5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills re ported : -
Supply Bill (No. 4).
Excise Tariff (Sugar) Bill.
Sugar Bounty Bill.
– In respect to a Bill which I understand is to come before the Senate in connexion with a proposed loan, and in respect of which the Government took a certain course in another place, I desire to ask the Honorary Minister whether it is proposed to take the same course here?
– If Senator Pearce really requires an answer, I hope that he will allow me to answer him by asking a question. What concerns me much more is what is the attitude of the Opposition in the Senate to the Bill?
– That is modesty.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the Senate been called to the scandalous and disgraceful conduct which took place in the city of Melbourne-
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to use that sort of language in asking a question.
– That has nothing to do with Parliament.
– This took place in Melbourne last night, sir. Am I not in order in asking a question ?
– The honorable senator is entitled to ask a question, but he must not make any comment or express any opinion in doing so, nor must he apply any adjective to alleged facts. He must confine himself to asking for information.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the Senate been called to the conduct which took place in the city of Melbourne last night, when a gang of political ruffians bludgeoned a Loan Bill through the House of Representatives?
– Order ! The honorable senator is not entitled to put a question in that form.
– I ask the Honorary Minister if it is not a fact that the progress report of the Royal Commission on the pearl shelling industry was laid on the table of another place on the 29th October ? Further, is it the intention of Ministers to lay a copy of the report on the table of the Senate, or do they purpose to ignore this branch of the Legislature, so far as that important paper is concerned ?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the Government cannot afford to ignore this branch of the Legislature. So far as I can speak as a senator, I will see that it is not ignored. I shall ask. why a copy of the report has not been laid on the table of the Senate as well as on the table of the other House.
Emergency Calls : Public Telephones
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council made further inquiries of the PostmasterGeneral as to whether or not there is a possibility of the electrical staff of the Department devising some means whereby calls for assistance in the event of accident or illness may receive preference?
– Inquiries are being made, but there has been no time yet to receive a reply.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General see that the number of public telephones on our central railway stations are added to? May I be permitted, sir, to point out that, although the averages may not be high, most of those who use the public telephones are on their way to a train and have not very much time to spare. It is quite common to see as many as eight or ten persons waiting to use the public telephones, and, as the trains have to depart in a few minutes, very often those persons have to go away without conveying what might be an urgent or important message. I ask that the number of public telephones on the Flindersstreet and Spencer-street stations be added to.
– I shall have pleasure in bringing the matter before the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council be good enough to inform the Senate and an anxious community when that muchboasted progressive piece of legislation in the shape of the new postage stamp is to be operative? Can he give us some information on that matter ?
– I shall have to obtain the information for the honorable senator.
– In the absence of the Leader of the Senate, I ask Senator Clemons if any further information has been obtained from the Prime Minister in connexion with a question I asked yesterday? I pointed out that the Prime Minister had made the statement twice that if the Fisher Government had been returned to office they would have increased the taxation on the people, and I wanted to know from the Prime Minister in what direction they would have increased the taxation.
– How many times has he said that?
– Twice this week.
– If he says it a third time the cock will begin to crow.
– The Minister of Defence promised yesterday that he would obtain from his leader the information I asked for.
– As the matter happens to have come within my personal knowledge, I can assure Senator Needham that his question was remitted to the Prime Minister in the form in which he put it, and I have no hesitation in telling him that an answer will be forthcoming.
– It may possibly be forthcoming before this sitting closes. May I be permitted to say, sinceSenator Needham has referred to the absence of Senator Millen, that my colleague is absent this morning for a time - for a short time only I hope -on very urgent public business.
– I did not reflect on his absence.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs give the Senate any idea of when the detailed map of Australia, which has been under consideration for several years, will be made available to the public?
– I have.no information about the map, but will be very glad to make inquiries and inform the honorable senator.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Federal Capital City : Agreement between the Minister for Home Affairs, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and Mr. W. B. Griffin.
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Promotion of
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister,upon notice -
– The decision of the Government has not yet been announced.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I have to ask that the question should be postponed as it has been impossible to obtain an answer this morning. I would remind honorable senators that there is always a difficulty in obtaining replies to questions on Friday morning.
– Arising out of the reply toSenator Ready, I wish to ask the Honorary Minister whether the Government have any intention of leasingany of the supposed oil-bearing lands to private firms or syndicates, or do they intend to retain them in their own hands?
– You are referring to the fourth question on the noticepaper.
– I was just going to say that I could not connect the question with the answer I gave.
– I would remind honorable senators that yesterday I gave a ruling that questions arising out of answers to questions on the notice-paper are not in order. That would unduly extend the privilege which honorable senators have of asking questions without notice. A further question at this stage is only permissible for elucidating the answer given.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon.notice. -
– The answer is-
In the opinion of the Government the time and expense involved in the lengthy personal inspections which the Commission have been making in the Territory, and which they proposed to continue for a considerable period, are not necessary or justifiable. The Commission have, therefore, been requested to furnish their report as soon as possible.
– Arising out of the answer, can the Honorary Minister inform the Senate what is the position of the members of the Commission so far as their engagement or appointment by the Government is concerned ? Will that be terminated, or will they be in a state of indecision ?
– I have already ruled that it is not permissible to ask, without notice, a question arising out of the answer to a question on the business paper.
– Is that a new ruling, sir?
– No; I gave a similar ruling yesterday. If that course were permitted, there would be no limit to the number of questions which might be asked. Honorable senators have an ample opportunity of asking questions without notice during the time when notices of motion or questions are permissible. If the rule were extended in this way the number of questions without notice might be interminable.
– I shall be glad to tell Senator Blakey privately.
– I do not wish to challenge your ruling, sir, but to ask whether that is an inflexible rule to be observed in all cases ? I do so because of the fact that so many times the answer to a question is delivered by the Minister in such an indefinite way that one does not know what he means.
The PRESIDENT. I have already said that at this stage it is only permissible to ask a question for the purpose of elucidating the answer to a question on notice or to make plainer what the Minister means, but to ask a question for further or new information is not in order.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable senator, I can only make the same statement as I made just now in replying to a question put by Senator Ready. The Minister has been unable to obtain the information this morning, because it is Friday morning. If Senator Russell will repeat the question on Wednesday next - -
– I will bring the matter up on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– If the Minister is in a position to answer the question today I will suggest to him that he should do so.
Motion (by Senator Ready) agreed to -
That a return be laid on the table of the Library showing stock ofall classes now in the course of being seasoned in the timber storage yard at Maribyrnong.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to -
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting that the House of Representatives give leave to the Honorable Joseph Cook and the Honorable Kins; O’Malley to attend and be examined by the Select Committee on the case of Mr. H. Chinn.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from. 30th October, vide page 2710):
Divisions 1 to 6 (Home Affairs), £1,120,768.
.- I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not present, although I know that he has very good reason for being absent. Nevertheless, I feel that I must ask that the Committee should be informed as to why a vote of £8,000 is required in connexion -with Garden Island. A few days ago I brought before the Minister a question, which, I think, is deserving of some attention. I pointed out that the Garden Island establishment contains, among other things, a dockyard and a repairing dock. These were very necessary for the ships of the Imperial Fleet, because it was the only repairing establishment which they had in Sydney. The position, however, has undergone a complete alteration since the departure of the Imperial ships from our waters, inasmuch as we have Cockatoo Island, which is not only suitable for undertaking new works, but also for effecting repairs. If we are going to maintain a repairing establishment at Garden Island, as well as at Cockatoo Island, we shall require two sets of engineering officers to run them. I cannot see why that is necessary. Garden Island serves other purposes besides that of a repairing establishment. In addition to the dockyard, ‘ there are on the island stores, a depot, the hospital, and, I think, a gaol . Now that the Imperial establishment has been done away with it seems to me that we should determine whether it is not possible to concentrate all the engineering work at Cockatoo Island. If honorable members will refer to the ordinary Estimates they will see that that engineering staff is a pretty costly one. To my mind, it is not wise to duplicate these establishments if we can avoid it. We should not perpetuate a duplication of staffs and of works. If the repairing work can be undertaken at Cockatoo Island it should be carried out there. The Government are in control of that island, and they can say that the repairing of ships in commission shall take precedence of all other work. I should like to know whether in this item of £8,000 any expenditure is proposed on the workshops at Garden Island ?
– In this item no provision is made for expenditure upon workshops. The matters covered by the proposed vote include a store for gun mountings, the general manager’s residence, officers’ quarters, and a dining-hall for workmen. I will bring the question of the necessity for retaining Garden Island before the Minister of Defence as soon as he returns to the Senate, and will request him to supply Senator Pearce with an answer to his remarks during the day.
– When Senator Millen was replying upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I understood him to say that the sheer-legs on Garden Island which belonged to the Imperial establishment, are the only sheer-legs available for lifting heavy machinery out of the holds of vessels, and that it is proposed to construct a wharf into deep water so that stronger sheer-legs may be added to that establishment. In view of the want of knowledge on the part of the Vice-President of the Executive Council regarding this matter, I would suggest that the item be postponed.
– I have just been informed that this vote wa3 reduced by £2,000 in another place. I have no objection to postponing the item, but as the Committee will have the control of the whole of these Estimates, and the matter can therefore be brought up at a later stage, I fail to see that any useful purpose will be achieved by adopting that course.
Subdivision 1 of Division 5 postponed.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (11.28]. - I would direct attention to the item in this division, which reads, “Victoria Barracks, Melbourne - office accommodation - towards cost new service, £3,598; re-vote, £3,902; total, £7,500.” A paragraph recently appeared in the press, stating that it is proposed to build# a new wing to the Victoria Barracks, and* to instal the Naval Administration there. I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether that is the explanation of this item ?
– I understand that the premises now occupied by the Naval Board in Lonsdale.. street have been leased for a period of two years. Having seen in the newspapers a paragraph to the effect that it is intended to spend £25,000 on the Victoria Barracks, so that the Minister may be able more expeditiously to carry on his work there, it has occurred to me that it can scarcely be regarded as economy if the premises in Lonsdale-street are to be vacated, and we have to pay rental for them during the remainder of the term for which they have been leased. Do the Government propose to proceed forthwith with the alterations to the Victoria Barracks; and, if so, is it anticipated that the necessary accommodation there will be available to the Minister before the expiration of the lease of the premises in Lonsdale-street !
– This item, as Senator Pearce will know, is for the purpose of new wings at the Victoria Barracks to accommodate the Naval section of central defence administration. The present premises are insufficient to meet the requirements^ It was embarrassing to have the two branches of the Department such a distance away from each other, involving great loss df time to the Minister and the officers. The total cost of the additions will be £15,000.
– There is a foot-note to the Estimates showing that the ‘total will* be £25,000.
– I am now informed that the total will be £25,000. Of that sum, £7,500 will be for military accommodation, and £7,500 for the Navy. The .idea is to have. these premises available before the lease of the present Navy office expires.
– When does the lease expire ?
– It is proposed to have the new building completed so that the staff may go automatically out of the one into the other.
– Are we .to understand that as soon as these buildings are erected at the Victoria Barracks the Government is to vacate the premises leased in Lonsdale-street, and move immediately, irrespective of what we have to pay for the leased premises?
– The- proposal is to vacate the one place and move into the other at the termination of the lease-.
– This item is absolutely misleading as it appears in the scheduler The proposal has emanated from the pre>sent Minister.. There was no vote on the Estimates for the purpose last year. But the schedule makes it appear that -the amount is a re-vote. There may have been a vote on the last Estimates for additional -office accommodation for the military side, but there was no proposal for additional accommodation of the Navy Administration at the Victoria Barracks. Yet the schedule would make it appear that this is a commitment of the late Government. No proposition to move, the Naval Administration from Lonsdalestreet to the Victoria Barracks was made by the late Administration. Consequently, this was npt a commitment of theirs. The item ought to be altered so as to show that the only demand made by the late Government was for additional accommodation from the military side at the Victoria Barracks, and that the further proposals to house the Navy Administration there are new.
– I have never been enthusiastic for military expenditure, but it seems to’ me that £25,000 is, to say the least, a substantial amount for additions to the Victoria
Barracks to house the Navy Branch of the Defence Department. A sum of £25,000 would go a long way in other directions. There are many useful things that might be done for half that amount. We ought to consider whether we might not more judiciously expend a portion of the sum in other directions. People are clamouring for telephone accommodation out back. It is just as essential to accommodate them as the Navy officers.
– You did not pay much attention to the claims of “out-back” while you were at the Post Office.
– That is not cor.rect. The Fisher Government did more than the whole of the previous Commonwealth Administrations ever did for the people out-back with regard to telephone and telegraph accommodation and mail services.
– That is not saying much.
– The honorable senator is not serious when he makes that statement, because it is admitted by many of those who are vigorously opposed to Labourism in any shape or form that no Government did so much for the people in the rural portions of Australia as the “late Labour Government did. I shall test the feeling of the Committee on this matter. I have a slight idea of the importance which the Naval and Military officers attach to themselves. Some of them seem to labour under the hazy belief that they are beings altogether distinct from the average human.
– A special creation.
– Yes, and that they ought to live and have their being in an atmosphere altogether distinct from the common or garden citizen. I do not expect that this money will be thrown away, but if these officers get any encouragement whatever in regard to buildings, one cannot forecast the amount which they will demand in the future. The Minister of Defence seems to have been very much worried since he took on the responsibilities of office by having to go from the Victoria Barracks to Lonsdalestreet. The distance is not very great. He can run from the one building to the other very quickly. No doubt, from the defence point of view it would be very much better to accommodate both branches in one building, but, in my opinion, the amount proposed is alto gether too large. It may lead to other expenditure in the same direction. For that reason I move -
That the item, “ Victoria Barracks, Melbourne - office accommodation, towards cost, ^7,500,” be reduced by ^500.
.- I think I can furnish the Committee with reasons justifying the action that has been taken in this matter. The position is this: First of all, the Victoria Barracks is the home of the military side of the Defence Department.- We have also in Lonsdalestreet, Melbourne, a rented building which is the headquarters of the Naval Branch. Then we had somewhere else in a place which I have not yet had time to visit another block of buildings for the Works Branch of the Department. I believe there is also a little side branch blossoming out somewhere else. As a business proposition alone, I submit that this proposal is defensible. Unless we did something of the kind we should have to rent other buildings to provide additional accommodation for a growing Department.
– Is this to be a permanent home for the Department, or is there not to be a home at Canberra?
– For what?
– For the naval section.
– There will certainly have to be a home for the Department in Canberra, if my ideas are carried out. But we cannot have the whole Department there. We shall still want some buildings down here. It is obvious, I think - and I can appeal to Senator Pearce on the point- that the present accommodation is insufficient. That can be claimed without fear of contradiction. We have three important branches of the Department scattered about this city. No one can satisfactorily look after them under these conditions. , It not infrequently happens that when I arn in the middle of papers at the barracks, I receive an urgent call to deal with some important business at the Navy House; in Lonsdale-street. When I am dealing with papers there, business has to be attended to in connexion with works. Then telephone messages have to be sent in order that the papers may be brought to me from the Works Office. It is harassing to have to transact business under these conditions. I put no exaggerated estimate on the value of my time, but I say that no man can administer a Department satisfactorily under these circumstances, and do it or himself justice.
– My point is that £25,000 for temporary premises is too much.
– The premises will not be temporary. If the Committee thinks that we ought to go on renting premises, let me point out the difficulty. I believe that Senator Pearce, while he was at the head of the Department, was trying to find out whether it was possible to obtain a block of buildings somewhere in Melbourne which would meet our requirements. Suitable premises were not to be found in Melbourne. There are, of course, many suitable buildings, but they are held under lease, and it was not possible to find close together the accommodation necessary for the Naval and Military Branches of the Department. There was an opportunity of purchasing the block in which the Navy Office is now housed for £10,000. The .Home Affairs Department could put up an additional block of buildings at the back at a cost of £8,000. The position, therefore, was that we could either spend £18,000 on the present premises or build for ourselves. It appealed to lue as *i very much better business proposition to put £25,000 worth of buildings on our own land - and there is ample room at the corner of the barrack lands in St. K i Ida-road - than to purchase premises which would only meet our immediate requirements. The building which we propose to erect will answer the purpose for an indefinite period.
– Does the honorable senator believe in spending money which will benefit posterity?
– I have no grievance against posterity. I am stating the reasons which have actuated me in including this proposal in the Estimates. In view of this explanation, I ask the Committee to allow the item to pass.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether it is not a fact, as I stated previously in his absence, that the re-vote set down opposite this item is only a re-vote for additional office accommodation for the Military Branch, and that the proposal to house the Naval Staff at the Victoria Barracks is an entirely new one
It is a proposal which he himself has initiated, and not one which the Government inherited from their predecessors.
– I understand that the amount of £3,9.00 was down on the last Estimates for additions for Navy accommodation.
– At Victoria Barracks ?
– Not necessarily at the barracks, but for additional accommodation for the Navy.
– What was down was for additional accommodation for the military side ?
– I am told that is not so.
– Accommodation for the Navy at Victoria Barracks?
– Of the amount set down on the Estimates a sum was made available to provide additional accommodation for the Naval Branch.
– That may be so, but the item in the schedule is ‘ ‘ Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, office accommodation, towards cost, £7,500,” and £3,902 is shown as a re- vote, when as a matter of fact there was no such item on the last Estimates.
– The honorable senator is quite right there. There was an amount of £4,000 on the last Estimates for the purpose of providing additional accommodation for the Naval Branch, but the idea of spending the money at the Victoria Barracks was evidently not in contemplation at that time. That idea, which I consider an excellent one, and claim as my own, enables us to concentrate the Department in one building.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I should like some information on the item “ Hobart and Launceston drill hall and boat shed, Naval Forces, £384. “ Honorable senators representing the other States appear to be suffering from a plethora of good things. I find it necessary, as a representative of Tasmania, to adopt an Oliver Twist attitude, and ask for more. I should like to have some explanation of the singularly small sum put down here for Tasmania.
– It is due to the fact that the late Government did the work for Tasmania. The amount the honorable’ senator complains of is only the balance necessary to complete the work.
– I see that £1,000 is put down for the same purpose at Albany.
– That only means that Tasmania was favoured, and was given drill halls first.
– I should be glad to hear that that is the explanation of the vote to which I have directed attention.
– Senator Pearce is performing a part of my job this morning, and is offering explanations which happen to be correct. The small amount set down in the vote referred to by Senator Bakhap is merely a supplementary amount to. complete work for which provision was made on the last Estimates. Albany is not in the same fortunate position, and is still awaiting the passage of this measure before it will be in the position of Launceston, which can point with pride to the drill hall erected there. Drill halls are being erected at Hobart and at Launceston, and the vote referred to by Senator Bakhap is to meet some supplementary accounts for little additions for which the previous vote was not sufficient.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to the items, “ Fortifications, towards cost £9,201,” and “ North Head, Sydney, Barracks, towards cost, £1,000.” Are these votes intended for the fortifications on North Head? The work was taken in hand by the late Government, and I wish to know if it is to be pushed on in the present financial year.
.- The votes to which the honorable senator has referred are for the. North Head fortifications. The honorable senator will probably remember that the total cost is estimated at £30,000. We are asking, however, for amounts to defray the cost of the part of the work, which it is anticipated’ will be completed in the present financial year.
– I should like to have some information about the_ Lithgow Small Arms Factory. Can the Minister say how many rifles are being turned out there at the present time? According to recent press reports, while a great many parts are being manufactured, the total number of rifles assembled is very small. Can the Minister say what progress is being made in the turning out of rifles in large quantities ?
.- Speaking from memory, the last communication on this subject which I perused supported the statement made by Senator Rae. The number of rifles- being turned out is disappointingly small. So far only 500 completed rifles have been put together. The manager of the factory has himself drawn attention to this, and expressed his disappointment at it. ‘Jio points out that a good deal pf the delay in turning out completed rifles is due to the difficulty of training men in the necessary processes, and also to the disinclination of a number of mechanics, who previously resided in Sydney, to reside at Lithgow. The men become anxious to get back to their old haunts, and it frequently happens that young men, after they have become to some extent skilled in mechanical operations which require to be performed at the factory, return to Sydney, and it is then necessary to train- other men.
– The magnetism of Sydney 1
– Yes; the call of the city. That is one reason which the manager furnishes for the slow progress apparently being made. It is a reason which obviously can be overcome in the process of time. I do not know that anything more can be done in the meantime than to permit the manager of the factory to continue to make the best efforts possible to overcome the difficulties to which he has himself directed attention.
– I regard this as a very important matter. We have in previous years voted an enormous sum in the aggregate for the establishment of this factory. If the love of men for city life is going to render it impossible for us to keep a sufficient staff at Lithgow to do the mechanical work required to secure a fair output of completed rifles, wemust shift the machinery of the city, or provide Lithgow with city conveniences. A satisfactory output of rifles is essential, because men are no good for defence without guns; and if the difficulty cannot be overcome in any other way, we must import mechanics for the work, under a contract to remain for a certain time at Lithgow.
– I do not wish Senator Rae to assume that the desire of men employed at the factory to return to Sydney is the sole cause for the disappointing output of rifles. It is one of the causes. - We can readily understand that, starting from nothing, it takes time to assemble the requisite staff of workmen. Every little cause that tends to deplete the ranks of the workers is serious at first, but it will become of less consequence as time goes on, and as the younger men employed are becoming qualified for higher positions in the factory.
– A technical school might be established.
– The best school for the mechanics required in this factory is the factory itself. I have no doubt that in time the manager will be able to overcome the difficulties to which he has referred. Although the output of the factory is disappointing, there is nothing to cause apprehension. I am not certain that we could not have anticipated what has occurred.
– One difficulty in connexion with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory has not been mentioned by the Minister. The town of Lithgow is situated in a “V “ formed by the mountains, and there is across the “ V “ a lion in the path in the shape of the land monopolist, who absolutely refuses to sell land under any fair conditions whatever. The result is that the town is cooped up at the end of the “V,” and houses can only be obtained at enormous rentals.
– Rents in Sydney are much higher, and the difficultyof getting houses greater.
– I do not think so. If the Minister will make inquiries, I think he will find that house rents are higher at Lithgow than in any other part of New South Wales or of Australia.
When I was last there on a visit of inspection, the rents which I was told were charged were simply disgraceful for the quality of the accommodation provided, and I had under consideration the advisability of the Government providing houses for the employes of the factory. I agree with the Minister that the outlook is not so black as some might imagine. As a matter of fact, the Lithgow Small Arms Factory turns out rifles in far less time than did a factory established by the British Government in India.
– We should be a little ahead of Indians.
– The Indian is capable of being trained just as our men are. I am convinced, from what I was told by the manager of the factory, that the ordinary fitter is quite useless when he arrives at the factory, and has to be trained from the beginning in the work required to be done there. The Lithgow factory turned out rifles . in two years shorter time than the factory established by the British Government in India, although the difficulty of securing the necessary labour was much less in India. I am not disappointed at the result so far, and I feel sure that within the next year or two the factory will get into full going order, but the question of land is undoubtedly one of the lions in the path of the progress of, not only the factory, but every other undertaking.
– I am still not entirely satisfied. It is very cheerful indeed to see the Minister of Defence and the ex-Minister jointly offering reasons why we should feel no alarm. I was very pleased to hear Senator Pearce give the facts regarding the land monopoly, which I intend toaccept from hearsay evidence, but about. which I did not know as much as he has indicated. There is still: another matter which, while I have not detailed information, may be a factor. I am told that the authorities frown on trade unionism. If anti-unionism, combined with land monopoly, could not crush a factory, I would like to know what combined forces could ? I am given to understand that there is a kind of bogus bosses’ union in the district.
-That is not correct.
– I would like to know more about the facts. I am given to understand that there isa kind of union which has a suspicious resemblance to a union of which Senator Millen knew something in the past.
– What is it?
– It is the M.S.U- a bogus union, subsidized by the bosses in order to kill the genuine article.
– That is absolutely incorrect, unless it has been started within the last three months.
– I am not saying that it is on exactly the same lines, but I am informed that there is a kind of union which discriminates against the genuine unionist, or makes it almost impossible for him to join. A number of men who were put on during the régime of the previous Government escaped their obligations by joining an affair to which the contributions are very little, and in which the conditions of membership are very light.
– Is it a branch of the Independent Workers Union?
– I am told that it is virtually a section of that objectionable crowd in Melbourne known as the independent workers. While I do not expect that the Minister knows or hears much about trade unionism, I wish to intimate that I shall try to get more detailed information on the matter to bring forward on another occasion.
– I cannot allow the remarks of Senator Rae to pass. Before getting any information he has already prejudged the case. As I was the Minister under whose auspices the institution was started, and the greater number of the men put on, I say that his statements are absolutely wrong and grossly unfair. He has accepted “tittle-tattle” from somebody.
– From a good labour man.
– I think that I could place the man in one who was refused employment at the factory, and who has circularized the unions of New South Wales, making statements which are absolutely false.
– I do not know the man whom you refer to. It was one of the State members who told me.
– The honorable senator’s statement bears such a close resemblance to the statement circulated by that man that I am pretty sure that he is the source from which it came.
– It was one of the State members who told me.
– He probably gave the information to the honorable senator as the result of representations made by the man who was refused employment, and at once set on foot an agitation that he was rejected because he was a trade unionist. He was not rejected for anything of that kind, and he has made statements regarding the union there. The late Government intimated to the management of the factory as well as to other managers that he was to adopt the principle of preference to unionists in securing his employes, and he did. Over 75 per cent. of the men employed there were at the time of their joining members of various unions throughout the State. But certain unionists in Lithgow, because the men coming from other States did not happen to be members of the local union, objected to their getting employment. I instituted inquiries, and found that the men were unionists, but did not happen to belong to the Lithgow union. The man who was refused employment at the factory was secretary to one of the Lithgow unions, and he insisted that these men should be compelled to join the Lithgow union. I refused to be a party to anything of the kind. I said that so long as the manager was satisfied that the men belonged to a union that was all that I desired. After the staff was collected the men naturally desired to have a union of their own, because this is the only industry of the kind in Australia. They formed a union to which, I believe, over 90 per cent. of the employes of the factory now belong. To say that it is a bogus union is to reflect on the. unionists who came from every part of Australia, and who were genuine members of trade unions when they got employment.
– How many of them are there ?
– I cannot say offhand. Not only is that so, but the factory union is affiliated with the Eight Hours’ Demonstration Committee at Lithgow. It is a reflection on the unionists of Lithgow if they have allowed a blackleg union, as Senator Rae would call it, to . be affiliated with them. I am in a position to say that the rule of preference to unionists, which was enforced by the late Government, was observed by the manager, so far as he was able to do so:
In a number of cases he had to get in certain specialists who did not happen to be unionists, and there, of course, the rule did not apply. There is justification for a union of men employed in the factory, because it is the only factory of the kind in Australia, aud is distinct from all factories in the iron-work trade. It is registered in New South Wales as a genuine trade union, is affiliated with the Eight Hours’ Demonstration Committee at Lithgow, and takes its part in all 11111011 matters in the State. It is unfortunate that a member of the Senate has made these statements when, if he had inquired of me, he could have learned that they were inaccurate, and set on foot by a man whose animus is attributable to the fact that he was refused employment at the factory.
– I am not going to dispute what Senator Pearce has said, but he had no right to accuse me of being grossly unfair, because I had not spoken from my own knowledge, but had said that I had received information which led me to form that opinion. Of course, unless one can investigate a matter for himself he must accept information, and the information I had on this subject came from a State member. As I did not refer to him before, I shall not mention his name. now.
.- I desire to get . a little information regarding the item of £5,457 for stabling and other buildings at Moore Park. I am given to understand that great objection is taken to the Commonwealth establishing its stabling so close to the habitations of many people. It is considered that a place could easily be found a little further away from the very centre of the residential parts of Sydney for the stables and other buildings. Have any representations been made to the Minister, and, if they have been refused, is the Department still going on with the erection of the stables ?
.- As_ the item on the Estimates will show, provision is made to carry on a work which was authorized in the last “financial year, but as the result of representations which have been made to me by civic and other authorities I have directed that the work shall be brought to a stand-still for the present, and shall not be proceeded with until I can look into the whole question. The civic representations do appeal to me very much against the undesirability of placing in the midst’ of a thickly-populated area stables for a large number of horses. It seems to me that it ought to be possible to devise some better means for meeting the requirements of the military, and 1 am now looking into the matter.
– I observe an item of £4,287 for the Cordite Factory at. Maribyrnong. A little while ago the Prime Minister, in speaking at a. public meeting, sneered at the alleged interest of the Labour party in defence, and he said, “ Why did not they, instead of starting clothing and saddlery factories, make provision for the manufacture of cordite in Australia? “ As a matter of fact, during last year I appointed a Committee to go into the question of manufacturing cordite for big guns, and before I left office it had * reported in favour of its manufacture here. It reported that by an extension of the present plant big-gun cordite could be manufactured, and the manager said that if that extension were made he could manufacture cordite, not only for big guns, but for the small arms, at a lower cost than that at which he is now making it. The Committee recommended an extension of the factory, but there is no provision for such extension in these Estimates. Yet the Prime Minister goes about the country sneering at the late Government. We did not have the opportunity to act upon the report. It was only received just before we went out of office. The Minister has framed his Estimates without providing for an extension as recommended. Therefore, the Prime Minister is in this matter endeavouring to bluff the public in order to score off the late Government.
– Has the Minister never made the report public?
– I do riot cavil at the report not having been made public. It discloses confidential information as to our reserves of ammunition and matters of that kind, and therefore it is not advisable that it should be published. It may be that for good reasons the Minister has decided not to extend the factory, but it does not come very well from the Prime Minister to sneer at the late Government for not doing something which they were not in a position to do. When we framed our Estimates wehad not the report in our possession. The present Government have the report in their possession, hut are not going on with the proposed extension, although the Committee reported as to its feasibility and its necessity, and pointed out that it would lessen the cost of manufacturing cordite.
– I do not know that it is desirable to hammer this point too much, but I hardly think that Senator Pearce was entirely fair to the Prime Minister in referring to his remarks as he did. The question covered by those remarks was not whether the factory ought to have been started or not, but the fact that, having a certain amount to spend, the previous Government spent it in establishing factories to make those articles which private individuals were already making, instead of spending it in establishing a. factory to make cordite, which nobody was making. It was a very fair criticism of an administrative act of our predecessors.
– It does not square with your action on these Estimates. You have the opportunity now, but you are not going to do it.
– My honorable friend overlooks the original statement, which was that the previous Government spent money which would have been available to establish a cordite factory, in establishing factories to make those things which were already being made in the country by private individuals. My honorable friend had three years in which to act.
– How could we act before we knew that it was feasible ?
– My honorable friend had as much time to find out whether it was feasible to start a cordite factory as to find out whether it was feasible to start a woollen mill, a clothing factory, and a harness factory. It seems to me a fair line of criticism to say that our predecessors, when starting establishments, did put the cart before the horse, or did do something which was not essential, while they neglected to do something whichwas essential.
– The Minister is also neglecting them. He has that which we did not have - information.
– We have not complete information, and I venture to say that the Minister should be a little cautious before accepting as final and conclusive the reports of departmental officers. In fairness to the Prime Minister, I am entitled to point out that in charging my honorable friends with having found time to do things which were not essential, whilst neglecting to do things which were essential, his criticism was justified.
– It seems to me that Senator Pearce has fairly answered in advance the contention of the Minister of Defence. The inquiries made by a Committee appointed for the purpose certainly apply to cordite, whereas the actual processes of manufacture in the case of the woollen and clothing factories are those which are followed by numerous private firms in different parts of the Commonwealth. I can quite understand that the Minister should think that the criticism of his leader is fair, but if it did happen to be fair, it would constitute a most extraordinary departure on his part. I understand that all explosives deteriorate with age, some much more rapidly than others. I, therefore, desire to know whether the cordite manufactured for the small arms is turned out in excess quantities and stored for future use. If so, to what extent is its destruction necessary in order to insure a safe and reliable explosive?
– I cannot give the honorable senator the details as to the quantities, but the policy which is being pursued is one of building up a reserve of stores. I regret that the process of building up that reserve is not quite as rapid as one would like it to be. Nevertheless, that is our policy. That necessarily means that in consequence of deterioration, after the lapse of a certain time, some portion of these stores has tobe destroyed. Examiners are appointed whose duty it is to make examinations of the explosive, and when it is condemned it is destroyed. I cannot say what time elapses before deterioration takes place, but I know that now and again quantities of these explosives are destroyed.
– I wish to impress upon the Minister the necessity for manufacturing big-gun cordite in Australia. This particular class of cordite deteriorates much more rapidly than does the cordite for small arms ammunition. Moreover, we have to recollect that in the first attack. on the Commonwealth, it is quite possible that big-gun ammunition will be more important than will be small arms ammunition. In one year, there was no less than £10,000 worth of big-gun cordite which had to be destroyed.
– It is all imported. It deteriorates apparently for no reason whatever. Deterioration sets in from the time of manufacture, and climatic and other conditions appear to affect it materially. We depend upon obtaining our supply of big-gun cordite from Great Britain. That supply is most irregular. If our communication with the Mother Country were interrupted in time of national emergency, we should be absolutely helpless. It does seem to me, therefore, that tl-e Government should take into their early consideration the advisableness of extending the present Cordite Factory. . I have been informed by the manager of that factory that this could be done at a very small expense. The greater portion of the expenditure would be absorbed in providing a proof ground after the cordite had been manufactured. The subsequent expenditure would not be heavy. I suggest that the Minister should look carefully into this matter because I venture to say that the impracticability of keeping a sufficiently large supply of cordite on hand is one of the weakest links in our defence system. Our only safety lies in having a local source of supply. A reserve is an uncertain guarantee which may disappear in a few short months. I would impress upon the Minister the necessity of giving early consideration to this question. It may be possible to include in the Supplementary Works Estimates an amount for this purpose.
.- I would like the Minister to assure the Committee that the Government will consider the report of the body which was appointed by the ex-Minister of Defence to inquire into this matter. The honorable gentleman said a moment ago that that information was not complete. If that be so, will the Minister hasten its completion ? I think that the statement made by Senator Pearce is a very important one. The Minister smiles. But we have to recollect that, under existing conditions, although we may have the guns, big or small, we may not have cordite. If we are going to have the guns, by all means let us have the cordite and the factory at which to manufacture it. If the information in regard to the manufacture of cordite in Australia- be not complete, will the Minister expedite its completion ?
– I do not know that I need do more than assure the Committee that the mere fact that no action has been taken on the report of the Committee mentioned by Senator Pearce does not imply that I am at all indifferent to the important question which has been raised. Nor do I wish it to be understood that I was in any way reflecting upon the gentlemen who formed that Committee. But it does seem to me that they approached the subjectmatter of their inquiry from the technical side, and that it is necessary to supplement the information which they gathered. I frankly admit that this is one of the matters to which I have not been able seriously to address myself since I assumed control of the Defence Department. But I do not wish it to be understood that it is being overlooked. If I am in office as long as was my predecessor, there will be no necessity for this Committee to ask why there is no cordite factory iu existence in Australia.
– As one who has not had an opportunity of inspecting the Cordite. Factory, I would suggest to the Minister that something might possibly be done in the way of organizing parliamentary visits of inspection to these institutions. To my mind, there is an objection to an honorable senator visiting Commonwealth factories in a private capacity. At the same time, I think that we ought to be brought intoactual contact with the work that is being done there. With this end in view, I suggest that if visits could be arranged to the cordite and clothing factories, they ‘ would prove advantageous. I hope that the Minister will provide some facilities for honorable senators inspecting these institutions.
– If there be any general desire on the part of .honorable senators to pay a collective visit to these factories and that desire is intimated to me, I shall be only be too glad to make the way easy. Personally, if I wished to become acquainted with the working of these factories, I would much prefer to visit them alone rather than in company with a number of others because the managers, in such circumstances, are able to answer one’s own individual inquiries. However, if any number of honorable senators or of members of the other branch of the Legislature desire to visit these factories and care to supply me with the date upon which they wish to make their inspection, I will endeavour to provide the requisite facilities.
– I should like to inquire whether there is any intention on the part of the Government to take steps to establish breeding depots for raising horses for Field Artillery purposes? Is it intended to leave the matter entirely to private enterprise? From all accounts it is extremely difficult to keep up the supply of suitable horses when and where required. I trust that this matter will be considered on its merits, and wholly apart from the question of Government versus private enterprise. It is a matter of whether the Australian Forces can be properly supplied unless steps are taken by the Government to breed horses for this purpose.
– I differentiate between the Government owning horses for artillery purposes and breeding them. As regards the specific question raised by Senator Rae, I have no hesitation in saying that there is no intention on the part of this Government to do anything in the direction of horse-breeding. My predecessor did purchase one or two mares for the purpose of making an initial effort.
– Absolutely no!
– I see a number of foals on the stock list.
– They came from mares which were bought for artillery purposes, and were in foal at the time of the purchase. The Minister has been misinformed, if ho was advised to the effect that mares were bought for breeding purposes.
– Another mare’s nest.
– At any rate, the mares are there, and the foals are there. I certainly do not intend to make arrangements for the breeding of horses for military purposes. Whilst cordially approving of the idea of purchasing our own horses, I do not believe that we can breed as economically as we can purchase. No horse-breeder will deny that in order to breed horses of a particular type you will have to breed a very much larger number than you require. It is only one out of half-a-dozen that will be suitable for the particular purpose. I do not believe that the Defence Department can breed horses as profitably as it can buy them in the open market, because it only requires horses of a particular kind to meet its requirements.
– Although the Minister of Defence may have some experience in horse-breeding, I do not agree with the opinion which he has expressed that the Government .of the Commonwealth cannot breed horses for artillery purposes as economically as it can purchase them from private breeders. I do not think that it is better for the Commonwealth to purchase horses from local buyers as occasion requires. We have in Australia a number of people who have breeding studs. They have not established these places for the good of their health, but as business propositions. They get high-priced stallions and mares, and they sell the fillies and. colts at a good profit. Many of them are making a substantial income out of these establishments. Surely what private individuals can do the Government can do on a much more extensive scale. From time to time thousands of horses will be required, not only for the Defence Department, but also for other Commonwealth Departments. We shall want them for the Post and Telegraph Department, and for various purposes in the Northern Territory, and as the Commonwealth develops, we shall require still more and more horses. Only quite recently horses were at a very high price indeed. It was suggested that there were a few people in Australia who had control of the horse market. I know that a few had’ control of the pig market, and the same class of people would not hesitate to get control of the horse market, and fix their own prices for horses. It is true that I am a strong believer in the principle of Government enterprise as against private enterprise, but I urge that if the present Government is true to its professed desire to economize in various directions, it will realize that it will be economical to abandon the system of purchasing horses, and to pursue the policy commenced by the late Government and fostered by the ex-Minister of Defence. It would be very much better for the people if the Government gave every assistance to the horse-breeding industry. L am certain that if the matter is inquired into in a businesslike way, and a horsebreeding establishment is commenced, and capably and sympathetically managed, we can make as big a success of it as any private individual can. We cau get the best of horses and mares if we pay a suitable price, and we can obtain the services of the very best men to control the establishment. But, of course, if Ministers do not believe in this policy, they might as well abandon the project. I am satisfied that we can get better horses and better results in every way by doing our own horse-breeding than by depending upon haphazard buying from commission agents, because that is what it really means.
– No, it does not.
– What does it mean, then ? Officers are employed by the Department who are commissioned to go out and buy horses. Those officers cannot obtain horses unless they get into touch with the commission agents in different parts of Australia. They have to deal through the middlemen, because you cau rarely obtain horses direct from the breeders. It was the intention of the late Minister to enter upon horse-breeding in a businesslike way. I am satisfied that if the Commonwealth Government pursues that policy, it will have nothing to regret, because it will find that a better quality of horses will be obtained.
– I cau now understand why the Minister of Defence fell in so badly when he first entered the Department in rushing into the press with charges against his predecessor, notably in regard to Cockatoo Island and Cockburn Sound. To-day he has told us that he has been informed by officers of the Department that I had approved of the purchase of mares for breeding purposes. That is ou all-fours with some of the other statements emanating, I am afraid, from certain officers who apparently allow their political bias to influence the information they convey to the Minister.
– I do not think that.
– No such action was ever taken by me, and the officers who told the Minister that were either ignorant, of the true position, or were anxious to give Senator Millen some political shot with which to fire at me. At any rate, they did not trouble to ascertain the true facts, which were these: We decided to do away with the old practice of hiring horses for the Field Artillery, and to purchase our own. Officers were appointed to purchase them, and they did so. They purchased, amongst others, three mares which happened to be in foal. Those mares foaled, and we kept the foals. But I am free to say that that was only the initiation of a scheme whereby we intended to establish breeding stations throughout the Commonwealth, and to breed horses for military purposes. A considerable quantity of data was collected with that end in view. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do. At the present time horse-breeders do not, except in the minority of cases, breed the kind of horses that are required for Field Artillery work. When we had to buy somewhere about 2,000 horses we practically had to honeycomb Australia to get them. We had to send from the northwest of Western Australia down to th«> south of Tasmania, and from Queensland to Victoria, to get them. If that is not sufficient to convince any one of the necessity of having a properly-organized system of supply I do not know what would convince them. In war time the wastage of horses is enormous. As a matter of fact, we have no reserve supply of Field Artillery horses in Australia to-day, and experience a great difficulty in keeping up a normal supply.
– No difficulty at all.
– The Minister will find that officers who purchase for the Commonwealth have reported that there is a difficulty.
– There is no difficulty in getting all we require, because horses are shipped every day to India. «*
– That is one of the causes of the difficulty.
– It is a matter of price, then.
– Buyers come from Japan and India to purchase suitable horses for military purposes. We have in the north of Australia, the west of Queensland, the east of Western Australia, and the west of New South Wales, vast areas of country that are the bestbreeding grounds for horses in the world. The Commonwealth requires horses, not merely for artillery purposes, but also for the policing of the Northern Territory and the Post and Telegraph Department. If any of the horses which we bred were unsuitable for Commonwealth requirements, we should find a ready sale for them in the markets of Australia. We could sell every such horse, and could thereby obtain a revenue that would pretty well make the’ breeding establishments self-supporting. In addition to that, I do not see why we should not assist the Mother Country in this matter of the supply of horses. At the present time, the Indian Government is pretty badly robbed in the buying of horses in Australia. Honorable senators have only to compare the prices which the Commonwealth has paid for military horses with the prices paid for horses for India to find that that is so. I do not know where the money goes.
– Would it be the patriotic men of Australia’ who were at the back of the robbery t
– I do not know whether it is the Australians who are doing it; but there certainly is a big difference between the price which we pay and that which the Indian Government pay ?’ »
– A big difference, after freight and insurance are paid. It has always been a marvel to me how men could buy horses here and ship them to India at the price they do. I have been selling horses for years, and I do not know how they do it.
– Let the Minister compare the prices, and he will see that the difference is pretty startling. When I was in London, I saw the Secretary of State for India on this matter, and inquired of him whether the Indian Government would be prepared to make the Government of Australia its agent in Australia for the supply of military horses, in the event of our establishing horse-breeding establishments. I said that we were considering the question, but were- not in a position to do it yet. He said that if the Commonwealth Government went in for horse-breeding for these purposes, the Indian Government would have confidence in it, and would welcome its assistance in every way. There is a demand for an enormous number of horses from Australia, and it would increase if a properly-constituted Government stud farm for breeding were organized. By that means we could utilize a large area of country that is not at present put to the best advantage. It has been demonstrated that in similar country ve can breed the best horses in the world. If the Minister will look at the departmental files on this question, he will find a mass of data indicating that this is a feasible proposition .
– I should like to add a word to what has been so well expressed by Senator Pearce. Much of the talk about Socialism and private enterprise is quite beside the mark, and is inapplicable to military affairs. We are often brought into conflict by what are only alleged differences of opinion on fundamental matters. It is fallacious and misleading to speak of war as Socialistic, because it is organized and run by Governments. It is really absolutely anti-Socialistic. In this matter the Government should consider the best course to adopt to secure a reliable supply of the horses for military purposes when they are most required. It is not a question of the expense of purchasing horses bred privately as against that of breeding horses by the Government. Senator Millen has said that our export of horses to India and other countries merely shows that Australian buyers are not prepared to pay the price demanded for them. If a number of horses are exported this month, they cannot be secured here next month, no matter what price may be offered- for them. It is absolutely essential for the effective working of the war machine that we should have all the horses we require when an emergency arises. It is not a question of price, but of reliable supply. The practice of foreign countries should be a ‘guide for us in this matter, because their experience of war exceeds any that I hope we shall ever have in Australia. Austria-Hungary, Germany, Japan, and other countries have established breeding farms for the supply of horses for military purposes. If our war machine is to be relied upon there must be no weak link in it. The real question before us is how we can secure the most efficient and reliable supply of horses for military purposes.
– I agree with much that has been said by honorable senators as to the desirability of establishing farms for the breeding of horses for military purposes. The Government have in their possession a great area of land suitable for the purpose. We are, by the construction of the Transcontinental Railway, opening up a large area of suitable country.
– One proposition was ito take over a place with a 5-inch rainfall, and that was defended in this Chamber.
– Country with only a 5-inch rainfall might be suitable for horse-breeding.
– I advise the honorable senator not to try it.
– A son of mine has taken up country on which there is only a 5-inch rainfall, but if permanent water could be secured there I have no doubt that it would turn out to be very suitable for the breeding of horses.
– They breed splendid horses at Oodnadatta.
– Very likely; but how many of them? The percentage of increase is very erratic.
- Senator Millen is credited with knowing something about land, and he will admit that it does not follow that because country has a slight rainfall it is not good grass country. The country to which I refer is well known to be good grass country, but permanent water has not yet been discovered there. If artesian supplies could be discovered there, and also in the Northern Territory, we could breed very good stock on country that is at present unutilized. Whilst the scheme could be made a success if conducted by a sympathetic Government, we can have very little hope that it would be successful if administered by a Government who are opposed to State enterprises of any kind
– In a matter affecting defence a Government should be above that sort of thing.
– They should be, of course; but we know that commercialism has seriously affected arrangements made for defence in every country, and in none to a greater extent than in England. Commercialism has entered into the supply of armaments, ammunition, stores, and everything required for the conduct of war, and we know, further, that wars have in nearly every instance been brought about through the influence of the spirit of commercialism. We cannot expect the present Government to turn turtle on their principles and introduce a matter of this kind. It is too much to expect them to do anything which would lead to the success of the scheme advocated by the Opposition.
. - Senator de Largie has suggested that it is not reasonable to expect the present Government to sympathetically administer a scheme of this kind. I understand that one of the virtues of the present Government is that they do favour a proposal that the Commonwealth should breed its own horses. The most aggressive member of the Government is so much in favour of the establishment, of Commonwealth horse-breeding depots that he submitted a motion in another place for their establishment. This is not a business in which we need come into conflict with private enterprise. There can surely be no objection .to making any Government service self-supporting. We have an exceptional opportunity to undertake this enterprise, because we possess vast tracts of country most suitable for the purpose. The best horse standing on four legs in Australia to-day was bred at a place about 70 or 80 miles from Oodnadatta. As recently as last August he put up a 4-mile record, carrying 14 stone. That is the class of horse the Defence Department are looking for. To show that his stock are not dying out, I can mention that only last Wednesday a full brother of. this horse, bred at the same establishment, was responsible for carrying a very fair weight to the front over the jumps. Senator Millen, who has had some experience in this business, speaks of the proposal as a wild scheme, because we could only get one suitable horse out of six. I believe the honorable senator has over-estimated the number, but the position in Australia today is that we cannot get one out of six, because the horses we require are sent to India, the Straits Settlement, or Japan. The horses that are being bred in Australia to-day, from the point of view of their use for military purposes, are deteriorating, and it is becoming a question of preserving our good stock. Senator Millen says that he is quite satisfied with the present system, but he has not been a very long time in the Defence Department. Until recently it was a common thing for the Defence Department to use horses for Saturday afternoon military parades that had been working in lorries in the city of Melbourne up to 12 o’clock on the Saturday. Surely, that is a system which would not satisfy Senator Millen. It has come to my knowledge that whilst officers of the
Defence Department have gone through stock, and selected horses with certain brands, on more than one occasion when these horses have appeared in the saleyards they have had quite different brands upon them. I do not say that as a reflection on any of the ofpeers of the Defence Department, but in order to show that the present system is unsound, as well as undesirable.
– If you can fake a brand on a bought horse you can fake a brand on a bred horse.
– I understood the Minister of Defence to say that, in his opinion, the present system was eminently satisfactory.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2. SO p.m.
– I desire to refer to the item of £11,696 for new rifle ranges and additions to existing ranges in Western Australia. Some years ago action was taken to close the Karrakatta rifle range, because of its being unsafe. During the last three years the building of a rifle range at Osborne has proceeded. The range is now completed, and recently the Minister gave orders for the closing of the range at Karrakatta. The rifle clubs have raised a protest against that act, which, I understand, has Deen before the Minister. I ask him to say what action, if any., he has taken. During the elections in Western Australia, it was brought under my notice that the new rifle range at Osborne had been constructed in sandy country, and that, as it was undulating at some of the ranges, firing embankments had to be put up. As this is a central range for the State, at an Association meeting there are a very large number of riflemen, markers, scorers, and other officials at those firing points. The banks were found to be not wide enough on the top, with the result that Captain Osborne, the Director of Rifle Clubs, has visited the range, and reported that on the top of the embankments there is not room for the number of persons who take part in the Association rifle matches. That work was carried out by the Home Affairs Department, and that is the. condition in which it was handed over to the Defence Department. I desire to know whether the Minister proposes to take action to have the firing embankments made of the proper width, and whether any money for that purpose is included in this item of £11,696. It is regrettable that the blunder was made. I do not know whether the responsibility for it lies with the Home Affairs Department or the Defence Department, but evidently somebody blundered. The rifle clubs have always kept up a continuous agitation for the retention of the Karrakatta range. The unfortunate feature is that, whereas the military authorities think there should be the other range, the fact of the new range being unsuitable adds fuel to the fire, and the rifle clubs are in a state of indignation about being called upon to conduct their matches at the Osborne range. From what I have heard, I am of opinion that if the embankments were extended it would be a suitable range; but if the embankments are not extended, the dissatisfaction which has existed there for the last few years will continue. I ask the Minister to give early attention to the matter, and if this item contains no money for the purpose, to see whether he cannot find money, so that the range, which is equal to the range at Long Bay, in New South Wales, or at Williamstown, in Victoria, may be put in a proper condition.
– I need hardly assure Senator Pearce that I shall give, not only serious but immediate consideration, to the insufficient accommodation at the Osborne range. He, of course, is aware that the complaint he voices is not limited to that rifle range. The same complaint comes to me - from quite other causes - as to the Randwick range. I take it that the serious part of his statement is- that one part of the new range is not in proportion to the other ; that is, that the accommodation for the men to fire is not sufficient for the number of targets to fire at. The position at the Randwick range is the other way about.
– The embankments had to be built up, as it were, out of a valley, and the top was not made wide enough to accommodate the people.
– There is not room for the number of men for whom provision has been made in the matter of targets. I shall at once see all the reports that are in the Department, and if they are not sufficient I shall call for special reports. Regarding the item of £11,696, I may mention that £8,000 is for a rifle range at Cottesloe.
– That is the Osborne range.
– The balance of the item is to meet minor expenditure authorized during the previous year, and to provide for minor nev/ services which may be required during the current year. When the honorable senator was speaking, I did not know that Cottesloe was the same as Osborne. It may be that the £8,000 is for the purpose which he urges, and which I agree with him is essential.
– I desire some information regarding the item of £8,579 for building barracks and quarters at Fremantle. I would like to know whether the erection of those barracks and buildings has been started, and what progress has Deen made.
.- The work is almost completed, and the amount now sought is to complete the contracts entered into and on which progress was made last year.
.- There is an item of £10,000 towards the cost of erecting buildings for an aviation corps. I would like the Min- ister to give us an idea as to the progress which has been made in the establishment of an aviation corps, and what .step? the Government are taking, or intend to take, in regard to providing monoplanes, biplanes, and dirigible balloons for strengthening our system of defence. For a long time I have thought that Australia should have an up-to-date system of aerial ships of different types. When the suggestion was first made, it was looked upon as emanating from a man who was in dreamland. But we know the progress which has been made in different countries.
– I think I was dreaming with you at that time.
– Exactly. Six or seven years ago it was considered by some persons, who were supposed to know everything about defence, that it was humanly impossible to do anything of a practical nature for the defence of this continent other than by following out the old methods. I am of opinion that if a big war should eventuate in a few years it will be different from any previous war. It will be fought, not as before, on the land and the water, but in the air and under the water. Damage will be done by men in submarines and flying machines. I consider that money expended in aerial defence would do much more good, comparatively, than money which is’ expended in the building of battle-ships, which are up-to-date to-day and out-of-date to-morrow. I trust that we shall be furnished by the Minister with the information which I seek.
– In regard, to the aviation corps, certain officials were appointed by the previous Government whose business it is to act as instructors, and certain machines were purchased. We are engaged now in erecting on the site that has been provided those buildings which are necessary to enable the officers to utilize their machines and set to work for the purpose for which they were brought here. The item of £10,000 is required ;or putting up the first instalment of the buildings and levelling the ground. Some levelling will be required, fencing and internal roads will be necessary, and, in addition to that, the buildings to be erected are sheds or hangars to accommodate the machines, an engineshop, a repair shop, a surgery, and other buildings necessary to give the officers and the machines the opportunity of starting on the business for which they were brought here. It is not contemplated, with this item, to make any addition to the flying fleet until those officers have got to work with the plant they have. Once they are engaged on that work, then the time will be ripe, I think, to consider what further purchases should be made, and to what extent those purchases should go. At present it is thought desirable to get to work the plant we have before we add to it.
– I desire to ask the Minister for a little information concerning the item of £30,000 for the Military College, construction of quarters for officers, &c. I do not know whether the statement is true or not, but we have heard that palatial residences are being erected in connexion with the Military College for the officers, and also that very expensive furniture is being provided. We are told that they are getting chairs which cost £7 7s. each. I do not know whether that statement is correct or not. I wish to know how much of this money is to be spent on the officers’ quarters, how much upon stables, and how much upon magazines.
– The item to which the honorable member has directed attention relates to the Military College. I am rather inclined to think that there has been a somewhat lavish expenditure in the erection and furnishing of these buildings. But in. regard to the estimate which is now submitted, I venture to say that there is not much room for extravagance. This expenditure is intended to cover, amongst other things, the construction of a hospital’, the establishment of a heating installation, additions to barracks accommodation, a laundry plane,, storm-water drainage, roads, fences, and other similar improvements, . repairs and maintenance, and the ordinary additions to buildings already in existence. I have gone through the estimate very closely, because of the fear I entertained that previously money had been spent to an extent which was not justified. I have cut down the estimate as far as it could be cut down without in any way endangering the efficiency of the establishment;
.- While the Government are to be congratulated upon making provision in this Bill for the erection of drill halls, I should like a little information upon how the days appointed for compulsory drills in the case of our Cadets and Citizen Forces are determined. In travelling through Victoria, I find that some area officers, whose enthusiasm outruns their discretion, appear to be carrying matters a little too far. I have been in country districts where an annual holiday, in which the local lads desired to take part, has been appointed for some months ahead, and yet that very day has been selected for compulsory drill purposes. Consequently, numerous complaints have Deen received. On the last occasion that I passed through Bendigo, I met several lads who had very serious complaints to urge on this ac- “ count. Bendigo is an important centre, and Saturday afternoon is usually set apart for a football match there. Now, it was well known six months in advance that the final match would be played upon a certain date. Yet, notwithstanding that plenty of other days were available which could be set apart for compulsory drills, this particular date was selected, and the boys were obliged to forego their sport. Whilst I am not prepared to say that sport should be given first consideration, provided that we do not jeopardize the efficiency of the Forces, common sense suggests that these compulsory drills should take place on days which have not been appointed public holidays. We ought todo all that we can to encourage our lads, and not jeopardize the popularity of our defence system by dragging them out on. such days for compulsory drill. I havereceived ten or twelve complaints from, different districts on this account. Theexercise of a little common sense by area, officers would overcome the difficulty.
– I ventureto say that there is on the part of everyone connected with our Defence Forces a, desire to do what Senator Russell has suggested should be done. But, of course; in connexion with the carrying out of a. big system there will always be some officers who, either from forgetfulness or excess of zeal, overlook the matter to» which he has referred. At the same time,, it is not always as easy as it appears to set. aside as a day for compulsory drill a date: which will suit everybody. Quite recently I had an experience of this iu a suburb of Sydney, where a compulsory drill had been ‘fixed for a day upon which a football match was to be played in which many of the lads were deeply interested. When I inquired into the matter, I found that the area officer had endeavoured tc» overcome the difficulty, but had ascertained that if he postponed the drill to> another suitable date, it would clash with a regatta, which was an equally important event in the suburb. I would suggest to> Senator Russell that when he hears complaints of this character he should ascertain whether they emanate from a few individuals, or whether they represent the> opinion of the whole Unit. Of course, T will endeavour to see that the convenience of the trainees is met as far as possible.
– -That ought not to be a difficult matter, seeing that there are so* few compulsory drills during the year.
– We ought to endeavour to meet the convenience of thosewho are serving the country in this way. But there are difficulties which will always exist, and for which allowance must* be made.
– In his reply to me just now, the Minister mentioned a laundry in connexion with the Military College. Is that laundry going to be run by theCommonwealth ? Not long ago we heard a great outcry about another laundry which was to be conducted by the lata
Government, and throughout the whole of New South Wales the Minister of Defence made quite a feature of it during the recent election campaign. Will he do in this case what wa3 done in that, and have the laundry conducted by private enterprise ?
– I would point out to Senator McDougall that this laundry is already in existence at the Military College, but, unfortunately, my honorable friends opposite did not equip it sufficiently, and consequently we require to put in an additional plant, which will cost £105.
– In connexion with the item, “Military College, -construction of quarters for officers, non-commissioned officers, &c, battalion offices, stables, magazine for artillery ammunition, rabbitproof fencing, rifle range, £30,000,” is it the intention of the Government to continue the construction of these works on the day-labour system, or are they to be carried out by contract?
.- This is one of those matters to which I referred yesterday. We already have a staff of workmen at the College, and it would be ridiculous to throw the plant idle, to disband the staff, and to call in a contractor to undertake the works which have already been commenced.
– I wish to direct attention to the item, “ Erection of Ordnance Stores - towards cost, £1,000.” I recollect reading a few months ago that an ordnance officer was being brought from the Old Country for the purpose of making a special and comprehensive report on the artillery in the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister how far that matter has progressed ? Has the officer arrived here, and is he engaged in making his inspection? Of course, I do not wish to know the details of his report, if it has been presented. It may be in the best interests of the Commonwealth that they should not be disclosed. But I would like to know if the officer is now engaged in making his report; and, if so, I would ask the Minister, for reasons which I will disclose to him privately, to instruct him to report particularly on the fortress artillery of the Commonwealth, especially in regard to guns of emplacement.
– He has nothing to do with that.
– Is it not part of his work?
– At any rate, I would like to hear the Minister on the matter.
.- The officer to whom Senator Bakhap refers was obtained from the British Army for the purpose of advising the Government as to ordnance stores.
– I understood that he was to report particularly on the artillery of the Commonwealth.
– That was not his mission. The officer in question is now engaged upon his work, and in the preparation of his report. When that report has been received, we hope to be able to put our Defence Forces on a better footing. It is on that account that this item appears in the Bill.
.- Can the Minister make a short statement as to the position of the woollen mills at Geelong? I understand that some little time ago operations were suspended there.
– Nothing isknown in the Department in regard to any cessation of work at the Geelong woollen mills.
– The contractor had not the steel that he required.
– If any contractor has failed to supply any portion of the necessary materials, that failure can scarcely be designated a stoppage of work for which the Department is responsible. The fact that an amount of £85,000 has been placed upon these Estimates in connexion with the woollen mills is surely an indication that the Government are anxious to complete the work.
– Have the steel portions since arrived, or is work likely to be interrupted again?
– I cannot say. I will endeavour to see that the work is expedited, and I will obtain the desired information for the honorable senator early next week.
– How long will it be before the woollen mills are in working order ?
– I cannot say.
– In regard to the item “ Erection of Drill Halls, Mobilization Stores, and other accommodation for Citizen Forces - towards cost, £100,000,” I desire to know how much of that amount is to be expended upon drill halls. Speaking from memory, the amount appropriated for that purpose last year was £80,000. I wish also to ask the Minister what arrangement he is making with a view to expediting the building of these halls’ I frankly confess that I am heartily ashamed when I look at this item for drill halls. I had a bit of a fight when I was in the Department to get a sufficient sum of money on the Estimates. I knew the need there was for drill halls in the country. But I am ashamed when I see that last year, out of £100,000 voted, only £28,884 was spent. That is a reflection on the Department. I was Minister at the time, and I am to blame as much as any: body. I take that blame. I can only say in justification that every week or so I used to ask the officers why the work of constructing drill halls was not pushed on, and the explanations, if not satisfactory, were certainly lengthy. I have been informed by a gentleman not associated with either of the Departments concerned, but who has cognisance of what is going on, that what takes place is this. The Minister can say whether it is correct or not : We adopted three types of drill halls. Each time a drill hall was required, the Defence Department said to the Home Affairs Department, “ We want you to put up No. 1, or No. 2, or No. 3,” as the case might be. But then I am informed that the Home Affairs Department set about preparing fresh plans for the particular drill hall ordered, instead of having a number of copies of the type plans ready for use immediately. The whole process was gone through over again for each individual drill hall. It seems scarcely credible that that should be done, but I am informed that that is what has taken place. If it be true, it is an explanation of why the money voted by Parliament could not be. spent.
– Moreover, the principal part of the timber used is imported.
– I am prepared to get the best material wherever it comes from. If we cannot get it in Australia, let us go outside Australia for it. I should like to know whether the Minister lias looked into this matter, and can tell us if it is not possible to expedite the building of drill halls by a more satisfactory method than has hitherto been pursued.
– The amount of £80,000 is proposed to be appropriated out of the item under review for the purpose of erecting drill halls. Bearing in mind the amount spent last year, I think the sum is sufficient for the purpose.
– It is if the Department ca-n spend the money.
– I quite recognise that. I sympathize with every word Senator Pearce has said about the delays. There are several causes for them. Sometimes there is a difficulty about the acquisition of the site. I could not substantiate what I am about to say if asked for evidence, but I feel that whenever our officers are set to work to make a deal for the Commonwealth in the matter of purchasing laud, they are apt to be overcareful. They fear lest in some way they should make a mistake, and their error should be put down to some unworthy motive. I can see that a man intrusted with such a duty would desire to be cautious, but the caution exercised at present is such as would not be tolerated in a private concern. In a sense, it is a virtue on. the part of the officers. They are over-cautious lest a mistake should be made. It may arise to some extent from the feeling of ?..n officer that if he makes a good bargain he will get no particular praise for it, but if he makes a bad one, every one in the town will go round saying that this officer has done something that he ought .not to have done. That is an inducement to officers to be exceedingly cautious to avoid mistakes. Then there are local interests to contend with. There are advocates of one site as against another, and this blocks the progress of works.
– The same thing occurs in the Post and Telegraph Department.
– These are some of the causes for delay. Another one is that all appropriations made by Parliament expire on the 30th June, and there is a little delay until money is supplied to enable works to proceed again. An arrangement may be approaching completion on the 29th June, and you may be in a position to conclude the business, but after the 30th June there has to be ari interregnum, which means further delay. We are trying to overcome these difficulties in order to further the erection of buildings, which are recognised to be a highly important portion of our universal training system. Senator Pearce made reference to plans of drill halls. I have made inquiries regarding that matter, and am informed that the position is this: There are three types of drill halls which have been approved by the Defence Department, and plans have been drawn out for each type. They are printed and ready for use. Sometimes a drill hall ha3 to be built in a town where one of these plans is not exactly suitable, but assuming that a site is level, and that there are no difficulties arising from inequalities in the ground, there is a printed plan available. That should be re-assuring to Senator Pearce. He seemed to assume that the plans which have been prepared are adaptable to all cases, but I am assured that such is not the fact.
.- I went to inspect a drill hall recently erected in the district where I live, and was sorry to observe that 50 per cent, of the timber used in it was imported timber. Inasmuch as our defence system is based upon the patriotism of our youths, we ought to make a special endeavour to give employment to their fathers in the material which we use for construction purposes. No doubt, for certain specific purposes, imported timbers may be better, but at the same time, as far as possible, we ought to use Australian wood, especially in defence work. I trust that the Minister will pay particular attention to this matter.
– Senator Russell has touched upon an important point. I would go further, and say that Australian timber should be used wholly in defence buildings. It ought to be the policy of the Australian Government to use Australian materials and products to the utmost. On one or two occasions I have approached Ministers in connexion with the building of Customs-houses, postoffices, drill halls, and so forth, in Western Australia, and have suggested the use of Western Australian timbers. I am glad to say that that has been done to a considerable extent. The policy ought to be generally adopted.
Senator BARNES (Victoria) [3.121.- In connexion with the vote for woollen mills, I have been informed that one or more Commonwealth officers have been travelling in the Old Country. I should like to know what there business is? There are rumours that part of .their mission was to engage labour for the mills when in operation. But there are at present in Australia, I understand, a number of men who are quite competent to fill any position in a woollen mill, from operating -any portion of the machinery to managing the concern. I should like to know whether arrangements have been made to engage labour in. England. I am satisfied that the Australian workman is well qualified to fill the bill; and unless there are powerful motives for engaging persons from other parts of the world, I disapprove of the policy.
– Senator Barnes has raised two questions. The first is as to whether any one is in England on behalf of the woollen mills engaging labour at the present time. There is no one there to-day for the purpose. The manager did go to England some time ago, at the instance of Senator Pearce, for the purpose of purchasing machinery. That mission has been completed, and the manager has returned to Australia. I am not aware that he was commissioned to engage labour or to make any promises of employment. I cannot conceive that, in the absence of authority, he would have done so. I can give the Committee my assurance that any employment that is going will be given to Australian workmen. I shall also have in view the object of seeing that local products are used as far as possible. Our policy is, as was that of our predecessors, to make use of Australian products and Australian technical skill in all possible ways. There is no intention on our part to depart from that policy.
– Probably, honorable senators do not realize that it is absolutely imperative, if public “works are to be proceeded with expeditiously, that this Bill should go through this afternoon. I recognise that not a single honorable senator has said a word with a view to blocking it, and I am sorry that the time at our disposal is so short. But it would not be fair if I did not tell the Committee what the position is. Therefore, I venture to ask honorable senators to do their best to enable the Bill to go through.
– I have no intention of blocking the Bill, but the Government, having delayed bringing it forward until this week, I am not going to be penalized now in the matter of criticising the items.. Senator Clemons is always exceedingly courteous, and I am quite willing to fall in with his suggestion as far as I can; but, at the same time, there are items in the schedule which must be criticised. During the week, I have, by questions put to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, called attention to the need for some telephone signal which would indicate to the attendant in the telephone exchange that an urgent call was being made which should be given precedence. I pointed out that last Saturday night a man was killed in Swanstonstreet by being run over by a motor bus. A policeman went to the telephone to ring up the ambulance, but he had to wait so long for a reply from the Central Exchange that the man had to be taken to the hospital in a cab, and on arrival there it was found that he was dead. It may have been thought that, in referring to the matter, I reflected upon the Central Exchange. I had no wish to do so. There is no man in this Parliament who has a better knowledge than I have of the irritating and nerve-racking nature of the. work which the girls employed in our telephone exchanges have to do. I am satisfied that it is done well. I suggested that the electrical staff of the Department should be asked to consider the adoption of some device which would indicate an urgent call where human life is at stake, and would secure precedence for it by shuttingout all other calls until it was attended to. I was informed that no such device has yet been provided, that the officials do not believe that such a device could be arranged, and that if it were possible it would be abused by the public.
– Everybody would be sick, and would expect to be attended to first.
– I do not believe the public would abuse a device of that kind provided as a means of saving human life. If I ring up a number that is engaged, I am warned of the fact by a peculiarsound that is transmitted over the wires, and must stand aside until the number is disengaged. I do not believe that it is beyondthe intelligence of the electrical staff of the Post and Telegraph Department to devise a means whereby a call for a doctor or an ambulance in a case where human life is in danger can be given precedence over all other calls. I ask the Minister now to make further representations on the subject, and see whether such an arrangement as I suggest cannot be made.
.- Am I right in concluding that the vote set down for sites for wireless telegraph stations is for the site for the high-power station at Darwin to link up with Singapore and the Empire system ? It has been publicly stated that Mr. Swinburne was brought out here as a wireless expert to advise the Government in regard to the patent gratuitously handed over to the people of Australia by Mr. Balsillie. The late Government were satisfied that Mr. Balsillie is a highly qualified officer. They had indisputable evidence of the fact, because, under his supervision, quite a number of wireless stations have been erected in different parts of Australia, and, so far as I know, all are working satisfactorily. I should like to know what was the real object of inducing Mr. Swinburne to come to Australia at an expense, I understand, of £2,000, when, according to the indisputable evidence to which I have referred, we have a highly qualified expert here, and, according to our legal advisers, we were quite within our rights in adopting his system, and ran no risk of infringing the patents of the Marconi or Telef unken Companies. I saw a newspaper paragraph to the effect that Mr. Swinburne’s report has been presented, is favorable so far as Mr. Balsillie’s system is concerned, and justifies the late Government in deciding to defend the action in which the Marconi Company claimed a considerable sum of money for the infringement of their patent. Perhaps the Minister is in a position to say whether or not that statement is correct.
– I shall not delay the Committee, but this is the only opportunity I have to draw public attention to the manner in which expenditure on hew works and additions for postal buildings in the State of Victoria is allocated. I understand that many members of the present Government profess to be the friends of our producers and the residents of the country districts, yet I find from an analysis of the vote set down for new postal works in this State that, out of a total proposed expenditure of £85,156, no less than £54,182 is to bo expended in the metropolitan district, and only £30,974 in the whole of the country districts of the State. I am not’ objecting to necessary expenditure in the metropolitan area, but it does seem to me that the country districts, in which more than half the population of the State reside, are not receiving proper consideration in the matter of expenditure on new works. If I take the expenditure proposed for additions under these votes for this State, and eliminate a vote of £6,093 for sundry offices, I find that, out of a total vote proposed of £7,717, no less than £6,513 is to be expended in the metropolitan area, and a little over £1,200 in the whole of the country districts of the State. I enter my protest against what I regard as an unfair distribution of expenditure for this Department. ‘I hope that when the next Estimates are being framed the country districts will receive more consideration.
– Senator Findley asked some questions regarding the appointment of Mr. Swinburne to advise the Government in connexion with wireless telegraphy. The honorable senator has said that the previous Government assured themselves that Mr. Balsillie’s patent was unchallengeable. It is one thing for a Government to feel confident about a matter of that kind, and another to engage in a case before the law courts. In this matter we had to consider first of all whether the patent was good, and next the evidence we should furnish to prove it in view of the fact that a considerable sum would be involved if the Government lost the action. We knew that the Marconi people would put the very best case they could before the Court, and would buttress it with the most expert evidence that could be obtained.
– And the best counsel.
– Not only the best counsel, but expert witnesses also. We had a right to assume that the Marconi Company would put before the Court the best evidence that could be obtained, and we thought it was desirable that some one of the standing of Mr. Swinburne should first of all be asked to advise the Government as to . whether the patent adopted was, or was not, an infringement of the Marconi patent, and to enable us to prepare the best possible case for the consideration of the Court. That is the reason which animated the Government in deciding to secure the assistance of Mr. Swinburne. I am not able to say whether his report has been sent in, and I cannot, of course, say what is the nature of it.
– Is the Minister iu a position to speak as to the correctness of the public statement that a compromise has been agreed upon in connexion with the action instituted by the Marconi Company ?
.- As the case is before the Court, I think it is not right to make a public statement at this juncture.
– I agree with that, but the statement has been made in the press.
– With regard to the matter raised by Senator Needham, the reply that came from the Department, as he is aware, wass that they had tried a system of what they called “flashing,” but discovered that it was very much abused. Persons were found! to be using the system not in a bond fide way, and it was temporarily discontinued. The matter was only brought up again yesterday, and there has not yet been time to do anything, but the’ Department has been communicated with, and asked to see whether some method cannot be adopted by which urgent telephone calls in case of sickness or accident can be answered at once. I assure the honorable senator that the matter is not being neglected. Senator Blakey complained of the large amount which is to be spent in the metropolitan districts as against the country. I have not made an analysis, but on looking cursorily through the list of items, it seems to me that the country is to get a very big share of the vote. I do not know how he has credited the first item of £5,807, because it is not stated where the money is to be spent, but the whole of that amount is to be spent on a number of offices in the country. In addition to that, the building which is being erected in Bourke-street, Melbourne, for a parcels post, postal sorting, and postal stores building will take £45,000. If that amount is deducted from the total vote, it will be seen that the rest of the money is to go to country districts. I shall be glad to show the honorable senator the list of proposed new offices. He will find that the bulk of the vote is to go to country districts, and not to Melbourne.
– I desire to get some information concerning the item of £1,445 for the Newnes post-office, in New South Wales. The re-vote is £50 and the new service £1,395 I do not want to oppose the item because it may be justifiable, but to point out that Newnes is a township . 30 odd miles from the main western line in the WallanValley, and that the Commonwealth Oil Corporation, which has recently suspended operations and gone into liquidation, was responsible practically for the very existence of the town, owing to the fact that they were working shale deposits at the bottom of the valley. The township is entirely a creation caused by that company, and is, I am informed, practically deserted.
– It is suggested that the town is going to have a revival; that the companyyou mentioned is getting fresh capital.
– It tried for a long time to get fresh capital, and, I understand, has gone into liquidation. Of course, it would be a good thing if the Commonwealth would buy out the company, but I do not expect that to happen.
– I do not think that the Commonwealth could afford that little luxury.
– The present premises at Newnes are leased, but it has been thought desirable that a new post-office should be erected.
– There is no population there now.
– However, that is not decided definitely. The question whether it shall be done or not is under consideration by the Postmaster- General.
– I have heard something about the building of a new post-office in Perth, and I observe in these Estimates an item of £12,000 towards the cost of its erection. The plans for the building have been completed, and I wish to know whether the Department intend to erect the building facing Wellington-street or Murraystreet, or to erect it midway in the proposed new street cut through from one street to the other ?
– I have answered the question of Senator Needham once or twice. I have assured him, and I now repeat the assurance, that I will personally let him know of any change which does take place immediately afterwards. At present the matter of the site is still where it was when he inquired before - in abeyance. I can assure him that no change has been made up to the present.
– All right; I shall have to remain satisfied.
Proposed vote (except subdivision 1 of division 5) agreed to.
Division 7 (Postmaster-General), £1,079,700.
– The sums to be devoted to construction of telegraphs and telephones are practically lumped for each State. I see that for New South Wales a total expenditure of £591,700 is foreshadowed, and for Victoria £985,000. I do not wish to pit State against State in any way, or to object to the sum which is asked for Victoria, but I do say that if £985,000 is none too much for Victoria, £591,700 is none too much - not enough - for New South Wales.
– The £985,000 is the total vote for the two States. The amount required for Victoria is £393,000.
– I acknowledge my error. I thought that the little State was to get the bulk of the money.
– I am pleased to see that the Government propose to do something in the matter of extending telegraph lines in Queensland. Hitherto the Government have been very remiss in the matter of constructing the necessary telegraph and telephone lines in that State. Queensland has a vast territory, which is not linked up by railways as other States are, and consequently we have to depend to a great extent on telegraphic communication because of the impossibility of dealing with urgent matters by means of letters. The trouble, however, is that when a storm takes place in the northern part of Queensland, owing to their dilapidated condition the lines get blown down, and interruptions to telegraphic business are so frequent, and often continuous, that I believe special orders had to be given to provide “ detained by interruption “ stamps. There is not the slightest chance of getting a reply on the same day to a telegram sent from the north to, say , Brisbane, unless the sender pays double fees. Yet we are told that we have such an up-to-date system. It is time we had something done in the way of constructing permanent and substantial lines that will not be blown down with every gust of wind.
– I could not avoid intervening in this discussion on behalf of the State of Tasmania, and I am rather surprised that no honorable senator from Tasmania called attention to the enormous discrepancy - allowing for the difference in population - in the division just passed between the amount provided for Tasmania and that to be spent in other States. There is almost as great a discrepancy in this division dealing with the provision of telephones and telegraphs, aud I would like some Minister to explain why this is the case. Is it because Tasmania is in such a state of perfection as compared with other States that it only requires this small amount of expenditure ; or is it due to the fact that the requirements of Tasmania have been overlooked ?
– Although I aid not publish the fact to the Senate, I went through a comparative table with regard to the States, and when I found the position Tasmania occupied I said nothing about it. The discrepancy referred to by Senator O’Keefe is, in the first place, due to the fact that Tasmania is modest in its demands. I can assure Senator O’Keefe, who is my colleague in this regard, that I did look into the matter, and I found that Tasmania, owing to her more settled conditions, did not require so much as may be required in some of the wilder States.
– I wish to call attention to the small amount provided for South Australia. On the west coast of that State, and also in the Pinnaroo district, large expansion is taking place, aud if honorable senators were seized with the extent of that they would recognise that the amount provided for constructing new lines is much too small. When I was in the South Australian Parliament I knew how difficult it was to get a new telephone or telegraph line, notwithstanding that there were hundreds of people settled where the line was required, and I fear now that the amount provided in these Estimates will be too small by at least two-thirds.
– If you raise the question of State rights, we will have honorable senators of every State speaking on this matter.
– There can be no comparison between the advancing conditions of South Australia and those of Victoria - I merely set one State against the other by way of comparison, as to the extent of the advance of settlement - but there is £32,000 set down for new telegraph lines in Victoria as compared with £10,000 for the same purpose in South Australia. Instead of the total of £85,000 for South Australia in this subdivision, it should be £150,000.
– I would like to know what provision is made to extend these facilities in the Northern Territory, where there are no means of communication ?
– There is £60,000 provided.
– I have no desire to complain about the amount provided for Tasmania, but I wish to lay before Ministers the very vexed, but, nevertheless, important question of erecting a telephone line to Port Davey, on the south-west coast of the island. I do not bring this matter forward because there is any very large settlement, but simply because a telephone is essential in the interests of humanity. There have been several shipwrecks with loss of life on the south-west coast; and it is necessary that there should be some rapid means of communication between civilized districts and the dep6t which the Tasmanian Government have established at Port Davey for the relief of the shipwrecked mariners. Had a telephone been provided long ago, it is possible that many valuable lives would have been saved.
– What is the good of a line if there is nobody in charge ?
– Surely somebody could be placed in charge?
– Why should the State Government not undertake this work ?
– Is it not a matter for the Post and Telegraph Department? Did we federate in order to hand over certain Departments, with exceptions at the. expense of the States? The work is necessary, as I say, in the interests of humanity, and for the satisfactory carrying out of the postal services of the State. Whether or not I am regarded as too persistant or foolish, I shall keep on drawing attention to this matter until the work has been carried out.
– I can assure Senator Bakhap that I shall bring the matter to which he has referred very prominently before the PostmasterGeneral. Senator Mullan will notice that in Queensland we are expending £30,000 more than was expended last year; and I may inform Senator Senior that, in the matter to which he has referred, we propose this year to expend £86,000, as against £40,000 last year.
– What are the new trunk lines in Queensland on which it is proposed to expend £43,100?
– The following are the lines referred to.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 8 and 9 (Treasury Department); £4,860.
.- I see that £4,200 is set down for the Government Printing Office, and I should like to. know what plant or machinery it is intended to purchase ? I take the opportunity to call attention to what I consider the altogether unbusiness-like and unsatisfactory manner in which the printing for the Commonwealth is being done. I have worked in the Victorian Government Printing Office, and I know that there is an excellent man at the head, and that all those employed, are thoroughly competent; but this is the only business of the Commonwealth that is not done directly by the Commonwealth.
– I understand that it is intended to purchase new machinery, and I should like to know whether the Commonwealth is handing this machinery over to the Victorian Government, or whether we are gradually working up a plant of our own? When we complain about Hansard or other publications being late, we are told that the State Government have a prior claim to the services of the office; and I think that the position is very unsatisfactory.
– Time and again the question of the divided control in the Government Printing Office has been before the Committee. The printing work of the Commonwealth is growing rapidly; and a number of the men who are engaged at the linotype machines, and are in the employ of the Commonwealth, have, from time to time, asked to be made permanent officers, but, so far, without success. The men in the service of the State in the Printing Office have permanent positions, and yet those employed by the Commonwealth have only a temporary status. The time has arrived when the growing requirements of the Commonwealth raise, the question whether we should not have a printing office of our own, independent of State control, and whether our employes should not be made permanent servants. Three or four years ago this question was brought before the Senate by Senator Findley; and I think the Minister should give some indication of whether there is any intention on the part of the Government to establish their own printing office.
– I wish I could give Senator Needham the assurance that he desires, but I cannot do so. While we are in Melbourne, this divided control must, in my opinion,- and in the opinion -of the Ministry, continue, because we can -see no help for it. As to the question of Senator Findley, I took special care to get the information, because I was sure the honorable senator would refer to the matter. I am told that this £4,200 “is approximately the amount that has to be provided every year on the Estimates for ordinary recurring expenditure and renewals.
– What is going to be purchased - type, machinery, or what?
– I am humiliated to be forced to admit that I did not go into these details.
Question - That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again - put and negatived.
– T desire some information regarding the item of £4,200 in respect of machinery and plant for the Government Printing Office. I understand that our printing is carried on in an office which does not belong to the Commonwealth. Why, then, are we asked to vote £4,200 for renewals of machinery in that office?
– This is a proposed vote for renewals in connexion with our own machinery and plant, which is on the. premises of the State Government, and is used for our own printing. Although our plant is in the State Government’s Printing Office, it wears out, and has to be renewed from time to time.
– When we leave for Canberra, will the State have the lot ?
– This is our own machinery ?
– And when we go to Canberra it will still be regarded as our own machinery?
– Inasmuch as this Ministry will probably be still in power when we go to the Federal Capital, I can say, with confidence, that we shall see that full value is given to the Commonwealth in respect of all this machinery.
– In connexion with the item “ Machinery and plant for stamp print ing, and works in connexion therewith, £660,”- 1 wish to ask how many stamps bearing the imprint of the kangaroo are to be printed? One of the first reforms announced by the present PostmasterGeneral was the abolition of the kangaroo stamp, and that announcement, I believe, was acclaimed by the philatelists. Shortly afterwards, we were informed that the Portmaster-General intended to still retain on our stamp the imprint of a kangaroo. I wish to know how many of these stamps are to be printed, and of what denominations they will be ? I should also like to know what is the position in regard to the Stamp Printing Office?
.- The question raised by the honorable senator is a very important one. I read in the press recently a statement that the present Postmaster-General had arrived at the conclusion that stamp collectors in different parts of the world were ever anxious to secure the latest and most neatly, designed stamps, and that, in order to gratify, the whims and cater for the hobbies of these people in other lands, the honorable gentleman had decided to have printed and published a new stamp bearing the kangaroo’s head, together with a design emblematical of Australia. It was stated that in order to make this change there would be an initial expenditure of £3,500, and I am told, on what I consider very good authority, that, if the Postmaster-General carries out what was stated in the press to be his intention, an expenditure of about £10,000 will be incurred in obtaining steel plates and uptodate machinery to print from them. The difference in the cost of printing from steel plates instead of the plates that are now used would be from 3d. to 5d. per thousand, I am informed, and this, I think, would be a gross extravagance calling for condemnation if it is to be undertaken merely to gratify the whims and to cater for the hobbies of stamp collectors in other parts of the world.
– The honorable senator does not really believe that the PostmasterGeneral is actuated by such a desire.
– I wish to know for what reason this change is proposed ? Confirmatory of this press statement, we had the further question, “ Why confine ourselves to one design. There are many who would prefer this or that design? “ And, in order that people might have a number to select from, it was stated that the Minister was seriously considering whether we should not have quite a number of stamps bearing different designs. I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to give us the fullest information as to the intentions of the Government in this regard, and whether it is proposed to tax the community to provide for special plates for the printing of these newer stamps bearing the King’s head, and to import additional machinery for the work.
– The Government Printing Office is under the Treasurer, and for that reason I am answering these questions. In reply to Senator Needham, I may say that it has not yet been decided how many stamps shall be issued. Certain computations are being made relative to the expense that will be incurred. That brings me to the statement made by Senator Findley, and I can assure him at once that the Postmaster-General has not, and never had, the idea of playing into the hands of stamp collectors. The question of quality is a totally different consideration. What the PostmasterGeneral is considering, and to the best of my belief he has not yet settled the point is whether it is desirable to slightly improve the quality of the paper on which our stamps are printed.
– It would be advisable.
– From the point of view of the public, I dare say it would be, and an improvement in the quality of the paper will mean a slight addition to the cost.
– How many millions of kangaroo stamps are to be issued ?
– So far as I know there will be one or two variations in the stamps which will be issued. The stamp to which my honorable friends refer so constantly has not been abolished in toto.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 10 to 14 (Defence Department), £992,311, agreed to.’
Divisions 15 and 16 (External Affairs Department), £68,930.
.- Like Senator Rae, I claim to be one of the non-official members of the Northern Territory. I regret very much that no provision lias been made on these Esti mates for the establishment of freezing works at Port Darwin. When the parliamentary party visited the Northern Territory, its members were given distinctly to understand by the Administrator that he was making arrangements with stockowners at the back of the Katherine River to supply a certain number of cattle at certain periods of the year, so that the works which were contemplated might be kept fully supplied. I would like to know whether the Government have decided to do nothing in the direction of establishing those works. Then there is the laundry, at Port Darwin, which, has been so frequently ridiculed as a Socialistic enterprise. As one who has visited the Territory, I sincerely trust that something will be done to alleviate the conditions under which white women labour there.
– I wish to know why railway construction has been entirely divorced from these Estimates.
– The honorable senator’ is getting on very delicate ground.
– I understood that there was a definite commitment for the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. Then I would like to know why no provision is made in this Bill for covering the cost of surveying the route of the proposed transcontinental line between Oodnadatta and Pine Creek.
– I am afraid that I have to make a painful reply to Senator Rae, and therefore I desire to answer his question first. I wish to say, in regard to the important question of railway construction in the Northern Territory, that the building of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River is provided for in the Loan Bill. The work is not to be constructed out of revenue, and that is why no provision is made for it in this Bill. Knowing Senator Rae as I do, I give this answer with a great deal of trepidation. I can assure Senator Blakey that no subject is causing the Minister of External Affairs more constant anxiety than is the suggested establishment of freezing works at Port Darwin. But it is not his desire to erect Government works there. He agrees with Senator Blakey that it is most desirable that freezing works shall be established at Port Darwin, and he hopes before long to be able to make an announcement on the subject. The other question to which the honorable senator referred may be collocated under the heading of sanitary provision for the Northern Territory. If he will look at these Estimates, he will see that attention has been given to that matter. A considerable sum is included in them for that very purpose.
– Can the Minister say whether the cost of the survey of the transcontinental line will also come out of loan money?
– I believe that the Government will probably regard the survey and construction of that railway as practically the same thing, and therefore the cost of the survey will probably come out of loan money.
.- The sum of £3,500 is set down for cottages and other capital expenditure on the Port Augusta railway. Will the Minister inform me whether these cottages are for the workmen employed on the line?
– I should like information regarding the proposal to spend £4,000 on the railway station at Quoin. How is it that part of this railway is to be paid for out of revenue and part out of loan money?
– The only answer that I can give to Senator Rae is that the item to which he refers represents, perhaps, something left to us of the spirit of our predecessors.Certain sums have been expended in connexion with this railway out of revenue, but the Government does not intend to construct the whole line out of revenue. As to the cottages, I have no particulars; but the total amount is made up of a number of small sums.
– Are similar cottages to be erected at the Kalgoorlie end of the line ?
– The item covers expenditure, not on the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, but on that from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postponed subdivision No. 1, division 5.
.- This item was postponed because Senator Pearce desired information regarding our intentions as to the Garden Island and Cockatoo Island establishments. The Cockatoo Island dockyard is primarily a shipbuilding establishment, its slips being to-day fully occupied. Garden Island, on the other hand, was designed for, and is being continued as, a repairing and refitting establishment, and as the site for victualling stores, torpedo stores, oil stores, and other purposes. I am not prepared to say whether the Government will continue indefinitely to use both these establishments as they are now being used, but at the present time I am advised that it is necessary to continue their use.
– Where is it proposed to put the new sheer legs ?
– At Cockatoo Island.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– Mr. President-
– This motion is a formal one, which cannot be discussed. It is only the motion for the first reading of a Bill which the Senate cannot amend that the Senate has the right to discuss.
Question - That the Bill be now read a first time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, informing the Senate that it had authorized Mr. King O’Malley,
Mr. Anstey, and Mr. McGrath to attend, if they thought fit, before the Select Committee of the Senate on the General Elections 1913.
-May I ask a question on that message ?
– Has the House of Representatives authorized the Prime Minister, Mr. Sinclair, and Sir John Forrest to appear before the Select Committee; and, if not, why has not that been done ?
– There is no need for the honorable senator to ask me that question. He has learned from the message which I have read that permission has only been granted to such members of the House of Representatives as are named in the message. It is quite ridiculous to ask me why the House of Representatives has or has not done a certain thing. I have no responsibility for what that House does.
– Shall I be in order in asking whether or not that message was transmitted from the House of Representatives per medium of the “gag”?
– I have no knowledge of what takes place in the other branch of the Legislature, nor do I think it desirable that discussion should take place here on what has occurred elsewhere.
– The Senate sent a message to the House of Representatives asking for the appearance of certain witnesses before the Select Committee. In the reply that has come back the House of Representatives has not stated why the other gentlemen named in our request are not authorized to appear.
– The Senate sent a request to the House of Representatives ; but it is no part of our duty, nor have we any right to dictate to the House of Representatives as to what it should or should not do. We have no right to ask it to give reasons as to why it has complied with a part and not the whole of our request.
– Do I understand that the message relates to the Select Committee on the Chinn case?
– No; we have received no message with regard to that matter.
– It shows that Mr. Cook is a coward - an absolute coward.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have asked the Minister for Defence several questions with reference to the discharge of men from the Fitzroy Dock, Cockatoo Island. To-day I have received a telegram from Sydney, stating that the position is that a number of shipwrights have been discharged owing to the want of material. I wish to ask the Minister to hasten the inquiry which he promised to make. It is unfair that these workmen should be thrown out of employment on account of blundering somewhere. I do not say where the blundering has been, but at all events these men have been made to suffer for it. I hope that before we meet again the Minister will make inquiries with the object of putting the men back to work again.
– I can assure Senator McDougall that I am as anxious as he can be to ascertain exactly the why and the wherefore of these dismissals. So far, my inquiries have shown me that the statement that they were consequent upon some blundering in the head office is not correct. I am now endeavouring to find out exactly what the position is. I have sent a message to the acting manager urging him to’ expedite the report that has been asked for, but up to the time when I left the Navy Office the report had not come to hand.
– I wish to refer to the message which has been received from the House of Representatives to-day. Here we have a. gentleman occupying the position of Prime Minister, who has repeatedly made statements alleging corrupt practices and roll-stuffing in connexion with the general election. He has made those statements, not only on the floor of the House of Representatives, but from almost every public platform where he has addressed meetings in the country. The Senate, in its wisdom, appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the allegations made by Mr.
Cook and others. That Committee determined to go through the usual procedure of asking Mr. Cook to appear before it, and give evidence. I think Che question is of sufficient importance for Mr. Cook to have at least treated the Senate and its Committee with common courtesy by appearing.
– The honorable senator knew that he would not do that.
– We asked through the proper channel that Mr. Cook should appear before the Committee. But it appears that he does not desire to do so. Consequently another place has not authorized him to appear.
– The honorable senator surely did not expect Mr. Cook to come and unsay all his “ flapdoodle “ ?
– I thought that he was at least a man, and that, having had the courage to make these statements about roll-stuffing and corrupt practices - charges hurled against the last Administration from many platforms - he would have had the courage and the manliness to come before the Committee and repeat his statements on oath. But I find from the message read by the President to-day that the only members of another place authorized to appear before the Select Committee are members of the Labour party. The other gentlemen named in our message have been refused permission or have treated the Committee with contempt. I will go further and say that the action of the Prime Minister especially is on a par with his conduct in connexion with another Select Committee of the Senate appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. The Prime Minister refused to that Committee the funds required for prosecuting ite inquiries in Kalgoorlie, where Mr. Chinn was employed. The Prime Minister treated the Committee and the Senate with contempt. Now, when another opportunity iB given to the Prime Minister and others of his party to prove their charges about roll-stuffing, &c., and the Prime Minister is invited to come along - not simply by virtue of his office, but as a citizen of Australia - and give evidence on oath, he shirks the job in a manner characteristic of him. I make this protest, and I express a sincere hope that, if he has not the courage to come before a Select Committee of this National Parliament and give his evidence on oath, he will, in the future, be silent as regards alleged roll-stuffing and corrupt practices at the last Federal elections.
– I rise in order to say a word in defence of Mr. Cook. I think this abuse of the Prime Minister is being carried just a little too far. Senator Needham does not know what transpired at the Caucus meeting of the Ministerial party yesterday.
– Was the honorable senator there ?
– No; but I have very good reasons for believing that if Mr. Cook were a free agent, and were permitted to do as he wishes, he would comply with the request of the Senate, and would come before the Select Committee which has been referred to and give his evidence. I am satisfied that whatever honorable senators may say about Mr. Cook, they cannot say that he lacks courage. Look at the manly way in which he goes on to all the Women’s League . platforms in the Commonwealth and denounces the things done at the last election by the late Government. Look at the manly way in which he stands up to every charge he has hurled at the Labour party. Has he not stated these things over and over again; have they not been printed by the daily press; and is that not a sufficient proof of his courage and manliness? Still Senator Needham will complain that the honorable gentleman is wanting in courage. Another message has been sent to the House of Representatives asking that Mr.’ Cook should be given leave to attend and give evidence before the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. It is quite true, as Senator Needham has said, that the Government have refused funds to enable the Committee to go to Kalgoorlie and investigate the matter there. It is quite true that they have refused to permit officers of the Department to come here from Kalgoorlie to give their evidence; but I feel quite sure that when the time comes Mr. Cook will make good all the charges he has made against the Committee.
– Too heavy! The honorable senator .is not light and playful enough.
– Senator Bakhap is, no doubt, a judge of heavy parts. - I should not wonder if I heard he were a heavy tragedian or a light comedian.
– Heis both.
– No doubt the honorablesenator is also good at low comedy, and has played as many parts in his time as has the gentleman whom we are now discussing. I repeat that I am satisfied that when we get the reply to the second message sent by the Senate to the House of Representatives, we shall find that Mr. Cook will come before the Committee inquiring into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn, and will make good all the charges he has hurled against it. It is because I feel quite sure that he will do so that I stand up here this afternoon to say a word on behalf of the much-abused Joe Cook.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 October 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131031_senate_5_71/>.