9 May 1916

6th Parliament · 1st Session

The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

page 7678


Assent to the following Bills re ported: -

Quarantine Bill.

Supply Bill (No. 3) 1915-16.

SupplyWorks and Buildings) Bill (No.3)

Iron Bounty Bill.

River Murray Waters Bill.

Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2).

Income Tax Bill (No. 2).

Officers’ Compensation Bill.

War Loan Bill (No. 3).

Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill (No. 2).

Supply Bill (No. 4) 1915-16.

Supply (Works and Buildings) Bill (No. 4) 1915-16.

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Allocation of Duties - The War: Australia’s Contribution of MenBusiness of Parliament.

Senator PEARCE:
Minister of Defence · Western Australia · ALP

– I ask the permission of the Senate to make a statement.

Leave granted.

Senator PEARCE:

– During the absence of the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable William Hughes, in England, the following arrangements have been made as to the allocation of Ministerial duties: - Senator Pearce, Acting Prime Minister. The Honorable Hugh Mahon, Acting Attorney-General. All matters in connexion with the wheat scheme, war precautions, prices adjustment regulations to be controlled by the Assistant Minister, Senator Russell. Matters under the sugar agreement to be administered by the Commonwealth Treasurer. “ On the 26th November, 1915, the Commonwealth Government cabled to the Imperial Authorities offering to increase its contribution of troops by 50,000, and also undertaking to supply each month the necessary reinforcements. On the basis upon which reinforcements were then required it was calculated that, with the additional number named in this offer, Australia would have raised by the end of June. 1916, for active service abroad 286,000 men.

On the17th February, 1916, the War Office cabled advising that the percentage of reinforcements required was substantially reduced.

On the 28th January, 1916, the Secretary of State for the Colonies cabled that-

As a result of communication with the General Officer Commanding in Egypt, and on further consideration of the offer of the Commonwealth Government conveyed in the cable of the 26th November to provide three additional Australian Divisions. . . . War Office suggest that as there is at present in Egypt a large accumulation of Australian and New

Zealand personnel, surplus to the establishment existing Divisions, the formation of two of the three additional Australian Divisions should be begun in Egypt at once. … it is hoped that your Government will agree in principle to these proposals.

On the 30th January, 1916, General Birdwood, the General Officer Commanding, cabled expressing the hope that the suggestion, contained in the War Office cable, for the organization of two Divisions in Egypt, and one only in Australia, be adopted and put in hand at once, and stating that the question of the disposal of the large accumulation of reinforcements and returned convalescents in Egypt was urgent, and, in the interest of the discipline, well-being and training of the troops of the Commonwealth, required early settlement.

On the 2nd February the Commonwealth Government cabled the Secretary of State for the Colonies agreeing to the War Office proposals.

On the same date General Birdwood was informed of the Government’s decision, and he replied as follows on the following day: -

Thank you very much for your cable of February 2nd. Am most grateful for all the consideration which has been shown me.

These communications had an important effect on the numbers which it was contemplated would have been required, and also on the period over which they would have to be raised, as they meant that, in order to comply with the promise of the Government as modified at the request of the War Office, 209,000 troops would require to be despatched by the end of June, 1916. It will be seen that these modifications were made at the request and on the suggestion of the War Office, and were not proposed by the Commonwealth Government. At the same time, the Government does not take the view that its offer of the 26th November exhausts the possibilities of Australia so far as contribution of fighting troops is concerned, and, as Acting Prime Minister, I have, In statements made, endeavoured to make this point clear, and have appealed to the various recruiting organizations throughout the Commonwealth to continue their efforts to gain recruits.

The latest available figures show that up to the 6th May, 1916, there had embarked from Australia 189,000 troops, and there were in training throughout Australia approximately 62,000, making a total of 251,000. Divided into military districts the figures work out as follow: -

The following cable has been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated London, 8th May, 1916: -

With reference to my telegram May 3rd news may now be published that Australian and New Zealand troops have arrived in France and taken over a portion of the front.

On the 12th April, 1916, the Federal Government referred to the Federal Parliamentary War Committee the following minute : -

While Government takes entire responsibility for deciding as to voluntary or compulsory service, and does not invite the Federal Parliamentary War Committee to make any recommendation thereon, it is desired to ascertain from the Committee whether, in view of the necessity of efficiently maintaining our industrial and commercial life, together with the responsibilities of Australia in this war, and in comparison with the contributions of other Dominions, the Committee is of the opinion that the Commonwealth is adequately represented at the front. The Committee is, therefore, invited to offer any advice or recommendation with a view to the improvement of the present system of recruiting.’

On the above the Federal Parliamentary War Committee made the following recommendation : -

The Committee notes that the Government does not submit to it the question of voluntary service as compared with universal compulsory service. The Committee, without expressing any views on the question of the comparative contributions of the other Dominions, is of the opinion that Australia is not adequately represented at the front. It recommends that the Government fix an early date for a minimum number of new recruits, accompanied by a public intimation that if the number be not forthcoming by the specified date the whole question of the voluntary system will be reviewed.

The Commonwealth Government cannot see its way to adopt this recommendation for the following reasons : -

  1. It cannot be definitely stated how long the war is likely to last ; consequently the time within which Australia will be required to send men to the front is indefinite. It is pointed out that, in the early stages of the war, it was urged upon the Government to fix upon a definite number - 100,000 - as the contribution of the Commonwealth to the Empire. If this suggestion had been adopted, it would, without any doubt, have had a disastrous effect on recruiting, because, when the number decided upon had been raised, it would have been contended that Australia had fulfilled its obligations. The same objection holds good now against fixing any definite number.
  2. The Government cannot agree to fix a definite date after which it will promise to reconsider the whole question of voluntary enlistment. There are reasons, which are confidential, why a date should not now be fixed.
  3. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, is at present in the United Kingdom in the closest consultation with the Imperial authorities. He will shortly return to the Commonwealth, and will, no doubt, have very full information both as regards the military position, and also as regards other factors which peculiarly affect the Commonwealth in connexion therewith. These factors are of such a nature that they cannot be stated publicly, and the Government, therefore, invites members of both Houses and both parties to assemble in the Senate clubroom at 8 p.m. to-night, when, as Acting Prime Minister, I will make a fuller statement as to the position.”

As to the business of the Parliament, it is proposed that in the House ofRepresentatives the Treasurer shall make his Budget speech for the financial year ending June, 1916, the debate upon which can be adjourned.

It is proposed to introduce and pass a Supply Bill for one month for the payment of salaries, &c., falling due this week, and it is proposed to introduce a further Supply Bill at a later stage to cover any adjournment that may be decided upon.

If the Houses are willing to pass the Estimates within a reasonable time, it is suggested that the general debate on questions of policy and administration could take place thereon.

Other Bills to be considered will be: -

A Bill to amend the War Pensions Act, to make provision for the relatives and dependants of deceased or incapacitated soldiers.

A Bill for a further war loan.

A Bill to provide for the appointment of trustees for the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Fund, and for the regulation of the fund.

A Bill to provide for the taxation of war profits.

A Bill to make provision for the difficulty caused by the expiry of the term of the Public Service Commissioner’s appointment.

Some other Bills amending existing war legislation, of an urgent character, may be required.

It is then proposed to adjourn until the return of the Prime Minister to Australia.

In concluding, may I point out to honorable senators the rather interesting fact that we are reassembling to-day on the anniversary of the assembling of the first Commonwealth Parliament. I lay the statement relating to Australia’s contribution of troops upon the table, and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.

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The following papers were presented: -

Audit Act -

Naval Account Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 175.

Treasury Regulations Amended - (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 243.

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 24, 39.

Audit Act 1901-1912-

Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financialyear 1914-15, dated12th April, 1916.

Australian Fruit Trade with the United Kingdom : Progress Report by Mr. C. Cummins Cherry, B.V.S., on some of the questions raised by the Federal Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry.

Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia - Aggregate Balancesheet at 31st December, 1915, together with the Auditor-General’s Report thereon.

Commonwealth Bank Act Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 4.

Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act-

Regulation Amended - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 92.

Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 34.

Estate Duty Assessment Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 66, 73, 97.

Income Tax Assessment Act -

Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 213.

Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 245.

Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act - Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 254.

Defence Act -

Employment of Persons in a civil capacity -

Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 221.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 43.

Military Forces - Regulations Amended -

Regulations - (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 220, 257, 258, 266.

Financial and Allowance - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 263. (Provisional) -

Statutory Rules 1915, No. 250.

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 7, 18.

Royal Military College -

Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 17.

Report 1914-15.

Universal Training - Regulations Amended -

Statutory Rules 1915, No. 271. (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1915,

Nos. 226, 255, 256.

Dominions Royal Commission (Imperial) -

Memorandum and Tables relating to the Food and Raw Materials Requirements of the United Kingdom - Prepared by - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

Fisheries - Zoological Results of the Fishing Experiments carried on by the F.I.S. Endeavour, 1909-1914. Vol. III., Part 7.

Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia for the year 1914-15.

Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act -

Goods Rates.

Lands Acquisition Act -

Lands acquired under, at -

Adelaide, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Amungula, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.

Amungula, partly in Federal Territory and partly in New South Wales - For Federal Capital purposes (two Papers).

Armidale, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Ballarat, Victoria - For Defence purposes.

Ballina, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Bherwerre, New South Wales - For the establishment of a Port, and for Defence purposes.

Brighton, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Broome, Western Australia - For Quarantine purposes.

Bulli, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.

Camperdown, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Chippendale, New South Wales - For Postal purposes (three Papers).

Corowa, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Cronulla Beach, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Darwin, Northern Territory - For Railway purposes.

Enmore, New South Wales-For Postal purposes.

Enoggera, Queensland - For Defence purposes.

Fremantle, Western Australia - For Quarantine purposes.

Ginninderra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes (two Papers).

Ginninderra, New South Wales - For Federal Capital purposes.

Ginninderra and Bedulluck, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.

Glebe, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Glenelg, South Australia - For Postal purposes.

Goorooyarroo, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes (two Papers).

Hampton Location 42, Western Australia - For Railway purposes.

Holbrook, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Lawson, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Liverpool, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Majura, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.

Merigal and Fairy Meadow, New South Wales - For obtaining building material for use in the Federal Territory, &c.

Mount Barker, South Australia - For Defence purposes.

Mundaring, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Northcote, Victoria - For Postal purposes.

North Perth, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.

North Sydney, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.

Ooldea Water, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Phillips Ponds, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Pialligo, New South Wales - For Federal Capital purposes.

Port Adelaide, South Australia - For Defence purposes.

Port Pirie, South Australia - For Defence purposes.

Sandgate, Queensland - For Postal purposes.

Sydenham, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Sydney (Crown-street), New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Tarcoola, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Toronto, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Trundle, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Wagga Wagga, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Wilgena, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Williams, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.

Willochra, South Australia - ForRailway purposes.

Woocalla, South Australia - For Railway purposes.

Woy Woy, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.

Yarraville, Victoria - For Defence purposes.

Naturalization Act -

Return of number of persons to whom Naturalization Certificates were granted during 1915.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 227.

Naval Defence Act -

Regulations Amended -

Royal Australian Naval College - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 230 (Provisional).

Naval Forces -

Employment of Persons -

Statutory Rules 1915, No. 249 (Provisional).

Statutory Rules 1916, No. 44 (Provisional).

Financial and Allowance -

Statutory Rules 1915, No. 243 (Provisional).

Statutory Rules 1916, No. 69 (Provisional).

Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1916 -

No. 1 - Liquor.


Ordinances of 1915 -

No. 4 - Succession Duties.

No. 5 - Places of Public Entertainment.

No. 7 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 3), 1912-13, Amendment.

No. 8- Appropriation, 1915-16.

No. 9 - War Precautions.

No. 10- Pearl, Pearl Shell, and Bêche de Mer.

Ordinance of 1916-

No. 1 - Rules Publication.

Infirm and Destitute Natives Account -

Statement of the Transactions of the

Trustees, 1914-15.

Post and Telegraph Act -

Regulations Amended -

Statutory Rules, 1915, Nos. 194, 201, 231, 236, 239-242, 268, 269, 270.

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 3, 5, 9, 16, 23, 33, 58, 59. (Provisional) -

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 198, 214, 215, 233, 234, 235, 237.

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 2, 10, 31, 50, 51, 68.

Postmaster-General’s Department, Fifth Annual Report 1914-15.

Public Service Act -

Regulations Amended (Provisional) -

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 223, 246, 265.

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 56 and 57.

Regulations Amended -

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 225, 232, 251, 252, 262.

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 6, 20, 21, 25, 32, 60.

Auditor-General’s Office - Promotions of -

Crown Solicitor’s Office - Appointments, &c., of-

E.H. Trebilco, appointed as Clerk, Class D, Professional Division, Central Staff.

Department of Trade and Customs - Promotions of A. R. Townsend and C. R. Cowling, as Clerks, 4th Class, Central Staff.

Department of Home Affairs - Appointments of -

Department of the Treasury - Promotions of-

Department of Defence - Promotionsof-

Postmaster-General’s Department - Promotions of -

The WarBaralong Case - Memorandum of the German Government in regard to incidents alleged to have attended the destruction of a German submarine and its crew by H.M. Auxiliary Cruiser Baralong, on 19th August, 1915, . and Replyof His Majesty’s Government thereto - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

Commerce (Sea-borne) of Germany - Statement of the Measures adopted to intercept - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

Execution of Miss Cavell at Brussels - Correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting- ( Presented to the British Parliament).

Kimigsberg - Copy of Second Supplement to London Gazette, dated 7th December, 1915, publishing Despatch, dated 15th July, 1915, containing Report of operations against on the6th and 11th July, 1915.

National Relief Fund - Report on the Administration of, up to the 30th September, 1915 (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

Poland - Correspondence forwarded by the Secretary of State for the Colonies relative to proposals for the relief of.

Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians (British) in Germany - Correspondence with the United States Ambassador respecting the Treatment of - (Paper presented to the British Parliament) .

Returned Soldiers - Report of the Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates of the Conference of Representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments and of the Federal Parliamentary War Committee (together with Appendices) in respect of . the settlement of Returned

Soldiers on the Land, &c. - Held at Melbourne, 17th-19th February, 1916.

Suvla Bay - Arrangements made for water supply to the troops during landing at - (Paper presented to British Parliament) .

Trade - Report of a Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee to the Board of Trade on Commercial Intelligence with respect to Measures for securing the position, after the War, of certain Branches of British Industry - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

Von Papen, Captain - Selection from Papers found in the possession of Captain Von Papen, late German Military Attache at Washington, Falmouth, 2nd and 3rd January, 1916 - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

German Possessions in Western Pacific! - Correspondence respecting Military Operations against - (Paper presented to the British Parliament).

War Pensions Act -

Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 244.

War Precautions Act -

Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1916, No. 29.

Regulations Amended (Provisional) -

Statutory Rules 1915, Nos. 228, 229, 238, 253, 260.

Statutory Rules 1916, Nos. 1, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 24, 30, 37, 47, 48, 67.

Return to Order of the Senate of 5th November, 1915-

Defence : Expeditionary Forces - Return showing number of men enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force for service abroad who, on Saturday, 13th November, 1915, had been in camp for more than six months; also reasons why such men have not gone to the front.

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Senator STEWART:

– I would like to know from the Acting Prime Minister when honorable senators will be supplied with copies of the Bills which the Government propose to introduce ?

Senator PEARCE:

– I hope to have copies of all the Bills to-morrow, and they will be available for circulation when leave to introduce them has been given.

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Australian Prisoners in Turkey - Australians in France - Address of Troops in France - Soldiers at Recruiting Meetings - Unauthorized use of Uniforms - Youths in Action.

Senator MILLEN:

– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has noticed the statement appearing in the press, and carrying with it the authority of tha American Consular representative, that Australian prisoners in Turkish hands are suffering some privation in custody; and whether he is considering the possibility of improving the present means of affording relief to them?

Senator PEARCE:

– That matter came up to-day, and we are making arrangements for the sum of 6s. per week - which is the maximum payment that the Turkish Government will allow to be forwarded - to be sent to each of the prisoners who are under Turkish control.

Senator MILLEN:

– I would like to supplement the question by asking if the Government have considered the difficulty pointed out by the American Consular representative, namely, that of locating the men, owing to the frequency with which the Turkish authorities shift their camp. That is the particular difficulty to which I wish to direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister, and I shall be glad if the Government will consider means of overcoming it in some way.

Senator PEARCE:

– The Government will give that matter consideration.


– I ask the Acting Prime Minister if, in view of the important part of his statement dealing with the arrival in France of members of the Australian and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, and seeing that there are in Australia a large number of men who, while expressing their regret that they are over the age limit for enlistment, are advocating conscription, the Government have taken into consideration the desirableness of communicating with the French Government with the idea of enabling such persons who are between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five years of age, to enlist under the French Government?

Senator PEARCE:

– The honorable senator’s suggestion would involve a very serious departure from the policy of the Government, which is not to allow recruiting in Australia for any other forces than those of the British Empire. Before such an important change of policy could be decided on, consideration would have lo be given to it.

Senator Keating:

– It would be a matter of foreign enlistment.

Senator PEARCE:

– Yes. Our experience of the enlistment of men over forty-five years has not been such as to encourage us to repeat the experiment.

Senator LONG:

– As the transfer of troops from Egypt to France involves a change of address, will the Minister take an early opportunity of making public a central address in France, such as the men had in Egypt, to which letters may be forwarded?

Senator PEARCE:

– Some time ago, when we knew a change was pending, we issued a kind of warning to the public, but no definite new address has yet been drawn up.

Senator NEEDHAM:

– Does the Minister think it right that soldiers in uniform, particularly those who have done their part in the war, should be engaged at recruiting meetings? Would it not be better, in the interests of the soldiers and of the Department to leave those duties to civilians?

Senator PEARCE:

– The members of the Expeditionary Forces taking part in recruiting meetings are under no compulsion to do so. They are all volunteers for the work.

Senator Shannon:

– They are sincere, and think they are doing a great deal of good.

Senator PEARCE:

– I believe they do think so; but cases have happened where, possibly, in an excess of zeal, they have done some harm. The War Councils in the States have been asked to see that those chosen for the positions have some qualifications, and are tactful. Where cases of recruiting sergeants being unwise in their statements have come before us, the matter has been brought under the notice of .the War Councils, with a view to putting the men concerned on to more suitable work.


– Many of the questions and answers this afternoon, particularly the last, have not been in accordance with the Standing Orders, which provide that a question must be asked only to obtain, and answered only to give, information. Many of the questions and answers this afternoon have been largely argumentative; and if this were permitted, arguments could go on interminably, by means of questions without notice. Ample opportunities to debate these matters will be afforded later.

Senator KEATING:

– Is the wearing of military uniform of any grade or rank by unauthorized persons a punishable offence? Does the Minister know that certain photographers in Australia announce that they are prepared to take soldiers in uniform, and have uniforms available if the sitters do not happen to have them with them ? Would a photographer who provided a uniform for an unauthorized civilian to be photographed in, be equally punishable with the civilian?

Senator PEARCE:

– The answer to the first question is “ Yes.” As the other questions involve legal points, I must ask lor notice.

Senator KEATING:

– If the photographer in such a case is not punishable, will the Minister have a regulation framed to meet cases where civilians are induced to masquerade as soldiers!

Senator PEARCE:

– It being a punishable offence to wrongfully wear a uniform, it should be an equally punishable offence to induce another person to wear a uniform wrongfully.

Senator LYNCH:

– Has the Minister noticed a public statement by Colonel Springthorpe that young men were failures at the front; that men of nineteen and twenty years of ago could not stand the physical and mental strain, and that he saw boys not much over seventeen years of age who, it was considered, would never, owing to shock and strain, be the same again? Is that opinion supported by other medical men of practical experience, or by officers in high command ? If it is, do the Government think it wise to send immature youths abroad in the Expeditionary Forces ?

Senator PEARCE:

– I noticed the statement, and described it at the time as exaggerated. From what I have seen of the casualty, invalidity, and sickness lists, I believe it is grossly exaggerated. I do not know whether other medical authorities have expressed opinions on the point, but will endeavour to supply, the Senate with the facts.

Senator LONG:

– Did the Minister notice Mr. Hume Cook’s statement at a recent recruiting meeting in the Town Hall, that he knew for a fact that when some of the young Australian lads got into action they cried for their mothers? Has the Minister offered any comment on that gross reflection on the courage of Australian lads?

Senator PEARCE:

– I saw the statement, and saw also that the returned soldiers at the meeting ridiculed it. Their rebuttal seemed so effective as to require no further comment.

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Senator GRANT:

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

What is. the number and value (exclusive of improvements) of freehold estates or estates in process of alienation in each of the six States of the Commonwealth as disclosed by the War Census Wealth and Income cards -

Senator RUSSELL:
Assistant Minister · VICTORIA · ALP

– The manner in which the returns under the War Census were furnished- make it very difficult to supply the information in the form desired by the honorable senator, but the

Minister will consult with tha Commonwealth Statistician tot see what can be done in the desired direction.

Senate adjourned at 3.46 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 May 1916, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.