7th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., aud read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1917-18. Assent reported.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 - Land acquired at Woollahra, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1916. - Promotion of A. H. Hearn, Postmaster-General’s Department.
Sugar Industry: Correspondence between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premier of Queensland respecting the purchase by the Commonwealth Government of the 1917 crop.
– Can the Minister for Defence now supply answers to the following questions which I asked a few days ago ?
– The answers are -
In justice to the soldiers themselves, seeing that no good purpose will be served, *.he name and number of the soldier have been omitted. The names can ‘be supplied te the honorable senator if he so desires.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any information regarding the matter I brought up the other day in Committee on the Supply Bill, namely, the building of a boat for the Tasmanian lighthouse service?
– I have been supplied by the Department concerned with the following statement: -
The boat referred to was not built - as evidently thought by Senator Bakhap- for the Tasmanian lighthouse service. The boat in question was built for surf work, landing of stores, &c, on exposed landings of South Australian lighthouses, and was merely transferred to Tasmania temporarily for use for some weeks in connexion with the construction of a new light at Cape Forestier. On completion, of this work the boat will be forwarded to the South Australian lighthouse district. Other boats of this particular type have been constructed in the past for the Commonwealth lighthouse service, by the Department of Ports and Harbours, Melbourne, which Department was in possession of the lines for the particular typo required - a type which has been subjected to long and severe tests, and had been found admirably suited Tor the work. Under these circumstances lenders were not invited for the construction of the boat, as, in the absence of lines and specifications, the preparation of which was not considered warranted, it was not possible to invite quotations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If the huge stacks of coal now being stacked at the mines in New South Wales are being stacked as a war precautions action ?
– The answer is, Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Department has now released all American, soap in bond, and the honorable senator has been notified accordingly.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it not a fact re alteration of voucher that it was clone by authority of his, superior officer -
Was it altered in order to give authority to issue material which had been paid for and was not delivered?
Is it not a fact that J. S. Garden has always been looking out for the welfare of the Department ?
Is it not a fact that J. S. Garden urged upon the Department the urgent need of overhauling 11-oz. cloth that was lying over at Darling Harbor Stores since the outbreak of the war, owing to the destruction of same by moths and silver-fish, and the Department, after persuasion, did what was requested?
– It has not yet been possible to obtain the necessary information to enable replies to be given to the series of questions asked by the honorable senator, but as soon as the information is to hand replies will be furnished.
Bill presented by Senator Millen, and read a first time.
– I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as -would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
My object in submitting this motion is to enable me to move the second reading of the measure and to make an explanatory statement in regard to it to-day, after which the debate can be adjourned. Honorable senators will thus be afforded the longest possible opportunity of considering the Bill before being invited to discuss it.
– There being more than a statutory majority present, and no dissentient voice being raised, I declare the motion carried.
– I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Its purpose is to make provision for the repatriation of soldiers. I will say but little as to the ‘measure itself, inasmuch as it is a machinery Bill, which is designed to create the organization for this important work, and one which will convey the necessary power to the authorities to be created. It is a measure which will lend itself to discussion more at the Committee stage of our proceedings than at the present stage. Therefore, I propose to address myself not so much to the Bill as to the scheme which it is hoped it will be possible . to launch upon the passing of this measure. In commencing, I am conscious of a sense of responsibility in attempting to deal with a problem the magnitude and complexity of which is admitted. I can only express the hope that in putting this matter forward in the way I am doing, and in inviting consideration to the proposals which we intend to submit, there will be no reluctance on the part of persons here and elsewhere to make any suggestions for its improvement which may occur to them.
Repatriation, as we understand it, is an entirely new proposition, and, seeing that war is as old as humanity itself, it is perhaps strange that this is so. But, though it has been said that the war is in some sense a failure of civilization, we can yet see through it some of the triumphs of peace. The conception of repatriation as a national obligation reveals a new conception of public duty. When we remember that, and when we also recollect the splendid efforts which have been made to carry comforts to our troops and . aid to the wounded - efforts going right up to the fighting line - we shall see that through this war is being revealed that humane and civilizing process which quietly and unostentatiously, but nevertheless surely, marked that long peace which was so rudely broken in August, 1914. . Now, although much unrelated private effort has been made in many of the Allied countries, it is unquestionably true that up to the present no comprehensive scheme for the repatriation of returned soldiers has yet been submitted by any Government anywhere. Australia has on more than one occasion given a lead to the world. It may perhaps be regarded as a cause of satisfaction that it is doing’ so in connexion with the repatriation of its soldiers. It is first, of all necessary to arrive at a clear conception of what we mean when we use the word “ repatriation.” Very many sincere and emphatic promises have been made to our troops, but they have been vague and indefinite to a degree. These, perhaps, expressed the state of our feelings rather than a clear line of action. It is necessary, therefore, that we should plainly set out what it is that we contemplate and what it is that we intend. In my view - and I venture the opinion in all humility - when we speak of repatriation we mean an organized effort on the part of the community to look after those who have suffered either from wounds or illness as the result of the war, and who stand -in need of such care and attention. We mean that there should be a sympathetic effort to reinstate in civil life all those who are capable of such’ reinstatement. That is what we intend when we use the word “ repatriation.” The nation put forward an organized effort to enroll these men in the ranks of the fighting army, and there must be an equally or- ganized effort to secure their return to that civil life which at the call of duty they temporarily abandoned.
Repatriation is not, or ought not to be, a mere money-scattering proposition. Money will be required, and much of it, but that money ought to be spent .only as a means to the end we have in view. If any ‘other principle is .observed, it will not only not help the soldiers, but tend to defeat the very object we have in mind. Although underlying any scheme of repatriation is primarily a sense of our responsibility to our soldiers, it is as well to recognise also that there is an economic side to the problem. If 250,000 men remain unnecessarily idle for one week only, there is a loss represented by their wageearning capacity of anything between £600,000 and £700,000. It is as well to remember, in view of the heavy financial responsibility which will be involved in consequence of this measure, that when we help our soldiers we shall to a large extent be helping ourselves, and by so doing fit this country the better to carry that great burden of debt which will undoubtedly fall upon it as a legacy from the war.
When repatriation first commenced to claim public attention, it was in the form of a voluntary movement instigated by a number of patriotically disposed gentlemen acting in a private capacity, and, as a result of that initial movement, it was perhaps only natural that it should be regarded as a fit subject for private control. The existing Repatriation Fund was launched as a fund the conception of which was that it was to be raised by private contributions supplemented by Government grants. It is necessary not only to revise but to reverse that conception. A wider, clearer view of the problem demonstrates that it is bigger and more complex, and that it will be more costly, than originally anticipated. I think there is now a general belief that to insure the satisfactory solution of the problem it cannot be left to undirected and unco-ordinated private effort. Ne matter how earnest and determined that effort may be, it must necessarily lack uniformity and continuity. It is no reflection upon those who have originated and administered that private effort - in fact, it is a very poor recognition of what they have done - to say that they have made out of that system the best of which it was possible, and that the system itself was at fault rather than that there was any failure on the part of the men who attempted to work it.
I confidently believe that there will be throughout Australia a general indorsement of the declaration which I now make, that the nature, extent, and duration of the work of repatriation require it to be accepted as a national responsibility, to insure the proper discharge of which must involve the direct action of the National Government itself. This Government accepts that responsibility, and I believe its doing so will command parliamentary and public approval. But if the Government is to be responsible, it must have control over those agencies and activities by means of which the work is carried through. No Government can possibly be asked to carry the responsibility if the work is to be carried out by a ‘number of unco-ordinated private committees or organizations. It must have an organization which it can direct, which will move to a predetermined plan, and which will be responsive to its control. But this does not imply or call for the shutting out of private voluntary assistance. With that voluntary assistance making itself manifest in many ways and in numerous localities, it would be a stupid blunder if we failed to avail ourselves of the assistance which so many people are able and willing to render. But that assistance must move as part of a recognised plan. Unless it does, we shall have overlapping in one place, insufficiency in another, and confusion and probably irritation all round. From the bringing together or association of this private effort with Government activity we may hope, too, I think, for that close personal touch, and that personal sympathy which, properly directed, will do very much indeed to insure the smooth working of any scheme of repatriation. I have endeavoured to co-ordinate the two, to devise a system in which there will be a sufficiency of the official element to insure uniformity, regularity, and continuity, and as much of private assistance as circumstances will permit, and as the people are willing to render.
There is in existence a fund known as the Repatriation Fund, initiated, as I have said, by the efforts of a number of private citizens, and placed by legislative enact- ment under the control of a Board of Trustees, which Board is still in existence, and will be until the Bill becomes law. Private contributions to the fundamounted to £109,355, and to this was added a grant of £250,000 from ‘the Commonwealth Parliament. Under the authority vested in the trustees, they directed that any funds raised locally for repatriation purposes should be paid into that central fund. The idea was to secure by centralization uniformity in the aid to be extended to our returned soldiers. There were many local movements initiated at that time, designed to raise funds locally for the aid of local soldiers, but there” was soon manifest a strong disinclination to remit these funds, raised locally for local disbursement, to a central fund in Melbourne. These local movements consequently either ceased or diminished very considerably, but the position is now altered by the acceptance by the Government of responsibility for the financing of the scheme, and as the Government is about to take up this responsibility, and incidentally to provide such money as may be necessary, it is clear that we can now safely arid advantageously review the decision previously recorded by the trustees. The Government will, from time to time, seek parliamentary appropriation of such sums as may be required to replenish the central fund, and a uniform policy will thus be secured, not uniformity in the amount given to individual soldiers, but uniformity as to the principles upon which the aids and bene-, fits of the Act will be disbursed*.
No further appeals will be launched for private contributions to the Central Repatriation Fund, but as private citizens will no longer be solicited to contribute to that fund, and as the fund will insure a reasonable response to every soldier’s application, there is no further reason, it seems to me, for placing any further restriction on local supplementary effort. Private citizens, individually or otherwise, will therefore be quite free to take such action as they like in furtherance of the- interests of the soldiers returning to their particular districts.
– Will that also apply to the separate action of State Governments ? .
– I shall be obliged if the honorable senator will leave his questions until I have finished. It is quite true that these private supplementary efforts may lead to inequality in the aid extended, but that inequality will be due to private sympathy, and not to the action of the Government, To prohibit local supplementary effort would be to kill private effort altogether, for it is not possible to conceive of citizens being willing to contribute to a central fund when the effect would be merely to relieve the Treasury, and not in any way to add to the comforts intended for the soldiers. These local activities will be allowed a very wide scope, but they must be under the control of the local committees to be created under this Act, they must be for the benefit generally of all” the soldiers of the district covered, and not for individual men, and they will have to conform to regulations as to supervision and audit. I come now to the several . existing patriotic funds. In a sense .these funds also are doing some of the work of repatriation, and in spite of possible mistakes arising (from inexperience, those administering them have, on the whole, done excellent work and have done it well, but it is quite obvious that between such funds and the larger scheme there must be a clear line of demarcation, a line which will insure that the activities of these funds shall abut closely on to the activities of repatriation proper, but without any possibility of overlapping. Up to the present these funds have dealt, and are dealing, in different ways in different States, with both the dependant of the absent soldier and with the returned soldier himself, both before and after his discharge. The point at, which the present repatriation activities commence is an ill-defined and loose one, and is determined by the circumstances of the individual case rather than by any recognised principle. I propose that repatriation shall commence at the time of the soldier’s discharge. This will be a considerable measure of relief to existing private funds, and it appears to conform more correctly to what I conceive to be involved in the duty of repatriation. But relieving these funds in the way indicated strengthens the belief that, with every confidence, we can appeal to the public to sustain and continue these funds designed for the welfare of the soldier and his dependants prior to the date of his discharge. This decision establishes a clearly discernible division of responsibility. It is easily recognised alike by the soldier himself - which is allimportant - by those administering the funds, and by the repatriation organization.
Possibly induced by the criticisms which have been heard regarding the administration, suggestions have been made that the Government should take over and pool these private funds. I am not convinced that the balance of advantage lies in that direction, but with a view to correct some obvious anomalies, to secure greater uniformity of administration, and a needed liberalization in certain particulars, I recently invited a conference of representatives of these funds throughout Australia. At that conference three principles were approved : First, that the several funds should adopt a uniform policy; second; that there should be a common collecting agency in each State; and, third, a recognition of the responsibility resting upon the Commonwealth as to supervising the administrative costs of such funds. In furtherance of the first of these resolutions, it was decided to adopt, both with regard to dependants and soldiers, the highest scale of benefits at present in operation - that is, that in those States wherein the scale was lower, it was agreed to bring it up to the level of the higher scale prevailing in another State. This secures uniformity, and, as the scale is not ungenerous, will, I think, create a feeling of satisfaction throughout Australia.
Speaking generally, the people are not particularly concerned as to the special object in connexion with which their contributions are expended. They desire only that their contributions should be judiciously handled for the soldiers’ benefit. But they have become a little confused, perhaps a little worried, by the multiplicity and variety of appeals presented to them. Such a collecting organization as I suggest would be able to announce an estimate of probable requirements, and, having clearly defined authority behind it, could venture to appeal with every confidence to the people to meet the obligation thus disclosed. The proceeds of the collection could be disbursed to the various funds according to their needs. It is conceivable - indeed, it is the case to-day - that whereas one fund has ample moneys for present requirements, another fund in the same capital city is falling uncomfortably low, yet ‘the moneys at the credit of one fund are not available for the assistance of the other. This anomaly will be corrected as regards future collections, though it will not disturb the balance now in hand. It waa also agreed that the new scale of payments should become operative as soon as practicable after the 1st of August;.
I come now to what I conceive to be the real work of repatriation, and which I have previously defined as being the reinstatement of the discharged soldier in civil life. It is first necessary to insure registration. Iti is obviously essential that the repatriation organization should have not only a complete register of the men on whose behalf it is required to act, but that it should have that registration as early as possible. At the present, registration is effected after discharge, and in many cases only when the- soldier finds himself under the necessity of seeking assistance. The soldier, upon being discharged,, finds himself in possession of money and complete freedom from control for the first time for a very long period. It may be regrettable, but it is none the less true, that in many instances there is a tendency to unduly indulge in the pleasures of the city. When his resources are expended - it may be, wasted - the soldier presents himself, for the first time at the repatriation office under the necessity too often of asking for immediate work or immediate relief. It is idle to expect that’ under such conditions suitable positions can always’ be available at a moment’s notice; an awkward and possibly dangerous interval ensues. While the repatriation authorities are looking for a suitable opening the man is dependent upon grants from the amelioration fund. Much of this delay can, I think, be avoided by effecting registration prior to, instead of after, discharge. There is no difficulty in securing such registration after the soldier’s return to Australia, but it is possible that it can be effected before he returns to this country. I see very little difficulty in securing registration when the transports are bringing the men out. I am now looking into the question of securing registration prior to the soldier’s departure from England. It is certainly desirable, in t!he interests of the soldiers themselves, that the repatriation authorities should have the earliest possible notification, both of tile numbers with which they will have to deal and with the requirements, wishes, and aptitudes of the individuals whose welfare is their concern. I am hopeful that by this earlier registration ;very much will be done to eliminate that period of prejudicial idleness and that harassing uncertainty which marks the present methods, and which, I believe, is largely responsible for the facts upon which certain public complaints have been founded.
Another change which I hope to see effected is in the method of paying off the soldier. At present the man is paid off at the barracks. He is under no immediate necessity of going to the repatriation office, and is assailed by many temptations and pitfalls, obviously prepared and designed by the unscrupulous. I am conferring with the Minister for Defence to see if a practical scheme can be devised by which the final payment can. be made in the building in which the main repatriation activities _ will bo carried out. This would insure an opportunity of getting into immediate “touch with the soldier. If this scheme can be effected, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has undertaken to open a branch of his establishment in the same building. It should be the duty of a repatriation officer designated for that purpose ° to invite the soldier receiving his final pay to deposit a proportion of his money in the Bank, beside the portals of which he would be literally standing, and ito point out the obvious advantages of so doing. Further, it would be the duty of such an officer to discuss with the soldier the latter’s desires and intentions, with a vie.w to the earliest possible steps being taken to give effect to the former. It is quite probable that a percentage’ of the men will decline to follow the course Indicated, preferring to take the risk of carrying their money about with them. But against this there are many men who would, I am sure, see the wisdom of the suggestion, and act upon it.
Registration having been effected, the repatriation authorities will proceed to deal with the application, for such the registration really is. It is reasonable to assume that with the majority of the men it will be a question of obtaining suitable employment. It is true that up to the present practically all the men presenting themselves have returned to Australia, either because of injuries or illness, but later on it may be anticipated that by fax the larger proportion will be not only fit, but anxious and desirous, of returning to the occupations and districts with which they are familiar. Much has been said as to teaching new trades, but, although this will undoubtedly be necessary in many cases, I submit that it is desirable that an effort should be made to secure the speedy absorption of the men in their previous occupations. Our soldiers are not like the soldiers of old, men who have spent the best part of their lives subject to military training, rendering it a little difficult to satisfactorily re-establish them as part of the country’s industrial organization. Our men are citizens. Citizens before the war, they will be equally citizens when they return. They learned and followed their various callings. They are of all classes, trades, and professions, and there should, therefore, be less difficulty in securing their absorption iti civil life, provided no illconsidered effort is made to divert their activities into fresh channels. As a very essential feature in the work of repatriation, I propose the establishment, in the central offices of each State, of a Labour Bureau which will be in constant communication with the various district committees, to which reference Will “be made later on. In this connexion, I am assured of the hearty co-operation of those States which have similar agencies for recording the requirements of the labour market I look forward with confidence to the cordial assistance which it is clearly within the ,power of employers generally to extend.
What I have just said applies more particularly to the men who happily return sound and well. I turn now to those who come back with their efficiency impaired as the result of wound or illness. Owing to’ the nature of their injuries it will be impossible for some of these men to follow their previous occupations. It will be necessary to give them such training as to fit them to take up 1a new calling to which their disablement presents no bar, or, at least, presents only a modified one. The first provision for such men will be provided in curative workshops attached to the hospitals. These shops will impart elementary training. Their purpose is threefold. First, all medical opinion supports the view that the restoration to health of ‘the injured man is greatly assisted if his mind can be lifted away from his own injuries, and he can become induced to take a fresh interest in life. ‘ It is natural and understandable that young men who but a little while ago were full of the vigour and strength- of youth, with life and all its possibilities stretching before them, should become depressed and inclined to be morbid, when, as a result of physical injuries, they suddenly find themselves crippled and called upon to face the future with impaired faculties. There is a tendency on the part of many such to regard themselves as upon life’s scrap-heap. It is gratifying to know that much can be done to re-adjust this view and to bring it into proper perspective; to show the men that, though nothing can be done to restore a missing limb, yet in the majority of cases there is every prospect of their becoming useful self-supporting members of the community. These curative shops will tend to do this. They help, too, to furnish the man with an attractive means’ for exercising injured limbs, or to become familiar with the use of artificial ones, and, further, they are an excellent means of ascertaining the aptitude of the man who later on will be ready for more advanced training. In conjunction with the Minister for Defence, action has been taken to provide for two of these curative workshops attached to the hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne. Two means seem available for providing that advanced training : One is the establishment of special Government institutions wherein the men could be given the necessary training to enable them to take their place as qualified workmen; the other, by an arrangement with private employers, under which the latter would pay in proportion to the value of the man’s work, the Government paying the difference between that sum and the recognised wage appropriate to the particular occupation. There are many (advantages in the latter proposal. It can be immediately brought into operation. It will enable the men to learn their work under actual trade conditions, and it will, instead of segregating those who are, because of their injuries perhaps, disposed to take a gloomy view of life, bring them into close association with the normal workmen, and thus stimulate their return to normal citizenship.
There is another class for whom training must be provided. Among those who responded to their country’s call, many were apprentices who had not completed their period of apprenticeship. It is not to be supposed that in every case it will be open to these men to return and complete their indentures with their old employers. Yet it is not only demanded in fairness to the men themselves, but it is obviously to the interests of the country, that they should have an opportunity of finishing their course and becoming qualified and skilled workmen. Many of these men will be three years older when they return than when they left these shores. The wages appropriate to eighteen years of age cannot be regarded as sufficient or satisfactory for twenty-one years of age, and an effort must be made, not only to provide facilities for such men to complete their tuition, but the country must accept the responsibility of supplementing their wages to enable them to do so. Some of these men may be provided for at technical colleges and similar institutions, but the resources of such establishments are limited. I am hopeful, also, of a measure of assistance from existing Government workshops and factories. If the projected Government ship-building enterprise is launched, I anticipate such establishments as Cockatoo will render very material assistance in this regard. But outside such opportunities I propose, as in the case of the disabled, that an arrangement should be made with private firms to take over and complete the interrupted indentures, the Commonwealth subsidizing the wages as may be necessary. If these avenues are insufficient, it will be necessary to provide special training establishments.
Now, some objections may be anticipated. It is obviously useless to teach a man a trade unless, having learned it, he is in a position, as a result of such tuition, to secure employment later on. There will be cases in which a man’s capacity has been permanently impaired. Such a man can never be worth, owing to his incapacity, the full wage paid to a normal workman, but it would be foolish in the extreme to decree that), because he could not earn the full wage, he should be prohibited from earning, say, three parts of it. Employers, however, could not be expected to indefinitely pay, say, £3 10s. to a man who was only earning £2 10s. Yet such a man would probably be in receipt of a pension of £1 per week. He cannot possibly live upon that pension, yet he can earn sufficient to so supplement that pension as to obtain a livelihood. Apart from the money aspect of the matter, it would be an injury to the man himself to condemn him to idleness, while such idleness would also involve an economic loss to the community. I propose to confer with the industrial unions and with employers with the view to arriving at an understanding as to the employment of such men.
So far I have referred to the uninjured or to those whose disablements are such as to still permit of their entering upon some occupation. I turn now to those whose condition calls for and will -receive our deepest sympathy. I refer to the totally incapacitated. This term requires definition. As interpreted under the Pensions Act, “ totally incapacitated” means men who have been allotted a full pension, and it includes, therefore, both those whose injuries, though serious, still leave them capable of following some occupation, and those who are without! hope in this respect. No one will begrudge the former the pension they are receiving; but, as regards the latter, it is quite obvious that this pension will not, in a number of cases, be sufficient for those who are totally and incurably helpless. Some of these men will require constant care and attention. For them, special provision will have to be made. I propose to meet such cases in two ways : First, by the establishment of hostels or homes in suitable localities, where those who elect to become inmates can satisfactorily, and, I hope, sympathetically, be looked after. In such cases, a reasonable deduction would be made from the pension. In the case of those who, having homes to go to, or friends able and willing to look after them, and who would, therefore, prefer to remain outside such hostels, I propose that, at the discretion of the repatriation authority, there should be granted a special allowance up to 10s. per week to meet the necessities of the case.
There is another class which also makes special demands upon our consideration, and for whose care and welfare extra provision must be made, namely, those who have developed tubercular complaints. Although* the Red Cross Society, in pursuance of its noble work, has done much to provide for such cases, it is obvious that some more extensive and more permanent provision is needed to meet both existing and probable circumstances. It is proposed, therefore, to establish sanatoria for the reception of (he discharged soldier, and also of those cases wherein the disease may later on develop or reassert itself. Where establishments exist and accommodation is available iti is obviously advisable to utilize these as far as possible, if only to tide over the necessary interval which must interpose between the present and the erection of Commonwealth institutions.
It is inevitable that from time to time discharged soldiers will need medical attention. An agreement by which this could be provided by local hospitals should not be difficult of attainment,, and I am taking the initial steps to this end.
Under the existing arrangement the Defence Department equips the maimed soldier with the necessary artificial limbs. But it is obvious to (honorable senators that such limbs will require repairs, maintenance and renewals. This work will by no means end with the war, but will be continuous for many years to come. It is proposed to establish a factory for the manufacture of limbs, with branches in the respective States. The major portion of the work ‘ can be undertaken by the central factory, the work of the branches being confined to that of fitting, adjusting and repairs. My colleague the Minister for Defence has already arranged to secure from America- both a supply of limbs and an expert, whose arrival here may shortly be expected. Preliminary negotiations have taken place for this expert’s services in the establishment and equipment of the proposed factory, and the training of the necessary workmen. Although, as stated, there is a division of responsibility in this matter, no difficulty need be regarded or anticipated on this account, but obviously the one factory can supply both the original and the renewed limb.
There are many other directions in which, as part of the complete scheme of repatriation, the Commonwealth must prepare to help. I need not - indeed, it is impossible to - enumerate all the directions in which such aids must be extended. I refer to them merely as an indication that they are not overlooked.
I turn now to one of the bigger propositions which are involved in repatriation, namely, land settlement. This is big, not only because of the many difficulties associated with ordinary land settlement, but equally so because of the very heavy financial responsibility which it involves. But in considering the financial side of this question there is one , matter to which I should like to direct particular attention. It is an accepted belief in Australia that every- effort should be made to increase land settlement and the production to which it leads. The State Governments have for many years incurred considerable expenditure in their efforts to promote such settlement. Had no war occurred, public policy would still have required a continuance of this policy. The cost involved, therefore, ought not to be regarded as wholly a repatriation obligation, but as, in part, an expenditure incurred in furtherance of that settlement which would have undoubtedly been promoted quite apart from the war. In other words, a proportion of the money to be spent under this heading ought to be regarded as being spent in the country’s development, and not solely to meet our obligations to the soldiers.
At a conference held last February between representatives of the Commonwealth and the several State Governments, it was agreed that the States, having control of land legislation, possessing Crown lands, having Lands Departments and land experience, should under-‘ take to find the land and place the soldier settler thereon. They could not, however, see their way to find the advances necessary to enable any large number of soldier settlers to effect the improvements requisite to the satisfactory working of their holdings. The Commonwealth Government undertook, therefore, to make advances to the States, to be in turn advanced by them to the settler to enable the latter to effect improvements, purchase plants, seed, stock, &c. The limit in any case was to be £500. The advances to the settler were to be upon favorable terms as to interest and repayment. The States undertook the responsibility of paying to the Commonwealth the interest, and repaying the principal of the amount so advanced. It was further arranged that a Board representing the several States and the Commonwealth should meet from time to time for the purpose of consultation and advice. Queensland, through its representatives, intimated its inability to fall in with the arrangement, and for the present, therefore, the agreement is limited to five States. It was also agreed to establish training farms, the loss on such to be borne equally by Commonwealth and States. It is not possible to make any definite statement as to the numbers likely to take advantage of the opportunities for land settlement. But, obviously, the number will increase or decrease as land proposals are attractive or unattractive. Some time since, cards were distributed amongst soldiers, both in camp at Home and abroad, on which they were invited to state their wishes as to their future occupation on the termination of the war. From those replies it would appear that some 40,000 wish to go upon the land.
The financial liability which is involved in a proposition to provide farms and furnish working capital for such a number, or even a much reduced number, is serious. Although large areas of Crown lands are still available’ in certain of the States, very considerable resumptions of private property will be necessary in others. It is, therefore, difficult to state the average amount required per holding, but. if the present forms of settlement are continued, it may be estimated at £1,000. If to this is added the £500 for improvements, &c, then a total of £60,000,000 is involved. This amount, though heavy, is certainly not prohibitive if the scheme contained in itself reasonable prospects of success, but there are certain features about the existing forms of land settlement which render such success highly improbable. No man, much less a returned soldier, ought to be invited to go on ito a block of land except under such conditions as carry with them the assurance that by steady application there is a reasonable prospect of success. That assurance cannot honestly be given with many of the -propositions being made available in the States. Leaving out those cases of special men who succeed in spite of insurmountable difficulties, dealing with the average man under average conditions, no practical man” will venture to say that with £500 for improvements, plant, seed, fertilizers, .Sat., .to say nothing of sustenance and working expenses, men can safely be invited to take lip the occupation of wheat farming on the terms now offering. The States now recognise this, and at a Conference held last week a resolution was passed inviting the Commonwealth Government to agree to raise the maximum to £750, without increasing the total sum agreed to be advanced. This arrangement, if agreed to, would help to meet the difficulty so far as the wheat grower is concerned, but it would be at the expense of other settlers, as if one man is to get more than the average, then another must get less.
We are, therefore, brought face to face with two alternatives. Either the amount of advance must be increased, or an effort must be made to find holdings of a class which do not need so much capital for their development. As a community, we are still largely influenced by the days of broad acres, and although there has been of late years a tendency towards smaller holdings, it can hardly be said that Australia has seriously grappled with the problem of small settlements. I submit that the present is an extremely favorable time for introducing such an innovation. I want to lay it down as a principle .that holdings designed for soldier settlers should conform ito the capital available for their working. The value of a settler’s own labour ibo the block he occupies is in inverse ratio to the size of his holding. The smaller the holding the more important relatively is the. man’s own labour in developing it. On a 10-acre block the settler’s own labour will, in a comparatively short time, convert it into a fairly improved property, but the same labour would pass unnoticed on a farm of 1,000 acres. Even if more capital is made available for the settler, it implies that he starts with a heavier financial millstone round his neck.
Among those wishing to settle upon the land will undoubtedly be many specially equipped by experience and possessing some capital. For these the present proposals will, perhaps, suffice. But if a genuine effort is to be made to provide for those of lesser experience and no capital, and at the same time give a distinct impetus to small settlement, then a new policy must bo evolved, not in substitution, but as an addition to the existing proposals.
For the satisfactory settlement: of the class last referred to, there are four essential conditions -
These four requisites are quite apart from the suitability of the man himself. This factor attaches equally to all forms of holdings, but I am now specially dealing with men of limited experience and no capital beyond that which the Government proposes to supply.
There are many small holding industries suitable to Australia which have so far not been seriously or systematically ‘ developed. It is part of the policy of the Government, indorsed, I believe, by all sections of the community, to promote the . establishment of new industries and the more scientific development of existing ones. This policy can advantageously be applied to soldier settlement, a d in such a way as to provide attractive holdings for returned soldiers and new and more systematic forms of wealth production for Australia. As land settlement’ is under State jurisdiction, I propose to. confer with State Governments as to certain projects on the lines indicated, and see no reason to doubt that they Will co-operate. The underlying idea of these small holding propositions is that the Government shall guarantee a market and organize the handling and sale of the produce.
As an instance of what is proposed, let me refer to hog-raising. Although pigs are reared generally throughout Australia, it cannot be said that there is a hog industry here in the sense that there is in America. Yet the conditions are equally suitable. Pigs are raised here, with only negligible exception, as an adjunct to dairy or other forms of farming. There is indeed a very generally entertained belief that the pig cannot profitably be reared apart from the cow. America, where whole districts are devoted solely to hog raising as a distinct business, completely disposes of that contention- In the ab- sence, however, of local examples the settler might naturally hesitate before embarking upon hog raising as his sole business, and with no export trade at present established, he might fear the consequences of over production. But if a market were assured, his hesitancy would largely disappear. Such market can be assured without undue risk to the community by providing establishments for slaughtering and subsequent treatment of the hogs and their disposal either on the home market or by export, and by guaranteeing a minimum price to the producer. Such factories, when properly established, could be handed over as cooperative concerns to the settlers. The Government will also make available such scientific and practical advice as may be desirable.
In spite, of all the efforts which may be made to secure the speedy reinstatement in civil life of our returned soldiers, it is a reasonable assumption that difficulty will be found and delays occasioned in completing the process. Something in the nature of reserve employment is therefore needed to meet such a contingency. The purpose of this employment would be to carry a man on until he either obtains, or the repatriation organization obtains for him, that more permanent occupation which he desires, and for which he is fitted. Such reserve employment must be suitable -to the varying capacity and physical strength of the individuals. It would be an advantage too, if employment meeting these conditions could be found, which would help the development of our resources, or the establishment of new industries. Certain projects are under consideration, but I desire to refer to two of them. The first is forestry. A considerable volume of labour could be employed in the development of an undoubtedly big national asset. Suitable quarters will need to be erected for the men, and they will, of course, be paid reasonable . wages. Another and larger undertaking which, whilst having a distinct and important bearing on Australian development, can also, I think, be made a useful adjunct to the work of repatriation, is the Murray River scheme. The carrying out of this work is the subject of an agreement between the three riparian States and the Commonwealth,- I am inquiring to see how far it may be practicable to provide a joint employment and settlement scheme in conjunction with this work.
Under the present Pensions Act, pensions are liable to revision. This, by creating a fear in the mind of the recipient that the revision will proceed downwards in proportion as his efficiency proceeds upwards, is acting as a distinct deterrent. It is desirable that the discharged soldier should as speedily as possible develop the utmost earning capacity. But there is a disinclination to proceed to do so .when it is seen that under the existing system the man’s success may be followed by a cutting down of the pension. At the same time, it has to be recognised that it is not possible in all cases for the medical authorities to accurately deter- mine at the time of a man’s discharge how far the then existing disability may be temporary or permanent, and some opportunity for revision would, therefore, appear to be necessary. It is proposed in order to meet the difficulty that the Pensions Act should be amended. Revision will be provided for at the expiration of six months from the granting of the pension. Any further revision will be at the option of the pensioner, and any alteration in the pension must then be by way of increase only.
It is reasonable to assume that many of those returned may desire that, the assistance to be rendered shall take the form of assistance in the establishment of residences in urban areas. I am endeavouring to work out a scheme which possibly, by the utilization of existing agencies, will make financial assistance available upon liberal and attractive terms.
I have so far dealt with the things proposed to ba done. I now come to the organization necessary to do them. In outlining the proposals I reiterate that the Government, having accepted the responsibility for the work, must have control over the agencies employed in carrying on that work, at the same time securing as large a measure of assistance as possible from private citizens. There must be sufficient of the methods of a public Department to secure continuity and precision, but I have sought to secure with this that assistance which will undoubtedly be rendered if a portion of the work and some of the responsibility devolves upon the commu nity. I propose first, as a central organization, a. Commission of seven, of which the Minister will be chairman. The members of this Board will be private citizens appointed by the Government. They will be asked to act in an honorary capacity. This Board, and all subordinate bodies, to which I shall refer directly, will include returned soldiers. The duties of this Commission will be to prescribe by regulations the nature and extent of the many beneficial activities embraced in the work of repatriation, and which I have generally indicated. It will prescribe, for instance, the purposes for which money may be made available, the limits and conditions of such assistance. It will also hear appeals from the applicants dissatisfied with the decisions of the State Boards, to which I shall refer a little later.
Included in the staff with which the central organization must necessarily be provided will be one, or, if necessary, more, inspectors, whose duty will be, by, frequent visitations, to secure uniform and smooth working throughout the whole country. Such duties will be the more important in view of the large measure of decentralization which is contemplated. As a very wide latitude is to be accorded to the repatriation authorities in the States, and as, in view of such latitude, it is impossible to avoid by any mere regulation a divergence of working, I believe that a competent inspector continuously moving about would act both as a corrective and stimulus. A visit from such a man, and his consultation with those carrying on the work in the various centres, would do more than months of correspondence to secure uniformity and satisfactory results.
I now come to the State organizations which will be charged with the actual work of carrying out the policy emanating from the Central Board. I propose that in the capital city of each State there shall be created by appointment, a Board of seven, acting in an honorary capacity. As with the Central Board, it is desirable that the returned soldiers should be represented. This Board will deal with the applications submitted by returned soldiers, and will in addition have other functions to which I perhaps need not now refer. At the head of each State organization there will be a responsible official, and under his control, the work will be subdivided into various appropriate sections, such as employment, training, disablement, land, &c. As disablement obviously requires special assistance there will be associated with this branch a voluntary committee of experts. With regard to land, although upon the States will fall the duty of settling the soldiers upon the land, I think progress would be greatly expedited if there were in the repatriation office, an officer whose duty would be to help the soldier settler in the preparation and presentation of his application to the State Lands Department. There is necessarily a routine to be followed by the soldier who wishes to obtain land through the instrumentality of the State Lands Department. But he cannot be expected to be familiar with that routine, and his want of knowledge on this point is likely to lead to delays, confusion, irritation, and in some cases, possibly failure. If afforded assistance from a qualified official acting really as his gratuitous agent, the path, which might otherwise be difficult, would become smooth.
All applications - and when I use the word “ applications “ I mean registrations - would be dealt with by the State Board. Upon the registration forms will be set out what it is that each soldier wishes the repatriation organization to do for him. If I have used the word “ applications “ anywhere honorable senators will please understand that in so doing I was referring to the soldiers’ registration cards. These applications will be dealt with by tlie Board to which I have referred. Any applicant feeling dissatisfied with the Board’s decision would be, free to address an appeal to the Central Commission. The responsibility for the efficient working of the staff of each State organization would devolve upon the Chief Executive Officer for that State.
Right throughout Australia I propose to invite the people to create district voluntary organizations. It is essential that these areas should be well defined and co-terminous. In many cases existing areas such as municipalities or shires sug-gest appropriate divisions, but there are other cases, as, for instance, where a municipality is completely surrounded by a shire, that such lines should not be too closely followed. But after consultation with the local government authorities and’ others qualified to advise I do not antici- pate any great difficultly in satisfactorily covering the whole territory with districts adjusted to meet, local conditions and local wishes. The local committees will, when formed, be themselves the best judges of the area with which their operations can most satisfactorily be, carried out. These committees will be invited in every conceivable way to promote the interests of returned soldiers. They will be required. to act as the agents and deputies of the State Board in carrying ‘out any project which the latter may have approved. They will be required to advise the Board on any matters which may. be referred to them. A special feature of their duty should be to endeavour to find openings for employment in their- districts, making it a point of honour to see that, as far as practicable, preference of employment be given to returned men. Regular and frequent reports will be sent to the Central State office both as to employment offering and employment required. If efficiently carried out it will be possible to establish throughout Australia a complete network of labour agencies working incessantly in the interests of the returned soldier.
Another important, duty which it is competent for these bodies to discharge, and which I earnestly hope they will undertake, is the work at present carried out energetically, but in a limited area, by a body known as the “ Voluntary Workers’ Association.” This association ait) present is confined to the neighbourhood of Sydney. It is an association the members of which form themselves into working “bees,” making their labour available for the building of houses. Roughly speaking, the material represents two-thirds and labour one-third of the value represented in the cottages which have been erected. The value of the ‘ labour, and for which no charge is made, represents a margin which permits of the recipient of the cottage obtaining a satisfactory advance from the Savings Banks or other institutions on quite favorable terms. This, however, is only one of the very many activities which could be carried out. In the country, similar working “bees” could be organized , for the help of the soldier settler. It would be a tremendous advantage to him if, for instance, by means of such voluntary organization, he were given a help in the erection of his initial improvements, and in the gathering of his first harvest. Quite a wide range of useful possibilities is opened in this direction, and I sincerely trust that when these local committees are formed they will take up this aspect of the work with earnestness and vigour. The ‘Voluntary Workers’ Association has expressed a strong desire to. be allowed to continue as a separate organization, extending its branches as opportunity presents itself. I do not, however, see that any advantage can arise from establishing two organizations in the same locality when one is sufficient, and I ask them, therefore, to merge themselves into the larger and more extensive organization which I now outline. The experience of those responsible for organizing this association is, however, 1 think too valuable to be lost, and as the quickest way of bringing its methods pointedly before local committees, and to stimulate their interest in this important branch of repatriation activities, I propose to send an .organizer to at any rate the more important centres of each State.
The local committees as deputies for the State authority will be required to see faithfully carried out the Board’s decisions. For instance, where the Board has decided to make an advance of money for a particular purpose to a soldier in a country district, it is nob proposed that the money shall be paid over to the soldier himself, but it will be forwarded to the district committee, who will see that it is properly expended. As in this way these local committees may be required to handle considerable sums of public money, certain Government nominees will be included in their numbers. Outside their activities as representatives of the central body, these local committees will be quite free to do what, they think fit in the way of assistance supplementary to that extended by the National Repatriation Scheme, subject to the conditions previously set’ out.
There is another little matter, which, although small in itself, will be found useful. T refer to the concentration of offices. There is at present considerable inconvenience owing to different, branches of repatriation work being scattered in separate buildings. This is the position in most of the capitals. I propose to bring all under one roof. Every soldier will then know exactly where to go, and much time-wasting, inconvenience and irritation will be avoided and intercommunication between the several branches will be greatly facilitated.
Some public comment has appeared suggesting a fear that the proposed new Department will involve unnecessary expense. Let me say at once that it is no more possible for repatriation to be carried on as- a Government responsibility without expense than it was for the children’ of Israel to make bricks without straw. So far ae the objection is one merely against undue or unnecessary expense, it is understandable. But the administration of all that repatriation calls for, spread, too, over the whole continent, must, and will involve very considerable expense It must not be supposed that, the present system is run without cost, although up to the present most of this has been borne by the State Governments, who have provided premises and made available .the resources of a very considerable number of officers. The cost at present is not less than £30,000 per year, and the work has hardly commenced. Every effort will be made to secure economy, but under no conceivable circumstances can a very considerable expenditure be avoided. That; expenditure will, however, be only such as is necessary to insure efficiency.
Repatriation is a work’ of many phases. It is so much a matter of detail that it is an impossibility to deal fully with it in reasonable limits of time. I have, however, endeavoured to present a broad view of what is contemplated. I do not for one moment think the last word has been spoken. On the contrary, I appeal to honorable senators to kee,p a perfectly open mind. We are but feeling our way, and must be prepared to modify our views and our actions in the light of daily growing experience. I do, however, submit these proposals iu the firm belief that of many alternatives they represent those with a maximum of promise and a minimum of disability. I present them, too, in the hope that they will be received as an earnest attempt to meet the nation’s obligations to those who on its . behalf have gone down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and that they may be regarded as not altogether unworthy either of Australia or of those who heroically fought and suffered in its defence.
– What about financing the scheme?
– I tell the Senate quite candidly that I am not at this juncture concerned about finance. I have put before honorable senators a proposition representing the duty we owe to these returned soldiers, and whether it’ is going to cost more or less for the discharge of that duty, we have to shoulder it.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th July (vide page 180), on motion by Senator Plain -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. May it pi.ease Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I was referring on Friday to the threatened danger to the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth owing to the serious lack of transport. This industry is followed by a not inconsiderable number of very industrious people, who employ directly and indirectly great numbers <of others in the production of their fruit and its transmission abroad. It may not be wise for a man to put his all into one calling, but the f,act remains that thousands of people, particularly in Tasmania, have put their all into orchards, and at the initiation of an orchard there is no return for six or seven years.
– Many have spent half their lifetime in building up their orchards.
– I know of one or two generations working in the same calling to produce an orchard. I have worked with quite a number of them, and know all about them. Thousands of people in Tasmania, if they do not get some kind of support, ‘ will find their industry ruined. Those in Tasmania depend almost absolutely on the means of transport to take their product to the foreign markets of the world. In normal times there would be no fear of any surplus product, because we are told by those interested in the trade at the other end of the world that if we increased our output threefold the demand would increase in proportion.
– They do not tell you that if you go over there.
– They have told numbers who have gone there from Tasmania that they will take three times the product we are sending there to-day. However, the present position is that a serious danger threatens the fruit producers of Australia, and it is up to the Government to endeavour to do everything possible to relieve the situation.
– You are not speaking of this season!
– No, I am speaking of the coming season. This season is practically over, and there has been a very fair local market, while the production has not been as great as usual. Moreover, there have been quite a number of vessels transporting the fruit to the other side of the world, but these may not be available in the future. This matter is not on all fours with the dealing with wheat, hops, metals, and various other things that the Government have taken in hand. Fruit is a much more perishable product, and will have to be dealt with very tenderly.
To this end I am pleased to know that the Government intend to proceed with the project of shipbuilding, which may help to some extent. I am one of those who have some knowledge of shipbuilding, because I have been employed for years at work on ships, and, although I am not a shipwright, I know something about it. I am inclined to say that we are going to be disappointed at the outset of this project, because we have not the number of men available in Australia for any large shipbuilding undertaking, nor will we get immediate assistance from men unacquainted with the trade. Those with no knowledge of shipbuilding imagine that an ordinary carpenter can pick up a shipwright’s tools and use them at once, but they are very much mistaken. It will take a year or two before an ordinary carpenter will be able to render much assistance to the shipwright in building ships. I am speaking of wooden ships, for anything else will be out of the question at the present time. We shall be compelled to go in for building wooden ships, of which we have built scores of the finest in the world in the past. I remember a vessel sailing out of Hobart years ago, possibly the fastest sailer that ever left Australia. She was built in McGregor’s shipyard in Hobart, and was called the Harriet McGregor. She was built of Tasmanian bluegum, which is said to be the very best timber to be had in Australia for the bottom of a wooden ship.
– And a prominent marine artist, who has a seat in another place, says that it was the most beautiful ship, so far as her lines were concerned, that ever sailed into Sydney harbor. ‘
– Another valuable timber for shipbuilding is the brown-top stringy bark. % I notice that in the advertisement calling for returns of requisites for shipbuilding the celery-top pine is omitted. I doubt whether there is a large quantity of it available, but it is one of the finest woods in the world for the purpose.
– There is no scarcity in Australia of timber for shipbuilding.
– The Inter-State Commission, in its report on timbers, states that this is one of the poorest supplied countries in the world as regards timber. If that report is correct, and it ought to be, the honorable senator will find that if we go on as we are doing,, in thirty years we shall have no timber left, unless we replenish our timber resources. That is the view the Commission took on the evidence.
– It is quite true that we need reafforestation, but there are very few countries more richly supplied with hardwoods than Australia.
– The Inter-State Commission says in its report that there aTe only about five countries in the world more poorly supplied with timber than we are.
I hope we shall do something towards helping the fruit-growers of the Commonwealth in’ the very serious time ahead of them, for if they do not get support many of them will be ruined.
After reading the report of the Royal Commission regarding the works at Canberra, I have come to the conclusion, as everybody else must who reads it,, that some of the officers absolutely disregarded every instruction given to them, played the fool “with members of this Parliament, and made light of their own Minister. Those officials who treated the Minister in charge, and every instruction they received, with indifference ought to be treated as we treat any other man who adopts that attitude in any similar position. They assume the position of absolute dictators, and are regardless of anything which a Minister, or member of this Parliament might desire. Questions are answered in a most evasive manner, and it is about time the Government indicated to these gentlemen that they are the servants of the people, and are not in their present positions to do as they think fit.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the report of the recent Royal Commission?
– Yes. Every Minister seems to have been absolutely disregarded, right from the time that Mr. Kelly was in charge.
– Did they disregard Mr. Kelly?
– I am not sure, but iti seems to me that, right through, Ministers have been ignored, and if one Minister more than another deserves censure, it is Mr.. Archibald. I hope that the Government will take this matter into consideration, and see that no more money is wasted, as has been the case in the past.
On Friday afternoon I said that I rose particularly to say something about a pernsonal matter, and having relation to the last Parliament. It will be remembered - and this is the first opportunity I have’ had of speaking of it-that during last February and March I was laid aside with an illness. I am sorry Senator Keat-ing is not present, because what I intend to speak about refers tlo a statement which he made, and in which he conveyed to the general public the impression that I was indifferent as to whether I should get a pair or not in any division that might bake place. I. do not know whether Sena-i tor Keating wished to convey that impression, but if he did not, what on earth) did he intend to convey by his remarks ?; Earlier on the same day Senator Bakhap made a very manly statement concerning the same matter.
– I might inform the honorable senator that, at that time, there was not a single member of the Senate who was not in sympathy with him.
– But a pair waa refused.
– If a pair would embarrass the Government’ in their conduct of business, no one- was under an obligation to give a pair.
–I will deal with that matter presently. ‘I want to make it clear that Senator Bakhap’s manly statement was quite correct, except in matters of detail that are not important. He said that, when walking down -the street with him, I asked for a pair, as I was about to undergo a hazardous operation. As a matter of fact, I only suggested that I would want a pair. On the same day; Senator Keating stated that he was within 100 yards of me while I was in the hospital, and that he had received no request from me for a pair. His speech appeared in the Launceston Examiner a day or two afterwards, but there was not a word of what Senator Bakhap said. I do not know whether the proof copy was sent over to the paper evidently to discredit me, but Senator Bakhap’s speech made it clear that I was not indifferent on the subject of a pair. I may tell honorable senators I was most anxious that I should be paired on every big question, as my overtures to Senator Bakhap would prove. I instructed and urged the Whip of our then ~ party, ex-Senator Beady, to secure me a pair. He informed me that he would use every effort to do so, and that if he did not get a pair for rue there would be such a row that the pages df Hansard would ring with ft. I was a close personal friend of ex-Senator Ready at that time, and I trusted him implicitly. The publication of Senator Keating’s remarks would lead the people to imagine that I was indifferent, but I point out that even if Senator Keating were within 100 inches of me I could not have made a request for a pair, and he might as well have been 1,000 miles away, as I had no opportunity of communicating with him. Moreover, I did nob know that he was in Tasmania, though he said that he was there for three days.
– Will the honorable senator say if he received a wire from me, as Government Whip, offering him a pair while he was in the hospital?
– I did. I received a telegram from Senator de Largie offering to pair me with Senator O’Loghlin, but I thought Senator O’Loghlin was on my own side of the Senate.
– And he is.
– In those circumstances I said that I would leave this matter in the hands of the Leader of my party, and I communicated with Senator Gardiner and Senator O’Keefe accordingly, fully believing that Senator O’Loghlin was on my own side.
– You were right, too.
– Anyhow, we were not) going to pair- with a man about whose position we were not certain then.
– You wanted a live pair for a dead one, then ?
– Senator O’Loghlin’s speeches have shown that we were right and you were wrong.
– I know that I was perfectly right in what I did.
– If I had been in Senator Keating’s place and he in mine, having just undergone a serious operation, I would not have said that I was within 100 yards of him and he did not ask. me for a pair. I should have gone to see him. There is another reason why I am sorry with regard to this matter of a pair,, and that has reference to the Bill which was introduced and passed relating to the soldiers’ votes. If there is one thing I am sorry for it is that. If I had been here my vote would have prevented that very misleading ballot-paper going to the soldiers. I have strong evidence that numbers of soldiers voted in an opposite direction from that which they intended, because they were misled by the ballot-paper.
– They knew all about it.
– I have seen a sworn declaration from one man stating that he did not know, and that when he asked the returning officer who were the Ministerial and who were the Opposition candidates, the returning officer said that he did not know, and that the soldier must take the ballot-paper and do the best he could with it. Every returned soldier I have met from the hospital ship Beltana told me he was misled.
– That is the ship that I was on, and Mr. Catts stated that I told the men who were the Ministerial and who were the Opposition candidates.
– I do not know what Mr. Catts said. I only know what these men say.
– Did not the Minister deny having addressed the soldiers 1 .
– I know I did; but
Mr. Catts has stated otherwise.
– The returned soldiers have also stated that the Minister said so. I do not -want to be put in any false position. I have seen a statutory declaration from one of these men, who says that Senator Pearce went on board the ship at Fremantle and made a speech. I forget the exact words, but there was something about there being only one party to vote for.
– I spoke only about the repatriation scheme, which I said both parties supported.
– I am not sure whether the soldier said the Minister referred to the Ministerial or National party, but, anyway, he signed a declaration to the effect that he was misled, and others said that they were afraid of persecution if they signed any declaration. One man, who was secretary of a Labour organization before he went away, said that when they got the ballot-paper he remarked that when he left Australia the Ministerial party was the Labour party, and, therefore, he would vote for the Ministerial candidates.
– We have letters from the men showing that they knew what the position was exactly.
– Anyway, I am sorry I did not get a pair, for I would then have used my vote to prevent the ballot-paper being issued.
Let me say, in conclusion, that I most fervently hope that the cruel war in which we are engaged, with its heavy toll of bloodshed, sorrow, and suffering, will soon be brought to a termination, and that a peace will be secured that will be as satisfactory as possible to all concerned. I hope that peace, when it is secured, will endure for a century or two. That is the one matter that is of first importance to the Empire to-day. I fervently desire that we may shortly return to a state of peace, and that the peace secured will prove a lasting one.
– I shall not take up very much of the time of the Senate in discussing the matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s opening Speech. I anticipate that during the .present session most of them will come before us for discussion in the form of Bills or resolutions.
I wish, however, to make some reference to the paragraph in the Speech, referring to the number of troops required to reinforce our Army at the Front. Experience has shown that the 16,500 men per month originally asked for are not now required, as the result, I believe, , of improved methods of conducting the war and the saving of the lives of men at the cost of an extra expenditure of munitions. We are all glad to know that the number required for reinforcements has been so substantially reduced, because, if Australians set themselves earnestly to the task, I believe they can raise the number now said to be required, namely, 7,000 per month. We have not yet reached that number, but we are not putting forth the “effort to obtain recruits that we ought to put forth. I have had some little experience in connexion with recruiting, and I am bound to say that the public men of Australia, to whom the people generally look to give them a lead in such matters, are not performing their duty. They are leaving the raising of the 7,000 men per month entirely to the various State Recruiting Committees. The members of these Committees are doing their very best to recruit the required number, but we cannot under-estimate the influence which the public men in the Federal and State Parliaments might exercise if, Instead of going about saying that we cannot raise the required number, or as some of them do, that we ought to have conscription, they put their shoulders to the wheel and, no matter to which political party they may belong, carried out the policy of the Government, and advised those who desire compulsory service, as well as those who do not, that, as we are at present confined to the voluntary system, every one should do his share to make it successful. If «this were done, the raising of the 7,000 men per month should be a comparatively easy task. I point out that at present we are being asked to raise more than 7,000 men per month, because it has very properly been suggested that the men of the gallant First Division should be brought back, for a brief period at any rate, to visit their friends in Australia. I >wish to make no invidious comparisons, as the men of every division that has left Australia have proved themselves equally brave, and have done equally good work for Australia and the Empire. But the men who left with the First Division blazed the track for the troops who followed’ them. They went through strenuous training in Egypt, through fearful trials at Gallipoli, and subsequently through no less dreadful times in France. They should be given some respite, and an opportunity to return to Australia to see their relatives. If this is to be done we must raise a number of men sufficient for the purpose, in addition to the 7,000 men per month required for reinforcements. This makes it only the more necessary that the public men of Australia should give real assistance to the recruiting movement. I hope that there will be no more talk about our being unable to get the number of men required. I am glad to learn that during the last few weeks the “ number of recruits obtained has gradually been increasing. If the assistance that we ‘ have a right to expect from our public men were forthcoming, I have no doubt that our recruiting would be successful. The work of addressing a few public meetings involves but very trifling inconvenience when compared with the risks, trials, and discomforts to which the Tads who are fighting so bravely for our liberties across the ocean are exposed. I am glad to know that the Government are taking steps to improve the conditions of our soldiers and of those who are dependent upon them, but I shall leave what remarks I have to make upon their proposals until they are submitted for our consideration.
There is one matter to which I feel I am compelled to refer at some length. It is necessary that I should make some observations with regard ito the statements made by Dr. Gilruth, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, in reply to a speech made by myself in this Chamber some months ago. Dr. Gilruth’s reply was laid on the table of the Senate a few minutes before Parliament prorogued. I do not know how .that reply was dug out, where it came from, or the reason for the very considerable delay in its production. My speech in the Senate was made in September, 1916, and the reply by Dr. Gilruth was laid on the table in March, 1917. It took a long time to materialise, and it was presented to the Senate in a somewhat extraordinary fashion. I find no fault, with that, because I have no doubt that the President will take care tha* nothing is* presented in an improper manner. I could not help being surprised, however, that this so-called reply to my speech should have appeared in the closing hours of a session. As the opportunity presents itself, I intend to reply to Dr. Gilruth’s statements this afternoon.
In the first place, Dr. Gilruth expresses his regret that, whilst in the Northern Territory, I did not consult some of the responsible officers or himself with regard to the grievances which were placed before me there. As a matter of fact, I did consult a large number of the officers in -the Northern Territory, and where a complaint was made they nearly al;l agreed that the Administrator was responsible. lt seemed . to me that, rightly or wrongly, the Administrator was blamed for practically everything that transpired in the Territory. I was chiefly induced to make the statements I did in the hope that the Senate would agree to- the appointment of a Royal Commission, for which I asked, to investigate the grievances. If the Commission had been appointed an opportunity would have been afforded .to Dr. Gilruth and other persons who desired to do so, to make their own statements. That would have been fair ‘ to Dr. Gilruth, as’ well as to those who made statements or charges against him. I did not go to the Northern Territory to point out to Dr. Gilruth what his duties were. I was there simply as a visitor, and had no authority to dictate to the Administrator or to suggest to him any improvements of his administration. He says in his reply to my speech that the Government Secretary asked me personally to do what he considered a fair thing, and that was ito come to him. That) is what I did. I went to the Government Secretary in connexion with several matters. I had a consultation with him in the presence of some of the men who had made complaints. Some of .those who took up farms in the Territory, and others, were very bitter in their complaints of the administration. I brought them along to the Government Secretary, and we had a long talk over their difficulties. Whilst we did not) get very much satisfaction, I repeat that I did the fair thing in the Northern Territory, as I tried to do here, in inducing the .Senate to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the administration. Had I done more in the Territory .than I did, I should probably have been told by the Administrator or some one else to mind my own business. I did not wish to expose myself to anything of that kind whilst I was a visitor in the Territory.
In the speech which I delivered in the Senate I commented upon the facilities in connexion with the railways in the Territory. Dr. Gilruth takes very great exception to my statements in this regard. I claim to know something about railways and their working, and I thought that if there was one thing about which I could speak with some authority iti was railway working.
Dr. Gilruth took exception to my statements regarding the Darwin jetty. He said that Mr. Hobler visited Darwin some time ago, and, in conjunction with the railway staff, made certain recommendations respecting the jetty and harbor accommodation. Mr. Hobler paid a visit to the Territory something like two years ago. . He made certain recommendations, it is true, but I would like to know whether Dr. Gilruth, as Administrator of the , Territory, gave him every assistance while he was there, and also whether he indorsed the recommendations or did anything to assist him in making the recommendations, or to induce the Government to give effect to them. My chief complaint at the time was that the jetty had been badly damaged. I said that two ships had run into the jetty, and therefore it was impossible for vessels to get alongside to- discharge their cargo with anything like reasonable speed. Those were the points which I particularly dealt with. It was a local matter. The repairs to the jetty should have been undertaken immediately,, and should not have been. delayed for months, as they were.
I complained of the small amount of space available for storing goods either in the bonded stores or in the free stores. I complained of the railway facilities generally in order to get goods away from the wharf to the railway yard, and I went on to show that the whole of the railway work was unsatisfactory in the extreme. Dr. Gilruth has overlooked every one of those statements. He has made no reply to them. Therefore it is quite evident that what I said was perfectly true.
I also said that’ the rolling-stock exhibited every evidence of neglect on the part of the authorities. Dr. Gilruth has made no reference to that point. Surely the matter of attending to the rollingstock and keeping it in something like reasonably good condition is the/ duty of the Administrator, ‘and should receive his at- .tention from day to day.
As regards the officials in the Territory, I pointed out that some highly-placed men were doing work which properly ought to be carried out by secretaries, shorthand clerks, youths, and so on. We found men employed there doing clerical work to the neglect of more important duties. I- quoted the case of the Locomotive Superintendent, who had neither a shorthand clerk nor other person to attend to the details of his correspondence. He had a number of men under his control, but he had no clerical assistance.
I also made some statements regarding the old locomotives which were purchased in Queensland being inefficient, costly, and unsuitable for the work. Dr. Gilruth ignored that point also when he could have established very easily the truth or otherwise of my statement.
I found fault with the workshops. In the main, Dr. Gilruth, in his supposed reply,, made no reference to the statement which I then made. I made no charges whatever against Dr. Gilruth. I was particular to emphasize the fact that in none of my statements was I in any wise condemning him, because I did nob know whether he or the Government was to blame, nor did I care. I wanted to ventilate things which I found to be wrong, and recognised the Senate as the only place in which I could take that action.
With regard to the railway employees and their living accommodation, Dr. Gilruth quotes me as having said that -
The hulk of the men are living in huts and tents in the neighbourhood of the work-shops, and under circumstances altogether unsatisfactory in every respect.
I did say so, and I repeat the statement. In the ^interval I have taken care to have it verified. I intend to show this afternoon that it was absolutely correct, and can be verified abundantly. Dr. Gilruth himself confirmed what I said so far as the men are concerned, because in his reply he stated -
The position is -
Thirty-eight men are employed at these shops;
Eighteen married men and their relatives occupy fourteen departmental cottages.
Eighteen married men and their relatives occupy fourteen cottages ! Workmen’s cottages in Darwin generally consist of two rooms with a verandah all round. Yet Dr. Gilruth denied my statement that the men are improperly housed, but admitted that he has eighteen married men and their families in fourteen cottages. He went on to say -
Three other cottages are used as quarters to accommodate ten employees.
My statement regarding the crowding of men in these houses in tropical Darwin Dr. Gilruth says is generally incorrect.
– Are they all tworoomed cottages?
– There are some three and four roomed houses, but the tropical house is different from anything which the honorable senator has a conception of. The workmen’s cottage is built of two rooms with a wide verandah all round. The better class house consists of three rooms with a verandah all round. People live in the verandah and not in the rooms. In a tropical climate the Administrator has three cottages with ten employees in them. He did not say whether the men were married or single. It is no wonder that men do not rush to secure employment at Darwin when they would have to live under such conditions as are outlined in this parliamentary paper.
Dr. Gilruth admitted that applications had been received from men for more cottage accommodation. He wrote -
There is one application at the present time from a married man with a wife in the service for a cottage, but none is vacant.
Some fitters and turners are required, and for married men more accommodation will be necessary. The Department is not aware of any of the employees in these shops living in houses and tents, except three carpenters who temporarily carry out certain repairs, are living in tents supplied by the Department.
That was exactly my contention. I said that men were living in tents, that persons were not receiving from the Government any inducement to go and live in a country such’ as the Territory is. In his reply, Dr. Gilruth tried on the one hand to make out that what I said was exaggerated, yet he furnished the best proof of the correctness of everything I said. He suggested that I had concluded that the tents, humpies, and so on which I saw in the vicinity were occupied by the employees from Vestey’s works. I did not come to any conclusion without having very carefully investigated the matter for myself. The best proof of that is to be found in the fact that Dr. Gilruth indorsed my statements with regard to the inadequacy of . the housing accommodation for the workmen at Darwin.
Since Dr. Gilruth’s reply to my speech was tabled, I have communicated with several persons in Port Darwin, and I intend to let them reply to some of the statements made by him here. One writer said -
Since railway extension was commenced the railway staff has practically doubled, but there was only the same old number of railway cottages erected by the South Australian Government years ago. Your statement is correct.
Another writer said -
I have made inquiries from workmen at the 2J miles. They state that at the time of your visit to Darwin there were ten cottages and the old office at the 2i miles. One cottage was occupied by a man who was riot employed at the workshop. There were some men living in tents, and they think at that time there was a Russian, with his wife and family, living in a tent because he could not get a house. Since January, 1917, quarters have been erected to accommodate six single men, and one cottage for a family. Three construction camp shacks have also been erected. Two other smaller cottages have been repaired, and are now occupied by employees. Two employees are living in tents, and others in town, owing to the want of accommodation and mess facilities. Promise has been made of more accommodation in the near future. They say your statement is absolutely correct. In reply to a deputation of railway men this month, the Superintendent of Railways promised to make application for four cottages, and in the meantime, in lieu of cottages, he would erect tents. This goes to prove that married men are still living in tents. One of the main reasons given for the shortage of cottages for railway men was the fact that people outside the service were living in nilway cottages.
You will remember that fine house near the public school, at one time occupied by the Collector of Customs (Huggins), which was condemned for the purpose of compelling him to go into the Myilly Point houses against his wish. That house .has been demolished and removed to the aboriginal compound. In its stead they are erecting an old building brought from
Burrundie, which had been standing there for twenty years.
That was an extraordinary thing to-do. I saw this house. It was an excellent house - probably one of the best built houses there. It was condemned because the then Collector of Customs would not leave it. The Administrator determined that the officer should go, and the only way in which he could get the officer out of the house was by having it condemned. The Health Board came along and condemned the house, and the officer had to get out of it. The house stood empty for a year and more. When I was at Darwin the authorities were using the house as a store. They had carted cement from the railway station about a mile up a steep incline. They had one of the rooms filled with cement. When cement was required along the railway line they carted it from the house to the railway station, and sent it to where it was wanted. The excuse given was that the house was needed for a store, and all that they stored in it was cement. They have pulled down the house and re-erected it in the aboriginal compound as a .shed for the niggers. -They took the house from Burrundie, some 20 miles distant, and erected it on the site previously occupied by the building which they had pulled down. This is the kind of thing that is filling every man in the Territory with absolute disgust. I have here a long statement regarding this house by a resident in Port Darwin, and it may be well to afford honorable senators an opportunity of learning exactly what is being done, because I have not yet abandoned hope that the Government will do something effective in regard to the Territory. Dr. Gilruth says that rents have been reduced 60 per cent. In reply to his allegation my correspondent says -
Concerning the decrease of rents from 6 per cent, on value to 10 per cent, on salary : This was a matter for which we were all very thankful, but we have to feel grateful to the Australian Workers Union rather than the Administrator, for the reduction followed the arbitration case brought on by the union, in which great stress was laid upon the excessive rents charged by the Government. In the matter of housing certain civil servants at Myilly Point, the Administrator fairly dragooned those who objected to the big houses and high rents.. I had a house rent free under the instruction of Mr. Batchelor, who was then Minister. Gilruth forced me against my desire to occupy one of the big houses at Myilly Point at double the rent, and broke the arrangement made by the Minister. I have the papers to prove this. In the case of Mr. Huggins, who refused to bo turned out of the fine house be occupied, and which belonged to the Customs Department, the Administrator beat him by having it condemned by the Health Department, and, of course, Mr. Huggins had to give in. This was an act of contemptible turpitude; a dirty trick that has never been justly criticised, but should be now. The house, a’ fine, spacious, well-built place of six large rooms and verandah all round three sides, and no less than 24 feet behind, as well as several substantial out-buildings, lay idle for two years, while families were clamouring for shelter. Two hundred pounds would have put this commodious place into perfect order, and two families could have lived in it. You saw it, and you know what the place is like. Now it has been pulled down. The timbers were sound, and so was the iron. This house has been lugged out to the compound to build humpies for the aboriginals. Can you beat it? In its place a three-roomed house has been erected, the timbers of which were taken from a house dismantled at Burrundie.
That is my answer to the declaration of the Administrator that there are very few persons living iu tents in Port Darwin, and that the housing accommodation for the workmen there is ample. When I previously spoke upon this question in the Senate, I pressed the Government to provide facilities to enable workmen to build homes for themselves. In this connexion Dr. Gilruth says that he has already drafted au ordinance which is now before the Attorney-General’s Departmentdealing with the question of advances for workmen’s homes. I believe that my visit to the Territory is responsible for this draft ordinance, and I hope that the Government, will expedite its passage. Another writer informs me that it was the intention of Senator Thomas, when he filled the position of Minister for External Affairs in 1912, to have workmen’s cottages erected at Darwin, but that the Administrator spent) the money for some other purpose.
Dr. Gilruth has expressed surprise at my attitude towards coloured labour. I have already replied that the charge which he has levelled against me of favoring the employment of Chinese is absolutely opposed to fact, and I do not intend further to refer to the matter. But I did have something to say in this Senate in reference to the Greeks, Patagonians, and other aliens who are to be found in Port Darwin. In his reply Dr. Gilruth says -
I understand that these- Patagonians are really Spaniards, who were brought from the Argentine along with a number of Welshmen.
Now, the fact is that there are only six Welshmen amongst these 151 immigrants. According to a resident of Darwin -
The majority of the others are as black as the ace of spades, and one of them, who is seventy years of age, and who is practically a charge on the Government, is now looking alter one of the gates at the Botanic Park; another was a Spaniard with one leg; whilst two others were sent from the ship to the hospital suffering from venereal. They escaped, and it is doubtful whether they were ever re-captured, and in any case they should never have been allowed to land.
That, I repeat, is the history of these immigrants as given by a resident of Port Darwin. The Administrator has assumed that I condemned him for everything connected with the Territory, whereas I was careful not to blame him for anything. Further on he says -
Senator Newland says it cost nearly ?200 per man to land them at Port Darwin.
I said nothing of the kind. What I said was -
I do not vouch for the correctness of the statement, but I was told that some two years ago a shipment of Patagonians, &c.
I did not say that these Patagonians cost ?200 a man to land them at Port Darwin. But I did say that, chiefly because of the war, two years elapsed from the time they left their homes until they landed at Darwin, that it cost a considerable sum to land them there, and that I did not blame Dr. Gilruth for it. That gentleman says that I could have obtained all this information on application through the ordinary official channels. But I had as much information at the time as he has now.
Then Dr. Gilruth refers to my complaints regarding the railway staff, and proceeds to condemn the dual control of the railway in the Territory. He affirms that railway matters there are under the’ control of the Department of Home Affairs, and also under the control of the Department of External Affairs. If that circumstance is hampering Dr. Gilruth in his administration, I am anxious to assist him to overcome the difficulty. I did not blame him for any disability under which the railway staff laboured, and ‘ if existing disabilities can be removed by centralizing control, I shall be glad to aid him in that direction. In my speech I also stressed the difficulty which I experienced in securing overdue increments, which, were paid to the railway employees, whilst
I was in Darwin. I set out in my statement nhat the then Minister for Home Affairs, after a number of wires had been exchanged between us, had agreed to pay these long overdue increases. I did not blame Dr. Gilruth for the delay which had occurred.
– Why does not the honorable senator repeat his motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the affairs of the Territory?
– I am hopeful that the Government will not require that course to be adopted. I believe that they will recognise the necessity for appointing a Royal Commission.
– The honorable senator’s faith would move mountains.
– I have faith in mankind yet.
Dr. Gilruth further says
I do’ not know what member of the Public Service Association gave the senator the statement which he includes in his speech, but I know that the senator spent some time with Dr.. Jensen, who was then President. Here is the inference that Dr. Jensen, who has been persecuted out of the Territory, supplied me with the information. The Administrator’s statement is wrong in two particulars. In the first place, Dr, Jensen did not give me the information, nor was he the president of the Public, Service Association at the time I was in Port Darwin. As a matter of fact, I received the information from the then secretary of the association, by direction of his executive, at a meeting of that body which I attended. Dr. Jensen had then resigned his position as president. Dr. Gilruth could have had all this information had he applied to me for it. I quoted extensively fro,m the resolutions of the executive, showing what they “ had done to get their grievances rectified by the Administrator, and intend to quote further from them to-day. Dr. Gilruth, however, does not deny anything I said in that regard.
So far as his statements regarding salaries and rents are concerned, I have already pointed out that the much abused and maligned Australian Workers Union is responsible for the reduction in the rents of the large houses at Myilly Point. The Australian Workers Union had an Arbitration Court case, and one of the points dealt with was the high rentals paid in Darwin. The result was that the rents, which had previously -been fixed on a basis of 6 . per cent, on the cost, were altered to a basis of 10 per cent, on the salary paid. This meant a tremendous reduction to the men living in those houses. I wish to give credit where credit is due, and the credit for that reform is due to the Australian Workers Union, which has been responsible for many other improvements in the condition of the workers at Darwin.
Dr. Gilruth has replied at considerable length to my remarks about the hours of. labour. Here again’ my information was obtained from the Public Service Association in Darwin, and’ was contained in the statement which they prepared for me while I was there. In his statement, Dr. Gilruth says, he “ does not see how it can be said or assumed that single officers are encouraged to spend their long afternoons or evenings in hotels.” There is scarcely any other place for single men to spend their afternoons or evenings. There is very little social life for them, and after they leave off work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon they have their time on their hands until bed-time. The men at Darwin themselves supplied this information, and since I came down have verified it in every particular. A recent correspondent says -
The hours of work as altered by Gilruth were bitterly complained of by all. When the Daylightsaving Act was in operation, it was particularly hard on people to have to get up an hour before daylight, in order to get to work at 7.30 a.m.. Daylight saving was never intended to apply to the tropics, where daylight is regular enough at all seasons of the year. Some common sense might be brought to bear by the authorities. It had to be disregarded at the gaol, as the prisoners had to be turned out of their cells in the dark, a matter of great clanger. Vestey’s do not conform to the Government hours; their men turn to at 8 a.m. So that the Government were the only people who observed the daylight saving hours in Darwin.
Dr. Gilruth’‘ and myself are somewhat in conflict over the question of the public servants asking for an alteration in the office hours. He says there was no request made to him by any large majority for any alteration of the hours. The Public Service Association, through their executive, when I was there furnished me with a statement which contains the following -
As regards office hours, the very hours so strongly objected to became fixed by regulation, and our protests and deputations had no effect. We were told that in Java and other tropical places (not governed as “ white men’s “ countries) work commenced at 6 a.m., and finished at I p.m. The different labour conditions here were ignored, as were also the facts that the local business people rightly refused to fall into line; that the hotel meal hours were unnecessarily prolonged, and families were being split up; that young children were becoming physical wrecks, and mentally barbarians by the school hours and other equally potent factors.
Deputations waited on the Administrator to no avail. The only achievement was a lengthening of the lunch time from three-quarters of an hour to one and a quarter hours, and a proportionate addition to the office hours in the afternoon.
The Administrator also said that he had no knowledge- of ballots having been taken, or of the men actually asking for any reduction in the hours. The statement made by the officers contains the following
It is chiefly the family men who object to the present hours. Breakfast for father and children, dinner for father and children in ai family at different times in a country where domestic assistance is difficult to get. Yet, by a large majority the association balloted in favour of the old South Australian hours, and, ‘ in spite of protests and deputations, the Administrator is adamant.
Yet the Administrator says that no request was made to him, so far as he knew, by a majority of the men to get the hours altered. I shall show that theAssociation endeavoured, to the best of their ability, to induce him- to alter them. I have here a copy of the series of resolutions which the members of the Association prepared and presented to him.
The Administrator says -
I am not aware that by a large majority, or any majority, the association balloted in favour of the old hours. So far as my recollection goes, a deputation from the association informed me of the meeting held nearly a year ago in a town hall, where a motion to alter the hours of duty was defeated by a small majority.
Here is a copy of the resolutions carried at the meeting, and presented to Dr. Gilruth -
Those resolutions were presented to him by a deputation, and I have here a copy of the minutes of that deputation, taken by Dr. Gilruth’s secretary, and supplied to the Association by that gentleman. Dr. Gilruth must have forgotten that the deputation waited on him. The members of it pressed their claim for an alteration of the hours. The minute is as follows : - Resolutions Nos. 10 and 11.- The request of the association to have the lunch hour extended by half-an-hour has been approved, and the necessary regulation made to give effect thereto. The request of the association to have hours altered to “ 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., with an hour and a half for lunch,” cannot be complied with.
This was signed by Dr. Gilruth, yet he denies that a deputation waited on him on the matter. Dr. Jensen was a member of the deputation, and I know that if he has anything to do with a matter it is rather obnoxious to Dr. Gilruth. The notes of Dr. Jensen’s remarks on the deputation, supplied from the Administration Office, are as follow : -
I will not dwell at length on the associa-tion’s desire to have the hours altered, beyond saying that those officers who want the reestablishment of the old hours are the married men, and the officers who have been here some considerable time, and those who want the present hours are mostly young men, who have recently arrived. I may mention, also, that some time ago the matter was placed before the association, when the majority for the change was even greater, being 21 to 16.
This was the Administrator’s reply -
The majority was small on each occasion, and this time is less, which means that the opinion of the main body is undergoing a change. I am prepared to accede to the association’s first request that the lunch hour be extended to one hour and a quarter, which will mean that work will cease then at 3, and not 2.30.
But the Administrator did not agree to extend the hours in the morning to a reasonable time. Dr. Gilruth has either forgotten about the deputation and the fact that the request for an alteration of the hours was gone into so frequently by the Association, or he- thinks I am not in as full possession of the details of so many matters in connexion with the Territory as I am. Two ballots were taken, one secret and one open, and both resulted in favour of the hours being altered to the old South Australian hours which were in force before Dr. Gilruth went there. I also told the Senate that I found a good deal of dissatisfaction amongst the parents at Port Darwin with the hours at which the children had to attend school, and also because of the fact that, for a long time, the children had to walk from the 2^-mile to the school. The ‘Administrator, in his reply, refers to the east coast of New Zealand. That is a very far flight of imagination. The conditions of life are not quite the same in the two places. Children may be able to walk further there than they can be expected to do in such a climate as that of Darwin.
– What are the hours ?
– School is dismissed at 1 o’clock.
– At what time do the schools start?
– School work used to commence at 8.30, in conformity with the hours that Dr. Gilruth imposed upon all the people in Port Darwin.
– Will his reappointment improve matters in the Territory ?
– Probably, provided he has reformed sufficiently in his methods.
– But he has a free hand, so that this should be a good time for a Royal Commission.
– That is what I wanted.
– Why not press for it?
– I believe the Government will grant a Royal Commission in connexion with the Territory administration. So far as the children are concerned, Dr. Gilruth says -
The children attending school from a distance, Senator Newland admits, are now taken back after school by train. This recommendation emanated entirely from the Government Secretary.
That is only partly true. He claims that the recommendation emanated from the Government Secretary, whereas it emanated from the Public Service Association, and was pressed for by that body time and again. The Public Service Association repeatedly approached him on this question, and correspondence which I have received states -
The Public Service Association repeatedly asked for the return to the old school hours. They also made request after request to His Excellency to arrange some system of conducting children from the 21 miles to Darwin. Mr. Day (late Chief Surveyor) will be able to confirm this, as he headed the deputation that first brought this matter up. The writer has also brought it up at intervals. Mr. Carey acted in the matter without informing the association, so as to deprive this association of any credit due to them.
That is a reply from a gentleman living in the Territory to the claim made by Dr. Gilruth that the Government Secretary had brought this matter forward.
In another reference to the salaries of Government employees, I pointed out that some men with less than twelve months’ service were drawing the same salary as those who had twelve to fifteen years’ service to their credit, and in reply to that Dr. Gilruth makes the lame excuse that the same thing applies to many other services of the Commonwealth. That might be an excuse for Dr. Gilruth not recommending increases which are due, but I think it will fail to give satisfaction to the Public Service in Port Darwin.
Dr. Gilruth also takes exception to my statement concerning the cost of transport from some of the mines. I said the cost was from £6 to £20 per ton, and Dr. Gilruth, in his explanation, has made it £26 per ton. Evidently he did not read my statements with very great care, or he would not have made a blunder of that kind. I am quite satisfied concerning the accuracy of my statements, which have been borne out since by letters I have received from other persons in the Territory. Dr. Gilruth agrees that mining is of great importance to the Territory, but this is a matter upon which, perhaps, neither his opinion nor mine is of very great value. He says, in his reply to my criticism -
I am in agreement with Senator Newland generally in regard to mining, although I am afraid the Mount Bonnie mine will not prove the magnificent asset to the Territory which its owners and Senator Newland have so sanguinely anticipated.
Since I made my statement) the Mount Bonnie mine has improved considerably, so I think my estimate of mining in the Territory is at any rate equal to that of Dr. Gilruth.
Turning now to the Batchelor Farm, I point out that everything I said regarding that property is borne out by Dr. Gilruth’s admission in his reply. I said that the place was not sufficiently large for cattle raising, and in his reply he says -
I propose to increase the area if the money is available by enclosing another 3 or 4 square miles of Crown lands with a three-wire fence.
He denies that the house erected on the farm had gone to “rack and ruin,” but admits that it had not been repainted since its erection, and that instructions had been given to have this done. That work has been carried out since I left the Territory. I contend that the house was going to rack and ruin. I said that the white ants were well into the house. Dr. Gilruth admits it was reported that “ they had got into the posts.” When I was there I saw the white ants at work; they were very lively, and were doing very well with the posts ; and, as a matter of fact, they had got considerably further; so that it is of very little use for Dr. Gilruth to attempt to deny my statements. I said, also, that the place was elaborately furnished, and in his reply he says it was furnished by private indivi-‘ duals, and not at the cost of the Government. Now, I was told that the Batchelor Farm was furnished largely from the Government House at Darwin when that establishment was excellently refurnished, and the fact remains that when I was there the house was depleted of furniture. Nobody knew where it had gone to. I said, further, that there was enough machinery there to work a 3,000-acre farm, and Dr. Gilruth replies -
The farm is 2,560 acres in extent, and the machinery waB purchased four years ago by the then Director.
This is a cunning way of avoiding a straight-out reply. Dr. Gilruth says that the farm is 2,560 acres in extent, but he does not add that not 200 acres is ever cultivated. He is very careful to leave that f act_ out. Only a handful of the land is cultivated, and some of the machinery there has never turned a sod. Dr. Gilruth was careful not to mention that fact also; and, dealing with my remarks concerning the plant, he indulged in one of those half-truths which - I will leave honorable senators to finish the sentence for themselves. Dr. Gilruth refers to my criticism of the management for not having experiments carried out, and in reply he says -
Seeing at the time of the senator’s visit no rain had fallen for four months, and it was midwinter, I do not know what experiments he would expect to see being conducted in that location.
If it is necessary to wait for rain in a place like the Northern Territory before experiments can be carried out, it is notworth while maintaining an experimental farm. I pointed out, also, that there were several wells on the farm, and that the windmill on the one adjacent to the house had not been repaired for months; a man was sent down from Port Darwin to look at it, but that was the last the people there saw of him, so a valuable petrol engine, standing out in all sorts of weather, was being used to work the pump. One might expect to see experiments conducted for successful production without rain instead of waiting for rain, for there is plenty of water available at a depth of 100 feet or so.
– Is it suitable for irrigation ?
– Yes, it is good for everything. Dr. Gilruth also twitted me with having referred to the valuable prize bull on the farm. He had a lot to say some time ago about the £10,000 pumpkin, which I did not see. I understand a pumpkin was supposed to have grown there. It cost £10,000 to conduct the Batchelor Farm, and as a result, I understand, they grew this wonderful pumpkin, which I believe somebody stole.
In connexion with Batchelor Farm I propose to read a few extracts from letters I have received from people who have lived for a long time in the Territory, and who are in a position to express reliable opinions about it. One gentleman, who has lived in Darwin for a number of years writes -
You can say almost anything in condemnation of Batchelor Farm, for the worst is good enough. The assertions of careful observers are as much to be considered as the bald denials of Dr. Gilruth. White ants are, or certainly were, in the buildings, and machinery has gone to ruin - not going. He says : - “ Seeing at the time of the senators’ visit no rain had fallen for four months, and it was midwinter, I do not know what agricultural experiments he would expect to see being conducted in that location.” There you are. That proves your case entirely, that the farm is a rank failure. That is the condition of the country every year. Why is it called an “ experimental farm?” The thing is a fraud, and was proved so years ago. Nothing but obstinacy keeps it going. Endeavours have been made to pass it on to some one else, but no one will have it. Horses put on the place fat before the wet are now bags of bones, and have to be herded with the cattle outside the farm.
Another gentleman, writing from Darwin, says -
Man after man, arriving full of enthusiasm and a desire “ to make good,” broke down under the lond of crass stupidity heaped upon him by instructions impossible to accomplish, and, seeing the hopelessness of the position, just let things slide, and drifted out of the country. “ Demonstration “ is the designation applied to these farms, but all that has been demonstrated is an utter want of common sense and a prodigal disregard of the value of money. Valuable live stock, imported at great expense, has been allowed to perish- through sheer neglect. Two beautiful blood horses, one of a Carbine lineage, the other of an almost equally famous strain, were brought at great expense from New Zealand, and arrived at Darwin in perfect - health and strength. They were proudly paraded through the township, and were admired by all. They were advertised for the stud; they were to improve the horse stock of the Territory, and well could have done it. They were sent to Batchelor Farm, and that was the beginning of the end. Neither of them ever had a chance. Neglect and ignorance did their deadly work. The public were not encouraged to avail themselves of the services of these splendid animals, which lost their condition and wasted away. After two years they had sired three foals. Then for some unaccountable reason they were sent to a privatelyowned station known as Willeroo, where they were retained wholly for the benefit of that place. In order to justify the diversion of the horses from the service of the public, some strange compact was entered into whereby the owner of the station was to share stud fees with the Government. Willeroo was hundreds of miles away from anywhere, and in any case no one would have taken the chance of sending a decent mare into the open country where these horses were allowed to run. The thousands of pounds these animals cost in purchase, wages, and maintenance was absolutely lost, and the Government did not get one single penny nor one single foal out of the business. Finally, the stallions wasted to mere tickinfested frames, were brought back to Batchelor Farm, where they perished ingloriously. Several fine draft stallions, also from New Zealand, were similarly treated and perished. A couple of young mares brought over with them still cling to life, but the stallions never had a ^chance of perpetuating their line.
Batchelor Farm would appear to be fatal to stock of all kinds. The pedigreed pigs put there died,, and a competent man, who ‘made a post-mortem examination, said the cause of death was marasmus, that is, starvation. Cattle died, after the ticks, with which Batchelor Farm is swarming, had depleted them of” their life-blood, and even the fowls failed to survive.
When I visited Batchelor Farm recently, the whole of the food consumed by the manager and the men on the place was brought by train from Darwin. I believe a pumpkin was grown on Batchelor Farm once, and as it was a considerable pumpkin it was officially photographed and made into’ a post-card and sent all over the world, as a stimulus to immigration. A high official’ stood close by the pumpkin and smiled, as who would say : “ Look what Batchelor Farm can do when it tries.” There was “not an egg on the farm, and only tinned milk. A few half-starved cattle invaded the stables and horned the equally ravenous horses for the food in the mangers. Machinery tay rusting in the open, gates were off their hinges, fences were in disrepair, some miserable cattle that had been punched through a dip. were lowing hungrily in a bare paddock, and others that bad avoided the inconvenience of the dip by tumbling through the flimsy yard, were consorting with the rest, and industriously ticking them up again, and “ hopelessness “ was written over all.
A pretentious house had been erected for the first manager, and suites of expensive furniture had been installed therein. Only a few places were left, and those badly damaged. The rest, I was informed, had mysteriously disappeared. No one seemed to know who had taken it. Thai any one might have paid for it was regarded as ludicrous.
The Daly River Farm is just as bad. Huge sums of money have been sunk there, and the paddocks are now reverting to a state of nature. Nothing is bred, nothing produced. A settler (Mr. E. V. V. Davis) has made the important discovery that growing ric6 and feeding it to pigs will pay well, and that there are thousands of acres regularly inundated by the river that are suitable for this; but the whole of the credit is due to his own enterprise. The so-called “ Demonstration “ farm has taught him nothing.
Mataranka Sheep Farm is a badly “ busted “ hope, which can never succeed under administrative direction. Oonpedli is but a silly farce in combination with a job that badly needs investigation.
– Who are managing these farms?
– They appear to be managing themselves under the present administration. There are men in charge of them, it is true, but there is no system, and they are allowed to go to rack and ruin, as I have said, without any attempt being made to stop the dry-rot that has set in in connexion with their management. I have other letters dealing with Batchelor Farm, but I shall not detain the Senate by reading them.
Dr. Gilruth has objected to what I had to say about the Botanical Gardens, and in this instance again I prefer to give local people an opportunity to confirm the statements I made. Referring to the Botanical Gardens, one correspondent writes -
The neglect of these gardens and the destruction wrought in them truly makes one feel bitter to Bee this beauty spot so misused. All that has been said in censure of the administration that has allowed this to be brought about is justified. To say, as Dr. Gilruth does, that “ not a single plant, valuable or otherwise, was labelled “ at the time of his’ appointment to the Territory is a falsehood, and what makes it -worse is that it is uttered after Mr. Holtze’s death. I personally walked in the gardens with Mr. Holtze before Dr. Gilruth’s arrival in the Northern Territory as Administrator, and watched the labelling of the plants and trees. I entered up a list of the botanic specimens with their scientific names at the time. The labels were of wood, and written in pencil, and Mr. Holtze remarked that with wet seasons such as were regular in the Northern Territory labelling .would take up the whole of one man’s time. He did what he could, but he knew that the work was not complete. Mr. Holtze proved the suitability of many tropical plants of economic value to the Territory, but his advice concerning their propagation was ignored. When he says that he was unaware that the bulk of the vegetables used in Darwin were at one time grown in the Botanical Gardens, Dr., Gilruth says what again is untrue. Yeadon, the gardener referred to, grew tons of vegetables, of splendid quality, and they were carted round the town and district in a Government cart, and sold at prices less than those ruling in the southern markets. Amongst other places they were taken in large quantities to Dr. Gilruth’s residence. Perhaps, if he were asked, he would say what he paid for them. Yeadon showed that the prices charged were too low, and asked that they should be raised. He was told he could have the gardens to grow vegetables at those losing rates, and of course refused the offer.
A certain Argentine immigrant is referred to in Dr. Gilruth’s reply to me, and the writer of the letter from which I am quoting has this to say of him - “ The Argentine immigrant “ referred to has had the use of 10 acres of the Botanical Gardens for the past year. Mark this: He has paid no rent; he has ‘had no lease; he has not grown any vegetables except a few for himself and some said to have been sent to officialdom; but he has taken horses in for agistment, and has sold water to men at Vestey’s, and that is all lie is doing at this present date. Up till now, 3i o lease nas been issued to him. Perhaps some explanation might be obtainable as to why such a state of things has been permitted for the past twelve months - 10 acres cut out of the Botanic Gardens, mind you. and handed over to a Patagonian without a lease: and a larger slice given to a milkman, and admitted: yet Dr. Gilruth denies that the gardens have been interfered with.
So much for the Botanical Gardens. I could quote references to them from other letters I have received since Dr. Gilruth’s reply to my speech came to hand, but I shall not trouble the Senate with any more on that matter.
In reply to my references to the aboriginal compound, Dr. Gilruth has said that it is quite incorrect to state that the houses at Myilly Point are “ separated from the business part of the town by a native compound.” Here, again, I shall let my local correspondents reply to Dr. Gilruth. I took the precaution of communicating with more than one gentleman in the Northern Territory on the subject, and I have a dozen letters here replying to the statements made by Dr. Gilruth. Dealing with my statement as to the location of the aboriginal compound, one writer says -
You are no.t correct (the mistake, however, is in your favour) in saying that the houses at Myilly Point are separated from the business part of the town by a native compound. But Myilly Point is about 1 mile distant from the town, and the native compound is in the centre of Myilly Point, with Government officials’ houses on three sides of it. Mr. Carey’s late residence is only a stonethrow from the compound. Dr. Gilruth’s statement is true that the compound borders the sea. So does Myilly Point, and the compound runs from the sea to Mitchell-street, which is one of the main streets leading from Darwin, and this street runs straight through Myilly Point. The Government officials’ houses being on either side of this street, and, as I said before, they are on three sides of the compound, namely, in front and on two sides of it. This proves what a cunning deluder this man is.
On that point another correspondent writes -
Facts are facts, and all the denials of Dr. Gilruth cannot alter the truth. When you said that the houses at Myilly Point were separated from the other houses by the Aboriginal Com- pound you stated what you had seen and knew, he Aboriginal Compound borders the sea, and it borders Myilly Point-road down as far as Lambell-terrace, and not another house can be erected on that area without putting it on either the Aboriginal Compound or on the space known and gazetted as an “ accommodation paddock.” The houses at Myilly Point are separated from the business part of the town by a native compound. Beckett’s house, on Myilly Point, is the nearest to the town, and is separated from the Compound by a wire fence, as you know, for you have been in it. The very father of ‘lies must be using his best influence in this matter. You urge the removal of the compound - urge it again, and keep on urging it. Papers sent to you show that the Compound is full of venereal disease. Yes, and it is full also of ringworm, dysentery, fever, scabby dogs, pestilential odours, and horrible noises. It joins residential areas on both sides, and is a menace to public health, in spite of the fact that the Health Department will be instructed to deny it. When the Compound was laid out there, the place was a wild scrub, where no one went. Dr. Gilruth surrounded it with houses, and destroyed its original purpose. It is now a “ poppyshow “ for distinguished visitors, who are allowed to see “ how nice it is.” The touching last paragraph about the little children associating with their parents after school would be very nice, if it were true, but it is not. Only one or two of the children at the school have any parents that are known. The trouble is that the little half-caste children go out of school influence to the influence of the Aboriginal Camp, where the white teacher’s work is completely undone. There are other reasons why these little halfcaste girls should not remain about Darwin. The solution of the difficulty is simple. Give them to the missionaries, as suggested. The missionaries will welcome them, and it will be better for the children, and cheaper for the Government. The rest of the inhabitants of the Compound can be removed to the very place the Administrator jestingly refers to - the other side of the bay. Good hunting grounds are available to them there. Not one native who is not in regular employment should be allowed in Darwin, and the women particularly should be kept out.
That letter was written by a man who knew something of what he was writing about. I could go on quoting other statements regarding this very compound which Dr. Gilruth said I did not even appear to know. I was in the compound half-a-dozen times. I walked past the compound, and drove past it almost a score of times. It was ridiculous in the extreme for a man to say that I gave the wrong location of the compound when I knew its situation just as well as Dr. Gilruth does.
He also referred to the Darwin Hospital, but I am not going to waste any time by dealing with that subject. There is one important matter which I want to deal with now, and that is the question of the Health Inspector. The Administrator has furnished a long reply from the Health Inspector, Mr. Kelly, with regard to my statements as to public health. I propose to allow a local correspondent who knows something about this matter, to reply to the report of Inspector Kelly, which was telegraphed .from Port Darwin to the Administrator in Melbourne. My correspondent wrote as follows : -
Re Health Inspector Kelly, his report is one huge concoction. He states that the contract previously carried out by a Chinese contractor was totally inefficient and unsatisfactory. The position was that the Chinese contractor’s hours of service were strictly limited, he being allowed only to work the service between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 a.m. He had to be out of town by 6 a.m. Now Milne comes into town, and goes out when he likes, with the very same sanitary vehicle as the Chinaman had. He is working the service early at night and during the day, possibly because he has not sufficient labour, or because he is too big a sweater to put on more labour or more efficient workmen. His labour is mostly Chinese and Kanakas (the latter late of Queensland), and they cannot stand him long. They are always leaving him. The half-castes, I believe, will not work for him. His very “ latest “ was a collision between hig sanitary cart and a motor car at the picture show corner at 8 p.niL on Saturday night -
Here Is an administration which allows the sanitary cart to be on the principal street at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night -
It will give you an idea of the hours which this man is working his sanitary service.
Although this telegram was stated by the Administrator to have been sent down at his request, I have here a letter from a gentleman who is prepared to take an affidavit that Mr. Kelly told him that he never sent the telegram, and knows nothing whatever about it.
I do not. desire to take up much more of the time of the Senate. I would have liked very much to go into the question of the administration of the hotels, because, so far, there has been no improvement in their condition or their management since I was at Port Darwin. Dr. Gilruth wound up his reply to my speech by saying that he had dealt with the various criticisms I had levelled against the administration of the Territory. I hope that I have furnished the Administrator with some excuse for dealing further with my criticisms. Unless something is done to relieve the Territory; unless something is done to afford to the mcn and women there, who are taxpayers and citizens of this country, some voice in the local government, I shall certainly have more to say in the near future. I hope that Ministers will compare what I have said to-day with what I said originally, and also compare what Dr. Gilruth has said with what I have said to-day. And if they do they will find out that such an unsatisfactory, state of affairs is obtaining in the Territory that no selfrespecting Government can allow it to continue. Something will have to bo done, whether it be by the appointment of a Royal Commission or by any other means. I shall give the Government an opportunity to do something which will be practical and effective, and unless it is done I shall use every means at my disposal here to obtain for the persons whose grievances I have been ventilating a fair hearing and a square deal..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
Senate adjourned at 6.29 p.m.’
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 July 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1917/19170718_SENATE_7_82/>.