5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask to be allowed by the Senate to make a personal -explanation.
– When I left the chamber yesterday afternoon I was not aware that votes on adjourned motions would be taken yesterday, thinking that they would probably be taken today or on the next day of sitting. Consequently I was away last night when the “vote was taken on the motion of Senator Henderson. Had I been present I should certainly have given the motion my Support, considering that I have supported the proposition for the last twenty-three years. I might also have shown good reason why, after the establishment of Home Rule, a Labour Government would dominate affairs in Ireland.
Steamer Freights and Fares
– Can the Honor.ary Minister give the Senate any information as to whether the Postmaster”General intends to accede to the request of the Huddart, Parker Company and the “Union Shipping Company combine to allow an increase of fares and freights on the lines between Tasmania and the mainland covered by the Tasmanian mail contract?
– The attention of Senator O’Keefe, I presume, was drawn, as my attention was drawn last night, to a statement appearing in a newspaper. I shall make it my business to see the Postmaster-General to-day. With regard to his attitude I have not the faintest fear in the world; and with regard to myself, I stand firmly in the position I intimated the other day.
– In view of the grave importance to Tasmania of the proposed increase of freights, and the fact, as already shown in the Senate, that freights are higher now in Tasmania without the proposed increase than they are throughout the rest of Australia–
– That is not correct.
– That is argument.
– Order ! The honorable senator may only ask for information. I point out to honorable senators that there will be ample opportunities of discussing these matters if they desire to discuss them, at the various stages through which the Supply Bill has to pass. Questions may only be asked for the purpose 6”f eliciting information.
– Will the Honorary Minister make available to the representatives of Tasmania the text of the communication which has been addressed by the shipping companies to the PostmasterGeneral asking for an increase in freights ?
– I cannot, as I am sure Senator Ready knows, answer this question directly now. I must first consult my colleague. The honorable senator knows that just as well as I do. I give him my assurance that I will see my colleague, and-
– Give me an answer later in the day ?
– -I hesitate to promise that, because I am not sure that I could carry out the promise.
– On the next day of sitting?
– I will, of course, give the answer to the Senate the very moment I get it, but it is of no use for me to promise now that I can answer the question during this session, because Senator Ready knows that the other House is not sitting. At the earliest moment it is possible I will give him an answer.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether it is not a fact that when the late Government decided to take over Cockatoo Island dockyard the responsible officials in the Home Affairs Department - the same officials who valued the transferred properties - instructed to value the property at Cockatoo Island, took into consideration the state of the plant proposed to be taken over, and fixed the value accordingly?
– All that I can say is that I do not know.
– I ask the Minister, if he is so ignorant of the affairs of the Department of which he is Minister, will he instruct his messenger to telephone to the Home Affairs Department during the day, and before the close of this sitting inform the Senate if that is not a fact?
– The very offensive way the honorable senator has chosen to put his question-
– Because yours was an offensive reply.
– The question asked me was, “ If the officials who took over the Cockatoo Island on behalf of the Government were the same as those who took over and valued the transferred properties.”
– If they valued on the same conditions.
– I absolutely do not know, and I told the honorable senator so. I do not know who valued the transferred properties.
– If you looked through the papers, you do know.
– Of course I can make myself acquainted with the information, but I do not know at present. The honorable senator is evidently so much in the habit of using words which do not convey what is in his mind, that he readily suspects me of doing the same thing.
– I again ask the Minister whether, during the course of the day, he will instruct his messenger to telephone to the Home Affairs department, and endeavour to obtain an answer to my question?
– If the honorable senator will give me notice of what he wants, I will do it.
– I will give notice of a question for the next day of sitting. If the Minister wants another day of sitting, he will get it if he is going to dodge the matter like that.
– I desire to know, sir, whether you can in any way expedite the printing of the last number of Hansard for this session, so that it may be made available to honorable senators either to-morrow, or, at the latest, on Monday ?
– I am not quite sure whether such expedition can be used in the Government Printing Office, but I will make a request to that office to expedite the publication of the number as much as possible, and do whatever I can in that regard.
– I thank you.
– Has the atten tion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who, I understand, represents the Minister of Home Affairs, been called to the following telegram in this; morning’s Argus: -
Dismissal of Men. trouble threatened.
KALGOORLIE, Thursday.- Further trouble is threatened on the trans-Australian railway line. On Thursday six prominent unionists, including the vice-president of the General Workers’ Union, were dismissed by the acting supervising engineer. Representatives of the union interviewed the engineer to-day, and urged him to re-instate the men. The engineer admitted thathe had no complaint regarding the men’s work, but he regarded them as agitators, and alleged they were harassing other men who had voted in favour of returning to work. The union representatives considered the result of the interview unsatisfactory, and referred the matter to the industrial committee of the Australian Labour Federation. Tonight the committee recommended that a massmeeting of unionists be held on Sunday to protest against the victimisation of the men dismissed. Federal members have been requested to interview the Minister for Home Affairs, as it is feared that if the matter is not promptly settled there will be a recurrence of serious industrial trouble.
I ask the Minister if he has any information at all from the Labour Federation, and whether, in reply to the telegram I am about to read, he will take immediate action to prevent a recurrence of industrial trouble? The telegram is addressed to me by Mr. Green, secretary of the Trades Hall, Kalgoorlie, and reads as follows -
Smith, railway engineer, sacked vicepresident three other prominent unionists. Interviewed myself with Lockard this morning; but Smith says agitators, and must leave job. Admits good workmen. Action bitterly resented men. Sec Mahon and Minister.
– Yes; I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he will ascertain at once whether Mr.
Smith, the supervising engineer at the Kalgoorlie end of the line, has caused these men to be dismissed because of their membership of the union, and because, further, of their participation in an industrial trouble. If he has, will the Minister see that the men are immediately reinstated ?
– I have not seen the report read by the honorable senator, and know nothing whatever about it. I shall submit the matter without delay to the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, who has control of the railway.
– I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday whether he could confirm the statement that in December last a contract was entered into with the shipping companies, by the Federal Government, for the carriage of sleepers from Western Australia to Port Augusta. The honorable senator promised to obtain for me the confirmation of it. Has he yet obtained it?
– I think that I have the information in my room. I will obtain it for the honorable senator.
– Can the Minister of Defence give me any information as to when the final majority report of the Fruit Commission will be laid on the table of the Senate ?
– I understand that the minority report has not yet been completed. When both are ready and in the hands of the Government they will be made available.
– I wish, through you, Mr. President, to ask Senator Ready a question. If, as seems probable, the Prime Minister, Mr. Cook, refuses to submit to Parliament, before we prorogue, the report of the Fruit Commission, will the honorable senator take into consideration the desirableness of communicating with the Chairman of that Commission with a view to having the report made public before the forthcoming elections?
– Is it competent for one honorable senator to ask another, who is not a Minister, a question which does not relate to business before the Senate?
– I find that Senator Ready has on the notice- paper a notice of motion, “ That the final report of the Federal Fruit Commission be laid on the table of the Senate.” In view of that fact, and as Senator Ready appears to be in charge of the business of the Commission, I rule that the question put to him by Senator Mullan is permissible.
– Before Senator Ready replies, may I ask, Mr. President, whether it would be competent for him to submit to the Senate a copy of the report of the Commission, and to move that it be printed.
– It is my duty to see that the business of the Senate is conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders. It is for Senator Ready, as a member of the Fruit Commission, to decide what action he will take; and thereafter it will be for the Senate to determine whether they will indorse that action. The matter is entirely in the hands of the Senate. If the proposed course is not in accordance with the Standing Orders the Senate may suspend the Standing Orders to enable it to be followed.
– In reply to Senator Mullan, I desire to say that I have the authority of the Acting Chairman of the Fruit Commission to state that if the Government persist in their endeavour to suppress the majority report, we shall take it out of their hands and hand it over to the press for publication. In order to obtain for it that publicity which the Government are evidently desirous of preventing, I shall adopt the suggestion made by Senator de Largie and take steps to see that the report is tabled to-day.
– Has the Honorary Minister made any further inquiry regarding the question I put to him yesterday as to the Commonwealth Bank and the ..financial operations of the Broken Hill Company ?
– When I answered the honorable senator’s question yesterday, I thought perhaps that I had put the position a little too strongly, but I have now satisfied myself on the j>oint. An answer has been received in definite terms which allows me now to make the statement without any qualification on the authority of the Treasury that “ the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank absolutely declines to give the information asked for.”
– I wish to ask the representative of the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is a fact that a regulation has been framed by the Electoral Department giving the men of the Australian Navy the right to enroll without any shore address, their ship address being taken as sufficient?
– I have no knowledge of the matter.
– Following up my question, I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether instructions have been given to the Electoral Department that men in the merchant service should not be entitled to enrolment in respect of their ship address? Is it a fact that the privilege granted to men of the Australian Navy has been denied to men in the merchant service?
– Not to my knowledge, and certainly not as the result of any instruction given by me.
– Is it a fact that the Department has issued such an instruction ? Surely the Minister controlling the Department ought to know.
– The honorable senator must have sense enough to know that a Minister cannot be expected to be prepared to give an answer to every question put to him without notice. I cannot carry with me every detail relating to the Department. I repeat that no such instruction has been given by me, and that I know of no such instruction having been issued.
– I give notice of my question for a later hour in the day.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether a reply has yet been received to the telegram I read in the Senate recently regarding objections to names on the roll for Bullfinch, Western Australia?
– The reply sent to me is as follows -
Submitted for the Minister’s information.
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer reports that some errors have been made by the officers reviewing rolls in furnishing information in regard to certain electors at Bullfinch.
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer has taken all necessary steps to safeguard the rights of the electors in question.
C. Oldham, Chief Electoral Officer. 26th June, 1914.
– In reference to the statement made by the Minister of Defence yesterday regarding the strength of naviesnow stationed in the Pacific, I ask the Minister if it is his intention to print that important document?
– The honorable senator was absent when I tabled that document yesterday, and I hesitated then, as I always do, to move that it be printed, bearing in mind that there is in existence a Printing Committee. But in view of the late period of the session, and the obvious desire of honorable senators to obtain that document, if the Senate will accord me permission I will move, without notice, that the document be printed.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to-
That the paper - “ Navies - Relative strength in the Pacific “ - laid upon the table on 25th June, 1914, be printed.
– Has the Vice-
President of the Executive Council received a reply to the question I asked yesterday in reference to a contract with a steam-ship company for the carriage of sleepers from Western Australia to Port Augusta?
– I have received the following further reply: -
In reply to your inquiry respecting the answer given to question No. 2, on Wednesday’s business paper (Senator Pearce), I desire to inform you that the date, 16th December, 1913, appearing in the answer to the question is the date of the actual deed of agreement.
– The answer given to my question yesterday in reference to the shipping contract was telegraphed by me to the Minister of Works in Western Australia at his request, and I have received from the Premier of that State the following telegram which I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister : -
Re your wire to Johnson on question Commonwealth shipping contract. When conferring with Prime Minister at Sydney, March 6th last, was assured no shipping contract had been entered into. They stated, however, that.
Inter-State shipping companies had submitted quotes at price mentioned your telegram. Could you find out definitely whether contract was actually made in December? If so, their statement to me deliberately false.
In view of that telegram, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister and ask him what action he proposes to take if the statement made by the Premier of Western Australia is correct, that the Prime Minister represented to him in Sydney in March last that no shipping contract had been entered into.
– I will make in- quiries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Have inquiries been made into the cases of Davenport, Dwyer, and Embler, who were fined so heavily for committing a breach of the Electoral Act? If so, what has been the result ?
– The matter is in the hands of the Commonwealth and State law authorities. Inquiries are being made into the matter, but are not yet complete.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the VicePresident of the Executive Council, as head of the Electoral Department, a case of interference in a very .grave manner with the name- of an elector on the roll. In order to fully explain the case I will, with the permission of the Senate, read a short extract from a letter which I hold.
I was advised that the name on the roll was crossed out, and was commissioned to obtain definite information. I examined the Boothby roll at the St. Peter’s Post Office, and saw the name crossed out. A marginal note “transferred to West Adelaide” is the official explanation.
Then the writer goes on to complain of the injustice that is inflicted upon the elector. I also hold a sworn declaration by the elector referred to, which, with the permission of the Senate, I will read.
– I desire to point out to honorable senators that the reading of lengthy documents, and the considerable discussion on questions without notice, is occupying a great deal more time than it should, seeing that there will be ample opportunity when the
Supply Bills are before the Senate to-day to fully discuss all these matters. A question should be asked only for the purpose of eliciting definite information on a specific subject, and the answer should be directed to supplying that information. Neither the honorable senator asking the question nor the Minister replying should argue the subject.
– I will refer to the matter later on.
– Has the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral received the replies to the questions I asked a few days ago with reference to the Brisbane mail branch ?
– The honorable senator’s questions, and the answers thereto, are as follows: -
Answers : -
The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies: -
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Ready laying on the table of the Senate the final report of the Federal Fruit Commission.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I lay the report of the majority of the Fruit Commission on the table, and move -
That thereport be printed.
In submitting the motion, I should like to say briefly that it is clear to me, as a member of the Commission, that the Government have made a deliberate attempt to suppress this document and keep it from the many growers of fruit in Tasmania, and other parts of the Commonwealth, who have been waiting for its appearance for some time. I think it right that I should give the facts which have led up to my taking the action which has been supported to-day by the party to which I belong. We presented the report of the Commission to the GovernorGeneral some weeks ago, and after it was in His Excellency’s hands, Mr. Finlayson and I, as representing the Commission, waited on the Prime Minister in connexion with it. The right honorable gentleman said that he would lay the report on the table of the House of Representatives, and would take charge of its distribution to members of this Parliament. We fell in with the course proposed, and did not worry ourselves any more about the matter. I am well aware that the gentlemen who comprise the minority on the Fruit Commission subsequently drew up a report from their point of view. To that we did not object, but we expected that the report of the majority would be laid before Parliament before the close of the session. We found a deliberate attempt had been made to prevent it being printed and circulated.
The report will be of special interest at the present juncture to the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth, and the Government are well aware of that. Not only did Mr. Cook give us his assurance that the report would be tabled, so that it might be printed and be available for distribution, but Mr. Shepherd, of the Prime Minister’s Department, told us yesterday that Mr. Cook would table the report before Parliament was dissolved. Honorable senators can judge my amazement, as a member of the Commission, when this morning I was coolly informed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the report of the minority of the Commission was not ready, and that if it was ready before Parliament rose, the two reports would be tabled together. It was quite clear to me that if that were to be the condition for the tabling of the report of the majority, the report of the minority of the Commission would not be ready.
– The honorable senator was ready, anyhow.
-I need to be, when such tactics are pursued, to prevent the publication of a document which should at once see the light of day.
– This is the Government of secrecy.
– Yes; the Star Chamber Government, who conceal most of their actions. They endeavoured to prevent this report being made available for members of this Parliament, and the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth, who wish to read it. I have nothing to say concerning the minority of the Fruit Commission. Whether they see fit to have their report presented before the close of the session is a matter which I leave to their own judgment. I have no criticism to offer upon their action. Thereport of the majority of the Commission has been completed for weeks, and if the minority have not their report completed, that is no reason why the report of the majority should not be tabled, leaving it to the minority to present theirs when it suits’ them.
As a member of the Fruit Commission, I must express my surprise and disgust that since the present Government came into power, every time this matter has been before the Senate, they have tried to burke its consideration. I remember that when last session I moved that the evidence taken by the Commission be printed, there was trouble about it, and strong opposition was offered to the proposal by Senator Clemons, one of the representatives of Tasmania. It seems to me that the Government have done everything they possibly could to prevent the work of the Fruit Commission being given the fullest publicity. Senator Clemons, when the matter came before the Chamber, objected to the evidence being printed.
– I told the Senate that it could be very much better printed in another way.
– We had to take the course of deciding to print the document against the wishes of the Government; and the final report, which sums up the findings of the progress report, is most vital at the present juncture, and ought not to be delayed in this way. Having made my protest I trust that the motion will be carried.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– On the 24th June
asked the following question : -
Is the Vice-President of the Executive Coun cil aware that in the Bourke-street Post Office, Melbourne, there is an official who, when electors go to find out if their names are on the roll, advises them that it would be more convenient to fro down to the rooms of the Liberal party in Collins-street, and find out there. If “that is the case, will the Minister endeavour to prevent the official from giving such advice, and, if he will not do so, will he instruct the official that rolls may also be seen at the Trades Hall, and in the rooms of the Political Labour Council.
I have received the following memorandum in reply: -
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Victoria reports that a set of the rolls for the whole of Victoria was forwarded to the General Post Office, Melbourne, for inspection purposes.
That no postal or other officer has any authority from the electoral administration to refer electors to any political organization, and he states further that the latest prints of the rolls can always be inspected at the Commonwealth Electoral Office, Masonic Chambers, Collins-street, Melbourne.
A little while ago Senator Senior asked a number of questions in regard to objections taken to the enrolment of several persons at Port Pirie, and I have now the following memorandum in reply: -
The names of Thos. Harris and Benjamin Margett were not objected to, and still remain on the Toll. In the ease of Marinus Scheffer and Martin Burke, the only action taken was to remove duplicated names. In regard to the other persons referred to by Senator Senior, objections were lodged by the Registrar after he had made official inquiry, and had reasonablegrounds for believing that the persons concerned had ceased to live in the division for at least one month, and that they were not temporarily absent. In each of these places the names still remain on the roll.
In reply to a question by Senator Newland in reference to an objection lodged at Bullfinch, i am informed -
The information was asked for by wire yesterday, but a reply has not yet been received. A further wire urging expedition has now been sent.
– Some time ago Senator Findley referred to the possibility of ligitation in connexion with the Teesdale Smith contract, and i have the following memorandum in connexion therewith : -
No writ has been issued, but the letter to which the honorable senator’s attention has been directed would seem to imply legal action. Under the circumstances it is hoped that the honorable senator will realize that questions on the subject at this juncture are not in the public’s interest.
Motion by (Senator Sir Albert Gould) agreed to : -
That the time for bringing up the report of the Select Committee on the Teesdale Smith contract be extended to the next day of sitting.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway : Strike : Progress of Work : Mr. Teesdale Smith’s Contract - Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway: Gauge - Northern Territory - Papua - Fisher Administration : Finance - Party Organizations - Electoral Rolls : Action of Party Organizers - Dissolution The Constitution : Powers of Senate - Conduct of Business in Senate - Tasmanian Mail Contract : Fares and Freights - Revenue and Expenditure - Insurance and Pensions Scheme - Pensions for Widows - Beef Trust - Postal Voting - Cost of Living : Trusts and Combines - Constitution Amendment Bills - Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Naval Board - Contract and Day Labour Systems - Wireless Telegraphy : King Island.
Debate resumed from 25th June(vide page 2550, on motion by Senator Millen) -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– Since the Bill was submitted much has been said by way of criticism of the action or inaction of the Government during the past year, and much has also been said in defence of their administration. It was not my intention to occupy much time on the present occasion ; but, from replies given by Ministers this morning, I gather that they are in no hurry to close the business of the Senate ; at any rate, they conveyed to me the impression that they were rather desirous of meeting again next week.
– I suppose the honorable senator is just as anxious as they are to return next week?
– It is a matter of indifference to me whether the Senate meets even next month ; but if we have to return next week, the Ministers will be wholly to blame for the occurrence. I wish to refer to some of the undertakings which have been in charge of the Government during the past year, and to what I am sure every honorable senator on this side agrees is the very unsatisfactory management that has been shown. For these undertakings the late Government were, of course, largely responsible so far as their initiation is concerned; but, in any case, the administration by the present Government in this regard has not been anything like that desired by the people of Australia. For instance, the work in connexion with the construction of the transcontinental railway has been disappointing to every section of the community. For many weeks, at the Kalgoorlie end, the men were on strike for reasonable wages and living conditions; and even now we are not aware what steps have been taken by the Government to bring about a settlement. It would appear that the Government have calmly waited, and practically starved the men into accepting the terms offered. No reasonable attempt has been made to meet the men with a view to a settlement.
– Did the Government not agree to submit the matter to arbitration?
– The men were on strike, and had been unemployed for a very considerable time before anything whatever was done in that regard.
– But the honorable senator says that the Government did nothing.
– The Government did very little, indeed, to make it easy for the men to come to terms.
– They did nothing at all.
– They did nothing in any shape or form to assist in the the settlement of the dispute. Last night the Vice-President of the Executive Council in referring to the progress made in the construction of this railway stated that the Fisher Government occupied fifteen days in building a mile of it,, whereas the present Government had constructed it at the rate of a mile in two days. He very carefully refrained from assigning any reason for the apparent difference between the progress of construction by the two Administrations. He studiously avoided any reference to the fact that the Fisher Government were obliged to assemble the plant, and to undertake all the preliminary work in connexion with the building of that railway. As a matter of fact, many months were occupied in Port Augusta in getting: the initial work under weigh. A similar remark is applicable to the Western Australian end of the line. The VicePresident of the Executive Council would have acted very much more fairly, if, in instituting a comparison of this kind, he had given due credit to his predecessors for the work which they had performed.
– I doubt if he has ever been to Port Augusta.
– I am confident that if he has been there, he must know of the tremendous amount of work which had to be undertaken before any construction work could be proceeded with. We all know that a little way out of Port Augusta a long bridge had to be built over a creek, and that this undertaking retarded the commencement of construction work.
– Then a branch line ha’d to be laid down to the quarry.
– Exactly. None of these circumstances, however, were taken into consideration by the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I am not in a position to question the accuracy of his figures-
– They are the figures of the Railway Department.
– They convey an entirely false impression.
– And that is what they were intended to do. They were designed to belittle the action of the late Government-
– Surely the officers of the Department would not have that in their minds.
– Here is another instance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council endeavouring to shoulder responsibility on to departmental officers. I am dealing with the action of the Government, and not with that of their officers. I repeat that, in fairness to his predecessors, the Vice-President of the Executive Council should have said something of the difficulty under which they laboured at the inception of this great enterprise. Another matter which has been fairly threshed out in this chamber, and one which will ultimately contribute to delay in the construction of the line, is the muddle that has been made in connexion with the sleeper contract with the Western Australian Government.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council stated that the Teesdale Smith contract- was let for the purpose of linking up two ends of the line. Asa matter of fact, there were no lines to link up.
– “Job” is the right name for that contract. It was a most corrupt job.
– From, the evidence that has been forthcoming there can be no doubt that the present Government made a frightful blunder in connexion with the sleeper contract which was let to the Western Australian Government.
– Look at the stick of toffee which they hang out this morning as an inducement to the electors to vote for Sir John Forrest.
– Yes. Evidently they now realize that their foolish action has brought them face to face with the electors, who will demand some explanation of their conduct in connexion with that contract. Some of their friends in Western Australia appear to be particularly anxious as to what the people will have to say to them on polling day. Particularly are they consumed with anxiety to know what the electors will say to Sir John Forrest, who is one of the strong men of the present Ministry. It looks as if that gentleman has ample justification for his anxiety to retrieve the blunder that was made in connexion with the sleeper contract, with a view to securing a majority of votes in his own electorate.
– With a view to securing for his own district the supply of 500,000 sleepers.
– The mischief has been done, and no small contract which may now be fixed up will satisfy the people of Western Australia.
– A contract for the supply of 500,000 sleepers instead of 1,500,000 - just one-third of the number provided for in the original contract.
– The electors will doubtless deal with the Government on polling day. I would not have referred to this matter but that Senator McColl last night took so much credit to the Ministry for the work which they have performed on the transcontinental railway, and refused to give any credit to his predecessors for the unprofitable and unsatisfactory work which they had to undertake. Coming to the Teesdale Smith contract, the time has surely gone by when the Government ought to attempt to defend such an iniquitous job. The evidence that has. been adduced has satisfied the people of Australia that at the head of the Railway Construction Branch of the Commonwealth there is a gentleman who does not know the first principles of business when he has to deal with hardheaded business men such as Mr. Teesdale Smith and other contractors.
– He happened to have Mr. Teesdale Smith and Mr. Timms on opposite sides.
– He. did not appear to take advantage of the fact that the services of both Mr. Teesdale Smith and Mr. Timms were available. Had he given Mr. Timms and Mr. Baxter an equal chance with Mr. Teesdale Smith we would have had very little to say concerning the letting of this portion of the railway on contract.
– Mr. Timms does not contribute to their election expenses.
– I do not know whether he does or not. If he ever did, the letting of this contract has surely settled him in that regard, and he will contribute to their funds no longer. I am sure that many honorable senators have been disappointed to find that the Government have, attempted to shelter themselves behind their officers. Minis.ters are but human, and mistakes are bound to be made, and surely when a mislake is made, it is a manly course to own up to it. Had that been done, had Ministers owned up to the fact that they were had by this contractor, and compelled to pay double what the work would have cost had the proper course been adopted, we would not have heard so much about the Teesdale Smith contract.
– They were not got at; the matter was all arranged.
– I am putting the case in the most Christian spirit that I can, and am trying to apologize for Minsters.
– The Prime Minister might have taken the responsibility, and not put it on to poor Kelly.
– Yes, the kindergarten Minister, being the most juvenile and most innocent member of the learn, has had to bear the whole of the responsibility. I am confident that the electors of Australia will show their disapproval of this contract. The Minister told us last night that the whole of the f acts would be put before the people in ti way that could be understood ; but, with fill due deference to that Minister, I suggest that the best place to put those facts before the people is on the floor of this Chamber, and that the best time for doing it is before the session closes, and honorable senators have gone to their constituencies, so that honorable senators may hear those facts and criticise the actions of the Government, and any statement put forward by them. Honorable senators should be made acquainted with any excuse or justification the Government may put forward for their action. Doubtless the facts will be put before the people by Ministers in a way that will make them look most favorable to the Government, but I am confident that sufficient has been said upon this question during the last two months to satisfy the people that something entirely irregular, and absolutely wrong, has been done in letting this contract at the price that is being paid, and I am further satisfied that the people of ^Australia will have to foot a very con siderable bill in connexion with it. Unsatisfactory as the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway construction is, I think, every one will agree with me that the construction of the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway is even more unsatisfactory. Twelve months have gone by, and nothing has been done. We were told the other day in another place that the men were about to start, or that they were thinking about starting, or that they were about to start by-and-by.
– The Government are exhausted over their effort to build the transcontinental railway.
– Evidently they have exhausted their capabilities as railway constructors on the little bit of work already done, and after having let the Teesdale Smith contract, and set the men on strike.
– And sacked the boss.
– Yes ; and, as Senator Needham this morning pointed out, they are now beginning to victimize members of the unions. But they have just started about a week too soon. So anxious were they to get to these objectionable unionists, that they could not wait until Parliament was dissolved. God help unionists if this is to be taken as a sample of the way in which the present Government propose to treat them. The leaders of the union at the Kalgoorlie end of the transcontinental, railway, the so-called agitators, men of the type of those who are more responsible for maintaining industrial peace than any other section, are to be victimized by the Government at the very first opportunity. That this step of dismissing prominent members of the union has been taken so speedily is, in a sense, a good thing, because it enables honorable senators to call attention to it.
– Neither the Government nor the Railway Department know anything about the matter.
– It is an extraordinary feature of Ministers in this chamber that they know absolutely nothing about what takes place in any other Department but their own.
– I have a memorandum from the Railway Department showing that nothing is known about the matter.
– The Minister has been a shocking example of how little a Minister may know concerning the Department he controls, judging by the replies he has given in this chamber. Notice has to be given of nearly every question submitted to him. It is no wonder then that he does not know that these leaders of the unions at the Kalgoorlie end of the railway have been discharged.
– Perhaps the Minister may know that Mr. Hobler has been sent to Port Augusta, owing to Mr. Bell’s appointment as Engineer-in-Ohief of Railways, and that Captain Saunders has been removed from Port Augusta, and is now walking about the streets of Melbourne drawing his salary, and with a chance of dismissal over his head.
– Another victim?
– I was not aware that Captain Saunders had been withdrawn. I do not know whether the Minister knows of it. If he does it will be very interesting to know whether the statement made by Senator Blakey is true.
– It is true.
– The Govern ment have had twelve months in which to prepare a policy for the development of the Northern Territory, and they have had on the statute-book, since the close of last session, an Act authorizing them to construct a railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River, but, strange to say, this Ministry of all the talents, and all the giant intellects, has not been able to do anything on that railway, or, until a few days ago, frame a policy for the development of the Territory.
– The last Government had three years, and did nothing.
– That statement is contrary to fact, and is in accord with many other statements made by the Minister. The last Government did infinitely more in their three years of office than the present Government could do in six years. The Fisher Government paid off a considerable part of the Northern Territory debt. This Government cannot do that. It is going to the bad at the rate of £250,000 a month. All that it has done has been to undo much of the good work of the last Government. It has discharged men whose services were urgently needed in the Northern Territory.
– Labour men.
– Some of them. It has discharged Mr. Francis, who was manager of the railway. Who is managing the railway now?
– Mr. Francis was an avowed opponent of the Labour party, and still was appointed by a LabourMinistry.
– That is an instance of the stupidity of the Labourparty. It gives appointments to its opponents; but how many Labouriteshave been appointed by the present Government? If it is to be “spoils to the victors,” the Labour party should play the game as much as the other party, which invariably gives its appointments to the members of the political organization supporting it. The Northern Territory railway is not paying at the present time, but a good manager, if he could not make it pay, would at least be able to keep down expenses, and thus to decrease any loss. We passed last session an Act for the extension of the railway, yet nothing has been done under it. The Minister of External Affairs proposes to extend the line on the narrow gauge. He is one of the most level-headed men in the Ministry, and I am astounded that he proposes to use the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. The Government is constructing the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge, and is buying rolling stock, locomotives, and material to suit that gauge.
– What is the gauge of the line from Darwin to Pine Creek?
– The 3-ft. 6-in, gauge. But does the Government propose to adopt one gauge for the east-west transcontinental line and another gauge for the north-south transcontinental line? Is it going to imitate the blundering of the States in the matter of gauges ? Why has not the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge been made the uniform gauge for all our lines ? The Minister of External Affairs says that it would cost £500,000 to widen the line from Darwin to Pine Creek, a distance of 146 miles. If that be so, what will it. cost to convert the line from PortoDarwin to Port Augusta to the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge after it has been laid on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge ? Surely it is an act of folly to lay a line on a gauge which will necessitate the pulling up of the rails and the relaying of them on a wider gauge within a few years. But this is only one of the many acts of folly of this Government, another of the crimes that is hurrying it to its doom. “ Senator Guthrie. - The honorable senator does not call Ministers criminals?
– They would be more correctly compared with certain animals mentioned in the Scriptures, which ran down a steep place, with consequences to themselves that are well known. Let me call attention to another shocking blunder in connexion with railway construction. In the Commonwealth Government Gazette for the 6th June, under the heading “Tenders accepted,” it is announced that the tender of Messrs. Elder Smith & Co. Ltd., for 5,752 tons of 60-lb. rails for the Pine Creek to Katherine River railway has been accepted. Are not Ministers aware that the 60-lb. rail is everywhere being discarded, and that where such a rail is used in a line laid on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge, trains cannot travel with safety at a rate exceeding 20 miles an hour? It is suggested by Senator Guthrie that they will do for telegraph posts, but old, condemned rails that are of no more use are generally employed for that purpose, whereas these are new rails being purchased, and obsolete before they are used. In South Australia, on the narrow-gauge line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, the. 60-lb. rails have been pulled up, and 90-lb. rails substituted. That has actually been done on a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. Quick transit and heavy traffic are not possible on 60-lb. rails, and it is a wicked waste of money for the Commonwealth to purchase them for a trunk railway. We hear a great deal “of the bad bargains made by the Fisher Government, but the Teesdale Smith contract and this transaction show that the present Government know absolutely nothing about the construction of railways, or the requirements of the country.
– I suppose Mr. Bell knows what he is about?
– The Gazette notice appeared on the 6th June, and tenders must have been called for the rails months before Mr. Deane left the Department, so that Mr. Bell would probably know nothing about them. The honorable senator’s interjection is only another instance of the way the Government shelter themselves behind their officers. Every time we sheet home a crime to them, they exclaim, “ Aha ! It is some of those wretched officers again.” I should not care to be an officer in the Commonwealth Service at the present time, when every blunder that the Government make is laid at the door of the Service. Mr. Bell, who comes from Queensland, where they have wellequipped, well-laid narrow-gauge lines, carrying heavy plant, would not, I am confident, recommend the use of 60-lb. rails for the north-south railway. It is of very little use to impress on the Government the necessity of reconsidering the question, as, I suppose, the transaction has been completed, But I am sure that the Government which will occupy the Treasury benches after 5th September next will see that a railway which will bear traffic at a reasonable speed, and be of some use in the development of the Territory, is laid across the Continent. Apart from the construction of railways, nothing has been done by the Government towards the development of the Territory. In fact, every possible step seems to have been taken to retard its development. The people of Australia have to shoulder the accumulated debt of the country, and pay interest on it, but not a thing has been done by the Government to develop its undoubted resources.
- Mr. Glynn will tell you a different story in South Australia about that.
– I have Mr. Glynn’s report, and, although I have not had time to read it, I saw the gist of it in the press a few days ago, and can assure the honorable senator that there is nothing new in Mr. Glynn’s scheme. The plan outlined by the Fisher Government went quite as far, and was actually put into operation. The only new feature in Mr. Glynn’s report is the promise to link up the Territory with Queensland and Western Australia at some time in the dim and distant future, but it will be ten or fifteen .years before any linking-up can take place under the most favorable conditions, if the compact with South Australia is kept, and the railway across the Continent constructed. Whilst this is being done, much good work could, and should be done, to assist mining in the. Territory. It is now Federal Territory, and this Parliament is responsible for its. development. While it belonged to South Australia, a considerable sum waa advanced to prospectors and others to help them develop their claims, but what is being done by the present Government? We were told some time ago that a plant was being sent up for use on the tin-fields. I do not know whether it has reached there or got bushed; but, although the Government have had twelve months of office, with all the advantage of the plans laid by the Fisher Administration, they have not done a single thing towards the development of the country, and all the taxpayers are going to get out of their administration is a piling up of the debt. We have heard nothing this session about the development of Papua. Last session we passed a Bill authorizing the .construction of certain public works there. I wonder what has been done in that direction, for I do not think that Papua has been mentioned in this Chamber at any time during this year. Is anything being done to assist the pioneers, who are taking considerable risks, both personal and financial, in that Territory? It is the duty of every Government to assist the first settlers in a country of that description in every possible way ; but we know absolutely nothing as to what action, if any, the Government are taking to assist in the development of Papua. We passed legislation last session authorizing the creation of a Public Works Committee. What has become of it? Parliament recognised the important work with which the Committee would have to deal. It saw that before the great public undertakings of the Commonwealth could be gone on with, it would be a good thing to have a Committee to examine the proposals, and report to the Government on them; but this do-nothing Government have taken no steps towards the appointment of such a body. I suppose they could not make up their minds, or had not enough energy or backbone to do what was necessary. We have heard a good deal about their financial abilities, but we are very sorry that the people outside, and the press generally, do not share their high opinions of themselves as financiers. They have, in a very unscrupulous way, taken credit for the surplus left by the Fisher Administration, and when they are not doing that they are talking very glibly about the commitments of the Fisher Ministry. If the present Government were sent into office for any reason at all, it was to upset the commitments of the Fisher Ministry. According to our opponents the latter did nothing right, and so their commitments ought to have been cut off straight away. But we know perfectly well that one way adopted by the Government to smother up their own mismanagement of public affairs is by calling attention to the action of their predecessors. We are confident that whatever commitments the Fisher Ministry may have left, the Cook Government will leave more commitments, and more costly commitments too, to the Fisher Administration which will come into power in a few months time.
– They have stolen the nest egg.
– I am just coming to that point. I propose to quote a few sentences from an article in the Melbourne Age. Now this newspaper has never been a very consistent advocate of the Labour party or their policy, but during the last few months it must have been like a nightmare to the present Government, because of its scathing articles denouncing them, and smiting them hip and thigh, not only for their financial administration
– Do not be too sure. There is plenty of time for the paper to change its views.
– I am not claiming that the Melbourne Age will not alter its politics. At any rate, while it is criticising the present Government, it cannot be said that it is a partisan journal. It cannot be said that the Age, because it approves of the Labour party, is finding fault with the Government. Adverse criticism of that kind is all the more valuable because it cannot be said that the Age is biased towards the Labour party. Had the Worker or the Daily Herald or some other Labour journal been dealing with the present Government in this way, we might not perhaps expect our honorable friends to place so much weight upon the criticisms; but when we recollect how the Age has dealt with the Government for the last two or three months, we can easily understand that its criticism has made them very uncomfortable indeed.
– That is in keeping with the criticism of the Sydney Worker on the Labour Government of New South Wales.
– The Labour Government in New South Wales deserved some criticism, because they are not infallible, and a little criticism is apt to keep Governments, and members of Parliament, too, a little more straight, perhaps, than they otherwise would be. In a leading article published on the 12th June, the Age, amongst other things, said -
It will be remembered that in his Budget speech last October the Treasurer estimated the revenue of the current financial year at £21,462.000, and the gross expenditure at £27,246,747, leaving a deficit of £5,784,747, to be provided for partly out of new loan funds and partly from the accumulated surplus of £2,643,305 inherited from the Fisher Administration.
We were told by the present Treasurer, the present Prime Minister, and other members of the then Opposition that the Fisher Government never had a surplus. At the last general election, from every platform, it was hurled at the people that Mr. Fisher’s claim that he had a surplus was altogether a wrong one, that he had spent every penny on which he could lay his hands, and would spend more if he could get hold of it. These were the charges made by our opponents. When the time came for the present Treasurer to make his first Budget speech, it was impossible for him to conceal the fact that there was a surplus, and now we have the confirmation of the Age. When Sir John Forrest presented the Budget - the last one, I presume, which he will ever present to the Federal Parliament-
– There are a lot of prophecies going about to-day. Never prophesy unless you know.
– This is merely a guess. I am calling attention to the fact that the Age states that the present Treasurer has used a considerable portion of the surplus of £2,643,305 left by the Fisher Ministry. I feel that in quoting the criticism of the Age on the financial position, I am presenting a very much stronger case than I could do by my own efforts, because, whereas my criticism might be charged with being biased, the criticism of the Age must be admitted to be absolutely fair and accurate. The article continues -
The expenditure out of revenue, on the other hand, will be £834,000 less than he originally estimated, although it is to be charged with certain lands required for defence purposes, which in the Budget were charged against loans. The whole of this £834,000, however, cannot be regarded as money saved the taxpayer. No less a sum, for example, than £200,000 has been cut out of the estimate of £1,002,000 forfleet construction, owing to the slow progress of the work; and, as this money must ultimately be paid, it is really only a piece of deferred expenditure.
Here is one of the commitments which will face the next Administration. Sir John Forrest shows this sum of £200,000 as a saving; but, as a matter of fact, it is merely a deferred payment, and deferred because of the slowness of the present Government in constructing works for which the money was intended. Further on, the writer says -
And it will be seen that the Treasurer treats the accumulated surplus left by the Fisher Government as an ordinary item of revenue. It should be needless to remark that Sir John Forrest has not a tittle of justification for this procedure.
Here is a rather severe criticism on the Treasurer from the Melbourne Age. It says that he is treating this surplus as revenue, and that he has not a tittle of justification for his action, good, bad, or indifferent -
The Cook Government has been enabled to stave off the day of reckoning during this year by having had the good fortune to inherit a huge accumulated surplus from its predecessors in office. But most of the Fisher surplus has already been spent, and it is now evident that the Government will either be forced to borrow in order to pay its way next year, or else to impose fresh taxation on the people.
The only regret the Fisher Government had, so we were told by our opponents, was that they had not more money at their command so that they could squander it, and play up in all directions. I wish now to refer to a question affecting the rolls, and to the wonderful circular which Senator Oakes told us the other day had been issued by the Labour party in New South Wales. The honorable senator told us in all seriousness that the thumb-screw was applied to Labour supporters to extort from them money with which to fight the Commonwealth elections. That is like a good many more of the wild and whirling statements made by honorable senators opposite.
– Does the honorable senator say that a levy for political purposes is not put upon the unions?
– If a levy is put upon the unions it is imposed by the unionists themselves.
– Exactly, and the man who does not want to pay it must either pay up or go out.
– The honorable senator knows nothing about the unions.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - He knows quite as much about them as the honorable senator does.
– I think not. No unionist has ever been penalized because of his failure to pay a political levy.
– A unionist who fails to pay such a levy may be declared unfmancial and expelled from his union so that he cannot earn a living.
– That is not correct. There can be no doubt that the state of the roll will have an important effect on the coming election. If the roll is clean, if every person who has the right to vote is enrolled, and every name on the roll that ought not to be there is removed - we shall be well satisfied. I desire to call attention to a case where a name has been improperly removed from the roll. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked to be supplied with definite cases of the kind, and I have here a letter which I am going to read for what it is worth.
– That is a fair way of putting the position.
– We are always fair. No one can vouch for the absolute accuracy of a letter that he receives.
– And no one wants to vouch for that which is not accurate.
– Quite so. I believe this letter was written in good faith, but I take no responsibility for the statement it contains. The writer says: -
I was advised that the name on the roll was crossed out, and was commissioned to obtain definite information. I examined the Boothby roll at the St. Peters Post Office, and saw the name crossed out. A marginal note, “ Transferred to West Adelaide,” is the official explanation.
The following is a declaration by the elector referred to : -
Henry-street, Stepney, St. Peters.
I herewith testify that at the previous Commonwealth elections I voted at the St. Peters Town Hall. My name is registered on the 1913 roll, since when I have occupied the same residence in Henry-street, St. Peters. During the interim I have not occupied a residence elsewhere.I distinctly state that I have not been a resident in West Adelaide. I have had no notification from the Electoral Officer regarding the removal of my name from the Boothby roll.
Ethel May Lewis.
Witness to signature - T. Barker, J.P. 23rd June, 1914.
I shall be glad if the Vice-President of the Executive Council will make inquiries and ascertain why this lady’s name has been transferred from the roll for St. Peters to the West Adelaide roll.
– I shall be very glad to do so.
– The trouble is that by the time inquiry is made and the mistake rectified it will be too late, perhaps, for the elector to vote.
– But by venti lating these matters in the Senate we shall let the people see that we are keeping an eye on the manipulation that we fear is going on in connexion with the rolls. For the benefit of Senator Oakes and the public generally, I propose to show how the Liberal Association penalizes its members and exacts from them contributions which they are compelled to pay whether they like it or not. I have here a copy of a circular signed, on behalf of the Ashburnham Electorate Conference, by the president and secretary, and dated “ Electorate Office, Forbes, 1st August, 1912.” It is headed “ Liberal Association of New South Wales,” “ Ashburnham Electorate,” and reads as follows: -
We desire to appeal to you to contribute the necessary funds to thoroughly and effectively organize the Ashburnham electorate both for Federal and State purposes.
With improved organization, the Ashburnham electorate can be won back to Liberalism, and even be made to contribute a considerable Liberal majority towards defeating the Labour candidate for Calare at the next Federal election, which will shortly be upon us.
It is not desirable or right that the fluids of the Liberal party in the electorates should be contributed by a limited number of subscribers. What is required is that each Liberal supporter should take a personal interest in Liberal organization, and in the same way as he insures himself, his house, or his property against death or accident, so should he contribute to his political organization. It is an insurance against the far-reaching effects of class and socialistic legislation. Infinite pains have been taken to draft an equitable basis upon which to appeal for contributions. At a meeting of the Ashburnham Conference held on the 16th March last, the appended scheme was unanimously adopted: -
Table A. (Minimum,1s.; maximum, £15 15s.) Holders of land up to and including - 100 acres,1s. per year. 150 acres, 2s. per year. 200 acres, 3s. per year. 250 acres, 4s. per year. 300 acres, 5s. per year. 350 acres, 6s. per year. 400 acres, 7s. per year.
Table B. (Minimum,1s.; maximum, £15 15s.) Holders of land up to and including - 500 acres, 8s. per year. 600 acres, 10s. per year. 700 acres, 12s. 6d. per year. 800 acres, 15s. per year. 900 acres, 17s. 6d. per year. 1,000 acres, 20s. per year.
And so on, adding1s. for every 100 acres held until the maximum of £15 15s. has been reached.
Business people - Minimum, 5s.; maximum £10 10s.
Subscribers other than business people or property owners - Minimum,1s.; maximum, 10s.
Property owners - Minimum, 5s.; maximum, £5 5s.
Dairy farmers, orchardists, and viticulturists - Minimum, 5s.; maximum, £5 5s.
That circular bears, amongst other names, “Wallace Hunter, President; Henry Savage, Secretary.”
– Is there any compulsion about the levy?
– Is there any compulsion about any levy to the funds of the Labour party?
– If a person does not pay his levy to a union he is put out of it.
– That statement has been refuted so often that it is not worthy of credence.
– The Liberal party have legislated against us levying on ourselves. What about the Arbitration Act?
– Senator Oakes is the champion Liberal organizer for raising funds by levy. That was his profession at one time.
– The honorable senator says that the table I have quoted was taken from the Labour party.
– It is a good way of raising money according to the wealth of the persons taxed.
– The Labour party never attempted to legislate against that.
– According to the financial strength of the unions they are compelled to pay the political levy.
– What would be said of the Labour party if we were to impose additional taxation on the people of Australia to the extent of £15 15s. per head?
– If it was compulsory they would object to it.
– But here is a tax imposed by a political organization.
– It is a voluntary contribution.
– What would happen to those persons who are brought under this so-called voluntary scheme if they did not pay up?
– The same thing would happen as if I asked you for a pound and you refused to give it.
– The Liberal organization has just as powerful means of enforcing payment as we have.
– Read out the penalty clause from that circular.
– No penalty is stated, but there is a very effective penalty, nevertheless. I may tell the honorable senator that that is not the only circular I have got. Senator Oakes made a splendid splash in regard to the circular issued in New South Wales, “ Cook’s Latest.” I ask the Honorary Minister if the circular I have just read is as pleasing to him as that little green circular ? I will now pass on from the Ashburnham electorate, and the tax which the Liberal Union has imposed on the farmers and business men under Tables A to F, which have been carefully worked out on an actuarial basis, I presume, so that every subscriber shall pay a fair proportion towards the upkeep of the organization. I turn now to South Australia. At Booleroo Centre, in the district of Burra, which I had the honour of representing in the State Parliament, the Liberal organizer had attended a special meeting under the auspices of the local branch of the Liberal Union on 1st March, 1913, and the newspaper report states: -
Mr. Page proposed that all the members in this district should pay their annual subscriptions according to their land holdings. He pointed out that the big farmer should pay more than the smaller one, as he had morestake in the country. He asked that 10 per cent. on district council assessment be paid, in addition to 2s. 6d. for each member. He stated” that there were from twelve to fifteen branches in the district that worked under this rule.
It was then resolved unanimously that the foregoing suggestions should be adopted. Thus we see that in South Australia the same thing is happening as in New South Wales; the members of the
Liberal Unions are being taxed according to the acreage and sheep they hold.
– Just the same as the Workers’ Union.
– If the honorable senator insists on referring to the Workers’ Union Lam prepared to go that far with him. But what I object to is that while the honorable gentleman is continually thundering against the Labour party for doing this sort of thing, he will not admit that his own party is an even worse offender. Then at a place called Melrose, also in South Australia -
It was resolved to adopt the scheme for membership subscriptions already carried into force by several other branches in this district. There is to be a subscription of 2s. 6d. per member, and, in addition, a levy of 10s. on the basis of the district council assessment. By this means it is hoped to secure adequate funds for carrying on the work of the union, without pressing too severely on the poorer members.
That is another instance of the way in which this generous and gracious Liberal union levies taxation on the small farmers in South Australia. I propose to quote now the account of a meeting of the Narracoorte Branch of the Liberal Union, held as recently as the 2nd May, 1914. The local paper contains the following paragraph: -
The Union was not as well financed as it should be, and if it were not for occasional help from a number of generous supporters the Union would find itself crippled for funds. … It should be made compulsory for all members to contribute according to the interests they have at stake. … It was compulsory for their friends in the opposite camp to contribute, and it was a good example to follow.
I ask Senator Oakes to take notice of that. The report continues: -
He had two ways; the first was that every member pay the membership fee of 2s. 6d. and 3d. for every 100 acres he holds. A landlord owning 1,000 acres would contribute 5s. per annum. A landlord holding 20,000 acres would contribute £2 12s. 6d. . . The other method was to levy a contribution in the rates to the amount the land-owners paid in rates. . . . He would suggest, say, 6d. in the £1.
– Are those the men who opposed the Land Tax ?
– Yes. They are the men who held meetings all over South Australia to oppose an impost which was intended to assist in the development of their own country.
Sitting suspended from 1 to2 . 30 p.m.
– We have no objection to the levy of subscriptions upon the members of political organizations for their upkeep. My object in referring to the matter is to direct public attention to the fact that whilst Ministers and their supporters are always pointing the finger of scorn at the Labour party because levies are made upon the members of Labour organizations, the same course is followed on the other side. It is not my intention to take up much more of the time of the Senate in dealing with this matter, but in order that my list may be brought up to date, I desire to have inserted in Hansard a copy of a portion of a circular issued by the Liberal Union in South Australia only a few weeks ago. This circular has been issued over the signature of the secretary of the Liberal Union of Adelaide, Mr.Freeman. There is a good deal in it which is not material to my case, and I quote only the portions which I consider material. The circular is dated from the Liberal Union office, No. 16 North-terrace, Adelaide, 17th June, 1914, and I quote the following from it -
The writ will issue about the 15th July, after that no claims to vote can be recorded. See that all electors of the Liberal tendency are on the roll at once. Advise all your members and ask them to pass the word on to their neighbours. Do not trust to any rumour that the Electoral Office is doing this work. They are not; they are not leaving claims, nor are they filling up claims, but any one whom they find is not on the roll will be prosecuted and fined, so it is an individual personal matter.
The election will in all probability take place on Saturday, 5th September, so be prepared for it, organize in time, do not forget or think there is plenty of time. Do it now, and be free and ready on polling day to do your duty. Citizenship is worth giving a day to. Do not be caught napping and regret it afterwards when it is too late. A great victory has a moral effect, so make it a victory worth recording, and as Liberals to be proud of.
Cleanse the rolls. Do not delay in sending in the names of Labour supporters who are on the latest roll sent you and have lost their qualifications, that I may have them struck off. You have little time. The next roll published which will appear after the writ issues will be the one on which the election will be fought. There will be no supplemental roll, so have your full strength recorded now, and do not let your opponents have any advantage over you, or any reserve strength for double voting.
New rolls. - I will send you a copy of the new roll as soon as printed, but this will be a very short time before the election.
Electoral officers. - I shall be pleased if you will report to me early any cases where the local Electoral Officers, who have charge of the conduct of the polling, &c, are not men of sober habits and good character, impartial in their judgment, and capable of carrying out duties imposed upon them in a trustworthy and intelligent manner, satisfactorily to the general public - or the same in respect of any temporary men employed. This election must be carried out on fair and honorable lines.
Finance.- -The Liberal year 1913-14 ends on the 30th June instant, and there is still a substantial sum owing by branches, on a levy under the constitution for the next year.
– What constitution?
– I presume that the reference is to the constitution of the Liberal Leagues. The circular continues -
This great Federal struggle for supremacy will need funds, and a special appeal is made to those who are in arrears to send their cheque to the District Secretary.
As I have said, the circular is signed by “H. G. Freeman. general secretary, Liberal Union, South Australia.”
– Who was in arrears? Was it the Beef Trust?
– The circular does not specify that. I have said enough to satisfy even Senator Oakes that the Labour party is not the only political party that by means of levies or other reasonable means raises funds for the support of its organizations. When we are finding fault with other organizations, instead of justifying our own we should remember that, no matter how bad the actions of one organization may be, it would be strange if we could not discover something in the history of other organizations equally bad. I wish, in conclusion, to say that this country is to be plunged into the unwarrantable expense involved in a double dissolution, and for what? For purely party purposes. The means by which the double dissolution has been brought about are trumpery. The charge that has been made against this branch of the Legislature of blocking the business of the country is absolutely false and entirely unwarranted. The Senate gave quick despatch to every Bill sent up to it by the Government during last session. I have here a list of the Bills that were dealt with in the Senate last session. It shows that twenty-five Bills were dealt with; that two or three measures were amended in this Chamber and laid aside in another place. Surely the Senate has a right to amend legislation submitted to it in any way that may seem right and proper to honorable senators? Only two Bills were rejected, and those two Bills were sent to the Senate for the expressed purpose of having them rejected. Honorable senators opposite know that one of those Bills was amended in such a way as to make it perfectly acceptable to the people of Australia. The party opposite, therefore, very cunningly dropped that measure, with which they did not expect to be able to do much before the electors. I refer to the Postal Voting Restoration Bill. The. great test measure in connexion with which the Government propose to involve the people of the Commonwealth in an expenditure of very nearly £100,000 is designed to give legislative effect to a principle which has already been given effect to by departmental regulation. Neither the people, the members of the Labour party, nor the Senate, have any objection to this branch of the Legislature or the Federal Parliament being penalized when legislation is hung up, and the two Houses are in a state of dead-lock. But when it comes to a matter of advising the Governor-General to grant a double dissolution on such a paltry Bill as that in connexion with which action has been taken by the Government, the people of Australia will not hold the Government blameless. I am confident that no better justification could be given to the electors for turning down the present occupants of the Treasury bench at the next election.
– We do not know what representations were made to the Governor-General in support of the request for a double dissolution.
– That will be another justification for turning down the present Government. What right have the members of any Government to plunge the country into enormous expense without informing the people of the reason for their action ? We have not asked for the information for the benefit of members of the Labour party, of the Senate, or of this Parliament, but for the benefit of the people who will have to foot the bill for the expense of the elections in a few weeks’ time. They should know why they are called upon to pay all this money. The people are asking for the reasons, and we have done our duty in the matter. In both branches of this Legislature we have urged the Government to furnish the information. We have petitioned the Governor-General himself, but at every step we have been met by the refusal, not of the GovernorGeneral, but of the Government. We have no right at the present time, at any rate, to deal with the Governor-General in this matter. He has followed the advice of his Ministers. A few months ago Australia was canvassed, and the members of the Labour party were accused of being Unificationists. Our opponents contended that if the referenda proposals were carried the result would be Unification. What does the destruction of the Senate mean but Unification ?
– The Senate is not destroyed yet.
– I point out to my honorable friend that the Senate will be absolutely destroyed if the action of the present Government is given effect to. If by some misadventure the present Government party is returned to power the Senate will be rendered absolutely useless. If by any means the people are misled, and, through carelessness or neglect, permit the present Government party to return to power, members of the Senate will never be so foolish or so stupid as to attempt to dot an “i” or cross a “ t “ in any Bill sent up from another place.
– Why not?
– Because the threat of a double dissolution will be held over their heads.
– The fear is that there may be a double dissolution? If a man is not prepared to be shot at he should not go to war.
– I am not pleading for mercy from any one. I am pointing out what the Government are responsible for, and what the result of the action of the Government will be upon the Senate in the future. If their action is upheld at the forthcoming elections the sooner the Senate is wiped out the better it will be for Australia, because there will then be one unnecessary source of expense removed. The smaller States came into the Federation only because they were given equal representation in this Chamber. They have been absolutely betrayed by the very men who for years have boasted that they were the bulwark of the Constitution - that they were here to uphold the rights of the small States against the aggression of the large ones. These gentlemen, who have professed to be the bulwark of the Constitution, have deprived the small States of . any shred of power which they possessed to resist encroachments by the larger States, even assuming that the exercise of such power was ever required in this Parliament. I say that a’ Federal compact was entered into between the various States, and, if that compact is to be broken, the question should be remitted to the people in a straightforward manner. I am perfectly confident that the electors are as well acquainted with the position that has arisen here as we are, and I am satisfied that when they are called upon to exercise their votes they will record against the present Administration a larger and more solid vote than has ever been recorded in the history of Australia. They will do so, and not because of the love which they bear the Labour party. I do not claim that the electors who will turn down the Government are whole-hearted believers in the Labour party, but I do maintain that they are firm believers in Australian freedom, who will vote in the way I have indicated in order that “their freedom as Australians may be maintained.
– In common with quite a number of members of this Parliament, I have come to the conclusion that the fight which has been waged here for some time past is now finished, and that’ the contest should be transferred with as little delay as possible to the constituencies. I am one of those who fully subscribe to the statement made by a prominent member of our party in another place, that the Constitution has been butchered. In my opinion, the action of the Cook Government, and His Excellency the GovernorGeneral’s acceptance of the advice which they tendered him, butchered not only the Constitution, but also the Senate. This Chamber has been -practically gib- betted, just as in the old days the corpses of criminals used to be hung at the crossroads as a deterrent to others who were likely to do wrong. But in the case of this Chamber there is a sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. When the fight is transferred to another arena, in view of what has been “done to strip this Chamber of almost every shred of its power, I am convinced that the action of the Government, coupled with their sins of omission and commission, will result in a glorious resurrection for the Senate.
– TEe Senate committed suicide.
– It did not commit suicide - the Government murdered it. The Senate exercised its right to make a small amendment in one Bill, and for so doing it has been executed. But, after all, it may prove that this Chamber is only in a state of suspended animation. I believe that the approaching election will result- in a majority of votes being recorded in favour of the Labour party in every State. It is rather significant that one of the newspapers in Tasmania which support the political party with which Senator Keating is associated recently published a leading article in which it urged the Liberal electors to exact a pledge from all Liberal candidates that whenever the interests of the Liberal parliamentary party conflict with those of Tasmania, the latter will be regarded as of paramount importance.
– Quite right.
– I mention this circumstance to show that the Liberal press of ‘Tasmania realizes the danger which is to be apprehended from the present position. If that position is upheld by the people in the small States - if they return a majority of Liberal senators there - it will mean that they acquiesce in the decision of the Government and of the Governor-General.
– And in the remarks of the Attorney-General.
– Yes. The Hobart Mercury recognises the position to such an extent that it has advised the electors to exact from Liberal candidates for the Senate a pledge that they will regard the interests of that State as of paramount importance whenever those interests conflict with the interests of the Liberal parliamentary party. I believe that His Excellency the. Governor-General in the recent crisis was placed in a most unfortunate position; but, while we may sympathize with him in that he was called upon to give such a crucial decision within a few hours of his landing in Australia, we can feel nothing but contempt for the Government, which, we believe, wrongly advised him as to the actual facts of the situation. That is the opinion which will find expression in every State at the coming election. I now wish to say a few words upon the question of the electoral rolls and of the danger which exists that they will not be in a thoroughly complete state when the approaching election has to be decided. Since last May, the efforts of the Government have been directed towards one end. They have professed themselves desirous of securing clean rolls, and clean rolls in their view evidently mean taking off the rolls the name of any man or woman about whose right to enrolment there is the slightest doubt. Their aim has not been to insure that every elector whose name has a right to be on the rolls shall be there. There is an old axiom in connexion with British justice which affirms that it is better that ninety-nine guilty men should escape the consequences of their guilt than that one innocent person should be punished. The Government have not acted upon that axiom in connexion with our electoral rolls. They should have declared that it is better that ninety-nine names should be duplicated on the rolls than that the name of one elector who has a right tff vote should not be there. Where is the grave danger which arises from the duplication which has been alleged? What harm could result from the duplication which was alleged to have occurred at the last elections ? If an elector votes twice, he risks the penalty which is prescribed by law. From Sydney, yesterday, news was re- “ceived, which was published in last night’s Melbourne Herald - most significant news - in view of all the allegations that have been made concerning the enormous number of duplications at the last election. The telegram in question states -
The charges that there are wholesale duplications on the Federal electoral rolls and that the rolls were stuffed for the last elections are not accepted by the police.
No more exhaustive scrutiny of the old enrolments is possible than that which the police have conducted in order to provide the electoral office with information for the compilation of the new rolls. House-to-house visits have been made, and the facts thus obtained first-hand have been used for comparison with the old enrolments. The work in the North Sydney and Parramatta electorates has been finished as far as the police are concerned. In two subdivisions of North Sydney, covering 1.6,000 enrolments, only eight duplications were discovered, and the collectors state that this would be a fair average for the whole division. Even in those cases the addresses varied. In two subdivisions of the Parramatta division there were ten duplications in 5,000. There was one grave instance, in which a man was enrolled three times, his name being spelt with one letter different each time.
That is a direct answer to the statements which have been made in this Chamber over and over again by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that the action of the Government has been rendered necessary because of the enormous number of duplications on the rolls. If there be any truth in the paragraph which I have just quoted, it absolutely disproves the charge that an enormous number of duplications occurred. According to their own admissions, the object of the Government has been to cleanse the rolls, and their idea of effecting their purpose has been to remove from them the names of all persons concerning whose bona fides there existed the slightest doubt. Even if duplications did occur, they constitute no danger to the electoral purity of Australia, because there is not one person in 10,000 who would risk the penalty imposed by the law by voting twice. In spite of the work of detectives appointed by the Ministry for the purpose, -how many cases of dual voting have been traced to their source? There is just one other matter upon which I wish to make a few observations - a matter of very grave importance to the Stats of Tasmania. It will be recollected that last year, when a contract was being entered into for the conveyance of mails between Tasmania and the mainland, the matter was the subject of considerable discussion in this Chamber. A good many of us, who do not pose as prophets, then declared our belief that in a very short time the Shipping Combine which controls that service would make a request to the PostmasterGeneral that it should be allowed to charge increased fares and freights. According to this morning’s papers that request has been made to the PostmasterGeneral.
– Yesterday. The honorable senator asks that question as if he doubted my word.
– I asked the PostmasterGeneral to-day, and he said he knew nothing about it.
– The PostmasterGeneral is distinctly reported in the press this morning to have said yesterday that he had received a request from the company. Mr. Val. Johnson, the manager of the company in Melbourne, was interviewed by the press yesterday, and would give no information except to say that in a few days they would know the reasons advanced by the company why the request should be granted.
– Will you say definitely that the Postmaster-General was asked yesterday?
– I have already made the definite statement that I read in this morning’s papers an answer given by the Postmaster-General to the effect that a request had been made to him, and that it was obviously unfair to expect him to give an answer there and then on the floor of the House as to what his reply would be. The Government have blundered in connexion with the fixing up of the mail arrangements between Tasmania and the mainland. It is too late to go into details, but this was forecast twelve months ago. Senator Keating the other day took credit to himself for being the author of the clause in the agreement, which requires the sanction of the Postmaster-General to any increase in freights and fares, and the honorable senator’s claim was upheld by Senator McColl. I do not object to Senator Keating taking credit for it, if he was the author of the clause.
– He wrote to the Government.
– That showed his acumen and foresight, and proved that he was acting in the interests of Tasmania, but he might give other Tasmanian members a certain amount of credit for being very much alive on the question, seeing that it was discussed here so often last year. It is very doubtful whether any good will come out of the clause. I am going to prophesy that no sanction will be given by the Postmaster-General to an increase in fares and freights before the election, but the danger is that it may be given afterwards.
– Will you be fair, honorable, and straight, and remember that I said I had written to the PostmasterGeneral asking for the inclusion of a clause of that character in the contract?
– I have already said so. In party fighting, I do not think the honorable senator and I have found each other anything hut fair and straight. I do not think the PostmasterGeneral’s sanction will be given, even after the election, with Senator Clemons’ concurrence, but, after all, his is only one voice in the Cabinet, and I am very much afraid that if the present Ministry come back to power after the election the sanction will be given, because the PostmasterGeneral will say, “ Sufficient reasons are advanced by the combine to justify the Government in allowing the increase to take place.” If that sort of thing is to happen, it would be better, in the interests of the Tasmanian producers, who depend entirely on the combine for the carriage of their stuff to the mainland, and in the interests of every individual in Tasmania who is dependent on the combine whenever he wants to travel to the mainland, to cancel the contract altogether, and let us see if we cannot get a better arrangement, if not with the combine, with some other company, or let the Government take its courage in its hands and institute a State-owned line of steamers. I also accuse the Government of blundering in connexion with the Northern Territory. All it has done there has been to undo as far as it could what the previous Administration did. Apparently it is playing into the hands of big private enterprises instead of pushing on with State or Commonwealth activities there. We have another crop of blunders facing us in Papua. In yesterday’s papers we read the news of a massacre of women and children made in mistake by native police. If the report is correct, that trouble occurred because the Administrator, or the man who ought to have been in charge of the native police there, instead of attending to his duties, is following up Sir Rupert Clarke’s expedition, which is apparently of greater importance to Australia than the care of the natives. One could go on reciting blunder after blunder made during the last twelve months by the Government in its administration of the affairs nf Australia. Its whole programme has been one of blunder, with no legislative work and absolute Ministerial incapacity. It came into power heralded as a combination of heaven-born geniuses in finance. All its press organs announced that it was going to put the finances once more upon a sound footing. The net result up to date has been that, while its predecessors in office saved about £100,000 a month towards a surplus for the people, this Government has gone to the bad at the rate of about £150,000 a month. That is, it has been a worse financier by about £250,000 a month than its predecessor. If that is the type of heavenborn financier produced by the other side, I am very glad that those who consider themselves financiers in the Labour party were born on earth. Another question which loomed largely a year ago in the programme of the Ministerial party was a general Commonwealth insurance scheme, but it never saw the light of day in either House. It was to include pensions for widows and orphans, but we have had no chance to discuss it, because all the efforts of the Government have been directed towards obtaining a double dissolution. It would have been easy for the Government at the coming election to ask the people to make the necessary alteration in the Constitution, if any alteration is necessary, to allow the new Parliament to extend the pension system to widows and orphans, but it has absolutely refused to do so. I asked the Leader of the Government the other day, seeing that this was a non-party question, whether, if a Bill of one clause for that purpose went through the Senate, he would promise on behalf of the Government an opportunity for its consideration in another place before Parliament was dissolved. I pointed out that it would bind Parliament to nothing, and would merely give the people an opportunity to express an opinion on the question, but Senator Millen absolutely refused to do so. That is another of the promises made prior to the last election by the Cook Government that has gone by the board. If our opponents in the coming fight declare themselves in favour of extending the pension system to embrace widows and orphans, the people will know how much reliance to place on their protestations, because the Government has refused to give them a chance to make in the Constitution any alteration that may be necessary for the purpose. I may say here that there is a divergence of legal opinion on the question of whether an alteration of the Constitution is required. The Government for two or three years asserted that there was no Meat or Beef Trust operating in Australia. It charged the Labour party at the last election with raising a needless scare, and creating a bogy, by saying that the Beef Trust had begun operations here. In this matter, again, its assertions have been proved to be wrong, and our statements right. The action of the Government in appointing a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales as a Commission to inquire into the operations of the alleged Beef Trust clearly proves that there is such a body here. The evidence, so far as it has been published, confirms the fact, and is causing very grave doubts in the minds of many who hitherto did not believe there
Was a Beef Trust here as to whether it Will not prove a serious menace to the people in the very near future. Will Senator Gould, Senator Millen, Senator Clemons, and Senator Keating assert that there is no body Or organization associated with the Beef Trust of America operating in Australia to-day, and that the danger to tho public is not grave? The Government is going to appeal, as it did twelve months ago, to the people of Australia on a number of issues. One issue will be: “Here is a party which denied to sick women a postal vote; here is the iniquitous party which says that it is the women’s friend, but which denied to women in maternity, the sick and the invalid, a postal vote.” That statement will be just as wrong as many other statements that will be made during the elections, and that were made at the elections a year ago.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Facts- speak more strongly than words.
– The Labour party wants to give to the invalids of Australia a postal vote. In the Senate last year this party tried to restore the postal vote to invalids. I am not going to say whether this party was right or wrong - it may have been wrong - in taking the postal vote away from invalids. But it only took that course because it believed that the postal vote was subject to a great deal of corruption. It made an honest attempt to restore the postal vote and surround it with such a safeguard as it had not before.
– It was an unworkable safeguard.
– Whether the safeguard was unworkable or not the Government never attempted to put anything in its place. It said, “ We want the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill “ - that meant the restoration of the postal vote exactly as it was before it was repealed - “ the Senate has no right to alter the measure by one line.” That is what the Government said last year. When we returned the Postal Voting Restoration Bill with an amendment the Government did not attempt to alter the amendment so as to make the Bill workable. Ministers were glad that we had made an amendment in the Bill. Any kind of amendment would have been said by them to be unworkable, because their sole object in sending the Bill up here was that the Senate might reject it or make an amendment. They knew that we would make an amendment, and no matter what kind of amendment was made here it would not have been accepted by the other House, because the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. This year the Government brought the measure forward in its original form in the House of Representatives, and again it refused the efforts of our party to surround the measure with a workable safeguard. The Government absolutely refused to listen to any suggestion to safeguard the postal vote. The Labour party said to the Government in another place: “We will give you the postal vote for the sick and the invalid, but let us put a reasonable safeguard round it.” Ministers, however, would not accept our suggestion. They did not send the Bill up here a second time, because they were glad that they would have the additional cry to take to the electors, “ Here is the party which refused to the sick and the invalid of Australia a postal vote.” That cry is not going to have as much effect on this occasion as it did on the last occasion. When the people have the chance, as they will have in the course of a few weeks, of declaring which is the better party to govern Australia, and which is the party that wants to see the Constitution not torn to shreds, but remain as it is until an honorable attempt is made to amend it in a straightforward way; when the people are asked to decide between the two parties, I am satisfied as to which party they will decide in favour of, and it will not be the party sitting on the Government benches to-day.
– I am sorry that I cannot agree altogether with some of the remarks which have been made by honorable senators on this side with reference to what they are pleased to term the dying condition of the Senate. It was never so alive as it is at the present moment. To my way of thinking the Senate has rendered to the people of Australia one of the most useful services that were ever given to the people by a political party. It has driven the Cook Government out of power, and compelled that Government to go before its masters, the people. But for the existence of the Senate I have not the slightest doubt that the Cook Government would have hung on indefinitely with its slender majority of one, and instead of limiting its legislative aspirations to such minor matters as the restoration of the postal vote and the abolition of preference to unionists, it would have attacked some of the more important measures passed by previous Administrations. For that reason I think that the Senate at the present juncture, instead of being in a dying condition, is a very live institution, and has’ rendered most excellent service to the people. The present situation is difficult enough, I think, to warrant the close and careful attention of members of the Senate, no matter with what political party they are associated. With regard to our finances, notwithstanding the clumsy arithmetic of the Treasurer, we find that during the financial year which is just ending our expenditure has very largely exceeded our income. That is not by any means a healthy position. The expenditure of nations ought to be regulated very largely by the wholesome principle which governs the expenditure of private individuals. Except on the rarest occasions, and in cases of particular emergency, the ex’penditure should not exceed the income. But one of the worst features in connexion with the present situation is the deliberate attempt made by the Government and by its Treasurer to hide the fact that we were -outrunning the constable. Speaking in New South Wales a few days ago the Prime Minister claimed that his Government, after spending very much more than the last Government had spent, still had a surplus of about £1,000,000. As a matter of fact the deficiency on the estimated revenue and expenditure for the current financial year amounts to £2,653,000; that is to say, we have gone that sum to the bad. I think it will be interesting if I quote the figures of revenue and expenditure from the Treasurer’s Estimates for the current year. The estimated revenue was £21,462,000, while the estimated expenditure was £24,115,223, thus making the expenditure greater than the revenue by £2,653,223. It seems to me that the time has come when we ought to take stock of our position. I have pointed out here times without number that we are rapidly approaching a period of financial difficulty. I see that we are getting nearer and nearer that position every day. . We are getting, so to speak, in the rapids, and, if we are not careful, before we know where w© are we will be drawn into the whirlpool. Let us look at the principal sources of revenue. From Customs and Excise taxation we derive £14,900,000, and from the land tax £1,400,000, making a total of £16,100,000. Honorable senators will observe that 90 per cent, of the taxation is taken from the pockets of the poorest people in the Commonwealth by means of Customs and Excise duties, while only 10 per cent.- that is the £1,400,000 - is taken from the comparatively rich people in the Commonwealth. I think that the force of my remark will be apparent to every honorable senator, when I state that no person is subject to the land-value tax the unimproved value of whose property does not amount to £5,000. A person in possession of unimproved property valued at that sum cannot be said to be a poor person. As a matter of fact, those individuals who are fortunate enough to possess property valued at from £5,000 up to hundreds of thousands of pounds cannot be said to be within the poverty line; in fact, they are very far removed from it, and instead of paying only a tenth of the taxation levied in the Commonwealth, to my mind they ought to pay a very much larger proportion. As I have pointed out, 90 per cent, of our taxation is dragged out of the pockets of the poor; is taken off the tables of the poorest of our people. We tax the clothing of our women and children; in fact, we tax everything they eat, or drink, or wear to keep up our system of government, and while we do that we allow the rich people in our midst to escape with comparatively light taxation. I hope that if the Labour party is ever returned to power again, as I believe it will be in the very near future, it will see that our Customs and Excise revenue is reduced, and that our land value taxation is very largely increased; in other words, that it will take some of the burden off the backs of the poor, and place it on the broad, strong shoulders of the rich. We derive from taxation, as I have pointed out, £16,100,000. From the Post and Telegraph Department the estimated revenue is £4,548,000, and from odds and ends £814,000, making a grand total of £21,462,000. Let us see how this money is spent. Taking the principal items of expenditure, the States get £6,300,000. I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to this very important fact, that not only do we collect revenue for our own expenditure, but we are taxgatherers for the State Governments. I think it must be evident to every one that if the State Governments get such a large sum as £6,300,000 per annum from the Commonwealth Government they will be saved the necessity, to a large extent, of raising the necessary revenue for carrying on their own administration. I think the time is near at hand when State finance and Commonwealth finance should be distinct and separate, when the States will get no subsidy from the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth will be in no way bound to raise money for the States. That is all I wish to say on that point at the present time. The system is unsatisfactory, and ought not to be continued after the end of the ten years’ period for which the present arrangement has been made. I find that we spend £5,750,000 a year on defence. I have said before, and now repeat, that this sum is far too large for a small country like Australia. If the money were usefully spent, my objection *to it would not be so great; but I consider that a very large proportion of this huge sum of nearly £6,000,000 is expended without adding one iota to the effective defence of the Commonwealth.
– It is not spent; it is frittered away.
– The honorable senator can call it by whatever name he pleases. My opinion is now, and has been for a considerable length of time, that the money spent upon our Fleet might just as well be thrown into the ocean. We are not in a position in Australia to provide an effective defence upon the sea, and anything short of an effective defence is useless.
– It is worse than no defence at all.
– I will not say that; but I will say that the money spent in this way might well be profitably utilized in some other way. The people of Australia are in this position, and the sooner they recognise it the better : They are not able, on account of the small population of the country, to put a Fleet upon the waters able to cope with the Fleet of any Power likely to assail this country. That is the conclusion I have arrived at. Any money spent on Dreadnoughts, or other war-ships, might as well be thrown into the ocean, since our ships could be swept from the sea in twentyfour hours by the ships of any great Power. We cannot provide defence at sea and defence on -land as well. That is what we are attempting to do now, and by trying to achieve the impossible, we are doing nothing effectively. We have not an effective Fleet, and we have not an effective land force. Our circumstances are such as to make it impossible for us to have both, but we might have one.
– The first line of defence is sea defence.
– Undoubtedly; and if we had nearly 50,000,000 of people, as Great Britain has, and endless money to handle, I should say by all means let us have a Fleet which will make Australia impregnable. But we cannot do that. We might as well try to scale the stars as to put a Fleet upon our seas sufficient to repel the attacks of possible invaders. The thing cannot be done; therefore, why attempt it? The folly of doing so is that by attempting to put a Fleet upon the sea, we are neglecting the one system of defence which we are in a position to provide; that is, land defence. If, instead of spending £6,000,000 on sea defence, which is not effective, we spent that money on shore defence, in training our youths and young men, providing armaments for them, we might put ourselves in such a position as would enable us to repel any invader. We might provide for the security of Australia in the most effective fashion. If the people of other countries knew that we had hundreds and thousands, not only of youths and young men from fourteen to twenty-six years of age, but also of the flower of our community, men from twenty-six to thirty-five years of age, in addition, they would be very careful about attacking us. What is our position with regard to armaments and ammunition? I believe that if we were attacked to-morrow, and found it necessary to call out our troops, we should find that there were no arms for them, or comparatively few; that our ammunition was very scarce, and that in every sense of the term we were unprepared for the great business of war. If we abandoned the foolish Navy scheme, and concentrated our efforts upon the establishment of an effective land force, we could provide for every contingency. It is quite within our power to make our land defence so complete and effective that any foreign power, knowing of it, would not care to attack us. We spent on pensions and maternity allowance £3,270,000. I know that if the Fusion Government dared, they would check this item of expenditure. The leading spirit of “the Government, the great central sun round which the minor planets revolve, namely, the Attorney-General, has declared in the strongest possible terms that he disapproves of the maternity allowance, and that we are pauperizing our old people by paying them old-age pensions. Fortunately for the people of Australia, the Attorney-General has not been able to get his way so far. But whilst the honorable gentleman is honest and aboveboard, we know that the general feeling amongst members of the Government party is against these payments. I can remember when the old-age pension proposal was passing through the Senate, the criticism that was levelled at it by the Conservative?, Liberals, or Fusionists at that time. They did everything they could to block -its acceptance. They poured ridicule upon it, and said that we would pauperize the people of Australia, and a whole lot of other nice things. But for a wholesome fear of the electors, which was ever before their eyes, I believe they would have knocked out the proposal at the earliest opportunity. The maternity allowance is a much later matter. We can well remember how honorable senators who at that time sat upon these benches, and some of whom sit here no more, said that the maternity allowance would be a premium on vice and encouragement to all sorts’ of vicious misbehaviour and habits. Knowing these things, we must come to the conclusion that if the present Government had their way both the payments would disappear from our national balance- sheet. The expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department brings the total expenditure of the Commonwealth up to £24,000,000 for the year. That is not a healthy state of affairs at all. Our income should be greater than our expenditure.
– They should balance, at any rate.
– They should balance, at least. The Government, and any Government that may follow them immediately, must face the position that either expenditure must be reduced or income must be increased. I have suggested one direction in which expenditure might be somewhat reduced - that is in connexion with the naval arm of defence. I cannot see the possibility of reducing expenditure in any other direction. I do not think that the present Government would dare, if they were given a further lease of power, to interfere with either the maternity allowance or the oldage pensions. I am sure that the Labour Government we are going to have in the near future would not do so. If there is no other item but that of naval defence upon which a saving can be made, we are inevitably faced with the necessity of increasing taxation. The present Government are opposed to any step in that direction. I am, personally, in favour of increased taxation. I say that, instead of deriving £1,400,000 a year from the rich land-owners of Australia, the men or institutions who own rich city lands and large country areas, we should be getting a very much larger sum from them.. I hope that in the near future we shall have a Government in power who will do the right thing, and get a much more substantial share of the national income from that source than the present Government have derived from it. The present Treasurer, I believe, is .prepared to borrow for defence. I hope that no borrowing will ever take place for that purpose. We ought to be able to pay for the defence of the country out of current revenue. Borrowing for defence simply means lavish, extravagant, and unwise expenditure. I trust that nothing of that kind will be attempted. We hear a great deal about the cost of living, and I should have liked very much to go into the question and’ present it in, perhaps, a somewhat unaccustomed light in the Senate, but the time at my disposal is very limited. While wages are going up, the cost of living keeps mounting with the increase of wages step by step. We are in the hands of a ruthless combination of trusts and combines. We have the Land Trust, the Sugar Trust, the Meat Trust, and dozens of other trusts and combines, and the members of the present Government are as well aware of that fact as are the members of the Opposition. Yet not only will they do nothing to interfere Avith the ravages of these combines, but they refuse an application by the Senate to submit the Referenda Bills to the people at the coming election. Why?
– Because they are afraid to trust the people.
– They are not only afraid to trust the people, but they are afraid of offending the combines.
– We trusted the people twice, and they turned the proposals down.
– My reply to the honorable senator is that we should trust them a third time, and they may turn those proposals up. That is what the honorable senator and his party fear. These trusts and combines - and the Land Trust is the most serious of them all - are robbing the people of this continent. The party which is represented on the Treasury benches by Senator McColl and Senator Oakes lives and moves and has its being through these trusts and combines. It is the trusts which find the sinews of war for the political party opposite. They are the breath of its life and the bone of its body. No wonder that the Government refuse to send the Referenda Bills to the people. No wonder they advised His Excellency the GovernorGeneral not to exercise his prerogative to submit those measures to the electors. They could have done what we asked without adding very much to the expense of the elections. The expense of conducting an election alone will be almost as much as that of conducting an election and Referenda combined. That being so, there can be only one reason for their action, namely, their allegiance to the trusts. It appears to me that the land question is at the root of continued increase in the cost of living. The price of meat is daily going up, as everybody Knows to his or her cost. What is the position in all the States? While hundreds of men are anxious to take part in the work of producing meat only tens can get the opportunity of doing so. We have an artificially created scarcity of land in Australia, which is crippling this continent from end to end. The present Government will do nothing to alter the situation. An effective land values tax would do more to reduce the cost of living in a couple of years than would any other measure which could be adopted by this Parliament. But honorable senators opposite will not lift a little finger to assist in that direction. If the Labour party again assume office within the next few months I trust that .they will do something. As the time for closing my remarks has now arrived, I will not deal with any other matters. I had intended to address myself to several other questions, but as I cannot do them justice in the period at my disposal I must abandon the attempt.
.- There seems to be an anxiety on the part of some honorable senators to terminate this discussion upon the allocation of some £3,000,000 of public money. We are asked, within a very few minutes, and without any explanation of the various items, to hand over this money holus bolus to the Government in order that we may at once get to the country. I hold that there is nothing inconsistent in honorable senators, who are willing to meet the Fusion party before the electors of Australia, fully criticising this Bill just as they are expected to do by their constituents. By discharging that duty they will not leave themselves open to the miserable charge which is so frequently hurled at them by the Fusion party and its hireling press, that they are seeking to extend the work of this Parliament by another day or two in order that they may draw another week’s salary. Personally, I do not care how much that criticism is hurled at me. It will not deter me from doing what I believe to be my duty. But, in conjunction with other honorable senators, I suppose that I shall have to bow to the inevitable and proceed to grant Supply in order that the Government may enter upon the longest holiday that a Conservative Ministry have enjoyed since the inception of Federation. I make the bold prophecy that when the results of the approaching election are known, those honorable gentlemen who have been clamouring for this double dissolution will have got more than they bargained for. In this connexion I am reminded of a story which had its origin in one of the Western States of America. There was in a mining camp a big Yankee who said that he would fight anybody in that camp. Nobody took any notice of him. Then he said, “I will fight anybody in the district.” Still nobody noticed him. Finally he said, “I will fight any man in this State.” Then a young fellow, who was more jealous of the reputation of his State than he was of that of the camp, accepted the challenge. The boaster, after he had been well thrashed, and when he was able to articulate intelligibly, remarked, as he was leaving the camp in disgrace, “ Before I go I want to make an admission. It is that in my last challenge I ‘kivered’ ‘ too much territory.” In the demand of the present Government for a double dissolution they will discover, when the numbers go up, that they, too, “ ‘kivered’ too much territory.” As a parting shot at the Minister of Defence, I wish to say that during the past month he has not acquitted himself too capably. His exhibition last night was, perhaps, worthy of his general demeanour and of the arguments which he usually presents to this Senate. He went to no little trouble to entirely misrepresent the position which led up to the closing down of the works at Cockatoo Island and to its purchase from the Government of New South Wales. The scare attitude which he adopted on that occasion was adopted merely for the purpose of inducing the people of Australia to believe that his predecessor in office was not as careful of the lives and limbs of those employed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard as was this great man, Senator Millen. He immediately gave instructions that the dockyard should be closed down, and that a great number of workmen should be thrown out of employment, on the ground that the boilers used there were dangerous to human life. He has been challenged again and again to support that statement with facts, but he has utterly failed “to do so. Not only has he failed to support it with proof, but in the face of incontrovertible facts he has repeated his charge that the boilers were unsafe, and that their use subjected the employes to no little danger. Now, some of the men, who are most skilled in connexion with the working of boilers, men who have been engaged in that work all their lives, stated in evidence before the Select Committee which inquired into this matter that these boilers were not in any sense dangerous, and that the action of the Minister in closing the works was absolutely unwarranted. In this connexion I propose to read the evidence of a man who is known in the mechanical world from one end of New South Wales to the other, and whose opinion will not for a moment be contested. I refer to Mr. Kidd, who was one of the members of the advisory committee when Cockatoo Island was under the control of the New South Wales Government. He was examined by the Committee as follows : -
By Senator Maughan. - As a professional man of many years’ standing, you think that the action taken by the Naval Board was, under the circumstances, somewhat unnecessary? - Yes. Had they apprehended any difficulty, they could have got one boiler taken off at a time, and quietly examined the whole lot.
Do you not think there was any occasion to discharge men, and reduce the working power of the plant?- -Certainly not.
By the Chairman. - Do you not think there was danger to life? - No.
By Senator Rae. - You were a member of the committee of management? - Yes, for about eighteen months.
Was that up to the termination of the State ownership? - We handed over control at the end of February last.
Are you aware that the responsible Minister is reported to have said in Parliament that there was only one-sixteenth of an inch between the men and hell, or something of that, sort? - I saw something of that in the newspaper.
Do you think there was any justification forthat? - I do not think there was any justification at all. I have not seen the boilers personally, but to talk about a 1-1 6th of an inch thickness is taking a liberty with truth.
Then you think it was a kind of panicadministration that suddenly closed the works, down? - Certainly; in fact, I cannot understand Mr. Julius making a report on theboilers without a personal examination. Noengineer of experience trusts very seriously totesting a boiler. It may stand a test, and,, after that, meet with an accident. If you: make a personal examination, you can make a calculation, and test it afterwards. It is. usual to test boilers when they have been in, use at 25 or 50 per cent, above the usual pressure.
This evidence shows that the Minister of: Defence, who closed down the works at. a moment’s notice, and threw several, hundreds of men out of work, acted upon the report of a gentleman who had never seen one boiler at Cockatoo Island.
Notwithstanding the action of the Minister, the fact remains that 85 per cent, of the machinery then in use on the island is still employed there, and the men for whose safety he showed such solicitude are still exposed to the dangers which he said they were exposed to when he closed down the works to protect them. In order to score again off his predecessor, who had set him a standard in the Department which he must find it very difficult to maintain, the Minister seeks to make out that the purchase of Cockatoo Island by the Commonwealth. Government from the State Government was a very bad transaction indeed for the Commonwealth. The Advisory Committee, in tendering to Mr. Arthur Griffiths, the then Director-General of Works in New South Wales, their report signed by Mr. Keele, Mr. Kidd, Mr. Houghton, Mr. De Burgh, and Mr. A. E. Cutler, who subsequently became manager, said -
With regard to the price to bc paid by the Commonwealth Government for the dockyards, this was, as already stated, determined by mutual agreement. The Committee would point out that the establishment has a high commercial value, not only on account of its situation, but also in view of the fact that’ it contains the finest dock in Australia, apart from its value as a naval construction yard; and, so far from considering the price to be paid excessive, the Committee consider that this State made a sacrifice in the interests of the Commonwealth in agreeing to the transfer under the terms arranged.
That was the opinion of the committee of management under whose control the yard had been placed for years, and who were thoroughly conversant with it. Yet the Minister has said again and again that it was a wretched bargain for the Commonwealth, and that the late Government ought not to have entered into it. If the Minister thinks it is a bad bargain, and altogether unnecessary as part of the scheme for the development of the Australian Navy, the Government could, as Senator - Pearce has told them, get the price back at any moment from the State Government. The facts that I have stated are well known to the Minister, but when questioned on the point this morning by Senator Pearce he absolutely declined to give the information which the Senate knows very well has been in his possession ever since he took office. I hope that Senator Pearce will compel the Minister to give that information, and so do him only bare justice, before we allow the business to come to a conclusion. The Minister of Defence ought to be the last to offer criticism .of the character that he frequently levels at. his predecessor, in view of the unholy bungle in connexion with the Naval Board for which he must be held responsible. This mighty administrator, when he came into office, came to the conclusion that the short way to bring about a ‘ reform of that useless institution - because he has admitted that it is useless - was to dismiss, in a contemptible manner, the most useful member of the Board, in the person of Captain Hughes Onslow. He was satisfied that when that gentleman, whom he termed the stormy petrel, was removed from the Board everything would go on swimmingly, and the other members work together with the greatest harmony, endeavouring, with one accord, to give effect to the policy of this Parliament and the country in respect to its naval establishment. I undertake to say that members of this Parliament have read, with a” great deal of amazement, an article that appeared in the Age of 18th June, giving a fairly full account of the present position of the Board, and the relations of its individual members. After twelve months under the control of this mighty genius, Senator Millen, the Board is just as far from rendering .Australia any useful services as it was when he came into office. Yet he is going to allow this Parliament to close without giving it some assurance that he, as Minister of Defence, will use his authority to compel the members of the Board to do the work which they were appointed to do, or send them about their business, as he sent Captain Onslow, who deserved it less than several members on the Board do at the present time. In view of what has taken place, it is nothing short of impertinence for the Minister to accuse Senator Pearce of not knowing his business when hie was in charge of the Department for three’ years. I can hardly understand Senator Pearce tolerating the kind of criticism, in this connexion, that the Minister of Defence is so often in the habit of levelling at him. I do not know whether honorable senators fully realize the condition of the Naval Board, and understand that several of its members are not on speaking terms because one does not part his hair in the middle and the other fellow does not part his hair correctly on the side. There are all kinds of petty disagreements amongst the members of the Board,and the consequence is that none of the Naval business of Australia is attended to’. If we had a statement from the Minister of Defence to-day it would be that the business which was relegated to the Board to deal with is piled up feet high, and it is likely to be so until there is a change in administration. I propose to quote a statement from an article to make honorable senators realize the farcical part which the so-called Naval Board, under this genius of an administrator, occupies at the present time.. It is a disgrace to the. Minister of Defence, as well as to. the people of Australia, that such a condition of things has been tolerated so long, or that it should be tolerated for one moment longer. The article reads -
It has long been known, and was pointed out in the Age many weeks since, that the administration at the’ Navy Office has been in asad state -
That is a very mild statement - and that, far from the air being cleared, as the Minister of Defence said it was, by the dismissal of Captain Hughes Onslow, the second naval member, it has still remained in that stifling state that has brought the Department almost to a standstill. Captain Clarkson some months ago, after a futile effort to come to some agreement at a board meeting at the Navy Office, gathered up his papers and left the room with the phrase on his lips, “It’s only history repeating itself.” Ho referred to the attitude that was beingadopted by Admiral
Creswell and the Naval Secretary, in which matters directly affecting the Department over which Captain Clarkson had control were almost taken out of his hands. One of the strongest stands taken by Captain Hughes Onslow was on this very point.Rear-Admiral Creswell, as first naval member, disagreed with Captain Onslow. They did not “ speak “ for months. The Board took sides, and when Senator Millen became Minister of Defence he found that the Board was at a deadlock. Only the most urgent matters were being dealt with. In fact, the office was going on automatically.
That is precisely what it is doing today
To cure this state of affairs, the Minister removed Captain Onslow. But instead of relieving the strain, it only revealed how positively unworkable the Board had become. RearAdmiral Creswell had already quarrelled with Captain Clarkson, and up till the present time it is a matter of comment in naval circles that, except when officially called upon to do so, these two officers never address one another. That it is impossible for the Board to carry on in such circumstances is plain. The Minister, after a delay for which he has put forward no legitimate excuse, appointed; as second naval member Captain Gordon Smith. His attitude on the Board has been one of peace at all costs. Meanwhile the secretary, Mr. Manisty, was allowed to depart, and only after many weeks his successor was appointed. The Minister has still to appoint a finance member.So mutters muddle along.
As the Minister of Defence, who is so fond of criticising other people, does not feel disposed to sit here and listen to further remarks of mine on this particular point, I will pass on with the expression of this hope: that when the Labour party returns to power his successor will take the earliest possible opportunity of ending matters as they now exist on the Board, and placing its members in a position where they will render some useful services to the people of Australia. The present Government was going to create a revolution in the system of doing the work immediately under the control of the Commonwealth by. substituting the contract system for the day-labour system, and so save thousands of pounds to Australia.. How far has the contract system been resorted to? With the exception of the fat contract which was given to one of their friends, Mr. Teesdale Smith, no contracts.of any note have been let. The extent to which the Government has relinquished the day-labour system can be easily gauged. When the Labour Government left office the Commonwealth had acquired plant to the value of £65,000. If the present Government was honest in its desire, or active in its determination to end the day-labour system, this plant would be thrown out of use, The difference between the value of the plant acquired and the value of the plant in use will show to what extent the Government has relinquished that system. It will interest honorable senators to know that only £454 worth of this plant is idle to-day. That goes to show to what extent the Government is earnest in its declaration and its faith in the contract system as opposed to the day-labour system. I desire to refer to another matter which, perhaps, Senator McColl will say is a pet complaint with me. I regret that the Government, after dilly-dallying and misleading the people of King Island, is going out of office without having made a single effort to place them in wireless communication with the mainland or Tasmania. Six months ago, when I asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council if he would shake up the Department, he promised to do so. Whether he made an attempt or not I, of course, do not know, but the. fact still remains that nothing has been done, and the people of King Island are just as far off getting that consideration to-day as they were when this question was first brought under the notice of the Government. It is not at all creditable, when we remember the promptness with which wireless was established on Flinders Island, and. without imposing any condition that the people on that island should make a contribution to the cost of the erection and the maintenance of the plant. I ask, in the name of all that is reasonable, why the Government seek to impose such a condition on the people of King Island ? If the Government are not in earnest in their expressed desire to deal fairly in this matter, they ought to have the decency to say so; but we are as far off from any definite information as ever we were. The Government have not the courage to tackle the question and provide the communication so urgently required, nor have they the courage to admit that they do not intend to do so. If the people of King Island were satisfied that no assistance can be expected from the present Government, they, no doubt, would make some effort on their own account to get in closer touch with Tasmania and the mainland. Evidently they must look to a future Government to give them that communication for which they have been pleading for years; and this is certainly a matter that will early occupy the attention of the next Parliament. There are several other matters I should like to touch on, but I refrain, because I know that a number of honorable senators are anxious to catch the Inter-State trains. There is, for instance, the Public Service Commissioner and the Public Service examinations, to whichsome reference ought to be made; but these matters, I suppose, must be left to a future Parliament. Probably I shall not be here when the various items are under consideration; but I hope that my colleagues from Tasmania will not permit the neglect of King Island to pass without protest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1, 3 and 4 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Steamship Service: Port Adelaide and Darwin - Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Gratuity to Brigadier General Gordon - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Alleged Victimization of Union Officials - Electoralrolls: Seamen - Post and Telegraph Department: Linemen’s Award.
.- I should like some information regarding the item of £750 for a subsidy for a steam-ship service between Port Adelaide and Darwin. I do not know the exact conditions under which the subsidy is granted; and as this is a matter in. which I take a certain amount of interest, 1 hope the Minister is able to give us some information.
– I am not very well versed in this particular matter, though I am under the impression, and I think I am right, that the subsidy is paid in respect of the boat which makes occasional trips for the purpose of conveying mails between these two places.
– I desire to repeat the question that I asked this morning. Is it not a fact that when the late Government took over Cockatoo Island Dockyard, the Department of Home Affairs was requested, before the final taking over, to obtain a valuation of the property and plant, and that Colonel Miller, assisted by other officers, prepared a valuation, and that it was upon that valuation, in which Colonel Miller acted in co-operation with the Director-General of Public Works in New South Wales, that the dockyard was taken over? Further,is it not a fact that Colonel Miller is the officer who also valued the whole of the transferred properties, and that it was upon his valuation the properties were taken over by the Commonwealth?
– The information I have obtained is that Colonel Miller acted for the Commonwealth in the valuation of Cockatoo Island, and that he was assisted by Commander Barnes, Engineer Clarke, and Mr. Donovan; and that Colonel Miller also acted for the Commonwealth in the taking over of the transferred properties, when he was assisted by the Surveyor-General, Mr.
Scrivener; Colonel Owen, the DirectorGeneral of Works; and Mr., or Captain, Murdoch, the Chief Architect.
.- I would like some information in regard to the provision of £1,200 for a gratuity to Brigadier-General Gordon on his retirement. I am not asking for this, information in any carping spirit, but I am sure the public would like to know what were the terms of Brigadier-General Gordon’s retirement, and whether he was entitled to any pension or retiring allowance. Under what provision is this gratuity granted?
– I say, with a great deal of regret, that there is no provision in our Defence Act, or in any other Act, under which officers who may serve the whole of their lives in the Defence Forces become entitled to receive any retiring allowance or gratuity on leaving the service. I am not quite certain what length of service BrigadierGeneral Gordon had - I believe that it was between thirty and forty years - but in the term of my predecessor the retiring age was lowered by two years for officers holding the rank that BrigadierGeneral Gordon held, thus taking away from him two years of service to which ordinarily he would have been entitled to look forward.
– As your Government have done in regard to the senators.
– I do not think the honorable senator will find fault with the principle we have put in practice in regard to Brigadier-General Gordon. The Government thought it was a fair and reasonable course to invite Parliament to approve of this amount. It is equal to one year’s salary.
– I have no objection to it.
.- Has the Vice-President of the Executive Council received any information with regard to the alleged victimization of union officials and members of a union at theKalgoorlie end of the transcontinental railway?
– In accordance with my promise, this morning I sent an urgent wire to Kalgoorlie, but no reply has yet been received. A few minutes ago I made inquiries as to whether a reply had been re ceived, but it is not yet to hand. It is a long way to Kalgoorlie, and there are often delays.
– This is a very important matter, and senators are inclined to take it very seriously, because we cannot pass over in a light and airy way the victimization of officers of a union. We are obliged to see that the men are defended. Though we have no desire to put any obstacle in the way of concluding the business, we wish to have something definite in regard to this matter. I therefore ask if the Government are prepared to give their word that, if the factsare as stated - that men have been victimized owing to their being officials or members of a union - they will be reinstated ?
– I understand the point is that these men have been discharged and badly treated because they are agitators. If that is the only thing against, them, I undertake, on behalf of the Government, that they will be rein-stated.
– Then I understand that if these men have been victimized for any part they have played in their trade union, they will be reinstated ?
– I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council this morning a question in regard to the enfranchisement of men in the mercantile, marine, and naval service. I wish to extend it a little, because large numbers of men have been refused enrolment through giving their ships as their addresses. I wish to know whether these men will be notified and informed that they can now enroll?
– I have received the following communication from the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth-
Men of the Australian Navy qualified for enrolment who have no places of living ashore are held to be entitled to enroll for the subdivision which includes the home port of the ship in which they are serving.
Senator Guthrie has been informed, in reply to an official inquiry, that a seaman employed in the mercantile marine who is qualified for enrolment, and has no place of living ashore, is held to be entitled to regard the place at which he signs on as a member of the crew, as his home port, and the subdivision within which the home port is situated as the subdivision for which, after one month, he may claim enrolment; and that where a seaman who is enrolled signs on for another ship, and establishes another home port, he must, after one month, transfer his enrolment.
Only one ease hascome under notice in connexion with the enrolment of seamen where the name of the ship, as the place of living, has been questioned, and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer was informed that the address should be accepted.
As far as the electoral administration is aware, no seaman, qualified for enrolment, has at any time been refused enrolment on the ground that he gave the name of a ship as his place of living, excepting in the one case brought under notice by Senator Guthrie, which was questioned by theRegistrar.
– I took one case to the electoral officer at Port Adelaide as a proof, but I know there are many others who. have been refused. The electoral officer for the subdivision of Port Adelaide put the case on record, so that there could be no doubt about it, and the electoral officer for the district said that the Commonwealth electoral officer had instructed him that he could not accept the steamer Kooyong as the address of the sailor claiming a vote. I know of many cases in Adelaide and Sydney where claims have been sent in and rejected on the same ground, and I now ask the Minister, in fairness to these men, to notify them that they can now enroll under the new arrangement arrived at.
– If those men’s addresses can be ascertained, I undertake that they shall be so informed.
.- Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform me whether, in connexion with the awards recently made by Mr. Justice Higgins concerning linemen and electricians, there is to be any differentiation in the payment by the Department to those who were members of the union and those who were not ?
– So far as the Government! are concerned, there will be no differentiation.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request.
Report adopted, and Bill read a third time.
– I. move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I need only say that hitherto, in obtaining Supply, the practice has been to ask for an unduly large advance to the Treasurer, out of which he was enabled to finance works then in progress. It has been deemed preferable, however, to submit these items separately, so that Parliament may know the several matters in respect of which its approval is sought.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 postponed.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Quarantine - Lighthouses. - Navigation Act - Perth General Perth Office- New Post Offices, Queensland - Undergrounding of Telephone Wires, Melbourne - Telephone and Telegraph Expenditure - Naval Works- Northern Territory.
– The Minister, in moving the second reading of- this Bill, gave us no information, so that honorable senators must be very much in the dark as to the way in which the proposed votes are to be expended. I desire some information regarding the item of “Quarantine?’ which appears in the division relating to the Department of Home Affairs. I wish to know whether the proposed vote is to be devoted to the erection of new stations, or to keeping in order those already in existence. Some work in this direction, I understand, has been carried on in North Queensland, but I have not been able to ascertain full particulars in regard to it. In the ; same division, we are asked also to agree to a proposed vote of £5,000 for lighthouses. We have been told, from time to time, in answer to questions, that certain vessels have been purchased, and that it is proposed to push on with the work of lighting the Australian coast. It is only a little more than a week ago that I was informed that the Lighthouses Act of’ 1911 had not yet been proclaimed. I should like to have some information on this subject?
.-The proposed vote of £14,000, under the heading of” Quarantine, “ is to enable works in connexion with the construction of new buildings to be continued. That is to say, no new work is being undertaken. This vote is designed to enable us to carry out work already in progress.
– Where are those works ?
– I cannot for the moment tell the honorable senator, but if he is particularly anxious to know, I shall endeaveur to supply him with the information. The proposed vote for lighthouses is only for land. When we reach the division relating to the Department of Trade and Customs, honorable senators will be asked to agree to a proposed vote to provide for buildings. As to the further question put by Senator Turley, I am informed that the Lighthouses Act has not yet been proclaimed.
– It is, to say the least, singular that, although the Lighthouses Act was passed three years ago, it has not yet been proclaimed. Every State, I am sure, is anxious that the lighthouses should be taken over by the Commonwealth. Quite recently a wreck occurred on the Queensland coast, and the State Government, deeming it necessary to undertake certain work in order to prevent the recurrence of such a calamity at the point in question, asked the Federal authorities whether that which it proposed to do would fit in with the future plans of the Commonwealth Department. It is singular that we should be asked to vote money in connexion with legislation which is not yet in force.
– I am not fully advised as to the matter, but I understand that the arrangements with the States have not yet been advanced far enough to enable the proclamation to be issued. Certain works, however, have to go on. We cannot allow them to be held up pending the issue of the proclamation.
– It is most remarkable that we should be asked %to agree to a proposed vote for the lighthouse service when the Act has not yet been proclaimed, and whilst the States are still collecting the revenue relating to lighting dues. We were told the other day that some vessels had been bought for lighthouse purposes, and I believe that there is to-day an advertisement appearing in the English newspapers for three steamers to be em ployed in attending the lighthouses. The Government are working in this case under an Act which has not been proclaimed. Going down the street I saw a brass plate up indicating the locality of the Lighthouses Department of the Commonwealth. I should like to know what steps are being taken to proclaim the Navigation Act to which the King gave his assent a long time ago. I see no sum on the Estimates for carrying out operations under that Act. The sooner it is proclaimed the better. If it has taken three years to negotiate with the States upon the transfer of State lights to the Commonwealth, I wonder how long it will take to negotiate for the transfer of the Navigation Departments of the different States. In the case of the lighthouses, we had a report from a gentleman who was two years engaged in the work of inspection. He resigned, and another one was appointed in his place fully twelve months ago, and yet all this time the State Governments are making a profit out of the light dues, and the Commonwealth Government are receiving no revenue from them. I hope that Ministers will take this matter into consideration, and will see that the Lighthouses Act and the Navigation Act are proclaimed as soon as possible.
– I shall see that the remarks of my honorable friends are brought under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs, but I wish to assure Senator Guthrie that the matter is not at present as he states itThere are items in the Bill which suggest inquiry which would keep the Senate going foi- many days to come. Honorable senators are masters of their” own proceedings. I do not question the right of any honorable senator to seek information, but it will be readily understood that I am not in a position to supply information at first hand on the various items of the schedule. If honorable senators desire information they might allow me to take notes of their inquiries, and I will undertake that, through the ordinary channels of communication, they will receive answers to those inquiries.
– I see that a sum of XJ.2,000 is set down for post-office buildings in Western Australia. It is within the recollection of honorable senators that the Labour Government made provision for a new General Post Office at Perth, involving a considerable expenditure of money. I am sure that £12,000 will be only a part of the amount required for the purpose. Before the Labour Government left office the plans and specifications of the new building were almost completed, but we have heard nothing of the matter for months past; and, so far as we can see, work in connexion with it has been suspended. I should like to know from Senator Mi llen whether he can give us any encouragement to hope that something will be done in the matter in the near future.
.- I can assure the honorable senator that something has already been done in connexion with the matter to which he refers. The plans and specifications for what is intended to be a block of buildings worthy of the city in which they are to be erected are in an advanced state of preparation, and may even be completed. It will, perhaps be some gratification to Senator de Largie if I inform him that out of the £12,000 set down for Western Australia post-offices are to be built at Cunderdin, Mundijong, and Doodlakine.
– I take some exception to the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate upon inquiries made by honorable senators in discussing items of Supply. It is not sufficient for the Minister to tell us that he is not in a position to give the information required at first hand concerning all the Departments. We recognise that no Minister can be regarded as an expert concerning all matters arising in connexion with the different Departments, and be in a position to personally supply all the information desired. But it is the duty of the Government to make provision for the supply of information: They should follow the proper practice of having at hand officers of the different Departments able to give the information required. What chance have we of getting information when the session closes, unless through the courtesy of Ministers? Personally, I want nothing from Ministers except what I am entitled to, and that is my rights. I see from the schedule that £5,000 only is set down for post-office buildings for Queensland, out of a total of £80,000 provided for this purpose for the whole Commonwealth. Queensland is a very big State. There are hundreds of post-offices there; many more are required, and no doubt repairs are needed in a great many instances. The amount set down for Queensland appears to be extremely small, and I think we should have some explanation of it.
– The honorable senator will recognise that there is no question of favoritismin the allocation of these votes.
– I am not raising that point.
– The honorable senator asks why it is not anticipated that more money- will be required to be expended in Queensland on post-office buildings within the. next three months. The answer is that such works are not in progress just now. . These votes are intended only to make provision to carry on works now in hand until a new Parliament can provide for additional works that it may desire to undertake during the year. It is apparently fortunate that Queensland is so far advanced in the matter of public works that little money is now necessary to complete them.
– The facts are quite contrary to the statement of the Minister of Defence. The trouble is that the present Government apparently have not set in motion a progressive works policy in Queensland. There is any amount of work to be done in connexion with the post and telegraph offices established, and to be established in the State, but, unfortunately, the Government have not commenced any of that work) and that is why so little money is required under this heading.
.- Perhaps the Minister representing the Postmaster-General can give the Committee some idea, in connexion with the item of £276,400 under the control of the Postmaster-General’s Department, whether the Government intend to continue the undergrounding of telephone wires in Melbourne. I raised this question not long ago, because two or three gangs of men had been discharged at practically a day’s notice, when it was affirmed that work was available for them in certain suburbs. On that occasion the Minister promised to see whether employment could not be found for them in the undergrounding of telephone wires at Box Hill, and in the surrounding district. I should like to know whether a certain sum is to be expended -during the next three months with a view to providing work - particularly in connexion with the undergrounding of telephone wires in the different suburbs - for the many men who are unemployed in Melbourne at the present time. I understand that it has been distinctly laid down by the officers of the Department that it is a wise policy to have the whole of our main telephone wires placed underground. Do the Ministry intend to have these wires undergrounded in any suburb during the present winter, and. if so, in what suburb ?
– In Victoria, the sum to be expended under this Bill is £67,000. It is to be spent under the following headings: - Telegraph Works, £5,000; telephone works, £42,000; trunk lines, £7,000; switchboard, Windsor Exchange, £11,000; and minor works, £2,000.
. -I should like to know how the £270,000 proposed to be spent upon telegraphs and telephones is to be allocated between the various States.
– In reply to the honorable senator, I wish to say that £67,000 is to be allocated to Victoria, £30,000 to Queensland, £24,000 to Western Australia, £2,500 to Tasmania, and a similar sum to South Australia. A somewhat larger sum is to be expended in New South Wales, but I have not the total before me. I believe, however, that it is in the neighbourhood of £80,000 or £90,000:
– Will the Minister of Defence inform the Committee what items are covered by the expenditure of £40,000 for naval works, &c. ?
– That expenditure is allocated to the Flinders Base, Cockburn Sound, and Port Stephens.
– What is the amount to be spent on each?
– It has not been allotted. My honorable friend will recollect that the method adopted in the preparation of Naval estimates provides merely for the appropriation of a lump sum, leaving the Department to apportion it as the progress of work demands. I may tell Senator Pearce that, so far as Westernport is concerned, the expenditure relates to works which are now in hand, namely, the buildings connected with the depot and preliminary work in regard to dredging. I do not anticipate that much will be done this quarter, but preliminary steps will have to be taken in regard to building the wharf. However, the principal work that will be taken in hand during the next three months will be the land buildings connected with the training and other establishments. At Port Stephens the money to be expended will be spent in pursuing the investigations which were instituted during the term of office of my predecessor. At Cockburn Sound, the work to be undertaken during the period that is covered by this Bill will consist of the completion of surveys, the making of further tests directed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice, and such other preliminary works as the officers can undertake, with the knowledge that they will be useful, irrespective of the nature of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice’s final report.
– Will there be any payments made on behalf of the dredgers ?
– I think that the dredgers have been provided for already.
– Yesterday, when the Minister of Defence was speaking on the question of Naval Bases, he referred to the opening ceremony which we had at Cockburn Sound, and declared that it had been accompanied by a banquet. I was wondering whether the £40,000 to which Senator Pearce has directed attention was to be voted for the purpose of paying for that banquet.
– As honorable senators opposite had the banquet, I hope that they paid for it.
– I may inform the Committee that the expense of the banquet amounted to between £40 and £50. The general public participated in it, and - owing to Senator Pearce being a “ wowser “ who does not take anything strong - -it consisted of a few bottles of dry stuff and some sandwiches.
– But honorable senators opposite made up for it at Canberra.
.- I note that a sum of £5,680 is to be spent in the Northern Territory. Can the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs inform me how that money is to be expended?
– The largest expenditure under that heading is £1,500 for the construction of a road from Pine Creek to Marranboy tin-fields. The item also covers two other roads, which will cost £500 each. The remaining expenditure is for various works of a similar character, but involving smaller individual amounts.
. Under the Department of Home Affairs there is an item in this schedule which, I take it, refers to construction work connected with lighthouses, and the final item in the Bill reads - “Lighthouses, £21,000.” I should like to know whether we will receive any revenue as the result of this expenditure.
– The first item to which Senator Guthrie has directed attention relates to the purchase of land only. I mentioned previously that the proposed expenditure upon lighthouse buildings, viz., £21,000, would be found on page 5 of the Bill. This money is to be spent upon a number of lighthouses, the names of which I will read, if Senator Guthrie desires me to do so.
– By all means.
– It may come as a salve to the conscience of Senator Mullan, who complained that his State was not getting sufficient under the vote for postal buildings, to learn that in the present instance Queensland is walking off with the lion’s share, leaving only a few insignificant crumbs for the other’ States, and absolutely none for the State which I have the honour to represent. The lighthouses to be constructed are at the following places: - Coquette Island, Newton Island, Dhu Reef, Heath Reef, Ti-tree Reef, Chatlan Island, Piper. Island, and Clarke Island - all these places are in Queensland, the highly favoured State - in the Northern Territory, Emery Point, and Fort Point; Tasmania, West Point. In those places it is proposed to spend this money.
– Automatic lights?
– I cannot answer that question.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2, preamble, and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Report adopted, and Bill read a third time.
– I beg to move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The provision made in this measure is a simple one. In the Manufactures Encouragement Act, 1908, £150,000 was allocated to encourage the manufacture of pig-iron, bar-iron, and steel in Australia. That expenditure was to be spread over a period of five years, expiring on the 30th June inst. Of that allocation there remains an unexpended amount of £10,473. That money is available for expenditure, and this Bill proposes to continue the provisions of the Act for one more year, in order that the iron industry may have the benefit of that money. That is the whole purpose of the Bill.
– I cannot allow this question to pass without calling attention to the fact that we are in the dying hours of a Parliament, which was actually declared by Ministers to be in the throes of a deadlock between the two Houses, resulting in the Governor-General deciding to send both branches of the Legislature to the country. Yet, in face of that fact, we are called upon to pass a piece of legislation which has already been agreed to by both parties in another place, but is nevertheless highly important, because it is extending the payment of a bounty or bonus, and is thereby perpetuating for another year a vital policy. The amount involved is not great, but the principle involved is one of the most important that could be contained in any piece of legislation introduced into this Parliament.
– Do you not approve of it?
– Of course I approve of it. But the fact of this Bill being introduced disproves the assertion of Ministers that there was actually a deadlock in this Parliament. Here is a piece of legislation, which both parties are agreeable to regard as non-contentious, and if any action of the present Ministry disproves their assertion that a deadlock existed between the two Chambers, it is the fact of their bringing down this measure in the last hours of the Parliament, and asking the Senate to pass it without discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment.
Report adopted, and Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act 1901-1910.- Regulation amended. -Statutory Rules 1914, No. 63.
Quarantine Act 1908-1912.- Regulation.Statutory Rules 1914, No. 67.
Public Service Act 1902-1913.- Department of Home Affairs. - Documents relating to the appointment and promotion of certain officers to positions of Divisional Returning Officer, Electoral Branch, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Close of the Session: Dissolution -
Tasmanian Mail Contract : Fares and Freights - Indisposition of Senator McGregor.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In submitting that motion, I suppose I shall be guilty of no breach of confidence if I express the opinion that we have reached the closing hours of the fifth Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– And the destruction of the Senate.
– I did not rise for the purpose of introducing any controversial matter into the few remarks I propose to make. Naturally those who, like myself, entered this Chamber with the first Federal Parliament, which the people of Australia were called upon to elect, take an even greater interest than other members in the constitutional circumstances which will bring this Parliament to a close. I do not desire to do more on this occasion than to express to my political opponents, as well as to my political friends, my hearty good wishes for their personal welfare during the next few mouths.
– Why limit it?
– Because I do not desire to indulge for one moment in any pretence as to our wishing one another well in the political fight.
– Hear, hear! We will ask for no quarter, and we will give none.
– That is so. But I do wish my honorable friends opposite well, so far as they are personally concerned. I shall not be at all perturbed if I have the pleasure of meeting them again when we re-assemble after the appeal to the electors.
– We all cordially reciprocate Senator Millen’s personal good wishes, while recognising that his few remarks are very much in the nature of what takes place at a boxing match, where, first of all, the two opponents shake hands, and then proceed to knock the stuffing out of each other. There has been some hard hitting and some pretty hot fighting during the session, but I am sure it has left no personal illfeeling behind. Nobody has had more of it than Senator Millen and myself, but, so far as I am concerned, it has left no bitterness behind. So far as the coming fight is concerned, we can promise our honorable friends on the other side as willing a go as they can wish to get.
– As Senator Clemons has had to leave, can the Minister of Defence give me any information as to whether the Postmaster-General has yet decided in favour of granting the request of the Shipping Combine for an increase in freights and fares between Tasmania and the mainland? This is a matter of great importance to Tasmania, and I take this, the last opportunity in this Parliament, of bringing it forward.
– I am in a position to give the information, because Senator Clemons, before he left, asked me to say that no application will be granted by the Postmaster-General unless it has previously been submitted to and approved by Parliament. I very much appreciate Senator Pearce’s personal remarks, especially in view of the fact that the little interchanges between us have not always been in the smoothest possible key. However, with him, I can forget them. I should like him to convey to Senator McGregor the sympathy of the Senate in his indisposition, and the sincere and cordial hope of both sides that he will have a sure and speedy recovery.
– Before putting the motion, I desire, on my own behalf, at this the close of the second and final session of this Parliament, to place on record my keen and deep appreciation of the cordial and sympathetic assistance that I have received in the discharge of my duties in the Chair from both sides of the House. That assistance and good feeling have enabled me to perform my duties in a way which, I hope, has been satisfactory to all members, and has made my task a very light one. I desire also to convey to the officers and servants of the House my personal thanks for the great assistance they have given me on every occasion. Honorable senators generally have been well served in the discharge of their duties by all members of the staff, from the highest officer to the humblest servant of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at5.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140626_senate_5_74/>.