5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Labour Dispute - Mr. Tee sd ale Smith’s Contract.
– Referring to the industrial trouble at the western end of the trans-Australian railway, have the Government employed free labour there to take the place of the men who have ceased work in connexion with the dispute,or is it their intention to do so?
– I have not heard of such being done. I have no knowledge of the matter.
– I should like, if it is possible, to get a more definite answer to the inquiry. Is it the intention of the Government to resume the construction of the line with so-called free labour, as is reported through the press ? This is an important matter.
– If the honorable senator will be kind enough to give notice of a question I shall obtain a reply.
– Can the Government see their way to include the twenty-one men, who I am officially informed are working at the depot at Kalgoorlie, in the Government’s offer of arbitration in regard to the 12s. 6d. per day minimum ?
– These are matters of which. I have no personal knowledge. I shall make inquiry and let the honorable senator know.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Did Mr. Kelly, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, put the rubber-stamp to an agreement with Mr. Teesdale Smith, in which the following paragraph appears: - “ 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 line as lies between a distance of One hundred and twenty -two (122) miles from Port Augusta aforesaid to One hundred and twenty-nine (120) miles from Port Augusta”?
– The honorable senator is in error in assuming that a rubber stamp can effect a valid execution of a legal document, but I am able to assure) the honorable senator that Mr. Kelly has neither authorized nor signed a document containing any such clause as that quoted in his question.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs any information in regard to the question asked on the 14th May in regard to the action of the Electoral Registrars at St. Arnaud and Shepparton?
– I sent the papers on to the proper quarter, and the replies are not yet to hand. I shall make further inquiry about the matter.
Director of Physical Training:
Schools of Instruction- Shall Arms Factory : Apprentices - Administrative and Instructional Staff
– Arising out of the answer which the Minister of Defence gave, on the 13th May, to a question by Senator Barker, in connexion with the appointment of Mr. Petersen as Director of Physical Training for the Commonwealth, has he any statement to make in connexion with the case, and, if not, will he immediately he has come to a decision in regard to the dual position held by Mr. Petersen as Director of Physical Training, make available the whole of the papers in connexion with the deputation of the Association of Physical Culture Instructors who waited on him on the 17th September, 1913? Secondly, what time has actually been given by Mr. Petersen to the Defence Department? Thirdly, will the Minister supply a list showing approximately the details, of the duties performed by Mr. Petersen since his appointment?
– It will be obvious to the honorable senator, and to the Senate, that certain information is being sought which I could not possibly supply at the present moment. I suggest, therefore) that the honorable senator should either let me know privately the information he seeks, or put a question in the ordinary way. On the main question, I should like to say that the Board is now making a recommendation to me for a continuance of these duties, and as soon as a decision is arrived at, possibly within the next few days, I shall make the Senate acquainted with it.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence a question about regulation 21b under the Defence Act, whereby the Department established schools of instruction for noncommissioned officers to receive their promotion as instructors, and men who have had experience in the Imperial Army and have been exempted from the instruction. Is it the intention of the Minister to abolish, or has he already abolished, such schools, to enable the Australian men to qualify for such positions ?
– There is now before the Senate a Bill dealing with this very matter.
– Has the Minister of Defence received any suggestion for the adoption of an apprenticeship system to apply to the youths employed in the’ Lithgow Small Arms Factory; and, if so, does he intend to take any action in regard thereto?
– I have received a letter from the secretary of one of the unions, members of which are employed at the Lithgow factory, offering me a scheme of apprenticeship. I have replied that in consequence of an arrangement I made with the representatives of that union some time ago, and in which they agreed to co-operate with the view of submitting the conditions of employment at the factory to the Federal tribunal in order to obtain one award to cover the whole industry, it does not appear to me desirable to anticipate that reference and deal with portions of certain of the conditions of employment there.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
How many lieutenants on the Administrative and Instructional Staff are at present holding the temporary rank of captain? 2. (a) For how lone has each held the temporary rank ?
If vacancies for promotion do not exist, will the Government make provision for such promotions in the immediate future, so that these officers will receive equitable remuneration for the work performed by them?
– The answers are -
Thirteen; but of these three are now being promoted to substantive captain. 2.(a) One from 1st February, 1911 ; seven from 1st February, 1912; and five from 1st January, 1913.
The question of the filling of the remaining vacancies for which provision exists is now under consideration. Further promotions will be a matter for consideration when the estimates for next year are being framed.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Why have same not been paid?
– The answers are -
Claims for Horse Allowance
There are no claims for horse allowance outstanding except with regard to three warrant and non-commissioned officers whose cases are now being considered by the Military Board.
Claims for Travelling Allowance
It appears that some officers, warrant and non-commissioned officers of the Instructional Staff, accompanied the advance parties of the Militia Forces to a recent camp, and as no rations were issued, they, as well as the Militia advance parties, were paid an allowance of1s. per meal in lieu of rations.
A request has, however, recently been received from the District Military Commandant, Adelaide, that the officers, warrant and noncommissioned officers of the Instructional Staff, be granted an allowance of 2s. per meal, but as this involves a principle which will apply to the Instructional Staff throughout Australia, it has been found necessary to institute further inquiries before a decision can be arrived at.
Captain Page, Lieutenant Viney, Warrant Officers Marshall, Bead, Denniston, and Creaney, Staff Sergeant-Majors Maskell, Martin, Darling, Fox, Osborne, Kennyon, and Pope
It cannot be said there is anything due to these officers, &c.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the . Government been drawn to the following report in to-day’s Argus of a meeting held at a very important place called Gunyah, in Victoria : -
” CEASE SITTING.”
Appeal to Parliament
Gunyah, Tuesday. - At a meeting of the Gunyah Progress Association the following resolution was passed: - “ Seeing that the Federal Parliament has done nothing useful for the past two years, this meeting of the Gunyah Progress Association respectfully asks the members of Parliament to cease sitting for two days and to vote the money thus saved to constructing a good road from Boolara to Gunyali, as such a road would result in thousands of acres now closed to traffic in the winter being made productive, and would open up for the Commonwealth a permanent source of agricultural and pastoral wealth.”
Seeing that the Government are so strongly in favour of assisting the farmers and the agricultural and pastoral interests, Will they take into consideration the recommendation from the Gunyah Progress Association?
– I have noticed the paragraph in question, and I must say that I was struck with admiration at the power of observation and correct analysis displayed by the members of the Progress Association.
– What about the recommendation - will you cease sitting and vote the money?
– Sooner than you want.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Of that total how much is represented by the following?
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral of New South Wales has furnished the following information: -
The total value of stamps sold in New South Wales for the twelve months ended 31st May last was £1,205,236. 2. (a) Stamps sold direct to the general public, including stamps issued to vendors without commission, for the same period, £984,467.
– Senator Keating asked a question some time ago as to facilities afforded at the Launceston wharf for the reception of late letters. I have the following reply from the Post and Telegraph Department: -
Sir, - In continuation of my communication of even date, relative to inquiries made by Senator Keating respecting the facilities for the reception of late letters at the Launceston wharf, I beg to inform you that the following is a copy of a further telegram which has been received from the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Hobart, in regard to the matter, viz.: - “ Although ships’ loose letter-box not available on days tender connecting at Rosevears captain stands at gangway with bag and collects late letters which he hands to pursers atRosevears. Have interviewed managers both companies who will arrange for Loongana and Rotomahana boxes to be left with tender for conveyance toRosebears in future.” - Yours faithfully, Justinian Oxenham.
The following papers were presented: -
Defence Act 1903-1912.- Military Forces- Financial and Allowance Regulations amended, &c- Statutory Rules 1914. No. 52. ‘
Lands Acquisition Act 1906.- Land acquired under, at -
Burra, South Australia- For Defence purposes.
Queanbeyan, Federal Territory- For Federal Capital purposes.
Yeronga, Queensland- For Postal purposes.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906, and Northern Territory Lands Acquisition Ordinance 1011. - Land acquired under, at - Darwin, Northern Territory - For Public Workshops purposes.
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912.- Naval Forces- Financial and Allowance Regulations amended.- StatutoryRules 1914, No 50
Public Service Act 1902-1913-
Department of the Treasury.- Promotion of H. W. Buckley as Clerk, 4th Class, Land Tax Branch, Central Staff.
Postmaster-General’s Department. - Appointment of A. E. Taylor and R. A. Turner to new positions of Droughtsman, Class F, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, New South Wales.
Debate resumed from 28th May (vide page 1590), on motion by Senator Oakes as amended-
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. 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.
Upon which Senator Rae had moved -
That the following words be added: - “ 2. 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.” “ 3. 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 States of the Commonwealth, and is deserving of the severest censure.”
.- . I desire to say a few words upon paragraphs 10 and 11 appearing in the GovernorGeneral’s Opening Speech. In paragraph 10 it is stated -
My Advisers hope to place before you a proposal for co-operation of the Commonwealth with the States with regard to immigration.
I think it is nearly time that the people of Australia spoke, through their Commonwealth Parliament, on this question. The party I Belong to has been charged time and again by gentlemen on the other side with opposing the immigration of any people into this country. As a matter of fact, the members of the Labour party are very much alive to the needs of Australia, and well aware that there must be a very considerable addition to its population before it is in a position to become very cheeky to any of the big foreign nations. People are encouraged to come to this country by having it explained to them that there are opportunities for their advancement in Australia that are not to be found elsewhere.
– That is what is done. They are given a lot of hope, but no work.
– Just so. The State Governments, and particularly the Government of Victoria, are at present landing thousands of people in Australia, although we find in the newspapers every day evidence of the fact that there are thousands of men out of work in Melbourne and in other parts of the State. Only last week the daily press informed us that at a meeting of the unemployed in Melbourne “there were 3,000 men present. It is easy to understand that if 3,000 of the unemployed can be got to attend a meeting in Melbourne, there are many more thousands walking about in this city, and in various parts of the State, looking for work which they are unable to obtain. I had occasion only last week to address a meeting of unemployed at Ballarat, which is always a grievous thing for any one to have to do. Though there are thousands of people out of work in this State, the party represented by honorable senators opposite are following a course which is calculated to intensify the evil of unemployment.
– May I tell the honorable senator that the Minister for Public Works in Victoria, Mr. Hagelthorn, stated that at the end of last week there were 2,801 unemployed registered at the Labour Bureau in Melbourne?
– That statement’ has already been published in the daily press, and also another one to the effect that there are 800 more men registered at the Labour Bureau in Melbourne today than were registered there last month. The party which is continually advocating the flooding of Australia with surplus labour appears to have found, out that tlie immigrants, upon their arrival here, expect to strike a land flowing with milk and honey.
– Do not the Victorian Government pay their immigration agents in England £1 per head for the immigrants they obtain ?
– Yes. That is the amount which they pay .them to dump all sorts of immigrants on the ships for Australia. In the circumstances, it is understandable how anxious the agents are to send only persons of the right type to this country. It has, however, dawned upon the Conservatives that the immigrants whom they have been securing from the Old Land qualify for a vote soon after their arrival here, and that they avail themselves of the first opportunity to retaliate by voting against the party whose agents have made such misleading statements to them. That circumstance is exercising a salutary effect upon my honorable frends opposite, and consequently they are now turning their attention to securing from abroad individuals who have no votes. Formerly they were in the habit of landing hundreds of farm labourers in Australia, but the latter quickly qualified as electors, so that the Conservatives are now chiefly concerned about bringing only boys to this country. The lads are landed here at about fifteen years of age, and they cannot retaliate by fighting back against the Conservative party on election day for some years afterwards. Only the week before last 550 boys were landed in Victoria, and they are supposed to fill the bill in regard to shortage of labour on the farms of Aus tralia. Any man who takes train into the country will see hundreds of men carrying their swags. Only this morning, in coming from Ballarat, I counted no fewer than twenty of them. That is sufficiently indicative of the number of unemployed there are in this country. It was only to be expected that there would be openings for a certain number of persons from oversea. But the truth is that the country has been so woefully misgoverned that the avenues of employment which ordinarily should be open have been closed. Only the other day a landowner who holds 11,600 acres a little beyond Bacchus Marsh - some of the best land in Victoria - stated that he employs only three men, and that he is likely to employ less. Whilst such a state of things exists, there is not much likelihood of our being able to absorb many persons from oversea. Of course, it is quite understandable that those who desire to exploit labour are naturally desirous of keeping a stock of surplus labour everywhere. But, to my mind, it is very much better for a few employers to lack a sufficient number of employes than that thousands of men should be unemployed. I hope that, in the immediate future, prospective immigrants from oversea will be made thoroughly familiar with the conditions which obtain here. Paragraph 11 of the Governor-General’s Speech says -
A Bill will hu introduced giving additional powers of control over combines affecting or likely to affect injuriously the trade and commerce of Australia.
That statement indicates clearly enough that the Government have somersaulted on this question. I recollect that when we asked that this Parliament should be endowed with greater power to control trusts and combines which were affecting, . or likely to affect, the welfare of the people, we were told that there were no combinations which were acting injuriously to the public interests, and that, even if there were, the powers already possessed by Parliament were sufficient to deal with them. I remember that the same statements were repeated in the daily press, which assured the electors again and again that there was no need for an alteration of the Constitution, because the legislative powers of this Parliament were adequate to cope with any such evil.
– They have been saying that for years.
– Yes, but in the long run they have been forced to acknowledge the truth of the statements put forward by the Labour party. During the last election campaign, too, my honorable friends opposite urged that the Labour party bad not attempted to reduce the cost of living. They told the electors that if they were returned to office they would see that it was reduced. Yet, although they have been installed in office twelve mouths, we find that the cost of living has still further increased. As a matter of fact, it is daily increasing. Meat, butter, and bread are continually rising in price, and the Government are making no effort to alter this condition of affairs. I confess that I am not altogether sorry that they are inactive, because these things will discredit them before the people. I would now like to say a few words about the so-called test Bills, of which we have heard so much of late. Last week one of these measures met with an extremely sudden end in this Senate. So far, we have had no indication that the Government are as anxious to secure a double dissolution as they had previously professed themselves to be. We have been told that they were prepared to rush off to the GovernorGeneral immediately, and that they would drag the Labour party before the country at any cost. But, although the Government Preference Prohibition Bill met with the fate which I have outlined, Ministers have not exhibited a consuming anxiety for the dissolution about which they have talked so glibly. Among the charges levelled against the Labour party during the last election was one that we had persistently pursued the policy of spoils to the victors. This asser- ti mi would lead any one who did . not know the circumstances to believe that as soon as we obtained power, and found ourselves in a position to do so, we mustered all our friends and supporters and gave them all the good things that we could lay our hands on. As a matter of fact, no definite charge has been brought against the Labour Government to prove that any supporter of our party ever got anything at our hands.
– Dozens of charges have been made.
– Any number of charges have been made, but none has been proved.
– What about Ryland’s case? He was given a position for which he never applied at all, a month after applications had closed.
– That might easily happen where those responsible for making the appointment considered that none of the applicants were fully qualified for the position.
– It would be a fair thing, then, to give everybody else a chance of coming in a month after.
– There may be something to be said for that argument, but when the people’s money is being handed out those who have the responsibility must see that the best results are obtained for it. I have only met Mr. Ryland casually, but from what I hear of him from those who know something of his capacity, I believe that the appointment was a very wise one. There is no question that he had the ability to fill the position with credit to himself and those who appointed him. He went to the Northern Territory to carry out the duties assigned to him, and the policy which he had to help to administer was one that our party took some stock in. We believed it to be in the best interests of Australia that this new part of the continent should be settled in a manner different from that in which the other parts had been settled. For that reason it was necessary to get somebody there to administer affairs as we desired, so that our policy would not be strangled. Mr. Ryland’s feelings on that point were well known. We knew how enthusiastic he was about the Government policy. When the present Government came into power it at once became evident that, in their opinion, if they were going to alter the Labour policy in the Northern Territory, it would be necessary to get rid of some of the able officials appointed by our Government, and put in their places other men who were more amenable to their wishes. In all probability that is the game the Government have been trying to play. The only charge having any degree of substantiality which was made against the Labour Government on the spoils to the victors question was that we desired to establish the principle of preference to unionists. The Labour party have never dodged that issue. It was a plank of the platform on which they won the elections of 1910, and they gave effect to it so far as they were able. That is the only favoritism, if there is any favoritism in it, that oan be truly brought home’ to the Labour party. The party gave preference to unionists in the .case of the 9s. a day casual labourer, but in doing so they were depriving nobody of a job, unless the present Government and their supporters were telling the people untruths, because at that time they and all the Conservatives in the country were howling for more immigration, showing that, in their opinion, there were any number of jobs to go round, and any quantity of work for every unionist in Australia, while still leaving room for thousands who might be brought from over the water. One pf the planks in the first programme submitted to the House by the present Government was the amendment of the Arbitration Act. They said they were going to deprive the rural worker of his right of appeal to the Arbitration Court. The rural workers’ log question “ cut some ice “ with them during the last election campaign, and was responsible for the defeat of many Labour candidates in country electorates throughout the Commonwealth, because the people were misled as to the true state of affairs. The Labour party had taken up the position that every citizen was equal before the law, and that what one citizen was entitled to in tEe Courts of the country, every other citizen should be entitled to also. We said that we would give the rural workers the same opportunities of getting the benefits, if any, to be derived from the Arbitration Court as we would give to any other class of worker. At that time the rural worker was a disorganized working element in the community. Since then things have developed somewhat. We now find that the Government have deliberately dropped the proposal with regard to the rural workers out of their programme. Apparently they do not now intend to deprive the rural worker of his right to get justice at the hands of the Court. What is the reason for this change of front? Apparently the Government have found out since last year that the rural worker has developed a punch. As a matter of fact, he showed, during the last harvest, that he meant business. Previous to that, the organization had been fighting for the right to go before the Court; and the farmers, misled by the present Government and their supporters, fought against the possibility of the farm labourer getting his grievances settled in any other way than by a strike. The farm worker had enough sense to take up the attitude that most other labour organizations had taken up. He believed that it would be better for him and his to get his grievances redressed without going out on strike, and did everything in his power to bring about that state of affairs. The officers of his organization approached the officers of the other organizations in an endeavour to get their industry brought before the Court, and their grievances settled there; but they were told by the Farmers and Settlers Associations, which are mostly run by commission agents and auctioneers, and not by farmers, that there was no trouble at all, and that there was no need for action to be taken before the Court. The harvest came along, and the rural worker showed that he had genuine grievances, with the result that thousands in various parts of Australia were on strike for many weeks. According to the Farmers and Settlers Associations, the result of that strike was that they had their work done at the old rates, and under the old conditions, and that they did not employ any of the members of the Australian Workers Union, which now embraces the rural workers. As a matter of fact, we have definite proof from our organizers and officers all over Australia that that was untrue, and that, in reality, most of the farms in the parts of the country affected by the rural workers log rates are worked under log conditions. Those are the real facts of the case. The Government, in all probability, realized that their attitude with regard to the rural workers was going to be resented in the way in which organized labour can resent a grievance. They have found out that by going to the country with this cry they will alienate a tremendous lot of support. It hae had another effect. It has brought the organizer of the Australian Workers Union into very much closer touch with the man on the land, with the result that he understands now much more than he did before. But, after all, the rural workers are only standing for what they believe is right and what they are justly entitled to get. Their notions have been altogether altered, as we see by the action of their association and what they are doing. They are coming to this opinion, apparently : that the members and the followers of tlie present Government and their supporters in the press misled the farmer altogether. An indication of the altered opinion of the man on the land in this country is furnished by a Sydney telegram which appeared in the Argus of the 22nd May -
Interesting reference is made to the general question of industrial arbitration, as it affects tlie farmer, in the annual report of the executive of the New South Wales Farmers and Settlers’ Association, which will be issued to members of that body to-morrow.
The report says : - “ Tour executive is watching with interest for any development of 0<e scheme of Federal control of industrial matters. It is obvious that some such development is inevitable. Already a number of industries are in a constant state of disruption because of conflicting awards - Federal and State. Delegates will understand at once iih.it the farming industry could not be carried om under such conditions of confusion if we ni-c to be bound down to the observation of a rigid award that will settle the conditions of the industry for the whole of the Commonwealth. Seeing that arbitration is inevitable, your executive urges upon all delegate and upon local district councils to prepare f<“>r an arbitration contest. Hitherto we have been able to take a stand on the assertion that no dispute existed as between us and our employes, but it would be suicidal tactics to presume that a dispute is impossible, or even unlikely. Our time will be far better spent in preparing to put the circumstances of the great industry we control adequately before any tribunal before which we may be called.”
Here is a clean reversal of position. Before the last harvest they said that there was no dispute ; that they did not want an Arbitration Court or anything else. But now ;the action of the rural workers, through their organization, has convinced these persons that there is some trouble happening all the time. They know what it was at the last harvest, and they realize that the rural workers will never be content till they get justice done to them, and that at the following harvest there will be men looking for more fight unless action is taken to redress some of the grievances under which they ( have laboured for, God knows, how many years. What is the position in many of the fruit districts of Australia where the workers are covered by the Rural Workers Association ? We had an instance at Mildura. For a number of years the employers in that settlement sweated their employes as far as they were able to do. They even induced the Victorian Government to proclaim special holidays for the children of the men who lived there, so that the employers might be in a position to exploit the labour of the children as well as the labour of the fathers and the mothers. But eventually an organization came into existence and fought on until the men got an award from the Arbitration Court. The usual howl, of course, went up to heaven from the employers that if the award were given they would never be able to pay it. But now we find the employers say that they can pay it. During their recent visit, the Fruit Commission extracted very useful information from some employers. One employer in particular said that the fruit industry could afford to pay the wages now being paid. He even went further and said that since these rates had been paid there had been a better class of workers coming to the settlement than was obtained before, and that they had no trouble with them.
– That was Mr. Thomas Rowley.
– A - And he said that the total cost of their harvesting is not greater than it was years before.
– That is a proof of the contention of Labour men that, in this country, there is no trouble in getting labour of any class or character, provided that decent wages and conditions are given. The fruit-growers are now working under an award of the Arbitration Court, and some citizens in the settlement say that the granting of the award marks the beginning of the prosperity of the settlement. If any one goes there now he will find it in a very different position from that it occupied previous to the award; so people who live there tell me.
– No one criticises the award now.
– No; every one is satisfied that the award is all right. The truth is that the settlement could not help progressing when the men got decent pay. The granting of the award meant that money was being spread over a large area. Business men in the town found that the working population had a greater spending capacity, and, of course, they made use of it. The same thing applies to working people in the fruit industry all over the country. They never earn so much that they can pile up a big banking account or buy a motor car, and generally they have to be satisfied if they can buy enough of tlie necessaries of life to feed their dependants. Because of this, there is always room for them lo reach out after a bigger spending capacity, so that the conditions of their home-life may be improved. In other parts of Victoria there are fruit settlements, and in all probability the conditions are very similar to those which prevailed in Mildura. We were told by no less a personage than the Chairman of an Irrigation Trust, when being examined by Mr. Watt the other day, that cultivation in Mildura returns to a proprietor from £30 to £40 an acre after deducting all labour cost. In all probability this applies to very many of the prosperous fruit settlements in other parts of Victoria. One can visit various places where people go in largely for fruitgrowing, and find that employers there are in the same condition as the Mildura employers were years before the award. They are not prepared to give a decent wage to a man - only 15s. a week; and that kind of thing “was the proposition which the rural workers’ organizer and members of the union were up against at the last ‘harvest. Yet these people are continually howling for increased duties and various other things. They are prepared to employ men if they can get them to work for 15s. a week. These are the places to which quite a large number of immigrants who are continually landing .here are drafted.
– Haw many hours a day do they work?
– The employers work the men as many hours as they can during the day, and most of the night. During the last trouble we saw reports of where the organizer for the Australian Workers Union had to visit a place at night to see the men, who, I suppose, were working a bit of overtime to get something near what might be considered a living wage. There is a reversal of opinion altogether, and_ it is outlined in the report of the executive of the employers. They have found out that after all any man is entitled to stand up for what he thinks is a square deal. The man who has courage enough to do -that generally wins more respect from an employer, even though he is a sweater, than does a fellow who is prepared to crawl and do an injury to himself and to other people too. During the last recess members of the Government, like most Federal politicians, were busy in travelling and talking. Of course they were preparing for what they termed a double dissolution - that is, to drag Labour before the electors again. It is interesting now to glance at some of the opinions which they then expressed to the people. A few weeks ago the Prime Minister tried to hearten up the Women’s National League a bit for what he called the coming conflict. He wanted to get them to work. He said to them, “ You get the business for the next ten months, and I will go bail for the next ten years.” A gentleman holding a prominent position like that of Prime Minister does not use words that have no meaning. He expects whatever he says to be taken very seriously. On that occasion the Prime Minister expected his audience to take his advice and get to business ; he promised them that if they did get to business he would go bail for the next ten years. I do not know what he meant by this remark, and possibly the Women’s National League are still puzzling their heads over what he meant. But the conduct of the Conservatives during the whole of the time they have had charge of public affairs warrants me in coming to the conclusion that Mr. Cook could only go bail for the next ten years in one way. If the ladies got busy for the next ten months, and by a miracle the Conservative party got a double dissolution and a majority in each House of this Parliament, Mr. Cook could then very safely go bail for the next ten years, because he would gerrymander with the Electoral Act, and so arrange matters that there would be no possibility of ousting his Government for a number of years. I am warranted in making the remark by the actions of Conservatives in other circumstances. In Victoria, Labour is not very largely represented in the State Parliament, not because the people who elect Labour men have different ideas from those who elect the members of the Federal Labour party, but because they have no opportunity of expressing their opinions at the ballotbox. In Victoria there is a small number of Labour men elected compared with the large number elected in other States. It can be easily understood how the Conservatives keep in power here when I mention that ten Labour men speak for 150,000 electors, while ten Conservatives speak for 68,000 electors. In other words, a Labour man represents nearly three persons to every person represented by a Conservative. But even that was not sufficient to warrant the people who have run Victoria to believe that they could retain the power, and so they decided only a little while ago to alter the Electoral Act, in order to make a greater discrepancy in regard to the constituencies. The same thing has happened in South Australia, where Labour was temporarily deposed from power, and no doubt Mr. Peake ventured to say that he would go bail for the next ten years. He altered the Electoral Act so that now a Labour man represents 15,000 odd electors while a Conservative represents 6,000 odd. That is the only hope that the Conservatives have of holding power in Australia, and in all probability Mr. Cook is well aware of that fact. The Conservatives, I believe, did even worse in Queensland, and attempted the same thing in Western Australia. Had Mr. Cook the same opportunity he would, I venture to say, follow in the wake of Mr. Peake and Mr. Watt, and so gerrymander the Electoral Act as to make it impossible for Labour to be represented in this Parliament in anything like the present proportion. The Constitution contains certain provisions. Its framers supposed that it contained quite a number of powers; but when the Constitution came to be tested we found, very much to our surprise, and very likely they did too, that the powers were not given. In my opinion, the Constitution needs to be altered so that the people of this country may be enfranchised, and there may be no possibility of the Government ever being able to tamper with the franchise. That should only be done when permitted by a referendum of the people. I undertake to say that no Government could carry by referendum a proposal inviting the men and women of Australia to give up their equal rights as electors. It has been said that the Labour party are afraid to face the people, but the history of this Parliament gives no warrant for any such statement. When we came into the Federal Parliament first we had 24 representatives of Labour as against 87 of the Fusion party, or of the LiberalConservative conglomeration of the time. At the following election the number of Labour representatives was increased from 24 to 39, whilst the number of the other party dropped from 87 to 72. After the election in 1906 the Labour representatives were increased from 39 to 42, whilst the other side dropped from 72 to 69. In 1910 the Labour party increased its representation from 42 to 65, Senator Bornes. whilst the others dropped from 69 to 46. Even at the last elections, when it was assumed that the Fusion party wiped the floor with Labour, and deprived the Labour party of place and power, the Labour representation went from 65 to 66, and the representation of the other side dropped from 46 to 45. So that the whole history of Federation demonstrates the fact that the more the people know of the Labour party the better they like them. They have been sending Labour representatives to this Parliament in greater numbers at every election.
– That is a nice prospect for the other side to go to the country with.
– Yes, a glance at these figures should be very comforting to our honorable friends opposite before they secure the double dissolution for which they are asking. There is one matter which I omitted to refer to when dealing with the question of favoritism. We have been charged by the other side with favoritism, and with handing out billets to our own supporters, but only the other day Senator Millen admitted, in answer to a question by Senator Russell, that some people in the employ of the Post and Telegraph Department who did not belong to the organization which secured an award from the Arbitration Court were being given the wages fixed by the award, although the Court specially laid it down in the award that only members of the organization were tobe paid the rates fixed. It seems that the present Government have not very much respect for the observance of law and order, about which they preach so much. They went ‘out of their way to give the ‘same benefits to people who were not in the organization as the Court, awarded ‘to those who were members of it.
– That is not againstthe law.
– It was against theaward.
– If the Judges wishthat .lower wages should be paid to these people let them say so.
– The Government should have remembered that they are spending the money of the taxpayers of Australia, and the consistent position for them to ‘have taken up in the circumstances was to have said ‘to -these people,. “There is a proper tribunal to decide the rates to which you are entitled. The Government are not handing out their own money, but the money of the taxpayers. The Court has said you are entitled to so much, and that is all you are going to get.” That would have been a consistent and defensible attitude to adopt.
– Does the honorable senator advocate that?
– Yes, I do. I say that the Court gave an award, and it should have been obeyed. The people who did not go to the Court were not entitled to the benefits cif the award. They placed themselves in a position in which they were unable to obtain an award. But these people are being everlastingly buttoned to by the party on the other side. The Government are paying the taxpayers’ money to non- unionists in the Post and Telegraph Department, who, according to the Court, are not entitled to it. If the Court had considered those people entitled to the rates fixed by the award it would have said that the rates should be paid to all people employed by the Government in that branch of the Post and Telegraph Department.
-Colonel O’loghlin. - The non-unionists did not pay anything towards the cost of the arbitration.
– No; they never do anything of that kind. The country is put to a certain expense to pay the Judges and other officials of the Court to do this work. The Court made an award, and said that it should apply only to those who belong to the union.
– Do the unionists pay the expense of the Judge and the cost of the administration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– Of course they do. They pay their share of the expense, and they paid the whole of the costs of their side in making the application to the Court. The other people who do not belong to the organization did not pay anything to secure the award; but they are the pets of the people who occupy the Treasury bench to-day. They are the people of independent spirit who would not belong to a labour organization, and the pets to whom the little doles at the disposal of the present Government are handed out. The Government think nothing of the unionists who are pre pared to fight for their cause, and prefer the loafers who have not sufficient manliness to join an organization to enable them to secure an award. If Labour favours anybody in this country it is the men of the country, and not the loafers. Senator McColl, as one of the responsible heads of the Government, had a lot to say during the recess about the things he supposed had been done at the general elections; but, in speaking the other day, he was unable to justify the stand he had. taken up. He repeated his statement to the effect that there were 180,000 more names on the electoral rolls than there were electors entitled to be on them., That statement has been blown out time and again by the officials of the Electoral Department. The officials do not say that the names were not on the rolls, but that it is impossible to have rolls containing only the names of those entitled to vote in a particular district. The Commonwealth Statistician has informed us that no fewer than 500,000 persons change their residence every twelve months in Australia. We have no reason to doubt this statement, because we all know that our population is largely a floating one. People follow the opportunities for work from one part of the country to another, according to the seasons for wool and wheat. We know, also, that the population of mining centres is continually moving from one part of the country to another. In these circumstances it is clearly impossible to prevent some names appearing on the electoral rolls which oUght not to be there. The electoral officials allow on this account for a margin of 10 per cent. , and 10 per cent, of the electors of Australia would represent a larger number than the figure stated by Senator McColl. Still, the honorable senator repeats his statement that there were 180,000 names on the rolls that had no right to be there, with the object of inducing the people to believe that they were deliberately kept there by the Labour Government, so that their votes might be used in duplications when the election day came round. The inquiry made by officers, under the direction of the present Government, has blown out all the stories told about the dishonesty of the electors of Australia. I regret that’ a responsible Minister of the Crown should come before the Senate at this late hour and repeat a charge of that kind. During the recess, Senator McColl was fighting for his scalp the same as the rest of us, and was very busy in talking to meetings of the Women’s National League. He took it upon himself to criticise the Commonwealth Bank. Even if Ministers were opposed to a national bank for the Commonwealth, we might, at least, have expected them to remember that their personal views might not be those held by the majority of the people. If a vote of the people were taken to-morrow as to whether they favoured the establishment of a national bank for Australia there would be very little doubt of the result of such an appeal to them. Senator McColl publicly stated that the Commonwealth Bank had shown a loss, and that later on the loss would be greater. He has admitted that he made a mistake when he made that statement, and is to be commended for his admission. But a man occupying so responsible a position should never venture to criticise an institution of so much importance to the people of Australia without being quite sure of his ground. Before he made his remarks upon the bank he might have discovered by inquiry at the bank itself that what he had in mind to say to the people was entirely wrong. The honorable senator did not consider the interests of Australia sufficiently to take that course, and if he had done so, as one of its responsible men, he would have been saved the humiliation of having to retract some of the statements he made in regard to that institution. He claims the right to criticise the institution as freely as may any other member of this Parliament. No one will venture to deny him that right. In all probability in years to come the Commonwealth Bank will come under the criticism of Parliament on many occasions. It would be a bad thing for the people, and for the institution, if that were not so. The bestintentioned people in the world make mistakes, and criticism may lead to the correction of those mistakes. No one will question Senator McColl’s right to criticise the Commonwealth Bank, but Australia demands that Ministers and members of Parliament will at least be fair to the people when they enter upon a business, and will not endeavour to strangle an Australian institution before it is given an opportunity to demonstrate what it is capable of doing. Senator McColl mentioned quite a number of other matters to which I shall not refer, but I note that the Government have expressed their intention to do something to bring about a uniform railway gauge in Australia. I remind honorable senators that the Government represent the political party that has practically been in power in Australia since the establishment of responsible government here. They knew so little about the possibilities of Australia that the Government in one State built railways on the 4-ft. 8-in. gauge, in another on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, and in another on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. They never dreamed apparently that Australia would one day be a nation, and would require a uniform railway gauge, not only for military, but for business purposes. Because the party represented by the present Government so foolishly mismanaged the affairs of this country in the past, they are themselves faced with a proposition to establish a uniform railway gauge at a cost, according to the experts, of £50,000,000 or £60,000,000. That is the debt which Australia owes today as the result of the misgovernment of the class of politicians who are represented by the present Commonwealth Government. There is one other little matter to which I must refer, and that is the Teesdale Smith contract. I cannot refrain from giving the Government a bit of a “ jab “ now and again on that question, although a lot has already been said about it. It has been stated, in defence of the Government, that excavation work was let to Teesdale Smith at 4s. 6d. a cubic yard because that was about the price which South Australia paid for the same ‘class of work. They do a great many things in South Australia, and some of them very well. One of the things they do well is to excavate earth. They have up-to-date appliances for the purpose. I have here a report of the Irrigation and Reclamation Works Department of South Australia, which is a State institution. They shift a great deal of earth, but they do not give the work to a Teesdale Smith for 4s. 6d. per cubic yard for excavating, and another 2s. 6d. per cubic yard for putting the spoil on a bank. They adopt up-to-date methods for carrying out this class of work. They have a machine which is ordinarily called a steam navvy, but is described in this report as an Austin Excavator. The report’ says that this excavator has shifted 100,935 cubic yards of channelling at 81/2d. per cubic yard. It states -
Typo ” A-“ Austin excavator arrived in August, 191.1, commenced work in December of the same year, and up to the 30th June, 19.13, has excavated 100,935 cubic yards, 04,059 cubic yards being taken out during 1912-13 from drains and channels, averaging from 4 feet to 13$ feet deep, with a 6-ft. bottom, and side slopes of 1 to 1; the spoil is placed 45 feet from the centre.
There is also an illustration given of the cutting upon which it was employed, which is exactly similar to a railway cutting. The channel which was excavated measures 33 feet at the top, 6 feet at the bottom, and is 13-£ feet deep, and the cost of excavating it was 3£d. per cubic yard. According to Senators Rae, Gardiner, and others who have traversed the country covered by the Teesdale Smith contract, it is very similar in character to the country which has been dealt with by the Irrigation and Reclamation Works Department of South Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that this particular contract is a very smellful one, and one which the Government naturally desire to relegate to the background. This is the Government whose members have the effrontery to accuse the Labour party of having given spoils to the victors. Yet almost their first act after coming into office was to give to one of their supporters a huge contract at an exorbitant price without calling for tenders. I venture to say that if workmen had been fortunate enough to obtain that job, they would be able to retire long before the transcontinental railway is completed. The figures which I have quoted show that, though the Labour party have not been long in existence, they are yearly receiving more support from the people. Should the second so-called “ test “ measure meet the same fate as was accorded to the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, Ministers will shortly be afforded an opportunity of appealing to the country, and we shall then see whether the electors will continue in power a Government which is so inept that it allowed one of its members to enter into a contract of this kind without even calling for public tenders. Since their accession to office, Ministers have done so many strange things that, in all probability, they are anything but anxious to appeal to the constituencies. Should the storm come, however - and I doubt very much whether it will - the electors may take it upon themselves to settle who shall govern this country for the next ten years - the period for which Mr. Cook said that he was willing to go bail. The party which he leads are capable of anything. They are backed by the worst element in Australia - by those who would flood this country with cheap labour, so that half-a-dozen men might be looking every morning for one man’s job, and so that they might then be in a position to charge honest workmen with refusing to accept employment in the country. Only this morning a letter was published in one of the daily papers from the secretary of the unemployed, pointing out why men will not accept work in our rural areas. He gave facts in support of his statements. It appears that a farmer was written to asking if he had any work to offer. His reply was that he could offer one man work all right. “ Come along to my farm,” he said, “ and if you have any ability as a farm labourer, or if you show any aptitude to learn, I will be glad to employ you, so that in time you will be able to take a farm of your own. I will pay you 10s. a week if I think you are worth it.” That letter explains why workmen will not go into the country. There is no part of Australia so far distant that labour cannot be obtained, provided sufficient wages are offered, and that other conditions of labour axe satisfactory. The Australian is not white-livered. He is prepared to go to the moon if only the conditions of life are sufficiently attractive. I believe it is better for men to stay in the city than to seek employment in the country if by so doing they will be compelled to work for a sweater at 10s. per week.
– To me it is astonishing that so many long addresses have been delivered in this chamber - addresses which were based upon such poor material as that provided by the Governor-General’s Speech. Paragraph 10 of the Vice-Regal utterance has already been exhaustively dealt with by Senator Barnes, and therefore I shall not dwell upon it now. But I wish to direct special attention to two paragraphs which appear in close proximity to each other in the Argus of 27th May. Paragraph 1 reads -
Serious efforts are to be made by Victoria to grapple with the problem arising from the decline in immigration.
About 2 inches lower down the following paragraph appeared: -
Mr. Watt (the Premier) has directed tha Labour Bureau to find all possible work on public undertakings for the unemployed.
The publication of these two paragraphs on the same day should be sufficient to convince the public of Australia that the method of immigration which has hitherto been adopted by the States is altogether wrong. I want to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he proposes to grapple with the problem arising from the decline of immigration, or whether he proposes to assist Mr. Watt, Premier of Victoria, in endeavouring to procure employment for the people already in Australia?
– How can the Argus convince the people, seeing that only Conservatives read it?
– I can assure the honorable senator that the Argus is read by people other than Conservatives. Last week I asked the Minister of Defence whether the Government were prepared to assist in a similar way to that in which the Imperial Government are assisting in securing oil supplies for the British Navy. I asked -
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 senator prepared 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?
Senator Millen replied
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.’
That seems to me a most extraordinary reply for the Minister to make. Why should he not give a direct answer to my question, even though a hundred companies were in process of formation for the purpose of exploiting this industry? Even if Senator Millen and others were interested in some of those companies, why should not the desired information have been forthcoming? Why should not the Government make arrangements with those companies to have first call upon the product of the oil-fields when they were discovered. The Government were undoubtedly elected by the people to encourage private enterprise, yet when a favorable opportunity presents itself for them to do so. and at the same time to confer a great benefit on the nation, they absolutely refuse to reply to a question dealing with the matter. I propose later in the session to give the Senate an opportunity of expressing an opinion as to the desirability or otherwise of the Commonwealth Government endeavouring to make provision to secure some control over the oil-fields that Australia is supposed to possess. I ‘merely refer to the matter now in order to direct the attention of the Government to the importance of taking immediate action, and placing a sum of money on the Estimates for the purpose. The following extract from an article which appeared in the Daily Herald, Adelaide, is interesting - “ The fuel oil supply available in England is very limited, as, although the oil-fields of Russia, Roumania, and Galicia are worked largely with British capital, we get but little fuel oil from these sources, and if we did, the closing of the Dardanelles would cut off the supply. At present our chief sources of supply are the East and America, and if the Empire is to maintain her supremacy on the sea, it behoves us to develop the oil-fields of the Empire as rapidly as possible, in order that Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the West Indies may aid India in supplying fuel oil for naval purposes, and add to the large quantities that will probably be available from Mexico.”
These significant words were penned only a few months since by no less eminent an authority than Professor Vivian B. Lewes, F.I.C., F.C.S., in his important work, “ Oil Fuel.” They reveal plainly the necessity of following up every possible indication of the presence of petroleum in British Dominions. Up to the present the Australian Governments have displayed a lamentable lack of enterprise in exploiting supposed oil-bearing areas, and the remark applies with particular force to the South Australian Government. True, a paltry bonus of ?5,000has been offered for the first 100,000 gallons of crude oil stored, but when a company has 100,000 gallons of petroleum stored it will be no more in need of ?5,000 than a millionaire is of sixpence. The whole attitude of the South Australian Government and Mines Department regarding our supposed petroliferous areashas been one of scepticism. In view of this, it is of more than ordinary interest to note that Professor Lewes firmly believes in the existence of petroleum in Australia. “ Oil undoubtedly exists in Now Zealand, Australia, Egypt, in our West African colonies, in Newfoundland, in Assam, in the Punjab, and in Baluchistan;’ and if our Government would institute a department to encourage and, where necessary, exploit and aid oil development in our overseas Empire, the country would soon be independent of supplies that might fail in time of war,” remarks he. No stronger words could be used.
In the opinion of an eminent authority, therefore, oil exists in Australia, and it is highly desirable that the Government should have some control over it. The Government may say that it is a State matter, but oil is undoubtedly the fuel for the Navy, and if our oil- bearing areas were allowed to fall into possession of the American Oil Trust, that body could put an absolute stop to development, and compel the Commonwealth to obtain supplies for its Navy from California, or from some foreign country where it would be expensive, and in times of war absolutely impossible to get-
– If the greatest oil well in the world is found in the southeast of South Australia by the Government, unless the Constitution is altered there is no power to sell one spoonful to the people of Australia.
– That is a matter that can be adjusted. The people of Australia will be disposed in the near future to alter the Constitution to the extent asked for at the last referendum. To show that there is really a danger of the American Oil Trust getting possession of the Australian oil-fields, Mr. G. D. Meudell, at a meeting of the South Australian Oil Wells Company, held in Melbourne recently, pointed out that -
Mr. T. J. Whaley, oil expert for ten years with the Standard Oil Company, had pointed out the best ground on which to commence operations. Mr. Whaley was so enthusiastic about the prospects that he would shortly return from California to begin operations on his own behalf on land over which he had secured options. His syndicate was financed by the oil magnates of California, and Australian money had been refused, so confident was the American in the oil indications he saw in South Australia.
I have no doubt that that is perfectly true. Mr. Whaley has been to California and has got, not only American machinery, but American money, to develop the oil industry in Australia. I should not have the slightest objection to American money developing our oil industry if it were not for the fact that by that means we may allow the industry to get into the hands of the trust, which can prevent its development. That is an important matter, because the trust could practically dictate to the Australian Government the price they should pay for their oil, and the quantities they should receive. The following extracts show that the Government have precedents for taking action. -
The pioneer work has been largely due to the Hon. Arthur Ponsonby, in Barbados, and to Mr. RandolphRust in Trinidad. In the latter colony the Government took up the question seriously, and promoted an investigation under the direction of Mr.E. H. Cunningham Craig, of the British Geological Survey, to examine and report on the oil resources of the colony. Trinidad may be said to possess the first oil-field in which a scientific geological examination preceded the ruleofthumb driller: and there is little doubt that Trinidad will reap the benefit of her enlightened policy.
That appeared in the Advertiser of 15th October, 1913. The following is taken from the Daily Herald of 17th October of the same year: -
The Government of South Africa a few months ago secured Mr. E. H. Cunningham Craig to make a survey of the South African Colonies, in the hope of finding oil indications.
This appeared in the Register of 14th March, 1914: -
The Reichstag has voted about £24,400 in connexion with the appointment of an expert to investigate oil discoveries in German NorthWest Guinea.
And the following was published in the Melbourne Argus of 15th April, 1914: -
According to the Daily Express, a Government expert has examined the oil supplies of Dagashibel, in Somaliland. He recommends the expenditure of £20,000 in experimental borings.
All this shows that in assisting in the discovery of oil and the development of the industry the Government will be doing far more than merely helping private enterprise. They could, as I suggested in my first question to Senator Millen, by subsidizing these companies, do the same as the English Government have done, and as a return for the subsidy have the first call on the product. That would be a very valuable privilege for them to possess, and by taking that course they would certainly put it out of the power of the private companies to hand over their interests to the great American Oil Trust. I am convinced that in South Australia, Queensland, and Papua, and I believe in the Northern Territory, we have country that is undoubtedly oil-bearing and if private companies cannot get assistance in Australia they will naturally go elsewhere for it. If the American Oil Trust find that oil exists in payable quantities in any part of Australia, they will assuredly be prepared to put down any amount of capital in order to get control over it, not necessarily for developmental purposes, but to regulate the price of oil as they have done in the past. If the Government really desire to assist immigration, as they announce in paragraph 10 of the Speech, they can do a great deal in that direction by assisting to develop great natural resources such as those I have just mentioned. Later, I hope to be able to lay before the Senate a great deal more evidence to show that this is a question of the first importance, and that the Government are not serving the best interests of the Commonwealth in treating it in the way they, appear to be doing.
– The motion has been very fully discussed, the speeches on it having occupied 40 hours, of which this side is responsible for five or six.
– More than your share according to your numbers.
– I am not complaining; I am simply stating the facts. I have no complaint to make about’ the general tone of the debate except to say that where there has been the expression of a personal belief in the existence of corruption, as has happened in the case of one or two speakers, it is regrettable, because insinuations of that description are not worthy of those who make them or of the Senate as a body. If a member has in his possession any evidence that corrupt practices have been indulged in by members of the Government it is his duty to make it known, and prove the charge up to the hilt; hut insinuations are illtimed and unjustified unless a member has something to hack them up. Without making unfair comparisons, it is safe to say that of the speeches made on the other side that of Senator Pearce was most worthy of attention. It was a speciously prepared speech, addressed to a particular phase of the Constitution. The honorable senator put a view of the question which some of the persons who helped to draw the Constitution may have suggested to him. At the same time, he argued that it was never intended by those who drew up the Constitution that the view now being taken of it, possibly by the Government and their supporters, is the correct one. He quoted a number of cases to show that there could be no possible comparison between the two positions. He contended that the Government could not possibly hope to get a double dissolution in connexion with the two testBills, but the cases he quoted went, more or less, to show that it was only on a financial question that the framers of the Constitution ever thought that there would be a conflict to which the dead-lock provision would be applied. While the honorable senator is, of course, entitled to his opinion, he should remember that the Constitution is a legal document which must be interpreted not by what was in the minds of its draftsmen, but by what is distinctly set out in its provisions.
– In the Convention at Sydney on the 15th September, 1897, Sir John Forrest said practically the same thing as Senator Pearce said here.
– Perhaps that is where Senator Pearce got his opinion from.
– That does not improve the position a bit. The Constitution is a legal document which clearly sets out the functions of the States and of the Commonwealth. If it is clear that a position must arise and that other action must follow, all the special pleading of Senator Pearce and all the cases he cited in support of his argument are worthless to us when certain conditions are clearly laid down in the Constitution. It is impossible for me to follow in detail the speeches on this question from the other side, but there are one or two phases to which I desire to draw attention. For instance, the Savings Bank question was brought up by Senator O’Loghlin, and his view was supported by several honorable senators. While there have been complaints made from the other side that the Commonwealth Government should not have gone into conference with the State Premiers on this question, the attitude taken up generally has been that the Government should have boldly told the State Premiers what they were going to do, and if the latter did not concur, their duty was to walk out of the Conference. That is not the way to treat statesmen who are parties to the working of the Federal Constitution. They have rights, powers and privileges under that instrument just as we have. While we certainly can take a very strong attitude in this regard, at the same time it may be quite politic for us, and proper in the circumstances, too, to confer with the persons who, in the State sphere, are responsible for the activity of the Savings Bank.
– T - The Commonwealth Bank was established under the Constitution.
– I readily admit that. I am only pointing out that it is wise for .the Commonwealth Government to meet the State Premiers and discuss a matter of great concern to them, and that is the handling of the savings of their citizens. It has been said that we had no right to embark in this business for various reasons, but as to whether it is a proper thing for the Commonwealth or the States to handle the savings of the people, it is well to hear, from time to time, the opinions of men who are outside the sphere of politics, and who, therefore, are free from political . bias in regard to the value of the Commonwealth Bank.
– They are scarce.
– They may be scarce. One of the conditions laid down by the Labour party during the electoral campaign was that the Savings Bank business, if taken over by the Commonwealth, would make money cheaper to the people of the Commonwealth. That was a very proper cry for our opponents to put forward if they honestly believed in it. We have had a little experience of the Commonwealth Bank, and it is only right to ask whether it has realized the anticipations of our honorable friends opposite.
– The Tasmanian Treasurer says it has.
– That may be.
– The Tasmanian Government said so quite recently.
– The Tasmanian Government recently transferred their banking account to the Commonwealth Bank, but they have yet to learn whether it was a wise act from a business stand-point.
– They have got better terms already.
– Time only will prove that, and time has been one of my honorable friends’ biggest enemies in regard to many of the promises they made three years ago. I propose to quote a statement by Mr. Justice Heydon, who may be taken as a man of wide experience, though perhaps not in banking matters, and who is looked upon in New South Wales as being friendly disposed to Labour. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 31st October”, 1913, contained this report -
Judge Heydon yesterday expressed interesting views on the tightness of the money market, and its effect upon the shortage of houses. In part, his Honor, who was engaged inquiring into the cost of living, blamed the establishment of the Federal Bank for the financial stringency.
His Honor suggested that the shortage of houses might be due to the shortage of money. Possibly people were getting such a high rate for their money in other directions that they were not disposed to build. The spending habit of the Australian appeared to be punishing him.
Mr. Connington (who is appearing for some of the unions, and the union secretaries) said there seemed to have been an artificial tightening of money.
His Honor: Perhaps the banks have not forgotten the years 1892 and 1893, when suddenly confidence collapsed. There may be a boom on now, or beginning, and it is necessary to prevent that. “ The banks’ business is to lend money,” added His Honor, “ and if they can lend it safely, I can hardly understand any artificial motive preventing them from doing it.” “ Looking at the thing fairly and squarely,” said Mr. Connington, “ one might think that was so, if the banker finds it more to his interest to keep his money from investing with the idea of getting higher rates.”
His Honor : *’ Then, too, the banks lost the power of issuing notes, this having been taken over for the purpose of carrying out the Commonwealth necessary expenses, public matters requiring money. That would contract the amount of money available by the banks for lending. Then ‘they looked for deposits to lend, and there has been keen competition for deposits. The building societies are coming in again, I am sorry to see. The building societies borrowing money brought on the crisis of 1892.”
I have read the quotation only because it gives the opinion of a man who is outside the political circle.
– I would like to know what the value of that expression of opinion is.
– Mr. Justice Heydon is a man pf standing in New South Wales who has been intrusted with a great many important inquiries, and the shortage of money was a question which came within his purview.
– On account of rents in Sydney being high.
– Very well. What position on this question do the Labour party in New South Wales take up ? Are they prepared to hand over the State Savings Bank to the Commonwealth simply because that proposal is advocated from the other side of the Senate? There is no bigger champion or better defender of the State Savings’Bank than is the present Labour Government in New South Wales. Do my honorable friends opposite mean to tell me that the State Ministers are not just as keenly interested in the workers of New South Wales as they are ? At any rate they have the responsibility of representing the Labour element there. They were returned pledged to a platform and a policy, and are keenly interested in seeing to the welfare of the workers in the State, and guarding their millions against interference from the Federal sphere, and therefore I think their opinion ought to be respected.
– The answer to that is to be found in the number of working men who have transferred their deposits to th e Commonwealth Bank.
– It cannot be pleasant for our honorable friends opposite to find that, while they are strongly advocating that all this money should be locked up in the Commonwealth Bank, their State friends are doing all they possibly can to prevent the Commonwealth from getting hold of the money.
– Someof them.
– I am speaking of New South Wales. This difference of opinion does not tend, I admit, to make the feeling between the Labour party here and the State Labour party too pleasant, but that is their funeral, not mine. At the last election this was one of the difficulties which our honorable friends had to face, and there was a penalty to pay. As far as one can sum up the present situation in New South Wales - though, possibly, I may be speaking from a partisan standpoint - the Labour party are in no better position there to-day, in view of the recent action of their State friends. The differences of opinion which are expressed from time to time do not tend to improve matters. Let me quote the opinion of Mr. Griffith, whose views carry some weight in New South Wales. He is a strong personality in the Public Works Department.
– Is that the man whom your party accused of wholesale corruption ?
– I do not know that we did.
– Mr. Wade did.
– They were not game to face a Commission.
– The honorable senator means to say that the Commission was not made wide enough to cover the cases.
– They were not game to face an inquiry into all the charges.
– I do not wish to be drawn into that matter, because it is a subject of controversy at the present time. Let us hear what Mr. Griffith, who, good or bad, is a member of the State Labour party, thinks of some of our honorable friends opposite, as reported in the Daily Telegraph of the 24th March -
Concerning the alleged tendency of Federal politicians to assume a superiority over their State brethren, I would like to say I have had a good deal to do with Federal members during the last few years, and I have not found any justification for this idea, so far as the leaders of the Federal branch of the party are concerned, but, in common with every one else, I have noticed some of the small fry display a tendency to put on “dog.” Some of these gentlemen assume that statesmen who are called upon to deal with such intricate problems as the control of lighthouses and the designing of postage stamps must of necessity be possessed of greater mental calibre than politicians whose lives are spent in handling such trivial matters as the education of the people, the enactment and administration of our land laws, the control of public works, and other relatively unimportant functions.
From that extract we can understand that things in New South Wales are not altogether too pleasant for honorable senators on the other side, and that there is no unanimity amongst them.
– There is nothing wrong with that.
– It is quite true, I admit. At the same time it does not make for solidarity, if my honorable friends talk about going to the country over this question, when members of the State party take a different view. It cannot make for the success of the Labour party at the poll. During this debate we have heard a good deal of the effect of combines and trusts. This is the usual cry which, of course, we must expect. Very little evidence or proof has been offered. I listened carefully to hear any real solid facts concerning the practical effect of trusts, but I do not think that any honorable senator quoted a figure to show that any increases in prices of recent years can be definitely attributed to trusts. I have heard references to the Beef Trust, and have been told about beef generally rising in price; but I have heard nothing to associate the Beef Trust with the higher prices of beef. Against that contention let me quote the opinion of a gentleman in New South Wales who was intrusted by the State Government with the responsibility of inquiring into the distribution of food. During the electoral campaign it was generally stated, and the statement was made much use of by honorable senators opposite, that there were combines in twenty-four or twenty-five callings, and that the grievance was not so much the actual cost of the primary products as the cost to the consumer and the means of distribution. It was said that there was a corner here and a combine there, and that by the time the consumer got an article he had to pay a very much enhanced price.
– I thought that honorable senators opposite said there were no combines.
- Mr. Thomas Bavin was the gentleman appointed by the State Government to go into the question of how combines affected the prices charged to the public. I quote from his report. He says -
Prices ure not seriously affected by combinations or rings of persons actually engaged in tha production or distribution of eatables. In the fish trade there is no evidence of combination of any kind. In the meat trade there is evidence that one firm controls a great proportion of the wholesale mutton business at Glebe Island, and that certain firms in the same business which appear to be in competition with this firm are not really so. The firm in question has powerful competitors, however, and there is nothing to show that its power has been used to the detriment of the consumer.
Later on, dealing with the bread trade, the statement is made -
Although there is an association of master bakers, which fixes the price of bread from time to time, there is no indication that excessive or unreasonable rates are fixed, or that they would be adhered to if they were, nor is there any penalty for failure to observe them. Flour quotations are fixed by agreement between the city millers. Mr. Bavin could not say whether the prices fixed were above fair competitive prices or not. The price fixed does not always appear to be observed by the members of the association, and in other ways the competition between millers seems to be keen. “ On the evidence I have been able to obtain,” says Mr. Bavin, “ I see no reason to suppose that the price of bread is appreciably increased through the combination amongst the millers.” So far as the milk trade is concerned, there is an association of dairymen which fixes prices, but nothing in the nature of a ring or combine which eliminates competition.
I quote that as giving the result of an independent inquiry. It would be of no use for me, coming here as a politician holding Liberal views, to merely say “ No “ to statements made by honorable senators on the other side.
– When was the honorable senator accused of having Liberal views?
– It was not by Senator McGregor; but if he wishes to know the actual date, I can give it to him. It was on the 31st May of last year, with 349.000 people behind me.
– And another 50,000 waiting to get there.
– Yes. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. In moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I made a statement in reply to an interjection by Senator Guthrie. I am glad the honorable senator is here to-day to hear what I have to say on the subject. Dealing with -the question of trusts and combines, I made reference to a certain conspiracy that was formed in Newcastle, and I asked Senator Guthrie whether he had not signed an agreement in regard to that famous conspiracy to put up the price of coal to the public. If honorable senators will refer to Hansard, they will find that I said -
Bid not the honorable senator sign that document?
Senator Guthrie replied
No; the honorable senator is up a tree.
Later on in my speech, I said -
Senator Guthrie’s name appeared in the document dealing with this matter.
– No; it did not.
– I have not been in Newcastle for ten years.
– The public are well aware of the famous strike which took place in Newcastle, when the coal trade was held up. Goal was selling at Ils. per ton, and the price went up to ?2 188. 6d. and ?3 a ton. Thousands of people were thrown out of work because no coal could be obtained to carry on various industries. Goal is generally recognised to be a public utility that the community cannot do without. I made the statement that when coal was run up in price, three individuals - Peter Bowling, W. M. Hughes, and Senator Guthrie - signed an agreement by which they undertook to run the Ebbw Main and
Young Wallsend mines, and produce coal at the rate of 1,000 tons per day.
– They did not do anything of the sort.
– And the price they expected to realize at that time, owing to the shortage of coal, was something like £3 per ton. No greater hold-up ever took place in the history of Australia. The public were clamouring for coal, and they had to get it to carry on the various industries. The railways, the ferry steamers, the gas companies, and those engaged in other industries, all required coal, and there was not a pound of it being produced. I have gone to some trouble to find out whether my statement or that made by Senator Guthrie was true. I assure the honorable senator that if I found that I was wrong in the statement I made I should be tlie first to apologize to him. I do not mind hard fighting, and I do not care what statement is made against a man’s political life, so long as it is based upon actual facts.
– Never mind the honorable senator’s apology; let Kim give us the facts.
– Very well. T have here the agreement to which I have referred, and I intend that it shall appear in Hansard, as it is a document of great importance. The agreement is as follows : -
This agreement made the 10th day of November, in the year of our Lord 1909, between A. Kethel & Co. Ltd., a company duly incorporated under the Companies Act of New South Wales (hereinafter- called the company), of the one part, and William Morris Hughes, of Sydney, member of the House of Representatives, Senator Robert Guthrie, of Adelaide, and Peter Bowling, of Newcastle (hereinafter called the purchasers), of the other part, witnesseth that, in consideration of the sum of £1 paid by the purchasers, and of the covenants hereinafter contained by the purchasers, to supply labour for the working of the collieries hereinafter mentioned, the company agrees to give an option to purchase and dispose of all coal obtained from the Ebbw Main and Young Wallsend collieries for the term of, and on the conditions hereinafter mentioned, that is to say -
Option to bc for a period of four days, and, if accepted, the company will thereafter sell to the purchasers, or on account of the purchasers, all coal hewn and obtained from the said collieries until the termination of this agreement in manner hereinafter provided.
The said company will during the period of this agreement manage the said collieries, and for that purpose provide at its expense necessary managers and colliery officials. The said purchasers to work the said collieries at their full capacity for at least two shifts in each day.
In the Newcastle district to-day there are 4,000 men out of employment because they do not wish to work two shifts.
– That is another question altogether. Let the honorable senator stick to the original question.
– I shall deal with that question later. The agreement continues^ -
So long as such coal-miners are provided, and work according to the ordinary custom of coal-miners in the district, and so long as no serious stoppage of work arises through the breakdown of machinery or other unusual circumstances or accident, the said company guarantees that the total output of coal from the said collieries will be at least 1,000 tons per day of three shifts.
They did not mind working three shifts then.
– In order that the public might get coal.
– The public! The public were going to be fleeced by being asked to pay £3 per ton for the coal. The price at the time of the strike was lis. per ton.
– And the honorable senator’s Government collared the whole of the coal.
– Yes; we collared the whole lot.
– They commandeered it.
– Yes; and we gave the best practical example of the way to break up a combine that was ever given in New South Wales. We could not have done what we did if the State had not owned the railways.
– There would have been no coal for the State Government to take if the agreement to which the honorable senator is referring had not been signed.
– That is so. The agreement continues -
I ask honorable senators to listen to this -
That is in case it went up to £3 10s. or £4 per ton.
– In case it went down to 5s. a ton.
– The agreement continues -
– What bearing has this on the request for a double dissolution?
– Senator Guthrie denied having signed this document, and I am going to show that he did sign it.
– Was 9s. per ton the selling price?
– Yes, at the time.
The miner was not to get a bite out of it. He was to get the standard rate of wages.
– Who was to get the rest?
– Those who signed the document, and the company. The honorable senator was one of the men who signed the document.
– What does the standard union rate mean?
– Whatever was being paid at that time in the district. I think that the hewing rate was 4s. 2d. per ton on the basis of a selling rate of11s. per ton. To continue the agreement -
At the foot of the agreement appears a statement that the common seal of A. Kethel & Co. Ltd. was affixed to it pursuant to a resolution of the board of directors passed on 19th November, 1909. This bears the signatures of H. M. Moore* and James Cant, being the holders of certain debentures covering the assets of A. Kethel & Co. Ltd., consented to this agreement, and agreed to continue its terms in the event of it taking possession of the collieries.
– Is that a statement?
– It is a copy of the agreement signed by Senator Guthrie in connexion with the famous conspiracy to which I have referred.
– There was no conspiracy in that.
– What are the signatures to that document ? Will the honorable senator read them ?
– I have read them. It was signed by Senator Guthrie, Mr.. W. M. Hughes, and Peter Bowling.
– Those signatures are typed on the document which the honorable senator has.
– Yes. This is a copy of the agreement. Senator Guthrie laughs at that, but I fully expected the laughter, and have come prepared even for that. If my honorable friends wish to know how this document came to see the light, I can inform them that, as a member of the Wade Government who dealt with that strike, I knew something of this document, and it came out in connexion with the prosecution of the Coal Vend in this way: Mr. Cant was in the box under examination. He was managing director of Alexander Kethel and Co, and was being cross-examined by Mr. Adrian Knox, K.C., when this evidence was given -
Was a formal agreement entered into between Kethel & Co. and Messrs. Bowling, Hughes, and Senator Guthrie? - Yes.
Have you the agreement or a copy of it? - No.
You were subpoenaed to produce it, and do not produce it? - I have made a search for it, and cannot find it.
A similar copy to this was handed up, and the witness admitted that it was identical in wording with the agreement entered into with Senator Guthrie and Messrs. Hughes and Bowling.
– There is no proof of the signatures.
– I have quoted the sworn testimony given in Court. Senator Guthrie said that he did not sign the agreement, and I make the charge that he did.
– That is not the charge the honorable senator made.
– What is the significance of the document. Supposing Senator Guthrie did sign it; what about it?
– Senator Pearce may not have been present when I spoke in moving the adoption of the AddressinReply. I was talking of the effect of combines and trusts, and Senator Guthrie was rather busy with interjections, of which I do not complain. I told the honorable senator that he should not make a noise about combinations, because he was associated with a combination during the Newcastle coal strike. The honorable senator denied my statement.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– This was a combination which undertook to put up the price of coal to £3 per ton when it was worth only 9s. per ton at the pit’s mouth. There were two coal mines which agreed with Senator Guthrie, Mr. W. M. Hughes, and Mr. Peter Bowling–
– To work.
– To work the mine and produce at the rate of 1,000 tons a day coal which was worth 9s. per ton at the pit’s mouth.
– We did not agree to sell at all. We agreed to work.
– The honorable senator did not do a tap in the mines. At that time coal was worth at the ship’s side lis. per ton. Under the agreement entered into by Senator Guthrie, that coal would have realized £2 18s. 6d. per tori at least.
– The agreement did not say so.
– The market price of coal at the time was £2 18s. 6d. per ton, and it is only reasonable to suppose that they would have obtained that price for it.
– That is the honorable senator’s own deduction.
– They estimated that a profit of £6,000 per week would be made.
– Does the honorable senator know how much coal was hewn under that agreement?
– I know that directly it was put out it was taken.
– I did not put out a ton of coal.
– What is the honorable senator’s proof that Senator Guthrie signed that document?
– It was sworn to in evidence.
– And Senator Guthrie does not deny it.
– I do not; but we did not hew a ton of coal under that agreement.
– The whole thing was published in the press.
– Then why did Mr. Cant swear that he could not find the document ?
– Because he could not find it. The honorable senator has not yet ascertained the facts of the case.
– I have got all the facts that I want.
– T - The best evidence that nothing was wrong with the agreement is that both Senator Guthrie and Mr. Hughes were subsequently returned to this Parliament.
– Senator Oakes has not yet offered any proof of his statement.
– I have given all the proof that is required.
– Senator Guthrie now admits that which he denied last week.
– I do not.
– During the course of his speech, Senator Needham criticised the Vice-President of the Executive Council very severely on account of his action in supporting Mr. Deakin, and condemned the inconsistency of Senator Gould and myself for supporting a Free Trader like Mr. Joseph Cook. I interjected at the time that there were members on his own side who had been pleased enough to support Mr. Cook in days gone by. Senator McDougall denied the accuracy of my statement, and I now propose to establish its correctness.
– My denial had reference to the pledge.
– While Senator Gardiner was speaking, he warmly attacked me from the stand-point of my political freedom, and in this connexion he quoted the famous Coercion Act of New South Wales. I merely wish to say that, in similar circumstances, I would act to-morrow precisely as I did on the occasion in question. At that time I was prepared to defend the citizens of New South Wales against one of its most dangerous men, in the person of Mr. Peter Bowling. The Government of which I was a member paid the penalty of a misguided public opinion-
– Was it the honorable senator who put the irons on him ?
– The Leader of the Opposition may have that statement recorded in Hansard, if he so desires; it is no good to me.
– Bowling was made a catspaw of by Billy Hughes.
– He had not the pluck to stick to his guns.
– One stuck to his guns; but the other scuttled away.
– Where did he go?
– He did not go down to the South Coast and advise the miners there to go out on strike, otherwise he would have kept company with Mr. Bowling.
SenatorFerricks. - Can the honorable senator blame him for not putting himself in the same position as Bowling?
– Mr. Bowling may have been misguided; but he was honest and consistent in his attitude. But Mr. Hughes, having placed himself at the head of the movement, got out quickly enough when danger threatened.
– Billy Hughes would paralyze the honorable senator if he were here. The honorable senator would be a shattered oak for the rest of his existence.
– When I was challenged by Senator Need ham to name the two gentlemen upon the opposite side of the chamber who had supported Mr. Cook, I named Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae.
– We supported him when he was a Labourite.
– The honorable senator supported him in 1894. When Senator Gardiner was speaking, he said that he did not sign the Labour party’s pledge at that time, and that the pledge then was not what it is to-day. Also, he affirmed that he had not stood against any accredited Labour man.
– It is quite true that he never stood against any accredited Labour man.
– When Senator Gardiner was seeking election in1894, in addressing a meeting at Parkes, he was thus reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 24th June of that year -
He denounced the pledge, saying that it had been drawn by traitors to the cause of Labour, and declared that as soon as a representative pledged his responsibility to the caucus it cut the bond binding him to his constituents. He condemned some members of the local Labour League, who, in obedience to the dictation of a Sydney clique, had refused to recognise his candidature as a Labour candidate.
Having won that election with Mr. Hutchison, in returning thanks, the Forbes andParkes Gazette reports him as having said -
He had foreseen what was likely to be brought about by the solidarity pledge, and at - the risk of losing his seat and being branded as a traitor to the cause, he had fought determinedly against any attempt to shackle a representative and bind him down as to the manner in which he should record his vote. The speaker went on to refer in very severe terms to the so-called solidarity Labour party. The pledge had cost the Labour party sixteen seats. When they had men coming here and branding as traitors those who opposed the pledge it wasa very bad state of things. A Mr. Kohn, from the Central Labour Electoral League, spoke for Mr. Hanney, the Central Labour Electoral League candidate, and Mr. Gardiner, speaking of him, said: “He had not intended to refer to him, but whenhe (Mr. Kohn) showed his hand so plainly it was time for the workers to consider whether they were going to place their affairs in the handsof a clique of that description in Sydney.”
Later on he rubbed it into Mr. W. M. Hughes and Mr. Griffith for keeping Mr. Dibbs in office. Here is a copy of the pledge which Senator Gardiner refused to sign–
– I would not sign a pledge of that kind to-day.
– The honorable senator has signed a pledge ten times stronger than that.
– That is absolutely and deliberately incorrect.
– Th This is tlie pledge of the Australian Labour party to-day -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organization-
Not by the Labour leagues-
– Read it without interpolation.
– I will. It continues - and if elected to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire’ from the contest without tlie consent of the executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
If that is not a stronger pledge than that which my honorable friend, Senator Gardiner, refused to sign in .1894, 1 am a bad judge of binding documents. It has been said that there was no central body controlling elections at that period. I propose to read the manifesto issued by the party at the time to the Labour supporters in New South “Wales, warning them against bogus candidates. It is as follows : -
The Central Executive takes this opportunity of putting you on your guard against bogus Labour candidates. All the genuine men who are selected by the Labour League, and running in the interests of Labour, are enumerated below.
The names of Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae do not appear in that list -
They are pledged to sink the fiscal issue and go solid in the interests of the workers. All other professed Labour men are traitors to the Labour cause. Vote against the nominees of monopoly.
Tlie names of Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae were in that little bunch -
Vote against the treacherous miscreants who at this critical hour are attempting to run the Labour cause by masquerading in the guise of its friends.
That manifesto was issued over the signature of Mr. J. C. Watson, tlie President of the Central Labour League of that day. I think I have conclusively proved, in reply to Senator Needham’s challenge, that both Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae, at the time of which I speak, were supporters of Mr. Joseph Cook.
– He was a Labourite at the time.
– He was leading the Labour party, and the honorable senator took the view that I take now. I would not sign that pledge, for the same reason that Senator Gardiner offered when returning thanks, that it would bind him down to break the bond between him and his constituents. I have proved that Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae stood in the interests of Mr. Cook at that time when they refused to sign the pledge put forward by the Central Labour Electoral League to be signed by properly accredited Labour candidates at that particular election. They were declared bogus by the central body in their manifesto issued over Mr. Watson’s signature. I have therefore proved all I had to prove, that my statement in the first place was absolutely correct.
– I defy the honorable senator to show that either Senator Gardiner’s name or mine was mentioned in that manifesto.
– The honorable senators were not specifically mentioned in the manifesto, but they were not included in the list of properly accredited Labour men, and all others were declared bogus and recreant to the cause of Labour. In the 1894 election, Mr. Hanney was the selected Labour man sent from Sydney by the Labour Electoral League, and Mr. Kohn, a Socialist from Sydney, spoke on his behalf. It is interesting to turn up the Forbes Gazette of the time, and see what Mr. Hanney, who was the lily-white gentleman representing Labour, had to say about Senator Gardiner.
– If Mr. Hanney contested the ballot with me, and I won the ballot, is the honorable senator prepared to stake his seat while I stake mine on tlie question of who is right?
– I quite recognise that Senator Gardiner is a hard fighter, and I have no objection to his method of fighting, but he will recognise that when a statement of mine is challenged I must either prove or withdraw it. When Senator Gardiner put up in 1891 Mr. Hanney spoke on his behalf. Is not that so?
– He ran against me for selection.
– He may have done so, but did he not speak on the honorable senator’s behalf?
– Did he go up for selection against the honorable senator in 1894?
– Yes; he again ran against me for selection in 1894.
– Then how did he get the selection of the central body?
– He was beaten for selection, and ran against the Solidarity League and the Independent League united, although he had agreed to their union.
– Then why was not Senator Gardiner’s name in the accredited list of Labour representatives in the manifesto ?
– I do not know, nor do I know whether it would be in a printed list to-morrow.
– It was not there, at any rate.
– You have not shown that any one ran against me on that occasion.
– I did not say that any one did. I simply said that Senator Rae stood at that time in Mr. Cook’s interest.
– I never stood in any man’s interest; I stood in the interests of the Labour movement.
– The honorable senator stood as a supporter of Mr. Cook if he likes to have it that way.
– Mr. Cook issued a manifesto at that time as Leader of the Labour party.
– That is exactly what I have been saying. I have no fault to find with the criticisms of honorable senators opposite, except where insinuations have been made with regard to the honour of our public men in the instances that I have already mentioned.
– I would suggest, Mr. President, that the two paragraphs of the amendment be put separately.
– If it is the wish of the Senate I will put the two paragraphs of the amendment separately.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
Question - That the following words 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 “ - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 20
Question - That the following words be added: - “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 States of the Commonwealth, and is deserving of the severest censure.” - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the motion, as amended, be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. May it Pleaseyour 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.
Your Advisers deserve special condemnation for their gross favoritism and betrayalof the public interests in letting a costly contract for railway construction without providing the safeguard of public competition.
– I remind the Senate that under standing order 12 it is necessary that a motion should now be passed that the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him. The Leader of the Senate has intimated that he does not intend to move such a motion, and it now rests with any honorable senator to submit a motion.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
– The presentation of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General has always appeared to me to be an extremely tame ceremony. On this occasion we ought to do the thing properly or not at all. On several occasions when I have accompanied the President not more than half-a-dozen honorable senators thought it worth their while to go into the Library to meet His Excellency. When there is a large number of honorable senators in the building and they can go without any inconvenience to themselves, it is only right and proper, I think, to do the business in a satisfactory manner. I suggest that on this occasion we should roll up and give the new Governor-General a better welcome in this regard than his predecessors received. I hope that the Senate will act upon my suggestion.
– You are pleading with the Government now, are you not?
– Yes; their serried ranks are also welcome to join the force of Labour senators, whom I specially expect to roll up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Notice of Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into contracts between the Government and Mr. Teesdale Smith, and Orders of the Day Nos. 2 to 7 inclusive, Private Business (Constitution Alteration Bills), being proceeded with without delay.
– I want to make an appeal to honorable senators to consider a little measure I have on the notice-paper. I, of course, am bound to oppose the attempt made by Senator McGregor, as I have done on previous occasions, to take the business out of the hands of the Government; but beyond emphasizing the fact that once more the Senate is doing that, I shall not labour the point. I do make a special appeal to the Senate to allow me an opportunity to present the Defence Bill. It is not a big measure, and I shall not occupy time to any great extent. I feel that after having introduced the Bill there will be the customary request made for an adjournment of the debate to the next day of sitting. If, however, honorable senators persist with the motion of Senator McGregor, they will see that this Bill, small in itself, but still important to the working of the defence system, possibly may go over to next week here and make a belated appearance elsewhere. I tell the Senate that, in the interests of the Defence Forces, I am very desirous of getting the Bill passed into law. I do hope that, in view of this statement, Senator McGregor will at least withdraw, temporarily, his motion, and enable me to present the Bill
– I would be very pleased to comply with the’ wish of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, but they are so anxious to pass what they have characterized as the “ test “ measures that it is absolutely necessary that we should proceed without delay with the business that is indicated in my motion. As regards the little Bill to which the Minister has referred, he introduced it here last session; and if he had been a little milder in his temper I have not the least doubt that it would have been passed; but his impetuosity lost him an opportunity. I can assure the Government that there is no intention in the Senate to “ stonewall “ anything. I hope that the work which we are anxious to see completed here will take very little time, and before the double dissolution comes the Minister will have plenty of opportunities of dealing with his little ewe lamb - the amending Defence Bill.
– Another slap at the Government !
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
The action which the Opposition have taken this afternoon may appear drastic, but it will be noticed by members of the Senate and the public generally that the Leader of the Government in this Chamber practically abdicated his position when he refused to move a motion in connexion with the Address-in-Reply. When the honorable senator took that course it was necessary in order that we might be able to go on with the business to suspend the Standing Orders, as the Opposition could not take over Government as well as private members’ business. The motion I now submit for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into everything in connexion with the Teesdale Smith contract is very different from the amendment carried upon the Address-in-Reply. The amendment only condemned the action of the Government for letting contracts without calling for tenders. The object of the motion I am now proposing is to make inquiries, not only as to the letting of a particular contract without tenders, but as to the means used by Mr. Teesdale Smith to induce the Government or the officials to influence the Minister in giving that contract. Its object also is to ascertain what would be a reasonable price for carrying out the work of the contract; whether, in letting it, the consideration of urgency was the only motive that actuated the Government, and whether any urgency in the matter really existed. There are many other phases of the question on which evidence should be taken in order to test the accuracy of some of the statements that have been made by members and supporters of the Government and by the officers who advised them. One statement made by the late Engineer-in-Chief of the Commonwealth railways was that he requested several influential and important individuals to go to Port Augusta, make inquiries as to the construction of the line, and put in prices. With one exception we never heard of any of these gentlemen, and we should like to get evidence on that matter. As the Minister of Defence is in such a hurry to get on to the large volume of Government business on the paper, I shall not labour this question any further.
– In seconding the motion I wish to say that I also regret the somewhat discourteous, and certainly disloyal, attitude-
– That matter has passed, and the honorable senator will not be in order in alluding to it.
– I was rather surprised at the attitude the Minister of Defence took up in connexion with the Address-in-Reply. Every member of the Senate, and every member of the community who has followed the debates in both Houses of this Parliament during the last few weeks, must be convinced of the necessity of an inquiry into the Teesdale Smith contract. An inquiry is necessary, because the Government have shuffled and refused information until it was squeezed out of them by all the processes which are available in Parliament. We know that a great deal of information is still required, aud it can be obtained by the crossexamination on oath of individuals. Strange to say, Mr. Teesdale Smith and the late Engineer-in-Chief of Commonwealth railways have been very close friends. They have been in partnership to some extent, and we want to get at the bottom of that sympathetic partnership, and find out what part it played in this smellful contract. We want to know how it is that the Government were so lax in their administration as to permit this contract to be entered into without knowing the facts. These things can only be brought out by putting the individuals who have played a leading part in the matter on their oath. A number of accusations have been made against both of these men, and we are in duty bound to give them an opportunity to put their side and reply to the charges made against them. It would be very unfair that members of this Parliament should make such accusations against them without giving them an opportunity to be heard. The appointment of a Select Committee for the purpose of conducting an inquiry is the proper course to take for the settlement of so controversial a matter. It is only fair to the two men to whom I have referred, to political parties in this Parliament, and to the public, that an inquiry into this contract should be made, and that we should learn what means are adopted by the present Administration to safeguard the public funds.
– -Before the motion is put, I should like to add a word to what has been said. The amendment carried just now in adding a paragraph to the Address-in-Reply has no bearing upon the motion now before us. The Leader of the Government in the Senate interjected that it was grossly unfair to pass a verdict in the form of that amendment, and then appoint a Select Committee to inquire into this matter.
– Hear, hear !
– As Senator McGregor has already stated, there are many other things to be inquired into besides the letting of this contract without tenders being called. The amendment upon the AddressinReply merely condemned the principle of letting contracts without the safeguard of public competition. It should be remembered, also, that on the amendment the Senate divided, presumably upon party lines, whilst in the motion now submitted there is provision made for the appointment of three representatives of the party on the Government side. That provides a safeguard against any one-sided or faked verdict by the proposed Select Committee. The representatives of the Ministerial party on the Committee will have an ample opportunity to elicit any information that will tend to bring out the whole truth. It was merely a party statement to suggest that it is proposed to in any way give a prejudged verdict. The publication of the evidence of the Select Committee will render it impossible to suppress the facts, even though honorable senators desired that they should be suppressed. It is a statement impossible of refutation that the motion provides every opportunity for eliciting the whole truth in connexion with this matter.
– In moving the motion, Senator McGregor made some suggestion that I had abdicated my position.
– Is the Minister of Defence in order in referring to a matter which you have prevented me from referring to ?
– I- was not referring to it.
– I allowed Senator McGregor to make a mere casual reference to the matter in question, and I did not propose to allow Senator Millen to make more than a casual reference to it. I think the honorable senator was entitled to do that.
– Then where do my rights come in?
– Senator de Largie proposed to go very much further than did Senator McGregor or than I understood Senator Millen desired to go. Not only did the honorable senator allude to the fact which has been referred to, but he proceeded to comment upon it, and suggested that the action of the Minister was disloyal. At that I stopped the honorable senator. Senator McGregor’ merely stated the fact that Senator Millen did not move a motion, but he did not comment upon it.
– That is all I intended to say.
– I must say that I cannot compliment my honorable friends opposite upon their sporting instincts. One would have thought that, placed as 1 am here, they would not have been so supersensitive. I have no sense of obligation to honorable senators opposite for any undue generosity, because, in view of the disparity between our numbers, one would have imagined that they would not have been quite so ready to avail themselves of any advantage which they thought an accidental remark or the use of the Standing Orders would afford them. When I was interrupted I was repeating the statement with which this motion was launched. Tlie Leader of the Opposition said that I had abdicated my position. I want to say that I wish I could abdicate it. If Senator McGregor imagines that I have been filled with a perfect hysteria of enjoyment during the time that has elapsed since this Parliament met, he is making a fatal mistake. I am waiting till circumstances will permit me to abdicate - 1. am anxious for the opportunity to arise. The reason I wish to abdicate my position is that the action taken by Senator McGregor to-day is quite in keeping with the policy which he and his friends have followed ever since Parliament met. Without any regard to the condition of the business-paper or the intentions of the Government, they have done nothing but pursue a policy of taking the business out of the hands of the Government–
– Order ! That is not the question before the Senate. The question before the Chair is motion No. 2 upon the business-paper. Whilst the Minister’s remarks would have been quite in order on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, they are not in order on this motion.
– Turning to the motion under consideration, I wish to say that in spite of the protests made by Senators McGregor, de Largie, and Rae, it does appear to me that the Senate has placed itself in this position : that having recorded its verdict - as Senator Rae admits on a strictly party basis - it is now asked to select a Committee which will be lit to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry. What did Senator Rae mean?
– I said that both sides would be represented on the Committee.
– And both sides were represented on the last division.
– But the Government were not largely represented in that division.
– That is why I am under no obligation to honorable senators opposite for any undue generosity on their part. Honorable senators may attempt to disguise the real point at issue as much as they like, but I maintain that they have already expressed condemnation of the Government because of its action in regard to the Teesdale Smith contract. Yet it is now proposed to appoint a Committee for the purpose of inquiring into the details of that contract.
– We want to clear up one or two details.
– Senator McGregor wants an inquiry as to whether the urgency which was alleged to be the reason for entering into the contract existed or not. I venture to say that this Chamber would not go so far as to affirm that under no circumstances should any contract be let without calling for tenders. There may be circumstances under which such a course of conduct would be absolutely justified. It is alleged by the Government that the urgency which existed for the completion of the work undertaken by Mr. Teesdale Smith was a justification for its action. Senator McGregor says that he wants to inquire into that. In other words, he wishes to inquire into what he has condemned the Government for doing. If that is not recording a verdict first and inquiring into the facts afterwards, I am unable to understand the meaning of simple language.
– A good primd facie case has been made out.
– In no other assemblage in the world would a verdict on a primd facie case be recorded first and an inquiry take place afterwards. Honorable senators opposite, having set down in a public document to be presented to the Governor-General their judgment in connexion with this contract, now come along and make a pretence of desiring an inquiry into it.
– We want to prove things.
– The honorable senator wishes to prove the verdict which he and his colleagues have already recorded.
– Does the Minister of Defence wish to deny us the opportunity of doing so?
– I am not going to deny the honorable senator anything. If I thought that a denial on my part would meet with success, I might take up a different attitude. But I am entirely reasonable under the influence of mathematical considerations. I say that the demand for the appointment of this Committee would have presented a very much better appearance had it been brought forward without the “ tack “ to the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech. Whatever may be said to the contrary, the fact remains that it is now proposed to create a Committee to inquire into a matter of administration in respect of which this Chamber has already recorded an adverse verdict.
– Not at all.
– Is it a favorable verdict ?
– It is an adverse verdict in regard to only one phase of it.
– The words of Senator McGregor strike at the root of the whole thing. Was there justification for letting this contract or not? Senator McGregor has affirmed that he wishes to inquire whether there was any justification for the action of the Government.
– The Government have a fair chance of getting their side represented on the Committee.
– I have a fair chance of predicting what will be the verdict of that body. I have only to look at the verdict which has already been recorded without evidence. Having taken part in the public condemnation of the Government, it is unreasonable to suppose that all the inquiry in the world will cause any ‘member of that Committee to reverse his judgment.
– T - The condemnation was on the general practice of letting contracts without tender.
– The Leader of the Opposition wishes to know if there was any justification for the action of the
Government. He should have asked that question first, and have pressed for this inquiry first.
– We did.
– Having condemned the Government for their action this inquiry becomes unnecessary.
– The Government refused to allow an inquiry when it was asked for in another place.
– I cannot help thinking that it is sinking into the minds of honorable senators opposite that they would have been in a stronger position if, instead of recording the verdict which they did a few minutes ago, they had first pressed for an inquiry into the facts, which would have enabled them to return an unbiased verdict. I am not going to oppose the constitution of the Committee. A similar case has arisen here before. I regard this proposal as anotherexpression of determination on the part of the Opposition not to devote its great strength to pressing forward with legislative proposals for the good of the country, but to use it for the purpose of obstructing and harassing the Government in its administrative work.
– Shame !
– As Senator Long has remarked, it is a great shame. This House was constituted for some purpose other than that.
– Is it not the function of the Opposition to see that administration is pure?
-Undoubtedly. But there is a great difference between an Opposition which exercises its abundant opportunities for inquiry and criticism and an Opposition which deliberately lays itself out on every possible occasion to harass and obstruct the Government in the discharge of their duties.
– Is the Minister referring to the appointment of Select Committees?
– I am referring to the appointment of Select Committees, to motions which appear on the businesspaper, and to action taken in calling for the production of papers which would not have been called for but for the fact that honorable senators opposite are stronger in this Chamber than are the Government and their supporters.
– Possibly they have been called for because the Government have done so many “ crook “ things.
– The honorable senator may put it in that way if he chooses. But I would point out that from the time this Parliament met, the Opposition in this Chamber have done nothing but continually follow the course which I have indicated. By means of motions, by calling for papers, by the appointment of Select Committees, and by taking the control of business out of the hands of the Government, they have demonstrated again and again that their one object is not to proceed with their legislative duties, but to harass and obstruct the Ministry.
– I would ask the Minister of Defence not to pursue that line of argument. He has already emphasized it more than once. The motion before us is one for the appointment of a Select Committee. Reasons for and against the appointment of that Committee will be relevant to the motion, but the Minister cannot go beyond that.
– I did not intentionally desire to evade your ruling, sir. I was merely putting forward reasons which appealed to me in regard to the attitude which I propose to take up concerning the appointment of this Committee. I cannot be expected to approve of its appointment-
– I should have thought that the Minister would have welcomed it. I would do so under similar circumstances.
– Possibly I would do so if the matter were not about to be remitted to a jury which has already pronounced its verdict.
– If the Government have nothing to conceal, of what is the Minister afraid ?
– Suppose I were to say to the honorable senator, “ If you have nothing to conceal in your private affairs, why should I not probe into them!” what would be his reply? There are dozens of things in connexion with which there is nothing to conceal, and in connexion with which there is no cause for an inquiry. However, as I recognise that the Senate intends to appoint this Committee, I can only express the hope that those who have been nominated from this side of the chamber will see fit to take part in its proceedings. I express that hope because it seems to me that this is a matter of public importance, and that the work of the Committee will be largely nullified if there are not upon it those representatives, who will, by the exercise of their right to cross-examine witnesses, be able to elicit information upon all points, and thus insure that the inquiry shall be more exhaustive and impartial than it otherwise would be.
– I am surprised at Senator Millen endeavouring to confuse an amendment on the Address-in-Reply with the verdict that this Committee will give. The two things are as wide apart as the poles. The amendment to the AddressinReply expressed condemnation of the Government for letting a contract for railway construction without the safeguard of public competition. There can be no inquiry into that aspect of the Teesdale Smith contract, because the Government have admitted in both Houses that they did let a costly contract without the safeguard of public competition. The Government have pleaded guilty to that charge, or have pleaded urgency as an excuse. If I thought that my action in voting for that amendment would conflict with my duties as a member of the Committee, or if the Government had any one to put in my place, I should willingly stand down. I do not regard the question which the Committee has to consider as a party matter. The question of the contract will be inquired into, and all the questions which the Government themselves have brought up will also be considered. In the press within the last day or two Mr. Kelly has instituted a comparison between this and the Queanbeyan railway. It will therefore be essential for the Committee to inquire whether the work in the two cases is similar. Mr. Kelly is evidently under the impression that it is.
– And also Mr. Teesdale Smith’s recent contract on the west coast.
– That, also, will come within the scope of the inquiry. If all these contracts are similar, then presumably this contract will be justified. I have taken an active part in trying to find out the truth in regard to it, and I am convinced that we must have a properlyappointed tribunal to take and sift the evidence of all the people interested in it. There is no ground for Senator Millen ‘s complaint that, in deciding that the granting of contracts without calling for public tenders deserves condemnation, we have already arrived at a verdict, the honorable senator apparently thinking that the verdict will be arrived at on party lines. He referred to other Committees that had been appointed; but he has very little to complain of with regard either to the appointment of Committees or the transaction of business by the Senate. We have frequently suspended the Standing Orders to enable the Government to bring business forward. I suppose, for every occasion on which our side - which consists of twentynine members - has asked for the suspension of the Standing Orders, the Government have asked for it six times, and got it. The Senate has expedited Government business; and if the Minister has any business onthe paper that he thinks urgent, I shall be prepared to sit till any hour to give him an opportunity to get on with it.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
– I regret that Senator Millen should have gone out of his way to complain about the business being taken out of the hands of the Government. I regret, also, that the Senate appears almost to have adopted the practice of expediting its business by suspending the Standing Orders. I find on running through the Journals of the Senate that the Standing Orders were suspended last session an extraordinary number of times. In fact, Ministers secured the suspension almost every time they asked for it. I put that fact forward in reply to Senator Millen’s querulous complaints. The honorable senator, when we ask for the appointment of a Select Committee, should do the Senate the credit of believing that any honorable senator appointed to the Committee - no matter which side he sits on - will be prepared to be guided in the decision that he arrives at by the evidence that he hears. It is unfair for a gentleman holding the position that Senator Millen holds to endeavour, because he happens to be in a minority, to reflect on the Senate in a way which must tend to belittle its reputation. I do not claim to have often gone out of my way to treat Senator Millen generously, but I have frequently complained about other members of the party treating him too generously, and his unjust and querulous complaints tonight are not a fair return for the generous treatment that he has received. I believe the majority of the Senate will continue to extend generosity to the Government in order to facilitate public business. Judging by the division lists, the Government have not had a quorum of their own supporters in the Senate since the beginning of this Parliament - that is their misfortune, not their fault - but during the whole of the tedious session of last year there was only one countout, and that was due to an honorable senator on the Ministerial side using his position to insult other senators. If the Committee is to report by 24th June, it should be constituted as soon as possible by the method proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. If it gets to work quickly, I see no reason why it should not report by the date appointed. No matter what party constitutes a majority of the Committee, I firmly believe that it will investigate the question altogether free from party bias. While I remain a member of the Senate I hope I shall always keep myself free from giving the public an opportunity to condemn us by condemning ourselves. I protest against Senator Millen’s unfair and ungenerous attitude on this question, and assure him that his complaint is not based on facts. We have allowed the Government to adjourn at 9 o’clock at night. Whenever there were reasonable grounds for an adjournment the honorable senator has never had to ask the Leader of the Opposition twice for his consent. My complaint against the Leader of the Opposition has been that he has given more concessions to the Government than to members of his own party. “ There is no justification for Senator Millen’s statement that the Committee has already arrived at its decision. The Committee is moved for by one member of the Senate, the Leader of the Labour party, and the amendment to the Address-in-Reply was moved by another member of the Senate, whom I may call the leader of the small party. There is a distinct difference between the two questions, as I have already shown. Senator Rae’s amendment was moved before the motion for a Select Committee was placed on the business-paper. Senator Millen, with his trickiness - for which he has earned a widespread reputation throughout New South Wales, where he is noted for the skilful and unscrupulous manner in which he twists words and positions - has tried to make it appear that we are endeavouring to do something that should not be done. I feel so little personal interest in the Committee that if any member on the Ministerial side objected to my presence on it I should be quite willing to stand down. I am not interested in what the verdict of the Committee will be, except so far as it deals with a matter that concerns the interests of the public. I stated my opinions on the contract in the Address-in-Reply debate. I did all that any man could be reasonably expected to do to ascertain the truth of the matter, because Senator Rae and I walked for 30 miles after leaving the railway to the end of the contract and 30 miles back, and what we saw during that walk justifies me in saying that the Government will be well advised to send their own members to take part in the investigation with open minds. I hope the Government will not object to the motion. If they do it will weaken their position, because it will make it appear that they are afraid to have a. contract into which they have entered inquired into. There are good reasons why it should be inquired into. There is a short stretch of railway on the Queanbeyan line where there are hard cuttings. None such exists on this line. There is on the Queanbeyan line a steel bridge spanning a stream 60 or 70 feet across. There are also four or five steel-girder overhead bridges, with embankments made up, and yet the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs says that that work is on all-fours with the contract for earthworks on the transcontinental line. The contract given to Mr. Teesdale Smith was not a contract for building a railway. It was merely a contract for earthworks. It will be well for the Committee to get to work quickly and energetically, and furnish a report to the Senate showing exactly the position of the earthworks, the sort of contract that was entered into, and the sort of business methods the Government have adopted in dealing with a matter which is not their or our immediate concern, but that really concerns the general public, who have to foot the bill.
– I think that Senator Gardiner’s connexion with the proposed Committee would be better if it were that of a witness than of a judge. Personally, I do not object to an inquiry being held into this or any other thing which the Government have done. If a mistake has been made, let us know where it lies. The Opposition have been so gravelled for matter for charges against the Government that every single member of it has run as far as he could go in regard to this contract. Every member of the Opposition whom it is proposed to place on the Select Committee has spoken in the strongest terms about this contract. Indeed, some of them have not been above imputing unworthy motives to the Government. The Leader of the Opposition in another place went throughout the country speaking of the contract, talking about side doors, and charging us with doing the thing in secrecy, even charging the Attorney-General with being a party to the matter, in order to convey the impression to the public that this had been a very iniquitous transaction.
– Can you deny that Mr. Teesdale Smith gave some money to the Liberal funds?
– The insinuation has been thrown out that the contract was given to Mr. Teesdale Smith because of favours which he had given to the Liberal party in the shape of a contribution. That statement has been made over and over again.
– Is it not true?
– I do not deny the statement, nor do I affirm it, but it is a wrong issue to raise when we are dealing with a purely business transaction. The Leader of the Opposition should have been the last man to propose to go on to a Select Committee, because he went round the country and told the people that the Government had let a contract under which they were paying 4s. 6d. a yard for work which was worth only 6d. or 8d. a yard. I think that here he said it was worth only 9d. or10d. a yard.
– You are not saying what is accurate.
– I have a report of a meeting held at Benalla, where the honorable senator told the audience that the Government were paying 4s. 6d. a yard to a contractor for doing work which was worth only from 6d. to 8d. a yard.
– No, you are making a mistake. I said that the side drains and the side cuttings could have been done for from 6d. to 81/2d. a yard.
– I am not responsible for the newspapers if, in their reports, they have made a mistake, but that is a statement I saw in the press. I am told that this demand for an inquiry is not a party matter. It has been a party matter from the very beginning. The whole reason for raising the question has been to try to damage the Government. It is not the Government who are on their trial in this matter, but it is the members of the Opposition, who have been making these charges. They cannot prove the charges, and, therefore, they want to try to find out if there is any ground for them. Another object they have is to try to damage Mr. Deane. We all remember the Chinn inquiry, and the attempts that were made day after day to damage the reputation of Mr. Deane.
– He damaged his own reputation on that occasion.
– This is another attempt to try to damage Mr. Deane for the purpose of benefiting Mr. Chinn. Senator de Largie is the last man who ought to have spoken on this matter, after the statements he made last week in regard to Mr. Teesdale Smith, the contractor, and after the flat denial in the newspapers yesterday from Mr. Teesdale Smith, who charged the honorable senator with being something very bad indeed. We have had no word in explanation as to who is correct in these matters. I think that if the honorable senator had desired to appear fair in the public eye he should have risen at the first meeting of the Senate and challenged the letter.
– The letter is an absolute falsehood from beginning to end. Is that emphatic enough for you ? I am prepared to prove my statement if a Select Committee is appointed.
– It is a great pity that I have had to draw this admission from the honorable senator.
– I have written to the press, and denied the statements made by Mr. Smith; is not that emphatic enough ?
– We had an insinuation from the honorable senator tonight that there was a partnership between Mr. Deane and Mr. Teesdale Smith. What right had that insinuation to be made before this business was brought on?
– There are very good grounds for the insinuation.
– We have heard a great deal about the iniquity of the Government letting contracts without call? ing for tenders. Where were these honorable senators who are so supremely virtuous to-day when the Labour Government let a contract for £4,000 to the Wireless Ltd. Company without calling for tenders; a contract for £37,500 worth of powellised sleepers to a Victorian company without calling for tenders; and a large survey contract without calling for tenders? These particularly virtuous gentlemen had nothing to find fault with then.
– A tender for rendering professional services, such as the making of a survey, is an entirely different thing from a tender for carrying out a public work.
– The principle is the same.
– There was no other firm’ capable of tendering for the wireless work, and the Minister knows that.
– That statement is not correct. A large number of the things were imported, and not made here. There were other firms from whom most of the articles could have been obtained.
– Do you say there was any firm who could have tendered for the work?
– For some of the work.
– For the work? Be fair; be definite.
– For some of the work. I have no objection to an inquiry being held into the letting of this contract to Mr. Teesdale Smith, but if it was desired to have a perfectly fair and impartial inquiry, why was not an outside authority proposed in the shape of a police magistrate or a County Court Judge, or some other person who is absolutely aloof from anything which has taken place, and who would bring in a verdict that would be without challenge? I think that the public will not take much notice of the verdict from the proposed Committee. I do not fear the result of an inquiry. It will be found that if a mistake has been made it has been an honest mistake, and that both Mr. Deane and the Minister are absolutely free from blame.
.- It is a most extraordinary thing that when members of the Opposition call public attention to some of the mistakes of the Government, and follow up their action in the public interest by asking for an inquiry, because they are strong enough to force an inquiry from the Government, the gentlemen to conduct the inquiry are referred to as a biased or a packed Committee. Our honorable friends have gone even so far as to call a Judge of a State Supreme Court, who was Chairman of a Royal Commission, a “ chartered bully.”
– I have made use of none of these expressions.
– For a great wonder the honorable senator has not done that. But he knows that the gentleman whom he follows so loyally in this Chamber has indulged more than once in all the expressions I have just quoted. If he is as anxious as lie professes to be for an inquiry, why does he not let us have it? Why does he not court the fullest possible investigation from every standpoint? Notwithstanding the sneers and the jeers at the idea of honorable senators on this side properly arid judicially carrying out the inquiry, I am confident that they will go thoroughly into the matter on behalf of those who sent them here, and make their recommendations as honest, fair, fearless, and cleanminded men. We can afford to pass by the jeers that so frequently emanate from the Government, who are in a wretched minority here, and who are constantly appealing for mercy - a mercy which is too frequently extended to them.
– You have not heard one appeal for mercy.
– We get insulted for our pains and our genorosity. The Government are not entitled to a moment’s consideration. If they had any political decency, if they had a spark of manhood about them, they would not be on the Treasury bench. I am sick and tired of hearing these recriminations from the other side against the members of the Opposition, who have been actuated solely by a sense of public duty. I want the Select Committee to ascertain if there were not in Australia other reputable contractors - and no doubt Mr. Teesdale Smith is one - who would have been glad to tender for this work had an opportunity been given to them. We know of two reputable contractors who would have been only too anxious to compete for the work which Mr. Teesdale Smith has carried out. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has said that the Labour Government let a contract for the erection of wireless works without calling for tenders, knowing, as well as I do, that there was no other firm in Australia capable of undertaking the task, and that, therefore, there was no other firm able to send in a tender.
– No other firm got the chance.
– The Shaw Wireless Company Limited imported, as the Minister knows, special machinery, at a cost of nearly £40,000, to take up the wireless work of Australia. The company were well equipped to undertake any class of work in connexion .with our wireless system ; but they are not getting any work from the present Government. It only shows how hard pushed our honorable friends opposite are to justify their action in the present case, when they have to call to their assistance an instance of the kind I have mentioned, although they know they are misleading the Senate, and indulging in statements which are nothing short of misrepresentations. I would not have risen, had it not’ been - for the remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I am delighted at the attitude which Senator Oakes has taken up in this matter. He realizes that, as a representative of the people, he has a duty to perform, and he has announced his intention of taking a seat on the Select Committee, and seeing that the whole matter is thoroughly inquired into. I feel sure that honorable senators on this side will be glad to see his action emulated by those honorable senators on the other side whom Senator McGregor has nominated to sit on the Select Committee.
.- -I am rather astonished at the ungracious manner in which the representitives of the Government have received this motion. In the ordinary curse, if a man is charged with a misdemeanour, and knows that he has done nothing wrong, the one thing he welcomes is an inquiry. If we judge the Government by that standard - and I think it is a very fair one - we ought to be all the more zealous in pursuing this case. If there is nothing to hide, if the Government have been perfectly fair and aboveboard, then the more deeply the matter is inquired into the better will they appear before the people. For that reason, the Government ought to welcome the appointment of a Select Committee; but, instead of doing that, we find the Minister of Defence trying to prejudice the Committee in the minds of the people by making an assertion which is without the slightest foundation, namely, that the Senate has already pronounced the verdict. It has done nothing of the kind. If the honorable senator will only read the motion which the Senate agreed to this afternoon, he will see that the one thing in connexion with this matter which is dealt with in the motion, is the letting of a contract “ without providing the safeguard of public ‘ competition.” Shortly after the present Government took office, it was given forth with a blare of trumpets that every work conducted under the auspices of the Government was to be the subject of a contract. When one hears of a contract he associates with it immediately the idea of tendering and public competition. It is not assumed that a contract will be let in some office without the knowledge of any body, and at the contractor’s own price and conditions. It is assumed that the contract will be submitted to the ordeal of public competition. That was the declared policy of the present Government. I need hardly say that the Opposition were against the policy of constructing public works by the contract system, and believed in the day-labour system. The present Government said, “ We will have no more of this costly system of day labour; we will go in for contracts.” We find the most extraordinary allegations made with regard to this contract. If I were a member of the Government, and felt as virtuous as some members of the Government appear to be, the one thing for which I should ask in this connexion would be an inquiry, and I should not rest until I got it. If some of the references to the contract have even a shadow of truth about them, something has taken place in connexion with it which is far from the strict path of rectitude. I may be permitted to refer to the late Chief Engineer, and a certain telegram he received from another contractor, Mr. Timms, who offered to compete with others for a particular work which he mentioned. According to the printed correspondence, at the very time Mr. Deane received that telegram he must have been in communication with Mr. Teesdale Smith about the contract, which that gentleman ultimately obtained. What does Mr. Deane do? He conveniently forgets all about Mr. Timms’ telegram, and lets the contract to Mr. Teesdale Smith without offering it to public competition. That story may be true, but it does not look very true. Here is a man who has held a high public position, who has been in charge of railway construction by tlie Federal authorities, and his memory is so defective that he entirely failed to remember the receipt of an important telegram in connexion with a very substantial piece of work which he, as the agent of the Government, was at that moment contemplating. The story seems to me to be an ‘ extraordinary one. Then when we come to the Minister we find that he consents to conditions in the contract which promise Mr. Teesdale Smith, if ‘he performs the work under it to the satisfaction of the EngineerinChief, more work of the same kind.
Senator - McColl. - Who promised that?
– It is in the conditions of the contract.
– The Minister never promised that, directly or indirectly.
– It is in the contract itself, and Mr. Kelly signed it.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - No, he repudiated that portion of it.
– He repudiated it. But what I am coming to is that not only was Mr. Deane’s memory defective, but Mr. Kelly, the great business man of whom we have heard so much, was so careless, or so indifferent, about this document that he signed it without reading it.
– And it is from these honorable senators that we are to expect an impartial tribunal.
– These are the allegations; I am not saying whether they are true or not. When Mr. Kelly subsequently discovered that the condition to which I have referred was a part of the contract, he immediately repudiated it.
– And sent one of his officers to get the agreement back.
– That is so. This is the business Government, and Mr. Teesdale Smith, it appears, has got them on toast. According to the correspondence, lie came on two occasions to Melbourne to see Mr. Kelly, but that gentleman was not available. I suppose that he was gallivanting in Sydney, or doing something other than what he was paid by the people of the country to do. When Mr. Smith found that he could not see Mr. Kelly, he wrote to him in plain language, telling him that he would communicate with him afterwards in a proper fashion.
– And he will, too.
– Here is a minute signed by W. H. Kelly, and dated 5/3/1914, in which that gentleman admits signing the document I refer to. I quote the following: -
He says, further, that at the interview in question there was, so far as his recollection curries him, some discussion with regard to the second piece of work, but he cannot remember any statement I made, directly or indirectly, on the subject. On their return to the office of the Engineer-in-Chief, after a draft had been prepared of the EngineerinChief’ s letter to Mr. Teesdale Smith, dated 7th February, Mr. Teesdale Smith asked that an undertaking with regard to the second portion of the line, between 122 and 129 miles, should be embodied therein, provided he carried out the first work to the satisfaction of the Engineer-in-Chief. Mr. Teesdale Smith appealed to me, saying, “ That was arranged in the Minister’s room.” He did not say, “By the Minister.” I assented to this, and in due course the letter in question, with the condition asked for by Mr. Teesdale Smith, was despatched to him.
Mr. Kelly there admits that he consented to the condition.
– What has Senator McColl to say to that?
– There is nothing there to show that Mr. Kelly ever signed the contract with that condition in it, or promised to do so.
– I do not say that anything that has been alleged in connexion with this contract is true.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Why does not the honorable senator read the minute of the 26th February, 1914, by Mr. Kelly on page 13 of the correspondence ?
– Some one else can read that. All that I say is that a primd facie, case for investigation has been made out, and for that reason I intend to vote for the appointment of the Select Committee.
-Colonel .Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [8.35].-I do not propose to discuss this matter as to its merits. Senator McGregor has done me the honour of proposing my name for the Select Committee, and I am prepared, in acting upon it, and to keep my mind as open as possible in order to see that justice is done. But when an honorable senator in advocating the appointment of the Committee takes it upon himself to read extracts from the printed correspondence laid before Parliament, he should not have carefully suppressed the telegram by Mr. Kelly which specially and definitely refers to the matter which he mentioned. That is putting honorable senators in an unfair position. I asked the honorable senator to read Mr. Kelly’s telegram of the 26th February, 1914, which was written directly after the contract was submitted to him for signature.
– Let us hear it.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I intend to read it. More reliance as to the true position can be placed upon this telegram than upon anything that has previously been read during this discussion. The communication of the 26th February is a telegram addressed to Mr. Teesdale Smith, Marlborough Chambers, Adelaide, in these words -
Be Engineer-in-Chief’s letter to you dated 7th inst., which first came to my notice yesterday, desire inform you concluding paragraph written without my authority - W. H. KELLY-for Minister of Home Affairs.
The concluding paragraph referred to stated that in the event of the contract being carried out to. the satisfaction of the Engineer-in-Chief, the parties would enter into another agreement with regard to another portion of the line. That communication was written two months before the minute to which Senator Stewart has referred, and it makes it clear that the paragraph mentioned appeared in the draft agreement without Mr. Kelly’s authority.
– But he subsequently admitted that he assented to that condition.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - He never made such an admission at all.
– Does the honorable senator not understand plain language when he hears it read?
– This is the impartial party which is going to try the case.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - On the 26th February Mr. Deane wrote to Mr. Teesdale Smith in these terms -
I have to confirm my telegram of even date reading - “ Find that concluding paragraph of my letter of 7th inst., in connexion with section between 122 and 129 miles, was not in accordance with Minister’s approval, and is hereby withdrawn. Letter follows.”
It appears that there has been some misapprehension in this matter. The Minister did not give his approval for more than a contract being let to yon for the earthworks starting at a point 92 miles from Port Augusta to a point 106 miles on the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway, and I accordingly wired you that that part of my letter relating to the section between the 122 and 129 miles was withdrawn. I am sorry that the misapprehension occurred. - Yours faithfully, H. DEANE.
– W - Was not that communication sent after Mr. Fisher had made it public that the contract had been let?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- On the 17th March, Mr. Fisher made a speech in the Melbourne Town Hall.
– H - He wrote to the Department for information, I think, on the 18th March.
– Is the honorable senator “ stone- walling “ the motion?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - No, I wish only to have a fair statement of the matter put before the public. I find that on the 12th March Mr. Fisher wrote to the Department for certain information, but on the 26th February, a fortnight earlier, Mr. Kelly had penned his telegram to Mr. Teesdale Smith telling him that the last paragraph of the contract was without his authority. It therefore could not have been in consequence of any action by Mr. Fisher.
– Will the honorable senator read Mr. Kelly’s minute to the Crown Solicitor on page 15 of the correspondence ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Mr. Kelly’s minute, which is dated 5th March, 1914, reads -
Captain Saunders, Supervising Engineer, Port Augusta, saw me this afternoon with reference to Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract. He had seen the recommendation of the EngineerinChief with regard thereto dated the 5th February, 1914, before he saw me in company with the Engineer-in-Chief and Mr. Tees dale Smith. He took the recommendation as applying to the section from 92 to 106 miles. He remembers that the recommendation in question was handed to the Minister shortly after he and the others arrived, and that, after reading it, the Minister asked the EngineerinChief whether he had satisfied himself as to the rates asked for being, if anything, slightly less than the rates paid by the Government of South Australia to Mr. Teesdale Smith for similar work, and that on receipt of the EngineerinChief’s assurance of this fact, 1 stamped my approval on the papers.
What approval? Approval as to the price to be charged for the section which the contract covered.
– Approval of all the conditions of the contract.
.- -If Mr. Kelly signed it because he approved of all the conditions of the contract, why did he say, on the very day the matter was brought under his notice, that that portion of the contract did not have his sanction ?
– He did not think that he had signed it.
– It is very plain then that he did not know that that condition was contained in the papers. If a man presented me with a document and said, “ Here are the conditions to which we agreed the other day. They are all rightWill you be good enough to initial them ?” and if he had included an extra condition in them, it is quite possible that I might sign them.
– Is- that the honorable senator’s apology for Mr. Kelly?
– No. I make no apology for Mr. Kelly. I merely rose to point out that Senator Stewart’s statement, so far as the papers can give us any idea of how the matter stood, is not correct. I admit that the whole of the surrounding circumstances may be fully inquired into. I am not opposing the appointment of the proposed Select Committee, because I hold that whenever any question arises which impugns the honour of a Minister, it is just as well that it should be investigated.
– I, like Senator Gould, have no objection to sitting on this Committee for the purpose of eliciting information in connexion with the Teesdale Smith contract. But I would point out that this motion has been reached only by honorable senators opposite taking the control of business out of the hands of the Government. The Ministry are in a minority in this Chamber. The suspension of the Standing Orders was moved and carried-
– I have consistently prevented honorable senators from referring to that matter.
– T - The Government had no business to go on with.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. The Minister of Defence had announced that the business to be proceeded with to-night would be the Defence Bill. For weeks past we have been discussing the Address-in-Reply. The whole of the speeches delivered during that debate had reference to the Teesdale Smith contract. After the discussion had been proceeding a week or two, Senator Rae gave notice of an amendment, which was a censure of the Government for” having let this contract to Mr. Teesdale Smith without calling for public tenders.
– Or any other contract.
– That amendment was moved only after Senator Rae found that honorable senators opposite had spoken strongly on the Teesdale Smith contract.
– After we went to South Australia and investigated the matter for ourselves.
– At any rate, the Teesdale Smith contract was the basis of the amendment to the Address-in-Reply which was carried this afternoon. Honorable senators opposite unsparingly condemned the Government for their action in respect of that contract. Senator Gardiner, it will be recalled, after having paid a visit to South Australia, brought back certain geological specimens with the object of showing the character of the country which that contract covered. He strongly censured the Government for their action in letting the contract, and yet he is to be a member of the proposed Committee. Senator McGregor, who opened the debate on the Address-in-Reply on behalf of the Opposition, also condemned that contract. He is to be another member of that body. So also is Senator Buzacott.
– Do not forget Senator Mullan.
– I do not forget him; but, so far, he has not spoken. The three gentlemen whom I have named have already expressed themselves strongly upon this contract.
– Absolutely incorrect. I said that I would not refer to it because we were going to inquire into it.
– At that time the honorable senator did not know that.
– Yes, I did.
– I will accept the honorable senator’s assurance. Then I say that Senators _ McGregor and Gardiner, who have already spoken freely in condemnation of the action of the Government in respect of this contract, are to be members of the proposed Committee. In other words, they are to act as judges in this matter. Those who heard Senator Gould’s speech will admit that he did not mention the Teesdale Smith contract beyond saying that a Select Committee was to be appointed to inquire into it. I designedly abstained from referring to it, and Senator Mullan has not expressed any opinion upon it.
– Oh, yes, he has. Here is his view of it. When Senator Gardiner said that time was the essence of the contract, Senator Mullan interjected, “ With secrecy and the side door added.”
– Then we are to have on this Committee three admittedly prejudiced persons. The only members of it who will be free to express an unbiased opinion will be Senator Gould, Senator Keating, and myself. The public have a perfect right when a Committee of inquiry is appointed to know that that Committee is an impartial one. I do not object to the appointment of a Select Committee-
– Then what is the honorable senator talking about?
– I am talking about the indecency of condemning the Government first and instituting an inquiry afterwards. If honorable senators opposite wished to have an inquiry into this contract they should have pressed for it before recording an adverse verdict upon it in connexion with the AddressinReply.
– Never mind what we should have done.
– The honorable senator cannot put a cork into my mouth. He must fancy that I am up in his electorate. I repeat that honorable senators opposite occupy an invidious position when they ask for the appointment of a
Select Committee to inquire into this particular contract. I have already promised that I will discharge my duty as a member of that body. I agree with Senator Gould that whenever a matter of public importance crops up, especially when it concerns the honour of a Minister, it should be inquired into.
– Why did not the honorable senator say so on the AddressinReply ?
– Because I was not then seized of the details of the contract. In conclusion, I merely wish to say again that honorable senators opposite have prejudged the inquiry which they are so anxious to institute.
– As my name has been unnecessarily dragged into this discussion by the Leader of the Government and Senator Oakes, I desire to say that no word of mine has in any way committed me as to the merits or demerits of the subject-matter of the proposed inquiry. The interjections which I made whilst the matter was being discussed on the Address-in-Reply bore on the question of the wisdom or otherwise of letting contracts, good, bad, or indifferent, without public competition, to Smith, Jones, Robinson, or anybody else.
– Then what did the honorable senator mean when he interjected, “ With secrecy and the side door added “ ?
– The contract must have been let secretly, seeing that no public tenders were called for it. Senator Oakes, the immaculate gentleman from New South Wales, says he is going into this inquiry spotless and impartial. He suggested that, because Senators Gardiner, McGregor, Buzacott, and myself had given a vote against the Government on an amendment dealing with the question, we were, therefore, going on to the Committee committed to a certain verdict. If that is true, is it not equally true that Senators Oakes and Gould are committed to an opposite verdict, for did they not vote against the amendment? What an absurd conclusion for any man to come to. He must have thought he was speaking to children. Perhaps he thought he was at his old game of throwing dust in the eyes of the electors, and forgot that he was talking here to people who have their eyes open. I am going into this question with an open mind. I have not spoken on it, nor do I intend to do so, and I propose giving a fair and honest vote according to the evidence submitted.
– The Senate must be obliged to both Senator Gould and Senator Oakes for their little homilies on party morality. I should not have spoken in reply but for some of the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who, like a certain little animal in America, when put into a tight corner, always endeavours to make the atmosphere as unpleasant as he possibly can. He quoted some remarks of mine from a Benalla newspaper. He had no need to go to that authority for them, seeing that I made them in the Senate, and if he had been in his place at the time he would have heard them. I still say that for ordinary earthworks in side cutting and side drains the prices paid are from 6d. to 101/2d. per yard. I did not say anything about what ought to be paid for centre cuttings or things of that description. It must be evident to all who have listened to the debate that some investigation into the prices that wo are told have been agreed to in connexion with the contract is necessary, no matter what we did to-day in regard to the AddressinReply. We have heard contradictory statements from senators quoting from papers that have been laid on the table of the House, and we are not certain that all the papers are here yet. They have come in in dribs and drabs to both Houses, so that, like Oliver Twist, we are still anxious for more, and we do not know whether there are any more to come or not. We think it necessary to find out. One honorable senator reads an extract from the papers showing the course of action taken by the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs; and an honorable senator on this side reads another quotation wherein that gentleman denies that he did a certain thing, which he subsequently admits that he did do. I cannot make it out myself, and that is one of the reasons, why the appointment of a Select Committee is necessary. I should like to ask those honorable senators who made insinuations about prejudice and party bias on the part of Senators Mullan, Buzacott,. Gardiner, and myself, whether they havebeen in any Parliament where, in the appointment of Select Committees, the party element has not been recognised as far as possible? Can they remember one-
Select Committee on which the Opposition and the Government were not represented in proportion to their numbers? That is, I think, a complete answer to anything that has been said by Senator Gould or Senator Oakes. I have no great anxiety to be on the Committee other than in the interests of the community, nor, I am sure, have any other honorable senators on this side of the Senate, but when we go to the Committee we shall do all we possibly can to elucidate the truth and come to our conclusions on the evidence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. I should be glad if the practice adopted last session could be again followed, so that in speaking on the first of thisseries of six Bills we may be allowed to refer to the other five, and make one second reading discussion suffice for all. I recognise, of course, that we cannot curtail the right of any honorable senator who wishes to take a contrary course of action.
– What the honorable senator suggests can be done only with the unanimous consent of the Senate. Even then, on the second reading of any of the subsequent Bills, I could not prevent an honorable senator from expressing his opinions. Is it the pleasure of the Senate that a general discussion on the six Constitution Alteration Bills should take place on the second reading of this Bill ?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I appreciate the courtesy of the Senate and the restraint which the Government put upon themselves in not opposing the course of action suggested. I am sure it will facilitate the passage of these Bills, and consequently bring us much nearer the consideration of that Government business which the Minister of Defence and the Vice-President of the Executive Council think of so much importance. We all remember the history of these amendments of the Constitution, covering the period from 1911 up to the present time. “ When they were first put to the people, the people had very little understanding of what they really meant, and the misrepresentations of those opposed to them so acted on the people’s mind that they were defeatedby nearly a quarter of a million votes; but when, after two years’ further experience and consideration, another opportunity was given to the people to vote on them, the majority against them was reduced by over 200,000 votes. Those who support them conscientiously believe that the people are so aroused to their own interests that if they get another opportunity of dealing with them, they will carry them by a majority almost equal to the majority against them in 1911. The Bill dealing with trade and commerce may be considered the most important and far-reaching of the six. The trade and commerce of a country affects not only every man, woman, and child, but almost every animal and article in it. We have endeavoured by legislation so to regulate the business of Australia, so far as the trade and commerce powers of the Constitution allow us, that an honest deal shall be given to every member of the community. We know that legislation of that kind in the United States of America has, up to the present, been a failure. We endeavoured, in passing our Commerce Act, to make the commerce of Australia an example to the rest of the world. Every one knows that by means of our Customs and Excise powers we can deal with a great many things that are imported into this country. We can examine goods, and see that they are true to description, but as soon as they are landed and go from the control of the Customs Department into the various warehouses of the great cities, anything can be done with them. In fact they can be distributed to the retailers in a shape entirely different from that in which they pass the Customs at the ship’s side. I shall not labour the question, but it has become abundantly evident to almost the whole community that our power as exercised up to the present by means of the Commerce Act has been a failure, and that we are not in a. position to protect the public. The States may do it. They have the power probably to do it, and some of the States have done a great deal in connexion with foods, drugs, and things of that kind. But until the power is given to the Commonwealth Parliament to make Federal laws of that description we shall not have fulfilled the true object of Federation. I might point out a simple item. We have a great industry known as the dairying industry. Under our commerce legislation, the Commonwealth has power to decide the amount of moisture that shall be used in butter produced for export. We can see that the foreigner is protected against fraudulent methods in the dairying industry, but, as regards the Australian consumer, those who are prepared to manipulate the butter industry can fleece the public as much as they like in connexion with moisture and other frauds, as was proved by a Royal Commission that sat in Victoria some years ago; and ho doubt the revelations then made are still fresh in the minds of many people in Australia. Seeing that we are desirous of assisting the Government to get the vast amount of business they have to do put through in as short a time as possible, it would be folly on my part to deal exhaustively with any of these measures. Consequently, I will proceed to explain the object of the second Bill, just to initiate a debate that may be carried on, I hope briefly, by honorable senators in connexion with the six measures. The second Bill deals with corporations. Those who are informed on the financial and industrial affairs of Australia, and the company-mongering that has been going on here for the last twenty or thirty years, must realize, I feel sure, that it is nearly time that the Commonwealth took a hand to protect the innocent public from the fraudulent machinations of some of those who are prepared to prey upon the people. The third Bill relates to trusts and monopolies. I could very probably occupy the time of the Senate for the rest of this evening and part of to-morrow in dealing with these institutions. It has been stated by the supporters of the Government, and, for that matter, by the Government too, that the Labour party are making their election cry that of trusts and monopolies. If the Labour party had nothing else to justify their existence their opposition to trusts and monopolies would be quite enough to bring them into favour with the people. A few years ago, we were told that there was no such thing in Australia; and not very long ae;o Senator Oakes persisted in telling the people, through the Senate, that there was no great harm done by the operations of the trusts and monopolies.
– I was only repeating the statement of Mr. William Hughes.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear of such a thing in South Australia as an honorable understanding ?
– Yes; I heard of it among the shipping people.
– Did the honorable senator ever take the trouble to read the evidence given before, and the conclusion come to by, a Royal Commission in South Australia - not a Labour Commission - in connexion with that honorable understanding, and other matters? Did he learn there that the farmers and producers in the State were fleeced to the extent of over £600,000 a year through the operations of that honorable understanding, and other things of that kind ? If he did not, it is very nearly time that he went through the evidence and gave some consideration to the conclusion which was come to.
– I read the statement’ of Mr. Justice Powers.
– The honorable senator listens to what he likes, but to what he does not like he conveniently turns a deaf ear.
– It would be just as well for the honorable senator to hear a little on the other side.
– It does not matter. The position is forcing itself upon the notice of the public. AH that we are asking for in the third Bill is power to regulate and control trusts and monopolies. The Commonwealth has not the power at the present time, and although the States may have the power they are not able to exercise it in a proper manner.
– They do not want to. do so.
– They may not. The fourth Bill deals with industrial matters. I do not think that I need say verymuch on this subject, because for the last, three or four weeks we have had industrial matters threshed threadbare in another place, and all the people in Australia have probably been taking notice, too. The fifth Bill relates to disputes on.railways, the property of the States. If there is anything that would be in theinterests of the States, it would be the. existence of a tribunal which would make? it impossible for the employes on the railways to strike at any time, and which would bring about uniform conditions in the States, as far as possible. The last Bill refers to the nationalization of industries declared to be monopolies. I ask Senator Oakes if what we have seen in the newspapers, what we have heard from various platforms, what has been acknowledged by nearly all the people in Australia is true - that a Beef Trust is amongst us ? Various reasons have been assigned for the increased prices of meat. Scarcity of . stock, increased wages, improved conditions - all these have been referred to as the prime causes for the increased prices of meat to the consumers. Although they may have had a very insignificant influence up to the present time, or are likely to have in the future, there is some other influence that is to a considerable extent hampering our meat consumers. I want to give one instance. The sum of 2s. was paid for the killing of a beast in the abattoirs of some States, and that rate distributed over the weight of a carcase would not be the thirtieth part of a penny on a pound. To talk of the influence of increased rates of wages or improved conditions on the price of meat at present is very much like comparing the action of summer breezes with the hurricanes of the Pacific. I desire to give the Senate the result of a few inquiries I have been making recently in connexion with the effect of the increased prices of meat on the public of Australia, and as an indication of how much combines, trusts, or monopolies in the meat industry can afford to destroy the competition of almost anybody out of the profits it is possible for them to make. I find that the Australians are the greatest meat-consuming people in the world, consuming almost double the quantity that is consumed in any other country. In the United States of America, approximately, the annual consumption per head of the population is 150 lbs. ; in Great Britain, it is 117 lbs. per head; while in Australia in 1912 - the latest year for which I could get information - the consumption, approximately, was 276 lbs. per head. An increase of $d. per lb. in the price of meat consumed in Australia amounts to £2,750,000 per annum. That would be a nice little revenue for any institution that could partially corner the meat industry in this country. An in crease of Id. in the pound amounts to £5,500,000; an increase of 2d., to £11,000,000; and an increase of 4d., to £22,000,000. Honorable senators may base their calculations on these figures, and can be certain of their accuracy, going up to any price they like. When we learn that the small increase of Jd., or Id. or 2d. in the lb., means such a large amount of money, I ask honorable senators what is the taxation of the States, or of the Commonwealth, compared to the taxation which can be levied by monopolies or trusts of the description that the sixth measure is supposed to deal with. If the Commonwealth gets the power to deal with industries that have got into the hands of destructive monopolists, and have the courage to use the power, it will to a very considerable extent curtail the viciousness of these institutions. But I have heard Senator Oakes and others say that all monopolies, trusts and combines are not injurious. No Labour man ever said that they were all injurious.
– You do not pick out the good ones, do you ?
– The Parliament would be very foolish to interfere with a monopoly that was teaching the people Socialism, and that is what all monopolies do. Every destructive “monopoly in any part of the world is teaching the people that the Government of the country could control industries on their behalf far better than is done by individuals or companies who are doing all they possibly can to make large fortunes, millions, as it were, out of the people.
– To control them in the interests of the people, instead of in the interests of a few of the people.
– That is what really happens. But, as I have stated, there are combines that are not injurious. The greatest combines -in America to-day were not originally injurious. So long as they treated producer and consumer fairly they were not injurious, but as soon as they acquired a complete monopoly, and began to fleece consumers and sweat producers, their monopolies became destructive. The only way to deal with such monopolies is to nationalize them. The Government should take them over. There is no power in the community in a position to compete with them, except the Central Government. In the United States of America some of these monopolies have grown to such an extent that it is doubtful whether even the Central Government can now deal with them. But in Australia, where they are commencing, it is our duty to act in the interests of the people, and see that they never acquire here the power which similar combines have acquired in the United States of America. I have gone briefly through these various measures. Though the discussion upon each, if it were judicious to go into details, might occupy a whole evening, I desire to save time, and so content myself by moving the second reading of the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) pro posed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That this Bill he now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill I am now asking honorable senators to consider is a small one proposing amendments of existing provisions in the Defence Act, which perhaps, with one exception, may be called machinery provisions. I propose to run through the proposal it contains briefly.
– The usual memorandum showing the effect of the amendments upon the existing Act has not been circulated.
– No; I hope it will be circulated to-morrow. It was omitted because the Bill originally presented was a duplicate of the Bill submitted last session, the fate of which was not unassociated with Senator Rae. One or two other proposals have been circulated, and because of these it was not possible, so far, to issue the usual memorandum showing the effect of the proposed amendments.
– The honorable senator is aware that this is not a party matter?
– I shall judge that when I see what Senator Rae’s attitude is as it develops; that is to say, we shall see whether a debate can proceed without the honorable senator finding some points of difference with other honorable senators in this Chamber. The first amendment proposed is one which I venture” to say will receive very general support. There is a section of the existing Act which provides that when an Australian, irrespective of any qualification or experience, seeks to join the Instructional Staff of the Defence Force, he is required to pass through an instructional school, whilst a nian of equal or even lower rank in the British Army is not called upon to submit himself for examination or to undergo that course of instruction., but has merely to satisfy the Chief of the General Staff that he is qualified for the position he seeks to fill. It seems to me that that is decidedly unfair to a number of Australians who are as qualified as their British brothersinarms. I propose in this Bill an amendment of the existing Act to put them on one footing. Section 21b of the existing Act makes provision for an applicant for appointment to the Instructional Staff undergoing a course in an instructional school, but contains the proviso -
Persons who have acted as instructors in the British Army or who have served in the British Army and satisfy the Chief of the General Staff, may be appointed without passing through such course.
It is proposed by this Bill to make this proviso read - “ or who have served either in the Defence Force or the British Army.”
That will bring both on the same footing in this particular. .It will still be necessary for those who have been previously unqualified to submit themselves for examination and undergo the course. There are in the Defence Force warrant officers, such as sergeant-majors, who have served quite a number of years. They are under the existing Act unable to get on to the Instructional Staff without going through an instructional school, whilst a corporal in the British Army coming here may, without examination, secure a position which is denied to an Australian, who is better qualified to fill it.
The next amendment proposed is a comparatively simple one, and is designed to give the Department greater security in dealing with members of the Defence Force who fail to hand over property which belongs to tha Department. Section 79 of the existing Act reads at present -
Any person who unlawfully disposes of or refuses to deliver up when lawfully required to do so -
The use of the word “ refuses “ is held by the legal advisers of the Crown to require an absolute point-blank refusal bv the person charged. It is proposed in clause 3 of the Bill to omit that word “refuses,” with a view to substituting for it the word “ fails.” Under the existing Act, though a demand verbally or by letter may be made upon a man to return property, such as his rifle, and so on, belonging to the Department, so long as he holds his tongue he cannot be proved to have refused to return the property.
– He may say, “ I will,” and then refuse to do so.
– Just so. It is proposed by this Bill to alter the section and make a man liable who fails to “ deliver up “ property belonging to the Department.
– We have heard that word “fails” quite recently. It is becoming familiar. o
– I am glad to see by the honorable senator’s interjection that he appreciates the extreme significance of the amendment proposed, and the convenience which it would be to the Department.
– The person charged should have due notice to deliver up the property before it can be said that he has failed to do so.
– So far as I know, no one has found reason to complain of the lightning-like activity of the Department.
– Are there many cases of a refusal to hand over property?
– There is not an alarming number of such cases; but the section should be so framed as to enable the Department to recover its property.
– I know of a couple of cases where men were charged, and subsequently won their cases. Would they be affected by the amendment?
– I could not say without further particulars; but as honorable senators are aware, a public Department usually not only gives ample notice to the point of leniency, but even to the point of foolishness.
By clause 4 of the Bill, it is proposed to amend section 135 of the principal Act. The effect of the proposed amendment would be to remedy an omission which occurred in the passing of an amending Bill introduced some time ago by my predecessor in the Defence Department. That Bill endeavoured to effect a reform, which bad, I think, the hearty approval of every honorable member of this Parliament. It was a proposal to avoid the sending to gaol of those who had committed offences against the universal training provisions. When Senator Pearce introduced a Bill he was under the impression, as I think the Senate was generally, that the amendment he then submitted, and which was drafted, I suppose, by the parliamentary draftsman, would accomplish what he had in view. But it has been found that whilst it did exclude from the penalty of gaol those who were convicted of certain offences, it did not include the whole of those offences. The amendment that is proposed in this Bill is designed to stop that little gap which is due to faulty draftsmanship. Under this proposal nobody will be liable to be sent to gaol for a breach of the training regulations under the Defence Act.
The Bill contains another amendment which is designed to limit the period for which any offender may be detained. At present there is practically no limit imposed, owing to the fact that an offence in itself is not wiped out by any punishment. For instance, a cadet who refuses to drill can be subjected to detention for a certain number of days. Upon his release, however, he is liable to be again proceeded against after he misses his first drill. It seems necessary, therefore, to limit the period during which he may be detained. In this connexion I am reminded of the case of a boy who, on three counts, was sentenced to be detained for a period of fifty days. A week after his release upon the first count he was again proceeded against. However, I stopped that second prosecution. It will thus be seen that, unless we are prepared to detain a lad for the term of his natural life, we must prescribe a limit.
– Otherwise prosecution becomes persecution.
– That may be so. But there are a few boys who apparently will not, under any circumstances, conform to the law. Fortunately, I have only met with one or two cases of this kind. But if we are to be continually putting the law into operation, we can practically lock a boy up until he is 25 years of age. In this Bill we propose that the period of his detention shall be limited to thirty days in any one year.
Of course he may serve a much shorter period in comfort with his comrades, but if he sets himself out to deliberately disobey the law he may be detained for a period of not more than thirty days in one year.
There is another alteration which becomes necessary in existing circumstances. In the principal Act it is provided that in the Citizen Military Forces all promotions to the rank of officer and noncommissioned officer shall be made from those who have served in the ranks of those Forces. There is, however, an exception which reads -
Provided that this limitation shall not at any time apply to the appointment of officers in the Senior Cadets.
I want to make that exception apply also to the Army Medical Corps and the Army Veterinary Corps. Before one can obtain a commission in the Army Medical Corps he must be a fully-qualified medical man, and it is not possible to obtain such men from the ranks. The same remark is applicable to the Army Veterinary Corps. There are no ranks upon which we can draw, and we cannot get from the ordinary ranks men who are medically qualified. We must, therefore, go outside, and invite medical men to come and accept these commissions.
– L - Later on all of them will have passed through the ranks as cadets.
– That is so. But many of those who are now in our Citizen Forces may not be members of the Army Medical Corps. As far as possible, we will endeavour to place medical students in that corps. But we have to recollect that, scattered through this country, there are a large number of unite which require medical men, and which cannot possibly have medical students in their ranks.
There is one other amendment pro1 posed in this Bill. A provision in the principal Act affirms that proceedings cannot be taken by way of court martial or otherwise at a later period than six months after the commission of an offence. I propose to make that period twelve months.
– That will keep a charge hanging over the head of a man for a long time.
– But it frequently happens that the authorities do not discover that an offence has been committed for many months afterwards.I have had eases brought under my notice in which an offence has been discovered only five, six, and even seven months after its commission. In one case, after the lapse of six months, the Department was powerless. In another case, five months had elapsed after the commission of an offence when the matter was brought under the notice of head-quarters. By the time it had been sent on to the Commanding Officer of the State, and had been returned to head-quarters, the six months had expired, and the Department was, consequently, impotent.
– Does the amendment refer merely to cadet offences, or to offences such as stealing?
– Criminal offences may be dealt with, quite apart from any action on the part of the Department. This proposal deals only with offences such as a breach of orders, or any offence under our Defence Act.
– It must be a terribly slow Department if it cannot find out that an offence has been committed until six months after its commission.
– I am not prepared to say that the Department moves with unnecessary speed. But in a big continent like Australia it often happens that irregularities do not come under notice for a considerable time after their commission. I have given the Senate an instance in which I certainly feel that, as the result of the operation of the Act in its present form, there is retained to-day upon our active list a junior officer who is no credit to the Forces, and who ought not to be there. The particular offence alleged against him was not brought under notice until five months after its commission. There was a little preliminary knowledge inregard to it which set an inquiry going. But by the time the matter had gone through the ordinary channels, the six months had expired. In this matter the Senate may very well trust the Department not to use its powers unfairly. It must be recollected that we are now dealing with a force which, as we were reminded last week, is a compulsory one. If it were a volunteer force, and the trainee felt aggrieved, he could leave it. But in the case of a compulsory force he is not free to leave it. There is, therefore, an additional obligation placed on the Depart ment to see that officers accepting positions of responsibility are required faithfully to discharge their duties. It is for that purpose that I am asking the Senate to extend the period during which proceedings may be taken against an offender from six to twelve months. From what I have said, I think it will be recognised that the measure is one which can be better dealt with in Committee. If I can assist honorable senators by giving them any further information, I shall be only too happy to do so.
– What has the Minister done in respect of the fines imposed?
– With that consistency which is one of my characteristics, I have left them as I introduced them. Having had further time for reflection, I hope that Senator Rae will see the wisdom of allowing them to remain as they are.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pearce) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence the position which obtains in the Federal Capital Territory. I wish to emphasize the languishing condition of affairs there. I have recently visited the Territory, and it seems to me that a number of necessary works are proceeding very slowly. In saying that, I am not casting any reflection on the Administrator. It appears to me, however, that money is being spent in a very niggardly fashion there, so that works are not progressing with the speed at which they ought to progress. It will be admitted, I think, that there should be some continuity of policy pursued there, and that a fairly even rate of expenditure should be maintained. Works ought not to be carried to a certain stage, and then a number of hands paid off because there are no funds available. The administrative expenses are the same whether operations are in full blast or otherwise. To my mind, matters are progressing in a way that is not conducive to the observance of business methods or to the attainment of that perfection which we might reasonably expect. I hope to have the assurance of the Minister that whatever works are to be undertaken in the Territory will be carried out with reasonable expedition.
– - During the debate on the appointment of a Select Committee this evening, the Vice-President of the Executive Council said he had expected me to reply to-day to Mr. Teesdale Smith’s letter published in the two morning papers of yesterday. I saw no particular necessity to drag on to the floor of the House a controversy started in the press, but as Senator McColl has referred to the matter, I take this opportunity of putting the facts before honorable senators. As soon as I saw Mr. Smith’s letter I replied to it at once. It is not necessary for me to bring all the correspondence before the Senate, but in order to show what some members of the public think of Mr. Smith’s claim to have paid higher wages than he should, I may mention that between yesterday and to-day no fewer than three individuals, none of whom I had ever seen in my life before, so far as I remember, although one of them tells me that he met me in “Western Australia some years ago, called here to give me information regarding the matters contained in Mr. Smith’s letter. I was careful to get the names of those three gentlemen, and informed them that in all probability they would have an opportunity, if the Select Committee was appointed, to give evidence before it. I do not know whether the Committee will have, power to inquire into Mr. Smith’s other contracts, but, if they have, the evidence of these gentlemen should be interesting. The first of them was a Mr. McCulloch, who was an inspector on the railway in New South Wales on which Mr. Teesdale Smith had a contract. He came to me absolutely voluntarily yesterday afternoon, and told me that in connexion with that contract, on which Mr. Smith claims to have paid more than the district rate of pay, the most shameful piece of sweating that has ever come under his notice was conducted.
– Which line was it?
– I think the contract was at Narrabri, and Mr. McCulloch said that some of the men had actually to sue Mr. Smith in order to get 6s. a day out of him. According to the conditions of the contract there was to beno sub-letting on that railway. MrSmith had the contract, and did sub-let in defiance of the terms of the contract. These men, in their sub-contract, werereally not able, at the price he was paying, to make 6s. a day, and they had actually to go to Court before they could getit. Mr. McCulloch says that the records of this matter can be found in. the Police Court. The second gentleman, whose name is Busch, comes from Port Hedland, Western Australia, The Port Hedland-Marble Bar railway was constructed by Mr. Smith, who claims in his letter to have paid workers on that line 13s. 4d. a day. I am not going to contradict Mr. Smith’s statement, but this man assured me that before Mr. Smith paid that amount he endeavoured to get the work done at lis. 8d. per day, and it was not until there was a stoppage of the work that he paid the district rate of 13s. 4d. Port Hedland is in the northwest of Western Australia, and no work of a heavy kind is done in the north-west under £4 a week, and a stoppage of work actually took place on the line until Mr. Smith paid the district wage. I mention these things to show how much’ credence can be given to Mr. Smith’s statements. The Government might well take a note of the 13s. 4d. per day rate. That is what the men at the western end of the transcontinental railway are endeavouring to get from the Government at the present time, and they certainly should get it, seeing that it is paid, not only by contractors at the western end of this line, but was even paid by such a notorious sweater as Mr. Smith in the north-west. The third gentleman to call upon me to-day gave the name of Flegeltaub, 114 Gore-street, Fitzroy. He also gave me a lot of information about the sweating that Mr. Smith was responsible for in the timber trade of Western Australia. Here are three independent witnesses voluntarily coming forward and giving me information in contradiction of the very statements which Senator McColl said I ought to contradict. I do not desire to paint even the devil in any darker colours than are his due. I am merely stating the merest every-day opinion of Mr. Teesdale Smith when T say that he is a well-known sweater. He is so well known in that character in Western Australia that it would be ridiculous for him to publish there the claim that he now puts forward to have paid more than he need pay for work done by him on his various contracts.
– I should not have referred to Senator de Largie and Mr. Smith, had it not been that, during the course of the debate to-night, a suggestion was made by Senator de Largie that there was some partnership between Mr. Deane and Mr. Teesdale Smith. It seemed to me that when a proposal was brought forward to appoint a Select Committee practically to try Mr. Deane, it was not a fair thing to make such a statement. Very strong statements were made by Senator de Largie on Thursday night in regard to Mr. Smith, which were completely contradicted in the papers yesterday; and, as Senator de Largie had made no reference to the contradiction, I deemed it my duty to call attention to the fact. I have no ill-will towards the honorable senator, nor have I ever seen Mr. Smith. I simply thought that the statements made were not fair or just to Mr. Deane.
.- During the debate on the AddressinReply, I accused the Government of purchasing a special edition of the Fruit World, at a cost of 9’d. a copy. In his speech in reply, Senator McColl said that the Department of External Affairs paid only 7d. a copy for it. This is the departmental statement which the honorable senator read -
This year we purchased 5,000 copies at £30 per 1,000, or a little over 7d. per copy. Of this number 3,000 copies were posted direct to farmers in America, as special efforts are being made to attract suitable settlers for the irrigation areas in New South Wales and Victoria. The balance - 2,000 copies - were distributed in equal numbers by the Government agents of New South Wales and Victoria in San Francisco.
Senator Ready, I believe, desires to know why the Government paid 7d. per copy for a publication sold for 6d. per copy in Australia, especially as the matter is almost the same in the “ ordinary “ and “ Commonwealth “ issues, and the Government is so large a purchaser.
Hitherto we have paid £25 for 1,000, or 6d. per copy. This year £5 per thousand more was paid, as we were furnished with a signed statement by the printers that their factory costs had increased by 30 per cent.
The reason why 7d. per copy is paid when the ordinary issue is sold for 6d. is this :
Although the matter in the ordinary issue is used for the Commonwealth issue, the matter for that particular issue is, to a large extent, specially prepared, and it is profusely illustrated. It is the Commonwealth order that makes this possible.
I denied that at the time. I have here three copies of the paper of different dates, and I think it will be found that there are very few more illustrations in the special number. In fact, I think there is as much, if not more, matter in an ordinary number, and in March in particular, the ordinary number contains twelve or fourteen additional pages. Therefore the Government bought really a smaller issue; and as for the special matter it contains, anybody could write it up from any guidebook of any fruit-growing State.
– Did not the special number bought by the Commonwealth Government contain a lot of State Government advertisements ?
– That is so. I pointed out in my speech that this publication did away with the private advertisements for which they got paid in ordinary issues, and put some Government advertisements - for which they received a very good price - in the special issue, for which they mulcted the Commonwealth at the rate of 7d. a copy, according to Senator McColl, and 9d. a copy, according to Senator Millen. A few weeks ago I asked Senator Millen -
The price given, therefore, in answer to my question was clearly and plainly 9d. a copy;1 and yet, when I challenge the Government with paying 50 per cent, over the ordinary price of the paper, Senator McColl tells us that the price paid was 7d., and not 9d. The paper could be bought in any shop, less the Government advertisements, for 6d., and previous Administrations have only paid 6d. a copy for it.
– I receive it as a subscriber, posted to my address, for 6d. a copy.
– Yet Senator McColl says the Government paid 7d. a copy.
– Where did you say you got the information that 9d. was paid ?
– From an answer which the honorable senator gave me.
– What is the particular piece of paper that you have in your hand?
– It is a cutting from the records of the Senate. Surely the honorable senator will not tell me that it cost 2d. per copy to wrap and post the newspaper? That is the only inference that one can draw. When Senator Millen tells the Senate that 9d. a copy was paid for the newspaper, and Senator McColl tells the Senate later that only 7d. a copy was paid, which of them are we to believe? A newsagent can get any number of copies of the newspaper at 4s. per dozen Sixpence is its full value retail. I want to know which Minister I am to believe. We have a right to demand that the information supplied to us shall be at all times accurate and not misleading, as it undoubtedly has been in
. -I am sorry that I have to worry Senator McColl about his reply to an interjection by myself when he was speaking on the Address-in-Reply. He made an accusation against a firm whom I have always considered to be honorable; a firm who have spent a large amount of money in producing their article in Australia, and trained a lot of persons to produce the article. The statement was that they represented as their own an article which was manufactured elsewhere; that they filed the name off the article and put their own brand on it : I refer to the Shaw Wireless Company. Senator McColl said that he had seen a sworn statement to that effect. If the company have done this thing, the matter should not rest there. I ask the honorable senator if he will produce the sworn evidencewhich proves that the company have been guilty of this act.
.- Senator Rae mentioned that he had been to the Federal Territory, and that the public works there were going on very slowly. I do not know whether he made that statement as a consequence of his visit, but I shall endeavour to ascertain if there has been a slowingdown there, and, if so, the reason. I quite subscribe to the doctrine laid down by the honorable senator that there ought to be, as far as possible, a continuity of work on big national undertakings. I come now to the matter brought up by Senator Ready, and I am very glad he did so, because the other day he made the statement that an officer of the Department had admitted to him that it had made a mistake. That was a very serious matter, and therefore I took steps at once to inform the Department of the statement in order to get an official reply. The reply from Mr. Edwards, the officer interviewed by Senator Ready, is as follows : -
I have no recollection of stating during the conversation with Senator Beady the other day that the Department had “ made a mistake “ in regard to the purchase of copies of the special issue of the Fruit World.
SenatorReady drew attention to the fact that the Department had paid 7d. per copy for this paper, which is sold ordinarily in Australia at 6d. per copy.
– Ninepence a copy, according to your statement.
– This is Mr. Edwards’ statement as to what the honorable senator said to him.
The facts of the case, as far as the Department knows them - which facts are set out in the copy of the letter to Senator McColl herewith - were explained to the senator.
Senator Ready informed me that he was glad to have the departmental explanation, and when I enumerated the facts in regard to the two issues - “ ordinary “ and “ Commonwealth “ - he remarked, “ There is something in that.” The impression left on my mind was that the senator’s objections had been largely removed by the explanation of the facts.
After discussing the matter for some little time, and listening ‘ to statements made by Senator Beady in regard to the paper, I have a recollection of saying that if the Department is called upon again to consider an application for the purchase of copies of the paper in question, the senator’s statements would be borne in mind.
– The gentleman said distinctly that he would take care that it did not happen again. Those are his words.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Has a member of Parliament a nell to go and interview an officer of a Department, and then make use of his statement in that way?
– My advice to any officer in a public Department is to keep a close mouth when Senator Ready seeks to interview him.
– The officer came specially to see me at his request, not at mine. Make no mistake about that. I did not ask to see him, but he came up just to explain it away.
– No statement as to what an officer said to a senator ought to be made here. Senator MILLEN.- The honorable senator has tried to place an officer of the Department in a false position.
– I have done no such thing. During the course of my speech I mentioned no name. I put the blame on the Government.
– The honorable senator said here that an officer of the Department had made the admission.
– Not at my request.
– The honorable senator need not try to get angry. He made a definite statement.
– Y - You are putting him in a false position, and he has a reason to get angry.
– He made the statement here.
– I rise to order. I ask that Senator Millen be called upon to withdraw his remark that I put the officer in “ a false position.” The officer came to see me entirely at his own wish, not at my request, and in my speech I made no reference to him. I am not going to sit here and allow a false statement to be made without a protest.
– If Senator Ready states that he did not do a certain thing, which Senator Millen alleges he did do, 1 ask the latter to accept his denial, but, of course, the honorable senator is entitled to recite any facts or make any quotations which will support his view. At the same time, I would point out that ordinarily it is the practice in the Senate for one honorable senator to accept the statement of another honorable senator who is affected by any remarks.
– I do ask you, sir, if I am to take that as a final decision, to recall the circumstances of this case. Senator Ready has not denied that he stated on” the floor of this Chamber the other day that an officer had told him that a mistake had been made by the Department. He did not mention the name of the officer, but he said that an officer of the Department had told him that a mistake had been made.
– He admitted that a mistake had been made.
– That is my point. It was my duty to immediately find out whether an officer had made that statement. I forwarded to the Department a letter stating what Senator Ready had affirmed here, and asking for an answer. Is it an outrage that, having got the answer of the officer who is implicated, I should take the opportunity of reading it?
– You said that Senator Ready put the. officer in “ a false position.”
– You added your opinion to the officer’s, and put Senator Ready in a false position.
– Why should he not?
– It is for the Senate now to form its own opinion as to whether Senator Ready’s statement or that of the officer is correct.
– What about the words you added? You said that Senator Ready put the officer in a false position.
– I say that any member of Parliament who goes to a Department and converses with an officer-
– But Senator Ready did not go there. The officer came to Senator Ready.
– Now we hear for the first time that the officer went to Senator Ready, and that the latter conversed with him.
– Withdraw your remark.
– All that I can say is that my honorable friend opposite gave evidence of an absolute desire to be unfair to me.
– I rise to order, sir. I ask again that Senator Millen be requested to withdraw his remark that I placed the officer in a false position.
– So long as an allegation of that kind does not charge an honorable senator with a dishonorable act, and is couched in parliamentary language, it is hardly a statement which can be said to be one of an offensive character.
– I say that the statement is untrue.
– I would remind Senator Millen that it has been the usual custom, and I think it is a very good rule, that, if an honorable senator regards anything that has been said as offensive, the gentleman who has made the allegation withdraws it. However, as I have already said, I do not think that the remark made by Senator Millen can be regarded as in any way offensive.
– What I intended to say, and what Senator Ready would have seen if he had not been so impetuous, was that I did not suggest that Senator Ready had wilfully put that officer in a false position, but that the action he has taken in making that statement in the House does put the officer in a false position, because it represents that officer as going behind the back of his departmental chief and giving to a member of Parliament information on an action of the Department. That, if it were a fact, would be disloyalty to that officer’s chief; and I say that Senator Ready, in my judgment, committed an indiscretion when he stated in the House that he had been informed of something by an officer of a Department who is not the responsible head of that Department.
– The officer came to me; I did not go to him.
– That is a new fact; but I am certain that when Senator Ready has been a member of Parliament as long as Senator Rae has, he will not be guilty of such an indiscretion again.
– I still take exception to the words used by Senator Millen. The officer came to me at his own wish, and not at my wish. I had no wish to bring the officer into the matter at all, and did not mention him in the speech, but merely flung the interjection across the floor of the House ; and on that Senator Millen based his statement. I object to the statement that I placed the officer in a false position.
- Senator Millen, in accordance with the practice of the House, must accept the statement of Senator Ready that the officer came to him, instead of him going to the officer.
– I do accept that statement. I have never disputed it.
– Will you withdraw the statement that the honorable senator placed the officer in a false position?
– No; I will not. I say that the effect of Senator Ready’s action in mentioning the officer’s statement in the House was to place that officer in a false position.
– That is distinctly untrue.
– I ask Senator Ready to withdraw that remark.
– At your request, sir, and as a law-abiding member of the Senate, I do withdraw it.
– I desire to express regret that Senator Ready should have taken the view he has in regard to what has happened to-night. I do not for a mo - ment impute anything dishonorable to him when I say that the result of his action, not his intention, was to place the officer in a false position. I candidly tell Senator Ready that I do not believe for a moment that he had any thought of doing anything to place the officer in a false position, or that he had any malice.
– On a point of order, I desire to draw attention to the fact that Senator Millen persists in declining to withdraw the remark he made, despite the request from the Chair to do so. The honorable senator must either withdraw the words objected to, or take the responsibility of defying the Chair. We are not going to forget it.
– I think a rather erroneous view has been taken of this matter. The Minister of Defence has not said that Senator Ready wilfully did anything wrong or dishonorable. He only pointed out that, in his opinion, the action taken by Senator Ready did have the effect of placing a certain officer in a false position. I do not see that I can ask Senator Millen to withdraw those words. If I were to lay down a rule of that kind, it would have to apply to every member of the Senate, and it would unduly restrict the rights of members in debate. Such a ruling would compel them to pick and choose their words with regard to the probable effect of the actions of any responsible head of the Department and with regard to the actions or words of any honorable senator. It has never been held that a senator cannot criticise the probable effect of an action, but it has always been ruled that no senator may impute improper motives, or assert that another honorable senator is guilty of anything wrong or dishonorable. Therefore, I think this matter might be allowed to drop, because to proceed with it in the direction that Senator Ready desires would be to establish a rule which would unduly restrict the rights of honorable senators in discussion.
– In certain circumstances I would certainly agree with your ruling, sir. But in this case an officer of a Department came to a member of the Senate and placed certain facts before him without any request or intimation from that honorable gentleman. Is it not the officer who is placing himself in a false position, and not the honorable senator who was making use of the information voluntarily given to him?
– That is not a matter which I can decide on a question of order. The facts are stated in one way by Senator Ready, and in another way by the Minister of Defence. It is for senators and the public who take an intelligent interest in the matter to judge for themselves.
– Senator Ready stated that in an answer given by me I said that the price paid for copies of The Fruit World was 9d, and he also quoted a letter containing information supplied by Senator McColl that the price was 7d. a copy. The honorable senator seemed to think that there had been some attempt to mislead him. I hope Senator Ready will understand that neither Senator McColl nor myself can have any firsthand information as to what price was paid for copies of the paper in question. I do know from information I have since received that under date of 23rd May the Department supplied . Senator McColl with a letter, signed by Mr. Atlee Hunt, in which the price stated is 7d. per copy. I desire to inform the Senate that, so far as Ministers and the Department were concerned, there was no attempt to withhold information, or to give contradictory information ; nor, indeed, would any Department be foolish enough to within a few days give contradictory information. I have here the letter that sets out the price as 7d. per copy. The answer which
I gave previously was based on information supplied by the Department. I am unable to understand the discrepancy; but Senator Ready may accept my assurance that before the Senate meets tomorrow I will inquire into, the apparent discrepancy, and how it arose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140603_SENATE_5_74/>.