4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs the following questions : -
– The answers to the questions are: - .
– Is it proposed to insert an amendment in the House of Representatives ?
– Yes, if possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
How many notices of enrolment to electors in Victoria under the Commonwealth Electoral Act have been returned to the post-office owing to the addressees not being found by the postal officials?
What action (if any) is it intended to take to discover the persons to whom the cards are Addressed, and if not found to strike the names off the rolls?
– The Minister of Home Affairs supplies the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Under what regulations are country postoffices permitted to close on Saturday afternoons ?
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are-
Departmental Store, Darling Island - Commonwealth Treasury Building - Day Labour System - Estimates or Cost of Works - Federal Capital: Woollen Mills - Lighthouses - Defence Works : Fortifications : Drill Halls : Barracks : Mobilization Store Buildings - Small Arms, Harness and Clothing Factories- Man- oeuvre Areas: Remount Depots: Stabling : Horse Breeding - Fire Service, Victoria Barracks, Sydney - Explosion at Thursday Island - Rifle Ranges - Federal Territories - Military and Naval CollegesAmmunition Magazines - Garrison Artillery, Sydney : Supply of Clothing - Perth General Post Office - Wireless Telegraph Stations.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 2 1 st August, vide page 2433).
– I shall be pleased if the Minister in charge of the Bill can tell the Committee what is likely to be the total cost of the store at Darling Island, Sydney, for the purposes of public Departments. Generally speaking, a person obtains an estimate before he starts a work of this magnitude, and is able to say what the total cost may be. In my speech on the second reading of the Bill yesterday, I asked the Minister to give the Senate and the country an idea of the probable cost of this store at Darl- ing Island, in respect of which we are asked to re- vote £7,517, and to pass a new vote of £983.
– This building was in course of construction during the last financial year, and its total cost will be , £51,000. The item of £8,500 on the present Estimates will complete the vote for the building, which will be used for the storage of material for the Postal, Trade and Customs, and Defence Departments.
– I shall be glad if the Minister will let us know the amount which has been spent upon the building in Melbourne for the Treasury and other Departments, and how much will be required to complete the work. A few weeks ago the Senate made an order for a return of particulars relating to the construction of this building. A long time seems to be taken in preparing the return. It ought to have been ready before this time, I should think.
– This building is being erected for the Treasury. Last year £27,000 appeared upon the Estimates for the building, and £7,000 for the land. This£22,750 is intended to complete that portion of the building which is now in hand, and also to add another wing to it.
– -What will be the total cost?
– About , £56,750. That will be the cost of the present building, and of the additional wing which has only just been commenced. Yesterday certain information was supplied to honorable senators in the form of a return which was asked for at the instance of Senator McColl. That return was laid on the table, and I intend to read it to the Committee. The questions put by the honorable senator, and the answers to them, are as follow -
It may be noted that the State Public Works Department (Victoria) prepared an estimate of cost of constructing a building of about the same size as the structure now in question. Such estimate, presumably made on a “ contract “ basis, involved a greater cost per cubic foot than was contemplated in the estimate adopted by the Department of Home Affairs in connexion with the execution of the work by day labour.
The State Public Works Department’s estimate was £27,000 for a gross Boor area of about 33,000 square feet. The estimate of the Department of Home Affairs was £27,000 for a gross floor area of 41,000 square feet. The building is costing about £3,000 more than the original estimate, accounted for by the general increase in the cost of building construction. for the purpose of further comparison, it may be mentioned that tenders have recently seen received by the Commonwealth for a large building in Adelaide, and the price of the lowest tender is 20 per cent, mure per cubic foot than the cost of the new offices in Melbourne. t do not think that the honorable senator will derive much satisfaction from that return. The portion of the building for which tenders were called has been constructed by day labour at less than the lowest tender, and although 8,000 square feet have been added to the space origina71 v contemplated, the building will be completed at a cost within .£3,000 of the Department’s original estimate.
– The Minister of Defence is referring to a State building now?
– No. I am referring to a Commonwealth building. The stimate of the Department was ,£27,000 lor a floor area of 41,000 square feet, and 1 he State Department’s estimate for constructing a building of about the same size, presumably on a “ contract “ basis, involved a greater cost per cubic foot than was contemplated in the estimate of the Department of Home Affairs under the day-labour system. The estimate of the Department of Home Affairs for erecting a building of 33,000 square feet was £27,000, and the actual cost of completing a building which contains 41,000 square feet has been ,£30,000. I contend that in this case, which has been pointed to as une of the failures of the day-labour system, a comparison with similar work performed by contract in a neighbouring State, will show that a saving of 20 per cent, has been effected, and that the cost of the building has been kept well within the Department’s original estimate. So that my honorable friends opposite will get no change out of that.
– It is unfortunate that the return which the Minister of Defence has just quoted is not available to all honorable senators.
– It was laid upon the table yesterday.
– Probably it was. I am not blaming the .Minister, who has sufficient sins of his own to answer for without oblidging me to put upon his shoulders the sins of others. It is absolutely impossible to arrive at a definite conclusion as to the merits of the day-labour and contract systems from a perusal of any document such as the Minister has just read-
– Senator McColl arrived at a conclusion before he got the information.
– Senator Russell may persuade himself that no one in the Senate has a right to ask Ministers for any information of which he does not approve,, but the Opposition decline to accept such, a position.
– I referred to an assertion made by Senator McColl at a public, meeting
– I would suggest to Senator Russell, in view of recent events, that he should pay a little more attention to statements made by himself at public meetings. * Whatever the individual opinions of honorable senators may be asto the two rival systems of carrying out Government works, no one will believe that the matter can be settled by a comparison of this kind.
– Why was the return asked for, then?
– For the purpose of getting information, of course. But no one should expect, when asking for information from a Government like this, which is championing a particular system, that he will get anything which will enable him to attack that system. If he does, he has more confidence in the Government than I have.
– It is more reliable information than “ The man on the job story.
– I have felt confidence in the Government in this respect : that there would be no hope with their assistance of getting down to bedrock in regard to the matter to which the honorable senator refers ; and my confidence has not been abused.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the figures supplied’ are not correct?
– No, but 1 am pointing out how easy it is to give an appearance of supplying information whilst at the same time suppressing some. The Minister of Defence has read out figures to show the estimated cost of the building in question exclusive of certain items. The figures he gave do not represent the total cost at all, because the whole thing was; subject to certain items which were ex- cluded. Throughout the whole thing we had “ excluding this,” “ excluding that,” and “excluding the other.” I have no doubt that honorable senators opposite will go round and tell people that this return shows that the actual cost has exceeded the estimate by only £3,000. But they have cut out a lot of items.
– For furniture, does the honorable senator mean?
– No, not for furniture. The Minister gave us the estimated
Cost, excluding various essentials.
– The strong-room is not a part of the building.
– I gave the total cost of the building, exclusive of the cost of supplying the triple Treasury. But that was not included in the original estimate atall.
– That is the point. 1 want to know whether this thing was or was not included. When a Department puts forward an estimate of the cost of a building its estimate ought to cover everything.
– The Department could not give an estimate of the cost of the Treasury safe, because information could not be obtained in Melbourne. It had to be obtained from Great Britain.
– When they put forward an estimate of £27,000 we assumed that they made provision for everything.
– That makes it all the better for day labour.
– I am not arguing about day labour, but I say that a return of this kind does not help us a bit.
– That is the honorable senator’s trouble - that the return does not help him !
– Ministers and their supporters can take whatever comfort they like from this return. 1 do not believe that any question put by any honorable senator on this side, or by any one else, will ever be successful in obtaining from this Government, which is championing a particular system, information which will enable that system to be attacked.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Department would furnish whatever information it liked?
– These interjections are disorderly, and should cease.
– I am not worrying about this particular matter at all, because I quite recognise that when you institute a comparison between a particular job which is being carried out under one set of circumstances, and another job which is being carried out under quite other circumstances, the comparison is for all valuable purposes absurd.
– Two buildings can never be quite alike.
– Exactly; and therefore it is difficult to take one particular case and say, “ Under these circumstances a job was carried out by day labour more economically than it could have been carried out under the contract system”; and the reverse position is equally true. We cannot arrive at the truth in that way. We can only get at it by observation and investigation over a very much wider area, and conducted by more impartial judges than those who are directly involved in the management of one or other of the two systems. I do not expect an officer employed by a Government Department to carry out work on the day-labour system to give an impartial report on that system, nor would I expect a contractor, when giving his views of the situation, to be an unbiased judge. He is not.
– The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it.
– The difficulty is in finding out whether you are getting exactly the same kind of pudding every time.
– The honorable senator has tasted this pudding, and then has begun to grumble about it.
– Some people get on one horn of a dilemma, but the honorable senator is on two horns at once.
– I do not grumble at this return. I venture to say that the position that I have taken up will appeal even to Senator Rae in his more serious moments.
– Has the honorable senator read the report of the Victorian Chief Engineer in regard to railways?
– I rise to order. Is. the honorable senator in order in asking a question of Senator Millen as to whether he has read any report?
– There is no point of order involved. As I said before, all these interjections are disorderly.
.-It is somewhat strange that when an honorable senator desires to obtain information as to how the money of the country is being spent, he should be subjected to jeers and sneers and imputations, which are decidedly not fair. When I called for this return,
I did so because certain assertions had been made with respect to the cost of the new Treasury building, and I felt that information ought to be obtained onthe subject.
– Who prepared the questions for the honorable senator?
– I prepared them myself entirely. I hope that the honorable senator will accept that statement. I have been accustomed to preparing such particulars for many years in my own business.
– The honorable senator is a bit of an expert.
– I am not an expert on buffoonery, 1 am glad to say. Certain statements were made to me. I did not invite them. But as they were made I thought it right to try to find out the truth. I made no charges in respect of day labour, nor against any one concerned in the work. I simply asked for information, as I was entitled to do. I regret that it has been given with bad grace, and in such a spirit. But I am glad to have the information. It is satisfactory as far as it goes. I admit that frankly.
– Arising out of the explanation which the Minister of Defence has given, I desire to point out that we are called upon to vote nearly £3,000,000 of money, and it is highly necessary that one or two things should accompany the request of the Government for this expenditure. We ought to have details furnished with sufficient fullness to guide us as to what is the estimated cost of buildings proposed to be erected. We ought also to have information as to whether estimates of works in progress are being exceeded or not. Thirdly, we ought to have a general report to guide us more or less in our deliberations, and as to the votes we give. We should not have had so much discussion on this matter if such information had been supplied in connexion with the present Bill. I also point to the necessity of having if we are to spend enormous sums or buildings, an independent Public Works Committee, which will not be at the mercy of the reports of officers, who, as Senator Millen has pointed out, necessarily tend to be biased on the side on which they are working.
.- Some people are never satisfied. I remember that when Senator McCoIl first invited the Senate to order the production of this return, he spoke in a tone of voice which led me to infer that he had very little faith in day labour. He said, in effect, that when the particulars were furnished, we should be able to form a judgment upon the matter.
– Hear, hear !
– He seemed to me to throw considerable doubt upon the efficacy of day labour for the construction of works of this kind.
– The honorable senator should not have asked for the return at all.
– I have no objection to Senator McColl, or any other honorable senator, asking for returns. But the moment this return is supplied, the Leader of the Opposition gets up to throw discredit upon it. He says that it is worth nothing ; that it is necessarily biased, and, therefore, no one should pay any attention to it. I venture to say that if the return had been the other way, the Government would have been condemned outright, and would hardly have ever heard the last of it. The facts disclosed show that day labour in this case, instead of being ineffective, has been more effective and economical than if the work had been carried out by a contractor.
– It shows that the building has cost . £3,000 more than the estimate.
– Certainly ; but it also shows that the building provides 8,000 square feet more of floor space than the original estimate provided for; and, further, that the general cost of building material has, as every honorable senator must be aware, considerably increased since the estimate was framed. Senator Millen very carefully overlooked these facts.
– I did not overlook anything. “Senator GIVENS.- I am satisfied that the honorable senator is so mentally alert that he did not overlook them in his own mind, but he omitted to put them before the Committee. He tried to make another point by suggesting that certain items were excluded from the return; but the only item excluded was the cost of the steel treasury, or strong room, and the Minister has pointed out that the reason for that was that it could not he manufactured in Australia, and, therefore, no one knew what the cost of it would be. I would ask Senator Millen if a man putting up a warehouse or shop would expect the esti- mate of the building to include the cost of a safe in which to keep his books and documents ?
– We are dealing here with a strong room that is built intothe building.
– That is not so, because the strong room in the Treasury building is contained in the building, but is not built into it. One of its peculiar features is that it is open all round and underneath, as well as on top, so that any one attempting to interfere with it may be easily detected. It is connected with the building only by the small steel pillars, 6 or 7 feet high, on which it stands. So that Senator Millen is quite at sea in this matter. The whole trouble is that our honorable friends opposite are very much concerned because contractors are no longer given the opportunity to make huge profits from Government works.
– That is not a fair thing to say.
– It seems to me to be perfectly fair, because, on every possible occasion, honorable senators opposite try to discredit the system of day labour, and to extol the system of contracting.
– I ask the honorable senator not to go too lengthily into the question of contract versus day labour.
– The buildings we are now discussing are being constructed by day labour, and, with all respect to you, sir, I believe I am perfectly entitled to discuss whether they would cost more or less if constructed by contract.
– I was only reminding the honorable senator that the question was largely discussed on the second reading of the Bill, and the Committee are now dealing with particular items.
– The item with which we are dealing involves the whole principle, because the building referred to is being constructed by day labour.
– There is nothing in the Bill to show that.
– Honorable senators opposite have succeeded in eliciting that information from a reluctant Government. The return read by the Minister of Defence has shown conclusively that the work has been economically carried out, and is costing less than it would have cost if carried out by contract labour.
– There is no proof of that.
– There is proof positive in the return that the reinforced concrete work for which tenders were called has been carried out by the day-labour system for £200 less than it would have cost if the contractor’s tender for the work had been accepted. Any one who knows anything about such work must be aware of the tendency of contractors to slur their work through as quickly as possible, and that it is necessary to maintain a. whole army of supervisors to get faithful, work done by a contractor. We have had sworn evidence given in Melbourne by one large contractor for Government works, in the insolvency proceedings of Mr. John Robb, that on one 15 -mile section of the Cairns railway he made a profit of no less than£500,000.
– I ask the honorable senator not to go outside the item, which has nothing to do with a railway in Queensland.
– I am not discussing a railway in Queensland, but the question of contractors’ profits, in order to show how much more economical it is to have these Government works done by day labour. With all due respect to you, sir, I shall continue to discuss that until I am forced to resume my seat, and 1 shall then move to disagree with your ruling if it appears to me to be necessary.
– I did not declare my intention to prevent the honorable senator discussing anything which he is entitled to discuss under the Standing Orders. On the question before the Committee the honorable senator is entitled to compare the contract system with the daylabour system in relation to the particular buildings referred to, but he is not entitled to go beyond the item except briefly, by way of illustration.
– I was merely stating, by way of illustration, that in his insolvency proceedings in Melbourne, Mr. John Robb admitted, in sworn evidence, that he had made a profit of no less than £500,000 from the construction of 15 “miles of railway. That is one definite instance of the enormous profits which have been made by contractors out of Government works. It is up to any Government which has the welfare of the people at heart to save these enormous profits for those who have to find the money.
– That was the Robb case, but it was an exceptional one.
– There are several other cases nearly as bad as the Robb case. 1 venture to say that our honorable friends opposite are aware of many places in which contractors have made a competency out of Government contracts. So long as they did it in the ordinary course of business, I have no objection, but I hold that the Government have a right to find a way by which they can save these enormous profits from people who have to find the “ boodle.” Is it any wonder that our honorable friends opposite, who represent the people who generally grab all the unearned profits and unearned increments, are always ready to rise in arms against a system which deprives those persons of huge profits ? I hope that the Government will adhere strictly to the day-labour system in carrying out all public works, including railways. I would remind Senator Millen that were he leading the Government here to-day, he would have had to turn to this officer for a report when he wanted information regarding the construction of the Treasury building. Is it fair for him to say that officers are biased when they are simply quoting actual figures in regard to the cost of the building as compared with the original estimate? No. I trust that the Government will use their best efforts to see that the day-labour system is honestly carried out, and if that is done, I feel satisfied that the people will save very large sums in addition to having their public works carried out more faithfully than possibly could be done under the contract system.
– I have listened very carefully to the long discussion on this item. My complaint is that, except by asking for a return, we have no means of knowing the estimated cost of any work included in these Estimates. It is impossible for any honorable senator to bear in mind all the votes towards the cost of a building, which have been passed. It is utterly impossible when a Bill is brought forward on Friday to search the records of the Department for years to find out how much a particular building has cost up to date.
– Is there a case where you Fia ve asked for. information, and it has not been supplied ?
– If the information were available here, it would shorten the consideration of the Estimates to a large extent. I maintain that it should be available now. I do not know why Senator McColl asked for a return regarding the construction of the Treasury building. I have no objection to day labour so long as bond fide work is done for the money. If you have a good man, and he cannot get as good work out of the hands as a contractor could, he should be dismissed. Senator Givens knows the place from which I come, and is aware that I have been there for forty years. T have never been in favour of contract labour there. I do not think that many men have a better record than that. My desire is to see that the money is spent to the best advantage of the country. I wish to know if proper estimates of the cost of public works have been made. Senator Long, who has been the manager of a mine, knows that if he had gone to the directors for permission to put in a 200-feet level, they would have immediately asked for an estimate of the cost, and that if he had exceeded the estimate by very much, he would have been “hauled over the coals.” Instead of dealing with a small sum we are dealing with millions, and in the dark, too. I do not care whether the Government go on with contract or day-labour, so long as they get a fair return for the taxpayers. If you have good men I prefer day-labour every time, but unless there is a proper system of supervision you will not get a fair return. Sufficient information regarding the Treasury Building in Melbourne has not been supplied to us. In his speech the Minister of Defence said something about .£56,000 for the building, but I notice that it has got down to £33,000.
– That is for a new wing.
-The whole thing has got so mixed up that no honorable senator can find out what is correct. Our whole contention has been that we have not been furnished with a proper estimate of the cost of the building. We are now told that a certain portion has cost £33,000. But I want the Committee to see if that is a fair thing. Senator Givens said that there were certain matters to which I referred ; that things were costing a good deal more now than they did when the estimate for this building was framed. The Minister referred to a contract in Adelaide which cost 20 per cent, above the estimated cost of this building, but he did not Say a word to the effect that the prices of things had gone up as Senator Givens did.
– The report referred to the increased cost of material since the original estimate for this building was made.
– I have not seen the report.
– You heard the report read as I did.
– Yes; but the report is too long for me to remember. The Minister of Defence compares the cost of the Treasury Building with that of some building for which tenders have been called in Adelaide, but he said nothing about the material being so much dearer now. I want the whole thing to be put plainly before the Committee so that we may all know what we are doing. If we are provided with that information I am prepared to pass the item without further talk. I suggest that before we rise to speak the Government should tell us the estimated cost of any work towards the cost of which we are asked to vote a certain sum. I believe that if they adopt my suggestion they will shorten the proceedings.
– I am somewhat astonished that honorable senators on the other side should want figures other than those which have been presented in order to substantiate the position taken up by the Ministry regarding this item. Surely from the report presented by the Minister of Defence for the Home Affairs Department, it is selfevident that nothing but the best of work has been put in, and that nothing but the closest of scrutiny has been exercised.I feel satisfied that otherwise the first estimate would not have been so closely adhered to as it has been according to the report. I think that it demonstrates the desirability of the Government constructing public works by day-labour in preference to employing a contractor who might be able to make a very large fortune. I remember one or two contracts with which I came very closely in contact, but I presume that, as they do not relate to this particular building, 1 should not be justified in referring to them. We have had, for once, a refreshing breeze from the other side through Senator Sayers. I wish to compliment him upon his stirring declaration that he has always been in favour of day-labour against the contract system.
– You must always have day-labour, whether you have contracts or not.
– Let the honorable senator ask Senator Fraser whether the whole of his contracts were carried out by the employment of day-labour. I doubt it very much.
– All labour, or most labour, is day-labour.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about the system. If he would make inquiries he would find that first there is a contractor; second, that there are half-a-dozen butty contractors ; and, third, that there are a dozen butty contractors under them again, and, consequently, the contract system is a big sweating machine, at the head of which stands contractor No. 1, reaping the results of every man’s blood.
– Now you are coming to it.
– Of course the honorable senator knows the system of contracting well enough, and so do 1. We can congratulate the Government upon having been very judicious in this matter, and the people upon having been able to secure considerable advantages through their action.
– I wish to direct attention to the position which obtains in regard to the Federal Capital. There are some honorable senators who, like myself, desire to see work there pushed ahead, whilst others wish to see it retarded. But the view which I desire to impress upon the Government is that we ought to do one thing or the other. By spending little dribbling sums we are merely wasting money.
– Let us put off the building of a Capital for ten years.
– I am not in favour of postponing that work for ten minuies. But I would rather that not a single penny figured upon these Estimates in connex.on with the Federal Capital than I would see a small sum there like £110.000. 1 pre-, sume that a couple of hundred thousand pounds has already been spent there.
– No, not unless we include the cost of acquiring land. I do not think that the total expenditure has reached £100,000. The amount which has been expended upon works is £83,000.
– But there has been a good deal of other expenditure incurred. One has only to peruse the personal columns in our daily newspapers to see that there is a perfect pilgrimage of officers from the Department of Home Affairs to YassCanberra and back again. As a matter of fact, motor cars are even located at the railway station nearest to the Capital site to enable them to make frequent journeysto and from that site.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the use of motor cars as well as of laundries?
– Either we mean to go seriously ahead with the building of the Federal Capital, or we do not. If we do, .the way to do it is not to vote small dribbling sums such as £68,000, for the purpose. The expenditure of these small sums means that a generation will elapse before we shall have anything to show for our money. In the meantime, we are losing interest on the sums already expended, and we are sacrificing an equal amount by reason of the time of officials which is wasted in travelling backwards and forwards to the site. Those honorable senators who wish the building of the Capital to be proceeded with without delay, equally with those who desire to see the work at a stand-still, will agree that I am laving down a sound business proposition. At the j. resent rate of progress, we shall be just as far off having a Federal Capital in ten years’ time as we are now.
– How many years will elapse before we shall be within a measurable distance of getting into cur own home ?
– This money must be spent before the larger amount can be expended.
– The same statement was made last year. If these items represent preliminary expenditure which is necessary to enable the Government to embark upon a thorough business undertaking next year, the Minister should outline what is the nature pf that undertaking. The Government evidently think there is something to be done there, because they have found that the Territory can no longer get along without it being placed under the control of “ His Excellency.” Indeed, the Ministry are much more energetic in making appointments with these high-sounding titles than they are in transacting the business of the country. If we are only going to spend these small amounts, where is the necessity for appointing a Governor for the Federal Territory? Tt is quite possible, I suppose, that in the near future we shall have a Government House there. Indeed, we mav be inundated with invitations to attend Government House balls. Instead of rushing in to create new titles, and to make fresh appointments, the Government would be very much better employed in pushing ahead with the real work which requires to be done in connexion with the Federal Capital.
– Does not the honorable senator wish to secure a water supply there first?
– Yes; but Senator Vardon does not want a water supply, or anything else to be secured there. There are reports in the Department of Home Affairs to-day which suggest that if the Government had really desired it, this Parliament might have met at the Federal Capital after the next election. The officers of that Department have furnished me with a complete justification for saying that work at the Capital might have been pushed forward very much more energetically than it has been.
– In connexion with all big undertakings, it is necessary, before a large expenditure can be embarked upon, to carry out numerous works of a minor character. It would be folly to attempt to carry out the larger works until the preliminary undertakings have been completed. The small works in connexion with the Federal Capital will occupy time, although a great deal of money cannot be expended upon them. I hold in my hand a preliminary sketch of what requires to be done. It reads -
The acquisition of the 85,000 acres in the Federal Territory having been completed, embracing the site upon which the Federal Capital City will stand, the lands traversed by the pipe line to the Cotter River, the dam site and reservoir on the Cotter River, some of the land lying between the City site and Queanbeyan which will be traversed by the railway, the sewage farm, the outfall sewer, the afforestation area, &c. - the Department is now in a position to proceed with a section of the initial works preparatory to the establishment of the City.
Of these works, which it is proposed to undertake during the current financial year, the first is the purchase and erection of a power plant.
Obviously it will take some time before we get that power plant.
– Has the plan of the City actually been decided upon?
– No. But it will be by the time we are ready to do any work on the site. It will take time to secure that power plant, which will be a very essential factor in reducing the cost of all subsequent works.
This plant is for the purpose -df providing power to generate electricity for transmission to any part of the Territory where power is necessary in the construction of these works ; for example, the brick works, the pumping plant at the Cotter River, various machines in the construction of the dam, tunnel, service and pipe-head reservoirs, outfall sewer.
This plant has been designed, and will .be laid down in units, which units represent about 800 kilowatts. The plant will cost about £20,000.
I think I am correct in saying that tenders for the plant have been accepted -
It is also proposed to at once push on to completion the dam at the Cotter River for the conservation of water for domestic and civic purposes. The plans for this work are practically ready, and the site has been decided on. The dam will be about go feet high and will impound sufficient water to meet the requirements of the City for at least one year.
Obviously, until that work has been completed, we cannot proceed with those works which require a water supply.
– That work might have been begun two years ago.
– But it was not. It is being commenced now -
A pumping plant will be installed here to lift the water 830 feet to a pipe-head reservoir on Mount Stromlo, which will be placed in hand this year.
– Are all the works mentioned by the Minister covered by this amount? Will £100,000 provide for the whole of them?
– That sum does not represent their total cost, but merely the expenditure which it is proposed to incur during the current financial year. Obviously some of these works will extend over a longer period.
Tenders will be invited for the supply of the necessary pipes for the rising main and the service main, which latter will be taken from the pipe-head reservoir at Strom to the service reservoir at Red Hill, which commands the whole of the City area proper.
It is estimated that 90,000,000 (ninety million) bricks will be required for Government buildings and works alone in the Federal Territory, and it is proposed to erect a brick works at an estimated cost of £25,000 with an output of about 15,000,000 (fifteen million) bricks per annum. A suitable clay for brick-making purposes has been found and tested with excellent results at a site close to the City, and it is hoped that bricks will be made and delivered on the site for about 25s. (twenty-five shillings) per thousand.
It is obvious that, whilst we may make the bricks at the Capital, a large quantity of material will have to be brought there. If we are to obtain that material at an economic rate, we shall need a railway to carry it to the Seat of Government. Therefore, one- of the earliest works projected is the linking up of the Capital with one of the main line? of New South Wales.
– What do the Government allow for that?
– £[25,000. The line will be a short one, covering a distance of only about 7 miles -
It is proposed to at once proceed with the construction of a railway between the Capital City and Queanbeyan - a distance of about seven miles. “This it is estimated will cost about £25,000.
The roads throughout the Territory are now in fair condition, but it is necessary that a certain amount shall be expended to maintain them in that state. Tt is also proposed to proceed with the deviation of the road to the Cotter River from the Capital Site on an easy gradient to be formed and made for heavy traffic. Additional roads will be opened up where necessary, with a view to providing the best means of intercommunication possible between all parts of the Territory.
A further stock of Australian timbers to the extent of some £5,000 will be specially selected for joinery purposes at the City. These timbers will be stored and seasoned on the City site for use as required.
As a joiner myself, I say that that is a very necessary expenditure. and should be undertaken, at an early stage, because, whilst we have plenty of local timbers which are equal to any timbers in the world for joinery purposes, our difficulty is to get seasoned timber. Last year we purchased some timber for this purpose, and the amount on these Estimates is intended to add to our present stock -
A nursery for afforestation purposes has been prepared at “Acton,” where trees, plants, and shrubs will be propagated for use where necessary. It is proposed also to utilize an area at Strom, some six miles out of the City, as an afforestation nursery on a much larger scale, it being desirable to have practical demonstration as to those trees which are best suited for the conditions within the Territory.
The surveys of the boundaries of the Territory, the triangulation, classification surveys, surveys of holdings, &c, will be pushed on with all expedition. At the same time the survey for the location of a railway line from Jervis Bay to the Capital is in progress, and will be continued to completion. So far this survey has disclosed no serious engineering difficulties.
That is an outline of the work that is to be commenced under this vote. I say that to spend money on other works before these are put in hand would be merely waste. The proper course is the one that we are taking Whether it should have been commenced earlier or not is another question. The proper way, I maintain, is to carry out the work in such a manner as to make the subsequent work as economical as possible. The designs for the Capital have now been accepted, and a committee is at work to decide as to how much of those designs can be put into effect. By the time the plans are prepared for the Government buildings, the railway, the power plant, and the lighting works will be well in hand, and all things will be ready to proceed further. It will then be for Parliament to push forward with any speed that it desires with the-actual building of the Capital. But it is obvious that this preliminary essential work will take some time. The power plant itself has had to be ordered from England, owing to the fact that no electrical plant of that capacity could be made within the Commonwealth at a reasonable cost. It will take some time for the plant to be supplied. To suggest that we should proceed with building without the power plant, the railway, and the water supply, is not to recommend an economical course of procedure, but one which would entail a waste of money. The document I have read shows that the Government are proceeding expeditiously on economical and sound lines.
– I’ do not agree with the Minister when he says that the document which he has read shows that the Government are proceeding with due expedition in carrying out the work in the Federal Capital. The document proves entirely the contrary, as I shall be able to show.
Senn tor Millen.– Remember that it is an official document.
– I do not care about that. Reading the report in conjunction with these Estimates, and with the Minister’s comments, I should say that it proves exactly the opposite from what has been represented. Take one of the last items read out. A sum of ,£25,000 is put down for the building of a railway from Queanbeyan to the Capital. The Minister was asked by way of interjection if that sum was to come out of the £110.000 included in this Bill. He replied that so much of it as> will be necessary in carrying out the preliminary work will come out of the sum to be voted. I say that if the Government were in earnest the whole sum necessary for the construction of the railway would be spent this’ year. A Government which cannot build 6 miles of railway in twelve months cannot be said to be in earnest.
– It will be done if it can be done.
– Then the whole £[25,000 .will be spent.
– There are three items of £[25,000 each.
– Then there is- £25,000, or thereabouts, for a power plant ; there is the dam on the Cotter River, the pipe line, the pipe-head reservoir, and the reticulation scheme. According to the details read out by the Minister, the .£110,000 is not nearly sufficient to cover expenditure on these various works. The Minister recognised that fact, because he was careful to say that the sum covers as much of the cost as can be undertaken this year. I say again that if the Government were really in earnest in the matter, the whole of the works now contemplated1 could have been completed at the “present moment.
– But you did not give us the money.
– I have never declined to vote money after the site for the Capital was chosen. I admit that I put up a good fight before the selection was made, because I did not believe that YassCanberra was the best site. I am of the same opinion now. But Parliament selected this site, and I am prepared now to spend all that is necessary to complete the work. To show that the Government are not in earnest, let honorable senators remember that every Commonwealth industrial project that we enter into is always started somewhere else than in our own Federal Territory. We have established a Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, and a Cordite Factory in Melbourne. I venture to say that if the Minister of Defence will call for an unbiased opinion from his military advisers, they will tell him that from a strategical point of view, the very worst thing that could happen is to have the Cordite Factory in Melbourne.
– It is only right to say that the Small Arms Factory and the Lithgow factory were commenced before Yass-Canberra was selected for the Federal Capital.
– But we always contemplated having a Federal Capital. This Government is no more guilty than any other in the matter I have mentioned, except that it has more opportunities for commencing Commonwealth activities. But this Government, like its predecessor, appears to be disposed to establish these activities anywhere but in the Federal Capital. No doubt they will say that the place is not suitable. But they forced the site upon a reluctant Parliament, and carried the selection against a majority of their own party in the Senate. YassCanberra was then represented to be everything that was desirable. It was one of the most beautiful places on earth. Ministers were almost prepared to disrupt their own party rather than accept a vote against this most desirable site. But now it is not a fit place to start anything in ! If the Government were in earnest in this work, they would have recognised that the first essential for a city is a water supply. Two years ago, all the plans were made out for a water supply for the Federal City. Everything was ready for the making of a dam ‘on the Colter river, the pipe lines were marked down, the site for the pipe head reservoir was mapped out. Yet nothing has been done. The Government might have completed those works before to-day. I have seen a water supply for a city of 25.000 people, involving quite as much work as this will do, carried out in six months. Yet the Government reluctantly come along, and tell us, through the mouth of the Minister of Defence, that only a small amount can be spent this year towards carrying out all these projects. There ought to be no doubt about them. The railway ought to be built. The water supply ought to be completed before the end’ of the present financial year, and the Government to be in a position by that time to carry out the necessary work on the Capital itself. We have been given, as a reason why the Commonwealth Clothing Factory, the Woollen Factory, the Harness Factory, and the various other industrial activities could not be started in YassCanberra that there were no people there to do the work. There will never be people there until there is profitable employment for (hem ; and as soon as there is profitable work people will flock there wholesale. Soon there will be more hands than employment can be found for. But. we shall never get this place occupied, and establish a town - we shall never have anything hut a wilderness - unless we provide profitable occupation for the people. Let us establish industries there, and we shall have more hands than we need. But the Government want to placate Geelong on the one hand, and Lithgow on the other, and some other constituency in connexion wilh some other work, and consequently these various Commonwealth activities are scattered all over the country, to the neglect of our own Territory, which the Govern ment themselves forced upon a reluctant Parliament. If Yass-Canberra be so desirable a situation, why do they no.w tell us that it is of no use at all ? So long as they pursue a policy of trying to placate various sections in this way, so long will Yass-Canberra remain a wilderness. I have no axe to grind in this matter. I was, as every one knows, strenuously opposed to the choice of Yass-Canberra. I did my level best to prevent its selection, because I believed then, and I am convinced now, that it was not the best possible site. But this Parliament, having made the selection, something more should be done than has been done up to date. We should be in earnest about it. If we are not in earnest, we should not bother about the matter at all, but if we are, we should take steps to establish the Capital there at the earliest possible moment. At present, we are housed in the most inconvenient fashion in Melbourne. The State Government, it is true, has done everything possible to make things comfortable for the Federal Parliament. I say so much gladly, and give them every credit for it. They have given us the use of this magnificent building free of rent, and have placed many other facilities at our disposal. But if a member of this Parliament has occasion to visit the Commonwealth offices, he has to search round Melbourne to find some of them. They are here, there, and everywhere, in all sorts of odd corners. We are paying enormous rents, and suffering great inconvenience. In our own Territory, however, we have land at prairie value - obtained for a mere song. If we establish our Commonwealth activities there, we shall soon create a large population. The first result would be that this land which we have acquired would be enormously increased in value, and the people of Australia would make an enormous profit out of it. But it appears that some member of Parliament, or some constituency, some State, has to be placated, and the people of Australia do not matter. But I am here to see that the people of Australia get a fair deal in this matter. Another point which I want honorable senators to consider is this : We have been told that it would not pay to establish factories at Yass-Canberra, because the facilities are not there. But have all the disadvantages been taken into consideration? Has the enhancement of the value of bur. land been taken into consideration ? 1 Has the amount per head that we have to I pay . to the various States been considered ?
When we establish clothing factories, harness factories, ammunition factories, and so forth, in New South Wales, or Victoria, we employ some thousands of hands. Many of these have families and other persons dependent upon them. It may be said that we shall be employing and maintaining perhaps 12,000 people in these various industrial activities. For every one of them we have to pay 25s. per head under the financial arrangement with the States.
– All loss to the Commonwealth.
– Of course it is. We should have these people residing in our own Territory, and should create a new centre of Australia instead of carrying further the congestion that is already proceeding too rapidly in the enormous cities of Melbourne and Sydney. They are too large altogether in proportion to the number of people in the rural portions of Australia. In South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria, more than half the whole population live »n the big cities. There is more than half the population of South Australia in Adelaide.
– In the metropolitan area, but not in Adelaide itself.
– It is about the same in Queensland.
– It is not so bad in Queensland, and no thanks to the successive Governments, but because the capital of the State is situated in a corner, and the long coastline of Queensland does not conduce to centralization. In New South Wales, the population of Sydney is nearly a third of the whole population of the State, notwithstanding the existence there of such large cities as Broken Hill and Newcastle. That is not a system which is beneficial to Australia. When we have the opportunity to establish a new city in a considerable area of country which is now a wilderness we should avail ourselves of every possible means, not to add to the population of already congested cities, but to form an industrial centre in our own territory.
– The honorable senator is now advocating centralization in the Federal Territory.
– No. I desire, instead of adding to the number of people in Melbourne, to place them in an area of country that is now a wilderness, where we have obtained the land at a prairie value, instead of having to pay from £10 to £15 a foot frontage for it, as residents of Melbourne are obliged to do. All the facts go to show that the Government are not in earnest in this matter. The fact that nothing has been done after two years towards providing water supply, or towards the building of a little railway of 6 or 7 miles in length, is proof positive of that. The Minister of Defence has carefully explained that these votes are intended only to be towards the cost of carrying out the works mentioned during the current year. The Government may not spend half of this sum this year, and it is clear that they do not mean business. I agree with Senator Millen that we should either let the whole thing slide or go about the work seriously. If the Government, tackled the problem seriously there is no reason why, inside of five years, we should not have the Federal Parliament and officers of the central Federal Departments comfortably housed in the Federal Capital.
– I spoke in a somewhat similar strain on this matter yesterday, and while not wishing to go over the ground traversed by Senator Givens I may say that, although a representative of New South Wales, I cannot be charged with parochialism in this matter. I had to bear a good deal of abuse, and some criticism, from my own colleagues for being the only representative of New South Wales in the Senate who voted against the selection of YassCanberra as the site for the Federal Capital. In? similar circumstances I would do the same again, although I was threatened that I should be burnt in effigy if my vote caused the selection of the present site to be rejected. Whilst voting against the selection of this site I stated that once the matter was finally settled I should be no party to further obstruction, and would vote for any sum in reason that might be asked for to make a practical beginning with the establishment of the Capital. The statements made by Senators Millen and Givens are obvious. It is clear that very slow progress indeed is intended if £110,000 is to cover the whole of the expenditure during the current financial year on the various works referred to.
– And it may not all be spent.
– That is so. The idea that we cannot construct 7 miles of railway straight away is absurd.
– No one said we could not.
– The leisurely way in which things are going on justifies the criticism. I read some time ago that, in India, a railway for military purposes Was constructed at the rate of a mite per day, because there was some urgency for it. The only imaginable reason why we could not construct 7 miles of railway in twelve months would be that it was impossible to obtain the steel rails required. If it is possible to obtain the necessary rails there can be no difficulty in constructing 7 miles of railway in a few months. If this is to be the rate at which railway construction by the Commonwealth Government is to be carried on the Lord only knows how long we shall be in constructing the transcontinental railway. With reference to the provision for a water supply I may say that the moment the selection of this site was decided upon it was known that a water supply would be required. From the memorandum read by the Minister it appears that a 90-ft. dam is to be constructed to provide a sufficient supply of water for twelve months. I should be sorry to think that that is the way in which the work is to be carried out. A water supply, sufficient for the needs of the city, which may be expected to grow up on the Federal Capital site within the next few years, should be provided for at once. What apparently is to be provided for would be sufficient for only a handful of people.
– No; for a city of 250,000 people.
– Then I must have misunderstood the statement read by the Minister. I should still like to point out that if such a work is really to be hurried on it will absorb very much more of this vote of ,£110,000 than will be available if the railway and the other works referred to are to be gone on with. The whole of this vote of .£110,000 will be more than absorbed by three or four of these items, and, consequently, there can only be a very small expenditure intended upon each during the current financial year. The Minister’s argument, that we must first complete certain preliminary works, is sound, but there is still undue delay in the completion of that preliminary work, and an insufficient expenditure is being provided for.
– We could dawdle over the preliminary work for ten years.
– Of course we could. We might spend £1,000 on one work, and £[1,000 on another, and the trees which have been planted might be forest trees before we have begun with the serious construction of the Capital. . Perhaps some of our Victorian friends feel at home in this building, but there are many good reasons why honorable senators from other States should be housed in their own home free from the domination of the city newspapers of either Sydney or Melbourne, especially when by residing in the Federal Capital we should be enhancing the value of the land for which the Commonwealth has to pay, and which must remain idle until it is utilized. If there were art earnest intention to get on with the preliminary work, so as to enable us to lay the foundations of the permanent work of the Capital, there would be a larger amount of money provided for upon these Estimates for expenditure during the current financial year. T can imagine that the capacity of employing hands and in spending money might, in* certain circumstances, be limited. It might not be possible to have more than a certain, number of men employed in the construction of a dam, but when we have so many works which might be carried out at the same time, there is ample scope for the expenditure during the year of a very much larger vote than that which appears in the schedule to this Bill. If there is to besomething like reasonable celerity in giving effect, not merely to the letter, but to the spirit of the Constitution in this matter, a very much larger sum than is set down here should be provided for in these EstimatesSenator SAYERS (Queensland) [4.5].– I thoroughly indorse what has been said by Senator Givens. I know of a localauthority representing a population of only 25,000 people that erected a concrete dam, 24 feet at the base and about 130 yards long, inside of four months. Here we have the Commonwealth Government, aftertwo years, submitting a vote on account for a dam, and the money we are votingmight not be expended within the next twelve months. Each of these works may be carried out separately. I have been toQueanbeyan, and I am sure that the Government could get an estimate from the Works Department or from people outside on which they could call for tenders for the railway to the Federal Capital, and have it constructed inside of nine months. We are told by the Minister that this wort will be done if it can be done. The statement is laughable. The Department have all the money they need in hand, but they prefer to dawdle along. Two years ago we hear’d a lot about the water supply which was to be provided for the Federal Capital.. I travelled from Sydney with Colonel Owen, the Director-General of Works, and I understood from the conversation I had with him that the water supply would be all fixed up within six months. Now we are told that the Government are going to begin the work. Do they mean to establish the Federal Capital, or do they not? To say that no more than about £100,000 can be spent in the Federal Territory to provide for a water supply, a railway, and the other works mentioned within twelve months is to make us a laughing-stock for people outside. We might spend twice that sum to advantage. We have purchased the land, and the money with which we purchased it is lying idle, without interest, whilst we are paying large sums for the rents of Federal offices in Melbourne.
– Nothing of the kind. We are getting a return of ,£4,800 per annum. ».
– I say that we are carrying on the Federal Territory at a loss every year. Judging by these Estimates the Government do not intend to proceed with the construction of the Federal Capital in a business-like manner. I do not think that any member of this Parliament, with the exception perhaps of some Victorian members, objected to the amount which was placed on the Estimates last year for expenditure on the Capital, but we find that even that amount was not expended, and a portion of it is put down to be re-voted this year. If I represented the State of New South Wales I should want to know whether the Government intend to deal with this business in a workmanlike manner or not. I noticed the other day that the Victorian State Government are considering whether they should not ask us to pay interest on the cost of this building. I would not blame them if. they charged us si Per cent., because we are not taking proper steps to erect our own parliamentary building.
– They are following the example of New-. South Wales.
– Yes, and justly so, too. If the Commonwealth had to pay rentfor a residence there, !’ do not ‘see why they should not do so here. In my opinion, they should have come down with an energetic programme of public works for the Federal Capital. At the rate at which we have proceeded during the last three years, fifty years will elapse before we are settled there ; and none of us will be alive then. Apparently the Government will not carry out these works, and very likely their successors may say, “ We will shift the Capital to another site,” and all the expenditure there will have been wasted.
.- Although I did not agree with the selection of Yass-Canberra, I think’ it is necessary for us to proceed in this matter in an uptodate and business-like manner. I am not complaining of the Government at all, because I recognise that £110,000 will go a long way towards initiating the various works which are essential for a Capital such as we desire to establish. In refuting statements which have been made by some honorable senators, I wish to put on record a few figures showing that, from the standpoint of finance, the Federal Capital, established, as I think, in not the best site, will not be the white elephant which some of its opponents would lead the country to believe. According to an official statement I have received from the Minister of Home Affairs, the expenditure up to date on the Federal Capital has been a little over £99,000, which, of course, covers the cost of surveys, &c. The amount paid by the Commonwealth Government for the rental of buildings in Melbourne for public offices which will eventually be transferred to the Federal Capital, is a little over £9.000 per annum. The amount of rental received from properties acquired by the Commonwealth in the Federal Territory, and now leased, is £4,800 per annum. Yet Senator Sayers says that we are getting no return, no interest on the expenditure which we have incurred.
– Does the official return show how much we are paying for officers’ expenses and other outgoings ?
– No. *If we are paying in Melbourne a total rental of £9,000 a year for buildings which will eventually he transferred to the Federal Capital, that, capitalized at 5 per cent., would mean £180.000; whereas, accord-, ing to (his return, we have only spent in the. Federal Capital Territory £99,000. The rental of £4,800 from the leased lands, capitalized at 5 per cent., would mean1 £96.000. Yass-Canberra is, I repeat, not the best site that could have been chosen ; but I am prepared to loyally abide by the decision of both Houses. It is necessary that this amount should be appropriated for works and buildings. We cannot dillydally with the building of the Federal Capital. Either we must make the best job we can of an unsuitable site, or we must do nothing. The Government are to be commended upon grasping the nettle firmly with the hand and going on with the construction of the works which are essential. I am glad to have had this opportunity of placing on record these few facts to show that all the money which has been spent there has not been placed in one great sink, but that some of it has remained on the surface and we are getting some return.
– That is from the land which the Commonwealth got from New South Wales for nothing.
– That I cannot say.
– It is costing the Commonwealth a lot more in official salaries to get that return.
– I made the statement on the authority of an official return, and the return of £4,800 a year, capitalized at 5 per cent., would mean £96,000.
– You are making out that the Commonwealth is getting that return from its expenditure, but it is not.
-The honorable senator says that in the great town of Charters Towers, in six months they built a reservoir to supply a population of 25.000. He was the Chairman of the Water Supply Board - he, the great, glorified Senator Sayers.
– Who said so?
– Owing to his own efforts, and assisted by others-
– Who said so?
– Owing to his own efforts, and assisted by others-
– You are a mean man, Blakey ; that is all I can say.
– On a point of order, sir, I desire to ask if that remark is in order ?
– What remark does the honorable senator object to?
– I object to Senator Blakey bringing my name into the matter, because ‘he has no authority for doing so.
– Does Senator Blakey say that a remark has been made to which he takes exception? .
– I certainly do, sir. I say, with all due respect to Senator Sayers, that he was Chairman of a Water Supply Board.
– I did not hear any remark. Does the honorable senator desire some remark to be withdrawn?
– Yes. I do not like Senator Sayers making the accusation that I am a mean man.
– Where did you get the information ?
– The honorable senator told me.
- Senator Blakey takes exception to a remark by Senator Sayers, which he desires to be withdrawn.
– Oh, I withdraw it, Mr. Chairman.
– On a point of order, sir, you called upon Senator Sayers to withdraw a remark, and he said, “ Oh, I withdraw it.” I think that he ought to have the decency to stand up and withdraw the remark.
– My desire was to see the business carried on without undue delay. I do not desire to waste time.
– There is no waste of time.
– I am quite willing to. get up and withdraw the remark.
– Would I be in order, sir, in moving a dissent from your manner of conducting the business. I object to the withdrawal of the remark being made in the manner in which it was. If there is any possibility of having the withdrawal made in a proper way, I shall take the necessary steps to that end.
– Mr. Chairman,F withdraw the remark.
– On a point of order, sir, you demanded the withdrawal of a remark, and 1 submit that the manner in which the withdrawal was made was disrespectful to the Chair, as well as to the Senate.
– I demanded & withdrawal of the remark, and Senator Sayers immediately withdrew it.
– But I object to the manner in which he withdrew it.
– Order ! Senator Sayers withdrew the remark in a manner which I did not take as an affront to the Chair, although he was not on his feet-
My desire was to see the business carried on without undue delay, and, consequently, I did not take exception to it.
– After this “ storm in a teacup “ which Senator Sayers created, I wish to say that when I used the remarkI had no desire to offend him, or to use any term derogatory to any honorable senator.
– This is the first time I have known an honorable senator to make use of a private conversation on the floor of the Senate.
– If the honorable senator made the statement to me in a private conversation, I did not take it that I was breaking a rule of the Senate. He told me in private conversation that he was Chairman of a Water Supply Board at Charters Towers, and that he constructed a weir in six months. IT he thinks that, in any way, I have not acted the part of a gentleman, or that I have divulged a private conversation, I will apologize to him.
– I do.
– I thought that every honorable senator knew that Senator Sayers was connected, and I say all credit to him if he was, with a Water Supply Board.
– Is that why you referred to him as the great and glorified Senator Sayers - to be complimentary?
– Nothing of the kind.
– This is the first time that 1 have known an honorable senator to stand up and do a thing like that.
– The honorable senator must be getting either pretty thinskinned, or into his second childhood.
– Order ! I ask Senator Blakey not to continue in this strain of personal recrimination. Explanations have been heard on both sides, and he should now discuss the question before the Committee.
– Out of respect to you, sir, I will desist. Even although this or any other Government have not erected a weir at the Cotter River at a height of 82 feet, it does not follow thatthey are not carrying out their duty of providing a supply of water to the few inhabitants in the Federal Territory. It is of no use to go on with all these works and expend money until there is a population there to receive the benefit, whether it be of water supply, electricity, gas. sanitation, or sewer age. There is no analogy between the cases of the country towns which have been cited and the case of the Federal Capital. I am pleased to know that the Government are proceeding in a straightforward way to expend upon the Federal Capital the money which is voted by Parliament. I trust that the work of building that city will be carried out in the best interests of Australia.
– I should like some information in regard to the position which the Commonwealth occupies in relation to lighthouses. In New South Wales I have had occasion to bring variousmatters connected with lighthouses before’ the navigation authorities, and I have observed that every demand made for reform is met with the statement that it is anticipated that the Commonwealth will soon be taking over the control of lighthouses. This statement is made an excuse for inaction.
– The following is an official statement in regard to lighthouses -
As the control of coastal lighthouses has been taken over by the Commonwealth, it is necessary to provide funds for the following : -
The maintenance of existing lights;
Alterations to existing lights;
Such new works as may be found requisite.
The Department of Trade and Customs has secured the services of Commander Brewis as lighthouse expert, who is engaged on the inspection of the coastal lighthouses, and is advising as to the alteration and new works which in his opinion are requisite to safeguard navigation in this direction.
The requirements will prove to be extensive; in fact, although Commander Brewis has only dealt with the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria (south-east coast), and Tasmania, he considers an expenditure of . £382,000 will be necessary to bring these coasts into an efficient state.
It is, of course, impossible to spend that amount in any one year, and, in addition, certain requirements are more urgent than others.
In regard to the extensive requirements it may be mentioned that in all States the total is larger than it ordinarily would be, owing to the fact that the States have not kept pace with the requirements during the last ten years, because of the probable transfer of the lighthouse service to the Commonwealth.
The proposed cost of construction when spread over a period of six years is moderate when it is considered that in Great Britain - where coastal lighting has been steadily proceeding since the year 1685- -the expenditure on new construction and improvement of existing lights for the six years ended 1905 has reached , £95,853 per annum.
The following services have been authorized : -
– Have they been definitely taken over?
– I am not able to give the honorable senator that information, but I will obtain it for him during the course of the evening. My own impression is that the actual transfer has not yet taken place, but that preparations for it are being made.
– I should like to know what the Government intend doing in the matter of establishing a light between Rockhampton and Percy Island, and also lightship between Thursday Island and Port Darwin. These are probably the two most important beacons along the Queensland coast. Do the Government intend to do anything of importance in this connexion during the current financial year?
– This year it is proposed to spend a larger sum upon lighthouses in Queensland than is to be expended in any other State. The total expenditure in Queensland, of which this vote represents but the commencement, will be £17,625. Seven new lights will be established there, and alterations and additions will be made to six existing lights. I have not the details as to where these new lights will be located. In the Northern Territory two new lights will be provided, and alterations and additions will be made to two existing lights. Of course, the Minister will be guided in this matter by the reports of Captain Brewis, who has recently visited the Queensland coast.
– When shall we have information as to where the seven new lights will be placed on the Queensland coast?
– The report of Captain Brewis has been circulated, but if honorable senators desire that information I will obtain it during the course of the day.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) [4-351- - I would remind the Minister of Defence that a report on the lighting of the Queensland coast was prepared by Captain Brewis, which, according to a circular received from one of the Departments, has been withdrawn. That officer, I understand, has since submitted another report. Upon the motion for the third reading of this Bill, I would like the Minister to tell us what is the difference between these reports.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [4.36I. - I notice upon these Estimates that the’ item “ Drill halls “ frequently occurs. In addition to providing drill halls at particular places we are asked to authorize the expenditure of a lump sum of £80,000 for the acquisition of sites for the mobilization of stores and for drill halls. Is that £80,000 intended to cover the cost of purchasing sites for drill halls for which provision has already been made, or does it include the purchase of sites for additional halls?
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) T4-371- - The small amounts on these Estimates for drill halls at particular places are intended to cover the ordinary works which would have been carried out under the old organization. Throughout the Commonwealth there are many drill halls, and from time to time it becomes necessary to extend them by adding to them, perhaps a store-room or officers’ quarters. Wherever such items appear in the ordinary Estimates they relate to extensions of existing works.
– There is no acquisition of land associated with them?
– No. Where the item is a small one, involving the expenditure of a couple of hundred pounds, obviously it relates to additions to existing drill halls. But Parliament is also asked to authorize a special vote for drill halls to meet the demand for accommodation owing to the establishment of the new Senior Cadet organization. I intend at a. later stage to explain how it is proposed to spend this money, and why we are not in a position to furnish particulars as to sites. The other amounts which Parliament is asked to appropriate in this connexion are intended to make the provision which is required for the existing Militia Forces.
.- I notice a number of items in regard to which sums are set down “ towards cost.” I should like to have some information with regard to item to, “ Emplacement and works for fixed defences, guns, and lights “ ; item 12, “ Accommodation for increase of establishment of Royal Artillery Engineers”; item 25, “Buildings at Moore Park”; item 26, “Drill halls, Newcastle”; item 32, “Naval establishment, Spectacle Island, Sydney “ ; and item 35, “ Victoria Barracks - Erection of buildings.” Can the Minister tell us what the total expenditure on these works will be?
– As to item 12, there is a foot-note in the general Estimates that the total estimated cost is £2,200. I cannot, at the moment, give the honorable senator any information as to item 10, but I am under the impression that the amount set down, ,£15,000, will be practically the whole sum required. For some years we have been re-arming our fixed defences. There was a large expenditure on account of this item last year, and the amount now voted will, I think, be the total required. I cannot give exact figures as to the drill halls at Newcastle, but there is a foot-note in the Estimates showing that the total estimated cost is £2,000. As to item 32, the total cost will be £8,000. As to item 34, my recollection is that the total will also be about £[8,000. I cannot at present give the exact figures regarding item 35.
– - There are three items to which I may refer, Nos. 19, 20, and 21. Item 19 is a vote of £9,500 for the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. Is that work not completed yet? I was under the impression that all the expenditure necessary was provided for in the last Estimates. It may be that the money now required is for unexpected additions. Item 20 involves an expenditure of £[1,000 on improvements and water SUpPlY of the military site at
Liverpool. Is that what we know in Sydney as the military encampment area? If so, a question is involved as to the expenditure of money upon it. My recollection is that the area belongs partly to the State and partly to private owners, and is used by the military for encampment and manoeuvre purposes. Negotiations were in progress some time ago to enable the Commonwealth to procure proprietary rights. It is desirable, before any money is spent, that some definite arrangement should be made to enable the Commonwealth to become either the proprietor of the land, or to have an agreement that will give security for the money we spend upon it. Item 21 is one of £[10,000 for the site for remount depot for artillery horses at Liverpool. ls that site within the Liverpool encampment area ? It is undesirable to spend a considerable sum of money on an area over which we have no control. At the time I last inquired, it was not at all certain that we should remain there.
– The explanation which Senator Millen has suggested regarding item 19 is correct. The £9,500 required is to pay off the remaining liability on the plant at the Small Arms Factory.
– Is this the last payment that will be necessary ?
– As far as I am aware it is. The sum includes, in addition, the final payment for a subsidiary engine. With that exception, the money is to pay off liabilities previously incurred. The. expenditure of ,£1,000 on improvements and water supply at the military site, Liverpool, is necessary, whether we purchase the area or not. The area has been used for many years as a military training ground, and will continue to be used, whether the Commonwealth acquires possession of it or not.
– Is the Minister arranging for water supplies at other military areas?
– Yes, wherever we can. With regard to the resumption of the Liverpool area, negotiations have been proceeding for a considerable time. Part of the land is owned by the State. Some of it is privately owned. The State Government made the proposal that it should resume the privately-owned land, and lease the whole area to the Federal Government. That has been the basis of negotiations. I understand that finality has not yet been reached.
– Negotiations have been proceeding for years.
– I admit that they have been pending a long while, but not for lack of pushing on the part of the Federal Government. I understand that the prospect of coming to an agreement is now more hopeful. One of the factors that was retarding the settlement was the question of the payment of 3 per cent, on transferred properties. That difficulty has now been adjusted, and we are hopeful that we may come to an arrangement. The remount depot, on which we are spending £10,000, is also at Liverpool. The depot is situated on what is known as Cunningham’s Farm. We not only have the farm itself, but a large area of land which is used for training horses.
– What is the area of the £10,000 farm?
– Between 400 and 500 acres. It is on the bank of George’s River, and includes some very good land. It is considered by the military people to be a desirable place for the purpose.
– The price works out at £22 an acre.
– It must be remembered that there are residential buildings and sheds upon the property. Sheds are necessary for the horses, and there must be proper acommodation for the men who look after them. The acquisition has been carried out by the Home Affairs Department, which has expert land valuers upon whom we can rely to see that the Government get a fair deal.
– Does this amount include the salaries of the land valuers?
– No, they are officials of the Department. Whether the whole of the Liverpool area is acquired or not, it is considered desirable that this remount dep6t should be owned by the Commonwealth. We now have horse depots in all the States. The horses for the artillery are given a certain amount of training during the week, and are also used to some extent for cultivation. At our depot at Maribyrnong, for instance, we have land on the river flats, under lucerne cultivation. In that way we keep down the expense of maintaining the horses. The men in charge of them take them in to the batteries when they are required, and take them back again when the training is over.
– I am pleased to hear the Minister’s statement, which suggests that the negotiations for the acquisition of the horse depot have not been concluded. It would be idle for me to say whether or not the land in question is worth £22 per acre. All that I can say is that there is a good deal of land in that country for which £22 would be twice as much as it could possibly be worth.
– This land is superior to that round about. It is river flat country.
– I know something of the country, and though I am not in a position to say that there is not some pocket of land that may be worth £22 per acre, nevertheless the value seems to be remarkably high.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence for some explanation of the vote of £1,000 for improvements to the fire service at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney.
– The object of the vote is to improve the existing fire service. As increasing quantities of dangerous material are being kept in the buildings, it is considered necessary that we should have a more efficient fire service there than we have had in the past, and this sum has been put down to provide for it.
– Perhaps the Minister in charge of these Estimates can give us some information with regard to the Clifton Hill Harness, Saddlery, and Leather Accoutrement Factory, and the Clothing Factory, Melbourne. Have there been any balance-sheets issued to show the results of the operations of these factories, and the cost and value of the work they turn out? We should have some information on these subjects. I should also like the Minister to say whether the Clifton Hill factory has taken over all the making and repairing of mail bags which has hitherto been done by the Postal Department. If that be so, who are making the bags now? Are they the trained hands engaged on the work for the Post and Telegraph Department, or have fresh hands been taken on at the factory for the purpose? If a fresh staff has been engaged, the Minister might say what the men who have hitherto been doing the work of the Post and Telegraph Department are doing now.
– In reward to the first question, I may say that balance- sheets have been prepared. I had them before me this morning, and gave instructions that they should be submitted to the Auditor-General for Audit. When they have been audited, the Government will lay them on the table, and have them printed and circulated to honorable senators.
– It is a pity that we had not the balance-sheets before we were called upon to discuss these Estimates.
– If we had, the cry would probably be that the balance-sheets would give us only the word of the managers of the factories, and that the AuditorGeneral should have been asked to certify them. They will be audited long before the session closes, and honorable senators will have an opportunity to bring the Government to book’ if they show that the factories have not been a success. I can only say that, from the figures supplied to me, both the Harness Factory and the Clothing Factory appear to be making their goods at less than contract prices, and are also turning out good articles. With regard to the honorable senator’s second question, it is true that the Post and Telegraph Department formerly did a lot of this work. We are hoping that the Commonwealth Harness Factory will be able to do it in future, and that is why we are asking, on these Estimates, for a vote to extend the factory. None of the men who have been doing the work of the Post Office will be displaced as a result. .
– Are they transferred to the Harness Factory ?
– No. There is no room there; but, in any case, they will have enough of the same class of work to do in the future. The work of this kind which will be done at the factory is work which used to be done by contract.
– I should like to ask the Minister .of Defence to inform the Committee as to the conditions under which workers are engaged in the Harness Factory and the . Clothing Factory. I should like to know what hours they work, the wages they receive, and, generally, the conditions of their employment. One honorable senator was desirous of ascertaining the value of property, and, as I think the lives of workers are much more important, perhaps the Minister will give the Committee some information as to the conditions of employment in these factories.
– In the Harness Factory the eight hours system is observed ; the minimum wage paid is per week ; the employes have fourteen days’ leave annually on full pay, are paid for all overtime at trade union rates, and are given and paid for all public holidays. With regard to the Clothing Factory, the rates paid represent a considerable percentage above the Wages Board rates for similar labour ; the hands are paid for the same holidays as are the hands in the Harness Factory. In both factories, they are provided with a comfortable luncheon-room, and in the case of the Clothing F’actory we provide the employes with tea, sugar, and milk.
– And still turn out work under contract prices.
– That is so.
– What is the cost of production ?
– I have just said that I am having the balance-sheets audited by the Auditor-General.
– What is the good of the argument, if we do not know the cost of production?
– The figures have been compared with the lowest contract prices for each article produced, and the factory prices are shown to be below the contract prices. We are paying higher wages than are paid by private firms ; we give the hands in the factories better conditions, and pay them for all holidays, and we are getting better service from the workers as well as better articles.
– I wish now to refer to a matter which I have brought under the notice of more than one Government without any satisfactory reply. I wish to know whether the Government are prepared to take Parliament into their confidence as to the truth about the wonderful explosion that took place some time ago in the fort at Thursday Island. It may be said that on high political grounds it is unadvisable to reply to this question, but I want to know how the explosion came about. It was believed that certain members of the Defence Force stationed at the time at Thursday Island deliberately tried to blow up the fortifications. I ask the Government whether they are prepared to state their view of the matter, or whether, on the ground of high policy, they think it better not to answer the question.
– In answer to the honorable senator, I can only say that the matter remains a complete mystery. There is no question of high policy involved, but there has never been any clue discovered as to the cause of the explosion, nor has any one ever been implicated in the matter.” Nothing is known as to the cause of the explosion.
– At page 12 of the schedule, there is a vote of £100 set down for “ Fortifications,” under the expenditure for Queensland. At page 13, there is another vote of £200 for new works under the same heading, and at page 15 there is a vote for £250 for the Thursday Island magazine, Green Hill fort. I do not think that Parliament will grudge any necessary expenditure for fortifications. Looking through the reports of defence officers, I find that the matter has occupied the serious attention of the Inspector-General of the Forces in connexion with the training of officers and men for the permanent garrisons of our forts. The votes to which I have referred seem to be small, but if they represent part of a well considered scheme of fortifications, I should not be prepared to raise any objection. From a superficial knowledge of the subject, I am inclined to believe that perhaps the most important position for an Australian fortification is Thursday Island, and probably the next in importance is Townsville. Townsville is one of the richest ports in Australia, and that it requires consideration ii» the matter of fortification is mentioned in Lord Kitchener’s report, as well as in other military reports. I should like to know whether the Minister of Defence is satisfied with the work being done at these two places in this connexion.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence to say what is the intention of the Government with respect to the equipment of the Thursday Island fortifications. Formerly the guns mounted there were considered by military experts as not being powerful enough to resist attack by a certain class of vessel, and it has been recommended that more powerful guns should be mounted there. What is the intention of the Government in the matter?
– These are always difficult questions for me to deal with in the open. There are some state ments which I cannot make, but which 1 shall be quite prepared to give honorable senators privately. The item of £100, referred to by Senator St. Ledger, has little or no significance; it simply provides for an addition to the fort.”- at Lytton. Regarding the item of £200 for fortifications, on page 13, that ‘is for a new work, and it also is of very little significance, but item 12, which the honorable senator overlooked, and which deals more particularly with what Senator Givens raised - an item of £1,500 - is a very important one, because it is towards a total cost of £35,000, and does involve the question of Thursday Island. The Inspector-General has just returned from a visit to Thursday Island, where he was sent to investigate this question, and the Council of Defence is to again discuss it. As to what the intentions are I cannot say, but in regard to the point about Townsville I can only say that Senator Givens is quite mistaken if he thinks that Lord Kitchener recommended the retention of the fortification at Townsville. There is no such recommendation either by Lord Kitchener or by Admiral Henderson, and there is no item on these Estimates for an increase of the fortifications there.
– A war boat could not get into Townsville.
– The biggest boat in Australia can get in there.
– In any case, there is no recommendation by the naval or military advisers of the Commonwealth, past or present, for the extension or the retention of Townsville as a fortified port. As regards Thursday Island, I can only say that the Government do regard, not Thursday Island itself, but that locality, as a very important point, and we hope to be able during the present year to take action which will make that fort, at any rate, more effective than it is at present. It will probably involve a radical departure from what has been done, but more than that I am not in a position to say at the present time.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [5.15J. - Under the head of Queensland I see an item of £1,560, including a re-vote of £1,200, and a new vote of £360 for rifle ranges. When I was up north last year 1 was informed that a large number of young men had applied for a rifle range, and, I believe, done most of the work. For some reason or other the application has been hung up for twelve or eighteen months, although a sum of £1,200 was unexpended last year. The place I may mention is Yungaburra. The young men could get nothing done; they could not even get a range proclaimed. I ask the Minister of Defence if anything has. been done in this matter, and what rifle ranges the Government intend to proceed with.
– I am almost disheartened at the position regarding rifle ranges. It is almost an impossible position. A rifle club is formed and a range is selected. The range is sometimes on private land, but, generally, the club tries to get Crown land for the purpose. When the club applies to the Defence Department to be gazetted, an officer is sent up to see whether the site is, or is not, suitable. On his return he makes his report, and if he says that the site is suitable the Department tries to obtain the land. If it is private land we have to ask the Home Affairs Department to resume the site, but if it is Government land we have to ask that Department to approach the State Government. We have to wait till the State Government grant us a permissive occupancy before we can do anything at all. After that permission has been granted the Home Affairs Department proceeds tq get out the plans, and construct a range, or the Defence Department may take the initiatory action.
– By that time the men have got sick of waiting.
– By that time a number of those who formed the rifle club have become disgusted and given it up. It is easy to see the difficulty, but the trouble is to find a way out. We cannot compel the State Departments to act more quickly than they are prepared to do.
– For defence purposes you could take possession of the land at once.
– For defence purposes, we could; but I do not know that we could do so for a rifle range. In any case, we do not care to exercise the power of land acquisition, because all that we want is a permissive occupancy. If we had to resume the land, it would be very costly to the Commonwealth.
– Is there a desire on the part of the States to assist you in that direction ?
– I hope so; though I should like to see more evidence of it. Seeing that with the modern rifle a lot of land is needed to cover the danger zone, it would be impossible to provide the requisite number of rifle ranges by means of acquisition, because the cost would he prohibitive, lt has been suggested that the Defence Department might take on the work of constructing rifle ranges without the intervention of another Department. That is a mattei on which I am conferring with the Minister of Home Affairs. It would, at any rate, confine the work to two Departments, instead of three. At present it is not always easy to say which Department is the one to blame for any delay. I am convinced that some different system will have to be evolved before we can prevent the delays which now occur. The present system is intolerable, and undoubtedly does a great deal to discourage riflemen throughout the Commonwealth.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland; [5.20]. - I met a number of riflemen at Yungaburra, and also the secretary of the rifle club. I understood that an officer of the Defence Department had been there, and that the rifle range for which the club had applied was cleared by the men. It is a scattered district, and although thirty or forty young men are prepared to put their hands in their pockets and help the Government, up to the present time they have not been able to get a satisfactory statement from the Department. The Minister has pointed out the difficulties with which he has to contend, but I think that if this matter were tackled in the right spirit something would eventuate. We want people to prepare themselves to defend the country. These long delays thoroughly disgust the men, and cause some of them to throw up the whole thing. That is not a good spirit to create in the country. I shall bring this matter under the Minister’s notice later, and I hope that he will be able to do something before all these men get disgusted with the way in which they are treated.
– Will you send the case on to me ?
– I will. Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [5.22]. - I wish to express some satisfaction with the Minister’s explanation on this very important matter. I hope that he will press for expedition in dealing with rifle ranges, because, from the reports of the Defence Department in regard to military training, I am fast coming to the conclusion that of the two, the more effective weapon for the defence of Australia in the hour of danger will be the rifle clubs.
– They will be our salvation.
– I believe they will be found, in the long run, one of the real sources of our great strength in the hour of danger. I have no sympathy with a State Government which interposes obstacles in the way of the Minister of Defence realizing quickly all the possibilities of rifle shooting by the grant of rifle ranges ; and, so far as my little influence will be useful, I shall assist him in every possible direction.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) £5.23], - I wish to assure the Minister ot Defence that, from the point of view of defence, the Opposition will endeavour to help the Government as far as they possibly can. These Estimates include several items dealing with the supply of horses in the various States. On page 8 we find an item of £3,500 for stabling and other buildings for military horses in New South Wales; on page 15, an item of £3,000 for stabling and other buildings for military horses in Queensland; on page 16, an item of £24,000 towards the cost of barracks, quarters, gun-parks, pharmacy, stores, stabling, and other buildings for military horses in South Aus’tralia ; and on page 20, an item of £5,000 for the acquisition of land for agistment of military horses in Tasmania. All these are new votes. Roughly speaking, the sum of £35,000 is provided on these Estimates for the stabling of military horses. I am inclined to think that it is wise for the Government to take steps to breed “ gunners “ and horses of a lighter type, for military purposes. But I fear we are being misled to some extent when we are invited to authorize an expenditure of £35,000 merely for the stabling of military horses.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is rambling from page to page of these Estimates instead of confining his remarks to the question which is immediately before the Chair.
– T would point out to Senator Needham that Senator Chataway asked me whether he was at liberty to refer to items on these Estimates in advance of those with which we are dealing, for the purpose of illustrating his argument. That practice has been followed previously, and I think it tends to shorten discussion.
– In following the course which I am pursuing I am merely anxious to conserve the time of the Committee. The sum of £35,500 appears upon these Estimates for the stabling of military horses, and it impresses me as being rather an excessive amount, unless the Government intend to undertake, not merely- the stabling, but the breeding of horses to a greater extent than they have indicated. One cannot overlook the fact that the American Government have recently made large purchases of horses in Australia for “ gunners,” and that they are breeding these animals on the highlands of the Philippines. I obtained my information from the men who purchased them and from American officials, who assure me that first rate “gunners” can be bred on the highlands of the Philippines. We might, perhaps, follow the example of the Americans by breeding horses on the Barklay Tableland, and the Creswell Downs. There we could breed horses which would make good “ gunners,” or a lighter type which would be suitable for cavalry purposes.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Government should do that?
– If they did that they would be doing better than they are by spending £35,000 merely for the stabling of military horses. I note that it is proposed to establish stables in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. Why is it not intended to provide them in South Australia and Western Australia ? The Government have given ns no indication of how they intend to fill these stables. I would remind the Minister of Defence that, no matter what breeds of horses may be crossed, not more than 20 per cent, of the foals will come up to the requirements demanded of them. I know that the Minister of Defence favours the establishment of horse-breeding depôts If we are going to expend £35,000 upon the stabling of military horses, do the Government intend to develop regular horsebreeding stations?
– I can assure the honorable senator that I do not propose to commence horse-breeding in the stables for which provision is made on these Estimates.
– Treat my point seriously.
– It has been decided to discard the contract system of providing horses for the Field Artillery in favour of a system of securing permanent horses for that branch of our Defence Forces. Consequently, we have to provide stabling either in the city or adjacent to the headquarters of a battery.
– Is the mere stabling of these horses in four States to cost £3S.50o?
– In addition to stables, we have to provide a depot where the horses may run during the week. In Victoria we have purchased land at Maribyrnong near the Cordite Factory, for this purpose. There we are putting the horses of the Field Artillery and of the Army Remount Section. The men of the latter force will look after the horses during the week, and on Saturday will bring them into South Melbourne, where we are erecting stables for their accommodation. The Militia and compulsory trainees will go to the stables on Saturday, find their horses ready for them, take them out for parade purposes, and afterwards return them. That is the scheme which is at present being carried out in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania. It is proposed to follow the same plan in South Australia and Western Australia. In Tasmania we have the horses, but we have not yet got the land, although negotiations with that end in view are in progress.
– This Bill does not give us the least indication of what the Minister has said. Upon page 8, there is an item relating to stables and other buildings for military horses, for which £3,500 is provided, of which only £803 is a new vote.
– In some of the States we have been looking round for the land, and consequently we have to obtain a revote.
– A similar item in respect of Queensland asks Parliament to appropriate .£3,000, of which £[480 represents a re- vote, and £[2,512 a new vote. Coming to South Australia-
– The honorable senator will find a similar item in respect of each State.
– But in South Australia it is smothered up in this form, “ Barracks, Quarters, Gun Parks, Pharmacy Stores, Stabling and other buildings for military horses, towards cost, £24,000.”
– There is a very simple explanation of that.
– The Minister is an expert in offering simple explanations.
– In all the other States but South Australia we have a military head-quarters. In Adelaide we have not, and this year we propose to build one.
– And is the pharmacy attached to the stables?
– If we are going to spend the sum of £[35.000 upon the stabling of horses, the Minister should tell us what the Government intend to do with those stables. The item appearing on these Estimates in respect of Tasmania relates only to the “ acquisition of land for agistment of military horses.” In the colder parts of Australia, the horses are to run free. If the Minister thinks that the Department is doing the right thing, he will have to answer for it if arrangements go wrong. Meanwhile, I am perfectly justified in drawing attention to the fact that £[35,000 is being spent either on the stabling or the agistment of horses, whilst the Minister has only given us the vague statement that it is a good thing for the Department to own its own horses instead of hiring them. I do not deny that. Probably it is the best thing for the Department to own its horses. I believe that we have 5,000 or 6,000 military horses. On these figures it will cost us about £[7 per head a year, merely for stabling and feeding them on grass. I do not think that the Government have yet taken Parliament into their confidence. They have not told us what is at the back of their skulls when they put forward proposals of this kind.
– I should like to know whether there is any intention to proceed with some of the works contained in this schedule. For instance, I notice £1,700 for a rifle range at Toowoomba. That amount was on the Estimates last year, and is now being revoted. There is also a sum of £[5,000 for a manoeuvre area at Beerburrum. That also was voted last year, and has not been spent. Of £[3,164 for a rifle range at Brisbane, £[1,164 is a re-vote, £[2,000 more being required. The same sort of thing applies to the Bundaberg rifle range. At Ennogera, £4,000 is to be spent on railway and tramway construction in connexion with the rifle range. Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with these works ? Surely they ought to be able to spend the money voted for such purposes within a year.
– It is true that the money for the Toowoomba rifle range was voted last year. But we had to obtain the land from the State Government. The piece required is known as the “ Police paddock.” The State Government raised difficulties, and it was some time before we could get them to agree to hand the land over to us. The difficulty has now been overcome, and we shall be able to spend the money.
– - That is satisfactory.
– The Ennogera rifle range is the principal rifle range for the metropolitan area, Brisbane. The amount set down is £4,000. We shall not be able to spend that money at all in the sense of doing the work ourselves. The reason is that at the present time the Ennogera range is at some distance from the means of communication. The riflemen have urged the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements to enable them to reach the range more conveniently. A railway is being constructed bv the State Government in that direction, and we have undertaken to pay this sum to the State Government on condition that they make a deviation with their railway to give connexion with the rifle range. We cannot hasten the work. We have to wait until the State is ready to do it. It would be folly for the Commonwealth to build this little bit of a railway. The State will make the line, and we will pay for the deviation.
– 1 notice an item, £1,250, for rifle ranges, Wes:ern Australia, of which sum £1,000 is a re-vote. I believe that on account of difficulties some rifle clubs have been unable to get the grant to which they were entitled during this year. I will mention an instance. The Black Range club made application on nth October for a grant for an addition to their range. The object was to make the range safe. In March, I, myself, wrote to the Minister, and received the usual reply that the matter would be considered. Some time during the present month 1 received a notification that the rifle club at Black Range were entitled to the giant, and would receive it. If there is one section of the Defence Force to which we should pay special attention, it is the rifle clubs. Their members devote a good deal of time and labour to their work. The Black Range members have spent their own money on making their range safe for passers by. I am given to understand that the difficulty arises from the fact that the Government have only, one inspector for Western AustraliaIt is that officer’s duty to visit every rifle range after a request is made for a grant. If that be a fact. I hope the Minister will consider the advisableness of recommending the appointment of additional inspectors, so that when an application is submitted to the Department the officer may be sent along, and the matter attended to immediately.
– The difficulty in the case referred to is that which has been suggested by Senator Buzacott himself. That is to say, we -have ‘a limited number of inspectors who can be sent to rifle ranges. At present one inspector has to do the whole of the work for South Australia and Western Australia. That is a pretty big order. It means that the inspector can pay only rake visits to each State. That was the cause of the delay affecting the Black Range club. This year I am asking for a larger vote in order that an additional number of range inspectors may be appointed. We hope by that means that we shall be able to facilitate the work. Undoubtedly the staff is too limited at present, and that leads to delay.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania) [5.501 - I observe an item of £100 for Drill halls, Tasmania. Later on, under “ new works,” will be found an item of £500 for a drill hall at Geeveston, and another of £800 for a drill hall at Zeehan. Lt appears that £300 of the amount for Geeveston is a re-vote, while the £800 for Zeehan is entirely new. Are these two items separated from the item £100 for drill halls, which I mentioned first, because of the amounts involved ?
– The item £100 for drill halls is on account of halls provided for in last year’s Estimates.
– Was the vote last year insufficient ?
– Were the details specified in last year’s Estimates?
– There is also an item of £2,250 re-vote for barracks and buildings for remount section Australian Army Service Corps. Apparently none, of that money was expended last year When is it contemplated to enter upon the buildings required? Another item of £2,837 is for the erection of new buildings at the barracks, Hobart. Apparently none of that was expended. Will the buildings be commenced shortly?”
Senator PEARCE (“Western AustraliaMinister of. Defence) T5-S3]- - A sum of £760 was spent last year on the barracks at Hobart; the work is proceeding. The barracks and buildings for the Army Service Corps are to be at Launceston. The reason for the re-vote in that case is that we did not obtain the land in sufficient time to spend the money last year. But the land has now been acquired, and the buildings are being erected. I promised to make a general statement with regard to drill ‘halls, and will do so on the item £80,000 for “ Acquisition of sites for and erection of mobilization store buildings, and drill halls.” In making provision for the training of Senior Cadets there were many things that we had to learn. We had had no previous experience. It is no doubt an easy thing to say that the Department ought to have foreseen this and that. Many things were not foreseen. One of them was that, with the initiation of compulsory training, and particularly of night drills, a greater number of drill halls would be required. In the winter time particularly discomfort was caused. The demand has become clamant, and there is undoubtedly a real grievance at the back of it. lt became necessary, therefore, to prepare for a much larger expenditure than usual on drill halls during the forthcoming year. At the same time, it is quite obvious that we cannot at once provide all the training areas with drill halls, since the minimum estimate of the cost involved is -£500,000. It is clear that this expenditure must be distributed over a number of years. We therefore decided to ask the Home Affairs Department to prepare a design for a cheap type ot drill hall, that we might spread the money available over the greatest possible area. The Chief of Ordnance and the Adjutant-General on the Military Board have been instructed to collect data to enable us to decide where this money should first be expended. In view of the great area of Australia, and the vast distances to be covered in many training areas, such a report will necessarily take some time to compile. We have been getting the necessary information from Audit Officers and Brigade Majors, with reports from
District Commandants. The officers referred to have been sifting these reports, and will in time submit recommendations as to the halls which should be erected. It is impossible, in the short time at our disposal for inquiry, to indicate where drill halls will be erected during the coming year. All I can say is that they will be erected first in the areas where the greater number of military units and cadets are stationed. Senator Russell, who has referred to the matter, did not quite understand the position of the Department in regard to the voluntary offers of assistance in providing drill halls or land for the purpose which have been made by municipal bodies and others. The attitude of the Department in the matter is this : We quite admit that it is the duty of the Government and the Defence Department to provide drill halls wherever possible, and, so far as money is available for the purpose, we are prepared to do so. At the same time, if any municipal council, or the people of any locality, are prepared to make available for this purpose accommodation in the shape of halls already in’ existence, or land on which halls may be erected, we should be churlish, as well as foolish, to refuse such offers of assistance. But we have laid it down that no offer of such co-operation will give any district any advantage over another.
– It operates in that way.
– That is not the case.
– I can give the Minister an illustration. In connexion with the establishment of higher elementary schools in Victoria, wealthy districts that have been able to provide the necessary land are being provided with the schools, whilst poorer districts are unable to secure them.
– The honorable senator did not hear me say that the Chief of Ordnance and the Adjutant-General on the Military Board are now dissecting information supplied to them by. Area Officers as to the number of units in different districts in order to decide where drill halls should be erected, and the most urgent cases will be dealt with first with the money we have available. If voluntary offers are made of drill halls or to provide halls for the Department, we shall not refuse that assistance; but the fact that a particular community offers such assistance in the shan, nf a building or land will not be any inducement to the Department to give that district a drill hall at the expense of a district more entitled to it.
– I understood the Minister to say that he would give preference to those who were prepared to help themselves.
– I have never said that. What I have said is that, if there is a district where the people are prepared to assist, that will be taken into consideration by the Government in providing drill halls. I think we are justified in taking that course. If a number of districts are prepared to spend, say, £10,000 collectively for this purpose, it is obvious that the money at the disposal of the Government for the purpose will go further.
– There will not be many such districts.
– I am glad to say that there have been a considerable number. I am also glad to be able to say that Senator Russell is not quite correct in his statement that the system will lead to wealthy districts getting drill halls first. It is a singular fact that, in the honorable senator’s own State of Victoria, offers of assistance have come from some of the poorest districts. One of the districts that has taken this matter up in the most active fashion is the district of Footscray, and I think no one will say that Footscray is a wealthy suburb of Melbourne. Other suburbs have made similar offers of assistance, and I am hopeful that the movement will spread.
– In some localities in which there is a large proportion of poor people, the municipal authorities will be’ comparatively wealthy, owing to the closer settlement of the population.
– That may be so. We have offers from municipal authorities, but in the case of Footscray the money is being provided, not by the municipal council, but by an energetic committee of citizens, most of whom are working men, and are probably known to Senator Russell.
– The same thing applies at Waterloo, a suburb of Sydney.
– What about Toorak?
– I am sorry to say that, so far, Toorak has lamentably failed to do anything in this matter. The Government welcome this co-operation, as it will enable them to provide a greater number of drill halls. In addition to drill halls, the vote provides for mobilization stores. ‘ These are a new departure’. Owing to the widespread nature of the de1 fence system under the new organization, it has become necessary to decentralize, and to establish mobilization stores in districts where previously none have been required. These stores will be more costly structures than the drill halls, but, happily, will be very much fewer in number. It is difficult to outline the exact site for these stores, outspeaking generally, they will be established in centres of an important military district. 1 trust that, with this explanation, the Committee will agree to the vote, because the work is urgent.
– Will a mobilization store be used as a drill hall ?
– No; it may be attached to a drill hall, or erected on the same piece of land, but” it will be a store in which the war equipment of the district units will be kept. . Mobilization in time of war will take place at these centres, and it is, therefore, desirable that buildings of a permanent character shall be erected foi mobilization stores. They will be separate > altogether from drill halls.
– Can the Minister give the Committee any idea of the average cost of a drill hall ?
– I am just going to give that information. I have here a plan of; a first class drill hall, which honorable senators may inspect. If I can secure the co-operation of the Home Affairs Depart; ment, I propose that we shall have three types of drill halls. Number one, the type for which this plan has been prepared, may be erected at a cost, based upon Melbourne prices, of £1,600, with a steel roof - with, a wooden roof the cost would probably be £100 less - and £350 additional is estimated for necessary fencing. This plan will provide for a hall of 150 feet by 50 feet, with a large number of offices and store-rooms. Number two type would be a hall of, say, 100 feet by 30 feet or 40 feet, with a smaller number of offices, and suitable for a district in which a smaller number of units are stationed. Then, in Queensland and Western Australia, I understand that completely enclosed drill halls will not be required. I believe that the practice in Queensland prior to Federa tion was to build drill halls open at one side, with offices attached to them. Such a building could be erected for very much less then a completely enclosed building with’ windows and -necessary provision for lighting. I believe that such a building will be’ found suitable practically throughout Queensland, the greater part of Western Australia, the northern parts of South Australia, and, probably, also in the western districts of New South Wales. It would be a much cheaper building than the other types referred to, whilst it would give all the facilities required.
– We should have some more information from the Minister as to the attitude crf the Defence Department in relation to matters concerning the Federal Territories of Papua, the Northern Territory, and the Federal Capital area. A new vote of £80,000 is put down under the heading “Various States and Federal Territory,” towards the cost of the “ Acquisition of sites for, and erection of, mobilization store buildings “ - which is a wonderfully vague expression - “ and drill halls for the Defence Department.” I wish the Minister of Defence to tell ‘the Committee what portion of this vote of ,£80,000* is to be allotted to Papua, to the Northern Territory, and, finally, to the various States. I think it is within reason that the Government -should tell us what they believe will be the ultimate cost of the additional magazines for the storage of ammunition for the Field Artillery. As regards the item of £45,000 towards the cost of establishing a Military College for Australia, I think that we are justified in asking ‘the Government to tell us what is likely to be tlie total cost of the building. Again, we find an item of £50,000 towards the cost of Naval Colleges, Naval Barracks, and so on. Are the Government prepared to tell us what they believe the ultimate cost of these buildings will be, or do they want us tq sign, as it were, a promissory note for £50,000, not knowing what the ultimate cost may be? Next, we find an item of £8.000 towards the acquisition of a site, and the construction of a building for the famous Woollen Mills. The Government do not tell us that this building is not to be established, like the Military College, the Naval College, and the additional magazines, in the Federal Territory. It is up to them, too, to tell us why they propose to spend £8,000 in Geelong, if they are prepared to carry out the decision of both Houses to establish a Capital as soon as possible. Why should we spend £[8,000 at Geelong instead of laying down Woollen Mills at Yass-Canberra ? I ask the Government to give us information on these points.
– I have already given a long explanation regarding the first item, which met the points raised, and I may mention that no portion of this £80,000 is to be spent- in Papua, the Northern Territory, or the Federal Capital. As regards the sum of £[8,000 for additional magazines, the amount is towards a total cost of £[14,000. Regarding the other item, no estimate of the total cost of the Military College can well be given. I think that those who have read anything about the Military Colleges of the world can well understand that. Many of the present buildings are of a temporary character, and may last for twenty-five or thirty years. The idea is ultimately to erect permanent buildings. Any estimate of the total cost would be misleading, because we might not spend any of the money during the lifetime of honorable senators. At the present time we cannot give an estimate of the total cost of the Naval College. The first lot of buildings, although they will be of a permanent character, will not by any means complete the College, and the expenditure on them will be progressive for a number of years. As regards the establishment of Woollen Mills, the Department has not yet been able to complete an estimate of the total cost of the buildings, which will be of a very plain and inexpensive character, and probably of brick.
– Surely the Department has some idea of what the ultimate cost of any one of the items referred to is likely to be. One would think that before an estimate was brought down here, the Department would have furnished the ‘Minister of Defence with some information as to whether the Naval College is likely to cost half-a-million or a million, or two millions. I do not suggest that it is proposed to complete the building during this or the next year, but surely the Government have some plan or scheme. Apparently, the Department do not wish to give an estimate of the probable cost until the building has been virtually completed. Any fool could find out then what the cost was likely to be. I think that if the officers are earning their salaries, they should be able to give the Minister the information which we desire. Surely there is a plan or a scheme to be carried out.
– I do not like the use of the word “scheme” in connexion with this matter.
– I think it is the proper word to use, seeing that we can get no information.
– No; the proper word is “ conspiracy.”
– That would be harder still, but I do not wish to be too hard, because I know the Minister is in a bit of a fix. Surely he does not expect us to pass the item without being supplied with full information. Apparently he does not know what the Naval Barracks are going to cost. We want to know, and the country wants to know, what this scheme may cost. We are hungry for information, but we cannot get it. The least which the Minister can do is to say whether it is proposed to spend half-a-million pounds on the Naval College. We also want to know if the Government have any plan, or can give the country an idea of the expenditure to which this item of £45,000 towards the cost of the Military College is likely to commit us.
– I desire to know whether the proposed expenditure on a Naval College is for a temporary building at Geelong, or a permanent establishment at Jervis Bay.
– It is evidently required for both, because the plural is used - “ Naval Colleges.”
– Yes. I also see an item of £45,000 towards the cost of establishing the Military College. I wish to know what the ultimate cost of this College is likely to be. I think that a considerable amount has already been spent upon it. Regarding the permanent Naval College, I understand that, after consultation with the Lord Mayor of Sydney and the Minister of Defence, it was decided that part of the
Dreadnought fund, as it was termed, should be handed over for the purpose- of establishing a permanent Naval College at Jervis Bay. I desire to know whether there were any conditions surrounding that offer, because I think that if we are going to incur a large expenditure there, we should not consent to any conditions which would 6 be outside the general scheme of things in order to cadge £40,000. In the huge expenditure which we contemplate tor military and naval purposes, a few thousand pounds are neither here nor there.
– It was not cadged; it was offered.
– I would not kow-tow to them, or accept humiliating conditions such as the erection of a particular room, tower, tablet, or other “ flim-flam tomfoolery “ in order to perpetuate trie bogus patriotism of the crowd who tried to rush the country into a stupid bit of Jingoism. I am referring to the proposed Naval College, regarding which 1 understand negotiations were entered into Between the Government and the trustees of the Dreadnought fund, and certain conditions were either stipulated or proposed to be stipulated. If the conditions will in any way prevent the Government from carrying out their proposals with a free hand, they ought to be spurned. I cannot see why we need a temporary Naval College at Geelong. If it is going to involve a great deal of expenditure, it necessarily follows that it will involve a good deal of time in order to equip the College. Therefore, the amount of time saved by the establishment of a temporary College will not be great enough to justify any departure from the original scheme of establishing the College in the Federal Territory. We know that once a thing is established in a place there is a tendency to find numberless excuses for keeping it there.
– The next Government might want to keep the Naval College at Geelong.
– Just so. I think that the best way for the Government to show their bona fides would be to proceed to build the Naval College in the Federal Territory straightaway, and not to bother about erecting a temporary affair. I object to any temporary schemes unless their urgency is made manifest. Even supposing that we get our Fleet Unit constructed, I do not see that the difference in time between the erection of a permanent building at Jervis Bay and the erection of a temporary building at Geelong is sufficient warrant for this extraordinary expenditure, much of which will be thrown away.
– Let us get to a vote.
– My honorable colleague is anxious to get to a vote, but I am anxious to get an understanding of the position, and also a justification for whatever is proposed. These items are the property of the Senate, and as such I think that criticism should be of the freest and fullest description from either side of the chamber. I view with considerable disfavour any greater expenditure than is absolutely necessary for military purposes. I would like to see that expenditure kept within as economical limits as possible, and it seems to me that there is a big waste of public money involved in the erection of a temporary Military College at Geelong. I should like to know how this money is to be divided between the two Colleges, and what conditions have been agreed to in regard to the proposed grant from the
Dreadnought fund in Sydney.
– This item includes the sum of £8,000, which . it is intended to spend upon a temporary Military College at Geelong.
– Will that be the total outlay there?
– It will be the total outlay upon buildings. A sum of £5,000 is provided for plant, but that plant will be subsequently removed to Jervis Bay.
– Will the£8,000 be expended upon Government land?
– No. That sum is to be expended upon buildings, the greater portion of which will be erected with a view to their subsequent removal to the Flinders naval base.
– What is the material to be used in their erection?
– And £8,000 is to be expended upon a wooden building?
– And upon certain alterations which will have to be made in the present buildings. Senator Rae asked what was the reason underlying the proposal to establish a temporary Naval College at Geelong. That reason has been supplied by the honorable senator himself. I have heard him protest against the importation of military officers into Australia. I have heard him denounce the Government for appointing imported officers to various positions. Now, we cannot pick up naval officers on the beach, and, in order to meet the view that we should have our own naval officers as soon as possible, we have decided to establish a temporary Naval College at Geelong. As this site was offered to us free of cost, we thought it would be worth our while to enter our cadets there, and thus gain a year in turning out our own naval officers. The idea underlying the proposal is a desire to have Australian naval officers available a year earlier than would otherwise have been possible. In the meantime, the College at Jervis Bay is to be pushed forward, and the Department of Home Affairs has promised to have the buildings there ready for the reception of the first batch of cadets in February, 1914. As regards the Dreadnought fund, the original proposal was to- hand over to the Commonwealth a sum of £40,000 conditionally that the money was expended near Sydney. Since then the Government have announced that they will not accept the site proposed near to that city, and have decided to establish the Naval College at Jervis Bay. The trustees of the fund have finally determined to make the grant without that. condition.
– Have they attached any condition to it?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8p.m.
– In regard to the proposed vote for the establishment of Woollen Mills at Geelong, I take this opportunity of drawing the Minister’s attention to a telegram which appears in the press this evening, and which makes certain statements concerning the non-supply of clothing to the garrison artillery in Sydney. These mills, I take it, are intended to turn out the material with which to clothe our soldiers, and I propose to read the telegram in question, with a view to showing the way in which they are not clothed. Is it the intention of the . Government to keep these men without clothing until the factory is in operation? The paragraph reads -
Uniforms and Salaries.
Following upon the recent Garrison Artillery trouble comes another in connexion with artillery.
This time it is the permanent men who are grumbling. The following is a list of grievances voiced by the lower ratings : - The regiment is in a ragged state, as no clothing has been issued for a year ; fifty men taken on in the last six months had to perform service in white canvas suits in the middle of winter, nothing else being available, and even that now cannot be obtained ; sergeants are drilling the men in military coats and civilian tweed trousers.
I should like to hear from the Minister of Defence whether that paragraph is an effort on the part of the scribe or whether there is any justification for the statements which it contains. If there be a vestige of truth in them, it is not at all creditable to the Commonwealth. I should also like to know whether the factory has been started, and, if so, what is the extent of the operations which it is proposed to carry on. These are questions, I suppose, which may be asked, irrespective of the view which one may take of whether it is desirable to extend the list of Government functions.
– I am sorry to he obliged to admit that there is something in the complaint which has been made, and that is one of the reasons why the Government decided to establish our own clothing factory, and one of the reasons why we provide on these Estimates for its extension. Under the existing system of contract we have found it impossible to obtain anything like a regular supply of uniforms. This result is very largely due to the fact that our private factories are already fully employed, and do not. care whether they get the Defence contracts or not. They are simply indifferent. In connexion with almost every contract for which tenders are called we have to approach the tenderers and ask them if they will take up the balance of the orders?
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware of this? ‘
– I think that he is. We experience the greatest difficulty in getting our contracts carried out up to time. As a result we are unable to supply clothing in the way we should like. It has now been decided to make the uniforms for our Permanent Forces in our own factory, and to endeavour to obtain a more speedy and regular supply than we have secured in the past. We have also to consider the question of the supply of cloth, which has not been too satisfactory. Some contractors, and notably one in New South Wales, have come to our rescue splendidly, but still we have experienced very great difficulty in placing all our orders during the past eighteen months. All these difficulties have tended to delay the supply of uniforms to our troops. I regret this circumstance very much, but, as things are, we are practically helpless. I shall be only too pleased to see this Bill passed so that we may get our clothing factory extended, and proceed with the establishment of our woollen mills.
– I hope that it is not intended to keep these men without clothing.
– It is not. But, obviously, when contractors only consent, as a matter of grace, to take up the balance of our orders it is very diffcult to enforce conditions. In our tenders we stipulate that a contract shall be completed within a certain time. . But when all the tenders have been received we find that the whole of our orders have not been taken up, and, consequently, we have to approach the contractors, and say to them, “ Will you take up the balance? “ Their reply usually is, “ We will, provided that you give us an extension of six months.” The position is so intolerable that I regret we did not start our clothing factory earlier. The woollen mills have been planned by the manager, Mr. Smail, upon the known requirements of our Forces during the next ten years. It is intended to erect a mill which will be capable of supplying practically the whole of the cloth for the Commonwealth Forces. It is proposed to turn out cloth and cord, and also putties.
– And postal uniforms ?
– Will His Excellency’s uniforms be made there?
– I have not had any request from the Department of Home Affairs on that subject yet. The amount which is here set down is “ towards cost ofplant.” Of course, we do not propose to order machinery until we are in a position to instal it.
– Has the building been started ?
– What is to be the total cost?
– I have not that information with me.
. -In regard to the item “ Woollen Mills -Acquisition of site and construction of building - towards cost, £8,000,” I wish to offer a few observations. It is very curious that a Government who quite recently declared that Yass-Canberra was a most desirable site for the Federal Capital, who affirmed that it possessed an abundant supply of water, and who forced their recommendation down the throats of a majority of their own supporters, should have to send a man all over Australia to find a suitable site for our woollen mills. Fancy Victoria, New South Wales, or South Australia, after deciding to establish a Government factory of any kind, despatching a representative round Australia in search of a suitable site outside their own territories. The thing . is absolutely ridiculous. Yet that is what the
Government have done. They have sent Mr. Smail all over the Commonwealth for the purpose of selecting a suitable site for these mills. Of course, he was despatched to the Federal Territory.
– He was sent there first.
– But the Government “Laving decided that that Territory was good enough for all our requirements, why was that course necessary ? I have no sympathy with the two-penny-halfpenny parochial feeling which is rampant in Australia. We have, one member scheming against another member to get every possible concession and advantage for his district. We have districts rivalling each other in their cadging propensities. We have their representatives going round looking for this, that, and the other work to be established by the Federal Government in particular localities. We have State showing jealousy of State; and we have always the miserable squabble raised by the Melbourne newspapers that because such-and-such a thing has been done in Sydney the same sort of thing ought to be done in Melbourne. The rest of Australia does not seem to count at all. The only parts of the country that are treated as important are Sydney and Melbourne. The whole business is ridiculous. The consideration first and last, the consideration all the time, should be Australia. If Yass-Canberra is good enough to be selected as a site for the Capital of the Commonwealth, surely it ought to be good enough as a site for our various industrial activities ; and if it is not good enough for them, undoubtedly it is not good enough for the Federal Capital. “
– The Federal Capital would be far better in Sydney, no doubt.
– Whatever the opinions of other honorable senators may be, I have never held the view that either Sydney or Melbourne is a proper place for the Capital of the Commonwealth. I have always voiced the idea, rightly or wrongly, that it is a bad thing, to have the political Capital of the country identical with one of its chief commercial centres. For that reason I entirely approved of the provision in the Constitution that required the Capital of the Commonwealth to be somewhere outside any capital city of a State. When the expert, Mr. Smail, went round looking at various suggested sites for the Woollen Mills, he visiter! Yass-Canberra. I should like to put on record a few things that he said on the subject -
My first visit was to Yass-Canberra, the site of the Federal city, embracing from Queanbeyan to the junction of the Cotter Ri vCr with the Mumimbidgee, Duntroon, and Acton. Although the climatic conditions are not up to my idea of the requirements, it would be quite wrong to say that a woollen factory could not be established there, because, with the development of the city, it is certain to have factories of all descriptions, and, no doubt, conditions will then prevail whereby cloth manufacture could be fairly successfully accomplished.
He said that by-and-by, as the Capital City is developed, industries may be established there. But how are you going to develop a city unless you have some industries in it? How are you going to have a considerable population there unless you have remunerative employment for the people to pursue? If we had begun by putting our Harness Factory, our Clothing Factory, our Cordite Factory, and our Small Arms Factory there, we should have had a fairly large population at YassCanberra al ready.
– Where should we get the men to go there?
– Within my own experience I have seen places that were once a wilderness - where there was not a house within a hundred miles - with a population of 30,000 or 40,000 people within the short space of two or three months.
– People always follow where there is work.
– Of course they do. Mr. Smail goes on to say -
However, I can only report on the conditions existing at the present time, and I have no hesitation in saying that the idea of establishing a factory there is a long way in advance of the economic conditions that must prevail for its successful establishment.
When are those economic conditions going to prevail if we never make a start? How can they prevail if we leave the place a wilderness? When are we going to have the necessary economic conditions there if we do not attract population? Mr. Smail goes on -
There is no definite lay-out plan of the city, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population, in fact, everything is against the establishment of an isolated factory.
If there is no definite lay-out plan, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population, whose fault is that? It is the fault of the Government, which has had two years in which to do things, and has done practically nothing. We could have had an ample water supply there within two years. All the plans were laid out. Everything was ready -for carrying out drainage works. Everything was ready for the immediate initiation of an efficient water supply - provided sufficient water was obtainable there, and the Ministry assured us that it was when they asked us to accept the site.
– How could we do all those things when we could hardly get a vote of £2,000 passed a couple of years ago to start work ?
– The Government did not spend all that was voted.
– They have never come to Parliament asking for money which has not been granted for the purposes of the Capital.
– We had to sit up all night sometimes to get it.
– What is the honorable senator here for, except to carry on the business of the country, even at some little inconvenience to himself sometimes? What is he paid for? Later on this evening he will be asking the Senate to adjourn for five or six weeks. Yet he objects once in a way to sitting up late to obtain money for the purposes of the Capital, to be established on a site the superb quali- ties ot which he lauded so highly a few years ago. Mr. Smail’s statement about the Yass-Canberra site not being suitable for the establishment of a woollen mill may be attributed to the fact that the Government have done nothing to render the place habitable for any one. In consequence of that, he had to go all round Australia looking for a place. But what does Mr. Smail say about Geelong, which has been selected? -
This town is admirably suited for the manufacture of woollen goods, having a constantly flowing river of comparatively soft water, natural drainage for mill effluent into the river, a good industrial population.
Let us examine that statement. What are the advantages claimed for Geelong? It is said to have a good supply of water, and natural drainage for mill effluent into the river. At one time we dealt with a site in which there is the best river in Australia ; yet this Government turned it clown. They would not look at it, because it did not suit the State Rights or -Frights party.
– Parliament turned it -down.
– At whose invitation ? At the invitation of this Govern ment, who did all they knew to force the Yass-Canberra site on Parliament. I repeat that we had a site available in which all those conditions were to be had, upon which Mr. Smail places such high value. They were all available to a superlative degree. Another advantage which Mr. Smail claimed for Geelong is that it is - comparatively near the principal wool markets, well placed for railway and shipping, and a good centre for distribution.
We produce wool of the finest quality all over Australia, and it is available all over Australia.
– But we have hot wool markets everywhere.
– How is it that people in England, the greatest cloth manufacturing country in the world, can come here to buy wool, take it back to Great Britain, and successfully produce cloth, whilst Mr. Smail cannot successfully start a woollen mill if he has to travel 20 miles for his wool? He must be alongside the market, whilst the most successful people in thf world can travel 14,000 miles to buy wool, and still make a success of it.
– France, Germany, and the United States of America do the same.
– Not only England, but France, Germany, and other countries that have made a success of woollen manufactures, can send buyers to Australia to purchase our wool, and make manufacturing a success, and yet Mr. Smail wishes us to believe that it is essential that this factory should be established close to a wool market in order that manufacturing may be conducted as economically as possible. The contention is ridiculous ! Looking at this as a business proposition, is there a single individual who, having land of his own available, and wanting to start a factory, would not put it on his own property,, even if the conditions were not perfectly ideal, rather than buy land elsewhere and enhance the value of the property of somebody else?
– The Government have not to buy land at Geelong.
– I am not forgetting that part of the case. Would any man consent to enhance the value of the land of another fellow, whilst leaving his own a barren wilderness? We must remember that if this factory is going to be successful, a large number of hands will be employed. Those hands will have people depending upon them. The employment of them will call into being a number of shops, and exchange agencies of various kinds, to supply their wants. I venture to say that a really successful woollen mill will call into existence an extra population of some. to, 000 people. For those 10,000 people we shall have to pay 25s. per head to the State in which they live. So that the establishment of this factory elsewhere than in the Federal Territory will simply have the effect of enhancing the value of the property of private individuals, whilst the Commonwealth will have the privilege of paying 25s. per head, on account of the employes, to the State in which they reside. The whole position is ridiculous. Meanwhile we are going to allow our own Territory to remain a barren wilderness. It must continue to remain one unless we turn it to profitable use. One of the profitable uses to which it might be applied is for carrying on the industrial activities of the Commonwealth. But if the Government are going to try to placate one State with a sop in the way of a Commonwealth factory, we shall have other States demanding similar concessions. We shall have a continuous rivalry amongst the States and districts, as well as amongst the representatives of those districts, who will “barrack” for one favour after another. In the meantime the interests of Australia can go hang all the time. I am utterly opposed to a policy of that kind, and intend to take pretty drastic action on the present occasion to express my opinion about it. This is the only remedy that is left to us. Time after time honorable senators have voiced their opinion that the industrial activities of this Commonwealth should be established within the Federal Territory. We have little enough of our own to establish anywhere. Why should we be looking round to establish industries elsewhere than in our own Territory? We have previously expressed our opinion emphatically by placing a resolution on record affirming that Federal factories should be established within the Federal Territory. If the Government turn a deaf ear to our repeatedlyexpressed and emphatic declarations of opinion, there is only one, course open to us. The action that I propose to take on the present occasion, with a view of marking our disapproval, is to move, as I now do -
That the item, “ Woollen mills - Acquisition of site and construction of building - Towards cost, £8,000,” be reduced by £1.
– Senator Givens, in his quotation of the resolution passed by the Senate, has left out something that is’ important. ‘ He left out the
Words “ where practicable.”
– Why were those wordsput in?
– Because the Senaterecognised that it would not always be practicable to give effect to such a declara- tion.
– The sole idea was that it was not practicable to have naval dockyards within the Federal Territory.
– If ever an impracticable proposal was put forward it is that of Senator Givens, that the Woollen Factory should be’ established at the Federal Capital at this stage. Another omission from his speech was that he left off quoting from the report of Mr, Smail at a very interesting point. The report shows that it is not practicable to establish the factory at the Federal Capital at the present juncture unless it is desired to make it a hideous failure. Here is the passage which Mr. Smail devotes to that point -
Presuming we did establish it there in spite of the present conditions, we should be up against abnormal cost on every preliminary item towards erection of buildings and fitting of plant and machinery ; then we would have the problem of importing workers (60 per cent, of them unmarried females), that is, if we could get them to go there; and supposing we got a full’ complement of workers, we should be absolutely dependent on them, however unsuitable they might be for the work.
I think I have demonstrated that it is not a practical proposition, and, further, the manager could not be expected to be held responsible for compliance with Rule 3 of the Regulations for Government factories, namely : - “ Each manager shall be responsible for the efficient, safe, and economical working of the factory under his charge.”
With these observations I pass to consider in rotation the other places visited.
– That is all special pleading.
– It is not fair to hurl such a charge at the manager. It was immaterial to him where we decided to establish the factory. Mr. Smail was engaged by myself when I was in England. He comes from a woollen factory in Scotland, in which he held a responsible position. I was assured by the High Commissioner, who had gone through the testimonials of various applicants, that he was regarded as one of the foremost men in the woollen trade in ‘Scotland as a working foreman. He knew nothing of Australia so far as parochial interests are concerned-
He was supplied in England with data respecting Australia, which he studied. The instructions 1 gave him were that it was the desire of the Government that, if it could possibly be shown that the Woollen Factory could be successfully established in the Federal Territory, it should be established there. I told him that, when he came out to Australia, 1 wished him to give his first attention to the Federal Territory. He was to thoroughly examine it, and to bear in mind the wish of the Government to establish the factory there if it were at all practicable. He visited the Territory, and made an exhaustive examination of possible sites. He also had an analysis made of the water, and he told me that he could not recommend the establishment of the factory there under the present conditions. He said that if it were established there under present conditions it would be absolutely “impossible for it to produce woollen cloth at anything like a reasonable cost or at anything like the cost for which it can be produced by many private factories in Australia to-day. I ask honorable senators whether, in the face of such a report, any Government was justified in establishing the factory in the Federal Territory at the present time. To do so would spell disaster to the system of Government enterprise. Immediately the returns, came out, and it was found that the cloth produced by the factory was costing more per yard than that produced in private factories, there would be an outcry for the abandonment of the principle of Government enterprise in this -direction. 1 he surest way in which to bring contempt upon, and defeat, that principle would be to insist upon the establishment of the Woollen Factory in the Federal Territory.
– It would be worse than “ The man on the job.”
– That is a nice admission.
– The honorable senator may think so, but it is a fact. I impressed Mr. Smail with the fact that it was still the desire of the Government to establish the factory in the Federal Territory, if at all practicable. He wished to be allowed to see other parts of Australia, and I agreed that he should do so. He visited every State and all suitable places in them for the purpose. We. have his re;port before us, and in it he puts Geelong first, as the best place, in view of all the -circumstances, for the establishment of this factory. He was convinced that there are several places in the Commonwealth . in which the conditions are such as to make them more suitable for the establishment of the factory than is the Federal Terri tory. The Government had no option, in my opinion, than to accept his report. It is quite unfair to charge Mr. Smail with any bias or prejudice in this matter, because, if he could have had any, ‘it must have been distinctly in favour of the Federal Territory in view of the desire of the Government, so strongly impressed upon him by myself before he came to Australia., and again after he arrived here, that the factory should be established -in the Federal Territory.
– No one attributes bias to him, but surely we have a right to question his judgment ?
– I think that bias has been attributed to him. It has been said that the matter has been “ fixed up,” and all that sort of thing.
– Who said that?
– I think it is only fair in connexion with this matter that I should remind honorable senators that Geelong is a part of the Commonwealth. Some possible sites for this factory are spoken of as if they were in foreign countries. If the factory is established at Geelong, while it may benefit that particular town, it will also benefit Australia. I cannot follow the arguments of Senator Givens that because Yass-Canberra is good enough for the Federal Capital it should be good enough for a woollen factory. Mr. Smail says that after the Federal Capital is established, and a population is settled there, it may be that the conditions will be all that could be desired for the establishment of -a woollen factory, but he points out that one great essential in deciding upon a suitable site is the supply of labour. By interjection, the statement has been made that we could get the labour if we had the factory established in the Federal Territory, but I may inform honorable senators that we have found considerable difficulty in securing labour for the construction of the Military College at Yass-Canberra under anything like the conditions on which it can be secured elsewhere. In the building of the Military College we have had to pay special rates, higher than the Sydney rates, for labour employed, and in many cases allowances have had to be made which are higher than are given in the different capitals of the various States.
– - Because the men had to leave their homes for a temporary job.
– No ; in many cases the men have been given .permanent jobs.
– Then it would appear that Yass-Canberra is not a good site for a Capital City after all?
– Senator Givens is aware that that is not the question that we are considering now. lt is because there is no prospect of Yass-Canberra becoming a considerable city within the next few years that it is unsuitable for the establishment of this factory. A lot of preliminary work must be done there before population will be attracted to the place. There is another featur of the labour question upon which Mr. Smail lays considerable stress, and its importance is borne out by all who have had any association with the woollen trade. In older countries, certain industries have become specialized in particular centres, and the people of those places become specially skilled in certain kinds of work. It has been found that where there are a number of factories of the same kind established in a particular centre, the people attain a higher skill in the industry than do the people of a place where there is only one such factory established. This is admitted to be one of the reasons for the success of Sheffield in the manufacture of cutlery, and the success of Manchester in connexion with another industry. In centres where industries are specialized, the operatives become highly skilled, and are able to produce a better article at a cheaper cost than are the people of other centres where those industries axe not specialized.
– Then we had better introduce a whole village of people to work in this factory.
– That is what we should have to do if it were established at the Federal Capital.
– We may have to do the same at Geelong.
– No; there are several woollen factories already established at Geelong.
– Do the Government propose to take the labour from those factories ?
– No; but there is a large amount of surplus labour of the kind we require there. Geelong is practically the birth place of the woollen industry in Victoria. The people there have been as sociated with the industry for a number of years, and we should have less difficulty in manning our factory there with the necessary staff than perhaps we should have in any other place in the Commonwealth.
– How does the honorable senator reconcile his statement that there is a surplus of labour for the making of cloth at Geelong with the statement he made earlier to the effect that, owing to the difficulty of getting labour, the manufac.turers of cloth would not tender for Government contracts?
– I can reconcile the two statements. It may be that the existing mills are not large enough to absorb the available labour.
– One mill was recently burnt down, and is only in course of re-erection now.
– That is so, and the ‘ labour employed at that mill is on the market, or has been diverted to other industries. I have no doubt at all that in. view of the superior conditions which will be offered by the Commonwealth Woollen Mill, we shall be able to obtain the best labour, even though it may be drawn fromthe existing private factories. That has been our experience in connexion with the clothing and harness factories. We have had complaints from the Chamber of Manufactures that the Commonwealth HarnessFactory has attracted all the best men in the harness-making business. It is not correct to say there is no labour difficulty in the Federal Capital. There is a real labourdifficulty there which will continue for a number of years. It has always been the practice for private enterprise to establish factories only where there is a big supply of labour, and in centres in close touch with ready means of transport, and offering a good market for their products.
– Private enterprise hasnot a Federal Territory of its own to develop.
– Private enterprise has not gone to the Federal Territory, and” if the conditions, including a supply of labour, were present in the Federal Territory for the establishment of factories, private enterprise would not have hesitated togo there. If we are to place upon these Commonwealth enterprises the responsibility of peopling the Federal Territory, we shall’ make a hideous failure of the enterprise. I wish to point out to honorable senatorswhat may be the effect of the moving of this. amendment. I can see that we are likely to have a junction of forces. We are likely to have a combination of those who desire that this factory should be established in the Federal Territory with those who desire that it should be established in some place in the Commonwealth other than Geelong. I think that is regrettable. No doubt honorable senators from Tasmania recognise that Mr. Smail has put Launceston in a high place. I say frankly that if Geelong were disapproved of, I should recommend the establishment of the factory at Launceston rather than in the Federal Capital. We may have honorable senators from Tasmania supporting the amendment, not because they believe that the factory should be established in the Federal Territory, but because Launceston being given second place in Mr. Smail’s report they may hope that it will be chosen. I think it ought to be understood by the Committee that it will not be a question of Geelong versus Launceston, but of Geelong versus the Federal Territory. If the amendment be carried, it will be a direction to the Government not to establish the factory at Launceston, where it could be conducted as an economic success, or at any other place in which it could be economically conducted, but in the Federal Territory. By supporting the amendment honorable senators will be tying the hands of the Government to the establishment of this enterprise where it must be an economic failure.
– If that be so, we appear to have chosen the worst place in Australia for the Federal Capital.
– It would seem that the honorable senator is prepared to deal with this question in a- vindictive spirit. What he has said might be taken to mean that he is asking honorable senators to support the amendment he has moved, not because he thinks that a factory should be established in the Federal Capital, but because he thinks that its establishment there may demonstrate that the Federal Capital is, as he has contended, to be established in the wrong place.
– No; but in order to make the best of a bad bargain.
– That is not the spirit in which the honorable senator’s interjection was made, because he said it would demonstrate that the Federal Capital was in the wrong place. I ask, is that the spirit in which this question ought to be approached ? I do not think it is. Regard should be had, especially by those who de sire to see these Woollen Mills a success, to the best economic place. I think that anamendment of this kind ought to carry with it some direction to the Government. I appeal to those who want to see the Woollen Mills a success not to support the amendment, because it will tie the- hands of the Government in such a way as to insure the failure of them from the economic point of view. Honorable senators can judge for themselves what effect that will have, and how that argument will be used against the extension of this principle. I trust that the amendment will not be carried, because it will have a very serious effect upon the policy of the Government in this regard.
.- I think that the Minister of Defence has put his finger upon what will be a very vital point in this debate, and the vote which, no doubt, will be taken on the amendment, and that is that there will be certain warring elements. There will be, so to speak, the battle of the sites over again. We shall, no doubt, find Senator Long, in his desire to have the Woollen Mills in Tasmania, voting against the Government, in the hope that, eventually, he will be able to defeat the wish of Senator Givens that they should be established in the Federal Capital. It is most amusing to one who has always taken notice of the statements of the honorable senator, and who recognises that he puts up a keen fight, and generally advocates the principles he is in favour of with all the. earnestness and sincerity at his command, to find him advocating the establishment of woollen mills at Yass-Canberra, a place which he has condemned in scathing terms, especially in regard to one of the principal essentials to woollen mills, and that is the quantity and the quality of the water supply. Speaking here on a memorable occasion, on 13th September, 1910, he said -
Why should we choose the worst site of alL and the driest in the whole of Australia? . . ,. I say, without hesitation, that anybody who will take the trouble to look up the Statistical Register of New South Wales must come to the conclusion that in one dry vear experienced there when water was most valuable, Canberra had the lowest rainfall of any place available to us as a Federal Capital site. Its rainfall was only ir inches, and I contend that the rainfall of any place must be judged by the ‘ fall recorded in the driest year.
He continued -
Although the Cotter River will furnish a supply sufficient for domestic and civic purposes, that supply can be obtained only at very great cost.
He further pointed out - and I quite agree with him - that the water would have to be [Dumped a distance of 10 miles, and raised to a height of 850 feet.
– We shall have to do that anyhow, whether we put this factory there or not.
– That will not have to be done at Geelong, because it has a water supply suitable to the manufacture of woollens. It seems most peculiar that, after the scathing denunciation which the honorable senator made, not only on the 13th September, 1910, but on many other occasions, he should now be found advocating the establishment of any industries or mills in a locality which he has described as one of the worst and the driest in Australia. I have always recognised that when he was stating a case, or opposing a proposition, he, gave fairly the evidence pro and con. Yet we find that, on this occasion, he quoted only certain extracts from Mr. Smail’s report in connexion with Yass- Canberra, and only certain extracts from his report in connexion with Geelong. Senator Guthrie. - He did not want to read the lot.
– No,but he picked out such phrases and passages as suited his particular end.
– You can pick out the others.
– I have no need to do that, because the Minister of Defence has pointed out that Mr. Smail has clearly stated that, in his opinion, it is not practicable to establish woollen mills inthe Federal Territory. There was one part which the Minister did not quote, and it is the following -
There is no definite lay-out plan of the city, no water supply, no drainage, no railway, no population, in fact everything is against the establishment of an isolated factory.
– I quoted that.
– I can imagine even the honorable senator putting his arms round the neck of Mr. Smail and kissing him, if a debate were taking place here in connexion with the establishment of the Federal Capital. Yet we find him advocating a place which he knows in his heart, as Mr. Smail has recorded on paper, is in no way suitable for the establishment of woollen mills or kindred industries.
– In fact, there is no place whatever except my back-yard.
– No, I am not standing here in the interests of Victoria or Geelong, because I happen to belong to this State.
– Oh, no ; you would not do that !
– I am not like Senator Long, who wants to see theWoollen Mills established in his own back-yard - in the north or the south of Tasmania. But I am following the recommendation of an expert, who, the Minister of Defence has told us, was obtained by him upon the advice of the different persons whom he consulted during his recent visit to the Old Land. I take the advice of Mr. Smail in preference to that of Senator Long, when he advocates the claims of Tasmania, although I do not suggest that Senator Givens is advocating any parochialism in submitting his amendment. In face of the advocacy which has been shown by certain honorable senators, and in face of the remarks which Senator Givens has made against the Federal Territory, we can do nothing else but accept the recommendation of the expert, whom I do not know, but who, I assume, is one of the best experts whom the Government could have at their command and under their control. Any unbiased person must be struck by the reports which Mr. Smail made on the thirty-three places which be visited in Australia, and the strong recommendation which he made about Geelong in this concluding sentence -
It is a most desirable place for our purpose, and has the further advantage of having a community who are conversant with wool manufacture, which is a valuable asset.
The Minister of Defence touched upon that aspect of the question. . He pointed out that it is essential that the people who are brought up in a district should be conversant with the industries which are, so to speak, its principal assets.
– According to that argument, we should never have had established any manufacturing industries in Australia, because we never had a population acquainted with them.
– I do not say that. My contention is that Geelong is peculiarly adapted for the establishment of woollen mills. It is the second - at any rate, one of the largest - wool markets in Australia at the present time. It attracts a larger number of buyers from all parts of Australia than does any other market. The best clips are sent to Geelong from the whole of the Western District of Victoria, which, honorable senators know, is one of the best merino- raising districts in any part of the Commonwealth. There is another aspect of the case, and that is that the land on which the Woollen Mills are to be erected at Geelong is to cost the Commonwealth nothing. If we had to purchase land from private individuals, I might say that, perhaps, it would be better to establish the Woollen Mills on land of our own.
– Whose land is it?
– The Harbor Trust of Geelong is offering the land free of cost.
– And the Premier of Victoria says that we cannot have it.
– I do not know what Mr. Watt has said. I do not take any notice of hearsay. All I know is that, in an official report, Mr. Smail makes the deliberate statement that the Harbor Trust of Geelong offers the land free of cost. There was another point upon which the Minister of Defence did not touch when he was pointing out that in Geelong the people were conversant with the manufacture of woollens, and that is the fact that Geelong has one of the best technical colleges in connexion with teaching the whole process of woollen manufacture to be found in the Commonwealth. I refer to the Gordon Technical College. The youths, who we hope will assist the Commonwealth to make the cloth with which the uniforms for the Postal and Defence Departments are to be made, will be trained in that school, and thus we shall have a recruiting ground practically at the back door of our Woollen Mills. I trust that the Committee will reject the amendment. I feel that we cannot, so to speak, go behind the report of Mr. Smail ; but, irrespective of where the Woollen Mills are to be established - whether in Victoria or the Federal Territory, or Tasmania - we should be guided by the recommendation of the officers in whom, up to the present time, we have every reason to place full confidence.
.- It cannot be said by any honorable senator that in expressing my views on this subject I am influenced by any votes which I may want to give in the future. I am not going to stand again for election, and, therefore, having no votes to catch in Geelong, I can speak quite impartially. I know Australia very well, having been over pretty well every part of it, except the far distant districts. I think that if honorable senators go against the expert advice of an honest man, brought out from the Old Country to advise us in this mat-‘ ter, they will make a fatal mistake.
– A brither Scot, too.
-“ Brither Scots” are not very bad men. They control London ; they control many parts of the world, and do not make very many mistakes. They are at the head, of all the big establishments. I am not a “ brither Scot.” but a Canadian. I would point out that woollen mills have been established in Geelong for many years, and have been a great success. It will be sheer madness on the part of this Commonwealth to attempt to start Woollen Mills at Yass-Canberra.
– Why did you vote for Yass-Canberra, then? You were the deciding factor. You cut yourself adrift. You made a prisoner of yourself by cutting off your telephone.
– I voted for YassCanberra because, under the Constitution’, the Federal Capital had to be in. New South Wales.
– Yass-Canberra is not the only place in that State.
– Well, in my opinion, it was the best site of all.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to address himself to the question before the Committee.
– I think that I know something about factories and practical work. I know a good deal about wool, because I am a wool-grower. If it were right and proper for me to do so,I would lay immense odds that the Woollen Mills will be a failure from the start if they are established at Yass-Canberra. To begin with, how are we to get labour there ?
– It will be almost impossible to get labour.to remain there. Honorable senators must recognise that expert labour will be required. Why are all our match factories established in large centres of population? Because it would be difficult to obtain suitable labour in the country. If this factory be established at Yass-Canberra . I predict that it will be a failure, and that no expert will be able to make it a success. It might possibly be a success in ten, twenty, or thirty years’ time, but undoubtedly it will be a failure immediately. We know that our factories at Geelong are a success. I hope thathonorable senators will not fly in the f ace of the opinion of the expert to whom the task of selecting a suitable site was delegated.
.- It was most interesting to listen to Senator Blakely’s outburst of patriotism, which I am inclined to think was inspired by the fact that it is proposed to establish these Woollen Mills in Victoria. I intend to support the amendment of Senator Givens at the present moment, not because I believe that Yass-Canberra is the most suitable site for the erection of a woollen factory, but because that amendment, if carried, will mark the first step in the direction of diverting attention from the present unsatisfactory site at Geelong to a site which has been specially designed by nature for a mill of this character. Before the Government decided to erect a woollen mill they ought to have made absolutely certain that the necessary land would be available to them. Mr. Smail, in his report, states that the Geelong Harbor Trust has offered a suitable area to the Commonwealth free of cost. But to-day we have the Premier of Victoria declaring that the Trust had no authority to make that offer. Consequent! v. before the’ mills have been erected at’ Geelong, the Commonwealth has been evicted by the Victorian Government.
– Then we ought to have some statement from the Minister on the subject.
– Did not Mr. Watt contradict that assertion in to-day’s newspapers ?
– No. Mr. Watt said-
Mr. Fisher is reported to have stated in conversation with a State member on Tuesday, that he considered it part of the agreement that the land should be given free, and that, if that were broken, he would feel at liberty to look elsewhere for a site. A Geelong paper, commenting yesterday on the situation, staled that Mr. Watt had said that he would withdraw his opposition. The Premier stated yesterday that this w_as incorrect.
In other words, he does not intend to with draw his opposition.
– No. He said that the whole statement was incorrect.
– His reference was to the statement of the Geelong newspaper.
– Another important factor in the erection of woollen mills has only been touched upon once bv Mr. Smail in h;s search for a suitable site - I refer to the question of motive power. Surely that is a most important factor in pro duction. In Launceston Mr. Smail was offered by the Mayor of the municipality
– Is Launceston in the State which the honorable senator represents ?
– That question is quite beside the mark. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will for once take a national view of. this matter.
– I take such a broad view that I have looked over Bass Strait.
– The Mayor of Launceston offered Mr. Smail the necessary motive power at three-eighths of a penny per unit. That I am credibly informed is cheaper than it is supplied in any part of the world. -It does not represent £5 per annum per horse-power. In the south of the island we can get terms quite equal to these from a company which’ will be operating there in the very near future. Let us see what Mr. Smail said regarding the climatic conditions and water supply of Launceston and Hobart. Of Launceston he wrote -
In climatic conditions and natural local facilities this place is quite equal to the previous best place. The conditions are ideal for cloth manufacture, and I am confident that we could produce cloth here second to none in Australia. But when considered regarding labour conditions, railway and shipping facilities, as a distributing centre, it has to take second place to Geelong. The mayor offers electrical power at three-eighths of a penny per unit, and water tor a domestic supply free.
Of Hobart he wrote -
The climatic conditions obtaining here are, in my opinion, quite equal to Launceston, and in all other respects they are very similar. The actual sites shown here are not equal to Launceston, and it is naturally more isolated.
That is an extraordinary statement to come from an expert - the assertion that Hobart is isolated.
– From the rest of the Commonwealth.
– Why, vessels from the other end of the world and from the mainland of Australia call at Hobart. Yet Mr. Smail has the temerity to say that that port, which is one of the finest in the world, is isolated.
– The honorable senator accepted Mr. Smail as an expert when he quoted his opinion in regard to Launceston. Therefore, he ought not to discount his view of the claims of Hobart.
– There may be some justification for Mr. Smail’s statement that a difficulty in transit would be experienced in the case of Launceston. Speaking of Hobart, he continues -
Although it is a good place to manufacture cloth, I do not consider it central enough for a Government factory.
As to transit we know that, at very short intervals, ships visit that port which are capable of carrying away in their holds all the cloth that Tasmania can produce in a year. Yet Mr Smail declares as a reason for excluding Hobart that it is isolated. I do not think it is quite fair for Senator Blakey to level a charge of parochialism against me. I am first and always a good Australian.
– But it is necessary to prove it, and not merely to say it.
– In what way can I saisfy the honorable senator with proof? I say that there area number of sites in Tasmania equal in every respect to that of Geelong, and that in these circumstances the State which I represent is entitled to consideration at the hands of the Government. I have no desire to labour this question. I hope that Senator Givens’ amendment will be carried. It will then be open to us to take the necessary action to divert the erection of this mill from Geelong to the State of Tasmania.
– If the request be carried the selection will lie between Geelong and Launceston.
– No. In that case the question will be entirely reopened. If Senator Givens’ amendment be carried it will be an intimation to the Government that these woollen mills are not to be established at Geelong.
– I have listened with a great deal of attention to everything that has been said upon this question, and more especially to the remarks of the Minister of Defence, because I recognise that he has the ability to make out the best case for the side which he advocates. I was very much impressed by his arguments, although some of them will not hold water when dissected. Take, for example, the excuse which he offered for flouting the decision of the Senate, that all Commonwealth factoriesshould be established within the Federal Territory where practicable. It is unfortunate that so many persons who are not prepared to press things to their logical conclusion should have insisted upon the insertion in that motion of the words “ where practicable.” They remind me of a gentleman who was asked if he desired to go to heaven, and who replied, “ when practicable,’’ by which I suppose he meant that he would like to go there when he could no longer stay here. Why were the words “ where practicable “ inserted in the motion which was adopted by this Chamber? It was because we recognised that certain things relating to the Federation, such as dock-yards, and possibly the Naval College, could not established at an inland town.
– We had Jervis Bay.
– We did not have Jervis
Bay then. It was not handed over by New South Wales to the Federation at that time. Indeed, 1 am not sure what the position in regard to it is even now. What I have mentioned is the sole reason why those who favoured Senator McDougall’s motion permitted the words “where practicable” to be inserted. It was intended not to make the whole thing a ludicrous farce by providing that we should establish every new service in the Territory, including those which necessarily require to be on the coast. I do not like a Government to make excuses for flouting the declared will of Parliament or of one House of Parliament ; and I say that the reason advanced by Senator Pearce is merely an excuse, because every one here at the time recognised that those qualifying words were not meant to provide an excuse for having none of these undertakings in the Federal ‘Capital. Let us consider some of the reasons urged by the expert-. I was very much struck by his statement that we should require a large number of hands to work the Woollen Mill, 60 per cent. of whom wouldbe unmarried females. Probably the reason for that is that this gentleman has come from the Old Country, where cheap labour and female labour are so largely employed ; and apparently he has made up his mind that he must, for the same reason, have 60 per cent. of female labour at this Woollen Mill. I do not know very much about the woollen industry, having merely visited a mill or two; but I do say that, whilst female labour may be especially suitable for some portions of the work, in all probability the chief reason for the large employment of female labour in woollen factories elsewhere is its cheapness in comparison with male labour. But I do not think that even in order to make this factory a success commercially, nor even to advertise a State enterprise, we should consent to the tactics of employing underpaid and sweated female labour. The desirableness of producing a favorable balance-sheet will not, I hope, induce us to consent to that.
– Female labour is especially suitable for the work.
– The chief recommendation for its employment elsewhere is that it is cheap. Whilst deftness of hand may make that kind of labour particularly applicable to some portions of the woollen industry, I am satisfied that nothing like 60 per cent, is necessary ; nor would that percentage be employed, except that female labour is so very much cheaper than male labour. Senator Pearce says that the expert had no axe to grind, and that it is not fair to attribute bias to him. But there is a very good reason why Mr. Smail should be biased. He says that he cannot see how, if we establish the factory at YassCanberra, it could comply with rule 3. I asked the Minister whether this gentleman was. to be the manager of the factory, and he replied in the affirmative. Now, rule 3 provides that the manager is to be responsible for the financial success of the factory. Naturally, if he is to work it as a financial success, he would like it to be where labour is cheap and most readily available. That is the reason why he did not favour establishing the factory at a place like Yass-Canberra. So that, whilst not attributing any unfair motives to Mr. Smail, I say that the Government, by employing him as manager,- and giving him the choice of the situation for the factory, for the financial success of which he is made responsible, obviously caused him to desire to select a site where the cheapest and most abundant labour would be available. Senator Givens presented a pretty well unanswerable argument why this factory should be established at YassCanberra; and Senator Pearce presented another one quite unconsciously when in mournful tones he implored the Senate not to be induced to vote for the amendment on the ground that many honorable senators might support it, not for the sake of YassCanberra, but for the sake of getting a “ look in “ for- their own favored sites. He pointed mournfully to the probable fact that Senator Long, on the one hand, would vote against the Geelong site, in the hope of getting the factory established at Launceston ; and that honorable senators from other
States might vote for the request with similar ends in view. Suppose that we all voted for the amendment for such reasons. What would it show ? lt would show that, in our opinion, now is the time to prevent that kind of thing from occurring. It would show that, in our opinion, now is the time to put an end to such parochial jealousy by sticking to the terms of the re-, solution passed by the Senate that the services under the control of the Common-: wealth should be established in Commonwealth Territory. I was rather amusedby some of the arguments advanced by my venerable friend Senator Fraser. I am sure he will believe me when I say that it was with a measure of regret that I heard him say publicly that it was his intention not to seek the suffrages of the electors at the next election. Because, whilst we may fight and try to overcome our opponents, we may nevertheless look with kindly feelings on one another, apart from campaign work j and I think we can express an honest feeling of regret at the prospect of parting from one of our friends opposite. But there is one thing that somewhat reconciles me to the fact that Senator Fraser is leaving us.
– Has the retirement of Senator Fraser anything to do with the establishment of the Woollen Factory at Geelong?
– No; the honorable senator is out of order.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman ; but I was referring to the matter only incidentally. I shall, I think, be perfectly in order in my next sentence. I was about to say I am somewhat reconciled to the fact that we shall be parting from Senator Fraser, when I remember that he has such an immense knowledge of so many industries - railway contracting, pastoral pursuits, day labour, match factories, woollen factories, and various other industries that occupy our attention from time to time. I rather look forward with relief to sitting in company with some one who will be on a par with myself in respect to such matters.
– The honorable senator is again out of order.
– I have no intention of “ stone- wal ling “ this item. I was dealing with the Minister’s argument, in which he deplored the fact that some honorable senators would vote for Senator Givens’ motion, not for the purpose of favoring the selection of Yass-Canberra, but from the ulterior motive that they favored other sites in their own States ; and 1 say that that is a strong argument why any Government should endeavour to carry out faithfully the terms of the resolution passed by the Senate a year ago, and use every effort to secure the establishment of Commonwealth factories in Commonwealth Territory. The statement of the Minister that Mr. Smail’s report is binding on the Government seems to me an admission that we have to run to somebody else for our policy in everything.
– I did not say “ binding on the Government.” I said “ guiding the Government.”
– It amounts practically to the same thing in the result. If we are not to have a Government with a mind of its own, let us run this country by means of a committee of experts.
– If the honorable senator sent for a doctor, who prescribed a certain course, I suppose he would do the opposite ?
– Not necessarily; but I should take as much of his advice as I thought fit. As a matter of fact, I never remember having had to send for’ a doctor. Whilst we may be guided by the advice of experts on purely technical matters, I say that this is a matter of principle and policy, and not a technicality; and if the Government is going to shelter itself bethind the views of some expert, who naturally has a bias in the direction of working the factory as cheaply as possible, even with the aid of a lot of girl labour, I am very sorry that such an admission should be made. We have heard from Senator Blakey that the land for building the factory is to be offered by the Geelong Harbor Trust. But that only puts the site on a level with Yass-Canberra, because there we shall have free land of our own. Moreover, by attracting a population to YassCanberra, we shall help to send up the value of surrounding land, which is also owned by the Commonwealth. I venture to say that Ministers who set this bad example, and honorable senators who are attracted by their excuses for not establishing the factory at the Federal Capital, have never realized the value of the Capital at all They have been compelled by the Constitution to conform to the letter of the law ; but the spirit is not in them, or they would not be haggling over such matters as the respective advantages of Geelong, Launceston, Ipswich, and other places.
They would realize the desirableness of establishing Commonwealth enterprises at a place which belongs to the Australian people as a whole, and where we can build up land values in such a way as to make the Capital site still more valuable. We ought to try to make this Capital a Mecca for all Australia, the one spot to which the energies of the Commonwealth should be devoted in making it an ideal city, owned by the whole people of Australia, cherished as a monument of their nationhood. I do not think that the Minister’s arguments were any better than special pleading. As to the argument that sufficient labour is not available at Yass-Canberra, Senator Givens has pointed out that by placing a perpetual bar on the establishment of industries there we shall prevent the aggregation of population. Does any one imagine that when the Federal Capital is built the head officers who are housed there will put their sons and daughters to factory life? Not if they can help it: Does any one imagine that the members of the Federal Parliament will reside every month of every year, in the Federal Capital? There are obvious reasons for asserting that they will not. They will necessarily have to visit their respective constituencies. If we are going to wait for population before we do anything at the Federal Capital we are, while, per- haps, keeping the letter of the Constitution in establishing a place to be known as the Federal Capital, taking every possible care that it shall never be more than a paltry village.
– Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is only a small place, and will always be a small place. So will YassCanberra.
– We may, perhaps, know more than the Canadians do about some things. With all respect to my venerable friend I hope we shall not go to Canada to learn how to establish a Federal Capital, though, by going there we might avoid some of the errors which the Canadians have fallen into. Having obtained a fairly large Territory surrounding the site of the Capital it is our obvious duty to make it a payable asset to the Commonwealth which is charged with finding the money to develop it. I hope that honorable senators will not be influenced by Senator. Pearce’s argument about the hereditary qualifications of the people of Geelong for the manufacture of woollens. There have been two or three woollen mills established there for many years. They have nearly gone “ bung “ on many occasions, and have been struggling infant industries since I can recollect.
– There have been woollen mills there for the last forty years.
– I am aware of that. The first time I arrived at the dignity of a suit of clothes it was made of Geelong cloth, but the people of Geelong have not made such a marvellous success of the woollen industry as to have bred up a whole race of persons as deft at the business as are the people of certain towns in the Old Country. The fame of Geelong, as a centre of woollen manufacture, has not become as widespread, and as hallmarked, as the fame of Nottingham for laces, or Birmingham for buttons. The fact is that there is only a small percentage of the people of Geelong who know anything of the woollen industry. It is playing a little low down to ask honorable senators to swallow very much of that kind of “ flap-doodle.” The woollen industry has not been established on anything like so large a scale in Geelong as to have bred up generations of people specially skilled in the industry. We can brush all that kind of argument aside as very special pleading. Honorable senators frequently claim to be acquainted with remote distances of this continent, and they must be aware that big populations have often been attracted to spots that previously had been in the actual wilderness whenever they offered inducements in the shape of a high remuneration for labour. It is an absurdity to say that we could not get a sufficient supply of labour for a woollen mill at a place that is only a three or four hours’ run by rail from Sydney. It is only 6 or. 7 miles from Queanbeyan, which is on a line running almost to the Victorian border, and is connected via Goulburn with the main line between Sydney and Melbourne, and at no distant date will have a further connexion with that line at Yass. Whatever defects may attach to Yass-Canberra, it is certainly centrally situated, so far as New South Wales is concerned, and is easily accessible by rail from almost any direction. It is unthinkable to suppose that we could not get a sufficient supply of labour there when the place is only three or four hours’ run from the biggest city in Australia. The Minister has referred to the difficulty of getting special men for casual jobs at the Military College without paying them an additional rate. But the employment of men in a city is a very different thing from their employment at Duntroon on the class of work at which the men engaged at the Military College are employed. With regard to the water supply, 1 may be allowed to point out that Mr. Smail does not condemn it, but says that it is not available. We must have a water supply for the Federal Capital, and the same water could be used for the woollen mill. We have been considering only this very day a vote for this water supply, and we must secure such a supply if the establishment of the Federal Capital is ever to be advanced a single stage. Personally,I should prefer to delay the establishment of the woollen mill for another year, rather than that it should be established anywhere but at the Federal Capital. I should be prepared to say the same with respect to the establishment of any other Commonwealth factory. I want to put an end to the scrambling by representatives of different States of the Commonwealth for the establishment of Federal enterprises in their particular States.
– Where does the scrambling come in?
– It comes in in the fact that every Victorian representative would’ rather die than not get up and say a word for Geelong. Some honorable senators are against the establishment of the factory at Geelong, because they wish to have it established in some other part of the Commonwealth. The Minister of Defence has himself afforded one of the best arguments why we should not have these questions settled according to the way in which they affect particular States.
– The expert has recommended Geelong.
– He was naturally influenced by the condition that he must make a financial success of the woollenmill, or take the responsibility of failure.
– If the expert says that Geelong is the best site, and a number of honorable senators suggest other sites, who is to decide?
– Senator Rae.
– No. I claim that the Senate decided last year that where practicable all Commonwealth factories should be established in Commonwealth Territory. There has been nothing in the report of the expert, or the arguments of the Minister of Defence, to show that there is anything impracticable about the establishment of this Woollen Factory in the Federal
Territory. The statement about the labour difficulty has been blown to the winds. To say that we could not find a sufficient supply of labour when the Federal Capital is only three or four hours’ run by rail from the biggest city of the Commonwealth is unadulterated humbug. The fact that the expert was only in one place for a few moments before he “ jigged” away to another does not justify those who have been inAustralia all their lives in accepting his judgment. Probably as a man fresh from the Old Country he would consider a place at a distance of half-an-hour’s walk quite inaccessible, while those of us who have known what it is to carry “ bluey “ would think no more of going 1,000 miles than he would think of travelling as many yards.
– Why did not honorable senators raise all these difficulties when the Harness Factory was being established in Melbourne?
– There is no reason whatever why it should not have been established in the Federal Capital, but some of us were not here when that matter was being settled.
– The honorable senator was here at the time.
– The honorable senator was caught napping for once.
– I am not cornered at all. The answer to those who talk of cornering me about the establishment of the Harness Factory in Melbourne is that it was because the Ministry departed from the proper principle by wandering all over the Commonwealth in order to placate political supporters or to sweeten this or that locality, to find a place in which to establish Commonwealth factories, that we decided to make the Federal Capital a real thing, and not a sham and a farce, by carrying the resolution which has been referred to. When I ask honorable senators now to act upon that resolution I am greeted with abuse.
– No, we are only sorry for the honorable senator.
– Senator Russell for one joined with me when I opposed the selection of Yass-Canberra, and took up a position which was not satisfactory to the people of my own State. I showed in that case that no parochial feelings influenced me.
– Victorian representatives supported the honorable senator on that occasion.
– They knew better than to injure their political skins by doing any thing else. It is a stupid argument to say that they voted against the selection of Yass-Canberra.
– The honorable senator’s argument is a stupid argument.
– If Senator Barker would bark less and listen more he would realize that Victorian representatives were in an absolutely different position from that which I occupied in the matter referred to.
– We like the honorable senator as a fighter, but not as a martyr.
– I am not posing as a martyr when I say that I can prove that I acted in that matter in no parochial spirit. But I said that, having once settled where the Capital should be, it was our duty to make it a success, to build it with the utmost expedition, and to induce people to go there by giving them something to do when they got there. The Minister of Defence has done the best he could with a rotten case, but he has failed to make out a case which should convince any one who has at heart a desire to make the Federal Capital a real thing and not a sham and farce, as I am reluctantly compelled to believe the Government desire to make it.
.- The eleventh hour patriotism which has been manifested by some members of the Senate is extremely interesting and .somewhat amusing. I ‘am satisfied that Senator Givens and one or two other honorable senators who have spoken are actuated by pure patriotism in their desire to have the Woollen Factory established in the Federal Capital. But when Senator Long gets up to assist Senator Givens in his amendment for the reduction of this vote he does not exhibit the same spirit. The honorable senator is anxious to support the amendment, not because he wishes the Woollen Factory established at Yass-Canberra, but because he is anxious that it should be established in Tasmania. Senator Rae says that the Government influenced the report of Mr. Smail.
– Senator Pearce said- so himself.
– That is a wrong statement to make. It is unfair, not only to the Government, but to a gentleman who was imported to Australia for the express purpose of visiting the different States in order to select a suitable site for this factory. He is a man of wide practical experience, which qualifies him for the task.
– Were there no Aus tralian men competent to advise the Government on this matter?
– Apparently the man who has been appointed to this positionshas qualifications over and above those possessed by any man in Australia. He came here untrammelled, unfettered, and without bias or prejudice in any possible direction.
– Because we had no competent man here, you say?
– We believe that Mr. Smail is the best possible man for the position which he is filling, and will fill later on, we hope, to the complete satisfaction of the Government, the employes of the mills, and the citizens of Australia. He was commissioned to visit, as I said, the different States. He was on tour for quite a long time.
– A nice picnic.
– It was not a nice picnic, I think, for him, because he was extremely anxiousto get to work as quickly as possible. But he was not anxious to commence operations until he had satisfied himself that the best site was definitely fixed upon.
– Is he at work now?
– I should say that he is engaged in connexion with the Department. He has been a busy man all his life, and he is usefully engaged, I should say, at the present time. He visited thirty-three places, and in making these visits he took into consideration the water supply, the quality and the quantity of the water, the drainage, the climatic conditions as regards the manufacture of woollen cloth, the comfort of employes, the proximity to wool markets, the railway and shipping facilities, the conditions of labour, the geographical position as a distributing centre, and the local conditions in regard to effect and economical working. And he had no hesitation whatever in recommending Geelong as the most suitable place in the Commonwealth for the establishment of these Woollen Mills.
– What were his instructions when he started to make these examinations.
– To place the Woollen Mills in the Federal Capital if at all possible.
– And YassCanberra was the first place he visited.
– Did he say it was impossible?
– What Mr. Smail said has already been quoted by the Minister of Defence. It does seem extraordinary that when a recommendation, such as we have had from Mr. Smail, has been made to the Government, and they have accepted it, opposition is shown to it by honorable senators who have never shown any opposition to any other project which has been established in this State up to the present time.
– We did by the motion which was carried last year.
– There was on the last Estimates an amount for the establishment of a Harness Factory. There was on the last Estimates an amount for the establishment of a Clothing Factory at South Melbourne, and there is an amount on the present Estimates for an extension of the factory at South Melbourne. There was on the last Estimates an amount for the establishment of a Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, and an amount for the establishment of a Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. But not until an amount appears on the Estimates for the establishment of Woollen Mills at Geelong, is any evidence forthcoming of opposition from a member of the Senate.
– I have always expressed my disapproval of these projects being established outside ‘the Federal Territory.
– I believe that the honorable senator has been consistent in that regard.
– And so have I.
– I do not remember any honorable senator moving for the reduction of an amount on the Estimates to test the Committee in regard to the principle which has been raised by Senator Givens to-day.
– We only take drastic action now when we find that our other remonstrances have been of no avail.
– When Senator Rae says that Mr. Smail was biased against the establishment of an industry in some part of Australia, because there would not be a sufficient supply of cheap labour, he has a very poor opinion of the Government.
– This manager, you say, is supposed to conduct the factory economically, and he is a Scotchman.
– The Clothing Factory at South Melbourne is managed economically, and the work is turned out there more satisfactorily to the Department, and more cheaply, although the workers’ are better paid, and their conditions are immeasurably better than are those prevailing in any private establishment. I do hope that the Committee will not follow Senator Givens in his desire to have the amount on the Estimates reduced. I can understand Senators Rae and Givens having that desire, but it is not consistent on the part of some of those who are supporting the latter, when they desire the industry to be established, not in the Federal Territory, but in Tasmania. I do not know what combination has been brought about, but I hope that a majority of the Committee will vote for the retention of the amount, and that the Woollen Mills, as recommended by the expert, will be established at Geelong.
– I do not desire to offer an apology for opposing the amendment on the ground that I am a Victorian. I do not think that the fact of being a Victorian makes me any the less an Australian. I notice to-night that an honorable senator who desired to point out the magnificent service he had rendered by voting for a site which was supposed to be suitable for the establishment of the factory, seemed more than anxious to pose- on the border line of martyrdom.
– Nothing of the sort. I showed that I was consistent.
– I support the general principle of establishing, as far as practicable, all industries at YassCanberra. I do not know why that remark should cause Senator Millen to smile, because I am not aware of any votes I have given which could be classed as parochial. Whether I have been asked to vote money to establish the Federal Capital or to put a duty on bananas, I have always been an Australian. I think that the opposition to this item ought to be honest and quite candid. We had to-night, for the purpose of bolstering up the opposition and trying to put forward the virtues of Launceston as against those of Geelong, Senator Long not only deliberately misquoting a statement made by the Premier of Victoria, but actually forgetting to read the whole of the letter. As he only quoted such portions as were suitable to him, I intend to read the whole of the letter -
At the close of the meeting of the Cabinet on Monday, the Premier (Mr. Watt) said that the question of the granting by the Geelong Harbor Trust to the Commonwealth Government of a site for woollen mills was under consideration. He added that there was an impression among
Ministers that the Commonwealth Government should pay for any property that it acquired. Mr. Fisher is reported to have stated in conversation with a State member on Tuesday, that he considered it part of the agreement that the land should be given free, and that, if that were broken, he would feel at liberty to look elsewhere for a site. A Geelong paper, commenting yesterday on the situation, stated that Mr. Watt had said that he would withdraw his opposition. The Premier stated yesterday, that this was incorrect.
Senator Long stopped reading the letter at that point. It continues as follows: -
He had never evinced any opposition. All he had said was that he would wait until Mr., Holden, the chairman of the Geelong Harbor Trust, had returned to Melbourne before form-‘ ing an opinion as to whether the bargain was a good one or a bad one.
The letter, I think, bears quite a different construction from that which Senator Long went to considerable pains to place upon it.
– Does it mean that the land has really been granted ?
– It justifies the statement that Mr. Watt has not yet agreed to the proposal of the Harbor Trust.
– The Geelong Harbor Trust is invested with certain powers and has certain lands under its control. If it believes that it is rendering a good service by making this offer to the Commonwealth Government, and subsequently recommending it for adoption, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it will be gladly availed of, and adopted by the Victorian Government. There is a big principle at the bottom of this discussion, and it is that the Government are pledged to the establishment of certain industries in connexion- with defence. These industries, in the experimental stage, will do a good deal of harm to this principle if they are not a commercial success. 1 do not mean that they are to be run on the ordinary grad-grind principle of commercialism, but they should be given every opportunity to succeed, and to do that they should be established under such conditions as will give them an equaL chance with ordinary private industries.
– In congested centres.
– Not necessarily.. Let me first take Yass-Canberra, which hasbeen suggested. One of the first principlesguiding Mr. Smail in attempting to select a place was that it must be near a running; stream. Senator Rae, to bolster up his case, quoted Yass-Canberra. as being 7 miles from’ Queanbeyan. How many moremiles is it before the Cotter River isreached ?
– The water has to be brought to the city, anyhow.
– I admit that. How long shall we have to delay the establishment of the Woollen Mills to get a sufficient water supply brought there by means of pipes? So far, there has never been a suggestion made to Parliament to bring water in a sufficiently large quantity to Yass-Canberra that would lead one to believe that there would be a supply available for the working of woollen mills. Look at the capital expenditure which would have to be incurred. It would cost at least 20 per cent, more to erect woollen mills anywhere near the Cotter River. Before we could get to that river, or to a suitable site for the factory, we would have to cross the Mumimbidgee River, and the very cost of carting the material would place a great handicap upon the industry, which we wish to be a success.
– The water must be brought there in any case.
– How long does the honorable senator think it will be before it will be brought in sufficient quantity from the Cotter River to YassCanberra ?
– It will all depend upon the earnestness of the Government.
– I have never noticed the honorable senator prodding the Government to spend any more money at Yass-Canberra.
– I have been doing so all the session.
– The honorable senator voted against Yass-Canberra as the most unsuitable place in Australia.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– The labour question has been introduced ; but I do not think that the proportion of female against male labour enters into the consideration of this matter at all. I do not believe that Senator Rae thinks that any industry under the control of the Minister of Defence will employ a larger proportion of female labour than is required, merely for sweating purposes.
– The Minister himself used that argument.
– I used Mr. Smail’s report, but I did not say whether I indorsed it or not.
– The Minister stated that it was necessary for woollen mills to be established close to a big centre of population, where a certain amount of female labour would be available. That is quite a different matter from declaring that he desired to avail himself of that class of labour. I wish to see these mills a success, but I desire only the best labour to be employed in them. If necessary, I should be prepared to sanction “the importation of expert labour with that end in view. I say that Geelong possesses a settled population which includes a number of young persons who have had a large experience of work in woollen mills. It is in direct touch by rail with Ballarat, Warrnambool, and Castlemaine, in all of which places similar mills have been established.
– And with Marrickville.
– The places which I have mentioned are all within 70 miles of Geelong, so that their position is quite different from that of Marrickville. I believe that Geelong is a suitable spot for the establishment of Commonwealth Woollen Mills from every stand-point. I regret that antagonism is aroused by any proposal to start an industry in Victoria. I believe that Mr. Smail is possessed of sufficient knowledge to be classed as an expert in the matter of the selection of a suitable site. He has chosen Geelong, and I think we should adopt his recommendation. I believe that the Government are embarking on an industry which is destined to be a very big one in Australia. I would like to see experiments conducted in these mills, with a view to developing and extending that industry. I hope that the amendment will be negatived, and that we shall speedily see a woollen factory established at Geelong, which, after all, is in Australia.
– When addressing the Committee, Senator Findley said that extraordinary affirmations had been made during the course of this debate. He well might make that statement, seeing that he proceeded at once to add to those affirmations. I venture to say that nothing half so extraordinary has been addressed to the Committee as one of his own statements. After finding fault with Senator Givens for moving this amendment, he went on to say that he found equal fault with other honorable senators for not having submitted a similar amendment last year. But what was the position then, and what is it now? During the past twelve months a good deal of money has been expended upon the Federal Capital. It was reasonable to assume that, as the Federal Territory was developed, the Government would bring Commonwealth enterprises into that Territory. Yet we find that their policy is to put those enterprises anywhere but in Federal Territory. Senator Findley referred to the site of the Small Arms Factory, at Lithgow, and affirmed that no protest was entered against its adoption. Does he not know that that site was selected before the transfer of the Federal Territory took place? That is a complete answer to his statement, and the same reply is applicable to one or two other sites chosen for factories in Victoria.
I have not the slightest word to say against the suitability of the site at Geelong. I believe it is entirely fitted for the enterprise which it is proposed to establish there. Consequently, my vote must not be regarded as in any way questioning its suitability. But it is reasonable to suppose that Mr. Smail never considered the matter of policy at all. As the manager of these mills, he probably asked himself where he could start them with the best chance of making them a commercial success.
– He was instructed that it was the policy of the Government to establish them in the Federal Territory if they could be made a success there.
– So far, I have not met Mr. Smail, but I suppose that he is a human being like ourselves. Consequently, he is subject to those conscious, or unconscious, influences which affect us all. Coming here as a commercial man, and knowing that the management of this factory would fall into his hands, he naturally desired to start it under conditions which would enable him to show the best possible results at the earliest date. We also wish to see it a success, but we recognise that we have to make the Federal Territory a paying concern also. That is a point of view which, I venture to say, Mr. Smail did not consider, and which he was not competent to consider in the same way as are honorable senators.
– He was instructed to consider it.
– I quite accept the Minister’s statement. But is it reasonable to suppose that Mr. Smail was competent to nicely balance the two opposing advantages? The consideration which would appeal to him most strongly was how he could make these mills a commercial success at the earliest possible date. On the other hand, we have to recollect that we have taken over a Federal Territory with the intention of carrying on certain works there. We have to face a very considerable financial outlay, and the only way in which we can make the enterprise justify itself is by putting imp it every expenditure of public money that we can, realizing that every pound that we spend there, and every additional inhabitant that we attract, will impart an increased value to its lands. Suppose that the establishment of these Woollen Mills in the Federal Territory did involve a loss at the outset. What is the position? Is it intended to make the factory at Geelong a permanent one?
– Some of the other factories which have been started in Victoria are only of a temporary character, and where temporary factories are established outside the Federal Territory, in order to institute a fair comparison, we have to consider what will be the cost of placing them upon a permanent basis.
Before stating finally the chief difficulty with which we are confronted, let me refer to one or two of the arguments that have been advanced by the supporters of the Government proposal. Senator Blakey stressed the point that Geelong possesses a technical college, that a section of its population is skilled in this particular industry, and that it is close to a wool market. If these are arguments why we should “ not establish woollen mills in Federal Territory, and if practical effect had been given to them in the earlier history of this country, there would have been no Geelong today. The pioneers would have said, “ There is no technical college here now, there is no industry which has a population trained to its needs, and, therefore, we will not start a factory.”
– Geelong only occupied the same position in that respect as other places.
– There is one spot where the industry was started first of all. It is a peculiar thing that the pioneers generally make mistakes. I do not attach any importance to the fact that the Federal Terrritory is to-day labouring under certain disabilities. But if that circumstance is. to restrain us from starting Commonwealth enterprises there, we shall never establish a single factory within its borders. Do those who rely upon that argument intend to keep these enterprises out of the Territory for ever? If the Government had been desirous of giving effect to the resolution which the Senate adopted last year, they would have said, “ Even if we lose a little upon our initial venture, in order to secure a start within the Federal Territory we will establish these Woollen Mills there, knowing, as we do, that every enterprise so established’ will make it less difficult for other enterprises to succeed there.” I approach this question from the stand-point of the enhanced land values which may be created by our own expenditure in Federal Territory. Senator
Givens has suggested that if these Woollen Mills were started there they would attract a population of 10,000. Let- honorable senators, reflect upon the value of lands in towns which have a population of 10,000. Orange and Bathurst, I suppose, boast a slightly larger population, which numbers, perhaps, 10,000 or 12,000. ‘I ask honorable senators to reflect upon the values which attach to business sites there. Yet, according to Senator Givens, those values would represent the result of establishing only one factory within the Federal Territory. One factory employing 10,000 souls would give us land values approximating to such as are found in a place like Bathurst to-day. If we can, by establishing one or two Government enterprises in the. Federal Territory, create those values, we at once provide a fund from which we can build most of the city, and a good many of the public buildings as well. It is solely from that point of view that I approach this matter. If it were merely a question of removing the woollen factory from Geelong to Botany, near Sydney, I should be against it. But it is a matter of hard-headed business to try to spend our own money where we can get the increment of value which will result from the expenditure. If we were discussing this as an abstract proposition, every one would say at once that-our own Territory was the proper place in which to spend our money. But we must consider the practical difficulties of the situation. I have already said that Government money, as far as possible; ought to be spent on Government property. But I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that, at the present time, for reasons which I think constitute a charge of negligence or indifference against the Government, it is quite obvious that the Federal Territory is not fully developed as we should like it to be, and is not, perhaps, sufficiently developed to entitle us to establish a factory there now. That is a. fact which we have to recognise.
The statement made by the Minister, matters pointed out by Mr. Smail, and other matters which occur to our minds instinctively suggest that the Territory is illequipped at present for the establishment of factories there. But who is to blame for that? Not this Parliament. The Government have to accept the responsibility. Ministers have been two years in office, and have never approached this House asking for a grant for the development of the Federal Territory that has been refused. Nevertheless, they have failed to take the matter up in earnest, and in a practical way. We certainly had a right to hope that they would have proceeded with the development of the Territory at a more rapid rate. But’ can we say that it is a fair, right, and justifiable thing to start the factory at the Federal Territory at the present moment?
– If we start works at the same time as we start the factory, we shall have them all finished together.
– I recognise that if we do decide to start the factory there now, it will mean some delay as compared with starting at Geelong ; how much delay will depend entirely on the intentions of the Government in regard to public works at YassCanberra. If the Government merely mean to proceed at their own snail’s pace, it would certainly tie up the factory for two or three years. But it is possible so to speed up work as to make the Territory fit for the factory within a few months.
– I should not like to have to do it.
– My honorable friend would, I am sure, like, as I should, to take over that Territory upon the terms upon which the Commonwea1th Government has it. In twenty-four hours, with his good and powerful aid, in this city, I have not the slightest doubt that I could form a syndicate which would undertake to create the city for the Commonwealth, and give it all the” public buildings it required, if allowed to take the unearned increment for the short space of 100 years. That is the position. The Federal Capital business can be made the best business undertaking that has ever been entered upon by any Govern”ment in Australia.
– The honorable senator is quite a champion of the unearned increment now.
– When there is a chance of championing the unearned incre- ment, its so-called champion runs away from it, and tries to give an unearned increment to the private land-holders at Geelong. I believe that we ought to spend every possible pound in the Territory, but, nevertheless, I recognise that it is useless to affirm that we should establish the Woollen Factory there unless the Government intends to proceed with the building of the city at a more rapid rate than it shows any inclination to do at the present moment. Only £68,000 was spent last year, and I presume that no more will be spent this year. If the Government are going to stand idle, it is useless to place Commonwealth factories there. That is the crux of the position. If the Government only intend to spend such a small amount each year for a number of years, it will be a long time before we can safely start factories, and our aspirations in that direction must be indefinitely postponed. But, on the other hand, if the Government determine seriously and earnestly to take in hand the building of the city, and will postpone the erection of the Woollen Factory for a few months, we can make the Capital fit for the undertaking then. What are the Government going to do? The answer is to be found in this Bill. I think that it is not the intention of the Government, if they can help it, to proceed vigorously with the building of the city ; and if they have made up their mind not to push ahead with the work, we must wait and endure the evil results of their action. I shall vote for Senator Givens’ amendment, not because I think that the factory can be established at Yass-Canberra at the present time, but as a protest against the lack of earnestness shown by the Government in making preparations to place this and other Government enterprises within the Federal Territory.
– I had made up my mind when this amendment was first submitted that I could not support it, but the remarks of Senator Russell and others have caused me to consider other questions and aspects before I can give a vote. I can understand the anxiety of the honorable senator to keep the Woollen Factory in Victoria. I can understand the strength of the argument that there is a better class of factory labour in Victoria than in New South Wales. Personally, I hope that it will continue to be so. I have had some experience of factory life, and I hope that when it comes to be a question of increasing that class of labour, Victoria will always be ahead of New South Wales. She has had about thirty or forty years of Protection, and it may be that she has trained a large class of factory hands who are superior for work of this kind. The fact that many of the men of Victoria have been attracted by work in the more healthy States has left a’ large proportion of women workers, whose’ helpmay be necessary in’ factories of this kind, available in Victoria. That consideration weighs with me a good deal. If it were merely a question of voting out this proposal in order to place the factory at Botany I would not help the movement a bit. Even if we succeeded in carrying the motion I doubt whether we shouldget the factory at Botany, which, according to Mr. Smail’s report, is one of the most suitable places in the Commonwealth. I doubt whether we could get it at Liverpool’ either, which is also a place in which I am directly interested. But action of that kind would simply mean hampering the Government in establishing a Woollen factory, and would possibly bring about another scramble such as Senator Rae condemned so justly. I should like to give a vote with’ the object of closing up this matter altogether until such time as a factory can be established at Yass-Canberra. I desire to see the Federal Territory sufficiently developed to make it desirable to have Federal enterprises located there. But if the factory is to be at Geelong in the meantime,. I should like to know what the Government intend to do in regard to insisting upon acquiring’ sovereign rights over the land upon which it is built? When it was proposed that the Naval College should be in New South; Wales, the Government were not satisfied to take a grant of land from that State, but. insisted on the land being handed over to them with sovereign rights over it. I am wondering whether they will insist on the same conditions in regard to this factory. If there are good and ample reasons why the Commonwealth should have sovereign rights over land for a Naval College, there are just as good reasons for having them over land for a Federal factory. It has to be remembered that under existing conditions the Commonwealth will have to hand over to the State of Victoria 25s. per head for every unit in the State. Evidently the payment of that money will be saved so far as the employes of the Woollen Mill are concerned, if the Government insist on having sovereign rights, not only over the land on which the factory is built, but also over the area on which the employes live. Suppose there are 2,000 or 3,000 employes. Reckoning them and their dependents, it will mean that the Commonwealth will have to pay the State Government .£5,000 or £6,000 on account of them. That large sum would go a long way towards paying the interest on the money expended on the factory. That expenditure can be saved by the simple method of insisting on the same terms from Victoria, in regard to this factory, as were demanded from New South Wales in respect of the Naval College. I cannot believe that this Government will deal with Victorian’ interests in one way and with New South Wales interests in quite another. If I thought there would be any unfairness in that direction, I do not know what I should do. I observe that Mr. Smail, the expert, inspected thirty-three places, which were supposed to have claims to the establishment of the Woollen Factory. He must have been going at express speed, and is now entitled to a rest at the expense of the Government.
– He has been here twelve months.
– He certainly has not had too much time in which to visit thirty-three places from YassCanberra to Portland, and carefully inspect them all. For one thing, I must commend Mr. Smail. He has put his comments upon the various sites in a very few lines. It is quite refreshing to get information of this description compressed within a couple of sheets of printed paper. That is much more convenient than having to wade through a volume an inch thick. He puts Geelong first, Launceston second, and Botany third. I can remember hearing of Geelong tweed as long as I can remember anything, but the fact that Geelong is not much of a place, even now, suggests that the woollen industry has not been developed there to a very great extent. Is it either that or some other reason with which we are not yet acquainted?
– They have had Liberal Governments in this State.
– It may be due to the Protectionist policy. We know that the spoon-feeding policy assists industries up to a certain stage, but they must still be spoon-fed after they have reached that stage. I find that this expert visited thirtythree places. Judging by his summing up of his opinions of the different places, I should say that he was quite impartial in his judgment. He’ gives Victoria the first place, Tasmania second, with Launceston and Hobart. Botany, because of the labour and other facilities there, is given third place; Liverpool is considered rather an excellent place from the fact that Henry Bull’ & Co. manufacture woollens there to a very large extent. I have to congratulate the expert upon having discovered in Australia so many places suitable for this particular industry. To me it is idle to quibble as to whether the industry should be established in New South Wales, Victoria, or Western Australia.
– Western Australia is not in it at all ; yet it is said that the Minister influenced the report.
– Western Australia is getting a railway, for which the rest of the people of the Commonwealth will have to pay for many years to come. That, I suppose, is quite enough for one twelve months, and I think the Western Australian people are pretty well satisfied. Adelaide has also been visited by this expert. Viewing the whole of the thirtythree places mentioned in the report, and noting the small difference between them, I am firmly of opinion that when the Australian Government is .in its own home at Yass-Canberra, we shall find that industry after industry will be established there. They can be linked up by the power which will be generated by the rivers which our Victorian friends are never tired of sneering at. It will be only a matter of the development of the Australian sentiment when we shall do what Senators Rae, Millen, and Givens wish us to do now, and establish all our industries at Yass-Canberra.
– The Senate decided to do so last year.
– I do not thinkthat any one who voted for the resolution referred to by Senator Rae will be prepared to say that we should adhere to the letter of it, irrespective of commercial advantages and whether it would be common sense to do it or not. On the evidence before us, and having a knowledge of the greater part of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia and Tasmania, of which States I have no great personal knowledge, it appears to me that this factory might be established almost anywhere in the Commonwealth. The only feature which gives Victoria the advantage, and which weighs with me, is that there is in this State the class of labour most suitable for factories of this kind. A reference has been made to the establishment of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, but it cannot be placed on the same footing as a woollen factory. Irrespective of any resolution of the Senate to have all Government industries established at the Federal Capital, I should never dream of removing the Small Arms Factory from such a place as Lithgow, which is specially suitable for the purpose, not merely because there is iron and coal there, but from a defence point of view. We know that if anything like a serious attack were made upon Australia, a factory for arming our people for their - defence would be one of the chief points of attack ; and the natural defences of Lithgow render that place almost impregnable. That is a matter which should be taken into consideration in the establishment of such a factory. I have no wish to remove the existing Ammunition Factory from its present site in Victoria ; but I do think that an ammunition factory should be established at Lithgow for the same reason as that which makes it so suitable for the establishment of a small arms factory. The comparison of a small arms factory with a woollen factory is not altogether a fair one. I find from the report of the expert that although he did not visit the Rockhampton and Gladstone districts, he made exhaustive inquiries concerning them, and found that the climatic conditions were not any more suitable than at Ipswich and Brisbane. I think we can agree that that is so. Adelaide apparently is quite a possible place, but has no special facilities, and is quite out of the running against Geelong. Perth, Guildford, Bridgetown, and Collie have no outstanding features in their favour, and in spite of the proximity of coal at Collie it is regarded as quite an impossible place for the establishment of such a factory.
– Who sent the expert to such a place as Collie?
– I do not know that it was not wise to let him have a good look round ; he evidently had an opportunity to see many places- suitable for the establishment of a woollen factory, and some places unsuitable for such a purpose.
– He got a splendid holiday for a start, in being given a run round the different States.
– I have done a little travelling, and I should not regard such a run round the States as this ex pert had as a haliday. I am surprised that the Government did not instruct the expert to report upon half-a-dozen places that are known to be suitable for the establishment of a woollen factory. Liverpool, Parramatta, Botany, and Marrickville are all places at which woollen factories have been carried on for years. Then we might take Victorian centres, commencing with Geelong. We know that there would be no difficulty in establishing a woollen factory at any of these places. I . do not exactly know what is the purpose’ of the Government in the establishment of this factory. Is it intended only for the manufacture of cloth for the Defence Force and Government employes? If that be so, it is possible that we are making too much fuss about the matter altogether.
– That is a big matter when we find that none of the woollen factories in Australia would take the contract.
– This will be the biggest woollen mill in Australia.
– I do not know what the size of the mill is to be, or whether it is intended to manufacture cloth for the Defence Force and all Government officials from “ His Excellency of Yass-Canberra ‘ ‘ down.
– If it is to manufacture cloth for all our citizen soldiers that will be a very big item.
– I recognise that. It may manufacture cloth also for postal and railway officials.
– The man who will recognise the honorable senator if he keeps on much longer will be the policeman.
– I like that, when I am willing that the Government should report progress, and if they agree to do so now 1, am prepared to sit down at once. I have waited for three days and have not spoken a word upon these Works Estimates, although they contain many items of importance to the constituency I represent. Yet, when I occupy ten minutes on this important subject Senator Guthrie threatens me with force. If there is one thing I like it is trying to resist force. Senators Russell and Long have been putting up a good fight for the establishment of this Woollen Mill in their own States.
– I dp not want it in my State, because it is my State, but because that is the best place for it..
– The honorable senator knows very well that the only reason he is supporting the request moved by Senator Givens is that he hopes the decision arrived at by the Government may not be adhered to, and that he may get the ear of the Minister and induce him to establish the factory at Launceston or Hobart. I rather admire the fight which has been put up by Senators Russell, Barker, and other Victorian senators who have taken time by the forelock and have already got the ear of the Minister, and possibly also the ear of the expert. I do not mean that they have secured the ear of the expert in any underhanded way, but that they have taken advantage of opportunities to impress him with the special advantages of the Geelong site. I am sorry that I have not yet learned their up-to-date methods of fighting for my own State.
– I saw a placard on the bureau of independent workers at Geelong.
– If Packer’s brigade is strong down there that might be a very good reason for the establishment of this Woollen Mill there because I believe that people of that character are very suitable for this factory work. I had the advantage of a run through Great Britain, and what I saw there of factory work and workers did not fill me with any great desire to have factories established in my State. I say that the conditions inseparable from the manufacture of woollen goods are such that I hope that the majority of our people will always be able to enjoy a better, healthier, and more independent way of making a living. I am satisfied to let Victoria have this factory. The Victorians deserve it. They have educated their people down to it. I did intend, when I rose, to speak until 12 o’clock, but I do not wish honorable senators to miss their trains. I assure Senators Givens, Rae, and Millen that as soon as Yass-Canberra is established as the Federal Capital, as soon as the Parliament of Australia meets there, and as soon as industry after industry is established, and successfully established, there, with the necessary population, I hope to be with them in fighting to have woollen mills built up where those added values which Senator Millen spoke of so logically will be given to the land by the presence and the needs of the community in the Federal Territory.
– He was prepared to sell the whole of the Northern Territory.
– That is not true.
– You argued thai way.
– I argued against you giving big squatters big leaseholds.
– Whether Senator Millen did argue in that or any other way, there is no getting away from the logic of his argument that it would even pay a private company to undertake the erection of all the public buildings in the Australian Capital if the Government would give them just 100 years’ right to the unearned increment. With that enormous prospect before the Government, I cannot understand them not getting along with the establishment of YassCanberra at the rate of speed at which one would think it would be got along with under the able and capable management of the present Minister of Home Affairs. I was delighted indeed to hear Senator Blakey state that already there is an income of nearly £5.000 a year. But with the immediate establishment of the Capital, and an up-to-date and rapid development of the Federal Territory for all the purposes for which it can be developed, I venture to say that in a very short period that sum will increase to £50,000. That is a reason for a more rapid development, and when that takes place this little place which honorable senators are too much inclined now to look at as part of New South Wales, will generally be recognised here as Australian Territory. I wish that the Government would enter into negotiations with the New South Wales Government to get more territory than they have secured, and to run a line straight from Jervis Bay, 200 or 300 miles inland, and then direct south, taking in the whole of the south-eastern corner of New South Wales and a piece of Victoria as well, and thus get a Federal Territory which we could develop.
– I am afraid that that question is not covered by the item before the Committee.
– That is an incidental thought which occurred to me, sir. If we had the whole of that territory we might be able to establish the Woollen Mills there.
– Why not take in the whole of New South Wales while you are about it?
– I shall be quite prepared to support Senator Long or. Senator Cameron if he will move an amendment to resume the whole of Tasmania if they are willing to establish the Woollen Mills at Launceston or Hobart. That would confer a great advantage, not only as far as the Woollen Mills themselves are concerned, but on the people of the State as well. I am pleased to let Victorian senators know that even when they are in a tight corner I am quite willing to give Victoria an industry which can employ its people.
– I feel that I cannot give a silent vote, because of some remarks made here to-night which involve the State I represent. The first consideration which will influence my vote is : which is the most suitable site in Australia for this factory to be run under Federal Socialism? I belong to a party whose members are pledged to a principle which we believe to be right, and that is that in many channels of industry the municipality or the State or the Commonwealth can do better work for the taxpayers than can private enterprise. Rightly or wrongly, I hold that view. Here is an instance in which the Commonwealth has entered into the channels of industry. I do not want to see anything placed in the way of these Woollen Mills becoming the greatest success which it is possible to make them. When I listened to some remarks of Senator Millen to-night I fancied I could hear him addressing some of the large audiences which he will address in New South Wales prior to the next election, and quoting the Commonwealth Woollen Mills as one of the striking instances in which Commonwealth Socialism has failed.
– And you will be quoting the failure of the Federal Territory.
– I am quite satisfied that I shall be able to quote the Federal Territory as an instance of success and not failure. I can quite understand the reason of Senator Givens for moving the amendment, and of Senator Rae for supporting him. I am satisfied that they believe that it would be a splendid thing to establish all Commonwealth factories in the Federal Territory, but there are limits to be observed. If I could bring myself to believe for a moment that these Woollen Mills would be a success if established in the Federal Territory, I* should vote for the amendment. Not because I think it might upset the whole arrangement, and incidentally give Tasmania a chance again, but because they would be established within the Federal Territory. I was vain enough to hope, when Mr. Smail was imported from England and sent to the different States, that he would, if he could not recommend the Federal Territory for the establishment of the Woollen Mills, recommend Tasmania. I hoped that my State would come first after the Federal Territory. But, after I* had carefully digested his report some weeks ago, I had not the temerity to place my lay opinion against that of an expert who came here with splendid recommendations. What reason could he possibly have for recommending Geelong before the Federal Territory, or any other supposed place, unless he actually believed, without any bias; that it was the best place for the purpose? I must believe that this expert, after having carefully considered all the factors which go to make for the success or the failure of woollen mills, came to the honest conclusion that Geelong was the most suitable place in which to establish them. That being so, I, as a representative of Tasmania, have, rather reluctantly, to agree with Mr. Smail that Geelong takes first place, even before any of the places in that State. That is the reason why I intend to vote in favour of Geelong. At the same time, I trust that it will not be very many years before these disabilities which are stressed so strongly by Mr. Smail in his report, and which place the Federal Territory outside the range of choice, will be removed.
– I am so anxious to see all Commonwealth industries become a success, in spite of the frequently heard platform objections of our opponents, that it doesnot trouble me very much whether they have to be established in Federal Territory or in any corner of Australia. What troubles me chiefly is where will these industries, when established, become the greatest success.
– In Federal Territory, of course.
– We can quite understand the honorable senator’s view on this proposal. It has been recommended by the Government, and, consequently, he must oppose it.
– It is proposed by the Government, and, consequently, you support it.
-Senator Sayers does not believe in Commonwealth-owned establishments - in Commonwealth enterprise as against State enterprise.
– How do you know?
– I do not wish to do the honorable senator an injustice.
– You have never heard me say so.
– The honorable senator has always been associated here with a party which, on every platform, has condemned Commonwealth or State or municipal enterprise.
– But we have the Federal Territory now.
– I think I am right’ in saying that the honorable senator believes that private enterprise would be preferable to Commonwealth enterprise as regards the establishment of these Woollen Mills, and, that being so, I do not think that he can claim to be as anxious for their success as I am.
– That is not the question with which we are dealing to-night.
– I accept Mr. Smail as an expert without bias. What possible bias could he have in recommending Geelong, or any other place? He came here an entire stranger, and was engaged for a specific purpose. He was instructed by the Government that, if it were possible to make a success of these mills in Federal Territory, they desired that they should be established there. In the face of those instructions, Mr. Smail submitted his ‘report, in which he recommended the selection of a site at Geelong. That is the reason why I intend to support the Government proposal. I believe that Mr. Smail is ‘best qualified to judge of the merits of the different sites, and because I am strongly of opinion that the establishment of the mills at Geelong will give them a better chance of success than would their establishment elsewhere, 1 shall vote for the item as it stands.
– To-night we are called upon to decide a very important question indeed, and one which will have very far-reaching results to the whole of Australia. I have refrained from speaking till this late period of the debate because I was anxious to hear the opinions expressed by the leaders upon both sides of the Chamber. This is a question upon which onecannot afford to be dogmatic. 1 have listened attentively to its discussion with an entirely open mind.
It appears to me that we are now confronted with the aftermath of the Federal Capital question, which was decided in this Chamber two years ago. On that occasion, we did not, in my opinion, choose the best site in the interests of Australia.
Senator Givens has proposed that, upon the unsuitable site which was then selected, we should establish Commonwealth Woollen Mills. As a representative of Tasmania, I naturally concur in the views expressed by Senator Long in regard to the desirableness of establishing these mills in that State. I believe that we have there sites which fulfil every possible requirement. But whether the motion be carried or not, the Minister of Defence has given us to understand that we cannot hope for Commonwealth Woollen Mills to be started in Tasmania. However, I believe that the time is not far distant when the Government of that State will erect woollen mills there. The Labour party in the Tasmanian Parliament, which I am convinced will come into power before very long, has upon its platform a proposal to establish State Woollen Mills. When effect is given to that proposal, I believe that Tasmania will be able to turn out a product equal to any in the southern hemisphere.
The Government ask us to consider this question from the stand-point of whether Commonwealth. Woollen Mills are likely to prove a commercial success in the Federal Territory. On the other hand, Senator Givens invites us to regard it from the stand-point of which site will be in the best interests of the people of Australia. I quite recognise that, from the point of view of its probable commercial success, the Government have the better of the argument. The expert who selected the site is in a position to offer an opinion which we are not competent to criticise. But we have decided to establish a bush Capital, and. in my opinion, it would be utterly ridiculous for us to spend public money in laying out a great city if we neglect our opportunities to attract to that city a large number of inhabitants. We know that the establishment of woollen mills in the Federal Territory would attract to it a big population.
As one who has had some experience of woollen goods, I do not think the difficulties to be encountered in the Federal Territory are so great as to forbid the possibility of Commonwealth Woollen Mills there being made a success. I admit that the difficulties would be far greater than at Gee- long, but the advantages to be derived from the adoption of that course would more than compensate for those added difficulties. Consequently I shall vote for the amendment of Senator Givens. Although the representatives of Tasmania will be divided upon this question, I believe that each one of them will be able to satisfactorily explain to the electors the motives which actuated him in this matter. I agree with Senator Long that Tasmania offers splendid facilities, which have not yet been availed of, for the production of woollen goods.
I shall record my vote, not from a party stand-point, but from an honest belief that to-night we are called upon either to affirm or reject a principle which will have an important effect upon the future Capital of Australia.
.- I have listened carefully to the arguments of the Government as the authors of this proposal ; and, so far as they have any force at all, they can be placed under two heads. The astonishing thing to me is that one of these arguments is such as could have been reasonably expected, not from a radical Labour Government, but from an ultra-Conservative Government. Shortly stated, it is the old Conservative argument that “ the time is not yet ripe “ - that the Federal Capital might be a splendid place for Commonwealth factories by-and-by, but not yet. lt is said that there is no means of communication, and no water supply ; but if the Government were in earnest, and made a start even now, all the necessary works could be completed by the time the factory was ready. The other argument is that there is not the necessary population, and that in consequence a labour difficulty is to be feared. We are told that it is a great advantage to have such works in centres of population, where labour is at once available; but the town of Bourneville, established by the Cadburys, and the town of Port Sunlight, established by Lever Brothers, are certainly the most successful in the world, and were built far from centres of population. These firms went, as it were, into the wilderness and established ideal settlements, far superior with all their advantages, to any of the slum districts in which factories are usually to be found in the Old Country. Could not the Government have followed that good example, and begun these factories in their own Territory under new conditions, with nothing to undo? It is altogether futile to talk about a labour difficulty. As Senator Rae pointed out, there can be no labour difficulty in a district which is a few hours by rail from Sydney, the most populous city in Australia. I have known places, out in the NeverNever, not only hundreds of miles,, but, in one case, thousands of milesfrom any popular centre, where there was not a soul, and yet within three or four months, great cities have grown up with every modern convenience. If that can be done in the case of gold rushes, and so forth, why cannot it be done by the Government, with all the facilities at their command? If we ask why the people of Geelong are so anxious to have the Woollen Mills there, the answer presents an argument in favour of selecting a site in the Federal area; because the real reason why they are prepared to give the land for nothing, and other concessions, is that the establishment of. a new factory would lead to a large accession of population, and enormously increase the value of privatelyowned land. In such cases as these, it is the landlord who reaps the benefit; and the Government, by establishing the factory there, are presenting to the landlords of Geelong something that they have never earned, and have no right to possess, namely, the unearned increment. It is really the credit and enterprise of the people of Australia that establishes this factory, and any unearned increment ought to be received by the people as a whole, a result which could be brought about by establishing the factory on the middle of land owned by the people. The Labour Government, from whom we had a right to expect better things, have gone out of their way to establish this factory at Geelong, and it was rather ungenerous of the Minister to twit us with the statement that this is the first time that we have taken such drastic action as this. I explained, when I moved the request, that we had on several occasions expressed our opinion most emphatically in this regard, and that the Senate had gone to the length of placing its decision on record that all these Government enterprises should be established in the Federal Capital. It was only when we found our remonstrances were in vain, and were flouted by the Government, that we were compelled to take this drastic action, and if it were not for the fact that some honorable senators do not like to see the Government “ put into a hole,” the Government would be hopelessly beaten.
– The honorable senator was never afflicted with that sentiment.
– I confess it is not a motive which should influence a representative of the people, who ought to make up his mind what is the right thing to do, and then do it, irrespective of consequences.
– Does the honorable senator think that we have not done that ?
– I am satisfied that the honorable senator, as Minister, has not done so, but rather that he has been subject to those insidious influences which always place the man on the spot at an advantage, as compared with the man at a distance. I do not doubt the ability of the expert as a woollen manufacturer, but I do doubt his ability as a judge of the suitability of a particular place in Australia for carrying on this work. He had been here, so to speak, only twenty minutes, when he issued a report, as if he had known all the conditions, climatic and otherwise, of all the places visited, for the last twenty years, but he could not have sufficient knowledge on which to form a trustworthy judgment. An angel from Heaven could not in such a short time have an acquaintance with the conditions necessary to give an authoritative opinion. For those reasons I intend to call for a division, and 1 hope the majority of honorable senators will be in favour of the national policy of placing national works on national territory.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Concerning the vote of £5,000 for the General Post Office, Perth, 1desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster- General whether the Government have yet decided upon the exact position where the new post office is to be built. Yesterday I asked whether it would have a frontage to Wellington-street or to Murray-street ; or whether it would be in the proposed new street that is to be constructed through the resumed area.
– There is to be a new street through the resumed property from Murray-street to Wellingtonstreet. The proposal of the Department of Home Affairs is that the new building shall have a frontage to the new street. The matter is now the subject of consideration by the two Departments concerned.
– Can the Minister give us any information as to the contemplated wireless telegraphy stations included in the item of , £30,000 for this purpose?
– There is a vote further on of £50,000 for wireless telegraphy stations in addition to the vote to which the honorable senator has called attention. These amounts are for the payment of the balance in connexion with the stations at Pennant Hills and Fremantle; also for the balance to complete the stations at Brisbane and Adelaide; also for stations at Port Moresby and Thursday Island. Materials have already been sent to these places for the completion of the stations. Other stations are under consideration, and in all probability will be erected, at Mount Gambier or Nelson, Eucla, Eden, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cooktown, Port Darwin, Wyndham, Roebourne, Geraldton, and Albany.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause, abstract and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I promised that, on the motion for the third reading of this Bill, 1 would give some particulars in regard to the alteration in Commander Brewis’s report on Queensland. I have now to state that the alteration in the report was owing to a technical misdescription from an engineering point of view in regard to the method of improving an existing light. With regard to the figures asked for in respect of certain items I may say that the total cost in respect of item 10 is ?26,450; item 12, ?2,200; item 26, ?2,500; item 32, . ?8,000; item 34, ?2,900; and item 35, ?4,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Act 1903-1911. - Universal Training. - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 28. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 166.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906. - Land acquired at Queanbeyan, Federal Capital Territory - For Commonwealth purposes.
The Clerk laid on the table ;
Return to Order of the Senate of 26th July, 1912 -
New Commonwealth Treasury Buildings. (In substitution of Paper laid on the Table on 21st August, 1912.)
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 25th September.
– I have always protested against adjournments of the character now proposed and I. intend to do so on this occasion.
– Does the honorable senator desire an additional week?
– The proposed adjournment, from my point of view, is altogether wrong. We have not yet proceeded with the discussion of the Budgetpapers, and I have always objected to adjournments of this character whilst any serious business remains to be transacted. Honorable senators have complained again and again that a reasonable opportunity is not afforded them to discuss the financial statement; that it is presented at the last moment, and when, because of their desire to return to their homes, they have been forced to pass the Estimates practically without discussion. To this complaint the Government have replied, “ The Budgetpapers have been before the Senate for some time, and you have had ample opportunity to discuss the whole question, but have failed to avail yourselves of it.” No matter what Government is in power the resumption of the debate on the motion that the Budget-papers be printed is always placed at the bottom of the businesspaper, and we find to-day that, although we have yet to discuss the Budget it is proposed that we shall adjourn for a month. It is said that honorable senators desire a rest, and wish to return to their homes, or visit their constituents. Such an adjournment as that now proposed would not permit of my visiting my home in North Queensland. I could not leave Melbourne: until Wednesday next, and even if I travelled night and day I should not be able to spend more than three days in my home at the back of Cairns. Whilst there is business on the notice-paper to be done we should object to any adjournment. We should do the work that we are paid to transact, and when we have cleared the business-paper we should have such an adjournment as would give us a reasonable opportunity to visit our constituents, and to make ourselves acquainted with the wants of the country. But the “ tiddlewinking “ adjournments that we have had, particularly during the present session, are of no value to us. It is wrong that we should be compelled at the bidding of the Government to agree to this adjournment at a time when the most important subject of the year - the Budget statement - remains to be debated. We are to free the Government from criticism, and to adjourn for a month simply because the Government ask us to do so. I shall vote against this motion.
– Itisa pleasure for me to find myself able, for once, to agree with my colleague from Queensland. I indorse much that Senator Givens has said. I should have liked to discuss the Budget in connexion with the consideration of the Estimates with which we have just dealt. We all know what happened last year in connexion with the discussion on the Budgetpapers. As a matter of fact, we were called upon to resume the debate after we had been sitting for thirty hours.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to discuss the Budget when we re-assemble.
– I hope so. I know that we have to give in a great deal to the Government in the matter of the conduct of business, but I cordially indorse the remarks made by Senator Givens, and sincerely hope that neither the Government nor the Opposition will allow the Senate to be deprived of a reasonable opportunity to discuss the Budget, which is one of the most important subjects with which we have to deal. 1 trust the Government will give us an opportunity to have a full-dress debate on the motion relating to the printing of the Budget-papers.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGREGOR) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to call attention to a matter of some importance to other honorable, senators as well as myself, the imperfect distribution of Hansard. I have had occasion to complain of this on several occasions, and yesterday wrote to the Government Printer on the subject, as I had already done before, more than once, and spoke to the officers of the House regarding it. On making inquiry, I find that I am not the only one who has cause for complaint, but my case is particularly bad, and shows the need for some new arrangement, or some means of enforcing the present arrangement. Last year the bound volumes of the debates to which I was entitled failed to reach me, and some time after I had received the notification that they had been sent, I made inquiries about them, but could learn nothing definite. Eventually I found them in a news agency, fourteen miles from where I live. They had been taken there by a carrier who, when written to by the Government Printer after I had complained about the matter, stated that he had my receipt for their delivery. If he had a receipt, it had been forged, because the volumes did not reach me until I had paid for their carriage from where I found them. This year I have not yet received the bound volumes of last session. On inquiring why they had not come to hand, I was informed by the Government Printer, some weeks since, that they had been sent two or three weeks earlier. He promised to find out why they had not arrived, but I have not yet heard anything, although I wrote twice. I have been informed that the Government Printer of Victoria publishes and undertakes with a contractor to deliver the bound volumes of Hansard to every member’s home. Members of the House of Representatives have the same complaint to make as I am making; indeed, I have been informed by old members that these delays have occurred ever since the beginning of Federation. Early next year members of both parties will desire, in view of the approaching elections, to be able to refer to the official reports. It is useless to complain without suggesting a remedy, and, therefore, I say that if we are at the mercy of the State Government, and therefore cannot control the distribution, we should arrange for an officer of the Commonwealth to take charge of it, or it should be understood that each member must call at the Printing Office for his own copy. I trust that the Government will see if this grievance can be remedied.
– I ask the Minister of Defence to give consideration during the adjournment to the case of New South Wales warrant officers and drill instructors who are about to be retired, although in the prime of life, at the age of 60, or thereabouts, after thirty or forty years’ service in the Military Forces, first of the State and then of the Commonwealth. I understand that they are still well fitted for the work which they have done so ably, and that there is no provision by way of a bonus or pension to alleviate the hardship of their retirement. In New South Wales it is the practice on the retirement of Government employes, whether maintenance men employed on the roads, or men in other positions, to give a bonus of a month’s pay for every year ‘of service. It is a sorry spectacle to see a man too old to remain in the employ of the Commonwealth and too young to be eligible for an oldage pension, retired without any monetary consideration. The men to whom I allude have served a lifetime in a very poorly paid service, for many years not getting more than£3 a week. I should have brought the matter up in another way, but for the peculiar circumstances of the session. I hope that during the recess the Minister will determine to follow the example of New South Wales, and grant to retired officers a month’s pay for every year of service.
– I shall give the representation of the honorable senator consideration ; it would be too much to expect me now to make any more definite statement on a matter of so much importance, which is the subject of a motion here and in the other House. No doubt an opportunity will be given before long for its discussion.
– The matter brought up by Senator Rae is not controlled by the Government, but by the officers of this House; it being in the hands of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, acting in conjunction with the Government Printer of Victoria. I had heard no complaint until yesterday, when I received a letter from Senator Rae, pointing out the facts in his case. I sent his letter on to the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, with the request that I should be furnished with information on the subject, but no information has yet come to hand. I shall look into the matter during the adjournment, and see if arrangements cannot be made so that the volumes of Hansard may be sent to their destinations without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120822_senate_4_65/>.