6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Railway Fares: Soldiers’ Letters
– Has the Minister of Defence seen a statement in the press this morning that the Prime Minister has asked the State Government whether they are prepared to make concessions in the railway fares charged to members of the Expeditionary Forces, and that the Railway Commissioners have intimated that they are not prepared to move further until they are supplied with information as to what is really wanted? They are now awaiting the receipt of that information. They express a desire to meet the wishes of the Commonwealth when they know definitely what its wishes are, and conclude by saying that they decline to accept any blame for the delay in granting cheap fares. If the Minister has seen the paragraph, does he feel disposed to make a statement on the subject!
– I read the paragraph this morning with some surprise, because I gave an instruction that the Prime Minister, was to be asked to approach the State Governments on this matter some time ago, and I naturally concluded that all things necessary, bo far as the Department itself was concerned, had been done. On seeing the paragraph this morning, I cut it out at once, asked why the instruction had not been carried out, and directed that it should be attended to at once.
– Is the Minister of Defence able to give me any information regarding the matter I brought under his notice on the .motion for adjournment last night, as to the non-delivery of tetters addressed to soldiers in camp in Queensland, or is it too soon to make an inquiry ?
– I remind the honorable senator that it is necessary, not only for myself, but also for the officers of the Department, to 1 go to sleep occasionally. Since I had the pleasure of listening to the honorable senator I have been engaged in that restful occupation, but immediately I reached my office this morning I sent on at once the particulars -which he had supplied to me, and gave an instruction that inquiries were to be made. That, I remind the honorable senator, means that the papers have to be sent to Brisbane, where the camp is, and also that the information has to be sent to its Postmaster-General, with a request that .be will have inquiries made.
– I thank the Minister for being so prompt in regard to the matter. I appreciate his promptitude.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether a. statement which appears in the press this morning is correct. I was not in the Chamber last night when the statement was made, but it is to the effect that the young man MacArthur, referred to here recently, had qualified for a commission.
– The statement is correct. Mr. MacArthur was an acting sergeant, and had passed the examination -for the position of lieutenant. I might add, for the information of the honorable senator, that I made the further statement that the man Dunnington, who had “been recommended by the Selection Com- mil;T,ee, and was referred to by them as a second lieutenant, was not a lieutenant, and was not even in the Commonwealth Military Forces, nor had he enlisted in the Expeditionary Forces.
– Arising out of the reply, can the Minister tell me if’ Mr. MacArthur failed four times previously to get a commission?
– Mr. MacArthur did not .fail to get a commission, but he had applied for an . appointment to the Selection Committee, I understand, and- ‘ had been turned down by them.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate what is the policy of the Government in the matter of giving consideration to mail contractors who have experienced great difficulty in fulfilling their contracts owing to the high price of fodder ?
– A sum of money has been set aside to meet eases of that kind, and the policy of the Government is that each case shall be dealt with on its merits.
Cost or Fodder : Electoral Work
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are - ].. Yes.
Treatment of Pensioner
asked the Minis ter representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Willhe lay on the table of the Library all the papers in connexion with the complaint of the Deputy Commissioner of Invalid and Oldage Pensions, Perth, Western Australia, against Constable Campbell, of Wickepin, Western Australia, for having made alleged impertinent comment on the financial position of Old-age Pensioner Eli Francis Lethbridge, of Wickepin, Western Australia?
– The Deputy Commissioner of Pensions is being asked by wire to send the papers to Melbourne. When to hand, they will be laid on the table of the Library.
Financial Position - The War: Overseas Dominions : Proposed Loan : Cost of Transports : Comparisons between Australia and Canada - Expeditionary Forces : Musketry Training - Labour for Harvesting - Local Manufacture of Enemy-made Goods - Trade Movements : Sheepskins : Metals : German Influence - Development of Metal Industries - Colonel Pethebridge - Population : Land Monopoly and Land Taxation - Free Trade and Protection - Timber Contracts : Karri - Transport of Produce.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a first time.
I invite the attention of honorable senators to its first schedule, which will give them an indication of what the measure really means. In that schedule they will find that, with the exception of the sum of £3,096, the whole of the moneys ‘covered by this Bill have at various times been voted by Parliament. Consequently its legal effect will simply be to authorize the payment of that sum of £3,096.
– All the other money has been expended ?
– Yes, and the expenditure has been authorized by Parliament. Of course, it is highly unde sirable that Appropriation Bills should be brought forward even late in the financial year, and it is still more undesirable that they should ‘be brought forward after the financial year has closed. But I am sure that honorable senators will not lay any blame for this procedure at the door of the present Government. As a matter of fact, it is due to circumstances over which they had no control whatever. As honorable senators are aware, the general elections took place about the time when Parliament is usually engaged in discussing the Estimates, and the formation of a new Government, with the subsequent happenings, have prevented the possibility of Parliament dealing with the Estimates in the ordinary way. I think, however, that I should seize this opportunity to place on record certain information arising out of the last financial year which will prove of interest to honorable senators, and for that purpose I propose to read a’ statement. The total revenue received during the year was £22,364,264. This sum was £623,841 more than was received during the previous year, and £908,736 less than the estimate. The Customs and Excise revenue totalled £14,871,569, which was £610,569 in excess of the estimate. The Post and Telegraph revenue was £4,586,245, or £20,245 above the estimate. The unimproved land tax returned £1,953,388, which was £746,612 less than the estimate. I may say, by way of explanation, that this deficiency is due to the fact that when the estimate was made up it was anticipated that the increased receipts under the progressive land tax would be derived during the last financial year.
– What was that estimate ?
– I cannot say offhand. The figures I have given do not imply that the estimate would have proved wrong in a normal year. But it was wrongly based, because although theestimated amount of liability to taxation was fairly correct, the anticipation that the increased revenue would be received during the remaining months of the financial year was’ incorrect.
– Then it is an outstanding asset?
– In this year’s revenue then we shall receive both lastyear’s and the current year’s payments?’
– Not all of last year’s payments, but about £700,000 of them. Probate and succession duties yielded £39,450, and the estimate was £1,000,000. The same explanation applies to this item. There we have an asset which has been carried forward into the present financial year. Of course, the estimate in this case cannot be made with the same degree of certainty as it can be made in the case of the land tax. In addition to the revenue of £22,364,264, we received a war loan from the British Government of £14,100,000, and we issued Australian notes in aid of the revenue to the amount of £658,504. The total funds available, not including the surplus brought forward, amounted to £37,122,768, and the surplus brought forward from 1913-14 was £1,222,401, making a total of £38,345,169. On the expenditure side we expended the following : - Invalid and old-age pensions, £2,703,090, being £123,825 more than was expended during the previous year; maternity allowances, £694,233, being £19,333 in excess of the sum spent last year. On defence - ordinary services - the expenditure amounted to £2,997,802 as compared with £2,951,308 during the previous year.
– An excess or diminution ? .Senator PEARCE. - An excess of about £46,000. The war services cost us £15,106,182.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT Gould. - Up to the 30th June last?
– Yes. The estimated expenditure under this heading was £11,717,050.
– It was exceeded by about £5,000,000 ?
– No. By about £3,400,000.
– In other words, by about ‘40 per cent. ?
– Yes. The low estimate is due to the fact that no one could tell what number of troops we could raise. The result has far exceeded anticipations.
– No one could estimate the cost of transport.
– That is so.
– It is very satisfactory to find that we can send away so many more men than was anticipated.
– I agree with the honorable senator. When the first 20,000 men were sent from Australia very few people thought that we should be able to put 100,000 men in the field, as we now find we are able to do. The expenditure on new works out of revenue, omitting Fleet construction, amounted to £2,171,852, as compared with an expenditure for the previous year of £2,546,045. To recapitulate : the surplus brought forward from 1913-14 amounted to £1,202,401, and the revenue received during the year was £22,364,264, making a total of £23,586,665. The expenditure amounted to £38,345,169, leaving a deficit on the 30th June, 1915, of £14,758,504. This has been provided for by a loan from the British Government of £14,100,000, and by treasury bills in aid of revenue to the amount’ of £658,504, making a total of £14,758,504.
– The honorable’ senator has used the term “treasury bills,” but, in giving the same figures previously, he referred to “Australian notes.”
– The honorable senator will remember that we took authority to raise treasury bills which were purchased by the notes. Had it not been for the special war expenditure we should have closed the financial year with an accumulated surplus of £347,678. The total loan expenditure, excluding the amount of £658,504, paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, amounted to £2,136,811. The total note issue on the 30th June, 1915, was approximately £32,000,000. I should like to point out that when the Budget was presented it was estimated that we should require from the Australian Notes Fund in aid of revenue practically £2,588,314, but the amount that was actually required, as I have already stated, was only £658,504…
.-How much of the £10,000,000 that was to be lent by the banks has so far been received ?
– I understand that we have so far received £4,000,000 from the banks. In view of all the circumstances, I think we ‘ can say that this balance-sheet, though not as satisfactory as we should like, is as* good as could have been expected. In view of the unforeseen circumstances, ‘ the disturbing effect of the war upon the revenues of all countries, and the effect here also of a drought, which, in the case of some of the States, was quite unprecedented, we may congratulate ourselves that at the end of the financial year our position was no worse than is indicated by the figures I have given. In due time, and as early as possible, the Prime Minister will make his Budget speech, in which he will outline the position for the current financial year.
– When may we expect that Budget speech?
– We cannot at present fix the date.
-ait. - Is it likely that we shall have the Budget before the proposed adjournment ?
– I do not think that that is at all possible.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that no statement of the finances will be made by the Prime Minister before the proposed adjournment?
– It is possible that the Prime Minister will make a financial statement, but I do not think he will be in a position to present his Budget.
– I was referring to a financial statement.
– What will be done will probably be that when the Government are asking Parliament for Supply the Prime Minister will, so far as he can, give an estimate of the revenue and expenditure for the current year. There .is one matter on which I consider it my duty, at this juncture, to inform the Senate as to the intentions of the Government. We have received from the Imperial Government a request, which I .understand has been made to the Governments of all the overseas Dominions, that we should endeavour during the coming’ year, as far as possible, to finance ourselves. That’ is easily stated, but I do not think that there are a great many people in Australia who quite realize what it involves. I believe I may say that since the inception of selfgovernment in Australia there never has been a year when the Colonies before, or the States since Federation, have financed themselves.
– Does this mean Australian expenditure as a whole, and irrespective of war expenditure?
– We take it to mean everything. There are, of course, certain obligations which the Imperial Government has entered into with the Commonwealth Government, and which we have entered into with the States. Those obligations will be carried out, and, sn far as loan expenditure is concerned, they will provide for the States up to the end of November.
– That means about £1,500,000 per month
– Yes; about that. The Government and Parliament will have to face the position indicated by the request of the Imperial Government. It is an uncharted sea to a certain extent, since we cannot say definitely what Australia can do. We all have unbounded faith in the resources of the Commonwealth, and this will be a test of those resources. We are going to be tested, not merely as to our ability to fight for the Empire, but as to our ability to find the sinews of war. That is a great and serious responsibility.
– Does the hint also apply to State borrowing ?
– I take it that it applies to borrowing by the States, as well as by the Commonwealth; that is to say, that if will not be possible for either the Common weallth or State Government to borrow in Great Britain during the current financial year. The Commonwealth Government intend to submit proposals for a loan. . It will be a war loan for £20,000,000. It is proposed to put the loan on the market iii four instalments. The Government are acting upon the best available advice in Australia. The Prime Minister convened a conference of the leading banking authorities in the Commonwealth. He consulted them and sought the best financial advice he could’ get to insure their complete co-operation, and to be informed as to the most effective way to float the loan and the termson which it should be floated. It is proposed that the loan shall be issued at par, and shall bear interest at 4 percent. ; that the inscribed stock shall be of £100 denomination, and that bonds; shall be made available for an amount as low as £10.
– Onn of the papers stated they were to be £10. Will the denomination vary?
– It will be in multiples of £10.
– And the time for repayment?
– Ten years. It might happen that when the first loan is put on the market more than is required will be subscribed. If so, it will, of course, be accepted, because it will not be a limited loan. Arrangements are being made which, I feel sure, will insure the successful flotation of the first instalment. We axe regarding this as a war loan, and, as such, it should be remembered that three-quarters of the money will be expended in Australia, on Australian material supplied by Australian people. Therefore, by placing the loan in instalments, when the first loan has been received’ and expended, that money will still be in Australia for investment. It -will not have left the Commonwealth, but will go back and circulate in the community, with the result that the Commonwealth will be in almost as good a position to place the second issue of the loan as it was to place the first issue.
– The honorable senator must not carry the argument too far.
– I know that. Our resources will be weakened to the extent that the money is spent outside the Commonwealth, because as we are not borrowing abroad we sn;11 1 not be able to bring in a great deal of money by that means. It is, I think, a satisfactory feature - if anything can be satisfactory in Connexion with war expenditure - that so much of it will be spent in Australia. Take the question of equipment; practically the whole of it is being made in Australia to-day. Then there is the payment to the troops, almost the whole of which remains in Australia, because, when the soldiers are away they draw only Is. per day, the remainder be-ins; allocated to the relatives, or kept back as deferred pay. In the case of officers also, a great many have allocated a considerable part of their pay to relatives in Australia.
– Does a soldier only get Is. a day when away from Australia? ‘Senator PEARCE. - Yes, if it is so allocated.
– It. is a pity we cannot limit the officers in the same way.
– I “ have already stated that the officers are allocating part of their pay to relatives in Australia. As a matter of fact, I do not see how they could very well expend money in Gallipoli.
– They could spend it in Egypt, and they wanted it then, because they were sending to Australia for money.
– A different currency is employed there.
– Yes. I am only mentioning the matter to show that the greater part of the war expenditure is being retained in Australia, and as this loan will be devoted to war expenditure, the money will still be in the Commonwealth and available for investment. A great leakage in this respect will be due to transports which go oversea. Many of them are hired overseas, and, of course, are a very heavy source of expenditure, so that a great deal of money will have to go out on that account.
– But there are a. good many Australian transports, are there not?
– Yes; we must not lose sight of the fact, however, that during the last financial year the transports returned nearly a quarter of a million pounds in revenue, and I think that during the current year the income on this account will probably be over halfami 111On. We must recognise, of course, that till that will not be profit; but it will * be profit in the sense that in any case the ships would have been sent away, so in that respect there will be an’ income as a set-off on the’ expenditure account.
– What proportion will that be to the cost of the transports ?
– Speaking from memory, the estimate for last year for transports was in the neighbourhood of” £2,000,000, and the revenue would, therefore, be about 12J per cent. I think that revenue will increase as we get better organized for dealing with freights. We have suffered in this matter just as the shipping companies must have suffered at the outset of the war, but as we are now’ getting into regular running, we are able to take shipping contracts and freightage in a better way than at the inception of the war. Senator Maughan. - Will that income from freights go into the Consolidated Revenue or into a Suspense Account?
– It will go into the revenue as a set-off against the expenditure. Coming back to the loan, I may say that we are advised of the legal position of this stock, that it will be free of State income tax, and we propose to make it free also of Commonwealth income tax. There is one important question, the investment of trust funds, which is now the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth and the States, and we hope to arrive at a satisf actory solution of that at an early date. I thought it advisable that the Senate should be placed in possession of these facts with regard to the loan, because it undoubtedly will be a principal feature of our financial arrangements during the coming year. We all hope and believe that the optimism we entertain with regard to it will be justified by the results, for we must remember that if Australia can finance this war, or its share of the war, it will thereby assist the Mother Country just as truly as by sending men to the front, because, undoubtedly, the financial strain on the Mother Country is a very serious one. Incidentally I may say that there have been comments on the part Australia has been able to play in this war as compared with other Dominions and the Mother Country. A comparison has been made with regard to numbers sent away, but honorable senators should remember that whereas it costs us probably in the neighbourhood of a couple of hundred pounds - taking that as a unit - to deal with an individual soldier and place him in the field so many thousand miles away, it costs the United Kingdom, I should think, not more than £50, because the Mother Country is close to the seat of war. Canada also is in somewhat the same position as the United Kingdom, but New Zealand is in the same position as Australia. It is most unfair, . therefore, merely to make a comparison between Australia and Canada, but even if a comparison were made of numbers, Australia does not suffer with any other Dominion of the Empire. As I said before, we cannot leave this financial question out of consideration if any comparison is to be made concerning the part Australia is playing in connexion with the war. I have much pleasure in. submitting the motion.
– There will be a general assent to the Minister’s financial statement. In view of all the circumstances, some of them of tremendous magnitude, it cannot be regarded as disappointing, but there are certain features of it which make it impossible for me to attempt with any seriousness to analyze the figures. The measure of revenue received is not to be judged by comparison with the figures of the previous year, because additional taxation has been imposed, and before any one could undertake anything like an analysis of the figures it would be necessary to divide them in order to ascertain to what extent the revenue has been inflated or maintained by additional taxation.
– But the increased taxation is comparatively insignificant.
– Additional taxes have been imposed in the Customs Department which may always be accepted as an indication of the commercial activity of the community. That is one of the features rendering it inadvisable for me to attempt to analyze the figures now. I say that because I want to make our inability to enter into a thorough discussion of the financial position on this Appropriation Bill, enlightened as we are by the Minister’s statement, the basis of a special appeal to him to make a little more liberal grant of time to honorable senators to consider it after we receive the new Supply Bill. We can sympathize with the pressure on the Government in bringing forward these measures, because the position and outlook’ are not normal, but we have made strong appeals before for a full opportunity to take our active part in the control of the finances, and should be afforded a more ample opportunity than we have had hitherto to consider the financial position when that Supply Bill comes up. The financial position consequent upon the war is undoubtedly serious. I do not say it is alarming, but the difficulties are there, they are grave, and the gravity is not lessened by the fact that the suggestion that Australia should proceed now to finance itself comes from the Imperial authorities. I have been rather surprised that they have not indicated before that one direction in which we can help them will be by helping ourselves financially. The fact that they have made the suggestion now indicates that, even if the immediate strain is not unduly oppressive, they look forward to the time when it will be wise for the financial burden to be distributed, a3 the military burden is now, over the various branches of the Empire. I have two suggestions to make to the Minister regarding the loan proposal. I am not quarrelling with the rate of 4£ per cent., but it is intended, from what has appeared in the press, to issue the loan not as a whole, but nominally in £5,000,000 instalments, and if more than £5,000,000 is offered the Government will take advantage of and use it. The Imperial authorities in issuing their recent loan gave those who applied first a guarantee that if later on loans were floated at a higher rate of interest, that higher rate would be made to. apply to the initial loan also. I suggest the same course here. The advantage is this. . If we ask first for £5,000,000, and men with money are under the impression that interest will harden as the war goes on, they may be disposed to hold back their offerings m the belief that it will be necessary for the Government to fix a higher rate of interest on subsequent instalments. It is for the Government and their financial advisers to judge whether it would not improve the prospects of the loan to intimate when fixing the rate of interest that if circumstances compel the payment of a higher rate on later instalments, those who come in first will be placed on the same footing as those who come in last as regards interest. The other suggestion relates to the question of bonds. I was glad to receive the Minister’s assurance that they will be issued, not only at a face value of £10. but in multiples of £10.
– Any amount you want to take up.
– If I wanted to . obtain £100 worth of bonds I would not want to take ten of £10 each.
– You would get a £100 bond.
– That is the point I want to clear up, because the papers said that bonds were to be issued of a denomination of £10, and inscribed stock of .a denomination of £100.
– That was the minimum of each.
– The inscribed stock will possibly be only in amounts of £100.
– And multiples of £100.
– I should think not. If I wanted to invest £1,000 in inscribed stock I should expect to get ten certificates of £100 each, and not one of £1,000. On the other hand, there is no reason why bonds should be limited to £10, because they are transferable like a bank note. It is not desirable to confine the bonds to the £10 denomination.
– Do you think they should be lower than £10 ?
– I do not know that there would be much advantage in that. The difference between the interest on this loan and the Savings Bank interest is so slight on small amounts that it would probably be to the advantage of a man with £5 to invest to deposit it in the Savings Bank; with the additional advantage of being able to withdraw it at any moment. Considering the circumstances of this country, £.10 is a reasonably low minimum, but I suppose no one would object if the Government decided to make it lower. Five pounds in England corresponds with about £10 here, because both the amount of currency which people handle here and their position generally, measured by financial figures, are superior to those of people at Home.
The Minister, in reply to my question as to the earnings from shipping, said they went to reduce the expenditure. In a later reply to an honorable senator on his own side, he said the amounts were paid into the Consolidated Revenue. If so, it will be interesting to know whether they form portion of the revenue of £22,364,000 to which he referred.
– Every amount received by the Treasurer is paid into revenue.
– If that is so, instead of a revenue of £22,364,000, leaving out the war figures, it is -really three-quarters of a million worse than that. Because the amount which is now included, according to the statement, as being consolidated revenue, in my judgment, is quite inaccurately there. It ought not to be there as an addition to the Consolidated Revenue, but as a partial set off against the extraordinary expenditure. It makes these figures therefore three-quarters of a million less comforting than they otherwise would be.
– Does it make any real difference?
– I think it does.
– If we had not had the war we would not have expended the £2,000,000 on transports. Certainly we would not have received the revenue of £200,000.
– I remind the Minister that so far the Government have been paying for the war out of a British loan.
– Where would you put the item?
– As a reduction of the total expenditure.
– You put the whole war expenditure against the revenue and make up the deficit by a loan.
– It is a misleading factor. When we have engaged the transports in connexion with the war, borrowed the money to pay for them, and are able in carrying on the transport service to earn something, it ought to be put down as a reduction of the war expenditure, and not as an addition to the Consolidated Revenue. It is quite an- extraordinary receipt. The fact that these figures show that the Department recognise that the expenditure on the war is extraordinary because they keep the figures separately, is a further confirmation of my statement that the sum of three-quarters of a million being also connected with the war, and an extraordinary receipt ought to be treated in the same way.
– It is not threequarters of a million, but a little over n quarter of a million. £235,000 was tho total revenue of the Defence Department, and £30,000 was received from other sources
– I see now that i he amount is much less than I said it was, and it does necessarily minimize the seriousness of the position. It is -a variation of the amount, but the principle is there. The interjection of Senator O’Loghlin discloses what to my mind is a fatal tendency on the part of some persons to disregard the teachings and the necessities of a proper system of accountancy.
Leaving those figures for the time being, .is I hope to have an opportunity of dealing with them on the Supply Bill, I desire to invite the attention of the Minister of Defence and the Senate to a few matters connected with the war. First, I deem it my duty to refer to the position of the men in camp as regards the rifle training they are receiving. It is disclosing no information, because it is known to everybody, to say that to-day the reinforcements in the camp and going to the front are quite insufficiently trained in the use of the rifle. It is alleged that some men have gone to the front without ever having put a rifle to their shoulder.
– That statement is absolutely incorrect. Some men may have gone to Egypt, but not to the front.
– I withdraw the phrase “to the front” if the Minister attaches to it a meaning which I did not intend, because I wish to deal with this training of the men in Australia. It is alleged that men are leaving Australia who have never had a rifle to their shoulder.
– Not now. Senator MILLEN. - Men have not only been sent forward in certain units, but there is a practice which is quite indefensible, though perhaps excusable as an expedient, and that is that when a unit, is about to embark, and it is found that there are any’ deserters, volunteers are called on to take their places. The new men are not drawn from the unit which is next in point of training, but from anywhere, and as the result of the proceeding men have gone away without the possibility of having any training. I wish to deal first with the question of rifle training. So far as my reading goes, limited though it may have been, I do not recollect any war in which it can be said that the individual rifleman has counted for more than he does at present. In spite of all that science and art are doing in the way of multiplying the mechanical instruments of destruction, we still read of the effect of perfect infantry fire, and we hear more of the sniper in this war than probably we” ever did before.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - The machine gun is the great factor.
– There is more done with the bayonet to-day than with the rifle.
– If my honorable friends mean by their interjections that the rifle does not count, I differ with them. I am not saying that the rifle is everything, but pointing out that, in my judgment, it is as important to-day as ever it was.
– Rifle shooting is not so effective to-day as it was in the past.
– I think it is more effective. Whatever may be the relative value of the rifle to-day as compared with its use in the last big war, it is at any rate the weapon with which the individual soldier is armed. Therefore, if we put a rifle into the hands of a man it is highly important that he should understand and have confidence in the use of the weapon. To send a man to the front and merely tell him that he need not bother about being able to use his rifle, because a machine gun operating somewhere else may be more effective, is a piece of foolishness which no sensible person would entertain for a moment.
– Have men been sent to the front without^ a knowledge of the use of the rifle?
-1 - I have made the statement, and die Minister of Defence has admitted that men leave Australia-
– You said they had gone to the front.
– No man has been sent to the front without going through his full musketry course.
– If I have inadvertently used the phrase “ to the front” I have already stated that what I desire to draw attention to is the despatch from Australia of reinforcements of men who have not had adequate training, and in some cases no training, in the use of the rifle. It has been said that these men will not go to the front unless they have undergone a thorough course of rifle training. If by that statement is meant, the course which is finplied to the Citizen Forces, it is totally insufficient. Men are returned as efficient who have simply marched on to the ground, fired fifty rounds in a certain time, and marched back again. The effect of such training on an average man is just to make him gun shy, and not to give him that confidence in the weapon which I assert is one of the most moral influences that could be brought to bear.
– That confidence can only be gained by continuous and long practice.
– We have not time for long practice.
– Because we cannot have perfection there is no reason why we should go to the other extreme and have no training at all.
– Why build a mountain out of a mole hill?
– I have not attempted to build anything. I have merely stated facts. I repeat that to-day men are being sent from Australia who have never had a gun to their shoulder.
– It shows how zealous we are in sending men to the seat of war.
– Whether or not it shows zeal, which I readily admit, it does not alter the simple fact. The suggestion I wish to -make is that, if we cannot send the men as expert as we would wish, they ought to be given here some grounding in the use of the weapon on which they will have to rely.
– Efficiency in rifle shooting should be one of the first qualifications.
– Let me take a very simple illustration. I might explain the theory of driving a horse in a sulky to a man who has never had a pair of reins in his hands before, and ask him to drive down a busy street in Sydney alongside a man in another sulky who does know how to drive. The very element of confidence makes all the difference in the world in driving a vehicle through the streets of a busy city. The same thing applies with added effect when a man’s life may depend upon the use he may make of the weapon with which he is armed. The mere knowledge that he can use his rifle when confronted with another man similarly armed has a considerable moral effect on the soldier. I am not bringing this matter forward in the way of criticism, but because it- seems to me to be a weakness in our present system that it should be easy to remedy.
– If we could only get the German forces to wait for a while, until our men are trained, o
– According to the Minister this rifle training is being given outside Australia.
– Only when it is not given here.
– It should be possible to give the elementary portion of the training in Australia.
– That is being done.
– Some little time ago. when the question of rifle training came up for consideration, the Department adopted a suggestion which I now urge the Government to consider. It was recognised that the Instructional Staff would be heavily pressed with duties, and that their time would be fully occupied in other ways; also that many members of the Instructional Staff were not too well qualified to give instruction in rifle training, which involves a special knowledge. The suggestion was, therefore, put forward that the services of expert riflemen and others competent to give instruction in rifle practice should be utilized.
– That is being done now.
– It was done for a few weeks in New South Wales, and then stopped.
– Instructions have been sent out within the last month that every offer of assistance in that direction is to be fully availed of.
– I think that I am discharging a public duty in bringing under the notice of the Minister the fact that it was not being done even as late as last week in Sydney. Early in the war detachments from Liverpool were handed over for an hour or two a day to expert riflemen approved by the State Commandant, who undertook the duty of explaining the complicated mechanism of the modern military rifle. For some years I was able to hold my own with a sporting rifle against most people, but when a modern military rifle is- placed in my hands I have to ask the purpose of some of its little niceties, and how they are manipulated. The modern military rifle is a very complicated machine. However, that system to which I am referring was adopted for a few weeks, and then, without any explanation having been given to the rifle club authorities, it was dropped. The Minister says now that it is to be restored, but judging by the public utterance* of the officer in charge of the rifle clubs in New South Wales it was not being done on last Saturday week, because on that date this officer said, when the matter came up, that he would accept it as a duty to press the suggestion under the notice of the State Commandant. If any instruction had been issued on the subject he would not have bothered to carry to his superior officer a suggestion to do what was already being done. If the Minister has given the instruction, . showing that he is in sympathy with the suggestion, he has nothing more to do except to see that steps are taken to give effect to it.
In connexion with our attempts to organize the resources of Australia, we have to consider very seriously the effect which the enlistment of an increasing number of young men may have on the labour market, particularly in view of the prospects of an extremely heavy harvest.
– It is very probable that there will be a great harvest.
– We are all pleased to realize that there is a prospect of securing a very fine harvest. Australia, with its large area, possesses this advantage, that even if there is a drought, or if prospects are not so bright in cue portion as they are elsewhere, there is generally some compensation in the shape of a good season in another portion of the continent. A little while ago, partly because of the failure of the last harvest, and partly on account of the war, special efforts were made in most of the States to increase the area under cultivation, so that, apart from the increased production per acre anticipated as the result of a bountiful season, there will be increased production on account of the increased area put under crop, and we may look forward to the task of having to garner and lift a harvest unparalleled in the history of Australia. At the same time, however, we are withdrawing from the ordinary labour market, by the voluntary action of those whose conduct we all admire - that is our recruits - a very large percentage of the most active labour of the community, and as we are confronted with the possibility of difficulty in this regard, it seems to me that we cannot too soon consider the question of our having to organize labour with which to lift the harvest. The rapidity with which the New South Wales wheat crop ripens is a factor which renders the prompt supply of labour allimportant. In many districts a delay of twenty-four hours may very often mean that a great portion of the grain will fall to the ground. In such districts the machine must be in the paddock to-day and out again to-morrow, otherwise very serious loss is entailed in the shedding of the grain. These circumstances necessitate the massing of considerable bodiesof labour in certain districts within a short space of time. This is not the time nor the place to suggest the machinery that will overcome this difficulty, but it is a problem that we shall have to face. There is one way in which I think a considerable amount of help might be given. We know that a number of young farmers, not merely the sons of land-owners, but those who have for many years followed agricultural occupations, are anxious to enlist, but when they see the harvest coming on they are doubtful about doing so. Particularly is this the case with farmers’ sons. They realize that their families have lost very heavily through the failure of the last harvest, and when they see the prospect of getting a decent harvest this year, knowing that upon the result of the harvest depends the restoration of the fortunes of their families, they are naturally anxious to be available to help to reap it. Would it not be possible to allow these young men to enlist now, and get their training in July and August, and then give them leave until after the harvest, when they will return to the camps, and be in a position to go straight to the front? It has been said that we are doing as much to serve the Empire by providing its food supplies as in sending men to the front. The question of garnering this harvest is a serious problem, and, in my opinion, the Government cannot do wrong if they give kindly consideration to any suggestion that will tend to the satisfactory handling of it. What I am suggesting is not a cut and dried plan, but is one out of which some scheme might be evolved, enabling the farm labourers to enlist now on the understanding that they will be given leave for a certain number of weeks in order that they may return to their farms and reap the harvest. It may be said that these men should first get in the harvest and then enlist, but if that were done the two months now available for training would be lost. The only risk in taking men into the ranks now and training them for a period, and then giving them leave, is that some of them might do, as men now in the camps do, hot turn up again. But I do not think that the risk will be very heavy in the case of the class of men to whom I refer.
– The percentage of deserters is very small.
– It has been very heavy.
– I can only speak for Queensland.
– That is a matter with which I do not care to deal. At any rate; the number of deserters in the circumstances that I have detailed would be quite insignificant in comparison with the advantage that would be derived from carrying out my suggestion.
– Does not the honorable senator think that these men might just as well remain on their farms until they have taken off the harvest, and then recruit ?
– That would mean losing two months between now and the harvest, when they could be learning their business as soldiers.
– But it would mean loading up the camps and the Instructional Staff with men who were not to leave until after the harvest, whereas men could be in training for despatch at the time of the harvest. We must maintain a continuous flow of reinforcements.
– If the Minister means that the camps are already crowded his answer ls final, but if it is not merely a question of camp accommodation I would point out that by training these men during the two months when they are comparatively idle, they would be enabled to leave Australia within about three months, but if they are compelled to remain without training until after the harvest it will be at least five months before they can leave for the front.
– We shall have to send men five months hence just as much as we have to send them next month.
– These men are willing to join, and necessarily by the nature of their occupation they are practically idle for the next two mouths, there being merely routine work, or at least not very strenuous work, on the farms during that period. By a little organization it should be possible to give these men their training now.
– Let them join rifle clubs, and have voluntary drill.
– In certain districts, where there are a number of them who are willing to follow that course, the Department might evolve a scheme under which they can be trained locally with the assistance of local military officers.
– Could not the State Governments organize sufficient labour to cope with the harvest, independently of the defence aspect of the question ?
– Possibly, but to hear even such a quiet suggestion as that my friend is making, that we should attempt to relieve ourselves of duties, and throw them on the State Governments, is surprising.
– That was not my idea. The harvest is not necessarily Commonwealth business.
– This difficulty arises out of the war, and while the State Governments are the proper agents for dealing with the harvest, it is a matter that need not be limited to the State. Harvesting operations are earlier in one State than in another, and if something is done in the direction of Government organization of labour, it may be found necessary to transfer men from district to district and State to State. Having mentioned this matter, its seriousness will probably be recognised, and some scheme may be evolved.
– Are there many who wish to join” in the circumstances that the honorable senator has detailed?
– At the recent Farmers and Settlers Conference in Sydney, I met quite a number of them - how many of them I cannot say - but they all seemed to express the same view independently of one another. The suggestion was that they should be allowed to join now, so that they might proceed, with their training and that subsequently they should be permitted to return home to reap the harvest.
– That is not singular to New South Wales.
– One can sympathize’ with the feelings of these young men. The parental homes in which they are living have had many shadows thrown over them by the failure of the recent harvest, and naturally these men wish to do all that they can to insure the fullest benefits being derived from the coming harvest. I need scarcely remind the Minister that in England skilled men are being withdrawn from the fighting line in order that they may be placed in the factories. That being so, It does not seem a very serious step to allow these particular recruits to return to their homes a couple of months hence to complete an operation which, important as it is to themselves privately, is of considerable value to the community.
Shortly after this war broke out, the idea was expressed in many quarters, and, amongst others, by members 01 the Government, that as Australia had hitherto obtained many articles from countries with which we are now. at war, an opportunity was afforded us of stimulating the local production of those articles. I recollect the AttorneyGeneral expressing - I presume on behalf of the Government - a desire to stimulate such production by means of Government assistance. I recognise that the Ministry have been busy, but I am not at all sure that this very happy train of thought has been followed out. I have seen no evidence of a systematic examination of the position, or of any activity on the part of the Government, with a view to inducing the people to manufacture those commodities the supply of which previously came from enemy countries.
– Does not the honorable senator remember the Enemy Contracts Bill ?
– That did not deal with this aspect of the question at all.
– It was preliminary to the establishment of a very important branch of industry, which could not be established until effect had been given to that Bill.
– But there is a difference between articles which cannot be made here because of legal technicalities and articles which can be. The fact that there are particular things the manufacture of which is impossible until we have solved certain local problems, does not dispose of the force of my suggestion in regard to those things which we are free to make. I am putting forward these suggestions, because I regard them as worthy of consideration.
– Does the honorable member suggest the payment of a bonus, or something of that kind ?
– Before we can adopt that course, there must be some systematic, scientific, and organized investigation.
– Particularly, we ought to inquire into everything connected with the metal trade.
– That is covered by the Enemy Contracts Bill. I have here some figures which will show honorable senators that there have been diversions of trade going on, the consequences of which I cannot pretend to understand, but which certainly indicate the need for an inquiry such as I have suggested. Before giving these figures, I assume that every honorable senator will assent to the proposition that the war, having disorganized many centres of trade, offers Australia an opportunity to make good any deficiency in this connexion, and that it is a duty which we owe to our fellow citizens to point out to them avenues to which their energies may be profitably diverted. Let me take the export of sheepskins by way of illustration. They are sent out, some with the wool on, and some without. Prom July to December, 1913, we sent to America 330 skins with the wool on. These were worth only £65. In the last half of last year we exported to America 204,637 skins, which were valued at £47,684. These figures show a tremendous jump.
– The total exported is not very large, although the increase is a big one. ‘ Senator MILLEN. - I am not putting forward these figures as if they constituted a startling discovery, but merely for the purpose of demonstrating that diversions of trade have taken place. Apparently the opportunities, which were previously utilized by Germany in connexion with these products, are now being exploited by other people. The export of sheepskins is not a singular instance, and I am suggesting that we should have a thorough examination into trade movements since the war began in. order that we may see whether we cannot stimulate local activity.
– Will the honorable senator advocate an export duty 1
– I will not’.
– Not on those figures ?
– No. I am not in a position to read into those figures more than I am entitled to read. They are chiefly instructive as showing how, after a brief lull when the war broke out, a rapid expansion took place: In July, 1914, the export of sheepskins to America was a little over 3,000. In August, it was 2,600; in September, it had jumped to 23,569, and in October, to 157,502. Whilst that was taking place the export to Germany was necessarily falling off.
– Has the honorable senator the figures relating to the local production ?
– The men engaged in that line recently assured me that the local development had been wonderful, owing to secondary lines, such as handbags, being made in Australia instead of in Germany.
– I am glad to hear that. It is because I wish to see that expansion taking place that I suggest that the Government should have a systematic and scientific examination of “our trade figures. It is not possible for myself or anybody else to undertake that inquiry unaided.
– The Inter-State Commission should undertake it.
– I do not desire to suggest that any particular body should undertake it. I am merely urging the necessity for inquiry.
– The honorable senator does not want to miss the present opportunity.
– No; it seems to me that it is a desirable course to adopt.
– The Inter-State Commission is not doing its duty, according to the honorable senator. -It has the power to inquire into this matter.
– I am not concerned with that. I think that I am doing my duty in bringing this matter before the Senate. During the year ended 30th June, 1914, S’7,533 sheep skins with wool on were exported to America. The following twelve months the quantity exported jumped to nearly 400,000. Another curious fact is that whilst the export of skins with the wool on, and without the wool, had increased, a distinct differentiation movement was in progress. In 1914 America took 87,533 with the wool on, and 125,529 without the woolIn the following year her imports of skins with wool had increased to 389,549, whilst in the other case there had beenonly a slight increase, to 169,541 - an increase of 10 or 15 per cent. I am not going to suggest that the destination of these goods should be impugned. I do not know whether ‘ it should be or not. But we have the assertion. of the AttorneyGeneral that, even in regard to zincproducts, German influences still control” the purchasing and distributing agencies..
I feel that the Government ought to, and I am sure will take any steps which may he necessary to insure that these goods do not reach Germany by a roundabout way.
– Does not the trouble arise from the fact that the Imperial Government will not fall into line with the suggestions made in regard to zinc?
– Of course, there is always a possibility of products which formerly went to Germany direct’ finding their way to that country through neutral countries. I was very much struck - as I am sure everybody must have been - by the message which the AttorneyGeneral recently gave to the press, in the following terms : -
The great difficulty we are hi is that agencies through which the metallic productions of Australia find their way to British and other markets of the world are still dominated mainly by German influence. I know this to be a very serious allegation to make, but it is absolutely true. Names have been changed, English names have taken the place of German names; but the German influence remains. It would be folly to assume that this influence has been exercised for the benefit of Great Britain.
Assuming that the Attorney - General spoke with consideration, and with a sense of responsibility, his statement is practically an admission that there are going from Australia to-day, for the benefit of the enemy, some of the products of this Commonwealth. When the Enemy Contracts Bill was under consideration I ventured to suggest that there was a serious defect in it, and that defect is now becoming manifest. In the statement from which I have quoted, the Attorney-General said -
That Act annuls a contract with an enemy subject, yet not one of the metal companies has -availed itself of its provisions; not one contract has been filed.
Under the Act, it is left to somebody connected with an enemy contract to file a copy of it. I suggested at the time - and I repeat the statement now - that that is not sufficient. To leave, to a person connected with an enemy contract the option of filing the contract seems like asking any other offender to come forward and lay an information against himself.
– We cannot trace the product of contracts all over the world.
– We need not let it get into the world. If there be any truth in the statement of the AttorneyGeneral, I would urge upon the Government the desirableness of taking the drastic step of stopping export entirely.
– The export is only allowed by permission.
– If permission is given for the export, we must slightly alter what Mr. Hughes has said. What he said was -
The great difficulty we are in is that agencies through which the metallic productions of Australia find their way to British and other markets of the world are still dominated mainly by German influence.
If one of the means by which they can find their way into the markets of the world is Government sanction for their exportation, the Government must take their share of the responsibility for what follows.
– The conclusion the honorable senator is drawing is most unfair to the Government. He should allow me to say that the Government have satisfied themselves, through communication with the British Government, that the persons to whom these materials are consigned are using them for the purposes of the Allies, and not of our enemies.
– If the Minister had allowed me to complete what 1 wished to say, his interjection would not have been necessary. I made the statement I did in reply to his remark that the export is allowed only by permission of the Government. I was going to say that I cannot conceive for a moment that the present or any* other Government would willingly sanction the export from Australia of products which would find their way into enemy hands. The Government have given their sanction to the export, but we still have the assertion by Mr. Hughes that some of the products are going where Ministers do not think they are going.
– What is happening is that these products are going to manufacturers who are manufacturing for the Allies, but they are still bound up with contracts under German influence that existed before the war.
– How can we bind firms in Baltimore?
– We cannot do so.
– The impression created in my mind by Mr. Hughes’ statement is undoubtedly that some of the products of Australia are finding their way indirectly into enemy hands.
– They are finding their way into the hands of firms that are still bound up with contracts with Germany, but wei have the guarantee from the Imperial authorities that our products are being used in manufactures for the Allies.
– What Mr. Hughes says is that the metallic productions of Australia find their way to British and other markets of the world through agencies that are still dominated mainly by German influence.
– Dominated in the. way I have explained, through contracts with ‘Germany entered into before the war, and which cannot, in neutral countries, be annulled.
– I do not care how they are dominated. If it is by German influence, and that influence is not utilized for our advantage, I take the extreme course of saying that until this matter is cleared up we should” not allow the metallic or any other products of Australia, which might be used under these conditions, to leave these shores.
– Even to make munitions for Great Britain or the Allies, as we are assured is the case?
– If that is known to the Government, then Mr. Hughes’ statement was not a fair one to make in the circumstances.
– It is absolutely accurate in the sense that the firms to whom the products are consigned are bound under contracts in the way I have said.
– This is more than a matter of binding by contracts. Mr. Hughes refers to Germans who have changed their German names. There is the suggestion of a desire to deceive, otherwise there would be no need for a change of name.
– The dominating influence of the metal trade of the world is still German. That is what Mr. Hughes was directing attention to.
– If it was merely a question of what influence dominates a factory in America, there would be no need to change the German name. The whole object and effect of the change of name is to enable those people to get something which they could not otherwise obtain. If, by changing their German names, firms are able to obtain Australian products which they could not secure but for the change of name, I say that they should not be allowed to obtain those products - change of name or no change of name.
– We are assured that our products are used for manufactures for the Allies.
– I hope that is so, but without that assurance Mr. Hughes’ statement that Australian products are going into outside markets through agencies dominated by German influence seemed to me to disclose a very serious position indeed.
– When did that statement appear ?
– It appeared in the
Sydney Morning Herald and in the Melbourne newspapers of the 10th of this, month.
– Perhaps it is an abbreviated report, and does not convey all that Mr. Hughes said.
– He was dealing withthe annulment of enemy contracts.
– Let me read the only lines which precede the quotation I have already made to show that I have not unfairly quoted the Attorney-General. .They are -
Melbourne, Friday. - Referring to-day to the. metal trade of the Commonwealth, the following statement was made by the Federal AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Hughes.
Then follows the statement I have already quoted -
The great difficulty we are in is that agenciesthrough which the metallic productions of Australia find their way to Britain and other markets of the world are still dominated mainly by German influence.
– The agenciesthrough which they find their way - that is quite correct.
– We are informed that the agencies through which they find their way are dominated by an influence which is not exercised in the interests ‘of’ Great Britain or the Allies. One of the difficulties that arises in connexion with this matter is that the Government apparently do not see their way to haveworks started here which could utilize those products. They . appear to have been unable to come to an understanding with the Imperial authorities in connexion with the matter.
– Have they not asked the Imperial Government to start works in England?
-The real difficulty arises from a feeling in the minds of English statesmen with which, whether we indorse it or not, we can fully sympathize, because it is entirely honorable to them. They say that this industry is largely a Belgian one. The British authorities naturally hesitate as to whether they are justified by Government action in taking, advantage of the position in Belgium, due to the war, to establish in England an industry which, remaining after the war is over, may rob Belgium of a very important source of national wealth.
– That is too thin.
- Senator de Largie may jeer as much as he pleases, but I am stating a simple fact, and mentioning the influence which, in this matter, has restrained the Imperial authorities.
– The industry is established in France as well as in Belgium.
– Its establishment is a much more important matter for Belgium than it is for France. Let me further remind the honorable senator that France to-day is not entirely in the hands of the conqueror. She might still, if she saw fit, develop her industries. Belgium is not in the same position. There is but . one little corner of Belgium that is not in German hands. I say that we are bound to pay a considerable measure of respect to the influence which has prevailed with the Imperial authorities to make them extremely cautious about taking action in this matter. The question whether we should go to the length of preventing the export of our products, unless we are absolutely certain as to what is done with them, is a matter entirely within our own discretion.
– Has the honorable senator considered the effect which so drastic a step would have upon the industrial position here?
– Has Senator “O’Keefe considered the difference it may make in our industrial position if we go on supplying things to feed the enemy?
– Is the honorable senator prepared to advocate that the Government should deal with these products in Australia?
– That is quite another matter. If Senator Guthrie means that something might be done by the Government for the utilization of these products by the establishment of works which might be left to private enterprise, I cannot agree with him.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator is not quite fair.
– My statement is as fair as was Senator Guthrie’s question to me. Neither I nor any one else would be foolish enough to affirm definitely and with particularity what should be done. I am not able, to produce ready-made j.lans for the development of new industries..
– The honorable senator says that we should stop the export of these products. “What should we do with them, if we did that?
– I said that we should stop the export of these products if there is the slightest suspicion that they will be so controlled by. German influence as to be used to our detriment. If that became necessary, what we should do with the products afterwards would be a matter for consideration when we had stopped the export. “Whatever might be the effect upon a section of the industrial life of Australia we should not hesitate to stop the export of materials which were being used for the assistance of our enemies.
– We have assured ourselves, through the British Ambassador to the United States of America, that these products are being used for manufactures for Great Britain and our Allies.
– If Mr. Hughes had followed up the remarks which I have quoted by a statement that the Government had authority for saying definitely that these Australian products were not finding their way into the hands of our enemies, I should not have referred to the matter at all. I submit that Mr. Hughes’ statement, and his reference to the fact that German influence controlled the metal markets of the world, and that it is being used against us, conveys th<i suggestion that in some way, against the wish of the Government, and “in spite of their desire to prevent it, these products are’ being used against the interests of the country. ‘
– Mr. Hughes’ statement and mine are correct, and they are reconcilable to any one who knows the facts of the case.
– Of course they are reconcilable, but one is complementary of the other. Mr. Hughes left out the very important statement which Senator Pearce now supplies, that we have the authority of the Imperial representative in the United States of America for the assurance that zinc products exported from Australia to America are utilized solely in the interests of Great Britain and her Allies. That statement, following upon the statement made by Mr. Hughes, puts an entirely re-assuring asspect on the matter. I am glad to have referred to the remarks made by the AttorneyGeneral if only because it has led to the comforting assurance which the Minister of Defence has given. us.
– Referring to the concluding remark of Senator Millen, I might question the reason given for the’ refusal of the Imperial Government to start in England an establishment for the utilization of metal products. There is an abundance of coal there, which is the raw material most required for such an industry, and the conditions- are most favorable for the expansion of a very small industry into a very big one. It is stated that the reason why the Imperial authorities hesitate to encourage the establishment of such an industry in England is that it would be calculated to injure an important industry which Belgium has hitherto had, arid would, in the circumstances, be unfair to Belgium. If we were to view every matter from that stand-point, we should do nothing to increase our industries in the Commonwealth. If we decided that Australian industries must remain stagnant because the expansion might be injurious to an industry which, for the time being, is wiped out in Belgium, we should do nothing. It is suggested that we cannot afford to do anything in this matter because it might divert trade from Belgium.
– Yet we give permission for the export to America of the raw materials for this industry?
– It is true that we are living in extraordinary times; but, in view of the fact that the mercantile fleet of America is free, while those of other countries are tied up, we cannot wonder that there should be an increase of our exportations to the United States of America at the present time. At the present juncture, we can expect these fluctuations, because they are ordinary to the times in which we are living. We are anxious to do as much as we can in connexion with the present war, and while on this phase of the subject I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that .the permanent Secretary for the Department - the man who knows most about Defence affairs, as we understand them in Australia, the man under whose direction the Military Department is supposed to have grown; I refer to Colonel Pethebridge - was, shortly after the war broke out, appointed , to some position in an out-of-the-way place in Papua. To me, that seemed to be a most extraordinary appointment just when the war began, and when one would have thought that we required his- services very urgently indeed, because just then the Defence Department was being loaded with so much additional work arising out of the war. It seems extraordinary that at such a time his. services could have been dispensed with.
– Why was he sent away 1
– That is a mystery, and a matter -I cannot understand. We know that we have in Papua a Lieutenant-Governor, in the person of Judge Murray, who, in my opinion, could very well have undertaken the duties for which Colonel Pethebridge was sent to Rabaul, namely, the taking over of the new territory. Instead of that, however, we find that the official head of the Defence Department was taken away from his duties, and sent to this out-of-the-way place in the tropics. It is all so extraordinary that I think we should have some explanation from the Minister. I understand that officer is at present in Melbourne, and I suggest that he be kept in this city, which is the headquarters of the Military Department, so that any officers who can be spared may be sent to the front, where their professional knowledge ought to be of some considerable service to the Empire. Now, referring to the matter mentioned by Senator Millen, namely, the need for. labour to gather the coming harvest, it seems to me that we could follow the course adopted in the Old
Country during the last harvest, and employ soldiers in the harvest fields. I understand that the same practice is to he followed in the coming harvest all over Europe, and that soldiers home for a spell will be employed in the harvest fields. When they return to the front they will be much improved by the change of occupation and better prepared for their work in the trenches.
– They cannot come from the Dardanelles.
– The honorable senator refers to men in the camps.
– Yes. I am referring to the men who may be in training at the military camps. We know that there is constant communication between the western front and the Old Country, troops moving to and fro all the time, and thus in England it is rather a simple matter to have them employed in the harvest fields when not urgently required at the front.
– I do not anticipate a shortage of labour here, provided we can organize it.
– That is quite true, and I suggest that the men who may be in training at the time could be employed in the harvest fields of Australia during that season. For many of them it will be work to which they are accustomed, and I am quite sure that by this means there will be no trouble in getting sufficient men to cope with the harvest. The difficulties surrounding the financial aspect of the war are so great that it is impossible for any man to say what will be the expenditure to be incurred by Australia in the near future. We are talking to-day of borrowing £20,000,000, or expending £40,000,000. A year ago, if we had talked of a similar- expenditure in Hundreds of thousands of pounds, we would probably have been ‘surprised, but we are living in extraordinary times to which the ordinary rules of finance do not apply. The English national debt, as we know, was inflated tremendously during the Napoleonic wars, but, according to the figures made public by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Budget speech the other day, Great Britain proposes to spend more in one year over this war than she spent during the whole of the wars of Napoleon, indicating, as I said, that the expenditure to-day is absolutely without precedent. Therefore, we can look for a tremendous load of taxation in the future. We cannot go on expending unless we collect, and I think the Government should see to it that some means of taxation are evolved to bring in the necessary revenue.
– For the whole of the war expenditure?
– No ; not for the whole expenditure, for we shall never be able to do that, but we should provide by taxation for whatever is possible now.
– We can raise the interest on the extra war expenditure at any rate.
– Yes; I think we ought to be opening up new channels of revenue in order to meet the situation. We must set our house in order.
– The community created values would pay the whole cost of the war.
– Without going into a discussion on that subject, I can say that, in many places, owing to the drought, there would be nothing to collect at all on account of the community created values. It is foolish to speak of unearned increments in land, when we know many- on the land are steeped in debt owing to droughts. However, it is time we set ourselves the task of finding the means of raising more money, which will be urgently required, and I am glad to know we shall now have an opportunity to discuss the Estimates.
– We are now entering upon a new era so far as the question of finance is concerned in Australia. Hitherto we have been, developing our resources by means of borrowed money, found in the London money market, but now not only has our expenditure been largely increased, but we are told by the Mother Country that for developmental purposes, and, indeed, for other purposes, we must depend on ourselves. For one, I welcome that position. No doubt the present circumstances are unfortunate, not only for Australia, but for other portions of the world; but it is through adversity that nations, as well as individuals, learn wisdom. Here in Australia, ever since this country has been settled, we have been wasting our resources in a most unbusinesslike fashion. We have borrowed money year after year from London for the building of railways and other public works, and we have allowed a certain section’ of the people to put into their pockets the added value which the expenditure of that- money placed upon the land. That ia the policy we have been following in this country up to the present, and any one who cares to examine it without prejudice can only come to the conclusion that it is the most unbusiness-like and foolish, as well as the most wasteful, policy in which any nation could possibly engage. I hope that stern necessity will compel a revision of that policy, and I trust that, for the future, when the people of Australia spend money on rail. ways or other public works, the value which will be added or created by that expenditure will find its way into the public Treasury rather than into the pockets of private individuals. Last year, even if the war had not broken out, we would have been in the unfortunate position of having a deficit to meet. Our revenue last year was somewhere about £22,000,000 or £23,000,000.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– We all feel that the ultimate fate of Australia depends largely on the outcome of the war. If the Allies win, I suppose we shall be all right. The bill will be to pay, but in time probably it will’ be met. A large portion of the burden can be passed on to posterity, which is only fair, because if we hold Australia we are holding it, not only for ourselves, but for those who come after us. At the same time, it is evident that the present situation in this country ought to be changed, and that speedily. Here we are in a country many thousands of miles away from Europe, and yet our fate depends almost wholly on the success of Britain and her Allies. It ought to be the ambition of every Australian to see this country independent, self-contained, and self-supporting, able to maintain her position without outside assistance, and to defend herself against foreign aggression. It is not only possible to make a beginning towards realizing that policy, but it is our bounden duty to do so, and the circumstances of the war give us a splendid opportunity of making a departure which ought to have been made many years ago. If we want to be a country able to maintain its independence, no matter what may happen to the Mother Country, the first essential is a larger and larger population. According to the latest figures, our numbers now approach 5,000,000. The increase since Federation has been about 25 per cent. In a young country like this the natural increase, with the increase through immigration, ought to be very much greater than that. In some periods young countries have doubled their population in a much shorter time than we have taken to increase from 3,000.000 odd to 4,000,000 odd. We ought to bend all our energies towards the accomplishment of a policy which will have this result. This large increase of population can be accelerated in one way only - that is by providing profitable opportunities of employment, not only for the people we have here now and for their descendants, but for many millions of. immigrants from other countries.
– From Germany?
– I do not want to preach a homily about Germany, but if there is one thing I despise it is the man who sees in Germany, our enemy of to-day, an impossible friend in the future. I remember when France was the traditional enemy of Britain, and the old women used to frighten the children by telling them that they would hunt “ Boney “ on to them. I can remember when not only Britain, but Australia.,, was afraid of Russia. Our enemy of today may be our friend of to-morrow.
– Our enemy of today is making it more and more impossible, through his brutality, to make friends with him than was the case with any of those enemies of the past.
– I would ask honorable senators who think that the last word in brutality has been uttered in connexion with the present war to read history. Any one who does so must know that if you fight with a country to-day you are friendly with it to-morrow, and that your friend of to-day may be your enemy to-morrow. W.e see the same thing in politics and in every-day human life. To say that the people of Germany are to be segregated, marked out as the curseof God and man for all time, is to mesomething so unthinkable that I cannot regard with anything but horror people who give utterance to such a sentiment. Nations, like individuals, go mad at times. Probably that is the case with Germany at the present moment, but I am sure that, twenty years from to-day, this great war, which is going to have such tremendous results, will hardly be mentioned. People will have begun to think about other things, and there will he the free movements between the peoples of different countries that there were before the war. The human race is not going to segregate itself in sections because, unfortunately, one nation has at some time or other been at war with another nation. If that kind of spirit were to be carried into the daily life of the nation, the people of’ one country would not speak to or visit those of another, or take or sell their goods. But that kind of thing is impossible. The human family is like a great sea, and I have no doubt that within a comparatively short period Australia will welcome German immigrants. Many of the Germans settled on the land of this country are the best farmers we have.
– Their wives are.
– If the honorable senator studied the subject, he would know that the employment of women in the fields gives to the people of a country a stamina that nothing else will give. Why is it that in some of the move thickly populated manufacturing districts of Europe the people are becoming degenerate ? Their women have not the opportunities of getting the physique that the women in some other countries have. The healthiest, strongest, finest women I ever saw were what we call in Scotland the “ outworkers “ - the women who work in the fields. They are better there than sitting on a stool operating a typewriter, or standing behind a counter in a stuffy shop, or taking down shorthand from dictation.
– The honorable’ senator would like to see them pulling the teats of a cow.
– That is a much more healthy occupation than some I have named. I advise honorable senators to read a book recently published by Olive Schreiner, who shows that, if the physique of our women is lowered, the physique of the race is lowered. Instead of it being regarded as a reproach to Germany that a large number of her women work in the fields, the fact is really one of Germany’s great sources of strength. I trust Australia will have 20,000,000 people within a comparatively short period. T care not from what corner of the world they come so long as they are of the white race. I want no coloured people here. I want people of the white race to make their homes here, and help to build up a great Democracy below the Southern Cross. Australia may one day be. a city of refuge for the people of Great Britain, for no one knows what is going to happen to the Mother Country in the near future. Every other great Empire has had its day and disappeared, and who will say that Britain will not disappear as a great Power. I believe she will. Every day is bringing that possibility nearer, and one of my principal reasons for urging Australia to adopt a policy of expansion and growth is that, when that day comes, there will be a home here for, perhaps, millions of exiled Britons. The only way in which that expansion can be brought about is by providing abundance of employment at good wages, and the one great essential is that the country shall be available to the people. That is what we lack, because the lands of Australia are not available to the people.
– You have not disappointed us.
– And I hope the honorable senator will not disappoint Australia. The lands of Australia are not now, and never have been, open to its people. They never will be open to them if the party with .which the honorable senator is associated has its way. Australia can never be anything until that is brought about. The farmers of Scotland, some years ago, sent a deputation to spy out the land of Australia. They had heard great tidings of the huge areas of beautiful country available under. the Southern Cross, and thought they would come out and see for themselves. I have no doubt that if their report had been satisfactory, thousands of stalwart Scottish fanners would have come out here, and thrown in their lot with us; but the tale that these Commissioners took back to Scotland was of an astounding character. They said that there was no good land available - that all the good land was monopolized.
– By Scotchmen.
– I hope so. I hope that wherever a good thing is going Scotchmen will have the good sense to get a. bit of it. Unfortunately, the report of the Scottish Commission was true, and until this land scarcity . is broken down the growth of population that is absolutely necessary in Australia cannot take place. We have large estates in every portion of the continent, and it is not- the worst land that is monopolized. In every case it is the best land. Men who came along in the early days - whether they were English, Scottish, or Irish -were not fools. They knew good land when they saw it, and they took .precious good care to get a slice of it. They took the very best country that it was possible to obtain. If honorable senators care to examine the facts in connexion with almost every large estate in Australia, they will find that each estate comprises practically the best of the land in the particular district in which it is situated. It is the duty of this Parliament, and more particularly of the Government, to take this matter in hand and deal with it. We have made an attempt to tackle the question. The Labour party inaugurated a land value tax, which, it was hoped, would break down big estates, cheapen land, and encourage settlement. But it has not broken down big estates, cheapened land, or encouraged settlement. ^ Senator Grant. - The tax is not heavy enough.
– Of course it is not. To achieve its purpose, it must be made very much heavier, and it is the bounden duty of the Labour party, which is in power to-day, to see that the conditions of land monopoly which now prevail in Australia are broken down. We have the power to do it. In both Houses we have the majority, and it can be done if Ave only have the courage to tackle the matter; we shall fail in the principal object of our existence as a party if we do not do it. If we leave the land question untouched, no matter what else we do, we shall have done practically nothing. We talk about this combine and that combine, but all the evils done by all the combines combined are not causing one tithe of the injury that land monopoly is doing to the people of Australia. The land monopolist not only does nothing to promote industry; he also prevents any one else from doing anything. Before lunch I heard one Minister interject, in a scornful fashion that while I favoured land values taxation I objected to taxes on stocks and shares, and so forth. Land values taxation is not taxation; it is merely the people getting for themselves the values which they have themselves created. If a man creates a thing, surely to goodness he is entitled to it. If we, by public expenditure and one thing and another, create huge land values in Australia, surely we are entitled to them; yet those gentlemen who appear to be so anxious to promote the interests of the working men do not touch the land monopolists who are preventing working men from getting employment, but propose to attack men who put their money into productive industries, who are doing something to promote the prosperity of the country, who are not burying their talents in the soil, but are putting them to active use in the way in which they should be employed to be of any use to the country. I do not object to an income tax, or to any form of taxation; but until we have exhausted land values taxation we have no right to impose other taxes. At any rate it is very bad business to do so. The first line of revenue production should be land values. They belong to the people of the country, and should be obtained “by them for their own benefit. Last year our finances went £12,000,000 to the bad owing to the war, yet every year we are going £30,000,000 to the bad because of the fact that communitycreated values, instead of going to the public Treasury, are going into the pockets of private individuals. If we could get all the community-created values to which we are entitled - every farthing of them - we would be able to pay the cost of the war without passing on to the people one penny of the cost in the shape of taxation.
– How will the land monopolist live after we take all this value from him ?
– He will have to do as other people do. He will have to work. I am not concerned as to how the land monopolist is going to live.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - He might come into Parliament.
– That is a very good way of making a living when a man cannot do anything else. . Unless’ the Labour party deals with this question, anything else it may do will be practically of no value.
– That is all fudge.
– The honorable senator may say that it is all fudge, but I do not believe that it is. Land is the foundation of everything.
– If the .State is- to collect £30,000,000 a year, the honorable senator’s estimate of the amount of the community-created value, it can only do so by maintaining land values at their present range. How, then, can land be made cheaper for those who wish to occupy it?
– It is quite true, as the honorable senator suggests, that if land values are taxed to their full extent there will be an immediate depreciation of the value of land; but I ask him to remember that there will also be an appreciation of population, not immediately afterwards, perhaps, but certainly within a comparatively short period. As the population grows, so land values will .increase, and the amount of revenue to be produced from that source will also increase.
– The honorable senator admits that land values will not come down as a result of his system of taxation?
– Land values will continue to increase.
– Then, for the time being, the complaint of the Scottish Commissioners will still remain good.
– The object of land values taxation is to force land into use, and that can only be done by cheapening it for the moment, but as settlement increases land values will again go up. I do- not object to that aspect of the question. What I object to -is the fact that at present the increase of land values goes into the pockets of private individuals, whereas it should go into the public Treasury. -With the increase of population increase of values is inevitable ; nothing can stop it, and it is not desirable that it should be stopped; but the increase, instead of going into the pockets of private individuals, as now happens, should be poured into- the public Treasury. In any case, Australia has huge empty areas of land, and we need more and more population - in the country districts and not in the city. Half the population of Australia live in towns. Half the people of New South Wales live in Sydney and its environments; half the people of South Australia live about Adelaide; nearly half the people in Victoria live round about Melbourne, and it is the same right through the whole of the continent. Surely this state of affairs cannot be productive of good. Why are the people nocking into the cities ? Is it because of the attractions of city life? There- may be something in that view, but that is not the sole cause. The principal reason is the difficulty of getting accessible land at a cheap rate. I believe that is the great difficulty in connexion - with land settlement; but if the policy of land values taxation be carried out, I am. certain that within a- comparatively short period there will be a large increase in. our rural population, and consequently in our production. Last year we did not grow enough wheat in Australia to meet our own needs. We even had to import butter.
– Because of the drought. But I know areas in Australia, now held by monopolists, upon which wheat and butter could be produced even in the driest season. It is the poor land which gives out first. The rich land will produce with a comparatively small rainfall. I have not the slightest doubt that if land monopoly were broken up we never would have a time of scarcity such as, unfortunately, we have had during, the last season. That is another aspect. From whatever point of view one cares to examine the question, one can only be driven to this conclusion : that until we deal with this most important matter, we really will have done nothing to promote the happiness or prosperity of the people with whose government we are charged. Let honorable senators think for a moment what it means to have complete control over the lands of a country. Everything we eat, or drink, or wear, or use comes from the land. There is nothing that we can mention that one uses in any relation of life which does not come out of the soil. That being so, surely the owners of the soil have a tremendous lien over those who use it. That is the reason why I desire that the Government should have complete control over every acre in Australia. Not only do- I think that that is important from the present point of view, but when I look around, and see the advances being made ‘ every year in science, and when I reflect upon the possibilities of the future, when areas which we now regard as being worthless will probably become extremely profitable by reason of some invention, I am more than ever- driven to conclude that the’ laud is the supreme question. Until the people of Australia have complete control over the lands of this continent they will have done little or nothing towards their industrial or economic salvation. There is another phase of this industrial question which might well occupy the attention of Parliament - I refer to the creation of new industries within Australia. We have within the confines of this continent everything that is required for the use of man. There” is hardly a necessity or a luxury which cannot be produced in Australia. We have every known mineral - the richest minerals - such as gold, silver, tin, copper, coal, and iron. In short, we have everything which is necessary for the existence of a nation. Let us use these commodities instead of remaining as we are as present - dependent upon foreign countries for a large measure of the commodities that we require. I know that, in Australia, a great many persons who come from the Mother Country are still obsessed with the Free Trade idea. They think that because England became prosperous under Free Trade, the Commonwealth can become prosperous under a similar policy. But I would point out that there is a mighty difference between prosperity and greatness. The two terms do not signify the same thing at all. A community may be prosperous without being great, or great without being prosperous. Many people think that, because England flourished under a policy of Free Trade, that is the policy which should be adopted by the Commonwealth. One might as well argue that the food required by a man in his mature years, or in his old age, is that which was given to him when he was an infant. I firmly believe that what we require for our development is, not a policy of Free Trade with other countries, but a policy of Protection - a policy which will not only encourage the production of everything that we require within our own boundaries, but which will compel that production.
– I am afraid that “ Brother Grant “ will not agree with the honorable senator.
– A nd, perhaps, “Brother Turley” will not agree with me. I cannot help that. I have to say, not what “ Brother Grant,” or any other brother may think, but what this brother thinks. We ‘require a policy of Protection.
– The honorable senator means a high revenue Tariff, does he not?
– I do not mean a high revenue Tariff, and if the honorable senator knew anything about this subject he would know that I do not mean that. Apparently he does not know the ABC of Protection. I would be extremely glad if he would turn the searchlight of his intellect as strongly upon the question of Protection as apparently he has turned it upon the question of land values taxation. He is all right on land values taxation, simply because he has mastered the subject. But evidently he has not begun to consider the question of Protection.
– He is at the same stage now as the honorable senator had reached when he entered this Parliament.
– I thank the honorable senator for reminding me of my ignorance in those days. Fortunately my association with him, and with others, has had the effect of inducing me to change my views very considerably. What we want is, not a high revenue Tariff, but a Protective Tariff.
– At present we have a high revenue Tariff.
– I agree with the honorable senator. But such a Tariff will not create industries. We ought to be honest with ourselves, and with the country. Do we wish to raise revenue, or to create industries ? That is the question which we have to determine. Apparently those responsible for the framing of the Tariff have come to the conclusion that what we want is revenue. I do not believe that the people of Australia agree with them. My opinion ia that the electors desire a Protective Tariff. But they have not got it, and I fear that they are not likely to get it, unless very great pressure is brought to bear upon this Government, and upon the Parliament, from outside.
– Does the honorable senator believe in raising revenue from beer and spirits?
– The Minister of Defence has asked me whether I believe in raising revenue from beer, whisky, and stimulants. I certainly do. A very ‘considerable portion of our revenue is derived from that source. So far as revenue is concerned, stimulants occupy a group by themselves. I do not believe in the taxation of stimulants merely for revenue purposes. What I believe is that, if they were sold at their normal price, the result would, in all probability, be disastrous to the country. Aa some little means of mitigating that result I am quite prepared - although very much against my principles - to see the taxation on stimulants continued. But I would put tobacco in quite another category. I would impose a protective duty upon that article. I do not see any reason why Senator Buzacott, who smokes, should be obliged to contribute more to the revenue of this country than I do. I do not believe that our pleasures ought to be taxed. The pleasures of life are so few and far between that they ought not to be taxed . The shadow - of the hard-visaged tax gatherer should never be allowed to come between us and our pleasures.
– They are only like poppies.
– They are only like poppies. “ You seize the flower, its bloom is shed.” I do not see why there should be other than a protective duty on tobacco. My Australian . experience has convinced me that tobacco is one of the choicest pleasures of the- working men of this country. It does not matter where we go, we shall find that this is so. If we penetrate the bush to places hundreds of miles from civilization - to the mining and shearing camps - we shall find the men who are doing their best to develop the resources of this country, and without whom those resources cannot be developed, sitting over their pipes in the evening enjoying, perhaps, the only luxury they have. I would be pleased if, to-morrow, the revenue tax on’ tobacco were abolished.
– We can grow tobacco in Australia.
– Certainly . But there ought to be a protective duty imposed upon that commodity in order to encourage its production here. When I see the working man, who is giving up a great deal to develop the resources of this country, taxed through the medium of the only luxury that he enjoys, whilst the land monopolist, who is holding up the resources of Australia against the people, is allowed to go comparatively free, I can only conclude that there is something radically wrong in the arrangements underlying our taxation. We are getting a very large revenue out of .the Tariff. Last year we collected something like £14,000,000. But we collected far too much. The amount of revenue derived from the Tariff proves conclusively that it is not operating in the direction of creating industries, but that it is a mere instrument for extorting revenue.
– The whole of the increased revenue is due to the duties on narcotics and spirits. The other items show a decrease.
– There are large sums derived from other duties. I desire to see that revenue largely decreased. I come back now to my original proposition, namely, that we require a larger population. To get that population we must free the land, and do as much as we possibly can towards supplying our own needs, and the needs of other people at the far ends of the earth. In the absense of a Protective Tariff it is impossible to build up industries in Australia. Only a few minutes ago we were talking of Germany. After the war is over I have not the slightest doubt that the people of that country will tackle work with all the energy, capacity, and scientific knowledge which they can command, and that they will be very strong competitors in the industrial race. Unless we take measures to protect ourselves against an invasion of their goods, those goods will enter Australia at a much cheaper price than they can be manufactured locally. Consequently, unless something is done industries will not be established here. Things will go on in the old way; and some day we shall find ourselves caught in a cyclone, and probably we shall come to grief. But there is a remedy at hand. The Australian people have given this Parliament a mandate to adopt a Protectionist policy. The Opposition are agreed upon that. Senator Millen said here some time ago that, while he believes in a revenue Tariff, seeing that Australia has declared for Protection, he is not going to put himself in opposition to that policy. He has never had the chance to do so, because no Federal Government has yet introduced a Protectionist policy. The present Tariff is very far from being a Protectionist Tariff. It still produces revenue in very large sums. What we want to do is to try to bring the revenueproducing capacity of the Tariff down to something like 30s. per head of the population, instead of £3 10s. as it is at present.
– Why stop at 30s. per head ?
– I have no objection to bringing it lower than that, but I think that a drop from £3 10s. to 30s. per head would be very good to begin with. Is Senator Lynch prepared to bring down the revenue-producing capacity of the Tariff to 30s. per head? We should require a much more highly Protective Tariff than we have now to bring it down to that amount. I find that there are a very few honorable members of the Senate who are willing to go that far. They do not seem to be very anxious that we should have a Protective Tariff. No doubt they talk a great deal about it on public platforms, but after they are elected on the strength of their promises and professions, when they come here, they shed both promise and profession, and give the people the same old thing over again. It is high time that we took stock of ourselves. We should break down land monopoly and establish high Protection. If we did so,’ we should do that which would bring some benefit to the people of Australia. It would add largely to our population, and, as a necessary consequence, increase our strength and independence. I do not wish to say very much more on this subject.
– The honorable senator means to-day? .
– Yes, to-day. I fear that it will be necessary for me to say more on some other occasion, but Senator Millen may rest assured that when there is no further necessity for talking in this way, I shall cease to speak, unless I find some new subject to engage my attention. Every one will agree that what Australia most requires is more people. It does not matter how we get them ; I say let them all come. We want 20,000,000” of people here. We need to place ourselves in such a position that we shall not be dependent on Great Britain or any other country for our existence or defence. We should be able to rely on our own strong right arm. There is no other way that I can see to bring about that result but by breaking up land monopoly on the one hand, and  going in for a high Protective Tariff on the other. We want more revenue, and there is great talk about fresh taxation. Undoubtedly fresh taxation will be necessary to meet our requirements. The taxation of the past will be as a bagatelle to what will be necessary in the future. Not only is that true, but a readjustment of our whole system of taxation is necessary. If we had a Protectionist Tariff, a large proportion of the £14,000,000 of revenue which we now receive through the Customs must disappear. Say we get £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 from the taxation of stimulants, and a considerable proportion of the remaining amount is lost by the adoption of a reformed Tariff, there is one way, and, in my opinion, only one honest and just way, open to us to make up the consequent deficiency in revenue. It can be done by imposing additional land value taxation. Not only shall we derive revenue from the adoption of that course, but our land will be cheapened and freed for settlement.
– Just now the honorable senator said that the effect would be to appreciate the value of the land.
– The honorable senator wants to tie me in a knot.
– No; I wish the honorable senator to be consistent. What he proposes will either cheapen land or make it dearer.
– Senator Millen knows as much about this question as I do, and perhaps a great deal more.
-That >s why I do not like to see the honorable senator going wrong.
– I am not going wrong. I can give the honorable senator an example of what happened recently in Queensland. A large estate, consisting of some 120,000 acres, was broken up in that State. At the time it was valued at about £3 per acre. As many as 400 settlers took up that country, and if’ Senator Millen wanted a piece of it today he would have to pay, not £3, but £6 per acre. Every one who knows anything about land value taxation knows that, as population increases, land values increase, and as population dwindles, land values disappear.
– The honorable senator is referring to the Jimbour Estate. Are not all the people on that estate today appealing for relief ?
– That estate was bought from the Government.
– That is so, and the price paid was too high. If there had been a land value tax in operation the people who settled upon that land, instead of having to pay £3 per acre for it, would probably have been able to get it for £1 per acre. The result of an .effective land value tax is undoubtedly to -depreciate land values. That is the object of such taxation. It is intended to cheapen land and make it more plentiful. But when the land is taken up and settled in small holdings there is an appreciation of its value.
– It then becomes increasingly difficult for new settlers to get it.
– It is, of course, a fact- that in every country, as it becomes more thickly populated, it is inevitably more difficult for people to get .land. Fortunately, in Australia we are far removed from that stage at present. We can contemplate that possibility very calmly, as it will not affect us or our immediate descendants very much. I ask honorable senators to turn their minds seriously to the questions of land monopoly and the revision of the Tariff. If we are to progress as we ought, and if our position is to be strengthened, we must have more people in Australia. Unless land monopoly is broken up, and our lands made available to the people at a cheap rate, we cannot have settlement upon the soil to the extent we ought to have; and, unless we have a Protectionist Tariff, we cannot expect to develop new industries in Australia. I again ask honorable senators to turn their attention to these questions, and see whether something substantial cannot be done towards the realization of a policy which I believe is the only one that can do Australia any good.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) J 3. 27] - I am very pleased to have the opportunity, in the discussion of the Estimates, to mention a few matters that could not with advantage be referred to on other occasions. Before doing so, I should like to refer to the foolish part of the argument set up by Senator Stewart. He has spoken of the necessity for taxing out of existence what we have heard of so long as the economic rent of land, or the extra value given to it as the result of the application to it of the labour of the’ owner.
– If I have not heard that from Senator Stewart, I have heard it from Senator Grant.
– No, the honorable senator never did.
– I want to say, as a member of the Labour party-
– The honorable senator never did hear it from me. I see what his game is now.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Lynch has made a statement to the effect that I have said that I would be in favour of taxing the value which a man gives to his land by his labour. That statement is not in accordance with fact, and I claim that it should be withdrawn.
– If Senator Lynch has attributed to Senator Grant a statement which Senator Grant complains is inaccurate, he must, according to the Standing Orders, accept Senator Grant’s disclaimer. I ask Senator Lynch to accept Senator Grant’s denial of the statement attributed to him, and not to pursue that line of argument further.
Senator -LYNCH. - In order to comply with the Standing Orders, I accept Senator Grant’s denial, but it puts me at a loss to understand the real position which either Senator Grant or Senator Stewart takes on this matter. It is so indefinite that one would almost require a compass and chart to find it. I am surprised that any member of the Senate should take up such an insane attitude, and such a foolish and untenable position, as to propose to tax land to such an extent as would discourage settlement. The only effect would be to add to our city population by cutting away whatever attractions the country side at present offers to settlers.
– I do not think that is a fair inference from Senator Stewart’s remarks.
– I have heard these remarks many times.
– You are a liar, sir. You are trying to misrepresent me. I never said anything of the kind. You are telling a deliberate lie on the floor of the Senate.
– Will the honorable senator resume his seat? Senator Stewart has applied to Senator Lynch a term which the honorable senator must know is entirely out of order, and it must he withdrawn. From his long parliamentary experience the honorable senator must know that there is a correct way of expressing disapproval of any statement made by another honorable senator, and I, therefore, ask him to withdraw.
– So as to comply with the rules of parliamentary procedure, I withdraw the statement.
– I accept the withdrawal.
– I have your strength now.
– Probably I could deal more effectively with Senator Stewart in some other place than this.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not make a statement of that kind.
– I need only remind Senator Stewart that I did not have him in my mind when I referred to the matter. To tax land without regard to exemption would, in the end, destroy its attraction to the settler, and it would be altogether a suicidal policy, which T could not for one moment justify. I am well enough acquainted with the attitude of the party of which I am a member to know that there is no prospect of such a foolish action being adopted; but, at the same time, I recognise that there are men connected with our party who would carry that policy to an outrageous extent if they could, and I am pointing out that if we take such a foolish stand it will be the first step in the direction of disaster. However, that is not the subject upon which I rose to speak. I want to direct attention, during the course of this debate, to a certain action in connexion with the Home Affairs Department in calling tenders recently for work in which timber is employed. I do not say that the Minister is responsible for this, because probably it is the act of some subordinate official, and has been carried into effect without the knowledge of the Minister. I have in mind a glaring case in which tenders were called . in Western Australia for work which required native timber, and, strange to say, karri timber - which has been found most useful in the United Kingdom and also in the Commonwealth - was specially excluded in that particular contract. Karri has - 2 been used successfully for years in> Western Australia for work of a superstructural nature, and it has also been used by the Imperial Government with like success. The timber has stood the test of experience, both in Great Britain and Western Australia, but, notwithstanding its suitability, the Commonwealth Government lately - I refer to the Home; Affairs Department- in calling for tenders specially excluded its use. I am sure, however, that this is a matter which? needs only to be mentioned to be remedied!. The other point to which I desire to direct attention is one which was touched, upon in the Ministerial statement this morning. I refer to the use .being made? by the Defence Department of transport: ships for freight purposes. In view of the prospect, happily, of a very good harvest - perhaps the best harvest that we have ever had in this country - the problems of providing labour and transport will have to be considered. Shipping freights have gone up, perhaps, 200 per cent, om account of the scarcity of ships available for cargo purposes. Now the Minister of Defence mentioned to-day that these transport ships have been used with great advantage in carrying cargoes, and I hope the Defence Department will take into consideration the wisdom of utilizing them for the purpose of exporting tho surplus wheat to the markets of the world when the time comes. If some such action is not taken, the extra price which wheat will command, and which is looked forward to by those engaged in this industry to pay their debts as well as to provide for some comforts, will be swallowed up by the extra freights to be paid for the carrying of the produce. I wish, therefore, to take this opportunity of impressing on the Government the wisdom of using those- transports, which, unfortunately, will be employed for some time in carrying our troops to Europe, for the. carriage of grain to the London markets
– I desire to say a few words in reply to Senator Millen’s’ statement regarding the instruction in rifle training of our Expeditionary Forces. A good deal of capital has been made out of a statement made by me - 1” saw no reason for concealing the fact - that two battalions were sent to Egypt without having undergone their musketry training in Australia. But I gave the reason then, and that was that the transports were here; they were costing us about £800 or £1,000 a day, and the men could be put through their musketry course in Egypt, where they were to be sent to complete their training. The General Officer Commanding was informed that these men had not done their field musketry, and the arrangement was that they were to be given this training in Egypt. Ill-advised persons - for what reason Heaven only knows - have, on that statement, been making the assertion that our men have been sent to the front without musketry training. There is absolutely no warrant for that statement, which is incorrect, misleading, and damaging. I cannot understand what actuates people who, when they get certain facts, at once commence to see if they can twist them into harmful statements. Senator Millen himself used the words that these men were sent to the front. When I corrected him be said he meant Egypt; but I would remind honorable senators that Egypt is not the front. As a matter of fact, all the troops, including even the divisions with which Senator Millen himself had a good deal to do, were sent to Egypt to complete their training. That there is a difficulty in giving rifle instruction I am prepared to admit, but we are endeavouring to meet it in one way. I have given instructions that members of rifle clubs who are proficient in the use of the rifle shall be utilized to the fullest extent in imparting instruction to the troops. Another thing we have had to do, and which I very much regret, is to recall 12,000 rifles loaned to the rifle clubs, our object being to have them fitted with magazines, because there will be a period when we shall require these rifles to give instruction to the men of the Expeditionary Forces in our camps, and who are going to the front. I have no doubt that that will draw an indignant protest from many rifle club members; but I have already made the statement public, so that they may know why the rifles are being withdrawn. In this matter of rifle, instruction there is something more to be done than merely shooting on a range; and for the information of members I might indicate what the course of musketry really is. Before a visit to the range at all, such instruction as target indication, distance judging, care of arms, &c, is imparted to men in the camp. Target indication means the indication of a target invisible to the naked eye. On such occasions, the instructor, with glasses, picks out, say, a tree which is visible to the naked eye, and from it indicates the invisible target to the men. The above being completed, the men are instructed on a miniature rifle range. Honorable senators who have read about the camps will know that since we shifted the camp to Seymour we ‘have provided miniature rifle ranges there, so that the men may get their A B C of musketry instruction without delay. Then, following that, instruction is given on an open range, where grouping, application, rapid firing and snap shooting are taught. Grouping means gaining familiarity with a rifle, and application means the direction of bullets to the target; while rapid firing means, as the objective, fifteen hits a minute; and snap shooting means shooting at a disappearing target. That is the course which the men are put through. It is not, as Senator Millen put it, to allow them merely to blaze away so many rounds. It is a progressive course, with . a definite end in view, and in this way the men become familiar with the rudimentary elements at the stage I have indicated.
– And if ‘ a man does not obtain a certain standard, he is put back, and has to go through it again ? ‘
– Yes. Until he has completed that course, he is not classed as efficient.
– The men do not get to the front until they are actually efficient ?
– No. They are depot troops when they go into training. That is to say, they are not organized into brigades until they are taken from the dep6t.
– In Egypt?
– No, here in Australia. When we are organizing a brigade, we take the men from the depot troops, and they do not go into the brigade until they are classed as efficient. If a man is not efficient, he will be left at the depot until he is.
– No man goes into the firing line until he is thoroughly efficient?
– In any case, Egypt may be regarded as a depot.
– Yes; and until the men are efficient they are not drafted from the depot into the brigade.
– There are a number of men who will never become efficient. Are they sent to the front?
– No, those men will then probably be drafted into the Army Medical Corps. With regard to the question of the effect of recruiting on the labour market, and the forthcoming wheat harvest, I do not approve of the idea of recruiting farmers, and then sending them out again from the camp to attend to the harvest. We would not gain anything by that. It would mean bringing them into camp for a month or six weeks, clothing and feeding them, and arranging for their transport, and then sending them home again until the harvest was over, when they would be brought into camp once more. They could not be reckoned, in the meantime, among the troops at our disposal. We have plenty of men coming forward in the camp to give us our necessary reinforcements.
– You could give these men from the farming districts some training in the meantime.
– Any man who is really anxious to secure training can get it by joining rifle clubs. That is being done by thousands in Australia to-day. I recognise the immense value of the coming harvest to Australia, but some things must be left to the State Government activities. There is on the Commonwealth Government an obligation to arrange that the surplus wheat and wool is carried over seas, and that the freight is not excessive. If we do that, we shall do something effective for the farmer. It is a big thing to do, and it will tax all our resources and energies to do it. The State Parliaments, with their Labour and Agricultural Departments, are best fitted to cope with the harvesting of the crop. They can organize labour for the purpose, and I believe they will do it.. I understand they are making preparations now for the purpose. Senator Millen touched on one of the most important groups of industries when he referred to the metal industry. Australia is one of the greatest producers of the raw material in metals, and one of the smallest of the manufactured article. It is one of the biggest exporters of the raw material, and one of the greatest importers of the manufactured article. The Commonwealth Government, in accordance with the pledges made at the opening of Parliament, set about an investigation of this question, and found themselves handcuffed by the world-wide monopoly governed by German influence and controlled by German men and money. Germany had outwitted every nation on earth in its monopolizing of the metallic trade. We had to do in our Enemy Contracts Bill what neither Great Britain nor any of her Allies have done. By that measure we nullified, so far as Australia is concerned, the contracts which were crippling and making futile our efforts. But the product has been sold hitherto over-seas, and the contracts extend over-seas, where we have no control over them. We have asked the British Government to take the same action as we have taken here. They have not done so. We are not to blame for that. If we are to commence the manufacture of these things here, we must have some guarantee that the producers of the mineral here are in a position to cooperate effectively with us in the manufacture. That is what we are endeavouring to obtain. The Attorney-General has made this his particular work, and is dealing with it very effectively. It cannot be done in a day, a week, or a month; but we are determined that we shall do everything we can to establish the manufacture of these secondary industries, which are dependent on our metallic industries. The Munitions Committee now sitting is also taking evidence, and making certain propositions in this connexion. We find that there are certain manufactures of copper required for shells. Their manufacture has never been undertaken in the Commonwealth, although other kinds of copper have been made here. There s;»sms to be no reason why they should not be made here, and we are endeavouring lo find out whether the people who produce copper manufactures will undertake to put in the necessary plant to make them also. There are any number of works in the Commonwealth which could be extended to begin the manufacture of these things. We have submitted to the Chamber of Manufactures a list of articles that we have always had to import. Such things as pocket knives seem to have been beyond the capacity of Australians to manufacture. They have always been imported, although there has been a duty on them. After the war began, we found it impossible to supply our troops with the pocket knives required. An Australian manufacturer set to work, and now makes just as good1 a knife as we have been importing, so that we are now able to supply our troops with an Australian pocket knife. There is quite a list of articles, small in themselves, but still amounting to a respectable sum in the aggregate, which, for instance, in the Defence Department had always to be imported. The local article could not be obtained because it did not exist. Many of these are now being made by people in Australia, who find, much to their own surprise, that they can make them -quite as well as they are made elsewhere. We are paying for them, perhaps, more than we ‘did before, but we are getting a good article, and that principle can be extended. Senator de Largie referred to the appointment of Colonel Pethebridge as Administrator of German New Guinea. In my opinion it was a very fortunate appointment, because, up to the time of his appointment, we had nothing hut trouble there, and we have had no trouble since. His administration has been a thorough success.
– I did not question his administration.
– I know. I do not think German New Guinea, or the whole of the Islands, could be successfully administered at present from one centre. We have not annexed German New Guinea, nor could we do so until the end of the war. It will have to be determined between the Allies at the end of the war to whom that country shall belong. Great Britain has given her word that the disposition of territory shall be left for settlement amongst the Allies afterwards. German New Guinea is only under military occupation. Papua, on the other hand. belongs to us. It is carried on under an Act of the Commonwealth, and is, therefore, under an entirely different system of government. Under military occupation the law is that you maintain existing institutions, and it would net be advisable, while the difference in the systems of Government continues, to have the one Administrator administering the two territories.
– Could not Judge Murray, who is a military man, administer German New Guinea just as well as Colonel Pethebridge ?
– Certainly, if he was taken away from Papua; but his place there would have to be filled, and I do not know what advantage we should] gain by that.
– The advantage that Colonel Pethebridge would be left in the position that he is best fitted to fill.
– That is an argument against Colonel Pethebridge having been sent there. I understood Senator de Largie to argue that the two territories could have been administered by the one person.
– Judge Murray could have been sent there, as it is only a temporary position, so far as we know.
– Then we should have had to fill Judge Murray’s position temporarily in Papua.
– A civil official could do that work.
– No doubt Colonel Pethebridge’s services would have been very valuable to us at the Defence Department, but I must pay Mr. Trumble the tribute of saying that he has filled the position of Acting Secretary quite as well as any other gentleman could have filled it, not even excepting Colonel Pethebridge.
– If that is so, then Colonel Pethebridge has been superfluousall through.
– That is not a fair inference, because Mr. Trumble was Chief Clerk, and is now Acting Secretary, and another man has been moved up to his place. I do not say that we have not lost by Colonel Pethebridge’s absence, but Mr. Trumble has discharged the duties of Acting Secretary as well as any man
Gould be expected to do. I ought to be the first to complain, if anybody, at the taking away of a senior officer, but I say that, in the circumstances, the right thing was done, and I .should be the last to advocate the making of a change, at any rate, during the period of the war.
– We can only conclude that there were too many officers there in high positions, if they can ,be done without during the war.
– Are there not the same number there now ?
– There are more. We have brought in temporarily a senior officer from the Home Affairs Department. Senator Lynch referred to the action of the Home Affairs Department is excluding powellised karri timber-
– Matters of detail con’ be dealt with more effectively in Committee.
– I would ask the honorable senator to raise the question in Committee, when Senator Russell will be able to deal with it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
The following paper was presented: - High Commissioner, Fifth Annual Report.
Senate adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150716_senate_6_77/>.