4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
NOR-GENERAL entered the chamber and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Minister and his colleagues the Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Defence at the Imperial Conference, and their attendance in London with the delegation from this Parliament specially invited to the Coronation of His Gracious Majesty King George V., you have been summoned somewhat later in the year than usual.
Conference are of great importance to the destinies of the United Kingdom and the Oversea Dominions. Matters of vital moment were discussed and settled in a spirit of freedom, trust, and unity. The Conference emphasized the strong ties of kinship and common ideals of the various nations composing the Empire, and made for the maintenance of Peace. A notable feature and marked advance upon previous Conferences was the action of the British Government in taking the Oversea Dominions’ Representatives into. their full and unreserved confidence regarding their foreign policy. The Naval Agreement arrived at after conference between Commonwealth Representatives and the Admiralty is extremely satisfactory, embodying the policy formulated by the Government, and approved by the people of the Commonwealth.
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President took the chair at 2.46 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce that I have received a list of the Bills passed last session, and assented to by His Excellency the Governor-General since the prorogation of Parliament. They are as follow :
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill 1910.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works ami
Buildings) Bill 1908-9.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works ami
Buildings) Bill 1910-n. Judiciary Bill 1910.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1910-11. Customs Bill 1910. Defence Bill 1910.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1908-9. Customs Tariff Bill 1910. Supply Bill (No. 1) 1911-12. Appropriation Bill 1910-11.
– I desire, by concurrence of the Senate, to submit a motion, without notice. I beg to move -
That an humble address of congratulation be presented to His Majesty the King as follows : -
TO THE KING’S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY :
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, beg leave to approach Your Majesty and offer our respectful congratulations on the occasion of the Coronation of Your Majesty and your gracious Consort.
We desire also to convey an assurance of our loyal attachment to your Throne and person, and of our sincere hope that Your Majesty’s reign will be distinguished, under the blessing of Providence, by watchful care to maintain the laws of the Empire and promote the happiness and liberty of your subjects.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales)
I2 -S3]- - I beg to second the motion which has just been submitted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. In so doing, I may direct attention to two points which occur to me in reference to the important occasion of which we are now proposing to take official notice by a resolution of the Senate. The first point is this. This motion appeals, I am sure, to the members of the Senate - as I believe it would appeal to the citizens of this country outside if submitted to them - not merely as sounding a note of congratulation to the distinguished personage who has been called to the throne the Empire, but as a noti fication to the world at large that Australia recognises that she is not only an integral portion of the Empire, but intends so to remain. Further, I desire to observe that we may pass this motion - as I am sure we shall do - with additional pleasure from the reason that, for the first time of our history, we have now called to the throne a Sovereign who is personally known to many of us, and who has personally made himself acquainted with Australia. T am sure that I shall have honorable senators with me when I venture to express the hope that circumstances will be so fortunate to us - and I may add so favorable to His Majesty - that he may again be -afforded an opportunity to visit this country. If he should see an opportunity of so doing, I venture to say that there is no portion of the Empire in which he will be more cordially welcomed than in this Commonwealth of ours.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 3 o’clock to-morrow.
-laid upon the table-
Audit Acts 1901-6 -
The Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1910, accompanied by the report of the Auditor-General.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Contract Immigrants Act 1905. - .
Return showing for 1910 -
The number of contract immigrants admitted into the Commonwealth; the nationality and occupation of such immigrants.
Immigration Restriction Act 1901-1910. -
Return for the year 1910, showing -
Naturalization Act 1903. -
Return of number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were granted during 1910.
Recommendations by Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, K.C.B., in regard to the general administration, &c, of the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth, dated 1st March, 191 1.
Extracts from the Annual Report by MajorGeneral G. M. Kirkpatrick, InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Proceedings of the War Railway Council assembled at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, February,1911.
Proceedings of the War Railway Council assembled at Commonwealth Offices, Sydney, May, 1911.
Memorandum by Commonwealth Public Service Commissionerrelatingto recommendations of Royal Commission on Postal Services.
Statistical Returns in relation to the submission to the Electors -
Audit Acts1901-1906 -
Transfers in connexion with the Accounts of the Financial Years 1909-10 and 1910-11 -
Dated 22nd December, 1910.
Dated 13th January, 191 1.
Dated 20th February, 1911.
Dated 3rd March, 1911.
Dated 17th March,1911.
Dated 17th March,1911.
Dated 24th March, 191 1.
Dated 24th March, 1911.
Dated 3rd April,1911.
Dated 2nd May, 191 1.
Dated 2nd May, 191 1.
Dated 12th May,1911.
Dated 12th May, 191 1.
Dated 12th May,1911.
Dated9th June, 191 1.
Dated 21st June, 1911.
Amendment (Provisional) of Treasury Regulation 96 (e). - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 72.
Repeal of Treasury Regulation 96 (d), and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No.. 72.
Provisional London Account Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 98.
Repeal of Treasury Regulations 22, 78, 80, 81, 117, 118, 125, and 126, and substitution of new Regulations (Provi-
Audit Acts 1901-1906 - continued. sional) in lieu thereof. Also new Regulation 107A (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 128.
Repeal of London Account Regulation 30, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 7.
Amendment (Provisional) of Treasury Regulation 34. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 77.
Repeal of Form 5 under Treasury Regulation 24, and substitution of new Form (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 102.
Repeal of Treasury Regulations 22, 78, 80, 81, 117, 118, 120, 125, and 126, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. Also new Regulation 107A. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 104.
Amendment of Treasury Regulation No. 34. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 115.
Repeal of Treasury Regulation 47, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory’ Rules 1911, No. 120.
Census and Statistics Act1905 - Regulations - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 4.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909 - New Regulation 7A (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 8a.
New Regulations 7b and 7c (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 96.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909, and Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1 906- 1 909 -
Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 137.
New Regulation17k (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 48.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908- 1909-
Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 121.
Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 99.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Murrurundi (Haydonton), New South Wales- Post Office- Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Pennant Hills, New South Wales - Wireless Telegraph Station - Notification of the acquisition of land as addition to site.
Melbourne, Victoria - Commonwealth Offices - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Western Australia - Wireless Telegraph Station - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Orange, New South Wales - Rifle Range - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Return of land disposed of under Section 63(2) - Military College Site, Canberra.
Mount Nelson, near Hobart, Tasmania - Defence purposes - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Maribyrnong, Victoria - Defence purposes - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Caulfield, County of Bourke, Victoria - Post Office - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - continued.
Kiama, New South Wales- Post Office - Notification of the acquisition of land as addition to site.
Return of lands disposed of under Section 63 (2) at Brisbane.
Haberfield, New South Wales- Post Office - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
South Leichhardt, New South WalesPost Office - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Gladesville, New South Wales- Post Office - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Spencer and Bourke streets, Melbourne - Commonwealth purposes - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Waterloo, New South Wales- Post Office - Notification of the acquisition of land for site.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906, and Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909 -
Federal Territory, Parish of Canberra, County of Murray - Commonwealth purposes - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906, Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909, and Seat of Government (Administration) Act1910-
Federal Capital Territory, Parish of Canberra, County of Murray - Commonwealth purposes - Notification of the acquisition of land.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910 -
Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 8.
New Regulations 8a and 8b (Provisional), and amendment of Regulation 51 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 23.
New Regulations (Provisional). - Statutory Rules1911, No.83.
New Regulation (Provisional) 8a. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 103.
Meteorology Act 1906 -
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 1 relating to the sale of Meteorological Publications. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 21.
Amendment of Regulation 1 relating to the sale of Meteorological Publications. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 80.
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 1 relating to the sale of Meteorological Publications. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 112.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of1911 -
No. 1. - Northern Territory Government.
No. 2. - Council of Advice.
No. 3. - Sheriff.
No. 4. - Tin Dredging.
No. 5. - Marine.
No. 6. - Registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
No. 7. -Interpretation.
No. 8. - Stamp Duties Abolition.
No. 9. - Supreme Court.
No. 10. - Registration.
No. 11. - District Council Assessment. No. 12. - Registration (No. 2).
Papua - Ordinances of1910-
No. 8. - Liquor Law Amendment.
Matrimonial Causes Jurisdiction.
Papua - Ordinances of 1910 - continued.
Native Labour, No. 3.
Supplementary Appropriation igio-n,. No. 2.
No. 17. - Supplementary Appropriation) 1910-11, No. 3.
Ordinances of 191 1 -
No. 3. - Liquor Ordinance Amendment.
No. 4. - Supplementary Appropriation- 1910-11, No. 4.
No. 5. - Supplementary Appropriation’ 1910-11, No. 5.
Public Service Act 1902-9 -
Documents in connexion with the following appointments : -
Mr. Marmion Matthews Bray to the position of Clerk, Class E, professional division, Secretary’s Office,. Attorney-General’s Department.
Mr. Peter McKeon, to the position of Valuer, Class D, professional division,. Land Tax Branch, Department of the Treasury, New South Wales.
Mr. Herbert Valentine Franklin, to theposition of Valuer, Class D, professional division, Land Tax Branch, Department of the Treasury, Queensland.
Recommendation of Mr. G. W. Anderson for the position of Assistant Examiner, Class F, professional division, Patents Branch, AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
Mr. J. T. H. Goodwin to the position of Land Property Officer, Class C, professional division, Department of Home Affairs.
Documents in connexion with the reclassification of office of Chief Clerk, Crown Solicitor’s Office, and promotion of Mr. William Henry Sharwood.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. John Peter Hannan to the position of Clerk, 4th Class, clerical division, Old-age Pensions Branch,. Central Staff, Department of the Treasury.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. William Mcpherson to the position of Clerk, 3rd Class, clerical division. Pensions Branch, Central Staff, Department of the Treasury.
List of permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on 1st January.,1911.
Repeal of Regulation 104, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910. No. 122.
New Regulation 264A (Provisional). - Statutory Rules1910, No. 123.
Repeal of Regulation 202, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules1910, No. 124.
Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation- 66. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 5.
Repeal of Regulation 105, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 6.
Repeal of Regulation 220, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 11.
Public Service Act 1902-9 - continued.
Repeal of Regulations 209 and 213, and substitution of new Regulation 209 in lieu thereof, and repeal of Provisional Regulation,Statutory Rules 1909, No.
New Regulation 264A. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 20.
Repeal of Regulation 104, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 22.
New Regulation 73A (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 42.
Repeal of Regulations 55 and 56, and substitution of new Regulations (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 44.
Repeal of Regulations 10, 21, and 42, and substitution of new Regulations (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 63.
Amendment of Regulation 66. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 71.
Repeal of Regulation 198, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 81.
Repeal of Regulations 55 and 56, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 93-
New Regulation 73A. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 94.
Repeal of Regulation 104, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 95.
Repeal of Regulations 149 and 151, and substitution of new Regulations (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 98.
Repeal of Regulations 204 and 207, and substitution of new Regulation 207 in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. no.
Repeal of Regulations 10, 21, and 42, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof, and Repeal of Provisional Regulations, Statutory Rules 1911, No. 63. - Statutory Rules1911, No.111.
Return of Persons temporarily employed in the Public Service during the year ended 30th June, 1911.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. Hugh McConaghy to the position of Clerk, Third Class, Clerical Division, Central Staff, Department of Trade and Customs.
Documents in connexion with the following appointments : -
Mr. Cecil Auburn Selwyn Teece to the position of Deputy Examiner, Class E, Professional Division, and Mr. Osborn F. Cartwright to the position of Assistant Examiner, Class F, Professional Division, Patents and Trade Marks Branch, Department of Trade and Customs.
Mr. William Brunton to the position of Assistant Examiner, Class F, Professional Division, Patents and Trade Marks Branch, Department of Trade and Customs.
Public Service Act 1902-9 - continued.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. Walter Moore to the position of Sub-Collector, 4th Class, Clerical Division, Fort Hedland, and of Mr. Evelyn Pierpont Erskine to the position of 4th ‘ Class SubCollector, Third Class, Clerical Division, Geraldton.
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906- 1910. - Provisional Regulation - Statutory Rules 1911, No.19.
Seat of Government -
Ordinance No. 1 of 1911, for the Provisional Government of the Territory.
Shale Oils Bounties Act 1910-
Return of Bounty paid during the Financial Year ended 30th June, 191 1.
Manufactures Encouragement Act 1908 - Return of Bounty paid during Financial Year ended 30th June, 1911.
Customs Act1910 -
Proclamations made since the last session of the Parliament prohibiting the exportation of goods.
Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-9 -
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. William Hunter Morisoh to the position of Postmaster, Grade II., 2nd Class, Charters Towers, Queensland.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. Harley Wilson Young to the position of Controller of Stores, 2nd Class, Stores Branch, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Victoria.
-laid on the Table -
Return to Order of the Senate of 24th November, 1910 -
Allowance to Members of Parliament : Increase from?400 to?600 per annum.
– I have to report that His Excellency the Governor-General attended in this Chamber to-day for the purpose of opening Parliament, and was pleased to deliver a speech. I understand that copies have been delivered to honorable senators, so that I do not propose to have the speech read.
– I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Before I begin my speech, I wish to express my regret that Senator Guthrie, one of the delegates to the Coronation, is suffering from bronchitis or congestion of the. lungs. I sincerely hope, and I am sure that it is the wish of the Senate, to see the honorable senator in his place within a short time, and able to perform his duties, which he took so much interest in. I am very pleased to notice that the Clerk, Mr. Boydell, is again able to take his seat at the Clerk’s table, seemingly in good health. I hope that he may continue to do so, and that his health may improve. I am not going to be ungrateful. I recognise that the Fisher Government have conferred an honour upon me, and upon the State I represent, by asking me to move the adoption of the AddressinReply. When Senator McGregor asked me to take the matter in hand, he said that I was from South Australia, and Senator Buzacott from Western Australia, and that in the other House the honours were also being conferred on representatives of the different States. I am very pleased indeed to be the first speaker on this occasion, because I recognise that in our Government we have men of action, men who in any circumstances can hold their own. We have in. them men who, visiting England, mixed with royalty, sat at the same table with King and Queen, and mingled with lords and dukes, and whose heads were not affected in the least. I am pleased to say that Mr. Fisher and his colleagues - Senator Pearce, and the Minister of External Affairs - acquitted themselves well. They gave a good account of themselves in England. In fact, I do not wonder that the people in the Old Country, especially the working classes, were astonished to find at the coronation of His Majesty the King a Prime Minister of Australia who was working in a coal mine a few years ago. As regards the. Minister of Defence, we never had a better one in the Commonwealth.
– And never will.
– And perhaps never will. I am glad to say that these Ministers acquitted themselves in such a way that even in the most complicated questions they were able to take a stand and maintain their ground. I am going to sympathize, if I can, with the Opposition. It must have been very trying indeed for the opportunity to slip from them. What a grand opportunity it would have been for distinctions, honours, titles, and all those things had they only been there.
– They had their eyes on them.
– Yes, I know them well indeed, and Senator Vardon in particular.
– He will rub it in to the honorable senator.
– I do not mind that. I do not wonder at it, because it is human nature. For men of conservative ideals for one moment to contemplate the spectacle of a man who worked in a coal mine as I have related, -and Senator Pearce, who is the son of a blacksmith, and who a few years ago was a carpenter working for his living, dining with the King and the Queen of England - oh, was it not too much? What a time they had, and what a time the other side lost! I do not at alt wonder that the Opposition are a bit annoyed. I am sorry to say that South’ Australia was involved. The Mayor of Adelaide - I have nothing to say against him - wanted the title of Lord Mayor, and I am told that several members of this Parliament and others who went to England were also disappointed that they did not get titles.
– Mr. Fisher was not disappointed with the title which he took.
– I am told, too, that Senator Vardon was one of them’. I dp not know if it is true.
– If the honorable senator was told that he was told a distinct’ lie.
– Undoubtedly, it is not a lie on my part.
– The honorable senator was told a lie.
– I was told by a man who was present at the Coronation and returned a little before the honorable senator did. He said that the Mayor of Adelaide - Mr. Cohen - the Honorable J.j J. Duncan, M.L.C., and Senator Vardon, were out for titles. I am not going to break confidence and give away my informant, but it is the truth.
– The Government would know if I was out for a title. Ask them !
– They were too busy looking after a title for the Prime Minister to think of anybody else.
– If the Prime Minister got a title he did not ask for it.
It was pressed upon him, but the Mayor of Adelaide went Home for a title, and I suppose Senator Vardon saw him.
– Poor Mr. Fisher accepted what he did not want !
– It was too bad to press the title upon him.
– Let me go a little further. When a certain vessel arrived at Fremantle what happened? Senator Vardon was on board, and amongst the statements he made were the statements that the Honorable Andrew Fisher was scarcely loyal, that he was selfish, that he obtained the highest honour he could get for himself and that “ poor me “ was right out of it. Then when he came to South Australia he went and told Old Granny - the Register - and it had an article on “ Opportunities Lost.” When we think of that the matter becomes serious. Of course I have no sympathy with that sort of conduct. I know that my remarks must hurt the feelings of those who have been disappointed. Perhaps Senator Millen may have been disappointed, too ! I do not know. I have brought with me a poem of Robert Burns, dealing with this very subject, “ For a’ that and a’ that.” I thought that it would apply remarkably well to the case of Senator Vardon. It may give the honorable senator a little comfort, and bring a bit of consolation even to Mr. Lewis Cohen, a man who as Mayor is held in very high esteem.
Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
What struts, and stares, and a’ that; Tho’ hundreds worship at his word ;
He’s but a coof for a’ that, For a’ that, and a’ that,
His riband, star, and a’ that, The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at a’ that.
I hope that the honorable senator may be able to do that.
– I think that that fits the honorable senator exactly.-
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and a’ that; But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Guid faith he mauna fa’ that !
– I am afraid that that does not fit the honorable senator exactly.
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their dignities, and a’ that, The pith o’ sense - and that is what the Government had.
The pith o’ sense, and pride o’ worth, Are higher ranks than a’ that.
Working men, even in the peculiar position in which they were placed, did not seek honours. Mr. Fisher had an honour thrust upon him, and he is well worthy of it.
– I offer him my sincere sympathy.
– When we remember that the well-known democrat, the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston, accepted a similar honour, it was quite proper that Mr. Fisher should do so. But he did not seek it. As regards the reference of Senator Vardon he took the opportunity-
– He has denied that, and the honorable senator ought to accept his denial.
– When my honorable friend reached Fremantle, and also when he reached Adelaide, he took the opportunity to damage our leader.
– Absolute rot.
– In order to do so the honorable senator said that Mr. Fisher was overshadowed by Senator Pearce and Mr. Batchelor.
– Dozens of English newspapers said the same.
- Senator Vardon said, moreover, that Mr. Fisher’s speeches were “turned down” in the Old Country ; that they were not read ; that they were not interesting.
– I never made any reference to Mr. Fisher’s speeches, except those delivered at the Conference.
– The honorable senator said that his speeches were “turned down” by the press; that they were ignored; and that the Prime Minister’s two colleagues overshadowed him. Mr. Fisher’s colleagues were good men, but they were nothing like so brilliant in comparison with the Prime Minister as Senator Vardon said they were. That criticism was very ungenerous and, to some extent, perhaps, it caused a little friction amongst the members of the Ministry and of the party; or, rather, it might have done so, if Andrew Fisher were not fit to hold his own.
– If Mr. Fisher is the man that I take him to be, he will not deny to his colleagues the merit that is due to them.
– I make these statements because I believe that Senator Vardon was spiteful. I said so in the press.
– The less the honorable senator says about spite the better, after the things he has been saying.
– I am not going to be prevented by my honorable friend from saying what I have to say. I am pleased and proud at the action of our Government. I am proud of the way in which Ministers maintained their position in the Old Country. Senator Vardon, I believe, addressed a meeting of 1,500 persons in England. Did the press ignore his speech? It never appeared in print in the Commonwealth or in England.
– Is that so? 0 Is the honorable senator sure?
– When Mr. Fisher visited Scotland he met with a grand reception wherever he went. The freedom of the City of Glasgow was conferred upon him, and many other honours were offered to him. Yet Senator Vardon could say that the press turned Mr. Fisher down as a man of no ability, and that it was pitiful that he should be the Leader of the Labour party.
– I hope that the rest of the honorable senator’s statements are more accurate than that is.
– I am .quite accurate in what I am saying, and am very glad that the honorable senator is present to hear me.
– I came on purpose to hear what the honorable senator had to say. I knew that this was coming.
– I am sure of this: that the honorable senator, being the leader of the Liberal party in South Australia
– The what?
– The leader of the so-called Liberal Party ; I am sure that, being such, his statements will have had one effect. The organizers and lecturers of the party - Miss Grace Watson included - will have taken Senator Vardon’s speech as a text, as though it were something out of the sacred Bible; they will go up and down amongst the people telling them what Senator Vardon said about the Leader of the Labour party, and what an awful party it must be to have such a weak leader as Mr. Fisher. I do* not intend to pursue this matter any further, but wish to allude to other subjects. When we consider the fight that we had over the financial issue ; when we remember the struggle with the Opposition, who wished to retain the obnoxious Loan Act upon the statute-book for the purpose of enabling the Government to borrow ^3,500,000 for naval defence; when we remember how bitterly the Government weredenounced when they introduced a Bill torepeal the Act, we must smile at the success’ of the Labour party’s policy. We were told that the Government would not be able to carry on without a loan. But what hasthe result been? Look at the overflowing Treasury at the present time.
– That is rather a severe criticism on the estimate which the honorable senator’s Government put forward.
– Instead of borrowing money, and thereby imposing a burden on those who have to come after us, we are meeting all our liabilities as we go.
– With borrowed money.
– The Commonwealth has lent money to the States.
– Yes, our Government has been able to lend to the States. I wish to carry the matter a littlefurther. A few days ago, I made a selection from amongst Senator Vardon’sspeeches on the Federal land tax. I thought that I should like to have a lookthrough his utterances and find the most bitter of them.
– Was it a very hard job?
– It was not a very severe task to find one that was severe enough to answer my purpose. I Havecopied an extract from Hansard for convenience of quotation. I refer to the speech delivered by the honorable senator on the 25th October, 1910, page 5077, whereSenator Vardon is reported to have said -
This taxation is not in any way fair, but merely a vendetta. This is not a purely taxation measure founded on scientific and just principles. I believe the tax to be born of classhatred. Instead of it being a proper and just taxing measure, it is an abortion - a monstrosity. If I were asked to describe its pedigree, I would” say that “ Its dam is Cupidity, and its sireRobbery, and it is cradled in Confiscation.”
– I thank the honorablesenator for putting that passage in Hansard again.
– That bringsme to the question of the effect of theland tax. The members of the party towhich I belong stated that it would be themeans of bringing into the Treasury money that the Commonwealth needed, and’ would, at the same time, have the effect of breaking up large estates. The resultshave been exactly as we predicted. So- “fas as money is concerned, the revenue received has approximated to ,£1,400,000. Some said that the measure would not have the effect of bursting up large estates. In answer to that I am now in a position to quote from a petition presented to the Commissioner of Crown Lands in Adelaide & month or two ago. I will read an extract from the Adelaide Advertiser -
A deputation, headed by Mr. W. Miller, M.P., waited on the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Hon. C. Vaughan) on Wednesday morning with a view of inducing the Government to purchase the North Bundaleer Estate for closer settlement purposes. Mr. H. Boucaut presented a largely-signed petition from the residents of Jamestown requesting the Government to purchase the estate from Mr. George Edward Maslin with the object of settling the property more closely. It contained about 23,000 acres, situated between Jamestown and Spalding. If it -were acquired at least 100 families could make a living out of it.
Mr. Boucaut said that as a result of the coming into operation of the Federal land tax Mr. Maslin would have to part with about £4,000 per annum, and he had practically made up his mind to sell the property. A petition had been got up in the district, and Mr. Maslin had given him permission on the previous day to offer the land to the Government. Mr. Maslin had stated that he could not keep the estate any longer, as owing to the Federal land tax about two-fifths of his income had to go to the Commonwealth. No price had been fixed by Mr. Maslin, but if the Government were willing to come to terms a sum satisfactory to both parties would no doubt be decided upon. When the Canowie estate was placed in the market nearly -the same quantity of land had been bought by private individuals, and although there had been but seventeen families resident thereon formerly, >there were now only about seven new settlers. This was on account of the fact that it had been sold by auction, and because men with plenty of money in the neighbourhood bought the lane), end were at the present time keeping a few sheep on it. It seemed a pity that so many thousand acres should go out of culture. If Mr. Maslin’s property was sold in the same way perhaps a dozen instead of 100 additional people would gain the benefit. There was a large homestead on the estate, which had cost ^4,000 -to erect, and this could also be utilized in some useful way. It had been suggested some time back that the homestead could be turned into a sanatorium, but a later and more practicable suggestion was that it could be made a branch of the Agricultural College. There was splendid land in the vicinity. It was in a good position, and the rainfall was about two inches. In conclusion, he thought the petitioners had very strong grounds for recommending the Government to seriously consider the matter.
– Has that land been resumed by the State yet?
– I shall tell the “honorable senator presently. The deputation included members of the Legislative Council and House of Assembly of, with but one exception, the anti-socialist creed, and all admitted that if the land were sold by auction it would not meet the purpose in view at all. I shall read to Senator Millen the reply of the Commissioner of Lands : -
The Commissioner in reply remarked that Mr. Boucaut appeared to have a strong case, lt was desired that the Government should purchase the estate on the same lines as they did the Yongala property, but it should be remembered that the price of land had gone up a great deal of late, and it had to be taken into consideration that Mr. Maslin’s property covered a very, large area. At the same time, if the land could be obtained at a price which would justify the Government in purchasing it they would be prepared to do something in the matter. The Government were very careful as regarded the repurchasing of land owing to the big capital involved. However, the whole question would be taken into consideration, and they would see what could be done to meet the request of the petitioners.
By the way, I should say that Mr. Boucaut is a lawyer, but an honest one.
– Has the land been resumed ?
– It has not yet been resumed to my knowledge, but I am in a position to say - since the honorable senator presses the question - that the Land Board have visited the place and inspected the land, though their report has not yet been made public property.
– And in Ihe meanwhile the price of land has gone up.
– The price of land has gone up, but, if the statements of the members of this deputation be correct, it would appear that the progressive land tax is going to have the effect that, instead of a few men getting a living from this land, which is within three miles of Jamestown) and in a good sound district, there will be seventy or eighty persons settled there.
– On paying a higher price than was paid for the land a few 5’ears ago.
– I h?.ve said that the price has gone up.
– So that the land tax has not procured cheap land for the people.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that, not only the estate referred to, but the Canowie estate and the North Boobarowrie estate also, have been offered to the Government, and this would not have been so but for the progressive Federal land tax.
– More was sold before the imposition of the tax than since.
– In anticipation of the tax.
– These lands were sold by the people who formerly held them, and now, instead of being large runs with only a few people living on them, they are comparatively closely settled. The Canowie estate, I admit, has not greatly benefited the people, because it has gone into the hands of some wealthy individuals, but the North Boobarowrie es’tate, which was repurchased by the Government for £6 2s. 6d. per acre, was dealt with under the Closer Settlement Act. Every acre of it was applied for, and hundreds of disappointed applicants could not get any of it.
– In spite of the land tax people are unable to get land.
– That is so; but does the honorable senator think that the owners of these lands would give them up were it not for the fact that a progressive land tax has been imposed upon them? That is what has had the effect of forcing them into the market in order to dispose of them.
– But hundreds of people are still in want of land.
– That is so; but as the honorable senator is doing a little quibbling I again remind him that, though the North Boobarowrie estate is now in the hands of a number of settlers, there were several hundred applicants for portions of it who could get no land. These estates are adjoining, and comprise splendid land. If my memory serves me aright, the North Boobarowrie estate was purchased by* Mr. Melrose and his partner, some years ago, for about £4 an acre, and recently it was sold to the Government for £6 2.s. 6d. an acre.
– Did the honorable senator never sell land for more than he gave for it?
– I would ask Senator Millen where is the confiscation, and where is the robbery in such a case?
– To take two-fifths of the rental value of a property in taxation.
– Should not the interests of the people be considered? Why should a hundred people be compelled to remain landless while one man is making thousands a year running sheep and growing wool on an estate, and excluding men, women, and children from the land? My reason for referring to the matter is to show how useful the Federal land tax has been. We required it also from a financial point of view. We need money for de fence, and the Government are going in for defence with a vengeance. Whilst Senator Pearce is at the helm I do not think the Conservatives will be able to complain of the expenditure on defence.
– Senator Pearce is not the only man who can spend money.
– I am aware that, on questions of defence, Senator Pearce always secures the approval of my honorable friends .opposite.
– That is rather a doubtful compliment.
– We have money for defence. I remind Senator Cameron that we now have money to buy bullets, and also to pay for old-age pensions. I have no intention to be personal, but it does not hurt men who have an income of many thousands a year if they have to pay ,£3,000 or £4,000 a year, as Mr. Maslin said he would have to do. That statement may have been a little overdrawn ; but even if it were not, he would still have many thousands of pounds to fall back upon, and as he will probably receive £6 per acre for 23,000 acres, which he received as a present from his father, he will be able to retire and live long and happily on the money he will have acquired; whilst the authorities at Jamestown, as stated in the petition to which I have referred, may anticipate that a much, larger population will be settled in their district. What. I have said with reference to South Australia applies with equal force to other States. Some are in a worse position in this respect than South Australia. The Labour party had a policy, and they have put their shoulders to the wheel. They promised the electors that they would do a certain thing, and as soon as they had the numbers they did it. I am proud of it, and it has been, and will be, a cause of great prosperity to the Commonwealth. Let me for a moment deal with the impression and effect our delegation must have had upon the British people, and the working classes of Great Britain in particular. As a party we have been blamed, in some quarters, for being opposed to immigration, but what has happened in connexion with New South Wales ? According to press reports, arrangements have been made for three or four vessels to leave England for New South Waleswith 2,400 immigrants.
– But not with the blessing of the Labour party.
– I know that as a farm labourer following the plough in the Old Country I desired to obtain information about Australia, and I think the Federal Government can take credit for the fact that so many now are prepared to leave the Old Country for New South Wales and South Australia. The fact that men holding the positions which the members of the present Government held a few years ago should, with the confidence and trust of the people, occupy their present high positions must make a big impression on the minds of people in the Old Country, and satisfy them as to the country to which they should emigrate. I intend to say a little about the bank note issue. I am proud of the present financial position. I am glad to find that the Government are going in for a Federal banking system. I think it is quite time that was done. If the Conservatives had remained in power they would never have proposed anything of the kind. I wish to read to the Senate the information which is contained in the following statement -
In reply to your queries concerning the Australian Notes Act, I think that the following may assist you : -
The date of the passing of the Australian
Notes Bill was September 16th, 1910.
Notes were first issued bearing the Com monwealth superscription on November 7th, 1910.
The Note tax came into operation on
July 1st, 1911, and all banks issuing notes without the Commonwealth superscription on or after that date were taxed 10 per cent, on the value of the notes issued.
The amount of the notes issued at the present time is £9,275,969.
The policy for the investment of the funds at the disposal of the Treasurer is limited in the Australian Notes Trust Act to investments in British consols, Government securities, and fixed deposits in banks.
The total money so invested amounts to, approximately, £4,642,500, which leaves in the Treasury of the Commonwealth at present as a security against the note issue the amount of, approximately, £4,633,469.
T have ascertained that the amount of interest derived as the result of the Commonwealth note issue by lending money to New South Wales and other States is £162,000.
– The interest on what?
– The interest on the money invested.
– Upon the gold invested ?
– Advanced to several of the States.
– Where did the Government get that gold?
– From the banks. I forget the exact amount which New South Wales has borrowed from the Commonwealth, and upon which she is paying 3J per cent, interest. When we recognise that the Commonwealth note issue has been such a huge success, we cannot for a moment doubt the wisdom of establishing a Commonwealth bank of issue.
– Here is a great financial luminary !
– If that expression had not emanated from Senator McColl I should have thought he was not himself - that there was something the matter with him. But, seeing that it has been drawn from him, he is evidently in good health. Conservatism is to -the front, and I am upon right lines. Before concluding, I wish briefly to refer to the Bill which it is proposed to introduce to authorize the construction of a line of railway to Western Australia. I am strongly in favour of that undertaking.
– Before the railway through the Northern Territory is constructed ?
– I am not going to quarrel about that. The Northern Territory railway will come byandby, and we are not going to fall out as to which line shall be constructed first unless we wish to squelch both projects.
– A nice change of front.
– There has been no change of front whatever on my part. During the first session I had the honour of being a member of this Parliament I supported the Bill authorizing a survey of the line to Western Australia, and, on that occasion, I stated that if the surveyor’s report were a favorable one I would be prepared to advocate the construction of that line. The report is a favorable one, and I say that in the absence of such a railway we cannot have a proper Federation.
– Will the line be reproductive ?
– It will be byandby. At any rate, it is required for defence purposes alone. So far as South Australia is concerned, I have nothing of which to complain in regard to a railway through the Northern Territory. That Territory has been taken over by the Commonwealth, and will be developed by it.
I am not one of those who blame the Government for not developing it forthwith, and for not having a policy to which they are prepared to give effect immediately. I recognise that it is a big question. Of course. 1 have heard some persons say that they know all about the Northern Territory and could settle this vexed problem straight away. But my own opinion is that those who profess to know all about it really know least. I commend the cautious attitude which has been adopted by the Government, and I am confident .that the work of developing the Territory will be well done. I presume, too, that it is intended to push on with the erection of the Federal Capital. On this question I have always fought in the sauie ranks as the Leader of the Opposition. I have never vacillated. When the Labour party in the Senate with one exception voted against YassCanberra. I stood to my colours.
– That was the only mistake the honorable senator ever made.
– It was not a mistake. I did the right thing. I claim to know more about land than any of my colleagues, because I have spent between fifty and sixty years upon the soil.
– The Opposition nobbled the honorable senator when they called a certain place “ Mount Russell.”
– The Opposition never tried to nobble me - not even Senator Walker, who is a very influential man.
– Did not he approach the honorable senator?
– No, nor did anybody else.
– The honorable senator means that no other individual from this side of the Chamber approached him?
– And no other man from either side.
– They did not require to tempt the honorable senator. He walked straight into the trap.
– The honorable senator himself was very nearly in it.
– The Age plucked him out.
– He was very much afraid of the Age. I was not. He was afraid, too, of the Bulletin. But I was not like Senator McColl. who had the pluck on one occasion to vote the right way, but who, on the next occasion, backed down.
– Why does the honorable senator limit Senator McColl’s courage to one occasion?
– Because it was such a remarkable exhibition. I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with the Government policy, as a whole. We have before us the policy of the Labour party, as it was presented last session, with some steps in advance. I have every confidence in the Ministry. They have had a year’s experience of office, and that year’s work has been a credit to them. While the Prime Minister, and some of his colleagues, were in the Old Country, those who were left behind in the. Commonwealth - I refer to the Acting-Treasurer, Mr. Frazer, and to Senator Findley - acquitted themselves like men. They rose to the occasion, and manfully did their duty. I am, however, not quite satisfied with the treatment which the present Government, and past Governments, have meted out to the Post and Telegraph employes, particularly in South Australia. That treatment has been cruel. It has been tantamount to robbery.
– Adelaide is not the whole Commonwealth.
– If the same treatment had been accorded to South Australia as has been meted out to Victoria, the Post Kind Telegraph employes there would not have been robbed to half the extent that they have been.
– South Australia is not the Commonwealth.
– I am well aware of that. If time permitted, I could show very clearly how this Parliament has broken faith with the public servants to whom I refer. When the Constitution was being framed, I well remember that Mr. Deakin, and others high in authority, promised that their position would not be injured under that charter of government.
– The Constitution itself affirms that.
– The framers of the Constitution specifically stated that the civil servants of South Australia who would be transferred to the Commonwealth were entitled to certain consideration. I can show the Leader of the Opposition that statement in print. Yet 1 may tell him that a few months ago the grievances of these men nearly resulted in a strike. The Postal Commission took evidence in regard to those grievances, and arrived at a certain decision which, however, the Government have chosen to ignore. I am sorry that Ministers have adopted that attitude. I hope that justice will be done to these civil servants. The Public Service Commissioner, who, I suppose, is a Scotchman, has acted harshly and despotically towards them. He has treated them in a manner worthy of the Czar of Russia by trampling their privileges underfoot. It was natural that, under such circumstances, the men should look to this Parliament, and to the present Government for redress of their grievances.
– The honorable senator must not shift the responsibility of Parliament on to the Commissioner.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I have been interviewed by, and that I have interviewed, the men frequently.
– I am not questioning the honorable senator’s statement. I can indorse it and others.
– The only hope which the men had was that the recommendations of the Royal Commission would be indorsed, and that, if the Commissioner were allowed to retain office, his powers would be limited.
– It is not so much the Commissioner as the Act which created him that they complain of.
– They complain of the Commissioner^ acting as an autocrat. That is one of the matters which T am not satisfied about, and I hope that it will yet be remedied.
– The honorable senator cannot charge that to the Government. It was the Parliament and not the Government which made the Commissioner an autocrat.
– The honorable senator was a member of the Parliament which passed the measure.
– Who is responsible for things to-day in the Post Office but the Government?
– Lately, when there was a great debate in South Australia over the referenda proposals, we heard of the evils in connexion with the Post Office and its bad management. I do not think that it would be of any use for me to occupy the floor any longer. I have expressed myself fairly and freely, and I shall be very sorry. indeed, as far as our people are concerned, if there is not a change made in reference to the Post and Telegraph administration. It has been pointed out from the Opposition side that the troubles in connexion with this Department are due to the present Administration, but we know that they date years back, simply because the Federal Parliament, instead of spending money and doing justice to the Civil Service, as it ought to have done, starved the Civil Service and handed the money back to the States. .
– It is a legacy from past Governments.
– Yes. I have much pleasure in moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– I rise to second the motion which has been so ably and eloquently moved by my honorable friend, and in doing so I desire to express my appreciation of the honour which has been conferred on the State which I represent Western Australia, which has proved itself to be the most Democratic State in the Federation.
– It was the only Australian State at the referendum.
– As the honorable senator says, Western Australia was the only Australian State at the referendum, so far as the important powers we were - asking for were concerned.
– I wonder if Senator Blakey would say that on a Victorian platform ?
– I also regret that Senator Guthrie is unable to be here to-day through illness, but” I hope that it will not be long before he will be with ‘ us, and share in our deliberations. I join with my honorable friend, too, in congratulating the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and the Minister of External Affairs, on the able and excellent manner in which they acquitted themselves at the Coronation, and also at the Imperial Conference. I wish to recognise the excellent manner in which different Ministers have administered the affairs of the Departments during the recess. I refer to Senator Findley, who so firmly and ably administered the External Affairs Department while Mr. Batchelor was absent in the Old Land ; to Senator McGregor, who acted as Minister of Defence; and to Mr. Frazer, who was the Acting Treasurer. This clearly shows that in our party we have any amount of administrative ability, and that we shall never be pushed far want of a Minister. I desire to make a few remarks in connexion with the trip to Papua. I was very desirous of undertaking the trip, to see what use was being made of the money voted by this Parliament for that Territory, but, unfortunately, through illness and other private reasons, I was unable to go. I am very pleased, however, to know that a large number of the members of this Parliament availed themselves ot the opportunity to go.
– What about those who withdrew ?
– Here is one who will give the reason presently.
– Probably the members of the Opposition, who withdrew in a body, will explain their reasons byandby. I, for one, shall be guided to a great extent by the opinions expressed by those who visited Papua, and who can tell us how the money is expended, what amount is required, and for what purposes it is required. I also regret the defeat of the referenda proposals. I am proud of the fact’ that the State I repre- sent gave a handsome majority in favour of them. For many years its people have suffered from rings, trusts, and combines, and when they had an opportunity to make known their opinion, they expressed themselves with no uncertain voice in favour of giving this Parliament full power to deal with trusts and monopolies.
– There was a good deal of ring-worm about the proposals.
– I really believe that the honorable senator does not know the meaning of the proposals which were submitted by referendum on the 26th April last, and that if he were to devote more time to considering these matters, and less time to addressing meetings of the Women’s, so-called, National League, he would not interrupt me with such an asinine interjection as he has just made. What has resulted from the defeat of the proposals? We have had a disastrous sugar strike, which undoubtedly was precipitated by the Sugar Combine. Why did they desire trouble? They had on hand over 70,000 tons of sugar, and a strike meant money to them. . It did not trouble them how the men, women, and children might suffer, so long as they could make money. They refused to meet the men in conference; they refused to discuss the matters which were in dispute; and, naturally, the men, being human, went out on strike. That was the only remedy which they had to hand. Now we find that the people have to pay the piper. We hear of sugar going up day by day to an enormous price.
– By £3 a ton last month.
– Yes. This Parliament has no power to deal with that combination, and honorable senators sitting on the other side and interjecting about ringworm proposals of the Labour party refuse to concede that power.
– They are all “worms.”
– That is, I think, a very pertinent interjection. I regret that the people of Western Australia, who voted so strongly in favour of the referenda proposals, have to suffer on account of the lack of interest taken in them by the people of Victoria and other States. I feel sure that, had the people given the proposals the careful and earnest consideration which they required, in every State there would have been a majority recorded in favour of them. How were they defeated?
– Do you propose to submit them again ?
– Most decidedly ; and I believe that if they were submitted to the people to-morrow every State would give a majority in favour of them. During the” last few weeks in Melbourne I have come across thousands of persons who have told me that they voted against the proposals, but that they did not understand them on account of the misrepresentations of the press. Not only had we misrepresentation by newspapers, but we also had misrepresentation by politicians - men who were receiving the pay of the nation, but who were serving the interests of monopolies, and monopolies alone.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– We were not surprised at the press of this country taking the stand which it did. It is a commercial concern, and, of course, it was fighting for the party which was paying it best. But we were surprised at the politicians of this country, who are paid by the people, throwing dust in their eyes as they did.
– Unless every politician shares the honorable senator’s views, he will denounce him in that way.
– Certainly not.
– That is what the honorable senator is saying.
– I am not taking exception to the views of the politicians, but I do take exception to the other people’s views which they expressed. The majority were not expressing their views during the campaign, but the views of the different combines and monopolies in this country.
– We might say the same thing about the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator may be willing to say so, but the people will not say so.
– At the last referendum they showed whose views they preferred.
– I do not want to labour this question, because I believe that, in the very near future, we shall have an opportunity to discuss it, not only here, but also before the people of the different States ; and I, for one, have no doubt as to what the result of a reference to them will be.
– What about the Age’s advocacy of the establishment of a Federal refinery ?
– I thank the honorable senator for the interjection. We have been afforded an example of the cowardice of the Age newspaper. It is, not prepared to admit that it made a mistake in advising the people as it did during the recent campaign, but it is prepared to throw the blame on the present Government and Parliament. Let us consider for a moment the absurdity of establishing sugar mills and refineries at YassCanberra and dragging all the sugar cane there from North Queensland, or sending the cane across to Papua or to the Northern Territory for treatment there. The Age considers that it is only right and proper for the Federal Government to have their own refineries at the Federal Capital, or in Papua, or in the Northern Territory. Its idea is so absurd as hardly to be worth referring to. It clearly proves, however, to the people of Victoria that the Age is not sincere in its attempt to educate them as to what is best in the interests of the nation. Why did we submit the referenda proposals to the people? It was to bring into operation Acts which had been passed at the instance of the Government of which Senator Millen was a member. During the late campaign we found Senator Millen and other members of the Government which got Parliament to pass the Seamen’s Compensation Act, the New Protection Act, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the Australian Industries Preservation Act, telling the people not to give Parliament the power to bring those measures into operation.
– That is not a correct way of stating it.
– It is perfectly true; there is no denying the fact. Those Bills were passed when the present Leader of the Opposition was a member of the Government of this country. Proposals were then made to bring into operation these same measures.
– That is not correct.
– The additional powers sought for were required to enable effect to be given to those measures. I pass on to some of the important proposals contained in the Governor- General’s Speech. I find nothing there that is revolutionary. I find nothing there to frighten any of the people of this country. The proposals foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech simply <> carry into effect the programme which the majority of us submitted to the people when we asked for their votes and their support. Each and every one of those proposals will, I trust, be passed into law before the present session closes. Reference has been made to the Commonwealth note issue. The policy of the Government in reference to that subject met with strenuous opposition during the last session of Parliament. Indeed, while Senator W. Russell was speaking to-day, Senator McColl interjected that the Government had “commandeered the profits “ made out of the note issue. I should like to ask from whom the Government commandeered those profits? Before the passing of the Australian Notes Act the profits from the issue of bank notes did not go into the pockets of the people of this country. But by the passage of that Act, even in the first year of its operation, we have derived a profit of £334,690. This revenue has been derived without placing any burden on any section of the people of Australia. Much of it is money which otherwise would have gone out of this country altogether. Again, before their issue by the Commonwealth, bank notes were not used to a very great extent. But we find that the issue is greater now than it ever was.
– Notes were used just as freely before. The only difference is the substitution of a Commonwealth note for the notes of the private banks.
– The Commonwealth holds the gold reserve instead of the banks doing so.
– That is the position: Senator BUZACOTT.- An Australian banker said to me the other day that notes were more largely used now than they ever were before. I am very pleased indeed to see that the Australian note issue has turned out so successfully. And I firmly believe that the Commonwealth bank, which will be established during this year, will be just as great a success. Since the year 1893 the people of this country have not had much confidence in the banking institutions.
– Since 1893 the investments in bank stocks have been very large.
– They are very large, but still the people have not had the same confidence in the banks as they had previously, on account of the way they had to suffer during that disastrous time occasioned by the closing of the banks. I for one had to suffer severely. We must all admit, however, that the foundation of banking is confidence. In a Commonwealth bank the people will have unbounded confidence, because behind that bank will be the Federal Treasury, whilst behind the Federal Treasury will be the whole of the resources of this Commonwealth. There is no doubt about the future of a Commonwealth bank ; none whatever. Then we come to the question of pensions. The bringing into operation by proclamation of the invalid sections of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act has, I am pleased to know, brought happiness and brightness into many homes throughout this country, but I am strongly in favour of the Government taking into consideration the absolute necessity of making some extra payments to those persons who are living in the remote parts of the different States. An honorable member near me interjects that we cannot constitutionally do so, but I fail to find any section in the Constitution which prevents us. For instance, in Western Australia we have many old-age pensioners who are doing a little bit of prospecting on the gold-fields. It is better, having regard to the interests of this country, that those old men should be encouraged to remain on the gold-fields doing a little prospecting, whilst at the same time receiving their pensions. The majority of them are earning nothing like sufficient to keep them, and the 10s. per week which they receive from the Government is cer:tainly not enough to maintain them on the gold-fields. I consider that a little extra money ought to be allowed to those old men who are living in the far interior of the different States, and who are.endeavouring, in their way, as they have been endeavouring all their lives, to develop the mineral resources of this country. I hope the Government will give this subject their earliest and their serious consideration. I do not think that the Constitution forbids us from moving in the direction I have suggested. Now I come to the most important part of the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General. I refer to the passages referring to that great national work, the building of the trans- Australian railway. The matter has been referred to bv various Governments for many years. In fact, the people of Western Australia were promised, when they entered Federation, that they would get the railway which they desired. But that promise, so far, has not been carried out.
– I think the trouble is - where is the money to come from ?
– I am glad to know that we have at last in office a Government which has the courage of its convictions, and which is prepared to carry out, not only its own promises, but the promises made by persons in authority to the people of Western Australia ten years ago, and upon which they relied when they joined the Federal Union. This work, I admit, is going to be an expensive one, and I wish to let the Senate understand clearly what my position is in connexion with it, and also in connexion with the development of the Northern Territory. I do not for a moment believe that it will be possible to build the transcontinental railway and to open up and develop the Northern Territory out of revenue ; and I for one am in favour of the Government using loan money for these purposes. We cannot fail to recognise that in all the large centres in Australia at the present time there is a demand for extended postal facilities and for increased, telephonic communication. These are services that must be rendered, because, after all, the man who is prepared to go out back and to open up and developeither the mineral or the agricultural, resources of this country is doing more, and conferring a greater benefit on Australia, than are those who are working and dwelling in the cities, and deriving all the advantages of civilization. We must give these people postal facilities, and we must improve their telephonic communication. We must perform these works out of revenue. We must also pay for the defence of Australia out of revenue. But I claim that it would be a matter of impossibility for the Government to finance such large works as building railways, developing the Northern Territory, and constructing the Federal Capital, out of revenue. Of course, I am now expressing my personal opinion.
– I differ from the honorable senator. *
- Senator Rae is just as much entitled to his view as 1 am to mine. Each of us gives his own interpretation of the Labour platform.
– What is the matter with taxing the rich ?
– We are taxing the rich already, but I do not consider that we ought to overburden the present generation with taxation. If we do, remember that it is not only the present generation who will suffer, but also those who come after us, because if the present generation is too heavily burdened, people nowadays will be unable to give to their children the education and the training for trades and professions that they would like to do.
– Wealth can stand a lot more taxation yet.
– Yes, but you can easily exhaust the possibilities in that direction. Indeed, I will go so far as to say that if we were to exhaust the possibilities of taxation we should even then be unable to finance all the contemplated Commonwealth works out of revenue if, during the next twenty years, we are to accomplish all that we have set our hands to. If we are going in for the progressive policy that this Government should undertake, it is, in my opinion, a matter of impossibility to finance the undertakings without raising some loans for the purpose.
– Following the evil example of those whom we have deposed.
– Coming to the question of Tariff anomalies, I wish to state that I was returned to this Parliament as a New Protectionist. I believe in building up the industries of this country. But, seeing that the people have declined to in dorse the policy which was submitted to them last year, and that we have not power to impose our New Protective policy, I am not for one moment in favour of increasing protective duties on those articles that are produced by monopolies at the present time. For instance, take agricultural machinery. The consumers are deriving no benefit from the protective duties imposed upon those goods. Neither are the wageearners deriving any benefit. Therefore, I consider that it is our duty, if we are to retain the protective Tariff, not to increase the burdens on the people, and not to increase the cost of living; but rather to take off all those duties which are purely revenue producing. Where there are protective duties from which people derive any benefit, I will support them, but I will not be one to help to build up in this country such big trusts, rings, and monopolies as exist in the United States.
– Does the honorable senator say that the duties on agricultural machinery in this country are merely revenue duties?
– I do not say anything of the kind. They were not meant to be revenue duties when they were imposed. They were meant to be protective. But when they were imposed, the honorable senator believed that this Parliament had power to enforce the policy of New Protection.
– No, I very much doubted that, and said so.
– The honorable senator has said so since, no doubt.
– I said so at the time.
– The honorable senator had an opportunity of bringing a measure into operation for the establishment of New Protection, but we found him opposing it.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– Turning to the Public Service, Senator W. Russell referred to the treatment meted out to the civil servants of the Commonwealth not only by the present Government, but by previous Administrations. I am prepared to say that the public servants are better satisfied with the treatment they have received from this Government than with that meted out to them by -any previous Government.
– They have reason to be.
– They have received more from them than from any previous Government. The public servants in my own State have every confidence in the present Ministry, and are well satisfied with what has been done for them. I have before me a return showing the amount of the increases of salaries paid to the public servants during last year. I find that the increases to clerical assistants amounted to £10,000; to postmasters, £2^00; to telegraphists, £13,000; total to the clerical division, £25,500. .
– That is an annual increase.
– It will be a permanent increase. The special increases made to the general division were as follow: - Sorters and senior sorters, £2,500; assistants and postal assistants, £17,000 ; letter-carriers, ,£13,000 ; linemen and line foremen, £6,800 ; mechanics, £6,000 ; telephonists, £18,000; telegraph messengers, £18,000 ; officers of other classes, £6,000; total in the general division, £87,300.
– Did the Government give those increases by grace, or by Statute ?
– They were given by the action of the Government by an amendment of the regulations.
– Undoubtedly by the Government. Previous Governments had the power to give these increases, but did not do so. The total increases granted to the postal service amounted to £112,800.
– Were those increases made to persons who were underpaid?
—They were all underpaid until these increases were given. The cost of living has increased, and it was only just that increases of salary should be made to men in the service to enable them to be in receipt of a living wage. Some are not at present receiving a living wage, if we take into consideration the increased cost of living in different parts of the States. We have undoubtedly the best paid Civil Service in the world, and while I hope it will continue to remain so, I trust also that we shall get from the civil servants of Australia better service than is being rendered to other peoples. I am prepared to admit that at present in different places we are not getting as good a post and telegraph service as we should get. We hear a great many complaints of letters and telegrams being undelivered. I am satisfied that there !s ground for the complaints. Letters do go astray, and telegrams remain undelivered.
– On the other hand, excellent service is rendered sometimes in the delivery of postal matter badly or insufficiently addressed.
– I do not dispute that for a moment, but I say that we must, as far as possible, have a perfect service. It may mean a very great deal to a person to have a letter addressed to him go astray, and even more that a telegram should be undelivered. Three weeks ago I had occasion to go to Adelaide on private business. At mid-day on Saturday I sent a telegram to say that I intended to leave the same night by the express, and I was greatly surprised on arriving at Adelaide to find that my telegram had not been delivered. I left Adelaide again on Monday afternoon at 4 o’clock, but the telegram had not been delivered up to that time. Yesterday I received a letter to say that my wire had not yet been received. How this has happened I do not know, but such things should not occur. If our civil servants are well paid we have the right to demand the best service from them, and those from whom we do not get it should be removed and others put in their places.
– No service can be absolutely free from mistakes.
– That is so, but we might have fewer mistakes in our service than we have at the present time. I do not complain of the administration, but there is often in connexion with different post-offices evidence of undue carelessness in the non-delivery of letters and telegrams. I have received a great many complaints on the subject, and I feel that it is due to those who have lodged them with me that I should bring the matter under the notice of the Government.
– The honorable senator’s statement is rather serious, in ‘view of the fact that there is supposed to be a double check on the money represented by a telegram.
– That is so, and it is rather a peculiar case. I am very pleased to know that the Government intend to amend the Electoral Act this session. I hope they will entirely dispense with postal voting. I hope that they will at the same time see that absentee voters are provided with better facilities for recording their votes. I think that, no matter for what district a man or woman is enrolled, he or she should be at liberty to record a vote at any polling booth throughout the Commonwealth.
– That would be a fruitful source of personation.
– Not more so than the system of postal voting in existence at the present time. We should have more polling booths established. I claim that wherever there are twelve or fifteen electors there should be a polling booth established in order that they may have an opportunity to record their votes, whether for a member of this Parliament or upon proposals submitted at referenda. I admit that increased expenditure would be involved, but we claim to believe in government of the people by the people, and we must give the people an opportunity to express their opinions through the ballot-box, no matter what the cost may be. I do not propose to discuss any further the matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. There is important business to be transacted this afternoon, and personally I do not consider that very much is gained by the discussion of the Address-in-Reply. It very often gives rise to ill-feeling, and instead of doing good in furthering the legislation of the country it may do harm. I hope that the session- entered upon now will be a successful one, and that no matter from what part of the Chamber a useful suggestion is made it will receive exactly the same consideration. If we approach the work of the session in this spirit I am satisfied that at its close the people will be prepared to admit that their representatives in this Parliament are doing their best to further the interests of the majority, and will be satisfied that they have men here anxious to make Australia the great nation we all desire it to become.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Treasurer’s Advance - Port Augusta Railway - Pacific Island Mail Services : Cooktown - Press Cable Service Subsidy - Immigration - Lithgow Labour Difficulties : Iron Bounty. Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Supply Bill (No. 2) 1911-12 being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I understand that it is possible at this stage to object to this motion going through. I have no desire to object, if the Minister in charge of the Bill will give the Senate an assurance that it contains only the votes necessary for the ordinary services for the period covered by it, which I understand is one month.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot deal with the measure until it is before the Senate. It is not before the Senate at the present time. It will be when the honorable senator has moved the first reading.
– If we assent to the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders we shall do away with the only safeguard we have. We should be informed of the reasons for urgency in the measure, and should know something of the amount covered by the Bill in respect of which the suspension of the Standing Orders is moved. I object to the motion unless I get the assurance for which I have asked, and which can be given by interjection.
– I will give the honorable senator the assurance he requires as soon as I have the opportunity.
– I wish to make the position clear. I desire to help the VicePresident of the Executive Council in getting the Bill through if it is what I understand it to be, but honorable senators will recognise that I have had no opportunity to look at it.
– I give the honorable senator the assurance.
– That is all I want. Frequently it has been pointed out- in the Senate, and Senator McGregor with others has agreed, that we should not regard money Bills, proposing the appropriation of large sums, as merely formal matters.-. If the Senate is to take its proper part in the legislation of the country, we should keep a close watch over these money Bills. I ask for an assurance from the Minister in charge of the Bill, which I believe he is in a position to give, that the money asked for in the Bill is merely to meet the ordinary services of the country. If the honorable senator tells me, as I understand he has done by interjection, that that is all that is contained in the Bill, I have no further objection to offer to the motion.
– - I take this opportunity to assure Senator Millen that there is nothing in this
Supply Bill that has not appeared in Supply Bills previously submitted from time to time. I have already assured the honorable senator, before the meeting of the Senate, that the only matter contained in the Bill, apart from the votes proposed for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth, is the usual vote for the Treasurer’s Advance. Such a vote is attached to almost every Supply Bill. Consequently, I can give the honorable senator the assurance for which he asks, and I hope he will not resist the suspension of the Standing Orders. On the first reading of the Bill I shall give particulars showing why the amount of Supply required is probably larger than may have been required in past years, but not larger in proportion than the Supply which was voted for the two months of this year which have already passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.— 1 moveThat this Bill be now read a first time.
It is generally known that on the first reading of a Bill of this description honorable senators have an opportunity to make any remarks or criticisms they please, but I should like to point out that, whilst the Address-in-Reply is still before the Senate, it would be much more convenient for honorable senators, as well as more acceptable to the Government, if they reserved such criticisms for that debate, rather than indulge in them in dealing with the Supply Bill. As I have already intimated to the Leader of the Opposition, the only extraordinary item contained in this Bill is the vote of ,£200,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance. In view of the experience of the last two months, I am sure we are not asking for an advance in excess of what we really require. A great many contracts have been let in connexion with our new military services. They are nearing completion, and every day brings in fresh accounts. From the first of the month to the thirtieth contractors will be asking for payment for completed services. There are other works approved by Parliament which must be paid for out of the Treasurer’s Advance until complete estimates for them are passed. The amount that is being asked for on this occasion is £1,038,016. That may seem large for one month’s supply. The amount voted bv Parliament for the services of the past two months was very considerable, and yet it! did not contain some of the items which are really part of the new services of this year. I would like to give honorable senators a few illustrations. Everybody must recognise that, as time goes on, the Commonwealth services must increase as a result of the legislation which we enact. I want to point out some of the items which have necessarily swelled the amount of Supply for the current month. We all know that last year the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth, and in that connexion we require £58,000. Similarly the Commonwealth has assumed control of the Port Augusta railway, and for that service we need £46,000. For ammunition we require £23,000 above the proportion in the previous Supply Bill, whilst, in connexion with our compulsory military training, which has just become operative, we need £81,900. A sum of £22,000 has had to be cabled Home to meet the deficiency upon the Pacific Cable. These and other sums aggregate ,£241,000, and, with the Treasurer’s Advance and £20,000 from refunds, which is the usual thing, would reduce the Supply for which we are now asking to between £500,000 and £600,000, wh’ich would be about half the amount of the Supply granted for two months during a previous session. All these items have been approved. The Supply for which we now ask is necessary to place the Government in a position to meet its liabilities until the Budget has been submitted to Parliament and the Estimates have been approved. To enable us to tide over the current month we are asking for the sum which is set down in this Bill, and I am sure that when honorable senators understand the position they will be only too willing to grant our request.
– I propose to adopt the very excellent suggestion thrown out by the VicePresident of the Executive Council by refusing on this occasion to avail myself of the opportunity which is provided by the Bill of indulging in any general remarks. But I wish to direct attention to one or two points connected with this and similar measures. I do so at the early part of the session for this reason : that at this stage honorable senators will at least credit me with having no desire to harass the Government. I know that when suggestions are made by members of the Opposition there is always a suspicion that they may be like gifts coming from the Greeks. But at this stage no such suspicion can be enter- tained by my honorable friends. I trust, therefore, that they will listen to the suggestion which I am about to make, not for the first time. In dealing with the financial proposals of the Government, it has hitherto been the fate of the Senate to be told, in effect, “There they are; the money has been spent, and you must accept the Bill.” In such circumstances, there is no other course open to us. But that is not the position which was contemplated by the Constitution. I am aware that the remedy for this state of things lies in the hands of honorable senators themselves. But the necessities of party are upon us all, with the result that, whenever a Government is remiss in bringing forward its proposals at a sufficiently early date to enable us to discuss them, its supporters, while willing to admit the offence privately, are prepared to condone it publicly. I wish the Senate to express its opinion on this question in such a way as will insure that the Government will bring forward its financial statement at a sufficiently early period in the session to give the Senate a fair opportunity of discussing it.
– It was brought forward very early last session, but owing to the pressure of public business it was not discussed.
– We did not get an opportunity of discussing it in the way that we desired. Turning to the Bill, the VicePresident of the Executive Council has drawn attention to the fact that the Treasurer’s Advance Vote is an abnormally large one. It is not only large on this occasion, but it is steadily growing. I do not know whether honorable senators pause to consider what this Advance Vote really means. It means the signing of a blank cheque - it means that the Government are able to spend that cheque just as they think fit, > provided that they afterwards tell us how they spent it. Such a system does not give Parliament full control of the public purse. I admit that a necessity exists for providing some till-money - that there should be some advance to the Treasurer - but I do not think that the necessities of the case are such as to render necessary a vote of £200,000. The necessity for such a vote arises largely from the system “Which we have adopted, known as the cash system, under which all moneys not expended during the financial year lapse at the end of June. As the result, claims are doubtless pouring in on the Government in connexion with works which were authorized during the past year. Ought that cash system to be maintained in regard to specific appropriations such as works or the purchase of materials? It is one thing toapply it to the ordinary services of the year, but surely there is a great distinction between those services and the construction, say, of a railway? Parliament may approve, for example, of the expenditure of £100,000 in connexion with the Federal Capital, or the construction of a railway to Western Australia. The mere fact that that amount has not been entirely spent by the 30th June ought not, in my opinion, to disturb the destiny of that money. If we were to alter our Audit Act and to limit the operation of the cash system to the ordinary services of the year, and if we were to determine that when once a sum of money has been specifically ap:propriated, it shall be devoted to that specific purpose only, it would not be necessary to bring forward these inflated Treasurer’s Advance Votes. Judging from the private conversation which I have had with honorable senators, I believe that they are largely in agreement with me as to the desirableness of modifying this cash system.. Consequently, the reform ought not to be difficult to bring about. Turning to theBill itself, I have no wish to be captious; in regard to the assurance given by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.. But there are a few items which canscarcely be called the ordinary services of the year. For instance, there is one which reads, “ The storage and seasoning of timber.” So far as I know that is; an entirely new item. The honorable senator may say it is only a little one, but it is there, nevertheless. Withregard to the much larger item of the Northern Territory, it is impossible for the Government to give us all the information that we would like. But I desire toknow if the item £46,000, which appears on page 6 of the Bill, under the heading of the Port Augusta Railway, representsonly a deficiency?
– After credit has been given for the income earned by the railway we still have to find £46,000?
– That is so.
– I wanted that information because it throws a tremendousflood of light on the character of the transaction to which we are now committed. If we are to lose £46,000 in six months uponthis railway it may even be necessary for
Parliament to closely scrutinize the methods which are adopted in its working. I cannot conceive that we ought to be running that line at a loss of£100,000 a year, to say nothing of the gradual wearing out of the plant. It looks as if we were face to face at the very beginning of our efforts in regard to the Northern Territory, with a very white elephant indeed.
– We had better extend the railway so as to make the deficit lighter.
– When we have a non-paying line it is rather a curious doctrine to urge that we should extend it still further through country of the same character with a view to making the deficit lighter. I think that it was obligatory upon the Commonwealth to take over the Northern Territory, but if the line in question is already involving us in a loss of £100,000 a year, surely we are called upon to devote some attention to it.
– The matter cannot be allowed to remain there.
– Exactly. It is not a long line, and if we are losing£ 100, 000 a year upon it, that circumstance in itself suggests a call on the ability of this House and of the Parliament to devise some means of minimizing that loss.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to the item of£4,963for the mail service to the Pacific Islands, which appears under the head of the Department of External Affairs. I received, some time ago, and I dare say that my corepresentatives from Queensland also received, a suggestion from the Cooktown Chamber of Commerce, which seemed to me a remarkably reasonable one. The Minister knows that Cooktown is almost an isolated community, even with regard to Queensland. It has to depend very largely for some of its mail communication upon the facilities which are extended by reason of the postal service between Papua and Sydney and Melbourne. There is a good deal of communication with Papua. Cooktown is one of the nearest ports, and I believe does a fairly extensive trade with Papua. At present, the mails from Papua pass by Cooktown, and are opened at Cairns, and then despatched to Cooktown. It has been suggested by the Chamber of Commerce at Cooktown that the delay of an hour or so outside the Endeavour River would enable them to get their mails quickly and to answer their correspondence. It is about two months since I drew the attention of the Department to this matter, and I dare say that my fellow representatives of Queensland have done something in that direction, but I have not yet received a reply. It may be that the Chamber of Commerce has received a communication ; it may be that the representative of some electorate in Queensland, or some other senator for that State has received word about the matter, but, although a very reasonable suggestion was brought under the notice of the Department over two months ago, I have not yet received any official intimation of what has been done. It seems a simple matter which was submitted. All that had to be done by the Department was to inquire whether a stoppage of an hour or so outside the entrance to Cooktown would seriously interfere with the transmission of mail matter to Cairns, the southern ports of Queensland, and the rest of Australia. Yet it has not been attended to, or, if it has been attended to, I have not received the courtesy of an answer telling me what has been done. But I received, and received pretty promptly, word that the matter was under consideration. How extraordinary is this conflict of departmental administration. One naturally takes a matter of this kind to the Department of the PostmasterGeneral, because it concerns the delivery of mails, but one finds out afterwards that it is connected with the External Affairs Department, and it is handed from one Department to the other. It takes some time for one to understand the processes of circumlocution which are observed by the two Eepartments. The Government may have a sufficient explanation to offer, but I ask, in the name of the isolated community of Cooktown, that, at any rate, its request should be attended to a little more promptly.
– There is only a handful of people there.
– That is the very reason why the promptest attention should be given to any representations made to the Department. Can the Minister give us any promise that the request respectfully submitted and reasonably urged by the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the people of Cooktown can be attended to? As he must know well, if it could be attended to, it would be a great boon to them.
– I have no recollection of having received, or seen at the External Affairs Department, any communication from Senator St. Ledger in respect to this matter, but it was brought under my notice by more than one member of the Senate, and the requests which they made were similar to those which he has made to-day, and which he said he made in an official manner some months ago. When a contract was let a considerable time ago Cooktown was not included. It was included in the previous contract. The Department has no power to make any alterations in regard to the existing contract. Therefore, Cooktown cannot be included, unless Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. are prepared to make it a port of call. When the Chamber of Commerce felt that, perhaps, it would be next to impossible to have Cooktown included, they were extremely desirous of . having their mails forwarded as speedily as possible. They stated, probably correctly, that if, on its return from Papua, the mail boat would drop anchor off Cooktown their mails would ‘ be delivered many hours earlier than is the case to-day, when they have to be landed at Cairns. I feel sure that both the External Affairs Department and the Postal Department are extremely anxious to facilitate, as much as possible, the convenience of the residents of Cooktown and the Chamber of Commerce.
– Oh ! it is a deserted village, anyway.
– I do not know whether Cooktown is deserted or not; but I know that in so-called deserted places postal conveniences are almost everything to the residents, and, as Senator Turley rightly observes to me, Cooktown is really a distributing centre for various mails. To my knowledge, the External Affairs Department got into touch with Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. in regard to the desire of the Chamber of Commerce to have the boats stopped for an hour or so, and anything which it can do - and I feel sure that anything which the Postal Department can do - to get them to acquiesce in that request will be only too gladly done.
– I desire to know whether this item of £4,963 for the mail service to the Pacific Islands includes the mail service to Papua ?
– Then I trust that a larger sum will be placed on the Estimates, in order to provide a very much better service, not only to Cooktown, but also to ports in northern Queensland. I am quite in sympathy with Senator St. Ledger’s request. I can recollect receiving a copy of the resolution which was passed by the Chamber of Commerce. We should do what we can to help the little places, because the big ones can always look after themselves. Having lived in the backblocks, I know that Cooktown is the kind of place which attaches special significance to the mail arrangements. I have recently been at Cooktown, and it appears to me that we are deliberately leaving it out in the cold. It is not quite so small as an interjection would make out.
– It was a very big place at one time.
– Certainly; and in the surrounding country there are possibilities which may make Cooktown a place of some importance again; but even if that were not the case, I shall always speak up .for the little back places, so that their people may live on equal terms with those in other civilized communities. I trust that there will be a larger sum voted to provide speedier mail communication with Papua.: It appears to me that that Possession, which has great possibilities ahead of it, can never be properly treated or developed until its people are brought into touch with those on the mainland. It is a matter of extreme regret to me that nothing has yet been done in the way of wireless telegraphy to link Papua up with the mainland, and give its people - nearly all of whom have relatives living at Cooktown or other parts of north Queensland - an opportunity to communicate with them, especially in cases of sickness. I trust that the matter will not be overlooked.
– What Senator Findley said makes me believe that I received from the Department a letter in reply to one I sent, which practically conveyed the information which he has conveyed to us to-day - that is, that there is a contract let, and that it cannot very well be varied. That, of course, is a departmental matter. But I take this objection - that if the Department wanted to vary the contract, and recognised the injustice done to Cooktown by the mail to that port being carried to a southern port, and then sent back again, I feel sure that the contractor could be approached, and that some variation could be made in the contract which would meet the wishes of the Cooktown people. I am prepared to say at once that the explanation offered by the Minister tallies with that which was made to me when I wrote to the Department on the subject. But I reply that if the Department would look into the matter it would probably be possible to make an arrangement with the contractors so as to alter the present method of running the steamer. I also wish to refer to item 14, under the heading “ Miscellaneous “ - Press Cable Service Subsidy £730. That subsidy, if I remember rightly, was granted on the condition that the persons receiving cable messages from abroad should receive a certain number of words per week. I should like to know whether a check is being kept on the number of words that come over the cable, or whether the subsidy is being paid without any such check? When information is furnished to me on that point I may give notice of a question to ascertain what number of words come through and a few other details.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) tS-31]- - I have to thank the Minister for his prompt and clear explanation regarding the question that I raised. But I wish to ask why the reply so made was not sent to me in the form of a letter ? Without undue egotism, I may claim that if there is one thing more than another, in connexion with my parliamentary duties, about which I am careful, it is not to go unnecessarily to the Commonwealth Departments, either to see Ministers or their responsible officers. Whenever I have to go on public business I do so with a certain amount of reluctance. But I think that honorable senators will agree with me that when I do have a communication to make to a Commonwealth Department a reply ought to be sent to me.
– Does the honorable senator complain of the discourtesy of any Department ?
– I hope that there has been no intentional discourtesy, but the Minister representing the Post? master-General stated that a communication containing the explanation of the Government had been sent to other honorable senators. If that be so, apparently an invidious distinction has been made. Why should that be so? In fairness to the Minister and his officers, however, I should say that it is just possible that a letter may have gone astray, because I have been recently away from Melbourne. If that be the explanation, of course neither the Minister nor his officials are to blame. Senator Chataway and Senator Rae have indicated the weak spot in the matter of the contract with Burns, Philp and Company. I dare say the company is conducting its business under the contract with the object of making as much money as possible. We are all, in reference to business matters, anxious to make what we can. The question is whether the contract price has not been cut down so much that Burns, Philp and Company cannot afford to concede even the few hours’ delay that the call at Cooktown would involve. Still, in view of the flourishing state of the finances of the Commonwealth, I consider that some concession might be made in the interests of the little port of Cooktown. The payment of an extra £20 or so ought not to prevent the wishes of the Chamber of Commerce being attended to.
– Senator St. Ledger has repeated that he forwarded a communication to the Department of External Affairs affecting Cooktown, two months ago, and has not received a reply. But before he sat down the honorable senator admitted that he had been absent from Melbourne for a considerable time, and that there was a possibility that a letter had gone astray. I have already assured him that the fullest inquiry will be made. Personally, I have no knowledge of having seen or received a communication from Senator St. Ledger, but, of course, every honorable senator is treated on the same basis in regard to departmental matters. It would indeed be a curious state of affairs if invidious distinctions were made in regard to departmental communications, and this Government would certainly be the last to do such a thing. As to the subject mentioned by Senator Chataway, I have to say that the press cable service subsidy was granted on certain conditions, which, I believe, provide that at least 6,000 words per week shall be transmitted. I have every reason to believe that the conditions governing the subsidy are being complied with, and that the Department does keep a check upon the number of words received. All the information available can be perused by any honorable senator who is interested.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [5-38l- - 1 desire to ask a question regarding the vote, £5,000 for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. I understand that this money is a portion of the £20,000 voted by Parliament for this purpose. I desire to know whether it is being used to advertise the resources of Australia with the object of inducing immigrants to come to this country, or whether it is used for any other object?
– It is for advertising the potentialities and resources of Australia.
– But in advertising the potentialities of this country is it intended to induce people to come here?
– What other purpose can it serve?
– I do not know whether payments under the Bounties Act are covered by the votes for the Department of Trade and Customs. If they are, I desire to inquire whether the Department has power to suspend the payment of the bounty for the production of iron and steel until the Lithgow labour trouble is settled ? This is a form of pressure which I think a Labour Government should bring to bear if it can, having in view the iniquitous way in which the men who are receiving this huge subsidy from the Commonwealth are treating their employe’s. I should like to know what the position is, because it seems to me that the way in which iron and steel production is being fostered is not likely to be of any permanent advantage to the Commonwealth, considering the manner in which the manufacturers, who are supposed to be pushing the industry, are conducting it, and the iniquitous manner in which they are treating their workmen. If we continue to pay these bounties to men who treat their employe’s in such a way any longer than we can possibly avoid doing so it will be a disgrace to a Labour Government.
– The bounties in question are not affected by this Bill at all.” _ They are paid out of a special appropriation, provided for by the Act which enabled the bounties to be granted. As long as the terms of the Act are complied with
I do not know that we have power to refuse to pay the bounties, unless we induce Parliament to repeal the Act.
– Are there no labour conditions ?
– There are labour conditions, and as long as the manufacturers can show that they are offering or paying the statutory rates of wages, I do not know that the Government have power to withhold the bounties. Whether the Act should be repealed is a question for the Government to consider.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; ‘ report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 5.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19110905_senate_4_60/>.