3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
– Last night, the Minister of Defence, replying to a question asked by me early in the day, said that the honorable member for Hume had explained a previous statement, to the effect that if, when he made it, he had been in possession of information which he received later he would not have made it. But, according to a report in this morning’s Argus, which the Minister has probably seen the honorable member did not withdraw the statement, or suggestion, that an action which should have been proceeded with was dropped, and that the Customs Department has been negligent in the performance of a duty to the public. I therefore ask the Minister again if he was correct in saying last night that the honorable member for Hume had withdrawn his statement, and whether, if it was withdrawn, there was anv reservation?
– I have seen the press accounts referred to, and have obtained a proof of the official report of the speech made by the honorable member for Hume in the House of Representatives. He referred to two South Australian Customs cases, admitting in regard to the first that action had been taken of which he was not aware, and that, had he known of it, he would not have made his statement, though, later on, he expressed dissatisfaction with what has occurred. With regard to the second case, he indicated that, in his opinion, it is unsatisfactory that no action has been taken. In the first case, the Adelaide firm of Messrs. Harris, Scarfe, and Company was prosecuted by the Customs Department. The honorable member for Hume seemed to be of opinion that the prosecution had not been proceeded with; but that is not so. Seventeen charges were made, fourteen alleging evasion of the payment of duties, and three alleging fraud. On the matter being referred to the Crown Solicitor, he reported that the evidence to support the charges of fraud was very weak, and when the prosecution was commenced the firm entered a demurrer against these charges, pleading guilty to the charges of evading the payment of duty.
– Pleading guilty to the fourteen charges?
– Yes. Subsequently counsel on both sides agreed as to a settlement, in regard to those charges, which left it to the Court to determine what penalty should be inflicted. The following statement of the judgment was forwarded to the Minister, by the Crown Solicitor, on the j st November last : -
As to the settlement arrived at as the result of the conference between counsel, the following letter was forwarded by Mr. Smart : -
I have the honour to enclose a copy of the settlement made by your direction in this matter.
The question of penalties has to be decided by the Court at the first sittings of a Justice of the High Court in Adelaide.
The refunds mentioned in the latter part of paragraph S, Mr. Stevens, the Collector for South Australia, promised to let me have, but was unable to do so on Monday last.
The terms of the settlement were these -
The plaintiffs to admit that the other charges in each of the said seventeen sets were merely alternative.
Then follows an elaboration, which I think it is unnecessary to read.
– The honorable senator’ had better read the whole document, because this is not the last that will be heard of the matter.
– The Minister has gone beyond the limits ordinarily allowed for answering a question, but I have not curtailed his explanation, because I think that the Senate desires a full statement of the case. This, however, is not the time to discuss the matter. That should be done on a specific motion.
– Or when we are considering the proposed expenditure of the Customs Department.
– It can be debated then. The Minister, to save the time of the Senate, should make his explanation as brief as he can.
– The agreement which I have read was signed by the solicitors representing both sides.
– There have been too many of these back-stairs settlements by the Customs Department.
– The honorable senator should not say that. This was not a back-stairs settlement. The case was argued in Court, the settlement was arrived at by the counsel to the parties, and the penalty imposed was determined by the Judge who presided. In regard to the second case, the honorable member for Hume was incorrect in suggesting that no action had been taken ; it is listed for hearing before the High Court in Adelaide this month.
– What is the name of the firm concerned?
– I have not that information at present.
– The High Court will moe sit in Adelaide this month.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that the Customs Department will try to prevent the Court from sitting there this month. At any. rate, the prosecution has been undertaken, and the case is listed for hearing before the High Court.
– The matter is now under consideration ?
– I wish to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether it is true, as stated in this morning’s Argus, that, in order to avoid a crisis, the Government intends to accede to the wishes of the Opposition regarding the length of the recess? If the Ministry has not vet arrived at a decision on the matter, will the members of the Labour Party be consulted, to ascertain their wishes?
– Neither myself nor any other Minister is responsible for the statement in the Argus. The Government, in advising the Governor-General as to the length of the recess, will study the best interests of the Commonwealth.
– Is the Minister of Defence yet furnished with an answer to my question regarding the payment of bounty on fish?
– On the 3rd inst. the honorable senator asked the following questions -
The answers with which I have been supplied by the Department of Trade and Customs are these -
– I wish to ascertain the sums paid to each of the various firms or companies concerned.
– The honorable senator asked, “ To whom such bonus was paid, giving names of persons or company.” I have given that information. The specific sum paid in each instance was not asked.
– Perhaps I can get the information later.
– The honorable senator can give notice now that he wishes it to be supplied.
– May I remind the Minister that the information is already in print, and the amounts have been given ?
– Does the return’ read cover fish preserved in tins, as well as fish smoked and dried?
– The question asked is as to the total amount of bounty paid on dried or smoked ‘fish. There is no mention of preserved fish.
– Has not a regulation recently been issued directing that fish preserved in tins shall be counted as smoked or dried ?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the Question.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the Senate to-morrow approximately to what extent Victorian distillers have taken advantage of the provisions that we put in the Excise Act in order to bring about, if possible, an increased production in the Commonwealth of spirits of high quality? I do not want elaborate details, so long as the answer is generally informative.
– If the honorable senator will repeat the question to-morrow, I shall give instructions for the information to be obtained.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. This subject has already received the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs, who hopes within the next few days to arrive at a decision.
– Will that decision be made known to the exporters of fruit?
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2, and 3. The Minister for Trade and Customs does not consider the evidence at his disposal justifies any further action in this case.
Letter Carriers and Sorters
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I ask the honorable senator to postpone the questions, as he has not indicated any locality. I take it that he does not require the information regarding the whole Commonwealth. Will he indicate the locality to which he refers?
– Melbourne is. the locality to which I referred. I shall repeat the question to-morrow.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, uponnotice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. A letter on the subject has been received, but has not yet been considered.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
The Defence of Australia - By Colonel H. Fester (Director of Military Studies, Sydney University).
The Naval Director’s remarks thereon.
Public Service Act 1902. - Fourth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner.
Ordered to be printed.
Copy of Statutory Rules 1908, No. 119, being new Regulation under the Bounties Act 1907.
Audit Acts 1901-1906. - Transfers in connexion with the Financial Year 1907-8. - Approved 8th December, 1908.
Copies of Original Schedules of the Valuations of the Transferred Properties in each State, signed by the Official Representatives of the Commonwealth and States.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 9th December, vide page 2984). Second Schedule -
Parliament : The President - Usher of the Black Rod - Senators’ Luggage Expenses - Official Dress and Uniforms - Hansard : Sessional Typists - The Library - Sanitary Conveniences - Lift Attendant.
Divisions 1to 10 (The Parliament), £31,080.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ The President, £1,100,” by £500.
I need not give reasons for this proposal. I did so upon several previous occasions. The sum proposed is extravagant, and the President of the Senate ought to be very well paid with a remuneration of £1,000 a vear as President and Senator.
– I do not care to allow this request to go to a vote without discussion. Senator Stewart will agree with me that the request cannot be regarded as in any way reflecting upon the present holder of the office. The honorable senator and my self more than once joined in voting for such a request when someone else held the office, and I am sure that in the event of any other member of the Senate becoming President in the future we shall take exactly the same action. I find an additional reason for supporting the request, in that I intend to endeavour to effect economies in other directions in the Estimates, and it is well to begin with ourselves.
– With our own salaries, for instance.
– The honorable senator knows my views on that question, which, however, is not relevant to the issue before the Committee.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved inthe negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee, £475”
I have always considered the position of Usher of the Black Rod to be a sinecure, and have had no reason lately to alter my, opinion. The late Government had an excellent opportunity to make a new departure in this connexion, but neglected it, and I, therefore, invite the Committee to support my request.
– I notice that according to a foot-note to the item the officer occupying this position is entitled to three annual increments of ^25 each, “subject to the recommendation of the President.” I object to such a provision. The Usher of the Black Rod is an officer of the Parliament, and it is for the Parliament and not for the President to say what he shall receive.
– He is placed under the President by the Public Service Act.
– That- is a mere fiction.
– It is not.
– He is under the absolute control of Parliament, and it is for Parliament to say whether he shall or shall not receive an increase. I am objecting, not to the fact that he may receive certain increments, but to the system under which they are to be granted. Strong opinions have previously been expressed in the Senate as to the office of Usher of the Black Rod. It is a remnant of old world worn-out superstition, pageantry, show, and grandeur. In these days, when sensible people are supposed to manage their business in a sensible way, why should we think it necessary to have an officer wearing a swallow-tail coat, with brass buttons, knee breeches, silk stockings, patent leather shoes, with pointed toes and buckles on them, to walk with a black stick in his hands before the President, or to announce the arrival of the GovernorGeneral ? If a body of savages were to adopt such a practice one would not be surprised, but it is astounding that sensible men in this twentieth century should resort to such ridiculous “ flummery.” The present occupant of the position is far too good a man to be degraded by so menial an office. In the old days the office was certainly regarded as a menial one, and we should do away with it. If this officer is required for other purposes, let us sayso plainly and put it in black and white, that we pay him for those services. It is a mere waste of good material to have in the position a gentleman of the ability of the present occupant. I have not a word to say against him, nor had I a word to say against the former occupant of the office when I raised a similar objection. I have a most friendly feeling towards both gentlemen, but personal considerations should not lead us to continue to countenance so absurd an office. Who pays for the silk stockings, the knee breeches, the swallow-tailed coat, the pointed leather shoes with buckles, and the black rod? While people are going hungry, is the community to be taxed to provide such things? I shall support ‘ the request because I believe it is time the Senate took up a strong stand and attempted to cleanse itself of this remnant of an Old World superstition.
– Why does not the honorable senator attack members of Friendly Societies for wearing regalia?
– If I were elected to supervise or manage their business I should do so, but as I am not, I leave them severely alone. There is another matter that I should like to mention. The former occupant of the office of Usher of the Black Rod received a grant of ,£50 per annum as Controller of the Refreshment Rooms, but no such item appears on these Estimates. On a former occasion I protested against the system of providing for the remuneration of an officer in different items, believing it an excellent principle that the emoluments of an office should appear in one item, so that we may see at a glance what any officer receives. I should be glad to know what i.= the new arrangement with regard to the position of Controller of the Refreshment Rooms.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11. 9]. - Senator- Stewart has always consistently opposed the item on the Estimates providing for the salary of the Usher of the Black Rod, and if the sole duty appertaining to the office were that of remaining in the Chamber while the Senate is sitting there would be strong reason for taking exception to it. But as has been explained over and over again, the Usher of the Black Rod has other very important and special duties to perform, and it is really in relation to those duties that his salary is voted.
– Why supply him with a ridiculous uniform ?
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD.That is a trifling objection. Senator Givens has spoken very1 favorably of the present occupant of the office as a man, but says that he is degraded by being called upon to act as Usher of the Black Rod. I would remind him- that in the House of Lords the position has always been regarded as one that should be held by a man of ability enjoying the esteem of his fellow citizens, and so with the office of Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons, as well as in another place. The Usher of the Black Rod is also Clerk of
Select Committees, which includes the Printing Committee, the Joint House Committee, and the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. As Secretary to the Joint House Committee he has supervision over the Refreshment Rooms, the Parliament Gardens, the Queen’s Hall, and repairs to the building. As Usher of the Black Rod he has to deal with the Press gallery and other galleries generally during the sittings of the Senate. Then, again, he assists in the work of the office, such as preparing Bills, as amended for the Printer, and drawing up schedules of amendments, which cannot be done by the Clerks as the work in the Chamber proceeds. Honorable members will recognise therefore that he has to discharge multifarious duties many affecting the comfort and convenience of every member of the Parliament. If we did away with the office, and so» reduced our staff, the work of the Senate would speedily fall into arrears and confusion, since the remaining Clerks would not have time to attend to the additional duties that would devolve upon them. As to the granting of increases, we all recognise that Parliament has supreme control, but, as was perti nently pointed out just now by the Minister of Defence, the President stands in the position of the Public Service Commissioner so far as officers of the Senate are concerned. The Public Service Act provides that-
Unless inconsistent with the context any action or approval required by this Act to be taken or given by the Commissioner may, so far as officers of the Parliament are concerned, be taken or given by the President or the Speaker or the President and the Speaker (as the case may be) in substitution for the Commissioner, and any action required or authorized by this Act to b<* taken by a permanent head or chief officer shall or may be taken by the Clerk of the Senate so far as relates to officers of the Senate and by the Clerk of the House of Representatives so far as relates to officers of that House and by the Librarian so far as relates to officers of the Library and by the Chief Parliamentary Reporter so far as relates to officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and by the “Clerk of the Joint House Committee so far as relates to officers under Ihe control of that Committee.
The officers of the Senate, the officers of the House of Representatives, the officers of the Parliamentary Library, the officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and the officers of the Joint House Committee, shall be de- med to constitute separate departments under this Act.
Honorable senators will therefore see that the President and the Speaker, so far as the officers of their respective Houses are concerned, are in the position of the Commissioner under the Public Service Act. It was considered inexpedient that the officers of the Parliament should be placed under the control of the Commissioner.
– It is the uglyname that we object to.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD.I think it only fair to Senator Givens that I should make this explanationWe now come -to the proposed increment which appears on the Estimates. Themaximum salary for the Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary to the Joint House Committee, is ,£550, while the salary proposed now is £475. The officer who occupies the position was promoted from one in which, he received ,£420, whereas his predecessor received the maximum of ^550. in addition to a further allowance of £50 for acting as Secretary to the Joint House Committee, so that the salary was really £600 a year. It is considered that an opportunity is now presented for having one salary; and the proposal is that the maximum shall remain as at present, without the additional allowance of ^50, though the officer will continue to perform the duty of Secretary to the Joint House Committee. In the early days of this Parliament, it was agreed that certain salaries should be fixed, and in this instance the rate was ^550, and it was thought unreasonable to ask Parliament to raise the new officer’s salary at once from £420 to ,£550. The position was, therefore, arranged so that the smaller amount I have mentioned would be paid to commence with, and gradually be increased, as is the case in Departments under the Public Service Commissioner. Promotion, of course, is made according to the law;, and depends on reports that may be submitted from time to time ; and following that precedent it has been thought wise to adopt the course I have indicated, so that the maximum salary should be reached on the recommendation of the President, who occupies in this connexion the position of the Public Service Commissioner. Honorable senators will realize that that is a fair and reasonable way in which to deal with a matter of the kind, and also to effect economy. Of course, a great deal depends on the salaries paid to those in similar positions in another place, and it is considered that they should be much the same. I have not the exact provision with me as to the terms of the appointments of these officers, but the ap*pointments were made subject to the increments to be granted from time to time on the recommendation of the President. I realize, of course, that the ultimate decision must remain with honorable senators, and we know that any fair and proper proposal will always receive the support of the Senate. I hope that, under the circumstances, honorable senators will come to the conclusion that it is undesirable to cut down any of the salaries of the officers of the Senate, and that as the retention of the office of the Usher of the Black Rod does not add to the expense of Parliament, there can be no reasonable objection to its retention. Some honorable senators may think that an office of the kind does not add any dignity to the Chamber ; but, after all, certain forms and procedures must be followed, and a similar officer is retained in every important Legislative Chamber in the world. It is desirable to have some dignity attaching to offices of importance under the Constitution.
– Is our dignity enhanced by ridiculous toggery ?
– It is desirable that the occupants of certain offices should be provided with a distinct dress to distinguish them from others who appear in the Chamber. The members of the Defence Forces, on which the maintenance of the Empire depends, wear uniforms showing that they have to perform certain duties. If the idea, of some honorable members were carried to its logical conclusion, the Clerks at the table would have to be robbed of their, wigs and gowns when Parliament was opened or prorogued. The conditions attaching to the office of Usher of the Black Rod are no derogation to the officer, any more than are the conditions attaching to the office of Serjeant-at-Arms in another place. Certain duties have to be’ performed by the Usher of the Black .Rod, and it is well to have a suitable officer to precede the President, to convey messages to the other House, and to introduce the GovernorGene.ral at the opening or closing of Parliament. It is better that the present arrangement should be retained, than that a messenger should be employed to perform duties of the kind. There are other duties of the Usher, to which I do not desire to refer, and which, I hope and believe, will probably remain in abeyance; and under all the circumstances I hope honorable senators will allow the vote to pass.
– Senator Gould has made a lengthy speech on this item.,
– And a very proper one !
– I have not said that the speech was not pertinent; but, excellent as it was in parts, the main result has been to gloss over and hide - unintentionally, of course - what is a departure from a practice that has obtained in connexion with the Appropriation Bill, ever since we have been a Federal Chamber. I refer, of course, to the asterisks which appear after the item. Senator Givens has already pointed out that certain annual increments are to be granted, subject to the recommendation of the President of the Senate, and we have been told that that course has been adopted, because the President, so far as the officers of the Senate are concerned, is in the position of the Public Service Commissioner. Senator Gould quoted from the Public Service Act; but, if honorable senators paid close attention, they must have noted that all the Act provides is that, as regards these officers, the President “ may “ take the place of the Commissioner, not that the President “shall “ do so. In my opinion, the President is not, by virtue of the Act, in the position of the Public Service Commissioner in regard to these increases; and this is the first time that asterisks have ever appeared in this way in the Estimates.
– They have appeared in regard to officers in other Departments of the Public Service.
– It is the firsttime they have appeared in connexion with officers of the Senate.
– There is a reason why this is the first occasion.
– There is not, except that it is the first occasion.
– The salary previously paid was the maximum, and there was no need to provide for possible increments.
- Senator Millen may be satisfied with that reason, but I am not.
– Is not the reason that the previous occupant of the position received the maximum salary, and that it was not thought advisable to give the present occupant the maximum?
-Thai may be the reason; but, nevertheless, it is true that the asterisks have never appeared before in connexion with these items.
– That is the explanation given by Senator Gould, as President.
– That may be ; but the position is still undesirable, and there is no reason for us to indorse it, because if we do, we shall be practically giving effect to the word “ may “ which appears in the Public Service Act. That is a matter, the decision of which is entirely within the competence of the Committee ; and this brings me to the merits of the case.
– If the asterisks were not there, the present Usher of the Black Rod would be entitled to the maximum; salary.
– Not necessarily. He would be entitled to increments ; and I hope that any occupant of the position will not only deserve, but receive, increments Those increments, however, must be paid with the sanction of the Senate or of Parliament generally. However, the position now practically is that proposed annual increments will be submitted to the Senate on the recommendations of the President.
– Why not?
– Because I do noi think such an arrangement is fair to the officers.
– Parliament need not act on the recommendation.
– It does not tend to the self-respect of the officers, but, rather, to their degradation, that, in order to get increments they should be in the position of . having to please and satisfy one particular man, who is really not their employer, though he may be President of the Senate.
– Is it not pure patronage ?
– The honorable senator may apply to it any term he pleases, though I hope he will not expect me to adopt his language. At any rate, it does not conduce to the proper self-respect of any officer to know that increments, which are a. reward for the due discharge of duties, are dependent upon the recommendation of any one individual, even though that individual occupies the high and dignified position of President.
– The President is in the best position to say that service has been well rendered?
– I do not think that is the question.
– If an officer does not please the President he will not get an increment.
– Who is better qualified to judge?
– I do not think that the President, by virtue of his office, is necessarily the head of the Department. In my opinion, the President, in the ordinary discharge of his duties, cannot appraise the work of these officers, however keen may be his desire to do so honestly and impartially.
– Can we ?
– We have a better opportunity ; at any rate, we have to vote the money. As I said before, the President is not the head of the Department.
– He is the head of the Senate.
– But the President, as such, cannot be in a position to appraise the work of these officers, unless he is taxed beyond the ordinary capacity of a human being; and, further, he ought not to be asked to deal with such a matter, because it places on the President a serious responsibility which I do not think he ought to bear. It is rather a strange suggestion to make, but I hope that these asterisks will be struck out. No harm will thereby be done to the officers ; and we shall be merely saying that we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity presented by the Public Service Act, in order to make the President the Public Service Commissioner, and the arbiter in such cases. This is a matter for the Ministry.
– It is a duty imposed on the President?
– Certainly. It is strange to hear this defence from the honorable senator of a substitute for the Public Service Commissioner.
– The honorable senator assisted to pass the Public Service Act.
– I venture to say that, with the exception of Senator Millen, apparently, there is scarcely an honorable senator who does not think that the Public Service Act is seriously in need of revision - a work in which I should be glad to ta’ke a part.
– I hope the revision will be undertaken by the Government next year.
– So do I. We all took a part in passing that Act, but I am willing, at the earliest opportunity, to retrace my steps and revise my actions. That being so, believing, as. I do, that the great majority of the Senate are of opinion that the Act requires reviewing, if you, sir, will indicate to me a method by which I can move to strike out the asterisk and the foot-note I shall be obliged.
– If Senator Stewart will withdraw his request the honorable senator can move a. request to that effect.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the asterisk attached to the item, “ Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee,£475, “ and the accompanying footnote.
– I trust that too much time will not be devoted to this very plain and simple question. In the first place, Senator Clemons was not correct in stating that in this connexion the word “ may “ is used in the Public Service Act.
– Then Senator Gould misread the section, because he used the term “ may.”
– Senator Clemons referred to a portion of the section which does not deal with the question at issue.
– I only contended that Senator Gould quoted a section and used the word “ may.”
– The question at issue is the question of appointment and promotion. Section 14 of the Act reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act-
It will be observed that the word “ shall “ is used in the provision.
– Will the honorable senator now quote what Senator Gould quoted ?
– The portion of the provision which he quoted, and in which the word “ may “ is used, involves the status of officers. Suppose that a board of inquiry has to be held concerning an officer, then sub-section 2 applies -
As regards questions of appointment or promotion, “ shall “ and not “ may “ is used. The President is under a statutory obligation to submit a recommendation, which, however, the Ministry need not accept unless it pleases. The Government is responsible for submitting every item in the Estimates; but, of course, the Parliament need not adopt its recommendations. If any honorable senator desires to raise the issue as to whether the President should or should not make a nomination or recommendation, the proper course is to move for an amendment of the Public Service Act. But this is not the time to discuss that question. Of course, the asterisk appears on these Estimates for the first time, because it is only since the last Estimates were printed that the alteration has been made. Mr. Blackmore resigned, and the late Government, by arrangement with the President and the Speaker, made the new appointment at a lower salary than that previously voted. In view of the fact that the appointee started’ at bedrock salary, an intimation is made to Parliament, by means of an asterisk and a footnote, that it is proposed to increase it gradually until he reaches the maximum. If Parliament considers that the amount of the salary is excessive it can be reduced. But so far as the powers of the President are concerned they seem to be so clear as to need no debate.
– I rose in consequence of the quotation made by Senator Gould. I took it to be not only accurate, but conclusive, so far as it dealt with this question. He used the term “ may,” and said - so far as the question of promotion, and, as I understood, the question of increase of salary, were concerned - that Parliament had placed him in the position of the Public Service Commissioner. Taking him as an authority on this Act, I immediately rose to submit a request. Having heard the statement of Senator Pearce, and having done what I ought to have done in the first instance, and that is to refer to the Public
Service Act, I, in order to save time, ask leave to withdraw my motion. I have no desire to waste time. I am sorry that I did not acquaint myself with the provision in the Act, instead of taking somebody else’s quotation.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
Request (by Senator Stewart) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee, £475-“
– We should be guided by the opinion of the President as to whether this is a proper salary to be paid to the officer. He has shown that the performance of the duties appertaining to the office is worth £475 a year. I have no particular love for frills and fripperies, but I do not understand why all the attacks are made on this unfortunate officer. I admit that it seems rather funny sometimes to see the Usher of the Black Rod in his uniform, but if we intend to do away with these things, do not let us confine our efforts to one particular officer. Let us take the wig and gown and knee breeches off the President, and the wigs and gowns off the Clerks. We have the Governor-General coming here in a cocked hat, and escorted by a number of men decorated with gold lace and wearing swords. If we intend to make a change, let us go the whole distance, and not confine our efforts to one officer. I have heard this attack on the office, if not on its occupant, several times, and it seems to me rather invidious and unfair that he should be picked out. I am rather in sympathy with the proposal to do away with anything in the nature of unnecessary display. But I am not prepared to begin with one individual, and to leave the others alone. To my mind, the only question is, whether this officer earns the proposed salary ; and, if the statement made by the President is right - as I have no doubt it is - he does. Therefore, I shall support the item.
– I intend to support the request, though perhaps on different grounds from other senators. The President has enumerated the duties which this officer has to perform. If the performance of those duties is worth the amount which was paid to his predecessor, he should receive the salary of £550 at once. If he is not worth that amount now, he will not be worth it in three years’ time. I object to any member of the Senate having the power to recommend an officer for an increase of ^33 6s. 8d. a year. Let the Ministry take the responsibility of recommending any increase, and do not let the recommendation come from the President. I have no personal ill-will against this officer. If he is worth a salary of £550, I am quite prepared to vote it. But I do not see why, after having acted in the position for over twelve months, he is not entitled to receive the full salary if he is entitled to receive anything. For that reason I intend to vote to strike out the item. I do not want to see a man sweated for three years, and this officer is being put in that position. It is of no use to tell us about his duties, because we all happen to know the duties of parliamentary officers. In this case we should be told straight out that the salary of .£475 a year is sufficient. It is a very fair salary, I admit. But I oppose the item on the ground that the officer should get either £550 a year or nothing. Senator Walker laughs. But he is like a good many other persons. Whenever any reform is attempted we always find gentlemen of his calibre resisting it. We must make a beginning some day. Unfortunately, in every Parliament exactly the same “cry is raised by opponents of reform, “ Oh, don’t do this or that.” But we must begin some day. In this instance I am beginning to-day. We had a decent vote to-day, and I think that if we keep on hammering away we shall in time get a vote which will put a stop to all this humbug.
– Senator Stewart is desirous of wiping out this office, for which a salary of ^475 is required, on the ground that it is a superfluity. Senator Sayers supports his request on the ground, not that it is a superfluity, but that the officer is inadequately paid. He goes further, and says that, in his opinion, the officer is sweated, while Senator Stewart is desirous of wiping out the office, on the- ground that the officer is overpaid. The main objection which has been raised to the position occupied by the officer is that his garb is of such a character that it does not please certain honorable senators. We have been informed by the President that this officer fills other positions.
– Does the honorable senator think that we do not know that?
– I put in a good deal of time in this building, but I confess that I do not know exactly what work this officer performs. It is not my business to know it. That is the business of the President.
– He is responsible for the control of the officers of the Senate.
– That is so. What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and if the President were not entrusted with this responsibility, to whom would these officers be responsible? To every member of the Senate ?
– To the various Committees.
– Then things would be in a chaotic condition. I am no lover of the frills and flummeries incidental to Parliament, but an attack appears to have been made upon this. officer, not because of the work he has to perform, but because during a certain portion of the day he occupies a certain position in this Chamber. If the office of Usher of the Black Rod is unnecessary, let us dispense with it, and not set aside this man altogether.
– What will the honorable senator vote for? I should like to pin him down to something.
– If this officer performs public duties, he is entitled to public payment. Senator Givens does not object to the office, but to the dress of the officer.
– I object to the office of Usher of the Black Rod altogether.
– But the honorable senator must remember that this officer has other duties to perform besides those attaching to the office of Usher of the Black Rod.
– Does the honorable senator think that they are worth £475 a year?
– I am not in a position to say. The President has informed the Committee that this officer performs his work satisfactorily. I do not know exactly what work he has to do.
– Then why is the honorable senator talking about it?
– Senator Stewart is always anxious to cut down the screw of every one but himself. I noticed the eagerness which he displayed to increase his own screw, and he is not satisfied now. So far, I have at least been consistent in the attitude I have taken up.
– I should not pursue that line of argument.
– Everything I have done in regard to that matter has been consistent.
– With the elections in view.
– I am prepared to face the music at any time.
– And to draw the money afterwards.
– I see no reason why we should displace an officer who has given satisfaction to the Senate. Having performed public work he is entitled to public payment. If it is considered that the office of Usher of the Black Rod is a superfluity we should abolish that office.
– That would mean only an alteration in the title of this officer.
– Previousto his appointment to his present position, this officer had a salary of£420 a year.
– It would have been better if he had continued to hold his previous office, and I think he would have been better satisfied himself.
– Senator Stewart now desires that he should be regarded as an excess officer, but, according to the President, his services are necessary.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the cowardliness of the attack upon the office of the Usher of the Black Rod.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in using the word “ cowardliness in his reference to a motion I have submitted to the Committee? I think the honorable senator should withdraw the remark.
– The honorable senator was not in order.
– I withdraw the word. Senator Stewart has made many remarks with regard to the dress of this official, but we know that either by precedentor regulation these officials are bound to wear a certain dress. In the circumstances, why on earth Senator Stewart and other honorable senators should make their remarks personal in the way they have done, I am at a loss to understand. I consider it remarkably bad form in making an attack upon an official, to hold up to ridicule the dress he wears, when we know that following custom, precedent, or regulation, he is’ forced to wear that dress. If honorable senators object to the dress of officials, they should take action in a straightforward way, and give a distinct instruction to the President and officials as to the dress which they should wear. It is remarkably bad form, and a shameful waste of time to discuss these matters in such a way.
– The honorable senator is no judge of good form. We should never think of taking him as a model.
– I do not care two straws whether the honorable senator does so or not. I certainly do not consider him a sort of Lord Chesterfield qualified to pass judgment on the manners or dress of any one in the Senate.
– Why is the honorable senator presuming to do that himself ?
– I wish, on behalf of this official, to urge that the debate should be conducted in a spirit of fair play. If it is considered that the office of Usher of the Black Rod should be abolished, let honorable senators set about the work in a straightforward way, and without the use of remarks that mast be offensive and irritating to our officers.
– I donot understand why so much heat should be introduced into the debate, or why I should be accused of having any personal animus in this matter towards the present occupant of the office of Usher of the Black Rod. I have no such feeling’. I am trying to perform what I regard as a public duty, and under very great difficulties, because I meet with but scant sympathy in quarters where I might reasonably took for different treatment. Let us analyze this item. The first position held by the officer under discussion is that of Clerk of Select Committees. It would have assisted honorable senators if the President had been able to give some information as to the number of Select Committees that have been appointed during the present financial year. I believe that there has not been one, so that the work of this officer under this head amounts to next to nothing. Then he occupies the position of Usher of the Black Rod. We know something of the duties of that office, and I want to ask honorable senators whether they think that the work performed by the Usher of the Black Rod is worth £475 a year. We know that he stands on the platform at the rear entrance to the chamber, bows,, and says, “ Gentlemen, Mr. President” at the opening of each sitting. After the President has engaged in prayer, and opened the proceedings of the Senate, the Usher of the Black Rod comes and sits in a seat opposite to where I stand.
– For how long?
– Sometimes all day.
– Never, on any occasion.
– Will the honorable senator permit me. I am running this show for the present, and I wish to run it in my own way. I ask honorable senators whether they think it necessary that we should pay a man£475 a year to announce the President and tosit in a chair here for the rest of the day.
– That is a very unfair way of putting it.
– It is not. I have asked what this officer does as Clerk of Select Committees, and, as no Select Committee has recently been appointed, he has had no work at all to do in that capacity.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it is worth£475 a year to have to accept the responsibility of throwing the honorable senator or Senator Givens out should the occasion require it?
– I think there is no likelihood of that occasion ever arising. What work has this officer to perform as Secretary to the Joint House Committee? How many meetings does this Committee hold, and for how long do they last?
– Because the honorable senator does not know what work this officer does, he wishes to abolish his office.
– I am endeavouring to tell honorable senators what he does.
– The honorable member does not know what duties the officer performs.
– I am not satisfying Senator Findley just now, and consequently he is in a bit of a temper. I am not exactly pleasing him at this moment, and therefore he is inclined to snarl a little. But I have shown that the officer whose salary is under consideration has performed no work as Secretary of Select Committees appointed by the Senate during the current financial year. I have also pointed out that he has very little work to do as Usher of the Black Rod. In his capacity as Secretary of the Joint House Committee, the President knows the amount of work that he has to perform. The President probably knows how often that Committee meets. I say that it is absolutely ridiculous - that it is a shameful waste of public money - t° Pay £475 a year to this officer for discharging these duties. I will tell honorable senators the practice which is adopted in the Legislative Council of Queensland. There the Clerk of the Council also acts as Usher of the Black Rod. The two offices are combined, and the Occupant of them is paid a salary of £400 a year. In the Legislative Assembly of Queensland there are seventy-two members, many of whom are very much more unruly than are honorable members of the Senate.
– In Queensland there is a Clerk of Parliaments, whose position is above that of Clerk of the Legislative Council.
– I do not think so. I repeat that in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, which contains seventy-two members - exactly double the number that we have here - and where it occasionally happens that members are suspended, and even expelled, the Clerk Assistant-
– Will the honorable senator excuse me for interrupting him. The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly receives a salary of £,800 a year.
– I am not talking about the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. I have pointed out that in that State the offices of Clerk of Legislative Council and Usher of the Black Rod are combined, and that the salary paid for the joint positions is ^400 a year. In the Queensland Legislative Asembly, which is composed of seventy-two members, many of whom are wild men from the west and north-
– Is it fair to make a reflection like that upon the Parliament of Queensland ?
– In the Queensland Legislative Assembly the Clerk Assistant, in addition to holding that position, fills the office of Serjeant-at-Arms, and is paid for the performance of the combined duties of the two offices .£450 a year. He occupies exactly a similar position to that held by our Clerk Assistant, but, in addition, has to discharge the duties of SerjeantatArms.
– What are the members of the Queensland Legislative Assembly paid?
– Three hundred pounds a year. In South Australia exactly the same course is adopted.
– And in the Legislative Council of South Australia the Usher of the Black Rod is also the Librarian.
– Yet here it is proposed to pay a man £475 a year, with increments up to £550, for doing work, some of which is absolutely unnecessary, whilst the remainder would probably be worth about £200 a year, or less. I have given what I regard as good and sufficient reasons why this item should be omitted, but if honorable senators wish to continue to squander the hard-earned money of the taxpayers, that is their affair, and not mine.
– I intend to vote with Senator Stewart, because, in my opinion, the duties performed by the Usher of the Black Rod are not worth the money that is provided for that officer in these Estimates. The other duties which that officer is called upon to fulfil could be discharged under the supervision of the present officers of Parliament just as statisfactorily as they are being performed to-day.
– By any young clerk.
– Yes, and at a considerable saving upon the present expenditure. My parliamentary experience has taught me that the Usher of the Black Rod is almost an unknown quantity. In the Legislative Council of South Australia, which maintains just as much dignity as does this Senate, his principal duty is dispensed with by the ringing of an electric bell. The only other duty which is discharged by our own Usher of the Black Rod consists of bearing to the other Chamber a message announcing that His Excellency the Governor-General desires the presence of its members in the Senate. That work,.- I maintain, could be equally well done by the Clerk Assistant. If the Clerks at the table require extra assistance, by all means let us provide it, but do not let us make provision for continuing the office of Usher of the Black Rod. I recognise that there is an absolute necessity for some officer to be in training to fill the positions of Clerk Assistant and Clerk of the Senate. But there is no necessity whatever to retain the office of Usher of the Black Rod.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Clerk of Select Committees, Usher of the Black Rod, and Secretary of the Joint House Committee,£475 “ - put.
The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 7
Noes … … … 20
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -There is an old saying that charity begins at home. But I think there are other virtues which we might practise, such as economy. In this connexion I wish to draw attention to item 7, which reads -
Travelling expenses, including cost of conveyance of senators’ luggage.
I venture to say that we have not the slightest justification for voting the money. I do not wish to use too strong language, but I regard the proposed vote as one to appropriate other people’s money. Why should we vote ourselves£100 for the conveyance of our luggage? Upon what ground ? Is the object in view that we may add to our parliamentary allowance, which comes in quite another category, and which is not voted in the annual Appropriation Bill ? If we carry the idea thus far,
We might just as well go a little further, and vote£100 or£500 to cover the cost of honorable senators’ lodging in Melbourne. There is an extremely narrow margin between the two things. Of course, I cannot particularize members of the Senate ; but I think that I may, without offence, speak of the representatives of the different States. Practically no portion of this£100 is spent on senators for the State of Victoria. It is hardly conceivable that any senator from that State makes any demand upon the funds. In the same way demands upon the fund are rarely made by. senators from Queensland.
– It is not worth talking about as far as they are concerned.
– Practically the vote does not apply to them. For precisely similar reasons it does not generally apply to senators from Western Australia. But it does apply to senators who travel frequently from the States of South Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania. Practically speaking, we may say that the whole of this item is devoted to the convenience of the senators from those three States.
– Not wholly.
– Surely I have been’ extremely careful to say that it does not wholly affect those three States ; but the major portion of the amount most obviously goes to provide conveniences for the senators from Tasmania, South Australia, and New South Wales.
– The Queensland senators take advantage of the convenience when they travel.
– I do not intend to enter into minute details. But I say that the principle is utterly wrong and indefensible. I do not think that we have the slightest justification for voting this amount. As we are entering upon the consideration of this Appropriation Bill with a desire to effect economies, let us start at home, and reduce amounts affecting ourselves. The very fact that the money is spent on senators from only three States - including my own - is a reason for not agreeing to it. Imagine the effect if it were published throughout the Commonwealth that we voted this money for our
– And there is a very poor attendance of some senators notwithstanding the inducement.
- Senator W. Russell can talk about the poor attendance, and if he likes to particularize senators - as I have not done - and to display bad taste which I reprehend, he is at liberty to do so. If he cares to apply his remarks to me, I am quite willing to answer him. If he applies them to other honorable senators who are not now present I say that they are cowardly and unworthy. I have refrained from referring to individuals. This is a general item which I consider to be a disgrace to the Senate. What would be said if it were placarded throughout Australia that senators vote themselves £100 to pay for their cab hire. It is, in my opinion, a disgraceful thing for senators to vote £100 for such a purpose. Their luggage should be carried at their own cost.
– And they should take plenty of time to catch their trains.
– It is the concern of honorable senators themselves if they choose to remain here. Surely Senator W. Russell does not desire to pose as such a hero for public work that he has to remain here until almost a few minutes before his train leaves, and then have his luggage conveyed to the station at the public expense. If he lives in such a rarefied atmosphere of devotion to duty as that I cannot do so. As an ordinary low-level senator, so to speak, this vote appears to me to be disgraceful.
– The honorable senator sometimes keeps us here till train-time on Fridays.
– What is the use of applying such a remark to me? What relevancy is there in it? If the honorable senator cannot make provision for conveying his own luggage to the railway station, he is a poor sort of man outside his political capacity.
– No one knows what the honorable senator will do when he starts talking.
– In all that I have said I have been careful to make no personal references. I have kept out the personal equation.
– It is all personal.
– It is not. I have been referring to the whole Senate, including myself. I have pointed out that the whole Senate votes this allowance. I have not alluded to any single senator as benefiting from it.
– But the honorable senator has made an attack upon the senators from certain States.
– Including my own.
– We do not mind the honorable senator covering himself with ignominy, but we do object to , his doing that to others.
– I pointed out how the vote affected senators from certain States, because, as Senator Millen knows, sometimes an argument that does not appear to be powerful to one’s own mind, has an unsuspected effect upon the minds of others. I might have been open to suspicion if I had not pointed out that the item mainly affects the senators from three States. But my objection to the item is one of principle, and I hope that other honorable senators will join in supporting the motion -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Travelling expenses, including cost of conveyance of Senators’ luggage, £100.”
– I had this item marked upon my copy of the Bill. Will the Minister be kind enough to tell the Committee the persons who have received the travelling expenses referred to in the item ?
– The cabbies.
– The item distinctly mentions travelling expenses, in addition to the conveyance of luggage.
– This is too paltry, altogether.
– The matter is not paltry at all. I agree with Senator Clemons that it is important. We took a division a few minutes ago in regard to an item, and a personal attack was made upon the occupant of an office who was ridiculed because of his official garb.
– I rise to order. The honorable senator has accused me and others of making a personal attack upon the Usher of the Black Rod. That statement is contrary to fact, and I hope that the honorable senator will withdraw it.
– There is no point of order; but I think it is well known that no personal attack was made upon the Usher of the Black Rod.
– I agree with Senator Clemons that, as members of Parliament are paid a certain amount per annum for the services which they render to the Commonwealth, they should not make additional demands upon the Treasury for the conveyance of their luggage at the end of the week.
– Has the honorable senator ever shared in the services rendered under this vote?
– Personally I have paid my own cab fare every time I have travelled, except on one or two occasions, when I have advantaged myself of a cab which had been brought to the front of the building for the conveyance of others. If I had not used the cab then, it would have been there just the same.
– Did the honorable senator have his luggage carried across to Sydney at his own expense when he went to the Northern Territory?
– I cannot remember for the moment, but I believe that I had my luggage taken in my own cab at my own expense. But Senator Clemons is attacking the principle of placing cabs at the disposal of honorable senators at Commonwealth expense.
– Some Parliaments provide cabs for members to go home in.
– When cabs are provided for members of this Parliament on the occasion of late sittings, they are paid for by the Ministry of the day.
– Of course they are. That is a totally different thing.
– I am not familiar with what is done in Sydney, but it is a fact that when cabs are placed at the disposal of the members of the Federal Parliament, when there is a late sitting, the fares are paid by the Ministry. I consider that we ought to set an example and wipe out this vote. If honorable senators from distant States have a large amount of personal luggage, there is no reason why the taxpayers should be called upon to pay faits conveyance. I shall support the request.
– I agree with Senator Findley and Senator Clemons, that senators who travel on Inter-State trains have no more right to have their luggage conveyed to and from the railway station at Commonwealth expense than members of Parliament have to be provided with cabs when Parliament sits late. But what is the position in regard to this vote for the conveyance of luggage? Since I have been a member of this Parliament it has been my practice never to leave the chamber until the President leaves the chair, and, except for the conveyance provided on Fridays, I should frequently have had to kick my heels around Melbourne instead of going home at the week end. .
– The honorable senator could have ordered his own cab.
– When Senator Clemons is on his feet nobody knows when he will finish. If he speaks on a Friday afternoon he may sit down at four o’clock, or he may continue till five.
– The honorable senator knows when his train goes, and can order his own cab.
– I have sat here till twenty minutes past four when my train left at twenty minutes to five, not knowing what was going to take place.
– What has that to do with it? The honorable senator can pay for his own cab.
– The Senate might sit until ten minutes before the train left for Adelaide, when there would be no time for honorable senators to arrange for their own cabs.
– That happens about twice a year.
– If Senator Clemons knew how often it happened he would change his view.
– I should not. I think that this vote is a disgrace to every one of us.
– It is very easy for the honorable senator to make such charges.
– It is cheap.
– It is cheap to pass over these small things and say “ get on to the big ones.”
– If Senator Clemons would consider the expense incurred on his travelling between Tasmania and Australia by boat, he would find that it costs more to convey him than it does to convey those who come from Sydney or Adelaide.
– Is that in any way relevant to the question?
– I think it has everything to do with the question at issue. The honorable senator has made a charge which is not justifiable.
– -I can understand the point of view of Senator Clemons; but before we come to a decision I should like to know whether he proposes to be logical and give it its full effect.
– Does the honorable senator think that I am not likely to be logical ?
– Those who, like Senator Findley, are prepared to indorsethe honorable senator’s attitude should, I think, understand the logical output of the position. I ask Senator Clemons and’ Senator Findley if they propose to go further,, and to strike out the item to pay for the railway transit of members of Parliament?
– No; because if wadid we might as well burst up the Federation.
– Do those honorable senators propose to abolish the payment of steamboat fares for those who have to cross the sea in order to get here?
– Not one of those things is provided for by any Act as legal payment for our services.
– It is understood that as soon as a man is elected to Parliament he will get a free pass over the railways.
– That was not understood in the first instance. Every year, Parliament has to vote money for the service.
SenatorPearce. - There is as much justification to pay a cab fare to the railway station as a railway fare for a member of Parliament.
– Yes., If the expenditure had been defrayed out of the vote for railway travelling, not only would there not have been a word uttered here to-day, but the opportunity for this display of oratorical fireworks would have been absent. In regard to the franking of our letters and telegrams, which is another extra, is Senator Findley prepared to quarrel with that?
– That custom has been recognised ever since we had a Parliament. This is a new custom.
– Almost from the inception of Federation this custom has been recognised. I do not want to suggest that, although the honorable senator is opposed to what is a convenience to other senators, he is an advocate of the franking of letters, which is a convenience to himself.
– We shall knock that out, too.
– I am not quarrelling with my honorable friend’s point of view that members of Parliament are elected at a salary which is known, and that it is a moral iniquity for them to take anything more.
– Does the honorable senator say that this custom has always been recognised?
– Yes, from the very early days of this Parliament.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is wrong, because I can assure him that it has crept up gradually.
– There must have been something from which to creep up.
– It shows how abuses do creep in, and if the honorable senator likes to correct himself, not me, he should look at the Estimates for 1904.
– Everything must have a beginning. For the first week or two after we assembled here, in 1901, we stamped our own letters. To my mind this custom stands on exactly the same level as the franking of our letters and the despatching of our telegrams, and, indeed, the payment of our railway fares and steamboat fares.
– : Let us wipe out the whole lot.
– The whole thing comes down to this, that if we have a right to ask the Commonwealth to pay the cost of our railway travelling, which is not covered by the Constitution-
– Keep to this item.
– I intend to keep to the item ; but I object to honorable senators trying to pose as purists as to a custom which does not convenience them, and at the same time accepting other conveniences.
– Does the honorable senator apply that remark to me? If he does, I shall give it a denial in very strong language. Surely he will withdraw it.
– I feel, sir, I must be a little more careful in the way in which I throw caps about.
– Is that the honorable senator’s answer to me ?
– Yes, to any one who likes to take it.
– Does the honorable senator refer to me?
– I speak of honorable senators posing here on this item. I want them to be logical.
– The honorable senator is shifting his ground.
– If the cap fits the honorable senator, he can wear it.
– The honorable senator has not the decency to withdraw a statement which he knows he could not possibly justify.
-If I have shown any heat, I regret it. I was making what I thought was a logical and fair appeal to those who advanced the argument that we ought not to take a conveyance provided at the public expense, that they should be logical and honest to themselves and the country by declining to take any convenience at the public expense other than that which is provided by the parliamentary allowance. When I see that they are prepared to decline to receive railway fares or steamboat fares, or other services, then I shall begin to believe that they have a legitimate claim to invite me to join with them in striking out the item.
– I wishto point out that there is some excuse for this item appearing on the Estimates. Some years ago the cabmen of this city demanded very exorbitant fares, and at that time an influential member of Parliament suggested that one general cab should be provided. I believe that was the reason why the custom was instituted. I do not intend to defend the item, because I think that members of Parliament might very well pay for these small services.
– Why should we stop at small items if we ought to pay for services ?
– That is another matter. There was some excuse for initiating the custom, and that, I understand, is why the item appears on the Estimates.
– I think that we can now see our way clear to economize very materially. For instance, we could abolish the staff of messengers. If we write a letter or a telegram it is handed to a messenger to be dealt with. We have a staff of messengers for the convenience of the Senate.
– The item of£40 for writing paper might be struck off.
– We might each buy a sixpenny packet of letter paper in the street, and economy would be carried out so rigidly that no complaint would be made outside. I do not avail myself of the cab or travelling accommodation more than about once in a session. I do not know whether it will ever save me a sixpence, but up to the present moment it has not. At the same time, I recognise that it is a great convenience to members of Parliament who reside in other States, and who, geographically speaking, are in a somewhat better situation than I am. If I could repair to my home at every week-end I should do so most willingly. I only stay here because I am compelled to do so. I think that it would be a mistake to abolish the convenience which is provided by the carrying of luggage to the railway station, unless, of course; we are prepared to adopt the suggestion of Senator Millen, and to abolish every privilege apart from cur salary; and then probably honorable senators would recognise the necessity of raising the salary to something like £1,000 a year, to enable us to pay for all these conveniences. Were they not provided at the present time, I do not know exactly the position in which some of us would be placed. I recognise that it is only fair to avoid extravagant expenditure of public money ; but when members of Parliament have to undergo so many inconveniences, I consider that this item, can be legitimately defended here. So long as I am here I shall not attempt to cut out the item, unless I am satisfied that every item of a cognate character is tobe cut out, so that every member of Parliament shall be on precisely the same footing. On one occasion a record was taken of the postage stamps supplied to honorable senators, and it was ascertained that the individual amounts for the session, varied from £1 to £15, so that greater conveniences were enjoyed by some than by others. The maintenance of this cab service enables an honorable senator to devoteto public business here time which otherwise would be expended by him in taking his luggage to the railway station or the steamboat.
– What is the use of saying that? It is utterly inaccurate.
– That is precisely the position, and, therefore, I shall oppose the request.
– I do not intend to debate the merits of thequestion which has been raised, and the sooner we go to a division the better. With respect to the item “ Travelling expenses,” let me say that when the Estimates were being made up for the first Parliament it was thought that some travelling expenses would be incurred. Honorable senators will see that votes for travelling expenses appear in the Estimates for every Department in the Public Service. Such a vote was included in the Estimates for the Senate, and it has never been eliminated, although as a matter of fact, no travelling expenses have been incurred. During the present financial year£55 of the vote has been expended on the conveyance of senators’ luggage.
– Then the reference to travelling expenses might as well be left: out.
– That is so; but it wduld be scarcely worth while to make the Alteration in these Estimates. I ask honorable senators to consent to take a division now and let us get along.
. -I just wish to say that it appears to me to be most extraordinary as well as extremely regrettable that a question of this kind cannot be raised without provoking remarks and rejoinders which are in very bad taste.
– That does not come very well from the honorable senator, who does not attend very regularly.
– What has that to do with the tone of the debate on this item ? I defy Senator W. Russell or any one else to say that there has been a personal note in any of the remarks I have made. I have been studiously careful to avoid mentioning or reflecting upon any member of the Senate.
– The honorable senator has used very strong terms towards them.
– Every term I have used applied to the Senate as a whole, and 1 carefully avoided a personal reference to any honorable senator. Without any hypocrisy I may say that I certainly expected something better from Senator Millen. I was astounded to find the honorable senator suggesting that Senator Findley and myself are posing as political purists because we can get no advantage out of this particular vote. I have had to listen to interjections from an honorable senator who sits behind me, and who has accused me of advertising , myself. I can leave it to the Committee to say whether I am in the habit of advertising myself.
– I withdraw the accusation.
– The honorable senator may withdraw it now, but he certainly repeated it ten or twenty times. The accusation is utterly contemptible, and I can afford to pass it by. I repeat that it is very regrettable that honorable senators should appear to be unable to avoid a personal note in the discussion of a matter of this kind.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “Travelling expenses, including cost of conveyance of Senators’ luggage, £100 “ - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to discuss the item “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure,£80,” in division 1, “ The Senate.” I do not know what this vote is intended to cover, but I assume that it is used to maintain the ridiculous paraphernalia and dress in which apparently the officers of the Senate are compelled to rig themselves out. I notice that the President is expected to preside in this Chamber in a ridiculous wig and gown. In fact, the only officer of the Senate who seems to be permitted to act as a sensible individual is the Chairman of Committees, who is allowed to take his chair in ordinary dress. The wig and gown of the President might have been appropriate five centuries ago. But in this twentieth century they are altogether out of place. I am satisfied that the President would prefer to take the chair in his ordinary dress. It can be no pleasure to him on a sweltering day in summer to have his head wrapped up in 5 or 8 lbs. of curled horse-hair.
– I suppose that the President pays for his own dress.
– Who pays for the ridiculous little black stick which the Usher of the Black Rod carries when he ushers in the Governor-General ?
– I suppose it is not necessary to buy a new black stick every year.
– It may be necessary to put a fresh coat of polish on it every year. I enter my protest against all this ridiculous flummery. It can be no pleasure for the Clerks to have to sit in this chamber on a sweltering day in heavy flowing gowns. They might as well wear a pair of double blankets.
– Is not the whole of this rather contemptible?
– It is contemptible that in the twentieth century we should consent to all this ridiculous flummery. Why should we not conduct the proceedings of the Senate in a sensible way?
– Some people might consider the honorable senator’s collar ridiculous.
– It is in conformity with the customs of. the society in which I live.
– Is the honorable senator in order in discussing on this item the President’s wig, and the wigs and dress of the officers of the Senate?
– Until I know what is covered by the item to which the honorable senator is addressing himself, I am unable to say whether his remarks are in order or not.
– I wish to know whether this item covers the cost of the uniforms, wigs, and ridiculous paraphernalia of the officers of the Senate.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [12.57]. - As Senator Givens has referred to what he calls the ridiculous wig worn by the President of the Senate, I may be allowed to say that the President bears the whole cost of his official dress.
– Senator Givens is aware of that.
– That may be so; but when such statements are made in this Chamber, people outside may be led to believe that there is some truth in them. No portion Of the President’s official dress is paid for by the Commonwealth. As to the purpose of the vote to which the honorable senator has directed attention, he must be aware that, in all large Departments, contingencies have to be met. The vote is used, among other purposes, to provide uniforms for the messengers, and for the cost of such requisites as typewriting machines, which have been secured at the request of honorable senators, for their convenience, and other necessary and reasonable requirements. Honorable senators will recognise that £80 is a very small vote to cover the incidental and petty cash expenditure of such a large establishment as the Senate.
– I am glad to know, on the authorityof the President, that he meets all the; expenditure necessary to provide his official dress ; but I must still expressthe opinion that it is exceedingly ridiculous.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I desire to obtain an expression of opinion from the Committee as to whether the officers of the Senate, such as the clerks at the table, the Usher of the Black Rod, and the messengers, should be burdened with uniforms, wigs, and other paraphernalia, which I regard as perfectly ridiculous. As the proposed vote of£80 covers the expenditure incurred under this heading, I intend to test the feeling of honorable senators upon it. Personally, I am strongly opposed to the wearing of uniform by any of our officers, but especially by the messengers. I claim that by putting them in uniform - just as every big nob doeshis servants - we reduce them to the level of lackeys. The practice does not accord with the democratic spirit of the Senate.I wish the Senate to resort to more sensible methods of conducting its business, and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure, £80,” by £10.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority …… 6.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to direct attention to the item in division 3, “ Parliamentary Reporting Staff, Sessional typists, at £4 10s. per week.” I understand that a desire has been expressed by some honorable senators that these officers should be secured continuity of employment. I have been assured that the typists themselves would prefer to accept even 10s. per week if they were placed upon the permanent list of public servants rather than continue at their present salary of £4 10s. per week whilst the Houses are in session. Of course, it may be urged that only limited employment can be provided for these men whilst Parliament is in recess. But I would point out that they are not ordinary typists, but men who represent the very best class of operators to be found in our cities.
– They are fairly well paid when they are working.
– They are quite willing to accept a substantial reduction in their salaries if continuity of employment be secured to them.
– There is nothing for them to do during the recess.
– I understand that work can be found for them. Seeing that the very best class of typists are required in connexion with the transcription of our Parliamentary Debates, it seems rather hard that they should be employed only for a certain number of months during the year. In view of the large number of Departments which are under the control of the Commonwealth, it ought to be easy to provide them with constant employment. I understand that they are willing to accept a reduction of £1 per week in their salaries if they are placed upon the permanent staff, and I think that the Government ought to consider whether something cannot be done for them.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.26]. - The matter to which the honorable senator has alluded was brought before Mr. Speaker in the other House, and he promised to consult with me with a view to seeing if any recommendation in favour of providing the typists in question with permanent employment could be made. Upon making inquiry, we found that there are six sessional typists employed at a salary of £4 10s. per week. Their salaries average about ^170 or ;£i8o a year. During recess, they are perfectly free to enter into any engagements that they choose, and if their services during the previous session have been of a satisfactory character, they are always re-employed if they are willing to re-engage. But, during the recess, there is not sufficient in their own class of work to keep them employed, and, as a result, they would - if appointed permanently - really be idle during that period. Of course, if they were appointed to the permanent staff, they would be precluded from accepting outside work.
– I understand that there is not one of them who is not an expert shorthand writer, in addition to being a skilled typist.
– We are not discussing the question of whether they are expert shorthand writers, but of whether it is desirable that they should be appointed to the permanent staff. The honorable senator has suggested that there are other Departments in which their services might be utilized during the recess. Upon this point, the Public Service Commissioner has been consulted, and he reports that in response to previous communications on this subject, very little work of the nature in question could be found in the Departments for parliamentary typists, the clerical staffs, including typists, who in ordinary circumstances are not in need of relief, being quite able to cope even with many of the exceptional demands made upon their services. So that, from the departmental point of view, there would be no advantage in transferring these typists to the permanent staff. Nor do I think it is desirable, in their own interests, that they should be permanently appointed at a salary of £i&o a year. It is very necessary that they should be very expert typist, and, with that object in view, an effort has always been made to secure the most efficient men offering. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has informed me that he experiences no difficulty in obtaining typists of this character. Whenever vacancies occur, the practice is to fill them ‘by drawing in turn upon the different States. The Department has carefully abstained from keeping these positions open only to applicants from a particular State. I mention this matter, because it is desirable that honorable senators should know the plan which has been followed. I believe that the last typists appointed were secured .from Adelaide. Previously they had been obtained from Sydney. Although the mat1ter has not been formally settled, I maysay that, after consulting with Mr. Speaker and the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, it does not seem to me that the present position would be improved, from the stand-point of efficiency, by the appointment of permanent typists.
– With regard to the vote of £1,800 in division 4, “The Library,” for “Books and book-binding, including insurance against fire,” I wish to ask whether it is true that an alteration is proposed to be made in the present system affecting the privilege of members of this Parliament to borrow books from the Library ? I understand that the Government contemplate stopping or curtailing the present privilege. Whether it is intended to save money I do not know ; but if there is to be an alteration, I should like to know the reason for it. It is a great convenience to honorable senators to be able to take from the Library standard works having reference to questions under consideration by Parliament. It will be a disadvantage if we are deprived of the opportunity of studying those works at home, and have to come to the Library every time we want to look at them.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales)[2.33]. -I do not know whether Senator St. Ledger alludes to light literature or standard literature.
– Given a strict interpretation, the vote of£1,800 for books and book-binding is, in the opinion of the Library Committee, intended for the purchase of books to be added permanently to the Library. That view being taken, the question arose as to whether any portion of that sum should be spent on the purchase of books which are not intended to be added to the Library, but which belong to the class of light literature. As a rule, books of that character are supplied to us at an agreed price. We keep them for six months, and then they are repurchased from us at9d. per volume. We pay 2s. or more per volume for the books in the first instance. Personally, I have always regarded light literature as being of considerable service to members of Parliament, who have to travel to and from Melbourne in the Inter-State trains. Many complaints have been made as to the class of books obtained in this way, and when we inquired as to obtaining a more expensivetype of book, we found that the extra expense would be considerable - over 50 per cent., in fact. The Committee deliberated, and the decision was that the present arrangement should be continued until after the recess, and a request was made to the Government to place a sum upon the Estimates for the acquisition of books which are not intended to be added to the permanent library. It will be open to honorable senators to say whether they desire the continuance of the convenience which they have hitherto enjoyed; but until honorable senators have had an opportunity of expressing their opinion, it is proposed to continue the present system. Another question relative to the Library is this. There are certain reference books as to which the rule has been that they shall not be removed from the Library. The reason for that is that they should always be available for the use of the members of this Parliament.
– That rule has not always been observed.
– Unfortunately the rule has not been adhered to strictly, and the Committee have given instructions to the Librarian that it is to be strictly enforced in future. An exception has, however, been made to the rule. We possess a number of books relating to constitutional law, and particularly embodying and discussing decisions given by the Courts in the United States. As honorable senators are aware, American decisions are in many instances pertinent to points of law arising in our own High Court. At present the Library of the High Court does not embrace the whole of the valuable works possessed by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. Consequently the Judges have been in the habit of sending to the Library to obtain the loan of such books as it might be necessary for them to consult before giving judgment. The Library Committee considered that it was wise to permit such books to be borrowed by the Judges as long as a written request for the loan of any particular work was sent. The Committee were largely actuated by the consideration that the judgments of the High Court affect the public interest to such an important degree that it is desirable that every facility should be given to the Judges to consult works dealing with constitutional questions. Until the High Court Library is fully supplied with the necessary works, we consider that if there is any book in our Library whichthe Judges would like to see the public interest demands that it should be lent to them. I have no doubt, however, that steps will be taken by the Government to supply the necessary funds in order that all books which ought to be in the High Court Library shall be furnished.
– I might mention that a petition was forwarded to the Library Committee by members of both Houses of this Parliament asking the Committee to continue the system of lending out books to honorable senators. Those who wish the system to continue will, I hope, support the Committee in their request for an additional £100.
– I am not aware as to whether the rule referred to by Senator Gould affects ordinary books or simply works of fiction?
– There is no change in the practice with regard to ordinary works.
. -I am not quite clear as to whether the Library Committee have given to the Judges of the High Court the right to remove books from the Parliamentary Library, and to keep them for any length of time. I point out that these are standard works, which may be required by members of Parliament. I consider that a rule ought to be made to insure that books which are borrowed by the Judges shall not be kept by them for an unreasonable time.
– Hear, hear.
– The rule should be that works of reference should not be removed from the Library under any circumstances. If a member of this Parliament wished to consult a book dealing with American constitutional law he might find that it had been removed for the use of the High Court. Steps should be taken to furnish the High Court with its own Library.
– There is an extra sum of £200 on these Estimates for that purpose, being £100 more than last year’s vote.
– I hope that the Library Committee will bear in mind that the first right to standard works in the Parliamentry Library is that of members of Parliament, and not to Judges of the High Court. If any books are required by members of Parliament, and have been borrowed by the Judges, they should at once be returned.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.42]. - It is not intended that books shall be kept for an unlimited time by the Judges. It is intended that they shall be borrowed to enable the Judges to perform their duties more efficiently. The members of the Committee are fully seized of the necessity of safeguarding the books lent to the fullest extent.
– I take it that division 6, “ Water power for Parliament House,” covers the supply of water to the urinals and other conveniences at Parliament House. Changes have recently been made affecting the draining of the building. So far as concerns the supply of water to the urinals on the floor on a level with this chamber, I consider that the new system is less satisfactory than the old one. It may be economical, but there is not the slightest doubt that the place opposite the lavatory is inclined to smell more than it did before the structural alterations were made - and that is saying a good deal. I am not prepared to ask the Government to have the system altered, but I do not think that we can be very well satisfied with the new plan under which you press a knob and water does not come. At any rate,some improvement should be made, so that when the knob is pressed water may come.
– Under the head of Joint House Committee I notice an item of£110 for a lift attendant. Apparently he has received that amount before. I have not made any inquiries into his antecedents, but I understand he has been employed in this capacity for six or seven years? I desire to know the process by which he can hope to look for promotion. Is he to remain always as lift attendant unless he severs his connexion with Parliament House and looks for employment in another direction ? Is he to remain here as lift attendant until he grows grey-haired, and is pensioned off under the old-age pensions system ? Every youth who enters the parliamentary service should be able to look forward to reasonable promotion, if he does his work properly and behaves himself. I suppose that this youth is now twenty-six or twentyseven years of age. I shall be glad if the Minister can explain whether such an employe has any possible opportunity of getting promotion here.
– Honorable senators are aware that the staff under the immediate control of the President and the Speaker is limited, and that in such circumstances the opportunities of advancement are few. A position is always accepted with the knowledge that the possibility of advancement is extremely limited. The lift attendant is receiving the minimum wage laid down in the Public Service Act, but I am not going to say whether that is sufficient. I am sure that honorable senators will not say that the working of the lift requires very great skill on the part of the attendant.
– Have any additional messengers been -appointed since he has been working the lift?
– That is a question which the President can answer. I should take it that if a vacancy were to occur the President and the Speaker would promote this young fellow, and engage another young fellow as lift attendant. But a vacancy must be a rare thing, because the staff is very small.
Senator Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.48]. - So far as I can judge, the only promotion open to this young man is to the position of a cleaner or a messenger. If any position for which he was eligible became vacant his claim would be carefully considered. There would be no desire on the part of either Mr. Speaker or myself to introduce a stranger to fill any position to which he could fairly and reasonably expect promotion. But as the Minister has pointed out, the opportunities for promotion are very limited, while possibilities of exchange from one Department to another are very remote.
– Last year £180 was voted for incidental expenses, but nothing was spent; and this year we are asked to vote *£160. I should like to be furnished with some information as to the reason for the increased vote.
Proposed vote agreed to.
External Affairs : Secretary - Honorary Ministers’ Expenses - Commonwealth Offices, London : Captain Collins - Papua - Immigration Restriction Act - Literary Fund - Advertising the Commonwealth - Repatriation of Pacific Islanders - Congress of Chambers of Commerce : Press Representation.
Divisions n to 16 (Department of External Affairs), £75,442.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Secretary, ^900,” by £100.
When it was proposed some time ago to raise the salary of this officer from j£750 to £800, I moved a request to restore the former amount, believing that his services would always be fairly well remunerated at that salary. But the Senate did not see eye to eye with me and voted £800. On this occasion we are asked to vote £900. It is very strange that large increments should be submitted in the Estimates without any statement as to an increase of duties or responsibilities. Because that officer has been in an office for a certain number of years, quite irrespective of whether it demands any higher remuneration, he is put down for .an increase of £100 a year. It does appear as though £100 was a mere nothing. At the same time, we are cavilling about the difficulties of our financial position. Every speaker on finance during the last two days has alluded to an extreme moment when we shall not know which way to turn in order to obtain the funds with which to meet our liabilities. Nevertheless, we are asked, without any reason assigned, to increase a salary of £800 by £100. If an increase of £,S°> 0r £&o, or even £100, had been proposed for some of the officers who are being paid at the rate of £150, I do not know that I should have raised my voice in opposition ; but when I notice that a man who is working for £2 or £3 a week is an unconsidered quantity so far as theseEstimates are concerned, while a man with a salary of £800, whether his services are very great or very small, is set down, without rhyme or reason, for an increase ot £100, I begin to question the wisdom of the proposal. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I think it is fair to assume that the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs is excellently remunerated at a salary of £800. if, of course, it could be shown that his services are of such great value to the Commonwealth as to demand higher remuneration, I do not know that T should offer any particular objection; but, in all the circumstances, I believe that he is amply paid for every service he renders with a salary of £800, and, therefore, I submit this request, hoping that it will be carried.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria) [2.58]. - I regret very much that Senator Henderson has seen fit to submit the request. He said that, if he could be assured that the services of this officer warranted the proposed increase, he would adopt a different tone. The increments proposed for this officer, and other heads of Departments, were considered very carefully and thoughtfully by the members of the late Government. The ex-Prime Minister, under whom this officer worked for many years, might be regarded as the most capable judge of his merits. He was so impressed with the ability, conscientiousness, and deservedness of the Secretary, that he recommended that his salary should be increased by £100.
– It is not a question of the officer, but a question of the office.
– Precisely, and the office should be filled efficiently.
– Do not pile it on too strongly, else the honorable senator may hear something unpleasant.
– The honorable senator is talking of something concerning which he knows very little. On some subjects he may know a great deal, but on this subject he knows very little.
– I have seen it.
– Has the honorable senator ever worked with this officer ?
– No, but I know that when he should have been at work he was not.
– That was a most improper remark for the honorable senator to make. The Secretary has done his duty well and conscientiously. He has given complete satisfaction to every Minister under whom he has worked. He is a barrister by profession. Our aim should be to fill our high offices with the best men who can be secured for the purposes of the Commonwealth. Otherwise, we may be sure that the duties will not be discharged with the ability and conscientiousness which we desire.
– Was the Commonwealth ransacked for the best man when this officer was appointed ?
– Having secured the best men, their merits and services should be adequately recognised.
– But surely honorable senators may differ on the point?
– I am not complaining of that. Senator Henderson asked me to give some evidence to justify the proposed increase in the salary of this officer. I have given the testimony of the late Prime Minister, who gave the members of his Government the assurance that this officer’s merits did warrant the proposed increase. What I have said with respect to this officer I shall be prepared to repeat concerning Mr. Garran, Colonel Miller, and Mr. Allen. Any one who has come into contact with these officers must be satisfied as to their efficiency, zeal, and anxiety to do justice to the important positions which they hold. It is unreasonable to suggest that, whilst increases are proposed to the heads of Departments, officers occupying more humble positions have been, neglected. I hope that Parliament will always be anxious to do justice to every one in the Public Service, no matter what position he holds. If Senator Henderson can bring under notice a case in which an officer occupying a humble position in the service is not receiving justice, I will say that that case should receive every consideration.
– Why was not the same alacrity displayed to do justice to the officers in the humble positions?
– That is hardly fair. The honorable senator is aware that honorable senators generally have always shown anxiety to do justice to those filling the humbler positions in the public service.
– The honorable senator must know that a man getting £1 50 a year is more in need of a rise than one getting £800 a year.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the man getting £150 a year would be dear at the money if he was not equal to the performance of the duties intrusted to him. We have made provision for a minimum salary of £110 for officers who have reached 21 years of age, and if Senator Henderson can show that an officer receiving , £150 per annum is deserving of increasecl payment, I shall admit that his case is entitled to the fullest consideration.
– The Governmertt at the present time are offering 7 s. a day to storemen in the Customs Department in North Queensland.
– I rose, at the request of Senator Henderson, to give evidence to justify the proposed increase to this officer. I have given the testimony of the late Prime Minister, and I impress upon the Committee the necessity of securing and retaining in the service the best men we can possibly secure for these important positions.
– I hope that honorable senators will give fair consideration to the position of the Secretary to the Minister of External Affairs. This officer has not had an increase of salary’ for some years. It does not matter in what capacity a man is employed by the Commonwealth, if he is to render diligent and faithful service he should be given some hope of reward.
– What hope of reward has the lift attendant to whom I have referred ?
– Every one must acknowledge that the work of the External Affairs Department, as well as every other Department of the Commonwealth Public Service, is growing, and must continue to grow. With respect to lift attendants and men occupying similar positions in the service, I believe that the Estimates for past years, as well as those now under consideration, disclose the fact that they have been very fairly considered. I might inform Senator Chataway that last year £54,000 was distributed as increments of salary to officers in the humbler grades of the service, and this year it is proposed to distribute . £10,000 in the same way. I am satisfied that these officers deserve the increases granted to them. The increases proposed in these Estimates for officers of the administrative staffs total no more than £400. It is not fair for honorable senators to be mean in dealing with such a matter. If a proposal were made involving the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds, honorable senators would have something to talk to the country about ; but it is hardly fair that this increase should be opposed in the way in which some honorable senators are opposing it. I agree to a very great extent with what has been said by Senator Best as to the merits of the officer filling the position of Secretary to the External Affairs Department at the present time. I have always found him courteous and willing to give information, and to assist those visiting his office to carry out the object they have in view. If there is an office in the service requiring high qualifications in the man called upon to fill it, it is the office of Secretary to the External Affairs Department.
– That is why we pay the officer £800 a year.
– Such an officer must possess great ability and discretion. He has to keep the secrets of the Government and the Department to which he is attached, and, so far as I can learn, not the slightest suspicion has been cast upon the officer now holding the position, as to the way in which he has performed his duties during his term of service. The External Affairs Department has charge of communications with the rest of the world, and I understand that it is the experience of the late Minister of External Affairs, as well as of the present Minister, that in connexion with the correspondence between the Commonwealth and the outside world, the officer occupying this position has displayed great efficiency. It is all very well to say that officers receiving £150 a year should receive greater consideration. I have always contended that the men receiving the lower salaries are entitled to every consideration ; but, when we come to deal with officers occupying important positions, we should recognise that a false step or injudicious action on their part might involve the Commonwealth, in enormous expenditure, the cause of which might escape the attention of the public and of Parliament. Members of the Senate should recognise, as honorable members elsewhere have done, that the men occupying such positions should be given some little encouragement to faithfully perform the duties of their office.
– The Government are following the bad example set them by previous Governments, not only of the Commonwealth, but of the States of Australia, in displaying a remarkable alacrity to grease the fat pig.
– The honorable senator might be a “fat pig” himself some day.
– If I am I shall not require any greasing. I do not hold the present Government responsible for these increases. They have accepted a position which has been forced upon them owing to the late period of the session at which they assumed office. I am satisfied that if they had had time to prepare Esti- mates for themselves, they would have adopted a different policy. I have no wish, in dealing with this matter, to refer personally to the officer who occupies the position of Secretary to the External Affairs Department ; but when we are told that we require in such an officer great discretion and ability, my reply is that that is what we are paying . £800 a year for. If we wish to secure a figurehead for the position, we should be able to get one for much less than £800 a year.
– The honorable senator does not wish to be characterized as a. public sweater?
– I am quite certain that no one will characterize me as a public sweater when I am prepared to vote for a salary of £800 a year for the performance of the duties attached to this office. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council talks of sweating I remind him that at the present time, the Government are calling for applications for storemen in the Customs Department in North Queensland at 7s. per day, when private firms offer for similar positions£3 10s. and £4 per week ; and labourers employed by the Harbor Trust and municipalities at the place to which I refer receive 9s. per day. The honorable senator suggests that I may be called a public sweater, if I refuse an increase of £100 a year to an officer who is already in receipt of£800 a year, I should like the Government to exhibit the same solicitude for the welfare of officers in the lower grades of the service that they display for those in the higher grades. The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated a few minutes ago that the sum of £54,000 had been provided for increments to the paid officers of the service. But that amount represents only statutory increments, and when we bear in mind that there are many thousands of officers in our Public Service it at once becomes apparent that that amount represents a mere trifle. In the present instance, however, we are dealing with an officer who is fairly well paid, and whose duties are not too strenuous. He is already receiving £800 a year. We have been told that for a number of years he has been waiting for an increase. May I point out that he has onlv been in the service for seven years, and that at the end of the first three years of his service his salary was increased. Yet there are officers in receipt of £100 and £200 a year who have not had an increment for twenty years. I think that I have said sufficient to show that in the granting of these increments no system has been followed. What reason is there for singling out for large increments a few officers who are at the top of the tree, whilst ignoring the claims of the great majority of our public servants? I hope that in justice to the entire service the Committee will see that this system of extending generosity to a few favoured individuals is nipped in the bud.
– In discussing this question I think it is desirable that we should obtain a correct view of the importance to Australia of the Department of External Affairs. If honorable senatorswill look at the Estimates they will see that the work of that Department touches a great many matters of vital importance to the Commonwealth. For instance, it has to administer the Immigration Restriction Act, the mail services to the New Hebrides, and the South Sea Islands generally are under its control, as is also the administration of Papua. The affairs of Papua alone occupy its attention to a very considerable extent. The work that has to be performed in connexion with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act is very great, and the officer who is in charge of the Department must have gained a great deal of experience during the eight years that have elapsed since his appointment. Consequently his services ought to be much more valuable to Australia to-day than they were formerly. Personally I have always found Mr. Atlee Hunt careful, attentive, and a master of the work which he has to perform, and I think that the increment proposed is only a reasonable recognition of merit.
– I might have voted for this increase if certain matters had not come under my notice which cause me to doubt the wonderful capability of this officer - the capability which he was alleged to possess the very moment he was appointed to his present office, although he had never previously been suspected of it. If I could be convinced that he possesses that capability I should probably vote for the proposed increase. But I entertain very serious doubts as to whether it is wise for us to authorize the payment of an increment in his case, and also as to whether he deserves it. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has urged, as one of the strongest claims of this particular officer, that he is able to hold his tongue. If the possession of that qualification constitutes a claim for advancement, it appears to me that the greatest dullard in the community would be entitled to a far larger salary than Mr. Atlee Hunt.
– If I may be permitted to quote Scripture, “ Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, seemeth wise.”
– I grant that this officer frequently appears to be wise. But does he hold his tongue? Last year, when he was in London, whither he had accompanied the then Prime Minister, he allowed himself to be interviewed. That interview forms the subject of an article by Mr. Murray Eyre, which was published in the Pall Mall Gazette.
– I believe that the Pall Mall Gazette is the great Tory organ of England.
– It may be a Tory organ, or it may be an organ of the workers. The article in question was republished in the newspapers of Australia. In the course of that article, Mr. Eyre, in speaking of the Northern Territory, says -
Discussing with me when he was in London for the Conference the possible methods of developing the Northern Territory and the best means of utilizing its rich alluvial tracts, Mr. Atlee Hunt said that they proposed to attract people by free grants of land, and that the chief industries would be the pastoral and dairying. “Will not tropical agriculture be encouraged ?” I asked. “ No,” he replied. “ That would mean something akin to slave labour, impossible to admit amongst a people who hope to build up a free, white nation.”
Evidently honorable senators opposite who interject “ Hear, hear,” think that we cannot have tropical agriculture in Australia withouthaving a slave race amongst us. Personally I believe that we can. Just about the period that Mr. Atlee Hunt was being interviewed, Mr. Deakin, in addressing the Colonial Conference, after having dealt at length with the conditions of labour in the Queensland sugar plantations, and after having replied to the circular which was issued by the Immigrants Information Office, London, spoke of the ability of white men to work in tropical industries as follows -
They can work, not only with the black man, but as has always been the case in our experience, they can beat the Chinaman out of the field in cane cutting in any climate in Australia.
Thus we have Mr. Atlee Hunt declaring that we cannot have a tropical agriculture in Australia unless we have a slave race, and Mr. Deakin simultaneously claiming that, given reasonable wages, white men can do the work required in our cane-fields. That is an instance in which unfortunately Mr. Hunt did not hold his tongue. To my mind it is complete evidence that that officer, to whom we are now asked to grantan increase of £100, should be allowed to remain at his handsome salary of £800 per annum until he has learned to hold his tongue. I may perhaps be pardoned for referring to the appalling muddling that has characterized the action which has been taken in connexion with the land scandals in Papua. We know perfectly well that the officer at the head of this Department is expected to act as a guide to Ministers. Yet in connexion with the scandals to which’ I have alluded, letters which have been written one day, have had to be contradicted the next - a position of affairs which, must be very humiliating to the Commonwealth Government and to members of thisParliament who have had to back up the Ministry in the very devious course of action it has pursued, owing to the incompetence of the head of this Department. But even if Mr. Atlee Hunt could hold his tongue, there are times when it would have been better that he should not have done so, but when he should have used it for the benefit- of Australia. I refer particularly to an occasion in 1904, when I was* the humble instrument who directed the attention of the Queensland Government, and through it, of the Federal Government, to the undoubted evidence which existed! that Chinese were being surreptitiously introduced into Australia, despite the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I am not in a position to say what occurred1 between the Queensland Government and1 the Federal Government during the ensuing two years. But at the beginning of last year I made it my business to lay exactly the same position before Mr. Atlee Hunt in his own office. He said that what I represented might have been true in the past ; but he was perfectly satisfied that it was not true now. Talking about the improper landing of Chinese in the Far North, he set forth, in a marvellously intelligent explanation, that the viciousness of the savage blacks there was such that they would never allow a Chinaman to land. Since this occurred, further inquiries have been made, and at this very moment the Government have a Bill on the stocks to enable - them to make further efforts to deal with the illicit importation of coloured aliens. Consequently, after four years, the permanent head of the External Affairs Department has had to admit that what he was told four years ago and two years ago, and then denied, is true. I propose to say no more on the subject. I am not going behind any man’s back in saying that, in my opinion, the Secretary of the Department should not receive an increase in his salary. I do not say that because I think that, under all circumstances, a higher salary should not be paid to the Secretary of the Department. I should be prepared to pay more to a perfectly competent officer. But I do not believe, from the evidence before me, that this officer is competent enough to merit an increase in his salary, and I have reasonable doubts as to whether he is competent to earn the salary that he is now receiving.
– I wish to say, in reply to the remarks of Senator Chataway, that there was nothing detrimental to the Northern Territory, or to any other portion of Australia, in the newspaper extract which he read.
– It is detrimental if Mr. Atlee Hunt said that the Northern Territory could not be developed without slave labour.
– What Mr. Atlee Hunt said, according to the extract, was that the Northern Territory was suitable for pastoral and dairying purposes ; and then he was asked by the writer, whoever he may be, “ What about tropical agriculture?” Mr. Atlee Hunt said, as I gathered, that the Government had no intentions in connexion with tropical agriculture, as they meant to maintain the principle of a White Australia. Exactly what that meant I am not sure. There are a hundred and one tropical industries that might have been in Mr. Atlee Hunt’s mind at the time. But I always entertain some doubt about the accuracy of interviews with public men which are printed either in England or in Australia. Even if Mr. Atlee Hunt said what was represented, he might have had in his mind some of the industries carried on in China or India, which there is no probability of introducing into any part of Australia. I do not believe that Mr. Atlee Hunt had any idea of alluding to the sugar industry, or any other industry, conducted in Queensland. Senator Chataway seems to be almost exasperated because the Secretary of the Department did not agree with something that he said two years ago concerning the introduction of Asiatic aliens into North Queensland. I should like the position tobe clearly understood. I do not suppose that there will.be any great anxiety on the part of Chinamen to land in those parts of Australia where the aboriginals are numerous and savage. But we have had evidence of the surreptitious entry of Chineseinto Australia, not in the Far North, but in. Brisbane, Sydney, and Fremantle. I do not suppose that Mr. Atlee Hunt had any knowledge of these practices at the time he was interviewed. The fact of the entry of the Chinese is only becoming public property now. I hope thi, the practice will be stopped, ind I am quite sure that the Secretary of External Affairs is anxious toassist in stopping it.
– If the payment of an extra ^£100 to Mr. Atlee Hunt would stop the importation of Chinese, I should be satisfied.
– The extra £too is to be paid in recognition of the services of the officer and the importance of the office. Since I spoke in reply to Senator Givens, I have made further inquiries, and find that the ,£10,000 which I stated was to be paid in increments this year in the lower’ grades of the service relates to officers receiving under £iSo a year. As far as the whole service is concerned, the increments amount to over ^26,000 on the present Estimates. This fact shows that the services of officers in the lower grades are being recognised. I do not think, therefore, that we should resist this small increase of £100 for an officer whose services are expected to be of some value to the Commonwealth.
– I shall vote against the increase of salary to the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, and do not like to do so without stating my reasons. I concur very largely in the reasons given by Senator Chataway. It is, of course, quite possible that the statements published by a newspaper interviewer in london did not accurately represent Mr. Atlee Hunt’s opinion. If the Minister is prepared to give us an assurance that the statements published bv the Pall Mall Gazette were never made bv Mr. Atlee Hunt, I shall be glad. But I look upon the statement as it stands as a most ignorant reflection on conditions in Queensland. I think we are justified in censuring an officer who would make such a statement.
– Surely the honorable senator would not condemn a man on the strength of a newspaper report?
– If we have an assurance that the report is- incorrect, the statements made may be withdrawn. But the Pall Mall Gazette is a well-known journal, which is not addicted to manufacturing sensational statements. Not only did Mr. Atlee Hunt, as reported in this newspaper, cast a reflection on Queensland, but, apparently, a most unfortunate utterance was made by the ex-Prime Minister at the Colonial Conference. Sir James Mackay, when dealing with the navigation proposal^, quoted Mr. Deakin as saying that the tropical conditions of labour in “Queensland would probably be found to be similar to those in India, and that white men would not be able to do certain work, which in India was done by Hindoos. It ls quite true that Mr. Deakin afterwards made some remarks in which he explained his position. But I think it is unfortunate that Sir James Mackay derived his impression from what the ex-Prime Minister said, and Mr. Deakin’s own explanation, as reported in the minutes of the Conference, was unfortunate as affecting Queensland. We have repeatedly, on the floor of the Senate, as well as outside, corrected the false impressions created through the assertions of influential men about Queensland.
– Sir James Mackay knows as much about Queensland as anyone. He is the Chairman of the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company.
– I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that, however well informed Sir James Mackay may be, I know rather more about tropical Queensland than he does. What he said about tropical conditions in that State was a gross misrepresentation. The position as to the influx of aliens, and especially of Chinese, has not been properly understood by the Commonwealth Government. When the position was put to the officials of the External Affairs Department, they always assumed that their machinery for excluding the Chinese from Australia was so superior that the’ Asiatics could not come. When reports, and sometimes statistics, vere shown to the Commonwealth officials indicating an influx equal to what was going on before Federation,, they refused to believe it, and made a comparison based on the assumption that the Queensland Government before Federation connived at the introduction of Chinese. The representations made were set on one side, r.nd not attended to as they ought to have been.
– If any Department is to blame, it is the Trade and Customs Department, not the External Affairs Department.
– No. I think that the latter is primarily responsible, because it has had a great deal to do with the exclusion of them by means of an education test.
– But Customs officers do the work.
– At any rate, all the judicial proceedings which have arisen out of the Immigration Restriction Act have passed through the Department of External Affairs, which I hold responsible. About four or five years ago, this question called for a great deal of consideration in Queensland. I happened to be present at an interview which had been arranged by the Minister of the Crown with on-i of the largest planters in Queensland for the purpose of discussing a probable influx of Chinese. The planter said: “We do not want to get Chinese into this country. We should prefer to have the white man all the time, because, economically, he is, as a rule, the best of all labour. But we cannot get him, ‘ ‘ and they were forced to use the kanakas they could get until they were finally deported. The planter in question made a remarkable statement to me. He said : “ If we wanted to get Chinese in today, we could.” I pointed out to him the difficulty under the Immigration Restriction Act, and also the precautions which previously had been taken. “ In my opinion,” he replied, “ they are not worth the paper on which they are written “ ; and he gave me his assurance that if he wanted 1,000 Chinese labourers he could, by writing to a certain quarter, have them delivered at a certain time almost like bales of goods. “ But,” he added, “it would be ruinous to try to get Chinese labour so long as there was a possibility of getting white labour.” At that time, the planters were endeavouring as far as they could to look for white labour in every direction to supplant the labour of the kanakas, which had been displaced by our legislation. These facts were related to the Department of External Affairs. Whether it is strictly responsible or not, I am not going to consider at this moment, but it was informed of the facts, and they were practically laughed out of court. That shows a want of both attention and vigilance on the part of the officers of the Department regarding a most important subject, which, at any rate, requires some reflection, and it calls for some censure or remonstrance on the part of the Senate.
Question- That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Secretary,£900,” by£100 (Senator
Henderson’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
.- I should like to get an explanation regarding the item of £100 for official expenses of Honorary Ministers.
– This item has been usually put on the Estimates, in case it might be necessary for an Honorary Minister to pay an official visit to a particular place on behalf of the Government or the Commonwealth. I may add that last year £72 was spent out of the vote.
.- I desire to make a few remarks regarding the method of conducting the offices of the Commonwealth in London, for which we are asked, in division 13, to vote . £2,350. No provision is made there for the principal representative of the Commonwealth. His salary - and perhaps other expenses in connexion with the representation of the Commonwealth in London - is charged to the Defence Department. Although he has to do work in connexion with that Department in London, I do not think it will be contended that his salary is properly chargeable to it. We should be able to see at a glance what the representation of the Commonwealth costs. We can have no adequate idea of what it costs, unless the whole of the proposed expenditure is submitted to us under one heading. I protest against this irregular method of conducting the affairs of the Commonwealth. The Defence Department should not be charged with the salary of Captain Collins, while he is representing the Commonwealth in London. We ought to have a statement from the Ministry that that undesirable arrangement will not be continued.
– I believe that every one agrees. to some extent with what Senator Givens has said ; but we must have some regard to the circumstances out of which the present position arose. I believe that Captain Collins was sent to London with the idea of attending to matters in connexion with the Defence Department; but there has been delay in the introduction of a Bill for the appointment of a High Commissioner, and the organization of an establishment in London. We do not desire to take any step which’ might hamper the High Commissioner when he is appointed in the selection of his staff.. It was thought that it would be a convenient thing to get Captain Collins to represent the Commonwealth while he wasin London. Every one must acknowledge that he has done fairly well in the position. His salary is still paid by the Defence Department, but an allowance of £150 is voted for the External Affairs Department, to cover his expenses in connexion with the representation of the Commonwealth. I hope - and so do my colleagues -that when the next Estimates are submitted, something will have been done to allocate the expenditure in a different manner. The probability is that the Commonwealth offices will then have beenorganized in a systematic way. The occupancy of the temporary position will give Captain Collins no preferential claim to any office under the High Commissioner. We have merely continued what has been the practice. I do not think that we can do anything else but pass the item, and” afterwards, the Government will see whether something cannot be done to organize the London offices properly.
– The position of affairs with regard to the representation of the Commonwealth in London is entirely unsatisfactory, as it has been for a very long time. I feel sure that things will be allowed to drift. The man, whoever he may be, who acts as the representative of the Commonwealth in London, is ridiculously remunerated at £150 a year. On the other hand, it is improper and wrong to pay any person, whether he be Captain Collins or any one else, £900 a year as Secretary for Defence, while he is, as he has been for years, out of the Commonwealth. I venture to say that no one could justify these positions. Something is utterly wrong with regard to our representation in London, and also with regard to our Defence Department.
– If we take his name out of the Defence Department and include it in the vote for the London Offices of the Commonwealth, shall we not thereby be practically appointing him Secretary to the Commonwealth Offices in London?
– That is certainly the last thing I should wish to do by my vote.
– We should also be prejudicing his position in the Defence Department.
– The matter is dealt with in the way proposed in the Estimates in order to avoid that.
– Which is to be sacrificed, the interests of the Defence Department or the representation of the Commonwealth in London? No member of the Committee can defend the position that the Secretary to the Defence Department should be paid £900 a year and live all the time in London.
– Is any one filling the office of Secretary to the Defence Department in the Commonwealth?
– Yes; Mr. Pethebridge.
– Then the arrangement is most unfair to him.
– Of course it is; but we cannot overcome the difficulty until we establish a High Commissioner’s staff in London.
– I should liketo ask Senator Pearce what is precisely the value of the services which Captain Collins renders in London at the present time. Is he wanted there? What important work does he discharge there for the Commonwealth ? What is there to warrant his continuance in his present position ? I think there is very little, but there is certainly every reason why the Defence Department, the condition of which is as chaotic now as it was seven years ago, should have the services of a Secretary resident in Australia. Although I dislike it intensely, I cannot avoid some personal references in connexion with this matter. I say, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that the contingency of Captain Collins finding himself in London, and on the spot to render the Commonwealth general services as its representative there, was contemplated and carefully considered before he left Australia.
– I believe that is true; but we have no means of proving it.
– I make the statement with full responsibility for what I say, and with a certain amount of knowledge. I venture to say that the suggestion that Captain Collins, on his arrival in London, ostensibly for the purpose of supervising the purchase of warlike stores, should remain there and find himself useful to the Commonwealth as its representative in London, was one which did not come from any person occupying the exalted position of Prime Minister or Minister of External Affairs, or from any private member of the Federal Parliament. I venture to say that it came from the man most interested in the subject, Captain Collins himself. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that his position in London at the present time is due to his own deliberate and successful attempt to secure it. He did secure it, and in my opinion wrongly.
– He went to London to prepare the way for some one else; but that did not come off.
– He went to London to prepare the way for himself. He has held the position now for some years, and apparently he will hold it for at least one year longer. The only way in which I can enter my protest against the arrangement - and I should like to do something besides merely talking about it - is to move that the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item, “Allowance to Captain Collins while acting as representative of Commonwealth in London, £150.”
– Or to leave out the vote of £900 for the Secretary to the Defence Department.
– I might propose such a request if I fail to carry the request I have suggested. I am quite satisfied that Captain Collins was never appointed Secretary to the Defence Department in order that he might act as representative of the Commonwealth in London, and Parliament has never sanctioned the payment of his salary as such a representative. I see no reason why we should not go back to the position which existed when Captain Collins was allowed to go. Home as Secretary to the Defence Department to supervise the purchase of warlike stores. That, in my opinion, is the only way in which we can protest against a state of things which is muddling and chaotic, and which is not creditable to the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable senator might propose to reduce the vote of £150 by a nominal amount.
– I thank Senator Turley for his suggestion. I wish to give some force to my protest in this matter, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Allowance to Captain Collins while acting as representative of Commonwealth in London, £150,” by £1.
– I hope that the request will not be agreed to. Some inquiries have been made as to why Captain Collins went to London, and as to the duties he performed there. I may inform the Committee that the recommendation that Captain Collins should go to London was made by the Secretary to the Treasurer, since it was advisable that some one should be in London to represent the Treasurer at the time Captain Collins was sent Home.
– Who was Treasurer at the time?
– Sir John Forrest.
– Captain Collins is the Chief Treasury officer in London, and it is his duty to see how the money belonging to the Commonwealth in London is dealt with. An income of from £2,000 to £2,500 a year is derived from the deposits of moneys belonging to the Commonwealth in London, and it is necessary to have some one in London to look after this work.
– Is it usual to select an officer of the Defence Department to carry out Treasury transactions?
– I have so far given only one reason why Captain Collins was sent to London. At the time Captain Collins was sent to London the Defence Department was making very large purchases there. It has continued to do so ever since, and it was considered that it would be a very good thing to have some one in London to represent the Commonwealth in exercising some supervision over these purchases, which involved the expenditure of from £100,000 to . £200,000 a year. The Minister of Defence informs me that last year about £100,000 was spent in this way.
– What was Captain Creswell sent Home for?
– I have no doubt that the Minister of Defence, when his Estimates are under consideration, will be able to tell the honorable senator why Captain Creswell was sent Home. I have told honorable senators what Captain Collins is doing in London. Until some change is made he is entitled to be considered as the Commonwealth representative in London. Honorable senators ask why the whole of his salary should not appear in the votes for the offices of the Commonwealth in London, but the difficulty is that if that course were pursued Captain Collins would have a claim to be appointed as Secretary to the High Commissioner when such an office is created. The present Government have no intention to appoint Captain Collins as Secretary to the High Commissioner. He is paid as Secretary to the Defence Department, and he has some claim to that position.
– I feel that it is only fair to Captain Collins that I should say that when I was in London recently I took some trouble to ascertain what he was doing. I found that he took a great deal of trouble to begin with to secure a reduction in the bank charges, and he succeeded in doing so. He is also very useful indeed in giving information to members of Parliament and other persons from the Commonwealth visiting London.
– He lives on that.
– I can assure the Committee that Captain Collins occupies a very important position in London. After the request submitted by Senator Clemons is dealt with, I had it in mind to suggest that the allowance to Captain Collins be increased from £150 to , £300, because the manis out of pocket with the allowance at present given. Captain Collins may have wished to go to London himself. I do not say that he did not, but he is as useful there to the Commonwealth as many of the Agents-General are to the States which they represent.
– That is not saying much for them.
– That is a matter of opinion, and I know that Mr. Coghlan is very useful to the State of New South Wales. I do not wish to labour the matter, but I saw Captain Collins often, and heard a good deal about him. On more than one occasion he had to assert the pre-eminence of the Commonwealth over the States, and he went to some trouble to see that the Commonwealth advertisement should appear above those inserted by the States Governments. Senator Pulsford will probably follow me with even stronger remarks on this subject. I oppose the request, and, if I had my way, I should increase the allowance proposed.
– I am afraid that the real point at issue is likely to be obscured by a discussion of the merits and demerits of Captain Collins. In the first instance, it was decided by somebody in power, we do not know who, to send an officer Home to supervise the purchase of warlike stores.
– Captain Collins was sent Home, in the first instance, in connexion with theTreasury.
– If it is contended that Captain Collins, as Secretary to the Defence Department, was sent Home to carry out a financial operation, we are getting very near the regions of “ Pinafore,” and are trespassing upon the domain of Gilbert and Sullivan. I understood that Captain Collins was sent Home to supervise the purchase of military stores for the Commonwealth, but, without the matter having been brought before Parliament in any way, except indirectly, in the shape of a vote on the Estimates, the Federal Government took it upon themselves practically to establish a permanent office in London, and to appoint Captain Collins to the position of head of that office. He figures as the representative of the Commonwealth in London, and we are told that he left Australia for that purpose.
– Yes, I have not the slightest doubt about that.
– Senator Clemons, who has some knowledge of human nature, says that Captain Collins left Australia with that intention. I think that is very probable; but it is more than curious that this state of affairs should have been allowed to continue from year to year. In the first instance, Captain Collins was sent Home to perform a specific duty in connexion with his own Department, and now he has apparently taken root in London, and figures on the Estimates, not as Secretary to the Defence Department, temporarily in London in connexion with the affairs of that Department, but as the fullblown representative of the Commonwealth Government. If we are to have an official representative of the Commonwealth in London, he should be properly appointed. I do not hold the Government responsible for the present position, but I do hope they will take immediate steps to remedy it.
– In the opinion of the ex-Prime Minister, Captain Collins, by his services, has recouped the Commonwealth the whole amount of its expenditure upon the London offices. In my judgment, it would be most unjust to refuse to pay that officer the proposed allowance of£150, seeing that he has actually expended the money for the benefit of Australia.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I have the assurance of the ex- Prime Minister to that effect.
– The proposal to reduce this item appears to me to be based upon very paltry grounds. If honorable senators are antagonistic to the way in which the Commonwealth Offices in London are managed, the obvious course open to them is to submit a proposal to reduce the total amount. It is very undesirable that arguments should be directed specifically at Captain Collins. When I was in London recently, I saw that officer upon two occasions. During my stay there, I had a good deal of correspondence with him, and I must say that he was very prompt and careful in all the work that he did for me. He even went to the length of cabling to Australia to obtain information for me. When I desired to ascertain whether the Tariff had passed both Houses of this Parliament he despatched a cable asking for the information.
– Why could not the honorable senator send that cable himself?
– I will explain. A paragraph had appeared in the London Times, stating that the Tariff had passed the Commonwealth Parliament. Thereupon I wrote to Captain Collins, asking whether the announcement in question meant anything more than that the Tariff had passed the House of Representatives. He replied that he did not know, but that he had received other inquiries of the same kind, and was therefore cabling to Australia to ascertain the real position. Later on, I found that Captain Collins had an immense number of inquiries to reply to. At the timeI saw him, in January last, he was doing a very considerable amount of work. I do not think it is fair that any dissatisfaction in regard to the way in which the business of the Commonwealth has been conducted in London should be voiced in submitting a proposal which is distinctly levelled at Captain Collins.
– It is levelled against the Secretary of Defence acting in his present capacity.
– In my opinion, the proposal is not worthy of the Senate.
– I would urge the Committee not to make the proposed alteration without very good reason. If honorable senators think that Captain Collins is too highly paid, their proper course is to move a reduction in his salary as Secretary of the Defence Department. But they must recognise that if they hold that he is not the officer who should have been sent to England to temporarily fill his present position, the proper time for them to have entered their protest against the adoption of that course was when the Estimates of two years ago were under consideration. For two years that officer has remained in London without any protest having teen made.
– I have protested upon each occasion.
– At any rate, no motion has been submitted in favour of reducing the sum which has been placed upon the Estimates in this connexion. If it is not intended to embarrass the present Government
– This is the first occasion upon which an allowance has been proposed to Captain Collins.
– But in other years an allowance has been made for the office. Captain Collins has represented that he has been put to this expenditure, and we must all recognise that an officer, acting for the Commonwealth in London, must incur a considerable outlay. Why, the AgentGeneral representing the smallest of the States receives a larger salary than does Captain Collins.
– Some of the AgentsGeneral draw , £1,500 a year.
– One of them is getting £2,500 a year. If we strike this allowance off the Estimates, it will be tantamount to saying to the Government, “ You must recall Captain Collins.” If the Senate desires to take up that attitude, it should have indicated it three years ago. Senator Clemons knew as much about Captain Collins then as he does now. The events which have since transpired have been in that officer’s favour.
– Captain Collins conducted the negotiations for the acquisition of a site for Commonwealth Offices in London.
– And he authorized an advertisement in a London newspaper, for which the Commonwealth was called upon to pay 27s. per inch.
– In that connexion he merely acted under the instructions of the Government. The striking off of this amount will have the effect of embarrassing the Government, because honorable senators must pay some regard to the relationship which exists between the two Houses. The adoptionof Senator Clemons proposal will mean either that Captain Collins is unsuitable for his present position, or that there should be no representative of the Commonwealth in London.
– No. It will mean that the Secretary of Defence should not be stationed there.
– If that be the motive actuating the honorable senator, action could have been taken three years ago.
– Has any harm been done?
– Exactly. Parliament has not passed the necessary legislation to enable a High Commissioner to be appointed. I speak from an entirely disinterested stand-point, because, when the first Estimates were submitted for our consideration, I moved to reduce the salary of Captain Collins to . £750, because I thought there was no reason why he should receive more than the secretaries of other Departments.. That circumstance should1 prove that I have no desire to favour this officer. In conclusion, I would again point out that any alteration of these Estimates will place the Government in a most embarrassing position, inasmuch as it will then have to say that, in the opinion of the Senate, either the Commonwealth Offices in London should be abandoned, or Captain Collins should be recalled, because he is not fitted for his present position.
– I regret that the Minister should have seemed to infer that the criticism which has been offered upon this item has been induced by a desire to embarrass the Government. Iwould point out to him that so far there is no evidence of party lines having been drawn anywhere. Even upon the proposal under consideration, to my surprise and regret, three of my honorable friends upon this side of the Chamber, have exhibited a desire to slavishly support the Government. Under the circumstances, it was a little inopportune for the Minister to make either the suggestion or the appeal which he did. Some of the criticism which has been levelled against this item he has entirely ignored. I have not questioned the qualifications of Captain Collins in the slightest degree, because I know nothing of that gentleman, or of his work. Hut it seems to me to be absolutely subversive of all parliamentary control for Ministers to be permitted to send the head of a Department, who is paid to be here - and whose duties here have to be discharged - to the other side of the world to temporarily fill an office, which he is now to be permitted to occupy permanently. Because objection has been urged to the course which has . been adopted, the Minister says, in effect, “Seeing that you did not object when it appeared that Captain Collins was to occupy this position temporarily, you have no right to object now that he is to fill it permanently.” Obviously, Parliament approved of Captain Coffins being sent to London as the Secretary of the Defence Department. But there seems to be a point at which it is called upon to interpose, and to say, “ This temporary arrangement has lasted long enough, and we ask the Government to terminate it, and to map out some definite course under which we may know in future that the Secretary of Defence is in the Defence Department, and that the representative of the Commonwealth is in his office in London.” That is largely the purpose which the mover of the request has in view, and I would again suggest to the Minister that there has been no desire exhibited to embarrass the Government.
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [4.30]. - Ido not intend to waste the time of the Committee in discussing this question. But I cannot help taking exception to the tone in which the request was submitted. Where a Government take responsibility for the appointment of an officer, either temporarily or permanently, there is a way of expressing opposition to their action without casting any slur upon the officer. It is not, in my opinion, the business of the members of the Senate to attack an officer who is unable to defend himself. Let honorable senators attack the Government, if they like, but to attack an individual in the position of this officer is a cowardly thing to do.
– Who has done so?
.- The mover of the motion has.
– The mover of the motion has not done so.
.- The mover has insinuated that Captain Collins worked to get his present office,and if that is not casting a slur upon a man, I do not know what is. It is cowardly to say such a thing. If the question is one of principle, relating to the appointment of Captain Collins to a position in London without filling the office of Secretary to the Defence Department in Australia, let it be discussed on that ground. I admit that there is something to be said from that point of view. But it is the Government that should be attacked for making the appointment, which was at first intended to be a temporary one.
– What does the honorable senator call temporary ?
.- What could be more temporary than the conditions attaching to the Commonwealth office in London at present? It is not permanent. It has not even been properly constituted. The Commonwealth is, as it were, feeling its way. We have sent there one of our permanent officials, who knows the state of things in Australia, and knows his way about London. He is, I believe, carrying out his duties loyally and well in the interests of this country. Fair play should be given to this man. If honorable senators want to attack his office, let them do so by means of an attack upon the Government. But they should not attack the individual. To attack an unfortunate man who is unable to defend himself is anything but dignified, and anything but calculated to maintain a high sense of honour in the Senate.
– I should not have risen again, but for the remarks of Senator Cameron and Senator Pearce. I should like to inform Senator Cameron in the first place that he is not the custodian of my honour, nor is he, except in a self-constituted fashion, the critic of my conduct. Whatever he chooses to say with regard to my cowardice, I can afford to laugh at. I am quite prepared to hold my own on questions of cowardice, but there is nothing cowardly in what I have done. 1 repeat every word that I have said. I made no personal attack upon Captain Collins. But I have said, and I repeat, that the Secretary of Defence, in the person of Captain Collins, is not the man who should have been sent Home as the representative of the Commonwealth. It astonished me that Senator Cameron, whose interests are almost entirely centred in the Defence Forces of this country - or, rather, who takes more interest in the defences of the Commonwealth than does any other man present - should have appeared to-day as the advocate of the continuance of the Secretary of Defence in London. What does it mean ? It surely cannot mean that Captain Collins in his present position can exercise any influence in the direction of maintaining the Defence Forces in a proper condition of efficiency? How any man who has the interest of the Defence Forces at heart can advocate a continuance of the present system I’ am unable to imagine. I am not going to say that Senator Cameron knows nothingabout defence, nor am I going to use, concerning him, any epithets that might be unpleasant or unfair. I leave him to reflect whether any of his remarks about me were justified. I turn to the observations of Senator Pearce. He has made an attack upon me on somewhat similar lines. He has said two things that are absolutely contrary to fact. He said that no protest had. been made against this appointment previously. So far as I am concerned, I have protested from the beginning. If I have happened to be out of the Chamber when this Department has been under consideration in previous sessions, I may have failed to enter a protest on those occasions, but I have never been present when we were discussing these Estimates without taking the opportunity of entering my protest against the present condition of affairs in relation to the representation in London and the secretaryship for Defence. Not only have I protested, but I have taken action. Senator Pearce was utterly incorrect, therefore, when he said that no protest was made. He was also unfair when he said that the time to protest was long ago. The time to protest was not when Captain Collins was appointed to his present position. No one denied that he was a fit and proper person to go to England to purchase warlike stores. We were originally told that he had been sent for that purpose. I entered no protest then, because I knew of no reason why he should not go.
– This is the first time Captain Collins has been alluded to in the Appropriation Bill as the representative of the Commonwealth Government in London.
– For Senator Pearce to misrepresent me in that way was grossly unfair. On every occasion when I have been in the Senate when this item has been brought forward, since I ascertained that Captain Collins was being retained in London, I have protested.
– Is the purchase of warlike stores merely a temporary matter?
– Captain Collins was sent Home for a specific purpose. We were at that time buying a large quantity of warlike stores. It was considered desirable that we should have on the spot some one to supervise the purchases. I do not know whether Captain Collins continues to purchase warlike stores for the Commonwealth. If he does, he might be limited to that function, and we might make some other arrangement with regard to the Defence Department secretaryship. If the present Secretary is to devote the whole of his services to buying warlike stores, a new appointment certainly ought to be made in Australia. We ought to have an officer to look after this extremely disorganized Defence Department. We do not want the Secretary for Defence to be living in London in receipt of £150 a year.
– Is there any harm in retaining Captain Collins in London?
– The point is that the Commonwealth cannot afford to allow the Secretary for Defence to remain permanently in London. If our Defence forces are worth anything at all, surely we want a Secretary for the Department? What would be said if the chief permanent officer in the Department of External Affairs, or the Department of Home Affairs, lived in London?
– Is not the question whether Captain Collins is fit for his present position?
– No. The whole question, so far as I am concerned, resolves itself into this : that it is an undesirable thing that the Secretary for Defence should be practically permanently continued in London to act in some other capacity.
– Does the honorable senator want to make room for Sir John Forrest?
– That is one of those sensible remarks that Senator W. Russell sometimes makes. Does he seriously think that I want to make room for Sir John Forrest? If the honorable senator chooses to ask me what I think about Sir John Forrest in a place where my utterances will not be recorded, I shall be glad to tell him. It was not fair of Senator Pearce - and he ought to know it - to say that I had the slightest intention to embarrass the present Government. Whether he knows it or not, I can give him my assurance - and I believe that he will take it - that I have no such desire. I am taking now the same action which I took on previous occasions, when the present Government was not in office. Am I to be curtailed in taking action upon a matter as to which I have felt so keenly for several years, because the present Government are in office? I can assure Senator Pearce that if any Government had been in office - even a Government that I was supporting - I should have taken precisely the same side.
– I am sorry that it is necessary to repeat that there must be some clear understanding of the position before honorable senators can vote intelligentlv. One honorable senator says that Captain Collins was appointed for one purpose; another says that he was appointed for another purpose. I have said before, and I repeat, that a combination of conditions induced the Commonwealth Government to send Captain Collins to London. The Secretary of the Treasury, probably knowing that there was some talk of an officer being sent to buy warlike stores, and feeling the responsi bility resting on his shoulders respecting Commonwealth affairs in London, recommended that if an officer was sent with reference to the one matter he should be sent with reference to both. The added weight of his recommendation brought about the appointment, and Captain Collins was sent. One of his duties was to inspect warlike stores ; the other was to look after the financial affairs of the Commonwealth in London. Both functions were temporary. What “ temporary “ means has been canvassed all round. I want to know what the request, if carried, will mean ? To my mind, “ temporary “ means until such time as Parliament has made provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner, and the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London. It must be represented there by some person. Is this request, if carried, to be taken as an instruction to the Government that a High Commissioner shall be appointed as soon as possible? If that be the intention, honorable senators should be more candid in their criticism, and they ought to have in their mind’s eye some person who would fill the position when created. At the same time they must recognise that a Bill will have to be introduced and passed. They are aware that when that is done, it will increase considerably the cost of the Commonwealth offices. With those considerations in view, and with a promise that some action will be taken before the next Estimates are submitted, is it worth their while to carry a request of this kind? Whenthe Minister of Defence said that it would embarrass and inconvenience the Government to carry the request, I do not think that he meant for a moment that it was submitted with that intention.
– He said so.
– I do not think that my honorable colleague meant that. He was merely explaining to honorable senators that it would be an embarrassing position for. the Government to be placed in. It would mean, either the recall of Captain Collins, or the immediate appointment of a High Commissioner and the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London. It would mean a great many things which there is no time to discuss this afternoon. I may add that Captain Pethebridge is acting in place of Captain Collins, and carrying out the work very efficiently. The Commonwealth is gaining by the temporary absence of Captain
Collins in London, and it is not losing here. I hope that the temporary position will be continued until such time as some definite action can be taken by Parliament.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Allowance to Captain Collins, while acting as representative of Commonwealth in London,£150,” by £1 (Senator Clemons’ request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Last year we voted £20,000 towards the expenses of administering Papua, and £5.000 towards its development, but this year we are only asked to vote , £20,000 for the former purpose. If we earnestly desire to bring Papua into profitable use to enable it to realize its destiny and become a prosperous land under the control of the Commonwealth, the vote of £5,000 towards its development ought to be continued. I believe that the vote of £20,000 is pretty well absorbed by the cost of administration. An annual vote of £5,000 would not be too much to devote to the development of the Territory. It is a rugged, new country, with very considerable rivers and high mountains, and many parts are inaccessible owing tothe dense scrub which clothes the valleys and sides of the mountains. If £5,000 were expended yearly in the simple process of making roads, it would do as much to develop the Territory as, perhaps, anything else. Persons experience an immense diffi culty in travelling from one portion of Papua to another. They find that it is almost impossible to travel over and explore territory in search of land, minerals, timber, or anything else. If, however, fairly decent roads were provided, that difficulty would be minimized very much, if not removed. The miners on the gold-fields, and persons engaged in business of one kind and another in various places, are very heavily handicapped owing to the fact that there are only pads where there ought to be roads. A man cannot even take a pack mule over’ the pads, because they are not cleared or made accessible in any way. Consequently the residents have to employ native carriers at, in some cases, almost prohibitive cost, for carrying tools of trade, stores, machinery, building material, and other things. If money were expended in making good roads, which would be suitable for vehicular traffic, or even for pack mules or horses, the expenditure would be exceedingly profitable, and would, I believe, do more to open up the Territory than anything else which could be done. I now desire to bring under the notice of the Committee another matter concerning Papua. The late Government were exceedingly dilatory in ending a very unsatisfactory condition of affairs there, and I was glad to notice that the present Government were not in office very long before they accomplished that object. I allude, of course, to the appointment of a permanent Lieutenant-Governor. The matter hung fire for a. very long time, and it seemed to be impossible to induce the late Government to make up their mind. I understand that when they were displaced they had pretty well decided on a definite course of action, and that it was the one which was adopted by the present Government. I do not believe, however, that the best course was taken in appointing, not only a Lieutenant-Governor, but also an Acting Lieutenant-Governor, who is Administrator too. These two gentlemen aspired to the higher office. I had reason to believe that when ex-Senator Staniforth Smith received the appointment of Director of Agriculture, Mines, and Lands, he dropped his aspiration for the LieutenantGovernorship; but afterwards I was informed that I was incorrect in that supposition, and that, as a matter of fact, he did aspire to it.
– That was his stepping-stone.
– He told me once that he was satisfied with his appointment, and that he was willing to forego any claim upon the Lieutenant- Governorship. The method adopted by the Government in deciding between the claims of these two rival aspirants was extremely unsatisfactory, because we shall now have one occupying the position permanently and the other occupying it temporarily, always ready to step into the other’s shoes at any moment. I believe that the right thing was done by the Government in appointing Judge Murray as Lieutenant-Governor. I have not met him, and do not know him, except from reading and hearsay. I believe that I have as many correspondents in Papua as has any man in Australia. They represent every shade of political opinion, and are engaged in every walk of life. From time to time they have all expressed a very high admiration for Judge Murray, and indulged in the hope that he would be appointed LieutenantGovernor. I am bound to add that I have received nothing but the best accounts of the work of Mr. Staniforth Smith in Papua. A certain rivalry appears to have existed between these two gentlemen, which led to the formation of two rival factions. I know that anything which would encourage such a condition of affairs in the Territory would be most obnoxious to members of the Committee, who, I am sure, desire that the utmost good feeling should prevail amongst the officers there. In the circumstances, I think it would have been very much wiser if the Government had followed the course previously adopted, and had been content with the appointment of Judge Murray as Lieutenant-Governor, leaving Mr. Staniforth Smith to continue to occupy the high position he formerly held. However, the Government, apparently in order to gratify rival aspirations and to placate a rival faction, appointed Mr. Smith as Administrator and Acting Lieutenant-Governor. I am afraid that the course which has been pursued is not calculated to put an end to the rivalry and jealousy previously existing in the Territory, and which we know are so injurious in a small community.
– I hope that the Government will next year take into consideration the advisability of increasing the vote of £20,000 towards the expenses of the administration of Papua. I hope also that no time will be lost in connecting Papua with the main land, either by wireless telegraph, or by means of a cable. We ought to have facilities for daily communication with the Territory. It may perhaps interest honorable senators to learn that a former Administrator of Papua, Captain Barton, has received an appointment as British representative at Zanzibar, and the experience he gained in New Guinea is now to be availed of by the Imperial Government.
– I might say, in reply to Senator Walker, and other honorable senators, who are anxious about the development of Papua, that the present Government will do all they possibly can to further the interests of that Territory. The additional vote of £5,000, which appeared on the Estimates last year for the development of Papua, was specially applied to the making of roads, and works of that description, such as Senator Givens has referred to.
– It would be a good thing if that work were continued.
– The matter will receive attention from the Government, and if next year they consider it advisable to put an additional sum on the Estimates for the purpose, honorable senators will have the pleasure of supporting it. With respect to the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governor and Administrator, I may be allowed to say that the present Government have no great anxiety to take the credit which is due to the late Government in connexion with these appointments. But they are satisfied with the arrangements made, and accept responsibility for the appointments. I may inform Senator Givens that the appointment of an Acting Lieutenant-Governor is provided for in the Papua Act.
– When the need for such an appointment arises.
– No ; the Act provides that such an officer shall be appointed, and specifies his duties. The honorable senator might have learned as much from the reply given to a question recently asked in the Senate on the subject. It will be admitted that the Lieutenant-Governor might sometimes be prevented from discharging his duties by illness, or absence, and it is necessary that in such an emergency there should be some one in New Guinea to carry out the duties of the office. The absence of telegraphic communication referred to by Senator Walker is one of the strongest arguments in support of the appointments that have been made. I hope it will be in the power of the Government at an early date to provide better means of communication between the mainland and Papua.
– Perhaps the Minister will give the Committee some information about the item “ Commonwealth Literary Fund, £55-“*
– I should like the Minister to give the Committee some information about the item, “ Payment to’ Customs Department for services of officers under Immigration Restriction Act. ,£900.” Is this vote debited also to the Customs Department ? I should like also to know something about the vote for the Commonwealth Literary Fund, and why it appears in the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs.
Senator McGREGOR (South Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Co.Uncil’ [5.9]. - The Department of External Affairs has control of all matters connected with immigration, and in the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act it is found necessary to secure the assistance of officers of the Trade and Customs Department. In different parts of Australia Customs officers are charged with the enforcement of the law, and they must receive some remuneration from the External Affairs Department, for whom the services are performed. The money they receive is credited to the Customs Department, and no doubt is paid by that Department to the officers who perform, the duties.
– So that it is debited twice over in the Estimates.
– No, it is not debited twice over. The amount is credited by the External Affairs Department to the Trade and Customs Department, and is paid out by the latter. With respect to the Commonwealth Literary Fund, it is possible that it is included in the Estimates of the External Affairs Department, because it can be most conveniently managed by that Department, and perhaps in order to give an officer who was referred to some time ago something to do. The administration of the fund is in the hands of a Committee consisting of Mr. Sugden, Principal of Queen’s College, Melbourne; Mr. Bladen, Librarian of Sydney, -and Sir Langdon Bonython. It is not considered advisable to publish the names of the recipients of gratuities paid from the fund. But T mav inform the Committee that in order to extend as far as possible the benefits of the fund,, no one who is relieved from it gets more than £1 per week.
– Am, I to understand that the vote of .£900 to which I have referred is not included again in the Estimates of the Trade and Customs Department ?
– If the honorable senator will look at page 57 of the Estimates, he will find that this allowance is: deducted from the expenditure of the Customs Department.
– That explains the matter, and I am satisfied.
– I should like some explanation of the practice pursued in applying the dictation test in the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. I would like to know the principle on which it is applied, and the standard adopted to determine whether the immigrant to whom it is applied has passed the test. Suppose, for instance, an educated Austrian were to land in Australia, would the education test be applied to him ? If it was apparent that he was an educated man and a desirable immigrant, is the officer applying the test under instructions to, or may he at his discretion, prescribe as a dictation test a passage in Russian?
– The test is not applied to people of those nationalities at all.
– The test is sometimes applied, and we should know exactly what are the instructions given to determine the character of the test. There is an impression abroad that the dictation test, whenever it is used, is used absolutely for the purpose of preventing the landing of the person to whom it is applied. If that be” so, the test is worse “than a delusion. I have been told of instances where the test applied has been designedly such as to make it impossible for the person to whom it was applied to p?.ss it, and that the object has been to keep out a desirable immigrant.
– That is the impression abroad, and we should be given clear and precise information of the principles which determine the action of the officials of the Department in applying the dictation test.
– I think the honorable senator ought to recognise that this is a question of policy, and one therefore which ought scarcely to be discussed at length upon the Estimates. It ought rather to be debated in connexion with an amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act. The Government, however, are not averse to giving the honorable senator all the information which they can, and I may tell him that the education test is usually applied at the discretion of the officer.
– Is that so always?
– Yes. Butprobably the officer has been instructed to place no obstacle in the way of the admission of any desirable immigrant, and to use every precaution with a view to preventing undesirable immigrants from entering the Commonwealth.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item, “ Advertising resources of the Commonwealth,£20,000.”
In my view the proposed expenditure in this connexion is utterly unwarranted. I wish to know what good purpose expenditure by the Commonwealth in advertising the resources of the various States can serve ?
– Do not the States make up the Commonwealth ?
– The Commonwealth, as a Commonwealth, does not possess any resources. It does not own an inch of land in any part of Australia, and it cannot, therefore, provide land for immigrants. I . am quite aware that for a considerable period a small section has been raising the cry that Australia is badly in need of additiunal population. It has endeavoured to show that there is ample room in this country for thousands of new settlers. That there is ample room for them none will deny. But that there is ample opportunity for thousands of fresh settlers to earn a livelihood at the present time I do deny. The section to which I have referred holds the view that if to-morrow we could attract to our shores thousands of human beings, we should at once begin to prosper. They believe that population is synonymous with prosperity. That, I contend, is a false economic view. If the prosperity of a country could be measured by the number of its inhabitants, China and Japan would be the wealthiest countries in the world. But, as a matter of fact, we know that in those countries are to be found the world’s poorest poor. I desire to know the direction in which the Government propose to spend any sum in advertising the Commonwealth throughout Great Britain, Today, some of the States are expending large amounts for the purpose of attracting settlers. For some time past Queensland has attempted, by the distribution of literature in England, by the insertion of large advertisements in many prominent newspapers there, and by means of its AgentGeneral, to draw attention to the possibilities which exist in that State for immigrants. I venture to say that that expenditure of effort and money has produced industrial conditions in Queensland which do not obtain in any other portion of the Commonwealth. The standard of comfort and living there is lower than it is in any other State.
– But the honorable senator said the same thing about Tasmania a few nights ago.
– The standard in Tasmania is fairly low, but, judging by facts and figures which have recently been presented to organizations which periodically meet in Melbourne for the purpose of considering industrial matters, the position in Queensland is even worse. Only the other day paragraphs were published in the Melbourne newspapers declaring that the wage conditions of the whiteworkers in Queensland are being seriously threatened by reason of the fact that the wages being paid there for the making of shirts and other garments are so low that certain persons find it to their advantage to send their goods to Queensland to be manufactured there, instead of being manufactured locally.
– The official returns show that 60 per cent. of the juvenile population of the Commonwealth is working in Victoria.
– That statement has reference only to one phase of industrialism. Those who have visited Brisbane recently must know that the wages being paid there are lower, and the hours being worked are longer, than are the wages and the hours which obtain in the other States.
– Yet people would leave Victoria for Queensland to-morrow if they could.
– In Queensland, the waees being paid in the printing’ trade - which is the trade with which I am most familiar - are lower than those which obtain in any other State. Not long ago, whilst I was visiting Brisbane for the purpose of attending a Labour Conference, my services were requisitioned for the purpose of bringing about a better method of organization and more unity amongst the printers of that city. I was amazed to find, first, that there were a number of unemployed in that trade; second, that there were men working in job printing offices for £2 a week; and, third, that the standard wage payable in Brisbane, where the cost of living is probably a little higher than it is in the capitals of the other States-
– It is probably lower.
– I do not think so. I was surprised to find that in Brisbane the printers were working for forty-eight hours a week for 48s., which is the lowest standard wage paid in the trade throughout Australia. Other trades were in no better condition. . Probably I shall be told that Queensland offers many opportunities for immigrants in respect of land settlement - that there are thousands of acres available for settlement. But I hold that the best lands of that State are already occupied, or are in the possession of those who intend to utilize them at a later period. If there are extensive areas of good land available, it is remarkable that the Queensland Government should be re-purchasing estates. To my mind, that is conclusive evidence that the best lands of that State have been alienated. Of course, there may be tracts of country far removed from the railway and sea-board which are available for settlement bythose who wish to isolate themselves-
– There is no pioneering work to be done now.
– There is a large amount of pioneering work to be done in all the States.
SenatorVardon. - The people do not want to do it.
– Is, it fair that immigrants should be induced to come to Queensland without capital, and that, upon their arrival, they should lx: offered land, the clearing of which would require a considerable expenditure and which would probably not yield them a return for four or five years?
– How many thousands of us came to Australia under those conditions ?
– The circumstances which obtained years ago cannot be applied to Australia to-day. Circumstances have materially changed. The fact stares us in the face that those who are living in Queensland to-day are not too pleased with their lot, because many of them find a difficulty in obtaining employment. There is also dissatisfaction in respect of the wages and conditions of employment. The labour organizations of Queensland have made a strong objection, and those who desire to obtain land for permanent settlement protest against the action taken by the Government in advertising extensively the resources of the State, and flooding Queensland with immigrants. New South Wales has also advertised its resources. In that State, almost every week, one can read in the newspapers accounts of Land Boards before which innumerable applicants for land have been disappointed. I remember reading in one of the New South Wales journals, not long ago, an account of one man, who had been for seven years journeying to different parts of that State, presenting himself before various Land Boards, in the hope that he would eventually be successful in his application for land. The only State that is not directly spending money in advertising is South Australia, which is one of the most prosperous States in the Commonwealth. But South Australia adopts a policy that advertises itself in the best possible way, and by so doing, attracts immigrants.
– What increase has there been in the number of settlers in South Australia ?
– There has been a considerable increase of people permanently settled upon the land since the advent of the Labour Government, and the adoption of a forward land policy.
– What is the forward policy ?
– The reclaiming of land, and closer settlement.
– The Price Government did not initiate that policy.
– I am sure that the previous Government did not.
– Yes, they did. The reclaiming of the river frontages was commenced by the Government which preceded the Price Government.
– It was the Price Government that carried the policy through.
– The honorable senator had better talk about the things which he understands.
– I understand that one result of the policy of the Price Government has been a” considerable addition to the number of permanent settlers in South Australia. In Victoria, however, where we have not a Labour Government in charge, there has been a diminution of the number of settlers, owing to the absence of a non-forward policy. Mr. Higinbotham, afterwards Chief Justice of Victoria., speaking in the Legislative Assembly of this State, some years ago, said -
The prosperity of a colony attracts population. It is not population which brings prosperity to it.
That is a sentiment that every well-wisher of the Commonwealth must indorse.
– I do not. I should say that population brings prosperity.
– Why does not population bring prosperity to China and Japan, which are the most densely populated countries on the earth?
– What ground has ‘the honorable senator for saying that they are not prosperous?
– Because I have been there. There exists in those countries a degree of grinding poverty, wretchedness, misery, and woe, which I earnestly trust we shall never witness in Australia.
– Queensland is now forty-nine years old. About forty-six years ago the population was only 46,000. To-day it is about 546,000. There is more prosperity and comfort in Queensland now than there was then ; and wages are higher.
– Mr. Higinbotham also said -
The cry with regard to the necessity for immigration arises principally from one class, namely, the employers of labour. Employers may desire that the State shall introduce labour, but, in my opinion, the principle is unjust. I suppose there are few who would not object to the introduction of competition if it affected ourselves. The merchants would do so, and the professional man would take the same view of the case. But it is singular that the objections heard of when the introduction of labour to compete with the labour already here is spoken of. Immigration to be just should be applied equally to all classes.
Is there any honorable senator who would suggest that a system should be initiated by the Commonwealth for the introduction of a considerable number of medical men? I dare say that there would be strong opposition if it were proposed to encourage the immigration of solicitors and barristers. Similarly, the traders and merchants would object if the Common wealth proposed to encourage the immigration of other merchants and traders to compete with them.
– Not they !
– If it were proposed to introduce several hundreds of likely candidates for Parliament, there would be an outcry.
– -There is already a glut in the market.
– I agree with the statement of Mr. Higinbotham that immigration, to be just, should be applied equally to all classes. But it is proposed to apply it only to a few - to bring to Australia-mer and women who have only their labour to sell. The employing class hope that wages will be reduced owing to the increase of the number of persons- seeking employment.
– Labour is all that my father had to sell when he came here, and he got through all right.
– When we were discussing the methods which the previous Government adopted with respect to advertising, and When the question was asked whether certain organizations had received Commonwealth money for the purpose of advertising throughout the United Kingdom, we were informed that Dr. Arthur, the President of the Australasian Immigration League, which has its head-quarters in Sydney, had received money, and that Dr. Arthur had advertised in a way that was advantageous to the Commonwealth. I have here a copy of the overseas edition of the Daily Mail, which is dated 19th September, and. contains a letter in which Dr. Arthur says -
In the United Kingdom there are at least a million more females than males, while in Australia there are nearly 250,000 more males than females, and this disproportion is increasing, because the majority of the immigrants coming here are young men. As it is certain that the men cannot go to the women, it should be the duty of Empire builders to endeavour to send the women who are willing to leave the Mother Country to lands where husbands and homes are awaiting them.
– Hear, hear !
– That is a cheer from one of those who, I expect, want cheap servants.
– Does not the honorable senator want one of them ? He cannot get an Australian to suit him, and he had better import a woman.
– It may be the other way about.
– Of course, it is very gratifying to some honorable senators that, if Dr. Arthur gets his way, 25,000 women are to be induced to come to Aus- tralia every year for many years to come, and to be in the position of experiencing no difficulty in finding husbands and work.
– What does he know about it?
- Dr. Arthur is President of an Immigration League. In that capacity, he received a subsidy from the previous Government, and he may be receiving money now to advertise in a way which is objectionable to me. He continues -
Australia and New Zealand could take at least 25,000 girls and women annually for many years to come, offering them work first as domestic servants, lady helps, workers on farms, &c, until they settled down to their natural place in life. There are openings, too, for women with a little capital to take up fruit-growing, poultry farming, and even dairying.
– At the very worst, they would be a good deal better off than they were in England.
– I venture to say that .if the honorable senator supported a proposal for bringing to his own State 25,000 young women, or half that number1
– I would support to-morrow a proposal to bring them to any part of Australia, and they would not starve here or go back.
– If the honorable senator did, I do not think he would be returned at the next general election.
– I am prepared to take my chance.
– The probability is that in Tasmania there are many girls who are not too well placed, so far as employment is concerned, and many eligible young women who find it difficult to get a husband. Yet the honorable senator would be a party to introducing into Australia every year 25,000 eligible young women.
– Most of the young men are leaving Tasmania.
– Yes ; it is rapidly becoming a State for old men.
– They are leaving every State in Australia, if we believe the honorable senator’s story.
– Australia is a miserable place, according to his doctrine.
– I have a veryelevated opinion of Australia.
– The honorable senator cannot have.
– I give place to no honorable senator in intense love and affection for Australia, the land of my birth. I have said here, and am prepared to say outside, that it is one of the best countries on God’s earth. There are possibilities here for five or six times our present population. We shall never be able to carry an immense population unless the lands of this country are put to their fullest and best use, and unless the rivers are locked and the water conserved. It is cruel to extensively advertise that land and homes can be .obtained by men and employment and husbands by women who come here. That is not a fact; it is an untruth.
– Was the honorable senator quite as strenuous on this vote last year as he is to-day?
– There is the barracker for the Government again ; there is the echo. One cannot pass any criticism in regard to the present Government without the honorable senator insinuating that I am showing hostility to the item because it is included in the Estimates of a Labour Government. For the last two or three years I have raised my voice against, and shown my opposition! to, the Commonwealth advertising what it does not possess.
– Its resources?
– Every State possesses resources, and most of the States are advertising them. But the Commonwealth, as such, have no resources at the present time. It does not own art inch of land, and cannot provide work for a single immigrant, male or female. Under those circumstances, it is wrong for any Government to expend public money in advertising that which the Commonwealth’ does not possess. What sort of advertising are they about to encourage? The late Government advertised in a newspaper which practically had no existence until a contract was signed for the insertion of an advertisement at the rate of 27 s. per inch, which has but a very small circulation, which does not find its way into the homes of the working classes, and is read by persons who are not likely in any circumstances to come to any part of Australia. There is another extravagant project on the part of the Government in connexion with its advertising scheme ! The otherday we were informed that Mr. Drakard, a Victorian, I believe, had entered into an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government to print and circulate throughout the United Kingdom, for the sum of£250, 50,000 copies of a circular containing information likely to attract persons to Australia. But, now that he has obtained that official permission to print and circulate the pamphlets, the probability is that he will go to various advertisers - patent medicine men, and others - and that the most inviting pages of the pamphlet will not be those concerning Australia, but those containing the advertisements, and the Commonwealth will be overshadowed. Probably the chief concern of Mr. Drakard will be to get as much money as possible from the advertisers. I am opposed at the present time to advertising schemes altogether. But if the Commonwealth intends to advertise, let it do so in a way which will give it a good advertisement. The scheme adopted by the late Government is petty, paltry, and puny, and is calculated to do more harm than good to the Commonwealth.. Such a form of advertising as that cheapens the Commonwealth. If it is going to advertise, surely it is rich enough to engage men to supervise its own reading matter, to have printing which would be a credit to the trade and to itself, and to arrange for an organized distribution. What assurance or guarantee have we as a Parliament that Mr. Drakard is going to print and publish 50,000 copies of a circular? None whatever. Having entered my protest against the item of £20,000 in the Estimates, and drawn attention to one or two matters incidental to advertising, I submit my request. I hope that any honorable senators who may be disposed to follow me will not misunderstand what I have said. I know that they would not consciously endeavour to misrepresent me.
– The difficulty is to understand ?
– The honorable senator cannot do two things at once. For the last half-hour or so his attention has been devoted to a book, and in order to try to be funny, and to say something nasty, he interjects at a time when I am about to close my remarks. That is a trick, a characteristic of the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator not only indulges in that kind of treatment for his friends-
– Order. The honorable senator must not proceed like that.
– If the honorablesenator pursues that line in regard to me hewill “fall in.” I shall not submit toinsult from him, or from anybody else in the Chamber.
– The honorablesenator has said quite enough. I cannot allow him to go on in that way.
– I do not propose, sir, to proceed further in that way. But I wish to warn Senator de Largie for the last time that, whether it is done insideor outside the Chamber, if he insults me, he will have to put up with the consequences.
– I am prepared toput up with the consequences.
– I ask Senator Findley to finish his speech.
– I am not afraid: of the honorable senator either inside or outside the Chamber.
– Will the honorable senator resume his seat?
– I should like to make some reply to the very disparaging and very incorrect remarks which Senator Findley has madewith regard to Queensland. The honorable senator has grossly misrepresented the condition of affairs in that State. I believe he has also misrepresented, to a greater or less extent, the conditions existing in the other States of Australia. I do not know that the honorable senator has treated his own State very much better, and he will have himself to blame if he is charged with disparaging that State as well as the other States of Australia. He has said substantially that there is no land available in Australia for immigrants. I do not intend to deal with that statement at length in a speech ; but I have here a table of figures from which I propose to make certain selections, in order to meet what the honorable senator has said. In the year 1860-1, the population of Australia! was 1,168,149, and there was under cultivation in that year 1,188,282 acres. In 1870-1, the population was 1,700,888, and there were 2,185,534 acres under cultiva- tion. In 1 880-1, the population was -2,306,736, and the area under cultivation was 4,577,699 acres. So that whilst in 1860-1 there was very little more than 1 acre under cultivation per head of population, in 1880-1 we had nearly 2 acres under cultivation per head of population. In 1885-6 the population of Australia had increased to 2,788,050, and the area under cultivation to 5,306,762 acres. In 1900-1 the population was 3,826,286, and the area under cultivation 8,812,463 acres. That is to say, that between i860 and 1900 we had almost doubled the area of land under cultivation per head of population. In 1906-7, the population had increased to 4,119,481, and we had 9,545,856 acres under cultivation. These figures show that we have been increasing the area under cultivation at a greater rate than the increase in. our population. The inference from these figures, which are taken from the Statistical Year-Book, are, to my mind, as plain as the results, of a multiplication table. If we bring people into Australia, those who are industrious and courageous will very pro.bably find land. And if we secure the right sort of immigrants, they will no doubt set to work at once to develop the resources of the country for their own benefit, and to the great advantage of the Commonwealth. Listening to Senator Findley, and many other honorable senators opposite, one might be excused for thinking that Australia is one of the most wretched, desolated, congested countries on the face of the earth. As good a test as we could Ti ave of the general prosperity of the people, and especially of what might be called the middle-class people, who, I suppose, represent about 75 per cent, of the population of Australia, is the investment of money in the Savings Banks. Honorable senators will excuse me, since I must read “the figures to secure their publication in Hansard, for troubling them while I go through the whole of the figures with respect to the investments in the Savings Banks from 1901 -
Honorable senators will note the last figures I have given. Of a total population, including women and children, of a little over 4,000,000, 25 per cent., according to these figures, are depositors in the Savings Banks, and the amount to their credit is over ^42, 000,000.
– “-In Victoria, there are 32,000 depositors, with over ^1,000,000 to their credit, but the amount deposited by 16,000 of these does not average more than 4s. each. Probably the figures the honorable senator has quoted might be analyzed in the same way.
– That is, no doubt, a justifiable criticism of the figures.
– The Savings Banks pay interest only on a certain amount.
– That is so; and the difficulty is overcome by persons lodging deposits in the names of relatives and trustees. But after all that may be said by way of objection, the figures remain, and they show that Australia is one of the richest countries- in the world to-day, and the amount of Savings Bank deposits per head is higher in Australia than in any other country in the world. Again, the thrift and industry of a people is often indicated by the extent to which they take advantage of the opportunities afforded them to insure their lives, or the lives of persons dependent upon them. And, in the matter of life insurance, I believe that the people of Australia also hold the record against the world. That is to say, that the general thrift and standard of living of the people in Australia are exceeded in no other country in the world. I am astonished to find in the Senate, and in representative bodies throughout Australia, that the very men whose presence in the country, it may be admitted, is a benefit to Australia as well as of great benefit to themselves, and who may thank God for the day 011 which their fathers, or themselves, came to this country, are the very men who to-day say that what Governments have in the past done for their fathers, or for themselves, shall be done for nobody else. I wish to enter a strong protest against anything which disparages a single State in Australia or Australia itself, and suggests that it is an undesirable place for people to come to. It seems to me to follow, as an axiom, that if this is not a desirable country for our kith and “kin to come to, it is not a desirable country for our children to stay in. We all hope that Australia will prove to be a good country for our children, and surely, if it is, it must be a good country for other people to come to. I shall give another test of the extraordinary prosperity and advancement of Australia coincidentally with the increase of our population. I take now the deposits in banks, which may be said to represent very largely investments and profits in business, and I select three or four figures from a table before me. I find that, in 1901, we had in our banks non-interest-bearing deposits amounting; to £37,457,960, and interest-bearing deposits amounting to , £54,529,188, making a total of £91,487,148, averaging , £24 2s. 9d. per head of population. In 1904, the figures were - noninterestbearing deposits, . £35,630,255 ; interest-bearing deposits, £55,917,848; total, £91,548,103, representing , £23 3s. 3d. per head of the population. In 1907, the figures had increased enormously, and we had non-interest-bearing deposits, , £46,781,234; interest-bearing deposits, £65,916,735; total, £1 12,697,969; representing £27 2s.1d. per head of our population. I doubt if any country on earth can show such wealth per head of population. It is therefore absurd for honorable senators opposite to say that Australia is not a desirable country for people to come to.
– Who said that?
– I am glad that the honorable senator is disposed to qualify his remarks.
– I do not qualify anything I have said. I have never said that Australia is an undesirable country for people to come to. I say that it is the best country on earth ; but that, at the present time, there are few opportunities open to those who want land to get it, or to obtain employment.
– If Australia is a rich and prosperous country, I hold that that should be made known to the world ; but some honorable senators wish that the facts about Australia should not be made known to the world. They blame the late Government for having spent only , £3,000 of a vote of , £20,000 for advertising the resources of Australia, but my complaint is that a vote of £20,000 is not sufficient. Senator Findley now says that he does not doubt the richness of Australia, and is not prepared to deny the marvellous progress we have made ; and I ask whether the honorable senator wishes to keep his knowledge on these points entirely for home consumption ? Is no one abroad to be told of these things? It is extraordinary that when people are so ready to seize and remember the many libels cast upon Australia, the honorable senator should find fault with the Government for doing what they can to remove the false impressions of Australia held abroad.
– Knowledge will not give land to people who want land, or food to hungry men.
– Surely there is no harm in letting the facts be known? That is what the late Government tried to do. Doubtless, the object of letting the facts be known abroad is to attract persons to this country. There might be some dispute about the extent to which financial assistance should be afforded to persons coming to Australia, but there should be no dispute about advertising the resources of the country to induce immigration. I believe that a continuation of the policy of assisted immigration is justifiable to-day. We should do our best to attract to Australia a desirable type of settlers. Many of those who were assisted to reach this country by the expenditure of the different States are amongst our best citizens to-day. Viewing this questionrom the historical side, and bearing in mind the progress of events, I maintain that the party which is opposed to immigration could not do more effective work than it is doing for China and Japan. The population of China and Japan: is estimated at more than 400,000,000. At its present rate of increase, in sixty-five years it will number 800,000,000. Within the same period the population of Australia will be only about 8,000,000. Seeing that a vanguard of 40,000,000 of Mongolians is within three days’ sail ofhe Commonwealth what do these figures suggest? If the members of the party which is opposed to immigration were the paid spies of the Court of. Japan, they could not take steps more calculated to make Australia the home of the vellow race than those which they are taking. Look at the awakening of China. See howJapan has recentlv fought and defeated one of the greatest militarv nations in the world. If our present policy of inaction continues, it will need the special interposition of Providence to prevent Australia from becoming a mere province of Japan.
– I should not have risen to address the Committee had it not been for the reply which Senator Findley vouchsafed to an innocent interjection which I made whilst he was addressing the Chamber. In discussing the motion for the first reading of this Bill yesterday afternoon, I briefly expressed my views upon the proposed expenditure by the Commonwealth in advertising its resources. I pointed out that until we taxed the unimproved values of land it would be idle to spend money in that direction, because the Commonwealth really has no land available upon which immigrants may be settled. Of course, I recognise that in Western Australia, which I have the honour to represent, an abundance of land is available for settlement, and the most liberal land laws are in existence. But in Australia, as a whole, the same opportunities for the settlement of people upon the land do not exist. Whilst Senator Findley was speaking I interjected that he was not so loud in his protestations against this particular item on former occasions as he has been today. His reply was that I was insinuating that he was opposed to the present Government simply because he chanced to descant for a few moments upon this item. I had no intention of doing anything of the sort. Hansard will prove that the statement which I made was perfectly accurate. Reference to pages 5846, 6348, and 6349 of the second session of this Parliament will show that he was not so vehement in his denunciation of this item upon previous occasions as he has been this afternoon.
– I raised my voice in opposition to it last year.
– I do not question that statement, and I wish to assure the honorable senator that I made no insinuation that he was opposed to the present Government. But why, I ask, all the vehemence which he exhibited this afternoon? Echo answers, “Why?” Whilst I recognise that the sum of ,£20,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, viewed from one stand-point, is too large, I admit that from another it is too small. I believe that the Commonwealth is possessed of vast resources which should be advertised. But until we pass an Act which will have the effect of bursting up the large estates in this coun try, it would be unwise to invite immigrants to our shores. I am glad to think that before very long such a measure will be placed upon our statute-book.
– It would be exceedingly regrettable if the impression were allowed to get abroad that the influx of a large population to Australia would be accompanied by depression. That idea is in direct antagonism to the experience of the past century. During that time the population of Europe has doubled, and yet the average well-being of its people has increased. Honorable senators are well aware that during the past twenty-five years there has been a marked advance in the average well-being of the people of the United States, and yet, within the same period, there has been a large volume of immigration to that country. Consequently, the idea promulgated by Senator Findley that an increase in our population would mean a decrease in our material well-being is not supported by experience.
– I recognise that this is a matter which affects a very large number of people. In the first place, I desire to point out that no member of the Labour Party is opposed to desirable immigrants being permitted to enter the Commonwealth. Although Queensland has expended £[3,000,000 in an endeavour to attract population to her shores, its public men to-day realize that a great mistake was made when it inaugurated the system of indiscriminate immigration. No member of the Queensland Parliament would now dare to advocate a renewal of that system. They say: “We are prepared to assist immigrants to come to Queensland if they have had a training upon the soil, and are prepared to take up land.” Nobody objects to that. But it cannot be denied that there are large numbers of persons scattered throughout the Commonwealth today who are desirous of obtaining land, but who are unable to do so. Australia is certainly a wealthy country - from the stand-point of its material well-being there is none wealthier. But we must pay regard to the experience of other countries. Senator Pulsford has remarked that it would be a mistake to promulgate the idea that an influx of population would be accompanied by depression. Mav I point out that nobdy has ever given utterance to such a foolish notion. The more people there are settled upon our country lands the greater will be the prosperity in our cities.
But the fact remains that in every State of the Commonwealth there are persons who are unable to obtain land at a price which will suit their pockets. Only the other evening, Mr. Swinburne, the ex-Minister of Agriculture in Victoria, declared that something would have to be done to promote land settlement in this State. He affirmed that it is losing population, and that there are large tracts of country in this State upon which fewer people are settled today than were settled there twenty years ago. Such a condition of things does not spell prosperity.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4s p.m.
– We do not assert, as alleged by Senator Pulsford, that a large population necessarily means depression. But what do we find in the principal countries of Europe? In Germany, where there are fairly good imposts on land, and manufacturers have been encouraged for years, there is an enormous amount of employment offering, and emigration has dropped off to a very large extent. There was ‘a large emigration from Germany some years ago, but it is now practically non-existent. In France, where there are also large imposts on land, a considerable proportion of the population is engaged in agricultural pursuits. The consequence is that there is not the amount of poverty in France that is found elsewhere, whilst there* is practically no emigration. But in England the state of things is quite different. The Government say that they have to find employment for 45,000 men. Millions of money are being spent at the dockyards. Only last week there was a deputation of members of the House of Commons to the President of the Local Government Board, and the statement was made to him that there were in England 6.600,000 of people out of employment. The Minister admitted candidly that the unemployment evil was serious. There is a considerable agitation with the object of getting land for settlement. The cry of a large number of people in England practically is that the unemployed must be chased out of the country. They say, “Go to Canada or to America, or to blazes, if you like, as long as you clear out and relieve the pressure upon the labour market.” If we look nearer home, we find that things are very awkward in some of the Australian States. Two years ago I was in Tasmania. Senator Mulcahy says he is satisfied that room could be found for 25,000 adult femalesevery year. But when I was in the State herepresents I found that a large number of people were anxious to leave. The young men have been going in hundreds, either te* the Mainland or to New Zealand. I cannot see what inducement there is to bring out. adult females. I observed in the newspapers a few days ago a paragraph from. Western Australia relating to the strike in the timber industry. A large number of men from Southern Europe have gone toWestern Australia. They fell out with those who employed them, and went on. strike. They did not strike in the ordinary British way, but got possession of guns, with which they were determined te* prevent other men from going to work. I notice that a member of the Western Australian Parliament said that the fault lay with the Commonwealth Government for allowing these people to enter theState. Only this week I observed that the Queensland Premier stated that a man who had been brought to this country by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had beet* thrown on the State, because the company refused to accept any responsibility for him. The Premier admitted that the Government had to do something, from a humane point of view, but he objected tothe Federal Government giving permits for such people to be brought into Australia without consultation with the State Government. When the exPrimeMinister, Mr. Deakin, approached the Premiers of the States on the subject of immigration, he said : “ We do not mind spending money in advertising, but you must tell us exactly how you are going to place the people when we bring them here.” The State Premiers, in answer, practically said : “ Mind your own business,” and declined to give any information as to the land they had for settlement purposes. Wherever one goes in this country at present, one finds people who say that the want of Australia is immigration. But if one says, “What is your occupation?” and the. reply is that the person is a carpenter or a saddler, they do not listen kindly to the suggestion that we should bring out a number of people to follow those occupations. They say, “ We do not want such people at all ; there is not enough work to go round at present. We want’ people who will enter into competition with the labourer.” The labourer apparently does not take sufficient interest in such matters to protect himself. I remember that when there was an agitation in Queensland for the importation of kanaka labour many artisans signed petitions in favour of the proposal. They said that the kanakas would not affect their avocations, and -they did not seem to think that it made much difference if coloured people were brought in to compete with labourers. I a.m reminded of what took place in the western -part, of Queensland at the time of the big strike. Large numbers of the hotels employed Chinese cooks, and in the towns many people were getting their bread for their families from the Chinese. The union men came to the conclusion that it was hardly fair for them to be patronizing hotelkeepers and storekeepers who employed Chinese, and they carried a resolution to the effect that they should . cease to deal with tradesmen who did so. The result was that the hotelkeepers and storekeepers were soon almost tumbling over each other to get rid of their Chinese. They saw that there was some reason in the position taken up bv the union men. It is just “the Raine in connexion with this question. People are quite willing to have immigrants brought to Australia so long as competition in their particular avocations is not increased. It is said that domestic servants should be brought out, and that there is plenty of employment for them. A few months ago I was in the back country a few hundred miles from Brisbane. At the hotel where I put up there was a young! woman who had recently been brought out from England. I was talking about the immigration question with the hotelkeeper. He told me that this girl had been brought out under misrepresentations. She had no idea of what the conditions in Australia were. She had been planted down in a little place, to reach which she had had to travel about 300 miles bv train and about 120 miles by coach. She was thoroughly dissatisfied, although the hotelkeeper said that she was a. good girl, who understood her work. “The girl herself was of opinion that she had been induced to come under false pretences, and she had sent letters home to her friends warning them to have nothing to do with Australia, and pointing out how she had been treated. That is a bad advertisement for Australia. It does a great deal of harm. So long as misleading reports are circulated in the Old Country, so long shall we have such conditions existing. Not many years ago
Queensland was doing a good deal in connexion with immigration. There were just a few persons coming out, and, in response to an agitation for female domestic servants, the representatives of Queensland in the Old Country became particularly active. Girls were brought out, and I was informed that one leading spirit in the agitation had had no less than fourteen girls in her house in twelve months. The labour was available. .A girl would be engaged at the lowest possible rate; she would stay in the house until she could find time to mix with the people and ascertain the local conditions and rates of wages, and then, becoming dissatisfied with her lot, she would ask for an increase of pay. During the time that immigrants were coming in regularly, women were to be seen at the immigration depot, whenever a ship arrived, searching for fresh servants, and always complaining that the supply was not sufficient. This sort of advertising resolves itself into a question of labour. Employers want to use the power and the credit of the State with the object of introducing a surplus of labour, upon which they may be able to draw at practically their own terms. On the other hand, there is a large number of persons who have labour to sell, and who realize what the conditions are. There are primary industries which afford employment for only a certain portion of the year. Take, for instance, the sugar industry. In the harvesting season the planters require hundreds of men to be rushed into a district. The men make fairly good money for a time, but as soon as the crop is harvested they ca.11 go where they like. That is not a matter which interests the planters, who depend upon there being a sufficient surplus of labour to compel the men to return to the district for the next harvesting season. During this session, Senator W. Russell has stated that the same thing takes place in South Australia. The farmers offer £2 a week to nien for harvesting operations, but the work lasts for only a month or, perhaps, five weeks, and afterwards the men can go where they like. Probably there is very little work available to them for a number of months. Honorable senators on this side have no objection to any number of persons coming into Australia, provided that on the other side of the world they are told that there is casual labour here for a portion of the year, and that there is a possibility of their being able to .get land and settle down on it.
That is the class of immigrants whom we require, and to whom I think no one has raised any objection. It has been said that those who are opposing this item are working in the interests of Chinamen and Japanese. Ever since I have been in Australia, the one force .which has compelled the various Parliaments to pass legislation against the importation of the Asiatic has been the Labour Party. In New South Wales they carried on an agitation for years. In Queensland they were employed for years and years in educating the public mind, until sufficient influence was brought to bear to induce the Government to ask Parliament to pass preventive legislation. Why was it done? Simply because they had had a very salutary lesson in 1878. Had it not been for the organization of the seamen on the coast, the” boats would have been manned from stem to stern with Chinese, and they would have been retained until to-day. That is the sort of lesson which taught the workers that they must use their power and influence to compel the Legislatures to carry out what they believed to be the will of the majority.
– And the shopkeepers helped us to knock out the Chinaman.
– Yes, because they realized that the Chinese would eventually come into competition with themselves. Had it been merely a question of the Chinese coming into competition with the seamen, it would have been a matter of indifference to the storekeepers, but they knew the race, and, being intelligent men, they recognised that if Chinese were allowed to come in to take the work out of the hands of the labourer, it would displace the artisan, and eventually establish distributing businesses. This question must be considered as much” from the point of view of the worker as from the point of view of the capitalist. In many cases, the capitalist contends that he is paying too much for his labour. I do not think that any one here will contend that the standard of living in Australia is too high. If it is not too high, then it is an act of cruelty to induce any persons to come out from the Old Country by circulating all sorts of false information, and alleging that we have a varitey of resources of which they can avail themselves. What have we read in the press during the last day or two?. The Lands Department of Victoria has been inundated with inquiries from the United States from men who have been induced to write by the reports of the press correspondents with the American
Fleet. In their reports they stated that Australia wanted immigrants, and especially farmers, that it was in a position to give any quantity of free land, and that the Government - I suppose that the pressmen did not discriminate between the State and the Commonwealth - would hand $10,000 to each man as he went ashore, in order to induce him to go on to the land. That sort of report is not doing any good to Australia. It induces a number of persons to come here under false pretences.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the press correspondents reported that immigrants would get $10,000 each?
– They said that there was free land, and that $10,000 would be given, or rather .advanced, to the immigrants to assist them to go on the land and make homes for themselves.
– Who made that pro. mise to them ?
– It was made in a newspaper report which was sent to the United States.
– Where is the $10,000 to come from ?
– From the Treasury.
– Is it worth while for the honorable senator to repeat such ai cock and bull story?
– The honorable- senator knows that for years and years- a> number of persons were induced by false pretences to come to Australia, and that is the worst kind of immigrant whom we could possibly get.
– Ninety-nine persons out of 100 are delighted that they did: come here.
– There is a largenumber of persons who are glad that they came here. I am.
– So am I.
– I do not suppose that I could have done as well in the country I came from as here. I do not object to advertising the Commonwealth, provided’ that cooked information is not published.
– Is it a State or theCommonwealth Government which is offering the inducement of $10,000?
– That information is not given in the report which is alleged” by the press to have been sent to America by one of the press correspondents with the American Fleet. Persons in America* who in all probability had not heard much of Australia before inundated the Lands Department of Victoria with letters, stating that they were prepared to come along until an official denial was despatched.
– The honorable senator must think that the Americans are awfully dull.
– I do not suggest that they are dull, but I know that years ago in England there was an idea abroad that persons could get land practically free, and all sorts of assistance in different parts of the world. I believe that, in many cases, the report was true, but many persons believed whatever they saw in the local newspapers, and thus were induced to come out. Afterwards they wrote to their friends, stating that they had been induced to emigrate under false pretences. Honorable senators on this side object to the circulation of false information.
– Is that the only objection to the vote?
– Yes. I do not believe there is a single senator on this side who would object to information being published in the Old Country, or elsewhere, so long as only facts regarding Australia were stated. Did Dr. Arthur send facts to the Old Country? No. He has been sending misrepresentations for the last twelve months.
– Who is to be the judge of the facts?
– Is it hard for the Government to instruct its officials to narrate the facts concerning Australia, and then see that they are verified before they are circulated on the other side of the world ? Oftentimes, the intention is not to give the facts regarding a place, but to disseminate glowing statements which will induce persons to come out only to tell their friends at Home the exact position afterwards. In Queensland, we have had a large experience of that system. In one year we introduced 40,000 persons.
– That was when Queensland was most successful, I am told.
– No. As a matter of fact a very large number of those persons, although they had been brought out at the expense of the State, did not remain there very long, and penal legislation had to be enacted to . prevent assisted immigrants from leaving the State within a given time. In Victoria and New South Wales there are thousands of persons who were brought to Australia at the expense of Queensland’, and who left that State practically as soon as they arrived.
– It is the same all over the world. Canada has had a similar experience.
– The honorable senator does not know anything about the matter. The Queensland Government have spent more money on immigration than the Governments of all the other States combined.
– That is the reason Queensland has progressed as she has done.
– It is not. Very many of the people who were brought out to Queensland at the expense of the taxpayers of that State, finding they had been misled as to the then prevailing conditions, cleared out of the State.
– They remained in Australia.
– And I suppose Senator Gray would not object if other States Governments spent a million ortwo of money in introducing immigrants who, on their arrival, would pour into the centres of population. This is a labour question. I do not blame the employers of labour for supporting these proposals. What they want is to have a surplus of labour on which they can draw so that they may be able to obtain the labour they require at the lowest possible cost.
– That is the old gag.
– It is an old cry, but has it not always been true? Do people who employ labour pay more for it than they are compelled to pay?
– Many employers pay what is right.
– They pay no more than they are compelled to pay, according to the condition of the labour market, unless the industry is one in which the workers can secure the benefit of an award by an Arbitration Court or Wages Board. Not long ago, an award was made by an Arbitration Court in Australia which affected 30,000 or 40,000 men. The rate to be paid for the shearing of many millions of sheep in Australia was raised as the result of that award by 4s. per 100. Will Senator Gray say that the employers in the pastoral industry did not contend that they were paying fair wages to labour, when they paid no more than 15s. per hundred for the shearing of sheep? It is only because the workers in the industry, by organization, have been able to demand something like a reasonable wage, and have been able to appeal to the Arbitration Court, that the shearing rates have been raised 4s. per hundred, and the men must get rations at cost price with carriage added, and 10 per cent. These conditions were not observed by the employers in the industry until the men compelled them to give these terms. I am free to admit that if I were an employer of labour I should probably try to secure the best labour possible at the lowest rate. Do employers pay any more for other commodities they require in carrying on their businesses ?
– Many employers pay equitable wages.
– They pay what they consider fair rates for the class of labour they require, and if they think they can secure better labour by giving an extra shilling perday for it, they may do so. In this matter, I do not blame the employer any more than I blame the man who has his labour to sell. The man who wishes to buy desires to do so at the cheapest rate, whilst the man who has something to sell wants the highest price he can get. It is only because the interests of employers of labour are more identical, and they are, generally speaking, more intelligent, and act together more readily than do the workers, that they are able to get this kind of legislation carried. If people in America, or in other parts of the world, who have their labour to sell, are made acquainted with the actual conditions existing in Australia, and it is shown that they can be absorbed here, I shall have no objection to their coming in thousands. All that we ask is that advertising by the Commonwealth in the Old’ Country, or anywhere else, shall be confined to a true statement of the actual conditions in Australia, so that people shall not be induced to come to this country under a false impression, and will not be disappointed and disgusted when they arrive.
Question - That the House of Representativesbe requested to leave out the item, “ Advertising resources of the Commonwealth, £20,000 “ (Senator Findley’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like to have some information about the proposed vote of , £1,500 for the repatriation of Pacific Islanders. I thought that the work of returning these people to their islands had been completed. I direct attention also to the item “ Towards expenses of press representatives to the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce, £1,000.” I understand that there is to be a Congress of the Chambers of Commerce of Australia.
– No; of the British Empire.
– I understand that the vote is to cover the expenses of a number of press representatives, who are to be invited to come to Australia to attend the meetings of the Congress. I suppose that the vote is to be considered a part of the advertising business undertaken by the Government.
– The vote of £1,500 for the repatriation of Pacific Islanders is intended to provide for the repatriation of any waifs and strays of that unfortunate race who were for so long the slaves of circumstances in Queensland. It is believed that this vote will be sufficient to complete the repatriation of the kanakas. With respect to the vote of , £1,000 towards the expenses of press representatives to the Congress of Chambers of Commerce, the previous Government proposed, and we consider the idea a very good one, that some little inducement should be offered to pressmen through their association in the Old Country to attend the proceedings of the Congress.
– Then we should subsidize the press for doing its own business ?
– No; this is a special matter. There should not be so much objection to extending the knowledge of our country in other parts of the world. I hope that if any pressmen are induced to visit Australia as the result of this votes some commensurate advantage will accrue to the Commonwealth.
– ls the money to be sent to the Press Association in England, or is it to be given to the press representatives who attend the Congress?
– The local Chambers of Commerce will make all the arrangements.
– Will they invite a representative from Mr. Keir Hardie’s newspaper?
– I do not know. I think that the vote is submitted for a laudable purpose, and is calculated to serve Australia as well as any other form of advertisement that might be adopted.
.- After the explanation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item, “Towards expenses of press representatives to the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce, j£ 1,000.”
Are we to understand that this is to be a Congress of Australian Chambers of Commerce ?
– No; it is an Empire - Congress, which is to be held in Sydney.
- Senator Pulsford evidently knows more about this Congress than the Minister was disposed to tell the Committee. I do not care where the Congress is to be held. I do not think it is wise that the national Parliament of Australia should subsidize influential and powerful newspapers to send representatives to report the proceedings of such a gathering. What object is to be gained ? If the information that will be obtainable at that Congress will be of any value to British newspaper proprietors, surely it is their duty to pay the expenses incidental to securing representation at it ! The proposal that the taxpayers’ money should be utilized to defray the personal expenses of the employes of influential British journals is an unparalleled one. If this item be agreed to, will any distinction be made regarding the class of press representatives who will be invited to Australia ?
– I understand that the editor of The Clarion will be one.
– I will guarantee that the request for this expenditure did not emanate from the editor of The Clarion, which is a socialistic journal published in London. Nor do I think that.it proceeded from the Labour Leader, or from Reynolds’ Newspaper, notwithstanding that those journals are not nearly so strong financially as are other newspapers published in Great Britain. What good will the Commonwealth derive from the expenditure of this money ? We have been told that certain sums are available for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. We know that printed matter in the form of booklets, circulars, and pamphlets is being circulated throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, which contains probably all the information that will be forthcoming at the Congress to be held in Sydney. I hope that the good sense of the Committee will recognise that it is not our duty, as representative men, to vote £1,000 of the taxpayers’ money to subsidize the private newspaper proprietors of Great Britain to report the commonplace proceedings of a Congress exactly similar to gatherings which have been held in various parts of Australia at different times.
– As the proposed Congress of the Chambers of Commerce will not be held until September of next year, this money will probably not be expended until the following year.
– Then why vote it now ?
– Because it is absolutely necessary to make the” financial provision this year. Honorable senators will recognise that the gathering, in an Australian city, of the Chambers of Commerce of the Empire will be a unique event,’ and will present to us an opportunity which ought not to be lost. If that gathering should take place, a number of first-class reporters will be sent out to Australia to report, not only the proceedings of the’ Congress itself, but the visits which its members will pay to the. various; centres of the Commonwealth. Those reports will give us an amount of advertising that will be worth far more than £1,000. I will undertake to say that no portion of the £20,000 which we have just voted for advertising Australia will be productive of such good results as will the expenditure that is now proposed in connexion with the reporting of the proceedings of the associated Chambers of Commerce of the Empire.
– I hope that this vote will not be seriously opposed. Those who have followed the course of events in the Old Country must be aware that the Australian news which appears in the English press is of a most meagre character. Seeing that it does not please the newspaper proprietors of Great Britain to devote more attention to Australian affairs, the duty devolves upon us of compelling them to do so, even if we have to pay for the advertisement.
– Purchase it.
– I am quite prepared to do that. The Commonwealth cannot afford to commit itself to the policy of hiding its light under a bushel. By advertising our resources in the Old Country we may even succeed in inducing some British manufacturers to establish industries in our midst, and that would not be a bad thing. If we can only persuade them to engage in manufacturing enterprises here those enterprises will not only provide a further measure of employment, but will also assist in breaking up any monopolies which may exist. At any rate; if we vote this money, we shall only be acting consistently, seeing that we have already authorized the expenditure of £20,000 in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator would not have voted for that item had he thought that the money would be spent.
– Yes, I would. So far as Victoria is concerned, there is no need to advertise its resources, because under existing conditions there is not much room for further expansion. For my own part, I shall not hang back when an endeavour is being made to tell the people of Great Britain that there is room in Australia for persons with a little capital who will not be competitors in our labour market when they arrive here. I intend to vote for the item, in the belief that the proposed expenditure will be productive of good results.
Senator Sir ROBERT BEST (Victoria) [8.41.]. - I confess that I am somewhat amazed at the opposition to a vote of this kind.
– Of course.
– One reason that recommends it to me is that it was placed on the Estimates by the late Government, and that it was not placed there lightly. I should have thought that in having a meeting within the Commonwealth, of representatives of the Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, we would have regarded ourselves as privileged. But we cannot invite a large number of guests to our shores without incurring a considerable expenditure. The Chambers of Commerce of the States have already shown the extent of their own hospitality by providing something like . £5,000 towards the expenses of the visiting delegates. New South Wales is contributing £500, Victoria , £500, and some of the other States, I think, are also contributing.
– Who is subscribing £5,000 ?
– The Chambers of Commerce of the States, who are to be the hosts. That is the sum which they have provided towards the expenses that will be incurred by these delegates in visiting Australia. The States, I repeat, are also contributing, and an appeal was made to the Commonwealth to follow their example. In reply, the Commonwealth stated that it desired to encourage the visit of representatives of the British press in order that we might have the benefits that would flow from their observation of our resources and of various other matters of interest to the Empire. Therefore, the late Government saw their way to ask Parliament to contribute the sum of £1,000 towards the expenses of visiting press representatives. We are constantly boasting of our anxiety to make our resources known, to attract capital, and to have industries established in our midst. Now, there is no more effective means of achieving those objects than that of bringing to our shores pressmen who will be induced to talk about us, and to disseminate information regarding the possibilities of trade and commerce in this quarter of the globe. Under the circumstances, it cannot reasonably be. urged that the expenditure of £1,000 for an advertisement of this kind is extravagant. In the highest and best interests of the Commonwealth we ought not to hesitate to authorize it. Why honorable senators should grumble at the expenditure of such a miserable sum in obtaining such a magnificent advertisement passes my comprehension. I hope that honorable senators will see their way to withdraw their objection in view of the explanation that has been made, and will rather give encouragement to the Chambers of Commerce to assist in making the Congress a complete success.
– I trust that the item under discussion will be struck out. Senator Best cannot understand why any one should be opposed to it. The reason why I am opposed to the vote is this : I should be very glad to see the Chambers of Commerce come to Australia, but I am opposed to a subsidy because I regard the Congress as purely and simply a political body.
– The honorable senator isquite mistaken.
SenatorE. J. RUSSELL.- I should like the honorable senator to mention the Chamber of Commerce that does not discuss politics. I know that nominally these bodies are concerned with trade, but they deal with politics nevertheless. I object to the Commonwealth granting a subsidy for such a purpose.Where is the Chamber of Commerce that does not directly or indirectly subsidize political parties of a particular complexion?
– I do not know one that does.
– It is a pity that we have not the agenda paper of the Congress before us. I have not the slightest doubt that one of the first Orders of the Day will be a motion to the effect that Australia is retarding trade between various portions of the Empire by means of its Immigration Restriction Act. Secondly, I venture to predict there will be a motion to the effect that Australia is hindering the natural development of the country on account of Arbitration Acts and Factories Acts. Let honorable senators who support this subsidy name the Chamber of Commerce in Australia that has not, not once, but a hundred times, subsidized political parties whose objects were to prevent such laws from coming into force.
– The honorable senator cannot name one Chamber of Commerce that has given a subsidy for such a purpose.
– My honorable friend cannot name one that has not done so. Some honorable senators support the vote because they think it desirable to invite representatives of the press to Australia. I venture to say that nothing has been so injurious to Australia as the writings of so-called experts and pressmen and other globe-trotters who, having come to this country, have spent about a month here, and have then given their impressions to theworld. I am reminded of Major Trevor, who was here not long ago, and thought he knew all about Australia after travelling through the country with a cricket team.
– He was not a pressman.
– He wrote for leading English newspapers, and displayed in everything that came from his pen his ignorance of Australian affairs. We had another case in connexion with the American Fleet. An American pressman was in Melbourne for about a week, and I need hardly comment upon what was written by him concerning the affairs of this country in the journals that he represented.
– Would the honorable senator shut out pressmen?
– Not at all. But I see no reason why the Commonwealth Government should subsidize them. Senator Lynch has expressed his belief that the manufacturers may be induced to establish businesses here as a consequence of this visit. I really had no idea that there were British manufacturers or commercial men in any part of the British Empire who did not know more about the commercial possibilities of Australia than perhaps most of us in this Senate do.
– I am afraid that they know little or nothing.
– I should be sorry to believe such a statement, which, if true, would show that leading commercial men are unfitted to compete for the world’s business. I have no hesitation in saying that the items on the agenda paper of the Congress will not only be of a political character, but will strongly attack the laws passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. Are we to subsidize a body of that sort? Suppose Parliament were asked to subsidize a conference of the working-class representatives of the Empire ! Would honorable senators say that trade unions are not as much interested in the development of manufactures ana trade as the members of the Chambers of Commerce are? They may not have so much capital at stake, but they have something more valuable. They have their whole life interest, and the welfare of their women and children, at stake.
– If the honorable senator asks me whether I would vote for a subsidy to bring out a number of British working men to see what Australia is like, I have no hesitation in saying “ Yes.”
– The honorable senator’s vote, would be as a drop of eau-de-cologne poured into the Yarra. I have no doubt that such a proposition would receive very little support from his party. I should be just as ready to oppose a subsidy to a trade unions’ congress as I am opposed to this item, because it is not the business of the Commonwealth to subsidize a body which intends to discuss political affairs.
– Trade unions do not profess to be political bodies.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the trade unions will show the honorable senator at the next election that they know a good deal about politics. I hope that the item will be struck out, though not because we have no desire to see the Congress meeting in Australia.
– This is not a subsidy to the Congress.
– What does the honorable senator think that the pressmen are going to report when they come to Australia? Does he imagine that they will simply publish elaborate reports of the Congress? They will, in all probability, telegraph merely a few words to the journals which they represent, such as “ Congress unanimously carried resolution against the Immigration Restriction Act,” or “Against the Arbitration laws.”
– If the honorable senator would express his ideas to the Chambers of Commerce in advance, there would be no need for them to meet.
– What are the Chambers of Commerce in Australia trying. to do? They are trying to prevent the operation of Arbitration Acts and Factories Acts. Only yesterday, the President of the Chamber of Commerce here appealed to the State Government not to apply factory legislation in the case of the sawmillers. I hope that the item will be struck out, and that if at any time a proposition is made by the Labour Party or any other party for a subsidy for a political gathering, it will be objected to
. -I find myself in disagreement with Senator Best in the remarks with which he opened his address. He expressed himself as feeling surprise at the opposition made to this proposal. I should have been surprised if there had not been some opposition. But, whileI recognise that opposition was quite expected and is a very healthy sign, I am surprised that there has not been more logic in the manner in which the attack has been developed. Not. very long ago, we had honorable senators opposite declaring, with all the fervour which they can work up when they think that it is not desirable to proceed too rapidly with business, that they desire that the true position of affairs in Australia should be made known in Great Britain. It is alleged that every effort made by the Commonwealth to represent Australia affairs to the Englishmen, the Scotchmen, and the Irishmen at Home has been characterized by more or less exaggeration. An opportunity is here furnished by which we can invite leading British journalists to come and see the country for themselves, and convey to their readers a fair and truthful impression of the state of affairs existing here to-day. It gives us an opportunity of circulating information about Australia which will be far more valuable than any officiallyprepared document sent from this side of the world. I think I can suggest a simple test to show whether this suggestion is sound or not. Assume for a moment that a proposal were made - and Something of this kind was suggested not long ago - by which every public man in Australia would have an opportunity to visit Great Britain, and see things for himself. Would it not enable us to obtain a much clearer conception of things as they are than we could derive from the study of any amount of literature? The proposal now made is the reverse of that. It is not a proposal that we should go to England, but a proposal that the picked men of the journalistic world should be invited to come here from Great Britain and present to their readers their impressions of Australia. Would they not be likely, with their trained journalistic pens, to sketch valuable pictures for the enlightenment of our fellow countrymen on the other side of the world?
– The honorable senator says that they will be picked men. Who will pick them?
– I cannot conceive of important British journals sending out on a mission of this kind men who are not trained.
– That is sq, if the journals pick them, but it will not be so if they are subsidized-
– I am asked to believe that if an English journal picks a mail for an important mission, and pays his expenses, it will choose one who is competent, but that if other people pay part of the expenses, the journal will send one who is incompetent.
– They will not care.
– The people who manage important British journals are keen commercial men, and I believe that there will be, on the part of newspaper conductors, an effort to vie with one another in sending out the brightest, best, and ablest of their men.
– The honorable senator means that they will not do that unless they get this thousand pounds. They must be very enterprising !
– I believe that the important newspapers of Great Britain will be represented here whether the £1,000 is voted or not; but, nevertheless, it is possible that this vote will aid the effort being made by our own Chambers of Commerce, and will enlarge the area of representation that we hope will be secured.
– All for the benefit of the people of Sydney !
– Nothing short of the blotting of Sydney from the map would satisfy the honorable senator; and, even then, he would make it a first-class grievance that Sydney was represented by a vacant place. I earnestly trust that the Committee will, by a substantial majority, indorse the present proposal.
– When an Australian visits the Old Country, one of the most surprising facts that is brought under his notice is that he can scarcely find in the newspapers anything relating to Australia. He will have plenty of items about remote and less important parts of the world, but when he wants information about the affairs of this country he will not find it in the daily newspapers. We can surely try to remedy that state of things. The proposal now made represents one way of effecting an improvement. It is objected, however, that the Chambers of Commerce are political bodies. That is assuming far too much. We are not en titled to make such an assumption. Furthermore, this vote is not for the benefit of the Chambers of Commerce, but for the purpose of inducing press representatives to come to Australia. It is not to be assumed that the politics discussed by the Chambers of Commerce will be reflected by the press representatives who will come from England. They will be men of the very highest repute in their profession, and representing leading newspapers of various shades of political thought ; their duty will be to transmit correct reports, and to describe Australia, as it is. The comparison that has been made between the globe-trotter who occasionally visits Australia and the trained journalists who will come here on the occasion referred to, does not appeal to me. Major Trevor; who has been mentioned, was not, I think, a journalist.
– What about Mr. Clotworthy, one of the American press representatives?
– Major Trevor is not the sort of man who would be sent out from England on an occasion of this kind. Why should honorable senators opposite be afraid to have Australian legislation discussed by the Congress of Chambers of Commerce, if there is a disposition to discuss it? What is there to be ashamed of? Whyshould we not encourage people to come and see. how our legislation is working? Should we not rather be disposed to invite criticism, and to induce competent observers to notice how our White Australia law, our labour protecting devices, and the other liberal legislation that has been passed by this Parliament and the States Parliaments are operating. Although the amount asked for is small, I believe that it will do a great deal of good. I trust that the item will be agreed to, believing that the expenditure of £1,000 in this way would be far more valuable to Australia than £20,000 spent in some other directions.
– I think that the proposal under discussion is one of the most useful that has been brought before us. I have no doubt that impartial reports about Australia will be . furnished bv the British pressmen who are to visit the country in connexion with the Congress of Chambers of Commerce, and I do not think we could find a better way than this of getting information spread broadcast throughout the United Kingdom. I shall illustrate the probable effect of this vote by instancing the visit of the American Fleet. In a conversation with one of the highest officials of that fleet regarding his impressions of Australia, he said quite frankly : “ I had no idea of the progress of Australia from a political as well as an intellectual point of view. I have seen in Australia a civilization which is superior in many respects to the highest civilization in the United States, and, in some respects, to the highest civilization in the capitals of Europe. Until I came here I had no correct impression of Australia, its advancement, and its magnificent cities. I have had some glimpses of the country. Wherever I go, I shall be a messenger pointing out your high civilization, your splendid democratic institutions, and the fact that Government and people seem to work together, especially for the advancement of all classes, better here than in any other place in the world that I have seen.” Not one of us will have a chance of interfering with these journalists. They will be picked and impartial men. They will not enter, I presume, into the political arena, and I anticipate that the very glowing expressions which fell from the Admirals and officers of the American Fleet will be repeated by them when they come to see our progress and our possibilities. If they do that, and scatter the information broadcast, as they will, through in- * fluential newspapers, in the name of common sense what harm can be done to any interests in Australia ? What harm can arise to any political party ? Can the most rabid senator on the other side say that there is any probability of the slightest injury being done to party or class, to man, woman, or child, in Australia?
.- This proposal for the Commonwealth to subsidize the Chambers of Commerce and the British press to the extent of £[1,000 is an entirely new departure.
– I believe that the British Government are paying the expenses of certain Australian journalists to a Conference about to take place in London.
– I have not heard of that. At any rate, this is the first time that the Commonwealth has been asked to do anything of the kind. Even if it had been done before, I should have objected to the item. In the first place, the Chambers of Commerce are bands of individuals whoare associated together for the furtherance of their personal aims and objects, and the advancement of their particular business.. As Chambers of Commerce they have nosoul or humanity ; they have only one object, and that is to extend the area of their trade and increase the “opportunities for making profits.
– Have they no love for their country?
– As Chambers ofCommerce, no; because they are only associated for one object. If we had beenguided by their opinions, what sort of legislation should we have had on our statutebook to-day? Is it not a fact that every progressive measure met with most strenuous: opposition on their part?
– They will have no. control over the press representatives.
– I am stating my experience of Chambers of Commerce, and I defy the honorable senator to disprove the statement I have just made. When the late Mr. Kingston inaugurated a regime of common honesty and decency in the administration of the Customs, was there a Chamber of Commerce which did not denounce him? No. Again, who invented and circulatedabroad the lies about the Six Hatters and the Petriana Myth? Was not every Chamber of Commerce up in arms then? Yet this Parliament is actually asked to vote £I,000 to subsidize these people.
– The honorable senator is not asked to subsidize the Chambers of Commerce.
– That is pure, unadulterated buncombe. The vote is asked1 for the glorification of the Chambers of Commerce by bringing out pressmen to report their proceedings.
– Then the item is wrongly described.
– The Chambers of Commerce asked for this vote. So far asI know, the pressmen did not. Have British newspapers really fallen so low that they have to go cap in hand to the Commonwealth for a subsidy to enable them to carry on their business?
– They always advocate private enterprise.
– Yes.. They are the great organs of the anti-Socialist Party; yet they are looking to the Commonwealth for socialistic assistance.
– But the honorable senator, as a Socialist, ought to be prepared to grant it to them.
– I am prepared to grant assistance in which every one can share, but not to grant assistance to a little privileged class. The Chambers of Commerce say they are opposed to Government interference with private enterprize. Yet here they are coming to the Commonwealth cap in hand for a, subsidy of , £1,000 to assist them to carry on their business. In 1901, the Chambers of Commerce were up in arms against a proposal to create a White Australia. I am reminded of that incident by the fact that one of the principal arguments used has been that we should bring out these pressmen in order that they may see the working of that policy. Do we not know that some newspapers in England denounce us day after day because we keep our doors closed against coloured labour from other portions of the British Empire?
– That is a good reason why they should come out and find out our justification for that policy.
– If they want to know, let them come out, and ascertain the facts for themselves. We are not concerned about converting them in that regard, because the King has granted to us complete self-government, and we need not beg them to approve or disapprove of our policy. If we have to bribe them by giving them , £1,000 to tell the truth-
– The honorable senator is not in order in saying that.
– I fail to see, sir, where I am out of order in putting as an argument, in reply to Senator McColl, that if we have to buy an opinion, or subsidize these people to come and give an opinion, or to get information, it practically amounts to a bribe, and we have no guarantee that the goods will be delivered if we buy them. So far as I am concerned, this country is free to representatives of the press from every part of the world.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce advocated a socialistic line of steamers from this port to the Old Country.
– Yes. The Chambers of Commerce are all prepared to advocate as much Socialism as suits themselves - and so does every anti-Socialist on the other side of the chamber - but when it comes to a question of sharing the benefits of collective action with the rest of the people they decline, because it would remove those people out of their clutches, and they could not fleece them any more. That is a privilege which they want to keep to themselves. The item shall have my strenuous opposition.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item, “ Towards expenses of press representatives to the Congress of the Chambers of Commerce, , £1,000 “ (Senator Findley’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney - General : Secretary and Parliamentary Draftsman - High Court : Travelling Expenses.
Divisions 17 to 20(Attorney-General’s Department), £15,518.
.- I find that an increase of £100 is proposed for the Secretary and Parliamentary Draftsman. Earlier in to-day’s proceedings honorable senators showed that they are indisposed to vote increases of salaries to officers who are already in receipt of substantial salary. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Secretary and Parliamentary Draftsman,£900, “ by£100.
.-I am sorry that Senator Findley has submitted this request. If there is one officer in the Public Service of the Commonwealth who is deserving of an increase in salary it is this officer. Perhaps more of the responsible business of the Commonwealth rests upon Mr. Garran than upon any other officer in the service. He has had to be guide, counsellor, and friend to every Attorney-General we have had since Federation was established. The excellence of his parliamentary drafting is recognised by every one, as is also the soundness of his views. He is a trained constitutionalist, and is thoroughly well up in the provisions of the Commonwealth Constitution. I should say that he is perhaps the most diligent and deserving public officer we have. In my opinion, £900 a year is not a large salary for one who has to perform the duties which devolve upon Mr. Garran, and I trust that the proposal to increase his salary will be upheld.
– I hope this increase will be carried. The officer occupying a similar position in the service of the Government of Victoria receives a salary of £1,300 a year. In New South Wales the Secretary to the Law Department gets . £900 a year.
– And does no parliamentary drafting.
– In most of the States the parliamentary sessions seldom last longer than from three to six months ; hut since Federation was established we have had this officer giving all the assistance he could to Parliament, sometimes for seventeen months at a stretch.I remind honorable senators that Mr. Garran’s position is entirely different from that of the parliamentary draftsmen in the service of the States Governments. He is launched, as it were, upon a new sea of operations, and in the work he has to do he has very little precedent to guide him. I am sure that the work that has been done by this officer has been of such a character that very few members of this Committee will refuse the proposed acknowledgment of his services.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I must express my surprise at the change which has come over a number of the members of the Committee. Only a little time ago we had under consideration an increase of salary proposed for the permanent head of another Department.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in reflecting on a previous vote of the Committee ?
The . CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator should not reflect upon a previous vote.
– I am not reflecting upon a previous vote, but upon an extraordinary change of opinion on the part of certain members of the Committee. I may say that it would be competent for me to move a further request in connexion with the item, and I should then be at liberty to discuss it from any point of view. It seems that a considerable amount of favoritism is to be shown to the heads of some of the public Departments. The Government submitted a proposal involving an increase of £100 in the salary of the head of another Department, and from all sides in this Chamber, and especially from honorable senators opposite, we heard denunciations of the officer concerned because of his lack of ability and efficiency. Ministers contended, just as they have contended in this case, that the officer in question is most efficient, that he could be absolutely trusted, and had great capacity for theparticular office which he filled. All that, however, had no effect upon the Committee.
– Does the honorable senator contend that every office should carry the same salary?
– I never said any such thing. What I say is that it must be favoritism, and only favoritism, which can induce honorable senators to cast a vote denying an increase of salary to the head of one Department, who, they were told, is an efficient officer, when they are prepared to vote for a similar increase to the head of another Department.
– If it is not favoritism it is personal pique.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in accusing members of the Committee of being actuated by motives of favoritism or personal pique?
– The honorable senator is not entitled to accuse any member of the Committee of favoritism or personal pique.
-I can hardly understand what other motive could induce honorable senators to change their opinions as they have done. We were told that the head of the Department of External Affairs is a man of great ability, and specially fitted for the duties he is called upon to perform ; yet, when the Government asked that his salary should be increased by £100 a year, honorable senators said, “ No, he is not worthy of an increase. He is receiving a. sufficient salary now for the work he does.” We come now to deal with another office filled by a member of the same learned profession. The Government assert that the officer who fills it possesses every qualification for the office, just as they did in the case of the first man referred to; a similar increase of salary is proposed, and honorable senators at once agree to it. They have singled out the head of one Department, and on. the ground of his incapacity have refused, by an enormous majority, to grant him an increase of salary, whilst a similar increase proposed for an officer no more highly recommended by the Government, is at once granted. If that is not favoritism then I cannot understand the vote which has just been recorded.
– It appears to me that we have to pay a very large sum each year to cover the travelling expenses incurred by the Justices of the High Court. There are only five of them, yet their travelling expenses represent about half as much as do the travelling expenses of all the members of this Parliament. I think that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department should see that the expenses of their Honours are limited, and that they are not permitted the latitude which they have hitherto enjoyed.
– There is a maximum scale of expenses.
– It appears to me that hitherto the Justices of the High Court have aspired to travel in a way that is not in harmony with Australian ideas. In this connexion, one might almost compare them with European potentates and American millionaires. Apparently, they must be surrounded with every luxury that the heart of man can desire. I do not object to them being made comfortable while travelling, but that they should have special reservations at the expense of ordinary travellers by rail is objectionable. The excuse that is usually urged for this kind of thing is that it is essential that their Honours, should be kept apart from the general public if they are to discharge their duties impartially. But we know perfectly well that they associate very freely with a certain section of the public. Most of them attend races, some of them go to prize-fights, I suppose that they all go to dances, and generally they enjoy themselves, just as do ordinary human beings. I do not object to that. But when it comes to travelling, or to living at an hotel, they appear to set up for themselves a Holy of Holies - a sort of inner sanctuary, which nobody is permitted to enter. I think that something very much lessthan£3,250 ought to be sufficient to cover their travelling expenses. This matter was threshed out very thoroughly when Senator Symon was Attorney-General, and it was then clearly shown that a good deal of extravagance had been indulged in, and that there was ample room for the exercise of a little retrenchment. I move -
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 December 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19081210_senate_3_48/>.