5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to acquaint the Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed the hour of half-past 3 o’clock on Wednesday! the 29th instant, as the time when he will receive in the parliamentary Library the Address-in-Reply from the Senate.
– In view of the announcement made by the Minister of Defence, I shall be glad if as many honorable senators as may find it convenient to attend will accompany me on that occasion to present the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General.
– Has the Min ister of Defence any further information concerning a question I put to him a very long time ago about the alteration of the conditions of the men working on Garden Island ?
– I have no further information for the honorable senator; but there is some difficulty in reconciling the information he furnished in the letter with the statements we obtained from Cockatoo Island. I am still pushing on with the inquiries, and hope in a few days to be able to give the honorable senator an answer.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he. can tell the Senate when the necessary proclamation will be made in connexion with the Navigation Act?
– I am not aware of the date, but I will make inquiries, and let the honorable senator know as soon as I can.
– Is the Minis ter of Defence aware that the concrete workers at Fitzroy Dock are receiving 9s. 8d. per day, whereas the award under the Wages Board, gazetted on 31st August last, stipulates that they shall receive 10s. per day ? Will he see that the award rates are paid?
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in connexion with the planning of the Capital, any provision has been made for a site for a National University, and also for an Institute of National Research?
– I am not aware, but I will make inquiries, and let the honorable senator know.
– Has the Leader of the Government here any additional information in respect to a serious statement he made when he delivered a speech on the Supply Bill? He said -
My honorable friends need not bother about that, when we can showprimâ facie cases of the abuse of which we complain to the number of 5,000 or 6,000.
– Does the honorable senator say that there are that many cases of dishonest voting ?
– Why do not the Government prosecute ?
I was told not to be in a hurry. I desire to know whether the Minister has any information to confirm that serious statement, and, if so, whether any prosecutions have been initiated in connexion with those cases ?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Why should he anticipate the work of the Select Committee?
– The Government opposed the appointment of the Select Committee.
– All that it is necessary for me to say is that the statement I made then was sufficiently clear, full, and justified, and I have nothing to add to it.
– Where is your justification ?
– Will the Leader of the Government be good enough to furnish the Senate with the information which he says is clear and definite, in order that we may understand as much as, apparently, he understands?
– If the honorable senator wants information, I suggest to him that there is a proper way of obtaining it.
– Will the Leader of the Government be good enough to furnish the Senate with the information which he and other Ministers apparently possess ?
– All that I can say is that a statement has been made in the speech. If the honorable senator will particularize what he wants, and submit a question on the notice-paper in proper form, I shall be only too happy to give the information.
– You decline to do that unless a notice is put on the noticepaper ?
– I do not carry it about with me.
– No; you cannot carry it in any other way .
Senator CLEMONS laid upon the table the following paper: -
Northern Territory - Annual report of the Administrator for the year1912.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice-
“WIRELESS AT TOWNSVILLE.
” An important point in connexion with the new wireless service from Townsville has been raised by Messrs. Samuel Allen and Sons in a letter to the Townsville Chamber of Commerce (says a Townsville paper). The letter points out that before a. wireless message can be sent toa steamer approaching Townsville, the message has first to be sent to Brisbane and repeated back to the local telegraph office, and then sent to the radio station. The firm in question has sent a letter of protest to the secretary, G.P.O., Melbourne, complaining of this very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and pointing out that as far as exports are concerned Townsville is a larger port than Brisbane, and stating that in one particular instance the firm handed in a telegram to the telegraph office on the 5th inst. to be sent to the steamer Luneberg, and before that message got back to Townsville the vessel was alongside the wharf. The firm urged that arrangements should be made for the direct despatch of radio messages locally”?
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the great discrepancies between the Tasmanian Federal and State unimproved valuations, is the Federal Land Tax Commissioner quite satisfied that the Federal assessments are accurate ?
– The answer to the question is -
The Federal Land Tax Commissioner has caused inquiry to be made regarding the alleged discrepancies in value. A comparison made by the Deputy Commissioner for Tasmania between the Federal and State valuations of eighty of the largest areas subject to tax, comprising 26 per cent, of the total value of the country land appraised, discloses a difference of only 1.67 per cent, in properties whose aggregate value exceeds ^1,000,000. The difference in taxable value represented by this percentage is ^18,173. A complete comparison would, it is thought, show a smaller percentage difference.
In several special cases experts outside the ranks of the Department’s valuers were employed to test the values assessed, and substantially supported them.
Up to the present the Federal tax has been collected on higher values than the State.
The Commissioner is satisfied that higher values than those asserted could not be sustained on appeal.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
” PARLIAMENTARY RETURNS.
” The time of my office staff has bees very considerably occupied during the past two sessions of the Parliament in the preparation of returns involving the special compilation of statistics and references to records extending back over a number of years. This work, which can only be carried out by trained officers, has involved a severe tax on the staff, and has interfered very largely with current work, which has during the past three years increased in magnitude and importance. While it is recognised by me that the Parliament should be possessed of the fullest information relating to the administration of the Public Service Act and the organization and general management of the public Departments, it is questionable whether many of the returns called for and supplied are of sufficient value to justify the time and money expended on them. The delay in the publication of the Permanent Staff List, and in the compilation of the necessary matter for this report, has been to some extent attributable to th« special work necessitated by the preparation of returns. “I do not wish to be understood as objecting in any way to supply information relative to the Public Service; indeed, it has always been my desire to throw the fullest light on all transactions connected with the administration of the Act and Regulations, this being evidenced by the reports presented to Parliament from year to year, But, where enormous returns - which, I am convinced, can have no practical value - are called for, and where their preparation imposes such a heavy tax on the limited staff of my office, it becomes my duty to represent the matter so that some consideration may be given to the future policy to be adopted.”
– The answers to the questions are -
Although the information was asked for in November last year, no honorable senator has, since the end of last session, inquired regarding it, and this would seem to support the statement made by the Commissioner.
The Government considers that while the fullest information should be furnished to Parliament, some limitation should be placed upon the preparation of some of these returns.
Newspaper Articles : Referenda Pamphlet
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are - 1 and2. In pursuance of the requirements of section 206ff of the Electoral Act, the Chief Electoral Officer has instituted proceedings in every case which has come under notice, where the Crown Law Authorities have advised that an offence has been committed.
– Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask the Honorary Minister whether he can give the Senate any information as to the number of prosecutions which are impending ?
– I think the honorable senator will agree with me that, in cases of impending prosecutions, it is very undesirable that any statement should be made beforehand. At any rate, that is the attitude which the AttorneyGeneral takes up, and, I think, rightly so.
– Can the Honorary Minister inform us whether there are any prosecutions impending?
– I can only answer in general terms. I am probably accurate when I say that the AttorneyGeneral has been requested to advise on more than one case. Beyond that I am not justified in going at the present time.
– Arising out of the answer just given, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether any prosecutions have been initiated for alleged corrupt practices in connexion with the last, general elections ?
– I do not know. If the honorable member will give notice of his question I will get the information for him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If any prosecutions are initiated against persons for publishing comments upon election matters during last elections, will he see that those responsible for the printing and publishing of the referenda pamphlet sent by the Government to electors on the roll are prosecuted?
– The answer to the question is -
No. The pamphlet in question was printed and issued by the Chief Electoral Officer in pursuance of the requirements of section 6a of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1912.
asked the Min ister of Defence, upon notice -
Has the following paragraph appearing in the Sydney Sun newspaper been brought under his notice : -
“MADE IN JAPAN.
“White Ensign Worked in Tokio. “ It is difficult to imagine a large party of
British and Australian Naval and Military officers sitting at tables decorated with miniature flags of the Royal Navy that had been made in Japan. Yet, at the Sun office, there is a miniature white ensign - the flag of Great Britain’s Navy - with the imprint ‘ Made in Japan.’ It is mounted on a yellow and black stick. The flag was taken out of a handsome floral decoration in which red and white Australian-grown roses made up the design of a ship at last night’s banquet. “ And the Australian Government was paying for these things”?
If so, will he see that in future where the taxpayers’ money is expended in floral and flag decorations at banquets preference will be gives to Australian workmen to provide the table decorations?
– The answer to the question is -
The flag referred to was of silk, size about 5 inches by 3 inches. The contractor endeavoured to obtain all decorations of local manufacture, but in this particular was not successful. It may be pointed- out that neither silk nor bunting is yet made in Australia
Whenever possible, preference is extended to articles of Australian manufacture.
Drill on Holidays.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Gardiner), agreed to-
That, for the purposes of the Select Committee of the Senate on the General Elections 1913, standing order No. 303 be suspended to permit of the publication by the press of the evidence taken before the Committee before such evidence is reported to the Senate?
Debate resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2311), on motion by Senator McColl -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– In moving the second reading of this Bill yesterday, the VicePresident of the Executive Council went exhaustively into the history of the sugar question, commencing with a period before the inception of Federation. Although I cannot see that there was any great necessity for such an account of what was done in the past, yet the honorable senator’s story brought to my mind many circumstances and arguments that were before the Senate in the early days of Federation. I can well recollect, when both the Immigration Restriction Act and the Pacific Islands Labourers Act were before this Chamber, the party which is now in Opposition did all it could to bring about legislation for the establishment of a White Australia policy. The Vice-President of the Executive Council would make it appear that there was almost a unanimous feeling in favour of that policy. But I beg to say that whatever Senator McColl’s views may have been at that time, or at any time in his life, he is now associated with gentlemen who did their best to frustrate the White Australia policy. I have no desire to occupy the time of honorable senators at length,because I recognise that both the Sugar Bills now before the Senate are necessary, and, indeed, rather urgent.Therefore, the sooner we get rid of them the better. The sooner they are passed into law the clearer will be the evidence before the public that the Opposition desire to do the business of the country expeditiously. The lax administration of this Government has brought about a peculiar situation. The Vice-President of the Executive Council elaborated his account of what had been done by the Government to facilitate the issue of the proclamation abolishing the Excise and bounty. He read telegrams and letters which passed between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Queensland Ministry, dating from the 25th June to 25th July. No doubt that correspondence was necessary on account of the action of the Fisher Government, when, in compliance with the request of the Government and the people of Queensland, this Parliament passed legislation considered to be in the interests of the sugar industry. But that correspondence does not display one instance of sagacity or foresight on the part of the Government with respect! to the protection of the revenue of the Commonwealth. The correspondence related exclusively to the abolition of the Excise and bounty, and the action of the Queensland Government in fulfilling its promises made to the previous Government, that certain legislation should be passed in Queensland. I have not the least hesitation in saying that if Mr. Tudor had occupied the position of Minister of Trade and Customs when these negotiations were proceeding, he would long before the 26th July have made inquiries concerning the position of the Customs Department in relation to the bounty and Excise. He would have ascertained how much sugar there was upon which bounty had been paid, and, consequently, how much Excise was still due to the Commonwealth. But no action of that kind is made apparent in the long speech delivered by the Vice-President of the Executive Council as having been taken by the present Government till after the 26th July.
– Why was not a deadsure thing made of the matter in the Act passed last year?
– Why does not the honorable senator get made this year the hat which he will require next year?
– I shall require a bigger one next year.
– Probably the honorable senator has not had time or opportunity to look into the matter. There are many reasons why things were not done last year that should have been attended to since the present financial year began. I blame the present Government for not taking some action since they came into office, and since the correspondence commenced between them and the Queensland Government, to ascertain the financial position of the Commonwealth with respect to the issue of the proclamation abolishing the bounty and Excise. They did nothing of the kind ; and now, because they did not attend to their duty they, and their supporters, are trying to fix the blame on the late Government for not doing something which ought to have been attended to since this Ministry came into office.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The shoulders of the late Government are the proper ones to bear the blame.
– The late Government had nothing to do with the collection of the revenue this year. When they went out of office they lost control of Customs and Excise, which passed into the hands of the present Ministry. It was their duty to see that the people of A ustralia were protected in respect to the revenue.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - To see that the law passed last year was carried out.
– We met on the 13th July, and up to the present week the Senate has not sat more than seven full days. Yet the Government complain of want of time when charged with not doing something which they ought to have done in the discharge of their duty. They should honestly confess that they never thought about it at all. Their minds were a blank upon every thing but the speedy issue of the proclamation in the interests of the cane-growers and sugar manufacturers of Queensland.
– That is putting it mildly.
– Yes ; I have no desire to blame the present Government more than they deserve. You, sir, as a member of the party at present in Opposition, are aware that no party in politics in Australia to-day or at any other time has striven more to foster the sugar industry, and protect the growers and workers of Queensland and of every other part of Australia, than has the Labour party. From the first the object of the members of that party has been to make themselves acquainted with every phase of the sugar industry in Queensland and elsewhere. Many of them have travelled at their own expense to obtain the desired information. The gentlemen with whom the Vice-President of the Executive Council is associated to-day did all they possibly could to prevent us carrying the White Australia policy into effect. Honorable senators have only to studythe discussions which took place in the early days of Federation in the Senate and in another place to realize the truth of what I say. In those days it was declared that it was impossible for white men to work in the cane fields of Queensland or of New South Wales. I am very pleased that the Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday made a public admission that it has been proved to the satisfaction of almost every one in Australia that the white worker can work in the cane fields in any part of the Commonwealth. The sugar industry is now established on a basis of white labour, and it is becoming more apparent every day that the class of white labour employed, both in the fields and in the mills, is superior to the labour that was employed at the time when the kanakas and other coloured labourers were employed in the industry.
– That is absolutely true.
– I know it.I have been in the sugar districts, and have many friends resident there. While the kanakas and other coloured labourers were employed in the cane fields of Queensland only the wastrels amongst white workers ever found their way there. The wages and conditions ruling in the industry in those days were of such a character that no honest, independent white worker would accept them. Those who did go to the cane fields were offered by the Christian and benevolent individual’s who managed the plantations a miserable pittance, which was considered sufficient for the maintenance of morality and civilization amongst kanakas and coloured people.
– One pound per week and find themselves.
– Yes, and less than that. Another great change has come over the sugar industry in Queensland since the adoption by the Commonwealth of the White Australia policy. Prior to that the industry was chiefly conducted by planters and companies on extensive plantations and by means of coloured labour. The system was merely a repetition of the slave system in the United States of America and other parts of the world. But since the white worker has been engaged in the industry there has been a considerable subdivision of the areas under cane. Instead of the big planter, cultivating the greatest area as in the early days of the industry, and employing the greatest number of persons, the small planters and cane farmers now grow most of > the cane, and they are responsible for bringing about the prosperity of the industry. Only last Tuesday there appeared in the Melbourne Herald a paragraph taken from the Brisbane press, in which it was stated that, according to the report of Mr. Easterby, the manager of the Queensland experimental farms, the present year will be a record year in sugar production, and will exceed the record for 1910, the best previous yield. It is estimated that there will be produced this year 1,994,110 tons of cane, and, were it not for the disastrous cyclones and floods that occurred in North Queensland in the early part of the year, that yield would be increased by 75,000 or 100,000 tons. The production of sugar from the yield of cane expected this year is estimated at 220,000 tons. Larger areas on smaller blocks have been brought under cultivation, and there has not been, and is not likely to be, any scarcity of white labour to carry on the. work. That is the statement of a man whose business it is to know all about the subject. It shows that the contention of the Labour party in the past, that white labour properly remunerated and treated is capable of doing the work required in the sugar industry in any part of the world, was the correct one. The Sugar Bounty Bill is submitted to provide for the payment of the extra bounty, amounting to 2s. 2d. per ton, on cane grown from some time in May up to the 26th June last. The Exise Tariff (Sugar) Bill now before the Senate is required to enable the Commonwealth to collect Excise on that cane. All that is desired is that Excise shall be honestly and fairly paid on all sugar on which bounty has already been paid. The Bills now before us are for this purpose, and, whatever may have been the bungling of the Government earlier in the session, the Opposition have no desire to obstruct them in carrying out this object. But it is a very peculiar position for the Customs Department to. find itself in. The statement made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council was, that on the 26th July it was ascertained that the bounty had been paid on about 39,500 tons of sugar, and that the Excise duty had not been collected. It was also stated by the honorable senator that those in whose hands that sugar still remains have no objection to this measure. It was made to appear that those holding sugar in bond were so eager to pay the Excise duty that they would not part with it till the Government had made provision for them to come and pay it. That may be true. I am not .going to question the truth of a statement of that description ; but it seems very peculiar to me that the Bill cannot provide for the collection of the Excise duty on such sugar, and the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council shows the impossibility of doing anything of the kind. He says it would be impossible to trace that sugar. The only thing they know is the quantity that was held at the time, and whom it was held by. All that they can do in a Bill of this kind is to collect the Excise duty on some sugar. No matter whether it was the sugar of last year, or the previous year, or the present year, they must collect Excise duty to the amount of over £150,000. I do not know whether they will be able to do that. I know that they have to deal with a set of individuals who have been famous in the past for clouding all issues and covering up the responsibilities under which they should labour. When the Royal Commission was appointed for the purpose of getting information, they cleverly evaded every question which was put to them, and gave as little information as possible. If they would do that when it was costing them nothing, what will they do when it is to cost them £150,000? I hope that the Government will be able to collect that amount of Excise duty. I hope, also, that the extra 2s. 2d. per ton provided for in the Sugar Bounty Bill will reach the cane-growers for whom it waB intended ; but I doubt very much whether it will.
I fear, too, that, in the very near future, we shall have the cane-growers of Queensland again appealing to this Parliament for protection, because I, for one, do not trust to the promises that are being made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, or any other sugar company in that State, to give the sugar -growers all the benefit of the £6 protection. They have been taking far more out of the pockets of the public than would have enabled them to pay that extra 2s. 2d. per ton to the sugar-growers for the last five or six years. If the companies have not been prepared to treat the sugar-growers fairly in the past, it is my opinion that, as soon as these two Bills are passed, and put into operation, and the effects of the proclamation issued on the 26th July are assured, they will begin to screw the sugar-growers of Queensland, and the latter will have to appeal to some one for protection in the future, as they have had to do in the past.
– The same as they have done wth the consumer.
– I do not intend to say very much on that subject. The consumer has experienced the tender mercies of the same class of people who have to deal with the sugar-growers in the future; and if those people treat the sugar-growers as liberally as they have treated the general public, then the Lord help the cane-growers of Queensland. I hope that, after a fair discussion, honorable senators will allow these Bills to pass, and give the Government an opportunity of realizing their sanguine expectations.
Senator MAUGHAN (Queensland) [3. 45 J. - After the elaborate speech which has just been delivered, there is no occasion for me to say very much. Every honorable senator knows quite well that these are practically machinery Bills, and the sooner they are put into operation the better it will be for ‘all concerned. As a representative of Queensland, who is vitally interested in this’ great sugar industry, I was particularly interested in the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday in regard to the white labour policy. As Senator McGregor has very properly pointed out, one of the greatest commercial and industrial battles which have ever been fought in this continent, has been waged in connexion with the labour conditions now in operation in the sugar industry. There are many men to-day who, if they had the opportunity, would revert to the old coloured labour conditions. Their name is legion. A greatmany of them are honest enough to openly avow their desire. On the other hand, quite a large number of them have-, not the necessary pluck to declare their sentiment. At the same time, what honorable senators from Queensland and elsewhere desire, I am quite sure, is to see, not only the generally accepted policy of a White Australia become a permanent factor in that branch of our industrial and commercial enterprise, but also whitelabour conditions operating, so that both the grower and the worker in the sugar industry shall have white labour conditions in the very best sense of the term. Once upon a time I was accused of making the longest speech in the Queensland Parliament. On this occasion I may be properly accused of making, perhaps, one of the shortest speeches. I am not going to say it is not a very fascinating subject, and one on which any of us, irrespective of the State he may come from, can speak at great length. At the same time, I quite understand that the Bill is- a machinery Bill, and the sooner it gets into active operation the better for all concerned. I hope that the time is not far off when the growers of, not only sugar, but other cereals, will be considered by the National Parliament. Having regard to the fact that some of the State Governments take so -little interest in the producers of other cereals, I trust that the time will come when this great Parliament will see its way clear to assist other industries than the sugar industry.
– The beet sugar industry, for instance?
– In the various States there are many men growing produce other than sugar under very onerous conditions, and they require help just aa much as do the sugar planters. As a hew senator, I am particularly pleased to think that the National Parliament, very early in its career, passed legislation which, I trust, will put the sugar industry on a” solid and lasting foundation, and, above all, that the industry has been placed in such a position that white labourconditions, in the very best sense of the term, will always obtain.
– I have to thank honorable senators for curtailing their speeches, and.
Senator Maughan for the generous speech he has just made. I think I made it perfectly clear yesterday that the Government have been guilty of no delay. They have not delayed, but they have taken every possible precaution to protect every one concerned in the industry. Senator McGregor said that if Mr. Tudor had been at the head of the Department he would have found out long before the proclamation was issued what sugar was in bond. It is of no use to know what sugar was there a day, or a week, or a month before the 26th July last. What we had to know was what sugar was in bond when the proclamation was issued. That was the sugar on which to charge Excise duty. Therefore, any previous inquiries would have been of no avail. I, of course, congratulate honorable senators opposite upon their efforts to bring about white labour conditions in the industry: hut they were not the only ones who helped in that direction, for many others helped. I have always advocated a White Australia policy, and, if I remember rightly, Sir Henry Parkes was the first public man in Australia to bring the question forward as a policy, and to openly advocate it.
– We had many bitter fights to get the policy carried here.
– I know that. Senator McGregor expressed the hope that the extra payments will be made. They are due under a Statute, and, therefore, will have to be made. What may happen in the future, we cannot tell. We are meeting the present position in a fair way. We are endeavouring to protect the workers in the industry as far as we can. We refused to issue the proclamation until the wages recommended by the Royal Commission had been made the subject of a statutory provision. More than that we could not do. I thank honorable senators for permitting the second reading of the Bill to go through so quickly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Rill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Debate resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2311), on motion by Senator McColl -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I understood that the debate on both Bills was to be taken at the same time, and, as I have no desire to delay the passing of this measure, I will resume my seat.
– I rise for the purpose of saying that the Bill has my benediction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– What about the disgraceful obstruction talked of at Bunyip?
– I never said anything there about obstruction in the Senate.
– Order !
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages.
Unemployment - Expenditure : Defence : Naval Works and Buildings : Naval Establishment, Sydney: Appointment of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice - Compulsory Military Training: Drill on Holidays - Control of Movements of Fleet.
Debate resumed from 22nd October (vide page 2343), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1914, and the Budget Papers, 1913-14, laid on the table of the Senate on 2nd October, be printed.
.- I desire to say a few words regarding the very unsatisfactory position in which we find ourselves to-day owing to the action of the Government in regard to our Naval Bases. For some considerable time a number of men have been engaged at the Flinders Naval Base. Many of them, believing that the Commonwealth was committed to a large expenditure there, have secured homes in the vicinity of the works, and now find themselves out of employment owing to the want of cooperative action between the Department of Home Affairs and the naval authorities. No effort is apparently being made to continue a policy of construction there. In the Melbourne Herald of 18th October last, under the heading “ Departments Differ,” the following statement was published : -
It is difficult to arrive at a definite conclusion as to which Department is responsible for the lack of employment at the Flinders Naval Base, but Mr. W. Kelly, the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, gave the Navy Branch of the Defence Department something to talk about today.
Mr. H. W. E. Manisty, the secretary of the Naval Branch, said yesterday the preliminary” works at the Flinders Base were nearing completion, and that men were being discharged, as their services were no longer required. A good deal of work remained to be done by the Home Affairs Department, but it seemed that arrangements had not yet been completed for pushing ahead with it. Numbers of men on the spot expected employment, he was reported to have added, but that was a matter of arrangement with the Home Affairs Department. “ Some three weeks ago,” said Mr. Kelly to-day, “ a request was made by the Department that a conference should take place between the Director-General of Works of the Home Affairs Department and an officer representing the Navy Office regarding the plans of the Navy Office building, but so far the Navy Office has taken no notice of it.”
If effect is to begiven to the scheme recommended by Admiral Henderson, it does seem remarkable that no steps have been taken by the’ different Departments to obviate this lack of employment. Honorable senators are fully seized of the fact that there is a considerable number of men out of work at the present time, and it does seem remarkable that, owing to the lack of proper co-operation between the various Departments, these works should be held up and the unemployed army thereby increased. I do not think that the dispute between the Navy Branch and the Department of Home Affairs is really the root of the trouble. It seems to me that it is not the intention of the Government to carry out these works on the lines on which they were initiated by the late Administration. If we glance at the Estimates relating to our public works we find that there is to be an almost complete suspension of operations at our various Naval Bases. The position in regard to the Flinders Base is a very serious one, because it must be well-known to the Department and to the Minister of Defence that that Base was intended to be a training depot. Consequently, its construction should have preceded the appearance of the Fleet in Australian waters. Last year, at the instance of the Fisher Government, Parlia ment appropriated for expenditure upon Naval Bases the sum of £208,000.
– They spent within £42,000 of that amount. To be precise, Parliament last year appropriated £208,050 for expenditure upon our Naval Bases, out of which sum £180,000 was actually spent. The present Ministry propose to appropriate £215,721 for similar purposes. But it seems to me there is some deception in this matter, because there is a note in the Budget which reads, “ Less amount which it is anticipated may not be expended during the year, £50,000,” meaning that the real expenditure upon our Naval Bases will be £165,000. Included in that amount are certain commitments which must be honoured. There are, for instance, “Machinery and plant, £112,000,” and expenditure upon the Naval College, £5,721. In connexion with Garden and Spectacle Islands, there are commitments to the extent of £30,000. The Government claim to be in favour of a progressive policy in regard to our naval works, and yet after allowing for the commitments which I have enumerated, they propose to expend only £18,000 to develop our different Naval Bases.
– Where does the honorable senator get those figures?
– From the Budget. Omitting the £50,000 which Ministers say, “it is anticipated may not be expended during the current financial year,” only £18,000 is left to expend upon the whole of our Naval Bases.
– Does not the honorable senator think that those figures themselves show that he is wrong?
– I do not think so. If the Minister of Defence will tell me where I am wrong I shall be obliged.
– Where does the honorable senator get those commitments which are to come out of this year’s appropriation ?
– From the Budget. Upon the Estimates the sum of £112,000 is set down for machinery and plant, and another £5,721 for machinery and plant at the NavalCollege. Is not that correct?
– Are not our commitments in connexion with Garden and Spectacle Islands approximately £30,000 ?
– And is there not a note in the Budget which reads, “ Less amount which it is anticipated may not be expended during the year, £50,000?”
– Yes. But off what items does the honorable senator take his savings? He is taking them off items which suit him. Suppose he takes them off other items?
– Even if I do what the Minister suggests, the total amount available for expenditure upon our Naval Bases this year will still be only £23,000. I certainly think that the Minister ought to be candid, and should give us the specific amounts which he intends to spend on these works. He should inform us whether it is the intention of the Government to suspend operations on the construction of Naval Bases throughout the Commonwealth. Parliament ought to know these things. It appears to me that there is no serious intention on the part of the Government to proceed with the defence policy initiated by Admiral Henderson. When we compare the expenditure now proposed with that of the previous Government, it is evident that there is no intention to proceed with the works. I trust that the Minister will take advantage of this opportunity to inform us in detail as to the amount that it is intended to spend on the Flinders Naval Base, and the other Naval Bases, throughout the Commonwealth .
– Surely a Minister is going to offer the Senate an explanation in regard to these Budget-papers? The Minister of Defence has got into the habit of waiting until other honorable senators have spoken, and, when there is no opportunity of replying to him, he makes misleading statements about what has been said. Apparently it is his intention to repeat that practice on this occasion. SenatorClemons, in laying the Budget-papers before the Senate yesterday, said that a practice had grown up of submitting the motion “ That the papers be printed,” in order to afford honorable senators an opportunity of having something to say about the financial position of the Commonwealth. But SenatorClemons established a new record in this respect. He is the first Minister in the Senate who has laid the Budgetpapers on the table without giving us any information whatever.
– I told the Senate that when the Appropriation Bill came before us I would make a statement.
– Senator Russell has made a statement in regard to the expenditure on Naval Bases. He has challenged the Minister of Defence to make an explanation on the subject. Surely the Minister should have taken advantage of this opportunity to get up and reply to what Senator Russell said. But it does not suit him to do so. He prefers to wait until no other senator has an opportunity of replying to him. Otherwise he is prepared to allow the motion to go without speaking at all.
– The Minister’s action amounts to a denial of information to the Senate.
– It shows how confident Ministers are of their position. First of all, I think it is only right that we should point out whilst we have the opportunity what this Budget really means. It is the Budget of a Government that went to the country denouncing the late Ministry as being guilty of a financial orgy. The late Government were described as extravagant, as having spent too much money as having been reckless. Ministers posed before the electors as the champions of economy. They certainly have economized in some directions, but in others they have been more prodigal than any other Government that has ever sat on the Treasury bench. The directions in which they have curtailed expenditure are not evidence of sound economy. It is not economy to spoil the ship for a halfpenny worth of paint.
– A halfpenny worth of tar.
– I defer to the honorable senator’s superior nautical knowledge. In regard to naval expenditure, the Government have certainly put in the pruning knife to some effect. In my opinion, what they propose amounts to baby-farming our infant Navy. Whether that be the intention or not, it is going to be the effect.
– That will not be the effect. We want the baby to grow into a strong man.
– Ministers are going the right way to work to starve the infant.
– To starve it?
– Yes; Senator Russell has shown that.
– They are taking away the feeding bottle.
– The Naval Bases are the feeding bottle of the infant Navy. Ministers have, as I have said, put in the pruning knife to a serious extent. Let us examine the figures. Last year the total expenditure of the Commonwealth was £21,899,413. Senator Millen and his colleagues denounced that as reckless extravagance. Sir John Forrest said that it was a “ financial debauch.” Similar terms were flung around all over the Commonwealth during the elections. Let us see what the present Government are going to do. They are going to spend £24,115,223 out of revenue and savings. That is to say, they are going to spend all the revenue they receive from the current year, together with £2,653,223 left over by the late Government. In addition to that, they are going to borrow £3,080,000, so that the total expenditure of this economical Government- this Government which has come in to restore confidence in finance - is to be £27,197,223, or nearly £7,000,000 more than the total estimated revenue for the year.
– Where will they get the money ?
– They will take whatever money there is in the Trust Funds, and they are also going to borrow from somewhere else.
– Is the honorable senator advancing these. . figures as evidence that we are starving the Departments ?
Seantor PEARCE. - I am going to show .that the Government are spending money lavishly in some respects, whilst in other and more necessary respects they are not spending the money that ought to be spent.
– The honorable senator is not arguing that we are not right in borrowing, is he ?
– The late Government were able to borrow from themselves, but the present Government are entering so recklessly upon expenditure that they will not have sufficient money to borrow from themselves, and will -have to go into the open money market.
– I thought the lat* Government borrowed from New South Wales.
– We lent moneyto New South Wales.
– What about the* transferred properties.
– New South Wales borrowed more from us than the value of the transferred properties would cover. Coming to this loan expenditure, we find’ that it is proposed to spend £1,400,000 on the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, £400,000- on the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from PineCreek to the Katherine River, £60,000 on the construction of a railwayfrom Port Moresby to Astrolabe and forthe construction of wharfs at Port Moresby and Samarai, Papua, £170,000- on purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes, £300,000 on land for Defencepurposes, £425,000 on the construction of conduits and the laying of wires underground, £175,000 on machinery, machine shops, and construction of wharfs at Cockatoo Island, and £150,000 on theerection of London offices. That makes a total of £3,080,000. I agree with Senator Russell that a policy of starvation of theNaval Bases is indicated. On page 265- of the Estimates for additions, new works, and buildings for 1913-14, we have the following item appearing under the heading “ Naval works, &c.” - Naval works, including labour and material - £98,000. Under that heading the late Government spent last year £172,695 - and, remember, those works were then inthe preliminary stages. The Fleet is now here, and the need for Naval Bases isgreater than ever it was. The present - Government, however, are not going tospend even this amount in more than a nominal sense, because, as I will show, this is only a fictitious item. Even however, if they spent the whole amount on works entered upon this year, it would only be about one-half the expenditure of the late Government last year. The Estimates for machinery and plant is £112,000, and for the Naval College- £5,721. I venture to say to the Minister- - and I do not think that he can successfully contradict me - that of this es- timated expenditure 90 per cent, is already mortgaged.
– Which expenditure?”
– I am referring to the vote for machinery and plant. That machinery and .plant is already on order.
– But not paid for.
– That is so, is it not?
– We have to pay for orders which the late Government” placed.
– So that the Government cannot save a penny out of that vote for machinery and plant, for which £112,000 is appropriated, in addition to £5,721 for machinery and plant for the Naval College. Practically the whole of that money is mortgaged.. Honorable senators will see later on why I am stressing that point. The vote for machinery and plant, together with £98,000 for naval works, makes a total of £215,721. But the next line says, “Less amount which it is anticipated may not be expended during the year, £50,000.” As the machinery and plant is ordered, as the £112,000 is mortgaged and has to be paid during the coming year, that sum of £50,000 has to be saved out of works. Therefore, you have to deduct that amount from the £98,000, which leaves the magnificent sum for the whole of the Naval Bases of the Commonwealth of £48,000. I asked the Minister yesterday whether he would give us the items of expenditure on the separate Bases to-day, in order that we might discuss the matter.
– I did not understand the honorable senator to say that he wanted the information to-day.
– We shall have another opportunity of dealing with the matter when we have the Works and Buildings Bill before us. We have, therefore, £48,000 for naval works. That sum has to be spread over Cockburn Sound, Flinders Naval Base, Port Stephens, Sydney, and, I understand from a statement made in another place, some money is to be spent in Brisbane, and some in the Northern Territory.
– How much does the honorable senator say is available for these purposes ?
– £48,000. That is to say if the Government are going to save £50,000. The total for the division is £165,721. Out of that sum the Government will have to pay for machinery and plant on order. It will be. delivered long before the end of . the present financial year. That includes’ the cost of the dredges °which have been on order for nine months, and the plant for the Naval College, which is also on order. We have to deduct the £50,000 from the £98,000, leaving the magnificent sum of £48,000 for the whole of the Naval Bases. I am aware that some works at the Naval Bases, in the shape of buildings and so on, have to be done by the Home Affairs Department, but no matter how much is spent on them they will be of no value unless the work to be done for the Navy Branch, in the shape of dredging and the construction of wharfs, is proceeded with.
– We cannot do any dredging without a dredge.
– Certainly not; but the Minister of Defence should know that, unless the contractors for the dredges are beyond their time, their delivery is about due.
– They are not available now, and the honorable senator’s statement was that the other works would be useless until the dredging was done.
– No; the two kinds of work might be proceeded with contemporaneously, and there is work for the Naval Department which could be proceeded with before the dredging is done. We were informed that the Government intended to vigorously prosecute these works subsequent to the receipt of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice’s report. We had yesterday placed before us the papers in connexion with that gentleman’s appointment. In the exchange of cables it was pointed out that it would be necessary to obtain certain data. One of the preliminary inquiries which Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice made in arranging the terms of his appointment was as to whether he would be expected to supply the preliminary data, and the reply was that it would be provided for him. One place about which he is to be asked to report is Jervis Bay. The Minister condemned the Labour Administration for the policy they had pursued in regard to Cockburn Sound, and said that, notwithstanding the fact that twelve months’ work had. been put in in making surveys, borings, and tidal and other observations there, they were not warranted in going on with the work, and were not even then in possession of the proper plans. But what do we hear now? Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice is to come to the Commonwealth to tell the Government where they should establish a dockyard in Jervis Bay, and not a solitary observation of any kind has been taken in Jervis Bay. There is only the Admiralty survey and the Lands survey, which is to be obtained in every State. There is not a scintilla of the information about Jervis Bay available which the Minister says it took us twelve months to procure for Cockburn Sound. Yet we are invited to believe that this gentleman can come here, and, in the sixth part of six weeks, go to Jervis Bay and tell us where to establish a dockyard. I shall look forward with extreme interest to see what Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice has to say when he is presented by the Minister of Defence with the Admiralty chart, and told to be prepared, in the space of three or four days, to inform the Government where a dockyard should be established at Jervis Bay.
– He is the man the honorable senator called an “ understrapper.”
SenatorPEARCE. - So he is, compared with the man who reported on Cockburn Sound in 1891. The firm of Coode, Son, and Matthews reported on Cockburn Sound, and Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice is not the head of that firm. I may say that a reference to Who’s Who, for which, I understand, people are invited to supply their own biographical notices, will show that, although Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice has been associated with sewerage work and other engineering work, he has never, until quite recently, been associated with any naval work.
– We are getting a hint now as to the kind of literature the honorable senator studies.
– When I heard the name of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice mentioned I went to the only source of information readily available to find out who and what he was, and that is what I found. I have here the correspondence leading up to the appointment of this gentleman. I find that the first cable reads as follows: -
Government desirous obtaining services eminent Harbor Civil Engineer to visit Australia at an early date to advise regarding construction naval docks and harbor works. Open negotiations to this end.
On the 5th September there is this cable -
With reference tomy telegram of 22nd August, urging that services of expert Harbor Civil Engineer should be obtained, as recommended by Admiral Henderson, to report on site for Cockburn Sound Naval Works, and for dredging Success and Carmelia Banks. Telegraph name of expert you recommend for appointment, and fee to be paid for examination and report. Coode, Son, and Matthews reported on dredging channel through Success Bank for the Government of Western Australia in 1891. Telegraph reply with least possible delay.
Then there is a cable from the High Commissioner on the 5th September -
With reference to your telegram of 22nd August, and your telegram of 5th September, have already consulted Admiralty, who recommend firms Coode, Matthews, Fitzmaurice, and Wilson, or Sir John Wolfe Barry, Flister, and partners. Both Sir William Matthews and Sir John Wolfe Barry recognised as heads of their profession. At this time people out of town ; difficult to arrange interviews. Have seen Barry, and have appointment with Matthews Monday. Appears, however, further information necessary as to what surveys exist in each case, and to what scale, what observations exist as to soil, tides, winds, and all physical features, what material available in each locality for works proposed, and all such relevant information. Everything depends on such points. If all suggested information ready visit might be soon ; if not, such information should be preliminary to visit of eminent engineer, whose time very valuable; but who could organize staff to prepare above preliminary information if not already existing. Indeed, engineer would greatly prefer send his own staff out for preparatory information. Is report to be confined works mentioned in your telegram?
I say deliberately and advisedly that as regards Jervis Bay none of that information exists. So far as I can learn from these cables, that fact has never been made known to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice. When he arrives here he will, no doubt, ask that he may put a staff to work to collect that information, and I suppose we shall later on have a nice little bill for “extras.” There is next in the correspondence the reply to the cable I have just read -
Confidential. - With reference your telegram 5th September, am obtaining from Coode and Matthews offer of their partner, Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, an eminently qualified engineer, to. go out at once. Fuller telegram follows.
Then on the 11th September there is the following : -
Confidential. - In continuation of my telegram, 10th September, Fitzmaurice willing to undertake work and visit Australia at once. He is Chairman Admiralty Committee on works in connexion with Naval Base actively engaged in reporting for Admiralty on naval bases, Chatham, Rosyth, and Dover, and is strongly recommended. Matthews cannot go, nor can Wolfe Barry. It is pointed out that whole staff of Coode firm willbe employed on their return in workingout Fitzmaurice’s schemes up to point of submission. For all work from first to last ask 4,700 guineas, to include consultation with Matthews on return Home, and firm’s staff charges and all expenses,- everything in fact, except Australian assistance from Government staff for survey and collection of local engineering data. These latter better after inspection. Fee based on a stay of six weeks. If more time, some allowance to be added. If less, some deduction to be made. Was going to Singapore harbor works November ; but can leave for Australia 10th October, and go Singapore afterwards.
Then there is the further cable -
With reference to your telegrams of 5th, 10th, and nth September, Government accept Fitz.maurice’s offer. Information you have mentioned as being required in cable of 5th September will be available on arrival Fitzmaurice at Fremantle.
That is a sporting offer. I should like to know how the Government are going to get all this information regarding Jervis Bay by the time Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice arrives at Fremantle, when it took twelve months to obtain similar information in regard to Cockburn Sound.
Advice required particularly as to Cockburn Sound and Western Fort, and, generally, as to Cockatoo Island, Jervis May, and Port Stephens.
The present Government denounced the Labour Administration for going on with the works at Cockburn .Sound after spending £16,000 in some twelve months with a large staff of men surveying, boring, and exploring the site there. There is the secret of the proposed expenditure of only £48,000 this year. The fact is that nothing is going to be done in connexion with the Naval Bases this year, but the Government have not had the courage to say so. They have adopted a policy different from that of the late Government. Whether they are right in doing so or not is beside the question; but they should have had the courage to come out into the open and say that they do not intend to go on with the Naval Bases this year. They are going to spend this money in examinations and preliminary surveys, and do not propose to go on with the work ; but they are trying to bluff i>e people into believing that they do intend ,;9 go on with the work. Sir John Forrest is telegraphing to Western Australia that the Cockburn Sound base is to be established with all expedition, and that it h only hung up until Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice sends in his report. As soon as he does so the Government are going ahead at full speed, and yet they provide this year a sum of £48,000 for the six Naval, Bases.
– The amount is only £18,000 when the commitments for Spectacle Island and Garden Island are deducted.
– Let us consider what is being done at Port Stephens. There is a small staff engaged surveying at that place. It “is practically in a state of nature, and will require a hugh expenditure. It is intended to be the destroyer and submarine base for the eastern part of Australia. It is recognised as undesirable to have submarines in Sydney Harbor. Port, Stephens would appear to have been designed by nature as the covering harbor for Newcastle and Sydney for submarine services. If the late Government had remained in office they would have pushed on with the works there in order that as soon as possible after the arrival of the submarines that base would be ready for them. The present Government are going to do nothing there. They intend to wait until Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice makes his inspection and sends in his report. He is to have six weeks within which to carry out his investigations, but he will not report then. He is to go back to the Old Country, and the work of preparing plans and recommendations must fit in with the other work which his firm has in hand, and we may have to wait for years before anything definite will be done. The course followed by the present Government is an acknowledgment of the ignorance and helplessness of the Navy Office staff. If the members of that staff are unable to carry out the duties for which they are paid, their services should be dispensed with. What is the use of paying them if they arc not competent to do this work? There are civil engineers among them who have been appointed because they produced testimonials to show that they are competent officers, yet, apparently, we must go away to the other end of the world and introduce a whole staff to carry out this work, because that is what the Government’s proposal means. This investigation is only the beginning. After it the data secured will be taken to London and worked up by a staff there.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that if Senator Millen dismisses an officer the other members of the Government ,make him take that officer back again ?
– I think that in this matter the Government have adopted a mistaken policy. I frankly confess that, although one naturally feels somewhat chagrined and annoyed to see one’s policy set aside, it is quite the right thing to do if the incoming Minister is satisfied that the policy is wrong, but it does seem to me that he has not had the courage of his convictions. When he decided that the policy was wrong, why did he not say, “ The late Minister has got together, on the advice of the Naval Board, a works staff and an engineering staff to do this work. I do not believe that they are competent. What is the logical thing for me to do ? It is to get rid of them. I will import an expert from England, and hand over the work to his firm.’ Why on earth does Australia want to be importing a staff to do the work? Let us do one thing or the other. If we are going to farm out our work to the firm of Coode and Matthews, wipe out the local staff if they p.re not competent, though I believe that they are. I do not think that there are the extraordinary difficulties which the present Government say exist. I think that under every State Government there are men carrying out just as big works as we proposed to carry out under the Naval vote. There is nothing mysterious or superhuman about the proposals that we made. The harbors were certainly not in use. Port Stephens was not in use, nor was Cockburn Sound in use. How many harbors are there round Australia? Many of them are not used very much at present because of parochial influence - because of the policy of centralization. Supposing that the Government of Western Australia decided to use Cockburn Sound, do honorable senators think that they would send all over the world to get an expert at a fee of 5,000 guineas, after having had, as they have had, preliminary reports by his very firm on that particular port? Supposing that the Government of New South Wales proposed to open up Port Stephens, do honorable senators think that they would intrust that work to a firm in London? If they considered their harbor staff not competent, they would get rid of them. In this matter the whole attitude of the present Government is one of blue funk. They have not confidence in themselves, or in Australia.
– There is a great deal more than blue funk in it.
– I believe that the Australian engineer is as good as any other engineer. The fact that he was born in Australia does not make him less competent than another engineer. He may not have had experience in some lines, but who shall say therefore that the Government should send all over the world for harbor engineers ? All our harbors were not used a hundred years ago. During that period every State has had a staff which has been trained in opening up harbors which were never used before. If honorable senators compare our harbor engineers with those of any other part of the world, they must recognise that our men have had to blaze the track. What did the other men have to do ? They simply had to improve existing harbors, to continue docks, to simply carry the track a bit farther. Apparently the present Government have so little confidence in our staff that they must send for men on the other side of the world who have never had the difficulties that our men have had to face, admit our helplessness, and say that they are to carry out the whole of this work for us.
– In Queensland we have had five harbors opened up by Queensland engineers.
– Yes; there are harbors in every State in the Commonwealth. I think that in this matter the Government are not only not carrying out a helpful sort of policy, but are going to seriously injure the naval defence policy. We cannot have an efficient Fleet ‘without efficient Bases. At present there is only one Base in Australia, and that is Sydney. It is not laid out under the most uptodate conditions, and, therefore, has to be altered in several respects. It was essential that we should push on as quickly as possible with the provisional Bases. The late Government commenced the work, and the Fleet is here. Not only are the present Government not pushing on with the work, but they are absolutely stopping everything. It is a policy of stand still, which means that in time of peace the Fleet, except for a passing visit anywhere, must be based on Sydney, and in time of war the Fleet dare not leave Sydney. Its supplies, its docks, and its repairing shops are there, and once the Fleet is cut off from Sydney it will be useless. It will be cut off from all possibility of repair or docking.
– This is very interesting, sir, and we might have a quorum to listen to it. There is only one honorable senator on the other side. [Quorum formed.’]
– The Government have applied the pruning knife to the works. Let us see what they are doing in the ordinary Estimates as regards expenditure, and remember there are two ways by which the Australian Navy can be made unworkable, and can be discredited. One is by starving the expenditure on the necessary works, and the other is by loading up the expenditure on the unnecessary or secondary works, and the latter is being done. Whilst the works are being starved and cut to the bone, the establishment of officials is being loaded up to the utmost. On page 99 and the following pages of the Estimates will be found what the Government ask the Parliament to vote for the establishment of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Garden Island, with the depots at Darling Harbor and Spectacle Island. Under the State Government, before Cockatoo Island was transferred to the Commonwealth, the number of, the staff was twenty-one, and that number, I may say, included one officer in charge, who was at Newcastle, but was on the books for the island. The expenditure on salaries for the staff was £6,416. It is proposed in the Estimates for this year that Cockatoo Island Dockyard shall carry a staff of forty-five, at salaries totalling £14,006. Again, take the Navy Yard at Garden Island. When it was under the Imperial Government, in 1912-13, there were on the staff six victualling and clothing officers, twenty-nine ship-builders and repairers, five naval armaments or ordnance men, or a total of forty, with salaries amounting to £12,911. This year’s Estimates, to carry on practically the same work, provide for a total staff of seventy-one persons at salaries totalling £15,311. But that is not all the increase. That is merely the increase to the staff. In addition, a large number of men arc to be kept there, consisting of the following: - Two lieutenants, an engineer commander, two engineer lieutenants, a staff paymaster, an assistant paymaster, a chief gunner or gunner, a chief boatswain, a boatswain, and 100 petty officers and men, or, in all, 110. A footnote to the page informs us that the provision is for “ portion of year only.” These 110 officers and men are to ba paid for a sea-going force, but to be kept there, for what purpose I am absolutely at a loss to know. I know that an explanation has been given in another place that the men are to be there for police duty. They are to be there for nothing of the kind, because, in the Estimates, provision is made for a naval depot, a dockyard, an ordnance department, and a victualling yard,- one sub-inspector of police, one sergeant of police, eight seniorconstables, and twenty -thi ee constables. These are the men who are charged with the duty of guarding that property. Take the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. When the late Government agreed to take over that establishment, the staff consisted of twenty-one, with salaries totalling £6,416. The late Government asked the State Government to lend that staff to the Commonwealth, and that was done. There were two men, however - the secretary and the accountant - who were approaching the retiring age, and whom it was decided that the Naval Board should inform the State Government they proposed to replace, and their places were filled. There were minor appointments made to the clerical staff. But when we look at this year’s Estimates, we find that there are to be a general manager, a shipyard manager, an engineer works manager, a secretary and accountant, a dockmaster. an establishment engineer, a foreman erector, a foreman machinist, a foreman blacksmith, a foreman patternmaker, an engineer foreman, a foreman turbine engineer, a foreman boilermaker, a loftsman, two assistant shipyard overseers, and an assistant foreman shipwright. In view of the statements, made by other honorable members, I wish to make clear what is happening in regard to Cockatoo Island Dockyard. First, the late Government decided not to take over permanently as manager of the dockyard the present superintendent, and advertised throughout the world for a manager. No salary was put down, although the statement was made elsewhere that that was done. Applicants were invited to state what salary they expected. A committee was appointed in England to go through the applications received there, and make recommendations, and it reported just prior to the late Government going out of office. It is obvious, therefore, that the late Government did take 4he responsibility of making an appointment. I, for my part, laid it down that there should be no reorganization of the dockyard until a general manager was appointed, in order to give him the opportunity of carrying out the reorganization and appointing the men whom he thought necessary to carry on the work. Therefore, we were to carry on with the existing State staff. 1 am well aware that members of the Naval Board made proposals for the appointment of certain officials, and that those proposals were approved by me for draft Estimates. I wish honorable senators to thoroughly understand that Estimates come forward from sub-Departments to the Minister, but the Minister can neither approve nor disapprove of them until he has before him complete Estimates for the Department. Therefore, I have no doubt that the statement made by a Minister in another place, that from a docket he finds that certain proposals were approved by me for draft Estimates is correct. But he cannot find where the appointments of the additional highly-paid officials on the technical side, who are provided for on these Estimates, were finally approved by me as Minister of Defence.
– Does the honorable senator mean such officials as the shipyard manager?
– Yes. The Government of New South Wales appointed certain experts in different branches of that dockyard, and the question arose as to whether the Commonwealth would take over those men. Speaking from memory, I think that an intimation was given to them that they would be taken over. But they were already on the staff - they were not additions to it.- There is another criticism which I wish to offer at this stage. From the way in which these Estimates are presented it is absolutely impossible to know exactly in what branch of the service these various appointments are, or what is their purpose. In a dockyard such as that at Cockatoo Island there are three main branches, which are distinct from one another. First we have the administrative branch, secondly the engineering branch, and thirdly the ship-building branch. Yet all these branches are mixed up in the Estimates in a most confusing way. For instance, provision is made for a constructor overseer, an engineer overseer, an engine works manager, a secretary and accountant, and a naval draughtsman. I contend that these Estimates could be broken up under three main heads. We should then be able to see where the superfluous officials come in. I find that there is a general manager for the whole dockyard. Then there is a shipyard manager, who is in charge of one particular branch, and a constructor overseer. There is also an engineer overseer, an assistant to the engineer overseer, an establishment overseer, an assistant shipyard overseer, a foreman erector, a foreman machinist, a foreman blacksmith, a foreman patternmaker, an engineer foreman, a foreman turbine engineer, . and a foreman boilermaker. There is still a further division which includes an assistant shipyard overseer and an assistant foreman shipwright. All these men may be necessary, but before they were placed on the permanent Estimates of the Department, the general manager of the dockyard should have been appointed. Had the late Government remained in office we intended to appoint a general manager, and, before finally approving of the Estimates, I proposed to satisfy myself that that general manager approved of these positions. But the present Government ask Parliament to approve of these appointments, and they intend to appoint the general, manager subsequently. I take it that the names of these men are going down on the permanent staff of the country.
– The honorable senator knows that that statement is not correct.
– We know that it takes a prety stiff haul to get any public servant out of his position, no matter how incompetent he may be. I venture to say that if these officers are appointed it will be very difficult to get rid of them. I know of one case in the Defence Department in which we appointed a man to a position for twelve months only. At the end of that time he was discharged, and it cost us £300 a little later. It is more easy to move a mountain than to move a public servant when once he has obtained a position on the permanent staff . The Government, I repeat, intend to ask Parliament to vote this money, and to appoint a general manager afterwards. When that general manager arrives here, he may find that he has got a lot of men on his staff whom he does not require. Before finally committing ourselves to an expenditure of £14,000, I say that the Government should have appointed the general manager, and should have acted on his advice.
– Is the honorable senator speaking now of the Fitzroy Dock ?
– What is wrong with the acting manager 1
– He has never had experience of building warships. I admit that he has had considerable experience in building small boats, and that he is a very good man so far as his experience goes. I have nothing to say against the. present superintendent of the dock. I was prepared to retain him in the service, with a view to allowing him to obtain that experience which would afterwards prove of great value to the Commonwealth. That is my criticism so far as the Cockatoo Island dockyard is concerned. I come now to Garden Island. During the period that I filled the office of Minister of Defence, propositions were submitted to and approved by me for draft Estimates in favour of continuing the dockyard repairing staff of engineers at Garden Island. If honorable senators will turn to the Estimates they will see what a similarity there is in the positions filled by the different officers there. For example, we have a naval store officer, a victualling store officer, a chief engineer, an inspector of boilermakers, a foreman of shipwrights, a foreman of fitters, hired artificers and labourers, and artificers of the Fleet. All these officers and men were required for effecting repairs to the Fleet. The position which has hitherto existed has been that the Imperial Government had a Fleet here, but did not have Cockatoo Island. It was necessary, therefore, that they should have their own workshops at Garden Island. Now the situation has entirely changed. We have Garden Island, and we have also Cockatoo Island. Had the late Government remained in office, what I intended to look into before final Estimates were approved by me was whether we could not concentrate this repair work at Cockatoo Island. Before final Estimates were submitted to Parliament that question would have been faced and decided. I cannot understand why we require two separate repairing shops. I cannot understand why repairs cannot be effected at Cockatoo Island. If the Minister has raised that question, I should like to know what reasons were given for duplicating an engineering staff at Garden Island and at Cockatoo Island.
– The duplication, if any, is the honorable senator’s, and not mine.
-=-That statement is absolutely incorrect, and the Minister knows it.
– I will produce the minutes.
– The honorable gentleman can produce no minutes dealing with final Estimates. He knows perfectly well that when Estimates come in from his sub-departments he does not deal with them. No final Estimates had been dealt with before I left office. Therefore, the Minster must accept responsibility for these Estimates. It is idle for him to endeavour to shelter himself behind me.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.’]
– I do not know whether I ought to apologize to the Senate for occupying so much time in dealing with this matter. I trust, however, that I am not wearying anybody. I come now to another feature of these Estimates. There is a series of votes for the Naval Depot and Dockyard, Naval Ordnance Depot, and Naval Victualling Yard, Sydney. In that connexion, I” wish to draw the attention of the Minister, in all friendliness, to the Estimates as they are presented to us. They seem to be absolutely unintelligible. I have had a pretty good gruelling in the Defence Department, similar to that which I suppose the Minister is going through now; but I frankly confess that these Estimates are difficult for me to unravel after three years’ experience of the Department, and I venture to say that it is absolutely impossible for an ordinary member of Parliament to understand them. In this one division, 56, I have endeavoured to pick out the officers for the three establishments - the Garden Island establishment, the Victualling Yard, Darling Harbor, and the Ordnance
Branch. I believe that last night, in another place, an attempt was made to make party capital out of the vote for the captain-in-charge, £1,000. The Minister there might have been candid enough to say what was the reason why the captain-in-charge was appointed. The former officer was an Imperial officer in charge of the Garden Island establishment. He was about to return to England, and we were about to take charge of the establishment. We had not actually taken it over, but it became necessary to appoint an officer as a successor to Captain Rolleston. The only question was whether the Imperial Government should be asked to send out a successor, or whether one should be appointed here. We appointed Captain Henderson. That is the whole secret of the matter, about which great disclosures were sought to be made elsewhere.
– The point is that the expenditure is due to the late Government’s arrangements.
– No expenditure was incurred for an additional officer.
– Is not Captain Henderson a decided bargain - for Australia ?
– I believe he is. At all events, I have not heard that he is incompetent; although I should like to have a certificate as to his qualifications from the present Government. It seems necessary to have a certificate as to any naval officer now, because they are showing such a lack of faith in all of them that one does not know what officers they believe in. Captain Henderson has general charge. Then there is the naval store officer, £750. He is a new officer entirely. He belongs to Garden Island.
– The appointment is not made yet, is it?
– I do not know.
– The honorable senator ought to know.
– I do not. The victualling store officer, £750, belongs to Darling Harbor. The position in regard to that officer, or the officer in charge of Darling Harbor, was this: When we took over the harbor we appointed the officer who was in charge for the Imperial Government at the place. I dare say that the Minister will accuse me of having made this appointment. I plead guilty. I. appointed the officer who was already there. But there is also a. new appointment here, an officer nob taken over from the Admiralty. There is a chief engineer at a salary of £700.’ Where he is to belong to, I do not know, and as these Estimates are framed, it is impossible to find out. Next comes the deputy naval store officer, £600 a year. I think he belongs to Garden Island. If he does, I wish to point out that there isalready a captain-in-charge. We have here a naval store officer, a deputy naval store officer, and a foreman of victualling storehouse. Apparently, theGovernment are going to have plenty of admirals in charge of this establishment! We come to the naval ordnance officer, £450. He belongs obviously to Spectacle Island, and yet,, on these ‘Estimates, he is sandwiched in amongst all these others. Next we have the assistant victualling store officers, £400. They belong to Darling Harbor, and they are sandwiched in between the naval ordnance officer, who belongs to Spectacle Island, and some naval staff clerks, who may belong to anywhere. Next we have some messengers, a sub-inspector of police, a sergeant of police, 5 senior constables, and 28 constables. They are for guards for these places. Then we come to the inspector of boiler makers, £400 a year. We alrea’dy have a similar officer at Cockatoo Island, and why on earth the inspector of boilermakers at Cockatoo Island cannot do the work of an inspector of boilermakers at Garden Island, I cannot imagine.
– What has he to inspect in regard to boilermakers?
- Senator McDougall ought to know if any one does. Next we have a foreman of victualling storehouses, £340, and a foreman of ordnance storehouses; £325. The latter was on the Estimates last year. We also have a foreman of shipwrights, £300. I should like to know what work he has to do. A shipwright is generally associated with ship-building.
– What are the policemen wanted for at Garden Island ?
– They are wanted because we have valuable stores there. There are also explosives stored at Spectacle Island. These things need to be protected. I do not think that any complaint is to be made about the number of police, because it must be remembered that we save the cost of a number of marines.
– The honorable senator seems to be expressing surprise at what he took over.
– According to the Imperial Estimates, the staff which the Imperial Government had consisted of forty, and the salaries amounted to £12,911, whereas now the staff consists of seventy-one. I do say that there is evidence that a number of these officers are duplications.
– New appointments?
– How many?
– I have been drawing attention to the fact. Of course, I am assuming that these Estimates are correctly drawn up. If they are not, what I have been saying is beside the mark. But if honorable senators look at the columns printed in front of the Estimates they will see that the number of persons employed in 1912-13 is compared with the number of persons employed in 1913-14. According to these columns there was last year no naval store officer, no chief engineer, no deputy naval store officer, none of the naval staff clerks set down here, no inspector of boilermakers, no foreman of victualling storehouse, no foreman of shipwrights, no foreman of fitters, no foreman of storehouses, and no armourer. If Senator Clemons tells me that this information is incorrect, I advise him to quarrel with the Treasurer for submitting incorrect Estimates to Parliament. But if my statement is correct, I think I am justified in saying that these officers represent an increase in the establishment. Senator Millen cannot shelter himself by saying that I approved of these appointments, because no final Estimates had been approved when I left office. The only Estimates brought before me were the sub-departmental Estimates. It is only when Estimates have been dealt with finally, and a Minister submits them to the Cabinet, that he becomes responsible for them. He is not responsible for Estimates submitted to him by his officers. A new Minister coming to a Department has before him all the draft Estimates, and has to take the responsibility for the Estimates which he submits to the Cabinet. My criticism is that when it came to a question of the final Estimates - when the Minister had to decide upon these points - when he had to decide whether he was going to duplicate all these officers, he dealt with the question as if there were two navies, and not one. He dealt with it as though the Commonwealth had not taken over the Cockatoo Island dockyard. These questions came before the Minister of Defence for settlement, and he has not settled them. He has continued the establishments as carried on by the Imperial Government, without having regard to the fact that they are now to be carried on by the Commonwealth Government. I leave that point, and desire to say a few words with respect to statements which have been made by the Minister in answer to questions as to cadet training. The late Government announced that they proposed to amend the Defence Act to provide that a certain proportion of the cadet training now done in the spare time of the cadets should be done in the working hours, and that they proposed to provide pay, so that these lads should not lose their earnings for the time when they were undergoing training. The late Government intended to carry out that policy. Had the referenda proposals been carried we should have placed proposals before Parliament for the purpose. There are some employers who are patriotic enough to arrange that when lads leave work to undergo a portion of their training their pay shall not be stopped. But I am afraid that those employers are in a minority.
– The honorable senator is referring to training on statutory holidays.
– It was our intention, if our referenda proposals had been carried - Mr. Fisher made this absolutely clear in his policy speech - to amend the Defence Act to provide funds to enable cadets to do a portion of their training in working hours, the Government recompensing them for the time lost. I think that, as experience has been gained in reference to cadet training, it has shown that the time has arrived for a departure of that kind to be made. I am not one of those who say that the lads are badly dealt with at present. But, at the same time, there are some trainees who think that they are suffering a grievance in comparison with others. There are some who are able to undergo a portion of their training after school hours, whilst there are others who, by reason of the circumstance that they have to go to work, are compelled to do their training in recreation hours. This appears to them to be an injustice. That is to say, they do not appear to be treated in the same way as are youths whose school days, on account of the position of their parents, are prolonged. Those who have to go to work in the daytime have to be compelled to train at night. It certainly does seem to a lad who is working all day rather hard that he should have to drill at night and on Saturday afternoons, when he sees the son of a well-to-do man training after school hours, and not at night or on Saturday afternoons.
– That only applies to the school battalions.
– It can only apply to them. As I have said, the other lads sometimes think that they are unjustly treated. I have always pointed out, when the grievance has been brought before me, that the way to remove it is not to compel the lad who goes to school to train at night and on Saturday afternoons, but to give the other lad an opportunity of being trained in working hours, and to recompense him for lost time. Of course, I am not referring to trainees of adult, age.
– What does the honorable senator mean by adult age?
– Lads attending secondary schools who do not have to become trainees until they attain eighteen years of age. They usually go to the universities after eighteen years of age, unless they are too stupid.
– There are hundreds of boys in Australia who remain at secondary schools after eighteen years of age.
– Those lads go into the Citizen Forces, and do not remain members of school companies. I do not know of a school company in Australia in which there are trainees over eighteen years of age. Of course, there are schools at which there are companies of cadets who are not trainees. As I have said, we hoped that our referenda proposals would be carried, and then we intended to place some of the burden on the shoulders of the employers.
– Why not all of it?
– At the first blush the condition of things that I have described is open to the suspicion that there is something unfair. I do think that, whilst everybody in Australia has something to defend, those who have property have a little more to defend than others. That is to say, the employers can generally be taken to be representative of the property-owning class. I believe that the poorest man in Australia has something to defend. During his youth he should be trained to defend it. I. believe that those who possess property, in addition to citizen rights, have another obligation. Those who employ these lads are, I think, called upon to pay a little more to the general defence of the country, and should pay the wages of the lads between the ages of fourteen years and eighteen years whilst they are at drill. I do not think they should be asked to do so after the lads have reached the age of eighteen years. I venture to say that no class in this community is getting more benefit from the universal training of our youths than are the employers of Australia. The training is making the lads physically stronger, mentally more alert, and better workmen all round. I venture further to say that the employer who is patriotic enough to say to the lads whom he employs that they will lose no money because they have to spend some of their working hours at drill will be studying his own interests. I think we can absolutely justify the proposal, and that a considerable number of our employers would feet it no hardship to be compelled to pay the lads they employ for the working time lost at drill. There is one other matter of importance to which I desire to refer, and that is the attitude of the Minister of Defence in regard to the question of the disposition of the ships of the Fleet. I say that, in my opinion, the Minister has made a blunder in this matter. It is all very well to say that the Fleet is small, and what is done now does not matter very much. That may be, to some extent, true so far as present consequences are concerned, but I say in all earnestness that the Minister of Defence is now laying down the principles on which we shall build in the future. One of the principles on which they deal with the question of the disposition of ships of the Navy in the Mother Country is that the Executive are the masters of the disposition of the ships.
– So they are here.
– The reason of that is obvious. The Navy is a powerful factor in international politics, and unless the Executive retain absolutely, and not merely passively, in their hands the disposition of the ships, a momentary alteration of the disposition of certain ships might at any time involve the nation in war. It is, perhaps, now a day of small things with us, but I hope that within a few years we shall possess a Fleet which will have to be reckoned with in the Pacific. Assuming that we give the Admiral in charge of the Fleet the disposition of the ships, let us consider what might happen. A situation might arise from which there might be strained relations between Great Britain and France, and the mere placing of our ships of war by the Admiral in command in the vicinity of New Caledonia might bring about a conflict.
– It might be looked upon as a menace.
– That is so. It is for this reason that the British Government have always jealously guarded the right to dispose of their ships, and have never parted with that right to any one. The Government decide where the Fleet shall go.
– After consultation with the Admiralty.
– Yes; of course, after consultation with the Admiralty, of which one of the members of the Executive is a member, as the Minister of Defence here is a member of the Naval Board. I cannot understand why the honorable senator has violated that principle.
– He has not done so.
– I say that he has. All Governments govern directly, or delegate their powers to others. The late Government, in laying down principles under the Naval Defence Act, delegated certain powers to the Naval Board, of which the Minister of Defence is a member. One of the powers delegated to that Board is the power which reposes in the Admiralty in the Old Country with regard to the disposition of ships. Their disposition is always subservient to the will of the Government of the day, through the Minister, who is a member of the Naval Board. What has the present Minister of Defence done? The honorable senator has set on one side the Naval Board. He will not give to the Board the disposition of the ships, but has delegated his power, and the power of the Board in this matter, to the Admiral in command;. The Admiral is the servant of the Naval Board, and not their master’, and he should never be thought of as their master. There is a very important reason for the observance of that rule, quite apart from the possibility of international complications, to which I have just referred. That reason is that we charge the Naval Board with responsibility for the administration of the naval vote. Parliament places at the disposal of the Naval Board certain moneys for providing coal, oil, and other stores necessary to make the Fleet effective.
– And wages also.
– Yes, and wages. If the Naval Board is to be held responsible for the expenditure of that money, obviously the Board must be in a position to say where, how, and when that money shall be spent. In the statement which appeared in the press the other day it was mentioned that Admiral Patey, on the authority given him by the Minister, had intimated that he was going to take the Fleet to Port Lincoln. I have no quarrel with that, as Port Lincoln is an excellent port. Of course, if that announcement had been made by the Minister as a result of either a recommendation by Admiral Patey, concurred in by the Naval Board, and approved of by the Minister, I would say that it was perfectly right. But, coming direct from the Admiral, without consultation with the Minister and the Naval Board, I say that it is absolutely wrong. It is wrong for this reason : If the Admiral can, without consultation with the Administration, choose the port to which he will take the Fleet, and decide how long he shall remain- there, what becomes of the power of the Administration over the expenditure of the money? At one port there may be stores of coal, oil, and everything requisite for replenishing the Fleet; at another port it may be necessary to send all these supplies by ships specially chartered for the purpose. Who is to decide at what port the Fleet shall rendezvous - the Admiral in command, who has nothing to do with administration, or the Naval Board, who are responsible for the administration to the Minister of Defence, who is in turn responsible to Parliament? The present Minister of Defence has said that the Admiral in command shall say where the Fleet is to go, and the Naval Board shall not. I wish here to absolutely dissociate myself from all sympathy with a Fleet to be looked upon as a show Fleet, to be used to make regattas popular, or to add to the attractions of a race meeting. I hope to find that the Minister of Defence will take a strong stand in this regard, and will say, “ Away with all your regattas. We shall send the Fleet to those places at which training can best be carried on.” The training of the Fleet must be considered above everything else.
– That is exactly what the Minister has done.
– I am not saying whether Port Lincoln is the best place for naval evolutions or not, but I do say that if the present Minister of Defence believes that the Naval Board are not to be trusted with the disposition of our ships, because they would send them to grace regattas, that is merely a reason for shifting the Naval Board. The Minister has the power to give the Naval Board their policy. The Naval Board does not give a policy to the Minister. The Minister is in a position to say to the Naval Board, “ You are to dispose of the ships where the men of the Fleet may be given efficient training.” He might go -so far as to say to the Naval Board, “ You are to ask Admiral Patey’s advice as to where they can be best given that “ training,” but I do say that the disposition of the ships is not the province of the Admiral commanding the Fleet, but is the province of the Minister of Defence. He has delegated his powers, so far as taking the advice of the Naval Board is concerned. .He ought to take their advice, whether he accepts it or not, because he has to look to them to be responsible for spending the money. Suppose that in any financial year it is found that sufficient money is not available, that more coal has been burned, or more oil used, than was anticipated? The Minister of Defence will turn to the Board and say, “ You told me at the beginning of the year that the vote for which you asked would provide sufficient stores for the year.” Under the principle now sought to be laid down, the Board will be in a position to say, “ So it would if you had carried out our advice, but you never . asked us about the -sending of the ships to Hobart, or to
Port Darwin. Admiral Patey sent the ships to Port Darwin, and he should be held responsible for the increased consumption of coal and oil.”
– I did not know that the honorable senator possessed so lively an imagination.
– I am not imagining anything. I am dealing with a statement by the Minister which appeared in the press, and which has not been contradicted or corrected. If the Minister says that the report of his statement is incorrect, I shall be very interested to hear him. It is quite time that he said so if the report is not accurate. The statement of the honorable senator, as reported in the Argus of Tuesday last, was that he had decided that, as Admiral Patey is responsible for the efficiency ofthe ships, he should have the absolute disposition of them. If that is not a correct report of the Minister’s statement, why did he not contradict it? I raised the question in the Senate. I asked whether the report was correct, and the Minister informed me that it was.
– I did not say that the newspaper paragraph was correct.
– No, but I repeated what was contained in the paragraph, and the Minister said that the statement I attributed to him was correct.
– If they are looked at closely it will be found that there is » difference between the newspaper paragraph and the words in which the honorable senator put his question to me.
– I said what the Minister was reported as having decided to do, and the honorable senator said that it was correct, and that the Admiral in command was to have the disposition of the Fleet. There is in this matter a very important principle at stake, and I advise the Minister of Defence to reflect upon what he has done. If he has been incorrectly reported, and if I have misunderstood his policy, I, of course, apologize to him, but he has’ not, so far, intimated that I have put before the Senate an incorrect view of the .position he takes up. I hope that the honorable senator has not been correctly reported. We are at the beginning of our Navy, and we should start on sound and right lines. It will be very much more difficult later on to make a change if we have adopted wrong lines. I say that, above every other thing in naval or military affairs, we should assert the predominance of the civil power. We should keep the civil power on top. I do again complain that in submitting this motion the Honorary Minister made no reference to the expenditure, thereby treating the Senate with contempt.
– That is not correct.
– Every other Minister in submitting a similar motion has always outlined the proposals of the Government in relation to the expenditure.
– Every other Minister has not done so, and I -did not treat the Senate with contempt. You were not justified in making either statement.
– I suppose that when I sit ‘down, and so will not have an opportunity to reply, the Minister of Defence will get up and deal with the statement of Senator Russell?
– I want to give my assurance to Senator Pearce, and to the Senate, that in the action I have taken this afternoon I have not had the slightest intention of implying any discourtesy to him or to the Senate. I was preparing information in response to a request he submitted to me, anticipating that it referred to the Estimates for Works and Buildings. It did seem’ to me that naturally the information would be associated in his mind with those particular financial proposals. Knowing that the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill could not reach the Senate to-day, I came here without this information. As a matter of fact I have not had it definitely put together. It did not occur to me that the matter might come up on the very important proposal - on the very important proposal, I repeat - that the Budgetpapers be printed. I admit at once that I did not associate the request of my honorable friend with that motion ; therefore I ask him to accept the assurance I give him now in all sincerity. I was placed in that position, and did not mean to be discourteous. Let me now refer to some of the matters which he has brought up. I asked the honorable senator, and the Senate, too, to excuse me from dealing with any definiteness or particularity with the financial questions involved in those matters. We shall have an opportunity of that kind on the Works and Building’s Estimates, I hope, in a short space of time, when I will have my figures more definitely before me.
There is a limit beyond which. I venture to say, it would be dangerous, and probably impossible, to go in the amount of money you spend in any given direction. When we are charged with starving the Defence Force, I direct attention to the fact that we propose an increase of nearly one-third over the amount spent last year.
– Much of it will be bor-‘ rowed money, though.
– I am dealing now with the amount of the proposed expenditure. But even if we propose to spend borrowed money it cannot be said that we are starving the Defence Department, when the fact is that we ask the Parliament to increase last year’s expenditure by 32 per cent., or, roughly, a third.
– Still you charged the late Government with extravagance.
– Not even Senator Needham can have it both ways. I am afraid that the influence of the coming week, with its suggestions of hedging, is making an impression on his mind.
– I remarked that that depends very largely upon how you dis- tribute the money.
– That is quite so. I think that the Government accepted a very fair responsibility when they asked the Parliament to vote for defence purposes a sum one-third in advance of that which was required for the same purpose last year. I do not mean to suggest that any legitimate requirements of the defence policy should be kept in abeyance, or imperilled merely for financial considerations. If the efficiency of the force is in one scale, and the financial considerations in the other scale, the latter must give way. At this juncture it does appear to me that the Government have made a very fair and very liberal provision for the coming year. Whether theapportionment of the money, as Senator Rae suggests, will meet with universal, approval is another matter. The only point I am emphasizing now is that wehave accepted something in the nature of responsibility when we ask the Parliament to vote a third more than the amount that was found necessary to carry on the= defence system last year.
Let me now deal with some of the matters referred to by Senator Pearce. I was particularly pleased to hear his admission, of the difficulty which he, a Minister of three years’ experience in the Department, had in grappling with some of the problems which did present themselves to him, and with which, I am very free to admit, I am face to face myself to-day. In fact, I have never had so much sympathy for the honorable senator as I have developed during the last few months.
– Since you took over his job.
– I trust that on that account Senator Pearce will understand, very naturally, that a little of the difficulties which he, after three years, was not free from, crowd themselves round a man who is brought face to face with problems at a time when the Department is called upon to bear the added responsibilities consequent upon the growth of the Military Forces and the arrival of the larger number of vessels.
– Do you think you will be able to stand the strain ?
– I will do my best to stand the strain. Senator Pearce referred to the training of the cadets. In the answer given to a question to-day it was pointed out - and the honorable senator, I venture to say, will be the first to admit it - that there are very many difficulties surrounding the solution of that problem. The matter is now under consideration. I have sent it on to the Military Board to turn it over and see what can be done to reconcile, so far as it is possible, the necessary conflicting interests which arise when we come to fix the times of training.
– Most of the trouble is due to want of common-sense on the part of officers in different districts.
– Without adopting the very sweeping language which is so characteristic of the honorable senator, I will say that, in isolated instances, the conditions of a district’ have not always been sufficiently studied by the officers whose duty it was to fix the times of training, more particularly in regard to the holding of camps.
– Recently I was in a country district where the camp is fixed for the annual sports day.
– No system is foolproof.
– That is the best way of disposing of that argument. Honorable senators must recognise that it is not easy to fix any time which will suit everybody. We have the old story of the good Irish clergyman who undertook to pray for rain, and secure rain as the result of his prayers, if he could arrange amongst the community that they all wanted rain at the one time. We are in a similar position as regards training. No time that may be fixed will suit all the boys, all their employers, and also the necessities of the Department. The only thing to be done is to balance things so far as one can, striving always to obtain the maximum of convenience and the minimum of inconvenience. With that object in view, the question is now under consideration.
With regard to the appointments to the two -establishments in Sydney Harbor, referred to by Senator Pearce, I think I can dispose of the matter very briefly. With one single exception, no appointment has been made since I have been at the head of the Department. The Estimates for this year do disclose a very material increase in the number of those employed at Sydney, and who appear to be on the pay roll of Australia. Take the Estimates for Cockatoo Island on page 104. It would appear that to-day we have forty-five men on the staff there, as against six men last year. But let rae point out how the forty-five men come to be there. In the agreement between the State Government and the Commonwealth Government provision was made that we should honour the agreement made by the State Government with a number of professional men whom -they obtained from the Old Country.
– Was there any reason why it should be confined to professional men ?
– I am only dealing with the men who are at Cockatoo Island. I have already said that not a single additional appointment has been made by me to the Department.
– There have been transfers, though.
– Only within the Department. If honorable senators will look at the designations of the officers to whom Senator Pearce referred, they will see that the first officer provided for on page 104 is a general manager. It is quite true that that is a new appointment in a sense. As Senator Pearce has stated, he did advertise in the Old Country seeking to obtain the service: of a gentleman to fill the position. It has not yet been filled, but it is necessary to make provision for the officer. The fact that it was a necessary appointment to provide for will, I think, be admitted by even Senator Pearce. If it has to be made, it is of no use to appoint a man, and then to complain that the amount necessary to complete the appointment appears on the Estimates.
– You are appointing the staff first, and getting the general manager afterwards.
– I wish to deal now with the particular items to which Senator Pearce referred The next subject he referred to was the appointment of a shipyard manager, an engine-works manager, a naval draughtsman, an engineer foreman, a foreman turbine engineer, a foreman boilermaker, and a loftsman. The honorable senator looked at those seven items with astonishment, and seemed to think that we have done something wrong, inasmuch as the designations and the salaries appear on the Estimates. These are the officers who were obtained by the State Government from British yards under agreements for three years, and Senator Pearce and his colleagues agreed when they took over Cockatoo Island to honour those agreements. I thick that, in view of my explanation, the honorable senator will see that we had no other course than to make the necessary provision for the officers. Every man who is provided for on page 104 was at work on Cockatoo Island, and his transfer -to the Commonwealth was approved before I went to the Department. The salaries of these men did not appear on the last Estimates, for the simple reason that the island had not been transferred to the Commonwealth: We were not then under an obligation to provide for the men. The island was transferred to the Commonwealth on the 1st February of this year, and under the arrangement made by the previous Government, in taking over the island, the obligation devolved upon us to make the necessary provision for the staff on the Estimates. It is idle to talk of taking over the island unless we are prepared to make the provision.
– The Estimates of the State Government only showed provision for twenty-one persons.
– That is probably so. The honorable senator will recollect that even under our own Estimates a large number of persons are employed who do not figure in individual items. Under State control men who had been employed for nineteen or twenty years did not figure on the Estimates, because they were called temporary employes.
– A number of those twenty-one persons went from Melbourne.
– I cannot say, but I do know that in my time only one appointment has been made in connexion with the Cockatoo Island, Garden Island, and the Naval Establishments.
– Can you say whether the forty-five men, for whom provision is made on the Estimates, have been appointed, 4or whether positions are being created for forty-five men, and no appointments have yet been made? There is evidently a hiatus between your figures and those of the State Government.
– I am not responsible for the State figures. All these positions, with the exception of that of general manager, which carries with it a salary of £2,000 a year, are occupied today. There is an acting manager at £1,000 annually, and his salary will be covered from that amount. But, with the exception mentioned, every other appointment is filled. The acting manager was there when I assumed office, and I had to make provision on the Estimates for his payment. Amongst the dockets of the Department, I found a memorandum from one of the officials addressed to the Naval Secretary, which reads -
Enclosed is the list of the permanent staff (excluding Mr. Cutler) at present employed at Cockatoo Island, whose services have been loaned to the Commonwealth by the State Government until 30th June next. After consulting with the acting general manager (Mr. Cutler), and the secretary and accountant (Mr. Wylie) in regard to the duties of each officer of the clerical staff, and after personally inspecting their work, I recommend that the clerical staff be taken over on 1st July next, and appointed at the salaries and to the positions shown on enclosed list.
A statement follows as to the discrepancy which exists between the pay of men in the New South Wales Public Service and those in the Commonwealth service, and when it was found that the New South Wales rates were higher than our own, a recommendation was made that no increase should be given to the men who curie on to our pay roll. The memorandum proceeds -
The present duties of each officer of the Clerical Division are shown on the enclosed lists.
– T said that when I was speaking.
– Then I am .at a loss to understand the nature of the honorable senator’s complaint against the Government.
– There were twentyone men on the New South Wales list, and the Minister says that seven others were brought out from England, making a total of twenty-eight. Yet these Estimates provide for forty- five men.
– This is the first time that I have heard anything of the New South Wales Estimates. I say again that there has not been a single appointment made by me at Cockatoo Island.
– Then there must be a large number of appointments which have not yet been made, but for which provision is made on these Estimates.
– I can only say that every man who is at Cockatoo Island to-day was there when the property was taken over.
– It may be that a different method of . describing them was adopted by New South Wales.
– I give the Senate my assurance thai, at Cockatoo Island, there is not a single man to-day who was not there when I took office. I have assumed that these men are wanted in the offices which they occupied when I entered the Minister’s chair. The same remark applies to Garden Island. I have made only one appointment there - that of the assistant victualling store officer. I admit that there does appear to be an increase of those employed in these establishments, at any rate in the higher grades. But the position was that these properties were taken over this year under an arrangement made with the Admiralty. This is the first time that we have been called upon to bear the cost associated with their maintenance. Garden Island was established and maintained by the Imperial authorities in connexion with the Royal Navy ships here. It was arranged that on the retirement of those ships from these waters these properties should be transferred to the Commonwealth. It fell to the lot of
Senator Pearce to take steps to give effect to that arrangement. Part of the arrangement was that the officials connected with these establishments should come over with them. All that has been done on these Estimates is to make provision for the payment of the men whom Senator Pearce agreed to take over.
– But the Estimates provide for a larger number of them.
– If the honorable senator will refer to page 99 he will find that whereas, last year, forty-five persons were employed there, the Estimates this year provide for the payment -of a staff of sixty-seven. We only took over the island on the 1st July last. Therefore, it does not matter what number of men are employed there to-day, we have no basis upon which we can institute a comparison with the number who were engaged there last year.
– Except the Imperial Estimates, which show a total staff of forty for the three establishments.
– I am informed that the clerks who appear in these Estimates are covered by the term “ temporary employes,” in the Imperial Estimates.
– When handing over the island did not the Imperial authorities give the Commonwealth an inventory of those employed there?
– Of course, they did. I have made but one appointment to the whole of these naval establishments. Everybody who is there to-day, with one exception, was there when I took office. It is in conformity with the human inventory, of which Senator Rae has spoken, that these Estimates have been framed. Here is a memorandum from the Director of Naval” Accounts on this subject -
After consultation with the responsible officers at Sydney, and after making personal inquiries into the actual work performed by the hired clerical staff in His Majesty’s Naval Establishments at Sydney, I recommend that the present staff be taken over on ist July next, and appointed to the positions and at the rates shown in enclosed statement.
That memorandum was approved by Senator Pearce.
– But does that list tally with these Estimates?
– When I assure the Senate that I have made only one appointment, surely that is sufficient. Whether the men who are engaged there are necessary or superfluous I cannot say. Under these circumstances Senator Pearce will see that his charge that the Government have inflated these establishments falls to the ground.
SenatorPearce. - There is one phase of it to which the Minister has not referred, and which will be found on page 100 of the Estimates - I refer to the 110 officers, petty officers, and men. What are they doing on Garden Island? That seems to be an entirely new item.
SenatorMILLEN. - I understand that the men who are there are sea-going men, who are simply awaiting being drafted to their several ships. I suppose that we utilize these premises much in the same’ way as Williamstown will be utilized for the depot which is to be established there. The men are not a portion of the staff of Garden Island. Elsewhere statements and counter statements have been made as to whether the men who are there today are necessary or not, but the fact remains that they occupied their present positions when I took charge of the Department, and that, therefore, it was necessary - until some other course was suggested to me - to make provision on these Estimates for their payment.
– Is the Minister going to continue the two separate establishments - Garden Island and Cockatoo Island - for repairing works?
– Surely that is a matter which might have entered into the mind of the honorable senator when he took over Garden Island.
– It did. There was a little event which happened about that time, and which it took me three months to bring about.
– I am not in a position to say whether it is desirable or undesirable to continue these two establishments. It seems to me that there is a very usefulwork to be performed at Garden Island. I do not say that the resources at Cockatoo Island are fully taxed to-day, but the whole of its slips are occupied in building the additional vessels for the Fleet. There are other quite distinct operations to be carried on, such as victualling the ships, for which Garden Island seems to have been originally designed. As far as I can judge, it will be necessary, perhaps with a division of the work other than that which now obtains, to continue these two establishments.
– Has the remarkable claim on the part of the New South Wales Government to the ownership of the island been abandoned, or has it been settled?
– I am afraid that it has not been abandoned, and I know that it has not been settled. Just now it is occupying the attention of that very deserving class in the community - the lawyers. I come now to another matter, the importance of which I readily admit. A misapprehension appears to have arisen in the mind of Senator Pearce as to the real purpose and effect of the statement which I made here, and of other statements which I am alleged to have made, as to who should be the controlling authority in regard to the Fleet. This is not a matter to be lightly considered or lightly disposed of. It strikes at some deep principles, and I venture to say that I would be one of the last to attempt to violate the theory enunciated by Senator Pearce that in a country like this the civil power must predominate. I regret that there has been a good deal of misapprehension as to what I did say. In the first place, regarding the newspaper paragraph to which attention has been directed, Senator Pearce seems to have overlooked the fact that it clearly refers to the question of whether or not the Australia and other vessels of the Fleet were to be ordered to Melbourne in order that they might be present at the coming festivities. I was not aware at the time that the reporter was seeking an interview with me for publication; but I have no desire to retract anything that I said.
– Surely the Minister knew that when he made a statement the reporter would publish it?
– There are occasions on which a Minister may make a casual remark to a pressman which is not intended for publication. The reporter did not come to me and say, “I wish to interview you on this subject.” I want to show what was in my mind when I made the statement. I said that the Admiral had made it quite plain that it was his emphatic desire to get to work at once, and, that if he thought it right to have no further festivities, I would not stand in his way. I do not mind making the same statement again.
– That was not the whole statement.
– I mention this as showing what the statement arose out of. An inquiry was made in Sydney as to whether the Fleet would be in Melbourne for the Cup week. I indicated that, as the Admiral had intimated quite plainly his emphatic desire to get to work at once, if he thought it right to avoid further festivities, I should not stand in his way. That was the origination of this matter. Before I sit down, I will point out the attitude which, I think, ought to be taken up. The whole point arose out of the question whether or not the Fleet was to be ordered around to Melbourne. When the Admiral in charge of the Fleet makes a recommendation that, iu order that there may be efficient training, it is desirable to allow him to take his ships where he can train his men in battle practice, I say that, while he and the Government appreciate the hospitality which the people of Australia desire to extend to them, it would be little short of a criminal act if I, as Minister, attempted to interfere with him.
– After the Fleet has been received in Sydney.
– I think that Senator Guthrie will see, on reflection, that that is an interjection which hardly fits in with the tone of the remarks I am now making. I do not know that any exception can be taken to the official welcome given to the Fleet in Sydney. There are many fine harbors in Australia, but no one will quarrel with the position occupied by Sydney.
– The honorable senator’s party appealed to the electors of Western Australia to throw me out on my little pink ear, because I would not order the Fleet to go to Fremantle.
– I do not mind making the admission that it is possible even for members of my party to make mistakes occasionally. In the case mentioned by the honorable senator, a mistake may have been made. But I should like it to be understood that in nothing that I said did I intend for a moment to yield the power which must necessarily vest in the Executive to order what shall be done with these ships. By nothing that this Government could do could they divest themselves of that power. They may refrain from exercising the power; but it is one which is inherent in the Government of the day. What I want to make clear is that, when the Admiral who is intrusted with the duty of training his men to a high state of efficiency puts forward proposals which will enable him to train and exercise his crews, I shall, in such a case, never think of turning down his suggestion. To do so would be to accept a very grave and serious responsibility indeed. I do not knowthat I need say more on that point, except that, as I have made reference to the Admiral, I should like to say that it is a great pleasure to me to believe, as the result of conversations with him, that “he has come here with the single desire to get to work - hard, solid work - and to make our Fleet, small though it may be, as perfect in efficiency as an equal number of vessels in the Royal Navy itself.
– Is the Minister going to shut up the Naval Bases works altogether ?
– No, we are not shutting them up altogether.
– It is remarkable that, in spite of the criticism of Senator Russell and Senator Pearce, the Minister of Defence has resumed his seat after ignoring the very salient points made by those two honorable senators. I venture to say that we have witnessed to-day in the Senate conduct on the part of a Minister that has not been in accordance with the usual custom. It is true that, on other occasions, the motion has been moved that the Budget-papers be printed; but it is also true that, during the discussion on that motion, honorable senators were at least supplied with information in answer to questions which they propounded. Many of the important questions to which Senator Russell and Senator Pearce referred to-day have not been touched upon by the Minister in the reply which he has vouchsafed. If he had furnished such information I should not have arisen to address myself to the motion. I venture to say that the policy of the present Government in regard to defence, if it is a policy at all, is one of centralization. We should like to know whether the Government are really sincere in the matter of Australian defence. It is useless to quibble or split straws. We have the
Budget statement before us. We have the administrative acts of Ministers to which we can refer. Only one of two conclusions can be drawn. Either this Government are against the true spirit of Australian defence, or they are simply playing with a great project. The question of the Naval Bases is very much to the point. We find that the works at one of the important Naval Bases, namely the Henderson Base, Cockburn Sound, Western Australia, have been practically stopped. I am not referring to this matter in a parochial sense. I am referring to it as closely affecting the question of Australian defence. The very gentlemen who occupy the Treasury bench in this chamber and elsewhere are those who, on every platform during the last election campaign, denounced the ex-Minister of Defence - Senate Pearce - and the Labour Government for not pushing ahead with the works more rapidly. They told the people that if a change of Ministry took place they would soon see that works would be proceeded with expeditiously. But, in Western Australia, the great Naval Base recommended by Admiral Henderson has practically been set on one side. It is significant that the members of the present Government were those who were the principal advocates for the continuance of Australia’s contribution of £200,000 a year to the Imperial Navy, in order to keep up a phantom fleet in our waters. They strongly opposed the very idea of Australia having, a fleet of its own.
– That is not correct.
– I will repeat the statement.
– Of course you will, because it is not correct.
– There are men in the present Ministry, and the Minister of Defence is one of them, who advocated the continuance of the subsidy to the Admiralty. Will the Minister deny that? The present Prime Minister was a sturdy advocate for continuing the payment of the subsidy. No one knows that better than Senator McColl, who, having been gazetted Vice-President of the Executive Council, is supposed to be a Minister of the Crown. The Prime Minister dubbed the attempt to establish a fleet as fathering upon Australia a tinpot fleet, a mosquito fleet, and so forth.
– The honorable senator’s is only a new-born zeal.
– That statement is not correct. My zeal for an Australian fleet is not new born. It has been exhibited ever since I have been in Australia. I am not Austraiian born, but I have always been an advocate for Australia Having its own fleet, built in Australia and manned by Australian seamen.’ If the Minister is not too lazy, he can look up my speeches since I have had the honour of being a member of the Senate, when he will see the attitude which I take up to-night is that which I have taken up from the beginning.
– I was referring to the honorable senator’s party, not to himself.
– If the Minister refers to my party’s new-born zeal for defence, I hurl the statement back in his teeth, and say that it is not correct. My party was the creator of the true Australian sentiment.
– Go back to 1903.
– I am quite prepared to go back to the beginnings of the Labour party in Australia, before we had Federation, and I can prove to my honorable friend that the Australian Labour party was the creator of the true Australian national sentiment. What concerns me now is whether the Government of the day is going to carry out the expressed wish and demand of the people of Australia, as far as concerns a national scheme of defence. I want the people to be apprised of the policy which the Government is carrying out. As the time for taking members’ private business is approaching, I ask leave to continue my speech on a subsequent occasion.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That leave be granted to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act’ so as to provide for the abolition of monetary deposits from parliamentary candidates, to make other provisions in lieu thereof, and for other purposes.
During the last Parliament I submitted a motion for the abolition of monetary deposits required from candidates for election to this Parliament which was carried in June, of 1910, without a division. Some honorable senators, at present occupying seats on the other side, including the present Leader of the Government in the’ Senate, signified their approval of the motion. It was passed on the voices. On a subsequent occasion, during last session, I submitted a- similar motion adding that the Electoral Act should be amended to that effect, but other business intervening I had not an opportunity to proceed with the motion. I have heard the proposal opposed from what are considered practical points of view. There are many who think that there would be a tendency on the part of would-be candidates for Parliament to rush into the field, and become nominated if there were no pecuniary penalty to prevent them from doing so. Some critics of the proposal argue that, while in principle it is democratic and sound, for practical purposes it is necessary to require a monetary deposit with the nomination of each candidate. I think that, however much they may differ in their application, all parties in Australia are agreed that Australian politics should be based on democratic principles, and that all citizens should be equal before the law, and should have equal opportunities of exercising their rights of citizenship. I say that the monetary deposit required of candidates for Parliament is a denial of that principle, and really results in imposing a property qualification upon candidates. It may be said that the money is only temporarily deposited, since ft candidate, who secures one-fifth of the votes polled by the successful candidate, has his deposit returned to him.
– Candidates often “ drop their sinker.”
– Sometimes candidates do, but I point out that, in the case of a perso.i in comparatively poor circumstances, though he may obtain a sufficient number of votes to secure the return of his deposit, he is deprived of its use when it would be most serviceable in the prosecution of his election campaign. The objection that the proposal might lead to a rush of candidates is entirely undemocratic and unfair. We have no right to try to make Parliament a close preserve for ourselves. We have no right to resent the intrusion of other people into the field we at present occupy. Others have just as much right to submit them selves to the electors as have those who already occupy seats in Parliament.
– I do not think that any one disputes their right.
– It is not disputed in words, but the effect of requiring the monetary deposit is to prevent people nominating for election who otherwise would probably do so. Is is not what people say, so much as what they do, that counts in this world. If we have a right to impose a penalty of £25 for nomination we have just as good a right to impose a penalty of £100. A deposit of £25 does not cripple the resources of very many, but if a deposit of £100 were required it would certainly prevent many persons from becoming candidates, who might do so under, existing conditions. I am reminded that, in requiring a monetary deposit, we restrict to some extent the choice of the electors. On one occasion, in my own State, I reached the political depths by forfeiting my deposit, but that is npt the reason why I denounce the system under which a monetary deposit is required. Twenty -two years ago, when I first became a candidate for a seat in the New South Wales Parliament, a deposit of £40 was required from each candidate. Owing to organization, that did not prevent me from becoming a candidate, and a successful one. One of the planks of the Labour platform of that day was the abolition of monetary deposits. Two successive Governments held office in New South Wales within a few months after - that election, and each introduced an entirely new Electoral Bill. Both parties proposed the abolition of the monetary deposit, in deference to the generally expressed wish of the electors throughout the State. A measure abolishing the deposit in New South Wales was passed eventually in 1894, and it is therefore now nineteen years since any deposit was required from candidates for the State Parliament. Still, there has not been, as a general rule, any great rush of candidates for any of the seats. On occasions, when a seat appears to be a pretty open proposition, and to offer a fair field to any comer; there may be five or six candidates, but figures might be given to prove that then* has been no greater number of candidates for the various seats in that State than there was prior to 1894, when a monetary deposit was required, or than there has been for seats in the Federal Parliament in connexion with which a monetary deposit is required from each candidate.
– Have not nominations in recent years been practically controlled by political organizations?
– That applies to Federal as well as to State politics. Whether it should be so or not is quite immaterial, but in State and Federal politics to-day in Australia, party organization has reached a height which it never reached before, and, no doubt, that has tended very largely to eliminate what might be described as the “unnecessary “ candidate. In Federal politics, the State which I have the honour to represent has been exceptional in the number of candidates who have come forward for the Senate. They have not been any very serious disturbing factor, but their influence in that direction is increasing. I suppose that the political organization in Australiawhich has the fewest direct adherents is the Socialist party.
– The Revolutionary Socialists.
– The majority of the members of the Labour party are Socialists, but I refer to the party whose political designation is the “ Australian Socialist party.” They have run candidates for the Senate since Federation was established. For the first Senate election they ran a full ticket of six, and for every subsequent election they have run a full ticket of three.
– There was a tremendous list of nominations for the Federal Convention.
– Yes. In New South Wales there were over sixty.
– And that resulted in 18 per cent. of informal votes.
– I am not dealing with that point. Honorable senators will remember that ten delegates were to be elected to the Convention, and it required only a few organizations to put forward a full ticket to account for a very large number of candidates. The number in New South Wales exceeded sixty, but that was due, not to the fact that no monetary deposit was required, but to the fact that rival political organizations each put forward a full ticket. That would not have been prevented if a monetary deposit had been required, because it would have amounted to a very small proportion of the total expense of running the candidates. Very few persons were at that time foolish enough to believe that they would have any chance of election single-handed, and the multiplicity of candidates for election to the Federal Convention was not due to individual ambition, but to the fact, as I have said, that a number of rival organizations each put forward a full ticket of ten candidates.
– An organization would run a serious monetary risk if it risked the loss of ten times £25.
– Whilst the loss of £25 would be a serious matter for an individual, the loss of ten times £25, or £250, would not be a serious matter for a large organization hoping to influence a whole State by the return of a full ticket of ten candidates.
– The honorable senator says £250 very readily, but it would be a serious sum to lose.
– It would not represent any considerable proportion of what the organization would require to spend to carry out an effective campaign. My point, however, was that the large number of candidates for election to the Federal Convention was not due to the fact that no monetary deposit was required, but to the fact that strong rival organizations each put forward a full ticket. I do not know what the law is in all the other States.
– The electoral law in most of the States requires a monetary deposit.
– In answer to those who argue that to abolish the deposit would probably lead to a rush of candidates, I am able to say that, although it has been abolished for nineteen years in New South Wales, a rush of nominations for election to the New South Wales Parliament has not been noticeable, and consequently the argument falls to the ground, so far as Australian politics are concerned, because it is not found to operate in that way. There are no more candidates for the average seat now - not half so many - than there were over twenty years ago, when the large deposit of £40 was required. The closer organization of to-day, the more distinct line of demarcation between rival candidates, has done infinitely more to eliminate what may be called the surplus candidate than the monetary deposit ever succeeded in doing. Let me put forward another feature. On every occasion, the organized political Socialist party, although numerically they are small, and, financially, very weak, have run candidates. They have put up the £75 required to nominate three candidates at every election which has taken place in New South Wales since the inception of Federation. I am not here pleading for them alone, hut simply using them in illustration of the fact that every political party had to have a beginning. Every party had to fight against overwhelming odds before it could secure the approval of a majority of the electors. No existing party has the right to assume that it possesses all the political knowledge which the world will ever attain, and that it, as a party, is the last word in politics. There should be just the same freedom for the electors to rally round any new party, and, if the aims, principles, and methods of that party meet with their approval, unrestricted political freedom to attain (o a majority, and assume, in time, the government of this country, working their way up as older parties have had to do. I maintain that those who now occupy public positions should be the last to use their power to restrict the choice of electors, or the growth of a new party. This motion, if carried, will allow of the introduction of a measure to make provision in lieu of the monetary deposit. There are a number of suggestions which have been made from time to time.
– Is there not an amending Electoral Bill on the stocks in another place ?
– I cannot have any official knowledge of what is before another place. But, so far as I have heard of the contents of a measure which, I believe, is before that Chamber, I do not think it touches this subject at all.
– It would admit of the insertion of an amendment.
– So far as you have heard of the Electoral Bill, can you tell us anything about the time of its probable arrival here ?
– Order ! That matter cannot properly be discussed on this motion.
– Then, sir, I will not attempt to enlighten the Minister, who is evidently seeking information in a strange quarter.
– Do you believe that the provision for a deposit by a person tendering to perform public services is undemocratic ?
– I do not think that there is any analogy between that proposition and this one.
– Is not a candidate tendering himself for public support?
– I decline altogether to bring politics down to such a level as that. The position is so entirely different from what I propose, that I would not care to discuss it on those lines.
– He is tendering himself as a candidate, is he not?
– If a deposit of £25 is necessary to prove a man’s bona fides, it is a most inefficient method of doing that. A person who, in our opinion, might be the most undesirable person in the world to be a member of this or any other Parliament, might be possessed of the most means to pay the deposit. For many years we have scorned to measure worth by a monetary standard. Therefore, we should not attempt in any way to judge the suitability or otherwise of a candidate according to his ability to’ find £25.
– The payment of the deposit simply proves that his candidature is not designed to be vexatious.
– Every man’s candidature is vexatious to the sitting member. I, for one, should always prefer a walkover. If we have a right to try to prevent vexatious opposition to us, who, no doubt-, are the cream of the intellect of the nation, we should make the penalty something substantial. If that is our object let us impose a penalty of £1,000, and then we should have very few opponents, though the difficulty would be to find our own deposits. I think it. was a departure from democratic principles to impose a penalty, for the deposit is nothing more nor less than that. It restricts the choice of the electors ; it imposes a property qualification in the sense that it makes it easier for a man with money to become a candidate than for one who does not possess money. It is also objectionable from the stand-point that it fails to fulfil the purpose for which it was intended. In other words, it does not prevent candidates who have no chance of winning from putting the country to the expense of an election. I know that at the election four years ago, when my colleagues and I were returned for New South Wales, there were ten candidates. Three of them forfeited their deposits, but the possibility of the loss did not prevent their candidature. Another candidate, who polled 50,000 votes, had only a few hundred votes over the number required to save his deposit; still the provision did not prevent his candidature. I know that he spent thousands of pounds in his effort to win. He probably spent more money than did the rest of the candidates, Liberal and Labour, put together. What was the sum of £25 to such a man ? It did not prevent him from running. In fact, it had not the slightest effect.
– Do you not think it would be far better to give a candidate £25 so that he could run ?
– It might be. I certainly think if I wanted to get to anything like ideal equality, that the sitting member ought to be deprived of his free pass, or every candidate ought to have one.
– That would mean a present of a £25 cheque to every voter.
– I do not attempt the impossible. I am simply trying to bring about what has already been accomplished in New South Wales, and has resulted in none of those evils that are supposed to attach to nominations without a monetary deposit.
– Do you claim that New South Wales has the best Parliament in Australia as the result of the Electoral Act requiring no deposit to be made by a candidate?
– That is so self-evident that I have no occasion to refer to it.
– Order 1 That matter is entirely irrelevant to this discussion.
– I am not responsible for it, sir.
– The honorable senator should not take any notice of disorderly interjections.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but I hope that in future there will be no such interjections. My reason for wishing to bring forward a measure now, when it has been rumoured that we may have a more comprehensive Electoral Bill to consider at some future time, is because I think it is wise to deal with this subject by itself, and settle it on its merits, not on the question as to whether the Government of the day are going to introduce something else or not. We do not know whether the larger measure will come here or not, nor do we know, if it should come here, whether it will sur-‘ vive the stormy troubles of the session. My proposal is so simple that no honorable senator will have any difficulty in applying himself to it and deciding it one way or the other.
– You have not said anything about the other provisions of the Bill.
– I shall deal with them when I move the second reading of the Bill.
.- I have pleasure in seconding the motion. I do not want to state very fully the reasons why I think it is necessary that it should be carried. During the speech of Senator Rae it occurred to me that I have had one or two experiences of the harshness of a provision for the payment of a deposit in contesting a seat whether for the Senate or for the State Parliament. It has always seemed to me most peculiar that a certain amount should be required from a candidate, to be paid either by himself or on his behalf, for the privilege of placing his services at the disposal of the electors. What logical reasons can be adduced for not making the amount of the deposit £24 or £26 rather than £25 ? I have a very vivid recollection of contesting two or three elections. On the first occasion I was requested by some friends and supporters to stand for the Dundas seat in the State Assembly. One of the questions which were uppermost iu my mind was how I could raise the amount of the deposit. I do not think that I have ever felt se humiliated in my life as I did when I learned that some of my best friends and supporters were canvassing the town to raise the sum. I was then practically winning my spurs as a young man. The election was a hurried one, and I did not know whether I would win the sea or lose my deposit. I was wondering how, in the event of losing the deposit - which fortunately did not happen, because I nearly won the seat - I could repay those who had been good enough to come to my support and guarantee the deposit. I think it is only right and just that all these obstacles should be removed from the path of any person who wishes to be a candidate for a public office, whether it be in the State or Federal sphere, and therefore I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion. Like Senator Rae, I do not think for a moment that with the abolition of the deposit there will be more candidates in the field. A person does not always consider the amount of the deposit that is at stake, because there is other expenditure which has to be incurred. I recollect one or two instances in connexion with Senate elections in Victoria. On the 31st May last, there was a seventh candidate in the field. Mr. Renwick, who stood as a Single-taxer, went to a good many of the principal cities and towns in the State, and expounded his cause in no uncertain manner, but, because he did not get a fifth of the votes polled by the lowest successful candidate, Senator Barnes, he was mulcted in the penalty of £25. I do not think that that is right, because Mr. Renwick was a fair and legitimate candidate. He was not in the field for any other purpose than to advocate the principle which was nearest and dearest to his heart. In my opinion, he was penalized unjustly. At the previous election, when I had the pleasure and the privilege of being returned to the Senate, the Reverend Mr. Ronald stood as an independent Labour candidate. His name was looming rather large in certain quarters, but he, owing possibly to lack of funds and for other reasons, could not conduct his candidature. He could not canvass the State in the manner that he would have liked, and because he was not the elect of either one party or the other, he was penalized to the extent of £25. In a democratic community like this, where we wish to place before the electors a multiplicity of ideas, I do not think it is right that any candidate for Parliament should be penalized, or that he should be called upon to incur the risk of losing a substantial sum of money. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion. I hopeit will be carried, and I trust that the Government will see fit to insert in the Electoral Bill a provision of the character suggested by Senator Rae.
– I feel somewhat perturbed by this motion, and, looking ahead, I can quite see what would happen if it were carried. If Senator Rae obtains leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Electoral Act so as to provide for the abolition of monetary deposits from parliamentary candidates, we may find our selves in the strange position of having two measures before the Senate at the same time, each having for its object an amendment of the existing electoral law. Before proceeding further, I would point out that the motion asks for leave to introduce a Bill in rather wide terms. In reply to what I have hinted, it may be urged that the object of Senator Rae is to introduce an amending Electoral Bill for a specific purpose which may be altogether outside the scope of any other Electoral Bill which may be brought forward. But I would point out that Senator Rae’s motion concludes with the words, “and for other purposes.” I venture to submit that if the motion be carried, the honorable senator may introduce a Bill to amend our electoral law, and may insert in it any provision whatever which may come within the scope of its title. He is practically asking for leave to introduce an amending electoral measure without any limitations whatever.
– That is not in accordance with the statement which the Honorary Minister made last night, to the effect that the inclusion of a thing which is specified necessarily means the exclusion of all others.
– The position in that case would be very peculiar. The Senate might pass an amending Electoral Bill introduced by the Government, and it might also pass an amending Electoral Bill introduced by Senator Rae. If it passed both Bills,, I wonder how we should reconcile our electoral law. I said that I was somewhat perturbed by this motion, and I am, for another reason. Senator Rae has stated that this Chamber has previously expressed approval of the main portion of his motion. I do not think it will produce any serious rift between Senator Millen and myself if I say that I am entirely opposed to it.
– The honorable senator was always a dreadful Conservative.
– No. I listened to the honorable senator with close attention. I admit that what he desires would probably not produce very much inconvenience, or give rise to any practical difficulties, if his Bill applied only to single electorates. But if it applied to a Senate election, it might create such a condition of affairs as would not make for the good conduct of an electoral campaign. Suppose that we had six Senate candidates representing the two great political parties at present in existence. If we opened the field to all individuals, as well as to all minor organizations, we might have a very large number of candidates offering themselves for election.
– Will a deposit of £25 stop them ?
– It will stop a very large number.
– Then a deposit of £100 would be a lot better.
– I do not think so. I recognise the force of what Senator Blakey said, but I hold that there are many occasions when we have to recognise arbitrary sums. We do so in connexion with offences under various Acts. A candidate who has a serious chance of election will not be deterred from coming forward by being required to make a deposit of £25.
– It may be an embarrassment to him.
– I would draw Seuator Rae’s special attention to a Senate election. In that case, his proposal would mean the multiplication of informal votes, and it would also add considerably to the expense of conducting an election. I fall back upon the statement that, as parties are divided in Australia to-day, a deposit of £25 in the case of parliamentary candidates is a wise precaution.
– To keep out the third party.
– Where is the third party? I am not afraid of it, nor is Senator Rae.
– There is no third party in Federal politics now, but has there not a right to be one?
– It is not more than six months since I found that a deposit of £25 did not stop a third party from coming along where I was concerned. I say that we ought to prevent a considerable number of these parties from nominating candidates at a Senate election. Looking at the thing purely from a practical point of view, I say that it might be desirable, from a democratic stand-point, to give effect to Senator Rae’s proposal, because we have no right to exclude candidates unless their candidature would produce serious inconvenience to the Commonwealth. If the application of the honorable senator’s Bill were limited to single electorates, I do not think it would do much harm, but if it were applied to the Senate elections, it would produce a good deal of confusion.
– The present provision in our electoral law was in existence at the time the first Senate election was held. That election was conducted under the existing State Acts, which required candidates to put up a deposit. In Queensland, there were nineteen candidates for the Senate.
– In Tasmania we had sixteen candidates for six seats.
– But in Tasmania we had a system which is not in vogue in the Commonwealth - a system which often induces candidates to come forward, even though they have to pay a deposit - that of proportional representation.
– The proportion of informal votes cast on that occasion was not high.
– I cannot recall what was the percentage of informal votes. . I think it is undoubted that if a large number of candidates contest seats for the Senate, we shall have very many informal votes. If Senator Rae is going to bring in this Bill, I urge him to give that particular phase of the question a little more consideration. While it may be desirable to abolish the deposit in the case of single electorates, it may be equally desirable to retain a deposit in the case of elections for the Senate.
.- In reply to the remarks of the Honorary Minister, I wish to say that the appearance in the motion of the words “ and for other purposes “ is due to the fact that when this matter was brought forward some three years ago, it was suggested to me privately that it might be desirable to alter the number of persons who are required to sign a candidate’s nomination paper. Whilst not committing myself to the amendment suggested, I did not wish to limit the opportunity of honorable senators to effect that alteration, and to endeavour to secure immunity from the evils foreshadowed. In reply to the argument of Senator Clemons, that while my proposal might be applicable to single electorates, it would bring about a grave position if applied to Senate elections, I would point out that it would probably be considered grossly impertinent if this Chamber presumed to abolish the deposit required in the case of candidates seeking election to the other branch of the Legislature only. One must, therefore, deal with the general principle.
– We have a different form of voting in the case of elections for the Senate.
– I know that. I am quite aware that complications may be brought about in the case of an election for the Senate by what I may be permitted to term the “ intrusion “ of a candidate whose candidature is intended to split the votes that would otherwise be cast for the representatives of the two rival political parties. That, however, is a question for the electors to determine. If they know what each party is likely to give them they will soon make up their minds how they will vote. If, on the other hand, their ideas are so varied and split up, let them vote accordingly, and take the consequences.
– If an election is caused, the country is put to a great deal of .expense.
– The expense to the country should not be a primary consideration. The first idea is to allow the electors to have absolute freedom of choice as to who is to represent them in the National Parliament. We ought not to lay down any restrictions, in order .to make our own seats more secure - because that is what it comes to when it is all boiled down. I am not alluding to any one party; but it is, perhaps, the unconscious thought in the minds of members of Parliament that “ the other fellow is the ‘ dickens ‘ of a nuisance, and we will put some obstacle in the way of his obtruding his unwelcome appearance on the poli teal stage.” That, perhaps, is the feeling at the back of this deposit businessIn South Australia, where they have no deposit, and in New South Wales, where it has been abolished for years, there is no trouble. In South Australia they have had electorates for which as many as five candidates had to be returned. Experience is all against the idea that great harm will result from a rush of candidates. In regard to Senate elections, the position is, that, in every State, no matter how small, it is an enormous expense for candidates to run. No individual, unless he is on a party ticket, can enter an election campaign for the Senate with hope of success. Any person wishing to stand as an independent candidate knows that he has no hope of covering himself with glory, but is more likely to cover himself with ridicule by intruding where he is not required. Consequently, a manwill not run for the Senate unless he knows that he has a party organization at his back.
– Does not the honorable senator know that some individuals who are nominated do not conduct a campaign, but go to the poll?
– The man who does that in Federal politics to-day is a negligible quantity. We need not consider. the individual who simply gets his name on the ballot-paper, and refrains from an active campaign. He certainly will not exercise any influence, or make any difference to the result. It may as well be recognised that people will not waste their citizens’ rights by voting for a man who is simply a political “ dead-head.”
– He may cause an election.
– It is a good thing for the country that there should be an election; and, when an election is held, the mere expense of printing another name on the ballot-paper is npt worth consideration. In regard to the” confusion that may result from the number of names of candidates appearing on the ballotpaper, I may be allowed to say that I think it would be an exceedingly good thing if the political party to which every candidate belonged was mentioned alongside his name, so that every elector would know for whom he was voting. It would be an excellent thing to state the parties of candidates. If a person chose to run as an independent candidate, that fact could be stated. He could be called “ independent Labour,” “ independent Liberal,” “ Socialist,” or anything else. That would be the best way of clearing away the confusion which sometimes exists in the minds of the ill-informed, and giving them an opportunity of knowing for whom they had opportunities pf voting. I do not think there are any other tangible objections to which it is necessary to reply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
. -I move -
It is not my intention to enter at length into the merits of the motion which I now submit, for the reason that last year I went very fully into the whole question. Moreover, I wish, as early as possible, to obtain the sense of the Senate upon it. It has been stated in certain quarters, in both branches of the Federal Parliament, that it is not necessary to obtain an amendment of the Constitution in order that a Government may exercise the power of proposing to Parliament pensions for widows. Without professing to put my judgment against that of legal members, I cannot see how any Government could make such a proposition without an alteration of the Constitution. If such an alteration were required, it would have to be achieved by amending paragraph 23 of section 51, which gives this Parliament power to make laws with respect to “invalid and old-age pensions.” It would, I think, be necessary to put in the word “widows”; or, if that weretoo vague, the paragraph might be amended by adding the words, “ and pensions to widows with young children dependent on them.” I will anticipate a question that may be asked, as to why, when the Labour party had a majority in Parliament last year, a proposal to this effect was not made to the electors. The opinion of the ex-Prime Minister was that it was necessary to have an amendment of the Constitution, and he was also of opinion that so many vital alterations to the Constitution were proposed, that quite a number of people, who really sympathized with this idea, might be. confused by having so many constitutional alterations placed before them at the same time. But I may add that Mr. Fisher in answer to a question at one election meeting - I think also at a number of others-definitely committed himself to take action in this direction if again returned to power. Of course, that meant that if the constitutional power to grant these pensions were not inherent in the Constitution, an alteration would be proposed at the next election. I wish to obtain an expression of opinion from the Senate as to whether the majority are favorable to this idea, and, if so, whether it can best be carried out by resolution, or in any other way. I believe that the large majority of people of both parties in Australia are believers in the pension system. Australia as a nation is committed to that system. I fully believe that when the electors thoroughly consider the question which I now propound, they will agree with the view which I have always held, that no pension system can be complete which does not provide for this particular class of the Australian people. So strong is my belief that the majority of the electors, if the question were submitted to them, would vote to give the necessary power to the Government, that I shall not enter into the merits to-night. I am convinced that immediately the question is submitted the vast majority of the electors throughout Australia, no matter what their views may be on any other proposals to alter the Constitution, will vote in favour of an amendment in this direction. If we believe in the principle, the first important question we have to face is what would be the cost. Seeing that the Commonwealth spent last year a sum of £2,289,000 on invalid and old-age pensions, it seems to me that it would be paltry to say that we cannot afford the additional sum of about £160,000 a year, which, I believe, is all that would be required to carry this scheme into effect.
– What is the basis of the estimate ?
– The only means we have of estimating the probable cost is by turning to the Dominion of New Zealand, which is, I believe, the only country in the British Empire that has legislation of this kind on the statutebook. A measure such as I contemplate was passed in the New Zealand Parliament the year before last,and took effect on the 1st January of last year. I placed myself in communication with the Commissioner of Pensions in New Zealand, and obtained the official figures of the result of the operation of the Act for the first five months of last year. On those figures it wasestimated that the cost of these pensions for the year would, be £36’,000. That amount would permit of the payment of a pension of £12 to each widow with a. child under fourteen years of age; £18 to a widow with two children under that age; £24 to a widow with three children under thatage; and £30, the maximum pension allowed, to a widow with more than three children under the age of fourteen years. The population of New Zealand, at the [time, was estimated at 1,031,500, and the estimated expenditure on these pensions worked out at a cost of 8£d. per head of the population. Basing our estimate upon these figures, Australia, with a population of about 4,500,000, would require an expenditure of £162,000 a year to provide benefits under a similar system. I think it is quite fair to assume that the average number of widows, with children dependent upon them, would be the same in Australia as in New Zealand, where the conditions of life are much the same as they are here. Knowing that the system has continued in operation in New Zealand up to the present time, I tried* to obtain figures of a later date than those I have quoted. The New Zealand Act was introduced some time after their old-age pensions system was in operation, and the payment of pensions to widows has since been merged in the Dominion into the general pensions system. It is therefore somewhat difficult from their official records, to which I have had access, to find out whether the cost per head of the population of these pensions to widows has remained the same as it was during the first six months in which they were paid. I take it that it would not have altered very much, if at all, and on the New Zealand figures I have said that the cost of these pensions, if paid in the Commonwealth, would be £162,000 a year. Even if the amount were considerably in excess of that sum, and we required £250,000 for the purpose, I do not think that any member of this Parliament would contend that that would be too much to pay to complete our pensions system. The cost of our pensions system last year was £2,289,000, and I believe that’ we shall not be doing our duty so long as we leave that system in its present incomplete state. I have been reminded that, in some of the States, provision can be, and is, made for necessitous and distressing cases of the kind I wish to see provided for. I suggest to honorable sena- tors that, if the general public must find the money in some way or another to relieve these cases, it would obviously be better to federalize the different systems now in operation in the various States, as the extra cost of administration would be comparatively insignificant. Speaking of the operation of the New Zealand Widows’ Pensions Act for thefirst six months the New Zealand Commissioner of Pensions said, in his report -
During the year the responsibilities: of the old-age pensions staff were considerably increased by the passing of the Widows’ Pensions Act, which received the Governors assent on 28th October, ian, and came into operation on the 1 st January following. This Act provided for its administration being conducted by the officers controlling old-age pensions, and as the system in operation under the Old-age Pensions Act- was readily adaptable to the new measure, the inauguration of the scheme was carried out without any hitch.
– Can the honorable senator say whether the pension is provided in New Zealand for all widows, irrespective of their financial position?
– No; it is paid on the same principle as old-age pensions are paid here?
– Only to those in need ?
– Exactly. Although that is important, it is a matter of detail which would have to be decided when a Bill, to give effect to my motion, was introduced. The various sys-terns now operating in the different States for . the relief of widows in necessitous circumstances cost a great deal of money, and involve a great deal of trouble, and the advantage of federalizing those systems would clearly be very great. We have an Old-age Pensions Commissioner, and a Staff organized to administer the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. With very little extra assistance they could administer the pensions which I propose should be paid. I need not add anything to what I have said at this stage, which is only the first of many stages which must be taken before the idea which I have advocated for a very long time can be brought to fruition.
.- I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion. I give it my hearty indorsement. As the honorable senator who introduced it has said, it commends itself to an immense majority of the electors of Australia. I had the pleasure, in a conference, of moving a motion which committed a large body of delegates of certain political organizations to the indorsement of the principle embodied in Senator O’Keefe’s motion. The honorable senator said that details of the proposal will have to be considered, and can be dealt with in a Bill to give effect to his proposal. I see no difficulty whatever in financing the matter. The honorable senator has admitted that he proposes that provision should be made only for widows in necessitous circumstances and their children, just as old-age and invalid pensions are paid in the Commonwealth to persons in necessitous circumstances, or in such a position as would preclude them from being considered affluent. I find some difficulty in believing that it is necessary to amend the Constitution to enable us to pay such pensions, when, apparently, it was not found necessary to make any amendment of the Constitution in order to enable the maternity bonus to be paid. I wish to emphasize what I said on a former occasion in this Chamber - that the proper way in which to finance a scheme for the payment of pensions to widows with children dependent upon them is to divert to this purpose some of the money now paid by way of maternity bonus. The maternity bonus is at the present time paid to many mothers who are the wives of men well able to provide for them. No reasonable being will advance the proposition that 90 per cent. of the mothers of Australia having husbands to look after them in their time of trial are in such a position as to require the maternity bonus. There is here an easy method available to us by which to provide the money necessary to finance the widows pensions scheme proposed by Senator O’Keefe, and without imposing an additional penny of taxation upon the taxpayers. We could divert 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. of the money now paid to women to whom it should not be paid to the payment of pensions to widows in a necessitous condition, to enable them to bring up the children dependent upon them as worthy citizens of the Commonwealth. Senator O’Keefe is on sound ground when he says that if a referendum were taken on this proposal it would be carried byan immense majority of the electors. Iam satisfied that such a proposal would be more palatable to thepeople, and could be much more logically defended, than the indiscriminate payment of £5 to every mother in Australia for each birth. I shall not delay the passing of a motion on which there seems to be a unanimity of favorable opinion, and shall conclude by saying that the scheme proposed by the honorable senator has my hearty indorsement, and will receive my support at every stage through which it may have to pass in this Legislature.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It again falls to my lot to move a motion, this time not for the introduction of a Bill, but for what I hope will be the indorsement of the principle. I beg to move -
That in the opinion of the Senate the rights of self-government of many Australian citizens are gravely infringed by their complete disfranchisement while resident in Commonwealth Territories, and therefore the Constitution should be amended to provide -
That the House of Representatives be asked to concur in the foregoing resolutions.
The Constitution, as originally passed, provides that Territories in the possession of, , or acquired by, the Commonwealth may be granted representation in either House of the Parliament on such terms and conditions as Parliament deems fit to prescribe. But no power is given in the Constitution to provide for the inhabitants of the Territories voting on referendum proposals. As it is now constituted, the Commonwealth comprises six States, and a proposed amendment of the Constitution before it can be carried requires the indorsement of, not only a majority of the electors voting throughout the Commonwealth, but also a majority in a majority of the States. It may be argued that that position would be interfered with if the few inhabitants of our Territories were allowed the right to vote on referendum proposals, but I maintain that the- rights of self-government which pertain to citizenship in Australia are, as my motion states, gravely infringed by the present position of a number of settlers. In the Northern Territory, unhappily, as yet, there are only a few residents. In Papua, the number of white residents is very small. In the Federal Capital Territory, however, there are some thousands of residents already, and at no distant date, with the expenditure which is being incurred there year by year in providing for the establishment “of the Capital, there will be an everincreasing population. I see no reason why a democratically constituted Parliament should wait until the mere force of numbers compels it to consider a grievance. If, when the Federal Capital Territory has attained a population of 40,000 or 50,000, the pressure of the public opinion of the inhabitants and their sympathizers will be so great as to force Parliament to take action, that is not a proper position to be brought about. We should take up the attitude that if it is right for 40,000 or 50,000 people to have the franchise conceded to them, the right equally exists in the case of the comparatively small number now resident in the Territories. It is true, as I say, that Territories which may hereafter become States, like Papua and the Northern Territory, may now be granted representation in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament. It does not seem clear, according to the interpretation that lawyers put on the Constitution, that there would be power to grant representation to the Federal Capital Territory. Section 122 seems to include all territory owned by the Commonwealth. It reads -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any Territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such Territory in either ‘House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
The question has been raised as to whether that section includes the right of giving parliamentary representation to the inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory. Whether that is so or not is a point for lawyers to deal .with.
– That is any Territory conceded to, or acquired by, the Commonwealth.
– It certainly seems to me that the power to grant parliamentary representation to other Territories includes that right. Whether there is any other obstacle which prevents that from being done, I am not prepared to say, not being a lawyer or a High Court Judge.
– Even they would contradict each other.
– Probably. Clearly enough, the Constitution makes no provision for the inhabitants of those Territories to have the right of voting at a referendum, and of their votes being counted in connexion with a proposed alteration of the Constitution. My motion provides in paragraph a for an amendment of the Constitution so -
That Parliament may pass legislation granting qualified citizens of such Territories (including the Federal Capital Territory) the right to vote on all proposed laws submitted to a referendum of Commonwealth electors.
That is a very necessary and very much cherished right which the citizens of the various States possess. It seems an indefensible anomaly that a fully qualified citizen, resident in a State, possessing rights of Australian citizenship, shall, the moment he goes into the Federal Capital Territory, be disfranchised, and so lose those rights. I quite admit that it was an unavoidable position at the very outset, but there is no reason why it should be allowed to drift on interminably. There must come a time when some representation will have to be given to the few inhabitants of that Territory. There is no reason that can be adduced in favour of giving parliamentary representation in the future which does not apply to giving it to the present inhabitants. If it be said that it is time enough to do that when it is asked for, I may point out that the inhabitants of the Territory, which, till recently, was an integral part of New South Wales, have considered it a very serious grievance that at every Federal election, and at every referendum, they are absolutely denied any voice in the determination of such problems. That is a very serious injustice to inflict upon those who, in all their political lives, have been accustomed to exercise the franchise.
– Since when have they been disfranchised ?
– Ever since the proclamation of the Capital area as a Federal Territory, the residents have been demanding that some system or scheme should be adopted whereby the rights of citizenship could be restored to them. This is not a demand on the part of some previously alien or disfranchised electors for a right which they never possessed, but it is a demand that a right that the inhabitants have always possessed, and would possess in any other square foot of the Commonwealth, should not be denied them, because they happen to be located in the Capital area. I believe that in the Territory in which the “United States capital is situated, and which is known as the District of Columbia, the citizens are disfranchised, and the district is run by a Commissioner, under the direct control of the Congress. No such provision was deliberately made in our Constitution, and I do not think that, in their present temper, the Australian people would tolerate such a deliberate discrimination against their enjoyment of citizenship rights. It is, I maintain, the duty of this Parliament to watch over and conserve the rights and privileges of every member of the community throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. It is a dereliction of duty on our part to allow obstacles to deter us from discharging that obligation. Obstacles only exist for the purpose of human ingenuity designing means to overcome them. While I admit that there may be a little difficulty in finding out the best Way in which to apportion the votes of citizens cast on any proposed amendment of the Constitution, yet I think it is not beyond the ability of this Parliament, ‘or at any rate of this branch of it, to devise the means of fairly and effectively overcoming the difficulty. As the position exists now, if all the electors of New South Wales and Victoria voted unanimously for a proposed amendment of the Constitution, and if a majority in the other four States, or if even a majority of one in each of the other four States, opposed the amendment, it would be sufficient to prevent it from being carried, and in counting the votes of the residents of the Federal Capital Territory it would be difficult to know where to place them when they, as it were, upset the position which is created by section 122 of the Constitution.
– If you are going to put them with any State, put them with New South Wales.
– A very reasonable device would be to include their votes in the total, even if they were not included in the votes of a particular State. There are two majorities re- quired to cany a proposed amendment of the Constitution. One is a majority of the whole electors of the Commonwealth voting, and the other is a majority in each of four States. Even if you could not reasonably or consistently include the votes of these persons in the votes of any particular State, in order to ascertain or determine the number of States which should be said to have carried the proposal, it would, I contend, be perfectly fair and logical, and would to some extent enfranchise the inhabitants, to include them in the total number of votes.
– Originally they must have voted with New South Wales in regard to the adoption of the Constitution Bill.
– That is not necessarily so in regard to all of them. As regards those who are land-holders in the district, doubtless that is so, but in the case of those who may have been attracted to the place since it has become Federal Territory, and an amount of Australian money has been expended there, they may have come from any quarter in the Commonwealth. It is as clear as noonday, though, that they were voters and residents almost to a man in one or other of the States. These are not foreign people attracted from some other part of the world, but Australians who had their voting rights in the respective States from which they came. I contend that, we should use every effort now to devise means for overcoming any obstacles to their present enfranchisement. It would not materially cause expenditure, and, even if it did, I would not consider that a valid argument. On the other hand, it would not be a disturbing factor in the- sense of introducing some alien interest to upset the deliberate opinion of the Australian people on any question submitted to them. If one citizen came from Victoria, another citizen from New South Wales, and another citizen from another State, and settled in the
Territory, their votes would probably not be cast differently from the direction in which they would have been cast had they remained in their respective States. Consequently, I can see no argument on the lines of upsetting the decision of the people as provided for in the present method of counting the votes. I can see no argument at all on those lines which would justify the keeping of these persons without the franchise. The argument that was used, I believe, in the case of the capital of the United States was that a capital containing a very large population should not be allowed to determine national issues when it was placed in a specially privileged position, so to speak. I could never see very much force in that argument. Itwould be just as logical to disfranchise the residents of Paris or London on the ground that if they acted together they could exercise an overwhelming influence on the destinies of their respective countries. We have no right to imagine that it will produce some evil In the days to come if the population be a large one, and we have no right to neglect this obvious duty merely because the number now is comparatively small. Every resident in the Capital area is very much aggrieved by being absolutely disfranchised. When the Commonwealth took over the Federal Territory the residents within that area ceased to be citizens of the State of New South Wales, and as there is no provision in our Federal law to meet their case, they were also disfranchised as Federal electors. This is a grave disability to deliberately inflict upon any body of Australian citizens. Politically speaking, they are absolutely outcasts - as much so as if they were foreigners, ignorant of our Australian conditions and English tongue. I maintain thatnow is the time to grapple with this subject. Up to a very brief period ago the district embracing the Federal Capital area was included in one of the New South Wales electorates, and therefore was represented in the Parliament of that State. Before it was taken over by the Commonwealth these persons were also Federal electors. Now they have simultaneously lost their rights as State and Federal electors. Everybody would scout the idea of taking away the right of citizenship from any Australian elec tor, but it is just as much a dereliction of” duty to keep these people out of their rights as it would be to take those rights away from them. At no future time will it be more practicable to restore those rights than it is at present. An alteration of the law to enable the Parliament to enfranchise them would not prevent this Parliament in the future from modifying or altering that law. Consequently, the proposed alteration makes only for greater freedom, and will not commit this Parliament to a course which must be followed for all time. The latter part of the motion, which relates to representation, has been included only for the purpose of covering what I have heard stated as Constitutional objections, which might stand in the way of Parliamentary representation being granted to the Capital area. In regard to the Northern Territory and Papua, we are clearly entitled’ to concede those territories such representation as we may deem fit. We need not wait until they have become fullyfledged States.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the Federal Territory and the Northern Territory are on: precisely the same footing.
SenatorRAE. - If that be so, subsection c of my proposal is rendered unnecessary; but the other sections remain untouched. If it be deemed wise to give the inhabitants of those Territories the right to vote on referenda proposals, it is necessary that the Constitution should be altered to confer that right.
– I do not think so.
SenatorRAE. - The electoral law would hot cover it, because, while that law may vary the way in which a referendum is to be conducted, it cannot deal with that part of theConstitution which relates to how votes shall be counted and results determined. It is in order to cover that ground that I think it is necessary to amend the Constitution in the direction suggested. I am not oblivious to the fact that it is not reasonable to submit a very large number of constitutional amendments to the electors at the one time. Such a course is apt to confuse them. In this motion I have not done more than affirm a principle. I have not stipulated that its terms should: be given effect to immediately, becauseI recognise that everythingmust take its turn according to its importance. If Parliament deems it wise to submit to the electors other proposals of an emergent character it may be as well to defer this reform. But it is the obvious duty of every honorable senator who believes that a citizen is entitled to exercise his vote in any part of Australia - if means can be devised to enable him to exercise it - to affirm this motion. I submit it in the belief that the democratic ideas of honorable senators will induce them to indorse it.
Debate (on the motion of Senator Clemons) adjourned.
– On the suggestion of some honorable senators, and to. meet the convenience of the Senate generally, I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, the 29th instant.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by SenatorClemons) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to draw attention to a paragraph which appeared in the South Australian Advertiser of 20th October in reference to certain Select Committees which have been duly constituted by this Senate. After referring to the Chinn Committee, the paragraph goes on to say -
There is a much happier Senate Select Committee, of which no one outside Sydney hears anything, and which is inquiring into the suspension of work at the Cockatoo Island Dock. This is the dock which the last Government bought from the New South Wales Government for£850,000 for Naval works, and when they got it were afraid to fire the boilers for fear the men would be blown up. What the senators are doing at CockatooIsland no one knows; but they are drawing 25s. a day expenses while they are in Sydney - and some of them live in Sydney. Seeing that there is no work inside the Senate, senators are making work outside, and are getting overtime.
I am given to understand that the person who wrote that paragraph is a pressman who attends in the gallery of this Parlia ment - aman who knew that he was writing a deliberate lie, and a false and libellous statement. He knows full well that members of Select Committees- receive no fee whatever, and as I am the only member of the Committee referred to who resides in Sydney, I wish to say that I have had no fee from that Committee, nor do I intend to apply for any, nor to take any if it be offered to me. I think that some action should be taken to deal with this lying, contemptible pressman, who sends this sort of stuff to South Australia in order that he may throw mud at the Labour party. We have had enough of this kind of treatment. I am aware that there is a certain course which we might take under our Standing Orders. However, I do not propose to take that course. I merely wish to say that the writer is a liar and a contemptible cad, and that outside of this chamber I am prepared to tellhim so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131023_senate_5_71/>.