6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Alleged Treachery - Percentage of Recruits in States and to Eligible Population - Wounded Soldiers - Rejected Volunteers - Increased Training Staff and Camp Accommodation - Non-Delivery of Letters.
– Relative to the allegation in the press some time ago as to the sniping of officers by soldiers who had left here, can the Minister of Defence say whether any further inquiries have been made, and if so, there has been any result from them?
– In a message transmitted to the Melbourne press from Reuter’s correspondent, Cairo, dated 7th June, an allegation was made that an Australian captain, born in Australia, of German parentage, had been discovered sniping our officers, and also that whilst the troops were in Cairo several menwere placed under suspicion as spies. Inquiries were at once instituted in the matter, and the following reply was received a few days ago from the Officer Commanding the Intermediate Base Depot, Cairo: -
Head-quarters, Egypt, states -
Nothing knownof any men placed under suspicion as spies while troops in Cairo.
A further telegram has now come to hand, reading as follows: -
Head-quarters, Australian, New Zealand Army Corps, reports there is no foundation for report that Australian captain, born in Australia, of German parentage, found sniping our officers.
– Referring to the return presented the other day showing the percentage of recruits to the population in the several States, has the Minister of Defence yet looked into the matter to see whether the figures for New South Wales had taken into account the fact that for military purposes portions of that State are attached to other States?
– I have not yet had a reply to the inquiry, but I will try to expedite it.
– Can the Minister of Defence say whether a further batch of wounded soldiers is shortly to arrive in Australia by the s.s. Ballarat, and, if so, can he tell the Senate what kind pf reception, if any, will be tendered to the men by members of the public or civic authorities 1
– A further batch of returning soldiers, including some wounded men, is due to arrive shortly by the Ballarat. I have made a statement to-day in regard to this matter. The Government desire to give every facility for a suitable welcome and appreciation to be shown by the citizens to the soldiers for the services they have rendered to the Empire, but we do not feel that the Defence Department is the best body to carry out arrangements in regard to a welcome. I have issued an instruction to the Commandants that they are to cooperate and assist in every way possible representative or public bodies of citizens who desire to tender such a welcome. It is necessary that local bodies should consult the Commandant, for the reason that many of the soldiers would probably be seriously injured if they were subjected to noise and excitement without the medical officer having been first consulted with regard to each of them being able to participate in such a demonstration. I have made that view public, so that the various bodies who desire to tender a welcome can get in touch with the Commandant, and the arrangements can be made in accordance with their desires in co-operation with him.
– Can the Minister of Defence give the Senate any information as to the number of men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years who are eligible for service in the United Kingdom, and the percentage of such number either at the front or in training for the front, and the same information in regard to Australia?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question, but I am certain that the War Office will not disclose the number of men at the front, and I am very doubtful if they will disclose the number of men recruited. I suggest to the honorable senator, from my knowledge, that it will not be worth while for him to pursue the matter.
– I will not pursue the question.
– In view of the fact that many rejected volunteers are being taunted, particularly by women, with having shown the white feather because they have not gone to the front, will the Minister consider, or has he considered, the advisability of giving such men a distinguishing mark or badge, so that it can be seen at once that at least they have tried to do their duty to the country?
– All men have been given a certificate to show that they have volunteered, been medically examined, and have been rejected for medical reasons, but it is not considered that the Department should give a badge. The certificate contains the name of the recipient, and, therefore, there is some guarantee that the holder. is a person who did volunteer and was rejected. But a badge could be passed from hand to hand, and there would be no guarantee that the badges would not be traded away, and, therefore, it is not thought necessary or advisable that that distinguishing mark should be adopted. Each volunteer now receives a certificate, and can produce it if he feels it necessary to do so.
– The suggestion discloses another of the beauties of the voluntary system.
– A little time ago I brought under the notice of the Minister of Defence the question of the increased training staff and accommodation necessary for the number of recruits enrolling in Victoria, and his answer was entirely satisfactory as applying to this State. In view of the fact that the recruiting period is about to commence in New South “Wales, can he say whether arrangements for an increased number of recruits have been made there?
– This matter has been brought by me before the various members of the Military Board, and, to my knowledge, each member has issued to his particular Department in each State instructions that arrangements are to be made for the future with the view to a large increase in the number of recruits offering. They are instructed to make the necessary arrangements for the reception of the recruits, so that they will not be overwhelmed when the men come along.
– Are we to assume from the answer that arrangements have been, or are being, made which will be satisfactory to meet the anticipated largely increased number?
– No system is fool-proof, and the defence system, I suppose, has the same average number of fools as any other system. I cannot prophesy that all instructions will be carried out, because I know of many instances where instructions have not been carried out. These instructions have been issued to all the States, and I must assume, without evidence to the contrary, that the Commandants are acting on them. They should do so for their own protection.
– Do you indorse the suggestion that recruiting week should be postponed ? That would be very undesirable.
– I have made no suggestion to that effect.
– It has been made.
– It has not been made with authority. The members of the Military Board assure me that they see no reason why we should not be able to cope with any reasonable requirements in that direction. The experience in Victoria gives us ground for believing that the authorities will be able to cope with it. The staff in Victoria has done wonders, considering the large number of men who have come in at short notice, and in view, also, of its depleted condition. This gives us reason to hope that the staffs in other States will prove equal to the occasion also.
– Has the Minister of Defence received any information in regard to the delay in the transmission of correspondence and its non-receipt by soldiers in camps in the various States - a matter to which I drew attention some time ago?
– I have received no reports on the subject, but shall endeavour to expedite them. The matter had to be referred to another Department.
– Have the Government taken into consideration the advisableness of adjourning the Senate on Thursday so that honorable senators may attend Australia Day functions in the various States?
– I had a conversation with the Prime Minister to-day on the subject. We are endeavouring to* arrange that what the honorable senator suggests shall be done. I shall make a further statement later in the sitting.
– Does the Minister know whether the various State authorities are making Australia Day a holiday in the public schools; and if it is not too late, will he consider the advisableness of submitting a respectful suggestion to them to that effect?
– I shall have inquiries made during the course of the day, and bring the honorable senator’s suggestion under the notice of the Prime Minister.
– Will the Minister of Defence see that the necessary leave of absence is given to any soldiers desirous of returning to their respective towns to take part in Australia Day festivities ?
– I shall instruct the Commandants that, wherever possible, such leave be granted.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Defence : Expeditionary Camps, Queensland. - Expenditure for forage to 30th June, 1915.
Report on the Administration of the British National Relief Fund to 31st March, 1915.
Report of Royal Commission on Mail Services and Trade Development between Australia and the New Hebrides.
Public Service Act 1902-1013. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 127, 128, 129.
Norfolk Island - Ordinances of 1915 -
No. 4 - Executive Council. No. 5 - Executive Council (No. 2).
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1913. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 42, 56, 57, 58, 79, 80, 93, 106.
War Precautions Act 1914-1915. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 119.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers are : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he inform the Senate when the cruiser Brisbane is expected to be launched ?
– About 15th September.
Nurses’ Uniforms - Bonus on Recruits - Earnings by Transports - Conveyance of Wounded Soldiers - Supply of Fodder.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
If nurses going abroad with the Expeditionary Forces are obliged to purchase their uniforms from one firm, and, if so, what arrangement exists between the firm and the Department ?
– No. Sealed patterns are availablein all States, and nurses are at liberty to purchase their uniforms from any firm they wish. It is understood that many have made their own uniforms.
– Is the Minister aware that a circular has been sent out to nurses, advising them that they are to obtain their uniforms from this one firm?
– No. I should be glad if the honorable senator could let me have a copy of that circular, which has been issued without authority, and in direct contravention of orders from head-quarters.
– I am informed that nurses have been verbally instructed to go to certain firms.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it correct that members of the Police Force in New South Wales have been paid, and are being paid by the Government of that State, or any State authority, 10s. for each man they can induce to enlist in the Expeditionary Forces?
– It is understood that the New South Wales Government allow members of the police force a capitation fee for extra duties performed in connexion with securing recruits. This action was taken voluntarily by the New South Wales Government.
– Is the Minister in a position to say whether the sum paid by the New South Wales Government for each recruit obtained is 10s. ?
– I understand that is so.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he give an explanation of the discrepancy between his statement that the earnings by the transports were about £230,000, and that of the Minister for the Navy that they were about £1,000,000?
– The figures given by me were given from memory, and I had in my mind. the earnings of captured German cargo ships not used for transports, which I understand is about that amount. The figures given by the Minister for the Navy should be taken as the total earnings.
– That includes the former amount?
– Yes. - Senator MAUGHAN asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a paragraph in the Melbourne Herald of 22nd inst. in reference to the alleged “ disgraceful “ railway carriage accommodation provided for the conveyance to Queensland of wounded soldiers who arrived in the Kyarra?
– This matter is now the subject of an inquiry, the result of which will be duly notified.
asked the Minis ter of Defence, upon notice -
– This matter is now the subject of an inquiry, the result of which will be duly notified.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
United Labourers Union
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Home Affairs states that the Secretary of the United Labourers Union has made various charges and requests to the Department, which have been dealt with. The Minister found that his officers were not employing non-unionists, and although he was not able to grant all that was asked, he approved of an extra1s. per diem being paid to certain labourers employed by the Department at Broadmeadows.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In dealing with the first War Loan Bill, I referred in some detail to this measure. The object of the measure is to authorize the borrowing of £6,500,000 from the Government of the United Kingdom. I direct attention to the fact that Government in connexion with this loan have anticipated the authorization of Parliament. Shortly after the borrowing of the loan of £18,000,000 from the Imperial Government, they cabled out to ask what would be the war requirements of the Government of the Commonwealth, and also their requirements in regard to certain public works. This Government at the time, in January last, replied that they could do with £6,500,000 for war expenditure, and £3,500,000 for expenditure on public works and railways. A little later the Imperial Government cabled that they were prepared to lend the amount of £6,500,000 for war expenditure, but struck out the amount of £3,500,000 for railways and public works. The Commonwealth Government accepted the offer of the Imperial Government without the authority of Parliament, and it is necessary to pass the Bill to authorize their action.
– This is really an indemnity Bill?
– That is so. The amount covered by this Bill is being borrowed on the same terms and conditions as the £18,000,000 loan. That is to say, the Government of the Old Country included the amount required by the Commonwealth in their own Loan Bill, and will charge us for the money we obtain the rates they have to pay for their own loan. We are not able so far to say exactly what this money will cost. Of the total amount we have received in monthly instalments £3,600,000, so that £2,900,000 has yet to be received. I do not purpose to deal at greater length with the measure, in view of the fact that the terms and conditions are similar to those of the previous loan.
Senator STEWART (Queensland) £3.27]. - I expected that the Leader of the Opposition would get up in his place and give his blessing to this measure, because it is quite contrary to the policy of the party with which he is connected to oppose any proposal for the borrowing of money.
– - The honorable senator’s party is pretty good at it.
– Yes, I must admit that there is not much doubt about that. I do not rise for the purpose of opposing this loan, because I know perfectly well that in the present circumstances of Australia we must get money from somewhere. The country is in extremity, and our whole national existence is practically in the melting-pot. If there is money to be found, we must get it for the prosecution of the war. Honorable senators must not overlook the fact that money is as essential as men to the conduct of the war. We hear a great deal about the unwillingness of the young men of Australia, and also of Great Britain, to come forward and take part in the prosecution of this great campaign. They are called “slackers” and “ shirkers,” are presented with white feathers, and dismissed from their employment with the intimation that, while they are not needed in their present position, there is plenty of room for “them at the front.
– They are not slow in Australia about going to the front.
– I am not confining my remarks entirely to Australia on the present occasion, because we are borrowing this money from the Home Government, and I think it is quite within the compass of the measure to refer in a passing way to what is going on in the Old Country. Here we have a slightly modified condition of the same thing. Our young men are being invited on all hands to come forward, and place themselves in the breach so as to save the country, the people of the country, and the possessions of those who have possessions in Australia. My contention is that we might very well make the same appeal to the capitalist. We should place “him on exactly the same footing as the men we ask to go to the front. Let us contrast the position of the British
Tommy “ with that of the British capitalist. The British Tommy is being dragged to the western front and to the Dardanelles, where he receives the very handsome sum of ls. per day. For that extravagant amount he is expected to leave his probably fairly profitable occupation, to endure great hardships, and possibly to sacrifice his life in the interests of his country. If he does not do that he is condemned as a “ slacker,” a “shirker,” and a disloyalist; and there are many persons in Great Britain, and outside of it, who would seize him and compel him to go to the front.
– But it cannot be done all the same.
– I say that there are many persons who would do such a thing by force of law. In this great crisis in the Empire’s history the capitalist should be placed in no better position than is the man who goes to the front and risks his life.
– But the honorable senator does not want the capitalist to go to the front?
– I wish to warn the honorable senator that I am not going to take notice of his stupid interjections. Seeing that the existence of the British Empire is at stake, I am claiming that in the prosecution of this war the capitalist should be placed upon exactly the same level as the man who goes to the front. I have pointed out that the men who go to the front from Great Britain lose in a very great measure, so far as their financial and social position is concerned, and incur the additional risk of sacrificing their lives. The war places them in a much worse position than they occupied previously. Ninety-five per cent, of those who go to the front are in a very much worse position there than they occupied as private citizens. But what is the position of the capitalist? The common soldier is sacrificing a very great deal, but what is the capitalist sacrificing? Absolutely nothing ! He is not only sacrificing nothing, but he is profiting to a very great extent by the war. As a citizen of the British Empire, and certainly as a citizen of Australia, I protest against any such treatment being meted out to one section of the community, whilst an absolutely opposite treatment is being extended to another section. I think that the Commonwealth Government, and more especially the Commonwealth Treasurer, missed the greatest opportunity that has ever been presented either to him or to any other Treasurer in a British community. At the present juncture it was quite possible, I think, to have placed these war loans upon a fair business footing. What I would suggest is that the capitalist, just like the common soldier, should gain nothing from the war. Why is the war being prosecuted? Not merely to defend our lives and liberty, but to defend the possessions of the capitalist class - their lands, their goods, their money, their stock; in short, everything they value. That being so, I think they should be called upon not merely not to profit by the war, but to suffer just as other people are suffering. I said a moment ago that the Treasurer of the Commonwealth had an opportunity to place the capitalists of this country on a proper footing. Had he made an appeal to the patriotism of the people in connexion with the Commonwealth loan of £20,000,000, that appeal would have been successful.
– The honorable senator means a loan without interest?
– Unfortunately for Australia and the British Empire the Treasurer of the Commonwealth did not rise to the occasion. The Leader of the Opposition says, “A loan without interest.” The honorable senator might have waited until I had had time to state exactly what I meant.
– I merely wished to know wherein the honorable senator’s proposal differs from that of the Government.
– I will tell the honorable senator what my proposal is if he will exercise a little patience. I know that it will not suit him. He is the leader in this chamber of the party which represents the money-lending section of the community, and anything in the nature of my proposal will not be acceptable to him. What I suggest is that the capitalist should not gain anything from this war. The rate of interest on money prior to the outbreak of the struggle ranged between 3 and 3½ per cent. I think that that rate ought to be quite sufficient for a war loan. I have shown that the common soldier, by going to the front, is not only not benefiting himself, but is absolutely losing. Why should not the capitalist be placed on exactly the same footing? Our Australian war loan, at 4½ per cent., is absolutely the best investment in the Commonwealth at the present moment. There is no other gilt-edged security here which is yielding more than per cent. That is not a proper state of affairs to exist. The capitalist should be placed on exactly the same footing as the soldier who goes to the front. He should get no advantage from the war. He would be receiving quite sufficient on the Commonwealth war loan if he were paid the ordinary rate of interest which prevailed prior tothe outbreak of the war. The Treasurer ought to have appealed to the patriotism of the people and to the subscribers of the loan to forego interest during the period of the war. That is the second proposal that I would make. My third proposition is that the subscribers to the Commonwealth loan should also forego interest upon it for a period of five years after the war. That would bea perfectly fair and business-like procedure.
– Order! I havelistened carefully to the honorable senator for some time, and I would point out that, whilst his remarks are very interesting and instructive, they are not applicable to this Bill. On the last day of sitting we had a War Loan Bill before us which related to the raising of money in Australia, and to whichthe honorable senator’s remarks would have been applicable. If on that occasion he missed his opportunity–
– That was the fault of the Government and of Senator de Largie.
– If the honorable senator missed his opportunity on that occasion, the fault is not mine. I must interpret the Standing Orders, and, consequently, I must ask the honorable senator to confine himself strictly to the subjectmatter of the Bill.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish, sir, to draw your attention to the fact that Senator Stewart, by way of interjection, affirmed that I am responsible for the fact that he lost his opportunity to speak upon the War Loan Bill on Friday last. I can assure Senator Stewart that I am not.
– That is not a point of order.
– Is SenatorStewart in order in making that interjection?
– If the honorable senator assures me that he regards the interjection as personally offensive, I will ask Senator Stewart to withdraw it.
– I do.
– Certainly, I withdraw it.
– The honorable gentleman’s proposal would apply to the rate of interest in the State Savings Banks?
– Let me inform the honorable senator that he is decidedly in error in stating that my remarks would apply in the direction indicated. I am dealing now with .money which is being raised for war purposes, and the honorable gentleman knows perfectly that the State Savings Banks have nothing whatever to do with money raised for that purpose. In any case, Mr. President, I think I can very well connect some of my remarks with the present Loan Bill. For instance, the rate of interest has not been fixed yet, and it is not known what that rate will be. I think the British Government, from whom we are borrowing this money, would have been well advised if they had adopted a policy somewhat like that which I have outlined, but, unfortunately for the people of Great Britain and the people of Australia, the present British Government are animated by exactly the same principles as my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, and the party with which he is associated. It is well known that a certain number of men make huge sums of money out of every war, and, indeed, on some occasions they have been accused of fomenting war for the purpose of making a profit out of it. The time has come when the people of every country ought to take a much more intimate interest in these matters than they have hitherto. One of the first cares of every community, and, I think, more especially of a British community, is to see that no man or no set of men, no institution, and no combine is permitted to make profit out of the misfortunes of any country. No one should be allowed to profit from the misfortunes of others anywhere, and more especially in connexion with such a vital matter as that which we now have under consideration. As I have said, we do not know the interest we are to pay for this loan, but we do know that we shall have to pay some interest, because the British Government have never yet entered upon what I would call a democratic system in managing these war loans. The British Government are largely composed of capitalists, or of men who have huge interests, and who, if they are not capitalists themselves, are associated with capitalists, or are the tools of and manipulators of capitalists, so that one can never expect anything in the way of a reformation in connexion with these matters from men of that stamp. It will not be outside the privilege or the right of the Commonwealth Parliament to make a suggestion to the British Government in this connexion. We are borrowing from the British Government, and surely we are entitled to make such suggestions as we may from time to time think desirable.
– We are not bound to accept the money if we do not want it or do not like the terms.
– I agree with the honorable senator that we are not bound to accept the money on the terms upon which it is offered, and I think the money might very well be raised in Australia, but, unfortunately, so we have been told, the money has already been spent, although we do not know what interest we shall have to pay for it. I think, therefore, the Senate might very well initiate a departure in connexion with this matter.
– I may have misled the honorable ‘senator when I said the interest was not known. The British calculation makes the loan work out at about £4 3s.
– In any case, the honorable gentleman said he did not know exactly how much interest we would have to pay. Unfortunately, the British Government, like the Australian Government, did not rise to the occasion. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd George, with all his flamboyance of utterance, has never done anything of any particular value so far as the people of Great Britain and the Empire are concerned. This was also his opportunity, but he failed to grasp it.
– Do not lose yours.
– I am trying to utilize it to the fullest extent, and I trust that the honorable gentleman, who is one of the representatives of the Labour party of South Australia, will see that here is a chance for the Labour party to distinguish itself, seeing that it claims to be the pioneer in social and economic reform. Capitalists who find the money to prosecute a war ought not to be placed in any better position than the soldier who goes to the front and sacrifices, perhaps, his life, in the defence of hia country. Taking this Loan Bill as an illustration, no one can say that the capitalist is not placed in a better position than the common soldier. He is undoubtedly, and why ? He is in a better position for no other reason than that, so far as Great Britain is concerned, he sits in the seat of power. Great Britain is ruled, not by the people, but by a limited number of aristocrats, and political and money magnates.
– Who rules in Australia ?
– The people are supposed to rule.
– Aud yet this Government have come to the same .conclusion as the Imperial Government in connexion with this loan.
– Unfortunately, what the honorable gentleman says is quite true, and I think it is a decided blemish on the Labour party, which nothing will ever wash out, that the Labour Government of Australia did not initiate some such system as I have outlined. At least it ought to have been the object of the Government to place money and men engaged in this war on exactly the same footing. That ought to have been their object if they had been true to their professions, but they were not. The Treasurer never said a word about it, and neither did any member of the Government. They were dumb on this matter. They might just as well have been a plutocratic Government as a Labour Government, for no plutocratic Government would have done more or worse than the Labour Government in Australia. They had no new suggestion to make; nothing but the old system which binds us hand and foot, and places us, shackled, in the hands of the capitalists. Here we are now paying £4 3s. per cent, for this money. A short time ago money in Great Britain was very much cheaper. Why 1 Because there was no war on ; but now that a war has come about, the price of money has risen. The British Government might very well have taken the course which I have indicated here to-day. And I think that the Commonwealth Government, seeing that it did not grasp the opportunity when it ought to have done so, might well make the suggestion to the British Go vernment. Somebody must do it. This is one common Empire; we are all in the soup now, and surely we have a voice here just as they have a voice there. We are told that if Britain goes down, Australia will go down. Britain is crying out to us for men, munitions and money; and that being the case, I think that we here, if we think that a certain course is the proper one, have every right to at least suggest that course to the British Government. Everybody must suffer; everybody is suffering owing to the war, and in Great Britain I believe that the suffering is very much more acute than it is in Australia. I have pointed out that the “ Tommies “ are going to the front, and dying there by the thousand, for the magnificent sum of twelve pence per day; while, in contradistinction to that, the capitalist is actually getting more interest for his money than ever he received before, and is not risking his own skin. Surely there is something in that state of affairs which is not in harmony with the great note of progress which has been sounded for years, by the Labour party. I did expect something else from a Labour Government in Australia than to be served in exactly the same fashion as we would have been if a capitalistic Government had been in power. But it is not too late. I think that the Senate may take advantage of its position and make such amendments in the Bill as will, at least, have the effect of bringing the matter fairly and definitely before the British Government. What I suggest is that the rate of interest should be fixed at what it was before the war, that the payment of interest should be suspended during the, war, and that after the war for a period to be fixed, say three or five years, no interest should be paid. Some honorable senators may ask why the capitalist, who finds the money to prosecute the war, and without which the war could not be conducted, is to be penalized in this fashion. But I ask where does the penalization come in. The people of Great Britain and of the Empire are fighting, for what? They are fighting to preserve intact the capitalist’s property. We talk about freedom and all that sort of thing just as we please; but we know perfectly well that what the war is being waged for is the preservation of property. Thatbeing the case, I say that the capitalist, should be called on to contribute his due share towards the cost of the war. In- deed, if I had my way, I would go a great deal further than 1 have indicated to-day.
– Hear, hear! Go the whole hog.
– Instead of borrowing money from people for the purpose of carrying on a war, I would take it. I would have a wealth tax and take the money. We take the men. The honorable senator says, ironically, “ Hear, hear.”
– How do you know that it was said ironically?
– I know perfectly well that it was. The honorable senator may try to sneak out just as much as he likes, but he cannot sneak out from me. Hansard will not tell the people outside what he means, but I know.
– How do you know?
– I know perfectly well.
– You are a bit of a thought-reader.
– Yes ; I have to be that as well as a. number of other things.
– Perhaps you can tell us how much in interest and dividends you are drawing during the war.
– I would like to tell the honorable senator that I am not a bit inquisitive as to other people’s affairs. I was sent here not to pry into the private business of my fellow senators, but to try to contribute some little share towards the good government of this Commonwealth. Why should not the capitalist be asked to make the contribution I suggest to our national defence? Everybody, whether he is in Great Britain or South Africa, or Australia, or even India, is called upon to do something. None of us gains through the war except the capitalist. He is placed in a position of distinction simply because he is the Government. If he is the Government in Australia he ought not to be. Really I need not be surprised at the action taken by the Government, for I find, from the statement of the Treasurer, that, when he wanted counsel, he went into the ranks of the enemy to get it. He went amongst the men who are deeply interested in continuing the present system. He went to the professional money-lenders.
– That statement is hardly correct. He called the bankers together to ask how much money they could lend.
– He asked them a number of other things.
– That matter does not arise out of this Bill, I would remind the honorable senator.
– I will not pursue that matter further. But I submit to the Senate that we ought to try to put the war loans on a better footing. All that I ask is that the capitalist shall not be allowed to profit by the war. Now he does profit by the war in connexion with this Bill. We will have to pay at least 1 per cent. more for the money than we ought to pay. Interest will have to be paid during the currency of the war, and for every year after the war until the capital sum has been paid back. We ought to adopt some other plan. We ought to get the interest fixed at the lowest possible amount. The capitalist should not be allowed to profit by our condition of war, and the payment of interest should be suspended. What I have indicated is the course which ought to be pursued in connexion with every war loan for the reasons which I have already given, and which I do not need to repeat. I trust that other honorable senators hold similar views to mine, and if there is a sufficient number, probably when the Bill goes into Committee we may be able to formulate an amendment which will give a hint to the British Government as to the ideas which are in the minds of at least some members of the Australian Parliament.
– The British Government has not fixed any rate of interest in connexion with this loan.
– We have been told since that the rate of interest is about £4 3s. per cent.
– All along I have understood that the rate of interest had not been fixed by the British Government.
– That is what I understand at any rate. I think that the rate is too high. I do not know whether the honorable senator was in the chamber when I was speaking. All that I claim is that the capitalist - and I am sure that the honorable senator will agree with me in this - should make no profit out of the war. If the rate of interest before the war was 3 per cent., it ought to be that rate now. I think that the payment of interest should be suspended for a number of years, because everybody is suffering. We shall suffer more as time goes by unless I am very much mistaken, and, if that is the case, then one class in the community, and that the most independent class of all, should not be allowed to profit. That is all that I have to say on the subject. I, of course, support the motion for the second reading, because I believe that the money has not only been obtained, but has been spent.
– Are you going to support the second reading after your speech ?
– What can I do ?
– There- is evidently one thing which you cannot do, and that is be consistent.
– I was merely making suggestions. The money has been obtained, and spent, and what can be done?
– It has not been spent.
– The Minister told us that the money has been spent.
– I desire to point out to the honorable senator sitting behind me that the principle of the Bill, if it contains any principle, is the sum of £6,500,000. I said at the beginning of my speech that I did not object to the borrowing of. money at the present crisis. In fact, we cannot do without money. We can no more do without money than we can do without men.
– Why call the Government plutocratic if you recognise that borrowing is inevitable?
– What I object to is the rate of interest and the payment of interest during the currency of the war, -and for a defined period after its conclusion, so that the Leader of the Opposition can see clearly now, if he did not before, that I am quite consistent.
– I cannot.
– I do not regard consistency as a virtue. I would be inconsistent if I thought it suited my book, but on the present occasion I think that I am quite consistent, and will vote for the second reading of the measure.
– One has a little difficulty in understanding the position of Senator Stewart, because whilst he claims that the Government is following the instructions of a plutocratic Government, he arrives at the conclusion that he must bow to the inevitable, aud vote for the measure. The Commonwealth, so far as it has gone, is in the position of a capitalist. May I remind the honorable senator that, while directly we pay heavy rates of interest on loans, indirectly we have not yet paid a penny by way of interest in regard to this war? Whilst we are advised by Senator Stewart to go in for some system whereby we shall get money without interest, I believe that the determination of this Government is - with the direct backing of every mau, woman, and child in Australia, I think - that the war shall be prosecuted to a successful issue. We have accepted our share of responsibility in the struggle. I hold certain theories in common with Senator Stewart, but I am not prepared to tell” the people of Australia that the best way to win the war is to open a Commonwealth Bank, so to speak, and ask all the patriots to give us money without interest. I wonder how much the Government would realize. I regret, with the. honorable senator, that the people, and even the capitalists themselves, have not yet reached that stage. But the Government have to be practical. We have to get our soldiers to the front, and obtain munitions for the war, and money has to be found for those purposes. We have probably done as well in proportion to our capacity and population as has any other Government. So far, in regard to the war, we have spent about £13,000,000. May I remind Senator Stewart that we have issued Australian notes to the value of £35,000,000 without paying one copper by way of interest?
– I know all about that.
– Surely that source is not inexhaustible. Surely we are not going to continue to use that agency. We are not a plutocratic Government. We have put into actual operation embanking principles and our theories regarding a note issue. We have applied them up to the point which we believe to be safe, for it would not do to exhaust the last pound of the note issue.
Having carried out the democratic theories which we believe to be both sound and practical, we recognise that we have now to appeal for outside assistance if we are to successfully conduct the war. Therefore, whatever difference there may be between Senator Stewart and the Government in these matters, it is not fair or just for the Government to be now termed plutocratic by one of its own supporters. We have been able to estimate from unofficial reports that the loan will cost us about £4 3s. per cent., but we are not prepared to make an official statement to that effect until the information is confirmed by the. British Government. That has not been done up to date.
– As this is part of the loan raised last year by the British Government are they not pretty slow?
– We are not running the British Government. In view of all the circumstances, the total of the note issue, and the good use made of it, the Government acted wisely and well in accepting the offer of the British Government in this case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The rate of interest, the date of repayment, and the form of security issued, in respect of borrowings under this Act, may be such as are approved by the Governor-General.
Amendment (by Senator Stewart) proposed -
Thatall the words after “ interest “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ shall be three per centum, and no interest shall be paid or payable during the war or for a period of five years thereafter.”
– I trust the Committee will give short shrift to the amendment. The British Government, when floating a big loan, asked us whether we required any money. They practically took us into a junior partnership, the money to cost us the same as it cost them. They treated us very generously, yet Senator Stewart asks us now to repudiate a solemn compact with them. If we could have borrowed money cheaper or on better terms elsewhere, we should have readily done so, but those of us who have been in close contact with affairs recently, are indeed thankful for what the British Government offered to do, and succeeded in doing, for us on that occasion.
– With all my respect for Senator Stewart’s intellectual powers, and the financial knowledge with which he is credited, I am astounded at his proposal, which amounts to blank repudiation of an agreement, and of the terms entered into with capitalists in the United Kingdom by the British Government, from which that Government is deriving no profit on its own account. The honorable senator’s position is tantamount to that of a man who gets an overdraft from a banker and attempts to dictate to the banker the rate of interest he shall pay to the people from whom he receives the money. The amendment is preposterous, and outside the bounds of common sense.
– I realize that it is hopeless to expect to carry the amendment, seeing that the money has been not only borrowed, but portion of it spent. I am, however, going to support the amendment as a protest against the action of money-lenders in general who are advancing money to the Commonwealth for war purposes. Other sections of the community do not have their incomes and wages increased as soon as war breaks out. Two hundred thousand men were temporarily locked-out recently in the coal-mining districts of South Wales, owing to their request for a slight increase in payment for their labour being refused, but eighty coal-owners in South Wales had made millions since the outbreak of the war out of the increased price of coal, which had jumped from 16s. to 42s. per ton. The system followed by those operating in the money markets of the world is unpatriotic, un-British, and un-Australian. Can the Minister state whether the brokerage expenses on this loan amounted to¼ per cent., the rate which the brokers in Australia are charging the Government for the flotation of the Commonwealth war loan? The stockbrokers, members of the stock exchanges, money lenders, and capitalists generally, who have control of the money market, are the people who sing “Rule, Britannia” and “God save the King” three times a day.
– This was a big loan, raised in England for British war purposes, and we were allowed a certain portion of it.
– I am entering my protest against the system which enables capitalists to obtain bigger profits, better terms, and larger incomes in time of war than in time of peace.
– Have not many of their securities been injured by the war?
– No . They are making millions every day. They will increase their incomes out of the loan being floated for Commonwealth war purposes. I enter my protest against the action of these ‘false patriots, these traitors to Great Britain and Australia. If the workers ask for an advance in the price of their commodity - labour - those are the people who cry out that the workers should be shot; but they are always ready to get higher rates for the use of their commodity - capital - in time of war than in time of peace.
– You can get some of their money from them at any time for defence purposes.
– The only way we are getting it, so far, is by paying them 4½ per cent. interest, and exempting them from income tax. I hope Senator Bakhap is proud of these patriot friends of his, who are taking their money out of industries, and, in the name of patriotism, putting it into the Commonwealth war loan. I trust that the Labour Government will have the courage, instead of borrowing money from outside, to obtain their war funds by a tax on wealth or land, wealth for preference. If the amendment goes to a division, I shall vote for it as a protest against the action of this cormorant class of capitalists.
– It is hard to believe that the amendment is put forward seriously, but we must assume from the remarks of its supporters that it is. They must realize the foolish and ridiculous position they are taking up if they reflect on the real facts. The Commonwealth Government had about £12,000,000 from the note issue for its own purposes; but the States wanted money badly to keep the wheels of industry going. They came to the Commonwealth Government, which could not use the money for war purposes and also lend it to the States. It was found that the British Government was prepared to lend a certain amount, and did so, and the Commonwealth Government lent the money at its disposal to the States. It was arranged that the interest to be paid by the States to the Commonwealth should be the same as that paid by the British Government to its creditors. That rate will be 4 per cent., or a fraction over. The Commonwealth Government is therefore a money lender. Senator Stewart’s proposal now is that we should pay, not 4 per cent., but 3 per cent., to the benefactor who supplied us with the money to lend to the States to keep our own people at work. I do not know how to characterize the effort which the honorable senator is now making. Let us get down to bare facts. If that money had not been loaned to us, we could not have lent it to the States. What would the result have been ? Let Senators Stewart and Ferricks consider for a moment what position the Commonwealth would have been in then. I say that in the circumstances the British Government enabled us to lend money to our own people. That loan is now before us for consideration, and a proposal is actually made that we should pay our benefactor in a time of need a lower rate of interest than we ourselves, as a Labour party and a Labour Government, have decided to pay our own people. The proposal is preposterous.
– It is difficult to comprehend the fact that a member of the Senate is advising the Government to repudiate their just and honorable debts. I did not take this proposal seriously at first. It did not occur to me that any honorable senator would attempt to suggest, at all events to any House of Parliament in the Commonwealth, that this Parliament should be the first institution of the kind in the British Dominions to repudiate its liabilities. Senator Stewart has more than an ordinary knowledge of financial affairs, and yet we find him, in all seriousness, proposing that this “ scrap of paper “ should be deliberately torn up by this legislative body. I think that every member of the Senate should freely express his feelings on this matter. The public outside should be made aware that at least a majority of the members of the Senate feel themselves bound by a sense of honour to meet their indebtedness to the British community in connexion with this loan. I have no fault to find with Senators’ Stewart and Ferricks, because they happen to have very advanced views upon financial matters. There is a time and a place to give utterance to such ideas. Last week we were dealing with a Bill in the consideration of which such ideas might have been given effect to.
– It is only fair to Senator Stewart to say that he had not the opportunity to give effect to his ideas in connexion with that Bill.
– I agree that Senator Stewart had not the opportunity that he wanted to speak on that Bill, and that, if he could have .done so, we should no doubt have had the benefit of his knowledge and experience. But the honorable senator proposes to give effect to his ideas to-day when we are dealing with a Bill in connexion with which it is impossible to do so. Senator Ferricks knows very well that the question of the Welsh coal strike, and the financial robbers and magnates who are exploiting the coal miners, has nothing whatever to do with this Bill.
– Ob, yes, it has.
– It does not matter a snap of the fingers who is lending this money to the British Government. What we are concerned with is the fact that the British Government have lent it to us on certain terms, and that we are in duty bound to give effect to the agreement we have entered into. I am sure that the amendment will not be carried, but I regret exceedingly that in the Senate of the Commonwealth the Government should have been advised seriously and deliberately to break an agreement entered into with the British Government, who came to our assistance in a most generous manner at a time when we were sorely in need of their assistance. The very fact that this amendment has been moved in the Senate today will have a very bad effect on the Commonwealth of Australia so far as the financial world is concerned. That is why .1 am anxious that every honorable senator who does not approve of the amendment should give expression to his views. There should be no room left for any misconception in the minds of the community as to the determination of the members of the Senate to honorably carry out engagements entered into with the Home Government in connexion with this loan.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [4.27]. - At our last sitting we dealt with a much larger loan than that covered by the Bill now before us; and the fact that on that occasion we agreed to pay even a higher rate of interest than is being asked for this money proves the inconsistency of Senator Stewart’s amendment. We have already agreed to pay interest at the rate of 4J per cent, on a loan of £20,000,000, and to exempt that interest from income tax. This raises the rate to something like o$ per cent, without a word of protest. When we have passed such a measure as that, Senator Stewart’s proposal in connexion with this Bill has very much the appearance of an afterthought. We should not forget that when it was first proposed that this money should be lent to the Commonwealth Government, not a word of protest against the loan was uttered by any one. We were all extremely well pleased that the Commonwealth Government should be able to secure the accommodation they required as readily and as easily as they did. We were satisfied that the Home Government should come to our assistance in the way they did at that time. Having accepted a previous loan on the same terms as this, and having since that agreed to pay a higher rate of interest for a much larger loan, I find it difficult to understand the attitude adopted by Senator Stewart today. I am not, like Senator Newland, at all afraid that people outside will misunderstand the position of the Senate.
– Our opponents will make full use of the proposal made.
– I am not afraid that our opponents will be able to make any use of it. We may have differences of opinion* as to the rate -of in- terest which should be paid for a loan.
– The amendment goes further than that.
– I am aware that it does, but I have no such apprehension as troubles Senator Newland. If Senator Stewart wishes to be consistent he should withdraw his amendment, in view of the fact that, without protest, we agreed to the same terms for a larger loan from the British Government than the one now under consideration, and have also agreed to pay a higher rate of interest for a still larger loan which we are floating for ourselves. .
– I wish, first of all, to say that the critics of Senator Stewart’s amendment have been most unfair to the honorable senator in charging him with repudiation. The honorable senator is not open to such a charge, because the £6,500,000 covered by this Bill has not yet been received from the Imperial Government.
– £3,600,000 of this money has already been received.
– I remind the Minister that we have not yet received the whole of the £18,000,000 loan.
– It is coming in in monthly instalments.
– We have arranged to borrow, altogether, from the Imperial Government £24,500,000. The first loan of £18,000,000 was to last until November next. We have yet to receive a portion of that loan, and a portion of the loan of £6,500,000.
– This loan of £6,500,000 is being paid in monthly instalments up to November,, as well as the £18,000,000 loan.
– There is a balance of the £18,000,000 loan which has not yet been received from the Imperial Government.
– The balance of this loan not yet received from the Imperial Government is £2,900,000.
– I refer to the balance not yet received of the £24,500,000 which has been borrowed.
– It amounts to more than £6,500,000.
– That is the point I want to make. The balance not yet received from the Imperial Government is in excess of the amount of £6,500,000 covered by this Bill. .
– t The honorable senator cannot make two distinct transactions into one to suit his argument. There are two distinct loans.
– I make the point that we entered into a contract to borrow £24,500,000 from the Imperial Government. A portion of that money has been received, but the amount yet to be received is in excess of the amount covered by this Bill.
– If we lump the two loans together?
– Yes. If the ‘Committee, in its wisdom, accepts Senator Stewart’s amendment, which I am’ prepared to support, we need not draw this £6,500,000 from the Imperial Government, or the Imperial Government need not lend it to us if our terms are not satisfactory.
– We should be in a nice fix then.
– Never mind that; I wish to dissociate Senator Stewart’s amendment from any. idea of repudiation.
– I think we all wish to do that.
– I am glad if honorable senators look at the matter from that point of view.
– We do not see thematter as Senator Mullan sees it.
– If the Committeeaccept Senator Stewart’s amendment, what will happen will be that, if the Imperial Government will not lend us the money at 3 per cent., we shall have tomake other arrangements to secure it. I want to say that I am in entire sympathy with the principle laid down by Senator Stewart, that it is about time weasked the wealth of the Commonwealth to do its share of the fighting. It is all very fine to ask the manhood of Australia to go to the front, but it is equally desirable that the wealth of Australia should bear its part.
– We may apply that principle to the wealth within our own borders.
– We can do so,, and we ought to do so. If we do notget this £6,500,000 from the Imperial Government, we can collect it from the capitalists here. Senator Stewart has laid down a very sound principle, though I differ to some extent from him in matters of detail. If we were to ask the capitalists of Australia to subscribe- £1,000,000 without interest, I am quite satisfied that they are so soulless and unpatriotic that we would not get a “bob”from them.
– I have a much better opinion of them than that.
– I am quite surethat the Government would have tried that, only they realize that it would be a failure. We are now taking a census of the wealth of Australia, and as soon as we have the information which thatwill give us, if we need further loans, we must compel the capitalists of the Commonwealth to advance their money in fairproportion to meet the expenses of the war.
– Is not all taxation compulsory ?
– I should make it a little more drastic in this case. If, for instance, we required £11,000,000, and the wealth of Australia is shown to be £1,100,000,000, I would deduct 1 per cent, from the wealth of the country as a loan without interest until five years after the war. We should then be in a position to consider the question of the payment of interest, or maybe of the payment of the principal as well. But we should subordinate the interests of the capitalist to the interests of the country. Personally, I think it is entirely wrong that capitalists should receive a higher rate of interest in time of war than in time of peace. Senator Newland said that the effect of this amendment would be to injure the credit of the Commonwealth.
– I did not say that. I said that it would be used to the detriment of this country.
– I think it may be used in an opposite direction, because it will be an intimation to the capitalist that, although he is to receive 4½ per cent. on the loan which is now in course of flotation, he must not look for an extortionate rate of interest in the future.
– It will be an intimation to the Imperial authorities that we are slippery customers.
– I think that Senator Stewart is perfectly right in laying down the principle that the capitalists of this country should contribute their fair share towards the prosecution of the war. I intend to support his amendment.
– I was rather surprised to hear Senator Lynch declare that, but for the raising of this money from the Imperial authorities, the Commonwealth would not have been able to advance to the States money from its note issue. I entirely differ from him in that connexion. The money which will be advanced under this Loan Bill has nothing whatever to do with the £18,000,000 which the Commonwealth has already advanced to the States. The two things are quite distinct.
SenatorLt.-Colonel O’Loghlin. - But if we had not the one,we could not have gone on with the other.
– Oh; yes, we could.
– This loan is an addition to previous loans, and is being granted on the same conditions.
– This is an overplus on the £18,000,000-
– If it be an overplus, why are we borrowing more money, and introducing new taxation?
– The term “ overplus “ is, perhaps, not quite the correct one to employ. Instead, I will call it an addition. The charge of repudiation which has been levied against Senator Stewart comes with very bad grace from Senator de Largie, who chided him for not having submitted his amendment when the War Loan Bill was under consideration on Friday last. Now, everybody knows that there was an understanding amongst honorable senators that that Bill should be passed on Friday afternoon, because the prospectuses relating to the loan had already been published in the newspapers.
– But there was no occasion for the Bill to go through by 4 o’clock.
– I understood that an arrangement had been arrived at between the intending speakers.
– That did not prevent Senator Stewart from speaking.
– Has not a similar arrangement been arrived at in regard to this Bill?
– Not fully. What has happened merely serves to show that if, at some future time, the Government desire to get a measure through this Chamber on a particular day, their request may not be so favorably entertained.
– I do not think that the Government raised any objection.
– I did not say that they did. But the Government desired to get the War Loan Bill through the Senate, and honorable senators were in accord with that desire. Senator Stewart. I know, was anxious to speak on Friday last. Some honorable senators have criticised the amendment, and have said that it aimed at tearing up “ a scrap of paper.” Why, the people who control the money markets of the world are tearing up “ scraps of paper “ every day. On the outbreak of the war they tore them up by thousands.
– Securities rendered valueless by the war?
– No. I will remove the honorable senator’s denseness in a moment. The Australian off-shoot of that moneyed combination tore up these “ scraps of paper “ immediately the war broke out, by raising the prices of commodities from 50 to 100 per cent.
– Two wrongs do not make a right.
– We protest against a continuance of these tactics. So long as honorable senators are prepared to swallow whatever the financial magnates of Australia are willing to give this country, so long will similar conditions prevail. My own opinion is that these individuals gave Mr. Fisher the conditions under which the £20,000,000 war loan would be subscribed, and that he, on behalf of the people of this country, accepted those conditions. It is utterly wrong that the financial magnates of the Commonwealth should derive greater profits from war loans than they ever received previously. A few minutes ago Senator de Largie assured us that the benefit that would accrue to subscribers to our war loan was equivalent to 5£ per cent. He did not say that subscribers to it will also be exempt from income tax.
– That included the lot-
– And it is an overestimate.
– Because we protest against such high rates being paid we are charged with being actuated by motives which are inimical to the best interests of this country. I say that the Senate, which contains a Labour majority who profess to believe in a policy that has been outlined in the interests of the Democracy, should be more definite in its attitude towards these matters than it has been. Amongst the rank and file of the people, and not merely amongst the manual workers, there is a growing feeling that the financial magnates of Australia are not doing the fair thing in connexion with this war. I trust that Senator Newland and others who have made light of our protest will think over it, and realize that this National Parliament–
– I appreciate the protest, but I say that it is made in the wrong place.
– I say that it is better that this protest should come late than that it should never come. When we suspect that the Labour Government and this Parliament are placing too much reliance on the advice of the very per sons whose interests will be served by the flotation of these loans in Australia, we are justified in protesting. I wish to disabuse the minds of honorable senators of any misapprehension they may have concerning my attitude towards the amendment. I support it whole-heartedly, because I regard it as an emphatic protest against the system which now obtains in respect to financial matters.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.47]. - I understand that Senator Stewart has submitted this amendment, and that it is being supported by some other honorable senators by way of a protest. I am perfectly satisfied that a gentleman of Senator Stewart’s acumen and financial knowledge cannot expect that amendment to be regarded seriously. What does it mean? This £6,500,000 has been borrowed by the Imperial authorities, and is now being passed on to the Commonwealth . Probably it was borrowed at 4J per cent. Senator Stewart now wishes us to take the money from the British Government, and to pay only 3 per cent, for it. In other words, we are to “rook” the Imperial authorities for 1£ per cent. If we were to adopt the amendment, we should not get the money at all.
– Then we should go in for a wealth tax.
– The amendment provides that no interest shall be paid during the war or for a period of five years thereafter.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.According to Senator Stewart, the Imperial authorities should make us a present of the money until after the termination of the war. If we agreed to his proposal, we would not get the money we require, and, in addition, it would be despicable conduct on our part to accept assistance on the terms he has outlined. He asks us to go to our poor old Mother and obtain money from her for seven years for nothing. Thereafter we are to pay her 3 per cent, interest, notwithstanding that she has to pay 4 per cent, or 4£ per cent, interest on the same money. When Parnell was agitating in regard to land in Ireland, he said that there were only two ways of securing it - either by paying for it, or by fighting for it. Similarly there are only two ways of obtain ing money. We must either pay its commercial value for it, or we must steal or confiscate it. The time may yet come when we shall have to levy upon the wealth of this country in order to carry on the war. But we are not yet iu £Fat dilemma, and we ought not to consider such a proposal just now. I do not desire to pay to the capitalist a single penny more than is necessary to assure the successful flotation of our loans. But it would be fatal to risk the chance of failure by doing what Senator Stewart suggests. There are plenty of enterprises in which a man can secure 5 and 6 per cent, interest upon his money. I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn, and that Senator Stewart will not’ make the Committee look ridiculous by attempting to make it appear that we. are prepared to take money from our dear old Mother for seven years as a gift, and afterwards to pay her 1 per cent, less for it than she has been obliged to pay for it herself.
– I cannot see my way to support the amendment. We are told that it is simply to be a protest, but I presume that the honorable senator who moved, and those who support it, want to see it carried. If they do not, it is only so much humbug and hypocrisy. Let us examine the position. The Senate instructed the Government to borrow £18,000,000 from the Imperial Government last year, and on account of that we were able to advance to the various States £18,000,000, which the States badly required at the time, and with which they were able to keep their public works going. Without that money there would not have been any chance of carrying on, and the result would have been wholesale unemployment from one end of Australia to the other. Then, after Parliament adjourned last year, the British Government asked the Commonwealth Government if they required any more money on the same terms, and the Commonwealth Government replied, “Yes; we would like to get another £10,000,000; £6,500,000 for prosecuting the war, and £3,500,000 for public works in Australia.” The Imperial authorities intimated, however, that they were not raising money in Great Britain for public works, and they could not undertake to find money for such works in any other part of the Empire.
– New public works ?
– No; public works of any description. The result was that the Imperial Government agreed to advance the money required for war purposes, and the Commonwealth Government accepted this £6,500,000. Senator Mullan said that we had not received it yet, but I would point out that these are two separate transactions. The Imperial Government arranged to pay the Commonwealth Government so much per month on account of the £18,000,000, and so much per month on account of this £6,500,000, after the Commonwealth Government had notified their acceptance of the proposal. Therefore, if we turn down this proposition, I venture to say that the Imperial Government will still send us the amounts agreed upon regularly in connexion with the £18,000,000 loan, and if the amendment is carried, it will really affect just £2,900,000 of the £6,500,000, because, as we have been told, the Commonwealth Government have already received £3,600,000 on that account. Would any honorable senator like the Commonwealth Government to stand in the position of saying, “ We have been glad to get £3,900,000, but we do not know that we cannot get along without the balance, so you had better keep it; and although the rate of interest which the Government decided to pay was something like £4 3s. per cent., we are only going to pay 3 per cent. We have had the money, but we are going to fix the rate of interest, and no interest will be paid during the currency of the war, or for five years afterwards.” I can only say that that would be a most convenient financial arrangement for anybody to put to his creditors.
– It is a convenient arrangement to get men to fight in the trenches for these people.
– I know what that means as well as does the honorable senator, but I repeat that this is a most convenient financial arrangement for any one to place before his creditors. If Senator Stewart required accommodation, and received from a bank £500 at 4 per cent. , I wonder if he would afterwards say, “ Yes, I agreed to pay you so much per cent. I have only received 18s. in the £1 out of that advance, and I propose to alter the rate of interest; and, further, as things are not too good with me just now, I will not pay you any interest for five or six years.” I wonder, also, what Senator Stewart would say if, after lending a portion of those financial resources of which he is supposed to stand possessed, a borrower came up against him with a proposition of that description. As a protest the amendment has no use whatever. It seems to me that any amendment should be moved with the object of having it carried, but honorable senators know that this amendment could not be carried in this way, and they would not like to see it carried, seeing that we have already taken £3,600,000 of the money which the Government agreed to borrow. We are told that Mr. Fisher did so-and-so, consulted somebody, and that somebody advised him to do a certain thing. I call the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the Labour party indorsed the action of the Prime Minister practically before he brought the Bill into Parliament. In my opinion the arrangement made should be given effect to. I am just as anxious as Senator Stewart, or Senator Ferricks, or anybody else, to see that those who possess the wealth of this country should contribute towards the cost of the war, and in that direction there is nothing which they are prepared to propose in this Chamber that I am not prepared to support.
– The honorable senator should never have supported the War Loan Bill, exempting contractors from income tax.
– The honorable senator himself supported it, and yet he tells me now that I should not have voted for it. Neither Senator Ferricks nor Senator Stewart, nor any one else, raised the slightest objection to that Bill by way of amendment.
– I will never seek to defend it in the country.
– That is another matter altogether. Why does the honorable senator tell me that I did not object, when he did not object himself, despite all the protestation that he is now making against this Bill ?
– Because the prospectus was in the papers, and the Bill had to go through.
– That was no reason for not speaking.
– It is all nonsense for the honorable senator to say that. If in this Chamber there had been a number of senators who objected to the passage of that Bill, it would not have gone through, because we are not bound hand and foot, and there was no arrange ment, so far as honorable senators individually were concerned, regarding that measure at all. An honorable senator has at any time a perfect right, no matter whether it is 2, 3, or 4 o’clock in the morning, to express his opinions on any measure, and I think it is advisable that he should do so. It is no use now for an honorable senator to shelter himself behind that excuse. Regarding the amendment under consideration, we know perfectly well that the agreement which the Commonwealth entered into has to be carried out, and I, for one, will vote for the Bill as it stands.
– I appeal to Senator Stewart to withdraw his amendment. The reason - if I may state it - that Senator Stewart did not have an opportunity to discuss the previous Bill was because, at my request, he gave way.
– A good many honorable senators suppressed themselves.
– I wish to say that we did not have an opportunity to discuss it.
– I agree that Senator Stewart was very good to me in that regard and enabled me to get the Bill through. But I would put it to him now that this Bill, whether we like it or not, has reached the stage when it has become a contract.
– The other Bill had reached the stage of a contract before it was through this Senate, because the prospectus was in the papers.
– I do not desire to discuss that matter, except to say that every Government are expected to be up to date in their conduct of business, and we were in a position to issue a prospectus as soon as the Bill was indorsed by Parliament. No prospectus was issued prior to the Bill being carried. I want to point out that of this amount of £6,500,000 agreed to be advanced by the British Government, we have already received £3,600,000.
– It was a bargain?
– Yes ; and this question only affects the balance of £2,900,000 still to be received. We cannot very well interfere with a contract in which the goods have practically been delivered. It appears to be insinuated that the Commonwealth Government are fond of borrowing at a high rate of interest; but I know of no Government in this or any other country that has carried on twelve months of war and paid less interest than the present Government. What is the position ? We have received £15,000,000 from the British Government, upon which interest was to be paid, and we advanced over £12,000,000 to the States, and therefore we will pay no interest on that amount. On the other hand, we have advanced £12,000,000 out of the note issue, upon which we receive interest, quite apart from the £5,000,000 of gold received from the banks, so that upon the whole of the money borrowed we are paying less than 2 per cent. If we put the interest that we earn on our note issue against the interest we are paying on the loans, we are not only not paying interest, but are actually receiving interest. If honorable senators want to deal with the merits of the Bill, do not let them make inaccurate statements as to the rate of interest the Government are paying.
– You are only paying interest on the amount which you have borrowed under this Bill.
– Practically speaking, we are only obliging a friend, and making him pay all the costs. A Government with a record like ours must, necessarily, feel jealous when they hear hard phrases thrown about as to their action in a particular matter. I appeal to Senator Stewart to withdraw his amendment, because no Government could go back on a contract which has been made with another Government. As a matter of fact, the Government believed that they were correctly interpreting the mind of Parliament and of the people when they entered into the contract, and I still hold that belief. There would have been no war to-day if certain Governments had honoured their contracts, and I trust that the Government of young Australia will not repudiate a contract. I appeal to Senator Stewart to allow the Bill to go through seeing that we have already had a good discussion on its provisions.
– I regret very much that I cannot see my way to withdraw my amendment. I, and those who agree with me, have been met with a storm of opposition from various quarters of the Chamber, because we have endeavoured on this occasion to introduce quite a new idea with regard to war loans. I want honorable senators, more especially Senator Turley, to always keep their minds fixed on this point, that I do not wish to introduce this system of financing into the general business of the country. I simply want to apply it to war loans, war being itself of a special character. Honorable senators may talk about repudiation, and all that sort of thing. I do not desire to repudiate anything, but to try to introduce a fresh idea into the financing of our country. Senator Turley and others have chided me for not bringing this matter forward on Friday, when the £20,000,000 war loan was before the Senate. I quite admit that that was the proper occasion, but I abandoned my right to speak, because I was told it was absolutely necessary that the Bill should be passed on that day. The Minister in charge told me that himself. He had communicated with me previously through the Whip. The latter said that an arrangement had been entered into that at 3 o’clock, Senator Gould, Senator de Largie, and myself would get twenty minutes each. At 4 o’clock Senator de Largie was still speaking, I think.
– No; the Senate was up at 4 o’clock. We had finished the business by that hour.
– I abandoned my right to speak. The Prime Minister himself came into the chamber. I was told that he was particularly anxious that the Bill should go through, because the Governor-General’s assent was required that afternoon, and he was leaving Melbourne for somewhere, and, foolishly - I admit it now when I see the spirit prevailing here this afternoon - I gave way. I realize that that was the proper time for bringing forward the amendment I have now proposed, but I submit that it is quite permissible for us to present an idea to the Imperial Government, the idea being that capital should be called upon to bear its fair cost of the war as well as labour.
– Do you want to see your amendment carried ?
– -I do; and what will the effect be if it is carried through both Houses? The decision of the Commonwealth Parliament will be forwarded to the Imperial Government. It will be promulgated in all the newspapers of the United Kingdom, and the people of that country will be informed of the attitude- of the people of Australia towards war loans. I am quite sure that, in Great Britain and Ireland, there are millions of persons who would agree with the attitude taken up by Australia, and the result - I do not say the immediate result, but the ultimate result - of such an action might be that the people of the Empire - I say “the Empire” now, because we are all in itr- would be placed in a much better position with regard to war loans than they are, unfortunately, at the present moment. That was the whole object of my amendment, and I am particularly anxious to see it carried. I think that every member of the Senate, at least every member of one particular party, ought to support it. There is no repudiation in connexion with the proposal. To revert for a moment to the £20,000,000 Loan Bill, it does not contain a word about the rate of interest.
– Nor does the £18,000,000 Loan Bill.
– There is not a syllable about the rate of interest. We have no information on the face of that Bill as to the terms and conditions of the loan. The prospectus was printed, and, I believe, if not published, was ready for publication. It had been given to the press before the Bill had been submitted to Parliament, before it had received the assent of either the Senate or the other House. That is a most improper method of conducting the government of the country, and one to which I strongly object. I do not think that any measure, more especially an important measure of that character, should be made public, or that even preparations for making it public should be entered into until it has had the assent of the Parliament. But, stripped of all the side issues, the question before us now is: Are we satisfied with the present system of raising loan money ? I invite honorable senators to throw aside every other issue, and on that one central issue I ask every member of the Labour party to fix his eye. We all know that at present the people who will subscribe to this loan are making money out of the misfortunes of the people, are making money out of the war. We know that that is quite a common thing in connexion with capitalism. Those of us who have studied history know perfectly well that capitalists have promoted wars and prevented them. They have promoted wars to fill their own pockets, and they have prevented them with the same object. Will . any man holding the principles which are usually advocated by the Labour party, say that the people of Australia are getting the money which is now being offered to them on fair terms? As I pointed out before, the man who goes to the front loses every time because he has volunteered to go out and defend his country, but the capitalists win every time. Look at this investment. Take the Australian 5 per cent. loan. Senator de Largie said 5^ per cent. I do not want to exaggerate, but the rate is very nearly 5 per cent. - 4-J per cent. It is absolutely the best investment in Australia to-day. A person cannot get anything like it with the same security, and an exemption from income tax. Why, sir, the thing is absurd. The lenders of the money are to be exempt from income tax, while the remaining portion of the population, more especially the poorer people, are to be ground down to the dust, not only by taxation, but, as I believe, within a comparatively short period through lack of employment, because, undoubtedly, we shall have a commercial crisis here. There is nothing which can prevent that crisis, and that will mean a great deal pf poverty and suffering so far as the great mass of the community is concerned. What I, and those who agree with me, wish to do is to push this idea. This may not be the most suitable occasion, but surely every opportunity of trying to put these matters on their proper footing should be seized upon by every honorable senator who desires this particular reform to be brought about. I cannot think that there is a single member of this Committee who does not entertain that idea. The capitalist, I repeat, is simply getting the best investment he can possibly find for his money through these war loans. The worker is called upon to suffer every time. Seeing that most wars - indeed this war as well as other wars - are mainly waged for the defence of property and capita!., it is only fair that the capita-list should be asked to contribute a fair share towards the cost of running the country. I think that the demand I am making is a most moderate one, namely, interest at 3 per cent., and no payment of interest during the currency of the war, or for a period of five years thereafter. Senator Turley, I think, tried to make it appear as if I wished to introduce this system of financing generally.
– I said that it would be a very convenient thing to people who borrowed money.
– I am doing nothing of the kind. The money which is being raised now is for the purpose of war. and the whole of my argument is directed to the question of war. When a country is at war it is in a most exceptional condition.
– Can the honorable senator tell me how we can repudiate an arrangement entered into with the Imperial Government?
– I do not propose to repudiate anything. The interest on the money which has been received will have to be paid.
– There is a bigger balance than £6,500,000 due yet.
– As the honorable senator interjects, the bigger proportion of the £6,500,000 has not yet been received by the Commonwealth.
– Oh, yes; £3,900,000 out of the £6,500,000 has been received.
– No, there is a bigger balance to come.
– There is the statement of Senator Mullan. What I desire is to try to bring about a new way of looking at war loans. Hitherto they have been regarded by persons in the possession of capital as being the best possible investments they could get, and they have invariably demanded the highest rate of interest, and got it, because so far the Governments of various countries have been wholly capitalistic, but here the Government represents, not the capital, but the labour of the country, and I expected that new ideas would rule, labour getting a show and capital being compelled to do its duty. I find, to my disappointment, that it is “ business as usual,” so far as the capitalist is concerned.
– Better than usual.
– I thank the honorable senator - much better than usual. I protest against that kind of thing, and even if this is not the proper occasion, surely we are justified in the circumstances in expressing our opinion of the present system. That is all I ask the Committee to do.
– I flatly and emphatically deny Senator Ferricks’ suggestion that I prevented Senator Stewart from speaking on Friday last. I did not exceed twentyfive or thirty minutes.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. I thought he spoke for two terms of about twenty minutes, and so broke the arrangement for twenty minutes each.
– Even if there was such an arrangement, I was no party to it, and did not prevent Senator Stewart from speaking. If Senator Stewart had an important matter of this kind in his mind on Friday last, he should have let the Government know about it on the £20,000,000 Loan Bill, and the Government would have had to wait a little longer for their Bill to pass.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Governor-General had to get away to Sydney by 5 o’clock on Friday!
– The GovernorGeneral could have stayed in Melbourne, and gone to Sydney on some other occasion.
– We do not know his business, and should not criticise him here.
– I am not presuming to know his business. All I know is my own. We ought not to curtail the proper consideration of any measure here simply because the Governor-General is going to Sydney. I would not curtail my remarks even by five minutes to suit the Governor-General if I felt it to be my duty to bring such an important question as this before the Senate. It will be of no use to carry the amendment, because we cannot expect the Government to go back on an arrangement that has already been accepted by Senator Stewart and others. The facts of the transaction have been known for months.
– Is it not better late than never?
– Not if no good purpose is served.
– If you stop the money coming from the British Government, will not the Commonwealth have to stop the money going to the States?
– Undoubtedly. The various Governments are so interdependent that it is foolish to raise this question in the way that Senator Stewart has raised it. Far-reaching proposals of this kind, representing a departure from the principles of the Labour party, should be brought forward, not in Committee, but where they can be discussed and decided by the whole party.
.- It is the duty of every honorable senator to express his view on this question, which is much more farreaching than it appears on the’ surface. If Senator Stewart desires that the wealth of Australia shall bear its equal share of the war - and he is not alone in that view - there are means in the hands of Parliament to bring it about. Our proper course is to use those means, and not to make the Commonwealth Parliament look foolish in the eyes of the world. We were quite willing to receive the first £12,000,000 from the Imperial Government, and no objection was raised when the £6,500,000 was offered. Of that sum £3,600,000 has already been received, and yet, at this late stage, Senator Stewart proposes that we should repudiate the agreement. I am sure Parliament will refuse to entertain such a suggestion. I am intensely, surprised, knowing his commercial honesty, that he should seek to inveigle the Committee into such a repudiation. Surely the honorable senator does not want the Senate to act dishonorably? If he does, I shall be no party to it. If the honorable senator believes that wealth should bear its share, that can be done by means of a war tax. All that he has said on this occasion could have been said on a proposal for a war tax. He «ould have shown the necessity for such a tax, and he would have found us quite ready to assist him. It would simply be a case of asking the capitalists to contribute money to help the cause of the Empire instead of going to the front. It will not require the whole of the wealth of Australia to win the war, and even when the capitalists have contributed all that will be required of them, they will not have done nearly as much as those who have made the supreme sacrifice. If Senator Stewart’s amendment was adopted, it would be proclaimed at once throughout the length and breadth of the land by our opponents that the Labour party was going in for repudiation. I am certain that the consensus of opinion in this Chamber, leaving out the mover and seconder of the amendment, is that we have honestly accepted the offer of the Imperial Government, and must honour the engagement. We are faced with a time of stress and unemployment, and the repudiation of the loan would shorten our cash and increase distress.
– It is a war loan. You cannot shelter yourself behind that hedge.
– If the money is not received it cannot be disbursed.
– If we had had to finance the war without assistance from the British Government, what assistance could we have given to the States?
– None; and Senator Stewart knows it. This loan is to enable us, not only to prosecute the war, but also to keep the people in Australia in employment. To repudiate it would be to dishonour the Commonwealth by refusing to carry out a transaction which has enabled us so far to keep our own people in employment.
– If we had not been borrowers of this money, we could not have been lenders to the States.
– That is the position in a nutshell. I express my conviction that we are bound to honour the engagement that we have entered into, and should do so without any attempt of this kind to alter its terms. What Senator Stewart proposes is that after we have received the loan, we should not only determine the rate of interest, but insert a condition in the contract that for five years we shall pay no interest at all. The honorable senator thinks that that is a proposal which will be received by the general public with gusto. How many persons would be prepared to take up a war loan on such terms ? The honorable senator prides himself upon having given expression to a glorious idea, but what would have been the response to the Commonwealth Government if they had issued a prospectus asking for a loan on such conditions as the honorable senator proposes? The honorable senator admits by interjection that we cannot get money for defence unless we pay a high price for it.
– No; that is what Senator Senior says.
– After making such an admission, the honorable senator suggests terms upon which we could not raise any money.
– The honorable senator is slandering the capitalists of this country. I believe they would rush a loan on the terms I have suggested.
– We know that capitalists are keen on getting gilt-edged securities for any money they lend, and if they are offered 4^ per cent, they will not subscribe to a loan offered at 3 per cent., or to a loan offered on the condition that they are not to receive any interest for five years. Senator Stewart would have us offer our £20,000,000 loan on such terms that we should not have the slightest chance of getting a penny subscribed to it. That is the great idea of this honorable senator, who is prepared to ‘solve all our financial difficulties. He has shown that he has no confidence whatever in the amendment he has submitted. He does not expect that it will be carried. It would only hold the Senate and the honorable senator up to ridicule before the* whole world to carry such a preposterous amendment.
– I hope that at this last moment of the eleventh hour Senator Stewart will reconsider his position.
– No, never. No death-bed repentance for me!
– The honorable senator should give way to the request made to him by other honorable senators. If he is not yet prepared to do so, I ask him to consider that the reputation of the Senate is at stake, and that there is such a thing as the reputation of the party with which he is associated, and that that also is at stake. Whilst I am but a humble member of the Labour party, I feel that its reputation will be injured to an infinitely greater degree by Senator Stewart’s action on this occasion than it will be injured by mine. Stripped of all casuistry, I am here to support the bargain entered into by the Commonwealth Labour Government with the Imperial Government. If Senator Stewart and those who support him are. prepared to depart from the terms of that bargain I am not, be the consequences what they may. We have borrowed £18,000,000, which has been the subject of a measure which has been passed by this Parliament. An additional amount of £6,500,000 is being lent to us by the Imperial Government on the same terms. The Government, supported by the party of which Senator Stewart is a member, have been all along cognizant of the fact that this additional sum is being lent on the understanding that the con ditions appertaining to the previous loan will not be departed from. Now that we are about to ratify the contract entered into by the Labour Government of the Commonwealth, it is not for members of this party or for the Senate to repudiate that bargain. I do not intend to do so, and I feel that perhaps I am in a stronger position to protest against any attempt to do so than is any other honorable member of the Senate. I feel that it is by trifles that we are sometimes judged. It was by a trifle that this Parliament was judged in the past in the “ Six Hatters “ case. That incident was discussed and magnified throughout Australia and everywhere else for the purpose of blackening the Commonwealth Parliament in the eyes of the world. This amendment may be considered a comparatively small matter, but it is still enough for the enemies of our party and our Parliament to use in their efforts to blacken our reputation. I appeal most earnestly to Senator Stewart and those who are supporting him to reconsider their position. We are down to plain words, and I ask them to consider the seriousness and import of the amendment. This Parliament is being asked to repudiate a bargain entered into by the Commonwealth Labour Government. That is what the amendment means, no matter how it is looked at. Those who have so far spoken in favour of the amendment may have forgotten the fact for a time, but they know that the bargain which has been entered into is merely Complementary to the bargain entered into in connexion with the £18,000,000 loan. It is too much to ask that we should at this time try to evade the terms of that bargain. T”o agree to the amendment would be to attach a stigma to the Labour party and this Parliament, which could not easily be effaced by anything which might be done afterwards. The enemies of this country and the enemies of the Labour party in particular will freeze on to this proposal for all time, and will point to it as a suggestion seriously made on the floor of the Senate chamber by a member of the Labour party. I am aware that Senator Stewart is a man of strong convictions, but he must concede that possibly other men may be nearly as strong in their convictions. I appeal most earnestly to the honorable senator to recognise the general consensus of opinion in the Committee, and to take stock of the fact that his amendment involves the reputation of the party to which he belongs, and the good name of this Parliament and this country. I ask him, in all earnestness, to withdraw his amendment. He has no intention that it shall be carried, but if it is carried I point out that it means that we shall be asking the British Government and British taxpayers, including the coal miners of the North of England, and the peasantry of the West of Ireland, to pay a portion of the interest due on this loan, which, according to Senator Stewart, the comparatively richer people of this Commonwealth are not prepared to pay.
– Quite untrue.
– Then who will pay it?
– I shall tell the honorable senator directly.
– I repeat that the amendment means calling upon the working classes of the Old Country to pay something which the comparatively rich people of the Commonwealth are not willing to pay. That is wrong, inequitable, and outrageous, and the proposal should not be tolerated for a moment, especially by a party such as the Labour party, which has some pretence to high-mindedness, and a desire for equality and equity. I again appeal to Senator Stewart not to press his amendment to a division. He should keep in reserve the power which we know he has, and on a more fitting opportunity press his ideas for the taxation of rich people here. I appeal to him for heaven’s sake not to repudiate a bargain entered into by the Commonwealth Labour Government.
– Senator Lynch is the keeper of his own conscience, and I suppose he does not arrogate to himself the right to keep the consciences of other members of the Committee. I wish againto point out to the honorable senator and those associated with him in the ideas he has enunciated that Senator Stewart’s amendment means nothing-
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– It means nothing of the nature attributed to it by those who, for charity’s sake I will say, misunderstand it. Fancy Senator Lynch belabouring the argument to such an extent as to invite us to believe that by carrying this amendment we shall be asking the poorer people, particularly of another country, to meet our liabilities! What will be the effect of the amendment if it is carried ? I understand that the Government have entered into an arrangement with the Imperial authorities, subject to the approval of Parliament, to take two sums of money from them, amounting in all to £24,500,000.
– There are two separate contracts.
– They are for the same purpose, and precisely upon the same conditions, so for the sake of argument we may regard them as the same transaction.
– There are two transactions.
– To carry their own ideas to the limit, honorable senators opposed tothe amendment invite the Committee to believe that it would amount to repudiation. Nothing of the kind. If the amendment is carried, all that will happen will be that we shall take from the Imperial Government £18,000,000 instead of £24,500,000. Where will the repudiation come in? Senator Stewart does not want the Imperial Government to advance us this money on terms of which they disapprove. His idea is that if we cannot get this £6,500,000 from the Imperial Government on the terms he suggests, we should make the capitalists of Australia, by compulsion if necessary, subscribe the money through the medium of a wealth tax, the conscription of wealth, or any other means. That is the object he has in view.
– Has the honorable senator read the amendment?
– I want to read something else to honorable senators. They question the right of the Committee to discuss and amend this Bill. .
– What does the Bill say ? It has been introduced for the purpose of authorizing the borrowing of money from the United Kingdom.
– For the ratification of something already done.
– If this be so, and Parliament is to authorize the agreement, then the agreement is to be made here.
– What is the amendment?
– It is to the effect that if we can obtain the money on those terms, we should pay no more than 3 per cent, interest for the period of the war, and for five years afterwards.
– No. The amendment proposes that we should pay no interest during the period of the war, or for five years afterwards.
– Does Senator Mullan know where I could get accommodation on the terms of the amendment?
– Honorable senators may regard this as a laughing matter, but I assure them that it is a very serious matter for the people of this Commonwealth to have millions of debt piled upon them when we know that they will be called upon later to pay the interest on that debt, whilst the capitalists will be smilingly receiving their dividends. Our Australian troops are now sacrificing their life-blood at the Dardanelles in the defence of this country and of the Empire, and it is only fair that wealth should contribute its fair share towards the prosecution of the struggle. At the present time wealth is not doing that. Senator Stewart’s amendment aims at laying down the principle that it shall do so. Every honorable senator who votes against his proposal will be voting against the sound principle that wealth should be made to contribute its fair share towards the prosecution of the war. Those who are imploring the honorable senator to withdraw his proposal lest it may sully the reputation of this Chamber are chiefly afraid that it will sully their own reputations if they vote against it.
– Is that the aim of the amendment?
– The honorable senator’s reputation is in his own keeping. I am willing to give him good advice, but if he is not prepared to accept it, that is not my fault. .
– Our reputations will stand no matter what. may happen to the amendment, so that the honorable senator is merely beating the air.
– The question of exempting wealth from its legitimate share of taxation in connexion with this war is becoming a very serious one. What will be the position of the people of this country when the struggle has concluded ? They will be loaded with an unbearable debt. To-day the liabilities of the States total something in excess of £317,000,000. The interest payable upon this sum is £10,000,000 annually, or £2 4s. 5d. per head of our population. It will be seen, therefore, that the liability upon a family of six is £13 16s. 6d. That is the amount which every such family has to pay annually by way of interest on our State debts alone.
– It is equivalent to 5s. per week.
– Yes. It means 5s. per week to many a man who is already receiving a wage’ which is insufficient to enable him to keep his family.
– And who would be receiving less if the money had not been borrowed to develop the resources of the country.
– In addition to this gigantic burden, we are now seeking to levy an additional impost upon him. On the 30th June, 1914 - the most recent period for which accurate figures are available - the Commonwealth debt amounted to £19,000,000. Then we have to consider our war loan for £20,000,000, the £10,000,000 which we have borrowed from the banks, £25,000,000 which we owe upon the note-issue, and £18,000,000 and £6,500,000, which we have borrowed from the Imperial authorities. This represents a total Commonwealth indebtedness of approximately. £100,000,000. It will thus be seen that for the Commonwealth and the States our indebtedness makes up the enormous aggregate of approximately £416,000,000.
– About £100,000j000 represents the Commonwealth indebtedness, and most of it has been spent for unproductive purposes.
– Practically it is all unproductive. Now we are about to pile upon this indebtedness a huge war tax. It is time that we called a halt.
– Let us go ahead; there should be no halt in this war.
– I am not asking for a halt in the war, but for a halt in the methods adopted in its conduct. What has capital contributed towards the struggle ? Nothing. What has it gained from the war ? It has gained a considerable amount, because capitalists to-day are receiving a higher rate of interest than they ever did before. They are receiving bigger profits than they ever obtained previously. Huge dividends are being piled up out of the life-blood of the men of the Empire. Even in Australia, while our soldiers are fighting the Empire’s battles, their widowed mothers in some cases, and their wives and children in others, are being remorselessly robbed by exploiters whom certain honorable senators desire to protect from a war tax.
– Who seeks to protect them from that tax ?
– Those who oppose the imposition of a wealth tax, or a war tax, or the conscription of wealth without interest, as Senator Stewart proposes.
– He does not propose to do anything of the sort.
– Some honorable senators are very uneasy about this amendment. I can quite understand the eagerness with which they seek to misinterpret its meaning. But, however they may endeavour to throw dust into the eyes of the people - and apparently some politicians are very well qualified to do that - the fact remains that Senator Stewart has attempted to lay down a principle which, I hope, will gain a footing in the Commonwealth - the principle that the financially strong should bear the financial burdens of the war, just as the physically fit are doing their part in the fighting line to-day. I hope that the party with which I am associated will insist upon wealth doing its part in thi? momentous struggle.
– Senator Mullan has clearly charged every honorable senator who does ‘not support the amendment with being opposed to a wealth tax. That was the very essence of his speech. Now, whilst I acknowledge that the honorable senator and those who think with him have every right to their opinions, I claim that they are not entitled to place any such construction upon the action of those who differ from them on this occasion.
– Honorable senators have no right to misinterpret Senator Stewart’s amendment.
– I did not misinterpret it. I am not endeavouring to place a wrong interpretation either upon the proposal or any of the speeches in support of it. But the meaning of the amendment is perfectly plain. If it were carried the Government could not with decency continue in office. It attacks a vital principle in the financial scheme of the Ministry. If it does not mean repudiation, seeing that the Minister in charge of the Bill has assured us that the arrangement in connexion with this loan has already been entered into, I should like to know what constitutes repudiation. This is the wrong time and the< wrong place for speeches such as those which have just been delivered by Senator Mullan and Senator Stewart. If Senator Stewart is of opinion that his amendment is justified, obviously his proper course was to have voted against the second reading of the Bill. The’ object of the amendment is todefeat the measure. I am in favour of a wealth tax, and of raising money for the prosecution of the war from those who are best able to supply it. In these circumstances, the aspersions of Senator Mullan are absolutely unjustifiable. The position is abundantly clear. The arrangements in connexion with this loan have already been completed, and the carrying of the amendment would simply mean that the Government could not proceed further with the Bill. I am a supporter of a Government which has a financial policy, and I am not going to repudiate my assurances to it at the eleventh hour. When we have ascertained where the wealth of the country is, and who owns it, it will be time enough for us to talk about taxation measures of a different character - taxation measures which we shall certainly have to consider during the next financial year if the present war continues. Those who are now supporting this amendment will then find exactly where we stand. I shall oppose the amendment, because I regard it as tantamount to absolute and distinct repudiation.
Senator TURLEY (Queensland [6.4]. - Senator Mullan has stated that those who are opposed to this amendment fear that if they vote against it they will be looked at askance when they leave this chamber. I am not troubled on that score. I have always understood that the Labour party was founded upon fair and straightforward dealing, and I believe that it will continue to be based upon that principle. Nobody, however, can affirm that Senator Stewart’s proposal represents straightforward dealing. Two agreements have been entered into between the Commonwealth and the Imperial authorities. The first relates to a loan of £18,000,000.
There is a balance of this money still to -come. It is idle for Senator Mullan to declare that if we adopted Senator Stewart’s proposal the Imperial authorities would hold back £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 from one loan or the other. They are too honest to do anything of the sort, and they will pay us the balance -due on the £18,000,000 anyhow, because they will keep their word. If the Commonwealth Government intend to go back on their word, the sooner it is known to the people of Australia and the world the better. It is no use saying we have borrowed an aggregate of £24,000,000, and have received only £17,000,000 or £18,000,000 on account. The British Government will keep their promise regarding ‘ that £18,000,000. Senator Mullan says that Senator Lynch stated that if we pass this amendment we shall, in effect, be loafing upon the poorlypaid people in the Old Country. That is -exactly what we shall be doing if we indorse an amendment like this. The Imperial Government, having raised that loan, they will not repudiate the interest charged with respect to it. Now, with regard to this particular arrangement, we have borrowed £6,500,000 from the Imperial Government, and have only received £3,600,000 on account. Suppose we carry this amendment, which, I say again, is only a bogus protest, we shall be in the position of having received £3,600,000 with respect to which this Parliament would say, “ We will not pay any interest during the term of the war and for five years afterwards, and then only 3 per cent.” That would not absolve the Imperial Government from their interest obligations, and if we repudiated our portion of the contract,’ it would mean that the burden would fall upon the poorer classes-the people who have to pay the taxation bill - of the Mother Country. It would mean, in effect, that this rich Commonwealth would inform the world that it could not afford to pay interest on money which it had received. Now we are told that we are going to pile up a big war debt. Every one knows that. We would have it anyway, for even now a war loan is being raised in Australia. It is possible that Senator Stewart would have found a considerable amount of support if, in connexion with the previous War Loan Bill, he had brought in the amend ment which we are now considering. Honorable senators who are complaining about subscribers to the war loan being exempted from income tax should have made their complaint before. It is too late to complain now. The objection should have been made before that measure was passed, or at all events, before it was agreed to by members of this party. I know an attempt is being made by honorable senators who are supporting this amendment to throw on those who are opposing it the onus of proving that they are not in favour of taxing wealth.
– It is very unfair.
– Most members of this party have preached that doctrine for many years in Australia, and because the doctrine has been preached by us, we are to-day calling more and more upon those people who hold the wealth to contribute towards the cost of government. It is because those views have been promulgated throughout Australia for so many years that they are now sinking deeply into the minds of our people. If honorable senators who are supporting this amendment mean to call upon honorable senators to state on which side they stand, I am quite sure they will find that those who are now opposing this breaking of an agreement will strongly support any concrete proposal for the taxation of wealth, not only in connexion with this war, but also in connexion with other things which Senator Stewart says he does not wish this sort of finance to be applied to at all. Because we believe in taxing wealth, not only in war time, but in time of peace, honorable senators ought not to be afraid to support an honest bargain entered into in the name and on behalf of the people of this country. I would rather support a bargain entered into in that way and take the consequences afterwards, than I would be a party to breaking an agreement entered into by the Labour Government.
– I am somewhat at a loss to know what we are to be asked to vote upon. Senator Stewart’s amendment, I take it, means that the Imperial Government are to be advised that we will not pay more than 3 per cent, for this loan, and no interest at all until five years after the war is over.
– Yes, during the term of the war, and until five years thereafter.
– Yes, that is as I understand it; but Senator Mullan says it does not mean that.
– I mis-read the amendment.
– That is as the amendment will be understood by the people outside, namely, that we are only to pay 3 per cent, for this loan, interest to begin five years after the termination of the war ; and that, meanwhile, we shall pay nothing. I cannot vote for that. I should be perfectly willing to support Senator .Stewart in giving preference to the manufacturers of Australia if we were discussing some item in the Tariff, for I know Senator Stewart is a good Protectionist, and I am prepared to go with him in that direction. I cannot follow him, however, in seeking to give preference to Australian money-lenders. Only last week we agreed to a loan for which we are to pay the Australian money-lenders somewhere about 5 per cent., when the concessions are taken into account: but in this amendment we are only willing to pay the English money-lender 3 per cent., five years after the war has ceased. That appears to me to be undue preference to Australian money-lenders, and altogether a most ridiculous idea. I would support Senator Stewart in a proposal to make the wealth of Australia pay a fair share towards the cost of the war. I believe that if we call upon men to risk their lives in the defence of Australia and the Empire, we should have the right to call upon the men who have the money to give the whole of it, and without interest, if it were needed for the protection of Australia. I am prepared to go with Senator Stewart that far, if circumstances arise to make such a course necessary.
– That would constitute quite a different proposition to the one under consideration.
– I believe, in times of war, manufacturers ought to manufacture without any profit at all. We know manufacturers make extraordinary profits, especially during war time, and if the necessity arose - I do not think the time has come yet - I believe our Government would get united support in demanding that the manufacturers of Australia, on account of the financial strain on the people, should not be allowed to make any profits, so that all the money should be available to the Government to prosecute this war in the interests of the people who own this country. But, as I have said, the time has not arrived, and we all hope it never will arrive. As far as the amendment is concerned, it is ridiculous? and I shall certainly oppose it.
.- The position, as I understand it, is that the Labour Government of the Commonwealth entered into a contract with the British Government some months back for this money on certain terms and conditions ; and it appears to me that if there was to be any protest against it at all, that protest should have been entered at the time the contract was made, because then there might have been some possibility of getting other terms or making other arrangements. But having reached its present stage, the time has passed for a protest. I sympathize with the sentiment which is behind the amendment, namely, that the capitalists of this or any other country should not expect to make profit out of the conditions under which we are now suffering. We know very well that in every country the capitalist expects to make more in time of war than in time of peace, because during a war the people are more directly under his thumb, so to speak. It has been said by honorable senators that the capitalists of Great Britain are abstracting more from the people now than in normal times, and that they have been doing it without any compunction whatever. We have seen it reported in the daily papers that the working people of Great Britain have been branded as traitors because they went on strike. Only the other day 200,000 men went out, but they were not traitors, and they were not disloyal. They went out as a protest against the robbery which was being committed by their bosses upon the public purse of Great Britain, and they forced the Government to take action to bring the employers to their knees. The people of London were obliged to pay three times as much for their coal as in normal times.
– There are a few of them in Australia, too.
– The terms of this contract, entered into by this Government and with the consent of their supporters, ought to be honorably observed ; but I expect that the time will arrive presently when we shall be faced with the responsibility of repaying this heavy debt, and regularly paying the interest thereon. Then will be the time for the Government and their supporters to consider the method by which those obligations will have to be provided for. Then will be the proper time for an honorable senator to submit a proposal of this character, and say, “ That is how we intend to find the money with which to pay the principal and interest.” That, in my opinion, is the right course to adopt. If the Government will only do what I think they ought to do it will do more to stop this kind of thing from being carried on than will any other step which they can take. Every one knows that nearly all wars are brought about by governing capitalists. I do not say that that applies to our own people at the present time, but I believe that the influence of the capitalist class is behind the war. It was behind the interest that impelled Germany to start out .to conquer the earth. The ruling classes in Germany were spurred on to that action, in my opinion, because they perceived that the power of the people was increasing at every election, and realized that in a very short period the popular will would overwhelm the power of the Kaiser and the capitalists. For that reason they felt that they had to grasp the opportunity, and to make secure the position which the ruling classes of the country had enjoyed for generations. When the war is over will be the time for this part of the world, which has taken a prominent part in the war, to make its mark in history by declaring how the financial responsibility for the war shall be borne. Then will be the time when the Labour party and ite supporters will be enabled to blaze a new track, and to say that the working people, who have done the fighting for this country, shall not be burdened with the whole of the taxation, and all the expense of the war. Then Senator Stewart and his supporters can come along with a proposal of this character, and they will have a whole-hearted supporter in myself, and I believe that most of the members of the Labour party will be found behind its author, too.
– During this discussion, the question with me has not been whether honorable senators individually are for or against the principle of a wealth tax, but whether the Labour Government is favorable to the imposition of a wealth tax for war purposes during war time. If we are to judge them by the Bill which went through the Senate last week, we can come to only one conclusion, and that is that there is a grave doubt about the situation. Pathetic pictures have been drawn here this afternoon. Senator Turley made a comparison, and referred to the amendment of Senator Stewart as forming the basis of “ a splendid system of finance.” He said that on the same principle the honorable senator himself might borrow money at 4 per cent., arid, after he had received half the amount of the loan, go to the lender, and say, “ I will pay you only 3 per cent, for the balance.”
– I said that somebody might borrow from him. That is a different thing.
– That makes the illustration still better. Assuming that position, and Senator Stewart to be one of the parties to the contract, it would not be so anomalous as the position that exists to-day, when we have the workers going into the trenches and fighting to protect wealth, and the wealth-owners paying nothing, comparatively, towards the cost of the war. In addition, they are not only taking cheaper money, as Senator Stewart would do under the illustration advanced by Senator Turley, but they are extracting increased profits out of the pockets of the wives and children of the men who are doing the fighting for them at the front; because, after all, this is a fight for the wealth producers and wealth owners. I wish to emphasize the opinion that this discussion, abstract though it may be considered by some persons, will have a good effect. It will show to the people, to members of the Government, I hope, and to the Labour party as a whole, that some definite steps must be taken in the direction of making those who are best able pay their share of the expenses of the war. It is the almost universal opinion amongst the masses to-day that that is not being done. I hold that the first action of a Labour Government should have been to bring in a wealth tax to finance the conduct of the war. Their second act ought to have been an increase in the land tax, and their third act the imposition of an income tax, because I have no doubt in my mind that all three will be needed before the war has been brought to a successful termination. I sincerely trust that honorable senators will, at any rate, acquit us of trying to, as it were, thrust a dagger of opposition at them. We believe that discussions of this nature are good, and give an impetus to the movements of the Labour Government. Our supporters outside - the workers and the great mass on whom the taxes are operating for the payment of. the interest on our debts - feel the position most keenly, and naturally expect a Government professing Labour principles to start at the top of the tree, and give wealth-owners the opportunity of contributing their part towards the defence of Australia and Great Britain.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The Bill being for war purposes, I am justified in pointing out that the inequality of sacrifice as between wealth-owners and workers demanded so far by the Fisher Government appears likely to continue. I received today from a prominent business man a letter running as follows -
The new war taxes are interesting us. I think either an income or wealth tax is good, with a preference for the latter.
– Neither of those questions is before the Committee. Senator FERRICKS. - The writer points out that the rich people who have comparatively small incomes are not paying commensurately with the wealth they possess, and he instances the case of a man living in a mansion at Toorak, which cost £20,000 to build, and drawing as income only £500 or £600 a year, as compared with that of a civil servant with a salary of a like amount, but with no corresponding wealth. We hold that the proper course for the Government is to bring in a wealth tax, and the Assistant Minister might give the Committee an assurance that such a tax will be introduced without delay. Conscription of men has been advocated in this Chamber, and we might with greater justification advocate the conscription of wealth.
– Neither of those questions is under our discussion.
– Both are in separable from the question of the war, for which part of this loan is being used. The Government are not right in postponing either wealth taxation or increased land taxation. If they brought in a wealth tax to begin with, there would perhaps be no necessity for us to raise war loans, at any rate, outside of Australia, although we may, in addition to a wealth tax, an income tax, and an increased land tax have to float loans in Australia for the prosecution of the war. If any more loans are floated, I trust that subscribers to them will not be regarded as making great sacrifices in taking up stock, and that the services of stockbrokers will be dispensed with. As we are not allowed to discuss the fundamental purpose for which the money is needed, I shall conclude by entering my protest against the attitude of the Labour Government in not going in for more direct and heavier taxation on those best able to bear it
Question - That the wordsproposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6, and title, agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
.- I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the passage of the Bill through all its stages without delay.
It is intended that Senator Russell shall move the first, and subsequently the second, reading. If, then, any honorable senator desires that the debate be adjourned, we shall have no objection.
– I wish once more to enter my protest against the suspension of the Standing Orders when we are dealing with matters of the gravest importance to the country. We had examples this afternoon and on Friday of the disabilities imposed upon honorable senators by the haste with which the Government endeavour to pass their measures. If sitting in opposition, I should have a great deal more to say on the subject than I have, supporting them as I do. It is extremely desirable that more time than the Government afford should be given to the Senate to consider these matters. The members of the Government have them under consideration for weeks, ultimately arrive at a conclusion, and at once spring them on us. After the first reading of this measure to borrow £1,500,000 is carried, the second reading will be moved and nut through.
– The Minister of Defence definitely stated that he would agree to an adjournment of the debate.
– I did not hear the Minister say so. He speaks in a nice whispering voice, as if addressing a meeting of ladies. If what the honorable senator says is the case, I am satisfied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time. The Bill proposes the raising of a sum of £1,500,000 to meet expenditure connected with the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. It is anticipated that this will be the last loan we shall be called upon to propose for the purpose, as it is considered that this money will be sufficient to complete the construction of the railway. We expect that the line will be open for traffic in December, 1916. The length ofthe railway, as honorable senators are aware, will be 1,053 miles.
– What will be the traffic ?
– We hope that there will be a good deal of traffic on the line, because many of us have greater confidence in the country through which it goes than to believe that it is the desert it has been reported to be. The rails have been laid for a distance of 579 miles. The material put into the construction of the line so far includes sleepers for 900 miles, at a cost of £750,000; rails and fastenings for 800 miles, costing £1,000,000; and rolling stock costing £500,000. The total expenditure to date is £3,700,000.
– What was the estimate of the total cost?
– The estimates varied, and depended on the State from which they came. In Victoria, for instance, it was estimated that the line would cost about £10,000,000, and in Western Australia the estimate was about £3,000,000.
– The official estimate of cost has already been almost reached.
– I cannot accept responsibility for any of the estimates made in connexion with this railway. Today the estimate of the cost of the railway is £5,900,000, but I wish to make it quite clear that a good deal of ballasting remains to be done on the line. I have said that it is anticipated that it will be opened for traffic in December, 1916. So far we have at the Kalgoorlie end completed the earthworks for a distance of 289 miles, and the plate-laying and telegraph lines for 288 miles. The number of workmen engaged at the Kalgoorlie end is 1,281. At the Port Augusta end the earthworks have been completed for 292 miles, and the plate-laying and telegraph line for a distance of 290 miles, whilst the number of workmen engaged is 1,196. Altogether the earthworks have been completed for a distance of 581 miles, the plate-laying and telegraph lines for 578 miles, and there is a total of 2,477 workmen engaged in the construction of the railway. With the amount previously voted, £4,400,000, the amount provided for by this Bill, £1,500,000, will bring the total vote for the line up to £5,900,000. This loan has some of the virtues which certain honorable senators wish to attach to the last loan which the State has considered. The money is to be borrowed from the Australian Notes Trust Fund account, and the interest, which will be paid into that Trust fund, is to be at the rate of 3£ per cent. I do not think that any one can complain of the terms and conditions of the loan proposed by this Bill, in view of the fact that, after all is said and done, it will be merely the paying of money from one fund in the Commonwealth Treasury into another. Most honorable senators are familiar with all the -details connected with the railway. It has been debated from A to Z, and there is nothing left us now to do but to continue its construction and hurry it on to a completion.
Senator FERRICKS (Queensland) (8.22]. - In case I should not be given another opportunity to deal with the matter, I wish now to refer to something which is brought under notice by remarks which have fallen from the Minister of Home Affairs in connexion with the control of the traffic on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway when it is completed. When dealing with the Estimates of his Department in the House of Representatives, the Minister of Home Affairs, in reply to comments by a member of the Opposition, stated that it was the intention of the Home Affairs Department to employ as permanent hands on this railway, in connexion with the traffic department, only the most reliable men. He said that the Government w.ould not put any man on the classified or permanent list unless he had a good discharge from a State railway or from some other railway. He gave as the reason for this decision that in the control of the traffic on this line the Government did not propose to take any risks. From the remarks which the Minister made, 1 assume and believe that it is the intention of the Government to pay these permanent railway hands, not merely a minimum or a living wage, but a fair wage, such as should be paid in all classes of industry and commerce. That being so, I regard this as a splendid opportunity for the Government, in undertaking the control of traffic on this Inter-State railway, to make it clear that men on the classified list, working on this line, will receive a fair wage, and their remuneration will stop at that. They should make it clear that the men will not be expected to increase their emoluments from gratuities given by the travelling public. This is a subject upon which I may be accused of repeating myself.
– It is a subject which I cannot allow the honorable senator to discuss on this Bill. It may be appropriate on some other occasion, but it is not appropriate to the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
– The Commonwealth was committed to the construction of this railway before I became a member of the Senate. I therefore do not offer any opposition to the further prosecution of a work which must be carried out to what, I hope, will be a successful conclusion. I wish to direct attention to the fact that the official estimate of the cost of this railway will be exceeded to the extent of not less than 75 per cent.
– The original estimate was £4,500,000, and that was afterwards amended to £5,000,000.
– The original estimate was £4,500,000, but four-fifths of that amount has already been spent, and only 500 miles of rails have been laid. This loan, which it is estimated will complete the railway, will bring the total expenditure up to £5,900,000, and that is a very substantial advance on the original official estimate.
– It is not an advance of 75 per cent.
– It is getting on to an advance of 50 per cent., and we have still no guarantee that the line will be completed by the expenditure of this further sum.
– It is not an advance of 20 per cent, on the original estimate.
– The present estimated expenditure of £5,900,000 represents an advance of more than 20 per cent, on the original estimate of £4,000,000.
– The estimate was £5,000,000 when the Bill proposing the construction of the railway was introduced.
– The original estimate was made before that time. There is a certain progression in these estimates of cost that it would be well for the people to take cognisance of. I am not particularly concerned about this line, the construction of which must now be continued, but I wish my remarks to be weighed well by the people of the Commonwealth, when, in the immediate future, official estimates will be submitted of the cost of another transcontinental railway that is now vaguely estimated to cost £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, but which I have no hesitation in saying will cost nearer £30,000,000 before it is finished. I hope that the Government, in bringing down their estimates of the cost of the line proposed from Oodnadatta to the Katherine River, will see that they are not so wide of the mark as were the original estimates of the cost of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that materials have very much appreciated in price since this railway was commenced.
– That is so, but they have not appreciated to the extent of the difference between the actual and estimated cost of the line.
– Costs have increased greatly through the war and the drought.
– There will always be a drought along this line. Some time ago we learned that they were carrying water in railway tanks for hundreds of miles, for drinking purposes for the men employed in the construction of the line. I believe that before the line is finished it will cost nearly £7,000,000. I hope that whatever Government may be in power when future railway projects on a similar scale are submitted to Parliament for consideration, we shall have official estimates of cost which will not hoodwink the electors, but will give them some fair indication of the expenditure to which the Commonwealth will be committed. I believe that the transcontinental railway, which we are told to-day will cost from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000, will cost nearly £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 before it is completed. I wish the Administration, the Parliament, and the people to consider the estimates of cost for projects similar to this when they are brought before them, as no doubt they will be in the most roseate colours.
– I wish to say a word or two on this Bill, I do not object to a few wild statements which put a little spice into a debate,, but there is scarcely any word which I can use to properly characterize the utterance of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. He must know that when the original estimates were prepared for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, the price of steel rails was very much lower than it is to-day. The price of the galvanized iron for the construction of a house might to-day exceed the price quoted two years ago by 100 per cent., and on that account Senator .bakhap would have the Senate believe that the estimated cost of a railway project in the near future will be increased to the same extent before the completion of the work. His deductions from the premises he lays down have been most amusing. Because the price of steel rails has risen to such an enormous extent during the last few years, therefore the cost of the construction of the transcontinental railway is going to exceed the original estimate as 40 exceeds 12. It is strange that such statements should come from an honorable senator representing a little corner where, if the railways ran at express speed, they would run off the island altogether.
– It is not necessary there to carry water in railway tanks to supply the men engaged in the construction of the railways.
– For the simple reason that if you stood in the middle of the island, you could dip up the water from the ocean on either side. It is exceedingly amusing to hear these gentlemen, who practically have breakfast on one side of their island State and dinner on the other side of it, instituting a comparison between railways in Tasmania and railways of, perhaps, a thousand miles in length on the mainland.
– In Tasmania the cost of constructing railways sometimes exceeds the estimates.
– Precisely. This * not the only occasion on which the official estimate has been exceeded, and, as I have already pointed out, exceptional circumstances are responsible foi that excess - circumstances which nobody could foresee. This fact robs the argument of Senator Bakhap of all point.
– I merely wish to make honorable senators careful in regard to the north-south railway.
– The honorable senator wishes to use the cost of the construction of the transcontinental line from east to west as a bogey to deter this Parliament from giving effect to a projects- 1 refer to the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek railway - to which it already stands committed. There is no justification for his deduction that because the east-west line has exceeded the estimate there is a .danger that the north-south line will also exceed the estimate.
– When the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill was before Parliament it was carried with the help of the Tasmanian representatives.
– I am not disparaging that help. I am merely pointing out that one representative of Tasmania has attempted to make the cost of this line a base from which to storm an enemy camp.
– He is a little Australian.
– We are justified in passing this Bill without indulging n comment of the character to which expression has been given by Senator Bakhap. It is not so long ago that a good opportunity was presented to this Parliament to purchase sleepers for the north-south transcontinental line on account of the favorable conditions which then existed. Yet the proposition did not meet with a favorable reception. When honorable senators complain that the official estimate has been exceeded, they should it least have been possessed of sufficient business acumen to appreciate the virtues of that proposition.
– I supported the proposal to purchase sleepers.
– Then the honorable senator ought not to argue as he did tonight. If we could have foreseen the increase which has taken place in the price of iron, probably the official estimate would not have been exceeded. But seeing that we could not, it is rather late for the honorable senator to take exception to what has been done now, and to hold ap the cost of this line as a wretched example of what may occur in time to come.
– This is another instance of the way in which unseemly haste on the part of the Government disables honorable senators from intelligently discussing measures brought before them. Here we have a Bill for the purpose of raising the sum of £1,500,000 for the construction of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. There are several matters connected with it which ought to be of interest to the Senate. In the first place, I should like to know, as nearly as possible, what this railway is going to cost. The information which has been given to us by the Assistant Minister has been of the most meagre character. I have been endeavouring to calculate how much the balance of the line which remains to be built will cost. The Assistant Minister has said that he hopes the amount provided for under this Bill will be sufficient to complete the line. I would have liked to have had more time to analyze these figures–
– The Government would have granted an adjournment of the debate if the honorable senator had asked for it.
– The Government showed no disposition to do so. I thought that the Assistant Minister intended to move the adjournment of the debate.
– If the honorable senator asks for leave to continue hia remarks he will secure its adjournment.
– I am not particular. Of course, I recognise that there are some honorable senators who are prepared to see this measure carried, no matter what the construction of the line may cost. I opposed the project from the very beginning. It is a wild-cat scheme.
– It is nothing of the kind.
– It is a wild-cat proposition. I venture to say that if after the line has been opened Senator Needham and his colleagues are given the option of travelling over it or of travelling by steamer, they will unhesitatingly choose to travel by steamer.
– Even if they did, that would have nothing to do with the honorable senator’s argument.
– If they wish to travel comfortably they will shun the railway as they would shun a place which I need not mention more specifically here. In regard to the cost of the line, I find that although over a little more than half of the rails have been laid, a great deal of ballasting still requires to be done. The statement in reference to it reads -
The length of the line will be about 1,053- miles, and the rails have been laid 579 miles - or half way - although the line cannot be said to be complete for that distance, as it has not been ballasted a great way. That practically means that the line has still to be ballasted throughout its entire length. Now we have been given to understand that the trains upon this railway will be run at a high speed. If that be so, it necessarily follows that the line must be soundly ballasted.
– When the honorable senator spoke of the line being only completed half way, he omitted to mention the stocks on hand.
– I know that the first estimate provided for the laying oi 70-lb. rails, whereas 80-lb. rails have been used. But the line has still to be ballasted throughout its entire length, and 1 imagine that ballasting will be very expensive. I do not suppose that ballast ca’i be found along the railway, and consequently it will have to be obtained from either end of it.
– Oh. no ! Ballast can be secured at many points.
– It is quite evident that the honorable senator does not know much about the country through which the line will pass.
– I know just as much about it as does the honorable senator, and that is very little. I imagine that a line running through what is practically a desert will not provide much opportunity for obtaining ballast.
– It is not a desert.
– Seeing that it has a rainfall of only 4 or 5 inches, what else is it?
– It cannot possibly be anything else. I ask honorable senators to recollect that the easiest portions of the line have already been constructed.
– And the most costly.
– The further the line gets into the desert the more costly will its construction become, both from a labour stand-point, and from the standpoint of obtaining material from either end of it. I am not opposing the liu.j. because that task would be hopeless. The work has been started, and probably *;he best course we can now follow is to complete it. But, so far as I can understand, the expenditure of a sum of £1,500,000 will be quite inadequate for the purpose. I agree with Senator Bakhap when he says that before the railway is completed, and in running order, it will probably cost about £7,000,000.
– That estimate is not all for construction. There is a lot of equipment to be provided for.
– Half-a-million pounds has been spent on rolling-stock.
– That will not be in the original estimate.
– The Minister in charge of this Bill stated that it is agreed that £1,500,000 will complete the railway.
– He hopes it will.
– The honorable gentleman kept his ears open for the saving clause. We have spent £5,200,000 upon this line, and I understood the estimate meant equipment and everythingstations, engines, carriages, trucks.
– That is not in the estimate for construction.
– But we are asked to find the money not merely for the construction of the railway, but for the equipment of it.
– For the construction of the railway. Read the Bill; you evidently want more time for its consideration.
– That is exactly my complaint. It is for the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and I take it that means a complete railway, in much the same way as you talk of a complete house.
– But when you talk of a house you do not mean the furnishing of it.
– But it does not mean a railway unless it is equipped.
– A house is a house, whether it is furnished or not.
– I do not think this sum of £1,500,000 will be sufficient, but that it will take much more than £7,000,000 to build and equip that line. I want honorable senators to look more closely into this position. . We are building up a debt, a huge and unproductive debt, as fast as we can. So far we have not spent a farthing upon any work which can be called reproductive, and certainly this Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway will not be reproductive for many years.
– The same objection was taken to the Adelaide-Melbourne line when it was proposed.
– But there is a vast difference between the AdelaideMelbourne railway line and the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie line, because in the former case there is a large city at each end, with a considerable population in between.
– So there is in this case.
– No; Kalgoorlie is not a very big city, and,, judging by present indications - I regret the trend very much - the probability is that, unless some new discovery is made, the population there now will, within a comparatively short period, have largely vanished. I say I believe it will cost £7,000,000, and perhaps more, to build and equip this railway. That means that we shall have an interest bill of at least £250,000 to meet, and if it does not pay for axlegrease - to use a common phrase, and I do not think it will for many years - it will involve us in a loss, probably of £100,000 or £200,000 per annum, so that we shall then have a sum of £350,000 to meet in the way of interest and loss on working. That will have to be met by the Commonwealth, in the face of all the debts we are now piling up in connexion with the war and other tilings, and, added to them, it will prove almost an insupportable burden on the shoulders of our people.
– Do you suggest that the work should be discontinued?
– I do not suggest that.
– What is your alternative, then?
– I am not offering any alternative. I am simply pointing out to honorable senators what their commitments are likely to be. We are proposing to spend £7,000,000 upon a project which will not pay within the next fifty years, unless some unusual development takes place. I opposed this line from the beginning, for it has been a political railway, and nothing else. It is nob a developmental railway in any sense of the word.
– It is a defence railway.
– It has been constructed because of the compact entered into between some South Australians and some West Australians, and it has to be carried out, no matter what the cost may be.
– It was a pledge given before Federation.
– I am merely placing before the Senate what the commitments of the Commonwealth are likely to be in this matter.
– You are a long way out when you quote £7,000,000.
– Even if I am, the honorable gentleman’s withers will still be unwrung. As a West Australian senator, he was interested in getting this railway put through, no matter whether it paid or not, what it cost, or whether it would be useful or otherwise.
– If I were a senator from any other State, I should be just as anxious for the construction of the line as I am now.
– I am a senator from another State, and from the beginning I could see that the expenditure on this proposal was to be a sheer waste of money, just as if it had been thrown into the burning desert, for the country between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta is nothing else. How can it be hoped that this railway will pay? Where is the traffic to come from, and who will travel over it? Members of Parliament, if they had their choice, would certainly take the sea route in preference to the land route, because a journey occupying two or three days over the desert will be a severe trial Upon any man’s endurance, whereas the journey round by steamer is one of the most pleasant sea trips I know of anywhere.
– Will the people of Western Australia travel by this line? Let the honorable senator ask himself that question. I am confident that the people of the western State, except perhaps those who live west of Kalgoorlie, will travel by the sea route, because the fares on the railway must necessarily be high. Except for those who can pay for first-class fares, and have sleeping berths, the journey will be an impossible one, so that the great mass of the Western Australian people will do as they do now - travel by steamer
– It is not an impossible railway journey from Melbourne to Brisbane, and this will be the same distance.
– But the conditions will be very different.
– It will be a journey through the burning sands of the desert, with not a house in sight, and not a drop of water except that which is carried over hundreds of miles of railway line, and very often stinking water at that, while the accommodation at the refreshment stations will probably be bad.
– There will be a dining car on the trains.
– But before a man can enter a dining car on that railway he will require to have his pocket fairly well lined, because I am sure no one will be able to get a dinner for much Jess than half-a-sovereign. Then, with regard to the goods traffic, will the merchants of Melbourne and Sydney place goods on that railway ? That is not very likely, because the steamers will compete with the line, and will carry goods at freights so much lower that the railway will not have a look in.
– Is not this a postmortem? I thought we had decided on this railway long ago.
– No, it is not a post-mortem, but rather an ante-mortem discussion, for the proposal is not dead yet, and I am confident it will require a very great deal of nursing to carry it through its initial stages. I have always considered it a waste of money.
– You are not talking like a great Australian now.
– PerhapsI am not a great Australian in the opinion of the honorable gentleman.
– You pose as one.
– I think I have as clear a perception of what Australia needs as any honorable gentleman who comes from Western Australia can have. I could tell this Senate where the expenditure of £7,000,000 on railways would settle a large population upon the soil, and add to the strength and stability of this country. The expenditure of this money on this railway will not settle 100 souls from one end of the line to the other. It is a sheer waste of cash and a complete foolishness.
– I regret that at this stage in the consideration of this railway Senator Stewart should have sounded such a pessimistic note, for, as honorable senators have pointed out by interjection, this is a line to which Australia is committed, and to defer any further expenditure upon it would leave us in a very much worse position than if we had never incurred any expenditure at all. I take exception to the distinct note of pessimism in Senator Stewart’s speech when he speaks of the interior of Australia, through which this line will pass, as a “ burning desert.” Recently I had occasion to interest myself in the development schemes by European Powers in Africa, and I must say that the information I gleaned in connexion with that matter came upon me as a very great surprise. In addition to being a surprise, I think the information is of such a character as to inspire the people of Australia with a very much greater hope than even the most sanguine of them have entertained regarding the future development of the interior of this Commonwealth. The information I obtained was from a book published as recently as 1913, and much of it with re gard to railway development could not possibly have been considered by honorable senators when the construction of this railway was under discussion. The author of this book, which is called The Last Frontier: The White Man’s War for Civilization in Africa, is Mr. E. Alexander Powell, F.R.G.S., who was in the American Consular Service in Egypt for some time. He deals with the different portions in relation to the various European Powers. The first Power he deals with is Prance, and certainly he gives to that country a great deal of credit for what it has done in connexion with the development of the Dark Continent. On page 8 of his book he says - “ When the English occupy a country,” runs a saying which they have in Africa, “ the first thing they build is a custom house; the first thing the Germans build is a barracks; but the first thing the French build is a railway.” Nothing, indeed, is more significant of the civilizing work done by the French in these almost unknown lands than the means of communication, there being in operation to-day in French Africa 6,000 miles of railway, 25,000 miles of telegraph, and 10,000 miles of telephone.
He goes on to deal with some of the specific lines which have been constructed and are in course of construction in all that north-western part of Africa which is south of Morocco and comes down to the great bend in Africa which goes into the Bight of Benin. I believe that a perusal of the book on the part of people will convey what is absolutely astounding information to over 90 per cent. of them. He says -
To-day, one can travel on an admirablyballasted road-bed, in an electric-lighted sleeping car, with hot and cold water running in your compartment-
– This is not Western Australia, is it?
– No; I am dealing with a country which has been regarded as worse than Western Australia - which has been regarded as par excellence the most unfruitful country on the face of the earth. It is the Sahara which the writer is dealing with. He continues - and with a dining car ahead- . -
He says nothing of a charge of half-a- sovereign for a dinner - along that entire stretch of the Barbary Coast lying between the Moroccan and Tripolitanian frontiers, which, within the memory of our fathers, was the most notorious pirate stronghold in the world.
– That is not the Sahara.
– It is north of the Sahara ; I am taking the quotation as it comes.
– In the country traversed by the transcontinental railway a pirate could not live.
– The writer continues -
A strategic line has been built 600 miles southward from the coast city of Oran, to Colomb-Bechar, in the Sahara, with Timbuktu as its eventual destination, and, now that “the long-standing Moroccan controversy has been settled for good and all, another railway is already being pushed forward from Ujda, on the Algerian-Moroccan border, and in another year or two the shriek of the locomotive will be heard under the walls of Fez the Forbidden. From Constantine in Algeria another line of rails is crawling southward viA Biskra, into the Sahara, with Lake Tchad as its objective, thus opening up to European commerce the great protected States of Kanem and Wadai. From Dakar, on the coast of Senegal, a combined rail and river service is in operation to the Great Bend of the Niger, so that one can now go to the mysterious city of Timbuktu by train and river steamer, in considerable comfort, and under the protection of the French flag all the way.
Then he deals with other parts of Africa, but I will not read what he says.
– Thickly populated from time, immemorial.
– By whom; by what
– By negro tribes, and by Mohammedan negro kingdoms.
– The author continues -
In Dahomey, within the memory of all of us a notorious cannibal kingdom, a railway is under construction to Nikki, 400 miles into the steaming jungle.
He deals with French Guinea, Madagascar, and Abyssinia. He says -
From Djibouti, the capital of the French Somali coast, another railway has been pushed as far up-country as Dire-Dawah.
– Tell us something about the country traversed by the transcontinental line.
– I am referring to this portion of the world because it has been regarded from time immemorial, and is to-day regarded by ninety-nine persons out of every hundred, as utterly hopeless - as absolutely incapable, so to speak, of maintaining a white population. Let us now take the United States. This book was written by an American, who was an American representative in
Egypt for some time in the consular service. At page 22 he says - and this is very informative -
It should be borne in mind, in any discussion of North Africa, that until the early eighties the Great American Desert was asprimitive, waterless, and sparsely-settled a. region as the Sahara. Its scattered inhabitants practised irrigation and agriculture very much as the people of Southern Algeria and Tunisia do to-day, and, like them, they constructed buildings of unburnt brick and stone.
– Where did they get. the water 1
– I was not there. I am reading what is in the book.
– There is not any water in Western Australia.
– This statement follows : -
Though the Indian was able to find a meagre sustenance upon the American Desert, just asthe Arab does upon the African, it was of a kind upon which the white man could not well exist. The unconquered Apaches plundered waggon-trains and mail-coaches just as the Tuareg occasionally plunders the Sahara tradecaravans to-day, and the only white men were the soldiers at scattered and. lonely posts, or desperadoes flying from the law. There isindeed, a striking similarity between the conditions which prevail to-day along France’s African borders and those which existed within the memories of most of us upon our own frontier.
When it came to the period of constructing railways in America, voices were raised in protest and in criticism in just the same tune as Senator Stewart has. been responsible for this evening. Mr. Powell continues -
Then the railways came to the American West, just as they are coming to North Africa to-day, and the desert was awakened from its lethargy of centuries by the shriek of the locomotive.
– But they had water there.
– Honorable senators can see in the Library comparatively recent maps of the United States, showing whole tracts of what are now States, marked as “ Desert “ -
The first railroads to be constructed were designed primarily as highways between the Atlantic and the Pacific sea-boards, with hardly a thought of revenue from the desert itself. But hard on the heels of the railway builders followed the miners and the cattlemen, bo that to-day the iron railway across the desert is bordered by prosperous cities andvillages, by mines and oil-derricks and ranches and white farmhouses with green blinds, thisonetime arid region, which the wiseheads of thirty years ago pronounced worthless, now yielding a wealth twice as much per capita asthat of any other portion of the United States.-
There we have a parallel in the case of the United States. Thirty years ago the wise heads, as Mr. Powell says, held that the country through which those lines are now going was absolutely and utterly worthless.
– The honorable senator must not forget that there were large rivers which could be used for the purpose of irrigation, and diverted into the desert.
– The writer of this book refers to those regions as being arid, and to those who criticised the construction of lines as predicting nothing but failure. Lines were built without any idea whatever of utilizing the country through which they were to run. They were built with a consideration only for the terminal points, but, as a consequence of their construction, those results have followed.
– Have you water to irrigate that country ?
– My honorable friend spoke at length, and I listened to him with a considerable amount of patience and attention.
– Will you answer my question ?
– I will pursue what I am addressing to the Senate. I am not going to be diverted by a succession of questions, each one disconnected with the other.
– Very good. That would prick your bubble, you know.
– My honorable friend has taken up this view, that the socalled desert of which he speaks is country which will never yield to the brains, or to the initiative, of the people of the Commonwealth.
– I did not say “ never.*’
– If in the United States they have overcome what seemed insuperable difficulties thirty years ago, is there any ‘ reason why we should not parallel that experience by applying ourselves to Australian conditions ? If we see the Sahara being laced with railways by the French, and if we see that country which has been regarded by all the world as absolutely unprofitable and unproductive so being dealt with, are we to lag behind ; are we to wait for somebody from outside Australia, who can never know as much of its conditions as we who are living here must know, to come in and exploit this country 1 These lines have to be constructed. If we realize that the land does look unprofitable at first, we must nerve ourselves to carry them out under the circumstances. We must realize what has been done in other parts of the world, and, seeing what has been done there, we should be inspired with the greatest hope and confidence in the result of our enterprise. We should be the last in the world to view any portion of the Commonwealth as absolutely barren and unproductive, and not likely to yield to the enterprise, the initiative, the energy, and the brains of its people. What Mr. Powell has written in his book so recently as 1913 will be a revelation to those who read- it as to what has been done by railway construction in what has. been regarded as some of the most unprolific patches of the world. The only other quotation I propose to read is a very short one. It is in regard to a line which is being constructed from up near Morocco in a southerly direction right through the desert. On page 53, Mr. Powell says -
From Dakar to Pernambuco, in Brazil, is less than 1,500 miles, which could he covered by a’ fast steamer in three days. There are already regular sailings between these ports, but with the completion of this trans-African system (and, believe me, it is far from being as chimerical as it sounds, for the French do not let the grass grow under their feet when they once get a clear right of way for railway building), ocean greyhounds will be placed in service betwen Dakar and the South American ports, it being estimated that the traveller who purchases his ticket vi& Madrid, Gibraltar, and then over the Moroccan-Saharan system, can journey from Paris to Rio de Janeiro in twelve days.
So, too, with regard to a line of this kind. The distances between Australians and South Africa will be lessened; the distances between Australians and India and Ceylon will be lessened; and the distance between the eastern portion of Australia and the Home Country will be considerably lessened. These are all factors. It was factors of that kind that influenced the construction of the lines which have been made in Africa. It was factors of that kind, as this American gentleman clearly makes apparent, that influenced the construction of the transcontinental lines of the United States - not a consideration of the intervening country, but of the terminal points. I rose mainly to deal with these factors, because I think that, since this Parliament has committed itself to this policy, the information I have had the honour of quoting has been collected, and it was not previously in a concise form for the consideration of its members. It is information which we all should have, and which we all should assimilate whenever we come to the consideration of one of the large railway problems which must confront us in Australia. We .should see what has been done elsewhere, what is being done elsewhere, the motives which have prompted that action, and the measure of success which is attending the action. I believe that the effect will be to inspire us with hope, confidence, energy, and determination to prosecute our necessary works rather than to encourage in our minds any such distressful feelings as those to which Senator Stewart has given utterance.
Senator NEWLAND (South Australia) f9.15] . - We have heard two antithetical speeches, one from a pessimist, who could see no good in that great portion of the Commonwealth which will be traversed by the east-west railway, and the other by an honorable senator who detailed the experiences of other countries that have constructed railways in country quite as bad, if not infinitely worse, than this. But for my anxiety not to delay the passage of the Bill, I could have quoted figures that might have made a difference to Senator Stewart’s opinion of the country. I will content myself by reminding the Senate that not many years ago, when the railway from Melbourne to Adelaide was proposed, a great many men in public life and out of it, with doleful faces, told the people pitiful tales of the losses that would follow the undertaking. The strip of country between the Murray and the Victorian border, known in South Australia from the foundation of the Colony as the 90-mile desert, was for many years regarded as a place where no man could live and nothing would grow. It was said that it would not carry a sheep, and scarcely feed the frisky rabbit. The railway was built, and that country is peopled with many hundreds of successful farmers. Practically the whole of it has been taken up. The farmers there are doing remarkably well, and the value of the land has gone up from a few shillings to anywhere between £5 and £10 an acre.
– The squatting influence in Queensland once held that the famous Darling Downs could not grow a cabbage.
– The very same argument was used in this case, and the honorable senator knows what railways have done for northern and western Queensland. I have no doubt that in this case the same result will follow as in other countries. The great fault which Senator Stewart finds with this part of the Commonwealth is the absence of water,, but that applies to many part3 of Australia. We had in Adelaide itself, during the last twelve months, a water famine, in a region where enough water falls every year to give us twenty, years’’ supply if we looked after it. The same thing applies on the east-west railway. If there is no water on the surface it can be secured by boring. We have blamed the railway authorities in the past for not providing a water supply ahead of the line, and if they had put down bores before the railway was constructed the water difficulty would not have been such a tremendous handicap to construction asit has been. Probably it is correct to say that more money has been spent on therailway than was anticipated, but the beginning of a large undertaking of this kind is always responsible for the expenditure of tremendous sums. At the initial stages the Commonwealth had to get together a large plant for construction purposes, and to purchase at Port Augusta considerable areas of land. Recently it acquired a large portion of the town of Port’ Augusta for Commonwealth purposes. All this costs money, but the plant and land are splendid assets. The Government intend to put up their own workshops, and to house their employees there, so that in the near future that part of the expenditure will return, not only interest on the outlay, but also a considerable profit. When the line was begun a great deal of levelling and filling up of swamps- was found necessary near- Port Augusta, and an expensive bridge had tobe built. I do not know how far they had to go down to get a solid bottom for the piers of the bridge. Immense sandhills had to be levelled, and all this work cost a lot of money. The construction plant is now the property of the Commonwealth, and available for the making of any other railways, but at the beginning the Commonwealth had to purchase everything it wanted, from a shovel to a locomotive. No wonder the expenditure has been greater than many of us like to see and than some of us expected it would be.
SenatorFerricks. - The possession of the plant is a strong argument for putting it on to the Northern Territory railway as soon as this railway is completed.
SenatorNEWLAND. - It can be put on to any railway. Judging from the utterances of some of its members, the Government are favorably disposed to a strategic railway from Brisbane to Port Augusta, and possibly the next shift of the plant will be to Brisbane.
– Hear, hear ! That is the place.
– Personally, I would sooner see it transferred to Oodnadatta.
– The north-south railway will be more in the interests of the Commonwealth for some years to come than the suggested strategic line. The cost has been added to considerably by the increased price of the equipmentrails, sleepers, fish-plates, and so on. During the construction the price of metals has gone up greatly. I do not know whether steel rails have increased in price to the same extent as galvanized iron, which has risen in a few months from £18 to £36 per ton; but when the price of materials takes such a jump, it is natural to suppose that the Engineer’s estimates will be considerably exceeded. We have also been handicapped through the want of sufficient water. Last year this district had an exceptionally dry season, and the scarcity was strongly felt in Port Augusta, where no provision was made by the State or Commonwealth Government for an adequate supply. I blame the Commonwealth for not taking steps to provide water for its own requirements, so that the railway could be constructed economically. We were handicapped also by inability to get enough locomotives. A large contract is now overdue, and the firms who were supposed to manufacture the engines have practically thrown the whole thing back on the hands of the Government. The railway has been constructed from Port Augusta to the present terminus with six engines, which are running night and day, and cannot receive proper attention. I am sure the Commonwealth will benefit by its ex perience on this line, and when it undertakes the construction of another railway will make provision beforehand for the necessary plant to carry on the work when a certain distance has been reached..
– We do not admit, any faults; this is the cheapest railway constructed in Australia.
– I am simply pointing out that certain developments took place which no Government could foresee.
– We do not want to apologize to people who thought they could build a transcontinental railway without money.
– I am making no apology. Doubtless the Government will benefit by their experience, and the next railway will be constructed much more cheaply than this one has been. The increased cost of living, both for man and beast, has also added greatly to the expense of the work. The Government have had to purchase chaff and sell it at a certain figure to owners of horses working on the line. Hundreds of farmers in South Australia obtained employment on the construction work for themselves and their horses. Had not fodder been provided on the terms arranged, many of those horses would have died, or had to be shot, and the Commonwealth would have been so much the poorer, so that the construction of the railway has already proved of great benefit to many people. The Commonwealth Government have had to open stores along the line from which the mem engaged in its construction have been able to procure what they required at as near cost price as possible. All these difficulties which have confronted the Government in the construction of the line have been to a greater or less extent surprises, and the effect has been to greatly increase the cost of construction. I am not quite sure of the figures for the traffic on the railway, but I do know that at the Port Augusta end there has been a substantial sum received from the traffic which has already taken place on the line. The part of the line constructed in South Australia goes through comparatively good saltbush pastoral country. In good or ordinary seasons that country is well stocked with sheep and cattle. As in other places, the stock there have been reduced by the drought, but they will be replaced, and a good measure of traffic “will accrue from that source in the near future. Another important point which -has already been made by Senator Keating is that the construction of this line will considerably shorten the distance between Australia and the Home Land, and will shorten the time required for the trip between Sydney or Melbourne and London. When certain railways under construction in other parts of the world have been completed, it will be possible to cover nearly half the journey between Australia and London by transportation overland. These facts should not be lost sight of by those who are disposed to criticise this railway in a captious spirit. The shortening of the distance between our centres of population and London, and the shortening of the distance which has to be traversed by sea, are matters of importance to a great many people whose time is money, and this railway should, in the circumstances, be regarded *ha the light of the benefit it will confer upon Australia in the very near future. I am not as well prepared with figures to-night as I would like to be in dealing with this subject, but I strongly deprecate all statements that would give the impression that this railway is being constructed through desert country. Very large areas of the country through which it goes are not desert country, but good pastoral country. Senator Stewart has said that the traffic upon the line will not for a considerable time pay for axle grease, but I am prepared to set my opinion against that of Senator Stewart, and contend that it will be a paying proposition before many honorable members of the Senate expect it will be. The experience gained in connexion with every railway connecting one large centre of population with another is that in a very few years’ time, directly or indirectly, it becomes a paying proposition. After all, it has to be remembered that a railway is a public utility.
– We all wish this railway well, but the point is that it is costing a great deal more than was originally estimated.
– While the honorable senator was temporarily absent from the chamber, I gave reasons for that which would have satisfied him. I explained that the price of materials had gone up to such an extent that no engineer making an estimate of the cost of she construction of the railway some years ago could have foreseen the increase in the price of material since that time. I hope that we shall not continue to hear these pessimistic utterances in this Chamber. If there is one country on earth that requires far-seeing men, with pluck and enterprise to propose schemes for its development by railway communication, that country is Australia. I have no doubt that this railway will be the forerunner of many similar railways in Australia. I believe that we shall have men in the Parliaments of this country who will not be afraid to spend a few million pounds upon such undertakings. They will certainly be necessary in the near future if we intend to keep this country for ourselves.
– It is the command of the sea that will keep this country for us.
– I am not so sure of that. I have no desire to be considered a pessimist ; but we must not overlook the possibility of the Mother Country losing the. command of the sea, and if that .should happen, Australians would be called upon to defend their own country. There could be no better means for its defence than to have it traversed by railways from one end to the other. I am sure that Senator Bakhap will agree with that.
– We must have an Australian Fleet sufficient to deal with possible enemies by water before an expeditionary force can be landed in Australia.
– Where are we to get the money for that purpose ?
– By saving our money, and not spending it on unprofitable railways.
– Honorable senators will remember that a few years ago many, even of the public men in Australia, deprecated the idea of building an Australian Navy. They said that we did not want a Navy, because the British Navy would protect Australia for all time. Now they thank God that we have an Australian Navy. Whilst it is not easy to build a Navy, it is a comparatively easy matter to construct railways in Australia, and this is only one of the first of the great railways which I believe the Commonwealth will have to undertake in the near future. I hope we shall not have many more of the pessimists “who are always complaining of the spending of money in barren wastes. The experience in Queensland, in Western Australia, and in every State of the Commonwealth that has gone in for an extensive railway system has been that it has led to progress by leaps and bounds. I have no doubt that the same result will follow the construction of this railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
– There are two points to which I wish to refer briefly before the question is put. In the first place, the discussion of the Bill has revived the old-time grievance of Senator Stewart. He was from the first, root and branch, against the proposal for the construction of this line. His opposition to the project still survives. He still adheres to his libel upon the character of the country through which the line goes. It is not even an ingenious lie, but one of those barefaced, clumsy lies, concerning the character of the country, which can be refuted by any one who chooses to read the reports which have been submitted to this Parliament. This railway has been called a “desert railway,” and I say that before any newspaper or public man describes 1,000 miles of the inland country of Australia as a desert, they should consider carefully whether it would not be fair that they should be dealt with as they would be dealt with for an ordinary libel. What are the facts ? We know from the reports that, so far as this railway is concerned, there is less than 100 miles of it on the South Australian border running through country of a light quality of soil, whilst the remaining 900 miles goes through country that is from very good to excellent pastoral country. Yet, in the face of the reports, which are available to honorable senators, we hear this lie and this libel persistently circulated by members of the Senate, as well as by the so-called organs of public opinion in this little corner of Australia. It is about time attention was called to this matter, and we considered whether it is not desirable to amend our libel law so as to protect the country from the aspersions cast upon it by people living here. There is little essential difference between libelling a man’s character and libelling his country, and I hold that something should be done to those who libel the country in this glaring fashion, to make them more guarded in the expression of their opinions.
In connexion with one of the main purposes of this railway, which is the defence of the Commonwealth, let me say that any one who looks at the map of Australia and contemplates the progress of the present war must come to the conclusion that from the point of view of defence we have not nearly a sufficient number of trunk lines of railway in Australia. If there has been one thing which more than another has enabled Germany to successfully prosecute the war by concentrating her forces at the points where they have been most needed, it is the perfected railway system of the country. The railway map of Germany to-day resembles nothing so much as a spider’s web. There are railways connecting with each other from every point of her frontier, and because of the perfection of her well-planned railway system Germany has been able to make a better use of her fighting forces than any other country in the worldSenator Stewart and others who oppose this Bill demand that our railway systems should be on a cash basis. I hope that this country will never be invaded, but we cannot expect that it will be the only country in the world upon which other people will have no designs. There maybe those who would like to establish themselves here and overthrow our institutions. If this Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway were not built, and the people of the Western State were endeavouring to hold the country against an invading force, there would be no means of bringing reinforcements to their aid to resist the invading force. What consolation would it then be to the General in command of the Forces of the Western State to have handed to him a copy of the balancesheets of the railway systems in the eastern part of Australia, showing that they were constructed on a cash basis 1 It would be no consolation to him at all, and it would be no safeguard for the country. We know, therefore, that, from a defence point of view, it was highly necessary that this railway should be built. What has conduced more than anything else to the success of Germany in resisting attack on both her frontiers has been her railway system, which permits her to concentrate troops within the shortest possible period at any point where they may be most urgently required.
Those who declare that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway will traverse only desert country affirm something which is opposed to fact, and are “doing the work of those at a distance who wish ill to Australia. This country has had enemies - enemies who have made their fortunes in it. When honorable senators say that the inland portion of Australia is worthless, they say that which its enemies have been saying for years. It is about time that we discouraged the practice of crying stinking fish. We can well leave, that to our opponents. It is not the function of any public man to draw attention to allegations which the facts of the case will not sustain. We require to be optimistic and courageous, and we require to encourage the spirit of enterprise wherever we may see it. The erection of poppet heads at Broken Hill, in the Gulf country, and in the far north of Western Australia, has been entirely due to the enterprising spirit exhibited by individuals. The Government are asked to lag behind, notwithstanding that individuals have gone forward and made the continent what it is to-day - a veritable witness to the enterprise of 4,000,000 people. We need to keep pace with the individual. We are lagging behind, and there are those in our midst who would have us continue to lag behind still more; but, fortunately, those who are of an optimistic and courageous spirit comprise the majority, and their enterprise nas been reflected in the carrying out of this great work. I support the Bill. I believe that the expenditure of £1 ,500,000 will complete the last link of this line binding the western State with the eastern States of the Federation. It will make the Union, so far as Western Australia is concerned, not a sham, but a reality. At present that State occupies a position very similar to that originally occupied by California in relation to the United States, and by British Columbia in relation to Canada. I have no desire to labour this question. I believe that the expenditure of £1,500,000 will prove ample to complete this great national highway. In the matter of cost, I do not regard the amount which will be spent upon the undertaking as an unreasonable one. When the line has been completed, its construction -will have cost a little less than £5,500 per mile, which, in my opinion, is not an unduly high cost. I do not wish to see a single pound wastefully expended, but I do desire to see the line substantially constructed, so that a high rate of speed may be maintained between the capitals of the States. I intend to vote for the Bill in the belief that the money which will be raised under it will be carefully husbanded and wisely expended, and that it will provide a fair wage to those engaged upon the construction of the line.
– Considering the amount which has already been expended upon this undertaking, I am sure that no honorable senator would dream of hanging up the work at this stage. I wish, however, to say a few words in regard to the expenditure that has been incurred in excess of the original estimate. We all know that in the initial stages of the undertaking we had to depend upon the estimate of a gentleman who delighted in the title of “ Engineer-in-Chief,” a very high-sounding title indeed. It is wonderful how some men achieve reputations, and upon how slender a foundation those reputations are built. I am sorry to say that in the selection of ite first Engineer-in-Chief the Commonwealth was very unfortunate. In my capacity as Chairman of a Committee which inquired into a matter connected with this line, I was afforded an opportunity of gaining inside information, as to his capabilities. Consequently 1 am not surprised to learn that the line is costing a good deal more than his estimate.
– It is not costing more on the basis of the material that he specified.
– If the survey which he recommended had been followed it would have cost a good deal more than it has. Not only was the route shortened in defiance of his wish, but, as a matter of fact, he expressed an opinion upon a line which was to traverse a portion of the country that he had never inspected. Anybody reading his report would naturally conclude that he had travelled over that country and had inspected the surveyed route; but when the matter was inquired into, it was discovered that he had only inspected a short distance of the proposed route from either end of the line. He never saw some 600 or 700 miles of country which the line will traverse towards its centre, and yet he did not hes: tate to give an estimate of its cost. It is through his blunder that the estimate was considerably less than the amount that is actually being spent; it is not the fault of the present engineers, who are carrying out their work to the satisfaction of the Government, and doing it well. We should saddle the responsibility on the right horse. The blunderer was Mr. Henry Deane, the first EngineerinChief. From reports that we have seen, and from press articles that we have read, we know that the men now in charge are doing their work in a workmanlike way, and that we are getting full value for the money we are spending. Any attempt to hang up the railway after so much money has been spent upon it, and in view of the necessity for such agreat undertaking, would be tie height of folly. Once the country through which the railway runs is settled, it will probably prove much better than even the most optimistic of us hope at the present time. What is generally referred to as desert country in Australia is gradually becoming less and less every year; as we begin to know it and settle upon it, its desert aspect disappears; and so what has been considered for so many years to be desert country through which this railway line passes, will prove probably to be very fair pastoral country. I have not seen the eastern end of the line except at Port Augusta, but I have seen the western portion at the Kalgoorlie end, and at the border near Eucla, and so far as I have been able to judge it is very fair pastoral country. But whether it is fair country or indifferent country, we know that there is another purpose for which this railway is being built, and that is the defence purpose; and seeing the great part that railways play for strategic purposes the construction of this line on defence grounds will be very easily justified.
– I regret that during the debate upon this Bill there has been just a slight strain of apology from quite a number of honorable senators. The fact that the estimate had been wrongly based appeared to be regarded as something for which regret should be expressed, or for which apology should be made, but had the line been built as originally designed by those who prepared the estimate the cost would not have been exceeded by one penny. It is only fair to those who framed the original estimateto say that the present Engineer-in-Chief decided to increase the number of sleepers per mile, thereby making a superior line and the weight of the rails has beenin creased from 70 lbs. to 80 lbs., thus adding to the asset the people possess. On the assumption that half the line was completed at a cost of £3,700,000, Senator Stewart built up a strong case against the cost of construction. In the same way I could argue that with half the line costing £2,600,000, £5,200,000 would not be a very bad estimate of the total cost, considering that the weight of rails has been increased and a greater number of sleepers has been put into the road. As a matter of fact, however, more than half the line has been completed. We have finished 526 miles, leaving only 474 mile yet to be constructed, and not only have we paid for all the sleepers and rails and rolling-stock for the portion completed, but we also have additional sleepers for another 321 miles, and rails and fastenings for another 221 miles, and we have rolling-stock in hand to the value of £500,000. In other words in addition to completing 52 miles beyond half the total mileage to be constructed, we have £1,100,000 worth of plant in stock. One honorable senator becoming wildly excited, made a lightning calculation that the line would cost £7,000,000, but if the railway is completed for that amount we can shake hands with the engineers, and congratulate them, because this will be the cheapest job of its class in Australia.
– Then provision will need to be made other than that made in the Bill.
– I mean at the present rate. I do not think any one in Australia will question the qualification of the present Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. Bell. He has had considerably more ex perience than other engineers in regard to construction of railways similar to this. He says -
I have been occupied continuously for thirtyfive years on the construction and management of railways. For the last fifteen years I have had control of hundreds of miles of line built by day labour. I may therefore presume to have acquired some knowledge of the subject, and from what I know of the conduct of the work and its cost, and from what I saw during my recent visit to the West, I can assure you that the men are working honestly and conscientiously; that they are working equally as well, if not better, than they would work for a private employer; that the supervising staff is probably as hardworking and efficient a staff as has ever been got together in Australia on railway construction work; and that there is no doubt that the final result will compare most favorably with any similar work done under contract.
After making allowance for the stock In hand, and for the completed portion of the work, I do not think that the original estimate will be exceeded by £1, except by reason of the fact that we have improved our asset by using superior or heavier material. I trust that we shall hear no further apologies for the cost of construction. The line will be a credit, not only to the people of Australia, but also to the engineers associated with its construction, and the employees working upon it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Treasurer may borrow £1,500,000).
– In the small hours of Friday morning last, when another Bill was going through, I took exception to a certain matter, which I notice recurs in this Bill. I refer to the fact that the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-15 is mentioned. I was ruled out of order on that occasion; but I want to point out that it is a pernicious principle to ask us to pass a clause which is dependent on another Bill to be passed, the nature of which we know nothing. For instance, I might be agreeable to the passage of this clause if there were not an alteration in the Inscribed Stock Act to be considered. The alteration of that Act might be of such a nature as to cause me to oppose the passage of this clause. This matter should be approached from a commonsense stand-point. Why should the amendment of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act be hung up ? I want to know from the Minister what is the nature of those amendments, to see whether they will affect my vote on this clause?
– I think we had the position with regard to almost a similar question decided last week. The constitutionality or otherwise of the Inscribed Stock Act is not a question which can be decided here ; but I might point out that the amendment proposed is merely a technical one, and necessary to enable the amount of interest to be increased from 3$ to 4£ per cent., and in order that the
Loan Bill should be strictly in conformity with the Inscribed Stock Act. I can assure the Senate that the amendment is only technical, and not worthy of notice.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Purpose for which money may be expended).
– I am apprehensive that some remarks 1 made on the second reading of this measure may be construed as a reflection on the professional ability of the gentleman who made the estimate. If my remarks are open to that construction, which I very much doubt, I would like to state that I always refrain from saying anything about the professional ability of officers who are not in a position to defend themselves immediately, and counteract the publicity which in many cases attaches to the utterances of a member of the Legislature. I want to be quite clear about this matter. I assure the Minister in charge that I had not the slightest intention to reflect on the professional ability of the gentleman who may have been responsible for the estimate.
– Why did your Government dismiss him, then?
– I do not know that any Government with which I was connected or supported had anything to do with the dismissal of the gentleman who was responsible for the original estimate.
– Everybody knows,, then, except you, that your Government dismissed him.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– Mr. Henry Deane.
– I understood that Mr. Deane resigned. But, be that as it may, all I can say is that my remarks, were directed to the necessity for such an examination on the part of professional men as would enable them to obtain exact data on which to base an estimate approximating at least to accuracy. I am not opposing the construction of this line, for that was determined before I cameinto this Parliament. I am apprehensive, however, in regard to projects of even greater importance than this, that, unless the professional men intrusted with the task of compiling the estimates areinstructed to make the closest possible examination of the routes, we shall be committed to an expenditure involving- many millions more than we were told of in the first place.
– May I call the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that this clause makes provision only for a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta ?
– Quite so; and I took the opportunity of speaking on this clause as the one on which I could, with greater propriety, hang my remarks. I want to make it clear that I intended to make no reflection on the ability of the man responsible for the estimates. I hope that, in connexion with any works of a similar kind, the professional men will be instructed to make an exact examination of the territory to be traversed, in order to give an estimate which will approximate to accuracy.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
It is proposed not to sit on Friday, and Ministers would like to be able to move the adjournment to-morrow afternoon sufficiently early to allow honorable senators from the neighbouring States to catch the trains to Sydney and to Adelaide. The only business before us is the Appropriation Bill of last year, and I appeal to honorable senators to allow the Bill to be passed during to-morrow’s sitting. Until it has been finally dealt with, a large quantity of type must be kept locked up at the Government Printing Office. It will save much labour and money to release that type, so that the printing of the Estimates and Appropriation Bill for the current year may be commenced. There will be opportunities later to deal with departmental grievances in connexion with the consideration of the Supply Bills that will have to be introduced.
– Can the Minister inform the Senate whether we are likely to have an opportunity to deal with the Budget and Estimates for the present year before Parliament closes?
– I have on the notice-paper a question which, at the request of the Minister, I postponed on Thursday and Friday of last week and again to-day, and I am afraid that if it is not answered tomorrow, my correspondence on the subject with which it deals will get entirely out of hand, because it is flowing in in an ever-increasing stream. The sum of £15 is allowed to each nurse who is chosen to accompany our Expeditionary Forces, to pay for her outfit, and I wish to ascertain how that sum was arrived at, and to get from the officers primarily responsible a statement of the requirements which they think can be bought for it. I have it from some of the nurses who have gone to the front that £15 falls far short of the amount required to provide the necessary outfit. We should give our nurses everything that they require for the performance of their duty. The acceptance of their offer to nurse our men at the front involves travelling preparations, as well as the provision of a nursing outfit, and £15 is far too little to meet all the expenses to which these nurses are put. I hope that the Government will take into consideration the desirableness of increasing the allowance. A nurse, to qualify for the practice of her profession must undergo an arduous training extending over a number of years, at the end of which time she has little or no spare cash. We need for the service of the wounded nurses who are young, and whose experience is thoroughly up to date; but many such nurses are now practically debarred from volunteering. From information which I have no reason to doubt, I understand that some of the nurses who have left for the front had to go into debt to obtain the necessary outfit, and that the present arrangement virtually allows only those who are in a good financial position to volunteer for nursing service abroad. This is contrary to the democratic principle which should underlie our defence system; and I think that the matter has only to be brought under the notice of Ministers to obtain some alteration. I believe that the sum of £15 was fixed as sufficient for an outfit under the impression that our nurses would go direct to England, and from there to the Continent. But some of the nurses who have gone away have written to say that many of the things with which they were compelled to provide themselves are useless in Egypt. A circular is issued to each nurse chosen to serve abroad, in which, under the heading “ Australian Imperial Force,” “ Nurses’ Outfit,” it is set forth that -
In addition to the regulation articles on list to be obtained by each member of the A.A.N.S., I would strongly advise all to take a good supply of their nursing clothes (dresses, aprons, caps, cuffs, collars, &c), which they have been using at their work in civil life. These will be required, and permission is given to wear them at discretion of officer commanding ship or unit.
With these clothes an armband, white linen, 4 inches wide, could be provided with Geneva red cross, 3 inches each way, bar 1 inch wide.
Nurses should always wear a red cross arm band or brassard on ship, and when with their units. A simple cotton washing hat or sunshade, as well as a warm cap for outdoor work are advisable (quite plain and simple).
Ordinary civilian clothes must not be worn on ship or when with corps, but may be taken for wearing when away from hospitals. These can be packed and placed in hold of ship, and should not be valuable, as they may be lost.
Nursing staff have to provide most of their own mess furniture. As it is not possible for them to meet and purchase mess kit before embarkation (it may be possible to do it at the last port of call in Australia), it will be safer if each nurse brings with her a small kit for herself, consisting of knives, forks, spoons, enamel plates and cups, and table napkins and rings, &c. Nurses should also bring plenty of personal linen.
Through the next paragraph in this copy I notice that a pencil line is run; but in other copies which I have the paragraph is not marked. I take it that this copy has been marked by the person to whom it was sent for some reason -
Tent Equipment. - Each nurse is required to bring her own bed or stretcher.
I think that the writer of one of the letters I have says that certain nurses were informed that they would not be required to fulfil that .condition, but that others had been required to do so.
Tent Equipment. - Each nurse is required to bring her own bed or stretcher, which should be strong as well as light, and pillow, rugs, &c. Three blankets are provided by the Department. Stretchers are not essential, as the regulation military valise may, if preferred, be used. I would not advise it for nurses. Camp stools or deck chairs, or both, are extremely useful.’
Undoubtedly they are, and I notice that, many of them include in their accounts a deck chair, but they are merely told that it is extremely useful, which it undoubtedly is.
Every article should be marked in large letters, with nurse’s name.
Iron boxes or trunks should have name of nurse and unit to which she is attached painted plainly thereon in white letters, as well as a red cross.
Luggage for Ship. - Take for cabin articles likely to be wanted on voyage, and no more. The rest be placed in hold.
Sea kit bags will bc placed on ship for all ranks, and can be drawn after embarkation.
A.s far as possible, nurses from each military district will be accommodated together on ship. They will be advised to arrange their own cabin companions after embarkation.
The next paragraph is as to the rates, of pay. Amongst the correspondence I have on this subject are individual instances of the accounts which have ““been received and paid by different nurses who have gone to the front, but in no instance did the allowance of £15 cover the requirements. They run in various instances from £21 up to £28. Before I ventured to make any reference to these matters in the Senate I consulted with persons experienced in nursing and the requirements of nurses. I also consulted with ladies who have had a good deal to do with the subject-matter of equipping nurses, though not nurses themselves, and I was told that the allowance does not meet the cost of the kit that the nurse is required to provide herself with. I think that a very substantial increase should be made on the amount.
– Has she to pay the balance out of her own pocket?
– Yes. There are instances to my own knowledge where nurses have gone from Australia leaving themselves in debt, and there are also cases to my own knowledge where the friends of nurses have assisted to finance them out of Australia. The life of a nurse after she has gone through her period of training is one not necessarily of constant occupation. She may manage to save something; she may have a busy twelve months, or she may have a period of intermittent employment. It is only those who have had a considerable amount of employment and have been able to put aside savings who are able to provide themselves with the outfit and pay cash before they go. As I said before, those who have just served their term, and who are youthful, eager, and energetic and most up to date are, to all intents and purposes, deprived of the opportunity to serve their country. I can assure the Minister that I know of individual cases where young ladies, eminently qualified for this work, are debarred and hesitate to volunteer for service by reason of the fact that they cannot face the financial cost involved in the purchase of the outfit to go to the front.
– There are about ten applicants for every vacancy.
– That may be, but still the Minister would get applicants who are not at the present time able to finance themselves in regard to the matter.
– Can they use any portion of the outfit, or the whole of it, for private purposes afterwards?
– I am not. in a position to say. I dare say that some portions of the outfit would be usable afterwards.
– It becomes their personal property.
-But there is a good deal they are required to get which they would not have to provide themselves with if they were resident in a particular locality, and were not travelling.
– And a very great deal which they are already in possession of.
-.- There is, and there are things that they have to provide themselves with, as anybody voyaging abroad would have to do, which otherwise they would not think of purchasing. I notice that the writer of one letter says -
In my humble opinion, and judging from what I have heard from Egypt, out of the £14 15s.-
That is only part of her account - spent at Ball and Welch’s, about one-third would be wearable in that climate. Of course, if we are going to England, that would be a different matter.
Of the excessive cost of some of the goods on the account there can be no two opinions. The items are quoted, as follows : -
The writer says that these are excessive amountsandI have been assuredby others who are not nurses, but who have had considerable experience in equipping and outfitting nurses, that in some respects these items are. Something has been said, too, both here and elsewhere, with regard to the nurses being required to go to a particular firm or firms. I have been informed by some of the nurses that they have been orally instructed, or advised, to go to particular firms.
– Can you give me the name of any officer who has so instructed or advised?
– No. The nurses have written to me to this effect - “ I was told that I was to get my things at So-and-So’s.”
– May they not ask for advice on the subject?
– They may. I am making no dogmatic statement in regard to the subject. I have seen that complaint put forward, but from what I have been informed I gathered that individual nurses have probably been told that they could get their goods at suchandsuch a place.
– It is a very necessary suggestion to a stranger coming to Melbourne, surely.
– It may be. I am not indorsing the complaint which has been made that the nurses have been confined to a particular firm or firms. In some of the letters they say, “We are told that we can get our uniforms at SoandSo’s.”
– Are these complaints being made by nurses who have been accepted, or by nurses offering themselves ?
– The complaints have come from nurses who have been accepted, who have paid the accounts, but who have found that the allowance of £15 does not nearly meet the cost of the outfit.
– The stretcher arrangement would cost several pounds in itself.
– From the letters I have received, it seems that the experience of one is only a repetition of that of others. I hone that the Minister will recognise that this complaint, which is so widespread amongst the nurses, has a foundation in fact, and that he will realize that it is desirable at this juncture that the whole position with regard to providing outfits should be dispassionately reviewed. I speak without any idea of raising any feeling on this subject, except the desire to go into the matter thoroughly, and see what is a fair and proper allowance to make, so that we may leave it open to all nurses in the community, irrespective of their financial means, provided that they have the ability and the skill to offer their services. That is all that I desire, and I earnestly hope that the Minister will give the fullest consideration to the position, and realize that this amount was probably fixed at the time when the present conditions of the war, and the services of our soldiers in the Gallipoli Peninsula, and their residence in Egypt, were not in contemplation. I hope what I have said will have the effect of causing the Minister to give the matter further and earnest consideration, and that, if the Minister finds in the course of that consideration that these complaints are well founded and properly voiced, he will take the earliest possible steps to redress what will be a recognised grievance, and that a sum equal to the requirements they are asked to provide themselves with for these services for us shall be provided in all cases.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [10.36].- I had intended to bring before the attention of the Minister the question which Senator Keating has dealt with, and I wish to indorse the honorable senator’s remarks, and to quote briefly from some of the correspondence I have received on that subject. We all agree that, after the care and attention to be devoted to the men fighting in the trenches, our next consideration should be the care and comfort of those devoted women whose duty it is to attend to the wounded soldiers. The complaints which Senator Keating has voiced are general in all the States. In Adelaide I have heard the same grievance expressed. I have been told that the allowance of £15 is utterly inadequate to provide the uniform and equipment which the nurses are expected to take with them to the front. I wish to quote some remarks made by a member of the Legislative Council in South Australia, to whose statements I attach particular importance, because he has two sons at the front and also a daughter who is a nurse, so that he is well in touch with these matters, and is naturally made the recipient of various complaints regarding the position of Bed Cross nurses. His remarks supplement the inquiries I have made and correspondence which I have received. Mr. D. J. Gordon, M.L.C., with whom I had some conversation before I left Adelaide, has written to me as follows: -
Referring to our conversation, I am informed that the practice of the Department in respect to nurses accepted for service outside of Australia is to supply them with a list of all uniforms, clothes, bedding, &c, required by them, and to make a grant or £15 in each case. As the requirements, however, invariably cost between £40 and £50 (according to any little variation in quality), each nurse who goes away to serve bor country in a professional capacity is immediately out of pocket to the extent of from £25 to £35. I have checked these figures in respect to several nurses, and I believe they are accurate.
I have also been informed that no nurse should go away unless she has £50 or £60 of her own money available, as the pay allowed - half that of a private - is not sufficient to keep her in little et ceteras. I know now of a fully qualified nurse, ready and willing to go abroad, but who is unable to do so because she cannot afford to supply herself with compulsory necessaries over and above the departmental allowance.
I think it is a terrible thing that these women, after many years of training, who can command good salaries here in private nursing, and who are just as patriotic and keen as the soldiers, should not get better treatment.
I can assure you I have no personal interest in the matter, and merely appeal to you because I feel that justice is not being done to a most important part of the service.
I hope that the Minister, in addition to considering the utterly inadequate allowance made to the nurses for the purchase of equipment, will also reconsider the pay which these devoted sisters are receiving, having regard to the arduous nature of their duties and the hardships they have to endure.
– I am informed that at Broadmeadows at this juncture a number of casual labourers are employed by the Home Affairs Department, and that the method of engaging them is not in accordance with that adopted by other Departments to give effect to the policy of preference to unionists. The Defence and Postal Departments, when requiring casual labour, send a notification to the union office. There a register of the men out of work is kept, and they, in their turn, are sent to the place where their services are required. The Home Affairs Department is responsible for the employment of casual labour at Broadmeadows, and requires the men to report themselves at Broadmeadows, which is a considerable distance from the localities where most of the men live. I desire to bring under the notice of the Department the fact that the officers of the United Labourers are prepared to render the same service to the Home Affairs Department as to the Defence and Postal Departments by supplying the casual labour required at Broadmeadows on an intimation being sent to the union office. The grievance U that the men are expected tip report themselves at Broadmeadows before they are actually engaged. Everybody knows that at a time like the present if ten men are required 100 men will apply for the job. It would be more just if the Department Bent a notification to the union office that so many men were required.
– Are you sure that no notice is sent to the secretary of the union ?
– I am informed that no notice is sent to the union governing the casual labourers. I am sorry that I did not mention this matter to the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs this afternoon, so that he could have been in a position to put the facts before the Senate this evening, but he can reply to my statements at a later date. I hope that he will see that the men are not handicapped by being required to apply at Broadmeadows, when the labour required can be sent there without inconvenience to anybody.
– I suppose that other honorable senators, like myself, have a number of unfortunate women, the relatives of men wounded or killed in the trenches, calling upon them, and I have found that the facilities for giving information to those women are not what they ought to be, and could easily be improved. Women have complained to me of the manner in which they are treated when they make inquiries about their lost relatives. I have no desire to make any complaint; I wish merely to point out a possible remedy. I saw Mr. DeWitt, the paymaster at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney, and he agreed with me that the Department was not in a position to give the satisfaction to inquirers that he would like to give. In one case a lady, whose son was killed on the landing of the troops at Gallipoli, went to the barracks to ascertain what pay was due to her. She was advised to write to Melbourne, and on doing so received a reply that the Defence Department had decided to pay relatives for two months, so that during that time they would be able to apply for the pension. Unfortunately, this lady is not entitled to draw a pension, because she was not a dependant. There are a number of weeping women trying to find out these things, and men are not so fitted as women to deal with the inquiries. In the Old Country women are appointed to attend to these duties, and 1 suggest the adoption of the same system here. Many business women would be able and willing to do the work in an honorary capacity. When I told the lady I have referred to that she was entitled to nothing, and had to explain all the circumstances, I confess I did not like it. A suitable place should be provided for inquiries to be made, because there is no waiting room for women at the Victoria Barracks, Sydney. It took me a quarter of an hour to reach Mr. De- Witt. Some improvements in the direction I have indicated are desirable to give relief to inquirers.
– One or two aspects of the matter referred to by Senator Barnes have surprised me. I shall give the matter my personal attention tomorrow, and let the honorable senator have an answer later.
.- There is no intention that Parliament shall rise for a considerable time, hut there will be a brief adjournment, and I would inform .Senator O’Keefe that there is no possibility of the Budget being presented before that adjournment. I understand the Treasurer proposes to make a tentative financial statement some time nest week. There is not a great deal of business for next week, but some of it is important, including the War Pensions Amendment Bill, Inscribed Stock Bill, and Compulsory Voting Bill, and there is a probability of the introduction of a Bill dealing with war taxation. Complaints have been rife recently in regard to nurses’ uniforms. I have not had time to look into them vet, but intend to do so. It is a very difficult question to settle. No doubt if it was left to the nurses to say how much they would like to spend it would run to a large sum, and I felt inclined to gasp when Senator O’Loghlin mentioned £40 or £50 as an outfit allowance. Many of the things mentioned in the. list alluded to by Senator Keating are already in the possession of women following the profession of nurse, but the list is given, not as that of things which have to be purchased, but really as an indication of what they are to leave behind. We ought not to act meanly, but rather should act generously to the nurses, and I will look into the question. As regards what Senator McDougall said, Sydney Head-quarters are in possession of the full information possessed by Head-quarters here. If any district head-quarters are sheltering themselves behind the claim that they have no information, I should like it made clear to me. because they know as much as is known hern about what relatives are entitled to. If any officer in Sydney says he is not able to give these people information, he is saying what is not true. The position is made absolutely clear in every district, so that questions on the subject may be answered properly, and at the proper time. Something may be said for the suggestion to appoint women to deal with these cases, but, after all, we must have somebody responsible to make statements, because they commit the Department. Persons rendering honorary service might not correctly interpret what was told them,’ and might commit the Department to all sorts of liabilities. It is far better to have unequivocal statements made by an officer, who can be held responsible for them. The systems here and in the United Kingdom are not comparable. There they do not even notify the relatives of persons killed or wounded , and the scenes caused there are due to the fact that the first intimation people get is the list posted on the wall. The Commonwealth system is far more merciful. There is no need for relatives to go to public places to find out the casualties, or even to ascertain their rights regarding payment, because a letter to the district paymaster will elicit the information. He knows exactly what he is entitled to tell the people on the facts submitted to him. He has the records as to next of kin, and knows whether claimants are dependants or not. We are doing all we can in the most merciful way to assist people, but, at the same time, I am always ready to welcome suggestions for improvements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150728_senate_6_78/>.