3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Referring to a statement which appears in the press today, that the Minister of Trade and Customs had informed a deputation that he would bring under the notice of the Cabinet the question of arranging for a further search for the missing steamer Waratah, I desire toask the honorable gentleman whether the matter has yet been referred to the Cabinet, and, if so, whether he can give any information on the subject to the Senate ?
– I have been in consultation with my colleagues, and, as theresult of such consultation, I am now in communication with various bodies who have interested themselves in the fate of the vessel. At the present time ‘ I am not able to make a statement, but cablegrams are being exchanged which, I hope, will result in something satisfactory.
– I beg to ask the
Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, the following questions : -
In connexion with the notice inlast Commonwealth Government Gazette, page 474, appointing the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest as Honorary Colonel of the nth A.I.R., and seeing that Regulation 101 of Commonwealth Military Regulations provides that “ the above honorary positions are reserved for officers and others who have rendered valuable, distinguished, or gallant service to Australia in a military or other public capacity,” will the Minister say -
– I understood the honorable senator’s main inquiry to be whether I had noticed the Gazette. I have not seen that important document; If there is any other portion of his question to which he desires an explicit answer, I ask him to give notice of it. Probably it will assist me in obtaining a reply if he will indicate what portion of the regulation he refers to as having been infringed..
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council know whether the Postal Commission, like Tennyson’s “Brook,” is to go on for ever, or is there any probability of its labours coming to an end, and a report being presented shortly?
– I have no definite information on the subject, but if my honorable friend will give notice of his question, or repeat it a few days later, I shall endeavour to obtain an answer for him.
– I invite my honorable friend to again peruse the document, when he will find a distinct reference to the subject which he has brought under the notice of the Senate.
– Perhaps there are two copies of the document in existence. There is no such reference in my copy.
– Referring to a question I asked last week, I desire to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council has since taken any action in conjunction with the Postmaster-General in order to secure for Tasmania the mainteance of continuous telegraphic communication with the other States, such as exists amongst the States on the mainland?
– The purport of the honorable senator’s question was conveyed to the Postmaster-General, and, although I have no definite information to-day, I understand that, consequent upon the honorable senator’s question, communications were addressed to Tasmania, and that replies to them are now awaited.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
The reason that claims have not been dealt with as expeditiously as in other States is stated to be that a longer time is required for inquiries on account of claimants having in many cases originally come from the eastern States.
The Deputy Commissioner also states that the clerks of courts are finding it difficult to transact the old-age pension work in addition to their own.
The Commissioner has given directions that incases where the clerks of courts require additional assistance it is to be given.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice - .
Will the Government consider the desirability of making a regulation to the effect that the amount of any pension granted by the Imperial’ authorities to old soldiers shall not be deducted from any pension otherwise payable by the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
No deduction is made from a Commonwealth pension granted to any one who already enjoys a pension, unless the total amount of the two pensions exceeds £52 per annum.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
What is the average amount per head paid up to date in each State to recipients of old-age pensions - (1) to men; (2) to women?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questionis as follows : -
To obtain the information required would cause serious delay in the granting of pensions as the officers- engaged in investigating the claims would have to betaken off that work. At the present time a great number of claims are being dealtwith by the various Deputy Commissioners. It is suggested that the information be asked for at a later date.
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will steps be taken to have a supply of Bills, as introduced to the Parliament, available without delay at the Commonwealth Office in each State?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Instructions were given in 1905 to the Government Printer to forward two copies of each Bill as issued to the Members’ Room in each State, and it is understood that this has been done.
The Premier, the Attorney-General, and the Parliamentary Draftsman in each State are also supplied with copies, and any requests received from other officials receive prompt attention.
Financial Relations : Commonwealth and States
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Referring to the question asked by Senator Pulsford on the 26th August, relating to State guarantees, such as those by the three eastern States, in connexion with the Pacific Cable, and to the reply to such question, has the Government now examined the whole subject, and are they prepared to make a definite statement in relation thereto ?
– Payments of this character are now being inquired into, but I must again ask my honorable friend to repeat the question a few days later, when I hope to be able to give him a more definite reply.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Public Service Act 1902 -
Documents in connexion with the promotion of. Mr. E. J. Marquard to the position of Clerk, 3rd Class, Clerical Division, Public Service Inspector’s Office, Department of Home Affairs.
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
New Regulation 2A.- Statutory Rules 1909, No. 97.
Amendment of Regulations 18, 141, 144, and 160 ; Cancellation of Regulation 161, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof ; and Cancellation of Regulation 163. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 98.
Report by Senator James H. McColl of the proceedings at the third TransMissouri Dry-Farming Congress, held at Cheyenne, Wyoming, on 23rd, 24th, 25th February, 1909, and account of further investigations into Dry Farming and other matters in the United States of America and Canada.
Bill received from House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Vice-President of the Executive Council [2.42].. - I desire to ask the concurrence of the Senate in submitting a motion to enable the second reading of the Bill to be taken now. Honorable senators are aware that it covers votes for works, the particulars of which have been before them in the schedule to the Estimates. It is desirable that the Bill should be passed at as early a date as possible, to permit the works covered by it to be proceeded with. If, after I have moved the second reading of the Bill, any honorable senator should desire the adjournment of the debate until to-morrow I shall be only too glad to fall in with his wishes. I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being read a second time this day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Has the Bill been circulated ?
– The details of the Bill have been before honorable senators for some days. All the particulars of the proposed appropriation are embodied in the schedule to the Estimates -in -Chief.
– We should have a copy of the Bill.
– I am not asking that the second-reading debate should be proceeded with,, unless honorable senators are willing to proceed with it.
– I am not cavilling, but if the Bill were circulated, honorable senators would be better able to follow the Minister.
– Honorable senators are aware that under the provisions of our Audit Act, any amounts appropriated for the service of the year which have not been expended on the 30th June lapse, and it is necessary to obtain re-votes. It is desirable, therefore, that we should, as early as possible, place the various Departments in a position to proceed with works which have been authorized, and it is for that reason that I have asked the Senate to permit me to carry this Bill over more than one stage to-day. I shall be only too pleased if, having looked into it, honorable senators will be content to go further than the second reading. I need only point out now that the schedule to the Bill is the schedule appearing from page 273 onwards in the EstimatesinChief, which have not only been in print and in the possession of honorable senators for some time, but have been discussed here during the last week. The Bill covers the necessary appropriation for new works and buildings for the present financial year. It is a measure regarding “which I hardly think it necessary to say very much at this stage, for the reason that from our past experience of similar measures, inquiries concerning the proposed votes are more conveniently dealt with in Committee. I shall be prepared, in Committee, to furnish all the information at my disposal which may be sought by honorable senators. In the meantime, I reiterate, in moving the second reading, that if honorable senators desire an adjournment of the debate, I shall be prepared to fall in with their wishes. Should they be prepared to continue the consideration of the Bill, I shall hail that as a further evidence of a desire on the part of the Senate to expedite public business.
– I think there is no reason why we should not go on with the second reading of the Bill to-day. Honorable senators on this side are prepared to give the Minister every assistance to put the Bill through today. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said, we have had the Es timates before us since the introduction oi the Budget in another place, but I do think that the honorable senator should have had the Bill circulated amongst honorable senators. It would have been more convenient and more in proper form. It would have been a very simple thing to arrange, because the Bill is in print, and has been passed in another place. It is somewhat lax, if not discourteous, on the part of the Minister to ask honorable senators to take the second reading before the Bill has been circulated. As I see that the Bill is now being circulated, I shall not further refer to that aspect of the matter.
– The details of the measure have been before honorable senators for some time.
– I feel sure that most honorable senators have already given consideration to the items of the schedule. I know that honorable senators on this side are prepared to discuss the items in Committee. We shall offer no objection to the second reading being agreed to to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 5 (Department of Home Affairs), ,£263,460.
– I desire to obtain some information in regard to the item “ Customs House, Broken Hill, £600.” I should like to know why a customs house is required at that centre?
– The reason it has been decided to build a customs house at Broken Hill will, I am sure, appeal to the honorable senator. At the present time, the Commonwealth is leasing premises there for Customs purposes, and for these premises it is paying a rental of £175 per annum. Now, the Commonwealth already owns a sufficient area at Broken Hill to permit of the erection of a Customs building, and the £600 provided for on these Estimates will, it is anticipated, cover the cost of its construction, so that by the proposed expenditure we shall effect a saving of £175 per annum.
– But why is a customs house required at Broken Hill?
– It seems to me that there is some force in the honorable senator’s inquiry, and although it is an unusual thing to ask the Committee to agree to the item under the promise that the desired information will be supplied later, I have no alternative open to me.
– I should like to know why the sum of £50 appears on these Estimates for the purchase of a site for Customs purposes at Lucinda, Queensland, seeing that no provision has been made for the erection of a building?
– The note supplied to me in reference to the matter reads -
It is proposed to remove the Customs House from Dungeness. The premises are at present in an unhealthy and inconvenient position. Most of the business with the sugar farmers, on account of the distance of the office from the tram terminus, is done by correspondence.
– But the Government have made no provision even to cover the cost of its removal.
– That statement is quite correct. But I presume that we should first obtain the requisite land and afterwards provide for the building.
– I would direct the attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council to the item “ Launch for trawler,£350.” I presume that that item opens up for discussion the whole question of the work which has been performed by the trawler. If that vessel is not rendering good service to the Commonwealth it is idle for us to sanction any further expenditure upon it. I do not know whether it is rendering such service to Australia, butI have seen numerous complaints in the press in reference to the work which it is doing. I shall be glad to have the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the trawler is rendering the Commonwealth good service by opening up and exploring new fishing grounds. If the vessel is doing that I shall not cavil at the amount which is provided on these Estimates for the purpose of providing it with a launch.
– The reports so far available in regard to the work which is being performed by the trawler are of a most encouraging nature. It is not pretended even by those who are working the vessel that its work hitherto has been of an exhaustive character. It has rather been experimental. But all the reports to hand justify us in proceeding with the work which the vessel was built to undertake, and which, if successfully performed, will far more than repay the Commonwealth for its outlay. It has been found necessary, however, to provide the vessel with asmall launch.
– Will she be able to carry it on board?
– When the trawler is at sea, it will be carried on board, but when she is engaged in exploiting new fishing grounds it will be upon its own bottom. It may interest honorable senators to learn that the proposed launch is to be a. motor launch of a total weight of 35 cwt. That information will answer the question of Senator Givens as to whether it can be taken on board the trawler.
– Will a launch of that description cost£350?
– It is estimated that the motor engine alone will cost . £165.
– Has any particular class of motor engine been specified by the Government, or will one be obtained in Australia ?
– I cannot answer that question off-hand. The general policy of the Government is to provide these things as far as possible from our own resources, and I do not anticipate that that policy will be departed from on the present occasion. In Sydney there would not be the slightest difficulty in turning out launches of this size as fast as any one cared to order them.
.- The work of the trawler has interested me, and so far as my inquiries go it appears to have been done in an exceedingly satisfactory manner. I have read what has appeared in the press, but I can assure Senator Givens that I attach more importance to the inquiries that I have personally made than to predicate absolute accuracy for the press reports. I believe that the trawler is doing very good work. I rose, however, principally to state to the Committee what I have already told Senator Millen privately, that in the course of my investigations I discovered that no one on board the trawler signs articles. I believe that some record is kept of the crew, but it is not the usual kind of record that is kept on board ships. Whether that state of things is right or not I do not know, but the subject might be inquired into. It may or may not be desirable that the crew of this Commonwealth vessel should sign articles as is done on other ships, but, at all events, it is desirable to have a proper record, in case, for instance, an accident should occur to any person on board leading to his disappearance. I do not know whether there is any objection to the men signing on in the usual way, but possibly the Minister will be able to tell us whether he has made inquiries into the matter.
– I should like to know what policy the Government intend to carry out with respect to the fish obtained by the trawler. The late Government very carefully arranged for the full protection of private enterprise by providing that the fish caught was not to be sold, but was to be distributed to various hospitals. The object was that the trawler should not compete with those engaged in the fishing industry.
– That sounds very much like robbing the Government, though.
– Do the present Government intend to carry out the same policy ?
– Referring to the matter which Senator Clemons has mentioned, I should like to know how it is that the crew of the trawler have not complied with the usual formalities in regard to signing on? Why have not the Customs authorities insisted on the customary regulations being complied with in this instance ?
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council) [3.4I. - Senator Clemons gave me private notice of the question which he has raised with reference to the crew of the trawler. I rather shared his belief that there was room for some anxiety, and 1 communicated with the Attorney-General’s Department. I was informed that some legal question is involved, but the whole question as to what is the best course to pursue is now under review. Consideration is being given to the question whether it may be necessary, seeing that the trawler is a Government vessel, to follow the usual procedure, or whether some other form of record of the crew should be kept.
– Are not the crew affected by the Public Service Act?
– I am not now prepared to discuss the legal question involved.
– What is the nature of it?
– If the honorable senator likes to put a question to me tomorrow, ‘I will ascertain from the AttorneyGeneral what the difficulty is. As tothe question raised by Senator Pulsford, I am not aware that there’ is anything; which can be dignified with the name of a policy in relation to disposing of the fish obtained by the trawler. But I may ask’ the honorable senator whether it is not better to give the fish to institutions that command his sympathy, than to throw it away, to. become at the best a doubtful manure for “ still more doubtful areas on the coast.
– When the trawler visited Port Adelaide a week or two ago I went on board and had a conversation with the gentleman who conducts the scientific part of the work. I gathered that the vessel is a very fine one. . He was loud in hispraise of its sea-going qualities. I consider that the work is being done very methodically and completely. A careful record is kept of what is gathered in by the trawler, the exact place where it is obtained, the weight of the fish, and even specimens of the, water in which the fish were captured are preserved. Everythingseemed to me to lie done in a very satisfactory fashion. I was very glad, indeed, to have an opportunity of inspecting the boat. I believe that the investigations carried out’ will be of great benefit to the Commonwealth and to the fishing industry.
.- I am given to understand that some time ago, when the trawler came ih to the port of Melbourne with a fairly large quantity of fish on board, a considerable quantity of that excellent food was not distributed,, but went bad and had to be thrown away. I do not know whether that would meet with Senator Pulsford’s approval.’ Probably he would prefer that the fish should’ be thrown away than that it should comeinto competition with private enterprise. On a number of occasions a portion of thecatch was given away, but a larger quantity was withheld, designedly, 1 suppose, with the view of distributing it to publicinstitutions : but that course was not invariably followed, and the fish, in those- instances, had to be condemned as unfit for consumption.
– It is rather early to expect anything in the nature of a definite report regarding the work of the trawler; but I think that the Government would be welladvised if they informed the Committee what arrangements as to the future movements of the vessel were proposed. I should like to know what the programme is to be ?
– lt depends upon the weather.
– The state of the weather on the coast of Australia at different periods is fairly well known. During the winter months, if the weather is too bad for the trawler to pursue her work in southern waters, she could be sent to northerly latitudes. As to the question raised by Senator Clemons relating to the signing on of the crew, I should have thought that, as the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council was drawn to the subject privately, he would have made himself sufficiently acquainted with the subject to be able to let us know what was the constitutional or legal point engaging the attention of the Attorney-General. Seeing that the Public Sendee Commissioner was the officer responsible for engaging the members of the crew, I should think that they ought to come under the operation of the Public Service Act. Whatever the legal points in doubt may be, they should’ be communicated to the Senate. Of course, I do not expect the Minister to be capable of replying immediately to every question which is sprung upon him. But, since the matter has been privately brought to his notice, he should be able to throw some light on the subject.
Senator STEWART (Queensland) r3.i:i”. - I am glad to hear that the trawler is giving satisfaction up to a certain point. I suggest to the Government that the extension of its work might very well result in breaking up the fish ring which exists not only in Melbourne, but in m every city throughout the Commonwealth.
– The Labour Government did not want that. They carefully gave ‘away the fish, so that there should not be any competition with the trade.
– I do not know what the late Government wanted. I know what I want, and that is quite enough for me. I want to see a fleet of trawlers round our coast, catching fish and selling them direct to the public. I do not know whether that idea commends itself to the honorable senator or not ; but if it does, I should be very glad of his support to a proposal of that kind. I do not know whether the Government is sufficiently Socialistic to adopt my suggestion, but if it is enterprising enough to catch on, and bring the idea to fruition. I am sure that it will receive the thanks of .many thousand citizens.
– Had not the honorable senator better wait until the work of the trawler shows whether it will pay ?
– The honorable senator always applies that test to everything.
– Does not the honorable senator want Government enterprise to pay ?
– Yes ; and 1 an, not quite sure whether the honorable senator agrees with -me on that.
– I do not want the Government to be doing unprofitable work.
– In any case, we are dealing with an experiment, and I want the experiment, if possible, to succeed. We know that already private people are getting large catches of fish round our coast, and compel the public to pay through the nose for them. A piece of fish is a luxury in Australia.
– It is not the fishermen who get the money.
– No’; it-is the ring of fishmongers, and these, I believe, belong to one nationality. I do not object to them on that ground, but it appears to me that not only are Britishers driven out of the wholesale and retail trade, but that even the fish caught by ordinary white men do not get a fair show in the market. I want to draw the attention of the Government to this matter, as it concerns the food supply of the people. I think that it comes rightly under their purview. We have one trawler at sea, but why should we not have as many trawlers - even a hundred, if necessary - as would supply the whole population with fish?
– The work of this trawler is to see whether fishing will pav.
– The work of the trawler, according to the honorable senator’s idea, is to show private enterprise where the fish are to be caught, and when that information has been secured, private enterprise mongers may catch the fish, and fleece the public. It is as legitimate that Commonwealth money should ,be expended in catching and selling fish as iri finding fishing grounds.
– I desire to know, sir, whether the honorable senator’s re- . marks are relevant to the item of ^350 for a launch for the trawler?
– On this item, the honorable senator cannot discuss the general question of how fish ought to be dealt with.
– It appears to me to be reducing procedure to a screaming farce, if we can discuss the trawler but not the fish. We might as well shut up shop, turn off the gas, and disappear. I have no doubt that what I was talking about was exceedingly unpleasant to Senator Chataway, who is a strong believer in private ‘ enterprise. I have nothing further to say on the subject.
– I am not aware that we have yet received any reports regarding the work of the trawler. I desire to know whether it is to make very short experiments in the waters of the States, or whether the work in a particular place is to be completed before the trawler is taken to other waters. It seems to me that we are amusing some States by lending them the trawler for a short period without requiring the work in a particular water to be completed before it is taken elsewhere. In my opinion, the exploratory work in Tasmanian waters should have been completed and reported upon before the trawler was sent to South Australia.
– As she was lying weather-bound, what was the use of keeping her there?
– Of course, that alters the position. I trust that exploratory work, whenever it is started, will always be brought to a speedy conclusion.
-.- That can only be done by shifting the trawler from place to place, according to the season’.
– I have no objection to that being done in a case of necessity; but I trust that the work will be carried out in a thoroughly Australian fashion, and not merely to oblige particular States.
– I did not understand Senator Millen to furnish Senator Clemons with any particular reason as to why a launch should be provided for the trawler.
– He gave no reason, except that it might be handy.
– For what purpose is it to be provided? Is it to be furnished for the mere convenience of visitors ?
-Colonel Cameron. - No. The Minister said that it is required for use in shallow waters, into which the trawler cannot go.
– Trawling cannot be carried out in shallow waters.
-Colonel Cameron. - No; but grounds can be investigated.
– It occurred to me that probably the launch is intended for the purpose of excursion-fishing. At any rate, I shall be glad if the Minister will tell me the real purpose to which it is to be put.
-23l- - f am satisfied that the trawler has done fairly good work ; though it might have been kept more closely occupied. What is done with the fish caught is not a matter that we ought to consider. The trawler is sent out to prospect for fishing-grounds, just as men are sent into the country toprospect for reefs. I think that a steamlaunch should have been provided when the trawler was built. A trawler might a» well be without a propeller as without a steam-launch. When prospecting is carried on, instead of four men being employed to take a boat into creeks and corners, the launch will be sent, and it will draw no more water than would a boat.
– For what purpose will the men be sent into creeks and corners ?
– To find out the habits of the fish, spawning beds, and the breeding season. We ought to have been furnished with progress reports concerning the work of the trawler. It would be a good thing if the Director of Fisherieswere required to make a quarterly report for the information of Parliament and the public. There is one other matter to which? I should like to refer. I hope that the Minister will see that the men employed onthe trawler are given all the rights of persons in the Public Service.
– The honorable senator said the other day that they had signed” articles, but the Government, who ought toknow, think otherwise.
– I know that at one time it was brought under mv notice that for certain reasons the men had refused* duty, and I understand that they. had to go back because of their agreement.
– They have not signed articles, as the honorable senator ought to know.
– I say that even though they should have signed articles they should be given all the rights of ordinary public servants. I trust that the Minister will see that those rights are secured to them.
– Senator de Largie, doubtless with the best intention in the world, sketched out for my future guidance what should be the course of conduct of any one intrusted with estimates of this kind. The honorable senator implied that I should have been furnished with information on the thousand and one subjects over which honorable senators have ranged in discussing the innocent vote for a launch for the trawler. I ask the Committee not to judge of my capacity to answer questions by the capacity of honorable senators generally to ask them. The questions raised on this vote have ranged from what ought to be the future policy in regard to fish rings to the one hundred and one other matters which have been referred to, and it could not be assumed that I should be in a position to answer all those questions. The departmental authorities are extremely obliged to Senator Clemons for having brought up the matter to which he has referred. Let me say first of all that articles are not in existence. The reason for that, I believe, is that the ship is not a registered one. It has been decided now to avoid the difficulty, which I have no doubt Senator Clemons thought might crop up through the absence of articles or an agreement, to draft an agreement which the men will be invited to sign. Amongst other questions asked was one bv Senator Turley in connexion with a quantity of fish brought in by the trawler and destroyed as unsound. There is a conflict between the State and Commonwealth officials in this case.
– The fish was put into the cold store, was it not?
– I do not know exactly what happened ; but I understand that the State authorities destroyed i£ tons of the fish on the ground that it was unsound. One ton of the catch which was left for a longer period in the cold store was declared bv Commonwealth officials to be sound, and was distributed to public institutions in which, by the practical test of table use. it was found to be sound. Between the conflicting statements honorable senators must take their choice.
– And draw their own deductions.
– Why does not the Minister stand up for his own officers?
– When two sets ot experts differ in such, a matter I am not going to take it upon myself, when I have had no opportunity to judge, ‘to say that one was right and the other wrong. In answer to the question as to where the trawler is to be worked, let me say that i! is to be worked in all waters which invite inspection. As to the period of the year at which the trawler will visit different parts of Australia, let rae say that that is to be decided mainly by weather considerations. The trawler was withdrawn from Tasmanian waters a little time ago because the climatic conditions rendered it unprofitable to continue trawling operations on the Tasmanian coast. The vessel has not completed her work in Tasmanian waters. As a matter of fact, she has only commenced her work there, but it was obviously a wasteful proceeding for the trawler to stay on that coast when the weather conditions were unsuitable for trawling operations.
– She had to be withdrawn or be idle on that coast.
– It ought not to have been sent to Tasmanian waters at this time of the year.
– Senator Guthrie has made a suggestion with regard to the publication of a quarterly report on the work done by the trawler. Without saying that three months is the exact period which should be covered by such a report, I agree that whe°n definite information is available it should as early as possible be placed at the disposal, not merely of Parliament, but of the community at large. I shall have very much pleasure in submitting the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Minister concerned.
– - As I asked only one question of the Minister, there was no occasion for the preface to the remarks, he lias j US made. I thought that he might have been expected to be able to give the Committer an answer on the matter brought under hi= notice by Senator Clemons. I did not expect that he would be able to answer every question which has teen asked during the discussion. So far as the movements of the trawler are concerned, I should say that if the best use is to be made of the vessel some plan of future operations should be sketched out. I think- that those who were responsible for sending the vessel to trawl in Tasmanian waters in the winter season may be charged with bungling. I should have thought that during the winter season the vessel would have been employed in northern latitudes where good weather might have been anticipated.
– As a matter of fact, the weather is often calmest in the winter season in Tasmanian waters.
– The information [ have from mariners is that during the winter season the sea is invariably rough in southern latitudes. It might reasonably have been expected that the trawler would be sent to those parts of the coast where it might be worked continuously. As the vessel has been engaged during most of the winter season in southern latitudes, I suppose it will be sent to the northern latitudes during the “willy-willy” season. We cannot look for good results from the operations of the trawler in bad weather, and her future operations should be arranged on some plan drawn up in accordance with common sense, and under which it will be possible to say where the vessel will be operating during particular seasons of the year.
– I am satisfied that the “VicePresident of the Executive Council would have found it difficult to answer many of the questions put to him; but he might easily have answered the question I put in connexion with the launch. The answer given to the question by Senator Guthrie was not satisfactory to me, and that is my excuse for putting the question again. I wish to know what really is the purpose for which the launch is to be provided. Is it intended that it should be a kind of pleasure boat for picnicking along some of our rivers? I think that even Senator Guthrie could not have been serious in suggesting that it is required for prospecting the rivers if Australia for fish, unless what is meant ->)- prospecting for fish is that the launch is necessary to enable us to discover where fish are actually to be seen in the water. Any one travelling by vessels plying on the north-west coast of Australia will, when going into Derby and some other ports on that coast, be able to see fish in millions.
The launch would not be required to look for them there ; all that is needed is the trawler to catch them. Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council tell the Committee what this launch is really to be used for?-
– - I ask Senator Henderson to accept my assurance that in omitting to reply to his question I intended no discourtesy. The reason I overlooked it was that when the item first came under discussion I explained the purpose for which the launch is required. It is to be used for work in waters into which the trawler cannot go. It is also required for trawling where delicate gear is employed. The statement put forward by the officer in charge of trawling operations is that its use will save considerable labour and enable the work of the trawler to be carried out not only more expeditiously but more satisfactorily. The. launch is also required for landing in bar harbors, and for other purposes to which Senator Guthrie very graphically directed attention. I venture to add that there is hardly a modern boat of any size, and certainly of the size of the Endeavour, that has not in its equipment such a launch as that which it is proposed to purchase for the trawler.
– I wish to ask a general question which I admit might more appropriately have been asked on the second reading. I cannot find any provision in these Estimates for new lighthouses. We are at present considering a Bill dealing with the subject of lighthouses, and I assume .that it is intended to spend some money in that connexion during the current financial year. I also desire to know whether, in preparing these Estimates, the Government consulted the Tasmanian authorities in regard to the amount which it is desirable to spend upon the erection of new quarantine stations in that State, and in regard to where those stations are to be located? I am chiefly concerned with the quarantine station on the River Tamar. It has been suggested that a new quarantine station is to be built about 30 miles from Launceston and about 10 miles from Low Head. If that be so, in my opinion, the Government are making a mistake. If the quarantine station for the port of Launceston be located 30 miles down the Tamar River it is obvious that the work of medical inspection will be car- ried out at considerable and avoidable expense. It would be well for such inspection to be conducted as close to the residence of the medical officer as possible.
– That is where’ the inspection does take place.
– Exactly, but under the suggestion to which I have alluded the medical officer will be required to travel 30 miles down the river.
– The medical inspection of vessels does not take place at ihe quarantine stations now.
– But in this ‘-ase it is proposed that.it shall take place there. I ask the Government to consider the question with a view to arranging for the medical inspection of vessels close to the port of Launceston.
– Senator Clemons has completely anticipated me in the remarks that I had intended to make. “Upon two previous occasions I rose to ask where the new quarantine stations for which provision is made on these Estimates are to be established. I understand that one of them is to be located on the Tamar River. Some time ago I put a question to the Government in regard to the clearing of vessels at Launceston. I was then informed that the medical inspection of ships mus: take place at the mouth of the Tamar River before they were permitted to proceed to Launceston. I assume, therefore, that it is intended that the inspection shall take place not far distant from Low Head instead of 30 miles up the river, as at present. I notice that the vote which we are asked to sanction for the purpose of providing these new quarantine stations is £1,000, of which £200 is a re-vote. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell the Committee how much of this sum it is intended to spend in Tasmania, and where the new quarantine stations are to be situated?
– In the course of his remarks Senator Clemons made an incidental reference to the erection of new lighthouses. If he will look at the Estimates-in-Chief he will observe that under the Department of Home Affairs. Parliament is asked to approve a preliminary vote for the purpose of enabling the Government to make the necessary inquiries prior to deciding what new lights are required along the Australian coast. The proposed new quarantine stations occupy a very similar position. At the present moment Dr. Norris, who has been intrusted with the administration of the Quarantine Act, has under consideration the whole question of what new quarantine stations shall be erected, and also where they shall be located. The sum of £1.000 provided upon these Estimates will enable him to secure sites which are at present available, but that it will represent the total amount required in that connexion is very improbable. At the same time, the whole question of what quarantine stations should be continued, and of where new stations are required, is under review. The sole object of the proposed vote to which attention has been drawn is to make provision for new quarantine stations during the current year.
– Throughout Australia.
– I should like to know what fortifications are included under the heading of New South Wales in the item “ Fortifications, £270.” I observe that on the last page of these Estimates the sum °f .£60,000 is provided for guns, mountings, ammunition, and electric lights. I desire to know w.hat forts in New South Wales it is proposed to re-arm, and also whether this Bill will authorize the ordering of new guns and of shields for those guns. If so, how -many guns will it empower the Government to order, and how many shields for those guns as well as how many shields for existing guns? At present the Committee do not know whether the £60,000 to which I have alluded covers the particular item to which I am now referring. It seems to me that the Government do not propose to give any substantial impetus to the proposal to re-arm certain forts in New South Wales, because the only items relating to fixed defences in that State - apart from the general item to which I have referred- are “ Stockton, - Site for battery, £120;” “Port Kembla - Land for defence purposes, £750 ;” “ Chowder Bay - Acquisition of land for defence purposes, £1,250; “.and “ Emplacements and works for fixed defence.% guns, and lights - towards cost, £2,000.” I know that the officers of the Department have recommended that the forts of Newcastle^ - of which Stockton is one - should be re-armed this year.
– The honorable senator has drawn - attention to the failure to acquire land. May there not be. sufficient land at Newcastle?
– I have already pointed out that provision is made upon these Estimates for the acquisition of a battery site at Stockton. I desire to obtain some information regarding the general policy of the Government, and I have taken the position of certain fixed defences in New South Wales as an example of the need which exists for re-arming those defences. At the present time Newcastle is defended with obsolete guns, and I know that the Colonial Defence Committee recommended that those guns should be replaced with the 6-inch Mark VII. quickfiring guns.
– ,£60,000 is provided for “ guns, mountings, ammunition, and electric lights.”
– But that expenditure is to be spread over the whole Commonwealth. I desire to know, whether - if we agree to this Bill - the Government will be authorized to complete the re-armament of the forts at Newcastle? Will the amounts which we are asked to vote be sufficient to provide emplacements for the new guns? In regard to the forts at Sydney I am aware that some new guns have been mounted there, but a considerable number of obsolete weapons are also in use. This is notably the’ case at the South Head Batteries. There, the greater number of the guns are out of date. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell me how many new guns this Bill will provide for New South Wales? I - am sure that the officers of the Department will supply him with the desired information, because I know that it was available before the Fisher Government were removed from office.
Senator MILLEN (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council [3.54]. - The honorable senator has asked for information in regard to two items upon these Estimates, namely, the one which is immediately under review and the item “ Guns, mountings, ammunition, and electric lights, £60,000,” which appears upon the last page of the schedule. I am not quite clear, however, rs to whether he wishes to obtain particulars in regard to items 1 to 7 of subdivision 1 of division 4.
– I wish to know what forts in New South Wales the Government intend to re- arm.
– Concerning the item of £60,000 to which the honorable senator has alluded, I have no hesitation in saying that it includes provision for the mountings of two new guns at Newcastle. In reference to the item “ Emplacements and works for fixed defences, guns, and lights - towards cost, £2.000.” I wish to say that it is proposed to construct the following works at a total cost of ,£10,000. of which the Committee is now asked to sanction the appropriation of £2,000 : - Port Jackson, to provide electric light, Director’s Station at Middle Head, £100 ; Newcastle, construct fort and caretaker’s quarters at Stockton £6,000 ; reconstruct two gun emplacements at Port Scratchley, £3,500; provide emplacement for two electric lights, .£275. As to item No. 21, the amount is provided to enable the Commonwealth to purchase from private owners certain land which forms portion of an area required for the construction of a battery for the defence of Newcastle. The sum of .£750, item No. 20, is required for the acquisition of land for the construction of a battery for the protection of Port Kembla, which is adjacent- to an important coal-mining centre of New South Wales. The land, which is 29 acres 1 rood 15! perches in area, is being acquired from the State Government at £25 per acre. As to the .£1,250 for the acquisition of land at Chowder Bay, I have been informed that, in view of the advice of the Attorney-General, the proprietors of lot 288 are entitled tq access along certain roads, and since the Department has no right to prevent the use of the roads bv the proprietors, it would appear to be requisite to acquire lot 288; and. thereby secure absolute control by right of proprietorship over the whole area, including the roads reserved by the State under the original subdivision of the land. Responsible- officers- have expressed the opinion that, in the interests of the Commonwealth, it is desirable to acquire the property, as thereby the Defence lands in the vicinity will be held without severance.
– I understand that the new guns for which provision is made are for Newcastle?
– T wo are for Newcastle, and four are for Port Phillip.
-Itakeitthatshieldswillbe provided for the guns that are to be acquired. I notice that, under this subdivision, there is an item, No. 17, of £5,000. for gunpark and harness-rooms for the Australian Field Artillery. There is also a vote for a drill-hall for the Field Artillery at Wagga Wagga. On those two items, I desire to say a few words with respect to the Field Artillery generally. I cannot see in this schedule any vote for providing additional ammunition waggons, although I am given to understand that provision for that purpose may be included in the general vote at the end of the Bill - special Defence material for the Field Artillery,£10,200. I venture to say that the Minister of Defence is quite cognisant of the fact that that vote is not sufficient to provide the Field Artillery of Australia with the waggons that they require, together with saddlery. I am not sure as to the amount of the vote on the last occasion; but 1 think that the contract with Robertson Brothers ran into £25,000; although that sum only gave one ammunition waggon for each field gun in Australia. My information shows that that is altogether inadequate. We have not sufficient transport for our Field Artillery. There seems to be no particular item in the New South Wales subdivision for this purpose, apart from those I have mentioned. Nor is there any provision for the adequate equipment of the Field Artillery with respect to horses. That is regrettable. I do not say that the Government should launch out into wild-cat schemes involving huge expenditure ; but, if we can show that expenditure in this direction is necessary in the interests of the efficiency of the Forces, and would also tend to economy, it would appear to be quite justified. The Minister of Defence had in his possession, when he compiled these Estimates, the report of the Committee on the question of “ Ownership of horses, &c, for Military purposes,” presented by command, on the 21st July, and ordered to be printed on 5th August, 1909.I propose to quote the gist of that report, in order to show that there was justification for the Minister of Defence making fur- ther provision than he has done for the Field Artillery, in order that it may become efficient for the work which it has to do. The Departmental Committee to which I refer consisted of Mr. James Hutchison, M,P. ; Major Harold A. Grimwade, and Major H. W. Dangar, Director of Artillery. The Secretary was Mr. R. W. Skevington. The Committee reported as follows : -
Government ownership of horses for the Field Artillery most urgent. They are of the opinion that it is absolutely necessary to equip that arm of the service - a most important one - with permanent horses if it is to approach the efficiency expected of it.
Many more reasons can be advanced, but it is considered that the above are sufficient.
The Committee consider that the antici pated efficiency of the Field Artillery to be gained through the introduction of permanent horses can only be brought about by the establishment of permanent units -
As regards (a) : -
The training units will carry on their own training throughout the year, thus there will be” a continuous turnover of the permanent horses in military work.
As regards (b) : -
With a Citizen Army it must be apparent to all that a permanent school must be available for technical branches of the service, as pertains in the Garrison Artillery and Engineers, therefore permanent units, as proposed, will beat all times available forall ranks, especially officers of the A.F.A. foranv special period of training they may be able to devote to their work. These advantages and opportunities do not exist at the present time, and from experience in all other countries, it is apparent that all officers to become efficient for Field Artillery must devote as much time as possible in training with a permanent unit. Furthermore, it cannot be expected that a supply of sufficient instructors can be maintained unless they receive such special training as can only be obtained in a permanent unit. It is admitted that the Militia Field Artillery rank and file are, without question, men of high type and intelligence, but unless they can be handled properly they are practically of no value.
If these proposed permanent units are not allotted as a battery to any definite position in the Defence Scheme, they will form a very serviceable nucleus of the Ammunition Column to be raised in time of war.
That is a very sweeping statement, but it is made by officers of very high standing, upon whom we can rely. I think we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.] If honorable senators, who are the trustees of the public purse in this matter, will bear with me, I want to show them that the Committee from whose report I am quoting demonstrate how the suggestions which they make can be adopted with economical advantage. Our time may very well be employed in getting at the facts. In their third paragraph, they state that the establishment of permanent units in the various States should cost, for up-keep, £23,906. The total number of horses required is 1,352, including officers’ horses, and sufficient for six-horse teams. The Committee add -
It will be necessary to provide depots for the accommodation of horses and men in localities convenient to the places where the horses will be most required. In the larger States these depots will give facilities for manoeuvre ground for troops of all arms. The size will vary in accordance with the number of horses to be maintained. The total cost of land for these depots is estimated at £15,000.
The Committee go into details and show that the adoption of their scheme with reference to horses would involve a capital expenditure of £55,860. But they also point out that the annual expenditure for hiring remounts, under the scheme of training proposed by the late Government, would be £37,518.
– The horses could be provided for a good deal less than the Committee state.
– The figures I have given represent the gross cost; but there would be a revenue from letting out horses which were not undergoing training to carriers and others. The Committee estimate that the revenue derived from this source would be £19,713. They also say that we could abolish the present cadre system, and save £3,380 in that direction, making a total saving of £23,093. This would make the actual net expenditure £15,966, or an annual saving over the hiring system of £21,552.
– How much is it proposed to charge for letting out a horse?
– In New South Wales, it is proposed to charge 7s. 6d. a week, or£1910s. a year, for each horse.
– To whom were the horses to be let out?
– To any private persons - for instance, to carriers.
– And to any person who would conform to impossible conditions.
– I do not admit that the conditions were impossible. The committee was composed of practical men, who heard the evidence.
– Of military men.
– How long would a horse last if let out to a butcher ?
– I do not know.
– I would not give much for its legs after a little while.
– I ask honorable senators to listen while I quote the revenue proposals of the committee -
That the hiring-out system shall be adopted in each State of all horses other than those used by the permanent unit, and 10 per cent to be kept at depot for relief purposes. The horses will be stable-fed, groomed, shod, and worked by the hirers. A charge by the Defence Department will be made for every horse hired out at the rate of not less than 7s. 6d. per week, or £1910s. per annum. The horses will be available for drills by the Defence Department when required. This will not interfere with the hiring scheme so much as might be expected, as the hirer’s interest will be carefully considered by the Defence Department, inasmuch as the parades, except during Camp, take place principally on Saturdays after 2 p.m., and on holidays, when the hirers’ businesses are closed. It will be so arranged that there will be at all times in each State a certain number of horses on hand at the various depots, which will be used as relief horses to take the place of any requiring medical attendance, rest. &c. Besides the revenue to he earned from the hiring-out system amongst private employers - who have expressed their willingness to assist the scheme - there is a considerable amount of Government work now done by contract which can be catered for by the Defence Department’s horses. There will be available for hire one thousand and eleven (1,011) horses, whose total earnings at 7s. 6d. per week each, will be£19,713. It is proposed that no horse belonging to the Defence Department shall be hired to any person unless such person can satisfy an officer that the hirer has good stabling, good feed, and that the horse will be properly cared for. A regular inspection will be made to see that the horses are in good health, free from lameness, and in good condition. Any horse showing signs of sickness or over-work will be spelled at the various depots, and a horse from a unit will take its place until the horse is fit for work.
The above remarks apply only to the earning powers of the horses. In Victoria alone, if the Maribyrnong Estate land, which can be acquired’, is approved of, there will be a considerable acreage of good land capable of growing fodder, lucerne, &c, which will assist the up-keep of the horses, and thus go to the profit side of the proposed scheme. Important considerations, apart from enhanced efficiency, to be noted, are that the ownership of the horses means a considerable annual saving in money as against the old system of hiring. Further, should trouble arise, there will in all probability be a vast shortage of horses in the number required by the Imperial Government, thus rendering purchase in time of emergency difficult and expensive. One cannot overestimate the added efficiency to this important arm of the service - an arm which has in past history been a .decider of many hard-fought battles and a dictator of peace.
The Committee are of the opinion that the question of breeding horses is worthy of the immediate attention of the Government. Horsebreeding has been carried on for a long period in South Australia, on a limited scale, in connexion with the Post and Telegraph services, and has been found very satisfactory and profitable.
Attached is a report supplied by the Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia.
The Committee feel satisfied, from extensive information gathered, that the establishment of a horse-breeding station, if only for renewals, would still further decrease the annual expenditure on the proposed scheme.
The only objection which can be offered from the other side to this scheme is that the revenue has been over-estimated. My contention is that, even though the cost should be more in the long run, it would be a better and cheaper system than the present one. Now we do not get value for our money. We get inefficient horses, and that, as honorable senators must recognise, means inefficient .batteries. We may have the most highly-trained men, but if. in a time of emergency, they are furnished with untrained horses, our batteries will be useless. Under the system recommended by the committee, however, the batteries would be efficient, and the time which is now lost in training horses could be devoted to’ the training of men. I do not know if there is any Ministerial reply to be made to the report. If it has been rejected by the Minister of Defence,
I should like to know whether he took that course because he considered the revenue to be over-estimated. Did he reject the report because of the capital expenditure which is proposed? Does he mean to suggest that the Government cannot afford to find £59,000 this year to make the Commonwealth’s Horse Artillery efficient? Do they say : “ We shall continue to be satisfied with an inefficient field artillery”? Are we to spend only £12,000 or ,£13,000 in hiring horses which are not, and never can be made, efficient - horses which, if a war were to. break out to-morrow, we might not be able to secure?
– Yet nearly all the artillery horses in South Africa were London omnibus horses. “
– The honorable senator should remember that the horses were kept in a depot for a considerable time until they were trained. It should also be borne in mind that at the time of their arrival the war in South Africa had degenerated into a guerilla warfare. In all the great battles the horses belonging to the permanent troops were used. It was only in the latter stages of the war - that is, after the first supply of horses had begun to drop out - that the military authorities had to impress the London omnibus horses, and others.
– The official history of the war does not show that.
– It does. Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that the Royal Artillery of Great Britain are not horsed with permanent horses? If he wants a British precedent it is furnished by the Territorial forces, in which this system has been adopted.
– Experimentally. In two counties it is being tried.
– The system is being tested experimentally, but the honorable senator will find that the test is being carried out on a very large scale. When I was in the Defence Department I read the speech in which Mr. Haldane said that the results achieved had been eminently satisfactory, and that he proposed to extend the system. He mentioned that no difficulty had been found in getting private employers and others to agree to hire the horses’. But a better example is furnished by Germany. There, also, the horses for horsing the field artillery are not kept at the depot but are hired out. The report of our departmental committee is based on German lines, just as is the English experiment with the Territorial Forces. In the speech I ‘referred to Mr. Haldane alluded to the example and experience of Germany in that regard. ‘
– Germany did not adopt the system until after 1871, and it has never been tested in a war.
– The honorable senator must surely recognise that a trained horse is better than an untrained horse.
– Trained one day to a gun, and on six days to a manure cart.
– Under our present system we may get horses which have never been harnessed to a gun. But under the proposed system we should get horses every week which had been trained to a gun. A horse is an intelligent, adaptable animal, and once a lesson has been learned it is not forgotten for a long while. There is no keener branch of the defence force than the field artillery. It is composed of the finest and most intelligent men, who are all very keen on their work. They admit “that it fills them with disgust to be put on unsuitable and untrained horses every time they go on parade. They recognise that the training which they are now getting is not the training which they require for active service. The responsibility for taking no action oh this report rests with the Government. There was another report in regard to the clothing of the troops. But no provision is made’ to carry out its recommendations. The late Postmaster-General, and myself, appointed a departmental committee to go into the question. It consisted of Mr. S. A. Pethebridge, acting secretary to the Defence Department ; Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. Legge, quartermaster-general .; Mr. Charles E. Bright, Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Victoria ; and Mr. James Mason, accountant at the General Post Office, Melbourne. I do not propose to quote the whole of the report, but merely to read the recommendations which appear on page 3.
Having fully considered the whole question, and given due weight to the views expressed by the several witnesses examined, the Committee is of opinion that it would be a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth Service if a Government Clothing Factory were established. This would entail modifications or alterations with regard to certain details in the present system which are explained later on. The reasons which influence the Committee in forming this opinion are as follow : -
These anomalies - I am going to digress for the purpose of quoting one or two - are rather interesting. Honorable senators who have had an opportunity to peruse the report of the Tasmanian Wages Commission will remember that the wages paid in the clothing trade are lower in that State than iri an’ other State in the Commonwealth.
– Perhaps the employes do less work for the wages they receive.
– The manufacturers charge the Government more; for the work done than is charged in the other States. I compare the prices inNew South Wales, where wages are regulated by a Wages Board, with those in Tasmania, where there are no Wages Boards. The price of a jacket of khaki cloth for the light-horse uniform is- 23s. 3d. to 25s. in New South Wales, and the price for the same garment in Tasmania is 28s. od. The price for pantaloons of khaki cord is from 21s. to 22s. 66. in New South Wales, and 24s. od. in Tasmania. Puttees are supplied for from 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d. in New South Wales, and they cost 5s. 6d. in Tasmania. Caps for field service are supplied in New South Wales at from 2s. nd. to 3s. od’The Tasmanian manufacturers can beat the New South ‘Wales manufacturers in caps, for they supply them at 2s. 9’d.
– The wages paid in the manufacture of these articles in Tasmania are those fixed by the Victorian Wages Board.
– That can only have been the case very recently,” because the witnesses who appeared before the Tasmanian Wages Commission gave evidence that sweating in the trade occurred chiefly in the manufacture of uniforms for the Post and Telegraph and Defence Departments. On several occasions I read extracts from the report of the, Tasmanian. Commission in support of that statement., and there is no Wages Board in Tasmania to enforce the payment of wages at rates fixed by the Victorian Wages Board..
– I do not say that the payment of those wages is enforcedbut those wages have been adopted.
– If that be so, it is. because the Defence Department has pre- scribed that Victorian Wages Board rates shall in future be paid in carrying out contracts for the Department. The prices to which I am referring ruled when the employers were sweating their employes, as proved by the report of the Royal Commission to which I have referred. In the case of infantry uniforms, the price of the tunic of scarlet serge in New South Wales is 22s. 9d., and in Tasmania 26s. 9d. to 28s. 9d. The price for trousers of khaki cloth in New South Wales is 15s. to 15s.1d. These garments are supplied in Tasmania for from 12s. 5d. to 12s. 9d. I think that it will be found that on the average the Tasmanian prices are from 10 to 15 per cent higher than the New South Wales prices. In the case of artillery uniforms, the price for the tunic of blue cloth is 29s. to 34s. 6d. in New South Wales, and it is 34s. in Tasmania. Trousers cost 14s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. in New South Wales, and 20s. 3d. in Tasmania, In the case of Post and Telegraph uniforms the price of summer coats is 13s. 9d. in New South Wales, and 18s. 5d. in Tasmania. Winter coats cost 15s. 8d. in New South Wales, and 19s.10d. in Tasmania.
– The postal uniforms are not the same in the two States.
– I understand that they : are now uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator will find that that is not so. The postal uniform in New South Wales can be much more cheaply manufactured than that used in Tasmania.
– I know that military uniforms are the same in all the States.
– What is the point of the honorable senator’s remarks?
– I wish to know why the Minister of Defence has not acted upon the recommendations in these reports. Returning to the recommendations, I quote the following -
The clothing of an army is a very important matter. The better it is clothed the better it will be fitted to enter the field. Honorable senators will recognise that if the boots of the men are not good and well-fitting, they cannot be expected to march in them satisfactorily.
– Which item is the honorable senator referring to?
– On the general sub-division, I am directing attention to the fact that no provision is made for the establishment of a Commonwealth Clothing Factory, asrecommended in the report from which I have quoted. I am asking the Minister how the Government account for this omission. The report on the horsing of the forces is signed by Majors Grimwade and Dangar, who are important officers of the Department, and it should be worthy of consideration. The other report is also signed by important officials of the Public Service, and I think that the Minister should tell the Committee why the Government have decided not to adopt the recommendations contained in either of these reports.
– Senator Pearce has summarized his somewhat lengthy remarks in his last sentence or two. Two reports have been presented, one dealing with military horses and the other with clothing of military men, and the honorable senator wishes to know whether the Minister of Defence is preparing to take action in accordance with the recommendations in those reports.
– Why has he not done so?
– Both the reports referred to are now, and have been for some time, under the consideration of my honorable colleague in connexion with the whole question of the future of our Military Forces. 1 can tell honorable senators further, that, whatever may be the decision arrived at on these matters, it is not anticipated that we shall require to apply to Parliament for any appropriation in connexion with them during the present financial year. Having said so much for the Department, speaking for myself may I say, with regard to the report on the horsing of the Forces that it can only be said to suggest reasons for further inquiry. It is true, as Senator Pearce has said, that it is signed by two competent military gentlemen. I have not the slightest intention to cast any reflection upon them; but if you ask a military man to report as to the desirability of giving him better facilities for miltary purposes, you need ;be under no misapprehension as to the character of the report he will submit. He will naturally desire, to be provided with the best facilities for carrying out his work, and he is not usually disposed to give sufficient attention to the business^ side of the matter. I would ask Senator Pearce whether he thinks that the report on the horsing .of the Forces to which he has referred represents the last word that can be said on the subject. I say that it marks merely a starting point for inquiry. The .gentlemen making the report assume that we might hire out horses here at the price for which horses are hired out in Great Britain. The horses hired out regularly in Great Britain at 7s. 6d. per week would cost anything from £50 to £100 each. In Australia’ the price of suitable horses for military purposes would bc from £30 to £50. I think it is assumed that the price would be £30, and I ask honorable senators whether any man in Australia is likely to pay £20 a year for the hire of a horse that could be purchased outright for .£30. No member of the Committee would pay 66 per cent, of the total value of a horse as a yearly rental for the hire of the animal, especially in view of the fact that it must be hired under a condition prescribing that it shall not be used for heavy draught; that it must be stabled, fed, and shod under military regulations and supervision, and be available to the military authorities whenever required. The whole financial basis of the scheme falls to pieces when it is looked at from a business point of view. I do not wish to say that because the financial basis is faulty the proposal must be put out of court without further consideration. I admit, with Senator Pearce, that it is eminently desirable that we should have a sufficient number of trained horses for the use of the Military Forces. I claim some little knowledge of horses and horse-breeding, and, having read the report very carefully. I think that the authors of it have confused the desirability of the military authorities owning and training their horses with the question of breeding them. The two questions are quite distinct and should be treated as distinct business propositions. The authors of the report by mixing them up have, to my mind, lessened the value of some of the suggestions they make.
– They refer to the breeding of horses only in a subsidiary paragraph of their report.
– It seems to me that they lean to the belief that the Government should breed the horses required for our Military Forces. While it is desirable that we should have always available a sufficient number of trained horses, it is not necessary in order to secure them that the Commonwealth should be committed to breeding its own horses for military purposes.
– The honorable senator cannot deny the inefficiency of the present system.
– I agree with the honorable senator that not only in regard to the horsing of the Forces, but speaking generally in regard to almost every branch of the military service, there are defects which we must all deplore. I have said that the matters referred to in the reports have for some time been under the consideration. of the Minister in connexion with the policy affecting the future of the whole of our Military Forces ; but that whatever decision may be arrived at in regard to these particular matters it is not probable that the Government will invite Parliament to make any appropriation in respect of them during the present financial year.
– I should like to know whether any provision is made for repairing the existing jetty at Point Nepean or building a new jetty there. There is a jetty there at present which is used as an alternative landing place in rough weather. Honorable senators may be aware that in time of war our forts would be manned by militia artillery, as we have not a sufficient number of permanent artillery for the purpose. So far as the forts on the Nepean side are concerned, the militia artillery would have to be taken by train to Queenscliff and thence across by boat to the Nepean side. In rough weather it is found impossible at times to land troops at the regular landing place near the Heads, and they used to be landed at a pier further inside the harbor. The pier is now out of repair, and when Minister of Defence, after a visit of inspection, I promised, on the representations of responsible officers who pointed out the vast importance of providing a suitable landing place on the Nepean side in the event of war, that the existing means of landing troops there would be improved. It is a very important work, and one which would involve an expenditure of less than £500. But I do not see any mention of it in these Estimates. Is it concealed in any other item? If not, why has not provision been made for it ? It is idle for us to have men unless we are able to land them at our forts in any weather. I know that the officers of the Department will tell the Minister that it frequently happens, that members of the Permanent Forces cannot be landed at the jetty at Nepean.
– Senator Pearce has asked whether the work to which he refers is concealed in any other item. In reply, I wish to say that it is not. No provision has been made for it upon these Estimates, and I have no specific information in regard to it. I would suggest to my honorable friend that it is not a difficult matter to point to an isolated work here and there, which it is necessary to undertake. There must be thousands of such works throughout the Commonwealth. But the more urgent of them should certainly be dealt with first ; and in this instance, I presume it is thought that there are more urgent works demanding our attention than that to which the honorable senator has alluded. At the same time, I shall certainly see that his remarks are brought under the notice of the Minister of Defence.
– I desire information in regard to the progress which has been made towards the establishment of a cordite factory. Under the heading of “ Victoria,” I note the following item, “ Maribyrnong site, buildings and engineering works for cordite factory - towards cost, £13,801.” This work, which has been hanging (ire for some time, is, I think, the most necessary of all for defence purposes. It is essential that the Commonwealth should be in a position to manufacture ammunition as fast as it would be required in case of emergency. I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to give the Committee some idea of the quantity of ammunition in reserve. My own idea is that we should always have in .reserve 250,000 rifles, with 500 rounds of ammunition for each. It must be recollected that, in case of national emergency, all our ablebodied citizens would be called upon to shoulders rifle. But I have considerable doubt as to whether even a fair proportion of the rifles that would be required under such circumstances is available; and, also as to whether we have a sufficient reserve of ammunition. From what I have been able to gather, I believe that we have not sufficient rifles with which to arm our troops. That position is not at all creditable to the Defence Department. We all know that when war does break out, it will come upon us suddenly, and that our sea communications may be cut, so that we may not be able to obtain weapons from abroad. Whilst we are awaiting the establishment of an ammunition factory and a small-arms factory, it is essential that the Defence Department should be informed that, at whatever cost, sufficient rifles must be made available with which to arm every able-bodied citizen of the Commonwealth, and that sufficient ammunition must be held in reserve to furnish those rifles with an adequate SUPp v.
– Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell the Committee how many new guns it is proposed to mount in the fixed defences of Victoria? Then, in regard to the item “ New naval station on River Yarra, £500,” I wish to know whether that expenditure has been incurred in connexion with the site which has been acquired, or whether it is intended to cover the cost of removing the Naval Depot which is at present located at Williamstown to the Yarra ? I should also be glad to learn what has been done in the matter of obtaining a suitable artillery range in Victoria.
– - Answering the last question put by Senator Pearce first, I may say that no provision is made on these Estimates for the acquisition of an artillery range in Victoria. In reply to the inquiry by Senator Givens as to the quantity of ammunition that is available in the Commonwealth, I would point out that the supply at present on hand is 500 rounds per rifle.
– For how many rifles?
– There are 100,000 rifles on hand now, but the 500 rounds per rifle to which I have alluded is in excess of the standard which has been adopted by the Imperial authorities. In addition, the small arms ammunition factory at Footscray is capable of turning out small arms ammunition at a quicker rate than we anticipate we shall require it to be manufactured. It is not intended to import more rifles for the reason that, under the contract entered into for the establishment of a small arms factory at Lithgow, there is an undertaking to manufacture rifles within twelve months.
– Have the Government any guarantee that we shall not be faced with war within that period?
– No guarantee of that ‘kind can be given by anybody in Australia. For the information of Senator Pearce I may say that it is proposed to mount four new guns in the fixed defences of Victoria. The expenditure of £500 upon the item “ New naval station on River Yarra,” is intended to cover the cost of establishing the naval station there, which is to take the place of the present naval depôt at Williamstown.
– Under the heading of “ Queensland,” I wish to draw attention to the item “ Emplacements and works for fixed defences, guns, and lights, £100.” I have it on the best authority that all the guns mounted at Thursday Island are obsolete and, therefore, utterly worthless from the stand-point of their ability to protect the chief gateway ,of Australia. As honorable senators are aware, Thursday Island is located at the north-eastern extremity of Australia, at the entrance to the channel lying between the Great Barrier Reef and the mainland. That reef extends practically along the whole coastline of Queensland. It is very important that the fort which guards one of the principal gate-ways to Australia should be kept in a thoroughly up-to-date condition. Thursday Island is the nearest point to the eastern countries from which danger to Australia is to be apprehended, and any foreign power which obtained possession of it would be able to control the whole of Queensland. By sending a powerful battleship to the southern end of the channel lying inside the Great Barrier Reef it would be possible to bottleup every ship voyaging along the Queensland coast. Whilst it is right that we should place the defences of our principal harbors in order, it is of even more importance that the defences of the principal gateway to the Commonwealth should be put in a similar condition. Tt has been stated that, owing to the number of Japanese engaged in the pearl shelling industry, the Japanese Government are in possession of complete plans of our reefs, harbors, &c.
– Probably we have similar plans in reference to Japan.
– That statement merely emphasizes the need which exists for having a thoroughly up-to-date fortress established on Thursday Island. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council see that something is done in that direction?
– - Twelve months ago an explosion’ occurred amongst the fortifications on Thursday Island, and in this Chamber I put several questions to the Minister representing the Minister of Defence with a view to eliciting its cause. The explosion was supposed to have been caused during a drunken spree amongst the garrison, or by coloured men who were assumed to be interested in the destruction of the fortifications. Has any definite information been obtained as to how the explosion occurred? I believe that the Queensland Government offered a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators. Was it really a serious occurrence, and has anything been found out about it since?
– I wish to say a few words with regard . to the vote for fixed defences. I do not know whether any portion of the money is to be spent. .on Thursday Island, or whether it is to be applied to the defences at Lytton. If any of the amount i> to be spent at Lytton, I consider that a mistake will be made.’
– The whole of the money is for Lytton.
– The position of affairs thee is peculiar, and shows how necessary it is for the State and Federal authorities to act together when public works are being undertaken. My information is that the Marine Board of Brisbane are cutting a new channel at the mouth of the river, which will practically make the Lytton fort useless. The boats coming into the channel will, I am told, be under fire for a very short while when the new cutting is completed. If that be so, the question arises whether it is worth while to spend more money on the Lytton fort, and whether the guns should not be shifted to another place. Has that consideration been kept in mind? Have the departmental officers made up their mind as to whether it is advisable to spend more money at Lytton ? Obviously we do not desire to spend even’ £100 on a fort that will be useless. We do not maintain forts for ornamental purposes. As to what Senator Givens has said, I wish to add that the position as to Thursday Island is one of very great seriousness. The garrison there consists of about eighty men. On the same island are some 800 Japanese and other coloured aliens. In fact, there are at Thursday Island more Japanese, many of whom have probably seen military service, than there are armed Britishers. During the Japanese-Russian war, I am assured that the Japanese residents at Thursday Island received full reports of victories of their countrymen, transmitted in cypher messages, before the information was published in the Australian press. Those who have read Japanese military historycan have no doubt that amongst the population there are many Japanese officers, members of the Intelligence Corps, and also officers of the active forces. The Japanese have officers, not only in the Commonwealth, but in all parts of the East. In the event of hostilities between Great Britain and an Eastern power, one of the first acts against Australia would probably be the seizure of Thursday Island. There are sufficient coloured aliens there now to overcome the garrison. Thursday Island is a most vital point in- our defences, and the whole position in regard to it is a grave one.
– The small vote of £100 for emplacements and works for fixed defences, guns, and lights is required principally for alterations to the electric light emplacements, and the bed of the oil-engine at the Lytton fort. Senator Pearce has pointed out that, owing to the cutting of the new channel, the question arises whether the Lytton fort is not rendered useless. That point is under the consideration of the Department. But I understand that no definite decision has been arrived at as to what the effect of the new channel will be. I have no information concerning the historical explosion at Thursday Island, referred to by Senator Chataway.
– An hour ago I asked the officers advising the Minister for information.
– Apparently the explosion is one of those things which have been lost sight of in the mists of antiquity. But if my honorable friend is still curious I shall try to obtain the information for him.
– A report was called for, but nothing was discovered.
– With reference to Thursday Island, there can be no doubt that the situation is one which calls for most serious consideration on the part of those responsible for the defence of this country. But my honorable friend, Senator Givens, will understand that matters which involve future policy cannot be dealt with now. I must ask him to wait until the Minister of Defence discloses his policy, as he will shortly do in ‘the other House.
– Are new guns being sent to Thursday Island?
– No provision is made on these Estimates for new guns there. There are many points on the Australian coast which are extremely important, but there is a great deal of leeway to make up, and it is obviously impossible to do all that is requisite in one year. These Estimates are to be taken, not as meeting all the requirements, but as a reasonable step towards making up leeway.
– Has the Minister any information to give relating to item 8 - “ Brisbane Rifle Range for Metropolitan Troops.” I do not know what progress has been made, nor what the total cost of the range will be.
– The total expenditure involved on the Brisbane rifle range is ,£24,650. The amount now submitted is for the completion of the work, being £8,932, of which £1,282 is a re-vote.
– When will the work bt* ‘ finished ?
– It is expected that it will be finished within the financial year.
– I draw attention to the vote of £1,450 for site and buildings, military head-quarters offices, Adelaide. Anybody who has seen the present head-quarters of the Military Forces in Adelaide will admit that they are not only miserably inadequate, inconvenient, and insanitary, but ought to be done away with altogether.
– They should be abolished lock, stock, and barrel.
– It is impossible to effect any alterations which would bring the present offices into a proper state of repair. »
– To try to repair their would be to throw money away.
– L agree with the honorable senator, lt is now, I believe, proposed to buy from the State Government some land upon which to build new offices. While 1 admit the need for the work, I am of opinion that the land on which it is proposed to erect the offices is inconvenient, and not likely to serve the purposes required. It is a piece facing the road running from King William-street to Frome-road, down by the river, arid close to the present parade ground. It is a triangular piece. I enter my ‘ protest against the land being purchased and used for the purpose in view. The schedule contains an item of ,£180 for drill-halls. Now, it is impossible for the men to drill properly on the present parade ground. At the head-quarters in Adelaide there ought to be an ample drill-hall, and also proper offices for the staff. It is proposed to cover with buildings the piece of. land to which I allude, and in that case a drillhall will have to be provided in some other part. That in itself will be a great mistake. I believe that another piece of ground was some time ago under offer to the Commonwealth Government for this purpose. As a business transaction the acquisition of that piece would, in my opinion, have proved a good speculation. But whether that be so or not, the site which it is now proposed to use is altogether unsuitable. It would be a mistake to put the offices there. If the purchase has not been actually completed, 1 ask Senator Millen whether he will consult the Minister of Defence, and induce him to make a personal inspection. If he did, I am sure he would be convinced that a mistake had been made.
– I emphasize what has been said by Senator Vardon. The present military offices in Adelaide are fit for nothing. I am surprised at the small amount of money put on the Estimates for this purpose. Of course, the sum of .^,450 may be merely for the purchase qf the land for new buildings. If not. it is quite inadequate. But I agree with Senator Vardon that the whole question should be reconsidered. I corroborate what he has said as to the unsuitableness of the site. Better sites could certainly be obtained. Even if the Commonwealth Government have paid for the land in question, it “would be better foi them to use it for some other purpose than to erect the military offices there. I take it that the. Ordnance Department would have to be moved to the new site when the offices were shifted. That would mean heavy cartage. The site is a good distance from a railway station, and the ground is hilly. The cartage alone would be expensive.
– When I was Minister of Defence, I inspected the military offices in Adelaide, and I must confess that I felt ashamed to think that the Commonwealth was housing its officers in such a wretched building and under such miserable conditions. But the proposal now made is not a businesslike one. It will simply lead to another re-shuffle in the course of a few years. The Commonwealth has a little parade ground which is shut in by the river, public reserves, public buildings, and the North Adelaideroad. The existing buildings are altogether inadequate, and, therefore, it is proposed to purchase a small triangular block in the situation referred to” on which to build. If that course is taken the Commonwealth will have to utilize every inch of the site in order to get sufficient head-quarters for the present establishment. But what will it be called upon to do when a big establishment has to be provided for ? It will have to erect a tall building like a skyscraper, which is most Unsuitable for military purposes or to build elsewhere. The position in Adelaide is so serious that the best thing which the Government can do is to build straight away on a new site. The Minister certainly should no’t come to a conclusion until he has inspected the ground. On the occasion of mv visit I was shown the various depots. I saw the depot for the army service corps, and the depot for the field artillery. Certainly the latter had sufficient room, but their depôt was away from the parade ground and head-quarters. As regards the army medical equipment, that branch had a temporary lease of buildings belonging to the Agricultural Society, and a portion of the land with a building had been leased bv that Society to some other body. Our lease was granted on the condition that at a Hay’s notice t>e military authorities could remove. I saw a valuable army medical equipment in a most unsuitable building, because it was built for quite a different purpose. In Adelaide there was a pom-pom section, and in order to house the gun a verandah had to be covered in with a few sheets of galvanized iron. Then the State Medical Department boarded up the doorway in order to provide a “ dossing-ground “ for a number of indigent persons. The result was that the army medical corps had to reach their store by the grace of the pom-pom section. The officer in charge of the latter refused to give the medical men the keys of his establishment, because, as he said, if anything should be lost or stolen he would be held responsible. On the other hand, the officers of the medical corps could not get to their equipment without his permission. What a beautiful system? The military authorities in South Australia were not to blame for the position, because they had to get in wherever they could. I found that the offices were little buildings without proper ventilation. Four or five clerks had to work under a low ceiling, and in a temperature ranging to over 80 degrees, and that was not during a hot day either. In fact, the accommodation was only large enough for one clerk. The accommodation allotted to the militia officers consisted of a verandah, which had been boarded up and fitted with a door. One could touch the galvanized iron ceiling easily. That is how the Commonwealth encourages the officers on a boiling Saturday afternoon or a hot summer’s night to do work in connexion with the corps. The position, however, will not be improved bv what the Government propose to do. It will simply be a hotch-potch. The offices will still be scattered all over the place, because it will not be possible to find room for the medical equipment on this small block of land. The most which can be done will be to provide room for the officers, but when alterations r- are being made why not provide not only for the head-quarters staff, but also for the corps establishments and the storage of equipments? The conclusion I came to as the result of my visit was that the Department would have to dispose of the land and secure another site near the city. ‘ There is, however, an alternative. In close proximity to the head-quarters there is a Destititute Asylum. It would pay the Commonwealth if it could induce the State to surrender the area containing the present head-quarters, the police buildings, and the destitute asylum, raze those buildings to the ground, and dispose of the material, and on the compact area thus secured erect buildings to accommodate the army service corps, the field artillery, and the whole of our equipments. If that course were taken we should have a fine parade ground, and the buildings could be- extended whenever necessary. That seems to me a businesslike proposition. It will be unwise to spend a single penny in building on the triangular site.
– -The representations which have been made here to-day have been made for a little time to the Minister with the result that having been impressed with them he has directed that no further action shall be taken until he can arrange to go to Adelaide, which he hopes to do shortly, with a view to looking into the whole question. In order to assist him to arrive at a correct decision I shall take an opportunity to see that the remarks of honorable senators are referred to him.
– I desire to elicit some information regarding the item of £6,000 towards the cost of a site and buildings for barracks and quarters for the Fremantle Defences. A little time ago my colleagues and I made some representations to the Minister of Home Affairs, and we were informed that negotiations were pending between the Commonwealth and the State with a view to compoulsorily acquiring a site. At a later stage I again interviewed the Minister, and submitted a few questions to him, and he promised to send a memorandum to me, but it has not yet arrived. I desire to know if there is any immediate prospect of the work being started. I hope that native material will be used in its construction. The last building erected for the Commonwealth in Fremantle was a post-office. Tenders were called for erecting the building in brick, with cement facings or Donnybrook stone. I am pleased that the latter’ was adopted, as we thus obtained a more substantial building.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales- Vice-President of the Executive Council)
T5.22].- - Regarding item No. 8 under the head of Western Australia, I have been furnished with the following information -
The forts at Arthur Head and North Fremantle have been completed, but there is not any accommodation for the garrison to man the forts. The ordnance of the forts is of the latest type approved for the Commonwealth, and until the garrison is stationed there difficulty will be foup.fl in training. The site is for the erection of barracks and all accessory buildings and drill-ground for the garrison of permanent and militia artillery.
Negotiations for the purpose of acquiring this land have been proceeding for some little time.
In October last the Mayor accepted an offer of £3,000 subject to the approval of the State Government. In February, 1909, it was represented by the Defence Department that the Minister - Senator Pearce - during a recent visit inspected the site, considered the area insufficient, and asked that negotiations for extra land should be entered into. The Military Commandant and the Under-Secretary for Works conferred. On the 16th “April last, the Premier was asked the conditions under which his Government would transfer extra land. ‘ A reply was received on the nth June, referred to the Department of Defence for concurrence on the 17th June, and returned on the 14th July. Executive approval is now being obtained.
– The remarks I made in regard to the Adelaide head-quarters apply in a less degree to the Perth head-quarters. The latter is a more modern building, with larger accommodation at present, but the available land is being rapidly covered with buildings. I would recommend the Minister to ascertain if a more suitable site cannot be obtained in Perth. Western Australia represents a third of this continent, and in the very near future it must contain a very large population. It has, I think, the smallest area in the Commonwealth for a head-quarters site. With its present small force of 3,000 or 4,000 men all told, the buildings are sufficient and can be enlarged to a certain extent, but the time will soon come when, they will be inadequate. There is no parade ground. I would strongly advise the Minister to instruct his officers to keep a lookout for an additional site. I am disappointed at not finding on these Estimates an item for the acquisition of a site at Fremantle for a naval dep6t. When I was Minister there was a report presented by Captain Creswell, who had seen various sites. I think that Captain Tickell has since visited Fremantle to make a further report. I had hoped that the Works Estimates for this year would have included an item. for the acquisition of a site for a naval depot in each State, because that will he necessary if we are to have a local squadron. It will be needed in connexion with the Naval Militia and the ships permanently in commission. If the acquisition of a site is deferred until that course becomes a matter of urgent- necessity, the Commonwealth will have to pay through the nose. I recommend the Minister during the current year to act upon the report in his possession - I know that various sites have been recommended - and if he does I am satisfied that the Commonwealth will save a considerable sum.
.- I am very glad that this matter has been brought forward. A little time ago a deputation of Western Australian senators waited upon the Minister of Defence and pointed out to him how useful the Fremantle workshops would be as an adjunct to any naval scheme of defence. The Minister said that he would authorize Captain Tickell, who was then in Western Australia, to inquire into the matter. Captain Tickell went from Albany to Fremantle, inspected the workshops there, and the site where the new dock is being erected. I have received a copy of his report. He, no doubt, made exhaustive inquiries, but on one or two points I venture to differ from his conclusions. He does not think that the workshops at Fremantle could be used for the repair of
Avar vessels. He points out that in the past trading vessels have always been sent to ports in the eastern States for repairs. The reason for that has been that in the past there has been no dock on the Western Australian coast sufficiently large to accommodate oversea vessels. At the present time the Western Australian Government are engaged in the construction of such a dock, and it will be completed in the near future. They are also erecting a large slip, which might be used for the repair of large vessels. In his report Captain Tickell refers to the machinery at present in the Fremantle workshops, to the fact that iron and steel are not stocked except to a very limited extent, that there is a deficiency both in quantity and assortment, and that this applies also tothe open market in both Perth and Fremantle. When the deputation waited on the Minister «f Defence, they pointed out to him that, although the machinery at present in the workshops in Fremantle is not sufficient for executing repairs to war vessels, the plant could be brought uptodate by the expenditure of a little money. That has evidently been overlooked by Captain Tickell in his report. The report states that there are men and material in the railway workshops. There are boilermakers, engine-fitters, and other craftsmen who could be despatched at short notice from Midland Junction to Fremantle, a distance of 22 miles, when it was necessary to carry out the work of repairs. Apparently all that is necessary is the spending of a little money to increase the plant at present in Fremantle. I” do not raise this question in any parochial_spirit ; but when it is remembered that there is not a single place along the 2,000 miles of the coastline of Western Australia where a war vessel or a trading vessel of considerable dimensions could put in for repairs, the necessity for establishing a repairing base in that ;State must be obvious. I do not mean to say that we should subdivide our ship-building programme - that we should build one vessel in Sydney, another in Melbourne, and a third at Fremantle - but I do contend that in every State we should establish a base where vessels might run in for necessary repairs. Despite the somewhat unfavorable report presented by Captain Tickell I believe that, with the expenditure of very little money, ‘Fremantle might be made such a base, and I hope that the head of the Defence Department will give the suggestion further consideration.
– I wish to obtain some information as to what is proposed to be done in connexion with the item, “ Mount Nelson - workshop and caretaker’s quarters, fencing - £585,” and the item, “ Hobart - erection df new buildings in barracks, towards cost - £6,000, ” which includes a re-vote of £2,000,
– - In connexion with the first item referred to, as the honorable senator is no doubt aware from his local knowledge, the workshop and caretaker’s quarters are, as recommended by the officials, absolutely necessary. It is reported that the fencing is urgently required to keep the public from trespassing on the fort and adjacent land. With respect to the other item referred to, the total estimated cost of the works proposed is £8,000, and of this amount ,£6,000 is now asked for. I have here a lengthy report on the proposed works which the honorable senator may see later.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 6 (Postmaster-General’ s Department), £564,042.
– In connexion with the proposed vote of £8,000 “ towards cost of alterations to General Post Office, Sydney,” I should like to know whether any portion of the vote is to be expended in connexion with the removal of the Post Office to the Market Buildings?-
– If that be -so, the vote may be justified. The rumour was industriously circulated that it was intended to remove the Post Office to the Market Buildings, and if that were proposed I should have regarded the expenditure as only so much money wasted.
– I notice that provision is made in the schedule for many works connected with the Post and Telegraph Department in South Australia that are urgently required ; but I see no provision made for any improvement in connexion with the postal arrangements at -Murray Bridge. I should be glad if Ministers would look into the complaint which has been repeatedly made, as to the inadequacy and inconvenience of the arrangements for carrying on the business of the post-office at that place. The work of the office is at present carried on in the railway station. It was at one time proposed that, as the local State school had become altogether too small to meet present requirements, the building might be taken over by the Commonwealth and used as a postoffice. That would probably have been a very good arrangement to make. Another post-office which I should like to mention, and to which there is no reference in the schedule, is that at Balaklava. The building used as a post-office there is about the most disgraceful building that disfigures any town in South Australia. Balaklava is a growing and a prosperous town. In proof of that statement, I may say that in the last year two of the principal banks have erected very fine buildings there in which to carry on their business. The present building has been in existence for perhaps thirty years. There is a sittingroom in it 11 feet square, out of which 4 doors open. The dining-room is a little larger, but there are 2 bed-rooms, each 11 feet by 9
. -I think that Senator Vardon has made out a strong case for prompt and sympathetic inquiry. I will see that his remarks are at once placed before my colleague, the Postmaster-General, with a personal request that immediate attention shall be given to them.
– Under the heading of “Western Australia” there is an item of £5,000 upon these Estimates for the purchase of sites for post-offices. I should like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to say whether he is satisfied with the system which is at present adopted in connexion with the acquisition of land for Common wealth purposes. In several instances which have come to my knowledge, the prices paid by the Commonwealth for land have been quite exorbitant. Recently, in Tasmania, the amount asked for the purchase of a rifle range was an outrageous one. I understand, too, that no less than £100 per acre was demanded for the purchase of land at Eucla. The sum of £5,000 seems a large one for us to vote in connexion with the purchase of postal sites, and if the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act is not working satisfactorily it is high time that we amended it with a view to enabling the Government to acquire land at reasonable prices in lieu of the exorbitant prices which it has hitherto been required to pay. It would be interesting to the Committee to learn whether the Commonwealth is getting a fair deal.
– Whether or not the Commonwealth is getting a fair deal in this matter is, after all, merely a question of opinion. One man may think that it is, whilst another may hold a different opinion. But I would point out to Senator Lynch that there are two methods by which the Commonwealth may acquire land. The first is by purchase, and the second by acquisition under our Property forPublic Purposes Acquisition Act. It frequently happens that officers of the Department think it advisable that the Commonwealth should pay a trifle more for land than it is honestly worth, rather than that it should be compelled to incur the cost which would be incidental to the acquisition of the land under the Act which I have mentioned. It then becomes a question for a business man to balance the advantages of adopting the course which I have outlined against its disadvantages. But after allowing for the difficulties which assert themselves whenever the Government enter the market as a purchaser of land, I believe that our officers are getting for the Commonwealth as good value as is possible.
Senator VARDON (South Australia [5.46]. - I notice that provision is made in this division for the extension of telephonic communication in the various States. I should liketo ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether it is intended to establish telephonic communication with Loxton in South Australia. Connexion could be accomplished from Ren- mark. I have previously made representations upon this matter. I believe that the question involved is mainly one of cost, and that the residents interested would be glad to provide the requisite material in the way of poles, &c, if they could get the work carried out.
– In reply to the honorable senator, I can only undertake to bring the matter to which he alluded under the notice of the responsible Minister.
– I wish to direct attention to the need which exists for providing telephonic communication between one portion of Kangaroo Island and Penneshaw. This matter has been before the Department for a considerable time. I have interviewed the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of South Australia in reference to it, as- has also Mr. Livingstone. I understand that there are about 10 or 11 miles of telegraph wire required to make the necessary connexion. The former Deakin Government asked the settlers interested to guarantee the Department against loss if the undertaking were carried out. That guarantee was forthcoming, and as a result the Government received ,£24 in cash. But, notwithstanding that, they have done nothing whatever towards carrying out the work. I think that Snowtown has now been connected by telephone. But for a considerable time that work was hung up in the same way. The reason ‘ assigned was the difficulty of obtaining the necessary, funds. The Deputy PostmasterGeneral of South Australia informed me that the work would prove a remunerative one, but his difficulty was that he had not the £6 which were required to make the requisite connexion. In one instance the Government could not carry out the work because they lacked £6, and in the other they did not undertake it notwithstanding that they held a guarantee from the settlers of .£24. Surely it is absurd that a Deputy Postmaster-General should be placed in the position that was occupied by Mr. Waddy.
– The remarks of Senator W. Russell referred to the extension of telephonic communication from one portion of Kangaroo Island to Penneshaw.
– They did.
– Then provision is made on- these Estimates for that work to be carried out.
– I am very glad to see that the sum of £10,000 appears on these estimates in connexion with wireless telegraphy. I should like to know what has been done towards erecting wireless telegraphic stations along the Australian coast. Somewhere back in the mists of antiquity I recollect asking a number of questions in reference to this important matter. On 7th October last year I asked -
Is it the intention of the Government to make provision in this year’s Postal Estimates for the erection of wireless telegraphic stations at Fremantle, Cape York, Thursday Island, Goose Island, and Port Moresby?
The reply which I received was that definite information would be given when the Budget had been delivered. At the beginning of the present session I again put a similar question. The reply that I received was, “ You will be informed when the Budget speech is delivered.” I see that .£10,000 is allocated for the purpose of wireless- telegraphy on the present schedule. ‘ It is only a small amount, tout I should like to see it spent. The time is ripe for the erection of stations for this purpose. Had we had wireless telegraphy stations on the Australian coast it is possible that we might have been able to discover the whereabouts of the vessel which it would seem is now unfortunately drifting in some part of the Indian cr Southern Ocean. It has been said by engineers that possibly the engineers on the Waratah would have been able to rig up a wireless telegraphy arrangement by means of which we could have received messages had there been receiving stations on the coast. But apart from that consideration, it is quite evident that delay cannot any longer be excused. I hope that the Government will give serious attention to the matter, and will not simply place £10,000 on the Estimates with the intention of doing nothing.
– - I should like to urge upon the Government that something should be promptly done in the matter of wireless telegraphy. A vote for that purpose has been on the Estimates for some years. The time has now arrived when the Government should make up their minds as to what system they intend to adopt. Hitherto they have been in a state of uncertainty. The Orient Steam- ship Company are waiting to erect a wireless telegraphy system on their vessels, but cannot act until they know what system the Commonwealth intends to adopt.
– The Peninsular and Oriental vessels have already been fitted up.
– That is so, but it is necessary for those responsible for these vessels to know what system the Commonwealth will favour. I trust that there will be no further delay.
– Iam entirely in sympathy with the remarks made by Senator Macfarlane, who has pointed out that money for wireless telegraphy purposes has been on the Estimates for some years. But the blame for delay cannot be laid at the door of . the present Postmaster-General. I am aware that the subject is occupying Sir John Quick’s close attention. He is convinced that the time has arrived when we should definitely determine upon a system, and should equip certain convenient stations on our coast. We may hope to have these stations multiplied as the requirements of the system render it necessary that that should be done.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 7 and 8 (Treasury), £4,200.
– I should like to have some particulars with regard to the item £3,400 for machinery and plant for stamp printing. I understand that some arrangement has been made for taking over the work done in connexion with stamp printing in South Australia, and for securing the services of Mr. Cook, the printer there. I also understand that the work has been done at a very low cost in South Australia.
.- The sum of £3,400 for machinery for stamp printing is made up of £3,113 for machinery proposed to be taken over from the Government of Victoria and £250 for an additional machine for the printing of, amongst other things, pictorial postcards and letter-cards. It is a machine that not only prints, but folds and perforates.
– Are the Government actually going to print picture post-cards?
– More Socialism !
– This is art, not Socialism ; the two are contradictory.
– I am really surprised.
– There is also a sum of £57 for sundries. The Commonwealth thinks it desirable that its stamp machinery should be placed in a separate building apart from the Victorian machinery.
– Does the Government intend to take over stamp printing plants such as are in existence in the other States?
– I do not think that is proposed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 9 to11 (Department of Defence), £217,422.
– The Government have made protestations to the effect that they are fully alive to the lack of equipment which is hampering the Defence Force, and we are told that in this Bill they are making due and proper provision for that purpose. I have before me the Appropriation (Works and Buildings Act) for 1907-8, and I propose to compare the expenditure in that year with that provided for in the present Bill. In 1907-8 the amount appropriated was , £186,050. The amount appropriated in this Bill for the same purpose is £121,000. This is the division in which, if any provision is being made for the equipment of the Forces we should find the details. Yet we find the Government spending thisyear £41,000 less than was spent in 1907-8.
– It all depends on what is being done with the money.
– It is admitted by the Government themselves that the Forces are lacking in equipment, and it was stated in 1907-8 that an attempt was then being made to bring the equipment up to date. Let me compare the items. No one can say that the accoutrements and equipment of our Forces are up to date. We have practically no transport equipment. If cur troops had to take the field to-morrow we should have to commandeer all sorts of unsuitable vehicles.
– Does “ commandeering “ presume paying for the vehicles?
– I presume so, but the honorable senator has “ been through the mill ‘ ‘ and knows what the word means.
– It is a word that bears two interpretations.
– I am assuming an honest interpretation. Only £14,000 is proposed to foe spent on accoutrements. For waggons, harness, saddlery, and equipment for the field artillery £10,200 is proposed to be spent. In 1907-8 the expenditure was £29,000. The field artillery is by no means properly equipped. More waggons are needed, more harness, and more equipment of every kind. The Government propose to spend £6,000 on camp equipment. In 1907-8 we voted £8,000. Yet at the last Easter encampment a number of members of rifle clubs in various States offered to go into camp and could not be accommodated. I myself approached some of the rifle associations and persuaded them to induce their members to go into camp. They were agreeable, but it was found that a difficulty arose because we had not sufficient tents, frying pans, and billy cans for them. Yet this Government say that they are taking steps to equip the Military Forces. On account of miscellaneous expenditure the Government ask for an increase. Lastyear the money voted for this purpose was only a little over what was sufficient to pay for contracts entered into. On Martini Lee-Enfield Rifles the expenditure in 1907-8 was £20,000. This year it is proposed to spend £4,250. On bayonets in 1907-8 we spent £18.750. It is true that it is proposed to spend £20,000 this year ; but the total expenditure on this provision in 1907-8 was £104,050 less £24,050, which was unspent in the previous year, leaving a net total of about £80,000. as compared with £78,150, which is the amount set down for special Defence material in the schedule now before us; and on the remaining division £52,000 was voted as compared with £121,000on this occasion. From these figures honorable senators will recognise, I think, that the Government’s claim that they are making an extensive provision of equipment is not borne out by the facts.
– The figures speak for themselves.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 12 (Department of External Affairs), £5,000.
– With regard to the item of £5,000 far expenses in connexion with the acquisition of a site for Commonwealth offices in London, I desire to know whether any negotiations are proceeding, and if not, whether this vote indicates an intention on the part of the Government to move in the matter ?
– No negotiations are proceeding at the present moment. At thes ame time, the Government feel that, sooner or later, it is desirable that the Commonwealth should acquire offices in London. This amount has been placed on the Estimates, not in regard to a specific area, or to specific negotiations, but in order that, should a site be brought under their attention, the Government may be armed with the authority of Parliament for entering into negotiations with the owner. At the same time, I wish it to be distinctly understood that in no sense will this vote commit the Government to any arrangement without Parliament first being consulted.
– Probably, if negotiations were proceeding, it would be with a view to the rental of some offices for the Commonwealth ; but, as the item is worded, I think that if passed it will commit the Senate to the acquisition of a site, and should a site be secured, probably Ministers would be justified in making use of the argument that the money could be spent for the purchase of a site, but not for the rental of offices. I do not think that this vote will authorize the expenditure of any money for the renting of offices in London.
– It is not proposed, as I said, to utilize the money in that way at all. This money is merely required to place the Government in a position to enter into negotiations should thenecessity arise. It might be found necessary, as it was on a previous occasion, to obtain a report from competent valuers. Whether it is a matter of renting offices or purchasing a site, the Government give an assurance that they will not commit the Commonwealth to a definite arrangement until the Senate has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill being passed through its remaining stage without delay.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, stating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in the Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.22 to 7.45 p.m.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 2732) on motion by Senator Sir Robert Best.
That the papers laid upon the table on the 13th August, relating to the Budget and the Estimates, be printed.
– When the debate on the Budget was adjourned on Friday last, I was contrasting the proposals mentioned in the Ministerial statement with the provision made in the Budget for carrying them out. I say that apparently the Government do not intend to make the necessary financial arrangements to give effect to the proposals they have made. I wish now to speak of the provision made for the payment of old-age pensions, and the methods adopted in the administration of the Act. To-day the Vice-President of the Executive Council gave an answer to a question put by Senator Pearce with respect to the’ extraordinary delay in. dealing with applications for pensions presented in Western Australia. Whilst I admit that the answer disclosed some progress, I would still ask honorable senators whether they can regard it as satisfactory ? We all appreciate the difficulties in the way, but the methods adopted by the Government for overcoming them cannot commend themselves to the Senate, or any other body of intelligent men. The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act came into operation on 1st July last. We are now in the month of September, and during the whole of the interval the officers charged with the administration of the Act in Western Australia have been able to deal with only 358 applications out of a total of nearly 1,700. It is difficult to imagine a more clumsy method of administration than that under which Commonwealth officials require all this time to deal with 350 applications for old-age pensions. In the answer given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council to-day we were invited to believe that the delay has arisen because of the peculiar circumstances surrounding Western Australian applications. It is said that because many of the applicants have resided at some time or another in Queensland, or in some of the other eastern States, delay in the settlement of their claims has been inevitable. But surely there should now be no difficulty in communicating with every branch of the public Departments throughout Australia in one day. The officials have the use of our telegraphic and telephonic systems. I understand that these services are fairly well equipped, and, if they are not, something should be done to bring them up to the requirements of the public. A great deal of dissatisfaction has arisen from the delay in dealing with applications in Western Australia, and the conclusions arrived at in connexion with some of them require to be reconsidered. I hope it is not the intention of the Government to attempt to save money from the provision set apart for the payment of old-age pensions by delaying their payment, or by reducing the amounts paid as pensions in certain cases. I am, however, disposed to think that there is something in the suggestion, and I might mention some particular cases in support of that view. I mentioned one or two cases the other day, and I intend now to mention the case of an old man who has been a sailor, and a ship’s captain. I do not blame the Government for what has been done in this case, but that some one is to blame there can be no doubt; and I wish the Government to find out who is responsible for the decision that has been arrived at, and to have the matter rectified at once. The man to whom I refer is seventy years of age, and has resided in Australia for most of that time. He is the owner of a boat and lives on the sea. His boat is his only home; he sleeps and has his food on it, ‘ and to insist that he should sleep ashore would be like sentencing him to twelve months in gaol. In answer to questions he admitted that the value of his boat is about £25, and I am informed that because he owns it and lives in the way I have described, the officials have decided to reduce his pension by about1s. 6d. per week. I feel sure that the Government will not consent to the adoption of measures of that kind with a view to saving money to enable them to give effect to proposals outlined in the Ministerial statement. Between 1,200 and 1,300 applications for old-age pensions have yet to be dealt with in Western Australia. If the Government have not a sufficient staff of officers employed to deal with them promptly, there are many men who might be employed for the purpose, and only those who are prepared to do what is fair to our old people should be so employed. If the work were carried out expeditiously as it ought to be, with the staff of officers at the disposal of the Government, the balance of the Western Australian applications should be dealt with during the next seven or eight days. I propose to refer briefly to another matter to which Senator Lynch addressed himself at some length. Honorable senators who represent Western Australia have noticed that there is no reference whatever in the Budget to a work which has occupied a great deal of the attention of the people of that State since the accomplishment of Federation. I refer to the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. It is true that a statement was made in another, place that a survey of the line has been made. But the Government have not explained how it is possible to utilize a railway survey for the conveyance of people and goods from one place to another. It would appear that the Government have enforced silence upon Sir John Forrest in regard to this matter.
– Surely not?
– I think so, when we remember that the right honorable gentleman has made the Western Australian railway a hobby during the whole of the time he has been a member of the Federal Parliament.
– Some honorable senators opposite were asking what the right honorable gentleman had ever done.
– I know that he has never done much, though he has said a great deal on the subject.
– The right honorable gentleman made Western Australia. Who gave Western Australia her water scheme?
– I can inform Senator Mulcahy that many of the old people about whom I have just been speaking, and who are required to go through prolonged examinations before they can draw the pension of10s. a week, to which they are entitled, have done much greater service in the making, not only of Western
Australia, but of other States in the Commonwealth, than have many of those who claim to be the makers of this country. That is a fact, and Senator Mulcahy knows it. The country makes the man much more frequently than the man makes the country. Eight years ago, I heard Sir John Forrest declare that he intended this railway should be constructed.
– Cannot the honorable senator credit him with having fairly attempted to secure its construction?
– I know that a survey of the route has been completed, and that the erstwhile loud-voiced champion of the railway - probably as the result of the recent Fusion - now maintains a stolid silence upon the question. Surely the Budget should at least have contained an intimation that the time is not far distant when the Commonwealth intended to make Federation a reality by linking Western Australia with the eastern States by means of this railway.
– Would not such an announcement have been premature, seeing that we are not yet in possession of the complete official report of the surveyors?
– A report has been printed and circulated, and long ere this has reached the honorable senator.
– I admit that.
– Is it not a favorable report? It is because of its favorable nature that we have heard nothing of it.
– I think that the honorable senator is doing an injustice to Sir John Forrest, who has done his best to secure the construction of this line.
– I am doing an injustice to nobody. I am merely mentioning a fact.
– Would the honorable senator have the line constructed out of loan money?
– I do not care how the money is obtained so long as the railway is built. The work is a necessary one, and until it has been carried out, the Federation will be incomplete. I would borrow money with which to build this line rather than borrow for a good many other purposes.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that the undertaking would pay ?
– I am not particularly concerned as to whether or not it would pay. In ayoung country like
Australia, I do not regard the construction of railways from a strictly commercial aspect. I maintain that a railway ought to be viewed from the same stand -point as an hotelkeeper views his elevator. He does not pause to consider whether the installation of an elevator will pay. He instals it for the convenience of his customers. Now, a ‘railway is simply a means of horizontal locomotion. Why should we not build this transcontinental line for the purpose of developing the country through which it will pass? However, I am not anxious to prolong this discussion. I wished to direct attention to the absence of any reference in the Budget to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. I also desired to say a few words on the question of old-age pensions; Having done both these things, I think that I have discharged my duty.
– I feel that Senator Henderson has scarcely done justice to himself. He condemned the Government for not having taken the preliminary steps to secure the construction ‘ of the transcontinental railway. But when he was asked where the necessary fund’s for the undertaking were to be obtained, he qualified his statement-
– I did nothing of the kind. I was asked whether I would borrow money for the purpose of building the line, and I replied that I did not care where the money, came from so long as the railway was- constructed.
– Exactly. Personally, I am prepared to sanction the construction of that line out of loan money. I have sufficient confidence in the project to believe that within a very short period of its completion, it would prove a remunerative undertaking, but above all else it would be a connecting link between Western Australia and the eastern States, which would make Federation a reality. I think that Senator Henderson has done a gross injustice to Sir John Forrest. The latter gentleman throughout his public career has done everything in his power to insure the construction of that line, and it is unfair to question his sincerity in the matter. It’ is easy to attack him for not having done that which it was impossible for him to do- in the time at his disposal since the survey of the line was completed. Ever since this session opened, honorable senators opposite have been accusing the Government of insincerity in regard to the public works which they have outlined. Yet they have done their utmost to prevent those works from being carried out without the Commonwealth resorting to a borrowing policy. I do not credit them with being in earnest in this connexion. No reasonable man can believe that we can construct the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, that we can take over and develop the Northern Territory, and build a Federal Capital, without resorting to a loan policy. I believe that this country can only he developed to its proper capacity by that means. I am not frightened by such a project.. As long as we can borrow at a fair rate of interest, and spend the money in the interests of the Commonwealth at large, it will be beneficial to the whole of the States to do so. I recognise that the States themselves have done their share in the development of this country.. They have spent immense sums of money. They would never have been the success they undoubtedly are at present except they had borrowed.. I believe that, as a people, we are the richest and the happiest on the face of the earth. We should never have attained to such a st/ite of prosperity had not the States boldlytackled the difficulties facing them by raising money. and this they have done, at fair rates of interest. Their policy in that respect has been abundantly justified, from a commercial point of view, by the investments1 they have made.
– Would the honorable senator borrow money to pay old-age pensions ?
– There is no necessity to do so. But if honorable senators tell me that they would not borrow moneyunless they could see ways of spending it that would be remunerative from a commercial point of view, I reply that by so doing they would set back the prosperity of this country for many years. I cannot understand how such views can be entertained by gentlemen who, I am sure, are as anxious as I am to promote the interest* of the Commonwealth. But, the shibboleth of “no borrowing” has been dinned into their ears ‘ to such an extent that they have ceased to reason on the subject. Yet if they had continued to hold the Government benches, they would have had to borrow money.
– Who have advocated no borrowing?
– I have heard members of the caucus party object, and have read in the newspapers which represent their views, time after time, objections to Commonwealth borrowing. They object to raising any money by that means except where they can say that the investment would pay at once. I wish to say a word or two as to defence, but I realize that until the return of the representative of the Government from England it would scarcely be prudent for me to advocate a large expenditure of money for this purpose. I trust, however, that the Government will seriously consider the immediate requirements of Australia from a military and naval point of view. Personally, I attach very great importance to the establishment of a school of education for military and naval officers. Such a school is absolutely necessary if we are to undertake seriously the responsibility of defending this country. There are large numbers of young men who would be only too pleased to devote their lives to the service of their country in a naval or military capacity if they could secure the means of education in some such training school as the West Point Academy of America, or the military colleges of England, Germany, or France. Almost every great military leader of distinction, from Napoleon down to Grant and Sherman - with the exception, perhaps, of Wellington - was educated at a military college. General Sherman, who was one of the ablest of American soldiers, once said he could scarcely imagine any country becoming a great military power that did not have its officers educated in a military establishment.
– Where did the Boer leaders get their education?
– There are exceptions to all rules. In Australia, we have many able officers commanding our troops-. Many of them have servedin the British Army. Those who have sons, and desire that they should follow in their footsteps, would be glad to have them educated at a military college if such an establishment were founded in this country. There are hundreds of families in Australia whose sons would willingly train themselves for service in the Military Forces if we afforded facilities. At the present moment our army is under-officered to the extent of at least 30 per cent ; and as for the navy, we have not a single institution in Australia at which a man could learn the simple A B C of the service. Is it sensible of us to spend large sums of money on military and naval defence while we take no steps to found educational establishments for the training of officers? I also desire to urge upon the Government that we ought to have established a repair- ‘ ing dockyard. This is one of the first necessities in connexion with defence. We ought to have the means by which any ship coming to Australia could be effectively and promptly repaired. I look upon the present time as one of the most serious in Australian history. When the news was flashed from England that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both considered that there was ground for uneasiness. I realized that, although our shores have been protected by the Mother Country for over a century, we must now set our house in order in view of the grave factors with which we are confronted. The reasons which actuate the Mother Country in enlarging her means of defence apply equally to Australia. When we recall what the Old Country has done in an Imperial sense; when we remember the blessings which she has brought to all civilized races under her sway ; when we recollect how the empires of old, instead of showering blessings upon the communities they conquered, acted as tyrants, and narrowed down every privilege ; when we recall what Spain, Italy, and other countries did in that regard, I think that the time has come when all Australians must acknowledge that it is their duty to make sacrifices, and probably severe sacrifices, if we desire to retain the privileges and advantages hitherto found under the British flag. I trust that our people will rise to the occasion. The Government should show that they also, as custodians of the interests of the public, are prepared to rise to the occasion and to do promptly whatever may be necessary to defend the interests of the British Empire.
– What about the offer of a Dreadnought to the Old Country ?
– That, I contend was one of the finest acts of any Australian leader:
– Are the Government going to build the Dreadnought?
– Every one I know, who has given deep consideration to the question, realizes that it was imperative that the Government! should offer a Dredd-
– When is it to be built?
– We are going to carry out the scheme which the Imperial authorities adopted in Conference between the representatives of the self-governing Dominions. We intend to spend a sufficient sum to insure the defence of the Mother Country and her Dependencies, and to stand by those who offered a Dreadnought to the Old Country, under the inspiration of the news which was suddenly cabled to Australia. On that occasion, we showed that we were prepared to do all that was necessary, in the opinion of-
– The editors of newspapers.
– I hope that the honorable senator will try to be fair, and admit that the news which was flashed to Australia was equally a surprise to the Prime Minister of England and the Leader of the Opposition in the British Parliament. At that time, there was no one who could coolly, and, if I may use the term, unselfishly define what we should or should not do. We understood that the power of England was being threatened. We learned that the supremacy of the Navy upon which the British people depended was challenged. We learned that a great military and naval power was working day and night to construct ships to wrest from England her control of the seas. When that news was cabled to us, we felt that it was our duty to give credence to the statements of the representatives of the people of the Old Country. We realized that such men as Mr. Balfour, cold-blooded and strong-headed, and Mr. Asquith, one of the ablest men in England, wouldnot have spoken as they did in the House of Commons unless they had felt that danger to the might of England was threatened.
– It was all a party trick.
– Does the honorable senator really think that the representatives of the English people would condescend to use their great influence and power merely to create a scare amongst English-speaking races ?
– The Tory party did that, and will do it again.
– I believe that there never was a greater insult offered to English people than for any one to suggest that their great parliamentary leaders would attempt to raise a public scare without good grounds.
– It was not the English people who raised the cry.
– Those men represented the English people in Parliament. Does the honorable senator think that if Mr. Fisher or Mr. Deakin were to suddenly cable to the British Government the news that Australia was in danger, British people would stop to consider whether it was wise to do this thing or that thing? No; they would rise as one people and say at once, “ We must act, and act “promptly, to prevent such a calamity from happening to a country like Australia, a country which, so far, has done little to defend herself, but which is prepared to do so when the necessity arises.” I hurl back with scorn the suggestion that the two great parliamentary leaders in England are so weak and so dominated by selfishness that they would give publicity to news simply for the purpose of achieving political gain.
– Can the honorable senator tell us in what part of Australia the people enthused over the alleged offer of a Dreadnought?
– I believe that the people in every part of Australia enthused. I did not enthuse in the sense of subscribing any money, or of immediately acceding to the proposal, because I believed that the Dreadnought should come as a gift from the whole people of the Commonwealth. But for any one to tell me that they did not respond to the views of the English people in what they then believed to be an hour of danger, is to tell me that we, in Australia, are not dominated by English sentiment.
– Tell us where they did enthuse.
-I believe that the factor which actuates our honorable friends opposite is a purely political one. I am pleased to think that there is very little of that factor animating the unionists themselves. In my opinion, the people of Australia are absolutely loyal. I believe that Mr. Fisher was loyal when he sent his message to the Old Country, but, in my judgment, he did not rise tothe occasion. Since that time he has had a very feeble following. He has received very little of that real encouragement which should be extended by the followers of a leader. Why ? Is the danger to-day any less than it was when the cable news was received? I do not think so.
– Why was not the Dreadnought built then?
– We are going to do more than that. Will not the great Indomitable, which we hope to see soon, be virtually a Dreadnought.
– But it is not being built.
– As Minister of Defence the honorable senator showed great capacity and earnestness. In my opinion, he was a good Minister as I have told him on several occasions.
– What about his loyalty ?
– I have been referring to the honorable senator’s followers, not to himself. With regard to the site for the Federal Capital. I hope that the compact which was entered into by the people of Australia with New South Wales will soon be carried out. I trust that the Government will shortly be in a position to submit a proposal to redeem the compact in the Constitution.
– What about the question of water supply?
– I believe that in the case of Canberra there will be a sufficient supply of pure water to meet the requirements of a population of 200,000. There is no probability of the capital of Australia containing so large a population during the next century. If honorable senators are really in earnest on this subject the question of water supply need not trouble them or their children, or their children’s children.
– The honorable senator has been speaking nearly an hour, and he has not mentioned the caucus once.
– I appeal to honorable senators if I did not mention the caucus. I am as strongly against it as ever I was, and I intend to fight it at the elections. 1 shall not mince matters then, because I believe that the’ caucus is the greatest curse to Australia. It is neither more nor less than a political autocracy. The caucus has no direct authority from the people. It stands between the people and their Parliament. Honorable senators opposite must obey the caucus, and are not directly responsible to the people as they ought to be, in accordance with the constitutional practice to which we have been accustomed for hundreds of years. I have said that . I shall be prepared to fight the caucus as vigorously as I can.
– I ask the honorable senator not to devote too much attention to the caucus. His remarks are now somewhat wide of the question before the Senate.
– I am sure, sir, that you will recognise that the remarks I have made concerning the caucus have really been in reply to a request, by the honorable senator now leading the Opposition, for an expression of opinion upon it. I trust that when we learn the course proposed to be followed by the Government, as a result of their representation at the Imperial Conference, we shall be in a position to assume some practical responsibility in connexion with naval and military affairs.
– When the present Government took office we were assured that at last we had a strong Government with a united and strong following of their own, in a position to really control the affairs of the country, and to assume responsibility for definite action without waiting for the permission of any other section in Parliament. We were led to believe that the Fusion Government would be strong enough to restore to the Commonwealth what is euphoniously referred to as “ responsible government.” We were invited to believe that they would propose no shilly shallying policy, but would devote their attention to putting the affairs of Australia on a footing so sound that it could not be questioned by anybody. We were told that it was necessary that a strong Government should be established at such an important juncture in our history, when the permanent financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States required to be determined. But what are the financial proposals of the Government? After being in labour for so long, this strong Government has given birth to an abortion - a miserable monstrosity. I am fully justified in stigmatizing in this way the financial proposals of this Fusion Government, which we were told would restore responsible government in Australia. For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth we are face to face with a deficit, and the Government calmly propose that to meet it we should pay a visit to Uncle Cohen and his pawn shop. Though other means of meeting the deficit might easily have been availed of, the Government ask us to authorize them to pay a visit to Uncle Cohen, and put the resources of” Australia. further “ up the spout.” We have had six borrowing authorities in Australia, and their accumulated indebtedness now amounts in round figures to £250,000,000. In view of the fact that the works on which this borrowed money has been expended do not return anything like the amount the taxpayers of Australia have to pay in interest, it is of no use for any one to say that the whole of the money borrowed by the States has been expended on reproductive works. It has not. Looking through the Budget figures, I find that not only do the Government make no provision for necessary expenditure beyond the proposed borrowing expedient, but that they propose to continue the starvation of Commonwealth services in a degree never before contemplated. Hitherto we have been told that defence is our greatest responsibility, but the present Government make no adequate provision for it. The late Labour Government, led by Mr. Fisher, proposed for new works and new services in connexion with the Defence Department an additional expenditure of £1,150,000 for the current financial year. The present Government propose a total increase of expenditure on the Defence Department of only £557,000. In addition to the increased expenditure of £1,150,000 which the Fisher Government proposed for new works and services in connexion with the Defence Department, they proposed an increased expenditure of some £300,000 to render the existing services more efficient, making a total increased expenditure of about £1,500,000. They proposed, as a matter of fact, to make some reasonable provision to meet the requirements of Australian defence. The present Government have some idea of spending an additional amount on naval defence, but we are unable to discuss the matter, because we are not acquainted with their proposals. I think that every one must admit that the proposed increase of £557,000 in defence expenditure would not be sufficient even to place the existing service upon a really effective footing. Of the total proposed increased expenditure of£557,000, £163,000 is for the new cadet scheme. I do not cavil at that, because I believe the money would be well spent in the way proposed. But if that amount be deducted from the total increase proposed very little is left for the main body of our Defence Force. While it is desirable, and even necessary, that our youth should undergo a course of physical training, and when they are more matured a course of military drill, we cannot rely upon a cadet force to sup- . ply our immediate needs in the matter of defence. I need not refer at greater length to the proposals of the present Government in connexion with defence, as Senator Pearce, who has given a great deal of attention to the question, has put the views of the party to which I belong wry fully before the Senate. I would, however, urge upon the Government the absolute necessity of placing the existing forces on an effective footing, and of providing a full reserve of arms and ammunition with which to arm the people of Australia in case of need. I deprecate strongly the adoption of any penurious policy in connexion with our national defence.
– The honorable senator did not contribute to the Dreadnought fund?
– I did not, because I did not approve of the hysterical outburst which led to the offer of a Dreadnought. I believe that any scheme of defence worthy of consideration should be well thought out, and consistent. It should not only make provision for the present, but should have regard to future requirements, and should keep steadily in view the gradual building up of an effective force. I could not approve of the hysterical proposal to offer a Dreadnought to Great Britain, an, offer which we know that the British Government have since refused.
– They have not refused it.
– That is just what they have done.
– The only effect of the offer was to embarrass the British Government.
- Senator Symon, who was in England at the time when the offer was made, said in his place in this chamber that, from his knowledge of the actual position of affairs, the Dreadnought scare was brought about in Great Britain merely for party political purposes.
– The honorable senator did not believe Senator Pulsford, when, on his return to Australia, he related what was said in England whilst he was there.
– When I find the statements made by an honorable senator are corroborated, as Senator Symon’s have been, by the news subsequently cabled from the Old Country, I am entitled to give credence to them. I will go further, and say that the whole question was raised in Australia purely for party purposes, and there was not an iota of patriotism or loyalty behind the offer.
– The voice of the people was first heard.
– The people did not speak on the matter at all.
– Might I inquire what has now become of all the talk about the offer of a Dreadnought? Where is the enthusiasm for it at the present moment? What provision have the Government made in the Budget to give effect to their offer? Not one farthing. I look in vain to the proposals of the Budget for any provision to finance the offer of a Dreadnought.
– If it were there, the honorable senator would vote against it?-
– Undoubtedly I should, because I did not approve of the offer; but I am stating a fact to show the” absolute insincerity of the Government in making it. I approve of Australia undertaking her own defence in a self-respecting way.
– The .honorable senator will yet have to answer for not approving the offer of a Dreadnought.
– I shall be quite prepared to do so, and if Senator Chataway proposes to answer all the questions which will be put to him by the electors, he will have quite enough to worry about. Everybody knows that a ‘ Dreadnought would cost £2,000’, 000:
– Will not an Indomitable cost £1, 800,000?
– When we have before us an official statement of the decisions arrived at bv the Imperial Defence Conference we -shall be able to discuss it. But in this Budget not a farthing is provided with which to meet the expenditure necessary to purchase a Dreadnought. That is one item of omission, and if we examine the Budget in detail we shall find many others. Everybody admits that the- Postal Department is in a considerable muddle, and that £1,500,000 will require to be expended to bring it into a good condition.
– It is about time that the honorable member’s Commission submitted their report.
– I have no Commission sitting.
– The Postal Commission was appointed at the instigation of the Labour party.
– It was appointed bv the Deakin Government. As a matter of fact the honorable senator knows that I do not approve of the appointment of so many Royal Commissions. I repeat that an expenditure of about £1,500,000 is necessary to place the Postal Department on a satisfactory basis, but the Government have not made’ provision for the expenditure of a single shilling in that connexion.
– Only for an expenditure of £700,000.
– The honorable senator cannot show me any provision in the Estimates for an additional expenditure upon the Postal Department.
– For an increase of £381.000, “Yes.”
– The ‘figures upon which the honorable senator relies relate merely to the ordinary expenditure of the year.. In their desire to place the Postal, Telegraphic, and Telephonic services upon a businesslike footing the late Government submitted a scheme which provided that there should be some relation between the amount paid by the users of those services and the value of the services which they received. That was an eminently businesslike proposition..
– What revenue would it have produced?
– Nobody can tell. But departmental officers estimated that it would result in ari increased revenue of £250,000.
– The present Government appointed another. Commission to engage in an actuarial investigation.
– Of course. It is the practice of all weak Governments to relieve themselves of’ responsibility by appointing Royal Commissions,
– Is that why the Postal Commission was appointed?
– The honorable senator had better ask his leader. It was the Government of which the present Prime Minister was the head which appointed that Commission. Probably the Minister of Trade and Customs can tell him why it was appointed. ‘ But no matter why it was appointed; there should be no going back when once the first step has been taken to institute a reform >n any Department. For years the officers of the Postal Department have been pointing out the iniquity of the system which is in vogue under which certain favoured individuals receive services which arc enormously in excess of those for which they pay. For instance, under the existing system, a man receiving a service which is worth £100 per year is called upon to pay no more than is the individual who is supplied with a service which is worth only £5 per year. To declare that every person shall pay for theservices rendered to him just in proportion to their value is an eminently sane proposition. We know that certain firms in this city do not pay the Department more than a tithe of the cost of the services which they receive.
– Is that statement true?
– Yes. One city firm only pays the Department £9 annually for its telephone service, notwithstanding that it costs the Department £38 a year to provide for actual attendance.
– That is an argument in favour of the subscription fee of the small man with a telephone service which costs him £2 or £3 per year being reduced to 15s.
– It is an argument in favour of persons being called upon to pay in proportion to the value of the services rendered to them. If that system were adopted, instead of having a deficit in this Department we should probably have a surplus, and in addition we should be able to extend telephonic facilities very considerably. My sympathies are entirely with the residents of our back country who are denied the advantages that are conferred by such facilities. But at the present time the more we extend the telephone service the more we lose upon it.
– The experts admit that they do not know anything about that aspect of the matter.
– The experts have repeatedly pointed out that the more the telephonic service is extended the more the Commonwealth loses upon it. If the Department were properly organized the more its services were extended the more we would be able to cheapen those services. But owing to existing conditions a great many persons are deprived of the conveniences which they ought to enjoy. ‘ The present Government desire to perpetuate this state of things.
– Why does the honorable senator say that?
– Because after the late Government had initiated the scheme to which I have alluded their successors abolished it. When Sir John Quick first assumed office he declared that the measured rate had come to stay. But the very next week he went back upon that statement. Why ? Because he was approached by the masters of the Fusion Government- the Employers Federation.
– They are an awfully bad lot.
– The honorable senator knows that I am merely stating a fact. Sir John Quick first declared that the measured rate had cometo stay, but a few days later - after he had been waited upon by influential persons who are loafing upon the community by receiving services in excess of those for which they pay - he went back upon his statement.
– -The measured rate is all right, but the fees which were proposed by the late Government would have been almost oppressive to the small users of the telephone.
– The small users would have been relieved of the excessive rates which they are now paying.
– They are not paying excessive rates.
– They are. Had the measured rate been brought into operation they would have obtained considerable relief.
– I am now paying less for my private telephone than I paid formerly.
– So am I.
– That may be so. Of course, I do not know whether the honorable senator is receiving a large or a small service, but under the scheme which was formulated by the Fisher Government the larger users of the telephone would have paid just in proportion to the amount of benefit they received, and to the work which the Department did for them. At present, however, the small man who uses the telephone to a trifling extent is called upon to pay just as much as is the large user. It is an absolutely iniquitous system, and I am astonished at a man like Senator Keating defending it.
– The small user pays less than he would have done under the proposals of the late Government.
– Hear, hear !
– He does nothing of the kind. Does the honorable senator mean to tell me that the measured rate would compel the small user to pay exactly the same as the man who uses largely?
– I do not say that at all. I say that the measured rate system is quite right, but the rates proposed by the late Government were most oppressive to the small user.
– That is an assertion which will not stand examination. The system advocated by the late Government would have considerably relieved the small user, and would have enabled the telephone system to be extended to a great many centres in Australia where no such convenience can at present be given.
– We should have lost 20 per cent, or 30 per cent, of our present subscribers.
– That is all humbug, and the honorable senator does not know what he is talking about. The facts are as I stated them, and it will be within the province of any honorable senator to get up afterwards and put a contrary view of the case if he can. I am content to allow the facts to speak for themselves. Even Senator Best cannot deny that we are losing a large amount of money on the telephone system at present. Is it a fair thing that the general taxpayers, who are mainly poor people, should contribute large sums of money to .make good the deficiency on a service which is used mainly by rich people? Because it is not the poor people who enjoy the telephone service most. If one goes through the residential parts of Melbourne and Sydney one sees that it is not the poor men’s houses that are connected by telephone.
– The poor man avails himself of the public telephone;
– He has to pay for it, whereas the rich man does not pay his share for the service he enjoys. He pays only a small proportion of the total ‘ cost to the country. He is simply loafing upon the general community in trying to get services for which he is not paying adequately.
– Surely the honorable senator does not think that?
– I am absolutely sure o.f it. Look at the row that was kicked up in Melbourne when the Fusion Government took office. The rich people thought that at last they had in office a Government which could be squeezed, and they made an immense noise about the telephone rates. They objected to being charged for services in accordance with value received. It is time that this Parliament made up its mind that the telephone service shall be placed upon a business-like footing. Every service rendered to every individual should be paid for according to its full value, and the general taxpayer should not be called upon to make good any deficiency. I do not want to see any profit made out of the post and telephone services ; but the Department should be put on such a footing that it will pay its way, and we should be able to extend such conveniences to a much greater extent. Under the present system that can never be done. Even admitting the figures of the Minister of Trade and Customs, there is at least a shortage of . £ 1,000, 000 which ought to be made up this year on the telephone service, in order to put it on a business footing. If we add that to the £2,000,000 for the Dreadnought, we have £3,000,000 for which this Government has made no provision.
– We have any quantity of buildings for which we have paid out of revenue.
– While there may be some excuse for money being borrowed for a business that is being entered upon for the first time, I do not think that there is any reasonable excuse for a country that has been in business as long as Australia has, and which is in a position to pay, going to the money-lender to borrow money for the services that it requires.
– What are 100 years in the life of a nation?
– Some nations live long, and others are comparatively shortlived ; but whether our life as a nation be long or short, it is the duty of Australia to make herself as independent, as selfsupporting, and as self-respecting as possible. We have borrowed too much already. We have spent borrowed money on ephemeral works. We have not paid back a shilling, although the buildings are all .gone. We have borrowed to put up telephone and telegraph poles. The poles have been eaten by white ants, and we still owe the money. Do honorable senators approve of that system?
– It is perfectly right to pay for replacements out of revenue.
-But theStates Have not acted on that principle. Many of them have made no provision for sinking funds.
– That does not affect the principle of borrowing.
– The honorable senator is supporting a Government that proposes to borrow £1,200,000 this year.
– And pay off the debt in threeyears.
– Still, that is borrowing. I should be glad if the honorable senator would lend me £500 or £600 to be paid back in three years.
– I thought the honorable senator did not believe in borrowing?
-I do not.
– Yet, he would borrow.
– An individual might be in the happy position of being able to repudiate; but the Commonwealth would not.
– That would not be a “ happy position.”
– The Commonwealth Parliament has also made humanitarian provision for paying old-age pensions. Everybody approves of that legislation, or professes to do so. But there is no justification for posing as being sympathetic to persons who are permanently incapacitated unless we are prepared to put our hands in our pockets and pay the cost of the system. What provision has this Government made for invalid pensions? ‘ Not a single farthing. It is estimated that such pensions would, from the start, cost about £250,000 a year. The Government has ignored that obligation. Furthermore, although honorable senators opposite profess themselves to be in favour of old-age pensions, they ignore the fact that the party to which I belong had to drive them into that belief. We were denounced for years because we advocated old age pensions.
– The honorable senator’s party drove the Commonwealth Government for seven years.
– The gentlemen whom we drove were entrenched in such an impregnable fortress of ignorance and prejudice, that it is a wonder we were able to effect our purpose in seven years.
– Assertion is not argument.
– I am stating facts which are within everybody’s knowledge. I regret that no provision for such a beneficent and philanthropic object as invalid pensions has not been provided by the Government. I do not believe that this Parliament would have refused the money, and it is regrettable that the Government’ had not the courage to assume the responsibility. The Government are submitting to Parliament proposals for taking over the Northern Territory ; they have not made a single penny of provision for that purpose.
– I think we had better let South Australia keep the Territory.
– South Australia has offered the Territory to the Commonwealth on certain conditions, and the Government propose to accept it on those conditions. I want to know, from the representative of the Government in the Senate, what it is proposed to do with the Territory when we take it over ? Not a single farthing is provided on the Estimates for the purpose.
– Parliament has not agreed to take it yet; and the honorable senator would not agree to the proposal on South Australia’s terms.
– I am anxious that the Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth. My idea is that the Commonwealth should take over with it every shilling of debt, profitable or unprofitable, which is properly attachable to the Territory. We should assume responsibility for every farthing of expenditure in that country.
– Is that as far as the honorable senator will go?
– That is as far as I shall go. In agreeing to so much, I think that this Parliament will be doing everything that can reasonably be expected of it. I also believe that if the Territory is taken over, the Commonwealth should be absolutely unhampered in its plans for developing the country.
– Would the honorable senator take over the Territory on the agreement that has been prepared ?
– The honorable senator will not be in order in debating the terms of the agreement now.
– I do not propose to do so. I contend that the Commonwealth on assuming responsibility for all the debt on account of the Territory, should be left absolutely unhampered in its plans for future development, just as every State was left unhampered with respect to the development of its land when selfgovernment was granted. If we are hampered, we shall not have proper control. Again, the Government have provided only £5,000 for the settlement of the Federal Capital site question.
-i do not think that that is too much.
– It is not nearly enough. If the Government had asked for £100,000, that would not have been too much if they really meant business. I do not profess to be in the secrets of the Government, and do not know whether they are in earnest or not ; butI have strong reasons for believing that a few members of the present Cabinet would like the matter to be shelved for another ten years ; and 1 believe that 1 am looking hard at one of those Ministers when I say so.
– The honorable senator is not in order in imputing motives.
– The honorable gentleman can deny it if he likes.
– I deny it.
– I was not either looking at or attaching any importance to the honorable senator; I am not likelyto make a mistake of that sort. Again, we have practically passed legislation empowering the Commonwealth to take over lighthouses, lights,and beacons, but no proper provision is made in the Estimates for that purpose.
– What provision would the honorable senator suggest ?
– It is not my business to make a suggestion. When I receive a salary for looking after the business of the Commonwealth it will be time enough for me to do the work.
– May I tell my honorable friend that the most ample provision is made.
– No provision is made in the Budget.
– Yes, there is an item of £100.
– When we were discussing the Lighthouses Bill a day or two ago, the Minister stated that in various parts of Australia a good many lighthouses were required. Will he tell me now that adequate provision is made for supplying them ? No, he cannot do so, because he knows that it would not be a fact. Therefore, I am quite justified in stating that no adequate provision is made for dealing with this important matter, either. The appointment of a High Commissioner will, I believe, cause another shortage of £10,000, because, although it is provided in a Bill before an other place that the position is to carry a salary of £3,000 with a provision of £2,000 for a residence, yet no provision has been made to maintain a High Commissioner in London if one is appointed. I do not think that we can reasonably expect to have a High Commissioner’s office fully equipped and carried cut efficiently at less than £1 0,000 a year. Will the representative of the Government point out to me where in the Estimates adequate provision is made for that purpose.
– It is not necessary.
– Of course, nothing is necessary for the improvident spendthrift who is continuallywanting to go to the pawn office. The Government think that a visit to that place will get them out of every difficulty.
– It is when things are necessary that men go to the pawn office.
– The Government do not think it necessary to provide any money when they can always run to their “ uncle.” But that is not the way in which I want to see the affairs of the Commonwealth conducted. The institution of an Agricultural Bureau is also proposed, but that is not provided for in the Estimates. If the Government are sincere and earnest in all these propositions, why do they not make the necessary provision ? Are all these services to be carried out for nothing? What is the use of the Government saying that they are desirous of passing legislation in favour of this, that, and the other, if they do not make proper -provision for carrying out their desire? There are at least 100 other items of omission which I could point out if I had time, but I do not wish to delay the Senate unnecessarily by referring to all of them in detail. I should say that, instead of a shortage of £1,200,000 which the Government admit, the shortage would approach £5,000,000 if all the services I hare named were adequately provided for. There is no such provision made. Yet in spite of that fact the Government propose that in order to make good the services ofthe year we should borrow £1, 200,000. I need hardly say that a proposition of that sort does not meet with myapproval. In fact itwillreceivemy strongest opposition, because I believe that there is no necessity for a young country to resort to borrowing. We are enjoying a period of prosperity which is perhaps unexampled in our history, and the outlook for the future is fairly prosperous. At this juncture especially there is no possible excuse for the Government going to the pawn office for £1,200,000 to cover current expenditure.
– What should we do?
– We should raise the money, the same as any other selfrespecting Government would do.
– In what way- by taxation ?
– If the honorable senator desires to know the way, may I tell him that the financial proposals of the Fisher Government had my full approval.
– But those proposals would not have yielded sufficient revenue to cover the expenditure.
– The revenue would have just covered the expenditure.
– That would have amounted to only £500,000.
– The honorable senator is only out by about £4,500,000, because he stated just now that it was necessary to raise £5,000,000.
– If the Government were sincere in all their professions in regard to the services they want to institute - and I have enumerated some of the sums involved - the deficiency in their revenue would be nearly that much instead of £1,200,000. In my estimate of £5,000,000 I include £2,000,000 for a Dreadnought, and at least £1,000,000 to put the postal, telegraphic and telephonic services in a state of efficiency. That, I think, the honorable gentleman will have to admit is necessary. These two items, to start with, total £3,000,000. There are innumerable other things which I have referred to, and which will cost a great deal. The payment of invalid pensions will require from £250,000to £300,000. If the Government were sincere when the Bill was passed, surely they intended to give effect to its provisions.
– The honorable senator proposed to get the lot out of land tax, which would have yielded only half a million.
– I think it is not possible for any one to estimate how much a land tax would yield. At any rate, it would be a much more self-respecting way to meet current expenditure by taxation than by a visit to the pawn office.
– It is not a case of self-respect, but a case of economy.
– It is not a case of economy, but a case of meeting current expenditure. It appears that honorable senators opposite always want, instead of bearing their own burdens in a selfrespecting way, to pass them on to futurity.
– I suppose that the honorable senator, like a great many of us, built his house through a building society.
– That is a very good way of building a house, and it is the best thing that a working man can do.
– Nobody pays a visit to a building society, or looks for accommodation from a bank, unless he has not the means to act otherwise, and he would be a great fool if he did. I contend that we have ample means to meet our current expenditure without running to the pawn office.
– By pawning our properties ?
– It is the Government who want us to pawn our properties for the purpose. The late Deakin Government and the late Fisher Government, between them, made a provision of about £650,000 for the payment of old-age pensions, so that the total receipts for this year will be supplemented by that amount. Although £650,000 is brought forward from the previous year, yet the Government coolly propose to borrow £1,200,000 in order to cover the year’s expenditure. What sort of a position shall we be in by-and-by if we start in that way? This country is well able to bear all the taxation required in order to meet the current expenditure, and it would be infinitely more selfrespecting and statesmanlike to levy additional taxation than to borrow. The latter is a Micawber-like policy, which will not meet with the approval or respect of anybody. There is not a single farthing set down on the Estimates for the development of the Northern Territory; but as we are told that the agreement for its transfer to the Commonwealth is not likely to be accepted - I do not know whether the authority is good or not - probably it does not matter.
– The honorable senawill not accept it.
– Not upon the terms on which we are asked to accept its transfer. At any rate, I assume that in the future it will be acquired by the Common- wealth on some terms which may be arranged; but we have no information from the Government as to how the transfer should be financed, or as to what provision will be made for developing the Territory. It is also coolly proposed that the Commonwealth should undertake the building of two transcontinental railways, one from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and the other from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. No provision - not even, a reference - is made in the Budget to meet any of these future requirements, so that we do not know the ideas of the Government in respect of them. I believe that we shall have to meet very much larger requirements in the future in connexion with obligations which already exist. Old-age pensions, and probably invalid pensions, will require a great deal more money. Yet we look in vain to the Government for either light or leading on these very important matters. I listened with a great deal of pleasure to Senator Gray’s eloquent denunciation of the caucus. Yet I believe that he approves of the secret caucus of Premiers which met lately in order to settle the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator knows that that was no caucus. It suits him to make that statement.
– Will the honorable senator tell me what it was?
– It was a Conference of six Premiers.
– It was a caucus_ of six Premiers, together with the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and a colleague, to discuss in secret matters which the people of Australia never authorized them to discuss or settle. It was an antinational caucus, and a secret caucus at that.
– Did the people give any instructions that the Premiers were not to hold a Conference?
– No, they received no authority either one way or the other from the people of Australia. The mem.bers of each House of this Parliament were elected to deal with national affairs, and the members of the State Parliaments to look after the affairs of the States.
– That is absolutely what the Premiers were doing.
– No, they were interfering in a matter as to which they had no authority, and they did so in a secret caucus. We were told by the newspapers that instructions were given that even the blotting pads should be destroyed each night so that there should be no record of the proceedings.
– That was only Senator Stewart’s imagination.
– No, that statement appeared in the morning newspapers of Melbourne which are generally credited with having fairly accurate information. Whether it was accurate or not I do not know, and to tell the honest truth I do not care very much. We know as a matter of fact that the caucus of Premiers was held in secret, and that no information has been allowed to leak out.
– What they decided has been circulated in print.
– We do not know what views a single member of the caucus expressed or what arguments were brought forward. They arrived at a certain resolution which the Government have chucked upon the table of the Senate and asked it to swallow. I do not intend to swallow anything of the kind. I desire to point out why I think the Parliament would not be wise in adopting the suggestion of the ‘Conference, because, although some of the Premiers have openly boasted that they have settled the matter, I insist upon treating their resolution as a mere suggestion. That is all that it is, and that is how it should be regarded by this Parliament. In plain language, the whole result of that secret caucus of Premiers has been that they now ask the Commonwealth Parliament to agree to an amendment of the Constitution which will insure to the States a return of 25s. per head of their population for all time from the Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth. I shall not discuss the merits or demerits of the proposal, except in regard to the suggestion that the payment should be continued in perpetuity.
– No; that the agreement should be embodied in the Constitution.
– And the Constitution can be altered at any time.
– Honorable senators know that it is a very difficult matter to alter the Constitution. If a vote of the majority of the electors were all that was required to secure an alteration of the. Constitution, my objection to the proposal would be very much minimized. Honorable senators know that there must be a majority vote, not only of the electors, but of the States, to carry a proposed alteration of the Constitution ; and if the agreement were embodied in the Constitution, three of the smallest of the States, with about one-sixth of the total population of the Commonwealth, could prevent any revision of it.
– And they can prevent its embodiment in the Constitution now.
– Of course, they can ; but it is the impecunious States like Tasmania, with a paltry population of about 185,000, that are most eager to secure the proposed contribution to their revenues.
– Might I ask whether it was not proposed that the scheme agreed to by the Brisbane Labour Conference should be embodied in the Constitution also?
– No; there was nothing said at the Brisbane Labour Conference about embodying in the Constitution the scheme considered there.
– Was that not the intention ?
– We hear a great deal about what was done at, and intended by, the Brisbane Conference referred to. What was done at that Conference is to be read from the report of its proceedings. We are not concerned with what was contemplated or intended, and Senator St. Ledger, as a lawyer, should know that a written document is what, on the face of it, it appears to be. What does this resolution of the secret caucus of Premiers mean when it is boiled down? It means that they desire to hobble the Commonwealth for all time, and to compel it to abrogate its authority. They desire the Federal Parliament to agree to return to the States 25s. per head of their population for all time. While such a proposal might or might not be equitable, as a temporary solution of the financial difficulty-
– I suppose the honorable senator is afraid that it might drive the State Governments into imposing a land tax?
– I am not afraid of anything of the kind. Senator Best is much more afraid of a land tax than I am. I premise that it is absolutely demoralizing that one authority should be responsible for raising money which another authority may spend without responsibility.
– I suppose the honorable senator is aware that Mr. McGowen and Mr. Holman, of. the New South Wales Labour party, approve of the agreement?
– I am not concerned in the slightest degree with what they think of it. Senator Gray is continually denouncing the caucus. He says that we are hobbled, and bound, and driven by the system, but he now wishes me to be bound by the belief of two gentlemen in New South Wales.
– They are leaders of the Labour party there.
– They are not my leaders. They are entitled to express their individual opinions just as I am entitled to express mine.
– They never expressed an opinion in favour of amending the Constitution in the way proposed.
– I do not know what they have said, but what they have said or left unsaid does not influence me in the slightest degree. I say that I consider it absolutely demoralizing that one authority should be responsible for raising money, whilst another should have the spending of it without responsibility. Honorable senators opposite must agree that such a state of affairs can only lead to extravagance and recklessness in government. How can they suggest that the Commonwealth should be responsible for raising 25s. per head of the population for all time in order that the State Governments may have the pleasure of spending that revenue? If the present Commonwealth Tariff is to have the effect which Senator Best and others of us who believe in a Protectionist policy expect that it will have, our revenue from Customs and Excise must decrease rather than increase.
– That is not the American experience.
– That is according to the American experience. It is anticipated that our revenue from Customs and Excise during the current financial year will amount in round figures to £10,800,000. If the Tariff continues to have the effect which we may. reasonably anticipate in view of its Protective character, a large proportion of the goods on which duty is now paid will be manufactured in future in Australia, and will pay no duty, and as a consequence our revenue under the Tariff must decrease.
– Does not the honorable senator realize that our population will increase ?
– Of course, I do; but I do not believe that the increased consumption of dutiable goods due to the in- crease in our population will balance the reduction of our revenue through the Customs owing to the tendency I have referred to.
– Besides, the proposed payment to the States is to be per capita.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator knows that the remedy would be direct taxation.
– Of course; but I say that it is the people who require the revenue who ought to impose the taxation. “Unless the Premiers of the States desire that the bulk of the revenue received in Australia shall be due to indirect taxation for all time, they need not have proposed such an agreement at all, because, with the exception ofCustoms and Excise taxation, the whole field of taxation is open to them.
– It is also open to us.
– But why should we raise money to meet our own requirements, and, in addition, raise money for other people? Is there any reason, good, bad, or indifferent, why we should do that?
– Does the honorable senator believe that the States would have agreed to join in the Federation if they knew they would lose the whole of the revenue from Customs and Excise?
– That is quite beside the question. No one is asking the State Governments to give up the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. If the State Premiers did not desire that the poor people of Australia should bear the burden of indirect taxation for all time, there is no reason why they should demand the return of any particular amount of Customs and Excise revenue. I have said that, with the exception of the resort to Customs and Excise, the whole field of taxation is open to them. But it is evident that their desire is to saddle the general taxpayers, who are the poor people of Australia, with an unconscionable burden of indirect taxation for all time. I do not approve of that. I do not think that the poor people of Australia should be saddled with any such burden to please the Premiers of the States. I have said that the revenue from the operation of our Tariff is more likely to decrease than to increase and I think that the experience of other Protectionist countriesproves that. I find, on looking through the figures that it is anticipated that we shall receive a revenue from Customs and Excise during the current financial year equal to £2 6s.10d. per head of our population. Let us consider the revenue derived from Customs and Excise in other countries possessing a protective Tariff. As a Protectionist, I sincerely hope that we shall always have a really effective protective Tariff in operation in Australia. If our Tariff is to have the effect which protective Tariffs have had in other countries, we cannot hope to continue to receive as large a revenue per head of our population from Customs and Excise as we are now receiving. In the United States of America, where the Tariff in force is more highly protective than ours, the total revenue received from Customs and Excise amounts to £1 9s. per head of the population.
– For over 80,000,000 people?
– Yes, for a population of over 80,000,000. In Canada, with a population approximating to our own, and with a decidedly Protectionist Tariff in operation, the total revenue from Customs and Excise amounts to £1 19s. 2d. per head. In the United Kingdom, with a so-called Free Trade policy, but with what is a purely revenue tariff, the revenue derived from Customs and Excise amounts to £1 9s. 8d. per head of the population. In Germany, with a distinctly Protectionist Tariff, the revenue from Customs and Excise amounts to16s. per head of the population. Yet, in the face of these facts, it is actually proposed in Australia that the Commonwealth, in addition to providing for its own requirements, should pay £1 5s. per head of their population to the States in perpetuity. It is an absolutely monstrous proposal. Let us examine it from another point of view. The Premier of New South Wales says that that State is going to be robbed, that she is asked to make enormous sacrifices under the agreement.
– With the exception of the United States the countries to which the honorable senator has referred are all unified.
– Is not the United States unified ?
– I thought that the very name predicated that the United States was a unified country.
– It is a Federation, not a unification.
– Is not Canada a Federation ?
– It is, very largely.
– Does not the condition of affairs in the United States and Canada closely approximate to the condition of affairs in Australia? Is not Germany a Federation? Does the honorable senator know anything at all about history, or about the condition of other countries? Though all these countries are, in a certain sense, unified, just as Australia is unified, in a certain sense also, with the exception of the United Kingdom, they are Federations very much approximating to our own. I was about to say that it is a remarkable thing that Premier Wade of New South Wales should complain of the enormous sacrifices which his State is called upon to make under the agreement.
– Hear, hear !
– Senator Gray cheers that statement. Is it not an astonishing fact that in the State which is to be called upon to make these enormous sacrifices, the total amount of revenue raised from Customs and Excise in the year immediately preceding the accomplishment of Federation, was only £i 5s. 7d. per head nf the population? Out of that revenue, the State Government had to bear the enormous cost of the services which have since been taken over by the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator forgets that New South Wales bad a large revenue from land as well.
– It does not matter what other revenue the State Government had ; the fact remains that the total revenue from Customs and Excise in New South Wales, in the year immediately preceding Federation, amounted to only £1 5s. 7d. per head of the population. Now, although that State has been relieved of the enormous expenditure necessary for the upkeep of the services since transferred to the Commonwealth, we are invited to believe that it is consenting to a sacrifice in agreeing to a contribution of £1 5s. per hoad from the Commonwealth.
– We have imposed increased expenditure on the people.
– We have not done anything of the kind.
– Ask the working men what they had to pay before Federation and what they have to pay now.
– The honorable senator is riding his Free Trade hobby-horse to death. We have not imposed any additional burden upon the working classes. I maintain that the effect of a protective
Tariff is to cheapen the cost of goods, not to make them dearer. Immediately prior to the accomplishment of Federation, New South Wales was receiving in Customs and Excise revenue £1 5s. 7d. per head of her population. We have relieved that State of the cost of collecting that Customs and Excise revenue, which in itself represents a considerable sum. We have also relieved the States of their expenditure upon defence and upon old-age pensions. We have relieved them of all worry in connexion with the Postal Department, and yet they wish us to return to them more money per head of population than they were receiving through Customs and Excise revenue prior to Federation. My authority for that statement is Coghlan’ s Seven Colonies for the year 1899-1900, page 774.
– That is said. to be a Free Trade publication.
– Yet we are told that under the agreement arrived at by the Premiers’ Conference, New South Wales will be called upon to make an enormous sacrifice.’ It is a monstrous proposition under the guise of which an attempt is being made to saddle the people of Australia with a heavy indebtedness for all time. According to Coghlan the average return from Customs and Excise throughout Australia during the year immediately prior to Federation was £2 is. per head. I believe that that sum represents quite as much as our people should be called upon to bear in the form of indirect taxation. Under similar circumstances, therefore, we should have only 16s. per head with which to carry on the services of the Commonwealth - an amount that would not be nearly sufficient. To carry on those services we should be obliged to resort to other methods of taxation. But unless the Premiers of the States desire to fasten this undue burden upon the backs of the poor for all time there is no reason why we should return to the States any fixed sum whatever. For my part I shall never consent to any such proposal.
– Is not the honorable senator forgetting that the States have to meet the interest upon their debts ?
– And upon the transferred properties.
– How are we to meet our obligations unless the Government propose in accordance with the desire of the State Premiers to double the taxation upon the backs of the poor? I believe that the amount of _ indirect taxation to which our people are subjected should more nearly approximate that of other countries. Why should they be singled out for undue burdens in this connexion ? A protective Tariff does not imply that we shall have a large Customs and Excise revenue. Its onlyuse is to foster existing native industries, and to assist in the creation of new ones. What will the agreement of the Premiers’ Conference mean if effect be given to it? It will mean that when we have a population of 10,000,000 we shall be required to hand back to the States £z, 500,000 per annum. But as we shall need fully 25s. per head to meet our own requirements it is obvious that we shall have to raise no less a sum than ^25,000,000. Such a proposition is a monstrous one.
– Does not the honorable senator assume that, if our population increases to 10,000,000, our Customs and Excise revenue will increase?
– As I have ahead; pointed out, under “ the agreement which has been arrived at at the Premiers’ Conference, instead of collecting ^10,800,000 from our Tariff we shall require to raise £25, 000,000. Why should our people be asked to bear a burden of £2 ros. per head in indirect taxation?
– In order to give a lot of foreigners 25s. per head?
– I say that the people ot Australia ought not to be called upon to bear an undue burden of indirect taxation in order that we may be enabled to return to anybody 25s. per head. The whole object underlying the agreement is a desire to relieve the’ wealthy classes of their proper share of taxation and to make the poorer sections of the community shoulder the burden for all time. As a poor man, I say that it would not matter to me whether I had to pay this money to a foreigner or to a wealthy loafer who sat alongside me. Only a few minutes ago Senator St. Ledger asked why 25s. per head should not be returned to the States, seeing that they have to pay interest upon their indebtedness.’ But I would point out to him that the money representing their indebtedness was avowedly spent on reproductive public works.
– But they will require to spend more money upon similar works.
– Then, those works will provide the interest upon the capital outlay.
– Not from the very my C on’ which they are built.
– Money spent on the construction of railways, bridges, and buildings and in advances to local authorities always have the effect of enormously enhancing the value of private property in the. vicinity. Is it the province of the poor wage earner to provide the interest upon such expenditure?
– What about the honorable senator’s statement that a protective Tariff has the effect of cheapening production ?
– I say that a protective Tariff ultimately has the effect of cheapening the cost of’ goods, and that it will not return a large revenue. That statement is incontrovertible. It necessarily follows that the amount of Customs and Excise revenue, collected by the Commonwealth, will continually decrease. But no allowance whatever has been made for that circumstance in the agreement which has been arrived at between the Prime Minister and the State Premiers. We are constantly being told that the great need of Australia is population. But if we are to encourage population we ought not to tax the poor unfortunate baby the moment it is born-. Every infant born in the country has to bear a burden of indirect taxation through Customs and Excise. We have an enormous number of wealthy people in Australia who should be compelled to pay their share. We find that the added value given to property every year, by the expenditure of public money, amounts to at least ,£20,000,000. The rich pocket that value, which’ is produced by public effort and by society generally. Now, it is coolly proposed to make the poor people pay interest on those enormous values. I do not propose to’ agree to any such proposal. I do not criticise the scheme of the Government as a five years’ 01 a ten years’ project to get over a temporary difficulty. I object to saddling such a burden upon the people in perpetuity. I believe that this Parliament should have ample opportunities to conduct its affairs in the future in a ‘free vav. The Constitution as it now stands, intrusts the Parliament of the Commonwealth with full power to make its own arrangements in the light of ten years’ experience. The proposal to which we are now asked to accede, means that this Parliament must give up that right, and not >niv s so. but that it shall tie the hands of all future Parliaments. I do not intend, as far as my vote goes, to agree to anything of the kind. In my opinion, future Parliaments should be left free to govern Australia, and to raise taxation according to their wisdom, having regard to the needs of the country for the time being. Believing also that the arrangement that has been made is simply with the object of saddling a burden of taxation on the poor people for all time, and allowing the wealthy to escape their just obligation, I regard that as an additional reason for opposing an amendment of the Constitution such as has been suggested. Whatever arrangement may be made to tide over a certain number of years, I certainly will be no party to tie the hands of this Parliament for all time.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn. Senator WALKER (New South Wales) [10.17]. - Would it not be the wish of honorable senators that the Senate should adjourn until half -past three o’clock tomorrow, instead of until half -past two? There are good reasons for so doing in connexion with functions at the Agricultural Show.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090901_senate_3_51/>.