6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Despatch to Turkey: Separation
Allowance: Misreport in Newspapers : Returned Soldiers : Enlistment of Members op Permanent Forces : Appointments to Third Expeditionary Force: Publication of Casualty List : Arrears of Payment : Purchases of Underclothing : German New Guinea.
– I ask leave to make a statement in regard to the Expeditionary Forces.
– I am glad to be able to announce that some days ago the
Government were informed that the bulk of the Australian Expeditionary Forces who were sent to Egypt had left that country for the Dardanelles. They were transported without any loss, and landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and have been in active fighting against the Turkish forces. The action has proceeded, and is proceeding, successfully. The Government received to-day through the Secretary of State for the Colonies the following cablegram : -
His Majesty’s Government desire me to offer you their warmest congratulations on the splendid gallantry and magnificent achievement of your contingent in the successful progress of the operations at the Dardanelles.
The Government, through the GovernorGeneral, have despatched to the Secretary of State for the Colonies the following reply:
The Government and people of Australia are deeply gratified to learn that their troops have won distinction in their first encounter with the enemy. We are confident that they will carry the King’s colours to further victory.
I may add that naturally, when that operation commenced, at the request of the War Office it was essential that no publication of such movement of troops should be allowed. I am aware that the prohibition has occasioned some inconvenience to the press, and, perhaps, to honorable members of Parliament, and also to the relatives and the friends of the Forces, but I think they will all realize now, when the whole of the facts are allowed to be made public, that it was done in the interests of the troops themselves, and that it- is essential that the strictest secrecy regarding movements of troops should be observed. I am glad, however, to be able to say, now that the transportation of the troops has been successfully carried out, that instructions have been issued that all news in possession of the press in regard to the operation may be published.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– Has the Minister of Defence considered the advisability of extending the payment of the separation allowance to the wives and families of members of the Australian Imperial Forces after they have left Australia?
– The Government have decided to continue the payment of the separation allowance to wives- and families of’ members of the Australian Imperial Forces after leaving Australia on active service. The rate will be 10s. per week for the wife and 2s. 6d. per week for each child under sixteen years of age, to commence from 1st May. I may add that up to the present time the practice has been that the separation allowance was only paid until the soldiers left Australia, whereupon it ceased. But it is now proposed to pay the allowance until the soldiers return to the Commonwealth.
– On the 19th April the following paragraph appeared in the Daily Telegraph published at Launceston : -
News has been received of the death in Egypt of Mr. Henry Killalea, the youngest son of the late Thomas Killalea, who resided for some time on King Island.
On making inquiries of the Secretary of Defence I find that there is absolutely no foundation for the statement contained in the paragraph, and I ask the Minister of Defence if he will communicate officially with the relatives of Henry Killalea, who was supposed to have died in Egypt, informing them that the statement is not true?
– Was he a member of an Expeditionary Force ?
– I have no knowledge of the case referred to, but I will have inquiries made, and if the Department has no knowledge of such death we will communicate with the relatives contradicting the statement. I may add that journals which publish false statements in regard to Expeditionary Forces are liable to a prosecution.
– I have already satisfied myself through the Secretary of Defence that there is no truth in the statement.
– I will see that information is conveyed to the relatives.
– I ask the Minister of Defence the following questions: -
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the questions, and may I suggest that he should give notice of them for Wednesday next?
– I prefer to give notice of the questions for to-morrow. The matter is urgent, and it will only cause trouble-
– Order ! The matter cannot be debated.
– T give notice for to-morrow.
– In view of the demobilization of certain defended ports that has lately taken place, will the Minister take into consideration the advisability of allowing a portion of the Permanent Forces of the ports to enlist for active service with the Expeditionary Force in connexion with the present war?
– That question ha3 been considered, and it has not been thought advisable to take the Permanent Forces away from the ports, but in view of the altered circumstances in regard to the naval position it might shortly com 3 up for reconsideration.
– In making the appointments to the Third Expeditionary Forces that will soon be leaving Australia, will the Minister of Defence give consideration to ribbon men, that is to say, those officers who have seen active service in South Africa, and who may apply for commissions? Will the Minister give these men that consideration which in many cases their long service in South Africa entitles them to ?
– The records of the Australian officers who have seen service in the South African war are available in the Department, and the applicants for commissions in the Expeditionary Force are upon a list. These applications are to be considered in the first place by the Selection Committee of the district to which they are attached. The recommendation of the Selection Committee is not final ; it goes on to the Commandant, who also takes into consideration those factors. Then again, the recommendation is sent forward by him to the Military Board, the members of which are also in possession of all the information, and from the Military Board the recommendation goes on to the Minister. In each nf these cases instructions are that past services are to be taken into consideration.
– You approve then that these men who have seen active service should have consideration, all things being equal ?
– The fact that the officer has seen active service is certainly taken into consideration, and 1 should expect that those responsible would give very close attention to the matter.
– Arising out if tha Ministerial statement in connexion with the operation of the Australian troops at the Dardanelles, I should like to ask the Minister whether arrangements have been made with regard to the publication of any casualty lists, with the object of relieving the anxiety of relatives of the men in the Expeditionary Force?
– That is a matter which has had attention, and the arrangements are these: - Prior to the publication of any casualty list, in the case of officers the Governor-General will convey the information through a suitable channel - generally a clergyman - to the relatives of the deceased officer. In the case of the rank and file this information will be conveyed by myself by means of a telegram, or if there is no telegraph station, by means of a special messenger, generally through a clergyman of the denomination to which the soldier belongs, so as to ensure that the first news of a casualty shall reach the relatives of a soldier. Until we are assured that the message has reached its destination no casualty lists will be published. When sufficient time has elapsed to enable these messages to reach the relatives of those concerned, the casualty lists will from time to time be made available. In case my reply may be misunderstood by the public, I should like to add that, up to the present time, with the exception of deaths due to sickness, the Government have not been advised of any casualties amongst our forces.
SenatorNEEDHAM asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister inform the Senate, if any of the wives or other dependants of members of the Australian Expeditionary Forces, at present in Egypt or in any of the camps in the Commonwealth, and who are entitled to a proportion of the soldier’s pay, have been fully paid up to date; and, if there arc any arrears of such payments, will lie state the number of persons affected and the States in which they reside?
– The answer is -
Queensland. - All paid except sonic cases where payment is held up owing to difficulty La tracing the allottee at the address furnished to the Department by tlie soldier.
New South Wales. - All paid up.
Victoria. - Information being obtained.
South Australia. - Information being obtained.
Western Australia. - Sixty-seven cases not paid owing to failure of allottees to forward documents and difficulty in finding allottees at addresses in possession of Department.
Tasmania. - Payment in five cases held up awaiting documents.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If any member of the Australian Expeditionary Forces who so far has not been supplied with the underclothing he is entitled to since enrolment, and which, owing to the advent of cold weather, he has been compelled to purchase for his own comfort, will be refunded the amount of money expended in the purchase of such garment or garments?
– The answer is-
The Department is not aware that any member of the Australian Imperial Force at Broadmcadows Camp has, so far, not been supplied with the underclothing to which he is entitled. Special instructions are given in Australian Imperial Force Orders to issue underclothing to all unallotted troops, as well as to members of the Australian Imperial Force units. If there are any such cases representations should be made by the person concerned to his commanding officer for consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has any explanation or denial been given to the following statement reported as being made by the ex-Governor of German New Guinea: - “ We did not entrench at T’oma. We just waited to see what was going to happen. In a few days they bombarded one of the seacoast places with 0-inch guns, firing sixty shots, in spite of the fact that the manager of the Forsythe Company, owners of one of the big plantations, had assured the Australian officers that the only inhabitants left in the place were a white woman with three children, plantation managers, and native workmen”?
– The answer is-
The ridge between Herbcrtshohe and Toina v.’us shelled for about one hour by the Encounter on the 14th September, 1914. The ridge in question was reported as being occupied by the enemy in some strength. Effect of shelling is stated to have been good. Colonel Watson, on the way to Toma, was met by a flag of truce from the Governor. The naval authorities know of no other shelling that took place in these operations except the above. There ii no information available respecting the statement attributed to the manager of the Forsythe Company.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a third time.
Maximum Age of Employment
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs yet in possession of the information I asked for last week regarding the regulation of the Department debarring men of a certain age from being employed on the east- west railway “
– I have received from the Department of Home Affairs the following communication: -
I desire to inform you that, under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, the Regulations provide as under -
Professional and General Divisions
Regulation 207. - The Commissioner may fix minimum and maximum ages for examination and appointment to any particular position in the Professional or General Division. Any determination of the Commissioner under this Regulation shall be notified in the Commonwealth Gazette.
Regulation 208. - Candidates for appoint ment to the Clerical Division must, on the day of the examination, be not less than fifteen nor more than twenty-one years of age at their last birthday, provided that successful candidates who have not attained the age of sixteen years shall not be eligible for appointment until they have attained thatage.
In calling for applications for certain positions in the Commonwealth railways, not under the Public Service Act, it was recently provided that applicants over thirty-five years of age who were not in the Commonwealth or State Public Service were not eligible for the particular positions to which the advertisement referred, as it was considered desirable to conform to what is understood to be the general railway practice not to commence training persons over that ago for permanent positions.
Applicants of any age who are already in the State or Commonwealth Public Service were regarded as being eligible for the appointments in question.
– That reply does not convey all the information I wish to get. I want to know if the Minister will endeavour to ascertain from the Home Affairs Department the positions to which those disabilities apply; whether it is to all men employed, including navvies, or whether it only applies to certain officers ?
– I will endeavour to get the information. This memorandum refers to all men applying for permanent positions.
– I do not know whether the Minister is quite clear as to what I want to know. I wish to know if those who are over the age of thirtyfive years are prevented from getting employment; such men, for instance, who will be required to look after horses or employed to assist the storekeeper, or even as assistant timekeeper. Are these officers included in the regulations which the Department has issued?
– I know of no bar upon men who may be applying for those positions, but I will have the matter verified by the Department and the answer returned to the Senate.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if, before calling for tenders for the construction of long-distance cars for the east-to-west railway, the Minister will take into consideration the fact that upon all up-to-date railways wooden cars have been discarded for steel cars, so as to minimize deaths from railway accidents?
– I shall gladly bring the honorable senator’s representations under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs, and he will get a reply to his question later.
The following paperswere presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911. - Copy of Award dated 8th April, 1915, made by Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration on plaint submitted by the Australian Letter Carriers’ Association ; together with Statement of Laws and Regulations of the Commonwealth with which, in the opinion of the President of the Court, the Award is not or may not be in accord.
Defence Act 1903-19.1.4. - Regulations amended, &c.
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 43.
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 44.
Dominions Royal Commission. - Minutes of Evidence taken in London in June and July, 1914;and Papers laid before the Commission.
Public Service Act 1902-1913.- Regulation- Statutory Rules 1915, No. 51 .
Synopsis of a Report upon the Business Branches of the Department of Defence, by Robert McC. Anderson, Esq.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 2594), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Ministerial statement read to the Senate by the Minister of Defence on 14th April, be printed.
– I should have been pleased not to speak on this motion, and probably would not have said anything if the debate had been confined to the matters dealt with in the paper tabled by the
Minister of Defence, but I desire briefly to refer to one or two of the other matters that have been introduced into the discussion. I exceedingly regret that the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition for a party truce was not accepted in the spirit in which it was offered to honorable senators on the other side. They have, unfortunately, seen fit to think that it was not offered in a genuine spirit. I can assure them that the offer was genuinely made, and is genuinely made at this juncture. Senator Lynch explained that the Labour party do not regard it as genuine, because opposition has been offered by our party to the Ministerial nominees at the by-elections for the other House. The Senate, however, must not forget that no truce has yet been arrived at. There is to-day no such thing as a political truce between the two parties.
– That is candid, anyhow.
– I always endeavour to be candid. Our offer of a truce has not been accepted by the honorable senator and those who say “ hear, hear,” to him.
– It was never offered.
– It has been, offered.
– Not by us.
-That is a truism.
– It has not been offered since the general elections; it was offered before.
– Senator Ready informed the Chamber that the offer of a political truce was made by his party at a time when they knew full well that it could not be availed of. They knew well enough that the easiest way out of the difficulty at the time was to carry the general election through. They also knew that it would be very difficult indeed to give effect to their suggestion.
– You would not have been here if the truce had been accepted.
– That is rather ungenerous. The fact remains that I am here, and while I am here I am going to have my little say. There is an old saying that possession is nine points of the law. If the offer of a truce made then was genuine, where has any obstacle been placed in the way of its acceptance ‘(
– You have no obstacle to place in the way.
– No; it is a case with the Ministerial party of a death-bed repentance. Honorable senators know the saying -
When the devil was sick the devil a saint would be,
When the devil was well the devil a saint was he.
– Your party must be on their death-beds.
– That is where the honorable senator’s party thought they were when they made this offer, but when returned to power they forgot all about it.
– We were returned to power to carry out a certain programme.
– The first motive behind the offer made by the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber was a whole-souled desire to help to carry the war to a successful issue. That is the first duty of this Parliament. We must help the Empire of which we are justly proud to form part.
– Is the prosecuting of the war the only thing we have to do ?
– That is the first thing that must be done.
– And we are doing it. .
– I shall show the honorable senator that we are not doing all that I think we could do. That question ought to be the first and foremost with this Parliament. But for it no political truce would be needed. If those on the Treasury bench are in a majority in Australia let them carry out their programme. I shall not object, although I shall raise my voice in opposition to any measure which I do not consider is in the best interests of the whole of the people. Outside of that I have no desire to offer any criticism of the proposals of any Government.
– The honorable senator is one of the five Liberal crows following the Labour plough.
– I fail to understand the honorable senator’s meaning. He may be able to explain it to me when I get him outside privately.
– Far too many interjections are being made. Honorable senators are aware that interjections are disorderly, and that Senator Shannon has the right to put his views before the Chamber without interruption.
– I thank you for your protection, but I do not mind interjections so long as they do not draw me too far from my subject.
– I wanted to convey the impression that the honorable senator and his party were not influencing Labour legislation at all, but were simply following Labour’s lead.
– I do not follow that interjection either. If the honorable senator exercises his privilege as an Irishman of speaking until he is understood, I think he will have to speak for a long time. I am sorry the offer of the Leader of the Opposition was not accepted in the spirit in which it was made. Honorable senators who have spoken to the question from the other side have adopted a standauddeliver attitude. They practically say, “ We are going to have what we want, no matter what you on the other side may say.” If that is the attitude to be adopted by the Government and their followers, I do not mind, so long as we and the public know it. We shall know exactly where we are. I am always ready to take my own part, and if I do not agree with the Government I can raise my voice against their proposals.
– Our policy is to carry out our promises.
– The n I am to understand that there is to be no political truce whatever, simply because the Labour party have a majority in both Houses, arid do not care a hang for the war or for us or anybody else, so long as they can carry out their programme? Very well, then, let the people of Australia know it. That is a stand-and-deliver attitude. It is the spirit of the highwayman; but is it the real patriotic spirit that ought to be shown at this juncture? Is it the spirit animating the people at a time when one cannot get half-a-dozen individuals anywhere in Australia to talk about anything but the war, with perhaps a word or two about the drought?
– And the cost of living.
– I shall have a few words to say to the Honorary Minister on that subject. I regret that Australia generally is suffering from the double affliction of the war and the drought. We have had a war with the elements which has given our legislators in the Federal and State Parliaments the very gravest concern. I do not wish to cast the slightest reflection on the Prime Minister for alluding to it as a little drought. Probably he was trying to produce in the minds of the people generally the feeling that the drought was not so severe as it really was.
– Just to buck them up.
– Probably the words were used by him in that sense, because I give him credit for knowing better. Unfortunately, the drought throughout Australia to-day is so severe that every other in our history pales into insignificance. When I reckon up its effects I have not the slightest doubt that it will take Australia at least ten years to recover from it. Probably by that time we shall have experienced another drought. I “ know that in Australia to-day there are a great many people who believe that >i’ is possible for meteorologists to make accurate weather forecasts for periods of from ten to fifty years ahead. But does it require a meteorologist to do that ? Yon , sir, who have had a considerable experience of Australia, know full well that one has merely to look at the history of this continent - and history has an unfortunate knack of repeating itself - to realize that at some period between 1922 and 1925 we shall be again visited by drought.
– We sincerely hope that the history of the last Senate election in. South Australia will not be repeated.
– I do not see any analogy between the two things.
– The honorable senator is not as bright to-day as he usually is.
– The interjections of my honorable friends are not so pertinent as they usually are. They merely strike the surface of one’s argument and glance off. Thev lack penetration. But I desire specially to address a few words to the younger members of this Chamber. I do not ask them to take particular notice of my statements, but I do urge them to indulge in a little research for themselves - to think for themselves
– And not to bo misled.
– And not to be misled. We all know that in 1902-3 we experienced a severe drought, and that the years 1912, 1913 and 1914 were also years of drought, or, at least, were years in which we lacked the normal rainfall. We may, therefore, conclude with reasonable certainty that droughts will recur at fairly regular intervals. Consequently it behoves the younger members of the Senate to take warning from our past experience, and to make provision to obviate the suffering which Australia will otherwise sustain when similar droughts again overtake it. There are only two ways in which such provision could be made. Water conservation is the prime necessity of this country, and it is incumbent upon us as legislators to make as much provision as possible for conserving the natural rainfall, because the quantity which goes to waste in normal years is ample to provide for the entire requirements of the Commonwealth in adverse years. It is our bounden duty, therefore, to go in for a system of water conservation by which we can be safeguarded against periodical droughts.
– This is a lecture which should be delivered in the State Parliament.
– But we can do something in the matter. I am glad to know that the Government propose to grant the sum of £1,000,000 towards the locking of the River Murray.
– But we cannot take the initiative; we can merely help.
– That is so. I am not a member of the South Australian Parliament, but probably my words will reach the Parliament of Western Australia through the medium of the honorable senator, and if so, my speech this afternoon will not have been in vain. I say that down the River Murray sufficient water annually runs to waste to prevent Australia from ever lacking a supply of this precious fluid if that waste were properly conserved. What is the other duty with which we are faced 1 Obviously it is that, like Joseph of old, we should store up sufficient in the years of plenty to tide us over the years of adversity. That is the only way in which we can guard against drought. I hope that the older members of this Chamber will endeavour to ‘give effect to some such policy, because ten years hence probably I shall not be here. During the course of his remarks on this motion, Senator Lynch called upon me to indorse his statement that the present Government are the true friends of the farmer, inasmuch as they have removed the duties upon fodder. If that simple act would brand them as the friends of the producer, I, as a farmer would say, “ Good luck to them.” But has the suspension of the fodder duties assisted any farmer in Australia even in the slightest degree? Certainly not I There is not a farmer who has benefited by the suspension of those duties to the extant of a brass farthing.
– That is sheer nonsense, because the suspension of the duties enabled the farmers in this State to be supplied with cheap imported seed wheat. It enabled the farmers to get their wheat ls. per bushel cheaper than they otherwise would have done.
– Only one shipment of wheat has been imported into Victoria-
– Are we responsible for that ?
– I have here a sample of the shipment of wheat which was imported into this State.
– -By a Liberal Government. The honorable senator ought to vote Labour after seeing that sample.
– I would vote Labour if Labour were right.
– Tell us about the sample. It is a fine illustration of the virtues of a Liberal Government.
– I do not call -t seed wheat. I asked for a fair sample of the wheat which was imported into Victoria
– And it is a disgrace, is it not?
– I also asked for a fair sample of Victorian wheat.
– Did the honorable senator ever know a Victorian Government to import wheat like that for seeding purposes? He ia on the wrong side - the side of bad wheat.
– I repeat that the farmers of Australia have not benefited by the suspension of the fodder duties. In the bad season like that through which we have just passed, those farmers who had given large orders for bags suddenly found that a 10 per cent, impost had been levied upon” all jute goods. Was not that helping the- farmer with a vengeance? As a matter of fact, the position to-day is that some farmers have not only had to pay an extra tax upon their bags, but have had to borrow the money with which to purchase them, and will also have to pay interest upon that borrowed money until next year before they will have an opportunity of filling those bags. Similarly we find that the farming community is being mulcted in a sum of £300,000 per annum by reason of the duties upon agricultural implements and machinery.
– On imported machinery, the rate is not high enough. Why do they not use Australian machinery ?
– Practically a third of a million pounds per annum :s a very severe impost to levy on the farmers of the Commonwealth in this co (1nexion. If there is any industry in our midst which ought to be fostered it is the producing industry. All possible restrictions should be removed from it, and every encouragement should be offered for its expansion. The one great word in Australia should be “Production.” That should be the foremost word of every Government; whether it be State or Commonwealth. If ‘ that ia the attitude of a paternal Government to the producing interests. I think that the farmers will say, “ Lord, save us from our friends.”
– Do you think that the farmers should be exempt from all war taxation ?
– I think that the farmers are more patriotic than you are.
– I speak as a farmer, and I think that the farmers are quite as patriotic as is the Minister.
– The farmers are not squealing.
– The Minister should hear the farmers squealing about the duty on bags. If the news has not reached the ears of the honorable senator, I may tell him that this morning I was informed that 3,000 odd farmers in South Australia are sending in a petition against the imposition of such an unjust duty as 10 per cent, on bags.
– That is not against British bags.
– Those are the only bags which the farmers can get.
– What about Dundee bags?
– Who is going to pay the price of Dundee bags? If the farmers are called upon to put wheat in such bags, the sooner we have bulk handling the better. Wheat bags are not made in Australia, and we cannot even grow the material to make them from. Senator O’Keefe wanted to know why Australia, having produced 50 per cent, more wheat last season that it did in 1902-3, the price should be so much higher to-day than it was then, and he suggested that there is a secret human agency at work to bring about such a result. I do not know why, as soon as a commodity gets a little scarce or begins to rise a little in price, honorable senators on the other side should always raise the cry that there is a ring, or combine, or trust in operation to bring about that result. I have a suspicion as to such honorable senators being truly honest in their remarks when they exhibit so much suspicion as they do. What is the position in reference to the wheat business in Australia to-day, compared with the position in 1903? It is well known that in 1903 we had an abnormally light crop, realizing only 12,378,068 bushels. We cannot get the whole of the figures for the last crop. The production in Victoria was estimated at 4,084,865 bushels, and the crop yielded 3,940,947 bushels. In South Australia the production was estimated at 4,664,761 bushels, and the crop yielded 3,527,428 bushels. In Western Australia tje crop was estimated to yield 3,272,330 bushels, and the crop yielded 2,700,000 bushels. In those three States alone there was a deficiency of 1,853,581 bushels in the yield. In New South Wales it was estimated that there would be a yield of 15,700,000 bushels, in Queensland 1,486,419 bushels, and in Tasmania 371,229 bushels, making a grand total of 17,557,648 bushels. Taking the figures for the three smaller States, where the crops were light, there is a deficiency of nearly 2,000,000 bushels. I shall be quite within the mark in saying that the yields in those States will fall 3,000,000 bushels below the estimated yields, and if they do, that will only give us a yield of 14,557,648 bushels from three States, which, added to the production of 10,168,375 bushels in the other States, will give a total yield of 24,726,023 bushels, whereas in 1902-3 the yield was only 12,378,068 bushels. That ‘is an “increase of 100 per rent. Yet we find that, whereas in those days wheat was only’ 5s. 6d. or 5s. 7d. a bushel in Australia, it is worth about 8s. a bushel to-day. For seed and flour, Australia requires approximately 37,000,000 bushels of wheat. As there is a deficit of about 12,300,000 bushels, and the carryover from last year was about 7,000,000 bushels, it will be seen that, to continue operations in the coming year, we require at least 5,300,000 bushels. In 1903 t:he yield was only a trifle over 12,000,000 bushels, and 9,114,490 bushels were imported. By whom - by the Governments of the States or by the Federal Government? No. By the trusts and combines - by the “exploiters” of the people whom Senator Lynch sometimes denounces with vitriolic vehemence. Those “ despoilers “ of the people brought that quantity of wheat into Australia at an average cost of 4s. lid. a bushel, and kept the price here on a fairly equal basis. The highest average price ruling in the European market in 1903 was 26s. 9d. a quarter, while the highest weekly average was 30s. 3d., or less than 4s. a bushel in the world’s market, when Australia raised only 12,000,000 bushels.
– What is the price of wheat in the world’s market now?
– I am sorry that Senator O’Keefe is not in his place, because lie desired to know, why wheat is so dear to-day in Australia, when it was so much cheaper in 1903, although we produced very much less wheat then. It is because the world’s market rules the price. What is the world’s price to-day? It is from 64s. to 66s. 6d. a quarter, or from 8s. to Ss. 4d. a bushel. We hear that wheat cannot be imported into Australia now at less than from 8s. 6d. to 9s. a bushel. It is- a very pertinent question for my honorable friend from Tasmania to ask why have not Australian merchants introduced wheat to-day. Because of the tinkering with the price by some of the State Ministries, they have been afraid to import, knowing that if they did, it could be commandeered at less than the cost price. It is for that reason that the merchants have refrained from introducing any wheat up to the present time. I do not know that any merchants will import under existing conditions, but wheat has to be imported by somebody to the extent of at least 5,300,000 bushels to meet the actual requirements of the Commonwealth, and there must always be a certain amount of carry-over. It may be said that at least 7,500,000 bushels will have to be imported, and there is a suggestion that the actual figures will fall very much below those which I have quoted. One State in Australia claimed that it was going to control the wheat business by fixing the price. I would not say so much about this matter, only that I think it ought to be an object lesson to honorable senators on the other side. I notice that the Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, has said that it is a striking illustration to show that the Federal Parliament can fix prices, but in my humble opinion it has had the very opposite effect. The commandeering of wheat by New South Wales at 5s. a bushel only helped to get over a very small difficulty. Had there been enough wheat in the Commonwealth to meet the whole of the Australian requirements at 5s. a bushel, mid had that price been fixed-
– Australia wants 22,000,000 bushels, and has 17,000,000 bushels. Suppose that you seize the 17,000,000 bushels at 5s. a bushel, and import 5,000,000 bushels at 7s. Would not that be better for the people, rather than that the price of the 22,000,000 bushels should go up to 7s.?
– That is not the way it works out.
– It has worked out in that way.
– In New South Wales the wheat was seized at 5s. a bushel, and to bring the same quantity to Australia to-day from the world’s market would cost 3s. 6d. a bushel more. In other words, enough wheat for the requirements of New South Wales would cost at least another 3s. 6d. a bushel. Wheat cannot be imported now at less than Ss. 6d. a bushel.
– Victoria is introducing wheat to-day at less than that price.
– At the beginning Victorians might have bought some wheat, but to-day they could not buy at that price. Had the Government of New South Wales possessed any statesmanship then, instead of trying to fis the price locally for a bit of wheat, they would have gone into the world’s market and bought wheat, and th© people of the State would be in a much better position to-day, or in three months’ time, than they could possibly be under the commandeering act. In South Australia the Liberal Government did buy wheat abroad, and it is coming in now. They were pretty early in the market, and got a quantity of wheat at about 6s. a bushel. It would have been much better, I repeat, had the Government of New South Wales gone into the world’s market and bought their requirements, instead of taking the wheat away from the farmers.
– And let the wheatowners ship the wheat away from the State.
– No. During last year a Royal Commission sat, and recommended to the various States that no wheat or flour should be shipped out of Australia. I am sorry that the recommendation was not taken notice of, because it emanated from three of the finest men in the Commonwealth, namely, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and Mr. Knibbs. The recommendation of those gentlemen ought to have been given effect to, because when they realized that there was a sufficient quantity of wheat and flour in Australia for the consumption of the people, it was a suicidal policy for any Government to allow wheat to be exported. It was really a case of starving our own people. But that does not get over the position of the State Government having seized a certain “quantity of wheat at 5s. a bushel. Considered from any stand-point you like, it was an act of legalized robbery, done, not for the benefit of the whole of the people of the State, but for the benefit of a section.
– When the State Government seized the wheat they gave 3d. a bushel more than the market price, which was 4s. 9d.
– Probably they did.
– Then where does the robbery come in ?
– Because the wheat was worth more directly afterwards. The one was a voluntary transaction, and the other was the attitude of a highwayman.
– A fine point.
– I am sorry the honorable senator cannot see the distinction between the two transactions - between that of a man who sells volun tarily, and the stand-and-deliver attitude I have referred to.
– The farmers would have sold all their wheat before the rise took place.
– On a rising market there is no farmer in Australia who could not hold his wheat.
– In the ordinary course of events 95 per cent, of the wheat would have passed out of the hands of the farmers before any rise took place
– I say that on a rising market there is not a farmer in Australia who could not afford ‘to “hold his wheat. It is a different thing when the market is falling. The commandeering of this wheat was like the action of Robin Hood, the greatest robber in English history.
– Does not the honorable senator know that the majority of wheatfarmers in Australia realize on their wheat as soon as it is available?
– I repeat that on a rising market there is not a farmer in Australia who would not hold his wheat.
– My experience is quite different to that quoted by the honorable senator, and in the same part of South Australia as he comes from. The farmers are always ready to sell their, wheat as promptly as possible.
– Yes, and before it is reaped. They sell on forward contracts.
– They do it because they are speculators, and that is a trait of Australian character. The action of the New South Wales Government in seizing the wheat prevented the farmers from obtaining the open-market price.
– And the people of New South Wales are to-day getting bread at about 2W. per 4-lb. loaf cheaper than in Victoria.
– And cheaper than South Australia, too.
– It is lOd. to ls. per 4-lb. loaf in some Darts of New South Wales.
– That is not correct. Application has been made for permission to raise prices.
– The Government of New South Wales commandeered the wheat at 5s. per bushel, and in order to maintain supplies they have now to go into the world’s markets, and pav 8s. 6d., so that, instead of New South Wales reaping a benefit, the burden has to be borne by the farmers who have been denied the opportunity of gettin? the market value for their product. As a matter of fact, they have been robbed of a certain percentage of their earnings, and a benefit has been conferred upon American farmers. Even if the merchants had made a profit over the wheat position in Australia, it would have been better than bringing about the present position, which has benefited the foreign producers of this product.
– But we cannot fix prices. We have not that power. We are seeking it.
– I know that the honorable senators want power to fix the prices.
– On a falling market as well as a rising market?
– We are prepared to consider that.
– It is a very simple matter for the Government to fix prices on a rising market, but if they are to be honest they ought also to fix the prices on a falling market as well, and this can only be done at the expense of the general taxpayer.
– You are putting up a fine case for the speculators.
– I am not a speculator at all. God forbid that I should stand in ray place in the Senate and put up a case for any one section of the people in Australia. Whenever you find J. W. S. standing upon the floor of the Senate and doing that, he will resign his seat.
– Is that for the future?
– Or in the past, either.
– You have had several “goes” in the past.
– I defy the honorable senator to put his finger on any action or speech of mine, either in this Parliament or in the Parliament of South Australia, the object of which was to benefit any particular section of the community.
– You are on the wrong side. Surely you are arguing against your own tenets.
– No, I am not; but I put it to the honorable senator who has interjected that if Parliament is to give the Government power to fix prices when they are ascending, as they are to-day, the Parliament should also give power to regulate prices when they are falling.
– They only want to regulate prices in a downward direction.
– I sincerely trust senators will give this great question very serious consideration before they ask the people of Australia to give the Government power to fix the prices when the effect of this course is as I have shown it to be.
– Who should have the power to fix prices’?
– It is in the hands of the Almighty.
– Yes; the almighty dollar.
– No. If it can be proved to me that there is any combine or trust in Australia working injuriously to the people of this country, honorable senators know full well that they will have, not only my voice, but my vote, in favour of controlling that monopoly.
– Well, we shall see what will happen to you when the referendum comes before us.
– If the honorable senator and members on that side will ask the people of Australia for only those powers which are required for the Federal Parliament of Australia, they will find me helping them; but they cannot expect my assistance when they are seeking powers far greater than are required.
– You are like Sir William Irvine - speaking one way and voting another.
– I am very sorry for the ignorance displayed by the honorable senator who has just interjected, because he cannot see the difference between asking for what we want and asking for a great deal more than we require.
– But Sir William Irvine said that there was no half-way house; that we must have all the power; and he added that, because the Labour party were in office, he would not give us this authority.
– I have given my reasons why I opposed the course suggested. If there are certain powers required for the restriction of combines that are working injuriously to the people of Australia, I will do everything in my power to help the Government to get them.
– But your party told the people of Tasmania that there were no trusts.
– Yes; but the honorable senator and his party have not been able to show that there are any trusts working injuriously to the people of Australia. There was the Sugar Trust or Combine, as it was called - the “ C.S.R.,” to which reference was so often made - but it was shown that it was not working injuriously to the people of this country.
– The Inter-State Commission stated it was. Have you read its last report?
– Yes ; and I cannot read into it the meaning attributed to it by the honorable senator, and I am too old now to go to school and learn what the English language means.
– But I am talking about the Inter-State Commission.
– If the English language does not mean what I think it does in the case of the Commission appointed to inquire into the Sugar Trust, then all that I can say is that Commissions are not worth the room that they occupy. The Sugar Commission was hawked all over Australia, and what was the result of the inquiries ?
– It said that there was a trust, and recommended the passage of legislation to control it.
– The honorable senator should read the report of the Commission again.
– No; you read the evidence. The president of the Sugar Company, in giving evidence, did not deny the fact that the company had given £50,000 to defeat the referenda proposals.
– The object of the referenda was “to destroy his business.
– Even if the business of the Sugar Company were nationalized, the people of Australia would not get their sugar any cheaper than today. That is shown in the recommendation of the Commission.
– No; it is not. The Commission advocated regulation of the prices and an alteration of the Constitution to obtain that object.
– The honorable senator ought to be ashamed of himself to make that statement. Then there was the so-called Beef Trust, which was another bogy.
– Yes; and that matter was investigated by a Judge.
– The report stated that there was no such thing as a Beef Trust. It has been shown that meat and wool in Australia have been at high level for the last ten or fifteen years, and that the upward tendency has been due to the extreme drought from which Australia has been sufferinsr for so long.
– There has been no drought in the Queensland cattle country, and in spite of that the meat went up.
– Yes; that was because meat supplies in Australia had become scarce.
– What is the cause of the enormous increase in the export trade ?
– Because by exporting they can get more for their meat than the southern States are prepared to pay them. I shall shortly direct the attention of honorable senators to a part of Australia to which Senator Newland referred in speaking on this motion. I commend the honorable senator for the way in which he brought the claims of that Federal Territory before the notice of the Senate. I have a few words to say upon the introduction of what is known as clause 31a into military contracts. At the present juncture, when Australia, as a part of the Empire, is engaged in a struggle which will yet be very severe, it is, in my opinion, unpatriotic to introduce a clause into military contracts which provides for a political spy-
– That is hardly fair.
– What would the honorable senator call him?
– I should certainlv not call a union officer a political spy.
– He is a protector of the weak.-
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - He is not to be permitted to go into the factories when work is going on at all.
– Why should he be allowed to go anywhere near the works at the present juncture 1
– Why should he not?
– In my view, it is not only unpatriotic, hut cowardly, on the part of the Government to introduce such a condition into military contracts at the present juncture, under cover of the patriotism of the manufacturers of Australia.
– The members of the South Australian Association were called blacklegs by the New South Wales Association because they yielded to the condition, and the South Australian Association has withdrawn from the Federal Association for that reason. The commercial men of South Australia are good unionists.
– That does not describe the position at all. The honorable senator is drawing a red herring across the trail. I personally admire the men who say that they will not have this system of espionage. If the condition be found to militate against the supply of military requirements, the Government will be well advised to hold their hands before enforcing it. It is not a question of preference to unionists. Clause 31a of the military contracts to which I refer makes provision, in my opinion, for a political spy. Senator Russell says that it makes provision for a protector of the weak. Honorable senators may describe the officer as they please, but he is to be permitted to go into factories at certain hours and make certain inquiries, and such an officer is taken exception to by every manufacturer in Australia.
– Every sweater objects to such a provision.
– I have not spoken to a single manufacturer upon the subject, but I repeat my statement that at the present juncture, under cover of the patriotism of the manufacturers of Australia, it is most unpatriotic on the part of the Government to enforce such a condition upon contractors.
– It is going on; the honorable senator need not worry.
– It is going on because my honorable friends have the power to enforce it.
– They have no power that is not derived from the people.
– The important question for the Honorary Minister to consider is whether the enforcement of such a condition is going to prevent or delay the manufacture of military supplies. If it has that effect the sooner clause 31a is removed from military contract during the Avar, the better it will be for the occupants of the Treasury benches.
– The officer is not to be allowed to enter a factory during working hours, but only during meal hours, and his visits will not interfere with the work of the factory in any shape or form. I advise the honorable senator to read the clause to which he objects.
– I know that very great exception is taken to it. I wish to say a word upon the proposed strategic railway. I have already commended Senator Newland for what he had to say on the subject. The honorable senator directed special attention to the fact that the Northern Territory is now Federal territory, and is not the property of any one State. If I can assist him in bringing home that fact to the minds of honorable senators, I .shall be satisfied with what I have had to say this afternoon. Are we doing all that we can to develop that Federal territory?
– Will the honorable senator not accept military advice as to the necessity for railways at the present stage ?
– No ; the honorable senator can only see a railway that will be of advantage to the State of South Australia.
– Here is another of these parochial parasites. The honorable senator cannot see beyond his own nose. He can see only Western Australia, which, I admit, is a big part of the Southern Hemisphere.
– We do not want any railways, strategic or otherwise, in Western Australia.
– The honorable senator desires that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway shall be completed.
– Western Australia desires that the Federal Government shall widen the gauge of the existing railway between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle.
– I am not speaking for South Australia, but because the Northern Territory was originally held by South Australia, men like Senator de Largie say that I am speaking for South Australia. Senator Newland tried to disabuse the minds of these senators of such a fallacy. I am not speaking for South Australia, but in support of the development of a Territory of the Commonwealth.
– And the carrying out of an agreement.
– The honorable senator appealed to patriotism in connexion with the trade unions, and I ask him whether, if a military authority advised that a strategic railway is essential, he would not put it before the South Australian railway.
– Is there any possible chance of the proposed strategic railway being constructed before the termin ation of the war.?
– I hope not, but I do not know.
– I sincerely hope there is not.
– It might be constructed before the conclusion of the war.
– Senator de Largie seems a little afraid, and I can give him some consolation by assuring him that the enemy is not going to come to Australia. He has been kept back from Calais, and will be kept out of Australia. There are certain forces that may be let loose to prevent any Germans coming to Australia. At any rate, the proposed strategic railway would not help us in the present crisis.
– The longer the start is delayed, the longer it will take to finish the railway.
– It is far better for Australia to put down lines of railway that will serve a real strategic purpose, and will at the same time develop territory belonging to the Commonwealth.
– It will take years to build those railways.
– I answer the honorable senator in his own coin, and say that the longer he delays starting them, the longer it will take to finish them.
– The same objection holds good in both cases.
– Is the Honorary Minister prepared to say that military advisers contend that the proposed strategic railway would be of any assist ance to us in the present crisis? It is not often that I make a prophecy, but I am prepared to-day to take up the role of a prophet, and I am pleased to say that the best authorities in the Old Country agree with me in the statement that when the present war is finished there will be no more German domination. The people of the great Empire of which we are proud to form a part are determined that when this war is finished there shall never be another such war as long as time shall last.
– That is a big order.
– The Empire has put its hand to the plough, and is determined to break the domination of the powerful and aggressive nation that has been preparing for the present war for so long.
– How will a strategic railway to Oodnadatta help in the present crisis? What would be the use of an army at the Macdonnell Ranges?
– The proposed strategic railway cannot be constructed in a day or in a month, and the present crisis will have passed long before it can be built. The prophecy I am prepared to make is that there will not be another great war for the next 100 years. The present war is a battle of Armageddon, and it behoves the people of this great Empire to see that it is fought to a finish. That being so, the strategic railway will not be required for another 100 years.
– Then we shall not want a strategic railway to the Macdonnell Ranges?
– I am not advocating that as a strategic railway, but as a railway to develop the country.
– It will not assist us in the present crisis to spend a few millions on a railway for South Australia.
– I am not speaking for South Australia, but for the development of a Territory which has become . Commonwealth property.
– When we come to deal with the locking of the River Murray, we shall have Victorian senators with all their war-paint on.
– I repeat that I am not speaking for South Australia.
No honorable senator will charge Senator Newland with speaking for South Australia in what he had to say on this subject the other day. Honorable senators are aware, as Senator O’Loghlin has reminded us, that an agreement was made, when the Northern Territory was handed over to the Commonwealth, that it should be linked up with the southern railway system.
– Is the honorable senator, as a patriot, prepared to enforce compliance with that agreement at the present time?
– I am not speaking on patriotic lines now, but urging the development of a Territory belonging to the Commonwealth. The Honorary Minister has not sufficient brains to be able to determine when I am speaking upon a Federal matter and when I am speaking on a patriotic matter.
– I understood that when the honorable senator was referring to clause 31a of the military contracts, he was making a patriotic address.
– I said that the proposed strategic line would not be required for the next 100 years, and I have finished with that matter. I wish now to impress upon honorable senators the solemn obligation resting upon this Parliament. We accepted responsibility for the control of a very large area of country, which is at present being allowed to lie idle because nothing is being done to develop it. South Australia had to bear the burden of the Northern Territory for fifty .years, and it was known as a “white elephant.” Does the Federal Parliament want to become a by -word and reproach bv letting it be known that they could do nothing more with this Territory than let it become the “ white elephant” of Australia? If honorable senators do not want that stigma to be cast on this Parliament, I ask them to rise above this pettifogging parochialism of Western Australia, or South Australia, or any other Australia, and to realize that we are Australians first. This Territory can certainly not be developed within its own borders. As was pointed out the other day, the best way to develop it is to carry out the contract under which it was handed over to the Commonwealth, and link “p the north and south immedi ately by a line of railway. It is objected that the line so far constructed does not pav, but that is no wonder when we remember that it ends in probably one of the driest spots on the face of the earth. Oodnadatta does not enjoy a rainfall of 5 inches per annum. Honorable senators who do not want to carry the line any further because it does not pay. ending where it does, are like a man who built a bridge into the middle of the stream dividing his land, and then said it was no use going any further with it because he did not get any produce from the other side. If the line is continued northward at least as far as the Macdonnell Ranges, I indorse Senator Newland’s opinion that it will become a paying concern and help us to develop the Territory, of which we are the custodians.
– Where would you get the money from to build this railway ?
– Where are the Government going to get the money from to build the strategic railway?
– That would be part of the war policy.
– The north-south line could be made not only a developmental’ but also a strategic line. If we carry out the north-south and eastwest lines we shall have two railways which will be at once developmental and strategic.
– The north-south railway would give the enemy a very good chance to come down.
– Then the honorable senator thinks the strategic railway would not do so? According to the honorable senator, the back-bone railway from north to south and the rib railway from east. to west would facilitate the approach of an enemy; but the suggested strategic line from Port Augusta to Brisbane would be one on which only our own forces could travel, and which the enemy could not use at all. If that is the honorable senator’s argument, it is a very silly state of mind for him to get into, and the sooner he disabuses himself of it the better it will be for him and Australia generally. I want to emphasize the fact that the Commonwealth accepted the responsibility for the Territory, and must not shirk it. Having accepted it, it is our bounden duty to do something with it or get rid of it. If the Commonwealth regrets the bargain it made with South
Australia, it had better ask South Australia to relieve it of the responsibility, and let the Territory revert to South Australia. If we are not prepared to do that, we must discharge the responsibility that rests on our shoulders. We cannot evade it. We must do what is best in the interests of the Territory, and the best way to develop it is immediately to link it up with the existing line running northward
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.40]. - I shall continue where my colleague left off with reference to the Northern Territory and the north-south railway. As he and Senator Newland have well put it, South Australia is not asking any favour in this matter. An agreement in black and white was entered into by the Commonwealth and South Australia with regard to the Northern Territory. In the four corners of that agreement a distinct arrangement was made that a railway line should be constructed by the Commonwealth connecting Oodnadatta with the existing line in the Territory, which at that time ran to Pine Creek.
– When are they going to construct it?
.- I do not suggest that at the present juncture, when all our resources are taken up by the war, we should enter immediately into any undertaking of the sort. But the first Commonwealth work of any importance that should be undertaken is the carrying out of the agreement to build the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I do not know sufficient about the proposal of the Government to build a strategic railway from Port Augusta to Brisbane to offer any comment with regard to it, but the north-south railway offers many advantages from a strategic point of view also. The Northern Territory is about the weakest point on the Australian coast so far as concerns the danger of invasion. There are no defences on our north coast, and we ought to take the earliest opportunity of establishing such means of communication as would enable us to send troops to defend it. The troops that would come from Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, and the greater part of Victoria would find the north-south line the quickest and most direct means of transportation to the Northern Territory, and when the line, which I believe is authorized, if not al ready begun, connecting Broken Hill with the main New South Wales railway system, is finished, which will probably be within not more than two or three years at the outside, the north-south line will be the easiest and quickest route by which to transfer New South Wales troops to Darwin. From “a strategic point of view, therefore, the north-south line is the best proposition yet put forward. It will also, as Senator Shannon points out, be a very useful developmental line. If the Territory had not been transferred to the Commonwealth three or four years ago, I believe that a railway from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges would be now in course of construction, if not already completed, by South Australia itself, because the Government of South Australia were so seized of the advantages offered by the line, and the absurdity of the present desert terminus, that they would have carried out the work themselves. However, the agreement exists, and ought honorably to be carried out. I am surprised that some of our Western Australian friends, who have got their own railway-
– lt is more yours than ours. You have 600 miles against 400.
.- We helped you to get it. and the understanding was that the two railways were part of one great scheme which the Commonwealth was going to undertake. As Senator de Largie knows, and as was well known to Sir John Forrest - who took what I must call an underhand course in opening up communication with Queensland behind the back of the member of his own Ministry who was responsible for the Northern Territory - when he was engineering and negotiating for the eastwest railway, he was very glad to get the assistance of South Australians, and we understood that we would have the same loyal assistance from the Western Australians in carrying out the other part of the contract.
– Do you say that the east-west railway was got by engineering?
.- I will not say there was any engineering so far as the support given by South Australia was concerned. South Australian members have always loyally supported it. Twenty- five years ago I was a member of a Ministry that entered into an agreement with Western Australia on the subject. Th9 two Governments were so satisfied of the necessity of constructing the east- west line, that they were prepared to agree to construct it themselves. It was only because Federation supervened soon after that the project was postponed, and the work regarded as a national undertaking. All we ask is that the agreement shall be carried out by both parties to it.
– And it is our own territory, too.
.- It will develop not any particular State but Commonwealth territory. I congratulate the Government on the very satisfactory position in which the Commonwealth finds itself in these times of extreme difficulty. I was very pleased to see the financial statement laid before another place by the Prime Minister, because I must admit that there was very great anxiety as to our financial position in view of the extreme stringency of the money market, and the situation created by the war. Before we adjourned over Christmas we were assured by Ministers that financial arrangements were completed to tide us over to the end of the financial year - 30th June next. We were aware that during the recess the sending away of our contingents, and making provision for additional contingents would involve a considerable increase of expenditure, and that some of the sources from which additional revenue was expected, particularly the probate duties and the land tax, had not come up to expectations. As a matter of fact, we have not received a penny from probate duties, nor are we likely to do so by the end of the financial year. I think the Treasurer could not have looked into that matter as carefully as we had a right to expect, or his estimate would not be so woefully astray.
– I suppose he calculated on the law of averages.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.I. think he calculated on the average amounts coming in from death duties extending over the Commonwealth, without considering that it would take some time before the estates would be realized and the. amounts made available. It is, however, satisfactory to know that the deficiency has occurred through our old pioneers being so tough that they are still outlasting the strenuous times through which we are passing, and living longer than the average. That is not a matter of which we have any reason to complain. Considerable anxiety was then felt as to how we would finance matters, seeing that the Estimates had not come up to expectations, and that we were obliged to incur a huge expenditure on account of the despatch and maintenance of the Australian troops who are now fighting in the cause of civilization at the front. I am very pleased to learn from the Ministerial statement that a further arrangement has been made which will dispel all cause for anxiety in this connexion, not only to the end of the financial, but to the end of the calendar, year. Under the arrangement which has been completed, the Commonwealth is to obtain a further loan of £6,500,000 from the Imperial Government for war purposes, and £3,500,000 to enable us to carry out public works which we have already undertaken. That is a very satisfactory statement to place before us. From the Budget delivered by the Prime Minister, prior to the adjournment of this Parliament in December last, I gathered that an arrangement had been concluded with the Imperial authorities for financing the States in the matter of their public works, and also for financing the Commonwealth in its war expenditure. We were expressly told that £18,000,000 was to be provided by the Imperial Government specifically for war purposes, and that another £18,000,000 was to be forthcoming to enable the wheels of industry to be kept going, and to permit of the States carrying on their public works. This course was rendered absolutely necessary by reason of the fact that it was impossible for the States to raise money on the London market at anything like the ordinary rate of interest. The position was made absolutely clear - so clear as to leave no room for misconception. Much to my surprise, however, I find that no less a person than the exPremier and Treasurer of South Australia has publicly stated within the past few days that the money which has been made available to finance the States is not being raised in the Commonwealth, but comes from the Imperial Government, and that the Commonwealth is merely an intermediary in the matter. Had the statement been made by an irresponsible person, I would not have taken any notice of it. But, seeing that it emanates from
Mr. Peake, who was Premier and Treasurer of South Australia at the time this financial arrangement was completed, it seems to me that it merits serious attention. That gentleman stated-
One of the fairy tales told by the Socialists during the recent campaign was that Mr. Fisher had financed the States by that £18,000,000 which was distributed about six months ago.
As a matter of fact, it was not distributed six months ago, but is in course of distribution now. But that is not material -
That, however, was not the case. The £18,000,000 were loaned to the States by the Home Government, and the Commonwealth was nothing more than an intermediary. It is British gold, and not Commonwealth paper, which we now use in order to carry on our works policy.
After reading that statement I took the trouble to write a letter to the press pointing out what was the real position, and buttressing my remarks with quotations from the Budget statement of the Prime Minister. But, notwithstanding my letter, Mr. Peake adheres to his position, and in a long communication published in the press has re-afiirmed that the £18,000,000 which the States are using is being advanced by the Imperial authorities. He even goes so far as to insinuate that there is only one sum of £18,000,000 being advanced altogether, and that the impression to the contrary is the result of a little bit of faking on Mr. Fisher’s part. In these circumstances I would like the Minister of Defence to make a definite pronouncement on the matter. I ask him to say in his reply whether the Imperial Government are supplying the sum of £18,000,000 which is being used by the States for public works purposes, and whether the Commonwealth is merely an intermediary in the matter, or whether that amount really represents a product of the Commonwealth note issue ? In my letter to the press I distinctly said that the States were being financed with the aid of what have been termed “ Fisher’s flimsies.” During the course of this debate an attempt has been made to show that the commandeering of wheat in New South Wales has had the effect of robbing the farmers. If the position in Australia was that the majority of the farmers were sellers of wheat and fodder, instead of being buyers, there might be some justification for the statement that they were being robbed. But I venture to say that for every one of the few fortunate farmers who are in a position to sell wheat and hay there are three who are compelled to buy those commodities.
– Then it is a case of farmer robbing farmer.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN. - Exactly. So that, although as the result of the seizure of wheat in New South Wales, and of its sale at a fair price, a little hardship may be imposed on the few farmers who are in a position to speculate, it is incontestable that a great benefit is conferred upon the large majority who have to buy both wheat and fodder.
– Is it not the honorable senator’s policy that a man should be entitled to the result of his labour?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Yes. A man is entitled to a fair thing. But I am considering the interests of the great majority of farmers rather than those of a few who desire to make a good thing out of the misfortune of their fellows. In the British Dominions, and throughout the States, it has been recognised by Labour Governments that some action was necessary to prevent the cornering of essential commodities at the present juncture. The United Kingdom is now being run as a great Socialistic institution.
– The Imperial authorities interfered in the case of sugar to the detriment of the public.
.-I repeat that the United Kingdom is now being run as a great Socialistic institution. The Imperial authorities have guaranteed the Bank of England in the issue of £100,000,000 worth of notes, they have also guaranteed the various discounting houses in connexion with bills drawn on Germany and Austria, some of which will never’ be paid.
– Now is the proper time for our opponents to say we are all Socialists.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.As a matter of fact, it is estimated that £150,000,000 will be lost by the Imperial authorities in connexion with guarantees given by them for the discounting of valueless paper. The British taxpayer will have to pay it. In regard to the Commonwealth taking over the products of factories, I would point out that the British Government have not only taken possession of most factories in the Old
Country, but they have appointed a Parliamentary Commission to see that proper rules are observed in connexion with their working, and that the interests alike of employes and consumers are protected. Clause 31a of our military contracts merely provides for what has been in existence in nearly all the big factories in South Australia for years. There are very few factory owners in that State who refuse the right of entry to union delegates for the purpose of interviewing the men during meal hours.
– Surely the men are their own masters in their own time.
– If a factory owner is to be given to understand that he has bought his employes, body and soul, even outside working hours, I say unhesitatingly that that employe is an absolute slave. One objection urged against this provision when it was first opposed was that there might be some trade secrets in connexion with the manufacture of any particular commodity, and that if a union delegate were admitted to a factory he might thus learn something which would be of advantage to a rival firm. I understand that under regulation 31a delegates are prevented from obtaining such information.
– They are only allowed to visit the portion of the factory where the employes are having their meals.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.If this regulation were not in force, and the representative of a union wished, during meal hours, to interview unionists engaged in any factory, the latter would merely be subjected to the inconvenience of going into the public streets to talk with their union delegates. What would be gained by that procedure?
– What is the object of these delegates in visiting factories at all?
.- As we recognise unionism, and as most factory owners affirm that they have nothing against unionism, we should offer facilities for union officials to communicate with those whom they represent. That is the object, and it seems to me to be a very fair one. Very often it would prevent trouble instead of, as our opponents seem to imagine, causing it. The honorable senator referred to the duties on bags and machinery. Although I under stand that the duty on bags is imposed with the view to encourage British manufacture - in other words, to promote trade within the Empire - still I shall want to hear much stronger reasons than I have heard before I shall be prepared to support the duty. With regard to machinery, when the duty was imposed there was an agreement placed in the Act that if th-i manufacturers of machines, particularly agricultural machines, had a Tariff wall erected by Parliament to secure to them the home market, they would have to fulfil certain conditions. They were to undertake, not only that the prices of machines to the farmers should not be increased, but that they should be reduced on a sliding scale over a period of two or three years. Further, the manufacturers were required to agree that the operatives in the factories should receive a fair wage, and enjoy fair conditions. I was a member of the Senate when the policy of new Protection was introduced. Manufacturers came to this building, and said to members of Parliament, “ Give us the home market; give us Protection which will enable us to get the total trade, and then we can afford to fulfil the conditions proposed; we can afford to reduce the prices of machines, and we are quite prepared to give standard wages and conditions.” The manufacturers got the Protection they desired on those conditions, but immediately afterwards the leading manufacturer, Mr. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Works, annealed to the High Court on the constitutionality of the legislation, and the appeal was upheld.
– With all the crowd behind him.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Yes. The position to-day is that, instead of the prices for machinery being reduced on a scale of £5 or £10 a year over a period, they have gone up on about the same scale until they are about 20 per cent, higher now than then. I put it to Senator Shannon that one of the things we want to secure at the next referendum is the power to introduce the new Protection, to see that not only shall the manufacturers be protected, but that the Protection shall extend to the consumer and the workman. Will the honorable senator help us in that direction ?
– Do not ask for more power than you want, and you will get it.
– If the honorable senator is sincere in his claim to promote the interests of the farmers, he will help us to secure that power from the electors, so that the manufacturers, notwithstanding the duty, shall be content with the increased Protection which will be given to them, and shall not raise the prices of their articles to the farmers, but rather shall reduce them. The policy of the Labour party is not to put fresh burdens on the farmers, but rather to relieve them of burdens which thoy already have. In Western Australia the Labour Government had to step in and start an implement factory, and I had the pleasure of being present afc the official opening last year. The factory, I may say, was in nae previously, because implements had been produced for the consumers, but it was found necessary to enlarge the works, and put up new buildings. I saw a good many farmers at the official opening, and the result of this enterprise by the State is that, whereas the price of harvesters used to range from £90 to £100, the State factory, so the farmers assured me, has been turning out a better article at a cost of 25 per cent. less.
– The same sized machine ? That is not the evidence in Western Australia.
-I understand that, as a result of the Government’s competition, the other manufacturers of implements have had to lower their prices; but whom have, the farmers to thank for the reduction? Not the private manufacturers, but Government enterprise, which, I am happy to say, brought down the price of farming implements to a more reasonable figure, I trust that the Minister, in his reply, will deal with the statement of the late Premier of South Australia. I again congratulate the Government on the very satisfactory position we are in, considering the difficulties with which we have to contend.
Debate (on motion by Senator Buzacott) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26th November, 1914 (vide page 1090), on motion by Senator Keating -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, it is desirable that, as early as practicable, a Con stitutional Convention should be summoned for the purpose of considering the need, substance, and form of any amendment or amendments of section 51 of the Constitution, and that such Convention shall -
General and the Governors of the several States, the draft of any amendment or amendments duly adopted by such Convention.
– To any one who reads this motion, and looks into the question at issue, it must be quite evident that Senator Keating is by no means proposing anything that is new. So far as I am able to understand the motion, the machinery ho proposes to create runs practically on all fours with existing legislation. If we substitute the word “ five “ for the word “ six,” and the word “ Convention “ for the word “ Senate,” we find the same machinery proposed to be created by Senator Keating as is employed in the law-making process at the present time. I should like to know wherein lies any improvement on the present machinery for altering the Constitution? Usually, Senator Keating is well worth listening to here, but I must confess that I never heard him speak to worse advantage than he did when he introduced this constitutional question to the Senate. He left his audience utterly in the dark as to what he was really aiming at. He did not enlighten the Senate as to the kind of questions in respect to which the public are likely to ask for an alteration of the Constitution. He did not try to outline anything which requires to be altered. He baldly proposed the creation of a Convention, and, in my opinion, he left the matter there without enlightening the Senate in the slightest degree. Seeing that the honorable senator has been a member of the Chamber since its inception, and that he is a lawyer who has had a considerable experience of the working of the Constitution, has exercised some responsibility in Governments, and has heard the restrictions in the Constitution debated from time to time, it certainly would have been right and proper if he had gone into the matter much more exhaustively than he did. I hope that in his reply he will attempt to enlighten the Senate as to what the Convention is intended to do if it is called into existence. I trust that we shall be informed as to the nature of the alterations which, in his opinion, are necessary to produce a proper-working machine. Every one in Australia nowadays, I think, admits that the Constitution is quite unfitted for Australian requirements. It is clearly recognised that the great promises which were made on its behalf have not been redeemed, and that, although we have a most democratic franchise, this Parliament is completely leg-ironed, and cannot possibly move in the direction which the people of the Commonwealth undoubtedly desire it to go. Our powers are confined within such narrow limits that if we step in the slightest degree over certain boundaries we find when our legislation is put into operation that it is so much waste paper. The High Court is invoked, and rules out the legislation, and we learn that the Constitution does not give us the power to do that which the people desire to be done. Viewing the matter from that stand-point, I consider that, when an honorable senator brings forward a proposal for altering the Constitution, it is only fair to the Senate that he should outline the powers which he wishes to be given to the Parliament. In other words, it is his duty to indicate clearly the lines on which he would propose to alter the Constitution, and the additional subjects on which he considers the Parliament should be empowered to legislate.
– A Convention suck as the honorable senator has outlined might reconstruct the whole edifice.
– We are entitled to information on all these matters.
– This is proposed to be limited to section 51 of the Constitution, which deals with our legislative powers.
– The honorable senator proposes to deal with the major proportion of the Constitution, and surely we are entitled to be enlightened as to the particular subjects which in his view there is a pressing necessity for the Parliament to be empowered to deal with. That information we have not received from the honorable senator, and consequently we are placed at a great disadvantage in discussing his motion. I am obliged, therefore, to view this matter from many stand-points. There is only one opinion as to the referenda questions. These questions were before the country on two separate occasions, and, so far as I am aware, Senator Keating said nothing to secure their indorsement in order that the powers of the Constitution could be enlarged. I am now at a loss to know whether he has been converted to the view of the Labour party, or whether he is still in the same old place that he occupied when the proposals were before the Senate on a former occasion. I want to know whether he has seen the folly of his ways and now wishes to turn a belated somersault, in view of the fact that the requirements of the Constitution are such that the people will not tolerate any further delay.
– Is the honorable senator aware that Senator Keating voted for the monopolies referendum in 1911?
-Yes, I am aware that Senator Keating, though he is not a member of the Labour party, is not of a conservative frame of mind; but I want to impress upon him the fact that up to the present he has not enlightened us in the slightest degree as to the manner in which he proposes to bring about these alterations of the Constitution. It appears to me that nothing can be gained by the adoption of the motion. Up to the present I have heard nothing in favour of this course, and I cannot see why we should be required to have another election.
– It would cost the Commonwealth from £80,000 to £90,000.
– Yes ; and Australia has had quite enough elections during the last two or three years.
– When we get the initiative and referendum we shall have a great many more.
– I dare say we shall.
– Then what are you complaining about?
– Under a reformed Constitution such as the honorable senator indicates, the Commonwealth elections will be on real live issues, which the people will be able to understand, because they will be clearly outlined on the ballot paper. If we were to be so foolish as to enter upon an election as suggested in Senator Keating’s motion, we would have to bear all the expense, without deriving any material benefit from it.
– There are many benefits to be discovered in the proposal.
– Perhaps Senator Bakhap will be able, to point them out, then.
– In a modest way, no doubt I will.
– Up to the present, at all events, those benefits have not been disclosed, but if Senator Bakhap is able to make out a better case for the adoption of the motion than Senator Keating did, I will give his remarks very close attention. I am quite satisfied there is nothing to be gained by the course outlined by Senator Keating, because there is nothing proposed in the motion which the Senate may not do if it chooses, according to section 128 of the Constitution. We have all the machinery available, so where is the necessity for this motion? And if we have an election, who is likely to be elected?
– Men outside this Chamber might be considered worthy of election to such a Convention. “Senator DE LARGIE. - It is practically certain that any election will be held on party lines.
– - I think it is probable that it would not be conducted on party lines.
– There is no such probability at all. It is practically certain that party lines would be observed in the election as they are observed on every other occasion. The people of Australia are now divided into two camps. We all remember that our opponents expressed the hope that the day would come when there rould be a straight-out fight between the Labour party and the party opposed to our side in politics. That day has come, and now we hear nothing about there being three elevens in the field. There are only two elevens in the field at present.
– There are not eleven on this side of the chamber.
– No, there is only the minority half of eleven. There is no doubt that an election for a Convention would be carried out on party lines, and we would have the same result as we had in the last Senate election. Senator Keating does not even enlighten us as to the method to be adopted for the proposed alteration- of the Constitution. He leaves all this to the imagination.
– It would take up too much time to explain the details. An Enabling Bill would settle that.
– If a motion is important enough to place on the businesspaper of the Senate, it is due to the Senate that the mover should give some idea as to the methods to be adopted.
– The Enabling Bill would settle the details, as was done prior to the establishment of the Convention that brought about Federation.
– By the time we got this Bill passed, and the Convention was elected to create the machinery, we would find that, instead ai having done something to bring about the pressing alterations of the Constitution which everybody recognises are needed, we had adopted a device for killing time to prevent a popular, virile movement from being accomplished. At present the sentiment behind the movement is irresistible.
– It has not sufficed to carry the proposal up to the present, though.
– We will have another opportunity, I hope, before long, and Senator Bakhap will find that the proposals will be adopted. If I were the framer of those proposals I would include some additions as well.
– Yes, and have them all defeated.
– When we put these proposals before the country again we will have something definite, but, according to the method proposed by Senator Keating, we would never reach finality. Surely Senator Bakhap does not think the proposals will be defeated again. I am not alone in believing that the people of Australia are ready to have this question submitted again to them.
At all events, they do not want any further debates in Parliament on the subject, and they do not want any more time-wasting devices. What they want is that the questions shall be put before them for their decision, so that they may be in a position to say yes or no.
– The original Convention did not do their work very slowly.
– Three Conventions were held, and my impression of the matter was that the work was very slow indeed. At that time there was one predominant party in politics, and one other party, the Labour party, was in its infancy. Since then, however, the latter party has reached maturity, and its members are able to make their voices heard in the affairs of this country. I do not intend to assist Senator Keating to pass this motion. At the last election the Labour party promised the people of Australia that if they were returned to power it would be their duty to re-submit the referenda questions at the earliest opportunity. The war intervened, and the circumstances are now such as to render alterations of the Constitution ever so much more a pressing necessity to-day than they were when the proposals were before the people on former occasions. Every Parliament in Australia has been obliged to pass emergency laws all on the same lines, more or less, as those upon which our referenda questions ran, and that fact, I take it, is the best possible proof of the wisdom of this course.
– Your referenda proposals seek to bring about uniformity in Australia, and experience has disclosed that that is unwise. For instance, is bread the same price all over Australia ?
– I would have prices fixed in accordance with the requirements of the people of Australia, and I think it is a fair thing to say that the price of wheat at any harvest is pretty well the same in every State.
– But your proposal will arbitrarily bring about uniformity. Do you want that?
– In ordinary circumstances, Ave have uniformity now in the price of wheat. The honorable senator will realize that if he will only think a little. It is only when such conditions as have been brought about by the war arise that fluctuations in prices occur as we have recently seen. The confusion has been aggravated by the fact that the Boards called into existence by the different State Governments have fixed varying prices,’ with the result that there is satisfaction in none of the States.
– That is a remarkable argument for giving the Commonwealth power to increase the dissatisfaction.
– I do not profess to furnish Senator Bakhap with the power to understand my arguments. I can only put them to him, and let them take their chance when they get into his grey matter. We have been told that the adoption of a proposal of this kind would shelve what was a burning question at the late elections. Does Senator Keating believe that it is likely to do anything of the kind ? ‘ I think I have provided the honorable senator with material sufficient to enable him to make a much more exhaustive address to the Senate in his reply to this debate than that which he made in submitting his motion. All that I can see in the motion is an attempt to slight the Parliament which was so recently elected by the people of Australia. The honorable senator may pretend to give a more generous franchise for the election of the proposed Convention than that which exists for the election of this Parliament. I do not see how he can do so. This Parliament is elected on probably the broadest franchise adopted in any country in the world. Every adult in Australia, whether rich or poor, has equal voting power in the election of members of this Parliament. Does the honorable senator, on the contrary, propose to restrict the popular will of Australia? I think it is fair to assume that there is something of that kind behind the motion, inasmuch as Senator Keating has made no mention of the method of voting for members of the Convention which is to be adopted. I am not going to assist the honorable senator to restrict the franchise in any shape or form. It seems to me that he proposes to use practically the existing machinery for the election of the Convention, and that if that be so, his motion has not even the merit of novelty. If honorable senators will look at section 128 of the Constitution, they will find that it provides that -
The proposed law for the alteration thereof must be passed by an actual majority of each
House of the Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six months after its passage through both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted in each State to the electors qualified to’ vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
We know how this section was outraged in very recent Australian history, and it is as well that we should call the fact to mind at the present juncture. The section continues -
But if either House passes any such proposed law by an absolute majority, and the other House rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with any amendment to which the firstmentioned House will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the first-mentioned House in the same or the next session again passes the proposed law by an absolute majority with or without any amendment which has been made or agreed to by the other House, and such other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, the Governor-General may submit .the proposed law as last proposed by the first-mentioned House, and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State qualified to vote for the elections of the House of Representatives.
When Senator Keating was introducing his motion, I think he was in duty bound to enlighten us as to what he proposed should follow, assuming that it is subjected to the same treatment as were the last Referenda Bills passed by the Senate. The Senate on that occasion was placed in the position of having to eat humble pie, and to play second fiddle to another place. I hold that this section was included in the Constitution to safeguard the interests of the Senate, and not merely to prevent the Senate bringing about a dead-lock with another place, and- frustrating the popular will as represented in another place. The section clearly provides that if either the House of Representatives or the Senate passes proposed alterations of the Constitution, those proposals shall go to the electors automatically, and that the electors, and the electors only, shall have the power to reject or accept them. But what was the course followed less than twelve months ago, when the Senate exercised its undoubted right to pass the Referenda Bills a second time? The Senate was ignored and its rights trampled upon, but Senator Keating did not on that occasion, any more than did any of his colleagues on the other side, say a word in defence of the rights of this Chamber. We have still the same GovernorGeneral in Australia as we had then. I held then, as I hold now, that there is no room for any difference of opinion in the interpretation of this section of the Constitution, and it was the duty of the Governor-General to send the’ proposals for the amendment of the Constitution to the electors of Australia. No other course was open to him.
– His advisers became responsible for his actions.
– Section 128 of the Constitution does not give his advisers any power or say in the matter.
– Yes; the section is permissive.
– It is not permissive.
– If the GovernorGeneral takes up a negative attitude, his responsible advisers assume responsibility on his behalf.
– On a question of a proposed alteration of the Constitution, the Governor-General is alone responsible. There cannot be two opinions upon the interpretation of this section of the Constitution. The bringing about of a double dissolution is a different thing altogether from the refusal to obey the behests of this Chamber, expressed in a constitutional manner, as they were during the last Federal Parliament. If the House of Representatives rejects Senator Keating’s motion after it has passed here, what will the honorable senator do? Is he prepared to again put the Senate in a humiliating position? Does he propose to amend section 128 of the Constitution? The honorable senator has not enlightened us on any of these matters, and I am therefore obliged to ask for information. After what I have said, it is unnecessary for me to inform honorable senators that I intend to vote against the motion. I can see no possible good that can be derived from it. I can see that if we agreed to the motion, it is probable that the Senate would receive another snub. What is more important, I can see that a very clever bit of side-stepping might be attempted under the motion to frustrate the popular will as expressed at the late Federal elections. I am not prepared *jO assist Senator Keating in that direction. The referenda proposals have already been too long delayed. If I could have had my way, the questions involved would have been submitted to the electors before now.
I should like to have seen them submitted to the electors during the recent adjournment. That course, however, was nob adopted, and it is our duty now to see that no further time is wasted before these proposals are pronounced upon by the electors Our proper course is to hasten on the referenda questions. As soon as they are submitted to the electors we shall have business done one way or the other.
– If they are again defeated will they be re-submitted to the electors a month or two afterwards?
– It is not necessary for any member of the Labour party to answer a question of that kind. The honorable senator is sufficiently familiar with the methods of political warfare followed hitherto by the Labour party to be aware that we are a party that never knows when it is beaten. We never say die. If we believe in a principle, that is sufficient reason for us to fight for it, and hang on to it until success crowns our efforts.
– Nil desperandum
– It is not a question of despair at all. Our motto is “ No surrender,” and there is a great difference between the two positions. There is no despair in our fight, but there is the opposite of despair in everything we have taken in hand so far. We began in a very modest way indeed. I remember the time, not so many years ago, when the thin, small voice of the Labour party used to be heard from the Opposition corner. The two forms in that corner were sufficient to hold the lot of us.
– It was not such a small voice.
– We numbered only eight in those days, and when noses were counted that was a very small number to stand up against the other twentyeight. Our party has grown simply because we were honest in the various questions that we propounded. We put before the country a policy that we felt sure would be acceptable. While the referenda questions have been twice rejected, that does not mean that they are going to be rejected in the future. If I were a betting man, which I am not, I should be prepared to bet that at the next time of asking they will be passed by a great majority. I am sure of that, and feel confident that even Senator Bakhap and his party will see the discretion of not being quite so hostile to the proposals as they were previously. Whatever their fate may be, I am not going to do anything whatever which would be likely to prevent their being put to the people at the earliest possible opportunity. If I were foolish enough to agree to this timekilling proposition of Senator Keating I should be justly and properly open to the charge of having done something to defeat the will of the electors. There is, therefore, no other course open to me but to vote against the motion, believing that ‘it is of no use to the people at the present time.
Debate (on the motion by Senator Ready), adjourned.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn, ill the hope that two Bills of a very important and urgent character, which I understand will be before another place to-night, may reach us to-morrow; but I can give no assurance that they will. The War Precautions Bill is still before the House of Representatives, and an amendment has been moved to it, which, if carried, will necessitate its consideration by this Chamber. I trust that we shall be . able to dispose of these matters tomorrow.
– Ou Friday last I dealt with the question of the promotion of Lieutenant Payne to the position of captain on the Administrative and Instructional Staff, and his appointment to take charge of the concentration camp at Claremont, Tasmania. Having to leave for Tasmania at 3 o’clock, I was not able to finish my remarks, and requested the Minister to forego his reply until I had done so. The Minister could not see his way clear to do this, and in my absence, as he was perfectly entitled to do, dealt with the arguments I had advanced regarding what I believed to be an injustice to the members of the Administrative and Instructional Staff. He also went out of his way to make a statement which is absolutely contrary to fact. He said I had threatened to make it uncomfortable for him during the present session - a statement that is as untrue as it is unworthy of the Minister. The only proof I can offer in support of my present contention is the history of my relations with the Minister during the past four years. I guarantee that if he cares to do me justice he will say that I have been one of his most loyal supporters and staunchest followers during the time that I have occupied a position in the Senate.
– Hear, hear; and I have never said anything different.
– The Minister said something quite different on Friday, which I say, without hesitation or qualification, was not true.
– I ask you, sir, if the honorable senator is in order in saying that a statement made by me was not true.
– I did not catch what the honorable senator said, as I was discussing a matter connected with the business of the Senate with the Clerk; but if the honorable -senator made a statement that something which any other honorable senator said was not true, meaning that the honorable senator said it knowing it to be untrue, he was distinctly out of order. It is out of order in any case for an honorable senator to make such a statement. He could say that what another honorable senator said was not in accordance with fact, or that the other honorable senator was making a mistake. If he insinuates that a Minister or other honorable senator has made a statement that is untrue, and implies that he knew it to be untrue, he is distinctly out of order. I therefore ask the honorable senator to take the ordinary parliamentary course of withdrawing the remark.
– I suppose I am bound by parliamentary procedure to do so, but I am perfectly justified in characterizing the Minister’s statement by an even stronger term. However, to bring myself into conformity with the rules of the Senate, I shall withdraw the remark, but shall hold my opinion all the same. Although I have been somewhat devoted to the Minister for a number of years, I assure him that I am not a hero worshiDper, and that if he or any other Minister does something which I think is not in accordance with justice, he can rely upon me being up against him. It is because I believe a grave injustice has been done to a number of very capable men in the permanent military service of the Commonwealth, that I have with great reluctanca brought this matter before the Senate. The Minister said it was too trivial to bring forward, and that I was ill-advised to make my protest here. How are men to get justice except through their parliamentary representative? Wo are told that a Military Board has been established to hear complaints from men in the Military Forces who are at all dissatisfied. These men receive very little consideration from the Military Board. These matters were placed before the Board, but only one individual, the Adjutant-General, gave them any attention, and the Minister referred this question to the very member of the Board - the Adjutant-General - who had previously expressed a very definite opinion upon the promotion of Captain Payne. The Minister, therefore, took the precaution, so to speak, of referring it from Csesar unto Caesar, thereby giving the courteous representations made by Lieutenant Tackaberry and Lieutenant Davis against supersession by an officer from the Militia Forces very little chance of receiving consideration. The Minister said I was not justified in bringing the matter before the Senate, but I want to hold him entirely responsible for my action.
– I do not know how far the honorable senator proposes to go in this matter, but standing order 413 says -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the same session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
If the honorable senator is going to debate over again the same matter that he debated on Friday, I shall have no other course under that standing order than to rule him out of order. The honorable senator is entitled by leave of the Senate to make a full explanation, but otherwise he cannot resume a debate which has been closed, as the debate on Friday was closed, by the Minister’s reply.
– I have no intention of repeating the arguments I used on Friday, but propose to introduce entirely new matter.
– The Minister made a reply.
– The President has already pointed put the fact, but I thank . the Minister for his extra advice. On the 22nd February, I wrote to the Minister of Defence pointing out that, in my opinion, an injustice had been done to these men by the appointment of Captain Payne to his position on the Administrative and Instructional Staff. I received no reply to that letter until the 8th April, six weeks afterwards, and then only after I had wired to the Minister asking him when I should receive the courtesy of a reply. In the circumstances, who is responsible for my having to trouble the Senate with the matter? In his reply, the Minister made a statement which is not supported by facts. In order to back up the contention of some of his officers that Lieutenant Tackaberry was doing very well, and was not entitled to promotion, the Minister pointed out that he had only four years’ service to his credit. According to the official file, Lieutenant Tackaberry had nine years’ service as a member of the Citizen Forces, two years’ active service in South Africa, five years as a non-commissioned officer, and four years as Lieutenant on the Administrative and Instructional Staff. Yet the Minister, in an official communication, sought to deprive him of the recognition to which his length of service entitled him, to say nothing of his very fine record in his examinations both for his lieutenancy and his captaincy. The other day the Minister went to no end of trouble to assure the Senate that this appointment was only of a temporary character. Senator Keating, by interjection, however, got down to the root of the whole trouble when he inquired -
Could not a permanent officer fill this position temporarily?
To which the Minister replied -
In that case, every one of our permanent officers would have to be moved up temporarily. Then, when the officers whose positions they were filling returned from the war, they would have to be moved down again.
Will not that happen in hundreds of instances? Are there not officers in Tasmania who have been moved up temporarily, and who will have to be moved down again when those whose places they are filling return from the war? All. I rim contending is that these officers whose qualifications cannot be disputed should have been afforded an opportunity of filling these positions temporarily. The Commandant of Tasmania stated that it would be better to put a little extra work on the staff than to bring another officer of the capacity of Captain Payne on to it. Captain Payne is not now on the Instruc tional Staff at the Claremont camp. He is not connected with that camp. For some reason, he has been removed to Devonport. What position does he occupy there? Lieutenant Davis has been promoted to the position of acting brigade major of the 91st Infantry, and Captain Payne, who is his senior in salary and rank, is his assistant, at £375 a year. Although he is performing work which any second lieutenant could perform, he is receiving a salary of £375 a year, or £75 per annum more than the officer to whom he is only assistant.
– Who is that?
– Captain Payne. Of course we have plenty of money to throw about. There has been an indecent haste exhibited to push this man along. I do not blame him for that. No man who has not ambition is worth his salt.
– The honorable senator does not imply that he is not fit for his position?
– Certainly not. I know nothing about him, and have never seen or spoken to Captain Payne. My complaint is that he has been put over men who are superior to him in length of service and qualifications. Captain Payne was offered the position at £250 a year, but would not accept it. Now the authorities have said to him, in effect, “All right; come in and take it at £375 a year.” It may be, as the Minister has attempted to prove, that there was urgency in making his appointment to the staff at the Claremont concentration camp, but is there any urgency to keep him at his present salary of £375 a year whilst he is discharging the duties that could be performed by a second lieutenant? Will the Minister attempt to justify that? Yet I am told that I have no right to bring the matter before the Senate; I ought to permit this sort of thing to go on. The Minister’s subordinates have only to submit recommendations to him in order to secure their confirmation. I have performed what I believe to be a duty cast upon me as one of the representatives of the people of Tasmania. I make the same claim as did Senator Shannon this afternoon. I do not care what class of the community is concerned ; I am here for the one purpose of seeing that justice is done. If it is not done I shall be up against the man who is responsible, whether he be the Minister of Defence or any other Minister. I do not wish to continue my remarks, because I do not suppose they will have any effect.
– They will only end in the honorable senator airing a grievance ?
– For the present, yes. But it will be a lasting grievance till the injustice has been remedied. A somewhat covert attempt in that direction has already been made by the removal of Captain Payne from a position that he was not capable of filling to a subordinate position under a lieutenant in another part of the island. Knowing that I am unable to convince this Labour Minister, whose function we thought it was to see that fair play was meted out to every section of the Military Forces, and realizing how impossible it is for him to take any action which will not harmonize with the wishes of some of his twopenny-halfpenny subordinates, I propose to leave the question where it stands for the present. But whenever any instance of a similar character is brought under my notice, I shall feel it my duty to bring it before the Senate. Whether my action gives the Minister offence or pleasure will not trouble me in the least, so long as I have the consolation of knowing that I have discharged my duty. It is not pleasant - it is not a labour of love - to be obliged to come into conflict with one of my own Ministers; but if one sees injustice done, and makes no effort to remedy it, he is not worthy of a place either in this or any other Parliament. Having done my duty, I will now leave the question, and Wil return the official papers to the Minister and his subordinates, with my blessing.
.- By the violence of his language, the honorable senator has shown that if I did not correctly reproduce the words he used towards me I made no mistake as to his attitude. I may have made a mistake as to his words. I regret his attitude.
– The Minister invited it.
– If the honorable senator will calmly look at the whole matter he will see that, putting the position at its very worst, it merely amounts to a difference of opinion between himself and myself. Ho thinks that, in taking certain action, I have done wrong.” It is quite likely that he is right. But, strange to say, I think that I have done right. We differ. Why that circumstance should be a reason for a repetition on every conceivable occasion of suggestions that I am unworthy to be a Labour Minister, Heaven only knows. I cannot appreciate the mind of a man who, because of a difference of opinion on a matter of judgment, continually pursues a subject as he does. The honorable senator brought this question forward to-day without notifying me of his intention to do so, and he has raised another phase of it for which he thinks I am responsible. It appears that Captain Payne has now been transferred from the Claremont camp to some other district in Tasmania. Will he accept my assurance that this is the first time I have heard of it?
– I do not think the Minister knows anything about it.
– Does the honorable senator imagine that I personally approve of the dispositions of all the staff through Australia? Does he not know that in the disposition of his staff the Commandant of each State has authority to place officers wherever he deems fit? In these cases we must have decentralization. If the Minister worked the whole twenty-four hours round he could not find time to approve of the dispositions of all the staff throughout the States. Except that, there is nothing new in what the honorable senator has said to-night.
– What about Tackaberry’s four years’ service?
– There the honorable senator is also labouring under a misapprehension. Lieutenant Tackaberry is now a permanent officer, and in referring to his service one naturally refers to his service as a permanent officer. His service is counted as extending over four years, because it is four years since he joined the Permanent Forces.
– Why did it take the Minister six weeks to reply to my inquiries ?
– If the honorable senator will spend a day with me at the barracks - even now, when things are somewhat slack - he will understand why. Some questions have taken even longer than that to answer, through no fault of mine. All I can say is that I am working to the limit of my personal capacity. That is my reply to the honorable senator. If I failed to answer his communication in less time than he thinks I ought to have occupied, let me assure him that it was owing to no wish to be discourteous to him or to anybody else. It was due to circumstances beyond my control. I regret that the honorable senator has taken up this attitude towards me merely because of a difference of opinion on a question of judgment. I feel that I have done right. The honorable senator thinks that I have done wrong. Surely we can agree to differ on that point. I can assure him that I have no personal feeling whatever against him. I feel that I. have done the right thing, but it is quite likely that I have done wrong. It would be wonderful, indeed, if a man did not frequently make mistakes in the rush of business. Whenever questions involving alleged mistakes are brought forward, I am quite prepared to look into them. But the honorable senator has taken up the attitude that I acted in the way that I did because of some motive. May I assure him that I do not know any one of the three officers concerned? I would not know them if I met them in the street to-morrow. To me they are officers of the Department - one of them a militia officer, and the other two permanent officers. I could not deal with their cases without having regard to the rights of permanent officers who aro senior to them.
– That question is not raised when only temporary appointments have to be considered.
– It is, because when we are going to fill a temporary position, the man who has a right to it - unless there be something against him - is the senior lieutenant. He has the first claim to be made a temporary captain, and neither of these men was a senior lieutenant.
– Both of them had passed their examination for a captaincy two years ago, and the Minister knows that.
– That is a thing which is constantly happening in the
Permanent Forces. That is to say, a lieutenant passes the examination for captain, and very often years elapse before there is a vacancy or a chance for promotion. Again, majors, pass the examination for lieutenant-colonel, and years pass before there is a chance for them to get promotion. The mere passing of an examination does nob give to an officer a right. If the honorable senator will look into the matter again, he will find that these are not the only lieutenants on the permanent list who have passed the examination for the rank of captain.
– They are not good freemasons. That is the trouble.
– Nor am I.
– I did not suggest that you were.
– If that is what is worrying the honorable senator, I can assure him that I have not had the mystic sign impressed upon my brow. I regret the temper and the tone which he has brought into the discussion of this matter. I do not think it is worthy of him, and I trust that, with my assurance that there is no feeling on my part, he will represent the matter in the ordinary way, and that is endeavour to get a rectification of what he believes to be a genuine grievance.
– You refused it, and you know that you did.
– The honorable senator has heard my. decision on that point. I think it is right; he thinks it is wrong; and let us agree to differ.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned’ at 6.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 April 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150429_senate_6_76/>.