5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and road prayers.
– In view of the statement in this morning’s newspapers that a meeting of his party has been held, is the Leader of the Government here in a better position to-day to inform the Senate when it is likely to be called upon to resume its labours!
– I am in the same position this morning in regard to this matter as I was in last night.
– Is it not possible for another meeting of the Ministerialists to be held, so that pressure may be brought to bear on some of the representatives of New South Wales, and an agreement arrived at as to the autumn session which the Government apparently are anxious to have )
– There may be some practical value in the suggestion of the honorable senator, and I shall communicate with the Prime Minister.
– As varied opinions seem to have been expressed at the Ministerial meeting yesterday, will the Leader of the Government here tell the Senate which opinion prevailed, and whether the policy of the Liberal Government during the coming year is to be one of retreat or of advance?
– The motto and the policy of the Government with which I am associated is “ progress all the time.”
– Yes; into recess.
– The policy of the Government on this point has been clearly stated, and is, I think, quite thoroughly understood by the honorable senator. The chief point of our policy is that we object to the duplication that is going on. That question has yet to be considered. No decision, as the honorable senator is aware, has been arrived at.
– C - Can the Leader of the Government here give the Senate any idea as to the principal matters of Federal and State importance which they intend to bring before the proposed conference of State Premiers?
– I speak with some reservation when I say that I believe that the matters on which a consultation with the representatives of the States will be sought are the competition between Savings Banks, the matter of joint action re- gardiag the better utilization of the waters of the River Murray, the question of a uniform railway gauge, and the transfer of the State debts.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether, if the proposed conference between the representatives of the Commonwealth and of the State Governments is. held, a report of the proceedings of that body . will be printed and circulated amongst honorable senators.
– I do not think that I can give either an affirmative or negative reply to that question. In the past, when the State Premiers have met in conference, it has been the practice for some report of their proceedings to be issued. But when the heads of Governments meet to confer, the whole value of their consultations would be seriously minimized if their proceedings were carried on with shorthand reporters close at hand. I have no doubt, however, thatthe result jof the proceedings of any such conferencewill be supplied both to the Parliament and the country.
– The Leader of the Senate has intimated the subjects which will probably be discussed at the Conference between the Commonwealth and State Governments. I noticed that the honorable senator did not refer to the question of the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. Is it not proposed to confer with the Governments of the States on that subject with a view to avoid duplication of effort?
– I mentioned the subjects likely to be considered with some reservation and hesitancy. That referred to by Senator Pearce was not mentioned. I will submit the suggestion to my colleagues, and we shall consider whether it would be expedient to include it.
– I ask whether the Government will favorably consider the advisability of discussing with the representatives of the States’ Governments the adoption of some means to secure that the same electoral rolls may be used for State and Commonwealth elections? Some arrangement should be entered into to secure, if possible., the adoption of the same boundaries for electorates, and a better understanding generally in connexion with the enrolment of the people, whether as citizens of the Commonwealth or of the State.
– In answer to Senator Findley I may say that there is a provision in our electorallaw which contemplates what he proposes, but it has; so far, remained a dead letter, owing to the difficulties which arise through the differences of the franchise and of electoral boundaries. The electoral authorities of the Commonwealth are only too anxious to give effect, so far as possible, to the idea referred to, and the present Government will do what they can to bring about what would clearly make for economy.
– Has the Minister given consideration to the fact that it is not the difference of franchise or of electoral boundaries only, but the different representation in the various States which is the cause of the difficulty?
– These are the difficulties which, no doubt, have caused the State Governments to stand aloof up to the present in this matter. - All that I can say is that the idea of joint action is there, and the Commonwealth Government are endeavouring to steer towards it.
Supply of Sleepers : Contract with Western Australian Government : Progress of Work.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs tell the Senate what is the intention of the Government regarding the contract between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government for the supply of sleepers? Do they intend that the contract shall be observed to the letter, or, if not, will they give that State an assurance that they will be satisfied with the fulfilment of the contract, provided that no undue delay is caused in the construction of the transcontinental railway by its nonperformance? I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the State Government have gone to enormous expense to lay down a plant for supplying these sleepers.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in arguing the whole question.
– I am not arguing the question, sir, but simply making a statement for the information of the Minister. If the performance of the contract to the letter is insisted upon it will mean a great amount of ruin.
– Order ! The honorable senator is arguing the matter.
– The public interests, of course, must be the first consideration. There is no desire or intention to press hardly on the Western Australian Government. At the same time, the position is somewhat serious. This morning I made some inquiries, and ascertained that the margin of supply is; very narrow, and that it will not be very’ long before the supply in stock runs out.
– Do you know how many sleepers there are in stock?
– No. According to a return circulated this morning, contracts for the supply of 2,151,000 sleepers have been entered into. The Western Australian Government received a contract for the supply of 1,700,000 sleepers; that is over 80 per cent, of the total number. It will be seen that the construction of the line depends very considerably indeed upon the sleepers being supplied in accordance with the contract entered into with the State Government.
– What percentage have they delivered ?
– No sleepers have yet been delivered.
– Do you say that none have been delivered ?
– I understand that no sleepers have been delivered from the Western Australian Government. The contracts were delayed two months at each end to meet their convenience. Unless a supply of sleepers comes to hand the constructing authorities will either have to stop the works or be driven into the market, which may be cornered, and the price put up on them very considerably. We do not want either of these things to happen-
– The honorable senator is not entitled to argue the matter in replying to a question.
– I merely wish to put the position, sir. The Western Australian Government will be treated fairly and justly, subject to the conservation of the public interests, but we do not wish to see a large number of men knocked off the work for the want of a supply of sleepers.
– I rise to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs a question which I had intended to put before Senator Lynch rose. Seeing that he confesses the inability of the Western Australian Government to supply the sleepers required, will he take into consideration the desirability of giving Tasmanian timber a chance ? There are plenty of sleepers stacked in that State.
– Of course, if the * Government are compelled to go outside this contract, which I hope we shall not have to do, I shall bring before the constructing authorities the desirability of giving due consideration to the question of obtaining a supply of sleepers from Tasmania.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if during the course of the morning he will ascertain the exact number of sleepers which are on hand at either end of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta line ?
– I have made inquiries this morning, and I find that the number of sleepers on hand represents only, about three months’ supply - altogether too narrow a margin to work on with any degree of safety. That estimate is based upon the assumption that the construction of the line proceeds at the rate of 20 miles per month.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Kalgoorlie end of the railway?
– I am referring to both ends.
– Is it not a fact that the only tender in regard to which any delay has been experienced is that for the supply of powellised karri sleepers, and is it not also a fact that in regard to the contract for the supply of jarrah sleepers the Commonwealth Government requested the Western Australian Government to ease up the supply?
– I cannot answer that question off-hand, but I will endeavour to obtain the information.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council endeavour to get it in time to permit of it being supplied to this Chamber when the Appropriation Bill is under consideration ? ‘
– I shall be glad to do so.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is not a fact that there is a greater supply of sleepers than there - is of rails at the Kalgoorlie end of the line? I understand that sufficient sleepers are on hand to construct 70 miles of line, whereas the supply of rails is sufficient only for the construction of 50 miles of line ?
– I cannot answer that question. To-day I have been in communication with the officer who controls this business, and I obtained from him the information which I have already given. I will endeavour to get further information during the course of the morning.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs to a very lengthy paragraph which appears in this morning’s newspapers touching upon what is practically party politics, and evidently inspired by the Consulting EngineerinChief. In- that paragraph, statements are made regarding the transcontinental railway with which I do not agree, and I ask the Minister whether the Government are going to permit the Consulting
Engineer-in-Chief to obtrude his opinions upon party politics? Do they intend to allow an official to take part in the discussion of party political questions?
– The day before yesterday statements were made in this Chamber in which it was alleged that very slow progress was being made in the construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. A comparison was instituted between the rate of progress which has been made since the present Government took office and that which was previously made.
– The Government were not drawn into that question I can assure the honorable senator.
– I wrote to . the head of the Commonwealth Railways Department and requested him to supply me with a statement regarding the progress made during the six months which had elapsed since we took office as compared with that previously made.
– And the replies furnished to the Minister are absolutely false.
– The head of the Commonwealth Railways Department furnished me with the statement to which reference has been made. Any comments which appear in the press do not emnanate from me nor from the EngineerinChief, but from the press itself.
– I merely want the political field to be left to politicians, and I ask the Minister if he will inquire whether the figures contained in that statement regarding the amount of work done up to the time that Mr. Chinn was dismissed are accurate? I can assure him that they are absolutely false.
– So far as I am concerned, Mr. Chinn does not enter into this matter, nor was he in my thoughts. It was merely the statements made in this Chamber regarding the progress of the work of construction since the present Government took office which led me to ask for the information.
– I desire, to ask the Minister of Defence how far negotiations have proceeded in London towards the engagement of a manager for the Cockatoo Island dockyard?
– I hope to be able to announce in the course of a few days that those negotiations have been successfully completed.
– Arising out of the reply which has just been given, I ask the Minister whether it is a fact - as is rumoured - that the services of the present acting-manager of Cockatoo Island dockyard ar.e practically at an end, and that he has been informed that his engagement will terminate very shortly?
– Literally the rumour is not correct, but as a matter of fact it is. Mr. Cutler understands that he will be . relieved from the per formance of the duties of the office to which he was appointed some time ago as soon as a new manager arrives to take up the work.
Inman Valley Telephone Line: Vacant Land
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral if he has obtained the promised information in regard to a telephone line at Inman Valley, and also in regard to the vacant land adjoining the Adelaide Post Office?
– In regard to this matter I wish to say that a telegram was despatched to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in South Australia who was asked to furnish a reply as soon as possible. I expect that reply to reach me during the course of the day, and I shall be glad to let the honorable senator see it.
– I wish to ask the Honorary Minister whether payments under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act and the Maternity Allowance Act, which I understand are due about Christmas Day, will be paid before Christmas ?
– It has been decided to pay them a little earlier than Christmas.
Senator CLEMONS laid on the table the following paper: -
Patents Act 1903-1909 - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1913, No. 310.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 17th December, vide page 4607).
Department of the Treasury.
Divisions 15 to 26, £1,379,911.
– Can the Honorary Minister give the Committee any particulars with respect to the proposed conference between the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and the Treasurers of the States on the subject of the transfer of the State debts?
– I can give honorable senators no more information on the subject of this or any other conference than has already been given in reply to questions put to him by the Leader of the Senate. I have no doubt that if a conferenceis held, the question referred to by Senator Maughan, which is of considerable interest, will be brought up for consideration. I have no particulars as to the date of the holding of any conference with the representatives of the State Governments.
– I think that this may be the time to refer generally to the work of the Treasury Department. I feel it to be my duty to obtain some assurance from the Government as to when the pre-election pledges of. the Federal Treasurer will be carried out. When the right honorable gentleman was touring the western State he laid special emphasis upon the extravagance of the Labour Government—” Extravagance “ is a fine, big word. It is like the blessed word “ Mesopotamia,” and if it is used often enough and with sufficient emphasis, the chances- are that the person using it may be believed. Sir John Forrest, as well as other members of the Government, went round this country night and day and dinned into the ears of the electors this foundationless charge of extravagance on the part ot the Labour Government. What is the position? The denunciators of the Labour Government have brought down a schedule of expenditure which is greatly in excess of any expenditure incurred by the Labour Government. They propose this year to spend no less than £1,600,000 more than the Labour Government spent last year. The estimates of expenditure for 1913-14, sub mitted by the present Government, amount to £24,115,223, whilst the expenditure of the alleged extravagant Fisher Government for 1912-13 amounted to £21,507,863.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And what was their expenditure for the year before that?
– I am comparing the expenditure of the last year of the Labour Government with that proposed in the first year of this all-wise Government, who were going to set the financial house in order. The figures show that there is an increase in expenditure of something like 15 per cent, above the expenditure last year of the alleged extravagant Labour Government. What can we do with such men as these? We have had these able financiers going round the country denouncing alleged extravagance by the Labour Government, and they now come down to Parliament with a proposal to spend £1 ls. 6d. for every £1 spent by the Labour Government.
– They are going to spend the money judiciously.
– What expenditure have they cut down? I believe they have cut out the proposed expenditure on the laundry in the Northern Territory, but they have piled up expenditure in other directions. It is about time attention was drawn to the tactics adopted by some public men in Australia. It is about time the public were informed; how they have been deluded, especially by the Right Honorable Sir J ohn Forrest, P.C., K.C.M.G., LL.D., M.P., and so forth. He appears to have nearly all the letters in the alphabet to his name.. He will have to Begin to use Greek characters before long, for he will have exhausted the English alphabet. We all know his style of addressing the electors-
– I rise to order.. I wish’ to know whether it is fair to Hansard to expect these imitations of Sir John Forrest’s voice and manner to be reported ?
– Is it right for an. ‘ honorable senator to reflect upon an honorable member of another place, by imitating his voice and manner?
– I did not understand that Senator Lynch was casting any reflection upon Sir John Forrest. He was making a humorous allusion to him.
– It was never in my mind to make any reflection upon him.
– I may point out, however, that whilst this discussion is not actually out of order, Senator Lynch appeared to me to be travelling a little wide of the mark.
– I should like to put honorable senators right if they suppose that I intended to reflect upon Sir John Forrest. It worries me that I cannot properly imitate his style. Sir John Forrest, speaking in Western Australia in May last, indulged in several inaccuracies concerning the Labour party. He said -
The system they were following in finance was disastrous. £18,000,000 bad gone into the Federal Treasury during .the last two years, most of which would have gone into the States’ coffers. With this large increase of revenue, one .would have thought it would be an incentive to the Federal Government to” reduce taxation so that the States individually would have more money to build railways, and so open up and develop their country. His party was not in favour of this great taxation.
There was an intention, clearly revealed by the Treasurer, that if his party gained a majority in this Parliament, it would in some way reduce taxation. The electors of Western Australia and of the Commonwealth generally, were solemnly informed that that would be the result of a change of Government. They were told that when the Liberal party came into power there would be more money to hand over to the State Treasurers. If this Government has not reduced taxation, why not? Have they introduced any measure with the object of keeping faith with the electors? They have done nothing of the kind. On the contrary, their Budget shows that they have added 15 per cent, to the expenditure of the Commonwealth.
– I ask the honorable senator not to travel further along those lines. He is aware that it was in order on the first reading of this Bill to enter upon a general discussion. But we are now in Committee, and are considering the items in detail. The statements of the Treasurer in Western Australia have nothing to do with these details. We are not considering the salary of the Treasurer. Whilst it may be in order for Senator Lynch to refer to Sir
John Forrest by way of allusion, I ask him not to travel too far, at this time, in discussing the general lines of the Treasurer’s policy.
– I do not propose to waste the time of the Committee. I simply rose to point out the difference between the Treasurer’s declarations before the election and his policy since.
– That is a matter of policy which is not concerned with the details of this Bill.
– He made certain promises to the electors. We are now dealing with the Department controlled by Sir John Forrest, and I ‘thought that it was in order to point out that his performances do not square with his promises.
– We are not dealing with the salary of the Treasurer himself, but with the Department of the Treasury. Remarks concerning the personal statements of the Treasurer on policy would have been in order during the first-reading debate, but they can hardly be in order when we are discussing the Estimates of the Department of the Treasury.’
– Very well.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer, whether his attention has been called to a statement made by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Watt, at a meeting held at Essendon a short While ago, at which that gentleman’ stated that the best parents had not drawn the maternity allowance, meaning that the best parents were those who were the best circumstanced in life, and who, therefore, had no necessity for making application to, the Treasury. I *waa very much pained when I read that statement. I say, without hesitation, that it was an insult to the motherhood of Australia. If it meant anything it meant that those who are not the best circumstanced in life are not the best) parents. As a matter of fact, we know that the pioneers of Australia, the mothers of many of us, had to endure very great privations. From history we know that these pioneers were the very best of citizens, notwithstanding that many of them were poor. I wish to ask the Minister whether it is not a fact that the mothers of Australia, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor, have made application for the amount which can be claimed in the form of the maternity allowance. Can he at the same time tell us the number of births that have taken place in Australia during the last twelve months, and the number of applications made for the maternity allowance t
– Seeing that the Treasurer pays out the maternity allowance, and that he, while in Opposition, in common with other members of his party, so strenuously fought against the allowance becoming law, is it the intention of the Government to repeal that measure ?
– Senator Findley prefaced his question by referring me to a statement made by a gentleman whom I hardly know how to designate at the moment. He, of course, has a right to refer to Mr. Watt, but I think he will recognise my right as well as that of the Government to refuse to deal with these matters. Collectively and individually we have sinned so sufficiently, in the opinion of the Opposition, that it is not fair to ask us to bear the sins, verbal or otherwise, of anyone outside.
– Why not?
– Well, we cannot bear them. I am only too glad to give- the information desired. Senator Findley asked first the percentage of mothers who have taken the maternity bonus. According to the latest figures the percentage was between 90 and 93. The honorable senator also asked me the total number of births in the Commonwealth last year. The number can be ascertained by dividing the amount paid, £650,000, by five. If to 130,000 he will add, say, 10’ per cent, for the births in respect of which the bonus “was not claimed, he will find that the total is, roughly speaking, 143,000. With regard to Senator Needham ‘s questions, the policy of the Government .is, I think, stated very clearly in the Ministerial statement which was presented at the beginning of this session; but should any doubt be entertained, let me repeat that our policy is that we do not believe in paying the maternity bonus to people who do not need it.
– It is not a bonus.
– I will use any word the honorable senator likes.
– It is not a bonus, but an allowance. v
– It is not the policy of the Government to pay the maternity allowance to people who do not need it because of their circumstances. On the other hand, it is not our policy to do away with the payment of the allowance to people who are deserving of it.
– I desire to refer to a matter which is of great importance to those who are affected. I allude to the distribution of forms in connexion with an application for an old-age or invalid pension. I can quite understand that in a comparatively small and compact State like Victoria no difficulty is experienced by people in country districts. That remark may also apply to Tasmania, but not to the larger States. During my recent campaign in Queensland a large number of persons urged me to bring this matter under the notice of Parliament as soon as possible. In the country districts particularly, no little difficulty is experienced by applicants in obtaining the proper forms, and this is a serious matter to them. It is not a question only of getting the forms, but also of filling them up. Again, a good deal of time is occupied in making police inquiries, and then every application has to go to the Chief Commissioner in Melbourne before it can be approved of. Every facility, I think, should be offered to the pioneers in country districts of the great States to get these forms without any delay. I cau quite understand that a similar state of things prevails in New South Wales and Western Australia. I am not blaming the Deputy Commissioner for Queensland in any way, but merely suggesting that a general order should be sent all over Australia that every facility should be offered to people not only to get forms promptly, but also to get applications dealt with promptly. I trust that the Minister representing the Treasurer will help us in this direction, for by doing so he will confer a benefit on some thousands of persons who may be called upon later to apply for a pension.
– This is a question which I think is well brought up by any honorable senator no matter where he- sits. I shall get in touch with the Treasury to-day and try to find out what are the facilities offered, and what the want represents. I shall do my utmost to bring about a state of things which the honorable senator’s question has indicated is desirable, and which, to my mind, seems eminently desirable. I appreciate such a question, because I hope that some usefulness will come out of it.
– The salaries which we are asked to vote for the Land Tax Office amount to £29,142, whilst the contingencies amount to £51,775. I do not rise to find fault with the amount set down for the Department, but to get a little information in respect to one or two items. For temporary assistance, £12,500 is required. What kind of temporary assistance is availed of in connexion with the operation of the Land Tax Act ? Again, under the head of contingencies, £10,200 is required to meet “ travelling expenses for valuations including upkeep of motor oars.” I have no doubt that the Honorary Minister will be able to give us particulars regarding these two items, and to tell us the States in which the major portion of the expenses is incurred.
– I have made an inquiry about theso items. Senator Findley will recognise that on account of the fluctuating work in connexion with the Department there may be considerable pressure at one time, and comparative idleness at another time. That is why that amount for contingencies is put down.
– The two items of “temporary assistance” and “travelling expenses “ for the Land Tax Office make a total of nearly £23,000.
– The honorable senator knows that to arrive at the valuations in a huge continent like Australia enormous distances have to be travelled. The Department believe, and I think that they are justified in believing, that this large item which is mostly in connexion with the upkeep of motor cars, represents the most economical way of ascertaining the valuations. If the honorable senator will allow his imagination to run a bit in the direction of the enormous distances over which estates have to be valued he will see that this is not an abnormal expenditure.
– To whom do the motor cars belong - to the Government or to private people - and who pays for their upkeep ?
– The motor cars, I understand, are largely used for the purpose of enabling these, valuations to be made. The motor cars are not owned by the Department, but, in order to insure economy, the question of purchasing is under consideration. At the present time the motor cars are hired by the Department.
– Such a large amount is asked for “ travelling expenses for valuations, including upkeep of motor cars,” that I think we ought to be supplied with fuller information. We ought to be told how many motor cars are engaged from time to time, and the charges for hiring. If excessive charges are made for the hire and upkeep of motor cars for this Department, then the Government should purchase motor cars, because that probably would be found to be more economical.
– That is under consideration.
– I do not know at present how many motor cars are in use, where they are used, or what the charges per day are. The charges may be excessive.
– If I were ready this morning to supply Senator Findley with this information it would represent an enormous mass of details. He knows what enormous distances these motor cars have to travel over. This item of £10,200 represents an aggregation of hundreds of items. May I call the attention of the honorable senator to the items in the Estimates of his own Government. If he turns to the Estimates for last year he will find that the items under the head of Land Tax Office included “temporary assistance,” £12,500; “valuation fees and expenses other than travelling,” £19,500; and “travelling expenses for valuations, including upkeep of motor cars,” £10,800. This procedure has been going on for some time.
– As a matter of fact, we spent £14,000.
– If Senator Findley will only throw his memory back to last year he will recollect that this is neither an abnormal item, nor anything that represents concealment.
– On page 36 of the Estimates of revenue and expenditure I notice an item of £1,679 for allowances to blind persons not qualified to receive pensions under the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Acts.
– That was the expenditure for last year.
– The item is not included in the schedule to the Appropriation Bill, and that is why I desire to get some information. I know that the last Government gave a small allowance to a number of blind people - not anything like the full pension, but an allowance which is practically a supplement to the wage they were able to earn. . They kept out of the institution, and did some work to maintain themselves as far as possible. The last Government supplemented their earnings to the extent of nearly £2,000 last year, but no item for that purpose is included in the schedule to this Bill.
– On page 36, under the head of “ Miscellaneous,” I. notice an item of £2,000 for remission of fines under the Land Tax Assessment Act. I want to know if the Commissioner had imposed fines on persons who had taxes to pay and afterwards refunded the money.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - These people have been, perhaps, a few days late in sending in their returns.
– I am only asking for information, because it seems strange to me to impose fines totalling £2,000 and afterwards to refund the money. Is there any information available as to why the fines were refunded.
– I have not the detailed information for which Senator Findley asked, nor could I well get it except in the nature of a return. When I tell him how the thing happens he will understand the position.. The Land Tax Act provides for the imposition of penalties which are set out, and have, to be primarily enforced. Senator Findley will probably remember that in that Act we adopted a procedure which is common to most Acts. We reserved to ourselves a discretionary power in. the administration of the Act to investigate cases in which a fine had to be imposed under the law,’ and to see whether there were any. extenuating circumstances which justified the remission of . the fine. Jt is a common practice to remit fines. In answer to the question put by Senator Turley, I wish to say that when the item to which he referred appeared previously, a special appropriation was necessary. Since then an Act has been passed which renders the adoption of that course unnecessary.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Divisions 27 to 32, £56,155, agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Divisions 33 to 39, £676,530.
– This Department embraces the Northern Territory and its development, and while I am not disposed to offer anyunfriendly criticism of these estimates, , I wish to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs to the need which exists for encouraging on a systematic scale the mining industry in that Territory. Let me point to a case by way of illustration. There is the Tanami gold-field, which,, of course, is approached from the port of Wyndham. I have been in close touch with the men who discovered that field - with Mr. Laurie and others, who havebeen working there for the past eight or nine years. Tanami is, I suppose, the most outlandish part of this continent. These men, until quite recently, when the late Government granted them a two-monthly mail service, enjoyed absolutely no postal facilities. They havehad no assistance given them to determine what mineral wealth exists there. It is true that after a long tug-of-war I succeeded in getting the Government Geologist to visit the field with a view to ascertaining what are its mineral resources, and whether there are any prospects which warrant the encouragement, of deep sinking, and the erection of a public battery. Coming, as I do, from Western Australia, I have no hesitationin saying that the Commonwealth Government does not approach withinmeasurable distance of the WesternAustralian Government in the matterof the encouragement which it affords to the mining industry. I want specially to emphasize the fact that* the mining industry is always the pioneering industry in any country. When the mineral resources of any field become exhausted the people who have been getting; their livelihood there turn their attention to other pursuits, and thus help to populate the neighbourhood. At Tanami there are ten men working in the industry, without even adequate police protection. Quite recently the blacks came along and engaged in a tribal war on the sand plain just outside this place. A number of the combatants upon both sides were killed, and the blacks sent a message to Mr. Laurie that he and his mates would be the next victims. These !ten miners have been holding the fort for the rest of Australia for the past eight or nine years. They have been subsisting on the hardest of fare, and running the risks which are always attendant upon pioneering life in Australia. Only a little time back Mr. Laurie’s mate went out towards the Wave Hill station for the purpose of securing provisions, and perished on the track. That circumstance in itself is indicative of the heroism of these men, who, up to the present moment, have not even adequate police protection. The Government Geologist has recently been examining the field, and I am glad to say that the present Government have expedited that work very materially. We all hope that his inquiries will prove that Tanami is a mineral field of great promise indeed. Not only do its mineral resources need to be developed, but we require to settle a prosperous population in that neighbourhood. When we consider what the Government of Western Australia do to encourage the mining industry we must admit that the policy pursued by the Commonwealth Government in this connexion is not creditable to them. The men at Tanami are dollying sufficient gold to provide themselves with a livelihood, and to hold the fort there for the remainder of Australia. They are 250 miles distant from any other centre, of population. I say that they should’ have adequate police protection without delay, and that they should also be provided with better mail communication. I should like to see them supplied with a monthly service. Above all, the Government should not be niggardly in their encouragement of the mining industry. It would be well if we even borrowed money to encourage that industry in the Northern Territory.
– It would be reproductive in every way.
– The men who go out into these remote areas are really the salt of our population. Their services cannot be too highly appreciated, and we cannot go too far in the direction of providing them with the conveniences of civilization.
– In regard to Papua, I notice in this division an item of £12,500 for the development of oil fields. I would like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs whether the Government contemplate allowing private firms to obtain control of these oil fields?
– Monopolistic control 1
– Any sort of control. I have information that syndicates are being formed in Melbourne to-day whose avowed object it is to obtain oil concessions in Papua. We know that oil has been discovered there. I say that if the Government barter away any of that oil land under the impression that they are reserving sufficient for themselves, they may afterwards discover that they have parted with the land which contains the supply. That has happened before in the history of oil fields. I understand that the Government have secured the services of an expert who ia making a geological report upon the subject. I would remind them that 14,000 tons of oil will be annually required for the Navy, and that the British Government are making most extraordinary efforts to secure control of certain oil supplies. This is not a question of party at all, but one of self-preservation. I trust that the Government will be able to give us an assurance that they have no intention of allowing any of this oil land to get into the hands of private enterprise.
– Whilst the Government are glad to have had thu warning by Senator Pearce, I can assure the honorable senator that their eyes are wide open to the possibility of the dangers he has referred to. They will allow no carelessness on their part which may lead to any development unfavorable to the interests of the Commonwealth. The possibility of the opening up of the oil-fields of Papua is being . very closely watched. Nothing in the shape of concessions has so far been,, or . is likely to be, given by the present Government. I can go further, and say with safety that until, in the opinion . qf. the Government, it is established asli5a fact that the oil deposits are of such an enormous extent as to provide an excess of supply over and above all possible requirements of the Commonwealth, there will be no mishandling of this question. The Government can be trusted not to relax their vigilance in the matter.
– Provided the deposit turns out to be of value, does the Minister think that, without an alteration of the Constitution, it will be possible for the Government to sell oil to the people of Australia?
– The Government have no doubt on that point. I represent in the Senate the Minister of External Affairs, and honorable senators will understand that, even though he had not a predilection in that direction, a Minister in the Senate representing a colleague in another place, would insensibly take an active interest in the Department he represents in the Senate. I may tell Senator Lynch that I have listened to his remarks with interest and sympathy. I very much dislike a reference to personal matters, but I can say that I come from a State where prospecting in difficult country has been going on for many years, and I may add that I am something in the nature of an amateur prospector myself. I know the difficulties well from intimate personal experience. I know the hardships which prospectors have to undergo in the development of the mining resources of Australia. I also know - and it is an instance of many injustices in this world which are beyond our control - that prospectors usually get a very poor reward for their labours. I take a great interest, as well as all do, in the difficulties presented in the development of the Northern Territory, and I coincide with Senator Lynch in the opinion that there is hope for the Commonwealth of some return from the Northern Territory if attention is specially directed to the .question of mining prospecting. _ I assure the honorable senator that I shall do all I can in the direction he has suggested.
.- I should like to have some information in connexion with items appearing in Division 36, covering the expenditure in the Northern Territory. Under subdivision 38, dealing with railways and transport salaries, there is a vote set down of £13,845. That seems to me to be an extraordinary amount for the upkeep of a railway on which three trips a week are made over 140 miles, which gives a train mileage of only 43,680 miles a year. I notice a vote of £300 for a draughtsman in the same subdivision. I recently had in my possession a drawing that came from, this office, through the assistant engineer, for the building of a bridge, and it might have been the work of an apprentice. It was not a drawing, but a pen scratching. I find that £11,000 is set down for riding ganger, foreman, drivers, guards, porters, and others. When I travelled by train up. there we had no porter or guard on the train at all. The extent of the vote required for this railway service is a proof that the railway and transport services in the Northern Territory need remodelling as quickly as possible. I do not wish to cast any reflections on the capabilities of the gentleman in charge, but I think that he might be better. I should like some explanation of what appears to me an extremely high vote for salaries.
– I have not with me the details of the vote, but I remind Senator McDougall that the £11,000 to which he referred represents practically an aggregation of wages. Subject to the payment of proper wages to men working in the Northern Territory, the Minister, aided by the officials in charge, is doing his best to carry on the railway economically. The honorable senator knows that wages must be higher in the Northern Territory than elsewhere in the Commonwealth. I shall try to refer the matter to the Minister of External Affairs before we close, and may, obtain detailed information of the vote. The vote to which’ the honorable senator specially referred represents, as I have said, an aggregation of wages, and is based upon similar estimates which have been submitted all through.
– I wished todraw attention to some things that want looking into badly.
– They will be looked into.
– This is one of those Departments which show a very considerable increase upon the figures of last year. The
Minister in charge of the Bill might inform the Prime Minister and other members of the Government that in spite of all the promises made to reduce expenditure in connexion with the great State Departments, in eight out of nine of them ‘ the expenditure proposed is considerably in excess of that proposed last year. The excess in the case of this Department amounts to £144,000. I direct attention to the vote of £50,000 for immigration, and also the vote of £24,000 for the High Commissioner’s Office. These votes are practically interwoven, since we know that the High Commissioner has supreme authority in regard to immigration affairs. It occurs to me as strange that, although this money is annually apportioned by Parliament, we are continually told by .distinguished visitors from the Old Land that a tremendous amount of ignorance prevails in the Old Country with regard to Australian, conditions. We are spending about £25,000 a year on the High Commissioner’s Office, and each of the States is represented by an Agent-General, involving considerable annual expenses to the taxpayers, and yet we have a visitor like Lord Emmott telling us in the Queen’s Hall here only lately of the tremendous amount of ignorance prevailing with regard to conditions in Australia. Who is to remove that ignorance if it is not the High Commissioner and the States Agents-General? We vote every year methodically and carefully large sums of money to maintain the High Commissioner’s Office in London, and the various State Parliaments do the same in connexion with the Departments of their Agents-General. Yet Lord Emmott, speaking here, said -
I am absolutely appalled by the stories I have heard of British ignorance with regard to your conditions. Ignorance of that kind is lamentable, and naturally Australians are sensitive about it.
I shall not quote at length at this stage of the session, but I ‘trust that the Government will, before Sir George Reid returns to the Old Country, impress upon him the importance of’ exerting himself perhaps a little more than he has done before in the direction I have indicated. It is all very fine for Sir George Reid to visit various parts of the Commonwealth and different parts of the United Kingdom enjoying social functions, to which I have no particular objection. I do not wish to be misunderstood on that point. But I do desire to say that there is a strictly business side of the High Commissioner’s Office, and I submit that for the large amount of money annually voted by this Parliament and the State Parliaments, we should get far better results than we do. I have referred to the large vote which is appropriated every year for immigration. This is a very fascinating subject, but there is no time now to deal with it in extenso. Every year the Australian Governments will find it much more difficult to obtain immigrants, and especially those we require to settle upon our land. This will be so because the Imperial Government are introducing Liberal legislation to such an extent that -people who desire to get on to the land in the Old Country are being offered better facilities than they have ever had before. I am specially dealing with the matter from the farmers’ point of view. I know that in my own State we hear a constant cry that population is wanted, particularly of the farming class - men with small capital and farm labourers. What do we find ? Instead of farm labourers being brought to Australia, we are bringing thousands of mechanics here. We find, as I did in Queensland only the other day, that men who come out to Australia ostensibly as farm labourers, go to the offices of the different AgentsGeneral and obtain free passages under the guise of farm labourers, when, as a matter of fact, they are mechanics. They go down to Kent and pick hops for a season, and then say that they are agricultural labourers. They fill up a form in the High Commissioner’s Office and ace sent out to Australia as such. But when they get here, do they go on to the farms:? No; they gravitate to the cities and find employment and a warm welcome in foundries and workshops. They are nothing more nor less than -skilled mechanics. Some discrimination . should be exercised by the officers in London as to the class of persons sent out to Australia. It is going to be a difficult thing to get farm labourers in a few . years, because the Labour party, and men like Mr. Lloyd George, are insisting on advanced Liberal legislation which will bring about such a condition of life and labour as will make farm life more attractive. We shall, therefore, he cast on our own resources very largely for farm labour. The sooner our greater States are subdivided the better it will be for Australia. After all, the best farm labourers we can get are Australians. Unfortunately, there are too few of them. While I was a member of the State Parliament of Queensland, I do not think that a week went by but I was besieged by young men who wanted to leave the farms of Queensland and get positions in the Public Service, in the mounted police, and so forth. That was the common experience of my colleagues also. I have no fault to find with the High Commissioner. I believe him to be an eminently’ capable man. But in view of the enormous amount of money spent upon the High Commissioner’s office I think we ought to get better results. I heartily congratulate Sir George Reid on his excellent report. It is- a very interesting document indeed, and if time had allowed the discussion of it I should have very great pleasure in commenting upon some portions of it. But at the same time there should be a more serious aspect to the administration of Sir George’s Department. If we are to attract people from the Old Country we shall have to get them under a different system from that which prevails now.
– The item which has been discussed opens up a very large question. I doubt whether we are going the right way to work to induce people to come to our shores. I realize that before Australia can be effectively held, and properly developed, we must have a larger population. But we ought to be very careful as to the class of people whom we induce to come. What occurs just now is this: There are representatives of the different States in Great Britain, whose business it is to see how many people they can send to Australia, independently of ‘ the class of people sent out. The system is haphazard. It is essential that we should evolve a judicious scheme of immigration. At the present time we have a number of competing schemes. I doubt whether any State of Australia would object to the Commonwealth taking control of the whole matter. Our Government should find the money and make representations in the Old World as to- the advantages and resources of Australia. At present the different systems clash with each other and do not produce creditable results. We have the representative of Victoria saying that that State is better than Western Australia, and vice versa. We are now a nation. We are one people. We have one National Govern-, ment. We have a national representative in the person of the High Commissioner. He should have control of the whole immigration system, and the States should be relieved of any further cost in connexion with it. I suggest that at a conference between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments this question should be mentioned with the object of the Commonwealth taking full control and relieving the States entirely of the work. In common with other people, I have the greatest regard for Sir George Reid as High Commissioner. But what troubles me is this : Is he doing all that he ought to do in order to keep Australia before the eyes of the people of England? I admit that he is doing it in one way. He is well known in London, but I want to see Australia kept well before the eyes of the people of the English provinces. With all deference to Sir George Reid’s popularity and undoubted ability, I do not think that he is doing that. The cables to the Australian newspapers undoubtedly keep Sir George Reid before the eyes of the people of this country, and one might think that he was doing a great amount of practical work. But when one reads English newspapers, and speaks to men from Great Britain, one finds that Sir George is practically unknown in the provinces. Australia is unknown there. The newspapers published in the provinces contain scarcely any information as to the conditions prevailing in Australia. That is a vital point. I can speak feelingly upon the subject. Some years ago I determined to come to Australia. I had considerable ‘ trouble, and spent a lot of time in obtaining any information about the country. I wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and got from that office ‘ two or three little circulars giving some flimsy particulars.
– That was prior to Federation.
– It was in 1901, the year when the Commonwealth was established. I can understand such a state of things existing then, but I cannot understand it twelve years after Federation, when we have a High Commissioner, with an office and a staff. I do not object to the vote for his office. I do not object to the High Commissioner himself. But I do urge that more attention should be devoted to the British provinces. Sir George Reid should do a little more than attend dinners in London, and make after-dinner speeches. They are good and enjoyable speeches, but practical work is not being done as it should be done. I hope that the Government will take steps to bring the question of immigration before the proposed Conference of Commonwealth and State Governments with the idea of the Commonwealth taking control of the whole question.
– In connexion with the vote of £3,750 for the survey of the north-west coast of Australia, I wish to inquire whether that is the only provision made in the Estimates for the purpose.
– A considerable amount of work in that respect is being done by the Trade and Customs Department.
– I notice an item of £6 for the International Congress on Entomology. If only £6 was asked for, it is all right, but it seems a miserable amount.
– I think that is a balance left over.
– If that be so, I have nothing further to say.
– I may as well reply to what has been said about the High Commissioner’s office. Let me take first what Senator Maughan has said on immigration. I agree, I think, with every word he has said on this subject. If I diverge at all from him, it is in thinking that he was a little more generous in the attitude he took up with regard to the importance of social functions than I should be inclined to be. As for the rest, he has pointed out what I am perfectly certain are the facts and sound considerations in connexion with the question of immigration. I agree with him entirely that what we do want are capable men who are willing to settle on the land. I admit that, so far as we can ascertain, the ultimate destination of the immigrants that we desire - their settlement on the land - is not being obtained to-day. I am willing to go farther afield, and to look at the conditions at Home. I have already arrived at Senator Maughan’ s conclusion. The position in England is that she is seriously waking up to the necessity of retaining her people to cultivate and to develop her own lands. England is undergoing in that respect a complete and very happy transformation, if I may express an opinion on English affairs. The result of that waking up, I believe, will be good for England, but it will have an effect on the question of emigration -to Australia. I do not believe that we shall be able, even if we do everything possible to stimulate their coming, to get as many immigrants from England to settle on our land as we might want. Furthermore, there has been - and this has affected England largely - a great flow of population into Canada. These two matters taken together will seriously affect the future prospect of immigration. As regards what Senator Needham said about the conference, I will let my colleague express himself on that point.
– Will you state your own opinion ?
– I agree that if it could be brought about it would be a desirable thing, but there are many points to be considered. It is desirable as a subject for discussion, just as, for instance, the standard gauge or the transfer of the State debts; but in each case we have to confer with the States, and to bring them to a condition of agreement.
– It is worthy of submission to the conference.
– Undoubtedly it is, and as far as I can do anything it will be submitted.
– Thank you.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Divisions 40 to 80, £2,817,714.
– I have rather an important matter to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence. He knows that regarding the supply of ammunition there is a contract with the Colonial Ammunition Company. The Department, I think, provides the material out of which thecartridges are made. I hold in my hand a nickel cup which is imported in this shape, and dealt with at the factory.
This cup is, I understand, part of a consignment which has been brought out by the Department. But in any case, it shows already a flaw in the interior. It is supposed to have been inspected at the War Office in England, and to have been passed there along with a number of cups. The cup is drawn out to form the easing of the bullet. The effect of the flaw or lamination is to cause a lamination of the bullet itself. Here is a bullet actually taken from those manufac- tured at the Colonial Ammunition Company’s works, showing an outside lamination or split. It is, to all intents and purposes, a dum-dum bullet, which in international affairs is prohibited by the Articles of War. I am informed that these bullets are being manufactured by the Colonial Ammunition Company, and that some 50 or 60 tons of imported nickel cups, showing these laminations, have recently been condemned, owing to the flaws revealing themselves after the bullets had been made.
– Does it matter very much whether a man is killed by one kind of bullet or another?
– I am not bringing up that point.
– It is a question of whether a man is mutilated, and not killed.
– If the Department is importing this material, which has been inspected for it by the War Office, fell© latter has been guilty of gross negligence in allowing faulty material to be sent out. I think that the Minister will find, on inquiry, that the Department is paying a substantial sum to’ the War Office for the inspection of warlike! material. I do not desire to labour the point, but ask the Minister to ascertain if the facts as related to me are correct? In connexion with this matter another point came under my notice. >. I asked, naturally, if there was not an inspector for the Defence Department at the works of the Colonial «Ammunition Company, and I was told that there was no such official there, and that the inspection takes place after the cartridges are fully made up and taken over to the Maribyrnong magazine. The cartridges are cased, and sent over there in packages, and there they are inspected by the officials. There should, I think, be an inspector at the Ammunition Works. I was always under the impression that there was. I intend to leave these samples with the Minister, who, I know, cannot be expected to reply off-hand. I ask him to sift the statements which have been made to me, and which I have repeated just as they were made, without, of course, vouching for their accuracy. I thought it was my duty to bring them before the Senate.
– A few days ago I asked a question regarding the apparent chaos at the Ordnance Stores at Queen’s-bridge. The Minister said that inquiries were being made into the matter, and though I have carefully examined a pile of papers laid on the table of the Library for another place, I do not. see that anything definite has been arrived at. I want to draw the Minister’s attention to what, to my mind, are two conflicting statements that have apparently been issued from the Auditor-General’s Department. On the 9th December, in a report to the Treasury, the Acting Auditor-General said -
No stock lists for the period ending 31st December, 1912, have been submitted to the Audit Office, and from the explanation of the Senior Ordnance Officer appearing in paragraph 11 of the attached report it is doubtful whether stock had been properly taken.
Clearly, the Acting Auditor- General was under the impression that no stock lists for the period ending 31st December had been issued to any of his officers for the purpose of checking these particular goods at the Ordnance Stores; but, in contradistinction to his report, I find, on consulting the file, that on the 8th December, Mr. James Gough, audit examiner, presented the Auditor-General with a report, in which he states, inter alia -
On the 2 1st May last it was pointed out to the secretary, Department of Defence, that the discrepancies between the actual stock and the ledger balances at the Ordnance Stores as at 1 st January, 1913, had not been ascertained up to that time by the ordnance officers, and although regular reminders were sent and further reports were also rendered to the Department (vide paragraph 10), no replies have been submitted, nor have the lists yet come to hand.
There is, apparently, a conflict between the Acting Auditor- General and the audit examiner. The former says that the stock lists had been examined, while the latter says that, although they ha’d repeatedly, since the 21st May last, asked the Secretary for Defence for these particular stock lists, they had not been obtainable up-to-date Can the Minister say why the Secretary to his Department has not replied to the Auditor-General’s communication regarding the alleged shortages of goods and irregularities that commenced as far back as the 21st May? I would like the Minister to try to clear up this question of the nonproduction of the stock sheets, because there seems to, be something wrong in the Ordnance Department. I do not suggest, or think, as some persons- imply, that there has been some deliberate pilfering of the goods which come under the control of the Defence Department; but the question has been raised by Mr. Mathews in another place, and given a good deal of prominence in the daily press. I feel sure that the Minister, like every other member of this Parliament, is only too anxious to learn that there has been nothing wrong as regards the keeping of the stocks at the Ordnance Stores. When I asked a question on the 9th December, he promised that an inquiry would be held. 1 feel sure that he will carry out his promise, as far as he is able to do so : but seeing that there is a conflict amongst the officers of the different Departments, and knowing that sometimes the Departments work hand in glove with each other, does he not think it is necessary that an independent investigation should be conducted by an auditor who has nothing to do with -Government Departments in any form ? I do not wish to labour this question. I know that the Minister is doing his best to elucidate this trouble. But I believe there is something wrong in the Department. This discrepancy ought not to exist, although I understand that when the Auditor-General made his second audit it had been materially reduced. Something is seriously wrong when he states that there is a discrepancy of 991 shirts, 1,174 hats, 936 hat bands, 3,984 -water bottles, 4,099 yards of hessian. and 1,542 targets.
– Is it not one of the main duties of a soldier to learn how to forage ?
– I do not wish to see officers connected with the Defence Department placed under the stigma of -foraging. I feel sure that the Minister will give this matter his attention. Considering the varying aspects of the case which have been presented, I am of opinion that there should be an impartial investigation, with a view to discovering whether this stock has actually been stolen, or whether the discrepancies are merely bookkeeping errors.
.- Whilst I cannot speak definitely at this stage, -I feel quite convinced that there has been no fraud worth speaking of committed at the Ordnance Stores in question. Already we are beginning to discover that the apparent discrepancies are due to the incompetence of those who handle the stores. They are largely the result of bookkeeping errors rather than of any shortage of stock. Let me put before the Committee a case which actually occurred during the endeavours to trace these discrepancies. One list was presented to the Department which showed a deficiency of 3,984 articles. The ordnance officer was thereupon communicated with by telephone, and asked if he had any explanation to offer. He then stated that the number of articles missing was not 3,984, but 3,546 - a difference of 400. He was then asked to put his statement in writing. Apparently before doing so he made a recount, because lie then reported that there were 4,995 articles missing. Subsequently the Department sent other officers to investigate the matter, and they discovered that there were 4,746 articles in the store, making, not a deficiency, but a surplus of 500 over the ledger accounts. The trouble is that we had no regular staff there. The men comprising it are merely temporary employes, whose services cannot be retained long enough to efficiently train them. The fact that they are taken on for short periods means that the Department does not get the services of the best men. The result is that it is in a more or less chaotic condition. That is shown by the fact that some time ago Senator Pearce decided to secure from the Old Country an officer for the purpose of re-organizing the Department. I hope that from his report we shall gain some inspiration as to how we should proceed.
– Is not the Minister going to discontinue the wretched system of bringing men out from Home?
– The honorable senator must recognise that there are certain things which can be learnt from men outside. When Senator Pearce decided to do what he did, in my judgment he did the right thing. We have been ‘running an Ordnance Department without trained men.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That so much of the Sessional Orders be suspended as will prevent the Senate from resuming its sitting at 2 o’clock.
Senator Lt.-Colonel . O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [2.1]. - I wish to explain the facts relating to a question which I put to the Minister of Defence a day or two ago. That question related to the Military Depot at Keswick, in South Australia. The claim of the Unley Corporation, within whose bounds the depot is, is that, owing to certain works which have been carried out by the military authorities, storm waters have been diverted, and these have caused considerable damage to the roadway in that corporation. It is also asserted that a pipe which has been placed in the drain running through the property is utterly inadequate for drainage purposes. I may say that on the site of this military depot there wa’s a natural creek which previously carried away all the storm waters. Portion of this creek has been covered over in the course of the works undertaken by the Military Department, which has put in only a 5-ft. pipe, that, it is contended, is inadequate to carry off the drainage. The reply which was given to a question which I put last week in reference to this matter reads -
There is no foundation for the statements as to the failure of the surface drainage at the Military Dep6t. On the contrary, complete proof of its efficiency is said to have been afforded during the recent abnormal downpour of rain.
That statement is incorrect. On the 26th October last, when there was riot by any means an abnormal downpour but a rainfall of only half an inch, this pipe proved quite inadequate to carry away the drainage. The result was that the creek was affected by the flood waters for quite half a mile behind the spot where the pipe has been laid down. Further, a culvert which has been erected further back on the watershed drained by the pipe is of three times ‘ the capacity of the pipe put in by the military authorities, and this has only been found sufficient to carry off the storm waters. The military authorities have themselves recognised that the pipe which they laid down is insufficient, because they have made certain subsidiary drains across the military ground to carry the water on to the Bay road. By so doing they have admitted that the ordinary drainage is not sufficient. However, they have refused to make any provision for carrying the storm waters along that road. The question I put to the Minister is: If it can be shown that damage has resulted from the inadequacy of the drains, will the Military Department be prepared to make the necessary alterations and also to repair that damage? As the Minister has promised to look into the matter, I thought it only right that I should put these particulars before him, especially as I know that in South Australia we have an officer - a very capable, but a very positive man - who fills the position of Superintendent of Works for the Commonwealth and Superintendent of Public Works for South Australia. I trust that the Minister will take an early opportunity of looking into the matter, and that, if he finds that the Department is. in the wrong, he will see that the damage is repaired and steps taken to prevent its recurrence.
– Senator O’Loghlin has already had my assurance that I will look into this matter with a view to seeing that no injustice is done to the municipality on whose behalf he has spoken. Before the sitting was suspended, Senator Pearce brought forward a most interesting matter, and I am glad to say that since then I have been able to obtain the information which he sought. I am informed that the Department does not undertake the direct importation of the cups to which he referred, and of which he produced a sample. These are provided by the contractor - the Colonial Ammunition Company. In regard to the testing of the ammunition, that is not done by an inspector in the course of its manufacture; but after the goods have beensupplied tests are made of what is regarded as a sufficient number of samples. Upon the result of those tests the goods are either accepted or rejected. I do not know whether a better system of inspection can be devised, but I will confer on the subject with those who are in a better position to express an opinion. You, sir, asked whether it was the intention of the Government to proceed with the additions to the Victoria Barracks. That is our intention, and for this reason: At the present time we are paying something in the neighbourhood of £900 rental for various branches of the Defence Department which are scattered throughout this city. That accommodation has already proved to be insufficient. Apart from that, its scattered character imposes a very considerable disability upon the higher officers, and upon the Minister. Apart from the financial aspect of the case, which will make the proposed additions a remunerative proposition, we are under the necessity of finding further accommodation, seeing that some of the leases of premises which we hold are about to terminate. In the case of one of them, I am led to believe that it will be impossible to renew it except on terms that are almost prohibitive. The only question which we have to consider in this connexion is whether, in view of the establishment of offices at Canberra, we ought to enlarge our premises here. 1 have looked into that matter, and it seems to me we shall always require considerable accommodation in our capital cities. Although the removal of the Central Staff from Melbourne to Canberra would_ have the effect of providing accommodation at the Victoria Barracks, I have no “hesitation in saying that additional accommodation will be required, and if it is not can be utilized by other branches of the Public Service. In other words, no loss will thus be incurred. That being so, and seeing that there is a promise of an immediate financial gain, I felt justified in including this item in the present Estimates, and, subject to the approval of Parliament, I propose to proceed with the work in question.
.- I wish to direct the attention of the Minister to the vote for the school of gunnery, which is established at South Head, Sydney. There is an item set down in the Estimates for £575 for the salary of the majorinstructor of that* school. I believe that the previous instructor was a major, but the present officer in charge is a captain. I understand that it is a way they have in the Army to pay acording to rank and not according to ability, and that is, in my opinion, unfair an’d unjust. The officer who is in charge of the school should be given greater powers, and the salary paid to the previous occupant of the office should be paid. On the subject of the instructional stores provided for the school, I may say that the Inspector-General considered them valu able as relics, and thought that instead of being placed in an instructional school they should be given to a museum. I am told that whenever application is made for additional stores, the reply from Melbourne is always that there is no money available for the purpose. I suggest that the military expenditure might be cut down in other directions, and the money saved devoted to making this school of gunnery what it ought to be. Some retrenchment might be effected in the travelling expenses of officers. One can scarcely travel by train between here and Sydney without meeting two or three of them, and though, no doubt, it is necessary that they should go from one place to the other, they seem to make it their business to travel when there is something good ‘going on on either side. The chief complaint I have tlo make, however, in connexion with the school of gunnery is that the instruction seems to be confined to officers of the Permanent Forces. Quite a number of militia officers desire to attend the school, but there is no room there for them. I repeat that it would be a good thing to cut down the military expenditure in other directions and devote the money to making this school of instruction what it ought to be.
– I make no complaint about the proposed total vote of £2,800,000 for defence expenditure, although it represents an increase of some £300,000 on the Estimates for last year. I know that complaints have been made in the press and elsewhere about the increase of this expenditure, but my feeling in the matter is that in Australia we have too long slumbered under the friendly shelter of the naval and military power of the Old Country. Although the cost of our defence now runs to lis. or 12s. per head of the population, it is still far less than the burden borne by the people of the Old Country, who are much more poorly paid, and have to live under much less satisfactory conditions than have the people of Australia. As a representative of Western Australia. I am here to support to the uttermost expenditure on defence, always provided it is not wasteful and extravagant expenditure. We cannot afford to waste £1, as there are many purposes upon which money might be wisely expended. I do not criticise the extent of the defence vote at all.
– The honorable senator will do so before many years are past.
– When I look around the world, I see that unless we are content to live in a fool’s paradise, we must incur expenditure for this purpose.-‘ It is, in my view, an impossible proposition to suggest that Australia is an island continent which will never be interfered with. There is no half way between making provision for a perfect system of defence, and a haphazard, slovenly, and inefficient system which will reflect no credit upon our spirit of independence. There is no half way between providing for our own defence and sheltering ourselves, as I think we have done too long, under the power of the Old Country.
– Does the honorable senator think that we can ever pay for a perfect naval defence for Australia ?
– I do not say that we can pay for a perfect Naval Defence of Australia, but the obligation is upon us to take all the measures necessary to secure the safety of Australia from a defence point of view. We should not, in my opinion, look to the colliers of the North of England, the crofters of Scotland, or the people of the western part of the island from which I came, and who have sometimes had to live on seaweed, for our defence, but should shoulder the obligation ourselves. The vote ‘of £2,800,000 includes some non-recurring expenditure, and that may allay the alarm of some of our friends who are apt, with every change of wind, to become frightened. That is not the attitude I adopt at all, nor was it the attitude adopted by some of those who now express alarm, but were some time ago taking a leading part in advocating this expenditure, which was begun in order that we should ourselves, for the first time, put Australia in a state of security. We have been too long dependent upon people in the Old Country living under far worse conditions than ours, and it is time we stood upon our own basis.
– What does the honorable senator mean when he speaks of our being independent?
– I mean that we should bear our proper share of the expense necessary for the defence of this country, and should place ourselves in a position to be able to co-operate with the Mother Country in any trouble in which she may be involved. Dealing with a particular matter connected with the vote, I should like to say that I think that night drills for our young lads should be abolished where possible. It is a mistake to take them away from the parental eye at night, and so subject them to the temptations which, in my opinion, the system of night drills exposes them to. The system of compulsory training of young lads is giving splendid results, which are reflected in the reports of the police authorities of Victoria. These bear witness to the great benefits which have flowed from compulsory military training, but we should not overlook the fact that under certain conditions it may produceevil results as well as good results; and, although I do not say that it is possible- to abolish night drills entirely, they should be abolished wherever, it is possible.. I notice that the vote for chaplains tolook after the spiritual welfare of the men. of our Fleet is the same as the vote which* appeared on the Estimates last year. In» this connexion I wish to say that the present Government came into power mainly by leading the people to believe that theywould form a God-fearing Ministry. Honorable senators will remember that on hoardings throughout the Commonwealth there was exhibited a placard representing a hobgoblin octopus. One tentacle was extended over the Northern Territory, bearing the words, “ The spoils, to the victors,” which we know was not. true. Another extended over Western Australia, with the words, “Restricted” transportation,” which “was not true.. A third extended to Tasmania, bearing a special reference to the grant, made to that State by the Fisher Government, and which, by the way, the present Government have gone out of their - way to increase to the full amount recommended by the Royal Commission. This was represented on the placard referred to as “Bribing Tasmania.” Another of” the tentacles of the octopus bore the word “Materialism.” The inference was that, members of the Labour party are unrighteous sons of men, who have no belief “ in Christianity, or, at least, are heading - in that direction. We have a Government in the Commonwealth who ask the people - to believe that they are the corner-stone of Christianity, but they do not ask for an additional brass farthing for the purpose of ministering to the spiritual interests of the Defence Forces of Australia, I was sent here by 60,000 or 70,000 electors of Western Australia, who made up their minds that I should come here. Of the 57,000 who did not think that I should come here many were no doubt led to think in that way because they were invited by the opponents of the Labour party to consider that my belief in Christianity, and religion generally, was somewhat shaky. I am here to speak for the 57,000 people who voted against me at the last election, and to ask the Government why they have not vindicated their claim to be a Godfearing Ministry.
– How does the honorable senator connect his remarks with the subject before the Committee?
– My argument is that the vote for the benefit for the spiritual need of the Naval Forces is not such as the electors were led to believe that it would be from a Government like this. I should like to know why the practices of Ministers do not come up to their professions. I wonder where the Minister of Defence goes to church, or whether he says his prayers in secret. Judging from his appearance, I should say that he does not go too often. I should like to ask when Senator Clemons, another of these God-fearing men, went to church last. In Senator McColl, however, we have an ideal representative of the God-fearing Ministry. His appearance impresses us with the fact that he does live in a pure atmosphere, far removed from the ordinary haunts of men. I can well imagine him being sometimes at a prayer meeting, when, no doubt, he gives vent to those pious groans which are characteristic of him.
– It is true that there is an item for naval chaplains in the schedule, but I can see nothing that has any connexion with Senator McColl’s religion.
– I am drawing attention to the remissness of these Ministers, who are not living up to their professions, and I am particularly concerned at this moment with the pious groans of Senator McColl at a prayer meeting. That groan of his is good for forty votes at any time.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument.
– I must enter my protest on behalf of those electors who were deluded into believing that this was a Christian Ministry, compounded of quite a different clay from a common Labour Ministry. I have risen to show how Ministers have fallen off in this respect, as they have done in every other respect. I am sorry to find that they have made no more provision for the spiritual welfare of the men of the Fleet. They are not proposing to spend a threepenny bit more than their predecessors, did. This must be very disappointing to the electors who supported them at the last elections.
– I am going to move that progress be reported at this stage, to meet the convenience of several honorable senators who wish to leave Melbourne to-day, but who desire to record their votes on . certain Bills which have yet to be dealt with.
Dismissal of Captain Hughes Onslow
Motion (by Senator Long) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving forthwith the motion standing in my name in favour of the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the administration of the Naval Board and the dismissal of the second naval member, Captain Hughes Onslow.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 1
– There not being an absolute majority for the motion, aa required by the Standing Orders, the question passes in the negative. ‘
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill dealing with works and buildings which were paid for out of the Treasurer’s Advance while the late Ministry was in office. The passing of the Bill is a purely formal matter.
– It is an indemnity?
– It is, at any rate, a Bill to cover certain payments which were made under the Treasurer’s Advance, and by that term I mean the late Treasurer.
– I trust that this Bill will be allowed to pass without any discussion. Honorable senators surely remember the process. A certain amount is voted to the Treasurer in a year; but no Bill authorizing the particular items is presented to Parliament, because the Treasurer is not able to do so. At the close of the financial year, that is, in the succeeding session, a Bill authorizing the particular items on which the Treasurer has expended his advance is submitted. Of course, the money has been spent. This Bill merely indicates the way in which the late Treasurer spent his Treasurer’s Advance as regards works and buildings.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of the Bill, but wish to call the attention of the Honorary Minister to the fact that, out of £46,876 which it appropriates, only £700 was spent in the State I have the honour to represent.
– On the same ground, I have to object that, out of a total of nearly £4,000 spent on posts and telegraphs, there was not £1 spent in Western Australia.
– I shall take special care, if I have the opportunity to-day, that the remarks of Senator Maughan and Senator Lynch are conveyed to Mr. Fisher, the late Treasurer.
– We do not object to that.
– Order ! The Minister has replied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a first time.
– I move–
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators who listened to the Clerk reading the title know that the Bill deals with additions and new works for the financial year ending 30th June. 1913. It is in exactly the same position as the measure which we recently dealt with, except that it came originally in the form of Supplementary Estimates.
– Why do you want a further sum if the money has been spent ?
– First, we have Estimates and subsequently Supplementary Estimates. With regard to both Estimates, the amounts are left to be paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance. With regard to the last Bill, the items were met by the Treasurer’s Advance, which was contained in the original estimate. The items covered by the present Bill are also items met by the late Treasurer’s Advance, which came in Supplementary Estimates. I ‘can assure the Senate that this is only a formal proceeding to satisfy the Auditor-General.
.- All that I wish to say on the second reading of this Bill is that it would greatly facilitate the conduct of public business if Ministers would speak so that honorable senators could hear them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through . its remaining stages.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 8 -
The Minister may provide all things necessary or convenient for the efficient construction and working of tie railway.
Senate’s Amendment. - Add “ and the railway shall be constructed by day labour.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to, because the Minister may find construction by contract the best method to be adopted, and it is undesirable to bind him to any particular manner of construction.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment not insisted on.
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert following new clause : - 14a. - (1) In the construction of the railway provision shall be made for the payment of not less than the prescribed minimum rates of wages and for the observance of the prescribed conditions of employment, and also for the recovery of penalties for non-payment of the prescribed rates of wages or for non-compliance with the prescribed conditions of employment.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment disagreed to, because the Government will provide for the payment of fair wages and the observance of reasonable conditions of employment, and it is not expedient to provide for the imposition by the Government of penalties on itself. . . .
– I desire to restore to this amendment the words which were previously struck out.
– A proceeding of which the honorable senator has approved.
– That is very unfair.
– The honorable senator voted for the proposal.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ In,” in line 1, the words “ any’ contract relating to.”
– I fail to see the necessity for this amendment. Owing to a strange freak, Labour members have thrown over the day-labour principle in connexion with the transcontinental railway. As a result of one of those extraordinarily erratic impulses which sometimes take possession of men, they have abandoned a cherished principle in order to grab a few miles of railway. Their action will be quoted against us - and rightly so - on every platform throughout the Commonwealth.
– Only by yourself.
– No, by our political opponents. My contention is that these words are unnecessary. The clause in its present form will meet the case. If the Government are unable to adopt the contract system in the construction of this line, and decide to build it by day labour, the clause will cover disputes which may arise between the Government and their employes.
– The first provision does not deal with disputes.
– A very slight verbal alteration will enable it to cover all contingencies, and make it wider than it would be if the amendment of Senator Pearce were adopted. “Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [3.6]. - I think that we had better face the position which has arisen. The Committee previously affirmed that this line should be constructed by day labour. Now it has reversed that decision. That being so, I am chiefly concerned with the welfare of the men who will be engaged upon the construction of the line, and, in such circumstances, I think it is essential that Senator Pearce’s amendment should be adopted. I desire to see the men engaged upon this work enjoying the best conditions possible.
– Seeing that the vote previously cast in favour of this work being carried out by day labour has now been reversed, I think that we ought to restore to the clause the words which were excised yesterday. We cannot leave it in its present form. The line will be built by contract, and we have a right to conserve the interests of those who will be employed by the contractors. I am sorry that the day-labour principle should have been defeated, because I regard that principle as of more importance than the Bill itself. I shall vote for the inclusion of the words proposed by Senator Pearce.
– I to-day reversed a vote I gave on a previous occasion on the question of day versus contract labour. I do not desire that any honorable senator present, or any member of Parliament anywhere else, should take any share of the responsibility which attaches to me for having given that vote. The other day I recorded a vote in favour of a principle in which I believe absolutely. I am sorry that the present Government will not realize the benefit which must follow to the taxpayers from having all work done by day labour.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that matter at any length. He is dealing with a question that has already been decided.
– I wished to explain my position. I regard it as of greater consequence that work should be provided in the construction of this line than that it should be hedged round with certain conditions which it might be found very- difficult to carry out. After the vote ‘just given, the Government will have the right to have this line constructed by contract, and I feel that they can have no objection to the contractor being compelled, under his contract, to give reasonable and just wages and conditions to the men he employs. My object in rising was to remove from the minds of some of my honorable friends, who have expressed concern about the vote I gave to-day, any idea that any of the responsibility for it rests upon their shoulders. I hope that the amendment moved by Senator Pearce will be carried.
– My attitude to the amendments moved in connexion with this Bill is governed by my opinion as to their merits or demerits. I was not here when the Bill was first under discussion, and I wish the Committee to understand that my attitude towards the measure is one of uncompromising hostility. I only regret that I am unable to give honorable senators the name of the person upon whose opinion I formed that view of the project. Whilst I am entirely against the Bill, my attitude towards the amendments that are being moved is one of compromise, and I wish to say in that connexion that I admire honorable senators on the other side, who, notwithstanding the fact that it may be urged .against them that they have changed their opinions, take what I hold to be -proper and conciliatory action.
– The Committee has turned down the day-labour principle. Honorable senators have decided by a majority of two that this railway line shall be built by contract labour if the Government so desire. It has, therefore, become necessary, as it has been in the past and will be in the future whenever any work is being carried out by contract labour, that we should take special precautions to protect the interests of the workmen. That is the object of the amendment, and the very fact that it is submitted shows how dangerous it is that the line should he built by contract at all. Whilst I favour the amendment, I express my sincere regret that any members of the party to which I am privileged to belong should have seen fit. to vote for the contract system. I do not think it will work out well for the party.
.- We We have not voted for the contract system.
– Yes, we have.
– I have ruled that it is not in order to go into that matter.
– I was making only an incidental reference to it. What I said was, not that the line is to be built by contract labour, but that we have made it possible for the Government to build the line under that system if they so desire. That, in fact, means that we, as a party, have turned down day labour in order to get contract labour. We are now forced to embody safeguards in the Bill to prevent sweating and the exploitation of the workmen by the contractor. The object of the amendments now being moved is to minimize the evils of the contract system. When I could not get what I desired, I naturally take up the second line of defence, and support provisions intended to protect the men from the rapacity of the contractor, which has been made possible by the vote which certain members of th.e party to which I belong gave to-day.
– I wish to say a word in explana- tion of the vote I gave in the last division.”
– The honorable senator cannot explain it.
– I explain it in this way : I do not. at all regret voting as I did in the last division. In so voting, I did not vote against the day-labour system or desert the platform to which I am attached; but I took a wider view of things than has been taken by some other members of the Committee. I believe that if I had voted as some honorable senators desired, it would have meant the losing of this line. I have previously said that if, as a result of conditions being forced upon the Government that they would not accept, this Bill were dropped, the Northern Territory would be at a stand-still, and every year that it remains in its present condition we are inviting danger to the Commonwealth.
– From what?
– Order! I ask the honorable senator not to depart from the question.
– I use the argument which Senator Rae used. I say, as he said, that the greater contains the less, and if the Northern Territory is permitted to remain in its present condition we must look forward to a day, within measurable distance, when we shall not be fighting for a railway or for principles, but for our very existence.
– The object of the clause is to insure that the Government shall retain and exercise their control over any contractor, both with regard to the wages he is to pay and the conditions under which the work of the construction of this line is to be carried out. I have risen to say that, since that is the wish of the Government, they will accept the amendment.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment of the amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That after the word “payment,” line a, the words “ by the contractor “ be inserted.
– This amendment is consequential upon the last, and carries out the principle embodied in it. I rise to say that, inasmuch as the Government are determined to enforce these conditions, I gladly accept the amendment.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment of the amendment (bySenator Pearce) agreed to -
That after the word “schedule,” line 12, Mie words “ to the contract “ be inserted.
– With respect to sub-clauses 3 and 4 of the amendment, I should like to say that I have been looking up_ the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and find that the Judge of the Arbitration Court can delegate his powers. I have also seen .an Ordinance that has been passed which provides that these delegated powers may be exercised. In the circumstances, it seems to me that sub-clauses 3 and 4 will not bc necessary, because the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is, by the Ordinance, applied to the Northern Territory, and in the event of a dispute arising, the Judge can, by telegram if necessary, delegate his powers. I, therefore, do not intend to press subclauses 3 and 4 of the amendment.
– Is the Minister agreeable to any portion of the proposed new clause ?
– I have agreed to sub-clauses 1 and 2, but I do not agree to the other sub-clauses for the reason which Senator Pearce has just given. The honorable senator has just explained that there is a section in the Northern Territory Act applying the Conciliation and Arbitration Act te the settlement of industrial disputes in the Territory. It provides -
The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act shall apply to industrial disputes in the Territory as if from the definition of “ industrial disputes” in section 4 of the Act the words “ extending beyond the boundary of any one State” were omitted.
– If the Minister would move that the Committee insists on its amendment contained in paragraphs 1 and 2, as amended, but does not insist on paragraphs 3 and 4, that, I think, would be the best way of meeting the case.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania- Honorary Minister) [3.26J.’ - I will adopt that method. I, therefore, move -
Th:vt the Committee insists on the amendment as regards paragraphs 1. and 2 as amended, but does not insist on paragraphs 3 and 4.
– The Act just quoted provides that in the case of a dispute in the Northern Territory, a reference may be made to the Arbitration Court. But we know that the Arbitration Court is a very slow and unwieldy machine. It is already almost choked with work. It might take weeks to settle a dispute in the Northern Territory.
– Senator Pearce has already pointed out that the Arbitration Act gives the President of the Arbitration Court power to deal with such cases as this, and to appoint a substitute iri his place. He can make such, an appointment by telegram. What we desire is to retain the authority of the President of the Arbitration Court.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, insisted on.
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert following new clause : 14b. In the supply and sale of stores to the men employed in the construction of the railway by the Government the prices charged shall not be more than the prices for such stores obtaining in Darwin, plus freights.
House of Respresentative? Message. - Amendment disagreed to, because it is not expedient to regulate the prices to be charged by both Government and private suppliers of stores to men employed in the construction of the railway.
– In view of the reversal of a vote formerly given, it will be necessary to amend new clause 14b by inserting the words ‘ ‘ or the contractor ‘ ‘ after the word “ Government.” I think that when the contract is being drawn up the Government can easily insert a clause in it carrying out the intention of this proposal. Surely we cannot be told that it is impossible for Parliament to compel the contractor or the Government to do such a thing as this. I am concerned to see that the men shall not be charged exorbitant prices for their stores while they are engaged in the construction of the railway. I know of cases where men have had to pay 20 and 30 per cent, more than they should have paid. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ Government,” line 4, the words “ or the contractor.”
– I hope that Senator Needham will withdraw his proposal. He need not fear that the Government are not in sympathy with what he intends, but we are confronted with a difficulty that cannot be overcome by legislation. The object of his proposal is to regulate the prices that will be charged to the men upon the construction of the line. It will apply to any person. Can we enforce such a provision? There is nothing to compel the Government to supply stores at all. We cannot say to a contractor, “ In undertaking this work you shall also contract to supply stores at Darwin prices.”
– What is to prevent that?
– A railway contractor may know nothing about storekeeping. We might as well put in a clause compelling the contractor to maintain a well-equipped medical staff.
– That would be right also.
– It will be a desirable thing, but we could not ask a contractor to do it.
– Of course, we could.:
– I look at this matter purely from a practical point of view. The most we can do is to say to the Darwin storekeepers, “ If you supply the men working on this line with stores you must supply them at suchandsuch rates, or not at all.” But I do not think we are prepared to say that. It is not a practicable proposal.
– I have no intention of withdrawing my amendment; I shall leave the responsibility in the hands of the Committee. The arguments of the Honorary Minister are specious, but not convincing. Every law on the statute-book conveys compulsion in some way or other. Senator Clemons says that we cannot compel a contractor to supply stores at certain prices. Surely we can. There is a law which may be put in motion to restrain a man from assaulting another in the street.
– We can restrain, but this is another policy.
– This is a humane proposal, and I see no obstacle to its enforcement. Experience shows that men have been fleeced by contrac-tors in the construction of such works as this. We ought to prevent that in the future.
– I am quite in sympathy with what Senator Needham desires, but I agree with the Minister that it is not so worded as to carry out the purpose.
– I doubt whether we can word it in such a way as to make it sure.
– The amendment simply provides what prices shall be charged if stores are supplied by the contractor or the Government. But there is nothing mandatory about the supply of stores. If the contractor chooses to say that he will not bother about the supply of stores there is nothing to compel him to do so.
– The railway could not be built unless stores were supplied to the men.
– We have a provision in the industrial agreement affecting the pastoral industry that employers will not charge more than certain prices for stores supplied to men. But a pastoralist can please himself as to whether he supplies stores at all. I suggest to Senator Needham that the amendment should be made to read in this way -
The Government shall undertake the supply and sale of stores to the men employed in the construction of the railway, and the prices charged shall not be more than the prices charged for.such stores in Darwin, plus freights.
The Minister cannot object to that on the ground of ambiguity. It says, in plain English, that the Government shall supply the stores to the men. The Government is well fitted to do so. Without such a provision there is nothing to prevent any storekeeper charging excessive rates for stores conveyed from Darwin to the Katherine River, the end of the line. This proposal is not based on Socialism as understood in the academic sense, but on the common-sense ground that in a country so sparsely inhabited there is practically no storekeeping worth considering, and the men would be at the mercy of the exploiter there more than they would be in more settled districts, through the absence of all competition.
– They will be badly served, too.
– They are sure to be badly served, owing to the distance from the town, and many obstacles which need not be laboured now. If the Government wish to avoid the disputes we have been trying to guard against, to bring about some measure of contentment, and to insure something like a peaceful progress of the work, let them adopt, not something which they may consider Utopian, but the practice of their Conservative friends and allies, the Government of Queensland, a practice which I believe is followed in New Zealand and New South Wales. I ask the Minister to expedite the construction of this railway by accepting the proposed amendment.
– Knowing the conditions that obtain on railway construction works, I advise the Minister to take power to do the things which have been pressed upon him. In fact, I would go a little farther than has been suggested. What is more calculated to make men inefficient in their work, and bring about an insanitary state in a camp, than to permit anything in the nature of’” batching?” The supplying of the provisions, and allowing the men to cook them and have them served up in their own rough-and-ready style, is not a commendable practice. If it can possibly be avoided, it is the duty of the Government to take such steps as will insure a better social state of affairs in the camps. In this Bill we could provide for a mess-room committee on each of the works, and if we did, I feel quite satisfied that it would have beneficial results. A much better state pf health would be maintained owing to improved sanitary conditions, and the men would be better paid. There certainly would be more contentment than there will be if the Bill merely provides for the purchase of food-stuffs, and handing them over to the men to make the best of. I invite the Minister, in the interests of the work itself, to try an experiment. The utensils purchased could be used in connexion with other public works. I ask the honorable senator, if he is not prepared to accept the amendment, to submit a scheme of a similar kind. I should like the Bill to provide, not only for the supply of goods at reasonable prices,- but ako for a sort of co-operative mess-room arrangement.
– I think that, independently of this proposal, the Government will be compelled to provide stores for the men.
– Then you need not put this amendment in the Bill.
– It is just as well to make sure. Having regard to the character of the country and its unsettled condition, we shall not get storekeepers to go to the Territory, and follow up the construction of this line, as is done in other parts of Australia. Therefore, in their own interests - in order to induce the men to stay there - the Government will be obliged to get men to provide the stores. I think that they can safely accept the amendment, as it only provides for a system which they will have to carry out.
– The Minister of Defence should have no difficulty in arriving at a conclusion regarding this proposal, because he knows that every day great commissariat organizations are at work providing foodstuffs for the men employed in the Navy and the Army. It is all a matter of organization. It would be far better, I think, to have at the very start a properlyequipped commissariat department in connexion with the construction of the line than to have numerous complaints sent down to Labour men session after session, calling attention to the inadequate provisions. In Queensland a similar plan has been tried, and most successfully, too. In that State, and, I believe, in New South Wales, the day-labour system has been thoroughly well organized by competent engineers to such an extent that there is very little wanting in this regard.
– Do they provide stores, too?
– I do not think that the members of the Opposition ought to expect me to accept this amendment. I recognise that in the case of the Northern Territory there are exceptional difficulties to be dealt with. There may be difficulties, too, in the way of the workmen engaged on the construction of this line’. I urge honorable senators not to put this amendment in the Bill, but to accept my assurance that I will urge the Minister of External Affairs to state in another place his intention of seeing that the workmen are supplied, in inaccessible places, with stores at reasonable rates and under fair conditions.
– By the Government?
– Not necessarily, but to see that that idea is carried out.
– That is unsatisfactory.
– So it is very unsatisfactory for honorable senators to press me in this direction. I am disappointed that they are pressing me so hard.
– Get it in the Bill.
– My honorable friends know quite well that I cannot incorporate .this amendment in the Bill. They know also that I am in sympathy with the proposal, and, if I was not, they know that the Minister of External Affairs is. .
– We also know that there is no other way of giving practical effect to your sympathy.
– I ask honorable senators to let my colleague have an opportunity of obviating the difficulties and the disadvantages to which they have called our attention. I hope that honorable senators will not insist on the amendment, but if they do I trust that they will divide quickly.
– No one wishes to discredit the Honorary Minister, or to suggest that his personal word cannot be taken. I am not prepared to accept his word on behalf of the Cabinet, because Ministers come and go, and the Lord knows where the Honorary Minister may be when this line is being built. The next Minister might say that he was not bound by the promises of Senator demons. This discussion shows the difficulty of the contract system. This amendment is necessary,because we have decided to build the line by contract.
– I cannot admit that.
– The Government say that they could carry out this plan themselves, but that they cannot impose any obligation of the kind on a contractor. Now that it has been decided to construct the line by contract, I hope honorable senators will stick to their guns and minimize many of the evils which otherwise would arise by insisting upon the amendment of Senator Needham, as improved by the amendment of Senator Rae. I sincerely hope that our party will stick to the proposal at all costs, and that there will be no backing down.
.- Knowing the difficulties which will be experienced in building a railway through the Northern Territory, the Minister cannot expect that storekeepers will go to this region to supply the men engaged on the work.
– There are storekeepers there now.
– If storekeepers do follow up the line the prices charged to the men will be excessive, and either the cost of the work must be increased, or the wages of the men diminished. The Government represent a political party who at the last election concerned themselves with the cost of living, and assured the people that every opportunity would be taken to diminish that which was causing vexatious contention and much discussion. Here is an opportunity to carry their promise into effect. The Government have the matter solely under their control. In connexion with the construction of this line, they can, in a certain measure, determine what the cost of living shall be by regulating the prices to be charged to the men for their stores. Owing to the peculiar conditions in the Northern Territory, it is our duty to conserve the interests of the men. Unless this wise amendment is adopted, unreasonable conditions will be established on account of the country to be traversed. It should not be left to the tender mercy of the contractor to deal with this question. We ought not to take the assurance of the Minister that something will be done to meet the requirements of the men, because the Minister who may be called upon to carry out this project will be bound, not by the assurance of any Minister of the present time, but by the terms of the Act itself.
– I think that the amendment, foreshadowed by Senator Rae is an improvement, and, that being so, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment of the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments of the amendment (by Senator Rae) proposed -
That the word “ In,” line i, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ The Government shall undertake “ ; that the words “ by the Government,” be left out, with a view to insert the word “ and.”
Question - That the amendment of the amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment, as amended, insisted on.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it insisted on disagreeing to the amendments insisted on by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That the message be considered in Committee forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
The Governor-General, or any person authorized by him, may, in accordance with law, make grants or other dispositions of Crown lands in Norfolk Island.
Senate’s Amendments. - Leave out “ grants or other”; add “Provided always that no Crown lands in Norfolk Island shall be sold or disposed of for any estate in freehold except in pursuance of some contract entered into before the commencement of this Act.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Disagreement to amendments insisted on.
– There are, apparently, two amendments which the other branch of the Legislature have . disagreed with, but, as a matter of fact, they both refer to the same subject. It will be recollected that an amendment inserted by the Senate some time ago had the effect of striking out the words “ grants or other.” The real object of that amendment was to prevent the possibility of the alienation in fee-simple of any of the remaining land in Norfolk Island. I hope that the Committee will not insist on that amendment. The Government are prepared to undertake not to deal in any way with any portion of this land until Ordinances providing for its disposition have been submitted to both Houses of Parliament. Seeing that nothing can happen with regard to its’ alienation without the consent both of this and the other branch of the Legislature, I move -
That the amendments be not further insisted on.
– If the Ministry are prepared to give that undertaking, I should like to know whether they will consent to so alter the Bill as to take away from the Government the power to part with the feesimple.
– Ministers say that they will not exercise that power in any way, except by an Ordinance specially dealing with it, which Ordinance must be submitted to this as well as to the- ‘ other branch of the Legislature.
– Although Norfolk Island is a. small Territory, we are all anxious that it. should be attached to the Commonwealth.
– I do not care a pinch of snuff about it.
– That being so, wehave the guarantee of the Government that no more land there will be alienated under existing Ordinances, and that a. further Ordinance will be brought in todeal with this subject next session.
– That assurance: ought to satisfy any ordinary person, and I am content to accept it.
– The whole question resolves itself into one of whether we have confidence in. the Government. Speaking for myself, I have no confidence in them so far as their policy of land alienation is concerned. While the party to which I belong - or,, rather, a section of it - are prepared toclimb down occasionally, it seems to me. that the Government never climb down. Personally, I believe that if our principlesare worth professing, they are worth upholding. I quite understand that the Honorary Minister wishes us to accept the policy of the .Government in regard toNorfolk Island upon trust. He says that this is a Bill merely for taking over the island, and he offers to guarantee that nothing will be done in the way of alienating the remaining land there until an Ordinance has been prepared, submitted to Parliament, and agreed to by Parliament.
– That is all very fine and large, but I do not see why we should be asked to go back on our principles.
– The honorable senator is not asked to do so.
– Will the Government refuse to take over Norfolk. Island if a provision of this kind be inserted in the Bill?
– The Government wish to- take over the island before thatquestion is determined, and we say to the Opposition that they will have an opportunity to. determine it when the island be- longs to us. - ..
– If we insist upon inserting this amendment in the Bill, will the Government drop the measure?
– That is not a fair question to ask.
– I think it is an eminently fair question.
– The honorable senator asks me to make a statement which may be construed into a threat. I will not do it.
-Then the only couclusion at which I can arrive is that the Government intend to continue the policy which has hitherto been in force in Norfolk Island, and for that reason I shall repeat my previous vote.
– I scarcely think it is necessary to repeat what I have already said. I am deliberately asking the Opposition to postpone until next session the determination of the question of what system of land tenure shall obtain in Norfolk Island.
– I am very pleased to see that the Government are doing what I asked the Senate to do yesterday when this matter was before it. The taking over of Norfolk Island by the Commonwealth is one matter, and the details of the land policy to be adopted in that island is another.
– Is that the way the honorable senator voted?
– No. I voted for the leasehold- principle when it was put before honorable senators in a definite amendment. I should still vote for it if it were submitted as a separate proposal, but we are dealing with a measure for the taking over of Norfolk Island by the Commonwealth. I assume that it would be an advantage to New South Wales that the Commonwealth should take over this island, otherwise the New South Wales Government would not let us have it. As a representative of New South Wales in the Senate, I am prepared to help the Government of that State to let the Commonwealth Government have what they do not want themselves. I am satisfied that if the keen business men who are in charge of affairs in New South Wales believed that to maintain control of the island would be of any advantage to the State, they would continue to maintain it. I do not agree with Senator Stewart, my pre sent leader in the Senate, on this occasion, because I believe that the proper time to deal with the land question will be when an Ordinance is submitted on the subject next session. This amendment opens up the whole question of land nationalization versus freehold, but I should probably be ruled out of order if I were to try to discuss it ‘at length. When next session an Ordinance is submitted dealing with the land policy to be adopted for Norfolk Island, we can go into the question in a comprehensive manner. I hope there will be no further objection to the procedure which is being adopted by the Government to enable New South Wales to get rid of an island which she does not want.
Question - That amendments be not further insisted on - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendments not further insisted on.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 17th December (vide page 4575), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now reada second time.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.20]. - I moved the adjournment of the debate yesterday in order that we might have a little time to look into this Bill. I have . no intention at this late stage of the session to debate the measure at length. It is a sound, practical measure upon which, I think, both parties in the Senate are agreed. I am sorry that the Government did not introduce a few more Bills of the sort, instead of wasting time upon reactionary and retrograde measures which they had no chance of passing, and which would have been a calamity to the community if the Government had succeeded in passing them. When the Bill gets into Committee I intend to move an amendment on clause 3, and I shall reserve any further remarks I have to make till that stage.
– I am in somewhat of a quandary in regard to this measure. I think that a Bill of such importance should have been brought forward at an earlier period of the session, so that honorable senators might have an opportunity of probing into its intentions and scope. I am not very sure, if the secrets of the party supporting the Government were disclosed to the public view, that there is not some under current at work in connexion with this measure. Will the Minister of Defence tell us whether certain Government supporters in another place, and perhaps here - although they are so few in this Chamber as to be a negligible quantity - have not brought -pressure to bear to secure the introduction of this Bill? We know that the object of the Bill is to appoint a Public Works Committee. The “ spondulix “ to be provided will amount to something like £250 for each member of the Committee, besides travelling expenses.
– No; the £2,000 is the maximum.
– We may be sure that the maximum will be reached.
– That amount covers travelling expenses as well.
– I am glad to have received that information;
– There is no billet on the Committee for a Scotchman.
– In fees and expenses there will be a sum of £250 a. year available for each of eight members of the proposed Committee. I do not object to that payment as a payment, but the question I ask is : Will the business of the Commonwealth be promoted by the appointment of this Committee ? Have we not a huge staff of men to advise the Government in connexion with public works already? Thousands of pounds are paid every year to the members of this staff, who should be experts if they are not. The probability is that the members of the. proposed Committee will not be appointed because of any particular capacity they may have for the work, but because they are able to pull certain strings. That appears to be a weak point in connexion with this proposal. If I were assured that men would be appointed who understood public works, my objection would not be so strong. But I have no assurance on that point. My experience of parliamentary affairs shows me that the possession of capacity goes for nothing, and that intrigue and personal influence go for everything in cases of this kind. What good work is the Committee expected to perform? The Commonwealth has been in existence for thirteen years. ‘ We have spent millions of pounds upon works, but have never felt the need of a Public Works Committee until now. We are told that excellent work has been done by Public Works Committees in the States. But I know perfectly well that such Committees have been appointed to placate impecunious supporters. That is exactly the reason, and there is no other as far as I can discover. Of course, it is claimed that these Public Works Committees have done good work, and have saved money. If that claim were not made, there would be no reason for their existence. In my opinion, the Government has a sufficiently large staff to help it in connexion with public works. The members of the staff have been trained in their business. If they are not experts, they should not be in the Public Service for this purpose. Another objection to the proposal is that a Government that wishes to shelve some piece of work will remit it to the Public Works Committee, at the same time giving a wink that there is no hurry for the report. That, again, will depend upon the amount of political influence which can be brought” to bear at a particular moment. During the last two or three sittings we have had large sums; of money voted for works about which the Government knew little or nothing, and which have never been investigated by a Public Works Committee, nor by any other responsible body, as far as I can ascertain. No matter whether the works are good, bad, or indifferent, they have to be gone on with simply because members demand them. If members want a work it must be begun. If the Government does not want a work to be carried out, and is sure that members of Parliament are not clamouring for it, the Public Works Committee will be sent to investigate, and will delay presenting ita report so as to enable the Government to stave off carrying out the work until it has been forgotten, or a more opportune time for it has arrived. Another objection which I have is that military works are exempt from the operation of the measure.
– That has been altered.
– I am glad to hear that, but still I think the best I can do is to vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– I am in favour ‘ of this measure, because it will lead to the public investigation of works estimated to cost over a given sum. No matter what Government may be in power, there will always be a danger of public works being carried out at the instance of persons interested who have brought pressure to bear. The most honest Minister may make a mistake in judgment, and by so doing may play into the hands of unscrupulous people who are making demands for the expenditure of public money. I have .watched the working of the Public Works Committee system in New South Wales. It takes evidence on oath before a work is commenced, and, I have no doubt, has prevented the expenditure of money at the instance of people who had ulterior motives to serve. An investigation of the kind tends to clear the atmosphere of the suspicion attaching sometimes to the actions of public men. We look uo further back than to the period when the late Government was in office. When a contract was let for sleepers for the Western Australian railway, certain persons went round- this country making political capital out of the affair, and hinting that certain persons were benefiting from it. Had that proposal been . submitted to a Public Works Committee, and a full inquiry been made, there would have been no chance for such a suspicion to be generated. Of course, I know that it was a groundless suspicion, but, at the same time, such a thing could not occur if there were a proper investigation into works of the kind. There is a great advantage in having. such things done in the clear light of public knowledge.
– I wish to correct a statement made by Senator Gardiner with reference to the contract for powellising * sleepers. There could not possibly be any dishonesty in that affair, because the contract was made between two Governments - the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Western Australia. There could not be anything in the nature of a secret commission entering into a contract between two Governments, in which private firms had no part.
– I merely said that suspicion had been generated.
– The honorable senator may have been misled by statements which were made.
– I am’ sure that they were not true.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) r4.33].I am quite in sympathy with this Bill, but wish to ask a question. I can see no clause in it which would prevent a Government from carrying out a large work in sections. In the State of Victoria, where there is a Parliamentary Committee similar to the one now proposed to be established in the Commonwealth, a certain Government, which was anxious to carry out a work, but not to have it investigated, brought down a proposal for carrying out a piece of the work, the estimated cost being a few pounds less than the sum which would have necessitated a reference to the Committee. When the first section was completed, another section was undertaken in the same manner. Have the Government given consideration to the possibility of that occurring?
– This bill may be regarded as of a non-party character. I am in favour of it. I venture to say that, had there been a Public Works Committee in Queensland during the last twenty years, it would have saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds - perhaps between £3,000.000 and £4,000,000. We know, as a matter of fact, that railways have been built in certain parts of the State under influences - that a Public Works Committee would have exposed. They never would have been sanctioned had they been inquired into. It is well known that the Public Works Committee of New South Wales has saved large sums of money to the taxpayers. Probably the same remark applies to Victoria. Senator Stewart has referred to the fact that the Government employs experts. But experts cannot do the work which a Public Works Committee will do. Experts simply do their own professional work, but the Committee will investigate before the experts commence. This is a step in the right direction. I am glad to think that the Commonwealth Parliament has seen fit to do what some of the States have done, and what others, which have had responsible government for many years, have, unfortunately, failed to do.
– I consider that there are advantages such as those which have been pointed out attaching to the appointment of a Public Works Committee, but I should not like it to be thought for a moment that, in my opinion, there are’ no disadvantages. I hold that there are. One of the disadvantages arising out of a measure of this , kind is that, as the Committee must be appointed periodically, so it will be found - for I have no doubt we shall have the same experience as has occurred in my own Stater- there will be a tendency to the demoralization of Parliament. For some considerable time before the appointments are made there are communications flying about, and influences brought to bear amongst members to secure positions on a Public Works. Committee.
– The same thing happens at an election.
SenatorRAE. - Does the honorable senator mean as to who shall get the position bf representative?
– It does; but not in the same way. In an election a seat is in the gift of the electors, and no man is able to bribe all the electors, or a majority of them, under the present conditions.
– Do you suggest that a seat on this Committee will be used as a bribe?
– I am not in the habit of making a suggestion when I can say a thing bluntly. Any man who thinks he is fit for the position, and who is open to take it, may be a little anxious as to what his chances are, and there are some men who will intrigue and bargain with each other; but that is not what I meant. I have noticed that when a position of this kind is in the balance sometimes men lose their independence of character. Men who have been great stalwarts, ever ready to take the field and fight to the bitter end, suddenly become the most amiable and amenable of creatures, even in the ranks of their own party, so as to secure nomination. I make that statement advisedly, because I know that it is an absolute fact that men who were prepared to be at sixes and sevens, and fight for everything that came within reach, very often became the most amenable creatures, and the most genial fellows, when they thought that by currying favour with their associates they might receive a nomination of that kind. That is the demoralizing element attached to every measure which helps to give paid positions to favoured individuals in the ranks of members of Parliament. I see no way of avoiding that. I believe that there are great advantages which would not be obtained by the mere employment of experts.
– You can. get over that by putting all the names in a hat and drawing them out.
– That may be. I think that there are big advantages to be secured by the submission of public works to a body which is not non-party, but composed of both parties, and, consequently, will keep a watch on works which otherwise might be dictated to some extent by political considerations. For that reason I intend to support the measure. I wished merely to point out a danger that does lurk in anything where emoluments are attached to positions which are hanging in the balance, sometimes for weeks before they are filled.
– As the result of a conference with representatives on the other side, I am in a position to say that there will be no objection offered to the passage of the Bill provided an undertaking is given that the nomination of this Committee will not take place until after the recess. I am in a position to give an assurance that the Government will not take any steps at all in that direction until the resumption of public business in Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 - (2.) Two of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the Senate, and six of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the House of Representatives.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.45]. - I rise to submit the amendment which I outlined in my speech on the second reading. In introducing the Bill, the Minister of Defence admitted that there was an element of unfairness in the constitution of the Committee. We are willing to concede to the other House a larger proportion of members on a Committee of this sort, but when it comes to a proportion of three to one, I think that it is going a little too far. Were this Committee to consist of nine members, the same as the Public Accounts Committee, there would be no objection, I believe, to allowing six members to be appointed from the other House and three from the Senate. But the. point, I believe, in regard to the Public Works Committee is that there should be equal representation from both sides, and, therefore, an even number is required. I move -
That the word “Two” be left out. with the view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Three.”
If that amendment is carried, I shall move to strike out the word ‘ ‘ six, ‘ ‘ with the view to substitute the word “ five.” I trust that the Minister will agree to my proposal, as I feel- sure that it is a perfectly reasonable one.
– As I explained in my second-reading speech yesterday, there were two things to be observed, namely, the effort to apportion the Committee between the parties, and the effort to apportion it between the Houses. If we. were to consider the apportionment between the Houses, winch is evidently what Senator O’Loghlin has in mind, and : fix that apportionment in something like the ratio in which the membership is fixed, it would mean that that proportion would be two to one: In order to do that in an uneven Committee, it is quite evident that some member would have to consent to be halved, and the arithmetical proportion would be in that case two and a fraction. That, of course, is impossible. We then have to ask ourselves: What is the nearest we can get to that true proportion in a Committee of eight members? A proportion of five to three is giving the Senate a shade more than it is entitled to.
– Make it a Committee of nine.
– When we are doing that which would give a fair proportion, it seems to me that we at once lose the prospect of getting that equality of party representation. The idea was to get a Committee to represent the parties equally, irrespective of their numerical strength. And that was done with a view to giving an assurance to each party that it would have an equal number of inquirers or auditors, or, if you like, detectives, engaged on this work in the interests of that party.
– It is more important to put the case of the Senate before the case of the party.
– If we have, as the honorable senator suggests, an uneven number, we at once insure that one party will have a majority on the Committee. That is a drawback to the suggestion.
– According to the law of compensation, the other side might be promoted next time.
– I recognise that, unfortunately for the country, the party which controls the country to-day will at some time, possibly a remote time, be in Opposition. I put it to the Committee that there are these two conflicting principles. Both principles have much to commend them. Stated separately, every honorable senator, I suppose, would support them. The difficulty is to reconcile the two, and, in the effort to do so, the Government believe, although they may to some extent have allotted to the Senate a smaller proportion than it is entitled to by reason of its numbers, that it is advisable to ask the Senate to make that, little sacrifice, if we can insure a Committee so balanced that it will remove any possibility of party jealousy or party domination.
– F - Five to three is much nearer -the proportion than is six to two.
– What is likely to happen if we do that? In normal circumstances the party with a majority in the other House would elect three out of five members.
– P - Probably.
– I think it is a dead certainty.
– I - It does not matter so long as there are four members on each side.
– The difficulty is to get four. It can be done in this Parliament, but take a normal Parliament, where we have a right to assume that the party dominant in one House would be dominant in both. In that case the party with a majority in the other House would elect three out of the five members, and the same party being in a majority in the Senate would elect two out of the three members. The result would be that that party would have five out of the eight members on the Committee in a perfectly legitimate way, to which no one could take exception. There is the difficulty to be overcome. No matter of principle is involved. It is a matter of expediency, in order to arrive at the best results.
SenatorRae. - Supposing that we leave the numbers equal, and give three to the Senate.
– Then we shall get an uneven number which means that one party will have a majority. The Government have thought over the matter in all its various bearings, with the one simple desire of getting a Committee which would represent both parties equally, and also both Houses. In these circumstances, I commend to the honorable senators the expediency of taking the clause as it stands, and we can, at any rate, see how it will work.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.54]. - As regards the division of parties, I do not think that it would matter very much if the whole of the members of the Liberal party on the Committee were in one House and the whole of the members of the Labour party were in the other House. There will be a Joint Committee, and both parties will be equally represented.
– I tried to show the impossibility of insuring that representation.
– I - I do not see that there is any difficulty. What the Minister seems to desire is that there should be an equal proportion of each party in each House, but that is no* essential.
– On the whole Committee; but you cannot do that under your proposal.
.- I t I think it is as near as we can get to the fair division, and although our portion of the membership is perhaps a little more than it ought to be, it is far nearer to a just proportion than is that of three ‘ to one, which is proposed in this clause.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator O’Loghlin) agreed to -
That the word “ six,” in sub-clause 2, be left out, with a view to insert the word “ five.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Declaration to be subscribed by members).
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [4.58]. - I should like to ask the Minister of Defence if there is any part of this measure which prevents the evasion of the Act by the Ministry?
– I know of no provision which we can insert in a law which will prevent people from breaking it. I do notthink there is any possible form of words which will enable us to provide that safeguard. But I would point out to SenatorRae that no public work can be commenced until Parliament has made an appropriation for it. Therefore, if a work be brought forward which involves an expenditure of, say, £15,000, Parliament will be in a position to judge whether it is a bond fide complete work, or whether it represents merely the initial portion of a big work.
– If Parliament sees fit to authorize the construction of a public work, I desire to know whether it could be proceeded with in the face of an adverse decision of the Public Works Committee?
– It could be proceeded with only by the direct moving of the Governor-General. If the Public Works Committee reports adversely to any proposed work, its decision must be regarded as final for the time being.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Functions of Committee).
– In this clause it is proposed to exclude from the purview of the Commiti tee works for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth. I should like to know what reason there is for exempting such works?
– I thought that hadbeen remedied.
– I wish to know upon what ground - except that of precedent - it is proposed to exempt from the investigation of the Committee works of this description?
– Would the building of a battle-ship be a public work ?
– Senator Rae has almost stated the position in one question. It is obvious that works for naval and military purposes are called for by considerations of strategy, and, therefore, they ought not to form the subject of an inquiry by a Committee whose members will be without that knowledge which is necessary to determine whether such works are required. For instance, Admiral Henderson has reported that certain naval bases are needed. Suppose that the question of whether those bases are required were referred to the Public Works Committee, and that the Committee decided that they were not. What would be our position ? Our works for naval and military purposes stand in entirely a different category from other works.
– The Minister does not assume that every work recommended by the proposed Committee will be adopted by Parliament?
– I am now dealing with the question of whether it will be profitable to ask this Committee to inquire into such works. Take a fort, for example. The military authorities may say that, for reasons of safety, the construction of a certain fort is necessary. In such circumstances it would surely be surplusage to refer to the Committee the question of whether or not that) fort should be built. For this reason the Government have thought it well to exclude naval and military works from this Bill. With regard to ordinary works the proposed Committee will inquire into how far the conditions of the country call for them. They will inquire, for example, into what effect a proposed railway is likely to have on the development of the country, and what will be its sources of revenue. These things come- under the heading of business considerations. The Committee will be properly equipped, and will be a competent body to make such an inquiry. But, in defence undertakings, quite a different set of considerations have to be taken into account. For that reason the Government thought ft expedient to exclude from the functions of the Committee works associated with the defence of the country.
– I do not agree with the logic of Senator Millen. Surely all our public works are recommended by expert officers. There is usually an agitation by the residents of any district which is interested in a particular public work. Take the case of the transcontinental railway as a case in point. That was the subject of a groat deal of public agitation for a considerable time before it was referred to any expert. The people of Western Australia, and to a lesser degree of South Australia, demanded that that line should be built. Subsequently, experts, both military and railway, were called in. The military knowledge of Lord Kitchener was referred to more than once in that connexion. Similarly we had the railway experience of Mr. Deane, of Surveyor Muir, and of others, to guide us in the consideration of that proposal. There is no reason why we should ignore the advice of a military expert, any more than we should ignore that of a railway expert. I can see very little reason why naval and military works should be excluded from the investigations of the proposed Committee.
– Would the honorable senator regard the purchase of a warship as a public work?
– I do not know that even the proposed purchase of warships should not be the subject of inquiry by this Committee. If it be a proper thing to hold a searching investigation into any proposal to build a railway, why is it not equally proper to conduct a similar investigation into the proposed purchase of a warship? A member of Parliament is no more an expert in the construction of railways than he is in the construction of warships. We cannot possibly make the proposed Public Works Committee a Committee of experts. All that we can hope for is that its members will bring common sense to bear upon the subjects remitted to them for inquiry, and that they will report to Parliament to the best of their ability. If they inquire into naval and military expenditure it seems to me that a good deal of evidence may be collected which will form a guide to Parliament, and thus a saner judgment upon many things will be the result. I have all along ‘been opposed to the formation of an Australian Navy, for the simple reason that I do not believe we are able to foot the bill necessary to provide a decent Navy. I am just as anxious as is anybody that we should have “a big, powerful Navy for the defence of this country. I merely doubt our ability to pay for it.
– That question does not ariseunder this Bill.
– The honorable senator made an interjection a little while ago which rather misled me. He said that the Bill had been altered, and now I find that it has not.
– Let the honorable senator look at clause 15, and he will find that it has been altered. The Minister of Defence was not aware of it, but defence works have been included. The one clause modifies the other.
– If it is a modification of a clause saying “ Yes “ to have another clause saying “ No,” it is news to me. Clause 14 reads -
The Committee shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, consider and report upon every public work (except any work already authorized by Parliament, or which is authorized during the present session, and except works for the naval or military defence of the Commonwealth exempted by Order in Council from the operation of the Act).
We should know that naval and military works are to be exempt or not, without any Order in Council. The clause lays down the principle that certain naval and military expenditure may be exempt from the operation of tike Bill. I want to see all naval . and military expenditure brought under its operation. There is just as much need to inquire into that expenditure as into railway . expenditure. I have recently received a shock on the question of the wisdom of putting faith in so-called experts. I find that there are many men going about with a string of letters attached to their names, which are meaningless. They are obtained in a cheap and shoddy way by paying a contribution of £3 3s. into a sort of scratchback association. One calls himself a “civil engineer,” and, because another fellow says “ ditto,” they go forth to the public with a shoddy professional . status that means no tiling.
– Some of them are not very civil.
– Many of them are not engineers, either. We should have the same control over naval and military expenditure that we have over expenditure upon other public works.
– Probably the Minister of Defence, when he made his statement, was not aware that this Bill was altered in its passage through another place, or he would have given an explanation which would have satisfied the Committee. As originally introduced, the Bill exempted naval and military expenditure altogether, but it was pointed out in another place that there is some naval and military expenditure which might very properly be referred to such a Committee. For instance, expenditure proposed upon clothing and harness factories might very well be referred to such a Committee.
– Why should not all naval and military expenditure be referred to the Committee ?
– Any one who takes a reasonable view of matters must see that there is some expenditure, such, for instance, as that involved in the construction of a battle-ship, which ought not tobe referred to such a Committee. It would be a matter of policy. The Government would come down with a proposal to increase the Fleet by a first class cruiser or destroyer. Parliament might say, “ Our Fleet is big enough,” but in such a case what could be referred to a Public Works Committee? We could not ask such a Committee whether it would be better to have a cruiser of the City class, of the Highflyer class, or a first or second class submarines.
– It would be quite possible to submit all those questions to the Committee.
– What would the Committee do if we did? They would send for the naval officers. But I remind Senator de Largie that the Minister of Defence, before making the recommendation, would have sought the advice of the naval officers, and would have acted upon it.
– That is an argument against the Bill altogether.
– It would be a waste of time to refer works of the character mentioned to the proposed Committee. Take the case of the establishment of a fort. That would be, after all, a strategic question, and surely Senator de Largie would not contend that it should be referred to a Public Works Committee.
– It would be a private and confidential matter.
– There is a lot of humbug about these private and confidential matters connected with naval and military affairs.
– It would be a private and confidential matter, and we know that the plans of fortifications are kept strictly secret, and that the greatest precautions are taken to prevent them getting into the hands of unauthorized persons. As the Bill stands, naval and military works will be referred to the Committee automatically, unless the Government take the exceptional course of passing an Order in Council to exempt them. Where they take that course, Parliament will be in a position to say whether it objects to it, and whether the works should be referred to the Committee.
– As responsible men, we can recognise that there is a good deal in the contention of the Minister in charge of the Bill. It would be overstepping the mark to permit a Committee, of the character of that proposed to be established under the Bill, to go into the question of the number of torpedo boats to be provided, the erection of certain forts, or the construction of battle-ships, de stroyers, submarines, or air-ships. On the other hand, there is no reason why a Public Works Committee should not deal with proposals for the erection of barracks and the resumption of big areas of land for rifle ranges. I have a good’ deal of sympathy with many of the remarks made by Senator de Largie, but I think it would be going too far to submit proposals for the construction of battleships, forts, and works of that character, to a Public Works Committee. I understand from Senator Pearce that provision has been made in the Bill in another place to meet the difficulty.
– That is so.
– I am quite prepared to give that idea my support.
– Nothing has been said which has in any way modified _ my opinion. I interjected that there is a good deal of humbug about the secrecy claimed in respect of forts, guns, and all implements of war. When any one of the great Powers makes an improvement upon a gun or a fort, it is only a matter of & few days, weeks, or months before it is known to all the rest. Even schemes of mobilization become known. There is very little in the argument as to secrecy. The officials of the Naval and Military Departments must know these secrets, and why should not politicians know them? I do not see why men who have been selected by the people of the country to represent them should not know all that is going on.
– Suppose there was trouble between the Old Country and Germany, and we decided secretly to spend £6,000,000 in improving our position, would the honorable senator submit a proposal of that kind to the Public Works Committee?
– Why should we not?
– Why should we? I should say that Australia should immediately begin to make secret preparations.
– The proposal should be referred to the Committee to see that the £5,000,000 is spent to the best advantage. The whole object of this Bill is to make provision to insure that public money shall be spent to the best advantage.
– Would the honorable senator reveal the secrets of the torpedo boat. depot at Garden Island, Sydney?
– I do not know why politicians should not know them. If there are politicians in this Parliament who could not be as readily trusted to keep these matters secret as any officer in the employment of the Government, we should not pass such a measure as this at all. I am satisfied that everything involving the expenditure of public money should go before .the Committee.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [5.25].- The reason for keeping military secrets from members of Parliament is not because they are unreliable persons, but because if information of that kind were given to Parliament it would necessarily permeate through the public press. There are abundant reasons why defence secrets and matters relating to strategy should not be published. They should only be intrusted to a select few. We have experts appointed to advise the Government on defence matters. They are bound to secrecy, and cannot disclose the information in their possession except to properly-authorized persons. It would be wry unwise to depart from that rule. It would do no harm for the whole worlds to know about the evidence taken by the Committee with respect to an ordinary railway, but it would be mischievous to publish military information. The whole purpose of the Committee is that it shall take evidence and advise Parliament. The amendment made in another place affords a very happy solution. I agree with Senator Pearce that such matters as rifle ranges, the clothing factory, and so on, may very well be referred to the Public Works Committee. For instance, in the newspapers to-day, there is an account of a very expensive work at Maribyrnong for stabling. If that matter had been referred to a Public Works Committee it would probably have reported against an unnecessarily expensive design for the work.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 36 agreed to.
Clause 37 (Fees to be a charge on Consolidated Revenue Fund).
– Suppose that a particular
Government were not in accord with the Public Works Committee, and refused toput a sum of money on the Estimates for its purposes. That might prevent the Committee from travelling and taking evidence. A case of the kind occurred recently. The Senate has certain powers of investigation. It appointed a Committee to inquire into a matter of public importance. But the Government refused the Committee funds.
.- The difference between the Public Works Committee and such a Committee as Senator de Largie has instanced is clearly marked. The purpose of the clause under review is to make it quite clear that, irrespective of any action which the’ Government may take, every member 1 of the Committee shall be entitled to a certain fee. The fees are made a charge on the Consolidated Revenue. The Government does, not come into the matter at all. It has no say once this measure has passed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 38 agreed to.
Clause 39 (Proviso limiting total of fees and sum for expenses).
– This clause appears to fix a rigid limit to the expenses which may be incurred by the Public Works Committee. A side note shows that there is a similar section in the New South Wales Act. If £2,000 be the limit of expenditure in New South Wales, it is short-sighted to expect that that amount will be sufficient for a Committee which will have the whole of the Commonwealth as its area of inquiry. We can imagine that a work will have to be inquired into in the Northern Territory, or in l&e north-west of Western Australia, or in North Queensland. In following the New South Wales example, it seems to me that we are fixing too ironbound a limit to the expenditure that may be incurred on behalf of the Committee.
– This clause provides that the Committee shall not, during any one financial year, incur expenses in excess of £2,000. Possibly the difficulty raised by Senator Lynch may, be overcome in this respect1 - that when the Committee is dealing with public works to be paid for out of loan money, the expenditure in connexion with the inquiry may be met out of the Loan Fund.
– This clause says that the total amount may not exceed £2,000.
– There is a good deal in what Senator Lynch points out. It is all very well to fix such an amount for New South Wales or Victoria; but take the case of works in the Northern Territory, or in North Queensland. An inquiry of that kind might absorb the whole £2,000. In some years the expenditure may not run into anything like that amount, while in other years a great deal more may be required. It seems to be a very rigid provision.
– I quite recognise the force of the contention advanced by Senator Lynch and Senator Maughan, but it appeared to the Government, as I think it will appear to the Committee, rather desirable to put a limit there, if only as an assurance to people outside that we had not brought in a Bill for the purpose of scattering round recklessly large sums of money. I admit that the amount does look modest when we consider that the Committee will have to travel over a very wide area indeed, but I remind honorable senators that we have to eliminate from the item of travelling expenses the cost of railway fares, because that is already covered by the passes members carry.
– Will this include clerical assistance?
– No, it will not include any of the officials who will necessarily be associated with the operations of the Committee. It is simply for the payment of fees to the members themselves and their travelling expenses. If we assume that half of the amount will be requisite for travelling expenses, that will still leave the necessary fees for a hundred meetings of the full Committee in a year. Looked at in that way, I think it is not an unfair proposition, at any rate, to make a start with, relying upon experience to show us whether it is necessary or not.
– I hope that the Committee will not alter the amount, though it may look small. There is a danger that if we were to alter the amount the Committee might ramble abroad, and incur expenses without limitation. At the same time, inasmuch as this is, to a certain extent, experimental legislation, I think that it is wise to set down an amount beyond which the Committee, no matter who they may be, shall not go. If it is found after experience that £2,000 a year is not sufficient to enable the Committee to conduct the inquiries into big works, it can be left to the Parliament, from time to time, to increase the amount which may be spent for that purpose. I hope that honorable senators will stand to the £2,000.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 40, schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I can explain the reason for this Bill in a very few words. It has been found quite recently, in connexion with the taking over of quarantine and lighthouses, that a certain number of very eligible officers in several of the States are, owing to the provisions of our Act, debarred from entering the Public Service of the Commonwealth. That is an example of the type of men whom the Bill will affect. The reason for its introduction has arisen, perhaps, in two ways. I have in my mind the case of a man who is employed in the lighthouse service of a State, bub who, owing to some financial necessity of the State, or for some other reason, was temporarily, in, say, January or February, 1901, put out of employment. As a matter of fact, he was told that the State would be only too glad to take him back as soon as an opportunity arose. The provision in the Act barred all men who entered the service of a State on and after 1st January, 1901, and so that man, amongst others, now finds himself in the position that he cannot be taken into the Commonwealth service, although he is a trusted servant of the State.
– Does that applyto all transfers?
– It applies to all public servants of the States who are governed by the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and more especially to those who have rights of transfer.
– Accruing ?
– I mean rights of transfer when services are transferred to. the Commonwealth. There is also another class, and that is men who have come into the service of a State since 1st January, 1901. The Bill is meant to cover those two classes. In a word, it is brought in to remedy hard cases, and to do a simple act of justice to a few persons of the Commonwealth. I commend it to honorable senators.
– I welcome this Bill. It will, I suppose, in the course of time, affect many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of persons, especially in the railway services, who may from time to time feel disposed to leave the State service and enter that of the Commonwealth. Take, for instance;, the position of an engineer in Tasmania who is transferred to the Commonwealth service. In the absence of this measure he might be called upon to climb, as it were, a pretty long ladder before he got the status which he had enjoyed in the Tasmanian service. The Bill is a welcome piece of legislation, and has my support, because I think I know a few cases which may come under its provisions.
– There are probably some in every State.
– I welcome the principle of this Bill, but before it is read a second time I wish to ask whether it will insure to any State officer, on his transfer to the Commonwealth service, any rights and privileges which are accruing to him in the State service. In other words, will a State officer lose anything on a transfer to the Commonwealth?
– That question is, of course, governed by the Public Service Act. This Bill will not take anything from the rights of a State officer on his transfer to the Commonwealth. It will simply put him to-day in the same position as any of the State servants were on the 1st January, 1901, when, as the honorable senator knows, the Commonwealth took over a number of Depart ments from the States, and with them their officers.
– And whatever rights were accruing then will be continued ?
– Dealing with the men, this Bill puts the exceptions on the same footing as the rest.
Question resolved in the affirmative!
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
– I move -
That this Bill bc now read a second time.
Honorable senators will recollect that this Bill has had a rather curious and devious history. When it was first brought to light it represented a desire on the part of the other branch of the Legislature to appoint from its own members a Committee of Public Accounts, and to give it enlarged powers. When the measure came before us, we decided that the Senate was entitled to proper representation upon that Committee. I was in favour of this Chamber being represented upon it, and I am still in favour of that course being adopted. When we returned the Bill to the ‘ other House, that Chamber resolved to cut out from it the power to appoint its own Committee to deal with public accounts. I will admit that our greed to share in the representation on the proposed Committee will prevent us from appointing our own Committee if at any time we desire to appoint it. Consequently, the Bill was withdrawn, and the measure which we now have before us was introduced in its stead. It provides for the appointment of a. Joint Committee, consisting of members of both branches of the Legislature. I believe that an effort was made in another place to come to an arrangement regarding the time when members who will form the Committee should be nominated. I regret to say that the other branch of the Legislaturewas npt able to agree to the appointment of the members of this Committee during the current session. Consequently, if the Senate passes this Bill, it will do so on the distinct understanding that no members will be appointed to the proposed Committee this session. In other words,, the measure will remain in abeyance just as will the Public Works Committee Bill,, with which we have just dealt. There was an idea that the members of the Committee should be appqinted during the present session. That idea has now been dropped, so that the Bill, if passed, will be a piece of machinery ready to come into operation when Parliament meets next session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
– Owing to the recasting of this measure, I notice that the Senate is not getting proportional representation on this Committee.
– Not quite, but very nearly.
– There may be a lot of virtue in the old saying that “he who humbleth himself shall’ be exalted.” But I do not like the idea that the Senate should always humble itself in the hope that it will get something better. If honorable senators are to take any part in the scrutiny of the public accounts, we should have proportional representation on this Committee. I gather, from the -statements of the Honorary Minister, that he is very jealous of the status of this Chamber. I think we are indebted to him for the way in which he is prepared to stand up for its reasonable representation upon the Committee. But when he brings forward a proposal that the Senate shall be represented on the Committee by only two members out of a total of seven, I confess that the proposal does not appeal tome. I would like to see the strength of thisbody increased to nine members, and the Senate given representation on- it to; the extent of three members. If we are to have only two members out of seven upon it, the representatives of the other branch of the Legislature will be able to outvote us on every occasion.
– Why not make the1 representation on this Committee similar to that which has been adopted in connexion with the Public Works Committee?
– That would be a better proportion still. Rather than accept a representation upon it of two members out of seven, I would prefer to see the Bill rejected. I move -
That the word “ seven,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “eight.”
My idea is that the Senate should have three members on the Committee, and the other branch of the Legislature five members.
– I would remind, Senator Lynch of a very old couplet -
In matters of commerce, the fault of the Dutch
Was in giving too little and asking too much. .
I am afraid that that is what the House of Representatives will say about us if we agree to this amendment. We know that another place has already refused to give us a representation on this Committee of three members out of nine, and yet the honorable senator is asking it to give us a representation of three members out of eight. In order that we may’ avoid the imputation which is conveyed in the couplet I have quoted’, I suggest that it would be wise to provide for a Committee of nine members, on which the Senate should have three representatives.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Lynch) agreed to1 -
That the word “ seven,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ nine.”
Amendments (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That the word “Two,” line 12, be left out, with a. view to insert, in lieu thereof the word “ Three “ ; and that the word “ five,” line 14, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ six.”’
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 3’ to 6: agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to-
That the following new clause be added : - “ 7. Every Committee of Public Accounts appointed under this Act shall hold office as such Committee, and may exercise all powers conferred upon it for the term of the Parliament during which it is appointed.”
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with, amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The Prime Minister: Language used in Debate - Members of Parliament : Employment of Shorthand Writers and Typists - Stamp-selling Machine.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed.
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– This motion affords me the only convenient opportunity I shall have to do certain work which I think is necessary to do in the interests of the whole community. A statement was read in the Senate, about a week ago, by the Minister of Defence regarding certain language alleged to have been made use of chiefly in another branch of the Legislature. The statement was signed by the Prime Minister - Mr. Joseph Cook - and has gone forth to the public in vindication of certain charges which he made against this branch of the Legislature. It was because the honorable gentleman’s charges referred to the Senate that exception was taken to them here, and that led to the statement to which I refer. I notice’ that in South Australia, during the last week or so, meetings have been held by the members of the Liberal party, and use has been made of this statement from the Prime Minister to show what a wicked lot of people we are in the Federal Parliament. Advantage has been taken of the statement, especially by the Premier of South Australia. He has addressed meetings, and has gloatingly quoted the utterances attributed to “those Labour fellows” in the Federal Parliament. If any person in South Australia now does anything out of the ordinary, he is told by the Premier of the State that “he is surely qualifying for a position in the Federal Parliament.” I am prepared to allow this Parliament to accept full responsibility for all that is said in these legislative chambers contrary to the ordinary conduct of debate. If honorable . senators do not object tohave it said that the language they use is “ not fit for a pothouse,” I am prepared to let it go, but I am anxious that both sides of the question should be placed before the public. The names appearing on the list read by the Minister of Defence from the statement submitted by the Prime Minister are the names only of members of the Labour party. I am anxious that the other side should be given. I have, therefore, gone to a little trouble in preparing a list of expressions used by Ministerialists to which some exception might be taken, and I intend to have it recorded in Hansard, so that members of the Labour party, when they enter upon the campaign, after the forthcomingdouble dissolution, will be able to put the two lists side by side. I am confident that when that is done the members of Liberal unions will be very glad indeed to- drop their references to the language used by members of the Labour party in another place. Whilst the Senate was charged with being the greatest offender in regard to the kind of languageused, only one member of this Chamber was mentioned in connexion with the matter. I intend to have my list recorded in Hansard, so that it may be conveniently available for reference.
– The honorable senator may get his list into Hansard, but I doubt whether it will be published by the press as readily as was the other list.
– I undertake tosay that it will be published in some sections of the press, anyhow. I give Mr. Joseph Cook, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, pride of place at the top of my list. These are examples of thelanguage used by that honorable gentleman - “ If honorable members are going on like this, I shall not say a bloomin word. “ I stand corrected by the elegant gentleman, over there.” “Will the honorable member allow me to tell, him that he does not know what he is talking about?” “ The honorable gentleman should mind his-, own’ business.” “ A more infamous statement never came out’, of the mouth of any individual. It is nottrue.” “They are still the ‘screaming urchins’ drag,ged from the tart shop.” “‘Here again is the lie.” “ I think the honorable gentleman is a good judge of what is blooming strong.” “Do not be silly.” “What is the matter with this perky little man over there?” “ May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to stop these insults, or I shall have to stop them myself.” “ I hardly ever rise now but I am met with insults from theoither side, and. if you, Mr. Speaker, do not protect me, I shall have to take steps to protect myself.” “ I do not suppose you have ever reversed yours; you have not the brains.” “ Why does not the honorable gentlemanhold his tongue?” “ And three ‘ wowsers.’ “ “A lot of dingoes over there; behave like men.” “A mean crowd to make a point of that sort.” “ If you were a man you would take a man’s denial.” “ That is a complete misrepresentation - an absolute and unqualified misrepresentation.” “ Another inaccurate statement.” “ I say that this is beneath contempt.” “ We prefer to let the ‘ squib ‘ fizzle out.” “A speaker’s feelings may be roused, especially if there are about1.000 savages in the hall.” “ I will ask you nothing ; learn how to behave yourself.” “ Docs the honorable gentleman think he is justified in wasting the time of the country with that ‘tripe’?” “ One word will describe the honorable . member’s tirade, and that is ‘ hogwash.’ “ “ This sneering and superfine member.” “ Chair ; you bully !” “ Will the honorable member hold his tongue - if he can?” “ Stop your impertinence.” “ An infamous misrepresentation.” “ Mind your own business.” “ Don’t you become idiotic.”
I got tired of looking through Hansard for these choice expressions by the Prime Minister, and closed his list at that. I made another list of a few expressions used . by Sir John Forrest. The right honorable gentleman said - “ Shut up ; this is a piece of impertinence.” “ That is not true.” “ That is an unfair statement ; the honorable member is dirty to make it.”
Mr. Kelly said “ A contemptible remark from an ex-Speaker.” “ The honorable member knows that what he says is not true.” “That statement is not true.” “ That is a barefaced statement.” “ That is absolutely without foundation, and the honorable member knows it.” “ Chair ! What about that for a contemptible insinuation ?” “ Like the honorable member, I am vulgar enough to glory in my ignorance.” “ This is a gross calumny.” “ The honorable member will make Ananias tura in his grave.”
I have one sample from Mr. W. H. Irvine, who said - “Absolutely untrue.”
Colonel Ryrie said - “Put him out.” “ I made use of the expression,’ put him out,’ and had I been in your place, Mr. Speaker., I should have had him put out.” c “ These interjections from a supercilious and elongated- “ “ Honorable members opposite are a lot of blathering hypocrites.” “ You miserable body-snatcher.” “I would like- to have that matter set at rest, quietly and dispassionately. I suggest to honorable members that if they would select six of the biggest or the best men they have, and come quietly- “
Mr. Boyd said “ That is a lie.” “ The honorable member is like a rooster on his own midden.” “ The honorable member is the lineal descendant of Scotch savages.”
I quite recognise that in my list I have omitted a great many similar expressions used in another place, but, seeing that one list has already been published, I thought it as well to put another alongside of it, and, in fairness to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, I have paid him the special attention of giving him pride of place and the longest list of them all. I am confident that my statement will be received with gratitude by people who have taken considerable notice of the one-sided statement that is before the public at the present time. AH who appreciate fair play will admit that it is only fair that each side should be represented. I wish to say, in conclusion, that members of Parliament are just like other people, and, before they commence throwing stones at each other, they should remember that it is a very dangerous practice, and one which they should be the last to adopt, because none ofus is so perfect that some one else cannot find some fault with the other.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Honorary Minister to a request made in another place, that honorable members of that House should he supplied with the assistance of shorthand writers and typists to enable them to cope with their voluminous correspondence. I realize that such assistance should be given, but I wish to know whether it is to be confined to members of the House of Representatives? If given at all, it should be given to members of both branches of the Legislature. Whilst the correspondence of members in another place is, no doubt, voluminous, the correspondence of honorable senators is just as voluminous, and their duties as arduous. When I was in the Western Australian Parliament, the practice was instituted of providing shorthand-typists to assist members in their correspondence. I am of opinion that that practice should, be introduced here. I wish to refer again to the stamp-selling machine which has been placed outside the Town Hall, Melbourne. A change has taken place since I last called attention to it. To-day I put a penny in seven times. The penny came back to me every time, but I got no stamp. I suggest thatthe PostmasterGeneral should be informed that it would be better to put that stamp-selling machine on the scrap-heap. It is absolutely a delusion and a snare.
– I can assure Senator Needham that whatever arrangement is made for members of the House of Representatives in regard’ to providing typists, -I will see that a similar arrangement is made for senators. As for the “ thieving “ machine to which he has referred, I think that the sooner this Government dissociate themselves from it the better. Otherwise we shall be accused of resorting to corrupt practices. I will bring the subject under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time and passed through its remaining stages.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
This Bill resembles others that have been previously passed, and is intended to legalize payments made by the Treasurer for commitments prior to the 30th June. Xo say more would merely be to duplicate remarks made by Senator Clemons in submitting the previous Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first and second time, and reported without request.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Is there no means of obviating the practice of bringing before Parliament four or five Bills to cover expenditure up to about £1,000,000? Surely it would be more creditable to our methods if all Treasurer’s Advances were covered by one comprehensive measure. I do not blame this Government in particular. I suppose that the same course has been adopted by previous Governments.
– It is always done.
– I think we might improve on the method. It ought not to be necessary to occupy time by using the forms of Parliament to pass a number of Bills, when one ought to be sufficient.
– I sympathize with the view Senator Lynch has put, but I think that it would not be possible to give effect to it. Parliament makes advances to the Government of the day in order that payments may be made to meet contingencies from time to time. The Treasurer then submits his accounts for the money spent, and Parliament has to give its sanction to the expenditure.
– I take advantage of the opportunity to say that something ought to be done during the recess to help members of Parliament to lessen the burden of correspondence with which they have to deal. It is well known that the time of members of Parliament is greatly taken up with writing letters. A suggestion to meet the trouble has been made in another place, and I venture to hope, sir, that you, during the recess, will give your support to any steps that are taken to provide typists to do this work.
– I shall do my part to keep this matter alive. I will discuss it with the Government, with a view of enabling honorable senators to secure that assistance which I have always been of opinion that they more than deserve.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator
McColl), read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from this day, vide page 4677) :
Divisions 40 to 80, £2,817,714.
.- Under the’ head of “ Naval Establishments, Sydney,” is an item of £400 for “ Inspector of boilermakers.” I want to know what an inspector of boilermakers means. Is he a medical gentleman, or is he a man who carries the weights and scales with him? I speak very feelingly on this matter, because I belong to this honorable profession, and, in the ordinary course of events, it may not be long before I shall have to tackle it again . In these circumstances, I should like to get a little information concerning this item. I know that there is an inspector of boilermakers at Garden Island. When I was honorary secretary to my union, they rang me up by telephone one day, and said that they wanted some boilermakers. I sent down two men, one, being an athlete, a sculler, and a footballer, and the other a fellow who had been suffering from infirmities all his life - one of those lady-like gentlemen we see. There was an inspector of boilermakers at the island, because they returned the athlete to me, saying that they could not take him, and took the other man-why, I do not know. I desire to ascertain the duties of an inspector of boilermakers. I should like to take the billet on at £4.00 a year. It seems to me that there is something wrong in the wording.
.- At an earlier hour in the ! day, Senator Lynch referred to the question of night drills for the trainees. I think that, as far as possible, night drills should be abolished, for more reasons than one. In the first place, the boys are trained to fit themselves for military service, but we do not want to interfere with their education in any way. I think that their nights might be better occupied in equipping themselves for the trade or calling which they intend to follow. We ought to give the trainees a chance to attend a technical school for that purpose. Again, I think that in the case of any boy who is employed, the employer should allow him leave of absence, and pay him for the hours which he has to put in at drill. Senator Lynch also referred to the total amount which we are asked to appropriate for the defence of Australia. I am not one of those who wish to cut down the amount. So long as the nations of the world are arming must we prepare to defend our own household. If the invitation of the Right Honorable Winston Churchill to the nations of the world to take a naval holiday were accepted, there might be some reason for cutting down our expenditure on naval armaments. But so long as the nations are arming, it is absolutely imperative for Australia to keep pace in preparing, not only to defend our own household, but to assist the Empire to protect itself against any invasion or any attempt to wrest from it the supremacy it holds today. That being so, I cannot see any logic at all in any of the arguments which have been adduced for cutting down the defence expenditure. We are compelled, despite ourselves, to keep pace with other nations. We have promised the Mother Country that we will assist her in . the defence of the Empire, and so we must keep up this expenditure unless other nations agree to what has- been proposed..
– Are we to take part in this mad race of armaments ?
– I agree with the honorable senator that it is a mad race of armaments, but while it continues’ it is essential that we should keep our place in the race. I regret, with other honorable senators, that there is a necessity for a mad race, but it is staring us in the face, and it will be futile to attempt to cut down the total amount for defence expenditure until such time as there is an understanding amongst the nations who might be aggressive towards ourselves to cut down their expenditure. These are the two matters I wish to mention. The Minister, I know, will agree with me generally in re- gard to the latter matter, and I “think that he might endeavour to evolve a scheme whereby the Area Officers could De instructed to, as far as possible, have the drills in the day-time. If it comes to a question of the employer having to .give* a trainee leave of > absence, I think that he ought to bear the expense of the time which might be so used, because the boy is training, not only to defend Australia, but to help to defend the interests of the Empire. T do not expect the Minister to evolve such a scheme to-night, but I think that he might give due consideration to my suggestion, with a view to abolishing night drills.
.- I have not taken up any time in discussing any items of the Estimates, but 1 desire to say a few words on the subject of defence. I regret very much that the forms of parliamentary government only give to Parliament a nominal control over the Estimates. As a matter of fact, in the best of times, we get very little real control, but, with the practice which seems to have grown up under every Government of leaving the Estimates for discussion to the dying hours of the session, it is impossible for us to devote that time and attention to die various items which their importance demands. The people of the country do expect that items in which sections of them take a special interest should receive criticism at the hands of their representatives. Yet, owing to this unfortunate habit of always leaving the consideration of the Estimates until the last possible moment, and then rushing them through with all kinds of appeal to us to let honorable senators get home,4 we cannot give proper attention to them,’ and so it is just as well to let them go through without discussion, because the little consideration which can be given is futile. The Ministers, of course, must take on themselves the responsibility for the Estimates submitted and carried through Parliament. I wish to say a few words on the points raised by Senator Needham, and also by Senator Pearce, whom we all look upon as somewhat of an authority en Australian defence. I agree with them that whilst this mad competition amongst the nations of the world exists we must have a Naval and Military Force. More particularly do I consider that our Military Force is our first line of defence in this country, although the reverse is the case at the heart of the Empire. But whilst holding that belief, and giving my cordial approval to the compulsory military training system - and I have evidenced that by doing all I could to get my own sons brought under the provisions of the Act - I do not see that our recognition of these facts necessarily leads us to devote the same proportionate expenditure to our armaments as may be the case in Europe or the United Kingdom. It is all very well to say that while the mad race of armaments continues we must be in the front of the race. I chink that the different conditions that pertain justify us in taking on a lower scale of expenditure than may be necessary in th« case of European countries.
– What do you mean by that general statement?
– If Germany finds it necessary to increase the number of her troops France immediately responds by providing that for the conscripts there shall be a three-yearly service instead of a two-yearly one. In like manner, when Great Britain builds so many Dreadnoughts Germany decides that she must build so many more. Consequently, the nations in Europe are each intently watching the other, not merely to see whether a particular nation has as many troops, or as many ships, as the other, but whether it keeps up its relative strength, and whether, by any possible combination with its allies, it may be able ‘to hold the position should it ever be seriously attacked. We should take a secondary position to that altogether. To say that because the annual expenditure per head of the people of Great Britain or France, or Germany, may be so much justifies us in going to the same annual expenditure per head does not seem to me to be warranted by the facts of the situation. The fact that Great Britain is within practically a stone’s throw of France, Germany, and Italy, and that those countries are next-door neighbours to each other, compels them, if they mean to keep in the race at all, to keep up their relative strength, if not to try to make it better. But with us there is no occasion to go to anything like the proportionate length that they do, because of the vast distances that separate us from the fighting nations of the world. It is all very well to say that modern inventions have annihilated time and space. That is a poetic expression; it is not a literal fact. Notwithstanding all the improvements in locomotives - steam, oil fuel, and so on - -there is still a big handicap against any European nation that would attempt to invade Australia. It is idle to contend that we should expend anything like the amount per head on our protection that it may be necessary for European nations to expend on their protection. To look forward to the time when there will be peace between the nations of the earth is merely to look forward to the realization of a pious aspiration. I am not going to indulge in any speculation as to when that aspiration will be realized. There is no need for us to think tbat we are going to play a principal part in any drama which may be enacted in those countries of Europe in which a huge military and naval expenditure is being incurred. When we talk of the rapidly expanding naval armament of Germany menacing the naval superiority of Great Britain, we should remember that it is merely idle speculation to say that this or that country, by securing a majorityof ships, will necessarily be able to wipe out another country. Owing to the alliances which take place, no man can say that the mere fact of one nation being numerically stronger than another will give it the victory if a conflict should take place. When we recognise that the constant alliances and understandings between the different armed nations of the earth may at any time change the situation, we need not watch every little move on the part of those nations. We should content ourselves with providing a force that is reasonably sufficient to repel any attack that may take place on our shores. We should not attempt to rival other nations whose armaments are being built up, not merely for defensive, but for offensive, purposes. For this reason we should be satisfied with a small force, provided that it is trained up to the highest point of efficiency. We should aim at efficiency, but not at a huge and constantly growing expenditure, and neither the reports of Lord Kitchener nor of Admiral Henderson will in any way affect my feelings in that matter. We should set a limit to our expenditure, and within that limit we should secure, as nearly as possible, perfect efficiency. We should not allow this Frankenstein monster to grow and grow until our defence expenditure proves more disastrous to the community than would even the risk of a conflict. We can so overstep the bounds of prudence in this matter as to put such a grievous burden on this young community, which requires so much of its surplus wealth for developmental purposes, as will lead to nothing but chaos and disaster in the near future. For that reason I wish to sound a note of warning to those who think that because Europe is armed to the teeth we must necessarily emulate her example. The condition of nations which may at any time be called upon to take the offensive is vastly different from that of a community which is separated by thousands of miles from the storm centre, and which may never be drawn into a conflict other than one to repel an invasion by the coloured races which are settled to the north of this continent. If we take that as pur ideal, we may very well incur any risk that may result from any complications that may arise.
– When is the honorable senator coming to the point?
SenatorRAE. - I have already reached the point, and if the honorable senator does not like it, it is not fair for him to hit at me from behind. My point is - I repeat it for the benefit of those whose understanding may be dense - that, whilst we should be prepared to resist attack, there is no reason for our military expenditure to keep on growing at the rate at which it grew during the term of office of the late Administration. I say that as a supporter of that Administration, and after giving every credit to those who attempted to make our land and sea forces as efficient as possible.
– I do not intend to say very much on the subject of defence, as the time at our disposal is unfortunately limited. To begin with, I have to complain of the manner in which the defence accounts are presented in the Bill which we are now considering. On page 66 of it I see that our defence expenditure is set down at £2,817,714. Any uninitiated person taking up this document would naturally conclude that that was. the total of our expenditure upon defence, whereas in reality, according to Knibbs, our defence expenditure for 1912-13 was £5,438,000. I say that our accounts ought to be presented in such a way that any ordinary individual could see at a glancehow much each Department costs.
– Has the honorable senator quoted the figures of Knibbs for the year ended 30thJune last?
– I think the honorable senator will find that the amount he has quoted represents the appropriation., and not the expenditure.
– At any rate, the heading reads, “ Expenditure on defence.” In any case, our expenditure upon defence last year was almost double the amount that is stated in these Estimates. ‘ If one wishes to find out the total cost, of course it is possible to do so by ransacking the schedule of the Bill from Dan to Beersheba; but that ought not to be necessary. Our accounts ought to be presented in an intelligible fashion. I agree with very much that has fallen from the lips of Senator Rae. It is high time that a halt was called in our ruinous defence expenditure. We know that all over the civilized world nations are arming against each other in the most insane fashion. That may be necessary in Europe, in the centre of which is a great population ; but we lie in one of the by-washes of the world, far removed from other nations, and are most unlikely to be the object of a successful attack by any invader. Not only do I think that we are spending too much upon, defence, but I think that we are spending it in the wrong way. I have said so before. I know that honorable senators will not agree with me. I know that few people in Australia will agree with me. But, nevertheless, I am convinced that I am right. I think that a large portion of our expenditure upon the Fleet is absolutely wasted. The money might as well be poured into the ocean, for if we utilized every farthing of our available revenue, together with’ all the ‘ money that we could beg, borrow, or steal, we could not place a fleet on the sea sufficient to keep any first class Power away from the shores of Australia. Why, then, should we attempt the impossible ? Honorable senators may say, “If we cannot do everything, why not do something?” But, in trying to do more than we are able, we are neglecting to do what is well within our power, namely, to provide such an effective land defence as would render Australia impregnable to attack by any foreigner.
– But we have insular Dependencies.
– That is bringing in another question altogether. I have been of opinion for a long time that continental Australia is big enough for me. We have’ been annexing island after island, and it appears to me that a large number of honorable senators suffer from the common Australian disease of earth hunger.
– Would the honorable senator leave Papua to the mercy of an invader?
– I would. Does the honorable senator think that if a German or Japanese army were landed in Papua to-morrow I would send the soldiers of Australia up there to drive it out ?
– The honorable senator would leave Papua unprotected?
– I would leave the troops here for the substantial reason that if I were fool enough to send to Papua a force sufficient to drive out the Japanese or the Germans, I should have to leave that portion of Australia for which I care anything at all, unprotected. That is the very thing that a foreign Power would wish Australia to do. What does the average foreign country care about Papua? What foreign Powers want - if they want anything - are the fair and fertile fieldsof this young Australia. Papua they do not require. Papua is within the tropics, and neither the Germans nor the Japanese care two straws about it.
– It is a funny thing that the Germans have a third of New Guinea now.
– And they are welcome to it, so far as I am concerned. Our first and our last duty is the defence of the continent on which we live. A Fleet is of no earthly value to us from that point of view.
– It is our first line of defence,
– We might as well have a mosquito net round Australia as the Fleet we have now. If a battleship of any first class Power came here, it could send our ships to the depths of the ocean within twenty-four hours.
– We would sink it beneath the cold waves.
– I am merely expressing my own opinion. It may not be of any value-
– That is why the honorable senator is giving it,
– I suppose that the Minister thinks that if I thought it was of any value I would not give it. I tell honorable senators frankly that when I find that my opinions agree with those of every one else, I begin to wonder whether I am not wrong, and I immediately cast out feelers to discover whether I have not been holding opinions for which there is absolutely no foundation. I say that we are wasting money on our Fleet. It is of no value to us from a defence point of view. It could be sunk in the depths of the ocean in a very few hours. What we do want is an effective land force, and that we can have, because it is within our reach.
– We want both.
– We cannot afford both. I agree with Senator Rae that if we go on piling up defence expenditure we shall involve ourselves in financial difficulties. We shall outrun the constable. This sort of thing cannot be allowed to go on. If we are going to economize, let us do so in the wisest direction. My view may be better worth pondering over than some honorable senators imagine. I think that the only effective line of defence we can have in Australia is land defence. If we have a sufficiently large number of trained men, with fortifications, and shore defence generally, I think we can place Australia in an almost impregnable position so far as an attack even by a first-class Power is concerned.
– Would the honorable senator .spend money on forts ?
– Undoubtedly. They are an absolute necessity.
– What if our forts were silenced ?
– What if our gunboats were sunk? Is it not more likely that a battle-ship will be sunk than that a fort will be silenced ? If our Fleet were sunk, and our forts silenced, would not the enemy then have to deal with the Australian Army, and, in the last resort, with the people of Australia generally? That is what I am trying to get at. Let me tell honorable senators that the people of Australia are not only our first, but our last, line of defence.- That is the line of defence that ought to be cultivated. Honorable senators need not be trembling in their shoes lest we should be attacked. The possibility is that we will be attacked. But honorable senators can remember the case of that little nation, the Boers, who almost successfully fought, not only one of the greatest land Powers in the world, but, at the same time, absolutely the greatest sea Power. Some military au thorities tell us that if the Boers had followed up the advantages they gained they would have driven the British into the sea. The Boer war provided a lesson which every Australian should take to heart.
– If the Boers had had four or five battle-ships, does the honorable senator think that Great Britain could have landed 250,000 men in the country?
– Yes, because Great Britain could have sent twenty battle-ships, or a sufficient number, to have sunk the battle-ships of the Boers.
– If the Boers had possessed battle-ships, the British transports could never have landed their men.
– If the Boers had had a fleet sufficiently large to meet the British Fleet in the open sea, they could have prevented the landing of the British, but not otherwise. I contend that we are spending too much on defence.
– On naval defence?
– On defence as a whole. We are spending in the’ wrong direction. If we cut out some of the expenditure on the Navy, and added materially to the strength of our land force, we should have a much better. hope of placing ourselves in a condition to repel the attack of any possible invader. I do not wish to unduly detain the Committee, because- I know that the Government and honorable senators generally are anxious that the Bill should pass at the earliest possible moment. But I do ask honorable senators to seriously consider the position. Defence expenditure is growing at an alarming rate. It must be cut down. There is no alternative. If we cut down defence expenditure, on what are we going to begin? On the Fleet or on the Army ? I say it would be insanity to cut down our shore expenditure, which is what we must depend upon in the ultimate. Our expenditure1 at present is, to a. great- extent, useless for the purpose of defence. In that opinion I am fortified by one of the greatest naval authorities alive- to-day. I refer to Mr. Hurd, who has1 written an article on the subject, which I recommend every member of theCommittee to read.
– I wish to make a few brief remarks in connexion with this vote. It is obvious that every member of the Committee has his own ideas as to the best means of defence for Australia. But I think we are all agreed that, as compared with the systems in existence under the old rlgime of the States, of which many of us have had experience in the State Parliaments, the Commonwealth system of defence is vastly superior. Under the Commonwealth Defence Act, for the first time in the history of Australia, we have been able to organize our defence in such a fashion as will at least command respect. Honorable senators will remember that the defence systems under the old State régime were a disgrace. I can leave other honorable senators to speak for their own States; but I know that Senator Stewart will agree with me that in the nineties, when we sat together in the Queensland Parliament, and ridiculed the defence proposals year after year, the fortresses throughout Queensland were a perfect farce, the military discipline was rotten, and the encampments ridiculous. I think that the same remarks might be applied to the defence systems operating in all the other States at the time. I think I am right in saying that we have to-day under the Commonwealth a fairly efficient Force, which is of far more value to Australia than the systems that were in vogue in years gone by. Twenty-nine members of the Senate are here pledged to a certain policy. As a matter of fact, the Liberals of Australia, as well as the Labour party, are pledged to what may be called a national defence system. But the Labour party have no escape. The fourth plank of their platform is -
A citizen defence force with compulsory military training and an Australian-owned and controlled Navy.
Honorable senators know that that programme cannot be carried out without money. A Citizen Defence Force means money. I agree with many of the arguments advanced by Senators Bae and Stewart. There is no answer to some of them. We all hope for the day when, throughout the world, the emblems, of war will be displaced by. the emblems of peace. But that time has not yet come. The question of expense is certainly very important. As a new member of the Senate, I may say that it occurs to me that our naval authorities will have to be very careful in regard to expenditure. I rose particularly to refer to the policy which seems to have been adopted by some of our naval experts in Australia, of adding the larger type of battle-ships to our Australian Navy. In this connexion, I should like to call the attention of honorable senators- to the fact that during the recent manoeuvres around the British coast some remarkable deductions were drawn by naval experts in the Old Country, more particularly in connexion with the rivalry which has been going on for months in the Old Country between the battle-ship system and the system of submarines and destroyers. On the 10th November, there appeared in the Melbourne newspapers the following cablegram -
The Standard, in commenting on the statement that the report of the recent naval manoeuvres has not been issued owing to the fact that Vice-Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s so-called “ German “ Fleet caDtured four British bases on the east coast, and landed a force of 60,000 men without meeting with disaster, says - “According to German information the Teal lesson of the British manoeuvres is that a raid of any importance is doomed to failure. . Owing to the astonishing superiority of the submarine over the Dreadnoughts, the havoc was so great that the Admiralty ordered the submarines to cease.”
I do not say that that is a clinching argument, but time will not permit me to advance further arguments in favour of my contention. The point I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Defence to - and I am not vain enough to believe that the honorable senator has not already considered the matter - is that we ought to be particularly careful in connexion with our naval policy, and should go thoroughly into the question of the relative superiority of Dreadnoughts and big battleships, as compared with submarines and destroyers. This is a matter which I am sure will not only command the attention of the Minister and our naval authorities, but also of men who takean intense interest in defence questions, like Senator Pearce and others in this-. Chamber. As I said this afternoon, in connexion with railway construction, defence is not with me a party question, and it will be a bad day for Australia when it is made a party question. But layman though I may be, I hope I shall be pardoned for calling attention to the factthat there is a marked difference of” opinion amongst the most able experts in. Great Britain as to which class of naval craft is most suitable for defence purposes under modern conditions. The Minister probably has more information on that point than I have. No doubt it is to be found in the pigeon-holes of the Naval Board. At the recent naval manoeuvres the battleships seem to have been nowhere with the torpedo and the destroyer. I understand that the policy of the late Government was largely directed to encouraging the construction of the smaller class of vessels, the torpedo and the submarine, in preference to the larger type, those of the Dreadnought class. I speak as one who twenty years ago was chairman of the first meeting called in Queensland to form a naval brigade, and as one who was a member of that brigade. Though not an expert, I have studied the subject, and I may be pardoned for saying that any one who studies the river system of Australia and its coast-line must come to the conclusion that we cannot have too many vessels of the Warrego and Tarra type. We cannot have too many submarines to defend our coast. But I am inclined to think that we need to be particularly careful with our future policy in reference to the construction of Dreadnoughts of the Australia type. With regard to a matter brought forward a few nights ago by you, Mr. Chairman, I cannot help thinking that it is wise policy to keep the naval and military branches of the Defence Force as far apart as possible. In the Old Country it has always been deemed expedient to keep Admiralty and Army administration entirely separate. I have heard it whispered that in this country old jealousies, no doubt introduced from England, between the Navy and the Army persist. If the Minister thinks that it will conduce to peace to proceed with the construction of head-quarters for the Navy alongside the Military Department in St. Kilda-road, I venture to tell him that he is making a mistake. From the point of view of economy, it seems bad policy to go in for permanent works in Melbourne, in view of the fact that within a few years buildings of a permanent character will be required at the Capital centre of the nation. I wish, also, to mention that a large amount of money is provided in these Estimates for instructional schools. I cannot understand why it is necessary for young men who submit themselves for the Area Officer examina tion to be brought all the way from North Queensland, Central Queensland, and even South Queensland, to Sydney to go through their instructional course. Surely vc have efficient officers in Queensland to make it unnecessary for our young men to go all the way to. Sydney for this instruction. I am not speaking from a parochial point of view. I should not mind if it were necessary to bring them to Melbourne or to any other place. But I find that an enormous sum of money is provided for the administration of the Military Department in Queensland. I have no objection to that. But as this money is provided, it hardly seems necessary that young officers should have to go to Sydney for their instruction. I have examined with interest the items of the Estimates dealing with rifle clubs. Whatever our political creed may be, we are all agreed that the rifle clubs of Australia have done splendid work in connexion with the defence system. I firmly believe that they should be encouraged in every way. In years gone by the rifle clubs were not regarded with much favour by the military authorities. I am not prepared to say that that is the case now. In my own State I believe that there is a most friendly feeling between the commandant, the permanent officers, and the rifle clubs. But though the money provided on the Estimates this year for rifle clubs may be said to be fairly liberal, I think, nevertheless, it might be still more liberal. I trust that every attention will be given by the Minister and his officers to the rifle clubs of Australia, because, as Senator Bae and Senator Stewart have pointed out, in spite of the fact that our Navy may do good service, and no doubt will, yet the great defence of Australia must in the main depend upon the land forces. Our rifle clubs, in an emergency, can be depended upon to give a good account’ of themselves. Most of the men constituting the clubs have been through the ranks. They are trained soldiers. I know any number of men who have served with me at sea, and who have been through the ranks in connexion with naval brigade work. They are now to *be found in the rifle clubs, which constitute a ‘ most efficient and important arm of the defence of Australia. In conclusion, I desire to say - and I say this- in view of certain statements which have appeared in one or two newspapers, not only of late, but for some years past - that when’ we are- dealing with ideals and ambitions of foreign nations it is just as well that we should be careful of our language. There is a great deal of talk about the eyes of Japan being on Australia. Only the other day a certain member of this National Parliament, who, thank goodness, is not a member of this branch of the Legislature, actually, in connexion with his own business, circulated placards all over New South Wales of a most insulting character against the great Japanese people. I say that that sort of thing is most reprehensible. As a matter of fact, any - one who has read any of the recent magazine literature must have come to the conclusion that Japan is not only a great and conquering nation - a nation which shows a determination to adopt Western ideas - but she is also, if t may use the words of one of her great statesmen, a nation whose earnest desire is to be the best of friends., not only with the nations of the Old World, but with the rising nations of the Pacific.
– All the more rea- son why we. should be om the alert.
– Quite so; but surely there is no occasion to hurl, insults at a great and rapidly progressing, nation ? I would make one remark in conelusion in answer to those who say that they take little interest in our defencesystem because they have no property todefend. I take- the view that, even supposing some of us may have- no property to defend, there are the women and children of Australia to defend, and if that is not enough to animate those who do not agree with me on this question, all I can say is that they had better go to a better country than Australia is.
– Several questions have been submitted, and perhaps I may take this opportunity of answering them. Senator McDougall has asked for information in regard to the Gunnery School. His grievance was that the school appeared to be maintained in the interests of. the permanent officers, and that the militia officer had no access, thereto. The fac? is that the school is? open both for militia and permanent officers. But the trouble is that the necessary course of three months is too long for many of the militia officers. They cannot take advantage of it, because they cannot leave their ordinary occupations for so long a term. Senator McDougall also asked a question about the officer who is set down as inspector of boilermakers,, Garden Island. I am not going to defend the title. I am not responsible for it. That officer came over when the Admiralty transferred Garden Island to the Commonwealth. Probably he would be more properly described as overseer of boilermakers. But we took the title with the man. A question has been asked by Senator Needham as to the possibility of minimizing night drills and substituting drill’s in the day-time. When I went to the Department, I found that an effort had already been made to give effect to that idea. Wherever it is found convenient, the change has been made.
– Has the Minister- provided any funds which may be necessary to facilitate the change from (night to day drill?
– No, I have not, because the change is only made where it is found to be convenient. It is made to suit the convenience of the majority of those who attend the drills.
– You will never do it unless money is provided.
– It is not a matter of expenditure, but of convenience. If Senator Rae means to- ask whether provision has been made to- pay those who are drilled in the day-time for time lost, the reply is “ Certainly not.” First of all, the day drills are not substituted for night drills except to suit the convenience of those who are called upon to drill.
Senator Stewart has raised a question about the form of these Estimates. That is a matter which has troubled me for many years. Our public accounts are necessarily somewhat complicated, but Senator Stewart need not- have made thegrievance any greater than it- really is. Had he looked at the Estimates submitted to Parliament, and not merely at the Appropriation Bill, he would have found all the information he wanted set’ out on page 69. The table there gives the whole of the defence expenditure under various headings. The items are spread out in different divisions. Some are under the Defence Department;, some under the Home Affairs Department, when Home Affairs is doing work for defence. On that one page, however, the items are all brought together, so that they oan be seen at a glance. Any one can see there what Australia is paying for its defence policy. If you go through the Estimates and try and put the totals together for yourself, you will find that you have to turn, first, to the Defence Estimates, and then to the Home Affairs Estimates, to see what expenditure is being carried out by that Department on behalf of the Defence Department. Then you have to search under the headings of the different States to find how much has been spent in each.
– The statement on page 69 of the Estimates is very elaborate, but it does not sufficiently explain the expenditure in the various States.
– I wish now to say a few words on a subject which, if time permitted, I candidly admit would tempt me to speak at greater length than I intend to do, and that is the amount expended in carrying out our defence policy. I must candidly confess that I was a little surprised to-night to hear two honorable senators - Senator Rae and Senator Stewart - following one after the other, declare that we were spending too much on defence, that we had proceeded at a rate which was financially dangerous.
– I said that we must not proceed to keep increasing our expenditure.
– The honorable senator was invited by what I thought was a pertinent interjection to come to the point, and I wish to compliment him upon the skill with which he avoided it. The only conclusion one could come to from listening to his remarks was that he feared that the defence expenditure was growing at too rapid a rate.
– I shall be under the painful necessity of speaking again to elucidate my former speech.
– It is never painful to me to listen to the honorable senator. Senator Stewart was more explicit and definite; but it was surprising to me to find that two honorable senators who, for three years, gave, I think, a very loyal and generous support to the previous Administration in carrying out that defence should only now find themselves in the ranks of those who are criticising what we are doing in this regard.
– That is an insinuation that they are actuated by a party motive.
– I am merely pointing to the fact. There was a remark made by Senator Maughan which also compels me to be a little retrospective. He urged that in the future expansion of the Navy we should direct our attention more to vessels of the smaller class.
– To submarines and destroyers.’
– Senator Stewart also spoke in a somewhat similar strain. I am not quarrelling with that view myself, but I cannot resist reminding Senator Maughan that in the policy speech put before the people of this country by the leader of his party there was a definite assurance that they proposed to ‘ order another Dreadnought.
– Yes; but that does not say that I agreed with the proposal.
– No; but during the course of the elections in New South Wales I heard no word of protest against that proposal. I am particularly pleased to find that, at any rate, the honorable senator isnot a whole-hearted supporter of it.
– I want the most effective Navy possible.
– I do not think that our next immediate move ought to be the obtaining of another Dreadnought. The honorable senator also raised the question of the instructional schools. I think that he must be under a misapprehension as to how these schools are conducted. Only one school, I understand, has been held for the purpose of the instruction of the Area Officers, and that was held at Albury. I do not know whether it comprised one or two courses - two at the outside - but to-day it is not in existence. At that place only were Area Officers instructed as to the duties they had to perform. There are other instructional schools, principally for the instruction of the citizen officers. Senator Maughan will see that it will be almost impossible to call into existence at each centre throughout Australia instructional schools of that character. We would not have enough instructors to take charge of the schools, and, if we had, we would have too few pupils at each school. The idea has been to have a smaller number of schools, and to bring the pupils - that is, the Citizen Officers - as far aspossible, into the schools to gain the instruction which can be given just as well to twenty or thirty as to half the number. The same tally of instructors suffices for .the larger number of pupils.
– Are the young men who go to these schools provided with railway passes and their expenses?
– Their travelling expenses are paid. I think I have answered all the points which have been brought up, but if I have omitted to refer to anything I shall be only too happy to remedy the defect.
– That Australia ought to be effectively, scientifically, and patriotically defended is a matter about which there will be little difference of opinion either in this Parliament or among the people outside. But as to whether the safety of Australia lies in land defence or in sea defence is a question about which there may reasonably be a good deal of genuine difference of opinion. However unpopular it may be, I wish to ally myself with Senator Stewart, who has laid down the doctrine that the safety of Australia lies in - the development of our land Forces. I, with him, believe that it lies in the development of a Citizen Defence Force, and that in ten years it will be equal to providing effective resistance against an invading army. But we cannot hope in ten years’ time, even at the present rate of expenditure, to have our Australian Navy anything like equal in strength or capacity to that of the Navy of Japan, or of one of the smaller naval Powers at the other end of the world. Therefore, without cavilling in any sense at the naval expenditure to which Australia has been committed, I wish to say that, although I voted quite willingly for this expenditure last year, I am questioning it this year, not because 1 have ceased to be patriotic as regards defence, but because I believe that if we made a mistake yesterday, we ought to be prepared to admit the fact to-day. To make such an admission is equivalent to saying that we are wiser to-day than we were yesterday. No better illustration could be afforded as to the effectiveness of a land force than was supplied by Senator Stewart in connexion with the South African War. As we know, the Boers did not have any kind of naval force to oppose to the greatest naval power of the world.
– That was a good thing for the Boers.
– Probably it was; but it is a good illustration to demonstrate that the defence of a large territory must necessarily depend more on its military resources than on its naval resources. I want to see every effort put forward by the Defence Department to perfect the Citizen Forces throughout Australia. X hope that no effort will be spared in that direction, because it is to that arm of defence that I look for Australia’s safety in the future. I say, without hesitation, that as it is now constituted its naval administration is of little value. The Naval Board, when the present Minister of Defence took office, was in a state of chaos. After six months we are closing a session with that Board in precisely the same condition as it was in then.
– With one man less on it.
– The absence of. that man does not make things any better there.
– And he should get justice.
– After giving to the matter very careful and cautious consideration, I have come to the conclusion that the most useful member of the Naval Board was the officer who was summarily dismissed by the Minister of Defence. I propose to deal at some length with this matter, because I feel that an injustice was done to a man of considerable reputation and undoubted skill and ability as a naval officer. Washington was asked, “ What is the the best way to suppress a rebellion?” and he replied, “Remove the cause of it.” Probably the Minister of Defence decided that the best course for him to “ adopt in order that peace might reign, and that other members of the Naval Board might slumber, without rendering any effective service to Australia, was to get rid of the only man who showed any energy or any patriotism as regards the Australian Navy, or the interests of Australian officers. There has been, undoubtedly, a good deal of trouble and dissension on the Naval’ Board, because the duties of its members had not been clearly defined by regulation No. 32,’ which was made on the 3rd March, 1911. This regulation sets out the constitution and duties of the different members of the Board. It sets out that the Minister shall be president, and shall act as general controller and general supervisor. The duties of the first naval member are thus defined -
War preparations, intelligence, ordnance, Fleet exercises, manoeuvres, gunnery, and torpedo exercises, &c, naval works, advice as to senior appointments.
The second naval member’s duties are as follow : -
Personnel and reserves, discipline, stores, victualling, medical.
The duties of the third naval member are -
Construction and engineering of ships, repairs, control of naval dockyards and bases.
The duties of the finance and civil member are declared to be “ finance, contracts, and legal questions.” The second and third naval members of the Board are men of wide knowledge and experience, and of considerable skill in their departments. Yet, at all times, Che”y have been made subservient to the authority of the finance member, who has never had experience outside of an office either in the Australian or the Imperial Navy. I do not say that Mr. Manisty is not an excellent officer within his particular sphere, but I do say that he is not qualified to veto the advice of the other members of the Board, who are charged with very important duties. It is because Mr. Manisty has been able to do that under the present constitution of the Board that friction has arisen, and still exists, thus rendering the Board worse than useless. It is common knowledge that to-day the members of the Board are not on speaking terms with each other. Consequently, it is impossible to hold a meeting for the purpose of discussing and administering the naval affairs of the Commonwealth, for which the Board was created.
– Then it is not a debating society?
– No. Its members are not on speaking terms with each other, and the removal of Captain Onslow has not improved the position one iota. The Minister is about to go into a peaceful recess with the knowledge that the Board will continue its useless existence for another six months until attention is again called to it in this Parliament. That the Board is unable to render the service which was expected of it is well known. The ex-second naval member some time ago addressed a memorandum to the other members of the Board in which he set out suggestions, which, .if adopted, would have placed that body on a satisfactory working basis. All the other members of the Board, with one exception, agreed with him that such a reformation was absolutely essential to its proper working. Yet nothing has been done, save to dismiss the man who was responsible for the only practical suggestions which have ever been made for the effective working of the Board. I think I am perfectly justified in reading that document, although it is a very lengthy one. Afterwards, I shall quote the remarks of the other members of the Board in reply to the suggestions which it contains.
– Does the honorable senator say that the document is a copy of an official minute?
– I am not in a position to say that. But the Minister will be able to compare notes, and ascertain whether it is a copy or not. Captain Onslow, under the heading, “ Naval Board Administration : Duties and Responsibilities of Members,” wrote -
Having now held my appointment for four months, and there have ample time to e. perence and reflect on the above subjects, I desire to bring my views before my colleagues, as it appears to me that great congestion exists, producing unnecessary delay with damaging results to the service.
– What is the date of that document?
– There is no date attached to it. It was written about four months after Captain Onslow was appointed .
– When was he appointed ?
– That can be worked out a little later. I shall be glad to be permitted to read the document without interruption, because it contains many practical suggestions by Captain Onslow. It continues -
It is proposed, therefore, to examine the causes of congestion, and, if discoverable, to make proposals for their removal. Constituted as the work of the office is as a board, with the consequent circulation of innumerable liles and dockets to the several members, it is at once apparent that unless the incidence of work is fairly equally distributed amongst the four members of the board there must arise congestion. Severe congestion does arise resulting in grave delay in important matters; this congestion is located in the Department of the “ finance and civil member,” who also acts as naval secretary, because, in addition to his own special work, there passes through his hands practically the whole of the work of the three naval members. not simply for issue to the service in various forms under the signature of naval secretary, by direction of the board, but also for close and minute scrutiny, criticism, and revision, apparently not the smallest item escaping, as will be shown later on. Can there be any wonder that great delay exists in the effective dealing with and subsequent issue of important matter? In order to determine how this administrative anomaly was brought about it was necessary to examine the constitutional powers of the board and its administrative growth since its inauguration.
It may be advisable here to say a few words on board administration in the abstract, and especially as represented by the Board of Admiralty, which is generally lauded as a great administrative triumph, and an example to be followed by any service or corporation on a large scale that aspires to excellence in its administration. Now, far from accepting this popular estimate of board administration for these purposes, I am of opinion that the only benefit it confers is to blot out personal responsibility, because all that is done under board organization can be done equally well with one responsible administrative head, such as were in the old days the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, and, till quite recently, the CommanderinChief of the British Army. I shall hope some day to deal with the subject in exhaustive and historical form. This has long been my intention, and my present experience will, no doubt, be of use to me in dealing with this interesting subject. Let me now consider the constitution of the British Admiralty, the duties and powers of its members, and see how far we have conformed to that model ; because, as far as board administration is possible, it is generally conceded that a very high degree of excellence has been attained, in’ which I fully concur. At Admiralty there is a political head, viz., First Lord, Sea Lords, and a secretary, and the question is, what constitutes board authority under which the secretary issues all orders, &c. ? Each Sea Lord has duties assigned roughly corresponding to members of the Naval Board, and it has recently been stated by ex-First Lord MacKenna that any decision of a Sea Lord, presumably in his own Department, concurred in by himself, constituted board authority. It was, however, not to be supposed that every minor question is thus taken to the First Lord, e.g., the question of whether a bad character should be dismissed S.L.N.R., which would be decided by the second Sea Lord alone. It is submitted that in either of these cases there is no real board decision given, that the system is purely one of nomenclature, and, consequently, a farce to the extent of all that is not actually decided at a genuine meeting of the board, which does occur for every unimportant question. In regard to boards of directors and other boards that actually meet; discuss, and decide the system is a reality, and has a meaning not applicable in any sense to Admiralty control.
– The same gentleman, Captain Hughes Onslow, wrote a very much more flattering minute in favour of Mr. Tracey for that position.
– I know nothing of that. I am concerned with this particular memorandum.
– The honorable senator does know of it, because I read it here the other day.
– There was a good deal the Minister did not read which he might have read. I regret to say that he read a good deal that suited himself, and left out a good deal which would have told very much in favour of Captain Hughes Onslow. The memorandum proceeds -
It would be in accordance with Government policy to displace Imperial officers by Commonwealth directly the latter are trained and thoroughly, competent. This measure would not only at once relieve all congestion, but give welcome opportunity for advancement in the secretarial department. Another relief measure that should at once be carried out is the complete turning over of the personnel department to the second naval member,’ including appointments, provision of officers, &c, as a great deal of work in connexion with the personnel has originated with the finance member. It has never been properly turned over to me, and if it had I could not have attended to it, as I have no time myself and no assistant. Mr. . Davies works here every night till late, and I am writing this past 12 midnight for want, of other time to do it ; so I suggest, with the cast relief that will be afforded the finance member under these proposals, that Mr. Spurgeon be turned over to me, with whose assistance I could perfectly well carry out my assigned duties in their entirety. I think that with the proposed, redistribution of duties it will be seen that this is a fair proposal, as I shall have at least as much as the finance member to attend to, and thts equalizes the staff, giving two to each. I desire to point out that with officers drawn from many different sources and who enter the service at widely different ages and under many diverse conditions, that the work of keeping officers’ registers will be difficult and complicated, and much will depend on the accurate keeping of the registers, &c.
I have given examples of delay and other defaults in administrative routine, and these are by no means exceptional or isolated cases, but represent the general state of, affairs, brought about entirelyby the office of secretary being vested in one of the members of the board, with consequent terrible congestion of business. One has only to visit the secretary’s room at any time to realize the truth of this - where there is usually to be seen a bewildering mass of documents, not to mention those in the next room, apparently awaiting Ministerial consideration. If one visits the naval members’ rooms, a reasonable number of documents are seen there, and the contrast is brought about by the process already described of the secretary closely overhauling all the work of the naval members. This constantly produces delay in regard to important documents, while at the same time not preventing serious mistakes being made, as in regard to the inauguration of the system of lodging allowances, which, in the opinion of every officer I have spoken to, is having disastrous results in regard to the discipline and morals of the service. There can be no doubt that the finance member will have ample work to do when relieved of the irksome duties of secretary, and if the separation of officers is not carried out before the arrival of the Fleet Unit the congestion and confusion will become indescribable.
In rough outline, the system I suggest is that the naval secretary receives and distributes all papers, marking them, to members concerned, either in order of seniority or of relative importance ; if a conflict of opinion has arisen it is referred back again by the Naval Secretary to the senior member concerned, who will confer with the other member or members, and endeavour to arrive at a consensus on the point, failing which it becomes a matter for board consideration. These conflicts of opinion do not often exist, and when they do a reasonable accommodation can usually be arrived at as the result of a short conference between the members concerned. In this connexion it will be remembered that on more than one occasion minutes have been withdrawn by common consent and dockets reconstituted and sent round for signature. There should at once be drawn up a document showing all the usual routine matter that has to go before the Minister, and the dav before his attendance at the Navy office, the secretary should circulate, for information of members, all the extra routine work it is proposed to lay before the Minister, so that any member may attend who feels inclined in regard to any particular question; also a list of subjects that it is proposed to bring before a general board meeting before the Minister arrives.
It will, of course, be recognised that this memorandum is a severe criticism of the duties, responsibilities, and constitution of the board; but it is hoped it will also be recognised that it is absolutely free from any personal bias. However, I should not like to lay down my pen without paying a tribute to each and every one of my colleagues, from the Minister to the finance member, as I have nothing but admiration for the single-hearted and chivalrous way in which the business of the board has always been conducted. This very grateful acknowledgment, however, does not require one to sacrifice on the altar of sentiment one’s own proper professional position, or the interests of the service. The present system cannot possibly be allowed to exist, as it will bring the most serious trouble hereafter ; indeed, that it has not done so alreadv is simply due to the exceptionally high qualifications and characteristics of the present Naval Secretary. He has been the involuntary and unconscious victim -of a system, and, I am perfectly certain, has never voluntarily arrogated to himself one iota of control that was not conferred upon him by the system. That system, however, makes him in every respect the mentor and supervisor, if not dictator, of every written thought and action of each member of the board, and is absolutely bound to cause mental distortion as to the relative capabilities and responsibilities of himself and the other members of the board. It moy be said that the present system was necessary for the inauguration of the business of the board, and however much truth there may be in that as the finance member was the only one. who had previous experience of board administration, it does not alter the fact that the time has now come when the separation of the secretariat from membership of the board is a crying need. The present situation may or may not have been forseeable, but we may rest assured that it was neither foreseen nor intended to be brought about when the system was inaugurated.
– Might I ask the honorable senator a question before he goes any further? Has he been reading a letter from Captain Hughes Onslow to himself ?
– It is a communication sent to me from Captain Hughes Onslow.
– Is it an original document sent to the honorable senator, or a copy of the document sent to some one else?
– I presume it is a copy of a document sent to some one else.
– A copy of an official document ?
– I do not say that. I presume it is a copy of a document which Captain Hughes Onslow wrote, and probably sent to some one else. What I want to say is this: The Minister the other day went to some trouble to convince the Senate that Captain Hughes Onslow is an irresponsible man, who can only refer to his colleagues on the Naval Board in language of the most vulgar character.
– “ Fit for a pot-house.”
– In language, as my honorable friend suggests, almost “ fit for a pot-house.” In the document I have read, which the Minister says was sent to members of the Board, and possibly to himself-
– No; I have never seen it; that is whv I asked the honorable senator where he got it from.
– It is a copy of a document which I presume Captain Hughes Onslow’s colleagues on the Naval Board have received, and certainly the language used in it cannot be taken exception to. Throughout the memorandum thisman showed that he is actuated by the one desire to place the Naval Board on a basis on which it may be more capable of rendering the services expected of it.
– Is not that the basis of his defence ?
– Surely it is. I want honorable senators for a moment to bear with me while I read to them a letter dated, “Melbourne, 6/3/13,” from Admiral Creswell to Captain Onslow. The letter is as follows -
Department of Defence,
Melbourne, 6th March, 1913-
Every member of the board desires solely to forward the big work we have in hand. The suggestions of the second naval member that there are certain faults in our administration which it will help our work to amend, will be appreciatively received by his colleagues, and command their early attention.
I have to thank the second naval member for his kindly reference to his colleagues - without wishing in any way to magnify what has been done, his opinion of the work of the board since its inception would not have been lessened had he been present at its inception. Practically, it was at that time a mere sub-section of the Defence Department, and under the Secretary of Defence - its gradual growth and assumption of responsibility has been in a great measure due to the secretary, of whose qualities the second naval member speaks so appreciatively. I mention the fact of our recent conversation to emphasize that we are in a transition stage, and our faults in administration are due almost entirely to that condition. I recognise the perfectly impersonal manner in which the matters that require amendment are referred to by the second naval member. I agree with the second naval member, there is danger that, even though so largely due to the transition stage we are in, they may become more or less permanent and require attention. I believe that not the least grateful of the members of the board for bringing forward these matters, and in the way they are represented, will be the Naval Secretary, whose single-minded zeal in giving the job forward does not need any testimony from me.
We on the board have only one end in view - 1 to go ahead with the heavy work we have undertaken, and as a re-adjustment of our work and responsibilities where needed will undoubtedly go to the smooth and effective working of the board, the consideration of the points raised by the second naval member should be early taken in hand, and will certainly command our best efforts.
First Naval Member.
I should like to ask the Minister of Defence what he has to say to that?
– The first official minute which the honorable senator has read was put in in the early part of this year - months before I went to the Department. The honorable senator’s question should be addressed to somebody else.
– I never saw it.
– The fact that the Minister of Defence was not at the Department at this time does not relieve him from responsibility. I am not directing all my arguments against the present Minister.
– Is Admiral Creswell a member of the Naval Board?
-Read the later minute. That happy little family feeling all disappeared afterwards.
– I will read what the third naval member had to say.
– I may mention that I left for “Western Australia on the 27th March, and up to that date I had not seen the document which the honorable senator has read. Evidently it was travelling round amongst the members of the Naval Board themselves.
– Captain Clarkson wrote -
I concur generally with the second naval member’s memorandum, and fully with the first naval member’s remarks thereon. I think that the subject is one for discussion.
Mr. Manisty wrote
I enclose some remarks on the subject; but this paper only reached me on the 18th (or 17th) March. I would welcome discussion.
I shall not read the very lengthy and careful statement of Mr. Manisty, which deals more particularly with the Constitution of the British Admiralty and the duties of the officials thereof, because it really has no reference to this matter.
– What is the date?
– 21st January, 1913.
– To whom were these letters written?
– The members of the Board wrote them to each other. Suggestions which, in my opinion, were of a most valuable character for the readjustment of the duties and the re-organization of the Board, were made by the second naval member. They were concurred in by at least two of the other members of the Board, who in March last expressed the opinion that attention ought to be given to these suggestions at the earliest possible moment. Nine months have elapsed, and nothing has been done by the Board. The present Minister has been in office six months, and nothing has been done during that time to bring about harmony, peace, and usefulness on the Board.
– Yes, there has been.
– Instead of peace, the Board has gone to pieces.
– And it will continue to go to pieces as long as it is constituted as it is. No one knows that better than the Minister himself. I am aware that it would be impossible for Kim to work wonders in a huge Department like this in six months; but, knowing the facts as he did, he ought not to hide himself behind his official position, but should take Parliament into his confidence and acknowledge that the Board is unsatisfactory; that it needs to be reconstituted, and that he is going to take the earliest opportunity to bring- about its reorganization. If we had had a declaration of that character from the Minister of Defence, there would have been no effort on my part to bring these matters before the Senate. But what has the Minister done? All that has been accomplished - and I do not think that it has been accomplished in the fairest way possible - has been to dismiss the one man who has been actuated by the highest motives throughout the trouble that has existed between him and the other members of the Board. That is to say, the Minister has dismissed Captain Hughes Onslow. What were the charges against him? It was alleged that he did not always use absolutely correct novelette language when addressing other members of the Board.
– That means that the language he used was not polite enough for Mr. Manisty.
– Other members of the Board had impugned his honour, and on occasion had insulted him; and because he hit back he is held up to this House, and to the people of Australia, as a man who was not capable of indicting, a memorandum to his colleagues in respectful language.
– Did he use the great Australian adjective ?
– In some cases, perhaps, he did; but under the most extreme provocation. What was the charge against Captain Hughes Onslow? Has there been any inquiry? Has this man had extended to him what honorable senators opposite boast so much about - British justice? Not a scintilla of it. He was simply dismissed from his office. Here is a man who has borne a high character, and who has a splendid reputation in the Imperial Navy. He is dishonoured by being dismissed . from the Australian service in a manner that was unworthy, not only of the Minister, butof this Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the sole charge against Captain Hughes Onslow was that he did not always use respectful language?
– If there is any other charge let us hear it. I am here to-night to invite the Minister to tell the Senate on what other ground Captain Hughes Onslow was dismissed from his position as second naval member of the Naval Board.
– The Minister would not dismiss a sailor in this fashion.
– He dare not. The Government dare not dismiss an officer of the Public Service without giving him an inquiry. But this officer has been booted out of the service by the Minister of Defence without a word of explanation, or an opportunity of defending himself.
– Was no other reason assigned - no ground of inefficiency?
– Never to my knowledge.
– There was an assertion that he’ was responsible for the discord, but no proof.
– I believe there is another member on strike for the same reason; or who is going on strike unless the present position is remedied.
– Can you mention hisname ?
– That would not be fair; but I believe it possible that another member may resign from the Board unless the friction is removed.
– Do you say that he may resign because of Captain Hughes Onslow’s dismissal?
– No, I do not say that.
– What was it, then?
– Another man resigned because of the manner in which the business of the Board has been conducted; and that may be brought home to the Minister before very long.
– It would not pain me very much.
– I am sincerely sorry to hear the Minister display such a lighthearted feeling in regard to an institution which is charged with such grave responsibilities, as far as the defence of Australia is concerned. I am grieved indeed to hear the Minister talk like that.
There has been, and there still is, a strong tendency on the part of the Naval Board to Anglicize the Australian service. A man who is an Australian, no matter what his qualifications may be, does not get the fair deal that he is entitled to get.
– And while Manisty is there, that will continue.
– In the absence of Captain Hughes Onslow, the Australian is not likely to get a fair deal.
– Is he an Australian officer ?
– No, but he is a fairminded man, who. was willing to recognise merit and ability whether exhibited by an Imperial officer or an Australian officer; and it is because he recognised that ability in Australian officers, and because they did not get the recognition to which they were entitled, that he stood up for them and made himself unpopular .with certain other members of the Board.
– Who were the officers for whom Captain Hughes Onslow stood up and whose claims were disputed by the other members of the Board?
– I decline absolutely to give their names, because to do so would simply be to make them victims of the vindictiveness ,of the other .members of the Board. But I can tell the Minister this - that 90 per cent, of the Australian service are behind Captain Hughes Onslow, and regret extremely that he has terminated his connexion with the service. They realize that their chance of promotion- of recognition of meritorious service - has been lessened now that he has gone from the Board.
– He did not terminate his connexion; he was dismissed.
– I am sick and tired of hearing Ministers in this Senate and in the other House, and heads of Departments, saying that we have to import men from Great Britain; that we have not the men here who are capable of filling high positions. It seems that our own people can never get a chance. We have a tremendous lot of valuable raw material in Australia, and if our own people are given a chance I am satisfied that they will be able to show themselves to be equal to any officers whom we can import to Australia. We have, at the present moment, a man in charge of Cockatoo Island Dockyard. But the Minister tells us to-night that in the course of a day or two he will be able to announce that ‘ negotiations have been completed for the importation of somebody from the other end of the world to take charge of that dockyard.
– The Government will have a job to find an abler man than Mr. Cutler.
– Why did not the previous Government leave him there?
– Why does not the Minister be fair? The late Government proposed ibo call for applications, and it was competent for Mr. Cutler to be one of the applicants.
– And they told him that his application would not be accepted.
– They did nothing of the kind.
– His letter shows it.
– His evidence before the Committee that inquired into the closing down of the. Fitzroy dock absolutely contradicts the statement the Minister makes.
– Is it correct that the previous Government would not employ him?
– No. Because I have seen the official communication.
– If that statement was made it was incorrect.
– What statement ?
– That Mr. Cutler was told that he might apply, but would not be given an opportunity to take the position.
– Mr. Cutler’s letter suggests it.
– The Select Committee had an opportunity of seeing the actual communication from the exMinister of Defence co Mr. Cutler, and there was no such suggestion contained in it. Before that Committee we had men of undoubted skill and experience extending over half a lifetime, eminent engineers, who have known Mr. Cutler for twentyfive or thirty years, and they said that, as an engineer and as a practical, energetic, trustworthy man, they knew none superior to him in New South Wales. He has done good work in that State. He is a man of extraordinary constructive ability, and, before we go to the extent of importing some one from the other end of the world, we should first establish the fact that this man is a failure, and incapable of conducting the business at the dockyard. Our Australian men are able to take their place in every branch of life, whether in the sporting or in the scientific world, and I believe they will prove equally good in military or naval matters if given the chance. I hope the present Ministry are not going to discount Australians in the Naval or in the Military Forces. I hope every opportunity will be given to Australians to demonstrate their worth. There can be no shadow of doubt as to their patriotism, and, if they are given the opportunity, they will prove themselves to be just as good as the imported article. I have nothing to say against the imported article.
– You are quite sure of that?
– I am quite certain of it. I have nothing whatever to say against imported men, where they are necessary, but we should first bc satisfied that qualified men cannot be found in Australia before we consent to the importation of them to fill places in our Naval or Military Forces, or, indeed, in any other branch of the Commonwealth Service.
– You admit the advantage of wider experience that cannot be gained in Australia?
– TJ 11 Questionably I do.’ But there are probably 100 men who have, in years past, been sent to the other end of the world to gain experience in all matters of military and naval science, and these men are here to-day possessed of that ability. Why should they not be given a chance? No doubt there are numbers of men imported to Australia for the Naval and Military Forces who are very excellent men, but there are others whose chief qualification seems to be that they are able to say, “ Hee,” or “Haw,” or something like that. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee to any greater extent. I was denied the opportunity this afternoon of moving for a Royal Commission, but I felt that I could not let the Defence Estimates pass without calling public attention to what I believe to be a grave and flagrant injustice. Something should be done. An inquiry should be held promptly into the constitution of the Naval Board, and as to whether Captain Onslow has been rightly or wrongly dismissed, and whether he - or certain members of the Naval Board, or the whole system - if we like to put it that way, has been responsible for the friction and disorganization. Having said that, I suppose nothing further can be accomplished, but I hope something will be done to deal out what we hear so much about from the other side of the Chamber, that is, British justice to a man who has occupied a very prominent position in the Imperial Navy, and has rendered excellent service in various official capacities.
– I am in a somewhat difficult position. I see where the hands of the clock point, and I know the very natural desire of honorable senators to complete the labours which we had anticipated would close with this evening’s sitting. I also recognise that some little time ago, on two separate occasions, this matter came before the Senate, and, on both occasions, I made what I intended to be, and what I think was, a very full statement of the position of the Naval Board. I read extensively from minutes, in order to give the Senate some idea of the difficulties that existed, and of the reason that induced me to take the action I did concerning’ Captain Onslow. To-night either I must go over that ground again without having much of the material here, and occupy the attention . of the Senate for some considerable time, or I must refrain from speaking, and, perhaps, leave in the minds of honorable senators the impression that I wish to avoid doing it. or that 1 have failed in my duty to them. I propose, standing as I do between the two opposing courses, to rather compromise. I shall not go as fully into the matter as I did when it was previously before the Senate, but I invite honorable senators, instead of taking the very heated and emphatic declarations of Senator Long, to do me the justice - I shall say nothing more - of reading side by side with his statement the two statements I made in the Senate earlier in “the session. It is impossible for me to-night to go into this matter as fully as I would like, and I do not think I am asking too much when I ask honorable senators, before arriving at a final judgment in thematter, to do me a measure of justice by reading the two statements I have made, and comparing them side by side with the very definite accusations which have been put forward here to-night by
Senator Long. Having said that, I propose to deal with one or two statements that the honorable senator has made. First of all, I shall deal with the matter which formed the last part of his address. It was a statement very frequently made and heard, to the effect that there is some sort of move going on to unnecessarily obtain officers from the Old Country, to the detriment of our own people.
– There is a profound suspicion to that effect abroad.
– So far as it is a general statement, there is no need to say anything, but I have the right to take strong exception to Senator Long so selecting his words as to suggest that this system, if it exists, is associated with my term in the Defence Department.
– I did not apply them in that sense.
– I wish to make it quite clear. I listened to the honorable senator’s words, and took some of them down. They were only open to the suggestion that since I went to the Defence Department this unfair preference to Imperial officers, as against our own, was assuming undesirable and unnecessary proportions. I do not wish it to be assumed, on the other hand, that I am suggesting that my predecessor brought out one officer more than was necessary.
– The charge was levelled against the Board, and not against you or your predecessor.
– Senator Pearce will agree with me that the final decision in these matters must rest with the Minister. The Board is a very fine matter of fiction, but after all is said and done, the final responsibility on all big matters has to be shouldered by the Minister, for good or ill. I am not saying that my predecessor brought out one officer more than was necessary. I assume it was made clear to him, when he did bring them out, that they were necessary for our young and growing Navy. I am the last in the world to contend that our Australians are not capable of undertaking any work of any kind anywhere, if they have been properly and adequately trained; but we must recognise that, in the absence of a Navy, we had no opportunity of training them. Therefore, Senator Pearce followed the principle, that in starting a Navy it was useless having the best ships in the world if we had not properly-trained men. to take charge of them. At the present moment I can only recollect one or two officers whose appointment from Home I have sanctioned, whose appointments were not already practically approved before I went into the Department. ‘ I cannot conceive of any Minister, from whatever side he may be drawn, who will go to that Department with any other desire than to give every possible opportunity to Australians to fill the positions which are open ; but a Minister would be wanting in his duty if, in yielding to that very natura? sentiment, he were to hesitate for a moment about bringing out a man to fill positions for which, so far, our own people have not had an opportunity to qualify.
Now I wish to deal with the case of Mr. Cutler. Senator Long has made out that a grave injustice has been done. When the Commonwealth took over Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Mr. Cutler was there as manager, and it was quite open to the late Government to take over Mr. Cutler with the island, and confirm him permanently in the position ; but they did not do so. What they did was to invite applications for the position, for reasons which were perfectly good; and I venture to say, had I been there, I would have been moved to take exactly the same course.
– The same lever was behind you.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– The Naval Board.
– I do not know whether the Naval Board spoke .to Senator Pearce on the matter. I can safely say they never spoke to me about it.
– Captain Clarkson did.
– Not about the matter to which I am now referring. When I went into the Department, I found that Mr. Cutler had received some communication, the nature of which is disclosed by his letter to the Naval Board, and the effect of it was - the communication was apparently a verbal one - that the Government had decided not to give him the position of manager. At any rate, this is the way in which Mr. Cutler interpreted it. On the 29th January, he wrote to the Naval Board -
In further reference to the interview which you and your Board were kind enough to grant to me yesterday, having had time to more fully consider the substance of your proposals, I thought it would be more satisfactory to yourself and your Board if I placed before you in writing my decisions concerning same.
Your first proposition, concisely stated, I think, amounts to this - that you propose calling applications for the position of general manager to Cockatoo Dock, and you ask me if I wish to be considered an applicant. As verbally stated by me, having made up your mind to such action, which amounts to practically showing a want of confidence in myself, it is, under those circumstances, useless for me to further move in the direction of retaining the management of the dock.
If there was one nian who was well qualified to form an opinion as to the nature of the communication made to him, it was Mr. Cutler, the author of that letter.
– To the Naval Board ?
– No, to the Minister, and referring to a conversation which the Minister had had with him, after an interview, or, probably, at an interview with the Board. I bring this up only for this reason : that Senator Long has attacked me for the action which has been taken in regard to Mr. Cutler.
– I attacked the policy of your Government.
– In doing what?
– In introducing unnecessarily men from the Old Country to fill positions which could be well filled locally.
– The charge now is that it is a crime for this Government to introduce men from the Old Country. I am showing, in answer to .that charge, that we found that our predecessors had not only declined to continue in the position the gentleman who was then there, but had advertised in the English newspapers for applications from persons to fill the position.
– And in Australian newspapers also.
– I was not aware that they had done so. I do not know, but I think I am right in saying that no applications were received here.
– That only involves them in the discredit.
– If the honorable senator regards their action in that light, I do not. In my judgment, the previous Government did absolutely the right thing. We were taking a new departure. We wore entering on the construction of -warships on no mean scale; and we must all recognise that there is a lot to learn in every branch of every trade and profession everywhere. I do think that, when the previous Government were confronted for the first time with the responsibility of building warships - not with the mere putting together of a Warrego, which had been first of all built in the Old Country-
– Or the building of, a Brisbane.
– They were starting on a policy commencing with the construction of the Brisbane, and the three boats being built now, and with the knowledge that behind it would come a continuous building programme in Australia, they were justified in absolutely refusing to take any risks, and they did the right thing, I think, in inviting applications for a manager practically from the world.
– Where is a continuous building programme?
– The Minister said that it was in the mind of the Government that took that action, and so it was.
– A continuous building programme was there. They are building-
– When these ships are built, what then ?
– If my honorable friend assumes that we are going to let that be the end of the business, he is mistaken.
– I looked, in vain in the Estimates for more.
– Because those Estimates only cover the period up to the 30th June next, and that is enough for work at Cockatoo Island until then.
– If there is not, there will be a lot more men thrown on the labour market.
– I quite recognise that. It must have been in the mind of the previous Government, as any man knew when Cockatoo Island was taken over and we started building there, that it was not taken over for the mere purpose pf constructing the ships immediately in view. That being so, I do think that the previous Government did the right thing when they absolutely declined, as it seemed to me, to take any risks. They certainly were not satisfied with Mr. Cutler, or they would have continued him; therefore they invited applications from the best men in the world to £11 the position.
– They were taking a bigger, risk in bringing a man out.
-I do not wish to go over the ground too often. If I have erred in this matter, it has been in agreeing that my predecessor did the right thing.
– Apart from your predecessor and yourself, is Mr. Cutler doing his work efficiently? You know that he is.
– My honorable friend asks me for an opinion which I would rather be excused from expressing.
– You will get the opinion from a gentleman who is out here now.
– I do not know that it would matter much if I did answer the question.
– I think that you could do it all right if you wanted to do so.
– Every man has his opinion. I want te refer to one other matter. In dealing with the question of Captain Hughes Onslow, Senator Long made two statements to. which I think I can take the strongest exception. He seemed to think that a great injustice has been done because the services of that gentleman had been terminated.
– Because he has been dismissed - use the correct term.
– Because he has been dismissed. When this matter first came up in the Senate, the honorable senator was the man who said that I ought to have sacked the lot of them. But now it comes to this position-
– That would be a better way than to sack one of them.
– No. If there has been an injustice done by dismissing one man, it will not make that injustice a justice if I sack three other men as well.
– Look up what I did say. Do not misquote me.
– The honorable senator knows that I am near enough to what he stated.
– Do you mind telling us briefly what were all the charges against Captain Hughes Onslow ?
– I find that I filled some pages of Hansard in doing so. When I got down to the Navy Office, as has been stated,* and is known and admitted, the Naval Board was in such a state of friction that certain members were not on speaking terms with others. The. Sen- ate has heard to-night some minutes read by Senator Long that would lead a person to think that the Board was just about the loveliest tea party of Sunday-school ladies imaginable. I read some time ago a minute in which Captain Hughes Onslow, who referred in these very flattering terms to his colleagues, practically called the first naval member of the Board a liar.
– Not in so many words.
– He took very many more words to do it, but my time is too short to quote them. No wonder they were busy when they spent half their time in writing minutes.
– Why did he call the first naval member a bar ?
– I do. not care why he did. He had no right to do so.
– Why did you not give him a chance to tell you ?
– Because it was there.
– He will tell you why.
– - If the statement in the minute is so offensive, would it not have been much more offensive and risky to call the man a liar personally ?
– The whole point is that this thing was not done in any heat of debate. A minute had been written by somebody - I do not know who started the business. At any rate, one of these rolling minutes had gone round from one member of the Board to another, and it came along to Captain Hughes Onslow, who, referring to a statement of Admiral Creswell, wrote upon it, “ This statement is a gross and wilful perversion of the true facts. “
– But that is very classically put.
– All right; but what does it mean ?
– It means that he is a liar.
– It was not an exclamation wrung from a man, under provocation, in the course of a heated altercation, but a minute written deliberately in his office, where we may assume he was calmly and coolly carrying on his work. That one sentence alone, without quoting others, should be an indication to the Committee as to. the state of affairs which existed there at the time.
– What did he subsequently say in regard to that hasty minute ? Be fair to the man
– I do not know.
– You ought to know.
– What I mean to say is that nothing that followed could excuse or extenuate that statement.
– Would you condemn the man for one hasty statement ?
– I am not condemning him at all.
– You have condemned him, because you have dismissed him.
– First the statement is made that I have never offered a word of explanation of this matter. That word and several other words are to be seen in Hansard.
-Read the communication following that one.
– I have not got it here.
– Of course, it does not suit you to have it here.
– It is not a question of it suiting me. No- communication which followed that minute can get us away from the fact, and the only purpose I have in putting it forward now is to show how temperamentally ill-equipped Captain Hughes Onslow was to work on a Board of any kind.
– He is a bit peppery and hot-headed.
– He did not use the correct novelette language to suit the other members.
– It was not ordinary, decently-courteous language.
– What do you think he ought to have called the first naval member ? .
– There was no reason for Captain Hughes Onslow to call the first naval member anything. The Naval Board is not supposed to be a House of Parliament.
– He did not want to call him a liar; he probably knew him to be one.
– Putting levity on one side, I do remind honorable senators that Senator Long has come here to-night and, talking about the absence of justice and using a great many other terms of that kind, has made the allegation that Captain Hughes Onslow has been treated very harshly, and that, to a very great extent, I am responsible for this great iniquity. Therefore, I ask honorable senators to regard the matter as having a serious side. I was quoting that one minute to show, not only the condition of affairs at the Navy Office, but also the peculiar temperament of a man trained, and by no means young, who should have had sufficient control over himself to select language with which to express his views to his colleagues.
– Supposing that the statement he was criticising in those words deserved that description, would it still be a heinous offence on his part?
– In my opinion, even if the statement had been wholly incorrect, there was no justification for Captain Hughes Onslow or any other member of the Board to write on that minute words which, I say, amounted to telling his colleague that he was a liar.
– The best Shakespearean English would express that sentiment in fewer words.
– That is so; but if you have a member of the Naval Board, when a colleague says something which is inaccurate, immediately calling him a liar, you will bring the Board, as it has been largely brought by the excitability of Captain Hughes Onslow, to a condition which is unworkable.
– In his absence the Board is not yet a happy family.
– The honorable senator has no authority for making that statement.
– I have.
– I have not seen one harsh minute, at any rate, since he left, nor have I found any difficulty in getting on with the work.
– Have you had any minutes since he left?
– I believe there is more work going on there now, because there is less minute-writing.
– Have you had any language ?
– Yes; language which I appreciate, and such as the honorable senator might be proud to father.
– You should not “ biff “ a man out because he fails to be Shakespearean.
– No; but I have read lots of minutes which, indicate the cause of that. It has been said that the one charge against the man was the use of intemperate language. It was nothing of the kind.
SenatorRae. - What else?
– His personal demeanour; his attitude at the Board as “witnessed by myself; the impossibility of carrying on any business at the table owing to his excitable temperament, unless I was prepared to spend half my time in trying to prevent a row.
SenatorRae. - You ran a big risk.
– I did in trying to act the part of a peacemaker. I sought to minimize the difficulty by not expressing any views myself.
– That accounts for your amiability during the first weeks of the session.
– If I was not amiable then, I had ample justification in what I was submitting to elsewhere. Let me give one other instance of the impossible kind of man Captain Hughes Onslow was and is. I read here a document by that gentleman which I referred to as an ultimatum. It was in that document that he set out the only conditions under which he would continue to work on the Board. Those conditions I was not prepared to comply with. Furthermore, I dispute the right of Captain Hughes Onslow, or any other servant of the Government-
– But you did not attempt to dispute that until after four months and a half had elapsed.
– One moment. Let me deal with this matter first. No one knows better than does the honorable senator that I explained the reason of that delay. With regard to the ultimatum, I challenge any one here to stand up and say that any servant of the Government has a right to say whom they shall employ or dismiss.
SenatorRae. - That is so.
– Captain Hughes Onslow did that. He stated in his minute the only conditions on which he was prepared to continue service on the Board, and those conditions involved the termination of the engagement of one member and the giving of another office to Mr. Tracey, who is down there now. There are two things involved there which Captain Hughes Onslow had no right to submit in an ultimatum. Having declared that he would not continue on the Board unless those conditions were complied with, I had a right to assume, as I was not prepared to submit to them, that he would resign. What was the position taken up by him ? He said that he would not work on the Board, and that he would not resign. I asked him at a personal interview when I had made every possible effort to patch up things - that accounted for the lapse of time to which Senator Long has referred - whether he could go back and work on the Board as it was then with any hope of doing his duty satisfactorily? Captain Onslow told me that he would not go back on the Board as it was then constituted. Thereupon I said to him, “ If you will not go back on the Board, will you resign from it?” and he replied, “No.”
– How many meetings did the Minister attend ?
– I cannot say how many.
– Did the Minister attend two meetings?
– More than two. But I had not attended my second meeting before I came to the conclusion that those meetings, as the Board was then constituted, were a waste of their time and of mine. There is work enough to occupy my time without attending Board meetings to find men wrangling with each other. It would be idle to assume that I went there anxious to quarrel with anybody. The members of the Board were all strangers to me. I had never met Captain Hughes Onslow. The only member of the Board whom I had met on one or two occasions at the opening of Parliament was Admiral Creswell. It was a painful revelation to me to find that two of these gentlemen would not speak to the other two.
– Are they speaking now?
– I do not know.
– The Minister does not know ?
– I am going to ask those who challenge my position to tell me, when Captain Onslow said that he would not work on the Board, and would not resign, what I ought to have done ?
– Discharge him.
– I would have liked some of my honorable friends, who are of a more heated temperament than I am, to have been in my position. I venture to say that if they had been, they would not have stood it as long as I did. I do not mind making a confession that I stood more than I thought it was possible for me to stand. I certainly had no personal feeling in what I did. I went there a stranger to these men, knowing nothing of their troubles, and being, therefore, in a very good position to judge which of them was in fault. I exercised my judgment to the best of my capacity, and finally came to the conclusion, which Captain Onslow himself forced upon me, that it was impossible to continue that Board so long as he was a member of it.
– In justice to myself and the ate Government, I think that I ought to make a statement in regard to our action in calling for applications for the position of managerof the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. About 28th January, the members of the Naval Board were in Sydney. I had proposed to the late Government, and they had agreed, that as we were taking up the new work of warship construction, and . intended that work to be continuous, we should have as manager of that dockyard the best man we could get. We, therefore, decided to call for applications, not only in Australia, but in Great Britain. There was no intention of debarring Mr. Cutler from applying for that position. He asked to see me while I was in Sydney, and an appointment was made at the Commonwealth offices. I told him that it was our intention to call for applications for this position throughout the world, that he was eligible to apply for it, that his application would be considered on its merits, and that if he possessed the best qualifications he would secure the appointment. He said he took that to mean that we had not confidence in him. I told him that he had no right to say that, that he was not our- servant, but was merely on loan to us, that we wished to get the best man available, and were not going to be tied by the circumstance that he was in charge of the dockyard when we took it over. Notwithstanding that, he told me that he still adhered to his view. That was not the view of the late Government. I told him that the Ministry had nothing against him, and that if he wished to enter the Commonwealth service, apart from that position, there was a position which the Government could offer him, and one which would give him the opportunity of obtaining that which he lacked, namely, experience of warship construction.
– Is he not undertaking that work now?
– Yes. I told him that it was the intention of the Government to appoint in England an inspector of machinery and plant. As a matter of fact, we required an officer in London who would carry on the inspectorial work of that machinery. I told him that if he chose to take that position it was open to him then.I informed him that it would give him access to the Admiralty authorities, and that we would take care that they would afford him an opportunity to gain experience in warship construction. I pointed out to him that, we intended to open up a dockyard at Jervis Bay, and that there would, therefore, be further opportunities for him in the Commonwealth service. Later on, Mr. Cutler wrote to me accepting that, position, and up to the time that I left office he had not withdrawn from it. I understand that he has since withdrawn. I do hot wish to occupy more time in discussing this question.
– What is the honorable senator’s opinion of his general capabilities?
– I think he is a very capable man, but it is only fair to say that through no fault of his own he is absolutely inexperienced in the construction of warships.
– To my mind, the main question touched upon by Senator Long was entirely lost sight of by the Minister of Defence in his reply. The Minister has made statements on previous occasions as to the reasons why he dismissed Captain Hughes Onslow, and he has not added to those statements to-night. Senator Long’s desire is to get an impartial inquiry into the question of whether or not Captain Onslow was wrongfully dismissed. I do not see why the Minister should dismiss a man from such a responsible position without affording him an opportunity of an inquiry as to whether he was wrongfully dismissed. We know that, during the present session, a Select Committee was appointed to investigate the dismissal of another officer who occupied a very important position. It is much more imperative that a Committee should be appointed to determine whether Captain Onslow used polite or impolite language. I listened very closely indeed to the reply of the Minister, and the only reason he gave for the retirement of Captain Onslow was that on one occasion he wrote a minute containing language which he should not have used. Senator Long asked the Minister to name any other reason why the services of that officer were dispensed with.
– He was dismissed because he said he would clear out unless the other members of the Board were discharged.
– The Minister did not advance any other reason.
– He told us all about it. God bless my soul-
– Has the honorable senator a soul to be blessed, or a body to be kicked? I listened to the reply of the Minister just as attentively as did my honorable friend.
– Did he not say that Captain Onslow, would not either resign his seat on the Board or remain a member of it?
– The Minister did not prefer any other charge against him except that, in a moment of heat, he used certain language which he afterwards asked to be allowed to withdraw. Four months elapsed, and Senator Millen then stepped in as Minister, presided over a meeting of the Board, and discovered that its members were not a happy family. Because Captain Onslow was man enough to adhere to his opinion, the Minister dismissed him. Senator Millen has told us that in dismissing him he was desirous of bringing about a better state of affairs in the Naval Board. But the Minister has failed to assure us that a better state of things exists to-day. If he will assure the Committee that the remaining members of the Board are now a happy family, that they are not writing minutes derogatory of each other, but are doing the work that they ought to do, we might feel inclined to say that, in discharging Captain. Onslow, he had taken the right course. Senator Millen. - I give the honorable senator that assurance without hesitation. The work is going on now without any of these hostile and insulting minutes.
– Does the Minister say that the members of the Board are a happy family?
– So far as I can see, they are.
– I will accept the Minister’s statement, but is he to be the sole arbiter as to whether or not Captain Onslow was right or wrong?
– Who else ought to be the arbiter?
– I do not mind the Minister, but I object to Mr. Manisty being the arbiter.
– The point I wish to make is that an officer with an Imperial reputation, a man whom the Admiralty authorities honour, and one with an Australian reputation, has had his future practically damned by the word of one man, namely, Senator Millen. Now, is Senator Millen a naval expert? Has he any experience to justify him in damning the future of this officer? Even if he had, I say that he has not been long enough in the position of Minister of Defence to determine whether Captain Hughes Onslow was right in the attitude he took up, or the other members of the Naval Board were wrong. That should be determined by an impartial inquiry, at which Senator Millen, Mr. Manisty, Admiral Creswell, and the other member of the Board, could make their statements, and the Committee making the inquiry could determine who was the hasty member of the Board, and who was in the wrong.
– Does it need an investigation to tell us who wrote the ultimatum ?
– It is not a matter of an ultimatum. What I am concerned about is the dismissal of an officer who had a high reputation. I do not think that Senator Millen should be the sole arbiter in the matter, because I do not regard him as capable of determining whether or not that officer’s reputation should be damned.
– No one is damning his reputation.
– I say that Senator Millen has done so. -
– Beware of the “ pothouse.”
– I am not using pothouse language.
– Senator Millen referred to the officer’s temperament, and not to his reputation.
– I am not concerned about Captain Hughes Onslow’s temperament any more than about the temperament of Senator Bakhap. Here is .a gentleman -who came from the Old Country to engage in the service of the
Commonwealth, and no evidence has been placed before the Committee to justify his dismissal. We have only the statement of the Minister of Defence as to the reasons why he’ considered that this officer’s services should be dispensed with. He has said that he thought that by dismissing Captain Onslow he would convert the Naval Board into a happy family. The honorable senator was faced with the direct question whether, since the removal of Captain Onslow, the Board has been a happy family, but he does not give a direct reply. He cannot assure the Committee that the Naval Board is a happy family to-day.
– I can assure the Committee that it is not.
– Does Senator Long suggest that the other members of the Naval Board should go, too?
– I suggest nothing of the kind. I suggest the re-organization of the Board.
– I believe that Senator Millen acted according to his conscience, but. I think the reputation of ‘ this officer should not be left solely in his hands. I wish to see justice meted out to Captain Hughes Onslow by the holding of an impartial inquiry, when his statement may be put against that of Senator Millen and the other members of the Naval Board. Until the question as to who was in fault has been determined by an impartial inquiry, Captain Hughes Onslow will have reason to consider himself harshly and unjustly dealt with.
– I wish to reply very briefly to what has been said in reference to the Acting Manager of the Cockatoo Island Dock. Senator Pearce has told the Committee that he did not say that Mr. Cutler would not get the position, but evidence was given before the Select Committee that inquired into the partial closing down of the dock that the Naval Board has decided . that Mr. Cutler was not to get the position. At the same time, they asked him to send in an application for it. I say that was a sham and a fraud. It was a disgraceful thing to do, and, in my opinion, the Naval Board is to-day as rotten as it can possibly be, and is quite unfitted to carry out its duties, as I maintain the evidence given at the inquiry into the Cockatoo Island Dock will show.
.- I regret that the Minister, in his very lengthy remarks, neglected to state the intentions of the Government regarding the Naval Board. The honorable senator must knowthat by the dismissal of Captain Hughes Onslow he has not removed the cause of dissension and discord on the Board. In my opinion, it was his duty as Minister of Defence to have outlined to the Committee some scheme for the complete re-organization of the Board. Further, I think that honorable senators expected the Minister to make some declaration regarding the claim of this dismissed official for an inquiry. If ever a man dismissed from a public service was entitled to an inquiry, Captain Hughes Onslow is that man. That is all that I ask. Let the Minister appoint whom he pleases to hold an inquiry, and give Captain Hughes Onslow a chance to state his case, and the other members of the Board to place their “side of the matter before those holding the inquiry. I am sure that we shall all be . prepared to -abide by the decision which that constituted authority would give. Without taking up any further time, but in order to record my protest against the treatment that has been meted out to Captain Hughes Onslow, and against the present constitution of the Naval Board, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote for the Department of Defence by £1.
– I want to remind the Committee of what the carrying of Senator Long’s request would mean. It would not in any way determine the question raised here to-night. It would involve possibly a conflict - I think I may go so far as to say that - with another place, without in any way settling the question which Senator Long has said he desires to have settled. I do not propose to go over the ground that I have already traversed three times in this chamber.
– The honorablesenator has refused this man an inquiry.
– There is no inquiry wanted.
– No; the honorablesenator is the arbiter.
– Yes, I am; and I will leave honorable senators to be the arbiter in my place. The whole matter is boiled down in the last interview with
Captain Hughes Onslow, when I asked hi in whether he would go back to work on the Board, and he said, “No.” I asked him then if he would resign from it, and he again said, “No.” No inquiry is wanted to deal with a situation like that.
– Is there nothing else to be said?
– Nothing else that I propose to say. Apart from political feeling, I challenge any one to say that in the circumstances I could do anything else than I did, and that was to retire Captain Hughes Onslow from his position as a member of the Board.
– Did the honorable senator ask the other members of the Board to retire?
– They never threatened to go off the Board.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote for the Department of Defence by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- T think that this would be a convenient time to report progress, and I therefore move -
That the Chairman leave the chair and report progress.
.- The system of defence in Australia is comparatively new, and it cannot be expected that attention will be given to every Department. I claim, however, that there has not been nearly sufficient attention given to the important: matter of the encouragement of Rifle Clubs throughout Australia. Rifle practice is a form of training that appeals to many. It has been a matter of regret in the State from which I come that more atten tion has not been given to the rifle clubs. On the west coast of Tasmania there are more wet days than in any other part of Australia, but there less attention is given to drill halls than in any other part of the country’. In Zeehan, Queenstown, Gormanston, Linda, North Lyell, and other towns on that coast, it is almost impossible for drills to take place in the open air. The Government ought specially to consider the . claims of the west coast of Tasmania in this respect. I have had a number of communications from parents calling attention to the neglect of the military authorities in not providing accommodation for training. I may state for the Minister’s information that, out of 365 days in the year, 260 are wet days on the west coast.
, - - As showing the attitude of the present Government in the matter of drill halls, I may mention that last year £19,000 was appropriated for the purpose. On this year’s Estimates the amount is £100,000.
– How much is to be spent in Tasmania ?
– I cannot state the exact amount; but the fact that so much more is set down for the purpose is an indication that Tasmania will share in the larger expenditure in this respect.
.- I am thankful for the information given, though I am afraid that the proportion allotted to the west coast of Tasmania will be small. I should also like some information in regard to aviation. The total amount provided for the Aviation Instructional Staff and Flying School is only £3,700. In Germany and France the expenditure on air squadrons is almost as large as the amount appropriated for other branches of defence. Speaking from memory, I think that nearly £1,000,000 was provided last year on the British Estimates for an air squadron. Such a squadron would be of immense value in the Australian scheme of defence. Consequently, I should like some information as to why it is that the appropriation for the purpose is so small?
– Senator Long overlooks the point that the buildings for this purpose are not yet erected, and tthey are not likely to be erected until the major portion of this financial year has gone by. The amount appropriated for aviation will be ample for the present financial year. If my anticipations are borne out, we shall require a larger vote next year, because then the Aviation School will be in operation.
.- , I suppose we shall have to be satisfied with the explanation just given by the Minister. Consequently, I have no more to say on that point. I should be glad to extract from the Minister some information as to whether it is proposed to better distribute the number of scholarships in connexion with the examinations for entrance to the Military College. That Tasmania should be only entitled to have two lads appointed out of the successful candidates seems to be an injustice to young fellows who work very hard to qualify themselves for entrance. . There should be no limit to the applications. The best and brightest boys from whatever State they hail should have entrance to the college. It is a handicap to the bright boys of Tasmania to be limited as they are.
– They get their fair share on a population basis, and you have no right to ask for any more.
– It should not be a question of population basis.
– Then you will get less.
– That is a barrier that should be broken down. The brightest boys, no matter where they come from, should be able to gain entrance to the college. If ten boys from Tasmania pass the examination they should be entitled, owing to their merits, to admission to the Military College. To say that Tasmania is only entitled to a number oh a population basis is a trumpery argument. I see from the Estimates that the salaries for the Cordite Factory staff amount to £2,516. ^ That seems a tremendous sum for an institution from which we get such poor results. I know that under the scheme of the late Government this factory was to expand in order that we might produce all the cordite required for Australia; but, as a matter of fact, we are compelled to import considerable quantities of cordite. The present Ministry are not favorably disposed towards any Socialistic institution such as this, and they would not regret to see this factory prove a failure; but I am satisfied that under careful management and with sympathetic administration, it should develop into a very useful institution, obviating the necessity for the importation of any cordite. I would like to have some informa-tion from the Minister with regard tothe Small Arms Factory. I have watched with considerable interest its progress; but I have not been able to meet onemember of this Parliament who has seen a product of this factory. The Minister may be able to give some information as to its probable output, and to say whether it is intended to enlarge itsoperations. I was hopeful, when the factory was established under the auspices of the late Government, that in the course of a year or two we would see our Forces equipped with rifles and small armsturned out by it ; but, as I say, I have not been able to discover any one who hasseen a rifle produced from iti I would like the Minister to say what has been produced in the way of small arms during the last two years, and I would like to have an assurance from him that it is justifying the purpose for which it wasoriginally created.
– Is not all this information in the reports ?
.-All this information has been given to the Senate, previously. According to the last report I have received, the factory has turned out 1,000 rifles. I can give noassurance as to the rate of output from this time on, but one may reasonably anticipate that it will improve.
– One thousand rifles! And the factory has been established more than two years f Has there been any decrease in the number of hands? Why has there been such a wretched production from this institution from which we expected so much?’ The Minister is silent, and we can only assume that he has not been as fullyadvised as to the operations of the factory as he ought to have been. Coming to another matter, I have been privileged on more than one occasion to inspect the Clothing Factory. I can say, witha great deal of pride, that work is beingconducted there under conditions more ‘ pleasing than those obtaining in a factory of the kind in any other part of Australia. The wages and the conditions generally are superior to those .which the men and the young women employed there
Could obtain in private employment. It is quite a pleasure to go into the diningroom provided for the employes, and observe the very bright and happy conditions under which they are able to enjoy their mid-day meal. Another pleasing phase of their industrial life is that, at the end of the year, they are entitled to fourteen days’ holiday on full pay. My honorable friends opposite may be disposed to take fright at a fact of that kind ; but there it is. The employes of this factory, like the employes in other branches of the Public Service, both State and Commonwealth, are able to enjoy fourteen days’ holiday on full pay. Notwithstanding the concessions I have- mentioned, and the fact that the work-rooms are splendidly ventilated and effectively lighted, we have the pleasing knowledge that articles are turned out there at very considerably less than the prices which the Government had “to pay formerly to private contractors. I am quite sure that that knowledge is very satisfactory to the members of this Committee. Coming to the Harness, Saddlery, -and Accoutrements Factory it is a matter for regret, I think, that its functions cannot be extended to the production of boots for the Military Forces.
– Are they not doing that work now?
– No. My honorable friend will probably have noticed that quite recently the Commonwealth Government called for tenders for the supply of many thousands of pairs of boots for the Military Forces. I am glad to see that, notwithstanding the fact that Tasmanian boot manufacturers have been compelled - some of them did it voluntarily - to bring the wages of their employes up to the level of those paid on the mainland, they were able to secure a very considerable part of that work. I have very little doubt but that their product will give as complete satisfaction to the military authorities as the product of any -other contractor.
– We have still a chance of catching the last tram, if you do not mind.
– ‘I do not know that there is anything to prevent my honorable friend from catching his last tram or the tram before ? If he feels disposed to relieve us of his genial presence we shall be sorry, but will realize that duty calls.
– I have a number of important items, just as important as yours, to which I wish to call attention. You should not monopolize the time of the Committee.
– Who authorized this “ stone-wall “ ?
– I ask your protection, sir, from this unfair suggestion.
– There is no getting away from that.
– You must allow others to have an opinion as well as yourself.
– I think, sir, that that is a reflection on the Chair, and ought to be withdrawn.
– I - I shall take notice of any reflection which is made on the Chair.
– The insinuation is that I am indulging in a “ stonewall,” and that I am not contributing any argument that is proper to a debate of this kind.
– Show them how wrong they are by ceasing now.
– No; I shall show how right I am by continuing, and I think that the remarks I shall feel called upon to address to the Committee for the next couple of hours will be quite in order, and when I get out of order, sir, I can rely upon you to call my attention to the breach. I am not in the least troubled about the suggestion of my honorable friend that I am indulging in a “ stonewall.”
– Not at all.
– I come now to a question which is not only of great moment to Tasmania, but of considerable moment to Australia as a whole, and that is the question of the Woollen Factory. I wish to say, without casting any reflection on our friends opposite, that as -regards the sympathetic administration of these institutions, we cannot expect much sympathy from them, nor many tears in the event of their failure. There is no reason why a woollen or other factory under Governmental control should not succeed as well as a factory conducted by a company or a corporation of private individuals. We have, of course, very little information regarding the Commonwealth Woollen Factory at Geelong. We cannot expect very much, because it has only been in existence for a little while.
– It is not in existence yet, for they have only got the foundation down.
– - I am surprised to hear my honorable friend, who is a Victorian, saying that there is only the foundation of the Woollen Factory laid at the present moment.
– And the walls.
– I have little doubt that the factory is going to succeed. There is no reason why it should not. All that is needed is a genuine and sympathetic administration on the part of the Government’ If we do not get that from them I shall not be in the least disappointed, because I know that an enterprise of that kind comes in direct conflict with opinions they have held, and I believe, honestly held for many years. Although I -am very anxious for the success of the Woollen Factory, at Geelong, in Victoria, I believe that the best site was not selected for an industry of this kind. Here, again, we have had a man brought all the way from the Old Country, and the present Ministry are not responsible or his importation, to advise us as to the best site on which to erect these Woollen Mills. This gentleman, after touring Australia from one end to the other, and having a real good time, advised that Geelong was the most suitable site. The then Administration ought to have consulted men already in Australia who had been engaged in the woollen industry years before the birth of this expert. I should be anxious for the success of this factory, no matter where it was erected, and the best authorities available have declared that the most suitable State for the production of woollens is Tasmania. We have there an ample supply of water containing all the elements requisite for bleaching, and Tasmania, at present, is quite unable to meet the demands, not only of the rest pf Australia, but of other parts of the world, for its woollen products. The South of France is one of its best customers, taking a very considerable quantity of our fine blankets. It is a matter for regret, therefore, that, notwithstanding the report of the expert brought out to Australia to advise the Government of that day, it was not decided that the Commonwealth Woollen Mills should be established in the State from which I come. I do not advance this argument from a parochial stand-point. If the climatic and other conditions necessary to the production of woollen goods existed in, say, Victoria, it would not matter to me if the factory were established here. But I am convinced that the mistake made by the late Government in establishing the Woollen Mills at Geelong will be attended in years to come with disastrous results. I do not know whether the Government have yet arranged for the appointment of a manager for the mills. If they have not, I shall be glad to submit, privately, the name of a man who, I am certain, would give every possible satisfaction in the position. He has occupied the most prominent position in one of the largest woollen factories in Tasmania ever since its establishment, which was more than three or four years ago. ‘ I am afraid to mention this matter to Ministers, who, I know, are taking very little notice of what I say. The question is of considerable importance, but if I cannot obtain the attention of the Minister in charge, it is useless for me to continue the discussion.
– Why not go to bed, and drop him a line to-morrow ?
– If the honorable senator cannot make a more sensible interjection, I think he would be better in bed. If any extension of the production of woollen goods is contemplated by the present Government, I trust that the southern or northern part of Tasmania will not be overlooked. Can the Honorary Minister inform the Committee whether a manager has yet been appointed? Is it possible to get an answer from him ?
– I have no power to compel the Minister to reply.
– Will the Honorary Minister obtain permission from Senator Millen, or Senator McColl, to answer my question ? It seems that this Minister by courtesy only - there is no other reason for his presence in the Cabinet - cannot show an honorable senator the ordinary courtesy of replying to a question. His present attitude is only in keeping with his conduct for the last couple of years. It was my painful duty about two years ago to compel him to admit on the floor of this chamber that he had told a wilful and unmitigated untruth. He has not had the decency - he has been too shamefaced, perhaps - to speak to me since then. I was thinking very seriously the other day of making him speak to me.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in discussing the personal conduct of the Minister.
– Very well. I shall not discuss the bounder any further.
– Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– If I must withdraw it, then I shall do so gladly. He is sup- . posed to be a Minister in this Chamber.
– The honorable senator must know that that remark is entirely out of order.
– The Minister could have obviated all this trouble by extending ordinary courtesy to me.
– That does not remove the necessity for a withdrawal of the remark by Senator Long.
– If the Minister makes an ass of himself he cannot-
– I must ask Senator Long to withdraw the remark of which I complained.
– I do withdraw, but I am pointing out that if a Minister - not necessarily this Minister - makes an ass of himself, he cannot blame other people if they ride him. Of course, if the “ cap fits” this great man, who has been accidentally put into the position he fills so very gracefully, it cannot be helped. If I feel disposed to ask another question of this gentleman - by courtesy, of course - and he does not vouchsafe an answer, I shall probably feel it my duty to make him answer.
– I must ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark, because it is in the nature of a threat.
– If my remark is looked upon in that light, I shall not persist, but merely say that the Honorary Minister is not acting up to the best traditions of Ministerial responsibility when he sits there like a log of wood, and refuses information. If the information is in his possession, he ought to give it, and if he has not got it, he ought to intimate the fact to the Committee and- myself. However, I shall not press a subject that I know must be painful, ‘and make ‘the Minister feel how petty, small, and contemptible he is, after all.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to make remarks of that kind.
– Very well; I withdraw those words.
– If the honorable senator persists iin making allusions of the kind simply to withdraw them, I shall have to take some other course.
– I withdraw unreservedly.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to continue those personal reflections, which he knows are not in order.
– The life of the Navy offers many opportunities for smart boys, but I do not think the wisest means have been adopted to induce them to take up a seafaring life. In Tasmania, particularly on the north-west coast, the authorities have been very active for some considerable time in inducing boys to enlist, but I do not regard the methods of the recruiting agents as altogether commendable. Those officials ought to put the facts of the position fairly and squarely, not only before the boys, but also before their parents; and it has come under my notice that tactics not altogether desirable have been resorted to. If there was a Minister here who had the decency to listen to the requests I have to make, I would suggest, with some personal knowledge, that the recruiting agents be instructed to adopt different and better methods. I think we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.’]
Sitting suspended from 12.20 to 1 a.m. (Friday).
– I would like to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.”] It. is rather refreshing to again see the Minister of Defence in his place in this chamber. Possibly he will extend to me the courtesy of a reply, so that I will ;not be obliged to again employ the -strong terms which I used a few minutes ago towards another individual who accidentally occupies a position in the Ministry. Seeing that the Minister of Defence is present, I feel compelled to repeat some of the arguments which I have already presented in reference to the recruiting of boys for the Australian Navy. We ought to have some assurance from the Minister that only bond fide representations will be made by the agents of the Commonwealth when they are attempting to induce lads to enter our -naval service. It has come to my knowledge that these agents have not put the position before the boys as fairly and fully as they ought to have done, nor have they taken the parents of the lads into their confidence as they should have done. Before youths are permitted to sever their home connexion, they ought to know exactly the conditions under which they are required to serve in the Australian Navy. Recently considerable heartburning has been experienced by Australian engineers in the service. Our Australian officers are not getting a fair deal in the matter of promotion. Complaints have reached this Parliament from young men occupying positions as engineers in our naval service who have declared their intention, if they do not. get a fair deal, of severing their connexion with it. Unless the Minister insists upon merit being rewarded, discord will be created, retirements will follow, and ultimately the service, instead of being popular with young and capable men, will become very unpopular indeed. It is because Captain Hughes Onslow insisted upon bare justice being done to Australian officers -that he made himself unpopular with the other members of the Naval Board. I hope that the Minister of Defence will give particular attention to this matter during the recess. If I can get an assurance from him to that effect, I shall be satisfied, because I know that any promise made by him will be faithfully kept. I must insist upon having a quorum present. [Quorum formed.] Reference was made this evening by Senator Rae and others to the rapidity with which our defence expenditure is growing. When we “ . examine the figures contained in these Estimates, we are justified in asking whether we are getting a quia pro quo for the money that is being expended. Is the greater portion of that money being devoted to the payment of high salaries or to the equipment and training of our Naval and Military Forces? If honorable senators will look at the Bill they will find that high salaries are the order of the day. For instance, under the heading of “ Naval Establishment,” subdivision 1, they will find a number of officers who participate largely in the huge expenditure upon our defence system. Amongst these they will observe the following : -
Captain-in-Charge, £1,000; Naval Store Officer, £750; Victualling Store Officer, £750; Chief Engineer, £700 ; Deputy Naval Store Officer, £7$n ; and Naval Ordnance Officer, £450.
I do not say that these salaries are too high, because I do not know anything of the duties which their recipients are called upon to perform. But there does seem to be an undue proportion of highsalaried officials under the CaptaininCharge. If honorable senators will turn to page 94 of the Bill, they will see the reverse side of the picture. There, under the heading of “ Naval Establishments,” they will find that an armourer is in receipt of £156. per year. Now the duties performed by an armourer are of a very skilled character indeed. I would ask the Minister to look into the matter, with a view to seeing if the occupant of this office cannot be paid a salary which will be more proportionate to the services which he is rendering the Commonwealth. It is a disgrace to the Government to put a salary-of £156 on the Estimates for an armourer; but it is in harmony with the repeated declaration of the present Government to reduce expenditure in connexion with the lower-paid servants of the Commonwealth. On page 97, votes’ are set down for the Flinders Naval Base, Victoria, Naval Bases in New South Wales, and the Henderson Naval Base in Western Australia. Dealing with the vote for the Flinders Naval Base, I want to say that what appears to me to be a very gross injustice has been inflicted on one of the staff clerks,- a Mr. Bailey, who, in keeping with the policy of the present Government, has been summarily dismissed. Notwithstanding repeated applications for an inquiry into the cause of his dismissal, that modicum of justice has been denied him, as it has been denied Captain Hughes Onslow. I do not profess to know anything of the circumstances that brought about the dismissal of Mr. Bailey; but I do know that the EngineerinCharge recorded an emphatic protest against his dismissal, and asserts that he rendered skilled and trustworthy service. It is useless to ask the Minister of Defence to take any action in this matter, because his gods, so to speak, on the Naval Board, run the show. The Minister is only a figure at the end of a string, and when the Board pulls the string the figure moves. That has been our experience of the honorable senator ever since he has occupied his present office. In connexion with the establishment of
Naval Bases, as in the case of the Woollen Mills, it appears that the Government have not acted upon sound advice. The Flinders Naval Base may be a very good one, but no one can deny that there are places in southern and northern Tasmania which offer equal, if not better, facilities for the establishment of a Naval Base. That certain parts of Tasmania have undoubted claims to consideration in this connexion no one who knows anything about the Derwent River or the lower reaches of . the Tamar will deny. But ‘it was not to be expected that Tasmania would ‘ receive any consideration, because she is represented in the Ministry by a gentleman who has shown little, if any, interest in Tasmanian affairs. He is quite content to acquiesce in any course that the stronger and more intelligent members of the Ministry .may tell him to adopt. On more than one occasion in this Chamber, and in another place, the Government have been requested to investigate the claims of the Tamar River as a place for the. establishment of a subsidiary Naval Base, but the proposal has always been turned down. It would seem that Tasmania is not likely to receive any consideration in connexion with the construction of public works from the present Government. I” should like to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed. ] In these matters Tasmania is disposed of without a single thought by the Government or the Honorary Minister, who is supposed to represent that State. I find, on turning to page 98, a new item under the heading, “ Cockatoo Island, Sydney,” namely, “General Manager, £2,000.” This is, I suppose, to be some great man whom the Ministry have in their mind, and who is to be imported from the other side of the world. It is remarkable that any old thing in the way of salary is good enough for an energetic,’ trustworthy Australian official, whilst nothing short of a princely salary is sufficient for a man who comes from England, Ireland, or Scotland. Mr. Cutler lias capably and -faithfully dis.charged the duties of General Manager at Cockatoo Island for at least two years past, And, if my memory serves me aright, at a salary of £800 a year. The Minister of Offence, earlier this evening, said he wanted a man for the post who could build a ship, and not merely put the sections of the ship together, as was done in the case of the Warrego. That sneer may have been justified, but I can inform the Committee that .the Brisbane was not sent out here in sections. She has been built, lock, stock, and barrel, under the direct supervision of Mr. Cutler. It would have been just as well to have ascertained whether she was a success or a failure before deciding to go to the other end of the world for a man to manage our ship-building yards. Mr. Cutler has had, and still has, under him a great number of men who have had considerable experience in the business of ship-building, and are capable of constructing almost every part of a vessel. Any one visiting Cockatoo Island Dock, and inspecting the Brisbane, must conclude that there are skilled tradesmen there, and a skilled man to supervise their work. However, the Government have decided that they must have something with the Imperial mark on it, and that it is not to be expected that we can find a man in Australia capable of supervising the building of the smaller ships of our Navy. It is well known that Mr. Cutler’s services, when available, will be gladly accepted by the State Government of New South Wales. They propose in the near future to build a big workshop and dock at Newcastle for the construction of dredges, steam launches, and river and small craft generally. I understand that Mr. Cutler intends to accept the offer of the State Government to take charge of the very extensive works at Newcastle. I want to dispose of the question by expressing a hope that, sooner or later - and I devoutly hope it will be sooner - it will be recognised that Australians are capable of bringing commonsense to bear upon the consideration of any industrial problem, no matter how complex. He will be capable of rendering just as good an account of himself in a position of responsibility as those whom we are enticing to Australia by the offer of princely salaries. On page 98 of the Bill provision is made for a general manager at £2,000, a shipyard manager at £800, a director overseer at £750, an engineer overseer at £600, an engineworks manager at £550, and a secretary and accountant at £550 ; six officials, receiving between them £6,000 a year. Th« people of Australia might well ask whether a pause should not be made in defence expenditure, especially when a great part of the money appears to be paid, not for the training and equipment of men, but . to provide big salaries for officials, many of whom are being imported from Great Britain. Coming now to the subject of sick pay, 3d. a day is a very large sum to take from a man’s daily wage to provide against accident and sickness, none of the institutions with which I am acquainted charging their members more than half the amount. That it is excessive is proved by the fact that a fund amounting to £17,000 has been accumulated. Yet there is considerable doubt as to whether this fund can be drawn upon to pay the fees incurred for the necessary medical or surgical treatment ashore of those officers and men of the Naval Forces whose cases are too serious to allow of them remaining on board their ships. The second naval member of the Board sanctioned the payment out of the fund of the fees charged for a serious operation undergone by an officer in a Melbourne hospital, but the payment was, I understand, vetoed by the finance member, and the difficulty has not been settled yet. I invite the attention of the Minister to the matter Those who contribute to the fund should be able to rely upon it for the payment of the expenses incurred for medical or surgical attention. I hope that I am not wearying honorable senators.
– You are; I tell you straight. It is a good thing that you got your Bill through.
– It is low-down tactics, to penalize members of your own party.
– Is that remark in order - “ low-down tactics.”
– So they are!
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Senator McDougall). - As Senator Long considers the remark offensive, it must be withdrawn .
– I withdraw it.
– The sum of £188,504 is provided for the Administrative and Instructional Staff alone. But I do not want to labour thi3 question. Honorable senators seem willing to pass anything, and to sacrifice anybody, and to do any injustice to terminate the session.
– I object to that statement.
– I exempt the honorable senator.
– Other honorable senators are in the same category.
– I am glad to have that assurance.
– It is a pity that such splendid “stone- walling “ tactics are not being exhibited in a better cause.
– Is that in order? What have I to gain by “ stone-walling” 1 Another matter that might very well engage the attention of the Minister is the breeding of remounts for military purposes. There are exceptional facilities for this in several of the States, including Tasmania. The provision of remounts will be an important part of our defence preparations.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Divisions 81 to 92, £469,575.
– I wish to make an inquiry about the conditions under which our lighthouse employes are engaged. They should be treated better than they have been hitherto. I have already mentioned that they have no opportunities of educating their children as persons employed on the mainland have. I have also mentioned that it is necessary to have supply vessels calling at stated periods at the lighthouses,that uniforms should be supplied to the keepers free, and that the general conditions of employment need to be improved. These lighthouse men lead lonely lives, and have very little chance of social intercourse. We have passed a Lighthouse Act, but it will not come into operation until it is proclaimed. When will the proclamation be issued, and when will the Commonwealth assume responsibility for the Department?
– I cannot reply categorically to the honorable senator’s questions, but I can inform him that the lot of the lighthouse keepers will be considerably improved when they become employes of the Commonwealth. The matter is not yet ripe for the issue of the proclamation. Negotiations with the States have been proceeding, and a conclusion will soon be reached. A considerable amount of work is going on around our coasts. I have made inquiries as to when the proclamation will be issued, and have learnt from a responsible official that it cannot be done immediately. The subject is, however, under special consideration.
– Will the lighthouses be treated as transferred properties, and taken over as such ?
– What responsible officer has been consulted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and what reason is given as to why the time is not ripe for the issue of the proclamation?
– I have sent round to the Minister to ask if he can tell me when the proclamation will be issued, and I hope to be able to furnish a reply to the honorable senator before the sitting terminates.
– It is more than a pleasure to have elicited a courteous reply from the VicePresident of the Executive Council. Indeed, it is quite refreshing to get an answer at any time. This is a favorable moment for moving -
That progress be reported.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– - Honorable senators will have noticed from the official returns that this year there has been a considerable decrease in the Customs and Excise revenue. As far as I can learn, the Government have not yet submitted an opinion as to the cause of that reduction, amounting to something like £600,000. Have the Government any information to give to the Committee on the point?
– I have no information as to the cause of the decline, but, of course, a reduction of revenue occurs when there is a decrease in the importation of goods.
– I would like to know what the Government have in view in regard to the extension of the system of lighting on the Queensland coast? It will be remembered that, at considerable expense, the Fisher Government employed an expert, in the person of Commander Brewis, R.N., to examine the lighting facilities on the coast line of Australia. I leave honorable senators to look after their own States in the matter. I merely wish to call attention to the fact that Commander Brewis, in his report to Parliament, said that there is any amount of room for improvement with regard to the lighting on the Queensland coast. Had we had. more time to deal with this matter, it would have been my pleasure to have gone into it pretty extensively, but I shall content myself by quoting one extract from page 3 of the report of Commander Brewis on the lighting of the north-east coast, which says -
The proportion in Queensland at the present time is one coastal light to each 51 miles, including the western approach to Torres Strait. This is exclusive of “ local “ or “ leading “ lights. The proportion, if the recommendations contained in this report are adopted, will be one coastal light to each 23.6 miles of coast line.
Then he goes on to point out that the proportion in France is one light to every 5.5 miles, and in the United Kingdom one light to each 16.4 miles. Queensland is perhaps one of the most dangerous coast lines in Australia, by reason of the fact that there is a tremendous coral reef extending almost from north to south for 1,200 miles. In the interests of humanity, life, shipping, and property generally, I call the attention of the Minister to the fact that the sooner something is done to give effect to the recommendations of Commander Brewis in regard to that portion of our coast the sooner will the people of Queensland appreciate it.
– The lighting of our coast is a very important matter, and so is also the survey of it. I hope, when the Minister is replying, he will also tell us what the Department, is doing in regard to the survey of our coast. The lighting and the survey of the coast are inseparable. We must have a good survey, as well as good lights, to guide our mariners in negotiating our waters. I understand that Senator Maughan meant his remarks to apply to the Australian coast generally.
– That is so.
– I suppose that the lighthouses, when transferred to the Commonwealth, will be treated as other transferred properties^ - that is to say, we must provide for the interest charges upon them. If that is so, I would like to know whether the adjustment between the States and the Commonwealth in regard to this matter has been the cause of delaying the proclamation of the Act. If not, will the Minister indicate what has caused the delay?
– The “lighthouses will be treated as transferred properties. A special investigation regarding them has been completed, printed, and circulated, and a Lighthouse Branch has been formed, and is now preparing to take over control from the States. I understand that a survey of the west coast is now being conducted by the Imperial Government, under highlyskilled officers, the Commonwealth bearing the cost. The delay in regard to taking over the lighthouses has been caused through the late appointment of Mr. Ramsbotham. Though the position was advertised early in the year, the Director was not appointed until September. The coast has been divided into four districts - first, the North -West Cape to Torres Strait, with head-quarters at Darwin, a distance of 2,300. miles; second, from Torres Strait to Cape Moreton, a distance of 1,500 miles, with head-quarters at Townsville; third, Cape Moreton to Cape Northumberland, embracing the coast-lines of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the islands of Bass Strait, a distance of 2,500 miles; and fourth, Cape Northumberland to North-West Cape,’ ‘with head-quarters at Albany, a distance of 2,900 miles. Two officers have been appointed to take charge of districts - Captain Hood and Captain Bolger - and two others have still to be appointed. It is intended to treat the light-keepers liberally. All the leave conditions of the Commonwealth Service will apply to them. All public holidays will be added to their annual leave of three weeks, and when the light-vessels are obtained they will have stores conveyed to them free of freight charges.
– What about the education of. the children of the lighthouse keepers?
– I have no note about that, but I shall bring the question under the attention of the Minister to see if we can make provision in that regard. Mr. Ramsbotham has not yet had time to go thoroughly into matters.
– Have you had a valuation of the lighthouses made?
– No. Senator LONG (Tasmania) [2.9 a.m.]. - I undertook to delight the Committee with a few observations on Defence until 2 o’clock. I have nothing to add in regard to the Customs Department.
– Commander Brewis, in his report on the western coast of Australia, says that to thoroughly survey that coast will take at least twenty years, and seeing that there is only one ship engaged in the work - that is, H.M.S. Fantome - I would ask. the Minister to take into serious consideration the wisdom of employing two vessels. Showing the danger confronting shipping and the need for urgency, I wish to refer to the wreck of the s.s. Pericles on a rock just outside Cape Leeuwin. I travelled over that portion of the ocean three or four months after the wreck, and the navigating officer of the Orient boat on which I travelled assured me that on his previous trip his boat had passed over almost the identical spot where the Pericles was wrecked.
– It did nothing of the kind.
– I am only repeating what I was told. The reason why the Orient boat did not strike the rock was that she did not have the same draught as the Pericles, which drew 28 feet, and in consequence struck the pinnacle of rock, knocked it off, and went down inside half-an-hour. That is an example of the unknown dangers of the Western Australian coast. The same applies to the coast from Perth to Cambridge Gulf. To get through in safety the people who travel over that part pf the ocean have to depend on the skill of the navigators We. do not know how many more rock’s there may be of the same kind as t1’ ‘t on which the Pericles came to grief, and so I suggest to the Minister the wis-, dom of expediting the survey. There is no reason why we should wait for twenty years. Let us have two ships, so that we may bring the completion of that work within a reasonable time. We cannot, afford to lose further shi “<s -. particularly we cannot afford to los° lives of Australians; and as the expenditure will have to be undertaken sooner or later, I trust that the Minister will approach the Imperial authorities with a view to getting another survey ship so as to press on with the survey at a fair
Tate. I hope the Minister will pay particular heed to the note of warning I am ;sounding.
– I notice in this morning’s Argus a short article which deals with a very important matter. It is as follows -
Aliens in Sugar Industry.
Brisbane, Thursday. - The Minister for Agriculture (Mr. White) said to-day that he had signed 512 certificates of exemption as provided for under the Sugar Cultivation Act, permitting -aliens to engage in the sugar industry. No one had received an exemption certificate unless he had resided in Queensland for over 10 years. Some of the applicants have been 30 years in the State. Many of them were Hindoos (British subjects) and kanakas, who had been exempt under the Federal Act of 1902.
Negotiations were entered into between the Fisher Government and the State Government to abrogate the Excise and bounty provisions conditionally upon legislation being passed by the State Parliament to abolish the employment of aliens in the industry, and to provide industrial conditions that would be acceptable to the white labour employed therein. What negotiations, if any, have taken place between the present Federal Government and the State Government in respect to those matters, and have any arrangements been entered into between them to vary the agreement made by the Fisher Government with the State Government ?
– Before the Minister replies on the question of the survey of the coastline of Western Australia, I desire to read a passage from the report of Commander Brewis in order to bring the matters more vividly before his mind.
The coast-line of Western Australia, from Eucla to Wyndham, amounts to approximately 3,130 nautical miles. From Eucla to Port Darwin is a distance of 3,300 miles-, of which fully 2,400 miles must be considerably imperfectly charted, and in parts entirely unexamined. Accurate charts are obligatory for trade and navigation, and this is a most important coastal requirement. If two vessels proceeded steadily with this work, it would take at least fifteen years, and probably twenty years, to complete.
The position is really worse than I described, because, on the authority of Commander Brewis, it will take two vessels from fifteen to twenty years to do the work. I trust that the Minister will take an active interest in seeing that it is pushed along more rapidly than it has been.
– I have not seen the paragraph in the Argus read by Senator Findley, but I can say, with certainty, that no variation of the agreement has been made by the present Government. I shall have an inquiry made into the matter he has referred to, and find out exactly how it stands.
– The Queensland Government have not kept faith with what they promised us.
– I quite recognise the importance of the matter which Senator Lynch has brought up. I shall bring it before the Cabinet without delay to see if the survey cannot be expedited in some way or other.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Home Affairs.
Divisions 93 to 101, £459,349.
– Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council how in a position to give me the information” I asked for earlier in the sitting regarding a statement by a member of the Western Australian Government that the Federal Government had asked the State Government to ease off the supply of jarrah railway sleepers. The State Government have two contracts running, namely, one for powellised karri sleepers, and one for jarrah sleepers, and a State Minister said that the Federal Government had asked the State Government to ease off the supply of jarrah sleepers, indicating that there was a surplus on hand at the time.
– There are two contracts for the supply of jarrah sleepers, namely, one for 100,000, and one for 200,000. The contracts with the Western Australian Government are for the supply of 1,700,000 sleepers. There is no trouble about the supply of jarrah sleepers; the trouble has been in regard to the other kind. With regard to the matter referred to yesterday by Senator Needham, I have made an inquiry, and the following information has been supplied -
The trouble with the Western Australian Government is only in regard to powellised karri sleepers. The first contract of jarrah sleepers was 100,000 sleepers, and the deliveries were reasonably satisfactory. The second contract is for 200,000 sleepers at Port Augusta ; 50,000 were due 1st December instant, but have not been delivered. It is understood that the bulk of them are on the road, and nothing has (so far) been said about late delivery. Nothing is known of any request to the State to delay any deliveries of jarrah sleepers.
– The Western Australian Government are desirous of fulfilling, and will fulfil, the contracts into which they have entered, and I want to ask the Minister whether he will review the whole matter, and give the State Government a chance to fulfil the contract which they have not been able to do owing to the fact that certain conditions intervened over which they had no control.
– I can assure Senator Needham that, personally, I am in sympathy with the State Government in the trouble they have got into. I understand it has not been due to their fault. We have, of course, to see that the work is carried on, because we do not wish the work of construction to be stopped, and a number of men knocked . off. On behalf of the Cabinet, I can assure the honorable senator that in the circumstances every consideration will be given to the position of the State Government.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Postmaster-General.
Divisions 102 to 111, £4,834,757.
– I would like the Minister to give any information he has in reference to the contract referred to in the item on page 196, “Remission of fines for noncompliance with contract.”
– There is a typographical error; the word “ contract “ ought to have been printed in the plural. A number of contracts were entered into by the Department withvarious parties.
– That will do. I thought that it was one contract.
– I thought so, too. I have made an inquiry, and find that the same thing happened in regard to other States. A number of contracts were entered into by the Department with various parties, but were not complied with. There were extenuating circumstances, and, consequently, the fines were remitted
– On behalf of Senator Russell, who is unavoidably absent at this early hour, I rise to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following questions, which he, if present, would have asked, and which I may mention follow on some questions that he asked yesterday : -
As Senator Russell ventilated this matter yesterday, and I supported him in doing so, the Minister is in possession of the facts. A certain award was given on the 12th September, 1913, in connexion with the Postal Electricians Union ; an attempt was made to evade the award, and the. Union had to approach the Court to get an interpretation of it, but even now they are denied the benefit of the award.
– The honorable senator is scarcely correct in saying that an attempt was made to evade the award.
– I do not say that it was made by you.
-I know that when the award was made the Government gave an instruction that it was to be carried out, and that instruction was sent to every State. The award was varied afterwards. The replies to the questions which the honorable senator has put on behalf of Senator Russell are as follow : -
Senator Russell intended to ask meanother question to-night, and, as he is. not here, I will give the information now. There were a number of temporary - employes who did not get at first the full award. The award was afterwards varied in order to include them. The question then arose as to dating the payment back a considerable time. This matter has been before the Postmaster-General, and was discussed by the deputation which waited upon him last week from the branches of the service. He made them an offer, and it . is now under consideration.
– I made a statement about an attempt to evade the award. I did not impute that attempt to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, or to the Government. I believe that the Commissioner’s Department really attempted to evade the award. I was present in Court when Mr. Justice Higgins gave his interpretation of the award. If the whole of the costs that the union was put to cannot be refunded by the Government, they should defray at least the cost of securing an interpretation of the award, seeing that it was necessitated by the action of the Commissioner.
– I think that there is something in the honorable senator’s contention, and I promise to bring it before the Cabinet for consideration.
– The honorable senator will let me have a reply ?
– I shall communicate with the honorable senator. As to the Postal Electricians’ case, I may say that when it came up the other day I made inquiries into it, and have received from the Secretary of the Department the following letter, dated 12th inst., which may be interesting to honorable senators -
Melbourne, 12th December, 1913-
Dear Senator Mccoll, -
Referring to your inquiries this morning respecting the Arbitration Award in the Postal Electricians’ case, I beg to inform you that the original award of the Arbitration Court came into operation in accordance with the terms of the award thirty days after it had been laid before both Houses of Parliament. Thus, it took effect from the 12th September last. Copies of the printed award have been forwarded to the different Deputy Postmasters-General, and on the 12th September a notification was sent to them, reminding them that it came into operation on that date, and instructing them to make payment accordingly. Subsequently, a difference of opinion arose regarding the interpretation of the award as regards temporary employes, who made a further application to the Court. The award was varied in a judgment delivered on the11th October,1913, and instructions in regard to it, and that payment was to be made in accordance with it, were issued to all Deputy PostmastersGeneral on the 14th idem. Complaint having been made that the mechanics in Queensland were not receiving the award rates, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, was asked, on the 13th ult., for report, and on the following day a reminder was sent to him. He replied, on the 17th idem, as follows : - “ Files of papers re permanent officers have been passing backwards and forwardson urgent business connected with decisions, conveyed re temporary employés, and as a result settlement of the question of increased pay to staff-men has been delayed. List of payments as per award now approved, and funds made available for payment. Temporary employés have been paid at increased1 rates for current periods.”
– I wish to draw the attention of the Vice-President of the ExecutiveCouncil to the necessity for improving; our postal service in the direction of giving notice to the public of approaching storms or changes in the weather which might have an injurious effect upon growing crops, fruit, and stock. The Commonwealth postal service extends all over the continent, and we have a huge army of mail carriers. But at present those engaged in growing cereals, fruit, and other primary products are placed at a serious disadvantage for want of warning as to approaching weather changes. Their only source of information is the daily press. Many people in the country, however, do not subscribe to the daily newspapers, while many others who do, are unable to obtain them until two or three days after their publication. If they were warned through the Postal Department of approaching changes in the weather, a great deal of valuable produce would be saved. In the United States of America the Postal Department distributes every year something like 20,000,000 pamphlets, issued by the Meteorological Department, which works in conjunction with it in notifying the people throughout that vast country of approaching weather changes. So far, nothing of this kind has been done in Australia. There are a comparatively small number of stations in each State which are notified of changes in the weather, and those stations, in turn, have to depend upon the daily press to communicate to the people the information they have so received. That is not enough. We should utilize the postal service in the direction I have suggested.
I hope that the Minister will see that the excellent example set us in this respect by the United States of America is copied, at least to some extent, by the Commonwealth. If the Meteorological Department were to co-operate with the Postal Department, valuable information as to approaching changes in the weather could be disseminated from time to time. Such information would be of great service to producers of cereals, fruit-growers, and those engaged in raising stock.
– And also to those engaged in fishing.
– If the fishermen along our coast could be warned of approaching storms, a great deal of property, and sometimes life, would be saved. We have towns on the northwest coast of Western Australia where “ willy- willys “ come down so suddenly that the residents, unless forewarned, have barely time to close their doors before they are upon them. I have been in communication with Mr. Hunt, the Government Meteorologist, who tells me that he can give warning of the approach of a storm. Steps should be taken to enable the information which he can supply to be distributed amongst the people through the medium of the Postal Department. I mention this matter in the hope that the Minister will see the wisdom of taking early action in regard to it.
– I am very much obliged to the honorable senator for having brought this matter before me. I can assure him that I am in full sympathy with this proposal. When I was in the United States of America in 1909, I spent half a day in the Meteorological Bureau, and am able, therefore, to indorse, all that Senator Lynch has said as to the value of the work done by it. We cannot hope, for a long time, to achieve the perfection which that Department has reached, but we might very well make a start in the way suggested by the honorable senator. The Meteorological Bureau of the United States of America receives communications twice a day from Canada in the north, Mexico in the south, Honolulu in the west, and Portugal in the east; so that it is able to give ample warning of approaching storms from every quarter. As the result of these warnings millions of pounds’ worth of property have been saved. Accurate information is also obtained by the bureau as to the rainfall all over the States. It is advised of the number of inches of rainfall in the mountains, and, upon that information, can tell the people what will be the height of the floods in the valleys. It also gives warnings of approaching frosts, and, in various parts of California, the receipt of such information has enabled farmers and others, by lighting fires, or covering up their plants, to protect them from the frost, and so to avoid much damage. I shall have great pleasure in pressing this matter on the Postmaster-General, and requesting him to arrange for his Department to co-operate with the Meteorological Department, with a view of taking action in the direction suggested by the honorable senator.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3, abstract, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request, and passed through its remaining stages.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that the House had agreed to part of an amendment insisted on with amendments by the Senate and disagreed to the remaining amendment as amended.
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Senate’s Amendment.- Insert the following new clause : - “ 14b. In the supply and sale of stores to the men employed in the construction of the Railway by the Government the prices charged shall not be more than the prices for such stores obtaining in Darwin, plus freights.”
Amendments of the Senate in such amend, ment -
Line1, leave out “ In “ (first occurring), insert “ The Government shall undertake “, leave out “ by the Government “, insert “ and “.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendment as amended disagreed to.
.- The Committee will recollect that, in connexion with this Bill, we had a somewhat lengthy list of disagreements with the other branch of the Legislature. Those disagreements have been gradually reduced, till, on the previous message from another place, there remained only two points of difference between us. One of these amendments, the authorship of which rested with Senator Pearce, has now been accepted. The other amendment consists of a new clause, which was inserted at the instance of Senator Needham, and which throws upon the Government the obligation of supplying goods to the men who will be engaged upon this railway under certain conditions. That amendment has not been accepted by the House of Representatives. In view of the fact that we have reduced our differences to so narrow a point, I ask the Committee not to insist upon the amendment. Honorable senators may take it for granted that, whatever Government may be in power when the construction of this railway is undertaken they will adopt a reasonable and humane view of the requirements of the men employed upon it. I move -
That the amendment be not further insisted on.
– In connexion with the supply of stores to the men who will be engaged on this line I would like a more definite assurance than that which has been forthcoming. I believe that the Minister of Defence himself would see that stores were supplied to these men at a reasonable price. But Ministers come and go. If the employes on the line are to be protected, that protection should be embodied in this Bill. It is all very well for the Minister to assure us that they will not be charged extortionate prices, but I fail to see why the Minister should argue that we ought not to insist on our amendment. I admit that the question of how stores should be supplied, and who should supply them, has been a somewhat vexed one. But in that connexion I accepted the proposal of ‘Senator Rae, that the Government should supply the stores at the price obtaining at Port Darwin, plus the freight. My only desire is to safeguard the men from victimization. I fail to see why the Committee should go back on its amendment.
– The Government must recognise that, in the far north and tropical country, where it will be difficult to obtain supplies in any circumstances, those supplies can be conveyed to ‘the workmen on this line in a regular manner, and at fair prices, only by means of organization. The conditions under which these men are to be employed should be defined in this Bill. Under the contract system it is absolutely impossible to compel an unsympathetic contractor to provide stores for his employes. Consequently, there is no body in existence that can cater for these workmen as well as can the Government. I, therefore, ask the Committee to insist on its amendment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [2.54 a.m.]. - There has been a series of compromises effected on this Bill, and I think that most of the Senate’s amendments have been agreed to. In regard to this proposal we have the assurance of the Minister of Defence that every endeavour will be made to see that the workmen employed upon the line are not victimized in any way. Moreover, the contractors will have to treat their employes well, or they will be unable to obtain labour in that country. In these circumstances I think we may accept the assurance of the Government, and allow the Bill to pass.
Question - That the amendment be not further insisted on - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I am exceedingly sorry thatI have to oppose the adoption of this report. An attempt was made at an early stage of the consideration of this Bill to secure -decent treatment for the men who will be engaged in the construction of this railway by insisting upon the day-labour principle. I was associatedi with a number of other honorable senators who, after mature consideration, thought that this plank of the Labour platform should be upheld. We found then that the Government brought to bear that pressure which Governments alone can exercise, by threatening practically to throw over the railway if their ideas with regard to the contract system were not consented to. Subsequently many honorable senators who voted for the daylabour principle, professing to believe, as I do, that it is part of the accepted Labour platform on which all on this side were elected, reversed their votes, and the contract system was accepted.
– Order ! The question of day labour is not involved in the message, the report upon which is now before us.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, and I shall refer now to a matter that is dealt with in the message. Another provision which the Committee of the Senate made to safeguard the interests of those who will be employed on this railway has been thrown overboard. We were informed by Ministers that it would be impossible to carry out what was embodied in a former proposed amendment, and compel the contractor to supply. his employes with stores. So it was decided, after much deliberation by the Committee of the Senate, to insist upon the Government providing stores for the men. That decision was sent in the form of an amendment upon the Bill to another place. It was again returned to us, and we were asked not to insist upon it. No promise or offer of any kind was made by the Minister of Defence that the system we advocated would be adopted voluntarily ; but we were assured, in a general way, that carried no weight, that efforts would be made to treat the men on humane lines. That is a pious sentiment, which might appropriately be incorporated in a prayer, or petition, or something which would mean nothing. I beg now to offer my protest against the action of honorable senators in having eaten their professions and abandoned this provision, which was very necessary in view of the fact that the Government had seen fit to give their adherence to the principle of contract labour, and to assure the Senate that, if it is possible to carry out the construction of the work by contract labour, that will be done. That last safeguard .in the interests of the men has been deliberately abandoned by those who evidently prefer the railway at any cost to health or life. I take this opportunity - even though it is 3 o’clock in the morning - to enter my emphatic protest against this shameless abandonment by honorable senators of the only safeguard possible in the interests of our fellow Australian citizens who will be employed in the construction of this line. I say it was a shameless abandonment of principle.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not use that language to describe the action of members of the Senate.
– I withdraw it. Perhaps I will be allowed to use the word “ shameful “ ?
– No, that is not in order.
– I, abandon that, as some honorable senators have abandoned their principles, and I shall simply say that what has occurred has been most discreditable to all concerned. .b’or the mythical value of this proposed railway, honorable senators have given up the only possible safeguard which, in the exceptional circumstances that have arisen, the men would have against deliberate exploitation by those employing them. On these grounds I enter my emphatic protest, and I say that I am very sorry to be associated with those who have seen fit to abandon all their principles in order to secure what, after all, is a very mythical advantage in the shape of this railway.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to one amendment made by the Senate, and disagreed to the remaining amendment, but had made a consequential amendment.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 3 - . . . a Joint Committee of nine members …. shall be appointed. . . (2.) Two of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the Senate, and six of the members of the Committee shall be members of and appointed by the House of Representatives.
Senate’s Amendments. - (i) Leave out “ Two,” insert “ Three “ ; (2) leave out “ six “, insert *’ five.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - (1) Agreed to ; (2) Disagreed to, and the following consequential amendment made in the clause, viz., omit “eight” and insert “nine.”
.- The Committee will remember that when this Bill first made its appearance here, it proposed to constitute a Committee of eight members, six representing another place, and two representing the Senate. The Senate did not consider that a fair apportionment of representation, and amended the Bill to provide for three representatives of the Senate and five of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives has sent the Bill back, again, and has submitted what I think is a very fair compromise, proposing three representatives for the Senate and six for the House of Representatives. In order to give effect to that proposal, a consequential amendment has been necessary in the earlier portion of the Bill to provide that the Committee shall consist of nine instead of eight members. The proposal now made brings this Bill into conformity with the allotment provided for in the Public Accounts Bill, and gives the Senate exactly the numerical representation to which it is entitled by the proportion which its numbers bear to the numbers of the House of Representatives. In the circumstances, I move -
That the amendment disagreed to be not insisted on, and the consequential amendment made by the House of Representatives be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with message intimating that the House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 31st December.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to extend to honorable senators the very best of good wishes for the coming Christmas season and the future New Year. I may be permitted to express my regret that my old friend, and long-standing opponent, Senator McGregor, is not in his place to-night to reciprocate, as I am sure he would, on behalf of the party he represents, the sentiments I express. I wish, in addition to offering good wishes to honorable senators opposite, to say that I personally appreciate very much indeed the measure of assistance extended by the Opposition to-night to the Government in order that the business of the Senate might be completed.
– Only to-night?
– I do not wish to limit it to that, but I have said to-night because we have been under a special obligation to our political opponents, who have stopped here throughout the evening and kept a quorum in order that we might complete our business. That is assistance of a peculiar character, which I very much appreciate.
– It is customary, not peculiar.
– It is peculiar in the sense that while a Government may ask their friends and supporters to remain during an all-night sitting in order to keep a quorum, we have been under an obligation to our political opponents, who have rendered us loyal assistance, which I acknowledge. I am sure that honorable senators generally will join with me in expressing appreciation of the services of the officers of the House. I need not labour the point, as I am sure every member of the Senate recognises the faithful and loyal service they have given us during the session. Honorable senators will join with me also in extending to them the good wishes of the Christmas season and New Year, which, on behalf of the Government, I have extended to honorable senators opposite.
– When Senator McGregor was leaving he asked me, on his behalf, to make the customary supplementary remarks on this occasion. I do so with pleasure, and say that honorable senators on this side reciprocate every word that the Minister of Defence has uttered. The circumstances of the session led on, occasions to keen fighting, but I think there is no sting left. We part personal and good friends, though politically we are as opposed to each other as ever. We on this side of the Senate reciprocate everything that has been said in regard to the officers of the House, the Hansard Staff, and the general staff of the Senate, who have rendered members every possible service. We also express our thanks to you, Mr. President, and to the Chairman of Committees, and we wish our friends on the Government benches, you, Mr. President, and the Chairman of Committees, the Hansard Staff, and officers of the Senate a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) £3.19 a.m.]. - I join with those who desire to tender their appreciation of the services rendered by you, Mr. President, and the officers of the House. I wish particularly to congratulate the Government on their debt of gratitude to honorable members, once associated with me in the Labour party, for the very kindly assistance rendered by them. We are told that we have put up many fights in this Senate, but I am convinced that the old days when an Opposition really opposed have passed away. I find that by adhering to those old principles which I absorbed in my political youth I am left on the rocks, as it were, and that the so-called fighting, which used to be real at one time, is now only shadow-sparring. It is a matter of regret to me that I have to congratulate the Government on having met with such signal success in defeating every principle which the party with which I am associated once held dear. I am only sorry that the two measures, the Postal Voting Restoration Bill, and the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, which in a spasm of virtue were rejected by the Senate, cannot be again introduced by the Government, sp that their duly submissive following might pass them, and thus make them completely happy in realizing that we are quite willing to oblige them by throwing over all our principles, so long as we have a happy ending, a long recess, and a safe conduct through the next two sessions, which will normally end the life of this Parliament. I congratulate the Government on the happy end of their labours, seeing that all the fighting we, of the Labour party, once put up for our principles has been so much shadow-sparring, and that at the last moment, after putting up the pretence of being Labour men, we have given Ministers all the assistance we could in passing some of the reactionary legislation that has come before us this session.
– I wish to join the Minister of Defence and Senator Pearce in expressing sincere thanks for the kindness and attention honorable senators have always received at the hands of the officers of the Senate and the attendants, but I would remind Senator Bae that, while it is all very well to rebuke other honorable senators for having, in his opinion, departed from their principles, he gave an exhibition to-night of abandonment of principle that I did not expect to see when I invited his assistance and that of other honorable senators in an endeavour to secure just bare, ordinary justice done for a man who, I think, has been unfairly, not to say meanly, treated.
The PEESLDENT. - I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that subject. It has already been fully discussed and dealt with.
– In deference to your request), I shall not pursue the subject further. I would only say to Senator Rae that in using nice language in calling the kettle black, it is. well to remember that one is not always too white himself. All the same, I feel disposed to join with Senator Rae. We have formed a new party, and it is a solid party.
– I guarantee the party breaks up in two days.
– As a new member of the Senate, I wish toexpress my appreciation of the sentiments uttered by the Minister of Defence, and indorsed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition. At the same time, I cannot help thinking that the Minister of Defence at the closing hour of the session should have been a little more generous to the Opposition. It is quite true, as he pointed out, that he acknowledges the services we have rendered to-night; but he could have gone further and quite magnanimously ventured the remark that the Opposition had throughout the whole of the session assisted the Government as far as they could in a good deal of their legislation without sacrificing principles to expediency. However, I have no desire to introduce discord on the eve of what, I hope, will be a merry Christmas . and happy New Year to every one in the Senate. I cannot sit down without epressingthe hope that the Minister, who . is absent from the chamber, I am sorry to say, on account of illness, will soon recover and be spared to occupy his accustomed place with the great ability he has always brought to play in discharging his duty. I wish, also, to add my testimony as a new member to the fact that, though we came from State Parliaments, where we learned a good deal, we were practically men untried in Federal politics, and had to learn a good deal here, and we thank you, Mr. President, the Chairman of Committees, the officers of the House and attendants, for their uniform courtesy, which has been demonstrated on many occasions to men who, like myself, came down here not altogether as strangers, but as pil-. grims, willing to learn. I thank you, Mr. President, as an old colleague, for the very kind advice you have frequently extended to myself and other new senators.
.- I very keenly regret that, owing to the limitation of my language, or to some perverted method of thought, I have said anything to-night that has left in the minds of honorable senators a sense of there being something wanting on my part. I rose with no other idea but that the few words I might say would enable us to part without . one lingering ill thought or thought of regret.
– There was no such thought on my part.
– I thought the honorable senator said that I was wanting in generosity in not recognising the assistance rendered - to the Government, not only to-night, but during the session. I think I can explain why I did not do it. The view I took of the matter was that to refer to the action of the Opposition during the session would, in a way, suggest that we thought they had departed from some of their principles. What I did refer to was the physical inconvenience of remaining here to-night. I made no reference to the votes given, because I assumed that, on all occasions, honorable senators voted as they thought best on a particular matter. I spoke, not of their assistance in regard to votes, but in reference to their willingness and their sacrifice of their own convenience in continuing this sitting, and not adjourning, aa they could have done at the usual hour and compelled attendance at a later hour to-day. I hope honorable members will understand from these few words of explanation that I had no intention but to limit my words to thanks to the Opposition for their assistance to-night. While I am on my feet I may remedy an omission, which I recognised immediately I sat down. Members on the Ministerial side are under a deep personal obligation to you, Mr. President. There has been occasion, as Senator Pearce has indicated, when, owing to peculiar conditions, feeling has been rather high, and we were all excitement. Being such a small minority, and recognising that you originally came from a party opposed to us, I am sure that we on this side feel particularly thankful to you, and take this opportunity to acknowledge the absolute impartiality and fairness with which you have discharged the duties of your position. I regret I overlooked this when I first spoke.
SenatorRae. - Could you announce whether your colleague, Senator Clemons, is out of danger?
– I have no reason to anticipate anything that I can refer to as dangerous, I am glad to say.
– I desire to thank the Minister of Defence for his very kindly references to myself and also to Senator Maughan and others. I wish. to thank honorable senators generally, and especially the leaders on each side, for the invariably considerate kindness and courtesy I have always received at their hands. Instead of making my task here a heavy one, they have made it peculiarly light and pleasant by the cordial assistance they have been willing to render at all times. At an earlier hour this evening I was reminded in another place that at one time I’ was a somewhat militant fighter on the floor of the chamber, and it has been quite a strange experience for me to find myself in a position where, while I was not debarred from the pleasure of looking on at a fight, I could not participate in it.
-It must have tried you very often, sir.
– I have nothing but the kindliest feelings for every member of the Senate, and I would be most ungrateful if I did not recognise the kindly way and the cordial and courteous assistance which every one has rendered me during the session. I desire also to thank all the officers and servants of the Senate for the very valuable assistance 1 have received from them. Never has any difficulty arisen in any of the Departments, and if ever anything required arranging, I have always received the utmost assistance from every one of the officers and servants. To the Hansard Staff, I think, can be given the credit of performing their duties in their usual very superior manner, which has given, and which could not help giving, satisfaction to every member of the Senate and to every member of this Parliament. We have a staff of reporters of whom I think” we ought to be proud, and who deserve every recognition at our hands. I hope that during the recess, and especially during the festive season, honorable senators will enjoy a very happy time, and that everybody, officials and Hansard Staff included, will be able to come back at the end of the recess, be it long or short, fresh for the labours of the new session, and that the very happy relations which have existed amongst us all will continue. I wish honorable senators an exceedingly happy and “ prosperous Christmas and New Year. If their Christmas will be as happy and their New Year as prosperous as I would wish, then it will be very happy and prosperous indeed.
- Mr. Mr. President-
– The honorable senator cannot speak now.
– - I thought that I could, sir. I was only going to convey my gratitude.
– All right; it may be done by courtesy.
– E - Even if it is . against the Standing Orders, I would like to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude I feel to al! new senators for the very cordial assistance they have given me in the chair.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.33 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 December 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19131218_SENATE_5_72/>.