4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if the Commonwealth usually gives preference to Australian timbers in all its contracts ?
– I have been fur7nished by the Department of Home Affairs with the following information on the subject : -
The Government are using Australian timber! for the whole of their works wherever it is possible to use it. In addition, tenders have been invited with a view to purchasing £2,500 worth of timber to be seasoned.
The Department of Home Affairs is making arrangements for the erection of sheds for seasoning this timber.
This timber is more particularly for the use of the Department of Defence for transport vehicles andfor timber to be used for joinery purposes by the Department of Home Affairs.
The instruction which has been issued by the Department of Home Affairs (that Australian timber shall in all cases be used in Federal works when such can be done with structural advantage or economy equal to or greater than could be obtained by the use of imported timbers) has practically secured the exclusive use of Australian timber in works carried out by that Department, and also to a very large extent in those works executed for the Commonwealth Government under that Department’s instructions.
– Have the Government, through their own agencies or throughthe agencies of the States, yet ascertained the acreage and the value of the lands of Australia above £5,000?
– In asking the honorable senator to give notice of the question, I desire to mention that if it is to be replied to in the manner in which it is framed it will be more in the form of a return. I hope that honorable senators, when making such inquiries, will ask for a return.
asked the Minis ter of Defence, upon notice -
To encourage rifle shooting throughout the Commonwealth, will the Minister communicate with the various State Governments with the view of securing free railway passes to enable rifle clubs to hold inter-club matches, and similar concessions to cadets?
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Commonwealth, or in the vicinity of its coasts other than those referred to in such reply ; and if not correct, will he furnish as to such other places, information as to their locations, names, and present prospect of equipment?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– These questions come under the category of a return. I hold in my hand a document which comprises four pages of closely- written figures, and which it took two clerks in the Treasury two days to compile. Consequently I lay it upon the table as a return.
– It is money well laid out.
– I am not doubting that.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster- General, upon notice -
Has he considered the desirability of establishing a parcels insurance fund in connexion with the Parcels Branch of the Post Office, to give greater security for valuable parcels, also as a source of revenue ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
Yes; and it has been decided not to reintroduce the system. In the States in which it was in force prior to Federation, it was little used, and was found to be very unprofitable.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following papers : -
Surplus Revenue : Payments to the States, &c.
Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. - Opinion of the Crown Solicitor of South Australia on the question that the construction of the suggested railway be made entirely through South Australia and the Territory.
Papua - Ordinances of1910 -
No. 2. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909-10, No. 5.
No. 3. - To provide for the Appointment of a Deputy Chief Judicial Officer.
No. 4. - Mining Ordinance Amendment.
Public Service Act 1902. - Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. Frederick John Quinlan to the position of Chief Clerk, 2nd Class, Clerical Division, Department of External Affairs.
– It has not to my knowledge been printed, but in order to obviate the delay incidental to a reference to the Printing Committee, I move -
That the document be printed.
Question resolvedin the affirmative.
Naval Defence Expenditure : Payments from Treasurer’s Advance - High Commissioner -High Commissioner’s Staff - Advertising the Commonwealth : Immigration - Defence : Borrowing Policy.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
I agree with Senator Gould that it would be a very good thing if we could have the Appropriation Bill passed at the commencement of the session, and so obviate the necessity for bringing forward Supply Bills. When I was a member of the Parliament of South Australia it was the custom to vote three months’ Supply immediately the session was opened,and thus provide the funds for carrying on the business of the country until the Estimates could be dealt with. Under existing conditions Supply Bills seem to be a necessity. There is no other way of providing the funds for carrying on the public services of the Commonwealth. I shall try when the Estimates are tabled to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss them simultaneously with another place so that they may carry out what they believe to be their duty in connexion with the finances of the country. This Supply Bill differs from the last only in providing for two months instead of for one month’s supply. It is quite possible that we shall have the Estimates and the Appropriation i]3111 before us before it will be necessary for the Government to ask for any more money to carry on the public services for the financial year. The amount asked for in this Bill is not double what was provided for in the one month’s Supply Bill already passed. The Government are now asking for £1,280,876. We are asking for £910,876 for the ordinary services, based on last year’s Estimates. The principal item of an extraordinary character in the Bill is a vote of £350,000 to the Treasurer’s Advance. That may be said to be an enormous amount in view of the fact that by the last Supply Bill we granted the Treasurer an advance of £250,000. But the unusual character of the vote is explained by the existing circumstances. The people and Parliament of Australia have adopted a naval policy in connexion with which the Government are under an obligation to spend a certain amount of money on the construction of the proposed naval unit. The late Government gave orders for the building of certain vessels of war, and made provision to meet the necessary expenditure by passing a Loan Act. They were entitled to do so as it was in accordance with their policy. It is the policy of the present Government, however, to repeal the Naval Loan Act and provide the money for this purpose out of revenue.’ Honorable senators must recognise that we are called upon now to deal with conditions arising from the action of the previous Government. The Naval Loan Act has been repealed, and we have to meet the obligations entered into by the late Government. These involve the payment of £70,000- a month towards the construction of the armoured cruiser. By the beginning of January we shall have to provide £490,000 for these payments, and unless we pass a sufficient amount now the Government will not be in a position to send the money Home in time to meet these obligations. A Trea surer who did not make the necessary provision in ample time to meet these payments in London would not be carrying out his duties to the country. If this sum of £490,000 be taken from the £600,000 represented by the two votes in the last and in this Supply Bill for the Treasurer’s Advance of £250,000 and £300,000, it will be found that to meet contingencies arising in Australia a sum of only £110,000 is placed at the disposal of the Treasurer, which is very much less than any previous Treasurer had at his disposal to meet payments during a similar period. Honorable senators will therefore see that there is really nothing extraordinary in asking in the Supply Bill for a Treasurer’s Advance of £350,000.
– It is somewhat extraordinary that the honorable senator should misstate the facts. The Naval Loan Act has not yet been repealed.
– So far as the present Government is concerned, the Naval Loan Act has practically been repealed. It may not yet be actually repealed, but every one recognises that in a few days it will be, and the Treasurer would not be justified in depending upon it to raise the £490,000, which must be provided to meet payments due in London before January next. Some honorable senators may suggest that we should provide for contingencies of this description by special legislation, and should pass a special Appropriation Bill to cover necessary payments in connexion with the construction of the war vessels. The Government do not hold that view at present. The urgency of existing circumstances makes it impossible to take that course now; but should it be found necessary to ask for a special appropriation to meet the cost of the construction of the naval unit, or of a further development of naval defence, credit will be given by that legislation for the £490,000 which will be spent from the Treasurer’s Advance. In view of the urgency of the matter, I think that no serious objection can be raised to the action of the Treasury Department. There is one other item of an unusual character in this Supply Bill, and that is a vote of £20,000 for Refunds of Revenue. Some honorable senators may not be aware of the purposes to which this vote is supplied. If, for instance, a large number of people arrive in Australia with postage stamps for which they require money, the amount so paid is regarded as a refund of revenue.
Transactions of a similar character render it necessary that the Government should ask for a vote of £20,000 in this Supply Bill. As it is necessary that the Bill should be passed expeditiously, so that money may be placed at the disposal of the Treasurer, and that we may get on with other business equally important, I hope the discussion will be as brief as possible, without curtaining the privileges of any member of theSenate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.26].-I am sure that honorable senators will raise no objection to the voting of two months’ Supply for the purposes of the public services of the country. But the protest which I raised a few moments ago is one with which they can sympathize, in view of the special vote of £350,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance, which is being asked for in this Bill. It deserves much more consideration than the Vice-President of the Executive Council seems to think necessary. I should like to know, in connexion with this matter of naval construction, whether it is the intention of the ‘Government to carry out in its entirety the scheme of naval construction contemplated by the late Government; that is to say, the construction of a Dreadnought, cruisers, submarines, and torpedoboat destroyers?
– The Minister of Defence may have a word to say upon that subject.
– In discussing this Bill, we should know whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the proposals of the late Government in their entirety.
– The Government intend to carry out the contracts entered into by the late Government.
– I wish to know whether contracts for all the ships of the proposed naval unit have been entered into?
– I cannot discuss the whole policy now.
– We are going to build the rest of the ships in Australia.
– I do not care whether they are built in Australia or in England, so long as they are built. Apparently, the Government are not yet prepared to disclose their intentions in connexion with naval defence. We know that their intention some time ago was to provide merely for coastal defence, and that they did not propose to acquire any deep-sea ships.
– We have a policy for deep-sea ships. The honorable senator should know that.
– I am very much mistaken if the policy of the Government, as disclosed to this House, went beyond providing a large number of ships for coastal defence. I think it did not include any ships capable of proceeding to a great distance to take part in the naval battles of the Empire.
– We proposed the construction of cruisers for policing the South Seas.
– We did not propose to send cruisers to the North Sea.
– I have heard nothing which indicated that the present Government were prepared to secure such a ship as the Dreadnought which is being built at the present time.
– It is not a Dreadnought; it is a cruiser.
– It is only quibbling to say that the cruiser now being built is not a Dreadnought, because it is of similar type to the original Dreadnought. The Government say that they intend to carry out contracts already entered into, and in connexion with which a legal obligation has been incurred. As ships contracted for, they have, of course, to be built and paid for. But it is very important that we should know at the earliest possible moment what the policy of the Government is.
– So the honorable senator will know.
– The Government have had sufficient time to determine whether they intend to carry out in its entirety the scheme laid before the late Parliament, and we ought to be informed of their intentions at the earliest possible moment.
– Hear, hear; so the honorable senator will be.
– While the Vice-President of the Executive Council told us that the policy of the Government is entirely different from that of the late Government with regard to the payment for the naval unit, we must, at any rate, recognise that the late Government did make provision for payment for the vessels by means of a loan. The present Government say that the vessels are to be paid for out of current revenue. Their theory may be a very good one from their stand-point. But in connexion with the inauguration of a new Defence policy, in which large sums have to be provided, I maintain that the policy is wrong. I shall, however, have more to say on that question when the Naval Loan Repeal Bill is before the Senate. It must be recognised that, as provision for payment was made by the late Government, we have a right to expect the present Government to tell us not merely that they intend to pav for the construction of the vessels out of current revenue, but how they are going to raise the revenue to meet the payments when they become due. It is expected that within two years the whole of the ships ordered will be in commission and in Australian waters. It is to be assumed that they will cost between £3,500,000 and £4,000,000.
– They will not be built in one year. .
– No; but they will be built within two years, and of course, we cannot build men-of-war on credit. We must pay as we go on.
– We cannot build many in a year, either.
– I agree with the honorable senator there. The Minister has told us that £70,000 has to be paid monthly in respect of existing contracts. I believe that the only contract at present in force is that for the construction of the large battleshipcruiser, which is to cost something like £2,000,000. How is that to be paid for? With regard to the Treasurer’s Advance, the Government know perfectly well how much money they require to pay for the ships. Why do they not place the amount in the regular way on the Estimates, and not cover up the payments under the head ing of “Treasurer’s Advance”? The Treasurer’s Advance is intended to meet unforeseen expenditure. But this is a debt accruing month by month. The Government know perfectly well the amounts that have to be paid, and when they become due. I contend that specific amounts ought to be provided for on the Estimates, so as to give the Senate a better opportunity of criticising expenditure, and discussing the policy pursued regarding the Navy that we hope to see “in being” before long.
– I said that we require £70,000 a month.
– But why is not the expenditure provided for in the Estimates as a specific vote?
– What difference does it make?
– The Government will be at liberty in two months’ time to say that they want a quarter of a million more for the Treasurer’s Advance, and we may ultimately discover that the money has not been spent upon the ships. The Government are not obliged by the terms of this Bill to spend the money in any particular way. They may, if they think fit, spend it on some other object.
– How could they?
– Because no particular object to which the Treasurer’s Advance is to be devoted is specified in the Bill. Of course, if the Government were to commit a breach of faith Parliament could, theoretically, turn round and say, “ We no longer have any trust in you, and you may go about your business.” But I cannot imagine honorable members opposite assuming that attitude towards the present Ministry. I remind the Senate that we can deal with any Bill providing for the expenditure of money on ships just as we can deal with a Bill providing for the construction of public works or buildings. But the Senate cannot amend a Bill making provision for the ordinary annual services of the Government. We are now putting in the hands of the Government the right to spend money on the construction of public works without our authority. All that we shall be called upon to do is to ratify what the Treasurer may have done with the money taken from the Treasurer’s Advance, instead of our having an opportunity in the first instance of saying whether we approve of any particular public work that the Government may propose. In any case a large Treasurer’s Advance is a dangerous thing for the Senate to agree to. By giving this power to the Treasurer we take from the Senate absolutely the power of saying what public works it may see fit to authorize. It will be of little use to us afterwards to be called upon to condone the actions of the Treasurer in spending this money. I. trust that, at any rate, Ministers who represent the Senate in the Cabinet will see to it that no money is spent out of the Treasurer’s Advance on public works or buildings that ought to be contingent upon a vote of this Chamber. I also take exception to the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the amount of the Treasurer’s Advance is smaller than has been the case on some previous occasions. We are now in the second month of the financial year, and we are called upon to vote ,£i 10,000 apart from the ,£490,000 which the Minister tells us must be spent in connexion with naval construction. In two months’ time another Supply Bill will come before us. It will then be open for Minsters to ask for a further sum of money which the Treasurer may spend as he pleases. Of course, we know that the Government are supported by a number of honorable senators who are prepared to assist them to the fullest extent of their power. But they cannot get rid of their responsibility to their States and their constituents, who trust them to see that the business of the country is properly conducted. We know that the Treasurer must have a certain amount of money at command to meet unforeseen contingencies. But I again say that this naval expenditure ought not to be provided for in the manner proposed. We ought to insist upon it that no public works shall be carried out by the Government from the Treasurer’s Advance. This method has been adopted because the Government have been either too careless or too negligent as to the proper way of dealing with the finances of the country. I trust that in future they will adopt a sounder principle. In the meantime we shall, I suppose, have to give them as free a hand as is possible in the circumstances.
– I wish to draw the attention of “the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the fact that he is asking the Senate to take on a very large order in voting the sum of £350,000 to which reference has been made. We know, as a matter of history, what the .£350,000 is required for. But the inevitable question arises : Where are the Government going to get the money required for naval defence from?
– Out of the current revenue.
– But the Government have not shown us the means by which they are going to get the money out of current revenue. With them it is not so much a matter of revenue as of policy. The expenditure of the ,£350,000 is inextricably interwoven with their policy. We have to consider two things - First, that as to the expenditure of this particular money the policy of the Government is entirely different from that of the late Government. Consequently, when they ask for an advance of £350,000 to the Treasurer, which must be contingent upon that policy, and is, more or less, a reversal of the policy of the late Government, they ought to be able at this stage to tell us how they intend to find the money. The late Government pointed out distinctly to the Parliament, and afterwards to the country, how the money was to be raised, and the purpose to which it was to be applied, but the present Government come down and say, “ While on the whole we are going to carry out the policy of the late Government, so far as the building of a fleet is concerned, we will not announce how the money is to be obtained.” That is scarcely dealing fairly with the Senate. The Parliament will never have the Executive under proper control while it has not complete knowledge of what is to be done with the public funds. The people through their representatives have the right to know exactly why they are to be taxed, and in what form the taxation is to be imposed. It is apparent that the Government are now violating that principle. Senator McGregor may retort that this is not the first time that this course has been taken. I do not know how many blacks will make a white, but it is time that a strong protest was entered against this growing practice of demanding a very large sum for the Treasurer’s Advance. I am not aware of the responsibilities of the Government, inherited or direct, with regard to the building of a fleet. If a contract has been entered into for the building of cruisers and other ships, to what extent is the Commonwealth committed? Who are the contractors, and how far has the contract been completed? Are the present Government committed to the expenditure of the whole of the amount which the late Government proposed to raise by loan? Are we to have one cruiser of the Indomitable type as they proposed, or are we to have three or more cruisers “of the Bristol type? Are these vessels being built? Not one item of information on those points has yet been supplied from the Treasury bench, but we are asked to vote ,£350,000 blindfold.
– The honorable senator should have asked the previous Government what contracts they were entering into.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That Government is dead, and we want to know what contracts have been entered into.
– We want to know what contracts the present Government have entered into, or are entering into, or are committed to by reason of what the late Government have done. All that happened in the last Parliament was that authority was given to raise a loan of £3,500,000 to be devoted to a certain purpose. We know that some contracts have been let, but what is the direct effect of them?
– Is the honorable senator speaking of the loan of three and a-half millions which he told the people of England had been floated?
– I do not know that I did so, but if I did the interjection is not relevant to the question under discussion. If the Government will not at this stage disclose how they will find ways and means to carry out the naval construction scheme of the late Government at least they ought to tell us now how far they are pledged under the contracts of the late Government, and how far the process of construction has reached. I am not inclined to allow this Bill to pass without getting specific information on those most importantpoints with regard to the contract. It seems to me that as an essential condition of the request for an advance vote of £350,000 the Minister should have furnished full information in the first instance. I take it, however, that it must have been an unintentional omission on his part, and I hope that it will be supplied before the Bill is read a first time.
– I am surprised to find that there is a want of knowledge as to what I thought to be current news by members of the Opposition regarding the contract for which a vote is sought in this Bill. The particulars of the contract and all information regarding the cost have been published in the press time after time. The speeches of Senators Gould and St. Ledger seemed to be intended to convey the impression that there has been some attempt at a conspiracy of silence on that subject by the Government.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould.- - Where should we get our information but in the Senate?
– The reason why the figures have not been given in this debate is because we assumed that they had been read by everybody in the press.
– Is the whole of the £350,000 to be paid on account of ships?
– No. In the last Supply Bill we obtained a Treasurer’s Advance of £250,000, and in this Bill we ask for an advance of £350,000. Of that sum of £600,000, £490,000 is allocated to meet a monthly payment of £70,000 to the contractors for the construction of an armoured cruiser. That will carry on the payments until January next. The desire of the Government is to remit the money to London in order to meet the payments as they fall due.
– Is the balance required for other purposes?
– The balance is the ordinary advance which is obtained for general purposes, and does not exceed the usual vote.
– It has nothing to do with torpedo boat destroyers or warships?
– It has nothing to do with extraordinary expenditure in connexion with defence. The contract price for the armoured cruiser is, hull, £858,000; guns £124,925, auxiliary machinery £22,650, gun mounting and torpedo tubes (estimated) £300,000, propelling and other machinery (approximately) £400,000. It is estimated that the other expenditure on examination of guns, spare parts, side arms, ammunition, and maxims, will bring the cost, up to the end of 191 2, to about £1,734,910. The agreement entered into by the late Government committed the Commonwealth to that expenditure for the armoured cruiser. At the Imperial Naval and Military Conference a proposal for a naval unit for Australia was brought up. Besides an armoured cruiser of the Indefatigable type it included several vessels of a smaller type. The proposal was that the unit, as a whole, should be completed at the end of 19 12. In orderto achieve that object the Department was advised by the Admiralty that it would not be necessary to enter into any contracts for the construction of the other vessels until a later date. That is to say, if the present Government decide to take up that unit in its entirety it is not yet necessary to enter into any contracts in order to hare the whole of the unit in commission after the end of 191 2. Surely, in a Supply Bill, which has reference to one cruiser of the unit, the Government are not called upon to ask the Parliament for the money necessary to carry out its whole naval policy. There is no desire or intention on our .part to needlessly delay the announcement of that policy. During this session a Bill will be introduced to deal with naval matters. Either on that occasion or in connexion with the Budget speech an opportunity will be given to the Government to announce their naval policy. Obviously, that is the proper time to make our statements.
– The weak point of the Minister’s admission is that the Government do not want the whole of the money until January next.
– It must be remitted to London. Honorable senators must recognise that in the case of a large contract, although the payments are spread over seven months, in some months they will be heavier than in others. Obviously, it is right to have sufficient money at call in London to meet our obligations.
– The Government are going to remit the money and lose all interest thereon.
– I take it that the Treasurer has looked at the question all round, and his advisers are of the opinion that this is the proper course to take in order to meet our financial obligations.
– Are the Government proposing to spend ,£1,750,000 out of current revenue this year?
– No, by the end of
– I am informed that if a vote were not taken in this Bill it would be necessary to make provision for this payment before the next Supply Bill came before the Senate. In answer to the question put by Senator Vardon, I may say that the payments will be made out of the Consolidated Revenue for the year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read, a first time.
Bill read’ a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
– I see that no vote is included in this Supply Bill for the High Commissioner’s office. I should like to know the reason for that.
– No vote is required.
– I notice a vote towards the expenses of administration of Papua. I should like to know whether the sum here asked for is additional to ths annual vote of £20,000 passed for this purpose.
– A portion of the vote asked for in this Bill is not included in the £20,000.
– The proposed vote for the External Affairs Department gives me an opportunity to clear up a point I raised some time ago. I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council last week whether the Government intended to put any money on the Estimates for the purpose of advertising the Commonwealth, in order to encourage immigration. My attention has been called to a vote of £6,400 in this schedule for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, and that probably will meet the purpose to which I wished to direct special attention. I intended to make a speech on the question of immigration, but I must admit that a vote of £6,400 to meet expenditure for a period of two months, under the head of “ Advertising resources of Commonwealth,” indicates that the present Government - though it is not saying much for them - are ai least as alive to the vital question of immigration as were their predecessors. In the circumstances, I am disposed to defer what I intended to say on this subject for a more favorable opportunity. I trust that the present Government will signalize their accession to office by proposing a marked increase in the vote for advertising the Commonwealth.
– Is the honorable senator in order in discussing the question of immigration at this stage?
– The honorable senator is quite in order.
- Senator Barker at once feels raw when I speak about immigration. He interrupted me at a time when I was complimenting the present Government upon the comparatively generous vote which appears in this Bill for the purpose of advertising the resources of the Common weal th. Surely I am in order in asking that the Government shall continue in a similarly generous frame of mind throughout the year? I, personally, hope that the vote proposed for this purpose will be doubled, or trebled. I trust that the Government will take advantage of every opportunity to give a somewhat unexpected object lesson to other Governments in Australia by surpassing the efforts of their predecessors in dealing with this question.
– ls it possible for Australia to have a better advertisement than knowledge of the fact that a Labour Government is in office?
- Senator de Largie is fishing for a compliment, but I am sorry that I cannot go further than I have already gone. If this vote of £6,400 is added to or multiplied later on I shall be prepared to compliment the Government more highly than I feel able to do now. The President of the United States has talked about the great modern tendency, which is disturbing the mind of every thinker of to-day, to what is called race suicide. I know of only one danger greater than that to society, especially in Australia. Disastrous as race suicide may be, it would, in my opinion, be a far greater evil not to encourage our own kindred to come to this country, because such a course would amount to the greater social crime of national suicide.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Government the necessity of encouraging, as far as possible, the employment of Australians in the High Commissioner’s office. We should see that preference is given in the employment of officers in the London offices of the Commonwealth to men who, if they are not Australian by birth or adoption, are familiar with Australian ideals, and capable of carrying out the duties required of diem. On a former occasion, I mentioned that the High Commissioner of Australia, for whom, personally, I have every respect, set a very bad example when he overlooked Australia in the appointment of his private secretary. Seeing that the people of Australia placed him in his present position as the ambassador of the Commonwealth, he should have appointed an Australian to the position. In saying this, I do not wish to say anything derogatory to the man who was appointed to the post, but if it is the policy of Australia to give preference to Australian industries, we should see that preference is given to Australians in the employment of officials in the High Commissioner’s office. I wish also to say that I believe Australia’s ambassador at the heart of the Empire made a big mistake when he slandered one of the political parties in the Commonwealth to-day. There are only two political parties in the Federal arena, the Fusion party, which is almost extinct, and the Labour party. The London Times has published a statement by the High Commissioner that one of these parties is in favour of conserving the sovereign rights of the States, and that the other party is in favour of invading them.
– I do not think the honorable senator will be in order in dis cussing that matter on the question before the Committee.
– I am discussing the vote for the Department of External Affairs, which includes the High Commissioner’s office, and I do not know that it would be right for me to discuss the matter upon any other vote in the schedule. I remind honorable senators that the High’ Commissioner of Australia has exceeded his duty in dabbling in party politics.
– On a point of order, I think that the honorable senator is not in order in discussing the conduct of the High Commissioner. No portion of that officer’s salary is included in this Bill, and, strictly speaking, I think that his action cannot be brought under consideration at this time. The conduct of the office generally may be open to discussion, but not, I think, the individual actions of the High Commissioner.
– Is Senator Needham not in order in discussing the matter in connexion with the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, which is largely administered by the High Commissioner’s office? I think it is impossible to separate the duties of the High Commissioner, and that his duties in connexion with the vote which appears in the schedule involve the whole matter at issue.
– Senator Barker has failed to notice the point I raised. What may be done in the High Commissioner’s office, and the- way in which the advertising of the Commonwealth is carried on, may be open to discussion, but the individual action of the High Commissioner is not, I think, open to discussion on this schedule.
– The vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth may, or may not, involve action by the High Commissioner. -,Some of the money may be spent in Australia ; some in other parts of the world, and some in Great Britain, under the supervision of the High Commissioner. I think it would have been better if Senator Needham had made the remarks he wishes to make on the first reading of the Bill. As he will have a number of opportunities before the close of the session to give utterance to all he wishes to say on the subject, I think it would be wiser for the honorable senator to forego any discussion of the matter now.
– The wisdom of the course I am taking is not in question. The real question is whether I am in order in continuing my argument on the schedule before the Committee.
– No; the honorable senator is not.
– Senator McGregor is not the Chairman.
– The honorable senator may proceed, and if I think he is not in order I shall say so.
– I was saying that the right honorable gentleman who is now High Commissioner of Australia has dabbled in party politics. He has dubbed the Labour party as being anxious to endanger the sovereign rights of the States. I ask the Government of the day to instruct this gentleman that it is no part of his duty to dabble in politics, but to do the best he can at the heart of the Empire to advance the interests of Australia. We are asked to vote money to advertise the resources of the Commonwealth, and in this connexion I think the High Commissioner has neglected the defence of Australia when globe-trotters have slandered this country at Home. One gentleman who came here writes books. I allude to Mr. Foster Fraser. He spent a few days in some of the clubs of this country, and went back to London and slandered this young land in an unwarrantable manner. I should have thought that the first man to defend the reputation of Australia would have been Sir George Reid. But no; he allowed this work to be done by Mr. Coghlan, the Agent-General of New South Wales, who is still continuing the campaign. I hope that the Government will define the duties of the High Commissioner somewhat more carefully. I think that any High Com missioner worth his salt would not have done what I say the present High Commissioner has done.
– Will the Government tell us exactly how they intend to spend the money appropriated for advertising ? A good deal was spent some time ago on advertising in a newspaper called the Standard of Emfire. That advertisement was condemned as being money wasted. I think that very likely it was rightly condemned. But how do the Government propose to spend this money on advertising Australia? Are there to be advertisements in newspapers, or travelling lecturers, or are pamphlets to be disseminated ? How is it intended to make known throughout the length and breadth of the Old Land what the resources of Australia are, and what conditions persons desirous of settling here may expect? I have no doubt that the money can be wiselyspent, but it can also be frittered away without any good purpose being attained.
– I trust that the Government will see that the officer intrusted with advertising Australia is kept under close supervision. The statement sometimes made by honorable members opposite, to the effect that the members of die Labour party are opposed to immigrants coming tome Commonwealth, is pure twaddle. But a good deal of the advertising that hastaken place has been of such a character that those responsible for it ought to havebeen put in gaol. There are people in Australia now, in every one of the States, T believe - but I have met them personally irc New South Wales - who have been lured to Australia by false, lying advertisements. We know that advertising generally, under the rotten commercial system under which we live, is mostly plain lying.- That statement is proved easily enough from the fact, that in nearly every business each person, claims that his goods are the best on themarket, and that there is nothing fit to compete with them.
– Did the honorablesenator say “ plain “ lying?
– Plain and fancy ; I meant absolute lying; it is not plain inthat sense. I trust that any advertisingthat is allowed by the present Governmentwill be of such a character that it can be defended as being absolutely truthful. I’ should prefer that matters should beunder rather than overcoloured ; because - we all know what a bad thing it is to have- expectations aroused that cannot be gratified. It is a matter of common knowledge in New South Wales, and, I believe, in every other State also, that people who have been induced to come to this country on representations being made to them that they could get constant employment at higher wages than prevailed in their industries in the Old Country, have been sadly disillusioned. No bigger lies than such as those could be told. There are thousands of people in this country who are eminently qualified to settle on the land, who are acquainted with all our conditions, and who know all the devious ways of getting land, but who still are unable to obtain it. Yet people have been brought to Australia on false and lying pretences which induced them to believe that land could easily be obtained here. While I have the greatest respect and admiration for Sir George Reid as a man, we can never forget the fact that he is a lawyer. Being a lawyer does not in itself condemn a man, but Sir George Reid is also an expolitician.
– Ah, that settles him !
– Furthermore, he is an “ anti-sosh “ man. That pretty well fills up his cup of iniquity. Sir George Reid is possessed of great eloquence and verypersuasive powers. I have no doubt that he could paint the lily and represent Australia as a veritable paradise. The press of the Old Country reports his orations, and spreads them broadcast throughout the United Kingdom.
– He cannot paint Australia brighter than it is.
– Australia is bright enough, and I should be the last to say a word against it. It is, however, easy to raise expectations that give intending immigrants an entirely false view of the country. When we find people arriving here, many of them with young children dependent upon them, who have been induced to come on representations that were made to them, and when we learn that no attempt is made to fulfil the expectations held out to them, we cannot but admit that they have been badly deceived. I hope that the present Government will exercise, not only a tighter hand over advertisements than the late Government did, but will even exercise a stricter supervision than did the previous Labour Administration; because advertisements were published at that time which were indefensible.
– Those advertisements were published under contract.
– It would be better for the Government to pay compensation rather than allow misleading advertisements to appear. If advertising contracts have been entered into by previous Governments, I trust that, rather than allow the facts about Australia to be misrepresented, the Government will pay what is due under the contracts, and withdraw the advertisements. I totally deny that we are opposed to the introduction of fresh arrivals; but I do not want any one to come to this country unless he has a clear understanding of the facts. I do not think that any honest man of any party can wish people to be induced to come to Australia who will ‘be doomed to disappointment through the representations made to them not’ being in strict accordance with the facts. I repeat that if there is any departure from fact whatever, it should rather be in the direction of minimizing than overwriting the present conditions of the Commonwealth.
– - It is only just to honorable senators who have made inquiries that I should indicate what I know about the matters to which they have referred. With respect to advertising, I would say, in answer to Senator Vardon, that no definite or comprehensive policy has yet been determined upon by the Government. Certain arrangements have been made for taking photographs of Australia and exhibiting them in the Old Country, in order to give an exact view of the condition of affairs here.Senator St. Ledger is anxious to know the policy qf the Government with respect to immigration. There is nothing in the present Bill relating to immigration. But one thing I should say, and that is that we hope that the policy of the Government, if carried into effect, will cause such conditions to arise in Australia as will make every immigrant and every visitor to the Commonwealth sing its praises in every other part of the world. That is the best means of inducing people to come here. We honestly believe that such will be the effect of our policy when legislative form is given to it. As to the remarks of Senator Rae, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion with respect to his views, because, in the first instance, he told us that all advertising is lying.
– No; the greater part.
– Afterwards the honorable senator said that we ought to issue true advertisements.
– If we issue any.
– I apologize to the honorable senator if I mistook his meaning. I should like to point out, with respect to any misunderstanding that may :have arisen, that contracts were entered into with the Standard of Empire for the publication of certain advertisements relat-ing to Australia. Those contracts were entered into before the’ Fisher Government came into office. We could not very well interfere with them. A couple of months -elapsed before we saw the advertisements in Australia, and the errors in them were “recognised. But whatever advertisements may be published in England to the effect that Australia is a land of sunshine, where there is very little winter, and where people can live in the open all the year round, are absolutely true. I should not like any «one to publish any other opinion of Australia. But I can assure Senator Rae that the money voted for advertising will be spent by the present Government to the best advantage. Furthermore, it is the policy of this Government to endeavour to bring about conditions that will make for the happiness and prosperity of our people ; and that in itself will be the best advertisement for the Commonwealth.
– Why spend any money on advertising until we have created those conditions ?
– I would call the honorable senator’s attention to facts that were elicited in answer to a question by Senator St. Ledger, who is always thirsting for information. He first wanted to know what was spent on immigration, and was told’ “ Nothing.” Then he wanted to know what was spent in advertising. A sum of ^20,000 was put on the Estimates for that purpose, and £8, no was spent. That was not all spent by the present Government. A good portion of it was spent by the previous Government. That fact shows that, although the money was placed on the Estimates, very little of it was spent. In the same way, although there is a vote on the present Estimates, unless the Government see a good chance of spending some of the money to the advantage of the people of Australia, it will not be spent. I should like to add that, although there is no vote in the present Bill for the purpose, it is the intention of the Government to place on the Estimates a sum of money to provide for the holding of the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Australia. When the Estimates-in-Chief come before the Senate there will be an opportunity of expressing an opinion on that subject.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [4.43].- Honorable senators opposite say that they do not desire immigrants to be attracted to Australia by lying advertisements. We can all agree with them in that respect. But it must be borne in mind that if we wish to bring population into Australia we must spend money on advertising. No country in the world is getting more attention just now than is Canada. The attention she is receiving is. largely the’ result of advertising, not only in the columns of the press, but also by means of lectures and illustrated views. It may be that some of the advertisements are rather highly coloured. But if Australia has to take that place to which she is entitled she must spend a little money at the other end of the world in making known the resources and value of this great country. Any man who has been in England recently will be aware that people know all about Canada, but precious little about Australia.
– The best advertisement we can have is the reports sent by immigrants who have done well in Australia.
– But they must be brought here first, and money must be spent on advertising if we are to attract people. The population of Canada has been increasing by hundreds of thousands a year. People who have been in Canada twenty or thirty years do not complain of this great stream of immigration, because, by bringing in these persons and promoting the development of the country, they are benefiting every citizen. In my opinion, one of the mistakes which our people make is in wanting to see every man in the community fully employed before they bring in any immigrants. They seem to forget that every immigrant provides work for other persons, and that it is to the advantage of the community generally that the country should be developed. People of all classes ought to be only too glad to welcome immigrants. It may be said that there are some persons whom we do not want here, but it must be admitted that we need more bone and sinew to develop our untilled fields, and make Australia the rich and wealthy country she is entitled to be. I hope that honorable senators will always realize that the vote for advertising the. Commonwealth is one of the cheapest forms of promoting the interests of every person therein, and that they will encourage the Government to’ devote as much money as possible to that purpose.
– I do not wish to discuss the question of immigration, but to point out that under our present method each State can advertise in its own way. No matter what the Commonwealth may do in the matter of publishing facts to the world, there is a tendency on the part of each State to place before people in England and on the Continent its view of its own resources and attractions, which is always more or less misleading. Not so long ago the statement was circulated that 5,000 agricultural labourers were needed in a certain State, and that immediately they landed they would obtain work at certain wages. A communication was sent out to ascertain whether the statement could be verified. While the Commonwealth and the States spend large sums in advertising this conflict will continue. The Commonwealth Government should have control of all the advertising for the States. I trust that some attempt will be made by the former to overcome the difficulty, so that the conflict ot effort and disparity of statement may not continue. The utmost should be done to advertise Australia in a reasonable and legitimate way; but people should not be induced to come here by promises which cannot be fulfilled.
– I desire to say a few words about an advertisement which appeared in a Queensland paper known as The Australian Sugar Journal, .and which asked for 100 men to assist in the cane-fields. It drew 130 applicants from Tasmania, and from one town only therein. The applicants were all good men, and in the vicinity of their town there is land occupied by one or two men which should carry thousands of farmers.
.- I can substantiate every word which the last speaker has uttered. Although the men who applied for the work on the Queensland cane-fields knew little or nothing about the local conditions, there was at once a rush for employment. When we iri
Tasmania hear the cry of immigration mentioned we are a little sceptical. We have lost nearly 40,000 of our native born. Owing to land monopoly, our young men, and more particularly our farmers, are leaving us in thousands, and will continue to do so until we make available to them some of that fine land than which there is no better in the Commonwealth. I believe that as soon as we have stopped the drift from Tasmania there will be room for immigrants. But I do not like to hear the cry of immigration so often voiced when its advocates do not seem to be in earnest about making the conditions better for the people who already live here. As soon as. those conditions are improved, then I arn, sure that we shall find’ room for plenty more persons. In Tasmania we regard the question of immigration with quite a dubious eye. I have no objection to the introduction of the right class of immigrants, provided that they are given decent facilities. Until proper inducements are offered, I must: commend the Government for refusing republish advertisements which are highly coloured. I believe that the truth should be told. I know several instances in point. Quite recently, I received from a man in Scotland a letter asking for information about Tasmania, because he had seen in the English press certain advertisements about Australia. He had formed an entirely erroneous impression about the conditions pertaining in Australia, not from Tasmania’s advertisements, but from the Commonwealth’s advertisements. He thought that he had only to come out here to find an El Dorado. He believed that on his arrival he could obtain any quantity of land, and that he would be bound, not only to get -on, but to make money quickly. I supplied him with a plain statement of facts. In the north-eastern portion of Tasmania I met two Canadian immigrants, who said that they had come out -because of advertisements which they had seen. They were so disgusted at finding that the conditions depicted in the advertisements were not correct that they packed up straight-away and went to New Zealand. I do not know whether they settled there or not. Such cases have been quite common to my knowledge. In another part of Tasmania I met a man who cameout with nothing.
– He is well off now.
– No. Some Tasmanians had to subscribe a little money to enable him to leave the State. I hope that in the future the Government will keep a tight eye on the advertisements which appear in reference to immigration. We want farmers and persons with a little capital, but I object to men being brought out here under what are practically false pretences, and who, on their arrival, are driven to resort to begging. I object to the labour market being flooded with cheap labour. If the Commonwealth Government could control the advertising, those persons who thought of coming to Australia would know exactly what to expect when they arrived here.
– I indorse a great deal of what has been said by honorable senators on the other side as to advertising Australia. I think that the Government should do their utmost to see that no false representations are made, at least from Australia, with regard to the opportunities and advantages which it offers to immigrants. Those who, from Australia, circulate in the newspapers of the Old Country the statement that this is a sort of capital-cursed country and the worst place in the world for people to come to, and that at present it is not a very desirable place for an immigrant who is honest and industrious are guilty of disseminating information which is absolutely false. On the whole, I believe that Australia should be freely advertised as regards the opportunities which it affords to immigrants. I know of no country which offers a better chance to a white man with brain, honesty, and capacity for work than does Australia. I wonder that it does not sometimes occur to honorable senators on the other side, when they are talking about the difficulty of getting land or employment, or the hardships which men suffer when they come here, that they are doing an injury to our effort to increase our population with men of a kindred race. We have devoted a large amount of time and money to an effort to better the condition of the worker. I think that we have succeeded in many respects in accomplishing our object. To that extent, the gentlemen who occupy the opposite benches are entitled to a large share of credit, but they by no means have a monopoly of the credit. If we are to believe some of the statements which appear in the newspapers from men who represent to some extent the opinions of honorable senators opposite, this is the most wretched place on earth to come to.
– Those statements are false, if any one has ever made them.
– I have seen statements which are almost literally to that effect. It is unfair to intending immigrants for the States or the Commonwealth to misrepresent or exaggerate our opportunities. It is an equally grave offence for any person in Australia to misrepresent our conditions for the purpose of preventing immigration. Judging by the deposits in Savings Banks, and by the increase of insurances for the last ten years, the general conditions of the people of Australia have vastly improved. Surely it must be to the advantage of the community that the world should know plain facts which are a credit to Australia?
– Is not an official advertisement taken much more notice of than an irresponsible one?
– No doubt. A misrepresentation in an official advertisement will do far more harm than probably any misrepresentation which a private individual might make. The Government of the Commonwealth are entitled to scrutinize very carefully all statements, because it is not to the interest of the Commonwealth or of the States to induce immigrants to come here by any kind of pretence. In Canada there is a law dealing with immigration, in which the facilities to immigrants are set forth at length. But it contains a provision to the effect that any person in Canada who circulates false information outside the Dominion, with a view to induce persons to come, or to prevent persons from coming to the country, is guilty of an offence, which is punishable very heavily.
– The Dominion of Canada exercises absolute control over immigration.
– That is so, but our jurisdiction in the matter of immigration is supreme over that of the States, and the responsibility for making the resources of the Commonwealth known to the rest of the earth is ours. . I hope the Government will do what they can to stop this kind of thing. The fact that we have here the makings of a great nation, and that our progress for the last twenty years has been unparalleled, not only in our own past history, but in the history of contemporary nations, should be made more widely known throughout the world. I hope that we shall see a substantial vote on the Estimates for this purpose, and that the Government will spend every penny of it. There can be no harm in advertising Australia, provided we state the facts clearly. I should be prepared to cooperate in every way to punish those who make false statements with the object of inducing people to come here, and also those who make false statements with regard to our progress and resources, in order to prevent our kith and kin in the Old Land from coming amongst us.
– I think that the Federal Government of to-day have taken the very best possible step to advertise the resources of the Commonwealth by announcing their intention to introduce a Bill providing for a tax on the unimproved value of land. Since I have been a member of the Senate we have had long debates on the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, and in discussing the vote, I have always maintained that until we take measures to burst up the large estates, it is suicidal to invite people to come to this country. The Labour party have always been in favour of a judicious scheme of immigration, but we have always contended that until the lands of Australia are available for our kindred from oversea, it is unwise to invite them to come here.
– Why did the honorable senator come to Australia?
– I came to Australia, and paid my own passage here. I did not come on the cheap, as Senator St. Ledger has admitted he did.
– I did not say that.
– It would be no disgrace to the honorable senator if he did.
– I do not say that it would. Australia invites every man and woman from other lands to come to her shores. I saw what the possibilities of Australia were, and I elected to come here, but I did not ask the people of Australia to- pay my passage, and then as a working man enter into competition wilh the artisans already settled in the country.
– Did not the honorable senator enter into competition with them all the same?
– That is not the point. I wish to try and enlighten Senator St. Ledger. No Government could prevent, or should wish to prevent, any de sirable person from coming to Australia. But what we on this side are against is the taking of money from the taxpayers of Australia to pay the passages to this country of people who, when they arrive here, will enter t into competition with our artisans in an already congested labour market.
– If a private individual finds the money to bring a person out to Australia the competition is the same.
– Unless there is a contract entered into, we have no objection to a private individual finding the money to bring people to Australia. We do object to private individuals bringing people here under contract.
– Canada does not object to that.
– We cannot help what Canada does or does not do. There is no man in the Labour party in Australia to-day who has said that this country is not a good country for people to come to.
– What did Tom Mann say about it?
– Tom Mann is not a member of the Australian Labour party.
– They paid him a good deal of money at one time.
– He is condemning us in England now.
– I go further, and say that he never was a member of the Australian Labour party, and I invite my honorable friend opposite, who wrote a book on this question, to controvert my statement if he can. The very best advertisement we can give of the resources of the Australian Commonwealth is the announcement that the present Federal Government is prepared to place the lands of Australia at the disposal, not only of the people now in this country, but of those who will come here from overseas.
– - I think that the proposed vote of £6,400 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth is altogether too much, unless the money is spent very judiciously. It is only so much waste of money to advertise in the ordinary sense. From time to time we hear comparisons made between Australia and Canada. We are told of the advantageous position which Canada occupies, as compared with Australia; but I have never heard one fact cited to substantiate that statement. The mere fact that more people are going to Canada than are coming to Australia does not make Canada a better country than Australia. A great many more people are leaving Canada than are leaving Australia.
– Not in proportion to the arrivals.
– Yes j I make bold to say that, in proportion to arrivals, there are more people leaving Canada than there are leaving Australia. The eulogistic references made by Senator St. Ledger to the question of immigration generally might have been expected from a representative of any other State but Queensland. Queensland, for the last two generations, has been in the unhappy position of bringing out people who have not remained in the State. For the last forty or fifty years, Queensland has been paying the passages of immigrants, who, immediately after their arrival in the State, have gone south to the other States.
– That was many years ago.
– The same thing is going on to-day. There is no State in the Commonwealth that has spent so much money on immigration as Queensland, and no State that has continued an immigration policy so persistently, but the population of the State has not increased in proportion to the efforts made to increase it by immigration. I know the reason for that. I arrived in Queensland from the Old Country some twenty-three years ago. The practice I have mentioned was going on then, it had been going on for years before my arrival, and it has been going on to a greater or less extent since. -The lands of Queensland, for lack of proper legislation, have not been properly utilized, and will not be until this Parliament takes steps to that end by imposing a substantial tax upon the unimproved value of land. The conditions which I found operating in Queensland on my arrival, and which have been maintained to some extent still, were something like the conditions operating in Tasmania. When Senator Ready referred to Tasmania I felt that he must have been speaking in a sarcastic sense, like the jockey in “ The Arcadians.” when he told the Committee that Tasmania was merry and bright. It must be a merry and bright State from which, as Senator W. Russell has said, it is possible to induce 130 men to go to the northern Queensland cane-fields to work for the wages paid there now.
– Tasmania is a lucky State to be able to get rid of that class of people.
– We are talking now of inducing people to come to the States, not to leave them. The population of Tasmania has remained stationary long enough. That rich and fertile Island presents a most favorable field for development, and ought to be ahead of New Zealand to-day. I have said that the spending of money on advertising the resources of the Commonwealth is but useless waste if we do not take steps to improve industrial conditions in Australia. It would be better to spend this money in bringing about conditions which would induce people to come here. It is unnecessary to advertise good times. If we make our industrial conditions such as will induce people to come here, the people of other countries will soon get to know it. We have proof of that in the experience of Western Australia. It was not necessary to advertise the fact that miners in Western Australia were getting 10s. and 15s. a day, when they could only get 5s. or 10s. a day in the eastern States. The fact that big wages were being paid in that State soon “became widely known, and there was an influx of people there from other parts.
– There are only 250,000 there now.
– I allude to the fact that the recent rate of increase in the population of the State has been phenomenal, as compared with the increase of population in the other States of the Commonwealth. We have only to learn the lesson that if we make our industrial conditions such as will induce people to come here, those who do come will write to their friends abroad and recommend them to make this country their home. I have travelled frequently from the Western State on the Orient boats, and I have gone amongst the immigrants and heard them talk of what they expect to find in Australia. I have often felt sorry for both men and women, because I knew that a great deal of disappointment was awaiting them. I say that it is harsh and cruel for us to advertise in the Old Country, or elsewhere, a state of affairs that does not genuinely obtain in Australia. If people are left to determine for themselves whether they shall come here, they cannot blame any one for having misled them or induced them to come under false pretences.
It would be a criminal blunder, especially on the part of a Labour Government, to be a party to any deception of persons invited to emigrate to Australia. I hope that the present Government will be extremely careful in advertising our resources, not to lead a single person to come to this country under a false impression. We know what the expectations of people from the Old Country often are. There is in every case a certain amount of disappointment, and we have to guard against making people miserable when they come here. I am satisfied that honorable senators on both sides are anxious to see the country flooded with desirable immigrants; but we hold that just industrial conditions and the opportunity to earn a good living should be assured to them when they come here.
– I have listened to the debate with some amusement. Honorable senators opposite, in commencing a speech, say that they are in favour of immigration, but before they sit down they say they are not in favour of it. I do not believe that they really favour immigration. I have been for fortysix years in Australia, and I believe it to be one of the grandest countries in the world. Canada, America, and New Zealand are not to be compared with it. Why should we not assist our own people in the Old World to come out here and occupy this great country? We cannot expect to remain as we are. I remember that forty years ago in Queensland, when there was a population in the State of not more than 60,000, there were men who said that there were too many people in the country.
– It is quite possible that there were.
– Well, there are now 660,000 people in the State. I agree with Senator de Largie’s statement that Queensland has imported more imrnigrants than any other State in the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the other States took advantage of Queensland’s immigration policy. The State from which I come assisted to a great extent to populate New South Wales and Victoria. People in Victoria and in New South Wales got people in Queensland to nominate immigrants who, a week or two after their arrival, came down to the southern States.
-In view of the honorable senator’s interjections while I was speaking, will he say why the inimigrants did not remain in Queensland ?
– I am speaking now of what occurred thirty or forty years ago. They were brought out by friends in other States - probably by some of the honorable senator’s friends in Tasmania, who were fond of adopting cheap means of getting people to come out. I know of twenty men who left the Huon district - the best district in Tasmania - and went to the Queensland sugar plantations. I happened to be acquainted with a few of them, and they came to me to inquire what the conditions in Queensland were. I told them that they were going to work in an industry that they knew nothing about. Cane-cutting is a business that has to be learnt. The son of a “ cocky “ in Queensland learns to cut cane from his boyhood. I told these men that they could not expect to make a great deal in the first year. But I had a letter from one of them the other day, informing me that he had been getting10s. a day.
– How many hours a day did he work?
– He worked twelve hours, including two hours off for meals. In the next year these men will be able to make 15s. a day.
– That is more than I ever got.
– No doubt. Some of them are going back to Tasmania, but the real sterling Tasmanians will remain in Queensland, because of the greater facilities offered there. Land can be obtained at a tenth the cost of land in Tasmania.
– Crownland ?
– Yes; there are millions of acres available. Only 4 per cent. of the land of Queensland has been alienated. The remainder is in the hands of the Crown. The greater part of. the alienated land was taken up many years ago. But in those days there were no railways.
– Some of the best land in Queensland was recently sold at10s. an acre.
– That is purely pastoral country in the far west. Some time ago Cullinlaringo, in the Peak Downs, was sold at 10s. an acre. That was an exceptional case. It is a mistake for honorable senators opposite to think that the bringing of immigrants to Australia decreases employment. Every man in the country is, to some extent, dependent upon other men. The butcher is dependent upon the baker, and the baker upon the tailor. Every immigrant brought to Australia creates work for other classes of people. Consequently, the more people we bring to the country the more work there will be. I quite agree with those honorable senators who have said that exaggerations should not be published in advertisements concerning Australia, We want no glowing accounts of this country. It is sufficient to publish the true facts. Let us make it known that this is a white man’s country, and that there is ample room for all immigrants who choose to come here. We should do all we can to encourage immigration.
– By imposing a land tax.
– I have always believed in a land tax. I have advocated it in Queensland. But I advocated it as a State tax, and not as one that should be imposed by the Commonwealth. I believe in the principle of a land tax, but not in the Commonwealth entering this domain. The taxation of land in Queensland would not have such effects as the honorable senator may believe. We have millions of acres for people to settle upon. I hope that the Government will do their best in this direction. I have no fault to find with honorable senators opposite because their party is in occupancy of the Treasury benches. I believe they deserve to be there. They fought hard, and succeeded, and 1 have no grievance against them for the methods they adopted to secure success. I believe that Australia is the best country in the world. Let us bring people here, and give them a fair start, and I have no doubt that they will succeed. So strongly am I in favour of this policy that I hope the Government will, if necessary, increase the vote for advertising purposes.
– I have no objection to Australia being advertised, so long as it is done judiciously. But I have before me a copy of the Strand magazine, which contains an advertisement signed by the High Commissioner. He points out that “ Young Britons should know what is on offer in rural Australia”; and that “The Commonwealth is the world’s greatest wool-growing country.” In another part of the magazine is an article by Harry S. Gullett, in which he tells the readers of the Strand magazine that wool-growing, which is the greatest industry in Australia, requires very little labour indeed.
– Is not that true?
– I do not say that it is not true. The writer further says -
Few rural industries are so profitable and scarcely any more attractive to the young Englishman. Very little labour is required. A manager and a few hands, assisted by a team of dogs and some good horse-flesh, are sufficient to control stations comprising a quarter or halfamillion acres.
That may be true, but does such a statement encourage people to come to this country ?
– At any rate, the writer is telling the truth.
– To some extent he is. Further, he says -
It is an old axiom that the wool grows while the squatter sleeps.
Do we want to bring people to Australia to go to sleep? Then again, the writer of the article says -
A good feature of stock-raising in Australia is that the land is peculiarly free from animal diseases. You might travel for hundreds of miles over country occupied by graziers and never discover a veterinary surgeon. Animals are so seldom ill that the specialist in their ailments cannot get a living.
That may be read as a warning to veterinary surgeons not to come to Australia. Is this the sort of article that we are to spend money upon?
– It is a very good article.
– It is good to this extent - that it means that a man can come here and stock a farm without employing, any labour.
– We want such people to come here, and then we will tax them.
– It can be merely 1 matter for such people of taking up land on leases, and leaving it in a short time. What I particularly object to in regard to immigration is that people should be induced to come here to compete in industries that are already overcrowded. That is what happened under the Queensland assisted immigration policy. I remember a case. A ship arrived in Brisbane early in the morning, bringing immigrants. A ship on which I was working left Brisbane the same day. When we got outside Moreton Bay, seven men came up through the hatchway. They had arrived on the immigrant ship, but found they could not get work in Brisbane, and consequently they stowed away on board our ship, so that they might be taken to Newcastle. I trust that the policy of the Government will be to develop^ the resources of Australia in such a way that population will be attracted here that will be an advantage to the Commonwealth, and not a burden on our people.
– I rise to plead guilty to the charge made by Senator St. Ledger. I am one of those who have taken great pains, as the secretary of an Australian organization, to prevent people coming to Australia. I did that because of the gross misrepresentations resorted to in the Old Country. Members of the organization to which I belong, living in the Old Country, were told that Sydney and Melbourne were large ship-building centres, where thousands of ship-builders could always find employment. They were also told that if workmen were not satisfied in Sydney, they could easily put their swags on their backs and tramp to Newcastle, where many thousands of ships arrived every year. That was grossly misleading information, because if there is any industry in the whole of Australia that is starved, it is the shipbuilding industry. I used to see men arriving here and bringing out their union tickets in the hope of getting work. I extended the hand of friendship to them ; but it was always painful to me to have to tell them that if they had any money left, they would be wiser to return to the Old Country. I have seen artisans starving in the Sydney streets. We have had to put some of them on to the Labour Farm, in order to get a little flesh on to their bones. When we see such cases, is it any wonder that those who know strive to prevent their recurrence. I have sent out thousands of leaflets discouraging that class of immigration. I also got a cablegram printed in the London Times, warning persons not to come here. Mechanics have certainly not come in such a large number as they did previously, but they are still arriving. When we see this gross misrepresentation of facts, it is time that some action was taken to state the truth. I am as desirous as any honorable senator opposite to see Australia carrying its hundreds of millions of persons, but I want here a thriving and not a starving population. I want to see the persons who settle in our midst in a better condition than that which they occupied in their own land.
– So do all of us.
– That is not the idea of the party opposite, which, in my opinion, is misnamed the Liberal party, and should be named the Conservative party. The desire of many men behind that party in the immigration of this kind of labour is to reduce the wages of persons who are already here.
– Nonsense !
– It is not nonsense, but a fact. If the honorable senator will read the proper publications, he will find that desire expressed by some of those who are behind his party to-day. Only recently a gentleman who is very much behind that party said that the Labour unions in Australia would never be brought to their senses until thousands of immigrants were landed weekly at Circular Quay, and that they would be glad to work for as much per week as they now got per day in their own country.
-Who said that?
– It is recorded in print. I have no objection to the Government spending money in advertising Australia, because I feel that they will do so in a fair way, and indulge in no misrepresentations. I plead guilty to the accusation that I am one of those who have prevented a certain class from coming here. I shall do all I can to prevent the introduction of that class until such time as work is available. It may be surprising to some honorable senators opposite to hear that in one year the wages of iron shipbuilders did not average 25s. per week, and that the average wage of wooden shipbuilders was17s. 6d. That points to conditions which are not desirable. If some of those who advocate the rushing in of immigrants were taken from their wellprovided tables and placed in the position of mechanics who have to exist on a small wage in Melbourne and Sydney, they would hold a very different opinion from that which they now express.
– I do not think that any reasonable man will attempt to deny that in Australia we have room for many more millions of persons. From every platform which I have occupied I have always stated plainly that there are two classes who come to a country, namely, those who have money and those who have not. As regards the former, we need not do more than put before them accurate facts as to the position of the country. I support the vote on the condition that the exact facts are made known to intending immigrants, and that they shall notland here under any false representations. Take the class which honorable senators on the Opposition side are very anxious to bring here, and have endeavoured by all possible means to introduce, namely, persons who find ‘ it difficult to earn a living in the Old Country. By misrepresentations as to the conditions of this country, the wages paid, the chances of finding employment and the opportunities of securing land, a great many persons of this class have been deliberately misled, and in numerous cases induced to come to our ports, there to remain in poverty, and in some instances to starve. Quite recently a number of mere lads were induced to leave their homes in the Old Country to come to Victoria by the misleading statement that on their arrival they would be engaged in agricultural work and would be taught farming, receiving ros. a week. Even business men in good circumstances had lent themselves to a scheme to bring in these boys, who found on their arrival either that there were no positions available, or that they were to receive 5s. a week.
– That is not all; they were told before they came here that as soon as they reached the age of manhood they would be given farms.
– That is so. On making an inspection I found that some of these so-called boys who were to receive 5s. a week at agricultural work weighed 10 st., 11 st., and up to 11 st. 7 lbs., and were capable of doing a man’s work. In fact, some of them are doing a man’s work for about one-tenth of what would be a reasonable wage for a man. As regards persons in the Old Country who desire new opportunities for investing their money, Senator St. Ledger is a brilliant example of a class of persons who continually mislead people in the Old Country by misrepresenting those who govern this country, and who talk about sky-rocketting and all that sort of thing.
– The honorable senator is getting on to that article in the Contemporary Review.
– The public in the Old Country believe that a senator in Australia is a responsible person, whereas, if they knew Senator St. Ledger, they would not have to be told that they should not take him quite so seriously as he takes himself.
– They have some sense of humour, but the honorable senator seems to have none.
– It is not a matter for humour when I find a man who was sent into the Senate to uphold the dignity and protect the interests of this country deliberately misrepresenting its Government to persons in the Old Land for mere party purposes.
– Do you not intend to “ bust “ up the big estates?
– I should glory in an early opportunity to help to “ bust “ up responsible senators who misrepresent their country in the Old Land. I rejoice that the Commonwealth has always avoided a borrowing policy. There are some of us who believe that it is a self-contained country, which is able to meet its obligations without borrowing. 1 am pleased that one branch of the Parliament has indorsed that view so far as defence is concerned. But what does the honorable senator preach to the Old Country? He represents that we are so poor that we are not able to pay for our defence. Not only that, but that the Commonwealth has actually floated loans. Let me quote his own statement, so that there shall be no misunderstanding. So recently as July last he contributed to the Contemporary Review an article which discloses his knowledge of politics. Referring to the Fusion Government, he writes -
The last Government completely reorganized the land defence forces.
– I think that that is correct.
– I shall leave the Minister of Defence to say whether that is correct or not. At all events, it hardly fits in with another portion of the article, in which the honorable senator says that some foreign Power is going to take possession of Australia-
It supplanted a mosquito fleet proposal with the beginnings of a real fighting navy.
– So it did.
– I am not aware that we had such a fleet in Australia ; in fact, I have heard the honorable senator say that we had no such thing.
– You were going to build it.
– The quotation continues -
It translated public sympathy with the offer of a Dreadnought to the Mother Country into the creation of an Australian fighting unit cooperating with the Imperial Navy, having the dual power of the offensive and defensive. It wisely and boldly floated a loan with a sinking fund to enable this defence to be placed at our shores at once, in view of emergencies which might reach and strike us at any moment.
– Hear, hear; I stand by it, too.
– This is, I believe, a handicap to men of means coming to this country. In a review which has a very large circulation in the Old Land the honorable, senator has deliberately stated that the Commonwealth has borrowed money for defence. I shall not attempt, for a moment, to discuss the knowledge of Australian politics which he has displayed, but the misrepresentations which I have quoted would lead persons in the Old Country to believe that Australia is a poverty-stricken country, which is compelled to borrow for the purposes of defence.
– So far as the honorable senator has quoted the article it is an exact presentation of facts.
– No doubt it will be very pleasing to the Treasurer to learn that there are three-and-a-half millions of loan money at his disposal. The honorable senator has deliberately told the public in the Old Country that immigrants from there are unwelcome in Australia, and that the present Labour Government have no room for them, do not desire their company, and will do everything in their power to retard their introduction. The article continues -
The party now in power is either irreconcilably opposed to the only form of remedy for it, or attaches such limitations to its application as are only paralleled by that grandmotherly wisdom which admitted to her infant grandchild the necessity of learning to swim, but forbade him at the same time from ever going near the water. The party will oppose an immigration policy, and this opposition will strongly influence and menace the policy of every State Parliament.
In this article the honorable senator makes to people in the Old Country the definite statement that the Commonwealth Government will take such action as to menace the policy of any State which wants to introduce immigrants.
– Such limitations as were made in the speech of Senator McDougall were a confirmation of my article.
– The honorable senator is either writing about limitations or speaking about ramifications. Referring to the present Government, in this article, he says -
It does not want - at present, at any rate - a large accession of white population.
That is a deliberate statement that the Government do not desire white persons to come here. Now we all desire such persons to come; in fact, as many as feel in clined to join us. I feel sure that if we have not plenty of room for them we shall make room.
– I shall withdraw every word of the article as soon as I see you bring in European immigrants.
– Of course we cannot expect all the people who come here to possess means. The bulk of the men and women whom we hope to introduce may be in possession of very little capital, and will have to depend on their labour. In other words, they will have to start afresh in life, and, no doubt they will finish successfully as a rule. Are opportunities available here for such persons to make a living? There is no statesman, no politician, who will deny that, in proportion to the population in country areas, there are more persons in our cities than there ought to be. What is the cause of this aggregation of people in the cities ? Is it that they merely want to live in poverty-stricken conditions in the cities, or is it that they are not able to get employment in the country? Are the conditions of country employment such as would warrant any man with a wife and family to support to go there to work for 20s. or 22s. 6d. or 25s. a week and keep? It is quite true that other persons have done so, but it is not true that those are the best conditions which we ought to be able to offer. Senators St. Ledger and Sayers quoted the area of Crown land alienated in Queensland as being only 5 per cent. Is there any land difficulty in that State to-day? If there is no demand for land close to railways, why are the State Government repurchasing estates?
– When did they repurchase land?
– I do not remember the date, but I know that the State Government have repurchased land for the purpose of closer settlement, simply because they had not, adjacent to the railways, land which would enable persons to engage in agriculture profitably. It is really misleading for any honorable senator to speak of the unalienated lands of Australia. I should like to see a few honorable senators on the other side trying to make a living on the MacDonnell ranges by growing potatoes and onions. In Victoria there is no agricultural land to be secured tb-day at a reasonable price. The State Government, with their practically unlimited resources, are unable to purchase any land at a fair price, with a result that their Closer Settlement Act has practically fallen into disuse.
– The other day they got some land at £12 per acre.
– Yes. Some of the land repurchased by the Victorian Government has not been taken up by settlers. Why? Because the State purchased the land at too high a price to enable any man, under the terms offered, to make a living for himself and his family, and ever hope to acquire the freehold.
– Is not the honorable senator proving too much now?
– How are you to get that land?
– Victorian agricultural land is above its legitimate value, having regard to its capacity to produce wealth. The State Government have been repurchasing land at such a high price that practical farmers have declared their inability to take up a section and ever hope to make it their own as the result of years of toil. Closer-settlement policies are in operation in New South Wales and in other States, as well as in Victoria. Let me give honorable senators an idea of what is going on in the boasted State of Queensland. If they will look at yesterday’s Argus, they will find a company advertising that they have secured 200 miles by 10 miles of land on die North-eastern coast of Queensland. When large companies can secure possession of the good lands close to the coast, will our friends opposite say how closer settlement is to be carried on in the interior, where there is no railway communication or facilities for bringing produce to market? It will be admitted by all that people should be given an opportunity under reasonable conditions to make a good living for themselves and their families. Such conditions cannot be obtained in our country districts, because the wages paid are not sufficiently high to enable a man to provide for any family. Our lands must be brought into profitable use by one means or another. We have tried without success to promote closer settlement by recourse to the ordinary haggling of the market. We have applied the unlimited wealth of the States to the repurchase of suitable lands for the purpose. This plan has also failed, and there is left to us only one means of accomplishing our object, and that is the imposition of land taxation, which will force present owners to use their land in order .to earn the tax, or will compel them to break .up their estates, and so enable those who are willing to cultivate the land to secure it in order to make a living for themselves and at the same time increase the production of the country. I conclude by saying that I do hope to see a large number of white people come into Australia. I hope that our social conditions will be so improved that when they arrive here they will be able to live as white people should, and to treat their wives as white women ought to be treated in this country. I hope also that, as the result of increased population, the wealth of this country will be increased, and that our people will enjoy the prosperity which must follow if the soil is put to its best possible use in the interests of the whole community.
.- ‘We are still discussing, I think with a certain amount of profit, the vote for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. I have published an advertisement of Australia in the Old Country which does not satisfy some honorable senators opposite. I am glad, however, that my effort has had the benefit of an excellent advertisement here. In spite of the criticism which has been passed upon it, I think there is only one statement which I need withdraw, and that would not have appeared if I had had facilities for correcting a proof of-my article. It is not a fact that we are to float a loan, and the statement that we are to do so is the only’ statement in my article which I think I need retract. I tried to be fair to all political parties, and to fairly represent the case. Whether I have been right or wrong, the people of Australia and the Old Country will judge, and I can afford to let the matter rest there. With a good deal of what honorable senators opposite have said as to judicious and injudicious advertising of Australia I agree. I agree also with the criticism on this point which blames the State parties and State Parliaments for the difficulty.
– I have been listening to the honorable senator’s statement that he would withdraw something, but I have not yet heard what it is he withdraws.
– I am sorry if my statement was not clear to the honorable senator. He did not quote the whole of my article or the full text of the particular portion of it from which he made his extract. I have freely admitted that the present occupants of the Treasury benches have shown a desire to advertise Australia. I have said that they are doing quite as much as their predecessors in this matter, but until they do a great deal more I shall not withdraw my statement to the* effect that, generally speaking, the present Government are more or less hostile to immigration. While they perpetually assert, inside and outside of Australia, that they are anxious to see people like ourselves coming here, under the same reasonable conditions, they place such limitations upon their immigration policy, in some respects, as prevent the desire they profess from being carried out. Senator McDougall’s speech, if I understood the honorable senator correctly, was a large admission in that direction. If the present Government are to be guided in advertising the resources of Australia by the spirit which animates Senator McDougall, I am inclined to think that they might just as well withdraw the whole of the vote for the purpose.
– Bring the right people out and we will help them.
– Who are the right people in the opinion of the honorable senator?
– We do not want to bring mechanics here when there are already plenty here who are without work.
– No one on the Opposition side has demanded that the Government shall advertise for mechanics.
– Why bring out agricultural labourers any more than mechanics?
– For the obvious reason that if the agricultural and other primary industries of Australia are not developed we cannot expect to go ahead.
– Does the honorable senator desire that we should go ahead by the employment of what would be practically slave labour?
– I am afraid it would keep me too long and lead me too far if I were to attempt to answer all the interjections, but I will now say that Senator Rae is letting the cat out of the bag. If we are to wait before attempting to induce agricultural labourers to come to this country until the wages paid in agricultural industries will satisfy honorable senators opposite, or will be such as honorable senators on this side would regard as good wages, I am afraid we shall not get them at all. 1 am afraid that the vote we are discussing tells the same old tale, and that however desirous the members of the present Government may be to advertise Australia and encourage immigration, the party behind them will not allow them to do so.
– What proof does the honorable senator require of the earnestness of the Government in this matter?
– The vote might have been struck out in the House of Representatives, but there was no attempt made there to omit it.
– That is so. When I commenced the discussion of this question I did not think it would continue so long or touch upon so many questions. I began by congratulating the Government upon doing at least as well in this matter as their predecessors. But after the debate which has taken place I am disposed to think that my original opinion as to the views of honorable senators opposite on this question have been to some extent confirmed. I ask the Government to consider another aspect of the question. I called for a return showing the way in which the immigration vote has been expended since the initiation of Federation. It is evident from the return furnished that a very large amount of advertising has been done in Australia. People here can, with a little inquiry, learn the conditions and relative merits of the respective States, and it does seem to me to be a work of supererogation for the Government to spend so much of the vote for advertising the resources of Australia in the Commonwealth itself. Previous Governments have been as great sinners in this respect as the present Government. They have all spent some of this money apparently merely for the sake of spending it. Of what use is it to spend money in the Commonwealth to make known information which ought to be readily accessible to the people?
– I think the honorable senator is stating the case incorrectly. The printing has been done in the Commonwealth, and the matter printed has been circulated abroad.
– That is an important qualification, and to the extent to which it applies to the expenditure from this vote in the Commonwealth my criticism is undeserved. From the return to which
I have referred, it is clear that a comparatively small proportion of the vote has been expended in Great Britain and Ireland, and really only two or three pounds have been spent in advertising Australia in other countries. Although the railway companies, and not the Canadian Government, give assistance to enable immigrants to go to Canada, the Government of the Dominion spend from £150,000 to £200,000 a year in establishing agencies and advertising the country throughout the world. When we compare that expenditure with the comparatively worthless expenditure by the Commonwealth for the same purpose, we can only come to the conclusion that the various Commonwealth Governments have had less confidence in the resources of Australia than Canadian Governments have had in the resources of their country.
– Canada is so much nearer than Australia to the Old Country.
– I am aware of that, and I say that when, in addition to that advantage, Canadian private companies are able to induce tens of thousands of persons to emigrate to Canada by the expenditure of only £1 per head as a subsidy to steam-ship companies, we should be convinced of the absolute necessity of offering such inducements as will tend to place the Commonwealth on the same level as Canada in the estimation of prospective immigrants. We should see that it is not made more difficult for people to come to Australia than it is for them to go to Canada. I am not ashamed to say that I believe my parents came to Australia, as doubtless did the parents of other members of the Senate, under a system of immigration which enabled them to secure a passage to this country at a comparatively cheap rate.
– They had nothing to be ashamed of in that. But it is a pity they did not leave the honorable senator behind.
– Knowing Senator Long, I can accept his interjection as a hidden compliment. What he means,’ doubtless, is that if I had been left behind, honorable senators opposite would have been spared the keen criticism which I have been able to level at the Government policy. I am sure that the honorable senator did not intend his interjection to be taken seriously, because a man who would say such a thing seriously could only be termed a “cad.” I think we might do well to imitate more closely the method of advertising adopted by the
Canadian Government. They advertise freely in Germany amongst a people of a kindred race. They advertise also in Italy, to which country a Commission, consisting of a State Minister and an official of the Lands Department, has gone from Victoria for the purpose of securing immigrants.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the Italian Government refused to allow the Victorian Immigration Commission to approach the workers of Italy?
– I was glad that the Italian Government drew attention to the visit of the Commission, because it indicated how much interest they take in their own people, and how earnestly they desire to preserve a hardy race of agricultural labourers for Italy. The fact that the Italian Government set so much store by these people is an object lesson to us, and should induce us to offer facilities for so useful a class to settle in Australia. I take it that if the object in view were pursued in a proper spirit by the State Governments, it would be possible to induce agricultural labourers to come to Australia, and to settle them on the land. The credit of the States should be pledged to put them there. The State Governments may well be reminded that unless they extend their railway systems, open up the lands, and make them cheap and accessible, they will not be doing their duty.
– Mr. Kidston will be having something to say to the honorable senator unless he is careful.
– I dare say that Mr. Kidston has been a terrible bugbear to honorable members opposite who have felt the weight of his criticism from time to time ; but from thefirst day that I sought the honour of representing my State in this Parliament, without qualification or the possibility of misunderstanding, and without fear of consequences, I have said the same thing. 1 have urged the same principle upon the platform throughout Queensland ; and whatever may be the result, I shall continue to do so, because I want to see the resources of Australia developed much more largely than they have been hitherto.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– - 1 move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
By way of preliminary observation, I should like to say a word to honorable senators who may be critical when they observe a certain clause in the Bill now presented to the Senate. Honorable senators are aware that Bills appropriating revenue cannot be originated here. But the Senate was anxious to do work, and it was, therefore, necessary to bring forward some measures. 1 applied to the Minister of External Affairs with a view of having the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill introduced in this Chamber. He agreed to that proposition. But there was an objection in respect to a clause appropriating revenue. The difficulty will be obviated by the Senate striking out that clause when it is reached. It will be omitted with the consent and approval of the Government, and the Bill will then be one which the Senate may amend. We are all aware, of course, that a Bill appropriating revenue or imposing taxation cannot be amended by the Senate. We can only request amendments.
– Will the clause be reinserted in another place?
– Yes. That having been done, the Bill will be returned to the Senate, and the procedure will conform to constitutional requirements.
– The procedure shows what a farce it was to restrict the Senate.
– We are doing everything decently and in order, with the object of expediting the business of the country.
– By a similar route to that which the railway would take if it went via Queensland.
- Senator Symon knows that he often has to beat about the bush to obtain the object he wants to achieve.
– I never did such a thing.
– We may take that observation “as read!” But I am not beating about the bush. I am adopting the good old maxim that the longest way round is often the shortest way home. This Bill was previously passed by the House of Representatives, but it was defeated in the Senate by a small majority - I was going to say, a side-wind. We must all recognise that it was very fortunate for Australia that in 1863 South Australia took over the responsibility for the government and maintenance of the Northern Territory. It was fortunate, because if that had not been done, some other country might ha%’e taken possession of, or Great Britain might have given a charter to a company to control, the Territory.
– Surely the Territory could not Have gone further back in the same time.
– It has not gone back at all.
– The Territory has not gone back. It has undoubtedly advanced, although the advancement has not been up to the requirements of a civilized people like ours. Suppose the Territory had been handed over to a chartered company, or to some other country. What conditions might have prevailed in the Northern Territory now? It might have been peopled by a race alien, not only in origin, but in sentiment, and in all the things that contribute to make up civilization of the western European type. That indeed would have been going backwards instead of forwards. South Australia undoubtedly did her best. Many will say that that best was very poor indeed ; but still it must be admitted that she did her best. In endeavouring to develop that vast Territory she has borrowed and spent over £2,700,000, and has built a railway which has cost her a very large amount of money. The annual deficits that have accrued since she assumed the administration have amounted to over £700,000. When we consider that there are more than 500,000 square miles in the Territory it will be conceded that the Commonwealth would be getting it at a very small price indeed if we secured it merely for the taking over of South Australia’s responsibilities. But there is something else in question. In the attempt to develop the Northern Territory that State commenced the construction of a transcontinental railway, commencing at Palmerston, in the north, and finishing at Pine Creek, in a southerly direction ; and commencing again at Port Augusta, in the south, and finishing at Oodnadatta, in the north. This work was done with the ultimate idea of developing the northern portion of South Australia in conjunction with’ the Northern Territory. It will be seen by those who take a rational view of the position that South Australia was in a similar situation to many Australian pioneers, who have taken too large a responsibility on. their shoulders with respect to the farms they attempted to work. Many a man - I might even say many a company - has been ruined owing to assuming responsibility for too much land at a particular time and attempting to spend the money required for the development of such an extensive area. In making roads, bridges, and other conveniences to communicate with what may be called the home portion of their estates, pioneers entered into expenditure that it was beyond their means to keep up. Consequently they were bound ultimately to fail. I do not say that South Australia has failed. Even if the Commonwealth were so foolish as not to take over this responsibility, South Australia would, I believe, ultimately overcome all difficulties, bring about greater settlement, and develop the Northern Territory to a greater degree than has hitherto been possible. But, so far as her relations to the Commonwealth are concerned, what ultimate advantage would that bring to South Australia? Ultimately this Parliament hopes to see many more than the six original States. If the Northern Territory were developed by South Australia, or by any other means, a time would come when it would be appealing to the Commonwealth for admission to the Federation as a separate State. In order to hurry on that consummation, is it not better that the Commonwealth should recognise its responsibilities, take over the Territory, and proceed with its development? To bridge over the gulf which exists between the northern section of the South Australian railway system and the railway system in the Northern Territory, we should have to cover a distance of nearly 1,100 miles. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the estimate, but it is estimated that it would cost at least ,£4,500,000 to complete the construction of that transcontinental railway, which, together with the public debt on the Territory, the accrued deficiency, the cost of the Palmerston to Pine Creek railway, and of the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, and the completion of the system to Pine Creek, would make a total of ,£10,250,000. If those who have mathematical inclinations will divide the vast area of the Territory into acres, and that sum into pence, they will find that the Commonwealth will, if this Bill be passed, get the Territory at an infinitesimal price per acre, at which it would be a good bargain to any country in the world to take it over.
– About threepence per acre.
– It is a little over twopence per acre.
– I thought that South Australia was not in a position to do the thing herself.
– I do not know that the State is not in a position to do the thing if she gets time.
– The honorable sena’tor said that it was beyond her resources.
– It is at present ; but the State has not reached the limits of her resources. During the regime of the Jenkins Ministry in South Australia a Bill was passed for the construction of a transcontinental railway on the land-grant principle, and to-day there are persons interesting themselves so intensely in that very direction that the sooner the Commonwealth puts a stop to the realization of any of their expectations the better it will be for the whole of Australia. That proposition meant that the State was to part with 90,000,000 acres of the land adjacent to the proposed land-grant railway, or, in other words, to give away much more territory than any one here has any conception of, unless he sits down and thinks seriously. When we realize that these men are still waiting to press the State Government in the same direction, and remember the inclinations of the supporters of the present Government with respect to the adoption of the land-grant system in any portion of the Commonwealth, I think that we ought to be prepared to forego some of our prejudices and take over the Territory in the interests of the people of Australia. On a wall of the chamber honorable senators will see a map showing the Territory. So far as is possible, the Bill gives effect to an agreement which was entered into by the then Premier of South Australia, Mr. Tom Price, and the then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Mr. Deakin. There is no man here or elsewhere who could ever accuse the late lamented Mr. Price of any want of national spirit. Even in his own State he was prepared to work harmoniously with the Commonwealth. When he went to the Old Country it was not the interests of South Australia alone, but the interests of Australia, which he advocated. With him it was a case of Australia against the rest of the world. When a man with so strongly developed a national spirit came in contact with our friend, the Honorable Alfred Deakin, he was naturally prepared to make such an elastic agreement as would permit of almost anything being done in connexion with the route of the transcontinental railway. Clause 14 of the Bill embodies the very essence of the agreement so far as the Commonwealth contract is concerned, and that is the building of a railway from Port Darwin southwards to a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper, which railway with a railway from a point on the Port Augusta railway, to connect therewith, is referred to as the transcontinental railway. This is provided for in paragraph b of clause 14. There is no intimation made there that it is to be a straight, or a crooked, or a triangular line. There will be every opportunity for the line to be taken in the direction which will be in the best interests of the whole people of Australia. In paragraph d honorable senators will find what I may call the South Australian portion of the contract. It simply states that the Commonwealth shall 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 line at a point on the northern boundary of South Australia proper.
– Why all this huckstering and bargaining and placing of restrictions on the Commonwealth?
– The honorable senator knows very well that the Territory is, rightly or wrongly, in the possession of South Australia. He also knows that it would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth if the Territory were placed under its control. How are we to get it from South Australia, or how is that State to get rid of her responsibility, unless there is a bargain of some description between the two parties? Mr. Price, who made the agreement, was not a parochial South Australian or a parochial Queenslander, or a parochial Western Australian. He was a nationalist of the first water.
– In addition to that, he had a very proper and tender regard for the interests of South Australia.
– I am sure that if Senator Givens were making a bargain with an individual with respect to anything which he was concerned in, he would be very silly if he did not conserve his own interests. Mr. Price conserved the interests of his own State without endeavouring to cripple the national interests of Australia. I am sure that no one will deny, although he may raise objections to the work of the Honorable Alfred Deakin, that that gentleman is not also an Australian. He is far more an Imperialist than a parochialist. I do not believe that, in the interests of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, or any other State, he would attempt to take an advantage of South Australia. We may, therefore, conclude that we have a bargain which was drawn up honestly and fairly by those two gentlemen.
– In the interests of the whole Commonwealth?
– Yes, because they were both Australians before they were anything else. I have very much pleasure in presenting the Bill to the Senate. A great deal might be said with respect to the resources of the Northern Territory, but I have no inclination to enter into a discussion of them. I have taken steps to see that every honorable senator will be furnished with documentary evidence with respect to the value of the Territory. He will receive a report showing the value of and progress made in the Tanami gold country, and also a memorandum dealing with the whole Territory, which was submitted in 1909, and has been brought up to date. If it is in the power of the Government to present any other information to honorable senators, it will be willingly afforded.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lt.Colonel Sir Albert Gould) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4th August (vide page 1086), on motion- by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.15].- In view of the statements which have been made by Ministers over and over again, I do not think that honorable senators have any need to complain of the action of the Government in submitting this Bill. A strong point which has been made by honorable senators on the other side is that for defence purposes we should not borrow money. That is a very legitimate rule to lay down as to ordinary expenditure, but it should be borne in mind that it was not an ordinary annually recurring expenditure which was to be provided for by the Loan Act of last session. If it were simply a case of raising money for the purpose of carrying on the ordinary services from year to year, I should appreciate very fully the opinions expressed by honorable senators on the opposite side, but the Loan Act was intended, not for the purpose of providing for ordinary annual services of the defence of the country, but for the purpose of meeting the initial expense of creating a navy, consisting of a number of ships of war of various classes, which should form a third of the fleet in the Pacific. We should not have had to purchase from year to year a like number of ships, although we should have probably to add to the Navy during the eight or ten years’ currency of the loan. I can appreciate the objection of honorable senators to borrowing money for that purpose. But, for the purpose of establishing a fleet at a large outlay, it was, I contend, a legitimate proposition on the part of the late Government to raise the money by loan. They did not propose to leave the redemption of the loan to chance, but provided for a 5 per cent, sinking fund, to be placed in the hands of trustees for the purpose of redeeming the loan when it matured, or from time to time.
We know that whilst in Great Britain, in the ordinary course, provision is made for the construction of new ships for the purpose of maintaining the efficiency of the Navy from current revenue, there is a strong party at Home at the present time urging the Government to borrow £100,000,000 for the purpose practically of establishing a new navy, of the most up-to-date type of battleships now being constructed.
Australia would be to-day if the State Governments had never borrowed a single shilling, but had depended upon current revenue for the construction of railways and other reproductive public works. Australia would not be one-half as advanced as she is to-day, for we know that it would have been quite impossible for the State Governments to have drawn from the taxpayers in the past the money required to provide the public conveniences which they have been enabled to provide by the adoption of a borrowing policy.
Britain has been infinitely improved as compared with what it was formerly. Moreover, the £200,000 a year which we are to get from the Imperial authorities is only to continue for a time. I hope that it will not be long before Australia will be able to provide the whole cost.
. -As one who interjected about taxing the rich, I should like to say a few words-
– Order. The honorable senator has already spoken to this question.
– I think something should be said with regard to the argument of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, who has endeavoured to persuade the Government not to dispense with a loan, the doing of which, undoubtedly, at a time like the present, means a great sacrifice on the part of any Ministry. The Government have, however, determined to repeal the Naval Loan Act, and to provide for the defence of this country on a spot-cash system instead of resorting to means which have been adopted by old parties in the past. Senator Gould seems to resent the fact that for the first time in the history of this country the rich, as a class, are to be called upon to pay their fair share towards defence.
– No, not their fair share.
– They need fear nothing more from this Government. They will not be called upon to pay more than their fair share. But so strongly have the shackles of taxation been riveted on the workers of Australia that it will be many years before the rich are compelled to pay their share.
– Who riveted those shackles?
– As the Labour party has only recently come into power they must have been riveted by the old parties which have hitherto ruled the country. We are now under the necessity of finding money to pay interest on loans raised by past Governments in an extravagant fashion. But when we talk of asking the rich to pay their fair share towards the defence of the country we are told that we are initiating class taxation. What kind of taxation is it when a working man who is only getting a few shillings a day in wages, and does not enjoy regular work at that, has to pay 3s. 6d. on each pound weight of tobacco he smokes ? Is that a fair tax? The working classes are taxed, not only on the few luxuries which they are able to purchase, but on many of their necessities. I say that it was about time that a Government did come forward that would insist on initiating a just system of taxation instead of borrowing for the necessities of the country and leaving posterity to pay the bill. It is a good thing that the electors of Australia at the last election determinedly took a hand in constituting a truly representative Senate that will insist on legislating in such a way as to put an end to borrowing for any but reproductive works. I agree with what Senator Gould said with regard to the money borrowed by the States for railway purposes. I agree that our railways are at present a splendid asset, and are giving us a return in excess of the money spent upon them. I have never objected to borrowing for truly reproductive works. Borrowing for any purpose that will increase the Wealth of the country, increase our population, and open up new avenues of employment is justifiable, and I am prepared to assist in legislating in that direction. The Labour party is not against borrowing for reproductive works, but is against borrowing for works which are not reproductive.
– We are converting the honorable senator.
– The difference between the two parties in the Chamber is that, whereas the Opposition believe that the State should be run in the interests of the individual, we believe that the individual exists for the benefit of the State. The honorable senator may set it down as a principle of his party that the State should be managed in the interests of the individual.
– Certainly that is a cardinal principle in which I believe.
– We, on the other hand, believe that the individual exists for the benefit of the State. When the honorable senator comes to understand our platform better, he .will know that we believe that the individual and the State should work together for mutual benefit. I suggest that instead of being so cocksure of the principles of honorable senators on this side, he will do well if he manages to get at some of the principles which have been guiding the members of his party. I think it is the opinion of not only a majority in Parliament, but a majority of the people, that the Naval Loan Act should be repealed. In my opinion the Government are to be congratulated, not only upon coming down with a straightforward statement of their intention in that regard, but also upon bringing forward a number of other measures which they are equally pledged to the electors to carry out. We hear continually from honorable senators on the opposite side the inquiry, “ Why have not the Government told us where the money is to come from? Why have they not gone into details, and taken the Parliament into their confidence in order to show that they can manage the business of the country?” I believe that not only a majority in the Parliament, but also a majority of the people, have every confidence that a Government who have been acting in a straightforward way in all their proposals can be trusted to be straightforward when they come to finance the huge undertakings with which they are grappling. I support the repeal of the Loan Act, because in my opinion it is wrong to invest borrowed money in vessels which in the course of eight or ten or a dozen years will be scrapped. It is only a reasonable thing, I think, for a commonsense assembly to say, “ For the first time we shall call upon the rich man in the country to pay a fair share towards providing for the defence of the properties of rich men.”
– Cannot the honorable senator say “every” man? The use of the .word “ every “ would suit his purpose, but he likes to bring in the word “ rich.”
– I shall be quite prepared not to use the word “ rich “ if the honorable senator thinks it is objectionable, or that it is used by us simply for the purpose of setting a class without much wealth against a class with a great deal more wealth than it knows how to use properly. But I am not using the word with that object. Unfortunately, the power-holding class, the anti-Labour section of the Commonwealth, so well represented by the honorable senator and his few friends left on the Opposition benches, have never told us that they have always arranged the taxation so that the workers and toilers and poor men generally should pay the whole of it. That has been the history of that section of the community. ‘ I do not think that I need say anything further, except to emphasize the fact that the time has come for the rich man in the community as such to pay more towards the defence of the country than the poor man will have to pay, because the party to which I belong are determined to establish a system by which the Commonwealth can call on all able-bodied young men, irrespective of wealth or position, to prepare themselves to be defenders of the country, not .merely to contribute a few spare shillings of their surplus cash, but, if need be, to offer their breasts as a barrier in the defence of their country. We can consider this question irrespective of the claim of the wealthy man, who at all times wants to take an easy way of finding money, leaving to those who can fight the difficulty of finding the interest. If the working classes are generously prepared to have legislation passed which will compel them to devote a considerable portion of their time to making themselves efficient defenders of their country, then surely there is little occasion for the representatives of wealth in the Senate, and the representatives of huge financial and banking institutions, to complain because they will have to pay a few extra pounds per year to find the ready cash to provide the vessels which we are going to build for defending the country whenever danger arises.
– Some rather important questions have arisen out of the debate which relate as much to present and future policy as to the policy of the past. As both aspects of the subject have been considered, I propose to deal with some criticisms on this important measure in relation to both. One criticism has been that the policy of the late Government was mainly inspired, begun, and directed by a sort of hysteria in regard to a great Imperial crisis which was manufactured in the Old Country for particular purposes, and which for .political purposes was taken advantage of by the press and public of Australia.
– Quite so. That is perfectly correct.
– I am glad to hear my honorable friend say that, because so far as I am capable of judging, I know of no question which arose in the Old Country a short time before the naval policy of the late Government was submitted which was of more vital interest to the Empire itself and also to Australia than the proposition to deal with a great Imperial question.
– What does the honorable senator mean by a great Imperial question ?
– A great Imperial question is bound up and our share in it is bound up inextricably in this fact, that on the supremacy of the Navy, both in the seas adjoining the Mother Country as well as in the Pacific, the fate not only of the Empire, but possibly of Australia, is involved. My honorable friend may or may not agree with the means by which we here proposed to deal with our share of the difficulty. I admit that there is room for difference of opinion as to how we should meet it. But the crisis was there. It originated in the Old Country from circumstances to which I will refer shortly, and naturally it involved us here. How did that crisis in the administration of the affairs of the Navy arise in the Old Country?
– Can we trust the honorable senator as an unbiased historian?
– I am trying to deal with a great question as far as I know from ,a political and historic point of view.
– Especially from the political.
– From both sides as I am entitled to do. Does tha honorable senator claim for himself the right to say that he and the members of his party alone are entitled to speak?
– On a point of order, sir, may I inquire what a discussion on a point of Imperial fanaticism or Imperial crisis, or anything else Imperial, has to do with the repeal of the Naval Loan Act?
– I think that the honorable senator is in order for this reason, that the principal argument brought forward in favour of passing the Naval Loan Bill was that it was to satisfy what was considered at that time a crisis so far as the defence of the Empire was concerned. That is why I have not called honorable senators to order. At the same time, I should like Senator St. Ledger to keep closely to the Bill.
– It had become known that Germany had an immense programme for the extension of her Navy during the months from October, 1908, toMardi, 1909. The full extent of that programme was not known until the completion of careful investigations by naval authorities. So keen was the position, and so important to us as well as to the Empire itself was the position, that on three different occasions the Right Honorable A. J. Balfour, Leader of the Opposition, challenged the Liberal Government under the leadership of Mr. Asquith, to set apart a day in the House of Commons for the discussion of a question of vital moment to the Empire, and that was whether the Mother Country herself was able to meet the emergency which apparently was confronting her.
– It was an election cry.
– I am not going to impute for what purpose the challenge was made. I am trying to deal with the matter historically. In about April,. 1909, the Liberal Government consented toset apart a day for the discussion of the naval building programme of Germany in relation to that of the Mother Country. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Sir Edward Grey, replied to the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition, and in the course of his speech he said that after careful investigation it had been found that their great rival in both industrial and other matters - the German Empire - had so extensively added to its Navy and was building to such an extent that in the circumstances it would be absolutely necessary for the Imperial authorities to rebuild the British Navy. It was a serious position. Let me say what every man in the Chamber, and what, perhaps, every fairly well informed man throughout the Empire knows. That expression was used by Sir Edward Grey in his capacity of responsible adviser to the Imperial Government. When it was immediately cabled out to- Australia, what answer did it elicit? I believe that there was some hysteria here in the matter. I believe that the people, as well as the press, did not properly interpret that feeling. But, setting that aside, the fact remains that we had the assurance of Sir Edward Grey, at that time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that if the Mother Country was to preserve itself and the integrity of the Empire, it was necessary to rebuild the Navy. Quite rightly the press of Australia gave prominence to the opinion expressed by Sir Edward Grey. In their comments upon it, they made it plain that, inasmuch as our safety depended upon the supremacy of the Imperial Navy, we should take our share in the building of Dreadnoughts to enable Great Britain to cope with her great rival.
– I should prefer to build schools to cope with Great Britain’s great rival, Germany.
– I agree with the honorable senator, and should like, on another occasion, to deal with the question he has raised.
– What the honorable senators opposite proposed was that we should do . what was asked, and let the baby pay for it.
– We differ on that point. I am dealing now with the subject of naval defence, in respect of which we are under grave responsibilities to the Mother Country. I repeat that the press was right in directing attention to the matter. What response was made to the statement of the way in which Sir Edward Grey regarded the condition of the Imperial Navy, and, as a consequence of its condition, the safety of the outlying portions of the Empire, as well as of the Mother Country ?
– Will the honorable senator say what was the message sent to the Imperial authorities at that time by Mr. Fisher, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth ?
– As far as my memory serves me, I think that the honorable gentleman dealt with that aspect of the question fairly and straightforwardly.
– He said that the resources of Australia were placed at the disposal of the Mother Country.
– I believe that he interpreted the position in this way - that he considered the best service that Australia could render in the crisis was to prepare to defend herself.
– No; the honorable senator is quite wrong.
– The honorable senator misquotes Mr. Fisher entirely.
– I think I have given the substance of his message. If that be the correct view-
– Will the honorable senator permit me to quote the message sent by Mr. Fisher as Prime Minister?
– Order ! Honorable senators will have an opportunity to reply to Senator St. Ledger after he has concluded his speech.
– The policy of honorable senators on this side at the time was to go much further. It was not merely to isolate ourselves, no matter how effectively for our own defence, because such a policy was not, in our opinion, the wisest to adopt. We believed that the soundest policy was to co-operate in such a way in the new programme of the Imperial Government that we should be in a position, not only to secure our own defence as an isolated portion of the Empire, but to join with the Imperial Navy in offensive operations to secure the integrity of the Empire.
– New Zealand took the same view.
– New Zealand took the same view as to the wisest policy to adopt. I remind honorable senators that the traditional policy of the British Navy for hundreds of years has been that the Empire should not be content with a Navy which will be merely defensive, but that it should be in a position to carry out the great precept of Nelson’ - to find the enemy and sink. him. The second, view of naval defence taken by honorable senators on the other side is that, as a young and comparatively rich community, we should not rely upon the assistance of borrowed money for our defence. It has been put by honorable senators opposite that, because of the richness of our resources, it is, so to speak, inconsistent with the proper national spirit to resort to a loan policy to defend those riches..
– In times of peace. We might have to do anything in time of war.
– Just so. It has also been urged, and the argument is a fairly strong one, that we should rely upon current revenue for our defence, both by sea and land, especially in times of peace. It has been pointed out several times by honorable senators opposite that the Mother Country, with its immense responsibilities in other directions, and notwithstanding the fact that the wealth per head of the population is not so great there as it is with us, has for years undertaken to bear the cost of both land and naval defence in times of peace out of current revenue.
– The honorable senator would have been a great Democratif he had started a little earlier.
– I am now putting the argument from the other side.
– Which side is the honorable senator on?
– But while stating fairly, I think, the views of honorable senators opposite, and adopting them to a large extent, I reject absolutely their conclusion. Honorable senators will do me the justice of admitting that I have fairly stated the reasons upon which they based their objections to the policy of the late Government, and because of which they have initiated a different policy. But it is forgotten in their argument here and outside, that the Commonwealth is faced with immense responsibilities. We are confronted with the responsibility of developing and opening up this new country, and for that reason we cannot afford to provide from revenue the expenditure necessary for naval defence. If per head of population we are rich, it must not be forgotten that we are few in numbers, and that we have an immense territory to develop. Although we have a population of only a little over 4,000,000, the work of the development of Australia has already cost us £250,000,000. It is of vital importance to this country that in the near future we should spend an equal amount or more in the further development of the country on similar lines, but I hope more effectively and profitably. Events are being hurried on in such a way in the East, in Europe, in the Pacific, and the Atlantic, that if in a few years the development of Australia has not proceeded more rapidly than now appears to be likely, it is possible that we shall find an enemy in posses sion of the undeveloped portions of our country. If we are to be faced with the alternative of spending £250,000,000, I hope wisely, in the further development and settlement of Australia, or of spending a similar sum to perfect our defence by sea and land, I should not hesitate to exhaust the credit of the Commonwealth to secure that the uninhabited portions of Australia should be developed by the construction of railways and the settlement of people on the land.
– And every one of them in pawn.
- Senator Guthrie’s interjection reminds me of a point I might otherwise have omitted to mention. I say that we are faced with two alternatives in this country. All would be well if we could undertake both obligations simultaneously; but if we are forced to make a choice of the alternatives I should not hesitate to decide to pledge the country’s resources for the development of its vast unsettled wildernesses. I believe that the interjection from the other side is a suggestio falsi. It suggests a falsehood until it is examined. I will state my reason for that assertion. Of the £250,000,000 that has been spent in the past about £160,000,000 is represented by reproductive assets, whilst £60,000,000 is covered almost as soundly as is any money invested in any private security in Australia. There is no sounder asset, either private or public, than is represented by so much of these loans as has been invested in railways and similar utilities. That is not to say that much of the money might not have been spent in a more beneficent manner; but it is to say - and I beg to say it - that there is to-day no better asset than is represented by works which have been paid for out of loan money. We can adopt no better method of developing our great resources than has been adopted in the past. Consequently, I say that the suggestion made by interjection that the country is “in pawn” is one of those expressions used by journalists and sometimes by politicians-
– I have allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude, but I do not see how he can connect his remarks with the question before the Senate.
– Yes, Mr. President, distinctly, and in this way - that I regret that the Naval Loan Act is being repealed for the reason that, in my opinion, we have not sufficient resources within this country, rich as Australia is, to build the nucleus of a navy out of current revenue. I urge that if we are to administer our finances wisely we can, and should, raise loans for expenditure which, even if not reproductive in the sense that railways are reproductive, is, at any rate, something in the nature of insurance.
– - What firm would think of paying for its insurance out of loan money ?
– I wish we could pay for these vessels out of revenue, but I do not think that we can afford to do so. It is, to my mind, a wrong policy to strain the current revenues of the Commonwealth with all the obligations in front of it, strong and urgent, instead of resorting to a loan policy. After all, what can be the great objection to building these vessels out of loan money?
– Because we should have to pay interest for all time.
– Every great country on earth that is expanding its navy is building out of loans, with sufficient sinking funds. Germany is doing so. France has already pledged its credit and appropriated revenue to a considerable extent to meet the new condition of affairs.
– What is the object of France and Germany?
– Ultimately, it is the same object as we have in view - to protect themselves.
– No; they are in search of fresh territory, but we are not.
– The honorable senator and his friends may juggle with the terms “offensive” and “defensive,” but after all the object of every one of these great nations is to preserve itself. Our object is to preserve ourselves as an integral portion of the Empire to which we belong. The terms “offence” and “defence” are absolutely relational. If a country wishes to guard against war it must take steps in time of peace. I am of opinion that the present resources of this country are sufficient to enable us to do that important portion of our duty effectively. As pointed out by Senator Gould, the very short history of the present Government shows that every possible resource of the Commonwealth is being strained to provide for our engagements and to enable the Government to carry out obligations to which the Commonwealth is committed. We have pledged ourselves to the extent of £3,500,000. There are also other obligations which the Govern ment must carry out. Bills have been brought before us which will pledge us to some millions more. Every penny that the Government will derive from taxation is already mortgaged and pledged to current services. Is it too much to remind the Government, in face of the great obligations to which they are asking us to give concurrence, that in the important work of defence their resources will be so strained that the duty imposed upon us by the people of Australia in this respect will not be effectually fulfilled? As we are providing in a time of peace against eventualities in times of war it is quite fair to call upon posterity to bear some portion of the burden, the benefits from which will be theirs as well as ours. It is for that reason that I object to the policy of the Government, and regret that the people of Australia have departed from the policy laid down by the previous Administration. I hope we shall have a clear declaration from the Government as to what after all is to be their true loan policy ; because if I gather their intentions correctly, they are going to pay for this Navy by means of a loan in some form or other.
– Does the honorable senator want to have the Budget speech now?
– I should like to have it, if I could get it. The Government and their supporters may throw derision upon their opponents for having supported a loan policy, but if we can place any rational interpretation upon indications of the financial policy of this Government they are, at any rate, going to pay for some works out of loans. I venture to make this prediction - that it will be found that that policy will, after all, be more disastrous to the country than would have been the policy pursued by the late Government.
– Any one would think that borrowing money and leaving other people to pay it back was” a kind of religious conviction with the honorable senator.
– I hope that Senator St. Ledger will be allowed to continue his speech without further interruption. Every interjection leads the honorable senator into by-paths which are likely to bring him into collision with the Chair.
– I do hope that we shall have an intimation of the policy of the Government.
– Would the honorable senator mind addressing himself to the Bill now?
– If the honorable senator has not gathered the purport of my remarks I am not responsible. There is one other subject to which I should like to refer. It has been said that the offer made by the late Government was rejected, by the British Prime Minister. In answer to that, I should like to point to a speech made by Mr. Asquith immediately after the message went to the Old Country that Australia had offered a Dreadnought. He welcomed it and showed that he had a full sense of ‘the value” of what the late Government proposed. Speaking in Glasgow on 19th April, as reported in the Times, Mr. Asquith said -
Before I leave ‘ the matter there is one less controversial and more pleasant aspect of it which we shall all be glad to acknowledge - I mean the magnificent offers made, and if their value could be enhanced by the fine and generous spirit in which those offers have been made on the part of our self-governing Colonies nothing could have been, I think, more gracious and more tactful or indicate a more generous patriotic conception of the common obligations of Empire, than the attitude of these Colonies in regard to this matter.
– This Bill consists of one clause only, but a great principle is involved in it.’ I suppose that nothing that any one can say will affect the ultimate decision, but nevertheless I feel bound to point out that there has been a serious shortcoming on the part of the Government regarding the introduction of the Bill. Last year a Conference was held in London, at which Australia was represented. As a result, it was decided that Australia should provide one unit of the British Navy, consisting of a super-Dreadnought, three cruisers and nine smaller vessels. It was considered that Australia would be rendering considerable assistance to the Old Country by adopting that policy. For that object the late Government proposed to raise a loan of £3,500,000. It was intended in that manner to provide for the construction of the naval unit. There was to be a sinking fund, so that the loan would be wiped out in the course of fourteen or fifteen years, which might be considered as the life of some of these vessels. The Commonwealth would have to spend money to keep up the vessels, and would have to be prepared for some additional expenditure to keep the unit up to its proper strength.
– That is, it would borrow more money.
– I do not know that that would be necessary, but I do say that it sometimes pays to borrow money.
– Should not borrowing be avoided if possible?
– I venture to say that the honorable senator sometimes gets an overdraft for the purposes of his own business.
– I wish I could.
– So the honorable senator could if he endeavoured to get credit from the banks. In commercial affairs a man who wants to launch out into new undertakings does not hesitate to borrow. He looks upon borrowing as good business. It is good business also for the Commonwealth to borrow for such works as the construction of the nucleus of an Australian Navy.
– It may be good business to borrow for reproductive works, but not for powder and shot.
– The money was to be spent on the construction of ships.
– At the best that was only insurance.
– Other countries borrow for building warships. What is Austria doing now?
– They are all going mad.
– I dare say the honorable senator thinks himself the only sane man. He might, however, attribute a measure of sanity to other people. I say again that it was sane policy to borrow this money with a sufficient sinking fund.
– But the honorable senator’s party could not convince the country that it was sound policy.
– A Bill was passed which authorized the raising of the necessary money. Now we are asked to repeal that measure. But I should like to know how the Ministry propose to pay for the construction of the vessels.
– With money..
– The Government might like to ,pay for the ships with I.O.U.’s. But perhaps Senator McGregor will give me a more definite answer by telling me how the Government propose to raise funds to pay for the vessels.
– That will be an.,nounced in the Budget speech.
– I do not think we ought to be asked to repeal the Naval Loan
Act unless the Government give us a definite statement as to how they are going to raise the money.
– It has been stated at Gympie and all over the Commonwealth.
– Perhaps the Minister will repeat the statement for my benefit. I am really anxious to know.
– If the honorable senator will sit down I will reply.
– An explanation should have been given when this Bill was introduced. The Government should have taken the Senate into their confidence and said distinctly that they do not believe in raising money for this purpose by loan.
– I did say so. I said that it was not the policy of the Labour party to borrow money for defence purposes.
– We have heard that before, but I am asking how the Government are going to raise the money to pay for the building of these vessels.
– The Minister has told the honorable senator how the Government are not going to do it. That ought to be sufficient.
– We have been told that certain contracts have been entered into involving expenditure amounting to something like £1, 744,000. I want to know where that money is coming from.
– Out of revenue.
– Is that a Ministerial answer ? I know that all these questions are not threshed out here, butelsewhere. The Senate had a right to be told by the Vice-President of the Executive Council how the money is to be raised if the Act is repealed.
– Is not that a question which is usually discussed on the Budget ?
– Yes; if the Budget debate preceded the consideration of this Bill. Surely it is not unreasonable for me to ask the Minister to state how the money is to be provided?
– On a point of order, sir, I beg to draw your attention to a remark which the honorable senator has repeated about one hundred times during the last ten or fifteen minutes, and toask whether it does not come within the definition of tedious repetition?
– The honorable senator has asked the Minister for the information a number of times, but the Min ister has not shown any inclination to give it. The Minister has the right of reply at the conclusion of the debate, and hecan then give whatever information he pleases.
– It is a very common thing, sir, to ask a Minister to reply by interjection to a request of that kind.
– The Minister declined to reply.
– The Minister may decline to reply.
– It would take too long.
– Do I understand the Minister to say positively that he declines to give me any information?
– It is out of order for the Minister to make a speech until he exercises his right of reply.
– In three words the Minister could have replied to my question.
– I said that the money would come out of revenue, and that is as much as I could do by way of interjection.
– The honorable senator did not say that the money was to come out of revenue.
– Yes, I did.
– The honorable senator said that the Government were going to borrow, but I am now told that the money is to be provided out of revenue. Having got that information, I desire to know how it is to be raised.
– By taxation, and other means.
– I trust thatin his reply the Minister will be good enough to answer that inquiry. Why do the Government keep us in the dark on that point? Why do they shut up the information in the caucus room, and not bring it into the Chamber? Surely we have as much right to the information as has any one else. It is of no use to prolong the debate. I do not intend to discuss this policy, because I believe that it would be a waste of words to do so.
– The electorssaid that they would not have the Fusion’s borrowing policy.
– We have not yet heard how the money is to be raised.
– By the taxation of the rich.
– Oh ! by a class tax?
– Yes. : Senator VARDON. - I take it that the honorable senator is speaking on behalf of the Ministry, and that the money for the construction of these vessels is to be raised by a class tax.
– I will give it to the honorable senator in writing if he likes.
– I am glad to know that the honorable senator is a representative of the Ministry in the Senate, and is authorized to give a written promise. I should be pleased if he would hand a written statement to me so that I could use it at another time.
– That would be disorderly.
– Having ascertained that the money is to be provided out of revenue raised by a special tax upon the rich, I have’ nothing more to say ; but it does not afford to me a justifiable reason for voting for the repeal of the Naval Loan Act.
– Last session I took up the position that money for defence purposes should be raised by direct taxation. The Naval Loan Bill was “gagged” through the other House and forced through the Senate. We stood to our guns then, and I am prepared to stand to my guns now. We referred the issue to the people, who, on the 13th April, gave us a majority. I felt sorry ‘for Senator Gould to-night when he displayed so much sagacity and earnestness in pointing out what a wicked thing it is not to go in for borrowing. If the Government of the day can do without borrowing I should think that that would be the safest policy to adopt. It is certainly the safest plan with individuals, and, in my opinion, it is the same with the State. Senator Vardon knows what the Labour policy is in that respect - a progressive land tax on estates worth over £5, 000, which we have advocated for years. We propose to exempt the poor farmers.
– For how long will the exemption be ,£5,000?
– I do not know. For twenty years I have fought for the principle, whilst my honorable friend has fought for the principles of Toryism, except at election time. I am glad to be one of those who advocate direct taxation for defence purposes. If we find the bone and sinew to do the fighting, those who have large estates to be protected ought to find the necessary money for that purpose. I have advocated that view for many years, and I hope to see the day when the Labour policy will be carried out to its full extent, because it is in the interest of those who sent us here, notwithstanding all this talk from the other side, which, in my opinion, has bordered on “ stone- walling.”
– I cannot allow such an important measure to pass without saying a few words in favour of it. Although it is my intention to vote for the repeal of the Naval Loan Act, I almost regret that the Government have taken this course, because, in my opinion, it should have been allowed to remain on the statute-book as a monument to the incapacity, the Conservatism, and the blundering of the late Fusion Government, not so much for its use at the present day, but to warn Australian manhood in the future as to what a Fusion Government means. It means the raising of loans by/ a class of persons who never intend to meet the liabilities, but are always ready to pas’; them on to the shoulders of children yet unborn.
– It will remain on the statute-book without a doubt, but it will be repealed.
– The honorable senator ought to be silent and modest on this occasion, because to-day I had to» quote to the Senate an article in which he told the people of England that this loan had already been floated. To the regret of the Treasurer the money is not to be found in the Treasury. Seeing that he had not sufficient information or sufficient knowledge, of Australian politics to know that the loam had not been floated, and that the authority.for its flotation is about to be repealed, E trust he will be silent during the remainder of my speech. A magazine which accepts” such articles as the honorable senator’s must be on its last legs, and about to depart, in similar fashion to the Fusion Government. I never think of a soldier or a warship without regret. I regret that civilization is in such a backward state that we have any need to deal with such, questions.
– “ Peace on earth !”
– If it were not for the wealthy land-holders and the commercial classes, who send Conservative - politicians into the Parliaments of the world, there would be no need for soldiers or warboats. I know of no war which has ever taken place for the benefit of the workers, or which has ever benefited them. But I do know of wars which have been’ engineered. I know of thousands of workers who have shed their blood, of millions of women who have been left widows, and of millions of children who have been left destitute because of wars, not one of which was ever fought in the interests of the working classes or the right of persons to gain a livelihood.
– Why support this Bill?
– I am supporting the repeal of a measure introduced here and elsewhere, as the honorable senator admitted to-day, as the result of hysteria among the so-called solid and stolid British race - hysteria which had no basis at the back of it.
– Even worse than that. There is some justification for a form of Jingoism at times, but there is no justification for the madness which people exhibited at the dictation of party politicians in the Old Country a few months ago. What did Senator Symon, who was in England at the time of the Dreadnought proposal, have to admit to the Senate? That the whole of the debate in the House of Commons, and the whole of the agitation worked up by the British newspapers, had no other object than the displacement of the Liberal Government from the Treasury benches.
– I rise to order. I do not think, sir, that I uttered a single syllable bearing on that point.
- Senator E. J. Russell was not making any statement regarding the honorable senator.
– I thought that he was.
– I do not want to plead the part of an innocent. I repeat that the honorable senator did state here to-day that the movement took the aspect of being hysterical in the Old Country.
– No. I said I thought that there was a little hysteria here.
– There was a little hysteria here, but a lot in the Old Country. There would have been much more here if we had not had a Labour Prime Minister. The Dreadnought proposal emanated from that hysterical wave which passed over the United Kingdom. We know now what we did not perceive clearly then. Some of us, knowing the tactics adopted by British politicians, were of opinion, as we are able to prove now, that the only idea at the bottom of the Dreadnought proposal in this and other countries, was a desire to displace the British Government. Yet the honorable senators on the other side who were caught in this wave, who clamoured for a Dreadnought, who were backed up by the press, have the audacity to call themselvesLiberals, after the pattern of the old party who govern in the Motherland. I regret, that too frequently both soldiers and warboats are used for no other purpose thanthat of aggression against innocent and, in many cases, unoffending people. But, leaving aside the question of aggression, what does defence mean? It means no more than an enlarged police force regulating the workings of society, just as soldiers regulate external affairs, save when they are used by Conservative Governments to suppress workers who dare to strike. It is a case of nine-tenths defence of pro’perty and one-tenth defence of human life. Do foreign Governments ever send a fleet or an army to this country merely to destroy our lives - merely to ravish our women and children? By no means. They have a better and more material object in view. Senator St. Ledger can profess to be shocked if he desires, but the truth should never shock anybody. Who ought to pay for this defence, which is an insurance for the property of Australia?
– If an enemy came here he would preserve, not destroy, our property.
– It is purely an insurance for the property of Australia. If the workers to-day are not asked to pay for the. insurance policies on houses, buildings, machinery, factories, and farms of Australia, and the owners of these forms of property, as wise business men, undertake the whole of the cost df insurance, surely we have a right to say that the large property-owners, landowners, factory, and mine-owners-
– And bankers ; what about them?
– I hope to see them shortly displaced, and the Commonwealth in full possession of the banking business of Australia. From my point of view the existing banks may be regarded as temporary institutions. I want the Government, Parliament, and people of Australia to say that those who now recognise the wisdom of insuring their property against internal danger shall insure it against external attack. Seeing that the workers have at all times been ready to risk their lives in the protection of their women and children, and for the defence of the country, they have a right to demand that the wealthy land-owners, mine-owners, and factoryowners shall pay a reasonable amount for the insurance of their own property against the aggression of the foreigner. A foreign Power would desire to wage an aggressive war against Australia in order to secure possession of the country or to secure wealth in the form of an indemnity to be paid by the Australian people. Let us deal with the first motive, the possession of the country. Who now has possession of the country? Will honorable senators opposite say that the workers of Australia possess it? Material wealth is possessed by the workers of Australia only to a very small extent indeed.
– We need not light an enemy off; we could buy him off.
– Let us suppose that we decide to buy off the enemy, and then I ask who should provide Ihe money? No one in Australia, any more than in any other country, produces wealth with the exception of the man who works. In the end it is found that the whole responsibility falls upon the working masses of the country. Therefore, I say that in times of peace, when we are organizing to defend our country against aggression, we should look to the wealth of the country - I ignore individuals and classes in this connexion - to provide the means to protect the wealth of the country. I hope that even the idea of a loan for defence will never be entertained at this or any future stage of Australia’s history. I hope that we shall be prepared year by year to pay for the defence of the country while we live in it. I trust that by means of land taxation, and, if necessary, by means of other forms of direct taxation, the wealth of this country will be made to shoulder the cost of its defence. When we say that the material wealth of the country is created by the industry of Australian citizens, that is only the beginning of the matter. When war actually takes place, who is it that in the first instance must run the risk? Tt will be the mass of the workers . of Australia ; behind them the widows of the unfortunate men who may lose their lives in the defence of the wealth and property of the country, and then the children who are too weak to protect them selves. Let me say now that in Australia we have no need to fear the waging of war by the workers of Germany, Japan, France, or any other country. The Japanese worker is not going to fight his Australian fellow worker, nor is the German worker, or the French worker, who- are as high in the scale of civilization as ourselves. The only class in any country that will organize a panic or a war is the commercial class, and for commercial reasons.
– The honorable senator says that the Japanese will not come here, and that we will fight him if he does.
– I was referring to the absence of any motive on the part of Japanese workers, or the workers of any other country, in carrying on war against Australia. Suppose the Japanese made war against Australia, and secured the possession of the country, the Japanese worker would not have wages in his own country raised by a single penny per day as a result. There is, therefore, a complete absence of motive for any aggression on his part. But let Japan capture Australia, and there is at once a new market opened to the Japanese merchant. Let Australia capture any other country, and a new market is open to the Australian merchant. For the reasons I have given, I heartily congratulate the Government * von* the introduction of this Bill to repeal the Naval Loan Act, which will remain on record as an everlasting disgrace to the memory of the lately departed Fusion Government. I believe that Australians are patriotic, and .that the Australian worker, whether he possesses material wealth or not, will be prepared to risk his life in the defence of the country of which he is more than proud. I believe that the Australians as a race; poor and rich alike, are quite willing to pay for the defence of their country from year to year instead of putting the burden upon their children. In conclusion, I say that I hope theAustralians will rise to the occasion, and will, at all times, be prepared to shoulder the responsibility of defending their country in their day and generation, leaving future generations to deal with the affairs of the country without being entangled with debts which we in our day were too mean, too cowardly, and too unpatriotic to shoulder.
– I should not have risen to reply had it not been for the urgent solicitation of some honorable senators belonging to the Opposition. I regret that Senator Vardon was not here when I moved the second reading.
– He is not here now.
– It is hardly fair that honorable senators should ask for information and leave before I have an opportunity to give it to them. In moving the second reading, I endeavoured to state the defence policy of the Government as briefly as I could. I pointed out that we intend, except in the direst emergency, to pay for both naval and military defence out of revenue. When Senators Vardon and St. Ledger were urgent in inquiring how the necessary funds would be obtained, I replied by interjection that the money would not be borrowed. They asked how we proposed to raise the revenue that would be required. Let me reply that the Surplus Revenue Bill before the Senate gives to the Commonwealth a larger portion of the revenue from Customs and Excise duties than it has hitherto been able to use, definitely fixing our financial relations with the States for a period of ten years. No doubt part of the added revenue from this source will be available for defence purposes. But as has been said times out of number, we intend to pay for our defence chiefly with the proceeds of direct taxation, and a Bill to impose such taxation is now before the House of Representatives.
– The purpose of that measure is to burst up the large estates.
– The honorable senator always knows more about the policy of other parties than about that of his own party, just ashe knows more of what happens within the caucus room to which he so often alludes than do those who attend the meetings of the Labour party. The proposed progressive land tax will return a considerable amount of revenue, and, in addition, there will be an absentee tax. These things must be known to every honorable senator who has any thinking capacity. On the second reading I was rebuked as rude and impertinent for stating plain facts. I do not wish to give ground for further rebuffs of that description, nor do I think that I am justified in anticipating the statement of policy which will be. contained in the Budget. I leave the measure with confidence in the hands of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Repeal).
– Before the Naval Loan Act of1909 passes to the oblivion from which it should never have emerged, I wish to say a few words in reply to the severe criticism with which the Bill has beenmet It has been stated, both inside and outside the chamber, that the Act of1909 should not be removed from the statute-book. According to my analysis of the criticism directed against the measure, it is thought that because France and Germany are borrowing in times of peace for purposes of defence Australia should do the same. But those nations are borrowing for purposes of aggression and territorial aggrandizement.
– France is not doing so.
– I am under the impression that France and Germany are in the same category. We in Australia do not desire to acquire more territory, our object being merely the retention of that which we have, and the continuance of the White Australia policy. I have not heard our opponents quote the message which was cabled by the Prime Minister to the Imperial authorities when the Dreadnought hysteria prevailed, and it was said that the Empire was in danger. That message was to the effect that if the Empire were in danger the resources of Australia were at its command. What more could be desired than that the flesh and blood, and the entire resources of this portion of the Empire, should be placed at the Empire’s disposal in time of danger? Senator Symon, being present in the House of Commons when the debate on the subject took place, on the floor of this Chamber characterized the cablegram of Mr. Fisher as the work of a statesman. The Naval Loan Act will soon be repealed. There is not the slightest doubt about that. I simply take advantage of the occasion to emphasize the point that when the question of the Empire being in danger was raised the Labour Prime Minister of Australia placed the whole resources of this country at its disposal ; and I furthermore accentuate the fact that if we are going to defend Australia, we must make all citizens not only take their share in the defence, but pay their fair share of the cost.
– There seems to be an” impression that by means of the Naval Loan Act the Opposition party wish to saddle future generations with the payment of debts incurred by the present generation. But I remind the Senate that, as a matter of fact, the Act provided for paying off the loan in fifteen years. I scarcely expect 10 be here myself in fifteen years’ time, but Senator E. J. Russell and Senator Needham will probably be here, and would have borne their share of the expenditure. I draw attention to the fact that there is no wish on the part of the so-called Fusion party to allow any class to avoid payment of a fair share of defence expenditure, or any other Commonwealth expenditure. Senator E. J. Russell said that he did not believe in any loan policy. He did not specify opposition merely to borrowing for defence purposes. I would ask him how Australia will be able to progress by building railways and constructing other works if we are not to borrow?
– No one objects “to borrowing for such purposes.
– It is all very well !for the honorable senator to say that, but members of the Labour party have distinctly said from the platform that they did not believe in borrowing at all.
– The honorable senator knows that that is simply “ fudge.”
– The statement has been made over and over again, and I have heard it. Of course, we of the Opposition are in a minority, but I protest against its being supposed that we wish to shift the burden of paying for the defence of Australia on to the shoulders of those who succeed us.
Clause agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 P m-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 August 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100810_senate_4_55/>.