5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1913-14, dated 3rd December, 1913-
Customs Act 1901-1910. - Proclamation prohibiting the exportation from the Commonwealth of all aboriginal anthropological specimens, including articles of ethnological interest.
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Regulations amended, &c-
Statutory Rules 1913, Nos. 295, 296.
Papua. - Ordinance of 1913. - No. 15. - Appropriation 1913-14.
Pearl-shelling Industry : Royal Commission on : Minutes of Evidence, Appendices, and Indices.
Public Service Act 1 902-191 1. - Appointments and Promotions.
Department of Trade and Customs -
Sugar Industry : Royal Commission on the -
Minutes of Evidence and Appendices.
Unemployment : Report on Conference of the International Association on, held at Ghent, 4th 5th, and 6th September, 1913, by Mr. Donald Campbell, the Commonwealth representative at the Conference, together with note by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence a question in regard to the proposed institution of sectional regiments in the Defence Forces, and the necessary changes in the dress regulations. Does he propose to lay these on the table of the Senate before the end of the session, or to wait till Parliament is in recess ?
– I presume that the regiments to which the honorable senator refers as sectional regiments are those which are generally known as national regiments?
– There is only one national regiment, and that is the Citizens’.
– I only want to be clear that the matter I am referring to is that to which the question of Senator Pearce relates. If he refers to those which are known as national regiments, an outline of the scheme is being submitted to me by the Board, with the view of having details fully drawn up. Whether the Board can prepare these in time for presentation to the Senate this session I do not know. But in any case I shall be in a position to make a statement to the Senate before the session closes.
– Can the Minister of Defence give me any information in regard to the question I asked, without notice, on the 5th November about the imprisonment of two lads named Size for two weeks in Largs Fort in South Australia ? He promised that if I would wait for a while he would look into the matter, and report to the Senate.
– I am unable now, relying on my memory, to speak definitely, but I feel quite certain that the promised inquiries were made. There has been a fault somewhere in that the information has not been placed in my hands to furnish to the honorable senator, but I shall make further inquiries, and before this sitting closes, make a communication to him.
– Can the Minister of Defence tell me if Captain Hughes Onslow, the Second Member of the Naval Board, has made an application to the Government for an inquiry into the causes of his retirement, and, if so, what is and has been their attitude towards that application?
– Neither before nor since has Captain Onslow submitted a request for an inquiry. Before the severance of his connexion with the Board he demanded an inquiry. I saw no justification for the demand in the first instance, and no reason to grant it in the second.
– Will the Honorary Minister inform the Senate why the Tasmanian mail contract has not yet been signed, and when it will be signed?
– I decline to answer the first question, and I am not disposed at the present time to answer the second one. But inasmuch as I recognise the interest taken in this matter, I shall endeavour before the session closes bo make a further statement in regard to it.
– But you have answered the second question, after all.
– Have It
– You feel in a good deal of difficulty about the matter.
– Not in the least.
– I desire leave, sir, to submit a motion.
– Will the honorable senator indicate the purpose of the motion ?
– I desire to submit a motion in connexion .with the Select Committee on the general elections.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator Needham have leave to move a motion without notice regarding the Select Committee on the general elections?
– The statement in reference to the purpose of the motion is very vague, sir.
– I asked for a general indication of its purpose.
– I desire leave to move that the quorum of the Select Committee be three instead of four.
– I move-
That the Select Committee appointed to inquire into general elections 1913, allegations of poll stuffing and corrupt practices, have leave to sit with a quorum of three.
– For guidance in this matter, sir, I desire to know whether the quorum of a Select Committee is not fixed by the Standing Orders, and, if so, whether it will not be necessary to suspend them first.
– No . The Standing Orders only provide that, unless otherwise ordered, the quorum of a Select Committee shall consist of four senators.
If the Senate otherwise orders, no suspension of the Standing Orders is necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If it is a fact, as reported, that the Government are negotiating with certain firms of American contractors, in order to carry out the various works at the Federal Capital, as far as possible, by the contract system?
– The answer is “ No.”
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Arising out of that answer, I would like to direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the fact that he lias not replied to my question as to whether the men are working on Sundays.
– Their hours and wages are the same as those which obtain iti the Department. That is the reply to that portion of the honorable senator’s question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If he will provide for permanent conspicuous display on one of the walls of this Chamber one of the largest and best maps of the Commonwealth, which, it is understood, are in course of preparation ?
– The answer is -
Yes, provided the President grant the necessary permission.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Water for Travelling Stock
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice--*
– The answers are -
In addition to new wells sunk at Goyder1* Junction, Kel ley’s well, Horse-shoe Bend, repairs and improvements have been carried out at the following wells : - Bonney well, Wycliffe well, Ryan’s well, Burt’s well, Charlotte Waters bore, Barrow Creek well, Taylor’s crossing, Alice well, Tea-Tree well, Connor’s well, Old Crown Point, Alice Springs well, Limestone well, Francis well.
Instructions were given early in November for new wells to be sunk at Taylor’s Crossing and Tennant’s Creek, and repairs to be carried out at Hanson and Wycliffe wells, at an estimated cost of ^2,350.
During iqn-12, the sum of ,£2,412 was expended, and during 1912-13 ^2,134 was spent, whilst an amount of £3,000 has been provided to meet expenditure during 1913-14.
– I am now in a position to reply to a question which was asked some days ago by Senator Newland. The reply is as follows: -
Melbourne, 3rd December, 1913.
With reference to my letter of the 28th ult. relative to the question asked by Senator Newland in the Senate on the. 27th idem regarding the fire which took place recently at a timber yard adjoining the General Post Office, Adelaide, I have to inform you that inquiry has been made, and the Deputy Postmaster-General, Adelaide, advises that the fire referred to was reported to the Fire Brigade at 1.45 p.m. on Sunday, 23rd November, and was under control about 2.45 p.m. ; that it originated about 600 yards west of the Telephone Exchange and Workshops, and the Post Office property was never in danger from the time the Fire Brigade started operations until the fire was controlled.
– I have also a reply to a question which was asked by Senator Buzacott. It reads -
Postmaster-General’s Department, 1st December, 1913.
With reference to your letter of the 28th ult., respecting mail facilities for our back centres, in connexion with which matter representations were recently made in the Senate by Senator Buzacott, I am to inform you that the following is a copy of a report which has now been received by wire from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Perth :- “ On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays train will run to Leonora, on other days as goods to Menzies, only reaching there at 6.10 p.m. To continue daily mail to Leonora would necessitate coach or motor service at cost about ^750 to £1,000; weight of mails, approximately, J ton each way. Chief Traffic Manager states Railway Department satisfied three trains north of Menzies ample for all requirements, and no intention of departing from proposed new time-table. Question of running railway motor vehicle for conveyance of mails on three days train not running beyond Menzies has already been submitted Railway Department, but no intention to ‘entertain suggestion. Chief Traffic Manager also stated there were objections from traffic standpoint. Service with Leonora connecting with goods train, arriving Menzies on Tuesdays,
Thursdays, and Saturdays at 6.55 p.m., would be unsatisfactory, and of little benefit, as mailswould arrive on same day as those per following passenger train. To maintain daily service, Kal.goorlie must be starting point, and, practically,, existing service by rail maintained. District Inspector reports requirements of district to be served do not justify anything better than service three times weekly, as mining throughout northern portions is in very depressed state, and no likelihood of improvement for some considerable time. Both Sandstone and Meekatharra, much more important mining centres than Leonora, will only have two trains per week. In circumstances, I cannot recommend institution of vehicle service to continue daily mail.
– I ask the leave of the Senate to amend the motion standing in my name, with a view to making it applicable on Monday as well as Tuesday. If that leave be granted, even if the Senate does not approve of the suggested amendment, we shall at least have an opportunity of discussing it. In its present form I should be prevented from consulting honorable senators on the question of whether it is advisable to include Monday in our sitting days or not. I wish also to further amend the motion so as to make the hour of meeting on days other than Monday 11 o’clock in the forenoon.
– Acting on the leave which has just been granted, I move -
That during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Monday and Tuesday be sitting days of the Senate, and that, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Monday, and 11 o’clock in the forenoon of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and that on those days Government business, unless otherwise ordered; take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions.
I particularly wish to direct attention to the fact that the motion, if carried, will place the Senate in a position to meet on the additional days referred to if it is found desirable to do so. The question whether the Senate shall meet on those days is one which can be determined at the close of the week’s proceedings. The motion is submitted with the knowledge which honorable senators generally share,, that we are rapidly approaching the time when this session will close. It is submitted in the hope that, if honorable senators give to the work of the Senate the extra time asked for, there will be a reasonable prospect of closing the session in time to enable them to get away for the ordinary Christmas vacation.
– I do not think there is any objection to the proposal to adopt Monday as an additional sitting day if it is required. But I point out to the Minister of Defence that, while honorable senators from New South Wales may get here on the Monday without serious inconvenience, it is impossible for honorable senators from South Australia to do so ; and if the Senate is to sit on the Monday, they must remain in Melbourne over the week end. In the circumstances, I ask the Minister whether he proposes that the motion should be brought into force next Monday.
– That will depend very much on the progress made this week.
– It must be understood that honorable senators on this side, in agreeing to the motion, do so with the condition that the convenience of honorable senators from South Australia must be consulted. They are not here to-day, for a reason which is known to honorable senators, and we are, therefore, not able to consult them as to sitting on Monday next. They may have made their arrangements to go back at this week end, and, in accepting the motion, we therefore reserve to ourselves the right to object to Monday next being a sitting day.
– I may say, in reply, that the Government have no desire to sit on Mondays, and certainly no desire to inconvenience any honorable senators. It has been the custom in the Senate, which all have contributed to, to endeavour to meet the convenience of the different sections of honorable senators coming from the different States. I would point out to Senator Pearce that, however inconvenient a sitting on Monday next might be for some members of the Senate, it might possibly obviate the necessity of asking them to come over to Melbourne in the following week. I hope that that view will be taken into consideration when we are deciding whether to sit on Monday next or not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 28th November (vide page 3609), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Senate for any great length of time. If I may be forgiven for the introduction of something extraneous to the debate, I may say that it is one of the conspicuous ills of party government that important measures such as this have very frequently to be discussed at the fag end of a session, when any lengthy deliverance by an honorable senator may be resented in some measure by his brother senators as possibly depriving them of the early enjoyment of that domesticity to which they may reasonably look forward at the festive season of the year. To use the language of Shakspearian plays, I may say that much of the time of Parliament is given up to “ alarums and incursions,” and it is often only late in a session that anything like reasonable attention is given to practical business. I promise not to be unnecessarily discursive in the remarks I have to address to them on this Bill. I suppose that any differences of opinion existing in connexion with it will be as to the principle of borrowing money for the carrying out of works of the nature indicated in the schedule. I do not see any referred to which would justify the adoption of a party attitude. The items included might reasonably be projected as being in the material interests of the Commonwealth. If objection be taken to all or any of them, I suppose it will be honestly taken, because the items objected to are regarded as superfluous or as injudicious at the present stage of the Commonwealth’s history. I will just say a little in defence of a loan policy as necessary for the development of the Commonwealth. I shall not in this connexion elaborate any argument of my own, because I have, fortunately, before me something which was’ issued from the Commonwealth Bureau of Statistics in the year 1909 on the subject of the borrowing of money for the development of Australian resources. When I first aspired to a seat in an Australian Parliament certain ideas which were uppermost in my mind on this subject were given a satisfactory shape by the reading of a publication forwarded to me through the courtesy of the then Minister of Home Affairs, Senator Keating. It was a small pamphlet entitled The Australian Commonwealth; its Resources and Productions. I do not think any more interesting publication was ever placed in the hands of a public man at the instance of a Commonwealth official. We know that the Commonwealth Statistician records Australia’s progress irrespective of the way in which it may be .influenced by the adoption of particular political policies. I was unable to secure a copy of the edition of the pamphlet which was sent to me, but I have here a similar publication issued during the current year, and the special paragraph which I propose to quote is repeated line and letter as it was in the publication issued in 1909. It seems to be such a clear justification for the adoption of a loan policy for the development of Australia’s resources that I am sure I will be forgiven if I quote the ten or a dozen lines which deal with the subject. Referring to the borrowing of money for Australian development, most of which has, of course, been at the instance of the different State Governments, Mr. Knibbs says -
From the figures just given it will be seen that the public debt of Australia at the 30th June, 1912, was over 277 millions sterling, or £S9 13s. Sd- Per inhabitant. At first sight, the total appears somewhat heavy for a country with such a comparatively small population, and Australia has been subjected to .1 good deal of hostile criticism on this occasion by people who, it is to be feared, were not sufficiently conversant with the circumstances under which the bulk of the debt was incurred. A study of the conditions under which the development of this country proceeded will make it fairly clear that Australia’s progress is largely the result of Australia’s debt. In explanation of this rather paradoxical statement, allusion may again be made to the fact that Australia is practically destitute of navigable inland waterways. In the absence of these, the effective development of the rich lands distant from the coast line rendered imperative the construction of expensive roads and railways. A glance at the figures in the table on page 98 will show what a large proportion of the debt was incurred on these services alone. It will be seen also that the major portion of the loan moneys had been spent in services necessary to the opening up of the country. Without this expenditure the progress which has been achieved in the development of the productive resources of the country would have been impossible.
That statement has been issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Statistics for five or six years in succession, and under successive Administrations. I am not aware that any public man of importance has so far attempted to seriously controvert it. The Commonwealth Statistician is, of course, absolutely impartial in his. references to party political policy. I suggest that the policy of borrowing for the development of the resources of the Commonwealth does not in essencediffer very much from the policy pursued by a working man who wishes to procure a satisfactory residence for himself and family. Does he build a house and pay for it out of one year’s earnings? Not. at all. He probably obtains assistance, from a building society, or some such institution, and distributes the cost of his house over a long term of his working life. What is advantageous in regard to the development of the material prosperity of the individual is clearly advantageous in regard to the development of the material resources of the nation. With those few observations I shall leave the question of whether a loan policy is justifiable in itself, and address myself to the consideration of. certain items in the schedule to> the Bill, because I promised honorable senators I should not be unduly prolix. I have indicated that I would like to see on a wall of the Chamber a map of the territories of the Commonwealth. Seeing that we have to deal with many matters that involve the development of parts of the Commonwealth of which we have practically no personal acquaintance, it is most essential, I think, that we should have the opportunity of applying our arguments territorially, so to speak, when it comes to a matter of developing our internal resources. Primarily, the Commonwealth was inaugurated to secure two things. Incidentally, of course, the Constitution conferred a considerable number of powers on the National Parliament, but I venture to say that the two questions which were uppermost in the minds of the Australian people, prior to the acceptance of the Constitution, were the question of a common policy of national defence and the question of a system by which commodities would be freely interchanged between the communities. InterState Free Trade, and a common policy of national defence, were the two vital questions which agitated the minds of the people during the discussion of the Constitution Bill, and a little before that time. At the present moment I notice a sort of shaking of the ranks in both parties regarding the great matter of national defence. However other persons may doubt the judiciousness of the policy of defence on which we have embarked, I have no qualms. If the five million persons who inhabit the territories of the Commonwealth intend to make good their claims they will have to recognise that they are no longer children in the national sense; that strife comes with manhood, as dawning with day; and that they must shoulder those tremendous responsibilities, the nature of which it seems to me they have not completely realized. If we want this country we shall have to defend it. Moreover, it seems most singular to me that persons who talk about acquiring territories outside the Commonwealth, extending our jurisdiction over the New Hebrides, holding Papua, and defending the Island State of Tasmania fail to realize that we can only put ourselves in a ludicrous light in regard to our assertions, if we do not commit ourselves to a wholesouled policy of national naval defence. In the schedule of this Bill I find that two of the most important items are the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, involving an expenditure of £1,400,000, presumably in addition to what has already been expended, but I have not any assurance that this sum will be sufficient to complete the work. There is another item for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory, from Pine Creek to Katherine River and southwards. Although I believe that it was injudicious for this young nation at this stage in its history to undertake the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, I am not going to cavil at the item, for, when all is said and done, it will link up the western community of about a quarter of a million souls with the communities that are established on the eastern and the southeastern littoral. But I venture to say, seeing that there was on the whole satisfactory water communication, that it would have been wise, in the national sense, for Australia to have postponed this expenditure a couple of decades. Some honorable senators, some public men, and many eminent journalists point to the example of America. They say, “ Look at America. It constructed a railway in order to link up the territories on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains with those important States that lie along the Atlantic sea-board, and in the middle west of the country.” But I would point out to these critics that the United States did not construct that transcontinental railway until their population consisted of 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 souls. They did not undertake the sort of work which we are undertaking when they had a population of only 5,000,000 souls; that would have been beyond their national strength. We have not only taken on the work, but are duplicating this tremendous task. It is actually in contemplation to construct a railway across Australia from south to north, or rather from north to south. There does not exist the reason to which I have just alluded. Tha north is empty of men, and I am not so sure that in the present condition of Australia and its defences it is undesirable that it should be so. It is probable that that is one of our best assets in the way of defence. I wish to be fair in regard to this matter. I am a member of a Chamber of review, and, irrespective of party, I intend to exercise my right of commenting upon any outlay which I think will be unwise, so far as the welfare of the nation is concerned. Is it asserted that the transcontinental railway which is in process of construction will be remunerative within anything like a reasonable period? I venture to say that very few persons entertain that opinion.
– Is that an argument against construction?
-What other argument exists for the construction of the railway if it is not going to be remunerative ?
– That argument would apply to the extension of railway communication to country districts in any part of Australia.
– I understand that the reason for the construction of transcontinental railways is largely a strategic one. It is believed that it is essential to the purpose of a sound national defence. I will venture to submit arguments succinctly to the effect that these railways are not essential for that purpose at present; and I think I am not trespassing upon any privilege of the Chamber when I say that at recent inquiries I have heard witnesses, unsolicited, describe as a desert the country; “which is to be traversed by the line from west to east. It may not be a desert in the sense that the Sahara is a desert; but it is certainly a tract of country which, so far as we know, is suitable for no purpose other than that of affording rough pasturage to stock. In a mining office in Collins-street the other day, I saw what I would like to see on a wall of this chamber, and that is a pretty satisfactory map of the Commonwealth. The gentlemen in whose office I was are connected with the mining industry, and were responsible for sending out expeditions to explore country and examine mineral propositions in the centre and north-west of Australia. They had roughly-drawn circles, and had written on different parts of the map words indicative of the character of the country which the explorations had disclosed. Whether their description of the country is correct or not, a very large portion of Central Australia is described by them, on the advice of their exploratory parties, as barren country. It is possible, of course, that important mineral discoveries may be made in the centre of the continent, but they have not been made yet. Notwithstanding that such alluring prospects are held out to us regarding the opportunities for settlement in different parts of central, northern, and north-western Australia, the fact remains that settlement is not proceeding there apace. A pictorial illustration is very often more useful than a dozen volumes of oral arguments. I hold up to honorable senators a picture of Australia showing the distribution of the population. It will be recollected that a famous American, who died recently - Homer Lea - described Australia as an atoll. As an Australian, I venture to say that in substance - allowing, of course, for the application of the description to land - his description is pretty accurate. Up to the present time the most suitable country for the settlement of white people in Australia has been disclosed to be not very far from the sea coast. There we have the settlement of people dense on the coast and gradually fading away, so to speak, as far as the interior of the already settled States is concerned.
– What has this to do with the Loan Bill? Are you opposed to railway construction ?
– I am opposed to> the construction of a railway in theNorthern Territory at the present time.
– Too late.
– Whether I am. late or not, I am going to raise my voice in protest against the proposal. We cannot, at the one time, build these railwaysand maintain an Army and a Fleet, which is absolutely an essential to the defence of Australia. Five millions of people cannot do all these things.
– You ought to join, the “ stinking-fish “ crowd, when you say “ we cannot do this “ and “ we cannot do that.” Why do you want to start that cry on this question?
– I am probablyone of the most optimistic of public men;, but in regard to this matter the mottoshould be “Steady.” I have already indicated to the honorable senator that these measures of development were not undertaken by other countries until they had at least eight or nine times our population.
-Why did we take over the Territory ?
– In order toafford the people there an opportunity todevelop a new State of the Commonwealth. But I would ask the honorablesenator whether settlement has proceeded along that portion of the transcontinental line which has already been constructed ?
– We shall not get people to settle in the Territory until we have constructed railways there.
– A railway hasbeen constructed to Pine Creek, but has. it proved effective in assisting settlement in the Territory?
– It requires to gomuch further.
– Apart from the resources, fancied or real, of the Northern Territory, I oppose the construction of the projected transcontinental line from north to south, not only on account of its. cost at the present juncture, but for strategic reasons. Why should we afford other nations an opportunity to seize the means of communication which this railway would afford to pour their troopsacross the void, so to speak, thus placing the people settled along our southern and. eastern littoral between two fires?
– No wonder that Tasmania is a backward State !
– A railway constructed through the territory of a weak people is a certain means of their subjugation. I ask honorable senators who have any knowledge of South Africa, and who followed the operations of the British forces there, whether the Boers would have been subdued as soon as they were if they had not constructed railways through their territories - railways which were repaired by British engineers as fast as they were blown up ? If Senator Findley will read an article in the British Review, he will there find satisfactory reasons advanced why the people of Australia should pause before undertaking the construction of these two transcontinental railways, which will cost them at least £10,000,000.
– If there had been a railway to Moscow, Napoleon would have been all right.
– How long would the independence of Afghanistan last if the Ameer permitted railways to be constructed through his territory? A rail: way is all right so long as the Power which constructs it possesses a strong force. The British did not subdue the Mahdi until they had built a railway through the Soudan across the desert. That railway afforded them an opportunity of bringing their forces to bear against the enemy, and consequently the result was never in doubt.
– Why build railways if one can swim the distance?
– The honorable senator’s interjection is intended to be a jocular one, but if he will read a recent publication dealing with the life of Lord Wolseley, he will find that troops should be transported by water wherever possible, rather than by railway.
– What did Napoleon say 1
– Ho said that a great natural obstacle was a most valuable asset in the defence of the country. Up to the present there has been a disposition on the part of our people to settle along our coast-line. Seeing that the land in the interior of New South Wales approximates to that of the Northern Territory, why is it that, so far, it has not attracted settlement? What settlement is there around Mount Brown, around Bourke, and the south-west of Queensland, where a gentleman told me that closer settlement means the holding of blocks 10 miles square? If the States,with their existing railway systems and their projected railway extensions, cannot induce people to settle in the interior of their territories, what hope is there that the Commonwealth Government will be able to induce settlement in Central and Northern Australia?
– The honorable senator is opposed to any kind of development there?
– I am not opposed to honoring the agreement entered into with South Australia - rather unwisely, I think, under the circumstances - but I say .that there is no obligation on our part to give effect to that agreement at the present time. Let us wait until our sinews have been strengthened.
– The honorable senator thinks that the time is not opportune “
– I think that it is premature to undertake the construction of two transcontinental railways at the present time - railways which are not likely to pay immediately, and which are quite unnecessary for strategic purposes. As a matter of fact, for strategic purposes they are more dangerous than helpful to Australia.
– Does not the honorable senator think it is time that he should be really grown up as an Australian?
– The honorable senator will find that I am about as optimistic an Australian as can be found anywhere. But if Australia is a continent, it is an insular continent with insular dependencies, and if it recognises obligations to the insular State of Tasmania, or to the Territory of Papua - which will probably prove far more wealthy from a tropical stand-point than will the Northern Territory - it must necessarily conceive that its first duty is to institute a satisfactory system of naval defence.
– We have got the honorable member part of the way. He is going to move for the exclusion of the item relating to the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway.
– The honorable senator will probably recollect that I asked for certain information in the shape of reports. I intend to peruse those reports, and thus to become fortified with knowledge on this matter, before I cast] a vote in favour of committing the Commonwealth to an expenditure which could be more profitably incurred by the various States in an endeavour to promote settlement. It is highly desirable that we should at the earliest opportunity do all that we can to bring from other countries, or to rear in our own, an increase of population, for until Australia has a population of about 20,000,000 she cannot be regarded as reasonably safe. Let us introduce population - above all, let us rear it if we can, because as the French poet has said -
Tis awful odds against the gods,
When they will match with myrmidons.
These spawning, spawning myrmidons.
Our turn to-day, we take command,
Jove gives the globe into the hand
Of myrmidons, of myrmidons.
There is no doubt that the prolific people of the world are going to govern the earth. Unless the people of Australia are prolific, the position which we at present proudly hold will be wrested from us by races which are much more fecund. The claim of 5,000,000 persons to hold one of the world’s continents will be challenged as surely as day follows night. I am now indicating to the 5,000,000 inhabitants of Australia how our national revenue ought to be expended.
– The honorable senator is not entitled to discuss that matter. The only question which is now before us is as to whether a loan shall be raised for the specific purposes set out in the Bill or not. Whilst the honorable senator is entitled to make a passing reference to the matter he apparently wishes to discuss he is not entitled to debate it at length.
– I regret that I have been drawn away from the question by the not unfriendly interjections of Senator Findley. I wish to point out that £1,400,000 - the amount proposed to be expended this year upon the construction of the line from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta- added to £400,000- the amount which we are asked to appropriate for the construction of a line from the Pine Creek to the Katherine River - makes a total of nearly £2,000,000. I have no hesitation in saying that any Australian State, irrespective of whether it is governed by a Liberal or a Labour Government, could do more towards increasing our population by spending that money in settling people within its borders than the Commonwealth can do by spending it upon the construction of two transcontinental railways. It may be said that I am merely beating the wind. I may be asked, “ Why argue against the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway ? ‘ ‘ seeing that it is already in course of construction. I accept the inevitable. I say that there is some justification for the building of that line, seeing that it will link up a community of 250,000 souls with the rest of Australia. Consequently I do not intend to take any overtly hostile action towards that railway.
– Why not vote against it?
– The honorable senator must be remarkably dense if he cannot understand my reason for condoning that item. But I am against the inauguration of commitments for the construction of a transcontinental line from north to south, because I hold that the time for such an undertaking is premature. It is obvious that we cannot spend the money that would be required for such a work, and maintain a satisfactory Fleet at the same time. I do not wish to unduly prolong this debate. Whilst I am in favour of a loan policy for the development of Australia, I certainly question the desirableness at this juncture of inaugurating the construction of a railway from the Northern Territory to Oodnadatta in South Australia. It is unwise for the Commonwealth to emulate other nations by creating open sores. The Philippines and Cuba were the open sores of the Spanish monarchy. The Soudan was an open sore of Great Britain, and I venture to say that if the 5,000,000 inhabitants who are scattered along our littoral are not extremely careful we shall have an open sore of great magnitude developed in the Northern Territory of the Commonwealth.
– - Whilst I do not agree with all that my colleague has said upon this Bill, I certainly congratulate him upon having made some interesting statements in the course of his all too brief speech. I have not a great deal to say upon this measure, but I think that it is one which opens up to us a question which we ought to seriously consider. What a pity it is that there is so much hypocrisy in our Australian political life. I had intended to look up some of the records of speeches made by our political opponents, the present Ministerial party, during the last Federal campaign, but as it was a matter of urgency that this Bill should become law, I have refrained from doing so. Many of the speeches of the leaders of that party in the last campaign, if placed side by side in double columns with the proposals of the present Government and the present Treasurer in this Loan Bill, would, however, have made very interesting reading to the electors. From one end of Australia to the other, not only candidates for the Liberal or Fusion side, but paid canvassers, went about during the last election campaign shrieking out the parrot-cry of extravagance on the part of the late Fisher Ministry. They used to talk about the spendthrift party, the party who had, in the notorious words of the present Prime Minister, spent every penny of revenue that had come in, and everything else they could lay their hands on. Although this statement was proved over and over again to be incorrect, the Prime Minister, even when faced with the facts and the figures, and other members of the party with their paid canvassers and agents, continued to repeat it in every quarter of Australia. This Bill raises the question of which is the spendthrift party in Australia to-day. The Government propose to spend over £4,000,000 in excess of the amount expended by the late Government. They propose to spend during this financial year, not only the surplus of £2,653,223 left to them by the late Government, and the whole of the revenue that will come in during the financial year - roughly, about the same amount as the previous Government had to handle - but, in addition, loan money to the extent of £3,080,000. I am not going to complain about the proposed destination of the loan money, with the exception of one item. I shall probably be found supporting every other item, but I have every justification for complaining that the party now occupying the Ministerial benches should have gone throughout Australia charging the late Government with wanton and reckless extravagance, and with having embarked on a career of ruining the country. That cry undoubtedly caused many thousands of electors to change their political views at the last election. I refer particularly to that section of the electors which stands midway between the two big parties - a section which changes its political views very frequently, according to the current party cries. I am certain that the parrot-cry about the extravagance of the Fisher party very largely assisted the party at present occupying the Ministerial benches to get there. W.e who were supporting the Fisher Government never denied that there had been a vast increase of expenditure over previous years, nor did we want to deny it; but our reply to those charges was that it was necessary for the money to be spent, that Australia could not stand still, and that it had to undertake great national responsibilities entailing very heavy expenditure. We pointed out that there had been an enormous increase in postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities for the people; that the guarantees required from . isolated communities which wanted telegraphic or telephonic communication had been reduced ; and that we had increased the payment for contract offices - an absolutely necessary reform. We admitted that we had spent money in many directions where other Governments had not found it necessary, but we urged that all this was done in the interests of the good government of Australia. It was of very little use, however, because the leaders of the Fusion party, the newspapers - nearly every one of which was behind them - and the paid canvassers of the party repeated their cry , about extravagance. Yet immediately they get into power we find that they propose to spend about £4,000,000 more than their predecessors did. I am not going to blame them for doing so. I propose to assist them to pass the Bill, because I believe this expenditure to be necessary in the interests of Aus-, tralia, and I shall not, here or outside, charge the Government with reckless expenditure, with wilful extravagance, or with ruining the country, because they find it necessary to make a larger increase over the expenditure of the Fisher Government than the Fisher Government did as regards the expenditure of their predecessors; but I do say that it is time our friends on the other side recognised the pitiful hypocrisy of that cry on their part, and on the part of their newspapers and canvassers. I do not share Senator Bakhap’s pessimistic views that many of these items should be knocked out of the Bill, because, after looking through the measure very carefully, I cannot see more than one item to which I object. The Fisher Government spent out of revenue, including surplus brought forward, the sum of £15,387,933, and, in payment to the States, £6,119,930; in Post Office Special Works Trust Account, £413,694; and in loan expenditure, £1,189,905. That made a total expenditure of £23,111,462 for the financial year 1912-13, ended 30th June of this year. The Cook-Forrest Government propose to expend during the current financial year, ending 30th June, 1914, out of revenue, including the surplus brought forward, £17,800,273; in payment to the States, which is a little increased on account of the increased population, £6,315,000; on Post Office Special Works Trust Account, £15,847 ; and in loan expenditure, £3,115,627. Totalled up, these items show an aggregate increase of £4,135,285 over the expenditure of the Fisher Government for the previous year.
– The honorable senator is wrong. One item he has left out is the payment of £85,000 to Tasmania.
– I am comparing the ordinary items of expenditure. The special item of £400,000 as a grant to Tasmania docs not come into the comparison.
– The honorable senator will understand that a good many of these obligations are expanding ones.
– I quite recognise that they will probably expand still more. If Australia is to go ahead, we shall find ourselves faced with continually increasing expenditure in many of these directions, and I hope that we shall have a rapidly expanding revenue to meet it. The Fisher Government expended on defence in 1911-12, £4,790,000, and in 1912-13, £4,331,498. The present Government propose to expend during the current financial year £5,746,853. They propose an expenditure upon defence of £1 3s.6d. per head of the population as against a per capita expenditure by the Fisher Government of 18s. 33/4d. I am not going to complain of the proposed increased expenditure, because I regard expenditure on defence as a payment for national insurance.
– It costs a lot to insure a continent.
– That is so.
– So long as you make the right people pay it.
– That is a most sensible interjection. So long as we make the right people pay, and do not permit our expenditure to go beyond reasonable bounds, we shall, I think, have no right to complain if, with our increasing population, development, and importance, we have to spend an increasing amount upon national defence. But I think that it is only fair that honorable senators opposite who, during the election campaign, used all the adjectives they could find to describe the expenditure of the Fisher Government as reckless and criminal extravagance, should be reminded that their statements were hollow and unjustified, when they have themselves to come down with a proposal to spend £1 3s. 6d. per head of our population on defence as against an expenditure of 18s. 33/4d. per head by their predecessors. The Defence and Post and Telegraph Departments are the two great spending Departments of the Commonwealth, but the latter brings in a revenue which almost, if not entirely, covers the expenditure upon it. The Labour Government set themselves out to afford people in outlying centres all possible telegraphic, telephonic, and postal facilities. In order to do so, they spent a great deal more money on the Post and Telegraph Department than was spent by their predecessors. I am not sorry that they did so, and I am sure that even our honorable friends opposite, who charged them with extravagance, are not sorry that they did what they could to convenience the residents of the remoter districts of the Commonwealth. In 1911-12, the Fisher Government spent £4,330,896, and in 1912-13, £4,783,744 on the Post and Telegraph Department, but the Cook Government propose in the current financial year to spend in connexion with this Department no less than £5,189,265, which represents an increase of over £300,000 on the expenditure of their predecessors during the last financial year. We cannot object to this increased expenditure if it is justified by increased settlement in out-back districts, and by expansion generally in the Commonwealth, but we may ask our honorable friends opposite, in the circumstances, to take back a good deal of what they said during the election campaign, when they complained of the extravagance of the Fisher Government. We can ask them to fight fairly, and admit that, in view of the responsibilities which they are themselves called upon to face, a great deal that they said was hollow, and nothing but a sham. The figures I have given regarding post and telegraph expenditure do not disclose the whole position. The Treasurer, in his Budget statement, says -
If we examine the expenditure figures we find a much greater rate cf increase. Not taking into account New Works and Buildings, the expenditure in 1911-12 was £4,330,896, and 1912- 13, £4,783,744, the rate of increase being 10.4 per cent. The estimated expenditure for 1913-14 is £5,189,265, the estimated rate of increase being 8.4 per cent. If we add to this expenditure of £5,189,265 the amount proposed to be expended from revenue on New Works and Buildings, £1,350,113 and the amount of £595,000, which it is proposed to obtain from Loan Fund, also £15,897, the balance of the Special Vote of £600,000, we have the immense sum of .£7,150,275 to be expended this year,, as compared with a total of £6,284,053 expended last year - an increase of £866,222, or nearly 14 per cent.
If the proposed increase of expenditure is shown to be necessary, the people of Australia will not grumble or cavil at it, but will cheerfully bear the burden. I come now to deal with some of the items of the Loan Bill. It is proposed to borrow £1,400,000 for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. I think that the Government would act wisely if they looked a little beyond the mere construction of this line to link the East with the West. I think they should consider the desirability of encouraging the Governments of the States through which the railway will pass to open up the lands which it will serve, and which will bring revenue to it when it is completed. I do not know that there is much of the country between the Western Australian border and the South Australian end of the line which promises a material return of revenue from the railway, but we know that in Western Australia many marvellous mining discoveries have been made. The enormous territory of that State has, so far, only been prospected in spots. It may interest honorable senators from Western Australia to learn that I am prepared to support the proposal by the Commonwealth Government to subsidize the Western Australian Government, possibly to the extent of £1 for £1 of the expenditure necessary to send out well-equipped prospecting parties into the country which will be opened up by this railway. I should be prepared to support such a proposal, even though it involved another Loan Bill next year, call ing for an increased amount in connexion. with this railway. I believe that expenditure on the lines I have suggested would be repaid over and over again.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the Commonwealth assisting the Western Australian Government to continue the Line on the 4-ffc. 8-in. gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle ?
– The honorable senator would open up the very big question of the unification of the railway gauges of Australia. I had something no say on that subject last year, when, I think, I made some reasonable proposals. 1 am prepared to support any reasonable suggestions for the unification of the gauges of our Australian railways; but we are, in this Bill, being asked to borrow money for the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and if it be possible, by the adoption of such a suggestion as I have made, to make the railway self-supporting, or profit-earning, within a few years after its completion it would be good business for the Commonwealth.
– What the honorable senator proposes would not cost a great deal.
– It would not cost a great deal. I come now to another proposal in this Bill to borrow for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River. I have no objection to that proposal, which Senator Bakhap does not approve of.
– But which the honorable senator will not vote against.
– The honorable senator does not know what I may do.
– We do not know whether Senator Bakhap will vote against it or not. What I wish to say in connexion with this proposal is that we should have been told that there will be brought before the Senate this year a Bill to authorize the construction of this railway. If I do Senator Clemons an injustice in the matter, I freely apologize; but, speaking from memory, I do not think that, in introducing this Loan Bill, the honorable senator mentioned that it was intended during this session to bring’ before the Senate a Bill to authorize the construction of a line from Pine Creek* to the Katherine River. If I am- wrong, I stand open to correction. Perhaps it was an oversight on the part of the Government, but the Senate ought to be given an indication as to whether it is intended during this session to put a measure through. Surely it would not be a very contentious measure, and probably it would pass both Houses in the course of a few hours. It seems to me that a Bill to authorize the construction of the line is almost a necessary corollary to this proposal to borrow £400,000 for the extension of the line from Pine Creek, because Parliament has not yet authorized its construction. Last year it’ only authorized the expenditure of money to make a survey of the route.
– In the press I have seen something about it.
– I understand that it is proposed to introduce into the other House a Bill authorizing the construction of the line, but officially I do not know anything about it. It seems to me that, as a necessary corollary to the introduction of the Loan Bill, a Minister should have stated that it was intended to introduce a Bill authorizing the construction of the line. Regarding the policy of borrowing money for carrying out great national works, there should have been a further condition. The Government should have taken their courage in their hands, and boldly asked Parliament for a vote to complete the survey of the line from north to south, because, sooner or later, the line will have to be taken from the present terminus, or the proposed terminus, at Katherine River southwards, even though it may diverge a little, into Oodnadatta. I do not take the pessimistic view of the resources of that portion of Australia which Senator Bakhap does.
– I do not take any pessimistic view at present. I merely say that the resources are undisclosed. We have practically no information about them.
– Having acquired all the information I possibly could regarding the resources - little known, I admit - of the country which the railway will traverse, I believe that, sooner or later, and, of course, the sooner the better, that problem will have to be tackled. We have there vast areas which may contain wealth untold. I belong to the optimistic party, who believe that
Australia will be quite justified in going in for a pretty large borrowing policy.
– To-day’s businesspaper discloses the fact that there is n» water for travelling cattle to drink.
– We have many accounts, and conflicting accounts, of th« possible, or little known, resources of Central Australia. In my opinion, the item in the Loan Bill is not sufficient for that particular purpose. If the Government could not provide the money out of the general revenue, they should have proposed an increased amount for that item, so that the survey of the route could be carried right through as soon as possible. It is only playing with the question to construct a bit of line from Pine Creek to Katherine River, which, I suppose, will land us in a deficit year after year until the line is extended to the populated portions in the south. Whilst I supported, last year, the Bill authorizing a survey of that section of the line, and for good reasons too, I have always held that the proper way to tackle that problem of railway construction was to proceed from the south northwards. But it was necessary as a stop-gap last year to pass the Survey Bill, and the Government find it necessary this year to get authority to borrow £400,000 for the construction of the line. A very reasonable and a necessary extension of that policy, I hold, will be to go on as soon as possible with the survey of the line through the heart of the continent, and, as soon as it is completed^ to begin the building of the railway from the south. That is something like a bold national policy, which the electors can understand. I am satisfied that they will never turn down anything in the shape of a bold national policy.
– It is better than the postage-stamp policy.
– Yes. In connexion with the proposal to borrow money for expenditure in the Northern Territory, I want to know why the present Government have turned down the proposal of the late Government to establish Commonwealth freezing works at Darwin ? It seems to me that we are landed with this incubus of a Northern Territory, if it is an incubus, and must accept the responsibility of the position. Surely anything that would show a reasonable chance of reducing the burden which we put on the> taxpayers in taking over the Northern Territory should be availed of by any Government, whether it is opposed to Socialistic views or not. Was it only because the establishment of Commonwealth freezing works was proposed by the late Government that the present Government turned down the proposal? I think that many proposals of the late Government which the people of Australia favour have been turned down, or treated with cold water, by the present Government for no other reason than that they emanated from their predecessors. I shall be glad to hear a Minister give a- better reason than has yet been given for not proceeding with the establishment of freezing works at Darwin. My opinion - in anticipation of any reason that we may get - is that the proposal was turned down by the present Government simply because it was a socialistic venture initiated by the late Government. Have the present Government any reason to complain of the socialistic ventures of the late Government ?
– It would annoy the Beef Trust.
– It might. Have the present Government any solid ground to complain of socialistic ventures of the late Government? In the pamphlet that was sent to the four corners of Australia by the right honorable Sir John Forrest, P.O., G.C.M.G., LL.P., M.P., Gold Medallist of the Geographical Society of London, and Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, containing the Budget speech, which includes the proposals for. loan expenditure, the Treasurer gives his pat of approval, in an indirect way, to the socialistic ventures of the late Government. Referring to the Commonwealth Clothing Factory - and this is only by way of reference, sir - the right honorable gentleman says -
This factory is now capable of supplying the whole of the clothing required for the Naval and Military Forces, and also, if necessary, the greater part of the requirements of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
He gives the total number of employes and the total expenditure, and winds up with these words -
T am informed that the quality and cost of the articles manufactured are satisfactory.
In other paragraphs the Treasurer makes certain statements.
– Will the honorable senator tell me how he proposes to connect these remarks with the question before the Chair?
– I do not wish to digress, sir, and I only made those remarks by way of reference; but I would point out that the Loan Bill contains a proposal to borrow £400,000 for opening up the Northern Territory. I am satisfied to put a broad construction on the words of the item. I believe that the money is really required for the construction of a railway, and my contention is that, before we are justified in borrowing a penny, much less £400,000, for that purpose, every available means of bringing revenue to the line should be taken advantage of. We are not justified in borrowing £400,000 for expenditure on a railway in the Territory so long as the Government refuse to take advantage of every possible means to bring traffic to the railway by extending the Commonwealth activities, if necessary, because private enterprise will not move in those directions. That, sir, is the connexion between the Commonwealth activities I was referring to by way of comparison and the Loan Bill. I now come to the item of £60,000 for constructing a railway from Port Moresby to Astrolabe, and for building wharfs at Port Moresby and Samarai. I do not quite know what the Government are doing in regard to the development of the supposed oil fields in Papua.
– That is not covered by item No. 3, which relates to the development of a copper field.
– In my opinion, a solemn duty devolves upon the Government to launch out in every reasonable direction to develop Papua, and, it may be, to encourage private enterprise to develop anything in the shape of mineral resources. Papua is almost unknown to us, and, like the Northern Territory, it is a source of expenditure to the people of Australia. I hope that the Government will never lose an opportunity of proposing to Parliament reasonable expenditure for opening up Papua by the development of oil, copper, gold, or tin fields, and in other directions. This schedule contains an item which, I think, should not have appeared in a Loan Bill. With the items for railway construction from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, in the Northern Territory, and in Papua, I am fully in agreement. With the item for the purchase of land for post and telegraph purposes I am not in disagreement. But as regards the item for the purchase of land for defence purposes, it would be cowardly on my part if I to-day were to place on my children the onus of defending me while I am alive, as well as defending themselves when they have grown to manhood. We shall depart from a sound and wholesome principle if wo borrow money for the purpose of defence. Surely we who are in possession of this great Commonwealth should be prepared to find money in our time for our defence, and to leave to our children the burden of defending themselves in their own time. I shall vote in favour of deleting from the schedule the item for the purchase of land for defence purposes for which it is proposed to appropriate £300,000. I also feel seriously inclined to oppose the items ‘ ‘ For the construction of conduits, and for laying wires underground, £425,000,” and “For machinery, machine shops, and construction of wharfs, Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, £175,000.” But, seeing that it is proposed to establish a sinking fund of 5 per cent, in connexion with them, we cannot make a very serious mistake by agreeing to them. Within the next few years a great deal of the money which is to be spent on conduits may prove to have been thrown away owing to the rapid strides we are making in wireless telegraphy and wireless telephony. Nevertheless, we have to provide the public with these facilities. A sinking fund of 5 per cent, in connexion with the works will wipe out the whole capital expenditure upon them in the. course of a very few years. In a general way, however, I say that such undertakings should be paid for out of revenue. The Fisher Government were held up to public opprobrium at the last elections on the ground that they had been guilty of extravagance. Yet, during their three years of office, they practically constructed all these works out of revenue. Their successors, who got into power by denouncing them for extravagance, have, during the first year of their existence, to construct similar undertakings out of loan money. .T. wish now to say a word or two in regard to the sum of £150,000 which we are asked to appropriate for the erection of London offices.
When the present High Commissioner was appointed, I was not one of those whothought he was the best man for the position. I have not altered my opinion, although I believe that he has done very good work according to his lights. Whilst I recognise his abnormal qualifications, and whilst I admit that he is a very valuable asset to the Commonwealth, because he is such a genial personality, and such a splendid after-dinner speaker, I am of opinion that greater work might be done in the direction’ of increasing the» trade between Australia and the Mother Country. I shall vote for the Bill, but in Committee I shall take action to secure the excision of the item for the purchase of land for defence purposes.
– This Bill affords us an opportunity of testing the sincerity of honorable senators opposite in their denunciation of the financial proposals of the late Government. It is a Loan Bill to authorize the construction of certain works, some of which will be of a reproductive character, while others will not. But the significant fact about it is that it is a Loan Bill on top of a record Budget of revenue and expenditure - the first Budget of a Government which was elected on the promises they made to the people to effect economies, and to cut down public expenditure. During the late election campaign members of the Labour party, hi answer to the charge of honorable senators opposite, asked them to point to any item of expenditure to which they objected. The Liberals were unable to do so. They said, “It is not the duty of the Opposition to say what ought to be done; that is the duty of the Government. When we are in power, we will show you how we will economize.” Well, they are in power to-day, and they have increased the expenditure of the Commonwealth by 20 per cent., as against that of their predecessors. Let us look at the nature of the financial transactions of the late Government. It is true that we borrowed from the Trust Funds under the authority of Parliament. Let us first look at our transactions in regard to the Northern Territory. When we took over the Territory, on the 1st January, 1911, it had a total indebtedness of £3,931,086, and the annua] interest payable upon it was £151.420. That, however, did not include the indebtedness upon the Port Augusta railway. As a result of the loan policy of the Labour Government, that indebtedness had been reduced on the 30th June, 1912, to £3,431,836, and the interest payable to £131,452 - a decrease of over £400,000 in the indebtedness, and of more than £20,000 in the annual interest charge. Can the present Government show anything to compare with that ? Can they show us any way in which the burden of the taxpayer is to> be lightened ? I propose now to say a word or two regarding the Vice-President of the Executive Council - that romancer who weaves such wonderful fairy tales. He has recently been putting the financial position of the Commonwealth before the people per medium of the Argus, and has instituted a comparison between the financial policy of the Labour Government and that of the Fusion party. In the report of. his remarks - the accuracy of which he has not challenged - we find more misstatements per line of print than one would think it was humanly possible for one to utter. In the case of Senator McColl, there seems to be a certain fatality when he gets statements into print, and especially when he is dealing with figures. Comparing Labour finance with Fusion finance, he said that Labour was extravagant, and that the Fusion party were economical. To prove his point, he put into the witness-box the State Governments and the Commonwealth Government. He said -
In South Australia, the Verran Ministry was ia office for only twenty months, and yet it borrowed £3,500,000.
He did not tell his hearers that during that term the Verran Government reduced the public debt of South Australia by £1,947,000, and that the only loans which they took up were redemption loans. This information is published on page 43 of the last issue of Mr. Knibbs’ statistics. Here is a Minister who is actually ignorant of what his own officers are publishing throughout the length and breadth of the land. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was equally unfortunate when he dealt with the Scaddan Ministry. He said -
In Western Australia, the Scaddan Ministry had been in office for two years and a half, and during that time had borrowed £5,753,000. Now it was at its wits’ end for money, and had given short-dated bills, and was cashing them in London at 4$ per cent.
If I made a similar statement about a business man, he would have an action against me for slander, because the statement would be absolutely incorrect. The Scaddan Government have done nothing of the kind. Their last transaction on the London market was more successful than that of Mr. Watt, the greatest Fusion Treasurer which the press is able to put before us. They got the money they required at the lowest rate of interest, and Mr. Scaddan was the only Premier out of three who was able to raise any money at all. Moreover, he did not get it at 4 per cent., but at 4 per cent., and on £1 per £100 better terms than the Fusion financiers of the States were able to get it a few months later.
– He had two-fifths of the Commonwealth behind him.
– And he also had the commercial opinion of London in respect of Labour and Liberal finance.
– What State subsequently raised a loan upon worse terms?
– Mr. Peake and Mr. Watt could not get any money in London.
– Mr. Scaddan was the only Premier who was able to raise money at the time, and he secured it on better terms than were obtained by Queensland a few months later. The Vice-President of the Executive Council further said -
In New South Wales, a Labour Ministry had been in office for three years. Its financial position on assuming office was a splendid one. There was a Treasury balance of £2,625,176, but that sum soon went, and on 30th June last the balance-sheet showed a debit of £3,400,000.
That is a carefully prepared statement. The fact is that on 30th June, 1910, there was a Treasury balance of £2,625,176. But the Holman Government did not come into office until October of that year, and, between June and October, the Wade Government went to the bad by £1,000,000. Senator McColl was inaccurate in saying that the New South Wales Labour Ministry had gone to the bad to the extent of £3,400,000, because, later on, he contradicts himself by affirming -
Mr. Holman confessed to borrowing £18,000,000. In three years the New South Wales Labour Ministry had gone through £63,000,000, and its debit to-day was something like £2,000,000.
Now I come to his statement regarding Federal finance. In this connexion he said -
In the Commonwealth, a Labour Ministry had been in control for three years. Its career also was marked by reckless expenditure and by wanton extravagance. No Ministry ever assumed office under brighter prospects. A few months after Mr. Fisher came into office the Braddon clause expired, and his Ministry had an extra ^’3,500,000 to expend. That amount soon went, and so did the ^61,254,170 which represented the revenue for the last three years.
Senator McColl knows that those statements are absolutely inaccurate. He knows that the amount did not soon go, and that he and his colleagues inherited from the Fisher Government £2,750,000, although he had not the decency to tell his audience so.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– Before the luncheon adjournment I was dealing with a statement made by Senator McColl at Heidelberg, as reported in the Argus of the 2nd instant. He stated that the record of the Government of which I was a member was marked by reckless expenditure and wanton extravagance; that we spent the whole of our revenue - £61,000,000; and so forth. Now, what are the facts concerning the three years when the Labour Government held office? We came into office with a deficit of* £450,000. We left office with a surplus of £2,650,000.
– I will make them a present of the odd thousands. Here is a member of a Government who says that we had a record of reckless and wanton extravagance, and yet this Government in its first year proposes to spend all the revenue, the surplus of £2,650,000, and, on the top of that, £3,080,000.
– Redeeming your obligations.
– The honorable senator, and his supporters and followers, condemned our obligations, saying that they were extravagant. The honest course to pursue, therefore, was to stop them. Why need they honour our extravagance, if it was extravagance? If our measures led to extravagance, why does not this Government repeal them ? They denounced the maternity allowance. Why do they not repeal the Act? They said that we were throwing sops to the electors in our old-age pensions legislation. Why do they not repeal that? There is no necessity for any of these things to be continued if this Government do not believe in them. But they came into office on a wave of denunciation of our alleged extravagance, and they continue that extravagance. They condone it, and, therefore, they justify it. The very justification of our expenditure is this year’s Budget of the present Fusion Government. There is not a single item upon which they dare to tell the people of Australia that they propose to reverse our policy - not one. Not only that, but they are going back to a policy which has already been rejected by the electors of Australia. In the year 1910, they went to the country as a Government having passed a Loan Bill for £3,500,000 for defence purposes. The party with which I am associated made that one of the principal items of attack upon them at the elections. We were returned pledged to repeal that Loan Act. We introduced a Bill to repeal it, and it was passed by Parliament. Members of the present Government said then that if they had continued in office they would have borrowed the money. Some of them have since, on the platform, said that if they had known of the altered financial position of the Commonwealth they would not have borrowed the money. But the present Treasurer has said that it was good business to borrow. As I have said, we repealed that Loan Act. The country decided against borrowing for defence purposes. Now the Government have gone back on that policy, and are borrowing for defence. I am going to read to the Senate the opinion of a great Liberal - a true Liberal - and a great financier, one of the greatest Chancellors of the Exchequer Great Britain has ever produced, on this question of borrowing for defence purposes. It was in 1854 that the Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone said this -
The expenses of a war are the moral check which it has pleased the Almighty to impose upon the ambition and lust of conquest that are inherent in so many nations. There is pomp and circumstance, there is glory and excitement about war which, notwithstanding the miseries it entails, invests it with charms in the eyes of thecommunity, and tends to blind men to those evils to a fearful and dangerous degree. The necessity of meeting from year to year the expenditure which it entails is a salutary and wholesome check, making them feel what they are about, and making them measure the cost of the benefit upon which they may calculate.
Writing to Sir Stafford Northcote on 11th August, 1862, eight years later, Mr. Gladstone went a little deeper into the subject. He said -
The general question o’f loans versus taxes for war purposes-
Here he was not dealing with a war loan, but with expenditure for war purposes - that is, defence purposes - is one of the utmost interest, but one that I have never seen worked out in print. But, assuming as data the established principles of our financial system, and by no means denying the necessity of loans, I have not the least doubt that it is for the interests of labour, as opposed to capital, that as large a share as possible of war expenditure should be defrayed from taxes.
Again, Mr. Gladstone said -
Capital and labour are in permanent competition for the division of the fruits of production. When in years of war, say, twenty millions annually are provided by loan, say, for three, five, or ten years, then two consequences follow, (i) An immense fictitious stimulus is given to labour at the time - and thus much more labour is brought into the market. (2) When that stimulus is withdrawn an augmented quantity of labour is left to compete in the market with a greatly diminished quantity of capital. Here is the story of the misery of the great masses of English people after 1815, or at the least a material part of that story. I hold by the doctrine that war loans are in many ways a great evil.
Those, in my opinion, are weighty words. The principle which they embody played a very important part in shaping the financial policy of the Mother Country; because it is significant that of the great Powers of the world Great Britain has been practically alone in this respect - that although she is nearly ahead of them all in her defence expenditure, and her expenditure for war purposes, yet she is the one country that defrays the whole of that expenditure out of revenue, that is, out of the annual taxes of the community. I venture to say that the statesman who did more than any other statesman to lay down the lines of policy which Great Britain has followed is the Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone, whose words I have just quoted. I do say, in all seriousness, that here, in our early years, when we are commencing on a gigantic expenditure to make our country safe; when we are spending money in the way of an insurance premium, it would be well for us to take to heart the words uttered by that statesman. I admit that the burden is a heavy one for this country to bear. But ours is a young and wealthy community, and I think it is as well that we should curb that jingoistic feeling which is inherent in all of us to a greater or lesser extent, in order that we may create in Australia a public opinion on this question of’ defence that will safeguard us from allowing ourselves to run to excess in that direction. I mean that we should have an inducement . to use our part, our voice, in the councils of the Empire, in opposition to schemes or ideas of aggression. The best way in which we can accomplish that is to place the burden of defence on the present generation from year to year. Let them carry it. Let them feel the burden. Do not let us put a penny of it on to posterity. Let us bear it from year to year, and in that we shall not get sufficient for our that we shall ‘not get sufficient for our purposes. It may be that an agitation that is being worked up at the present time to check necessary defence expenditure may be successful. But I would rather err in that direction; I would rather suffer the ills that would follow from the success of that agitation than that we should get into this habit, that we should start this principle, of passing the burden of defence on to posterity. We ought not to pass on to them the cost of insurance of the community and leave them to bear it.
– It is a good job that Senator Rae is not present to hear what the honorable senator is saying, when he talks about the jingoistic spirit being inherent in all of us.
– I have heard Senator Rae say that he would have peace, even if he had to kill somebody to get it. Consequently, I have some doubts about him in that regard. I shall vote for the striking out of the two provisions regarding defence. As to the items of expenditure in the Loan Bill as a whole, I recognise that it is inevitable that we should borrow to do certain things that it is absolutely necessary to do. As we must borrow for certain purposes, I am not going to oppose the Bill as a whole. The purpose of my remarks has been to take exception to borrowing for defence purposes, to admit the inevitability of borrowing for some other purposes, and also to indict the Government for what I must call the hypocritical attack which they made upon our party at the last election in telling the people of this country that the financial policy of the Labour
Government was wantonly extravagant. They did not tell the people that our expenditure was necessary expenditure that was going to add to the progress of Australia; but that it was so is proved by the fact that they dare not repeal any of it. If they thought that any of the items could be decreased in the interests of Australia, it was their duty to decrease them. But they have not dared to do so. They have, therefore, admitted that our expenditure was justifiable. In fact, they have increased the expenditure in directions initiated by our party in many respects. I think this Bill in itself is a condemnation of the utterances of Senator McColl, who has gone before the public of this country stating that the expenditure of the Labour Government was reckless and extravagant.
– Surely the honorable senator does not take Senator McColl seriously.
– I do not; but, unfortunately, there are many people who do.
– We must take seriously a statement made by a Minister.
– When those statements are published throughout the length and breadth of the country, many people who do not know the facts are led astray. That is one of the ways in which public opinion is formed. Therefore, I am sorry to see that such tactics have been resorted to. I think that Ministers who make statements so utterly without foundation must feel ashamed, when the facts are properly brought out.
– As one of the Ministers who do not feel ashamed of themselves, I take the present opportunity of expressing in the most friendly manner my views on this question. First of all, I have to congratulate Senator Pearce and the members of his party on the admission that, under some circumstances, loans are inevitable.
– We never denied that as a party.
– On a previous occasion - last session, I think - I quoted to the Senate opinions in regard to borrowing formerly expressed by leading members of the party opposite.
– Was that when you were a member of the party?
– I should sink in my own respect if I ever associated with a party that embraced the honorable senator among its members. The position of the party opposite was formerly one of opposition to borrowing, except under rigidly limited circumstances. As I have said, I quoted opinions expressed by members of the Labour party wherein they declared themselves opposed to borrowing in any shape or form, even for works which were of a character which might be termed reproductive.
– Men who have gone out of political life.
– No; men who were leading members of the honorable senator’s party, such as Mr. Thomas, Senator McGregor, and quite a number of the members of the Senate. However, I want to deal to-day with practical politics as represented in the Bill before the Senate. I say again that I am particularly pleased with the attitude of my honorable friends opposite in so far as they are prepared to give even a sort of reserved blessing to this measure. To expenditure of loan money in one direction they take strong objection, apparently. That exception is confined to expenditure in one direction only, namely, that for defence purposes. Senator Pearce has referred to the allegations of extravagance against the Labour Government, and he says that we have condoned and honored that extravagance by repeating it in our Budget. One explanation of what we have done is that we were bound to honour the commitments to which the previous Government compelled us. If we take the schedule to the Bill before us, we shall find in it one of the commitments of the previous Government. I refer to the resumption of the Liverpool manoeuvre area. The members of the previous Government published a notification in the Gazette which compels the resumption of the area, but we have to find the money to pay for the land.
– Would the” present Government not have resumed that land?
– Yes, unquestionably they would. The determination with regard to the area was arrived at in the first instance by the Deakin-Cook Liberal Administration, but apparently it took three years on the part of the Labour Government to carry the matter to the point- at which the Commonwealth was committed to the resumption, and they left us to find the money to pay for it.
– They left the present Government the money also.
– I mention this as one of many instances of commitments by the last Government for which we have to find the money.
– Does the honorable senator speak of the cost of resuming the Liverpool manoeuvre area as an item of extravagance 1
– I say that it is a commitment for which the present Government have to find the money.
– It is not one of the things which the honorable senator condemns 1
– I am not now condemning anything. I am defending the Government’s Bill. I want to say to Senator Pearce, and to any other honorable senator who asks why our Estimates are as large as they are to-day, that the fact is due in a great measure to commitments by the Labour Government during their three years of office, for which we are now compelled to find the money.
– But does the honorable senator approve of the commitments 1!
– What is more, I approve of the fact that the obligation is upon the present Government to find the money to carry out those commitments. When our honorable friends opposite, during the three years of their administration, entered into a number of obligations, they have no right to cavil at Estimates which include amounts to meet, not the obligations of the present Government, but the obligations left to them by the last Government. They forget that they left us a number of unpaid bills. They had all the honour and glory of making these propositions, but they left to the present Governmest the responsibility of paying for them.
– And the money to pay for them also.
– I was asked whether I approved of the resumption of the Liverpool manoeuvre area, and I said that I do, but let me now refer honorable senators to another item connected with the Defence Department which I strongly dissent from, but which to-day, against my wish, loads up the Estimates of the present Government. I refer to the inflation of the strength of our Per manent Forces far beyond anything recommended by Lord Kitchener in his report. Speaking from memory, I should say that our Permanent Forces exceed by 100 per cent, the recommendation of Lord Kitchener in that regard.
– The honorable senator is absolutely incorrect. Lord Kitchener recommended that the Permanent Artillery- should be brought up to two reliefs, and it is not up to two reliefs yet.
– Lord Kitchener recommended the establishment of Citizen Forces. Rightly or wrongly, my idea of his recommendation is that we should make the most of our Citizen Forces, and reduce the number of our permanent soldiers to a minimum. I have not the report by me, but I say that that is the central idea of it - that we should keep our Permanent Forces at a minimum, and spend all the money available upon the development of our Citizen Forces.
– Will the honorable senator deny that Lord Kitchener recommended two reliefs of Permanent Artillery?
– I affirm that the number of permanent soldiers employed by the Commonwealth to-day is in excess of anything recommended by Lord Kitchener.
– That is incorrect.
– I accept the interjection as expressing a difference of opinion as to what is contained in Lord Kitchener’s report.
– When the two- “ War Lords “ dispute, who is to decide?
– I should be prepared to leave the decision even to Senator de Largie. I do not wish to raise the question as to whether the policy of my predecessor was right or wrong. I mention the matter as showing that the previous Government, having adopted that policy, it is impossible for the present Government to depart from it. The permanently employedsoldiers are there, and it is not possible to dispense with them unless we throw them out of the Public Service with or without compensation. That is one of the obligations which have been left to the present Government.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable senator reducingthe establishment if he wishes to do so.
– I ask Senator Pearce what is likely to be said of those who propose that men who have been permanently employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, whether in a civil or in a military capacity-
– If the honorable senator thinks it right to turn them out, he should have the courage to do so.
– I admit that, theoretically, we may have the power to discharge men from the service, but we all know that when men are appointed to permanent situations in a civil or military capacity many factors have to be considered when there is any talk of dispensing with their services.
– On many occasions incoming Governments have discharged officers whose services they did not consider necessary.
– I remind Senator O’Keefe that in connexion with some appointments at Garden Island and Cockatoo Island, it was alleged that because men had been placed upon the permanent staff they should be kept there for all time. I say that the same argument applies with regard to the employment of our permanent soldiers. The matter is one upon which there is ample room for differences of opinion, and I am only contending that, while we should keep our permanent soldiers at an absolute bedrock minimum, there has been an increase of their number to something more than 100 per cent, over and above the recommendation of Lord Kitchener.
– The honorable senator is counting in the Instructional Staff.
– No; I regard the staff necessary for the instruction of our Citizen Forces as a part of the Citizen Forces.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the Permanent Field Artillery or the Permanent Garrison Artillery?
– I refer to many appointments of permanent soldiers that were not recommended in Lord Kitchener’s scheme. Unless my memory f ails me, Lord Kitchener contemplated the employment of something over 900 permanent soldiers, and we have to-day about double that number of permanent soldiers in the employment of the Commonwealth. It may be that Senator Pearce believes that, in order to make our defence system effective, we should have more permanent batteries of field artillery than Lord Kitchener contemplated.
– He never contemplated any at all.
– There is my contention proved. The honorable senator went beyond Lord Kitchener’s recommendation.
– He never made any recommendation on that head.
– Senator Pearce, as Minister of Defence, made provision for certain batteries of artillery which Lord Kitchener did not recommend. I go to the Department, and I find them there, and a pay-roll to meet. What am I to do with them ?
– The honorable senator should do away with them if he does not believe in them.
– Give me time, and I will.
– Oh ! The time is not ripe.
-I do not say that, but I ask Senator Findley whether he is prepared now to sanction a proposition for the discharge of all these men?
– I am not Minister of Defence. If I were, I should do away with them if I did not think them necessary.
– The honorable senator is not Minister of Defence; but he is an excellent imitation of a crayfish when he takes up that attitude. These men are permanently employed, and I repeat that, when men are permanently employed in a civil or in a military capacity under the Commonwealth, it is not an easy matter, nor is it fair or equitable, to discharge them at a moment’s notice.
– I do not think it would be safe or justifiable.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say that. Senator Pearce’s suggestion that a new Government coming into office should discharge, at a moment’s notice, men who have been given permanent employment in connexion with the establishment of some institution by their predecessors, does not appeal to me.
– If I did not believe in them, I should get rid of them at three months’ notice.
– I again appeal to the knowledge which honorable senators have of the difficulty of discharging men permanently employed in the Public Service. I pass from that to what I take to be the principal objection of honorable senators opposite to item No. 5 of the schedule to this Bill. A great deal of stress is laid on the statement that there ought to be no borrowing for defence, but I remind honorable senators that there are different forms of defence expenditure. I should be disposed to admit at once that there is no justification for borrowing money to be fired away in shot or shell. There may be strong exception taken to the borrowing of money to be spent on war inventions, or, it may even be, a warship, or other means of defence, the value of which gradually disappears. But I remind my honorable friends that the biggest portion of the amount of £300,000 included in the schedule of this Bill for the purchase of land for defence purposes is required for the acquisition of the Liverpool manoeuvre area. That is not to be fired away, and its value will be as great next year as it is this year. In these circumstances, I ask why the year 1913 should bear the whole cost of the Liverpool manoeuvre area, seeing that the benefits to follow from its acquisition will be spread over next year and all the years to follow? Why should the taxpayers of this year pay for acquiring the Liverpool manoeuvre area, which they will leave for the use of the taxpayers of all the years to follow? There is a practical way of testing this proposition. Supposing we do not acquire it, we could use it under the powers conferred by the Defence Act, and make compensation every year to the holders of land within the area. I think the amount involved in the purchase of. the area is £120,000, and we may have to pay interest at 4 per cent, on the money borrowed for the purchase. If this item is rejected, and we use the area, we shall each year be faced with claims by the land-holders within it for compensation for damage to their property resulting from the manoeuvring of our troops. If that course were followed, I venture to say that the cost would represent, not 4 per cent., but 6, 7, 8, or 10 per cent, on the cost of the resumption of the area. As a business proposition,- which is the better - that we should acquire this land at 3^ or 4 per cent., or pay each year for the use of the area, and compensation to all those who have freehold titles to the land contained within it?
– Why not pay for the land out of revenue?
– I have already dealt with that in asking why the year 1913 should be called upon to bear the whole cost of the resumption of the area, the benefits of which will not be confined to 1913, but will be enjoyed in all the years to follow ?
– Would not that line of reasoning apply to all defence expenditure 1
– No. There is a great difference in the purchase of shot and shell, which are fired away in practice. There is a difference even in the acquisition of a warship, which may become obsolete, or by accident may sink to the bottom of the sea, or may be blown up, but land, if purchased, is there tomorrow, the day after, and for all time.
– The future population will probably have to purchase additional lots of land for the same purpose.
– That is quite possible. When we ask the Senate to spread over a number of years the purchase price of the Liverpool manoeuvre area, we put forward an entirely business proposition. What is the alternative if the Senate refuses to assent to our proposal ? It is that we shall possibly have to put down every year £6,000 or £7,000 for compensation to owners whose lands we use for military operations. Because, if we do not acquire the area, we shall still carry out our military manoeuvres there.
– Can you not secure the area in any other way than by borrowing ?
– Yes, but we want to borrow the money, because, in our opinion, it is monstrously unfair to charge 1913 with the acquisition of an area of land which will not evaporate, and the benefit of which is to spread over sixteen or seventeen years. When you are buying a property, the benefit of which will continue for all time, it is not unfair to spread the cost of acquisition over a reasonable number of years.
– It is always a fair thing to pass the obligation on to the other fellow !
– It would be monstrously unfair to say that we should today equip the whole of the Defence Force with everything it needs, and leave to posterity a free gift. It is not as though we were in a position, and prepared to buy this land. We are not. The alternative I put to honorable senators is whether they will pay £4,000 a year by way of interest on the cost price, or pay £6,000 or £7,000. a year in compensation 1
– That is only a supposition. You have not worked out the actual cost of compensation.
– It would be very much more. I do not hesitate to say, speaking from my experience in the Department, that when by the trespass of the troops we do £100 worth of damage, we pay £150 for it. That cannot be avoided. I have looked into some of these claims, and here I think that I might almost appeal to the experience of Senator Pearce. We cannot analyze these claims too closely, and it seems to me that whilst we know that the claims are inflated, there is no possible means, short of a lawsuit, by which we can avoid paying more than the claims ought to represent. The Government always get the worst of the matter. Is it nOt better to sanction a Bill of this kind, involving an annua] expenditure of £4,000 for interest on the capital cost, than by a rigid adherence to a doctrinaire principle, to incur an annual expenditure of £6,000 or £7,000 ? Let me turn to the sites for drill halls covered by the Bill. The same line of reasoning presents itself. It is competent for the Defence Department to-morrow, instead of acquiring it3 own sites and building its own halls, to rent halls. If Parliament refuses to sanction a loan policy for the acquisition of sites to enable us to get on with this very necessary work, I shall not have the slightest hesitation in proceeding at once to rent drill halls. Supposing that that course has to be pursued, we may have to pay 5 or 6 per cent, on the value of the sites on which those rented halls would stand, whereas we can to-day borrow the money and secure our own sites for 4 per cent.
– We can always borrow. That is a good old policy.
– My honorable friend, so great is his financial capacity, would sooner rent halls at 6 per cent, on the capital invested, than borrow money at 4 per cent, to buy them.
– We did not borrow any money for defence purposes until your party came into office.
– I have a certain sense of regard for my honorable friends opposite, and I shrink from referring to things which they did do. As a business proposition, there is absolutely no argument against it.
– Is that the only way in which you can put it?
– That is the proper business way to present the matter to the Senate. It is the way in which I would present it if I were forming a public company, or were the director of one. It is the way in which I would act in small transactions individually. We have two alternatives : one is to charge each year with an amount for interest and sinking fund, and the other is to charge each year with an amount for rent. As a business proposition it is more economical for the Government, and will effect a substantial saving, to purchase these lands right out, and to pay interest on the money borrowed for that purpose, rather than to rent the halls from private individuals. Senator Pearce gave a quotation from a statesman whose reputation will appeal to us all, but he will, I think, admit that the quotation had reference to a state of affairs which is not contemplated by this Bill. Mr. Gladstone was then urging that the cost of a war should be borne out of the revenues of the current year.
– No. In Morley’ s Life of Gladstone, from which the quotation was taken, you will find that, although Mr. Gladstone spoke of war expenditure, he really meant what we call defence expenditure; that is, army expenditure is war expenditure.
– I took down one phrase from the quotation - “ the expense of war.” The firing away of shot and shell, and all that tremendous waste which is inseparable from war, is one thing, and the acquisition of permanent properties, the value of which does not cease with war, is quite another. I ask my honorable friends to discriminate between thi» purpose of. this Bill which authorizes the acquisition of land and a defence expenditure on shot and shell, and ephemeral purposes which expire the moment you spend the money.
– The war affairs of Great Britain were never more mishandled than they were by Mr. Gladstone.
– My honorable friend is quite right. My own knowledge enables me to confirm the interjection, disorderly though it may be. I want honorable senators opposite to forget, if they will, or to get outside of those doctrinaire ideas which apparently shape their phrases, and, to some extent, warp their judgment. They have raised this cry that there ought to be no defence expenditure out of loan account. This afternoon I am not going to argue how far that might be sound or not as applicable to what I call the ephemeral, evaporating expenses of defence. But I do ask honorable senators to consider the very strong difference between the acquisition of land, which will be a tangible asset, and valuable each year as long as Australia is a free and independent country, and the purchase of ammunition and the payment of wages.
– What is your attitude in respect to the Post Office site in Perth ?
– That site enables me to point the finger of absolute scorn at my honorable friends opposite, who, having alleged time and again that they were opposed to a borrowing policy, proceeded to borrow money for the purchase of buildings which they were going to pull down with other borrowed money.
– A reproductive work.
– I do ;not know anything more absurd than for my honorable friends to call it a reproductive work when they bought a set of rookeries with borrowed money, and then, with borrowed money, proposed to pull them down, throw them on the lumber heap, and put up fresh buildings.
– That is only half the story.
– What interest is it paying now?
– Let me remind honorable senators that one of the most immediately profitable investments in any city in the world is to purchase a lot of old buildings. Because they are old, and the period within which they must be pulled down is in the immediate future, they do return a big profit, but when the buildings are pulled down then any return ceases.
– If you knew anything about the matter at all, you would know that the buildings have not to be pulled down in the immediate future, or for years to come.
– I know that before my honorable friend left office there was in the Home Affairs Department a proposal to pull all the buildings down, and erect buildings in place of them. There was an area purchased in Perth for something under £200,000. It was giving a return which at that time represented a fair interest on the amount involved, but my honorable friends forget to say what will be the position when we do pull down the buildings and spend £150,000 in erecting new buildings.
– They are not going to be pulled down.
– I ask honorable senators opposite to take a reasonable view, and to draw a distinction between expenditure incurred under the Defence Department which evaporates and other expenditure for which there is a tangible asset. I submit that the item of £300,000 is for the acquisition of land, and as long as Australia is a nation, and bound to honour its national dignity, the asset will be there. If untoward circumstances arose which resulted in the destruction of Australia as an independent Government, that asset, I admit, would go, but so also would the liability. Is it more advantageous for us to pay 4 per cent, interest upon money for the acquisition of this land, or to pay a much higher rate in the form of rent or compensation to those who” own it to-day? I am rather surprised to find that my honorable friends opposite take no objection to the expenditure of £175,000 upon Cockatoo Island, but are, apparently, prepared to turn with all their force and ferocity on our proposal to appropriate money for the acquisition of land.
– There is no analogy between the two things. Cockatoo Island may be regarded as a transferred property.
– Cockatoo Island was taken over for purposes of defence, and if it be wrong to purchase land out of loan funds, it is still more iniquitous to pay £175,000 out of loan money for the acquisition of machinery to build warships.
– That machinery can be used to repair commercial vessels.
– It is not likely to be used for that purpose. Already it has come home to the Department, and to myself, that whatever may have been the amount of work done upon commercial vessels at Cockatoo Island when it was a State concern, that work is not likely to be done there now that it is a Commonwealth ‘concern. In the first place, New South Wales is starting its own establishment for the purpose of doing its own work.
– A lot of work will require to be done in connexion with the different Departments.
– The amount of work required to be done for other Departments is infinitesimal as compared with that done for the Defence Department.
– I venture to say that sufficient work requires to be done for the other Departments to keep the dockyard fully employed.
– Already we have reports that, owing to the falling off of work, it will be necessary to discharge men.
– That is because a lot of the work is being done by contract.
– Any work which is being carried out by contract to-day is being so carried out under the authority of the honorable senator himself. I repeat that the commercial work that formerely went to Cockatoo Island Dock is not likely to go there now, seeing that New South Wales has started her own yards in competition with Cockatoo Island.
– The time may come when we shall have commercial vessels of our own.
– When that time arrives, we shall deal with the circumstances which then prevail. I am dealing with the circumstances of to-day. Senator Pearce has to deal with the position of Cockatoo Island as it stands today. The Government propose to borrow £175,000 to complete the machinery at that dockyard. The principal purpose of that dockyard during the next few years must be in connexion with the Defence Department Senator McGregor finds no fault with a proposal to borrow £175,000 for the purchase of machinery to build warships, but takes the strongest exception to a proposal to borrow £300,000 for the purchase of land for defence purposes. What will be the fate of the machinery on the island? It is inevitable that it will wear out. On the other hand, the land will never wear out, and it is therefore a better asset. Secondly, for what is the machinery to be utilized ? Not for reproductive purposes, but to build ships which may be sunk when the very first shot is fired. On the other hand the land will remain, and will become an increasingly valuable asset so long as Australia continues to be the mistress of her own destiny.
– We would not have borrowed that £175,000. But the present Government are helpless. They cannot get the money anywhere.
– I apologize to honorable senators opposite for these rather frivolous interjections on the part of their leader. My honorable friends are not troubled that the present Government cannot borrow money - their trouble is that we can, and’ will, borrow it. If they believe that we cannot borrow it, there is no reason why they should not pass this Bill. But they know that we can borrow it, and there is no reason why we should not borrow for the works proposed. I ask my honorable friends to put on one side the theory which they have set up, and to ask themselves how they can possibly reconcile their support of a proposition to borrow £175,000 to fit up in a naval dockyard machinery with which to build warships which may go to the bottom of the sea the moment they are launched, with their objection to a proposal to borrow money for the acquisition of land which will not only continue as a tangible asset, but the value of which will increase as the years roll by. There is no individual in Australia who will not say at once that it is a sounder business proposition to acquire land by paying 4 per cent interest upon its capital cost than it is to pay a much larger rate each year either by way of rent or compensation for the use of the same land. Therefore, I do ask honorable senators opposite, while standing by their professed principles in the matter of borrowing for defence, to recognise that all that we propose is to borrow money to acquire land which is essential to our Defence Forces, the benefit of which will continue year after year, and the cost of which ought not therefore to fall upon any single year.
.- It is with some diffidence that I rise, after the series of excuses for this Bill that have been urged by the Minister of Defence, to add my humble quota to this debate. At the outset of my remarks, I wish to say that, in my judgment, there was never a time in the history of Australia when her legislators required to scrutinise more closely than they do now every borrowing proposal that is brought forward. If we look at the figures relating . to the national indebtedness of the Commonwealth we shall there find sufficient to make every sensible man pause. The Minister of Defence reproached us with having a set of what he called doctrinaire principles.
– Did I charge honorable senators opposite with having any principles ?
– The Minister did.
– Then I apologize.
– Unlike honorable senators opposite, the Labour party has principles to which its members adhere. The Minister argued over and over again that the £300,000 to which objection has been taken is not to be spent upon warships that might prove a vanishing quantity. Yet this is the very party which only three years ago proposed that our Australian warships should be built out of borrowed money. The Minister has instituted a comparison between the purchase of land for manoeuvre areas and the purchase of warships in favour of the former. The obvious inference is that the purchase of warships which become obsolete and useless is unsound. Yet his party had no hesitation in passing an Act to construct an Australian Navy with borrowed funds.
He belongs to the party which accuses us of having doctrinaire principles. Let us look at the policy of the Labour party, because, after all, that party must not be judged by the utterances of several of its individual members, but by its published policy and platform. The Australian Labour party stands for the restriction of public borrowing. We are committed to that. Although there may be members of our party who maintain that borrowing should be almost dis continued, as a body we are pledged only to the restriction of public borrowing. We have also always maintained a logical attitude in that respect by refusing to countenance the spending of loan money for defence purposes.
To my mind, it is better to impose taxation in order to pay for many works out of revenue, than it is to impose taxation with which to pay interest on borrowed money. Briefly, that is the position which we take up. I have been asked by many persons how we would obtain money with which to carry out public works if we restricted public borrowing. My reply is based on Australia’s national indebtedness. That indebtedness at the end of June of the present year amounted to £301,903,435.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - How much of it has been spent on reproductive works ?
– Not as much as should have been. Upon that indebtedness we are paying about £11,000,000 annually in interest. The amount of interest paid on our public indebtedness up to the 30th June of the present year is approximately £285,000,000. In other words, we have practically paid our national debt in interest, and yet we still owe it. That is the high finance for which honorable senators opposite are responsible. It is so high that it almost smells. The various Legislatures of the States have had to tax the people of Australia to the tune of £285,000,000 with which to pay interest. Would it not have been better, in connexion with many of these works, if the people had been taxed directly to pay for the undertakings as they proceeded, and if we had refused to borrow a certain proportion of that amount ?
– If we had built a mile of road a year instead of 100 miles?
– No. I am referring to the type of finance for which the honorable senator’s colleagues, are responsible in Tasmania, which has an indebtedness of £11,000,000, of which £4,000,000 has been expended in unproductive works. In that State, jetties, schools, and roads have been built out of borrowed money.
– And we have the best road system in Australia.
– It is only the Commonwealth grant and Tattersalls which keep Tasmania going.
– That is a system of finance of which my honorable friend is doubtless proud. We say that that £4,000,000, which was borrowed for unproductive works in Tasmania, should never have been borrowed at all. We should have paid for the works honestly out of revenue. Had there been in power in Tasmania years ago a Labour Administration with its policy of the restriction of public borrowing, we should not to-day have been in our present position.
– Tasmania borrowed to buy blank cartridges.
– That is so. I saw, a little while ago, a school building in Tasmania which originally cost £400 of loan money, and upon which nearly £600 has been paid in interest, leaving the principal still owing. That is the kind of finance of which Senator Bakhap is proud, and for which his party is responsible. The best proof of the unsatisfactory condition of the finances of some of the States is to be found in the facts, which I have ascertained from Mr. Knibbs, regarding our national debt and its interest-earning capacity. I find that only £180,000,000 of the loan expenditure is on railways and tramways in Australia, and is strictly interest earning. Most of the State Governments have wisely recognised that roads should be built out of revenue. But in Tasmania it has been otherwise.
– In some of the States they have practically no roads. Motor cars are stuck up in the mud 20 miles from Sydney.
– It is better to have motor cars stuck in the mud than for the State to be stuck in the mud, as Tasmania is.
– The system of finance that has been carried on in Tasmania is that for which the honorable senator’s party has been responsible; and it has only been the action of the Labour party that has led to a better system being introduced than we had in the past.
For the last financial year, the yield of the £180,000,000 of interestearning loan works was about £3 13s. 3d. per cent, on capital cost. That is a justifiable expenditure of loan money. But the great bulk of the public debt has been piled up on works that should have been honestly paid for when constructed. It is to see that the more honest system of finance is brought into being that the Labour party has put in the forefront of its political platform the restriction of public borrowing.
There is another matter upon which a good deal of light needs to be shed. I refer to the heavy cost of floating loans. Prior to the advent of the Fisher Government, loans were floated in London. Since then the methods adopted by the Fisher Government have been copied by the other side, and money has been borrowed from the Trust Funds. That is to say, we introduced a system which our friends opposite have copied, just as they have followed at the tail of many of the reforms introduced by the Labour party. When one looks into the cost of floating loans, one finds that it may be fairly stated that about 4 per cent, is absorbed in obtaining the money under par, in the cost of flotation, in brokerage, and commission. Say that a State borrows £1,000,000. As has been pointed out by several Labour speakers and writers, the State receives only about £960,000, the remaining £40,000 being absorbed in commission and so forth. It has been estimated by one of our financiers that of our national debt of £300,000,000, over £75,000,000 has been swallowed up in brokerage and commission, to say nothing of the interest paid. That is to say, the people have paid £75,000,000 from which they have derived no advantage whatever. We say that this system is not a good one. We hope that before long the Commonwealth Bank will enable us to obviate it altogether. The bank will be able to take charge of the flotation of our loans, and will consequently save us the great cost involved in brokerage and commission charges.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I suppose the bank is to make a profit on its work ?
– That is so, but the profit that it makes will go to the Australian people, whereas formerly it went to the money lender. We have only to consider the history of the Australian States since Federation to find that the expenditure of loan money has been on a lavish scale. In the past, it was considered easier for any Government to go on to the loan market than to adopt an honest financial course.
– Easy come and easy
– That was the primary principle of many of our past Administrations.
Another question that arises in connexion with public borrowing is this : A great deal of our interest is paid in the shape of commodities of various kinds. Anybody who has studied the subject knows that we generally pay our interest in the form of commodities. Matters are balanced at London at a Clearing House. It has been pointed out by Labour writers that very often the money lenders in London, who have lent Australia various sums of money, and who underwrite our loans, are able to control the market for commodities in London. They not only control our loans, and absorb the cost of flotation, but frequently, through their, high financial standing, are able to control the prices of the commodities which we send Home to pay our interest. The question is, whether, if they control these prices, it does not take a great deal more of the commodities which we send to pay our interest bill than would otherwise be the case. There is a great deal to be learnt in that regard.
I was mentioning just now that there is cause for a considerable amount of care and scrutiny in respect to the financial policy to be pursued in Australia. I do not believe that we should at this stage borrow extensively for any purpose. Perhaps I am a Conservative in this respect, but I have become so from looking into the loan expenditure of the various States of Australia. I find from an examination of an excellent publication issued by Mr. Knibbs, that in 1903 the loan expenditure in Australia was £8,862,000. In 1904 it dropped to £4,633,000. We then had a population of, speaking broadly, 4,000,000. In 1912 the expenditure of loan money had jumped up to no less than £16,325,000.
– Does that include the loan raised by the late Government ?
– I am dealing with the loans of the States.
– In what years?
– - I have just been comparing 1903-4 with 1912.
– Does that include the loan expenditure of the Holman Government ?
– It includes the loan expenditure of the whole of the State Governments. Mr. Holman’s Government has spent loan money on directly reproductive works. I find that the loan expenditure has doubled in about nine years. Whereas our loan expenditure has increased 100 per cent., our population has increased only about 20 per cent. I think it will be seen that we have been pursuing a policy that will require us to regard very carefully in years to come our financial position. We shall have to look into our loan expenditure as compared with our population. I find that in 1903 we borrowed at the rate of £2 5s. 8d. per head; in 1904, £1 3s. 3d. ; but in 1912 we jumped up to £3 lis. 6d. per head. That is a very serious increase. When we consider these figures, we must admit that we shall have to watch very carefully the commitments that we undertake in the matter of ‘oan expenditure.
– It is the lender who requires to watch ; not ourselves-. We are all right.
– The lender seems to be watching very closely of recent years, with the consequence that there is an increasing difficulty in floating loans in London. I wish to direct attention to the public debts of the several States of the Commonwealth as outstanding on the 30th June, 1912. These figures will give the Senate some idea of the commitments we have to meet and of the re-flotations that will be necessary in the ensuing few years. In 1913 we have £13,563,000 of loan money to meet; in 1915 we have £16,714,000 to meet.
– That is not the. Commonwealth ?
– I am dealing with the loan expenditure of the various State Governments. In 1916 our commitments are £5,550,000; in 1917, £5,895,000; in 1918, £14,883,000; in 1919, £15,663,000; in 1923, £11,650,000; in 1924, £31,682,000. Those are the reflotations that we have to face. That being the case, I think that we ought to adopt the very greatest care in dealing with any loan proposal that is brought before Parliament.
More especially is that so when it is proposed to spend loan money on defence. In spite of what Senator
Millen said regarding defence expenditure, we know that, with the exception of Germany, most of the States of Europe finance their defence expenditure out of revenue, and refuse to borrow for that purpose. Germany is the one exception. Great Britain has steadily refused to borrow for defence purposes. There must be some good reason for the policy adopted there, because I think it will be admitted that the members of this Parliament have a very great deal to learn from Great Britain in the matter of finance.
– If we taxed them as much here as they are taxed at Home, there would be a different story to tell.
– One good thing which may be said of Tasmania is that in that State the rich are taxed upon unearned incomes as highly as they are in Great Britain. We have there a tax on unearned incomes of over ls. in the £1.
– It is as high as ls. 4d. in the £1, and was imposed by the Liberals, who, we are told, are afraid to tax the rich man.
– That was the course followed in Tasmania owing very largely to the efforts of the Labour party in that State.
– It was the Liberal Government that introduced the Bill imposing the tax of ls. 4d. in the £1.
– I should go further, and, speaking personally, I would tax the capitalist a good deal more. I remind honorable senators that LloydGeorge is proposing to tax unearned incomes in England at about the same rate as we do in Tasmania, but I do not consider that he has yet gone as far as he might go in the taxation of the wealthy. Though he claims to be a Liberal, he would probably be repudiated by our honorable friends opposite, and in one of his speeches he made a statement which will probably shock the susceptibilities of Senator Gould. He said that if it came to a question of England having to go to war. he would not only take ls. 4d. in the £1 of unearned incomes, but would take it all. That is, he would take all the unearned incomes for war purposes.
Speaking personally, and not for my party, I say that when it comes to a question of providing for national defence, we should not hesitate to tax the rich. I had some returns made out, and checked by a Victorian actuary, showing the private wealth of Australia, and the figures surprised me. I find that the private wealth of Australia amounts to about £1,000,000,000. I find that 8,500 persons own £810,000,000 of this sum, leaving £190,000,000 for the rest of the community.
– The 8,500 will not be happy until they get that also.
– 1 agree with the honorable senator. The figures I have given were prepared by one of the best actuaries in the office of the Victorian Statistician. They show that four-fifths of the people have to be content with £190,000,000 of the national wealth, whilst one-fifth of the people divide £810,000,000 between them. In view of these figures, it cannot be claimed that we are not justified in further taxing the rich. Under the system of Customs and Excise taxation in the Commonwealth, we collect a revenue of about £15,000,000 a year, but it is estimated that the fourfifths of the people who possess so little of the national wealth, contribute about £12,000,000 of this taxation. While these conditions obtain we should have no hesitation in still further taxing the rich, and I should be very pleased, with the assistance, I have no doubt, of Senator Stewart, to vote for a proposal by a Labour Government or a Liberal Government to still further increase the Federal land tax, and place further burdens on the shoulders broad enough to bear them.
– I understand that the honorable senator is in favour of a Federal income tax?
– I speak in this matter for myself, and not for the party to which I belong, and I say that rather than adopt the system proposed in this Bill, I should be prepared to vote for an increase of the land tax, and, secondly, for the imposition of a tax on unearned incomes, but not on earned incomes, with an exemption of, say, £1,000 a year. The people might be greatly benefited by the adoption of a sounder system of finance than that which our honorable friends opposite have put forward. If we borrow money for the purchase of land for defence purposes, we admit the pernicious principle of borrowing for defence. If we may buy land for defence purposes with borrowed money, there is no reason why we should not build post-offices and Customs houses out of borrowed money also.
– That would be even more legitimate.
– As I am reminded by Senator McGregor, “.that would be even more legitimate.
– Why borrow money for railways ? Why not pay for them out of current revenue ?
– I have before stated that railways are interest-earning public works, and, as a party, honorable senators on this side have not objected to the borrowing of money for interest-earning works. They object to the high finance, so called, of our honorable friends opposite in borrowing money for works that do not pay even 1 per cent.
– Does not a working man borrow money for the purchase of a house, the payment of which is spread over a number of years?
– The honorable senator forgets that a working man has not the privilege of levying taxation which is enjoyed by the Government of a country. If we had a Labour Government in office we should not have a Bill before us proposing to borrow money for defence.
I am very pleased that the Leader of the party on this side and other honorable senators are prepared to vote solidly against any such proposition. I believe that if the Fisher Government had remained in office they would have provided for the construction of the conduits for the Post and Telegraph Department out of revenue. The system of constructing such works out of borrowed money is new in Commonwealth politics. It is satisfactory to know that, owing to the example set by the Fisher Government, we shall not under this Bill have to pay flotation expenses on the proposed loan. We shall be borrowing the money from ourselves and paying the interest to ourselves. The 5 per cent, provided for a sinking fund will also be paid to ourselves. Owing to the example set by the Fisher Government, which the present Government have not hesitated to follow, a 5 per cent, sinking fund will gradually wipe off the proposed loan, and the people of the Commonwealth will not be at the loss of a penny for brokerage expenses. The system of borrowing by the Commonwealth is yet i,n its infancy, and I quite admit that we may find it necessary from time to time to reconsider our opinions of a borrowing policy for
Australia. I do ,not wish to be dogmatic on the point, but I think that Senator O’Keefe was right when he said that for the development of Australia we may some day have to decide to construct more interest-earning works out of borrowed money. But that does not commit us at any time to construct works for defence purposes out of borrowed money.
– Is not the transcontinental railway to be constructed for defence purposes?
– It is to be constructed for other purposes as well.
– Does the honorable senator contend that it will pay interest on the cost of construction from the start ?
– The honorable senator has not the same confidence in the future of Australia that I have. I believe that eventually the railway referred to will be interest-earning. It may not pay interest on the cost of its construction at the outset, but I believe that we shall not have to wait a great many years before that railway will be carrying freight and passengers over its vast length to such an extent as to meet the interest on the cost of its construction.
– The honorable sena. tor does not take the same view of railways in Tasmania.
– The honorable senator is deliberately twisting the views to which I have given expression on that subject. I do not object to the expenditure of borrowed money on railways in Tasmania that will pay interest, or the greater part of the interest, on their construction. I do object to borrowing for public works that will not pay a penny of interest. The honorable senator is as well aware as I am that Tasmania occupies an invidious position amongst the States of the Commonwealth, inasmuch as it is the only State in which the revenue from public works does not pay interest on the cost of their construction.
– The interest yield is improving every year.
– That is so, and it is due to the ascendency of the Labour party, and to the check which they impose upon unwise borrowing. We have a most fertile island, with the greatest resources, the finest land, the finest crops and minerals to be found in any State, in the Commonwealth. But, in spite of these advantages, the revenue derived from the expenditure of borrowed money in Tasmania does .not meet the interest which has to be paid. That is not the case in any other State in the Commonwealth, even including the vast territory of Western Australia, where public works constructed with borrowed money return a revenue sufficient to pay the interest on the cost of their construction.
As a party, honorable senators on this side are opposed to Liberal finance. Fortunately for Australia, we have here a party that is prepared, on every occasion, to protest against the foolish system of finance proposed by honorable senators opposite, which must, if continued, eventually land Australia in a position from which it will be difficult for us to recover.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.58].- Senator Ready has given us an interesting disquisition about the loans floated in Australia, but it will not serve us greatly in coming to a conclusion as to whether this Loan Bill should be passed and consent be given to the proposal to borrow £300,000 for some purposes of defence, which seems to be so objectionable to honorable senators on the other side. The honorable senator has given us one or two excellent reasons in support of the measure now under consideration. He has pointed out that provision has been made for a sinking fund in connexion with all our loans, so that they may not be hung up for payment indefinitely, but can be met when they become due. We have such a provision on our statute-book, under which a certain amount must be kept apart year by year for the redemption of loans for whatever purpose they may have been raised.
– That is not a reason why we should borrow for every purpose.
– Whilst we have such a provision on our statute-book, we are assured that, when we borrow, the taxpayers in years to come must pay their proportion of the debt incurred. In a country like Australia, with a sparse population and an immense amount of developmental work to do, it must be clear that it is quite impossible for us to forge ahead as we should like to do if we do not adopt the system of borrowing for the construction of public works. If the general revenue had been relied upon, where would have been the development of Australia which has taken place during the last fifty or sixty years ? Instead of having thousands of miles of railways throughout the country, we would not have had more than scores. Statistics show that the railways have been paying more than the interest on the borrowed money. It must always be borne in mind, too, that Australia does a great deal of work which is done by private enterprise in other countries. Private companies borrow money to carry out great works. Take, for instance, the great Dominion of Canada, which possesses an enormous mileage of railways. How much of that mileage was constructed by the Government? Private enterprise constructed the railways. Where did it get the money for the purpose? It did what the Governments in Australia have done. It went to the money lender, and said, “ We want to borrow money to construct certain railways. We can show you that the lines if made will pay. We have a certain amount of our own money to put into the venture, and you can fairly and reasonably lend us the rest.” By that means, the Dominion was opened up, and its resources developed. In Australia, however, the policy has been for the Governments to take charge of railway construction. They, too, have resorted to the money lender, but the money they spent in railway construction is shown as portion of the public debt. I venture to say that if we could get particulars of the moneys borrowed in Australia it would be found that the bulk of the amount was expended on reproductive works, and that its expenditure has been a good investment in the interests of Australia as a whole. Senator Ready has said that we are going to borrow money from ourselves, and pay it back to ourselves. In other words, he has pointed out that we have certain Trust Funds. We say that, instead of holding those funds idle, or lending them to other Governments, or to institutions, we will utilize the money. We intend to issue debentures, or Treasury-bills, which will represent so much money taken out of the Trust Funds, in order to carry on particular works.
– A principle introduced for the first time by a Labour Government.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - The late Government took up that position in regard to several of their loans. I do not know that there is any great virtue in saying, “ Instead of allowing these Trust moneys to lie idle, or to go to other people, we will utilize them,” because that principle was laid down by State Governments ,many years before a Labour Government came into power in the Commonwealth. We have had a great outcry in regard to the financial position in New South Wales. It has been pointed out that out of £8,000,000 of Trust moneys the State Government have taken about £7,000,000 to carry on the business of the country. Certain portions of that sum, I admit, can be taken legitimately - that is, where the money is taken in anticipation of a loan which it is not found suitable at the moment to float ; but that money has to be paid back eventually. Where the danger lies in regard to Trust Funds is where something like £2,000,000 is taken out to pay current expenses in order to hold up, or, if possible, to hide a deficit which I have no doubt exists. . We always have to look to the circumstances of the case. Take, for instance, the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River. We know that it would be impossible to construct those railways at anything like a rapid rate if we had to rely entirely upon the ordinary revenue.
– We can do it with any other works.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Now that the country is committed to the construction of those railways, the duty of the Government is to construct them with all expedition, and not to have the projects dangling before the people for years. It is quite justifiable to borrow the money for the purpose, more particularly as a sinking fund is provided for. It should be borne in mind that a time will come when we shall not have Trust Funds to resort to. A time will come when we shall have to go into the money markets of the world to float a loan in order to develop the country more quickly than it could otherwise be developed. As regards the construction of public works with ordinary revenue, we should be guided by the principles which would govern reasonable men if carrying out any work for themselves. I do not suppose that there is a man who has done well by the exercise of his business ability who has not been compelled at times to borrow. Many men have borrowed money, and by that means have been enabled, not only to repay the loan within a reasonable period, but to add materially to their income.
– That is, if they put the money into a reproductive business.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Of course; and that is where the wisdom of the borrower plays a most important part. We all admit that railways will eventually become reproductive works. Various opinions are entertained as to the time which will expire before the transcontinental railway can be justified from a financial point of view.
– No one objects to the construction of that line. Why talk about itf
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - My honorable friends opposite are fighting the proposal of the present Government to borrow £300,000 topurchase land for defence purposes because, in their opinion, it should be paid for out of current revenue. Does not the honorable senator realize that if the land is not purchased it will be required in the interests of the defence of the country, and that, if used, the Government would have to pay rent or compensation? That would be a justifiable expenditure, and should properly come out of the current revenue. But when it comes to a question of buying land, the honorable senator seems to me to steer an entirely different course. It is proposed by the Government to buy the land for £300,000, and, instead of paying a rental at the rate of 4, or 5, or 6 per cent, on the land value, to pay interest on the purchase money, plus a certain amount into a sinking fund, which will ultimately redeem the purchase money. The land, so far as we can judge, is to be used permanently as a place for training the military.
– Can you not buy the land out of the current- revenue ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - We could pay the annual rental from that source. Of course, if we do rent the land, we should pay the rent out of the current revenue; but, instead of pursuing that course, it is proposed to pay £300,000 for the land. If we save the rent and at the same time. pay off a certain amount of the capital cost we shall do the very thing which I believe most honorable senators advocate, and that is pay for defence out of current revenue. It is proposed to form a sinking fund, and in that way to gradually pay off. the purchase money. The proposal of the Government, if adopted, will not unduly oppress the people. If, however, the money has to be found out of current revenue, it will be accessary to introduce heavy taxation, or to proceed much more slowly than we ought to do. The land, if purchased in the way proposed, will not disappear, but will remain for all time. If, in the future, it is found not suitable for military purposes, it will be there to sell.
– But it will not be producing anything.
– Nothing in the way of defence is producing anything. Our great warship, the Australia, for instance, is not producing anything in pounds, shillings, and pence, but she is an insurance in the event of any trouble arising. In the same way, the land on which we put ou.r troops is a portion of a scheme of insurance by means of which we will protect our interests in the future.
– How much will it earn so long as it is used for training purposes ?
– It will earn the equivalent of what we would have had to pay for the use of it had it remained in the possession of private individuals.
– It is like a man borrowing £1 to pay his insurance premium.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. He insures his life, and pays so many pounds a year, in order that at a particular time he may have a larger sum at his disposal. He is contributing to a fund which, by means of interest aud compound interest, amounts to the face value of his policy. Here it is proposed that the Commonwealth should contribute to a fund a certain amount annually for a period, in order to purchase land for the use of our troops, and with the assurance that after the lapse of a certain number of years it will have secured a certain sum with which to repay the loan. It is really on all fours with the ordinary principles of life insurance, of which every honorable senator takes advantage, so far as his means permit.
– If I recollect your speeches, you were going to return the money to the hanks instead of advocating the spending of it.
– I would remind the honorable senator that when a man is speaking on one subject he cannot deal with a dozen. I think that the whole opposition of my friends opposite is aimed at the item of £300,000. I understand that they are willing to vote for every other item in the schedule.
– I am very glad that the Government are in a minority in this Chamber. I am very thankful, too, that our Standing Orders differ from those of another place. In the other branch of the Legislature the Bill which is now before us was not regarded as a measure of major importance. Looking at the official record of the debate which took place there, I find that less than six hours were occupied-
– Order ! The honorable senator must not discuss that matter.
– Then I will say that, according to reports current at the time, less than six hours were occupied in discussing this Bill. I am disposed to believe that if the Government had a majority in this Chamber, and if our Standing Orders were similar to those of another place, free speech would be stifled, and the people of Australia would be committed to an expenditure of £3,000,000 without any honorable senator being allowed to say a stogie word in opposition to it.
– Can the honorable senator justify that statement?
– I can, by what has occurred in another place. I say that if we occupied from now till Christmas in discussing this measure, our action would be justified in the eyes of every fairminded member of the community. The Honorary Minister, in introducing this Bill, was tactful, courteous, and informative. I am very sorry that other Ministers do not follow his example. I do not approve of everything that the Honorary Minister says or does. But in the matter of introducing Bills his example is worthy of emulation by at least one member of the Cabinet, who is a sort of cat-and-mouse member of it. We all know that in the Old Country some of the militant suffragettes are spoken of as being “ in and out.” They are brought before the powers that be, and those powers at times inflict punishment upon them. The . offenders are frequently imprisoned for short periods. As a result, the Home Government were obliged to bring forward a measure which the suffragettes have christened the “ CatandMouse Bill.” In the same way, we have a cat-and-mouse member of the Cabinet. He is “in and out.” Now that he is out of the chamber he is possibly doing mischief in some part of the metropolitan area not dissimilar to that which he does whenever he has a -night out. Whenever he has a night out he lets himself loose. Some of his statements, which are published in the daily press from time to time, would not reflect credit upon any person.
– I hope that the honorable senator will connect his remarks with the Loan Bill.
– I propose to do so. Only a few years ago there was in Queensland a gentleman named Tozer. He occupied a very prominent position in the public life of that State, and he made so many misstatements regarding its finances generally that the public began to appraise his allegations at their true value. Consequently, when any man made a misstatement people used to say, ‘* That is a Tozer.” Senator McColl, I may say, is out-tozering Tozer. More than once he has made statements in respect of matters which are of public interest which he has had to withdraw in this chamber, and for which he has had to apologize through the columns of Hansard. I do not know his rank in the Cabinet - whether it is that of a junior Minister, or whether it is that of a semisenior one; but he is certainly about the oldest member of the Ministry, and when a man is on the road to three score years and ten one would expect him to have cut his wisdom teeth. At Heidelberg the other evening the Vice-President of the Executive Council said -
- In the Commonwealth the Labour Ministry had been in control for three years. Its career also was marked by reckless expenditure and by wanton extravagence.
That statement has been made many times by different members of the present Government, but when they have been challenged to point to one case of extravagance they have been unable to do so. When a man occupying a responsible position makes a statement of that kind, he ought to have the manliness to prove it on the floor of this chamber. However, I pass by that remark, because it is of a general character and somewhat ambiguous. Senator McColl continued -
No Ministry ever assumed office under brighter prospects. A few months after Mr. Fisher came into office the Braddon clause expired, and his Ministry had an extra £3,500,000 to expend. That amount soon went, and so did the £61,254,170 which represents the revenue for the last three years. During the preceding three years, when the Liberals were in office, the revenue was only £44,910,000. Whilst Mr. Fisher was in office the cost of government increased by 33i per cent., or 11s. 3d. per head of the population.
Now, I propose to deal with these statements categorically. In the first place, it is not correct to say that the Fisher Government spent £61,254,170. It is not correct to say, not only that we spent that amount, but that we spent £3,500,000 in addition. What are the facts? During the three years that the Fisher Government were in power, it is true that the total revenue from all sources amounted to £61,254,170; but the VicePresident of the Executive Council made his hearers believe that the Fisher Government had not only expended that amount, but had also mopped up an additional £3,500,000. You, sir, know that upon the expiration of the Braddon section of our Constitution, the Commonwealth became entitled to a greater share of the Customs revenue than it had been originally. I repeat that the total revenue of the Commonwealth during the three years that the Fisher Government were in office amounted to £61,254,170. Of that amount £17,045,777 was returned to the States. In addition, the Fisher Government left behind a surplus of £2,600,000, besides £300,000 in the Notes Fund, or a total of nearly £3,000,000. That amount, added to the £17,000,000 returned to the States, makes a total of £20,000,000, which, deducted from £61,000,000, means that the Fisher Government expended during their term of office £41,000,000, and not £61,000,000 as alleged by Senator McColl. The VicePresident of the Executive Council also said -
Whilst Mr. Fisher was in office the cost of government increased 33^ per cent., or us. 3d. per head of the population.
If it be true that the late Ministry increased the cost of government by 33J per cent., the present Government will, on its present basis of expenditure, increase the taxation of the community by not less than 48 per cent. When Mr. Cook talks of increased taxation, I would remind him that his Government, during the present financial year, propose to expend over £4,000,000. That amount, based upon the census returns, represents an increase of 16s. 4d. per head, or, in the case of a family of five, additional taxation to the extent of £4 ls. 8d. per annum. I unhesitatingly affirm that all the expenditure incurred by the Fisher Government was expenditure which could be justified before any fair-minded audience in Australia. I know that Senator Clemons is no enthusiast in regard to the land tax. That is shown by the speech which he delivered in moving the second reading of this Bill.
– I think it represents very unfair taxation.
– I believe that, if’ he had the power, the Honorary Minister would repeal the land tax. The other members of the Cabinet would do so if they had the courage. Senator Clemons has the courage, but not the power - his colleagues have the power, but lack the courage.
– Have they the power ?
– They have the power to introduce a Bill to repeal the land tax, to force it through another place, and to transmit it to the Senate. They have the power to do what they say they intend to do in respect of two Bills of minor importance, namely, to force an appeal to the people. Will they make the appeal ? If they do, that will be the end of them. Senator Clemons asked whether there is any man holding land in a rabbit-infested area who would not think himself perfectly justified in borrowing money to put up a rabbit-proof fence. He urged that although the analogy might seem a homely one, if a man would not hesitate to protect his property from rabbits, when danger arose, Australia was justified in borrowing for defence purposes. I take it that Senator Clemons is opposed to the Federal land tax as a means for raising revenue for the defence of
Australia, and he would, if he had the power, borrow all the money that is needed for that purpose, or, it may be, shift the incidence of taxation in a different direction. There is no analogy between a man erecting a rabbitproof fence for the defence of his proparty and a nation making provision for the lives and property of its people. What a single individual might be disposed to do, Senator Clemons would surely not argue that a nation would always be justified in doing.
– I think there are many things that are wise for an individual, that would be foolish for a nation.
– This Bill contains an amount of £300,000 for the purchase of land for defence purposes on the Liverpool plains. If that can be justified, any item of expenditure for the defence of Australia could be justified on the same grounds.
- Senator Millen said that this land was in a different category from other expenditure for defence purposes.
– Yes. The land stays, but other things might be fired away in a moment.
– We have fan? tories of various descriptions in different parts of Australia providing material for defence purposes. We have a factory at Lithgow to manufacture small-arms; in South Melbourne, we have a factory turning out uniforms for the citizen soldiery; at Geelong, we have a mill, which will be completed within a year’s rime, for the manufacture of the raw material from which uniforms are made; at Clifton Hill, we have a saddlery and harness factory; at Maribyrnong, we have a cordite factory. Did the Fisher Government borrow money for any of those purposes? No; it found the money out of revenue. It did not borrow a single penny. When members of the Labour party denounced what had been done by a former Administration in passing the Bill for the borrowing of £3,500,000’ for the defence of Australia, the people directed us to repeal that Act. One of the main factors in the success of the Labour party in 1910 was that the people of this country were determined that all the money needed for the defence. of Australia should be raised by direct taxation, and come out of revenue. This item of £300,000 is not a very large one; but if the Government is to be allowed to borrow this money for the purpose stated, and if allowed to remain in office for any length of time, we can rest assured that this will >e only the beginning of a big borrowing policy. The members of this Government are born borrowers. Borrowing seems to *be characteristic of so-called Liberal Governments. The only way by which they can see that the country can be developed is by rushing into the money market. It seems highly inconsistent that the Government should charge the late Ministry with extravagance when, on the introduction of one of the biggest Budgets we ever had since the Commonwealth was established, not content with the surplus they found in the Treasury, they want to go immediately into the money market and float a loan of £3,000,000. What is this rooney required for? Senator -Clemons said that he had a list showing the borrowings of the Fisher Government, and the purposes for which the loans were floated. So have I. But there is a big difference between what the Fisher Government did and what this Government propose to do.
– In principle, but not in amount.
– From what source did the Fisher Government borrow ? It borrowed from funds directly under the control of the Treasury. How did they create those funds? Not with the assistance of the party now in power. That party was in violent opposition to the proposals of the Fisher Government, which enabled us, later on, to get the money we required quickly and on advantageous terms. We borrowed for reproductive purposes. We borrowed -£1,000,000 for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. Apart from strategic purposes, I am hopeful that the completion of that big work will open up country which, later on, will be found to be capable of producing cereals, providing work for a number of people, and establishing a population in parts of the country where now we have none. I trust that, in future years, it will become a payable, reproductive work. In any case, no true Australian would raise difficulties in the way of the construction of that line. We can never be essentially Australians whilst the East and the West remain unlinked. I say, too, that the construction of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River can also be justified. I am extremely anxious that, before many years have passed, we shall link up the whole of that Territory. I am anxious, too, that the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia shall be carried out in its entirety, and that a railway line shall run from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. Of course, it will mean the expenditure of a huge sum of money. But, unless that line be built, the Northern Territory will remain a white elephant. It is all very well to tell us that a number of people who have gone up to that lone, sunny region, within the last three or four years, have been disappointed, and that many of them have returned to other parts of Australia. But the difficulty is ‘that to-day they are without means of communication. No matter how fertile the land may be, or what the prospects are with respect to cultivation in the Northern Territory, until we get some means of communication there, either by the iron-horse or good roads, the Territory will remain incapable of occupation and development.
– It will never be ‘developed until the railway runs through from Oodnadatta.
– I hope to see that line constructed. In regard to land in the Federal Territory, there was an item of £600,000 in the Loan Bill of the Fisher Government for its acquisition. That amount can be justified on any platform. It was a binding agreement that all the land in the Federal Territory should be the property of the people of the Commonwealth for all time. None of the Crown lands could be alienated, but there were a few private owners of land. We passed an Act stipulating that, when their lauds were resumed, the price to be paid should be according to the value in 1910. We were extremely anxious that some finality should be arrived at in respect to these Possessions. The Fisher Government, in order to arrive at finality, and in order that the people of the Commonwealth might own the whole of the land in the Federal area, embodied the sum of £600,000 in the Loan. Bill of 1911.
– Assuming that it was desirable to buy the land, why a loan for the purpose ?
– I think I know what is running through the honorable senator’s mind. No doubt, he is disposed to reason in this way : If the Fisher Government borrowed £600,000 for the resumption of privately-owned land in the Federal area, what objection can there be to the present Government floating a loan including an item of £300,000 for defence purposes? The answer is that the land in the Federal area will increase in value every year.
– So, probably, will the other land.
– There is no analogy between the purchase of land for defence purposes and the purchase of lands in the Federal Territory for national purposes. To-day the lands in the Federal Territory are valuable, and next year and the year after they will be still more valuable. When the Federal Parliament assembles at Canberra the value of land within the Federal Territory will increase by leaps and bounds. We have decided that the lands in the Federal Territory shall never be alienated, but shall belong to the people for all time, and it would be absurd, in the circumstances, to say that the Government should not take advantage of the earliest opportunity to resume the freeholds within that Territory, even though it should be necessary to borrow money for the purpose.
– Why borrow for the purpose?
– Because it will be an interest-earning investment.
– Look at the next item for the purchase of land for the erection of the Commonwealth buildings in London.
– That will be reproductive also. Land in London increases in value every hour.
– So it does in Australia.
– Not to the same extent, and not in the same ratio, because the population of London is so much greater. The Fisher Government proposed to borrow for a reproductive purpose, but no one, by any stretch of imagination, can describe land secured for defence purposes as a reproductive work.
– Yes, they can.
– I do not think so. It is quite possible that the purchase of land for defence purposes may depreciate its value, and the value of property adjacent to it. Personally, I should not care to have property adjacent to a military barracks or training area.
– Or fort.
– Or cordite factory.
– Yes, or a fort or a cordite factory. We know very well what military camps are. I believe that the land proposed to be resumed by money borrowed under this Bill is where they had a bit of a picnic the other day. It was on the Liverpool manoeuvre area that sentries had to be reinforced, special aid had to be summoned, an army of police called upon, and sentries had to stand on a bridge with fixed bayonets to prevent an outbreak. In my opinion, that kind of thing is not likely to enhance the value of land, and the lands adjacent to the Liverpool manoeuvre area are likely to be depreciated in value as the result of the acquisition of that area for training operations.
– A good deal of the money will be. required for land for drillhalls.
– That is for defence purposes, and not for reproductive works.
– Land for drillhalls is in the same category as land for a building in London.
– No, it is not.
– The only difference is that one purchase is for military, and the other for civil, purposes.
– That is a big difference. The Fisher Government, in 1912, made provision for the purchase of land for a General Post Office at Perth out of borrowed money, and Senator Millen has said that if we could justify that the purchase of land for defence purposes from loan is equally justifiable. Let me repeat, that there is no analogy between the two propositions. The land purchased by the Fisher Government for postal purposes in Western Australia is to-day returning about 5 per cent, interest. The money with which it was purchased was borrowed at 3i per cent., and after providing for a sinking fund of per cent., that property, in addition to paying interest on the money borrowed for its purchase, and providing for the sinking fund, returns a revenue of 1 per cent, to the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator knows that was not put forward as a land speculation. The Labour Government proposed to pull the buildings down.
– They did not propose to do so immediately, because they were revenue-producing. We knew that land was required at Perth for postal purposes, and it was good business, in the interest of Western Australia and the Commonwealth, to look ahead and secure the land then under offer to the Government. It was a splendid investment for the Commonwealth. The whole of the land was not then required for a post-office, and will not all be required in the immediate future. The buildings on the land are not by any means dilapidated, and will remain revenueproducing until the whole of the land is required for postal purposes. The land on which they are erected will, when it is required for Commonwealth purposes, be worth many thousand pounds more than it is worth to-day.
– Even if the original proposal had been carried out, there would still be revenue-producing premises surrounding the post-office.
– Even if the buildings at present on the land had been pulled down and new buildings erected, it would have been a splendid investment. When Sir John Forrest submitted his Budget, he stated that the total indebtedness of the Commonwealth, including the proposed loan, was £22,000,000. That, however, is only half the story, and I am surprised that the Treasurer, who usually takes very great pains in the preparation of his Budget, did not make the true position clear to the people of Australia. He should have amplified his statement so that the readers of Hansard and the people of the Commonwealth generally might understand that £10,500,000 of the amount represents constitutional obligations in respect of the transferred properties. The same people have to meet these obligations, whether they be considered as people of the States or of the Commonwealth. We have to-day upon our shoulders an obligation of £10,500,000 which previously had to be borne by the citizens of the different States. That obligation has been incurred by the Commonwealth under the terms of the Federal Constitution. I want to say, in regard to the transferred properties, that, prior to the advent of the Fisher Government, no previous Commonwealth Administration had been anxious to recognise the constitutional obligations of the Commonwealth in respect of those properties. Not a single penny of interest on the transferred properties had ever been paid to the States. When we were in office we paid a considerable sum in this way to the States. For the first time since the Commonwealth was established, the Fisher Government paid the States, by way of interest on the transferred properties, £1,009,042.
– That was very easy for the Fisher Government, because the Braddon section had expired, and they had far more revenue than any previous Government.
– I am surprised that Senator Clemons should repeat that statement. It is perfectly true that the Fisher Government had more money than any previous Government, but they had no more than any other Government would have had if they were in the same position. The Premiers’ Conference in 1910 came to a decision in favour of a. per capita payment to the States of £1 5s. at the close of the operation of the Braddon section.
– The point is that the Government of which the honorable senator was a member were in power when the ten-year period from the establishment of Federation expired. If any other Government happened to be in power at the same time, they would, of course, have been in the same advantageous position.
– The present Government are in a better position to-day than the Fisher Government were when they came into office, because the latter were faced with a deficit of £450,000 left to them by the previous Fusion Government. After wiping out that deficit, the Fisher Government paid out of revenue for all works and services incidental to the development of the Commonwealth. Some of that revenue was derived from the imposition of the Federal land tax. I am glad that Senator McColl is now present, and I repeat again, because it cannot be too often repeated, that the Fisher Government, after doing all this, left behind no less a sum than £3,000,000 for the present Government to play with, notwithstanding the honorable senator’s statement at Heidelberg that they spent every penny that came into their hands. Though it may be regarded as tedious repetition, I should like to ask Senator McColl if he has been correctly reported in the Argus of Tuesday last as having stated at a meeting at Heidelberg that the Fisher Government had spent the whole of the revenue- £61,000,000. That, in addition to that, they had mopped up £3,500,000 as the result of the expiration of the Braddon provision, and that they had increased the expenditure per head of the Commonwealth by 33 J per cent. 1
– I was quite correctly reported with regard to the figures referred to.
– Then I say the statements made were outrageous. When a responsible Minister of the Crown makes a statement, he should be quite sure that it is correct.
– The figures were carefully checked.
– If he does not take that precaution, and if he makes statements knowing them to be incorrect, he ought to be ashamed of himself. I want to say that the statements to which I have referred are absolutely incorrect. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not know it, I shall repeat, with your permission, sir, some figures which I quoted during his absence to show how utterly misleading are the statements to which I refer, and other statements made from time to time by the honorable senator. He is either intentionally desiring to deceive the people, or he is playing a game which he thinks will be to the advantage of himself and his party. I can assure him that some of his statements cannot be substantiated. He has made statements before at public gatherings which he has had to withdraw.
– The honorable senator has had to withdraw statements^
– What were they?
– And to apologize to members of the Chamber.
– Never once.
– It all depends upon what the honorable senator means by “ never.” He must have a short memory, indeed, if he says that he has never withdrawn statements that he mad* at Fitzroy not long ago.
– One statement.
– That is one statement which he had to withdraw.
– I did not withdraw the other statements.
– The honorable? senator will have to withdraw them before he leaves this sphere, I am sure.
– Order ! That haenothing to do with the measure before the Senate.
– I do not want tomake the honorable senator withdraw any statement if he does not desire to do so. I will leave it to his manliness to taka the right course, and if he has no manliness I will leave him alone.
– You are not a judge- in regard to that.
– I am a judge its regard to this matter, and I will provethat the honorable senator is absolutely wrong in regard to the statements contained in this article. It is not correct, that the Fisher Government went through £61,000,000, and £3,500,000 in addition.
– That is hardly thestatement I made.
– I asked the honorable senator if he was correctly reported, and with your permission, sir, I will read his statement, because it has a. bearing on the Loan Bill. He said -
In the Commonwealth a Labour Ministry had been in control for three years Its career wasmarked by reckless expenditure and by wanton, extravagance.
– I do not know that. I used those expressions.
– Will the honorable senator deny that he used thosewords?
– I do not know thatI did.
– I take it that the honorable senator’s memory fails him asto whether he did or did not. He alsosaid -
A few months after Mr. Fisher came intooffice the Braddon clause expired, and his Ministry had an extra £3,500,000 to expend. Thar amount soon went, and so did the ^61,254, 170,- which represented the revenue for the last threeyears.
Is the honorable senator correctly reported in respect to these statements?
– No. It is a little mixed up.
– Did the honorable senator say that the Fisher Government went through £61,000,000?
– I think so.
– Apparently, the honorable senator goes on to a platform and does not know what he says’ there. In order that it may please his auditors, and evidently with a desire to placate certain individuals in the community, he will say anything, and when he is taxed with it he has a convenient memory, like the man in the witness-box who, not wishing to say yes or no, says, 4’ I do not remember.” He does remember saying that the Fisher Government went through £61,000,000. But they did not do anything of the kind.
– Did they not?
– The honorable senator is aware that the Commonwealth was not entitled to the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. He is also aware that the receipts from all sources during the régime of the Fisher Government totalled, in round figures, £61,000,000. During that period £17^00,000 was handed back to the States. In addition to that, we left a surplus of £3,000,000. Deducting £20,000,000 from £61,000,000, we get a difference of £41,000,000, by which sum the honorable senator was out.
– You are a splendid* arithmetician.
– In Gilbert’s Utopia Limited one of the characters is made to say, and this, sir, has application to the Vice-President of the Executive Council -
He is a great arithmetician who can demonstrate with ease
That two and two are three, or five, or anything you please.
That is exactly the attitude of the honorable senator to the statements he made at Heidelberg. I repeat that the statements are not correct, and that the honorable senator, to do justice to the position he fills in the Cabinet, should, as soon as the statements were reported in the newspapers, have taken an early opportunity to put the true facts before its readers and before the community at ‘ large. But when he goes out of his way to make statements which he must know to be absolutely incorrect, he ought to be really ashamed of himself.
– They are absolutely untrue.
– They are not untrue.
– They were untrue.
– It is perfectly true that during the three years of the Fisher Government the taxation per head increased, but if the present Government are allowed to remain in office or in power for three years, there will be no limitation to the amount of money which they will probably borrow. They intend, let me repeat, to increase the expenditure per head by 16s. 4d. during the next financial year, and that, multiplied by five - which the Prime Minister says may be taken as the average of a family - makes the increased expenditure for every family in Australia £4 ls. 8d. per head. And, taking that increased expenditure on a three-years’ basis, the present Government will increase the taxation per inhabitant by 48 per cent. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council is still present, it is my intention to deal briefly with the financial position during the three years that the Fisher Government were in office. In 1910-11 the total expenditure per head was £4 5s. lid.. of which defence cost 18s. 9d. In 1911-12 the total expenditure per head from revenue was £4 9s. 11½d., of which defence cost £1 2s. 8£d. During the year there was an increase of 4s. 9d. per head in the total expenditure, of which no less than 3s. ll£d. per head was involved in defence. In addition, there was an increased expenditure in connexion with the Post Office of 2s. 10£d. per head. Those two Departments alone accounted for more than the total increase. There had, of course, been savings in other directions. There was no extravagance, therefore, in that year, in my opinion. But if there was extravagance, why do not Senator McColl and his colleagues, and members of his party, give specific instances of the extravagance which they charged against the Fisher Administration? General statements made from time to time on different platforms are, of course, made for party purposes. But one would really think that men occupying responsible positions in the Government of the Commonwealth would have the manliness and the courage to give specific instances of alleged extravagance on the part of the late Administration. No, sir, they are too cute altogether to commit themselves to definite statements. So long as they generalize - so long as their statements are ambiguous - they are satisfied if they are not challenged in the Senate and other places to substantiate the charges they make. Let me deal with the figures for the next year. In 1911-12 the total expenditure from revenue, of which defence cost £1 2s. 8d., was £4 9s. 11½d. per head. In 1912-13 the total expenditure from revenue, of which defence cost £1 0s. 10¼d., was £4 12s. 6£d. Comparing 1912-13 with 1911-12, there was an increase of 2s. 7d. per head in the total expenditure, of which the maternity allowance cost ls. 9d., which was additional expenditure. I well remember a statement that was alleged to have been made by Senator McColl at a meeting.
– Is that in this Loan Bill? Is not this discussion a little wide?
– I am dealing in a general way with the statements which have been made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, charging the late Administration with being guilty of wanton and reckless extravagance. I am endeavouring to show, and I will link my remarks up with the Bill, that we were not in any way reckless or wanton in regard to our expenditure ; that, if the same economy were exercised by the present Government in the expenditure for the present year, some items in the Loan Bill would not be necessary, and I think I am in order in doing that. If the President thinks otherwise, of course he can pull me up. Anyhow, the Vice-President of the Executive Council charged the Fisher Government with introducing the maternity allowance.
– Order! The honorable senator is now wandering away from the question of the Loan Bill.
– Will I not be’ in order, sir, in referring to it?
– The honorable senator must know that he has had very considerable latitude.
– I recognise that, sir; but, whilst I did not desire to intentionally digress from the Bill, I felt that, in a general way, I was justified in replying to some of the statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, because indirectly, and, in my opinion, directly, they had an application to the Bill. However, I do not propose to take up much more time. I have had the opportunity of saying what I wished to say regarding Senator McColl. I offer my objection, not to the Bill as a whole, but to some of the items. When a Government which came into office with a surplus of £3,000,000 comes forward with a proposal to float a loan for defence purposes in times of prosperity, it is the duty of the Opposition to do all that it can to frustrate its efforts.
– It is the duty of the Opposition to subject the Bill to fair criticism, which the Government would not permit in another place.
– Undoubtedly. The flotation of a loan of £3,000,000 is a very important matter indeed. It i3 one which concerns every citizen of Australia. When, some three years ago, a Loan Bill was introduced into this Parliament, the Government which was responsible for its introduction experienced a nasty fall. The present Ministry will not receive any encouragement from me to go on borrowing. It is characteristic of Governments opposed to the Labour party that, when they are faced with the necessity for carrying out national works, they rush headlong to the money market, irrespective of the consequences. They are satisfied to let posterity pay the piper. The present Government are nothing more than political pedlers. They believe in the time-payment principle. They propose to borrow money with which to pay for conduits. 1 cannot understand them seriously bringing forward a proposal of that kind. Ere long we shall find them borrowing money to purchase a few weatherboards for the purpose of erecting a telephone exchange. It is only by borrowing that the Fusion party think the Commonwealth can be financed. In the past we have had Governments in power in Victoria with whom it was a’ case of borrow, boom, and burst. They experienced a good time while the money was being spent, but the inevitable reaction came. T am satisfied that the people of Australia are opposed to the borrowing of money for purposes of defence. Up to the present time we have been able to meet our expenditure upon defence without borrowing, and we ought not now to depart from that sound principle, If we do so in times of prosperity, we shall be asked to borrow much more in times of adversity. Although I do not object to some of the items in this Bill, there are others for the deletion of which I shall vote in Committee.
– I am pleased that the Government are allowing us to devote a great more consideration to this important Bill than they permitted ‘ to be devoted to it elsewhere. I recognise that loan propositions have never been received in this Parliament with any great degree of favour. This is the third memorable measure of the kind which has been brought forward. The first was submitted in 1901, when the first Commonwealth Treasurer - Sir George Turner - endeavoured to raise the wind in a way that did not meet with the approval of Parliament. Reviewing what has since occurred, it will be admitted that the members of that Parliament who opposed the Bill which he introduced adopted a very wise attitude. Before the Labour party became a force in politics in Australia, borrowing seemed to be a favorite pastime with many Treasurers. Indeed, they appeared .to regard it as the most natural thing in the world. As a result, Australia was fast drifting into a position similar to that occupied by the South American Republics. and if the Labour party had not appeared upon the scene, repudiation would have followed sooner or later. Our party has, therefore, acted as a wholesome element in the financial administration of the’ Commonwealth. In the past, much of the money which has been raised by way of loan has been spent foolishly, and it was not until the first Federal Parliament met that the Labour party were able to put an end to foolish spending, as well as foolish borrowing. When Sir George Turner submitted his proposal to borrow £1,000,000 to that Parliament, the Labour party acted very wisely indeed. They took up a very determined attitude, and affirmed that anything in the nature of a borrowing policy under the then existing conditions was ridiculous. At that time we were unable to spend all the money that we were entitled to spend, namely, one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, during that year and for five succeeding years we continued to return to the States £1,000,000 annually by way of surplus revenue. In these circumstances, a proposal to borrow was an exceedingly foolish one. However, it was brought forward by a gentleman who is frequently referred to as the beau ideal of a financier - one who had the reputation of being able to sit tightly on the Treasury chest.
– I suppose that he wanted to borrow something to- sit on.
– He had plenty to sit on. At that time, the Commonwealth had more money than it could spend. Sir George Turner’s proposal was turned down, to the benefit of Australia. Of course, we were severely lectured for our action by those superior persons who know so much more about finance than we do. We were told frequently that we knew nothing of finance, that banking was an unknown science to us, and that it was an impertinence on our part to take up an original attitude upon a question of this kind. Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that on every occasion it has been the Labour party which has taken a bold stand in regard to matters of finance. I grant that many of our actions have been of an experimental character. The people who are afraid to experiment are seldom able to accomplish anything. I come now to the time when the Braddon section of the Constitution expired. We are all aware that what was known as the “ Braddon blot “ was a subject which agitated this Parliamentfor quite a number of years. Schemeafter scheme, dealing with the financialrelations of the States to the Commonwealth, was presented by various authorities, either in this or in another place. When I cast my mind back to the public men who propounded these schemes, I recall the names of Sir George Turner, the late Sir William Lyne, Sir John Forrest, Mr. King O’ Malley, the late Mr. Knox, and Mr. Harper. Every one of these gentlemen claimed to have a brand new scheme of his own, and one which would solve the whole of the difficulties surrounding the position of the Commonwealth. Strange to say, these various schemes, as soon as they were brought before Parliament in the form of memoranda, were found to be quite unsuited to our requirements. The whole of them were turned down. But at last, after a wearisome experience, the Labour party undertook the task of solving the problem. We were not at that time in power, and were not called upon to take the responsibility ; but we were not afraid to face the music. In the year 1908 the Labour Conference at Brisbane considered the problem. I am stating what is beyond dispute when I say that the scheme brought up by the working men and women assembled at Brisbane met with almost universal acceptance. It was accepted by the various States - so much so that at the Hobart Conference, held a few months later, when the Premiers met to consider the financial question, they were so delighted with the scheme brought up by the Labour Conference that they agreed to it without altering a word. There was not a single Labour representative at the Hobart . Conference, but, nevertheless, the Premiers and Treasurers were thoroughly satisfied with the scheme that we launched. Indeed, that was the first time we had anything like unanimity in the acceptance of a big financial proposition. I look back with some gratification to this instance. It is gratifying to me, as a Labour member, to know that we were so eminently satisfactory in our solution of a great problem which had hitherto created doubt and difficulty in the minds of others. I am convinced that the financial problem at present before us would be eventually solved in an equally satisfactory manner if the Government would follow our lead. It is a safe course to pursue when we urge that we should not borrow for defence. It has been shown to be unsound finance to do so, not only in Australia, but elsewhere. I am convinced that the taxpayers will not submit to having the borrowing policy of the Government thrust down their throats. They have turned it down in the past, and will do so again. If the Government want a test question to submit to the electors, there is not one which we should so gladly accept as this. We have heard a great deal about a double dissolution. I fail to understand why, because certain constitutional steps are required to be taken before anything in the nature of a double dissolution is possible. As those steps have not been taken, I cannot understand the references that have been made from time to time to the subject.
But if the Government are anxious to have a double dissolution, I feel quite sure that I am voicing the opinion of my party in saying that there is no question upon which we should more gladly face one than the measure now before us. In order that we may find out how much fight there is in the Government in their loudly-voiced desire for a double dissolution, we on this side will give them an opportunity by striking out of the Loan Bill the proposals with regard to defence. We shall then be prepared to go to the country on an issue which can be submitted to the electors in a clear and de-. finite manner. I am so satisfied as to what the result would be that I venture to prophesy that, instead of the Labour party having only twenty-nine members in the Senate, whilst the Government have seven, after the election there would not be one of the Ministerial seven left to tell the tale. I wish now to touch upon a matter that has recently cropped up in regard to defence expenditure. I should have thought that those who are raising Cain” over it at the present time would have waited a few years until the public mind forgot the. action which they took comparatively recently. We are aware that Australia is committed to a very large naval expenditure. That has been inevitable for quite a number of years. I can remember the time when we used to discuss the Naval Agreement. The subject was hotly contested. In course of time, the Naval Agreement was dropped.
– It was not the amount that was disputed, but the principle.
– Even the amount was disputed by some, though I agree with Senator Pearce that the major part of the dispute was on the principle.
– We all agreed to the principle of establishing an Australian Navy at that time.
– Not all, but a large number did. I am happy to be in the position of one who was not in favour of an Australian Navy. My utterances at that time, which I will read, will prove that I was rather far-seeing in comparison with some others who were hasty about rushing in. I think I can claim to have been pretty active and prominent in regard to the question of compulsory training in the initial stages of that movement. I believed that it was only by training a citizen soldiery that we, iti our isolated position, could possibly proceed along safe lines. I was satisfied from the first that there was no real logical reason against compulsory training. There was some talk about conscription, which was treated as a matter of old-time superstition, but there was no real reason behind the fears expressed ; and as soon as the electors of Australia understood the matter thoroughly, I had no doubt that a compulsory training scheme would be adopted, and would appeal to the common sense of our people. I am pleased to say that that has proved to be so. Of course, there are some on the other side. It would be a dull and drab community if there were not a few cranks. But the common sense of the overwhelming mass of the people of Australia undoubtedly favours the system that has been adopted. I was, however, steadily opposed to the proposals to establish an Australian Navy, not because I was blind to the advantages of having a Navy, for I saw that they would be considerable, but because I doubted whether we should be able to meet the financial strain that the upkeep of a Navy would place upon us in the course of time. I submitted that view to the Senate as far back as the year 1908, at the time when it was proposed to launch out “ on our own “ in this regard. Speaking on the Coast Defence Appropriation Bill on the 5th June, 1908, I pointed out that, although the Bill did not propose to appropriate a very large sum, it was the beginning of a new policy, and involved the acceptance of a new principle, which would lead to much larger expenditure later. Consequently I took the opportunity of pointing out that we were beginning a policy that we should see later in its true proportions. In the light of subsequent events, I am inclined to think that I spoke with foresight. I said, as reported in *Hansard, page 12111 -
I think that the money we can afford to expend for the defence of Australia can be put to a better use than the building up of a Navy. It should be devoted to the strengthening of our land forces.
I went on to say -
In my opinion, all the money which can be voted by the taxpayers for defence purposes will be required for our land forces.
Further on I said -
It must not be forgotten that the establishment of ‘a Navy is a most expensive means of defence.
Further I said -
Nothing would please me better than to establish an Australian Navy if we had sufficient money for the purpose, and if it could not be better spent in some other way. It is because I believe that, for a very long time, we should not have at our disposal sufficient funds for the establishment of a Navy that I very reluctantly assist on this occasion in the initiation of what I believe will be a source of very great expenditure in the future.
On page 12112 I am reported to have said -
The fact that this will lead us into enormous expenditure in the future should be a warning to honorable senators against the initiation of such a policy. Every one, I think, is prepared to admit that it is possible to arm the whole of the manhood of Australia. That has not vet been done, and until it is done it is, in tuy opinion, a foolish policy to initiate expenditure which must be increased to an extent which we cannot at present foresee.
It will be admitted that my prophecy has come true. One of the great morning newspapers of Melbourne, the Age, recognises that this is so.
– Is the Age a great morning newspaper ?
– When it is regarded in bulk, it is entitled to that description. I am afraid, however, that the greatness of the poor old Age cannot be said to exist in any other sense. Like the political party it used to represent, it is, to a great extent, a disappearing influence. The Age has recently taken up a new attitude in connexion with this matter. It was at first in favour of an Australian Navy, but it is beginning to be alarmed at the enormous expense entailed upon the Commonwealth. This is a difficulty which it might very well have foreseen. It is very unwise to advocate the adoption of a proposal without having some idea as to what it will lead to. But the Age blindly advocated the establishment of an Australian Navy, and described those who were inclined to be cautious in the matter as “little Australians.” It even suggested that they were not as patriotic as they might be. It doubted their loyalty. It is strange, in the circumstances, that the Age is one of the newspapers that encourages this country into expenditure for the establishment of an Australian Navy. The ex>travagance at first suggested would have been much greater and less justifiable than the extravagance of the Labour party in this regard. Our opponents were so generous in the matter that they were not only prepared to provide a Navy for ourselves, but to provide Dreadnoughts for other people, who were much better able to bear the cost than we were. The establishment of an Australia a Navy was forced upon the Labour party, because they had to decide between making a present of a Dreadnought to Great Britain and establishing a Navy of our own. Now the people who forced that position upon us are crying out against the enormous expense entailed by a Navy. This should have been foreseen by any person who gave the matter serious consideration, and knew anything of the experience of young countries such as the South American Republics, in the purchase of large battleships, which they were very glad, after a year or two, to be able to dispose of to the more wealthy powers of Europe. These lessons we failed to take to heart, and we are only now generally recognising our difficulty. The best way in which to make the people of Australia recognise their responsibility in this matter is to force it upon them from time to time by making them meet the expenditure involved instead of allowing them to pass it on to future generations. That is the attitude which the party on this side take up with respect to the proposals in this Bill to borrow for defence purposes. We have no objection to the other items, but; it would be very foolish on our part to depart from the policy with respect to defence which we put forward in the past, and which the people indorsed. The last time the matter was made a burning question at elections, we know that it shook the Fusion party to their foundation. I understand that the Government are extremely anxious at the present time for a double dissolution, and there is no reason why an appeal to the country should not be made at once on this question.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator would like to choose his own battleground.
– Exactly. This is a great principle, a decision upon which would justify the trouble and expense of a double dissolution. No intelligent person supposes for a moment that the twopennyhalfpenny propositions put before us by the present Government justify a double dissolution. It would be ridiculous to have a double dissolution on the question of granting or not granting preference to unionists in respect of the small number of persons in the employment of the Commonwealth. It would be equally ridiculous to have a double dissolution on the question of the postal vote. To adopt such a course would be to bring the Federation into contempt and ridicule. If the Government are really anxious for a political fight, and wish to ascertain the will of the taxpayers of Australia, here is a principle worthy of a double dissolution, and let us go to the country on it. Honorable senators on this side are prepared to assist the Government to do so, and I have no doubt that they will show their readiness by rejecting so much of this Loan Bill as would authorize the borrowing of money for defence purposes.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And in the meantime the whole of the work for which it is proposed to borrow money must be hung up.
– Our view on the matter of loans generally has been made quite clear. The Labour party have never hesitated to announce their policy in the matter of loans. Where money is really required for the legitimate development of the country, we have never been opposed to borrowing. I am aware that our political opponents have persistently declared that we are opposed to all borrowing, but that is not true. We have stated from time to time that we recognise quite as well as they do that money must be obtained for legitimate development of our resources. But we have nailed our flag to the mast on the question of borrowing for defence, and here we have a splendid opportunity for testing the opinion of the people by a double dissolution, and I hope the Government will not shirk it.
– I can assure the Honorary Minister that I have no desire to unduly delay the passage of this Bill. The sooner it is dealt with the better. I am satisfied that if the representatives of the people in another place had had an opportunity to express their views on the measure, it would have considerably facilitated its passage through the Senate. But when a Bill has been “gagged” through in another place, it is not unnatural that we should look upon it with a great deal of suspicion, and should desire to dissect it very carefully. Min,isters are apparently under the impression that there is only one contentious item in this Loan Bill. I think they will find, before the measure passes through Committee, that there is more than one. The proposal to borrow for defence purposes has been fully discussed by previous speakers. The policy of the Labour party in this respect is well, known throughout Australia, and has been indorsed by the people. The Minister of Defence and Senator Gould have endeavoured to justify the proposal contained in this Bill because the money is to be expended upon the purchase of land, and not upon the purchase of guns, or powder and shot. They have contended that it is unfair that the year 1913 should be charged with the whole of the expense involved in the purchase of land which may be used by the Commonwealth up to 1923. Senator Bakhap, this morning, by exhibiting a map, showed us that we have not yet reached the end of our resources in Australia. This is a young country, with a rapidly increasing population. As the years go on, and the population increases, instead of being confined to the coast, and particularly to the south coast, our population will extend inland, and every year it will become necessary to purchase more land for defence purposes. If it is to be purchased out of loan money, ten years hence ‘we shall require to borrow an enormous amount for the purchase of land for defence purposes. The party on this side are taking the right course in proposing to strangle at its birth the policy of borrowing for defence purposes. I come now to the question of borrowing for the construction of railways. My views on this question are fairly well known. They have already been expressed in the Senate and in different States of the Commonwealth. I have no objection to the borrowing of money for the construction of railways. The Labour party have never had any objection to borrowing for railway construction, so long as the railways will serve some useful purpose, as even though they may not be directly reproductive, they will be indirectly reproductive. No one can have any logical objection to borrowing money for the construction of the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway. If the Government adopt the suggestion made by Senator O’Keefe this afternoon, and will subsidize prospecting parties in the country served by this railway, it cannot be doubted that the time is not far distant when the line will show a profit, in view of the fact that it traverses hundreds of miles of auriferous country. But there is another proposal in this Bill to borrow money for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katharine River and southwards. There is no Bill before this Parliament for the construction of this line.
– It is not before us yet, but a Bill has been drafted, and notice of it has been given in another place.
– We have so far no knowledge of such a Bill. Twelve months ago we passed a Bill to authorize the survey of this railway. I voted for the measure, but I stated at the. same time that, unless the line went through the mining fields and served the main interests of the Northern Territory, I might find it necessary to object to the construction of the line when it was proposed. I want to know what interests this railway will serve, and whether we are justified in borrowing money to construct it. Under the policy of the Labour Government the proposal would have been justified, because they had a policy for opening up and developing the Northern Territory. They proposed to build the railway so as to encourage the settlement of people on the soil of the Territory, and they were going to erect freezing works at Port Darwin. They had a guarantee from the pastoralists that so many thousand head of stock would be carried over the railway per annum. What is the position to-day? The present Government are not going to erect freezing works at Port Darwin. I do not know why, but it has been suggested that it is because they do not wish to interfere with the operations of the Beef Trust. Mr. Cook, speaking at Albury the other night, admitted that the Beef Trust is carrying on operations in the Commonwealth. I hope that is not the reason why the present Government do not intend to carry out the policy of the last Government in this connexion.
– The honorable senator does not seriously suggest that we want to help the Beef Trust? We certainly do not.
– I want to know why the Government are not going to erect freezing works at Port Darwin. If those works are not established, what is this railway for? What will it carry?
– We believe that it will assist in the development of the country.
– Will it have the effect of placing a single individual on the soil of the Northern Territory?
-We think so.
– So far as I can see, there is no possible hope that it will do so. If freezing works are not established at Port Darwin, the pastoralists will not guarantee that any stock will be carried over the railway. But if the freezing works are not established there, it stands to reason that the stock will go to Wyndham, which is the natural port for the western part of the Territory. The Commonwealth Government would be more justified in asking Parliament to agree to the raising of a loan of £400,000 .to present to the Government of Western Australia to erect freezing works at Wyndham, than they are in submitting this proposal, because that would do more to open up and develop the pastoral resources of the Territory than will the construction of the railway. I am not opposed to the extension of the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I recognise that we are under a moral obligation to build that line. If the Government had come down with a bold policy, and said, “ We desire to get so many millions to construct a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, or a railway from Port Augusta to Pine Creek,” I would have supported them, because that line is absolutely necessary in the interests of the Territory.
– Do you say that we are under a moral obligation to build a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek at any particular time ?
– Yes. I say most decidedly that, when we took over the Northern Territory, the people and the Government of South Australia clearly understood that, at the earliest possible moment, we would connect north and south; and I do not think we should endeavour to °evade our responsibilities in that regard.
– Would you still be in favour of the construction of that railway if you believed that its construction was inimical to the Australian people?
– That is the most ridiculous interjection that I think anypublic man could make at the present time. Can it be inimical to the Australian people ?
– Most decidedly it can.
– Most decidedly not. 1 agree, to a certain extent, with the honorable senator’s statement this morning that the building of th°. line from north to south instead of from south to north may be inimical to the Australian people; because, by starting at the south, we would be able at any time to carry troops to meet an invading foe which happened to land in the north. Certainly, if we built the line from the north, it would give an opportunity to an enemy landing at the north to come southward. That is one reason why I think we should not pass this item in the Bill, and enable the present Government to construct a railway from north to south, when they have no logical argument in favour of its construction. They cannot point to one interest which the line is likely to serve. Can they say that it will serve any mining fields? If they can point toone mining field which it will serve, I ask them, What has been the output of that mining district for the last year or two ? Can they point to any station in the Northern Territory which the railway is likely to serve ? Have they any guarantee that it will even carry the stores to the stations in the Territory at the present time ? In my opinion, the line will be a white elephant. It will return no revenue; it will do nothing to open up and develop the northern part of this continent. Holding these views, I claim that it is our duty, as representatives of the people, to reject the item, unless the Government are going to have a developmental policy somewhat similar to that of the late Labour Government, who, if they had constructed the line, would have created freezing works at Darwin, and had hundreds of men employed there. They would have had a guarantee from the pastoralists to send their stock over the railway and have them treated at the freezing works. Unless the Honorary Minister can give us some information in connexion with ‘the item, and some logical reason why we should sanction the borrowing of money to expend on that line, I, for one, intend to oppose the item. The other items have been fairly well discussed by honorable senators. I wish to see the Bill dealt with at the earliest possible moment. In my opinon, a fair sinking fund is provided to recoup the money to be used in the construction of the conduits and laying the wires underground. I believe that the sinking fund will pay for the cost of the work, before it will be necessary to do the work again. I am not opposed to public borrowing, so long as that provision is made. As regards item No. 2, I intend, in Committee, to move for its deletion, unless we get further information from the Honorary Minister.
.- The opposition of Senator Buzacott to the second item in the schedule is about the only reason I have for speaking now. Having recently traversed the country through which it is proposed to build the railway from Pine Creek, for which purpose money is sought in the schedule, I intend to support the item. But, like Senator Buzacott, I regret very much that the Government have not included in the schedule an item for the establishment of freezing works at Darwin.
– For what purpose are you going to use the railway when it is built!
– I would sooner build the line and trust to luck, and to the common sense of a Government in the future to recognise the absolute necessity of establishing freezing works at Darwin. In the absence of such works, the extension of the railway to the Katherine River will, for several years, be a non-paying proposition. We ought, I think, to look at the question from another point of view. It is the opinion, not only of myself, but of those who are best fitted to speak with expert knowledge, that that extension is an absolute necessity as a first link in the railway which is eventually to go from Darwin to Oodnadatta. I should like to know whether, in this early stage in the construction of the great north to south railroad, the Government intend to discuss the national question of the gauge. The only railway in the Northern Territory at the present time is one running 150 miles almost due south from Darwin to Pine Creek on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. If we are going to decide upon a uniform gauge for the various railway systems in the Commonwealth, it is just as well for us to now look the position fairly and squarely in the face. Of what use will it be to construct a line of 50 miles on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in the Northern Territory ? That is one consideration which appeals strongly to my mind. I recognise that it would be costly to pull up the existing line and relay it on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge which has been decided upon by Parliament. But I think it is just as well for us to face the inevitable first as last. Unlike Senator Buzacott, I consider that the extension of the existing line 50 miles will do some good. It will certainly tap the rich pastoral country south of the Katherine River. I remember that some of us spent five days on horseback in travelling over practically the route of the proposed extension ; but whilst we were at the Katherine River I had a conversation with a man who had brought a large mob of fat cattle from the interior. Up to that stage he had met with good grass country throughout almost the whole of his journey. He had met with good water and good feed for his cattle, but he pointed out to me that the 50 miles of unbridged country between the Katherine River and Pine Creek, where there is practically no decent feed for cattle, would deteriorate his stock far more than had the journey of 150 or 200 miles from the country in the direction of the Barklay Tableland.
– The country to be traversed by the railway is very poor.
– What is to stop them from carrying on the construction work from both ends at the same time ?
– I have no objection to the railway being started from each end, ‘ just as we started our great east-to-west railway. If we intend to build the railway, let us lay down a definite plan. “
– We should have had this session at least a proposal for a survey.
– I certainly agree with the honorable senator that the Government ought to have brought forward a definite proposal to link up the north with the south; but it is of no use to go on in a patch-work manner.
– Looking at the matter in a practical way, will you tell us what advantage, without freezing works at Darwin, will the railway be to the pastoralist with his herd of cattle?
– I admit that the railway will not be of that advantage to the pastoralist which we would wish, and certainly not the advantage which would have accrued to him had the policy of the late Government been carried out, and that was to expend about £70,000 on freezing works at Darwin. I verily believe that, no matter what Government may be in power, even though they may be frightened by the so-called bogy of Socialism, they will be forced by the weight of evidence to recognise that, as a natural corollary to the extension of the railway to Katherine River, they must erect freezing works at the terminal point.
– Your faith may move mountains.
– I feel sure that, even though the present Government hate the name of Socialism as the devil hates holy water, obtuse as they are in these matters, they will be forced to the inevitable conclusion that the railway will never pay without the establishment of freezing works at Darwin. The Administrator went to great pains to get into communication with almost every pastoralist south of Pine Creek and the Katherine River, and to obtain a definite guarantee that they would each supply so many head of cattle yearly to the freezing works if erected by the Government.
– Quite so; but he would not get a guarantee that they would ship them there.
– He cannot get a guarantee now that a pastoralist will ship the cattle there or freeze them there, because, owing to the new policy of the Government, the pastoralists, only temporarily I think, are not going to send their cattle to Darwin unless facilities are provided for placing them in freezing works or for properly, shipping them. I am living in hopes, and I intend to vote for item No. 2.
– Hope will not pay the interest.
– I have always advocated the construction of railways for the advancement of acountry. What is the use of our doing nothing with the great Territory whichwe have taken over ?
– You will do nothing when you build the railway.
– We will do something when we build the line. The same argument might have been used when the railway was built from Darwin - unfortunately by Chinese labour, and on a narrow gauge.
– No; they were opening their mining fields.
– They were opening up certain industries, and the extension of that line 50 miles is, in my opinion, absolutely necesary to the present so-called railway system of the Northern Territory, because it does not go far enough southward. Its present terminus is Pine Creek, so that it stops 50 miles north of the good country which it should tap. Stopping, as it does, at a place where the mining industry is stagnated, the railway for all practical purposes might as well be non-existent.
– Will the proposed line to the Katherine River pass through any mining fields?
– It will traverse country in the vicinity of Horseshoe Bend and Mount Todd, both of which have as good a chance of developing into payable fields as has any mining district in the vicinity of Pine Creek. I presume that the route which we travelled from Pine Creek to the Katherine River will be almost identical with that which will be followed by the proposed line. There is another matter upon which I wish to say a word or two. I take a very great interest in Papua, and I note that in this Bill we are asked to appropriate the sum of £60,000 for the construction of a railway from Port Moresby to Astrolabe, and for the construction of wharfs at Port Moresby and Samarai. It is very seldom, indeed, that I have to commend the Government for any good deed.
– Has the honorable senator ever commended them ?
– I do not think so, and I regret that I have to do so now. As one who has travelled through the country which will be served by the proposed line from Port Moresby to Astrolabe, and who has seen the shipping accommodation provided at Port Moresby and at Samarai, I say that the Government are justified in expending the amount proposed upon these particular works. At the present time there is not a single foot of railway in Papua, and there is scarcely a mile of road, as we use the term. When the Parliamentary party visited Papua the inhabitants of Port Moresby and Samarai waited upon us, and urged the necessity for the Commonwealth expending a certain sum of money in the direction indicated in this Bill. If we peruse the reports of the Government Geologist and of the Director of Agriculture in Papua, we shall find that the proposed line from Port Moresby to the Astrolabe Mountains will traverse a distance of 18 miles, and will be a payable and a reproductive work. I understand that it is to be constructed upon the 2-ft. 6-in. gauge. The miners there are anxious to be provided with some means by which they can transport their copper ore from the Astrolabe to Port Moresby in order that it may be shipped to ports in the South. It may be of interest to honorable senators to know that even with the limited facilities which the miners there enjoy at the present time, the value of copper ore exported by them from the Astrolabe field during the past six years was £31,423.
– And all that ore had to be carried by pack-mules.
– In reply to that interjection I cannot do better than quote the words of the Honorable Staniforth Smith, who says -
The future prospects of this field appear to depend largely on the decision as to whether it is to be connected with Port Moresby by a railway line, a distance of about 18 miles.
In the absence of railway communication, the whole of the or: has to be brought to the coast by pack-mules, a distance, in the case of the northern end of the field, of 18 miles, and 4 or 5 miles in the case of the southern end.
To convey ore from the northern end of the field costs at present £2 10s. a ton, which is more than the present value of 3 per cent. ore. These heavy charges, to which have to be added the cost of mining, shipping, freights, and smelting charges, have rendered ore shipments under present conditions unpayable from the northern end of the field.
The proposed line, I may add, will be in close proximity to some of the tobacco and sisal hemp plantations, which are gradually springing into existence there.
– And a good field of indigenous black labour.
– That is rather a vexed question. The “ boys “ will not sign on at the present time. Some of the planters are able to get native labourers under better conditions than are others for the simple reason that they treat them better. In regard to most of the items enumerated in the schedule of this Bill, I think that the money will be wisely expended, and that it will prove reproductive. So far as the construction of wharfs at Fort Moresby and Samarai is concerned, I do not for a moment anticipate that those works .will immediately return interest upon their capital cost. But we have to consider the conditions under which the inhabitants there live. When a vessel arrives at Port Moresby it is hampered by the lack of wharfage accommodation. At Samarai there is a privately-owned wharf which has to be used by nearly all vessels visiting that port. The Government would be wise if they expended the money which will be provided under this Bill in erecting a wharf of their own there.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.86 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Ready) proposed -
That the evidence of the Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry be printed.
– Before this motion is put, I think it my duty to offer a few remarks on the subject. I wish to put the facts before honorable senators as shortly as possible. One thousand copies of the evidence taken by the Fruit Commission have already been printed. It makes an extremely bulky volume, as honorable senators will see. I have had inquiries made from the Government Printer, and have elicited the information that the total cost of printing the evidence, including the copies required by members of the Commission and Parliament, amounted to £1,002. Senator Ready’s motion has for its object the binding up of the evidence in the ordinary volumes, which are distributed as parliamentary papers. Obviously, it would cost a considerable sum to have that done.
– The copies are already printed.
– They are not’ printed in that form. I am sure that Senator Ready does not understand the cost that would bo involved if his proposal were adopted. The 1,000 copies printed are available for members of Parliament. Any member of Parliament could to-day, merely on application, obtain a dozen copies for his personal use, or for distribution.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that each member of Parliament could obtain a dozen copies ?
– Every member of each House could not, but 1,000 copies have been printed, and the type has been broken up. Those copies are available for circulation. Obviously, if every member of Parliament applied for a dozen, the 1,000 copies would not be sufficient, but nevertheless there is an abundant supply available for those members of Parliament who wish to have them. If the Senate were to decide on the course suggested by the motion, ill would put the Commonwealth to an additional expense in having the evidence bound up in the sessional volumes. If the question of convenience be consulted, it is, in my opinion, more convenient for any one who wants to see the evidence to read it in its present form than in one of the bulky volumes containing the sessional papers.
– Why was the Postal Commission’s evidence, a much more bulky document than this one, bound up with the parliamentary papers?
– I cannot say.
– And the Tariff Commission’s evidence also.
– Even if that were done, it is no reason why we should go to unnecessary expense in regard to this particular evidence. I wish to put another consideration. The Senate has appointed a Printing Committee. Indeed, I believe that Senator Ready is a member of it. Our object in appointing that Committee was to enable it to call proper evidence and go into all questions affecting the printing of papers. Honorable senators know the form in which reports of the Printing Committee are invariably presented. In every case the Committee recommends the course which should be adopted in regard to any paper. It submits in a schedule a list of the papers which it recommends to be printed. As to all other papers, the Committee says, “ No recommendation.” In my opinion, the Printing Committee should consider this matter first, and make a recommendation to the Senate. If the Committee recommended the printing of the evidence as a parliamentary paper, that could be done; but, if not, the Committee would make no recommendation. Then the Senate could deal with it. The Committee was especially appointed to go into the merits of such questions, and is specially qualified to do so. There will be no delay,’ nor any burking of the question. But we should proceed on the ordinary and, I believe, the very wholesome lines which our procedure prescribes. For these reasons I urge Senator Ready to withdraw his motion, and allow the Printing Committee to report on the matter. That has also been our procedure, and there is no reason for departing from it in this case.
– I really do not understand why Senator Clemons opposes this motion on behalf of the Government.
– Because it is contrary to our procedure.
– Many things have been done in this Parliament which are contrary to usual procedure. My honorable friend fell down and worshipped those things. When Senator Ready proposes something which may be contrary to precedent, but which appears to me to appeal to common sense, Senator Clemons is outraged.
– It. is a matter for the Printing Committee.
– I know nothing of the under currents which may be running in connexion with this question.
– There are none.
– But there appears to me to be something beneath the surface which has not been discovered to the Senate. The Minister tells us that 1,000 copies of the evidence are ready for circulation. But 1 take it that if the motion is not adopted, and if the Printing Committee reports against the printing of the document, or makes no recommendation, no report of the evidence taken by the Commission will be contained in the volumes of parliamentary papers.
– May I correct that statement? The Senate can always deal as it pleases with the report of the Printing Committee.
– I know that. I am supporting the motion, and the Minister is opposing it in the hope that it will come to grief at the hurdle of the Printing Committee.
– I absolutely deny that.
– If the honorable senator has no objection to the printing of the evidence why all this deference to the Printing Committee ? I am sure that the Committee does not feel in the slightest degree insulted by Senator Ready coming here, and, in a manner of speaking, overlooking it. I know the spirit which has hitherto animated the Printing Committee. The members of it appear to me to be a penny-catching, penurious crowd. The Government of the Commonwealth appointed a Commission to inquire into the fruit industry, which went up and down the land collecting evidence in regard to one of our great primary businesses. Every man in the Commonwealth who desires to know anything about that evidence should have an opportunity of perusing it. Further, the evidence should be upon the permanent records of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The probability is that the evidence is still in type.
– We are told that the type has been broken up. It should have been kept standing until Parliament decided whether any more copies were required. This is a matter which concerns not only the primary producer but the people of the Commonwealth in their everyday life. One of the standing grievances of the people is in regard to the price of fruit. This Commission was appointed, amongst other objects, to inquire into the reason why fruit is so costly in Australia. I have no doubt that the Commission took a great deal of valuable evidence on that point. It has, I suppose, made recommendations regarding it. If it were reasonable to appoint a Commission to do this work, it is reasonable to embody the evidence in the papers presented to Parliament. We ought to wish it to be done. Personally, I do. It will be a misfortune if anything happens to prevent the evidence being placed on our records. I know that a number of honorable senators laugh at the idea of this kind of thing. They look at the cost. But surely a matter which so intimately affects the people of the Commonwealth is worth £1,000. If I may be permitted to say so, the Commonwealth is squandering hundreds of thousands of pounds on worthless objects, and I never heard a word of remonstration against so doing. Here is a useful object, something which is intended to benefit the people of Australia with regard to one of its great industries. The Senate ought to be no party to any attempt to suppress this evidence or keep it out of our records. The Minister’s opposition practically means that. In the future some one might refer to the Fruit Commission, which cost so much, and took certain evidence. Probably some inquisitive member of Parliament might turn up the records to try to find the evidence. He would find the evidence of almost every other Commission, but of this one he would find none. There would be no trace of the Commission left. Such a thing is unthinkable, lt is= opposed to common sense and to every tradition of good government. I trust that the Senate will not support Senator Clemons’ objection to the printing of this evidence, but will carry the motion.
– 1 cannot understand the attitude of the Government on this question. The matter is simply whether the evidence taken by the Fruit Commission shall be bound up with our parliamentary papers or not.
– Why not let it take its usual course?
– I have an idea that the Government do not want to have this evidence bound up.
– I can assure Senator Ready that the Government have not the slightest objection to it. There is nothing of that in the question at all.
– I am of the opinion that a good deal of the evidence, especially with regard to secret rebates and profits in the fruit industry, is not acceptable to many of those who support the Government.
– What nonsense!
– For that reason they are distinctly anxious that the evidence shall get as little publicity as possible.
– They are not.
– I say unhesitatingly that that is my belief. Without detaining the Senate further, I hope that honorable senators will vote for themotion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As, apparently, the business of the first session of this Parliament is drawing to a close, and as the questions embodied in this Bill, and the five Bills succeeding it on the notice-paper, have been from time to time threshed out in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, and before the public, I do not think it would be wise on my part to occupy too much of the time of the Senate in dealing with them. I, therefore, ask honorable senators to take the second-reading debate on the first of these Bills for the alteration of the Constitution as applying to the whole six. If that be done, a great deal of time will be saved, and honorable senators and members of another place will be in a position to enjoy their Christmas holidays more happily and much sooner than if any very lengthy debates are indulged in on these measures. As to the proposed alteration of the Constitution with regard to trade and commerce, I may remind honorable senators that it has been pointed out times without number that trade and commerce affects every citizen of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the more comprehensive the powers of the National Parliament of Australia in respect to that question, as well as to the other questions dealt with in the succeeding Bills the better for the people of Australia. I shall not, in the circumstances, detain the Senate with further argument on the subject.
– I have not risen in order to delay debate on this Bill for a moment. If I have risen for any particularly definite reason, it is in the hope that I may set an example with regard to the treatment of this Bill, which may possibly be imitated by my honorable friends opposite when motions in connexion with important Bills are submitted from this side. I agree with Senator McGregor that the subject-matter of this and the succeeding Bills, proposing alterations of the Constitution, has been debated at extreme length, not only in the both Houses of this Parliament, but recently before the people at election time. I do not propose to add one word more to the debate, except that the Government will have to call for a division on this Bill. We can have a vote upon it, and it can be settled at once. May I hope that such a procedure as a short statement, followed rapidly by a division, will be the treatment accorded to Government measures which I shall have presently to introduce.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McGregor) read a second time, and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
The PRESIDENT laid on the table:
The Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1913, accompanied by the Reportof the Acting Auditor-General.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from Committee without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) pro posed -
That Order of the Day No. 2, Government business, be postponed until after the consideration of Order of the Day No. 3, Government business.
– I should like to know the reason why this departure is proposed.
– Simply to enable me to move the second reading of the Government Preference Prohibition Bill.
– At 25 minutes past 6 o’clock this evening I understood the Honorary Minister to move that the consideration of the Loan Bill be postponed until a later hour of the day.
– It will come on for consideration later.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a second time. 1 think I may safely say that no measure represents in a cleaner and more clearly cut way the complete division which exists between the political principles of honorable senators’ upon this side of the chamber and those of my honorable friends opposite than does this Bill.
– That is satire.
– I can assure SenatorPearce that 1 never spoke more seriously.
– The Bill is only a stuffed tiger.
– I propose to state the Government’s attitude in respect of the measure, and I may say that there is nothing in the nature of satire in regard to that attitude. I hope, too, that I. am addressing an Opposition which takes a serious view of the Bill.
– This measure and the postage stamp are the Government’s king-pins.
– There are certain interjections which I can afford to completely ignore in dealing with a matter of this importance, and that by Senator Findley is one of them. Before proceeding to deal with the subject-matter of the Bill, I wish to say that, if I were not here as a public man, and if I were to put to members of the Opposition, and to every man and woman who supports them, this question, “ Do you believe in the Commonwealth having an Administration which, in dealing with the national finances, will recognise neither fear nor favour in the disbursement of those finances?” I venture to say that the reply forthcoming would be an affirmative one. Is there any citizen who will openly declare that Government patronage in any form is a good thing for this or any English-speaking community ? Not one honorable senator opposite would, on general lines, affirm that he approves of Government patronage in any shape or form. I credit my honorable friends with desiring to see efficiency in all our Government Departments. I say that the present Ministry abhors patronage. Is there any honorable senator opposite who will for a moment deliberately and openly advocate the policy known as ‘ spoils to the victor ‘ ‘ ?
– It has been practised for about fifty years.
– I deny it.
– Look at the names on the civil list, and then let the Honorary Minister ask himself the question.
– I recognise that we have never had a Government in this country - and probably there never was a Government anywhere - which did not lean in individual cases towards its own supporters. So long as human nature remains what it is, we cannot expect that kind of perfection which will regard with an impartial eye every member of the community. But there is an enormous gulf, which can never be bridged, between the acts of any Government, no matter what their principles may be, in conferring favours in individual cases and the act of a Government which says, “ We are going to differentiate clearly between classes in this community.”
– The present Government have already done that.
– They have not done it.
– No Fusion Government were every guilty of granting a preference to anybody save a nonunionist.
– This Government have never adopted the principle of distributing class favours.
– They are an immaculate Government.
– We are not immaculate, but we will not recognise any class as being specially endowed with a right to receive Government favours. We will, doubtless, make mistakes, as any Government will do. But I insist upon emphasizing the enormous difference which exists between committing individual errors and deliberately adopting a policy which separates one class from the rest of the community.
– Will the passing of this Bill make any difference to any man or woman in Australia ?
– I hope and believe that it will. The interjection suggests this question : Why is not the Government content with its administrative act in carrying out the principle embodied in this Bill; why does -it bring forward a measure to give statu tory enactment to that principle? I answer the question at once. I say that the principle involved in this Bill is so important, so far-reaching, means so much to any nation under civilized government, that it is the bounden duty of the Government to put it beyond the possibility of administrative error, and to publish to the people the fact of its policy in this regard. There are many things which can be done by administration, but which have formed the subject of statutory enactment. Any man who has observed the course of government, and knows what goes on, will admit that there are many things which can be acts of administration, but which have, by Acts of Parliament, been deliberately put into Statutes. If that applies to any of the things which govern our ordinary life, it ought to apply to this. On this principle our parties differ absolutely, widely ; and because they differ, surely that is no reason why there should not be statutory enactments to put before the public for ready contemplation the difference in question.
– Why do not the Government tackle the principle of preference in the Arbitration Act?
– The Government are dealing with these matters as fast as they can.
– As fast as they want to.
– As far as I am concerned, as fast as Ave can. I will take up that interjection. I wish to remind honorable senators that this question of preference to unionists arises originally from a provision in a Statute passed by this Parliament. It is in that Statute that the phrase first occurs. I ask my honorable friends whether they wish to retain for any Government in this country far greater powers than the President of the Arbitration Court, a Judge of the High Court, has ever yet exercised, except in one case?
– But which he can exercise.
– I will remind the Senate of the occasion, and the reasons” which induced the Judge to exercise preference in the one case mentioned. I will take Mr. Justice Higgins as an absolute model, if honorable senators please, of the way in which this question should he treated. What is his attitude in regard to it ? As far as any man can fairly judge by the decisions he has given in the Arbitration Court, his attitude is this: He has consistently and invariably refused to grant preference in every case that has been brought before him, with the exception of one - the notorious Brisbane Tramway case, in which his position “was made perfectly clear, and his reasons also. To put it in a sentence, Mr. Justice Higgins, in that case, decided to give preference for one reason, and for no other - a reason which, I venture, in my humble way, to approve of. Without going into details, the Judge granted the preference because, as he said, “ I am afraid of victimization.”
– That is always the reason, and always the justification for preference.
– I quite agree, and I ask Senator Pearce to say that no preference shall be given by Parliament, or by any Judge, unless there is a real fear of victimization.
– Hear, hear!
– I agree with that absolutely.
– We get victimization all the time.
– Do honorable senators say that there can be victimization of one class only in this community?
– Surely they cannot say that. Just as Mr. Justice Higgins has ruled, sitting as a Judge, that, as far as he can prevent it, no class in this community shall suffer victimization, so the Government say, in this Bill, that there shall be no victimization of non-unionists. That is the Government’s clear attitude.
– The Government say, “ We will allow victimization of unionists.”
– Once this Bill is upon the statute-hook it will be illegal to grant preference to any class.
– You will give preference to non-unionists.
– The Government’s clear attitude, as expressed distinctly in this Bill, and as I express it in a sentence, is this : That under no conceiv able circumstances, as long as they can possibly avoid it - that is to say, willingly and wittingly - will they allow any discrimination in the way of preference in favour of any class, section, or order of persons in this community.
– That has not been their practical policy.
– The object of this Bill is to publish to the whole community, in clear language, that in the giving of Government employment there shall be no preference to non-unionists any more than to unionists.
– Have the Govern-: ment ever appointed a unionist to a position since they have come into power?
– As far as I know, the members of the Government have appointed neither unionists nor nonunionists. They have not inquired. I say, further, that they do not ask, and the object of this Bill is to prevent the asking of, such questions.
– They have “ sacked “ every one whom they thought had a sprinkling of unionism in him.
– I am surprised that Senator Henderson should make that statement. I know that he does not believe it. I cannot think for a moment that he is warranted by the facts in saying such a thing. I do not hesitate to. say - and honorable senators know that I am accustomed to say what I believe - that this Government will not, under any conceivable circumstances, pay the slightest regard, in the matter of employment in the Public Service, to the question whether a man belongs to a union or whether he does not.
– I am eager to see the Government appoint a unionist to any position.
– I must emphasize this point - that the object of the Bill is to prevent differentiation. I will not be misunderstood iu the matter. It may be that an individual unionist, or an individual non-unionist, has been, or will be, appointed to the Public Service. But I say that, looking at the question from the point of view of classes, and not of individuals, the one determination of the Government, as expressed in this Bill, and otherwise, is that they will not, under any conceivable circumstances, allow preference to be given to any class whatever in this community. That is their determined attitude. Honorable senators opposite may, if they choose, refuse to give the ordinary credence to my words, but they will not change my attitude in the slightest degree.
– Why does not the Government tackle the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, which deals with the giving or preference?
– I could answer’ that question in many ways. I can answer it effectively in one. When this Government came into office - or, rather, before it came into office - this matter of preference was a burning one.
– They made it so.
– I certainly made it a burning question throughout my election campaign. There is no question on which I spoke more strongly than on this.
– Does the honorable senator say it was a burning question throughout the Commonwealth ?
– I cannot speak for other people, but, as far as I am concerned, at the last election there was no question - there were no hundred questions added together - which, in my opinion, approached this one in importance. Practically speaking, I devoted my attention to little else.
– Not this particular matter; it was the whole question of preference.
– No; it was the question of preference by administration, not as applied by a Judge. That is a totally different question.
– The honorable senator should have tackled that one.
– It applied to the whole of the subject.
– This question applies to every possible form of employment that it is within the power of the Government to confer. It directly affects the employment of from 12,000 to 15,000 persons in this community.
– This matter leaves untouched the whole question of preference, apart from the Public Service.
– It leaves untouched preference as granted by the Arbitration Court. The Government want that to be clearly understood. The Arbitration Court preference is obtained through clean administration by a Judge. I hope, and believe, that it will be always clean.
– The Government want to wipe that out at the next election.
– This matter of administrative preference, however, is, in my distinct opinion, one of unclean administration. I do not hesitate to say plainly to my honorable friends opposite that I think that the granting by a Government of preference to any class of the community is an act of administration that is unclean. I do not wish to mince my words.
– Is the honorable senator aware that Mr. Justice Higgins has already awarded preference in one of the Government Departments?
– It is absolutely unclean when you are spending public money obtained from all classes in the community to say that that money shall be spent on a particular class. I say again that that is unclean, and that this Bill is intended to alter it.
– Do you need a Statute to prevent you from becoming unclean ?
– No, we do not; but I will tell the Senate what we do need the Statute for. We need it to prevent any one from becoming unclean in this respect before the people are appealed to on the subject.
– You cannot do it; because if we get back to power, we will put the Act aside.
– The honorable senator’s party cannot put an Act of Parliament aside without repealing it. They can repeal an Act if they have the power, but before they repeal it, they will probably have to do what this Government will have to do - ask the sanction of the people as to whether they want the particular law or not.
– Why is it necessary to move the legislative machinery for this Bill, which embodies a principle that the Attorney-General says has been brought into operation by administrative act?
– I have answered that question several times. I say that it is necessary that the people of Australia should be invited on a clear, distinct issue to say what their views are on this point.
– You have already done what you want by administration.
– We have done it as an act of administration, but we have not passed this Bill, which we hope to submit to the people.
– This is only “ flapdoodle “ then.
– My honorable friend talks utter hopeless flapdoodle when he says that if a big principle is involved, it is not the bounden duty of any Government to give statutory enactment to that principle. Where would the honorable senator’s argument lead him? He would contend that all that it is necessary to do to govern a country is to put some particular party in power, and, without any statutory enactments, tell them to administer the affairs of the country at their own sweet will. That is not a constitutional position. There has never yet been a serious principle put before any civilized people that has not been translated into an Act of Parliament, or defeated in the effort te enact it. And there never was a principle put before any people that was so vital and so radical as is this principle. I say that the denial of the principle contained in this Bill means corruption so far as the government of the country is concerned.
– As the Government intend to abolish all day labour, there will not be any longer any casual employment in the service of the Commonwealth.
– I thought that Senator Findley intended to ask me a relevant question. Whether we abolish day labour or do not, the Government are determined that no preference in employment to any particular class in the community shall be provided for in any Act. I speak with a certain amount of heat or earnestness. I am absolutely sincere in what I have to say on this question. I have used plain, straightforward language, and have said that a denial of this Bill means something approaching corruption. From my point of view, it means unclean government. I do not for a moment credit my honorable friends opposite with a desire to do anything that is corrupt; but if I am asked to explain why they did this thing, let me suggest an answer : I do not blame them for it, for there is room for differences of opinion on these matters, but they are so completely wedded to unionism, and especially to the form of it in which it presents itself to the people of Australia to-day - that is, political unionism - that they have, I cannot say insensibly, but consciously, deliberately, and openly, before the people of Australia have practically adopted this principle, said, “ Determined as we are, so far as we are able to do so, to put down political patronage, a question has arisen which comes into conflict with one of the elementary principles of clean government. That is the question of encouraging political unionists; and so much do we think of political unionism that we are prepared to break even this first rule of clean government and to say deliberately that, as an Administration having the spending of the moneys contributed by the whole of the people, we will give a distinct preference in Government employment to unionists.” That is the position in which my honorable friends opposite place themselves.
– Did the late Government, during the last three years, by any legislative enactment, put any such principle upon the statute-book?
– They did not; but I say at once that it would have been infinitely better, and would have redounded much more to the credit of the late Government, if, directly they decided upon this step, which was taken for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth about three years ago, they translated their decision into an Act of this Parliament. What did they do? The Parliament discovered suddenly-
– “ Suddenly “ ?
– Yes; so far as I was concerned, suddenly, amazingly, and startingly. It was suddenly discovered that various Ministers were issuing instructions practically to the effect that no non-unionist was to be employed in the Public Service.
– No. The honorable senator knows better. That is a vermilion-tinted prevarication.
– Very well, I will leave it to any honorable senator present, or to any person outside who will read what I propose to quote, to say whether I am not amply justified in the conclusion I have expressed.
– Before the honorable senator reads that quotation-
– On this occasion, Senator Needham will have to wait, and must hear me first.
– 1 wished to ask the honorable senator a question.
– Order ! There are too many interjections.
– Do not read the minute that was withdrawn.
– I shall read what minute I like. Here is the minute which I wish first to read, and honorable senators know the interpretation I put upon it -
I have the honour to inform you that approval has been given for your appointment as a field hand in connexion with survey work in the Northern Territory, with wages at the rate of is. 5d. per hour of forty-four hours a week. This approval has been given on the understanding that you are a member of a recognised union. If you are not it will be necessary for you to take steps to join at once, otherwise the agreement lapses.
– Hear, hear! That was for his own protection.
– I do not want any explanation of that kind. What I am concerned about is that that minute was issued from, the Department of External Affairs when it was presided over by Mr. Josiah Thomas, and I say that it fully justifies my general comment upon the attitude of the late Government.
– Does the honorable senator say that that was the minute under which preference to unionists was given ?
– I do not say that that was the minute under which it was given, but that that was one of the documents which enabled us to ascertain the methods of administration of the late Government. There was a similar minute, we know, issued by Mr. O’Malley, but I need not trouble to read it.
– There was preference to unionists, other things being equal.
– I take up the honorable senator’s interjection. Why should there be any preference, even where other things are equal, to start with ? The present Government deny that, even where other things are equal, they have any right to give preference to unionists, or to anybody else, for Government employment.
– Would the present Government brief any lawyer who was not a member of the legal union to appear for them in any case %
– If they did brief any one to appear for them in Court, he would have to be a lawyer.
– He would have to be a member of the union before he could appear in Court.
– I know nothing about that, but I am willing to take up my honorable friend’s reference to lawyers at once. It is a very old, and a very stale, reference.
– It is true.
– It may be as true as the honorable senator pleases, but the answer to it is exceedingly simple. It is that no man can become a lawyer in any State of the Commonwealth, or under the Federation, unless and until he displays certain proofs of efficiency and of merit. In no circumstances can any man become a member of that union, if honorable senators please to call it a union, until he has proved his possession of efficiency and merit, and, further, so long as he remains a member of that union he has to give safeguards for his proper conduct. Is there anything at all corresponding to that in the unionism with which we are dealing today?
– I say there isnot, and I know what I am talking about. There is no union in Australia which I, though I may be utterly and hopelessly incompetent to perform the work ordinarily performed by the members of that union, could not join. How do men get into unions ? By paying the fee. Is any man ever refused admission to a union ?
– There have been occasions, I know, when men have been refused admission to unions, to the great discredit of those unions. But I am not dealing with those few exceptions which I believe exist, but with political industrial unionism as we know it to-day. The gates into it are perfectly wide open, and any man can join, whilst no man in a union joins it because he can offer the slightest proof of merit, efficiency, or anything else.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– I know it.
– The honorable senator does not know anything about it.
– I do know it. I have come into contact with unions, and the description I have given of them fits them fully.
– The honorable senator must be talking of the Free Workers’ Union.
– I do not propose to bandy contradictions with the honorable senator. Every member of the Senate knows the constitution of the various unions to-day.
– A painter could not join the Brickmakers Union.
– Why not?
– Because he is a painter. The bricklayers would not admit him He must be a skilled man at the trade before he can join the union.
– I take the case of one of the largest unions in Australia, about which I probably know more than does Senator Barker. I refer to the Miners Union, and I say that any man in the Commonwealth can join the Miners Union to-morrow.
– He can not.
– All that I can saY is that he can. I have known of hundreds of instances of it myself.
– The honorable senator cannot prove that statement.
– I have no time for these denials. What is the qualification ?
– The honorable senator has made an assertion which he cannot prove.
– lt is only an assertion.
– It is, and the contradiction I get from honorable senators opposite is only a contradiction. But all this is a divergence from the matter in hand. I have spoken long enough upon this subject, and I go back now to my main statement of the attitude of the Government in connexion with this matter. I am entitled to make that statement, and to be heard. The attitude of the Government in regard to this question is clear and simple. It is that in no conceivable circumstances will they grant any preference whatever to any man in this community, whether he belongs to a union or does not, or belongs to any other combination, artificial or real, to be found in the community. They will not tolerate, so far as they can prevent it, any partiality of that sort. My honorable friends opposite may jeer in answer to a speech which I am sincere in making, and which I do not make for any party purpose. I do not hesitate to say that I make it with very considerable regret, because I feel that in this matter we should drop party politics. Every man ought to drop them, and should wonder why he has not a few lucid intervals in which he is enabled to do so. I say that it is a deplorable thing that political parties in Australia cannot unite in a determination to maintain clean government, free from the slightest possible suspicion of corruption, so far as they can possibly do so.
– Hear, hear !
– I know what these jeering answers are, and can estimate them for what they are worth.
– It is not jeering, it is cheering.
– No; it is jeering, and honorable senators opposite are prepared to justify class distinction and the whole attitude they are adopting. I hope that the people will be given an opportunity to judge between us on this point. I sum up my attitude by giving quietly my own personal view, that this granting of political preference represents a gate to a path made by politicians, and by them alone, a path which leads down to the valley of national decay. It can mean nothing else so long as the pathis still worn, and the gate still open.
– I desire to second the motion for the second reading of this Bill, and will make but a very few remarks in connexion with it. If this Bill is a mere myth and figment, as alleged, I must say that an extraordinary amount of excitement has arisen concerning it in the Senate. It might be as well to go back to the primary cause of the introduction of the Bill. In September of the year before last a deputation from the Trades Hall waited upon the then Prime Minister, and requested that preference might be given to unionists in Government employment. The deputation was given a favorable answer, and a day or two later the celebrated notice was issued by Mr. O’Malley that in giving employment in the Government service preference was to be given to unionists, that in putting off men non-unionists were to be put off first, and that a list was to be supplied to him of non-unionists in the service.
– Was that Packer ?
– That was Mr. O’Malley,’ one of the honorable senator’s late leaders. It came out a little later that in the Post and Telegraph Department preference had been given for a considerable time to one section of the community. I venture to say that the notice to which I have referred came as a shock to the general public. They never dreamt that such a thing could be done. I believe it was the first time that such partiality to one section of the people was. ever shown in any British community. Here was a proposal that Government funds, subscribed by the whole of the people, should be devoted to a certain section- of the community supporting the Government of the day. There was a slight modification of the minute afterwards, as Senator “Pearce has said. It was modified to this extent: that where other things were equal, preference was to be given to unionists. But the preference was there, whether other things were equal or not. Why should not a non-unionist have an equal right to get work as a unionist, provided that he was as good as the other ? But he was not to have that right. He was to stand down every time if the unionist was as good as he was. It has been said that this question was not prominent at the last elections, but I submit that it was. It was the question of using Government money in this way that shocked the community, and that was brought out on every platform. In every speech I made I distinctly brought up the question; I did not refer to industrial unionism, but to unionism in Government employment. I believe that the change of Government, the passing over of some thirteen seats,was largely, if not entirely, brought about by the introduction of preference to unionists. Honorable senators will say that the country will support their view; but I do not for a moment think that it will do so. I am quite prepared to go to the country on this one point alone, because I feel very certain that the people will back up the Government. To show that it was a prominent question at the last election, I may mention that the first administrative act of the present Government was to cancel the notice that had been given to the Departments, and to leave an open door ‘to all classes of Government employment.
– Why do you want this Bill?
– We want the Bill to prevent any one from doing what was done two years ago.
– How can you ?
– If this Bill is passed, the same thing cannot be done again without the Government acting in the light of day. The late Government introduced the principle first in the Post and Telegraph Department without any one knowing anything about the matter; it was worked secretly. But when this Bill is passed,, no Government can introduce the principle again without bringing in a repealing Bill. They will have to act in the light of day, in the face of the people, and to take the responsibility for their action.
– You did away with preference without a Bill. Why do you want this Bill at all?
– I have already told the honorable senator that the Bill is wanted to prevent any one from doing what was done two years ago. I do not propose to add to my remarks, but merely to second the motion for second reading.
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from this day (vide page 3717), on motion by Senator Clemons -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise to address myself to the second reading of the Bill with a certain amount of diffidence, in view of the fact that so many honorable senators have discussed the question, and also in view of the fact that the Senate has given an example of not being on strike to-day, inasmuch as in about six minutes it put through six Bills. I have no desire to speak at very great length, but I think it is of vast importance to the people of the Commonwealth that this measure should be discussed. It is an extraordinary Bill in more ways than one. It is extraordinary in the fact that it is a Loan Bill which practically attempts to make the Commonwealth a seventh borrower, if not in the markets of the world, in some other way. It is still more extraordinary in the fact that it has reached the Senate under very extreme and unparalleled conditions. One would have thought that when it was introduced in another place the representatives of the people would have been given ample time to discuss its various provisions, but what do we find ? We find that out of all those gentlemen duly elected by the people to represent them, and in that branch of the Legislature which is popularly supposed to control the public purse, seven men were allowed to speak.
– Seven out of seventy-five !
– Seven out of seventy-five were allowed to speak.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in alluding to the proceedings in another place.
– May I ask, sir, if it is out of order for an honorable senator to speak of “another place”? I have always understood that the use of that phrase i/n debate here is quite permissible. At all events, if it is not permissible, it is a very common phrase which has been used here for years, and until now I had never heard its use challenged. I am quite aware that the standing order is clear that one must not mention the House of Representatives, but the phrase “ in another place “ has not, to my knowledge, been taken exception to before.
– You cannot go over the whole of the business that is done there; but, if you like, you may refer to the Votes and Proceedings.
– I should like to have the President’s ruling on the point, because I have always understood that “in another place” was quite a permissible phrase to use.
– On that point, sir, I desire to say a few words.
– Order ! At this hour of the night I do not desire the point of order to be discussed at further length, nor is there any need to do so. Under the Standing Orders honorable senators are forbidden to even allude to the debates in another place, or to reflect in any way on the proceedings in another place. The Standing Orders are clear and explicit on that point. We are the masters of our. conduct in this Chamber just as another place is in its Chamber, and the reason for the Standing Orders is very evident. It has always been the practice to allow an allusion to the proceedings in another place, but as regards any criticism or any reflection respecting the proceedings indulged in there, the invariable practice has been that it should not be permitted.
– May I ask you, sir, if you will read the standing order you have referred to for the guidance of the Senate ?
– The prohibition against any allusion to a debate in another place is contained in standing order 411, which reads as follows -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or to any measure impending therein.
That is clear and explicit. There is also a standing order which prevents any honorable senator from reflecting upon another place, or on any member of it.
– Will you, sir, read the standing order referring to “ another place,” because the one you have read relates to the House of Representatives?
– Of course, but every one knows-
– No, everybody does not.
– It has been merely a polite subterfuge in the Senate and in another place also to refer to the proceedings in “ another place.” Everybody is aware of the fact that when we refer to “another place” we mean the other branch of the Legislature, and within bounds that, has always been permitted, and I think ought to be permitted. But if the proceedings of the other branch were brought under review that might lead to endless trouble between the two branches. I think that the Standing Orders on the point, being clear and explicit, ought to be obeyed.
– Am I to understand, sir, that during the course of my speech to-night, or any other speech I may make, I must not use the words “ another place “ ?
– No. I have ruled only that there must not be any allusion to or criticism of the proceedings in another place. I have no desire to prevent the honorable senator if he wishes from making a casual allusion of that kind.
– Now that we know where we are, sir, I will proceed with my speech. I welcome the Loan Bill now that it has reached the Chamber where, at least, free, full, and fair discussion can be indulged in. I am very confident that there is no Minister of the Crown here who would dare to get up in the middle of my speech and move that the question be now put.
– No one would be so foolish.
– The history of this Bill has indicated that certain members of the Government were foolish, and I say that only seven persons were allowed to take any part in the discussion of it. However, if I pursue that line of argument I may again come into conflict with the Chair., If I am asked what are the principal items for which it is proposed to borrow money that I object to, I will be quite candid, and say at once that, along with other honorable senators on this side, there is only one item to which I have a decided objection, and that is the proposal to borrow money for the purchase of land for defence purposes.
– What about borrowing money for constructing conduits - for procuring bricks and weatherboards? ‘
– I am specifying now my decided and emphatic objection to one item . I shall take the other items as they arise for consideration.
– Do you object to borrow £1,200,000 to build the transcontinental railway ?
– I am emphasizing my decided objection to borrowing money for defence purposes.’ I care not whether it is to be borrowed from ourselves or from outside the Commonwealth. I want to remind the Honorary Minister of a time when, as a private member of the Senate, he opposed in very strong language a certain fusion that took place. I refer to the Fusion Government that he so eloquently denounced once on the floor of the Chamber. In the dying hours of the session of 1909 they brought in a somewhat similar Bill, except that the money proposed to be borrowed under its authority was to be spent on naval defence. I allude to the Naval Loan Bill. We have just been regaled by the honorable senator with a speech in which he said that the question of preference to unionists was a burning question at the last elections. I can say that at the elections of 1910 the question of borrowing money for defence purposes was certainly a burning, and very important, question.
– Hear, hear ! But he was only speaking of Tasmania, where small things burn into their souls.
– From every platform from one end of this country to the other Labour candidates denounced the borrowing of money for defence purposes.
– But the Labour Government borrowed it all the same.
– Every Labour member in this Parliament strenuously opposed that proposition. What was the result of the 1910 elections ? The result was that the Fusion Government went down with a heavy thud, and the Fisher Ministry were installed in power. One of their first acts was to repeal the Naval Loan Act, thus giving effect to the mandate of the people. Since then every item of expenditure in relation to defence has been paid for out of revenue. It is remarkable that the present Government, which came into office with such a flourish of trumpets, after denouncing the Fisher Ministry for having indulged in a financial drunk, should themselves indulge in a borrowing policy on top of a record Budget. Personally, I would welcome a double dissolution upon the proposal to expend £300,000 upon the acquisition of land for defence purposes. I would welcomeit upon that question more than upon any other. Important though the principle of preference to unionists may be,. I venture to say that if this Parliament were dissolved on the question of whether or not money should be borrowed for defence purposes, the electors would give their verdict in favour of those who said “ No.” We were told on the hustings during the recent election campaign that the Fisher Government had been extravagant. Time and again members of the Fusion party were asked to point to any item of expenditure in any Department which they would curtail if they were returned to power. But they were unable to do this. They were asked what particular Statute they would repeal in order to govern Australia cheaper, but no reply was forthcoming. They have been in office since the elections, but they have not dared to attempt to repeal any legislation which was enacted at the instance of the Fisher Government. They have not dared to repeal the land tax. So far as defence is concerned, I say that, up to date, we have practically t defrayed the cost of Australian defence out of the revenue derived from the land tax.
– Up to date?
– The Fisher Government accomplished that. The income derived from land tax for the year 1910- 11 was £1,370,344, for the year 1911- 12 it was £1,366,457, and for the year 1912-13 it amounted to £1,564,794, or a total of £4,301,395.
– It ought to be about £10,000,000 a year.
– I agree that it should be much larger. Thus we have practically paid for our defence out of the revenue derived from land tax. The present Government, however, propose to borrow money for defence purposes, and thus to make the toiler bear an additional burden. To-day he is asked to make himself fit physically and mentally to defend his hearth and home. He is prepared to give his life in defence of his home and of the property of his employer. Surely it should be sufficient that he is prepared to sacrifice his life, and, consequently, the employer should bear a heavier financial burden. To borrow money for the purposes of defence is a cursed business, and I make bold to say that no Government can justify such a course of procedure. If we adopt that policy in time of peace, what shall we do in time of war ? The position is unthinkable. The revenue which we derive in Australia is quite sufficient to defray the whole cost of our defence system. If it is not, it ought to be made sufficient. I have no other comment to make on the Bill. I consider that the other works set out in the schedule ‘to it’ are quite legitimate. I believe that they will prove to be of a reproductive character. Of course, it has been said that the Labour party object to borrowing. That statement, however, is not correct. The plank in our platform dealing with this matter has always been, “Non-borrowing, except for reproductive works.” With the exception of the proposal to purchase land for defence purposes and for the construction of conduits, and for laying wires underground, I think that all the other items in the schedule will commend themselves to honorable senators. A question which has occurred to me is whether Australia can be peopled, and its full resources made available, merely by the ex- penditure of revenue. I do not think that this can be done by that means. The time must inevitably come when, in order to develop our national resources, we shall be obliged to borrow. But I wish to see that development proceed on natural lines; and I fail to understand- how the Government can justify borrowing money for defence purposes. In this Bill they propose to appropriate £1,400,000 towards the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. Parliament has already set its imprimatur upon that work, which is now in progress. But, to my mind, the proposal to” expend £400,000 upon the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River and southwards in the Northern Territory deserves a little attention. I am anxious to see transcontinental railways, north and south, and east and west, completed as soon as possible ; but what I am concerned with chiefly is, whether the policy which is being pursued by the Government in starting operations only at the northern end of the line is the right .one. In the first place, I have to ask myself whether it is necessary that we should have a- transcontinental railway extending north and south. I say that it is absolutely essential. If we are agreed upon that point, what is the best way to carry ‘ out” the work ? Is it right to do it piecemeal, as the Government propose to do? I do not think so. If they were to come down to this Parliament and ask for a vote to enable them to construct that line from both ends simultaneously, they would be adopting a saner policy than they are following today. Some time ago we authorized the expenditure of a certain sum of money upon a survey of a portion of the proposed line. I would rather have seen its entire length surveyed, and then, at a later stage, we could have commenced the building of it systematically, starting simultaneously from either end. I feel somewhat inclined to oppose this item of £400,000. I think it is wrong to start the work from the north, especially in the absence of freezing works at Port Darwin. Such a line will not serve any mineral or pastoral interest in the Northern Territory. I ‘do not speak merely as one who has read of the Territory, but as one who visited it five or six years ago. I admit that the two months which I spent there were not sufficient to give me any great knowledge of its resources, but I have an idea of the country which the projected line will traverse. I say that, in the absence of freezing works at Port Darwin, the £400,000 which we are asked to vote for this line might just as well be thrown into the harbor there. If the Government will frankly avow their intention to construct freezing works at Port Darwin, and to commence building the line from both ends simultaneously, I am prepared to support them. In Committee I shall consider the items one by one; but at present my only objection to the Bill, as a whole, is based on the proposal to borrow £300,000 for the purchase of land for defence purposes. During the course of Senator Findley’s speech this afternoon, the Honorary Minister interjected that this land would become valuable. I have my doubts about this land for defence purposes becoming valuable. At North Fremantle, where there are forts, I know that property has depreciated in value as the result of the firing of the guns, and claims have been made by propertyowners for compensation. No man can justify the Commonwealth of Australia in borrowing money for defence purposes. I defy any member of the Government to put up a good case to justify a nation in its infancy making itself the laughing-stock of the world by borrowing for such a purpose, in times of peace. The Government should have followed the excellent example set by the late Administration in this respect. But I care not what Government are in power, as long as I have a place in the Senate, I will never vote for borrowing money for defence purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clause 3 (Purposes for which money may be expended).
– How is this money to be raised ?
– The money is to be derived from the Trust Funds, which we believe will be sufficient for that purpose.
– The Government think that there will be enough available without going on to the market?
Clause agreed to.
ItemI. For the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta,£1,400,000.
– With reference to this item, is it proposed to construct the line by day labour ?
– That question has often been asked, and the answer is - As far as is convenient, practicable, and economical.
Item agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence a paragraph published in the Launceston Examiner, of 2nd December, relating to the prosecution of a cadet. It reads as follows : -
Before the Police Magistrate (Mr. E..L. Hall), at the Police Court, yesterday, Royce Hodges was charged with having failed to render sufficient personal service, as required under the Defence Act. Defendant pleaded guilty. Lieutenant Davis stated that defendant was in a deficiency of twenty-four days for the year. Hodges explained that he was the sole support of his mother and sister, and it was hard for him to have to secure the necessary leave to attend the drills.He was a motor car driver, and did not know when he would be required to go on a trip. He would be willing, if given a chance, to make up the drills after Christmas. The case was adjourned for six weeks, in order to give the defendant a chance to complete the drills. He was ordered to pay 6s. 6d. costs.’ Colin Gilbert Conacher was arraigned on a similar charge. He pleaded guilty, and had nothing to say. He was ordered to pay 6s. 6d. costs, and was committed to the detention camp until the drills were made up.
If this were an isolated case, I should have brought it privately under the notice of the Minister of Defence, but it is as well to make public reference to it, because it appears to me that, for some time past, a number of cases have arisen in which officers do not seem to have shown that discretion which the Act intends that they should exercise. The case I have cited is a very hard one. Quite a number of similar instances have happened. It is just as well that officers should be given a gentle reminder by the Department that they ought to take a little more care in the exercise of their discretion. I should also like to bring under your notice, Mr. President, the fact that it might be well to move the curtains surrounding the Senate Chamber, as is usually done in hot weather. A number of honorable senators have been complaining of the stuffy atmosphere.
– Whilst a House of Parliament should be one of the first institutions in which regard should be paid to conveniences, it must be admitted that this building is one of the least up-to-date institutions in Melbourne. I believe that the parliamentary buildings were the last to be sewered. In many places in this city, it is usual in hot weather to have electric fans. I do not know what their cost is, but I certainly think that the conveniences of this building ought to be more carefully considered. I have heard it said that the vitiated atmosphere ‘ in another place may have been responsible for a calamity or two that have .occurred recently. Some time ago, one of the University professors was invited by the pressmen to visit this building, where, I believe, he took specimens of the atmosphere in this Chamber and in the House of Representatives. The tests showed that the atmosphere here was more vitiated than in any factory of which records had been taken I believe that the cost of effecting improvements would be almost infinitesimal, and it would be a great convenience if the appliances which to-day are in use in almost every important public building in the metropolitan area were introduced here.
Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) [10.151. - I should like to say, in connexion with the matter spoken of by Senator O’Keefe, that it would perhaps be well for the Minister of Defence to inquire into the prosecution of the lad Boy Hodges. 1 know the lad intimately, and have known him from his infancy. He is a very exemplary boy, and the conditions of his employment are peculiar. I received a direct communication about him, but as there seemed to be a case pending, and the matter was sab judice, I did not care to make any representations concerning it. Now that Senator O’Keefe has directed attention to” the fact that a prosecution has transpired, I must acquaint the Honorary Minister, as representing the Minister of Defence this evening, with the fact that, even while I was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, this lad considered that he was suffering great disability and injustice. The matter of allowing officers considerable discretionary powers in regard to prosecutions of this description ought to be very carefully considered, and instructions on the subject should be issued by the Minister of Defence. I do not wish to say anything upon the matter one way dr the other, except that the lad is an exemplary young fellow in every way, and- has a very keen sense of having laboured for many months past under a substantial injustice. It would be a graceful act on the part of the Minister to inquire into the circumstances which have led to this prosecution.
– The- matter brought forward by Senator Findley is not dealt with by any Ministerial Department, and I therefore do not propose to answer the honorable senator’s questions. They concern you, sir, and the House
Committee. With regard to the other matter, brought forward by Senators O’Keefe and Bakhap, I can assure them that I will bring the special case referred to under the notice of the Minister of Defence. I may add that I am aware that other cases have been brought under his notice. I quite recognise the trouble. It is desirable that there should be discretion exercised by these officers; but, at the same time, it is extremely difficult to set up a standard of discretion and to secure anything like uniformity in the treatment of these cases. Consequently, such cases are likely occasionally to crop up, as exercise of discretion in one case may be ignored in another. I have said that I will refer the matter to the Minister of Defence.
– Before putting the motion, I desire to say that I will pay attention to the representations of honorable senators as to the necessity of improving the air of this chamber. I shall give instructions to have the curtains removed. We will give that suggestion a trial, and see whether it will effect any improvement. With regard to other improvements, and the suggestion to exclude all outside air, I am informed that proper ventilation must be provided to enable the existing system to work at all. I shall have a further report made by competent officers, and see what can be done. I quite agree that it is essential that the air in the chamber shall be improved as much as possible, and, at all events, rendered very much better than it has been in the past.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131204_senate_5_72/>.