6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills re ported : -
Treasury-bills Bill (No. 2).
Inscribed Stock Bill.
– Is the Minister of
Defence aware that the War Committee have made a very large number of alterations in the second schedule to the War Census Act, whereby they have almost completely obscured the work done by the Senate in connexion with that schedule?
– The honorable senator must not make any statement in askinga question.
– Is the Minister of Defence aware of that fact, and, if so, will the Senate have an ample opportunity to discuss the alterations before the schedule is issued to the public!
– The regulations are on the table of the Senate, and honorable senators have their remedy.
– Regarding the launching of the destroyer Torrens, is the Minister of Defence aware that invitations have been issued to members of Parliament to attend the ceremony, which is fixed for 9.45 a.m. on Saturday of next week, and, if so, whether that time was fixed with the view to an adjournment of the Houses of Parliament before that date, or if it was not so fixed will it be possible for members of Parliament to attend to their parliamentary duties, and also to be present at the event ?
– I have spoken to the Minister for the Navy on this subject, and he told me that that hour had to be fixed owing to the tide.
– Has the Department of Defence made any arrangement for the treatment of returned soldiers who are mentally afflicted, apart from any asylum for the insane ?
– The question of the employment of the returned soldiers has been referred by the Government to the Parliamentary War Committee. A number of recommendations have been made by that body, but the question raised by the honorable senator seems to be outside their scope, and, therefore, I ask him to give notice of the question.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if there are in his Department any commissioned officers holding highly remunerated positions who have not volunteered to go to the front; and, if so, will he furnish the Senate with a list of such officers, showing their age, duties, pay, and place of residence?
– I do not think that would be a fair thin? to do for this reason, that I have intimated publicly that I will not allow permanent officers to leave the Commonwealth, owing to the depletion of the staff. It would be hardly reasonable to allow the idea to go forth that the officers had not volunteered for service. As a matter of fact, every permanent officer is at the disposal of the Government’, either to send away or to keep, and, therefore, there is not an obligation on a permanent officer to volunteer. If the Government wish to send such an officer away they can. In view of the fact that many officers who would like to go have not volunteered because of my intimation, I do not think it would be fair to publish a return, as it would be misleading.
– My question related to commissioned officers, and not to permanent officers.
– They are all commissioned officers.
– The only commissioned officers employed by the Department are permanent officers.
– Are all commissioned officers in the pay of the De- ‘partment; for instance, is Senator Gould in its pay?
– He is not a permanent officer.
– No; but he is not in the employ of the Department. I am asking as to officers who hold highly paid positions, and young men, too.
– If any officers are holding paid positions in the Defence Department they are permanently employed, and I have already announced that I will not allow any more of such officers to go to the front.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is it not a fact that a great many of the men in the Forces who have desired to go to the front have been unable to go in consequence of the regulation?
– That is a fact.
– A large number of non-commissioned officers are anxious to go, and cannot get permission. These men are blocked in their promotion by commissioned officers being given well-paid billets in the training camps.
– Both commissioned and non-commissioned officers were told long ago that no more officers would be allowed to go to the front, except in special cases where great skill was required.
– I do not wish Senator Gould to think for a moment that he was in my mind when I instanced his case. We who know him are aware that he is much over the military age.
– Do you mean militia officers?
– The case I had in my mind was that of a commissioned officer recently appointed to the new camp at Ballarat at a salary of £700 a year. He is a comparatively young man, and he did not volunteer to go to the front. That is the kind of case to which my question referred.
– That is the case of a militia officer who has been called up for service. Do I understand that the honorable senator wants to know how many militia officers, who are of the age of active service, have been called up by the Department, and have been given appointments, and have not volunteered for active service?
– If the honorable senator will give notice of a question in proper form, I will endeavour to ascertain the information, but I suggest that the inquiry should be confined to that class of officers.
– I ask the Minister of Defence if he has yet received the return from the Commandant of Tasmania in reference to the purchase and sale of certain military horses at the Claremont and Mowbray Remount Depots, for which I recently asked ?
– On the occasion in question the honorable senator asked -
Whether it is a fact that two horses were sold recently from the Claremont Remount Depot, Tasmania, one animal bringing 5s., and the other 15s., or about these prices?
The replies are as follow : -
The Commandant at Hobart has furnished the following information concerning this question: -
The records in this office show that five, not eight, inferior horses were sent to the Mowbray Remount Dep6t late in 1914. Of these four were purchased in the south of Tas« mania.
Captain D. C. Lewis and Mr. G. E. Piesse purchased four horses, and Captain R. C. T. Phi lp and Farrier-Sergeant Winfield purchased one. Prices paid as follows: - £14, £14, £14, £16 and £15.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he has obtained any information in reply to a question which I put to him a few weeks ago ?
– I have a lengthy statement in answer to the honorable senator’s question, which I shall lay on the table of the Senate. It reads-
Statement compiled from returns furnished by the Deputy Postmasters-General in the several States with regard to underground cables, copper wire, rubber wire, twisted wire, braided wire, rubber tapes, and compound tapes imported during the past four years for the use of the Electrical branches of the General Post Offices : -
Detailed Statement in respect of Item 1. Underground cables, showing approximate sizes, lengths, and relative values : -
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether he has received any information in regard to the mis– carriage of correspondence between soldiers stationed in Queensland, which I brought under his notice some time ago ?
– I have not, but I will again have the matter brought under the notice of the Department.
– I ask the Assistant Minister when we may reasonably expect to receive the report of the Land Tax Commissioner ?
– I will have inquiries made into the matter, and will let the honorable senator know the result as soon as possible. -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
And when will it be available?
– The answers are -
Advertising in Queensland.
asked the Min ister representing the Minister of Home
Affairs, upon notice -
– The reply is as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The reply is as follows : -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That standing order No. 08 be suspended up to and” including 27th August, 1915, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past Ten o’clock at night.
– I move - That, in view of the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, it is desirable that a Small Arms Factory, with necessary provision for housing workmen, be erected forthwith at Canberra.
Although the Public Works Committee Act provides that only the House of Representatives may, by resolution, refer matters to that Committee, the Government feel that this is a subject of: such importance that it is essential that the views of both Houses of the Parliament should be obtained on it. Before the federal Capital site had been selected, it had been decided to erect a Small Arms Factory and a Cordite Factory, and the Government of the day chose Lithgow, in New South Wales, as the site for the former, and Maribyrnong, in Victoria, as the locality for the Cordite Factory. I can safely say that, had the Federal Capital site been selected, and had the Federal Parliament been constituted as it is now, there is not the slightest doubt that both those works would have been established at Canberra.
– Where you said there were no foundations.
– The honorable senator, I think, is talking about one particular site, and I might tell him that it is not proposed to put this Factory on the Federal Capital site at all, but in the Federal Territory. Honorable senators will remember that when the question arose of establishing two other Commonwealth factories, there was a very strong feeling that both should be in the Federal Capital Territory, and it was only because no power had then been provided for, that Parliament did not insist on both, factories being placed in the Federal Territory.
– What about the Woollen Mills ?
– I will come to that presently. It was agreed at that time that the factories should be only temporarily established in the city of Melbourne, and any one who is acquainted with those buildings will know that in the case of one we took an existing building, and in the case of the other we put up a building of’ a temporary character, with the idea of ultimately removing both to the Federal Capital Territory. Senator Guthrie has raised the question of the Woollen Mills. But surely he will know that a suitable water supply is an essential condition for the successful management of a woollen factory. The quality of the article turned out is largely determined by the quality of the water available. The expert who was brought to Australia to manage the Woollen Mills visited, by my direction, the Federal Capital Territory first, but reported that the quality of the water was not good enough. Nobody regretted that fact more than I did myself. Various other sites in the Com.monwealth were inspected, and Geelong was fixed upon, the determining factor being the quality of the water available there. With regard to the Small Arms Factory, it has been decided that the plant shall be duplicated. We have a small area of land at Lithgow, but anybody who is acquainted with the configuration of the country will know that the available land there is V-shaped, mountain ranges forming the two side lines, with the result that there is only room for expansion at the mouth of the V, where the land is of a swampy nature. Owing, also, to the configuration of the country, the town is in the apex of the V, and the action of the Commonwealth Government in placing the Factory there has led to a tremendous increase in the price of land, for, while in the early stages land was obtained by the Commonwealth at about £25 per acre, upward of £600 has since then been asked for land upon which to erect an extension of the Factory. Practically every penny of that increased value is due to the activities o’f the Commonwealth, and the expenditure of Commonwealth money. In addition, we have to remember that in deciding to order the duplication of the existing plant we have a favorable opportunity, if ever a change of domicile for the Factory is to take place, to make it without any interruption to the manufacture of rifles. The building for tlie whole plant required can be erected at Canberra, and the existing plant may continue to run at Lithgow as it is running, to-day, and, if necessary, the two plants can be worked separately during the war. From the time the new factory is established at Canberra, it can be operated as an additional factory, and when the war is over the plant at Canberra can continue working, while that at Lithgow is removed to Canberra. It cannot, therefore, be argued that the proposal of the Government will lead to any interruption of the manufacture of rifles in Australia. On the other hand, there will be a certainty, owing to the duplication of the plant, of an increased output of rifles during the war. The only interruption to that increased output will arise after the war is over, while the plant now at Lithgow is- being removed to Canberra. The policy of the Government is to make Australia self-supporting in the matter of munitions of war. It is the policy of the Government also that, as far as possible, the manufacture of munitions of war shall bc carried on in factories owned and controlled by the Commonwealth Government.
– That is our policy.
– That is the policy of the Government, and of the party they represent. With that end in view we are at the present time negotiating for the purchase of plant for the establishment of an arsenal comprising a group of factories in which we shall make shells and the components of shells, big gun cordite, and eventually field guns and machine guns. It is our opinion that, in order to secure economic and effective administration of all these operations, they should, as far as possible, be centred in one arsenal.
– According to the late manager of the Lithgow Factory there is nothing to prevent machine guns being made at Lithgow instead of rifles.
– It would involve the adaptation of the existing plant for the manufacture of machine guns, and the interruption of the supply of rifles. But there is an obstacle which, perhaps, the late manager of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory was not aware of, and it is that there are certain patent rights in connexion with the manufacture of machine guns which are recognised by our own patent laws, and which would have to be arranged for. That is a very interesting side-track, and though I could say a great deal more on the subject, I do not propose to follow it up. The policy I have outlined would, if given effect, result in the establishment of a very large business, the employment eventually of thousands of workmen, and the creation of a manufacturing centre vital in the defence of the country. The military authorities advise us that we should aim at two tilings in connexion with the establishment of an arsenal. First of all, it should not be easy of access to a landing force from the sea, and should not be located where it could be easily struck at from the sea. Secondly, it is just as essential that it should be established somewhere near to the strategic railway lines, so that supplies might be transferred quickly from the arsenal to any part of the Commonwealth where they might be required. Canberra, as the location of an arsenal, complies with both these essentials. Lithgow fills only one of them. It may be admitted that Lithgow is perhaps more inaccessible from the sea than is Canberra; but it cannot be claimed that, so far as railway communication is concerned,
Lithgow is as advantageously placed as Canberra will be when the two short lines are constructed to link it up with the main line between the various State capitals. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the strategic line proposed by the Government some time ago, linked up with the line to Canberra, would give quick access to all the States of the Commonwealth from that centre by an inland railway far removed from the seaboard, difficult of access to an enemy, and consequently not liable to interruption. From the point of view of railway communication, before munitions manufactured at Lithgow can be distributed to the different States they have to be brought to Sydney, or close to the neighbourhood of Sydney. It is an axiom of the naval school that a naval attack upon an enemy should be at the points where it is possible to do the enemy most damage. Any one considering the coastline of Australia, may easily pick out the ports offering the most tempting inducement to an enemy to make a naval attack. If by a naval attack an enemy could not only destroy our naval arsenal and dockyards, but at the same time interrupt the railway system of the Commonwealth, and so interfere with military operations, there would, of course, be a double inducement to attack such a centre. A naval attack upon any part of Australia would not seriously interfere with the efficiency of an arsenal at Canberra; but a successful attack upon Sydney would seriously interfere with railway communication between Lithgow and the different States of the Commonwealth. We are in this position: We are about to spend a large sum of money in buildings and plant for a Small Arms Factory, whether at Lithgow or at Canberra. Although we are at present at war, this is the right time to consider whether we have chosen the best spot in the Commonwealth at the present time, and if we are not satisfied that we have done so, to make provision for the necessary change now. I do not mean by that that we should transfer the plant at Lithgow now, but that we should build the new Factory at the better spot. So much for the naval and military reasons for the Government proposal. I come nowto what may be called the political or economic reasons. The Commonwealth Government are the owners of a very large territory atCanberra. It is not in the highest sense of the term a very fertile district, nor does it appear to possess any particular advantages in the possession of mineral resources that would attract a large population. It will become the political centre of Australia, and by becoming the home of the heads of the Administration will attract some population. But if Canberra is ever to be very much more than a merely political city, there must be manufacturing industries established there that will keep a population equal to the population of some of the larger cities of the Commonwealth. Another important consideration is that, in the Federal Territory, the laws of the Commonwealth and its supremacy are unchallenged. Its word there is supreme. No question of State rights can be raised. No clash of Commonwealth and State powers can ever arise. No question can be raised as to whether the State Factory Act or the Commonwealth law applies, or as to whether the decision of the State Wages Board or the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court applies to the employees in a factory. But all of those questions can and do continually arise outside of the Federal Territory wherever the Commonwealth activity is displayed by means of factories. I could give some instances which I regard as being of a most deplorable character to indicate the difficulties created in that way. In one instance where a Commonwealth factory has been established, the local governing body has refused to spend a penny on the upkeep of a road benefiting the factory in the hope of being able to’ extract from the Commonwealth Government the money for that purpose.
– That was” the case with Lithgow up to lately.
– It was the case in Lithgow, and in practically every case where the Commonwealth has established a factory the local governing body has aimed to throw on the Commonwealththe whole responsibility of maintaining the road to or past the factory. In the Federal Territory that question cannot arise, because the roads will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth, and there will be no power in a local governing body to hold up the Commonwealth unless it pays what they say it ought to pay. The same thing applies to all other services, whether it be water, light, or anything else. The Commonwealth will be supreme master in the Territory, and therefore it can direct its services in such a way as not to hinder and interfere with the development of the factories, but to aid and increase their efficiency. Having determined that the Capital of the Commonwealth shall be at Canberra, having incurred a large expenditure to provide a water supply and a cheap power plant, and the place being otherwise suitable for the purpose, surely the time has arrived when the Commonwealth should utilize those advantages for the benefit of its people. Every pound of value added to the land in the Federal Territory by the expenditure of Commonwealth money wilt go into the Treasury and become the property of the people. So that when we want to erect an additional factory, instead of having a private land-holder holding a revolver at our head and demanding, not the price which he paid for the land when the Commonwealth went there, but the value given to his land by public expenditure, it will reap the value which by its expenditure it has created in the district. That seems to me to be a sound proposition. I come now to some of the arguments which have been used in favour of leaving the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. One contention is that Lithgow is a coal centre, and that the Factory should be retained there because there is no coal at Canberra.
– Whence will the Government get a supply of coal for a factory at Canberra?
– I will deal with the coal question. At Canberra we shall not require coal for a Rifle Factory, because a power planthas been established there. At Lithgow coal is used for generating power; practically no other coal is used there except a little in the blacksmiths’ furnaces. Oil is used for quite a number of operations. At Canberra the necessity for burning coal to generate power will not arise. That will apply to a large number of operations at the Capital. Again, the coal districts in the southern portion of New South Wales are not very far distant, and can furnish any coal which may be required.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - By what method will the power at Canberra be generated - by water?
– By water.
– What stream?
– The Cotter River.
– Surely not for the power-house at Canberra?
– I find that I was in error in that regard. The power is generated Dy coal. At Canberra we have a general plant which will provide all the power required for the city.
– You will want coal there. It is not going to be a coal-less city.
– At Lithgow it is necessary to have a special power plant for the Small Arms Factory alone. We have no general power to which we can have access, and if we duplicate the plant we shall also have to duplicate the power plant. On this question I have a memorandum by the Director-General of Works -
It has been contended in debate that the higher price of coal at Canberra will lead to increased cost of making rifles.
This point should be disposed of. Coal is not used in the manufacture of rifles except for the purpose of raising steam for generating power. A comparatively small amount of coal is used for warming and other purposes. Furnaces for forging use oil. Thus the question is, whether the main consumption of coal for generating power will be greater at Lithgow or Canberra, notwithstanding the lower price of coal at Lithgow.
At Canberra a high efficiency plant with labour-saving devices has been installed, and from the figures available regarding the cost of power at both places, it is evident that the total cost of generating power at Canberra will be less than at Lithgow.
Such a result will always be attained where there is a power plant with a large output of electrical power as compared with a small plant such as is required for a Small Arms Factory.
The question of the supply of steel has been raised, because steel is made at Lithgow. It is contended that the Factory should be retained there. But not a pound of steel has ever been produced at Lithgow suitable for putting into a rifle.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - But it will be produced there.
– We hope to get steel there some day, but Lithgow is not the only place in the Commonwealth where steel is produced. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company are producing steel at Newcastle, and certainly their plant is more up-to-date than the one at Lithgow. It is just as likely that we shall have to get steel from Newcastle as from Lithgow, but it should be borne in mind that the great cost in a rifle is not the raw material, but the labour. The value of the steel or, for that matter, the wood which is used in a rifle, is infinitesimal. I believe that the Senate will carry the motion almost unanimously, because it is able to view the question from the Australian stand-point, and not as to how it may affect a particular locality. It is our duty to our constituents and to our country to look at the matter from the standpoint of what is best for Australia. The Government believe that, in the interests of the country and from the defence stand-point, the sound policy is to establish the Factory at Canberra. They believe that in the long run that will be the most economical course to adopt. They consider that this should be looked upon as part of a general scheme for providing munitions of war for the Commonwealth, and that it should be in our own Territory, under our own control.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - What time will be occupied in the erection of the Factory?
– I am given to understand by the Home Affairs Department that they can erect the buildings in less than twelve months. By “ the buildings “ I refer to the plant and portion of the buildings for the homes of the workers. It may not be possible in that time to erect all the permanent buildings for the workers, but it will be possible to erect all the buildings for the plant, and a certain number of buildings for the workers, and, of course, all the temporary buildings which may be necessary for that purpose.
– The estimate is eighteen months.
– That is their estimate.
– On what site in the Territory are the buildings to be erected, and who suggested the site - the Departmental Board, or Mr. Griffin?
– I am not concerned with what site is chosen. That matter has been referred to the Public Works Committee for an expression of their opinion. It is immaterial to us which site is chosen. The question at issue is whether the Small Arms Factory should be established in the Federal Territory. As regards the site, the Committee may be left to make a recommendation, and then Parliament can decide. I forgot to mention that the question of accommodation for the workers at Lithgow is a very serious one at present. It is governed very largely by the. private land-holder
He has the situation entirely in his hand. He can extort whatever he likes, whether it be from the Government or from the worker.
– What about those persons who have already made their homes at Lithgow ?
– That is a question which the Government can take into consideration, but those persons, of course, have had to pay through the nose, too, just as the Government have had to do. If the Factory is retained at Lithgow, it will mean that for all time the workers will be subjected to that extortion, whereas at Canberra a garden city will be built, and comfortable homes provided for tlie workers at a very reasonable rental. The men will have far more comfortable homes at Canberra than they could provide for themselves elsewhere. They will be able to get homes at cheaper rents than they could obtain them from private individuals. It will, we believe, be to the advantage of the workers in the long run that the Small Arms Factory should be removed to the Capital. If, however, the Factory is continued at Lithgow, and the Commonwealth has to take up the question of providing homes, the cost of land will be very high, and that will reflect itself in the rentals which will have to be charged. It will really mean a reduction in the wages of the workers in the Factory as compared with what they would receive if established at Canberra, where a lower rental could be charged, owing to the very much lower price of land.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [3.55].- I realize fully the difficulties which must confront the Senate in dealing with a proposal of this character at the present moment. If no Small Arms Factory was established in the Commonwealth, and no war was in existence, I think that the arguments put forward by the Minister of Defence would carry very much greater weight than they do. The question which troubles my mind is> : Under which scheme may we reasonably expect to best turn out the rifles which we need so very much ? In a time of emergency expedition must be one of the primary considerations. A little while ago I invited the Minister to express an opinion as to the time which would be occupied in establishing the Small Arms Factory at Canberra. I understood him to say that twelve months must elapse before the plant and some of the workmen’s cottages could be erected there. Could a second factory be established at Lithgow more expeditiously?
– We cannot get the. necessary plant in less than twelve months.
– I thought that steps had already been taken to order it.
– Exactly. But we cannot get it in less than twelve months.
– The war may be over before then. We all hope that it will be. We wish to insure the establishment of this Factory with the utmost expedition. I admit that a great many reasons have been advanced in favour of its erection at Canberra, but, nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that, under existing circumstances, the balance of advantage lies with Lithgow. I know that some honorable senators argue that the manufacture of all munitions of war should be in the hands of the Government,’ and to them, of course, the proposal to establish the Factory at Canberra is an exceedingly attractive one. But is it not desirable that private enterprise should be encouraged to play its part in producing munitions of war?
– How does that question arise?
– The Minister has pointed out that the object of his party is to insure these works being undertaken by the Government.
– Have not the British Government had to take control of the private factories in the Old Country?
– Yes ; ‘and if similar difficulties were experienced here, I would be prepared to support the Commonwealth Government in following their example.
– The British Government have proved that private enterprise is no good in time of war.
– I see no reason to object to the course that has been adopted by the Imperial authorities, because we must all recognise that the safety of the people is the supreme law. That safety cannot be insured unless we can produce munitions of war with the utmost expedition. The Minister has pointed out the difficulty which he says exists in regard to the acquisition of land at Lithgow. I have seen the Factory there, and I know that there are hundreds of acres surrounding it which are practically empty. The difficulty which apparently confronts him is that of the high price which would be asked for that land. But, whilst an excessive price might be asked for it, the Government have it in their power to obtain that land upon the basis of a fair valuation. I am aware that £600 per acre is the price which has been put upon certain land in that neighbourhood, but I would point out that that price would apply only to a limited area in the vicinity of the Factory which has been cut into building allotments, and would not apply to any large area.
– It applies to 10 or 12 acres in one block.
– Is it not a fact that Mr. Carr, a member of another place, has under firm offer the whole of the land in that neighbourhood at about £40 per acre ?
– That is only a cock-and-bull yarn.
r- ALBERT GOULD. - I do not know what might be the price asked for a particular allotment, but I do know that several blocks of 40 x 150 feet can be carved out of an acre.
– I think that a man is entitled to a larger block than that.
– I admit that the land at Canberra will cost very much less than would the land at Lithgow. But we must recollect that we have already established a Small Arms Factory at the latter place, and that, as the result of our action, many persons have been induced to purchase land and to erect dwellings there. These people, I submit, are entitled to some consideration. They ought not to be victimized owing to the removal of the Factory, seeing that they have erected their homes there for the express purpose of enabling them to work in that establishment. The Minister has said that the Government will build homes for them at Canberra. But how long will it take to erect sufficient accommodation there for the men who will be employed in the Factory ? In addition, we ought to recollect that at Canberra we shall not have the opportunity of securing the casual labour that can be secured at Lithgow.
– How many applications has the honorable senator had to get men into the Factory at Lithgow 1
– “Very few. . The Minister has pointed out the desirableness of establishing the Factory at a sufficient distance from the coast to prevent the possibility of it being attacked by a hostile force. That is a very wise provision to make, but both Lithgow and Canberra ‘ fulfil that necessary condition. The Minister entertains the view that power can be supplied more cheaply at Canberra than it can be at Lithgow. Whilst I recognise that it costs relatively more to provide power for a small factory than for a large one, I question whether the disparity in the present instance would bs sufficiently great to constitute a factor worthy of our consideration. The Minister has also pointed out that if Sydney were attacked, and the western railway were destroyed, great difficulty would be experienced in getting supplies to Lithgow. In reply, I would direct his attention to the fact that already there are railways connecting the southern and western lines of New South Wales, so that there would be no necessity to drag material to Sydney. If strategic lines are to be constructed, and Canberra is to be the centre of our railway system, there is already connexion between the western and southern lines of the parent State, whilst a connexion is now being built between the western and the northern railway systems. Then the Minister stressed the fact that the Lithgow Council is inclined to throw a* great burden on the Commonwealth in the matter of the construction of roads. But at Canberra the cost of road construction would fall exclusively on the Government.
– But we would be improving our own property.
– The construction of roads would nevertheless involve us in a considerable outlay.
– But there is a big difference between the two things. At Canberra we should be improving our own property.
– But we must also bear in mind that it is a property which has not altogether a tangible value, inasmuch as we do not propose to alienate any portion of the Territory. That being so, the improvement will be of very little value to us so far as our purse is concerned.
– Will not an increased rent amount to the same thing?
– What increased rent shall we get? The Small Arms Factory will be established outside the city, and the rente charged to the workmen for their cottages will be based on the original price of the land.
– Where people are gathered together tradespeople will quickly come.
– Unless the Factory be located a considerable distance from Canberra, I venture to say that the bulk of the business will be done from that centre. I have no desire to labour this question. I admit that the proposal of the Government is a very attractive one, but I would point out that we are not now contemplating the initiation of a Small Arms Factory. A factory has already been established at Lithgow, where, as the result of our action, certain vested interests have been created, and we ought to be very careful I?st we destroy those interests.
– I am in favour of the motion, and I want to congratulate the Government upon finding work for the Senate to do. We are usually told that it is no use discussing academic questions here, or in bringing on matters in which there is no business; but I want to point out that,* so far as this Seriate is concerned, there is no business in this motion. Last week Senator Lynch put the following question to the Minister of Defence : -
Whether, in view of the proposal to remove the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow to Canberra, which has been made in the House of Representatives, the Government will give an opportunity for the discussion of the subject in this Chamber ?
Senator Pearce replied as follows :
I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the fact that Parliament, in passing the Public Works Committee Act, provided that the recommendations of that Committee should be placed before the House of Representatives, because that is the House in which expenditure originates. An opportunity to discuss the matter in this Chamber will arise on the Supply Bill, which we expect to have here this week >r next week.
That was the actual position as stated by the Minister, and that is the reason that
I am now congratulating the Ministry upon finding work for the Senate to do, although, in my opinion, it will be positively useless for us to discuss this matter. The position is clearly outlined in the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913. Section 15 of that Act describes the method by which works shall be submitted to the Public Works Committee, and sub-section 6 of that section states -
After the receipt of the report of the Committee, the House of Representatives shall, by resolution, declare, either that it is expedient to carry out the proposed work, or that it is not expedient to carry it out :
Provided that the House of Representatives may, instead of declaring affirmatively or negatively as aforesaid, resolve that the report of the Committee shall, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, be remitted for their further consideration and report to the Committee; in which case the Committee shall consider the matter of the new reference, and report thereon accordingly.
Section 16 reads -
If the resolution of the House of Representatives declares that it is not expedient to carry out any proposed work, no proposal for a public work in substance identical with that work shall be submitted to the House of Representatives until after the expiration of one year from the date of the resolution unless the GovernorGeneral, by writing under his hand addressed to the Committee, declares that in his opinion and in view of the public interest, it is desirable that any such proposal should be re-submitted to the House of Representatives.
– That only applies to the construction of works. This motion applies to a change of location.
– This motion also applies to the construction of works. I am in favour of building within the Federal Territory a factory for the manufacture of arms and munitions, as well as factories for the manufacture of the various other articles mentioned by the Minister in his speech. But why are we’ dealing with this matter now? In my opinion, the motion by the Government is a gigantic piece of bluff - nothing more nor nothing less.
– It is a demonstration.
– I regard it as a piece of bluff; and, so far as I can see, there is nothing in the motion at all.
– But you congratulated the Government on introducing it.
– Yes, I did congratulate them; but it is useless for the Senate to consider the motion, because the decision of this Senate can have no effect upon the policy of the Government.
– It is an academic discussion.
– All we can do is to discuss the matter when the subject comes before us in the Supply Bill.
– All effective action on the report of the Committee must originate in the other place.
– Yes ; and be decided there, outside the question of voting the money. We do not want things like this to occur every now and again. The report by the Public Works Committee was submitted to the House of Representatives for the approval of that Chamber. We have seen that, as the debate proceeded, the Government realized the numbers were against them, with the result that the debate was adjourned; and now the Senate, it appeal’s, is to be used as a stalking-horse with the idea, possibly, of influencing members of the other House, because it is well known that a large number of senators, if not a large majority of the Senate, is in favour of establishing Government factories in the Federal Territory. I am prepared to vote for the motion as submitted; but there is no reason why the Senate should be used as a stalking-horse to influence members in another place. As I have shown, this motion can have no effect whatever. All effective action must be taken in the other place. If the House of Representatives adopts the motion for the erection of the buildings at Canberra, the Senate can only discuss that matter on the Supply Bill for the new works and buildings.
– I intend to oppose the motion, and I would like to place on record, as Senator Turley has done, my protest against the action of the Government in bringing on the motion at all, because, in my opinion, it is entirely out of order.
– Have not the Government as much right as any private member to bring on a motion for discussion ?
– Possibly they have, and my attitude with regard to this motion may appear strange, for in October, 1911, I submitted a motion, which was seconded by Senator Givens, to the effect that all Commonwealth factories should be erected in the Commonwealth
Territory. I am prepared to vote for that now; but I realize, as Senator Turley does, how useless it would be for the Senate to carry this motion. I am going to oppose it for the reason that we are at war If we were setting about the establishment of this Factory, I would certainly like to see it in the Federal Territory, but I would point out that the Factory is already in existence. By the erection of the works at Lithgow, the Government induced a large number of men to make their homes in that town, and I cannot indorse the suggestion by the Minister that the people who have established their homes there must suffer, by the removal of. the Factory, just as the Government might suffer. At the present time it is impracticable and out of the question to shift the Small Arms Factory to Canberra. I have read a report in the press - apparently an inspired report - to the effect that, even if the Factory were shifted, the Government would continue the Lithgow works by carrying on the manufacture of ammunition waggons there; but it is probable that once the works have been shifted, Government activities at Lithgow will decline. I am quite sure that if the Government intimated that they intended to shift the Cordite Factory to Canberra there would be a strong protest, but I would support a motion to that effect, and, indeed, any motion to shift the whole of the Government factories to the Federal Territory. If the Government had taken action on my motion some time ago, there would probably have been 15,000 people now employed in Canberra, and that would have been a substantial nucleus for the building up of the population in the Capital City. But, unfortunately, nothing was done, and now, for patriotic motives, and because of a great Australian sentiment, we are told that we must shift the Small Arms Factory to the Federal Territory. If this sentiment existed, we could have established all the factories there, and I believe, also, even the Woollen Mills could have been placed in the Territory, although the Minister has stated that the quality of the water is not suitable. The water from the Cotter River, however, is pure snow water, and certainly the best in this country. I intend to oppose this motion because it will take a great deal longer time to establish the Factory in the Federal Territory, and increase the output of rifles in Canberra, than would be required to obtain the same results at Lithgow. According to the report, the alterations at Lithgow will be completed in twelve months, and the building at Canberra will take eighteen months.
– Whose estimate is it that it will take eighteen months?
– Colonel Owen’s.
– No; he says it will take twelve months.
– This is my own estimate, then. It will take twelve months after the Factory is completed before you can get a rifle out. If the works to Lithgow were extended, double the quantity of rifles could be produced in just half the time it would take at Canberra - and we know that we want small arms and munitions very urgently. We should take this factor into consideration, and that is the reason I intend to oppose the motion. I believe that the extension should be made at Lithgow. There is machinery lying idle at Sydney to-day which could be utilized where it is, or transferred to Lithgow, . for the production of certain parts of rifles. It is even better adapted for the purpose than is some of the machinery now working at Lithgow. This machinery is at present idle in a factory at Randwick where, I have it on the best authority, an entire machine gun has been produced. The manager of the Lithgow Factory desired to take possession of some of the machines at this Randwick Factory and remove them to Lithgow. He was not prepared to use the Randwick Factory as it stood, but he was prepared to remove some of the machinery to the Lithgow Factory. If this machinery were utilized, we could secure an increased output of rifles twelve months earlier than we can hope to do so by the erection of a factory at Canberra. That is one reason why I oppose the motion. It can have no effect whatever. The Senate is an absolutely useless Chamber, so far as national legislation is concerned. The submission of this motion only proves what I have always said, that the Senate is made a stalkinghorse to influence the action of another place. Another reason why I oppose the motion is that previous to the reception of this report from the Public Works Committee the Government did not intimate their intention to erect a new factory at Canberra. They have allowed the men employed at the Lithgow Factory to make their homes there in the belief that it would be continued as an establishment for the manufacture of rifles for the Commonwealth. I believe that forty of them have bought land at Lithgow at a high figure, and if they are to be removed to Canberra they will lose half what they gave for this land, because its value will be decreased by the removal of the Factory from Lithgow. There might be something to be said for the Government proposal if it was understood that they are prepared to compensate the men engaged at the Lithgow Factory for the loss to them which the establishment of a factory at Canberra will entail. I thought it a very harsh and unfair suggestion for the Minister to make that these men would have to suffer, as well as the Government, from the greed of the landlord at Lithgow. That suggestion, in itself, would be sufficient to cause me to oppose this motion. Some of the reasons advanced by the Minister in support of it were very feeble, and especially that in which he referred to the question of railway communication. I believe that railway communication from Lithgow to the southern States by way of Blayney would be far better than from Canberra ; and railway communication with the northern State from Lithgow would be much quicker than from Canberra. It is true that Lithgow is wedged in between two mountains, but that was well known when the Small Arms Factory was established there.
– Lithgow was selected for the Factory in 1908.
– There was no Federal Capital then.
– That is so, but we knew that there was going to be one. We have been very dilatory in the establishment of the Federal Capital, as well as in the manufacture of small arms within the Commonwealth. Our dilatoriness is being brought home to us today. Still, when the Factory was established at Lithgow there was a reason for its location there, and that was the security of Lithgow from attack. I know of no place in Australia which has such natural defences. Lithgow is practically impregnable, and I do not think that that can be said of Canberra. I believe that the Minister of Defence was wrong in what he said concerning the ac- cessibility of Lithgow to the strategic railway,but I am sure he was wrong in what he bad to say as to its liability to attack. Lithgow was selected as a site for the Factory because of its practical impregnability. The military authorities at the time pointed out that a factory for munitions and rifles should be located in a practically impregnable place. We then thought that it would be a long time before we should be called upon to actively assert ourselves in the defence of the Empire, but we are faced with that necessity to-day. The work of manufacturing rifles has been started at Lithgow, and we have made contracts with the men employed in the Factory there. I have seen it stated in print that it is the intention of the Government to manufacture ammunition waggons and other vehicles for warlike purposes at Lithgow. If the Small Arms Factory is to be removed from Lithgow to Canberra because of some great Australian sentiment, why should not all the Government factories be removed to that centre for the same reason ? Why should the Government propose to manufacture vehicles for warlike purposes at Lithgow? I consider that suggestion is only a sop. The Government might just as well tell those engaged at Lithgow that they like them, and do not wish them any harm, but that they still intend to take their means of living away from them. The contracts we have made with the men at the Lithgow Factory should be religiously kept. I shall be taken to task for opposing this motion, because, in October, 1912, I put forward good reasons why all Government factories should be established at Canberra, but I oppose this motion because we have already established the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, because we want rifles as quickly as possible, and by removing the Factory to Canberra their supply will be delayed by twelve months. Ifthe Government will say that it is their intention to remove the Cordite Factory, the Harness Factory, and all the other Government factories to Canberra, I shall be with them.
– Because they are factories established in Victoria, and not in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator is quite prepared to sacrifice all his wife’s relations.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that it was his speech in 1912 that brought about this change in the opinions of honorable senators?
– I pointed out on that occasion what ought to be done, but my motion was not of much use. The effect of this motion will be about the same. It is only beating the air. I had the support of the Government, and of almost every member of the Senate for the motion I submitted, but it was not acted upon. If I were satisfied that no action would be taken upon this motion, I should not bother further about it. I believe that the Factory at Lithgow will be continued, and will be extended, and so I shall not waste any more of the time of the Senate in discussing this motion.
– This motion supplies yet another instance of the way in which the Senate figures as a co-ordinate branch of the Federal Legislature. It is quite true that when the Public Works Committee Bill was going through Parliament, an opportunity was afforded the Senate to assert its co-equal power with another place in shaping any policy the Federal Government might be committed to. It would seem, however, that with their characteristic modesty honorable senators allowed that opportunity to pass without asserting the importance of this Chamber.
– Did not the honorable senator raise the point on the Bill he referred to?
– Possibly I did ; but, if so, I did not get sufficient support from other honorable members of the Senate. The present position discloses a rather unsatisfactory outlook for the exercise by the Senate of any influence upon the policy of the Government so far as public works are concerned. It is true that when a Supply Bill comes before us, we are given the opportunity, if we consider the matter of sufficient importance, to veto proposals carried by the Government in another place. But if we desire to move by way of a direct motion, as the Minister of Defence has done in this case, we must do so without any statutory power.
I have been surprised to hear Senator McDougall speak as he has done, and even more surprised to hear Senator Turley speak in the same way, in view of the fact that he has been President of the Senate. They have found fault with the action of the Government in submitting a motion of this description. They have suggested that the object is to utilize the Senate as a kind of lever for the exercise of influence in another place. This is rather a peculiar attitude for these honorable senators to take up on a question of the status, importance, and dignity of this Chamber. I could quite understand any member of the Senate objecting to this Chamber being subjected to any humiliation or indignity, but it passes my comprehension that Senators McDougall and Turley should complain of a motion calling upon the Senate to show its strength in the National Legislature. Their position is illogical, inconsistent, and untenable. They have roundly rated the Government for taking action which, on their own showing, is calculated to demonstrate the strength and influence of this Second Chamber. Before leaving this subject, I should like to quote the remarks made by Senator McDougall upon a somewhat similar motion. In October, 1911, he submitted a motion which, of course, had the able support of honorable senators, and which reads -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, all Government establishments for the manufacture or supply of goods for the Federal Public Service should (when practicable) be located in the Federal Territory.
The honorable senator supported the proposal with these words -
Wo have spent £139,000 in acquiring land for this purpose, and in renting warehouses to meet departmental requirements.
That is on private property, as has been done largely at Lithgow.
No doubt it will be necessary to continue to have warehouses in all the capital cities of the Commonwealth.
The honorable senator continued his speech in the same creditable strain. After referring to other forms of activity which the Federal Government might undertakeon his advice, he said -
We shall require to establish factories for the manufacture of electrical appliances for the Post and Telegraph Department, and of field guns and waggons ; and I am of opinion that all our factories to supply the Commonwealth requirements should be located as closely as possible to each other, and within the Federal Territory, that they may be controlled by the Commonwealth authorities.
The honorable senator went on to refer to another aspect of the case -
We might also, by the establishment of our factories close together in the Federal Territory, greatly reduce the cost of control. In all “those now established there are managers, bookkeepers, timekeepers, and paymasters. In each one of. them a staff has to be employed. If these staffs are collected in the Federal Territory, the cost of control would be reduced by at least one-half.
– Quite right.
– That was the opinion of Senator McDougall expressed barely four years ago. Having allowed the lesson which he taught to sink into their minds, and the Government having come forward with a plain proposition to obey his will to the letter, he now thinks they are wrong in having wisely followed his advice.
– In war time?
– I do not know what the Government can do at present to please the honorable senator.
– What about the honorable senator being against the borrowing of money! Has he changed his views on that question?
– To my mind, the position is a very simple one. At Lithgow we established a Small Arms Factory. Its recognised capacity is about 20,000 rifles a year at the outside. Theestablishment of that Factory is not by any means the last step to be taken by the Commonwealth. We recognise that a false step was taken in- the first instance. In my opinion, it is very much easier to retrace one false step than to retrace ten. If we decide upon duplicating the Factory we shall take a second false step. We ought to be guided by the experience of other countries. If we were to duplicate the Factory at Lithgow this year, it would be used as an argument for quadrupling the Factory at a later period. It would be used, too, as an argument for setting up other activities of a similar kind. The time has arrived, I submit, for retracing the false step we took in the first place in choosing the site at Lithgow. The time has come when we can make the change, not only with advantage to the Commonwealth, but with benefit to those who will be employed in the manufacture of rifles and munitions of war. We can well afford to be guided by the experience of other countries. Take, for instance, the Small Arms Factory established at Springfield, in the United States. It is capable of turning out 300,000 rifles a year; that is twenty times as much as the output of our own Factory at Lithgow. Let us have regard to the relative populations of the two countries. As Australia grows in population, and realizes the necessity of taking steps to protect its shores, we must increase the output of our Small Arms Factory at a much faster rate than is being -done at present. The question arises whether we ought to adhere to the wrong policy of keeping the Factory in an unsuitable place, or to take the bit in -our teeth and establish the Factory where it ought to be. In my judgment, if we recognise that an error was made in the first instance, our duty is to reverse the decision at once, and establish the Factory where it would be the means of conferring on the people the maximum of advantage and on the men who will be employed in the industry the maximum of benefit. I contend that by agreeing to the proposed transfer we shall confer in a marked degree a great benefit on the employees. According to the calculations of the departmental officers in the Federal City, there will be erected a model workmen’s suburb, with plenty of air and space, where the people will not be cramped or huddled together like cases in a dry goods store, as may be the case at Lithgow to-day. At Canberra the men will be provided with roomy houses, plenty of open space, and a good sanitary system. If we come to a wise decision now, the men will have the best of the deal for generation after generation. The cost of accommodation is markedly in favour of Canberra as compared with Lithgow. According to the evidence of Colonel Owen, the rentals of four-roomed to six-roomed houses at Canberra will vary from 9s. to 13s. 6d., whereas at Lithgow the smallest kind of house, with the meanest form of accommodation, commands a rental of 14s. a week at least. That shows how changing the locality of the Factory may promote the safety and welfare of the working people.
It has been stated by Senator McDougall that one reason why he supports the retention of the factory at Lithgow is in order to economize time in the output of rifles. I realize the full significance of a contention of that kind. I recognise that, if the contention is a correct one, we should seriously pause before we commit ourselves to a policy which would mean the withholding of a considerable, or even of a small, number of rifles from our men. It is of no use to send men abroad unless they are provided with the best and most up-to-date weapons, and are able to use them effectively. Any action which would spell delay in the supply of rifles to our men would be ill-advised in the extreme, but on that point, also, we have had two opinions expressed. Whilst Senator McDougall contends that there will be an interval of twelve months before an increase in the supply can- be relied on, the late manager of the Factory, Mr. Wright, has made a statement of an entirely different kind. He has said that it would be at least eighteen months before we could depend on an increase in the output. Perhaps I had better quote his own words -
Three months after we receive the first machinery we can start to slightly increase the output. It would be a fair estimate to say that we could have an increased output in eighteen months’ time.
There we are told by an expert that it will be eighteen months before we can rely on an appreciable increase in the output. I think that Senator McDougall will recognise by this time that his opinion clashes to a considerable extent with that of Mr. Wright, about the only witness at that time who could give an expert opinion on the point. In regard to the supply of machinery, there is also some misapprehension abroad. I wish to remind Senator McDougall that, according to Mr. Wright, the first instalment of machinery will not be here until July of next year. In his evidence he said -
We may reckon that it will be fourteen months before the first shipment of machinery reaches the Factory. The time which will be necessary in order to get the plant erected will depend largely on the order in which the machinery comes.
In May of this year Mr. Wright assured us that it will be July of next year before the first instalment of necessary machinery can arrive from. New York. We have a full twelve months within which to prepare, either at Lithgow or Canberra, for the erection of the necessary plant. To my mind, we have an infinitely better chance of getting the Factory in position at the latter place than at the former. There we have a water supply, unlimited power, and all the requirements for its speedy erection, whereas at Lithgow we do not occupy the same happy position. At Canberra there are brick works and water supply.
– How the honorable senator has altered his opinion. I ought to quote his speech in opposition to the selection of Canberra as the Federal Capital site. Why he kept me up all one night whilst he was assuring honorable senators that none of these requirements was there.
– I still adhere to my opinion that this Parliament might have made a better selection than Canberra. It has already cost us a good deal to bring within our reach the requirements which I have enumerated. I ask Senator McDougall to recollect that the only men whose opinion possesses any practical value have all pronounced themselves in opposition to tlie Lithgow site for a Small Arms Factory.
– Who put the Factory at Lithgow ?
– Engineer Clarkson was so strongly opposed to the selection of the Lithgow site that he actually cabled from the Old Country with a view to influencing the decision of the Government in the matter. Mr. Wright, the first manager of the Small Arms Factory, also stated that the selection was a wrong one, and his judgment has been indorsed by the present manager. These men have had great experience in laying down plants in the United States, and it necessarily follows that they must have some idea of the suitability of any particular site for a Small Arms Factory. Mr. Ratcliffe, as well as Mr. Wright, has pronounced against Lithgow, as has also the DirectorGeneral of Works, Colonel Owen.
– Mr. Wright pronounced against Lithgow largely on industrial grounds.
– Those honorable senators who favour the Lithgow site will have to institute a search like Diogenes with his lantern, if they wish to discover an expert who will agree with them. I say that we ought to retrace the false step which has been taken, and we ought to do so now instead of taking ten more steps, and then having to retrace them.
– We are having an academic debate.
– If Senator Turley holds one view, he must recollect that there are others who entertain a different opinion. Of course I know the Rubicon is passed when he has spoken.
– We are merely being used as a catspaw in this matter.
– I say that by transferring the Factory from Lithgow to Canberra we shall be fulfilling the intentions of 90 per cent, of the electors of the Commonwealth. When the Federal Territory area was enlarged from 25 square miles to 900 square miles, everybody was pleased.
Why ? Because we realized that the people were at last about to receive some share of their rightful heritage. They were to reap every penny of the benefit that would be represented by the unearned increment within that area. Yet Senator McDougall would now have us cry a halt, notwithstanding the advice that he tendered the Government some years ago.
I wish to show honorable senators the wonderful advantages which result from the employment of a number of men in a basic industry. I can cite no better example in this connexion than is afforded by the experience of Western Australia. Within the Golden Mile - an extremely limited area - there are 5,219 men employed in and about the mines. As the result of their presence about 38,000 persons are settled in that centre alone. Before these men went there, the place was the undisturbed home of the kangaroo. But immediately the mining industry developed, subsidiary industries sprang into existence. Now there are three recognised local authorities which exercise control over that area. These are Kalgoorlie, Boulder City, and the Kalgoorlie Roads Board. From certain State papers on the subject I gather that the capital value of property under the control of the Kalgoorlie Council represents £476,000, that under the control of Boulder City £409,000, and that under the Kalgoorlie Roads Board £830,000. In other words, as the result of the employment of 5,000 men there, property has been created of a capital value of £1,715,000. Applying this illustration to the Federal Capital when the Small Arms Factory has been established there, and 1,000 men are employed in it, I hope to see wealth created representing a capital value of, at least, £340,000. Is not that objective worth considering ? Will not this proposal represent a good deal to the Territory, to the men employed in it, and to the general taxpayer ?
– If the Commonwealth is going to enjoy the fruits of the creation of all that capital value, it must charge the workmen rentals for their dwellings on the basis of those charged by rack-renting landlords.
– I believe that we should make the Federal Capital City a model one, and that, instead of it being merely the centre of government, it should thoroughly typify every phase of
Australian life. I desire to see it possessing industrial as well as official features. I want the visitor to it in the years to come to witness every form of activity which will minister to the advantage of the nation. I hope that he will he able to see arsenals concerning which we shall be able to say, “ These are the only places in the Commonwealth where munitions of war for the protection of Australia are being manufactured. These establishments are owned by the people, and are being run for the common benefit of the people.” But could that ‘be said if the Small Arms Factory were retained at Lithgow ? Certainly not. If we wish to make our Federal Capital anything more than a mere geographical expression, we shall have to take the first step towards placing it on the high road to prosperity. I am inclined to say, with the late Sir Henry Parkes, “ Away with these cobwebs of the law,” for which Senator Turley is such a stickler. Let this Chamber have an equal voice with another place in determining every question of public policy. When once the Small Arms Factory has been established at Canberra, the future structure will be raised upon that foundation. If we neglect the opportunity which now presents itself, we shall make sheep-walks of the Commonwealth lands at Canberra. We should now take the first practical steps towards creating a many-sided city of the future to typify the varied industries of the Commonwealth. We can do something in that direction by shifting^ the Small Arms Factory to the Federal Territory. I support the motion, and I hope it will be carried unanimously.
– Senator Turley, in addressing himself to this motion, said it had been introduced for the purpose of having a pleasant Wednesday afternoon discussion on a subject that is of importance to every one of us.
– I said it was a piece of gigantic bluff .by the Government.
- Senator Turley said the discussion would be purely an academic one. Whether that be correct or incorrect, the motion itself is worth serious discussion, because it touches a matter of very great importance to every member of this Chamber, and every citizen of the Commonwealth. Senator Turley also said that it was a piece of bluff on the part of the Government because of a certain event in another place.
– We would not have had this motion if the numbers had been with the Government in another place.
– If it were correct that the numbers were insufficient in another place to carry a proposal to transfer the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow to Canberra, it would indeed be regrettable. It may be perfectly true. I would not be surprised if it turned out to be true, because I know that as soon as the announcement was made that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works had recommended that instead of making an extension to the present Factory at Lithgow, a new factory should be established at Canberra, all sorts of influences began to be exercised. I never saw so many representative men from any town within the precincts of this building as I saw on a certain day last week. I asked one or two of them if they were down on a holiday visit, because I noticed that all of them came from a certain place in New South Wales.
– What did they want?
– I believe they did not want anything to be done by the Government with respect to a particular establishment at Lithgow. They remained here for a long time; and I do not know whether it was because of their presence and influence that certain members - who ought to have looked upon this proposition, not from a parochial point of view, but from the point of view of what is best in the interests of the whole Commonwealth - changed their opinions and were hesitating about the vote they might be called upon to exercise. I remember that Senator McDougall a few years ago was strongly in favour of establishing Commonwealth factories in the Federal Territory. He was wildly enthusiastic about it at that time; but since then, apparently, he has developed “ cold feet.” What has caused this? Was it this influential deputation that came down from Lithgow ? Of course, I can understand that local people would do all they could to prevent the shifting of a factory from their town. We had the same influence at work in this State some years ago. There was then an establishment at Ballarat for the manufacture of locomotives, which were turned out in a very satisfactory manner indeed. Naturally, a good number of men made their homes in Ballarat, and brought up their families there; but ultimately the Government of Victoria, in the interests of economy, decided that locomotives should be made at the Government Workshops at Newport.
– And now they are putting up a new building in Ballarat for the construction of locomotives again.
– I understand it is a repairing shop.
– No; it is for construction as well.
– Well, I am talking about what happened a few years ago. When the Government commenced locomotive construction at Newport, they found that the engines could be turned out much cheaper than had been the case at Ballarat. The Government of Victoria did not hesitate to do what they thought was best in the interests of the Victorian citizens, so why should tlie Government of the Commonwealth hesitate to do what is best in tlie interests of Australia ? -
– Is it alleged that rifles can be turned out cheaper at Canberra than at Lithgow?
– I should think, judging by the report, that the cost of construction at Canberra will be cheaper than at Lithgow. The several considerations in favour of Canberra are enumerated in the report, and include the following: -
If the site is not suitable it cannot be the best place for the cheapening of production. Paragraph d of the considerations in favour of Canberra states: -
That Canberra possesses an up-to-date power plant capable of supplying all the electrical energy required for a factory twice the size of the present one at Lithgow, while further expenditure on power plant would be necessitated if the Factory were extended at the latter place.
Would not those considerations mean greater cost of production at Lithgow? Undoubtedly they would, and because of that fact I am satisfied that very shortly after the completion of this proposed factory at Canberra rifles would be turned out much more cheaply than at Lithgow.
– Would the output be interfered with at Lithgow?
– The report by the Committee says it would not. The Com mittee states that the new factory at Canberra would occupy eighteen months or two years in completion, and it says -
The existing machinery at Lithgow could be transferred at a favorable opportunity later without, it was claimed, materially affecting the output for any considerable time.
There are other reasons why we should not hesitate to pass this motion. When the Government moved in the direction of establishing that Factory at Lithgow they entered into negotiations for the purchase of land. They paid £40 per acre for 17 acres, and £20 per acre for the remainder. What is the position to-day with regard to the price of land ?
– They can get over 100 acres for £50 per acre.
– The Committee’s report says £250. What has given the additional value to the land ? It has come because of the increase in population at Lithgow, mainly as the result of the establishment of the Government Factory.
– Why do you not support a tax on land values then?
– We will do something better by shifting the Factory from - Lithgow to Canberra. Now, according to the report by the Committee, the Government would be called upon to pay £250 per acre for the land required at Lithgow, and, in addition, they would have to provide £12,500 for land upon which buildings could be erected for the housing of 1,500 people. I venture to say that, evenif they paid the price for land, they would not be so well housed as they would be if the Factory were established at Canberra.
– Would the honorable senator be prepared to compensate workmen who have bought land at Lithgow ?
– I will go so far as to say that if there are workmen at Lithgow who have bought land and made their homes there, and who will be permanently employed by the Commonwealth in the event of the removal of the Factory from Lithgow to Canberra, I would favour a proposal to give them some compensation if it is found that they cannot dispose of their land and property without loss on their transfer to Canberra.
– The honorable senator thinks that they should not have to suffer a’ loss ?
– I do think so.
– One hundred and sixteen of the employees at the Small
Arms Factory at Lithgow have purchased land in the vicinity of the Factory.
– I admit that if the Factory is removed from Lithgow, land values there will go down, and it may not be easy for people who have made their homes there to dispose of them without loss. On that ground, I say that every consideration should be given to these men should the proposed change be made. I wish to ask honorable senators why we are building a Federal City. Are we building it for ornamental purposes, or in the hope that, by the attraction of population to Canberra, the rents we shall eventually derive from land there will be sufficient, not only to provide interest on moneys borrowed for public works erected there, but also to provide a sinking fund which, in the course of years, will enable the whole of our indebtedness on account of the Federal City to be wiped out? If we do not want the Federal City to be merely an ornamental- city, we must regard a motion like this, not from a Lithgow or from a State point of view, but from a Commonwealth stand-point. If we do not do that, we might as well stop all works now in progress at the Federal City. If this parochial and narrow view of Federal activities is to be taken by honorable senators, I shall hesitate before I vote in favour of any further sums for works at Canberra. I say’ that it is fooling with a big proposition, and it is not fair to the citizens of the Commonwealth, to view such a proposal as the Minister of Defence has submitted in the way in which some honorable senators have viewed it.
– The Argus does not seem to have any effect upon the honorable senator. 1
– What has the Argus got to do with me?
– It says this morning that it is settled that the Factory is going to Canberra.
– The Argus settles a hundred and one things from time to time, but when, in its opinion, a tiling is settled, .it is really unsettled. This question is far from being settled. It was not settled in another .place.
– It will be all right there.
– I am satisfied that it will, and, also, that it will be all right in this Chamber. It was, in my opinion, rather regrettable that the proposal was apparently dropped in another place. I hope that it is only for a day or two, and that we shall see it again before another place prior to the proposed adjournment. If it is not again seen in another place, much more will be heard of it. What does this proposal mean for the people of Australia? It means that we shall get a Factory at Canberra capable of doing double the work of the Factory at Lithgow.
– At what cost?
– The cost of one is stated at £66,000 and the other at £94,000.
– Does the honorable senator seriously believe that a factory that will do twice the work of the Lithgow Factory can be established at Canberra at about half the cost of the Lithgow Factory?
– I believe that the members of the Public Works Committee secured the best evidence available in regard to this matter. I am satisfied that they arrived at their conclusions not hastily, but after examining the evidence tendered, and after going into the proposition exhaustively. The majority of them have considered that it would bo well in the interests of the Commonwealth to establish a Small Arms Factory at Canberra. After perusing their report, I am of opinion that it would be a waste of money to make additions to the Factory at Lithgow. In my view, it will be in the best interests of the Australian people, and, eventually, in the best interests even of the men now engaged at Lithgow, to have this factory established at Canberra. The employees of the present Factory would benefit by the change in having a more genial climate and more room space. They would not be harassed from time to time by exacting landlords. They would get their land at a ‘reasonable rental from the Commonwealth. There is every opportunity at Canberra to establish a model city so far as provision for workmen’s homes is concerned. Here is a golden opportunity for every Labour man to demonstrate the possibility of establishing an up-to-date city from the workman’s point of view.
– In .any case, it is a part of the Labour party’s policy.
– It is a part of their policy to provide better homes for the working class.
– And to establish national factories on national -territory.
– That is the policy of the party. There is no one who has visited the .principal cities of Australia who is not seriously concerned about the better housing of the great mass of the people. Although I am not very familiar with Lithgow, I am disposed to think that as a result of the establishment of the Small Arms Factory there, and to the fact that it is almost continuously working, the accommodation for workmen there cannot be of the very best. There is probably in some parts of Lithgow congestion which would not in any circumstances take place at Canberra. The average working man longs for the day when he will be able to say that his home is his very own. The workman at Canberra will be able to say, “ During the term of my natural life the land on which my home is erected will continue mine at a nominal rent.” He will be able to make provision there for his children. With the assistance of a town planner he may have surroundings that will probably be the envy of working men in other parts of Australia. We should avail ourselves of this golden opportunity to set an example which may stimulate Governments and municipalities to follow in our course. But some folks say that the Factory is established at Lithgow, men have made their homes there, and to remove the Factory will dislocate business and cause a lot of injury to some people. In the circumstances they say that we should not take such a drastic step as has been recommended by the Public Works Committee. We cannot take a step at any time to do something big without treading on somebody’s corns. If we are to consider the injury which we may do .this or that person in carrying out a desirable proposal, we shall hesitate before we do anything at all. We cannot pass any kind of legislation without affecting some one, and whilst I should be the last who would do a serious injury to any body of men or to the townspeople of Lithgow., I should also bo the last to do a wrong to the great bulk of the people of the Commonwealth. I am anxious that the Small Arms Factory shall be established at Canberra, and I am anxious also that consideration shall be given to the workmen employed in the Factory at Lithgow. If such a proposal is brought up at a later stage by any representative of New South Wales, I shall be prepared to give it my support. I trust that a vote will be taken on the motion before dinner, and that it will show that a majority of the members of the Senate are with the Government in their desire to establish the Small Arms Factory at Canberra.
– My opposition to the motion is due to the fact that certain interests have been created at Lithgow which cannot be ignored even for the sake of the development of the Capital of the Commonwealth. Lithgow is a mining community, and as such has to depend for its existence on the supply of coal to various industries. If the demand for coal is not up to par there will be intermittent work in the coal mining industry at Lithgow. Those engaged in the coal mining industry have to look to the establishment of other industries to create a demand for coal. I do not know whether this actuated those who were responsible for the establishment of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, but their action was undoubtedly in the interests of a community entitled to consideration at the hands of any Government. The establishment of the Small Arms Factory and also of the Ironworks at Lithgow has made living possible for a community dependent largely on the coal mining industry. In the Newcastle district for many years we have been working along these lines. We have known that some industries other than the mining industry must be established to provide variety of employment for the sons of men engaged in the coal mining industry. We are told that of the staff employed in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow from 20 to 25 per cent, consist of boys or lads under the age of twenty-one years, and that not more than 10 per cent, of those1 lads have fathers working in the Factory. It will be seen that from 10 to 15 per cent, of the lads are the sons of men who are working either in the iron factory at Lithgow or in the coal mines, showing that the Small Arms Factory is already a feeder to that community, which has to depend solely for its livelihood on the consumption of coal -
On the Extension Estate, adjoining the Small Arms Factory, land has been purchased by residents of Lithgow to the value of £22,154. Residences have been erected at a cost of £55,027.
Amongst the purchasers of land are 160 employees of the Factory, several on the deferredpayment system. Ninety of these have built their own residences; but the remaining seventy have not yet built, and are dubious about doing so.
Should the Small Arms Factory be removed from Lithgow, the majority of these will, no doubt, be compelled to forfeit.
That has been our experience in many of the districts where the coal industry has waned, and whence the people have had to go to other parts of the State in search of employment. Men have built their homes, and afterwards have found them practically valueless. If the Commonwealth Government adhere to their attitude regarding the Small Arms Factory, the land which has been purchased at Lithgow and the houses which have been built thereon will depreciate in value, and many of the men will practically be compelled to begin life anew. I am not unmindful of the fact that the Commonwealth Government have in view a brighter future for the worker as regards the establishment of industries in the Federal Capital; but I think that if the Government are in earnest in the desire to develop the Capital they might well begin by housing the Parliament and providing accommodation for the men who will have to develop and build up the resources of that great city. The fact that very little or nothing has been done along those lines does not show that, so far as building up the city is concerned, we are deadly in earnest.
– Is the expenditure of a quarter of a million a year “ little or nothing “ ?
– I am speaking about the erection of Parliament House. I think that something might have been done in that direction which would have given a zest to development and been advantageous to the future of the Capital. To allow other interests to arise before the central interest establishes itself is like asking somebody to create a community value before we enter into our own building and establish ourselves. J do not wish to depreciate for a moment “what the Government have done in the way of carrying out development works and preparing the city for the incoming of population. Everything that one might expect and desire has been done by the Government, I consider, and they are to be applauded in that regard. But those preparations do not in themselves create a community such as the establishment of Parliament Houses would undoubtedly create for us should we enter on that project earnestly. However, we have to consider the interests which would be imperilled by the removal of the Small Arms Factory at the present time. The municipality, which has been incited by the prospect of a bright future for Lithgow, has been most active in effecting needed improvements and making the necessary provision to accommodate the population, which had arisen as a result of the establishment of the Factory. I find that in order to provide for the welfare and the comfort of the residents on the estate, the municipal council spent £2,600 in roads and bridges, £9,700 for the supply of gas to residents and also to the Factory, and £16,260 on water re.ticulation and the laying down of a larger main, while the sewerage works for that part of the municipality have cost £10,000. To carry out those extensions, the council had to borrow; and therefore the removal of the Small Arms Factory would cause hardship, not only to the employees of the Factory, but to all the ratepayers. The consumption of coal at Lithgow is also a matter of consideration to the workers there -
The quantity of coal used in July, 1915, was 4544 tons, or about 114 tons per week. Coal can be delivered at the works at Gs. 6d. per ton. The cost at Canberra would bo about £1 per ton.
– Who says that coal can be delivered at the works for 6s. 6d. per ton?
– This , information has been drawn up by the Lithgow Town Committee.
– That statement is incorrect; they have been paying 8s. 6d. per ton.
– I am not drawing on my own imagination. I know what would be asked at Newcastle for coal, and I leave it’ to the people at Lithgow to say at what price coal is being delivered to the Small Arms Factory.
– I tell you that it is being delivered at 8s. 6d. per ton.
– I am not going to cavil; I am prepared to accept the Minister’s word. Allowing that coal is delivered to the Factory at 8s. 6d. per ton, the price of coal delivered at Canberra would be £1 per ton. That is a statement which, of course, has been carefully considered, and, I presume, honestly put on paper. If, however, tlie statement is incorrect, I accept no responsibility. I am simply putting forth the arguments which have been used by the people 01 Lithgow, who are directly interested in this proposal, and I have no desire that they should be considered at other than their face value. I am aware that in respect to the electrical plant at Canberra the consumption of coal would be largely reduced. However, the fact that the people of Lithgow would be very much inconvenienced by the removal of the Factory, and that they have been lured by the prospect of a bright future to incur certain expenditure is, I submit, a reason why we should consider whether we are dealing out to them the justice which their cause demands. Furthermore -
In the event of the Factory being transferred to Canberra family ties and financial stress would necessitate the great majority of these lads remaining in Lithgow. It is also anticipated that a large number of Lithgow natives would resume their old occupations.
Lads who have been looking forward to acquiring the knowledge of a trade rather than have to leave their homes, would simply go back into the mines and be doomed for all time, as their fathers were before them, because on the beginning of a young man’s life depends entirely his career. There are many men who, had it been possible for them to be employed otherwise than in or- about a coal mine, would have made their mark in various departments of life, and so had an opportunity of developing the highest and. best that was in them. Owing to the way in which the coal-mining centres are kept to themselves, we have only one class of workmen to offer employment to, and the result is that all tlie latent talents and possibilities of a man are practically crushed at the beginning of his career.
– Some of the best men in New South Wales have come from that very coal-mining district.
– The fact that they were buried in a coal-mine may have stimulated them to get out and try to make their way in the world. Mining as an occupation tends to ruin the aspirations of a man rather than inspire him to make his way in the battle of life. We have always contended that there ought to be other forms. of employment in a mining community. Whilst we seek to build up at Canberra all the industries possible, we ought not to try to do that at the expense of the great mining centres, which, I submit, should be encouraged as regards supplementary works and other trades and callings -
This would entail the training of a new batch of workers (mcn and boys), and the recurrence of the initial expense of breaking tha men in.
That is in reference to the lads having to resume their old occupations. It would simply mean ‘that lads who had begun to acquire the knowledge of a trade, and were not able to leave their homes, would have to go back to the mines. The prospective labour that we had in store would be taken from us, and we would have to train men for that purpose.
– Mr. Hoskins said that most of the men went from his ironworks.
– Even that would not give them the knowledge of a trade. I am not necessarily confining my remarks to the mining industry. I have already stated that Lithgow has been supplemented by the establishment of the iron industry, otherwise it would not have attained its present proportions. It is really such industries which make a mining centre a fit - place for a man to take his family to, and bring them up in. No man who has worked in a mine desires to see his family brought up in the same way. There are many other arguments which the people of Lithgow have raised against the removal of the Small Arms Factory, but I submit that the reasons I have put forward are sufficient to cause the Senate to pause and consider. I sincerely trust that, rather than discourage the people who have taken up homes in the Lithgow district, and spent their all on them, honorable senators will endeavour as far as possible to push on with the development of the Capital along other lines.
– Like Senator Turley, I was somewhat surprised when I noted the action which the Government were taking in the Senate in regard to this proposal. I was, perhaps, a great deal more surprised than the honorable senator was, because, returning from Tasmania yesterday, 1 looked hurriedly at the notice-paper for to-day, and observing that the first motion was one to suspend the Standing
Orders when occasion requires, I thought that the motion following was of a similar kind, and did not read it. Consequently, it was not until the motion was moved today that I realized that the Senate was being called upon to discuss this question. The position is, as Senator Turley put it, that the Public Works Committee is charged with the responsibility of making certain investigations, and of reporting the result of those investigations to the House of Representatives. The Act under which that Committee was constituted provides that its reports shall be furnished to another place, where consequent action must be taken.
– We are not discussing the report of the Public Works Committee, but a motion.
– We are discussing a motion, and because we are doing so - as has already been pointed out by Senator Turley - we are simply beating the air. I regard this debate as merely a demonstration of force - of strength of numbers - in this Chamber. What influence it will exert on the determination of the issue in another place remains to be seen.
– If a similar motion had been carried in the House of Representatives last week, we should not have been consulted in the matter.
– That is my opinion. That being so, we cannot disguise the fact that the debate is not destined to have a direct effective result. I have looked up the discussion which took place in this Chamber when the Public Works Committee Bill was under consideration, and I find that no exception was taken to the provision in it that the reports of that Committee must be submitted to the House of Representatives. No request was made that similar reports should be furnished to this Chamber. As a matter of practice, however, the Committee, through its vice-chairman, does forward duplicate reports to the Senate.
– What right have those reports to come here if we cannot discuss them ?
– It is not a question of right at all. The Senate is thus kept informed of what the Committee is doing, although there is no obligation thrown on the Committee to furnish such reports. If the motion be carried, the Government can only take decisive action by providing the necessary funds to give effect to it. Whether our decision on the matter will influence the determination elsewhere has yet to be seen.
I listened with interest to the remarks of the Minister in regard to the desirableness of transferring the Small Arms Factory to the Federal Capital. With most of whathe said there can be no room for question. Undoubtedly there would be a great advantage derived from Commonwealth factories being established in the Federal Territory, where, under Commonwealth law, we could direct all their industrial operations. But we have to take a practical as well as a sentimental view of this question. The Minister of Defence pointed out that Lithgow, by virtue of its railway connexion with Sydney, would be placed in a somewhat parlous condition in the event of Sydney being subjected to a hostile attack. Everybody recognises that. But, to a great extent, Canberra would be subject to the same disability. It is connected with Sydney by rail, and will in the near future be in touch with all the State capitals of the mainland by means of railways.
– Provided the Hawkesbury River bridge stands.
– That being so, interference of a hostile character with any of those capitals would affect the Small Arms Factory at Canberra. There is just one feature of this proposal which, to my mind, should be carefully regarded. The past history of every one of the States of Australia teems with illustrations of the great disadvantages which result from over-centralization. In all our States there has been an unnecessary centralization of activities in the capital cities. I am speaking, of course, of centralization as a general principle, apart from any particular phase of it. For my part, I have arrived at the conclusion that it is undesirable that we should centralize factories of this character. My opinion is that, as far as possible consistent with the interests of the Commonwealth, they should be located in different parts of the Commonwealth. If we put all our eggs in one basket, they may be all destroyed. We have to recollect that in the very near future war will not be conducted as it has been conducted, or as it is being conducted today. Aerial warfare is only in its infancy. I well remember that when I was first elected to this Parliament there was not a motor car in my State, and only in December of the previous year was the first motor car introduced into Australia running in Melbourne; but at the next election I did a great deal of my campaigning with the aid of a motor car. This indicates the rate at which we are progressing. During the present war much aviation work is being done. Aerial machines are being perfected, and these are being used to a very large extent - to what extent none of us will know until the struggle is over. “When that time comes, the possibilities of aerial navigation which have been revealed during its continuance will open up vistas of which we hardly dream at present.
– Then should we not have two -Small Arms Factories, one at Canberra and one at ‘Lithgow?
– I was coming to that. If we centralize our Cordite Factory, our Small Arms Factory, our Machine Gun Factory, and our arsenal generally at Canberra, we shall provide one main objective for an enemy. Now the enemy whom we shall have to dread in the future will not be one who will stand off our coast and bombard it. He will come in vessels, which will lie at a convenient distance off our shores, and, with the aid of sea-planes, he will endeavour to wreak destruction upon us. If Canberra be made the sole centre of our war preparations, he will be able to concentrate upon that spot, with the result that if our arsenal there were destroyed we would be rendered powerless. That is why centralization in regard to the establishment of an arsenal would be a false policy. We all know that centralization as a general principle has been disastrous to Australia, but centralization in this particular respect would be disastrous to a tenfold degree. In the future our enemy will take advantage of his knowledge of aeronautics, because it is from the air, and not from the sea, that we must expect his most dangerous attacks. For this reason, our defence factories should be spread throughout the Commonwealth. The more we do that-
– The more it will cost us.
– But the additional expenditure will be abundantly warranted by the additional security which we shall enjoy. In regard to the transference of the Small Arms Factory from Lithgow to Canberra, sufficient information has already been forthcoming to indicate that this is only part of a comprehensive policy which will involve the location at Canberra of all these Commonwealth activities. In my judgment, we ought to hesitate a long time before we commit ourselves to any such scheme. The last factories that we should concentrate there are those associated with our defence. It has been suggested that the existing Small Arms Factory at Lithgow might be utilized as a factory for the manufacture of vehicles for the Postal and other Departments. But an establishment of that kind might well be located at Canberra. Our Woollen Factory, too, might with advantage be erected there. Let me point again to the war which is at present raging In Europe. If the Allies could only get over Essen and bomb it, what a tremendous effect it would have on Germany. By centralizing all our defence factories at Canberra, we shall be making a task of that kind to a possible enemy a comparatively easy one.
The Minister, referring to the proposal to extend the Factory at Lithgow, said it would be necessary to geta certain amount of land at a somewhat heavy cost. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I know it was stated that a hundred or a couple of hundred acres for this purpose at Lithgow would cost a large sum of money, but unless evidence were given before I arrived at the sitting of the Committee today, no tangible information has ever been submitted on that particular question. The only evidence as to the price of land, upon which the estimate seems to have been grounded, was the sale of 11£ acres of land fronting the main road and in front of the Factory; but that, to my mind, does not warrant the assumption that a couple of hundred acres of land elsewhere would cost what the Minister indicated.
– The land must be adjacent to the Factory.
– Yes, and land that has been indicated as suitable,’ and adjacent to the present Factory, does not include the 11
Senator Lynch emphasized very strongly the fact that Mr. Wright, the manager of the Factory, Mr. Ratcliffe, the assistant manager, and Captain William
Clarkson were all opposed to the present site. Captain Clarkson took occasion to protest from England. Now, I happen to know something about this site. It was selected in July or August of 1908, and I can assure honorable senators it was not determined upon without the most careful consideration. It is true, as the Minister stated, that the Federal Capital site had not then been fixed, but the fact that there was to be a Federal Capital city was kept constantly in mind by those responsible for the selection of the Small Arms Factory site. The Public Works Committee had under consideration the two proposals by the Home Affairs Department, one for the extension of the present plant at Lithgow, and the other for a new factory at Canberra. Now, let us see what the three officials referred to had to say on the subject of the site. Mr. Wright, in his evidence, which will be found on page 8 of the report, said, in reply to questions put by me -
The proposed extensions are to be situate entirely on property at present owned by the Government; it will not be necessary to acquire any land for the purpose. I never did think this site a good one. I said, when I first came here, that I could sec no reason why this site had been selected for a Small Arms Factory; but we must take into consideration that the Factory is here, and that nearly all the hard pioneering work has been done. Henceforward, wo shall progress much more rapidly. I ams peaking of the unsuitableness of both the locality and the environment; but, having done most of the rough work, we can now proceed faster than we did at first. The configuration of the land makes the site unsuitable to commence with; and another very important consideration is that Lithgow is not a mechanical community.It is a mining community in every sense; and there was no possibility of finding locally men . who had had any mechanical training to speak of from the point of view of a manufactory like this. It would have been advisable to have placed the Factory near a mechanical population, from which its supply of labour could have been drawn.
Ergo, according to Senator Lynch, take it to Canberra.
– But did not Mr. Wright approve of the change to Canberra after he had seen the Federal Capital site, and after he had given the evidence from which the honorable senator is quoting?
– I cannot place my finger on that evidence just at the moment. He said it was quite possible that what the Department had indicated mightbecorrect, but he did not show any enthusiasm for the change. Captain Clarkson, in his evidence at Melbourne, on the 18th May last, said, in answer to the chairman -
I was acting manager of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory while the machinery was being installed, and had to do with the purchase of machinery in America and Great Britain. I had nothing to do with the selection of the site; indeed, I never saw it until I arrived here in 1911, after the Factory had been pretty nearly built. I may say that I queried the site at Lithgow several times ; in fact, I cabled from London that I did not think it was satisfactory on account of the large amount of levelling that would be necessary, and the consequent expense. I further objected to the site because Lithgow is so far away from any large centre of population; and I thought that the labour difficulty would become very acute. Had I had my way, I should have had the Factory near Melbourne or Sydney.
He said nothing about Canberra -
There was great difficulty in regard to the supply of labour up to the time I severed my connexion with the place. We were, however, more fortunate than I thought we should have been, because, at the time the factory was started, Hoskins’ works were closed, and, therefore, we found more labour at our disposal. Many of the men, however, went back to Hoskins’ place after the trouble.
Captain Clarkson, in 1908, protested against Lithgow, I believe, from his recollection of the town. His real objection, as I have shown, was that he considered that the site for the Small Arms Factory ought to have been near Melbourne or Sydney.
– So that sufficient labour could be assured.
– Yes. Now I come to the evidence given by Mr. Ratcliffe. This will be found on page 36 of the report. In answer to the chairman, Mr.Ratcliffe said -
I do not think that the present Factory is situatedin an ideal locality for such a factory. I think that a better site could have been selected.
In reply to Mr. Gregory, he said -
The chief conditions necessary for an ideal site for such a factory would be a sufficient supply of water and coal, means of access, ‘a good supply of labour, and a means of housing the labour employed. If we were to think of establishing the Factory now, I should advocate that it should be located upon an extensive level area, because the expense goes up tremendously if the ground is not level. It should be near to a port, if possible,so as to reduce freights, and it should be within easy railway communication of the main ports. There should be a good water supply and a good gas supply for the furnaces. Freights would not be a considerable item. You might get actual figures as to the amount of freight involved. If you undertook the manufacture of machine guns and artillery, freights would be a more important factor. The Factory should be established in a fair-sized town where you could rely on a good supply of mechanic ally-trained labour, and where the social conditions would besuch as to keep the workmen contented. If we were starting the Factory now, I should not advocate the selection of the present site. As the Factory has been started, and has involved an expenditure of a considerable sum of money, I should be doubtful about the wisdom of removing it to another site unless I were satisfied that we should not be going out of the fryingpan into the fire. I h ave serious doubt about the wisdom of removing the Factory now to another site, because of the expense which would be incurred; but from the broader view of national requirements, it is possible that the removal would be justified.
These are the three officials to whom Senator Lynch referred as being most emphatically opposed to the present site. Now I have shown that Mr. Wright said that he would never have selected the site, because, in his opinion, it should be as close as possible to a mechanically-trained population. Captain Clarkson objected to it from England before he had seen it, and his view was that it should have been near Melbourne or Sydney. As I have several other extracts to make from the evidence given before the Committee, and as I understand it is the desire of the Government that the Senate should rise before 6.30 p.m., I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Coal Mining Industry, Great Britain: Con ditions Prevailing, due to the War. - Paper presented to British Parliament.
European War : Correspondence in connexion with acceptance by Commonwealth Government of liability for Cost of its Troops in the Field.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired under, at -
Cowra, New South Wales - For Defence purposes,
Paddington, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Waterloo, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Caulfield, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Epping, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Easements acquired over land at Preston. Victoria- For Defence purposes.
Postal: Statement of Supplies imported for Electrical Branch.
Public Service Act 1902-1913 - Appointments, Promotions, &c -
– I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Honorable senators, of course, understand that arrangements are being made to farewell an honorable senator this evening.
– I would like to know if the Ministry have obtained any information yet with regard to the matter affecting the Continental Tyre Company to which I referred last week.
– I understand that the Attorney-General has not had time yet to go into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 August 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150818_senate_6_78/>.