5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Punishment of Defaulters
– Does the Minister of Defence know if it is a fact that two lads named Size were imprisoned at Largs Fort, in South Australia, during the last week of September and the first week of October for refusing to drill? Does he know whether, during the first week, the lads were kept on bread and water, one slice of bread per meal, and pushed round the parade ground and threatened by the officers if they did not obey orders ? Is it a fact that, during the first week, the lads had to sleep on the floor, with only one blanket, and that they were allowed out of their cell - the cell being 12 feet by 9 feet, in which one night nine lads were confined- once or twice during the day for exercise, but that they were not allowed to communicate with other lads? Will he make inquiries to see whether a pamphlet embodying the foregoing statements, which has been circulated amongst honorable senators, is correct, and, if so, will he see that a repetition of the’ incident does not occur ?
– I have no knowledge of the circumstances referred to by the honorable senator, but I shall be obliged if he can hand to me the document from which, I take it, he was reading, in order that I may have full inquiries made into the statements contained therein.
– Can the Minister representing the Prime Minister say when the evidence taken by the Fruit Commission will be presented to this Parliament?
– I am unable to answer the question, as the matter is within the control of a colleague. I shall make an inquiry, and inform the honorable senator later in the week.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the fallowing papers: -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Amendment of Treasury Regulations. - Statutory Rules1913, No.275.
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c-
Statutory Rules, 1913,Nos. 273, 280, 282, 283.
High Court Procedure Act 1903, and Judiciary Act 1903-1912. - Rules of Court. - Statutory Rules1913, No. 254.
Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1912. - Regulation amended. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 276.
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912 - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 281.
Pearl-shelling Industry, Royal Commission on the : Progress Report.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1910. - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 218, 219, 220, 221, 223, 224, 225, 229, 230, 242, 247,
Public Service Act 1902-1911-
Ninth Report on the Public Service by the Commissioner,
Department of Home Affairs - Appointments, Lands and Surveys Branch -
S. Va- tin, as Draughtsman, Class E.
T. Young, as Draughtsman, Class E.
– One day last week the Vice-President of the Executive Council, on behalf of the Postmaster- ‘ General, read out replies to some questions submitted by Senator Mullan, and I inquired if he could give me the date on which the decisionin respect to examinations, &c, was arrived at, and he said he would make inquiries. Is he now in a position to give the information?
– An inquiry was made at once, but the reply is not yet to hand.. I shall be glad to furnish the reply as soon as it is received.
Urgent Calls : Public Telephones
– Senator Needham has asked a question once or twice in regard to urgent telephone calls. The reply received to-day is in the form of a letter from the Postmaster-General, as follows: -
With reference to the questions recently asked in Parliament by Senator Needham, relative to the question of the installation in telephone exchanges of a device to enable emergent calls to be indicated in such a manner to insure preference, and to your replies thereto, I beg to inform you that I am advised that there is no device known which will differentiate between calls so as to insure that urgent calls will receive attention. The efforts that are being made, however, to improve the speed of answer and insure that every call is promptly dealt with are calculated to reduce to a. minimum the danger referred to by Senator Needham of a call affecting the saving of human life not being attended to at once.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any further information regarding the placing of additional public telephones on the railway stations at Melbourne?
– An inquiry has been made, but no reply is yet to hand.
Conditions of Employment
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received a reply to my question concerning the conditions of the men working at Garden Island? If he has not received a reply, some of the men may be receiving an old-age pension before it comes to hand.
– I have received a memorandum from the office on the point raised by the honorable senator. It reads as follows: -
With reference to a question by Senator McDougall on 2nd October, 1913, regarding alteration of conditions of men working at Garden Island, Sydney, approval was given for all temporary employés in Garden Island establishment at Sydney on 30th June being taken over on 1st July at their existing rates of pay, provided that such were not less than union rates, and that, in the case of labourers, they were paid the Commonwealth rate of9s. per day.
Prior to1st July, “ dirt money “ to boilermakers (engaged on dirty work) was apparently paid at the rate of 4s. per week, whereas it is now paid in accordance with the Award, i.e., only for the time actually employed on work for which “ dirt money “ is paid.
The amount earned for “ dirt money “ thus varies, and it is found that while some workmen may lose slightly, others gain ; but this follows from the Award.
– Some weeks ago a motion was passed in the Senate calling for the production of the papers relating to the Naval Base in Cockburn Sound. Can the Minister of Defence say when the papers will be made available?
– They will be made available this evening or in the morning.
– On the 1st October Senator Maughan asked some questions with regard to wages and camp allowance in Queensland. A request was made for a reply immediately, but the reply only came to hand to-day. The questions were as follow : -
I desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, whether he is aware -
That there are certain men in Queens land who were receiving9s. per day, and who were reduced to 8s. per day, who have not received the higher rate as promised.
That blacksmiths are employed at the rate of9s. per day, whilst the ruling rate for such labour in Brisbane is11s. per day.
That in certain country camps in Queens land men are paid 8s. 6d. per day and no camp allowance, while in other camps they are paid 8s. per day and £1 per month camp allowance.
Will the Minister be good enough to make inquiries into this matter, and report to the Senate ?
The following is the reply which I received from the Department -
With reference to your memorandum of the 2nd instant, with which you forwarded an extract from Hansard of the1st idem, containing three questions by Senator Maughan regarding the wages, i.e., paid to certain employés of this Department in Queensland, I beg to inform you that inquiry has been made, and in connexion with the first question the Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, states that the decision to pay9s. per day was received too late for action on the September end-month pay day, but it was arranged to pay the arrears early in October, and on the 3rd of that month paying officers were paying wages at the old rate.
With regard to question 2 the Deputy Postmaster General states that only two men are employed by this Department in Queensland on blacksmiths’ work, and, although they cannot be said to be qualified blacksmiths, they are capable of performing any class of work required of them by the Department. They receive 9s. per day ; but as their work is reported to be worth1s. per day more than that of temporary linemen, a recommendation is being submitted in the usual course that they be paid at the rate of 10s. per day, which is equivalent to the minimum salary payable to Blacksmith, Grade 3, viz.,£156 per annum.
The recommendation referred to in paragraph 2 has now been approved of by the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, and the Deputy Postmaster-General has been informed.
The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner, to whom question 3 was referred, advises that where temporary or exempt linemen are paid a daily rate equal to the minimum salary of£132 per annum, paid to permanent linemen, and are required to live in camp, they should be placed on the same footing as permanent officers in regard to camp allowance. Instructions have been issued accordingly.
– Has the Minister of Defence yet received any report from the acting manager of the
Fitzroy Dock in reference to the discharge of men there?
– The honorable senator asked me two questions the other day in connexion with the Fitzroy Dock. One was with regard to the wages paid to concrete workers, and the other was a question which he has just now repeated. I may be permitted to answer both these questions at once. With regard to the concrete workers, I have to say that award rates will be paid as from 13th August, the date of the award. On the subject of the dismissal of workmen, I have received the following memorandum : -
With reference to Senator McDougall’s inquiry regarding men discharged from Fitzroy Dock, apparently owing to non-receipt of drawings from Melbourne, certain drawings are at Navy Office, being examined and checked as is customary; but these all relate to a very late stage of construction, and would not in the ordinary course of naval shipbuilding be needed for some considerable time.
Regarding Senator McDougall’s statement that a number of shipwrights have been discharged owing to the want of material, it is pointed out that material for the building of the warships at Cockatoo Island is being supplied by the Admiralty. and is delivered to Sydney direct. The Admiralty in certain cases, has been asked by cablegram to expedite delivery, but no instance is known in which lack of material has been the cause of delay or the dismissal of workmen.
– No wonder we cannot build warships.
– I ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether it will come within the scope of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice’s investigations to report on the question of docking accommodation at Williamstown?
– The question of docking accommodation at Williamstown is not covered by the terms of the arrangement with Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, but if the honorable senator has any representations to make on the matter, I shall be glad to receive them.
CASE OF Mr. H. CHINN.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
How many officers of the Crown Law Department and officers of the Home Affairs Department, besides other legal gentlemen not being witnesses, have the Government had in attend ance, or engaged on the Chinn case since the inquiry began?
– The answers are -
I understand that three officers of the Crown Law Department have been associated with the Inquiry, but except for a very brief period, only one officer at a time has been employed on the case.
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
(a) Since 24th June, 1913.
asked the Minister of Defence,upon notice -
– The answers are -
Debate resumed from 29th October (vide page 2626), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– Since I moved the adjournment of the debate on the motion for the third reading of this Bill, several items of business have Been dealt with by the Senate. The Honorary Minister very urgently requested that the Opposition should consider their action with respect to an amendment made in this Bill. He has invited honorable senators on this side to go back upon their firm convictions in the matter. We almost unanimously agree that a supply and tender board, or a number of such boards, would be advantageous in dealing with the purchase, disposal, and distribution of goods and materials for the carrying” out of Commonwealth works. Still we do not consider it advisable to make provision for anything of the kind in a Bill amending the Audit Act. The Honorary Minister has contended that if we persist in the rejection of clause 3 of the Bill, and are still in favour of the establishment of supply and tender boards, we must ultimately carry an amendment of the Audit Act to give effect to our desire. The honorable senator has made statements’ which would lead those who have not inquired into the subject to believe that certain things have occurred in connexion with supply and tender boards established by the State Governments. The Honorary Minister, in order to leave himself a loophole to enable him to get out of his difficulty, said that, in any case, we have a right to create a precedent. I hope this Parliament will never create precedents which are of a retrograde character. I do not think it is necessary for us to make precedents of that kind. I am sure this Parliament has any amount of power to pass a Bill to bring into existence supply and tender boards, or any other boards of that description.
– We may not have sufficient time to do so.
– We have ample time. It is a long time till Christmas, and even if such a Bill were not passed this session - seeing that we ‘have managed to scrape along for thirteen years in the manner we have done, and that we have got into so little trouble - I do not believe that the interests of the Commonwealth would be seriously jeopardized. But the Honorary Minister appears to think that under regulations we may do everything. Yet, when the Navigation Bill was under consideration, he complained bitterly that so much in it was left to regulations. It is a very peculiar circumstance that some honorable senators who are strenuous opponents of doing anything by means of regulations when they are in Opposition want to do everything by regulations the moment they get into a Government.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he is one of those examples?
– I am not going to say that I am not a horrible example in many directions. But I can honestly say that I have always taken the trouble to make preliminary inquiry into the accuracy of any statements that I intended to make to the Senate. Although I do not believe that the Honorary Minister would intentionally do anything wrong, yet he committed a very grievous blunder when he made certain statements in this Chamber upon the motion for the third reading of this Bill. In connexion with the creation of supply and tender boards, I think that Parliament ought to be extremely careful to see that the right number of nien are appointed to the central supply and tender board, that their functions are accurately specified in the Bill under which these boards are brought into existence, that’ powers ave given for the creation of supplementary supply and tender boards, and for delegating the powers of those boards to the existing Supply and Tender Boards of the States. All these matters would be very carefully considered if a Bill for that purpose were presented to Parliament, and I am sure, from the temper of the Opposition here, that every consideration would be given to legislation of that de”scription.
– The Government would not know there was an Opposition in existence.
– Of course, they would not if they did what is right, and, as a matter of fact, we criticise them very mildly when they do what is wrong. The Honorary Minister stated that in New South Wales the Supply and Tender Board Avas brought into existence under the Audit Act. I would like to ask him whether he obtained that information for himself ?
– Then, on whose authority was the statement made?
– Upon an authority which I thought quite unimpeachable.
– That authority was the Attorney-General. I would like to ask Senator demons upon the authority of which Attorney-General he made the statement? Was it the AttorneyGeneral who is generally supposed to be the legal adviser of the Commonwealth, was it the Attorney-General who is lookingafter the interests of the Commonwealth in connexion with the Marconi litigation, or was it the Attorney-General of New South Wales?
– One is the AttorneyGeneral and the other is a general attorney.
– I wish to be very particular about this matter, because I am sure that the Honorary Minister would never have made the statement which he did make had he been aware of the facts. Now, the fact is that in New South Wales the Supply and Tender Board was created under paragraph h of section 20 of the Public Service Act, and not under the Audit Act. I ask Senator Clemons to verify my statement for himself, and I am sure he will then apologize to the Senate for having misled it. I have not the least doubt that his statement arose out of careless inquiry, because, although the Supply and Tender Board in New South Wales was created under the Public Service Act, yet in the Audit Act of that State there are certain provisions which are similar to those contained in this Bill. They were necessary to give the AuditorGeneral of New South Wales the power to investigate the transactions of the Supply and Tender Board. But, as I have already pointed out, the powers conferred upon the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth under section 45 of the Audit Act are quite sufficient, and if other powers are required, it will be time enough to embody them in the principal Act when the supply and tender board has been established, and when it is found that the Auditor-General has not sufficient power to enable him to discharge his functions in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Every honorable senator ought to be careful about making statements on the authority of somebody else whom he imagines to be thoroughly reliable. In connexion with the creation of supply and tender boards, the States of New South Wales and Victoria are quite suffi- cient to serve as examples, because they are the two largest States, and until the advent of Federation had probably transacted the greatest amount of business. In Victoria, too, the Supply and Tender Board was created under the Public Service Act. If the Honorary Minister has any doubt about the matter, I would recommend him to read section 139 of that Act, in which he will find the provision of which I speak. It is idle to imagine that the Opposition, with these facts before them, would consent to embody in this Bill authority for the creation of a supply and tender board. Of course, I know that some members of the Ministry and daily press are continually declaring that we are obstructing business. We are doing nothing of the kind. But we wish to see a supply and tender board created under the supervision of Parliament, and we desire a separate Bill to be introduced for the purpose. The Government can provide for the creation of that board under the Public Service Act. The AuditorGeneral would come in, audit the accounts, and make inquiries into existing conditions after the board had been established. Therefore, we on this side of the House have made up our minds to oppose any recommittal of the Bill. We are prepared to send it back to another place, as amended, even with the threat of a double dissolution hanging over the head of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
During the course of my speech on the motion for the second reading of the Works and Buildings Bill a little while ago, I ventured to offer some general remarks with regard tothe margin between the present, or, rather, the probable, revenue of the Commonwealth and what seems to be the necessary amount of our annual expenditure. I stated that in my opinion we have reached, or at any rate are rapidly reaching, the high water mark of that annual expenditure. A perusal of the Bill that I am submitting to-day for the consideration of the Senate will possibly help to emphasize what I then said. Because, while this Bill deals with a loan, we are on all sides fully aware that the necessary money that will have to he available for a sinking fund in connexion with this loan must always come out of revenue.
– That means taxation, does it not?
– I hope not.
– Can the Govern ment borrow £3,000,000 without paying interest on it?
– No, we cannot; and I venture to’ say that the Senate will recognise that the additional burdens laid upon the Commonwealth will have to be met in one of two ways - either by increased taxation or by the curtailment of our present expenditure.
– Is not interest taxation?
– I do not wish to be led into a theoretical discussion as to whether interest is taxation or taxation interest, but I will say that taxation itself is of great interest to the Commonwealth. All who have been in the Senate for some time, and all who have been watching the progress of Australia since we entered into Federation, must recognise two things. One is that Ave in Australia have shown an increasing desire for the development of our country and for the multiplication of opportunities for its trade and commerce; and the other is that since we have become a federated community we have fully realized, or are beginning to fully realize, what is meant by national responsibilities and obligations. Both of those phases are represented in this Bill. A part of the money for which we are seeking to obtain a loan will be appropriated for development on commercial lines, for opening up country, and for making better this land in which we live; and another part of the money will be used in furtherance of our desire to maintain those obligations which particularly affect us as a nation. On the latter point honorable senators will know that I am referring to the subjectmatter of defence. Roughly speaking, therefore, this Loan Bill deals with those two matters - the question of our commercial interests, and the question of our national obligations. On neither of those points can this Bill be properly assailed. There is no item on which we propose to spend money which is not justifiable intrinsically on its own merits.
– The expenditure may be justifiable, but is the method justifiable ?
– I do not understand that interjection. This is a Bill to deal with loan money, and I have said that, with regard to the whole of the purposes which are to be covered by the money, they are justifiable commercially, and because they represent national obligations. Let me take the first part - the commercial interests of the country. There is not a man of us here who did not know that it would be necessary to borrow money for the purposes of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway. There is no one who, whether he opposed that scheme or supported it, did not fully recognise that it was inconceivable - absolutely impossible - that Australia could build that big railway out of revenue.
– The Government are borrowing for many things, apart from the railway.
– I shall deal with the various matters seriatim, but I am separating them now. No one, I say, will dispute for a moment that we have to borrow money to complete that railway to connect South Australia with Western Australia. Indeed, the late Government had already started the work, and had borrowed for the purpose. I come to the other railway scheme, which is really one of the progressive steps that it is necessary to take for the development of the Northern Territory. There was a considerable divergence of opinion in the Senate - and, I dare say, elsewhere also - when it was proposed that the Commonwealth should take over from South Australia the Northern Territory, with its debt responsibilities and difficulties. I do not believe there was a man who did not recognise, at the time when we took over the Territory, that we were undertaking one of the most difficult tasks that had ever confronted a Government in this country, a task requiring that we should look ahead for a long series of years, and a task not less difficult than any undertaken by the States before we federated. We all recognised when we did take over the Territory that there was an obligation upon us to make some attempt, to the best of our judgment, to develop it. We recognised that it would be foolishness to acquire the Northern Territory at the price which we paid for it to South Australia, and then sit down and do nothing.
– We paid nothing.
– We are paying to-day the annual interest on the large debt connected with the Territory, and the Commonwealth is responsible for a large amount of money which the Territory is costing us.
– We got in return an area several times larger than the State of Victoria.
– But mere area is of no importance when you are dealing with matters affecting finance, loans, revenue, and expenditure. We have to recognise that, having embarked on that scheme, we are forced, no matter what our political views may be, to do our utmost honestly to overcome the difficulties. I shall not deal at further length with the Northern Territory except to say that any Government would have to do its utmost to develop it, and that we cannot begin to develop it unless weundertake railway construction. From the little I know of the development of the States in Australia,I feel satisfied that, in the more settled States, development and progress have been delayed because the railways have not been built ahead of settlement, or because there have not been railways to promote, induce, and create settlement.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - You propose to begin at the wrong end.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator means geographically or economically. If he means geographically, I will not quarrel about that I am dealing with the economic aspect now.
– It is the wrong end from both points of view, I think.
– I disagree entirely with Senator Russell in regard to one of the points.
– We could settle 50,000,000 people on railway lines that we have already constructed in Australia.
– I was dealing with railway lines which are projected in the Northern Territory.
– You were talking generally of railways.
– Yes; and in my opinion the development of Australia would have been much more rapid, satisfactory, and effective, if railways had been built to induce settlement instead of waiting upon settlement - if the pioneers, when they had to struggle, had had better facilities and opportunities, by means of railway communication, to lighten their burdens. It is for this generation to cure that evil, to remedy that blunder. As regards the Northern Territory, I confess that the problem is so difficult that neither the present nor any other Government could be sanguine as to the results of any action or expenditure ; but, nevertheless, the policy of the present Government, and, I believe, the policy of this Parliament, is to bring about the settlement of that great country in a more rapid way by hurrying on with railway construction.
– Are you pessimistic as to the result ?
– I am pessimistic as to the Northern Territory. I know, and the honorable senator in his heart knows, that the problem before us is an extremely difficult one; that none of us can see the end, but it is evident to every one that it will entail upon the Commonwealth an enormous expenditure in the years to come, and one from which we cannot see - at any rate immediately - anything in the way of a profitable return.
– It will not help us in our task if we treat the problem in a pessimistic spirit.
– I do not wish to be pessimistic. The honorable senator has, perhaps, put into my mouth a word which I would not have chosen to describe my attitude. No man can afford to approach the question of the Northern Territory from a sanguine point of view, and no man can afford to look at the Territory and all its problems without recognising that they present to the ordinary member of Parliament more difficulties than has anything else which has confronted this Parliament. I will allow the matter to rest there. Another item, practically on all-fours with the items for the two transcontinental railways, is the one for the construction of a railway in Papua. The object of the line is to further the mineral development of the Territory, and, incidentally, the agricultural development. A comparatively small sum is required in order to build a light tramway.
– It is a free gift to Papua practically.
– I do not know what the honorable senator means.
– Who will be liable for the interest on the expenditure ?
– The Commonwealth, as it always is liable.
– Will there be no obligation upon the Papuan Government ?
– So far as I know at present, none. Prom those two items, which deal with railway construction of great importance, I pass on to two items which deal with the purchase of land - one for post and telegraph purposes, and the other for defence purposes. I venture to say that any honorable senator who may doubt the desirability of having a loan policy for the Commonwealth cannot press home his doubts on that matter generally when he is asked to approve of the borrowing of money for the acquisition of land. If there is any expenditure which represents something in the nature of a gift to posterity, it is surely the acquisition of land. If the use of loan money is at any time, or under any political authority, justifiable, surely it is justifiable when the money is used to acquire land for public purposes?
– It all depends on what the public purposes are.
– In this case, the purposes are two, namely, for post and telegraphs and for defence. We have had an excellent example to follow in this matter. The next item is one which may possibly be debated, and regarding which any honorable senator may be fully justified in asking for further particulars.
– What did posterity get out of previous defence loans in any country ?
– I am not prepared to go into a detailed history of other countries; but I venture to say, in regard to Australia, that if the discharge of our national obligation of defence is limited to the surplus revenue, it will not realize the ideals of any one of us.
– Can we not get more revenue ?
– That will greatly depend upon what taxation we are going to levy. My honorable friend will bring up that question, but I will not dwell on it long.
– That is the root of. the whole matter.
– I dare say it is the rooted conviction of some honorable senators that taxation can be imposed on special classes - on classes best able to bear the burden, if you like - without spreading the evils of that taxation to the whole of the community.
– Without helping the whole community.
– Without hampering the whole community. In the opinion of some honorable senators a Government can get as much revenue as it wants by means of taxation without injuring the major portion of the community. The British race has developed no quality more strongly than the quality, in commercial matters, of passing taxation on to somebody else. And I venture to say that we in Australia have no form of taxation, and I doubt if we could ever, with all our ingenuity, devise a form of taxation which those who directly had to bear it would not find some means of passing on to others who thought to evade it. It is for that reason I say, and always will say, that you can do a great deal of injury to the community, if you think that you are going to provide for everything out of revenue, and not in any circumstances borrow, simply because you can rely on taxation, on some wealthy classes, to supply the money you want for your purposes. Let me use an illustration taken from our ordinary life, especially as I am dealing with the question of defence. Is there any man to-day holding land in rabbit-infested areas who would not think himself perfectly justified in borrowing money to put up rabbit-proof fencing? The analogy may seem homely, and possibly my honorable friends do not see it. But I submit that, as an ordinary man would not hesitate- he would be a fool if he did - to borrow money to protect his property from rabbits, so, if danger arises, and there is no other way of meeting the situation, Australia will be abundantly justified in raising money for the purpose of defence. As to item 6, I wish to point out that, having regard to its nature, the Government have decided to depart seriously in value and amount from the standard set for a sinking fund. Because we recognise that the undergrounding of the telephone wires is a perishable work, to a certain extent, it is proposed in the Bill, instead of having a £ per cent, sinking fund, to have a 5 per cent, sinking fund. It is estimated that the conduits may be reasonably expected to last for fifty years, and the wiring for twenty-five years. We propose’ to provide out of revenue, as a sinking fund, 5 per cent, annually, and the actuarial calculation is that that percentage will redeem the whole amount of borrowed money in fifteen or sixteen years. I come now to the proposal to borrow £175,000 in connexion with the defence works and property at Cockatoo Island. That expenditure in itself is absolutely necessary, . and if we are challenged as to using loan money for the purpose, let me remind honorable senators of the means by which the island came into our possession. It represents a transferred property. The Government have decided that, in order to get the full advantage of the property, it is necessary to expend £175,000. Nothing could be more in harmony with the original means by which we acquired the island than our proposal to use borrowed money for this purpose. It is, in other words, simply adding £175,000 to the previous amount of £800,000, which really and truly represents a loan.
– What is the sinking fund in connexion with that item ?
– It is on the same scale as the sinking fund in connexion with the conduits. I admit that the. money is required for the purpose of machinery, but as it is expected that the 5 per cent, sinking fund will redeem the whole amount in fifteen or sixteen years-
– The machinery and machine shops might be scrap in five years.
– Yes; but I am not prepared at present to discuss the probable life of the machinery. In the opinion of the Government, the sinking fund is ample to meet the expenditure which -itself is absolutely necessary. I come now to the last item in the schedule, as to which I do not anticipate any dispute. Already £600,000 of loan money has been acquired in connexion with the erection of the Commonwealth Offices in London. It is estimated that a further sum of £150,000 will complete the buildings on the site, and make them revenueearning. I do not propose to add anything further on this motion.
– What interest do the Government expect to have to pay on the full amount of the loan?
– For the present the Government hope to be able to borrow the money they require from the
Trust Fund, and the estimates I have given are based upon an interest charge of 3£ per cent. If there is to be no opposition to this stage of the Bill, and I hope there will not be any, as it is essentially a Bill which may be best considered in. Committee, I shall be glad, when we get. into Committee, to go into matters of detail, and give all the information which may be required in connexion with any of the items of the schedule.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Naval Base, Cockburn Sound : Defence Policy - Administration of the. Fisher Government : Expenditure : Western Australia - Cost of Living- - Admiralty House and Garden Island, Sydney - Small-pox : Quarantine - Taxation: Land Values.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 2445), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That the Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1914, and the Budget-papers 1913-14, laid on the table of the Senate on 14th October, be printed.
– When last addressing myself to this motion, I was dealing with the attitude of the Government on the question of defence. I suggested that they were setting aside altogether the advicetendered in Admiral Henderson’s report, or were not sincere in their efforts to give effect to it. I instanced the manner in which they are dealing with the Cockburn. Sound Naval Base, in Western Australia, and showed that they are by no means hurrying on with that most importantwork. In dealing with this matter, I am not speaking from the parochial point of view, because one of the chief recommendations of Admiral Henderson’s report was the establishment of a Naval Base on our western coastline. When we consider the length of that coastline and the importance of its protection from a strategical point of view, we must agree that no time should be lost in the construction of a Naval Base there on the lines proposed by Admiral Henderson. Instead of hurrying on with that work, and carrying out the election pledges of Sir John Forrest, who is a member of the present Ministry, and of the honorable member for Perth, the Government have blocked the execution of this work, and. the only reason advanced so far for their action is that the Minister of Defence is awaiting further expert advice on the subject. That advice is to be obtained fro. Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, who is now on his way to Australia. I wish to emphasize the fact that during the whole ofthe time Senator Pearce was in office as Minister of Defence he had men here advising him as to the defence scheme of Australia, and, guided by their advice, he took certain action. No sooner had he left office than the new Minister of Defence informs the people that he requires further expert advice before the defence projects can be gone on with. This means one of two things: Either that the experts of the Naval Branch of the Defence Department have been wrongly advising Senator Pearce, or that the members of the present Government are not sincere in the matter of defence. If the present advisers of the Minister of Defence are not good enough for him they should not occupy their present positions. The action of the Minister in turning down the expert advice given to the late Minister of Defence is equivalent to saying that the officers who gave that advice are unfit for their positions. If that be so, the sooner they are removed from them the better for Australia. I do not think that these gentlemen are unfit for their positions. I believe that they gave sound advice to the late Government, and if the present Government had followed that advice the work at Cockburn Sound would have been gone on with, and our defence scheme generally would be making much better headway than it is to-day. It is not only in connexion with Cockburn Sound that the present Minister of Defence has turned down the advice of his experts, but also in connexion with Cockatoo Island and other branches of the Defence Department.
– In one case the honorable senator rebukes me for not taking advice, and he now rebukes me for following it. I cannot be wrong in both cases.
– I understand that if proper advice had been followed the position at Cockatoo Island would be different from what it is to-day. I shall not labour that, but will confine my remarks to Cockburn Sound. The late Minister of Defence was going on with that work, but was not proceeding with it fast enough to suit Sir John Forrest, who condemned his delay from every platform in Western Australia, and through every capitalistic organ there. But as soon as the right honorable gentleman became a member of the present Government the work at Cockburn Sound automatically ceased. The Government have not pushed on with that work or with the general defence scheme of Australia, and the result has been the dismissal of about 50 per cent. of the men previously employed. There is some danger that the present Government will centralize the work in connexion with the defence scheme. From what I can learn from the Budget-papers, a very great deal of money is to be spent on defence in Sydney. I have no quarrel with that. I presume that Sydney is getting what it deserves, because of its strategical importance; but it is remarkable that while so much money is to be spent in Sydney the protection of the western side of the continent is to be ignored.
– What Sydney expenditure is the honorable senator referring to?
– I have not the papers with me, but they disclose the fact that a vast sum of money is to be spent in Sydney - a sum, in my opinion, entirely out of proportion to the amount to be spent in Western Australia. Speaking in the House of Representatives recently, the Leader of the Opposition made certain charges against the Government as regards the defence scheme ; and Mr. Cook, in reply, admitted that there was foundation for some of the charges. He did not specify which of the charges were well-founded, and we can only draw the conclusion that some of the charges made by Mr. Fisher were weighty, and could not be rebutted by the present Prime Minister. As regards the sincerity of the Government on the question of defence, it is worth our while to consider what some of the members of the Government said on the subject when they were in opposition. It is a well-known fact that the Prime Minister was always in favour of Australia paying a subsidy to the Imperial Admiralty in preference to providing for our own defence. He has stated his views’ on that subject repeatedly inside and outside this Parliament. It was only through the determination of the Labour Party and a number of the followers of Mr. Deakin that the Imperial subsidy was abolished and Australia determined to build her own Navy, or, in other words, decided to build her own house rather than pay rent. I find, from page 94 of Hansard for 1907, that Mr. Cook, in referring to the action of Mr. Deakin at the Imperial Conference, said -
I refer to his proposal for a slight Imperial duty for the purpose of Imperial Defence. I think it was the late Cecil Rhodes who first threw out that idea over twenty years ago. . . I think it was Cecil Rhodes who was the originator of the idea. I remember reading, about twenty-five years ago, a proposal made by Rhodes that there should be an Imperial duty of, I think, 2 per cent., and I am bound to say that this is an id:a which appeals strongly to my mind.
So that, besides advocating that Australia should continue to pay the Imperial subsidy of ?200,000 a year, Mr. Cook would have had an Imperial duty of, at least, 2 per cent.
– On what?
– The honorable gentleman did not say, but he mentions the purpose for which it was to be levied. Dealing with the question of obtaining expert officers from Great Britain, I find the following, at page 95 in the same speech -
Mr. Watson. ; We have been taking such steps for many years.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. I take leave to doubt even that. I think we have been getting just what we paid for.
Mr. Watson. ; Good salaries were paid to most of them.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. Yes. But we could have got better men if we had paid much higher salaries - the honorable member will not controvert that.
Then, at page 96, it will be found that he said, speaking of the subsidy -
I should like to know whether the Prime Minister subscribes to that doctrine, because it seems to me the logical sequence to our coming into the possession of ampler powers to which he referred in those splendid speeches of his. I desire here to make allusion to the supreme importance to Australia of the Naval Agreement now in existence, and in regard to this I should tike the Prime Minister to be as explicit as possible. In the Old Country the Prime Minister was explicit enough; there was no doubt about his voice there. He spoke iri resonant tones, as to which there could be no possibility of mistake, of his intentions in regard to a Naval Agreement.
Mr. Cook was then speaking of an announcement made by Mr. Deakin at the Imperial Conference, that it was the intention of the Australian Government to do away with the subsidy and start a scheme of their own for Australian defence. I shall make only one more quotation from the same speech by Mr. Cook. It will be found at page 99 of Hansard for 1907, and I think it sums up exactly the attitude of the honorable gentleman in ‘the matter of the payment of a subsidy to the Imperial Government. He said -
To decrease our contribution towards making our security as great as it is possible to make it, in view of this Asiatic menace, would be the acme of folly.
This is the statement of the gentleman who, some time ago, as Prime Minister of Australia, was present at the welcome to our Australian Fleet Unit, and talked a lot about Australia defending herself, although only a few years previously he was decidedly in favour of Australia paying rent rather than building a house of her own. Is it any wonder that, under these conditions, one is forced to the conclusion that the present Government are not sincere in carrying out and perfecting our defence scheme in the manner in which the people would like to see it carried out and perfected?
– Does the honorable senator imply that they want their grandchildren to pay for it instead of paying for it themselves?
– I am implying nothing. I am making a straightforward statement. The Fisher Government, in their Budget, provided for the establishment of Naval Bases, for transcontinental railways, for the development of the Northern Territory, for the erection of a post-office at Perth, and for the establishment of a Tasmanian fleet of steamers. I find that not much is being done in the matter of erecting a post-office at Perth, and nothing is going to be done in the way of establishing a Tasmanian fleet of steamers. The present Treasurer has ?24,000,000 to spend, but out of that sum only ?46,560 is to be spent in the State which he represents.
– The honorable senator thinks that he ought to spend more than that.
– I am dealing with another point. The Treasurer also proposes to “borrow ?3,080,000. Out of a total of nearly ?25,000,000, he intends to spend only ?106,000 in Western Australia. Yet he is supposed to be the saviour of that State; to be the only man in Western Australia - the man who has made it. Now, the Government which he assisted to displace was very much more generous to the State from which he hails than is the Government of which he is a member. During the last election campaign, the right honorable gentleman lost no opportunity of denouncing the Fisher Ministry for their niggardly treatment of the great State of Western Australia. Yet now that he is Treasurer he has practically to do what he is told by his confreres in Cabinet. This is the man who, from every platform, denounced his predecessors for their niggardly treatment of Western Australia.
– He is setting a good example by sacrificing his own State.
– That may be. I am pointing out his inconsistency. I am emphasizing the fact that, as a freelance, on the public platform he is quite a different man from what he is when he is Treasurer. I wonder where are the other two men who helped him in that campaign of slander - I refer to the honorable member for Perth and the honorable member for Dampier. Why have they not raised their voices against this niggardly treatment of Western Australia ? They have been practically dumb since their election, but they were by no means dumb on the hustings. Another instance of the insincerity of the Ministry is to be found in the great clamour which was raised by many of their members at the. time of the Dreadnought outcry. When Britain was supposed to be in danger a demand was made that Parliament should be called together to pre: sent her with a Dreadnought. But the Fisher Government did not bow to that clamour. It went calmly on with its own scheme of defence, and instead of presenting Britain with a Dreadnought, it assured her that the resources of the Commonwealth were at her disposal in time of national emergency. That is another proof of the desire of the present Government to continue a subsidy to the Imperial Admiralty either in money or in kind. I come now to the charge of extravagance which was preferred against the Fisher Government. The statement was frequently made during the recent campaign that that Government were extravagant. Yet when those who made the accusation were asked how they would curtail expenditure, none of them could give a reply.. They could not determine in what Department they would effect, savings - they could not indicate any Department in which they could govern Australia cheaper than it was being governed. Now that they are in office, the Treasurer has submitted a Budget which provides for an increased expenditure of £5,000,000 as compared with the expenditure of last year. I am not cavilling at the proposed increase. I recognise that the growing needs of Australia will continue to demand each year a greater expenditure, if we are to build up on a solid foundation this young nation of the southern seas.
– From where is the money to come?
– The method of procuring the money rests with those who are responsible for the government of the country, and as I am not a member of the Ministry it is not my province to suggest how the necessary “funds can be obtained.
– I suppose it will fall from heaven like manna.
– Nobody can deny that the growing necessities of Australia each year will involve a greater expenditure.
– If we expend more, we must get more.
– Whilst I agree with that statement, it is wrong for gentlemen who hold opposite political views to ourselves to get upon the public platform, point the finger of scorn at the Fisher Government, and to charge them with having been ona” financial drunk “ during the whole of their tenure of office. That Government spent money on the necessary development of Australia. Every penny of that expenditure was justified, and the present Ministry is unable to place its finger upon one item of expenditure which was unwarranted.
– If the Fisher Government were drunk, the present Ministry have the delirium tremens.
– Exactly. I will support the printing of the paper. I only hope that when the present Government are relieved of their Ministerial responsibilities - and that time is not far distant - they will be more temperate in their public utterances than they ‘were during the recent election campaign.
– I - I do not know that I have any great desire to continue this discussion, particularly if the Government have any further business to bring forward. If they will give me an intimation to that effect, I shall be pleased to curtail my remarks. I am rather surprised that the Senate should meet day after day, and that the Government should refuse to give it some practical work to do, with a view to making good their promises to the electors. They are constantly complaining of obstruction, when we are more than willing to meet them half way. They threaten this Chamber with all sorts of pains and. penalties, because of obstruction, and yet they have never afforded us an opportunity to give effect to the promises’ which they made to the electors, amongst them the promise to make living cheaper to the people. Every member of the Government also promised that the cost of government would be made cheaper.
– The honorable senator did not expect them to do anything in that direction?
– The people certainly believed them. What is the position of the Government in regard to their present Estimates of expenditure? I am glad to see Senator Oakes present, because he is’ one of the new ‘ members of this Senate who will not blindly follow a Ministry which is making no attempt to carry out its promises to the electors. The Government won their present position - narrowly in the other branch of the Legislature - with the aid of men of the calibre of Senator Oakes, who continually pointed tt» the extravagance of the late Government.
– He was paid to say that.
– I do not wish to suggest anything of the sort. Senator Oakes, from platform after platform, urged that the Fisher Government were extravagant, and promised to remedy that extravagance if the Liberal party were returned to power. That party are now in power. I wish to know, therefore, whether he is prepared to allow what he said on the public platform to pass as so much make-believe, and to support a Government who propose to expend this year £8,000,000 more than their predecessors spent last year 1 Last year the actual cost of government was about £20,000,000. The late Ministry left a surplus of considerably more than £2,000,000. There are moneys at the disposal of the Government amounting to about £4,000,000, and before March of next year there will be more than double that sum. Yet that is not sufficient fox the purposes of this Government, which came into power avowedly to conduct business carefully, and to manage the affairs of the country better than did their predecessors. Twenty million pounds, together with the surplus left by the late Government, is not sufficient for the present Treasurer. He has come along with a Loan Bill for £3,080,000. I ask Senator Oakes whether he approves of the additional extravagance which is foreshadowed in the Budget-papers? The Government have presented. their Estimates without one promise of reform. Their promises on the public platform are forgotten. I might go further, and ask Senator Oakes whether he will follow the example of the Government in another place; will he join Ministers in gagging members of the Senate as members of another place are being gagged? I do not think so. I do not think that the Government will attempt that policy here, where the conditions are not so favorable for tyrants as they are elsewhere. The atmosphere of the Senate is such, and our constituencies are so large, that there are not the same opportunities for a little, smallminded, unscrupulous clique to conduct itself in an unseemly fashion. Although Senator Oakes and Senator Millen may join forces in putting an unscrupulous statement of the position before the electors, they will be very careful here, where their words and votes are recorded. I venture to say that they will keep silent, and make no excuse for proposals which are a complete reversal of the promises which their party made to the country - votes for millions of money, not required for the ordinary purposes of government, but for purposes which, I venture to say, had the late Government still been managing the affairs of the country, would have been paid for without injury to any one section of the community. Expenditure is fast increasing, and the Government have no policy but to borrow. The Home Government, in defence matters, have also to deal with an annual increasing expenditure; but, side by side with, that, they are reducing the public debt. They have the courage to tell the people of Great Britain that if they require good government and efficient defence they must pay for them. The present Commonwealth Ministry has enjoyed an uninterrupted period of four months in the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth, and they have not yet indicated any direction in which the saving which they promised is to take place. What benefit will the people of Australia obtain from the change of Government ? The peoplewere led to believe that a change would involve a reduction in the cost of living and of the national expenditure. But what have the people to show for what this Government have done ?
– They have the new postage stamp.
– That is true; and I believe that if Ministers and their followers sit quietly in their places, and make no attempt to carry out the promises which they made, they will receive the same treatment as the new postage stamp will get.
– A licking?
– I am pleased to see that my honorable friend has correctly indicated what the Government deserve. I venture to add that the Government will also be stamped, and that the mark placed upon them as they go through the machine will remain indelible for all time. I rose particularly, however, to direct attention to two matters affecting the policy of this Government which are being neglected by them; and, although I have alluded to them previously, I shall continue to rise in my place and direct attention to them, even at the expense of wearying honorable senators. The party opposite promised every constituency in Australia cheaper living and cheaper government. It is therefore “up to “ the members of the Government in the Senate to make an effort to carry out those promises. I want to know what steps they are going to take in that direction. What have they done since they have been in office to correct extravagance and reduce the cost of administration ? They have done nothing. Surely, then, it is incumbent upon them honestly to confess that they were mistaken, and that they really did not know what it cost to manage this country and defend it. It is announced this morning in the newspapers that Mr. Cook has taken possession of Garden Island and Admiralty House, Sydney, and the inference is that, even though the Commonwealth goes to war with New South Wales, it will remain in possession of them. That is exactly what one might expect from a Government like this. Ministers are prepared to make New South Wales, because she is the most wealthy and popular State in Australia, pay for their extravagance. If New South Wales has claims against the Commonwealth, she must assert them through the Law Courts. The Prime Minister has, in fact, adopted very much the position that was taken up by one of the chiefs of his party in the State Parliament in regard to wire netting and steel rails. This Government have also isolated Sydney by quarantine to a distance of 15 miles from the General Post Office. It has hampered business, delayed development, and interfered with trade to an enormous extent. It has refused all claims for investigation into the nature of the disease on account of which quarantine has been enforced. It has allowed itself to be governed and guided by a few medical officers, who were not prepared to submit to a full and fair investigation. I am waiting patiently to hear what will be advanced in defence of this reckless and extravagant Government in these matters. But instead of their defence being forthcoming, we have them forcing Bills through the other House, without affording the people of the country an opportunity of knowing what their effects will be by means of the ordinary courtesies of debate.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to allude to the proceedings in another place.
– I was trying to get as close as I could to being out of order without overstepping the line. If I have inadvertently done so, I apologize. I point out, however, that I was not commenting upon the conduct of the other House, but upon the conduct of the Government, and I should like to know whether I am not in order in so doing. Is it not open to a member of the Senate to condemn the action of the Government in its transaction of business, both in the other House and here?
– The honorable senator is perfectly entitled to criticise the methods of the Government, but he is not justified in criticising the proceedings of another place.
– I shall not offend again. I am debarred from using the language that would fitly apply to the conduct of the Government in another place, because the Standing Orders do not permit me to use words which would be appropriate. It has been the conduct of selfishly petulant children. Ministers have been complaining everywhere that they have been badly treated. Not only is that complaint without justification as to their treatment elsewhere, but in this House they have been generously dealt with. I am perfectly satisfied that the electors of the country are just as good judges of the situation as are we who are sitting here; and I feel sure that, when they have an opportunity in the very near future, they will tell these gentlemen that they have not carried out their promises in remedying extravagance and reducing the cost of living, and will express their opinion in no uncertain way.
, - Like Senator Gardiner, I do not intend to address the Senate at length; but there are some matters connected with the public expenditure that ought to be referred to. It must be apparent to every one who studies the Budget figures that the expenditure of the Commonwealth has not only overtaken our income, but now exceeds it. Every thinking man knows that neither an individual nor community can for any length of time pursue a course of that kind. I warned the previous Government as to the crisis which was likely to be brought about, and I would direct the attention of the present Government to the same facts. The revenue since Federation has gone up by leaps and bounds. While the population of Australia has increased by only 25 per cent, since 1900, the revenue has increased by 50 per cent. That is an increase which I do not think can be continued. The taxpaying capacity of Australia during the last ten years has been very large. But we know that bad seasons succeed good seasons. Times of stress and adversity succeed times of prosperity. We have had a very long period of prosperity. We have spent our public revenues with a lavish hand. Within the near future, in all probability, we shall have bad times, and then whatever Government happens to be in power will have to undertake the unpleasant duty of cutting down expenditure. We have that sort of thing taking place in every State. Hitherto we have had no experience of it in national affairs. But that it will come is, I think, as sure as that the sun will rise, to-morrow. Wise men try to prepare for the day of adversity, just as when the mariner sees a storm coming he hauls in sail. I think that the Commonwealth might very well haul in sail. We are spending money at a most extraordinary rate, and really I do not know how that expenditure is to be met in the very near future. That is what is troubling me, because I find that the present Government is not at all anxious to impose additional taxation. It will not tax the rich. Why? Because it is the creature of the rich; because it is the servant of the rich; because it has been placed in power, not only by the rich people of Australia, but by the people who believe in the present capitalistic system. We cannot hope for anything from the present Government. I do not know what the next Government may do. I know that the last Government had an opportunity of doing something which it neglected. I trust that if ever a Labour Government is in power again it will grasp the nettle with a firm hand.
– Put on the “ gag.”
– The “gag” is a matter of no earthly consequence; it does not trouble me. I am troubled about a policy which is tying up the lands and resources of Australia, hindering its development, and rapidly running the Commonwealth on the rocks. I would like to know from the Government, or from any member of the Senate, what item of our present expenditure can be cut off. A prominent member of the present Government, some timo ago, suggested that the old-age pensions might be interfered with. I think that the opportunity will very soon present itself, because in a year or two our expenditure will be much greater than our revenue, and then the opportunity will come to those gentlemen who believe in robbing the poor to show their teeth.
– The iceberg will melt before then.
– It is to be hoped so. Whatever Government is in power will have to provide for almost every item of the present expenditure. The old-age pensions will not be interfered with; the people of Australia will not permit such a thing to take place. The maternity allowance, I believe, will not be interfered with. So far as I can see, there is not a single item of the present expenditure that can be touched. If that is the case, where are we to find the money ? Is it to come from the Customs? The people of Australia are paying heavier taxation per head through the Customs than are the people of any other country. The
Customs taxation has risen since 1900 from a little over £2 per head to £3 5s. per head last year. Ours is purely a revenue Tariff, and the probability is that if the duties are made protective the revenue obtained from that source will be very much less than it is at present. Even if the revenue Tariff is continued, we cannot hope to meet our present expenditure without taxation, and, as I have pointed out, the Government has made up its mind, apparently, not to impose additional taxation; at least, that is its present position. But if taxation becomes necessary, if the expenditure exceeds the income - either the expenditure will have to be cut down or the revenue increased. That is, broadly speaking, the position which any Government that is in power in the near future will most undoubtedly have to face. I have no hope, in a crisis of that kind, for the country if the present Government, or one holding similar opinions, is in power. The only hope of the country when that unfortunate period does arrive is in having a Government which is able, patriotic, and bold enough to go in for a rational system of taxation. I have referred to thiB matter on many occasions here, and probably I will refer to it several times again. In Australia, we have a leakage of money which ought to pass into the public Treasury of between £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 per annum. That sum is created by the annual increase of community value. Instead of passing, as it ought to do, into the public Treasury, it goes into the pockets of private individuals. Since Federation, no less a sum than £200,000,000 has so been created by the people, and has so passed into the pockets of the private owners of land. There is a sum which, I think, might be found exceedingly valuable to the people of this continent in a time of stress and strain such as I have alluded to; and that is the direction, so far as I can see, which increased taxation must inevitably take. No doubt, when I call it taxation I am not giving it its proper name. It is not taxation, but restitution. It is merely the paying of values created by the people to the whole people of Australia instead of to a section of the people. We shall have to adopt in Australia the policy which the Liberal party in Great Britain finds it must adopt. I could say a very great deal, if I cared to do so, on our Imperial policy, so called; but I do not care to say very much on that aspect of the question. All that I will say is that the heart is being eaten out of Great Britain by landlordism. The people are getting poor and abject and are in industrial slavery owing to the wicked system of landlordism. I ask honorable members, and the people of Australia, to remember that, in the matter of defence, we are associating ourselves with a country which is allowing its huge revenues to be wasted on a system of landlordism. I am glad to see, however, that the people are awakening to the situation, and that Mr. Lloyd-George has set out on a mission of restitution. I trust that he will be successful in the attack he is making on the propertied classes.. The same thing must be done here. The great masses of our people are more heavily taxed than are the people of almost any other country. Wealth is being piled up here probably faster than anywhere else. The rich escape comparatively free from taxation, and they must be called upon, and they, I believe, will be called upon in the’ near future, to pay their share. Senator Clemons, in dealing with the Loan Bill, remarked that, in his opinion, the development of Australia had suffered very largely because the various Governments did not build the railways in advance of settlement. I interjected that the railways already built in Australia were capable of settling ten times the population. I repeat that statement. If railway construction were stopped to-morrow, and the big estates along the railway lines already existing were put up and made available at their real use-value, our population could be increased tenfold within the next few years without, as I have said, adding a single mile to our present railway system. Our method of building railways has been a most unfortunate one. Railways have been built through huge areas held, in many cases, by large owners who sat down and would not permit settlement until those who required the land for cultivation were prepared to pay them their price.
– Which means paying for the railways over again.
– Yes, in many cases; in fact, it is quite a common thing for selectors to have to go out beyond the railway line and, when a sufficient number of them get there, to club together, and agitate for a railway, and so the
Government is compelled to build line after line. That would be unnecessary, I believe, if the lands alongside the lines already built were cut up and made available for settlement. There is only one method of compelling that to be done, and that is by means of land-value taxation. I, for one, have very great hopes that in the near future something effective in that direction will have to be done. The needs of the country will compel something to be done, and, so far as I can see, there is no other available method for raising revenue. If that is done, it will be a most excellent thing for Australia. It will free millions of acres of land which are now held by monopolists. It will cheapen land; it will attract hundreds of thousands of people from other portions of the globe. It will do something more, I believe; it will tend to break down the tendency which unfortunately exists on the part of the people of Australia to herd themselves it cities. Half of our population is now living in the cities. That is a state of affairs which cannot be good for any country. There are 600,000 people living in Sydney, whereas there are only about 1,700,000 persons in the whole of New South Wales. There are 500,000 people living in Melbourne, nearly 200,000 in Adelaide, . and so on. Taking Australia all round, we find that about 50 per cent. of the people live in the cities, and only 50 per cent. live on the land. Something nearer a fair proportion would be 75 per cent. living on the land and 25 per cent. in the cities. I do not believe that we will ever have a really healthy national life until the proportion is somewhere about what I have stated.
– They will not go into the country just because you tell them that it is good for their health to go there.
– I know that very well. I know the reasons why people do not go into the country to live.
– Do you know the reasons why they come into the cities ?
– Yes, I have some idea of that. One reason is that they find it very difficult to obtain land on which to settle.
– They like asphalt better than mud, that is all.
– That is one aspect of it, but it is not by any means the whole thing. It is the duty of any Go vernment to try to make life in the country comfortable, happy, and profitable. No Australian Government so far has made any attempt to do that. On the contrary, they have, in the past, taken the exactly opposite course, and have made life in the country difficult and unprofitable. The people who have had a political pull in the past seized all the very best lands of Australia, and held them up for ransom, and when the industrious settler with a family wanted a piece of land he was driven out on to the barren ridges far from railway lines and markets, and often outside the rain area. Life was made so very difficult and unprofitable for him that, in disgust, he rushed into the city. That is the position, and Senator Bakhap knows it as well as I do. I say that any party that calls itself an Australian party should do everything in its power to remedy that state of things. There are fair and fertile lands in Australia, fairer and more fertile, perhaps, than in any other country . I know of. But the great bulk of these areas are held by speculators - men who have cornered land. We hear a great deal about trusts and combines and men who have effected corners, and the results upon the cost of living. Has it ever occurred to honorable senators that land monopoly in Australia has something to do with the cost of living? Is it any wonder that the cost of living is increasing, when half of our population are living in the cities, and do nothing to produce food for themselves.
– We have to sell half the agricultural produce of the country to other countries.
– That may be so. I know that we have a good deal for export, but surely the honorable senator expects us to grow more food than we require for ourselves. We ought to be growing five or six times the quantity we are growing, and should be exporting the greater portion of it.
– We all want to get rich ; why not ?
– I do not think so. I do not know what Senator Bakhap’s ambition may be, but if it is his ambition to do no more than to become merely rich, that seems to me a very mean and unworthy ambition.
– As a condition precedent, it is a very laudable ambition.
– I have never thought so. The nian who- is rich, in the usual acceptation of the term, knows that because he is rich perhaps a hundred other persons must be poor. However, we are not dealing with individuals, but with a national policy. I see that the drift of the people is into the cities, and I ask myself the reason. I find the reason in land monopoly, and in the difficulty which our country settlers find in making a living for themselves.
– Because the electric light of the city is better than the candle of the country - that is another reason.
– I do not see why the electric light should not be carried into the bush and the telephone taken to every home in Australia. If our people were not scattered as they are, and had not been obliged to go away to the wilds and fastnesses of the country through the monopoly of land, it would be very much easier to provide for all their wants than it is under existing conditions. I know that in this matter I am speaking to an unsympathetic Government. The party at present in power opposed the land tax tooth and nail. I have been astonished that they have so far made no attempt to repeal it. We were told that it was an iniquitous impost, that it was robbery and unjust class taxation. Every objectionable epithet furnished by the dictionary was hurled at the land tax proposals of the late Government, but, although the party opposite are now enthroned in the seat of power, they make no attempt whatever to abolish it.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - They find the proceeds very useful.
– They have attempted to re-establish the postal vote; they have raised the question of preference to unionists into a national one; but we do not hear a word from them on the subject of land-value taxation. The thing is unexplainable except by the reason suggested by Senator O’Loghlin that they find the money derived from the land tax very useful. There is one matter to which I wished to refer, but I have been unable to get a copy of the magazine containing an article upon the subject, from which I desired to quote. I refer to the policy of naval defence. The article I mention was by Mr. Archibald Hurd, who is regarded as an authority upon naval defence. He states that the people of Australia might just as well throw their money into the sea as spend it upon a Fleet. He says that such a Fleet as they are able to put on the water at the present moment can be of no earthly use to them, and could not make itself felt against any Power that is likely to attack Australia.
– Does the honorable senator indorse that opinion ?
– I do. I have expressed that opinion times out of number. I never mentioned it inside this chamber because I felt that my opinion on a matter of that kind was really not worth very much’, but I have mentioned it to members of this Parliament privately on scores of occasions. I would not mention it here now but for the fact that Mr. Hurd, who is regarded as an authority, seems to hold exactly the same opinion. I do not think it is at all likely that anything I may say or anything Mr. Hurd may write will have the effect of altering our system of naval defence, but I should like to ask honorable senators what our Fleet could do if the Fleet of Japan were to come down here and attack it.
– We might find out soon what it would be able to do.
– -I think we could easily tell without having that experience. We know that any Fleet that Australia is able to put on the water would be blown out of it in half-an-hour by such a Fleet as any great Power might send here. The position I take up is that our resources will not enable us to establish a Fleet sufficiently strong to meet the Fleet of any great Power opposed to it.
– Not even if we could get the £20,000,000 to which the honorable senator has alluded?
– We have not got them yet, and if Senator Bakhap has any say in the matter, we will not get them. The honorable senator will take very good care of that. The position I take up is that any Fleet we can put on the water will be absolutely useless against such an enemy as is likely to come here and attack us. Naval defence is outside our capacity altogether. That being the case, we ought to confine ourselves to shore defence. If we spent the millions which we are now putting into a Fleet upon shore fortifications, torpedo boats, and land defence generally, I think it would be quite possible to put Australia in a position which would enable her to give a good account of herself against any invading force which a foreign foe might send here.
– Is not the Navy the first and best line of defence ?
– It is, if we have a Navy.
– We must start in a small way.
– We must; but we do not know what time we are going to be given. In twenty, thirty, or fifty years we may have a Navy equal to that of Japan or Germany, but Japan or some other Power might attack us next year, and in that case our present Navy would be of no more value to us than if the ships were so many mosquitoes.
– There is a good deal of luck in war.
– I am quite aware of that, but the luck is usually, as the honorable senator knows, with the big battalions. I think we could devise an effective land defence for Australia. That is quite within our means.
– Of some of the settled portions, perhaps.
– We cannot pretend to defend every mile of the Australian coast.
– We are doing so when we have a Fleet.
– Yes, if we had an effective Fleet; but I say that we cannot put an effective Fleet on the water.
– We might do so very quickly if we were not spending so much on railway construction across deserts.
– I do not approve of railway construction across deserts any more than does Senator Bakhap, but I suppose that the honorable senator will vote for the expenditure of this money. We are simply wasting our money in providing a defence which is not a defence, and which, in the very nature of things, cannot be effective. Instead of spending this money upon a Fleet, we could duplicate our railway lines along the coast, we could widen the gauge of our railways, we could fortify our larger cities, and carry out other defensive works of that kind. In regard to what my honorable friend opposite said about defending the whole of the coast-line of Australia, let me remind him that that coast-line is one of the most inhospitable in the world. Any invading army would have to bring its food with it, its water, and, indeed, everything that it required. It could not levy tribute on the inhabitants there, because there are no inhabitants. It could not go into the corn-fields and get its rations, because there are no corn-fields. It would either starve for want of food, or want of water, or both. So that any attack which is made upon Australia will probably be made on one of the settled portions of this continent. In any case, I do not wish to pursue the matter further. I rose merely to warn the Government that our expenditure had overtaken our income, that it now exceeds it, that within a very short time there must be a financial crisis; and to point out that, in the interests of Australia, it would be wise to provide for such a contingency now rather than to be caught in a cyclonic storm at some later date.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
– I move -
That it be an instruction to the Select Committee inquiring into the dismissal of Henry Chinn that Mr. Chinn’s qualifications, when appointed to his position, be considered by such Committee, seeing that his dismissal was on the grounds of inefficiency.
As the Senate is aware, a Select Committee was some time ago appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. After the preliminary investigations by that body, a decision was arrived at in secret to the effect that the qualifications of Mr, Chinn should not be considered, on the ground that they had previously been inquired into by a Royal Commission elsewhere. Later on, when certain questions were put to Mr. Chinn, it was held that he could not be cross-examined as to his qualifications. As the Committee has been appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn, I think that the public have a right to know the full facts of the case from the date of his appointment to the date of his discharge.
– Was not a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into his qualifications ?
– It is well known that the Senate possesses co-ordinate rights with the other branch of the Legislature, and the public will not be satisfied with an inquiry which deals only with half of the charge which has been preferred against Mr. Chinn.
– What half?
– The half dealing with his dismissal. Mr. Chinn was discharged, not because of any particular act, but because he was not qualified for the position which he held. The basis of his discharge was inefficiency.
– Has there been any refusal on the part of the Committee to inquire into that?
– Yes. If I read the newspapers correctly, when Mr. Starke was attempting to cross-examine Mr. Chinn as to his qualifications, he was prevented from doing so on the ground that the Committee were not inquiring into his qualifications.
– The honorable senator is altogether wrong.
– Does Senator de Largie admit that his qualifications should be considered?
– Most certainly.
– Then the honorable senator will agree to this motion.
– I will let the honorable senator know very quickly where I arn. when I rise to speak upon it.
– I hold that the fullest daylight should be thrown upon the whole position, in view of the public interest which has been aroused over the matter. It is very necessary for us to know whether Mr. Chinn was qualified to fill the position to which he was appointed. If the present inquiry is to be limited to determining whether he carried out his work efficiently-
– He was engaged only for one job.
– As he is a professional man, it is absolutely necessary that the public should know whether he possesses qualifications to fill the office to which he was appointed. I notice that one or two honorable senators who are members of the Committee have stated that they have absolutely open minds on the matter. I congratulate them upon that fact, because I venture to say that any person accepting a seat upon the Committee should do so with an open mind. He has to consider all the aspects of the case, and not merely the dismissal of Mr. Chinn.
– Has the honorable senator considered the enormous cost which would be involved in bringing professional, men from all over Australia ?
– If Senator Gardiner raises that objection seriously-
– I do.
– Does he base bis objection to the course which I have suggested on the mere ground of expense?
– I do.
– Then the honorable senator admits that, from the legal standpoint, my contention is correct? As a matter of fact, the expense that would be incurred would be very small.
– The Prime Minister does not think so.
– All the evidence in connexion with the qualifications of Mr. Chinn can be obtained in Melbourne. I do not think that the Government will resist any legitimate claim by. Mr. Chinn-
– They refused him the services of a lawyer.
– They may refuse to accept the dictum of the Committee that it is necessary to travel to any particular spot.
– The honorable senator has so little regard for the Senate that he is prepared to eat dirt.
– I am not prepared to eat the honorable senator. He would be a very bad cough lolly. I submit that the Committee should inquire into Mr. Chum’s qualifications. If the inquiry concerned a man connected with the medical profession who had been appointed to take charge of a hospital, the first thing that my honorable friends would ask would be, “ What are his qualifications?” They would want to know whether his credentials were worthy of credence, or whether he had been appointed upon some superficial authority. The public outside will demand that Mr. Chinn should prove his qualifications, his experience, and his expert knowledge. He claims to be a qualified man, and he has a right to have his claims fully considered. The only way they can be determined is by ascertaining what qualifications he possessed when he was appointed to the position which he formerly held.
– Has that been refused ?
– If it has not, my case is a very simple one, and Senator de Largie ought to be only too ready to support it.
– Has the honorable senator anything to show that Mr., Chinn ‘s published qualifications are not correct?
– I join in the opinion which is expressed outside that the inquiry by the Committee has been shortened by a refusal to consider his qualifications at the time of his appointment.
– Will the honorable senator guarantee the funds with which to prosecute the inquiry?
– Does the honorable senator take me for a flat?
– The honorable senator speaks like one.
– We have a right to the information which I seek. A Select Committee conducting an inquiry at the instigation of this Chamber cannot shelter itself behind the fact that another inquiry was held by another Chamber.
– It was not. It was held by a Judge of the Supreme Court.
– This Chamber has no right to shelter itself behind a plea of that sort.
– The Government got behind it by dismissing Mr. Chinn.
– The very Standing Orders of the Senate give me the right to move a motion of this character, which seeks to give an instruction tq a Select Committee, if we think it is not conducting its inquiry in a reasonable way. My opinion is that the fullest daylight has not been shed upon every phase of that inquiry.
– The honorable senator is talking awful rot.
– We shall see how far I am wrong when Senator de Largie, who represents the Chinn Committee, expresses his views upon this motion.
– The honorable senator could have had a seat upon the Committee if he had chosen.
– I was not prepared to accept a seat upon a Committee of this character. The Prime Minister had dismissed a public officer, and my honorable friends could scarcely expect me, as a party follower, to sit in judgment on his action. Mr. Chinn has a right to have his grievances ventilated here. He would have lost nothing of that right even if no Select Committee had been appointed to inquire into his case. But when an inquiry has been instituted, we have a perfect right to say that it shall be a full and comprehensive one. If the judgment I have formed, from the interjections which have been made, be correct, Senator de Largie is at one with me that the inquiry
– I will show the honorable senator where I am not at one with him.
– I thought that the honorable senator was quite sympathetic in regard to this motion. I should like the honorable senator to show where Mr. Starke was wrong in seeking to put certain questions to Mr. Chinn. In the circumstances, I submit this motion for the consideration of the Senate.
– Senator Oakes, in putting this motion on the business-paper, has shown extremely bad taste. He had an opportunity of becoming a member of the Select Committee, and, had he embraced it, he would have been in a position to take part in the inquiry. This motion is a piece of bare-faced hypocrisy - nothing more or less. The intention is simply to mislead public opinion in reference to a case which has been under “ investigation for several weeks. I say that a man who would lend himself to a piece of sharp practice of this kind is hardly worthy of the name of a man. Senator Oakes was asked, in common with other members of the Ministerial party, to become a member of the Committee. I mention this fact to show that, from the first, we desired to secure the fullest possible investigation of the case. There was no attempt whatever to burke inquiry. But what was the attitude of honorable senators opposite ? Only one of them could be induced to become a member of the Committee, and that was Senator Bakhap - to his credit be it said. Senators Gould, Oakes, and Keating were also asked to become members, but I was unable to induce one of them to do so. Had they consented, the Committee being one of seven, they would have had a clear majority for their party.
– Would the honorable senator have taken the whole four ?
– Undoubtedly, the whole four had an opportunity of joining the Committee; and, if they had all accepted, I give my assurance that I should have been willing that they should be members. The fact that Senator Oakes was one of those who declined shows how much of a genuine desire for investigation there is behind this motion, seeing that he tried to prevent any inquiry at all.
– The motion would never have been submitted if Senator de Largie, as Chairman of the Committee, had not taken up the attitude he did in regard to the cross-examination of Mr. Chinn by Mr. Starke.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator has not taken the trouble to inform himself as to the proceedings of the Committee. His interjection shows how his mind is prejudiced in regard to this case. He has not even taken the trouble to inquire whether there was any restriction of the inquiry as to Mr. Chinn’s ability as an engineer.
– Did not the honorable senator refuse Mr. Starke the opportunity of cross-examining Mr. Chinn on the evidence given in his examination ?
– On what point ?
– On the questions which Senator de Largie, as Chairman, put to Mr. Chinn.
– This motion relates to Mr. Chinn’s efficiency, and on that I say “ No.” Not the slightest obstacle has been placed in the way of Mr. Starke, or anybody else, inquiring into Mr. Chinn’s efficiency. I advise Senator Oakes not to leave the chamber, because I am going to deal with him throughout my remarks. I have said sufficient to show that there is no justification whatever for this motion, and that the whole intention is to aim a blow at a man who has been down for some time, and whom the other side have been kicking whilst down in every way they possibly could. This motion is only another cowardly blow at “ the bottom dog.” I leave honorable senators and the public to judge whether tactics of this kind can, or cannot, be approved. I assure the public that, as far as the investigation has gone, the most extensive and elaborate cross-examination into Mr. Chinn’s efficiency as an engineer has been possible. Every opportunity has been extended to those whose duty it was to inquire. There has been no restriction in any shape or form.
– Then why object to the motion?
– Senator Gould is a little bit previous. How does he know that I am going to vote against the motion?
– The honorable member seems to be objecting to it.
– I have not said a word against the motion yet. I will satisfy Senator Gould’s anxiety by telling him forthwith that I am going to support the motion, and I hope that every other honorable senator on this side will do the same.
– I shall not.
– I have no doubt that the motion has been moved for the very purpose of being thrown out. I, therefore, advise all my honorable friends to vote for it. The submission of it is part of a game to try to mislead the public on this question. Public opinion has already been misled to a great extent by fabricated reports published from time to time. I shall vote for the motion after taking this opportunity of showing that Senator Oakes’ attitude in the matter is far from being one which an honorable man ought to have taken up. I have already pointed out that he had an opportunity of being a member of the Select Committee, and refused ; and I may add that he and his party did all they could to prevent the Select Committee coming into existence. Now he has the audacity to put on the business-paper a motion giving a direction to a Committee appointed in spite of him. His action is worthy of a supporter of this Government, which has taken every step it could to burke inquiry, even going the length of refusing funds to the Select Committee to go to Kalgoorlie or to bring evidence from that place. I maintain that the honorable senator’s action, in common with that of his Government, is a most shameful one, to which no honorable man should have stooped. Senator Oakes did not know his book, or he would not have tabled this motion, and given us an opportunity to expose his case by public criticism.
– I know enough to get the honorable senator to vote for the motion.
– There has never been a doubt as to my voting for it. The difficulty has been to get the honorable senator to bring the matter forward. He has been shuffling about it, and getting it postponed from time to time. “Why did he not, instead of postponing the motion, move it when he had an opportunity, if he was so anxious to compel the Committee to inquire in a certain direction?
– Because the honorable senator knows that the motion was objected to as “not formal.”
– The honorable senator could have moved his motion before now had he been anxious to do so. But, as a matter of fact, he wanted it passed without discussion. He knew that he was going to be subjected to a showing up. We were well aware of his attitude on the matter. He wished to avoid being exposed. I am taking this opportunity of showing the kind of man he is. His is indeed a nice, manly attitude to be taken up ! It is the sort of thing that I should expect from politicians of his type!
– Thank you; very polite.
– I am truthful and straight. I cannot say that you are.
– The honorable senator must address the Chair. I also remind him that he is sailing rather close to the wind.
– The honorable senator should have thought twice before putting such a motion on the businesspaper, especially as, instead of trying to help the inquiry, he had done his best to burke it. Now he comes forward with the pretence that he is anxious for a complete investigation. I leave the public to judge whether his action is worthy of a member of the Senate.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.37].- It was quite refreshing to listen to the speech which we have just heard coming from one who has announced his intention of supporting the motion, to which, last week, he objected as “not formal.” My attitude on this subject has been clear from the beginning. In my opinion, Senator Oakes has .taken a straightforward and manly course in putting this motion on the business-paper; inasmuch as he was under the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the inquiry had not been pursued as he thought it ought to be, but, on the contrary, had been hindered by the Chairman and the majority working with him. Senator Oakes, holding that view - whether it was right or wrong - did the manly thing in submitting a motion, which says to the Select Committee, “ The Senate created you, and now asks you to conduct the examination upon lines which you have not hitherto followed.” Surely Senator Oakes ought not to be held up to ridicule and contempt for that action. I am glad that Senator de Largie recognises that it is useless to have an inquiry and only pursue it half way. The motion is plain enough. The Committee were appointed to inquire and report, first, as to the .dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn; and, secondly, as to whether he had been justly treated by the present Government. That opened the door to a very wide inquiry. It opened the door to an inquiry, not only as to the qualifications and fitness of Mr. Chinn, but as to whether the Government had treated him honorably and justly; or whether they had taken advantage of their position and treated him dishonestly and improperly. If the Committee could bring up a report to the effect that he had been unjustly treated by the present Government, it would be a very severe censure against those who did that injustice.
– It would not affect you very much.
– When certain honorable senators on the other side asked Senator Oakes, Senator Keating, and myself, to join with them in an inquiry as to whether the conduct of the Government had been just, honest, and proper, it was unreasonable to expect old parliamentarians, who had been watching this matter for a long time, to accede to the request.
– You did not always think that way. You did not think that way when an inquiry into Major Carroll’s case was sought. I have not forgotten your attitude at that time.
.- What did I do then that was wrong ?
– You were in favour of an inquiry when there was a Protectionist Government in office.
– Yes; because I considered that some unfair treatment, apparently, had been meted out to Major Carroll, and it was right enough to have an inquiry into the case.
– Why did you not take up the same attitude in Mr. Chinn’s case?
– First, because I had confidence in the Government; second, because I had the opportunity of knowing the charges which had been made against Mr. Chinn before; and, third, because I had the opportunity of knowing that, as the result of an inquiry, certain charges were not proven, leaving the matter in a very uncertain and unsettled condition.
– There was not a single charge proven.
– The finding of the Royal Commission amounted to practically a Scotch verdict of “Not proven” in regard to the charges.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I say again that, in my opinion, the finding of the Commission was practically the Scotch verdict of “ Not proven.” I have no fault to find with the finding of the Judge; but I think that the matter might have been carried a good deal further, and that additional evidence might have been adduced.
– Did, or did not, the Judge have all the testimonials before him?
– There were certain testimonials, on which Mr. Chinn was originally appointed, stating that he had been a very good friend to the Labour party, and that he deserved consideration at the hands of the Labour Government. Those were, I believe, the only testimonials that were laid on the Library table in the first instance. Later, we found that there were other testimonials which ought to have been submitted at first.
– Why was Mr. Chinn dismissed ?
– Because he had proved himself incompetent and insubordinate. Any one who has read the evidence in the press with an impartial eye cannot say otherwise than that it has been proved that Mr. Chinn was insubordinate. I did not object to the Senate, if it saw fit, making a full inquiry into the case; nor will I give my voice in favour of throwing any obstacle in the way of the fullest and most complete inquiry upon any matter that the Senate may refer to a Select Committee.
– You tried to burke an inquiry at the start.
– Yes. As an individual member of the Senate I had the right to vote, and I exercised my right of voting against the appointment of the Select Committee. I would do so to-morrow if I were placed in a like position.
– Because, from the information which was then public property, I was satisfied that the action of the Government towards Mr. Chinn was all right.
– You judged the case without evidence at all.
– The evidence of the EngineerinChief has all tended to prove that the action taken by the Government was absolutely right.
– You have no right to make that statement, for it is not true.
– Is it fair to prejudge the nature of a report to be made ?
– I am not doing so. I have not said a word in regard to what the report is going to be.
– .Yet you say that you are satisfied with the action of the Government.
– From the evidence of the EngineerinChief , it appears to my mind that the action of the Government has been justified. Of course, I admit that every honorable senator has the right to form his own conclusion from the evidence which may come forward. There may be additional evidence which I have not seen, or which may be brought forward. But, so far as the inquiry has gone, I am prepared to accept the statement of Mr. Henry Deane as unreservedly as I would that of any man in Australia. I knew that gentleman for a great number of years while he was in the Public Service of New South Wales, and I do not think that he has ever been guilty, wilfully or knowingly, of doing anything dishonorable in relation to any person. T think that Senator Oakes is. acting honestly and straightforwardly in the action he is taking. In dealing with the question of Mr. Chinn’s competency or incompetency, it is very desirable, not only to inquire into the circumstances which may have happened a month or two prior to his dismissal, but also to ascertain what the character of the man really is. For instance, has he proved himself generally to be a competent engineer? Does he hold testimonials and recommendations which would show him to be a competent engineer? If he holds such documents, it stands a great deal in his favour when a Committee is considering whether he was dismissed properly and rightly for incompetency at a particular juncture. I do not say that, because he may have had in the minds of some men a career of competency and fitness, therefore it would be impossible to find that he was incompetent. It has often been found that men who in many ways have shown themselves competent, in some matter or in certain circumstances fail to show that degree of efficiency which they are called upon to exhibit to justify their retention in a particular office. If Mr. Chinn was dismissed illegally, he has a remedy in the Courts if he chooses to go there. My honorable friends on the other side say, “ We are not going to ask Mr. Chinn to do that. We look at the matter from another stand-point, and ask: Is it a fair thing that he should be dismissed ? Parliament is going to see that a fair thing is done to him.”
– If you had had your way, that attempt would not have been made. You refused to sanction an inquiry and give the man a chance.
– Mr. Chinn got his opportunity.
– No thanks to you.
– Just so. I have a perfect right to record my vote in favour of or against any motion which is submitted here.
– You have to take the responsibility.
– Yes, I take the responsibility. I would take the same action to-morrow if the matter were brought forward again.
– You would hang the man without Judge or jury.
– I was satisfied that proper action had been taken by the Government and that the desire of the mover of the motion, judging by its terms, was not to show that any mistake had been committed by the Government in dismissing Mr. Chinn, but to show, in connexion with the way they had acted, that the mistake had been a dishonest one. I am not prepared to go on a Committee which is to be appointed for the purpose, if possible, of bringing in a censure against a Government I am supporting.
– That is a nice charge.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is in order in reflecting on the Select Committee.
– I am very sorry, sir, if my remarks have conveyed the impression that I am taking objection to the action of the Senate in appointing the Select Committee.
– They are positively indecent. You are anticipating the verdict.
– I stated some time ago that I took no objection to the action of the Senate in appointing a Select Committee, but that I was not prepared to go on the Committee, and I have the right to exercise my own judgment as to whether I shall vote for or against such a motion.
– I rise to order. I want to know, sir, whether Senator Gould is in order in reflecting on the action of the Senate by anticipating the report of a Select Committee, and what its decision will be? It is positively indecent.
– I did not hear the honorable senator reflect upon the action of the Senate.
– May I be permitted, sir, to draw your attention to the words which Senator Gould used. He said that the Select Committee was created for the purpose of bringing in what was equal to a vote of censure on the Government.
– I said that if I was to judge by the wording of the motion, a Select Committee was to be appointed to inquire whether the action of the Government was honest and fair, and that I was not prepared to sit in judgment on a Committee dealing with circumstances of that character.
– You said more.
– I took the wording of the motion.
– I ask, sir, that the Hansard notes of the honorable senator’s remarks be taken.
– I listened carefully to -what Senator Gould said. What he did say was that, judging from the terms of the motion calling the Committee into existence and other circumstances, he could only come to the conclusion that it was created for the special purpose of censuring the Government, or words to that effect. As soon as he made use of that statement I called him to order for reflecting on the action of the Senate, and on the Committee appointed by the Senate. Further than that I did not think it was necessary for me to go.
– He has not withdrawn the statement.
– He ought to withdraw it.
– I think that the honorable senator will have no objection to withdraw the statement.
– On the point of order raised by Senator Russell, I think that Senator Gould ought to apologize to the Senate for the statement he made.
– I think that Senator Gould will not object to withdraw the words.
– And to apologize, I should think.
– If the tender mind and conscience of Senator Needham is so touched, as his remarks suggest, I will say that I did not desire to reflect on the action of the Senate in appointing the Select Committee.
– What about the Committee itself?
– I do not wish to cast a reflection on the tenderness of the Committee’s conscience in the matter.
– I would be very glad to withdraw the Committee if I could.
– Withdraw the statement you made.
– As exception has been taken to the remarks of the honorable senator, I ask him to withdraw his reflection upon the Select Committee.
– Sir ALBERT GOULD. - If any statement I have made is, in your opinion, a reflection upon the Select Committee, I withdraw it. I do not wish to get out of order in connexion with this or any other matter. I believe in respecting the decision of the Chair, and I withdraw in deference to you, sir. But let me say that if the members of the Select Committee wish to say hard things of any one else, they should not be so tender under criticism themselves. One would think that a Select Committee having been appointed, the members occupy a sacred position, and no one should attempt to criticise them. If Senator de Largie, instead of asking for a Select Committee to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn, had submitted a motion to the effect that Mr. Chinn had been unjustly treated by the’ present Government, would he have- expected those who support the Government to have voted for that motion?
– No, but an inquiry is an entirely different thing.
– I say that there was a certain amount of inquiry concerning Mr. Chinn in the first instance. We know that he was dismissed on the ground of incompetency or insubordination, or, I believe, on both these grounds. This action was taken by the Minister of Home Affairs on the report of the EngineerinChief. Was not the report of the Engineer-in-Chief quite sufficient to justify the Minister in taking the action he did?
– Is the honorable senator justifying the dismissal ?
– I am not going to anticipate the report of the Select Committee, but I know there have been differences of opinion as to the admissibility of certain evidence tendered to the Committee. There are members of the Committee, and perhaps this may be said of them all, who have evinced a desire to come to a just conclusion in connexion with this matter. If they think that Mr. Chinn has been unjustly treated, they will report to that effect to the Senate. Their report will be open to discussion, and I assume that it will be competent for honorable senators, not only to dissent from the recommendations of the Select Committee, if there be any, but also to criticise the report. If, as part of that criticism, an honorable senator were to complain that the Committee declined to inquire into Mr. Chinn’s general competency, members of the Select Committee might say, “ Why did you not suggest that inquiry while the Committee was sitting instead of holding the matter up your sleeve, and bringing it forward after the inquiry was closed, in order to destroy the value of our report?” Senator Oakes has taken the reverse course, and has asked that the Committee should make this inquiry as complete as possible, so that when their report is submitted to the Senate honorable senators will have all the evidence before them, and can form their own conclusions as to whether they should adopt or reject the report. It is very unfair, because of his action in this matter, to cast aspersions upon the manliness and straightforwardness of Senator Oakes.
– The honorable senator’s leader has been casting unfair aspersions upon members of the Select Committee.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I have nothing to do with the reports of speeches made by Mr. Cook on this matter. I am dealing with the question now before the Senate.
– The honorable senator should not say a word when hehas in his leader such a shocking example of the very thing he objects to.
.- I think that Mr. Cook has proved himself as good a leader as any of those who have preceded him. I do not hold him, or any one else, to be immaculate. Every one is liable to make mistakes, and though I do not express an opinion as to whether Mr. Cook has or has not made a mistake in connexion with this matter, I am glad to think, from what we have heard, that the motion will be carried on the voices, and that the inquiry by the Select Committee will be complete.
– This is not the first occasion on which Senator Gould has behaved almost indecently in connexion with this question. I intend to support the motion, and I hope that every other member of the Senate will do the same. I trust that it will be carried on the voices. The mover of it has brought it forward very late in the day, and I have no hesitation in saying that all that he asks for has already been carried out by the Select Committee.
– Then where is the necessity for the motion ?
– Never mind ; the motion is only so much padding. It was never intended by the mover that it should be agreed to.
– It is an implied vote of censure on the Select Committee.
– It was intended that the motion should be supported by seven members of the Senate and opposed by the other twenty-nine. That is the only object for which it was submitted. Any honorable senator who has made himself acquainted with the proceedings of the Chinn Select Committee will agree that the request” contained in the motion has been already complied with. It is strange that Senator Gould, who is supposed to be possessed of a keen judicial mind, should tell us that he is already prepared to put on the black cap and pass sentence of death. He has said so in effect, if not in so many words, and gives as his reason the fact that he is a supporter of the present Government. He says, ‘ ‘ Let the Government I support damn any man, punish him be it ever so unjustly, and exercise what violence they please upon him ; it is all the same to me. I shall continue to support them. I cannot agree with a Select Committee that may submit a report which will discredit the Government I support.”
– The honorable senator would have played a good part in the Dreyfus case.
– He would. If Senator Gould will read the report of the proceedings of the Chinn Select Committee, he will find that nothing has been done to prevent essential evidence being placed before the Committee. We have listened for days, and even weeks, to the Engineer-in-Chief reading very voluminous statements concerning Mr. Chinn. I might go further, and say that he read every statement he could collect about Mr. Chinn from every remote corner of Australia.
– Order ! The honorable senator will not be in order in disclosing the evidence, or the nature of the evidence, given before the Select Committee. The standing order dealing with the matter was suspended to admit of the publication of the evidence in the press, but the suspension was limited to that.
– I shall content myself by saying that, as a member of the Chinn Select Committee, I take no exception to this motion, but I do decidedly object to any suggestion that I have attempted by any means whatever to prevent the fairest possible inquiry into the case. I am satisfied that I speak for the whole of the members of the Select Committee when I say that their one desire has been to get all the evidence possible bearing upon the facts. Those concerned have been given every opportunity to submit all the evidence they desire. They have gone so far as to have a whole staff of the Crown Law Department to assist them. If a dozen men and a lawyer or two cannot bring out all the evidence essential to the inquiry, this poor little motion moved by Senator Oakes can have very little effect upon it. As the motion has been moved for a very different purpose, I repeat that I intend to support it.
– The motion before the Senate reminds me of the story which we have no doubt all heard, of a lawyer who asked a witness in a certain case whether he had ceased beating his wife. If the witness had replied “ Yes,” he would have admitted that he had been beating his wife, and if he had said “ No,” he would have admitted that he had not ceased to beat his wife. Senator Oakes practically asks whether we have ceased persecuting the present Government or still persist in persecuting them. For many reasons I very much regret that the honorable senator has seen fit to introduce this motion. One reason is that the dismissal of Mr. Chinn from his position of Supervising Engineer of the Western Australian section of the transcontinental railway is still sub judice. That being so, it ill becomes any honorable senator to submit a motion which practically brings the whole case under review. No matter how fair-minded the mover of the motion may be, its effect may prejudice Mr. Chinn’s case in the eyes of the public. It ill becomes any member of the Senate to intervene in this way when a man is practically on his trial. I know of no man who has had a more stormy career than Mr. Chinn. In the first place, his appointment gave rise to a very stormy debate in another place. There is not the slightest doubt that an attempt was made to get party capital out of his appointment. The references to which Senator Gould referred this afternoon were all placed on the table of the Library, but the gentleman who moved what was practically a vote of censure on the late Government for appointing Mr. Chinn quoted references from those opposed to him in politics, and was careful to say nothing of those from persons belonging to the same party as himself. Senator Gould quite forgot to mention that. As the result of the agitation that was raised, a Royal Commission was appointed, not composed of any members of this Parliament, but of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, named by Mr. Watt, the Premier of the Stale. As a result of the evidence put before the Royal Commission, Mr. Chinn was exculpated from the charges made against him. They all fell to the ground, and he was reinstated in his position. Later on, Mr. Cook sent a letter to Mr. Chinn summarily dismissing him on charges of incompetency and unfaithfulness. I think that what is in Senator Oakes’ mind concerning the inquiry is a charge of inefficiency against Mr. Chinn, which was raised by Mr. Starke, representing the Commonwealth Railway Department. I happened to be present in the committeeroom as a member of the public when Mr. Starke proposed to cross-examine Mr. Chinn on his life from boyhood, and wished to know where he had been, and what he had done as a young man.
– Was not that in consequence of leading questions put by the Chairman of the Select Committee]
– I was present when Mr. Starke put his questions. They were not as to the efficiency or inefficiency of Mr. Chinn, but were put with the desire to inquire into the actions of Mr. Chinn from his cradle up to the time the questions were put. It was at that juncture that the Chairman of the Select Committee intervened, as did Dr. Mclnerney, who was then representing Mr. Chinn before the Select Committee. On that occasion the Chairman pointed out that the Committee had been appointed to inquire into the discharge of Mr. Chinn on the grounds of incompetency and unfaithfulness. The Committee can inquire into the charge of incompetency only as to the period during which Mr. Chinn acted as Supervising Engineer over the Western Australian section of the transcontinental railway. I ask Senator Oakes whether he thinks it can inquire into the competency of Mr. Chinn outside of that period ?
– After the Chairman had put certain questions to Mr. Chinn bearing on his qualifications, Mr. Starke was refused the right to cross-examine him on his replies.
– That is entirely wrong.
– I again ask Senator Oakes whether he does not think that the inquiries of the Committee should be confined to the specific wording of the motion ?
– The Committee’s investigation should cover the resolution under which it was appointed. That means that it should cover Mr. Chinn’s dismissal, and his dismissal may hang on his competency to fill the position from which he was discharged.
– I have attended a few meetings of the Committee, and I say that it has not prevented any evidence being tendered relating to the efficiency or inefficiency of Mr. Chinn.
– Not as to his qualifications ?
– Not as to his qualifications as an engineer. It was those qualifications which were at stake, and not his private character. It would not be right to permit any lawyer to probe the private actions of any individual from his boyhood up till the day of his examination. I have no objection to the fullest inquiry being made into this matter. I never have had. So far as I have watched the proceedings of the Committee, no attempts have been made to curb the investigation. ButI have evidence that the Government, of which Senator Oakes is such a loyal anddevoted follower, have endeavoured to block a proper investigation by refusing to grant’ the Committee supplies. As a matter of fact, they have blocked it. When the honorable senator is faced with that situation, he replies, “ Do you expect me to sit in judgment on my Prime Minister?”
– He is a beauty.
– I regret that any honorable senator should have intervened with a motion of this character whilst the matter of Mr. Chinn’s dismissal is sub judice, but I am glad that it has resulted in a frank admission by Senator Oakes that he is Caucus-bound, and will follow the Prime Minister.
– So long as he is right.
– The statement is on record in Hansard. The honorable senator asked, ‘ ‘ Do you expect me to sit in judgment on my Prime Minister?” Whatever action the Prime Minister may take must therefore be right, and Senator Oakes will not sit in judgment upon him. Again, we have the pious cry of Senator Gould, who, at the inception of this trouble, opposed the appointment of a Select Committee. One of the tenets of British justice is that a man shall be regarded as innocent until he has been proved guilty.
– Why not give us some Australian justice?
– We are still a part of the British Empire. If Senator Gould had had his way, he would not have permitted any inquiry into this matter. It is not for us to say whether Mr. Chinn has been rightly or wrongly dismissed. The position is that a question arose in the mind of an honorable senator as to whether a citizen of Australia had not been unjustly dealt with. That being so, irrespective of whether he occupied an exalted or a humble position, it was only right that an inquiry should be held into the matter. Senator Gould, I repeat, refused Mr. Chinn an inquiry in the first instance, and now he comes here and pronounces judgment before the inquiry has been concluded. He is another loyal and devoted follower of his leader. He has re-echoed the sentiment expressed by Senator Oakes that he will follow his leader, right or wrong, and will not sit on an inquiry which may in any way reflect upon him. Both he and Senator Oakes have practically told the people of Australia that, rightly or wrongly, they will follow Mr. Cook, and that everybody else may be damned so far as they are concerned.
.- One feels rather embarrassed in discussing such a delicate matter as anything pertaining to the dismissal of Mr. Chinn, before the Select Committee which has been appointed to inquire into his case has concluded the taking of evidence and has submitted its report. But, as a member of that Committee, I do not think I would be doing justice to myself if I did not say a word or two on this motion. I have not the slightest hesitation in supporting it. There has been no Caucus meeting of the Committee on this question. I am merely voicing my own opinions, and I claim to have been thoroughly consistent in this matter, because during the very early stages of this investigation I advocated that the fullest publicity should be given to our proceedings. When any individual is placed upon trial, the fullest publicity should be given to the proceedings connected with it. I strongly object to some of the statements and innuendoes which have been levelled against the Committee by several responsible men in the Commonwealth. By way of illustration, I have merely to mention the reported utterances of Mr. Cook, Mr. W. H. Irvine, and Mr. Watt. They have insinuated that the members of the Committee ars biased. They apparently know in their own low, dirty minds - speaking in a political sense - what the finding of the Committee will be. As a member of that Committee, I am prepared to listen to the whole of the evidence, and to make up my mind upon the merits of the case, irrespective of the political views which may be held by Mr. Chinn or by anybody else. In my crossexamination of any witness I have consistently endeavoured to hold the scales of justice as evenly as any human being can hold them. I am surprised at the utterances of Senator Gould, who stated that he would not accept a seat upon the Committee because he would not be a party to bringing in a report which might be construed as a vote of censure upon the Government of which he is a supporter. We have heard a lot about Caucus rule in connexion with honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber, and yet we find Senator Gould affirming that he would not bring in a report, even though it might mean bread and butter to a man who had been cruelly treated, if it were going to recoil upon the head of the party of which he is a pledged member. Coming from the lips of an ex-Minister of Justice in New South Wales, I can quite understand how the phrase “ Justices’ justice “ has come to be a term of ridicule. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more senators from the opposite side of the Chamber accept positions upon the Committee. If its report be now in favour of Mr. Chinn, the Government, for political purposes, will at once say that the Committee consisted entirely of Labour men whose sympathies were with that gentleman, because he is a supporter of the party to which they belong. So long as justice is meted out, I do not care what the report of that body may be.
I do not want to see the details of a man’s private life raked up, as possibly would be the result of Senator Oakes’ motion. In all probability, the keen crossexamining lawyers briefed by the Government would try to enter into Mr. Chinn’s career, and to investigate matters which were not really pertinent to the case. Of course, that would merely rest with- the Committee. But the logical outcome of passing Senator Oakes’ motion would be peculiar. If this Committee is to be invested with the power of inquiring into the efficiency of Mr. Chinn, it will necessarily involve the expenditure of a certain amount of money. But the Committee have been denied by the Government any opportunity of calling witnesses from Kalgoorlie, or of going to Kalgoorlie to examine witnesses. What chance is there, then, of obtaining money to bring witnesses here to prove or disprove Mr. Chinn’s efficiency? The logical conclusion is that nothing can be done with the motion, if it be passed, unless the Government are prepared to grant a certain amount of money for the conduct of the investigation. Nevertheless, as I wish to see the utmost publicity in this matter, I shall vote for the motion. As one who has been honestly and sincerely trying to sift the rights and wrongs of the case, I emphatically protest against and repudiate the aspersions cast upon the Committee in respect of its sense of justice and fair play.
– I shall not rush bald-headed to the support of this motion. I shall not vote for it unless it is materially altered. It is wrong in its present form, both in regard to what it is proposed to have done, and also in its statement of alleged fact.
– If the honorable senator moves a reasonable amendment, we will support him.
– Nothing that I do is likely to be unreasonable. Nothing that I ever did was so utterly unreasonable, narrow-minded, and subversive of fair play as the attitude taken up by Senator Gould, and, to a lesser extent, by the mover of the motion. A more glaring instance of the lengths and depths to which party government can descend was never exhibited than has been shown by both honorable senators, who acknowledged that they would not accept positions .on the Select Committee for fear lest; the result of its investigations might bring cen- sure upon their political leader. It is true that Senator Gould admits that he does ‘ not think that, his leader is immaculate - a most astonishing admission. But here we have fine specimens of the sort of party hacks we used to encounter in the old State days. I wonder that they can hold up their heads for shame when they tell us that they would not accept seats on a Committee of inquiry because the result might possibly be to show that their leader was in the wrong.
Sitting suspended from. 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I never was a strong believer in party government, but I consider that that grossest of absurdities has reached the depths of political degradation, if we are to accept as a standard the ideal set forth by the honorable senator who moved this motion, and by the older parliamentarian, Senator Gould, who supported him, both of whom admit that they would not accept a seat on the Select Committee because the result of its inquiry might be to censure the Government of which they are supporters. The admission, which is wholly inadequate, marks them as men who put party interests above considerations of justice. If they are content to accept that low standard of political integrity, I leave them to it, trusting that honorable senators on this side will never follow such a horrible example. I object to the form of this motion, for two reasons : One is that, undoubtedly, this is an attempt to enlarge the scope of the inquiry for the purpose of enabling private matters to be introduced, and a whole lot of dirt to be thrown at the chief character affected. I do not feel inclined to pander to that idea. Another objection is that the facts are not fully stated in the motion. It states that Mr. Chinn was dismissed on the ground of inefficiency. The implication is that that was the only ground. But such is not the case. He was dismissed on the alleged grounds of unfaithfulness and inefficiency. Only one ground is referred to in the motion before the Chair. The statement made by some honorable senators opposite that we should take no notice of an inquiry instituted in another place, shows that they are ignorant of the facts. No inquiry was ever made by a Committee of another place. The previous inquiry was made by a Royal Commission con sisting of a Victorian Judge. The professional qualifications of Mr. Chinn were investigated by that Royal Commission. Whatever other matters .were introduced, or left out, the fact remains that the inquiry into his professional qualifications was made subsequent to his appointment. Senator Oakes’ motion seeks to enter into a period anterior to his first appointment, which seems to me to be entirely unnecessary. Prom information that came to my ears accidentally, I know the motive that prompted the placing of this motion on the business-paper. I overheard some remarks, which amounted to this : That the motion would put the Opposition in a dilemma, because, if we refused to carry it, political capital would be made out of our action in the country by stating that we were against a full inquiry into the case, and that the Committee merely wanted a biased inquiry, in order to bolster up a preformed conclusion; and, on the other hand, if we did agree to it, political capital would be made at our expense by saying that a proper inquiry was- forced on the Committee by the intervention of honorable senators opposite. Of course, we know that a party so politically bankrupt as is the Ministerial party have to seize even the slenderest straw on which to try to float into public favour. They are reduced to this miserable expedient, because they have no higher or nobler cause, no policy worthy of consideration. I am not surprised, therefore, that they should resort to political, school-boy tricks of this kind. But I point out that there has already been a good deal of inquiry into the professional qualifications and knowledge of Mr. Chinn. The motion is insulting to the Committee, because it suggests that the Committee have forborne to inquire into anything which might tend to disparage Mr. Chinn. The whole action of the Government, as well as of honorable senators opposite, has tended to discredit the Committee. They have implied, right through, that the Committee has simply been appointed by the dominant party in the Senate in order to white- wash Mr. Chinn, and to bring discredit on the action of the Government in dismissing him. That is a reflection upon the members constituting this Committee; which is proved to be undeserved from the fact that every effort was made originally to induce four Government supporters to become members of the Committee, and that they, with the honorable exception of Senator Bakhap, absolutely refused to do so. That cuts the ground from under their feet, altogether. But, in the hope that the public will believe some of their abuse and their dirty insinuations, they are still promulgating the statement that the Committee consists mainly of Labour members. There is a good deal of the wolf and lamb tactics about that sort of thing which is wholly unworthy of any public man, though it is characteristic of the small, miserable remnant of a once honoured party. I expect nothing better from them. But that is no reason why they should not be condemned for their action. I say,, first of all, that this motion should be amended to provide that the qualifications of Mr. Chinn, if they are to be specially inquired into, should be his professional qualifications only. The Committee has no right to enter into the consideration of the private character of that gentleman, or of any one else. The Government have placed obstacles of a financial character in the way of the Committee, and of the defendant, as Mr. Chinn may be called. While the Govern?ment was represented by able counsel, and a great array of departmental officers, assisted by all the documents that could possibly be obtained in order to put their case fairly, and while I do not object to that, it is a notorious fact that no facilities were afforded for Mr. Chinn’s case to be adequately put. The Government have taken up an utterly arbitrary and tyrannical position in regard to this case. They lay it down that they will not find the funds necessary for prosecuting inquiries ordered by the Senate, unless the subject of an inquiry happens to meet with their approbation. If a majority in the Senate ‘see fit to institute an inquiry by a Select Committee into any matter of public importance, the Government arrogate to themselves the right to say, ‘ ‘ We, as a Government, do not approve of the purpose of the Committee, and, consequently, we will not find the funds necessary for it to carry on its deliberations, and pay the expenses incidental to the inquiry.” That is an attitude which strikes a blow at the rights of the Senate, and at the rights of the people acting through the Senate. It is a wholly indefensible attitude. I wish to be perfectly fair in the matter. The Government say, “ Whatever our majority may be, we are the custodians of the pub- lie funds, and have to see that no money is wasted. We are responsible for the expenditure while in office.” That is true, so far as it goes; but if a majority iu the Senate see fit to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into a matter of public importance’, and cause the expenditure of any public funds, that majority, and the party behind that majority, will be rightly held responsible for the expenditure. The responsibility will not, in any way, fall, upon the Government. On the other hand, the Government are taking up the arbitrary and unjustifiable attitude that all inquiry shall be burked into any matter which they would rather smother up, in order to justify their own action . They adopt a ‘ ‘ keeping it dark ‘ ‘ policy, and say, “ Whatever this Government do, if it cannot bear the light of day, we, at any rate, will not allow it to be dragged into publicity; we will exercise the power of the purse, and prevent the necessary funds from being provided.” If the Senate calmly consents to that state of things existing, honorable senators had better resign in a body, and allow the Government to carry on at their own sweet will through the medium of the Chamber in which all real power would remain. Under the Constitution, which was deliberately accepted by the people of every State, we are, rightly or wrongly, as much a part of the. constitutional machinery as is the House of Representatives. We are an integral branch of the Legislature, and, therefore, whatever a majority may decide upon, within the Standing Orders and the Constitution, should be carried out by those in authority, and no hindrance or impediment placed in the way. The most dangerous results might follow if a policy of that kind were permitted, for mere party purposes, to prevail here. I regret very much that any members of the Senate, who should be jealous of its dignity, jealous of retaining and wisely using the powers that it exercises, should be swayed by a mere miserable party spirit, a desire to bolster up a weak and inefficient Government, to sanction a serious inroad upon the rights and powers of this Chamber of the National Legislature. If a majority are determined to carry this motion - and I understand that several honorable senators on this side have signified that they intend to support it - the wording of it should be amended, and there should be an addition expressing regret that the Government have seen fit to take up a stand which seriously cripples and impedes the work of this or any other Select Committee of which they may happen to disapprove. First of all, the motion asks for an unnecessary expenditure in wanting the Committee to go over the work, part of which it has done already, part of which it is not advisable that any Committee should undertake, and that is> the work of prying into the private character and actions of any person. As I say, the greater part of that work has been done, and done more effectively than would be possible to the Select Committee, with its limited scope, by a Royal Commission appointed for that specific purpose. Personally, it is a matter of little moment to me: Like other members of the Committee, I attended with the full intention of. judging on the weight of evidence what kind of verdict should be given, and what kind of report should be drawn up and presented. I knew nothing personally about any of the parties. I had never seen them before. I was not in any way prejudiced in joining the Committee, and was perfectly prepared to give a verdict according to the weight of evidence; but I do submit that one side has been crippled by the Government refusing to grant the necessary funds. On the one hand, they refused to allow the Committee the means to proceed to the scene of action in Kalgoorlie. On the other hand, they refused to bring the necessary witnesses from Western Australia. Personally, I have no desire to go to Kalgoorlie, as I was there only a few months ago, and would be much more comfortable in Sydney or Melbourne than I would be likely to be there. It is clear that the Committee should have had an opportunity, if they thought fit, to go where they believed they could best collect evidence, or, failing that, the necessary witnesses, at their request, should have been brought to Melbourne. When the Government refuse to take either of those courses, it clearly follows that no extension of the inquiry can be an adequate and full one, unless the necessary funds are granted. I, for one, do not think that there is any necessity to prolong the inquiry, which has already taken up a great deal of the time of every member of the Committee, and much of which time might well have been devoted to other matters. It is not’ necessary to incur a great expenditure to go over ground which has been already traversed, and to permit any persons to cast mud right and left, in the hope that some of it might stick. The inquiry has already taken up a very large portion of the time of this session, and no good purpose can be served by agreeing to the motion. I do not believe seriously that the mover wants the motion carried. Whether by doing so I shall be playing into his hands or not, I intend to oppose the motion in its present form. I submit that, unless the Government take up a different stand in regard to providing the necessary funds to carry on the work of Select Committees properly, it is bare-faced audacity on the part of honorable senators on their side to propose to extend their functions, and, consequently, their liabilities. I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in Heu thereof the following words : - “ as Mr. Chinn’s professional qualifications were inquired into by a Royal Commission subsequent to his first apappointment, it would be an unnecessary expenditure of public funds to again inquire into that aspect of the question, and in any case the refusal by the Government of the requisite funds has rendered a complete inquiry impossible.”
It is not a matter which concerns me very much; but I do maintain that, so far as my knowledge goes, no question that had a direct bearing on the qualifications or the efficiency of Mr. Chinn has been refused by the Committee; but that interrogatories about irrelevant matters, such as how much arithmetic he could do when he was a lad of seventeen years of age, were refused, for the simple reason that the Committee wished to confine the inquiry within practicable limits, and not allow it, at the will of any lawyer, in order to increase his fees, to wander over the universe. As regards pertinent questions bearing directly on the professional skill or competency of Mr. Chinn, such questions have been asked, and allowed, by the Committee, and, therefore, there is no good purpose to be served, under the mere pretence of desiring fair play, in consenting to the motion. Unscrupulous opponents will say that we are not game to have these matters inquired into; but, whether we pass the motion or not, I am not at all afraid of that kind of thing, because I have lived and flourished in spite of misrepresentations, from my earliest political childhood. I have outgrown them entirely, and outlived any fear of them. It is a pusillanimous and puerile attitude to take up to consent to a largo expenditure of public funds for a prolongation of an inquiry, in order to placate our opponents on the other side.
– They do not want to prolong the inquiry.
– I am not very much concerned with what they want; but 1, for one, do not believe that there is. any genuineness behind this demand, any public necessity to pass the motion, or any good purpose to be served by doing so.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment pro forma, although I do not think it is necessary. I am of opinion that, if. Senator Oakes had been aware of the professional qualifications of Mr. Chinn, he would never have asked that the Select Committee should make a further investigation into them. I propose to take care, before this debate is finished, that the honorable senator shall be made aware of the very high qualifications possessed by Mr. Chinn before his appointment to the position from which he was recently removed because of his supposed connexion with the Labour party.
– This was the only way in which I could get them brought under the notice of the Select Committee.
– The honorable senator should have been aware that copies of Mr. Chinn’s testimonials were laid on the table of the Senate and of the House of Representatives as far back as August of last year. Apart from making the Senate a place for political moves, the honorable senator asks for an inquiry which must involve an enormous expenditure of public money; because we cannot ask Mr. Chinn to defend his professional reputation unless we are prepared to bring to the place where the inquiry is held the professional men with whom he has been associated for the last twenty years, or a sufficient number of them, to convince the public that he was justified in applying for and accepting the position of supervising engineer, to which he was appointed. I propose to read Mr. Chinn’s testimonials, although it may be somewhat wearying to honorable senators who are already acquainted with them. The paper containing them remained on the table until December of last year, when, in the closing days of the last session, Mr. Chinn was the subject, in the House of Representatives, of one of the most vindictive attacks ever made upon a private individual in this country. In that attack, the bulk of these testimonials were never mentioned, and it is reasonable to suppose that that was because they could not be questioned. The attack was so bitter and would have been so damaging to the reputation of Mr. Chinn had the charges made been trues that the Government of the day - the Fisher Government - appointed an independent Royal Commission to make an inquiry into the truth or otherwise of them. These charges were levelled against Mr. Chinn by Messrs. Fowler and Hedges in another place.
– And the Fisher Government had to apply to the State Government of Victoria for the services of a Judge for the purpose.
– That is so. They appointed an independent Commissioner to make inquiries into Mr. Chinn’s professional qualifications; and the Judge’s report was presented in February of this year. Senator Gould has said that the report was like the Scotch verdict “ Not proven.” That is a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth. The verdict of the Judge was that there was no evidence that the originals of two of the testimonials were not in existence. That is entirely different from a verdict of “ Not proven.” But what happened with regard to the rest of the charges made against Mr. Chinn, some of which were most far-reaching? The Judge’s verdict in respect to them was emphatically in favour of Mr. Chinn; and the result of the inquiry was that, a few days after the report was presented, Mr. Chinn was sent back to his position in Western Australia. I say that he was re-instated in his position, with the concurrence and approval of every right-thinking man in the party then opposed to the Fisher Government. There was not one man who did not regret that the Opposition had been mixed up with such a cowardly attack upon a private citizen. I do not believe that there is one fair-minded man in Australia who did not regret that such a cowardly attack should have been made in the Parliament of this country to defame the character of a private citizen. The Commission was appointed with scope sufficient to make a full inquiry into Mr. Chinn’s qualifications, and also into his private reputation and character. There was nothing proved against Mr. Chinn, but one of the testimonials he presented - that from Mr. Falkingham - was questioned. It purported to have been written from “ Warleigh,” Brighton, on 23rd April, 1903, but it was stated that Mr. Falkingham had ceased to reside at that address on that date. It is possible for honorable senators to use writing paper with a previous address stamped upon it. I think that Senator Oakes should be made aware of the fact that, apart from the two testimonials from Garnsworthy and Smith and Falkingham, which were questioned, Mr. Chinn possesses excellent recommendations from some of the foremost men in this country. That being so, and in view of the inquiry by the Royal Commission, I would ask him whether he thinks it necessary that a further inquiry should be made into the same matter? It is surely unnecessary for a man applying for the position for which Mr. Chinn applied to prove that he is absolutely the most highly recommended engineer in the Commonwealth. The question was whether he had the best qualifications of any person applying for the position. I am pleased to think that when the truth of the matter is set before him, Senator Oakes will be prepared to act fairly. When he learns that Mr. Chinn holds a very high position in the estimation of the men amongst whom he has carried on his professional work for years past, I think the honorable senator will acknowledge that he has made a mistake in moving the motion which is now before the Senate.
– I do not want the knowledge. My object is that the Select Committee shall have it.
– I say that the honorable senator should have had this knowledge. A man who takes it upon himself to move that a Select Committee should inquire into a certain person’s qualifications should at least have made himself aware of one or two things, either that the testimonials on which the person referred to was appointed were not correct, or that fresh evidence might be submitted to show that those testimonials and the verdict given by an independent Judge were insufficient for the purposes of the Select Committee. These are the testimonials presented by Mr. Chinn, and they cover a long period of time. The first is dated “ Pitts’ Buildings, Collins street, Melbourne, 15th November, 1902 “-
Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., I have intimately known for a considerable number of years.
He has been engaged on a great many of our most important engineering works in this-. State, also Tasmania, New South Wales, and’ Queensland.
I am in a position to state that he is thoroughly competent, and a qualified engineer, and will, I am sure, give every satisfaction in whatever capacity he may be engaged.
He carries with him the goodwill and respect of all those with whom be has been associated, both for his professional ability and privatecharacter.
Chairman, Melbourne Harbor Trust.
asked that the Select Committee should have power to make further inquiry, but one would suppose that such a testimonial as that from the responsible head of the Melbourne Harbor Trust would be sufficient to justify Mr. Chinn. in applying for the appointment he received. Does Senator Oakes challenge that testimonial?
– I want the Select Committee to have that evidence before them.
– This evidence has been before the Parliament of the country for more than twelve months Here is the next testimonial -
Central Buildings, Edward-street, Brisbane, 22nd November, 1902.
To the Chairman, Auckland Harbor Board.
Dear Sir, - I have known Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., for a considerable number of years, and am acquainted with his relatives and friends, and’ it is within my knowledge that Mr. Chinn has a high reputation in his profession, and has had large expenditure in many important public and private engineering works in the different States.
Understanding that he is an applicant for the position of Engineer to your Board, I beg to state it gives me much pleasure to recommend his candidature ; and I am confident, should he be successful, no more competent gentleman could be found to fill the position.
I would ask Senator Oakes, when he finds that Mr. Chinn is so highly recommended, whether he still thinks it necessary that there should be a further inquiry into his qualifications? Here is the third testimonial, dated “ Melbourne Water Supply,. Melbourne, 9th October, 1902”-
Dear Sir, - I am in receipt of your letter, asking me to bear testimony to your ability and’ qualifications as a civil engineer and licensed) surveyor.
I have been personally and intimately acquainted with you for a period of over twenty years, and, therefore, consider I am fully justified in stating that during our long intimacy nothing has ever occurred in connexion with either your personal or professional career but what redounds greatly to your credit.
Through my position of Superintending Engineer, I have had every opportunity of estimating your worth, and it gives me great pleasure to state you have always shown exceptional skill as an engineer, and that you are highly valued as such by your brother professionals and contractors.
Your very large experience in the different classes of works carried out and completed by you must prove invaluable, and I am sure the further opportunity of displaying your ability will add to your prestige, and earn you the distinction in your profession you are entitled to.
Believe me, Faithfully Yours,
That testimonial was not questioned by Mr. Fowler, and I venture to say that if it could have been it would have been questioned. The great majority of these splendid testimonials have not been questioned on the public platform or before the Royal Commission that inquired into the charges made against Mr. Chinn. Is it a fair thing to instruct the Select Committee to go over this ground again, to put Mr. Chinn on his defence, and make him prove that he is a qualified person? I shall continue with the testimonials, which are more important than anything I could say on the subject-
Municipal Council Chambers,
Town Hall, Brisbane,
City Engineer’s Office.
This is to certify I have known Mr. H. Chinn, C.E., for a considerable time, whose qualifications as a civil engineer and licensed surveyor I have verified.
From the testimonials he has received from engineers and others, and from my personal knowledge of his ability and works carried out by him, I am confident in speaking of him in the highest terms, and am satisfied he ranks amongst the foremost in his profession, and I have no hesitation in strongly recommending him for the position of Engineer, for which I understand he is an applicant.
– I wonder whether these testimonials will be published in tomorrow’s newspapers.
– Here is a testimonial which Senator Oakes might have ascertained the correctness of without very much trouble -
Harbors and Rivers Department,
Sydney, 15th August, 1885.
Mr. Henry Chinn, in severing his connexion with my Department, gives me the opportunity of testifying to his ability and zeal as a civil engineer and surveyor during the six years he was an officer under me.
For the whole of the above-mentioned period he has been engaged in connexion with the new Sydney Water Supply Scheme and Sydney Harbor and Rivers Works under my immediate control, which brought him in direct contact with me, and it affords me the greatest satisfaction to place on record my appreciation of his abilities as a professional gentleman, and at the same time express my regret at losing an officer whose services I greatly value, and who has always been a distinct gain to the Department over which I preside.
I ask Senator Oakes whether, in view of such a testimonial as that, which has remained unquestioned for twelve months during which it has been before party politicians in both Houses of this Parliament, he feels justified in asking the Select Committee to further inquire into Mr. Chinn’s qualifications, at great expense to the country, by bringing professional men from Auckland, Brisbane, Perth, and elsewhere to testify to his pro- . f essional capacity ? I venture to say that we could not get professional witnesses to attend the Committee for less than £2 2s. per day, and would have to pay them travelling expenses, and it would be a cowardly thing to attack Mr. Chinn and then refuse to pay the expenses of witnesses prepared to vindicate his character. Here is one of the testimonials which was questioned. It is dated “ ‘ Warleigh,’ Brighton, Victoria, 23rd April, 1913,” and reads -
Mr. Henry Chinn, civil engineer, has been employed by me during a great number of years as engineer in charge of construction, &c, on almost all the large contracts I have been engaged in, and I can without the slightest hesitation speak of him in the very highest terms as a professional gentleman.
I have carried out some of the largest contracts in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, under both the Governments and Harbor Boards of these States; also many of the underground contracts in connexion with the Sewerage Scheme of Melbourne, and I owe a deal of my success to the untiring energy and marked ability displayed by Mr. Chinn as my engineer in all these works.
To hear of his further success will give not only me great pleasure, but the great body of contractors, with whom he is deservedly popular, and it is due to him to state he is an engineer of exceptional ability, and that no more competent and popular gentleman in his profession is known to me.
That is one of the testimonials into the genuineness of which an inquiry was made by the Judge. He did not say that the case was not proved. He regretted that the original of that testimonial was not before him, but he said that there was no evidence to show that it did not exist. Here is another testimonial - a doubted one - from Messrs. Garnsworthy and Smith -
Collins-street west, Melbourne, 14th August, 1898.
At your request, we have much pleasure in committing to paper our appreciation of the valuable services rendered by you as our engineer in connexion with various contracts carried out by us under the Public Works and Railway Departments and Melbourne Harbor Trust.
The construction of the new entrance to the Gippsland Lakes was a work that necessitated more than the ordinary amount of foresight and skill, and we are confident the successful issue was only brought about by the untiring energy and exceptional ability displayed by you.
So much were we impressed with you on the above works that we determined to engage you on all future contracts, and in every instance, for a period of about elevenyears, your professional knowledge on all classes of works proved invaluable to us.
It would be hard to single out any particular branch of engineering to eulogize you on, for you are equally familiar with harbor and river works, sewerage, and railway construction ; and as the sewerage works of Melbourne were some of the most difficult ever carried out in Australia, the successful issue you brought our contracts to demands the highest praise from us.
We trust your career will be a prosperous one, and feel confident, if the opportunities only present themselves, you will do full justice to your office, and continue to earn further distinction in your profession.
– Does the honorable senator think that Senator Oakes wishes to hear any more?
– He will have to hear more if he remains in the Chamber. Here is another testimonial from the late Sir William Zeal -
St. James’ Buildings,
Melbourne, 15th October, 1901.
For sixteen years or over I have been closely connected with Mr. H. Chinn, civil engineer and licensed surveyor, during which time I have had every opportunity of gauging his abilities through being associated with him professionally. I consider he ranks amongst the foremost of his profession, and from my knowledge of the works undertaken and carried out by him (which include railway, sewerage, harbors and rivers, and water works) I am warranted in speaking of him in the highest terms, and I am sure that in whatever capacity he may be employed his energetic and painstaking abilities will be recognised as those belonging to a high standard of efficiency.
Does Senator Oakes think that a man with all these recommendations can be unqualified ? I do not, and that is one of the reasons why I intend to vote against this motion.
– The Senate has already decided that it is necessary to inquire into Mr. Chinn’s qualifications.
– I understand that what the Select Committee is inquiring into is the reason why he was discharged immediately there was a change of Government. There is reason to suspect that he was removed from his office because the present Ministry desired to appoint one of their own friends in his place. Here is another letter, which is worth placing on record -
Judges’ Chambers, Supreme Court,
Melbourne, 20th July, 1903.
Dear Mr. Chinn,
I send you herewith a testimonial, which I hope is such as you desire, and will prove in every way satisfactory. (Sgd.) John Madden.
The testimonial reads -
Mr. Henry Chinn, civil engineer, has been personally known to me for manyyears in Melbourne as a gentleman of high integrity and good professional standing.
His ability as an engineer and surveyor is undoubted, and his large experience in that direction thoroughly qualifies him to hold the position of engineer, for which he is an applicant.
He is also of good address, and well informed of business ways, and is held in high esteem by those who have been associated with him.
The author of that testimonial is still living. He can give evidence as to whether it is bonâ fide. If we are going to inquire into the qualifications of Mr. Chinn, Sir John Madden should be called to give evidence as to whether he gave that testimonial. If Senator Oakes had only known of the existence of these testimonials, he would never have submitted this motion. He would never have stood on the public platform and endeavoured to rob Mr. Chinn, not only of his professional reputation, but of his character. The last election campaign was nothing but a campaign of slander. The trouble with Mr. Chinn apparently marks the beginning of the system of “ spoils to the victor.” The appointees of one Government are evidently going to be removed immediately another Government take their place. When Mr. Chinn’s qualifications were inquired into by a Judge of the Supreme Court, in spite of all the skill and ability which money could purchase to prove something against him, his opponents had to , be satisfied with the verdict that there was no evidence to show that these testimonials had not been given. Upon four out of the six charges preferred against him, judgment was given in favour of Mr. Chinn. If, in face of these testimonials, Senator Oakes persists in asking for an extended inquiry, it can only be for the purpose of prolonging the proceedings of the Select Committee. It can only be because my honorable friends opposite fear that if the Committee’s report is forthcoming, it will damage the party which has removed Mr. Chinn from the Public Service on the flimsy ground that he was appointed by a Labour Government. If Senator Oakes has not been misled by his press and party, the straightforward plan for him to adopt is to withdraw the motion. To give effect to it will mean the expenditure of thousands of pounds.
– He is nob game to move for that expenditure.
– Every honorable senator who votes for the motion will affirm that Mr. Chinn is placed upon his trial to prove his professional reputation. If we do that, we must, in common justice, afford him every opportunity to vindicate those qualifications. That will mean calling as witnesses, not only the authors of the testimonials which I have read, but the professional men with whom Mr. Chinn has worked in our different cities. That gentleman will realize that he - is fighting the big moneyed interests.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that moneyed interests put the words into Mr. Deane’s mouth which resulted in Mr. Chinn’s dismissal?
– I say that moneyed interests put the honorable senator here.
– That is very good sidetracking.
– I grew too heavy for side-tracking a long time ago. For twelve months there have rested on the tables of this Parliament testimonials which justified Mr. Chinn’s appointment. In his reply, Senator Oakes should give us strong reasons for doubting the genuineness of those testimonials, or he is not justified in expecting us to sanction a big expenditure to undertake the extended inquiry which he suggests. If he merely wishes to gain a passing advantage for his party, I am not interested in Mr.
Chinn. I have never seen that gentleman, nor have I spoken to him. I do know, however, that the attacks which were made upon his character by Mr. Fowler and Mr. Hedges in the last Parliament were unprecedented in any British Parliament. The decision of the Judge who was appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into Mr. Chinn’s case is worth reading. The report of the proceedings of that Commission will be found in. the Melbourne papers between the 1st February and 6th February, of the present year. It is a remarkable fact that, although that Commission was appointed by the late Government in response to clamant demands by members of the then Opposition, there is not a document in this Parliament to show that it ever sat.
– - Does the honorable senator mean to say that the official report is not to be found on the table of the Library?
– I do. I applied to an officer of the Senate for it to-day, and I was told that the only information I could get was from the newspapers. That is a position which ought to be remedied without delay. The late Government appointed that Commission because, if the charges which were preferred against Mr. Chinn contained even a scintilla of truth he was unfit to remain in the Public Service of this country. I rose chiefly to point out to Senator Oakes that - although he may not have been aware of it - Mr. Chinn is highly recommended by the people who are best qualified to recommend him in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. He holds the highest possible references. I am pre-‘ pared to accept those references, because T believe them to constitute a true record of his work. In my opinion, any man of ordinary ability could prove himself competent to fill the position from which Mr. Chinn has been recently discharged. Because I believe that he is competent and that his qualifications need no further inquiry into them, I think it would be a needless waste of public money to put him in the position of having to prove his efficiency by the evidence of witnesses drawn from -all quarters of the Commonwealth. I shall, therefore, vote against the motion. I am not afraid of the Ministerial party saying that I have opposed the motion for party purposes. I have been connected with my party for over twenty years, and have always voted according to the dictates of my conscience. I shall continue to do so. When the parting of the ways comes, I shall be prepared to leave organizations or party if anything that I am required to do conflicts with my conscience. I am certainly not going to be frightened from doing what I believe to be right by the statement that I am making a party move. I shall vote against the motion, because the subject has already been inquired into by a gentleman whose fairness has never been questioned. If Senator Oakes is not prepared to accept that verdict, let him give some reason why the taxpayers’ money should be further expended to prove something that no one with any knowledge of the facts questions. There is no reason why the motion should be agreed to, and I regard the action taken in bringing it forward as simply another example of the twisting which has earned for the Ministerial party an unenviable reputation for being willing to slander, for party purposes, even to the extent of striking at a man’s personal and professional character.
– I consider that instead of finding serious fault with the action of Senator Oakes in bringing forward this motion, we ought to be grateful to him for affording us the opportunity of replying to statements that have been made recently regarding the Committee of inquiry into the Chinn case. Statements have been made by the Prime Minister, the Premier of Victoria, and various other public men. I find no fault with them for criticising, .as citizens of the Commonwealth, the actions of the Select Committee of the Senate. But I do find fault with them when they make use of their public positions to slander the Committee. I deplore exceedingly that a more honorable course has not been adopted, and that we could not insist upon the same demeanour concerning a Select Committee or Royal Commission as is insured when a citizen is brought before a Court of law charged with any crime. A Court will punish any person who ventures to comment upon a case which is under review. I am impelled to think that in a case where a Committee has been appointed by a branch of the Legislature to inquire into very grave charges against a citizen, it should be an offence to make comments, either upon the Committee, or upon the person whose caseis being investigated, until the inquiry iS concluded. We are under a debt of gratitude to Senator Oakes for bringing forward this motion, because he has given us an opportunity such as we should not have otherwise had of entering a most emphatic protest against the publicutterances to which I have alluded. We are now in the position that the Government have refused funds to a Committee of the Senate for the purpose of carrying on its - work. Senator Oakes asksthe Senate to extend the usefulness of the Committee, although he was one of those who, when the Committee wasoriginally proposed, objected to it most strenuously, and refused to be nominated’ a member. The whole of the Ministerial party that was available was asked to go upon the Committee. With onehonorable exception they refused to do so. I am confident that they now regret exceedingly the blunder they madein not taking advantage of the offer sogenerously extended to them.
– I can contradict that, as far as I am concerned.
– I take the honorable senator’s word, but I am still of the same opinion. Notwithstanding that the Government have refused fundsto enable the Committee to conduct the inquiry properly, a Ministerial supporter now proposes to extend the work of theCommittee. But he has given us noassurance that the Government will be willing to find the money even now. We have not heard a word from theGovernment to the effect that they regret having refused in the past to provide funds. I am endeavouring to obtain a Ministerial assurance that they areprepared to retrace their steps, . and to give Mr. Chinn a proper opportunity of defending himself before the Committee. I have no hesitation in saying that the action of the Government up to the present has been an absolute disgrace. They have denied to an accused man the opportunity which is always extended to persons whose conduct may be inquired into of being adequately heard in his own defence. In South Australia, as in other States, during the elections one of the stock arguments used by our opponents Was that the Labour Government had appointed Mr. Chinn to the position of Supervising Engineer simply because he was a member of the Labour party. To-day Senator Gould, in the speech which was made in justification of his colleagues, said nothing about the undoubted evidences of Mr. Chinn’s qualifications, which I am glad to say have been placed on record by Senator Gardiner. Every word in favour of Mr. Chinn was carefully avoided by Senator Gould, but the fact that he was a member of the Labour party, or was supposed to have done something for that party, was carefully placed on record. I trust that the motion will be carried, and that, as it emanates from one of their own side, the Government will provide funds for carrying it into effect.
– They might put the money on the Supplementary Loan Esti-
– The Government can borrow the money if they like. If they did, it might cause some of those who are opposed to Ministerial borrowing to look with more favour upon the loan project. I also wish to emphasize the point that whilst honorable senators opposite are on this question as unanimous as if they had been dragooned by a caucus, and not one of them has said a single word against the motion, we on this side, who are supposed to be caucus bound and chain-ganged, have had one of our number moving an amendment and another declaring straight out his intention to vote against the motion. So that we find that the members of the Opposition are perfectly free on this, as on every other question, to vote as their conscience dictates. I shall vote for the motion, in the hope that it will induce the Government to do a fair thing by Mr. Chinn, because, up to the present time, their action has been most unfair and reprehensible. I am convinced that every citizen in Australia, whether he be a member of the Liberal Union and a supporter of the present Government or not, will, if he considers the facts fairly and squarely, admit that the Government are to be condemned for refusing funds to carry on this inquiry properly. I trust thatthe funds will be forthcoming now that a motion for extending the inquiry has come from the Ministerial side.
– Seeing that the Government have three representatives here, I naturally expected that one of them would have condescended to tell the Senate what their attitude on this question is to be.
Their attitude so far has been quite apparent to those who have been taking more than an ordinary interest in the inquiry. The fact that the representatives of the Government here are so silent puts me rather at a disadvantage in discussing the amendment, but I do hope that, for the sake of their own reputation, they will announce what they intend to do in regard to it. Either the motion or the amendment will suit’ me as an expression of opinion. I can vote for either question quite consistently, except that, in my . opinion, as I said before, the motion is more an attempt to side-track the Senate than anything else. But having declared that I would vote for the motion, I intend to adhere to that statement. I would advise Senators Rae and Gardiner, in order not to be side-tracked, to withdraw the amendment, and let a straight-out vote be taken on the motion. It is quite apparent that the Government are in a dilemma. One of their supporters has brought forward a motion, but so far they have not announced what they intend to do. The position of those who have asked for an inquiry all through is quite clear, and that is to extend the inquiry if possible-, although I do not think it is, as we have exhausted every means in our power to get the fullest possible evidence. The only way I can see in which we could get more evidence would be for the Government to supply funds to enable the Select Committee to go to Kalgoorlie, examine the engineering work done onthat section of a great project, and take the evidence of the witnesses who were on the job when the dispute arose. > If that course were taken by the Government, undoubtedly the investigation might be extended. To pass a motion, which I think is not worth the paper it is written on, and which at the most is a mere pious hope that something may be done which the Government have opposed all through, is a mere waste of time unless Senator Oakes and his advisers are prepared to take up a much stronger attitude than is indicated. If he wants to do something, if there is any real business in his motion, I would advise him to bring’ the matter forward at the next Caucus of the Ministerial party, and see if he can get them to help him to extend the investigation. The members of the Select Committee were all quite familiar with the testimonials read by Senator Gardiner, and so there was no need for them to hear the testimonials read again. I have heard and read them a dozen times at least, and as regards the majority of those read by the honorable senator, not a question has ever been raised.
– The public ought to know what they are.
– The Government are the only people who can let the public know, and it is their duty to see that such papers are printed. The Labour Government retired from office before this Parliament assembled, and consequently they were not in a position to order the printing of the report of the Royal Commission. Senator Gardiner said that the Royal Commission, at all events, was above question, but that is not so, because we have had supporters of the Government questioning the Commission, and insinuating that it was not all that it should have been.
– Senator Gardiner meant that the Commission ought to be above reproach.
- Senator Gardiner was quite right in what he said, but I would point out that even the Royal Commission was questioned by supporters of the present Government. Not only did the late member for Fremantle, Mr. Hedges, do that, but he even questioned the honesty of the Commissioner, Mr. Justice Hodges. That was a most extraordinary thing for him to do, and it goes to show the length to which the present Ministerial party will proceed in order to blacken the character of a man. I trust that the amendment will be defeated. I hope that the motion will be carried, and that the Senate will not be side-tracked in the way that our honorable friends on the other side have attempted to do by bringing forward a motion which they, in their hearts, would like to see defeated, and against which they hoped that honorable senators on this side would vote in order to have it defeated.
– I do not think that this is a proper time to discuss the financing of Select Committees of the Senate. That matter will open up, if it is ever discussed here, a very momentous constitutional question . I certainly think that the financing of a particular Select Committee should not be involved in the discussion of the motion of Senator Oakes. I am not going to adopt the injudicious attitude of dis- ‘ cussing the inquiry in progress. The action of Senator Oakes has been quite spontaneous. The assumption on the part of honorable senators opposite that he has been actuated by a sinister motive, that the motion is a move in a game of political chess, and so forth, is absolutely unwarranted, for I can say, in truth and sincerity, that I had no knowledge of the motives that inspired the honorable senator to give notice of the motion. I think we are justified in assuming that he was actuated by what appeared to him to be perfectly honest motives.
– How can you answer for another man?
– I am answering for myself.
– No one has accused you of anything.
– There has been an assumption by honorable senators opposite that there has been a sort of collective understanding on the part of this side in the matter, and that this step has been taken with the view of securing something like a political advantage or putting honorable senators opposite into a kind of political impasse, but that is certainly not the case. So far as I am concerned, Senator Oakes took action entirely of his own volition, and nothing of a sinister nature is associated with his submission of the motion.
– How do you know what is inside him ?
– I know what is inside my mind. Honorable senators on the other side have assumed that on this side there is a collective association in regard to the matter.
– We made an honorable exception of you.
– I am a party to no such sinister understanding, and I feel quite sure that Senator Oakes took action on his own responsibility. I oppose the amendment on the ground that this is not the proper time to discuss the financing of Select Committees appointed by virtue of the powers vested in the Senate.
Question - That all the words after the word “ That,” proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 7’
Question so resolvedin the negative.
– - I have never, so far, on any of the occasions when this question has been before the Senate, had anything to say about it. I should not have intervened in the debate at this particular time if something had not transpired in the course of the discussion which is so remarkable that I think the Senate should take cognisance of. it. It will probably surprise honorable senators as much as it surprised me to learn that the official report of the Royal Commission appointed by the Fisher Government to inquire into the charges made against Mr. Chinn has never yet been tabled in the Senate. It was surely Government business. The Federal Government of the day appointed a Royal Commission to investigate a number of charges of the most serious character which were levelled against an officer in the service of the Commonwealth. The Government were practically challenged by the party then in opposition to appoint the Commission. They appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria to conduct the inquiry, and no one can say that he was influenced by any party bias. It is, in my opinion, most remarkable that the business was not completed. If it was considered advisable, in justice to the individual or to the Federal Parliament, that a matter which had occasioned a great deal of discussion in another place should be investigated by a Royal Commission, it was surely advisable that the business should be completed by the laying of the official report of the Commission on the table of the. Senate or of the Library.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Was not the report tabled in the House of Representatives?
– T - The printed official report of the Royal Commission should have been made available to every member of the Federal Parliament. Senator Gould will admit that the Senate is as much a part of the Federal Parliament as is the House of Representatives. Whatever honorable members in another place may know officially about the report of the Royal Commission I refer to, honorable senators have no official knowledge of it. I was always under the impression that such documents are tabled in both Houses, and are to be found in the Library. The late Government appointed the Commission, and it sat during the recess, and only a short time before the elections.
– The Judge gave his report on the 6th February of this year.
– P - Parliament was not sitting at that time, and so the report could not be tabled by the late Government, but the present Government have not taken any steps to have that report placed officially before honorable senators.
– They have always been sorry that any such report was made.
– T - There can be very little question about that. Those who challenged the then Government to appoint the Commission have only been sorry once that they did so, and that is ever since, because the report was very different from what they expected it would be. It was to mention this remarkable circumstance that I intervened in the debate. I trust that in future any documents of the kind will be laid before the Senate as a branch of the Federal Legislature.
– Before the debate closes I should like to say two or three words.It is somewhat difficult for a member of the Chinn Select Committee to know what to do on this motion. In the first place, the Committee was appointed by the Senate evidently against the wish of the Government, because from the time of its appointment they have thrown every possible obstacle in the way of the Committee carrying out its duties. They have refused to supply necessary documents which have been asked for repeatedly, to bring witnesses required by the Committee from Kalgoorlie, or to provide funds to enable the members of. the
Committee to go to Kalgoorlie, where it is probable that very valuable evidence might be obtained. In addition to throwing every obstacle iu the way of the Committee, the Leader and prominent members of the Government have said that the Committee is biased. It has been described as a polluted tribunal. The members of the Committee have already exceeded the bounds of their investigation in order that they might not be accused of burking the inquiry in any shape or form. As a member of the Committee I am satisfied that the object of the Government is to prevent the Committee reporting to Parliament this session. I think it is fair to assume that this motion, submitted by a supporter of the Government, is moved with the object of so enlarging the scope of the inquiry, and extending the time which will be occupied in it, that the session will close before it is possible for the Committee to make a report.
– You know that it will not be so.
– I do not know anything of the sort. I know that the proposed extension of the scope of the inquiry will justify the Government and those supporting them in demanding that, perhaps, another dozen witnesses may be brought from New South Wales or elsewhere. I may be in order in stating that, although the Government absolutely refuse to provide the funds which the Committee consider necessary bo enable their inquiry bo be successfully completed they are, by the employment of very eminent counsel, running the people of Australia into hundreds of pounds of quite unnecessary expense, in order, first of all, bo prevent the Committee making a full inquiry, and, secondly, to prevent Mr. Chinn, who is, I was going to say, the victim, bub I will say the principal actor, in this drama, eliciting evidence from high officials in the Public Service which might possibly assist in proving that he is not quite as bad as some people think he is. I am in a somewhat difficult position in this matter, because I do not desire that it should be thought for a moment that I wish bo suppress anything which might prove that Mr. Chinn was not competent for the position he held. Still, I do think that extending the scope of the inquiry to the extent suggested will be utterly useless, that it will involve the expenditure of a large sum of money which will be entirely wasted, and that it will not assist the object of the investigation in any shape or form. I have no objection to the motion. I will not call for a division against it. But to consider the qualifications of Mr. Chinn will be a mere waste of time, because, as was stated by Senator O’Keefe, his qualifications were inquired into exhaustively by a Royal Commission appointed for the purpose, and no good result can be achieved by duplicating that inquiry.
– In reply, I merely wish to point out that, in moving this motion, I am perfectly within my rights, as our .Standing Orders empower us to give instructions to Select Committees. As a matter of fact, two or three honorable senators opposite complimented me upon having brought forward the motion. Senator Blakey welcomed it, and expressed the opinion that the fullest inquiry should be held into the case of Mr. Chinn. Senator Newland spoke in a similar strain, and so also did Senator Story. Other honorable senators, while giving their support to the motion, have cavilled at it. Senator de Largie made a personal attack on myself, which I propose to ignore.
– The honorable senator cannot afford to ignore it.
– I can afford to ignore any insulting remarks, because they always recoil on the head of the person who makes them. The honorable senator said that this was a put-up motion, and that I never intended it should be reached. He declared that it was simply a party move. . Let me give the Senate its history, with a view to showing whether his statement contains even a grain of truth. On the 27th August last a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn. Although Senator Senior said that the Government supporters objected to the appointment of that Committee, we voted for ib, because no division was taken. What, then, becomes of the statement that the Government opposed the motion”?
– So they did.
– As a matter of fact, honorable senators opposite took the business of the Senate out of the hands of the Government. On 24th September - nearly a month later - I gave notice of this motion because of the trend which! the inquiry was taking. I have studiously avoided making any insinuations in regard to the action of individuals. This is not the time or the place to discuss evidence or the motives which may actuate individuals. Before I tabled this motion the newspapers stated that after Senator de Largie had put about twenty leading questions to Mr. Chinn, Mr. Starke, when he endeavoured to cross-examine the witness upon his replies, was prevented from doing so. “When the Senate agreed to the appointment of a Select Committee it intended that the inquiry conducted into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn should be of the most complete character. The case has become a notorious one, and the public demand the fullest information regarding it. On the strength of the newspaper reports I gave notice of this motion, because I believed that if the Committee had decided to curtail the inquiry the Senate should tell it that the whole of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Chinn’s dismissal should be investigated. I deny that there has been any move, either by individuals or by the Government, to bring this motion forward for party purposes. When it appeared upon the business-paper, on the 1st October, it stood at the head of the list. Government business, however, intervened, and the Government refused to allow me an opportunity to move it. An asterisk was then placed against it, and I’ have since learned that when an asterisk is placed against business upon the paper it means that there is a permanent objection to that business being proceeded with. In the State from which I come the appearance of an asterisk against any motion merely indicates an objection for one night, otherwise it might be regarded as formal. I then withdrew the motion, as I had no chance of reaching it, because Senator Rae had three or four motions in advance of it.
– Senator Rae said that he was willing to postpone them.
– I do not believe that. I do not deny that Senator Rae made the statement, but I knew that he was not so simple as to allow me ‘to reach my motion when he had four or five proposals in advance of it. I then gave notice of the motion for the 9th October. The Senate did not sit on that day. On the 22nd October, when it again appeared on the business-paper, there were four motions ahead of it. I managed to secure the premier position for it on the businesspaper to-day, when Government business again intervened. I do not say that Senator de Largie secured the adjournment of Government business and then got this motion called on when I had left the chamber. That may be a mere coincidence. No doubt when he saw me walking through the chamber door he realized that there was an opportunity to get Government business postponed, and to have this motion called on. Fortunately, I was within call. Otherwise he would have been -able to exclaim, “ Why is not Senator Oakes here? Why does he not proceed with this motion?” All that I ask is that the fullest inquiry should be held by the Select Committee into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator Rae would not have achieved its purpose, because its concluding words affirmed that if the money were not forthcoming there could not be any complete inquiry into the matter.
– I say that it is impossible to get the necessary evidence in the absence of the requisite monetary provision.
– Then why perpetuate the farce of proceeding with the inquiry now? Senator Rae’s amendment meant a complete negation of the Committee’s proposal. If honorable senators think that I have any ulterior motive in submitting the motion, I ask them to vote against it.
– By way of personal ex:planation, I wish to say that Senator Oakes has attempted to cast a doubt upon my willingness to forego priority of place to some motions which stood in advance of his the other evening. When those motions were called upon I there and then offered to move their postponement in order that the honorable senator’s motion might be reached. I did so in the hearing of several honorable senators.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives, informing the Senate that it had authorized Mr. King O’Malley to attend if he thought fit, and be examined by the Select Committee of the Senate on the case of Mr. H. Chinn.
The PRIME MINISTER and the Chinn Case.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Last week I gave Mr. Joseph Cook a little bit of praise. I then thought that we should be sure to find him complying with the request of the Senate to attend and give evidence before the Chinn Committee. Seeing that he has been so free in expressing opinions outside, when his statements were not made on oath, “by any manner of means, we thought that he would be equally ready to justify them before the Select Committee. Now, however, we find that when he is afforded an opportunity of having his scandalous statements examined, he discreetly declines to appear. This is a matter that Senator Oakes might very well take to heart. Today he has asked for extended powers for the Select Committee to make inquiries, . but we find the immaculate Joseph, the leader of the honorable senator’s party, refusing to give evidence. This will give the .public another proof of the lengths to which the Government will go to burke inquiry. I hope the country will have an opportunity before long of knowing the full truth about this scandalous case. It is a pity that more has not been published by the press about it. But when the time comes for a report of the Committee to be published, it will be seen how much justification there was for the statements made by Mr. Cook outside. As the Chairman of the Committee I am sorry that I shall not have an opportunity of cross-examining Mr. Cook, and regret also that the other members of the Committee will not have a similar chance. I am quite satisfied that he could not justify on oath the statements that he made outside.
– I share the sentiments expressed by Senator de Largie. It appears to me that the gentleman who has been termed “ the immaculate Joseph “ bears out the statement that has been made before, that the conduct of no man named “ Joseph “ is ever entirely satisfactory. I am reminded of the observation of Mark Twain, that he was always prepared in the defence of his country to shed the last drop of blood of his wife’s relations. The Prime Minister, while prepared to allow Mr. King O’Malley, and others, to appear and be examined by the Select Committee, is not prepared to come himself. If his refusal does not show courage, it, at any rate, shows wisdom and discretion, which is the better part of valour in his case. Apparently, there is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government to burke the full, free, and complete investigation that the Senate intended to have made when it appointed recent Committees. It is a mere piece of plausible hypocrisy for honorable senators opposite to attempt to widen the powers of any Committee, unless they are ready to join with this side of the Senate in demanding that all material witnesses shall be compelled to come and give evidence, and that they will not tolerate any shirking under the cloak of privilege of the attendance of those who were foremost in braggadocio outside, in making charges which, in many ca’ses, have been shown to have no foundation in fact. I contend that the position of the Senate is considerably crippled in regard to making investigations, which should be of the fullest character to be of any great value, by the action of this Government, which pretends to stand for fair play for all, but is so woefully deficient in practising the excellent virtues that it preaches.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131105_senate_5_71/>.