7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator, the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
- (By leave.)- I do not often bother explaining, but there is a small paragraph in the Argus of today which so misrepresents what I said yesterday that I feel that in justice to myself I ought to put side by side the Hansard . report of what I said with that appearing in the columns of the Argus. I am thus reported by the Argus -
Senator Gardiner said that a manifesto in connexion . with the Flinders by-election had been issued over the name of “ Arch. Stewart.” It stated that the Australian Labour party stood for peace by negotiation. He (Senator Gardiner) wished emphatically and firmly to repudiatethat the Labour party stood for an immediate peace. Mr. Arch. Stewart had no right to commit the party. So far as the Australian Labour party was concerned it was in the fight to a finish.
The Hansard unrevised report of my remarks is as follows : -
A manifesto has been issued for the Flinders electorate over the signature of Arch. Stewart, secretary of the Australian Labour party, Trades Hall, Melbourne. … I wish to take a portion of that statement, which, if torn from the contest and read by itself, might put the movement of which I am a member, in a very false position. It is this -
The Labour party stands for the immediate cessation of fighting.
I want emphatically and firmly to repudiate that. So far as the peace policy of the Labour party is concerned, Mr. Arch. Stewart has no more Tight to publish what is Labour’s peace’ policy than I or any other member of the community. I say emphatically that, so far as the Australian Labour party are concerned, we are in this fight to a finish.
I stand absolutely by that statement, which reads altogether differently from the remarks attributed to me by the Argus. I wish the two reports to appear in Hansard side by side.
– Some time ago I asked some questions of the Minister representing the Prime Minister concerning the delay in tho appointment of the Public Service Commissioner. I should like to know whether the Minister is yet in a position to answer them?
– An interim reply was given to the honorable senator’s questions on the 11th ultimo. He asked -
The replies now supplied are -
South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. Secretary. Registrar. Senior Clerk.
– I aak the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy whether he has yet received any reply concerning the investigation which I understand was to be made in connexion with an incident that occurred at the Launceston wharf when certain church dignitaries were improperly refused admittance to the wharf.
– The answer is somewhat lengthy, being in the nature of a report, and I read it by permission of the Senate, as follows: -
Refusal of Lieutenant Will, 6th Military district, topermitromancatholic dignitaries on the wharf on the departure of the Apostolic Delegate.
Re the refusal to admit Archbishop Delaney and Monsignor Beechinor to the wharf at Launceston on the occasion of the departure of the Apostolic Delegate. This matter has been fully investigated, and the following facts elicited:- On 17th April, Father McNally called at the Naval Office, Launceston, and asked for a pass for a party to go on the’ wharf to say farewell to the Apostolic Delegate. As he was unable to specify the exact number, the pass was made out for “ party.” Father McNally, with three other priests, went to the wharf in advance of the remainder of the party, and were admitted on the pass. He, however, did not make clear to the sentry that more of the party mentioned on the pass were still to come. After an interval, the Apostolic Delegate and the remainder of the party arrived. Those who were in possession of steamer tickets were admitted at once, but the remainder, not being able to produce a pass, were naturally refused admittance. The orders in regard to allowing people on wharfs are necessarily very strict, and the corporal in charge of the gate would naturally only admit one party on one pass, unless he received orders to the contrary. Otherwise, there would not be any limit to the number who would gain admission on one ticket. Also, there were a large number of people passing through thegate at the time, so that the noncommissioned officer in charge was busy checking the tickets and passes, and simply refused any one who had not a pass. Before Father McNally made representations to Lieutenant Will that Archbishop Delaney and Monsignor Beechmor should be admitted on his pass, they had driven away, so that the officer in charge had no opportunity of instructing the noncommissioned officer in charge of the gate to admit them. During this happening, Lieutenant Will was at the ship’s gangway, and not at or near the gate. Owing to the train with passengers, contrary to the usual practice, having run past the barrier, it was necessary for Lieutenant Will to send his sergeant to Bee that every person on the wharf was in possession of a pass. Those who were not were taken off the wharf. It is this, apparently, which gave rise to the claim that other people were admitted to the wharf without passes. In regard to the allegation that Lieutenant Will was overbearing in his manner and discourteous, the evidence of six independent witnesses shows that this is incorrect.
The following papers were presented : -
Conference convened by His Excellency the Governor-General on the subject of scouring Reinforcements under the voluntary system for the Australian Imperial Force, held at Melbourne, April, 1918 : Report ‘of Proceedings.
Commercial or other Boards, Pools, Committees, or other organizations under Government control: Return..
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Russell) read a first time.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer any information to give the Senate in reply to questions I asked on the subject of the circulation of dirty and torn Australian notes ?
– The answer supplied by the Treasurer to. the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Every effort is made by the Treasury to keep the circulation clean; in fact, the ma- jority of notes withdrawn from circulation are really fit for further circulation. The number of Australian notes withdrawn from circulation and destroyed averages, at least, 800,000 per month.
No dirty notes are re-issued by the Commonwealth Bank, which acts as the agent of the Treasury, and it is doubtful whether, except in rare cases, notes unfit for re-issue are issued by any other bank.
It may be stated that, in response to a request from this Department, all the banks have expressed their willingness to co-operate in withdrawing dirty notes from circulation, and, in order that the banks shall not be at any expense, the Treasury refunds to them the whole of the postage paid in sending the notes from one place to another.
It seems impossible to prevent a certain percentage of notes becoming dirty before they are returned to banks, where they can be withdrawn. It is known that, particularly in sparsely populated districts, notes pass from hand to hand, perhaps, hundreds of times, before the opportunity occurs for them to be returned to a bank.
The keeping of the circulation clean is, to a great extent, in the hands of the public. Very few persons use wallets suitable for carrying notes, and many persons are very careless in the handling of them, and in allowing them to become soiled. The publicshould certainly understand that banks should not tender notes which are unduly soiled.
Soldiers’ Parcels : Enlistments
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Of this number how many are -
-The particulars asked for will take some time to prepare, but as soon as the information is received from the several districtsthe honorable senator will be informed.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
It is understood that the above questions refer to wardsmaids, as nurses are not rationed. 1 and 2. Wardsmaids receive same rations as for orderlies. Ration scale provides for i lb. butter weekly, but no milk. District Commandant, however, has power to substitute any article of ration authorized, provided total cost of ration is not exceeded.
-The rule quoted above operates throughout Australia.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What is the number of foremen employed in Geelong Woollen Mills, their names, and their rates of pay?
– The answer is-
Eight - A. Foster, G. W. Capstick, A. Bowie, J. W. Rutherford, F. Keighley, £276 per annum; F. Eskey,J. W. Haigh, £252 per annum; A. Buchanan, £204 per annum.
Motion (bySenator de Largie) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Lynch on account of urgent private business.
– I had given notices of motion -
That Statutory Rule No. 304 of 1917 (regulation under the War Precautions Act 1914-18), bc disallowed.
That Statutory Rule No. 306 of 1917 (regulation under the War Precautions Act 1914-16), be disallowed.
That Statutory Rule No. 308 of 1917 (regulation under the War Precautions Act 1914-16), be disallowed.
In view of the statement of Senator Pearce yesterday with respect to arrangements made as the outcome of the recent Conference, and following an announcement in another place, I withdraw those notices of motion.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Regarding the measure itself, I do not deem it necessary to detain the House at any length. It is a Bill the provisions of which largely alter or supplement the machinery clauses of the principal enactment. In Committee, I shall deal with those clauses as they arehere presented; but at this juncture it will only be necessary to point to what I regard as the one clause dealing with a matter of policy. That is clause 8, the effect of which will be to enlarge the list of beneficiaries - those eligible to obtain the benefits of the Act. Principally they relate to children and widows. This new policy will, I feel sure, command the approval, not only of the Chamber, but of the people generally.
I pass thus hurriedly from the Bill itself, so that I may take the opportunity of presenting a somewhat comprehensive statement as to the work already effected under the main Act, and concerning the activities which have been inaugurated on behalf of returned soldiers. In doing so, I desire to make, as my justification, the point that if I can place before the House a reasonably clear view of what is now in operation, honorable senators will better understand the purpose and effect of the amendment now submitted.
The Task. There has been complaint and criticism regarding the delay in inaugurating the system just launched. I offer much regret, hut no apology, for the delay. I regret it as much as any one; but I invite honorablesenators to consider the position in which those intrusted with the inauguration of the new scheme were placed. It is a commonplace to refer to repatriation as a big and vexed problem. It is all that, but, in addition, it is an illdefined problem. There was no definition given of what is meant by repatriation. It implied that we should do a fair thing for the returned soldier. But there were no clear instructions; nor were they possible. Therefore, those intrusted with the problem - which is not one, indeed, but many problems - had to find their way ratherthan be in the position of following given directions. In addition, there were no experts available to deal with the problem. There is no one even now who would claim to be an expert. Ordinarily, when a Minister in charge of a Department takes up the responsibility of some new undertaking, he can call to his aid trained officers who, in view of their past experience, are able to help him. In this instance, there was no Department available to be drawn upon, uo staff, and no experts. We were much in the situation of an amateur crew setting out upon an uncharted sea, seeking an unknown destination; and, while I regret the delay, I invite both members of the Senate and the public to consider that there was some reason and justification for the time occupied.
I have set before myself from the conception of the undertaking the firm conviction that it was better to secure a sound and safe start than to make an illconsidered beginning. I would sooner set out with the vessel well equipped, fully found in all respects, and able to weather a storm, than by hurriedly launching the craft, run the risk that she might go to pieces on the first approach of a storm. Experience will prove whether the time taken was well spent, and I ask that the work accomplished shall be judged, not in the light of natural impatience, but of the events of the next few months.
Useful Conference. I repeat that we had noexperts to guide us; but there is this to be said, that very early in the proceedings I endeavoured to obtain the advice of men competent to assist in certain sections of the work. For example, a conference was called to secure advice as to the treatment and education of the blind, and in respect to the vocational training of those soldiers whose injuries were of such a nature that they could not follow their previous avocations. Then there was a conference with representatives of industrial organizations, and also with gentlemen representing the employing interests. It would be almost impossible to hope for success in the re-establishment of many men in civil life unless some satisfactory understanding was first reached with those speaking for the unions, and unless the co-operation of the employers was also secured. Then, another conference was held, the beneficial results of which are nowbeginning to be realized. That was aconference associated with the Forestry Departments, certain States then agreeing upon what will undoubtedly be regarded as a very hopeful proposal for national development, namely, forestry.
The Work of the Staff. Before proceeding further, may I just say a word in recognition of the undoubtedly loyal and strenuous work of the staff which, has so far been created. I should be lacking in a recognition of their efforts if I did not refer to them now, for night after night, and week after week, these gentlemen have been sitting down with me until 10 o’clock, and that not merely upon six days of the week. If honorable senators will look through the regulations, consider the amount of thought which must have been bestowed upon them, study the general orders which constitute the directions for the working of the new Department, and which it was necessary to place in the hands of officers in distant States, they will see that the scheme was not to be dealt with satisfactorily except with a very great deal of effort, which occupied a considerable amount of time.
Assistance already Rendered. While this has been going on, the soldier, though he has not been quite satisfactorily handled, has not been altogether neglected. I do not overlook the fact that much hardship has resulted in individual cases, and that Australia has been wanting in its duty to the men who have returned to us. Of course, it is easy to be wise after the event. At the same time it is only right to point out what has been done on behalf of the troops who have returned to Australia. Up to the end of last year, 50,609 men had returned, more than 40,000 of whom have been discharged. Of the latter number 26,500 have received help from one organization or another throughout Australia. In other words, twenty-six out of every forty men have been assisted.
– What does the Minister mean by “ one organization or another “ ?
– I mean that assistance has been granted by the trustees under the old Act - who carried out the larger portion of this work - or by similar bodies. These men have been assisted by one or other of our organizations. The most official of these organizations is undoubtedly the Board of Trustees, of which Senator Long was a member - the Board which was created under our first Repatriation Act. Under the direction of that body, £328,000 has been expended in various ways for the benefit of our returned soldiers. From patriotic funds between £800,000 and £1,000,000 has been similarly expended. I am not able to give the precise figures to date, but the amount disbursed by these bodies is certainly not less than £800,000, and, as far as I am able to see, is in the neighbourhood of £1,000,000. There has also been a considerable expenditure, of which we have no record, from local funds. First of all, there was the fund with which Mr. Rodgers was associated. Very material benefits have been conferred through that organization. The State3 also, acting generally through the State War Councils, have been under considerable expense in helping to restore the returned soldier to a satisfactory plaice in the civil edifice. I mention these things because I do not think it would be a complete presentation of the case, if; having admitted our remissness in this matter, I did not also point out that a great deal has been done to meet, even in an imperfect fashion, the obligation which Australia owes to its returned men.
Inaugurating the New Scheme. Our Repatriation Act came into operation on the 8th of last month, and from that day the Department took over from the State War Councils the functions hitherto discharged by those bodies in respect to repatriation. Of course, those bodies still exist; but, so far as repatriation is concerned, they have no longer any connexion with it. Just here, I should like to direct attention to what may be regarded as a very satisfactory development which has occurred in the Dominion of Canada. A great deal has been said here by thoughtless writers, and by equally thoughtless speakers, as to how far Australia lags behind the repatriation efforts of other countries. In introducing the principal measure last year, I stated that Australia was the first country which had presented a scheme for repatriation, complete and comprehensive, in that it made provision for every returning soldier.I repeat that statement now. There is no scheme in any other country which provides for that. Canada set out by appointing a Commission, just as we appointed a Board of Trustees. But that country has been driven to take the same step as we took, namely, to create a Public Department dealing with repatriation. The Dominion, however, did not do that until some months after we had done it. Only ten weeks ago did Canada decide to take the step which we took several months ago. I have noticed, however, a difference between the Department which has been established there and that which has been established here. Here it is thought sufficient to intrust that Department to the control of one Minister. The Canadians have deemed it necessary to appoint two Ministers, and to pay both of them. I do not know whether or not to regard that circumstance as a compliment to myself, but it is certainly worth remembering when criticism is directed against the multiplication of Ministerial offices here. I find still another source of satisfaction in the action which has been taken by Canada. In introducing the original Repatriation Bill in this Chamber, I pointed out that it was necessary to fix a line of demarcation between the activities of the Defence Department and those of the Repatriation Department, and that hitherto there had been too great vagueness as to which Department was to deal with the returned soldier. The principal Act places that line of demarcation at the point of the soldier’s discharge. Until then he is the charge of the Defence Department. After endeavouring to work for some months with what I may call a dovetailed system, the Canadians have finally followed Australia’s lead, and have decided to separate the two functions in the way I have described. They have accepted the point of discharge as the line of demarcation between the two Departments. I mention this circumstance to show that, in taking the step which we did, we acted upon sound lines.
The Controlling Machinery. The machinery of the new Department - as honorable senators will remember - comprises a Central Commission, of which the Minister is chairman, State Boards, and Local Committees, in addition to the ordinary official staff. That Commission and the State Boards have already been appointed. On the Commission are the Minister, who is its chairman, two returned soldiers - Colonel Owen and Mr. Morehead, both men who have seen active service, with Gallipoli records - Mr. Grayndler, secretary of the Australian Workers Union, who, I think, without challenge, may be accepted as representative of the industrial life of this country; together with Mr. Gibson, Mr. Sanderson, and Sir Langdon Bonython, who may fairly claim to bring to the Board commercial and business knowledge, and, especially in the case of Sir Langdon Bonython, some political knowledge also, which is not without its advantages.
The State Boards have been composed much in the same way, with four business men, two returned soldiers, and one representative of organized labour on them. ‘ Those Boards have all been created, and are now at work.
The Local Committees are not so far advanced, but every day is adding to the number of those which are being created ; and I have no hesitation in saying that, except in this State, it will not be long before those Committees are satisfactorily at work. I except Victoria for the reason that some little difficulty has arisen, owing to the fact that, some time ago, the State Legislature, in passing a Land Bill for placing returned soldiers on the land, included a provision by which they accepted the shire councils as Committes under the Act. They were Committees for the purpose of advising the Minister regarding the acquisition of land in their respective districts, and generally looking after the interests of the soldier-settler who might be located within their area. They had no authority, and no power, to deal with many other aspects of repatriation; but as they were known locally as Repatriation Committees, considerable confusion has arisen in Victoria as to whether, they being in existence, any other Committees were needed. I see some possibility of confusion if, under this Act, we create other Local Repatriation Committees; and I am conferring with Mr. Clarke, the Minister of Lands in Victoria, to see if it is possible, by a little give-and-take, either to include his Committees in our own or to arrive at such a working understanding as will prevent the existence of two Committees in any one district. I hope to arrive at a satisfactory understanding on that point, but the circumstances indicated account for the delay in getting these Committees formed in this State.-
The Staff. Every effort has been made to create the staff from returned soldiers. To some extent, that represented a little handicap on the Department in its early days. I have no doubt the returned soldiers contain in their ranks men competent for almost any undertaking, as they are ordinary citizens like ourselves; but it is not always possible to put your hand on the exact man you want for a particular job. I am, however, glad to be able to inform the Senate that of the appointments so far made at least 90 per cent, are from the ranks of the returned soldiers.
– There ought to be 100 per cent.
– It is easy to make a statement of that kind; but I will ask even the returned soldiers themselves to say whether it is not necessary, for a time, at any rate, to obtain the advantage of the experience and trained knowledge of one or two of our older public servants? I am satisfied to take the judgment of the Senate and the country on the question whether, in creating a new Department, it was not necessary to get one or two thoroughly experienced gentlemen, such as Mr. Lockyer an<r other officials, who have come over temporarily, to help us. They are only there till we start the new scheme, and will then go back to the Departments from which they were borrowed. It will then be possible to find men from the returned soldiers to take their places.
– The percentage is very creditable.
– I do not think I am open to criticism on the point, when 90 per cent, of the staff already are returned’ soldiers, with the certainty that the percentage will approximate more nearly to 100 per cent, in a few months’ time.
-Colonel Bolton. - How were the appointments made from the returned soldiers?
– They were made by. myself, upon such inquiries as we could make, on the recommendation of the senior officers of the Department.
-Colonel Bolton. - Were applications invited?
– No; there was no need. Not only were there hundreds of applications in the office, but 50 per cent, of the members of Parliament have seen that I did not lack applications.
– Of course, that will not apply to this side.
– I do not want, in a non-party matter of this kind, to throw in the apple of discord, but honorable members generally have extended me the benefit of their advice in the recommendations which they’ made.
The Definite Objective. I come to the scheme itself. It was clear that the Commission had to place before themselves some definite objective, some ideal towards which they would endeavour to proceed. They came to the conclusion that, although it was difficult to express it in words, their object should be not the mere conferring” of money or other gifts on a soldier for services rendered, but that repatriation implied an effort on the part of the nation, speaking through its Department, to aim at, and as far as possible secure, the satisfactory re-establishment in civil life of the returned soldier. That carries with it also the obligation that where men return maimed or wounded, in order to secure their satisfactory re-establishment in civil life, everything possible should be done to secure their return to health, or to make good the physical defects from which they were suffering.
The Minimum Obligation. Proceeding on those lines, it became necessary to lay down in some measure a basic principle; to set out the obligation which the Department accepted as regards the soldier himself, and it was decided that what I regard as our minimum obligation should be expressed in these terms -
That the Department accept as the minimum obligation the responsibility of providing the returned soldier with an opportunity of earning at least a living wage, and that until such opportunity is forthcoming sustenance be granted.
I hope that is clear, because it is the very foundation stone of the whole system.
– Does that apply only to the single soldier?
– It applies to married and single, the hale, the sick, the wounded, and the incapacitated, al- 1 though, of course, at varying rates. I hope, that principle, leaving out details as to the rates of sustenance, will command the sympathy of Australia generally.. The sustenance allowance will be available under varying conditions to the hale awaiting employment, to the sick pending their restoration to health, to the injured whilst they are being vocationally trained or nursed back to health ; to those who may be awaiting artificial limbs, or other surgical appliances; and also to any soldiers who, requiring later medical treatment, need to travel for the purpose of obtaining it. All these will be periods of enforced idleness, obviously due to the action of the men in volunteering to fight for their country, and the Commission have taken the view, indorsed by the Government, that the obligation in that regard should be shouldered by the Government.
Conditions of Sustenance. There are certain conditions attached to sustenance. The first is that any man able to work, before he can obtain sustenance, must register for employment. He cannot apply for sustenance; he applies for employment. If the Department is not then in a position to find suitable work for him, it grants sustenance, but on the condition that when suitable work is forthcoming, he must accept it, or give a reasonable excuse for not doing so. If he declines suitable work found for him without reasonable excuse, he drops off the sustenance roll.
– Who is to be the judge of what is suitable work?
– The State Board. In a case where a man has refused work the deputy has the right, if he thinks it right, to restore him to the roll. A certain proportion of these legitimate claims will probably be referred to the State Boards; and if a man is dissatisfied with the decision of the State Boards, he may appeal to the Commission in Melbourne. In that way, every precauton will be taken to see that the Act will not be administered in an arbitrary manner, but that every man will receive fair consideration. This relates to the men who are being furnished with employment, and also to men who are being nursed back to health or, having ibeen injured, require vocational training to fit them for some other occupation than that in which they were engaged ibefore they went to the war. Sustenance will be paid to them, but they must avail themselves of the facilities for training provided, in order to help them back to civil occupations. It would be idle, for instance, to make this sustenance available to a man suffering from a tubercular trouble if he declined to submit himself to medical treatment. And so we propose that, while sustenance will be available to these men, they will foe required to avail themselves of medical facilities provided for them. I trust, however, that no one will form the idea that any restrictions imposed will be applied in any arbitrary manner. This, of course, will be determined by the sympathetic, or non-sympathetic, administration, which proceeds from head-quarters itself, and over which Parliament has complete control. The policy will be to deal with these men as generously and as sympathetically as possible, and whenever it may be necessary to take any action, it will be in, the interests of the soldier himself.
Sustenance Rates. With regard to the rates of sustenance, these have been fixed as equitably as possible. For a soldier without dependants, the weekly sustenance allowance will represent an income of £2 2s. ; for a soldier with a wife, the weekly income combined will be £2 12 s. ; for a soldier with a wife and one child, £2 15s.; and thereafter there will be an additional 3s. 6d. per week for each child up to four; so that a soldier with a wife and four children will be insured a weekly income of £3 6s.
-Why stop at four children?
– Because we deemed it advisable to stop at an amount a little in excess of the living wage.
– But if a soldier has five children, what will his position be?
– I say quite candidly that if the Senate wants the schedule raised, it can say so ; but I would pointout again to honorable senators that the rates laid down are, after all, not wages for work done, but sustenance allowances fixed for men whilst they are waiting for work.
– Yes; but why stop at four children? There are plenty of men with larger families than that.
– Because we decided to stopat what is a little in excess of the living wage, and we say that, having done that, we have not unfairly discharged our obligation. Let me put this position to Senator Guthrie: Suppose we multiplied the sustenance allowance, and brought the amount up to £4 or £5 per week.
– That is not what I meant. I only asked why there should be no payment for additional children above four.
– Then suppose we fixed the amount of sustenance at £3 10s. per week, and the wages of an artisan have been fixed by the Courts at £3 3s. a week. Suppose we then asked a man to accept employment at the ruling rate, when by declining to take it he received a sustenance allowance of £3 10s., what would happen? Human nature is much the same everywhere, and I think I know what Senator Guthrie would say if I asked him which he would prefer - a job at. £3 3’s. a week or a sustenance allowance of £3 10s. a week without liaving to work.
– But if a man had eight children instead of four, what would be his position under the scheme now proposed ?
– Well that, of course, would be his responsibility; and I point out once more that this is not. a paternity bonus, but a sustenance allowance to be paid to men waiting for- employment, so that they may re-enter civil life. It is very easy to talk about enlarged allowances, and so on. I have nodoubt that I couid do something in that direction myself. One might court a period of brilliant, but brief, popularity by handling the problem in that way, but what would be the result of any effort to get a number of these men back to work if their sustenance allowance were fixed at a rate higher than the ruling wage for their particular trades ? We Lave fixed the rates at what I think are fair and reasonable, though I do not, of course, pretend that they are at all commensurate with the services these men have rendered their country. ‘
Registration. I desire now to explain the machinery which has been devised for handling the applications which will come to us from time to time. Hitherto one of the great difficulties encountered in the registration of these men has been the fact that our first intimation of a man’s return has been received when he presented himself at the office with an application. Obviously that placed the Department - and prior to the creation of the Department the State War Councils - under a heavy handicap. When introducing the main Bill, -I indicated that a strong effort would be made to secure registration before returning soldiers left England, so that we could obtain, a mail or two in advance of their return to Australia, some idea of the men who would ‘ be coming home, their condition, resources, capacity, and their wishes. I have not»been able to get as far as that jet, but have .been able to take one step towards that object, with the result that, as the men embark on transports in England to return to Australia, an officer of the Defenjce Department is detailed for the purpose of taking a census or registration of the men on board that ship. This is done with the permission of my colleague, the Minister for Defence. The officer having completed his census, or list of applications, upon arrival at Fremantle, posts the applications on to Melbourne by train, and as the men take a longer period to reach their home ports, and possibly do not receive their discharge for some weeks later, we do get a few weeks’ notice of the paavticular class of men -who will be calling upon the Department for help. This is only a half-way house towards the goal at which I am aiming, which is even an earlier registration, in order that the Department may be in a position to handle the applications efficiently. Within the last week or two we have received our first ad- ^ vices from Fremantle.
– Does the Minister mean to say that the officer travels from England to Fremantle?
– No. The officer “who is intrusted with this duty is “one who is returning with the men. We do’ not send a special officer to England for that purpose. I have already mentioned that this has been done by arrangement with the Minister for Defence, one of the officers of that Department being detailed to do1 what is required.
The Departmental Procedure. It will be convenient, perhaps, if I indicate that the nien who return to Australia may be grouped into two main classes - the hale and the incapacitated. The former class includes those who are unfit for further military service, but who, ^although injured, have so benefited by the voyage that when they land, or possibly a few weeks after, are fit for some employment. Bearing in mind the problem as a whole, we have arrived at the conclusion with regard to these men that the best we can do is to endeavour to place every man in the position for which : his previous experience has fitted him, so that, where possible, he may pick up the threads of civil life where he dropped them.
Employment. The difficulty with by far the larger proportion of the men will be to find employment for them, and to meet this difficulty we have created a labour branch, to which will be attached officers whose business it will be to canvass the various employing firms throughout the cities in which they are stationed. ‘ They will become agents looking out for openings, and will carry on all the work associated with the ordinary private ‘labour agency, but, I hope, with a little more credit to us as responsible for the business, and also with greater satisfaction to the men who may obtain employment by these means.
The Local Committees to which I have referred will have imposed upon them, as one of their obligations, the duty of advising, us as to returned soldiers in their district wanting work, and as to vacancies requiring men to fill them. In addition to this, there is in New South Wales - and I do not know whether similar institutions do not exist in some of the other States - certain State labour bureaux. I have arranged with the New Pouth Wales Government that these bureaux shall cooperate with us by the interchange of the information they collect. By these means I hope to spread, throughout, Australia labour bureaux for the benefit of returned” soldiers.
– There is a Government Labour Bureau in Queensland.
– I was not aware of that, and I shall be glad to communicate with the Queensland authorities on the subject. I have no doubt that the Queensland Government will Teadily respond to our appeals in this connexion. Senator Guthrie laughs, but I think that even Mr. Ryan’s Government may be trusted to do so.
– Why “ even “ Mr. Ryan’s Government?
– Because the laugh by my friend, Senator Guthrie, suggested a possibility that the relations between this Government and Mr. Ryan’s Government might not be as friendly as could be wished.
– Mr. Ryan’s Government have done a very great deal for the returned soldiers.
– I am aware that they have, and if Senator Gardiner, or any one else, is disposed to attach any serious import to an entirely casual remark of mine, let Bae withdraw it.
– I did not wish to interfere, but I know that Mr. Ryan’s Government have put returned men on farms, have, put their farms in order for them, and have done a great deal.
– Let ‘me withdraw a remark which was casual and frivolous.
– Senator Guthrie should withdraw his laugh.
– It was the honorable senator’s laugh which led me astray.
Employers’ Promises. Honorable senators will recollect that many of the men, when they went away, carried with them promises from their employers that they would be reinstated in their employment upon their return. Some demand has been made that by legislation we should compel employers to honour those promises. I regard it as quite impossible to do that. There is in most cases no evidence of the promise, which was’ not registered at the time it was made. If we passed a law providing that an employer, having given such a promise, should be bound by it, it is quite clear that only those would be bound who would be prepared to honcmr their promise without any law. The employer anxious to honour such a promise does not require a law to compel him to do so, whilst the man who does not intend to honour it will challenge us to prove that he had ever made such a promise, and then it would be but one man’s word against another’s. What I have done in this connexion has been to communicate with the employers’ organizations here and in Sydney, and I am glad to be able to say with the happiest results. They are sending out circularletters to all the members of their organizations, inviting them to register with the Repatriation Department the promises they made to previous employees, and to express their intention to reinstate the men on their return. That is as far as we can go in this direction. In order that there shall be no missing link in the chain, the moment the soldier returns the State office will communicate with his former employer telling him that So-and-so has returned, stating his condition, and asking whether the employer can reinstate him. If the man is not fit to go back to his ‘former occupation, the employer will be invited to say whether he will take another returned soldier who is fit in his place. It is too early to apeak generally; but in view of the criticism aroused) byl the action of, I think, very few employers, I should like to say that the response made to the efforts of the Repatriation Department in this direction is all that could be desired.
Broken Indentures. There is another class of men who may not require to pass through a convalescent period. I refer to apprentices, whose indentures when they left for the Front were only partially completed. When they return they will not be qualified to take the place of journeymen in the trade to which they have been apprenticed. They should not be prejudiced on that account by any loss which would accrue to them if they returned to their work at an apprentice’s wages. The Department proposes to do one of two things with these men. It will find some employer who is willing to complete the indentures, or it will place them in technical schools to enable them to acquire the necessary knowledge, and will, in the meantime, pay them the wages of a journeyman in the trade to which they were apprenticed.
Minor Benefits. There are quite a number of .men for whom minor benefits are to be provided which I do not propose to refer to in detail. It will be sufficient to indicate the nature of these benefits to the Senate. For instance, a mechanic may require a kit of tools, and provision will be made to meet such needs, and many others of a similar character.
– Does all this apply to the naval man as well as to the soldier ?
– Undoubtedly. Wherever I have used the word “soldier” it is to be understood, as provided by the Act, that the reference covers the sailor also.
-Colonel Bolton. - Will these benefits apply also to an Australian soldier enlisting in any other British Dominion ?
– Yes. In the original Act we made provision for an Australian who enlisted in other than Australian units.
– Say he enlisted in New Zealand or in . Canada ?
– I am a little doubtful now whether this was done completely under the original Act, or whether it is not covered by an amendment included in this Bill. But the Government’s proposition is that our legislation should cover, not merely an Australian who enlists here, but a oona fide Australian, whose domicile was Australia and who enlisted in any portion of the British Army, and in any of the British. Dominions. This, for instance, has happened. An Australian has enlisted here and served a term in Gallipoli or in France, has taken his discharge in England, and, after a time, has re-enlisted in the British Army. Under the original Act, that man would not have been eligible for the benefits of our legislation, but a short amendment in this Bill will secure to him those benefits. The intention of the Government is that every resident of this country who has served in the British Army, fighting anywhere under the British flag, shall be eligible for the benefits of our repatriation scheme.
– Suppose an Australian sailor is in London and joins an Senator ship, will he be entitled to the benefits of the scheme?
– Yes, he will come under the scheme. I may say that it is uot the Australian sailors who enlist in England in that way who are troubling me half as much as the wives whom a number of our men have found on the other side of the world.
Reserve Employment. I have been dealing so far with the efforts made to secure employment for returned men. But honorable senators who know the conditions in Australia are aware that it is not possible always, and within a reasonable space of time, to find employment for men in the ordinary channels of industry. lt is, therefore, necessary to find some employment, which I cannot better designate than iby calling “ reserve employment.” We shall be’ bound to meet that need in several directions. Up to the present, I have not made the progress I should like to have done, but honorable senators who know anything of the difficulty of negotiations between two Governments will sympathize with me when I say that I am sorry we are not further ahead with the arrangements made in this direction.
Arrangements have been completed with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments for the employment of a number of returned men in forestry. The basis of the arrangement is, briefly, that the Commonwealth Government shall find the money by way of loan to the State Governments, with the exception of a percentage which they will make available as a gift. That percentage is not yet determined, but it will be made available by way of gift as representing the estimated inefficiency of men engaged upon this work. A State Government going in for forestry can hardly be expected to pay full wages to a man who is not capable of doing a full day’s work. The State Governments say, and quite rightly, that that deficiency should be a charge upon repatriation, and we accept that position. Whilst the necessary money will be found by Avay of loan to the State Governments, that percentage, which will be determined later in the light of experience, will be handed over by way of gift to make good the returned soldiers’ deficiency. For instance, if the full wage paid be 10s. per day, and the returned soldier employed can do no more than Ss. worth of work in the day owing to some little incapacity, the difference of 2s. will represent the measure of his inefficiency, and the Repatriation Department will make that good by a gift of the amount to the State Governments concerned. The State Governments of Kew South Wales and Victoria’ are starting now to create their forestry camps, and will provide the necessary huts and tents, and standard wages will be paid to the men employed. The Repatriation Department will meet the necessary travelling charges and facilities to enable the men to take up the employment. They will make provision for feed- ing the men, will provide a cook and necessary personal equipment. In New South Wales eighty returned soldiers are at present employed in this way, and in. Victoria, I think, there are forty, so employed. In the next few weeks I hopethat the number so employed in New South Wales will be 200, and that the number in Victoria will steadily expand to 300. These figures are quite small, and do not in any way. represent the capacity of forestry as a useful and healthyoccupation for returned men. We have all done a little talking about forestry as. a national asset, but hitherto, owing to the pressure of what appeared to be more urgent matters, the various Governmentsin Australia have never seriously tackled the problem. I feel satisfied that, under the arrangements made, the State Governments will find ample opportunity for expansion in this direction, if it be shown, in the light of this experiment, that returned soldiers are willing to undertake this work. It would obviously be futile for us to make arrangements with tlie State Governments to prepare camps for thousands of men to engage in the work of forestry if the returned soldiers are disinclined to take up that work. If the experiment now being made works out satisfactorily! and the returned men show a readiness to accept this kind of employment, it will not be a difficult matter to make employment available in this direction for quite a number of men.
I mentioned just now that I thought we should find very many channels of employment under the heading of reserve employment, and I shall welcome suggestions from’ honorable senators of work lending itself to this purpose. I do, however, stress that the work proposed! should be of a reproductive character. My mind revolts altogether from putting; returned soldiers to work of the character which a few years ago marked some of that found for the unemployed. I feel that if I were engaged in work of that kind, I should be as much humiliated as I would be by receiving a. charitable dole from the State, .or as if Iwere employed in merely shifting sand, or some .other useless work. Honorable senators will, therefore, recognise, in offering suggestions, that it is essential that what is proposed should be reproductive work.
The Incapacitated. I now turn to the less fortunate soldiers - those who return suffering from incapacity resulting from wounds or sickness. These may be roughly divided into five main classes, although there could be numerous sub-headings for each. First, there is the slightly incapacitated man, whose injuries are so’ light that, with a little training, he may be brought back to normal efficiency; dr -whose injuries, while preventing him from following his previous occupation, are no disability to his securing possession of new skill in some fresh branch. Such men, so far as the Department can possibly do so, will be found positions in the ordinary factories and workshops of the country. A difficulty arose, however, in the effort *o so place them. It would have been idle to attempt to proceed in that direction without first having arrived at a satisfactory undertaking with organized labour. Its co-operation had to be obtained. I invited a conference of representatives of the Trades Halls of the Commonwealth, and of the Chambers of Manufactures; and, associated with those deliberations, were gentlemen such as Mr. “Holmes, head of the Labour Department in New South Wales, and Mr. Murphy, from this State.
A Satisfactory Agreement. As an outcome, an agreement waa reached which represents a satisfactory working basis. In this connexion, I heartily acknowledge the spirit in which the representatives of the Trades Hall met around the table. There is a very strong and natural prejudice against the introduction of any tiling which recognises the system of the slow worker - anything which may tend to bring down the level of wages. We can all sympathize with that view.’ It would not have been unnatural if those representatives had approached the proposition a little prejudiced. However, with certain safeguards, for which they fairly stipulated, they arrived at an agreement which was adopted unanimously at the Conference. Its basis was that there should be created, first a district industrial tribunal, and then a State industrial tribunal. The latter was merely a’ court of appeal. The former was the active working body. The industrial committee consisted of an equal number of representatives of the unions and of the employers in the particular trade concerned. They have a voice in determining what men shall, be detailed for different industries. They will be called upon, when a man goes into a factory, to assess the value of his labour - such as it is at that stage - to his employer. That assessment will be periodical, as the man improves. The representatives of the unions stipulated, however, that there should be a certain ratio of the temporarily incapacitated soldiers to the number of men ordinarily employed. I think the Senate will appreciate the reasons which induced that stipulation. The Labour representatives pointed out that, unless some such working basis were arrived at, in. the case of certain trades - being more attractive than others - there would he a tendency to crowd into them, with a resultant possibility of producing more workmen than could be absorbed. Thus the ordinary employees would have to carry a heavier portion of the general responsibility. It was therefore decided that there should be a ratio established of one -in six of the- adult men ordinarily employed in the ‘factory concerned. It was agreed that that would prevent an overflow into any one particular trade, and would distribute the returned men among the various industries in as fair a proportion as possible, thus preventing the penalization of any one particular section.
– Can you give figures as to the number of returned men attached to the various trades?
– I cannot, because so many give definitions, in their cards, which do not exactly identify their occupations. We do not know where to place them, from the data supplied. Many describe themselves as labourers who may have been assistants, say, in” the dockyards, and it is a little difficult, therefore, to indicate to. what trades a statistician would allot them.
It is one of the difficulties of the whole problem that we are not able to determine what number of any particular class we have to handle and place. That applies equally to the incapacitated as well as to the able men. We are in the dark as to what the numbers will be. Under the agreement, this class of man -will be found employment, as I have indicated, in the ordinary factories.
– Have you considered the advisableness of creating co-operative bodies among the returned men in respective avocations?
– I have, but I am not hopeful of any large cooperative enterprise being undertaken by the returned soldiers. I see many difficulties in the way, hut am open to practical suggestions which will permit the reabsorption of the men in the ranks of industry. I have had several propositions submitted to me, but not one that Icould conscientiously adopt in the best interests of the soldiers themselves.
Those men who are passing into factories, being inefficient, will not be worth the standard wage which the employers are compelled to pay. We therefore propose that the Department shall pay the difference between the assessed wage, determined by the industrial committee, and the pay judicially fixed for. the industry in question.
I have referred to the unanimity of the conference that was held. The delegates undertook to recommend the adoption of the agreement by their respective Trades Halls. This State has accepted it in globo, and has taken steps to give effect to it. In New South Wales an amendment, which is not of an important character, was put forward : but, pending the discussion of the point, those concerned have taken steps to appoint their representatives to the committees. The other States have either asked for explanations, or have submitted amendments for consideration, and are not showing antagonism to the general scope of the agreement. That, however, is with one exception. The only State which turned it down, and flatly, was South Australia. I cannot understand that action on the part of a body which, I am sure, must have the interests of the soldiers at heart. I cannot help thinking, therefore, that there must be some misapprehension in South Australia. Those concerned have acted, I hope, without clearly seeing what it was we were aiming at. I invite the cooperation of senators representing that State, in order that the matter may be reconsidered ; and I am quite willing, if it would help, to goover to Adelaide and discuss the whole business in detail with the Trades Hall authorities. It would be a thousand pities if in this matter one State should be unable to fall into line.
Technical Classes. I have dealt with the men who have been slightly incapacitated. I now pass to a class of returned soldiers suffering from more serious incapacity - who have been so seriously injured, in fact, that they cannot immediately, and with advantage either to themselves, their mates, or their employers, take their places in an ordinary industry. They require a longer course of training, during which - if they were in ordinary employment - they would be rather a hindrance than anything else to an organized industry. Yet many of these men will be quite capable of being trained, and may become efficient in many branches of work. Take the case of a bricklayer who has lost both his lower limbs. Obviously, he could not continue to follow his old occupation ; but it is equally certain, in the light of recent experience, that in time he could be taught a trade requiring only the use of his hands. With respect to such men we propose to place them in specially formed technical schools. This will be doneunder an agreement with the States, which have practically all fallen into line. This arrangement is that the Commonwealth shall carry all the costs, whether of the creation of new buildings, the payment of instructors, or theprovision of plant. The State technical authorities - generally attached to the Education Departments - are to create the classes, advise as to the buildings necessary, and with respect to the plant; also toprovide instructors, and generally carry out the whole of the educational processes. It is not proposed, in theseclasses, to adopt the ideal generally associated with a technical school or college. Such institutions set themselves out to produce finished, expert workmen; and the process takes years. Some of the courses occupy a period of four and five years. To meet the special needs of the soldiers, it would be impossible to pass many of them through such a course as that. After consultation with the technical experts, therefore, it was decided to adopt a special curriculum designed to make an efficient workman, not necessarily an expert tradesman, but so that he could find a useful place among the private industries of the country. It is desired that we should give him sufficient skill to earn his own living rather than attempt what would be, in the cases of many of them, impracticable - considering their age and the handicap of their previous occupations - the production of an accomplished workman. It will not be sought to turn out merely handy men; but in modern industry there are many branches where operative work is the principal undertaking. It is possible to teach men to undertake such duties, and in a few months they can carry on quite as efficiently as those who have been at the same tasks for a lifetime. That is, generally, our objective. Already there is sufficient evidence for me to say that the technical schools will provide an asset to the country by producing reasonably efficient workmen where before there were entirely unskilled men. And it is highly encouraging to note the avidity with which many”bf the returned soldiers are taking advantage of the opportunities provided - men who have lacked the chance in their youth of becoming skilled at any particular trade, and who now, thanks to the system inaugurated, are finding themselves provided with such an opportunity. It is astonishing and gratifying to see, not only the avidity with which these men apply themselves to the task of learning, but the success with which they are accomplishing it.
-Colonel Bolton. - Has any special arrangement been made in regard to classes of instructors for disabled men ?
– I do not quite follow the honorable senator.
– In other places it has been found necessary to train instructors for disabled soldiers.
– We cannot stop to train instructors and leave men waiting in the meantime. But as our classes expand, every effort will be made to secure from the returned soldiers who attend them as pupils, men who may become efficient instructors.
National Workshops. I come now to a class still more permanently injured, to the men, who, owing to the character of their injuries, can never hope to become efficient workmen - never hope to have their capacity restored to anything approaching normal. It is quite clear that, no matter what tuition may be given to them, they cannot become self-supporting members of the community.
– Are there many of them?
– That, again, I cannot say. But as the result of my reading of all the official and other reports from England and France - and, to some extent, from Canada - I have been instilled with a very great hope that the percentage of men who will be permanently in this class, will not be as heavy as one might be disposed to imagine. Medical science has accomplished wonders in fitting men - who at one time seemed totally incapacitated - to follow some occupation, though not necessarily the occupation with which they have been previously associated. These men present two alternatives to Australia. They can never hope to earn their own living, and yet they have some productive capacity. The problem that we .have to face is whether we shall provide them with an income sufficient to maintain them decently, leaving them in idleness, or whether we shall create an opportunity for them to earn some portion of the income which they receive. The alternatives, I repeat, are, briefly, these: That Australia shall give them an income sufficient to maintain them in idleness, or that it shall provide them with au income and enable them to earn a portion of it. In my judgment, the latter alternative is preferable. It is proposed, therefore, to create special workshops, which can never become self-supporting, owing to the inefficiency of the men who will be employed in them. But, viewed” even from the narrow, financial stand-point, it is better for this country to lose 50 per cent, on .every man thus employed, than to lose 100 per cent, and to see him walking about in idleness. Here, I want to put before honorable senators a problem that has troubled me a good deal. In the creation of these national workshops, it is possible either to establish the workshops and leave the workmen in them to make their own arrangements as to where they will live, just as do the ordinary employees of a privately-owned factory, or to make these workshops the central features in a settlement wherein we can provide, not merely the shops in which the men shall work, but the cottages in which they shall live. There are advantages to be derived from the adoption of either alternative. A settlement or garden suburb, containing a public hall and ordinary shops for supplying provisions - all of which would be conducted by returned soldiers - possesses some very great advantages. But there is a possibility of disadvantages arising from the segregation of men who will be more or less crippled. That is the one disadvantage that I oan perceive in an undertaking of this kind. On the. other hand, by placing the men in such a settlement it would be possible to provide them with much better houses than they could hope to secure in an ordinary suburb. It would be possible to provide them with reasonable areas around their cottages, and with social facilities which they can hardly expect to enjoy if they are left to make their own arrangements. This is a matter to which I have given considerable thought, but upon which I have not been able to finalize a judgment. I shall appreciatei it very much if honorable senators will later on give me their opinions in regard to it.
– One important factor would be the spirit of comradeship which always exists among soldiers.
– The honorable senator can speak with authority upon that question. The point which he has raised can be put as some set-off against the possible disadvantage of gathering into one settlement a . number of persdns who are more or less crippled. On the other hand, it would be possible to provide these people with comforts there, which we could not provide at any reasonable cost .in any other way. Honorable senators will help me very much if they will give some thought to. this one of many problems.
Care of the Blind. I come now to the next class of the incapacitated, namely, the blind. Many of these men are a considerable time in England after suffering their injury, and before returning to Australia. Obviously, it is undesirable that they should be wasting their time overseas before any efforts are made to train them. Arrangements have, therefore, been made with that celebrated institution, St. Dunstan’s, in England, whereby all our blind soldiers remaining in the Old Land can be trained there. Those Who do not remain there can be trained in the blind institutes of the several States. The management of these institutes will undertake the actual work of training, and we are mak ing arrangements by which that training; may be carried on, not in the ordinary institutes, but in separate buildings. We shall thus get the advantage of the expert knowledge that is to be derived from these institutes, and at the sametime overcome the not unnatural disinclination of the soldiers to be placed in. them.
The Totally and Permanently Incapacitated. I come now to those who are “ totally and permanently incapacitated,” and when I use that term, I mean literally what it implies. In this class arethose who are bed-ridden and those whoare paralyzed, and who will always requitenursing and medical attention. Thesewill be provided for in hostels or homes, and surrounded by every comfort which a not ungrateful country can provide for them. In Sydney we have already made an arrangement, in conjunction with the Red Cross, for the utilization of a very , fine property for- this purpose. The least we can do for these unfortunate men - most of whom will be unable to move more than a few yards from the house in which they live - is to provide them with a suitable home, the surroundings of” which will be pleasant, and from whichthey can behold something of the life that is about them. Some time ago, Mr. Dibbs presented to .the Government of New South Wales the splendid home in which he lived for many years, known as “ Graithwayte,” which, overlooks the harbor. It is a charming spot. It washanded over to the State Government, and subsequently to the Red Cross people, who have agreed to make it available for use by the totally and permanently incapacitated amongst our returned troops It is being fitted up for that purpose now. It is near enough to the city to enable parties, comprising’ friends of the individual inmates, to visit them, and also to permit of visits by ladies and( gentlemen who, by means of concerts and entertainments at such places, do much to cheer the life of the inmates. Overlooking, as it does, the waters of the harbor, these unfortunate men ‘ will be able to see a good deal which suggests life and activity. They will not be shut up as they would be if they were removed to a more isolated place. We are meeting some difficulty in securing ideal spots for this purpose in other capital cities. In Melbourne, for example, T made private inquiries with a view to securing a suitable property here. Failing to do that, I was drivento the expedient desperate, in thecase of a public Department, of openly proclaiming my wants. I announced in the newspapers that we were looking for some such property. I did not think it possible that we could do so without obtaining some response. So far, however, I have not had a single response to that intimation. Whether it is thought that the new Repatriation Department is going in some measure to make up for its generous treatment of our returned soldiers by its harsh treatment of other people, I do not know; but certainly such a property must be obtained, and if it cannot be secured in the ordinary way we shall have to get it in some other way.
– Has the Minister tried the system of soliciting voluntary offers ?
– That system of voluntary offering is open to anybody at any time. I thought, when I intimated that the Department was looking for a suitable property, that we should have been inundatedwith every eligible property that was available. But it may be that persons who have such properties do not desire to sell them, or perhaps require the matter to be brought more particularly under their notice.
-Properties like that might very well be used for a generation and then revert to their owners.
– The owners might not be here then.
– Is it necessary that such properties should be in the city?
– We do not want such properties to be in the city, but obviously they require to be near enough to it to provide easy access to the friends of the inmates. Therefore, they should not be too far away from the bustle of the city.
– Has the property donated by Mr. Dibbs been given for all time?
– He gave it to the New South Wales Government for all time. Now that Senator de Largie has directed attention to the matter, it is quite possible that somebody here may be inspired to follow Mr. Dibbs’ good example. Just one word more in regard to these men who are totally and permanently incapacitated. There will be some of them who will have homes of their own to which they can go, or friends who will be willing to look after them. Their cases will be met by special financial provision to enable them to live as they would wish. That provision is not fixed and arbitrary, but will be made adequate according to the circumstances of the case.’
The Psychological Aspect. There is a branch of this work which it is a little difficult for me as a layman to speak of, but which I regard as of the utmost importance. There has been in this war, as in no previous war, a recognition of the necessity of studying the psychology, apart from the physical injuries, of the sufferer. In order that we may get a little closer into touch with this section of the problem, and understand thoroughly what is being done at Home with regard to all the newer discoveries and appliances that have been developed, the Director-General of Medical Services in the Defence Department, Dr. Fetherston, who was proceeding to England on work connected with his own Department, has also undertaken the mission of thoroughly looking into this section of the work. His report, when available, should enable us to supplement information previously forwarded by the authorities at Home, and in other countries.
– Do you think he has the requisite qualifications for that task?
– I should not like to question Dr. Fetherston ‘s qualifications.
– They are questioned a good deal in medical circles.
– I do not know any medical man whose qualifications are not questioned in the medical world. Politicians are a harmonious body of loving brethren compared with doctors.
– His work in Australia is his best qualification, and that has been given a high recommendation by the report of theRoyal Commission.
– I have confidence in him for the mission on which he has gone. Even if there was somebody slightly better qualified, no one would suggest that Dr. Fetherston ‘s report will not be distinctly helpful to us. We have obtained recent information, but it is altering every day. There are certain magazines devoted to the subject, and every month’ discloses some advance on what was previously regarded as the very latest thing, especially as relating to the restoration to health of men injured in certain ways. With regard also to the psychological aspect of the matter, it has become quite clear that the doctor who is called upon here for the first time to examine a man, Knowing nothing of his previous history, is under a distinct dis-°’ ability, and may unconsciously do him an injustice, lt is desirable, therefore, that we should, as far as possible, get the complete medical history of each man from the time he first enters a hospital -as a casualty to the time he comes here for treatment. As the result of co-operation with the Defence Department, steps are being taken by which we will get that complete history here with the man himself. That should materially help the doctors who have to deal with these men, either by themselves, or in conjunction with a technical expert, in determining each one’s future career.
There is another and more complex aspect of the matter. I refer to that class of case commonly called “ shell shock,” although the later term used in the Old World now is “ war-worn,” because many people suffering from so-called “shell shock “ have not suffered solely from shell fire, but their nerves have gone to pieces under the general strain to which they have been subjected. There are special, institutions on the other side for cases of that kind, and it is quite evident that, to do justice to many of these hoys, we have to get to grips with that side of the problem. I do not wish to decry in any way the capacity of the medical men of Australia, ‘but honorable senators will see that this subject not merely requires special study, but is not a study with which the ordinary medical pracfitioner is familiar at all. It is a new problem, and requires to be taken in hand by men who have not only, studied it theoretically, but who have been where the subjects have been available in numbers; that is, by those who have had the opportunity at Home.
– Have not some, of our best doctors been at one time or other to the other side?
– Many of them are on the other side. Whether that is so or not, I am merely laying down my specification of the man we want.’ He must be a doctor who has specially studied the problem, not only theoretically, but by practical experience.
– You do not suggest importing a stranger to do that work?
– I have suggested neither importation nor exportation; but if a doctor with these special qualifications is not available in Australia, I will go anywhere to get him. ‘The mere question of importation should not stand between lis and doing the best we can.
– I am only suggesting that we have as good doctors here as anywhere in the world, and some of them have had the experience you refer to.
– I agree with the honorable senator that Australia may well be proud, not only of her. soldiers, but of her doctors. Some of our leading doctors have gone from this, until recently, out-of-the-way country, and have more than held their own with the best surgeons and doctors in other parts of the world. They have also shown great organizing capacity in connexion with the military units with which they have been placed. I regard this phase of medical science as very important, and if our treatment is to be effective, we are entitled to get an undoubted expert to direct it.
Sanatoria. There are two other classes of men, whose injuries will appeal to us. The first are those suffering from lung complaint in its various forms. The Defence Department has necessarily to handle them when they first return, before discharge. The Department has to make accommodation for them, in the way of homes, and provide facilities for treating them. It would be obviously undesirable to duplicate those establishments, seeing that towards the end of the war those of the Defence Department would be empj;y, as their men would .be drafted into ours. Rather than duplicate the staff and expense, an arrangement has been arrived at between Senator Pearce and myself by which the Defence Department will organize and control these institutions until the close of the war, when they will automatically pass over to the Repatriation Department.
Artificial Limb Factory. Another institution in connexion with which a similar arrangement exists is the artificial limb factory. If honorable senators care to visit that place, they can spend an instructive afternoon. The establishment is under the management of a gentleman from America. He came over under contract with the Defence Department for the purpose of creating the factory and training a staff here. They have proceeded sufficiently far on their way to justify the assertion that the factory is going to be a distinct success, and that Australian workmen - themselves injured, returned soldiers - will soon be making the equipment necessary for their brothers in misfortune. Branches, of the factory will be established in the capital cities of the larger States, New South Wales and Queensland, in a very short -time, and the others a little later on. That factory also, while under the control of the Defence Department to-day, will pass over to the Repatriation Department on the termination of the war. The Defence Department controls it to-day, because when the soldier comes back it is the Defence Department’s obligation to fit him with a limb when he needs it, and during his convalescent period he is in a military hospital, under military control, and that is the time when in many cases he will be fitted with his limb. Obviously, we do not want the man to be under the jurisdiction of two Departments, and so the most common-sense way out of the threatened difficulty was to arrive at the arrangement to which I have referred.
Later Medical Treatment. After discharge, after, indeed, the re-establishment of the soldier in civil life, there will be many cases in which men will have a recurrence of their complaint, illness, or indisposition, caused by the war. Arrangements have been completed with country hospitals by which our returned soldiers, needing this after medical care, will be able to obtain it free. Of course, that is surrounded by precautions, but generally I can say that any returned soldier who has a recurrence pf his illness, such, for instance, as rheumatics, incurred while in the trenches; will be able to obtain medical treatment costing him nothing.
Land Settlement. This statement would be incomplete unless I referred to the question of land settlement. An agree ment exists between the Commonwealth and State Governments, with the exception of Queensland, whereby the States undertake to find the land, to accept the responsibility of placing the soldier on it, and generally of supervising him when he is there, the Commonwealth, for its part, finding a working capital of £500 per settler. That arrangement is going on, although I am not prepared to say it is entirely satisfactory, and a number of soldiers are being so settled. I hope, that, in the light of experience gained in the last twelve months, it will be possible to improve both on the policy and the methods now being followed in the different States. I propose to invite a conference of the Lands Ministers at no distant date, with a view to considering whether we cannot do many things, particularly to cut out that irritating and wasteful delay which seems to hang round the feet of the sol- dier seeking to get upon the land. It is very pronounced in this State, and not absent in any. We should be able to arrange some system by which the soldier seeking land can, within a few weeks, get a definite determination whether land can be allotted to him or not. There have been cases where men have been hanging round for months. I cannot think that it is impossible to remove that condition of things.
– One of the great troubles in Tasmania is that the State officials who select the land do not seem to know the class of land suitable for the purpose, and soldiers are being asked to go on land that is not suitable.
– It is a marvellous thing that, although Australia has been dealing with the land problem for scores of years, apparently no system has been devised for the resumption of land which does not meet with this criticism. I know a good deal about land, and have been associated with land operations in my own State. I hear the same complaint there, but if you asked me to devise a system for resuming land satisfactorily, I could not, on paper, devise a better one than they have there.
– I could tell you one that would do it.
– I am not dealing with the question of whether the rate of tax should be ls. or ls. 3d. Whilst, no doubt, mistakes have been made in the estates resumed, either in the quality of the land or the price paid, I am not prepared to take at its face value this general, denunciation of resumptions all round. “Whatever the fault is, that is a responsibility at present carried by the State officers. The alternative would be for us to create a Department of our own, and- go round resuming land; and I am not at all certain we would do any better thau the State Governments are doing to-day.
The Eecent Congestion. Before closing, may I make reference to some complaints of the congestion which occurred a little while ago, and which exists ever, today in a lesser degree, at the Repatriation Offices in’ Jolimont? It was re- * grettable ; but can any honorable member say it was a matter for surprise? The Department was opened on the Sth of last month, with an intimation that sustenance allowance would be provided for any unemployed soldiers.
– How many applications did you get?
– Oan any one be surprised that the office was rushed’? Men who had not been heard of for two years suddenly materialized on that occasion; and, when they came along, it was not sufficient for them to present themselves at the cashier’s office to receive an allowance. Every man’s application had to be checked to see whether or not he was a returned soldier, and necessarily there was delay when men came in their hundreds, as they did when the offices were opened, with the result that, with normal machinery in operation, congestion was inevitable. All I can say is that I am. satisfied that the machinery created for the administration of the Department is quite competent to deal with a normal state of affairs. It would have been foolish to create machinery capable of dealing with a rush sucli as occurred, and which would be over in a few weeks. Irritating though the delay may have been to the men, I venture to -say that congestion was inevitable, unless we had created a machine far more expansive and extensive than is necessary for normal requirements. It must not’ be assumed, also, that every soldier is a plaster saint. I have already been under die necessity of giving instructions for the prosecution of men who have applied for sustenance at the Repatriation Offices on the ground of unemployment, while all the time they were in employment elsewhere in the city. The Department is there for the benefit of returned soldiers who desire to get back into civil life. It has not been created for that small percentage of men who are not prepared to do a fair thing; and, in justice to the large majority qf men who, in my judgment, are decent triers, and want to get back to ordinary employment, we should see that the malingerers and pointers are not given free access to the public Treasury. That is my explanation concerning the complaints of congestion at the Jolimont offices.
– What provision has been made for a returned soldier who may fail to retain his employment ? Will he be able to come back on tie Repatriation Department?
– Yes; but whether he will get sustenance or not will depend on the circumstances under which he lost his last employment. There is no hardandfast rule. We have had a good deal of varied experience already.. In one case, a man was discharged from hospital at a time when he really required a longer period of convalescence, but because he was keen to get back to work, he was allowed to take the first job that offered, and two days later had to throw it up on account of ill-health. No one will say, of course, that a man like that should not be given another chance. Each case must stand on its merits. To assist in the administration of the Department in each State office there will be an all-time doctor, who will’ examine applicants for employment, and who will have to say whether a man is fit to accept certain employment or whether he should draw’ sustenance allowance until he becomes a little stronger. On the other hand, we have had experience of a man who has had thirty-two jobs offered to him. I feel sure the Senate will agree with me when I say we would be perfectly justified in asking that individual not to darken our doors again.
A Sound Groundwork. I have endeavoured to put before the Senate the scheme of repatriation so far as it has developed. I do not pretend that the regulations are either perfect or complete. It will be necessary to modify them, and from time to time to add to them, as experience suggests; but I do submit them with a considerable measure of confidence as forming the sound groundwork of a scheme by which Australia, I hope, will be able to discharge her obligations to her returned soldiers.
There are other activities at present Under the consideration of the Commission,such, for instance, as the housing scheme. Some disappointment may have been expressed that it has not been included in the present regulations, but I point, out that this question involves tremendous financial obligations, which could not be lightly entered upon. This and other matters are now receiving the attention of the Commission. It was thought, however, not desirable to delay the issue of the regulations so far as they are completed, and that, as these and other matters develop, the regulations may be added to and supplemented from time to time. “With this explanation of the scheme, and my brief reference to the Bill itself, I move the second reading of the measure.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Keefe) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill is mainly a machinery measure, and contains no new principle except that it is necessary to provide for certain matters not contained in the existing Act. When the war broke out, we had only the experience of the South African war to guide us, and few people thought then that it would last for so long. The first business was to commence the enrolment of men, the terms of enlistment being for the period of the war and for four months thereafter. The raising of this Force was not carried out under the Defence Act, but under general powers reposed in every Government for the defence of the country. The Defence Act has been amended from time to time in the light of experience gained during the war. We hope that we are now approaching the time when, as a result of a victory for the Allies, we may forecast the return of our soldiers; but, even if peace came to-morrow, it is practically certain - and this matter hasreceived the consideration of the Imperial Army Council - that they could not be returned to Australia under twelve months, and possibly it would take two years, for it must be remembered that Canadian, New Zealand, South African, and Indian troops will likewise require to be returned to their respective countries. The term of enlistment, therefore, is altogether inadequate to cover the period of demobilization, and it has been thought advisable to amend the Defence Act so as to extend the provision for the upkeep of the Forces until, by proclamation, the Governor-General is able to say that the time has arrived when the men may be discharged. The Bill now before the Senate makes the necessary amendments. It also contains amendments of a somewhat technical character concerning the administration of the Defence Act generally. The Act provides that the Minister means the” Minister of State for Defence or other Minister of State for the time being administering this Act.” As honorable senators are well aware, the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Cook) will be away from the Commonwealth for some time, and Acting Ministers or members of the Executive Council have been appointed to carry out their duties. Honorable senators are also aware that since the war broke out the work of the Defence Department has grown to such an extent that it has been found necessary to appoint an Assistant Minister to assist the Minister for Defence, and it has become necessary that those Ministers, who are members of the Executive Council, although not Ministers holding portfolios, should be given power which the Minister has, to administer the Act in his absence. The amendments have to be supplemented by amendments of the Acts Interpretation Act to provide that a member of the Executive Council may do those things which Ministers are empowered to do. The amendment is being made in this Bill by striking out the words “ Minister of State for Defence or other Minister of State,” and providing that the “Minister for the time being” shall be empowered to administer the Act, so that, if the Minister for Defence happens to be away from the Seat of Government, the Assistant Minister may do all those things which previously only the Minister for Defence himself could do.
– Does the Bill pro-
Tide that the men shall he discharged as soon as they return to Australia?
– No. That will be a matter for the Administration to decide. I may say,on that point, that it is not the intention of the Government, when our men return to Australia in organized bodies, to follow the procedure now laid down, that they are to be automatically discharged fourteen days after their return. The intention is that they shall be kept in organized bodies until such time as the Repatriation Department may be able to arrange for their return to civil life, and they will then be discharged only in such numbers as can be dealt with by the Repatriation Department. As the Act now stands, their term of service will cease four months after the conclusion of the war, so that Australian soldiers in Great Britain four months after the war would cease to be members of the Forces.
– How is it proposed to deal with soldiers who want their discharges, in order that they may get back to civil life?
– The Minister will have full power, after the war, to grant a discharge to any soldier who may have an opportunity of returning to civil life.
– But ia there any p rovision making it mandatory on the Minister to discharge a man if he wishes to return to his civil occupation ?
– No, certainly not. And there is very good reason why it should not be so. We all hope that when peace is declared it will be a permanent and lasting peace, but honorable senators will no doubt realize from their knowledge of the history of other wars that there is always a period, after peace is declared, When matters are unstable. It is possible that many questions may not be thoroughly cleared up at the Peace Conference, and it may be necessary for’ our own security to keep some of our divisions intact, after their return to Australia, until such time as the GovernorGeneral by proclamation is able to say. that the time has arrived when it is no longer necessary to maintain our Forces in an organized state.
There is a provision in this Bill affecting a matter dealt with a short time ago in another Bill introducedto amend the Defence Act. There had been for a long time an agitation on behalf of the Senior Cadets that the whole of their drill should not be carried out in their own time, but that some proportion of it should be carried out in the employers’ time. Anamending Bill was introduced to provide for that, but experience has shown that a further amendment of the original Act in this regard is necessary. There is a provision in connexion with the Senior Cadet Force that if a cadet becomes a cadet officer he may, with the consent of the Defence authorities, when he reaches the age of eighteen years, remain with the Senior Cadets as a Senior Cadet officer. He may, also, if he is physically unfit at that age to enter the Citizen Forces, remain another year with the Senior Cadets. Further, in order to secure the requisite number of Senior Cadet officers, and that we might have some men of more mature age in the Senior Cadets, it has been found necessary to appoint volunteer officers to those forces. We have provided for a certain proportion of drills to be carried out in the employers’ time, and these cadet officers are, of course, called up for these parades. But as we have provided that it is only the senior cadet whose pay is not to be deducted by his employer for the time he is absent from his employment attending drill, the result has been that, whilst the senior cadet thus receives his pay, neither the senior cadet officer nor the volunteer officer attached to the SeniorCadet Force receives pay olcan claim pay from his employer for the time he is absent attending drills. It is, therefore, considered advisable to further amend the Act, to make this provision apply, not only to theSenior Cadets, but to the SeniorCadet officers and the volunteer officers in the Cadet Forces. As they are required to be absent from their employment for the purpose of training the Senior Cadets, it is not just , that their employers should deduct any of their pay for the time in which they are thus occupied. There is no pay in the Senior Cadet Forces, and the amendment proposed in this Bill is intended merely as an act of justice which we think is due to Senior Oadet officers.
The only other matter to which I need refer is one which arises out of the war, also. Section 148 of the original Act makes provision that officers of the Permanent Forces shall he appointed from graduates of the Royal Military College. The Australian Imperial Force is,” for the time being at any rate, a permanent force, and, strictly speaking, we could not legally appoint as officers of the Australian Military Forces men who were* not graduates of the Royal Military College. That was not intended, and the original provision of the law has, therefore, to be amended. In making the necessary amendment, it is proposed to make its operation retrospective, to cover irregular appointments that have already been made.
I wish to say, as regards the home defence question, in which honorable senators are no doubt interested, because of the announcement made on the subject recently on behalf of the Government, that there is no clause in this Bill dealing with that question. However, there are some money Bills to come before the Senate shortly, and on the first reading of those Bills an opportunity will be afforded to honorable senators to discuss the question, and I shall then be prepared to give any information which honorable senators desire. I could not, under the Standing Orders, deal with the matter in discussing this Bill. I have mentioned it in order to explain that I do not refer to the question in detail, because there is no provision in this Bill dealing with it, since no amendment of the Defence Act is necessary for the purpose.
-Colonel Bolton. - Will the amendment dealing with the appointment of officers in the Australian Imperial Force meet tlie case of the staff sergeantsmajor who have received promotion on service with the Australian Imperial Force ?
– Does the honorable senator mean to ask whether, under the Bill, they will be made permanent officers when they return ?
-Colonel Bolton. - Yes.
– The Bill does not provide for that. Certain persons have been appointed as officers of the Australian Imperial Force who have not been properly so appointed if the provisions of the Defence Act are strictly interpreted The Australian Imperial
Force was raised, not under the Defence Act, but under the general powers which repose in every Government for the defence and security of the country. It has been thought advisable that the Australian Imperial Force should be brought under the Defence Act, and the original Act has been amended already for that purpose. In this Bill, there is a further amendment proposed to validate the appointment as officers of the Australian Imperial Force of men who were not graduates of the Royal Military College.
-Colonel Bolton. - Is there any amendment proposed in the Bill to meet the situation brought under the Minister’s notice in connexion with the staff sergeants-major referred tot
– No; because no amendment of the Act is necessary for that purpose. It can be dealt with in another way. I -do not mean to say that a staff sergeant-major can be appointed as an officer, but another step is being taken which, for the period of the war at any rate, will meet the difficulty mentioned in a previous discussion. It is not competent for me to deal with that matter on this Bill, but I promise Senator Bolton that a temporary solution, at any rate, of the difficulty to which he has referred has1 been found. When the money Bills are before the Senate, if I am reminded of the matter, I shall explain what is being done in ‘that regard.
– Under section 148, to which the Minister has referred, it is clear that no returned soldier, unless he has been bhrough the Military College, can be appointed an officer of the Permanent Forces.
– TEat is so; and under a strictly legal interpretation of the Defence Act, no person who had not been through the Royal Military College could have been appointed an officer of the Australian Imperial Force. That is why the amendment is proposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 4).
– I recognise that honorable senators have not had time to consider the provisions of this Bill. -I was anticipating that some honorable senator on the opposite side would have moved the adjournment of the debate on the second reading.
– I rose to do so.
– The question was put too quickly.
– As this is really a Bill which can be best considered in Committee no harm has been done; but as honorable senators require further time to consider the measure, I will ask the Chairman to report progress.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn,
– This afternoon a reply was submitted to questions I asked a week or two ago, which purported to set out the names and occupations of the whole of the members of the Committees of the Pools and other industrial organizations controlled directly or indirectly, and wholly or partially, by the Government. I wish to say that the information supplied in response to my questions is not nearly complete. Speaking from memory, on the first sheet of the return submitted in reply, and in connexion with the very important Central Wool Committee, the name of Mr. F. W. Hughes has been left out. In giving the names of the members of the’ Metals Committee, the occupations of the . gentlemen constituting that Committee are not supplied. It is very important that members of this Parliament should know exactly what is going on in connexion with these Committees. My question was specific with regard to the occupations of the members of these Committees. I bring this under the notice of the Minister concerned, in the hope that the matter may be further gone into, and the information for which I asked supplied at the earliest possible date.
– Senator Pratten has raised a very important question. If he specifically aske’d that the occupations of the members of these Committees should be given, the information is such as honorable senators are entitled to receive.
– It will take time.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that it takes any considerable time to name the occupations followed by the members of the Metals Committee ? One of the most important matters connected with the appointment of such a Committee is necessarily the occupations followed by the members of it. It may be that those appointed to the Committee follow no other business but that associated with the production and sale of metals. There is a feeling in the minds of hundreds and thousands of persons engaged in the production of metals that they are not getting the fair deal to which they believe they are entitled, since the production and sale of metals has been brought under the control of the Federal Government. In view of this feeling, it is surely of the greatest importance that the occupations, as well as the names, of the members of the Metals Committee should be made known.
– Suppose the occupation of one of the members is that of an accountant; how would that help the honorable senator?
– Suppose one of the members of the Committee were Mr. Baillieu, who is one of our recognised metal kings, and is known to be very largely interested in the production or sale of, or trafficking in metals in Australia; should not his occupation be given ? I think it is most important that the information for which Senator Pratten has asked should be supplied.
I wished to say a word or two on another matter on the motion for the adjournment. Senator Pearce to-day read a report received in reply to some questions I asked about a fortnight ago in connexion with the refusal to permit certain church dignitaries to go upon the Launceston wharf. I am not now in a position to criticise the report, which I have merely glanced over hastily. I donot know who the witnesses were, or the nature of the . evidence given ; but the report is absolutely in contradiction to statements made by members of the public who were eye-witnesses. Also, I have good reason to believe that the report quite contradicts the expressed statements of an officer of the Navy.
– What portion of the report do you refer to? Is it the whole, or only part of it?
– The report is couched in very general terms.
– I should say that it was phrased in most particular terms.
– Perhaps, on the evidence adduced before the official who was sent up from Hobart, no other finding could have been made. Yet it is common knowledge that the statements made, for example, by a naval officer, named Kennedy, do not bear out the pith of this report. There was a conflict of authority between the naval and the military parties present, and it is public knowledge that the naval officer denied the authority of the military official. To the extent that this incident may have arisen through a mistake, I should say that it was because of that conflict of authority, and because both of those officers, or either one of them, appeared to be in doubt as to who was the actual chief authority. I know this, further, that the Military Commandant in Tasmania, from what he had heard of the incident before the report appeared, was also of opinion that very grave blunders had been made by some of the officials in charge. The report will probably be made public, arid the whole matter will not end there, for there will follow some pretty strong criticism on the part of eyewitnesses of the affair.
– I draw attention to an incident which occurred in the Senate a few minutes ago, following the motion for the second reading of the Defence Bill by Senator Pearce. I rose to move the adjournment of the debate. You, Mr. President, put the question, however. I was under the impression that you would have stated the question first.
– I did. It was, “That the Bill be now read a second time,” and no honorable senator interposed.
– 1 beg your pardon, Mr. President, but I was on my feet, and, in the absenceof the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Gardiner, I desired to move the adjournment of the debate. Unfortunately, sir, you did not look my way, and, therefore, I failed to secure the opportunity. I would not have taken much notice ‘of the incident, but that Senator Pearce mentioned that he had expected that some one on this side would have moved the adjournment. I, therefore, wish to point out that I did rise for that purpose.
– I can only say that I failed to see the honorablesenator when he rose. He might, however, have drawn my attention by addressing the Chair in the usual way. I would then have put the question, “ That the debate be adjourned,” after he had moved to that effect.
– Senator Pratten has drawn my attention to the fact that a return which was laid on the table of the Senate to-day, in answer toa question addressed to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), is not, in his opinion, complete.. I have given instructions that a copy of the honorable senator’s remarks be brought to the notice of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), and also the remarks of’ Senator O’Keefe in the same regard.
With respect to the report concerning the” happening at Launceston, Senator O’Keefe states that he is not satisfied. I have no personal knowledge of the circumstances.
– Nor have I.
– I looked through the file on which the report is based, however, and I should say that the evidence contained therein certainly warrants the report.
– I also saw the correspondence before the report was made, and I say that the report is not justified.
– The honorable senator did not indicate any particular in which he disputed the accuracy of the report. When he said that it was of a general character, I differed, and held that there were certain phases in which the report was of a most definite nature - for instance, as to there being only one pass issued, and with respect to only one portion of the party presenting themselves with the pass.
– My complaint is that these statements are only half truths.
– The honorable senator should indicate in what particular the report is inaccurate, so as toenable further inquiries to be made, if he wishes. I have no feeling in the matter.
– Senator O’Keefe says that some one is telling a lie?
– I do, deliberately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180502_senate_7_84/>.