4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 8th September (vide page 2817), on motion by Senator McGregor -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– Towards the conclusion of my speech yesterday afternoon I related a personal experience which I had gathered on roy trip to the Northern Territory. I wish now to quote another experience.
– The honorable senator was there for only forty-eight hours.
– It does not matter very much how long I was there.
– No ; you might learn more in forty-eight hours than he would learn in forty-eight weeks.
– My honorable friend has anticipated my reply. It is quite irrelevant how long I spent there. I took the trouble to ask leading business men, public servants, and others, whether they thought that the development railway should go through and from South Australia, or through and from Queensland. With one exception, every resident who had an interest in the future of the place, and who had lived there for any considerable number of years said that naturally, and from every point of view, the proper route for the line was that from Queensland.
– Was that a line to develop the Northern Territory or Port Darwin ?
– I visited Port Darwin and Palmerston, and went as far as the Katherine, besides going to the terminus of therailway, and almost every person I conversed with was of that opinion.
– I do not think that the honorable senator got as far as the the Katherine.
– Well, I got into the very heart of the Territory, and the best portion of it, too, and if it cannot be successfully developed, no portion can. If the inhabitants are clear and emphatic, and almost unanimous that the line of development should run towards the eastern side of the Territory, especially towards Queensland, why is not an opportunity given to this Parliament to determine, if there are alternative routes, which is the best to adopt? Let me point out the enormous expense which will be entailed upon Australia in carrying out the agreement in its present terms. We are met by successive Ministers with the objection of the peril to Australia if we do not accept the agreement, as if I and others who oppose its acceptance, I may add also, the people of Queensland and New South Wales, were not keenly appreciative of the necessities of our position in that regard. I am prepared to admit that if South Australia or the Commonwealth cannot devise a scheme by which some appearance of permanent occupation and settlement by our own race can be given to the Territory, then some other country may seek to occupy and develop it.
– A scheme has. been devised and Parliament is asked to accept it.
– My complaint is that this Parliament is being held in a cleft stick. It is not in the position which every State Parliament occupies when it is called upon to vote for public works involving the expenditure of, it may be, millions sterling. It has not the same freedom, and it is not sufficiently informed, nor will it be allowed to be sufficiently informed, under the terms of the Bill, as to the best route to be taken- in order to achieve the purpose intended. We are being held hard and fast in a cleft stick as to the route. It is contended - and the map here is suggestive of the contention - that we can take the railway outside the Territory. Every layman here must know that South Australia has not power to take a railway one inch out of the Territory into another State. And the Commonwealth has not the. power of itself to take a railway into any State without its consent. In both cases a restriction applies. How then can the Parliament of South Australia confer upon the Commonwealth the right to go outside the Territory with the railway, or the Commonwealth Parliament take to itself that power?’ That is the difficulty that confronts us in dealing with this Bill. Let me .present to the Minister an alternative. Assuming that that view is not legally correct, and power can be given to take the railway out of the Territory, how far is it to swing? Is it to be taken an inch outside the boundary, or 200 miles? If it can be taken any distance between an inch and 200 miles outside the Territory, I want to know where, and how far, it is to swing? In a former portion of my speech I pointed out that on the eastern side, and close to the Territory, there is development taking place which is very promising for the future of Australia, and if this Parliament were allowed to discuss the question with liberty to determine how far it would swing the railway in the direction I have indicated a satisfactory route might- be chosen. As to the national aspect of the question, if this be not an exhibition of spurious patriotism, may I inquire where the money for the construction of the line is to come from? There was a celebrated financier, called Mantalini, who, when he was in a difficulty about paying his small bills, used a striking expression.
– He is dead.
– He is dead, but his spirit lives, and speaks from the other side of the chamber. If Mantalin had not the means to pay the odd pence and half-pence, he used to say to the creditor, “ Never mind, I’ll settle the bill; damn the half-pence.” The proposal before the Senate involves . an expenditure of millions sterling, but no representa tive of South Australia, and no representative of Western Australia, who is’ meditating a similar raid on the Treasury, can give an atom of definite information on the point as to where the money is to come from. Let me remind the Minister of Defence of what happened here a few nights ago. When I asked him for a concession, which I thought would be. beneficial to the junior cadets, what answer did I receive? Repeating an announcement he had made in the first portion of his speech, he said, “ I have not the money, I cannot get the money, and if I could get that ;£i 00,000 there are a number of other ways in which it could be more effectively used for the purposes of defence.” Inferentially, 1 gathered from his answer that the Government had come to the limit of their expenditure. Where are they going to find the millions of pounds that will be re- quired to give effect to this Bill ? t involves a capital expenditure of ^10,000,000, and a contemplated outlay of between ,£4,000,000 and ,£5,000,000 on the construction of a railway which’ seems to be the corollary, political and otherwise, to the carrying out of the present scheme. Yet the representatives of South Australia and Western Australia give us not the slightest information as to where this sum of £14,000,000 or ,£15,000,000 is to come from. Ministers are silent at that very pertinent request.
– We are going to make the money.
– How? My honorable friend smiles. I hope that he will evidence his recognition of the farcical aspect of this proposal by voting against the second reading of the. Bill. I know that the Senate has a considerable amount of work before it, and that I shall be afforded further opportunities of discussing this question in Committee. I shall, therefore, reserve any further remarks which I may desire to make upon it until it has reached that stage. I do not oppose the measure because I object to the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory.
– So long as that Territory can be annexed by Queensland ?
– Except from the point of view that she will have to contribute her share of the cost, it will not ultimately matter to Queensland whether the Commonwealth takes over the Northern Territory or not, because, geographically and commercially, that Territory is destined to belong to her. South Australia even objects to the Commonwealth being permitted to determine the route of the proposed railway through this country, which may well be regarded as the Achilles’ heel of Australia. I admit that the Territory ought to be taken over and developed by some stronger power than that of South Australia, and I make these remarks to safeguard myself against the accusation that I am hostile to its transfer. As a. matter of fact, I should be inclined to sanction the taking over of the Northern Territory with all its indebtedness by the Commonwealth, so long as this Parliament were left free to determine the lines upon which its development should proceed.I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ no Bill is acceptable to this Senate which contains provisions binding the Commonwealth to any railway policy in respect to the Northern Territory.”
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that there are only two forms of amendment which can be moved upon this motion, namely, “ That the Bill be read this day six months,” or, “ That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.” I think, therefore, that Senator St. Ledger will have to take some other course of. action, probably in Committee.
– I desire to invite your attention, sir, to a somewhat similar amendment which was submitted during a previous discussion upon this very Bill.
– And ruled out of order.
– I merely direct attention to the fact that a similar amendment was submitted on a previous occasion and a decision given upon it.
– I think it was exSenator Nield who moved that amendment, which was ruled out of order.
– I believe, too, that a similar amendment was submitted some years ago upon the motion for the second reading of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill.
– I wish to direct attention to standing orders 188, 189, and 190. The first-named reads -
On the Order of the Day being read for the second reading of a Bill, the question shall be proposed “ That this Bill be now read a second time.”
Standing order 189 reads -
Amendments may be moved to such question by leaving out “ now “ and adding “ this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill ; or by referring the Bill to a Select Committee; or the previous question may be moved.
Then standing order 190 provides -
No other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
I think that the last standing order, which I have quoted, refers to another portion of our standing orders which relates to instructions to Committees.
– I desire to point out that on 2nd August, 1907 - as will be seen by reference to the Journals of the Senate - on the motion for the second reading of the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie Railway Survey Bill, Senator Mulcahy moved the following amendment, viz., to leave out all the words after “ that “ with a view to add “ in view of the fact that the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments have entered into a provisional agreement for the transfer to the Commonwealthof the Northern Territory, and that the question of the construction of railways by the Commonwealth through the State of South Australia is intimately associated with and largely dependent upon the acceptance or non-acceptance of such agreement by the Federal and South Australian Parliaments, the Senate is of opinion that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill should be withdrawn until both Parliaments have dealt with the said agreement.”
– Was debate allowed upon that amendment?
– I may mention that when Senator St. Ledger gave notice of his intention to move the amendment which he has submitted, I looked carefully into this question with a view to seeing if such an amendment would be in order. Upon reading the Standing Orders, my first impression was that they would preclude it from being accepted by the Chair. But I would point out that standing order 190 reads -
No other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to theB ill .
The amendment which Senator St. Ledger has moved is, I think, strictly relevant to the Bill, and I am confirmed in that opinion by quite a number of precedents which may becited, including the one which has already been quoted by Senator Chataway, and which is to be found upon page 51 of the Journals of the Senate for 1907-8. I may add that a similar proposal was submitted by Senator McColl on the motion for the second reading of the Bounties Bill on 23rd August, 1907. On that occasion he moved to leave out all the words after “ that “ with a view to add “ in the opinion of this Senate, the development of agriculture will be better attained by a carefully-organized system of agricultural education and scientific experiment than by the giving of bounties, and that proposals for such a system be formulated and submitted for consideration; and this Bill, or so much of it as relates to agriculture, be held over until such is done, and the same be communicated to the House of Representatives.”
– Upon what page does the record of that amendment appear?
– Upon page 80 of the Journals of the Senate for 1907-8. That amendment was accepted, and the debate upon it proceeded. I think it is better that we should adhere to our own practice, and therefore I rule that the amendment is in order.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mcdougall) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
I should like to point out that serious complaints have been made in the past from the various States, in regard to delay in proceeding with works and buildings. Every honorable senator is aware that, according to the Constitution, money voted by Parliament for certain purposes must, if not spent before the termination of the financial year, be re- voted. Therefore, it will be recognised that as early as possible in the new financial year an appropriation should be made in order that works may be proceeded with. I desire to summarize the position in regard to this measure.
– Order. I was in error in allowing the honorable senator to proceed with a speech upon the motion for the first reading of the Bill. I find that this is a Bill which the Senate can amend, and, therefore, there can be no debate upon the motion for the first reading, which must be taken as a formal matter.
– Under what standing order?
– Standing order 181 provides that -
Except as to Bills which the Senate may not amend, the question “ That this Bill be now read a first time “ shall be put by the President immediately after the same has been received, and shall be determined without amendment or debate.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
– Pursuant to notice, I now move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
I desire to explain that, although it is urgent that this Bill should be passed as speedily as possible, still, recognising the large issues contained in it, the Government have no desire to curtail debate in any way, or to lay an embargo upon the rights and privileges of honorable senators who desire to discuss the items fully. Therefore, the submission of this motion does not indicate that the Government wish to carry this Bill through to-day. Imerely desire to have it understood that our desire is to have the consideration of the measure proceeded with, and concluded without unnecessary delay, and without the intervention of any other business.
– I have no objection to the suspension of the Standing Orders, to allow this Bill to pass through all its stages without delay, provided we have a definite assurance that the Government will not attempt to bludgeon it through by an all-night sitting.
– Surely the assurance given is sufficient.
– I want the assurance to be a little more definite. The Vice-President of the Executive Council says that he desires the Bill to be passed as soon as possible. We all know that a strong Government, with sufficient numbers behind them might, if they chose, force the Bill through. I do not feel inclined to agree to that course. First and foremost, I think, that it would be an exceedingly bad practice to establish.
– “ Suspicion haunts the guilty mind.”
– We know what took place elsewhere, owing to the attitude assumed by the Government, and it is not unreasonable to assume that they might adopt a similar attitude here.
– I have already intimated that we do not expect the Senate to sit beyond the usual hour to-day.
– That is very satisfactory, and I thank the honorable senator for the assurance. As a general rule, it is a bad practice to suspend Standing Orders to allow Bills to go through. As a matter of fact, the Government can always avoid the necessity for doing so by bringing in their Bills a little earlier. The urgency of this measure lies in the fact that it is desired to authorize the Government to proceed with important new works. I have no objection to that, provided the Senate is afforded ample time to consider matters which the Government themselves have had full opportunities for considering. The Government have taken as long as they liked to consider this Bill, and now they come and ask us to pass it as rapidly as possibles
– There will be no delay if honorable senators do not want to make a bother about the Federal Capital site !
– There are other things in the Bill requiring ample discussion.
– Nobody wants to curtail discussion.
– Elsewhere members were compelled to sit all night, and to pass the Bill at one sitting. There cannot be adequate debate under such circumstances. It is wise that we should avoid such a situation here.
– Cannot the honorable senator accept an assurance?
– I am merely offering a few remarks with regard to the suspension of the Standing Orders, which I consider an undesirable thing to do in connexion with a Bill of this kind. We are asked to authorize the expenditure of over £2,300,000, and it must be remembered that even that sum is not the total expenditure involved. There are items in the Bill which may necessitate the expenditure of millions of money. This is a very serious thing, and the fullest opportunity should be afforded for debate.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [11.11J. - The Vice-President of the Executive Council has stated that everybody recognises the desirableness of promptly passing this Bill into law. The honorable senator was strikingly correct, but he would have been more accurate if he had said that everybody except the Government recognise the urgency of the matter. Surely they would not have taken five months in which to prepare this measure for submission to Parliament if they had been seized with a sense of the urgency of the proposal.
– This is the earliest period of the session when such a Bill has ever been presented.
– I am satisfied with the assurance that in proceeding with this measure, nothing will take place that will be out of the ordinary course. But it should be remembered that this Bill comes to us for the first time to-day. It comes up in such a way that none of us has had time to look into it.
– The honorable senator knows that every item in the Bill is contained in the Estimates, which were laid before Parliament on Wednesday.
– It may be so; but the demands made upon our time by our parliamentary duties are so great that it is impossible to look ahead at the work which is coming on j and it is only when we know that to-day or to-morrow a’ proposal is likely to come before us that we can find time to look into it. I am quite aware that the items of this Bill are copied from the Estimates, but inasmuch as the Standing Orders prescribe a regular procedure, we have a right to assume that a Bill will be taken through its proper sequence of forms and that we shall have full opportunities of looking into it.
– The honorable senator had an opportunity days ago.
– I did not know that the Standing Orders were to be suspended days ago.
– The honorable senator knew that every item in the Bill was contained in the general Estimates.
– As a matter of fact, I have not had time to look into the Budget papers. What is more, I have not received a copy of them in the usual manner..
– I have not received a copy of them yet.
– Nor have I.
– I had to make a special application for the papers to-day.
– That must be the fault of the officers.
– Why were not the papers sent to us in the usual manner?
– That consideration is beyond my point. There is no necessity to get warm about the matter. I .am not seeking to oppose this motion. But I say that a practice is growing up of moving the suspension of the Standing Orders whenever these measures are brought before the Senate. If the Senate is content that that should become a fixed and settled practice, we might just as well by resolution inform another place that it need not bother us with any financial proposals, and may, in future, take them as formally approved by the Senate. While I am satisfied with the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it is hardly- fair to ask the Senate to discuss this Bill at all at this stage. There are involved in it matters of policy - proposals for entering into new Government, enterprises, such as the creation of woollen factories and the manufacture of uniforms. These may be good or bad propositions, but no member of the Senate should be called on to discuss them immediately, without an opportunity of looking into them. Unless some public urgency arises, no question of the convenience merely of the Departments or Ministers can justify a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. The practice should be put down.
– The honorable senator’s Government brought in proposals for the establishment of factories in their Defence Bill. What did they mean by it ?
– We did not ask that the Standing Orders should be suspended for ‘the consideration of that Bill. It went through the ordinary procedure.
– It proves that the propositions to which the honorable senator has referred are not novel.
– Does Senator Pearce mean to say that when the Government bring forward a measure involving a new departure honorable senators should be given no opportunity to fully discuss it?
– A full opportunity of discussion is not given when the Standing Orders are suspended for the consideration of a Bill without delay. I impressupon Ministers and members of the Senate that if the Senate is to be afforded a proper opportunity to discharge its duties, this practice of suspending the Standing Orders will, sooner or later, have to be put a stop to.- I recognise the difficulties confronting us in attempting to take any action in opposition to a Government proposition of this kind. The moment the attempt is made, the matter assumes a party aspect, and the supporters of the Government rally to their aid. I, therefore, do not propose to take any steps in opposition to this motion, but I say that the obligation rests upon the members of the Senate to see that this practice is not made continuous. While the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is satisfactory so far as it goes, the time to be allowed for the discussion of the measure is practically useless when honorable senators have had no opportunity to look into the various proposals involved in the Bill.
– I have listened to speeches like those delivered by Senators Givens and Millen on several occasions.
– And the honorable senator hopes to listen to many more.
– No ; I hope, with Senator Millen, that the Senate will either put down its foot now, and refuse to suspend the Standing Orders, or will tamely retire from the field, and just say “ Ditto “ to the Estimates as they come up, or down, here from the House of Representatives. I intend to go a step further than Senator Millen or Senator Givens. I am going to vote against the suspension of the Standing Orders. From the time I first entered Parliament I have alwaysbeen opposed to the suspension of the Standing Orders. Fourteen or fifteenyears ago, when I became a member of the Queensland Parliament, one of the things which the Labour party objected to most strongly was the suspension of the Standing Orders when money Bills were brought before the House. I agreed with my party then. I thought the practice was a bad one: I think so still, and I am going to vote against it on this occasion. Why have we Standing Orders at all? Their purpose is to secure the adequate discussion of matters brought before Parliament, to prevent the rushing through of business without proper consideration.
– I have heard the honorable senator declare that their purpose is to prevent proper discussion.
– It very often is ; but one of their purposes is to secure proper discussion. We have a money Bill here which not only proposes the expenditure of about £2,500,000, but involves new policies. It was placed in our hands only a few minutes ago. Why did it not come before us in the usual way ? Why did we get no previous information about it ? Why had we no opportunity to look into the items of the Bill, obtain information about them, and so equip ourselves for its discussion? We are sent here to overlook Commonwealth expenditure. What opportunity have the Government given us to do so? None. I do not expect anything from a Government of which Senator Millen, say, is a member.
– Yet such a Government was the first to give the Senate an opportunity of discussing the Budget.
– I said I did not expect anything, though it is true that we got a little from such a Government. But I do expect a great deal from a Labour Government. I expect that when a Labour Government is in power ideas of justice and equity in the treatment of members of Parliament will prevail. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for surely he will not toe disappointed. Here a Bill has just been put into our hands and the first reading lias been moved and carried. Now it is proposed that the Standing Orders should te suspended in order that the second reading may be moved and carried, and the discussion in Committee initiated and brought to a conclusion as early as the Government can contrive. What opportunity does that give honorable senators to consider the items of this Bill ? It gives them no proper opportunity, and I should be failing in my duty to my constituents if I voted for the suspension of the Standing Orders on this occasion. The ordinary procedure in connexion with the Bill is that when the first reading is moved and carried, the second reading is made an order for some future date. Between the first and second reading members have an opportunity to consider the provisions of the Bill and to prepare themselves for discussing it. We are given no such opportunity in connexion with this measure, and it appears as if the Government desire to rush it through without giving honorable senators a chance to deal with it in proper fashion. It would be bad enough for any Government to do that kind of thing in a free country, but it is much worse for a Labour Government to do it. We have always been pleading for honesty and straightforwardness in government, and when we get into power ourselves matters, .instead of being improved, become worse. I shall be no party to this sort of thing. Every member of the Senate who has any consideration for his personal responsibility in these matters should vote against this motion. The Government have ‘been poring over these Estimates for months. They have had ample opportunity to consider them, and so far as they are concerned they are cut and dried. But while they are responsible to Parliament for what they do, Parliament is responsible to the country. I wish to have an ample opportunity to deal with every matter that is brought before the Senate. That is not afforded honorable senators on the present occasion, and for that reason, if I can get any support, I shall vote against the proposed suspension of the Standing Orders.
.- I find myself in entire agreement with Senator Stewart. The action taken by the Government on this occasion is entirely unprecedented.
– The same action has always been taken.
– Never, previously, in any Parliament, have proposals for the spending of nearly £2,500,000 been thrust into members’ hands to be dealt with without their having had an opportunity of considering them.
– A Government the honorable senator supported closured the Works and Buildings Estimates through the House of Representatives last year.
– I was not a member of the House of Representatives last year. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in introducing this Bill, said that the money must be spent by the 30th June of next year. The Government will have ten months within which to spend the money, and they cannot allow honorable senators ten hours to look over the items.
– The Bill is not yet passed.
– Honorable senators may .have twenty hours, if they require that time.
– We are invited to believe that early action is necessary, because the money must be spent before the 30th June next year. Could anything be more puerile?
– The honorable senator is aware that the Government cannot call for a single tender, in connexion with the works proposed, until this Bill is passed.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council told us that there was nothing in this Appropriation Bill other, than provision for works. He said that it proposed no extraordinary expenditure, that it was comparatively unimportant, and the Senate need not hesitate to agree to the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– That is a wrong construction to put on anything I said.
– The honorable senator said that there was nothing in this Appropriation Bill other than provision for works, and. that it had nothing to do with ordinary expenditure.
– The honorable senator would misinterpret the Ten Commandments.
– Order. The Minister will have the right to reply.
– I was paying careful attention to the honorable senator’s remarks, and, later on, he somewhat ungracefully consented to say that we should have ample time to discuss the measure, because large issues were involved in it.
– There was nothing ungracious in my statement.
– We cannot ignore what took place elsewhere. We know from the press that these very proposals were bludgeoned through in another place, and if it were not for a suspicion that there would be some opposition here from some of their own suporters, I think the Government would have made an attempt to do the same thing in the Senate.
– That is gracious.
– Senator Pearce has said that we have had the Estimates before us, and ought to - know what they contain. The Estimates have not yet been distributed. They have been submitted to the Senate, but we have not yet received copies.
– All that the honorable senator had to do was to ask the attendant for a copy of the Estimates. I do not know why he was not supplied with one.
– When the Budget papers and Estimates of Expenditure were laid upon the table of the Senate the other day, no intimation was made that the Works and Buildings Estimates were to be brought forward to-day., and rushed through under a suspension of the Standing Orders.
– That has always been done in the past.
– The honorable senator is really too honest to believe what he has stated.
– I am surprised at the honorable senator being so ignorant of the practice here.
– Had an intimation been made the other day that the consideration of the Works and Buildings Estimates would be brought on soon, we should have known exactly what to do.’ We should have applied for copies, although we ought not to have to do that. At a moment’s notice we are asked to discuss a Bill which we have never seen, although it involves an expenditure of nearly ^2, 500,000. That is reducing the Senate to the position of a mere cypher. I agree with Senator -Stewart, that we art sent here to conserve the interests of the people, and to see that public money is properly expended. I for one shall not allow this motion to pass without testing the feeling of the Senate. The Bill contains new proposals, which involve the expenditure of large sums, and call for the fullest discussion. The Government should be satisfied with getting the first reading of the Bill, and allow honorable senators time in which to examine the Estimates. When the Minister says that he intends to give honorable senators full opportunity of discussing the Estimates, either he means what he says, or he does not. If he means what he says, there is no necessity for asking the Senate to suspend the Standing Orders, because that course could be resorted to next week if any delay occurred. This is a vicious proposal. It ought not to be made, except in a case of emergency. As the session has still three months to run, this motion is out of all reason, having regard to the large expenditure which is involved in the Bill, and the new proposals which it contains.
– I disagree with the opinions expressed by the Leader of the Opposition. He made the usual excuse, and expressed the hope that this course would not be resorted to again. That is a paltry way of dealing with the position. We should definitely decide whether our Standing Orders are to be suspended on every occasion of this kind. I tried to obtain a copy of the Estimates and the Budget papers, but I could not get one, even this morning. A few minutes before this sitting was begun, I saw a copy of the Bill in the hands of an honorable senator who sits on this side. I asked him where he got it, and he said, “ From the other side.” Is it fair for the Government to come down, and ask us to suspend the Standing Orders, in order to expedite the passing of .the Bill? Are honorable senators expected to pass Estimates as a matter of course, or are the Standing Orders to be suspended, and the Estimates to be pushed through? I shall always protest against a motion of this kind, no matter what Government may be in power. When any other Government was in power, the members of the Labour party always objected to a suspension of the Standing Orders, but the Labour Government adopt a worse method. On a Friday, when we always have a short sitting, they come down and move the suspension of the Standing Orders in order that an Appropriation Bill may be put through all its stages. The excuse which my leader made does not satisfy me. I decline to accept it. It is the excuse which is always made on these occasions, and matters are allowed to drift. It is time that a definite stand was taken. The Government have bad ample time to get full information concerning every item in these Estimates, but how can any honorable senator gather any information concerning an item if the Bill is to be passed today? It is a perfect farce for the Government to submit these Estimates to-day and ask us to deal with them forthwith. The Labour Government are creating a very bad precedent in compelling their supporters to proceed with the Bill at once. I think that they might very well be satisfied with getting the first reading to-day, and give us an opportunity to examine the various items. Unless an honorable senator has had a copy of the Estimates in his hands for a day or two he cannot know what is the proper thing to do. In the absence of information we cannot vote in an intelligent manner, and our only alternative will be to leave the chamber. I hope that the Government will’ see their way to postpone the second reading of the Bill .until Tuesday next, so that honorable senators generally may be in a position to discuss the schedule intelligently. I shall oppose the motion.
– I wish to disabuse the mind of Senator Sayers of any intention by the Government to force the Bill through in one sitting.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable senator made the statement not more than ten seconds ago that it was an unfair thing to do.
– To go on with the Bill now, I said.
– No such intention was in the mind of anybody on this side. Let me explain what a suspension of the Standing Orders means on an occasion of this kind. In the different States there is a desire to proceed with the works covered by this measure.
– A delay of twentyfour hours will not make very much difference.
– There are persons who require employment, and the public who require conveniences, as soon as possible.
– The same old gag.
– I think it is the duty of members of Parliament, particularly of senators, who represent the States, to put themselves to a little inconvenience in order to satisfy the requirements of their electors, and to promote the progress of the Commonwealth.
– We get the same old gag from both sides.
– All that a suspension of the Standing Orders means in a case of this kind is that we shall be able to proceed with the second reading of the Bill to-day, and thereby gain a day. The next advantage is that when the Bill has been read a second time, no matter when that event may occur, if it is reported from Committee with” an amendment, the report can be adopted at once, thereby saving another day, and the Bill can be read a third time forthwith. It does not mean that there will be any curtailment of debate either at the second-reading stage or in Committee.
– It means that we shall not have an opportunity of studying the various items.
– Honorable senators will have an opportunity to discuss the Bill. I hope that in order to expedite the passage of an important Bill which is necessary in the interests of the country honorable senators will agree to suspend the Standing Orders.
Question - That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time. 1 have no desire to repeat what I said when inadvertently I made a statement on the motion for the first reading, other than that the reasons for the introduction of the Bill at this time are, or ought to be, obvious to every honorable senator. The amounts which it appropriates are fairly large, and I intend to give a summary of them. I regret very much that the Budget papers have not been placed in the hands of honorable senators. However, I can assure them that they will be afforded ample opportunity of securing the fullest information in respect of the items contained in this Bill before it is finally passed. The amount which will be spent by the Department of Home Affairs during the current financial year is £546,145,less £76,604. Of course, that £76,604 is merely in the nature of an estimate. Upon every occasion, the different Departments have found it impossible to expend the full amounts which have been appropriated by Parliament, and consequently they have to estimate the sums which will remain unexpended on the 30th June next. In the case of the Department of Home Affairs, this amount is estimated at £76,604. The Postmaster-General’s Department intends to expend in various works and public services £688,000. I am sure that honorable senators and the public ought to feel gratified that the revenues of the Commonwealth have been sufficiently elastic to allow the Treasurer to set aside this large amount for the improvement of our Federal services. The expenditure of the Treasury Department during the current financial year is set down at£7,310. This amount is to be expended in providing additional machinery and plant for our printing office, and for stamp printing. Every honorable senator ought to rejoice that in the near future we intend to adopt a uniform postage stamp throughout Australia, and consequently ought tobe willing to provide the necessary machinery to enable that desirable reform to be introduced. In the Defence Department, we contemplate an expenditure of £1,159,645. Honorable senators who realize the position of Australia from a defence stand-point will, I am sure, feel gratified rather than surprised or enraged, that we propose to incur that expenditure. The total amount covered by this Bill is therefore £2,324,496. No doubt that sum is a large one, but the circumstances in which we find ourselves placed amply justify it. As I have already stated, the total expenditure by the Home Affairs Department will be £546,145. But the expenditure by the Home Affairs Department proper will be only £110,400. That expenditure includes £41,000 on store at Darling Island, Sydney, and £1,400 on the scheme for seasoning Australian timber, which has been advocated by so many honorable senators. This scheme will make provision for the seasoning of Australian timbers to be used in works undertaken by the Commonwealth. For the Military College, it is proposed to appropriate £10,000, and for the Federal Capital £50,000. In another place, the expenditure upon the Federal Capital was set. down at £45,000. The £5,000 by which the amount has been reduced is covered by the £76,604, to which I referred in dealing with the Department of Home Affairs. Then the sum of £5,000 is to be expended in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. That money will be spent in getting together a staff which will frame Estimates and prepare for a Bill which will be introduced next session, authorizing the construction of that railway. Upon a naval training school, it is proposed to spend £2,000, that is, towards cost of site and construction. I come now to an item which requires a little explanation. It relates to an expenditure of £1,000 upon Commonwealth Offices in London. The necessity for such offices has long been recognised, and the representatives of the Commonwealth in -London may at any time be afforded an opportunity to obtain a suitable site. But before a decision upon this question is arrived at, both Houses of Parliament will be asked to determine upon the wisdom or otherwise of accepting any particular site. Consequently I do not think that honorable senators need be afraid to authorize the expenditure of £1,000 in this connexion. In connexion with the Department of Trade and Customs it is proposed to expend £20,000 upon quarantine, this expenditure being under the control of the Department of Home Affairs. If honorable senators entertain any doubts in respect of the items relating to the Department of Trade and Customs, the Minister of Defence will be prepared to supply them with the fullest information. The £20,000 which it is proposed to expend upon quarantine will be distributed as follows : - New South Wales, £7,000; Victoria, £4,500; Queensland, £2,500; South Australia, £3,000; Western Australia, £1,700 ; and Tasmania, £1,300. In connexion with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department there will be an expenditure, ‘ also under the control of the Department of Home Affairs, of £221,305. That sum will include £18,000 which is to be spent in effecting improvements in the General Post Office, Sydney. Upon the Parcels Post Office in that city £9,000 will be expended, and on what I may term miscellaneous items there will be an expenditure °f £33,000 in New South Wales. That covers such matters as pillar posts and private letter boxes. In Queensland, the expenditure under the same heading will be £14,000, in South Australia £16,000, in Western Australia £15,000, and in Tasmania £4,000. The sum of £688,000 is provided for the improvement of the telegraphic and telephonic services, and this is under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The amount will be distributed as follows : - New South Wales, £207,000; Victoria, £265,000; Queensland, £71,600 ; South Australia, £53,400 ; Western Australia, £63,300 ; and Tasmania, £13,700. It is also proposed to appropriate £15,000 for the purposes of wireless telegraphy. I have now summarized the expenditure which is covered by the Bill, and honorable senators must recognise that it is all in the direction of affording increased facilities to the public by improving the services of the Commonwealth.
– In seconding the motion which has been submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, I desire to embrace the opportunity to explain the Defence Estimates which are contained in the Bill, because, of the total amount which it covers, namely, £2,324,496, the Defence Department accounts for £1,349,631, or more than one-half.
– Upon the last page of the Bill, the total expenditure of the Defence Department is set down at £1,159,645.
– That is the amount which the Department itself will expend. But there is an additional sum which will be expended on defence matters by the Department of Home Affairs and which will bring the total up to £1,349,631. This aggregate expenditure represents an increase over the actual expenditure of last year of £890,774. Of that amount, however,- £850,000 is intended to cover payments on the armoured cruiser which the Commonwealth is having built as the flagship of our Australian fleet unit. There is thus a net increase of £40,774 upon the actual expenditure of last year and an excess of £50,669 upon the appropriation of that year. I now propose to deal with the itemsrelating to defence expenditure in the order in which they appear in this Bill, omitting those which are of a routine character and discussing only those which are of an extraordinary nature. The first is the vote of £ro,000 for the Military
College. This represents a vote entirely for building purposes, and not in any sense for the purposes of any particular site. Therefore, the question of the Capital site <does not arise in this connexion. If any amendment is to be moved on the question of the Capital site, it should, therefore, be moved on the main vote, and not on this vote.
– Is the Minister separating himself from, or identifying himself, with his colleagues on the Capital site question?
– What does the honorable senator mean? His remark is so ridiculous th’at I do npt intend to answer it. This £10,000 is for buildings, some of which are to be of a permanent, and others of a temporary, character. The vote also covers expenses in connexion with the staff. As to the College itself, naturally the first step to be taken is to determine where it is to be placed. The Defence Department has decided that the College shall be at or contiguous to the Federal Capital. We have, therefore, obtained a report from the Commandant as to which site in the vicinity of the proposed Federal Capital he considers to be the most suitable. He has chosen a certain site, and a report upon it has been submitted to ‘the Home Affairs Department, which will deal with the acquisition of the land, and so forth.
– Will the site be in the city area proper?
– Oh, no; the Commandant “has set his face against establishing the College in the Federal city. It will be contiguous to, but not actually in, the city ; but, of -course, it will be within the” Federal Territory. The Home Affairs Department will determine precisely where the College shall be situated at the site selected by the Commandant.- Naturally, it is not for the Defence Department to pick out a particular site. If each Department were to pick out a site for its own purposes, there would be no plan or orderin the laying out of the Federal Territory. The Defence Department indicates a suitable situation, and it is for the Home Affairs Department to work out a homogeneous plan.
– Should not the Military College be established at the seaboard ?
– No; this is not to be a Naval College. Near the site selected there are certain buildings now in existence which may be useful for the temporary purposes of the Military College, while the permanent buildings are being erected. We want to commence our work, because it is urgent that we should have our officers trained for the purposes of the new scheme. It cannot work perfectly otherwise. We propose, while the permanent buildings are being erected, to make use of temporary buildings. Their erection will be in accordance with plans prepared by the Home Affairs Department, and there will be no waste, because they will be utilized hereafter. The staff will require for certain purposes a large number of workmen to be housed. The plan of the Home Affairs Department is this: They will erect temporary buildings in the first place, which will be used for the Military College, and when the permanent buildings are erected these temporary ones will be used in another part of the Federal Territory for other works, and for the housing of the staff in connexion therewith. Consequently, the buildings will be of such a nature as to enable them to be removed to the place where they are required.
– It would lead to an immense saving if a railway were built at once.
– It is a favourite habit of mine to try and draw speakers off the track, but I hope that I shall not be repaid in my own coin. I come now to the item of £2,000 for the Naval Training School. The vote is required “ Towards cost site and construction.’’ Two educational establishments will have to be commenced in connexion with, the proposed naval unit - a Naval College for the education of the officers, and a Training School for the personnel. As regards the Naval College, it may be remembered that the residents of Sydney some time ago contributed to what was known as. a Dreadnought Fund. After the Imperial Conference, when it was decided that an Australian unit should be established, the subscribers to the fund held a meeting, and resolved to offer to the Commonwealth Government a sum of £40,000, contingent on the moneybeing ear-marked for the purposes of a Naval Training College to be established contiguous to Sydney. The late Fusion Government accepted that offer with the stipulated condition, and after investigation a site at Middle Head was chosen. The present Government do not propose to disturb that arrangement. We accept the offer, and adhere to the site selected. But, as we have invited Admiral Henderson to visit the Commonwealth to advise us on naval matters, we do not propose to take any definite steps in the matter until that officer has had an opportunity of making any remarks that he may choose to make on the question. This vote of £2,000, however, has nothing to do with that College. It has entirely to do with the Training School for the personnel of the Navy. In certain quarters criticism has been directed at the proposal to establish a school on land for naval purposes. Indeed, a great deal of scorn has been poured on the idea. But, if our critics inquired as to the method pursued in the country that leads the world in naval matters, they would ascertain that the same thing is done there.The naval schools at Deptford and other places are used for the same purpose as will be the naval school which we are establishing. The school will be near the sea, in order that the men whom we train may receive education on the same lines as are pursued at similar schools in Great Britain. No site has yet been chosen, as that matter is one upon which we shall take the advice of Admiral Henderson.
– Has any estimate been prepared as to the total cost ?
– No; as we were not able to tell the Home Affairs Department where we propose to establish the school, it was not possible for them to make an estimate as to the cost. The next item to which I direct attention is on page 6 of the Bill. It will be observed that similar items appear in connexion with the votes for each State. If I explain what is intended in regard to one vote, it will be understood that the same applies to the remainder. Item 11 is a vote of £1,000 for “ Stabling and other buildings for military horses,” New South Wales. This item represents part of the expenditure in connexion with a new departure in policy.
-. - Is there not an item elsewhere in the Bill for the purchase of horses ?
– There is an item for the purchase of remounts in the general Estimates, but not in this Bill. What we have in our minds is this : It has long been represented by military authorities that our system of hiring horses for the Field Artillery is eminently unsatisfactory. At present we have to put up with untrained horses, and the consequence is that . the Field Artillery never have the amount of training that they ought to get. The limited time which the members of the corps have at their disposal has to be largely employed in training horses, when it ought to be devoted to training the men. There is a consensus of opinion amongst our officers that we shall never have anefficient Field Artillery until we possess trained horses. The Government, therefore, propose to make a commencement towards providing permanent horses for the Militia Field Artillery throughout Australia. This policy, of course, involves the purchase of a considerable number of horses.
– Do the Government intend to establish a stud farm?
– If, at the conclusion of my speech, I have left anything unexplained, I shall be glad to answer questions, but, meanwhile, I should like to be permitted to deal with these matters in due order. Each battery of the Field Artillery will require eighty-eight horses. We propose to purchase 1,335 this year. At a later stage we shall bring up that number to 2,880. We propose to purchase a number of horses each year, and this vote is for the purpose of stabling them. Obviously, if we purchase horses we shall need men to look after them. The militia cannot attend to them, as they are following their civil avocations when they are not undergoing training. It is, therefore, proposed that in each State there shall be a permanent battery of Field Artillery. These permanent batteries will serve two purposes. At present we have what is known as the Instructional Cadre of the Royal Australian Artillery. These members are really members of the Garrison Artillery. But under the existing Defence Act we have ho permanent Field Artillery, and to get round the Act - because that is what it amounts to - and to secure the necessary instruction for the Field Artillery, some members of the Garrison Artillery have been trained as Field Artillery, and have been called the Instructional Cadre. As such, they have given instruction, and have acted as a model battery. We have power under the new defence scheme to do what is required directly. We shall have in. each State a model battery of Field Artillery, to the standard of which the militia batteries will work up, and to which officers of the militia batteries will be attached from time to time for training. They will be stationed at the dep6ts where the horses are kept, arid will do the necessary work in connexion with feeding and attending to them. In order to keep down the expense, we propose to acquire sufficient land adjacent to the capital cities - sufficiently near to be within reach of the militia batteries - to enable us to have a grass run for our horses, and probably also grow some feed for them. In that way we believe we shall be able to keep down expenses.
– Does the honorable senator mean that it is proposed to cultivate feed for them.
– It is quite possible. For instance, we have some land at
– It would be wise to leave that alone.
– The honorable senator’s old-fashioned idea that the State cannot do anything, has been bowled out long ago. His colleagues in Flinderslane are howling just now about the State entering into competition with State enterprise in mining for coal. If the State can mine for coal, it can grow oats. We propose that the permanent field batteries shall be stationed at the farm depots. They will train there, not only the horses »f their own teams, but horses required for militia batteries. So, then, when on a Saturday or a holiday a militia’ battery turns out for parade training they will bave not only the advantage of training alongside a permanent artillery battery by whose work they will be able to judge their own, but of using fully-trained horses .
– And those horses, can. be used to plough the lands to grow their own feed.
– Of course they can. There is no provision for the purpose made in these Estimates, but it is only fair that the Government should indicate what is in their minds. We propose, because we are firmly convinced of the wisdom of the proposal, to establish a horse breeding depot in Australia. This will be established at some central spot from which the other depots can be readily supplied, and, if necessary, horses requiring a spell can be turned out there. It is proposed this year to establish these field batteries only in Melbourne and Sydney. In subsequent years they will be extended, and we may at first have half batteries in the smaller States. Eventually we hope to be able to establish farm dep6ts throughout the Commonwealth of permanent units of field artillery in the way I have described.
– After the Government have secured all the horses required for the purpose, what annual draft will be. needed to keep up the strength ?
– I do not know that I have that information. I have particular as to what this vote represents. It represents shelter sheds in each case for 50 horses, forage sheds, forges, pharmacies, quarters for housing non-commissioned officers and men, latrines, stables for sick horses, and store sheds. The vote of £2,000 does not represent the total expenditure required. It is merely a vote towards that expenditure. The Home Affairs Department supplies the following estimate of the cost of the stables - for New South Wales, £9,435; Victoria, £9,435 ; Queensland, £4,385 ; South Australia, £2,600; Western Australia, £2,600; Tasmania, £3,305; or a total of £31,760. That will provide accommodation in the several States for 1,445 horses.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is contemplated at first to establish only two batteries in Sydney and Melbourne ?
– Yes, but we propose, towards the end of the year, to commence the erection of buildings of this character in the Federal Capital, and in the other State capitals, so that when next year, we submit the full vote required, the buildings will be on the way to completion. Senator Millen asked me what would be the. annual draft of horses required to keep up the strength. The only information I have on the subject here is that it will require £30,000 for upkeep, including the purchase of horses.
– I should like to know the number of horses that will be required annually ?
– I am informed that it is anticipated that the number of horses that will be required each year is 140; that is, of course, when the scheme is in full operation in each State, the farm depots are established, and the militia batteries fully horsed. I pass over a large number of items of a routine character which can be explained in Committee, if necessary. I direct the attention of honorable senators to item 18, on page 8 of the Bill “Maribyrnong - Site, buildings and engineering works, for cordite factory - £39,300. “ This work, as honorable senators are aware, has been in progress for some time, and we hope to see the factory in working order before the end of this year. Everything is going on satisfactorily, and we expect soon to be able to commence the supply of our own cordite. I may be asked whether we are still ordering cordite, and I say that we are doing so, because this is a matter in connexion with which we cannot afford to take any risks. There might be some hitch at the commencement of the work of the factory, and we have therefore taken stepsto keep our reserves fully up to the mark, notwithstanding the fact that we hope shortly to be making our own cordite.I pass a number of other routine items and direct attention to the item on page 26, “ Warlike stores, including field and machine guns, vehicles, harness and saddlery, arms, accoutrements, ammunition, and other regimental and personal equipment - £200,000.” If honorable senators will look at the Estimates-in-Chief they will find that it is estimated that the total expenditure on this account will be £584,110. For the information of the Senate I quote from the minute dated 8th June,1910, from the QuartermasterGeneral to the Minister, which originated the matter -
I direct attention to the fact that this refers to the existing establishment.It means that if we were asked to put the existing establishment into the field on a war basis, it would be short of that equipment. That is a very serious statement, but it is a fact, and much of the equipment is very necessary equipment, too. In view of all the circumstances the Government felt, not only that they should arrange for an adequate force in numbers, but that the rime has arrived when it is necessary to put the existing force on a proper war basis. It is a huge vote, I admit, but the money is absolutely required. The Quartermaster-General’s minute continues -
Though the estimate is £300,000, honorable senators will see that a sum of only £200.000 is provided for in this Bill. The Secretary of the Defence Department has the letting of contracts, and when he came to inquire into the various items of the schedule submitted, he gave it as his opinion that, even if Parliament passed a vote of £300,000 for the purpose, it would be possible only for the Government to spend £200,000 during the remainder of the financial year. The fact that we are asking less than the estimate submitted by the Quartermaster-General does not indicate that there will be any unnecessary delay in this matter, but that the amount asked for is all that the Government expect to be able to spend within the financial year. The next item is “ Supply of cloth for uniforms required by troops on the commencement of universal training (adult) - £50,000.” This is necessary, because we shall have some 100,000 senior cadets coming into the forces from January to July of next year, and we hope that, in July, when the training commences, we shall be able to supply each member of the force with a uniform.
– This will not be the annual charge?
– No; the annual charge will not amount to nearly so much.
– What is to be the colour of the uniform?
– Khaki. This is special expenditure, because the forces are not in existence now.
– Are the Government going to manufacture the cloth here?
– Yes; I am speaking of the cloth ; I am not referring to the making-up of the uniforms. We are taking steps to induce a larger number of the factories to take our contracts. In the past we have advertised, and those who pleased have tendered, but we are taking steps now to send officers to firms in each of the States to give them a full statement of our requirements and invite them to tender for our contracts.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It may be necessary to make slight alterations in the specifications, and that will be discovered by visiting the mills.
– I do not know that that is so. It may be necessary to make some slight alterations upon the way in which firms have been treated in the past in regard to compliance with specifications.
– What does the honorable senator mean?
– I mean in the direction of compelling them to carry out the specifications, particularly as to time.
– As to quality, also.
– Quality also, but particularly as to time.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - If the Government specified a time at which they would require certain quantities the trouble would be overcome.
– No, that is not the trouble. Our experience in the past has been that a firm takes a contract for the supply of so many thousand yards of material. If the factory is busy, the contract is put on one side, and when things are slack a few thousand yards of defence material are run out.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Particular times might be fixed at which specified quantities would be required.
– That has been done, but complacent Ministers have, from time to time, been approached by contractors who have said, “ We are very busy. We have received a big contract from private persons, will you allow us a month’s extension of time?” The extension asked for has been allowed on several occasions. In one case I found that a contract which ought to have been completed in a year went on for years. When I enforced the provisions of the contract, and imposed a fine, a member of the last Parliament threatened to move the adjournment of the House because of the injustice done in interfering in such a way with private enterprise.
– The Minister should have invited him to do so, and so have exposed the whole thing.
– He was invited to do so.
– There is another side to the matter. Firms that have been ready to supply material have been told by the Department, “We do not want it this month. Hold it for a month or two.”
– On page 27 of the measure, honorable senators will find an item of £6,000 for a small arms factory. The buildings are in course of erection. An ex-Minister of Defence has stated that we are proceeding very leisurely, but I do not know what he meant by the remark.
A contract was let for the supply of the necessary machinery, but the contract time has not yet expired, as the honorable gentleman ought to have known.
– At Lithgow?
– No, in America. I am speaking of the machinery required for the manufacture of rifles in a small arms factory. The ex-Minister of Defence ought to know that a contract was let in New South Wales for the supply of the power, and that the time for the completion of the contract has not yet expired. The buildings are in course of erection, but they will be of no use without the machinery. When it is ready, the buildings will be ready.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The contract time will expire very shortly.
– Will this item of £6,000 complete the expenditure?
– I understand so, though it is possible that further moneymay be required in the way of supplying raw material to the factory. Recently, the Department has received certain communications, on which I am not yet in a position to make a statement, but which indicate that possibly we shall require a further vote for that purpose. I have already referred to the vote for the cordite factory, and now I wish to refer to the item for guns, mountings, ammunition, and electric lights. If honorable senators will turn to the main Estimates, they will find that whereas last year the vote was £60,000, and the expenditure £59,000, this year we are only asking for a vote of £2,000. It applies to forts and other defended points. Honorable senators may assume that we are slackening in the policy of re-arming fortified places, but that is not so. In the past, the guns and the mountings have always been procured from the Old Country. When Sir Thomas Ewing was Minister of Defence, an agitation was raised as to the possibility of getting the mountings made in Australia. He instituted inquiries, which have been pursued by each succeeding Minister, and when I took office recently I had the pleasure of being in a position to call for tenders for the local manufacture of the mountings, not for the field guns, but for the fortress guns. As I have said, they have never yet been made in Australia ; in fact, no similar work has been undertaken here, but the local manufacturers assured us that they believed that they could make them. I am glad to say that we have had a large number of inquiries since we called for tenders, and we are hopeful that we shall have satisfactory replies to our request, and that these gun mountings will be made here in the future. But the fact of our getting the mountings made locally renders it unnecessary to ask for a large vote for 6-in. guns on this year’s Estimates. If we were to order guns ‘this year, the mountings for them would not be ready. We do not expect to have any of these mountings supplied until well into next year, and, therefore, there would be no object in asking the Parliament to vote money for guns. That does not mean, however, that the work of re-arming the fortresses is going to stop. We have on order five 6-in. guns to be mounted in the Commonwealth. That will enable us to go on with the work of making the emplacements, mounting them, and carrying out the year’s programme. As regards next year, locally-made mountings will be ready for carrying on our programme. If we were to order guns this year, we should not require them, and therefore, we have cut down the vote to that extent. Towards the establishment of a woollen cloth factory, a uniform clothing factory, and a harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements factory, we ask for the appropriation of certain sums. No doubt, these items will provoke a certain amount of discussion, but the time has arrived, I contend, when the Parliament should sanction this departure. The Defence Department is a very large consumer ©f clothing and saddlery. We desire to get uniformity, to a certain extent, in the quality of our material. Under the existing system, we get the very reverse. Our contracts are split up into a countless variety of small contracts. Take, for instance, contracts for the supply of uniforms.
– Is not that a concession to parochialism?
– I do not think it is. We pay to each corps a cloth and contingent allowance, which is sufficient to enable the corps to clothe its various members. The officer commanding makes his requisition for cloth. That is supplied by the Department, which has previously obtained under contract a supply from different firms, and very often of different qualities. The Commandant then calls for tenders for the making of the uniforms, and with surprising results in the various
States, it may be even in one State. Take, for instance, light horse uniforms. The jackets are all of one type, and made of the same cloth. In New South Wales, they cost from 23s. 3d. to 25s. ; in Victoria, 26s. 6d. to 27s. 6d. j in Queensland, 16s. 6d. to 20s. ; in South Australia, 24s. 3d. ; and in Tasmania, 28s. 9d. For Western Australia, no quotation is given in the document from which I am quoting. Then, pantaloons made of khaki cord cost, in New South Wales, 21s.; in Victoria, 18s. 6d. ; in Queensland, 12s. 9d. ; in South Australia, 17s. 9d. j and in Tasmania, 24s. gd.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is that the price for the making of the article ?
– The cloth is provided by the Department, but the contractor is charged a certain price for it, and his contract represents the price of the garment.
– Does the Tasmanian manufacturer pay the same price for his cloth as does the Queensland manufacturer ?
– A uniform rate is charged.
– Does the Minister draw any inference from the larger price which is charged in Tasmania ?
– The (inference is that when the Department splits up its contracts into a countless number”, the price is very largely determined by the size of the contract. Obviously, in Tasmania there are few garments to be made, whereas in Victoria a large number have to be made, and, therefore, the contractor can afford to quote a smaller rate; but in Melbourne itself the cost of a uniform varies by as much as 6s., owing to this system. The Commandant calls for the tenders for each regiment. The Central Administration is responsible for the inspection of each article, and has to pay the bill. In my opinion, either we have to revolutionize the whole system, and take the contracts out of the hands of the commanding officers, or to do what I propose, and that is to establish a factory. There is another point to be considered, and that is that the present system is costly. Very often, the officers of the Department find that the tenders are given out just when there is a rush of business in the clothing factories. They must call for tenders at that time, and the consequence is that they get little or no response, and very high prices are demanded ; whereas, if they had their own factories, they would get a uniform price, which would be the cost of manufacture.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What is the average cost of the cloth each year?
– Six shillings a yard.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - How many yards of cloth are required each year?
– The annual requirements of cloth for military uniforms in the future are estimated at over 200,000 yards, which, at 6s. 4d. per yard, is valued at between £50,000 and £60,000 per annum. As regards the cloth factory, assuming that buildings are rented or otherwise provided, and that power, electrical or other, is not included, the machinery, fittings, and working stock will cost, new, practically £40,000. This is based upon working one shift per day, and the cost would be reduced by nearly £10,000 if it were decided to work two shifts. We want to be in a position to supply the uniforms when they are needed, and not to be dependent any longer upon whether a factory has its hands full or not. At present, as the tenders are always cut, our work is looked upon as glut work. We want to avoid that position.
– Is it proposed to have one factory, or a factory in several centres.
– That, of course, has not yet been determined.
– It is a very important detail.
– Does the Minister propose to limit the manufacture to goods which are wanted by the Government?
– What about the manufacture of uniforms for the Post and Telegraph Department?
– The PostmasterGeneral, I understand, proposes to cooperate with us.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - So that it will really be a factory for the manufacture of all governmental uniforms.
– Yes. It is not proposed to go into the open market. Senator O’Keefe asked whether it was proposed to establish a factory in one centre. As regards the cloth factory, the answer is “Yes.” Our demands would not be more than enough to keep one factory going. That is an obvious reason whywe should have only one cloth factory. I do not say that that applies to the clothing factory. It may be advisable to have tw» clothing factories.
– I should say that the Department ought to go to Queensland, where the prices are cheaper.
– That, of course, can be taken into consideration, but, so far, no decision has been arrived at on that point. In regard to the clothing factory, after the year 19 10-11 the cost of uniforms will be over £50,000 per annum, exclusive of the cost of cloth. Assuming that buildings be at first rented for the purpose, the capital cost required for plant will be about £5,000 at the commencement, exclusive of power. It is assumed that the work will commence with the supply of garments which have few variations in pattern ? To eventually add the manufacture of all uniform garments, including officers’, and perhaps those of other Departments, a few additional machines will be required, the cost of which will not exceed about £2,000. From 800 to 1,000 hands will be required. Under this scheme, we shall get uniformity in the matter of quality, which we do not get at present. We shall also get expedition, because the object of the Department will be to supply the uniforms when they are wanted, not when it is most convenient to supply them, as is the case with private manufacturers. Further, we shall be relieved of a numerous, and what is rapidly becoming a costly, inspecting staff. We shall also be relieved of the checking of sub-letting methods, of the task of preventing sweating, and of the one hundred and one abuses which appear to be inseparable from the contract system.
– And we should do away with a large amount of dissatisfaction which exists in the ranks.
– The scheme will be an interference with private enterprise.
– Undoubtedly ; but we believe that it will be justified. I need scarcely point out to honorable senators that another branch of our Defence Department uses a large quantity of harness and saddlery. During the next two years, harness and saddlery, to the value of £96,000, have been included in the material which is required to complete the organization for war. During subsequent years, the cost of the equipment necessary to provide for the annual increase under the scheme and for replacements, will amount to between £25,000 and £30,000. Excluding buildings and power, the machinery and tools required for an annual output of £50,000 worth of such stores will be £2,500. The wages bill will probably be about £300 per week. This factory we propose to establish, and it is just as important as is the clothing factory. We shall, of course, endeavour to combine the factories for the purpose of enabling us to have only one power plant with which to run the whole of the machinery. That is to say, we shall have a clothing factory and a harness factory combined.
– Will those factories be established at Canberra?
– The Government have not yet decided where they shall be established. But if no alteration be made in the selection of the Federal Capital site, there is no doubt that they ought to be established there. Upon these questions, I have obtained a report from a Departmental Committee, representing the Postal and Defence Departments. The Committee consisted of Mr. Pethebridge and Lt.-Colonel Legge, representing the Defence Department, and Mr. Charles E. Bright, and James A. Mason, representing the Postmaster-General’s Department. These gentlemen have an intimate knowledge of the matters upon which they reported, because they have to deal in their respective Departments with questions relating to the supply of uniforms and the contracts. In paragraph11 of their report, they say -
Having fully considered the whole question, and given due weight to the views expressed by the several witnesses examined, the Committee is of opinion that it would be a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth Service if a Government Clothing Factory were established. This would entail modifications or alterations with regard to certain details in the present system which are explained later on. The reasons which influence the Committee in forming this opinion are as follow : -
Better uniforms would be obtained at no greater and probably less cost.
Uniform prices for similar garments would obtain throughout the Commonwealth. Existing anomalies are shown in Appendix C.
In all cases material and workmanship would be subjected to a standard test.
Australian manufacture of material would be ensured.
The labour conditions and rates of wages of employees would be strictly under the control of the Government.
The Government in providing for its own requirements would be able to so arrange and regulate deliveries that any inconvenience would be reduced to a minimum.
The foregoing seem to me to be sound arguments, and we have to recollect that they are adduced by men who have had long experience of the working of the contract system. I now come to the Naval vote, under which provision is made for the reerection of the torpedo-boat destroyer Warrego at the Fitzroy Dock, New South Wales. The Government of that State have undertaken to put this vessel together at a cost, representing 10 per cent. in excess of the actual shop charges.
– She is to be sent out in sections?
– Yes. The material has been prepared and will be put together in the Fitzroy Dock.
– The vessel has already been put together ?
– Yes, as regards her main works. Division 12 provides for the payment of £850,000 towards the cost of our Fleet Unit for the naval defence of the Commonwealth ; and that provision gives effect to the Government’s policy of paying for defence out of revenue. This money is intended to be devoted towards the cost of the building of our first class armoured cruiser. It does not include any sum towards the cost of construction of the other cruisers and torpedoboat destroyers. At this stage, I do not intend to say what is the Government policy in regard to them. I shall reserve my remarks under that heading until we come to deal with the Naval Bill.
– This expenditure relates exclusively to the big ship?
– Yes. But the fact that no vote appears on these Estimates for the construction of the other vessels of our Fleet Unit, must not be interpreted to mean that they are not to be built, or that their construction will not be commenced in sufficient time to allow of the completion of that unit in 1912. Our advice is that ample time will remain for the completion of the work within the period indicated. I do not think that there is any other item relating to defence to which I need direct the attention of honorable senators.
– If anything were necessary to demonstrate the desirableness of furnishing the Senate with ample opportunities for considering these Estimates, it was supplied by the speech of the Minister of Defence. He touched upon at least a dozen subjects, any one of which would afford any honorable senator considerable call for a close examination of the subjects referred to before being sufficiently informed to vote upon them. lt is impossible to follow the Minister in the short time that has been placed at our disposal, more particularly in view of the method in which these accounts are presented to us. I should like at the beginning to draw attention to the way in which the figures come before us for consideration. It appears to me that it would be possible to prepare the public accounts in a form which would more nearly approximate to simplicity than that adopted in the papers furnished in connexion with the Bill nO’V under discussion. We find, for example, that the Estimates of the Defence Department are summarized on page 70 of the general Estimates against the line “ Total, Department of Defence.” I emphasize that word “ Total.” The amount given is £1,251,362. An ordinary unsophisticated man would naturally assume that that meant what was ordinarily meant by the word. But on the same page there is another item in which the “ total “ cost of the Department is set down as £1,499,750. There cannot be two “ totals,” using the word in its ordinary sense of the aggregate. Yet on the one page we find these two amounts. I have no doubt that there is an explanation, but I am pointing out the complicated way in which accounts are submitted for our consideration. On the same page the Estimates for new works are set down as £1,334,145. Yet in the Bill which covers these new works the amount is given as £1,159,645. I know that there is an explanation of all these things, but it ought not to be necessary for honorable senators to ha.ve to question Ministers for one. Ought not these papers to show on the face of them, as an ordinary accountant’s book would do, what the cost of a particular Department is? Yet here you have to make additions from and subtractions to, and to dive into the figures relating into other Departments, in order to find out what is wanted. I draw attention .to this point, because I believe it is possible to present our accounts in such a form that at a mere glance one could ascer tain what the cost of a Department was. Of course, if the matter be left to departmental officers we shall never have a reform brought about. They are not likely to shift from the methods they have adopted unless an intimation be given to them that these accounts must be presented so that he who runs may read.
– Why did not the honorable senator shake up the officers when he was a member of a Government?
– Honorable members opposite did not leave us long enough in office to shake up anybody. It is one of the unfortunate aspects of parliamentary life that when one makes a suggestion, instead’ of its being received on its merits there is an immediate attempt to turn it to party purposes. I am suggesting that a certain thing should be done, and am showing the reason why.
– The suggestion is pertinent ; but why did not the honorable senator make it when he had a chance of having it carried out?
– Let me say for the sake of peace with my honorable friend - which I always desire to maintain - that all past Governments were full of iniquity, and that, perhaps, this Government is full of righteousness. I am not pretending that a much superior Government to that at present in office could do everything in a day, but I am suggesting for the consideration of the House and the Ministers possibilities of improvement.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– Surely we can consider a suggestion of this kind altogether apart from party ties. I come to the Bill itself. The first item which attracts my attention is one which in itself may be innocent enough except for the terms used in stating it. There is an item of £5,000 towards the cost of the construction of the Western Australian railway.
– What an awful crime !
– It is a crime in this way. The construction of the railway may be desirable, but this Parliament has never yet approved of its construction. That is all that I am saying. If the Government wish to commit Parliament definitely to the construction of the railway it ought to proceed by specific Bill. Parliament, so far, has approved of a survey, and has provided funds for the purpose of acquiring information to enable it to say whether or not the railway shall be constructed.
– That is what the vote really means.
– Then, all that I can say is that the Government are deficient in language - a fault of which I never suspected them hitherto - when they express their intention by saying that the money is to be spent “ towards cost of construction “ of the railway.
– The honorable senator surely does not want us to enter into labyrinthine verbosity to express the meaning.
– My honorable friend need not pretend to be so innocent. Let him give us an assurance on the subject. Is this amount to be devoted to the actual construction of the railway or towards that preliminary work which will enable Parliament to arrive at a decision?
– Everything that is done in the matter will be “ towards “ railway construction.
– That reply merely fences with the question. ‘ I believe that honorable senators will not be satisfied that the Government should undertake a big national undertaking of this kind without first obtaining the sanction of Parliament. So far Parliament has never approved and never been asked to approve of the construction of the railway.
– The general election settled all these things.
– There- is only one way of interpreting that remark, and that is that tine Government, having obtained a majority, are quite prepared to’ ignore all parliamentary procedure and simply carry out those projects which their majority will enable them to accomplish. Well, I do not believe that any authoritative statement to that effect will be made by a responsible Minister.
– The will of the people is above members of Parliament.
– The will of the people never sanctioned this project. The simple proposition which I put to the Senate is this : Do we believe that this or any other Government should have the right to enter upon a big national undertaking without first giving Parliament the opportunity of say-‘ ing whether it approves or not? If this vote be merely for the purposes of a survey one cannot raise any demur, but when the vote is set against the words “ towards cost of construction “ of the railway, we have a right to say that construction is something which this Government has no right to undertake. There is another vote of £1,000 towards the cost of erection of Commonwealth Offices in London.. I should like to know whether a site has yet been selected, or whether this £1,000 is simply . for the , purpose of paying for a preliminary inquiry. If that be the case, it seems to me to be an excessive amount for the High Commissioner to spend in order to ascertain whether we can buy land in London. If, on the other hand, some contract has been entered into or some arrangement made, the Senate should be furnished with information about it. The last I heard of the matter was that negotiations were practically terminated with respect to the site previously under consideration. If fresh negotiations have been opened, I submit that the Senate is entitled to such information as the Government have, at their disposal. Turning now to the matters dealt with by the Minister of Defence - and for the information which he gave honorable senators should be extremely thankful - I should like to say at once that I am very pleased indeed to see that the Defence Department and the Minister are determined to press on with the establishment of the Military College. ‘ Whatever views we may hold as to the principles by which our Citizen Army should be governed, we must recognise that the success or failure of that army is going to depend largely upon the extent to which we can train those who will in turn train the Army itself and lead it. For that reason I am extremely pleased to see - irrespective of where the College is to be situated - that the Minister is determined to make this work mature at the earliest possible date. I pass- from that to another matter - that of the purchase of remounts. Here, again, I think the Department is taking an extremely wise step. Nothing more absurd could be imagined than that our artillery should have to rely upon horses hired haphazard for a few days, to be returned again to their ordinary work after the period of hiring has expired. It does not require argument to show that you cannot get suitable or trained horses in that way. The Department in deciding to purchase horses for its own purposes has taken a step which will commend itself to every one. .But there is a very, big difference between the purchase of houses and the breeding of them ; and whilst the question of the breeding of horses is not now under discussion, yet, as the Minister has intimated that it is his intention to move in that direction, I take advantage of the opportunity to say that it seems to me to be absolutely ridiculous, for the purposes of a Department which requires only about 140 horses per annum, to go to all the expense and trouble of breeding them, in view of the fact that Australia to-day, in contradistinction to European countries, is exporting far more horses than the Government will require. However, there will be an opportunity “of discussing that aspect of the case when the proposal comes definitely before us. Unless I misunderstood the Minister, there seems to be an unnecessary item in connexion with this vote for the stabling of horses. I understood him to say that so far he proposes to have these purchased horses in only two of the capital cities. Yet we have here proposals to build stables in other States as well. I cannot understand why it is necessary to incur this expense unless the Department is prepared to purchase horses in other States also.
– I think that the Minister explained that the money would not be spent unless it were required.
– What is the use of having the items on the Estimates if the money is not to be spent ?
– Suppose the Department purchased the horses and had no stabling for them ? What would be done with them in the meantime?
– I understood the Minister to say that it is proposed in this first year to start this new system in the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. That being so, I should like to know what necessity there is for loading these Estimates with accounts for stables a year before the horses are purchased. There, may be an explanation, and, if so, I should be glad to get it. On this subject I will make a suggestion if the Government will receive it. I put the matter in that way because I am inclined to say, from experience of the Defence Department, that it is not prepared to accept any suggestions from any one except its own officers. The Minister stated that he intended to acquire, adjacent to these two larger cities, grazing lands upon which the horses could be turned out ; and he pointed out that it would be necessary to have those lands close at hand for convenience in obtaining the horses when they were required. I venture to say, however, that that policy may be a mistake. To illustrate what I mean, let me deal with Sydney, with the surroundings of which I am more familiar than I am with those of the other capital cities. Experience proves that you cannot get decent grazing land anywhere near the city of Sydney. The land there is not of a high-class quality, and even if you obtained the best of it you would have to pay a very high price indeed, which would make the grazing of the horses extremely expensive to the Department. Instead of looking for land in the immediate proximity of these large cities, it would be far better to look further afield. The cost of sending horses by train to and from Sydney would only be a few shillings, and the Department would be able to obtain far better grazing land a few miles away. No one who knows anything about stock-raising would dream for a moment of purchasing land near to Sydney, because he would know that he could only obtain there inferior land at a high price, whilst by going out a little further along the railway line he could obtain for very much less money land having a very much higher grazing capacity.
– Does the honorable senator not think that a sensible Government would study all those things ?
– It is because I think that a sensible Government would study them that I am offering the suggestion now. I took Senator Pearce’s statement literally. He said that the Government were thinking of acquiring land in the vicinity of the capital cities, and I offer the suggestion that the Department might with advantage extend their range of vision, and at some distance from the capital cities acquire better land for less money. I am sending horses at the present time a distance of 400 miles for 16s. per horse. The Government might acquire land for this purpose within 100 or 150 miles by rail from a capital city, and by sending a larger number of horses I believe they could make arrangements with the Railway Departments of the States to carry them for 2s. or 3s. per head. That would be much more than covered by the difference between the value of land close to the capital cities and land at some distance from them. It will be possible to acquire land at a reasonable distance by rail from Sydney of first-class grazing capacity, whilst the land close to the city is only of second or third-rate quality. With regard to the vote for the small arms factory, I should like to know when it is expected that the factory will be in a position to turn out the first consignment of rifles, as the matter is one of great importance. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in the absence of his colleague, to endeavour “to supply honorable senators with the information before this debate terminates?
– I shall direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to the matter.
– Another vote to which I wish to refer is the vote of £200,000 for warlike stores and equipment. The Minister has stated that it is estimated that £584,000 will -be required to equip the present establishment properly. Towards that sum Parliament is being asked in this Bill to grant ,£200,000, leaving a deficiency of £384,000. The Minister did not say when it was intended to complete the expenditure required for this purpose. The balance of the vote may figure in next year’s Estimates, but in view of the serious statement that the present establishment is short of material to the extent of £584,000 to enable it to take the field if it were required to do so, and that only one- third of the amount is now being asked, it is important that we should know when it is contemplated to purchase all the material and equipment necessary.
– The Minister of Defence explained that only £200,000 is being asked for in this Bill, because it is not possible to spend more during the present financial year.
– That explained the difference between the proposed vote of £’200,000 and the departmental estimate for the year of ,£300,000, but I am referring to the total estimate submitted by the Department for this purpose. The Minister did not tell the Senate when it is intended to purchase the balance of the material required, bringing the total expenditure up to £584,000.
– As soon as possible.
– That, of course, is a delightfully vague statement, but the reason I ask the question is that the policy disclosed by the proposed vote is exactly the policy adopted by the previous Government. They ascertained on taking office that there was a deficiency in the warlike stores and equipment required to place the existing establishment on a war footing, and they decided to make up the leeway in annual instalments extending over three years. The first of these was covered by the Estimates dealt with last session. I assume that the vote to which I am now referring is the second of the instalments, and I should like to know whether it is the intention of the present Government to complete the instalments by a vote which will appear on next year’s Estimates? With regard to the Minister’s explanation as to why the amount of £300,000 asked for this year does not appear on these Estimates, I may say that it arises from the adoption of the cash system in the keeping of our public accounts. I have never been a believer in it, and the further we go the more I am inclined to think that it is unsuited to our conditions. We are told here to-day that the Department regard it as desirable that we should spend £300,000 this year in equipping our forces, and £200,000 only is asked for, because the Government are advised that the Department would be unable to spend more before the 30th June next. The result is that we must wait for another twelve months before the Department can be put in a position to spend the other £100,000 which they believe ought to be spent in this year. Under the cash system the balance of any vote unexpended on the 30th June falls back into the Treasury, and the money must be revoted. I ask honorable senators to consider whether it would not be better, when Parliament has approved of a certain expenditure in connexion with votes for material and specific works, to make the money available for the Department, whether it is all spent before the close of a financial year or not. If that system were adopted in this particular case the whole “of the £300,000 might be made available to the Defence Department, and they would be able to accept a contract on the 29th June of this year, although payments under it would not begin to be made until the next financial year had commenced. That cannot be done under the present system, because the Department would be unable to spend the whole of the money before the close of the financial year. Whatever advantages the cash system may have as applied to the ordinary services, I do not think it is at all applicable either to the purchase of material or the construction of specific works. I feel that as the business of the Commonwealth extends a time will come when the cash system must break down of its own weight because of its unsuitability to our conditions.
– With the assistance of the honorable senator we shall try to alter that.
– I should be glad to think that the honorable senator is serious, but I am often at a loss to know whether he speaks seriously or not.
– The matter was discussed in another place.
– I have raised the question several times, and when speaking from the Government benches opposite 7 declared that the cash system as applied to the purchase of material and the construction of specific works is obsolete. Provision is made in this Bill for the establishment of certain factories. In the time at my disposal, and with the information available, I am unable to decide whether it is desirable that we should start these factories. The best way to determine whether honorable senators are in possession of information warranting them in coming to a decision on the matter is to ask whether, .as sensible men, they would put a single penny into these ventures upon, the information so far vouchsafed to them?
– The honorable senator knows that he would require to be satisfied as to the cost of establishing the undertaking, the cost of working, and the output. It would be only upon information of that kind that the honorable senator would think of investing his money, and in connexion with the proposal involved in this Bill that information is conspicuous by its absence.
– I think that in Committee the Minister of Defence will be able to satisfy the Opposition on many of these points.
– I am under the impression that some honorable senators are inclined to support these proposals merely because they believe in. State enterprise, and without inquiring whether these enterprises will be profitable to the State or not. If these factories can be shown to be profitable to the State there is no reason why the State should not launch them, but they ought .not to be undertaken merely because they would be Government enterprises.
– They are proposed because the officers of the Department think they would be economical.
– It is very reassuring to be told that some unnamed individuals hold a certain opinion, but I repeat that no member of the Senate would put his money into any venture of the kind upon the information we have as to these undertakings. Perhaps as the Minister of Defence is now present he will say whether there is to be one central factory or factories established in each of the States for the manufacture of clothing. I express the hope that if these factories are to be established no provincial considerations will be allowed to have any weight.
– Hear, hear.
– If it is desirable that there should be a central factory it should be established altogether regardless of the local feelings of any section of the community. I trust that we shall consider, as business people would, where is the best place to establish a factory, whether the work could be carried on more advantageously in one or in several factories, and, whatever the result of the inquiry might be, it ought to be followed regardless altogether of the State concerned or the provincial feelings of any one. In reply to an interjection the Minister of Defence made a statement with regard to the different prices charged for uniforms. I am inclined to think that he may have misunderstood the question put to him. When he mentioned the difference in the prices of uniforms, I asked whether the cloth supplied to those who accepted contracts was of uniform price. The honorable senator’s answer was “Yes,” and it seems to me there is a possible misunderstanding as to what was implied in the question. T shall put it in this way : Does the Commonwealth accept one contract for the supply of cloth or various contracts?
– Various contracts.
– Then it seems to me impossible that the cloth could be supplied at a uniform price. If there is a variation in the price at which the cloth is supplied to the Government they must supply it to the manufacturers of uniforms at the price at which they obtain it, or average those prices, or adopt some other form of adjustment before it can be supplied to the manufacturers of uniforms at a uniform price.
– Does the honorable senator say that is the explanation of the matter ?
– No, I am asking for information. I want to be quite clear as to whether the Minister’s reply was literal, as to whether all those who made up uniforms obtained the cloth, irrespective of its cost to the Government, at a uniform price. I can hardly think that. It seems to me possible that what was meant was that all the manufacturers in a State obtained their cloth at a uniform price. If there is a contract accepted in Queensland for cloth at a certain price, and another contract accepted in New South Wales for cloth at a different price, I cannot understand how those who obtain cloth from the Department to make into uniforms are going to get it at a uniform rate unless it lowers the price in one case, or raises the price in another case, or charges an average price. I should like to” hear a word from the Minister on that point before the debate is closed. I want now to make a few remarks concerning the Fleet Unit. The Minister stated that we were not to assume from anything which appeared in the Estimates, or did not appear in them, that the agreement made by the last Government regarding the Fleet Unit had been varied in any way. I am extremely pleased to hear that. Whilst there may be some difference of opinion amongst honorable senators as to where certain vessels should be constructed, T shall be extremely pleased, indeed relieved, when the honorable senator is in a position to inform us that the unit is to be constructed, and to be constructed within the time set out in the agreement arrived at between the Imperial authorities and the last Government.
-Colonel CAMERON (Tasmania) [2.47]. - I most cordially approve of the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of the cloth for uniforms, for not only the Defence Department, but every other Department of the Government service. But I did not quite gather from the Minister of Defence whether he intended to depart from the present system under which regimental commanders have the cloth supplied to them, and have to provide for the making of the uniforms by contract or otherwise.
– The commanding officers will requisition the Department, and it will supply them.
-Colonel CAMERON.Each commanding officer will requisition the Department for cloth?
– No, for uniforms.
-Colonel CAMERON.- I am directly opposed to any such proposal, and I shall give my reasons for my opposition.
– I think that the honorable senator misunderstands the matter. He did not wait to hear my answer, but took Senator Guthrie’s.
-Colonel CAMERON.- I beg the Minister’s pardon.
– As regards commandants being responsible for the clothing of their units, the present procedure will be followed, but instead of a commander dealing with a contractor he will deal with the Department. The present system of taking the measurements of the man and so on will be continued.
.- That is quite right, and I quite approve of it. I am very glad that I elicited that information, because if it had been otherwise the difficulties would have been interminable. I am quite satisfied that the idea of establishing a factory for the purpose of providing the cloth is an excellent one. The Government have a very good precedent to guide them in die fact that the uniforms for the Regular Army of the Empire are made under Government auspices at Pimlico. The Minister of Defence is simply carrying out what experience has shown to be necessary in connexion with the clothing of the Regular Army. I hope that for the clothing of the Australian Army it will be equally successful. It will do one thing which I wish to accentuate. The cloth provided for the riding breeches of my regiment has been of a most inferior character. I am prepared, and so are my men, to put up with much discomfort and have to put up with a great deal in this and other ways. But I say that one of the essential duties of a Government is to see that its men are properly shod and clothed. As regards the small arms factory, I should like to hear, and I think that the whole country would like to hear, from the Minister, when the factory is likely to be in working order. When does the Minister expect that it will be able to supply us with weapons. I think it is equally necessary that we should have an establishment for the making of harness, saddlery and such other accoutrements as are required. It is a most excellent move on the part of the Government. I must again register my opposition to the establishment of a farm for the. purpose of breeding military horses. I am quite satisfied - and I think that the experience of our own people will bear out my statement - that the only practical way of obtaining horse flesh for the varying requirements of an army, either for artillery or for transport, or for heavy or light horse work, is buying the animal which is required and not attempting to breed it. The Leader of the Opposition made a very good point, I think, when he said that at present the army in India is practically horsed from Australia. We are exporting horses, not only to India, but to other countries in the East, and, I believe, to South Africa. In the face of that fact, it seems to me to be a very wild scheme on the part of the Government to rush into a business which is full of difficulty.
– Do we send good horses to India?
Senator Lt.-Colonel CAMERON.They are the pick of Australia, and there are plenty more to be found.
– Does not that justify the Minister’s action : can we not breed good horses for ourselves ?
.- The Government might breed a few good horses. What I desire to point out is that with an enormous supply of valuable horse flesh, I do not think that a Government Department would serve the purpose. In breeding horses you require to have not only a large area, but a specific class of country. It has been said that a country which produces good beer breeds good horses. In each case a limestone country is required. You may find limestone country scattered all over Australia, and you may have to multiply your breeding establishments in order to achieve the desired result.
– The honorable senator admits that the horses sent to India are good ones. Why should not a Government Department breed as good horses as a private establishment can do?
.- I do not mean to suggest for a moment that you may not breed a few good horses. I am trying to point out that for every suitable horse which you will breed for the purpose of the Army you will breed so many misfits - horses useless for military, but fit for other purposes - you will waste energy and money which might be much more advantageously expended in connexion with defence. If you had the purse of Fortunatus and the time at your disposal you might do a very great deal, but you have not. You have to hand all requirements for your army.
– The honorable senator admits that the horses sent to India are good ones, although bred here. Now what is to prevent a Government establishment from breeding good horses, too?
.- The point I wish to make clear is that, although we may have any number of horses, the difficulty of breeding horses for military purposes is very great, and, so far as the Department is concerned, insurmountable. A trial was made by the Government of India, but it failed, and they had to have recourse to the one and only method of horsing an army, and that was to establish central remount depots. In 1908 the value of Australian horses exported to India was £152,672. I believe that the average value of the horses exported is £8 a head, unless horse flesh has gone up in price very much of recent years. That will give honorable senators a good idea of the immense opportunity given to India to horse its army. In five years the value of the horses exported from Australia exceeded £1,000,000. If there is one thing which Australia has at hand for the purposes of her army, it is a good and efficient supply of horses. Seeing that horse.breeding is a matter which is surrounded by great difficulties, why should we launch upon an extravagant expenditure in that direction, especially when the money might be devoted to more essential purposes. Speaking generally, I think that the Minister of Defence has made out an excellent case for the additional expenditure which is contemplated in these Estimates ; and, with the exception to which I have just directed attention, he will have my cordial support. The great thing which we have to avoid is wasteful expenditure, and to that end, the Minister should exercise a jealous personal supervision over it.
. - I think that the Government would be well advised if they would arrange for the publication of an annual report upon the various works undertaken during each financial year. If something of that kind were done, as it is done in several of the States, honorable senators would have a better knowledge of the works which are being carried out in this particular connexion. I make this suggestion in the hope that the
Government, in the near future, will recognise the desirableness of giving effect to it. I venture to say that its adoption would enable honorable senators generally to have a better grasp of the works and buildings which are in progress throughout the Commonwealth. To my mind, one item in this Bill is open to very serious question - I refer to the proposal to spend £5,000 towards the construction of a transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. Parliament has not authorized the building of that line, and I was always of opinion that, before any money could be voted for the construction of a railway, Parliament had to authorize the building of it.
– In accordance with plans and specifications submitted?
– Yes. But apparently the Government do not require any authority to enable them to undertake the building of this railway. All that they need is a simple vote of Parliament.
– The Government are now asking the honorable senator to give them the requisite authority.
– The proposed vote, if sanctioned, will not be an authority to proceed with the construction of the railway.
– They got the authority from the country.
– That may be. But the authority ofthe country can be communicated to Parliament only by means of an Act. When the Government have obtained parliamentary authority tor the construction of this line, they will be justified in asking for a vote in that connexion ; but not before.
– The honorable senator wishes to proceed in a roundabout way.
– I have often heard that the short cut is frequently the longest way home. No authority has been given for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway ; and, therefore, it is exceedingly improper that any sum towards such an undertaking should be included in these Estimates.
– The work has been already too long delayed.
– I do not know whether I should be in order in discussing the merits or demerits of that line at this stage. But I say that the undertaking is a wild-cat scheme. Such a railway will not pay during the next half century.
– The honorable senator has expressed that opinion before.
– And I will repeat it while there is a prospect of defeating the project. The line is not required for developmental purposes. The cry for its construction is an insane one, which was raised, in the first instance, by Sir John Forrest, and which is now being echoed by the other representatives of Western Australia in this Parliament.
– It was raised long before Sir John Forrest raised it.
– I have nothing to do with what happened prior to Federation. I am not concerned with whether Western Australia desired to secure this railway as the price of her entry into the Federation. I take no cognisance of these things. I look only at the bare cold fact that here is a desert in which the Commonwealth is invited to engulf millions of money. I am not prepared to throw away the taxpayers’ money in that fashion. There are thousands of miles of good country in Australia which ought to be developed.
– W here ?
– Some of it is to be found in Queensland and some of it in Western Australia. Indeed, in every State there are thousands of miles of good country which ought to be developed before we fall back upon this insane scheme to construct a railway through what is practically a desert.
– What about the deviation of the other transcontinental line through Queensland?
– I am speaking of the proposal to expend £5,000 in connexion with the Kalgoorlis to Port Augusta railway, for the building of which no authority has been given by Parliament.
– The next time that the honorable senator speaks about the matter, he ought not to say that the idea underlying the construction of that line was originated by Sir John Forrest.
– If honorable senators who support that undertaking are not following Sir John Forrest, they are walking abreast of him. I do not know that that is any disgrace.
– It would be.
– Order ! I would point out to Senator Stewart that this is not a questionof whom honorable senators are following, but merely one of expenditure. If interjections were, not so frequent, I do not think that the honorable senator would be led off the track.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Senator Stewart has made a statement to which I take exception. He has repeated it several times. He has affirmed that honorable senators who advocate the construction” of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, are following in the footsteps of Sir John Forrest. I wish to say that I warmly advocated the building of that line when Sir John Forrest was only a lukewarm supporter of the project.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to say that Senator Stewart has accused me of following the lead of Sir John Forrest upon this question. I deny the accusation that I would follow Sir John Forrest upon any matter.
– It does not matter who first advocated this foolish scheme. I am only concerned with the proposal of the Government to squander public money upon it. If the railway be constructed, it will not pay during the next fifty years. The people of Western Australia will not travel by it, nor will those of Eastern Australia. Nobody will use it. It will be a Streak of dead iron with scarcely a train passing over it, except the trains which will carry the representatives of Western Australia to the Seat of Government at the beginning of each parliamentary session, and which will return them to their own State at the end of each session.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It will carry the mails.
– Yes. I leave the people to figure out the cost of such an undertaking to the Commonwealth.
– Is not the honorable senator assuming the role of a stinkingfish Australian?
– Any honorable senator who will not give assent to the ideas of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, immediately becomes a stinkingfish Australian. I wish to develop the good portions of Australia, not to pour millions of money into quicksand. The latter is his idea of developing the country. In effect, he says, “ Never mind the good portions of the continent. Do not worry about them.. Let us build railways through a desert.” If there were any more deserts on the continent - especially if the railways through them would radiate from South Australia - the Vice-President of the Executive Council would ask us to expend money upon the construction of those railways, not caring how that money was found, or if it was ever repaid. Honorable senators who advocate this transcontinental railway, are concerned only with their own petty schemes. Even if the line were built, it would not help Western Australia one iota. If the people of that State had to pay the piper, they would never dream of building it. But the Commonwealth is to build it. Good old Commonwealth ! Put every burden on the back’ of the Commonwealth. The people of Australia have long ears and long purses. Therefore, let us’ do our best to get the money for this railway out of them.
– And the money for the sugar bounty.
– If the Minister of Defence repents of his votes in that connexion, he can recall them to-morrow.
– I do not ; but the bounty did not benefit Western Australia.-
– If the honorable gentleman is anxious to discuss the sugar question with me, I am willing to meet him at any time. I am reminded of a story of which we have all heard, of the attorney who, realizing that he had no case, abused the other side. This railway is to be built bv the Commonwealth, and the toss upon its working is to be paid by the Commonweal th. Therefore, of course, Western Australia is easy in its mind. I am not sure that the line would relieve South Australia. The South Australians naturally desire that the Commonwealth shall spend money in their State. It may be a very improper desire, but it is a very natural one. The representatives of Western Australia and South Australia have, apparently, entered into an honorable arrangement of some kind, because we find them working together in this matter. They know that if they did not their little scheme could not come off. If they did not agree the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill would not go through on the one hand, and the transcontinental railway proposal would not go through on the other. Therefore, like wise men, they come together, and each of them reaps his own little harvest. The word “ construction “ ought not to appear on these Estimates, seeing that no authority has been given by Parliament for the construction of the railway. Parliament did authorize a survey of the proposed route.That survey has been made. The report of the surveyors was not, I believe, quite so favorable as the supporters of the project would desire it to be. But we know quite enough of the country to be aware that the railway would not pay for axle grease during the next twenty years. The strong argument used in favour of it is based upon the requirements of Australia in the matter of defence. I do not profess to be a military expert, but my idea with regard to the invasion of Australia is this : Any foe which felt himself to be sufficiently strong to attack Australia would not trouble about such outlying portions of the continent as the Northern Territory. That foe would come right down to the very heart of Australia, and try to capture Sydney or Melbourne. An intelligent enemy would get to business straight away. He would undertake the work in a businesslike fashion, and not waste his energies by dodging about on the outskirts of the continent. So that really, from a defence point of view, the railway is not at all necessary. These Estimates also contain a sum of £50,000 towards the cost of establishing the Federal Capital. I am quite well aware that the last Parliament decided that some spot in the territory known as Yass-Canberra was to be the Seat of Government. We have no exact. information, however, as to where the Capital city is to be. Moreover, this is a new Parliament, and the Government ought to know that there is a strong centre of dissatisfaction amongst a number of the representatives of the people, not only on account of the Yass-Canberra site, but because of the circumstances which surrounded its choice. In 1904, Parliament chose a site. That choice was not agreeable to New South Wales. The New South Wales Government placed every impediment they possibly could in the way of the site being definitely fixed as the place where the Federal Parliament and Government should be located. The New South Wales Government refused to grant the land.
– We were “ dished.”
– We were “ dished “ because of the cowardice of the Government. The Deakin Government did stand to its guns, and refused to obey the dictation of New South Wales. But no sooner did the Labour Government come into power than, under some mysterious influence, the situation immediately changed.
– Labour Governments are a bad lot.
– In some things they are very much better than any Go- vernment which the honorable senator would be likely to support. But this is not a party question. It is a purely national affair. It should be approached entirely free from any party bias. We all desire to see the best site chosen. The first site selected was the deliberate choice of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. The second site was chosen by methods which cannot be said to be of the most straightforward character. The difference between the choosing in the first instance and the second was as distinct as the difference between day and night. The one was the free choice of the Commonwealth Parliament; the other was the choice of men who, to put it very mildly, acted under “duress. That is not the way in which a Capital site for this Commonwealth ought to be chosen.
– Who were coerced ?
– I do not say that any one was coerced, but there were whisperings in the lobbies and elsewhere which it would not be profitable for me to repeat. All that I know is that some honorable senators very suddenly changed their opinion. Several members of the Ministry, who opposed Yass-Canberra some time previously, and spoke in a discouraging manner of that site, changed their opinions. Senator McGregor said that he had never heard or read of Yass-Canberra, and that it was not to be found on the map. Let honorable senators look up his speech. Senator Findley, who, I suppose, will now support Yass-Canberra, spoke very strongly against it. Senator Pearce was in the same boat. But suddenly the wind, which had blown from the ‘east, began to blow from the west. In the other House exactly the same state of affairs existed. Members who> a very short time previously, scouted the very idea of adopting Yass-Canberra voted for it. These circumstances throw an air of suspicion about the choice. Onlookers very naturally said that some influences - underground influences, influences not apparent to the ordinary man in the street - were at work. I want the site to be chosen upon its merits, and by straightforward methods, apart altogether from political intrigue. The merits of Yass-Canberra, in the eyes of New South Wales, are that it is the only portion of that State which the Government is willing to part with. They said, “ Here is an area on which we cannot possibly get people to settle. Here is an area which has been open for nearly 100 years, and where, nevertheless, the population is exceedingly sparse.” It is an arid district, having the lowest rainfall of any portion of New South Wales ; a district so unfertile that nothing will grow there, not even grass for the sheep, which can barely pick up a scanty living on the wind-swept hill-sides of that desolate territory.
– They must live by suction. There are 2,000 sheep on one station there.
– It must be a very large station. The country would not carry a sheep to an acre. There must have been a few goats about when this site was chosen. Honorable senators ought to pause before committing themselves to the adoption of Yass-Canberra as the site of the Federal Capital. It is wanting in every one of the essentials of a Capital site. The water supply is altogether insufficient for our purposes. In these very Estimates we are proposing to enter upon an area of Socialistic enterprise. I hope that my friends on the right will not faint, when they hear that. We are going to establish a small arms factory, a woollen cloth factory, a uniforms factory, and a harness, saddle,, and leather accoutrements factory. These factories will require a considerable amount of power to set them going. Water power is almost an essential at the Capital site, if we are to go in for these wholesale experiments in manufacturing. If we begin them I am sure we shall extend them. What is the water power which can be obtained at the Canberra site, compared to that which would be available at Dalgety? At the one place there is a little dribble of a river, called the Cotter, in which, I believe, there is some water occasionally. When the last body of senators visited the place I believe there was some water there, and Senator McDougall had to swim for his life.
– That was in the Murrumbidgee.
– The whole of the streams in the district put together would not make a decent river. Compare this with the magnificent water supply of Dalgety, where the Snowy rushes past, with its Kosciusko-fed stream, in billions of gallons day and night, summer and winter, dry season and wet season, developing as much power as would be likely to be required in our time at the Seat of Government. If we are to establish these Socialistic enterprises at a place like YassCanberra, we shall have to depend for the necessary power upon coal, or something which will have to be carried to the site at very great expense.
– The water supply for domestic purposes will have to be pumped to a height of 850 feet.
– That is so. Instead of having a gravitation supply it will be necessary at Yass-Canberra “ to have a costly pumping supply for domestic purposes alone. I believe that, in addition to having a good water supply, the Capital site should have direct and independent access to the sea through Commonwealth territory. Some honorable senators will tell me that we shall have Jervis Bay. I received a communication only to-day containing a quotation from a speech delivered by Sir Joseph Carruthers, who said, on the subject of railway communication with Jervis Bay, that it would be as difficult to establish railway communication between Yass-Canberra and Jervis Bay as between Yass-Canberra and Mars.
– He is nobody.
- Sir Joseph Carruthers was at one time Premier of New South Wales. He claims to have an accurate knowledge of this country, and he says that it is practically impossible to have railway communication between YassCanberra and Jervis Bay. He also says, bluntly and plainly, that the people of Sydney would never consent to railway communication between Yass-Canberra and Jervis Bay.
– How long is it since the honorable senator took Sir Joseph Carruthers as his guide, counsellor, and friend ?
– I do not take him as an authority, but I suppose Senator Millen would do so if it suited him.
– Certainly not.
– I am quoting a statement which Sir Joseph Carruthers made in the Parliament of New South Wales.
– Is he the man who made the raid on the Customs?
– I believe he is. He made a mistake then, no doubt. But the best men make mistakes occasionally. I am not sure that Senator Needham has not made one or two in his time. I know that I have made a great many, and am likely to make a great many more.
– If the honorable senator continues as he is doing now he will be certain to do so.
– We have a gentleman who held the position of Premier of New South Wales, declaring that it is absolutely impossible to build a railway from Yass-Canberra to Jervis Bay.
– Order ! The hum of conversation in the Chamber is so loud that I can scarcely’ hear what the speaker is saying.
– I could scarcely hear myself. I have always looked with some degree of suspicion on the conduct of New South Wales Governments in connexion with this matter. But I believe what Sir Joseph Carruthers has said. I believe it supplies the reason why we have been offered Jervis Bay, and land on which to build a railway to that port. It is simply because the New South Wales Government know perfectly well that the construction of such a railway is impossible. If that be so, I would ask honorable senators whether they think that the Capital city should be cut off from access to the sea? Some, I know, do not consider access to the sea from the Federal Capital at all necessary. But I do.
– Why ?
– Because we do not know what future complications may arise between the States and the Commonwealth. We have already found a condition of veiled - I should have said unveiled - hostility on the part of the States towards the Commonwealth. Some of them have even threatened insurrection. Some have told us that if such-and-such things were done the next thing would be a rebellion and the disruption of the Commonwealth. In view of this, and seeing that the members of the United States Federation had a quarrel, which was settled only after a bloody and expensive war, it is impossible for us to say what will happen in the future in Australia. Circumstances may arise which may divide the States, and make war inevitable, and in that event it is absolutely essential that the Commonwealth Government should have a territory of their own through which they might have direct access to their own harbor and their own fleet. From this point of view, again, ., Dalgety is a much better site than Yass-Canberra. I find it impossible to continue to speak while there is so much conversation. I wish to give honorable senators notice that, in future, I shall wait until they keep silent or talk in’ such subdued tones that I shall not be able to hear them. This is a most impor- tant matter, and if honorable senators do not care to listen while it is being discussed, they are free to go outside. They should not attempt to drown what an honorable senator is saying by a constant hum of conversation. If I cared I could quote from speeches made by several honorable senators who are now supporting YassCanberra, but who, at one time, opposed it just as strongly as I am opposing it now, and for exactly the same reason. I claim, therefore, that a reconsideration of the question is absolutely necessary if the Federal Capital site is to be chosen on its merits. Of course, if other considerations are to be predominant, that alters the whole situation. So far as I can discover, the merits of Yass-Canberra are of a minor character. That it is poor country is shown by the lack of settlement, and the water supply would be most meagre, even for household purposes.
– The honorable senator should ask Senator McDougall.
- Senator McDougall had the fortune, or misfortune, to visit the place in flood time, and I do not suppose the same set of circumstances would arise again in the next twenty years. Any one looking at a rainfall map of New South Wales will find that the YassCanberra district is the driest district in that State.
– With the. exception of the country in the far west. This is considered to be part of the coastal district of New South Wales. Of course, away in the far west, where they get only 5 inches of rain per annum, it is very much drier; but on the coast this is, so far as I can gather from the rainfall map, the driest portion of the State. We ought to be extremely careful in this matter. We are nol fixing a Capital site for a year, but for hundreds of years. We ought to choose a site, which the people of Australia, a century hence, will regard with delight. What pleasure could any one get from the YassCanberra site? What is there about it naturally to impress any one? Contrast it with Dalgety, with Mount Kosciusko away in the distance crowned with perpetual snow, the port of Eden in the front, the Snowy River rushing past it in full and ample volume, and a summer climate which is, I believe, unsurpassed in Australia. Dalgety contains within itself all the elements of a national resort.
– And it is so advertised by the New South Wales Government.
– The State Government evidently know what the site is, and advertise it accordingly; yet we are to be relegated to a barren, wind-swept, waterless corner of the State. I am going to have none of Yass-Canberra if I can help it. My desire is to have the whole question reopened, and decided by a referendum. Let the people of Australia say where the Capital shall be established. They will have to provide the money, and theirs ought to be the choice. The first site was deliberately chosen on its merits, in the coolest and calmest manner passible, after exhaustive reports had been obtained on a number of sites, and after members of the Parliament had visited those sites.
– It was chosen on its demerits.
– Yass-Canberra was chosen in circumstances which at least have a very doubtful aspect. That ought not to be the case. Senator Gould interjected that Dalgety was chosen on its demerits. I am well aware that the people of Sydney want the Federal Capital as near that city as possible. Indeed, they want it to be a suburb. They want Sydney to dominate the Federal Capital. They do not want a rival port, such as would probably be established at Twofold Bay if the Dalgety site were chosen. Sydney has a huge monopoly which seeks to draw anything to itself, which is jealous of every rival, and which stops at nothing to crush out anything in the way of competition. I think that I have said as much as I desire to say at present on that subject. With regard to the establishment of factories, I think that the sooner we start to manufacture our own arms, cordite, guris, harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements, the better it will be. I should have been very pleased if the Government had put a larger amount on the Estimates for carrying out those proposals. With regard to the horsebreeding establishment which honorable senators on my right regard with so much apprehension, I think it is a most excellent idea. No doubt the Australian private horse-breeder has been very successful, but we know that in time of war, if it should ever unfortunately arise, every old crock would be forced on the Government at an exorbitant price. Therefore it is wise to breed our own horses, and to have them ready when required. There is ample land available to breed all the horses which Australia will ever need for the business of warfare. As everybody knows, it produces most excellent horses. The Government might go even a step further, and establish sheep and cattle stations, to provide not only horses for our soldiers to ride, but food for them to eat. We know’ that, in addition to paying high prices for horses, saddlery, boots, and all those things which are required by men in time of war, contractors charge famine prices for food when that day unfortunately arrives. When the Northern Territory is taken over, if it is ever taken over, the Government ought to start sheep and cattle stations there, where the people of Australia could be supplied at cost price with beef and mutton, and where, in that way, it might be nossible to get out of the meat ring, which is keeping up the price of meat all over the Commonwealth.
– They might open butchers’ shops, too.
– Of course.
– Order. The honorable member is getting altogether away from the subject-matter of this Bill.
– We are discussing the second reading of a Bill which provides for the breeding of horses for our army, and I do not see why we should not also provide for a supply of cattle.
– Does the honorable senator propose to sell horse-flesh at the shops?
– Oh, no. There is another thing which I think the Government might do in connexion with the harness, saddlery, and leather accoutrements factory. Why not start a tannery ? In Australia the leather is not properly tanned. It is not allowed time enough to mature. It is put through a process which turns it out in a comparatively immature condition. The success or the defeat of armies has depended upon the harness of the horses employed. If the harness was rotten, the horses could not pull in it. It is absolutely essential that the fittings of our horses should be of the very best quality. Therefore it is desirable to also start a tannery, where we could produce our own leather. We might even go a little further, and manufacture boots for our soldiers, and for the large army of public servants we have, if they care to buy them. It would be a most excellent idea, because good boots are a great advantage in time of war. We know that if men’s feet get out of order when they are marching, day and night perhaps, their efficiency as soldiers is very much impaired.
– At the time of the Crimean war, private enterprise sent out a shipment of boots, but there was not a right boot amongst them.
– Perhaps so. In any case, we know that large quantities of very inferior boots are manufactured now. If we are going to provide uniforms for our soldiers, I do not see why we should not also manufacture their boots, so as to be assured that they are made of the best leather, and turned out by the best workmen in the most workmanlike manner.
– Was not that the chief trouble with the French troops in the German war?
– Of course it was. I have no more to say on the subject.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lt. Colonel Sir Albert Gould) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Senate adjourned at 3.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 September 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100909_senate_4_57/>.