6th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister of Defence yet in a position to inform the Senate when the new issue of 10s. notes will be available to the public?
– The honorable senator’s question is not quite in the form in which it was put before, but the reply to the previous question is as follows: -
In future 10s. notes will have the words “ half-sovereign “ clearly printed in red ink on the four margins. The back of the note has also been altered, so as to make it more distinctive. It is intended to issue an entirely new 10s. note, and an entirely new £ 10 note as soon as possible.
– Does the Minister of Defence care to give to the Senate an official intimation as to the rumoured destruction of certain German cruisers?
– We have received through the Governor-General a notification that a British Squadron has been successful in sinking the German warships Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, and Liepzig, and is in pursuit of two other vessels of the same fleet, and that the casualties on the British ships were very light.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General now in a position to answer the questions I asked last week respecting the clearance of pillar receivers at Hobart ?
– I have received the following communication from the Department : -
The Deputy Postmaster-General at Hobart has telegraphed the following information : -
Cleared at midnight instead of 5 a.m.
To prevent congestion and allow further radius of clearances to be made for convenience of suburban residents.
Does not apply elsewhere at present.
The Deputy Postmaster-General is being asked for fuller particulars of the circulars which led up to the alteration of hour of clearances of the pillar receivers.
– Is it true, as stated, that the Commonwealth Government, who I understand propose to make use of the interned German steamer at Hobart, intend to bring her across to the mainland for the purpose of effecting some repairs and certain alterations? Is the Minister of Defence not aware that all the alterations and repairs that may be deemed necessary, can be carried out very well in the place where the vessel is interned?
– I assume that the honorable senator is referring to the German ship Oberhausen?
– It is not intended to use the ship as a transport, and, therefore, no alterations are proposed to be made to her.
– Is it intended to put her to any other use?
– We intend to put the steamer to other use, but no alteration or fitting up is intended to be carried out on her.
– On Thursday last I asked the Minister of Defence some questions with reference to the launching of the cruiser Brisbane ; on the motion for adjournment I intimated that I felt dissatisfied with the replies, and the honorable senator promised to make fresh inquiries. Has he made those inquiries ?
– Yes. The inquiries were as to whether there was not a scheme submitted by the previous acting manager. A search in the Navy Office disclosed that no such scheme is there, and an instruction was sent to Cockatoo Island Dockyard to ascertain if any such scheme is in its archives, but no reply has been received.
– It was in the Navy Office in Melbourne in May,1913.
Exploration and Survey - Subsidized Mines
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs the following questions : -
– I shall have inquiries made, and endeavour to get the information that the honorable senator desires.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs say when we are likely to get the return ordered by the Senate on the 20th November, relating to the number and names of mines in the Northern Territory which have been subsidized by the Government? Perhaps the Minister will undertake to expedite the furnishing of the return.
– The information has been requested from the Northern Territory, and the return will be expedited by the Department. The honorable senator understands that it necessarily takes some time to obtain information from such a distance.
– May I ask whether the Department of External Affairs is waiting to get the information by steamer, or has asked that it should be supplied by telegraph ? If we are to wait to have the information supplied by steamer, we may not get it for the next three or four weeks.
– I shall have inquiries made with a view to expediting the return.
– On the 2nd December, the Minister of Defence laid on the table a paper referring to the treatment of alien enemies in Australia. The Senate ordered the paper to be printed, and I should like to know when it will be circulated amongst honorable senators.
– The paper referred to was sent to the Government Printer in the usual course, and honorable senators may confidently expect that it will be placed in their hands in a day or two. The Government Printing Office is at the present time very much congested with work, and it is impossible to say within a day or two when a paper ordered to be printed can be circulated to honorable senators.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is now in a position to supply the information which I sought some time ago in connexion with the removal of certain names from the Port Cygnet electoral roll?
– The reply to the question put by the honorable senator is as follows: -
The names of Bridget Direen, of Wattle Grove, and Bridget Direen, of Petchey’s Bay, were removed from the roll for the subdivision of Port Cygnet, by direction of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer (not by objection), in consequence of persons of the same names, and whom the Commonwealth Electoral Officer deemed, from the information before him, to be identical with the electors referred to, having secured enrolment upon the roll for the subdivision of Hobart East, Division of Denison, and a notification was sent to each of the persons concerned at the address appearing on the roll, advising her of the removal of her name.
The names have been reinstated on the roll.
The name of Catherine Direen, of Wattle Grove, was not removed from the lists used at the election, and is still on the roll for the subdivision of Port Cygnet.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate say whether it is proposed to ask the Senate this week to sit later than 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon?
– I am not in a position to answer the question definitely, but from present appearances I do not think that it will be necessary to ask the Senate to sit later than 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Honorable senators are aware that there is a general desire to close the sittings of the Parliament this year as early as possible. In view of the condition of business in each House, although it may not be necessary for the Senate to sit beyond the usual hour tomorrow afternoon, it may possibly be necessary to call honorable senators back on Monday or Tuesday next. I shall endeavour to meet the convenience of honorable senators who have to travel to and from the other States as far as I possibly can.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General make available the report of the working of the
Arbitration Court for the last twelve months before the Senate rises for the year?
– If the report can be obtained before Parliament rises, I shall see that it is made available to honorable senators.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act 1903-1912. -Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 166.
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 167.
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 168.
Public Service Act 1902-1913. - Department of Home Affairs - Promotion of S. R. Ephraim, as Clerk, Fourth Class, Accounts Branch, New South Wales, and variation of approval in connexion therewith.
– Pursuant to Statute, I lay on the table of the Senate the Treasurer’s statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1914, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
– Will a copy of the Auditor-General’s report be made available to each member of the Senate before we are asked to proceed with the consideration of the Estimates?
– The paper is already in print, and if action to that end is not taken in another place, I have no doubt that the representatives of the Government in the Senate will be prepared to take the necessary action to see that it is circulated to honorable senators.
– If the paper is already in print, you, sir, can authorize the circulation of it to honorable senators.
– I can only authorize the circulation of sufficient copies of the report to go round amongst honorable senators. I have not received the report yet, but shall do what I can to facilitate its circulation.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2).
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– The answers are -
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Does the Minister’s answer mean that members of the ExpeditionaryForce who are now inVictoria would get a pass to the borders of Victoria if they had to go to other States, or is the concession confined to the Victorian members of the Force at present in this State?
– I take it that, as regards Victoria, the concession applies to the Victorian members only.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Officers of German Birth: Contract for Waggons : Surveillance of Naturalized Subjects: Tamar River Naval Sub-Base
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1. (a) Tenders were not accepted in November, 1912, for ammunition waggons and limbers. Tenders returnable on 16th May, 1913, were, however, invited for the supply of - 32 Limbers, Q.F. 18-pr. Carriage Mark II. 96 Waggons, Ammunition, Q.F. 18-pr. Mark II. 96 Limbers, Ammunition Waggon, Q.F. 18-pr. Mark II.
The successful tenderer for the above waggons was G. H. Olding, Parramatta-road, Glebe, New South Wales.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in the case of a naturalized British subject of ten years’ standing and twenty-five years’ residence in Australia, and of German parentage, the law requires such a person to bc under constant surveillance, and obliged to report himself once a fortnight to the nearest postmaster ?
– The answer is-
Enemy subjects who have been naturalized are not usually required to register or be kept under surveillance. They may, however, be placed under the same restrictions as those who are not naturalized, if thought fit by competent authority.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Government take into consideration the isolated condition of the King Island settlers, and provide wireless communication with King Island without a local monetary contribution?
– The answer is -
The isolated position of King Island was fully considered before the offer was made to the residents in May last. That offer was to establish .a wireless station at the place mentioned, provided the residents guarantee a revenue of £150 per annum for, say, seven years - making a deposit of that sum - and provide the necessary building, thus leaving approximately £150 per annum to be made up by the Department. The Postmaster-General cannot see his way to recommend that communication with King Island should be given without monetary contribution hy the residents, when that condition is insisted upon in all country districts when the estimated revenue is insufficient to warrant the granting of communication without such contribution. .
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The following memorandum has been furnished by the Commonwealth Meteorologist, giving the information desired: -
The following measures have been taken to insure effective warnings of storm conditions on the north-west of Western Australia: -
Reports are interchanged twice daily and more frequently when conditions are critical during the cyclone season between coast telegraph stations, and the information entered on special bulletin forms supplied by the Department. These are posted up for public information.
Special charts of the coast have also been issued to coastal stations, on which the barometer readings, the forecast of the wind, the state of the sea, and weather are plotted.
Standard mercurial barometers are established at all telegraph stations along the coast, and recently at Marble Bar, inland, to complete the chain.
In addition, self-recording barographs have been placed at the more important vantage points, and these are fixed so as to be available to the public.
On the representation of the Weather Bureau, reliable aneroid barometers are now in use on a large number of the luggers of the pearling fleet.
Some 300 special register books for hourly (or more frequent) . readings of the barometer and weather conditions, with position of the vessel at the time, have been supplied to the captains of luggers, and these reports are torn out and posted to the Central Meteorological Office for investigation and special study.
A number of special cards, headed “ Advice to mariners on the north-west coast of Western Australia,” with notes on how to manoeuvre during a storm, have been printed, and issued to the north-western coastal ports and to the Pearling Association.
The recent establishment of a land wireless station at Broome enables the Department toeffectively distribute any warning forecasts to shipping off the coast.
Daily reports are now received from Batavia, and the co-operation of the Dutch Government has been sought to permit of wireless daily weather messages being sent from Timor to Broome, Perth, and Melbourne. In anticipation of its compliance, instruments have been supplied by the Weather Bureau to Captain H. S.Hilliard, Timor, Koepang, Dutch East Indies. This information, it is confidently anticipated, will materially assist us in anticipating the advent of willy-willy ‘ storms.
The State Government has been asked to instruct its officers to assist in the scheme of storm warning by expediting storm signals, and by the explosion of bomb signals.”
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I may say that the total appropriation for works and buildings during the year 1914-15 amounts to £4,303,870, whichis an increase of £1,037,391 over that of last year. The total expenditure last year under this heading was £2,578,095, and there was appropriated, but not expended, the sum of £688,474, making a total appropriation of £3,266,479. I desire now to direct attention to the main items in the Bill. These include Fleet construction, for which an appropriation is sought this year of £750,000. In 1913-14 there was expended under this heading the sum of £753,537, and there was an unexpended balance of £267,950. Upon telephone construction during the current financial year it is proposed to expend £950,000. The amount expended last year in this connexion was £951,221, and there was unexpended £128,479. Upon Federal Capital works for the current financial year the appropriation sought is £270,000.
The amount expended last year was £252,245, and there was an unexpended balance of £32,755. The works connected with the water supply and main sewer of the Capital are being proceeded with. In addition, the erection of brick works, the installation of an electric power plant, and the construction of a storage reservoir for regulating the flow of the upper waters of the Queanbeyan River are being carried out. Upon the Northern Territory the appropriation sought this year is £34,610, the amount expended last year was £50,545, and there was unexpended a balance of £9,305. The construction of the railway from Pine Creek to the Katherine River is proceeding. The installation of an up-to-date tin concentrating plant at the Marranboy field is approaching completion. All the reports concerning this field indicate prospects of considerable richness and permanence. The work of boring for water on the main overland stock routes is proceeding. Messrs. Vestey Brothers, the private . firm which has undertaken to construct extensive meat works at Darwin, have made a start on buildings. It is understood that they propose to install a temporary arrangement for killing and refrigerating, so that the export of frozen meat may be begun early in the coming year. The permanent building will cost upwards of £100,000, and will take at least twelve months to complete. In regard to Papua, work has not yet been commenced on the proposed railway from Astrolabe to Port Moresby, partly on account of the necessity for obtaining further reports from engineers, and partly on account of the uncertainty created by the present financial conditions as to the development of the mining properties on which the proposed railway would depend for the greater portion of its traffic. A valuable report on the oil fields has been presented by Dr. Wade. It is encouraging in its nature, and the Government have decided to proceed with the systematic development of the field. Upon Naval works for the current financial year it is proposed to expend £400,300, an increase of £234,219 over the expenditure of last year. The amount actually spent in that year was £123,950, and there was unexpended the sum of £42,131. There was thus a total appropriation for that year of £166,081. The Naval works, including labour and material, will cost £150,000. They include the following: Flinders Naval Base, £60,000; Henderson Naval Base, £60,000; Port Stephens, £5,000; Garden Island, £14,000; Spectacle Island, £1,000; Brisbane, £3,000; Port Lincoln, £3,000; Albany, £3,000, Northern Territory £1,000. Upon machinery and plant at Naval Bases, it is proposed to expend £100,000. The balance due on contracts may be thus summarized : - Poole and Steel, one dredger, £10,625 ; six dump hopper barges, £28,766; and the erection of a dredger from Scotland, £6,500. The other items are - Steam hopper barge, Flinders and Henderson Naval Bases, £22,000; steam tug, Flinders and Henderson Naval Bases, £5,000; suction dredger appliances, which are to be attached to one of the bucket dredges at the Flinders Naval Base, £16,000; and towards cost of new suction dredger at the Henderson Naval Base, £12,000. The last item relates to the new suction dredger recommended by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice for the Henderson Naval Base. On Cockatoo Island it is estimated that naval engineering works will absorb £100,000, and machines £40,000. Yesterday we received the report of Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice on the proposed work at the Henderson Naval Base. The arrival of that report will enable a commencement to be made upon the various works set out in the Bill.
– Has the Minister received the plans?
– I have seen the report, but I have not yet seen the plans. The report, however, mentions that the plans “have been despatched, and, consequently, I assume that they have arrived. The appropriation for Military Stores during the current financial year is £492,800, a decrease of £17,700, as compared with the appropriation for last year. During the year the amount expended under this heading was £416,842, and the sum unexpended £83,658, making a total of £510,500. Of course, the decrease in the expenditure under this heading is rather an unfortunate one, in that there are a certain number of stores which we cannot now obtain, even if we had the money to pay for them. I do not know that there are any other main items in the Bill with which I need deal, but in Committee the Minister representing the particular Department concerned will be glad to give honorable senators any information they may desire in respect of specific votes.
– It is not my intention to deal at length with any of the sub-headings embodied in this Bill. Honorable senators will quite recognise that, in view of the very brief time available to us to assimilate the information which has been presented to us, our criticisms must necessarily be of a more casual than detailed character. But I wish to plead particularly for a little more elasticity in regard to votes for the public works of this country.
– The honorable senator is speaking as the result of experience.
– Experience has confirmed me in the view which I have frequently expressed here. I quite recognise that these are matters which come more under the heading of administrative reform, and, as they do not appeal very largely to public imagination, there is a tendency’ on the part of honorable senators to ignore them. But I am sure that honorable senators must have been frequently irritated at finding that, although provision has been made in a Bill for some specified work to be carried out, owing to the inability of the Department to spend the whole of the money voted for the work within the financial year for which it was voted, a period of time intervenes before the unexpended balance can be re- voted. That, it seems to me, is an utterly unbusiness-like proceeding. It arises from the provisions of the Audit Act, which cause the Treasury to adopt what is known as the cash system, that is, that every sum appropriated by Parliament and unexpended on the 30th June, lapses and falls back into the Consolidated Revenue, and, therefore, is no longer available for the purpose for which it was appropriated until it is re- voted. That is, I think, an excellent system so far as it applies to the ordinary Public Service, but when you come to deal with public works a different set of conditions presents itself. I believe that the Minister of Defence will agree with me that a very great deal of the delay which arises in the carrying out of public works is due to the fact that, in practice, there is very little more than six months of the year available to the officers to carry the works through. Here, in the middle of December, we are asked to approve of these items, and I presume that Parliament will do so. There will be only six months of the year in which the Department can spend the money. My experience showed me that, even after Parliament approved of a work, there was, in the acquisition of land and other preliminary details - all essential to the work itself - a considerable consumption of time before the Department was really able to make a start. It frequently happened that these negotiations went on for three or four months. It followed that the Department had only a month or, at the most, two months in which to spend the money, and, being brought face to face with the dread 30th June, it was necessary for the Department to hold its hand. That had particular application to the construction of drill halls and rifle ranges. I have a distinct recollection of being warned towards the end of last year of the impossibility of the Department completing certain negotiations and expending the vote within the financial year. Quite a number of cases were held over, not because Parliament turned them down, but because of the inability of getting the negotiations carried through and the money spent within the time prescribed by the Act. I submit that where Parliament has decided that a certain sum shall be appropriated for a. specific work, there is no reason why, if that money is not spent on the 30th June, the work should be brought to a standstill.
– Is it brought to a standstill although it may have been commenced ?
– Probably not. In most of these cases - drill halls, for instance - it is a lump sum which Parliament appropriates. When Parliament has finally approved of a sum being hypothecated for the purpose of a par.ticular work, there is no reason why, because of some apparently unavoidable delays, the Department should be required to hold its hand.
– The Department has no guarantee that after the 30th June Parliament will re-vote the money.
– That is so. I know at once the difficulty that will be raised when anybody attempts to bring about a reform in which the general body of electors are not concerned. I know that the Treasury officials will be bitterly opposed to this proposal, possibly to any other proposal, for a change. Without going to the extreme of resorting to the practice which prevailed in New South Wales for many years, and, so far as I know, in other States, of saying that, where a sum of money is voted, it shall remain appropriated for that purpose for all time, what I suggest for the consideration of the Senate and the Government is that there might be a provision that the money shall remain available for the work for three or six months after the end of the financial year. That period would ordinarily give Parliament time to deal with the Estimates for the next year, and, without bringing the work of construction to a standstill would alsosecure to Parliament the opportunity of revising its previous decision. For the last four or five months I venture to say that the works I refer to have been,, if not brought to a standstill, proceeding slowly. It is known to everybody that Parliament will make provision for a certain work, yet, until it actually approves of the proposed vote, the Department is nob in a position to proceed. It occurs to me that instead of providing for a special period, it might be better to say, “ until the next Estimates are passed.” That would cover up a gap, because there must be a gap between the close of one year and the time when Parliament can make provision for the next year. If the Audit Act were so altered as to provide that the unexpended balance on tha 30th June could still be utilized up to the time when Parliament dealt with the next Works and Buildings Bill, the difficulty I have referred to would disappear. No doubt honorable senators could cite many instances of this difficulty in the localities with which they are familiar. I rose with the view of once again trying to enlist the sympathy of the Senate wit my suggestion. I can see no possible danger of Parliament losing its control over the finances, nor can I see any possible danger of our officers getting out of hand or spending recklessly, or in a way in which Parliament would not approve, because the amounts would only be available for the particular work which Parliament had sanctioned. I do trust, although I have made several efforts in this direction before, that honorable senators will come to think that there is some merit in my suggestion, and if they approve of it, I have not the slightest doubt that it will not be very long before their opinion will make itself felt, even at the doors of the Treasury itself.
– I desire to refer to what I consider a very important matter. I have asked the Minister of Defence several questions with regard to launching plans prepared before the Department commenced to construct the Brisbane. Being a practical ship-builder, having seen many vessels launched, and having kept myself in touch with the launching of heavy vessels all over the world, I was desirous of seeing the plans for launching the Brisbane, and the Minister, by his answers to my questions, would lead the Senate to believe that such plans are not in existence. I have seen the plans, and they were sent to the Navy Office in Melbourne in May, 1913, for approval or otherwise. The Minister may not have seen the plans. The political troubles that arose later may have caused some delay; but to say that the Department has.no knowledge’ of plans is an equivocation. It is not a fair answer to give to a senator who represents the people of a State. The Minister has said that he has given his consent to the construction of what they call a coffer-dam, but what is practically a permanent dock with a caisson. I have not seen the plans of the coffer-dam, but I understand that it is to be a permanent structure. We have not known such a thing to be built in any part of the world for the purpose of launching a vessel. There was a time in the history of ship-building when it was necessary to build a dam - that was before diving gear was perfected to the extent that it is now. Concrete is now laid under the water, excavations are made in hard rock, and everything that is necessary is done. It has been stated that the coffer-dam is estimated to cost £32,000, and the steel caisson, which means an entrance to the dam, is estimated to cost £3,000. I believe that the statement is correct, but I could not get any information from the source where I should have been able to get it. The estimated cost in these cases is generally much below the actual cost. I shall try to show that the money will be actually thrown into the sea. The structure that was proposed tt> be built by the late manager of the dock to launch the vessel would have been of a permanent nature, and would have lasted as long as will that proposed. It is only right that at this time I should draw the attention of the Government to the matter, so that they can prevent the waste of so mucin, money. This is a time when we should, endeavour to get the cruiser to sea as’ quickly as possible. The war may lastfor twelve months, or for two years as more, and this vessel could be launched and sent to sea well within that period- Her boilers have been finished for some time, and are being used to supply the motive power at Cockatoo Dock. The manager says that he could, not. help that; the Government would not give- him the power he needed, and he had to use something. The engines for the Brisbane are ready, and I believe that the armament is here too. If that is so, there are sufficient workmen in Australia today who could get the cruiser ready for sea in a very few months. When I waa secretary of the Iron Ship-builders Union I always kept, for the information, of the Imperial authorities, a list o$ the whole of the mechanics available ixa Australia, because the authorities predicted that at some time or other war vessels would be damaged near Australia* and therefore they desired to know howmany men would be at their disposal when such an emergency occurred. If th® Brisbane were launched quickly she COUld be placed in commission in the course ©ST a very few months. Nobody would ba prouder than myself to see an Australianconstructed vessel at sea assisting in the good work being done by the other boats. The Minister has said that the work wilE take nine months. I have an estimate, obtained from other sources, that the work, will take fifteen months. We can say that it will occupy eighteen months. That is a matter which should not be lost sight oS at the present moment. I shall take a further opportunity to deal with this question, but I think this is the time when I should prove my word that the cruisercan be launched without the building o£ a coffer-dam, and launched in ninety days, at a cost of £3,000, by the building of a launching structure equally as permanent as the proposed dam. Before: the Department undertook to build tha vessel they saw that there might be soma difficulty in the launching of her. The late manager was a .competent engineer. He was construction engineer for the State Government for many years. He designed and constructed some of the largest engineering works in Australia, and be never made a mistake. He might have been out a little sometimes, when a job was nearly finished, but after a job was permanently finished it always turned out to be good work. This gentleman is a mechanical engineer; he was taken from the work of designing engineer for the State Government for the purpose of reconstructing Cockatoo Island Dock and putting it on a fair business footing, which, I may say, he did. His idea then was to go in for the work of warshipbuilding; it was the aim of his lifetime, and, although the Government, in February, 1913, decided that he was not to get the position of manager, they allowed him to put in an application. That was a most unfair and unjust thing. This man’s performances as an engineer were far beyond those of any person who applied for this position, either in the Old Country or in Australia. When no one in Australia could build a dredge that was required for the Victorian Government, Mr. Cutler stepped into the breach, and built it. At one time, a boat that would carry 175 tons on a draught of 4 ft. 6 in. in order to cross th bar of one of our rivers was required. A vessel was brought from the Old Country, and it was found that she drew 5 ft. 6 in. Mr. Cutler built the Amphion, that carried 175 tons on a draught of 4 ft. 6 in. All these engineering difficulties have been overcome by this man. The authorities of the time tried to send Mr. Cutler away from Cockatoo Island discredited as an engineer, but they were unable to do so. They now try to discredit him by inviting people to believe that he did not make adequate provision for the launching of the Brisbane. I can give a few figures in this connexion which will show that I know what I am talking about. H.M.S. Dartmouth was launched some time ago at Barrow-in-Furness. Her launching weight was 2,695 tons. This represented a. pressure of 1.54 tons on each foot of the launching ways. The draught of the Dartmouth was 7 feet, and at the end of the ways the depth of water was 8 ft. 11 in., which allowed the vessel to have a drop of 1 foot. I have seen boats launched with a drop of 4 feet. A drop of 1 foot is a mere nothing, because the vessel is practically afloat when she drops from the ways. The cruiser Brisbane would have a launching weight of 2,664 tons, and the weight per foot on the launching ways would be 1.52 tons, or very nearly the same as that in the case of the Dartmouth.She will draw 7 ft. 6 in., and, if she were launched as proposed, the depth of water at the end of her ways would be 7 ft. 8 in., which would allow of a drop of from 6 to 8 inches. That shows that it was proposed to take even greater care than was taken in the case of the Dartmouth, so that no accident might happen. I have seen the estimates for the launching of these two vessels. Although I am no longer following the trade, I keep myself in touch with these things, and there is scarcely a launch in the Old Country that I do not get an account of. The present manager of the Cockatoo Island dock has had to have an engineer sent to him. The manager is not an engineer at all, nor does he profess to be one. He says that he is not an engineer, but a draughtsman and a naval architect. As such, he does not require to have the qualifications of an engineer. I shall not say anything about this gentleman, who, I believe, is trying to do his best. The Minister has said that he has approved of a modified scheme. I do not know what that means. The manager’s plan is to build a concrete wall round the end of the Brisbane out into the water for 30 feet. The wall is to be supplied with a caisson, or opening like a door. The intention is to build a dock and to Have the caisson taken up to let the water in. It may be a good enough plan, but the work is urgent, and to carry out this plan will take fifteen months, and will cost £35,000. That, in my opinion, will mean a waste of money and a scandalous waste of time in getting the Brisbane into commission. What is proposed to be constructed is not a coffer-dam. It has been misnamed. A reference to a dictionary will show that a coffer-dam is a construction built round a vessel with piles and packed up with bags, so that the water may be taken out to make necessary repairs.
– A temporary expedient.
– Yes, a temporary expedient. What is proposed in this case is not a coffer-dam, but a launching dock. Mr. Cutler, in the plan he submitted, proposed to lay solid concrete until he got to a depth of 4 ft. 6 in. at low tide at the end of the concrete formation. After that, he proposed to put piles into the solid rock to carry his ways out 30 feet. He proposed to put in two piles immediately after the concrete formation, with a crosshead of hardwood. Each of the piles was estimated ‘to carry three times the weight it would be asked to carry in the launching of the vessel, and with the crosshead of timber it would carry ten times the estimated weight required. Having put down two piles for about half the distance, Mr. Cutler proposed to put down three piles for the rest of the distance, not because they were necessary, but to make quite certain that everything would be secure. He proposed to have a hardwood beam across the three piles in the same way as across the two piles until he reached a depth of 7 ft. 8 in. for the launching. It was proposed that the piles should be embedded in the hard rock. Holes would be drilled for them in the rock ; the piles would be settled in the holes, and then concreted. The ways for the launching of the Dartmouth were constructed of Oregon, the timber generally used for the purpose. I have never seen hardwood used for this purpose; but Mr. Cutler proposed to use hardwood for the launching ways of the Brisbane. That would make the ways still better and stronger. As one who knows something about this work, I have not the. slightest doubt that it could be done in the space of three months, .and the launching ways constructed on Mr. Cutler’s plan would be as strong, and would last as long, as the structure proposed by the present manager of the dock. It is unfair that the people of the Commonwealth should be asked to spend such a large sum for the purpose of launching this vessel, when the greater part of this expense might be avoided. I have been surprised to learn that the departmental authorities say that these plans are not in existence. They are in existence. I have seen the tracings and the estimates of cost. I could not get them in a legitimate way, and I had to get them in some other way.
– What was the estimated cost of Mr. Cutler’s launching scheme ?
– It was £3,000. There is a very general idea that it is impossible to grease the ways in the water. It is, of course, always better that they should be greased dry -where that can be done. The ways which the late manager of the dock proposed to put down could have been easily greased dry, and made ready for the launching. There is a way in which it could be done, but I am not going to say what it is, because that would not be fair. I am prepared to explain the matter to any honorable senator confidentially. Men in leading positions who have been brought here from the Old Country have been disgusted with what is being done at the dock. One of them has taken his passage back for the 19th of the month. They are anxious that the vessel should be launched, but they laugh at the present manager’s scheme because of the cost and the delay it must involve. It is unfair that it should be undertaken without a proper inquiry. I guarantee that any outside firm that knows its business could launch the Brisbane in ninety days, the time I have stated. It is not necessary that any firm should be brought in to assist us to launch this vessel. We have men at present in the dockyard capable of doing the work. Every time that a complaint has been made of the delay in the construction of the ship, the fault has been attributed to the workmen. The fault has never been that of the workmen. When the construction of the Brisbane was in full swing, the men at work upon her raised a better average of completed ironwork per week than the average in the Old Country.
– Who would take tha responsibility if the honorable senator’s scheme resulted in failure?
– There would be no responsibility if the men who undertook the work knew their business. I have not very much money, but I should be prepared to put it all up, and take tha responsibility of carrying out the work as I have said it can be carried out. In the Old Country an average of 50 tons of completed ironwork is considered good work in the ship-building yards for the number of men engaged in the construction of the Brisbane. When the construction of that vessel was in full swing, the completed ironwork per week reached as high as 64 tons, and the average was over 50 tons. Since the new manager took charge of the dock the completed ironwork per week has dropped down, in some instances, to as low as 20 tons. I have here a photograph «f H.M.S. Queen Mary, a cruiser battleship, which was launched in 1912 at Jarrow-on-Tyne by Palmers without a coffer-dam. Her launching weight was 10,000 tons, whilst the launching weight <of the Brisbane would be 2,664 tons. The ‘Queen Mary was launched, not over a bottom of solid rock, but over a mud bank, and I guarantee that it did not cost more than £3,000 to launch her.
– The honorable senator says there was a mud bottom there?
– Yes ; and that made the work more difficult.
– There should be some difference between dragging over mud and dragging over rock.
– The Minister forgets that they do not drag them at all; they launch them. There must be a solid foundation for the ways, and it is more difficult to secure that where there is a mud bottom than where there is a -rock bottom. Apparently this country is to be committed to an expenditure of $35,000 to launch a vessel of 2,664 tons. I take this opportunity to enter my protest against it. I may have something further to say later; but I may say now £hat, though the timber has been ordered for the work, it could be used for other purposes. I do not wish to quarrel with the Minister in connexion with this subject. The present as not a good time to be talking about matter’s of the kind, and I am fully seized of the fact that this is an incident ±hat we ought to keep to ourselves. I saw the Minister privately, and told him there was another way of doing the work, and lie expressed the hope that I would show Mm how, but I did not have the opportunity. There should be no necessity for any showing, because the plan is there. I kept quiet about the matter until it was brought forward in another place, and it is only fair, now that it is before the public, that I should explain the position as I have done to-day.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [4.41]. - The remarks of Senator Millen and Senator McDougall once more Impress upon this Chamber how little control we really have over the public finances. In saying that, I do not claim do have made an original discovery, be cause, as a matter of fact, it is an annual complaint. Whatever party is in power the present system makes it quite impossible for either side to make any careful or critical examination of the public finances. I came to the conclusion long ago that it was the system that was at fault, and it is. the system that we must change if we are ever to have a better control of the finances. One step has been made in that direction in the formation of a Public Accounts Committee, but we want more than either a Public Accounts Committee or a Public Works Committee. A Works Committee could very well have taken action in the matter which Senator McDougall brought forward to-day, but, after all, it would have very little control of the finances. This new Works Bill is introduced, just as most money Bills are introduced here, with a hint that it is important that it should be passed through all its stages as rapidly as possible. If any honorable senator rises and criticises it, or takes any length of time in discussing it, he “is scowled at as if he were guilty of an impertinence.
– Surely you are anticipating? I have seen no scowls so far.
– If this occasion is any different from the many others of which I have had experience, I shall have to “ chalk it up.” The Minister knows full well that what I have said is an absolute fact. We are told when a Supply Bill is brought forward that the civil servants are practically waiting at the paymaster’s door for their salary, and that unless the Bill is pushed through the great calamity of the civil- servants not being paid next day, or the day after, will befall us. The time has come for us to try to do the duty that we are sent here, and expected, to perform in a much more businesslike way than has been the case in the past. They do things much better in the United States of America. The Senate there has what are known as financial committees which retain control of the financial affairs during the whole year, and are, therefore, familiar with what is going on. Both sides of the House are represented upon them, as is only proper, because by that means members of both parties are in a position to know something about financial matters when they come forward for public discussion. We have a Constitution based to some extent on the American model, and we might well copy the American example in this regard. At present we know only so much about the public finances as each Department likes to let us know. We may ask questions and try to fossick out information which is absolutely necessary to enable us to handle questions properly, but we get just the kind of answer that the heads of the Departments choose to give us. The heads of the Departments have really more control over the public funds than have members of Parliament, who are sent here by the people of the country to look after that matter. How long, I ask again, are we to be humbugged by this system ? Here is a Bill in which we are asked to sanction the expenditure of over £4,000,000, and honorable senators must admit that they know practically nothing about the proposed expenditure; nor have they any effective means of obtaining information. There are three Ministers in . this Chamber - and I am not reflecting upon them - but only one of them has the responsibility of a Department. The others represent Departments, so to speak, by proxy, and have to seek information from the officials or from the responsible Ministers. Has any Minister - particularly the Minister of Defence at this juncture - the time to devote to the financial side of his Department whilst attending to his other administrative work ? It is quite beyond the power of any man to do it. When we seek for information here, the Minister gets it second-hand from an official behind him. Where the official gets it from we have to guess. It is, apparently, passed on from one person to another in such an off-handed way that the responsibility really rests with nobody. Yet the Senate has to take the responsibility of passing the Bill. It is responsible to the country; but, owing to the system that we have so long followed, it is utterly impossible for us to make anything like a careful or critical examination of the public accounts. Is it not possible for us to secure control over the finances the whole year round ? This measure is rushed in only a few days before we expect to break up for our Christmas vacation. There is on the stocks another Bill for the expenditure of over £37,000,000. We are asked to sanction all this enormous expenditure in a few days, and it must be admitted that we know little or nothing about it. A Committee on the lines of those in the United States Congress would be able to make itself familiar with the position. It would sit from time to time during the year, and when matters came forward here we could give them proper consideration.
– That is to say, the present Ministers cannot find the information, but six other men could?
– Certainly, if the six others devoted all their time to the matter - that is to say, all their time outside the sitting hours of Parliament.
– The Cabinet in America is not responsible to Parliament.
– It is, in a way, but it has not the same representation in Parliament as our Cabinet has. Still, that is no reason why we should be always without proper control of the finances. If the Minister can explain all the details of the present enormous defence expenditure, he will be a financial wonder.
– I will warrant that he can tell you most of it now.
– The honorable senator has more faith in him than I have.
– If I were on a finance , committee, would I be able to do any better than I can as Minister?
– If we had a finance committee, others of us would be in the know as well as the Minister, and the division of attention and responsibility in these matters would make a larger number of honorable senators responsible. More of us would know what we were doing. At present, we know nothing.
– We are all responsible now.
– Certainly ; but there is only one man “ in the know.” I am not bringing this matter forward in any fault-finding spirit. It is the system that is at fault, and what I am saying has been said in different ways for the last fourteen years in this Chamber. We have to take up and study money Bills of this kind while the Minister is speaking on’ them. During that brief period, we are expected to learn all about them. If any honorable senator thinks he can grasp matters of this kind thoroughly in that way, I am afraid he is somewhat innocent, and does not appreciate his responsibilities.
– If you had the Victorian unemployed to deal with, you would know how the works were going on before you got the Bill.
– The information which the Assistant Minister may gain through the demands of the unemployed will not necessarily fit him to know the true financial position. What has occurred to-day, however, is nothing new; but I sincerely hope that it will be possible, in the near future, to bring about a reform.
– I am glad to find that some other honorable senator has begun to recognise the position in which this Senate - and, I believe, the Parliament - is placed in regard to the control of public expenditure. The position simply stated is that Parliament has no control over it whatever.
– Parliament has the control, but will not exercise it. For instance, the honorable senator will not stop the passing of this Bill for five minutes, in spite of all his talk.
– I know perfectly well that I cannot stop the passing of the Bill for five minutes.
– The honorable senator will not try.
Sena-tor STEWART. - Time and again I have done everything in my power to arouse honorable senators to a sense of their responsibility in connexion with this matter, and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition has .never given me the slightest assistance in that direction. I can recollect when he himself was a member of a Government, and when the only desire he exhibited in regard to the Estimates was to get them through as quickly as possible, and with as little discussion as possible.
– And he succeeded.
– And he succeeded, just as every other Minister succeeds. But I do not think anybody will admit that that is a desirable state of affairs. As Senator de Largie has pointed out - and as I have stated here dozens of times - the control of public expenditure has passed completely out of the hands of Parliament. I doubt very much whether responsible Ministers themselves exercise much control over it. Indeed, I doubt if the Treasurer himself has any control over it. I have come to the conclusion that the permanent offi cials of the various Departments rule theroost, and I, for one, am not satisfied with that position. The people sent us here, not merely to enact legislation, and to levy taxation, but to keep a keen eye upon expenditure. We are not doingthat, and I do not know that we can do it under existing conditions. It is quite within the bounds of possibility, however, that if we cast about for a method which will afford us some control over thefinances of the Commonwealth, that method will be found. What is the position in regard to the Estimates for the year? In the ordinary parliamentary year, honorable senators sit here from some time in June till close upon Christmas. When do the Estimates come before Parliament? In the closing hoursof the session. I make this statement deliberately - that every Government, of set purpose, hold back their Estimates in order thai, there may be no time for discussion of them. When the Deakin Government and the Reid Government were in office, I used to complain of this. I fondly imagined that when a Labour Government came into power things would be altogether different. But to my consternation and infinite disgust I found that the first Labour Government OUtHeroded Herod. I discovered that, bad as were the so-called Liberal Governments, a Labour Government were infinitely worse. That is a lamentable confession to make. But I am now at the penitent-stool. I am confessing my sins and the sins of other people probably. I protested against the Estimates being passed without consideration. But we were threatened by a Government composed of members of the Labour party - a party which had always protested against all-night sittings, and against the enactment of legislation under physical conditions* which rendered it impossible for honorable senators to give careful consideration to the business in hand - that the Senate would be kept sitting until the Estimates were put through. Now I am not as young as I used to be, and I am not as able to take part in a “ stone-wall n as I was twenty years ago.
– The honorable senator is better able to do so, because he is more disciplined.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon; I am not. When it comes to a question of physical endurance, the interests of the people must go by the board. Before the present Estimates are passed, I suppose honorable senators will be asked to take part in an all-night sitting. Why should that be the case? It is ridiculous. It is against the public interest. Such a proceeding brings us down to the position that no control can be exercised over our expenditure. We do not know anything about it, and we appear to care just about as much. I agree with Senator de Largie that some change is imperative, unless this Parliament is to completely lose the confidence of the people. I do not know whether the United States of America’s system of committees would be a better one than our own, although anything would appear to be better than the existing system.
– The present system is so bad that nothing could be worse.
– I believe, as the honorable senator interjects, that the existing system is so bad that nothing could be worse. I wish Parliament to have some control over our public expenditure.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– T suggest that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the whole matter and to report to the Senate.
– Upon the matter of public accounts?
– On the matter of presenting the Estimates generally, and, indeed, of everything connected with our expenditure of public money.
– That task comes within the scope of the operations of the Public Accounts Committee.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. The Committee of Public Accounts has power only to deal with accounts which refer to money that has been expended.
– It is practically a Parliamentary Auditor-General.
– Could not the matter .be referred by Parliament to that Committee i
– It could in the same way that any matter might be referred to it. Here we have a recognition of the helplessness of the Senate, and of
Parliament, in connexion with public expenditure. Senator McDougall has, this afternoon, made a definite statement in regard to a certain item of expenditure. The Government propose to spend £35,000 upon launching the cruiser Brisbane, and the honorable senator says that the money might just a*s well be thrown into the sea, and that the vessel can be launched for an expenditure of £3,500. I say that this Chamber should be afforded an opportunity of deciding as between the Department and Senator McDougall. I observed the other day a most extraordinary reply by the Minister of Defence to a question put to him in regard to certain plans relating to this vessel. Those plans, I am informed, were in existence, and yet the Department professes to know nothing whatever about them. I think that is a most extraordinary state of affairs. If the plans were ever in the Department there ought to be a record of them, and if they were not, the man who says that they were is a liar. We ought to know the facts. There seems to be something sinister about the way in which our Defence Department is conducted. I have never had much respect for the man–
– The man behind the gun.
– He is very handy, anyhow.
– Undoubtedly he is, very handy, but I have never had very much respect for his methods. We have found, in England, Prance, and other countries - I do not refer to Australia - scandals by the score in regard to military expenditure. I do not insinuate that anything of the kind has ever taken place in the Commonwealth. But we have had occurrences - more especially in connexion with our Naval administration - which seem to me to savour of something which is extremely undesirable. We had at one time, I believe, three men who were charged very largely with the administration of our Naval affairs, and who would not speak to each other. They declined to confer with each other.
– Perhaps that was an advantage.
– I wonder if the honorable senator were the owner of a large business, and if he had appointed three managers whom he held responsible for its conduct, what he would do if he discovered that they would not speak to each other, that they would not consult each other, and that they would hold no communication with each other? He would simply summon them before him and dismiss them. That is what he would do if he happened to be a wise man. Yet that is exactly the position in which the Naval Board found itself at one time. The very fact that men in that frame of mind were allowed to carry on their mischievous pranks and yet remain in the Public Service, is evidence to me that there is something unsatisfactory and something which ought to be removed in connexion with our Defence Department. We want the cruiser Brisbane to be launched as speedily as possible, so that she ‘may be of use to us should her services be required. According to the Defence Department she cannot be launched in less than fifteen months. Now, upon an occasion like the present, I hold that time is the essence of the contract. Senator McDougall has said that this vessel can be launched in ninety days
– And this Senate can have the question determined if it is resolute enough.
– Yes, it can refuse to pass the Estimates.
– Let us do it.
– If Senator McDougall will move that the item to which I have referred be reduced to £3,500, so as to afford this Chamber an opportunity of discovering the real facts of the matter, I will support him. I am sick and tired of the Naval and Military bureaucracy which is being established in Australia. Of course, we cannot do without soldiers and sailors in times of stress. But we must not allow them to ‘run away with our affairs. We must keep a firm hand on them, otherwise we shall land ourselves in an extreme difficulty. We ought to try to recover the control of our national expenditure. How this can be accomplished is not clear to me at the present moment, but I think that some such system of committees as prevails in the United States of America would be a most decided advantage.
– The best thing would have been to lay the Works Estimates before Parliament at an earlier period.
– That would be of no use, because there would be no details.
– The honorable senator suggests that the Works Estimates should have been placed before Parliament earlier, so that its members might have the opportunity, if they so desired, to get information with regard to certain items. In any case, the whole position is most unsatisfactory - to me, at any rate. I am here as a represenative of the people, paid to look after their interests, yet I have no more control over the expenditure of this huge sum than a man in the street, who has no responsibility at all. I think that the sooner we have a change, the better; I shall welcome it, at any rate, and hope that it will come at an early date.
– A little time ago I took advantage of an opportunity to visit Cockatoo Island, mainly with the view of seeing what was being done with regard to the cruiser Brisbane. I was astonished to find that instead of the boat being constructed on ways, she was being constructed on blocks. I was still more astonished to learn that it would probably cost £35,000 to launch her. On my return I endeavoured to extract from the Minister some information on the subject. I asked him if he would furnish us with the approximate cost of constructing the ways, but for some reason - and I strongly resent his action - he refused to supply the information. Apparently it was not then quite available, but since that time we have been told officially that the cost of launching the Brisbane will be some £35,000. To my mind that is an item which ought not to be passed by the Senate. It is not quite clear to me, from the Minister’s replies, what is meant exactly by the construction of the coffer-dam. If it is intended to construct the dam so that the ways may be built while the dam is there, that may be a fairly good method of doing the business, but of that I am not quite sure. I challenge any one to deny that the cruiser is completed and could be launched to-morrow if the ways were in existence. To have a warship completed and not launched while the Empire is at war seems to me a most scandalous state of things. The Minister, I think, ought to institute a searching inquiry, and to take steps to insure that the cruiser shall be launched and put into commission very much earlier than nine months hence. In regard to the item for Garden Island, I am told that the au- thorities there refuse to employ competent tradesmen unless they are prepared to submit themselves to medical examination. I contend that tradesmen in Sydney who have been working there all their lives, and have proved their competency, ought not to be subjected, by the direction of the Commonwealth, to any medical examination. If competent men are prepared to perform the work required from them in an efficient manner, as unquestionably they are, they ought to secure employment without having to undergo a medical test.
– Are you speaking of the permanent men, or of the casual men ?
– I am speaking of the casual men who are fitting up the troop-ships. Several men have complained to me that they were refused employment at the Island simply because they were suffering from a slight ailment which in no way detracted from their fitness to do their work. The men informed me that they had been employed by contractors in the State for practically all their lives, but when temporary work was available at Garden Island they had to submit themselves to a medical examination, and because they suffered from a slight ailment, which, as I said, in no way detracted from their fitness to work, they were refused employment. I know of two such cases. I believe that on representations being made to the general manager, one of the men was employed, and has given satisfaction, and it is possible that the other man has been engaged, too. This is a proceeding which ought to be stopped. I trust that the Minister will issue instructions directing the general manager to discontinue the medical examination of those desiring temporary employment. I have been trying to get some information in regard to the work being done at Canberra, for which we are asked to vote over £270,000. That is not much. So far as I can see, the work is progressing in a fairly satisfactory manner. But there is one thing which is exercising a very detrimental effect on the operations. The plans for the building of the city are not yet completed. It must be several years since designs for the Capital were called for. I understand that Mr. Griffin is now working on these plans. I understand, too, that the levels of the main thorough fares are known, and that a very large number of men could be employed on the work straight away, and that any work done would be of a permanent characted. If that is so, it is unfair that the work should be hung up until the levels of all the streets and the byways of the Capital are made available. The Minister should see that the work at the Federal Capital is proceeded with in a satisfactory manner. It was provided in the Constitution that the Seat of Government should be fixed in New South Wales, and certainly no time limit was laid down. I do not think that the compact is being kept. Obstacles ought not to be placed in the way of carrying out that provision of the Constitution. I join with other honorable senators in stating that the Senate ought to be furnished with more information” with regard to the items covered by this Bill. It seems to me extraordinary to be asked to vote £4,140,345 on the meagre information placed at our disposal. I trust that in future the Estimates for works and buildings will be placed in our hands at an early period of the session, and that full detailed information will be supplied.
– Apparently some of the older senators are not apprised of their responsibilities. We had a dissertation from Senator Stewart, but I think I have heard it uttered here before. I take it that if an improper expenditure is submitted, it is my duty to challenge the item, and to put on the Senate the responsibility of saying whether the expenditure shall be incurred. If honorable senators are prepared to allow the Estimates to go by default, they necessarily accept that responsibility. Senator McDougall has referred to a certain item. His speech aroused in my mind a suspicion that there must be something wrong. He has stated that the particular work could be carried out for a tenth of the sum which is included in the Bill. As a man who understands the business, it is his duty to submit a proposal to reduce the amount, and then it will be for the Senate to be satisfied as to whether he or the Department is right.
– Then they must take the responsibility of any fiasco; not the Minister.
– I quite understand that. My point is that a responsibility rests upon every individual senator, and that it is of no use for any one to try to “shirk his duty. If honorable senators are prepared to take the responsibility out of the hands of the Government and reduce the amount of any item, it is their duty to take that course.
– I do not wish to enter into the general discussion, because I believe that at the present juncture, when we are «o near a long adjournment, it would be occupying time without much benefit. It might be more appropriate to the consideration of the Works and Buildings Bill than to the consideration of the finances generally. It seems to me very clear that the Parliament, as a whole, has very little control over the expenditure ifr sanctions, but mere mourning over the fact will not do away with the evil. In my opinion, there has not been a workable proposition brought forward either to minimize the evil or to remove it. We have the power if we choose to exercise it. A discussion of this kind usually comes at an inopportune time. In other words, it comes at such a time that we feel that it would be disastrous to delay the financial proposals in order to effect the remedy which we believe should be made. I think that the issue would be better raised by a distinct proposition made early in the session, and dealing with the finances in such a way that the different sections could be referred to committees, which would investigate the proposed expenditures. It seems to me that the Committee of Public Accounts, which has just been created, will only go over the ground which the Auditor-General must pass over again . Very little real good can come out of the Committee unless it takes up this wider sphere of work, and if it does, possibly, there may be a chance of the Parliament regaining the control of the finances which it held originally.
– Has not Parliament the control of the finances ?
– Nominally it has, but virtually it has not, because it does not proceed along the right lines to maintain its power. Originally, before the grant was made to the King, the representatives of different parts of his dominions took occasion to mention any grievances they had. That principle of the redress of grievances before granting supply is at the root of all our financial administration. But we have ceased to make these complaints. We are merely asked to consider whether it is desirable that a certain grant should be made, and that presupposes that we are acquainted with the work upon which the money is to be expended.
– The honorable senator has not heard the Ministerial explanation.
– I listened very carefully to every word of it.
– I have made no statement on the question which has been raised. It was not raised until after I sat down.
– The Minister did not refer to the general question, but he did refer to the specific question contained in the Bill. We have before us a Works and Buildings Bill involving an expenditure of something like £4,000,000. I do not speak in the spirit of complaint, but to emphasize the fact that the information received by the Senate is not such that it should receive, though I admit that it is perhaps no less full or definite than the information given on previous occasions of the kind. The money for which the Government are asking covers so many kinds of expenditure that honorable senators should be in possession of more information as to the way in which it is to be spent than they have so far received. I am prepared to admit that the present circumstances are extraordinary: that it is not long since Parliament assembled, and that it is necessary before we adjourn to pass the measure and others of a similar character. My point is that even in ordinary circumstances honorable senators are losing their control of the expenditure of public money. It is being transferred from Parliament to the heads of the different Departments. These gentlemen now make out bills of costs. They say to the Government, “ We want so much for next year.” The Ministers concerned pin their requests together, send them on to the Senate, and say, “ Pass these, or we shall have an all-night sitting.”
– The responsibility is on the Labour Caucus, and that is where the honorable senator should put it.
– Senator Bakhap is obsessed by his idea of the Labour Caucus. Like a child’, he does not know what the ghost is, and he is terrified by it. If he had the courage to walk up to the ghost like an honest man, he would find that there is nothing to fear in it. He would find that the many tales that are told him have no more truth in them than ghost stories usually have.
– The honorable senator tells them himself.
– It is to be regretted that the honorable senator should tell tales that have no truth in them. When the last Estimates were before the Senate, I called attention to a very much-needed work of telephonic extension between Victor Harbour and Inman Valley. I tried to get some information on the subject at the time, but could get very little. From inquiries I have since made, I have learned that no progress has been made with the work. There are many outside places requiring better facilities of communication, and the inhabitants of the districts concerned have approached the Post and Telegraph Department, and have expressed themselves as prepared to assist in securing the improved communication they desire. I bring the matter again before the Senate in the hope that the Minister presenting the Postmaster-General will look into it and see that something is done to remedy this grievance. During the regime of the last Fisher Government a piece of land, situated at Mount Gambier, was taken over from the South Australian Government to be used as a rifle range. It was part of what was known as the Moorac Homestead. I have learned that this piece of land has since been disposed of to a private individual, although there is not in the district another area of land equally suitable for a rifle range. The price for which the land has been disposed of is a ridiculously low one. No land of equal value and as near to the town of Mount Gambier has been sold at such a low price for the last twenty-five years. I should like to know why and by whose authority this land has been sold. Blame in the matter rests upon some one, and the person to blame should be exposed. The South Australian Government purchased the Moorac Homestead, and, with the exception of this piece of land, disposed of it to agriculturists. This area was particularly suitable for a rifle range, and the Commonwealth Government acquired it for that purpose. The buildings upon the property were useful for military purposes, as the woolshed might have been used for a drill hall, and the area was within a mile of Mount Gambier.
– What is the land valued at there f
– I believe that the land has been sold to a private individual for £1,000. and I venture to say that the homestead buildings alone, apart from the woolshed and the land, cost more than was realized for the whole property.
– What Government was responsible?
– The last Fisher Government held the land for defence purposes. It has since gone out of the hands of the Government. I am not prepared to say which Government is responsible for parting with the land, but I believe that the present Labour Government did not part with it.
– It must have been sold by a Liberal Government.
– Senators Story and Shannon know the place well, and they will bear out my statement. The price realized for it is nothing like its market value.
– A Finance Committee could investigate a case of that kind.
– I know that a wrong has been done, and there should be some explanation of it. I notice that a very small sum is put down for the Naval Base at Port Lincoln. Here, again, we have an opportunity which should be made use of at the earliest date. There is no harbor along our coast from Port Phillip to Fremantle that possesses such facilities for a Naval Base as does Port Lincoln.
– Bar Albany.
– Bar none. Port Lincoln is absolutely without a bar of any kind at all. It is one of the finest natural harbors in the world. It was intended in the early days that the city of Adelaide should be built on the shores of Port Lincoln.
– Nobody ever heard of it before.
– I regret that Senator Turley, whose wisdom in other matters is so pronounced, should lack information on this point.
– It shows ignorance of the geography of South Australia.
– Honorable senators who are interjecting are exposing their lack of information, and the fact that they have never visited this excellent harbor. The Naval authorities have selected it as a sub-base, and that selection immediately stamps it with value. A steamer travels frequently from Port Adelaide to Port Lincoln, and honorable senators would find that Port Lincoln would well repay a visit. They will have to vote money for a sub-base at Port Lincoln, because the natural advantages of the port are such that they cannot be passed over.
– The honorable senator has sufficient information about this item.
– The discussion has revealed the fact that some honorable senators have no information about it. In South Australia to-day there is great scarcity of employment. Port Lincoln will have to be made a sub-base, and I urge upon the Minister the necessity of pushing forward with the work required to be done there.
– What about Beauty Point?
– It is not a question of beauty. It has beauty, but that is a low plane upon which to look at the matter. The bay alone is from 14 to 20 miles long, with a width of 7 miles, and deep water everywhere near the shores. I saw the Governor Musgrave tied right up to the rocks close to where the jetty now stands, and at the stern of the vessel one could have dropped a plummet-line into 50 or 60 feet of water. The whole bay has deep water, and the whole British Navy might easily float in it. The entrance is so protected by islands that the water inside is always perfectly smooth. It is a splendid place for a Naval subbase.
– Why not elevate it from a sub-base to a base ?
– My contention is that, as it has been selected by the Naval authorities as a sub-base, something more than a paltry £100 should be spent there in twelve months. The amount set down for it is ridiculously small, and I should be wanting in my duty as a representative of South Australia if I did not call attention to the fact that its claims are being overlooked. I have no doubt that had Port Lincoln been in New South Wales, Queensland, or possibly Western Australia, it would have been made more than a sub-base. It is strategically very valuable ; it lies midway between Victoria and Western Australia, and it is absolutely safe, because, if the Navy were in it, no enemy could possibly reach them.
– We do not want the Navy to be bottled up in there.
– There could be no danger of sudden attack. It will be a reflection on us if we do not push on with this work. I have brought the matter under the’ notice of the Minister of Defence for the reasons I have given, and because of the need of employment. The splendid position of the harbor would fully justify the Government in spending much more on it than they have provided for the current financial year.
– Some comment is requisite on the very strong statements made by Senator McDougall. There has been a good deal of talk about the great delay that has taken place in the launching of the Brisbane, whose services would be very valuable during the present war if she were on the high seas. It is idle for honorable senators to assume that the Senate has not sufficient power to deal with the matter - to bewail, so to speak, their sad legislative fate. The Senate has the most ample powers of veto and suggestion in regard to any proposal involving the expenditure of public money.’ Honorable senators did not seem to relish the freeandeasy reference I made to the Caucus; but this matter adds to the arguments against the very existence and conception of the Caucus.
– Which Caucus do you mean ?
– I refer to the weekly joint sitting of the members of the Labour party, who belong to this and another place. A matter of this kind, so serious as to justify the remarks made by honorable senators here to-day, is not dealt with by members of the Labour party at their weekly Caucus. All they talk about there is the iniquities of the Liberal party, and the mythical schemes that are alleged to be forming in the minds of the Liberal members for the benefit of that individual, who is collectively and superciliously referred to as the “fat man.” That is the sort of thing with which we are regaled.
– I rise to order. I should like to know through you, sir, how Senator Bakhap can connect his reflections on the meetings of the Labour party with the Bill now before the Senate ?
– The honorable senator must be allowed at least the opportunity of showing some connexion between his remarks and the Bill.
– I was wondering when he would take the opportunity.
– I shall show the intimate connexion between the Labour Caucus and the alleged position deplored by Senator Stewart. He spoke of the impotence of this Chamber with regard to the financial proposals submitted by the very party of which he is a member. The Labour Caucus, which presumably meets every week to discuss affairs important to the Australian nation, is doubly damned by the fact that it has neglected this important matter.
– How often does your caucus meet?
– Granting, for argument’s sake, that it is a caucus, it has met only once since Parliament assembled, and that was for the purpose of electing a leader. I throw the responsibility for the situation detailed by Senator Stewart upon the party which has a joint sitting every week, and to which the government of Australia is intrusted at this juncture.
– You are like the aboriginal with the boomerang, which will return.
– It will not hurt me, and the recital of facts may do a little good. The launching of the Brisbane at the earliest possible moment may be of great benefit to the naval strength of the Empire. Senator McDougall, who alleges that he possesses inside knowledge, has stated from his place in this chamber that the vessel ought to be launched in ninety days, at a cost of £3,000. That is an assertion that requires investigation. I know the Minister is the repository of the opinions of experts.
-They are very poor experts in this case.
– We are now touching a very peculiar question. I assume that the Minister is asking Parliament to accept the item on the advice of experts.
– The experts have advised him the other way as well.
– They have not.
– I presume we shall hear a deliverance from the Minister on the question, .the importance of which I am sure he realizes. It is a very common thing for a working man - and I am a working man - to assume all-round competency in regard to matters of this kind. Senator de Largie, who has had some knowledge of mining, will, perhaps, have had the same experience as I have had. I have known mines to be managed by men of high professional qualifications with very moderate success, and I have heard miners, who are quite competent to give an opinion on the practical side of mining, assert, individually and collectively, that the mines have been mismanaged, and that if they were handed over to a committee representing the miners, large profits would be made, because the expert managers who had looked after the affairs of the company for many years were not competent, or had allowed runs of profitable stone to be passed by. Since the war, in one or two cases, mines, regarding which such statements have been made, have been handed over - and properly so in order to keep the wheels of industry going - to committees of working men, and I am sorry to say that so far from their criticism of the experts being borne out by results, the mines have had to shut down after a very short period of exploitation at the hands of the miners’ committees. This shows that very often the working man is not as competent as he thinks he is to criticize the experts who direct operations.
– To what mines are you referring?
– To those at Beaconsfield, in Tasmania.
– What are the names?
– Order ! A discussion of the working of particular mines will not he relevant to the Bill. The honorable member was perfectly entitled to refer to the matter by way of illustration, but he will not be in order in entering into a detailed discussion of it.
– I want to show that working men are not always quite as competent to judge the plans of those above them as they think they are. Senator McDougall has some practical, if not professional, knowledge in the matter, and has made some very strong statements. He has not only submitted certain evidence, but has committed himself to an indorsement of the opinions of certain working men engaged at Cockatoo Island in connexion with the construction of the cruiser and its subsequent launching. He seems to have been left to ventilate the matter, which does not appear to have been discussed by the Labour party. It is idle for the Senate to shelter itself behind any assertion of limited power. It has full power if it is resolute enough to provoke and compel an investigation. I tell the predominant party in the Senate to its individual and collective teeth, that it has ample power to have Senator McDougall’s allegations carefully investigated, and it can take action on this item to force an investigation. It is of no use forus to shelter ourselves behind any milk and water statement that the accounts are not properly presented, or that full information is not supplied. It is up to the Administration, and up to the predominant party, to secure a complete and whole-souled investigation of the allegation that this item of expenditure is undesirable, and that the result which it is sought to obtain through its means can be achieved in a much shorter period at a comparatively small cost. I do not at once commit myself to an indorsement of the views expressed by Senator McDougall. But if the Minister is possessed of that ability with which we are all ready to credit him, and if he has fortified himself with the opinions of experts on this matter, it is certainly up to him - to use an Australian phrase - to tell us what he thinks of the honorable senator’s allegations. If Senator McDougall has the courage of his convictions he is at liberty to take similar action to that which was taken a few weeks ago by Senator Turley. It is within his power to move that this particular item be reduced by £1. If his party has investigated the matter, and if they think his personal qualifications entitle his opinions to be received with respect, it is incumbent on his fellow senators to secure a complete inquiry.
– There have been two or three criticisms this afternoon which, to my mind, deserve a little consideration. Since I have had the honour of occupying a seat in this Chamber a number of measures have been submitted of an urgent character, and, consequently, I have been prepared to extend to the Government a little sympathy under existing conditions. We must all recognise that the circumstances under which we have assembled are extraordinary. The present session of Parliament was opened at a very late period of the year, and at a time when we were under the cloud of war - a unique experience for Australia. Since we met many measures have been submitted to us which had to be dealt with in rather a hurried fashion. But this afternoon Senators de Largie and Stewart have complained that the business of this Chamber is getting out of the hands of honorable senators - in other words, that it is being conducted by the heads of Departments rather than by members of the Senate and of the Government. To my mind, the Leader of the Opposition made a very sensible suggestion this afternoon when he stressed the wisdom of providing that unexpended votes should not lapse at the close of the financial year, but should be utilized to enable works to be proceeded with without interruption. In reference to Parliament exercising control over the finances of the Commonwealth, it has been suggested that we might appoint a Finance Committee. I am not sure whether the adoption of that course would prove of very great advantage. Senator Senior has suggested that an improvement would be effected if the Estimates were presented to Parliament earlier, so that more time might be afforded for their consideration. We might then practically constitute ourselves a committee to inquire into them.
– That is what we shall do in a few minutes.
– But we require to have access to the Departments.
– If we had more time to consider the Estimates I think we might obtain information which would be of very material assistance in enabling us to arrive at a conclusion regarding the various works proposed. I think there is a good deal of excuse for the Government in regard to these matters because of the very abnormal times in which we are living. But I rose more particularly to call attention to the statement of Senator McDougall. The position which he has outlined is undoubtedly a serious one. Though I am not a shipbuilder. I have had a good deal to do with shipbuilding.
I have witnessed the launching of vessels, and I have assisted in their construction from keel almost to truck, so that I may fairly claim to know a little about them. Whilst I do not profess to be an expert, I do attach a good deal of weight to the views of practical men. Now, Senator McDougall claims to be a practical man, who has followed up shipbuilding in all parts of the world, and who is particularly conversant with the launching of vessels. It strikes me that whoever was engineer at Cockatoo Island at the outset of the building of the cruiser Brisbane must surely have had plans for the launching of the vessel. Senator McDougall assures us that these plans were in existence.
– I have seen them.
– Then surely somebody in the Defence Department must have seen them. If the Department has not seen them, there is good cause for inquiry as to who has taken them away - surreptitiously, as it appears. I trust that the Minister will give us a full explanation, and that he will tell us the data upon which these Estimates are based, so that we may not be left absolutely in the dark. Unless strong evidence be forthcoming in rebuttal of Senator McDougall’s statement, a good many honorable senators will vote in favour of delaying the expenditure of the large sum of money which will be involved in the launching of the cruiser Brisbane. I hope that the Minister will recognise the necessity of supplying us with as full information as he has in his possession, so as to enable us to arrive at a conclusion upon this matter.
– Before the motion for the second reading of the Bill is carried, I desire to say a few words, particularly in regard to the launching of the cruiser Brisbane at Cockatoo Island. The item to which I specially wish to refer is that of “ Naval engineering works, £100,000.” From what I can gather, the construction of a coffer-dam to enable the Brisbane to be launched will cost £35,000. If that information be correct, I confess that to me it is astonishing. To my mind, it is £35,000 wasted, because I know of no other occasion on which the construction of such a dam has been rendered neces sary in any part of the shipbuilding world in which I have had shipbuilding experience. I am also assured that this is not merely to be a coffer-dam, but is to partake of the nature of a caisson. I am exercised in mind as to the necessity for constructing this caisson or coffer-dam. It is true that it has been recommended to the Department by experts. On this occasion, however, I fear that the experts have made a mistake. When the Minister is replying to the criticism that has been levelled against the proposed outlay, I trust that he will be able to quote some instance in other parts of the shipbuilding world, as, for example, on the Clyde, in Scotland; Barrow-in-Furness, in the north of England; the River Tyne or Ardrossan and Leith, in Scotland, in which a similar undertaking has been carried out. In all these places vessels are built, from the smallest yacht of 10 tons to ships of 10,000 tons of launching weight; and if he can cite a single instance in which there has been need to construct a coffer-dam to enable these vessels to be launched I shall be inclined to support the departmental position. When this Parliament is asked to vote £35,000 for the construction of a cofferdam in order to enable the cruiser Brisbane to be launched, I am of the opinion that there is a screw loose somewhere. Let me instance the launching pf the H.M.S. Ramillies, one of the first class battleships built to the order of the Imperial Government at the Clydebank Shipbuilding Yard in 1S93 or 1894. The launching weight of that vessel was something like 10,000 tons. She was one of four battleships, orders for the construction of which were placed by the Admiralty at that time. One of these vessels was built at the Fairfield Engineering Works, and two others in the Admiralty yards. ‘ In the building of such vessels it is customary for the foreman carpenter to be held responsible for arranging the- declivity of the launching ways. Indeed, he is entirely responsible for the construction of the vessel from keel to truck, and for her landing safely in the water. But in the construction of H.M.S. Ramillies, an expert from the Admiralty superseded the foreman carpenter, and entirely upset his plans regarding the declivity of the launching ways. With what result? From the moment the hydraulic button was touched until the vessel actually reached the water no less than two hours elapsed. Why? Simply because sufficient declivity had not been allowed for. If the vessel had not reached the water safely, probably the reputation of the expert in question would have been ruined. That was the only occasion in the history of shipbuilding on the Clyde on which delay occurred in the launching of a vessel.
– It is a proof that experts can err.
– It is a proof that they are not infallible, and it is a reply to Senator Bakhap that even working men sometimes have a little practical experience..
– Did I make any assertion to the contrary?
– The honorable senator referred to the fact that working miners sometimes know better how to work the mines in which they were employed than do the owners. As a result of their practical experience, working men very often have a better knowledge of these matters than has the theorist who is the expert. I think it would be wrong for us to vote the amount which we are asked to vote in connexion with this matter in the absence of a full and clear statement from the Minister, who, I recognise, has to be guided by the advice of his experts. As one who does not claim to be an expert, but who has had a few years’ experience as a humble assistant in the building of vessels, and who has read a little, and kept his eyes and ears open, I am waiting for further information before I can honestly vote £35,000 to build a coffer-dam in order that the Brisbane, may reach the water safely and soundly. I did not have the pleasure of hearing the speech of Senator McDougall, because I was otherwise engaged. I know that he has had experience as a boilermaker and an ironworker generally, and I feel confident that he would not have made the statement he did to the Senate and to the country had he not been fully seized of the facts. Prior to the delivery of his speech he showed me a photograph of a vessel on the stocks ready to be launched, the launching ways, and the arrangements made. It is the custom in ship-building yards in the Old Country to sink cement foundations for what is known as the blocks to support the hull.
From the moment that the cement foundations are laid, and the blocks are erected to receive what is known as the lower portion, from the keel to form the bilge and the tank bottoms, the carpenters start immediately to erect their shores, and every block is put in position. Then the launching ways are got ready; men are busily engaged in applying “soft soap” - tons of it are used - to grease the ways, which are laid right into the river.
– That is not a figure of speech, T hope.
– No. The soft soap is applied to the ways, so that when the chocks are drawn and the shores are removed the hydraulic pump at the bow gives an impetus to the vessel, and her own momentum takes her into the water without the ways being fired by friction. I fail to see why the same principle should not be adopted in our dockyard at Cockatoo Island. The manager, I understand, is a gentleman from the Old Country, and if he does not know this it is something strange. I am not dictating to him. I am only telling honorable senators the experience I have had. If we intend to develop - as I hope we will do - a ship-building industry in Australia, either naval or mercantile, and if the launching of every vessel is to cost us £35,000, farewell to the idea of developing a ship-building industry.
– Does it not strike you that there must be some permanent works provided for in this expenditure of £35,000 ?
– I admit that in the construction of the coffer-dam and caisson men will be employed, but they could, be better employed in another branch of ship-building than by the expenditure, unnecessarily, of £35,000, in order that a vessel we have built can reach the water.
– Would it be- of use for further vessels?
– I dare say it would be; but the question i3, why should it be necessary to construct a coffer-dam and a caisson in order to launch this vessel? If it” is desired to build cofferdams and floating docks, in Heaven’s name let us start to build them; but the question before this Parliament is: Is it necessary to spend £35,000 in order to launch the Brisbane? That is the question to which I desire an answer. There is no statement made to the Senate that the coffer-dam is going to be used for other purposes, as I believe it could be used.
– So will the other one.
– The position is that before the Brisbane can be launched a coffer-dam must, it is said, be constructed. If that is the rule we are to follow in the building of other portions of our Naval Unit, our Defence bill will increase considerably. Already complaints have been made from the platform, in the Parliament, and through the press, that the Defence bill is unnecessarily large. I have never admitted that it is. I have always contended that in spending money on defence we were providing a good insurance, and that is proved by the part we play in the world-wide war to-day. If we are told that for every vessel we construct we shall have to spend £35,000 on a coffer-dam-
– You cannot possibly infer that it will take £35,000 for every boat.
– Suppose that a dockyard is established in another State.
– I might as well say straight away that once this sum of £35,000 is spent the work will be done for all time, and you may launch a hundred ships without incurring further expenditure.
– The other will serve for thousands of ships.
– It will bear any weight, light or heavy.
– Like the coffer-dam, it will be ‘suitable for future occasions.
– Suppose that we were to establish a shipping yard in Fremantle or even at Port Lincoln, would it be necessary to erect a coffer-dam there before we could launch a vessel of the dimensions of the Brisbane? The Minister’s assurance to me that the coffer-dam will do for all time does not meet the objection that the Brisbane could have been launched without constructing a coffer-dam.
– I share some of the opinions which, have been expressed in regard to the control of the finances, but I cannot help feeling amazed at the quarter from which the statements have come.
For instance, Senator Stewart gave us a lecture on the better control of the finances. There are honorable senators here who have been associated with Senator Stewart from the beginning of Federation, and they know that he has never yet allowed a Supply Bill to pass without making a speech. I venture to say that had it not been for the very generous rule which allows us to wander all over the universe, those speeches could not have been delivered within the Standing Orders, because they had nothing to do with the question of Supply. They embraced a variety of leading subjects, dealt with in a very interesting and forcible way, but they had nothing to do with the question of finance. Honorable senators know that that is a fact. Some honorable senators have spoken to-day as if they had been dealt with in some new way in regard to the present Supply Bill. For instance, one honorable senator said that the Bill was only circulated when I moved its second reading this afternoon. On Friday last he could have seen every item in the Bill at the end of the Estimates of expenditure for the year. Moreover, if any honorable senator desires to be industrious, there is not a line in the measure about which he cannot obtain information without going to the Department. He has merely to ring up the permanent head or any official of the Department, and make a request, and no honorable senator can say that he has ever been refused information.
– How long do you think it would take to get the information ?
– That, of course, is another question ; it might take six months or five minutes. Every honorable senator has the right to ring up a Department and ask what particular lines or items in the Estimates mean. He can ask, for instance, whether a post-office he wants in Dead-dog Flat in some State is included in the vote for post-offices, and get the information. Therefore, honorable senators were rather hypocritical in saying that they have had no information on the items in the Bill, or that they can get no information. They have made no requests, and, if they had, they could have got the information they wanted. They know, too, that, as regards particular items in a Bill, the practice is for Ministers to be questioned in Committee. Senator de Largie has discovered some virtue which would accrue if we had Finance Committees, and he pointed to the example of the United States of America. He overlooked the fact that public men there are dealing with an entirely different set of circumstances. There are no Ministers who are responsible to Parliament, as there are in Australia. Therefore, unless the Congress established a method by which they could get some knowledge, they would be absolutely in the dark. There is no Cabinet which is responsible to Parliament; there are no Ministers who can be catechized, censured, or turned out of office; and it was because of the absence of that responsibility that Committees were established to investigate financial questions.
– How much more happily placed we are.
– Yes. In Australia the Finance Committee is the Government. If honorable senators take this responsibility out of the hands of the Government and put it in the hands of a Finance Committee, would they be any better off? The only change would be that you would have six other men dealing with the business. That might be an advantage from the point of view of some honorable senators.
– Are you in a position to speak for all the Departments ?
– There would be no change of system, but there would be a change of men. To appoint six other men as a Finance Committee would make them no more competent, no more able, or, to put it in another way, no more obliging, than a Cabinet of six men.
– You do not know anything of the work which is referred to the Committees in Congress, otherwise you would not talk in that light way.
– What would a Finance Committee do which a Minister cannot do to-day? Do honorable senators wish me to believe that if a member were placed on a Finance Committee he would become so industrious that he would set aside all the permanent heads and officials, delve in the books, and follow up everything? I do not believe the placing of a man on a Finance Committee would effect a wonderful change. I have seen men placed on Committees; I have been on Committees myself; but I found that it made no difference to my industry or energy; I was just the same individual. I do not think that, if Senator de Largie’s suggestion were adopted, it would make any difference. What has to be remembered is that during the last year we have been in such an unsettled position politically that there has been no opportunity for financial measures to be submitted at the time when they should have been. As we all know, the items which are covered by this Bill ought to have been brought before the Senate months ago. I am not saying that in a spirit of criticism of the preceding Government. They were doing what they believed to be right in precipitating a political crisis, and when that eventuated, these financial measures had of course to stand aside.
– It is pretty well the same every year.
– Senator de Largie , is wrong there. He will find that, since the inception of Federation, there has never been a year when the delivery of the Budget statement was so late as it has been this year. The honorable senator knows as well as I do that the circumstances to which I have referred account for that. Honorable senators are anticipating that they will not receive information. They have no right to anticipate anything of the kind. They have not yet sought any information which has been refused. Until they have been refused information, it is rather unkind of them to suggest that ,they are not going to be given it. It has always been the practice, in moving the second reading of Bills of this character, to give. a general outline of the expenditure proposed, and not to refer to particular items. This has been done as fully to-day as on any previous occasion, so that some of the criticism offered of it has been rather ungenerous.
– The Minister ia making a personal matter of it.
– No; but it seems to me that an attempt is being made to make it appear that there is something special about the lack of information in connexion with this particular Bill. Senator Millen raised the question as to the best means to be adopted to overcome delay in connexion with the construction of works in an ordinary year. How do we get over the difficulty now? On the 30th June of each year, all authority to spend money vanishes. When a Supply Bill is introduced, including a Treasurer’s Advance for a considerable amount, what happens when works are not stopped, as Senator Millen seems to indicate? Only urgent new works are commenced, and are paid for out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– There is a slowing down in expenditure.
– That is so, but the machine is not altogether stopped. The existing practice has one undesirable feature. Honorable senators will have noticed that in Supply Bills introduced about this time of the year far too large an amount has to be asked in the shape of the Treasurer’s Advance. Parliament is practically called upon to give the Treasurer a blank cheque for £200,000 or £300,000. The Treasurer spends the money as he thinks fit, subsequently giving an account of the expenditure. As a matter of fact, he always endeavours to spend moneys voted in this way on the lines indicated on the Estimates which were last before Parliament. He endeavours to bridge the gap between one parliamentary appropriation and another.
– Having made a gap, we do the best we can to get over it.
– I agree that the means at present adopted for bridging the gap are unsatisfactory. A remedy for the difficulty might be found if we could have a more permanent tenure of the Treasury bench.
– I might have agreed to that solution a few months ago.
– If we could guarantee that there would be no more political revolutions, the Government might so arrange the sessions of Parliament that the Estimates, including the Works Estimates, could be submitted early in each year.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I intend, before resuming my seat, to deal with the question of the launching-ways for the Brisbane, but I propose to leave that to the last, and I trust honorable senators will give a hearing to the departmental side of that question. Senator Senior referred to Port Lincoln , and the expenditure proposed there. I spent two or three days at Port Lincoln, looking around, and I was there when the site for the Naval Base was selected. Every one who has visited Port
Lincoln must be convinced that it is a splendid harbor. Admiral Henderson was very much impressed with it; but he points out in his report that he was not here to say which were the best harbors in Australia, but to choose the best strategic position for the establishment of Naval Bases for Australia, and to outline for the Government the order in which they should be constructed. He chose Port Lincoln for a torpedo and submarine base; but if honorable senators will look up his report, they will find that he placed it among those in the second order of construction.
– With Beauty Point, in Tasmania?
– No, I think the base at Beauty Point was put even further back. The Government recognise that conditions might arise which would justify expediting the construction of one base rather than another; but unless such conditions do arise, they propose to adhere as closely as possible to the advice given in Admiral Henderson’s report. I mentioned, in moving the secondreading of the Bill, that a sum of money is set aside for Port Lincoln. The greater part of it will be required for land resumption there. Senator Grant raised the question of men temporarily employed by the Government being compelled to undergo a medical examination. Honorable senators are well aware that men permanently employed by the Government have to undergo a medical examination, and there is a very good reason for that. The Government undertake certain obligations in respect of public servants who become incapacitated, and it is therefore necessary, in the interests of the public purse, that permanent employes should be required to undergo a medical examination before appointment. It is news to me that temporary employes are required to undergo such an examination. I have never heard of it before. I shall find out whether an adequate reason can be given for it. There may be a good reason for it, but I confess that I do not know what it is. I have to deal now with the launchingways for the cruiser Brisbane. I have already in the press given a history of this matter. It is undoubtedly regrettable that the question of the construction of these launching-ways was not decided some time ago, because there will undoubtedly be some delay due to the fact that the launching-ways have now to be put down. The launching-ways up to the water’s edge have been put down. They were put down at the time the New South Wales Government undertook the construction of the cruiser. I make that statement because Senator Grant was somewhat severe in his criticism of the launching-ways that are there now. He has said that the Brisbane is supported Oil blocks, and has been sarcastic about the launching-ways he found there.
– I did not find any at all j there are none there.
– If the honorable senator had asked to see them, the authorities of the dockyard would have showed him an enormous bed of concrete up to the water’s edge, and the launching-ways constructed above that bed. I have seen them myself. Those launching-ways were planned by and laid down under the superintendence of Mr. Cutler, who was “then acting superintendent of the yard. If that work has been badly done, it was done by the engineer who has been eulogized by Senator McDougall, and who, the honorable senator tells us, has a perfect plan for launching-ways below the water. There is a good reason why the launching-ways below the water, were not constructed at the outset. The Government were naturally anxious that the construction of the ship should be commenced as soon as possible. It was known that launching-ways below the water could be laid down at any time, and would take from six to nine months to construct. All that it was necessary to do to enable the construction of the ship to be started was to construct the launching-ways above water. It was known that the ways below water might be taken in hand at any time subsequently. It may be that at that initial period Mr. Cutler prepared plans for launching-ways below the water. I have not denied that he did so. What I have said, and what I repeat now, is that I made inquiry at the Navy Office, and I have been assured that there are no such plans in existence at the Navy Office. In order that that report may not rest merely on my word, or the word of an officer of the Department, I have this statement in writing from Mr. Macandie, the Naval Secretary -
Regarding Senator McDougall’s question, I have telegraphed to Cockatoo Island to search the records there, also to the State DirectorGeneral of Works to see if Mr. Cutler had plans for launching. I am having a search made for the papers you refer to as in the office during your previous term.
I have said that when I was Minister before there were papers in the office in connexion with the launching of the Brisbane, and I suggested that possibly amongst those papers there was a plan for launching-ways below the water, and I instructed this officer to have a search made amongst those papers. I wish to remind honorable senators that, as the initial work was undertaken by the New South Wales State Government, it is possible that Mr. Cutler drew up plans for these launching-ways which have gone into the archives of the New South Wales Public Works Department. It is possible, also, that they are at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and if they are, we shall obtain them, because instructions have been given to make a search for them.
– They are at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. The authorities could put their hands on them at any minute.
– Well, I have stated what my instructions were.
– It is a pity that such information is given to the Minister.
– I can only assume that my officers are obeying their instructions. I cannot, without some proof, assume that they are deliberately trying to delude and deceive me.
– Is not the explanation that Mr. Macandie has said that there is nothing in the Navy House here ? That is all his report says.
– Yes, and that he had telegraphed to the manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard’ and to the Director-General of Works in New South Wales, and had received no reply. I rang up the Navy House this evening. I could not get Mr. Macandie, but asked the officer who spoke to me if they had received a reply to send it to me. So far no reply has reached me. All I can say is that the officers assure me that the plan is not in the Navy Office, and that they telegraphed on the 5th to Sydney, as I have stated, and up to to-day, the 10th, have received no reply. The position when Mr. King Salter took over the management of the dockyard was that he recognised that something must be done in regard to the slipway below water, and soon after taking up his position he began to bring the matter forward. Subsequently he and Mr. Fanstone, Director of Works, went into the whole question of dockyards, and made a report on them. Among other things, they made this minute-
The first item, slipway and dam for launching, is by far the most urgent, and stands out as the one item to which immediate attention should be given, as any delay in this being put in hand will cause corresponding delay in the launching of the Brisbane, as until the lower end of the slipway is prepared for the launchways, and the sides of the slip extended by a watertight wall to bc closed at its sea end by a portable dam, the Brisbane cannot be launched. The necessity for this work is due to the small rise and full of the tide.
That was dated 13th May, 1914.
– Exactly twelve months from the day that Mr. Cutler’s plan was sent to Melbourne.
– This was not the first time the point was raised. It was raised first in March, 1914, by Mr. Salter, but this was the first time that any definite proposal took place. Apparently there was some discussion which does not appear on the files as to the form in which it should be carried out. The Director of Naval Works, on the 30th October of this year, put forward a definite proposal as to the construction of the slipway. The file contains on that point the following letter - from him to the Naval Secretary
With reference to my N.W.14/3472 of the 1st instant, regarding the construction of launchingway for the above slip, I forward herewith plans in connexion therewith which have been concurred in by the general manager. The estimated cost of this work is £28,500. Before the permanent work can be started it will be necessary to construct a coffer-dam, which will cost about £6,000, arid is included in above estimate. It is expected that certain materials and timber will be returned to store for utilization on other works later, and the sum of £2,500 will thus be saved. To hasten this work certain items have been started for the construction of the coffer-dam under the amount, £3,500, already approved. The caisson to the entrance is a work for the general manager, who has put the work in Hand, as is usual under the Admiralty Regulations, but the cost thereof is not included in the abovementioned estimate.
Subsequently there is an indication on the file that the question of cost was raised, and the question as to whether some other temporary construction would not meet the case. Mr. Swan, who is a subordinate of Mr. Fanstone, was instructed to go into the question. He was sent over to Cockatoo Island yard, and, on the 16th November, submitted a proposal which worked out at an estimate of £7,500. This plan was submitted to Mr. King Salter, who reported -
With’ reference to the above quoted letter re the slipway and dam for the Brisbane slip, the alternative plan was put before me by Mr. Swan and it is understood from him that it is intended to build the concrete structure as shown op that sketch, lay and secure the launching ways to the concrete structure, grease the ways, admit the water, and remove the surrounding dam, which it is stated can be done in six days; and that for subsequent vessels the slipway will always be under water; finally, that the work involved in . this alternative plan will take six to seven months, which is not much less time than it is understood the complete dam will take, so that there will not be much saving of time so far as the Brisbane is concerned. It may be observed that to leave the grease exposed to the water for six days - it is considered that to remove the piles in six days is a very optimistic estimate - is running a most serious risk, and one which I am not prepared to accept. It would appear that it has been assumed that the groundways, once fixed, would be suitable for subsequent vessels. This assumption is not tenable, as it is much more probable than otherwise that subsequent vessels will require a different set for the groundways, and also it would be quite out of the question to leave the timber ways for all time in the water. As regards subsequent vessels, it is quite impracticable to attempt to properly grease the ways under water, and I could not accept the responsibility of the risks involved. There is an alternative to having the ways fixed below water, and that is to have the lower end of the ways portable, and after greasing them to lower them under water, but there is so much risk attendant on this method that it is a most undesirable method to adopt, and should be adopted only as a last resource. I therefore regret that I cannot see my way to concur in this proposed alternative plan, and would observe that once the proposed work, with a dam is completed it would be done oncefor all for all ships that could be built on that slip, and to attempt to save money on this work would be very ill-advised. I have not seen what the Naval Works Department’s estimate is for the complete plan, but it should not be forgotten that the building of the caisson to the dam will be in addition to that estimate. The estimated cost of the caisson is about £3,000. Another advantage to the dam is that the slipway is kept dry during the building of the ship, which is a point of not inconsiderable importance.
That is the minute of. the officer who is responsible for the safe launching of the ship. It came before the Naval Board at a meeting at which I was not present, and the Board unanimously recommended that Mr. Salter’s proposition should be adopted. Of this I approved. The alternative offered to me is to adopt the proposal of a junior officer, who is not responsible for the safety of the launching. He is not connected with the dockyard, and his plan is merely a temporary expedient, which will probably serve only the launching of the Brisbane. It will save, at the most, two months, and the general manager of the dockyard refuses to accept any responsibility for it. I have a very good opinion of Mr. Swan, but even Mr. Swan himself will not put himself up as a competent authority against Mr. Salter, who has had considerable experience in dockyards in the Old Country, has seen many ships launched, and, doubtless, has taken part in their launching. Senator McDougall offers me the alternative of a plan which was formulated by Mr. Cutler, the previous superintendent of the dockyard. That plan, he says, is somewhere, and for all I know may be identical with the temporary expedient put forward by Mr. Swan.
– No; it is altogether different.
– Lot us suppose it is not. If I adopt it, I have to set aside the recommendation of my responsible manager, and compel him to launch the ship on the proposal of another man, who has had no experience of the launching of a ship of this size. I have great respect for Mr. Cutler, who did admirable work in the dockyard, as far as it went; but the largest ship ever turned out there was nothing like the Brisbane in size, weight, or capacity. In the circumstances, I am not justified in refusing to accept the advice of my responsible officer, or in adopting alternatives put forward by people who have no present responsibility to me. If they turned out a fiasco, I could not lay the responsibility on their authors, or on the general manager. I should have to shoulder it myself.
– Is it not possible to have further inquiry made?
– Certainly. I am prepared to say that if this plan can be found it will be fully investigated. It may happen that when the general manager sees the plan, it may have advantages which Mr. Swan’s plan did not.
– He has seen it.
– The honorable senator says so; but it is rather singular, if he has seen it, that in all this docket he makes no reference to it.
– Does that plan embody the scheme to which Senator McDougall commits himself?
– I have no idea. T have not seen it, and do not know what it contains!. The alternative to which I referred was drawn up by a subordinate officer in the Works Branch of the Navy Office in Melbourne. He is not on the staff of the dockyard, and Mr. Salter emphatically repudiated his plan. If Mr. Cutler’s plan is in existence I shall certainly see that we get it, and I shall certainly want to know what the general manager has to say upon it, and whether he can give good reasons why it should not be adopted. On the facts as they are before me in the docket, I should be deserving of the censure of the Senate if I turned down the general manager’s recommendation and accepted that of a subordinate officer which the general manager emphatically repudiates. I also understand that the Director of Naval Works, Mr. Swan’s immediate chief, has not indorsed Mr. Swan’s proposal. I therefore feel that I had no alternative but to accept the recommendation of the responsible officer, although it involved increased expenditure. It has, however, the advantage that, once the work is carried out, it is there for all time, and available for all other ships. The expense, therefore, will not have to be incurred again, while it is clear ‘from the reports that a considerable amount of the expenditure recommended by Mr. Swan once having served its purpose for the launching of the Brisbane, would be of no avail for the launching of future ships. That seems to be an unsound proposition. We hope that the shipbuilding programme, once begun, will be a permanent policy, and any work of that kind should, therefore, be available for permanent use..
– Why is it that a coffer-dam is essential here, and, apparently, not essential for similar work in other parts of the world?
– I do not know. In the first place, I do not know that a coffer-dam is not used in other parts of the world. I do not pose as a shipbuilding expert. We have in Mr. Salter a man who has been associated with shipbuilding yards in the Old Country. He was recommended to us by a committee of naval, mercantile, and shipbuilding experts, and we should have some justification before we turn his proposals down.
– Has he had any experience in the launching of vessels?
– Certainly. He has been associated with dockyards where vessels have frequently been launched, and, therefore, must have had experience. If he is not competent to advise us on the matter, he should not be where he is. If he is not competent, we have made a mistake, and he should not be retained as general manager of the yard. But while we do retain him, unless we have very good reasons, we ought to act on his advice, especially when he warns us that any other proposal will endanger the safe launching of the ship. I shall pursue the matter of the other plan, and see that Mr. Salter reports on it - not only whether he is prepared to adopt it, but, if it cannot be adopted, to give reasons why. Then I shall be in a position to judge whether the reasons advanced are sound or otherwise.
– In the meantime the work will necessarily go on?
– Yes. But that work is of such a character that it will come in even if another plan has to be adopted. I have no knowledge of how long it would take to give effect to Mr. Cutler’s plan. I have seen no estimate of the time which would be occupied.
– The Minister cannot say that I did not explain it. I gave the measurements and the cost both for putting it down in concrete and in timber.
– What I have here is a temporary scheme which would cost £7,500, and to give effect to which would, upon the word of its author, occupy from six to seven months, as against a permanent plan, recommended by Mr. King Salter, and to which effect could be given in nine months.
– What about the sale of the Moorac land ?
– That is a matter of which I have no knowledge, and I would suggest to the honorablesenator that he should raise it in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed:
First schedule, abstract, and summary postponed.
High Court - Federal Territory: Acquisition of Land - Federal Capital : Works and Buildings - Quarantine Stations - Lighthouses - Naval Works - Launceston Boatshed - Naval College - Unexpended Votes - Townsville Drill Hall and Boatshed - Levelling Site at Kelvin Grove - Enoggera Rifle Range and Field Artillery Depot - Government. Printing Office - Rifle Clubs : Miniature Ranges : Rifles - Woollen Cloth Factory - Wireless Stations : Pacific Islands - War Expenditure - Aviation.
Second schedule -
– I desire some information in regard to the item “ Additional accommodation, High Court, Sydney, £1,400.” I notice that it is a re-vote, but I wish to know whether it is in any way connected with the proposal of the New South Wales Government to build new Courts in that State for the use of its Judiciary, or whether it is connected with the Court at Darlinghurst which is used by our High Court Justices?
.- The brief note which I have in reference to this work states -
To provide accommodation for the additional Judges of the High Court it is proposed to erect a second floor over the present Judges’ chambers. The Commonwealth is to defray the cost. It is pointed out that the Commonwealth has, from the establishment of the High Court in 1903, occupied rent free the Court Houses and Judges’ chambers (the chambers being added to by the State without charge to the Commonwealth for the express purpose of accommodation of the High Court).
– I should like to know something in reference to the area for which £2,850 is to be appropriated in connexion with the Federal Territory. Where is it situated ?
– I am not in a position to say, but at a later stage I shall be happy to supply the desired information.
– I, too, would like some information from the Minister in regard to the acquisition of land inside the Federal Territory. I understand that all private lands within the Territory were valued at a particular period, and that the Government reserved to themselves the right to resume them whenever they pleased. That is altogether an unsatisfactory position. We must recollect that the value of land in Australia is continually increasing, and that if the Government delay resuming areas within the Federal Territory for, say, a period of ten years, their owners will then get only their value as at the time of their valuation. I am not complaining of that. It is perfectly right and just. But I go further, and say that if the Government make an arrangement of that sort with certain individuals, they ought either to complete it at the earliest possible moment, or to pay the landowners interest on the money involved.
– Then the honorable senator is complaining on behalf of the land-owners ?
– I hope that the honorable senator will keep his ears open. Here is the position : Suppose that a man’s land at the time of its valuation several years ago was worth £10,000.
– The lands within the Territory were valued in 1908, I believe.
– The value of land in Australia is continually increasing. If that particular individual had been bought out in 1908, the probability is that he would then have been able to secure a better holding for his £10,000 than he would be in a position to get now. Unless the resumption of his land be completed by the year 1920, the probability is that his £10,000 will be worth, perhaps, only half of what it would have been worth to him in 1908. That is my reason for insisting that if the Government intend to act squarely by these land-owners, they ought to buy them out with the least possible delay. Every year’s delay means more loss to these individuals. I believe in the proposition I have laid down just as firmly as I do in the obverse proposition, namely, that no man should be allowed to profit by community-created values. I trust that the Government will, at an early date, resume the whole of the lands within the Federal Territory, and buy out the owners of them.
– I am sure it has been worth our living through all these years to witness the remarkable change of front on the part of Senator Stewart.
– There has been no change of front on my part.
– We have a lively recollection of how the honorable senator’s voice has for years thundered through this Chamber in advocating the need for securing for the Commonwealth, to the last farthing, what he is pleased to call the community-created values. Now, by a somersault which Blondin at his best never equalled, the honorable senator has turned round and affirmed that the unfortunate land-owners in the Federal Territory should be paid the value of their lands years ago, in order that they may be able to invest their money to better advantage. When I asked him whether he was pleading on behalf of the land-owners, he replied that I had better keep my ears open. It appears to me, however, that if anything requires opening it is the brain of the honorable senator who is now pleading for the landowners within the Federal Territory. As a land-user, he ought to know that these people will have the use of their lands from the time when those lands were valued until their actual resumption, so that they are really getting an excellent bargain. I hope that Senator Stewart will yet look at things through different spectacles from those through which he has been accustomed to view them, because, in the past, he has been particularly one-eyed. He is now taking up the cudgels on behalf of land-owners, who have much the betterof the deal, inasmuch as they can get the price at which their lands stood years ago-
– But they cannot get it.
– Because the Government will not give it to them.
– The word of the present Government is as good as their bond.
– The Government will not say whether they will take the land or not.
– If the Government say they will take the land, that is good enough for me.
– But they will not say whether they will take it or not.
– The understanding that has been arrived at between the Commonwealth and the land-owners is that the latter will receive payment on the basis of the valuation of their landsupon a certain date.
– If the Commonwealth resumes those lands. But there is no guarantee that it will.
– Senator Stewart objects to that arrangement, on the ground that it is unfair to the landowners, inasmuch as they should have had the money which their lands were worth a certain number of years ago. But I need scarcely point out that land values in this country have oscillated violently. Land which in New South Wales was valued at £10 per acre some years ago cannot command more than £2 or £3 per acre to-day. Though values in the main have become enhanced in Queensland, there are instances in which they have receded. That, too, may be the experience of lands in the Federal Territory. But the fact remains that the land-owners there will have had the use of their lands from the time that they were valued for Commonwealth purposes until they are actually resumed, for nothing.
– But their tenure has been rendered insecure.
– I venture to say that if any of these land-holders offered their lands as security to Senator Stewart they would be received in a very gracious way, and that business would result very quickly. I am sorry that I have not any land in the Federal Territory, because, if I had, I could very easily use it to finance for the purpose of carrying forward any other operations I might have without necessarily selling to the Government of the day. I am astonished, indeed shocked, at the new attitude of Senator Stewart. He has put on his armour on behalf of the downtrodden landlords in the Federal Territory. The end of the world must be approaching when we find Senator Stewart, of all men, coming out in a new light in defence of the men who have had the use of their holdings for nothing for the last four or five years.
– I always like, if possible, to act the part of a peacemaker, and if it is in my power to compose the slight difference of opinion between two colleagues, I feel that I would be remiss in my duty if I did not make an effort to do so. It seems to me that if we come to analyze things there is not very much difference between these two honorable senators. The difference which exists is that they are both suffering from an overdose of loyalty to their ideals. Their difference of opinion arises from the fact that Senator Stewart has placed before him as his ideal a principle, and that Senator Lynch has placed before him as his ideal a prejudice. The former, it seems to me, has always been one of the most consistent advocates of a mistaken theory whom I have had the pleasure of listening to. In season, and, as we all know when we want to adjourn, out of season, he has pressed this theory on the attention of honorable senators. It is in pursuance of that theory that he comes forward tonight and points out that, not only the present Government, but previous Governments have done an injustice to the landlords. It is just here that the prejudice of Senator Lynch comes in. It is enough for Senator Lynch to mention the word “ landlord “ to see that, as far as he is concerned, justice will go out of the window.
– I never mentioned the word.
– I indorse entirely what Senator Stewart has said as to the immorality of the position taken up by the Government in relation to these landowners. We provided in a certain Act that, if we did resume the land in the Federal Territory, we would resume it at the value it had in, I think, 1908. Nobody knows whether the land is to be resumed or not. It is idle to say that the land-owners are in a fortunate position because they have the word of the present Government. They have not any word. They cannot get from the Government to-day a definite statement as to whether the land will be resumed or not. On the other hand, if the land-owners wish to sell to private individuals, an intending purchaser immediately asks, “ How do I know that if I buy from you at what I think is the fair market value, in ten years’ time the Commonwealth Government may not come along, and, by virtue of the Act, say, ‘ We are going to resume the land at the value it had in 1908 ‘?” Now, what was the value of the land in 1908 ? A proposal has been put before the Government recently by the trustees of an estate. Being very anxious to subdivide the property, they asked the Department to give them a valuation in order that they may sell, but the Department will not do so. The trustees are unable to sell because intending purchasers would say, “ We are not prepared to buy land at what we think is its value when there is an Act under which the Government can hold that our ideas were all wrong, and that the real value of the land is so much less than it was sold for in 1914.” These people only made the simple request that the Government should declare what the value was in 1908, and, if that was done, they would be in a position to sell. But they cannot get that information from the Government. It is pushing the powers of government to an unwarranted extreme to leave the land-owners in such a position that they are unable to sell to private individuals so long as the Act remains in existence.
– You would not think of buying a thing that you did not want.
– No; and I would take good care not to buy a thing that I did want if I did not know that the value was there. If the Government do not want this land, let them either repeal the Act or give a notification to the owners that they will resume this block and not resume the other block. Let the Government free the owners from the shackles that are on them to-day. Senator Lynch said just now that if he had the land he would regard himself as an extremely fortunate individual. So would I, if I got the land for nothing; but I venture to say that if there is one man in Australia whose acquaintance I can claim who would not buy that land, or any other property with that bar sinister across it, it is Senator Lynch. If there was land the market value of which was £5 an acre, and “the honorable senator wanted the land, and thought it was worth that price, does any one think that he would buy the land with that Act in existence? His friends would send for two doctors if he did. The honorable senator would know perfectly well that, although he might regard the fair market value of the land at £5 an acre, and pay it, the very next day, by some change of policy, or some alteration of views with regard to the development of the Capital, the Government might come along and say, “It is quite true that you paid £5- an acre for the land, “but we are going to fight you on it. We say that the value of the land in 1908 was £3 an acre.”
– If the ownership of land in the Territory, was such a bad possession, why was there such a scramble to have the Seat of Government in a hundred places in New South Wales ?
– I do not see that that throws any light on the question under discussion. There- was a very natural belief and desire when a sit© was selected for the Capital that land values there would rise. Apart from those who held land, business people, and even those who did the work of the community in those localities, thought that there would be a brisk time, a modified boom, as the result of the selection of a particular site.
– Will the owners take, the value of the land declared under the State Land Tax Act?
– All that the trustees of the estate that I referred to ask is that the Government shall tell them the value of the land, so that when they try to subdivide the estate they can say to intending purchasers, “ There is the Government valuation of the land in 1908 - you have to take your chance as to whether the Government will resume the land at a future date, but if you do you have a Government certificate that that is the value at which they will resume.”
– Was it not a Liberal Government that was in power in 1908?
– Does that affect the matter ?
– It affects the question as to whether there should be a valuation.
– When I voted for the clause giving the power to resume, I fully expected that the resumption would follow within a reasonable period, not that the owners would be held in a state of suspense for all time.
– Why did you not give them a valuation ?
– So far as I know, a proposal for a valuation was not presented to the previous Government. I know that such a proposal has been presented to the present Government. I have urged before the view that, in fairness to the land-owners, we ought either to take the land over, and have done with the matter, or to intimate to them that we do not propose to take it over, so that they can go ahead as ordinary landholders. There is nothing unfair in that suggestion. When I state, as I do on the authority of the people who made the offer, that there is in one particular case a most modest request that the Government should give them a valuation to enable them to subdivide, it seems to me that the Government are pushing the arbitrary powers they possess to an extent which becomes extremely unjust and unfair to the land-owners concerned.
– I do not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of a certain land policy beyond saying that it hardly seems to be involved in the question raised by Senator Stewart, although it is closely related to it. The Parliament has determined that the land in the Federal Territory shall be acquired under certain conditions, but, in addition to having the machinery for resumption, it is also necessary to have the requisite cash. The present Government have hardly had breathing time, but I hope that it will not be very long before we shall have a clear and definite policy as regards our attitude to the land-holders in the Federal Territory. Whatever our decision may be, I certainly agree with Senator Millen that the landowners are entitled to finality, so that they may know where they stand. The methods will have to be determined, and the cash provided. The item which is being discussed relates to the acquisition of some land outside the Federal Territory. Loan money has already been provided for the purchase of land within the Federal Territory, but this sum is required for the purchase of an estate owned by a man named Fitzgerald. It was thought that, in view of the lay-out and the general contour of the country, it was desirable, in the interests of the estate itself, that the whole block should be purchased, but it was found that a certain area was outside the boundary of the Federal Territory, and so money has to be provided for the purchase of the estate. Of course, the question of what shall be done with the outside portion is involved in the item, but that will have to be decided later. I believe that the purchase of the estate will prove to be a good bargain. The general policy as to what will be done with the acquired land will he determined byandbye.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [8.50]. - The arrangement which obtains in regard to landholders in the Federal Territory is entirely a one-sided one. With Senator Stewart and other members of this Parliament, I paid a visit to Canberra a few weeks ago, and this matter was brought under our notice. I might point out to the Assistant Minister that it does not involve, necessarily at any rate, a question of money. What the land-holders are entitled to have is a statement from the Government as to what valuation is placed on the. land which the Commonwealth has taken the right to acquire at some unknown time.
– The value of the land in 1910.
.-I go farther, and say that, although the Government might reasonably require a little delay to complete the matter, the land-owners ought to be made acquainted with their decision within a reasonable period, and not kept in a state of suspense for a number of years, never knowing the day when the Government may intervene to take possession of their land, and naturally hampering their operations during the period. As regards the argument of Senator Stewart, that the value of land is increasing, and that these persons will not be able to make as good an investment in the future as they could do to-day if they had the money, I do not think there is much to be said on that point, because the value of the land will depend upon its productiveness. If the land increases in value, the productiveness will increase, and a man who buys in ten years’ time, although he may pay a good deal more, will be able, owing to settlement and other reasons, to make as good an income out of the land as he could do at the present time with land bought at a lower rate. My point is that, whatever price a man pays for land, he expects to make something out of it. One result of this discussion has been to elicit from a member of the Government an intimation that they propose to deal with this question in a definite way at a very early period, and I hope that they will do so. As Senator Millen feels so strongly upon this matter, I wonder that during his short period of office he did not take steps to give effect to his views, and have the question of the valuation of these lands settled.
– Will the Assistant Minister say what items of expenditure are covered by the proposed vote of £270,000-“ Federal Capital at Canberra - Towards cost of establishment “ ?
– As honorable senators generally are anxious, in view of the number of unemployed at the present time, that public works shall be undertaken where possible, they will probably be interested in the following list of the items of expenditure included in the vote referred to: -
Acton roads and bridges, £750.
Power-house and Acton sewerage, £1,000.
Power-house and Acton water supply, £1,000.
Brick works, £12,000 - preliminary research has been completed. Factory established. Excellent bricks made at a site adjacent to the city from large deposits of shale. Amount required on the year’s Estimates, £12,000, for construction of permanent enclosed kilns and requisite machinery. Total estimated cost for three kilns, £35,000. - First instalment.
Cast-iron pipe mains, £23,000.
Dam and reservoir at the Cotter River, £30,000. Concrete dam on the Cotter River near its junction with the Murrumbidgee; capacity, 840,000,000 gallons; constructed of concrete from stone in the immediate vicinity. Foundations completed, and about quarter height of wall. Total estimated cost, £95,000.
Murrumbidgee bridge, £1,000.
Power-house erection, £5,000.
Power-house plant, £20,000.
Cotter pumps and motors, £7,500.
Pipe head reservoir, £20,000.
Road construction and maintenance, £5,500.
Road development, £5,000.
Cotter River-road, £3,000.
Service reservoir at Red Hill, £10,000.
Quarry development, £500.
Tunnel from main reservoir to pump, £6,000.
Storm-water sewers, £5,000.
Main sewers and unions, £50,000.
Running and miscellaneous expenses, £3,500.
Buildings for stores, workshops, &c., £6,000.
Temporary hospital, £1,000.
Store buildings for timber, £1,000.
Buildings, workmen’s locations, £3,000.
Quean beyan regulating reservoir, £10,000.
Initial city roads, water and sanitation, £5,000.
Bridge over Molonglo River, £7,500.
Repairs and maintenance, furniture and fittings, £1,500.
Cement works, £1,000 - excellent deposits available within Territory. It is desirable to reduce cost of cement by manufacture locally.
Total estimated cost of plant - capacity 50,000 barrels per annum - £50,000. Plans and specifications are prepared. Amount of £1,000 on this year’s Estimates towards initial expenses.
Railway - Canberra to Yass, £2,000.
Timber for seasoning, £3,000.
That is a list of the principal works. Then there is an amount of £8,000 provided for afforestation, £4,000 for temporary assistance, £1,000 for books, stationery, and office requisites, and £4,500 for education. The £270,000 includes re-votes from last year, which the Government hope to spend in the way of providing employment at the Federal
Capital during the coming year.
– What is meant by the reference to the Queanbeyan regulating reservoir? That place is not in the Federal area.
– The Molonglo River passes through Queanbeyan, and it is necessary to regulate the flow of the river at that place, for the purposes of the future artificial lakes to be constructed at theFederal Capital.
– Will the Minister give the Committee some particulars with regard to the item “ Quarantine, new buildings and stations, alterations and additions - Towards cost, £50,730,” of which £5,759 is a re-vote. Is the proposed vote applicable only to New South Wales, or is it proposed as a general vote for the Commonwealth ?
– It is under the heading, “Various States and Federal Territory.”
SenatorKEATING. - I direct the attention of Ministers to a proposition which, I understand, is now under consideration, and that is the establishment of a quarantine station near Sydney, on the Lane Cove River, near a place called Tambourine Bay. I have reason to believe that the proposition is viewed with anxiety and apprehension by the authorities of Hunter’s Hill. I learn from an informant to-day that he has been informed of this proposal by the Mayor of Hunter’s Hill. Tambourine Bay is up the river a little distance before one reaches Hunter’s Hill or Figtree wharf. The foreshore is, to a large extent, the eastern boundary of the property of one of the most prominent colleges, not only of New South
Wales, but of Australia. Any one who knows the locality will be readily excused for believing that this is one of the most unsuitable localities that could be imagined for the establishment of a quarantine station. Senator Gardiner knows the Lane Cove River and Tambourine Bay, and probably also something of the large college and grounds to which I refer. Naturally and physically the place might be suitable for a quarantine station, but in view of the settlement that has taken place there, and the use to which the adjoining country is put, those < who know the place will agree with me that it must be out of consideration as a site for a quarantine station.
– Who objected to the establishment of a quarantine station there, apart from the Mayor of Hunter’s Hill?
– I know that the college authorities would object.
– And who besides them?
– I believe that the residents of the locality would object.
– It is very natural to assume that they would.
– I may inform honorable senators that the college property comprises something like 130 acres, and includes a considerable portion of the frontage to Tambourine Bay. Near the foreshore there is a football ground and farm, and naturally the authorities of the college view with some alarm the possibility of the establishment of a quarantine station so near to their grounds, rowing shed, and bathing place. I do not expect Ministers to give an immediate assurance on the matter, but that they will take the opportunity of considering it. If they give the matter full consideration, I believe I can rely on the members of the Government not to consent to the establishment of a quarantine station in such a locality.
– There must be some mistake. The Government would never propose to establish a quarantine station there.
– I have the information from a letter which I received from the rector of the college to-day. The letter was not written to me primarily about this matter, but the writer added a postscript to say that he had just learnt from the mayor of Hunter’s Hill that the
Federal Government proposed to establish a quarantine station in Tambourine Bay. He added that I would know what that’ would mean, and that he hoped that I would bring the matter under the notice of the Government, to prevent such a thing being done.
– It is’ a mare’s nest, I am afraid.
– I sincerely hope that it is.
– Most of the land there has been built upon.
– Not on Tambourine Bay. There are three piers and a good deal of settlement on the opposite side of the river. I hope that the Government will reconsider the matter, and that the result of their reconsideration will be an abandonment of the proposal. Such a step should not be taken without the fullest consideration, and should not be taken at all if it can be avoided. It would be a calamity to agree to establish quarantine stations in juxtaposition to institutions of the kind to which I have referred. I have given the source of my information. I hope that my informant has been misinformed. If such a proposal has been contemplated, I feel sure that the members of the Government, upon reconsideration, will be prepared unanimously to abandon it.
– I have a good deal of pleasure in saying that no expenditure at Tambourine Bay is covered by the vote for quarantine to which the honorable senator has referred. I hope that we shall find more suitable places to establish quarantine stations than Lane Cove River. If we can, I shall be pleased, and I am sure the Government will be pleased also. The information asked for by the honorable senator is as follows : -
North Head, Sydney, wiring for electric installation, &e., £2,350; Royal Park, Victoria, refrigerating plant, extension of vaccine premises, £1,200; Point Nepean, steam plant, &c, £2,174, additional dormitory accommodation, £480; Cape Pallarenda, erection of jetty, £780; Thursday Island, isolation hospital, £3,670; Lytton, isolation hospital, £1,753; Cape Pallarenda, quarantine buildings, hospital, &c, £5,850; Lytton, fencing, meat store, &c., £2,215; Thursday Island, tank, £460: Torrens Island, various services, £1,200; Darwin, jetty, £1,000; Torrens Island, store, £550; Broome, fumigating chamber, £400; Baines Bay, Tasmania, jetty, tanks, and road, £906.
The item referred to by Senator Keating is not included there.
– What is being done with regard to the quarantine station that used to he on Magnetic Island, off Townsville, and that has since been shifted to the mainland ? I do not know whether all the buildings and other matters have been completed.
– I am not in a position to state what has been done there, but no works are proposed for Townsville in this Supply Bill. Although the transfer to the mainland may be contemplated, no definite step has been taken.
– The transfer took place a couple of years ago.
– Is it proposed to re-erect the lighthouse on Wonga Shoal, opposite the Semaphore, in St. Vincent’s Gulf, South Australia? This was wrecked some time ago by a vessel, and, unfortunately, two lighthouse-keepers lost their lives. Temporary lights have been placed on the shoal since.
– Does it come under Federal control ?
– I think so. The light is very much missed by those who have to enter the Port Adelaide River. Senator MAUGHAN (Queensland) [9.14]. - Will the Minister give details in regard to the vote of £15,000 for lighthouses, especially with regard to the Queensland coast?
– Why, in view of the dearth of employment during the last twelve months, was not the vote of £13,000 expended last year?
– Last year, £15,000 was appropriated for lighthouses, of which only £1,851 was spent. There is a re-vote this year of £13,149, and £2,000 for new services. The Minister ought to give the Committee a statement as to the intentions of the Government with regard to expenditure. Unless it is intended to spend the money, we should not be asked to vote it.
.- The following is a list of new lighthouses to be undertaken - those not included will come up for consideration at some future time -
Queensland - Coquet Island, Chu Reef, Heath Reef, Tih Tih Reef, Chapman Island,
Piper Island, Clarke Island. Northern Terri. tory - Emery Point, Fort Point. Tasmania - ? West Point.
Most of the money that we are asked te vote is in anticipation of the transfer of lighthouses to the Commonwealth. We4 want to prepare for that happy event.
– No reference is made in the list read by the Minister to any new lights for the south or west coasts of Western Australia. I understood that a considerable amount of work was to be done on that long stretch of coastline. There must be some mistake.
– Those are particularly urgent works. The whole matter will come under consideration on the transfer of the lighthouses. This is only a. small amount, probably for urgent works. .
– Between the-> light on Cape Borda, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and the Breaksea light, just outside Albany - a distance of about 1,000 miles - there is not a single light.. This is about the longest stretch of Australian coastline unlighted. There is a. considerable agitation for more lightsalong that coast, and also on the northwest coast - perhaps the most dangerous part of the Australian coastline - which is = very badly lighted.
Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) T9.20]. - I recently asked the Assistant Minister - questions regarding the lighting of tho northern Australian coast. He read a detailed statement, from which I gathered’ that it was contemplated to proceed almostimmediately with the erection of lighthouses at certain points. What has become of them ? Are they being subordinated to other projects ? It has been represented to me by mariners who frequently traverse those waters that thebetter lighting of that part of the Australian coast is most imperative.
– Active preparationsare now being made for the transfer of the lighthouses to the Commonwealth. The probability is that the general policy in regard to lighthouses is still under consideration. It may be necessary, in preparation for the transfer, to carry out the works I have read out; but the amount provided in that- regard is only . a small’ one, and does not- represent’ the completepolicy of the Government- on the matter. It represents merely a temporary arrange- - meat to meet temporary difficulties. The Government are taking active steps to secure the necessary ships, so that the work may be more effectively carried out in the future under our control than it has been in the past under the restricted activities of the States.
– Last year, £15,589 was appropriated under the heading of Naval Works, New South Wales, and only £573 was spent, This year, £28,078 is appropriated. How much is it proposed to spend during the financial year? Eight thousand pounds were appropriated for the Naval establishment at Garden Island, Sydney, and none of the money was spent. Five thousand pounds were appropriated for the Naval establishment at Spectacle Island, and only £472 was spent. It seems foolish to load Estimates with appropriations of which only a comparatively small proportion is spent; and the Government should be careful to keep the appropriations down as nearly as possible to the probable expenditure.
– Last year Are appropriated £3,269 for Naval works in Western Australia, out of which only £224 was expended. Of a sum of £1,569 for boatshed and slipway at Albany, nothing was expended. A great deal has been said about the amount of unemployment in Western Australia owing to the drought, and I would urge the Government to push on with these works to relieve the acute distress existing. It is absurd to vote large amounts for works, only to find at the end of the year that comparatively few pounds have been spent.
– I wish to direct attention to the item “ Launceston boatshed £360.” I would like to ask whether the Department has yet succeeded in arranging the location of this boatshed? For a couple of years or more it has been unable to arrive at an understanding with the State authorities. The Launceston City Council and the Launceston Marine Board have been ‘pulling one way, whilst the Department has been pulling another. Has a definite site yet been decided upon ?
– I can hardly say that the whole of the money set down on these Estimates will be expended during the current financial year, though we hope that it will. In regard to Garden
Island, it is true that £8,000 was unexpended last year. For the current year, £8,900 has been set down, and this sum is intended to cover the following services: - Stores for guns and gun mountings, £2,000; quarters for storehouse man, £800; dining-hall for workmen, £1,500; travelling crane, £385; new electrical workshop, £90; extension of boat-repairing shed, £240; new engineers’ fitting-shop, £1,875; and runways in gunmounting store, £340. I believe that everybody recognises the need for pushing on with Defence works, and, if Parliament authorizes the expenditure proposed, I have no doubt that the Department will push on with the construction of these works as rapidly as possible. In reply to the remarks of Senator Keating, I have to say that no definite site for the Launceston boatshed has yet been selected. We are still practically in the negotiating stage.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [9.28].- Can the Minister of Defence give us any information in regard to the Naval College at Jervis Bay? How long will it be before the college there will be opened?
– I may tell the honorable senator that for the first term of the new year the college will open at Jervis Bay. Arrangements are now in progress for removing the equipment of the college from Geelong to Jervis Bay.
– I direct attention to the extraordinary position which obtained in regard to Defence during the financial year 1913-14. Probably the explanation why nothing was done during that period is to be found in the fact that a Conservative Government were in power. I find that, in the case of New South Wales, £16,589 was appropriated, and only £573 was expended; whilst, in Victoria, £20,533 was voted, and only £1,363 was spent. In Queensland, £4,645 was voted, but only £386 was spent; and, in South Australia, whilst £4,155 was voted, not a single farthing was expended; in Western Australia, £3,269 was appropriated, but only £224 was spent. I hope that that sort of thing will not occur during the regime of the present Government. What is the use of loading the Estimates with appropriations which are not intended to be spent? It seems to me that the late Government were merely endeavouring to curry favour throughout the Commonwealth by holding out expectations of public expenditure which they never intended to be realized .
.- Can the Minister of Defence supply the Committee with any information in regard to the item of £1,750 for a drill-hall and boatshed at Townsville? Is that money to be expended upon a new building, or merely to effect repairs to the existing structure? If the latter, the money will be wasted. The building which is at present used by the Naval Brigade at Townsville is an antiquated one, and it would be a pity to effect repairs to it. It would be far better to erect a new building.
– A little earlier in the evening it was a pleasure to me to compliment Senator Stewart upon his consistency. But I am afraid that I spoke somewhat out of my turn, and that whatever I then said I must now withdraw, because a greater exhibition of rapidand rabid inconsistency has never been witnessed in this or any other parliamentary assembly than that which has just been given by the honorable senator. He ventured to say that the late Government attempted to curry favour throughout the Commonwealth by promising expenditure which they did not intend to incur. Has he forgotten the speech which he made upon the last Estimates when he declared that we were spending too much money on Defence ?
– I am simply saying
– I am simply saying that the honorable senator called upon the late Government to economize on Defence. If results have shown that we did economize, the honorable senator cannot criticise us for that. I would remind the Committee that there has never been a year in which very considerable savings upon the Estimates have not been effected. Speaking from memory, the Estimates for 1912-13 were something in the neighbourhood of £1,000,000 in excess of the amount actually expended. That is to say that there was unexpended the sum of £1,000,000 which Parliament had . appropriated. My memory is as good as is that of the average man, but
I have no recollection of Senator Stewart becoming indignant on that occasion.
– Did he speak?
– I hardly know an occasion upon which he has not spoken. It is impossible for a Department to spend all the money that Parliament votes for it, and for the reason to which I made reference earlier in the evening. We get the Estimates placed before us practically on Christmas Eve. The officials are then required to look around for sites, and to prepare plans for these buildings. Senator Keating just now stated that the State and Commonwealth authorities are at loggerheads over a site for a boat-shed at Launceston. The chances are that, before they arrive at an agreement, the remaining six months of the financial year will have expired, and the vote will thus have lapsed. That is a very good illustration of the reason why it is not possible to spend all the money that is voted by Parliament, and it is an additional reason why the course which I suggested earlier in the evening should be adopted. I would remind Senator Stewart that it was a member of his own party in another place who last year moved the reduction of the Defence Estimates by £1 as an intimation to the late Government that, in the opinion of Parliament,they were too big. As a result, the ex-Prime Minister gave an assurance that if the amendment were withdrawn an effort would be made to reduce the Defence expenditure by £500,000. Knowing as I do something of the organization of the honorable senator’s party, I do not think that Mr. Higgs would have moved in that direction unless he could have relied upon considerable support from his colleagues.
SenatorPearce. - His proposal was supported by both sides of the House.
– It was. A promise was given by the ex-Prime Minister that an endeavour would be made to reduce the Defence expenditure for the year by £500,000. That reduction was effected in obedience to parliamentary control, the absence of which Senator Stewart sometimes laments. Because Parliament exercised that control. Senator Stewart is now loud in his complaints. Apparently, whether we spend or whether we save, those who sit upon this side of the chamber must, in the honorable senator’s opinion, do wrong.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- As
Senator Maughan, I have to say that it is an entirely new drill hall which is to be erected at Townsville. The first aim of the Government is to minimize unemployment as much as possible by pushing on with public works as early as possible. I do not think that Senator Stewart was quite right when he wished to hold us responsible for unexpended balances last year. We do not desire in any shape or form to inflate our Estimates. We hope that the votes set down in this Bill will be expended during the year, because we believe that true economy consists in the expenditure of public money for the purpose of providing employment.
– I can hardly understand the item to which Senator Keating has directed attention, namely, “ Launceston boat-shed, £360.” Last year £384 was voted under this heading, and £345 was spent. Yet we now learn that a site has not been selected.
– That is another thing which sometimes happens. A site is purchased first, and the row takes place afterwards.
– Then there is an item which reads, “ Enoggera - railway and tramway construction, £4,266.” The same amount was voted last year, but nothing was spent. Another item reads, “ Kelvin Grove - levelling site, £145.” Last year £5,000 was appropriated for this purpose, and £5,629 was expended. This year we are asked to vote £145. It seems to me a good deal of money to spend on the levelling of a site. I do not know whether the money is required in connexion with the rifle range or not.
.- This is one of those cases where, unfortunately, there was a dispute as to the site. We have to try, as far as we can, in choosing a site to meet the wishes of the local authorities, and in this case there was a dispute with the Hobart Marine Board and the City Council. We have been trying to meet their wishes ; we did not desire to erect a drill hall in a place where it would interfere with the use of their boatsheds. A certain amount of expenditure was incurred on the work, and then an objection was raised to the site. I am not sure that the question of the site is settled yet.
– There is no re-vote asked for in this schedule.
– The item in the schedule is for the erection of the shed. I assume that the dispute as regards the site has been settled, but the building is not erected. If the question in dispute has been settled, the building of the boatshed will proceed.
– Under the head of Queensland, we are asking for a vote of £15,000 towards the cost of barracks, quarters, gun park, stabling, and other buildings for the Royal Australian Field Artillery at Enoggera. The Department want to continue the work provided for and authorized in previous years. The item of £940 is required for the erection of an ammunition store and a cartridge store at Enoggera for the Field Artillery. For the completion of work authorized in the previous financial year £4,266 is needed for railway and tramway construction at Enoggera, £510 for water supply at Lytton, and £145 for levelling a site at Kelvin Grove. I understand that the work at Enoggera was stopped last year, but that it was intended to push on with it-
– What I desired to elicit was whether the item of £4,266 for railway and tramway construction at Enoggera relates to a branch line which the Commonwealth is running, or proposing to run, from the ordinary State line. ‘ At the present time the State runs a railway to Enoggera. I
Was up there a few weeks ago, but, so far as I could see, there was no railway being laid down by the Commonwealth. I also desire to know why so much money is required for the levelling of a site at Kelvin Grove.
– Although it is practically one of the finest rifle ranges in the Commonwealth, the rifle range at Enoggera is some distance from any means of communication. We have there a Field Artillery depot and some stores for the storage of defence materiel. It is obvious that not only would it be an inconvenience to riflemen going out to shoot there, but there would be a very considerable bill for cartage unless we had some means of communication. As the State is under no necessity to make the provision, we are laying down a junction with their line to provide a means of communication, and, at the same time, to enable us to carry our stores and supplies. With, regard to the inquiry about the item for Kelvin Grove, a drill hall is being put up there, but the site is rather hilly, and it has to be levelled in order that we may secure a suitable parade ground.
– Last year, under the same item, £5,269 was spent.
– I do not think that it was all spent on levelling. So far as my memory tells me, other work was done with the money.
– That is how it appears here.
– I know that an exchange was arranged when I was in office before. I believe we shifted out of Adelaide-street, and exchanged with the S£ate. We got a piece of land with a very much larger area than we had before, but one disadvantage was that it was somewhat hilly, and needed a certain amount of levelling. Other work is being carried on which, I take it, is included in item of £4,000.
.- I observe an item of £4,600 for machinery and plant for the Government Printing Office and works in connexion therewith. Can the Minister tell the Committee how much money has already been spent on machinery and plant in the Government Printing Office?
– I am not in a position to answer the question, but I should say that probably we have spent £20,000 or £30,000.
– Whatever money has been spent the machines are the property of the Commonwealth, and, therefore, it has an asset for the expenditure.
– I am afraid that by this time they are not of much use:
– The machines, of course, have to be kept up to date.
– I should like the. Minister to give the Committee some information regarding the distribution of the item of £2,900 for miniature rifle ranges.
– There is, of course, no distribution to be made at the present time. Two amounts are required in order to enable grants to be made under the regulations. The item of £2,900, to which the honorable senator referred, is to continue the policy of constructing miniature ranges, so that cadets and other persons may receive proper instruction in shooting. It is obviously impossible to forecast what distribution will be made of the vote before the applications are received.
– I am obliged to the Minister for the information. In Queensland the people who are interested in the control of miniature rifle ranges are of opinion that a good deal more encouragement could be given to that arm of defence. The system is certainly worthy of every encouragement, and I have received some complaints - not very many - that there is some difficulty in getting the use of miniature rifle ranges for practice. I understand, from the District Commandant, that that is so, but I am not quite sure whether the difficulty directly concerns him. I am rather inclined to think that the Department here is not altogether sympathetic with the movement. I know quite well that the Minister is anxious to do all he can to encourage the use of these ranges. I am sure that every honorable senator recognises the importance of encouraging this arm. It is quite a popular thing in Queensland, and, I presume, in the other States. I trust that if the applicants cannot get the rifles free of charge the price will be made as reasonable as possible.
– It does seem that while the policy of the Department is to make on the whole very liberal provision for rifle ranges and so on, it is adopting a very conservative policy in regard to rifle clubs.
– You want everything.
– We do want rifles for rifle clubs, whether we want everything or not. A rifleman without a rifle is a very innocuous soldier. Within the last few days I, and probably other honorable senators, have received a communication from a gentleman in Hobart who is interesting himself most patriotically in the rifle club movement. He has secured a very considerable augmentation to what is regarded as one of the Units of our Defence Force. I think that the point at issue is constituted by the circumstances in which the rifles are being issued. I understood, from a statement made by the Minister the other day, that some kind of a guarantee is required from the rifle clubs for the value of the rifles issued. I believe that those who are interesting themselves, practically and patriotically, in ‘connexion with the movement, think it is desirable for the rifles to be issued without so much circumlocution and restriction. If the rifles are in the Commonwealth, I think it is desirable to take advantage of the patriotic enthusiasm of the men who are enrolling themselves and drilling at every opportunity by giving them rifles without imposing too many restrictions. It has been well pointed out that the rifles are not likely to disappear. There might be one or two cases in which the Government would suffer; at the same time, the rifles, in all probability, would be in the Commonwealth, and available in a time of emergency. This is the time when we should seize opportunity by the forelock. Instead of having our riflemen organized in an extremely loose fashion, we should, as soon as possible, issue to thom some sort of distinctive uniform, and give each of them a rifle, a bayonet, and the necessary equipment. What is needed is that they should be readily available for the reinforcement of our Citizen Forces. Without a uniform it is questionable whether they would be recognised as soldiers.
– They would be shot on sight.
– If they were confronted by such ruthless foemen as the Germans they would probably be shot on sight if they were found without uniforms. It is desirable that we should spend as much money as we can afford in , fostering the enthusiasm which our people are displaying at the present juncture by joining the ranks of rifle clubs. In our capital cities they may be seen on almost any evening marching to some central position for drill. The rifle clubs are representative of every class in the community. I think that they even more generally represent the community than would be the case with forces raised by conscription. We find the professional man and the working man marching shoulder to shoulder as members of rifle clubs, in the hope that they may be of value to the country should the necessity for their services arise. That patriotic enthusiasm should be encouraged in every way.
.- In confirmation, to some extent, of what
Senator Bakhap has advanced, I may say that in the city of Launceston,, where I live, there is a rifle club, the members of which feel somewhat sore on the ground that they are not better treated. A relative of mine was a member of the Australian team that won the Kolapore Cup, and he came out second in the Australian average. He has taken great interest in the organization of rifle clubs at Launceston, and a number of the members of those clubs are splendid rifle shots. Whether justly or unjustly, many of them feel that they have not been treated as well as they might have been. I am not going to say that the Minister of Defence has not been sympathetic to rifle clubs. I believe that he has; but I do say that if anything more can be done to encourage the efforts of the gentlemen who have taken up this arm of def ence, it should be done. Rifle shooting is sometimes taken up as a form of amusement, but there is amongst members of rifle clubs a patriotic spirit which we should encourage in every way we can.
.- With regard to the question raised by Senator Maughan, I may say that some time ago there was, I believe, a disposition at headquarters to frown upon the miniature rifle clubs, but I think that the feeling of opposition to them has been overcome. Since I have been back at the Department I have seen no complaint from miniature rifle associations as to the treatment they are getting. The miniature rifle club movement is one of comparatively recent growth. It has not been in existence for, I suppose, more than five years. At the outset it was, like most new things, viewed with some opposition in conservative military circles. I think that feeling has been outgrown, and the movement is now receiving a fair measure of support from the Department. With respect to the questions raised by Senators Bakhap and Guy, I should like to point out that our rifle clubs, for which I have every admiration, and for which I intend to do all I can, do not represent our first line of defence. The members of rifle clubs are not the first to be called out for the defence of the country. Those who are first called out are the members of our Citizen Forces. If the Senate were to vote me £500,000 for the purchase of rifles to-night it would not enable me to get a single additional rifle. That should bring home to honorable senators the fact that only a certain number of rifles are available, and our first duty is obviously to see that sufficient rifles and a sufficient reserve of rifles is provided for our first line of defence. I admit that it is our duty also to see that as many rifles as possible are made available for the members of rifle clubs, on just terms. Senator Millen, when Minister of Defence, called for a return, which I saw in the office, as to the number of Tines available. I have had his return supplemented by later returns as regards other rifles which could be made available for the members of rifle clubs. A number of rifles of an old type are quite good for rifle shooting. In fact, many riflemen prefer them for match shooting to the short .303 rifle. A number of these rifles of old type were in reserve, but there was an objection to them that they were provided only with the ordinary service sight. One of our armourers has been able to evolve an aperture sight, which at a comparatively cheap cost can be fitted to these rifles, which then become very good rifles even for match shooting. We are having these rifles fitted with the aperture sight, and many of them will shortly be made available for rifle clubs. I can assure honorable senators that the Department is doing everything it possibly can in this direction. I am having returns brought forward every week or two in order that I may know what is being done.
– There must be many Martini rifles in the Commonwealth yet.
– The MartiniEnfield is the rifle of old type to which I have referred.
– There must be many Martini-Henris in the Commonwealth.
– That is so, but I should like the honorable senator to tell me where we could get some ammunition for them. There are Ho factories now manufacturing ammunition for Martini-Henri rifles. I ‘wish to deal now with the conditions under which rifles can be made available for rifle clubs. Scores of these clubs are established in country districts where we have no permanent military officer or organization. Many clubs are started full of enthusiasm, and for a time the rifles are well cared for a<nd the attendance at shooting well kept up. After a time the enthusiasm flags. Then a few members of a club begin to neglect their rifles. It should be remembered that while our cordite ammunition is good am-“ munition it is extremely wasteful of the barrels of rifles. It erodes and corrodes them, especially if they are neglected. In connexion with our Permanent and Citizen Forces, one of the matters upon which our instructors lay most stress is the constant care and cleaning of rifles. In connexion with rifle clubs, there is no one to enforce this care. Many of the rifles are neglected, and when the barrels are eroded or corroded it is impossible to do good shooting with them. The good shots and the enthusiastic rifle club members will look after their rifles, but the careless members of rifle clubs will not. Rifle clubs are continually coming into existence and going out of existence. Some of them have ceased to exist before the Department has been able to take steps to recover the rifles. Some of them are never recovered, and in the case of many that are recovered we have to take 50 per cent, off the value as the result of neglect. This was the case especially when members of rifle clubs were given rifles and made individually responsible for them. When we have tried to recover rifles issued to members of a club we have sometimes found that half the members have left the district, and it is not possible to recover from them the cost of the damage done to the rifles. Thousands of rifles have been ruined in the Commonwealth in this way. We now make each rifle club collectively responsible for each rifle issued to its members. This is not a hardship upon the club. Just as the captain of a company is held responsible that the men of his company shall keep their rifles clean, so the captain of a rifle club is asked to assume the same responsibility for the members of the club. All the equipment, oil, and other material required for cleaning the rifles are issued free, and nothing but carelessness can account for a nonobservance of the conditions. In course of time a rifle will wear, and a calculation is made, and a certain percentage written off the value of a rifle for deterioration. The only penalty inflicted upon a rifle club is a penalty for carelessness that should be avoided. If the authorities of a club permit the members to become careless, to neglect their rifles, and allow them to become rusted, it is only fair that when the rifles .are returned the club should be debited with the loss due to the careless- ness of its members. The result of the operation of the rule has been a considerable saving to the Commonwealth, and has done no harm whatever to the rifle clubs. We should teach a man not only how to shoot, but also the proper care of the weapon with which he does his shooting. One salutary result of the rule adopted is that in their own interests the members of a rifle club not only see that their rifles are kept clean, but that the rifles of other members of the club are also kept clean, since the club is collectively responsible for all rifles issued to its members.
– The explanation given by the Minister of Defence is to my mind absolutely satisfactory. Last week I put a question to the honorable senator on this very subject, at the request of a number of members of civilian rifle clubs in my own State, who thought it rather hard that individual guarantees should not be taken for the care of rifles. I sent to the persons interested a copy of the answer given to my question, and I rise now, as one who had something to do with rifle clubs in years gone by, and who knows the tendency on the part of some members of such clubs to be careless of their rifles, to say that I have been thoroughly satisfied with the explanation the Minister has given.
.- I should like to have some information with respect to the item, “Woollen Cloth Factory - Towards purchase and erection of machine plant - £7,000.” The Minister might say what stage of development the factory has reached, and what the proposed vote of £7,000 represents in the way of plant and machinery.
– The vote of £7,000 represents the balance due on the cost of erection of machinery and plant for the Woollen Cloth Factory. The stage which the factory has reached is that the operating machinery of the factory proper has practically all been installed, but the shed for the power-plant has not been completed, and some of the power-plant itself has still to be installed. Until this is provided for the rest of the machinery cannot, of course, be operated. I am sorry that the power-plant was not gone on with, so that it might have been ready when the balance of the machinery was installed.
.- I notice an item of £25,000 for wireless stations in the Pacific Islands. I noticed also in the Budget-papers issued to us the other day the same amount of £25,000 for wireless stations in the Pacific Islands placed under the head of special war expenditure, and included, so far as I could gather, in the amount of £11,742,050, which is to be provided for partly by a loan from the Imperial Government, and partly by Treasury-bills. The doubt I wish the Minister to solve is whether the total amount to be expended is £50,000, of which half is to come from special war expenditure and half from the ordinary works appropriation, or whether there is an unconscious duplication of the item.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the total sum is £25,000, and not £50,000. There are many items in the ordinary Estimates that are also included in the war appropriation. They come under ordinary expenditure, but are debited, so far as bookkeeping is concerned, against the war expenditure. This is one of them. I can give the honorable senator privately details as to where the money is to be spent. It is expenditure due entirely to the war. The total is £25,000, and it has been provided so far out of revenue. I am not clear whether, by a bookkeeping entry, it has been debited to loan expenditure as well.
– We are asked to appropriate £25,000 out of the ConsolidatedRevenue, under the Works Bill. In the Estimates which we are to be asked to consider afterwards we are to appropriate another £25,000 for a similar item, in regard to which we are told that the Government will raise the necessary money as part of the big amount of £11,742,050, of which £10,500,000 is to be borrowed from the Imperial Government, and £1,242,050 to be raised by Treasury-bills. It is curious that Parliament should be asked to vote two sums of £25,000 to pay one bill of £25,000.
– Where is the other item?
– On page 52 of the Budget-papers, under the special heading of “War Expenditure.”
– The Budget-papers are not the appropriations.
– I am aware of that. We were told both by Mr. Fisher and Senator Pearce that the £11,750,000 of special war expenditure was to be provided for in the way I have indicated. If that is done we shall not really need the £25,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue.
– The whole of the war expenditure is in the ordinary Estimates.
– If the amount is being provided out of the £11,750,000, it is not necessary to appropriate it out of the Consolidated Revenue in the Works Bill. There seems to be a duplication somewhere.
.- The whole of our expenditure is debited in the ordinary Estimates to revenue, but we credit to revenue the £10,500,000 to be received from the British Government and the £1,200,000 odd to be raised by Treasury-bills. In those Estimates the honorable senator will not find this sum of £25,000 set down as a vote.
– Are you not keeping separate accounts of war expenditure?
– Yes, for bookkeeping purposes, but it all goes down in the Estimates-in-chief as ordinary expenditure, the total of which is £37,000,000. This sum of £25,000 is included in the Works Bill only because it is for a work which does not come under the ordinary Estimates.
– A sum of £7,700 is provided for new equipment and material for aviation school and flying corps, including aeroplanes and motor lorry. Is this money to be applied to the existing school in Victoria, or does the Department propose to establish schools in other States?
.- It is not proposed to establish any other schools. It is considered better policy to have one completely-equipped school and bring to it for instruction the military officers who desire to be taught aviation. It is also intended to associate with that school the teaching of naval avia tion, as it is considered more economical to have one school teaching both branches of the art than to have a number of schools scattered about. This proposal is to complete the existing school.
Days of Sitting - Expeditionary forces: Pay of Driver Mechanics: Broadmeadows Camp - Purchase of Horses.
. -I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
It may be necessary to-morrow to move, that the Senate adjourn until Monday. This will be done if the work in another place is sufficiently advanced. If not, we can adjourn until Tuesday. I hope to be in a position to made a definite statement on that point by lunch-time to-morrow. I understand that another place is going to sit on Saturday in the hope of completing the work on Monday, in which case it would be convenient for us to sit on Monday also. I trust that sufficient honorable senators will make it convenient to attend on that day.
– You do not propose to sit on Saturday?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [10.21]. - A question was answered in another place to-day regarding the visit of certain honorable senators to the Broadmeadows Camp last week, and the Minister’s explanation put the matter in the proper light, but the statement was made in the Argus that, after a long and dusty march, the men at the camp were kept waiting three-quarters of an hour for inspection by three senators. The reporter who made that statement ought to join the Kaiser’s information bureau. It is utterly unfounded. If any misapprehension or disappointment occurred with regard to the visit of three or four of us to the camp, it was entirely due to a misleading statement in the Argus of Thursday - the day we made the visit - that there was to be a visit of members of both Houses of Parliament. That statement had no foundation in fact, and no authority. It misled some of the officers to some extent. When we told the Minister that we were going out - Senator Newland, who has ason already at the front, Senator Long, who has a son in camp, Major McDougall, and myself - the Minister kindly said he would let the camp authorities know that we were coming, and they brought the troops in half-an-hour earlier than they usually do; consequently, instead of being detained for three-quarters of an hour after a long and dusty march, the men had really half-an-hour’s less drill on that occasion than they usually do. I put a question to the Minister this morning regarding certain members of the Force engaged as motor-driver mechanics being reduced in pay. The Minister, in reply, said this was not the case “so far as this Department is aware.” I do not know what that qualification means.
– It means that it was not the case so far as the central Department was aware. It might have occurred in some other district and not been brought under notice. We would not know of it unless specific information was obtained.
– I am speaking of my own State, and my information is most definite. The following advertisement appeared in the South Australian Advertiser of 6th September, 1914-
MILITARY FORCES OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
Two hundred (200) First-Class Driver Mechanics are required for motor lorries for supply and ammunition columns with the Expeditionary Forces. Pay, Privates, 8s. per diem, rations, clothing, necessaries,&c. N.C.O.’s proportionatelyhigher rates. Applications to reach D.A.A.G. District Head-quarters, Unley Barracks, Keswick, not later than Wednesday next, 9th inst. Applicants to state qualifications, whether married or single, age, address, next of kin.
H. Jess, Captain.
D.A.A.G. 4th Military District.
My information is that when these men came to Melbourne, not only were 50 per cent. of them reduced from 8s.to 6s., but they were told that they would not receive 6s. a day until the Expeditionary Force had embarked. As a result, they had to accept 5s. per day up till the time of the departure of that Force. The information which I hare at my disposal is very definite, and it is to the effect that over 50 per cent. of these menhave thus been reduced instead of only one, as stated by the Minister of Defence.
.- I should like the Minister to give me some information in connexion with the purchase of horses. I desire to know whether the Department is purchasing horses at the present time, and, if so, whether those purchases are being made by direct representatives of the Government or by private firms.
– In regard to the statement of Senator O’Loghlin, I can confirm what he has said in reference to a visit to the Broadmeadows Camp. As to the motor mechanics who were engaged in South Australia, and who have suffered a reduction in their pay, the only case which has come before the central authorities is that of the man to whom I have already made reference, and the explanation forthcoming was that which I gave here to-day.
– Were the men engaged in South Australia and sent over here?
– Apparently.I will, however, have inquiries made into Senator O’Loghlin’s further statement tonight. In reply to Senator McDougall. I wish to say that horses are purchased by the military officers themselves and not through the medium of agents. Horses may be bought from agents - indeed, they may be purchased from anybody who has horses for sale.
– Have the Government buyers other than their own military officers?
– No. But the Indian Government are purchasing a large number of horses in Australia, and they have buyers out who in many cases are purchasing through agents. The Defence Department has been asked by the Indian Government to give their representatives every assistance in its power, and, to do that we have placed many officers throughout the States at their disposal. So that very often action taken in connexion with purchases made for the Indian Government is taken by officers of the Defence Department.
– There are men buying horses who say that they are buying them for the Commonwealth Government, and who are getting them cheaper than they would otherwise be able to purchase them owing to the action of patriotic citizens.
– The only persons authorized to purchase horses for the Commonwealth are military officers of the Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 December 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19141210_SENATE_6_75/>.