6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at three p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act 1902-1913- Department of Trade and Customs. - Promotion of W. J. Anderson, as Clerk in charge, 3rd Class, Correspondence and Records Branch, New South Wales.
War, European -
Further telegrams of congratulation on destruction of German cruiser Emden, and replies sent by Prime Minister. Grant in aid to the Government of Belgium : Correspondence.
War Precautions Act 1914. - Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 154.
– Has the Minister of Defence obtained a reply to the question I asked yesterday in reference to the unloading of prize ships by a German firm in Sydney ?
– I have not yet received a reply, and I suggest that the honorable senator should put a question on the notice-paper to-day.
– It has been answered in another place.
-I ask the Minister of Defence whether ‘it is a fact that, buried in the sand hills of Glenelg, there are two 9.2 guns, which were intended for the defence of Adelaide, and which are to-day absolutely unprotected? Are any steps going to be taken to mount the guns?
– They are obsolete.
– The guns cost the country £80,000. They are lying absolutely unprotected, and the other day some person wrote across them, “ You had better mount these guns; you may want them. Vorwarts.” I understand that neither at Glanville nor at Largs Fort are there any guns equal to these. Other guns in South Australia are more obsolete than they are.
– Order! In asking a question the honorable senator cannot make a statement of alleged facts. Questions are asked only for the purpose of eliciting information, and should not be accompanied with any argument or statement as to facts or otherwise.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if there is any intention to do anything with the guns, or to protect the city of Adelaide?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
SenatorRUSSELL. - The answers are -
Chief Electoral Officer is quite satisfied that the occurrence was purely accidental.
The ballot-papers from the Goulburn Subdivision were correctly counted in the first instance, but two parcels, each containing 100 votes for Mr. Lynch, were inadvertently placed in Mr. Conroy’s parcel.
The ballot-papers were re-examined at the instance of the Divisional Returning Officer, and the error was adjusted prior to the completion of the scrutiny for the Division.
Subsequently a recount of the whole of the votes for the Werriwa Division was made by the Divisional Returning Officer.
Scrutineers for both candidates were present throughout the whole proceedings.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the table of the Senate the papers relating to settlement on the Daly River, Northern Territory, and to the advances made to settlers there by the Advances to Settlers Board?
– The answer is -
Copies of a despatch recently received from the Administrator are being made, and will be laid on the table.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT
GOULD asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What arrangements have been made with reference to the late Governor of German New Guinea and German officers who were taken to Sydney as prisoners of war from German New Guinea?
Are they under any restrictions as to their movements; and, if so, what are the restrictions ?
Are they or any of them being provided for at the expense of the Government; and, if so, at what daily expense?
– The answers are - 1 and 2. No information can at present be made available, the matter being under reference to the Imperial authorities. 3. (a) Yes. (b) Actual expense not at present known at Head-quarters, but the District Commandant had instructions to arrange for proper provision to be made in all such eases.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the exportation to. Great Britain of wool grown in Australia has been prohibited?
– The answer is-
By proclamation issued on the 23rd October last the exportation of wool from Australia is prohibited unless the consent of the Minister of Customs be first obtained.
Permission has been given to export wool to the United Kingdom in British vessels.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Upon what date were members and clerks of the Central Administration of Defence paid overtime money (if any) since the inception of the war - August, September, October - and when may Ordnance clerks and storemen expect such overtime due to them covering a. similar period?
– The answer is -
Overtime claims are dealt with and paid as they are received, therefore the dates of payment vary considerably. Claims for August from members of the Central Staff have all been paid, and also several claims for September and October; but a number of claims for the latter months have not yet been received.
Claims from Ordnance clerks and storemen for August and September have been received from some of the States, and have been approved and returned for payment. In other States the pressure of work has delayed action regarding them, but the claims are now being dealt with in the local offices, and it is expected that payment will very shortly be available.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
With reference to complaints by the residents of Strahan, Tasmania, that there is at times considerable delay in posting up the High Commissioner’s war bulletins in the towns of Queenstown, Gormanston, and Strahan, will the Postmaster-General instruct the Deputy Postmaster-General, Tasmania, to improve the present conditions ?
– The answer is -
Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,. upon notice -
– The answer is -
Inquiries are being made in the matter, and a report is expected from the Deputy Postmaster-General, Hobart, in a day or two. Replies will be furnished as early as possible.
Senator FINDLEY (for Senator
Blakey) asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that nearly thirty members of the First Expeditionary Force have been sent back to Victoria from West Australia because they refused to be twice vaccinated?
– The answer is -
Thirty-one men were discharged from the Australian Imperial Force for refusing inoculation. The General Officer Commanding, Australian Imperial Force, in notifying their discharge, states : - “ Included in the numbers are certain soldiers who refused to submit to vaccination against small-pox or inoculation against enteric. As their presence with the Force would be a source of danger to their comrades, I directed that they should, on definite refusal, be discharged for disobedience of orders. I attach a copy of a circular marked ‘ B ‘ which I have issued to all officers commanding troops on transports on the subject of vaccination and inoculation.”
The circular referred to reads as under : - “ Commanding officers should explain to men the objects with which inoculation against enteric, and vaccination against small-pox, is ordered.
These are two-fold. Firstly, as an individual preventive of two deadly diseases; and, secondly - and of much greater importance - to guard against the spread of infection amongst others.
It is, therefore, the duty of every officer and soldier cheerfully to submit to a simple medical precaution designed to nullify the danger of disease, both to himself and his comrades, and thereby allow the Force to be maintained in the field at its greatest and most effective strength.”
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Contingent were put ashore at Albany from the troopship Katoomba and left there without means ?
– The answers are - 1 and 2. No. Men discharged from the troopships were handed over to the Officer Com manding Albany Defences for transfer by the Katoomba to district of enlistment. It appears that thirty of them were not fully paid up prior to discharge, the reason being that only sufficient funds were provided on the ships for payment at the rate of1s. per diem on the voyage.
– Is this a case of men rejected on one occasion being accepted later?
– If they are medically fit. If they were turned out for a medical reason, and were afterwards found to be medically fit, they might be accepted.
– Iunderstood that these were men who were discharged for disobedience to orders in refusing to be inoculated.
– No; these are not the same men.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
Of course, I do not wish to curtail discussion, but it is necessary that the Bill should be passed to-day, and that is the reason of the motion.
– I wish to know whether there is any special urgency in connexion with this measure.
– To-morrow is payday.
– Then the Bill should have been introduced earlier. I have had occasion, a number of times, to protest against the unseemly way in which Supply Bills are passed in this Chamber. I have said, time and again, that Parliament has completelylost control of the financial administration of the country. As representatives of the people, we simply have no hold whatever upon it. That is a position of affairs which, if honorable senators had any sense of their own responsibilities, would not be allowed to continue for a single instant. I do not say that, in this respect, the present Government are any worse than were tha last Government, or than will be the next Government. Governments, assuming to be infallible, desire ,as little criticism of their financial operations as possible, but members of Parliament should see that the community gets fair play. The present occasion is one on which, there ought to be the very keenest scrutiny into our public expenditure, which, in the common phrase, is going up by leaps and bounds, while we are faced with a falling revenue. At a time like this it is imperative that members of the Senate, who are charged with certain responsibilities to the people, should be extremely careful in scrutinizing every item of expenditure. We ought to have time to look into the expenditure proposed in the Supply Bill. I have not seen it yet.
– It is based on last year’s expenditure.
– That is a tale which has been told a hundred times.
– It is none the less true.
– The house is built on a foundation which was laid a hundred years ago, but the plan of the house may be altogether different from the original plan. Our present expenditure may be based on last year’s expenditure, but it will be much greater in amount, and some of it will be of a very different character. Whatever it is, the outlook is so bad from almost every point of view that we have need to be extremely careful. We should approach this question with deliberation, instead of which the Government invite us to suspend all the rules of Parliament.
– In order that we may deliberate on this very question.
– In order that we may pass the measure through as quickly as possible; and in this connexion despatch means lack of consideration. We should have time to consider and deliberate. The rules which have been laid down by Parliament as the outcome of the experience of centuries have been framed with the object of giving every possible opportunity to sift and examine every question that comes before Parliament. They should be strictly adhered to. I object to the suspension of the Standing Orders. I took up that position when I first entered Parliament nearly twenty years ago. I have hitherto found my opposition altogether useless. I might as well have attempted to stand before a cyclone as to attempt individually to stem this kind of thing. But I have come to the conclusion that things ought to be differently arranged; that honorable senators should have some sense of. self-respect and of their responsibility to their constituents; a responsibility which they ought in no circumstances to attempt to evade. What consideration can we give this Supply Bill if we suspend all the Standing Orders? At the close of the session we shall be in the position that millions of pounds will have been voted away without any examination whatever. The public money will have been dealt with as if it were so much sand. I register my protest against the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– As one who has had the pleasure of listening to the very frequent protestsmade by Senator Stewart on previous occasions, I am reminded, whenever he expresses himself as he has just done, of a voice crying in the wilderness. He utterly fails to mark the sharp difference between a monthly Supply Bill and the annual Estimates. The Senate has no proper control by means of monthly Supply Bills over the public finances, and can never get it by that means. That control must come when the EstimatesinChief are under consideration, but owing to the determination of the other House to hold on to the Estimates and Appropriation Bill until the close of the session, this Chamber is never allowed a fair and full opportunity of considering the financial position of the Commonwealth. Nothing we can do with regard to monthly Supply Bills will alter that. These Bills, with the exception of one or two items in the one now before us, are merely to appropriate moneys for the payment of the ordinary public services. If we were afforded twenty-four days, or even twentyfour months, to discuss them, those accounts would still have to be paid. We might decide later on to cut them down, or to dismiss an official here or there, but the amounts have to be met and paid. There are special items in this Bill arising out of the existence of war, but no time spent on this Bill will give Senator Stewart what he wants - a full opportunity of dealing with the finances of the country. On his own confession he has abjectly failed to secure that, and he will not bring about a reform simply by denouncing what is, after all, a merely formal action in connexion with a monthly Supply Bill. I feel the humiliation of having to stand here and apologize for the Government; but the fact remains that what is being done now is a practice which will have to be followed, no matter what Government is on the Treasury bench, and we might as well recognise it. What we should do is to see if it is not possible to devise some means by which the main Estimates can come to the Senate for effective discussion some time prior to the eve of prorogation. Hitherto they have come up a few hours before the Senate has prorogued. T should welcome any means by which the Senate could be afforded an opportunity to look into the main Estimates for a few weeks, but I assure Senator Stewart that no alteration of the practice with regard to Supply Bills will carry us one step towards the reform, which I want as much as he does.
– Senator Stewart’s remarks might lead outsiders and readers of Hansard to believe that the Senate had lost its sense of self-respect and responsibility to the constituencies in dealing with a Supply Bill in the way the Government are asking us to deal with this one. Whatever justification the honorable senator may have had on previous occasions for protesting against proceedings of this kind, he can have very little now, because the Bill came up for discussion in another place yesterday, when Parliament reassembled after a fortnight’s adjournment. That was, therefore, the earliest opportunity that the Government had to introduce the measure. To-morrow (Friday) is pay day for the Public Service, as the 15th falls this month on a Sunday, and it is, therefore, necessary for Supply to be granted by Parliament to-day in time to allow payments to be made throughout the Commonwealth tomorrow. Had the Bill come to us last night before we adjourned, the Minister could have moved the first reading then. That motion could have been carried, and the second reading gone on with to-day. If, then, the Bill had passed through Committee unamended, it could have reached the report stage, and by suspending the Standing Orders the third reading could have been carried to-day, or, without that, the first thing to-morrow. If, however, that course had been followed honorable senators would have been deprived of an advantage which they now have, because under the Standing Orders a general debate is allowed on the first reading of a Supply Bill. Therefore, the action of the Government enables Senator Stewart and others if they so desire to ventilate any grievance they choose to-day.
– He does not know when he is well off.
– That is what I am trying to show him. The Senate has certainly lost no sense of self-respect or of responsibility in connexion with financial measures. It is not in relation to Supply Bills that this Chamber can assert its right effectively to the control of the finances. That can be done only in connexion with the general Estimates. Some years ago the Minister representing the Treasurer in this Chamber afforded the Senate an opportunity to deal with the general Estimates, and assert its control over them, by circulating the Budget-papers here on the same day as they were circulated in another place, and moving a formal motion for the printing of a paper. On that motion the whole of the Estimates were before the Senate, and as it remained on the notice-paper for a considerable time it was competent for the Senate from time to time, in intervals between other work, to continue what was practically a Budget debate. The same course might be followed this year.
– It has been done every year since then.
– It is a desirable practice, and I trust it will be maintained. It gives the Senate complete and effective control of the finances, and a full opportunity of discussing the whole of the general Estimates long before we are called upon to embody them in a schedule to the annual Appropriation Bill.
– No one questions the sincerity of Senator Stew ait’s protest. He confesses that after twenty years’ experience he has failed to secure proper control of the public expenditure.
– That is no reason for despair.
– I merely desire to point out to Senator Stewart the hopelessness of his case. In his attempt to resist the suspension of the Standing Orders he has hitherto had the support of the Opposition. But on the present occasion Senator Millen and Senator Keating have acted as apologists for the Government. In view of this circumstance, I ask Senator Stewart what prospect he has of effecting the reform for which he has so earnestly striven for twenty years?
– I do not give up hope.
– The honorable senator must recognise that his effort represents merely an idle beating of the air. The most striking feature in connexion with the present position is that the Opposition has failed in the discharge of its duty, and has instituted a new procedure by supporting the Government.
– The Opposition is always supposed to do that when the Government are right.
– Then it will always continue to support them, because the present Government are never in the wrong. We are all familiar with the attitude of Senator Stewart towards any proposal to suspend the Standing Orders, and consequently We are in no way surprised at his outburst to-day, but, unquestionably, the attitude of the Opposition is a novel feature of the situation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent this Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The measure is based on the monthly payments for works which have already been authorized by Parliament. Contractorsoccupy a similar position to our salaried public servants, in that +-hey require their money fortnightly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
War Expenditure - Destruction ob* German Cruiser “ Emden “ - Military Raids - Mail Deliveries, South Australia - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Unemployment - Post and Telegraph Department:: Recognition of Unions - Fruit Exportation : Overseas Inquiry - Australian Fleet Unit - Fodder Duties- - Horse Breeding - Northern Territory: Development : Railway Construction : Administrator’s Report - Federal Capital - Land Monopoly and Land Settlement - Conduct obWar : Australian Expeditionary Forces - King Island : Telephone and Telegraph Communication.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a first time,
I desire to say that the measure is one to authorize payment for the annual services of the Commonwealth, and it contains only two items which are out of the ordinary. These will be found upon page 11. The first is item 83a, which reads, “ Expeditonary Force, £925,000.” Obviously that is a- vote which has been necessitated by the war, and one which is not based on the Estimates on which we are working this year. Then th;re is an item of £1,000 for the administration of a Bureau of Agriculture. That has beenincluded in the Bill purely as the result of an error. It arose from the fact that in the Estimates prepared by the late Government a sum had been provided for the establishment of a bureau of agriculture. The items in this Bill were taken from those Estimates, and this particular item has been inadvertently retained. The Government, however, give an undertaking that none of the money set down in connexion with the bureau of agriculture will be spent. Consequently the vote must not be taken as pledging the Senate to the establishment of an agricultural bureau. With the exception of these two items, I am assured fay the Treasury officials–
– What about item 66, which reads, “ Maintenance of ships and .vessels, £100,000.”
– The honorable senator is right. That is an extraordinary item, and the vote arises from the fact of naval vessels being engaged on active service.
– Item 65 deals with them.
– No; the £100,000 which the Senate is asked to authorize on the maintenance of ships and vessels relates to ships such as transports-
– Hospital ships?
– It ia an item of war expenditure?
– It comes under war expenditure.
– I can assure Senator Guthrie that it has been caused by the war, and that in that sense it is an extraordinary vote.
– Would the item, “ camps, £51,200,” come under the same heading ?
– T do not think so. Senator Stewart. - Why not group all the war expenditure ?
– I may tell the honorable senator that Supply Bills follow the Estimates for the preceding year until the new Estimates are submitted. Iu the new Estimates an attempt is being made to group the wax expenditure and to keep it separate from ordinary expenditure, so far as it is possible to do that. It is extremely difficult to separate it all, and it is obviously impossible to do it in these Supply Bills. I repeat that in the Estimates an attempt is being made to separate, as far as practicable, war expenditure from the ordinary routine expenditure. I thank the Senate for having suspended the Standing Orders, and I may say that I did not take the first reading of this Bill last night because, if I had done so, honorable senators would not have been afforded an opportunity of dealing with a number of questions to which I know they desire to call attention. That was the reason why I decided to take the first reading of the Bill to-day.
– The only remarks I wish to make are with regard to the state of war. This is the first opportunity that I have had of speaking on the subject since the news was received a few nights ago of the magnificent success that attended the efforts of the officers and crew of the Australian warship .Sydney. I think that there is but one feeling amongst the people of Australia generally. With regard to that achievement I regret to notice that there seems to have been a disposition in some quarters to minimize, as it were, the success and the effects of it. I believe that at the present moment we can hardly measure accurately the consequences of that success. We are liable, if anything, to under-estimate it rather than to over-estimate it. Because there is no -doubt that the work done by the Emden has engaged the attention -of not only the people of the British race throughout the world, but also the attention of neutral nations, and of the German people themselves. Had a similar success attended a British boat, there is not the slightest doubt that we in Australia, and residents in various parts of the British Empire, would have acclaimed with cheers and -enthusiasm the announcement of each success of that vessel. The people of Germany must sooner or later, no matter what precautions may be taken, become cognisant of the fact that the Emden has ended her career. They will also become cognisant of the fact that her career has been terminated by an Australian war vessel. It will bring home to the mind of the man in the street in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany that it is not alone the British Lion that he is at war with, but he is also at war with the cubs, who can give a very good account of themselves. I think that the moral effect of that knowledge on the German nation will be tremendous. No matter what efforts may be made to influence their minds with the idea that Australia is disloyal, or is not likely to take an active part in the war, they will realize more than ever that they are at war, .not merely with the United Kingdom, but with a united British Empire., which has its resources throughout the whole of the world, and is placing them at the disposal of the Mother Country, It will help Australians also, as Senator Shannon interjects, to realize that the war is not a war between Great Britain and Germany, but a war with the whole British Empire. So I say that the moral effect of the success of the Sydney we can hardly measure at the present time. In fact we are much more likely to underestimate it than to over-estimate it. The only other matter I wish to refer to is one that I brought up on the motion for adjournment last evening. I then asked the Minister of Defence if the Government would make a statement, and when, with regard to the recent raids, of which so much has been made in the press. I do not for one moment question the advisableness or the wisdom of the steps that were taken, but it must be seen that the mere fact that business premises and the offices of well-known companies were raided, meant that, so far as the Government were concerned, those persons and those companies had come under suspicion, and the announcement that their premises were raided, “ published broadcast as it has been, not only in Melbourne, but throughout the whole of Australia, has amounted, in effect, to an accusation against them. If the inquiries made by the Government have revealed that the persons and the companies have been acting in a perfectly bond fide way, and that there is no ground for suspicion of any irregular conduct on their part, it is only fair to them and to the public that their vindication should receive publication to the same extent as the accusation against them; and, as Senator Millen remarks, as promptly as possible. There are companies whose offices have been raided with shareholders representing all classes throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Many of these people not unnaturally have begun to examine themselves, and to feel that perhaps after all they have been associated with an enterprise which has been carried on in some illegitimate and unpatriotic way. It is only a fair thing to all who are engaged in these enterprises £hat if the raid has had the result of vindicating them, the vindication should be published as promptly as possible, and as fully as the accusation against them. I feel certain that the Minister of Defence will realize the justice of this suggestion, and in conjunction with his colleagues will take the necessary course. I hope that other honorable senators will impress upon the Government the desirableness of taking such a course, which, after all, is one of mere justice, and not a favour or a consideration. As regards the Bill, I accept the assurance of the Minister that it is based on the ordinary Estimates of the year and previous expenditure, except as re- _ gards those particular items to which attention has been drawn, and in respect* of which criticism or discussion had better take place in Committee than at this stage.
– There are one or two little matters, to which I wish to direct attention. The Minister who represents the PostmasterGeneral here may not be aware that onsome of the railways in South Australia, particularly on the Northern line and the. line leading to Broken Hill, a mail van is run, and a sorter accompanies the van to facilitate the delivery of letters at the other end. I believe that some time ago several coaches were built for the Railway Department with the express object of running a similar van on the SouthEastern line, but up to the present time no such facilities have been granted. From the South-Eastern railway there branch two or three lines along which there are several post-office stations. I may mention here that the train does not reach Mount Gambier until 8 o’clock at night. The residents have to wait a considerable time before their letters are sorted, and then no delivery takes place until 9 o’clock, or perhaps later. That means that the employes are detained at work considerably longer than they should be. If a sorting officer were allowed to travel in a coach along the line, as on the Northern railway, the delivery of the mails would be greatly facilitated, and, of course, there would be less trouble at the other end. The same remarks apply to the Pinaroo and Paringa lines. I refer to the matter now because some time ago there was a designto. provide for the sorting of letters in the train. Tt would not involve any extra expenditure. It would simply mean a rearrangement of postal facilities. Another matter I wish to call attention to is the construction of the East to West railway. Considerable work ds proceeding, but I see no item for the line in this Bill. We should be able to judge from the schedule of the Bill how the works along this railway are progressing, and what expenditure has taken place, and if the expenditure is excessive or otherwise. It is a considerable time since the Senate w_as furnished with any information in this regard. The same remarks will apply to other construction works which are in progress. I recognise that the Government have only just succeeded to office, and, therefore, cannot he expected to be fully seized of all these matters. The motion before the Senate gives an opportunity to those who are interested to ask for information, not simply to satisfy our own curiosity, but to let the public know how the funds of the nation are being spent, and how the construction works are progressing.
– I wish to express my disapproval of the answer given to my question to-day by the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. It appears from the answer that the Postmaster-General himself has indorsed the attitude of the Deputy Postmaster-General in Queensland in refusing to recognise the Lettercarriers Association, or any of the combined bodies of post and telegraph employes. As I outlined in my question, it is precisely the same attitude as that which was taken by Mr. Badger, the Yankee boss who was running the Brisbane tramways when the representatives of fortythree unions ceased work and brought about the Brisbane general strike. The ground on which Mr. Templeton, the Deputy Postmaster-General, goes, is that the union he refused to recognise had participated in passing a resolution which he described as reflecting on himself in insolent terms.
– Have you the resolution?
– The resolution, which appeared in the September issue of the Transmitter, reads as follows: -
That, owing to the severity of fines and abuse of section 46 of the Public Service Act by the Deputy Postmaster-General of Queensland, as disclosed by the figures in the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner’s annual report for 1912-13, this meeting of Presidents and Secretaries, representing Telegraphists, Clerical Assistants, Mechanicians, Sorters, Linemen, and Letter Carriers, recommend to its members that in every case they refuse to allow the Deputy Pos’tmaster-General to personally, deal with offences. They further recommend that every officer should take advantage of a Board of Inquiry in every instance where they are so charged.
I think that that proves conclusively what I have said was the case. In his reply the Deputy Postmaster-General refers to the resolution as an insolent one, but I contend that the association has a perfect right to advise its members as to what course they should take for their own protection as a body. The pertinent part of the reply of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral is contained in this -
I have to inform you it has come under my notice, from pages 27 and 28 of the Transmitter, that a combined meeting of Associations of Officers employed in this Department was held on May 16th, when an insolent resolution was, at the instance of the President of the Post and Telegraph Association, adopted by such meeting. As your association was represented at that meeting and indorsed that resolution, I regret that it is not possible for me to grant the desired audience until your association repudiate their share in such resolution. I am not prepared to permit officials of this Department, combined as an association, to adopt towards me an attitude which they in their individual capacity would not for one moment attempt to adopt.
I have said that in my opinion the association had a perfect right to advise its members as it did, even in the terms of that resolution. I do not admit that the resolution was an insolent one. We know that prior to the general strike in Brisbane, Mr. Badger considered the resolutions of the members of the Tramways Union to be insolent, but assuming for the sake of argument the resolution in this case was indiscreet, I contend that there was some justification for the adoption of such a resolution. A reference to the report of the Public Service Commissioner for 1913 will show that the number of dismissals and resignations in the Post and Telegraph Department in Queensland was altogether out of proportion to the number of officers employed in the Department in that State when compared with what took place in New South Wales and in Victoria. The total number of officers employed in the Post and Telegraph Department in New South Wales at 30th June, 1912, was 5,942; the number in Victoria was 3,912; and the number in Queensland 1,888. It is necessary to remind honorable senators that voluntary resignations cannot in_all cases be accepted as such, because they are very often brought about at the point of the bayonet. A public servant is given to understand that if he does not retire voluntarily he will be dismissed. Notwithstanding the fact that Queensland has only about onethird of the total number of officers employed in the Department in New South Wales, the resignations for the twelve months in Queensland numbered 115, as against only 256 in New South Wales. The comparison is even more striking in connexion with dismissals, since there were twenty dismissals in Queensland, and only thirty-seven in New South Wales, with three times the total number of officers employed in the Department in Queensland. The Sydney Post-office has, in particular, always been held up as a place that was in a chaotic state, and I believe there has been very much cause tor complaint there, and yet the comparison between Queensland and New South Wales in the matter of retirement and dismissals from this Department is greatly against the former State.
– The honorable senator’s figures might be used as an argument to prove that if there were a few more dismissals in Sydney there would be less chaos.
– I am endeavouring to point out that there was an undue number of retirements and dismissals in Queensland, as compared with New South Wales.
– But the honorable senator has said that the Sydney Postoffice was in a state of chaos.
– Tes; and retirements and dismissals might have been expected there in far greater proportion than in Queensland, where there was no chaos. The comparison with Victoria is much more unfavorable for the Queensland Department. I have said that the total number of officers in the Queensland Department is 1,888, and the total number in Victoria is 3,912, or about double the number in Queensland. Yet in Queensland, in the course of twelve months, there were twice as many resignations as in Victoria.
– The conditions in the services in one State as compared with another might be more congenial, and that might account for the discrepancy.-
– That could not apply to the comparison with New South Wales.
– Has the honorable senator the figures for Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne ?
– The average should work ‘out’ about the same.
– I have not the figures for the capital, but only for the State, but I agree with Senator O’Keefe that the average should work out about the same. The dismissals in Victoria numbered nineteen for the year, and in Queensland they numbered twenty. I -say that these figures go to show that the members of the association were not without some justification for their protest. I contend that the attitude of the PostmasterGeneral in indorsing the action of his Deputy in Queensland is not in the best interests of the association or of the Post and Telegraph Department as a whole. It may be said that discipline is necessary, and I quite admit that it is. But there is a great difference between firmness and despotism. I consider that if he does not realize it, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Queensland should have it impressed upon him that an ounce of tact in the head of a Department is worth a ton of bounce. Any man handling a body oF men should know that he ought not to lay down hard-and-fast rules, that he should be prepared to listen to them., and that he should not be ungetatable and unapproachable. I am not unduly enthusiastic about the members of the Post and Telegraph Officers Association as unionists, because I realize that for the first ten years of Federation the post and .telegraph servants, as a body, were quite prepared to eat out of the hand of a Fusion Government, whilst as soon as a Labour Government came into power they wanted everything in twenty-four hours. But there is here, in my opinion, a big principle involved. It is the policy of the Labour party, and should be the policy of a Labour Government and of a Labour PostmasterGeneral, to encourage unionism. The servants of this Department of the Commonwealth Public Service have been encouraged to form an association, and to combine in union for the purpose of appealing to the Arbitration Court. I may admit, for the sake <of .argument, .that many of them did not know” much about unionism and its principles on their entry into unions, but our duty is to encourage them, so that when they are in unions they may learn the true principles of unionism, and may become true and earnest unionists in the end. If they have only gone into the unions for the sake of what they might obtain from the Arbitration Court, I believe that their ardour will be very much damped by the action of the Postmaster-General in indorsing the action of his Deputy in Queensland. The Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Queensland takes up the remarkable attitude that he will not receive a body of men combined in a union. If the present Postmaster-General and the present Labour Government are prepared to indorse that action, I am quite prepared to protest against it and to oppose it. 1 have referred to the number of dismissals and so-called voluntary retirements in the Department in Queensland, and I may now remind honorable senators that there are many casual employes of the Department who are compulsorily retired. In my opinion, if the Deputy Postmaster-General dispenses with the services of even a casual employe it is only fair that that employe should be given the grounds of his dismissal. I do not intend to mention names, but I know of one case of a man contracting for casual work in the laying of telephone lines under the Queensland Administration who was banned from employment by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral there. The head of the Department in Queensland has refused to lift the ban, and to this day the man in question does not know why he is banned from employment. I know, but I have felt that it is not my place to tell him, because it seems to be held as a sort of secret in the Department. It is believed that this man was purloining wire belonging to the Department.
– A contractor?
– Yes ; he was a contractor. The belief may be true, but I do not know the circumstances of the case. I contend that this man should be told officially the reason why he is banned from further employment in the Department. He has repeatedly communicated with me in the endeavour to find out why he is prevented from obtaining work.
– If he reads Hansard now he will be able to find out.
– I have not mentioned the man’s name, because the mere statement of the accusation might leave a stigma upon it. I say that in justice to this man, and to every other employe dismissed from the Department, the reasons for dismissal in each case should be given. The PostmasterGeneral has supplied members of this Parliament with a list of the new powers which have been given to the Deputy PostmasterGenerals in each of the States. I believe in decentralization, and that Deputy Postmaster-Generals should, in common with other heads of Departments in the Public Service, be given reasonable powers of administration. The added powers in this case I do not object toy but in the hands of a man like Mr. Templeton, the Deputy Postmaster-General of Queensland, any powers may be dangerous unless he modifies the attitude he has assumed. I should be very loth to endow with any great extension of powers the head of a Department whosets himself up as a small despot, and’ says, “ I will not receive the membersof a union.” The mission of the union, in the case I have referred to was an important one, dealing with the questionof overtime to be paid to letter-carriers at the post-offices of Albion and Brisbane. They wished to state their case, but the Deputy Postmaster-General said, “ No; you can work overtime. Your grievances will not be redressed. I shall not meet you or discuss the matter with you.”
– Has the honorable senator with him the resolution complained of by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral.
-Yes ; I have read the resolution, and I have pointed out that even although it might be considered indiscreet, which I personally do not admit, the association had good, grounds, in the great discrepancy existing, in the matter of dismissals and retirements in Queensland as compared with New South Wales and Victoria, for theresolution . at which they arrived. I trust that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in the State will present the matter to that honorable gentleman, and if he considers the matter calmly I think he will see thaihe is taking up a very indefensible position if the policy of the Government is recognition of unionism, and not recognition of non-unionism and Badger ism. We do not want any Badgerism in th® operations of the Commonwealth Labour Government.
– Templeton is ten times worse than Badger ever was.
– The indications are that if he only had Badger’s power, he would out-Badger Badger. It should therefore be impressed on the PostmasterGeneral that while extended and additional powers might be very well, some of the departmental sub-heads must be told in plain terms that they cannot be allowed to override the vital principles of the Labour movement, especially when. there is a Labour Government in power. In many instances these gentlemen exceed their functions. I do not want to go into that question, and will content myself with recording my protest against the action of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral” in Brisbane, and the steps he has taken, and my regret that these have been indorsed by the Labour PostmasterGeneral.
.- The complaint I want to ventilate this afternoon is mainly directed against the previous Government, and the High Commissioner’s office in London, and concerns the recent inquiry into the fruit industry with which I had the honour to be associated. The Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry tabled two progress reports, and two final reports, in each case a majority and minority. In these, which were issued after we had travelled over 20,000 miles up and down Australia, we particularly asked for an inquiry overseas. There were many reasons that led us, as a Commission, to press the Government of the day - the Cook Administration - for an inquiry in London. Numerous grave allegations were made before us on oath in connexion with the sale in London of fruit coming from overseas. The matter particularly concerns Tasmania as the largest fruit-growing State, and probably the largest fruit-exporting State. But it is of interest to the other States also, inasmuch as the fruit industry promises to become second in importance to few in the Commonwealth in the next few years, and in anything which concerns its welfare we can reasonably ask Parliament to take a judicious and natural interest.
Nearly every witness complained of Covent Garden Market, London. To pick out one complaint from a thoroughly representative and admirably informed gentleman, which is indicative of the majority of the complaints made concerning the selling of fruit at Covent Garden, and shows concisely the reasons why we were anxious for an inquiry, I quote the following evidence given in Melbourne by Mr. W. J. Williamson, fruit-grower, barrister and solicitor, of Portland, Victoria -
I went round to James-street, close to Floral Hall, and I noticed the names of Jacobs, Thomas, Isaacs, and so on, over different wholesale shops. I went into one of the shops, and said, “You sell in the Hall as well as dere ?” He said, “ Yes.” I said, “ Do you get through much business?” “Yes,” he said, “we do a large business all over the kingdom.” I said, “ Where do you get the apples?” And he said, “In the Hall; of course we have to get our profit.” I then went back to the auctioneer to have a conversation with him, and I said, “ I see you sell privately,” and he said “We all do.” I said, “Where do you get the apples?” and he said, “In the Hall there.” I said, “How can you be a buyer and seller both?” and he said, “They are different departments.” I said, “ What does it matter if there are 50 departments, if you are head of them all?” and he said, “ Our managers come here and compete in the open market.” I said, “ Who knocks down to them?” but I was so disgusted at the man’s blindness to business ethics that I did not go any further.
That has been the continual complaint - that the auctioneers., both “ wholesale “ and retail fruit. We had also statements made of absolutely incorrect account sales being rendered in which the growers were deliberately robbed by some of the firms in question in the distribution of their fruit in London. Mr. Williamson also said -
On another day, I had a small shipment of from 200 to 250 cases of Borne Beauty apples, and I went to Floral Hall to see them sold. They had 40 cases out of the shipment in the Hall, and these 40 cases were stacked by themselves. … I saw the 40 cases were all in good order, in hardwood cases, and clear of water stain. I could see the apples through the spaces in the cases, and they were all in good order and dry. When my apples came on the catalogue, a case was brought out from near the rostrum, all discoloured with water. The head of the case was wrenched off, and there were the apples, with paper hanging round them, wet. They were knocked down for 4s. a case on that sample, including portions of the shipment which were not then in the Hall. I jumped down from where I was standing and looked at my 40 cases again, and they were perfectly free from water stain. I said afterwards, “Where did you get that case from? Why didn’t you tip it in the rubbish heap?” and he said. “ We always try to sell on a fair sample.”
That is indicative of many of the methods pursued in Covent Garden Market, and we rightly asked for a thorough inquiry. We also requested the then Government to send the Fruit Commission Home to investigate these charges personally.
There were many other things that required investigation, including strange discrepancies concerning charges and the methods of the agents at Home. When the Commission could take from the correspondence in the office of a big Tasmanian firm a letter such as I am going to quote, honorable senators can see the- rotten state of affairs existing in connexion with the distribution of Australian fruit in London. We seized this letter from Henry Jones and Company, Hobart. It is from Moore and Company, who are really controlled by Henry Jones and Company Co-operative - a great firm which controls eight or nine others. Moore and Company, writing to Jones and Company, said -
Mr. M. Fitzpatrick ;
He is a big fruit-grower at Lovett - . wrote to us to know if we could sell for him 5,000 cases for next year, made up as follows : - he stated that he would not send any apples under 21/4.
Mr.R. J. Grant (Messrs. Knill and Grant)-
That is one of the biggest broking firms in Covent Garden market - came in to see us about this, as he had exactly a similar letter which had been addressed to him at Covent Garden. This suggests that Fitzpatrick has written to several firms. Knill and Grant would not do anything without reference to us, and we suggested that he had better write to Fitzpatrick declining to buy, as it would be so much better to leave it to you to see what you can buy them for. Grant is doing this, and we doubt if any one else will trouble about buying just now.
In other words, Moore and Company influenced Knill and Grant not to quote for Tasmanian fruit. Practically there was a ring, and the consequence was, as Moore plainly tells Jones in the letter, “ competition having been removed you can easily buy the fruit.” We know as practical business men that that would be at Jones’ own price in Tasmania - a most pernicious condition ofaffairs. These cases are indicative of dozens which came before us in taking evidence, and surely warranted an inquiry.
There was something further. Whereas, up to the time the Commission commenced to take evidence, the big firms inTasmania, the bigger firms in Victoria, and other firms throughout the Commonwealth, had been continually telling the grower that all they made out of apples was the 2d. or 3d. a case they charged at this end for agents’ fees, when we began to inquire closely and see documents, we found that there were two or three other profits not previously disclosed. One of the most important was a little fee that they called a retaining fee. Nobody knew anything about it, least of all the growers, yet it ran as high as 6d. per case, which would amount to a considerable sum on a big shipment of apples.
– Could they not be dealt with under the Secret Commissions Act?
– They did not call it a secret commission. The agents at this end took care that nobody knew about it. It was a confidential matter between the Covent Garden sellers and the agents who shipped the fruit at this end. Even if we had asked them about it openly they would not have owned up to it as a secret commission. We found, however, that they did get it, and that it was a common practice among all the bigger firms in Covent Garden market to pay it. As soon as Perry and Company, the biggest exporting firm here, found that the Commission had hold of the fact that there was a retaining fee, they issued a circular to growers to this effect: “We represent So-and-so in Covent Garden market, from whom we receive our usual retaining fee,” and attempted to bluff it out by saying that the grower knew this all the time. When Perry found that all the facts were placed on the table, and that the growers were being educated up to what was going on by the evidence taken by the Commission, he went so far as to say that if he was doing the business Jones and Company were doing in Tasmania, with an export of nearly 1,000,000 cases of fruit, he would exist on the retaining fee alone, and would not charge the growers in Tasmania anything to handle their fruit at this end.
I want honorable senators to realize the gravity of the position from the standpoint of the growers. There is also a charge in Covent Garden for handling fruit for Australian growers, called a consolidated charge, which runs into 7d. or 8d. per case. The growers have been led to believe that this charge returns no profit to the big broking firms in Covent Garden, but that they pay the 7d. or 8d. per case out of pocket on behalf of the growers, and just charge them accordingly, thus making no profit. We found, however, from sworn evidence at this end that the services for which they were charging the growers 7d. or 8d. per case cost them only 31/2d. to 5d. per case. Therefore, another concealed profit was going into the pocket of the Covent Garden firms. The agents here knew all about it, but being in close relationship with the London firms were quite content to let the growers be fleeced. Even more definite proof of this fact is furnished by the fact that the South Australian State Export Department does the same service for 3d. per case, which they say covers all the expenses. This shows clearly that 3d. or 4d. per case is going into the pockets of the London brokers by means of the consolidated charge. I have outlined very briefly the position which obtains-
– Who sells the South Australian fruit at Covent Garden?
– It is Bold there under the supervision of the South Australian Trade Commissioner, who is a paid official of the Government.
– It is sold by the same agency as disposes of the other fruit.
– But it is sold under the supervision of the Government Trade Commissioner. The South Australian Trade Commissioner has the right at any time to inspect original invoices. He can demand from any broker the invoices relating to any fruit sold in order that he may ascertain to whom that fruit was sold.
– Why do so many South Australian producers continue to ship through the old-time channels, and to ignore the Export Department?
– We found that the Export Department of South Australia exercises such a check on the private agents of that State that they are unable to continue the depredations which obtain in connexion with the sale of fruit from other States. Further, every case of fruit exported from South Australia is forwarded through that Department.
– Not altogether. Wills’ now send regularly.
– That is since the Commission took evidence. For services for which the South Australians pay 3d. per case to their Export Department, private firms charge 7d. or 8d. per case. Further, the State Export Department of South Australia refuses to accept any retaining fee, with the result that the trade is cleaner and more honorable than it would otherwise be.
– And more profitable.
– And the taxpayers have to make up the losses.
– There are no losses. That fact is clear, and there was not an unbiased witness of notewho gave evidence before the Commission who did not affirm that the conditions at the other end of the world are very unsatisfactory and will continue to- be unsatisfactory until we secure a radical alteration of the present system, commencing with the appointment of a. Commonwealth Trade Commissioner in London, whose duty it will be to control ‘ not merely fruit, but every commodity that we export overseas. Even the gentlemen opposed to us politically,, who were members of the Commission, recognised that.
– I recognise it myself. I have heard it stated that it is. at the other end of the world that investigation may produce good results.
– The only differencebetween my own party and that with which the honorable senator is associated is, that while we are prepared to move and to alter existing conditions, the honorable senator’s party is steadily barracking for the institutions which control the trade in Australia and Tasmania.
– The honorable senator condemns existing methods, but admits that the growers still utilize them.
– The export of apples from South Australia is small ascompared with the export of apples from Tasmania. Surely my honorable frienddoes not expect the South Australians to get control of a market which handlestwenty or thirty times the quantity of fruit which they forward to it.
– The whole of the Australian export of fruit represents only a small proportion of what is sold at Covent Garden market.
– That is the reason why the whole of that fruit should be placed under one control.
– The South Australian Trade Commissioner has the power to withdraw fruit from sale at Covent Garden, and to sell it at Edinburgh, Manchester, or on the Continent, thus making the sales at Covent Garden less.
– That is so. The South Australian Trade Commissioner refuses to utilize many of these channels^
– Do the Americans and Canadians utilize them ?
– The Trade Commissioner has picked out one of the oldest private treaty firms that refused to send South Australian fruit into Covent Garden to be sold by auction. I think I have shown that the condition of the fruit industry at the present time is a very unsatisfactory one, and that need exists for reform. We approached th© late Government upon the matter, but we did not find them sympathetic. Personally, I received very unsympathetic treatment from them. They were dominated by the firms in Tasmania which at present control the position. When the State Fusion party of Tasmania was split in twain, Mr. Henry Jones was the only gentleman who had sufficient influence to get the party into his office in Tasmania, and to fuse its members so that they could present a united front.
– I tell the honorable senator that that is a myth.
– It is common knowledge that Mr. Henry Jones was the only gentleman who was powerful enough to fuse the Liberal party and to induce them to pre-ent a united front to the enemy.
– It is Mr. Henry Jones now, but a few years ago it was Mr. Barclay.
– I have received reports from very reliable sources in Tasmania that, during the last elections Mr. Ashbolt, of Messrs. Henry Jones and Company, called his men together, and told them that if they *wanted to vote Labour he had no objection to them doing so, but if Senator Ready was returned to this Parliament the company would transfer their business to America.
– Have they transferred it?
– No; it was only bluff, but typical of that firm’s methods.
– Does the honorable senator know that Mr. Jones went to America some months ago in order to extend the Tasmanian- fruit trade there, irrespective of any political situation ?
– He went there also to extend his own interests, and small blame to him for doing so. My complaint is that the party with which my honorable friend is associated puts Mr. Henry Jones’ interests before the interests of the primary producer.
– Are not the majority of the fruit-growers of Tasmania, who do business with Messrs. Jones and Company, satisfied that it is a firm of great integrity, arid do not they wish .to continue their relations with it?
– The majority are not satisfied, and this would speedily be rendered plain were it mot for the financial influence which Mr. Jones wields over them. His interests are wide, and his methods are sometimes devious. His financial wing is a .capacious one-
– It is a pity we have not a dozen men like him in Tasmania.
– I quite expected that, and, having shown exactly how my honorable friend stands, I am content. In taking evidence, the Commission found that the fruit-growers who possess influence and large acreages in Tasmania - the men -who take a leading part in the deliberations of the Fruit-growers -Union there - are big shareholders in the firm of Henry Jones and Company.
– An instance of the advantage of co-operation which the honorable senator is always lauding at Sunday afternoon meetings.
– It is the wrong sort of co-operation. Ours is the co-operation of all the growers. If the honorable senator chooses to use his eyes and ears he will find that there are a great many discontented fruit-growers in Tasmania. Having shown where my honorable friend stands, I wish to tell the Senate the matters into which the Commission recommended that specific inquiry should be made in London. Every member of the Commission, both Liberal and Labour, signed a memorandum to the Prime Minister. We asked that a member of the Commission should be despatched to London to conduct the inquiry into these matters. An unsympathetic Government ref used our request. Accordingly we determined to send Home through the Prime Minister a memorandum setting out the matters which, in our opinion, needed investigating. Both sides of the Commission signed that memorandum. I ask honorable senators to note the four or five subjects into which we desired an (investigation to be made. The Prime Minister of the day assured us that he would have an inquiry made through the Department ‘of the High Commissioner. We had not much faith in the High Commissioner’s Department, and our lack of faith proved to be well founded. In paragraph 7 of our memorandum we said -
Evidence was tendered by many witnesses which showed that growers were charged from 7d. to 8d. per case to cover the cost of outofpocket expenses in London, exclusive of selling commission, but embracing dock charges, collection, lighterage, landing, sorting, stor age, delivery, &c. The charge was declared to be excessive. The details of actual cost of the services mentioned should be ascertained.
We also inserted a paragraph relating to rebates. Paragraph 9 reads -
Evidence was submitted that some of the fruit agents, both shipping and selling, receive secret rebates from their principals. Inquiry is suggested to ascertain if such practice exists, and the amount paid by such principals.
Then paragraph 11 says -
Investigation should be made to determine whether sales might be effected, under proper supervision, by reliable agents at the lowest reasonable rate, and the services of any unnecessary middlemen eliminated.
We also asked for an inquiry into the need which exists for cool storage in London, and in paragraph 20 we specifically referred to questionable practices. We said -
Sworn evidence was tendered to the effect that certain London sellers (who represent the Australian agents for the growers) are also buyers, and that they control wholesale and retail Belling houses.
Paragraph 21 reads -
It was pointed out by a witness before the Commission, who had made inquiries in London, that the result was that the wholesale merchants, whose principals were sellers in the market, effected the work of distribution, and secured the profits which should legitimately have belonged to the growers.
Then in paragraph 22 we said-
Investigation of these matters should elicit some idea of the value of supervision by commercial agents or otherwise over the sale of Australian products.
There were other matters dealt with in our memorandum, but those I have enumerated were the most important. That memorandum should have carried some weight, inasmuch as it was signed by the whole of the members of the Commission, and was accompanied by a memorandum of the Cook Government. I may also mention that when the High Commissioner was in Melbourne, the members of the Commission made it their duty to wait upon him, and to chat over matters in detail. Upon that occasion I urged upon Sir George Reid’s attention the necessity of inquiring particularly into these questionable practices, these dishonest tactics and the way the fruit-grower was being fleeced. Sir George Reid admitted that that was a feature in regard to other kinds of produce, that it did not pertain to fruit alone, and he instanced what occurred when he instituted a very close inquiry into the butter industry. When he came to Tasmania I took the trouble to wait upon him at Launceston, and to urge very strongly the necessity of clearing up these points. He thought he would probably do better if he called the brokers together and had a little hearttoheart talk with them, in order to ascertain their views on the statements made before the Fruit Commission. I objected to that suggestion. I said, “ Naturally these gentlemen are concerned; their interests are not our interests, they will make statements and the position in the end will be’ as you were.’ I think it would be far better if you were to send from your office a competent official who had made a study of our reports and the question generally to inquire and see if he could not get at the truth of these matters.” Let me now tell the Senate what the High Commissioner and his office did.
– Is he corrupt, too; is he guilty of questionable practices, also?
– My honorable friend should hold his tongue.
– No, this is the place where I ought to speak.
– I object to having attributed to me any remark which I did not make or intend to make.
– At the beginning of your speech you expressed dissatisfaction with the High Commissioner.
– I did, and I am giving the Senate the reasons for my dissatisfaction, and probably that is what is unpalatable to my honorable friend. Here is the reply from the High Commissioner’s office in connexion with the important points which we asked to be cleared up in the interests of the producers -
Commonwealth Offices, 72 Victoria-street, Westminster,
London S.W., 4th August, 1914.
Department of External Affairs.
I am directed by the High Commissioner to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 25th June, No. 2696, with which were forwarded : -
Schedule of Fruit Charges, South Australian Government Produce Department, 1914, and in reply to state, for the information of the Minister, that Mr. Tully, a representative fruit-grower of Victoria, has been in England and Germany especially to make inquiries, on behalf of the Victorian fruit-growers, into the matters referred to in the reports of the Commission.
He desires me to add that, in his opinion, only an expert such as Mr. Tully could make a searching inquiry, but if, after referring to him, further information is needed, the High Commissioner will at once proceed to get it.
First, let me take Mr. Tully’s report, which is attached, and which I am prepared to allow any honorable senator to look at. It contains absolutely not one word of information on the matters into which we asked that a thorough inquiry should be made.
– On what is he reporting ?
– He is reporting on the fruit industry, and he carefully hedges round everything but the real issue.
– With which he is connected as a producer.
– I shall deal with Mr. Tully presently, and the evidence he gave before the Fruit Commission. I went carefully through his report. I wanted to see something about questionable practices, consolidated charges, and wholesale and retail agents purchasing and selling together, because these are the things which concern the growers. These were the important things which we wanted investigated in the interests of the growers, and not in the interests of those whom my honorable friend opposite represents.
– Every grocer buys and sells the same commodity.
– The honorable senator is on the defence again. Three times I went through the report of Mr.
Tully to see if I could find anything bearing on the specific questions we put in our memorandum. This is what he said in one passage -
There is keen competition between the auctioneers, and between the auctioneers and private treaty salesmen, and while this continues the growers’ interests will not be neglected. During my stay here I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe that the growers’ interests were being neglected by the salesmen to the advantage of the buyer.
That is a clear enough statement, whitewashing the salesmen, is it not?
– Is there anything wrong with it? How can you go so far as to say that it is whitewashing these people? Do you not believe that Mr. Tully may have honestly penned that sentence after an honest investigation?
- Mr. Tully may be a type of man who is incapable of making a thorough inquiry. He may be one of those simple people who, like my honorable friend, go along and believe everything that persons tell them. Here is the only word of condemnation of Covent Garden that he uses in his report, and we all knew this almost ten years ago -
I might state here, that to my mind Covent Garden is behind all the market’s I visited as regards accommodation and conveniences for public auction sales. I hear it has just changed hands, and hope that under the new management improvements will be made in the interests of those handling Australian fruit.
That is the only passage bearing on the subject at all. There is nothing in the report which will throw any light on the subject, or which will be of material assistance to the fruit-growers of Tasmania.
– Are you sorry that he did not discover any questionable practices; is that it?
– That is not the question at all. We know, and the honorable senator knows too, that the fruitgrower of South Australia is getting ; a service done through a State Department for 3d. for which the fruit-grower in Tasmania and Victoria is paying 7d. or 8d. We want , to know who is getting the difference between the two amounts, and why the State Department in South. Australia is able to do the work so much more cheaply.
– Then why does not every grower send his fruit through that channel ?
– We are getting from the honorable senator a straightout declaration, which we do not often get, as to how he stands behind the financial institutions which practically have dictated to Tasmanian growers, and to politicians, too. This report, and the document from the High Commissioner’s office, show that the latter gentleman has clearly neglected his instructions. For the High Commissioner, who was appointed to superintend and look after the interests of producers, to simply take a printed report which is common property and send that out in response to a clear and specific memorandum like that which we sent is an insult, not only to the Government of the Commonwealth, but to the producers, who are responsible to som-e extent for the present Government being in office.
– You cannot expect Sir George Reid to dine with all the snobs and do your work, too.
– I know that Sir George Reid has the reputation of being an - admirable phrase-maker and a great after-dinner speaker, but my short experience of the work of his office has convinced me that the sooner the Government attempt some reform of the office, and appoint a trade commissioner, who should be a highly qualified business man, to deal with these matters and attend to all our wants in London, the better it will be for Australia.
– In South Australia we had a similar experience.
– That is so. South Australia has done more for producers in regard to distribution than has any other State, and the Commonwealth ought to be glad to co-operate with such an enterprising State in that regard. Let me state the reason why I say that the High Commissioner’s -office is showing signs of incompetency, and why I express surprise at the action .of the High Commissioner himself. In my opinion he should have made some inquiry into the character, the capabilities, and the credentials of Mr. Tully before insulting gentlemen who, at the cost of a good deal of time and labour, went all over Australia and collated evidence, by accepting the printed report of Mr. Tully, and giving us a stone when we asked for bread.
– Why should he insult Mr. Tully?
– In my opinion, Mr. Tully was not competent to make that inquiry.
– Not competent in connexion with an industry “ from which he is getting his living?
– Not as competent aa the honorable senator ?
– No. Unless a man has an accurate knowledge of the export trade in fruit, particularly the business side of the question, he is not worth a snap of the fingers to make an inquiry., and it is absolutely idle to -expect anything useful from him.
– That is a great indictment of most members of the Commission.
– The Commissioners went carefully into the evidence, which was taken on oath, from every point of view, and they were in a position to judge well. The Commission examined Mr. Tully before he was sent Home to investigate the export trade.
– By whom?
– By the Victorian Fruit-growers’ Association - an association such as that which “barracks” for my honorable friend politically in Tasmania; an association run and supported by the present agents, and backed up by big financial institutions.
– All nincompoops and incapables, I suppose?
– No; I do not say any such thing.
– No; but you imply it.
– I say that Mr. Tully is not capable, as I shall proceed to prove by quotations from his evidence before the Fruit Commission. He was examined at Doncaster on the 23rd November, 1912, when Mr. Foster, .the Chairman, put this question - 14405. As growers, have you any grievances in regard to the oversea export trade in fruit? - Personally, I have done very little In the oversea export business. With the exception of one or two experimental shipments that have gone Home, I have practically done nothing.
That is pretty sweeping.
– Did he say how much fruit he grew?
– 1 will give my honorable friend some more evidence, as he evidently needs it. 14406. Do you know of any grievances with respect to the export trade in fruit? - I have heard complaints made to the Central Association’s meetings, but I cannot say that I have any from my own practical experience.
I wanted to be sure on this point, because I had heard Mr. Tully mentioned as an authority, and, therefore, T asked this question - 14528. Have you sent fruit to London yourself? - No, unless you include the Somerset shipment; I had 150 cases in that vessel. 14529. Have yon obtained space for any other grower of fruit here? - No.
So that he had no experience whatever of the export fruit trade, which he was specially sent to England to inquire into. My honorable friend puts his experience against mine, but I am content to let honorable senators judge as to who is best qualified to speak on this question.
– Had the Victorian Fruit-growers Association any acquaintance with Mr. Tully?
– The Fruit-growers Association is largely dominated by Perry and Company, the biggest exporting firm, and their satellites get preferential treatment.
– Do they represent the fruit-growers ? Do they really grow fruit?
– The next question I put was -
Do you know whether the profit of the exporting agents depends on the 3d. per case which they get from the growers? - I could not tell you ; I have no dealings whatever with exporting firms.
– But do the fruitgrowers grow fruit?
– If my honorable friend had any brains he would not need to ask that question.
– I ask it because the honorable senator is trying to mislead the Senate. He is trying to induce honorable senators to believe that fruit-growers know nothing about their own business.
– Members of the Fruit-growers Association may not be fruit-growers themselves.
– Such associations are often composed of middlemen.
– Senator Bakhap is aware of all that, but the evidence I am quoting is not palatable to him, and he has no desire to hear any more of it. I next asked Mr. Tully -
What is the general idea in this district as to what profits the exporting agents get out of the growers who ship fruit oversea?
– That was secondhand evidence.
– That is so, but I wished to know whether this gentleman had even a secondhand knowledge of the subject. His reply to my question was -
I do not think I could give you the name of a grower in Doncaster who is an exporter in the proper sense of the term; we are not an exporting district.
This man is self-confessed without knowledge or experience of the overseas fruit trade. His only experience of the distribution of fruit was “gained by the fact that he had agencies for Inter-State firms in Sydney and Melbourne, and received from 6d. to ls. per case commission. Yet this is the gentleman who has been sent Home to conduct a thorough investigation into the devious methods of the middlemen in London. This is the man from whose reports the High Commissioner quotes in response to demands for information made from Australia.
I say that the sooner we get an inquiry into the conditions obtaining in London the better. I hope that honorable senators representing both sides on the Fruit Commission will take definite steps, as soon as possible, to see that the present Government enable us to obtain what the fruit-growers desire, and that is a knowledge of the true facts. It cannot be harmful to a great and growing industry like the fruit industry to be armed with the fullest knowledge of the ramifications of the distribution of their fruit at Home.
I hope that the present Government will take heed of the requests of the fruit-growers. The agitation is growing in Tasmania. Recently a representative body of one of the most prosperous districts in that State waited upon the State Premier, Mr. J. Earle, to ask him to establish a State Export Department as speedily as possible. Mr. Earle promised that he would do so. Yet. Mr. Earle’s efforts ito establishing a Department, which I hope will eventually be associated with a Federal Trade Commissioner in London, are hindered and hampered by the fact that no complete inquiry has yet been made at the London; end. The Premier of Tasmania told the deputation that waited upon him that until the Federal authorities completed their inquiry he would prefer not to take action. He was perfectly right in adopting that attitude, because we should be in possession of the fullest information before attempting to establish so important a Government enterprise. I hope that the ventilation of the matter will, if it results in nothing else, lead to a reform in the High Commissioner’s Office in London, and to a recognition of the fact that our fruit-growers have genuine and legitimate grievances which ought to be remedied by the democratic Government that now- occupies the Treasury benches in the Federal Parliament.
– This being a motion upon which discussion may roam over a very wide area, alfords us an opportunity to express our gratification at the recent great victory secured in the Indian Ocean, and an opportunity to especially congratulate ourselves upon the fact that the warship which did such fine execution there belonged to the Australian Navy, which came in for such very severe criticism from our opponents on more than one occasion. Many of those who have been opponents of the Australian Naval Unit seem now to be in as bad a case as the Emden, which is on the rocks at Cocos Islands. I regret that when addressing myself to this subject I am confronted by only one member of the party opposite. There is only one worthy and gallant member of that party who is still sticking to his guns. Reading this morning’s newspapers, I have noticed that the origin of the Australian Naval Unit has been brought into question. Leaders of both parties in another place seem to be contending for the authorship of the Australian Navy. It is, in the circumstances, necessary that we should fix with some degree of accuracy the party responsible for the origin of this Navy that has made so brilliant a start in exalting its name and that of Australia the world over. Reading up the reports recently, I found that prominent members of the party in another place that is at present claiming the undivided authorship of the Australian Naval Unit had something very curiously different to say only four or five years ago. During the late Federal elections, and prior to the 5th September, we know that our opponents claimed to be responsible for bringing into being and perfecting the present Australian Naval Unit. It is, I think, right that we should expose the faulty claim set up by the present opponents of the Labour party in Federal politics. I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to what was said by Sir George Reid in this Parliament when the Deakin Government brought down their scheme for the creation of a flotilla as an alternative to continuing the naval subsidy to the Mother Country. It is necessary to say that the Deakin Government at the time was kept in power by Labour votes, and the moment Labour support was withdrawn from it, that Government collapsed badly. In the circumstances, the scheme advanced on that occasion was neither more nor less than a scheme supported, and in a great measure originated, by the Labour party. When the Deakin Government brought down their proposals for the establishment of a flotilla of torpedo-boat destroyers, Sir George Reid, the present High Commissioner, who was then Leader of the Opposition, said, as reported at page 860 of Hansard for that year -
I sum up my attitude upon this subject by stating that I regard these projects for naval and military schemes- which included the nucleus of the present Australian Naval Unit - as wild and impracticable, and as being not founded in necessity or even in prudence, but as arising from an hysterical fear and a craze for militarism that is foreign to the history and spirit of the British race.
There, so late as six years ago, we had the Leader of the party now so anxious to be regarded as the author of the Australian Navy, openly proclaiming that he had no faith whatsoever in the Australian Naval Unit proposed to be established at that time. Other members of the same party, who are prominent now in claiming for it parentage of the Australian Navy, had also something to say on the subject. At page 12081 of Hansard for 1908, it will be found that Mr. Bruce Smith said -
I am satisfied that a majority of this House will not consent to the continuation of the present naval subsidy concurrently with the building of an Australian Navy.
While that is not what might be called a very positive statement, it may be inferred from it that at the time Mr. Bruce Smith was by no means a supporter of the policy then put forward. In the same year - 1908 - Mr. Mcwilliams, a member of the same party, said -
I wish it to be distinctly understood that, so far as I am concerned, acceptance of this vote does not commit this House or Australia to the abrogation of the Naval Agreement or to the creation of a pop-gun navy.
I wonder what Mr. Mcwilliams has to say to-day about the Australian “ popgun Navy.”
– It’s guns have recently popped to some purpose.
- Mr. Tilley Brown, another member of the party, said -
It is all nonsense to talk about this country building up a navy.
We can all recollect the way in which Sir John Forrest, who was Treasurer of the Commonwealth on many occasions, openly expressed his preference for the continuance of the naval subsidy. Nowhere did lie proclaim himself as a believer in an Australian Navy until it was forced upon him by the exertions of the party now occupying the Treasury bench.
– Sir John Forrest said, “ There may be an Australian Navy, but I hope it will not come in my time.”
– I might be excused for forgetting some of the things which Sir John Forrest has said on this point, because he has said so many in bitter opposition to the establishment of an Australian Navy. These doubters of the efficacy of an Australian Naval Unit, these people who, for ihe purpose of touting to what they believed to be the popular temper of the time, opposed the establishment of an Australian Navy, have not a word to say to-day, when it has been demonstrated beyond all doubt to have been one of the wisest steps ever taken by this Parliament at the instance of the Labour party.
– Some Labour members are very quiet about it also.
– It must be admitted that when the Deakin Government took action to establish a flotilla of torpedoboat destroyers, that was certainly a departure from the policy laid down at the institution of Federation, which was to continue the payment of a naval subsidy to the Imperial Government. But, in making that departure, the Deakin Government looked for the support of the Labour party, and every effort was made to oppose it by many who are now loudly claiming to be the originators of the Australian Naval Unit. These people have the power of the press behind them, and the public, by a constant repetition of their story, may be induced to believe it to be true. We have not these powerful press organs at our back. We have only the public platform from which to put our views before the people. But that means has never failed us, and whenever we have availed ourselves of it, we have defeated our opponents on every occasion, and will do so again. We are proud to be associated with the birth of the Australian Naval Unit, and are particularly pleased and gratified at the way in which it is acquitting itself. We hope that it will continue its heroic course, and will succeed in clearing the high seas of all ships that are a menace to the commerce of Australia. In order to bring home to honorable senators the extent to which we might be affected by the work of raiding ships, it is necessary only to say that many of our industries are to-day brought to » state of stagnation owing to the fear of a few of these naval marauders. The timber trade in the Western State has been prejudicially interfered with by the same ship. The timber export industry is a very important factor in the industrial life of that State, and because they could not land their timber in India, the Philippines, or other countries bordered by the Indian Ocean, a number of men were thrown out of employment. All this arose because one ship in one area could not be hunted down until a member of the Australian Naval Unit came along. The same thing applies to the coal trade on the eastern side of the continent. The risks run by colliers in carrying coal from New South Wales have been very serious. Men have been thrown out of employment, and that important industry has been brought to stagnation by the operations of that raiding cruiser, so that, if only from the stand-point of improving the industrial, commercial and social conditions of this country, we have a special reason for congratulating ourselves upon what the Sydney has done.
The greatest and most pressing question of the hour is the need to provide employment for our people. As if the war in itself were not a sufficient calamity, shaking to its foundations the whole social and industrial structure of European life, and affecting us here by its tremors, we are also experiencing the worst drought that ever struck this continent. We have had droughts in the past over restricted areas, but this one stretches from the east to the west, and from north to south, except that, perhaps, Queensland and the hill and river country in New South Wales have escaped, to some extent. But I am credibly informed by a high authority in New South Wales that, whereas they anticipated a yield of 40,000,000 bushels of wheat this year, the actual yield will be about 15,000,000 bushels. That is an astonishing falling-off, and as New South Wales is in a comparatively favorable condition, the effects in Western Australia and ‘South Australia must be simply appalling. Victoria is in an equally bad state, and altogether the position is so acute that, without the war at all, we should have been face to face with a disaster that would test the statesmanship, courage, and determination of every Government in the Commonwealth, State or Federal. While unemployment is not so rife as might be expected, the duty falls on the Federal Government to do something to absorb the idle labour to be found in every State, particularly in Western Australia, and, I believe, in South Australia. We are in a bad condition in the West. I know, of my own knowledge, of a number of men who in ordinary circumstances would be employing labour, and are themselves vainly looking for work. Men who let contracts in the wheat-growing areas had to cancel them when they saw the black prospect in front of them in August and September, and are in the labour market to-day looking for any work that they can find ; but, unfortunately, work is very scarce. To relieve the situation, the Government should consider the wisdom of constructing the transcontinental railway from the centre, as well as from the two ends.
– Why not do something profitable?
– I am sure that would be a profitable work. Like the honorable senator, I have no faith in spasmodic efforts to relieve unemployment by putting men to work on profitless industries. The ideal way to employ idle labour would be to set to work one man who by his labour would be the means of employing a second or third man, but this, at present, the Commonwealth cannot do. It owns no lands, timber resources, or mines. Until the Northern Territory and other territories can be properly developed, it is impotent to give that kind of employment; but to open the transcontinental railway line in the centre would have two or three great advantages. It would, to a great extent, relieve the unemployment difficulty, and obviate the necessity for bringing the material over a long stretch of line from Fremantle to any point beyond Kalgoorlie - about 500 or 600 miles - as the same material could be landed at Eucla and taken over about 50 miles of line. It would entail the building of a jetty, and the laying down of a short line, and, most important of all, it would be the means of overcoming the water difficulty, which will be a very awkward and ever-present trouble in the working of the line. The railway goes through a tract of country that is not well watered.
– It should not have been built for the next thirty years.
– I am glad the honorable senator was not in the Senate when we required every vote to carry the line. Tasmania at -that time returned broad-minded Australians, altogether unlike the honorable senator, and they gave unstinted support to the project. We are indebted to them for their votes, and Western Australia will always keenly remember the support they gave to this great national work, which is going to link the east to the west, and open up areas of country that will carry a large and prosperous population. The honorable senator’s belated advice is quite ineffective, and the project will go on whether he is here or not. The day when the voice of the little Australian was heard in this Parliament is gone, and the honorable senator’s occupation in that role is gone also. In advocating the starting of work on the line in the middle, I am not thinking only of the needs of the unemployed in Western Australia, because the matter is of interest to men in all the States. Queensland senators should remember that many Queenslanders went to the West in years gone by, and some of them are now feeling the pinch there in common with others. The Prime Minister was favorably inclined to this course when he was in the West recently, and made a declaration to that effect, but at that time we were not feeling the effects of the disastrous calamity that has overtaken us at such short notice. I hope the Government will take into consideration the wisdom of absorbing- the present idle labour by opening up that great work from the centre, at the same time overcoming the water difficulty in the construction of the road, and lowering the cost of the transport of material.
People engaged in primary industries throughout the Commonwealth, with the exception of Queensland, are very severely handicapped by the drought. We are short of horse feed in the West. The price per ton in Perth is about £9, and goes- as high as £11, £12, or even £13 by the time it is. landed on the farms, timber areas, or gold-fields. In Victoria the average price of mediumquality chaff is about £6 a ton. In South Australia it is a little more, and the prospects are anything but bright or hopeful. The general belief ds that, we shall be short of fodder throughout Australia unless something is done to supplement the supply already in hand. The average price .of chaff in normal times is about £3 a ton, so that there has been a clear increase of 100 per cent, already in the cost of this very necessary commodity here in Melbourne. Why do we frame a Customs schedule? Surely not that it may remain, unalterable, like the laws, of the Medes and Persians. It is framed to suit the exigencies of the time, and in. normal seasons we adhere to it. But when abnormal seasons are experienced, it becomes necessary for us to depart from it. Now the duty upon hay and chaff to-day is £1 per ton, and we know that attempts have been made to corner this commodity. The cunning gentlemen who are engaged in commerce have very little consideration for the public welfare. If ever their interests clash with the public welfare there is hardly a man engaged in the mercantile world today who will not favour his private interests.
– Nor in any other world.
– I will not say that. I believe there are idealists in every walk of life-. But particularly in the commercial world we may be sure that when a man sees a chance of making a large profit for himself, he will not be restrained from doing so by regard for the public welfare. His mission is to make money all the time, and he is about to make it to-day. I know of stocks of hay and chaff which have been held up notwithstanding that the- price of those commodi ties in Western Australia is higher than it has been for years, if we except the period which marked the early development of the gold-fields, when the price of commodities was not such a serious matter as it is. now. I would like to see the situation relieved by the suspension of the fodder duties in. order that we. may admit the large stock of fodder which is obtainable in New Zealand. In South Africa diseases of every kind are prevalent, and consequently it would be a dangerous policy to admit fodder from that country. But in the South Island of New Zealand the price of fodder to-day is about £3 per ton, whereas similar fodder is being sold in Melbourne for £6 per ton and a little more.
– What would be the cost of carriage?
– It would be about 27s. or 30s. per ton. The fodder could be landed here at anything from £4 10s. to £4 15s. per ton. If we abolish the duties upon fodder we will certainly reduce the price of these commodities to the consumer to the extent of chose duties, provided that the manipulators do not corner them in New Zealand. If we remit the duties, and allow New Zealand fodder to come in free, it will be the means of keeping the prices in Australia within reasonable bounds. Then the competition which will be brought into play will have a very beneficial effect from the stand-point of those who want horse-feed1 and who otherwise will allow their land to remain idle. The stocks are not visible in Australia which will warrant the price of fodder being kept at a reasonable figure unless some action such as that which I have outlined be taken. A twofold benefit would be conferred by the suspension of the fodder duties at the present time. In the first place, there would be a reduction in the price to the farmers of Australia, and a steadying effect would also be exercised on the price of chaff and other commodities. I hope that this matter will be earnestly considered by the Senate. At the present time those who hold stocks of fodder throughout the Commonwealth are men of substantial means, whereas those who are in need of fodder are strugglers in the truest sense of the word. They are men from every walk of life - men who have taken a few hundred pounds from the city or from the mines, to settle upon the land-, and who happen to have been at once struck with a bad season. I know of hundreds of such individuals in Western Australia to-day. By suspending the fodder duties we shall be helping the small man, the struggler, the pioneer - the individual who is passing through the trying stage of settlement - as against the person who is almost on the point of dictating his own terms to his more necessitous neighbours. Anybody who has visited the Pinnaroo lands in South Australia, or the Mallee country in Victoria, will know that the men who stand in need of relief to-day are those who have just started farming operations, and who have had the misfortune to feel the effects of the few bad seasons that we have recently experienced. If from no other stand-point than that of encouraging this class of settler throughout Australia to bring under cultivation a larger area than he otherwise would do, we ought to suspend the fodder duties. I trust that the Government will take note of what I have said. I believe that if these duties are suspended the area under cultivation throughout the Commonwealth will be increased, that the burden thrown on the consumers will be lightened, and that the competition thus brought about will have a beneficial effect on the settlers engaged in our primary industries.
– Parliament did not hold that opinion in 1902.
– But the 1902 drought was nothing compared with the present drought. Indeed, in that year Western Australia had no drought, but rather one of its best seasons.
– And all the other parts of Australia were drought stricken.
– New South Wales and Queensland had a better time. The area has been vastly extended on the present occasion. Even the island State of Tasmania was affected by the drought. But our inaction in 1902 ought not to be regarded as a bar to action on the present occasion. I say, unhesitatingly, that the Tariff was framed to meet the conditions which obtained in normal years. The price of fodder in Western Australia is £10 per ton.
– In 1902 fodder was a long way dearer in the eastern States than it is to-day.
– Have the Government power to suspend the fodder duties?
– I am appealing to the Government to take a lead in this matter, and to recognise that we are up against no ordinary situation. I hope that the Minister of Defence will take action very soon.
There is just one other matter with which I desire to deal. I trust that the Government will take into early consideration the advisableness of establishing horse-breeding stations in the Northern Territory. We have had ample evidence of the need which exists for them. I have seen horses for which the Defence Department recently paid up to £30 - horses for which I would not give £10. I do not blame the present Government for this, because these animals were purchased during the term of office of the late Ministry. But something should be done to prevent the Defence authorities being dependent in future upon private individuals for their supply of horses. In the Northern Territory splendid areas are available for horsebreeding depots. The same remark is applicable to a large territory adjacent to the route of the transcontinental railway. The establishment of horsebreeding stations would prevent the Government being victimized again. I have been told by one man who was commissioned to buy horses for the Government that the class of animals recently supplied to them, and the prices charged for those animals, constituted a scandal. Of course, he also referred to those patriotic citizens who offered to make a present to the Defence Department of ten war horses. He added that he had seen some of these horses in Melbourne, for which he would not give 30s. each. But the squatters who made these offers got a great advertisement out of them.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Does the honorable senator know that what he states is a fact, because he may be making an attack on individuals which may be absolutely unfounded?
– I did not name an individual.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is not much encouragement for persons to help.
– The gentleman who gave me the information is a solid political supporter of the honorable senator, if that is any news to him.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That makes no difference.
– I discovered verysoon the political leanings of the gentleman. He had no time for the party who now occupy the Treasury bench; in fact, he could not contain himself regarding that party. At the same time, he was honest enough to expose and criticise the tactics and methods of a gentleman on his own political side in giving to the Commonwealth horses which were not worth, as he said, 30s. each.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Yes; but he may have been a rival or an enemy of the man he was criticising.
– He was asked by the previous Government to come down and judge the horses. I will give his name to the honorable senator if he likes.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I do not want to know his name; but it is unfair to attack a man in that way.
– The honorable senator will not force me to back down. I am only telling him what I heard. The statement of this gentleman exposed the means and the tactics of men who were trying to unload horses on to the Commonwealth, and at the same time to get praise to which they were not entitled. It also exposed the weakness of the Commonwealth Government in relying on private suppliers of horses at a critical time. I hope that the Minister of Defence is :alive now to the necessity of .taking early action to get a piece of land for horsebreeding purposes, either in the Northern Territory or along the transcontinental railway, or even in North Queensland. It is immaterial to me where the land is obtained, provided that the situation is suitable. But I understand that the country beyond the Macdonnell Ranges, in the Northern Territory, is the best part of Australia for raising a hardy type of horses for remounts. I have repeated my suggestion in order to refresh the memory of the Minister, and I hope that early action will be taken.
Senator STORY (South Australia) (5.43]. - I am very glad that Senator Lynch has referred to the subject of horse breeding, because recently I addressed a question to the Minister of Defence. It is not long since I came across some articles which were written to the Adelaide Daily Herald by a gentleman who signs himself “A. Brumby.”
– That is a good lame
– Of course, it is not the name of the gentleman, but I happen to know that he has had a wide experience. Having travelled all over the centre of Australia in various avocations, such as mail-driving and droving, he is undoubtedly a good judge of horse-flesh and country. I ask honorable senators to listen to an extract from one of his articles -
The position is this : The Federal Government own the best horse-breeding grounds in Australia, or in the world, taking Alice Springs as a centre and a base, then south to Charlotte Waters, and sweeping west and round Ayre Rock outside, Erldunda, Tempe Downs to Glen Helen on the west, sweeping round by Ana Reservoir to the north at Tennant Creek, round east to the Queensland border - say Bendiacca, where the owners of Sandringham bred race and stock horses - an irregular sweep could be made south to Charlotte Waters only that at present that country is in the development stage, and is handicapped by great sandhills and salt lakes. Thus it will be seen there is an enormous scope of already proved horse-breeding grounds right in the centre of Australia.
While not pretending to be an authority on military strategy, would not such a base for horse-breeding as Alice Springs be of equal value to all Australia in an emergency_in that the reserves of remounts, transports, and artillery horses would be equi-distant, in that such horses could be sent to Port Darwin, south to Port Augusta, east to Townsville, Rockhampton, or Brisbane, or west via Tanami to Port Hedland, Broome, Derby, or Wyndham. It is simply a matter of well watered stock routes until railways are available.
There is no reason why the Federal Government should not go in for experimental horsebreeding farms, and that breeders and intending breeders should be advised of the success or failure of such undertakings, for at most it should be only experimental.
I might mention that the writer does not approve of the Federal Government engaging in horse breeding. He belongs to a class of Socialists who believe that the Federal Government should establish farms, send up valuable stallions, prove that the industry can be profitably carried on, and let private enterprise take all the profit. Dealing with the same question, he offers another suggestion which may appeal to the Minister of Defence. He says -
The Postmaster-General has now sole control of the Postal Departments of Australia and its mail services. Hundreds of mail contracts are let periodically. Why not let them to a Military Department? A military mail service between Oodnadatta and Darwin would keep about 1,000 head of horses in turns in collar in nice working fettle, grass-fed only, and would just about pay expenses. For a fortnightly service, coming in and going out at each end, it would take about twelve coaches, leaving one at each terminus, for emergency breakdowns, sixty or ninety sets of harness, according to six or nine horses three abreast. That would be the main mail contract; but there are numerous places outback all over the Commonwealth that could also benefit with a mail service.
– Do they not run a horse mail service there?
– This gentleman is suggesting that for the purpose of preparing horses for the Military Department they could be broken by that method, and that we could have a horse service right through. The suggestion, although I do not indorse it altogether, is, I think, one worthy of consideration by the Minister of Defence. I ask him to confer with the Postmaster-General as to whether something in that direction could not be done. It is known - at any rate, it ought to be known - that prior to Federation the telegraph stations on the overland line were utilized by the Government of South Australia as horsebreeding stations. A very large number of excellent horses were bred there at a very low cost, not only for the Postal Department, but for other Departments in the Public Service of the State. I want to offer another suggestion to the Minister of Defence. Even if the suggestion regarding the mail contract is not feasible he might arrange with the Postmaster-General that to each telegraph station a certain number of brood mares and stallions could be sent, and in that way a large number of horses could be bred every year at a low cost indeed to the Government. The operations could be extended from time to time without incurring very much expense. Any one who is acquainted with horse-breeding or droving generally in the centre of Australia knows that the natives can be utilized in that kind of work with very great advantage. It would simply be necessary to employ one or two white men who thoroughly understood the business of horse-breeding, and, apart from wages, the only expense would be that of fencing paddocks. I feel sure that it would be found by the Government a very profitable undertaking if started in that way. I am led to understand that the employes of some of the telegraph stations are allowed to breed horses for sale, and thus get a certain amount of profit. In the case of a Government, which is called Socialistic, and which, at any rate, is not afraid to try experiments, I do not think it necessary to urge upon either the Minister of Defence or the Postmaster-General the desirability of making an experiment in the direction I have suggested. In. my opinion the Northern Territory does not receive from the Federal Parliament or the Federal Government the consideration which it deserves. It is now about four years since the Commonwealth took over the administration of that great province, containing over 520,000 miles, including thousands of square miles of some of the best pastoral country in Australia.
– Of which class?
– In the Northern Territory there are tens of thousands of square miles of some of the richest mineral country in Australia.
– Why did South Australia give it up ?
– For a national reason.
– The country in the Macdonnell Ranges possesses the finest climate to be found in any part of Australia.
– You spell the reason with three letters - L S. D.
– If honorable senators would take the trouble to read the report of the Commission appointed by the previous Fisher Government to investigate the Northern Territory, they would obtain a lot of information. I would not attempt to educate members of the Senate if they would only read publications which are supplied to them. But in order to stimulate their desire to learn more, I intend to quote a few lines of evidence which are embodied in the report of the Northern Territory Railways and Ports Commission, which was disbanded at very short notice by the Cook Government. I propose to deal with the southern and central divisions, because that is the part which I suggest the Government should immediately utilize for the purpose of horsebreeding -
William Richard. Murray, surveyor, Department of Forests, South Australia, in his evidence, said -
There is country to the north, of the Macdonnell Ranges where I have seen grass you could mow, and that country is unoccupied. There is some fair coun- try also in the vicinity of the Truer Ranges which is untouched at the present time.
William James Magarey, chairman of the Crown Pastoral Company, which holds an area of between 6,000 and 7,000 square miles, in two holdings known as Bond Springs and Crown Point, stated -
At the present time the two holdings carried about 10,500 head of cattle and 1,800 horses. On an average they sent away about 1,500 head of fats per year, but in bad seasons they were obliged to hold them over or sell as stores. With a railway from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges this country would carry many more stock, because necessary improvements in providing water would be possible.
Robert McEwin, fruit-grower and pastoralist, had been director of the Willowie Pastoral Company, which owned Undoolya Station, and had ridden about 400 miles over the Macdonnell Ranges, said -
The country in the ranges and round about is very good indeed. All kinds of grass seem to thrive there - Mitchell grass on the plains and on the hills, silver grass and other varieties, similar to those growing in the Mr Lofty ranges. The country so impressed me that I took up an additional 2,000 miles. This was in 1900. I have no direct personal interest there now, but would like to have if a railway were put through. I was so impressed with the possibilities of the country that I promoted a company to construct the railway north and south on the land grant system.
B. Wells, mining agent, Adelaide, referring in his evidence to the Macdonnell Ranges, said -
Taking them as a whole (outside of the quartzite ranges, on which nothing grows, and over the whole schist country) they form the finest belt of pastoral country I have ever seen in my life. I have travelled for 150 miles east and north-east from Alice Springs, with feed up to my horse’s, knees at nearly every place I went to. The country east of Star Creek at the present time carries not a hoof of stock. The only drawback to the stocking of that country is the want of permanent water, the difficulties of getting machinery up for sinking and boring, and the great cost. There is no doubt there are scores of places where artesian supplies could be obtained.
C. E. Gee, Chief Registrar of Mines, South Australia, in his evidence, stated -
The country round Hergott did not look well, but from about the Coward northward right to Arltunga feed is luxuriant and water abundant-that was whenI was up in March. When I came down in December of the same year the country was dry in parts, and had I written my description then I might not have been so enthusiastic. The Macdonnell Ranges struck me as beinga most wonderful place for horse-breeding.
So far as official records show, there are only 11,000 sheep in the southern part of the Northern Territory, inclusive of the Macdonnell Ranges.
Simpson Newland, pastoralist, of Adelaide, stated in evidence -
South of the Macdonnell Ranges the country ispastoral, and the whole of it could be. The Macdonnell Range countryisfirst class pastoral country, and was capable, with railway communication, of carrying a large number of sheep.
J. Magarey, chairman of the Crown Pastoral Company, Adelaide, stated -
If we have a railway a lot of the Macdonnell Range country would be put under sheep.
McEwin, of Adelaide, said -
The Macdonnell Ranges is thebest horse country I have ever seen, and right through that country sheep and cattle do well.
I need not. multiply the number of witnesses who have seen this country and have testified to its value. On a previous occasion I brought under the notice of members of this Chamber the evidence of various gentlemen interested in minerals, and among them the Inspector of Mines of South Australia, and the Warden of that State, Mr. Winnecke, who spent over three years in the Macdonnell Ranges. They had all testified to the fact that these ranges are very rich in minerals. Over forty mines were opened up and worked, and stone returning from1/2 an ounce to 2 ounces or 3 ounces per ton was discovered and operated upon. The reason why the field went down as a mineral field and miners left it was the exorbitant charges made for taking stores and machinery from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges.
– What particular field is the honorable senator referring to?
– The Arltunga field, in the Macdonnell Ranges. The cost of carriage was1s. per ton per mile, and that meant a cost of from £17 to £20 per ton for every ton of goods or machinery carted from Oodnadatta to the field, with somewhat similar charges for the back journey.
– Arltunga was never a very productive gold-field.
– There are large bodies of stone there now that would go from1/2 an ounce to 2 ounces per ton, but the evidence of experts goes to show that it would not pay to treat stone on that field yielding less than 1 ounce to the ton.
– Some years ago there was a considerable boom of Arltunga. Various mining experts who visited the field did uo+ report very favorably upon it.
– 1 “cm refer Senator Bakhap to a number of reports, which I am prepared to furnish to him this afternoon, if he will undertake to read them.
– Two ounces per ton in a big body of stone would represent an important mine anywhere in the world.
– Of course I understand that, but Senator Bakhap should know that a gold-field that otherwise would pay handsomely to work, and would employ thousands of men, may be unprofitable to work if it is unduly expensive to get stores and machinery to it.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the difficulty of getting to Arltunga is greater than the difficulty of getting to Bie Klondyke?
– No; I do not.
– Miners have gone to the Klondyke.
– I say that the difficulties are so great that they have prevented the development of this rich mineral country. Senator Lynch has suggested that, in order to absorb the unemployed, work on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway should be started in the middle. That might be a good thing to do, but I think it would be surrounded with great difficulty, whilst there are no difficulties whatever in the way of continuing northwards a line from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges. All who have seen the country agree that within 20 miles of Oodnadatta the country improves considerably.
– The honorable senator admits that it would need to.
– While I am prepared to admit that, I wish it to be understood that the country about Oodnadatta is not nearly so bad as it has been painted. There is no grass there, certainly, but there is magnificent herbage, and it is splendid sheep and cattle country. The herbage that grows in that so-called desert country has better fattening qualities than the grass that grows in Queensland.
– Does the herbage grow there all the year round ?
– Yes, all the year round; it never dies.
– What is the rainfall ? Does the honorable senator not think that he is spoiling bis case by overdoing it?
– The Government might at small expense, continue the line from Oodnadatta northwards for 50 or 100 miles. The great obstacle between Oodnadatta and the Macdonnell Ranges is the number of sand hills which have to be crossed. If the sand-hill country could be bridged over by a railway, traffic on the other side for teams would be easy, and carriage might be reduced to half the present cost.
– Is there only 20 miles of sand-hill country?
– I think so.
– So the State Government of South Australia stopped short of success for the sake of 20 miles of railway construction.
– The South Australian Government stopped the construction of the line at Oodnadatta because they could not afford to carry it further. There had been a number of very bad seasons, and it was too big an undertaking for the State of South Australia to continue the transcontinental line to the north unaided. For that reason a number of leading men in the State endeavoured to have the line constructed on the land-grant system, although there was a lot of opposition to its construction on that system.
– They did not get even a decent offer for the line on that system.
– In reply to that interjection, I may say that the reason the line was not constructed ou the land-grant system was that the State Government would not give the projected company an assurance that the land they were to get for constructing the line would never be taxed. If they had been given that assurance the line would have been constructed over twenty years ago, and the whole of that rich country would have been opened up.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It is a pity they did not get that assurance.
– I do not think so. The land was too valuable to give away under such conditions. It will be found to be a valuable asset for the Federal Government as soon as the line is pushed on from Oodnadatta into the Macdonnell Ranges. Mr. Graham Stewart surveyed the route, and prepared an estimate of the cost. In the concluding paragraph of his report he made a suggestion to the South Australian Government which I pass on to the Federal Government. He says that the work can be started immediately, because before the line can be built it will be necessary to send a number of men along the route to build dams in order to conserve water for railway purposes. I suggest to the Federal Government that they might adopt this proposal of Mr. Graham Stewart, and send a number of the unemployed from Adelaide, Melbourne, and anywhere else to construct dams along the proposed route between Oodnadatta and Arltunga. That would absorb unemployed labour in valuable work for the Commonwealth. I do not wish to take up too much of the timo of the Senate in referring to-day to the Northern Territory. I have evidence to back up all I have said to prove that it is the richest part of Australia. I might occupy the time of the Senate for days in giving the testimony of men who have seen the country and are competent to express an opinion upon it. Yesterday I asked a question of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, as representing the Minister of External Affairs, and was asked to give notice of the question. I did not think that notice was necessary, because I merely asked whether the Minister could inform the Senate as to when it was likely we should get another report from the Administrator of the Northern Territory. If the Minister had said that he did not know, but that he would make inquiries, that would have been a satisfactory answer. I have looked up the last report of the Administrator, and I find that it is dated March, 1913. It is now November, 1914, and I do not think that the Northern Territory is getting a fair deal when an interval of a year and nine months is allowed to elapse between one report on it and the next. It would be of very great assistance to members of this Parliament if the Administrator were to furnish quarterly reports of the progress of the Territory. He is being paid a large salary, and is given a large staff. In the Supply Bill now under consideration we are asked to vote £20,000 as one month’s
Supply, covering the salaries of the Administrator and his officers, and yet we have had no report upon the Territory since March, 1913.
– The honorable senator knows that the Federal Government is spending a good deal of money on the Northern Territory.
– I grant that; but I wish to know how that money is being spent. When we have a clerical staff up there, it is not too much to ask that the Administrator should be called on to furnish quarterly reports of progress in the Territory. We get periodical reports from the Home Affairs Department concerning the progress of public works throughout Australia. Mr. Knibbs furnishes periodical reports of the work of his Department, and I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to bring under the notice of the Minister of External Affairs the fact that it would grreatly assist members of the Senate and honorable members in another place if the Administrator of the Northern Territory were called upon to furnish reports of what is being done there more frequently, at all events, than he has done up to the present time. I rose to induce honorable members” to read up some of the literature available in connexion with this great province of ours. Four years have elapsed since we took it over, and I remind the Senate that one of the conditions made between the Commonwealth Parliament and the South Australian Parliament was that a railway should be constructed through the country, north and south, as soon as possible. This, if not stated, was implied.
-Colonel Sir Albert
Gould. - It is almost as bad as the Federal Capital, the erection of which in New South Wales was made a condition of the Constitution.
– The advocates of the Federal Capital and the east-west railway have lost no opportunity of pointing out that it was a breach of faith not to fulfil 6he terms of what they call the contract.
– The Constitution provides in regard to the Federal Capital.
– Canberra is not mentioned in the Constitution. Certainly the Capital had to be in New South Wales, and no one objected to >fc being there, but some members of thi9 and another place felt that there was no hurry. I see no immediate hurry for pushing on with the construction of the Capital at Canberra. It is not nearly as important to have the Capital there as it is to open up the great northern province. Darwin, one of the finest ports in Australia, so long as it remains undefended, is a standing menace to Australia. Until we get a line through, there is no other means of defending it than the Navy; yet some people say there is no hurry. It is infinitely more important that the railway should be put through from Port Augusta to Darwin than that the Federal Capital should be completed. In the Governor-General’s Speech Mie Government propose to develop the Northern Territory, and I am not complaining of what they have done. All I say is that it is urgent that they should give effect to that line in the Speech, and endeavour to develop the Territory in every way as early ?,s possible.
– I have listened, with considerable interest to the representatives of Western ‘ Australia and. South Australia giving the Government counsel as to how they should deal with the unfortunate condition of unemployment so rife in the Commonwealth. I have little doubt that before the debate closes other honorable senators will tell the Government how profitably money might be expended in their States to provide work for the unemployed. When I rose Senator Bakhap also rose, and I have no doubt that when- his turn comes he will be able to tell the .Government how money may be profitably spent in the little island State. The trouble with all these political nostrums to which we have been listening is that there is nothing permanent about them. Not even the most ardent advocate of the eastwest railway claims that it will pay interest or even meet the cost of running during the next fifty years. It will bc a dead weight on the Commonwealth for a considerable period. Notwithstanding the glowing pictures painted by Senator Story of the glories of Oodnadatta, I can remember the place well. No doubt the scenery was beautiful, and everything else magnificent, but, unfortunately, we could see nothing for the sand. The honorable senator tells us now that if we had gone 20 miles further we should have reached the Garden of Eden or the Promised Land. The South Australian Government managed the rich Northern Territory for thirty or forty years, and did nothing with it but pile up a handsome debt, which they unloaded on the Commonwealth at the earliest opportunity.
– They did not hand it over to the black-labour exploiters.
– I am not sure that they are entitled, to any credit even for that. I believe that if the terms had been sufficiently good they would have handed it over to any exploiter, and would not have cared two straws whether his colour was black, brown, or brindle. I have seen quite enough of the representatives of South Australia in this chamber to have a clear estimate of their political character. The time has arrived for the Commonwealth to grapple, so far as it is able, in some sensible businesslike fashion with the question of unemployment. We are unfortunately at war with two of the greatest Powers in Europe. The war will take probably 200,000 of our men before we are through, with it - at least, that is the opinion expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in another place. It will take a large amount of money, and drain our country of men and resources. We have that evil to deal with on the one hand, and, on the other, we have the more immediate evil of the drought. The only remedy that honorable senators who have spoken have to offer is temporary employment on railways, which will not pay for the next fifty years. We are piling up a debt that is beyond all reason. Like the man who pawned his shirt, we are at the end of our tether. At the first shock of disaster almost every State in the Commonwealth is at its wits’ end to know how to- get money to carry on with. Consider the razzle-dazzle that has been going on in New South Wales for the last few years. Millions of pounds have been borrowed by the State Government which, if they had been wisely expended, would now, instead of requiring other millions to be poured in to keep labour employed, have produced labour for others in their turn.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Burrenjuck scheme will not pay?
– The £30,000,000 that has been borrowed by the New South
Wales Government in recent years has not all been spent on the Burrenjuck scheme, If it had been, I should have said that the Government were wise, always supposing that they had resumed - before expending the money - the areas which were to be benefited by its expenditure. If they have not done this, and do not intend to impose a land value tax, which will gather in to the community the value created by the expenditure-
– The land at Yanco is all leasehold.
– I understood that the bulk of it was privately owned.
– It was privately owned, and has been resumed.
– Are they selling it, or leasing it again ?
– They are leasing it.
– Then the arrangement, if carried out properly, is a very good one. The New South Wales Government would have acted very foolishly, and even criminally, if they used the money of the people as a whole to enrich a few-, because that would have happened if the money were spent without some arrangement, such as Senator Millen has just indicated. If all the money borrowed in New South Wales had been spent in this scheme, or in schemes like it, it would have been wisely spent, and produced a most excellent result, but I am not sure that that is the case. In Western Australia borrowed money has been . largely expended during the last few years, and the Government are at the end of their tether. They do not know where to turn or what to do. They are in Queer-street right away, and the same thing, although not perhaps to quite such an acute extent, can be said about South Australia, and even about Victoria. The only solvent State is Queensland, and I do not believe that that condition is due to good government. The Government of Queensland is just as rotten and inefficient as the Government of any other State, but her resources are, I believe, greater than the resources of any of the others, and while the others have had tire disadvantages of the drought Queensland has been blest with a fair amount of -rain. But, as I was going to point out, at the first shock of disaster Australian industry is practically in a state of paralysis. That ought not to be the case in a rich young country such as? Australia is.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company are not in that condition.
– They are doing well, but they have a monopoly, not only of the production, but of the distribution of a commodity which everybody must use, and they would be a fool of a company if they did not do well. I think that we ought to try to get to the root of the trouble which afflicts Australia. It is idle for us to continue surface treatment. I believe that we have in Australia a greater mileage of railways than is required to carry ten times our present population. I have been up and down every State of the Commonwealth, and the one thing that has astonished me has been its great empty spaces - millions of acres, in which one cannot see a house, a cultivated field, or a beast - nothing but waving trees and grass. A very great portion of this country is eminently fitted for occupation. While such a state of things continues, we cannot have prosperity.
– Why not tax those who do not use their lands?
– There used to be a gentleman in this Chamber for whom I entertained the highest respect, and! who, upon every occasion I mentioned the land tax, was wont to exclaim “ King Charles’ head.” My reply invariably was a reminder that King Charles’ head ultimately came off; and I believe that a land monopoly tax will ultimately come off. The time has gone by for dealing gingerly with a question of this kind. Why are the Government afraid to tackle this question of land monopoly? What has the land monopolist ever done for Labour? I am not surprised when the gentlemen who occupied the Treasury bench a short time ago stand behind the land monopolist; hut when I find the Labour party standing behind him, refusing to attack him, and declining to deal with the greatest evil which exists in Australia, I begin to wonder what is wrong.
– The honorable senator is only “beginning” to wonder?
– I have been wondering a long time, and I have not quite .finished yet. Probably I ratu finish some day when the reform which I desire to see effected has been accomplished. I ask honorable senators in all seriousness, “ Why should the Labour party stand behind’ land monopolists? Everybody who has given the slightest consideration to this subject must come to the conclusion that the locking up of our lands is doing more injury to Australia than is anything else.
– It is not a question of driving people into our cities; the position is that we cannot drive them out.
– (I know that what the honorable senator says is correct. When people get into our cities, it is extremely difficult to drive them out. But, instead of making it easy for them to get upon the land, existing conditions render it exceedingly difficult.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 till 8 p.m.
– There is no doubt some disinclination on the part of persons who have experienced the pleasures of city life to settle in the bush, and when Ave consider the disabilities under which they labour - disabilities which could be easily avoided in a new country like Australia - we need not be surprised at the attitude which is taken up by a number of possible settlers. Now I think that the policy of the Commonwealth in regard to land settlement ought to be one which would make it as easy and as pleasant and profitable as possible for the settlers themselves. But, instead of this condition of affairs, the very opposite obtains. In most of the States any person who desires to take up land is compelled to go a very considerable distance from the railway line - anything from 10 miles up to 40 or 50 miles. That is altogether too far for a small settler. In most cases, not only is the soil inferior, but it is heavily covered with timber of poor quality - it is waterless, being more or less outside the rainfall area. In addition to this, the roads are frequently bad, and there is very little opportunity for settlers to educate their children. They are isolated, being far removed from a post-office or a store, and from every other convenience of civilization. That is the kind of life to which the land system operative in Australia condemns the settler and his family. In these circumstances, I am not surprised that people are not inclined to take up country life, and that if the opportunity offers they prefer to accept a billet in town. I repeat that our policy should be to make country life as pleasant and profitable as possible, so that people who would otherwise remain in the city will be glad to go into the bush and make a living for themselves and their families. I claim that the Commonwealth Parliament is the only Parliament in Australia which has the power of effectively dealing with the land question. Of course, I may be told that it does not control a single acre of land outside its own territory. That is perfectly true. But, as against that, this Parliament has a power of taxation which, if put into full effect, will result in the unlocking of every acre of land from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. The State Parliaments have the power to deal with their lands more effectively than has this Parliament. But, with three exceptions, the States have Conservative Governments in power, and even those exceptions are of very recent creation. Only a few years ago the Governments of every one of the States were composed of Conservatives who had been brought up under the system of land monopoly, and who were themselves land monopolists.
– And the three exceptions to which the honorable senator has referred are in the hands of the Legislative Councils.
– If the honorable senator will permit me, I prefer to pursue this matter in my own way.
– I am endeavouring to help the honorable senator a little.
– Senator de Largie cannot do very much to help me, aud I would get along much better without his help. I wish to tell him that I will not pay any attention to any more interjections which he may choose to make. This is a serious question. I regret that many honorable senators do not appear to regard it in that light. It is the most serious question that this Parliament can consider. In the past all of our Australian Parliaments have been in the hands of land monopolists. At the present time we have three Labour Governments in office, but, unfortunately, those Governments are in the hands of the Legislative Councils of their States, and are therefore powerless to do anything effective. Consequently, this Parliament is the only body which can effectively deal with the question of land monopoly. Why does not the present Government deal with it? At the present time the party to which I have the honour to belong have a majority in both Houses. We have an assured majority in one Chamber for six years, and an assured majority in another place for three years. Some time ago we occupied an exactly similar position. On that occasion we made an attempt to mitigate the evil of land monopoly. But I claim that that attempt has not been successful - that it has accomplished nothing in the direction of breaking down land monopoly. It is true that we obtained a few million pounds revenue from it. But the prime object of land value taxation in the present stage of Australian development is not revenue, but settlement. As I pointed out a very short time ago, the area of land in Australia which is paying the tax - that is, the area represented by estates of more than £5,000 unimproved value - is actually larger to-day than it was when the land tax was imposed. The only conclusion I can draw from that is that the tax has not been effective; that it has not succeeded in its purpose. If that is the case, what is the evident duty of the Labour party. To increase the tax, surely, and to make it effective. I can remember the time many years ago before it was dreamed that the Labour party could ever achieve power. What was the cry of Labour men then in regard to land monopoly? They painted the evils of land monopoly in the most lurid colours. They foretold that when a Labour Government got into power a death-blow would be struck at land monopoly. I was one of those who took part in that cry, and I believed in the sincerity of the party at that period. I lived in the hope that the moment we had the opportunity we would act. We did get power some time ago, and we refused or belied the fond anticipations of many of us. We are in power to-day ; we were in power some time ago, and we refused for one reason or other to act. Of course, I am not in the minds of honorable senators. I do not know what they are thinking about - whether it is that they do not believe in their platform, or whether it is that they are afraid of the land monopolist. Whatever the reason is, I find that when they have an opportunity to deal a death-blow at the greatest enemy that the Commonwealth has at the present time, they hold their hand. Now, if the Allies were able to defeat the Kaiser in a pitched battle, and did not do it, what would we accuse them of ? Would we not accuse them of the rankest treachery to their countries? Of course we would. When the Labour party in the Commonwealth - in power as it is - does not deal a death-blow at land monopoly it is just as surely guilty of treachery to the people of the country as the allied armies would be in similar circumstances. That is the position, and it is a most discreditable one for the party to be in. I do not relish talking in this way at all. I only do’ so because I find, from the head of the party downwards, that there is an idea permeating their minds that the land monopolist is only to be touched and attacked in the last resort. He ought to be the first resort. Any Labour Government or party which does not proceed to deal with this question whenever it gets a chance, is faithless to the people. We were talking about the unwillingness of persons to go on the land. No doubt it is quite true that a large number of persons will not go on the land. It is also true that many of those who are on the land, the sons and daughters of farmers, drift into the city. Why do they do so ? Is it because they hate country life? Is it because they desire to get into the streets of our big towns? That may be the case with some of them, but with regard to the great majority, the fact is that they cannot get the opportunity of settling on the soil. I have here a little pamphlet published by a man who lives in Victoria, and who has a most intimate knowledge of matters so far as the land question in this State is concerned. He says distinctly that the sons of the farmers are pouring into the towns and engaging in town industries for no other reason than that it is impossible for them to get land at anything like a decent price.
– We send a lot of our sons to Queensland.
– I believe that in South Australia are millions of acres of land which should be occupied by those sons. In some of the districts of Victoria there are to my certain knowledge hundreds of men. - I am not sure that there are not thousands - who are making a living on areas of from 3 to 20 acres of land.
– The honorable senator, who is a Victorian, ought to have some knowledge of this question. I did not want to exaggerate. If that is the case, surely it points to the fact that Victoria is capable of maintaining a much larger population than at Las now. What I want to impress upon honorable senators is this fact, and it is a most important one, that in those very districts where so many men are making a livelihood on those small areas, land monopoly is rampant. That is a fact which ought to impress itself on the mind of every honorable senator here, and if he can grasp its full meaning I think that he cannot do otherwise than make up his mind to deal as speedily as possible with this question. It may interest honorable senators if I read out the names of a few of the large holders of Victoria.
– I can give you a similar list for South Australia.
– If the honorable senator is good enough to give the list to me, I will read it out with the greatest of pleasure. Let me mention a few of the big estates in Victoria. Dr. Atkinson owns 96,000 acres; Sir Rupert Clarke, 78,000 acres; William Laidlaw, 63,000 acres; Walter Laidlaw, 33,000 acres; A. Johnston, 42,000 acres; E. Manifold, 50,000 acres; J. S. Manifold, 31,000 acres; W. T. Manifold, 35,000 acres; James Russell, 50,000 acres; Phillip Russell, 43,000 acres; John Ware, 55,000 acres; Thomas Shaw, 36,000 acres; William Wheatley, 54,000 acres; estate of Sir S. Wilson, 86,000 acres; S. Wilson, jun., 42,000 acres; J. Robinson, 36,000 acres; estate of Sir William McCulloch, 52,000 acres; Silas Harding, 31,000 acres; Charles Armitage, 48,000 acres; Charles Avrey, 42,000 acres; William Bailey, 47,000 acres; William Barker, 36,000 acres; RearAdmiral Bridges, 47,000 acres; H. S. Chirnside, 57,000 acres; Percy Chirnside, 36,000 acres; Mrs. A. B. Chirnside, 52,000 acres; and G. N. Buckley, 42,000 acres. I suppose it is because Buckley has so much land that other persons have not “ Buckley’s show.”
– After that lot, there is not much of Victoria left.
– Yes, there is. This is only a very little corner of Victoria. The honorable senator apparently thinks that it is only a small State. It is not quite so big as New South Wales, but, in its own opinion, at any rate, it is very much more important. I have read a few of the names of the big landholders in Victoria, and there are very many more of them, I believe. If one considers these figures for a moment, and counts up the huge areas which these few persons hold, and then divides the total areas into farms of250 acres each, he will find that a very large additional population could be settled on the soil of Victoria.
– That is, assuming that the soil is cultiva table.
– I assume what I think is quite right, and all my information justifies me in assuming that these are the very pick of the lands of Victoria. It is because these big areas are held by so few persons that the people were originally driven out to the Mallee and other parts of Victoria, as well as to other States. I hear of persons near Warrnambool who are getting a rental of £8 per acre per annum for their land.
– All land is not like that.
– I know that perfectly well.
– You mean £80 per acre.
– No, I am referring to the annual rent per acre. A man could not buy land near Warrnambool for £80 per acre. He would have to pay from £100 to £120 per acre.
– On the basis of twenty years’ purchase, the value would be £160per acre.
– Yes. That sort” of thing is altogether out of reason in a young country like Australia. In England you can buy, or could buy recently, land at the door ‘of the best markets in the world at a lower price. Why is land so dear at Warrnambool, and round there? Simply because those who came to Victoria in the early days monopolised the best land. Persons will not take up poor land if they can get good land, and they would rather pay for good land if they can afford it, or can raise the money, than take up indifferent country. That is what makes the demand for good land so great ; that is what induces persons to pay such disproportionate prices for land. These facts speak for themselves. While I have referred so far merely to Victoria, this condition of affairs repeats itself in every State of the Commonwealth. Senators Bakhap and Keating know the conditions of Tasmania better than I do. They know that that State lias for a long period remained absolutely stagnant. The “ Land of Sleep-a-lot,’”’ the Sydney Bulletin calls it. The principal cause of the evil is land monopoly. It is because the best lands are in the hands of a very few people ; because, until very recently, the government of the State has been in the hands of the land monopolists or of their agents. Fortunately, T am glad to say, that in Tasmania the people seem at present to have a lucid interval. I do not know how long it will last, but the present political sunshine is certainly very welcome. Unfortunately, in Tasmania the Labour Government are faced with the difficulty of a Tory Legislative Council.
– And yet the Legislative Council of Tasmania passed a measure which permits the compulsory resumption of any estate over the value of £8,000.
– I do not believe in the Government buying- estates. I have had some experience of the repurchase of estates in Queensland, and I have invariably found that when estates are repurchased by the Government very much more than a fair market value is paid for them.
– That is so in every State.
– And it makes other land dearer.
– I was about to say so, and I am glad to find that Senator Senior appreciates the position. Our objection to land monopoly is that it makes land too dear, and certainly anything which goes to make it still dearer cannot be in the public interest.
– The honorable senator’s objection to compulsory purchase is that it makes land dearer?
– My objection to compulsory resumption of land by a Government is that more than the market price has to be paid for it.
– When the matter is tried before a Judge of the Supreme Court?
– I do not care a straw for a Judge of the Supreme Court. He must decide on the evidence, before him. I decide on the evidence before me, and I say that land monopoly is a deadly evil - the greatest evil that afflicts Australia to-day. It has devastated this country almost as much as war is devastating some of the European countries today. But for the evils of land monopoly Australia would to-day have a population of 10,000,000 instead of 4,500,000. In many of the country districts of Victoria the population to-day is actually smaller than it was thirty or forty years ago. If that sort of thing were going on in Europe we should point to the country in which it was taking place as being decadent.
– It is going on in England.
– It is a great misfortune that it is going on in England or anywhere else, but the honorable senator should remember that England is a manufacturing country. Agriculture there is only a secondary industry. In Australia agriculture and primary production are, or ought to be, the first of all our industries, and a much greater proportion of our people should be engaged in them than, in any other industry. We fmd that half the people of Australia are to-day living in cities. The population of Victoria per square mile is somewhere about thirteen, but when we consider that half of these people are living in the cities we find that only about six per square mile are living on the lands of the country. That is a condition of affairs which cannot be permitted with safety to go on any longer. It prevails throughout the Commonwealth from the far north of Queensland to Cape Leeuwin on the south-western corner of Western Australia, and from the north-west of Western Australia to the south-east of New South Wales. Wherever you go in Australia you are faced with the evil of land monopoly. Almost every township in the Commonwealth is girded round by land monopoly, and its progress is blocked and blighted by the holders of big estates. When we look the facts in the face we can come to no other conclusion than that this is an evil which must be dealt with, and which, if it is not dealt with, will ultimately result in landing the people of Australia in a serfdom as real as the people of Great Britain, Ireland, and many of the Continental countries of Europe are to be found in at the present moment. We must make life for the farmer better than it is, and we can do that only by securing for him good land near to railways, and within the rain area. We must secure for him, if possible, land upon which he can make a living on a small area.
– The progress of machinery has affected the question of small areas.
– Undoubtedly, but the lot of the tiller of the soil is not much better to-day than it was 100 years ago. If we wish to improve the condition of the farmer we must make the best lands of Australia available to him. We must try to settle him in districts where it will be possible for him to make a living on a comparatively small area, and where church, school, post-office, telegraph and telephone communication, stores, and all the conveniences of civilization will be easily accessible. I think it will be quite possible to bring about such a condition of affairs in Australia. If the Labour party has only the courage to press home its policy of land taxation effectively, that result will certainly be brought about. I do not wish to detain honorable senators too long with this oft-told tale of mine, but the matter is worthy of a good deal of attention. Senator Lynch told us a doleful tale this afternoon about the scarcity of fodder. He claimed that relief from this condition of scarcity might be provided by the remission of duties. I venture to make the statement that if the best lands of Victoria were made available to the people of this State alone there is enough land on which to grow fodder even in the worst of seasons for almost the whole of Australia.
– They cannot grow all they require for themselves this year.
– Because of the climatic conditions.
– It is because many of them are settled upon country that is not the best for the purpose. I say that if the best country in Vic toria were made available for growing fodder there would be no scarcity. I say the same of Western Australia, Tasmania, and of all the other States. The greatest enemy to the farmer in Australia is not the grower of potatoes, wheat, fodder, or any other primary product elsewhere, but the land monopolist within our own borders, who prevents him from getting access to the wealth which Nature has placed in the soil for the use of man. The greatest enemy of the farmer is the land monopolist - the enemy within the gate, not the enemy outside.
– Just now it is Jupiter Pluvius in South Australia.
– No doubt; but Senator Senior is aware that, given fertile soil and good cultivation, crops can be and are grown from one end of the Commonwealth to the other with only a very moderate rainfall. I do not know very much about farming, but I know that if a man gets a piece of good land, ploughs it deeply, cultivates it well, and keeps it cultivated, it will grow crops with half the usual rainfall. But if he ploughs lightly, and allows the land to get crusted over after every shower, as many farmers do,he cannot be surprised if it dries out in a time like the present. I ask Senator Lynch to consider this aspect of the question. The scarcity of fodder is due to the fact that the men who are growing fodder are settled in unsuitable localities. I sympathize quite as much as the honorable senator can possibly do with the unfortunate people who are practically ruined by the drought, and who are now penalized by the payment of duty. So far as I am concerned, I do not wish to see a single farthing go into the coffers of the Commonwealth from this source ; but I say that we must hold out some inducement to the intelligent cultivator. If a man has been fortunate at the present time to have fodder when other people have it not; if he has been led by extra enterprise and industry to hope that he will get a big price in the event of a scarcity, I do not see that we have any right to deprive him of the opportunity to do so. What we ought to do is to try to place all our farmers in the best possible condition to avoid the evils of a drought, and we can only do that by settling them within the rain area, and on land of the very best quality.
– There are thousands of acres of fallowed land in Western Australia on which there are no crops at all to-day.
– The same thing may be said of Victoria and New South Wales.
– We hear a great deal about the high cost of living and the extortions of the middleman. I have no doubt that the middleman levies his toll, as he is entitled to do if the community permits him, and as we all would do if we had the opportunity. I say that the cost of living is largely influenced by the land question. Where is our food grown? Is it not from the land that we get our meat, wheat, butter, eggs, milk, potatoes, cabbages, and everything we eat? I say that if the land is cornered, and the sources of production are thus monopolized, prices must go up. Our people are driven into the cities by this monopoly of land; and if the city population is growing faster than is the country population, the cost of living must increase. The remedy is not in fixing prices by the State; it is in making the sources of production available to every man who desires to produce his own food from the land. There, again, we get to the root of the trouble. All this legislation of ours in. fixing wages and prices, and in trying to square the circle, results in failure, and will continue toend in failure until we tackle seriously the social problems, and secure the settlement of people on the best land of the country. I have been referring principally to the country land; but land monopoly is an evil which affects our city population probably as much as it affects the rural. There are slums in Melbourne because the price of land is so high that poor people cannot afford to buy it and build houses upon it, or people who buy it and build houses to let them must get an extortionate rent for them. Not only are rents much higher than they ought to be, but the condition of a large portion of Melbourne is grossly insanitary, for no other reason than that the land, by reason of monopoly, has become so highly priced as to place it almost beyond the scope of healthful habitation in the case of the ordinary citizen.
– You find slums and vacant blocks in the same city.
– Yes, and the explanation is obvious. A man may buy acres of land in Melbourne, and hold it by paying a very small sum, so long as he does not improve it; but the moment he puts a house upon it he is taxed. A man buys an acre in a new district, and people come along and build all round him. He, perhaps, pays £100 for the acre to begin with, holds on to it for five or ten years, and, in all probability, gets £2,000 or £3,000 for it simply because the community has allowed him to go untaxed. If land-value taxation were put in force, as it ought to be, a person who desired to hang on to land would have to pay for the privilege.
– Does he hang on to it in Brisbane?
– Not now; but the land-value taxation system was not always in force in Brisbane. I was told the last time I went there that only a few years ago a particular district was held up against settlement, but, owing to the unimproved-value taxation being imposed, it had been cut up and settled. If a person can hold on to land at little or no cost, he does so as long as possible; but if he has to pay 2 per cent, or 3 per cent, in taxation for the privilege, he thinks twice about it, and if he cannot put the land to decent use he lets go. There are large numbers of business buildings in Melbourne lighted artificially every day of the year. In these a number of young men and women are at work during working hours. That is not a healthful surrounding for them, and they are physically and mentally injured. That state of affairs ought not to continue. The health of our people is most important. It means a strong, robust, virile, self-dependent population, and without that we lack one of the most important assets of any community. In many of our factories there is overcrowding. It is not as bad as it was a number of years ago, but it is much worse than it ought to be. There is not the free circulation of air that there should be ; there is not the light or the sanitary conveniences that should be provided; and the same applies even to many private dwellings. In some of the Melbourne streets there are rooms into which the sun never enters. That is not a healthy state of affairs, and must react upon the health and welfare of the community. Many of our young men and women cooped up in artificially-lighted offices, are compelled to wear spectacles at a very early age, and that is a most regrettable circumstance. The physique is first impaired, and then the sight goes, and when that happens the thing becomes hereditary, and the community begins to degenerate. In a young country like this we should not tolerate anything of the kind. We should have no land monopoly in the country or in the town, for it brings nothing but evil in its train. This Parliament has the power to deal with it, abolish it, kill it; and if it does not do so, it will be faithless to the people who sent it here, and deserve whatever censure the people think fit to pass upon it.
– I propose addressing myself briefly to one matter of paramount importance at the present juncture, but before doing this I am compelled briefly to refer to certain extraordinary statements that have fallen from the lips of Senator Stewart and his colleagues. He accused me of undue levity, but I must confess that many of the things I have heard this evening would have moved me in any circumstances to laughter or to tears. Constitutionally, I prefer laughter, hence I have laughed. I am moved to make a few remarks upon the war. Two or three items figuring very largely in the Bill before us are items of war expenditure. I shall not speak in criticism of them, but I must urge the Administration which has the fortunes of Australia in its hands to adopt a more vigorous war policy in the national and Imperial interests. I am not very pleased with the condition of things reported in the press as existing on the battle-fields of Western Europe. We have heard day after day that fighting of the most violent character has taken place, but notwithstanding the terrific slaughter reported as having been suffered by the enemy, we, who read between the lines, can see that at the present juncture the military forces of Great Britain and her Allies are being very sorely pressed in the western theatre of war. It is well for us to recollect that the forces of the German Empire have established a substantial lodgment on the soil of Republican Prance, and probably one portion of their lines is at the present time within 60 or 100 miles of
Paris. I am one of those who believe that the British. Empire alone has sufficient resources to ensure its triumph in the struggle, but a curious reluctance is manifested by the authorities of the Empire to put forth the whole of its energies and forces. It is characteristic of the British temperament to be always sure of winning, and no doubt this is a very valuable factor in securing the triumph of the national arms, but we must remember that this is a superlative struggle, which is just as important as regards the fate of the modern world as was the struggle between Rome and Carthage to the ancients. Napoleon at one time said, “ Britain has a population of 15,000,000; Prance has 30,000,000; the issue cannot be doubtful.’ History will repeat itself; Rome will destroy Carthage.” Although Britain has been called the modern Carthage, she possesses many elements of strength which make for national greatness that were not to be found in the people of ancient Carthage, but there is no doubt very great reluctance on the part of the people of the Empire to realize the nature of the struggle and the need for grim determination and selfsacrifice if complete success is to be speedily achieved. The strength of the British Empire is such that it can call armies, so to speak, out of the earth, but it takes time to drill them, and if the struggle is to be waged as it should be, it is imperative that wave after wave of powerful reinforcements should be forthcoming in order to repair what is known as the wastage of war, and to bring about that early success of our arms which cannot be achieved by merely putting driblets of men into the battlefields of Europe. Senators Keating and Lynch have very properly referred to the most material success that has been gained by H.M.A.S. Sydney within the last two or three days. I think that that vessel has rendered as great a service to the commerce of the Empire as the United States warship Kearsage rendered to the commerce of that country when it engaged and sunk the Confederate warship Alabama. Indeed, the two achievements seem to be on somewhat parallel lines, and I do not belittle the most material success which our infant Australian Navy has achieved. I hope it will be the forerunner of many more successes at the expense of the enemies of the Empire. I have always been an advocate of the establishment of an Australian Fleet, and I am sorry that the much-laboured question as to which party belongs the credit for its creation has again been brought forward at this juncture.
– I have never taken up any other position than that the credit for the establishment of our Australian Navy can be legitimately divided between both political parties.
– Hear, hear! The honorable senator used that in the Tasmanian elections for all it was worth.
– The honorable senator - as is his wont - is not doing me justice. If he will do me the honour of looking up my election utterances he will find that at my most important meetings I said that the credit for the creation of an Australian Navy might fairly be apportioned between both parties, and that I objected to the pillorying of men who opposed the establishment of the Fleet. I pointed out that some of them lacked nothing in patriotism, but preferred to rely for our defence upon land forces. Notwithstanding that, Senator Lynch has instanced the destruction of the Emden by the Sydney as a justification of the policy instituted by the Labour party, it is as well for me to remind him that the resolution which committed this Parliament to the creation of an Australian Navy was introduced by the present Leader of the Liberal party.
– By whom?
– By the present Leader of the Liberal party, the Right Honorable Joseph Cook. He submitted the resolution to the House of Representatives in 1909, and that Chamber adopted it. That resolution committed the Legislature to the establishment of an Australian Fleet Unit as projected at the Admiralty Conference. I have already made the statement - and if it can legitimately be contradicted I hope that the contradiction will be forthcoming - that the opponents of that resolution included nine Labour members. In fact, I may go so far as to say that the only opposition manifested to it was that exhibited by those nine members, to whom I need not refer by name. This circumstance shows that opposition to the establishment of an Australian Fleet was certainly present in the Labour ranks.
– Was it to be an Australian Fleet or an Imperial Australian Fleet?
– I am referring to the present Australian Fleet Unit.
– Owned by the Australian people?
– It was to be owned by the Australian people, and was the result of the decision which was arrived at by the Defence Conference, to which Colonel Foxton was a delegate. I object to pillorying men who opposed that proposal, because I hold that their action was not unpatriotic. Many of them opposed the establishment of an Australian Navy because they pinned their faith to land forces.
– Was Colonel Foxton the original delegate to that Conference?
– He was a delegate to the Conference at which the resolution in favour of the establishment of an Australian Fleet was adopted. That resolution, I repeat, was given effect to at the instance of the present Liberal leader.
– Was that the commencement of the Australian Navy?
– No. The original, proposal was for an Australian Navy of a completely different character from that which was decided upon as the result of the Admiralty Conference, and the Minister knows that very well.
– I know nothing of the kind.
– Does the Minister say that the present Australian Navy is that which was originally projected ?
– I say that the first step towards establishing an Australian Navy was taken by the Fisher Government, when it ordered the three torpedo destroyers now in commission.
– And “the present Australian Navy is the result of the adoption of the resolution which was submitted by the present Liberal leader. The only opposition to that proposal came from the Labour ranks.
– That we have a fleet to-day is due to the fact that Mr. Cook’s proposal to present the Mother Country with a Dreadnought for the
North Sea was turned down by the people of Australia at the 1910 elections.
– I shall be very much enlightened if any honorable senator will take upon himself to prove that whether or not a Dreadnought should be presented to the Mother Country was made a particular election cry.
– Queensland went mad over it.
– The people of New Zealand happened to adopt the policy which has been so much decried. There is only a difference in degree between these exhibitions of patriotism, and the people of New Zealand who presented a Dreadnought to the British Fleet were just as joyful over the excellent performance of the vessel for which they paid, in the first naval engagement of the present war, as we are proud of the exploit of the Sydney. There are members of the Labour party in this Chamber who as late as last Year objected to the establishment of an Australian Navy. Yet they will join in the cry that the whole of. the credit for the creation of that Navy rightfully belongs to the Labour party. But this is not the time to discuss that question. Useful though our Navy is, it is obviously much too small, and both from the stand-point of numbers and of strength it will have, to be increased. Seeing that we inhabit an insular continent we must be a maritime people. I hope that in the future our Navy will be as successful as it has been in its initial engagement. I venture to say that the present war would have been of - very brief duration had the advice which Lord Roberts has dinned into the ears of the British people since 1905, been adopted. They have been living in a fool’s paradise. Only the other clay I read with something akin to regret an article of astonishing journalistic audacity in a magazine published in Australia - a magazine which is edited by a journalist of overseas repute. In that article, penned in 1913, the writer accused this aged gentleman, Lord Roberts, whose efforts have been of a most patriotic and self-sacrificiflg character, whose attempts to arouse the youth of the Empire to a sense of their responsibility are beyond all culogy, of being a “ panic monger.” At the risk of being considered a panic monger, I say that it is necessary for the Empire and for Australia to put forth the whole forces at their disposal to bring the present war to a speedy and victorious conclusion. It is of no use to send driblets of men to the front. It is necessary for us to look facta in the face, and if the war lasts for a year or two we must recognise that out of it will arise various problems of international importance, and of particular importance to the people of the Commonwealth. Although the material which we possess is excellent, our Forces have not reached that pitch of martial preparation which would enable them to successfully meet numbers of men who have received what is known as a barrack-yard training. It is essential that a very considerable number of our Australian Forces should be called out and given that continuous training which will fit them to successfully defend the Commonwealth, and, if necessary, to take their places alongside the Forces of the Empire, which will be required to wage war during the next year or two in order to secure victory for our arms. A few weeks ago, in speaking in this Chamber, I urged upon the Administration the desirableness of considering the establishment of what would practically be a standing Army. We want a more satisfactory professional nucleus for our Forces than we possess at present. In to-day’s Argus I read with interest the report of an utterance by the Minister of Defence regarding the part which Australia can legitimately play in assisting to bring about that consummation which we all so ardently desire. He stated that; we have a Permanent Force of 3,000 mer?.. Without knowing the details regarding that Force, I presume that it consists mostly of artillerymen who have to servofortress guns, and who man guns in our permanent harbor defences. In other words, it consists of garrison artillery–
– And instructors.
– Although thestatement of the Minister is valuable - every syllable of it - I would direct attention to the fact that he affirmed that theForces offering their services for the front cannot be fully utilized because we havenot sufficient men to train them. According to the military expert from overseas, who reported some time ago on thecondition of the Commonwealth Forcesand of the Forces in New Zealand, two citizen soldiers are only the equal of oneprofessional soldier. In other words, we- can only hope for 50 per cent, of military efficiency from our Forces as compared “with the efficiency obtainable from professional soldiers.
– The Boer Avar does not prove that.
– The honorable senator must not regard the Boer war as a standard. That conflict, in reality, was in the nature of guerilla warfare on a large scale. Certainly it was not war on the scale on which the present struggle is being waged. It is absolutely- essential that we should have a considerable standing Army, because that standing Army can, in time of need, place at our disposal men who will be thoroughly competent to lick into shape our somewhat amateur Citizen Forces. Why should the military defence of this continent be wholly entrusted to men who are little more than amateurs? We would not care to man the Australian Fleet with amateurs. Men on war vessels have to be trained to a very high degree of efficiency, and it is just as essential that we should have among the Military Forces of Australia a large percentage of men who can be classed in a military sense as professionals. I think it is desirable for Australia to recognise that the issue in this conflict is being fought out at the present moment on the historic battle-fields of Western Europe. I do not like to see this tendency on the part of the people in our Empire to mark time in the hope that the overwhelming forces at the disposal of the Czar of Russia will be brought into the field on the eastern frontier of the German Empire, and there secure those substantial victories which will place the issue beyond all doubt. I want to see the forces of the British Empire, which are capable, even single-handed if properly exercised, of defeating our foemen, used to the fullest extent, for the prestige of the Empire will not be increased by the fact that we hope to secure victory only or mainly through the instrumentality of our Allies. If we have that force of which we boast, let us use it. I hope that even as resolutions passed bv this Chamber have been thought of sufficient importance to influence the parliamentary attitude of politicians in the Old Country, so will these humble utterances of mine be deemed of sufficient importance to at least arouse a certain measure of thought on the part of the politicians of Great Britain, and inspire them to insist upon the people of that country putting forth their very best efforts, and not, as it were, hanging behind in any way owing to the lack of a proper recognition of the tremendous issues involving our national existence which are being decided at the present juncture. It seems to me that our German foemen have instituted a very substantial imitation of what were known as the lines of Torres Vedras, through the instrumentality of which that great British General, Wellington, was able to maintain himself in the Spanish Peninsula until he so arranged his strength that he was prepared to advance and to defeat in detail the armies of Napoleon’s marshals. It is true that the German dash on Paris has been frustrated, but it is nevertheless true that the Germans are certainly within 100 miles of the French capital, and are making the most determined efforts to break the allied lines; and we are told - and if it is the truth it is a very serious matter - that our heroic countrymen of Great Britain are fighting the enemy at the tremendous disadvantage of 10 to 1. I do not think that that is quite the truth. We are told, also, that our enemies are very nearly at the last of their -resources. At the same time, we have to remember that our enemies’ generals are telling the German populace that vast numbers of the allied troops are surrendering almost without giving battle, and it is beyond all doubt that our foemen have inflicted most substantial losses on the forces of the Empire. The illustrated newspapers, which we can read in any public library or club, disclose the fact that very large numbers of the Forces of the Allies are prisoners in Germany. In the Illustrated London. News I saw the other day a picture illustrating how large numbers nf British soldiers were being marched out and compelled to work in the German harvest fields; and although the claim of our enemies that they have interned no less than 290,000 odd prisoners may be exaggerated, there is still this substratum of fact, that they have undoubtedly inflicted very considerable damage on the Allied Forces, and are straining their powers of resistance to the very utmost. That being so, I think it is desirable for us in Australia to recognise that this war may last for a year or two, and as we are told that the severity of the struggle becomes even more apparent than the cables disclose to us, it is advisable for us to call out a large percentage of our Citizen Forces, and subject them to that martial training without which natural courage is of no avail whatever. I earnestly urge on the consideration of Ministers the desirability of adopting a more emphatic military policy in connexion with the aid which we are rendering to the Empire. There is another matter on which I would like to dwell. During the time the first Expeditionary Force was being trained, I could not help being struck at the very large numbers of men belonging to that force who could be continually seen about the streets. Admittedly most of the men comprising the Expeditionary Force were raw material. It is not contended that they were trained soldiers. When we read that the large army which is being raised by Lord Kitchener is being subjected to the severest drill almost day and night, that it is deemed necessary to get these men ready for the firing line in the shortest possible time, and that in order to put them in the firing line as trained soldiers it is essential that every spare moment be utilized to teach them martial exercises, to teach them how to drill and shoot, it does seem to me somewhat incongruous that the men whom we were sending forth to assist the armies of the Empire should be allowed to have so much leisure on their hands. One could see dozens, in fact almost hundreds, of them at any time about the streets of Melbourne.
– There are limits to human endurance, you know.
– I invite the Assistant Minister to read some of the letters written by Home correspondents of Australian newspapers, about the severe training given in Great Britain.
– Did you ever go out to the camp to see the training?
– No; but during the time the first Expeditionary Force was alleged to be in training I saw very large numbers of the soldiers - too large numbers - about the streets of Melbourne.
– How do you know that they were members of the Expeditionary Force?
– For the simple reason that the men were in uniform, and every one of them bore upon his shoulders some distinctive mark indicating that he was an Australian soldier.
– That does not prove that the men were members of the Expeditionary Force. In the vicinity of Melbourne there are several thousands of men who are not members of the Expeditionary Force.
– In that case, of course, my criticism must be moderated. Does the Minister assure me that these men were not allowed to come into Melbourne very frequently?
– I can assure the honorable senator that not more than 5 per cent at any time were allowed leave, and that they were not allowed leave during the day-time except in special cases. They were given leave at night-time and on Sundays. The men whom the honorable senator saw were probably not members of the Expeditionary Force at all.
– If that is so, of course my criticism loses some of its value. But I do contend, when time is the essence of the contract, when it is deemed so necessary in England to utilize every moment at the disposal of the military authorities to give the training which is essential, that it is highly injudicious for us not to adopt that proper example. For us to send half-trained men into the battlefield is absolutely unfair to the men themselves. Seeing that it is projected to give the men training even after they leave Australia, I think that every moment at the disposal of the authorities should be utilized here to lick admittedly untrained men into proper military shape. Whatever may be the facts in connexion with the despatch of the Expeditionary Force which has left our shores, and which, I hope, will meet with the same success on the battlefield as has attended the first engagement of our war vessels, I do say it is essential for Australia, recognising the importance of the issues which are involved in the war, and their particular importance as regards ourselves, to put forth every effort to assist the Mother Country. It is also essential for the Mother Country, I think, to adopt more drastic measures than she has adopted up to the present time to secure that military force which she must put on the Continent if she desires to see victory attend the Imperial Army. We know that the wastage of war is very great. We know that the Imperial authorities are halting between the adoption of compulsory service and its avoidance if possible. If the situation is such, I think it is absolutely essential for the defence authorities of Australia and for those who have Ministerial responsibility to adopt a more vigorous policy, and to call out a very considerable portion of our Citizen Forces, in order to give them that training which will make them, anyhow, a fair approximation to regular soldiers. I hope that at a very early date the Australian Fleet will be considerably augmented. I know that there is a sort of continuous policy of augmentation, but that continuous policy should, I think, be improved upon. Notwithstanding that Senator Lynch accuses me of being a little Australian in that I consider the construction of the transcontinental railway to he somewhat premature, I believe that the large sums of money that we are spending on railways which are of no practical value, even from a defence stand-point, might very legitimately be employed in the augmentation of the Australian Fleet.
– It is difficult to do so in a time of war.
– Other honorable senators are urging that the north to south railway be constructed. I am sure that the capital cost of that line will be from £12,000,000 to £15,000,000. At this juncture in our history, seeing that Australia is peopled only by about 5,000,000 inhabitants, I am very much averse to spending this large sum which might be expended more legitimately in that augmentation of our Fleet to which I have referred, and which would be fraught with very great benefit as regards bringing about complete security for the inhabitants of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator has over-estimated the cost of that railway very considerably.
– I do not think so. I believe that by the time the line is constructed it will cost about £15,000,000. As regards a transcontinental railway being necessary for defence purposes, I venture to say that the 20,000 soldiers transported from the eastern ports to Albany were transported very much more quickly by water than they could have been by railway. Such military authorities as Napoleon and Lord Wolseley have said that troops should always be taken by water if that transport i3 available.
– Do you not realize that if you need to send troops to Perth that presupposes that there is an enemy landing at Perth?
– The preventive would be a substantial augmentation of the Australian Fleet for the defence of Australia, which, like the defence of the Mother Country, must principally be on the high seas.
– As regards Napoleon’s opinion on that point, there were no railways in existence at that time.
– Notwithstanding the fact that there were no railways at the time, I agree with the statement that troops may be more easily transported in large numbers by water than by rail.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Emperor of Germany is of the same opinion at the present time?
– No, because the maritime supremacy of the German Empire has, happily, not been established, but if the German Fleet had command of the North Sea, we would know where German troops would be landed. I wish now to make some references to the singular utterances of Senator Ready in connexion with the Fruit Commission. I think it has been amply demonstrated that one of the reasons why the Fruit Commission was not allowed to go to the Old Country was that certain members of the Commission were singularly unfitted to exercise themselves in connexion with any properly-constituted judicial inquiry.
– Three members were of the honorable senator’s party; were they unfitted ?
– I listened to the honorable senator this afternoon, and instead of claiming, as he might legitimately have done, that it was desirable that a Commission should visit the Old Country, in order to inquire into the marketing methods adopted at Covent Garden, he started to make allegations of incapacity and of improper practices against practically all the gentlemen whose names he introduced into his speech. Sir George Reid, whose portrait happens to be in the King’s Hall-
– And is very like him, is it not?
– I do not know why it is there, but presumably it is because he has rendered some service to this country, and has shown himself to possess a mind of uncommon quality. I venture to say it will be some time before the portrait is taken away and the portrait of any member of the Senate substituted for it.
– There is always hope for the honorable senator. “ You never know your luck.”
– He is accused of making some sort of lame inquiry into the marketing evils of Covent Garden. We have had statements that members of the Fruit-growers Association are not growing fruit. They have been accused of incapacity, lack of business knowledge, and of selecting Mr. Tully to make an inquiry for them. We have been told that Mr. Tully is incapable, that the members of the Victorian Fruitgrowers Association are nincompoops for having selected such a man. The members of the Tasmanian Fruitgrowers Association are not accused on the ground that they grow no fruit, but they are accused of going into cooperation in their industry, of growing fruit on a large scale, and of being associated with and acting in cooperation with Henry Jones and Company.
– Only a few who barrack for the honorable senator.
– Successful fruitgrowers in a large way, I should assume.
– In a large way, yes.
– They are men who understand their business, and who have instituted inquiries in connexion with the practices at Covent Garden.
– Men who are getting privileges from Henry Jones and Company, and do not want the present system altered.
– The honorable senator has an animus against any people who achieve a commercial success. I happen to know many of the gentlemen whose name3 he has introduced into this discussion, and to be under no obligation to any of them. Henry Jones is a man who has raised himself up through Ids native intelligence, and has great organizing capacity, to a position in which his work is highly beneficial to1 the people of Australia, and may, perhaps, at the same time be productive of some little profit to himself.
– What sort of a contributor is he to the Fusion party’s funds?
– He gives very liberally.
– I do not know who contribute to the Fusion party’s funds, but I am in a position to say that they are in a much worse case in Tasmania than are the Labour party’s funds in that State. I think it is very unfair to an eminent commercial man that his name should be dragged into a debate in this Chamber in a supercilious fashion, and that allegations of unfair practices should be made against him.
– I suppose it is quite fair that this business man should intimidate his employes to induce them to vote against Labour?
– The honorable senator seems to think that the members of this firm have some animus against himself.
– I do not1 think it; I know it.
– Whether they have or not, I do not know; but I say that the honorable senator’s ‘ attitude of open hostility to this firm, human nature being what it is, amply justifies Henry Jones and his manager in refusing to regard Senator Ready or his candidature with any great degree of approval.
– I thought that Davy Jones was dead and buried.
– I am talking of Henry Jones, who, happily for Tasmania, is not dead or buried. I have no hesitation in saying that it would be a very good thing for that State if we had, instead of one Henry Jones, about a hundred there.
– They could rule the Island. It would need no Parliament then. They could run the whole show.
– If Parliament ran its business in Tasmania, or in any Australian State, as successfully as Henry Jones and his lieutenant run their business, there would be very little for the electors of the Commonwealth, or of any Australian State, to cavil at. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I have no business relations involving me in any obligations to these gentlemen, and if I speak in their defence it is because they represent a class of men who confer untold benefit upon the community, and who, numerically, are not strong enough to defend to any great extent their interests at the ballot-box. They are consequently regarded as fair, game for attack by men like Senator Ready.
– They are strong enough to control the honorable senator’s party when they care to squeeze it.
– They do not control Senator Ready’s party, or the party to which I belong, for the simple reason that they are too much taken up with their business interests to give anything more than the most casual attention to politics.
– That is not to their credit.
– They are business men. Does the Minister think that everybody in the country should, day and night, devote himself or herself to the consideration of political issues?
– The man who has the biggest interest in the country should take the greatest interest in its affairs.
– The men who have the biggest interest in the country concern themselves most largely with developing the country’s resources, and have often very little knowledge of politics, general or particular. I venture to say that, so far from Senator Ready’s allegations that these men exercise themselves greatly in controlling political affairs being correct, they find no time to exercise any political control whatever.
– Men of their ilk tried to exercise political control by sending £2,000 to augment the Liberal funds in Queensland at the last election.
- Senator Ferricks is making statements which admit of neither denial nor proof from me. This is the first time I have heard of such a thing, but I feel constrained to say that if the honorable senator was put to the proof in a Court of competent jurisdiction he could not sustain the allegation he has made here under cover of privilege.
– I can tell the honorable senator that I have already been there.
– Probably, if the honorable senator will make those state ments outside Parliament, he will shortly find himself there again.
– The Premier of Queensland admitted in the witness-box that he received £2,000 from Sydney for the purpose of the election.
– I am talking of Henry Jones, of Tasmania.
– I said men of that ilk.
– What is the value of such statements? I am defending a particular man, and a particular firm, from an allegation by Senator Ready that they exercise a dominating influence in political affairs in Tasmania. I say that they are practically not concerned with politics at all, but devote themselves to the extension of their business interests, every extension of which is fraught with the greatest profit to the people of Tasmania. I am quite prepared to admit that there may be many Old-world practices in the marketing of fruit at Covent Garden that require investigation. But what are we te think of the capacity of certain people to make an investigation of the kind when we find them starting out by alleging questionable practices, want of knowledge, lack of observation, and a lack of business ethics on the part of the people who control the affairs of, or assist in the marketing of fruit in, Covent Garden? What are we to think of the capacity for such an investigation of a man who startsout with an allegation that the members of the Victorian Fruit-growers Association do not grow fruit, and are incapable of selecting a man to represent them and to make a proper investigation and report ?
– That is absolutely incorrect, and the honorable senator knows it.
– A man who accuses the High Commissioner of neglect and incapacity, who says that the man deputed by the Victorian fruit-growers to make an investigation is incapable. When a man takes up such an attitude I can quite understand why the late Administration did not see its way clear to continue the perambulations of the members of the Commission appointed to make an inquiry into the fruit industry.
– We did not ask the late Administration.
– You are asking the present Administration, and the statements you have made have demonstrated your incapacity to make such an investigation.
– I ask the honorable senator to address the Chair, and not Senator Ready.
– -Very well, sir. We are told of unfair practices, suspicious practices, incompetence to make a report, negligence of the High Commissioner, co-operation by Tasmanian fruit-growers, and are invited to believe that these are all crimes and offences, that the only pure merino in the whole business is our friend, Senator Ready, who, apparently, is competent to demonstrate to an. expectant world the chicaneries of the Covent Garden fruit merchants. It is marvellous - the overwhelming capacity of this gentleman is really quite astounding.
– I shall be taking the job of interpreting for the Chinese before I have finished.
– To do so the honorable senator will have to study the language for a year or two longer than he has studied the fruit industry.
– It is well to understand a classical language.
– It is a classical language, and was considered so 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. I think that when a public man deems an inquiry necessary he may legitimately ask for it without attacking and imputing improper motives to men who cannot come into this Chamber to defend themselves. Henry Jones went to America for the purpose of trying to cultivate a taste in the American people for Tasmanian jams rather than for canned fruit.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– Simply because he told me so. I believe it is in contemplation by Henry Jones and Company to establish works on the same scale as those which they have established in various parts of Australia, in order to institute an important jam-producing industry in the United States of America, which will be of very great benefit to Tasmanian producers and exporters. Everything these people turn their hands to seem3 to be successful, because they possess business capacity, and are the personification of business integrity. I am satisfied that the men who are associated with this firm, and who constitute a majority of the Tasmanian fruit-growers, regard them as impeccable, and incapable of the devious practices to which Senator Ready has referred. The honorable senator might quite legitimately ask for an inquiry. He. may go to Covent Garden, and I suppose he will find there that the greater portion of the fruit marketed comes, not from Australia, but from America and Canada, and that there are keen business men from those countries looking to the marketing of the fruit who would be the very first to checkmate any attempt at chicanery such as Senator Ready suggests would be practised by the peculiar Hebraic gentlemen whose names he has quoted, and who, according to him, “ rule the roost” at Covent Garden market. The inquiry might be a legitimate one, and the Emit Commission might very properly extend its labours; but the fact that something of value might be elicited at the other end of the world is not fair ground for attacking the reputation of men who stand at the head of affairs in the industry for business integrity, organizing capacity, and general commercial enterprise. Senators Lynch and Story have addressed themselves to the need for the development of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is a large tract of country, and, no doubt, contains good and bad land; in fact, land that may be regarded as representative of Australia as a whole, but during my all too brief stay there I heard certain things which account for its backward state of development. I spoke to officials, who, of course, were very guarded in their remarks, and to European and Chinese settlers. I gathered that although the Territory is not devoid of resources, it has many drawbacks. The Chinese, who are cultivators of the soil, and come from a part of the Chinese Empire where cultivation is carried on in a very similar climate, told me that the great drawback is not lack of rainfall, but uneven distribution of rainfall. For practically six months in every year there is a drought in the Territory. This is very unsatisfactory to the cultivator of the soil, and inimical to the growth of certain crops. I have this from the lips of Chinese who have made attempts at different times to grow tropical products not far inland from Darwin. There are white ants in Queensland and other tropical countries, but I understand that they are a particular pest in the Territory, and a great drawback to its development. A young man - an official - who came down in the same vessel, told me that he lived in an isolated portion of the Territory, well down towards the South Australian border, and for months at a time never saw a white man. When one came along they had a very lengthy yarn. On one occasion he left his hat where he and his visitor had been sitting. In the morning he found that it had been eaten by white ants. I was told that on the Marrinboy tin-field pack-saddles left on the earth for a single night were attacked by white ants and often completely destroyed. These things constitute a material drawback to the development of the Territory. Senator Story spoke! of the beautiful country close to the Macdonnell Ranges, but not far from the ranges, down towards the border, there is a certain station which this young man alluded to. I shall not name it, because it is not my business to depreciate the value of any property, but it consists of 6,000 square miles, and its carrying capacity is 8,000 head of cattle, and 300 or 400 head of horses for round ing-up purposes. If it takes nearly a square mile of country to feed a beast, the land cannot be very fertile or sustaining. I believe, from what I learnt in the Territory, that the best policy to adopt will be to supply water along stock-routes, go in for artesian bores, and institute a satisfactory policy of mining development. If one or two good goldfields or profitable mineral fields are discovered, the problem of settlement will be solved. If they were able to profitably exploit the mines, a large population would follow the mining- pioneers, and if water were supplied at short stages, no doubt pioneers and prospectors would go through the Territory, with excellent prospects of discovering mineral fields that would attract the population of which Northern Australia stands so sorely in need. Senator Stewart is always harping on land monopoly. It seems singular that there should be such a thing in this young, sparsely-developed continent. A pictorial illustration is always worth a great deal of verbal argu-. ment, and I find in the Commonwealth Y ear-Book a diagram indicating the amount of alienated and unalienated land. There are about 16 square inches in the diagram, and 1 square inch is sufficient to indicate all the alienated land. Where, then, does land monopoly come in ?
– That 6 per cent, may represent 80 per cent, of value. It does in Queensland.
– That kind of argument is useful only for the purpose of showing that but a small percentage of Australian soil is fit for human habitation. It may be that, as Homer Lea says, Australia is like an atoll. An atoll in the South Seas is a coral ring, very small in area, and including a lagoon. According to Homer Lea, Australia is a ring of habitable land with an interior unfit for closer settlement, and when one reflects how closely the few million people here hug the coast, one cannot help thinking that there is some truth in that theory. Why is Bourke a decaying town ? I have great confidence in the resources of my country; but surely the reason is that at no great distance from the coast-line the soil of Australia, with the single exception of that of Queensland, is not greatly adapted for closer settlement, and you will never induce people to closely settle land which is not naturally suitable for the purpose. Why is Wilcannia decaying? Why is Bourke less thickly populated than it was ten or fifteen years ago? Why do not people go to Mount Browne ? Why do they not go to that part of Queensland adjacent to the South Australian border ? Because the land, although spacious, is unsuitable for closer settlement. There are other factors than land monopoly driving people into the cities. I believe a good deal of the soil inside the rind of the continent is not suitable for closer settlement, and when we hear a hardheaded Scotch gentleman like Senator Stewart talking about land alienation and land monopoly, we have to remember that, in his own State of Queensland, there are 490,000,000 acres of land, of which the total alienated in 1912 was 15,874,000 acres.
– About 23,000,000 acres, including land in process of alienation.
– There were 9,000,000 acres in process of alienation, making in all about 24,000,000 acres.
– A little over 5 per cent. ; but are the values given ?
– The honorable senator can see how many million acres that leaves of absolutely unoccupied and unalienated land. As a matter of fact, Australia is empty of men, and if the land of the interior is suitable for closer settlement, which I greatly doubt, we had better make a serious effort to get it more closely settled, because the land is not alienated, and is absolutely at the disposal of the State Governments.
– Do you not think we could make some progress now ?
– When the Minister’s own supporters take up the time of the Senate in circulating wild and baseless statements broadcast, the Minister must allow some of us on this side a little latitude to place before the electors a few illuminating facts in reply. Senator Stewart very adroitly side-tracked my interjection when I asked him what percentage of the land of Australia was alienated by accusing me of undue levity. He invited me to inform the Chamber myself; and I tell him now that by far the greater portion of the soil of his own State is absolutely unalienated and unoccupied.
– And unavailable to the general public because of its inaccessibility.
– That should not be the case with State lands. The Queensland Government have instituted the only sound railway policy in Australia. They have pursued a most intelligent policy of railway development, and the Queensland railway map shows that of all the Australian States she is probably best fitted to carry a large population. When honorable senators talk of spending millions on the Territory, and on a railway to connect it with the as yet only partially defended portions of South-Eastern Australia, I must point out, even at the risk of being accused of “ boosting up “ my own State, that if the present Tasmanian Government; - I do not care whether it is Labour or Liberal - was given one-tenth of the money that successive Administrations propose spending on the Northern Territory, it would induce more white settlement in ten years than will be induced in the Northern Territory in fifty.
– You cannot keep your population now.
– We have the second densest population in the Commonwealth.
– You got nearly £1,000,000 out of the Commonwealth.
– We should have got £2,500,000 if we had received our dues. We have a dependency in King Island, and very few Tasmanian State or Commonwealth legislators have ever visited it or Flinders Island, yet those islands are attracting large numbers of Victorian settlers. Those gentlemen who think that Tasmania has no attractions should remember that there are 14,000 or 15,000 Victorians settled in Tasmania, and that King Island is attracting a large Victorian population. It would attract more, both from Victoria and Tasmania, if better facilities in the shape of postal and telephonic communication were afforded to put them# in a better condition as regards modern conveniences. Money spent in developing King Island and Flinders Island in this direction will yield a rich return in the way of white settlement, will add to the development of Victoria and Tasmania in particular, and of the Commonwealth in general. I will conclude my remarks by again asking the Minister of Defence to take into consideration the desirableness of instituting an even more vigorous policy than we have hitherto adopted in aiding the Forces of the Empire in this great world struggle.
– Senator Keating asked me yesterday whether the Attorney-General was prepared to make any statement in regard to the military raids which have recently been carried out. In this connexion I have obtained’ from the Attorney-General the following statement : -
As a result of inquiries set on foot under the emergency legislation recently passed it had been - ascertained that the control of themarket in metals had long been - to a great extent - in the hands of Germans, or of corporations which, even when British in name, were in fact controlled and chiefly owned inGermany.
It was further ascertained that this control was, in great measure, continuing after th<» declaration of war, and there was reason to believe that a great part of the profits of the metal trade was finding its way into German-, pockets; whilst there was much doubt whether adequate precautions were being taken to prevent the products themselves, which are of a kind to be of service to warlike operations, getting to enemy territory. There were also reasons for believing that attempts to trade with the enemy were being made.
In time of war, when the national safetyis at stake, it is not always possible to con- sider private feelings, and it was thought proper that the information required should be obtained by the use of the emergency powers conferred by Parliament.
The results of the inquiry cannot yet be stated; except to say that information has been obtained which justified the action taken.
I hope shortly to make a fuller statement on the matter. In those cases where investigation discloses no grounds for action the Fullest publicity will be given to this fact, so that no citizen may remain unjustly under the shadow of suspicion of having in any way helped the enemy.
At this late hour I do not propose to deal with all the matters that have been touched upon by honorable senators. I merely wish to say that a note has been made of the points raised by them, and that their remarks will be brought under the notice of Ministers who preside over the particular Departments concerned. This will apply to the observations of Senator Beady in regard to the inquiry conducted by the Fruit Commission. Concerning a connexion at Eucla with the transcontinental line - a matter which was brought forward by Senator Lynch - I can assure him that it will receive attention at the hands of the Government at an early date. The question of the suspension of the fodder duties has already been considered, and the Government are not in favour of adopting that course. It must be remembered that the policy of this country is a protective one, and that there are parts of the Commonwealth which are producing a considerable amount of fodder to-day. At the same time, the Ministry believe that in another way they can protect the interests of those who are in a rather bad position because of an exorbitant increase in the price of fodder consequent upon the drought. With that end in view, the Minister of Trade and Customs is at present conducting inquiries which he believes will be successful. In regard to the question raised by Senators Story and Lynch as to the desirableness of establishing horse-breeding stations for the purpose of providing army remounts, I can only say that there are a great number of things which I should like to see done in order to make us more selfcontained. We should all like to produce many things for which in the past we have been dependent on the Mother Country. The establishment of horse-breeding depots is one of these things. As a matter of fact, I was the first Minister to collect data with a view to making a commencement in that direction ? But honorable senators are well aware that this year will be a very severe one for the Commonwealth from a financial point of view, and we have to recollect that the establishment of horsebreeding stations would accomplish nothing in the way of providing army remounts in the immediate future. That being so, it would do nothing to meet immediate requirements, and consequently it must stand over till the financial prospects of the Commonwealth are brighter than they are at present. The same remark applies also to other matters of a kindred nature. In regard to Senator Bakhap’s observations the fact that a large number of men in uniforms arc to be seen about the streets of the various cities of the Commonwealth has caused people who do not know better to attribute everything that has been done by these men to the Expeditionary Forces, and to draw the conclusion that too much leave has been given them, and that not sufficient attention has been paid to their training. I know that a number of honorable senators have visited the training camps in their respective States and they must know that a very vigorous course of training is in progress. If they were connected with the Defence Department, they would not be there a day before they would become aware of the fact that complaints are numerous that the training to which these men are subjected is too harsh, and that insufficient time for recreation is allowed them. Until recently there were in camp in Melbourne 11,000 men who were being trained for the Expeditionary Forces. In addition, for the purpose of providing the necessary guard on mobilization for local defence, there were between 3,000 and 4,000 others within easy radius of this city. There was also a constant movement of troops to and from the country. It will thus be seen that there were 14,000 men in and around Melbourne. We must not forget the inevitable temptation, when the war fever is at its height, to every man who has a uniform to put it on. The result is that we have an excessive number of men in uniform about our streets. But if only 5 per cent, of the forces which were recently in training were allowed leave of absence, there would be no less than 700 uniformed men about the streets of this city. They would form a considerable proportion of tlie pedestrian traffic. I mention this fact to show that an excessive amount of leave has not been given, and that the training to which our troops have been subjected has been fairly rigorous.
– The Minister’s explanation seems to me to be fairly satisfactory.
– I hope that honorable senators who have spoken will pardon me if I have overlooked the matters with which they have dealt. I can assure ‘ them that a note has been made of the subjects upon which they touched, andthat their remarks will be brought under the notice of the Ministers concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Gardiner) read a first time.
Land Tax: Fines - Ten Shilling Bank Notes - Arbitration Court: Letter Carriers’ Claim - Port Adelaide to Darwin Steam-ship Service - Papua Steam-ship Service - Employment of Germans at Rabaul - Expeditionary Forces : Canteens - Citizen Forces : Service Outside Commonwealth - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway: Mr. Teesdale Smith’s Contract - Map of Australia - Conveyance of Members: Western Australia.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 postponed.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
– In the Department of the Treasury, under the heading of “Miscellaneous,” I observe an item which reads “Remission of fines under land tax, £300.” I would like some information as to why these fines were remitted, and as to the number of persons who were involved in them.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia honorable senator will look at the annual report of the Land Tax Commissioner, he will find that each year a number of fines are imposed, the remission of which, on subsequent appeal, is justified by circumstances. If he desires the names of the individuals concerned, and the amount of the fines in each case, I must ask him to move that that information be supplied by way of a return.
– I notice that the last report of the Land Tax Commissioner, though it was full of valuable information, did not contain a tabulated statement of the gradations of the tax. I think that it should contain such a statement. Honorable senators who have access to the Parliamentary Library are in a position to hunt up the incidence of the tax; but, to my mind, a small tabulated statement such as I have suggested would materially improve the very excellent report which is now issued.
– I will bring the suggestion of the honorable senator under the notice of the Treasurer. I understand that what he seeks to learn is the scale of the tax.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the Government intended to print a 10s.- note of a more distinctive character than the present note, as the latter had led to a good many mistakes being made, and was on that account more or less unpopular for general use, and the answer was that the matter would be considered. I would be glad to know whether, since then, the question has been considered, and, if so, wilh what result.
– Yes. As I told the honorable senator then, it is intended to alter the note, and the necessary dies for that purpose are being altered.
– There is before the Arbitration Court a case in which the Letter Carriers Association is involved, and owing to certain procedure, which I understand is now necessary at that Court, the association has been put to considerable expense and inconvenience, if not worse. I am informed that Mr. Justice Powers is being called away to Sydney to attend to cases coming before the High Court. I think it is distinctly unfair that men who have all the witnesses at hand should have had to suffer this inconvenience and loss, perhaps ‘keeping some witnesses waiting until the business of the High Court at Sydney has been disposed of, possibly in a fortnight, when the case at Melbourne will be resumed. There must be something wrong. If there are not enough Judges one or more should be appointed in order to overcome an obvious injustice of that kind. I shall be glad if the Minister concerned will take a note of my complaint with a view of bringing it under the attention of the Attorney-General for rectification.
– I will bring the matter under the notice of the Attorney-General. The honorable senator is aware, of course, that the Judge who generally presides in the Arbitration Court is away having, I may say, a well-earned holiday. That, possibly, is one of the causes of the present inconvenience.
– Under the head of Northern Territory, on page 7 of the schedule, I see an item of £500 for a subsidy for a steam-ship service from Port Adelaide to Darwin. Is that a new service?
– No. This item has appeared on the Estimates before, and has been approved by Parliament.
.- Under the head of Papua, on page 6, I see an item of £650 for a new Government steamer. I would like to know what the money is required for.
– This sum is towards the construction of a new steamer to take the place of the Merrie England. The honorable senator is aware, I suppose, that a new steamer is being provided for Papua, and this sum of £650 is proportioned to the annual vote.
– When I asked a moment ago whether the subsidy of £500 was intended for a new service, the Vice-President of the Executive Council said, “No; it is required for a service already established.”
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. He referred to a subsidy for a steam-ship service from Port Adelaide to Darwin, and I said that the item of £500 was’ required for a service which was already established, and the estimate for which had previously been passed by Parliament. Senator McDougall asked me a question about a new item for the construction of a steamer to take the place of the Merrie England. These are two distinct items.
– I would like to ask the Minister if the item about which Senator McDougall inquired refers to the construction of a steamer or to its upkeep. If it refers to construction, would it not appear in the Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill which will come before us shortly ?
– No ; it is for a new Government steamer.
– That would not appear in an ordinary Supply Bill. Is it not in the other Bill ?
– Not an item for a steamer for the Department of External Affairs.
– Would it not come into the schedule of the Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill?
– That would be for a steamer under the Home Affairs Department.
– If an item for a subsidy for a steamship service from Port Adelaide to Darwin was included in the Estimates for last year, I did not see it, and for that reason I am endeavouring to get some information. Did it appear on the Estimates last year for the first time, and, if so, can the Minister state to what company the subsidy is to be given, for what period, and for what particular purpose ?
– I did not come prepared with the information desired, but I will make a note, and see that the information is obtained for the honorable senator. This item appeared on the Estimates for last year, I think, for the first time.
– Last year there was an anti-Labour Government ‘n power, but that is no reason why we should pass this item.
– On Wednesday, Senator Keating raised a question as to the employment of Germans in New Britain, and I understood the Minister to say that he was unaware of the fact. Since then I have come upon a clipping from a Brisbane newspaper, which seems to show that there was a good deal in the remarks made by the honorable senator. The clipping reads -
Administration at Rabaul.
The New Regime
Sydney, November 1
By the instructions of the new Administrator (Colonel W. Holmes) the publication has been begun of an English OfficialGazette in that portion of New Guinea taken from the Germans. The first copy of what is a very creditable production has been received here. German postage stamps found in New Guinea are being made use of by the new Administration. They have had the letters G. R. I. stamped on them, and the values have been altered to suit the new circumstances. According to the OfficialGazette issued at Rabaul, the services of some of the German officials by whose aid the former Administration was carried on have been retained. These officials, who had taken the oath of neutrality, will hold their positions under the new regime for a period not exceeding three months from September 12. Arrangements have been made for the transaction of banking business for the convenience of the naval, military, and civil population. The issue of Treasury notes, which will be accepted as legal tender throughout the colony, has been approved by the Administrator.
From this extract it appears fairly clear that something has happened, because the announcement appeared in an official gazette issued by Colonel Holmes.
– I have already promised Senator Gould, in reply to a question, that I will investigate this matter, and give an answer as soon as the information comes to hand A reply has not yet been received, and I remind the honorable senator that the question was asked yesterday.
– It would seem as if the Government are not very well informed on these matters when the public can get possession of information of this kind, of which Ministers seem to be wholly ignorant.
– The Minister said yesterday that in the despatches he had received there was no reference to these matters.
– This apparently is an official publication.
– It is remarkable that persons throughout the Commonwealth can get a copy of this publication, and that the Defence Department has not received it.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item, “ Expeditionary Force, £925,000,” by £1.
I do not wish to deal with this matter from a personal point of view. I submit this request, because I believe that the action taken by the Minister of Defence is not warranted, and is not calculated to give satisfaction to the men who are called upon to come forward and do the work which is necessary in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces we are sending from Australia. Yesterday I asked several questions of the Minister. The first question was -
Is it a fact that no wet canteens are allowed in any camp in connexion with the Expeditionary Forces?
The reply I received was -
Wet canteens have been abolished inall camps.
The second question was as follows -
Are members of the Expeditionary Forces prohibited from taking alcoholic drinks into camp?
The answer of the Minister was -
The men are prohibited from taking alcoholic liquor into camp.
The third question read -
Does this prohibition apply to officers of the Forces?
The Minister replied in these terms -
The same prohibition does apply to officers.
The fourth question was -
Have the wet canteens been prohibited on all the troopships in the employ of the Commonwealth ?
The Minister gave this reply -
Wet canteens were allowed on the first troopships, but are not to be allowed on any future troopships.
I do not believe that in a matter of this description the power should be placed in the hands of one man to adopt a regulation that affects the welfare of a large number of men who are volunteering to do work which is necessary. These men are to be called upon to take great risks, and every provision should be made for their comfort, and every inducement held out to them to volunteer their services. It is not fair that we should treat them like a lot of children, but that is what the regulation issued by the Minister does. This matter came up for consideration in this Parliament some years ago, when Mr. Mauger, then member of the House of Representatives for Maribyrnong, introduced a Bill to abolish canteens in connexion with camps. The Bill was passed in another place practically without discussion, and when it came to this Chamber Senator Pulsford moved the second reading. I did not believe in the principles of the measure, and started an opposition to it. The late Senator Neild secured the adjournment of the debate, and then set himself to make inquiries from all the officers of the Commonwealth Forces with whom he was acquainted. In nearly every instance the replies he received from those officers were to the effect that they advocated the establishment of wet canteens in camps where men were carrying out their training. The men who have volunteered their services for the Expeditionary Forces are drawn from every walk of life. They are, presumably, reasonably honest and respectable citizens. They are not potential drunkards, though they appear to be regarded as such by the Defence Department. They are being treated as though they could not be trusted to expend a few coppers in the purchase of a glass of ale at a canteen. No spirits are sold to the men in these canteens. When I was in Brisbane I made inquiries on the subject from a number of officers, who were agreed that it was a decidedly good thing to supply the men, under certain restrictions, with the refreshment they required, so long as they were not supplied with spirits and were not able to obtain large quantities of liquor If we take the case of a man engaged in an ordinary occupation outside, we shall find that if he requires a glass of beer at the lunch hour he is able to get it. If he prefers to wait until he has knocked off work for the day, he is able to obtain what he requires by paying for it. No one will say that because a man, after a hard day’s work, purchases a glass of ale, he is a drunkard in the making. He is not regarded with suspicion by the people with whom he associates. He is not considered an outcast because he goes into a hotel to have a glass of liquor. There is a great deal of pandering to a sentiment here in favour of absolute prohibition.
– They give rum and water to the soldiers in the trenches.
– That is all right; they are not Australian soldiers. They are British soldiers, and in Great Britain the authorities do not attempt to interfere with men in this way. They supply wet canteens for the convenience of their soldiers. But here, when a man volunteers to do a necessary work for the defence of the country, restrictions are imposed upon him which he would not submit to in connexion with his ordinary occupation. I could quite understand the owner of a factory adopting as his policy a refusal to employ any but total abstainers, though I have not yet come across any firm that did adopt such a policy. But when we are calling upon men to come forward in the service of the country, we do not confine our invitation to total abstainers. I have visited the various camps, and I should like to say that if we had confined our invitation to total abstainers, there would have been comparatively few men offering themselves for our Expeditionary Forces. The bulk of the men who have volunteered are temperate men, but not total abstainers. They are men who are sufficiently strong-willed to take a glass qf beer when they want it, and to leave it alone when they do not. I have always contended that such men are our best citizens. They live a reasonable, temperate life, and are not obsessed with the idea of total abstinence from the good things of life. Mr. Mauger got his Bill through the House of Representatives without difficulty, but when it reached the Senate it was debated on five or six different occasions, and when a division was taken it was passed out by a majority of ten. The division was taken on the 30th August, 1906, and it will be found that six voted for the Bill, and sixteen against it.
– What is the value of that ancient history, when Parliament, since then, has registered another opinion ?
– I was rather surprised when I informed the Minister of Defence to-day that I intended to take this action, to learn that the prohibition of wet canteens in camps of ordinary trainees has been provided for in the
Defence Act of 1912. But I remind honorable senators that I am not here dealing Avith camps of trainees, but with numbers of men, most of whom have never been in a military camp before, and who have voluntarily offered their services from every part of Australia. I do not believe that liquor should be served out to junior cadets, but in the case of our ordinary trainees I should not be prepared, under the Defence Act, to prevent them obtaining the refreshment they require in camp, when they have arrived at manhood, and have been accustomed to leading a reasonably free life outside. I am dealing, in this case, with men who have been brought into camp from every part of Australia, and I say that it is wrong that any one man should have the power to enforce a regulation providing that men volunteering to do patriotic work for Australia should be penalized for their willingness to share in the defence of Australia and the Empire. I regard it as a punishment upon men who have been accustomed to obtain the refreshment they desire. I should regard it as a punishment if, at the close of my day’s work, I were not permitted to obtain what I required in the way of refreshment.
– The honorable senator might regard it as a punishment if he was not allowed to go outside after his day’s work.
– In this case it is not a question of men going to work in the morning, and being- able to knock off when they please, as these volunteers may be kept in camp at the instance of their officers. The wet canteen was instituted at first, because it was thought better that refreshment should be provided for the men in camp than that they should be allowed to go outside to obtain it, when they would probably drink a great deal more than they would be able to obtain in camp. I am sure that the Minister of Defence would not for a moment say that he would only accept total abstainers as members of the Expeditionary Forces; but his regulation offers no inducement to volunteer to men who have been in the habit of obtaining what they require in the way of refreshment, and have not been accustomed to make fools of themselves. Suppose Ave tried to adopt the same regulation iu this Par liament. It has been tried here, and in another place a resolution was carried that the bar upstairs should be done away with. Why should it? I do not see any members of this Parliament under the influence of liquor. I know of none who is not able to take care of himself, or is unable, because- of his indulgence in liquor, to look after the business he was sent here to do. Yet there are people who, if they had their way, would tomorrow do away with the accommodation provided for members of this Parliament. The majority of the members of the Senate declined to give way in this matter. They were agreed that, as they had their work to do here, the accommodation required should be provided for them, and they are prepared to pay for what they obtain at the refreshment bar. I think that is fair. If members of this Parliament were not able to control their appetite for alcoholic drink; if they were found lying drunk about the chamber, or rolling about the Queen’s Hall, that would be an excuse for saying that it was not right that there should be any refreshment bar in this building. But I think that something like that should be proved before the bar is done away with. And the same rule should apply in the consideration of the matter in connexion with our military camps. If we demand a refreshment bar for our convenience, it is fair that we should do to the men iu the camps what we should wish them to do to us. They have as much right to have this accommodation provided for them as Ave have to have it provided for us. “Many of them have given up good positions to volunteer for service in defence of the country, and Ave should treat them fairly. I do not wish to say too much about the misnamed temperance party. I do not regard them as advocates of temperance. I consider that the temperate man is the man who is able to control his appetite.
– The honorable senator does not recognise them as the total abstinence part,7
– They are the total abstinence party, and they want to force their opinions down the throats of every one else, many of whom are not able to control their own appetites and judge other people by themselves. I have heard the most intemperate state- ments from those who call themselves temperance men. About three Christmases ago, in Brisbane, a man who had come out from the Old Country as a sort cf temperance missionary, made to me the astounding statement that he had never seen so much drunkenness in his life as he had seen in the streets of Brisbane. I asked him if he had ever been in the East End of London on an ordinary Saturday night. He said, “Yes, but I have never seen such excesses as I have seen in Brisbane.” My wife and myself had happened to go through the Brisbane streets on that Christmas Eve, from the bridge on the top of Queen-street, through Fortitude Valley, and back again, and T remarked that I had only seen two or three men under the influence of liquor, although it was late.
– Was this gentleman sober ?
– Does the honorable senator mean to insinuate that the advocate of total abstinence was nor sober? Of course he was sober, but that was the sort of intemperance that characterized his statements. I do not know why we have to pay such great deference to these total abstinence organizations. The policy of the State Labour party, which I have signed, advocates the State monopoly of the importation and sale of liquor. I believe in that policy to-day. I have signed it, and would sign it again to-morrow, and I know total abstainers belonging to Rechabite associations who have signed it, and got into Parliament on it. The only way to deal with the question is to have it under proper control. In a camp the men are under control, and the sale of liquor can be regulated. On board a troopship there is no possibility of a man being able to obtain more than a certain quantity. In those cases the proper regulation of the supply of liquor seems to me to cany out the policy enunciated by the Labour party in every State for the State control of liquor. The Labour party have done more for temperance in this country than all the temperance organizations from Cape York to the Leeuwin. When we started the Labour party in Queensland we did not trust to the total abstinence societies for support. We went out to the men who had never dreamt of total abstinence, the men who knocked down their cheques when they earned them, and* we preached temperance to them. Wo showed them that the wisest policy was for a man always to have control of himself, and not throw his money away as they had been doing. There are thousands of those men living to-day just as temperate a life as myself or the honorable senator. We have been able to do a great deal of work by example and propaganda efforts in that direction, On the other hand, we have got from the total abstinence people all the opposition and misrepresentation that they could devise to keep the Labour party out of politics altogether.
– You have had that from the publicans, too.
– I do not claim that we have had a great deal of support from the hotelkeepers either, but when they have been against us they have come out honestly and opposed us in the open; whereas I have known temperance advocates prepared to support a man engaged in the wholesale liquor line as against a Labour man who was a total abstainer by choice, but did not belong to their organizations. We are not indebted to those men for the position which the Labour party has attained in the State and Commonwealth Parliaments. We have had to contest everything against them. The action of the Minister may be satisfactory to Brother Worrall or Brother Mauger, or others who have been advocating this policy for years. They may say, “We have a good, kind Labour Government in power, who will put our policy into effect.” If we have nothing to do but to carry out the policy of those who have been opposed to us all the time, they would be better here themselves to cany it out.
– I am carrying out the policy of Parliament.
– It is not the policy of Parliament. This is not a training camp as constituted by the Defence Act ; it is a camp at which there is a body of volunteers who have been asked to come forward in the Empire’s hour of need, and we have no right to victimize or penalize them. To test the feeling of the Committee on the. question, I submit my motion.
– I ask the honorable senator not to press the motion. To-morrow I shall introduce an amending Defence Bill, and if he feels strongly on the question he can move an amendment raising the whole issue, and enabling both Houses to register an opinion on it, because in that Bill we are asking for power to raise Expeditionary Forces. I take exception to the statement that the power to abolish canteens has been placed in the hands of one man. I have not played the part of an autocrat in this matter, but have simply acted in accordance with the will of Parliament as expressed in the Defence Act. Section 123a provides -
No intoxicating or spirituous liquors shall be sold or supplied, and no person shall have such intoxicating or spirituous liquors in his possession, at any naval or military canteen, camp, fort, or post during such time as training of persons as prescribed in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of section 125 is proceeding in such naval or military camp, fort, or post, except as prescribed for purely medical purposes.
Paragraph c of section 125 provides that those in camp shall be men from eighteen to twenty-five years of age in the Citizen Forces. The honorable senator spoke as if the prohibition applied only to cadets. It does not. No cadets are taken into camp. The only ones taken into camp are those from eighteen to twenty-five years of age. We have no statutory power to raise Expeditionary Forces. That has been done as an Executive act. In the Bill I am introducing” to-morrow we are taking the statutory power. In the meantime I have to carry out the Executive act, and assume certain statutory powers. One question which I have to decide is whether or not there shall be a canteen.
– Why was the canteen permitted for the first Expeditionary Force ?
– It was permitted by the late Minister in defiance of the Act. I have to assume that the Act registers the opinion of Parliament until Parliament alters it. Parliament has not altered it yet.
– That Act did not in any way contemplate such a camp as this.
– It does. It says, “Any naval or military canteen, camp, fort, or post.” The only guide I have to the will of Parliament is the Act, and I have acted in regard to the Expeditionary camps exactly as the Defence Act enjoins me to act in regard to the other camps. The men in these camps are no older in the great majority of cases than the men who will be in the Citizen camps in a year or two. Last year one-third of the men were twenty-one years of age, and in three years’ time we shall have men of twenty-five years in camp. Parliament has said that a canteen shall not bc established in those camps, and I am justified in taking this as the will of Parliament. If it is not the will of Parliament Parliament can register its will in the Defence Bill to-morrow. That is the proper course, instead of moving the reduction of an item in a Supply Bill. I shall oppose any such amendment in the Defence Bill, but shall make no complaint if Parliament alters it. Parliament can alter it altogether or alter it as regards the canteens in the Expeditionary camps. The honorable senator will have full power under that Bill to ascertain the will of both Houses. By so doing he will not raise any question of reducing the amount of the Supply Bill, and thus provoking a conflict between the two branches of the Legislature. I trust, therefore, that he will see his way to withdraw his proposal, and to raise it on the Defence Bill, which will be before us to-morrow. At this late hour I do not intend to argue the question. We must pass this Supply Bill tonight, and therefore I appeal to the honorable senator not to press his .proposal but to bring it forward to-morrow.
– When this particular provision was inserted in the Defence Bill, I was not in the Chamber, or I would have opposed it, because I do not believe in it. I was astonished when the Minister informed me that such a power was contained in the Act, although I know that it does not apply to our Expeditionary Forces. Those Forces are composed of men who have volunteered for service abroad, and they should not be penalized for so doing. But if the Minister prefers that I should move in this matter when the Defence Bill is under consideration to-morrow, I am pre- pared to adopt that course. It is true that honorable senators have left this building, but that is not a matter under my control. However, I am prepared to meet the Minister, and, consequently, I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– When the_ Address-in-Reply was being considered in this Chamber a discussion took place as to the advisableness or otherwise of compelling our Citizen Forces to serve outside the Commonwealth. In this connexion I would like to direct attention to section 49 of the Defence Act 1903-11, which reads -
Members of the Defence Forces who are members of the Military Forces shall not be required, unless they voluntarily agree to do so, to serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth, and those of any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth.
It is quite clear, therefore, that it was never contemplated that our Defence Forces should serve beyond the limits of the Commonwealth unless they volunteered to do so. When the Minister was speaking on the Address-in-Reply, and discussing matters of defence, he said -
I wish now to say a few words regarding Senator Milieu’s suggestion that our defence scheme makes no provision for service abroad. That has always struck me as a weakness, for thu reason that in the very expeditions that wore recently organized by the late Government for service in the Pacific, in our sphere of influence and in islands practically in our own seas, we could not send a single soldier unless he were a volunteer. There was no organization in existence for dealing with those islands. That does seem to me to be a weakness, and it is one which, when the present trouble is over, any Government which may be in power must set themselves seriously to think over and to deal with. It will be all the more necessary to deal with it in the future because, if the war turns out as we all hope it will, our sphere of influence will be widened by the fact that what were formerly German Possessions are Possessions under the British flag, and with the consent of the Allies may, after the war, remain under that flag.
Now that statement has been construed by some people as a declaration of an intention on the part of the Government to alter the Defence Act in the direction of making it compulsory for our Citizen Forces to serve outside the boundaries of the Commonwealth. Personally, I am inclined to believe that neither the Minister nor the Government intend that. But certain statements have been published in the press which possibly misinterpret the intentions of the Minister and of the Government, and as these have provoked a considerable amount of comment, and as I hold that our Defence Forces should not be obliged to serve outside the Commonwealth
– It may be necessary.
– If it be necessary, let them serve voluntarily. So far there has been no indication that our men would not volunteer if their services were required. It would be disastrous for Australia and our Defence Act if at any time our citizens were compelled to serve in an unjust war.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he might hear my explanation ?
– Yes ; but it is just as well that it should be preceded by an expression of my own views. I am not prejudicing the case of the Minister in any way. Rather I am endeavouring to put the Government right in the eyes of the people of Australia. I hope that, it is not their intention to alter the Act in the direction I have suggested. I shall be glad to have a statement from the Minister as to what is the Government policy on this question?
– I think that the persons to whom Senator Mullan has referred must either have read some garbled account of my utterance appearing in the pre3s - I have received letters asking for information on the subject which indicate- that some such garbled account has appeared - or they have read into my remarks what certainly no reasonable person could gather from them. My observations were based on the remarks of Senator Millen, who said -
All the preparation has been made in contemplation of some raiding party coming here, and we have made none for facing’ such an emergency as has recently called us to action. That is, we have made no preparation for service abroad. The result is that when this call came there had to be a great deal nf extemporization. There was not a single man, officer, uniform, cartridge, or gun earmarked for anything but service in Australia. I do not think it necessary, nor do I believe Australia would approve of any enrolment of troops in time of peace for service abroad, nor am I suggesting it.
If Senator Mullan will turn to my remarks he will see that when I made them I was approving of the suggestion made by Senator Millen. I said that there was no organization in existence for dealing with these islands. I added -
That does seem to me to be a weakness, and it is one which, when the present war is over, any Government which may be in power must set themselves seriously to think over and to deal with.
Anybody who can read into those remarks a declaration that I am in favour of forcing our Citizen Forces to serve outside Australia is looking for an opportunity to twist my meaning.
– The honorable senator contemplated the area being extended 1
– Yes. But if any assurance is needed on the matter, my opinion to-day is the same as it was when the first Defence Bill was introduced into this Parliament. In that Bill it was proposed that power should be taken to compel troops to serve outside the Commonwealth. I was one of the first to attack that provision. At the same time, my statement, which has been quoted, is not inconsistent with a recognition that, with the altered position in the Pacific, we shall require some organization which will be able to act promptly, and to despatch for service abroad men who are willing to go there. We shall require that organization in time of peace, because we shall not have time to improvise it in time of war. But’ that is not a policy in favour of compelling persons who have no wish to do so to serve outside Australia.
– I am glad to be able to deduce from the Minister’s remarks that it is not either his policy or that of the Government to depart from the Defence Act, which provides that our Citizen Forces shall not be compelled to serve outside Australia except with their own consent. When I raised this question, I did so because the Government were, in my opinion, being attacked under a misapprehension. It now appears, from the Minister’s remarks, that nobody holding similar views to my own can be other than satisfied with his explanation.
I notice from the press that certain penalties to which Mr. Teesdale Smith rendered himself liable, for nonfulfilment of his contract have been refunded to him.
– They have been set off against other claims.
– I would like to know whether this has been done at the instance of an individual Minister, or whether the Government accept responsi bility for it ? I desire fuller information, because I am not at all satisfied with this condonation of Mr. Teesdale Smith’s action .
– In reply to the remarks of Senator Mullan, I may say that the amount involved was very small, and that the slight delay which occurred ia the completion of the contract caused no inconvenience. Instead of penalties having been remitted, it ought rather to be said that an adjustment of accounts has been made as between the Department and Mr. Teesdale Smith. If fuller information is supplied to the honorable senator, I am sure he will be satisfied that neither the Department nor the public suffered any injustice as the result of the slight delay which took place in the completion of the contract.
– I am not at all satisfied with the explanation of the Assistant Minister; but as the hour is late I am content to wait for further information before saying anything more upon this matter.
– I had occasion to invite the attention of, I think, Senator McColl, when he was Vice-President of the Executive Council, to the desirability of furnishing a firstclass map of the Commonwealth and its Dependencies, to be hung in this Chamber. Honorable senators will readily agree, I ‘think, that such a map would be most valuable to elucidate points in our arguments from time to time. I invite the Assistant Minister to take into consideration .the promise of, I think, Senator McColl, and see whether the Senate could not be supplied with a suitable map.
– The map is undergoing alterations at the present time.
– Most decidedly, we will have a new map. But, seriously, I think it would be a very proper thing for the Government to carry out my suggestion.
– This is a matter which, I understand, comes under the notice of the President. I trust that those senators who are anxious to- have a map hung here will co-operate with the President, and I think that I can promise that the Department of Home Affairs will do its share to supply .a map for the Chamber.
– Among the miscellaneous items for the Home Affairs Department 1 see that a sum is required for the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. .1 do not suppose that the item interests any section of members of Parliament so much as it concerns the representatives of Western Australia, because there we have a private railway connecting one part of our railway system with the other. Unless a member procures a ticket he cannot travel over the private line. I may mention that the time allowed for getting a ticket is very limited. A member of Parliament is hauled before the officers of the railway company; and treated almost as though he was a thief. The State members are able to travel over the private line, owing to an arrangement which exists between the State Government and the private company.
– Do you not think that it would be a good thing to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister?
– I suppOse it would be. I may mention that I have been waiting for a chance to ventilate this grievance, because it affects the representatives of Western Australia more than it affects the representatives of’ any other state. .
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 3.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. The Treasury officials assure me that the items included in the Schedule to this measure are all based on the estimates for works which have already been authorized by Parliament. It simply provides for the monthly payments on account of the works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment.
Senate adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 November 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141112_senate_6_75/>.