5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– Seeing that the Prime Minister has made two statements this week - one in Sydney and the other in or . about Melbourne- to the effect that if the Fisher Government had been returned to power they would have increased the taxation on the people, will the Leader of the Senate ascertain from the Prime Minister in what specific direction that taxation would have been increased ?
– I can hardly think that the honorable senator has submitted the question in any more serious way than I am attempting not to reply to it.
– If the Minister thinks that I was not serious, I wish to tell him that I was. Seeing that the Prime Minister has made the statement twice, I think it is only right that the public should know in what direction the Fisher Government would have increased the taxation on the people. I ask the honorable senator again if he will ascertain that from the Prime Minister ?
– I suggest to the honorable senator that it is a question which should be directed to Mr. Fisher.
– I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister if he would ascertain from the Prime Minister in what direction the Fisher Government would have increased taxation had they been returned to power?
– I have not the slightest objection, if it will help my honorable friend out of the difficulty which apparently is troubling him very much, to forward his question on to my friend and chief the Prime Minister.
– Thank you.
Cost of Living
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether the Government have considered, or. are considering, any measures calculated to lessen the cost of living to the people of Australia, or any measures to reduce the taxation on them?
– The Government are always givingserious consideration to the prospect of making living in Australia cheaper. We’ have submitted a programme of measures which, we believe, will tend in that direction.
– Does the pro- gramme which has been submitted to the S enate comprise all that the Government intend to do?
– The amount of business we shall be able to accomplish will obviously depend very much on the attitude of the Opposition.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether the introduction of the new postage stamp, which it is said will entail an expense of about £5,000, is one of the measures on the Government programme calculated to reduce the cost of living in Australia?
– That is a question to which I am not prepared to give an answer.
– A few days ago
I asked the Minister of Defence whether, before we came to deal with the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, or at an early stage of its consideration, he would furnish the Senate with the details of the proposed expenditure on Naval Bases, at present set out in a lump sum. The honorablesenator promised that he would. May I ask if he will take an opportunity this afternoon to keep his promise ?
– I have brought the details with me, and propose to give them to the Senate when the Bill is reached.
– Yesterday the Minister of Defence promised to lay on the table a copy of the letter containing the instructions to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice. I am informed by the Clerk that it has not yet been done; and as this question will come up for discussion on the Works and Buildings Estimates, I ask the honorable senator to let me have a copy of the paper this afternoon.
– I omitted to place the paper on the table yesterday, but I shall have it here presently.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs arrange to have the agreement between the Commonwealth and Mr. Griffin, a copy of which has been laid upon the table of the Library, laid on the table of the Senate, so that it may be printed and circulated ?
– I shall communi- cate with the Minister, and if there is no objection, lay the paper on the table of the Senate.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been called to paragraphs appearing in the press generally that it is intended to retire Sir William Creswell, the First Member of the Naval Board, at an early date, and to appoint him as superintendent of mercantile marine under the Navigation Act? I desire to know if there is any truth in the statements in the press?
– I would ask the honorable senator to rest satisfied with the answer I am about to give. As honorable senators know, there is a matter connected with the Naval Board now under consideration, and I do not think it is desirable at this juncture to refer particularly to one member of the Board or the other. I only want to say that a great deal which has appeared in the press lately has been utterly without foundation or warrant. It is a compliment merely to the imaginative powers of the press writers.
– Will the Minister enlighten the Senate, not as to whether Rear-Admiral Creswell is to be translated to some other position, but whether there is any foundation for the statement that it is intended to get two Imperial naval officers and appoint them to the Naval Board, and thereby virtually hand the Navy over to Imperial management in a sense? Will he say whether anything of the nature suggested is in contemplation ?
– I would again ask the Senate, and Senator Rae particularly, to recognise that it is not possible to answer a question of this kind without giving a very good idea of what is under review at present. I do submit that it places in a rather false position those gentlemen whose names are mentioned in this direction.
– It is a pity that any names have been mentioned in the press.
– I mentioned no names.
– I ask the honorable senator to believe that there is - a difficulty there, but I hope that in a very short time it will be possible to make a statement to the Senate and the country. Until then I ask honorable senators not to press for a more definite answer than I have been in a position to give.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs tell the Senate at a later period the number of State Governments who evidently have intimated to the Government that they propose to take rooms in the building being erected for the High Commissioner in London, and the names of the State Governments who have evidently intimated that they do not intend to take up quarters there?
– I shall get the information as soon as I can, and let the honorable senator have it either at a later hour or to-morrow.
– On the Works and Buildings Estimates.
– As soon as I can get the information.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether it is in contemplation by the Government to have a conference of State Premiers with regard to the introduction of a measure to federalize the State debts, and if so, what stage the negotiations have reached ?
– As far as I am aware, no definite steps have yet been taken. It has already been intimated in the Senate, as well as elsewhere, that that is the proposal of the Government; but, as far as I know, no actual steps such as have been suggested are contemplated.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs without notice, whether it is the intention of the Government to abolish the Commission appointed to report on railways and other facilities in the Northern Territory ; and, if so, why ?
– I am sorry that I cannot answer the question off-hand, but I shall be happy to give the information required to-morrow.
Discharge of Men
– I wish to inquire whether the Minister of Defence is aware that a number of men have been discharged from the Fitzroy Dock, and that the reason given is that the drawings for works have not yet arrived from Melbourne. Will he have the drawings sent en at the earliest possible moment?
– Another, honorable senator asked a question on this subject yesterday. I then made the statement, and repeat it now, that nothing of the kind has happened because of the failure of the head office here to supply plans and drawings for work at the Fitzroy Dock. For the rest, a statement has been forwarded to the acting manager with a request that he will supply a report as to the allegations contained in the press paragraphs dealing with the subject.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The information is not yet available, but I am taking steps to obtain it for the honorable member.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will he consult the experts of the electrical staff to see if any device can be installed in the Telephone Department so that when any call is being made to obtain assistance, medical or otherwise, in the event of accident or illness, such call will be at once indicated and given preference over all other calls?
– The answer is -
The Postmaster-General is advised that no de vice has yet been invented which will enable emergent calls to be indicated in such a manner as to insure preference. On common battery exchanges “ flashing “ the lamp usually insures more prompt attention. This facility, however, is so often abused by the public that its value is rapidly being discounted.
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I wish to know whether it is understood that there is no possible chance of arranging a device whereby a call affecting the saving of human life may be attended to at once?
– I shall be glad to bring the matter again before the PostmasterGeneral, and to ask him to make further inquiries.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the supposed scarcity of postal mechanics, the Government will take into immediate consideration the advisability of establishing Departmental Technical Schools,at which telegraph messengers and other employés may qualify for the mechanical branches of the Post and Telegraph and other Departments?
– The answer is -
Facilities have been provided by the Department for instruction in telegraphy, telephony, and mechanical work, and for general instruction leading up to specialized branches, by the institution of departmental classes of instruction in telegraph and telephone operating ; by arranging for special courses of instruction in technical subjects at technical colleges and training institutions; by arranging for departmental officers to act as instructors at such technical institutions; by agreeing to pay the fees of officers who successfully pass an approved course of technical instruction, and by the formation of a departmental class of technical instruction.
In addition to this the Postmaster-General, after consultation with the Public Service Commissioner, recently took action for the preparation of a scheme for the extension of these facilities for the technical training of youths in the Department.
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I should like to ask him whether he will be good enough to inform the Senate when that decision was arrived at in respect to what has been done in the Department for mechanics and others engaged in the service?
– I will endeavour to ascertain.
– Will the Minister also inform us whether it is the intention of the Department to act upon the advice contained in a report of the Postal Commission dealing with matters of this kind?
– I will make inquiries, and endeavour to obtain the information.:
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Regulation - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 261.
Motion (by Senator McDougall) agreed to-
That the Select Committee on the partial closing down of the Fitzroy Dock have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to Thursday, 20th November.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to-
That the Select Committee on the General Elections 1913 have leave to extend the time for bringing up the report to Thursday, 27th November.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to -
That Senator the Hon. J. H. Keating be discharged from attendance as a member of the Select Committee on General Elections 1913, and that Senator Ready be appointed in his stead.
Motion (by Senator Bakhap) agreed
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Keating on the ground of ill health.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Whilst I recognise, in common with other members of the Senate, that this is a Bill especially open to consideration in Committee, I may be permitted to make a few general observations upon its scope, and to touch briefly upon many questions which will, no doubt, be more closely considered in Committee. This is a Bill which proposes the appropriation of £3,268,569 for additions, new works, and buildings. In connexion with matters of a similar kind, here and elsewhere, we have heard a good deal lately about extravagance.
– Hear, hear! From the honorable senator’s side.
– I wish to say for myself that it is not sufficient for this or any other Government to make accusations of extravagance against their predecessors. I go further, and say that it is not sufficient for the present or any other Government to sheet home such accusations when made. The responsibility still remains, in my opinion, with this or any other Government to justify their own actions and their proposals for the expenditure of public moneys.
– When accusations of extravagance on the part of the previous Government have been made, those who make them should show where the extravagance exists.
– I meet that by saying, in the first place, that no such accusations have been made by me.
– The honorable senator repudiates them.
– No; I repudiate nothing, but I repeat that, in my view, it is not sufficient for any one standing where I stand to-day even to sheet home accusations of extravagance against a previous Government. I recognise very strongly indeed that the responsibility rests with the Government now in power to justify their own Estimates, and their proposals for new works.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator’s colleagues have not followed his good example.
– I think that it is well that all should recognise the force of what I have said, no matter where or at what time references are made to this subject. . Let me say that looking at the amount of money set down to be appropriated for works under this Bill, I feel a sense of responsibility which I certainly never felt when I was in Opposition.
– Hear, hear !
– I admit also that I did not when in Opposition realize that the Minister in charge of a similar Bill felt such a sense of responsibility. Every penny of the money proposed to be appropriated by this Bill has to come out of revenue. I do not expect it will be denied that the time is rapidly aproaching when any one who considers the financial position of the Commonwealth will admit that we shall have reached the high-water mark of expenditure on additions, new works, and buildings. If that statement seems somewhat strong, I can give honorable senators the reasons which induce me to make it.
For the present I offer them a comparison which I have made, and which I think will be found of interest. I am going to compare the amounts appropriated by Bills similar to that now before the Senate during the last three years, and in previous years. Let me say that I do not make the comparison with the amounts appropriated during the last three years, because the predecessors of the present Government were in office during that period. There is a reason for doing so, quite apart from the occupancy of the Ministerial benches by any party. Honorable senators are aware that, as we might say, the Federal Parliament three years ago came into possession of its own, or, at all events, into possession of a very much larger revenue than it ever previously had at command. It is perfectly true that the increased revenue enabled us to spend much more upon additions, new works, and buildings than had been expended during the years prior to 1910. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the figures I intend to quote. Omitting the odd hundreds the amount set down in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill of 1910-11 was £2,324,000; in 1911-12, £2,791,000; and in 1912-13, £2,789,000. The amount proposed to be appropriated by the Bill now before the Senate for 1913-14 is £3,266,000. I go back still further, and make a comparison covering altogether about nine years. In 1904-5 the amount set down in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill was £404,000; in 1905-6, £416,000; in 1906-7, £479,000; in 1907-8, £686,000; in 1908-9, £720,000; and in 1909-10, £1,054,000.
– If we want an Army and Navy we must pay for them, and they account for the bulk of the expenditure.
– If we want new works we must pay for them.
- Senator Barker will see that his remark is scarcely called for, in view of the fact that I am deliberately proposing the second reading of a Bill to appropriate the largest amount we have ever attempted to appropriate by any of these Bills. But I do suggest that this is a subject for serious consideration.
– I have no doubt that it was at the last elections.
– I am not electioneering now, and I do not like electioneering. I would much rather speak here in the Senate. But I recognise that I am addressing honorable senators, who have themselves to shoulder a certain responsibility, and under whose consideration these matters ought to come. I am endeavouring to point out what a serious pitch we have reached in regard to our expenditure. I admit that it is desirable that this money should be spent out of revenue. But if similar sums are to be spent out of revenue in the future, we shall at once be confronted with a very difficult problem. Senator Gardiner has already made reference to this subject, and I was anxious to reply to him, but the opportunity to do so was not afforded me. He referred to a subject which is akin to this, namely, the cost of living, which touches closely upon the question of taxation. It is a dangerous thing for anybody dealing with finance to attempt to prophesy, but I venture to say that we have no reason to hope that the amount of revenue which we have been receiving during the past two years from our existing sources of taxation will be maintained.
– Why not?
– I will give the honorable senator one reason. I could, if I had time, give him many reasons.
– That is the danger of prophesying.
– Yet I do not shrink from it. I am armed with one or two reasons, at any rate. In the first place, I would refer Senator Barker to our main source of revenue, that of Customs taxation. During the last year or two we have derived a large revenue from Customs simply because the States themselves have been large borrowers in London. Quite apart from any Tariff consideration, to that one cause is largely due the inflation of our revenue.
– Then the Honorary Minister would call ours an inflated prosperity produced by borrowing?
– The States have borrowed, and we have benefited by their borrowing. Their borrowing has had a lot to do with our. enormous Customs revenue. What have we to contemplate in the future? Personally, I do not think there will be any borrowing in London on the part of the States to compare with that which has been going on during the last few years. None of us has any reason to believe that the existing state of things will be continued, and consequently our revenue from Customs must diminish. I have offered these few general observations because I think they are well worth considering. So far as the Government are concerned, they fully realize the very large amount which they seek to appropriate under this Bill. They have found it practically impossible to cut down the expenditure upon public works to any appreciable extent. I say - and I do not expect any exception will be taken to my remark - that to a good deal of that expenditure we found ourselves committed.
– That must always be the case.
– Exactly. A Government whose members have been in office only four months have to recognise that they are bound very largely indeed by commitments which are forced upon them.
– If they were not necessary, surely the present Government would nob honour them ?
– I am attempting to avoid any kind of criticism concerning the Estimates of the late Government. It is enough for me to say that we have been largely committed to the expenditure contained in this Bill’ by events which happened prior to our advent to office.
– Justifiable expenditure.
– Justifiable, if Senator Barker wishes it. I come now to another topic. A good deal has been said about the question of extravagance, but I venture to affirm that when that term has been used there has been a certain amount of confusion of ideas. The object in the minds of most men who use the term is to apply it in a sense condemnatory of somebody or something. It is not used as a term of praise or of approval. But I think there can be an extravagance of method as well as of amount. By that I mean to , say that nobody is justified in readily using the term “ extravagance “ merely because a large sum of money may be involved. On the contrary, the term might very often have aptly been used if an inquiry had been made into the method of expenditure, even though a much smaller amount were involved. I am making no accusations whatever against the late Government. I am merely drawing a distinction between the use of the term “ extravagance,” lest I should be met by my honorable friends opposite with the statement that if ever there was extravagance in the matter of expenditure it is to be found in this Bill, seeing that it provides for a record expenditure in a Bill of this description. What the present Government chiefly aim at is to discover any extravagance in method. In other words, what we desire as a Government is to receive adequate value for the money which we spend. The nearer we approach that ideal the farther we shall get away from any just accusation of extravagance. That applies to every Department.
– Then there can have been no extravagance in the past.
– The honorable senator is not going to draw me into a discussion of the past. I am more concerned with the future, and with the aims and objects of the present Ministry.Seeing that expenditure upon defence constitutes one of the most important items in this Bill, I may perhaps be permitted to make a few remarks on the subject of defence. I do not think the Government have any greater desire or any higher ambition than to render our present Fleet efficient. If there be any service in the country that we wish to see efficient, so that we may worthily uphold the traditions of the British race, that service is to be found in our Navy. If efficiency be not our chief object in respect of our Navy, we ought never to have established it. If we do not strain every effort to secure its efficiency, we are unworthy to have a Navy.
– Without it the- Fleet will be a fraud, a delusion, and a snare.
– No’ words too strong can be used to condemn any Government whose Navy evidences inefficiency. Let us look for a moment or two at the history of the British Navy, upon whose past records we are so proud to build. Any one familiar with the history of England knows that before she became the greatest naval power in the world, it was not so much the size of her Navy of which she boasted as it was its magnificent efficiency. That is the one feature which has redeemed her Navy, from its very smallest beginnings until the present time, when it has attained such formidable dimensions. In other words, when her Navy was small it was great - great because of its efficiency. With regard to the expenditure of money in connexion with the Navy, whether on public works, or in other ways, the honest desire of the present Government is to make the Naval Forces efficient. I turn now to suggestions which have occurred to me for effecting economy in other directions. The great spending Department of to-day is the Home Affairs Department. I think it is desirable that serious consideration should be given to the method of expenditure which has been followed for a considerable time. The Home Affairs Department also carries on the expenditure for other Departments. I doubt whether that is a very satisfactory state of things. I admit that the remedy is rather a difficult one to find. But unsatisfactory as it is, I do not feel inclined to avoid the subject merely because it is difficult. Let me point out the lines on which I think improvement might come. The present method of allowing the Home Affairs Department to do practically all the construction, not only for itself, but also for the other Departments, produces a state of centralization which I do not believe honorable senators like any better than I do. Instead of tlie Defence Department, for instance, obtaining a vote for £10,000, and asking the Home Affairs Department to spend that amount for it, I should like to se© a healthy rivalry set up between the Departments, if possible, so that the Defence Department might spend the £10,000, and invite in friendly profitable rivalry a comparison between its efforts in spending money and those of another Department.
– What about having engineers and architects for every Department 1
– You would have a multiplication of staffs and equipment.
– I expected to be met with that answer. I recognise that it would involve overlapping and the appointment of many officials doing the same class of work.
– We have got that now, especially in the Defence Department.
– Yes. But I doubt if we would have that state of things in a worse form if my suggestion were carried out. I feel that I am speaking to sympathetic ears. I am quite certain that the Commonwealth has not got, and is not getting, proper value for the expenditure in various directions. I make no accusation against any par ticular Government. That sort of thing is going on under the present Government as it has done under previous Ministries. My suggestion involves no party question. I invite honorable senators to consider the method of expenditure. The Government will consider it, and if it be possible for us, at some other time, to produce such a scheme, I would welcome the sympathetic assistance of honorable senators opposite in the endeavour to bring about a reform which I think would make largely for the benefit of the Commonwealth in expenditure. I think it is unnecessary for me to say any more in regard to the Bill. I could, of course, repeat the figures which it contains, but on referring to the abstract, honorable senators can see at a glance the total sums which are allocated in the schedule for each Department. In Committee, the Ministers in charge of the Departments will be extremely glad, and I believe quite ready, to meet every question of detail.
– I congratulate the Honorary Minister on the very moderate tone of his second-reading speech. I should imagine that his colleagues will appreciate the nice way in which he apologized for incidents which are occurring all” over Australia now and have been occurring for months past. It is all very well for the honorable senator, when he is introducing a Bill for the expenditure of an enormous sum, to say that he has no sympathy with remarks reflecting on other Governments or this party with respect to extravagance. I believe that the Honorary Minister feels that way at present. I believe that he has always felt that way with respect to accusations hurled from one set of politicians at another. But that does not get away from the fact that members of the Ministry, even at the present time, are continuing that practice. Not only that, but, unlike the Honorary Minister, they are continually endeavouring to shelter themselves under the excuse that they are compelled to do this because the previous Ministry initiated certain principles in connexion with the development of Australia. The Honorary Minister does not do that, hut his colleagues are continually doing it. Any statement that the Estimates covered by this Bill are those of the previous Ministry is evidently incorrect, because all that the present Ministry could have got from their predecessors was the official Estimates for the different Departments as submitted to the last Government for either approval or disapproval; and as the last Government had no opportunity of going through the Estimates conclusively and adopting them, altering them, or rejecting them, it is, I think, playing it very low down for any members of the present Ministry to shelter themselves under the statement that these were the Estimates of the last Ministry. I hope that other members of the Government will be as fair minded as Senator Clemons - I was going to say as generous, but no generosity is really required. Any statement of that kind made in the past, or to be made in the future, should be discounted everywhere in Australia. I was pleased to hear the Honorary Minister give a resume of- the expenditure in the years gone by. He went back to the time when the amount expended on works and buildings was under £500,000, and compared that expenditure with the £3,266,569 provided for in this Bill. I do not think that the Honorary Minister was, in that matter, absolutely fair. He said that then the Government had not the money to enable them to go further. I admit that they had not control of the purse to such an extent as the Government have at present. It was not want of money in the early days of Federation that prevented the legitimate development of the Postal and other Departments, but it was the want of courage on the part of the Government of the day. I do not think for a moment that the Honorary Minister had any intention of telling half the truth. I do not think it ever entered his mind - it could not be expected to enter his mind occupying the position he does at present - that up to 1910 the various Governments had £6,059,000 which they could have spent in the development of the country if they had had the courage to do so. Consequently it is idle to tell us to-day that the Government, prior to 1910, had not the money to spend, and that their Estimates could not be of such a character as the Estimates have been for the last three or four years. I know that after 1910 the Government of the day had large sums at their disposal; but I deny that, except in one direction, they increased the taxation of the country. It was not an increase of taxation, but an increase of prosperity, during the three years of the Labour Government that increased the revenue. With the exception of £1,400,000 derived from the land tax the taxation was increased in no other direction. That fact should be emphasized when statements are made that it was because “we increased the taxation of the country that we had more money to spend. Honorable senators, and I am sure the general public, know that it was the expiration of the Braddon section that gave us control of considerably more money. I would like to put this position to the Government, the Senate, and the country. When times are prosperous and the revenue is coming in, when the country can afford it, that is the time to carry on developmental work. I have heard it said that we ought to provide for a rainy day. Did past Governments provide for rainy days when they needlessly parted with £6,059,000 that should have been appropriated for national development? When the Commonwealth enjoyed a large revenue it was our duty, as faithful administrators of the affairs of the country, to carry out, to the best of our ability, all the developmental works for which we could provide for the defence of the country and its welfare. Had that been done, we should have been saved the necessity of deploring our neglect. It is not when bad times come upon us and our revenue is small that we have the best opportunity of providing for our defence. We ought to rejoice in the fact that the revenue of the Commonwealth enabled us to spend money to advantage in recent years. We ought to rejoice that the wisdom of those in authority induced them to carry out that policy from 1910 up to the present year. I consider that money spent on works and buildings for the benefit of Australia in many directions is wisely spent. I do not believe that there is a single honorable senator who will object to the money now proposed to be spent. All that we object to are the comparisons that it has endeavoured to draw between the Government that has gone out of office and the present Administration. I have heard such comparisons made. They have been read to me out of the public prints. Members of the Government and their supporters, both inside and outside Parliament, have made, and are to-day making, comparisons as to the increase in the expenditure and taxation during the last three years. We have been told by a very high authority in the Government, and by one of their supporters in another place, that the burden of taxation was increased by lis. per head of the population during the past three years, whilst this year it is only being increased by 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d. per head. I discredit all such comparisons, because they do not take into consideration the £3,080,000 that it is proposed to borrow and spend this year. I should like to ask whether it is not in the interests of- the Commonwealth that, as far as possible, our obligations should be met out of our income rather than that they should be met out of money borrowed from some other people, by which posterity will be saddled with a responsibility that we are not prepared to carry ourselves. Surely it is rather in the interests of the country that our obligations should be met out’of revenue. Yet, because this year the taxation is only to be increased by about 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d. per head, we are asked to believe that the country is being better treated, and to forget the amount of loan money that is to be obtained and the burden that will be imposed upon the people henceforth and for ever. If honorable senators will look at the actions of the past Government and at those of the present Administration, they will have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the methods of the late Ministry were far more in the interests of the people than anything of which we are aware at the present time. There are other honorable senators who ure practically interested in various appropriations for works and buildings made by this Bill, and who are anxious to express their opinions upon it. The Minister of Defence ought also to supply us with answers to questions that have been asked and insinuations that have been made as to his own Department. I hope that those explanations will be furnished, and that when we get into Committee other explanations that are demanded will be made by members of the Government. I trust that we shall have a full and fair discussion of the Bill in Committee, and that it will be carried into law as expeditiously as possible, so as to enable the Government to proceed with the works that are contemplated.
– I do not propose to attempt to follow the remarks of
Senator McGregor as to what I may term the general financial position. I take it that matters of that kind will be more appropriately dealt with in the discussion on the Budget-papers and on the General Estimates. But I think that the time is not inopportune for me to give the Senate some particulars in answer to questions that have been asked.
– I was only dealing with the appropriations made in this Bill ; not with the general approriations.
– I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to give the Senate information which every one recognises that it is entitled to get, and which was specifically requested from me a few days ago, particularly by Senator Pearce and Senator Russell. I have, therefore, risen at this early stage; and I desire to say that if, after I have given the information which I have available relating to the position of the Defence Department, there are still points which are obscure, I trust that it will be possible for me, when we get into Committee, to supply supplementary information, so as to place honorable senators in possession of the fullest details which I have at my disposal. Dealing with the Defence Estimates, and particularly with those affecting the Naval Branch of the Service, I desire at once to utter a word of warning as to some’ of the criticisms which have been directed towards the expenditure contemplated under this Bill. Senator Russell, T think, the other day - I hope that I do not misinterpret him - seemed to lay special stress on the fact that, as he supposed, it is intended to cut down expenditure at Westernport. In one of the local journals, a short time ago, a similar suggestion was made, followed by one that, whilst we were cutting down expenditure at Westernport, there was to be increased expenditure on naval affairs at Sydney. The suggestion that seemed to be made was that parochial, and not national, interests should determine the localities where the money was to be spent. Now, I hope that in dealing with defence matters no expenditure will be viewed from that stand-point.
– Why was the Minister putting men off the works at Westernport f
– I will . come to that point presently. The point that I am now trying to make is. this. It will, in my opinion, be a deplorable state of affairs if, in determining our expenditure under the heading of Defence, we are going to allow local rather than national considerations to weigh with us.
– If my statements were not justified, the honorable senator’s incomplete information was responsible for them. He associates me with a parochial view, which I desire to repudiate altogether.
– I did nothing of the kind. I simply connected Senator Russell’s statement, where the honorable senator pointed out that, as he supposed, there was a reduction of expenditure at Wester nport, with a statement published in one of the morning newspapers of this city, which assumed that, while we were reducing expenditure there, we were increasing it in Sydney. No reasonable man could demur to the conclusion at which I arrived - that there was a connexion between those two statements and a suggestion that we were starving Westernport in order to favour Sydney. I think that every honorable senator will agree that I have justification for expressing the hope that in determining any expenditure of public moneys with regard to defence, no consideration will be paid to merely local interests.
– I was referring to Naval Bases generally, and not to Westernport alone.
– Perhaps I am wrong in referring to Senator Russell at all; but, as I said before, I am trying to connect his statement with one which appeared in a Melbourne paper. It is a curious thing that only a little while before that statement was made here I was being accused, in Sydney, of trying to defer naval works there by the action which I took in regard to Cockatoo Island. I say again that this tendency to regard matters of defence from a purely local stand -point is to be deplored. It is not peculiar to this city. Of course, there is a liability wherever public money is to be spent - a natural, but regrettable, liability - to consider the interests of those who live in the neighbourhood, rather than the interests of the country as a whole. But I want to give the assurance that, as far as we are concerned, I have not in the allocation of expenditure considered the interests of any particular portion of Australia, but have con sidered solely the interests of the defence policy of the Commonwealth. I am of opinion that the interest of the defence policy itself ought to rise superior to all local considerations. I desire to say also, and I hope that I shall not be misunderstood, when I say that works carried on for defence purposes ought not to be used for the purpose of finding employment. I admit at once that all public Departments, when employing large bodies of men, should endeavour so to order their affairs that they will consider, as far as possible, the interests of those employed. But I do not think the Defence Department ought to be called upon to continue works, or to undertake works, merely for the purpose of giving employment. If it is considered desirable at any time by the Commonwealth Government to start works, or to continue works merely for the purpose of finding employment for labour, I’ say that the expenditure upon them ought not to fall upon the Defence Department as such.
– The honorable senator’s colleague, Mr. Kelly, said that the reason why men were being put off was that the Home Affairs Department and the naval officers were quarrelling about plans.
– I do not think that that is quite accurate. I know what my colleague meant. I doubt very much if Mr. Kelly used the word “ quarrelling.” That is probably Senator Russell’s word.
– I admit that, but he used its equivalent.
– The question as to what is an equivalent of a word is one upon which opinions may vary. I know the facts. Mr. Kelly said that certain works being carried on by the Defence Department had been completed, and that the time had arrived for works to be undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs, for which plans and specifications were now being prepared. Plans of that kind are necessary when work is being done by one Department for another. Under such circumstances it is, of course, necessary for the two Departments to come to an agreement. But Mr. Kelly did not use the word “ quarrelling,” in explaining the reason why the plans were not yet forthcoming.
– Mr. Kelly’s statement was that the Home Affairs Department had asked the Naval Office for information fifteen days previously, and that the Naval Office had ignored them.
– I doubt very much if Mr. Kelly did use the word” ignored.”
– Did he say anything at all ?
– It is to be hoped that he did not say anything worse.
– Did it take the Naval Office fifteen days to reply?
– That, again, is a statement of Senator Russell’s. Upon every statement that I make in reply to the honorable senator he drags in something that is absolutely foreign to the subject.
– I want the honorable senator not to quibble about a phrase, but to keep the work going at Westernport.
– I am trying to answer the honorable senator, but I am unable to understand what is troubling him.
– What troubles me is that the men employed at the Westernport Naval Base are thrown out of work because the Government Departments are not well administered.
– Now I understand my honorable friend exactly, and I have to say that, as far as the Defence Department is concerned, we have finished the job on which the men were employed, and it would have been iniquitous when the job was finished to continue the employment of the men.
– If the honorable senator’s Department takes over fifteen days to reply to a communication from another Department it is about time that he sacked some one. That would be better than sacking men dependent on wages for a living.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that the men whose services were dispensed with by the Naval Branch are not, in my opinion, the class of men who would be required by the Home Affairs Department.
– That might be so.
– It is all very well formy honorable friend to try to do in this case the very thing which I have warned honorable senators against doing, and make the mere question of employment a determining factor in public expenditure.
– Mr. Manisty has said that the men will be wanted on new works, and he is a responsible officer of the Department.
– I repeat that I do not know the purpose of these interjections. So far as my Department is concerned, we have finished the work on which we were engaged, and I decline to employ men any longer than my Department has need of them.
– The honorable senator is indirectly giving us a lecture, that is all.
– I think my honorable friend needs it. When he is trying to make a little political capital in this way, does he mean to contend that the Defence Department should continue the’ employment of men whose work has been completed ?
– I say that we should have some more detailed information than a statement that so much is to be spent on Naval Bases for the whole of Australia.
– My honorable friend will not giveme a chance to give that information. I wished, first of all, to deal with the matter of employment, and now he asks me for information as to what we propose to spend. I shall give that information directly, but in the meantime, I say that it is particularly undesirable that honorable senators, for some political reason, should raise the spectre of unemployment to support an accusation against a public Department.
– Is this the first time I asked for the information?
– The honorable senator asked me for it the other day.
– And the Minister refused it.
– I did not refuse it. That is fair evidence of the gross misuse of ordinary English terms by the honorable senator. He is aware that I explained that I did not anticipate that his questions would be raised on the motion for the printing of the Budget-papers, and that when we came to deal with this Bill specifically providing for the work I should be ready with the information. In the circumstances, to say that I refused the information is a gross misuse of words.
– It should have been given in the Budget in the first place.
– There is a good reason why it was not included in the Budget.
– It is done in the case of every other Department. In some cases specific amounts for postoffices in particular districts have been included.
– If the honorable senator would subdue his prejudice alittle he would see that while it is possible, and may be desirable, to set down a particular vote for a post-office at Ballarat or at Orange, it is quite a different proposition when we have to deal with a series of works such as those at Westernport. It would be most undesirable in a Budget to tie down a Department to spend a particular sum of money oh each building forming a portion of a whole scheme. Because of that, a lump sum is put down for certain work, and the Department intrusted with the expenditure has then some elasticity in applying it. If one portion of the work is not proceeding as rapidly as another, it will then be possible to devote some portion of the lump sum to work which can be gone on with.
– In the case of other Departments, I can find out how many pounds are to be spent upon a country post-office, and I cannot find out how many thousands of pounds are to be spent at Westernport.
– I have already explained the reason for that. The honorable senator might just as well object to the vote for a particular post-office, and say that there should be a detailed vote for the bricks, the mortar, and everything else. When we have to deal with a naval base, where barracks, earthworks, and wharfs have to be provided, honorable senators will see at once that by putting down a lump sum the Department administering the vote is enabled to proceed with the work as circumstances require.
– Why not bring in a Budget of one line? That would be elastic enough for any purpose.
– The honorable senator is now reducing the thing to an absurdity. I am not going over the same ground again. It would be an extremely foolish thing to say, with regard to a particular work, that so much of the amount appropriated should be spent on a particular building, so much on another, so much on roads, and so much on drains. Parliament is asked to appropriate a lump sum, and honorable senators can, if they wish, get all the details of expenditure. It would be a very foolish thing to shut up the various amounts in a series of watertight compartments.
– Does the honorable senator tell me, as a representative of Victoria, that I am not entitled to definite information as to what the Government propose to spend on a work like a naval base?
– I have already said that the honorable senator and every other honorable senator can obtain all information about it, but he was complaining just now of the way in which the Estimates were presented.
– I say that no information is given here at all.
– I rose to try to give it to the honorable senator. I believe that honorable senators generally will see that it is right to appropriate a lump sum for works such as a naval base, and it would be extremely foolish to portion it off and say that so much should be used for each particular section of the work.
– Evidently there i« a desire to smother up the leaving out of some base.
– Such statements are, no doubt, very effective on the platforms which the honorable senator graces, but I do not think they will help us very much here. Before proceeding to give details of expenditure, I should like to refer to a statement made by Senator Pearce, who said that there was evidence of an attempt bo starve the defence of the country. I take particular exception to that statement.
– I referred to naval works.
– I take very strong exception to that also. There may be room for a difference of opinion as to the method proposed for the expending of the money, but I do not think the statement that we are starving expenditure on naval works can be supported by the facts, or by a comparison of the figures of last year’s expenditure with those of the expenditure proposed for the current year. We have in the schedule to the Bill now before the Senate proposals to hypothecate £337,000 for these works, to be expended by the Defence and Home Affairs Departments, against an expenditure of £249,000 proposed last year by the previous Government.
– But the works were only just commenced during that year.
– Still I have given the vote proposed for the year’s expenditure. We are providing this year for an increase of 35 per cent. on that expenditure, and I am unable to see that the use of the word “ starving,” in view of these figures, accurately describes the position. If it is starving these works to spend £135 on them, it must have been more rigorous starvation to spend only £100 on them. Surely the honorable senator’s sense of proportion is not altogether dead, and he must admit that when we propose an increase of 35 per cent. on the expenditure for last year we should be relieved of the imputation of starving these works. I leave out altogether the question whether we are spending the money in a way which meets with my honorable friend’s approval, but it is clear that the use of the term “ starvation “ was an exaggeration, and quite inappropriate in view of the figures.
– A man’s suit costs more than a knickerbocker suit.
– I rather admire the ingenuity of my honorable friend’s simile, but I submit that the necessity for these works was as great last year as it is this year. The honorable senator overlooks the fact that only four months divides the present time from the period to which he refers. These works were in contemplation then as now.
– It is not fair to say that only four months divides the periods, because we are dealing with an Estimate for twelve months ahead.
– Just so; and I say that twelve months ago the necessity for these works was as obvious as it is now.
– It is not always possible to spend as much money in the preliminary stages of a work as may be spent later on.
– That is perfectly true, and there is also a limit to the amount which can be profitably expended upon any work at any time. Last year these works were just as urgent, necessary, and obvious as they are today, and, whilst our predecessors found £249,000 for carrying them out, we propose to find this year £337,000 for the purpose.
– Is the honorable senator deducting the estimated savings ?
– Yes, I am, for these works. It might be alleged that we are not finding enough for these works, but it does not come with a good grace from those who found 35 per cent. less than we are proposing for the same works to say that we are starving them. I should be extremely pleased if the road ahead were a little more clear, and we could push on with greater rapidity with some of these works, which I hold to be absolutely essential for the safe working of our Navy.
I should like to point out, with reference to the suggestion that we are inclined to favour Sydney, whichI take notice of, because I happen to be a New South Welshman, why the expenditure, which I regard as urgent in that port, finds a place in this Bill. There are two or three items to which I need not specifically refer, as their purpose will be disclosed as I proceed. But I may tell honorable senators that to-day we have no means of satisfactorily, safely, and efficiently handling the Australia. We could not to-day put that vessel under the only sheer legs - those at Garden Island - capable of lifting a big load out of her. She could not go near them. If we could do’ so, and required to lift heavy machinery out of the vessel, it would have to be lightered over to Cockatoo Island, but there are no sheer legs there capable of lifting it out of the lighters, and the Australia cannot go alongside the wharf at Cockatoo Island. It does seem to me that the most urgent work of the Department is to equip our appliances so that we shall be in a position to handle the ships we have got.
– Could the Australia be docked at Cockatoo Island for repairs?
– She might be put into the dry dock at Cockatoo Island under one condition, and that is that the boat is absolutely on an even keel. If anything happened which gave her a list to one side or the other, she could not go into the dock. There would be only a margin of 8 inches on either side of her in the dock, and that will be admitted to be a sufficiently small margin for a boat of the Australia’s dimensions. It seems to me that it is necessary that we should, as quickly as possible, complete our equipment, so that we may be able to handle the vessels we already have. I am not saying that that is a reason why we should go slow with other works, but I do put it forward as a justification for what we are attempting to do in the way of more efficiently equipping the Cockatoo establishment, and of extending the wharf at Garden Island. I come now to some of the details, which, I hope, will prove not uninteresting to Senator Russell. But before passing away from this subject, I would like to remind honorable senators of what will be the total expenditure upon naval defence this year. As will be seen by reference to the Estimates, the Government are asking the authority of Parliament to spend £2,384,132. Last year the expenditure was £1,462,000, so that provision is made for an increase of 63 per cent, in our naval expenditure in one year. I again ask Senator Pearce whether, in view of these figures, he can justify the use by him of the word “starving”? It seems to me that when our expenditure on this one branch of defence has been increased by 63 per cent., whilst we may be open to a charge of having submitted inflated Estimates, we cannot justly be accused of starving the service.
– The Minister knows very well that the amount he has quoted includes the cost of drill-halls on land. It includes all the expenditure on naval Reserves too.
– Of course. I have given the whole of our proposed naval expenditure.
– A large proportion of that expenditure will be of no use to the Fleet.
– The honorable senator may demur to the method of our expenditure, but, on the whole, it cannot be said with any justice that we are starving the naval branch of our Defence Forces, seeing that we are asking for an increased expenditure of 63 per cent, upon that of last year.
– The expenditure on naval defence was never challenged by me. I never challenged the expenditure on works to which the Minister has referred.
– I admit that the honorable senator may find some fault with the apportionment of the expenditure. It may be urged that we ought to have spent less on drill-halls, or in some other direction. But when our Estimates show such a considerable increase upon the expenditure of last year, we cannot fairly be charged with starving the Naval Forces of this country.
I come now to the question of the Naval Bases. I do not know that any honorable senator will be particularly concerned in regard to the smaller items. I take first the naval expenditure, which is contemplated under the control of the Department of Home Affairs. There are some items there such as “ Garden Island “ and “ Spectacle Island,” which are quite small affairs, and if any honorable senator wishes information in regard to them, I am in a position to furnish it’. As, however, the amounts involved are so small, I do not propose to give details unless requested to do so. In one case, the amount involved is only £10,000, and in the other it is about £14,000. I turn now to the larger expenditure. Under Division 5, subdivision 7, there is an item, ‘ Naval Colleges, Naval Barracks, Submarine Depot, Naval Gunnery and Torpedo School, Naval Training School, £120,000.” This covers expenditure on the Naval College, Jervis Bay, and also provides for the erection at Westernport of the following structures: - Four smoke sheds, drill shed and gymnasium, seamen’s barracks, single officers’ quarters, warrant officers’ quarters,- barracks for petty officers, workshop buildings, and other smaller buildings.
– Can the Minister give us any particulars in regard to the workshops? Why are workshops of these dimensions needed!
– I was just about to make a few observations in regard to those workshops. The estimated cost of all these buildings is £192,000, but it is anticipated that on that amount we shall save £72,000. At first glance that may seem too sanguine an estimate. But in regard to the very buildings to which Senator Pearce has directed attention, I wish to say that, in my judgment, they are in excess of the requirements necessary to give effect to Admiral Henderson’s proposals. While I am anxious, and the Government are anxious, to carry out Admiral Henderson’s scheme, I do think we should be guilty of extravagance if we attempted to go ahead of it. .
– Are the buildings to be of brick or iron? That will make a very great difference.
– It will. But, in my opinion, they have been plotted out with a design that is much larger than is necessary to give effect to what Admiral Henderson contemplated. Therefore, although their cost is set down at £62,000, which is the estimate for the works designed at the moment, it seems to me that I am entitled to assume that two things will happen. In the first place, I believe that buildings more in keeping with the base, will be adopted - that will mean a considerable reduction of expenditure on this item ; and, secondly, whatever plan is adopted will not, I believe, be completed during the current financial year. The item of £120,000, with a number of smaller items for which Parliament is asked to appropriate £51,000, make a total proposed expenditure of £171,000. I do not know that on that schedule I can add anything more. If I have overlooked any details, I think I have the information with me, and I shall be glad to supply it. I pass now to the other expenditure - that which the Defence Department will have under its own control. If honorable senators will look at Division 12, they will find, under the heading of “Naval Works,” these items: “ Naval Works, including labour and material, £98,000,” “ Machinery and plant, £112,000,” “ Naval College - machinery and plant, £5,721,” a total of £215,000. Upon that sum it is estimated that there will be a saving of £50,000, and, consequently, we shall spend about £165,000. When Senator Russell was dealing with this matter some time ago, he quoted figures which led him to conclude that we contemplated spending only £18,000 at Westernport. At the time, by way of interjection, I questioned his conclusions, and I hope now that I have set his doubts at rest. During the course of the same debate, Senator Pearce arrived at the conclusion that we had only £48,000 available for expenditure at the Naval Base. He did so by assuming that the whole of that £112,000 for machinery and plant would be spent this year. I wish to inform him that that anticipation is not likely to be realized. Those who have the contracts for building the dredges are not likely to be able to complete the entire work this year.
– Their contracts fall due this year.
– Their progress payments are already in arrears, and my advice is that we are not likely to require the whole amount provided on these Estimates during the current financial year to the extent of £20,000 or £25,000. That will make a very material alteration to the honorable senator’s calculation.
– It also means delay in the work.
– Exactly. But if those who have accepted contracts for the building of these hopper barges are behind with their contracts, there is no reason why I should assume that the whole of the money provided for these works will be required this year. The honorable senator’s calculation was perfectly correct on the assumption on which he proceeded - an assumption which he was entitled to make at the time. It was reasonable to suppose that the contracts for these dredges would have been completed this year. But difficulties in obtaining labour, &c , have made the contracts fall behind time, and consequently we shall not require the whole amount set out on these Estimates to the extent that I have mentioned.
– Where are the contracts being carried out?
– Three hopper barges are being constructed by Messrs. Johnson and Sons, of South Melbourne, three others at Williamstown, and one is being built in Sydney.
– What are the commitments for Garden Island and Spectacle Island ?
– For Garden Island £20,000, and for Spectacle Island £10,000.
– £30,000 in all.
– But my honorable friend must not assume that all the money is to be spent there, and all the savings are to be effected at Flinders Naval Base. The sum of £165,000 is to be - expended upon these naval works. Since these Estimates were prepared there is reason to suppose that we shall hardly be able to do anything in connexion with some of the amounts which go to make up the total expenditure. But we have placed them all under one heading, so that if we do not require the money in connexion with one item we shall have authority to utilize it for another. In other words, we shall not be tied to the expenditure of a particular pound on a particular work. It is anticipated that we shall effect a saving of £50,000 on this total of £215,000, and I am entitled to assume that there will be a proportionate reduction in the case of the sub-heads. There has never been a time when all the money voted for particular works has been expended. Take the item of £112,000. From the advice given to me I formed the opinion that we shall not want within £25,000 of that amount. I am taking off the amount, because I happen to know a little as to the difficulties which are being experienced in completing the contracts. If we take £25,000 off there it leaves Another £25,000 to come off the £98,000 provided for naval works, leaving £73,000 available for that purpose, and not the £18,000 which Senator Russell figures out, or even the £48,000 which was the result of Senator Pearce’s calculations.
– With £73,000 you will do a lot of work on Naval Bases.
– That amount will cover a little more work this year than the same amount did last year, because a good deal of the expenditure then was incurred in buying plant.
– Over how many bases will the £73,000 be spread ?
– The bulk of the money will go down to Western port, because there has been largely a cessation of work at Cockburn Sound.
– Why is it practicable to spend only £5.000 on the Naval College?
– That is for the machinery and plant.
– Is anything else to be
– A sum of £80,000 is provided on these Estimates. The item of £5,000 is merely for machinery and plant, and I doubt very much if we can spend that amount this year. It is no good to buy machinery ahead of the b uildings in which it is to be installed. At the same time provision is made in case we should be fortunate enough to be able to put the plant in. I wish to present the figures in yet another way. For expenditure on naval works there is a sum of no less than £197,000 provided. I am taking the percentage of saving to be the same for all the items. I assume that there will be spent in regard to each work the same percentage. In that way I arrive at the conclusion that the amount which will be spent at Westernport by the Home Affairs Department is £70,000, by the Defence Department £40,000, and on dredges £87,000, or a total of £197,000. If my honorable friends will compare that with the amount spent last year, they will say, I think, we are not unfairly proceeding with this very important sphere of naval activity.
– Do you think that that is a fair comparison ?
– Yes, I do; otherwise I would not have put it forward.
– Last year the Home Affairs Department did not commence to operate at Westernport because preparations were being made.
– The whole question is one of finance. When we find £197,000 provided for this work, a sum in. excess of the amount found last year, the particular way in which we are to spend that money seems immaterial to the argument.
– The two Departments are only going to spend a little more than one Department spent last year.
– That is immaterial. It is for one Government, and one country, that the work is being done. It is all part of the formation of a Naval Base at Westernport. When we are finding a sum considerably in excess of the sum found last year I think that we have fairly discharged our obligations to the country and to the naval defence scheme.
– I thought that you were going to give us the net amount.
– £197,000 is the amount which I said will be spent this year, but the amount which we will have authority to spend is in excess of that sum. I am not able to appreciate the argument that we are acting unfairly, because, on some particular item, we are not spending as much as was spent last year. I have endeavoured to show both on the Naval Estimates as a whole and on the Estimates for Westernport in particular, that we have provided for a larger expenditure this year than was provided last year. Whether it is to go in one particular form - a building or a wharf - seems to me quite immaterial. The wharf and the building are equally essential to the complete scheme.
– You want to complete the work as speedily as possible?
– We do.
– Therefore the more money that is expended the sooner the work will be completed.
– That was also the argument last year.
– No; last year we could not do some of this work, because the preparatory work had not been done.
– My honorable friend will not dispute that more work could have been done if more money had been made available.
– The honorable senator will readily admit that it is worth while to look into the matter of the workshops and to see that an unduly lavish expenditure is not incurred there in order to save a few weeks of time. It takes a little time to see how far expenditure on works can be carried on properly and economically. I can assure my honorable friend that if I had thought it was possible there to spend more money judiciously a larger sum would have been provided on these Estimates. I feel that the position in relation to the workshops is a justification for the statement I made. It was rather necessary for me to make myself familiar, not merely with the large general scheme going on there, but to some extent with the details, in order that I could come forward and say that I at least was satisfied that they were an essential portion of the Henderson scheme, and that the scheme was being carried out with a due regard to the economical handling of the people’s money.
– And it would not be extravagance if you did that.
– I do not want to be extravagant. I think that there is very much required to be done in connexion with defence. It is little short of a crime to waste a pound, because for every pound we have there are a dozen opportunities for profitably spending it. That is the whole attitude I am taking up. 1 feel free to say, however, that if I had thought it possible to carry on more work there advantageously, with a due regard to business considerations, a larger sum would have appeared on these Estimates under the naval headings.
– In my remarks I have no intention of attempting to make defence a party question, to try . to make capital out of the difficult path which I know my honorable friend is travelling, particularly on the naval side, nor do I wish to pose as the superior gentleman, who, having tried my apprentice hand at the Department, knows better than anybody else knows what ought to be done. I am actuated by the very reason which the Minister set out in the beginning of his speech. I think that on all sides of the Chamber it is agreed that efficiency must be the keynote of the Navy particularly. We have not only to remember that the Navy consists of ships, but as the Minister pointed out, that the ships are useless unless they have bases from which they can work, and that therefore everything should be done to see that bases are provided at the earliest possible moment. I wish to justify the statement I made the other day, that in my opinion the Minister and the Government are responsible for the policy of starvation on this very essential business of providing the necessary bases. The Minister is not quite fair in his figures, and I propose to check the statement he made. I exclude such items as drill halls and slip-ways for the Naval Reserves, because the total amount for those purposes would not provide a Naval Base or assist the Fleet in any way. The Minister has said that for Naval Base works the present Government have put 35 per cent, more on their Estimates than the Fisher Government put on theirs last year. That statement is not correct.
– I shall be glad if you can show me where it is incorrect.
– On page 233 of the Estimates for 1913-14 the proposed expenditure for Naval Works under the Home Affairs Department is £171,575, and under the Defence Department, £165,721, or a total of £337,296. In the last Estimates the item under the Home Affairs Department was £100,000.
– That was your estimate.
– Yes, and this is your estimate.
– The reason why we have taken the expenditure of last year and the estimated expenditure of this year is because the latter has already been watered down to the probable savings.
– So was the estimate of last year. Does not my honorable friend know that before the Estimates of last year were presented to Parliament they were watered down ?
– The Minister, having arrived at his total, did not take off a lump sum which we do not expect to be spent.
– I think that if the honorable senator will turn to the Estimates for last year he will find that we did take a total sum off them. Last year the estimated expenditure on naval works was £100,156 under the Home Affairs Department, and £208,050 under the Defence Department, or a total of £308,206, being a difference of £29,090, or only 9 per cent., not 35 per cent., as the Minister said.
– What did the honorable senator spend last year?
– Out of £208,000 voted, we spent £180,865, or within £20,000 of the amount voted; whereas the Minister expects to save £50,000 this year out of a vote of £135,000.
– Not out of £135,000; out of £210,000.
– That is correct; he expects to save £50,000 out of £210,000, whereas last year out of a vote of £208,000 - nearly the same amount - wc spent to within £29,000. I wish to thank the Minister for his courtesy in supplying me in advance with the details of the items in regard to naval works. There is a sum of £98,000, to be spread over the following works : - Flinders Naval Base, Henderson Naval Base, Port Stephens Naval Base, Garden Island, Spectacle Island, Brisbane, and the Northern Territory. Then there is a sum of £112,000 for machinery and plant. The expenditure at Brisbane is only £1,000, for the levelling of the parade ground and a sea wall. Of the three Naval Bases Flinders Naval Base is very important. , The Henderson Naval Base is that which Admiral Henderson recommends to be the Fleet’s primary base - the most important of all. Port Stephens is to be similar to Westernport, except that at Westernport we are to have a torpedo and gunnery school. On that division, the Minister expects to save £50,000. The division includes £98,000 for works, and £112,000 for plant and machinery. Of that plant there is on order at the present time, or provided, £35,000 worth. The contract time for the delivery of that plant expires within the present financial year. That expenditure is on dredges. Then there is expenditure on hopper barges, £50,000, the contract time for which also expires in the present financial year. Other plant is to cost £15,000. There is £5,000 for other plant already ordered. In connexion with the Henderson Naval Base there is £12,000 for the reconstruction of a dredge. The time prescribed for that dredge was shorter than for the dredge to be constructed in Sydney. So that if that dredge is completed to time - and I think the time was nine months, which must be about up, because the order was given far back in the last financial year - it will have to be paid for during the present financial year. That dredge is simply to be put together here, and no work of any other kind is to be done upon it.
– The honorable senator is wrong in saying that it has to be delivered in the present financial year. Two of the hopper barges are to be supplied in the present financial year, but the other two will not be.
– But the dredges have to be completed this year.
– I was speaking of the barges. I say again that two of them are to be completed in this financial year. So that the others do not come in at all.
– So far as the dredges are concerned, they will have to be completed. I think the time fixed for the English dredge was nine months. That dredge is to be put together here. The time for the Sydney one was longer - I think it was either twelve or fourteen months. Consequently, the money will have to be provided in this financial year.
– Is it estimated that it will cost £12,000 to put it together?
– Yes. It will be seen that there cannot be a very great saving upon that £12:000, unless the Minister is to be a consenting party to a considerable extension of the time for the delivery of the dredges. If he does that, I am quite prepared to admit) that he will save not £50,000, but very much more; because, if he does not get the dredges, he cannot do the work for which they are essential. If he is going to be a consenting party to delaying their delivery, he can congratulate himself that he will save very much more than £50,000.
– Four out of the six hopper barges which are an essential part of the dredges’ operations are not to be delivered this financial year.
– But the honorable senator will know that the dredges can operate without the barges.
– That is as far as the work is concerned. But inasmuch as the goods are not to be delivered during this financial year, we are not called upon to pay for them.
– The dredges are more essential than the hopper barges. The Minister can hire other barges if he likes. He can get secondhand plant for them. If he is going to allow the contract for the dredges to be extended he will not need to spend any of the item at all, because the greater part of the vote is for work which these dredges will do.
– Where is it contemplated to use them?
– One at Westernport and one at Cockburn Sound. I want to show why more work should be done at these Naval Bases this year than was done last year. The honorable senator knows too well by this time the nature of the division of work that is agreed upon between the Home Affairs Department and his own Department. There is an agreement that the Naval Branch deals with works which impinge on the water, or are actually within the water; whilst works which are entirely on the land, such as buildings, even at the Naval Bases, are constructed by the Home Affairs Department. For instance, at Flinders last year, before the Home Affairs Department could get to work at all, the Naval Branch had to prepare the land for them to do the excavating and other works. It had to prepare for the Home Affairs Department, and there was £100,000 on the Estimates last year for the Home Affairs Department’s purposes in this respect. It was impossible to spend any of it at the Flinders Naval Base until the preliminary work was done. But that work is done now, and that is why the honorable senator has discharged men from Westernport. Therefore, this year, not only can the Home Affairs Department proceed with the erection of the buildings, but the Naval Branch can proceed to dredge and to sheet-pile the wharves and erect workshops at the base itself. So that this year the Minister will be able to get on with works which last year neither of the two Departments could tackle. Owing to the fact that the preliminary work is now done, both of the
Departments can get to work, and can do so without interfering with each other. Consequently, this year the Minister could double the expenditure, because he has an opportunity of doing what could not be done last year. That also applies to the other bases mentioned here. The Minister has set down an item of £10,000 for the Henderson Naval Base. I am going to refer later on to the report which the Government laid upon the table in another place, in which the gentleman whom he sent over to Cockburn Sound to report upon the base there said that all the preliminary work of surveying and the necessary data were completed, and that nothing more of the kind was necessary. The wording here is misleading - “ to compete survey and necessary data ‘ ‘ ; unless the Minister has decided not to take that gentleman’s report. Because, as I have said, his report was that no further preliminary data was required.
– What is the date of that report?
– I will deal with that again later on. I come to the Home Affairs part of this expenditure. I may say here that I am sorry that the Minister apparently has not had time to look into the question of the proposals for expenditure at Westernport. Admiral Henderson, on page 57 of his report, says this : -
Special Requirements. - The dock accommodation at or near Melbourne should be utilized for destroyers, and so render provision of a dock at Port Western unnecessary.
In addition to its use as a Destroyer Base, and also (see IV.) as a Submarine Base, Port Western will be the training centre for the Western Fleet, for which purpose the following will be required : -
‘Naval Barracks, including Torpedo School, to be erected on the foreshore between Sandy Point and Stony Point. (The necessary land should be reserved now).
A land-locked range for the adjustment of repaired or new torpedoes. Also, as a temporary measure until Fremantle is completed to Fleet requirements, adequate supplies of coal, oil fuel, &c., must be maintained to meet the needs of the Western Fleet.
Westernport is to have a torpedo and gunnery school. This question of workshops was one which came up when I was at the Department, and was rather disturbing to me. I would advise the Minister in quite a friendly spirit to scrutinize closely the proposals for expenditure submitted to him for Westernport, especially in regard to workshops. How can you justify putting workshops of a character which are to cost £62,500 in a place which is only to be a torpedo and submarine base? Look at what the Minister will be committing the country to if he is not very careful. If such workshops are necessary at Westernport, they will be necessary at every one of the Naval Bases where a torpedo and submarine depot is to be established; and if they are not necessary at Westernport, they will not be necessary elsewhere. Apparently, an endeavour is being made to make Westernport something more than Admiral Henderson recommended it should be. I throw out that hint for what it is worth, and I am sure the Minister will follow it up. With regard to some of the remarks of the Honorary Minister, I wish to say thatI agree with him that there is a number of items in this schedule that have no right to be in such a Bill at all. We have been up to the present paying for our works out of revenue. We are not in the same position as the States, because we have very few reproductive works. But we have some; and I do think that the time is arriving - and I have made no secret of my views on the matter - when we shall have to consider whether some of these works should not be paid for by posterity as well as by ourselves.
– I am dead against the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator may be, but I am not one of those who think that there should be no borrowing. I have found that in private life it sometimes pays a person to borrow for one purpose when he is spending his own capital for another. I believe that what is good in private business is also good in public affairs.
– The honorable senator would not apply that to defence expenditure?
– No; I was referring to reproductive works.
– I do not see that it makes any difference if you are going to borrow whether you spend the money on defence or anything else. It is money owing, anyhow.
– Very often a man in his private affairs finds that he may have a certain amount of capital which hehas an opportunity of investing, and whilst he invests that capital in one way he sees an opportunity of utilizing other capital in another. He borrows for that other purpose, and the transaction may pay him very well. That is to say, it pays him to use his capital in one direction whilst he uses borrowed money in another.
– But a country does not go in for investments in that sense.
– A country is in this position : that it has only a certain income - a certain amount of money which it can spend. It has to put some capital into works that are reproductive and developmental. In the Post Office we have a Department which plays a great part in the development of the country; and I have never hesitated to say that, in regard to the Post Office, if ever the time comes when our revenue is not sufficient, I should never hesitate to adopt a proper borrowing system, with due safeguards, for the purpose of extending the facilities which the Post Office gives us in the development of our country.
– Why neglect the most reproductive asset we have, and that is taxation whereby we can reach the welltodo ?
– I do not think that taxation is always reproductive. It means taking money from the people. Taxation may have an economic effect sometimes. I believe that the land tax has an economic effect, and is reproductive, quite apart from the revenue which it produces. But there is a limit to the lengths to which we can go in that direction.
– No doubt; but we have not reached it yet.
– There is a limit to which you can tax. Here we have a Post and Telegraph Department, and a sum of £1,079,700 of the expenditure may be put down as reproductive. Then we have the Treasury, £4,860. The Treasury is now a reproductive Department; the Bank Note Branch and the Stamp Printing are both reproductive.
– Is the Bank Note Branch reproductive ?
– Certainly it is.
– The country was told the opposite.
– Coming to the External Affairs Department there is a vote of £68,930 set down, and much of that is for the Northern Territory. I venture to say that if we are to develop the Northern Territory, which is one of the biggest divisions of the Commonwealth, it is futile to hope that we can do so entirely out of revenue. We shall be compelled to borrow for the development of the Northern Territory, and the sooner we face the fact the better. The Home Affairs Department is expending for other Departments on works of a reproductive character £171,975. So that in the schedule to this Bill there is ineluded expenditure amounting to £1,315,465 on works of a reproductive character out of a total expenditure of £3,266,569. I do not believe we can go on in that way very much longer, but I agree with the Honorary Minister that the position is being forced upon us.
– If the expenditure is reproductive, should we not be getting better off all the time ?
– I think that we are. The fact that the revenue from these Departments is increasing is an indication that we are getting better off. We have been able by expenditure out of revenue to give -the public great additional facilities. We have been able to establish penny postage, cheaper . telegrams, .and better postal facilities all round, because by carrying out the necessary works from revenue, rather than from loan, we have saved the interest on the cost, which would have had to be provided out of revenue. One other matter referred to is of a non-party character, but we have a right to give our attention to it. I refer to the present division of works between the different Federal Departments. I take the Departments of Defence and Home Affairs. The Minister of Defence has in his Estimates provision for the engineering services, a very necessary branch of the Defence Force. They could not be cut out, as in time of war they will form one of our most necessary arms. In time of peace the men in the engineering staff have to do theoretical work. They cannot do practical work, because, if the Minister of Defence put an engineer of his Department to superintend a work for the Department, he would have a long memorandum from the Home Affairs Department referring- him to Works regulation so-and-so, and informing him that the work was within the province of the Home Affairs Department. In the establishment of rifle ranges we have arrived at m. almost comic opera position.
– Who is responsible for that position i
– It is like Topsy - it growed up.
– It is.
– Can we not bash it on the head?
– I could mention a man who tried to do so and failed. I do not know whether Senator Millen has tried, but I wish him luck if he does try to deal with the matter. A military rifle range is constructed by the Defence Department, but a rifle range for the use of rifle clubs is constructed by the Home Affairs Department. If a rifle club desires the establishment of a rifle range, they are supposed to look up a suitable spot in their district, and send an application for it to the Department of Defence. They may inform the Defence Department that Murphy’s Paddock would be very suitable for the rifle range they require. The Defence Department sends up . an inspector, who reports as to whether a rifle range could be safely constructed there. If his report is favorable, the Defence Department requests the Home Affairs Department to construct a rifle range there. The Home Affairs Department then sends up an inspector to plot out the range. He may conclude that the spot chosen was not suitable for a rifle range, and may send in a recommendation that another spot should be selected, and the whole rigmarole has to be gone over again. If the two Departments agree as to the suitability of the site selected, the Home Affairs Department proceeds to construct the range. When it is finished, it has to be formally handed over to the Defence Department. That Department has to be satisfied that it complies with all the requirements, and if it does, the rifle club is then allowed to use it. When honorable senators hear of all this circumlocution, they can understand how it is that members of this Parliament receive so many letters complaining of delay in the establishment of rifle ranges. This arises solely from the fact that, although we have in the Defence Department an engineering staff quite competent to do the work, they are not allowed to do it.
– The honorable senator might tell us whether this condition of affairs is brought about by regulation or by an Act of Parliament.
– By regulation entirely. I endeavoured, when Minister of Defence, to get the two Departments to come to some common-sense arrangement.
X found it was impossible to do so. I would not give the Defence Department all th*e credit or all the blame in the matter. They desired that so-and-so should be done, but the Home Affairs Department would not budge an inch.
– Who runs our affairs - the Department or the Cabinet?
– I found it impossible to bring about any arrangement by which work which could well have been done by the Defence Department might be carried out by that Department.
– And meantime the necessity exists for going on with the work.
– That is so. We have the same difficulty in evidence now at Westernport. We came to an agreement there that the Naval Branch should carry out works of a marine character, and the Home Affairs Department works of a land character. We had a vote on the Estimates for expenditure by the Defence Department, and we started to excavate the site for the buildings. If the Minister of Defence has any spare time, and I do not think he has much, he can peruse some interesting and lengthy memoranda which passed between the Departments as to whether or not the Defence Department had infringed the province of the Home Affairs Department in carrying out these excavations and levelling the site. I am not clear now that the Defence Department had a right to level the site, but we did it, and none of us was executed. Nothing fatal happened, though we may have broken regulation 67 or some other regulation. Although the Minister of Defence was correct in saying that some of the men who were discharged at Westernport were not suitable for the new work to be done, there are men engaged there by the Defence Department whose employment might be continued if the new works were pushed on with. There are labourers there, and a large amount of labouring work will require to be done when the new works are taken in hand. The whole thing has been hung up in this way. Another difficulty arises as to who Is to say what character of building is required for naval work - the Naval Branch or the Home Affairs Department. The authorities of the Naval Branch say, “ We ought to know best what kind of work we want, and we have a right to submit to the Home Affairs
Department the class of buildings we require.” The authorities of the Home Affairs Department, on the other hand, say, “ If you want accommodation for fifty men, tell us so, and we shall plan it out.” The Naval Branch may say, “ We want barracks of brick or of iron, or of one story or two stories,” and they may have good reasons for what they propose, but the Home Affairs Department say, “ We do all that. Tell us how many men you want to accommodate, or how many machines you want to put in, and we will arrange it.” If the Minister of Defence looked into the matter, I should not be surprised if he found that the whole of the delay at Westernport is due to the fact that the Departments are quarrelling as to who should have the right to plot out certain buildings.
– Is it not possible for the Cabinet to put an end to that sort of thing?
– These are revelations by ‘ ‘ one who knows ‘ ‘ to those who are suffering, and every word the honorable senator says is true.
– I am speaking now with freedom from responsibility. The business struck me as absolutely opposed to common sense, but I admit that my attempt to remedy it failed miserably.
– I cannot boast so far of any great success.
– If the honorable senator sets to work to unravel the tangle, I hope he will meet with greater success than I did.
– Then the Minister of Home Affairs was right when he said there was a quarrel between the two Departments.
– I do not know that we can call it a quarrel, but each Department wants a place in the sun, and each is afraid that if it gives way its glory will be diminished. I wish to say that the Honorary Minister’s statement, that the present Government are practically committed to these votes, is correct in one sense, but not in another. Honorable senators on the other side cannot escape the fact that during the elections, and subsequent to them, they accused the late Government of extravagance. We always challenged them to place their fingers upon particular items of extravagance in connexion with which they would reverse the policy of the late Government, but we could never get them to do that;, I can refer to particular items in the schedule to this Bill which Senator Millen, when in Opposition, challenged time after time. He is now in a position to reverse the policy of the late Government in respect to these matters, and he must accept responsibility if he does not reverse it. There are, for instance, the military factories. It is quite opposed to the protestations qf honorable senators opposite that the Government should have their own factories. They could sell them to-morrow at a very substantial profit, and let the work out by contract. A large amount of expenditure is put down for the Naval and Military Colleges. These colleges are free under the policy of the late Government, but the present Government might make them reproductive by charging fees. If the present Government are against the policy of the late Government in these matters, let them show it by altering their Estimates accordingly.
– We cannot root up institutions like that.
– There is nothing easier. Businesses as big as the Clothing Factory change hands very frequently. There is a large expenditure included in the Estimates for providing accommodation and buildings for horses for the Field Artillery. That is due entirely to the policy of the late Government in acquiring horses for the Field Artillery. The present Government are not bound to carry out that policy. They can sell the horses, and go back to the old system of hired horses. I am not saying that they are in favour of having hired horses, but I am pointing out that these are things in connexion with which the late Government made departures which involved the Commonwealth in heavy expenditure, and, although the members of the present Government have gone round the country denouncing the expenditure of the late Govern ment, they continue to carry it on now that they are in office themselves. These are the items which caused our Estimates to mount by leaps and bounds. I notice that an effort is now being made to make a side attack on our defence scheme by declaring that it is costing more than Lord Kitchener and Colonel Legge estimated. That is perfectly true, and these are the items upon which that excess expenditure, is being incurred. Lord Kitchener did not include in his estimate the establishment of a free Military College. He contem plated that each student would pay £8f> a year. He did not anticipate that we should purchase our own horses and ‘build, our own factories.
– The factories do not add to the cost of the defence scheme.
– They do for the first few years, because their capital cost is put down in the annual expenditure of the Department. In each of our Budgets, provision has been made for the purchase of horses and the erection of Naval and Military Colleges. Thesethings were not provided for, either byLord Kitchener or Colonel Legge. Lord Kitchener dealt only with the actual, maintenance of a defence force, and not with these things, which are incidental, to it.
– These factories wereincluded in the measure of 1909.
– Not the Clothingand Saddlery factories, but only the Cordite and Small Arms factories.
– They could not befairly condemned until they had been, fairly tested.
– But they werecondemned before they were tested. I come now to the engagement of SirMaurice Fitzmaurice, and the instructionswhich have been issued to him. The Minister of Defence has been kind enough tosupply me with a copy of the memorandum which has been sent to that gentleman, and which reads -
Melbourne, 29th October, 1913..
Under separate cover I am forwarding you copy of Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson’s report, in which, inter alia, are set out recommendations as to Naval Bases and works necessary for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth.
The Government, adopting the recommendations contained therein as to the establishment of a primary Base in the waters of CockburnSound, is desirous of obtaining from you the advice necessary to give effect to Admiral Henderson’s recommendations. These recommendations are more particularly contained on pages- 55-56, and 57.
Admiral Sir William Creswell, first member of the Naval Board, is journeying to Fremantleto meet you. The data, which the High Commissioner cabled you would require, will alsobe available on your arrival at Fremantle. Should further information be desired every effort will be made to supply same.
A further communication relative to the other places in respect of which your advice is sought will be made on your arrival in Melbourne.
Looking over the correspondence which passed between the Government and the High Commissioner in regard to the engagement of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, I venture to say that the Government are going to find themselves in a difficulty over this matter, because the communication which I have read mentions only Cockburn Sound, and hints that other places are to be reported upon.
– It more than hints that. It states that a further communication will be made in respect of the other places upon which the advice of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice is sought. There is no need to send to Fremantle a communication in regard to places which he joan visit only after his arrival here.
– Judging by the correspondence, a copy of which I hold in my hand, there are certain essential things in regard to these other places which ought to have been put before him prior to his arrival in Australia. I would direct the attention of the Minister to a cable from the High Commissioner, dated 5th September, 1913, in which he says -
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 upon 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.
The reason why I asked for a copy of the instructions which had been issued to Sir” Maurice Fitzmaurice was because I desired to ascertain whether the Minister bad taken steps to prepare the data which the Government were advised it was absolutely essential should be provided for “Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice immediately on his arrival in Australia. So far as Cockburn Sound is concerned, the Government have that data. But they have not got it in regard to other places. Take Jervis Bay as an illustration. What data has the Minister in regard to tides, winds, soil, surveys, physical features, and the material available in that, locality for the works proposed? I venture to say that he has no material at all bearing upon these points.
– The honorable senator is not strictly accurate there.
– I think that I am. Up till the time that the late Government relinquished office the Naval Board had no information on these points.
– Had you no information about any of these places?
– I am speaking of Jervis Bay at the present time. Has the Minister had a solitary bore put down anywhere in the neighbourhood of Jervis Bay?
– A good deal of examination was done there by the State.
– Whilst the Fisher Government were in office, I made inquiries from the Naval Board in regard to establishing a dockyard there, and I know that they had not the desired information then. If they have obtained it since, they have been remarkably expeditious; they have secured it with a very small staff and with great secrecy. Does the Minister of Defence know that the very firm with which Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice is associated, when called upon to report upon the making of a harbor at Fremantle in 1891, was engaged for more than a year prior to submitting their report in making tidal observations? I do not think that any tidal observations have been made at Jervis Bay. What is Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice going to report upon’ at Jervis Bay? The Government, in including Jervis Bay in the list of places upon which he is to report, have probably something in view in the direction of ultimately establishing a dockyard there. If they have, then I venture to say that the report of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice cannot touch it.
– The expenditure on Jervis Bay is quite supplementary to that recommended by Admiral Henderson ?
– Yes; he did not include it in the list of places on which he recommended any naval expenditure.
– His report is founded largely on reasons of strategy.
– Entirely so. Jervis Bay demands consideration because, since Admiral Henderson submitted his report, it has become the Federal port. Let me direct attention to these words, contained in the cable which I have read from the High Commissioner -
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.
The late Government came in for some severe criticism in respect of the Henderson Base at Cockburn Sound. We had a staff of 140 or 150 men engaged for months there in obtaining the desired information by means of borings, soundings, tidal observations, &c. The work cost about £20,000. If Admiral Henderson’s scheme be carried out, Port Stephens will be of just as much importance as is Westernport. Yet the staff which has been employed there consists of only four or five surveyors. I do not think that any boring has been done there yet. If this data is necessary in the case of Cockburn Sound, surely it is just as necessary in the case of Port Stephens.
– Why are borings required ?
– At Cockburn Sound borings were put down both on land and at sea, in order to find out whether there was a good foundation for docks and for heavy machinery. If the correspondence which I hold in my hand is all that has passed between the Government and the High Commissioner in respect of the work of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, that gentleman is coming out here without any knowledge that he is to report on places other than Cockburn Sound and Westernport.
– There is nothing in this correspondence to suggest that he is to report on other places. The Minister has drawn my attention to the concluding paragraph in the last cable on the subject, but first I propose to read the preceding cable, so that honorable members may grasp the sequence of events. It is dated 11th September, 1913, and was despatched by the High Commissioner. It reads-
In continuation of my telegram, loth 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. Mathews cannot go, nor can Wolfe Barry. It is pointed out that the whole staff of Coode firm will be employed on their return in working out Fitzmaurice’s schemes up to point of submission. For all work from first to last asks 4,700 guineas, to include consultation with Mathews on return Home, and firm’s staff charges and all expenses ; everything in fact, except Australian assistance from Government staffs 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 in November, but can leave for Australia 10th October, and go Singapore afterwards.
Up to the receipt of that cable, the Minister had not mentioned any place other than Cockburn Sound to Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice.
– Look at the first cable. There is no limit there.
– Wait a minute. In the next cablegram the Government say-
With reference to my telegram of the 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 Parmelia Banks-
Any person reading that cablegram after the first one, would naturally come to the conclusion that these were the naval docks and harbor works referred to, because no others are mentioned. After the Government had obtained the terms on which the expert would come they despatched this reply -
With reference to your telegram of 5th, 10th, and nth September, Government accept Fitzmaurice s offer. Information you have mentioned as being required in cable of 5th September will be available on arrival Fitzmaurice at Fremantle. Advice required particularly as to Cockburn Sound and Westernport, and generally as to Cockatoo Island, Jervis Bay, and Port Stephens.
Up to that time the other three places had not been mentioned - that is, after the man had made his offer and the Government had accepted it. I venture to say that the Government will find that the expert cannot inspect the others in the time.
– Can you not see that there is no time limit? He is merely stating the terms on which he will come here.
– There is going to be an extra charge -
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 .te Singapore harbor works November, but can leave for Australia roth October, and go Singapore afterwards.
– I have some reason to think that the time Trill be sufficient for what is required.
– The honorable senator is very optimistic if he thinks that the expert can do any good at “Jervis Bay in addition to all the other places in the time which is at his disposal when he, as Minister, can give him no information about Jervis Bay. Some time ago the Minister dealt with the question of Cockburn Sound, and, apparently, to buttress himself on the question, he despatched Mr. Ramsbotham to Western Australia.
– He was there.
– The file laid on the table of the other House shows that on the 30th July the Minister of Defence sent to the Minister of Trade and Customs a minute asking him to instruct Mr. Ramsbotham, who had recently been appointed as Director of Lighthouses, to report on whether, in his opinion, as regards Cockburn Sound -
That minute was marked “Urgent.” In my opinion, it was a most unfair thing for the Minister to do. I cannot understand why it was done with such secrecy, unless he hoped to get evidence to buttress him in a political attack he was making on the previous Ministry.
– There was no secrecy about it.
– It was only through an accidental paragraph in the Western Australian newspapers that I and other representatives of that State came to know that this action had been taken at all.No statement on the subject was ever published in the press here, nor was a statement made in Parliament. So far as the press of Melbourne and the Parliament were concerned, it was absolutely a secret expedition. It was from a chance paragraph in the Western Australian press that we learned that Mr. Ramsbotham had been instructed to carry out that work. That being so, we naturally asked that we should be allowed to see his report, and that opportunity has been provided by the House of Representatives. Let me read Mr. Ramsbotham’s answers to the questions.
– He does not answer all of them.
– I will read the report as it is submitted -
I, however, do not agree with the method of collecting such data.
A setting-out plan of the naval base on the Admiralty chart would have avoided taking unnecessary bores and sinking shafts - the latter conveying little information.
That is what I referred to just now. The Minister has put on these Estimates £10,000 for further exploratory work.
– That sum has largely been spent in this financial year. There were some commitments coming over from last year, and there has been some work done since then.
– That practically means that no money is provided on these Estimates for Henderson Base.
– Yes, there is.
– If the £10,000 has been largely spent, where is other money provided ?
– As I said, it is going for additional survey work.
– If the money is being spent on additional survey work that is not necessary. The Minister tells me that it is largely spent.
-Four months of this year have gone, and you know that some staff has been maintained there.
– That is an indication that on these Estimates practically no money is provided for Cockburn Sound, although the Minister’s representative in the other House has said that the work is being pushed on this year. Mr. Ramsbotham further says -
It is my opinion that the building of canvas offices has been a mistake, and that it would have been wise to have built the permanent offices straight away. It will cause unnecessary expenditure.
I, further, cannot see that the sinking of bores to such depths as 128 ft. 6 in. will serve any useful purpose.
It is my opinion that plant should have been assembled at once, and workshops and offices built straight away. By this means economy would have been studied.
That is the most extraordinary statement that has ever been penned. Here is a gentleman instructed to ascertain whether economy has been studied. He says, in effect, “ Economy has not been studied. You ought to have spent more money.
The work done there was of an exploratory character, the object being to find out whether it was a suitable site. When you set to work to find that out, you ought to have put up your permanent buildings.” It was an extraordinary statement to pen.
– He denounces right through the report the unworkmanlike methods which were followed.
– Does my honorable friend accept the idea that we ought to have put up the permanent works on that site?
– Nor would the honorable senator say that we ought to have put up the workshops before we did the exploratory work. I venture to say that when he read that paragraph it must have very seriously discounted the value of the report, and led him to wonder whether he had sent the right man to report. The report contains one or two interesting things, which I propose to quote. I find that the total expenditure has been £23,575. A charge has been levelled against me, not by the Minister, but by others, that I pushed on the works for a special purpose. It was said that I was anxious to influence the Fremantle election; that I rushed on the works in order to get a large number of men at Fremantle, so that they could vote there against Mr. Hedges.
– Who said that - Mr. Hedges or Sir John Forrest?
– Both. This report shows the number of men employed there in each month. I find that on the 30th April, 1912, there were51 men employed at the Henderson Naval Base. The writs were issued on the 24th April, and no person could get his name on the Fremantle roll after that date. On the 31st May, there were 126 men employed, so that between the 30th April and the 31st May the number of employes increased from 51 to 126. That was the time when the charge was being made against me. The number of employes continued to increase, and on the 31st July there were 168 men employed. The report of Mr. Ramsbotham contains one or two other interesting things. On 12th September, he reports -
From the list of plant given it is essential that locomotives, locomotive cranes, piling winches, air compressor, &c., should be purchased at once.
It is my opinion, based on actual practical experience, that until such plant is provided it will be quite impossible, or, rather, inadvisable, to make any start with constructional work.
The Minister of Defence will see that that is not a condemnation of the work done, but rather an intimation that, before any constructional work is undertaken, that plant should be provided. Up to the present time we have done no constructional work. Now we come to the temporary offices, and this part of the report is rather interesting -
I went into several of these, which were built of canvas, with a galvanized-iron roof and skirting. . . .
That shows the costly nature of the work which was said to have been done. Coming to the question of the bores, Mr. Ramsbotham says -
Core bores were taken and finished on the Parmelia and Success Banks by the State by December, 1912 -
I am glad to have that confirmation of my statement that the bores were completed before the decision was arrived at choosing Jervoise Bay as a site for a naval dockyard - working from the dredger Governor. . . . The core bores were 45 feet below low water level - Parmelia Bank, 2 bores ; Success Bank, 2 ; Jervoise Bay, 2 ; Casis Point, 3 ; South Channel, 2 ; Challenger Pass, 2. Fourteen land bores, varying in depth from 53 feet to 128 feet, in vicinity of Woodman’s Point and Jervoise Bay, were also sunk. Magazine Area, 40 shafts were sunk; Woodman’s Point and South, 37.
Commenting on his minutes, he condemns the trial shafts. He says -
I have been accustomed to be presented with a “setting out” plan, giving an outline of the contemplated works, and showing where shafts and bores should be taken.
I tell the Minister frankly that, during the time I was there, I was shown a plan of the proposed lay-out of Cockburn Sound. I was shown more than that; I was shown a model of the harbor and the works. I ask the Minister to ascertain what has become of the plan and the model.
– I know that a model was there, but was it approved of?
– No; but on that plan-
– You can leave the model out, then.
– Wait a minute. The Treasurer said that no plans and no drawings had been prepared.
– If the model was not approved of, surely it is not an argument in the case.
– The question of the approval of the lay-out did not come up, but the plans were brought forward at the time when we were discussing whether Jervoise Bay was a suitable place for a site.
– If you mean a piece of paper with a wharf marked here and there, it is possible that it was in existence; but it does not help you.
– The Minister’s colleague said a plan was not in existence, but I say it was.
– I could make such a map about any place in Australia.
– Mr. Ramsbotham continues -
Mr. Walkenden has had no such plans, and the -object has been to thoroughly test the entire site, irrespective of what is coming afterwards as regards statical loads.
I quite disagree with this on the score that there is a danger of putting down shafts and bores where there is no necessity.
At the same time I cannot help thinking that the experience of the State on the Fremantle Dock site has made the Director of Naval Works and Mr. Walkenden extremely cautious - due to the similarity of the physical features of such places.
I should think it did; and no one ought to know that better than that gentleman should. He was the engineer on the Fremantle Dock, and the authorities went on with the expenditure under him, without putting down any bores; but when they continued to excavate, they suddenly dropped through a cave into the Indian Ocean. I should think that, with that knowledge in our possession, we would be rather cautions, and the engineer of any Department, if he had any sense, would be very cautious to thoroughly probe the strata below, especially when it is generally known that it is the same as the limestone strata through which £200,000 of public money tumbled, leading to the abandonment of the dock scheme.
Existing offices and shops. - These are of a temporary nature, and unsuitable for carrying on the construction of large public* works such as are contemplated. I believe that the intention is to erect permanent buildings.
Houses for engineer and general foremen. -
These are almost completed, and, in my opinion, are very necessary.
Next comes another work which the Minister said was unnecessary, and accused me of undertaking without warrant.
– The honorable senaor has already discounted this report.
– I do not think so much of the man, but the Minister himself sent him over to find out all about the works, and he says that they are essential.
– He was not sent over; he was on the spot.
– He was sent down from Fremantle. The Minister got his colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, to allow this officer to make this interesting report.
Railways. - This work was essential, and has been entirely done by hand labour, without the aid of plant, locomotives, &c.
Land survey and contours. - This work was certainly essential and necessary, and has been creditably done.
I am glad to have that certificate from the engineer appointed by my honorable friend himself. I am glad that the officer whom he appointed to inspect has defended my action. Now I want to refer to a statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday, as reported in the Age this morning. He said -
Public works are being held up because of it. The Opposition knows that quite well. The whole of the public works are held up till all these Estimates are passed. The rule has been to treat these matters as urgent. As soon as the Budget has been delivered it has been the custom for many years past to proceed immediately with the works proposed, and put them through. Four months of the financial year have already gone, and there is no sign of these matters going through.
Is any Minister in this Senate prepared to say that the whole of the public works of the Commonwealth are held up until these Estimates go through? Is there anything to prevent Ministers from going on with public works? He knows that there is not. I am surprised that the Prime Minister should go about the country making statements which are entirely incorrect and beside the mark. Any other observations which I have to make I can reserve for the Committee stage. I may say, in conclusion, that I hope that the money that is voted by Parliament under this measure will bo spent, and that the works will be carried through. I think that there is an unfortunate tendency on the part of Departments to hang fire with works in the early part of the financial year, and then to have a terrible rush towards the end of the year to get the money spent. That leads to a good deal of friction and to waste of money. I trust that the votes set out here will be spent, and that the works will be pushed through as expeditiously as possible.
– Does the Government propose to give a reasonable time for the consideration of these Estimates ?
– I made a statement yesterday in which I expressed the hope that the Estimates would be put through before the end of the week.
– Does the Government wish to put them through between now and the dinner hour ?
– Not at all.
– I was afraid that it was intended to push them through as the Supply Bill was pushed through yesterday. I wish to take advantage of the opportunity to make a remark which I am sorry that I did not make yesterday. It is a matter which would have about justified us in hanging up Supply altogether. I refer to the most unjustifiable action of the Government in refusing means for select committees of the Senate to proceed with their work.
– Order ! The honorable senator is out of order. He had an ample opportunity of discussing that matter yesterday, but did not avail himself of it. He cannot do so now.
– As I cannot castigate the Government on this occasion, I shall have to find some other opportunity of doing so, and shall devote two or three minutes to castigating my own side. I take the opportunity of expressing my sentiments on a point which Senator Pearce has brought up with regard to a borrowing policy. His observations seemed to meet with approval from some honorable senators on both sides, as far as they applied to works of the character indicated under many of the items of this Bill. I trust that no such policy will be adopted. I should like to see a complete line of demarcation drawn between those who are content to build up a borrowing policy in Australia and those who are determined to set their faces absolutely and resolutely against anything of the kind. I contend that there would be no justification whatever for the Labour party claiming that it is against borrowing for defence purposes if it is willing to borrow for any other purpose. Say that a man has an income of £500 a year, and finds it necessary to spend more than that in order to carry on as he desires. Suppose that he says, “ Under no circumstances will I ever get into debt for bread, meat, and clothes, but I will float a loan in order that I may have money to spend on my personal amusements, my luxuries, and the education of my children.” I say that it is absolutely immaterial whether the man pays cash to the butcher and the baker and borrows for the education of hia family and his” own pleasures, or whether he pays cash for education and pleasures and borrows to pay his butcher’s bill. In any case he has spent more than he has earned. In other words, his expenditure has exceeded his revenue, and he has made up the deficiency by borrowing. I hold that it is purely farcical to pretend that we are paying cash for defence if we are going to borrow money for other purposes involving other Departments. The party in Great Britain which has been noted for reducing the public indebtedness has been the Liberal party, whilst, for many years past, the Conservative party has been inclined to increase the national indebtedness. The policy of Liberal finance, from the time of Peel and Gladstone down to Liberal Ministries in our own time, has been to reduce the national debt, although increasingly larger commitments for naval and military purposes have had to be met. If they had adopted the policy of saying, “ We will always pay cash for naval and military services, but will borrow for other expenditure,” they would have no case at all. They recognised that. Their idea of economy was to reduce the public debt continually. When any comparison is made between British and Colonial expenditure, it is said that the national debt of Great Britain was accumulated by war expenditure, but that, on the other hand, we had spent borrowed money on railways and developmental works; so that we have assets to show for our expenditure, whereas Great Britain has not. But, on the other hand, we must recognise that these public assets of ours, these State enterprises which are supposed to return a profit, are not fixed and invariable assets in the -sense of being always worth what they cost us. Side by side with the growth of development in modern countries under civilized conditions there is a continual necessity to adopt new inventions. Consequently, assets upon which borrowed money has been spent tend to depreciate. The result is that the idea of handing down to posterity the burdens that we are incurring, on the ground that we hand them down assets also, is largely fallacious. Many of these so-called assets will be on the scrap-heap before posterity will have a chance of coming into possession of them.
– What of securing monopoly rights? Is not that of some value ?
– If the honorable senator means that we have secured to the State the right of constructing railways instead of allowing private firms to build them, I reply that we have not acquired anything by that.
– But we have prevented others from acquiring rights.
– What we have prevented private individuals from securing is not something which we have added. It is only another asset belonging to the State which we have not disposed of. I am only too pleased that we- have prevented private individuals from securing this advantage. But we have not created an asset thereby. We have only retained a portion of the national asset, which inherently belonged to the community.
– Prevention is better than cure.
– It is, but that is no excuse for handing burdens on to posterity when we do not know, and it is impossible for any individual to tell, the value which will attach to the assets which we hand over as a return for the borrowed money. Take the case of wireless telegraphy. We can easily imagine that cables will go down in value; possibly, telegraph lines also. Every improvement tends to render less valuable the assets upon which we have spent our money. I wish also to point out the fallacy of Senator Pearce’s argument in his comparison of public with private finance. He says that a man often finds it advantageous to invest borrowed money for one purpose while he is paying cash for another. Well and good ; but that is because an individual wants to amass wealth or increase his worldly possessions, and enters into purely speculative means of raising money. If he can borrow money at 5 or 6 per cent., and sees a prospect of making 10 or 12 per cent, by so doing, that is a good investment. But that is in no way analogous for the operations of a Government acting for the community. We do not, as a general rule, go in for purely speculative expenditure. But take the analogy as far as it will apply to an individual and to the State. What does an average man do in this or any other new country who acquires a farm which has to be developed by his own labour and expenditure ? He devotes the greater p&vt °f his life *° gating that place in working order, in order that he may leave it to his posterity free from encumbrances. Though we may consider that in some cases people who deny themselves and their families many of the requirements of life in order to do that overdo things to a certain extent, we all admit that that constitutes what we are accustomed to call good citizenship. We applaud a man who devotes his energy and resources to the development of his property, and to doing all that may be necessary to leave it free of all encumbrance to those dependent upon him. Yet we are asked to believe that it is the summit of wisdom on the part of the State to lay burdens on the future Australian citizens, and that the great and noble edifice we are building up here should be built up at the expense of posterity. We have often been told that, as posterity had done nothing for us, we should not go out of our way to do anything for them, but I contend that, as we have to a large extent benefited by the industry, energy, and talents of previous generations, our noblest aim should be to hand down to our posterity, not a legacy of debt, but a lighter burden than ours has been, so that they may have a better time generally. Politicians of every school almost entirely ignore the fact that, while we do build up material assets, to some extent we destroy the natural asset3 with which the country we inhabit is endowed.
– I think that the honorable senator is going beyond the limits of order in discussing the matter at such length on the Bill now before the Senate.
– Very well; I shall circumscribe my remaining remarks. I say that we have a right to consider that in building up these material assets there are two aspects from which the matter must be viewed. First of all, they cannot by any means be set down at their face value, as even if maintained in working order their value is depreciated to an enormous extent by their displacement by more up-to-date inventions to effect the same purpose in a better manner, and by the destruction of the natural assets with which the country is endowed. When we are urged to rapidly develop the country at the expense of posterity, I say that I should prefer that its development should proceed more slowly on more honest lines. No party shall ever commit me, under any circumstances, to support a borrowing policy for the Commonwealth. I am opposed to it, not only for the reasons I have already advanced in a hurried manner, but also because I say that by adopting it we should be building up the fortunes of a few at the expense of the many. Senator Clemons, I think, referred to the fact that it is impossible for us to rely upon our revenue increasing in the future in the same ratio as it has done in the past. He gave as a reason the probable curtailment of borrowing by the different States, which in the past has undoubtedly helped, directly and indirectly, to swell our revenue from Customs. If we are not to have in the future relatively as large a revenue as we have had in the past to meet the requirements of public expenditure, it is clear to me that we must supplement our revenue by taxation.
– The honorable senator is a terrible man for taxation.
– I am, because I say that no efforts we have so far made in that direction have fairly apportioned the burdens to the backs that should bear them. In my view, all the talk about the land tax only amounts to an admission that we have initiated a good scheme. There is reason for disputing the claims we make in regard to it, because we had not the sense to make it very much greater than it now is. We failed to rise to the opportunity afforded us in neglecting to make the tax infinitely more heavy than we did.
– The honorable senator means on the large estates?
– No; I refer more particularly to the middle-sized estates.
– To have taxed them more heavily might have frustrated the purpose of the taxation.
– I would have fixed the tax in such a way that it would have adjusted itself upon the cutting-up of the estates.
– I must remind the honorable senator that a general discussion on the land tax is not permissible on the second reading of this Bill.
– Very well; I shall not discuss the matter in detail. I thought that I was entitled to refer to it, as the Honorary Minister, in moving the second reading of the Bill, referred to Customs taxation.
– I have allowed the honorable senator more latitude than I allowed Senator Clemons.
– Then I have no right to complain. I cannot yet expect more than is given to a Minister. We must realize that our public works expenditure depends on the revenue available, and if we are not to raise revenue by taxation, the only alternatives are that we should borrow or should curtail our public works. I contend that what we raise by way of loan does not permanently make us any better off, because our interest bill is continually mounting up. The various States comprising the Commonwealth have up to now incurred an indebtedness by borrowing . £300,000,000, and it is my intention, whenever the opportunity offers, to make a protest against the Commonwealth adding another to the list of borrowers. I am for the spot cash system all the time. It seems that we are in clanger of a falling-off in our Customs revenue, and I say that we should meet that by increasing the taxation of wealth. I shall always oppose every increase in the number of the idle class who live on’ the interest of borrowed money, which we use as it is used in other countries for the purpose, on the one hand, of increasing the value of the estates of those who already possess wealth, »and of enabling them to avoid taxation on the other. I say that a borrowing policy is entered upon merely for the purpose of enabling those who can now afford to pay taxation, and who will benefit chiefly by public expenditure, to dodge their responsibilities, and to pass them on to their helpless posterity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 6 (Home Affairs), proposed vote, £1,120,768.
– I desire to ask a question on the item, ‘ 1 Additional Accommodation, High Court, Sydney, £1,400.” I wish to know what accommodation is being provided. Is the amount required for building a library ?
– This vote is to provide chamber accommodation for the additional Judges of the High Court. It is proposed to erect a second floor over the present Judges’ Chambers. The High Court Judges, from the establishment of the Court in 1903, have occupied, rent free, a house in Judges’ Chambers. This vote is to secure accommodation for the additional Judges of the High Court appointed last year.
– The Home Affairs Department is going to erect another floor ?
– Will there be a joint ownership of the buildings then, or will theCommonwealth own it ?
– I am not prepared to say, but as we have been given the use of the building since 1903, it may be considered only a fair thing that the accommodation required for the additional Judges should be provided by the Commonwealth. I believe that the building will still remain the property of the State.
– I do not think that we should get anything for nothing, or that the Commonwealth or the States should loaf on each other, but it seems to me a most unbusiness-like thing to erect a building or make additions to a building which is not to be our property. It would be better to pay rent for the use of State property if we must use it. If a State should take offence at something done by the Commonwealth authorities, or wish to adjust its own business, we might be told to go, and be in the position of evicted tenants.
– I think it would be better if the votes were put in subdivisions, in order that honorable senators may have a chance to deal with various items in which they are interested.
– I stated that I intended to put the votes in divisions if there was no objection to that course, but if honorable senators desire that they should be put in subdivisions they can be put in that way. It has been the usual custom to put these votes in divisions.
– It may be the usual practice, but I think it would be better if they were putin subdivisions.
– I shall do that if it is the wish of the Committee.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration resumed) :
– When the sitting was suspended Senator Rae had just asked for particulars as to the arrangement under which it is proposed to spend £1,400 for additional accommodation for the High Court in Sydney. I have now ascertained that since its inception the Justices of the High Court have occupied their present premises free of charge. The Government have agreed that this money shall be spent upon additions to the existing accommodation, and, in return, they are to obtain a ten-years’ lease of the present buildings, with these additional offices, free of charge, with a probable renewal of the lease at the end of the term.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs what is the nature of the arrangement under which Mr. Griffin has been appointed ? Is lie to have entire control of the works at the Federal Capital, or is he to be merely responsible for the planning of the city ? I would point out that we have a Works Department, which has a complete staff. For instance, we have a Director-General of Works, who is responsible for the carrying out of all plans. Is Mr. Griffin to supersede the DirectorGeneral of Works in that regard, or is he merely to be the designer of the city and buildings? Is it proposed, for instance, that ‘he shall design the Parliament House, or is that work to be done by the Department, or is it to be thrown open to competition?
– The agreement sets out that -
The said Walter Burley Griffin shall be entitled during the continuance of this agreement to engage in the private practice of his profession in so far as such practice will not interfere with the performance by him of his duties under this agreement, and so that at least one-half of his time shall be devoted to his dutiesunder this agreement.
That the said Walter Burley Griffin will, during the continuance of this agreement -
For the purposes of the creation and development of the Federal Capital City at Canberra, prepare general designs, specifications, plans, and documents, and generally direct the details and execution of works necessary to give effect to them, and in particular, but without limiting the foreging words : -
Public ways and parks, Paving of roads and other ways, Street and park planting, City beautification, Services and equipment,
Advise upon the future development of the Federal Capital City, including the location of structures, their coordination, constructional materials, and relative scale and proportions.
Advise upon and (if so requested by the Minister) prepare conditions of competitions for public buildings and works for the Federal Capital City and preliminary feature plans for the guidance of competitors.
Not compete in any of the said com petitions.
Advise upon the allocation of “ zones “ for various purposes of occupation in connexion with the Federal Capital City.
Draft a code of regulations covering the general character of private improvements as well as safety and sanitary requirements of constructions.
Perform any other work in connexion with the Federal Capital City which is in keeping with the character of the position of Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction.
Exercise all reasonable care and diligence in carying out his duties under the agreement.
Those are the duties which Mr. Griffin is to carry out.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council, I take it, read out portions of the agreement entered into by Mr. Griffin.
– I read out his duties.
– The duties are embodied in the agreement?
– That is right.
– First the agreement provides that Mr. Griffin shall be allowed to engage in private practice.
– So long as it does not interfere with the performance of his duties to the Commonwealth.
– Does the agreement set out the period for which Mr. Griffin shall be engaged in doing work for the Government in respect of the Capital during the three years he is to be in Australia? Is he to be allowed to engage in private practice when he so wishes, and to take on Federal Capital work when he feels disposed ? Is it a sort of goasyouplease arrangement between the Government and him ?
– Mr. Griffin is -
To engage in the private practice of his profession in so far as such practice will not interfere with the performance by him of his duties under this agreement and so that at least onehalf of his time shall be devoted to his duties under this agreement.
– I listened with attention to the enumeration of the duties of Mr. Griffin, and I find that a very large amount of detailed work is involved, that is, after he has made up his mind that, in certain directions, he will require some assistance to carry them out, and to furnish the plans and designs to be operated on. Where is that assistance to come from ? Is he to have the services of the draughtsmen and other officers already in the Home Affairs Department, or is he to have the selection of a new staff, principally for his own purposes ? The amount which is to be given to Mr. Griffin for his services I do not consider excessive, but if he is to be surrounded by a host of new officers to carry out his plans and designs, that will involve a considerable expense, while the officers already in the service of the Commonwealth will have much less to do than they would have if they had to carry out all that work.
– Whatever assistance, professional or otherwise, Mr. Griffin may require, is to be provided by the Minister.
.- I do not wish to resurrect the question of the Federal Capital, but I cannot give a silent vote on the amount which is allocated in these Estimates towards the cost of its establishment. I am speaking in a non-party manner. In my opinion, that is too large a sum to vote on these Estimates. I feel sure that some honorable senators on the other side concur in that opinion, because I have a very vivid recollection of reading in the daily press, prior to the 31st May, that the Labour Government were abused on many platforms for the so-called lavish expenditure and waste of public money on the Federal Capital. It was called a “ bush “ Capital, a “desert” Capital, and other abusive names. If it was wrong for the Labour Government to spend about £147,000 last year, it must be doubly wrong for the present Government to expend this year £285,000. I protest against the expenditure of such a large sum, because I think that the time is not ripe for launching out on that lavish scale.
– That is a good Conservative “gag.”
– I am conservative so far as the building of the Federal Capital is concerned. I am so conservative that, if 1 had my way, a Capital would not be built at Yass-Canberra, Dalgety, or any other place in Australia for fifty years.
– Where would you propose to have the Capital?
– In Melbourne - the hub of the universe. I rose to object to the expenditure of £285,000 this year, because I think there is a certain amount of hypocrisy on the part of some members of this Parliament, and some members of the present Government, in voting for the expenditure of £285,000, seeing that they bitterly opposed the expenditure last year of a sum , not approaching that amount. I do not wish to speak in a parochial spirit. I am not opposed to the Canberra site at the present time, although I was opposed to it when it was undergoing the fire of selection. I recognise that the Parliament has decided - and, in my opinion, the question has been settled for all time - that the Capital shall be established at Canberra, but I sincerely believe that £285,000 is too much to expend this year.
– What was the amount provided on the last Estimates?
– I understand that it was £147,000.
– You supported that item, did you not?
– You did not vote against it?
– At every opportunity I have protested against any expenditure at Yass-Canberra. Irrespective of what party or Government the proposal emanates from, I shall always protest against what I think is an undue and unnecessary expenditure on the building of a Capital forty or fifty years before its time.
– I find no fault with the amount set down in these Estimates for the works necessary for building the Capital. I recognise that the people of Australia entered into a compact, when they voted for the Constitution Bill, that there should be a Capital for the Commonwealth, and that it should be in New South Wales. This Parliament, in its wisdom, decided on a certain place for the Capita], and if it has come to the opinion that the site is a suitable one, and that a Capital is an essential to the Commonwealth, I believe in a city being built as speedily as possible. I do not agree with some people in different parts of Australia that it is an unbusiness-like proposition. If a company were floated to-morrow on the Stock Exchange, and it was put forward as a business proposition, I would put my last shilling into the proposition, because I realize that it would be a highly profitable enterprise within a very short period. We must not forget that we obtained an immense area of Crown lands from New South Wales. We must not blind ourselves, either, to the fact that, as soon as the building of the Capital is proceeded with, and Government establishments are erected, there will be a fairly large population there, and that immediately the land values will rise. There will be a demand on the part of different folk to embark in businesses. With the increase in population, the erection of the buildings, and the fact that Parliament will assemble there, a very substantial revenue will be derived from the leasehold lands, and the longer we delay building the Capital, the longer we shall deny ourselves a substantial source of revenue. That is by the way. I want to be absolutely clear on this point: That Mr. Griffin is to be solely responsible for the laying-out and planning of the Capital. I want to be clear, also, as to whether he is to be intrusted wholly with the architectural designing of all the Government buildings, and that the Government are not going to give an opportunity to any Australian architect in respect of any of the buildings which are to be erected. If that is the purport of the agreement, we ought to know it. I have not one word to say about Mr. Griffin. I believe that his qualifications are excellent, and that he is a man with a wide range of experience. We all know that he won the first prize for a design of the Capital. At the same time, I think that there are in Australia a number of architects highly qualified to do some of the work that will be required in connexion with the city. As an Australian, I am not narrow or restricted in my vision in the least; I am essentially a cosmopolitan. At the same time, I believe that there are Australians who know Australian conditions, and the tastes and desires of the people, who are as well qualified to do some of the work as is Mr. Griffin. I wish to know whether they are to be denied an opportunity of doing any of the work that has been laid down for that gentleman ?
– I do not think that there is any intention to shut out Australian people from the competitions. It is stated in the agreement that Mr. Griffin is to -
Advise upon and (if so requested by the Minister) prepare conditions of competition for public buildings and works for the Federal Capital City and preliminary feature plans for the guidance of competitors.
That opens the door for our people to compete for the various buildings and works. Mr. Griffin is simply to supervise all the works and the buildings. It will come under his purview to approve of them, to guide the Minister in the selection of the plans, and other matters to be competed for. There is nothing in the agreement which shuts out Australian competitors in any way.
.- Are we to understand that Mr. Griffin is to be the sole arbiter ? Are we to understand that opportunities will be given to Australian architects to compete as regards the designs for Government buildings, but that all those designs, before they are definitely approved of, will be submitted to him?
– He will only advise in connexion with the designs.
– Whom will he advise ?
– The Minister.
– The designs will be submitted to Mr. Griffin, and he will make recommendations to the Minister?
– He is not to compete himself, I understand?
– Mr. Griffin will not compete, but he will make recommendations to the Government?
– And also advise competitors.
– When a recommendation is approved of by the Government’, will Mr. Griffin supervise the erection of the buildings?
– Personally, I think it was a very good idea that the winner of the first prize design for the Federal Capital should be invited to place his services at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government. As soon as he won the prize, I thought it would be a good thing to invite him to visit Australia, because I do not think the ablest man in the universe could do such effective work on what may be termed hearsay evidence as he could do by actually seeing the country and its surroundings. I wish to emphasize the excellent sentiments expressed by Senator Findley in regard to the expenditure on this “bush “ Capital. When we use that term we must remember that nearly all the Capitals of Australia were in the bush less than a century ago. I would rather find fault with the fact that we are not pushing forward rapidly enough. Instead of spending £285,000, I should have preferred to see £500,000 spent, not merely because the Capital is in my own State, but because I recognise that, having once fixed upon a site, the sooner we lay out sufficient money to make the place habitable for the purposes for which it is intended the sooner we can hope to get back revenue. For this reason it will be good business to spend even more money than is placed on the Estimates.
– Loan money?
– I do not believe in spending loan money. As I have said before, whether you borrow for one thing or another, the effect is just the same. I wish to know how this money is proposed to be spent. Is the whole £285,000 for the actual purposes of the Capital, or is a portion of it intended to pay for land resumptions within the area? There is a considerable amount of privately owned land, some of which has been resumed. Various holders of land are clamouring - and justifiably so - to know what the Government are going to do. The sooner the whole of the privately owned land in the area is resumed the better. At present, a land-holder cannot use his land as he would do under ordinary circumstances, because he does not know what the Government are going to do with it. These men are in an unsettled condition. They do not know where they are. I should like to know whether the
Government intend to resume these properties and pay for them. The owners are entitled to know, not merely whether a portion of the £285,000 is meant for resumption purposes, hut whether the Government intend to pursue a definite policy with regard to the whole of the resumptions. I should also like to know whether this money is mainly to provide a water supply from the Cotter River, or whether it is intended to road the place ? We should have some detailed information. I do not mean that we should have the expenditure itemized, but we should know generally what is to be done. X should also like to inquire whether it is the intention of the Government to provide for those persons who live in the Territory not continuing to be in the position of Chinese or other aliens, or whether voting power is to be given to them ?
.- I do not intend, like Senator Blakey, to waste the time of the Committee in futile opposition.
– I rise to order. I did not waste any time in futile opposition.
– If my honorable friend regards my remark as a reflection on him, I most willingly withdraw it. I do not intend to put forward any arguments as to why this vote should be reduced. The main question having been decided, I am a convert to the idea of establishing the Federal Capital as soon as possible. The sooner this Parliament gets up to Canberra the better for Australia, even if at the beginning we have, as Mr. O’Malley suggested, to live in tents. I congratulate the Government on their conversion to the principle laid down by the previous Administration - that the land within the Capital area should all be leasehold. It is pretty well understood that the policy initiated by the Fisher Government is to be strictly adhered to.
– The Government could not get a Bill through the Senate to change it.
– It is a remarkable fact that the Government have recognised that the only statesmanlike way of dealing with a vast territory such as we have at Canberra is on the leasehold principle. Many honorable senators representing various States support this expenditure for no other reason than that they believe that this system of taking the unearned increment for the people will make the Capital a payable proposition within a few years of its inauguration. The rise in rental values will be such that it will finance the great bulk of our undertakings.
– In sixty years the return from rental values will almost entirely overtake the expenditure.
– I wish to know what kind of system has been adopted by the Public Works Branch in the Federal Territory for carrying out buildings and other works ? I intend at a future opportunity to deal with this matter at greater length, but I wish now to know whether the Works Branch intend to adhere to the principle, or lack of principle, that has been the rule in Melbourne and other parts of the Commonwealth for some time past? I allude to the principle of undertaking construction works without having any specifications whatever.
– Is that what is done?
– That has been the rule as far as concerns buildings round Melbourne. A plan is drawn up, and then this woefully mismanaged Department proceeds to build, with absolutely nothing but the plan as a guide.
– The Department has done some very good work, anyhow.
– It may have done, but I know that Mr. King O’Malley intended to enforce the system of having complete specifications to work to. He also wished to introduce a costing system, by which the officers in charge of various works could tell fairly accurately what each building cost to erect. It came under my own notice that workmen engaged at Williamstown had not even to fill in time-sheets. There was a happygolucky style of going to work. Painting work was charged to carpentering, and so forth. I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, and it was promptly remedied. I understand that it is the common practice not to have specifications, and that there is no costing system. Senator Pearce has alluded to the muddle that exists, the result of which is that work is being held up.
– I did not blame the Home Affairs Department any more than the Defence Department. I blamed the system.
– I am sure that Senator Pearce would argue for a system of constructing national works by better methods than are at present adopted. Will the Minister inform us whether the same system of muddle is to be followed in the Federal Capital, or whether specifications, as well as plans, will be prepared for these Federal Capital undertakings ?
– Senator Rae wishes to know how this money is to be spent, and I may inform him that none of it will be spent on the resumption of land. Before the actual building of the Capital can be proceeded with, a great deal of preliminary work requires to be done. We have to provide power for the various machinery which will be used there. In the next place, we require to make provision for roads. Then a water supply must be provided, and we have next to provide for electric lighting. I have here details covering the expenditure of every £1 of this vote, which honorable members are at liberty to see. Money is to be spent on: - Buildings - administrative offices, Administrator’s residence, quarters No. 7, Commonwealth Bank, bank manager’s quarters, temporary hospital, postoffice, provision for workmen’s location. Power plant and power house - power house and accessories, coal storage, erection boiler-house plant, engine-room plant, alternator. Electric supply - transmission lines and electric pump, mains and electric pump. Roads and transport - Actonroad and bridge, road development generally, Murrumbidgee bridge, rock crushers, traction engine, railway from Canberra to Queanbeyan, road Cotter River. Water supply - Acton water supply, dam and reservoir Cotter River, tunnel from reservoir to pump, service reservoir, Red Hill, pipe head reservoir, cast-iron pipe mains and pumping plant. Sewerage - Acton sewerage, main sewer from city boundary, storm-water sewers. Materials and stores - brickworks, purchase of timber for seasoning, quarrying development and Tharwa quarry, manufacture of cement, building for stores, workshops and plant, materials for stock. Running expenses and miscellaneous. Health, administration, education, engineers, draftsmen, and others. Afforestation and surveys. With regard to Senator Ready’s remarks, it is unlikely that, under the present management, any building will be erected at the Federal Capital without proper plans and specifications. The fact that Mr. Griffin is to supervise the erection of all the larger buildings is a guarantee that proper specifications will be prepared. I shall bring what the honorable senator has said forcibly under the notice of those who will have charge of this expenditure.
.- I wish to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether dissatisfaction has been expressed at the work of the Committee that was appointed by the late Government to perfect the general plan sent in by Mr. Griffin? We were informed that that gentleman had made no provision at all for sewerage in the plan he submitted, and it was necessary for the Committee appointed to take part of the second-prize design, and combine it with that sent in by Mr. Griffin, to provide the necessary sewerage system for the Capital. I wish to know now if Mr. Griffin is to have the right to perfect his own plan, or is to follow the composite plan prepared by the Committee I refer to. There has been a good deal of expenditure in connexion with the appointment of the Committee to meet travelling expenses alone, and I should like to know whether all their work is to go for nothing.
– I believe that the plan which was in existence when the present Government came into office was a combination of Mr. Griffin’s and various other plans. It was somewhat difficult to say how far Mr.Griffin’s ideas were being followed. There was considerable ‘confusion, and it was thought better, if the city was to be erected on right lines, to bring Mr. Griffin to Australia. Since he has been here he has been in constant communication with the Committee appointed by the late Government to consider the best plans for the Capital. Various points were in dispute, but the local experience of the Committee has been added to Mr. Griffin’s knowledge of the original plan, and I believe that an understanding has now been arrived at as to how the work is to be done.
.- I believe that I am right in saying that the major portion of the works now being carried out at Canberra is being carried on under the day-labour system. The late Government provided the necessary plant and equipment for that purpose. Some of the members of the present Government have stated publicly that it is their intention to abolish the day-labour system, and to introduce the contract system. I should like to know whether, in the expenditure of this money, it is the intention of the Government to replace the day-labour system by the contract system, and, if so, whether they propose to sell, lock, stock, and barrel, all the equipment which was acquired by the late Government, in order that the day-labour system might be adopted at Canberra ?
– I was somewhat astonished to hear the order in which, according to the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the works are to be undertaken at the Federal Capital. According to the only record that we have of the creation of the universe in the English language, a start was made with the words “ Let there be light,” and it struck me that if the Government intend to make provision for light at the Capital as the last of the works to be undertaken, working in darkness, we cannot expect that they will make very much speed. I have not been to Canberra since the formal ceremony of naming the Capital, but I understand that the late Government provided for the manufacture of bricks for use in the building of the city, and that, comparatively recently, they were seeking to find material from which cement might be manufactured in the neighbourhood of the site. I should like to know whether the provision made for the manufacture of bricks has been so far completed that bricks are now being turned out at Canberra? I should like to know, also, whether the works are to be gone on with, or the present Government intend to reverse the methods adopted by the previous Government ? I do not suppose that they would do so without due consideration, or without taking Parliament into their confidence. It is difficult to draw the line between what are and what are not preliminary works, but I should like to know if it is contemplated that all the preliminary works necessary can be done by this vote of £285,000? If my ideas were carried out, we should commence the work of building the Federal Parliament House as soon as we know where the actual city is to be, so that as soon as possible we could all be on the spot and in direct touch with the operations carried out at the Capital. If that were necessary, I should prefer that even the erection of a temporary Parliament House should be begun as soon as possible, so that members of this Parliament might be able to exercise, not an officious interference, but an intimate supervision in connexion with what iB being done. The sooner the Federal Parliament is established at the Capital, even though it should be in temporary premises, the sooner we may expect the influx of population which will make it a valuable asset, and facilitate its settlement.
– A question has been raised as to the attitude of the Government in the matter of constructing public works by day labour. The position of the Government has been made ‘abundantly clear. They do not possess the whole-hearted faith in the day-labour system which animates my honorable friends on the other side of the chamber, but it would be ridiculous on that account to say that they must necessarily carry on every public work by contract. Even my honorable friends opposite, who are very much given to wobbling in their political faith, whilst professing a whole-hearted belief in the day-labour system, frequently when in power resorted to the contract system. When we are dealing with works which have already been commenced under the day-labour system, and for which a plant has been provided and a staff assembled, and especially works in connexion with which, as Senator Ready has said, complete specifications have not been provided, it is impossible for us to step in and substitute the contract for the day-labour system. I find that as at the Federal Capital there are some works in progress for my own Department, for which a plant has been provided and the staff assembled. We should be wanting in regard for the interests of the workmen at present engaged in the work if we set them and the plant aside in order to give effect to our views on the contract system.
– If the day-labour system is bad, why continue it?
– It may be better to continue it than to bring about a worse evil, and my honorable friends, 1 aru sure, are agreed that the attitude taken up in this matter by the Government is not unreasonable.
– It is a little blessed inconsistency on their part.
– There is no inconsistency about it at all. When we have buildings half finished under the daylabour system, and no specifications for them on winch we could invite tenders, and when the plant and workmen have been assembled for finishing them on the day-labour system, it would be a mistake to alter that system.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the day-labour system is the best system.
– I never said that.
– I prefer to take the views of the Vice-President of the Executive Council from his own lips rather than from those of Senator Russell.
– I am looking at them now as they are set out in Hansard.
– I am endeavouring to make clear the attitude which the Government take up. We have a preference for the contract system, but we are not therefore going to tear up all the work- that has been done, throw a plant idle, put men out of employment, and thus bring about an interregnum until we oan get contractors to undertake that work. But in all future undertakings the Government will, as far as possible, have resort to the contract system.
– I should like a further statement from the Minister of Defence, not only for my own information, but for that of the Committee. The honorable gentleman has said that he does not like to interfere with existing arrangements. Will he give us his assurance that in all new undertakings on behalf of the Commonwealth, the day-labour system will be abolished, and the contract system substituted ?
– No; I do not say that.
– I am asking for a definite statement now. Is it the intention of the Government that in all new works and buildings the day-labour system shall be abolished, and the contract system substituted?
.- The honorable senator must surely have failed to gather my meaning.
– It is because I gathered the meaning of the Minister that I am asking for this assurance.
– The honorable senator asks me to give an undertaking in regard to all future buildings that they will be constructed by contract. It is impossible to do that. There are certain places where works are now being carried on. Take, for instance, the Naval College at Jervis Bay.
– That work has been started.
– There are new buildings to be erected there, and alongside them is a plant which is being used in just finishing another building. A good deal of material has been left over from that building. In such a case it would be absurd to turn round and call for tenders for the erection of these complementary buildings. The same policy will be followed by the Government in respect of other undertakings.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [8.59J. - The Minister of Defence made the same statement previously that he has just made in reply to my question. I ask him whether, in all new undertakings in the future, the Government will have the work carried out by contract instead of day labour ?
– Does the honorable senator ‘mean when we start with a clean sheet ?
– The honorable senator understands my meaning very well. As the Leader of the Senate and a responsible Minister, I ask him whether it is the intention of the Government to depart absolutely from the day-labour system, and resort to the contract system in all future buildings ?
– I anticipated this clean, direct question, which comes from my honorable friend, and which furnishes Senator Findley with so much cause for merriment. No Government can say that, under no circumstances, will it employ either the daylabour system or the contract system. Even my honorable friends. who are adherents of the day-labour system themselves, had resort to the contract system..
It is just as conceivable - indeed it is inevitable - that though the present Government believe in the contract system, they will from time to time, under certain circumstances, resort to the daylabour system. There is all the difference between whether a Government adopts one system only, and says that in no circumstances will it have resort to any other system. I hold that there is a commonsense application of these two systems.
– The honorable gentleman is an absolute opportunist.
– I do not mind what my honorable friends call me. The position is abundantly clear to those who wish to see it. The Government believe that better results will obtain to the taxpayers as the result of the employment of contractors, and, believing that, honorable senators may rest assured that the great bulk of the new undertakings which we have to face will be carried out under the contract system. It is, however, absurd to suggest that, under no circumstances, will we do any work by means of day labour.
.- I feel very much tempted to take some definite action in regard to this. item. The attitude which I took up in regard to the selection of Yass-Canberra is well known. I fought it vigorously, because I did not regard the site as the best available one. Now, as the result of the deliberate vote of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it is proposed to expend £285,000 upon that site. I have recently returned from a keenly-contested election campaign, and on every conceivable occasion - after having voted for the selection of this site - Senator McColl has urged that we should refrain from spending money on Yass-Canberra. He declared his belief that the time is inopportune to incur such expenditure. Yet we are now asked to vote £285,000 for the purpose of undertaking certain works at the Federal Capital.
– But things have changed.
– Yes. To-day the Honorary Minister very ably pointed out that, in his opinion, our revenue had reached the high-water mark. Judging by the way in which his remarks were received, I take it that that is the consensus of opinion in this Chamber. What I really think we ought to know in connexion with this matter is where we are going, and to what will the expenditure of this £285,000 commit us ? Probably it will commit the next Government to an expenditure of many millions upon the Federal Capital. Will it commit us to an expenditure from time to time of £200,000, £300,000, £400,000, or £500,000? We ought to have some explanation of it from the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who, during the recent election campaign, practically preached throughout the country that the late Government were extravagant, and that one feature of their extravagance was their expenditure upon the Federal Capital. If the late Minister of Home Affairs was guilty of extravagance by spending £147,000 upon the Capital, surely the present Government must be extremely extravagant, seeing that they propose to spend £285,000 upon the same project. If Senator Clemons be right in his prophecy that our revenue has now reached high-water mark, we shall either have to continue to spend money upon the Capital because we are committed to it, or we shall have to abandon the work of building the city, or borrow money for the purpose.
– What Government started the work?
– The Fisher Government. But members of the present Ministry opposed that expenditure, and especially did the Vice-President of the Executive Council. It was amusing to listen to the contradictory statements of two Ministers to-night. Senator Millen has said that it may be expedient for the Government from time to time to undertake works by means of day labour, but that it is distinctly the policy of the Government, where they can get a clean start, to have resort to the contract system. That is a peculiar admission, because, on more than one occasion, Senator McColl has stated that, where adequate supervision can be obtained, the day-labour system is far the better. In discussing the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill last year, the honorable gentleman - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 2402 - said -
I have made no charges against “ the man on the job.” My opinion was that we required information. I therefore asked for a return in connexion with a particular work. When the expenditure is known it can be checked, and we shall be able to see whether the work is costing more than it ought to cost. I believe that, given honest inspectors and honest workmen, the day-labour system is by far the best..
Of course, if -you have not honest inspectors and workmen, you will not get good work done under any system.
If that be the opinion of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, I wish to know why he has abandoned it? Is he prepared to maintain that it is impossible to get honest inspectors, or does he mean to reflect upon the workers of this country by declaring that they are dishonest? If not, surely the Government ought to be prepared to support the day-labour system. Is the renunciation of the one pet hobby of the Vice-President of the Executive Council the price of a seat in the Cabinet? It is certainly significant that, after all his denunciation of the Federal Capital, and Mr. O’Malley’s expenditure upon it, he should submit for our consideration an item which doubles that expenditure. I shall vote for the item, because I do not wish to be regarded as taking up a parochial attitude on this matter. But at an early opportunity we should be given a reasonable idea of the extent to which we are committing this Parliament to expenditure there. I am prepared to vote for the expenditure of any reasonable sum, because I believe that the work should be proceeded with. If we continue to expend £300,000 a year for twenty years, we shall simply be wasting the money if the works constructed are permitted to lie idle. But I believe that the day is not far distant when the Federal Capital will be more than self-supporting. If that be so, we ought to have a settled policy as to whether the Capital is to be constructed in five or ten years, and not merely spend from time to time a small sum on the works, and then allow the expenditure to remain idle, earning nothing, practically, for a considerable number of years.
– That is an argument for very heavy expenditure at once.
– I am not particular about that. What I want to see is a definite policy. If there is a chance that by opening up the Capital in five years it may become revenue-producing I am prepared to support the expenditure. I am not even going to say that I would not support to that extent a borrowing policy, because I believe that the Commonwealth will get a wonderfully good asset there. I think it is a waste of time to play with the question by merely, from time to time, throwing a certain amount of money, so to speak, into the sea. I do hope that at the earliest possible opportunity we shall have a definite announcement as to when the Government expect to have the Capital constructed and ready for Parliament to meet in, and what our total commitments are likely to be.
– I think that the time has arrived for definite action to be taken, not altogether in connexion with the Federal Capital, but to test the policy of the present Government as regards their promises on the platform, and with that intention I move -
That the item, “Federal Capital- ,£285,000,” be reduced by ,£5,000.
– Let it go.
– I am not going to let the item go, because my honorable friend may take a wrong view of what I intend to say. My object is to test the policy of the Government on the question of day labour labour versus the contract system. I was one of those in the Senate who strongly opposed the building of the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra. We had a strenuous fight on two or three occasions, and as one of the vanquished, I admitted that as the National Parliament had determined to build the Capital at Canberra, I would assist its erection in every possible way. It is one of the most important undertakings on which the Commonwealth has ever ventured. The Liberal party, in season and out of season, have said that day labour was a wrong system, and that if they were returned to power they would carry out all works by the contract system. As a matter of fact, there is an announcement to that effect in the policy statement with which they met this Parliament. This afternoon several questions were put to the Leader of the Senate, but on neither occasion was a definite statement made as to the intention of the Government. Senator Millen has said that in some instances day labour is good, but in other instances it is bad. The inference to be drawn from his remarks is that in some cases contract labour is good, and in other cases it is bad. I want to challenge the Ministry on a principle of theirs. I do not think that any member of the Ministry, or any member of the party supporting them, can get away from the fact that it was their avowed principle to abolish day labour in connexion with all Commonwealth undertakings, and to substitute the contract system. As we are going to build a Capital which, I believe, will be a credit to Australia, and as the Fisher Ministry commenced the work with the system that they avowed and applauded - the day-labour system - I am submitting this amendment to test the sincerity of the Government. The Capital, I contend, can be built under the day-labour system, and I think that it ought to be so built. The replies of Senator Millen this afternoon indicate that the Government, per medium of administration, intend to abolish the system of day labour in building the Capita] if they can. We have to realize that we are getting near the end of a session. I dare say that the Ministry will get into recess; they would like to get there, and are doing their best to that end. Nothing that may happen will probably prevent them from realizing their desire. During the recess they will be- able to do anything they like under cover of administration. The Prime Minister has said, time and again, that, as regards legislation, he was hampered by the position in another place, but he was glad to say that, in the Departments, Ministers had full control. Here is an opportunity for us to test the sincerity of the Government on a principle. Senator Findley has interjected that this is not the item on which to raise the issue, but I submit that it is. I say, advisedly, that if there is going to be built a city that will do credit to Australia it can be built under the day-labour system. As the erection of the Capital was commenced under that principle, I contend that it can be continued and completed in the same way. If Senator Millen had been more definite in his replies to questions this afternoon I might not have submitted this amendment. I ask my honorable friends to assist me to carry the proposed reduction, because it is idle for honorable gentlemen who occupy responsible positions to get on the platforms and tell the electors that they are in favour of a certain principle to which they pledged themselves unless they carry out that principle when they are in power.
– They are not in power; they are in office.
– I admit that the Government are in office, and not in power, so far as legislation is concerned. But if they get into recess they will be in office and in power,– and it is during that period that the damage will be done. No matter what attempt may be made it is quite evident that Ministers intend to cling to their positions in order to reach the haven of recess. If ever there was an opportune time to test the principle of day labour it is in connexion with the construction of the city. A Labour Ministry carried out a number of great undertakings in consonance with the principle of day labour as against the contract system. They started the great undertaking of building the Capital under that principle. Are the present Ministry going to depart from that policy? I think they are. The replies of Senator Millen this afternoon indicate they will do so. once they get into the safe haven of recess. He would not make a direct statement, because he knows his position while Parliament is in session, but once it isin recess the Government will use their administrative power to carry out their principle behind the back of Parliament.
– I do not think it was quite fair on the part of Senator Needham to raise this issue on the item for the Federal Capital. It is quite dear to everybody that the two parties here differ, and differ radically, on the question of day labour versus, contract system. We, on this side, have taken up precisely the same attitude with regard to the contract system as the members of the Opposition have taken up with regard to the other system. Between us, therefore, on a matter of principle,. I am afraid that there is a hopeless gulf, and I do not suppose that either of us can change our view. If Senator Needham chose there is practically not one item in the Schedule which he could not have attacked in a similar way. I do not think it was fair on his part to single out the item for the Federal Capital. More than once he used the phrase “ get into recess.” That gives me an opportunity to say that I cordially agree with the remarks of Senator Russell about the more than desirability, practically the necessity, for this Government, or, for that matter, any other Government, to formally enunciate a definite scheme with regard to .the building of the Capital. I agree with the honorable senator that we ought not to go on voting year by year, varying sums, that the time has come, even if it had not come before, when we ought to be able to say, “Here is our scheme; it involves an expenditure of so much money; we intend to expend the money over a certain period.” I venture to say, on behalf of the Government, that if we do get into recess we will certainly give to that point very earnest consideration, and I think I may give my assurance that if the Government meet Parliament next session we will, with regard to the building of the Capital, come forward with a definite statement as to what we mean. Senator Needham knows that the matter is fixed and certain, as far as we are concerned. I hope that it is irremovable. I trust that he will recognise the position, and will not do anything to sacrifice this expenditure, which must, at any rate, go on for the present.
– I do not wish the Committee to think that I am making any attack on the site of the Federal Capital, or on the expenditure. I have proposed this amendment with the object of extracting from the Minister a definite statement as regards an important principle. I have not been successful in doing so, and, therefore, I shall by way of protest stick to my amendment.
– With regard to the question of Senator Rae with respect to bricks, I may say that a good deal of experimental work has been going on with the object of finding good brick-making material. At last some has been found, and excellent bricks can be made. Hitherto we have been working with open kilns, but we are going to put up Hoffman kilns, at a cost of about £30,000. The amount required this year is £10,327, and £3,327 has already been spent. The kilns will admit of tile-making as well as brick-making. I should like to point out, with regard to the whole subject, that it would no doubt be desirable to give an estimate of expenditure, but it is impossible for me to do so now. It will be wise to lay down a system of expenditure for the future. These are practically all items preliminary to the construction of the Capital itself. Certain buildings have to go up, such as administrative quarters, power plant, a dam across the Cotter River for water supply purposes, sewerage, and other matters.
– Has the Minister any definite information about the proposal for cement manufacture?
– Yes; the information is as follows -
The estimated cost of cement works for a. 50,000-barrel (per annum) plant is £40,000. The expenditure is not likely to exceed , £10,000, because the machinery will take over a year to install. Not much of the plant can be expected for delivery before next June. Geological report by Pittman, Government Geologist, New South Wales ; and Mahoney, Melbourne University; and Griffith Taylor. Limestock rocks sampled and analyzed. Shales also analyzed by Department of Mines, Victoria. Portland cement then manufactured therefrom in experimental furnaces. Results give high efficiency tests. Gibson (consulting engineer, cement manufacture) advises 50,000-barrel plant. Estimated consumption of Portland cement within ten years, 560,000 barrels. Estimated cost of cement at works, 10s. 3d. per barrel (six barrels to ton), after providing sinking fund and interest to write off capital cost in ten years. Present price of cement at Queanbeyan, 14s. 6d. per ton. Saving on 560,000 barrels , £112,000.
– I should like to ask for some information concerning the vote of £40,000 for quarantine. Can the Minister give us the items, so that we may know how the money is to be spent?
– I should like to know how much of this money is to be expended in providing a new site for the quarantine ground in New South Wales? I understand that the present ground is not considered to be in a satisfactory condition, and that attention has been given to the desirableness of acquiring a new area.
– How would it be to put the quarantine ground on Goat Island?
– I do not know, except that to do so might seem to be in accordance with the way the Government have been acting in connexion with the smallpox business. Is any of this money intended to provide for the removal of the New South Wales Quarantine Station! Those who read the New South Wales newspapers will be aware that, some time ago, patients escaped, and might have spread an alarming epidemic all over Australia.
– I have the information which Senator Pearce has asked for in regard to quarantine. It states -
The plans for these stations are now being prepared, and exact estimates cannot be given until the plans are completed and the details Worked out. The Sydney Animal Quarantine Station will have to be removed to give place to the Zoological Gardens.
General Quarantine Stations.
Jetty, £2,610; road , £1,250; isolation hospital, observation block, caretaker’s quarters, detention accommodation, disinfection, £6,055. Total, £9,915.
Thursday Island -
Jetty, £2,562; isolation hospital, caretaker’s cottage, administration block, £2,890. Total,£5,452.
Isolation hospital, attendant’s quarters, observation block, administrative block, £4,760; motor boat, £600; other minor works, £250. Total, £5,710.
The above are exact estimates, furnished by the Home Affairs Department.
Isolation hospital, block water supply and jetty, caretaker’s quarters, £2,250.
This statement has been furnished by the Home Affairs Department, but is now under consideration.
Complete station, including - Isolation hospital and observation block, caretaker’s quarters, water supply, detention accommodation, administrative disinfection block (rough estimate), £4,000.
The plans now being prepared.
The principal policy of the Department for the forthcoming year is to get the stations around the northern coast, namely, Brisbane, Townsville, Thursday Island, Darwin, and Broome, built; these are urgently required. These stations account for £27,327 of the £40,000.
Hobart. - No satisfactory accommodation exists at this port, and it is intended to provide -
Isolation hospital and observation block, disinfection block, attendant’s quarters, kitchen and dining accommodation (rough estimate), £3,000.
Fremantle. - Several important works will be taken in hand as soon as the question of the site of the Naval Base is settled. If the quarantine station is to remain where it is then there will be necessary -
Water supply scheme, kitchen and dining accommodation, extra detention accommodation, about £3,000.
If the station has to be removed as the result of any decision with regard to the Naval Base, then a cost of anything up to £15,000 or £20,000 may ultimately be necessary.
Bunbury. - There will be required here -
Disinfecting station, caretaker’s quarters, and other buildings (rough estimate), £1,000.
Extra dormitory block, £2,000.
Completion of disinfecting block, £1,000.
Extra hospital accommodation, £1,500; completion of disinfecting laundry buildings now in progress and of dining-room block now in progress, £2,000. Total, £3,500.
Grand total, £44,327.
The above represents the work contemplated. Some of the work will remain uncompleted at the end of the year, and estimates have been framed with that certainty in view.
.- - Can the Minister inform the Senate when the Quarantine Station at Townsville willbe completed?
– I am unable to say that, because we are only making provision at the present time.
– The work is in progress.
– If the honorable senator will address a communication to me, I shall be glad to obtain the information.
– As to the vote for lighthouses, I point out that the sum seems to be small, considering that we have taken over lighthouses. Last year the amount on the Estimates was merely for work already taken in hand by the States. Since that time we have had a report by Commander Brewis, who has recommended a large number of new lights. As the amount proposed is just the same as last year’s vote, it cannot include any money for the new lights. A Director of Lighthouses has been appointed, at a salary of £1,000 a year. I should like to know whether the Government intend to act on Commander Brewis’ report, or whether this sum simply provides for ordinary maintenance ?
– I have a serious matter to mention connected with the lighthouse business. Can the Minister tell us whether improvements are contemplated in the service as regards the treatment of the officials who look after the lights ? I have had personal knowledge of some of those engaged as lighthouse-keepers, and I know that the conditions existing in some States are simply scandalous. In the first place, I contend that these men are not paid well enough. Secondly, they are labouring under serious disabilities. Lighthouses whichare off the mainland are frequently difficult of approach on account of there being no haven. The men are compelled to pay heavy fares to get away for holidays, and they suffer from serious inconveniences with respect to educational facilities for their children, and in being removed from one lighthouse to another. Instead of a common-sense course being adopted to provide furnished dwellings, the lighthouse-keepers have to take their furniture from one place to another. It is knocked about, and frequently destroyed, by the primitive means available for landing at these places. Very frequently they have to get their supplies of perishable products, such as vegetables and potatoes, in the most haphazard way, and these are sometimes partially or wholly destroyed without any compensation being given to the lighthouse-keepers. I have said that they have to pay excessive fares for being taken to and from their lighthouses, and I know of one case in which a man allowed his leave to accumulate for a term of years, because if he had taken his holidays when they were due he would not have had the means to enjoy them in view of the cost of removing himself and his family from the lighthouse. It will not be possible to entirely avoid some of these inconveniences, because of the places on which some of our lighthouses are erected, but wellconsidered measures should be taken to provide adequate payment, and the most liberal conditions possible for those engaged in this arduous and trying occupation. Some people imagine that lighthousekeepers have little to do beyond keeping their watch, but in some cases the lighthouses are undermanned, and in painting the structures and constantly cleaning the windows those in charge of them are kept constantly busy. There are so many disabilities attaching to the occupation that it is not surprising to hear that some of the best men are unwilling to continue in the position of lighthousekeepers, and there are complaints also of favoritism in connexion with appointments made in the service. The low wages of all but the top-rank men, and the arduous conditions of the service, are notorious to those acquainted with the facts. I hope that the Commonwealth will set a better example than the States have hitherto done in the treatment of these men. We should recollect that it is trying, even to the sanity of men, to be isolated for years on these miserable, storm-swept spots. They perform some of the most necessary works that could be performed in the interests of the community and of all who have to navigate our coasts, and they should re- ceive exceptionally liberal treatment. In the case of one man, who had a family, and was stationed on Solitary Island, I know that he was told that he might leave his family ashore if he did not like the conditions under which they would have to live at the lighthouse. If he did so it would have been necessary to board them out at great expense, and he would have been deprived of the comforts of his home. If single men only are employed, their position is extremely trying when they have no other society than that of their companions.
– These men ought to be compelled to take leave of absence.
– Just so; but if they are compelled to take leave of absence, they should be given the means of getting away from their lighthouses.
– That follows, of course
– I can mention the case of a man who was stationed at the lighthouse on South Solitary Island on the New South Wales coast for some years in excess of the time a man is supposed to remain in such a place. While at the lighthouse his daughter, a young woman, eighteen years of age, took ill with typhoid fever and died. The island is only an acre or two in extent, and the corpse had to be kept in the lighthouse building, occupied by the family, for several days before any means could be provided for its removal to the mainland. Such primitive conditions are, in this age, a disgrace to any civilized community. The lighthouse-keepers should have periodical holidays, and the fares to be paid for taking them from their lighthouses should not be at the discretion of the shipping companies, as they are at the present time. The man to whom I referred as having allowed his leave to accumulate was told ultimately that under the regulations he had forfeited his leave by not taking advantage of it when it was due. I hope that nothing of this kind will obtain under the Commonwealth management of this important service.
– I am in thorough sympathy with all that has been said by Senator Rae. I recognise that lighthouse-keepers have to spend a very lonely life, that they should be well remunerated, and should be given proper holidays. A supervisor of lightbouses has been appointed in the person of Mr. Ramsbotham, and four men are to’ be appointed to supervise different portions of the coast. It is believed that those in charge of all our lighthouses will be much more in touch with headquarters than they have been in the past. There was a vote of £15,000 put down, under this heading last year, but only about one-half of the amount was’ spent. The balance is being re-voted this year, and £7,462 is a new vote for the year. I shall have a note taken of the remarks made by honorable senators, and we will send them to the Minister of Trade and Customs, under whose charge the ‘lighthouses are. ‘ The total amount of the vote is £15,000. Of this amount £7,538 is a re-vote, which will be absorbed by the following works, which are almost completed : -In Bass Strait, alteration to light at Gabo Island, new optical apparatus at Wilson’s Promontory, new light at Citadel Island, and a new light at Cape Liptrap. The sum .of £7,462 for new services covers the construction of steel towers for lights at Westpoint, Tasmania, and on the inner passage of the Great Barrier Beef at Clark Island, Piper Island, Chapman Island, T. T. Reef, Heath Beef, Dhu Beef, and Coquet Island; also at Emery Point, Northern Territory, and at Cape Don. The total cost of the scheme, as outlined by Commander Brewis, is estimated at: New lights and alterations to existing lights, £319,000, and four lighthouse steamers, £240,000, or a total of £559.000. It is proposed to spread the Cost of new lights and alterations over a period of six years, averaging an annual expenditure of £50,000.
.- I understand that Mr. Ramsbotham has been appointed to the position of Director of Lighthouses. I believe that he is a good man. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has said that four supervising officers have also been appointed.
– Four are to be appointed, and two of .them hae already been appointed.
– If these appointments’ have been made, perhaps the Vice-President of the Executive Council will mention the names of those who have been appointed.
– I have heard casually that Messrs. Pym and Bolger, have been appointed, and two others will be appointed later on. Who they will be I do not know.
Senator MULLAN (Queensland) [9.511. - I should like to have further details with regard to the lighting of the Queensland coast. .Any one who is acquainted with that coast will know how dangerous it is. Only a couple of years ago we had, in the loss of the Tongala, one of thegreatest of the tragedies of the seas. Some years previously the Quetta was lost further north on the Queensland coast. If the coast had been properly lighted, these disasters might have been avoided. Certain recommendations, I understand, have been made for the better lighting of the coast from Cairns to Thursday Island ; but the Minister has not yet mentioned anything that is proposed to be done. When the Tongala went down the party to which Senator McColl now belongs made an attack upon the Labour party, and said that the loss of that vessel was due to the neglect of the Labour party to properly light the coast. That, of course, was entirely wrong ; but now that the honorable senator’s party are in power, I should like to know what they propose to do to render more safe the navigation of that part of our coast.
– I am not aware that the members of any party made an attack upon the Labour party because of neglect to properly light the Queensland coast. It is almost a pity that we cannot discuss these Estimates without such references. I may inform the honorable senator that the steel towers to be erected along the inner passage of the Great Barrier Beef will all be erected on the coast-line north of Cairns.
– How much expenditure is involved in that?
– It is estimated that the ten steel towers proposed to be erected will cost £7,462. As seven of these are to be erected on the Queensland coast, they will cost about £1,000 each.
– The Minister has stated that it is rather unfortunate that reference should be made on these Estimates to political statements made outside. I agree that it is rather unfortunate that members of the party to which the honorable senator belongs should stoop so low as to try to make political capital out of such an unfortunate disaster as the wreck of the Yongala. It is well known that when that disaster took place members of the honorable senator’s party were the first in the field to lay the cause of it at the door of the Labour party because they had not done more than they did in lighting the Queensland coast. That is why I direct attention now to the necessity of the Government of which the honorable senator is a member doing something to provide the necessary lights on that coast. Progress reported.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I take this opportunity to thank the Opposition for the assistance which they have given the Government in connexion with the Bill which we have just been considering. I recognise that they have given us cordial assistance, and that it is entirely due to their efforts that we have made such progress. I am also obliged to those honorable senators who agreed to forego their private business to enable us to proceed with the consideration of the measure. I hope and believe that we shall dispose of it to-morrow.
.- Upon 2nd October, at my instance, a motion was carried in this Senate that certain correspondence’ between the Military Board and the Head-Quarters Staff of the 6th Military District, Hobart, be laid on the table of the Library. Upon making inquiries of an officer there to-day, I was informed that the correspondence has not yet been tabled. Will the Honorary Minister kindly expedite its production? In my opinion, sufficient time has already elapsed to enable it to be tabled.
.- After the very gentlemanly and courteous manner in which the Honorary Minister has spoken of the conduct of the Opposition and private members, I would like to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he will visit Bunyip, and contradict the statements which he made there in respect to the obstructive tactics of the Opposition in this branch of the Legislature? I am. sure that if he were to do such a handsome act, we would forgive him a good many of his past sins.
– As this matter has beenso repeatedly mentioned, I have merely to say that I have not on any occasion referred to the Opposition in this Chamber as being obstructive.
– In regard to the request preferred by. Senator Ready, I wish to assure him that there has been no delay’ whatever in the matter he mentioned. The motion which he carried did not affect me. It affected the Minister of Defence. Whatever cause may have prevented the earlier production of the papers in question, if I can do anything to remove it, he has my assurance that I will do so. As a matter of fact, I will seethe Minister of Defence either to-night or to-morrow morning, and tell him what the honorable senator has said.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131030_senate_5_71/>.