3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Before the third reading of any Bill by which an ‘ alteration ‘ of the Constitution is proposed there shall be a call of the Senate.
Chapter xxi. contains the Standing Orders dealing with a call of the Senate. It is obvious from them that there can only be one call on one day. I mean that a call cannot be taken at every hour of the day, or with regard to any particular measure. Standing order 271, which was suspendedas regards the interval of twenty-one days, reads -
An order for a call of the Senate shall be made for any day not earlier than twenty-one days from the day on which such order shall have been made.
Standing order 273 reads-
The order for calling over the Senate on 1 futureday shall be set down as the first Order of the Day for the day so appointed.
There cannot be two first Orders of the Day. There can onlybe one call on one day, and that, necessarily, is fixed for a time when all senators are notified that it is desirable that they should be in attendance. That is the first Order of the Day. Of course, there might be twenty. Bills to amend the Constitution, but there can be only one call of the Senate for the day on which the third reading is to take place. The next rule shows that also -
The names of all senators who do not answer when called shall be token down by the Clerk, and subsequently called over a second time, when those who answer, or afterwards attend in their places on the same day, are ordinarily excused.
If, when the first Order of the Day is read, all senators do not answer to their names, they are given what is sometimes called locus penitentiae, and enabled, if they attend later, to answer to their names. I think that the orders for a call of the Senate were made a little improvidently there, because a call is not for the purpose of considering a measure at any stage, but simply for the purpose of insuring the attendance of senators before a certain stage of a Bill is reached. What I ask you, sir, to do is to say whether the true interpretation of the rules is that there can be only one call of the Senate on a particular day ? If there could be two independent calls on the same day, but at different hours, we should get into a state of very great confusion.
– The honorable senator has correctly read the Standing Orders. But it does not appear to me that we are limited to taking only one Bill, or two or three Bills, on the day when a call is made. Once a call of the Senate has been made, it will be quite competent to take the business which it is necessary to have submitted’ then. But, in this instance, I believe it was felt desirable that honorable senators should be made fully acquainted with the measures which would be brought forward for consideration after the call had been made. Although it may appear irregular to make provision on the notice-paper for two calls of the Senate, still only one call will be made, and after the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill has been dealt with, the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill can be taken. T do not think that any difficulty will arise with regard to the conduct of business. It became necessary to make the order for the second call as the first one was made for a specific purpose. It was thought that, for the sake of more abundant caution, it would be better to make the second call, so that no question could be raised hereafter as to the position of the two measures. It was found necessary last evening to suspend part of standing order 273, but previously it had been determined that a call should be made.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs, in accordance with his promise of 10th November, made any representations to his colleague with a view to raising the wages of the long-ser vice female employes in the Stamps Branch, and, if so, with what result?
– In accordance with my promise to the Senate, on the following day I brought the matter specially under the notice of the Treasury officials, who informed me that they had already requested ‘ the Public Service Commissioner to make a report. Yesterday I made inquiries about the report, and learned that it should be ready in the course of a day or two, certainly before the Estimates are discussed: My honorable friend is, I think, aware that of late the Commissioner has had his hands very full. That may, to some extent, account for the report not being to hand.
– Will the honorable senator endeavour to furnish the required information during the present week?
– I have already assured my honorable friend that I will endeavour to do so.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council ask the Government to try to expedite the settlement of old-age pensions claims in South Australia? Of 6,098 claims which Have been made, 4,225 have been granted, 436 have been rejected, and no fewer than 1,437 are still under consideration, being twice as many as in any other State. I want the Government to look into the matter, and ascertain why the claims have not been settled quickly.
– I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator under the notice of the Treasurer.
asked the Vice-Presi-. dent of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the receipt of relief to persons on the funds of the Watson Miners’ Sustentation Fund of Bendigo, or other similar organizations, militate against the payment of an old-age pension to such recipients, or cause any reduction in the same?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Payments under this fund are made to members of the association not able to work 00 account of sickness.
Such payments are already exempted from “Income” under the Invalid and Old-age Pen. sions Act, section 4-
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following paper -
Public Service Act 1902. - Documents in connexion with the promotion of W. A. Maguire to the position of Clerk, 4th class, Public Service Commissioner’s Office.
– Assistant laid on the table-
Return to Order of the Senate of 18th November, 1909 -
Commonwealth Public Service. - Proposed Pension or Superannuation Fund : Papers in connexion with.
– I desire to ask a question of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice. In view of the fact that the Seat of Government Bill has passed both Houses cf the Federal Parliament, will the Government be prepared, before the session closes, to make a statement with regard to the steps which they propose to take for carrying into effect the purposes of the measure ?
– I remind my honorable friend that it is yet necessary for New South Wales formally to cede the territory. . I think it unlikely that, until that has been done, the Federal Government will be prepared to make any further statement.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– That Order of the Day has been postponed until next week.
– What is the effect of the postponement?
– The matte> having been postponed, the Senate will deal with it when it comes on again.
– That is unsatisfactory.
– Why does not the honorable senator keep his ears open?
– Why does not the honorable senator keep his mouth shut?
– I must request honorable senators not to persist in such remarks.
– I ask, with great respect, that Senator Needham shall be restrained from this needless offensiveness.
– I have on several occasions requested honorable senators not’ to make interjections across the chamber. They do no good, and tend to create an unpleasant state of affairs. »
– The next business on the notice-paper being the Call of the Senate, I now direct the bells to be rung.
All the senators answered to their names.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) [2.54I - I move -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3, proposed new section 94B.
I desire to move an amendment slightly different from that moved in Committee by Senator McGregor. My proposal will be to fix a term for the operation of the new arrangement by inserting in proposed new section 94b after the words “From and,” the words “for a period of twenty-five years.” I had intended to submit an amendment to this effect when the Bill was in Committee, but, owing to an unfortunate incident that happened, I was absent when the opportunity occurred. It is necessary to make this .explanation, because I do not wish it to be supposed that I am moving this amendment with a view to causing delay. The adoption of a twenty-five years’ term will allow the agreement that we propose to enter into with the States to terminate at the same time as the special payment to Western Australia. It will then be open for Parliament to reconsider the whole position. Like many other honorable senators, I entertain the belief that the position may have to be reconsidered long before that time. Indeed, I. am sorry that I cannot secure a shorter term than twentyfive years. I believe that that is altogether too long, and that circumstances will force Parliament to take action before thaiperiod is completed. But, at all events, 1 consider that it is our duty to limit the period as far as we -can. If the proposition which I desire to submit be acceded to, the time for the operation of the agreement will-: synchronise arid fit in, with the Western Australian special payment period, and we shall then be able to reconsider the whole situation’ ‘without regard to the particular claims of any State. One of the weak spots in Senator McGregor’s proposal for a fifteen years’ ‘term ‘was that it treated the matter without regard to entanglements affecting any particular State. I think it will, be, admitted by those who have a knowledge of the possibilities of Western Australia that that State may in a few years return again to the condition of affairs in which she made an exceptionally high per capita contribution to the revenue. It requires no great stretch of imagination to perceive what the result of that would be. lt might involve great injustice to the people of the State. We know that when Federal expenditure is the subject of discussion, the people of a State who may be suffering will probably kick over the traces, and will talk in a way which it will not be agreeable for us to listen to. If it is probable that the per capita revenue derived in Western Australia will be much greater than that derived in other States, we should have some means of readjusting the matter. If we agree to this Bill as it stands, we shall have no opportunity to do so, and we shall have made possible a state of affairs which is not likely to conduce to the best interests of Australia. Honorable senators can well understand that if Western Australian- taxpayers are paying £2 per head into theFederal Consolidated Revenue Fund, and the taxpayers of other States are paying, not more than £1 per head, the Western Australian taxpayers are not likely to becontented. Speaking with some knowledge of the mining possibilities of Western Australia, I say that we may any morning read in the newspapers of the discovery of another Kalgoorlie, and the inflation of the Customs and Excise revenue of the State up to j£6 or £8 per head might follow almost immediately. In that case, the people of Western Australia would be paying into the Federal revenue very much more per head than the people of the other States, and the excess would not be handed back to them for expenditure in their State, but might be applied to expenditure inother States of the Federation. Western Australia is the largest of the States of the Commonwealth.- Its enormous territory has yet to be developed, and if the people of the State are not to be allowed to expend the money which they contribute themselves in its development, how can they be expected to make the best use of it? These are questions which will arise in the future, and it is, therefore, well that we should give them some attention now. It is scarcely necessary that T should recall a somewhat regretable incident in the recent history of Western Australia. I mention it merely to show how, in certain circumstances, the people of a State may be induced to look upon the Federation. Honorable senators will remember that both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament some time ago passed a resolutionfavouring the secession of that State from the Commonwealth. I frankly admit that I can complain of very little injustice having been done to Western Australia in the past by the Commonwealth, but it is possible, under this financial agreement, that such injustice will be done to the people of that State in the future. If with so little justification the State Parliament has carried a secession motion in the past, what mav we expect in the future. These are matters which should be carefully considered at this stage, before we take up a. position from which we shall be unable to retreat. Western Australia is likely tr> continue to need the biggest public expen- diture per capita of any of the States. The State Government have adopted a policy of retrenchment which has resulted, in some instances, in real hardship. There is a terrible outcry against it amongst the State civil servants, and if we force the State Parliament and Government into such a position that further retrenchment will be absolutely necessary in the future, it is clear that we shall give rise to a great deal of dissatisfaction in the State. I hope that the amendment I have suggested will receive the consideration that it is entitled to, and that honorable senators will agree to fix a term for the operation of the financial agreement, so that the Federal Parliament may be in a position at some time in the future to review the whole position, and bring about readjustments of Customs and Excise revenue which will allay dis content in the various States. I have worked out some figures showing the effect of the present proposal upon the finances of Western Australia. I have estimated the growth of population in the State on the basis laid down in the last Budget papers, and have worked out the amount of Customs and Excise revenue which Western Australia will receive, on the per capita basis proposed in the financial agreement at the end of the twenty-five years term I suggest. I have also worked out the amount which Western Australia would receive if the revenue were distributed in accordance with the existing arrangement, on the basis of the per capita receipts in that State a few years ago. The figures are set out for each year from 1910-11 to 1935-36 inclusive. They are as follow : -
In order to show honorable senators what might happen if we agreed to the proposed financial agreement, I take the figures for the year 1935-6- On the basis I have followed, the population at that time would be 656,000, and the amount which Western Australia would receive from Customs and Excise on that population under this agreement would be ,£820,000. At that time, on the basis of the per capita return in 1902-3 of £4 15s. - and I have said that it is not at all unlikely that the return in twenty-five years’ time would amount to that, or twice that, amount per head - Western Australia would receive ^3, 120,000, while under the agreement the amount returned to it would be only £820,000. Can any honorable senator imagine that the people of any State in the Federation would be contented to have so much money taken from them?
– Under the agreement the Federal Parliament would have the power to do so. It is in order to prevent anything of the kind that I suggest an amendment of the Bill. Something similar might happen in the case of Queensland, or of any other State were a mining rush to take place. If anything of that kind occurred in Western Australia or in any other State of the Commonwealth it would be sure to lead to discontent.
– The honorable senator was saying only the other day that the Commonwealth could not afford to pay 25s. per head; now he is saying that it might have to pay considerably more.
– I have not said that the Commonwealth cannot afford to pay 25s. per head of the population of each State. I supported that proposal before Senator Millen did so. It was the Labour Convention at Brisbane that initiated the 25s. per head scheme, and all Labour members support it, and have not a word to say against it. I believe that for a very long period mining will continue to be the principal industry in Western Australia, and that State will always show a very high per capita return of Customs and Excise revenue. I shall not take up more time in labouring this matter, recognising that it has been already fully discussed, and at the close of the session I should not be warranted in .discussing it at greater length than I have done.
– I was expecting to hear some favorable reply to the proposal for a recommittal from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I believe that evert at this eleventh hour the Government and their misguided followers should be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity afforded them to retrace their steps. I hope that they will see the folly of the course they have pursued, and be prepared to retain for the Federal Parliament the powers voluntarily given to it by the electors about ten years ago. One important reason mentioned by the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been to some extent lost sight of. The honorable senator said that if we placed a time limit upon the operation of this agreement it would be less flexible than it would be if it were embodied in the Constitution without any limit as to the time. The plain inference to be drawn from that is that if the agreement be inserted in the Constitution without a limit of time it will be revokable at any time. Do I understand the Government desire that ? Senator Vardon is of the opinion that the agreement is not likely to be satisfactory to the electors for a period of more than the period covered by three Parliaments. The honorable senator is in favour of a time ‘limit. So is the Minister in charge of the Bill, but he will not say so directly. He says that by fixing a time limit the agreement will be less flexible than it would be if placed in the Constitution without a time limit. The honorable senator’s words on the subject were very clear. He said -
Those who favour the insertion of a time limit in the Constitution can I think hardly resist this contention, that there would be more of the clement of fixity if a time limit were set out than there is in the Bill as it stands.
I am sure that honorable senators will recognise, even at this stage of our consideration of the Bill, the need for arriving at the conclusion which is outlined in the proposal of Senator de Largie. His proposition, if adopted, will preserve a wise balance between those who wish to retain the. powers of this Parliament on the one hand, and those who desire to surrender them on the other. We must all recognise that the period of twenty-five years over which an allowance is to be made to Western Australia is just as much an integral part of the agreement as is the 25s. per capita, which is annually to be returned to the States. Within the four corners of the agreement are three or four important proposals. The first contemplates the payment in perpetuity - or for so long a period as the electors are satisfied that it shall be made - of 25s. per head to every State. The next proposal is that in order to reimburse the Commonwealth for its expenditure upon old-age pensions, the States shall grant it the sum of£600,000 during next year. Another important provision, so far as one of the States is concerned, is that a special allowance upon a progressively declining scale shall be made to it for a period of twenty-five years. But if any of the contingencies to which reference was made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in his speech upon the second reading of this Billshould arise - if, for example, the electors desire to bring the agreement to an end at the expiration of seven or eight years - what will become of the provision relating to the special allowance to Western Australia for a period of twenty-five years? It will simply be so much waste paper. I feel that the proposal of Senator de Largie offers a reasonable compromise as between those who think that this Parliament should hold fast to its powers and those who believe that it should surrender them. Under it, a commonsense adjustment would be made as between the States and the Commonwealth. It would afford us breathing time, and, above all, it would give the electors afair opportunity of assessing the demands which are likely to be made upon the Commonwealth. It is an eminently fair proposal, one which would preserve a proper balance between the opposing forces in this Chamber, and at the same time would be likely to produce a rensonable amount of harmony between the States and the Commonwealth.
Question - That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 3, proposed new section 94b - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have not very much to say upon this Bill before the motion for its third reading is carried, as I am sure it will be. But there is one matter to which I desire briefly to refer. The other day the Premier of Queensland, in dealing with this agreement in the Queensland Parliament, said -
Practically all the objection taken to this agreement is that it has to be ratified by the people.
So far as I am concerned, that is not my objection to it. I have no objection whatever to the people retaining complete control over the proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue which shall be utilized by the Commonwealth for its own purposes, and over the proportion which shall be handed over to the States. My objection to the agreement is that, instead of renewing the Braddon “ blot “ for an additional period of ten years, this Bill contemplates the return to the States of 25s. per capita in perpetuity. I have always favoured the extension of the Braddon section for ten years, and the retention by this Parliament of the power to adjust the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth at the end of that-period, without any reference whatever to the States and without taking a referendum. It is not correct to say that practicallv all the objection taken to the agreement is that it has to be ratified by the people. The Premier of Queensland has endeavoured to make it appear that those who are opposed to the remission of this agreement to the people, fear the people, that they are undemocratic, and that whilst thev profess to be the advance guard of Democracy they are in reality Conservatives in disguise. Now, I submit that the people of Australia through this Parliament have full control of the finances of the Commonwealth. They can say to their representatives what share of the Customs and Excise revenue shall be paid to the States, and they can do so very much more effectively than they will be able to dr under the proposed agreement. I have no doubt that it will be comparatively easy to get the agreement embodied in the Constitution.
– That shows that the people believe in it.
– They do for the present. I believe in it for the present. It is probably the best arrangement which could be made for a limited period, and consequently it will be an easy matter to get it embodied in the Constitution. But what about taking it out of the Constitution ? Suppose that ten years hence the Commonwealth finds itself in financial difficulties, and proceeds to agitate for a revision of the agreement. Will it not be met with the opposition of every State Government? By that time each State Government will have a vested interest in the 25s. per capita which the Commonwealth has annually to return to the States. It will have been arranging its expenditure and its taxation on that basis. Its whole finances will have been based on a perpetual payment of 25s. per head, and no matter how serious a position the Commonwealth may be in there will be very great difficulty in persuading the people to alter the provision. Suppose that you have an overwhelming majority in the three large States in favour of an alteration. If a comparatively small and insignificant minority in the three States object, then it cannot be brought about. Is there anything undemocratic in that? Is it not very much more undemocratic than to leave the matter in the full control of a majority of the people through the Federal Parliament? Suppose that the matter were left in the hands of this Parliament. If the two Houses did not agree as to a division, then after certain preliminaries they could meet, and a majority of the representatives of the people would decide the point. But if this agreement is embodied in the Constitution, then a small minority of the people can block an alteration of the provision in perpetuity. There is not anything very Democratic in that. While I have admitted that for the present the amount is probably as good as could be made, I reiterate my contention when I spoke last on this subject. If this payment is to be made in perpetuity, then Protection as we desire to see it in Australia will be an impossibility. Ours is much more a revenue Tariff than- the Tariff of any State, except Queensland, has ever been. Prior to Federation the annual yield per head from Customs and Excise in Queensland was about £3 2s. 6d.
– And now they will have to do with 25s. per head. What a sacrifice !
– I am thinking of one subject, and the honorable senator is thinking of another. He professes to be a Protectionist. He was elected to the Senate as a Protectionist, but as a matter of fact he is only a Revenue Tariffist. Prior to Federation Queensland collected nearly £90,000 a year from a duty on tea. If 1 remember rightly, from duties on tea and kerosene an annual revenue of about £150,000 was derived. Again, we imported very largely flour and wheat. There was a duty of £1 per ton on flour, and that item yielded between £50,000 and £60,000 a year. All those duties have been swept away. There were also duties levied on potatoes, hay, chaff; in fact, a great number of agricultural products which came from the other States. When all the duties were counted which have been swept away by the Federation, between £250,000 and £300,000 a year could be written off the Customs and Excise receipts for Queensland. The duties per head are now higher in that State than they were prior to Federation. The Tariff yields less revenue to Queensland than was collected prior to Federation. The fiscal mandate to this Parliament is Protection. If this payment of 25s. per head is to be perpetual - and apparently that is the intention, not only of the State Government, but of honorable senators on the other side - then the policy of Protection cannot be car,ried out, and this Parliament will, be compelled to resort to a revenue Tariff on the one hand and to borrowing on the other. AVe have the first fruits of this new policy in the Loan Bill submitted by the Government in another House. We are going to borrow between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 in Australia for the creation of a navy. We know that every other well-governed country that has to deal with defence-
The. PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that policy.
– The first fruits of the new policy is, that the Government are compelled to go into the loan market to borrow money for a navy, and also, perhaps, for carrying out postal buildings, Customs houses, and so on.
– Quite right, if it is done in the proper way.
– I think it is quite wrong, so far as the construction of a navy and post and telegraph works is concerned. All our expenditure under that heading ought to be defrayed out of current revenue, and it could be done if wealth were taxed in Australia as it ought to be. If this payment of 25s. a head is to be made in perpetuity, then Protection will go bv the board, and we shall have a revenue Tariff - one which will yield not only that money, but also sufficient to meet the ordinary expenditure of the Commonwealth. With a Tariff of that kind, Protection will be impossible. Our protective industries will decline, a large number of our people will necessarily be unemployed, and as a secondary result we shall have a continuation of the policy of land monopoly which is doing so much evil.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the question of land monopoly on this motion.
-I was just coming to the point of saying that if we are to get such a large amount of revenue from Customs and Excise it will be unnecessary to impose a land value tax.
– I point out to the honorable senator that even then he will not be in order in discussing that question. The Bill provides for the payment of 25s. a head tothe States, not necessarily to be derived from Customs taxation. It may be derived from any source of revenue. Therefore, it will not be in order to discuss the whole question of land value taxation.
– Will he not be in order in discussing that as one of the objects which the Government have in raising taxation ?
– The honorable senator will be perfectly in order, as he was just now, in discussing the effect which the passing of the Bill might have on the Tariff. He was pointing out a few moments ago that, in his opinion, it would lead to the adoption of a revenue Tariff. I think that in the circumstances he is quite in order in alluding to that matter, but he will not be in order in discussing various methods of raising revenue, and pointing out that a more desirable method will be left in abeyance. When the Senate is dealing with the imposition of taxation, or with the financial question, then the honorable senator will at the proper time be in order in discussing land value taxation.
– I think that you, sir, gave one of the best possible reasons which could be advanced in that I am quite in order in discussing land value taxation on this motion. You said that the payment of 25s. a head to the States need not necessarily be made from Customs and Excise revenue. If that is the case, then the money must be paid from some other source, and one of the other sources may not be a land value tax.
– I pointed out to the Senate some time ago that when we are considering the expenditure of public money, we are not called upon to consider how it is to be found. In the other House, where these Bills are originated, there is a clear line of demarcation between the Committee of Supply and the Committee of Ways and Means. The former votes the money, and the latter determines the method in which it shall be raised. The Senate is asked to appropriate a sum of 25s. a head to the States, and, strictly speaking, the question is not how the Government are to raise the money. If the payment is authorized in this way, it may have a certain effect with regard to the Tariff, but this is not the place or the time to determine how the money shall be raised. The honorable senator will see that there is a distinct line between the two. I do not wish to interfere unduly with any honorable senator in the discussion of this matter, but there are rules and limitations which have to be observed, to enable us to proceed with our business properly.
– If you, sir, say that I am out of order, I will not refer to the land tax aspect of the question at greater length. From my point of view, a revision of this matter will be compulsory within ten years.
– Why did the honorable senator vote to make the new arrangement last twenty-five years if he thinks it will have to be revised in ten vears?
– I voted for a recommittal of the Bill, with the object of making the term ten years. I would not have voted for a twenty-five years’ term.
– The honorable senator withdrew his amendment as to a ten years’ limitation.
– I did that because it suited me to do so. Ithought I might be able to get something very much better. I depended upon a statement made by an honorable senator, who, however found it desirable to stick to the Government rather than carry out his expressed intention. I do not deny that my object was to kill the Bill. I think it a bad Bill. I object to its perpetuity provision. I object to it because it will be easy to place such a provision in the Constitution but exceedingly difficult to get it out again: The proposal which I should have liked to see carried would have placed the matter more completely under the control of the people. A small minority of the people can, if they so please, hinder any alteration of the Constitution, during the next one hundred years. No matter if the three largest States are in favour of an alteration, the three others may hinder it. It cannot be claimed that that is Democratic, or that it places control in the hands of the people of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator ought to move to abolish the Senate.
– If a motion in favour of the abolition of the Senate be submitted, I will state what I think about it. I shall be quite prepared not only to speak, but to vote. Every one knows how difficult it will be to alter the Constitution in this respect when once the 25s. per capita provision is embodied in it. What will Tasmania do, for instance? She will cling to her 25s.
– Quite right, because she wants it, and it is her own.
– I believe that every State Government would oppose a proposal to lower the per capita payment. The States will have a vested interest in the 25s., and we all know how vigorously vested interests fight for what they consider to be their rights.
– How is it that New South Wales has accepted a smaller amount thanshe wanted ?
– Even New South Wales is receiving more from Customs and Excise than she received under her Free Trade Tariff. Under Federation, New South Wales has benefited very largely. She has benefited from the Protective policy inaugurated against the wishes of a large section of the people of that State. I do not intend to prolong the discussion. I repeat my belief that within ten years a revision of the arrangement will be necessary. But in the meantime it will lead to a great amount of recrimination and struggle between the States and the Commonwealth. I believe it will cripple the Commonwealth.
I believe it will be destructive of our industries. I believe it will damage Protection, buttress land monopoly, cause unemployment, increase the cost of living, and injure the working people. And all for what ? All to save the rich from taxation. That is really the purpose of this agreement - to save wealth, and to heap burdens of taxation on the shoulders of poverty.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the Senate.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I do not think that the third Order of the Day to which Senator Neild calls attention need be discharged. It may be ignored, as it is purely a matter of surplusage.
Question resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority of the Senate.
Bill read a third time.
[4.0]. - I move -
That this Billbe now read a second time.
In these, the closing hours of the session, it is not my. intention to make any elaborate speech in connexion with this matter. It it, however, my duty, in the most concise manner possible, to bring under the notice of honorable senators certain facts with which for its proper consideration it is necessary they should be made acquainted.
– It is like all the other Bills. The Government have made another agreement in which they have sacrificed the interest of the Commonwealth.
– Surely the honorable senator will be good enough to allow me to proceed when I give him my assurance that I will be as brief as possible. When we come to consider the financial aspect of the question, it will be my duty to go through the various clauses dealing with the subject, and to explain exactly the financial obligations it is proposed that the Commonwealth shall incur. I may be permitted to say that on the 6th July, 1863, Royal Letters Patent were issued annexing the Northern Territory to South Australia, and containing these words amongst others -
Until We think fit to make other disposition thereof…..
And We do hereby reserve . . . full power and authority from time to time to revoke alter or amend these Our Letters Patent as to Us or them shall seem fit.
While it may be admitted that at one time the contention was possible that this was a qualified grant, it was put an end to completely upon the passage of the Imperial Act, which gave us our Constitution and established Federation. The Constitution Act provides in section 6 that - “ The States “ shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales. New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the Northern Territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called a State.
Under section 11 of the Constitution power is given to the States to surrender territory, and under that power South Australia acts in connexion with this agreement. The section provides that -
The Parliament of a State may surrender any part of the State to the Commonwealth ; and upon such surrender, and the acceptance thereof by the Commonwealth, such part of the State shall become subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
That disposes of the contention that there was a qualified grant of this territory to South Australia. I take this opportunity to place on record my tribute of admiration to South Australia for the courageous manner in which she has borne the burden of the Northern Territory from 1863 to the present time, notwithstanding many tempting offers to hand it over.
– What tempting offers did she get?
– I hope my honorable friend will not interrupt me.
– This is a serious matter.
– It is because it is so serious a matter that I wish, as impartially as I can, to submit certain facts for the consideration of honorable senators. South Australia has borne the burden of the Northern Territory since 1863. During that period it was quite open to the State to have abandoned that Territory. During that period many tempting offers wete made under which South Australia might have permitted the occupation of the Northern Territory by coloured races, and entered into arrangements very advantageous to herself in connexion with the construction of the transcontinental railway on the land grant system.
– Did she ever prohibit the employment of coloured labour in her mines, as the other States have done?
– She has not encouraged the influx of coloured labour, and has resisted offers which would have involved the introduction of coloured labour on a large scale. As South Australia was bearing this great burden, which really was a burden which one State ought not to have been called upon to bear, it was a fair suggestion on her part that on the establishment of Federation the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth should assume all the national obligations associated with it. On the 18th April, 1901, the late Sir Frederick Holder, who was then Premier of South Australia, wrote to the Federal Government intimating that South Australia was prepared to offer the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth on the Federal Government assuming the liabilities of the Territory. In the course of his letter he said -
I may mention that had South Australia been willing to have given carte blanche to capitalists to introduce coloured labour into the Territory a sum of money estimated at about £10,000,000 would have been forthcoming to establish a chartered company to take over the Territory with its assets and liabilities to South Australia, and to carry out the construction of the remaining portion of the overland railway. This offer was declined by the South Austraiian Government in its own interest, and in the interests of Australia.
Nothing appears to have been done under that letter. But it is noteworthy -that in the month of September, 1902, a resolution was carried by the House of Representatives in these words -
That in the opinion of this House it is advisable that the complete .control and jurisdiction of the Northern Territory of South Australia be acquired by the Commonwealth upon just terms.
– Upon just terms.
– Exactly. No action was taken upon that resolution pending the consideration of a Bill which was before the South Australian Legislature, which was duly passed, and which had for its object the construction of the transcontinental railway upon the land grant system. That Bill having been passed in 1902, the offer of South Australia to hand over the Territory to the Commonwealth was for a time withdrawn, and tenders were called for the construction of the overland railway. One tender in particular was received, 1 think, in 10,06. The late Mr. Price was in office at the time, and his Government decided to decline the tender, and that it was proper that negotiations should be reopened with the Commonwealth. The tender was declined and negotiations with the Comomnwealth reopened. Before that was done the matter was fully discussed by the Legislature of South Australia, and a determination come to as to the terms on which the State would be prepared to hand over the Territory. Those terms were communicated to the Prime Minister of the second Deakin Government. Negotiations and conferences took place, and the outcome of those conferences was that an agreement was finally reached and signed on the 7th December, 1907. That agreement appears as the schedule to this Bill. The object of the Bill is the confirmation cf that agreement. Its confirmation, of course, means the acceptance of the Nor thern Territory upon the terms of that agreement. On the 21st December, 1907,. the Parliament of South Australia passed an Act surrendering the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. The Royal Assent was given to that’ Act on the 14th May, 1908. I intend to refer in the briefest way to a few of the physical features of the Northern Territory. My idea is to speak generally, and I shall make reference to> certain papers which have been circulated, and from which honorable senators may obtain further details. The Northern Territory comprises an area of 523,620 square miles, or 335,116,800 acres. ‘ South Australia proper is separated from the Northern Territory by the 26th parallel of latitude. The coast line of the Territory exceeds 1,300 miles, and there are many islands, of which the principal are Melville Island, Bathurst Island, Wessel’s Islands, Groote Eylandt, and Sir Edward Pellew’s Group, in close proximity to the northern and eastern shores. The man- rivers which most amply water the northern portion of this Territory, and which are navigable for nearly the whole of their length, are the Victoria, the Daly, the Adelaide, the Alligator, the Liverpool, the Goyder, .the Roper, and the McArthur. The population is merely nominal. In 1908 there were 1,081 Europeans there, and* 1,892 persons of other nationalities, making a total of 2,973. There were then,, and there are now, from 20,000 to 25,000 aborigines in the Territory. With respect to the government of the Territory, that portion of it north of Barrow’s Creek is, subject to Ministerial approval, controlled -by a Government Resident, who has under his immediate oversight the Departments of police, gaols, charitable institutions, board’ of health, law officers, marine, stock and’ brands, botanic garden, survey, goldfieldsand mining, education, public works, &c. South of Barrow’s Creek the Territory isdealt with directly from Adelaide. All. South Australian legislation, unless expressly excepted as provided for under the Northern Territory Justices Act of 1884, applies to the Northern Territory. TheGovernment Resident issues annual reports. The imports and exports of the Territory are interesting. In 1907 the imports werevalued at £78-996, and the exports at £345,721. The main exports are wolfram, copper, cattle, trepang, tin ore, bullion gold, horses, pearlshell, hides and’ horns, silver ore, silver matte, and copper matte. In 1907 the cattle exported num- bered 46,969, and were valued at £206,460. In 1908 there were some 400,000 cattle in the Territory, and in that year 31,636 were exported, of the value of ,£142,998. There was an export of hides to the value of ^£4,469. There are some 20,000 horses in the Territory, and last year 1,459 were exported, of the value of £i4.395- In 1903 there were 61,538 sheep in the Territory, and in 1907 the number was 44, 232. Up to December. 1908, the total value of the metals and minerals’ produced was £2,565,578, of which gold represented £2,029,422. In 1908 the number of miners employed in the Territory was 824, of whom 150 were Europeans and 674 Chinese. The value of the production of gold and minerals during that year was £67,075, whilst the value of the machinery used was £53,070. The yearly average value of its mineral products is £89,727, and the average number of miners employed is 1,176. Speaking generally of the soil of the Territory, it may be stated that there are rich fertile coastal districts which are suitable for agriculture - districts of considerable area - whilst inland there are vast stretches of pastoral country. It has already been proved by experiments extending over twenty years that all classes of tropical
Agriculture can be advantageously undertaken there.
– The residents themselves do not say so.
– The experiments made by Messrs. Holtze, who have conducted the Botanic Gardens and Experimental Nursery at Port Darwin, prove that. Among the great number of plants which they have successfully grown may be mentioned maize, tapioca, rice, both swamp and up-land, oil plants, including peanuts, castor oil, croton oil, and sunflower, palms, including date, oil, sago, and cocoanut, fibre plants, including sisal, ramie, jute, sun hemp, cotton, kapok, and manilla hemp.
– Cotton grows wild there.
– Yes, and the very best class of cotton.
– Give us facts.
– I propose to state nothing but facts. I hope in a dispassionate manner to place those facts before the Senate for its consideration.
– How many hands are employed in all those avenues of industry?
– The honorable senator invited me to say what plants can be successfully grown in the Territory.
– I am asking how many hands are employed there.
– The other plants which have been successfully grown by the .Messrs. Holtze are arrowroot, tapioca, spices, including pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cassia, citronella, nutmeg, vanilla, millet, and sorghum, sugar, coffee, cocoa, all tropical fruits, rubber of several varieties and fodder grasses of many kinds. On the subject of the soil and its capabilities, Mr. Simpson Newland in his book Land Grant Railway Across Central Australia, writes -
There* is no doubt that the Northern Territory is singularly noted for the growth of cotton. Although not indigenous it is now found growing wild in the jungles and there is no place in the world more adapted for its successful cultivation.
Then the Honorable J. Langdon Parsons, who administered the Territory for some time, wrote -
These Northern Territory lands have been by some overpraised, by others much underdepreciated. In such a vast expanse of Australian country there are stony wastes, rolling sand-hills, spinifex thickets, waterless regions, rocky and sterile ranges. But there are also wide undulating downs, broad, well-grassed plains, rich alluvial flats, and on the north coast large navigable rivers.
Mr. David Lindsay, who has made a special study of the Territory, and who is a man whose report may reasonably be relied upon, says -
We have a country capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of cattle and horses and millions of sheep; extensive agricultural areas ‘ which will produce sugar, rice, coffee, cotton, and nearly all other tropical and sub-tropical products necessary for our use; and the wonderful mineral wealth of gold, silver, tin, and copper, all combined, will make the somewhat despised Northern Territory of vast importance, and place it in the front rank of the Australian States.
– Does the honorable senator believe that ?
– I do. I have had a map of the Territory hung upon the south wall of the chamber. It is not a large one, and unless honorable senators approach it closely they will scarcely be able to follow my remarks. Upon that map the land which has been sold is coloured green. ‘ As will be seen, it occupies a very small patch. The pastoral land is coloured pink; land in connexion with which annual permits exist are coloured white with red outlines, and unleased lands are not coloured. Only 473,809 acres’ have been alienated in fee simple. There are 99,740,068 acres held under pastoral and other leases, whilst under annual leases and permits there are 16,563,840 acres, a total occupation under leasehold and permits of 116,777,717 acres, leaving a balance unoccupied of 218,339,083 acres. I scarcely think it is necessary for me to refer to some statements which have been made in connexion with the Australian Railways and Territory League. I know that the objects of that League have been made the subject of comment both here and elsewhere. I already had documents printed refuting the suggestions which have been made in this connexion. Mr. David Lindsay, to whom I have already referred, writes -
I was engaged as joint secretary and writer and lecturer to the League, to prepare maps, reply to newspaper articles and letters, and to generally disseminate reliable reports and information about the Northern Territory.
He has forwarded to my colleague, the Minister of External Affairs, a very full statement concerning the history and objects of the League. He points out -
From a perusal of this you will see that the League is purely a patriotic association, with neither land nor property, and has no ulterior object in view.
Towards the close of his letter he says -
From the above it is abundantly clear that the A. R. and T. League is in no sense a land syndicate, and has no ulterior motive in view. Amongst the subscribers to the funds of the League we find the names of Bagot, Shakes, and Lewis, trustees” of Cowan’s estate, and G. Buchanan. Now the Hon. J. Lewis, who holds pastoral leases near Newcastle Waters, is bitterly opposed to the transfer on any conditions. Mr. G. Buchanan holds leases on Sturt’s Creek and on the Western Australian border, and is a resident of Sydney. Mr. Lindsay, who represented the League in Melbourne, has no interest beyond holding 100 acres of agricultural land near Port Darwin, which he bought in 1882.
These quotations, together with the correspondence which has already been circulated, conclusively show that this League is what it purports to be, namely, a patriotic League having for its object the promotion of the best interests of the Northern Territory. The question of the land tenures of the Territory would, in itself, be very interesting; but I propose to refer to it only very briefly, and to point out where honorable senators may obtain all the details that they may desire. Fortunately, the Government Resident, in his report for 1907, gives a brief description of the tenures under which the lands of the Territory are held from the Crown. He says -
These were either created under Statutes prior to 1890, but now repealed, or under the Northern Territory Crown Lands Act 1890 and Acts amending or supplementary to it.
He then gives a summary of the respective tenures under present legislation, together with a synopsis of the conditions peculiar to each. The classes of tenure are - right of purchase leases, perpetual leases, freehold, leases for the growth of agricultural products, annual leases, leases for special purposes, leases for the encouragement of the establishment of horse-breeding stations for the remount service, holdings under the Northern Territory Tropical Product Act, pastoral leases, and commonage licences. Full particulars regarding these various tenures can be obtained from some of the papers which have been circulated. But I make the following quotation because I’ deem it of special interest, premising it with the remark that comparatively little land has been alienated since 1881 -
The suspension of the practice of granting pastoral leases, which commenced in 1902, just prior to the passing of the Land Grant Railway Act, has been continued, pending the result of the consideration of the proposal of transfer of this territory to the Commonwealth. The provisions of a somewhat unpretentious section (81) of the Act of 1890 were called into requisition to provide a substitute. It cannot be called either an acceptable or efficient substitute, providing as it does, only for an annual permit to occupy and even then determinable at three months notice. The wonder is that it has been so extensively availed of by pastoralists, no less than 32,306 square miles being held under its provisions.
That it should be so is an indication, firstly, of the high merit of our pastoral country ; and, secondly, of the trust placed in the Government by the permittees that they would not be dispossessed without valid and weighty reason. Assurance was given by the honorable the Minister in August last to the effect that when the country is again made available for leasing purposes a prior right to a lease, except where agricultural country is included, will be given to permittees who have complied with the conditions of their permit as to payment of rent, and who have stocked the land comprised in their permits in all respects as if the permits they hold were pastoral leases. The assurance tends to make the position more acceptable, coupled though it is with a condition of stocking foreign to the terms of the permit. The condition, however, was deemed necessary to prevent country being taken up for speculative purposes.
It will be seen that even under this flimsy class of tenure, 32,306 square miles of land have been taken up. That is, I submit, eloquent testimony to the attractive character of the country.
– How much did it yield to the revenue?
– There have been circulated amongst honorable senators papers showing the revenue derived from the various leaseholds and holdings, butI do not want to take up time now in going into details.
– That knowledge would be very valuable to the Senate.
– Yes, and the fullest information on the subject has already been circulated. For instance, some of the papers give a summary of the land in possession of tenants at present and the rentals which they pay. There is also a table of the pastoral leases in detail, showing first the number of the leases, the area in square miles, the annual rental, the rate , per mile for the term, the date of expiry, and so on. All that information has already been circulated.
– Surely the Minister can realize that we cannot follow all the details. He has stated that the fact that land has been alienated indicates that some persons realize that it is of great value. If he were to contrast with that estimate of value the amount they paid, we could follow his statement better.
– An area of 32,306 square miles having been taken up by these persons under a most flimsy tenure, and they having pressed the State Government forleases, and the latter having expressed the hope that their claims would be remembered by the Commonwealth if it took over the Northern Territory, is in itself eloquent testimony that the land must be worth holding.
– It depends upon the price.
– I look upon the rental as a detail.
– Why not give us the information ?
– The occupation of the country is what we want to secure.
– If the land is valuable to these persons we want to know what value they attach to it.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to interject.
– I am only asking for reasonable information, sir.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is in charge of the measure, and when he has completed his speech the honorable senator will have a right to speak. The Minister has shown that he does not desire so many interruptions, and, therefore, I suggest to the honorable senator that it is not fair to continue to interrupt.
– The information which my honorable friend seeks is contained in the papers which have been circulated. However, if he is voracious for information, I would refer him to a return laid before the other House in 1907, and showing -
The names of individual holders of alien ated land within the Territory (excluding Palmerston and suburbs), together with the following particulars, viz. : -
Full details, ifdesired, can be obtained from the papers which have been circulated. There is hardly a question which can be asked relevant to the Northern Territory on which we have not endeavoured to supply complete information. Before dealing with the financial aspect of the question, I desire to say a few words with regard to defence. I would first draw attention to the geographical position of the northern portions of this area, and to the fact that they are very much closer to foreign countries of established military and naval reputation than they are to some of the main centres of Australia. The distance from Port Darwin to Thursday Island is 730 miles, to Fremantle 2,092 miles, to Brisbane 2,160 miles, to Sydney 2,634 miles, to Melbourne 3,210 miles by the east coast route and 3,952 miles by the west coast route, and to Adelaide 3,453 miles by the west coast route and 3,709 miles by the east coast route. The distance frnm Port Darwin to Amboina in. the Dutch East Indies is 580 miles only, to Sandakan in Borneo 1,440 miles, to Batavia in Tava 1,705 miles, to Manila in the Philippines 1,872 miles, to Singapore 1,902 miles, to
Hong Kong 2,350 miles, and to Colombo 3, 253. miles. It will be seen that Port Darwin is nearer to Hong Kong than to Sydney. About twenty years ago a report on the defence aspect of the question was made by Major-General J. Bevan Edwards, C.B., commanding the troops in China and Hong Kong. What he stated carries even greater weight to-day than it did then. He said -
No general defence of Australia can be undertaken unless its distant parts are connected with the more populous Colonies in the south-east of the Continent. If an enemy was established in either Western Australia or at Port Darwin, you would be powerless to act against him. Their isolation is, therefore, a menace to the rest of Australia. . . . The interests of the whole Continent, therefore, demand that the railways to connect Port Darwin and Western Australia with the other Colonies should be made as soon as possible.
Again, Sir George le Hunte, who was Governor of South Australia, and was intimately acquainted with the Northern Territory, made the following reference to Port Darwin in a report which he wrote -
The harbor is a very fine one - deep, well sheltered, and capable of being easily defended. Its position with regard to the Eastern Archipelago and the great Asiatic trading centres ought to make it a very important commercial port in the future, while from its strategic position it might prove a very valuable base in the event of developments which may, and in the course of time are nearly certain to, take place amongst the Powers in the East. There is, in my opinion, every reason why Australia should appreciate and safeguard one of its most important positions. It will be a most dangerous thing to neglect or undervalue it.
From the report on the land grant railway from Adelaide to Port Darwin, which was authorized by the Government of South Australia, I quote the following extract: -
Major-General Sir William Jervois, R.E., late Governor of that State, when visiting Port Darwin some years since in connexion with defence matters said, “ Port Darwin is the key to the East.”
I have quoted this eloquent testimony by men who were anxious to promote our highest and best interests in order to show that the condition of the Northern Territory is a menace to the whole of Australia. It is my duty now to refer to the financial obligations which this Bill will impose upon the Commonwealth. I call the attention of honorable senators to clause 1 of the agreement, which appears as a schedule to the Bill.
The terms and conditions of this agreement are as follow : -
The Commonwealth in consideration of the surrender of the NorthernTerritory and property of the State therein and the grant of the rights hereinafter mentioned to acquire and to construct railways in South Australia proper shall : -
As regards the responsibilities incurred under that clause, on the 30th June, 1908, there were loans outstanding to the amount of£2, 768,062. From that has to be deducted an unexpended amount of £16,169 and a sinking fund of £26,132, held by the State Treasurer, leaving an indebtedness of£2,725,761. The loans will mature at various dates, extending from the present year to 1939. To that amount of indebtedness there has to be added £602,222, which represents a floating deficiency. The total indebtedness, including loans raised for the Pine Creek railway, and the deficit thereon, but not including loans raised for the Oodnadatta railway, and the deficit thereon, is £3,327,983.
– What assets are there to represent the first item of
– I have already explained that that included the loans raised for the Pine Creek railway and the deficit thereon.
– What amount was borrowed in connexion with the Port Augusta railway?
– I intend to give full particulars to my honorable friend, but, of course, I can only deal with one matter at a time. I am taking each clause of the agreement which Involves definite obligations, and am showing the Senate the obligations we should incur under it.
– What I want the Minister to do is, to tell us how much of that £2,750,000 is represented by substantial public works, and how much represents deficiency in interest and shortage on working expenses.
– I have explained that the £602,222 represents the deficit or Advance Account. Later I shall be able to supply the whole of the information sought. In regard to the indebtedness of £3,327,983, nothing is included in respect of that portion of the overland telegraph line which isin the Northern Territory, because the overland telegraph has always been treated as an undertaking of South Australia proper. In connexion with the dates of maturity, it should be understood that the loans for the Northern Territory have seldom Deen floated separately. Usually they have been floated for South Australia proper and ihe Northern Territory together. Thus, it is not possible to say always that a particular parcel of stock or bonds relates only to the Northern Territory. In the redemption of the loans there must be an understanding on this subject between the Comma wealth and the States. The figures I have given are the result of an investigation by the Commonwealth Treasury of the books of the South Australian Treasury. The information has been secured from the Treasury of South Australia. The agreement goes on to say -
By annually reimbursing the State the amount of the annual interest paid by it in connexion with the loans in respect of the Northern Territory ; by paying annually into a Commonwealth Sinking Fund the amounts the State has undertaken to pay into such a fund in connexion with the said loans ; and by paying and redeeming at or before maturity the said loans.
The annual interest payable on loans was in 1907-8 £110,990, and the sinking fund £6,963. The agreement further provides -
By paying the amount of the deficit (or Advance Account) in respect of the Northern Territory to the said State in such manner as may be agreed upon. If the amount cannot be agreed upon it shall be determined by arbitration.
I have explained that the amount of this deficit is £602,222. This, again, is the accumulated deficiency of revenue so far as that deficiency has not been met by the raising of loans.
– It is very important to know to what extent that deficiency has been met by the raising of loans. We want to know what assets we are getting for our money.
-The sum represents the amount that has not been met by the raising of loans; but if my honorable friend will hear me through he will, as I am anxious that all honorable senators shall do, thoroughly understand the financial aspect of the matter. I will turn now to subclause b, and I suggest that it should be read in conjunction with sub-clause d. Sub-clause b provides -
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with the railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as The Transcontinental Railway).
That, of course, refers to the construction of a railway from Port Darwin down to the northern boundary of South Australia proper. Subclause d provides -
Construct or cause to be constructed as part of the Transcontinental Railway a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect with the other part of the Transcontinental Railway at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
– That amounts to an absolute bond to construct a transcontinental railway connecting with the South Australian railways.
– The agreement provides for doing so, but it specifies no time and no route except that the railway is to be within the Northern Territory. The length of the line would be about 1,063 miles if taken from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and about 1,350 if taken east of Lake Eyre. The ‘cost of the latter line has been estimated at approximately £4,500,000.
– Has an approximate estimate of the earnings been made?
– Yes. If, however, the railway be constructed in sections - as I presume that it would be - the annual interest and sinking fund, if any, will be limited by the cost of the portion of the line completed. During the construction the interest would be charged to capital account, and five years after completion the railway ought to pay both working expenses and interest if the country is as good as it is supposed to be by many South Australians.
– That is a stretch of imagination.
– Those who know the country may, I hope, be permitted to have an opinion on the subject, fi wish to point out in this connexion that the route of the railway is not determined according to the terms of the agreement further than that it must be within the east and west limits of the Territory.
– And must end at two given points.
– It must end at some point of the northern boundary of South Australia proper ; and then that point is to be taken up and joined on to some other point of the Port Augusta Railway. The second matter which I point out is that no definite time is set down within which the railway has to be constructed. In other words, the Commonwealth is to be at liberty to develop the country as it thinks proper, and if Parliament in its wisdom deems it wise to construct that section, it. of course, will have the right to do so. The third point which I wish to emphasize is that it is quite open to the Commonwealth Parliament to make arrangements with the several States for connecting various sections of the transcontinental line. So that a connexion might be made with the Queensland railways, as Queensland has a railway extending west to within about 150 miles of the Territory, I suppose that that would be one of the first connexions made. I now desire to refer honorable senators to sub-clauses c and e, which I will take together.
– Can the Minister tell us whose is the estimate of £4,500,000?
– It was obtained by the Treasury. I do not know how they got it.
– I have been furnished with an estimate of £7,000,000.
– What would be the extra cost of the line running east of Lake Eyre?
– I have supplied the only information I have on the subject.
– Has the Department obtained an approximate estimate of the cost of a mono rail?
– No, it has not.
– Does the Minister think that the railwaycould be constructed for . £4, 500,000?
– That is the information which the Department has. Paragraph c provides -
At the time of such surrender acquire from the State at the price and on the terms hereinafter mentioned the Port Augusta Railway including the lands now used for and reserved for such railway together with all stations and other buildings sidings wharfs and other accessories used in connexion with the working of the said railway except the railway carriages trucks and other movable plant and rolling-stock.
– What is the annual deficit on that line?
– I will give the total profit.
– Not including the interest; the profit on working expenses. Paragraph e provides -
Pay the price of the said Port Augusta Railway by becoming responsible on the date of the sale and transfer thereof to the Commonwealth for the amount of the loans raised by the State for the purpose of constructing the said railway and used therefor and by annually reimbursing the State the interest payable thereon and by paying annually into a Commonwealth Sinking Fund the amounts the State has undertaken to pay into such a fund in connexion with the said loans until the said loans are paid and redeemed by the Commonwealth as or before they become due.
In connexion with the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway the loans outstanding on the 30th June, 1908, were£2, 242, 342. These loans extend over a period ranging from 191 7 to about 1939. In addition, there has been expended out of revenue on the construction of the railway £29,292. I have already explained that the indebtedness of South Australia, which we would become responsible for - that is, the total indebtedness including loans raised on the Pine Creek Railway and the deficit on such railway - is £3,327,983. Add to this the indebtedness of £2,242,342, and the total indebtedness in connexion with the Northern Territory and the Port Augusta Railway amounts to£5,570,320
– That is without the cost of making the connecting railway? That is the present indebtedness?
– Yes. I cannot close my ears to the fact that there is a very considerable opposition in the Senate to the taking over of the Port Augusta Railway. But in all fairness and reason the Commonwealth is bound to assume this responsibility. In the first place SouthAustralia constructed this railway as part and parcel of a scheme for the development of the Northern Territory. If the Territory were transferred to the Conmonwealth and South Australia were left high and dry with this railway, that would be an act of unfairness and injustice to the State. It was only by exercising their right and power to extend that railway that the South Australian Government could hope to make it profitable. If we took over the Territory and left them this railway we should do the South Australian people a great injustice. If the Commonwealth acquires the Northern Territory it should acquire also the schemes adopted in connexion with its development.
– We would not get control of the railway.
– According to the terms of the agreement we would get absolute control over the railway from sea to sea, that is to say, from Port Dar- win to Port Augusta. It would be within our power to determine the route . of the overland railway, and the Commonwealth might, if it did not take over the line to Port Augusta, decide to connect at Hergott Springs. If we did that, the country between Hergott Springs and Oodnadatta would be completely useless to South Australia. We might decide to make the connexion close to Port Augusta, and then the balance of this line would be comparatively useless to South Australia.
– We would have to work the railway under the agreement.
– It is true that the Commonwealth would have to work the transcontinental railway ; but if we took over the Northern Territory, and” not this Port ‘Augusta railway, it would be competent for the Commonwealth to make a large portion of this line comparatively if not entirely useless to South Australia.
– But who would suffer by that, when the Commonwealth would have to pay for the railway?
– The point is that we are called upon in this matter to do justice to South Australia, and I am urging that a fair bargain has been entered into in this regard. The line from Port Darwin to Port Augusta would be a national line and be of great advantage to the Commonwealth. Bearing in mind the comparatively trifling amount involved in connexion with the Port Augusta railway in a vast transaction of this kind, the agreement proposes what is fair and just to the Commonwealth and to South Australia. This agreement goes on to provide -
By annually reimbursing the State the interest payable thereon and by paying annually into a Commonwealth sinking fund the amounts the State has undertaken to pay into such a fund in connexion with the said loans until the said loans are paid and redeemed by the Commonwealth as or before they become due.
The present annual interest on these loans is £84,088. The annual payment to sinking fund at the rate of one-quarter per cent, on £2,242,342 amounts to £5,606. I pass over- a good deal of the agreement, which does not involve financial obligations. The third clause of the agreement provides that-
In consideration of the Commonwealth becoming responsible for the indebtedness of the State in respect of the Northern Territory in manner be forementioned
The total indebtedness of the Territory on 30th June was -
The agreement continues - the State hereby releases the Commonwealth from the liability imposed by the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act on the Commonwealth to compensate the State for any State properties within such Northern Territory vested in the Commonwealth in connexion with any Departments of the State transferred to the Commonwealth under the provisions of the said Constitution.
Clause 14 in the proviso to sub-clause a of the Bill sets out that, notwithstanding anything contained in the agreement, the Commonwealth shall compensate the State (if the Government so require) for that portion of the overland telegraph line which is in the Northern Territory. It was necessary to modify the agreement in that manner, because the overland telegraph line being always considered an undertaking of South Australia proper, the cost thereof is not included in the indebtedness of the Territory. Now as to the annual loss of the Northern Territory only, here are the figures -
If the Northern Territory alone were included in the agreement the Commonwealth Treasury would have to provide annually the following : -
This loss of£158,439 does not include anything for special Commonwealth expenditure on development of the Territory, or any loss on the Oodnadatta railway, or on the new transcontinental railway.
– Does the honorable senator think we shall get the money at 3 per cent. ?
– I hope the Commonwealth will be able to do so. The present annual loss, including the Port Augusta railway, is shown in this statement -
If, therefore, the Northern Territory is taken over by the Commonwealth together, with the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, the annual sum to be provided by the Commonwealth, based on the year 1907-8, would be -
An estimate of the condition of affairs after the completion of the railway from Pine Creek to join the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway has been made, and honorable senators will take the approximate estimate for what it is worth. During the first year or two, after the completion of the railway, the annual expenditure would be approximately -
If a sinking fund is provided of 1 per cent. to begin five years after the date of the loan for the new railway, it would involve an additional charge of £45,000. In addition to the foregoing the expense of settling the Northern Territory during the first ten years has to be considered, but after that time it is hoped that, with the improved means of transit and the opening up and settlement of the country, the consequent increase of revenue would make the whole transaction a reproductive enterprise. The capital invested by the Commonwealth in connexion with the Northern Territory would be -
The foregoing figures do not include the compensation due to South Australia in respect of the overland telegraph line, which will be chargeable as “transferred property,” under section 85 of the Constitution.
– What has been put down as the cost of settling the Territory during the first ten years?
– No amount has been put down for that. I refer honorable senators to the report of the South Australian Commissioner of Audit for 1908, in which he gives a. comparison of the revenue and expenditure of the Northern Territory for five years. This paper is immediately available to honorable senators if they desire to see it. It will be seen that the report of the Commissioner of Audit - and this is information for which Senator Mulcahy asked - shows the following statement of revenue, working expenditure and interest on the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway from the commencement of 30th June, 1908 - Palmerston line -
– For how many years?
– I under, stand that the line was opened in 1887.
– How much would be required to put it into a good state of repair now?
– It is in a good state of repair.
– I have given the statement of the excess of working expenses and interest over revenue. A table has been compiled from the reports of the South Australian Railways Commissioner, which shows that the earnings in 1903-4 were £17,006, and in 1907-8 they were £14,462. The expenditure, not including interest, in1903-4 was £13,219, and the expenditure, not including interest, in 1907-8 was £14,060. There was a surplus of £3,787 in 1903-4, and of £402 in 1907-8. In regard to the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line, a table has been compiled from information supplied by the South Australian Commissioner of Audit and the South Australian Railways Comptroller of Accounts, which shows that the earnings of the line in 1903-4 amounted to £43,000, whereas in 1907-8 they totalled £63,000. The expenditure, not including interest, in 1903-4 was £46,000, whereas in 1907-8 the expenditure, not including interest, was £51,000. There was a deficit in 1903-4 of £3,000, whilst in 1907-8 there was a surplus of £12,000.
– No, that does not include the annual interest of £84,000. The above figures are approximate. It has not been the practice of the South Australian Railway Department to keep separate accounts for the various sections of the lines under its control. Details for earlier years are not available.
– Do the trains onlyrun once a fortnight ?
– I cannot say. I think that they run more frequently than that. The earnings of the line for 1907-8 were £63,000. The total amount expended from loans in respect of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway to 30th June, 1908, exclusive of rolling stock and movable plant, was £2,242,342. The only other point with which I desire to deal has reference to the overland telegraph line. I hold in my hand a table which has been compiled from records of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in South Australia, from which I gather that the line was constructed in 1872, at a cost of£603,959 ; approximately three-fifths of the line in the Northern Territory - say £362,377. The following statement of receipts and expenditure for the six years ending 1906 will give a fair idea as to the financial position of the line -
– What portion of the total receipts should be credited to the Northern Territory ?
– It is impossible to separate the receipts upon this line in the way that the honorable senator suggests. The working expenses in 1901 amounted to £22,660, but in 1906 they had been reduced to £19,448. The interest upon loans seems scarcely to have varied throughout the six years. In 1906 it amounted to £43,849, as against £47,023 in 1 90 1. The total interest and working expenses on the line in 1901 was £47,023 whilst for 1906 it was only £43,849. It is true that there was a surplus in 1901, which seems to have been an exceedingly, prosperous year. But last year, for reasons which I have not before rae, there appears to have been a trifling deficit on the whole line of £3,463. The overland telegraph line has never been regarded as an undertaking of the Northern Territory, and, therefore, the figures relating to it have been excluded from all statements showing the financial position of the Territory. I think that I have now given honorable senators a fairly full explanation of the financial position. There is an immediate liability of, perhaps, £5,000,000 upon the Northern Territory, and a prospective liability of, perhaps, £10,000,000. I ask honorable senators whether, in the taking over of a vast territory comprising 520,000 square miles, and having regard to the necessities of the Commonwealth, the payment of these moneys should be deemed worthy of serious consideration ?
– Especially considering the vastness of the Territory which the Commonwealth will acquire.
– Exactly. For these moneys we should get this vast Territory - a good specimen of Australian country - capable, as we are assured, of white settlement.
– The Minister is dealing with the Territory as if the Commonwealth were about to purchase it.
– I am putting the position upon the- lowest basis.
– If the Commonwealth were purchasing the Territory it might have to pay a good deal more for it.
– I ask honorable senators to view this question from a national stand-point. I want them to realize - as has already been pointed out in the extracts which I have quoted - that this unpeopled waste is a menace to the Commonwealth.
– How should we like the Northern Territory to be possessed by Japan? If it is of no value why not let Japan have it?
– The obligation of peopling this vast area is upon the Commonwealth.
– Why has it not been peopled before? A Royal Commission was appointed by the South Australian Government to investigate the question.
– But a Royal Commission does not produce a population.
– The fact is that the vast burden of developing this Territory has been cast on one of the small States. That State has courageously and heroically struggled with the burden, and is now practically in a position to hand the Territory over to the Commonwealth intact. Therefore, I urge that from the stand-point of our national safety it is es- sential that we should acquire it. Further, its acquisition is necessary to the progress and prosperity of Australia as a whole. If it be a fact, as has been stated - and I think that the statement is well, founded - that vast areas of good agricultural and pastoral country exist in the Northern Territory, nearly the whole of which is capable of carrying a white population, energy and enterprise alone hav.-; to be employed to satisfactorily occupy it within a limited period. In this Bill, and in the construction of the lines proposed, I venture to say that we have offered to us the best means possible of binding together more closely and completely, the whole of Australia.
– At the outset of his remarks, the Minister of Trade and Customs promised that he would be very brief and concise. Now, whatever may have been the other merits of his speech - and it had many - it was neither brief nor concise.
– Why does not the honorable senator move the adjournment df the debate ?
– At this late stage of the session I will not be a party to hanging up this Bill. I. desire to arrive at a decision upon it. The measure has been before us for some time, and 1 do not think that there is any honorable senator who is not prepared to debate it. In moving the second reading of the Bill the Minister of Trade and Customs supplied us with a wealth of detail relating to the Northern Territory. But I do not see that there was any necessity for him to do that. I believe the opinion of this Senate is unanimously in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the Territory. We are all satisfied that from the stand-point of the development of Australia, as well as from that of national defence, the Territory should be taken over. At any rate, that is the view which I hold. But when I say that I am in favour of taking over the Northern. Territory in the interests of Australia, I mean exactly what I say, and nothing more. When we take over the Territory we must have the power to govern it in the best interests of Australia, in accordance with the expressed wish of this Parliament. But under this Bill the Commonwealth Parliament will be denied that power. Now while I am willing to affirm the principle that we should take over the Northern Territory, I am not prepared to affirm that we should be committed to any particular scheme for its development. I am in favour of taking over the Northern Territory with every shilling of debt attached to it. But I am not willing that the Commonwealth should be tied down to the construction of any railway, to the building of any roads, to the opening of any harbor, or to any plan of development whatever. South Australia has no title to ask “this Parliament to commit itself in that way. In our future plans for the development of the Territory, South Aus- tralia, in common with every other State, will be able to make her voice heard through both Houses of this Parliament. What more she can desire I cannot understand. I ask Senator Symon whether it is in accordance with his high ideals of the Commonwealth Parliament that it should enter into an agreement tied hand and foot as to the future development of the Territory?
– It is not tied hand and foot.
– I agree with Senator Symon that this Parliament should preserve its powers. We cannot set up too high ideals in connexion with this Parliament. But if on every occasion we are to make the authority of the Commonwealth Parliament subservient to that of the various States, we must say good-bye to those ideals. It appears to me that we have now arrived at a stage of “ government by agreement.” Outside persons who have no standing in many matters meet together, come to an agreement, and ask both Houses of this Parliament to swallow it whether we like it or not. That is not in accord with what should be our high ideal of the honour and dignity of this Parliament.
– If a man buys a piece of land there is no want of dignity if he agrees with the seller to put up a particular fence.
– Why should he? He has bought the land for his own use.
– What is the indignity in making an agreement to put up a dividing fence ?
– Let me put to the honorable senator a question which he as a constitutional lawyer can answer if he chooses. What conditions were imposed on any of the several States when they were granted the right of self-government by Great Britain ? With regard to the building of railways or anything of that kind, were any conditions imposed upon them? Was Queensland compelled to build a railway in any direction when it got separation from New South Wales? Or was that condition imposed upon Victoria, or South Australia, or Western Australia when.it obtained the boon of self-government? Was any condition imposed upon the States? Not one. They were given unconditionally the right of self-government. They weri allowed to decide how they should proceed with regard te the development of the territories handed over to their care. That is exactly the position I want the Common wealth to occupy. Can any one show a good reason why the Commonwealth should not be left free and unhampered with regard to the development of the Northern Territory? The other day Senator Symon argued very cogently and ably - and I heartily agreed with him - that no one could show a single reason for distrusting this Parliament. Can he or any one else show a reason for distrusting its justice and good faith in this regard either? I do not propose to discuss the merits of the rival routes, because that is a matter which I think should be left to future Parliaments to deal with.
– There is no route specified in the agreement.
– The construction of certain railways is made a sine qua non.
– The Commonwealth is bound to construct a railway to connect Pine Creek with Oodnadatta.
– We are not bound as to the route of the railway to connect Pine Creek with Oodnadatta.
– No, with the southern boundary of the Northern Territory.
– And afterwards to connect Oodnadatta with Port Augusta.
– With what is defined as the Port Augusta Railway, which is a different thing altogether.
– Not to connect with Port Augusta?
– In order to remove all doubts in the minds of honorable senators. I propose to place on record some clauses of the agreement. In paragraph b of clause1, the Commonwealth binds itself to -
Construct or cause to be constructed a railway line from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper (which railway with the railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect therewith is hereinafter referred to as The Transcontinental Railway).
That is the first railway which we are bound to construct. We are not to be allowed to decide where it shall go.
Semtor Sir Josiah Symon. - Does not the honorable senator think that there ought to be a railway?
– Yes. But must we bring the railway to one particular boundary in order to please South Australia, and let the other three boundaries “ go hang? “
– Does not the honorable senator think that some day or other there ought to be a railway connecting the south and the north ?
– I am not going to argue the merits of the railway, because that should be left entirely to the power which will be saddled with the responsibility of settling and governing the country.
– We are leaving them free.
– No; it is desired by this agreement to bind them hand and foot, to build the railway which its supporters think ought to be constructed. In paragraph c of clause1 of the agreement, the Commonwealth binds itself to -
At the time of such surrender acquire from the State at the price and on the terms hereinafter mentioned the Port Augusta Railway including the lands now used for and reserved for such railway together with all stations and other buildings sidings wharfs and other accessories used in connexion with the working of the said railway except the railway carriages trucks and other movable plant and rolling-stock.
Why should the two things be mixed up? If we are going to have self-government, why should we be compelled to buy a railway which will be outside our territory?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs told the honorable senator.
– He stated the reasons which animated him, but they are not good enough reasons to animate this Parliament. Where is the justification for contradicting my former statement? In paragraph d of sub-clause1, the Commonwealth is bound to -
Construct or cause to be constructed as part of the Transcontinental Railway a railway from a point on the Port Augusta Railway to connect with the other part of the Transcontinental Railway at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
It will be seen that my original statement that the Commonwealth is binding itself to construct a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta is absolutely borne out by the plain facts stated in the agreement.
– Oodnadatta is not on the northern boundary of South Australia.
– We are bound to connect with Oodnadatta from the Port Augusta Railway.
– We need not go to Oodnadatta.
– Where could we go?
– To Hergott, if we like.
– It appears that we are to take over and work a. useless railway, and to build another line practically alongside of it. The whole thing is ridiculous on the face of it. This is a beautiful scheme to hand over a nonpaying railway through a country where one train a fortnight can cope with the whole traffic.
– No. There is only one passenger train, but there are many stock trains.
– In paragraph e of clause1 of the agreement the Commonwealth binds itself to pay the price of the Port Augusta railway and to do other things. I think that I have fairly stated the case. There are only two possible reasons for building a railway at all, and both are most excellent. A railway must be built in the Northern Territory for the proper development of it. I hope that more than one railway will be built. But this Parliament is the proper authority to judge where a line should be built. It should not be guided by the dead hand of the State which, to say the least, has not made a success of the Territory so far. The only other reason for building a railway is for defence purposes. That is another equally good valid and cogent reason. But I venture to say that this proposal is the very worst which could be initiated. It is urged that if Port Darwin were attacked we would be able to rush men and material there in order to defend it. The value of a railway for defence purposes is to insure that the country attacked shall not be isolated. But what is the position from the defence point of view in regard to the Port Augusta-Pine Creek railway? Everv one knows that four-fifths of the population of Australia are located to the east of the South Australian boundary, the greater portion of them being very much to the east of that point. Then, in order to be able to get men and material to Port Darwin to defend it in time of stress of war we are coolly told that the best thing to do would be to construct a railway away from the centres of population and carry it right around through a very sparsely-settled country before going through the Northern Territory. All that it would be necessary for the enemy to do in order to block the Commonwealth fromrelieving Port Darwin would be to seize the Port Augusta end of the line and four fifths of our population who are located in the eastern States could not go” to its relief.
– Which end does the honorable senator think would be least open to attack, Brisbane or Sydney ?
– A line which” would allow direct communication with the various centres of population in the eastern States would be the best, because it would provide more than one way of getting troops for the relief of the Northern Territory.
– But would not a foreign foe very soon block up the Sydney or Brisbane end?
– The day when the eastern States are blocked up by a foreign foe will be an historic one.
– Where does the honorable senator think this railway would end?
– In the eastern States we have a large population to defend the end of the line, but in Port Augusta we have practically no population.
– You would have to keep them there, and could not send them to Port Darwin.
– The handful of men in Port Augusta would be quite useless. For defence purposes we want a railway by means of which populous centres could send relief to the Northern Territory by a direct line, and without being blocked at the sea -board by the enemy. In the other case, all the enemy would have to do would be to. seize Port Augusta and the eastern States would be rendered helpless.
– What would our fleet be doing?
– What a nice hole the enemy would be in at the head of Spencer’s Gulf. I should like to see a foreign squadron go up to Port Augusta.
– They would be going into a trap.
– If the honorable senator is sincere in making that remark an enemy would- have no more business in the Northern Territory than it would at Port Augusta. They would be trapped at Port Darwin.
– Would they? T do not think that we shall ever find a foreign squadron going up to Port Augusta.
– Possibly because they could not get there.
– It would be the safest place from which to send troops to the Northern Territory.
– For defence purposes it is proposed to drag soldiers and supplies all round Australia to reach the Northern Territory. Any one who will take a look at the map of Australia will find that to bring troops from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to the Northern Territory it would be necessary, under this scheme, to take them an enormous distance out of their way. If there were a necessity to defend the Northern Territory in time of war, it would surely be requisite to strike a blow rapidly.
– Would not the Queensland lines connect with the Northern Territory railway? 0
– I do not know what Queensland will do. She should not be expected to carry lines into the never-never country, which is of very little use.
– Queensland already has lines to the bor3er
– We have built lines towards the border, but I do not think that either New South Wales or Queensland should be expected to go too far in that direction, at their own expense and for the national benefit. I frankly confess, however, that we are not in a position to know where railways should or will be built. We have not the necessary information. I am arguing that the Commonwealth should be left free to decide for itself. When cattle are brought from the north-west to Adelaide, they have to go down as far as the Georgina River and into New South Wales, in order to get to Adelaide. Why do they go that way? Because that is the only country where the, can get grass and water. Do the South Australian senators want a railway constructed over country where travelling stock cannot live?
– No one wants to prevent Queensland from enjoying the full benefit of our cattle trade.
– The honorable senator wants to commit Australia to the construction of a railway in a part of a country where there is no water except what is salt, and where cattle cannot travel. I am not saying where the railway should go. But the Commonwealth should certainly be left absolutely free to determine where it shall construct lines in the light of full knowledge. South Australia will have her full say in the matter. She has her six representatives in the Senate, and her proper share of representation in another place. What more does she want ? We have been told that South Australia is treating us very generously in this matter. I do not see that. The’ Northern Territory has resulted, unfortunately - I am very sorry foi it - in a large annual deficit to South Australia. The progress of settlement has been very small. That does not indicate that South Australia has been too successful in her administration. I am not inclined to be censorious on that account ; but why should she attempt to dictate to the Commonwealth? South Australia has incurred considerable deficits in connexion with the Territory. The Commonwealth proposes to relieve her of her “ indebtedness on that account. o
– That is generous enough.
– I am not saying that it is generous. We should relieve South Australia of every shilling of debt that she has incurred. That is fair. But when we have done that, why should South Australia want to lay her dead hand upon the Northern Territory and dictate to the Commonwealth Parliament? The plain answer to that question is more than all the eloquence of Senator Symon will be able to explain away.
– If South Australia is laying a “ dead hand “ on the Territory, what is the use of bothering about it?
– Tt may be a dead hand so far as she is concerned, and I do not want the Commonwealth to be burdened with it. I want to see the country developed in accordance with national ideals. I hope that rn time there will be, not one railway, but half-a-dozen, running into the Territory. I am not even saying that the railway which South Australia wants should not be built. All that I am saying is that the Commonwealth Parliament should be left absolutely free to build the line or otherwise. With the object of carrying out the views which I have expressed, I shall, when the Bill gets into Committee, move an amendment to clause 5 to provide that, after the word “ Agreement “ the following words shall be inserted : - “ with the exception of sub-clauses b. c, d. e. f. g, and k, of clause 1 thereof.” If that amendment be agreed to, it will mean that the agreement will be accepted with the exception of. the sub-clauses enumerated. I do not propose to interfere with the Western Australian line. The sub-clauses to which my amendment relates affect the Port Augusta to Pine Creek line. If, of course, the Government choose to repu diate the agreement in the event of my amendment being agreed to, it will be their look-out, not mine.
– Surely the honorable senator is not serious.
– I am perfectly- serious. I was not sent ‘here by the people of Queensland to ratify any agreement that any Government might choose to submit to the Senate. I was not sent here to be a mere recording angel.
– Perhaps the honorable senator was not sent here to be an angel of any sort.
– I do not profess to be one. The honorable senator knows that I am never hypocritical in my methods. I always say straight out what I think. South Australians should endeavour to take a national, and not a miserable parochial, view of this question.
– Who made the agreement ?
– I do not care two straws who made it. I am here to criticise it. I say emphatically that I am in favour of taking over the Territory with every shilling of debt attachable to it ; but I shall not assist to bind the Commonwealth Parliament as to what shall or shall not be done regarding plans for the future development of the Territory. What right has South Australia to say to us, “ We will not allow you to develop the Territory, or even to defend it, unless you do so on our terms “ ?
– The Prime Minister asked South Australia to make an agreement ; she made one, and now asks thisParliament to stick to it.
– I remember the time when anything that the present Prime Minister did was anathema to Senator Vardon. Now he looks upon anything done by the Prime Minister as something which nobody ought to cavil at. .
– The Prime Minister made the agreement with the late Tom Price.
– Well, Tom Price was a good man for South Australia. It was his business to conserve her interests. But it is the business of this Parliament to conserve the interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– Tom Price was a good Australian.
– He was; but his special business was to conserve the interests of South Australia. We are con- cerned with national interests; and I maintain that we should leave the Federal Parliament absolutely free to develop the Territory in the best interests of the whole Commonwealth,and not of any one State.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gray) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, returning this Bill with a message intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate, with the exception of amendment No. 5, to which the House had not agreed, but in place thereof had made an amendment in clause 7, in which itrequested the concurrence of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from’ the House of Representatives, intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the Senate’s amendment in this Bill.
In Commitee (Consideration resumed from 17th November, vide page 5898) :
Clause 13 -
Section sixty-three of the Principal Act is amended by inserting therein, after paragraph (d), the following paragraphs : - “(da) Establish and maintain factories for the manufacture of naval and military equipment and uniforms; “(db) Authorize the employment of persons in a civil capacity for any purpose in connexion with the Defence Force, or in any factory established in pursuance of this Act ; “ and by adding thereto the following subsection : - “(2.) Persons employed in a civil capacity in pursuance of this section shall not be subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, but shall be engaged for such periods and shall be subject to such conditions as are prescribed.”
Upon which Senator Story had moved by wav of amendment -
That after paragraph (db) the following paragraph be inserted : - (dc) “ Establish and maintain depotsand farms for the breeding and rearing of horses for military purposes.”
– I was disappointed with the reception which my amendment met with from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I explained that it was intended merely to be permissive, and to enable the Government to establish farms and depots for the breeding of horses for defence purposes. Senator Millen did not reply to the observations I made in moving the amendment. He confined himself to ridiculing the proposal. He stated that horse breeding is a most precarious business, and that only few of those who go into it escape the Insolvency Court. If that were so - and I do not admit it - it would be a strong argument in favour of my amendment. If the business of horse breeding is so precarious, private persons will not engage in it to any great extent, and unless we adopt some such means as I suggest to overcome the difficulty. I would ask what we are to do when, supposing we were called upon to defend ourselves, a large number of horses suitable for military purposes were required on very short notice?
– The honorable senator is aware that a large number of horses are exported from Australia?
– I intend to give the Committee the benefit of a few figures dealing with the export of horses from Australia. From 1901 to 1907, inclusive, 116,752 horses were exported from Australia. The average export value was £17 5s. 3d. per head. In 1901 and 1902, when the South African war was in progress, we exported 35,453 horses; but for the remaining five years of the period I have mentioned we exported only 2,155. This shows the enormously increased demand there is for horses in time of war. During the RussoJapanese war,in 1905, our export of horses to Hong Kong and Japan was 10,002 head, and during the other years of the period mentioned we exported only 602 head of horses to the two ports referred to. This shows that the large export to these places in 1905 was of horses required for war purposes. A great many horses exported from Australia are required for remounts for the Indian military service. During the seven years under review, Australia exported to India 50,449 horses for remounts. The number exported for this purpose shows an annual increase. In 1901 the number was a little over 5,000, and in 1907 it had increased to over 9,000. These figures should convince honorable senators that it is necessary that our
Defence Department should be independent of the operations of private enterprise for a supply of horses for military purposes. It is possible that just previous to the time when we should require a large number of horses for defence purposes, a war might be going on in some other country, and private persons engaged in the breeding oi horses, taking advantage of the demand, might have exported every available horse. Our Defence Department, if it could purchase horses at all, in the circumstances, would have to pay an exorbitant price for them, and very possibly would find that there were no horses to be had in the country. I claim that it is of the utmost importance that in Australia, where we have such vast distances to cover, we should take care to have at hand a practically unlimited supply of horses suitable for military purposes. I am not suggesting that the Government should at once commence the breeding of horses, but if they did so, and did not at once require them, they would have a splendid market for the horses they bred in supplying remounts for India. It will be remembered that during the consideration of this Bill in Committee, Senator Millen, in the most light-hearted way, proposed an amendment, which, if given effect to, would, according to Senator Pearce, the ex-Minister of Defence, involve an initial expenditure of £50,000, and a probable annual expenditure of £25,000, to provide uniforms for cadets. I have a few figures here which I quote to show what we might do with £50,000, if that sum were devoted to the breeding of horses instead of to the purchase of uniforms for boys at school, who do not require them. I propose briefly to outline a scheme for the breeding of horses- The Defence Department might work in conjunction with the Post and Telegraph Department if they wished to carry on the work on a small scale, but I suggest that the Government might establish in Central Australia three breeding stations. They could purchase 1,500 mares at £25 per head.
– What age, and what kind of mares?
– The amount of £25 per head is a liberal estimate, and for that sum it would be possible to get mares of any age desired, and to secure animals that would be useful for the breeding of horses for military purposes. We might secure suitable mares for very much less than the amount I have stated, because honorable senators will understand that a mare which may not be suitable for active work may be as good for breeding pui poses as a much younger mare. At £25 per head the 1,500 mares would represent an outlay of £37,500. Senator Millen may tell me that I do not know very much about horse breeding ; but I have consulted in this matter a member of this Parliament, whose name I need not mention, but who knows as much about horse breeding as Senator Millen knows about politics. I need say no more as to his qualifications to give advice in the matter. He agrees that for £25 per head suitable mares could easily be obtained, and that thirty stallions would be sufficient. I put these down at £roo each. That would represent another £3,000. The cost of thirty stallions and 1,500 mares would thus be £40,560, and I allow £9,500 for the expense of getting the stock on to the farms, and for contingencies of various kinds. I believe that if we were allowed three men to manage each of these farms, that number would prove ample. Indeed, for the greater portion of the year, one man, with the assistance of the blackfellows who are available, and who are expert horsemen, would be quite equal to the task.
– What ! One man to look after over 500 horses?
– Undoubtedly. It must be remembered that there will be practically nothing for them to do.
– For how many farms does the honorable senator’s estimate provide?
– For three. If three men cannot look after 500 mares, they are not much account.
– They would be looking after from 1,500 to 2,000 horses before any of the animals would be fit to send away.
– But in that part of the country horses do not require any looking after. I believe that the margin of £9’500 which I have allowed would be sufficient to pay all necessary expenses. But even if it were not, the investment would still be a most profitable one. Suppose that thi* £50,000, instead of being wasted on uniforms for boys who do not need them, were expended in establishing three horsebreeding stations, with 1,500 mares and the necessary sires, we could depend upon getting an increase of 80 per cent. “
– We should get nothing like it in the interior of Australia
– For breeding horses there is no better country in the world than is the interior of Australia.
– Taking into consideration the frequent periods of drought, I say that we should get nothing like an increase of 80 per cent.
– There is never any drought in the localities where I suggest that these farms should be established.
– There is never anything else.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council is judging the interior of Australia by the drought-stricken portions of New South Wales, with which he has such an intimate acquaintance. I say that in the interior such ample quantities of water and feed are available that an increase of 80 per cent. would very probably be obtained.
– Is not an attempt being made in that direction now ?
– Yes. I shall deal with that matter presently. I claim that under favorable conditions an increase of 80 per cent. would be obtained. Thus, within five years of the establishment of these farms, we should have an increase of 4,800 horses of various ages. Two thousand four hundred of these would be saleable animals - that is, horses from two to four years of age, and if they were of the requisite stamp, they ought to command £20 per head. We should thus make a profit of £48,000 in two years.
– What would the honorable senator sell a two-year-old at?
-I say that in four years the natural increase would be 4,800.
– That is to say, we should get 80 per cent. of foals, and should not lose one until they had reached four years of age?
– The country is so suitable for horse-breeding that there is no reason why any losses should be sustained.
– No man could run 4,800 horses for years without losing one.
– I am prepared to allow the Vice-President of the Executive Council to discount my estimate. I say that in four years we should make a profit of £48,000. Horse breeding in the interior of Australia can be undertaken with an absolute certainty of very substantial profit. When this question was previously under consideration, Senator Givens, in referring to private enterprise, said that every little farmer with one or two mares had an old mare of a nondescript character which he put to the nearest stallion without a thought of what the progeny would be. Thereupon the Vice-President of the Executive Council interjected -
That is the class of breeding which has been going on on the overland telegraph line.
I contend that that was a most unfair interjection to make, because when he made it the Vice-President of the Executive Council had before him the report supplied to the military department by Mr. Waddy, the Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia.
– It was because of that report that I made the interjection.
– With a view to showing that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should have known better, I propose to read one or two extracts from that report which will prove that it is not a useless class of animal which is being bred on the overland telegraph line.
– I said that the breeding there was of a nondescriptcharacter. The report proves that the mares with which the settlers started were of thaf character.
– The report furnished by Mr. Waddy to the Committee of Inquiry reads -
Referring to your memorandum of the 5th inst., Ibeg to attach a copy of my memo. of 15th February last, together with a memo. from the senior inspector, who was one of the earliest stationmasters on the Port Darwin line, and a very successful horse-breeder, and another from Mr. T. Hanley, who for years was in charge of the central line repairing party on the overland telegraph line. To these I can only add -
That we have not been extensive breeders of stock, but simply breed enough to supply our own wants.
We pay 10s. each for gelding the colts, and we have not a good horse-breaker in our employ ; we pay £1 each for breaking in the horses; this is the only cost, as the natural grasses provide all the feed necessary, and the horses are attended to, mustered, &c., by the officers and men employed at the telegraph stations.
The horses we breed being a cross between a blood stallion and a light draught mare, have strength and endurance, and might be described as powerful hacks ; some of a lighter stamp are bred for use in quick journeys.
That is exactly the stamp of horse that is required for military purposes.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– The quotation continues -
The horses being reared in such dry country can travel if necessary two days without water, and this is sometimes an advantage.
There are large areas of land untenanted, which could be obtained from the State Government, the rental averages from 6d. to1s. a square mile.
Then followed a memorandum to which Mr. Waddy alluded in his report, and which gives the number of horses and the cost of maintenance. Continuing, he wrote -
In connexion with this, a few words of explanation are necessary.
When the Overland Telegraph Line to Port Darwin was completed, we had a number of good horses, used in construction, left on our hands. Many of these were mares, they were divided between the various stations. A good blood stallion was sent through the line, and we were therefore enabled to breed all the horses we required for the interior, of a good stamp, just suited to the dry Northern Country.
We do not often buy a horse, but when some are required for the line parties in the south, have a supply sent from Charlotte Waters or Barrow’s Creek.
The numbers at Alice Springs and other stations in the north appear large, but only a few are kept at the station in readiness for emergency, and the rest are running in the scrub, and the figures given are last year’s muster.
We send no fodder to the interior, but in times of severe drought we have had to send some to Port Darwin, and to No. 8 Party, which has charge of the line through Sturt’s Stony Desert.
– I thought the honorable senator said that there was no drought there.
– There is no drought where I propose that the breeding stations should be established, namely, on the high table- land in the interior of the territory of South Australia. If the honorable senator can show from official figures that that country is subject to drought, there would be some force in his interjection, but not otherwise. Mr. J. McL. Johnston, Senior Inspector, made the following report on the subject to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral : -
On completion of the Overland Telegraph Line to Port Darwin, the horses used in the construction were distributed along the line at the stations, and, as there were a number of medium draught mares and others, a blood stallion was purchased and sent along the line, with the result that a good class of horse was bred, and the requirements of the line supplied at a very small cost, if any, to the Government, as other stock was raised, viz., cattle and goats, the surplus being sold.
– That is to say, the profits from the sale of the cattle and the goats defrayed the expense of looking after the horses ?
– It means that the horses were bred at a very small cost, if any.
– Owing to the profits from the sale of the cattle.
– The employes on the telegraph stations are not employed to breed cattle and goats, except possibly to supply meat and milk, but the surplus of cattle and goats, as well as, I believe, the surplus of horses, has been sold.
Sheep for home consumption were purchased occasionally, also a few horses at Port Darwin, and Adelaide, when they could not conveniently be drawn from the breeding stations.
Should the Hon. Minister of Defence contemplate breeding horses for defence purposes, I woula respectfully suggest for his consideration the desirability of securing land and establishing two breeding stations in the Northern Territory, say in the vicinity of Charlotte Waters and the Katherine River.
The class of horses required would, I presume, be fairly well-bred blood horses for remounts, and a light to medium draught mare crossed with a blood horse for gun-carriage work.
The natural grasses would support them, with lumps of rock salt distributed near the watering places. This is very essential, as the waters are too fresh.
Three Europeans and three black boys could manage each station. The success of the under, taking would largely depend on the class of men chosen.
Horses bred in the Northern Territory have proved to be of good stamp and very hardy.
At least 100 square miles of country would be required for each station.
I have quoted these reports merely to show that the kind of horses which the Defence Department requires can be bred in that country at a very small cost indeed. If, as Senator Millen admits, it is desirable that’ the Department should own horses, and if it can be shown that it is possible to breed them very much more cheaply than to buy them, I claim that it is a proper thing for the Committee to empower the Department, if it should be considered necessary, to start breeding stations when a suitable time arrives, without being subjected to the delay of having to apply to Parliament for the necessary permission. The Minister of Defence has recognised that we can have no efficient field artillery unless we own our own horses. That being so, is it not desirable to take this power, to be exercised in case of emergency without any delay? Probably Senator Millen will contend that the profit which I have shown cannot be obtained. Figures can, I believe, be made to prove anything. But in the face of these reports that the country is eminently suitable for horse-breeding, in face of the fact that with favorable conditions a very large profit can be made from the industry of horse-breeding, and of the probability that in a time of emergency private enterprise would not be able to supply the demand, and that if it could the price would be raised very considerably, I think that honorable senators should have no hesitation in agreeing to the amendment.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) £7.52]. - It seems to me that the idea of Australia going in for. horse-breeding is very much like a proposal to take coals to Newcastle in England. According to. our official Year-Book for 1908, 1,871,714 horses had been bred entirely by private enterprise. I dare say that in proportion to population no country in the world has, at any rate so far as quantity is concerned, such an illimitable field to select horses from as has Australia.
– The number of horses must be about 2,000,000 now.
– I daresay it is. I do not know whether Senator Storymeans to imply that private enterprise will not be able to provide a sufficient number of suitable horses to mount our comparatively small army. I do not know whether he wishes us to infer that because horsebreeding has not been carried on in the Northern Territory to any extent therefore there a.re no horses in Australia fit to be selected for the Defence Department.
– If the honorable senator had listened to my speech he would have known what I intended him to infer.
– However, the honorable senator can have the other horn of the dilemma, namely, that there are 2,000,000 horses for the Department to draw upon.
– At a price !
– I have always understood that the idea of State enterprise was not to cheapen the value of an article. If that is the case, then, of course, there may be some force in the honorable senator’s contention. As regards the suitability of Australia for horseBreeding Knibbs says -
By the importation of high-class sires, and the careful selection of breeding mares, these natural advantages were utilized to the fullest extent, all classes of horses being bred. As a consequence of this combination of advantages the Australian horse, whether of the heavy draught, medium weight or light saddle and carriage’ variety, compares more than favorably with the product of other lands. The Australian horse has been found suitable for the army in India, and large numbers are obtained annually for remount purposes.
As so much has been said about the possibilities of the Territory as one of the most fertile places for horse-breeding, I may be pardoned for pointing out to the VicePresident of the Executive Council that in 1907 there were about half-a-million of horses in Queensland, and that at present there is some difficulty in finding a market for them. I believe that a Queensland horse is about as suitable a horse in all respects as can be found anywhere else in the Commonwealth.
– Did Queensland experience any difficulty in finding a market for horses while the Japanese war was proceeding?
– No. It was a good thing for Japan, and for Queensland too, that we had such a fine supply of horses. I object to State enterprise interfering with our very well -developed horse industry.
– Why have we to establish a small arms factory ?
– Because no small arms are made in Australia.
– Why did not private enterprise supply the demand for small arms?
– I do not know. Suppose that we adopt the view of Senator Story that the Australian horse is not suitable for the requirements of the Defence Force. If the Minister of Defence is forced to adopt that view he can always place on the Estimates a sum to enable the Department to start a horse-breeding establishment if necessary,
– Could he do that at the moment when he needed horses?
– I have shown conclusively that we have not arrived at that stage.
– They could not be bred in a’ moment anyhow.
– That is the reason for submitting this amendment.
– How does the honorable senator get over the fact that private enterprise has already provided 2,000,000 horses which are available for every form of industry? When the Minister of Defence is able to show that the Australian horse is an inferior animal, and that be cannot get- a reliable supply of horses, will be time enough for us to consider the question of starting a State horsebreeding establishment. At present I think it is absolutely unnecessary to take that step.
– Senator Story’s earnestness in this matter I am willing to recognise, but what the honorable Senator is asking us to do seems to ‘proceed from the assumption that there is a scarcity of horses in Australia. He has based some. of his contentions upon the report of a Committee which was appointed some time since. That Committee pointed out that great inconvenience was caused to the Artillery by reason of the present hiring system. I am quite willing to admit that. There is much in the report to justify the contention that the Commonwealth should own its military horses. But there is nothing to justify the contention that we should set up a, breeding establishment. There is a big difference between owning and breeding horses. Whilst we have in Australia a number of horses, as indicated by Senator St. Ledger, approaching the neighbourhood of 2,000,000, we do not need to breed horses for defence purposes, for which our requirements amount to only 225 a year.
– Horses are required for other purposes ; for the Post and Telegraph Department, for instance.
– I am dealing with our military requirements. Our total needs in that direction are 1,352, as stated by the Committee to which reference has been made. On the assumption - which I take to be accurate - that the average service would be six years, it follows that the annual requirement is 225. The talk about setting up 1,500 brood mares and a fair complement of stallions, with farms in various parts of Australia, ‘ to breed 225 horses a year, is surely like utilizing a steam-hammer to crack a nut. Senator Story’s figures would be more suitable for a prospectus for floating a company than for a purpose of this kind. More than that, who is there with any experience who will say that in breeding horses under conditions such as he suggests, we should be able to market 80 per cent, of the foals? Any one with any knowledge of horses would tell the honorable senator that in breeding on a large scale in such country as he has in his mind, not more than 60 per cent, of the foals would be marketable. I doubt, indeed, whether we could approach 60 per cent, even in the best years. The country referred to by the honorable senator is remarkably dry. The rainfall figures disclose that. Yet he overlooks the fact that droughts occur there. When you get a district with an average of 10 inches, it is obvious that there must be a series of years when the rainfall is less than half that amount. In those years it is doubtful whether any foals at all would be marketable. Where you have brood stock, unless there is an ample food supply, you will not get progeny. That must be obvious to the honorable senator, as it certainly is to any man who has attempted stock breeding. If there were available country which could be obtained at sixpence and a shilling per square mile, where horses could be bred with such results as have been suggested by Senator Story, fortunes would be got there which would make Mount Morgan look like a miserable pothole. He calculates that in four years 75 per cent, on the capital invested would be realized. If his figures are reliable, enterprise in Australia must surely be absolutely dead. But, as a matter of fact, enterprise is prepared to take considerable risks, with the prospect of much smaller profits than that.
– A great many people in the country referred to have made, not only 75, but 100 per cent.
– I defy my honorable friend to find any one who, over a series of years, has made anything like 75 per cent, on the capital invested. Senator Story’s calculations are also based on the assumption that no deaths would occur amongst the breeding stock. At the end of four years, however, it is obvious that a number of them would die in the ordinary course of events.
– Of old age?
– Some of them. The honorable senator stated that we could buy horses that were no longer available for working purposes, but which might be suitable for breeding. If you take a mare of that kind and send her out into such country as Senator Story refers to, she will go under at the first whiff of drought. Indeed, the honorable senator’s figures may be dismissed without further consideration. I quite understand his object, but I submit that for the sake ‘of 225 horses per annum it is not desirable to engage in an enterprise for the breeding of horses which’ we should not have the means of utilizing. For that reason I trust the Committee will reject the amendment.
– I think the Commonwealth could utilize far more than 225 horses a year. It requires horses for other than military purposes. Ihave a very great deal of sympathy with the idea that the Commonwealth should breed its own horses. But it need not go. into the interior of Australia to do so. It could obtain suitable land at a low price in the artesian area, where horses never need suffer from want of fodder or water. The objection which I have to Senator Story’s proposal is, however, that it would practically give the Government a blank cheque to start breeding horses as they liked.
– But they would have to come to Parliament for the money.
– If the Government bring down a Bill and furnish us with particulars as to what they want to do, where the country is which they propose to utilize, and how many horses they propose to breed for the purposes required, I shall be prepared to support them.
– That might be done independently of this Bill altogether.
– It might. I see no objection to the Commonwealth breeding horses for its own purposes.
– If the principle is good, what harm can be done by embodying it in the Bill ?
– I want to have the particulars placed before Parliament so that I can be satisfied that the Government are proceeding on proper lines. Whilst, therefore, I think that the idea which Senator Story has in mind is a good one, I cannot support it in its present form.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8. 11]. - I doubt whether Senator Story’s proposal can be considered in connexion with this Bill. I call attention to the fact that it is a proposal favorable to the breeding of horses for all Government purposes. But we are engaged upon a Defence Bill.
– The amendment is limited to defence purposes.
– That makes my objection to the amendment stronger, because it is certainly undesirable that the Government should establish one farm for breeding horses for defence purposes and another for other purposes. Senator Story seems to have overlooked the fact that if a considerable number of horses were bred there would be a percentage of misfits. Many would be utterly unfit for military purposes, although they might be used for other purposes. I agree with Senator Vardon that if this matter is to be considered at all it ought to be submitted to us in a separate Bill.
– And not limited to military purposes?
– No; if the Government are going to breed horses, let them breed them for all purposes for which the Commonwealth requires them. I might be found supporting a proposition to that effect, but I cannot support Senator Story’s amendment.
– It is rather strange that the last speaker, who is prepared to swallow a camel, strains at a gnat. What is this Bill asking in other directions? It is asking for power to establish factories for the manufacture of military clothing. We are embarking upon a project for the manufacture of small arms. It is also intended to manufacture lyddite. I cannot understand how honorable senators can agree to commit themselvestothe manufacture by the Commonwealth Government of small arms, ammunition, uniforms, and equipment, and at the same time refuse to approve of a proposal such as that submitted bv Senator Story. The time may come when the Commonwealth will suddenly require a very large draft of horses for military purposes. The safetyof the country may depend upon their prompt supply, and private breeders may at the time be unable to supply them. If the Government were to adopt the course proposed by Senator Story, and breed their own horses for military purposes, that difficulty would be overcome. Senator Millen dismissed the amendment in a very airy way by asking why a great many persons have not taken up the breeding of horses in the Northern Territory if they can be bred there as easily as Senator Story contends. The reason is probably that the choice parts of the country have already been monopolized.
– No; let the honorable senator look at the map.
– If Senator Vardon will look at the map he will find that the country in the neighbourhood of the known permanent springs has already been taken up, and no one going there now could hope to make a success of the business unless he was possessed of a good deal of capital. The Commonwealth Government have plenty of credit if they have not plenty of money, and they might take up a large area of country in the Northern Territory and within five or ten years have a large and permanent supply of horses available. Senator Vardon does not believe that the breeding of horses by the Government should be proposed in this way. But a commencement must be made in some way, and an effort should be made to relieve the Commonwealth of the danger of being unableto secure, not 225 horses each year, but probably 2,000 horses, at a crucial time. At present any kind cf a horse worthy of the name is worth from£30 to£50. A comparison has been instituted between the pastoral areas of the Northern Territory and Mount Morgan ; but judging by the experience of men who went up to the Northern Territory and the northern districts of Western Australia, it is fair to say that tfiey struck a better investment than Mount Morgan. Men who took up land in those districts twenty-five years ago with very little capital, are of independent fortune to-day. I could mention one man who years ago took up land in the northern part of Western Australia, and who, with only moderate luck as a stock-raiser, came down to Perth not long ago and invested £50,000 in city property. Men who have been engaged in the pastoral industry in Western Australia and in the Northern Territory, have told me that they havedone as well there as they could expect to do in any part of the world. They have found stock-raising in those parts of the Commonwealth as good as a gold mine, largely, no doubt, because they were able to secure the best country, and as pioneers they reaped, as they were entitled to do, the first profit from high prices. It is because I believe we might in the way proposed greatly reduce the expenditure upon horses in the future, that I think Senator Story’s amendment should be accepted. With the expenditure of a comparatively small sum the Federal Government might breed an unlimited number of horses for defence and other purposes, at a price far below the prices which would be charged by private breeders if we continue to depend upon them. I support the amendment, and hope it will be carried.
– Senator Millen has not met any of my arguments. He says that it is not worth our while to establish horse-breeding stations in order to supply the Defence Department with 225 horses a year. That is simply ridiculous, as an answer to any thing that I have said. Will the honorable senator say that it is not extremely probable that within the next ten years the Defence Department will require 20,000 horses ?
– For war?
– For defence purposes.
– Would the honorable senator suggest that we should keep every year the number of horses that would be required for war?
– We are considering a Defence Bill, under which every man is to be compulsorily trained for military service.
– Not for mounted service.
– A large proportion of our Australian forces will consist of mounted infantry, and no one will contend that mounted infantrymen should be compelled to find their own horses. Apart from any question of war, it is probable that the Defence Department will require in a few years a very large number of horses. Senator Millen suggested that thefigures I have given are greatly overstated’. I do not believe they are, but I will allow the honorable senator to discount them by one-half if he pleases. That should cover every possible contingency, even to the occasional drought to which the honorable senator referred, and the figures would still prove that the Government might make an immense profit on the breeding of horses, whilst the Defence Department might secure all the horses they required at less than one-fourth of the price they would have to pay if they had to rely upon private breeders. I think my amendment is deserving of more consideration than it has received from the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Senator Lynch has replied to the remarks made by Senator Vardon, who objects to the Government undertaking the breeding of horses.
– I do not object to it; I approve of it.
- Senator Lynch met the objection by showing that under this Bill we are giving the Government power to establish ammunition, small arms, and clothing factories.
– I am opposed to the establishment of a clothing factory.
– Surely it is just as important that we should be in an independent position as regards the supply of horses, as that we should be independent in the matter of the supply of uniforms and equipment? I think that enough has been said to commend my amendment to the favorable consideration of the Committee, if honorable senators are prepared to view it impartially, and to act in the best interests of the Defence Force.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator Story’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That after sub-section 2 the following new sub-section be inserted : - “(3) All further appointments to the Central
Administration except to the office of the Minister and District Staffs including the Ordnance Department, Pay Department, and Rifle Club offices, shall be made under the. Defence Act, and persons who have served for not less than five years in the Permanent Forces and have passed the examination prescribed for such appointments shall be given priority of appointment.”
This provision is intended to remedy a long standing grievance in our Defence Department. In that Department all appointments to the clerical branch are made by the Public Service Commissioner. The object of my proposal is to permit such appointments to be made from the Defence Forces, always providing that the appointees have passed the prescribed examination, and are as competent to fill the vacant position as are applicants from outside the Department. It has been pointed out previously that men in our permanent forces are at a great disadvantage in the later years of their lives when they come to seek other work than that in which they have been engaged as younger men. At present they are not eligible for appointment to such positions as storemen, clerks, &c. Very little consideration is required to show that this is a genuine grievance. I quite recognise that the Public Service Commissioner may desire to retain the power of making these appointments. That is only natural. When once a man has enjoyed a certain amount of power he is very reluctant to forego it. I have nothing to say against the Public Service Commissioner in this connexion, but I assume that, like the rest of humanity, he desires to wield as much power as he can. There is no denying the fact that men who have spent the best years of their lives in our Defence Forces ought, if they can fit themselves in later years to occupy such positions as I have outlined, to be given a preference over applicants from outside the Department. Otherwise they will be very unfairly handicapped. It stands to reason that a man who has filled a position for a number of years is better fitted to occupy it than is an outsider. It has been pointed out that we should have only young and vigorous men in our forces; that it would be a mistake to retain men there after they have reached “the sere and yellow leaf.” I might quote a lot of authorities in support of my contention, but I think it is unnecessary for me to occupy the time of the Committee at any greater length. We must all admit that at the present time the men in our Defence Forces are not receiving the same fair deal which is being extended to public servants generally. Thatbeing so, I hope that the VicePresident of the Executive Council will agree to my amendment.
– With the general contention of Senator de Largie, I am in entire agreement, but I think that the phraseology of his amendment is open to some little objection. For instance, I would direct his attention to one phrase in it, the use of which creates considerable doubt. I refer to the words “excepting to the office of the Minister.” There is no clear definition as to what is intended by those words. The honorable senator has stated what he intends, but a very grave doubt may arise as to what is meant by that exception. I. have an alternative proposal to submit which I think will meet the wishes of the honorable senator, and which will remove the ambiguity which is contained in his amendment.
.- If the Vice-President of the Executive Council is quite satisfied that the new sub-section which he has read will achieve the object which I have in view, I am quite prepared to accept it. I, therefore, ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the following new sub-section be inserted : - “(3) All appointments in the Department of Defence other than, such appointments to the Central Staff as ought in the opinion of the GovernnorGeneral to be under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902, shall be appointments in the naval or military Defence Forces and the members of the permanent naval or military forces who have served not less than five years therein shall in case of equality of qualifications have preference over other applicants for those appointments.”
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.44]. - With the proposal to open the door of the service to men who have rendered good service in the Defence Department I am cordially in sympathy. But I am rather surprised to find this proposition made here, seeing that when the first Defence Bill was under consideration in this chamber I moved a somewhat similar amendment which met with no support. But before I vote for this proposal I wish to know how it will affect the staff clerks, who for years have been struggling hard to be placed under the Public Service Commissioner, because there are a great many more advantages accruing to a member of the Public Service than accrue to any one in the Defence Department. For instance, there are more increments, and other advantages.
– They now have the same classification as public servants.
– When did that come into force?
– Within the last nine months.
– I am glad to hear that.
– Besides, this amendment will not affect those who are already in the Department. It is only to apply to new appointments.
– I recognise that, but the Department cannot very well be run with two sets of employes, one being under one authority and the other under another authority. I take it that all the employéswill have to be under one method of administration.
– We are doing that now.
– That is all the worse : that does not make it right. I know that staff clerks in Western Australia, as well as in other States, have been agitating for the last six or seven years to be brought under the Public Service Commissioner, and thereby removed from what they deem to be a very unsatisfactory position. I admit that I have not heard much about the matter lately, and possibly what Senator Pearce has mentioned has been done. Still, I should like to get a little definite information as to the exact position to-day. Generally I am in favour of the amendment, but on this particular point I must be satisfied before I can support it.
– The effect of the amendment if adopted will be to widen the area of employment for staff clerks and to increase their opportunities of promotion.
– How can that be?
– I understand that these are Defence appointments, and that the men are barred from promotion to other positions, which are under the Public Service Act.
– That is exactly opposed to what Senator Pearce said just now.
– I am only responsible for my own words. I understand that these are Defence appointments, and that under the terms of the Public. Service Act it is not possible for the holders of them ‘to be appointed to positions under the control of the Public Service Commissioner.
– They are now classified on the same scale as Public Servants.
– The effect of the amendment if adopted will be to remove the present bar to their appointment to positions which are under the control of the Public Service Commissioner.
– Into the general Public Service?
– No; into those positions in the Defence Department which are at present under the Public Service Act.
Those positions will be thrown open by this amendment, if adopted, to staff clerks who have proved themselves worthy of promotion.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Section sixty-seven of the Principal Act is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “ 67. The owner of any vehicle, horse, mule, bullock, boat, or vessel, or of any goods, required for naval or military purposes, shall, when required to do so by an officer authorized in that behalf by the regulations, furnish it for those purposes, and shall be recompensed therefor in the manner prescribed, and the owners of such vehicles and animals may be required by the regulations to register them periodically.”
– This clause, I notice, enlarges the power taken in section 67 of the Act. It empowers the Government to impress into the service of the military authorities horses, mules, and bullocks, but it does not mention flying machines, which, I notice, are about to play a very important part in warfare.
– And motor cars.
-And motor cars.
– Is not a motor car a vehicle ?
– I am not saying that it is not. I am not quite sure that flying machines come under the definition of vehicle.
– Yes, they would, because they have wheels.
– If “vehicle” does not include flying machines I think it would be advisable to mention those very necessary machines, because they would enable the military authorities to reconnoitre very much more advantageously than they could do by the older methods.
-Colonel Cameron. - The word “vehicle” will cover anything which is inanimate.
– If after hearing the interpretation of the Minister I am satisfied that “vehicle” covers flying machines, I shall not move an amendment. But I hope that honorable senators recognise the necessity for the Department to have power to impress them into the military service.
– The question is, that the clause as printed stand part of the Bill.
– I hope that the Minister does not regard my suggestion as being so insignificant as not to call for a reply. Surely we have not reached that pass when he is going to treat as frivolous and beneath his notice rather a serious suggestion. I move -
That after the word “vehicle” the words “ flying machine “ be inserted.
– - There was no occasion for the honorable senator to give way to a feeling of warmth. Being under the impression that he would move an amendment, I turned to obtain a little information from the professional adviser of the Government, and expected the question to be stated from the Chair. I consider that the clause as it stands is sufficiently wide to include flying machines. I am inclined to think that “vehicle” would cover any appliances which were used in the transit of people or goods from one point to another. I think that under the words “ vehicle “ and “vessel “ we can commandeer any form of flying ship. At the same time, if it will carry peace to the soul of my honorable friend, I shall not resist a proposal to introduce the words “ flying machine.”
– If the word “ machine” is used it will cover all kinds of machines.
– It might not cover one particular kind of machine. I have sufficient belief in the administration of the Department to expect that if the necessity should arise and a particular article was not specified in section 67 of the Act, the authorities would take it, even though they might have to trespass upon the private property of Senator Lynch.
– After the Minister’s explanation, I am satisfied that there is sufficient power to take flying machines, if necessary, and therefore I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 and 16 agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “16a. (1) Section seventy-nine of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting therefrom the words “ deliver up the article to any officer or in default to pay its value to such officer,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ be imprisoned for a period not exceeding three months unless in the meantime he delivers up the article or pays its value “ ; and
by adding thereto the following sub- sections : - “ (2.) When an order has been made under this section the Court may by warrant in writing authorize any member of the Police Force of the Commonwealth or of a State or part of the Commonwealth to take possession of the article and to deliver it to an officer or as the Court thinks fit to direct.” “(3.) Any member of the Police Force of the Commonwealth or of a State or part of the Commonwealth having any warrant under this section may in the day time enter any building, premises, or place where the article is or is supposed to be, and may break open any part of the building, premises, or place, or any chest, receptacle, or thing therein, and may seize or take possession of the article and deliver it in accordance with the warrant.”
I understand that if any member of the Defence Force refrains from delivering up his arms, or other articles, the property of the Defence Department, and an order is obtained in a Court calling upon him to do so, there is no authority by which the police can enforce it. The sole object of my proposal is to provide the machinery by which the property of the Department can be recovered promptly, and in a. manner which would not involve any expensive resort to law.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 17 -
After section one hundred and twenty-three of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “123a. No intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be sold or supplied at any naval or military canteen, camp, fort, or post, except as prescribed for purely medical purposes. “ 123b. No person shall sell or supply cigar ettes in any form to any junior or senior cadet while in training. Penalty : Twenty pounds. “ 1 23c. No member of the Forces who has conscientious objection shall be compelled to answer any question as to his religion, nor shall any reguhttion or other order compel attendance at any religious service.”
– This clause has been inserted, I think, under the mistaken idea that it will lead to increased temperance and sobriety amongst the Defence Forces, but I am strongly of the opinion that if it . is passed in its present form there will be more drinking in the camps, the liquor will be of an inferior character, and the associations under which men will drink will be such as will have a derogatory effect upon them.I have seen canteens conducted both in the forts and in the camps, but I have never observed a man under the influence of liquor. That is very creditable when we recollect that 4,000 or 5,000 young men, full of animal spirit, are out practically for a holiday. In each case the canteen was conducted by a non-commissioned officer, and controlled by the officers. It was closed at a certain hour, and never at any time did I see any sign of disorder or drunkenness. But there are to be camps for the training of youths under the age of twenty. While I think that canteens for the manhood of Australia do not encourage drunkenness, but on the contrary tend towards temperance, it is certainly, inadvisable that temptation should be placed in the way of the trainees. The amendments which I intend to propose have for their object, first of all, to make the clause, if it is to remain in the Bill at all, of general effect. At present it will operate only partially. It will close up the canteens of the men, but leave the officers’ messes in full blast. The officers do not have a canteen. They keep up a kind of club. I think that if the men are to be prevented from obtaining liquor at the canteens, the officers should also be prohibited from having intoxicants at their mess. Therefore, the first amendment which I intend to propose will provide that no person at any camp shall have spirituous or intoxicating liquor in his possession. If that be agreed to, I shall move another amendment, to the effect that no intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be permitted to be used by any person at any naval or military camp or post. The effect of that will be, that while youths are being trained the canteens will be closed. I claim that in this matter I speak as an unprejudiced person. Indeed, if I have anybias at all, it is in the direction of temperance, because I am a total abstainer myself. Total abstinence is good for me, and is likely to be good for others. But, nevertheless, I am of opinion that the clause as it stands will have the effect of causing men to do one of two things. If they cannot have liquor at the canteen they will go outside the camp, and obtain it, often under questionable circumstances. It will also cause a’ certain amount of smuggling. The circular military tents are constructed to contain ten men. Let us assume that four men in a given ten occasionally take drink, and that the others do not. When the four go out on leave, what will happen? Each man may smuggle in a bottle of beer or whisky. If they could get what they wanted at the canteen they would merely drink their glass of beer and be content. But if they smuggle in a bottle each, the probability is that they will consume the lot. It has to be remembered that the canteens are under the control of non-commissioned officers, and that no man is allowed to drink to excess. But those who are tempted to smuggle drink into their tents will probably keep on drinking until it is all gone. The result may be that there will be disorder in the camp, and that the whole ten men in the tent where the. drinking takes place will be put in the guard-room. I am satisfied that the people who have agitated for this clause have done so with the best intentions. But they suffer from defective knowledge. Many of these military camps are alongside settled places. The men can easily go outside, and get drink in unlimited quantities. Furthermore, the drink which they get there is not likely to be as good as that which is obtained at a canteen. Perhaps it will be interesting to the Committee if I read some correspondence which I have had with the Western Australian Alliance on this subject. I received the following letter -
The West Australian Alliance,
Temperance Hall, Museum-street,
Perth, Nov. 2, 1909.
Dear Mr. Pearce, -
When the Defence Bill comes before the Senate, we earnestly request you and your colleagues to give your best support to the clause moved by Mr. Coon, M.H.R., “That no intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be used or sold at any naval or military canteen, camp, fort or post except for medicinal purposes prescribed.” We are not keen on the latter proviso, but for the main clause pray you to heartily support it. (Signed) Jas. Mather, Gen. Sec.
In reply, I wrote as follows -
Jas. Mather, Esq.,
Gen. Sec. W. A. Alliance.
D.ear Mr. Mather, -
Your letter of the 2nd inst. in reference to the clause inserted in the Defence Bill at the instance of Mr. J. Coon, M.P., prohibiting the keeping of canteens for the sale of liquor in military camps, &c., received.
Your letter appeals to myself and colleagues to support the clause which I take to indicate that your executive are of opinion that the abolition of the canteen would conduce to increased sobriety in militarycamps.
I will take an early opportunity of placing vour letter before each of my colleagues in the Senate.
With reference to my own view on the subject, I frankly say that I have, after careful and practical observation of this question in the camps themselves during the time I had the honour to be Minister of Defence, come to the conclusion that the effect of the abolition will be exactly the reverse of what I believe your own and other temperance organizations hope for. I am convinced that under the present system a very effective check is put upon those who are inclined to over-indulge, and that drunkenness is practically unknown in our military camps. It has to be borne in mind that when you abolish the official canteen the camps are usually surrounded by other means of obtaining liquor and smuggling it into camp, to be disposed of free from the restraining influence of official supervision. (Signed) G. F. Pearce.
If there is a general desire that the can teens should be prohibited, the prohibition of liquor should apply to both officers and men, and, therefore. I now submit my first amendment -
That after the word “ supplied “ in proposed new section 123a the following words be inserted : - “ and no person shall, have such intoxicating or spirituous liquors in his possession.”
– The best thing the Committee can do with the proposed new section under discussion is to excise it from the Bill.
I respect the motive which has actuated those who were successful in inserting it in another place, but I am satisfied that they will defeat their own ends. They desire to remove the stigma of drunkenness from the members of our Defence Forces, and they have my hearty sympathy in that desire. But I do not think that that desirable end will be achieved by thisprovision, which will certainly reflect upon the manhood of Australia. We are to ask our manhood to train themselves to be ready to defend Australia, and yet at the same time, we are asked to say that we have not sufficient reliance on their personal character to permit them to have canteens in their camps. From what I know of the Aus tralian man he is not much given to overindulgence in intoxicating liquors. I deny that there is any need for the proposed new section, though I thoroughly agree that we should keep intoxicants out of the way of the members of our forces who are under twenty-one years of age. While I support Senator Pearce’s amendment in that respect,I do not think there is any need to dictate to our grown men. If I thought that the provision was necessary, and would be effective, I would support it. But what weighs with me is that if we close up the canteens many men will endeavour to secure liquor in another manner. By visiting places outside the camps they will, perhaps, secure liquor that is much worse in quality. Moreover, at these places they will come in contact with much more undesirable company than they would meet by associating with their comrades in the canteen. As we are about to trust to our manhood to defend our country surely we can rely on their character not to abuse any privilege that may be granted to them in this respect. I hope that the Committee will carry the amendment.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [9.15]. - The amendment proposed by Senator Pearce has my hearty approval, because I agree that we cannot differentiate between the members of our Defence Forces. If intoxicating or spirituous liquors are to be withheld from the men, they shouldbe withheld from those who command the men. While I approve of that principle, and would permit of no differentiation in this regard, that does not bind me in any way to approve of what I believe to be the mistaken policy of wellmeaning people, who have secured the introduction of this provision in the Defence Bill. The position has been well and ably put by the ex-Minister of Defence. The honorable senator has pointed out the difficulties that must arise, and the fact that the men whom the country holds responsible for the discipline of the troops would be absolutely unable to control the people outside camps, who would induce the troops to purchase and consume the very liquors which those who have supported this proposed new section desire to withhold from them. No better method of conserving the decency and morality of our troops could be devised than that of throwing upon the men who are the selected of the country the responsibility of maintaining the highest traditions of British officers and men? Where canteens are established, the responsibility for seeing that they are conducted in a manner which will reflect credit upon those who are in command of the men, as well as upon the men themselves, is thrown upon the officers. I need hardly remind honorable senators that this provision raises also the question of the supply of good liquor to the troops. We should have no guarantee that the vilest decoctions would not be supplied by outside people who would not be under the control of the military authorities, and this might involve great risks to the health of the troops. For the reasons I have stated, it will give me great satisfaction to support Senator Pearce’s amendment, and I shall be prepared later to vote for striking the proposed new section out altogether.
. -I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment. I agree that no distinction should be made in this matter between officers and men. Officers should not be allowed to have liquor if the men are to be deprived of it. They are all citizens, and should be treated alike. I have received some communications asking me to support the provision as it stands. I believe that the people who have made these requests are actuated by the best of intentions, and if I thought that it would be in the interests of the Defence Force and of the country that the canteen should be abolished, I should gladly comply with their requests. I am afraid, however, that it would be a great mistake to permit this provision to remain in the Bill. I have attended a few camps, and I know that men who have been seen going to the canteen too often have been stopped. Men who are accustomed to the use of liquor will have it by some means, and if they are unable to secure it legitimately at a canteen in camp, they will be encouraged to go outside the camp for it; and we know that there will always be people ready to supply liquor if they think a profit can be made out of it. I believe that it would do more harm than good to abolish the canteen. I agree that no drink whatever should be sold in cadet camps, which will be formed of lads who should not have acquired the habit of drinking. I am prepared to go with those who believe in the abolition of the canteen so far as to support a provision to prevent the sale of intoxicating liquors of any description in cadet camps, and to make it an offence for any person to supply a cadet with liquor inside or outside of a camp.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9. 24].- I do not often agree with Senator Pearce, but I rise now with a grpat deal of pleasure to recognise the admirably accurate statement which the honorable senator putbefore the Committee. He should have been most convincing to those who hold utterly opposite views, and he must have been entirely satisfactory to those who hold views similar to those to which he gave utterance. The honorable senator has, however, overlooked one point. He proposes the exclusion of all liquors from camps of trainees under twenty years of age; but he forgets that there are thousands of youths of from eighteen to twenty years of age in the Militia and Volunteer Forces now existing. If the amendment were carried in the form in which it has been submitted, lads of from eighteen to twenty years of age in militia regiments would not come under the operation of the proposed new section, whilst lads of the same age in what might be called the compulsory branch of the forces would come under it. In common with Senator Sayers, and, no doubt, other honorable senators, I have received a number of requests from most worthy sources to support the provision carried in another place. If I had any reason to believe that it would make for the well-being of the men for morality, decency and order, I would support it ; but 1 accept the risk of adopting an attitude that may be objectionable to a large section of people immediately before a general election, hecause I believe that the good folks in question, with the best possible desire, really do not know sufficient of the working of canteens and military forces to accurately gauge the effect of such a provision. This question of military canteens and the supply of liquors to troops was before the Senate not very long ago in the form of a Bill. On that occasion I despatched a large number of telegrams tn commanding officers in my own State, and officers who have retired from command. I asked their view of the effect of abolishing military canteens. I have before me in the Hansard report of the debate on that OCr:: sion a summary of the- replies to my wires which I read at the time. A very large majority of the persons who made those replies are still in positions of authority and command in the Defence Force. One of them has unhappily died, and two have retired under the age provision, who. strangely enough, announced themselves as total abstainers, and yet were against the abolition of the canteen. I shall read only the telegraphic answers to my inquiries, because they are very short. They show how wide-spread was the opinion in favour of military canteens amongst officers responsible, first of all, for the order of those under their command. I ask honorable senators to say whether it is reasonable to suppose that any officer in a position of authority would give the smallest support to that which was calculated to bring about disorder in his command. It is an incredible proposition to assert the contrary. The telegrams I addressed were the same to all the persons from whom I sought an opinion - “ Do you approve of the Canteen Bill?” - and these are some of the answers I received. From a colonel -
Bill most objectionable for camps. Hardship to men more than officers, particularly permanent men.
From another colonel -
Against Bill. Unpopular. Create more crime.
From a lieutenant-colonel in command -
Every man in regiment violently opposed on grounds of discipline, efficiency, and comfort.
From another lieutenant-colonel commanding
Military canteens preferable to drinking in neighbouring public-houses. From another lieutenant-colonel -
No. Entirely opposed to it. Letter posted.
From a major in command -
No. Consider it will be responsible for more crime than ever anticipated.
From a lieutenant-colonel^ -
This gentleman is a total abstainer. From another regimental commander -
Strongly disapprove Canteen Bill. Will be extremely harmful.
From another commander -
Strongly disapprove Canteen Bill. Will indirectly seriously affect good order.
From another -
Disapprove abolition of canteens.
Another colonel wired -
I think it will be a big mistake to do away with canteens for reasons which must be obvious to every officer.
I received a number of letters at the same time, but as they were somewhat lengthy I shall not trouble the Committee with them to-night. I thoroughly agree with the statement of Senator Pearce that the men are able to get drink within a short distance of the majority of training camps. Take as an illustration the largest proposed military training area in New South Wales, if not in the Commonwealth, an area adjoinin[r the town of Liverpool, for which area the Commonwealth has been negotiating. That area is so large that shell practice may be carried on there by the Artillery as well as ball firing practice by the Infantry. But only a narrow fordable river separates it from a town which contains a dozen or more hotels, so that it would be simply impossible, except by an unbroken series of pickets and sentries along the banks of that river to prevent liquor being smuggled into any camp held upon that admirable training ground. In the same way the largest number of men grouped together in barracks in the Commonwealth is to be found in the Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Opposite to one of the walls of those barracks are no less than five publichouses and one wine shop. If the men in barracks are refused the limited drinking which is permitted in the canteen there - it must be recollected that under Commonwealth regulations only light wines and beer may be supplied therein - willthey not find their way into these hotels? If they wish to spend their evenings in barracks naturally they go to the canteen. It is their only parlor. They go there, take their glass of beer whilst talking to their friends, and play whatever game they most affect. They cannot have a single glass of beer supplied to them if they evidence the least sign of liquor. Honorable senators should recollect that in canteens liquors are not sold for profit. It is not to the interest of the man in charge of the canteen to serve a single glass of liquor. On the contrary, ifhe dispenses it in a careless manner, he will very soon come under censure andbe punished.
– Are canteen charges lower than those outside?
– Certainly. But if a man should drift across the road from the barracks he might find his way into half-a-dozen drinking establishments which, no doubt, are very well conducted. I have been in and out of most of them when I was local member in the State Parliament, and I have never seen anything wrong with them. But in a public-house, no matter how well-conducted, a man is likely to consume more liquor than it is possible for him to get in a canteen under military authority. In the canteen there is very little “ shouting,” whereas in the public house there is a great deal. There are crowds of men who are only too pleased to shout for a man wearing a military uniform.
-Colonel Cameron. - Long mav it remain so.
– Long may it remain so under proper conditions. For these reasons I think that if the proposed new section is to stand, we ought to adopt the amendment which has been moved by Senator Pearce. When that has been done doubtless the honorable senator will join with the majority in voting for the excision of the provision as amended.
– Most honorable senators will have no difficulty in recalling the very strenuous fight which was waged in this Chamber when the Canteen Bill was under consideration some two years ago. I wish, as far as I can, to prevent a repetition of the events of that interesting occasion. The amendment which has been submitted by Senator Pearce does seem to me, apart from all that has been said in support of it, to possess the additional virtue of offering a via media between two contending points of view. It may be accepted as a fair compromise between those who would abolish the canteen entirely and those who seek to limit it as he does. I should like to point out what will be the effect of his proposal, because I scarcely think that it has been fully grasped by one or two honorable senators who have addressed themselves to it. For instance, Senator Neild seems to be under the impression that the canteen will exist only in some camps. Need I remind him that under Senator Pearce’s amendment, no camp can have a canteen. That amendment will prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors in any camp in which there are trainees from eighteen to twenty years of age. Those are the camps at which the Militia will also be training, and the presence of these trainees will, therefore, impose a prohibition upon a canteen for militia men. So that the effect of the amendment will be to prevent the supply of drink in any military camp, whilst permitting canteens to exist in barracks and other permanent posts. Under all the circumstances I am inclined to ask the Committee to accept the amendment as a reasonable compromise Between two sets of opinion.
– Why not leave the matter to regulation?
– That course might be adopted. But certain sections in this Chamber have so frequently expressed a desire to have in the Act itself an indication of the course which is to be followed that I should not be justified in asking the Committee to leave the matter to regulation. Senator Pearce’s second amendment speaks of “section 125 of clause 18.” The words “ of clause 18 “ ought to be struck out, because, although that is the number of the clause in the Bill, it will disappear the moment the provision is incorporated in the principal Act. The word “ canteen “ in this amendment ought also to be excised. I would suggest that he should move for the omission of these words, and the Committee will then be able to vote upon the amendment to which I refer, and finally upon the proposed hew section either with or without the amendment.
– I am not in agreement with the other members of the Committee upon this question. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that some years ago when this question was before the Senate there were opponents of the canteen. I should like to know whether any of these gentlemen are present to-night. It seems to me that they have all departed. I hold in my hand a circular which I have received from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of South Australia asking me to endeavour to abolish the canteen. Another circular from New South Wales seeks its abolition “ in the interests of humanity.” I have received a third communication from the Rechabites. All these bodies entertain different views of this question from those which have been voiced by honorable senators who have addressed themselves to it. I do not profess to be a teetotaller, as does Senator Pearce.
– He does not merely profess to be one. He is one.
– Had he been Chairman of the Young Men’s Christian Association for many years I should not have been surprised at his amendment. I confess that I do not see why officers should be permitted to obtain liquor whilst a prohibition is imposed upon the men. Not knowing much about camp life, I consulted two gentlemen who have held high military positions in South Australia for many years, and they informed me that the greatest trouble and the greatest curse in connexion with military camps is strong drink. If any honorable senator doubts my word I am prepared to give the names of my informants. It has been said by some honorable senators that if men are not allowed to get strong drink in the canteen they will smuggle in bottles of beer. But that is the sort of men with regard to whom we have to be very careful indeed. Drink is always a temptation and a curse to such men. If it is not obtainable in the canteen it will be procured at the nearest publichouse, where the liquor will not be so good and too much of it will be drunk. It is the duty of every honorable senator, as a representative of the people, to express his views on this important question. If men who are in the habit of drinking to excess get liquor at one place they are likely to go to another place, and drink more of it. If Senator Best should deliver a speech in favour of the canteen, God help him when he next addresses a meeting of ladies. If we intend to have compulsory military training, which 1 do not believe in, we ought at least to do away with the canteen. At any rate, I shall be found supporting its abolition. I ask Senator Vardon and Senator McColl, who have been well known in connexion with the temperance movement, to come over to the side of justice and fair play and remove a temptation from those who are liable to err. Surely we ought to have a sober military force ! It was not my intention to take any part in this debate, but a sense of duty impelled me to speak. I was present in another place when this provision was being debated. The Minister of Defence made a diplomatic and very sound reply, and when a division might have been taken the proposal was carried on the voices. That is one reason why I think the Seriate should not come into collision with the other House on a question of this kind, especially as one-half of our number will soon have to appeal to the electors and the women will have votes.
– I approach the consideration of this provision from exactly the same standpoint as Senator Pearce did. For nearly forty years I have taken an active part in the temperance movement in South Australia, and for many years I was head of the Young Men’s Christian Association. I was very pleased to hear Senator Pearce’s testimony with regard to the conduct of ‘the camps which he visited when he was Minister of Defence. His experience agreed exactly with my own in South Australia. I never saw anything of an objectionable character, and the tent which was erected by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union for the supply of tea, coffee, and cocoa was always very largely patronized. The amendment of Senator Pearce will, I take it, deny to officers and men alike, in all camps connected with persons up to the age of twenty years, the use of intoxicating liquor, and beyond that it will permit simply wine and beer to be supplied to the men.
SenatorFindley. - The Minister says that it will not have that effect, because the men and the boys will be associated at the. same time.
– He made that statement in regard to one period only. That, perhaps, can be remedied. I recognise that very often when we say that the men shall not have a certain thing, that fact induces them to say that they will. It is of no use for us to shut our eyes to that trait in human nature. The proposition which Senator Pearce has made ought, I think, to be accepted as a via media. It should satisfy those who are anxious to keep lads and young men free from the temptation of intoxicating drink. It will keep that article absolutely away from them as well as their officers during the whole of these periods, and at the same time it will allow men of mature years to exercise their own discretion. It is a common-sense proposition which, I believe, will be appreciated by the community generally. I have no fear of any one misunderstanding my attitude. Nobody will believe for a moment that. I support this amendment for the purpose of helping canteens or intemperance. It is because I believe that it covers the ground fairly and completely that 1 am going to vote with Senator Pearce.
– I propose to amend the second amendment which I intend to move at the Minister’s suggestion by leaving out the words “ of clause 18 “ and also the word “ canteen.”
– I do not like the proposed new section as it stands, and shall feel compelled to vote against it. Whilst I have no particular objection to the amendment, still I think that I shall vote against it, because it deals with one of those matters which, in my opinion, can be handled very much better by regulation. I have always been opposed to a policy of absolute suppression. . As regards certain articles there are times in every man’s life when he considers that he is the best judge in regard to his conduct. There are some matters in which we all recognise we should yield to the opinions of others, but there are other matters on which we all like to hold our own views. In such cases we feel that we should not be interfered with by any law, legal or moral. I think that far more harm than good will be done by suppressing the use of drink in military camps. I have received a letter on this question from a friend in Melbourne who for many years has been an officer of the Volunteer Forces. He is a great enthusiast, alwavs having had at heart the welfare and advancement of the Military Forces on sound and proper lines. His opinion, founded on his experience at military camps, ought to carry considerable weight. On the 4th November he wrote to me in these terms -
In view of the fact that the Senate will shortly have the Defence Bill brought before it for consideration and discussion, I would like to bring under vour notice the proposal of the House of Representatives to abolish military canteens.
Whilst distinctly in favour of limiting as far as possible the use of all intoxicating liquor at camps, I am of opinion that the proposal to abolish the sale of liquor in military canteens will be found to be a mistake.
After twenty-seven years’ experience at camps in all grades, I have no hesitation in saying that if the sale of liquor at canteens is forbidden, liquor will be brought by individual members of the Forces, and that sly drinking will go on in the tents.
Under present regulations, the canteen is only open at certain hours, and a non-commissioned officer is placed in charge of it, to see that no liquor is supplied to a man who has apparently had enough ; and, that it is not supplied to Cadets or young members of the Forces; and, further, at the allotted time the canteen is absolutely closed and nothing can be obtained. He is also responsible for the good order of. those who are in the canteen, and would undoubtedly interfere where necessary to restrict a man inducing a comrade to drink.
Some years ago I belonged to a regiment which did not have a canteen, and whilst in a tent with a number of others a bottle was produced, and every one in the tent was expected to take a drink. . . . There can be no question that this habit is demoralizing. An officer is never anxious about his men when there is a canteen, as there are only stated intervals when the liquor is obtainable, but if it is in the tents drinking can go on all through the day, as the opportunity offers.
I may mention that the abolition of liquor has been tried in the American Army and proved a failure, owing to the sly drinking of generally an inferior spirit, and the sale of liquor has since been allowed.
It is far better to restrict and control the use of liquor under the present system than it will be to attempt to prohibit its use, as there appears to be something in a man’s nature which tempts him to do that which he is told not to do.
I am not putting this opinion forward without having made a number of inquiries from brother officers, and would respectfully urge that inquiries should be made before coming to a decision on a point which I feel is of vital interest to not only the Commonwealth Forces, but to those members of the community who are in favour of temperance reform.
The letter is signed by Mr. Charles Merrett, major on the unattached list of the Commonwealth Military Forces. I do not like to oppose what seems to be a common sense amendment, but I think that the best thing to do is to put the regulation of these matters into the hands ofresponsible officers, who have to be judged by the results achieved, both in disciplining their troops and in training them.
– It seems to me that the amendment is in the nature of a compromise. We are not preventing any man over twenty years of age from obtaining intoxicating liquors, but only legislating with regard to young men. I know that a great many officers are against the abolition of canteens, being of opinion that these institutions assist them in disciplining and controlling their troops in respect of their drinking propensities. But I consider that temptation ought to be entirely removed from young men, and therefore I shall vote for the amendment.
– I shall support the proposed newsection as it stands. The opinions of a number of military men have been quoted, and it may seem to be like rushing in where angels fear to tread for me to offer an opinion in opposition to theirs. But we have to decide such matters to the best of our own judgment on political grounds, and cannot consent to be swayed entirely by the views of experts. The training of young men in military camps is no more arduous than is the work which has to be done in many occupations in various parts of Australia, where employers certainly do not provide barrels of beer for the refreshment of their men. There is certainly a danger in placing temptation in the way of young men at a time of life when they are least able to resist it. They are then at an impressionable age. If a young man sees Jack Jones or Bill Murphy drinking, although he himself may not have had a drop of liquor in his life, he may say, “ Well, what is good enough for my mates is good enough for me.” If we were legislating for men, all of whom were between twenty-six and thirty years of age, when habits of life are formed, it would be an entirely different matter. But we are legislating for young men just out of their teens, who are likely to be very much influenced by the nature of their surroundings. Many honorable senators have followed arduous callings at some portions of their lives. They may have been pushed almost to the point of exhaustion on some occasions. The work which they did was far more exhausting than military training can be, yet they had not a cask of beer to draw upon, and probably had no inclination to drink. It has been well said By Shakespeare -
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes ill deeds done !
– Does the honorable senator hold that it is an “ ill deed “ to have a glass of beer ?
– I believe that it is a good deed to remove temptation from the way of young men. I am quite satisfied that the beer barrel is not a necessary accompaniment to military training, and that its use will lead to mischief.
.-I agree with much that has fallen from Senator Lynch, but at the same time we have to proceed by steps, and it must be patent to all that Senator Pearce’s amendment constitutes an enormous advance on the present position. Senator Lynch’s argument would be a very sound one if we had prohibition in this country. But if a soldier has simply to cross a road to reach a public house, we do not remove temptation out of his way by closing the canteen. Senator Pearce’s amendment, however, absolutely prohibits intoxicants being placed in the way of young men who are undergoing training. It will lead to absolute prohibition in barracks and camps while trainees are undergoing instruction. But there are other sins besides taking a little too much drink. One is that of being a sneak. It is surely most undesirable to encourage our men to be sneaks. We do not want to have our soldiers smuggling drink into camp in defiance of the regulations. When the American Fleet was here, I saw some sailors going off to one of the ships in a boat, who were hiding flasks of whisky in their stockings. They rolled up their trousers in front of my eyes while they concealed the flasks. We do not want that sort of thing in connexion with our forces. I am satisfied that Senator Pearce’s proposal will conduce to entire prohibition, and I shall support it.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10.10]. - One point has been overlooked in the course of this debate, and that is that there is a wide difference between men in camp and the same men when pursuing their daily callings, whatever they may be. In camp men are placed in a new set of circumstances. They move under entirely different conditions from those which surround them in their ordinary lives. Let me refer to what happened at the Easter encampments in New South Wales last year. Notwithstanding the absolute embargo laid down in the military regulations, the medical men, on account of the rough weather that the troops were experiencing, consulted together with the result that gallons of rum were ordered into several of. the camps about Sydney. At the Liverpool camp alone, no less than eighty gallons of rum were served out to the men, to fortify them against the stress of weather.
– Dutch courage.
– Senator Lynch has made out an admirable case in regard to young trainees, but he overlooks the fact that for the last thirty years or more there have been camps of training in Australia attended by hundreds of thousands of youths under twenty years of age, and yet there has been no record of drunkenness. I have been to many camps, but the only case of drunkenness that I can remember is that of a man who got drunk on the way to the railway station to entrain for a camp a few miles away.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That after the word “post” in. proposed new section 123a the following words be inserted : - “ during such time as training of persons as prescribed in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of section 125 is proceeding in such naval or military camp, fort, or post.”
– The honorable senator should insert “ship or vessel,” so as to make the amendment applicable to the naval forces.
– This Bill does not apply to the naval side of our defences. It is intended to cover naval defence by a separate measure. Therefore, it is not necessary to move such an amendment as Senator Neild suggests.
– Why, then, include the word “ naval “ in Senator Pearce’s amendment?
– There may be a naval camp on shore.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That proposed new section 123b be left out.
When we remember that many of the cadets referred to will be actually over eighteen years of age - because there is a six months’ margin one way or the other - it does seem absurd, if a young man is found in possession of a cigarette, to make somebody liable to a fine of £20. I submit that this is going a little too far.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether his amendment, if accepted, would make it possible for any cadet to smoke cigarettes.
. -I do not knowwhether it would make it possible for any cadet to smoke cigarettes. There are no doubt some who would be unable to do so.
– Would they have the right to do so under the amendment?
– If honorable senators desire to pass a law to prevent young fellows from smoking, cigarettes, they, should pass a general law for that purpose. Why we should be asked to pick out for a specially restrictive law those who come forward to serve their country, I have to admit passes my comprehension.
– I should like to know whether the Committee is to be given an opportunity to take a direct vote on the proposed new section 123 a.
– The Committee must vote upon the clause as amended.
– But there are portions of the clause which I am in favour of. I should be prepared to strike out one of the proposer] new sections, but I do not wish to assist in striking out parts of the clause that I should like to see retained.
– The Minister might agree to withdraw his amendment to enable the proposed new section 123a to be submitted as amended.
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment if Senator Lynch desires it. I understood the honorable senator was in favour of the clause as it stood in the Bill.
– I am satisfied to let it go.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Tbe CHAIRMAN.-Inotice that Senator W. Russell has changed his seat. He is not at liberty to do so after the tellers have been named.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
When a division has been called for, senators shall take seats on the side of the Senate on which they intend to vote, and shall not move therefrom after the tellers have been appointed until the result of the division has been declared.
I have no alternative but to carry out the standing order.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 December 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091201_senate_3_54/>.