossest extravagance. Toshow what has been done in other countriesin the direction of defence, I shall read theopinion placed on record by the military correspondent of the Times. In an article published in the May number of the Call for this year, he shows how totally inadequate our expenditure in this direction hasbeen -
Your debt is 236 millions, your income 200- millions a year, and the revenue of your States 31 millions in r<)o6. Taking other standards asa guide, you seem to be under-insured. You are prepared to spend one-fifteenth of your revenue, and one-hundredth of your incomeupon defence. We spend one twenty-fifth of our revenue, and 1-31 of our income, on the same object. Japan, with a revenue of 49. millions, spends eight millions, or one-sixth. If you spent four millions you would spend asmuch out of income as we do. If you spent five millions you would equal the Japanese call upon revenue. If you spent 12 millions youwould emulate the Mother Country in her drain upon revenue. Your conditions differ from ours, and the moral value of citizen train;ng, if voir accept it, is not to be measured in the money scale.
That is a sufficient indication that Australia, which is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and in a position that certainly does not warrant our taking a careless view of the future, should go in for a more practical defence scheme, and be more ready to appropriate an adequate sum to put her defences in a state of efficiency.
– Without outside control.
– That is another question. I recognise that the battles of Australia may not be fought in Australian waters or on Australian soil. At the same time we should not lose sight of the necessity of keeping our own house in order, and of being prepared in an emergency to defend our shores. I have quoted those figures to show that the efforts we have made in the past and are now making are as nothing compared with those put forth by the Motherland or by Japan, a country which is making itself very troublesome,
And which possibly has designs upon the
Commonwealth in the near future. I read recently in the Sydney press an extract from a leading German paper, the editor of which went so far as to devote portion of his leading article to the possibility of a German invasion of Australia. That article should make honorable senators pause before being so sure that we are immune for all time from attack. No nation in Christendom to date has ever remained immune for all time. The proposed appropriation of £1,100,000 is insufficient. More money will have to be devoted to the encouragement of rifle clubs, in order that our men may learn to shoot, and, above all, we should introduce such a system of universal training as will make our young manhood devote more time to the drill necessary to make them effective defenders of the country than to football and other amusements. I wish to direct attention to the haphazard principle that seems to have characterized the financial control of the Post and Telegraph Department in the past. Since the establishment of Federation, that Department has been regarded in one year as a service that should contribute so much money to the Consolidated Revenue, whilst in the next year it has been considered as one that should look to the Consolidated Revenue for support. In the first year of Federation the receipts of the Department, according to this year’s Budget papers, were £57,000 less than the expenditure. But, in that year, there was expended on public works £37,000, so that £57,000 has to be made up somehow, and the Treasurer supplemented the revenue of the Post Office out of the ordinary revenue. In the next year, the receipts showed a slight improvement, being only £27,000 below the expenditure, while the following year the receipts were £2,000 more than the expenditure, and the Consolidated Revenue benefited to that extent. Next vear, £65,000 of postal revenue was paid into the general revenue; in 1906, the sum was £186,000; and the year following, £439,000.
– There are no separate accounts kept - there is only one Commonwealth fund.
– I recognise that as long as the bookkeeping system lasts-
– It has lasted about eighteen months longer than it should.
– I fully realize that a Tasmanian representative must always take 4hat view.
– It is a view which every representative of the Commonwealth ought to take.
– I shall give every assistance in abolishing the system, providing we agree on an equitable financial adjustment amongst the States. Further. I am prepared to allow Tasmania to have more than she is entitled to on the figures ; s.i that Senator Clemons need not suggest that there is any desire on my part to do an injustice. Last year, no less than £379,000 of postal revenue went into the Consolidated Revenue, while this year it is estimated that the amount will be £436,000 ; and I regard such an arrangement as slipshod. For two years the Post Office revenue showed a deficit, and the general revenue had to come to the assistance of the Department, whereas, in the other four years, the revenues of the Post Office were used to augment the general revenue, and that I regard as a most unsatisfactory position of affairs.
– Unless the receipts and the expenditure absolutely, balance, there must be one of the two positions which the honorable senator has described.
– That is so; but my idea is that in the case of a reproductive Department like that of the Post Office, the receipts ought not to be mixed up with the general revenue. Such a system leaves it open to an impecunious or unscrupulous Treasurer to exploit the finances of the Post and Telegraph Department, and to cover up, it might be, a deficit which ought to be otherwise wiped out. Of course, during the years I have mentioned, sums amounting to ,£1,894,000 were appropriated for works and buildings, but that, put side by side with the £1,424,000, which was paid into the general revenue from the revenue from the receipts of the Post Office, leaves a difference of £470,000. Since the establishment of Federation, the Post Office has, so to speak, stood on its own base; but, at the same time, it has been indebted, to the extent of that balance, to the general revenue. If capital is required to provide facilities ir. remote centres, it could be raised by the methods that would be resorted to by any Government, or could be found in the receipts of the Department ; but the plan of mixing up the moneys ought to be ended as soon as possible. I observe that there are certain anomalies in connexion with the charges for the carriage of mails over the railways. According to the estimate, the payment to the Victorian Railways Commissioners was increased last year by £3,000; while in South Australia the increase was £7,000; in Western Australia, £4,000; in Queensland, £7,000; in Tasmania, £800; and, in the much favoured State of New South Wales, £12,000.
– All the payments are made on the same principle.
– Up to the present, the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales have not been paid for this service at the same rate as the Railways Commissioners of the other States.
– But on the basis of population it seems strange to the uninitiated inquirer that Victoria should receive only £62,000 under this head, while New South Wales receives £101,000.
– Population has nothing to do with these payments - it is mileage that is considered.
– Senator Givens, in hia anxiety to abolish the bookkeeping system has lost sight of the very peculiar and unsatisfactory position of Western Australia. Owing to the very high consuming capacity, Western Australia receives much more from the revenue than the average received by the other States, and, at the same time - and here is the extra burden - the people of that State contribute much more towards the upkeep of the original functions of the Commonwealth Government than does any other State, in 1907, the contributions per head in the several States were as follows - New South Wales, ios. 4d. ; Victoria, 9s. 4d. ; Queensland, ios. 4c!- ; South Australia, 8s. 8d. ; Tasmania, 9s. 2d. ; and Western Australia, 193. 5d. This very critical position of the State is lost sight of very often bv honorable senators. If it were kept more constantly in mind, they would not be so anxious to abolish the bookkeeping sections without at the same time recognising that, in her case, special provision should be made to insure to her some measure of justice until normal conditions prevailed. Her contribution towards the cost of the original functions of the Commonwealth for 1907 was ios. more per head of the population thar the average of the other States.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at those figures, seeing that the charges for the special expenses of the Commonwealth under the Constitution are distributed per capita?
– Because the Commonwealth takes one-fourth of the net revenue, and the revenue of Western Australia from Customs and Excise is per capita much higher than that of the other States. I am simply giving the figures which were quoted at the Premiers’ Conference in Brisbane, and which so far have not been controverted. I mention the matter, merely to show that the position of Western Australia is an exceptional one. I notice ihat this Bill includes an item of £20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. I am very anxious to elicit whether any portion of the money will be devoted to the encouragement of immigration, because, if that is to be done, the item will not have my support. The ground has been fairly well covered by honorable senators in the effort to point out that assisted immigration to the Commonwealth is not required until such time as we make our lands available to immigrants, who will come here to shoulder their share of the burdens of citizenship. I think that it should be apperent to honorable senators, who take a different view on this question from myself, that the worst form of advertisement which Australia could get would be dissatisfied immigrants who, immediately they landed and found1 themselves in congested centres, or unprovided with land, would communicate with their relatives, and by that means blight the prospect of Australia ever getting a suitable class of immigrants. I hold that the best means for securing a steady flow of population - one which could be reasonably absorbed as the progress and prosperity of the Commonwealth developed - would be not only to insureto the immigrants elbow room and employment in agricultural and’ industrial pursuits, but also to give them such reasonableconditions of comfort that they could advise their friends in the Old Country to come here. But to bring men here beforewe have created openings and opportunities for them would, I submit, be a most suicidal policy for the Commonwealth to adopt.
– Of course, I should like the debate to close at once, but I recognise that if I refrained from speaking, honorable senators might complain that several points which they had raised had not been replied to. In the first place, the leader of the
Opposition has pointed out that, under the present arrangement, the Senate does not get a proper opportunity of dealing with the Budget. That is a complaint whichI have made, and therefore it has my sympathy. I am pleased to notice that Senator Millen has recognised the difficulty of finding a solution, though I think that he made a workable suggestion, and that is to give notice of a motion which would enable honorable senators to discuss the financial statement without going into details. A fitting opportunity to consider such a motion would be afforded when the Budget papers were tabled here. If would place us in a slightly better position than we are in at present. My honorable colleague and I will bring the suggestion before the Government, and if we should occupy the Treasury bench when the next Budget is presented, we shall endeavour to see that an opportunity is given to the Senate to debate the financial position. I desire now to refer to the statement which was made by a member of another place, and repeated here, to the effect that certain Customs prosecutions in South Australia would have been undertaken by Sir William Lyne had he remained in office, and that they were not undertaken by his successor in the Deakin Government. Having had the facts of the case placed before him, Sir William Lyne has practically withdrawn the statement he made. He has admitted that had he known at the time the circumstances which have since been brought to his notice, he would nor have made it. The facts, as disclosed in the papers here, are very simple. I believe that the Minister of Trade and Customs proposes to make public a portion of the papers on the subject. The firm in question was prosecuted for a breach of the Customs Act, and a conviction was recorded, but a further question arose as to whether the firm should also be prosecuted for fraud. There were seventeen breaches of the Customs Act. In fourteen cases it was absolutely clear that there was no intent to defraud the revenue. The other three cases were referred to the Crown Solicitor, who, in dealing with the question of a further prosecution for fraud, furnished this opinion -
The question of the further prosecution for fraud is, however, a matter for the Department to seriously consider, for we will have to face three important facts which will make it difficult to prove fraud in these three cases -
The items are very small, and it will be hard to convince a jury that such a firm deliberately committed frauds to save less than £10.
The frauds were committed about five years ago, and we cannot show any prior or subsequent frauds, which we can prove the firm benefited by or were aware of.
We have had to admit that the larger frauds complained of were frauds by the servants for their own benefit, and that the company did not know of it, and their servants not only defrauded the Customs of this amount but embezzled the amounts from their employers, who appear to have paid them the duty and other sums in addition.
Pursuant to that advice, the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. Austin Chapman, did not take any steps to prosecute the firm. In these circumstances, I think that honorable senators will agree that there is nothing which reflects in any way upon the then Minister, and that it cannot be said that he did other than his clear duty. During the course of this debate, the somewhat alarmist statement has been made on two occasions that not a single battery of field artillery could take the field, as no ammunition waggons are available. That statement may have been made in all good faith, but it is not correct. An honorable senator said that it was made by the Honorary Minister who represents the Minister of Defence in another place. It was made by Mr. Kelly, but the Honorary Minister, when he was referring to the absence of ammunition waggons, was alluding, not to the field artillery at all, but to the infantry. A contract has been let, and is being executed for the supply of ammunition waggons for the field artillery. A number of these waggons have been supplied. Some batteries have them, and before very long we hope that the whole of the ammunition waggons will be supplied for the field artillery.
– The point is, are the batteries fully supplied ?
– No, they are not; but the statement made was that there is not a. single battery of field artillery that could take the field. That is not a fact. The fact is that we hope shortly to have the whole of the batteries supplied.
-Colonel Cameron. - And a certain number of them have been supplied already.
– That is so. Now, as to Senator Chataway’s anxiety regarding the sugar industry, the matter was referred to by several honorable senators, but Senator Chataway first mentioned it. Those who spoke from the Ministerial side were satisfied that the Ministry would do justice to that industry. I venture to say they had every reason to be satisfied, because not only have the party with which the Government is associated shown such a disposition in the past, but the Federal Parliament, since its inception, has shown a disposition to deal not only justly, but very generously, with the sugar industry of Queensland.
– We are trying to put a stop to all this prejudice and clamour about black labour.
– What did the honorable senator’s association say when its members, met last year?
– I think that Queensland senators do not need reassurance in this matter ; but I have no hesitation in saying on behalf of the Government that the sugar industry has nothing to fear, from the present Government at any rate. Senator Pulsford made a reference to the diversion of the bounty on fish. A question was asked by Senator Sayers on the subject also. I have received a reply, and if the honorable senator will repeat his question to-morrow, I shall be in a position to give him the particulars. Practically speaking, the answer to the question asked by Senator Pulsford as to the reason- why the destination of the bounty on fish was altered from smoked and preserved fish generally to tinned fish is this : A certain inferior, and on that account cheap, variety of fish is found in great numbers, particularly on the southern coast of Australia. I refer to the barracoutta. It is caught in very great numbers, and the Customs authorities, found that this fish was being caught in large numbers and smoked practically for the purpose of securing the bounty.
– What became of them then?
– I do not know whether they were consumed or not ; but honorable senators know that it was never the intention of Parliament to establish an industry for the production of smoked barra.coutta. It was felt that the money would be better spent, and that it would do more to establish the fish industry, if the bounty were diverted to the canning or tinning of fish.
– But if Parliament made a mistake, ought not Parliament to rectify that mistake by passing another law ?
– Parliament gave to ihe Government the power to make regulations, and it has the power to express disapproval of those regulations when they are made. But I venture to say that when honorable senators know the facts, they will indorse the action of the Government in this regard. Senator Needham, in dealing with his pet subject of naval defence, opened up a very enticing prospect of reply, but I can only say that he can rest assured - as I know he does - that the Government are in thorough sympathy not only ‘with an effective naval but also with an effective military defence of Australia. They intend to avail themselves of the opportunity of the recess, if it is given them, to bring forward a definite policy with respect to both the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth.
– But what is their attitude in respect to the despatches to which I referred?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I can tell him that we have so far had no opportunity to take up any attitude. We have been so busy with the affairs of Parliament and in obtaining a rudimentary insight into the working of our Departments that it has been absolutely impossible for us, as it would have been for any other Government in such circumstances, to formulate a policy. The honorable senator knows that, and must therefore be content, as I am sure he is, to wait until the Government have an opportunity to formulate their policy. He knows my individual views, but I’ am not able to announce them to-night as the views of the Government. It should be sufficient for me to say that the Government will not lose sight of the question. Senator Stewart based a very strong complaint against the Government upon their attitude with regard to the Estimates. I wish to point out that the Estimates were laid on the table of the Senate on 14th October of this year. Immediately they were tabled in the House of Representatives they were placed also in the hands of honorable senators, who have had opportunities ever since to study them, and to make themselves familiar with the various items. The Government have not shown any disposition to-night to put any obstacle in the way of any honorable senator discussing them to the fullest extent. We do not intend to put any obstacle in the way of their discussion in Committee to-morrow, and as the various items are submitted .honorable senators will be enabled to express their views as strongly as they think fit. At the same time we do not invite members of the Senate to get up and talk for the sake of talking, and no honorable senator would suggest that such a thing should: be encouraged at this period of the session. If there are any matters in connexion with which they feel strongly, the Government will be prepared to give them all the information in their power. I have had to thank Senator Pulsford for a suggestion which I think is a very good one. If honorable senators will to-night or to-morrow supply the Government with a list of the items on which they desire information, we shall endeavour through the Departments to obtain for them, the fullest information possible respecting those items. That should indicate that there is no desire to prevent honorable senators securing the fullest information to enable them to take any action they may think fit in the discharge of their duties. Senator Dobson made a speech which one would like to have more time than I have to-night to reply to. With regard to his suggestion to apply to our existing military organization, the principle of compulsory physical training, I would! remind the honorable senator that the keystone of our present defence policy is voluntary action.
– What is the Minister’s defence policy?
– I am not speaking now of the defence policy of the Government, but of the existing defence policy. I have just said that during the recess the Government intend to formulate their defence policy. Our duty at present is to carry out the existing defence policy of the Commonwealth, which provides for a voluntary or militia system: To attempt to graft compulsory provisions ort to a voluntary system would be impracticable.
– But a volunteer having joined the force we compel him to learn the use of the rifle.
– That is only half stating the case. Nominally we do compel him, but actually we do not. This may happen, and I am sure Senator Lieut. - Colonel Cameron will appreciate the position : We say that a volunteer shall attend so many ‘parades, otherwise he will be classed as non-efficient, but the volunteer can please himself whether he does attend or not.
– That is a very poor system.
– I heartily agree with the honorable senator. I think it is well known that I do not consider the present system a good one, but I refer now to the law which we are bound to administer. It is the same with our cadets. Under the Defence Act we can enroll a cadet. We tell him that we shall provide him with a parade ground, instruction, and a rifle, anc? that he will be taught physical drill for an hour on such a day. But the cadet can stay away from the parade, and we cannot compel him to attend it.
– But have we not a ‘ force of permanent men whom- we can order to do anything?
– We have a number of permanent men, and I guarantee that any one who has seen them marching will say that they are physically as fine a body of men as can be seen anywhere Their physique shows that they must frequently indulge in physical training.
– Do the cadets refuse to attend drill?
– There is a certain attraction about marching through streets or on a parade ground, in uniform, with the rifle on the shoulder ; but if the boys were asked to pass an hour or two in tie drill-halls in physical exercise, not many would attend. The officers of the Department are of opinion that the time now provided for military training is not sufficient, and if part of it were taken up in physical training, the men would become less efficient.
– Is not physical training military training?
– Not necessarily. It is not a question of drafting something to add to our existing system, but of drafting a system which will meet the difficulties which we have to face. I am not of opinion that the Defence Force is disorganized.
– The Minister’s representative has stated that there will have to be complete rc-organization.
– He had in view the defects of the existing system, and I recognise them too ; but, notwithstanding that, the Defence Force is better organized today than it was ever before. I say that, not on my own authority, which ‘is of little value, but on that of officers who served under the Governments of the States, and are still serving. They say that as an active fighting force, it would be more effective to-day than it has been previously. If there is to be a different system, there will have to be re-organization.
– Does not the Minister remember what the ex-Prime Minister said?
– Eleven thousand men armed with the; short magazine rifle, and trained in methods approved by reason of the experience of the South African campaign, would be more effective than the force was in the old days, when armed with single-loading rifles, and without the knowledge of modern field tactics.
– The ex-Prime Minister spoke of the Defence Force. as “ a tiny array.”
– Organization does not depend on numbers. We might have a large force thoroughly disorganized, or a small one effectively organized.
– The Commonwealth spends more on defence than the States spent, and therefore should have a better force.
– We are spending more than we spent in the second and third years of Federation : but not so much as was spent prior to Federation. In the year preceding Federation, ,£169,000 was borrowed for defence purposes, and some of it expended on blank ammunition, to be fired away on the Queen’s Birthday; The people of Australia will be paying interest on that expenditure for the next fifty years. However, I hope to have another opportunity to deal more fully with the subject. What our Defence Force lacks is material. Two years ago, the Government of the day put forward a scheme for malting good the deficiency in a period of three years, and Parliament voted the sum necessary for the first vear s wants. Trie expenditure which should have taken place in the second year was not made, and therefore, some of our ports have not been supplied this year with guns which it was intended that they should get. Owing to financial exigencies, the making good of material will have to be spread over four instead of over three’ years. More money is needed” than is provided for on these Estimates, and the obligation of finding it will devolve upon the Government. We hope later to remedy this weakness by bringing forward satisfactory financial proposals for dealing with it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until half-past 10 a.m. to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 11. 17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081209_senate_3_48/>.