5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Defence been drawn to the following cablegram, which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 18th inst., and which has reference to the use of oil fuel in the British Navy: -
It is reported that the Government, by guaranteeing £2,000,000 of the capital of an Anglo-Persian company, have secured for the Admiralty the first call on the output.
If so, is the honorable senatorprepared to recommend to the Cabinet the desirability of assisting in a similar manner any company or companies who are seeking to discover and develop oil-fields in Australia ?
– I have seen a similar paragraph in another newspaper, and I only wish to say now that I do not think it right that I should be required to answer this question at a time when an effort is being made to float public companies here.
– I am not in a position to say what correspondence, if any, has passed between the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, but I shall forward the honorable senator’s question to the Treasurer.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following paper: -
Defence: Report on an inspection of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia by General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Mediterranean, and Inspector-General of the Oversea Forces, 1914.
– Will the Minister of Defence have the report of Sir Ian Hamilton printed ?
– Possibly, in view of the importance of the document, it might be agreeable to the Senate, without wishing to ignore the Printing Committee, if I were to move that it be printed.
– The honorable senator can ask leave to submit a motion without notice.
Leave granted, and paper ordered to be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act 1901-1912. - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1913-14 - dated 8th May, 1914.
Coal Vend case: Reasons for the report of the Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the Appeal of the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth of Australiav. The Adelaide Steamship Company Limited and Others, from the High Court of Australia, delivered 25th July, 1913.
Privy Council judgment : Attorney-General for the Commonwealth and others v. Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited and others, delivered 17th December, 1913.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired under, at -
Beecroft, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Booroomba, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Essendon, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Pialligo, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Queanbeyan, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
South Head, Sydney - For Defence purposes.
Tharwa, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Woricers Dispensed with - Mr. W. Morris’ Contract.
– Can the Minister representing the Prime Minister give the Senate any information concerning the following telegram in a section of the Adelaide press yesterday in reference to the Kalgoorlie toPort Augusta railway, and dated from Oakden Hills: -
Nearly 200 men paid off by Government, all workers. Much destitution here. Useless workers seeking employment on east-west line.
– I have no information whatever about the matter, but I shall communicate with the Department, and forward their reply to the honorable senator to-morrow.
– I understood the Vice-President of the Executive Council to state, on Friday, in reply to my question, that the contract entered into with William Morris for the Kalgoorlie end of the transcontinental line was about to be terminated. Can he say definitely whether the contract has been terminated, and, if so, the reasons?
– I thought on Friday that the honorable senator was somewhat wrong in the inference he drew. I communicated with the Department on the subject, and have received the following memorandum : -
The Engineer-in-Chief represented that some of the work to be done at the western end of the Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta Railway could be done to better advantage and more economically by being let as piece-work, and the Minister approved of this being done - the rates to be fixed by the Engineer-in-Chief. The rates varied according to the work, but generally were - centre cutting,1s. 6d. per cubic yard; surface formation, 30s. per chain.
It has already been explained, in reply to Senator Pearce’s questions, that, although not advertised in the newspapers, quotations were obtained, but most of those who took up the work were unable to continue, generally owing to insufficiency of plant. The Supervising Engineer made arrangements with Mr. Wm. Morris to proceed with the piece-work at the rates mentioned, with the most distinct stipulation that the arrangement could be cancelled and the work stopped at any time the Supervising Engineer considered desirable.
The honorable senator contended that Morris had obtained a contract for the earthworks for the whole of the line within the State of Western Australia - that is absurd, he was only employed for just so long as it was considered to the interest of the Commonwealth to continue; the moment it was found otherwise the arrangement could be terminated by a word from the Supervising Engineer. As a matter of fact, Mr. Morris recently has put off all men except those kept on temporarily to clear up, &c., and the Minister has approved of the termination of his contract.
I understand that the difficulties of Mr. Morris’ contract were such that he was not able to make it pay, and that he voluntarily terminated it.
– So far as I could follow the reply it entered into an argument. I wish to intimate to the Senate that it is equally out of order to argue a matter in a reply as it is in asking a question.
– One day last week
Senator Blakey read off certain headlines from an article in a Melbourne newspaper regarding certain disclosures in Papua and asked me if they were correct, gene rally speaking. I replied that they were an exaggerated sensationalism. The newspaper in question apparently did not agree with the opinion I” expressed as to the nature of the matter published in its columns, and suggested that, to put it mildly, there was an absence of frankness in my reply. I desire to point out the words to which I referred as an exaggerated sensationalism. One headline to which Senator Blakey referred amongst others was “Hundreds of victims,” and in the article the writer said -
The allegation is that in nearly 500 cases men marked the agreement against their will.
I can only repeat what I said the other day that this statement in my mind did represent an exaggerated sensationalism. When the term “hundreds” is employed it clearly means more than two. In the general acceptance it means several hundreds, and that impression is confirmed by the quotation I have read where the writer refers to 500. Although my knowledge of the details of this case was very brief, I had ascertained before I spoke that the number was, compared to that, a very small one indeed. I understand that the cases which have been proven represent between twenty and thirty natives indentured to private employers, and some twenty odd employed by the Government under circumstances which apparently could not have been very repugnant to the men, because, when offered their release, only four of them accepted it. The point I wish to bring before the Senate, and those who read the journal in which these statements appeared, is that I had full justification for characterizing as an exaggeration a statement referring to several hundreds, when, as a matter of fact, there were only so few as the numbers I have indicated.
– Is it true that the Lieutenant-Governor had to discharge a magistrate in connexion with the matter?
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs a question without notice. There appears in this morning’s newspaper a notification that the Government intend to construct a railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River on the small contract, butty-gang, and day-labour system. I wish to know whether that announcement is an indication that it is the intention of the Government to abandon the system of letting contracts for the construction of public works, with or without tenders being called ?
– The point, so far as I gathered its purport from the honorable senator, is, generally speaking, correct. It is the intention to proceed with the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River on the lines indicated. But I point out that there has been no abandonment of any principle or method of constructing public works. This Government have never declared that in all circumstances they would adopt the principle of letting works by contract. They have, I think, made it quite clear that in each particular case where it is proposed to carry out public works, the method and principle of constructionadopted will be that which seems best fitted in the public interests to meet the case of the particular work to be carried out.
– A statement has appeared in the press to the effect that certain military officers have been promoted to positions superior to those which they previously held at an increase of salary. I should like to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the increases of salary are increases upon the salaries previously paid for the positions to which these officers have been promoted?
– There is only one case in which there has been an increase upon the salary previously paid for the office, that of the Chief of the General Staff. If the honorable senator refers to that case, it is quite true that the salary attached to that position has been raised from £1,200 to £1,500 a year.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What are the dates when the orders for the aeroplanes now in the possession of the Defence Department were given?
– The answers are - 2 Deperdussin monoplanes on 3rd July, 1912. 2 B.E. biplanes on 3rd July, 1912. 1 Bristol biplane on 6th December, 1912.
asked the Minister of. Defence, upon notice -
Seeing that the Honorable the Minister, in reply to a previous question by Senator Rae relating to alleged exemptions from military training, said that “ The Minister has to take the responsibility, acting, of course, in the light of the reports which he necessarily obtains from his officers,” will he inform the Senate how many exemptions have been granted during his term of office, and how many during that of his predecessor, of cadets physically fit and liable to military training?
– The answers are -
Twelve members of the Citizen Forces and thirteen cadets during my term of office, and one member of the Citizen Forces and four cadets during my predecessor’s term of office.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Senator.RAE asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
In view of the statement by the Minister, in reply to a previous question by Senator Rae, that the Lithgow Small Arms Factory is expected to reach its normal output by September, 1914, will he state the number of rifles produced during each of the months from October, 1913, to April, 1914, both months inclusive ?
Are the increased quantities completed during these successive months’ proof of a genuine advance in the efficiency of the factory, or are they causing a depletion of the stocks in hand of the component parts?
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the official figures supplied by the Minister, in reply to a previous question by Senator Rae, show that the outlay in connexion with the Lithgow Small Arms Factory amounts to the enormous total of £297,000, and that out of this a sum of £85,000 has gone in salaries and wages alone for the production of 3,300 rifles, or an average cost, for salaries and wages alone, of over £25 for each rifle completed, will the Minister have a searching inquiry made into the management of the factory by an independent body?
– The answers are -
Many circumstances have combined to retard output; but it is expected that unless some further unforeseen difficulties arise the full rated output of the plant will have been attained by September next. The Minister considers that the manager has shown zeal and ability in handling a highly difficult task, and sees no reason for the independent inquiry suggested.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are-
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Debate resumed from 15th May (vide page 1037), on motion by Senator Oakes -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
Mat it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- When speaking on Friday last, I took occasion to refer to some pamphlets which were distributed by our opponents in their endeavours to win the election. I had not finished with them, and I have here now one which is more disreputable in its character than any I submitted before. It must be admitted that the cartoon to which I refer plumbed about the lowest depth attainable, and certainly the card which was printed was one which any respectable organization would discountenance, and from which it would endeavour to dissociate itself. But believing that they had succeeded so well with these two misrepresentations of Labour they proceeded to indulge in a third, and at the last general elections a pamphlet was issued by the Liberal Union entitled the Liberal Record. It. is a monthly publication in South Australia, and bears this imprint - “ Issued foy the Liberal Union of Adelaide to the members, presidents, and secretaries of branches for information.” Lest any one should doubt whether I am quoting from an official source, I would remind the Senate that on the back of this publication is printed the Liberal ticket. It is obvious that no Labour organization would issue the Liberal ticket in any of ils publications. There can be, therefore, no question about its authenticity, and in this connexion I merely wish to add that it was printed by Messrs Vardon and Sons, of Adelaide. It contains a short article, purporting to be written by Mrs. Olive Malvery in A Year and a Day. I judge that the views which she expresses on Socialism are those which are held by the party responsible for the issue of this pamphlet. That party would scarcely print and circulate that article amongst the members and secretaries of their branches for their information unless they believed that it correctly represented their own views on Socialism. On the eve of a general election which was to determine the destinies of the Commonwealth for a period of three years, this pamphlet was circulated. It was circulated surreptitiously, and when it w;is found that it had fallen into the hands of- the true friends’ of Australia, great alarm was felt in the camp. The copies of the pamphlet were recalled, and no others could be obtained, despite all efforts in that direction. When the press directed attention to this article, which, I venture to say, is a most untruthful one in its application to Labour, did the next issue of this journal contain any retraction? Certainly not. Its publishers were not sorry that they had printed the article - they were only sorry that they had been found out. For the benefit of honorable senators, I propose to read a couple of sentences from this article. It reads -
My greatest objection to Socialism is its brutal attitude towards women. It has nothing to offer women except to propose that they shall be breeding cows, and that their young shall be fathered by the State instead of the animals who bred them.
Could anything be more gross or vulgar than that? It proceeded -
This, simply put, means that you and I who work, and have given hostages to fortune and pledges to the State, should be taxed to pay for the indulgence of every loafer.
These statements, I repeat, were issued by the Liberal Union of South Australia to the members and presidents of branches for their information. Thus, in my judgment, that party plumbed the lowest depths of infamy. So far as Mrs. Malvery’s opinions are concerned, I venture to say that they would not have been read by 1 per cent, of the Australian people. Nobody cared what were her opinions on Socialism, or anything else. But when those opinions were issued by the Liberal Union of South Australia, that body, allied itself with her utterances. Surely the time has arrived in our political life when we should recollect that persons who do not think exactly as we do, may be just as honest as we are. Then, because our opponents were defeated at the last election, they immediately began to circulate charges in regard to the duplication of votes. According to statements made in this Parliament, and in the public press - statements inspired by the Liberal Union - there were places in the Commonwealth at which every elector had voted twice. Indeed, one gentleman is reported to have said that some persons had voted three or four times. He further added that the cemeteries had given up their dead, and that the dead had voted.
– It is only fair to say that he subsequently withdrew the statement when he ascertained that the dead were dead after all.
– The statements were made in such a way that the public were led to believe they were true. It thus became necessary to extort apologies for these misstatements, and that proved no easy task. When a Select Committee vas appointed to investigate this matter, it found that there had been no duplication of votes, whereupon my honorable friends opposite immediately raised the cry that there had been impersonation. 1 have yet to learn that in Australia a single elector has been found who personated another elector. There has been a lot of talk about it, but there has not been a single case proved. It is safe to assume, therefore, that there was not the slightest foundation for the statement”?. My honorable friends, having been driven from these two positions, then alleged that there had been roll-stuffing, and to fortify their allegations commenced to quote Mr. Knibbs in this connexion. But when that officer was interrogated before the Select Committee which inquired into electoral irregularities, we find him saying, in answer to question 500 -
I would say, because of migration, one should expect a number on the roll somewhat greater than the number instantaneously eligible.
He went on to say that -
The inevitable duplication is the only deduction I can make. That is, I think duplication is inevitable, owing to the conditions existing in Australia, so long as the rolls include everybody in a place that are entitled to vote in that place.
He was then asked -
There is a good deal of Inter-State traffic, is there not?
And he replied -
Yes, it is very large. It amounted in one year to 773,000 persons, roughly.
That is a very large interchange, and these persons know that they are finable if they do not register within two months, and have been more than one month away from their residences, just as though they were not registered at all. That is quite a reasonable supposition, and the opposite conclusion could only arise in the mind of a man who was in a desperate difficulty to find an argument that would lend some air of verisimilitude to the statements he had made. If over 700,000 of our people are changing their residences every year, it is quite possible to suppose that duplication of names on the roll will occur. Late in 1912, and early in 1913, I was doing a little canvassing, and I remember that in passing up a street it was not uncommon to find a father called David Jones and a son called David Jones, both following the same trade and living in the same street. There was nothing in their names to distinguish one from the other, and the fact that one was the father and the other the son was not disclosed on the roll. It would therefore appear to persons who were searching for such things to be quite possible that David J ones was on the roll twice, and the inference would naturally be drawn by any one looking for evidence of that kind that his name appeared twice in order to enable him to vote twice, although in reality two individuals would go to the polls and vote separately. No allowance is made for cases of that kind by our opponents, who immediately raise the cry that we won only because of cases of impersonation. The statement of Mr.
Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, on this matter is worthy of note. He says -
An excess of enrolment is inevitable; but it is a tribute to the efficacy of the enrolment system in itself that at any given time there is on the rolls an excess of names - more names than are entitled to be enrolled - inasmuch as if that were not bo, under the law as it stands, there would be a number not enrolled who really ought to be. I am of opinion, however, that the estimated excess of 175,000 is too great.
When our opponents, who continued to reiterate their charges for some time, were met with an official statement so authentic and authoritative, they shrank away into another little hole to hide their heads. This time - and I remember the statement being made in the Senate - they raised a cry about dummy cards. I recollect the evening when the Honorary Minister said, in this chamber, that a very large percentage of dummy cards was found to have been inserted. This caused quite a flutter in the Senate. Some of us felt a little anxious about the matter, and a deputation was appointed to wait upon the Chief Electoral Officer in the presence of the Minister to ascertain the true position. There was no attempt to get behind the Minister’s back in the matter. It was discovered that the socalled dummy cards were intermediate cards, and not dummy cards in the sense which the Minister had conveyed to the public. I hold that it is a wrong thing to give the public the impression that an evil exists when the circumstances can be easily explained.
– “ Dummy cards “ was the term which the officials used themselves, and which they gave the Minister.
– I am glad the Minister has made that interjection, because it enables me to point out that whether a carcase appears to be carrion or otherwise depends entirely on whether it is an eagle or a dove that is looking at it. So a man with an evilly disposed mind takes “dummy” to mean an evil thing, and if the term is used it conveys to the public an entirely wrong impression which would not be conveyed if the term “ intermediate “ was used. Art intermediate card means that the vote is really held in suspense until the proper card is signed.
– It was not heldin suspense; it was operative at once by reason of that “ intermediate “ or “ dummy “ card.
– The Minister knows as well as I do that the Chief Electoral Officer said that the man had a right to be on the roll, not by virtue of that intermediate card, but owing to previous enrolment. That is the whole point. The vote was operative, not because of the dummy card, but because of the previous enrolment.
– If every man whose name appeared on the roll had a right to be there, why would the police send round fresh lists?
– The police were sent round in order to locate the men who had changed their residences.
– When they could not locate them they put a dummy card in.
– I think the Minister knows that he had a bad case, as he said when he rose to speak the other day, and is trying to make the best of it. He knows there was no intention on the part of the Electoral Department to evade the law or get behind it.
– I do not know anything of the kind.
- Mr. Oldham has clearly stated that these votes were held in suspense until the proper cards had been signed. But there was no power to say that the men whose names were there had no right to be on the roll. That is the position I take up.
– Are you aware that Senator McColl went to the Premiers’ Conference, and asked them to join in our perfect electoral system?
– The dummy-card system is not a part of our system; it is a fraud on the system.
– If the honorable senator thinks that, he is in a position to see that the fraud ceases.
– It has ceased.
– That is an end of the case.
– It is an end of the fraud that was committed.
– It ceased since they signed the cards. It was simply a means that the Department took to see that certain electors who may have changed their addresses were properly enrolled, and to keep a tally of them. During this debate a great deal has been said with regard to Socialism. My honorable friends have used the word as though it had an evil meaning. It is, I venture to say, indicative of a very great movement which is taking place, not alone in Australia, and my honorable friends are quite welcome to attach the term “ Socialist” to William Senior, for I am not ashamed to say that I am a Socialist. Turning to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I find that “ the ethics of Socialism are identical with the ethics of Christianity.”
– That is why they are so strange, and so little understood by them.
– If that be the case our honorable friends who oppose Socialism are opposing the ethics of Christianity. I leave that matter with them; it is one for them to decide. Turning to another authority, Webster, I find this definition of Socialism -
A theory of society that advocates a more precise, orderly, and harmonious arrangement of the social relations of mankind than that which has hitherto prevailed.
That is, I think’, a very good definition. Another work gives this definition -
A theory of polity that aims to secure the reconstruction of society, increase of wealth, and a more equal distribution of the products of labour through the public collective ownership of land and capital (as distinguished from property) and the public collective management of all industries. It’s motto is, “Every one according to his deeds.”
Not content with those definitions, I turned to the Century Dictionary, where I found the following definition -
Any theory or system of social organization which would abolish entirely or in great part the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute for it co-operation; would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labour, and would make land and capital, as the instruments of production, the joint possession of the members of the community.
I have a very good authority there, I think. But lest my honorable friends opposite should say that these are only dictionary definitions that I have cited, I will quote the opinion of one of the finest reasoners, perhaps, whom England has produced. According to John Stuart Mill, Socialism is -
A social organization which recognises the greatest possible liberty of the individual with a collective ownership of the material drawn from the globe, and an equal share by all in the fruits of the labour of all.
If my honorable friends think that that definition is not sufficient, then let me quote that of Cicero -
What the people use most the people should own.
Boiled down to a single sentence, the last quotation gives the quintessence of what Socialists believe. If the last quotation should not be sufficient for my honorable friends on the other side, I ask them to listen to this quotation -
If yon say it is impossible, you proclaim the bankruptcy of the human mind. It is your enemies of the Eight; but you, if, after admitting that a social system which gives almost everything to a minority - often an idle one - and refuses everything to a majority always hardworking - admitting that such a system is an iniquity, and having in your hands the power to transform it-you proclaim that such a transformation is impossible, and that it would end in chaos, disorder, and ruin. ‘
That is the opinion of Jurer, one of the best and foremost French writers, who advocates Socialism. On these two points, we may take it, I think, that our honorable friends are raising a bogy. Taking Socialism in its truest and highest sense, its ethics correspond with the ethics of Christianity. -Its endeavour is to strike poverty from society and from the English dictionary; to give to humanity, especially to toiling humanity, more of the fruits and more of the luxuries of life; to make this world what it was intended to be, I believe, the home of happy people, instead of having, as we have to-day, the greatest poverty in juxtaposition with the most useless wealth; to see that that wealth, the product of human labour, shall be owned in a greater measure than it is to-day by those who have created it. Let me give one more quotation, and then on this subject I will say no more -
Capitalism involves the unmerited wealth of those who are .idle, and the unmerited poverty of those who are the creators of all wealth. Socialism involves the wealth of those who merit wealth by becoming its producer, and the poverty of those only, if such there be, who, having the opportunity to live in comfort, choose rather the merited poverty, the fruits of voluntary idleness.
Passing away -from this subject, I notice that at Mount Gambier the Prime Minister is reported to have said -
We propose to borrow, and must borrow heavily. We are obstructed by the Labour party. We were prevented last session by them from getting our Loan Bill through.
I -believe that were I to refer to the Journals of the Senate, I would find that the Loan Bill did get through this Chamber. There is no ground for the Prime Minister making a statement like that. The Loan Bill contained certain items which we were entitled to take exception to, and we exercised our right. We are not here simply to be the echo of the other place, but to criticise questions that arise, to. give them careful study, and, if we think that any proposals are wrong, to express our thoughts. We should fail in our duty, as well as be false to those who sent us here, did we not exercise that privilege. I desire to direct attention to the fact that the Liberal party find it necessary to borrow, and to borrow very largely, too. I believe that a Loan Bill was brought forward somewhere towards the close of the session that preceded the advent of the late Fisher Government, which they repealed, but I hope that a Labour Government will not be too late in taking the place of the present Administration - and I believe that the time is near now - and controlling the destinies of Australia again.
– And borrowing more money !
– I want my honorable friends opposite to bear in mind that when, the Fisher Government took office they inherited from the Liberal Government a deficit of £500,000.
– How much financial help did they get from the altered arrangement with the States ?
– I will come to that point a little later. My honorable friends cannot deny that that indebtedness was wiped out when the Fisher Government went out of office, and that they left a credit balance of £2,635,000, or, including the £500,000, about £3,000,000. The Minister of Defence has asked me to look at the altered condition that the new financial arrangement brought about: The Fisher Government were responsible for bringing about that altered condition. When the Braddon section of the Constitution terminated, the Fisher Government were in power, and by their financing of the Commonwealth’s affairs they were able to bring about such a. splendid credit balance. Then our honorable friends opposite came into office, and at the end of nine months, according to the Treasurer’s statement, they have made a very large amount of leeway. I believe that when the people compare the three years’ financing of the Fisher Government with the nine months’ financing of the present Ministry, they will be inclined to say, “ Save us from our friends if these are our friends,” because in the management of the finances, as well as in the management of legislative matters, Ministers show clearly a lack of legislative capacity. I intend later on to deal with administrative affairs. The Government seem to act on the supposition that they will compel the Senate on the first presentation of a certain measure to go to the country. Yet they back up the Legislative Councils in the States, that stand as a strong bulwark against the progressive legislation which comes from the Assembly. Times out of number the Legislative Councils have thrown out measure after measure; in some cases they have thrown out a measure year after year. I cannot speak as authoritatively, perhaps, as the senators from other States, but before I resume my seat I shall quote a few cases in which the Legislative Council of South Australia, which is sustained by the Liberal party, is pursuing an entirely inconsistent course with that which is being pursued here. Take the movement to broaden the franchise in South Australia. I notice that a measure was introduced to amend the representation in the Legislative Council in 1862, 1870, 1894 (twice), 1895, 1898, 1899 (twice), 1900, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1910, and I believe also in 1911 and 1912. That was sixteen times that that legislation was introduced.
– I suppose the Upper House in South Australia refused to pass it every time.
– Yes, or modified the measure in such a way as to make it of very little value. The Upper House proved to be an impregnable fortress that was not to be assailed. Yet here, the first time a Bill of the kind is introduced, there is held over our heads a threat of dissolution, and the Senateis to be coerced, notwithstanding the fact that the Ministerial party in the State Parliaments have steadily resisted the passing of measures for the broadening of the franchise. I have referred to one branch of legislation, but the subject might be pursued for a considerable time. Another matter dealt with in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is the question of the control and distribution of the Murray waters. I am very pleased to think that this question is likely soon to be considered a practical rather than an academic one. I regard the distribution of the Murray waters as a national question, and not as one upon which any of the contiguous States have a right to as sume a dominant attitude. I regret that in previous consideration of the question there has appeared some indication of a claim to proprietary rights in the water that falls from heaven. There has not been, as there should have been, a general appreciation of the fact that the waters belong as much to others to whom they are conveyed by the river as to the people on whose land the rain from heaven has fallen.
– It cannot be said to belong to them in the same way.
– I admit that it is a very big question, and that is why I am pleased to see that it is being brought within the purview of this National Parliament. I have fought the battle in the State Parliament of South Australia, and have been present when the question has been discussed. I have given the matter a considerable amount of thought, and I say that I have always regarded the distribution of the waters of the River Murray as an Australian question, and not as a New South Wales, a Victorian, or a South Australian question. The matter should be considered from the national view-point.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator must remember that a great deal of the water comes from the tributary rivers in the different States.
– Senator Gould is again suggesting the narrow view of the question. I grant the honorable senator that the water may fall in Queensland, or in New South Wales, or, by the mere veering of the wind, in Victoria; but, after all, its’ origin seems to me to indicate that we should regard it as a gift for Australia, and the object of our legislation should be to make the greatest use of it, not for New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia, but for Australia as a whole. It may be that the promise of £1,000,000 as a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government towards the cost of locking the Murray will have something to do with the settlement of the question upon a national basis. If so, I shall not regret the proposed Commonwealth expenditure.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the other States interested have been very generous to South Australia in this matter?
– I wish the injunction, “ Let the dead past bury its dead,” to operate. There are things in the past connected with the Murray waters question which I should not care to resurrect at the present time. There is in the right conservation, division, and allocation of the Murray waters the possibility of the settlement of millions of people on the banks of the Murray River. Viewing the matter in that aspect, I feel that I should be ill-advised to say anything on the subject at this juncture which might cause the slightest friction.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it would be possible to settle a few more millions of people if it were not for the consideration given to a few old tubs in South Australia ?
– No, I do not. In 1908 there was a Premiers’ Conference held, which was attended by the late Mr. Thomas Price as Premier and representative of South Australia. When he returned to the State Parliament after that conference he was jubilant because he believed that the conference had arrived at a working basis for the settlement of this question. The allocation of the Murray waters agreed upon was to be embodied in Bills to be presented simultaneously in the Parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The Bill was read a second time in the South Australian Parliament, and I well remember that Mr. Price’s speech on the second reading was one of the finest efforts I ever heard him make. His whole heart was in the question. He had several times traversed the Murray, and on one occasion from Echuca to the Murray mouth. He realized the possibilities of the conservation of the Murray waters for navigation purposes, and believed that if those waters were used for irrigation the desert in the neighbourhood of the Murray would blossom as the rose. With the enthusiasm characteristic of him he submitted the measure in the South Australian Parliament, and gave it the weight of his ardent advocacy. I felt then that we were nearing the time when we should see this vexed question settled for ever. I believe that the Bill was introduced into the New South - Wales Parliament, but 1908 passed without the Bill being carried in the State Parliaments. The result is that to-day we are up against the same proposition. Measures to give effect to the proposed agreement will have to be passed in the
State Parliaments concerned, and also in*, this Parliament, and unless the prospect of securing the subsidy of £1,000,000 from the Commonwealth- will lead to theacceptance of the agreement I fear thatwe shall still be far from the settlement of the Murray waters question. I wish, however, to emphasize my conviction that the question should be regarded as one for the consideration of the statesmanrather than the politician. There is noroom “for the interference of the peddlingparochial politician in this question at all. The man must- stand aside who is; not prepared to take the wider view and regard the question as one affecting the nation’s welfare, and who has not someappreciation of the future possibilities of the Murray waters.
– I suppose that the South Australians are statesmen, and those from the other States are politicians.
– I am sorry that. Senator Russell, who hails from Victoria,, should suggest that South Australia, ought to lay the blame for the delay in« the settlement of the question on Victoria. There has been sufficient acrimony and ill-feeling displayed in connexion with the matter, and I say that, it should be regarded from the higherplane as essentially a national question. I come now to deal with the transcontinental railway contract muddle. I donot think that it can rightly be described-, in any other way. I attribute it to the earnest desire of the present Government, to substitute the contract for the daylabour system in the construction of public works. The matter has been fullydebated in another place. I have carefully read the debates in order to discover the true position. I have madeinquiries in different places* concerningthe matter. The Honorary Minister, intrying to explain the contract as well ashe could, asserted that time was theessential element, and on that ground’ the prices submitted by Mr. Teesdale Smith were accepted. I want to say that that does not exculpate the AssistantMinister of Home Affairs, because since the present Government assumed officethere has been abundant time to anticipate the difficulties that might arise inconnexion with the construction <pf theline. It does not excuse procrastination to say that because of it the Government were forced at a particular time to docertain things. I was astonished when T heard that 4s. 6d. per cubic yard was to be paid for excavation. In the southeastern district of South Australia, which I represented in the State Parliament, very large contracts were entered into for the construction of drainage. The question of their success was largely determined by the prices paid for excavation. Some of the drains had to be cut through moderately high hills containing sandstone that was more or less hard. They had to be carried also through country containing silicated limestone, which was somewhat hard to dig out. When I saw that 4s. 6d. per cubic yard was to be paid under the Teesdale Smith contract, and knew that very much harder material had been excavated, for less in South Australia, I could not help feeling that some one had blundered. I have been confirmed in that belief. I have read carefully the reports submitted to the Minister, and which he brought before honorable members in another place, with reference to the character of the country in which the contract was carried out. I find that some of it is spoken of as consisting of “ silicated sandstone.” This is the first time I have ever heard of sandstone being described in that way. I have read many books dealing with the earth, and the stones that are in the earth, and silicated sandstone is, I think, such a novelty that we should procure a specimen of it for the museum. Those who have even an elementry knowledge of geology will be puzzled to understand what kind of stone this is. To speak of a “ silicated sandstone “ is much the same as to speak of a white- washed limestone. It is said further in the report that there is some stiff white clay in the section. I have had an opportunity of seeing some of the specimens brought from there. One of these consisted of kaolin. That, as honorable senators know, is the stiff white clay, to which reference is made in the report. Now, kaolin, especially when it is near the surface, is not difficult to excavate, and 4s. 6d. per cubic yard would be an enormous price to pay for that work. The report also points to the presence of sandstone, which, I imagine, very much resembles the sandstone which we have in the south-east of South Australia, where it is found in fragmentary layers. The excavation of this material would present no great difficulty to the contractor. The other specimen which I saw was a limestone, and a very chalky limestone at that. We are thus brought face to face with the fact that a great blunder has been made. Mr. Teesdale Smith urged as a reason why his offer should be accepted that he had the necessary plant on country adjacent to the section which would be covered by his contract. I believe that he had been engaged in constructing a railway from Minippa Hill to Decres Bay. That being so, he would either have to convey his plant by water to Port Augusta, a distance of about 400 miles, or by train to Minippa Hill, and thence, via Yeelana, to Port Lincoln, a further distance of 200 miles. In either case, it would have to traverse about 400 miles. The 4s. 6d. per cubic yard cannot, therefore, have been paid him for the purpose of recouping him on account of his proximity to the section that is covered by his contract. The Government evidently had’ no real knowledge of the geography of the place. I find that Mr. Teesdale Smith himself had something to say in regard to the Minippa Hill to Decres Bay railway, because, in a letter which is printed as an appendix to the minutes of evidence taken in regard to that railway in 1911, he writes -
I will undertake to construct a line of railway on practically the same route as surveyed. No curve to be less than seven chains radius. The Government to supply at start of line all rails, sleepers, crossings, timbers, and all other material connected with permanent- way; also rolling-stock, and a water supply at Yeelana.
Payment for construction of the whole line - a length of 107 miles - to be in twelve monthly payments of £4,250 each.
It will be seen, therefore, that he offered to construct this line in its entirety, a distance of 107 miles, for twelve monthly payments of £4,250 each, or, approximately, £50,000, whereas, according to the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, he is to be paid £41,000 for constructing only the earthworks on the transcontinental line for a distance of 14 miles.
– And in the former case he had to put in culverts, supply material, and everything that is required.
– Yes. Of course it, may be argued that the two places are 400 miles apart. But anybody who has a knowledge of that country will know that its character does not differ materially. From the specimens of rock I have seen, I should say that it is easier to excavate material on the transcontinental railway beyond Port Augusta, than it was to excavate it on the Minippa Hill to Yeelana line. It will be noted by honorable senators that Mr. Smith’s contract represented approximately £3,000 per mile for the construction of earthworks only. Now, I may be pardoned for pointing out that on the Kapunda to Morgan line the permanent way cost £2,466 per mile; from Roseworthy to Tarlee the cost was £2,447 per mile; from Tarlee to the Burra it was £2,170 per mile; from the Burra to Hallett it was £2,090 per mile; from Hallett to Terowie it was £3,129 per mile; and from Nairne to the Victorian border it was £2,509 per mile. In other words, on the line from Nairne to the Victorian border the permanent way cost nearly £500 per mile less than Mr. Smith received for constructing earthworks only on the transcontinental railway. Now, anybody who has travelled on the Nairne line must know that some of the most costly cuttings in South Australia are to be found between Nairne and Murray Bridge. What can have been the matter with any Minister who would entertain Mr. Teesdale Smith’s proposition for a moment? The veriest novice in public works construction would at once have realized that his offer should have been scouted in the strongestpossible language. Another line which might fairly be placed alongside the route traversed by Mr. Teesdale Smith is that from Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo. The latter line, it must be recollected, has a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. Yet it was constructed for about £973 per mile. The estimated cost of this line, including sleepers, rails, embankments, sidings, and stations, was £1,800 per mile, but, as a matter of fact, engines - were placed upon it for £1,700 per mile, notwithstanding that a good many heavy cuttings were experienced on the route. And yet this Government, that came in to do clean work, to stop extravagance, and to be the admiration of all Governments throughout the world, actually lets a contract for the mere shifting of earth from one place to another, without the putting in of culverts or any work of that sort, for the magnificent sum of about £3,000 a- mile. What can we think of them but that they have no knowledge of what they are doing, and prove themselves by their own actions thoroughly unfit? to occupy their present positions? By continually pushing forward these two so-called test measures, with the avowed object of crippling the power of the Senate, they have been false to all the traditions of the Liberal party in times past with regard to Upper Chambers. Their party have always held that an Upper Chamber should be impregnable and altogether beyond, the influence of the people to mould or control it. The records show that they have resisted again and again attempts in that direction, and yet the Government present a Bill by means of which they ask us to bow to the will of the “ magnificent” majority that they have in the other House’! Their plan, if it succeeds, will accomplish far more; it will destroy the usefulness of the Senate as a Chamber of review and as a check on hasty legislation. It will even destroy the provision for equal representation, which the States themselves agreed upon for the protection of the smaller States. We have only to look into the Treasury accounts to see what a drift has taken place since this Government took office. All these things must show the people that the Government have deservedly lost the confidence of all men who believe in true and straightforward legislation and administration. The whole business presents such a tangle and bungle that the sooner the people replace the present Government with one that will carry on the business of the country on true lines, the better. The statement has been made that Mr. Teesdale Smith was receiving for his contract on the transcontinental line the same price, 4s. 6d. per yard, as he was receiving under a contract from the South Australian Government. I venture to say that- that statement was made without knowledge. Mr. Smith submitted a contract to the South Australian Government for about 70 miles of the Minippa Hill to Decres Bay railway line. Thirty miles of it from the end of his present contract to the place that has been selected for the harbor, has yet to be advertised for, and tenders have yet to be called for it, but he did not submit a price per yard, either for excavation or for filling. It was a price for the whole of the work.
– Then Mr. Kelly must have made a mistake.
– The statement was made without knowledge. My information comes direct from the office in Adelaide.
– Mr. Kelly said that Mr. Moncrieff sent the Home Affairs Department a memorandum.
– At any rate, the statement was made that Mr. Smith was getting the same price per yard from the Commonwealth as from the South Australian Government, but South Australia does not, to my knowledge, let her railways or cuttings at so much per yard. Mr. Smith, in calculating the amount, may have worked it out on those lines, and he might show that there are so many yards at 4s. 6d. per yard. I am not prepared to say that ho did not, but the usual plan of the South Australian Government is to call for tenders for certain work to be done, the Government to supply sleepers, rails, and other necessary material, and the contractors to do the earthworks, the laying down of the sleepers, the fixing of the rails, the construction of the buildings, and other things necessary; but not to do the work at so much per yard or by piecework in the way suggested at all. What can we think of them?
– So long a time has elapsed since the Governor-General’s Speech was delivered that there has actually been a change in the Governor-Generalship in the meantime. We all know that it is only a political fiction tocall this document the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, the Government of the day always being responsible for the sentiments contained in it; but the extraordinary position to which I have just alluded justifies the contention which I have previously advanced in this Chamber that we should go on with the consideration of the Speech at the same time as it is being considered in another place. There can be no proper recognition of the true utility of this Chamber so long as in this and many other similar matters we play second fiddle to another place. If it was of any real importance, we should easily have been able to deal with this matter while it was fresh in our minds, instead of allowing it to stand over actually long enough to allow a change in the Governor-Generalship to take place. It is just as though in the Old Country the late Bang Edward had delivered a Speech and had passed away before the British Parliament had time to consider it.
– The axiom is “ The King never dies.”
– The honorable senator is only too pleased to trot out that legal fiction; but the individual who holds the position and draws the screw, dies, or, in the case of the Governor-General, departs from our shores. What has happened in this case emphasizes the fact that we are not all of us up to date in our methods. I see no reason why this Chamber should be a feeble imitation of the obsolete and moribund Upper Houses of the States. If any Chamber differs more widely in its constitution, and its whole composition, from the State Upper Houses than the Senate does, I should like to hear of it. Whatever powers the State Legislative Councils hold, the people generally believe that they have usurped them. They regard those powers, not as a right, but as a special privilege held by a specially privileged class, and those bodies as surrounded by so many safeguards, and entrenched so strongly, that it takes long and weary years of political agitation and reform work before their unjust privileges can be curtailed and their alleged rights abolished. When the Senate was deliberately made a part of the Parliament, it was not meant to be, in any way, a mere replica of the Upper Houses of the various States. However content those bodies may be to drift along from month to month and year to year in their troglodyte and fossilized fashion, it is the duty of the Senate to show that it is a useful part of the Commonwealth Parliament; and it should be more dignified than to allow things to drift along, so to speak, from generation to generation. I trust that whatever precedents we have followed hitherto, we shall in the future insist on going on with our business, irrespective of any amendments or motions moved in another place.
– Why take notice of changes of Government either? Why not go right on?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that we can pass legislation in this Chamber to whatever stage may be necessary, and that the Government - whether the one in power when that legislation was originated, or their successor - can proceed with it afterwards if they think fit. One very striking example is the Navigation Bill, which was before this Chamber while several Administrations were in power, and eventually became law, although, unhappily, it has not yet been proclaimed. Whether the discussion of the Address-in-Reply serves any useful purpose or not, the sooner it is concluded the sooner it makes way for business of more utility. I shall not attempt to follow Senator Senior through the document termed, by courtesy, the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which contains nothing but platitudes, but shall touch on one matter which was very ably dealt with by Senator Pearce in discussing the proposals which the Government hope will lead up to a double dissolution. No one could add anything to the force and lucidity of Senator Pearce’s arguments ; but the matter to which I desire to call attention has a direct bearing on the line of argument which he followed. He very forcibly pointed out that the deadlock provisions were obviously intended mainly to meet any financial disagreements between the two Chambers; but it is clear that the wording of the section permits of any other matter being brought to such a stage as would bring about the conditions leading up to a double dissolution. To emphasize Senator Pearce’s arguments, the presence on our business-paper of proposals to submit certain matters to the people by referendum shows clearly that, by section 125 of the Constitution, constitutional difficulties can be settled in an entirely different way. If a financial deadlock existed between the two Houses, possibly no other way could be found out of the difficulty than a double dissolution. But if there are constitutional difficulties between the two Houses, then either House can pass measures containing proposals to alter the Constitution over the head of the other House, and against its wishes. That emphasizes Senator Pearce’s contention that the special deadlock provisions were obviously intended to prevent the business of the country being hung up through differences of opinion on financial matters between the two Chambers. The Prime Minister has, in various parts of the States, claimed that the House ‘ of Representatives expresses the latest political opinion of the people who elected it ; whereas half of the Senate, having been elected three years previously, is, as it were, behind the times, and does not, therefore, represent the present-day political views of the public. By that argument he tries to make the people believe that the majority which the Labour party hold- in the Senate is an out-of-date majority, obtained in 1910. He evidently wishes every one to believe that, but for this . fact, the so-called Liberal party would be in a majority in both Houses. That, of course, is the kind of untruth which is based upon the suppression of all the facts - the utterance of only so much as will suit his own case - and rightly it has been stigmatized as the most cowardly and wilful form of lying to suppress that portion of the truth which will not cover your own case. That has been done over and over again throughout the Commonwealth, the implication being that the Senate is out of touch with the people. But, as honorable * senators know, if those who were elected to the Senate in 1910 were entirely excluded from consideration, the Labour party would still have a majority of four over the number representing the Government side. Consequently, the most up-to-date political expression of the people’s will has its representation in this Chamber much more powerfully on our side than it has on behalf of the Government in the other Chamber. When we are asked to consider and adopt this Address-in-Reply, I wish to point out that in another place an amendment was moved, and that it was given as a sufficient reason why the Senate should do nothing for some three weeks. While the amendment over which we had no control was held to be sufficient to justify us in knocking off work, we are coolly asked to take no notice of the opinions of our fellow-men in another place, but to accept this Address-in-Reply. Whatever other members of my party may feel on the matter, I certainly feel bitterly opposed to the idea of practically indorsing the Government’s programme by adopting the Address-in-Reply. Obviously, the fact that the Labour party have seen fit to take action in another place - ‘whether successfully or not is nothing to the point - should justify us in taking similar action here, even though the Senate may or may not unmake a Government. At any rate, we should show our absolute disapproval, both of the Government and of their alleged policy, by refusing to adopt the AddressinReply..
– The adoption of the Address-in-Reply does not indorse the policy.
– You have your rights, you know.
– I know that, and I am going to use as many of them as I can. The adoption of the Address-in-Reply is practically, in effect, a general indorsement. It does not indorse the policy in detail. We know that an amendment, if carried, is a clear refusal to indorse the policy of the Government, and I contend that in the Senate, where we have a majority, we should refuse to give even verbal sanction to the skeleton of a programme which is supposed to be embodied in the opening Speech. We are following obsolete methods in immediately swallowing anything that the Government like to submit, and I, for ohe, totally dissent from the practice. Whether we can or cannot make or unmake a Government, I contend that the fact that the Address-in-Reply is presented here and debated for a lengthy period should justify us in rejecting it, or adding something to it. However, the party to which I belong, like other political parties, I suppose, are more in the habit of following accustomed grooves than making innovations. I think it is time that the Senate did make a few innovations, and, at any rate,- take its own work in hand, irrespective of what is going on somewhere else. The question which has been exercising the minds of the public, and particularly the politicians, of late has been that of the Teesdale Smith contract on the transcontinental railway. As some honorable senators know, Senator Gardiner and myself took the trouble to* proceed to where the work is situated, and walk from end to end of the contract.
We kept precisely on the line of work ; we followed the survey pegs, and consequently we saw, as far as one could by simply walking over it, all that there was to be seen. The Minister has thought fit, in an attempt to justify the letting of this contract, amongst other excuses, to call for a return of the cost of constructing a railroad from the town of Queanbeyan to Canberra, and to make a comparison between the cost of the two works in order to show that when we take into account the disadvantages of the transcontinental line the work on that line is being constructed comparatively cheaply. I do not go much on that sort of comparison, because it is almost impossible to find anywhere two railways which can clearly be compared. One must know in detail the difference in the country, and in every other respect, in order to make a fair comparison.
– There is very little difference in the goldfields country of Western Australia.
– Perhaps not, but even a very little difference may make a considerable relative difference in the cost if the length under review is a short one. My honorable friend will know that while a cutting here and a cutting there may make a very little difference in a line extending over hundreds of miles, yet in the case of a short line, such as the one from Queanbeyan to Canberra, with sidings in less than seven miles, a cutting more or less in that length might make a considerable difference. In order to show honorable senators that Senator Gardiner and myself took the utmost pains to secure all the information we could, we propose to quote the notes that we respectively made from point to point. I may mention that neither of us is responsible for the wording which the other employed. We went over the contract from one end to the other. At every half-mile bench mark we stopped and made notes in our pocket books of what we had seen during the preceding half mile until we got to the end of the contract. We took our time, too. We spent the afternoon of Saturday, 25th April, and the following Sunday and Monday, in going over the work and returning. I ought to mention that after leaving Port Augusta, for a distance of between 74 and 75 miles, the work had been tentatively completed and the rails laid, and trains were running, and that portion of the work had been done by the direct employment of day labour by the Commonwealth. From the 74^-mile peg to the 91$-mile peg some few miles of earthworks had been formed and the remainder was unformed. The track laying had been extended another couple of miles when we returned, and therefore at the time, for a distance of 76 miles and some chains, the rails had been laid. The work was not permanently finished, because several deviations had to be made in the first construction of the work in order to permit of trains crossing gullies which afterwards had to be bridged or provided with culverts. The Teesdale Smith contract, which is generally described in the papers as commencing at the 92-mile peg really commenced at the 91-mile peg. These are the notes I made -
After going to the rail head, about 74) miles from Port Augusta, in the train, on Saturday, 25th April, 1914, .we walked to the 91)-mile post, over a long stretch of sandy country, about 4 miles of which was formed. The first contract cutting was entirely of sand, about 5 feet deep. Could all be ploughed and scooped. The second cutting on the further side of Lake Windabout was of considerable size, the spoil forming a- big embankment some 300 yards long and about 20 feet deep in the centre. This cutting was composed of loose stones and soil for the top 2 or 3 feet and hard clay with some iron sandstone in veins running through one end. The third cutting was of a slaty rock or gravel, very loose, except the last foot.
The two next cuttings were long and shallow, apparently a mixture of hard river-bed gravel and soft loose sand, with some 200 yards formation between them. This takes the work to the 95-mile bench mark. The next half mile consists of two gravelly cuttings and a long bank formed with plough and scoop from similar gravelly material on either side, and some nearly level formation. From 93) to 94 miles shallow cuttings of a few inches to a foot depth. Loose, soft soil. A few chains of side drains on either side of a wire fence, which here intersects the line. From 94 to 94) miles nearly level formation formed by plough and scoop. Side drain on upper side ploughed and shovelled out 94) to 95) miles. Some very shallow cuttings of soft earth and some running to 6 feet in depth. The bigger cuttings somewhat stony, and one at Miller’s Camp left unfinished.
At the 95)-mile peg a 4-foot embankment and long cutting also unfinished. Soft ploughable material of white gritty clay, resembling kaolin. No stones. Some surface formation. At the 96-mile post there is a big cutting, variously estimated at from 23,000 to 35,000 yards. About 20 feet deep, consisting for the upper 5 or 6 feet of red soil mixed with hard water-worn boulders. The lower 15 feet or bo appeared to be a compact mass of white gypsum, resembling dry pipeclay, requiring some shooting, but easily dislodged in large masses, which crumble readily, and, being light, is very easy to load and cart. This cutting and the embankment formed from the spoil are both unfinished. The next cutting, also unfinished, is much the same on top, but several feet below consist of a gritty compact clay, resembling kaolin, and heavier than the material in the previous cutting, but much less of it.
At this point I wish to show honorable senators some of the stuff of which we have heard so much. We were not content with walking, but carried a load back with us. Here is a specimen of the stuff which was in several of the cuttings, but notably in a large cutting next to the one I have been alluding to. It can, as any one can see, be easily broken and powdered. In the large cutting, which I have just commented upon, the stuff for about 15 feet of the depth was like chalk. I carried a large lump of it in my hand, and pieces crumbled off it before I reached the camp. I have some of it here, and, as honorable senators can see, there is no solidity about it. It is possible that in jumping a hole with a drill the stuff might prove to be a little sticky, but there should be no great difficulty in. shooting such stuff as that. I say so, and I have shot a bit, from Chinamen to rock. Honorable senators will . see that some of the stones, which I produce, are hard, but they are to be found only on the surface.. There is some ironstone also, a specimen of which I produce. These stones are lying on the surface so thickly that one cannot step between them, yet, when the weight of the foot has rested on them for awhile, they sink into the soft soil beneath. At a place where stones similar to these covered the surface, a ploughman, ploughing with a six-horse team, told me that he was ploughing to a depth of 18 inches.
– Did the honorable senator see that himself ?
– I saw the plough there drawn by six horses, and the ploughman, in reply to a question as to what depth he was ploughing, said, “ About 18 inches.”
– Can the honorable senator vouch for the truth of that statement ?
– I cannot say that I put the rule on it, but one could see, from the way the soil was heaped up by the plough, that he was ploughing to a considerable depth. Prior to meeting him we came across another ploughman, who said that he was ploughing to a depth of 9 inches, but he was using a much lighter plough, that was not made for that kind of work. Talking to the contractor himself later, he told me that he had to get a heavier plough, because the lighter one could not go the depth he required. It was very friable dry soil, but one could not believe from the surface appearance that it would be possible to plough at all in that ground.
– The honorable senator knows a little about ploughing, and he knows that if a plough is 18 inches in the ground it will take a mighty good team of six horses to shift it. ‘
– They were good horses, but the soil was loose. It was not soil as ordinarily understood; it was simply dust. The soil was so destitute of moisture, and so soft, that Senator Gardiner and myself, when travelling beyond the formation on one or two occasions, pulled stones away and burrowed a little into the ground with our fingers to discover if there was any underground moisture to account for the soil being so soft and springy. As a matter of fact, it was the absence of moisture which accounted for it. The soil was so dry that it sunk under pressure like powder. The great number of stones on the surface was plainly due to the fact that in the long summer months in that arid region the soil gets blown away, and so the stones are exposed. We were surprised .at the good quality of the soil and the comparatively few stones to be found at a little depth from the surface. This stuff, which is described as like kaolin, is to be found in several of the cuttings to a depth of 5 or 6 feet, and can be shot out in tremendous masses. A shot was fired on the Monday night of 26th or 27th April, at about knock-off time - 5 o’clock - and when we went down to the cutting afterwards we found that there must have been thousands of tons of stuff shifted. Where we stood on the higher level there were huge cracks noticeable, showing that, in addition to what had been thrown over, the shot had shaken the stuff for many yards back. After the loose stone in front had been carted away, I could have taken a crow-bar and thrown down hundreds of tons by a mere push.
– The stuff appears to me to be so soft that it would be ridiculous to try a shot in it.
– They did .shoot it.
– Does the honorable senator know whether powder or dynamite was used ?
– I could not say, but I think powder was used. To continue my notes -
At 97$ miles long cutting under process of excavation with ploughs and scoops. Counted fifteen at work. Soil red for 4 or 5 feet, then white beneath, mixed with stones throughout, some fairly big, but not difficult to plough.
Honorable senators are, no doubt, aware that if there were any huge boulders in the cuttings, the stuff could not be ploughed even with the heaviest contractor’s plough: We saw fifteen scoops at work, and as they could lift the stones, it was clear that they were not bedded very firmly in the ground.
Surface formation from here to 98J, and mostly so to the 102-mile post, up to which point there is a gradual rise to the tableland. Here we saw land which, though thickly strewn with surface stones, was being ploughed with six-horse teams to a depth of 18 inches.
That was the statement of the driver of the’ team -
From this point the line descended somewhat. Some of the formation was done by plough and wheelbarrow, with a few pickmen in the stonier places. Near the 103-mile post ploughing was proceeding in a cutting estimated at some 8,000 or 9,000 yards. The soil, though stony, was very loose, and the furrow cut was about 18 inches deep. Occasional boulders had to be removed out of the way of the plough, but none were too big for one man to roll out of the way.
Occasionally there would be a flat boulder, but, by digging around it, it could be easily removed, and we saw none that could not be removed by one man or a couple of men once it was burrowed out.
From 103$ to 106 miles nothing had been done. We followed the survey line to the latter mile post, which is the end of the contract. The country consisted of low ridges and shallow gullies between them, the latter were composed of silt deposits from the higher land. The ridges were thickly strewn with ‘stones, some of them larger than we had previously walked over, and all of them more conspicuously water worn than at the first end of the contract. The country traversed was generally covered with saltbush and similar herbage, with thin lines of mulga scrub following the water-courses. At the further end of the contract a few rabbits were seen, and deserted burrows and warrens were very numerous.
I point out again that rabbits cannot burrow in really rocky country. The scarcity of the rabbits was due to the drought. There were a- few live rabbits about, but most of them had been starved out by the drought, and the fact that there were huge warrens to be seen is a proof that the country was pretty easily burrowed.
The underlying soil was so soft that walking over the stony surface depressed the stones at almost every step.
In regard to the plant, Mr. Teesdale Smith has made a public statement, and he also spoke of it to me on the train. He has stated that he had a very large and costly plant there. It has been stated by the Minister that the plant was handy to the job, but that statement has been effectively disposed of by Senator Senior, who has pointed out that hundreds of miles intervened between the job and the one upon which Mr. Smith was previously engaged on the Peninsula. Honorable senators have heard a good deal about the camels, and it is true that the contractor had a number of camels. I do not blame Mr. Smith, as a smart business man, for doing what he did, but, as a matter of fact, the camels were on the spot engaged by private enterprise in carting water for the Government, and Mr. Teesdale Smith bought them over the head of the Government.
– And this is a businesslike Government.
– It was not very businesslike to permit Mr. Smith to do so. It is true that near Bellamy’s Wells there is 5 miles of piping to carry water to Lake Windabout. I have no doubt that the Government, who have been so kind to Mr. Smith, will take the pipes off his hands when he is done with them.
– Perhaps they will take the camels off his hands, too.
– Very possibly. We have heard a great deal about the difficulties of providing water in connexion with this contract, and it must be admitted that in country where there is a very low rainfall, such difficulties have to be overcome. But they were no greater than those that many a settler in the back-blocks have to overcome. I admit that the quantity of water required in connexion with the contract was much greater than would be required by a settler, but the means at hand for supplying it were also much greater. When we consider that an individual selector has often to carry water in a cask for miles, there is nothing very remarkable from this point of view about the work in which Mr. Teesdale Smith was engaged. It is only right that something should be added to the cost of work carried out in such a district, because of the difficulty of supplying water. The cost of conveying the water, whatever it may be, must be added to what would be a fair price in a more habitable country, but it is very easy to exaggerate what the cost of supplying water in such country would be. Camels are not nearly so costly to keep as are other animals, so far as the supply of water is concerned. If horses are used to cart water they consume a considerable quantity of their own load whilst taking it to its destination. Camels can go a long day’s journey with water to-day, and to-morrow go back to the source of supply for a drink. A drinkat the source of supply is sufficient to take them a day’s journey and back again. It is not necessary, therefore, where camels are employed, to carryso much water for consumption by the animals in the course of transit as where other animals are employed for the purpose. I admit the statements that have been made as to the horses, ploughs, and scoops provided, but the plant was not anything like so extensive as would be required if bridges, viaducts, and heavy work of that kind had to be carried out. We saw a number of scoops, a plough or two, drays, wheelbarrows, picks, and shovels, but there would not have been any great difficulty in assembling such a plant from Adelaide in a couple of days. I should imagine that it would have been much cheaper to get the plant from Adelaide than to bring it from the Peninsula, where Mr. Teesdale Smith had his contract with the State Government, because the line on the Peninsula is not connected with the rest of the South Australian railway system.
– Is Mr. Teesdale Smith every time he is given a contract to be allowed to add the cost of his camels and plant to the price of his contract)
– I was going to remark on that aspect of the matter. In discussing the subject with me on the train Mr. Teesdale Smith took up the extraordinary position that he was entitled to put the total cost of the plant against his contract. I said to him, “ Are you going to give it away when the contract is finished?” His reply was, “No; but when the work is complete I do not know what I am going to sell it for, and, as a business proposition, I must set its cost against the price payable under the contract.” Now either he is not right, in which case he will derive a large profit from the contract, or he is right, in which case - seeing it will be necessary forhim to purchase a fresh plant every time he gets a new contract- we cannot hope to get contract work done at a reasonable cost to the public. If a contractor has to purchase new plant every time that’ he gets a fresh contract, the public will be burdened unnecessarily.
– The Government are not concerned with the public, but only with the interests of their political friends.
– I wish now to say one or two words in regard to the Queanbeyan to Canberra line. Having been placed in a hole, Ministers have trotted out all sorts of excuses to justify their action in entering into this contract with Mr. Teesdale Smith. I have here some more samples of rock which Senator Gardiner and myself picked up on Saturday last in cuttings which have been made on the Queanbeyan to Canberra line. I ask any honorable senator to compare these specimens with the specimens obtained from cuttings in that portion of South Australia which is covered by the Teesdale Smith contract. Why, I could chew the latter up more easily than I could break the former.
– On the Queanbeyan to Canberra line the stone encountered is principally bluestone, is it not?
– I was totally unable to break it with the aid of another boulder. It was only the superhuman efforts of Senator Gardiner that succeeded in breaking the specimens that we encountered there. On the Queanbeyan to Canberra line there are several cuttings which were largely composed of this very hard stone, the name of which I do not know, as I am not a geologist. I repeat that the hardest stuff we saw, other than surface stones, in the cuttings traversed on the Teesdale Smith contract it would be easier to chew than it would be to break the rock encountered on the other line with a napping hammer. I might go further, and point out that there is no fairness in the comparison which has been instituted between the actual cost of the Teesdale Smith contract and the cost of constructing the Queanbeyan to Canberra line. Our opponents base their calculations on the actual cost of Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract, and add to it, as nearly as they can, what it will cost to finish the line. But I claim that they cannot very well do that. In the first place, they ask us to take their estimates for granted. They say that so many thousand cubic yards require to be excavated for cuttings, so many thousand cubic yards for forming embankments, and so many chains for surface formation. Now the surface formation is said to be 297 chains, and the cost of this is set down at 45s. per chain. That works out at £668 5s. But in the printed papers it is put down at £645 15s. ; and a little later down we are informed that the cost is approximate only. It is evident, therefore, that the whole of the figures are merely approximate. Then again, the Queanbeyan to
Canberra line is intersected by numerous crossings. In one case I noticed a road which was many feet below the level of the railway. Consequently that road had to be formed up to make an approach to the line. Then there were tubular gates and wire-netting in evidence, and in other places overhead bridges. When all these extras are added, they may easily make the cost of that line very high indeed. But that circumstance merely goes to show that it is impossible to compare .things which are totally unlike. It must be remembered, too, that a rainfall of 24 inches in the vicinity of Queanbeyan will require many more water-ways to carry off the flow than will be required in a district where the rainfall is only 6 or 7 inches annually. So far as I am concerned, I wish to make it plain that I do not regard the item of cost as the most important consideration in undertakings of this character. My chief objection is that the Government let the Teesdale Smith contract without calling for competitive tenders. The question of price, however, has been dragged in by Ministers themselves. They say that the cost of Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract will not exceed the price paid for similar work in South Australia, and that, in any case, they could not have carried through this particular work with the aid of day labour. Captain Saunders is reported as having approved of this work being carried out by contract; but reference to the official file of papers will show that he did so only after the ex-Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Deane, had refused to procure additional plant to enable Commonwealth employes to undertake the work. I would specially direct attention to the fact that the 297 chains of surface formation, for which 45s. per chain is to be paid, represent a total outlay of £668 5s. Deducting this amount from the total contract price, it will be seen that £41,000 will be the cost of less than 11 miles of earthworks, seeing that 297 chains are equal to a little more than 3£ miles. Consequently, £3,700 per mile is to be paid for surface formation only. This formation comprises only cuttings and embankments, with here and there a few chains of side drains, which are very shallow and have not been very artistically excavated. The contractor has dug them out in the rough, they have been ploughed and shovelled, and if a boulder has been encountered, he has gone round it. All culverts have to be constructed by the Commonwealth. It will be seen, therefore, that the contractor’s work was entirely confined to formation work. When we consider that the line between Queanbeyan and Canberra has been ballasted, and when we have regard to the cost of sleepers, rails, culverts, gates, and overhead bridges, it becomes manifest that we cannot compare the cost of constructing that railway with the cost of building the transcontinental line over the Teesdale Smith section of its route. I admit that Mr. Teesdale Smith has had to traverse more inaccessible country, in which the difficulty of carting water would be greater. We have been told that it was necessary to construct the earthworks over this heavy country by contract, in order that the operations of the plate-laying gang should not be delayed. But Senator Gardiner and myself found, on our return journey, that from the 76½-mile peg to the 91½-mile peg, the ground along the route of the line had not even been cleared. It is true that the clearing would be only a small item, seeing that the country was covered almost entirely with mulga scrub; but at the time the contract with Mr. Teesdale Smith was let, the work was not as far advanced as it was when . we were there. At the time that contract was entered into, there must have been 20 or 30 miles to be traversed before the plate-laying gang would reach the section covered by Mr. Smith’s contract. Even if we concede that the work was heavier in the sense of containing more cuttings and embankments than what the Commonwealth had already done by day labour, it seems to me that if gangs had been sent on ahead it would have been just as easy for the Commonwealth to supply them with water and provisions as it wouldhave been for Mr. Teesdale Smith to do so. Therefore, the argument with regard to urgency falls to the ground, because there are still several miles of a gap between the head of the rails and the commencement of the Teesdale Smith contract. We also find that a very large contract has been let for surveying work. I am not finding fault with the Government for not calling for tenders in that case, because obviously it is, perhaps, not the best thing to do to call for tenders for professional work of that kind; but certainly the Chief Go vernment Surveyor had already completed the survey many miles ahead of the work, and there is no prospect or hope of the work catching up to what has already been surveyed for the next twelve months, if not two years.
– Then, why the urgency ?
– That is what everybody wants to know.
– How many surveyors are there in the Port Augusta office?
– I am not able to say; but I was informed by people who had been up to the country beyond Tarcoola that the Chief Government Surveyor had been doing splendid work there; that he had a full equipment for going on with the work with the utmost speed, a team of camels, water canteens, as they are termed, for the camels to take the water vat with, and tanks in which it. could be stored. The fact that the survey contract commences at the 322-mile post, and goes to the 432-mile post, shows the distance that there is between the end of the rail head and the point at which the contract commences. That is to say, even including Mr. Smith’s contract when it is finished, the rails will still be only 106 miles from Port Augusta; whereas, the surveying contract commences at 322 miles from Port Augusta, showing that there are already over 200 miles of survey completed beyond the point where Mr. Smith’s contract ends. How, then, can it be claimed that there is any urgency for taking the work on further to justify the letting of it by contract?
– There are six surveyors in the Port Augusta office, or very nearly enough to survey the whole line from both ends.
– That reminds me that we hear constant controversy as to whether the contract or the day-labour system is the better, and we generally find that the arguments against day labour are answered by the statement that, given good supervision, the direct employment of day labour is as effective as, and much cheaper than, the contract system. In any case, where the day-labour system fails, the difficulty is generally attributed to lax supervision; but in some cases where the day-labour system has not been nearly as effective as it might be, it has not been through lack of supervision over the men, but because the jobs were overloaded with a large number of officials who did no useful work at all.
– The transcontinental railway is very much overmanned by officials.
– I should be surprised if it was not. It is not the workman who is not doing his fair share. I have seen many Government contracts where the gangers employed by the Government would keep the men up to the mark quite as much as contractors’ gangers would; but in cases where, perhaps, the unemployed have been put on to do some temporary make-shift work with an unemployed ganger over them it may have happened that owing to bad supervision the work has cost a great deal of” money. In ordinary circumstances, however, it is the day labourer who has to carry on his back the sins of the management, which frequently occupies the time of halfadozen subordinate officers at high salaries running about doing work that could be better done by one man. The red tape, the constant correspondence, and so on, and not any dereliction of duty on the part of the day labourer himself, are really responsible for the added cost. Of course I am not attempting to paint the day labourer as a saint by any means, and no doubt good supervision is required to get fair value for the wages paid from any body of men. But the fault is not in the immediate supervision over the workmen so much as in the constant cost involved in keeping numbers of officials, who frequently get in each other’s road instead of expediting the work. From what I have heard, the cost of the construction of the line by the Commonwealth has been largely added to through these causes. I should like to point out the insanitary conditions that prevail on the part of the line that has been under construction by the Commonwealth itself. I noticed at the South Australian end that there was an entire lack of sanitary conveniences. I have personally brought this matter before Mr. Bell, the EngineerinChief, who I believe will adopt some of the more up-to-date methods in operation in the other States, and thus bring about reforms. But the matter certainly requires to be brought under the notice of Parliament. In the first big enterprise in the way of public works that the Commonwealth has undertaken it should have set an example as a model employer, but when Senator Gardiner and myself were there we found, although it was well on in April, that there were millions of flies about. The place was most disagreeable to live and work in on that account, and no provision was made by which food could be kept from the flies. No provision was made for a sanitary service, and consequently in the summer months it would be a wonder if the camps did not become hot-beds of typhoid. There was no excuse for the neglect so strongly marked in that case. In New South Wales, since the advent of the Labour Government, whatever sins may be attributed to it by such a critic as Senator Oakes, infinitely more civilized conditions have been adopted than ever existed under any previous Administration. The complete sanitation of the camps is seen to, a portable school is provided so that the wives and families of the navvies can accompany them, and even a portable school of arts is furnished in a camp of any dimensions. The medical supervision is also of the best. Many of these conditions might with advantage be copied by the Commonwealth in the construction of the great highway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie.
– Sir John Forrest at the head of the line in February of this year said that the Government should be a model employer.
– Yes, but pious aspirations of that kind are of no use if the Government make no attempt to give effect to them. With regard to the correspondence that passed between Mr. Kelly, the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, or Mr. Deane, and Mr. Timms, I do not question the truthfulness of Mr. Deane’s statement that he absolutely forgot the receipt of Mr. Timms’ letter. Any man may have a treacherous memory and forget things, and at times even the incredible or impossible seems to happen. I. can quite believe that if upset or bothered over other matters, a man might entirely forget an affair of that kind, and I would not regard a man as incompetent or a blunderer on that account, when he had an honorable career behind him. But my contention is that the Government shouldnever have started to shelter themselves behind the alleged mistakes of their officials. We find this going on right down the line. The real Minister of Home Affairs is the Prime Minister, Mr. Cook. He does not shoulder an atom of responsibility. He goes about the country making all sorts of lame excuses, but he shoves the responsibility on to Mr. Kelly, who in turn pushes it on to Mr. Deane. Mr. Deane divides it up between Captain Saunders and Mr. Hobler. I do not know if it goes any further, but this all shows the miserable shifts to which the Government were reduced when it could npt handle its work better than it did. It is only another case of pride going before a fall. The Prime Minister and Mr. Kelly were loud in their assertions throughout the recent campaign that the Labour Government had messed up their undertakings, and had shown an utter want of business capacity, and that if only they had the reins of government they would show us how they would put everything right; but these people, so proud of their imaginary abilities, come a cropper the very first time they try to do anything. The statements made by Mr. Kelly are miserable evasions and attempts to shelter himself behind his officers, and are not worthy of a man holding the responsible position to which he aspires, and as to which, of course, he is now only the lieutenant of the Prime Minister. The latter is the man upon whom we should, first and foremost, fasten the responsibility. If the work of a Department is more than one man can manage, then clearly he should have assistance, but in a matter where the Commonwealth had for the first time a large public work under course of construction, and the Ministry was going to depart from the settled policy of its predecessors, the Prime Minister, as the holder of the portfolio of Minister of Home Affairs, should have applied himself to the conditions applying to the contract right from the opening of negotiations to the acceptance of the offer, and to shirk that responsibility was unworthy of any man occupying that position. I am quite sure that no man of common sense would have permitted a condition of things whereby one person’s offer is accepted on the ground that he has the plant, and that he alone can do the work, when even a few days’ delay would have given the Department ample opportunity to ascertain, by wire, whether there were other persons willing to undertake the work. When this debate was resumed, the Minister of Defence, in reply to some statements made here - I think by Senator Gardiner on a motion for adjournment - said that we were casting aspersions or making insinuations of corruption against the Minister or the Department. He said it was a mean and cowardly thing to do. and that if we had any statements or charges to make we should make them openly, and not by way of innuendo. It is not a question of imputing corruption to the Minister or any particular individual, but a question of the contract system itself reeking with corruption; in fact, the system is inseparable from corruption.
– It is only fair to Senator Millen to say that his objections were to the side door, which implied corruption.
– I am perfectly fair to Senator Millen or any one else. I am not attempting to quote his words. That does not necessarily imply corruption.
– That is the view which Senator Millen took of it.
– This Government, with all its desire to bespatter its opponents with mud, did not dare to put in the opening Speech any words that imputed actual corruption to the Labour party, but they put in the words “ favoritism “ and ‘ ‘ side door ‘ ‘ methods of doing things can be classed as favouritism as well as corruption. It is just as fair to assume that contracts, like kissing, went by favour as to say or impute that there was any actual corruption. My desire is not to haggle about the mere words which were used, but to point out that the system itself reeks with corruption, and that corruption is inseparable from it. I do not mean that every contractor necessarily need be corrupt, but sometimes there is a contract which lends itself to corruption, and so long as human nature remains as it is there is an extreme probability that at some period or other corruption will creep in, and very often at several periods during a contract. The contract itself, especially if no tenders are called, may or may not be influenced by corrupt motives, but certainly in carrying it out we find in every State that the contract system bristles with instances of corruption, particularly where there is concrete work to be done. Unless some one whose character is beyond suspicion is watching, there is nearly always more than the prescribed quantity of sand used. Work of a slipshod character is performed where it can be covered up during the absence of the inspectors, and even when you get the best possible system of inspection, some of the inspectors are suspiciously open to influence. There is always that liability. When we hear comparisons made between the contract system and the day-labour system the apologists for the former never add the huge cost of supervision. I recollect when most of the material used in railway construction in New South Wales was manufactured in England or America, and imported. We had to maintain in London an engineer at a very high salary, together with working expenses. Then his fare to and from the State had to be paid; his high salary to be provided, and special expert assistance had to be employed. All this expenditure had to be incurred to supervise the quality of the material which was imported for the construction of public works, and when the material was being put together other supervisors had to be employed to watch the public interests. The contract was not charged with the enormous cost of supervision, which should be rightly charged to it. In spite of these heavy charges corruption creeps in, and “ crook “ work is done time after time. In New South Wales the work in telephone tunnels and in bridges has been proved to be unsafe and rotten to the core, owing to the rascality of many of the contractors. I remember bringing before the Legislative Assembly the case of a traffic bridge constructed over the Murrumbidgee River, where the contractor put at one end dummy bolt-heads when he had to put bolts through stringers and girders crossing each other. It was an awkward position in which to bore holes. The use of bolts was absolutely essential to the safety of the bridge in heavy floods, when huge masses of timber used to come down the river ; but the contractor, simply because of the difficulty of getting into an awkward place and boring holes from 3 feet to 4 feet deep, put in little holes 3 inches deep at one end and dummy bolts, with a head 3 inches or 4 inches long, at the other end.
– Did not the State Government have clerks of works in those days?
– Yes, but, as the honorable senator knows, these persons are sometimes absent when they should be present.
– A good one would not be absent.
– Sometimes they are squared. The honorable senator knows, unfortunately, that he cannot be deadsure that he is getting honest men to supervise these works. One of the greatest disadvantages of the contract system is that, after paying good prices for the work and good salaries for the supervision, we find that, after all, the public have been robbed. I have cited a case where some scores of bolts were not put in. I brought the matter before Parliament when it was found out, and the contractor was compelled to replace the short bolts, but he was not prosecuted, when it would have been quite a fair thing to give him imprisonment for life, or a little more, for endangering’ the public safety. He was allowed to go on taking contracts for the Government. I do not wish to prolong this debate to any great length, but I recommend that we should show our opinion of this Government and its socalled Governor-General’s Speech, if I may be permitted to so describe it. I contend that the Government has not shown any reasons why it should longer remain in existence. There is no other instance on record where a Government has attempted to hang on by the skin of its teeth, just by the mere casting vote of the Speaker. In the case of the State Parliament in by-gone years, when the old parties could always rely upon having the second Chamber with them, no Government with the slightest vestige of self-respect ever accepted the Speaker’s vote in its favour as anything more than an act of courtesy, as it were, and retained office for only a day or two until the Premier had time to interviewthe Governor, and either hand in his resignation, or ask for a dissolution. The idea of a Government holding on by the mere casting vote of the presiding officer in one House when it is in such an enormous minority in the other, is, I suppose, without parallel in the history of representative government in any part of the world. We have a Constitution that is unique in one or two respects, but to pretend that the system known to all British countries as responsible government is in active operation here, when in one House the Opposition has twenty-nine members against seven Government supporters, and in the other House the Government is just holding on by the Speaker’s vote, and a temporary accident or illness may at any time put the Government in a minority, is a scandalous condition of affairs to permit. When Ministers’ talk about dragging us to the country, I ask, Would it not be a fair thing for the GovernorGeneral, if such a request were made to him, to say, “ Mr. Cook, before you say that you come to me with the people’s mandate, and that the Senate is obstructing the will of the Australian people, would it not be advisable for you to go back to the people with your own House,’ -and see whether your claim is justified? Would it not be a correct thing for you to see whether the popularly elected Chamber does support your party or the party in opposition to you ?” The fact that the Labour party has really more members in the present Parliament - that is, taking the two Houses together - than it had in the last Parliament, is clear proof, if any were needed, that the electors, while - through . those accidents which befall elections - giving a nominal majority to one party, in reality cast a vast majority of their votes in favour of the Labour party. It is, therefore, for the party who “pinched in “ by a mere accident to go back and see whether they have the indorsement of the people. It is for this accidental Ministry to see whether the people really favour them as they so loudly boast through the press, or whether, on the other hand, the people, having been caught napping, as it were, and having found out their mistake, will on the next opportunity be only too glad to put Labour back in office in the other House by a majority, which will have the assistance of a majority here which is beyond parallel in the history of this Federation ? I do not desire to detain honorable senators any longer, but as one who believes that the Government is, in the language of Senator Pearce, endeavouring to subvert the Constitution, and certainly has betrayed the public interest, I am going to test the feeling of honorable senators as to whether they will stand to the opinions they have expressed. I move as an amendment -
That the following paragraphs be added : -
Your Advisers deserve special condemnation for their gross favoritism and betrayal of the public interest in letting a costly contract for railway construction without providing the safeguard of public competition.
Furthermore, your Advisers’ constant efforts to coerce the Senate, which, being elected on the widest possible basis, is the constitutional guardian of the people’s liberties, into abject submission to their will is an attempt to subvert the Constitution, and thereby imperil the harmony existing between the various Statesof the Commonwealth, and is deserving of the severest censure.
The Constitution was designedly framed to give the smaller States the protection which they deemed necessary to prevent them being dominated by the larger ones. I supported the contention asserted at the time the Constitution was submitted to the people of New South Wales that the Senate was unnecessary in the form proposed, and that a democratic Chamber elected by adult suffrage would give a square deal to every citizen, no matter in what part of the country he resided. In common with the whole of the party in my own State, I opposed the acceptance of the Constitution on the lines which were ultimately adopted. But I contend that the Constitution having been adopted on those lines, and in view of the fact that, rightly or wrongly, the smaller States refused practically to enter the Federation unless the concession of equal representation in the Senate was made to them, we have a right now to be loyal to the principles embodied in that constitutional agreement. We should not, as the Attorney-General suggests, endeavour to get behind the Constitution because it is not easy to amend it. We should try whether we cannot carry on our work under existing conditions, rather than by a side wind subvert the provisions which were designedly introduced into the Constitution for the protection of the smaller States. We know that on the present basis of representation, New South Wales and Victoria have together forty-eight representatives in another place, whilst the other four States have together only twenty-seven representatives. It is in consequence of this that the smallerStates believe that their real safeguard against the domination of an arbitrary majority representing the larger States is their equal representation in the Senate. Whether, from a theoretical or academic stand-point, equal representation of the States in the Senate he right or wrong, it is our bounden duty, having been elected to uphold the Constitution, and sworn in as members of the Senate, to administer it as we find it. Every one of us should resent in the strongest possible manner the attempt being openly made by the Government to subvert the Constitution for their petty, paltry ends.
– I think that is very far-fetched.
– I am surprised that Senator McColl should treat the subject so lightly . Is it not a fact that in a series of addresses delivered by the AttorneyGeneral, that honorable gentleman has stated in effect - I do not pretend to give his exact words - that as the Constitution provides for the equal representation of the States in the Senate, and that cannot be altered without the consent of each of the States, it is practically impossible to go about the work of altering the Constitution of the Senate in the way he would desire, and the next best thing to do is to attempt to deprive it of the power it at present possesses of vetoing legislation carried in another place.
– The AttorneyGeneral never said anything like that.
– The Treasurer gave expression to the same opinions.
– Yes, to exactly the same opinions; though they may not have been expressed in exactly the words I have used. Mr. Irvine’s whole argument was, in plain English, that the Senate must be crippled. He could not, as a representative of one of the larger States, find any immediate method of depriving the smaller States of their equal representation in this Chamber, and the next best thing, in his opinion, was to cripple the Senate by depriving it of the power of vetoing legislation carried by the other House.
– That is absolutely and precisely the meaning of what the AttorneyGeneral has said. I put it to any member of the Senate to say whether the Attorney-General’s words are capable of any other construction. The whole purpose of his address was to put forward that idea. The attempt that is being made to bring about a double dissolution is based upon exactly the same idea that for purely party purposes the Senate must bend to the will of the Government or suffer penalties.
– The Senate must be made more truly representative. Senator Pearce admitted last week that more votes were cast at the last election for Liberal candidates for the Senate than for Labour candidates.
– Does the honorable senator agree with Mr. Irvine’s idea to do away with the equal representation of the States in the Senate?
– Absolutely no. I am a strong and thorough Federalist. I only, of course, express my own opinion.
– Senator McDougall and others of the Labour party have said that they would like to see the Senate abolished. They are no more in favour of it now than they were when the party started out in New South Wales in the campaign against it as then proposed, and favoured a single Chamber. My contention is that, whatever we might have favoured then, once the Constitution was adopted it is our place, not necessarily to uphold it for ever, but certainly not to attempt by aside wind to subvert it. If any change should be effected, we should go upon the public platform and have the proposed change indorsed by the people by the election of men pledged to a certain course of action in the carrying of the necessary amendments of the Constitution through this Parliament. There should not be any method other than a constitutional method adopted to alter the Constitution. Surely it is a reasonable contention that”, if the Constitution is defective, we should adopt constitutional means to amend it. The proposal of the Government is to undermine the Constitution and to make the Senate, not only absolutely helpless, but absolutely useless. It is better that the Senate should cease to exist than that it should continue if it is to be deprived of its powers. It will be only a useless and costly encumbrance if it is to remain nominally as it is, but liable to a penal dissolution on every occasion on which it thwarts the will of the governing party in another place. Honorable senators may fairly say, “ Of what use will it be for us to oppose a measure if, three months later, it may be brought up again, and we may be sent to the country unless we then agree to it?” It would be a more courageous course to propose the abolition of the Senate altogether than to make it subject to a penal dissolution whenever it thwarts the will of the party in power in another place. The Government in this matter take up a ridiculous and untenable position.
– The Ministerial party are not in power in another place.
– In the true sense of the expression they are not, but they are, nevertheless, the party in office. I contend that all that I have said on this subject is justified. There is clearly an attempt on the part of the Government to subvert the Constitution by indirect methods, because they lack the courage to propose to do it openly. The Ministerial party, like the Opposition, is composed of representatives from each of the States, and if the Government were to attempt openly to attack the principle of the equal representation of the States in the Senate, many of their followers would melt away from them at once. The party would be but a rope of sand that would not hold together for two minutes. The Government have consequently attempted by indirect methods to penalize the Senate rather than retire from a position which they hold in the most unconstitutional way. No other Government that has ever been in office in the Federal or the State Parliament has occupied such a position. With the precarious majority of the presiding officer in another place, and a majority of more than four to one against them in the Senate, the Government hold on to office, and plead with the people and with the new GovernorGeneral to support their claim to be. given a gambling chance of getting back to this Parliament with a working majority. It is the greatest absurdity in political’ history, and is unprecedented in any other country of which I have read. I trust that we shall not in the Senate follow upon traditional and conventional lines which have become more or less rooted. I hope that we shall discard the suggestion that the Senate is merely an Upper House or House of Review, in the same sense as a Legislative Council in a State Parliament. The Senate has had definite functions assigned to it by a written Constitution. They are as clearly and unmistakably assigned to it as are the functions of the House of Representatives assigned to that Chamber. We have no business here to assume that the Senate occupies the position of a mere Upper House, and should back down the moment another place expresses a different opinion from that which may be expressed here. We have the right to speak on behalf of the States. We have been returned to the Senate upon a franchise which is not equalled by that of any other Federal Chamber in the world. We may claim to more truly represent the people than do honorable members in another place. They may be influenced by little cliques and coteries, whilst we have been returned by the mass vote of the whole of the people of the different States we represent. We can. in the circumstances, claim to be in a better position than are honorable members in another place to take a truly national view of these constitutional questions. We should assert the dignity and importance of the Senate or consent to its abolition altogether. We are not here on sufferance, by the grace of any Ministry,’ or subject to any other legislative Chamber. The questions I have dealt with are only a few of those which might be discussed during this debate. I have preferred to leave other matters to be mentioned by those who have given special attention to them. I trust that my colleague, Senator Gardiner, will be able to throw some further light on the Teesdale Smith contract. He may be able to, supplement what I have said in connexion with matters with which I have not dealt thoroughly. If he gives the Senate the benefit of a resume of the notes he made, I think it vill be found that, as compared with mine, the two stories are like the Gospels, in that, while they may differ in the wording, they are substantially the same. I believe that the country will indorse the action of the Labour party in driving home the fact that lie Government of a party that made vague charges against their predecessors, and who hoisted the standard of immaculate purity, and were going to reform the whole of the departmental work of the Commonwealth, put everything on an ideal basis, and, above all, be business-like in their financial arrangements, have so bungled the first work of importance they undertook as to direct the attention of the whole of the people to their blunder. I trust that a happy outcome of the position will be that, in the future, during the time they will have control of the administrative offices, be it long or short, they will see that, if they persist in reverting to the old and discredited contract system, they must, at least, provide the public safeguard of open competition and the calling of tenders for every work.
– Senator Rae has handed me an amendment; but I wish to point out that, before putting it, it is necessary that the phraseology of the original motion should be altered. If the Senate were now to accept Senator Rae’s amendment, it could not go back on the motion, and would be unable to amend it as it requires to be amended. An alteration becomes necessary, if Senator Rae’s amendment is accepted, by reason of the fact that the Governor-General, who delivered the Speech upon which the Address-in-Reply has been moved, has left the Commonwealth, and his successor is now in office. The amendment which lias been suggested, and which will meet the case, will cause the Address-in-Reply to read -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and our thanks for the Speech which Your Excellency’s predecessor (Lord Denman) was pleased to address to Parliament.
I would suggest that some honorable senator should move that the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply be amended in that way before I accept the amendment of Senator Rae.
– It is only by the leave of the Senate that I am entitled to speak, but if the Senate will grant that leave I will move in the direction suggested.
Original question (on motion by Senator Millen) amended accordingly.
Amendment (by Senator Rae) proposed.
– I desire to offer a few observations on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and also on the amendment which has been submitted by Senator Rae. In the first place, I ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to the occasion when the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply was submitted by Senator Oakes. Personally, I am inclined to think that the system of allowing the other branch of the Legislature to discuss that motion first, places the mover of it in this Chamber in a very peculiar position. No matter how pregnant his remarks may have been, it frequently happens that by the time we come to reply to them they have been almost entirely forgotten. I think that Senator Oakes made it abundantly clear that he intends to adopt the same attitude here that he and his party adopted outside. Throughout New South Wales at the last general, elections the so-called Liberal party never tired of proclaiming that if they were returned to power their primary duty would be to restore responsible government. The electors were assured in the press, and from the public platform that under the regime of the Labour Ministry constitutional government had gone astray, and that it was necessary for the alleged Liberal party to be returned to office in order to restore that system of government in all its purity. Yet for twelve months we have beheld the spectacle of a Liberal Government clinging to office in a way that is without parallel in Australian history - if we except the case of Tasmania - upon the casting vote of the Speaker. Not only have they clung tenaciously to office under these conditions, but time after time they have refused to follow an example which they might well have followed - an example set by the leaders of other Governments who, immediately they found their majorities were small, have handed in their resignations. Yet the first act of the present Ministry has been to degrade Parliament by clinging to office on the casting vote of the Speaker. One cannot follow their twistings, turnings, and squirmings in their endeavour to retain their hold upon the Ministerial bench without feeling that the dignity of Parliament cannot be maintained when any party seeks to hold office on the casting vote of the Speaker. I ask Senator Oakes to show me where this Government, who were pledged beyond all other Ministries to restore responsible government, have redeemed their pledges. The honorable senator had something to say about the two so-called test Bills - the Government Preference Prohibition Bill and the Postal Voting Restoration Bill. I would like to make it. perfectly clear that these measures have been introduced solely for the purpose of giving an advantage to the anti-Labour party, and not with any desire to assist the conduct of public business. Because our party took a strong stand upon these Bills, and because we have sixty-six members in this Parliament, as against our opponents’ forty-five, they hope to bring about a condition of things under which they will gain a party advantage. I am inclined to hope that they will be successful in their efforts. I do not express that wish from a personal point of view, because nothing that I can do will be done to give the Government an opportunity to use Parliament in the way that they propose to use it. Senator Oakes declared that he did not know what honorable senators upon this side of the chamber were making so much noise about regarding the test Bills. By what stretch of imagination can those measures be described as test Bills, unless from the stand-point that the Liberals intend to test their strength with the GovernorGeneral to bring about a double dissolution ? Senator Oakes twitted some of us with having in the past advocated the postal vote. I wish to say that some years ago I was strenuous in my advocacy of giving electors who were unable to reach the poll an opportunity to exercise! their franchise. If we had had to deal only with honest men and women, I believe that that system would have- been an excellent one for the Democracy of Australia. But we . know that a gentleman named Louis Lesser, not to mention others, was fined as much as £25 for getting persons to fill in postal ballot-papers in favour of his own political party. He, induced quite a number of persons to sign statements that were not in accordance with facts.
– And to exercise postal votes.
– Yes. He not only induced them to vote by post, but he sometimes led them into making false statements. As an Australian, I am interested in maintaining the purity of the ballot, because that system was first introduced into Australia, and because other countries have been induced to follow in our footsteps. At the time the postal vote was adopted, we did not imagine that it would be used to corrupt electors from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. It is because I have witnessed the operations of anti-Labour organizers, and because I have seen their attempts at roll-stuffing publicly exposed, that I decline to allow them an opportunity to corrupt the constituencies to an extent that was formerly undreamt of. We have heard their public boasts about what they would do if they got the postal vote. I think it was the Prime Minister who said that if they were given an opportunity of purifying the rolls he would go bail for the Liberal party retaining office for ten years. I believe that if the Government had an opportunity of doing what they called purifying the rolls, and what I call a deliberate and almost open attempt to remove from the rolls the people entitled to vote, they would remain in office for that time. Let me tell Senator Oakes that it was because of the corrupt manner in which the postal vote was used that I changed my opinion regarding it. 1 know one case where” an employer of labour called his employes together. He was a person entitled to sign applications for postal voting papers, and he signed applications for a number of his employes to secure postal votes. When he handed them out, he asked the men to vote for the Liberal candidate. Seventeen out of his twenty-four employes refused, and he told them to go down to his office next day, and get their money. They did so, and went out to look for work simply because they would not vote a3 their employer told them to.
– What was the name of that person?
– I can give the honorable senator the name and all particulars, and prove what I have stated, but I do not want to drag into the debate the name of a man who is not present to reply to the charge at once. When we find a system operating in that way, it is time to alter it. In his speech on this motion, Senator Oakes spoke almost in a boastful tone about his freedom. That is the kind of clap-trap he uses on the platform outside. He said -
I am not tieri down to the views expressed by my leader, or to those expressed hy any other man. If I joined the party opposite, I would not be allowed to hold the opinions which I hold to-day. I would have to obey the mandate of the Caucus. No matter what my individual views might be, when I entered the National Parliament of Australia I would have to pocket those opinions and vote in accordance with the decision which had been arrived at by a majority of that party.
The honorable senator knows as well as I do that that statement is not true. We have not less freedom, but more freedom, than he has. Our obligations go only to the extent of our signed pledge, which binds us to the planks of the platform. Outside of that we have our freedom. Even if the honorable senator has not been bound by his leader in a previous Parliament he has done something that no Labour man would ever do. I have brought here a document to show how, in spite of his boast of freedom, he tried to place shackles on the people of New South Wales in a way that can never be charged against any member of the Labour party. He said: “ I will vote against anything in which I do not believe.” I therefore take it that he has believed in everything that he has voted for so far. . I have” here a copy of an Act of Parliament, passed when he was an Honorary Minister in the Wade Government, with his vote and support. The Victorian people imagine that Mr. “ Iceberg “ Irvine is the champion petty tyrant of Australia, and that in his Railway Strike Coercion Bill he went further than was ever done by any British Government in their attempts to coerce the Irish people; but we in New South Wales regard Senator Oakes as the champion coercionist. His efforts in that direction beat anything done by Mr. Irvine or any British Government. The Act the Wade Government passed was as follows -
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and. consent of the Legislative Council and . Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows: -
This Act may be cited as the “Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act1909.”
Section four of the Industrial Disputes Act 1908 is amended by inserting after the definition of “ Minister “ the following definition: - “ Necessary commodity “ includes -
Gas for lighting, cooking, or industrial purposes;
Water for domestic purposes; and
Any article of food the deprivation of which may tend to endanger human life or cause serious bodily injury.
Section forty-two of the said Act is amended -
By omitting the words “or (b) insti gates to or aids in any of the abovementioned Acts.”
By inserting next before the proviso the following words: - “ If any person instigates to or aids in any of the abovementioned acts he shall be liable, to imprisonment for a period of twelve months.”
The following new sections are inserted next after section forty-two of the said Act: - 42a. If any officer of police of or above the rank of sergeant has reasonable grounds to believe that any building or place is being used for a meeting for the purpose of instigating to or aiding in or managing or aiding in the continuance of a lock-out or strike, he may enter such building or place, and may, if necessary, obtain assistance and use force by breaking open doors or otherwise for making such entry, and may seize any documents which he reasonably suspects to relate to any lock-out or strike, or intended lock-out or strike. 42b. A meeting of two or more persons assembled for the purpose of -
Instigating to or aiding in a lock-out or strike; or
Managing, directing, controlling, or aiding in the continuance of a lockout or strike already in existence, shall, where such lock-out or strike is in respect of a necessary commodity or in respect of the transport services of the State in relation thereto, be and is hereby declared to be unlawful.
Any person taking part in any such meeting who has reasonable grounds to believe that the probable consequences of a continuance of such lock-out or strike will be to deprive the public, either wholly or to a great extent, of the supply of a necessary commodity, shall be liable to imprisonment for a period of twelve months. 42c. Any person who, either as principal, or as agent, makes or enters into any contract or agreement, or is or continues to be a principal of or engages in any combination or conspiracy with intent to restrain the trade of the State in any necessary commodity to the detriment of the public, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Five hundred pounds. 42d. Any person who monopolizes, or attempts to monopolize, or combines, or conspires with any person to monopolize, any part of the trade of the State with intent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any necessary commodity, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Five hundred pounds.
Section forty-five of the said Act is amended by omitting “ the three last preceding sections,” and inserting” in place thereof the words and figures “ sections 42, 42b, 42c, 42d, 43, and 44.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have read that measure because Senator Oakes boasted that he was a free man. What was the use of his freedom if it was used in such a way that every law-abiding citizen in New South Wales could have been arrested at the time of the coal strike by means of that measure?
– No law-abiding citizen who did not break that law could be arrested.
– The Act made it an offence punishable with twelve months’ imprisonment, .without the option of a fine, for two people to meet together to discuss the strike, or to do anything to aid the strike. After its passage in New South Wales, a Britisher’s house ceased to be his castle, because an officer oi police could break into it without warrant at any time, if he believed that such a meeting was likely to take place. Senator McDougall, Senator Rae, and myself, who were then not senators, were travelling around the country, and could have been arrested at any moment under that legislation. The honorable senator loves freedom’ for himself, but he would take it from every other man ‘ in the country. Under that piece of legislation four or five men were actually sent to gaol for twelve months.
– You mean Peter Bowling ?
– He was one. Mr. Gray was another - a better man than any man on the Liberal side could ever be. He was most unfortunate. At every meeting where the coal miners were discussing the strike he fought against it every inch of the way, and when they decided to go on strike he stuck to them like a true man.
– Why did not Billy Hughes stick to them like Peter Bowling did?
– Anything will do the honorable member for a snuffle. The honorable senator who boasts so loudly of his freedom was a party to passing the greatest outrage on British liberty ever passed by any Parliament in the world..
– And I would pass it again under the same circumstances.
– That is one of the reasons that make me fight so strenuously against that party who in the name of freedom would rob us of all freedom. The honorable senator feels a great deal of pleasure in his heart in supporting men of the Irvine stamp.
– You would not support the Labour pledge at one time.
– The honorable senator is fond of making insinuations to convey an impression that is not true. He has not the courage to say straight out what he means.
– I will say definitely now that you refused to sign the pledge of the Labour party.
– I refused at one time to sign a pledge of the Labour party, but not the pledge that the party has now. I remained outside the Labour ranks all the time that pledge was in existence, but I never ran in opposition to a Labour candidate, and never ranfor Parliament as anything but a selected Labour candidate.
– Was not Hannay a selected Labour candidate?
– No. That is another of those insinuations by which the honorable senator tries to mislead the people who do not know any better. The facts are these : I was sent to Parliament in 1891 as a pledged Labour candidate. In 1894, when the incident to which the honorable senator refers took place - there was a division of opinion as to whether we should sign the 1891 pledge or the solidarity pledge, which was much stronger. I went down to the league that selected me in 1891, and said, “ Two Labour candidates cannot win this seat. I will sign the 1891 pledge, and let your candidate sign the 1894 pledge, and let the selected candidate run.” The whole of the leagues agreed to that.
– The central body.
– There was no central body at that time. The whole of the leagues consented to my suggestion, and Mr. Hannay was one of my opponents “in the ballot. He drew out of the ballot. Mr. Bowman, the father of Mr. Bowman who is now secretary of the Australian Workers Union, contested the ballot right to the finish. I was the selected candidate of the united labour leagues, and won the seat. I am putting my position before the honorable senator so that he will not make the same mistake again. I was in that Parliament in 1894 and 1895. I believe Senator Gould was there, and so was Senator Millen, and I challenge them to say that, during all that time, I ever set foot in their room. That is the position I took up when I went back to that Parliament. I hope that now Senator Oakes knows the facts he will no longer try to make out that at one time I was a member of the Liberal party.
– I want to put you in the position of having asserted -your rights to freedom, the same as I do.
– If the same pledge was put forward now as was put forward in 1894 by Mr. Hughes and Mr.
Holman, I believe I would take up the same position, because, with my knowledge of parliamentary procedure, I thought it was unworkable. No one feels the awkwardness of that pledge more than Mr. Holman does now.
– You voted for Cook then.
– Mr. Cook was the selected leader of the Labour party then. I was in the room when he signed the pledge to vote as the majority of the Labour party decided, although he fights against the Labour party now. Not only that, but when the party met again in 1893, and he was elected leader again, he Again signed the Labour party’s pledge, and issued our manifesto in the name of the Labour party. He secured his position as Minister in the Reid Government simply that Labour might be represented in it. It is a difficult thing for a man to clear himself of the ignominy of having followed Mr. Cook. He has gone so far in the other direction now that it is difficult for people who did not know him in those days to believe that he could ever have been the elected leader of the Labour party. People will say that one is to blame for following him. I admit that I “was to blame, and plead my youth and inexperience.
– You followed him in that Parliament when he was a Minister.
– The only unfortunate part about my support of him at that time was that it lasted for only eleven months and three weeks, and then we went to the country, and the penalty I paid for supporting him was to lose my seat and remain out of Parliament for the next nine years. It is not fair for Senator Oakes,’ who should know better, to try to put me in a false position by uttering half-truths.
– What is the half-truth that I uttered?
– The statement the honorable senator made the other day that I was a follower of Mr. Cook in New South Wales, the inference being that I followed him in his Liberal proclivities after he became a renegade.
– I said you had been his follower.
– The whole position is very clear. There were two parties. Men of the calibre of Mr. George Black, Mr. Bavister, and Senator Rae, and quite a number of other men were outside the movement. But apart from all that, I am perfectly satisfied to say that I have been elected to two Parliaments since then - first to the State Parliament as a selected Labour candidate, officially indorsed by the central branch, and next to the Senate. I think that the forgiveness of these electors would be quite sufficient without me having to explain the position to Senator Oakes. When he states only half the truth with the ability .that he has for stating half truths, we know how difficult it is to combat it.
– I shall prove the other half later.
– Here is something about which we would like the whole truth. Here is a measure that out-Irvines Irvine. Here is a measure which, in the direction of coercion, goes farther than any Bill passed to coerce Irishmen fighting for Irish liberty. Here is an Act which says that two men, if seen together,’ constitute a public meeting, and may be arrested by a sergeant or officer above that rank without warrant, that force may be used if necessary, that doors may be smashed open, and that men may be dragged from their homes, and if found guilty of the awful offence of striking because they are helping their fellowworkmen to get better wages and conditions, can be sent to gaol for twelve months, without the option of a fine. Such is the legislation of the man who loves liberty. That is the man who will not be bound by a caucus. I hope that he will spend a little of his time in explaining that away. It stands as the most condemned of any legislation ever passed in an Australian Parliament, as a cruel attack upon the workers of this country. As I mentioned, Gray, one of the men who did a considerable amount of time in gaol while the miserable Wade Government hung on to office after passing this legislation-
– Do not forget that a Labour Government put Dickson in gaol under it.
– Do not forget that Gray - the man who at every committee meeting when they were talking about going on strike fought against the proposal - did his time in gaol under this cruel piece of legislation.
– And he lost his life shortly afterwards.
– He never recovered from the effects of the imprisonment.
– Did Senator Oakes have anything to do with that?
– -He was an Honorary Minister in the Cabinet that drafted the Bill, and has made the boast that he only votes of his own free will, and will oppose a measure to which he is not favorable. I want to fetch this thing right home to him, because now that a couple of years have passed away, will any one look back at the Newcastle coal strike as anything but the act of a body of men banded together to make better their conditions? I recognise that in connexion with strikes there may come occasions when the law is broken. But the law under which these men were convicted on that occasion was one passed for the purpose of convicting them. The offence for which they were convicted was committed before the law was passed. Yet they went to gaol over it.
– It ought to be burned by the public hangman.
– And the authors too.
– I am pleased to” say that the Wade party that passed this law has appealed to the people twice since then, and that each appeal has left them in a worse position. It shows the distaste of the people for legislation of this kind. That inherent love of British liberty, which will not tolerate such legislation, has not .only shattered the Wade party, but has driven them from office, and it will only be when one by one its members are driven out of public life, that ever the people of New South Wales will rest satisfied that they have dealt properly with those who had such small regard for the working classes. This was a measure to send men to gaol because otherwise there was no law by which they could be gaoled. Senator Oakes boasts that he has more liberty than we have in the caucus.
– Hear, hear.
– So far as our caucus pledge is concerned, we are pledged to vote as a majority of the party decide on the planks of the platform.
– And you are pledged to vote in the House as the party decide.
– On the planks of the platform. I put these matters before the honorable senator so that when he gets amongst the dairy-farmers he may boast as a man with all his freedom before him. I wish to show that there are in the ranks men who say that in the Liberal party there is a caucus, and that men have no freedom there. I shall quote a gentleman, whom I think that even Senator Oakes will not disown as a veteran Liberal, as a powerful antiLabourite. I ask honorable senators to listen to these words -
When one joined an organization lie expected to he treated as a friend, and not as an enemy within the camp. If, on the contrary, instead of support and sympathy, and sympathy and advice, one found traitors in the camp all round, the only thing to do was to resign from the association and become a free man.
These words are taken from a speech delivered by Sir William McMillan, and published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 13th November, 1913. It is not ancient history that I have quoted, but the statement of a well-known anti-Labourite, quite as bitter an old Tory as Senator Oakes.
– An unsuccessful applicant for a position.
– This gentleman was compelled to resign from the Liberal organization in order that he might become a free man. It will be seen that he throws at Senator Oakes the taunt which the latter has thrown at me. So far as our liberty is concerned, our pledge to vote with the majority is limited by an agreement printed on the planks of the platform. If we do not agree. with the planks of the platform, we have no occasion to sign the pledge.
– It is a printed contract.
– It is printed in black and white” before we enter the organization, but Senator Oakes follows his leader wherever he may be led. No leader and no contract whatever would bind me to support a Government in such a pernicious piece of legislation as that in which the honorable senator glories - his Coercion Act of 1909.
– It all depends upon whether a’ caucus majority decided it.
– Much depends upon the caucus majority. But we have something to guide us. We know that most of those we are choosing from have graduated amongst men who have been battling to make the conditions better for the workers. We are not surrounded by men who imagine, and I believe that some really do imagine it, that bettering the conditions of the ‘workers makes their own positions less comfortable. The members of our party are associated together because we have the same ideals and aspirations. We are following the same light as it were, and although we may get a party in power with a sufficiently servile majority to pass legislation like the Coercion Act of 13th December, 1909, although for a time the honorable senator may send some of our workers to gaol, although he may break them and they may never recover from the effects of the term they have served in gaol, although he may leave their wives widows and their children orphans, it is of no use for him to get up in public and boast of his freedom. That is what he has done, and also the Government with which he was associated. There is no getting away from that.
– You must admit that he looks very much ashamed of himself now.
– He will be ashamed of the Coercion Bill, no matter how long he may live. I wish him good health because he is a type of the men we want to oppose us. I wish now to refer to some matters in regard to the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. Senator Rae has made a statement of what he saw during our visit. As the representatives of the Labour party, Senator Rae and I visited the scene of the railway contract. Why ? Because Mr. Kelly, Senator Millen, Mr. Joseph Cook, and other honorable gentlemen were trying to make out that a fair contract had been let to Mr. Teesdale Smith. I do not make any pretence to the knowledge or the skill of an engineer, but I do claim to be a practical man who understands earthworks. I claim from a hard practical experience to be able, when I look at work, to get near what it is worth to perform. I went to the earthworks with Senator Rae. We had not made up our minds one way or the other. We decided to jot down in our pocketbooks exactly what we saw, and I propose to quote from my lengthy notes. If there was any change in the country at each half-mile we noted down what we had seen. At the first halfmile peg we wrote down what class of country we had passed through, and that practice we followed until we reached the end of the work. We could not have commenced to do that if we wanted to be unfair to any one. I desire to give the Senate the benefit of the notes I made, because Senator Millen made some slight quotations from the engineers’ reports, and he, with that skilful method of his; put his two engineers’ reports before mine. I venture to say that the Senate, if there was any serious difference between those reports and what I have to say now would, certainly be weighed down by the judgment of men in their positions, because it is their business to know what class of work they are doing. I propose to do what Senator Millen did not do here, and what Mr. Kelly did not do in another place.’ I intend to give the whole report of one of the engineers, and honorable senators will find that there is not a great deal of difference between the report of Mr. Hobler and the statement I made on a recent occasion, and the statement I am now making. What I am about to read is taken almost word for word from the notes I made in my pocketbook while I was walking over the line.
At 91* miles a cutting about 6 feet deep in pure sand, with same material for embankment.
At the 92 miles a high embankment, made up of material taken from a. deep cutting, the greater part of which is a stiff white pipeclay, through which run bands of hard sandstone, getting harder towards the bottom of the cutting. More material was taken from this cutting than was required for the embankment, and was accordingly dumped alongside.
The next cutting was of a slatey gravel formation, somewhat difficult to work. AH the material from this cutting was used to form the high embankment (about 20 -feet high), and to complete the embankment additional material had to be taken from the hillside.
Then follows two long shallow cuttings, like a dried-up river bed, consisting of smooth stones in soft soil, very easy to remove.
From the 03-) to the 94 miles very shallow cuttings, with low embankments, made from soil and loose stone obtained from alongside. A water-table has been made on the high side of this work.
From the 04 to the 94) miles almost level, with short embankments about 2 feet high. Very open soil with gravel on top. Watertable on the upper side.
From 04* to 95* alternate cuttings and embankments running to 0 feet deep. All ploughable. No stone or shooting.
These cuttings are all soil and kaolin. In the bottom of the deepest cutting a sticky clay like soft, rotten, wet diorite, easily ploughed and thrown out of the cutting with shovels.
From the 95* to the 96 miles is perhaps the deepest cutting on the contract. This cutting has a soft light-brown soil for the first 5 feet’.
Easily .removable by plough and scoop. Then follows a formation of gypsum (a light smooth chalky substance) that shoots well and is easy to move on account of its lightness.
From the 96 to the 97 is another long cutting, but not very deep. The core of this is slightly harder than the gypsum, but is good stuff to work, easy to bore, shoots well,, and is light to remove.
From the 97 to 98$, passed through a long cutting down about 7 feet at the deepest part. Was informed by one of the men that 24,000 yards would be taken from this cutting.
Fifteen horse scoops were working at the time we passed along, doing really good work in the light-brown soil on top, and effective work in the strata of thin marble-like sandstone at the bottom of this cutting.
We were now well up on the tableland, and long stretches of almost level country follow.
From 98$ to the 100-miles peg passed through a long even cutting - 4 feet at the deepest. Brown soil on top, with bed of kaolin.
At the top of the ridge the surface is strewn with big gravel of the river bed kind; beneath this rough surface the plough sinks into a soft brown soil. Occasionally large flat stones are met with, but I saw nothing too heavy for a man to lift.
From the 100-mile peg to the 103 the country is still almost level, but falling perceptibly.
At the 103 a gang of men were just opening up_ a new cutting. Stony on top, but a plough with six horses were cutting a very deep furrow, and ten tip-drays were being utilized carting material to be used at the end of the cutting to form an embankment.
From the 103 no work had been done right to the end of contract at the 106-mile peg,
But the whole country from the 97 to the 106 miles is similar, and can be easily worked with ploughs, scoops, and shovel.
Rough estimate of plant -
I do not make any pretence that this rough statement is the statement of an expert. It is the statement of one who, accompanied by Senator Bae, went over the country to see things for himself and to report to his party exactly what he saw. I have not, with the exception of a word here and there to convey my meaning more clearly, altered one of these statements from the notes which I made in my note-book on the spot. There might be something to be said for the Government if those .statements were contradicted directly by the engineer’s report which Senator Millen set up in opposition to my previous statement on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. But if Senator Millen had done what he should have done, and had put the whole of the engineer’s report before the Senate, it would have been found that their conclusions and mine as to the character of this country are very similar. Senator Millen knew that. The Government are very touchy on the subject of this contract, and if there is any feeling in the Senateand another place, or in the country, that there is any suspicion attaching to the Government in connexion with it, it is due to the way in which the Government have met the charges made against them. It has been claimed that statements about the contract are made in such a way as to leave the Government, as Senator Millen has said, to be suspected of corrupt practice. I say deliberately that that suspicion is growing because of the shifty statements and paltry excuses which have been put forward by Ministers.
– Does the honorable senator suggest any corruption ?
– Do I suggest any corruption ? What a statement to make I
– The honorable senator would not make it.
– I say that if there is any suggestion of it, the public gather it from the continual attempts of Ministers £o cover up their tracks.
– No; from the honorable senator’s remarks.
– I am trying to speak without passion. I am speaking in my usual manner, and I say deliberately that if there is any cause for suspicion, nothing is more calculated to create that impression than the fact that Ministers, responsible for the business, have not been open and candid with both Houses of this Parliament and with the general public in regard to it. If a blunder were made, what better course could the Government have followed than to make an ample and candid admission of the blunder, but when a gentleman in the position of Senator Millen stands up here, and, in reply to the statements I made on the motion for the adjournment, defiantly submits the opinion of two engineers against mine, and resumes his seat without completing the report of one of the engineers, and leaves it at the place where it best suited him to leave it, what can we expect will be the result ? I have here the full report, and will put it before the Senate. This is Mr. Hobler’s report on the materials taken out on Teesdale Smith’s contract -
Commonwealth of Australia,
Office of the Engineer-in-Chief, 84-88 William-street,
Melbourne, 20th April, 1914.
Department of Home Affairs.
Material taken out of cuttings under Tees dale Smith’s contract. As instructed by the Minister, I have obtained a report from the Deputy Engineer-in-Chief (who is now at Port Augusta), as to the nature Of the material which is being excavated by Mr. Teesdale Smith under his contract.
Mr. Hobler’s wire reads as follows: ; “ Your wire re contractor Smith’s earthworks. He has 35 small scoops working, and is ploughing and scooping tops of some cuttings, also some portions of banks. The cuttingsgenerally, so far as he has opened them up, which is to cutting 119, show that 103 and 104, though fair material on top, have hard cores of reefs of disjointed silicated sandstone, which is too hard to plough, awkward to bore, and bad shooting. Cutting 113 pure sand; 114 hard material, consisting of silicated sandstone mixed with stiff white clay. Anticipate cutting 102 will be hard material similar to 103. Cutting 119 not bad material on top, but indications point to it being hard core similar to cutting 103 and 104. Remaining cuttings opened up are generally on good material. Regarding cuttings not yet opened from 119 on, no trial hole sunk. I consider these will be fairly good excavation material throughout, with probably few hard cores. Contractor’s chief difficulty and most unusual expense is that in regard to water. Position with regard to this is causing heavy expenditure and great anxiety.”
Summarized, the information I have obtained is as follows: -
Remaining cuttings opened up are generally of good material.
Regarding cuttings not yet opened from 119 on, no trial holes have been sunk. It is considered, however, that these will be fairly good excavation material throughout, with probably few hard cores.
The total amount of excavation under the contract is 107,279 cubic yards.
I have wired Mr. Hobler asking for an approximate estimate of the cost of supplying water per cubic yard of material excavated.
And that is the report which was put before another place and before the Senate by Ministers and which they left off at the part dealing with what appeared to be difficult cuttings. I made the statement that I believed the contractor was making about ?1,000 a week out of this contract. I did not make a guess at it. I saw no material in the hardest cuttings on the contract that could not be profitably removed for 2s. a yard. The contractor is getting 4s. 6d. a yard for removing it. There is therefore a profit shown of 2s. 6d. a yard for 107,000 cubic yards.
– And the contractor is getting another 2s. 6d. for depositing the soil on an embankment.
– Yes ; the contractor is getting 2s. 6d. per cubic yard for the embankment. Mr. Kelly is reported in a Sydney newspaper to have said that my statement was farcical, but I want to tell him that if he had the least knowledge about the nature of the work to be performed under the contract he . would never have agreed to give anything like 2s. 6d. per cubic yard for carting this dirt 100 feet. I am prepared to let my reputation in the matter rest with the men who have worked on railways in this country, with the men who have sunk tanks in the back country, with those who have built our roads, quarried the ores in our mines, and dug out our coal. I know what they are likely to say when I tell them that Mr. Kelly states that 4s. 6d. per cubic yard is a fair price for cuttings in the softest country that could be imagined, for the greater part of the contract, and that 2s. 6d. per cubic yard is a fair price to pay for shifting soil to an embankment. A cubic yard of stuff taken from the cutting will make 1? or 1 cubic yards in the embankment, and I may therefore safely say that 8s. per cubic yard is being paid for all stuff shifted 100-ft. on this contract. There is a gain of1s. 6d. per cubic yard on the embankments and 2s. 6d. per cubic yard on the cuttings, and at a rough estimate there will be a profit on the contract of between £20,000 and £25,000. I am making full allowance for all the difficulties connected with the contract. We are told that water has to be carted, as the work is being carried out in dry country. I never saw a railway contract in connexion with which difficulties had not to be surmounted in the carting of water. No matter where railways are constructed the water does not run up hill to the cutting; it has to be taken up to the nien who are employed in it. I want to make it quite clear that I make no complaint against Mr. Teesdale Smith. In my previous remarks I said that I looked upon him as a shrewd business man. I believe he is all that. If I were in Mr. Kelly’s position, or in that of Mr. Cook, who is really the Minister responsible, I would not be prepared to run the risk of a huge claim for extras and large law costs against a man of the calibre of Mr. Teesdale Smith. So far as the difficulties of providing water is concerned, I may inform honorable senators that Bellamy’s wells are within four and a half or five miles from the contract work. Mr. Smith laid down pipes to convey the water from Bellamy’s wells to the work. That cost some money, but it brought the water right up to the beginning of his cuttings at 92 miles. The greater part of the cuttings and the most difficult cuttings are between the 92-mile and the 96-mile peg, so that the water has to be carried for four miles to the furthest of those cuttings. The expense in laying the pipes was justified, and the Government might have undertaken that expenditure. I can give them advice, which is not that of an engineer, that before the contract is completed they should take over the pipes from Mr. Teesdale Smith, because by doing so they would have the water at their hand. It would cost the Government more than the expense of laying the pipe track from Bellamy’s wells, to have to cart the water for the additional four or five miles. The pipe track was laid for a comparatively small expenditure of perhaps about £400, and if brought the water right on to the contract. So much for the difficulty of providing water, which is one of the reasons put forward to justify the extravagant prices paid under the contract. I should not object if the Government did not accept the lowest tender for construction on this line so long as they accepted a tender under which the contractor would be in a position to pay fair money to those who worked for him. No one desires that the men working upon the construction of that railway shall be cut down to the last penny. All engaged upon it are entitled to be well paid for their services, whether they be workmen or contractors. But when contracts are let under the grossest form of favoritism that has ever yet obtained in our Public Service the Government should be prepared to put forward a legitimate reason for their action. Mr. Kelly put forward the reason that time was the essence of the contract. Senator Millen complained about my playing upon that statement and saying that time was money and that was the essence of the contract. The honorable senator wished to construe that statement into a charge of corruption, but I never intended any such thing. I intended to say what I did say, and that was that the only ground upon which time could be regarded as the- essence of the contract was that time was money. I can show this from the reports of the officers of the Department. I have here a letter from Mr. Deane, written not on the 9th February, when the contract was begun, and not in January, when the negotiations were entered into with Mr. Teesdale Smith. Mr. Deane writes -
I suggested, however, sonic time ago, to some mcn of experience, that they should go to Port Augusta and inspect the work, with a view to submitting prices.
Yet the Government have put forward the excuse to the general public that time was the essence of the contract, though their engineer was inviting men of experience - Mr. Falkingham amongst them, I suppose- to inspect the work. At that time there was nothing to prevent the publication of notices in the Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide newspapers of the desire of the Government to receive tenders for the construction of the line, and then every contractor would have had a fair opportunity of tendering. So that, according to an official paper laid on the table, time was not the essence of the contract. I am. aware that Mr. Kelly very cleverly tried to shift the blame on to the shoulders of the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Deane.
– He hid himself behind that officer.
– This is the Government that was going to set a better example and to restore responsible government! What is to become of our Public Service if, whenever a Department is attacked, the Minister responsible for its administration holds his officer up in front of him, and blames him for the matter complained about? The saddest aspect of Mr.Kelly’s defence is that no man could rise from reading it without feeling that, in so far as he was inclined to exonerate Mr. Kelly, he must blame Mr. Deane. No man with an open mind can rise from reading the defence of the Government without feeling that if he frees the Government he must blame their EngineerinChief.
– Hear, hear ! He is up to his neck in it.
– I say that, so far as the late Engineer-in-Chief is concerned, he is a man who has grown grey in the Public Service of the country, and he is not in this Parliament in a position to defend himself. If the Minister was so lost to a sense of his Ministerial duty as to refuse to speak for his officer, I am not inclined to join in the clamour against a man who is not in a position to defend himself.
– This is more of the freedom of the party opposite.
– This is more of their responsible government and more of their Liberalism - entrenching themselves behind their officials. As I understand it, the duty of a Minister is to be the mouthpiece of his Department in this Parliament.
– The honorable senator knows that when Mr. Kelly accepted the tender he did so on the advice of the EngineerinChief of Railways.
– But responsible government is based on the assumption that a Minister in charge of a Department is possessed of common sense.
– Mr. Kelly has admitted it, and taken the responsibility in another place.
– I do not care what his words may have been, because his action has recalled to my mind with a flash an incident which was common enough in my day at school. Boys used to be asked to hold up their hands in order to show that they were clean, and , I can remember boys wiping their hands on the backs of those in front of them, and then holding them up. Mr. Kelly has been wiping his hands on the late Engineer-in-Chief, and then holding them up to show that they are clean. We are told that we should not speak of Mr. Kelly in this way. I am speaking of Mr. Kelly, as the mouthpiece of his Department, and I want to give honorable senators an idea of how careful he is of the reputation of this Parliament. It is not long ago - it was only on the 2nd May last year - that he was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald to have delivered a typical speech at Waver ley. Now he is engaged in defending his action in entering into this infamous contract - I can call it by no other term. This is the method which he adopted when attackingno less a person than Mr. Andrew Fisher, the leader of our party. He said-
Large sums of money werebeing swallowed up in contingencies. These could not be traced. But there were other forms of extravagance. They swamin champagne at both ends of the transcontinental railway line.
– That is not true, is it?
– The honorable senator is either so tricky or so dense that he will not, or cannot, see the point I am making. I challenge the Government to point to one shilling of expenditure on the part of their predecessors which cannot be traced. Mr. Kelly added -
It was estimated that these two banquets cost £11,000. The banquet at the christening of Canberra cost £4,000, the Geelong Naval College cost £1,000. The course of the steamer could be traced by a stream of empty bottles. They took over Cockatoo Dock at which these was a banquet. What it cost no one seemed to know. But it must have cost a good deal, as they sacked a couple of hundred men the next day. The travelling allowance of Ministers, too, needed looking into. The arrangement of taking £400 a year for that purpose was agreed upon in the early days of the Federal Parliament. But at a very late sitting last night it was decided to pass an additional allowance per day for every day they were absent from Melbourne. A month or two was spent going round Australia. On one occasion there were only two Ministers looking after the affairs in Melbourne. Besides having all his expenses paid, £50 went to Mr. Thomas during his trip to the Northern Territory. While the Ministers were on tour electioneering, they were drawing these allowances. Mr. Fisher drew them, too. while ho went to Brisbane to take part in the strike.
That is the statement of Mr. Kelly, who now complains of public criticism of his blundering, or worse, in connexion with this contract.
– What portion of his statement is not true?
– Will Senator Oakes say it is true that Mr. Fisher drew his allowance when he went to Brisbane to take part in a strike? If the rules of debate permitted me to do so, I would give that statement just the abrupt Australian denial that it ought to get. That was the method of speaking which Mr. Kelly adopted when other men were in office. Yet he now complains that we cannot attack him without degrading Parliament. How long is he going to be permitted to degrade Parliament by holding Ministerial office? There is not another Government in “ Australia which would have permitted such a blunder to be passed over without demanding his resignation. But the matter is not yet finished. We are only just commencing with this trouble. We who hail from New South Wales remember the old contract system which obtained there. We have vivid recollections of the McSharry case, in which the fees of the barristers employed ran into as much as did the contract.
– And we have recollections of the Prince Alfred Hospital.
– Yes, and of the railway station contract. But I was inviting special attention to the McSharry railway contract - a contract which was entered into owing to the blunder of the Minister of Railways.
– Who was he ?
– I would not like to make a mistake, and, therefore, I do not care to incur the risk of mentioning a wrong name. But before proceeding further, I wish to point out that not only was a contract let to Mr. Teesdale Smith for one end of the transcontinental railway, but a contract for both ends of it. That undertaking Mr. Kelly afterwards withdrew. It was withdrawn months before Mr. Fisher said anything about the contract. Mr. Kelly also wrote a minute to his Department, in which he told his officials that all these contracts must be submitted to the Minister. I say that ifany good cause existed for letting a contract from the 100 miles to the 106 miles of the route, an equally good cause existed for letting a contract from the 106 miles to the 112 miles. But why did Mr. Kelly suddenly wake up to the fact that he must cancel by telegram a contract which had been deliberately entered into?
– By whom?
– By Mr. Kelly and Mr. Teesdale Smith.I would like to be perfectly sure on this matter, because Mr. Kelly, in a letter to the Crown Solicitor about this contract, said that “on the advice of Mr. Deane, he had applied the rubber stamp to it.” Mr. Deane, in his first letter, wrote -
In the event of your carrying out the foregoing work to my satisfaction, it is understood that that portion of the line between 122 and 129 miles will be carried out by you under the same conditions.
To my mind, any self-respecting Government would regard that as a contract Mr. Teesdale Smith had their assurance that if he carried out his first contract to their satisfaction he would get the contract at the other end of the line. In clause c of the draft agreement will be found the following -
That in the event of the work to be carried out, performed, and completed by the contractor under this agreement, being carried out, performed, and completed by the contractor to the satisfaction of the said Engineer-in-Chief, the parties hereto will enter into an agreement similar to this agreement in respect of that section of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway lino as lies between a distance of one hundred and twenty -two (122) miles from Port Augusta aforesaid to one hundred and twentynine (129) miles from Port Augusta.
I repeat that Mr. Kelly himself, in his letter to the Crown Solicitor, stated that he had put the rubber stamp to that agreement. I want to know how the Government are going to get out of that?
– By whom was the agreement drawn up?
– It was drawn up, I take it, either by the Crown Solicitor or the ex-Engineer-in-Chief. It was agreed to verbally in the Minister’s room in the presence of Captain Saunders, Mr. Deane, Mr. Teesdale Smith, and Mr. Kelly. The only gentleman who does not remember the matter being mentioned during the course of their conversation is Mr. Kelly. Unfortunately for the Government case, if Ministers intend to fight it in a Court, all the other parties to the conversation have put the subjectmatter of it in writing, and the Government have put it in print. Cap- tain Saunders states that when Mr. Teesdale Smith asked that the agreement . arrived at should be put in the contract, he said that the matter had been discussed in the Minister’s room. But the Minister did not say so. There was no reason for him to say so. An agreement was entered into “with Mr. Teesdale . Smith, which provided that if he satisfactorily carried out one contract he should be given the other. When Mr. Kelly wrote to the Crown Solicitor, he naked the ex-Engineer-in-Chief about the prices paid in South’ Australia, and on receipt of his assurance in regard to them ho says that he stamped his approval on the paper. This contract was kept a secret from the public for some time. That is responsible government, as Ministers understand it. Then, on the 26th February, after the Minister’s approval had been stamped on the paper, and after the contractor had been at work for eighteen days, Mr. Kelly became actively desirous of breaking his contract with Mr. Smith. He broke it most effectually. I say that the reputation of the Commonwealth Parliament is not safe in the hands of men who will break agreements merely to suit party purposes. Even if a bad bargain had been entered into I would infinitely prefer them to see it through. I would rather that “they should see it through to the bitter end than that any Australian Ministry should earn the reputation that not only their pledged word, but even their stamped contract, cannot be taken by a contractor. That leads me up to the plant that they said was needed to carry out this work. Mr. Kelly sent a telegram cancelling the contract, and Mr. Teesdale Smith immediately sent back a protest against the cancellation. I made a rough statement to-day of the plant required to carry out the contract. It was a very rough statement. I said that very little plant was required, but I actually over-estimated the amount of plant that Mr. Smith had on the job when the contract was let to him. Senator Millen was at some trouble to quote the actual value of the plant in hand, and balanced the amount at somewhere about £11,000.
– The bulk of it was purchased after the contract was signed.
– The greater part of it was, and I can produce Mr. Smith himself as an authority for that statement. In one letter to the Department he tells Mr. Kelly that he had to purchase an additional sixty draught horses, making a total of 110 in all. Senator Millen, in making up the value of the plant, put down 150 draught horses, at £30 each. Mr. Smith said that when he commenced the contract he had only fifty draught horses, and purchased sixty more. What is the use of all this stirring up of dust? When Mi». Kelly or Senator Millen start to defend themselves they recall to my mind a story that was one of the smoke-room classics when I first entered the New South Wales Parliament. It was reported that when on one occasion Mr. Carruthers was dealing with a Land Bill, Sir Henry Parkes leant over to his old lieutenant, Mr. Brunker, and said, “Listen to Joe; he always reminds me of a mole scratching up so much dust that you cannot see where he is going.” Whenever Senator Millen is dealing with anything in this House, he tries to scratch up so much dust that you cannot follow him, and the same thing may be said of Mr. Kelly.
– They are like cuttlefish.
– Yes, they throw up the inky fluid in the hope that we will lose track of them. Mr. Smith commenced the contract »with fifty draught horses to work the water-carts, tip-drays, and scoops. I venture to say that there was not much more plant required. A lot of shovels were required, and that leads me to one of the reasons why I complain of contractors’ methods, not only on that line, but on almost every other line. On that line especially I was credibly informed that every man who took a job from the contractor had to buy a shovel. One man, whose work was to drive a horse and dray, asked whether it was necessary for him to buy a shovel, but it was booked against him just the same.
– Did the men get the shovels at cost price?
– I do not know the price, but all of them had to buy shovels, and dozens of men were put off after working for but a brief time. One batch of fifty men, who signed on in Adelaide, went up there, and only three of them were still on the job when Senator Rae and I visited the spot. The rest of them had all bought their shovels, and had subsequently been put off. I would not like to say that the contractor’s manager sold those shovels again to the next men who came along, because I do not know anything about it, but the contractor supplies the men with groceries and everything else. Let me give one little illustration of this. Walking across Lake Windabout, Senator Rae scooped up a handful of salt which was as white as the driven snow. We were telling the young fellow in the boarding-house about it, and he said it was a remarkable thing that while the salt was plentiful, the store was selling it at1d. a lb., but when a shower of rain came, and melted the salt on the dry lake, the price in the store immediately rose to 2d. per lb. That is not a big thing, but it is a straw that shows the way the wind blows. It is not fair to let the Australian workman be subjected to conditions of that kind. We do not want to get the last penny, as well as the last drop of sweat, out of him. We advocate day labour, because under that system the men give the Government a fair return for their wages, and get for themselves fair conditions. I have read the clause in the agreement where thecontract was broken. Now let honorable senators listen to this -
Telegram dated26th February, 1914.
Mr. Teesdale Smith,
Marlborough Chambers,. Adelaide.
Re Engineer-in-Chief’s letter to you, dated 7th instant,, which first came to my notice yesterday, desire inform you concluding paragraph written without my authority.
For Minister of Home Affairs.
This, although he had put the rubber stamp upon it ! We all know the howls that were raised by the other side when Mr. O’Malley refused to become a rubber stamp. The rubber stamp went on this, but the Minister now claims that he did not see what he was stamping. Apparently he did not read it. Are the Government going to let the rest ofthe contract go, and make the best of a bad job, because it is a bad job? Are they going to face a costly law suit, in which all the evidence will be on the side of the contractor ?’ I do not know much about law, but I have an idea of what justice should be, and, if ever a man built up a case for a contractor, Mr. Kelly has left in the hands of Mr. Smith as perfect a case as could be made out to enable him to get, at any rate, good recompense for the extra plant that he purchased. One would almost thinkthat Senator
Millen was also trying to prove that Mr. Smith had an enormous plant. There was no occasion for him to make the statement about £11,000 worth of plant being there. The statement I made was that, at the time the contract was let, very little plant was required, and we have Mr. Smith’s telegram saying that he had purchased only sixty additional horses. He also purchased forty additional camels, and yet Senator Millen piles all these recent purchases together to make out that Mr. Kelly’s first statement - that the contract was let because the Government were in a hurry, and that, Mr. Smith had his plant waiting on the job - was true. Senator Senior has thoroughly settled the question about the plant being convenient. Mr. Timms had a much more suitable plant, but I am not going to say much about that, because I look on all contractors as being tarred with the same brush. It might be Mr. Smith this time, and Mr. Timms the next, or Mr. Timms this time, and Mr. Smith the next; but, if contracts are going to be let by Governments no better supervised than this contract has been, contractors can afford to, work together. To give another instance of the scratching up of dust to coyer their tracks, Mr. Kelly wrote a minute, on the 2nd May - when the debate was going on in the other House, and he wanted something to justify his action - to ascertain what 5 miles of this class of line had cost under Captain Saunders’ supervision, as follows -
Department of Home Affairs.
With reference to my minute of the 16th March, 1914, asking for results of latest costing under Saunders’ management for 5miles of similar country to that between 69½ miles to 92 miles, in connexion with which Mr. Teesdale Smith asked for and was refused by me a contract for earthworks, I would be glad if you would kindly advise me why the results in question have not been submitted to me. (Sgd.) W. H. KELLY.
Why did Mr. Kelly ask for the result ofthe construction by Captain Saunders from the 69½-mile post ? Why did he not ask for it from the 65 or 75-mile post? There must have been some reason, and I think it is that at the 70-mile is the hardest cutting on the line. That may be only a coincidence, and I may be drawing an unfair conclusion when I say that he asked for particulars of that stretch of line because he had been informed that the most difficult cutting, in -eluding Teesdale Smith’s contract and all the rest, was at the 70-mile post. Would he not have flaunted the figures before the House of Representatives if he had got them, and would not Senator Millen, in the clever way that he has of smothering everything over, have used them here with great effect? But they got no reply to that telegram, because there was no 5 miles of consecutive work that such a report could have been made on. Probably the difference in the figures would have been too startling to put before Parliament. The Government have appointed commissions on matters of far less importance than this. It is up to them now to appoint a commission to inquire into this contract, in the interests, not only of the Commonwealth, but of themselves. The Government have -another method of showing what is a fair contract. They asked their engineer for the cost of construction of the QueanbeyanCanberra line. This again is a -deliberate attempt to mislead both Parliament and the people. They quoted the actual figures of the cost of construction of the completed line from Queanbeyan to Canberra, and the estimated cost of construction of the Teesdale Smith earthworks. This is not a railway contract that has been let to Mr. Smith. It is a contract for only the flimsiest of earthworks. There is no permanent way. There are no rails or sleepers or ballast tin it. There are no bridges or culverts, Even the smallest culvert made with Monier pipes has to be put in by the Government. All that Smith has to do is to throw the earth over it. The Government gave the actual figures as £6,000 odd per mile for the Queanbeyan”Canberra railway, and say that as this line is estimated to cost the same per mile the contract cannot be such a bad one. Senator Rae and myself, in our desire for the truth, walked over the short distance of the QueanbeyanCanberra railway, and there can be ho comparison between the country that has been gone through there and the country where this contract has been let. On the Canberra line there are quite a number of really hard’ cuttings. There is no really hard cutting from end to end of “Mr. Smith’s contract. There is cutting after cutting in the Canberra contract where the plough could not be used, and where drilling and shooting had to be used to get the stone away. The line goes through hilly country, and we saw culvert after culvert. It is not a case of a few Monier pipes put down in country where there is comparatively, little rainfall, but big concrete and cement culverts in country where there is a heavy rainfall, to carry away the torrents that come down from the hills. There are four or five overhead bridges with steel girders and elaborately made earthworks leading up to them, and one bridge of 60 ft. or 70 ft. spanning a stream. There is nothing like this on the transcontinental railway. The cost of all this work is included in the £6,000 per mile of the Canberra contract, yet both .Senator Millen and Mr. Kelly used that line to justify the cost of the Teesdale Smith contract. Mr. Kelly actually published the Canberra figures in the official file to mislead people who did not know any better. He says, “ These two lines cost about the same, and so this must be a fair deal.” That is a deliberate attempt to mislead Parliament and the people. There can be no other reason for it. It is paltering with questions like this that raises a suspicion of corruption in the minds of the people. If a blunder has been made, the Australian public are sufficiently generous to forget it and forgive the blunder, but they will not forgive a Minister who attempts to justify his blunder by spreading false information and comparing railways where there is no proper or fair basis of comparison. I saw nothing on the’ whole of the Teesdale Smith contract that, as regards hardness, compared with any cutting on the Canberra railway. Besides, on the Teesdale Smith - contract there are no culverts, embankments, and overhead bridges to be made. Now we get to the actual cost o’f the construction of railways. Senator Senior has quoted the cost of earthworks, which ran to less than £500 a mile in some cases. Many miles of railway lines have been constructed in Queeusland and other States, and the reports in respect of these lines show that the earthworks, the sleepers, the rails, the sidings, the signalboxes, and the railway stations .cost less per mile than the Commonwealth is paying for a little bit of earthwork on the transcontinental line. It has let a contract for a little more than 14 miles to Mr. Teesdale Smith at a cost of £41,600. We know from Mr. Kelly’s statement that 3 miles and 57 chains, of the Hue cost less than £700. Therefore, there is a distance of nearly 11 miles costing £41,000, or about £3,700 per mile, but no sleepers have been put down, no rails, plates, and ballast have been laid, no platform or railway station has been built, no signal-box and apparatus have been fixed. Already the flimsiest piece of earthwork imaginable has cost £3,700 a mile.
– That is £2,000 a mile j more than the Pinnaroo line cost to be completed.
– Exactly. As we have had some figures placed before us, I would like to quote the cost of railway construction in Queensland, because the figures are always interesting. According to the Queensland Ilansard of the 25th September, 1912, when Supply was being asked for, a statement on the subject was made by the Secretary for Railways in these words -
I am handing in, for the information of honorable members, “a return prepared in 1897 for the then Chief Engineer of all railways built by him under contract between 1881 and 1893. “The total expenditure was £5,491,720, the mileage 1,144.94, and the average cost per mile £4,796.
This return includes all railways built between 1881 and 1896 in the southern division, a few in the central division, but none in the northern division, as the central division was only taken over by the then Chief Engineer in 1887, and the northern division in 1892.
A return has been prepared by mc of all railways built by day labour since its inception in 1900 up to 1911.
The total expenditure was £3,413,249, the mileage 1,144.59, and the average cost per mile £2,982.”
Eleven hundred miles of Queensland railways were completed, lock, stock, and barrel, under the day-labour system at the rate of £2,962 per mile, or, roughly, £1,000 a mile less than Mr. Teesdale Smith is getting for throwing up earthworks, especially if we leave out of the calculation the 3A miles of earthworks which he threw up at a cost of under £700. Here is a chance afforded to us, from the contractor’s stand-point, of measuring the value of the work on this line. Mr. Teesdale Smith gets 45s. a chain for the embankments on level country, or the cuttings if they are about a foot deep, and the embankments on which they lay the sleepers are about a foot high. One can safely say that in every yard of railway there are two yards of material if the embankments are a foot high. We can safely say, too, that there are more than 45 yards of material in each chain of formation, and if that quantity is done for 45s., roughly, it is a shilling a yard for that kind of work, and it is good money to pay for it, too. That is a fair estimate of the cost of the line from Port Augusta. All these cuttings that can be ploughed and scooped out and thrown from the cutting right on to the embankment with shovels, when levelling off at the bottom, can be easily done at that price. I may tell Mr. Kelly that I based my figures on that price when I said that the contractor would make £1,000 a week for his trouble.
– Under day labour it can be done for 15s. lOd. a chain.
– As the honorable senator interjects, on this line that kind of formation has been completed at 15s. lOd. a chain. There is no getting away from these facts. Although Mr. Teesdale Smith is getting three times per chain what it would cost to do the work with day labour, he is still getting the exorbitant price of 4s. 6d. a yard for the cuttings and 2s. 6d. a yard for depositing the material. In the electorate represented by Mr. Kelly, who gave this contract to Mr. Smith, I can get a load of pure sand delivered for 2s. 6d., and the supplier may have several miles to go for the load; but Mr. Kelly is too big a man to know anything of this. In a recent debate he was referred to as a man who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It would not surprise me to hear that he was born with a silver shovel in his mouth, because ‘ he appears to have inherited a good deal of love for the contractors. Im Queensland the average cost of railway construction per mile between 1881 and 1893 was £2,982. The return continues -
This return includes all railways built throughout the State during these years. The total difference in expenditure is £2,078,471 in favour of day labour.
The average cost per mile is £1,814 per mile in favour of day labour.
A list of the railways is given, and the actual cost per mile is stated. I will content myself with citing a few cases to buttress my statement that Mr. Teesdale Smith is making at least £1,000 a week on his contract.
– Under day labour in Queensland during the last few years they have paid much higher .wages than were ever paid under contract.
– Yes ; they have paid excellent wages, I understand.
Kilkivan-Coolabunia, 55 miles, £2,652 per mile.
Esk-Colinton, 16 miles, £2,686 per mile. Redbank and Bundamba Loops, 6 miles, £2,568 per mile.
Degilbo-Wetheron, 21 miles, £1,800 per mile.
The print is really too small for me to read, but a list of the railways constructed by day labour in Queensland may be seen on page 1292 of Hansard, vol. 112. It shows the cost of constructing a railway - lock, stock, and barrel - and I believe that in some cases the rolling-stock is included in the figures. But the Commonwealth Government let a contract for earthworks at £3,700 a mile where there is nothing else to do but to dig out the cutting and dump the earth into the embankment - no culverts to be made, no bridges to be constructed. The Government have to put in the smallest culvert. When Mr. Teesdale Smith bought up their camels to carry the Monier pipes, the Government found that he could “simply leave his banks ready for the culverts to come in, because they had no camels. He bought two teams. I said that he paid £680 and £610, and Senator Millen pointed out that they were worth only £340 each. The difference is, to some extent, accounted for by the fact that there were sixteen camels in each lot that Mr. Smith purchased, and, as he makes the camels into teams of ten, so far as price is concerned we need not dispute as to what they cost. What do honorable senators think of the business capacity of the Government who, having engaged a plant to carry their stores, as soon as they let a contract to a contractor, immediately put him in the position of doing what any other business man would do, and that is buying the camels over their heads, and leaving them to wait or to go elsewhere to get camels to carry their goods and other requisites? The Government have put up several excuses for letting this contract. The first excuse they offered was that time was the essence of the contract, but that is shown not to be the case by the report of the officer who said that he invited several men to visit the line and give him a price. The next excuse of the Government was that Mr. Teesdale Smith had a huge plant waiting, and therefore he could do the work quickly, but that is disproved by the fact, as the correspondence bears out, that he had only fifty horses when he started the contract.
– And they were 400 miles away.
– But even after he had been working on the contract for some time he had only fifty horses, because when Mr. Kelly cancelled the contract by wire he sent word back that he then had 110, having purchased sixty additional draught horses. What is the use of talking about the contractor having a huge plant idle and a chance to get the work done quickly? The third point is that even when the contract time was up on the 9th May, the plates that have been laid by the Commonwealth Government were not” within 10 miles of portion of the contract. So far as my information goes, and I believe it to be correct, .on the 9th May the railway plates were at the 82-mile peg. The contract began 10 miles from that peg. Yet time was the essence of the contract. If we have proved all the statements of Ministers to be wrong, does this Government, which came in to restore responsible government and set a better example, intend to continue to sit idly in their place, and think that the public are going to take them at their face value, and not put some construction on their actions? The most serious thing which Mr. Kelly has to explain is why he cancelled the second part of the contract, and let it be remembered that this was done before Mr. Fisher made any reference to the matter. Mr. Kelly says it was done weeks or months before thatevent. There must have been some reason for Mr. Kelly taking a most drastic action. My opinion on a matter of law may not be worth much, but here is Mr. Kelly, in his off-hand way, saying, “ We cancelled the rubber stamp I put on the agreement.” I would like to know if the Minister believes that it does cancel the rubber stamp ?
– Does the AttorneyGeneral think so ?
– I have not heard the Attorney-General’s opinion on this contract, but I have read the statements of all the men who are interested in it. Mr. Deane ‘drafted the contract, and Mr. Saunders was present when the oral arrangement was made. Mr. Deane, Mr. Saunders, and Mr. Teesdale Smith gave one version of the matter, and that was that the Minister consented to it, and the Minister’s rubber stamp on the contract furnishes the proof that he did.
Hero we have a Government indolently drifting into a lawsuit, or into the purchase of Mr. Smith’s plant at such a figure that it will relieve him of any expenditure in connexion with the construction of the railway. I only want now to touch on the question of tlie plant. If the railway is to he continued, the camels Mr. Smith has purchased will be necessary, and the acquisition of the water pipes he has laid will be a good bargain for the Government to make, because otherwise they will have to lay fresh pipes or cart water 4 miles over sandy country. There is no extraordinary expenditure on the part of Mr. Smith which justified the statement of Mr. Kelly that time was the essence of the contract.
– And that it was the expense of getting water there.
– I admit that there was difficulty in getting water, but- 110 extraordinary difficulties had to be grappled with. It was the ordinary difficulty of carting the water for 4i miles from the beginning of the contract. Camels were used for the purpose, and they carry a pannier on each side which holds 30 gallons. Each camel, therefore, would carry 60 gallons; and the water could be carted almost as cheaply as it is carted from a creek up to cuttings on ordinary railways. Mr. Teesdale Smith appeared to think that lie had a right to get the contract at a price sufficiently high to enable him to set the whole value of his plant against the contract, and that the people of the Commonwealth should pay for it. The more he gets for the plant when he sells it, the more he will make out of the contract, witu £4,000 or £5,000 besides. If it be true, as Senator Millen has said, that Mr. Smith’s plant is worth £11,000. and he is going to make £4,000 ov £5,000 besides, I venture to say that, according to Mr. Smith’s own statement, my estimate that he would make £1,000 a week for every week he was engaged on the contract will not be very far out. I rose to speak chiefly on the subject of the railway contract, because I have tried to make myself acquainted with the facts. I say that no worse bargain was ever made for the people of the Commonwealth by any Government in letting a contract: and no more reckless methods of dealing with contracts were ever adopted than are shown by the papers that have been adopted in this case. There appears to have been no management in the business at all. So far as the Government are concerned, the whole thing rests upon the fact that an inexperienced Minister, who was without any knowledge of what it costs to construct railways, was allowed by his chief, Mr. Cook, the real Minister of Home Affairs, to enter into negotiations with the contractor in the presence of engineers. I do not wish to infer that there were any secret meetings with the contractor. One very good reason why I am careful never to infer anything like that is that there is no means of proving: it. No opportunity is afforded to any one to prove the holding of secret interviews.
– The suppression of’ Timms’ offer seems very “ fishy.”
- Mr. Timmsevidently made an effort to get a share in, the work, or to be allowed to send in prices for it; but, unfortunately, he was* shut out through the forgetfulness of th& late Engineer-in-Chief.
– Did Mr. Deanereally forget ?
– It was not th& forgetfulness of the Engineer-in-Chief:,, but the cuteness of Mr. Teesdale Smith.
– So far as the late Engineer-in-Chief is concerned, as Senator Rae has said, we have all forgotten something at some time; but if the. Government had adopted the system oft calling for tenders there could have been no question of forgetfulness. A daywould have been fixed for the receipt of all tenders, and every man who put in. a> tender in accordance with the conditions: would have had it considered. It is im this respect that the Government havefailed. That is a serious charge against them. They have put words into themouth of the Governor-General to indicate that it is their intention to introduce a Bill to prevent preference to unionists, or favoritism; and yet, according to thepapers that have been tabled in connexion with this contract, they have themselves been guilty of gross favoritism in the letting of - it, and of giving one contractor preference over another. They have been proved guilty of the favoritism of inviting certain gentlemen who had experience of this kind of work to inspect the railway that they might put in prices, and whilst Mr. Falkingham and’ one or two others were inspecting therailway, every other contractor in theCommonwealth might have had the plans and specifications before him, so that he would have an opportunity of entering a tender for the construction of the work.
– Falkingham , was a dummy, I believe.
– So far as the contractors are concerned, I have no quarrel with them. It is the nature of all contractors, when they see the chance, to secure a fat contract to get pickings out of it. I am blaming the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Joseph Cook, who, during the whole debate upon this question - I will not say remained silent, because he did say a word or two in defence of Mr. Kelly - should have been defeuding himself. He holds the responsible position of Minister of Home Affairs, whilst Mr. Kelly is merely the Assistant Minister. Cook hides behind Kelly, Kelly behind Deane, and Deane behind a bad memory. So the hiding process goes on, until it is impossible to say who the real culprit is. We never shall find these things out until we have men sent to Parliament who will not merely boast of their freedom, but will give effect to it by their actions. The members of the party opposite boast that they do not necessarily follow their leader, but, by some strange coincidence, they appear to be unanimously of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with this contract. They said so in another place, and I have no doubt when we come to the vote here, the whole of the party on the opposite bench - and I use the expression in the widest sense, because there ave not many of them–
– The honorable senator means the whole three of them.
– Yes; the whole three of them will be found supporting the Government. We have proved beyond dispute that an extravagant price was being paid to the contractor. They do not defend the position of the Government, because they cannot do so, but they will vote solidly for the Government who lead them, because they have to do so. They will further have the effrontery a week hence to go upon a public platform and accuse honorable senators on this side of being bound by the caucus pledge to act solidly together. What is the strange tie which makes those who claim to be independent men act and think alike upon matters of this kind ?
– They have to do what the press tells them.
– The press is one of the slave-drivers of the party opposite, but we on this side do not fear the press. I am told that some of the party opposite have stopped taking the Aye since Saturday morning last. The Aye flogs them when it suits; and when they think there is a chance of injuring us, the writers of the Aye turn their guns upon the party on this side. The Teesdale Smith contract has not been justified by any statement of a member of the Government or of a supporter of the Government. I said earlier in my remarks that the saddest feature of Mr. Kelly’s defence is that upon reading it the more you feel disposed to say that Mr. Kelly is not to blame, the more the conclusion will force itself upon you that the late Engineer-in-Chief is. That is a false position for any Minister to put a public servant in. Mr. Kelly became aware that there was something wrong about the business even before Mr. Fisher heard anything about it. That is shown by the fact that he wrote a certain minute to his officers in which he uses the expression “ on account of irregularities.” He has not yet made public what those irregularities were. There is proof throughout the papers that there is something still being kept back in connexion with this contract which the general public know nothing about. We had Mr.’ Kelly wiring to know, the cost from the 69A-mile when he knew that there were hard cuttings for the next 5 miles, with the hope that the information would justify what had been- done. I thank honorable senators for the patience with which they have listened to my remarks. I shall vote with Senator Rae on the amendment he has submitted. I think it is up to us to censure the Government. We ought, of course, to thank His Excellency the Governor-General for the Speech, but we should censure his Ministers. I point out that the Government are deserving of censure in another respect, for having used the opening Speech to put their platitudes into the mouth, of the Governor-General, and make him say that one of the Bills they intend to introduce is to prevent preference and favoritism to unionists. It is bad enough for Ministers to say that kind of thing, and they should not have made the Governor-General speak in that way..
This is another glaring example of the way in which the present Government intend to restore responsible government. During the election campaign I used to feel annoyed on reading the speeches of members of the opposite party, but I begin now to think that they did not know any better, that they are doing the best they can, and ought to be pitied rather than blamed. So far as legislation is concerned, they have proved to be a failure. They have never attempted to carry out one of the promises they made to the public. The press gag was to be removed from the Electoral Act, but the Government have never introduced a Bill to remove it. The cost of living was to be brought down. I could go into the electorates and bring a number of placards inviting the electors to vote for the Liberal candidate and cheaper living. What have the Government done to make living cheaper? The farmers were appealed to to “Vote for the Liberal candidates, the friends of the farmer.” The Government have been nearly twelve months in office, and what have they done for the farmers? There was a measure in connexion with which we were willing to assist them, but they have laid it aside in the hope that they can still fool the farmers into supporting them. When have the members of the Liberal party been the friends of the farmers’? When the referenda “proposals were being discussed in the country, the people were told that there were no trusts and combines to be dreaded in the Commonwealth. Now the Government are beginning to realize that there are trusts and combines, and that they are dipping a little more deeply into the pockets of the people. They propose to introduce some namby-pamby legislation to prevent it. It is as well to wait for results before prophesying, but I venture to say that honorable senators opposite will have great difficulty in explaining to the levelheaded farmer how it is that the farmers’ friends have done nothing whatever to assist them during their term of office. From every platform they stated that the Government were going to reduce the cost of living, and though they have had nearly twelve months of office, they have made no move in that direction.
– How could they, when the Senate threw out all their Bills ?
– Hear, hear!
– From the way in which Senator Oakes cheered that ironical interjection, I have not the slightest doubt that that is the line the party opposite will take in order to again mislead and fool the people. They will say that we threw out their legislation. But I challenge the Government now, as I did last December, to bring forward legislation to make living cheaper. I doubt whether there is any more vicious party fighter on this side than I am, but whilst I am a strong party man, I say that if the Government will introduce legislation to make living cheaper I shall support it. If they will introduce legislation to make the lot of the farmer better I shall support that. They are, however, snug in office, and sitting comfortably upon the Treasury bench, and we now hear no talk from them of legislation to improve the condition of the farmer, or to make living cheaper. Let Senator Oakes visit the great city of Sydney in the State that he represents, and compare the price of meat to-day with what it was when he was elected to this Parliament.
– The honorable senator forgets that there is a Labour Government installed in that State.
– I recognise that, and I tell the honorable senator that if the Labour Government in the State Parliament to-morrow introduced legislation to deal with the Beef Trust, beef would become a very dear commodity in New South Wales.
– According to Mr. Page, a member of the Labour party in another place, that is not so.
– I do not know what Mr. Page has said. The honorable senator is raising a side issue. I remember that when he was addressing the Senate, and quoting speeches said to have been made by Mr. Fisher, Senator Turley time after time asked him to give the date of the speeches. The honorable senator said, “ I will do so later on.” I hope that when he is replying he will, for the sake of his own reputation, give us the date of those speeches.
– I think I shall oblige the honorable senator.
– I do not wish to drift into another speech, as I think it ie about time the Senate adjourned after its arduous duties to-day.
– The honorable senator has done very well.
– After that admission from the honorable senator, I shall sit down at once.
Debate (on motion by Senator Buzacott) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am glad that the Minister of Defence has arrived on the battlefield, because I want to bring under his notice a matter which, in my opinion, involves a breach of the Defence Act. I learn from a report which appears in a Sydney newspaper that -
Defaulting cadets were dealt with yesterday at the Water Police Court by Mr. Clarke, S.M. A boy, not much taller than a rifle, admitted having worn a uniform when not going to or from parade. Captain Blair Swannell, prosecuting officer, said he met the boy in the street wearing a military shirt. The lad told the magistrate that the shirt formerly belonged to his brother, but it had been condemned and discarded, andhethought there would be no harm in wearing it. Captain Swannell agreed that it was an old shirt, The boy was fined 2s. 6d., with 3s. costs.
In 1912 I had the pleasure of moving an amendment in the Defence Bill, which was supported by the Minister of the day, and which affirmed that children should not be dragged before the Police Courts. That amendment was carried. Yet, apparently, a lad only about 3 ft. 6 in. high has been haled before the Court, and has been fined for wearing a discarded military shirt. As a matter of fact,I believe that the military authorities themselves sell these discarded garments. I wish now to say a few words about Captain Blair Swannell, the prosecuting officer who brought this poor, puny lad before the Police Court. That officer was never any good to this country. He came out here as a footballer - an English footballer. He afterwards became a referee. They could not find him a job, so they made him a paid secretary of the Rugby Union. That union struck hard times, and could not afford to pay a secretary. Captain Swannell, consequently, had to find something else to do, and they made him an area officer.
– Whom does the honorable senator mean by “they”?
– I am not accusing the Minister of Defence of having appointed him. Captain Blair Swannell should be asked to go and find work, instead of walking along the street to discover a poor, unfortunate child clothed in a worn-out military shirt. The magistrate who fined the lad, in the face of what he was told, ought to be placed in the same position. I know that these magistrates have a lot of work to do. They really have not time to deal with these cases. As a matter of fact, the same report from which I have quoted relates how one magistrate actually fined the wrong boy. I would like the Minister to make inquiries into this case.. I have always held that it is a crying shame that children should be dragged before our Police Court. They should be dealt with by the Children’s Courts. I ask the Minister to make inquiries into the matter, with a view to seeing that effect is given to that portion of our Defence Act which was amended on my initiative in 1912.
– I shall have pleasure in acceding to the request of the honorable senator by making inquiries into the matter he has mentioned. I have been putting in a good deal of time lately making inquiries upon the suggestion of the honorable senator. But, in regard to this particular case, I regret that he expressed himself in quite the terms he has done, because I take it that he knows nothing more than I do about the matter which is set out in the newspaper report which he quoted. Senator McDougall is quite old enough, both as a man and as a politician, to accept with some reserve statements of that kind appearing in the public prints. He must recognise that some restriction has to be placed upon the use of Government property. Although I know nothing of this particular case, I think it is highly probable that some infringement of that section of the Act relating to the use of Government property, has been detected. Evidently the magistrate thought the case had been proved, but that it was one which would be met by an extremely nominal fine. I regret that the honorable senator should have used this case to reflect upon an Area Officer, because that officer was under an obligation - if he saw property belonging to the Commonwealth being illegally used - to take steps to have the matter inquired into.
– That was what he did in regard to the flags that were used on one occasion.
– I know nothing about that. It almost seems as if this officer and Senator McDougall had been playing football on their own account. However, I will cause inquiries to be made into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140520_senate_5_73/>.