4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– presented a petition from thirty three taxpayers in the State of South Australia, praying the Senate to reject the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether, in view of the fact that a large programme has been announced for the remainder of the session, there is any intention to forego Tuesday as a day of sitting?
– Certainly not.. It was only under special circumstances that the Senate did not meet yesterday.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence. - Memorandum by the Chief of the General Staff and of the Commonwealth Section of the Imperial General Staff (dated 8th July, 1910).
Defence. - Commonwealth oj Australia Gazette No. 60, of 28th September, 1910, containing Proclamation, with Map attached, exempting from the training mentioned in Fart XII. of theDefence Act 1903-1909 all persons residing in those parts of Australia indicated in the Map.
Defence Acts 1903-1904. - Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Cancellation of Regulation 3, and substitution of new Regulations 3 and3a (Provisional)in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 89.
Public Service Act 1902. - Repeal of Regulation 220, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 90.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 -
Amendment (Provisional) of the Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 80.
Amendment of Telegraphic Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 83.
Papua. - Report by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Administrator, on the progress of the Territory, dated 14th September, 1910.
Ordinances of 1910 - .
No. 11. - Supplementary Appropriation 1909-10, No. 6.
No. 12. - Appropriation 1910-1911.
Report by the Director of Fisheries on work of F.I.S. Endeavour in Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales waters, for period 30th August to 13th September, 1910.
Report of the Royal Commission on Postal Services.
The Acting Clerk laid on the table -
Return to Order of the Senate of 30th September, 1910 -
Postal Service, Queensland : Officers in General Division not receiving Increases of Salary.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of the following communication: -
Commonwealth of Australia,
Melbourne, 27th September, 1910.
I have the honour to transmit herewith for the information of senators, a copy of a despatch which I have received from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies, acknowledging the receipt of the resolution agreed to by the Senate, in reference to the death of His late Majesty King Edward VII.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
The President of the Senate, Melbourne.
Commonwealth of Australia.
Mr Lord, 25th August, 1910.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s Despatch No. 152 of the 8th of July, transmitting copies of resolutions agreed to by the Senate and the House of Representatives on the assembling of the Fourth Commonwealth Parliament on the1stof July, in reference to the death of Hislate Majesty King Edward VII., and the accession of HisMajesty King George V.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship’s most obedient humble servant,
The Right Honorable,
The Earl ofDudley, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., &c, &c.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, requesting the concurrence of the Senate in a resolution.
– I have very much pleasure in moving -
That the Senate concur in the following resolution : - “ That the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia offers most cordial congratulations to the Parliament of the Union of South Africa upon the establishment of . 1 National Government and Legislature forthat Dominion, capable, under the blessing of Divine Providence, of accomplishing the tasks required for the development of its Provinces and for the unity of the Empire.”
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.39].- I assume that the motion is submitted with the concurrence of the Senate, because no notice of it has been given. I have much pleasure in seconding the motion, and I am quite sure that the Senate will not be behind hand in desiring that there may be prosperity in South Africa. Although its new Constitution is in many respects different from that under which the Commonwealth exists, at the same time we cannot fail to recognise that it is a means by which a number of self-governing dependencies have been brought together, so that they may have the opportunity of speaking as the young and rising nation of South Africa, just as we speak on behalf of the young nation of Australia, and the Dominion Government does of Canada. It must be a matter of congratulation that self-governing States have so largely availed themselves of the opportunity of placing themselves in a position to speak as a whole, instead of with different voices. In any case, I am sure that we all wish most hearty success and prosperity to South Africa. We, on this side, are pleased that our Prime Minister has gone there to represent . Australia as a whole, and feel sure that he will acquit himself to the satisfaction of his friends and wellwishers.
Questionresolvedin the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a first time.
Business of Session - Days of Sitting -Federal Capital - Military College - Financial Policy - Commonwealth Offices : Rentals - Grant to Council of Rifle Association, Victoria - Customs Revenue : Protection - Immigration and Land : Commonwealth Booklet - Public Service : Inequalities in Salaries.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That thisBill be now read a first time.
This is a Bill which is debated on the first reading, but I do not thinkit should lead to any lengthy discussion, because it proposes merely a grant from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of£816,619 for the ordinary services of government on the basis of last year’s Estimates. Honorable senators recognise that until the Estimates for the current financial year are passed we have to depend on these temporary Supply Bills. We are asking, in this instance, for two months’ Supply, not because we do not hope that the session will have closed before the expiration of that time, but because it is possible that it will last into the second month, and by granting two months’ temporary Supply now we shall obviate the necessity of passing another Supply Bill before the Appropriation Bill is dealt with. There is no extraordinary item covered by the Bill, and therefore honorable senators will not consider it necessary to discuss it at great length. As there is a long programme of work to be got through before the session closes, the less time that is wasted on formal matters of this description the greater will be the probability of our being able to get through the business in a reasonable time.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [2.48].- The Vice-President of the Executive Council might very well have explained to the Senate what work the Government contemplate proceeding with during the remainder of the session. I notice from the press that the Prime Minister in another place made a statement with regard to the matters with which the Government intend to ask Parliament to deal before the session comes to a close. I think a similar courtesy should have been extended to the
Senate. It has hitherto been customary when a statement of the business to be submitted to Parliament has been made in another place it has been at once repeated here. As the Senate did not sit yesterday, it was, of course, impossible for the VicePresident of the Executive Council to inform honorable senators then as to the business to be proceeded with during the remainder of the session, but the honorable senator might very well have made a full statement to-day. If one is to judge from the newspaper reports of the work which, according to the Prime Minister, the Government contemplate asking Parliament to tackle, it is of sufficient importance and volume to occupy both Chambers for sis months. Some time ago we were led to believe that a strong effort would be made to close the session before the Prime Minister left for South Africa. At the time a very important measure was under consideration in another Chamber, and, very naturally, led to considerable discussion, and it has been found impossible to get the work of the session done as expeditiously as some persons seemed to anticipate.
– It all depends on how long the Opposition can talk.
– I am very glad that the Opposition in the present Parliament do not merely say yea or nay to every proposal submitted by the Government. We have been able to give reasons for the opinions we hold, which on several occasions have had an important effect upon the legislation introduced by the Government. We are promised a Bill for a referendum on a most important proposed alteration of the Constitution, and we shall require a considerable time for the proper consideration of that measure. A number of Bills mentioned by the Prime Minister bristle with technicalities and difficulties, and deal with matters upon which there is great divergence of opinion. We have not yet reached a stage when we can rely solely upon the ability, industry, and intelligence of the Ministry or of the Caucus to submit perfect legislation, which will be in the best interests of the country. I am prepared to admit that, so far as they are able to judge, Ministers give their best attention to their business, and submit what they believe to be perfect measures. But when those measures are made public, and are subjected to the criticism of the Opposition, it is invariably found that they are open to. material improvement.
– The Opposition usually consider any alteration an improvement.
– No; but they have not yet been able to accept the view that the Caucus should decide the form which our legislation should take.
– Honorable senators opposite determined their legislation of last session by caucus.
– I have frequently observed that this Chamber is one of the most fertile places in Australia for fiction, and I think that publishers generally would take advantage of a great opportunity for the production of fiction if they gave a little attention to the imaginative and fictitious statements which are so frequently heard in this Chamber. I have no objection to voting the money required for the ordinary services of government on the basis of Estimates already approved. I do not know whether this Bill contains anything more, but I have not had an opportunity of going through it. I should like to know whether another little vote is included for the Treasurer’s Advance account.
– No ; there is nothing in this Bill for the Treasurer’s Advance account.
– That is as it should be, for we treated the Treasurer very liberally a little time ago.
– There is something down for the Federal Capital site.
– I have not been able too discover that, but the Bill should certainly include a vote for the purpose. I hope that when the Vice-President of the Executive Council replies to the debate on the first reading he will give the Senate a statement of the business that the Government really contemplate placing before this Chamber during the remainder of the session. I must say that I think the Prime Minister made a very heavy demand upon the credulity of honorable members in another place when he invited them to believe that they would be able, in the course of a month or so, to deal with matters the consideration of which might very well occupy six months. Perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to explain that this demand on the credulity of honorable members was due only to the exuberance of the moment.
– A few weeks ago, the VicePresident of the Executive Council asked honorable senators to consent to meet for an, extra day in each week in order to close the session earlier than usual owing to the proposed departure of the Prime Minister for South Africa.
– Why should we?
– Such a departure from our usual practice so early in the session - because, apparently, we are going to have a long session - has been inconvenient to many honorable senators. It will be impossible for us to get through all the business mentioned by the Prime Minister unless we remain here until the end of December.
– The honorable senator will be paid for December, as well as for November.
– I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will take the matter again into consideration, and revert to the practice of sitting only three days a week for a time. This motion affords an opportunity for the discussion of grievances, and I wish to say that there is considerable dissatisfaction expressed upon the delay in the issue of the proclamation with respect to the Capital site. I am one of those who credited, and still credit, the Government with honest intentions in the matter, but there are some persons who attribute the delay in the issue of the proclamation to reasons which do not appear on the surface.
– “ Suspicion ever haunts the guilty mind.”
– It does not haunt my mind, because, as I have said, I have throughout given the Government credit for sincerity in this matter. I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in reply, to emphasize the fact that there is no necessity for apprehension on this score. The Bill provides for two months’ Supply, but I see no vote in connexion with the Federal Capital site, beyond what we have already made provision for.
– W - We have passed a vote of ^50,000 for the purpose, and the honorable senator should be satisfied with that.
– That is a mere bagatelle. This is a two months’ Supply Bill, and I think it might very well contain an additional vote for this purpose. I was glad to -note that the Minister of Defence visited the Capital site during the last few days, and the honorable senator may be in a position to inform the Senate whether he has chosen a site there for the Military College. The more information the Government can give on this subject, the better my constituents will be pleased.
– for reasons which will be obvious, if not to the Senate, at least to the public, I ask how long we are to continue the practice of voting temporary Supply? I do not say that the present Government are alone to blame in this matter, but they are becoming notoriously conspicuous in the adoption of the practice. On 3rd July, immediately after the opening of this Parliament, we passed a Supply Bill authorizing the appropriation of £744,000. That measure covered Supply for one month. On 4th August we agreed to a further Supply Bill for £1,280,000, “ which covered Supply for two months. On 6th August, a proposal was submitted to the Senate authorizing the Government to appropriate ,£500,000 from a trust fund, :and on 9th August, a further sum of £3,500,000 was appropriated for the payment of old-age pensions. To-day we are asked to sanction a further advance of £1,500,000 from a trust fund, and to grant Supply for a period of two months to the extent of £816,619. _ So that, roughly speaking, we are committed to an expenditure of more than ,£8,000,000.
– Look at the crowd who are spending it. That is the trouble with the honorable senator.
– Whatever revenue the Government may derive during the current financial year they are certainly .spending it right royally. Whether they are expending it wisely we have scarcely had an opportunity to consider. I repeat -that, up to date, Parliament has appropriated the sum of £8,250,000 out of the revenue for the current financial year, which the Treasurer estimates will be a little more than £15,000,000. _ In other words, we have already appropriated more -than half the anticipated revenue for the financial year, and that without being afforded an opportunity of discussing the “financial policy of the Government.
– Did not the VicePresident of the Executive Council explain the financial policy of the .Government when he made his Budget statement?
– Yes. But the Senate has not been afforded an oppportunity of discussing it, and that oppor tunity does not appear to be within measurable distance. Yet honorable senators opposite have the consummate audacity to tell members of the Opposition that if they are good children the financial policy of the Government will continue to boom. Ministers ought to know that finance is the key of all sound government. If their finances are not upon a sound footing every measure which they introduce will land the country in difficulties. More than half the anticipated revenue for the current financial year has already been appropriated, and yet we have not had a clear exposition of the financial policy of the Government. Indeed, beyond the Budget statement of the Treasurer himself, and the tables which accompanied it, not a single member of this Parliament has been afforded an opportunity to get a clear idea of how the financial proposals of the Government will work out. It is time that the public understood how long this sort of thing is” to continue.
– Did the honorable senator understand what would be the condition of the finances ten years hence when he voted in favour of returning to the States 25s. per capita for all time?
– I had some idea of how they would stand.
– Then the honorable senator ought to lock up that idea, and keep it.
– I am glad that Senator Givens has interjected, because when I discussed the Financial Agreement, I was not unmindful of the probable financial position of the Commonwealth fifteen or twenty years hence. This is the only place in which we can lay a fairly heavy hand upon the expenditure of the Government. So far as their financial proposals are concerned, they seem to be rushing like a locomotive under a full head of steam on a down grade. Yet we “are asked time and again to take it for granted that everything is all right. Millions of pounds are being paid into the Trust Funds, and we are invited to regard that as. all right..
– The honorable senator- must be qualifying for the leadership of the Opposition.
– That is a form of gibe which the Vice-President of the Executive Council is fond Qf throwing at me, though I admit that he sometimes hurls it in a more severe form at some of his own supporters. The other branch of the Legislature has scarcely been afforded an opportunity of criticising the financial policy of the Government, and this Chamber is in an even worse position. I think that the Opposition in the Senate should come down heavily upon Ministers.
– As you are strong, be merciful .
Senator- ST. LEDGER. - The Minister of Defence knows - as the smile which accompanied his interjection indicates - how powerless we are. These Bills are transmitted to the Senate, with the knowledge thai: the Opposition here is so numerically weak that its members can do nothing but protest. I regret that, so far as its control over expenditure is concerned, this Chamber is rapidly becoming the financial Mary Ann of the representative Chambers of the world.
– I wish to direct attention to the question of the rentals which the Commonwealth is paying for offices in the various States. Quite recently, on the motion of Senator Sayers, a very useful return was laid on the table of the Senate, showing the amount paid in rentals in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. These rentals total £19,407 - a very considerable sum. If we add to it the amounts which are paid in Hobart, Adelaide, .and Perth-
– Nothing is paid in Adelaide.
– If we add to the £^9,407, which I have mentioned, the rentals which are paid for Commonwealth offices in other cities, the total sum would lie sufficient to pay interest upon .£750,000, which might be expended very profitably in erecting buildings of our own at the Seat of Government. At present the Commonwealth appears to be paying some very curious rentals. For instance, in the Rialto, Collins-street, Melbourne, it pays £500 for the Statistician’s office, which, when I visited it on the last occasion, consisted of only two rooms. In the same building £300 is being paid for a postoffice, and another £400 for the Census office, making £1,200 rental in all. The rents paid in Melbourne aggregate £^9,917, those in Sydney £8,353, and those in Brisbane £r,i37- Although Melbourne and Sydney may be regarded as about equal in size, I find that whereas in the former city the* Commonwealth pays only £i,2gi for postal stores, stables, &c, it expends no less than £4,438 in that connexion in the latter city, or about four times as much. For instance, it pays £250 a year rental for a post-office at the railway station, Sydney, £675 for a parcels post-office and stables in Castlereagh-street, £575 for a money -order office, £260 for a post-office in George-street west, .£479 for a postal store at 170 Clarence-street, and £500 for another postal store at 97 Clarence-street.
– The material cannot be put in the street.
– I do not suppose that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has ever even considered this matter. I do not say that the present Government are to blame for the existing condition of affairs. But it appears to me that there is the germ of a very considerable scandal in the excessive rentals which the Commonwealth is paying. I do not intend to delay the passing of this Bill, as I am anxious to proceed with the business with which we are expected to deal within the next month or six weeks. I may suggest to the Government that, as there is so much work to do this session, they should initiate some of their measures in the Senate. We might drop, for the time being, the Navigation Bill.
– Because the Prime Minister has stated that it cannot be passed this session.
– The Bill can be put through the Senate this session.
– Why should we not deal with Bills that can be passed by Parliament this session? The Government would be wisely advised if they appointed a Cabinet or Departmental Committee to look into the question of the rents paid by the Commonwealth, to see whether the most extraordinary figures that I have read from this return - especially those relating to the Post and Telegraph Department - are correct; and, if so, whether some remedy cannot be applied by which we might avoid the enormous expense now incurred.
– Are the big landlords of Sydney “ taking down “ the. Commonwealth Government?
– Quite likely. I never knew a little landlord, or a big landlord either, who would not “ take you down,” if he got the chance. I am not an apologist for landlords. It is easy enough from these figures to draw the inference that Sydney is robbing the Commonwealth, while Melbourne is treating us uncommonly well. That appears to be especially the case in relation to the Post and Telegraph Department. I again ask the Government to look into the matter, and see if something cannot be done to remedy a position under which we are paying such an enormous sum in rents, that it would surely be advantageous to erect buildings for ourselves.
– - It may not be out of place to draw attention to the fact that the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has used a pretty strong word with reference to the Commonwealth Government, when he said that it was something like a scandal that the Government were paying so much in rents.
– I said that the figures show, on the face of them, something like a scandal.
– The The word was a strong one to use in connexion with a Government; and it would be interesting, not only to the Senate, but to the outside public - which, of course, through the medium of the newspapers, will read what Senator Chataway has said - if the Government would inform us whether the existing contracts were’ entered into by the present Administration or by a previous Government.
– I particularly said that I did not refer to any Government.
– I - If more money is spent in rents than should be paid, I should like to know which Government made the blunder. Probably the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in reply, will furnish us with information on that point. I should also like the Minister to give some information concerning an item contained in the schedule to the Bill, ,£200, “ grant to Commonwealth Council of Rifle Association of Victoria.” I should like to know whether that is a special grant, or whether the amount is part of a larger sum contained in the Estimates-in-Chief ?
– I think that the Commonwealth is now face to face with a position which demands the urgent consideration of every man who desires to see the Federation make progress. We have heard from different quarters a good deal about the prosperity of the country at the present moment. As evidence of that we are referred to the very large amount of money that is received in revenue from the Cus toms as showing that the people of Australia are so prosperous that they are able to purchase largely goods imported from abroad. The fiscal policy of Australia is protection. That policy has been entered upon deliberately with the object of developing the resources of Australia, providing employment for the people, adding as speedily as possible to the population, and- strengthening Australia as a community from every possible point of view. If that be the policy of Australia, and if the Tariff which is now in operation is the expression of it, the fact must be patent to every man who gives this matter the slightest consideration that we are not carrying out the fiscal policy which the people of Australia have laid down for us. Our Tariff is one of the greatest revenue producing engines in the world. There is not a single country on the face of the earth to-day whose Tariff produces such a large sum per head of the population as that of Australia, with the one exception of New Zealand. That fact may no doubt be very pleasant from the Treasurer’s point of view. He may desire that money should be flowing in so rapidly. But from’ the point of view of Australia’s citizens, from the point of view of the man or woman who desires that Australia’s progress shall proceed on the best lines, I think it is one of the most unfortunate circumstances which could possibly arise. What are we doing? Last year, we spent about ,£50,000,000 sterling on imported goods from other countries. A large proportion of that money could have been, and ought to have been, spent in manufacturing those goods upon the soil of Australia by Australian hands. If our Tariff is to be effective from the Protectionist’s point of view, it must be very radically altered at the earliest possible opportunity. We are not protecting our industries now. The large imports are the best indication that could possibly be adduced of that fact. I have no doubt that the members of the Labour party in this Parliament, who are Protectionists, and new Protectionists, will say that until the people of Australia give us the power to deal with the conditions in every protected industry, we are going to do nothing. Now, I think that the people of Australia ought to have the power themselves to say what conditions shall prevail in every industry, and that the power should make itself felt through the Commonwealth Parliament. But our duty to begin with is to make it possible for Australia’s industries to grow here in .spite .of competition from the cheap labour countries pf the world. At present, there is not a single manufacturing industry in Australia that is not being exposed to the fier.ce competition of the low wage countries of the world. Our huge imports are incontestable evidence of ‘that fact. Before we can ask employers to pay decent wages, we must protect them against the competition of foreign sweaters. We are attempting to put sweating down within .pur .own borders. No man is more anxious that that should be accomplished than I am. But we are permitting the goods of sweaters in other parts of the world to pour into Australia to the extent of millions’ every year. Where is our consistency in that ‘ matter ? We might just as well be exposed to the sweater within our borders as to the sweater outside our borders. We should have some control oyer the man within, but we certainly have no control over the man without, except through our Tariff ; and that our- Tariff is insufficient for the purpose is plainly evidenced by the huge stream of imports which is pouring into this continent.
– It is very easy to remedy that.
– What is the remedy ?.
– Surely the honorable member knows. It is so simple.
– I know the honorable senator’s fiscal faith. I am not addressing myself to him, or to the party with which he is associated, because I know that they are not Protectionists. Neither are they Free Traders. They are Revenue Tariffists I am addressing myself to the members of my own party who are Protectionists, who are bound by the Labour policy to oppose Revenue Tariffism in every shape or form, and who, if they dp not adopt effective Protection, have but one alternative, and that is Free Trade. I am addressing myself, not to senators on my right, but to those on my left. As I have said, I know what the fiscal policy of the Opposition is. It is to tax the poor man, to tax the necessaries of life, to raise as much revenue as possible through the Customs, so that the big land-owners, the large income-earners ana the rich men may escape taxation. The very opposite is the policy of the party with which I am associated. We say, “ Sweep away your Customs taxation, and use your Tariff, not as a revenue-raising machine, but as an industry-creating machine.” Yet we have a Tariff on the statute-book which is notoriously ineffective. I heard Senator Vardon say behind me a few moments ago that we cannot get enough people to dp the work whichhas to be done in Australia now. Therefore I suppose his contention is that it is useless to attempt to establish new industries. But if we had the industries - if we bad even the germ pf the industries-r-we should very soon have the people. In any case, I direct the attention of Senator Vardon to the very important point that Australia is at the present moment passing through a period of greater prosperity than I believe she has ever experienced before, certainly., a period of greater prosperity than I have ever seen since I came to the country. After that we .shall have the inevitable reaction. We have had ai succession of good seasons, for whichwe are all thankful. We have had” very high prices for pur primary products. But the day will come when the drought will reassert itself, when prices will go down and the cry of the unemployed will be once more heard in the land. Now is the time to begin to prepare for that eventuality. It will be too late when the deluge is upon us. Letus lay the foundations for our industries now, so that when the necessity for- employment arises there will be plenty of it for such of our citizens as may be unfortunate enough to be out of work. I have said that the rush of imports is almost unprecedented. Let me give a few of the figures.
– The figures of the first three months of this financial year aremore unprecedented still.
– Yes, they show a still greater advance. Last year we imported £12,000,000 worth of apparel and’ textiles, and paid in duty on them no less than £1,872,000. Of metals and machinery we imported about £IO,000,000 worth and’ paid in duty £997,000. These facts of themselves are a sufficient condemnation of the Tariff as it stands. This is the greatest wool-producing country in the world, yet we import woollen articles to the value of £1 000,000.
– America is thegreatest cotton-producing country in the world.
– I think that wemight be the greatest cotton-producing country in the world too. There is not a. shadow of a reason why we should spend a farthing in importing either woollen or cotton goods. We are now using only 1 per cent, of the wool that we grow. We grow very little cotton, but there is no reason, so far as I can see, why we should not produce all the woollen clothing that we. require, and, in addition, grow and manufacture all the cotton goods that we require.
– Stop all woollen and cotton goods from coming in and then you will get it done.
– I want the Tariff wall to be raised so high that these imports will be as nearly stopped as possible. I want to see these goods produced here. If the working people are to be taxed let it be done to establish industries, not to save the skins of the rich men. Here we have the working people paying within a few pounds of £2,000,000 in taxation on their clothing, yet we have the rich landlords shocked almost into paralysis by a proposal to raise £1,000,000 by land-value taxation. We imported last year, as I have said, £10,000,000 of metals and machinery. We have every mineral required in the industries either of Australia or of any other country. Why not utilize them? We have the men, the raw material, in fact, everything requisite, yet we pay millions sterling to keep persons employed at the other end of the world while our own citizens are in many cases going about idle. Although we have plenty of clay - some of the finest clays in the world - yet we paid last year nearly .£250,000 in taxation on imported earthenware. On wood, wicker, and cane work - and Heaven knows we have plenty of the raw material in the continent - we paid in taxation £324,197. On jewellery, although we produce gold, silver, and nearly all the precious stones, we paid in taxation .£222,000. And most wonderful of all, on leather, although we have cattle by the million, we actually paid £253,000 in taxation. I do not see why Australia should not be a large leatherexporting country.
– So she is.
– I know that Australia exports leather, but she also imports it very largely. The only way to prevent such importations is to make the Tariff wall sufficiently high-
– To wear Australian boots.
– I always do wear Australian boots. I know that a great number of Australians, if they can get any thing else, will not wear Australian boots; but I think that the Government might very well issue an order to the effect that every local manufacture should be stamped with the legend “ Made in Australia.” If one goes down town to buy a pair of ready-made boots, probably he will find them stamped “ Made in Germany,” or “ Made in France,” or “ Made in America,” or “ Made in England,” whereas, as a matter of fact, they were made, probably, in Melbourne. I may tell the. honorable gentleman that I never wear readymade boots. It is the same with hats. You cannot get a single hat factory in Australia to stamp its goods.
– Oh, yes, you can.
– I have seen the Denton stamp on some hats, but latterly it has been left off.
– Oh, no.
– I was assured that the last hat I bought was a Denton hat.
– Probably there has been some fraud practised.
– Very likely, as I am such an innocent man. I wanted a Denton , hat, the Denton stamp was not to be seen on the hat I bought ; but I was assured that it was a Denton hat.
– That is right - they saw the honorable senator coming.
– I believed that it was a Dalton hat.
– - They manufacture plenty of hats, and do not stamp them.
– They do not. Show me a Denton hat without a stamp?
– I am almost sure that it was a Denton hat, because I know their particular style of manufacture; but it did not bear their stamp.
– That is quite a common tiling.
– They make hundreds of dozens without putting a stamp on them. I have handled them.
– A tailor told me that a large number of Australians have a prejudice against locally-made articles, and that if articles should bear the stamp of a local firm, they would not buy them. We ought to try to get over that sort of feeling. Every article made here ought to be stamped with the words “ Made in Australia.” Make that the law of the country, and get the people to understand that Australian goods are of as high quality as those of any other country, and a great deal better, I am glad to think, in some lines. Australian blankets and flannels are not only equal to those of most countries, but superior to a great many of them. These industries might be very largely extended. “We manufacture at present about one-seventh of the woollen goods used in Australia, and the balance is imported. Instead of importing, we ought to be exporting. I am glad to see that a company has been formed which is to operate in Launceston.
– And in Hobart.
– I believe that Tasmania is specially adapted for the manufacture of woollen goods. If we want population, if we desire to become a really strong community, we must have as many industries as it is possible for us to establish.
– It is British capital which is establishing industries in Australia.
– We have plenty of capital in Australia.
– But the owners will not invest it in industries.
– W - We do not care where the capital comes from, if the goods are made in Australia.
– If the Britisher is willing to send his capital here, we will do the best we can for him. On vehicles we paid in taxation last year £122,000. I think I am safe in saying that 90 per cent, of them might very well have been manufactured in Australia. On musical instruments we paid in taxation £82.000.
– Every one of them should be made here.
– Yes. On “miscellaneous articles “ we paid £220,000. In all, our Customs revenue for last year amounted to £9,505,74°) of which £3,000,000 was collected on stimulants and! narcotics. On sugar the taxpayers paid last year £506,000 in Customs duties, and £548,000 in Excise duties ; so that on that one article alone we raised last year over £r, 000,000.
– Y - Yes, but only onehalf of the Excise duty affects the Protectionist argument.
– I am not dealing now so much with the protective incidence of the tax as with the tax itself. Sugar should not pay a farthing of taxation for revenue purposes. So far as I am concerned, not a single halfpenny raised on the article shall ever pass into the Treasury.
If we protect the industry by means of a duty per ton, that is all right.
– W - We should not import a ton.
– No, we ought to grow sufficient for our own purposes.
– It is imported though.
– I know that in some years a large quantity is imported, but the seasons have a good deal to do with that. It is an industry which, I think, ought to produce in every year all that we require. It is highly improper rh.it £1.000,000 should be dragged out of the pockets of the people in taxation on one of the most commonly-used articles of food, and a necessary of life. Taxation for revenue purposes on the necessaries of life should be entirely abolished. I again direct the attention of our friends, the anti-land-taxers, to the fact that landowners are being asked to find only £1,000,000.
– It is more likely to be £2,000,000.
– The Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue to be derived from the proposed land taxation is £1,000,000; but I should not care if the amount derived were £2,000,000 or £5,000,000 - the more the merrier. ‘ 1 say it is a downright shame to be taking £1,000,000 per annum out of the teacups of the poor, when we propose to take only £:r, 000,000 from the rich land-owners of Australia, the men who are obstructing settlement and standing in the way of the progress -of the Commonwealth.
– lt is believed that the amount will be £2.500,000.
– I direct Senator Walker’s attention to the fact that “King Charles’ Head,” about which we have heard so often from him. is about to come off. If the revenue to be derived from the proposed land taxation will amount to £2,500,000 per annum, I shall be glad.
– Or if it amounts to £5,000,000 per annum.
– Yes. or to £5,000,000 or £10,000,000, because we could cut down the revenue from Customs accordingly. The Lal,our party, or that section of the Labour party composed of myself - I do not wish to compromise any other member of the party, as each can get up and testify to the faith that is in him - would not raise a single farthing from Customs taxation, except from taxation on stimulants and narcotics.
– Why tax a man because he smokes?
– I do not believe in taxing tobacco. I do not see why a man who smokes should contribute more to the cost of government than I do who do not smoke. If honorable senators are in mind to sweep away the duties on tobacco, T shall be willing to help them.
– Where would the honorable senator get revenue from?
– From land value taxation ; from the community-created value in Australia. Senator St. Ledger wishes to tax the poor people on what they eat, drink, wear, and use.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that?
– I do indeed ; and the more necessary an article is, the more willing are the honorable senator and the party with which he is associated, to tax it. When the Fusion party were in power, they had the whole thing cut and dried. They were going to tax tea, kerosene, and cotton goods.
– I think that is absolutely untrue.
– Who said that?
– It was an open secret.
– It was never contemplated.
– The honorable senator’s leaders mentioned it on various occasions.” lt is easy for honorable senators to deny it now, seeing that the Fusion Government, very fortunately, did not get back to power.
– Can the honorable senator give chapter and verse for the statement ?
– I shall look it up and try to satisfy the honorable senator. I did not think that any one would deny it. I thought it was public property that such proposals were made.
– It is hardly worth denying, it is so absurd.
– It is not at all absurd, when we consider what is the policy of the party to which the honorable senator belongs. We know that they are Revenue-Tariffists and anti-direct taxation men.
– That is not a part of the policy of the party to which I belong.
– They have always considered tea, kerosene, cotton goods, and the articles most commonly used by the working people of Australia, fair game for taxation.
– I did not think the honorable senator could talk to the gallery in that way.
– I am glad to have Senator Vardon’s denial. He is a man for whom I have the greatest respect ; and I welcome him now into the ranks of taxation reformers. We have a distinct declaration from him that he is against the taxation of the necessaries of the poor, and that he is in favour of direct taxation.
– I am for sane taxation all the time.
– That is a very wide word, and embraces a great deal. I suppose the honorable senator would claim to be the judge of sanity in this connexion. I have heard that it is a very common thing in lunatic asylums for a patient to point to all the others and say, “ Those fellows are all mad. I am the only sane man here.” That man claims to b~e the judge of his own sanity, and of the insanity of others ; and in the same way, I suppose Senator Vardon would claim to be the judge of sane taxation. It is a misnomer to speak of land-value taxation as taxation at all.
– I have supported land-value taxation for twenty years and more.
– I am exceedingly glad to hear it.
– What about an income tax?
– I shall deal with the income tax in its turn. I repeat that land-value taxation so-called is not taxation at all.
– It is robbery.
– It is merely getting for the community the value which the community itself has created. Senator Walker says that it is robbery. I think that we could not have more clearly ex- pressed the honorable senator’s taxation morality. What we call justice is robbery in his vocabulary. If the community increases the value of land by £1,000, I say that the community is entitled to that money. The value created by the effort and expenditure of the people in various directions, and by the increase of population, belongs to the people, and ought to be claimed by them.. If any honorable senator wishes to know the source from which I desire to get revenue, I point him to that stream which is now flowing in its millions into the pockets of private landowners and financial institutions of Australia. I need not labour this question very much more, but I think I have made it abundantly clear that in the very near future something must be done in connexion with the Tariff. I read the reply given by the Minister of Customs to a deputation that waited on him the other day to the effect that everything would depend upon the result of the referendum to be held next year to seek larger industrial powers for the Commonwealth Parliament. If the people give the Commonwealth Parliament power to fix wages and conditions, I suppose the Government will immediately proceed to deal with the Tariff. But what will happen if the people do not give the Commonwealth Parliament that power? I say that if the Government are not prepared to make the Tariff an effectively Protectionist Tariff, there is only one alternative before them, and that is to make it a FreeTrade Tariff. Are the Government prepared to do that? Is any political party in Australia prepared to do that?
– The honorable senator should give notice of a question of that kind.
– That is not necessary. ls any political party in Australia prepared to adopt a policy which, if carried into effect, would turn hundreds of thousands of workmen, women, boys, and girls, into the labour market to-morrow? No political party in Australia would be so foolish as to propose such a policy. If that is an impossible policy, there is only one other which can be adopted, and that is the policy of screwing up the Tariff so as to make it effective to keep out the imports that are at present flowing into Australia in such an extraordinary stream. The Government may say that if the people do not give them the power they propose to ask for, they will not play into the hands of the manufacturers. But when I talk about Protection, I do not think of the manufacturers. I think of Australia, of the boys and girls who are growing up every year in this Commonwealth, and for whom some avenue in life must be provided. I think of the Commonwealth and of a policy which would place in the hands of every Australian some handicraft, which would give the people an opportunity of developing their mental and mechanical, as well as their physical, powers - a policy which would make them self-contained, and would put them in a better position than any other policy I know of to defend this country against foreign aggression. Honorable senators may say, “ We agree with you, but look at the sweating.” I say the way to prevent sweating is to raise the Tariff so high that it will cut off the competition of the sweated countries that are now pouring their goods into Australia. When we have destroyed that competition, we shall be in a position to say to the manufacturers of Australia, “ We are protecting you against the foreign invader, and we now insist that you shall pay decent wages and give fair conditions to your workers.” Our Tariff is not effective. It permits millions of pounds’ worth of goods which could be manufactured in Australia to pour in here annually. It is heaping revenue into the Treasury breast high. The income from Customs taxation in the Commonwealth is advancing by leaps and bounds. That, surely, is not a circumstance which brings anything like joy to the heart of the average Labour man? We want to see the goods which are now imported produced here. We do not want the government of our country to be carried on by means of Customs taxation. We wish to reduce that form of taxation to the lowest possible limit short of sweeping it away altogether. Every one knows what Customs taxation is, why it was devised in the first instance, and why it is continued. It was introduced for revenue pure and simple, and in order to derive that revenue from the poorer section of the people. The poor man who has a large family pays a greater proportion of his wages in the form of Customs taxation than does any other man, whilst the rich man pays less proportionately to his income.-. I am glad to have had an opportunity to say a few words upon this very large and important subject. I wish to impress upon the Government, upon every member of my own party, and also upon the Opposition, that this is a question which will demand the earnest attention of the people of Australia in the very near future.
.- I am surprised at the speech of Senator Stewart, in view of the fact that when the Tariff was under consideration it was repeatedly urged by Protectionists that its effect would be to cheapen goods. The honorable senator supported the imposition of a very high Tariff, and in doing so placed a burden on the whole of the consumers of Australia. But our Protective
Tariff has not resulted in a decline of the_ Customs .revenue. On the contrary, it has” increased that revenue by leaps and bounds. That will always be the result of a high Protective Tariff. When the fiscal question was being debated here, it was pointed out that a vast quantity of goods was imported into Australia which it would not pay any man to manufacture locally. For instance, it would not be profitable for any individual to undertake the local manufacture of dress material such as is worn in Queensland. We know, too, that fashions change, and that an article which was originally priced at two guineas or five guineas may, perhaps, be bought for one guinea when it is no longer fashionable. Importers must make their profits quickly. Consequently, when we impose a duty of 40 per cent, on such articles, the revenue must increase. I would further point out that the cost of living has been materially increased by our Protective Tariff, and that, as a result, men belonging to labour organizations are claiming increased wages. They have to thank Senator Stewart for having increased their cost of living.
– It is not the price of protected articles which have been increased.
– It is.
– It is not the price of meat and wheat which has increased.
– The price of meat and wheat must increase proportionately to the increased cost of living.
– A land tax will cure that.
– It will not affect it. It is not the large land-owners who produce wheat, onions, meat, and the necessaries of life. I should have liked the Government to inaugurate a better system of immigration. Honorable senators opposite are constantly declaring that we ought to provide for the land requirements of our own people before bringing immigrants to the country, and, to a certain extent, I agree with them. But I hold in my hand a booklet which has been issued by the “Department of External Affairs. It is signed by Mr. E. L. Batchelor, the Minister controlling that Department, and is dated the 15th August of the present year. From it I learn that in nearly every State land may be secured at a very cheap rate.
– Then there is no land monopoly.
– According to this publication, there is no land monopoly.
Referring to Queensland, under the heading of “Agricultural Homesteads,” it states -
Under this mode of selection the area varies with the value of the land, namely, 160 acresin the case of land valued for agricultural farms at not less than £1 per acre -
I do not suppose that anybody will contend that that is a high price to pay for agricultural land - 320 acres in the case of land valued at less than £1, but not less than 15s. per acre ; and 640 acres in the case of land valued at less than 15s. per acre. The price of the land is 2s. 6d. per acre, the annual rental 3d. per acre, and the term ten years.
I think that that is a very good advertisement for Queensland. If land monopoly does exist, where is the fact evidenced, so far as Queensland is concerned? I know that in my own State land can be obtained in the areas mentioned, and at the price stated, and I am very pleased that the Government intend broadcasting that information to the world.
– The honorable senator is using Hansard to advertise Queensland.
– I will also advertise the State which the honorable senator represents. The publication continues -
Personal residence is required until the land is made freehold, which can be done after five years by the payment of the balance of the purchase money.
All payments of rent are credited towards the purchase money and on proof that the sum expended on improvements on the land has been at the rate of ios., 5s., or as. 6d. per acre, respectively, according to the price of the land.
Under the heading “Free homesteads,” we are told -
The area under this mode must not exceed 160 acres. The term is five years, during which period the selector must occupy the land by personally residing on it, and must effect improvements to the total value of ios. per acre. Farmers in Great Britain and elsewhere may arrange to secure areas suitable for general farming, wheat growing, dairying, or other productive purposes prior to their departure to Queensland. In such cases application must be made to the Agent-General for Queensland, Marble Hall, the Strand, London, who, on being satisfied with the bona fides of the application, will set aside an area which will be reserved until the applicant has an opportunity of inspecting it. If for any reason the area thus reserved is found to be unsatisfactory, the applicant, without forfeiture of any deposit, may seek another area, but he will have no prior right to applicants already in the State to such fresh areas.
In the face of these statements, where is the lack of land upon which to settle immigrants ? That there is a wealth of land available for the purpose is vouched for by the Government. It is true that a scarcity of land may exist within 8 or 10 miles of Sydney or Melbourne. But surely all the people do not wish to reside close to our cities. According to Senator Stewart, we ought to do everything possible to foster our manufactures. Personally, I would rather have more primary producers and fewer factories. The best defence of a country is to be found in the existence of a sturdy yeomanry.
– Hear, hear.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council may say, “ Hear, hear!” in a sarcastic manner; but, if he is familiar with the history of his own country - he professes to be a Scotchman, but I sometimes doubt his statement - he must know that the manhood of Scotland in time of need came from the country, and not from its large towns. If we wish adequately to protect Australia, we must assist people to settle upon its lands.
– There are not many persons settled on the lands of Scotland now.
– I quite agree with that statement. I would rather see fourfifths of our population settled upon the land, and only one-fifth resident in the towns, than see four-fifths resident in our cities and only one-fifth settled upon the land. But neither the present nor previous Governments have attempted to realize that ideal.
– A Federal land tax will help to bring it about.
– The honorable senator makes an interjection about a Federal land tax. He may not be very venturesome, but there are_ people in his own State who have not been content to sit down behind the counter of a store in a little country place, but have preferred to come over to the mainland and fake up land in Queensland. We do not, in Australia, want people who are content to earn 15s. a week behind a shop counter in some huckstering business. The men who will advance the interests of this country are those who will strike out for themselves, as many of our forefathers did.
– There is not much chance in a State where 1,400 people own nine-tenths of the land.
– Tasmania is a mere bagatelle in comparison with all Australia. The pamphlet from which I am quoting supplies some information with regard to Western Australia -
Conditional . purchase by direct payment -
From 100 to 1,000 acres at from 10s. per acre, payable within twelve months.
No one will say for a moment that that is a high price to pay for land. A thousand acres can be obtained for £500.
– The price has gone up now.
– This pamphlet is dated 10th August, and I do not think that the honorable senator can have much later information than the Minister of External Affairs bad.
– Western Australia is finding that the land is more valuable than was supposed-
– Even at £1 per acre the price would not be high. If a man could get 500 acres for £500 it would not be a high price. We are also informed -
Land for orchards, vineyards, or gardens -
From 5 to 50 acres, from 20s. per acre, payable in three years. Improvements : One-tenth cultivated as a garden or orchard, including fence or boundaries, to be completed in three years. The Minister may, in his discretion, permit any lessee to substitute in lieu of fencing any other prescribed improvement of equal value.
No one will tell me that land is scarce in that State, or that excessive land values are preventing people from settling there. Consequently the statement is not true of either Western Australia or Queensland. What is the state of things in New South Wales? We are told that -
Land that is suited to wheat growing combined with grazing will fetch from £2 to ^5 an acre -
That is not a very high price in a State like New South Wales. Surely no honorable senator can say that land is locked up and that none is to be procured when the Government are prepared to find land for settlers at such prices as vouched for by the Minister of External Affairs in the present Ministry - whilst land that is best adapted to dairying and maize growing will bring from £4 up to ^’20 per acre.
I take it that that refers to the Northern rivers, and to lands close to the coast, growing lucerne, maize, and other products for dairy farming. I am told that in two or three years a man would be able to clear off the- whole price of that land. I have it from a gentleman in Victoria that, in one year, a farmer in this State bought 1,200 acres of land, which was fallowed when he purchased if, paying £9 per acre. The first wheat crop that he got off it- a yield of between 30 and 40 bushels to- the acre - pretty well paid off the cost price of the land, “in face of such facts it cannot be said that land is extraordinarily dear even in Victoria.
– The honorable senator knows that that statement is not true.
– Order ! The Vice-President of the Executive Council must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it. and say that the statement is not correct.
– I (]0 not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council used the word “untrue’’ in an unfriendly fashion. I had these facts from a gentleman to whom I can introduce the honorable senator this afternoon.
– Thirty bushels at 4s. a bushel, would only yield £6.
– The honorable senator is a very good judge of “ sailorizing “ and certainly talks a lot about that subject; but I do not think he is a good judge of farming. If he were, he would know that a man on a wheat farm with 1,200 acres grows other things than wheat. He raises cattle and pigs, and probably goes in ‘for dairying. My informant vouched for the fact that this land-owner, with a yield of about 35 bushels to the acre, paid for his land in two years.
– He could not have done that out of wheat-growing.
– I do not think that the honorable senator knows very much about wheat-growing. I do not profess to know, much about it myself, though I do understand mining. I am simply relating facts that were supplied to me by a gentleman who, I am sure, was not misleading me. What does the official pamphlet say about Victoria ? - lt is somewhat difficult to fix average prices at which privately-owned lands may be purchased for agricultural purposes in any of the above districts.
The districts being the Metropolitan Western. Central, Wimmera, Mallee, Northern, North-Eastern, and Eastern (Gippsland) -
Land suitable for market gardening in the brighton and Mordialloc districts, ranges from ^’20 to ^50 per acre.
That, of course, is land in close proximity to Melbourne. The Brighton district is, indeed, part of Melbourne -
Good fruit-growing land can be obtained in the Doncaster and Diamond Creek districts from £to to £20 per acre.
– What about the price of land at Bacchus Marsh ?
– That is land which has been in a high state of cultivation foi many years. The honorable senator’s own Government is responsible for these statements.
– The honorable senator is quoting the gospel according to Batchelor.
– No; as supplied to Mr. Batchelor.
– I am quoting from a book published under the auspices of this Government.
– On information supplied.
– The book is signed by Mr. Batchelor, and has been distributed throughout the world.
– With the authority of the Government.
– I have said so.
– The statements are quite correct.
– If honorable senators opposite choose to dispute the authority of their own Government, they have a right to do so. As to the Western District of Victoria, this official pamphlet says -
The rainfall of the Cressy portion of this district is about 23 inches per annum ; the land is practically clear of timber, easily cultivated, and moderate in price, ranging from ^5 to £y per acre.
– That is true.
– Then, what justification is there for the cry that we cannot have immigrants until we impose a land tax? I have proved that in Western Australia and Queensland-
– That is only rubbish.
– If so, it is rubbish that comes from the honorable senator’s own Government.
– I cannot help that.
– This must be a “ rubbishing “ Government, according to the honorable senator’s own statement -
Around Hamilton and Casterton the price of land varies from £8 to £15 per acre, and on the rich volcanic land around Camperdown, Colac, and Warrnambool, from £2 to ,£40 per acre.
– More like from £12 1:0 £I3° per acre.
– Why did not the honorable senator have that statement put in the pamphlet? Why does he try ,to throw cold water on a document issued on his own authority as a member of the Ministry ?
– The statement is near enough to the truth.
– A statement that is merely “ near enough “ to the truth is issued by this Government -
Farms of great fertility in the Koroit and Tower Hill districts have been sold at higher prices. In the Cape Otway forest district, partially cleared, land ranged from £3 to £12 per acre.
Where, then, is the evidence of high and extortionate prices for land, even in Victoria, which is more thickly populated than any other State? Evidently, land is to be acquired.
– Oh, it is very cheap ! It is dirt cheap.
– Anyhow, this document has been published to the world under the authority of the present Government, which Senator Stewart supports. Too great stress cannot be laid upon that fact. Let me quote the prologue of the pamphlet, which is signed by Mr. Batchelor, Minister of External Affairs. He says -
In extending to farmers and farm-workers an invitation to take advantage of opportunities that exist for prosperous settlement in Australia, the Government of the Commonwealth wishes to make it clear that there is no desire to discriminate against other classes of settlers.
Agriculturists are specially invited and assisted to come to Australia, because it is considered that in a progressive young country, with so much territory proved to be suitable for the growth of produce for which there is everincreasing demand in local and oversea markets, such settlers will advance the interests of the country and of themselves.
The’ contents of this book have been compiled from information furnished by responsible authorities, to whom this opportunity is taken of expressing the thanks of the Government of the Commonwealth.
– That is all quite true. It ‘was issued in anticipation of the land tax.
– That preface was signed on the 10th August, so that the book must have been compiled long before that date. But, admitting for the sake of argument that the interjection is correct, that gives the price of the land at that date. The honorable senator knows that in Queensland land can be got, even free homesteads. How could this book be written in anticipation of the land tax? It would be the worst thing which the Government could do if the object were to uphold the arguments in favour of the tax.
– Can the honorable senator tell me where I can get a free homestead in Queensland?
d-. - There is any quantity of Crown land ir> Queensland, and good land, too, foi: settlers.
– It is not free. Senator SAYERS. - It is so stated m the book.
– It can be got for a few shillings per acre.
– That is overrun with prickly pear.
– According to the book, a person can get 160 acres of land free. Let me now take South Australia.
There are 19,345 square miles of pastoral) land open for selection. The price of agricultural land varies considerably, according to. locality, class of soil, and average rainfall. Good farming land, with a reliable rainfall, and improved, is in great demand at prices from £4 to £20 per acre, and, occasionally, higher. Crown lands, principally scrubby, from, 2s. 6d. to £2 per acre; land repurchased and allotted for closer settlement from about £3 to £5 per acre.
Honorable senators will find that in South Australia, the” price of land is not extortionate. I do not suppose for a moment that if a man bought land forty years ago at £t an acre he would make a profit of is. per acre if he got from £3 to £5 per acre, because the interest on the outlay for that period would represent a considerable sum.
– The man would have been getting crops off the land.
– He would have obtained a profit. The quotation con’tinues -
The rentals vary for Crown lands from 2 per cent, to 4 per cent, on purchase money. For garden land in gullies and hill slopes of the Mount Lofty Ranges, where there is a good rainfall, prices vary from £5 to £100 or more per acre. Grazing or pastoral leases are at rentals from the Crown of from about is. 6d. to £2 per square mile. Dairying land for dairying purposes, i.e., in most cases, land on which lucerne could be grown, varies from ^20 to £100 an acre, and with rentals at from £t to £10 per acre. In some instances, as at the Reedbeds, rentals are as high as ^15 per acre. The prices for good grazing land suitable for. dairy cattle are much the same as those for agricultural purposes.
In very isolated places - in small areas like Bacchus Marsh, or the Reedbeds, some of them being plentifully endowed by nature, the values may be high, but the holders are mostly persons with small areas who want a big price. The land has been cultivated and manured, and, of course, it will bring a high price. The new settler can take up land on which he can make a living at a far more reasonable price. He would not have capital enough to buy 100 acres at from £50 to £100 an acre.
– It is the cheapest in the long run.
– It might be if the new settler had the capital, but that is not always the case. If the Government believe what is stated in the book, as I do - and I know that in a great many instances concerning Queensland it is true - they should ask for a little more money with which to bring out persons, and settle them. We have been told that the Commonwealth has been very prosperous for the last five or six years. I believe that it has been. I am satisfied that we have never had more prosperous years in our history, but we do not find a great influx of people. We hear that Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia, and, I believe, New Zealand, are bringing out immigrants at their own expense. What the Commonwealth ought to do is to select a suitable class of immigrant to go on the land: With an overflowing Treasury they should not hesitate for a moment to carry out a vigorous policy of that kind. We have vast spaces still unsettled. We talk about taking over a Territory half as large as Europe is, yet we do not hear a word of a scheme for bringing out immigrants. We are simply left in the dark. The revenue is going up by leaps and bounds, but the Government remain silent on this question. For our system of defence we need immigrants. We shall be asked to-day to appropriate money for defence, yet we hear not a word about bringing out any persons to assist us in that regard. We can find money for various other purposes, but the question of an immigration policy is put off from day to day. According to a return which has been presented to the Senate at my instance, the annual rental of the Patent Office in Melbourne is £1,100. I should like the Minister to see if he cannot get that amount reduced.
– They need a lot of room.
– It is a pure waste of public money.
– They want, a lot of room.
– -Does the honorable senator know where the Patent Office is;?
– I have been through it.
– Where is it?
– I do not know where it is now, but the honorable senator knows the accommodation which they want.
– The Patent Office is now situated in the Victorian Railway Station Buildings, in Flinders-street. There is not much room for the officers. An annual rental of £1,100, at 3J per cent., represents a capital of £31,427. Is it not shameful that the Commonwealth should be required to pay that sum’ every year for the accommodation of a few clerks? It is one of the most disgraceful facts which, are disclosed in the return. The officials in connexion with the Department were so over-tired with work that they furnished the return, not to the Senate alone, but. to the other House, without taking the trouble to set out the total sum which is paid irc rentals. I have been twitted by the members of another place with calling for a return without the additions being made. It is a disgraceful exhibition by public officers. If a return I move for is ever presented in that fashion again I shall try to see what can be done. In this return’ we get three batches of figures, but not one batch is added up as should have been done. The duty of public officers is tofurnish a correct return in the form asked for. The rents we pay represent a capital value of £542,857.
– Is the honorable senator referring to one State or to all the States ?
– To three States. InMelbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, we pay. between £19,000 and ,£20,000 in rents. What are we paying all over the country to the States, or, in many instances, toprivate individuals? The Rialto, in Collinsstreet, Melbourne, is, I believe, a private property, and if its owner got nothing else but the Government rental he would” be well paid. I should like the Minister to tell us what we pay £1,100 a year to the Victorian Government for in connexion with the Patent Office. I must blame the present Government for that act, but not for all the acts which are disclosed in thereto rn.
– I think that the arrangement was made by a previous: Administration
– I shall not dispute the honorable senator’s statement, becauseI have been unable to ascertain the facts.
Senator Guthrie interjected that he knew where the Patent Office is. but as it has just been removed I took it that the arrangement was made by the present Government. Whichever Government is responsible for this waste of public money 1 enter a protest, as I hope, Parliament will do. Fancy a building worth £31.427 being rented for the Patent Office !
– And that waste will continue until we get the Federal Capital.
– I notice a number ot significant things in the return. The vent of the Commonwealth Offices and the Commonwealth Treasury is only £450 a year. Yet, for the Patent Office, we pay £1,100 a year. Is that fair or right? Perhaps, in Committee, the Honorary Minister will be able to furnish an explanation. I notice, too, that the Stock Exchange Post Office, in Collins-street, Melbourne, costs the Department £551 a year.
– It is a very valuable, and very central building; a very large business is done there.
– That is quite true, but the honorable senator is also aware that very high land values obtain, near the Royal Exchange, in Pitt-street, Sydney, yet the Sydney Exchange Post Office costs the Department only £200 a year. How can any man defend such use of public money as I have revealed ? Let honorable senators compare the floor space in the buildings which are both conveniently situated in a leading public street, and ask themselves why one is worth £380 more than the other a year.
– Pitt-street is not equal to Collins-street.
– Senator Fraser cannot look beyond Melbourne in such matters, but there are honorable senators who do not come either from Melbourne or Sydney, and so can take an unbiased view of them. I think that the property in the one place is as valuable as that in the other, and I do not see why £350 more should be charged for a post-office in Collins-street, Melbourne, than is charged for a post-office in the Stock Exchange, in as good a position, in Sydney. I do not accuse the present Government of blame in this matter, but I direct their attention to the facts, and I hope that they will see that justice is done to the taxpayers, and that their money is not wasted in this way. The payment for a room in the Melbourne Stock Exchange at the rate of two-and-a-half times as much as is paid for a similar room in the Sydney Stock Exchange cannot be defended on any ground whatever, nor can any one defend the payment of more rent for the Patent Office in Melbourne than for the Commonwealth Offices and Treasury Offices combined. The return from which I have quoted will be circulated, and people will want to know why these things are done. If previous Governments have been to blame in the matter, I ask that the present Government shall rectify the wrong. That is the principal matter on which 1 desired to speak. 1 may think it well to refer to a few of the items of the schedule when the Bill is in Committee. In view of the state of the revenue, and of the fact that we are proposing to take over a large tract of country, and that, according to the Minister of External Affairs, land is available for settlement at reasonable prices, I hope the Government will try to do something to fill up the vacant spaces of Australia.
– 1 do not intend to traverse the arguments of Senator Stewart, although the temptation to do so is very strong. I will only say that any man who professes to be an advocate of a progressive -tax upon land values, and couples that with high Protection, has the most insane ideas of taxation that I ever heard of. An opportunity will be afforded later to discuss these questions, and, therefore, I shall not occupy the time of the Senate in debating them this afternoon. I rise mainly to refer to one matter which has been brought under my notice un several occasions, and that is the difference in the salaries paid to responsible officers holding similar positions in the different States. It seems to me that men holding similar positions in New South Wales and Western Australia, or in any of the States, should be paid something like the same salaries for similar duties and responsibilities.
– Sometimes the duties and responsibilities of officers holding similar positions in the different States are not equal.
– In the smaller States the responsibilities and duties are likely to be less.
– I say that, as a rule, officers having the same duties to perform, and charged with similar responsibilities, should be paid something like the same salaries. I have had several com- plaints made to me on the subject, and 1 have here some particulars of cases occurring in the Customs Department. I propose to give these particulars, and, per haps, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to explain the reason for the differences shown in the following table : -
– Does the honorable senator think there should be a new classification? Does he recommend that all should be brought up to the highest salary paid, or that all should be brought down to the lowest?
– I think that the figures given show that there is some need for a new classification, and if all the officers are worth it, I should like to see all brought up to the highest salary paid in each case. Surely Ministers will not contend that there is so much difference in the work of the temporary clerks in theother States as compared with their work in South Australia as is indicated by the wages paid.
– What were the wages paid prior to Federation?
– I cannot go back over that. If the honorable senator’s contention is that the wages paid prior to Federation are being continued, that is no justification for the differences which the figures disclose.
– The wages paid prior to Federation were very much lower than those now paid.
– That is not a reply to my objection either.
– Temporary clerks get only 8s. per day in the Central Administrative Department.
– I think the Minister will find that the figures I have given will be borne out by the officials of the Department.
– The honorable senator has not been supplied with the figures for the Central Administrative Department.
– The figures given answer my purpose. Where is the warrant for so big a difference in salary as that paid to a Sub-Collector of Customs in New South Wales of£600 and that paid to a Sub-Collector in South Australia of£380? In view of the figures given I do not wonder that there should be some dissatisfaction in the Public Service in some of the States. I think the matter is well worthy of inquiry to show whether such a difference in duties and responsibilities in the different States exists as to warrant so great a difference in the salaries paid, especially in the case of temporary clerks. Surely it cannot be right that in one State they should be paid 2s. a day less than in any of the other States? I ask Ministers to look into the matter and see whether the differences to which I have drawn attention are justified. I have not much to say on this Supply Bill. I take it that amounts set out in the schedule are in accord with the Estimates previously approved. I do not know why the Ministry should ask for two months’ Supply when one month’s Supply would be sufficient. We shall not close Parliament in a month. .
– In six weeks.
– I think that is very doubtful. If we are to do all the work outlined in a speech made in another place last night it will be more like six months before we are through with it.
– It is all at the will of Parliament. It can take as long as it likes to do the work.
– I take it that it will be to some extent at the will of the Government. It will depend upon the measures they submit to Parliament. It will be the duty of Parliament to properly discuss every measure submitted by the Government, and I do not suppose the session will close until that has been done. If it is to continue for so long as may be anticipated in view of the business which we are told has yet to be done, the Government should on this occasion have been satisfied with one month’s Supply.
– In introducing this temporary Supply Bill I endeavoured to set as good an example as I possibly could. Honor.orable senators are all aware of the programme that has been announced by the Prime Minister and of the work that will be entailed in carrying out that programme. The longer we take over such incidental matters as Supply Bills the longer the session is bound to be. I was under the impression that honorable senators read the newspapers, and were fully informed of the programme which has been put forward by the Prime Minister. But, as it has become almost a habit for legislative bodies, such as the Senate, to require an independent statement to be made in that connexion, I am prepared to conform to that requirement, although I was willing to forego the pleasure of doing so when I moved the second reading of this Bill. It is the intention of the Government to carry two measures connected with land taxation. Although I do not intend to discuss those measures at the present juncture, it is necessary for me to state why there are two. One is an assessment Bill, and the other a taxing Bill. In addition, two Bills will be introduced dealing with amendments of the Constitution. One of these is intended to vest in the Commonwealth Parliament the power which is possessed by every State Parliament to legislate in respect of industrial matters, and the other deals with the very much discussed and vexed question of the nationalization of monopolies. These measures must be dealt with. There are also two Bills relating to the Sugar Bounty and Excise. They are necessary, because existing legislation in that connexion is about to expire. Then there are two measures relating to the question of defence. One of these has already been approved by this Chamber, and the other is the Naval Defence Bill. The Northern Territory Acceptance Bill has already passed through the Senate, and will have to be dealt with by the other branch of the Legislature. It will also be necessary to introduce a Bill dealing with the administration of. the Federal Territory. A great many persons - including even Senator Walker - have complained of delay in the issue of the proclamation under which the Federal Territory will be taken over by the Commonwealth. But every honorable senator ought to know that before that proclamation can be issued legislation must be enacted for the administration of the Territory.
– Could not that legislation be enacted after the issue of the proclamation ?
– If we issued the proclamation first, what law would be operative within the Federal Territory ? We should have the people of one township stealing from those of another the goats of which some honorable senators have spoken, and there would be no law to prevent them doing so. In other words, a state of anarchy would exist. Now, the Government do not believe in anarchy. Although we are a Socialistic Government, we wish to preserve law and order, and as soon as the maintenance of law and order has been insured throughout the Federal Territory, the Government will’ issue the necessary proclamation. Then we shall have to pass a Bill dealing with Tariff anomalies. A number of these anomalies exist, and the Government hope to secure the assistance of both Houses in remedying them as soon as possible. A very necessary measure in connexion with oil bounties will also be introduced. I am sure that the representatives of New South Wales and Tasmania, where shale abounds, will be very gratified to learn that the Government take such an interest in the welfare of their States as to impel them to introduce this legislation. A Bill will also be introduced dealing with penny postage, and it is intended that it shall be brought into force during the last two months of the financial year. The longer the introduction of this reform is delayed the more expensive will it become. We further intend to introduce a small Bill to amend the Judiciary Act. It is also proposed to bring forward an amending Electoral Bill. Of course, we are all familiar with the Navigation Bill, which has been occupying the attention of the Senate for some time. The Government do not intend to force that measure through both Houses of Parliament during the current session, but we think it is desirable that it should be transmitted to another place, so that its consideration may be entered upon there next year. A Bill dealing with lighthouses, lightships, beacons, and buoys, has already passed the Senate, and will require to be dealt with by the other branch of the Legislature. There are one or two other small measures with which itmay be necessary to deal. But I would point out to honorable senators that a number of these Bills are so short that it ought to be possible to deal with two or three of them in a day. They are Bills of only one or two clauses. It is not the length of the list that should alarm honorable senators. The question which they have to consider is the importance of the proposed legislation. Out of the entire list, there are only a few debatable measures which ought to occupy much time, either in this Chamber or the House of Representatives. I hope that we shall astonish even ourselves by the amount of business which we shall transact.
– What about the Estimates and the Budget?
– Something ought always to be left to the imagination, and every honorable senator knows that we must pass the Appropriation Bill before Parliament can be prorogued. If honorable senators are prepared to occupy as much time as has been occupied this afternoon in discussing matters which are entirely beyond the scope of the question under consideration, we shall not dispose of the business which I have outlined until after Christmas. When we have such St. Ledgerdemainian Chataways discussing a trifling Bill of this description, I do not know what we may expect when we come to debate such measures as the Land Tax Assessment Bill.
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council recollect the occasion upon which he divided the Senate upon the question of the desirableness of imposing a duty on dried herbs ?
– I do. I am very glad that I was able to obtain that duty, because the industry has been a great success. I do not suggest that Senators Gould, Chataway, and St. Ledger have occupied one minute more than they were entitled to occupy. They were really moderate in their criticism. I come now to the sixty-fifth section of the Labour party - Senator Stewart. It would have been much better if he had reserved his wellthoughtout and really eloquent discourse to a more appropriate occasion. Everybody recognises that the Labour part)’ is a Labour party, and not a fiscal party. Labour interests, and the interests of Australia must be placed before any sectional interests, so far as the fiscal policy of the country is concerned. I quite agree with the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs that the manufacturers of Australia, by reason of their past conduct, have a right to wait for that measure of protection which we are prepared to extend to them, until the Commonwealth Parliament has obtained power to deal with industrial matters. When the Government introduce a Bill dealing with the fiscal policy of the country, I hope that it will be in such a form as will satisfy every honorable senator.
– Will the Government introduce such a measure if the referendum in regard to Commonwealth control of industrial matters be not carried?
– I would like the honorable senator to give notice of such a serious question. If the Government are in power at the time of which he speaks, they will be guided by the circumstances which then exist. Before concluding my remarks, I would like to say a. word or two to Senator Sayers, who was at great trouble to quote from a document which has been issued by the Commonwealth Government, and by every word of which I am prepared to stand. I would like honorable senators to read the whole of that pamphlet, and not to arrive at conclusions founded upon piecemeal extracts from it. We hope that, as the result of the policy of the Government, greater areas of land will be available for closer settlement purposes in the near future. It is in anticipation of that result that the publication in question has been issued. Senator Sayers also spoke of the enormous rentals which are being paid for Commonwealth offices in Victoria and the other States. One notable instance which he quoted was the payment of £1,100 annually for office accommodation in the Railway Buildings. Melbourne. The impression which he conveyed was that a certain amount of responsibility rested upon the Government in connexion with that transaction.
– I said that I hoped such was not the case.
– It is not the case. I may tell the honorable senator that, in October of last year, the Honorable George Fuller, a member of the Fusion Government - despite the fact that he visited the Federal Capital site and told the people that in the near future the Seat of Government would be established there - entered into a contract with the Victorian Government to lease the accommodation in question for five years, at an annual rental of£1,100. I would ask the honorable senator, who is always standing up for the fulfilment of existing contracts, and who is never tired of talking about repudiation and confiscation, whether he wishes the Government to repudiate this agreement, which was entered into by a previous Ministry, of which he was a loyal supporter? I hope that, in the solitude of his own chamber, he will reflect seriously upon the statements which he has made, and that in future he will not be so voluble until he is sure of his ground.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council tell me what notice must be given to terminate the lease ?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the present Government are in earnest in everything that they have intimated to the public their intention to carry out ; and as soon as they have an opportunity of remedying the evils of which they are the heirs from previous Governments they will do so. Senator Vardon had a few words to say about some irregularities in the salaries of Commonwealth officers. I do not think that the honorable senator intended to convey the impression that the present Government were responsible for what he complained about.
– I did not say a word about the present Government.
– An Act was some years ago passed by the Legislature, under which a Public Service Commissioner was appointed to value the services of all our officers. The Commissioner is furnished with the services of inspectors, and he is responsible for the irregularities, if such they can be called, existing in the different States.
– I simply said that there were inequalities.
– If there are inequalities they arise out of the judgment of the Public Service Commissioner and his inspectors. Every one will admit that these gentlemen know the value of the services rendered in the different offices that they have examined better than an ordinary member of Parliament can ; and if they see fit to pay£20 more to an officer in Western Australia than to one in South Australia, or£40 more to one in South Australia than to one in Queensland, they have done so because the work of the office, or of the officer, is of such a character as to justify the difference. As far as concerns political influence, I wish Senator Vardon would go down to the Public Service Commissioner’s office and try to work that influence upon him. He would soon realize the impossibility of doing anything of the kind. As far as I am concerned, I did not support the appointment of a Public Service Commissioner. I was always in favour of Parliamentary and Ministerial responsibility. But the officer has been appointed. He has done his duty faithfully and well ; and I, as a member of this Government, intend to support his decisions. I think I have now dealt with all that requires to be said in answer to criticisms, and I hope that, in view of the programme of work that we have to accomplish, the Government will receive help both from the Opposition and their own supporters to enable the legislation to be passed within a reasonable time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.=
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Literary Fund - Electoral Offices, Brisbane - Census Questions - Commonwealth Elections - Administration of Electoral Act - Federal Capital Site - Printing of Parliamentary Papers - The Trawler “ Endeavour “ - Automobile Corps - Court-martial of Naval Officer - Explosion at Thursday Island - Aeroplanes and Dirigible Balloons - Vancouver Mail Service - Wireless Telegraph Station, King Island - Telephone Rates - Mail Steamers : Agreements with Passengers.
Divisions . 1 to 10 (Parliament), £5,201, agreed to.
Divisions 11 to 16 (Department of External Affairs),£2,502.
– In connexion with the Department of External Affairs, there is a vote of £120 for the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I should like to have some information as to the object of that fund. In all probability, information has been furnished on more than one occasion, but I did not happen to be present at the time, or do not remember it. If the vote is in the nature of an acknowledgment of distinguished or brilliant literary work done by Australian authors or authoresses, it is in the nature of a bonus. I quite agree with that object. In all probability there are no persons who have done better service for the Commonwealth, and who have received less in payment in proportion to their labours, than literary men and women.
– The author of Australian Socialism, to wit !
– I am not foreshadowing matters with regard to myself. My only regret is that the pressure of duties in parliamentary life does not enable me to devote, more time to literary work. I do not carp at this item, but should like to have some information as to how the fund is administered.
– As Senator St. Ledger has indicated, this vote represents part of a sum which is applied to a fund to be paid to distressed authors, or to the relatives of deceased authors who have done notable literary work in Australia. I hope that by the time the honorable senator requires anything of this description a larger amount will be available. Joking apart, I may add that the Government would appreciate it very much if Senator St. Ledger had less to say, and wrote a great deal more.The amount voted last year was £700, of which £570 was spent.
– I understand that the fund is administered by a Committee. Who are the members of that body? Furthermore, though I do not wish to pry as to who receive benefits from the fund, I should like to know their character, or something about them. The fund is, of course, under the control of the Minister of External Affairs, but I assume that he delegates the administration to a Committee.
– The names of the Committee who have to make recommendations for the disbursement of the money in question have been published times out of number. They are Sir Langdon Bonython, South Australia, who is well known and highly respected; the Rev. E. H. Sugden, master of Queen’s College, Melbourne University, who is, I believe, fairly respectable; and Mr. F. M. Bladen, principal librarian at the Sydney Library. The names of those gentlemen ought to satisfy even Senator St. Ledger.
– Iam glad to hear the names of the Committee that administers the literary fund, but I much regret that when a simple question is asked, the Vice-President of the Executive Council cannot answer it without casting reflections, because any encomiums from him upon the gentlemen mentioned is rather an insult to them. Let the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when asked a simple question, answer it civilly.
– I thought that Senator St. Ledger was joking, and that he knew all about the fund.
– I knew nothing about it. I learn for the first time to-day that the fund is administered by a Committee. When the Vice-President of the Executive Council is asked a question about an item in this schedule, he ought to answer it civilly. If he did that, probably we should not trouble him at all.
– It is all right.
– I am quite a new member of the Senate, the honorable senator is a very old member of it ; but I would suggest to him that the mere fact that he is sitting at the Ministerial table and that we are sitting on the Opposition benches does not justify him in assuming that every question from this side is purely asked for foolery.
– He thought it was a joke.
– I do not know what he thought, but from the way in which he spoke I imagined that he did not think at all.
– Well, . I apologize.
– Here is another fellow chipping in.
– The honorable senator must not refer to an honorable senator as a “ fellow.”
– Idonotmind, sir. He does not know any better.
– I rise to order. I desire to know if the honorable senator is in order in discussing the Vice-President of the Executive Council instead of the schedule to the Supply Bill? I submit that the personality or the manner of the Minister’s replies has nothing to do with any item.
– Senator McGregor made some references to which Senator Chataway has addressed himself in reply. I do not think that the latter was out of order.
– I resent very much the manner in which Senator McGregor has treated questions from this side. I thought that I spoke civilly enough. I certainly spoke with no desire other than to get information of which I was not possessed. How he could have inferred that I had risen as a sort of joke I am at a loss to understand. He started with a personal reflection on myself, which I took as good humouredly as I thought it was given. He made a direct assertion that I had merely asked the question in order to waste time, and when he was asked to give the names of the Committee he gave me the names of three eminent, well-known men whom we would all trust for that particular purpose. Then he went further and insinuated that another of the indirect objects which I had in asking the question was that I might indirectly cast a reflection on three able and trusted gentlemen. I did nothing of the kind. I simply knew nothing about the matter. I thought that the bond fide manner in which I asked the question would have been apparent to the Minister. It seems to me that Ministers’ nerves are getting so frayed that when one or two senators rise on this side they lose all con trol over ordinary good manner and good form.
– I humbly apologize to the honorable senator if I misunderstood him. I hope that when he has a few remarks to make in future, especially if they are directed to me, he will give us an intimation as to whether he is really serious or joking, and then I shall be able to treat him accordingly. If I have misunderstood him on this occasion I am very sorry. I have given him the information desired.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 3.7 to 20 (Attorney-General s Department) , £2,669. agreed to.
Divisions 21 to 29 (Home Affairs). £47,320.
– According to a return an annual rent of £60 is paid for the Electoral Offices in the Treasury Building at Brisbane. The offices are two miserable, badlyventilated, badly-drained rooms situated almost in the vault of the Treasury. When I paid mylast visit the offices were so crowded that there was hardly room for anybody to move. I addressed to the Department a letter, in which I pointed out how impossible it was for the work to be properly carried out there. One room was allotted to the principal officer, and the other accommodated six or eight clerks, and, if I remember aright, it measured about 20 feet by 14 feet. My visit was paid in what is known as the wet season, and the whole place was putrid with the smell of growing vegetable matter half way up to the windows of the rooms, which faced a quadrangle. There was no room for the officers to move about, and there was absolutely no room for people to go in to do business. Probably the last Government, and the one they replaced, were more to blame than are the present Government. The public cannot even get a glimpse of the rolls so badly lighted is the miserable place. It is unhealthy, and not worth any rent. I do not expect a definite reply to-day, but I ask the Department to look into the. matter, and see if better quarters cannot be obtained for the accommodation of the electoral officers.
– I shall bring Senator Chataway’s complaint regarding the Electoral Offices at Brisbane under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, and if the building is half as bad as he has alleged, it is altogether unsuitable.
– The building is all right, but the rooms occupied as electoral offices are situated on the cellar floor.
– The honorable senator asserts that the rooms set apart for electoral purposes are not suited for the use of the public?
– Yes, they are poisonous.
– Especially at election time.
– I shall bring the complaint immediately under the notice of my honorable colleague.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) (5.41]. - On page 7 of the schedule, I notice an item of £5,000 for the collection and compilation of the census. I hope that the money is not to be spent in the compilation of that awful set of questions which has been circulated. I hope that not another penny will be spent in this matter until the Parliament has had an opportunity, if possible, of correcting some sort of lunacy which is beginning to manifest itself in the Department regarding the questions to be set for persons to answer. Let me take one typical, awful stupidity. I notice that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is entering the chamber, and I must say that here is an occasion when the Department, if they are really serious in this matter, should state in red ink, “ This is really not a joke; it is serious.” According to the census-paper, every householder in A.ustralia has to answer the question in this form-
– Are you going to discuss that to-day?
– Oh, no!
– If you are going to discuss it to-day, I shall not bring it on to-morrow night.
– If honorable senators desire it, I will.
– That being so, I shall, content myself to-day with” saying that lunacy, in some direction, must be creeping into the Department.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.43].- I understand that the census questions alluded to by Senator St. Ledger will have to be approved in the form of regulations before they can be placed in the censuspaper ?
– The Act gives power to the Minister.
– Under the Act, the Minister has power to prescribe the most insane questions he may think fit to be placed in the census-paper. But the regulations will, I understand, be tabled in Parliament, and then it will be for each House, if it pleases, to disapprove of any particular regulation. Senator McGregor has stated that if it is the desire of the Senate, he proposes to have the whole matter debated to-morrow night. I wish to know whether he proposes to have a debate on any regulations which will be laid on the table for the purpose of being considered ?
– No; 1 intend to lay the papers on the table.
– That has been done.
– Cannot the Ministers agree amongst themselves?
– A few days ago, we had sent round to us a form of questions in connexion with the census to be taken’ on the 3rd April next. In addition to the questions provided for in the Act, there are some questions marked “ confidential,” such as “ salary and wages,” “ average number of hours’ work,” “ notes and coin in circulation,” and whether a man is a total abstainer or not. I assume that the additional questions cannot be placed on the census-paper until they have been submitted to the Senate, and approved of? We are anxious to know when the Government propose to give us an opportunity to debate the matter.
– I promised to give an opportunity to discuss the matter to-morrow night; but the honorable senator is continuing the discussion now.
– I want to ascertain the way in which the matter is to be debated tomorrow night. Will we be able to decide tomorrow night whether a man should be asked to say how many shillings or coppers he has in his pocket on a particular date?
– Honorable senators will be at liberty to debate that as well as any other question.
– So long as we have a clear understanding that no attempt will be made to smuggle the thing through until we have a fair opportunity to deal with the question, I am satisfied. I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs to explain the item, “ Towards cost of Commonwealth elections, £1,000.” Is this vote in addition to money which has been previously voted, or in anticipation of a Commonwealth election for any electorate or State during the next two months?
– The Minister might also give some explanation of the vote “ Expenses in connexion with choosing site of Capital of the Commonwealth, £1,000,” and the item, “ Conveyance of members of Parliament and others, £500.” Are these votes intended to cover money already spent, or is there some scheme on foot for a further conveyance of members and others to find a Federal Capital site?
– The item, “ Conveyance of members of Parliament and others, £500,” is to cover the usual expenditure incidental to the conveyance of members of Parliament and others in connexion with their parliamentary duties. The vote in connexion with choosing the site of the Federal Capital is to cover expenditure that has been incurred, not merely in arranging for visits of members of Parliament, but also in connexion with surveying, and such work.
– Surely the item does not cover the expense of surveying?
– There is a staff of surveyors at the Capital site carrying on necessary work there at the present time. With respect to the vote towards the cost of Commonwealth elections, I understand that it is intended to clear up accounts in connexion with the recent Federal elections.
– The honorable senator might give some explanation of the item, “ Expenses in connexion with administration of Electoral Act, £6,000.”
– That vote is for payment of permanent officers in the Electoral Department, and for printing and other expenses in connexion with the work of the Department. The total expenditure on this account is estimated at £32,000.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales). [5. 50]. -The vote to which I have referred is under the heading “Miscellaneous”; and I presume that the salaries of officers of the Electoral Department are provided for elsewhere. If this vote is for salaries, we must have a very extravagent Electoral Department, be cause it would represent an annual expenditure of £36,000 for salaries.
– I find that I made a mistake. The vote does not provide for the payment of officers’ salaries, but for printing and departmental work in connexion with the recent election.
– But I understood that the vote of £1,000 is proposed for that purpose. The item I allude to now is “ Expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act, £6,000.” On page 5, it will be seen that there is a vote of £800 for salaries of electoral officers, with a contingencies vote of £250. When, in addition to that, one sees a vote of £6,000 in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act, one is naturally anxious to know in what way the money is to be spent, especially in view of the fact that the Government, in this Bill, are asking for only two months’ Supply.
– I am assured that the vote is required to cover the usual expenditure in connexion with the administration of this branch of the Public Service. It is to cover the expense incurred in printing and other work of the Department in different parts of the Commonwealth.
– I think that the honorable senator will find that there is some other explanation of the vote.
– That is the explanation given me, and I have no further information to give honorable senators at the present time. If I receive further information later, I shall be only too glad to give it.
– The honorable senator might be able to give us further information with respect to the vote after the adjournment for dinner.
– Is not the introduction of the card system one of the reasons for the proposed vote?
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has informed us that the papers covering the questions to be asked at the census will be before us for debate to-morrow night. I wish to ask the honorable senator whether, during that debate, it will be competent for the Senate to strike out some of the questions which at present appear on the awfully ridiculous census papers which are proposed ? The question may be submitted for discussion in such a way that we would be unable to take action to strike out some of the questions which appear upon a paper which is so ridiculous that it would disgrace the Commonwealth if it were made public.
– The honorable senator is going back to the same thing again. The papers to which he refers were laid on the table a week ago. If any honorable senator wished to take action in connexion with them, it was his duty to give notice that he intended to do so. No honorable senator has done so. It was the intention of the Government, after about 9 o’clock tomorrow evening, to move to report progress on the matter then under discussion, when an opportunity would be afforded on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to any member of the Senate to discuss this question in any way he pleased. No honorable senator has given notice of any amendment of the proposed questions in connexion with the taking of the census.
– - Surely ‘the Government do not expect us to pass a vote of £6,000 in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Department without discussion or information.
– The honorable senator was told that he would get the information after dinner.
– That is a very slipshod way of doing business. I want some information upon the proposed vote, in view of the fact that in another part of the schedule votes amounting to over £1,000 are set down to cover salaries and contingencies in connexion with the Electoral Department. The officer of the Department, who is in attendance, should be able to supply the information asked for. I have no objection to pay officers reasonable salaries, but I think they should work for them. I never previously knew of a vote being submitted which the departmental officers behind Ministers were not able to explain.
– Are navigation officers supposed to understand the Electoral Act?
– If an officer belonging to the Electoral Department is not in attendance to explain votes connected with that Department the fault is not mine. Ministers should be able to give the Committee a better explanation than has so far been offered in support of this vote of £6,000.
– Honorable senators will have to vote £32,000 for the whole year.
– That may be so; but I hope we shall resist the voting of any money until we know what it is for. I do not blame the present Government especially in this matter, because they are only following a practice which has been followed before by their predecessors of submitting votes without giving any information with respect to them. When they were in Opposition, the’ members of the present Government wanted information about every item in the Estimates ; but now that they are on the Treasury bench they are as bad as their predecessors were, and have no information to give the Committee. I know that if honorable senators opposite were not supporting the Government they would want to know what this money is for ; but because they are they are dumb. We are told that we shall get the information for which we ask after the dinner adjournment, but we are expected to pass the vote before we adjourn for dinner. I want to know what this vote is for. The Government should be able to give the Committee the information, and honorable senators should not permit the vote to go until they get it.
– Some honorable senators seem to think that the proposed vote of £6,000 “for expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act covers some extraordinary and new expenditure. One would imagine that they believe there is something behind the item which the Government are unwilling to explain. They speak as if we had some scheme prepared, and all that we needed to carry it out was to have this vote accepted. I gave honorable senators all the information I could possibly get, and I promised that I would get any further information available with respect to this item. After making the most diligent inquiries since, I find that the information I have already given is all that can be given in connexion with the item. Last year a sum of £32,537 was expended in the administration of the Electoral Department.
– But the general elections were held last year.
– The amount does not include the cost of the general elections.
For the current financial year the amount proposed to be voted is £32,770, or nearly £1,000 less than that voted last year. From this £32,770 the sum of £6,000 which appears in the Bill under consideration has to be deducted. That £6,000 is intended to cover the usual expenditure incurred in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Department.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.2].- I have referred to the Budget Papers, and I find that last year the expenditure in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act was £33,557. But there was also an expenditure of £41,779, under the heading “ Commonwealth Elections.” We are not in a position to discriminate between the way in which the money was expended upon these two items ; but it seems to me that the £41,779 was an extraordinary expenditure.
– Yes; and the other was the annual expenditure.
– Then I take it that an expenditure of £30,000 or £36,000 must recur each year, irrespective of whether or not a general election takes place. It would have been well if the Minister had given the Committee a fuller explanation of this matter in the first instance. It may be that this expenditure is incurred in collecting the names for the electoral rolls each year, in printing them, and in defraying the cost of holding Revision Courts.
– The new card system is bound to cost something.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that to-morrow night we may be afforded an opportunity of discussing the questions to be placed upon the census papers-.
– We are certainly not going to have a double discussion of the matter.
– The Opposition are certainly not going to swallow any questions which the Minister of Home Affairs may choose to place upon the census papers without being afforded an opportunity of debating them. So far as I am aware, no regulation has been gazetted authorizing certain questions to be placed upon the census papers. If that be so, it will not be legal to place those questions there. The Acts Interpretation Act 1904 provides -
Where an Act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
be notified in the Gazette;
take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in. the regulations ;
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty daysafter the next meeting of the Parliament.
But if either House of the Parliament passesa resolution, of which notice has been given, at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such Housedisallowing any regulation, such regulationshall thereupon cease to have effect.
Has any such regulation been gazetted, and, if so, has a copy of it been laid upon the table of the Senate ? If it has not been gazetted, do the Government contemplatelaying such a regulation upon the table, and thus affording us an opportunity of discussing it?
– I have been looking up the figuresrelating to the expenses of electoral administration during previous years, and I find that in July, 1907, under the heading of “ Miscellaneous “ there is an item “ Expenses in connexion with the administration of the Electoral Act. , £1,000.” That item appears in a Supply Bill which granted Supply for only one month. Consequently, in a Supply Bill which is intended to cover two months, the expenditure in this connexion ought to be £2,000.
– Does not the honorable senator take into consideration the total expenditure for the year?
– In 1907 the amount provided for the expenses of electoral administration in another Supply Bilk which covered one month was £1,500. That is equivalent to , £3,000 in a Bill which is intended to cover two months. In; still another Supply Bill the expenditure under this headingwas £1,000. Yet we are now asked to vote £6,000 to cover an expenditure for two months. If the additional expenditure is required to defray the cost of introducing the card system of indexing, I have no complaint to make. But we are not unreasonable when we ask why we are invited to vote £3,000 a month tocover the expense of administering this Department for a period of one month, when on previous occasions we have been asked to vote only £1,000 or, at most, £1,500.
– Senator Chataway has been at some pains to show that, in connexion with previous Supply Bills, smaller amounts have been voted.
– Monthly Supply Bills.
– In the Supply Bill which we recently passed items 5 and 6 are identical with items 5 and 6 of the present Bill. Those items read “ Expenses in connexion with administration of the Electoral Act, ,£6, 000,” and “ Cost of Commonwealth elections, £1,000.” The last Bill passed through this Chamber without any honorable senator questioning the amounts or desiring any information in respect of them. But something seems to have happened to-day, and they appear to imagine that fresh expenditure is being incurred.
– The Opposition must watch the Government.
– Upon a former occasion, the members of the Opposition did not take the same serious view of this question that they appear to take now.
– We may have “ missed the ‘bus “ previously, but that is no reason why we should not have an explanation now.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 30 to 35 (The Treasury), £19,240.
– I should like to know if there is any way in which we can avoid duplication in the printing of documents for the two branches of the Legislature? I mentioned this matter some time during the last Parliament. I was then, under the impression that the evil could be remedied if the Printing Committee chose to take the necessary steps. But since I have been appointed a member of that body I have discovered that, under our present Standing Orders, it is powerless to remedy it. Honorable senators are familiar with the form in which the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives and the Journals of the Senate appear. Usually the report of the Printing Committee occupies about one and a-half folios of printed matter. Precisely the same document is presented to both branches of the Legislature. Its contents are in tabulated form, and, consequently, are somewhat expensive to put into type. Yet the document is set up separately for each House. It ought to be a perfectly simple matter to use the same material in printing the records of each House.
– Is the honorable senator sure that they do not do that?
– They do not. On one occasion I compared the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives with the Journals of the Senate, and found that a table printed in each was not spaced in the same way. That will show Senator Vardon, who is a practical printer, that the same type was not used in each case, although there was not a solitary word of difference between the two. I do not expect the Government to show forthwith how to avoid this duplication. I have been thinking over the matter, and made an endeavour to bring it before the Printing Committee ; but I found that that could not be done under the Standing Orders, because the Committee was not empowered to deal with the printing of either House of Legislature, but only with the printing of documents presented to Parliament. The matter should be taken in hand in the interests of economy. Every member of Parliament feels it to be his bounden duty to keep the expenses down as much as possible. There is no need to pay for printing twice over if we can avoid it. I suggest that the Government should endeavour to see whether something cannot be done to obviate overlapping. I admit I do not know how it can be prevented. It might involve a complete reorganization . of our parliamentary methods in respect to printing. But I should be glad if something could be done. I believe that our printing bill could be reduced by something like 10 per cent.
– The Government and the Senate ought to be much obliged to Senator Chataway for bringing this . matter before us. We are certainly desirous of securing economy where that can be done without interfering with efficiency. As the honorable senator has suggested, however, it would be impossible for me to point out how a remedy might be effected. His remarks will be brought before the ActingTreasurer, and submitted to the Government Printer. An explanation will be called for. When we get to the Federal Capital, and have our own printing office under our own management, I trust that such duplication will be remedied ; and I would. ask honorable senators to: expedite business in. order that we may secure that object as soon as possible.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 41 to 51 (The Department of Trade and Customs), £57,981.
– Lately there has: been handed to us a report of the trawler Endeavour, which is engaged in fisheries investigation. A number of these isolated reports have been furnished to us. They show the work that has been done within specified intervals. I desire to ask whether the Government cannot arrange to have these reports, which are being furnished piecemeal, properly edited and brought together, so that we may have a record of the investigations made by the Endeavour in Australian waters, showing clearly the work that has been done and the amount of success that has been achieved ? These interim reports merely show what has been done during twelve or fourteen days in Queensland or New South Wales. Mr. Dannevig, who is in charge of the Endeavour, ought to furnish us. with a general report in such a form that the public might learn something about the trawling possibilities on the Australian coast. Will the Minister make a note of the point and see whether . a report cannot be furnished of the proceedings of the vessel up to the 30th July ? If the Government wish to have an illustration of how that sort of thing can be done, I refer them to the very fine reports made by the late Mr. W. Saville-Kent in connexion with the Queensland fisheries. Those reports not only show that on a particular date the vessel engaged in the service got the net on to a rock bottom, but gave illustrations of the voyages and furnished interesting particulars. The books that Mr. Saville-Kent wrote were very valuable, and were of great benefit to the fisheries of Queensland. The Government having taken this work in hand, it would be a good thing to have a report furnished to Parliament showing the progress that has been made up to date on the Endeavour.
– The work to which Senator Chataway has referred has been in progress for some time past, and has reached such a stage that it will soon be possible to systematize the results and to furnish a complete report. I have before me, ready to be laid upon the table of the Senate, a report of the work of the Endeavour in Southern Queensland and in
New South Wales. A note by Mr. Lockyer is appended to the document in which he says. -
I forward’ herewith, by direction of the Minister, to be laid on the table of the Senate, copy of a report of the 27th cruise of the fishing investigation ship Endeavour in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales waters. It is desired that this and subsequent preliminary reports of the work of the Endeavour shall not be printed in the present form., as it is intended to submit for publication later on a full report dealing with the number of cruises conjointly.
It is intended that the report to be prepared shall deal with the whole of the investigations made by the Endeavour during a series of twenty-nine cruises. Two more of those cruises have to be made,, and two more progress reports will be received, before the general report is prepared. That is the proper way in which such reports should be dealt with. Obviously, the material and the results gathered as a consequence of each of these cruises are not of much value in themselves. It is only when the Endeavour has extended her operations over a considerable area, and when Mr. Dannevig,. and the Customs officers appointed to cooperate with him, are able to prepare reports, and bring them into some sequence, that the information collected will be of great value. At the present time, Mr. Dannevig is co-operating with scientific experts at the universities in regard to the kinds of fish obtained. Information is being tabulated as to points at which the fish have been caught, with the view of locating them for the benefit of fishermen; and also to indicate where they are to be found at different seasons. When the results of the twenty-nine cruises are put together, it will be found that valuable information has been obtained for the use of capitalists and others who may desire to put money into a trawling enterprise. It will be scientific information of a reliable character as to where certain fish are to be found, the seasons of the year when they are in the waters indicated, and the kind of bottom upon which the trawler will have to operate. The Customs officer now on duty here is co-operating with Mr. Dannevig in this work; and, as I have said, the scientific authorities at the various universities are being consulted in order that the information obtained may be presented in the most useful form.
– How much longer will the work take?
– The work of tabulation is going on ; but two more cruises have to be completed, at the end of which work the report will soon be ready for the printer.
– It is a pity that the Government did not disclose the intention of tabulating information, and furnishing a general report at an earlier stage. I have been carefully through the interim reports which have been printed. I think it would have been better if they had not been printed. We might have dealt with them as we deal with the Papuan reports.
Senator Pearce. The reports were printed at the request of Senator Sayers.
– All that I know is that the Printing Committee has considered the interim reports time after time, and that the printing of them has been a waste of money.
– The information has been of public interest.
– I am not sure of that. I doubt whether any one except myself has looked at the Queensland report ; nor do I know that any of the public have been interested in it. I hope that the Minister will represent to those who are responsible that what we require is not a general summary of matter which has already appeared in print, but some definite information respecting our fisheries, with proper plates illustrating the fish and other marine life that have been obtained by the Endeavour.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [6.29].- I think it desirable that periodical reports should be. presented, because the public ought to know what the Endeavour is doing. The only way of letting the public know is by the issue of periodical reports. The proposal as to co-ordinating the reports and giving us a full account of what has been done during twenty-nine cruises is a valuable one. The report, when published, will be much appreciated by the public generally, and will be of the greatest possible value.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have had several conversations with fishermen with regard to the value of the trawler’s work so far as the. fishing industry is concerned, and the universal verdict was that it had been of no assistance to them in their business. I do not pretend to know whether that is so or not, but if it is the case the trawler is evidently failing to do what was intended. Most of us are aware that there is a large quantity of fish in Australian waters, and that the fishing industry is in a very imperfect state of development. The idea in sending out the trawler was to obtain for fishermen such information as would enable them to prosecute the industry with profit to themselves and to the general community.
– Perhaps, if they could prosecute the middlemen it might be better sometimes.
– If we can find out where the fish are, and catch them, the next step will be to attack the middleman.. The opinion of the fishermen was that the work of the trawler seemed to be spasmodic, without method, that it hurried up and down the coast, and did not make a thorough examination of any particular portion, and, further, that the information made public through the press did not help them in any way. Another complaint they made was that local fishermen were never consulted as to the local names for fishes, and so forth. It is not a matter in which I am very well posted, but it appears that in various districts fish bear different names, and that these names are known only to the local fishermen. The members of one fishing association insisted that it was essential, in the interests of fishermen, that when the trawler did go up the coast of Queensland a local man should be taken on while it was working in each district, so as to give the captain information on the one hand, and supply the fishermen with the result of the work on the other hand. It appears to me that the trawler is galloping - if that word can be used in regard to a ship - up and down the coast of Australia at too great a rate to be able to do anything effective. If this system is continued, the net result of it will be that we shall be spending a great deal of money with very little advantage. I bring the matter under the attention of the Minister, and if he is able to effect any improvement, I am sure the various bodies of fishermen along the coast will be very thankful, and the public will be benefited by the expenditure.
– During the discussion on this item some reference has been made to the reports which have been supplied to the Senate. On a previous occasion it was thoroughly understood that progress reports were to be made for the purpose of acquainting the Parliament and the country with what the trawler has been doing. But it was also understood that we were to be supplied with an annual report covering the whole ground. In my opinion, a great deal of value attaches to the progress reports. Otherwise the trawler might dis>:over some grounds which were very profitable, and the general public would get no information on the subject until the annual report was published, and the value of the work of the trawler would be to a considerable extent lost. Senator Stewart has referred to the view which -fishermen generally take of its work. I admit that there is a deal of truth in what he said, but it must be remembered that men who have been fishing in a small way have been, and still are, somewhat prejudiced against the inroad of the trawler. We have not to regard their prejudices at all, but to consider whether it is scientifically carrying out the work it was intended to do. My opinion is that no one ship can suffice for a coastline of- 8,500 miles. Hitherto the arrangement has been to allow each State to get some benefit from the Endeavour. She was sent to Tasmania, thence to Port Philip Bay, thence to South Australia, thence to New South Wales, and next to Queensland, without being allowed sufficient, time in which to make an exhaustive report at every place. The time must come when it will be necessary to employ two or three trawlers, if we wish to carry out the work with anything like satisfaction, and we want reports to be supplied from time to time.
– They ought to be illustrated too.
– The fish can be described in the reports without being illustrated.
– They could bring a few of the fish here too.
– No doubt some samples would be interesting; but that is not the object. It is not a question of the kind of fish which are obtained, but whether the waters round our coast are such as to breed the fish and keep them in their shoals. So far the trawler has done good work; but it has not been kept for a sufficient time at any point to give an exhaustive report.
.- Senator Stewart has stated that certain fishermen have condemned the trawler, and said that it is of no use in assisting them to carry on their avocation. That is quite possible ; but I remind the honorable senator that trawling is a branch of fishing which has not hitherto been carried on in Australia.
– We had a couple of trawlers in South Australia.
– Not to any extent.
– One was wrecked, and the other was laid up.
– One can. well understand that those who go in for fishing in a small way have derived no particular benefit from the progress reports of the Endeavour, because the class of fishing it is seeking to establish is deep-sea fishing. In order to assure Senator Stewart that some practical good has resulted from the circulation of the reports in Australia and the Old Country I may mention that two Melbourne men have started a company to work in Queensland waters, and so satisfied the State Government as to their bond fides that it has made them a concession of land below Moreton Bay for their factory. Furthermore, one of the big firms engaged in trawling in Great Britain have made investigations into the progress reports of the Endeavour, and are so satisfied with them that they are sending out their manager to make inquiries on the spot, with a view to commencing operations here. That has been the result before a concrete report of the whole work has been drawn up. We have every reason to be satisfied that something tangible has been accomplished. Senator Guthrie said that the work has been somewhat spasmodic, in that the Endeavour has been moved about. That is quite true; but it was done for a good reason. When the vessel was first equipped and sent out in the winter, she was sent into the waters round Victoria and Tasmania. Every Australian who has travelled knows that -in the winter those waters are very rough, whereas Queensland waters are very smooth. When the worst of the winter arrived, and before she had completed her work in the rough waters, the Endeavour was sent up to Queensland to work in smooth water; but in the summer she will be brought down to complete her work in the southern waters. That is why the change was made.
– They could not trawl in the Queensland waters, owing to the coral bottom, could they?
– I do not know. Of course, they are investigating the sea bottom, which will be charted. In addition to marking out the parts which can be trawled, they are also marking out the places where certain fish are known to be, and whether they are there in quantity or not. Apart from the fisheries investigation, the trawler is doing a very useful work in ascertaining the depths and the currents. The results of these investigations are being tabulated for future use. Senator Stewart will see that, because a few fishermen have criticised the trawler as being of no use to them, he should not, on that scanty information, condemn the work which she has been doing.
– It cannot be said that I am’ opposing the vote for the trawler now for the first time, because I have opposed it every year I have been here. I have listened to the explanation of the Minister of Defence, but the honorable senator did not tell the Committee that the Victorian Government spent a good many thousands of pounds on a trawler, and had to admit that their experiment was a failure. I have read the reports presented by those in charge of the Endeavour. Dealing with the visit made to Tasmanian waters, we were told that flathead could be caught in Oyster Bay, and that three rock cod had been caught on one line, a thing that any lad could do. The information generally supplied as the result of the trawler’s visits to Tasmanian waters has been known for years to the men engaged in practical fishing in those waters. I may inform the Minister of Defence that they are not men who confine their fishing operations to harbors. They go out to sea for a great deal of their fish, and they tell me that the trawler is a “frost.” It may be a very nice toy for some individuals, but that is all that it is.
– -What information have they as to the capacity of the trawler?
– The men to whom I refer have had a lifelong experience of fishing on the Tasmanian coast. They have seen the Endeavour at work, and they saw the Victorian Government’s trawler at work. They were in the habit at one time of going out with sailing hookers to fish. They would be away from port for a month at a time, and they caught fish on the Tasmanian coast, and brought it to Melbourne for sale. Their knowledge of the fishing on the Tasmanian coast is much greater than that- of Senator Long, or my own.
– Their knowledge may be undoubted, whilst their opportunities of judging the work of the trawler may be limited.
– The fact is that a trawler is of very little use on the greater part of the coast of Australia, because the bottom is composed of coral or rock. This destroys the nets, and a trawler would have to be continually going into port to repair her nets. The fishermen of Tasmania were aware of all the information supplied in the reports from the trawler long before she went to Tasmanian waters. The New South Wales Government, as well as the Victorian Government, have tried trawling, and after the expenditure of many thousands of pounds have been unable to make a success of it. Now we are told by the Minister of Defence that, although the operations of the Endeavour may not have been of much value to the fishing industry of Australia, she is useful as a survey boat. With all respect for those who man the Endeavour, I think they are not competent for the survey of the waters of our coast. Men who have been engaged in the North Sea fishing trade are not necessarily qualified for marine surveying. I maintain that the money spent on the Endeavour is wasted. We are invited to believe that the fishermen of Australia are prejudiced in the views they express as to the work of the trawler. Some of these men are from fifty to sixty years of age, and have spent almost the whole of their lives in the fishing industry. I admit that they. have done no trawling, but that is because of their knowledge of the condition of the bottom in the waters in which they usually fish. They know that trawling would be quite impracticable where the fish are found in anything like payable quantities. It is of no use to look for fish on a sandy bottom, where there is no food for them. Schnapper, for instance, are. never caught away from a rocky bottom.
– Schnapper are caught in great numbers in seaweed.
– I have done as much schnapper fishing as most people, and I have never known them to be caught away from a reef. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament I used to go schnapper fishing in a Government steamer. We had a Government official on board, and I remember that we tried the whole of the coast of New South Wales from the Tweed Heads almost down to Newcastle. We tried the coast to the north also, but we never found any schnapper in Queensland waters away from a reef. A trawler would be of no earthly use for fishing over such ground. It is possible that with a trawler big shoals of barracouta might be caught, but no one would eat that fish. At any rate, most people in Tasmania will not eat it because the fish are full of worms. We have been told by the Minister of Defence that some one is thinking about establishing a canning industry at Moreton Bay. I can tell the honorable senator that people have been canning fish there for many years. The fish principally canned is the mullet, which goes up the Brisbane River at certain times of the year in myriads. Canned mullet is very good if the fish is properly canned. Senator Chataway, in company with myself, was informed two years ago by the people engaged in the industry in Moreton Bay that they could not afford to can fish at the price at which they had to sell the article to the public. I should like to ask what return we have had for the money spent in the construction and upkeep of the trawler? On the basis of the vote asked for in this Bill it takes £6,000 a year to keep the vessel going. What is there to show for that expenditure? Some scientific gentlemen may believe that we have something to show for it, but in the opinion of the general public there has been nothing to show for it so far. Are we to continue this expenditure because the officers of the Department are unwilling to admit that they made a mistake in the first place in recommending the construction and use of a trawler? They will never make such an admission until Parliament tires of voting money from which we get no return. I want to see the trawler go out and catch fish in marketable quantities.
– That is not her work.
– I say that it is. We might offer the use of the trawler to those who have charge of her now for six months without any charge to defray interest on what she cost to build, and let them show by practical work that they are able to make a success of trawling. Let them show that they can make their salaries and wages at the business.
– They could Jo that catching prawns in Queensland waters.
– It is all very well to make silly interjections, but when we are being asked to vote public money the Vice-President of the Executive Council should treat the matter more seriously. If those in charge of the trawler can de monstrate that trawling in Australian waters1 may be carried out successfully on the terms I have suggested, I shall, be prepared to withdraw my objection to the vote.
– If we applied that principle to every experiment none would be successful.
– The Minister overlooks the fact that .this is not the first experiment of this kind that has been tried in Australia. Two of our State Governments spent thousands of pounds on similar experiments, and have had to admit that they were failures. I suppose’ the Commonwealth Government expect to succeed without taking any notice of the experience of the State Governments in this matter.
– We have profited by their failure in the kind of boat we have built for the purpose.
– The Government will be unable to convince the public that they have profited by the experience of the State Governments in trawling. The reports from our trawler are just like the reports which were received from the State trawlers. There is always something going to happen “ in the sweet by-and-by.”
– How many “duffer” shafts have been sunk at Charters Towers ?
– A great number, and there have been a great number of prospectuses published in connexion with mines in Western Australia, as well as in Queensland, which contained just as much buncombe as is contained in the reports we have had from the trawler. Will any honorable senator tell me that any company would he formed in England to catch’ fish in Australian waters on the strength of the reports that have been presented by those in charge of the Endeavour? Let the manager of the trawler demonstrate that trawling can be carried on in Australian waters as a commercial success, and then people will be prepared to put money into the business. They have proved nothing so far that was not already well known. I do not blame those who are employed on the trawler if they can find a Parliament so simple as to vote sums of money every year to enable them to cruise around the coast in fine weather, because “the trawler cannot go out in wet and bad weather. We have been told that the trawler has performed valuable survey work.
– So she has.
– Here- is another exMinister who exclaims “ So she has.” In this Parliament we are. cursed with exMinisters, and it is time that we had a hanging match amongst, them. Because the honorable senator happened to be a member of the Government which decided to build the trawler, he thinks that he is bound to defend the work of that vessel.
– Off Flinders Arm and Twofold Bay the vessel has located a trawling ground possessing a good bottom on which she may be filled with fish in two hours.
– With what sort of fish?
– Good, marketable fish.
– Then why do not the Government get the vessel filled with fish ?
– The trawler is not intended to compete with private individuals.
– My candid opinion is that the crew of the vessel could not fill it with fish in the way that the Minister has affirmed.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government ought lo embark upon the fishing industry?
– Why not? They have already decided to go in for horsebreeding and for the manufacture of cloth. If, by entering upon the fishing industry, they can benefit the country, I see no reason why they should not do so. From the information which is in my possession, I believe that the trawler has proved a failure. That impression is confirmed by the statements of men with life-long experience of fishing. I would ask honorable senators why the Victorian and New South Wales Governments abandoned trawling operations ?
– Because they could not find fish.
– Then does any honorable senator think that the Commonwealth is likely to prove more successful?
– But the Commonwealth has sent the trawler to exploit Tasmanian waters.
– I dare say that the vessel might obtain good hauls of sharks and dogfish there. Certainly three parts of the fish caught in Tasmanian waters would be unmarketable. The money spent upon the trawler represents so much waste. I recognise that the Government have a majority behind them, and that the item will be passed, but, nevertheless, I feel it to be my duty to protest against it
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there are no edible fish obtainable in Tasmanian ‘ waters ?
– I do not.” I know that trumpeter and black perch are to be found there.
– And rock cod.
– We do not get rock cod with a trawler.
– Where are rock cod caught ?
– In the kelp. So long as this vote: continues to appear upon the Estimates -I shall protest against it.
– I wish to direct the attention of Senator Sayers to the fact that when the trawler commenced operations the object of the Government was to thoroughly prospect Australian waters. That the Endeavour has not been able to accomplish this is easily understandable. I am satisfied that the work which that vessel has clone has been well done, and that it has proved fairly successful. Apart from the increased knowledge of our coast which we have obtained from the trawler’s reports, we know that some good fish have been taken. The one objection urged by Senator Sayers is that in Tasmanian waters the search of the vessel has been unsuccessful. But any sensible man knows that barracoutta, of which he spoke, ought to be tanned. They were never intended for human food. They were designed to be converted into leather with which to sole our boots. They taste just like a piece of dried wood. But there are unexplored Australian waters which the Endeavour ought to exploit. When she does so, trawling grounds will be found which are equal to any in the world. Senator Sayers may have caught schnapper upon a rocky bottom. But, because of that circumstance, he must not jump to the conclusion that all the schnapper in the sea are to be caught there.
– I do not think that the honorable senator knows very much about the matter.
– I may tell the honorable senator that I have caught schnapper in places where there were no rocks within miles. “Another honorable senator and myself visited a coast along which there is not a particle of rock for miles,’ and yet the waters of that locality are alive with fish.
– In the honorable senator’s imagination.
– If the honorable senator would take the trip, he might lose that “ one-eyedness “ that characterizes so many of his arguments in this chamber.
– Senator Sayers knows that rock cod can be caught in parts where there is no rock to be seen for miles.
– Quite so; but his arguments generally were very “ fishy.” He has been speaking to somebody who, as the Minister of Defence and others have pointed out, was imbued with the notions of the old style fishermen of Australia.
– Of course, these practical men do not know !
– I do not say that they do not know. They may have forgotten more than the honorable senator ever learned. But, notwithstanding all their practical knowledge, many of them still continue to work in accordance with their old time notions of fishing. Give them a line and a net, and they are quite at home. But how many of them ever saw a trawler until they saw the Endeavour?
– Has the honorable senator ever seen another trawler?
– I suppose that I have seen more trawlers than the honorable senator ever heard of. I have seen hundreds of them. But, apart from that, the honorable senators informants seem to be just like himself. They have got into a conservative groove, and feel that they really cannot appreciate modern methods and modern thought. They say “ Give us a rake,” because it is a rake, and they have always been used to a rake. The Australian fisherman has not had an opportunity of acquiring a knowledge of trawling. He knows very little about it. The Australian people generally do not know much as to what fish their waters contain. Until the whole coast has been fully prospected, I shall certainly support every Government in the pursuit of this work.
– Senator Henderson has not brought forward one argument in reply to mine. I showed that Victoria and New South Wales had conducted experiments with trawlers, and proved the idea to be a failure. The men who gave mie information on this subject are equal in respect of knowledge, if not superior, to the honorable senator. I do not care twopence about the honorable senator’s remarks concerning me, because when people read them, they will attribute them to his ignorance. Instead of attempting to reply to my arguments, he has simply resorted to abuse, because I maintained that previous experiments with trawlers had been a failure. I have a perfect right to maintain that contention, and if the honorable senator disagrees with it, he should bring forward arguments, instead of making abusive remarks about my conservatism: I venture to say that I am a better Liberal than he has ever been, and have proved it all my life. I am not going to be “choked off” my opposition to this project by abuse. The honorable senator has talked about my being “ oneeyed.” There is an old saying that “in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” and there are quite a number of politically blind people on the Ministerial side. The honorable senator has told us about the emerald isles in the north-west of Australia, where there are beautiful fish to be caught. I have given him the results of experience of schnapper fishing in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. It is a remarkable thing that there are no schnapper between New Zealand and Australia. I suppose he would say that there is schnapper in Tasmanian waters. But he does not know. The honorable member can make a speech, but I do not believe that he really knows one fish from’ another. Yet he has posed as an authority, whilst any person who differs from him is met with abuse instead of argument. There has been no proof in any of the reports that there is any prospect of making a financial success of this enterprise. Are the Government spending this money on a mere plaything? To make a financial success of -anything of the kind it has to be proved that there are sufficient marketable fish to be obtained by trawling. I maintain that we have not, except in rare places, a bottom where we can successfully use a trawler. We have no places like the Dogger bank or the Newfoundland bank where fish can always be obtained in this manner. These facts have been demonstrated by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments time after time. Yet we are told that we are not to learn from previous experience. We are voting money that we might just as well throw into the sea.
– Senator Sayers has complained that I have not replied to his argu- ments. I was not aware that he had used an argument at all. I did hear him say something about Victoria and New South Wales, but there is no proof that either of those States explored their waters thoroughly. In any case, they could only prospect waters that were under their own jurisdiction. The Victorian Government experimented purely for Victorian purposes.
– They did not use a properly-equipped trawler either.
– They had not a properly-equipped trawler to employ upon the work. New South Wales followed precisely the same course. Neither State had the ghost of an idea of exploring round the coasts of Australia to find out whether there were good fishing grounds or not. It is quite possible that within 10 miles of the Victorian coast there may be no fishing grounds suitable for trawling. The same may be said as to the New South Wales coast. But, after all, these are but a small portion of our 8,000 miles of coast line. Because the State Governments found nothing satisfactory, that is by no means a reason why we should desist from our efforts to ascertain whether there are good trawling grounds or not.
– This discussion has gone further than I thought it would do when I first raised the point with regard to the trawler. I have risen again to impress upon the Government the necessity of making the annual reports in connexion with the work of the trawler valuable for the information which they contain. I have before me the late Mr. Saville-Kent’s Naturalist in Australia, which is an exceedingly fine work. 1 direct the Minister’s attention to the illustrations which it contains. Mr. SavilleKent was one of the best authorities on the subject. This book shows how thorough his knowledge was. The illustrations to it are most interesting. I hope that the Minister will make it his business to see that the reports will not be mere summaries of everyday occurrences like the lowering of the trawling nets, such as we are now getting from Mr. Dannevig. I suppose that Mr. Dannevig is a person of considerable experience, who knows what he is doing, and that he will be able to furnish us with proper scientific descriptions of the fish and other forms of marine life obtained by the trawler’s nets. But reports should not only be interesting and full of useful information j they should contain such illustrations as Mr. Saville-Kent used to fur nish with his valuable works. They should give definite information and not a casual report or a log of what was done from day to day.
.- I hope that Senator Chataway’s suggestion will be adopted by the Government, and that there shall be furnished to Parliament and the public monthly, or at other intervals, a complete and adequate report of what has taken place. It is all very well for Senator Sayers to talk about utilizing grounds which are found to be suitable for working. The vessel, when an appropriation was asked for, was designated an exploration vessel. She was to go out and do exploratory work, in order to indicate and open up to private enterprise particular grounds which they might very easily utilize. I trust that Senator Chataway’s remarks will not go unheeded. When the construction of the vessel was in question, Senator Sayers raised some strong objections to the establishment of any such department of government. Amongst other things, he stated that in Launceston it was impossible to obtain a flounder under a cost of is. 6d: I remember inviting him to accompany me and find that he could do something different from that. He did not accept the invitation, but I proved to his satisfaction afterwards that his statement was absolutely incorrect. I think that most of the statements which he made tonight are equally incorrect.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 52 to 210 (Department of Defence), £144,378.
– There is an item concerning which I should like to get an explanation. One can hardly rise to ask the question without being suspected, and honestly suspected, of making a joke, but it is the item itself which is responsible for even the appearance of a joke. Under the head of New South Wales Military Forces, on page 16, I notice this item, “ No. 1. Travelling and mileage allowance, Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps,” without a sum being attached thereto. On page 19, under the head of Victorian Military Forces, I find a similar item, with the sum of .£30 appearing in the opposite column. On page 21 there is a similar item under the head of Queensland Military Forces, but no amount is stated. On page 24, I notice a similar item under the head of South Australian Military Forces, with the sum of £20 appearing in the opposite column. On page 26, under the head of Western Australian Military Forces, a similarly worded item appears, with the sum of £20 opposite thereto, and on page 28, under the head of Tasmanian Military Forces, we are asked to vote £20 for a like purpose. An automobile corps has often been spoken about in connexion with military manoeuvres and camps. It may be contemplated to use the corps for war purposes, but in each case the item seems to be ridiculous. Either it is too little or too much that’ we are asked to vote. If it is not for the mere convenience of the officers, we are entitled to know why we are called upon to pass these items. If the automobiles are used for some particular purpose - for example, for volunteer camps - what practical results can follow from the Automobile Corps if we are io vote only £20 or £30 for each State ?
– It might be well to ascertain how many men are in the corps.
– Yes. I have been at some of the camps in Queensland. What is this Australian Volunteer Autonobile Corps? What duties is it intended to perform? What practical work is it doing ? I should like to get an explanation in regard to the matter.
– Senator St. Ledger intimated that has remarks might be taken as a joke, and certainly a doubt arose in my mind as to whether he was not joking. However, I do not propose to treat his observations jocularly. I take it that the question is not asked for the mere purpose of frittering away time.
– Oh, no.
– I shall be able to judge better by what follows. I wish_ to intimate that if these questions are being raised for that purpose, the Government intend that progress shall be made to-night”.
– Certainly ; but we do not wish to be threatened.
– We intend to get on with business. If these questions are asked for some ulterior purpose, we shall know what to do.
– If I wanted to do that sort of business, I should do it in a far different fashion.
– I propose, therefore, to treat the honorable member’s question seriously, and to give an answer to the best of my ability. In each State there is an automobile corps, consisting of persons who place their automobiles at the disposal of the Department, and who are given honorary commissions. These gentlemen,, at much cost to themselves, very often render very considerable service to the Defence Forces, especially when an annual camp of training is held. They do not get militia pay, because they are volunteers, but we give them a mileage payment based on the number of miles which their automobile covered during die course of the camp. The reason why no sum appearsopposite the item relative to the New SouthWales Automobile Corps is that during the two months covered by this Bill no camps will be held in the State, and consequently the automobiles will not be called upon toattend. In the other States a camp of some kind will probably be held, and, consequently, provision has to be made in this Bill. These automobiles are not kept for the amusement or the pleasure of the officers. On the contrary, they render services which we could get in no other way - for instance, when a camp is being held.. Owing to the fact that we have the auto.mobiles at pur services, the umpires whohave to decide on the relative merits of the work done by the commanding officers at a sham fight or anything of that kind, areable to cover enormous distances which they could not do if they had to rely upon horsesor cabs. In that way they are able to render much more effective service. Moreover, in time of war the automobiles will be at our disposal, and will be used by the officers in command of our forces.
– Do they not in manyinstances place the automobiles at the disposal of the Department during the period’ of a camp ?
– Yes. During an> Easter camp in Victoria and also in New South Wales, an automobile was placed at my disposal, and enabled me to see a great deal more than I could have seen in any other way. I, therefore, do not treat theitem in any’ sense in a jocular fashion. These gentlemen render a very valuableservice to the Commonwealth, and get very little compensation. The smallness of theamounts which are set down is explained in the way I have indicated. If Senator St. Ledger will turn to the EstimatesinChief he will find -that in the case of New’ South Wales a vote of £200 is proposed.
– Last year only j£i6 was spent.
– Yes. In many cases, 1 believe, that was due to the fact that no claim for payment was made.
– Can the Minister tell me how many there are in the corps ? Is it a regularly-formed corps, or have persons simply volunteered?
– It is a regularlyconstituted corps. If the honorable senator will give notice of a question for Tuesday he will be supplied with full infor.mation
– I noticed that there was no number opposite to each item.
– There are no rank and ii le in the corps ; each member is given an honorary commission as a lieutenant or -a captain. That is why no number appears opposite the items.
– I desire to refer to a small matter in connexion with which, I think, some action should be taken by the Department. I believe that some time ago in Townsville a non-commissioned officer who was marching his men to a particular place was compelled to halt them for some reason or other. It appears that this was a deadly offence in the eyes of the military authorities. A court-martial was ordered, and officers were summoned from the length and breadth of Australia at great cost, I suppose.
– What was the offence ?
– Halting the men in the course of a march to a particular place
– No; the honorable -senator is not fully informed.
– Probably not. I -should like to get some information. The whole thing seemed to be. so ludicrous.
– Was he a military or ;a naval officer?
– A naval officer, I “believe. The ridiculous aspect of the matter to me was that it should be necessary to put the country to a great deal of expense to hold a court-martial on the man for what was a very trivial offence, if it was an offence at all. A great deal of ridicule was heaped on the Commonwealth authorities at the time for allowing such a thing to take place. Perhaps the “Minister of Defence can tell us exactly what happened. If my information be correct, I trust that some other means of dealing with offences of the kind will be dis covered. The Commonwealth has no money to fling about to give men trips all over Australia, merely in order that they may attend some pettifogging court martial which may be considered necessary by military or naval martinets.
– Obviously I am obliged to guess at the matter to which Senator Stewart refers. The honorable senator is not quite sure whether it is a naval or a military matter, what the offence was, or what the court martial was about. I know that a case of the kind occurred in Queensland ; but I speak from memory of papers which came under my notice a good while ago. An officer was in charge of a party belonging to the naval force at a church parade, or a parade held at the time of the visit of some foreign warship. The parade was held on a Sunday, and as this man was marching his corps down the street, he halted them in front of a public house. He left them standing in the street whilst he went into the public house, presumably to have a drink.
– No, he did not. He took two men in with him as witnesses.
– I suggest to Senators Keating and Stewart that they should ask that the papers be laid on the table of the Library, and should look through them for themselves. I have gone through the papers, but they have heard only an ex parte statement. The papers disclose both sides ot the matter. As to the reason for the holding of a court martial, Senator Stewart knows, or ought to know, that when a charge is made against a military or naval officer, it is in the interests of the officer himself that there should be a trial ; and in military and naval matters the method of trial is by court martial. The officer concerned in this instance was given an opportunity of resigning or attending a trial by court martial. He elected to be tried by court martial.
– What did it cost?
– I can only speak of the matter from memory. This is only one of dozens of cases that come before a Minister, and I much prefer that Senator Stewart should take the trouble to ask tomorrow that the papers should be laid on the table of the Library. I will see that that is done, if the honorable senator makes the request. He can then peruse the papers, and when the Estimates come before us he can raise the question again, when he knows something about it. I may be dealing with an entirely different case.
– No; the honorable senator is dealing with the case to which J referred.
– I do not feel called upon to make any further statement in the absence of definite information as to the case referred to, and speaking from memory of a file of papers which I perused some months ago.
– I have directed attention about half-a-dozen times to a mysterious explosion that took place at the fortifications at Thursday Island. So far as I have been able to gather from the newspapers - and I could get information on the subject from no other source - no satisfactory reason has yet been given for that . explosion. Whether I happen to be on this or the other side of the Chamber, Ministers seemed to be impressed with the idea that they should let no one know the facts of this affair. I should like to know if the present Minister of Defence is in a position to give the Committee any explanation of the matter. There is a vote down for an automobile corps, and I am reminded by this vote to ask whether the Defence Department have given any consideration to the question and are prepared to ask Parliament to vote money for the establishment of an aeroplane corps?
– With regard to the explosion at Thursday Island, no further facts have been ascertained, and no explanation of the explosion has yet been given. With respect to the reference to an aeroplane corps, the honorable senator is, no doubt, aware that the late Government made provision for a competitive test of aeroplane machines, and offered a prize of £5,000, under certain conditions. A number of entries have been received, and local committees have been appointed to test the machines submitted. So far, none have been submitted for a practical test; but we hope shortly that in some of the States machines will be submitted to a practical test. We have instructed military officers we have in England, who are attending manoeuvres there, to pay particular attention to what is being done in connexion with the use of aeroplanes and dirigible balloons, and to send out all the information they become possessed of on the subject. Several of the officers have already acted upon these instructions, but the information so far received is not of a very encouraging character. It appears that the difficulties inherent in the use of such machines have not yet been overcome, and it is not demonstrated that they are of any real military value. We shall have reports on the subject from time to time, and when the Government are satisfied that aeroplanes or dirigibles are of practical use in time of war, they will be prepared to make provision for their use. There is in the Commonwealth at the present time an aeronaut who is willing to give instruction in the art of flying. The persons interested have waited upon me, and have said that they are prepared to submit to the Defence Department a specific offer to instruct certain of our officers in the art. When the offer is made, I shall be prepared to give it favorable consideration.
– Are the local committees referred to by the Minister Departmental Committees ?
– Yes; but in each case they include a civil engineer or a professor of civil engineering from one of the Universities.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 211 to 217 (The PostmasterGeneral’s Department), £517,328.
– I should like to ask one or two questions in connexion with the vote for the Vancouver mail service. It forms, I suppose, a part of the subsidy payable under the existing contract, which will continue in operation until August of next vear. I should like to know if the Government are still in negotiation with the Governments of New Zealand and Canada with regard to a new mail service between Canada, New Zealand, and Australia? I suppose that the negotiations are not yet complete ; but, if they are, perhaps the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral will be able to say whether it is the intention of the Government, in the new contract, to modify materially, or at all, the conditions as to the route to be followed by the vessels engaged in the service.
– There have been so many wrecks on the coast of King Island that if tombstones were erected there to the memory of those who have perished in those wrecks, it would make the place a very fine cemetery. I wish to know if the Government are prepared to undertake the trifling expense of erecting a wireless telegraph station on
King Island? We know that the cost of such a station must be comparatively trifling, because nearly every steam-ship of any importance is now provided with the necessary apparatus for wireless telegraphy. There are about 800 people on King Island, and there are 40,000 or 60,000 acres of land there suitable for settlement. But I speak in this matter, not on behalf of the residents of the island at all. I have recently met men who have lived there for the last twenty years, and they say that what prevents settlement on the island is the fact that there is no means of communication with the mainland or with Tasmania, except by a steamer or sailing vessels. I should like to know whether the Government intend, even though it may be difficult to decide whether Jones’ system or Brown’s system is the best, to establish a wireless telegraphic station on King Island as soon as possible.
– We must have uniformity.
– I like to hear the president of the Seamen’s Union asking for uniformity in this matter, when the lives of seamen are frequently sacrificed or endangered as they were the other day in connexion with the wreck of the Carnarvon
Bay. If the honorable senator were dropped in 10 feet of water, and could not swim, he would not be anxious for uniformity if any system of wireless telegraphy might be made use of to rescue him. A boat containing a number of people may be set adrift off King Island, and the people may be lost through lack of a means of communicating with the mainland. It would not cost more than £30 or £40 to establish a wireless telegraphy station at King Island, and I ask the Government, in the interests of humanity, to see that this kind of communication is established at the island as soon as possible. Senator St. Ledger has referred to the Vancouver mail service, and in this connexion I must admit that what I saw in the newspapers came to me as a staggering surprise. I went over to Sydney to interview the present Postmaster-General on the subject. Later on the honorable gentlemen went to Queensland, where he was interviewed by the Chamber of Commerce and other bodies. I admit that the interviews were of a confidential nature ; but if there was one impression conveyed to us it was that if any proposal were submitted in connexion with the Vancouver service under which Brisbane would be placed at a disadvantage as com pared with her position under the present arrangement, the Commonwealth Government would not entertain it. I hope that that is so. From what I subsequently learned, I understand that the Ministryhave abandoned all idea of making Auckland the first port of call en route to Vancouver and thus allowing New Zealand butter and frozen produce to be sent to Canada at the expense of the worst or last port of call, namely, Brisbane. If, under any new scheme, the Government propose to sacrifice ‘Queensland, or any other part of Australia, in order to give the New Zealand Government a better chance than they now enjoy, I shall strenuously oppose it. No Australian Government will be discharging their duty, if for the sake of saving a few pounds a year, or of doing a good turn to their fellow Britishers in New Zealand, they give the latter a better chance than they give to Australians. There is one other matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the new telephone rates. I am not one of (those who is prone to believe every word which appears in the newspapers. I run a newspaper myself, and therefore I ought to know the value which attaches to newspaper statements. But according to a statement in the Melbourne daily newspapers, there has been a falling-off of 30 per cent, in the number of telephone calls recorded during the past month. I have no objection to that falling-off j indeed, I have contributed to it. I am a small telephone user, and naturally the members of my household during the past month have used the instrument a little less frequently than they used it previously. But I cannot understand the statement in to-day’s newspapers that the Department has decided that the small user who wishes to have a telephone installed in his house must pay for two years’ service in advance.
– Four years.
– The statement is that he is required to enter into an agreement for four years, and to pay two years’ rental in advance. We know perfectly well that to a concern like a bank or a shipping company or the Mutual Store, or the Civil Service Co-operative Store, a payment of £8 for installing an extra telephone is neither here nor there. But to an insignificant person like myself it is a very serious matter. When an individual who leases a house for twelve months with the right of renewal is asked to pay the Department £fi down, and to agree to occupy his house for four years, what does it mean?
– As a pressman, the honorable senator ought to know better than that.
– I am not saying that the statement is true. I have only read it in the newspapers. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council say that it is untrue.
– I accept his assurance, which will be ‘recorded in Hansard. He says that the statement which appears in the newspapers to-day is not true.
– It is worse than not true. It is one of those half truths which are intended to deceive.
– Supposing that truth is represented by 100 per cent., the Vice-President of the Executive Council says, in effect, that the newspaper statement to which I refer represents only about 40 per cent. If that statement is a lie, we ought to know it at once. Do not let us have it repeated day after day for a long time. I hope that it is a lie; but from the silence of Ministers I doubt whether it is not partly the truth - whether it is not a qualified lie. I hope that the Government will give us an assurance that they do not intend to introduce a system which will press most heavily upon the small user of the telephone, and most lightly upon the big user. If I establish a factory for the manufacture of matches, or of pants, it will not matter to me if I have to pay £& in advance for the installation of a telephone. But to the small suburban householder it will be a very serious matter. It seems to me that the Postal Department, in its efforts to make the large user pay in proportion to the benefits which he receives, is making a grave error, inasmuch as it is putting him in a better position than that occupied by the small user. It is the latter who will suffer all the time. It is the small man who runs a boot shop or a fishmonger’s shop who will be compelled to pay through the nose, while the big man will escape.
– The small business man does not use the telephone now to obtain orders. He sends his boy out upon horseback.
– No doubt. During the past month the telephone calls have dropped 30 per cent. Can the Government show that by way of compen sation they have received a reasonable increase in the number of subscribers? The telephones were made for the public, not the public for the telephones. During the past month the members of my own household have used the telephone as little as possible in. order that I may have to pay as little as possible. But it takes us just as long to get a call answered now as it did previously. I have attached to the wall alongside the instrument a pencil and paper, so that every person who uses the telephone and gets an effective call may make a record of the fact. We thus know exactly how many effective calls we have had during the month.
– The Department has an automatic meter.
– Where ?
– At the Windsor Exchange.
– Has the Department an automatic meter in Melbourne or Sydney?
– It will have in due course.
– But what is happening meanwhile? Some time ago I wrote to the Department and suggested that a certain system should be adopted by means of which it might be easy tor the Department and subscribers to check the number of calls. But the Department replied that it did not see why subscribers should be provided with facilities for checking calls. I do not blame it for that.
– There is such a thing as an automatic meter. It is in use in Grand Rapids, in America. But the Commonwealth authorities do not seem to know anything about it.
– The measured system has now been in operation for a month, and the Department is gloating over the fact that fewer calls are being recorded than were recorded previously. As a subscriber, I wish to say that I am getting no better service than I formerly received. I have nothing to say against the measured service system, though I may have something to say about it later on when I learn how the departmental method of measurement compares with the householders’. But what happens? You call up the telephone attendant, you get your man, and the moment after you are cut off ; then you ring for three or four minutes and get him back again. I do not know how many times one is to be debited for that one effective call.
– I wish the honorable senator would ring off now.
– As a matter of fact, this telephone business has not been discussed in the Senate, and I am doing nothing unreasonable in discussing it now. Would the Government mind looking at the telephone system from the point of view of the public, not of the officials? I would give this much credit to the officers - that one can look through their official reports from beginning to end and find no indication that they advised the Government to adopt this new system. We are now being faced with a most extraordinary proposition. We do not know how we stand. I came in under the measured system and thought I knew exactly where I was. But after four or five weeks I discovered that if I happened to move from my present house to another I should have to guarantee the Government to stand by the telephone for four years and to pay for two years in advance. When I first had the telephone installed I was Government Whip, and I suppose that I was furnished with the service just about as promptly as anybody could be. I have no complaint to make on that score. But how long would an ordinary suburban resident be kept? He would be called upon i0 PaY m advance, and it might be five or six weeks before he got his telephone. In addition to that, he would have to give a guarantee to keep the telephone for four years. No such condition as that has been previously laid down in Australia or in any other part of the world. I venture to say that the Government cannot find a case in the world where it is demanded that a telephone subscriber shall not have an instrument put into his house unless he guarantees to pay for it for four years, and, in addition, to put down two years’ subscription in advance. Whether these statements that have appeared in the newspaper are correct or not I do not know, but I shall be glad to listen to a Ministerial explanation.
– Senator Chataway commenced by saying that, as a newspaper man, he did not, as a rule, believe everything published in newspapers. But his argument would induce one to believe that he was thoroughly satisfied with that which appeared in a newspaper to-day with respect to the telephone service. As a matter of fact, the statement to which he lias called’ attention is absolutely incorrect.
Senator Keating, by one or two interjections during Senator Chataway’s speech, made it appear that he was extremely angry that such conditions were to be enforced by the present Government. As a matter of fact, the regulations governing the telephone service in respect to the matters mentioned by Senator Chataway have been in operation since 1902. They were introduced by a Government that Senator Keating warmly supported, and were operative at the very time when he held a position in a Cabinet. What are the facts in regard to the statement that appeared in one of the newspapers this morning? Whilst it is true that 1 per cent, of the subscribers might be affected by Regulation 12, 99 per cent, would be exempt.
– The honorable senator admits an injustice in the case of the 1 per cent. ?
– - I admit no injustice whatever.
– Why are 99 per cent, exempt?
– Because 99 per cent, of the subscribers enjoy the telephone service under conditions that are not affected by regulation 12. They reside in close proximity to some telephone exchange, and the cost of installation is comparatively little. If a person is called upon to pay two or three, or it may be ten, years in advance, it is to recoup the Department for the erection ‘Of special lines and for special installations in places far removed from a telephone exchange. Unless there were such a regulation in operation, a person might desire to have telephone communication established at a house a considerable distance from a local exchange, and it might be that after two or three months he would feel disposed to remove from the locality. The Department would be .1 considerable loser in consequence. The regulation, as I have said, was first brought into operation in 1902. The present Government, therefore, is in no way responsible for it.
– Will the honorable senator read the regulation?
– It is as follows”-
Provided also that where the cost of construction of the line exceeds the first year’srental, but not the total rental of the first and second yeaTS, the subscriber shall be required’ to pay one year’s rental in advance, and ta enter into an agreement to pay rental for the line for a further year.
– If the Minister shelters himself behind that regulation, it is a poor thing to do.
– If the cost is not covered by a year’s payment in advance, surely the Government is justified in calling upon the user of a telephone which has been erected at considerable expense to recoup the Department?
– That only applies to country telephones.
– The regulation has a general application. It applies, not merely to country, but also to newly created suburban, localities.
– In a newly established suburb, half-a-dozen householders might desire the telephone service. They might be miles from the nearest local exchange. Ought they to have the service at the same cost as a person living only 50 yards from an exchange?
– Would the Government reduce the cost to those living within 50 yards?
– No ; we place subscribers within a reasonable distance of an exchange on the same level. This Government, I say again, is not responsible for a regulation which, having been in operation since 1902, has been applied right up to the present time without attention having been called to it.
– If the Government are not responsible for it, do they indorse it?
– Yes, we indorse it heartily, and the Postmaster-General is seeing that it is properly carried out. We think that it is a manifestly just provision, and so thought every previous PostmasterGeneral, and every previous Government. The only thing about it that has been newly discovered is the mare’s nest.
– Can the honorable senator say anything in regard to the way in which the toll system is working?
- Senator Chataway has told us that the number of calls have fallen off by 30 per cent., and he wants to know whether the system is going to continue. That system is here to stay while the present Government is in office.
– What I asked was whether the 30 per cent, in the falling off of the number of calls would be accompanied by a 30 per cent, reduction in the cost of running the telephone system ?
– I am not prepared to say; but I learned, from a hasty visit which I paid to the Central Exchange in
Melbourne, that the employes bless the day when the present Postmaster-General introduced the new system.
– Do the Government run the telephone system for the benefit of the employes?
– No, it is not run for them ; but they are not now taxed to the same extent as they used to be in having to attend to frivolous calls. The falling off in calls may be due to the fact that there are not now so many frivolous calls as there were formerly. With regard to the Vancouver mail service, Senator Chataway has said that when the Postmaster-General was in Brisbane he was deputationized by the Chamber of Commerce and one or two other representative bodies, and said that he would not be a party to any contract that would place any disability upon Brisbane. What the Postmaster-General said he intends, if possible, to carry out.
– If possible?
– Yes, he cannot do an impossibility. I desire to give the assurance to the honorable senator that before anything definite is done in connexion with the service the contract will be laid upon the table of the Senate, and honorable senators will have an opportunity of perusing and discussing it.
– It is well known that the negotiations which have been mentioned by myself and Senator Chataway are, and must be, more or less confidential. We have respected that, confidence, at any rate I have. I hope that the Government will be shortly able to declare their ‘intention with regard to the Vancouver mail service. It must be evident that it will take them every hour of the intervening eight months, if they have not begun negotiations, to bring about a satisfactory contract. Over and over again it has been pointed out, as a reason for haste, by the Canadian Government, that it will take them twelve months to fix up a contract. Month after month is passing by. The Postmaster-General has got every member of the Senate more or less in confidence as to what went on at the interview. The Government remain mute all the time, and we have to extract information, so to speak, through their teeth. While every senator who was present at the deputation in Sydney and in Brisbane will preserve the confidence which the Postmaster-General imposed on them, or asked us to give him, I think that he is not dealing fairly with us.
– What does the honorable senator want him to do?
– The PostmasterGeneral ought to be able to declare his intention quickly. He knows that if he is going to alter the contract, or to stand by the route, and, to a certain extent, by the cost, he has- to continue the service as it exists to-day ; and that it will take him fully twelve months to perfect his arrangements.
– Senator Chataway seems to be satisfied with the assurance I gave; but the honorable senator is dissatisfied.
– I am dissatisfied because the Postmaster-General is not playing fairly with us. We cannot disclose the substance of the negotiations which was made known over the table to the representatives of Queensland and the representatives of great industries in that State and others. Every one who was present had some indication of the mind of the Postmaster-General in this matter. I do not think that it is at all trespassing on that confidence to say that I have a grave suspicion as to whether that contract is going to be maintained for the benefit of Australia, especially of the State of Queensland. That suspicion may be unjust ; but the Government know that they cannot renew satisfactorily a contract for a big mail service in a very short period. Necessarily, it must be renewed in some form or other. Canada and New Zealand are pressing a point of view which apparently is to the disadvantage of Australia in general, and of Queensland in particular. Notwithstanding that fact, and that the time available is short, the Government are remaining quiet without declaring their intention. I do not suppose that the Minister will now attempt to answer me. Possibly he may plead that I have said nothing that calls for an answer. He is the judge of that; and I shall have to abide by his decisions. The conduct of the negotiations is, in my opinion, one of the most unsatisfactory acts of the Government, and is causing a good deal of anxiety and uneasiness, especially to Queensland. If one aspect of the negotiations is persevered in, the PostmasterGeneral is likely to play right up to the hilt the game of New Zealand, and possibly of Canada, to the entire disadvantage of the Commonwealth, especially of Queensland which, in co-operation with New South Wales, year after year paid heavily for the initiation of the trade between
Canada and Australia. I rose to give a warning to the Government.
– There is no occasion for that anxiety.
– I am very glad indeed that the Honorary Minister has made that statement. It allays a good deal of my fears; and I hope that when the contract is renewed, the Government will be found to have justified the last expression of my honorable friend.
. - I am very glad that Senator Chataway dealt with the new telephone regulations, and the conditions under which the telephone is used under the measured-rate system. I do not intend to go into the whole question to-night, but to direct the attention of the Government to certain matters. If they are going to apply a uniform rate as for rental and as for use of the telephone, they should take into consideration the different systems of telephones in existence. Some telephones are on the common battery switchboard ; some are on the old multiple switchboard, and some can be used without the slightest danger of induction that will lead to the discovery of conversation taking place between two persons who are conversing, and one or two others who are not on the same line. There are also telephones which will enable a person to deal directly with the person with whom he is conversing, and when the conversation is finished, to at once disconnect himself, and immediately get telephonic connexion with somebody else. These are circumstances which I think ought to be taken info consideration by the Government before they fully establish any proposition for the uniform charging of persons who use telephones. There is another matter which I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, and that is in connexion with the conditions which certain shipping companies propose to impose on travellers. I .desire to ask whether, in view of the fact that apparently it is not contemplated that the Navigation Bill shall go right through its course this session, the Government are prepared to take action with regard to certain shipping companies which propose to impose upon passengers conditions which are contrary to law. I need not go further than to state that they propose to establish amongst others, a condition which is an infraction of the Quarantine Act.
– Does this come under the vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department ?
– I am speaking of steam-ship companies which receive a mail subsidy.
– There is no vote on these Estimates for that purpose.
– If that is the case, I shall not pursue the matter much further. Section 59 of the Quarantine Act provides that a company shall bear the cost of quarantine; but certain companies which enjoy a mail subsidy, and are supposed to carry passengers in ordinary circumstances, propose to impose upon them the obligation of discharging them from their responsibilities, not only in that regard, but in other directions. I do not wish to go into the matter very fully at present, but on a more appropriate occasion I shall do so if an opportunity is afforded to me. In the meantime, I ask the Government to carefully ascertain from all shipping companies which receive a subsidy for carrying mails if they are prepared to conform to Australian laws and Australian conditions, and not to ask passengers to sign anything which mil. deny to them any rights they may have under the common law or under the Statute law of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to know whether the Government are satisfied in regard to the way in which telephone calls are registered. It appears to me that a subscriber has no guarantee of the correctness of the register. It is not automatic, and no matter what mistakes may be made, he has no way of rectifying them, or, indeed, of discovering them. I took the trouble to go into the Adelaide Telephone Exchange, which, I believe, has one of the most up-to-date switchboards. I found that the manner of getting an effective call is very efficient; but when the parties to a conversation ring off, all they have to depend upon is the fact that the girl in attendance is supposed to. press a button that lifts a lever which moves a figure on a certain register. So far as I can see, there is mo other way of registering calls. There is no way for a subscriber to satisfy himself as to the correctness of his account. At first blush it might seem that when the girl at the switchboard neglects to press the button, it is all in favour of the subscriber, because the call is not registered. At the same time, there is nothing to prevent a girl from pressing the button a dozen times if she desires to do so.
– And some of them like to do that, too.
– The girls are only human, I suppose. They get cross sometimes, and might do that. What I wish to emphasize is that there is no absolute certainty with regard to the correctness of the register. It depends upon whether the attendant presses a button or not. I do not think that that is satisfactory to either party. If you could get an automatic register, well and good. But when a great many of the calls are not effective, and cannot be registered, I do not see very well how you are going to get an automatic register. Under the existing system subscribers are placed at the mercy of the switchboard attendant, and they should not be placed in that position. I am concerned in this matter for a correct registration of effective calls, and I should like to see some means adopted which would give telephone subscribers an assurance when their accounts are rendered that the effective calls they have made have been correctly recorded.
– A subscriber could put a halfpenny in a box for every effective call.
– I wish the honorable senator would talk sense. A large establishment could not be expected to provide* hundreds of halfpennies, so that one might be put into a box for every effective telephone call. The matter is one which should be treated seriously. The present system cannot be considered satisfactory, even- from the point of view of the Department. They have to depend upon the switchboard attendant, as well as the subscriber, and they have no assurance that she will press the button for every call. I do not think it is too much to ask Ministers whether the matter has been considered, if there is in existence in any other place in the world a better system, and, if so, whether it could not be adopted here? As a telephone subscriber, and one who, in business, must use the telephone frequently, I should like to be satisfied that when .my account is rendered it will be absolutely accurate. Under -existing conditions, 1 do not know that; and if I employ some one to keep a record of ‘effective calls on my telephone, and it disagrees with the record of the Department, my record will not be accepted. I am satisfied that, up to a certain point, the present system is a good system ; but there should be some means by which the switchboard attendant and the subscriber might satisfy each other that the number of calls has been correctly recorded.
– That could be done by putting a token in a slot.
– Even that system would not be free from objection, since a token might be put in the slot when the call made was not effective. A subscriber may ring up the exchange five times, to be told four times out of the five that theperson he has rung up is engaged ; and if the system suggested by Senator Guthrie were adopted, the token would not be put in unless the call were effective. If the Government have any scheme in view to overcome the difficulty, they should tell the Committee what it is. Telephone subscribers would be more satisfied than they are at present if they had some assurance that they would be charged only for effective calls.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT COULD (New South Wales) [10.20].- J. do not think the Government can be surprised that there is some talk with regard to the operation of the telephone system’. It is only to be expected, when a change is made which materially affects the interests of the public, that they will make some little noise about it. Every one must recognise that without some automatic system of checking calls, there is sure to be difficulty. Senator Chataway has told the Committee’ the course he has adopted to check his calls. But while it might be satisfactory in certain cases, it could not be regarded as generally effective.
– And therecord would not be acknowledged by the Department.
.- That is so; but I think that some notice would have to be taken of it if a number of subscribers adopted the practice, and it was shown that, as a general rule, the Department was overcharging. I do not suppose for a moment that the Department has any desire to overcharge any subscriber. If a subscriber attempts to keep a record of his calls, he cannot rely upon every one in his place marking the record every time his telephone is used. In many instances a subscriber is disconnected almost immediately after he has been connected with the person with whom he wishes to speak. This may be the result of some error ; but when the connexion is restored it is possible that the subscriber may be charged for two calls. I am not sure that an automatic system would overcome that difficulty which is one of the most serious objections to the adoption of the toll system. Under the existing system a charge of£4 is made for telephone connexion, whether with a business firm or a private subscriber. Under the previous system, I paid £5 a year for a telephone at my private house, and the charge to a business firm was £9. Under the existing system, there is a margin of £5 in the one case, and only £1 in the other, necessary in order to bring about an equality with the previous conditions. If we are to have a toll system I think it would be very much better to adopt that proposed by Mr. Austin Chapman, when he was PostmasterGeneral, of making a charge of£2 or £2 10s. to each subscriber, and even then giving a certain number of free calls. That would have been a very much more popular system.
– No doubt.
– The honorable senator laughs, but I would ask him for whose benefit the telephone system has been instituted ‘?
– Not for the benefit of the favoured few who have telephones.
– If the Department put in telephones for £2 or £2 10s., they would get a great many more subscribers than they have at the present time. We are told that the number of subscribers is less now than it was under the previous system.
– On the other hand, there are complaints from people who cannot be supplied with telephones.
– We have been informed that the number of calls has diminished by 30 per cent. This shows that the public are not making the use of the system which was made of it previously. I am not going to say that the Telephone Branch should be run at a loss.
– Only three minutes more.
– I shall speak for thirty minutes more if it suits my convenience. I object to a material increase in telephone rates before we have some definite information, as the result of investigations, as to the extent to which the system was paying in times past.
– There is sufficient evidence to prove that it has never paid up to the present time.
– Statements have been made that it has paid, that it has not paid, and that because of the way in which the accounts have been kept, no one is able to say whether it has paid or not. We should have had some definite information on the subject before such a change was made. The railway services are carried on in the various States by the State Governments.
– I remind the honorable senator that the railway services have nothing to do with the question before the Committee.
– I am perfectly well aware of that, sir, but I submit that I have a perfect right, so long as I do not go into details, to draw a parallel between the railway and telephone services. The complaint has sometimes been made that our railway services are conducted in order to make a profit, and not, as was intended, to open up the country. I say that the telephone service should not be conducted in order to make a profit, but to afford the public the greatest possible facilities for the transaction of business. The railway and telephone services, as institutions conducted by Government, should be managed on similar principles. We are told that if the telephone service was handed over to private people, they would expect to make a profit out of it, whereas the Government do not need to look for a profit from the conduct of the service. Senator Chataway alluded to the rent that is being charged in certain cases. I must admit that I was surprised to hear that any regulation of the kind referred to was in force. From information I have since obtained, I understand the explanation is a very simple one, as it applies only where people require a special line that would cost the Department £40 or £50. It is only reasonable that in such cases the subscriber should be asked to indemnify the Department for the expense involved.
– It is now half-past jo o’clock, and the honorable senator may sit down.
– Order. I ask honorable senators not to interject.
– lt is a deliberate insult to an honorable senator speaking in this chamber that honorable senators should interject in such a way as to suggest that he is not speaking with an honest intention and purpose.
– Who insulted the honorable senator?
– The interjection of an honorable senator was an insult.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know if Senator Gould is in order in saying that I deliberately insulted him?
– I did not hear the honorable senator say that.
– I said that it was insulting for an honorable senator to suggest, by interjection, that I was not speaking with an honest intention.
– The honorable senator said that I had deliberately insulted him.
.- I did not. There are other honorable senators in the chamber. I understand that if a man desires a telephone line to be erected to his residence, which may be 3 or 4 miles distant from an exchange, he is compelled to pay the cost of that line. I recognise the reasonableness of such a provision.
– It is two minutes after half-past 10 o’clock.
– Will that noisy little man hold his tongue. The Government have no right to complain of attention having been called to this matter. It is only, natural that honorable senators who have some knowledge of the working of the telephone should feel themselves justified in saying a few words upon this subject, even though by so doing they risk incurring the displeasure of the Government. I hope that in future the Ministry will not exhibit quite so much touchiness upon matters as they have this evening.
– I have two telephones, one in my office and the other in my private residence. Under the old rates I paid -£g per annum for my office telephone and £5 per annum for the instrument at my private address. But under the new system I have to pay £4 a year ground rent for each instrument and½d. per call. Under these circumstances, I wish to know whether I shall be credited with having paid in advance for so many messages?
– I shall be able to answer that question to-morrow.
– I wish toconfirm the statement of Senator Gould that subscribers are frequently cut off in the middle of their conversations. The other day I was cut off for about three minutes. In such circumstances, shall I be charged for two messages ? It is a simple question, to which I shall be glad to have an answer.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 39 (Refunds of Revenue), £20,000, agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request, and passed through its remaining stages.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.37].- I should like to know the order of business for to-morrow.
– I wish to ask whether it is the intention of the Government to push the Navigation Bill forward with anything like earnestness? It is a big measure which contains more than 400 clauses, and I do not feel disposed to put amendments in print if it is not intended to push the Bill through this session.
– The honorable senator should put his question to the Opposition, and not to the Government.
– The Government are in charge of the business of this Chamber, and I wish to know whether they are prepared to sit on with a view to transacting that business.
– It is the intention of the Government to push on with the Navigation Bill. If under our Standing Orders an opportunity had been presented to proceed with that Bill tonight it would have been proceeded with. But our object was frustrated by an organized effort on the part of . honorable senators opposite.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask whether the Minister of Defence is in order in referring to “an organized effort” on the part of members of the Opposition to obstruct.
– I must ask the Minister of Defence to withdraw the offensive expression.
– If it be out of order to use that expression I withdraw it because it is out of order.
– It is untrue.
– I think that the Minister of Defence should withdraw unconditionally.
– I withdraw the expression unconditionally, and ask that Senator Gould be obliged to withdraw his statement that my observation is untrue.
– I withdraw the statement, and shall content myself with saying that the Minister’s remark is incorrect.
– It is the intention of the Government to push on with the Navigation Bill, and we shall take other measures to make up the ground that we have lost to-day. Honorable senators must be prepared for that.
– I should like to know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council absolutely repudiates the statement which the Prime Minister made in another place yesterday, that the Government do not expect to get the Navigation Bill through both Houses this session.
Senator ST. LEDGER(Queensland [10.42]. - After commenting upon the state of business just now the Minister of Defence informed Senator Guthrie that the Government will take steps to insure that the time which has been lost this evening shall be made up. It seems necessary to remind the Minister that he is not Czar in the Senate, and that a threat of that kind is likely to provoke retaliation. Nobody desires to see the Navigation Bill go through more than I do.
– We are not worms, nor are we blind.
– The Minister’s nerves are getting frayed over this matter.
– The whip is en the honorable senator.
– Sometimes I get the whip on me, and sometimes I lay it upon others. I strongly object to the threat of the Minister of Defence, especially in view of the fact that the Opposition have made a splendid concession to the Government by allowing them to put through a Supply Bill for more than £800.000 in one day. Many honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber have spent considerable time in assisting to improve measures, and in respect of the Navigation Bill from the very moment of its appearance this session not a single individual can be honestly taunted with having wasted time. I would remind the Minister that the Opposition is not going to be driven by the Government, and that our Standing Orders enable an Opposition, if provoked, to fight for a very long time. More than that, there are some honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber who possess sufficient mental and physical strength to continue such a fight for a prolonged period. Although the session has been a strenuous one we are ready for the worst. I have no desire to add to the heat that has been displayed, but I will say that the Government well deserve the fairly warm retort that has been made for the way in which they have conducted the Supply Bill.
– I regret very much that the Minister of Defence allowed to escape from him the remark to which he gave utterance a minute or two ago. I was a member of an Opposition for many years-
– Another lecturer !
– I have as much right to speak here as the honorable senator has, and I am going to exercise that right. I was a member of an Opposition for many years, and I shall always main- tain the rights of an Opposition. I have had to face truculent Governments. I do not want to see Labour Governments truculent. There was no time wasted this afternoon. We got the Supply Bill without any notice. No one, knew that it was to be here this afternoon until it was suddenly thrown upon the table. There have been only eight hours of discussion. The remarks of the Minister of Defence were very uncalled for. Every member of this Parliament has his rights,. Even if I am supporting a Government I do not take the Estimates of that Government without discus’sion. Estimates are laid before Parliament for members to discuss them. Whether a man is a supporter of a Government or sits in opposition to it, he is bound in the interests of the country, if he is to do his duty, to examine those Estimates and to criticise them if he thinks fit.
– Does the honorable senator justify the criticism of the Opposition to-day?
– If the Opposition thinks proper-
– Does the honorable senator think the criticism was sensible?
– I have never heard the members of a Government admit that the criticism of any Opposition was sensible. In another part of Australia we have a Government coercing an Opposition. That sort of thing is degrading to parliamentary government, and reduces it to a farce. Yet we have had something of a similar character attempted here. Whether I support or oppose a Government, I shall stand up for the freedom of members of Parliament. I wish to ask the Minister when the report’ of the Postal Commission will- be circulated?
– I was rather surprised to hear the little homily from Senator Stewart in which he proclaimed his want of knowledge as to the Supply Bill arriving here to-day. Did not the honorable senator know that on Friday last I gave contingent notice of motion with reference to the suspension of the Standing Orders in anticipation of that Bill arriving? The honorable senator ought to have known that such a measure was coming before us. If he did not know, he was neglecting his duty. But I can feel for the honorable senator. He has been so long in Opposition that he cannot get out of the habit of opposing.It is a very good thing for the Government that they are not entirely dependent upon a majority of one. Honorable senators opposite may feel that they have done very well in blocking the Supply Bill for such a long time. I challenge them to show any other occasion when a Supply Bill of this description was not dealt with by the Senate in less than a quarter of the time that has been occupied to-day. When Senator Stewart talks about the Estimates being flung upon the table, I reply that at no period of the history of this Parliament has it ever been considered that the Estimates-in-Chief ‘ were under discussion in connexion with a Supply Bill. The Estimates come before Parliament in a proper and well regulated way. But an opportunity has presented itself in connexion with an ordinary Supply Bill for wasting time and delaying business. I do not blame either Senator Stewart or any member of the Opposition for taking advantage of the opportunity.
– Who wasted time?
– Honorable senators opposite are perfectly at liberty to do so. But I wish to remind Senator St. Ledger, who has threatened us with consequences involving physical endurance, that the Government intend to carry out the programme that they have laid before Parliament, and if we have to sit every day in the week, and every night, an attempt to do that work will be made. Ifthe members of the Opposition are prepared to put the supporters of the Government to inconvenience, they must remember that they will also put themselves to inconvenience. We have nothing to thank the Opposition for, as far as we have yet gone. I am at a loss to know who leads the Opposition when Senator Millen is away ; but the Acting Leader of the Opposition, whoever he is - whether it be Senator Gould, Senator Chataway, or Senator St. Ledger - was in a position to control honorable senators on his own side to some extent, and to give a fair chance for work upon the Navigation Bill to be done to-day. Last Friday I said that I would give an opportunity on Thursday of this . week to discuss the census papers if sufficient progress were made with business. I do not- hold myself or the Government bound to carry out that promise to the Opposition after their conduct today.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What will be the order of business tomorrow ?
– We intend to deal with the Naval Appropriation Bill first, secondly with the Trust Fund Advances Bill, and afterwards with the Navigation Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.55p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101005_SENATE_4_57/>.