7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911. - Award, dated 26th April, 1918, of Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and other documents, in connexion with plaint submitted by the Professional Officers Association,Commonwealth Public Service.
Contract Immigrants Act 1905. - Return for 1917, respecting contract immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Immigration Act 1901-1912. - Return for 1917, showing -(a) persons refused admissionto the Commonwealth; (b) persons who passed the dictation test; (c) persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test; (d) departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether hehas any information to give the Senate concerning a contingent of Australian soldiers now said to be visiting the United States of America on behalf of thewar loan being raised in that country?
SenatorPEARCE.- Yes. We have received advice that, at the request of the Government of the United States of America, a number of Australian soldiers, who were in England, were sent across to help in the campaign for” the raising of money for the American war loan.
SenatorMcDougall.-Not those who were passing through?
– No; invalided men.
– A couple of weeks ago I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Governrnent would take into consideration the advisability of appointing some of the State meat inspectors as Commonwealth inspectors of meat. Is the Minister now in a position to reply to the question?
-I have received the following reply from the Minister for Trade and Customs: -
The suggestion that State meat inspectors be appointed Commonwealth inspectors is not a new one, and, in so far as the bacon industry is concerned, such action has been, and is, frequently taken, that is to say, municipal meat inspectors stationed at bacon factories are often appointed under the Customs Act, and they then conduct the ante-mortem and’ postmortem examination of the pigs, and subsequently certify to the fitness or otherwise of bacon intended for export.
In such cases the fees collected in respect of pigs submitted for slaughter for export are paid to the Commonwealth, and allowances are paid by the Commonwealth for the State inspectors’ services.
It has been decided, however, that it is not advisable to extend that principle to the inspectors who deal with cattle and sheep, and, subsequently, with the carcasses for export.
– The answer proceeds -
The general employment of State officers is undesirable, because of the extra expense and inconvenience involved–
– Order! The Minister is arguing the question in his reply. It is permissible for him only to give the information asked for by the question, and not to argue the matter with which it deals.
– I am merely reading the reply supplied to me by the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– ‘The course which is being followed would, if generally adopted, give latitude to those furnishing replies to enter into argument, which would not be in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Iunderstand that wh’at has been sent to me is merely a reply to Senator Shannon’s question. It proceeds -
The seasons of the States fluctuate, and by systematic arrangement it is possible to utilize the services of an officer in different States. With State officers this is not practicable. The present practice also enables the services of these experts to be continued for the greater part of the year, which is most desirable, seeing they are very difficult to obtain.
In this way, also, uniformity of methods in the various States is obtained.
The Commonwealth has had experience of both systems, and has no hesitation in continuing the present practice of having men wholly employed in this important industry, and responsible only to the one. Government.
– Arising out of the answer given, I ask the Vice-Presi- dent of the Executive Council whether the Government will take into consideration the advisability of appointing in each State a Commonwealth inspector of meat other than pork?
-I shall bring the suggestion under the notice’ of the Minister for Trade and Customs. .
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– I have not seen any of the paragraphs referred to. Inquiries are, however, being made in the matter.
Number of Bales Stored
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many bales of wool are at present stored in Australia?
– The Director of Raw Materials, London, has instructed the Central Wool Committee to treat all wool statistics as private and confidential. The wool is the property of the British. Government; therefore, the Central Wool
Committee cannot furnish details without the authority of the Director of Raw Materials.
– Arising out of the reply, I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is prepared to ask the authority of the British Government for the publication of the information asked for in my question?
– If the honorable senator will submit that question at the proper time, I shall be glad to answer it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to civil employment in the Department of Defence.
– In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I desire to say that the measure is necessary because, under the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906, the Government have no power to acquire parks vested in or under the control of municipal authorities. I draw particular attention to this fact, because, judging by the vote given on the first reading of the Bill, I antici pate some opposition willbe offered by honorable senators opposite.
– The Minister may fairly anticipate that.
– I do so also because the area referred to in the Bill is only by the merest chance a public park. In February of this year, when the Department first selected this land, it was not a public park, and had we acted at once without further inquiry we could have resumed the area without coming to Parliament at all. But apparently it became known that we were after the property, and in March of this year it was declared a public park by the Government of New South Wales, thus necessitating a special Bill to enable the Commonwealth Government to resume the land.
– Where is this land ?
– At Leichhardt, in the neighbourhood of Sydney, New South Wales. I ask honorable members to bear in mind the facts I have mentioned because some strong statements were made in another place about the Commonwealth Government desiring to steal public parks, and I have no doubt there will be an attempt to resuscitate some of those arguments in the discussion in this Chamber.
– We will give you some fresh material as well.
– We may always depend upon getting something fresh from Senator Grant on the land question, and this represents a new phase of that question. As to the necessity for the acquisition of the land, I wish, first of all, to draw attention to thefirst progress report by the Naval and Defence Administration Royal Commission dated 30th November, 1917, dealing with this matter. Paragraph 15 of that report states -
The undue accumulation of supplies necessarily raised the problem of storage accommodation. In some districts suitable accommodation was available, or has been provided, but in the largest district (2nd Military District - New South Wales) the provision for the storage of ordnance stocks is most unsatisfactory. In that district the stocks are housed in about twenty-five stores, mostly inconveniently situated and unsuitable, in and around Sydney, and under such circumstances efficient or economical supervision cannot be exercised. The cost of labour involved in handling and in providing against the ravages of rats, mice, moths, and other pests is considerable, and the immediate erection of a properly equipped ordnance store in that district is imperative.
Meanwhile, in order to reduce the heavy stocks’ located in Sydney, the stores required for overseas should, as far as practicable, be drawn exclusively therefrom.
– Does the Minister consider that Commission an authority worth quoting?
– I do. In subparagraph 4 of paragraph 15 the Commission recommends -
The immediate erection of suitable accommodation for Ordnance Stores in the 2nd Military District (New South Wales).
The Government considered and approved of that recommendation, and I, as the Minister administering the Department, was instructed to make the necessary arrangements. One of my first steps was to instruct a. well -known Sydney business tjian, who is also a Citizen Force Officer - Colonel Sands, of the business firm of John ‘Sands and Co. - to make private inquiries as to any land that might be available in the neighbourhood of Sydney, informing him of the purposes for which it was required. Colonel Sands gave effect to my instructions, and in his report recommending this particular site, he stated that the particular area was a reserve - not a park - and that the State Government had already taken part of. it for storage purposes without any protest from anybody.
– They had no opportunity to protest.
– Yes, they had, because it was well known that the New South Wales Government intended to utilize the area, and as I have said, not a single protest was raised against this course, with the result that portion of the land is now being used by the New South Wales Government for storage purposes entirely. A sketch plan of the locality will indicate to honorable senators what kind of a reserve it is. There is private land abutting on to the reserve ‘ area. The strip “required by the Commonwealth lies practically between private land and Long Cove Canal. Like all other vacant land in the neighbourhood of our large cities this area has undoubtedly been used to some extent by the youths of the neighbourhood for cricket, football and other games, but I particularly instructed Colonel Sands to visit it on a Saturday afternoon, so as to be able to ascertain to what extent it was really being used.
In his report of 27th February, 1918, Colonel Sands stated -
I visited the site on Saturday afternoon, 23rd February, 1918, and not one person was utilizing the area for recreation or otherwise.
So much, then, for the claim that may be made that the area is being utilized for recreation purposes. Upon receipt of that report, however, I thought it as well to safeguard the rights of the Commonwealth in this land, because I know from past experience that once it becomes known the Government are after certain land it has a mysterious habit of changing hands. And we had here not merely to resume the reserve, but some private land also, which will be found marked upon the plan. So I consulted with the Department of Home and Territories as to whether we could at once post the order for resumption, which would secure the right of the Commonwealth in getting land at the figure at which it was then quoted. Since that would necessitate a certain financial liability to the Commonwealth, it was decided, on reconsideration, after consultation with the Minister for Home and Territories, that, although the Executive Council minute had actually been put through, we should not then gazette the resumption, but would obtain further reports as to the suitability of that or of other sites. It was subsequent to that Executive minute being put through, and before we could get our reports finalized, that this land was declared by the State Government a public park, although the New South Wales Government had taken portion for storage purposes, and had not declared that particular part a public park - merely that which the Commonwealth proposed to take.
Colonel Sands was also instructed to inquire into the views of the municipal council upon the matter. For the information of the Senate I will read extracts from various reports dealing with the whole subject. I shall quote first a letter from Colonel Sands, dated 26th March, 1918: -
Since the publication of the gazettal of this resumption, I wish to state that there is an unanimous opinion in Sydney business world that the site chosen by the Department could not be excelled for ‘the specific purpose it was chosen for.
I shall now give an extract from the minute of the Director-General of Works, as follows: -
On the 22nd ult. I visited the Ordnance Store site at Leichhardt with the Works Director for New South Wales and the Chief Architect, and, on the same day, I met Colonel Sands. The requirements for a site for an Ordnance Store are difficult to fulfil, namely, proximity to Sydney, access by rail, easy access by , road, and access by water; I think, however, that the selection made is a good one to meet those requirements.
Next I shall quote this further wire from Colonel Sands, dated 8th April -
Kindly advise Minister, also Minister for Home and Territories, that I attended special meeting Leichhardt Council, and that no antagonistic public attitude .need be expected from that body; in fact, they say the proposition is a good thing for their municipality. They intend approaching State Government, however, to get the purchase money allowed to them, so they can buy another park site. State Government will be favorable to do this.
I am informed that the State Government are favorable.
– Have the State Government raised any objection ?
– No, except in their declaration of the reserve as a public park. If they knew of the proposal of the Commonwealth authorities, it does seem peculiar that they “ should have waited until we had practically chosen the site, when they might have taken the step at any ‘time for years past, seeing that the land had been lying in the same condition for a great while.
Among other officials who were asked to report on the site was Mr. Swinburne, Chairman of the Business Board. It was desired that he should report, not only upon this site, but with respect to others which had been mentioned from time to time. He was asked, in fact, to go into the whole matter. I shall read some extracts from his long report -
I now have pleasure in reporting to you as to the suitability of a site at Long Cove, Leichhardt, Sydney, for an Ordnance Store, as suggested by Colonel Sands in his letter to you of the 16th February.
In conjunction with Brigadier-General Stanley, and Brigadier-General Ramaciotti, on the 28th February, I inspected the site recommended by Colonel Sands for an Ordnance Store in the 2nd Military District. ‘
I have examined the site carefully, and with a view to gaining information bearing upon the whole subject I inspected the stores at Circular Quay, Darling Island, and some of the places occupied at Victoria Barracks. All the officers connected with the various Departments were very frank and willing in giving me all the information I required. I also interviewed Mr. Chalmers, member of the Royal Commission, and had a long conversation with a Mr. Sharp, estate agent, 107 Pittstreet, Sydney, to whom Mr. Chalmers referred me, with regard to probable available sites.
Mr. Kendall, engineer of existing lines, also discussed the matter fully, and supplied me with the attached plan of the railway passing the property, and showing the best way to introduce, a siding on to the proposed land. I further took an opportunity of having a long conversation with Mr. Lance, the chairman of the Harbor Trust, and his chief engineer, asto the possibility of other sites being obtainable, with a water frontage and. adjacent to a railway.
Mr. Swinburne proceeds then to elaborate a reservation as to the money necessary to bring in a siding, and as to certain filling up which would be required.^ MrSwinburne continues - . . With the above reservation I frankly say that from all the inquiries I myself made,, and especially from statements made by Mr. Lance, Mr. Kendall, and Mr. Sharp, in addition to the statements of Colonel Sands, itwould appear practically impossible to secure any other site than the one submitted, with a railway and harbor frontage combined, and that there would be difficulty in obtaining a. site with an equal acreage, alongside a railwaywithin the same distance of the post-office.
Advantages of Long Cove Site.
A branch railway from the main line to> ‘ Glebe Island runs past the property. Thisbranch line is very little used at the present time, having only a service of two or threetrains a week, principally to meet the requirements of the State Public Works store on an, adjoining site. This railway, however, will ultimately be joined up with the Darling Harbor connexions, and in the future is sure to giveall the service lhat the stores may require.
Mr. Kendall informed me, also, that a receiving station would be placed very near thesite, probably at a carting distance of 300 or 400 yards, which in itself would be a distinct, advantage. In addition, marshalling yards for goods, and a receiving depot, will be maintained at a distance of about 14 miles of thesite. For the next few years, however, till theconnexion is made, the whole of the goods or supplies would have to be carted to Darling Harbor if prompt deliveries were required,, although a nearer receiving station is available at Petersham; but this station does notgive such prompt despatch as Darling Island Station. It is, therefore, right to assume that,, although the railway connexion to the sitewill not be all that could be desired for the next four or five years, yet as the store is to be built for all time, the Department can ultimately depend upon a good railway service.
Mr. Kendall assured me that there would be no difficulty in bringing in a siding from thebranch line to the upper portion of the land as well as to the lower portion of the land, so that the Stores could have the benefit of a siding at the back of the land near Charlesstreet, and also on the front of the land alongside the canal. The estimated cost of the main siding is £2,500. I would not, however, be surprised if it cost up to £4,000. The canalfront siding would cost probably about: £1,500.
The water frontage, although of limited benefit in peace time, is and may become, especially in the future and during the war, a distinct advantage. The QuartermasterGeneral and Mr. Brown, the Dirctor of Stores, were both of the ‘opinion that water carriage would not be used to any extent except for big loads or heavy material, which are of rather rare occurrence. In time of war, however, when full brigades may be sent away by sea, water carriage would be of great service, as full barge loads of goods could be despatched with much greater promptitude than by motor lorry or horse waggon; and this particular advantage, no doubt, is a,very important one from the military point of view. At present U feet of water is available in the canal, which, however, will need occasional dredging, especially at the mouth, which is liable to be silted up. The Department would have to bear part of the cost of such dredging, but that would not be a heavy charge.
The site is practically the only site obtainable with’ such an area upon the harbor frontage, and with railway accommodation.
The site is within a few minutes’ walk of the Leichhardt tram.
A supply of electricity for power, cranes, and elevators can be obtained from the Balmain Electric Company’s supply, or possibly from the Railway Commissioners, who are now laying on wires to the State Public Works store adjoining.
The site will be as central as most others that could be obtained for the delivery of goods from Sydney factories, which are scattered over a wide area. Although I would have preferred to have been able to make longer and more extended inquiries as to the possibility of other and cheaper sites, and to nave made myself more thoroughly acquainted with all the requirements of the Ordnance Department and Army Service Corps, I am of the opinion, from the general information I have gathered, that it is highly improbable that the Department will be able to obtain any better site, or one more, generally suitable for the purposes of an ordnance store of similar area, with the same advantages, or at less cost than the estimate of £20,000, even allowing for the added expenditure of levelling, filling in, and piling. I recommend the Honorable the Minister to resume the full’ area mentioned.
Regarding the necessity for our pushing on with these stores, there can be no doubt whatever. We shall have to maintain huge- stocks for many years to come. Not merely for. the period of the war, but until demobilization is completed, we shall have to clothe our troops and to provide them with boots and other requisites. If at any future period Australia is again menaced by war, we shall require these stores, and we shall also need them in peace times for the storage of goods for our Citizen Forces. The present site at Paddington is a most un suitable one. Nobody who is familiar with Sydney will argue for a moment that we should erect Ordnance Stores there. That site is not near the water, the haulage is very expensive, and altogether the position is not a desirable one. It is advisable, therefore, that we should commence operations in a place which is suitable. At Long Cove w© have an opportunity to acquire vacant land,- and, consequently, we shall not have to pay heavy compensation in connexion with the demolition of buildings. The site is alongside the water frontage, and this will enable .lighters to bring goods from vessels right up to the stores. It is also adjacent to a railway, -and is within 1^ miles of one of the biggest marshalling yards around Sydney. By erecting Ordnance Stores there we shall have a cheap means of concentrating the goods that are manufactured in Sydney, and we shall be in a position to bring in stores from abroad, and to disburse throughout the country from this centre goods from overseas. Altogether, the site is an ideal one. The only objection which I can conceive to it is that which has been raised elsewhere, namely, that we are taking over a public park. But only in a technical sense’ is this land a public park. Our officer, who reported upon it on a Saturday afternoon, says that it was not being used for recreation purposes by a single individual at the time of his visit.
– It was raining on that Saturday afternoon.
– No. I understand that the State Government are quite willing to meet the Leichhardt Council in this matter. Mr. Ashworth told ‘ Colonel Sands that any money which the New South Wales Government received from the Commonwealth for this land they were quite willing to hand over to the Leichhardt Council to enable it to purchase a suitable park site within its own boundaries. The money that would be derived from this resumption will be sufficient for that purpose. This particular site was never intended for a public park - it was simply reserved for governmental purposes.
– Can the Minister give us any idea of the magnitude of the Ordnance Stores proposed to be erected there, and of their cost?
– I cannot, because we wish to take advantage of the latest information in regard to Ordnance Stores,
At the present time one of the chief officers of our Ordnance staff - I refer to Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson - is on his way to England, and we have arranged with the British Ambassador at Washington that he shall be afforded an opportunity of looking over the various Ordnance Stores in the United States of America. Colonel Wilson also intends to see the latest Ordnance Stores in Great Britain, and in due course he will forward to the Commonwealth Government all particulars regarding these establishments and their equipment. We intend to take advantage of the experience of those countries which have handled this question on bigger lines than we propose to handle it. Associated with Colonel Wilson is Mr. Kirkpatrick, an architect, who will report upon the nature and class of . buildings which should be erected. Until we get the reports of these officers it is obviously impossible for me to give an estimate of the cost of the proposed buildings. But the estimated cost of the resumption of the land is somewhere in the neighbourhood of £20,000. I do not know that these figures havebeen checked by a reliable land valuer as yet. They merely represent the departmental estimate.
– I am going to ask the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to agree to postpone theo second reading of this Bill until the Public Works Committee have thoroughly investigated the whole question of Ordnance Stores. Last evening, I purposely called for a division on the motion for the first reading of the measure, because I object to these stores being started without the Committee to which I have referred first investigating the. entire matter. We are asked to sanction the establishment of permanent Ordnance Stores in Sydney. I estimate that the military stores in this particular vicinity will cost about £250,000. Now, I do not think that we should put the cart before the horse. If a huge undertaking, which will cost £250,000, must subsequently be inquired into by the Public Works Committee, will it not be wise to have it inquired into now?
– Wihat will become of the land in the meantime?
– The land will remain where it is.
– But the landsharper will not continue inactive.
– The Public Works Committee was created for the express purpose of investigating works of this character, in order that they might be placed above suspicion. If, as the Minister for Defence has stated, certain officers have gone abroad for the purpose of collecting the latest information in regard to Ordnance Stores, manifestly there is no particular hurry why a single foot of this land should be resumed - more espcially as it is a public park - until after the whole matter has been inquired into by the Public Works Committee. Suppose that that body investigated it, and reported that the site was unsuitable for the purpose for which it is proposed to acquire it. What would then be the position? We should be faced with the task of unloading the land again after we had resumed it.
I have read the report of the Royal Commission on the Defence Department. It gave ample ammunition to any one in opposition who wanted to fire off at the Government, and particularly at the Minister for Defence; but when I read it I was really sorry that its authors were taken seriously. They had not the breadth of outlook necessary, nor even a fairly wide grip of the. business of the Department. I have never publicly or privately commended the report, or spoken one word in criticism of the Government upon it. I was asked for an interview on it, and declined to give it. That is what I thought of that Commission. When I hear them complain that there are two-and-a-half pairs of boots already made for every soldier we have under arms, and characterize this as a waste of public expenditure, and that there are 1,000 waggons’, worth £90 a waggon- in hand in an Ordnance Store in a Department like this, I cannot take them seriously. If we were attacked tomorrow that quantity would not be half enough. Reports of that kind counteract the whole value of the reports as to the advisability of taking up this land.
The proposal I have to put before the Government is this - and I know it will be received with suspicion because I am leading the Opposition - that the whole scheme be submitted to the Public
Works Committee before any steps are taken. If that is done no delay will take place, and no injury will be done to any one. No one can then whisper in the ears of individuals and members as is being done now, nor can any one publicly abuse the Government for undertaking & huge work which is surrounded by suspicious circumstances. Is there any good reason why this matter should not be referred to the Public Works Committee? It is the beginning of a great undertaking, on which it is fair to estimate that at least £250,000 of public money will be expended. Is it not reasonable, fair, and just to ask the Government to hold their hand until the Public Works Committee has investigated the whole project? I assure Ministers that I am not hinting in any sense at a desire on their part to rush the thing through, or to undertake anything that is not fair and above-board; but there is more than one whisper going round Sydney at the present time in regard to this land. Ministers will say, perhaps justly, that I have no right to mention these things unless I have proof. I have no proof, but Parliament created a Public Works Committee, whose business it is to investigate any public work costing over a certain sum.
– I have already told you that this work will be referred to the Committee.
SenatorGARDINER.-Did the Minister mean that the inquiry would take place before any land was purchased?
– The resumption of land has never yet been referred to any Works Committee.
– The merits of sites have.
– Yes, but only in the case of two sites, on Government land at Kembla.
– I shall endeavour to approach this matter in such a reasonable frame of mind that the Minister will not think I am simply trying to viciously oppose the proposal. I am just as much in earnest as he is about the proper housing of stores, but this is a proposal that on his own showing means the permanent Ordnance Stores for Sydney, the biggest centre in the Commonwealth, and the place that, until Queensland develops, will probably be the largest defence centre in the Commonwealth for many years to come. At the very beginning of the proposal I understand that the Government have already resumed private land that they think they require, and the only reason why Parliament is told of the matter is that the Act prevents us taking over park lands without the sanction of Parliament. I understand that on some part of the land already resumed from twenty-five to twenty-eight small cottages are standing. These are to be pulled down. Should not the Public Works Committee investigate that matter before any steps are taken? If the Minister is going to carry the whole thing through without the intervention of the Public Works Committee, the Senate will probably support him; but if we are to have a Committee that justifies its existence, the whole matter should be referred to it before a shilling is expended either in resuming land or taking over park lands for a purpose of which the Committee may disapprove. There never was a better case for reference to it. As regards the land already resumed, . let me remind honorable senators of the already overcrowded state of Sydney so far as the housing of its people is concerned. If over twenty-five small cottages are to be wiped out of existence at a time when building is twice as dear as on ordinary occasions, it will have a serious effect on the housing problem. That is a factor which must be taken into consideration. The task of pulling down portion of Sydney was recently undertaken. It was a thing that had to come, and the work has been well done. The streets are being widened, and the city improved; but it has been a serious matter to the people who had to find housing somewhere, and has constituted a grave menace to public health. We cannot lightly undertake to put from twenty-five to twenty-eight families out of their homes at a time when building material is exceptionally dear, and when building generally for housing purposes, particularly as regards the working classes, is not keeping pace with the natural increase of the community. These are the very factors that a Public Works Committee can and should investigate. Instead of the Government wanting to get on with the buying of the land, they should welcome the opportunity for a proper inquiry. If they want to hold the land, they can well give notice in the Gazette of their intention to resume whatever land they like, and then future speculators would purchase with the knowledge that the Government were going to resume.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) says that the New South Wales Government declared part of the area a park after the Commonwealth Government had begun operations with a view to resumption. If that action on the part of the New South Wales Government took place at the ordinary rate at which Government business - State and Federal - generally proceeds, it must be some years since the State authorities took the first steps to dedicate this land as a park. If the State Government have taken that action, the Commonwealth Go-‘ vernment are. in no worse a position, because they will take the land over at a valuation. If it is known that the land is wanted for this purpose, the action of any bogus or real purchasers who want to sell to get the Government price need not affect the issue, because the price “will be settled in Court, or by arbitration. . Any person who feels aggrieved at the price offered can appeal, and attempts to exploit the Government can be exposed. I recognise the difficulties that the Government always experience when they want to secure any essential property, because there are in the community wealthy syndicates always on the look out for an opportunity to make money out of the Government. That, however, is an evil which should be grappled with in the proper way, and not by means of a hurried run to try to get ahead of them. We are in a position to get ahead of them now, and I ask the Government, in a most friendly manner, to submit the whole proposal to the Public Works Committee before any further steps are taken. If they do not regard that as a reasonable request, we shall have to put up the best “ scrap “ we can to prevent the transaction going through ; but I earnestly hope the Government will allow the matter to stand, where it is, and immediately table a motion on the lines I, have indicated, including the submission to the Committee of the question of the acquisition of the site itself. From what I have heard, £11,000 is the price paid for the land on which the cottages which will have to be pulled down, stand. That will, of course, cover the value of the cottages, because they are of the poorer class of tenement. Taking into consideration the other land already resumed, the expenditure involved would exceed the amount which this Parliament has stipulated shall not be expended without a reference of the proposal to the Public Works Committee.
I am aware that a vigorous attack was made .upon this measure in another place on the ground that it was a proposal to rob the people of a recreation reserve. I am very glad that such an attack was made. I am sure that the Minister for Defence does not resent criticism of that kind. He must feel that it is a serious matter to resume lands which might be used for recreation purposes by children in crowded centres, even for Commonwealth public purposes. We should move circumspectly before resuming such lands. All these considerations compel me to ask the Government to make haste slowly in this matter. I appeal to the Minister for Defence to agree that as soon as the second reading of the Bill is dealt with the whole matter shall be referred to the Public Works Committee. That is not too much to ask, nor is it too much for a fair-minded Government to concede. If the Minister is prepared to accept that suggestion, I shall be willing to let the matter go at once. I do not care if the second reading of the Bill be carried, provided that no steps are taken to expend public money on the site which may .hereafter be found to be unsuitable for the purpose for which it has been resumed.
I am not bringing these objections forward with a view to delaying action by the Government. I remind honorable senators that the existing Ordnance Stores have carried us through three years of the war, though at times we have had 20,000 recruits in & month or a couple of months, and supplies have been provided not only for the recruits pouring in, but for those who it was anticipated would be brought in under the compulsory system advocated by the Government, if that had been accepted by the people. If the Ordnance Stores at Sydney met that strain, I am quite sure that they will be able to meet the strain of the next few months, during which a full inquiry into this matter might be made. I have heard the statement made that the Paddington Barracks are situated on an ideal site for the administrative business of the Defence Department.
– I quite agree that that site is ideal for administrative purposes.
– One can scarcely deal with a matter of this kind without having some regard to rumour, and there are rumours in Sydney at the present time that the Paddington Barracks are to be sold, and that the Ordnance Stores at Circular Quay, and the property at Pyrmont are also to be sold, though we know that the present is not a good time for selling property. My information is that with the expenditure of sufficient money to renovate existing residences, and construct and equip proper public offices, the military barracks at Paddington might be made very suitable for administrative purposes.
– That is so, and so far as I know it is intended to retain them for that purpose.
– I am very glad to hear that. I do not fer a moment suggest that they have the ear of the Minister for Defence, but there are somepeople who imagine that they have certain influence in this country, and who are already drawing up plans of what they propose to do. This is one of the strongest reasons I have for asking that this whole matter shall be referred to the Public Works Committee. If this were done, and people who claim to have certain knowledge will not come forward and disclose it to the Committee, the Minister for Defence will have an excellent answer to the rumours which are current. He will be able to say, “ Here is a Committee inviting people to give evidence, and they have no evidence to give.” I say frankly that I have no evidence to give; but I have heard a great deal of rumour connected with this matter, and if I were in the position of the Minister for Defence, I should not hesitate for a moment to submit the whole proposal to the investigation of the Public Works Committee. The investigation should take place before any land is resumed. I understand that a considerable amount of money has already been expended in connexion with the proposal. We are told that the site has a water frontage. That may be; but honorable senators should understand that it has not a water frontage upon which a wharf might he constructed, at which ships could load and unload stores. There is a bridge over the water at the site, and it is not a swing bridge, and ships could not get under it to bring stores to the site.
– Is it above the Iron Cove Bridge?
– I believe so.. The fact that the site faces the water does not make it possible for vessels bringing stores to Australia to unload them there.
I ask the Minister for Defence whether’ he will agree, after the second reading of the Bill is passed, to refer the whole proposal to the Public Works Committee?
– Would the honorablesenator be satisfied with an assurance that, if the Bill were passed giving the power to resume the land, there would beno money expended without inquiry?
– If I receive a definite assurance from the Minister for Defence that no money will be expended in the resumption of lands, or for other purposes connected with the establishment of Ordnance Stores until the matter has been investigated by the PublicWorks Committee, I shall be satisfied to allow the second reading to go.
– There seems to be some necessity for such a Bill; but it might not be put into operation immediately it was passed.
- Senator Earle will agree that it is necessary to have a Public Works Committee, and that this is peculiarly a case which should be investigated by that Committee. I have no doubt that other honorable senators will have something to say on the motion for the second reading of the Bill ; but if the Minister will give me an assurance that nothing will be done in the direction of purchasing land or resuming land until the matter has been investigated by the Public Works Committee, I shall be prepared to let it rest at that. If the Minister is not prepared to concede that, I intend to move, as an amendment, that the second reading of the measure be made an Order of the Day for the 1st August, 1918. That will give the Government ample time in which to have an investigation made into the proposal. The Public Works Committee is a body which has been called into existence at the cost of a good deal of money to this country. I say here that the Committee has done a great deal of work for the money, and has saved the community a great deal of money. Here we have an opportunity to enable the Committee to save further money by making an investigation into this matter. The lands proposed to be. resumed are reclaimed lands, on which there were formerly rubbish tips, and we know how they are made up. This means that it will be necessary to sink, not 2 or 3 feet, but, it may be, 40 or 50 feet, to reach a good foundation. This will involve expense for concrete foundations, and these are all matters which should be investigated by the Public Works Committee, a competent tribunal, some of the members of which were selected by the Senate.
– They were not appointed in connexion with the purchase of land.
– Why follow a slavish fashion? Why not make a precedent?
– There is no slavish fashion about the Public Works Committee. Such a Committee was first brought into existence in the State from, which I come, and its primary purpose was to investigate railway routes. There was much scandal caused by the fact that railways were constructed to suit private convenience rather than the interests of the community. Syndicates were interested in the choice of certain routes when ‘better routes were available. Now, before the Government of New South Wales constructs a foot of railway, the various routes proposed for it are investigated by the Public Works Committee. In the same way, I think that it should be the duty of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee to investigate sites proposed to be resumed by the Commonwealth for Ordnance Stores or for railway purposes. One who knows Sydney as well as I do might suggest better sites for Ordnance Stores than that dealt with in this Bill. I venture to say that if modern buildings, eight or ten stories high, were constructed on the site of the present stores at Circular Quay or Pyrmont, where there are good foundations of solid rock, we might have stores which would meet all our requirements at once. But, apparently, we must go outside to secure acres of land for the purpose. It may suit the Defence Department and also the people of Australia. But I wish the whole business to be investigated by the proper tribunal called into existence for the purpose.
I have tried to induce the Minister to accept my proposal, but failing his acceptance of it I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the Bill be read a second time on 1st August, 1918.”
I am quite reluctant to move that amendment, and I can assure the Minister for Defence that I would much prefer his simple assurance that the proposal will be referred to the Public Works Committee. So far as interference with the business of the Government is concerned, I merely take the steps necessary to emphasize my objection to the Bill going through under present conditions.
– I will give the honorable senator the assurance that no buildings will be pulled down, and nothing will be done to commence the work in any way until the matter has been referred to the Public Works Committee. But it is necessary that this Bill should go through.
– That is merely burking the issue. Why is it necessary that .this Bill should go through ? Surely the Government do not think that anybody is going to interfere with the park lands in the meantime?
– There is nothing to prevent any State Government dealing with it in the meantime.
– They may, but we ought to look at this matter in the light of the probabilities, not the improbabilities.
– I am looking at it in the light of probabilities.
– I cannot imagine that, if this matter is held up for investigation by the Public Works Committee, the Government of New South Wales will put this land to any other use, or throw any obstacle in the way of the Government acquiring it. If there is any danger of that course ‘ of action, would not a notice in the Commonwealth Gazette of intention to resume the land meet the case, and prevent any interference with the purpose of the Commonwealth ?
– What would be’- the use of publishing a notice in the Gazette if there were not power to enforce iti
– I like the easy manner in which the honorable senator presents difficulties. Does he mean to tell the Senate that the Defence Department, in time of war, is powerless to enforce its demands?
– Action could not be taken without this Bill.
– If honorable senators are in that frame of mind, and if they advance such flimsy pretexts as that, I do not feel disposed to argue with them. Do they mean to say that while a state of war exists the Government would not be able to make provision for Ordnance Stores? What nonsense it is to advance an argument like that ! The Government could give notice of resumption, and they might have to pay for the land, but they could not be compelled to pay an exorbitant price for it.
– In this case, before action could be taken, we would have to amend the Lands Acquisition Act.
– Then let the Government amend the Lands Acquisition Act.
– That is what we are asking Parliament to do.
– The Government are doing nothing of the sort. Let me tell honorable senators that they would not have been admitted into the confidence of Ministers if itf had not been necessary to bring this Bill before the Senate. This is practically the first intimation we have had of a big scheme projected for Ordnance Stores in New South Wales.
– It would have come up in the Works Bill in a few days.
– I am glad to have that assurance from, the Minister, but that is all the more reason why the Public Works Committee be given an opportunity to investigate.
I do not want to argue strenuously on this matter. I think we have made out an excellent case for inquiry before anything is done; but if the Minister will not give me an assurance that he will allow the matter to stand in abeyance, I shall be forced to submit the amendment I have already indicated. If honorable members opposite think there is notreasonable ground for an inquiry, I do not ask them to vote for the amendment; but if, on the other hand, they can see reasonable ground for an investigation, then I invite their support. In my opinion, the expenditure on resumption and buildings will amount to quite £250,000. That is an important consideration, and is good reason why this matter should be referred to the Public Works Committee. How can we justify such an expenditure at the present time when the Commonwealth and State Treasurers are spending anxious nights wondering where the money for ordinary and war services is to come from.
– The only estimates I have amount to about one-fifth of what the honorable senator is quoting. The matter will, however, be referred to the Public Works Committee.
– Does the Minister think that the land can be purchased and the necessary buildings erected for £50,000? The purchase of twentyeight cottages with the land will cost in the vicinity of £11,000.
– I am not referring to land resumption.
– The land is going to cost £30,000.
– We are really very much in the dark as to what the cost will be. As one with a fair knowledge of the requirements of the Defence Department .in ordnance matters, and with a reasonable knowledge of .the cost of buildings, particularly at the present time, I would venture to place my estimate of £250,000 against the Minister’s estimate of £50,000. It does not matter, however, if this proposal costs £50,000 or £250,000, the principle is exactly the same, and the question certainly is one which ought to go on to the Public Works Committee for investigation. This is’ one of the case3 which the Public Works Committee was called into existence to deal with, and yet the Government are refusing to submit it to that body.
– That is not correct.
– I say it is.
– I have said that we are going to refer it to the Public Works Committee.
– But the Government have already spent large sums of money on the resumption of private land, and the only reason for appealing to Parliament now is that the whole area cannot be acquired under’ the Lands Acquisition Act. Therefore I ask honorable senators - though I know these matters are usually decided upon party lines - whether, in view of the value of money at the present time, it is wise to spend from £250,000 upwards, or, as the Minister for Defence likes to put it, from £50,000 upwards, on a proposal of this sort, when our commitments are so heavy and the difficulty of obtaining money is so great.
All these matters should be threshed out before the Public Works Committee, the special tribunal we have created for that particular purpose; but if honorable senators will not support me in the step I am taking - if they will merely consider my action as the tactics of a member of the Opposition - they are welcome to do so. I assure them, however, that I approach this question with a sincere desire that the Minister himself may have the advantage of a recommendation from the Public Works Committee before anything further is done. I approach it also in order that the public may have an opportunity of knowing exactly what has been done in connexion with land purchase transactions, particularly as regards the New South Wales Government in their connexion with the Commonwealth Government. Some people appear to know -what has been going on. I have no knowledge myself, but I think we cannot be too. careful. N This matter should be sent on to the Public Works Committee, so that its members could investigate the whole transaction with their «yes open. What would be the position if, after investigation, the Public Works Committee, in opposition to the opinion of a perfectly competent officer, said that the present site at Circular Quay was better for ordnance purposes ? In such circumstances this - land at Leichhardt would probably have to be sold at a much lower rate, because the Government would have no -practical use for it. Honorable senators should remember also that we have a very large area at Liverpool, New South Wales, only 21 miles distant from the city. Certainly there is no water frontage there, but there is a railway running into the camp, and with the administrative offices in Sydney, it should be sufficient for all practical military purposes. I do not know what the area at Liverpool is, but I should say that it run’s into several thousand acres. I hope the Minister will correct me if I am not right.
– Thirty or forty thousand acres, I think.
– And with the right to extend over a much bigger area.
– At Liverpool, then, the Government have an area of from 30,000 to. 40,000 acres connected by railway, and with a line right through to Holsworthy, though, the latter has not been opened yet. Yet in face of this fact, they propose to purchase private land elsewhere. It is quite likely that the £50,000 mentioned by the Minister will be quite absorbed before the Government get all the private lands they want for Ordnance Stores at Leichhardt. The site at Liverpool Camp is, as I have said, about 21 miles distant from Sydney,- and railway haulage over the difference in length as compared with the site at Leichhardt would not be very great. I remember that on other occasions the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) has reminded me that I have allowed certain matters to pass without protest, and I am determined henceforth to be very alert. I shall certainly scrutinize very carefully all measures that come before the Senate for the future, so as to place on record my opinion with regard to them.
Now, as I have already pointed out, the Government have an area of 40,000 acres at Liverpool, there are Ordnance Stores at Circular Quay, stores at Pyrmont, and the. barracks at Paddington. The Government are already in possession of a large area of land, and yet they go fishing around buying property from private people for Ordnance Stores at Leichhardt, where, we are told, there is a water frontage. But I remind the Senate that an intervening bridge will prevent big vessels from going up the river alongside the wharfs to be erected there. I believe that big, well-equipped, up-to-date premises on the water frontage at the site at present owned by the Government is the cheapest way of overcoming any difficulty. The comments made upon the action, of the Government in regard to this matter make one feel uneasy in a public position. I asked one man if he thought the property was all right, and in his reply he said, “ My word it is quite all right for the people who are selling it.” That does not refer to this land, but to land which the Government of New South Wales will resume, and at a later stage transfer to the Commonwealth Government. I say, therefore, that before this matter goes any further, the Public Works Committee should be given an opportunity to investigate the transaction.
– I. second the amendment, but I take a stand different from that assumed by Senator Gardiner. I am opposed to the stealing of these public park lands by the Federal and State Governments. As one who half a century ago was connected with the movement to acquire park lands in this district and collect money from private people for their improvement, I look with horror upon this proposal; and as long as I have breath in my body I shall protest against any Government stealing the lungs of the people. This land for park purposes was reclaimed when harbor improvements were undertaken. Three areas were filled in, reclaimed and dedicated to the people for all time as parks and playgrounds. There is no necessity for this proposal at all. I could find a hundred better sites round Sydney. There is land, within a short distance, which no private firm would think of taking for the erection of a factory. There have been at least 100 factories, to my knowledge, constructed in various parts of Sydney, with respect to which private land in this same, neighbourhood has been offered the proprietors concerned. Those wise business gentlemen, a however, would have none of it. It was to their interest to go along the Parramatta, or along the Lane Cove River, and build their factories on such sites as those, where they could secure water frontages. But here, we have the Commonwealth Government stating that they cannot get another, or a more suitable, site. As a matter of fact, the site is most unsuitable. I was shown over it by Colonel Sands; and, as the result of many years’ experience of the neighbourhood, and my own knowledge of the actual site, I shall fight so long as I have breath against this spoliation of- the people’s parks.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) should see this densely populated working district. Are we going to take away from the children of the many families huddled there the only space they have for a breath of. fresh air? From that neighbourhood, thousands of our soldiers .have gone off to the war; and now, while they are away defending us, the Government are stealing the only park their children have to play in. If the needs of our country were so pressing, I would not care what the Government despoiled; but such is not the case to-day. The present Ordnance Stores at Darling Island are built on one of the best sites in Sydney Harbor. I spent many years there, and I know that it is based on solid rock. Ordnance Stores could be built as high’ as one wished, and made to suit all modern requirements for rapid and cheap handling of stores. But this site the Government propose to sell, and remove to Leichhardt. As for the site which the Government have chosen, it is filled-in land with a mud foundation. The water frontage is nothing better than a sewer. The Public Works Committee of New South Wales took portion of this same area, but they could not erect a good building upon it. Yet the Minister for Defence says he will listen to nobody and to nothing, but will have that park. If he notifies that he is going to have it, I realize that I cannot stop him; but I shall protest, and remind him of the promise given to the soldiers when they left, that the park lands would not be stolen from their inheritance.
There is another park on Wide Bay, not far from the site. Rather, it was at one time a public park, but is now the site of .Glebe Island wharf accommodation. The neighbouring residents paid for the levelling of that land and then the authorities said, “ You will not be wanting all that area” - after which the people lost the water frontage. It was leased for private timber-yards, and the public were informed that the back portion would do for them. Now, however, the railways have got the lot, and there is not 1 foot of water . frontage to which the people can go for fresh air. The same thing will hold good in respect to this present site. The Public Works Department of New South Wales has already stolen half .of the reserve, and now the
Commonwealth Government are about to steal the remaining half. Every bit of park lands taken from the people, for whatever purpose, is a step in the wrong direction. We are advancing backwards. The Minister informs us that no protest has been heard from the Leichhardt Council. Senator Pratten received a communication from that body, and he was told that the reason ,why they had not more vigorously fought the matter was that they thought negotiations had reached such a stage that there would be no use in objecting. They believed, too, that nothing they could do would be effective, seeing that the Government could: seize the land under the War Precautions Act.
– What about the statement of Colonel Sands, that he spoke with the council, and attended a special meeting where they did not protest?
– The pro- posal of the council is that if the Commonwealth will take the old burying ground situated in the centre of the district, and remove the dead bodies and undertake certain other necessary improvements, they will be satisfied.
If the Commonwealth Government are to receive £40,000 or £50,000 for the Darling Island site, and £40,000 for the Circular Quay site, it would be no more than fair to acquiesce and convert the old burying ground into a worthy public reserve. In the thickly-populated portions of Sydney, there is scarcely anything in the way of lungs for the people to-day. In other parts of the world we read of closely-packed building areas being cleared, and open spaces thus provided; yet we, a young nation, are doing the very opposite. I view with horror and disgust any Government that will despoil the people of their’ public parks, particularly in such a district as that in question.
– The proposal of Senator Gardiner should be accepted by the Government. He does not actually oppose the project, but he very properly asks that it should be investigated by a competent tribunal. Surely, that is a reasonable request. Honorable senators have not been furnished with sufficient information to fully qualify them to come to a decision. It is not reasonable that, just because the Government have the numbers, we should be compelled to accept the position. The Senate should have been supplied with lithographs, so that we might know just where the reserve is. Personally, I have visited Leichhardt Park on more than one occasion, and I know the locality well. The park lands in that neighbourhood are very limited, and, if for no other reason, therefore, we should not rob the residents of that closely populated area of this small breathing space. It is’ only a matter of some 5 acres, but when it is considered that there is no other open ground in the suburb - which has a population of probably over 20,000 - the proposal requires, at any rate, - much anxious thought.
– Sydney is the best city in Australia for public parks and similar spots.
– I refer to the Leichhar’dt district, where, so far as I know, there are no park lands other than this. I have no knowledge of the depth of the water at this site; but, if it is not very deep at present, the trouble and cost of dredging should not be particularly great. I would be much surprised to learn that it is otherwise than a very easily dredged area to a considerable depth. That would mean, however, that it would (be impossible, without going to great expense, to erect substantial buildings. The reclamation of the low-lying areas around Sydney has proceeded for years, and it has been almost always the case that for some reason or another the Government have succeeded in robbing local residents of areas which they believed were reserved as public parks.
– But the people’s representatives in the council have not objected, here.
– I know that Senator Pratten has a protest from the. local residents, and that their objection would have been much more energetic but that they were under the impression ihat the Government could do as they liked under the War Precautions Regulations. This is the only water frontage in Leichhardt the approach to which is over vacant land. But just across the canal there is a fairly substantial area of similar land. I do not know to whom it belongs, but if the Commonwealth expends a large sum upon this particular site, the value of that land will be enormously increased. That, however, is another matter. The mere fact that hitherto land resumptions have not been referred to the Public Works Committee should not influence honorable senators to oppose the adoption of that course on the present occasion. The Minister has not told us the number of Ordnance Stores that are in existence in Sydney at . the present time.
– I said that there are twenty-five places where stores are kept.
– Within the metropolitan area there are twenty-five places at which Ordnance stores are housed. If these new Stores are to be erected, presumably the buildings at Darling Harbor and Circular Quay will be closed. That is an additional reason why the matter should be referred to the Public Works Committee. The resumption of the land, the erection of the Stores, and, indeed, everything connected with the matter, will then be placed above suspicion. But if the Government persist in their present attitude, it will not be above suspicion. 1 do not give heed to many rumours that I hear, but I should like to know whether the Government contemplate resuming any other land in the immediate vicinity of this site. Have they acquired any other lands within this particular area? If this information is not forthcoming, the people will draw their own conclusions. There are, I think, about thirty-eight cottages on this land, which, I learned for the first time to-day, has been resumed by the Government at a cost of £11,000. That question also, in my opinion, should have been referred to the Public Works Committee. I would further point out that it will cost an enormous sum to carry the railway to this land, to take it around a loop, and to connect it again with the main line.
Honorable senators upon this side of th© chamber do not object to the erection of these Ordnance Stores provided that the proposal is first referred to the Public Works Committee. I do not believe it can be shown that this site is the only suitable one in the neighbourhood which is possessed of a water frontage. I believe that there are hundreds of sites available, and in justice to the Government themselves the entire question should be investigated by the Public Works Committee.
– I would point out to honorable senators opposite that the private lands in this area have already been resumed. Notices have been given under the Lands Acquisition Act, ‘ and, consequently, the Government have resumed the land. This Bill is merely for the purpose of authorizing the Commonwealth to acquire a particular park.
– Do the Government _ contemplate resuming any other lands in the neighbourhood?
– No. This Bill refers only to the particular site: under discussion. I wish to give honorable senators opposite the assurance that before *any other steps are taken the question of the erection of Ordnance Stores upon it will be referred to the Public Works Committee.
– But not the site ?
– No. But it will be perfectly competent for that Committee to express an opinion as to whether the site is a suitable one or not. Suppose that body said that, in its judgment, it was an unsuitable one. What would happen? The Government would then have to shoulder the responsibility of determining whether they would proceed with the erection of the buildings or not.
– Surely the Government would not proceed with them in those circumstances.
– They might, and they might not. If the Government chose to take up an attitude antagonistic to the view of the Public Works Committee, it would be open to them to do so. But I do not anticipate that such a position will arise. The procedure that we are adopting on this occasion is exactly the procedure which has been adopted in regard to other works. It is the necessary procedure if we are to safeguard the public interests. Just imagine what would happen if the Public Works Committee were engaged for weeks inquiring into the advisableness or otherwise of acquiring a particular site while the gentle land speculator was busy securing all the land available in the immediate neighbourhood. Honorable senators opposite have referred to rumours which they have heard. May I tell them of one rumour which I have heard ? . It is that, no sooner were our notices posted on this land, than immediate steps were taken for the erection of a. house upon it, and the carpenters actually worked on the building throughout Sunday. We took particular notice of that circumstance, and if the matter goes into Court we shall be able to bring evidence that this building was rushed up.
– Was it not a building which was erected by voluntary effort for returned soldiers?
– I cannot say. At’ any rate, we intend to keep a record of the fact in case there is a claim made for it. I only mention this matter to show how impracticable it would be to refer proposed resumptions of land to the Public Works Committee. Suppose that that Committee adopted the view that this particular site was not a suitable one. What would happen ? The Government would have to accept the responsibility either of indorsing or rejecting its recommendation. We have protected the interests of the taxpayer by resuming the land at its then value, and not at its speculative value. Consequently, we would at least have a chance of selling it at the price which was paid for it. In regard to the park, we should merely have to re-transfer it to the State. That is the only matter with which we are asked to deal in this Bill. We cannot accept the amendment of Senator Gardiner, because we hold that the power of the Public Works Committee will be in no way interfered with by the action of the Government. I wish once more to renew the assurance I have previously given, that it is the intention of the Ministry, as soon as this Bill is through, and the necessary data are available - but before any money is expended upon construction - that the Public Works Committee shall have an opportunity of inquiring into the matter.
– Cannot the Minister allow that Committee to investigate the site?
– Not at this juncture. But it can inquire into that question when it is inquiring into the other matter. I agree with honorable senators opposite that the Public Works Committee should investigate that phase of the question as well as the question of the erection of buildings. But I do not agree with them . that that is a reason why we should not put this Bill through. If the Public Works. Committee were to say that this is not a suitable site for Ordnance Stores, I repeat that the Government would then have to decide the matter for themselves, and to accept full responsibility for their determination.
– How much land has already been resumed by the Government?
– About 5 acres, I understand.
– Private land ?
– This Bill does not deal with private land.
– Why not allow the matter to remain in abeyance for the present?
– Because there is nothing to be gained by doing so. Apparently all that my honorable friends will gain, if the amendment be carried, will be a Pyrrhic visctory over the Government. If they take up the attitude that the Government will not be prejudiced by such a victory, what is the object of the amendment ?
– What is the good of putting the Bill through?
– The Government will have done with it then. The Public Works Committee will be sitting, and may make its report, when Parliament is in recess. In that case the Government will have the authority to proceed, knowing that it has the indorsement of that body. But if the Bill be not passed, we shall have to wait for another session of Parliament, and then obtain authority to resume this land. The resumption of the land will not prejudice the Public Works Committee, the Government, Parliament, or the State. Therefore, no harm can be done by carrying the Bill.
– If a stranger had been listening to the discussion, particularly to the remarks of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), without knowing which side was which, he could have come to iio other conclusion than that the Minister was advancing reasons in support of Senator Gardiner’s amendment. On both occasions he stressed the danger of the possible operation of land sharks in relation to the private lands already acquired by the Commonwealth. If those lands have already been acquired in the ordinary routine of procedure under the Lands Acquisition Act, what scope is there for land sharks to operate for their own financial betterment, or to the detriment of the Commonwealth and its future purchasing power?
– None whatever.
– The honorable senator is quite right. The Minister also said the Bill dealt only with the acquisition of park land. We know it. What connexion then is there between the passage of the Bill and land jobbing outside? Again, none whatever. I shall support the amendment, and should have voted against the Bill-
– That position of safety has been created by the Government acting without referring the resumption to the Public Works Committee. If we had referred it to the Committee first, where should we have been?
– The Government have power now to resume under the Lands Acquisition Act.
– And we have done it.
– But this Bill raises a different question, inasmuch as it applies only to park, lands.
– Senator Gardiner suggested that we should refer all resumptions to the Public Works Committee before we resume.
– If ‘ the responsible task of acting as financial advisers to the Government, and arranging for the purchase of land, for the Government in such a way that the sellers should not know that the Government were operating, were handed over to the Public Works Committee, no doubt they would take steps to discharge the duty properly. I hear a sort of sneer from one honorable senator on the other side. Let me tell him that, in Queensland, thousands of pounds have been saved by the Government in purchasing property through the instrumentality of private persons without allowing owners, to know the sale was being made to the Government.
– If that task was given to the Public Works Committee, your argument would fall to the ground, because it would be impossible to preserve secrecy. ‘
– If ever the time comes to change the policy of Parliament by submitting land acquisition to the Public Works Committee, no one will expect the Committee to make its inquiries openly and publish them to the world. They will go about their business like any private individual, and change their methods tlo suit the object they have in view. I should have voted against the Bill, because I am opposed to the disposition on the part of the Government, by legislation and otherwise, to make inroads into the public parks of the Commonwealth. We, in Queensland, have a right to feel keenly on that question, because we know how deficient Brisbane is in that regard. Sydney is more forunate, but Sydney has a much greater population.
I understand that the land dealt with by the Bill is part of the Leichhardt Park. Let me cite a case where the Government by Executive minute, and without legislation, acquired about 15 acres of park land in Sydney, temporarily as they say, for the purpose of Wool storage. In company with the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace), I went on Monday of last week to see what was happening at Wentworth Park, Sydney. We saw magnificent ‘fig trees being hewed to the ground, and a huge fence, 6 feet high, being run round 15 acres of the park. Our experience was different from that of the military authority who reported to Senator Pearce that when he visited the Leichhardt Park on Saturday afternoon he saw no children. When we walked through Wentworth Park, which was already under resumption by the Federal Government, without the knowledge of the local bodies until the deed was actually done, we saw over 100 little children playing in the corner of the park which is left to them. We may reasonably assume, therefore, that the acquisition of the park at Leichhardt will interfere with the rights of the citizens in that locality. I can quite understand that the business men who sent reports to the Minister expressed the opinion that it was a most desirable, site for the establishment of military stores, or any other phase of commercialism: No doubt, it is most desirable, viewed through their spectacles. The powerful and influential gentlemen who are thus asked to report, and who gave that verdict, have not to live in those localities. They live in the ultra-suburban parts, where they have their comfortable houses in the midst of their wide acres, and oan reach them in their motor cars. They do not dwell in the residential terraces adjacent to these parks, which they would sooner see utilized for the rapacious march of commercialism. It is quite natural to expect them to say, “ Yes, Mr. Minister, a most estimable position for the establishment of military stores. Never mind the people who reside about there. They are only workers. Their children, being of the common clay, are not entitled to play in the open spaces in the midst of the city.”
– Are not the Government going to find them another park in the next place? All your sentiment goes for nothing.
– They are not doing so in Wentworth Park, where they are taking away 15 out of the 20 acres, and confining the children to the one remaining corner. It is reasonable to assume that when once commercialism is established in Wentworth or any other park, its occupation will be permanent, and not temporary. The Government are putting up buildings in Wentworth Park now. No doubt the same applies to Leichhardt Park, and any movement for the recovery ofa park taken in a. so-called temporary sense, although really in a permanent sense, is going to have a very difficult task ahead of it.I am inclined to think the expenditure on this work will be over £50,000, but I am not in a position to make an estimate of £250,000, as Senator Gardiner has done. The whole thing savours of the onward march being pursued in the even tenor of its way in relation to the proposed expenditure of £1,000,000 odd on the Naval Base at Cockburn Sound at this juncture. The Government are making preparation there for, perhaps, fifty years ahead.
In one twelve months’ period since the outbreak of the war, no fewer than 216,000 men were enlisted and equipped. All the necessary providoring operations for their clothing and equipment were carried out at the existing Ordnance Stores. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to contend that the Ordnance Stores already existing in the Commonwealth will suffice for all that is likely to happen during the remainder of the war? I do not think any one is optimistic enough to expect that in another twelve months’ period we shall have a further enlistment totalling 216,000 men, even if we had conscription ten times over. The proposal in the Bill is unwarranted, and the expenditure cannot be justified in view of the achievements of the past. Surely it is fair and reasonable to request that the project be submitted to the Public Works Committee.
– I hear a continual buzz of conversation from the gallery. This prevents honorable senators from hearing the debate. I hope it will not be repeated. If it is I shall have to order that the galleries be cleared.
-When the Minister says-
– Order! Almost immediately after I called attention to the continual buzz of conversation from the press gallery, it was repeated. If there is any further repetition of it, I shall at once order that gallery to be cleared.
– I differ from the Minister’s argument that nothing will be gained by waiting for the Works Committee’s report, and that the judgment of the Committee cannot be prejudiced by the passage of the Bill. On the very face of it, unconsciously perhaps, but none the less surely, the minds of the members of the Committee will be prejudiced when the proposal is placed before them. They will say, “ The park lands have already been acquired, and Parliament has agreed. This changes the whole aspect of the matter.” That fact is almost sure to sway their judgment, and affect their verdict, but if the Committee began the inquiry before the park land had actually been acquired, some of its members, resenting keenly the growing practice of Governments and Parliaments of making inroads into the public parks, may say “ There is not much choice between this and another site, and it is better to take the other site than to deprive the people of Leichhardt of part of their park.” A moment’s consideration of the density of the population around Sydney would be quite enough to make members charged with the responsibility that the Public Works Committee has to bear think twice before they acted.
If there is no hurry, and the Minister has told us that there is to be none, can he adduce any argument in support of the passage of the Bill now ? If he can, he certainly did not, except that the Government wanted the Bill put through. Why? I am not one of those who grasp at straws, but in Sydney on Monday of last week I heard the rumours that are being bruited about. I understand that they originated in some of the clubs in Sydney. They are totally at variance with some parts of the speech made by the Minister this afternoon when introducing the Bill. In fact they were to the effect that the Minister had not the responsibility to the extent that he made out. These are only street rumours, and Mr. Con. Wallace and myself heard them in a club in Sydney. The feeling on this question is very tense in the localities concerned, because they are the only outlets - that is true of Wentworth pane, and I believe Leichhardt park is in the same case - for the residents to get breathing space. They offer the only opportunity for the mothers to go with their children in the morning sun, or in the afternoon when they have the time.- As a member of this Chamber, I shall never give a vote to reduce the breathing areas of our cities.
– We have not many about Brisbane to give away.
– That is why representatives from Queensland feel so keenly upon the matter. We often mention our disabilities in this respect as an answer to the platitudes which we sometimes hear repeated about the good old times before the advent of professional politicians, when men of weight, power, and influence were members of our Parliaments. They have left us some very undesirable legacies in the absence of park lands, and in the adoption of six different railway gauges in the various States of the Commonwealth. Surely this measure is merely a formal procedure, in view of the fact that the Minister for Defence has himself admitted that it will not be necessary to put it into operation for some months, and until data and information to bring Australian knowledge on these matters up to date are received from the United States of America. That is a reason advanced by the Minister himself in support of the amendment moved by Senator Gardiner? I’ hope that honorable senators will carry the amendment.
– What will honorable senators gain by carrying it?
– We shall have a public park at Leichhardt left inviolate until the members of the Public Works Committee report that it should be encroached upon for the purpose of the erection of Ordnance Stores. Even then I should object to the proposal.
– The Minister for Defence has promised that.
– “So ; the Min- ,ister wishes us to ratify the encroachment upon that public park now. I am not prepared to do so.
– Would the honorable senator ‘do so if the Public Work3 Committee recommended it?
– No. I am not going to agree to any encroachment upon our public parks in the interests of commercialism. The action of the Government in erecting Wool Stores in Wentworth Park is a disgrace to the Administration, and an evidence that the Government bow to the powers of wealth and influence outside. I support the amendment, and hope that it will be carried. Too much publicity cannot be given to the objection of the party on this side to the pernicious practice of Governments, encroaching upon public parks.
– As a member of the Public Works Committee, that has been so freely discussed this afternoon, I feel a good deal of diffidence in speaking on this question, because what I have to say may be misunderstood. It may be imputed to me that I am looking for work for the Committee. I owe a duty to Australia as a member of the Senate, and a further duty as a member of the Public Works Committee. I am assuming the responsibility -and risk of any motives that may be imputed to me for what I say this afternoon. In the past, when works have been referred to the Public Works Committee, it has never been the practice to ask the Committee to report on a site or a number of sites. A proposal is made for the erection of a building upon a selected site, plans of the building are prepared, and these are considered by the Public Works Committee. So far as I am aware, in the past no site for any public purpose has been selected by the Public Works Committee.
– Except in the case of the Arsenal site, where there was the question of the choice of one of two sites, both on Government land.
– I believe that, if in the past the Public Works Committee had had the right to select sites, some of those selected, and upon which public works have been constructed, would not have been selected. I find myself very much in accord with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber (Senator Gardiner), that the Minister (Senator Pearce) has in this matter given an assurance which I should like him to emphasize now. If he will assure the Senate that the Public Works Committee will be empowered to make investigations into other sites, possibly at present in possession of the Government, as well as that now suggested, I shall be quite prepared to vote with the Government on this measure. That is the position I take up. Duringall my public life, I have been adverse to any encroachment whatever upon lands dedicated to the people. I was in the South Australian Parliament, and saw the Adelaide park lands filched from the people for tramwaypurposes . I made up my mind then that whenever I had the opportunity I would record a vote against public parks being taken from the people. I intend to be very careful about giving a vote which may interfere in. any way with public parks. That statement might, in the future, be construed into a prejudice on my part against tie acquisition of park lands for public purposes. My duty as a member of the Public Works Committee might make it necessary for me to record a vote against the acquisition of this particular site; and I, therefore, wish to say now that if, in my judgment, it is the best site, or the only site, available, I should have to waive my objection to interfering with the people’s parks, in order that the interests of the country generally should be first considered, especially in view of the fact that we are assured that steps will be taken to make good the loss of this park to the people of the Leichhardt district. Honorable senators coming from States other than New South Wales are at a loss in dealing with this matter, because they have no knowledge of the local surroundings. . They are asked practically to give a vote in the dark so far as the selection of this site is concerned, and this should make them all the more careful in dealing with the matter. I have no doubt that the Government would not seek to acquire a piece of land the acquisition of which would be detrimental to the people in any portion of Sydney, but I want to safeguard myself, and to see that no undue interference is attempted with the public parks in Sydney or elsewhere. If the Minister for Defence will give the Senate an assurance that the Public Works Committee will be authorized to inspect other sites for Ordnance Stores as well as the site at Leichhardt, I shall be prepared to support the Government on this Bill. If the honorable senator will not give that assurance, I shall feel considerably embarrassed in recording a vote on this question.
Question -That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish briefly to reply to the question put to me by Senator Newland. He has asked whether, on behalf of the Government, I can give an assurance that the Public Works Committee will be asked to report on this and other sites. If Senator Newland will consider for a moment he will realize that I could not give an assurance as requested, and thus extend or limit the powers of the Public Works Committee. The functions of that body are laid down in an Act of Parliament, and I have no authority to give any assurance that their powers shall be extended or limited. Particular proposals are referred, by resolution of both Houses, to the Committee, and it rests with that body, after having taken evidence upon them, to say whether they are or are not desirable. They have power to call witnesses and to judge. I am not the judge.
– They have no power to investigate unless a matter is referred to them. Can you not refer the question of sites to them ?
– It was done in the case of the Canberra site.
– No. In that case three sites were selected, and the Public Works Committee were asked to say which was the best.
– But I am talking of the Small Arms Factory.
– The Public Works Committee were not in existence when the Small Arms Factory was established.
– No, but the question of an extension of the Factory was submitted to the Committee, and they recommended that an establishment should be erected at Canberra. That was not referred to them at all.
– The question was whether the Arsenal should be at Lithgow or Canberra, and the Public’ Works Committee were asked to express an opinion on that proposal. But Senator Newland is asking me to give an assurance much wider than that, namely, that the Public Works Committee shall be authorized to make an inquiry as to the most suitable site.
SenatorGardiner. - Is that not a reasonable request?
– But where is the limit to an inquiry of that nature?
– But I added to that request the words “ of lands now held by the Commonwealth.”
– The honorable senator is asking me to give an assurance that the Public Works Committee shall have unlimited authority to inquire as to the site. I point out that officials and experts, who would be called to give evidence before the Public Works Committee, are also at the disposal of the Government, and that, therefore, the Government recommendation as to site would be based on the advice of expert officials, who, in nine cases out of ten, are called by the Public Works Committee to give evidence. I do not propose to say, on behalf of the Government, that the Public Works Committee shall have power to make unlimited inquiries in this way, because that would be a fishing expedition, and we should be unloading the Government responsibility on to the Committee. It is the responsibility of the Government to put forward a definite proposal regarding a site or sites, and to approach Parliament to obtain authority for an investigation and report by the Public Works Committee. This, then, is a Government proposal, and, so far as Parliament has endowed the Public Works Committee with power to investigate, the Government will place it before that body, inviting them to investigate and report. I am sorry that, even to obtain Senator Newland ’s vote, I could not give the assurance asked for.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new clause be added: -
The Public Works Committee shall report to Parliament as to the suitability of this site for Ordnance Stores before this land is finally resumed by ‘the Federal Government.
I quite differ from the attitude taken up by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce). The Minister seems to have in his mind the idea that it is the function of the Public Works Committee merely to report as to the cost of buildings. I maintain, however, it is the purpose of the Committee to save the country any undue expenditure. I believe that there are many better sites available for Ordnance Stores. The large area at Liverpool, with the railway line running through it, would be preferable to the Government proposal at a time like the present, when money is so valuable. I urge, also, that the erection of a modern building of eight or ten stories on the Circular Quay site would prove ideal for ordnance purposes, as stores could then be handled very economically. That site has served the purposes of a Government store for the greater part of a century, and if a modern building were erected there it would be quite suitable. The Minister has challenged my estimate of the cost. He is perfectly free to do that, because we are certainly groping in the dark as to the cost of a complete ordnance system. I know, though, that it is to be so great that the Government have already sent two competent and highly-paid officials to America and Europe to report upon the proposal.
– No; they have not been sent expressly for that purpose.
– I beg the Minister’s pardon if I have overstated the case ; but I understood that Major Wilson was sent to America to report upon the project, and that Mr. Kirkpatrick, an officer in the Architect’s Branch, accompanied him.
– No; Colonel Wilson was going to England in connexion with Australian Expeditionary Force matters, and we asked him to make inquiries and report on this proposal. Mr. Kirkpatrick is not an officer of the Department. He is an architect, of Sydney, and, as he happened to be going to America, we asked him to send a report also.
– I understood that these two gentlemen were instructed to report upon the Ordnance Stores. The Government have only acquired portion of this land, and, as further private lands are to be resumed, it appears they are commencing in this way - doing a little bit at a time. The whole scheme should be brought before Parliament, so that we would know where we are begining and where we are likely to end. I submit that I arn well within my rights in asking that this matter be submitted to the Public Works Committee. I have not the faintest intention of harassing the Government in this matter; but I demand that public inquiry because, as I remarked here a week ago, there are grave rumours respecting these land resumptions. Senator Ferricks’ statement came altogether independently of what I had heard. The whole business is, in the opinion of certain people in Sydney, of a shady character.
– I can tell the Minister that I heard in a club in Sydney that the Minister was absolutely under the dominance of the military authorities in regard to this matter-
– Order !
– That he, the Minister, did not make the choice, but was asked to sign a telegram.
-Order ! I ask the honorable senator to obey the Chair. Interjections are distinctly out of order, and if honorable senators will not assist me to maintain order I shall have to take necessary steps to do so myself.
– That same statement had been made to me before, namely, that certain military officers, who knew this site was about to be taken by the Commonwealth authorities, were making certain arrangements through their friends. I know the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) too well to believe anything like that so far as his Department is concerned. If there is one fault more than another to be found with Senator Pearce, it is that he pays too much attention to the details of his Department. It is because of these rumours, however, that I demand a full investigation by the Public Works Committee.
I can quite understand Senator Pearce stating that I wanted this method of procedure merely that I might thus secure a passing victory over the Government. I have no desire to harass or annoy or interfere with the Government. But when rumours are current the obvious resort is to undertake every possible investigation. We are asked that : If we made the investigation first, and then sought to acquire the land, how could we stop the land-sharks from getting in and making a huge profit in their sale to the authorities? That is the very nature of the rumours. The land-sharks are already in ahead. The rumours are that there are a few people who were inthe “ know,” and were ahead of the Government in regard to the resumption of the land - that these people knew beforehand what was coming on. Rumour says that the New South Wales Government have already resumed portion of the property, which they intend to load back on to the Commonwealth in connexion with this scheme, and at a considerably enhanced profit.
This particular site is not much of an improvement upon, if as good as, Liverpool for Ordnance Stores. It is not economy to have a number of different sites for various sub-departments of one big Government service, and for those sites to be spread all over the place. The Minister for Defence, has ridiculed my estimate that it will cost, before we are done with the construction of these Ordnance Stores, about a quarter of a million. I venture to say that already the various lands resumed have gone beyond the estimates ; and that, what with such costs, for example, as that sum of £11,000 for the cottages which are to be pulled down, my estimate of £250,000 will not be far out. It would have been better for the Minister to have told us that what was intended was a huge scheme for housing the property of the Military Department under proper conditions.
– This is simply a repetition of what the Committee has already declared itself upon. Senator Gardiner is trying to base his amendment on some rumour. Is this an assembly for the passing round of gossip, or is it a deliberative chamber of public men in responsible positions? Are we here to repeat tittle-tattle without even giving the names of the parties from whom the rumours emanated? Honorable senators are degrading themselves, and degrading Parliament, by repeating statements here which they are not prepared to take the responsibility of fathering. It is not worthy of honorable senators.
– Is that word “ degrading ‘ ‘ in order.
– Yes, I use the word advisedly. It is degrading the Senate and the Commonwealth Parliament, because there is no means of meeting and coping with that sort of talk. There is no charge made against me or against any officer, but there is a dirty insinuation behind the suggestion.
– It is all over Sydney, too.
– Then let us hear it.
– I do not know it.
– I put it to Senator Ferricks then, does he think it proper that some gossip which he has heard in Sydney should be repeated here, with no facts and no names ? He is not prepared to say from whom he received these rumours.
– We have had so many instances in the administration of the Defence Department of sums up to £60,000 being embezzled, and sums of £10,000 lying about here and there, that it makes one think.
– That is a cheap sneer.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister for Defence in order in imputing to honorable senators who have recorded their votes in a division that, by their doing so, they are degrading themselves and degrading Parliament ?
– He did not say that.
– The Minister has raised the point that these rumours mentioned by Senator Gardiner and Senator Ferricks are degrading to members of this deliberative Chamber and to Parliament. If I understand the English language aright, the Minister accuses those honorable gentlemen, and all honorable senators, of degrading themselves and degrading this Parliament. I rise to a point of order whether such language should be permitted ?
-My ruling is that, so far as I understand the English language, the Minister for Defence is quite in order.
– I will say thisand this is my final word: Senator Gardiner puts it that he has heard some gossip in Sydney which imputes wrong-doing to myself or to some officers of the Defence Department. If that constitutes a reason why the resumption of this park should be a matter for investigation by the Public Works Committee, are we to take it that the Committee - upon that reference - is to inquire into those rumours?
– My word, they will; because the people responsible for them will not be able to continue that line of talk after the Committee has investigated the matter.
– Then nobody is to come out into the open and’ charge me or any officer with doing something; but somebody is to say, “ I heard that somebody said that somebody did such and such a thing,” whereupon the Public Works Committee is to find on that. Is that what the Committee is for ?
– If the Committee inquires, then the gossips will have nothing to stand on.
– I shall quote, for the information of Senator Gardiner, the exact powers of the Committee. Section 14 of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act provides -
In considering and reporting upon any work, the Committee shall have regard to -
There is another section (No. 15), to which I invite attention, which bears on this question of site, as follows: -
That clearly indicates that what Parliament had in view was that the Government should firstselect a site on which to construct a proposed public work; because, before a Department can prepare estimates and plans, the site must be known. The very fact of that section being within the Act indicates that what Parliament had in mind was that, the Government having selected a site, there would follow the preparations of plans, and specifications, and reports; and that before the project went on to the Public Works Committee those plans and reports should be laid before Parliament, whereupon the Government would move that the matter be referred to the Committee for report.
– The Committee could say that a certain site would not be suitable but it could not report upon another.
– That is so. The Act says that “generally the Committee shall in all cases take such measures and procure such information as may enable them to inform or satisfy the Parliament as to the expedience of carrying out the work.” If Senator Gardiner and his friends who are behind these rumours have anything to bring forward, that is the time to place themselves in the hands of the Committee, and furnish all the information they possess. Then let the Public Works Committee come down to Parliament and say, “We think that this work is unjustified. It has been instigated “ - as Senator Ferricks has said - “ by some officer. It has not the support of the responsible Minister.” The Committee will be quite competent to report anything of that kind that it finds upon the evidence which is submitted to it. But what is here proposed is that we should put the cart before the horse, and do something which is altogether foreign to the Public Works Committee Act.
– I refuse to allow the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce)to place me in a false position by saying that I am degrading myself or the party to which I belong, or this Parliament, by registering my vote in a direction which, I believe to be absolutely justified.
– He did not say that.
– I do not want to know what is Senator Earle’s opinion of what the. Minister for Defence said. The Minister resented certain statements made by some honorable senators.
– Certain gossip.
– Oh, no. Statements were made by Senator Gardiner and Senator Ferricks to the effect that before this land was acquired there should be a further investigation of the matter. In that opinion they were fortified by a great many rumours which are current. Does Senator Earle or the Minister for Defence mean to say that when a question of this character is under consideration, an honorable senator who has heard rumours, is not entitled to stand up and give expression to them ? Merely because he is not prepared to supply names is he to be prevented from stating what he has heard?
– I am sure that I would never dream of doing it.
– If the honorable senator were in Senator Gardiner’s place he would take exactly the same stand that he, as Leader of the Opposition here, has taken. Senator Gardiner most emphatically stated that he made no imputations either against the Minister or againsthis officials. But he is justified in asking that a further investigation shall be made of this proposal, in view of rumours which are current out- side. We know that before to-day very grave proceedings have arisen out of statements made within the Parliaments of this country. I shall vote for the amendment, because I believe that this is a matter which might well be referred to the Public Works Committee for inquiry. How absurd it is for the Minister for Defence to argue that weshould acquire the proposed site, and . later on, when estimates have been made of the cost of the buildings to be erected thereon, the Public Works Committee should make its report upon the wisdom or otherwise of its acquisition ! It will then be too late to get out of the purchase of the land, even though the Commonwealth has paid for it 50 per cent. more than its true value. Following the strict wording of the Public Works Committee Act, I am of opinion that this is a matter which may well be referred to that body for inquiry. In the interests of the Department itself, if there be no foundation for the rumours which are current, a thorough investigation should be welcomed. I cannot understand the reluctance of the Minister to have the consideration of the measure postponed for a brief period to enable that course to be adopted.
– I intend to support the amendment in an endeavour to preserve our park lands for the people if that object can possibly be attained. I have no hesitation in saying that if an investigation be heldit will be found that in the immediate ‘vicinity of the proposed site there are 100 sites available which are more suitable for Ordnance Stores. Within a quarter of a mile of this Leichhardt Park is a site on which the keels of ten deep-sea ships could be laid down, and on which the vessels could actually be built and launched with deep water right up to the rocks; in fact, the site was brought under the notice of Mr. Churchin as a site for Commonwealth shipbuilding. It was turned down because of an obstruction to navigation by a bridge across Iron Cove. No lighter with a mast or derrick for handling cargo could get under that bridge. The same objection holds good against the chosen site to which this same bridge is an obstruction. It is true that the land is privately owned, but that should not deter the Commonwealth from resuming it. I am prepared to do anything in my power to prevent the passing of this Bill. Personally, I am of opinion that a better site is obtainable at Darling Island. To talk about a water frontage at the proposed site is positively ridiculous. That water frontage is nothing but a sewer.
– Then the place is a very unsuitable one for a public park.
– Unf ortunately, it is the only place in the district which we could obtainfor the purposes of a park. I would like something better if I could get it. But that is impossible under existing conditions. The Government are attempting under this Bill to steal park lands from the people. The area in the immediate neighbourhood of the proposed site is a very congested one, and its inhabitants experience great difficulty in obtaining the necessary breathing space from a health stand-point. I look with regret upon honorable senators who were brought up with me in the Labour movement, and who now stand idly by while this act of spoliation is taking place. If the question be referred to the Public Works Committee, and that body decides that the proposed site is the best one available, I shall have nothing further to say upon it. But, as long as I have an opportunity to protest against this encroachment upon the people’s rights, I shall do so. I shall sit here for a week, if necessary, in order to prevent the Government from robbing the children of our soldiers, who are fighting overseas, of the very small breathing spaces which are still left to them.
– The remarks of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) have brought me to my feet, quite apart from his reference to the degradation of Parliament and of the members of it. When I raised a point of order, your, sir, ruled that the use of the words “ degrading Parliament “ was in order.
– In the sense in which they were used, yes.
– Having given that ruling, probably I am at liberty to make use of words quite as strong, if not stronger, than those employed by the Minister. It will be a sorry day for this country when any man intrusted with responsibilities such as ours, whilst endeavouring to safeguard the public welfare, can be accused by a Minister of “ degrading “ either himself or Parliament.
I had some hesitation about taking part in this debate by reason of the fact that I am a member of the Public Works Committee. I have here a report by that Committee, dated 7th March, 1917, which deals with the extension of the* Postal Stores buildings in Harbor-street, Sydney. At that time I had only just been appointed a member of the Committee, in succession to Senator Lynch, who had been elevated to the office of a Minister.
– Did they sack the honorable senator when Senator Lynch lost his job?
– No ; but they would have liked to do so. The Committee inspected the site of the building, which has since been erected there. The site, I may mention, cost £13,000, and the Committee quickly realized that before its acquisition it should have been referred to that body for investigation and report. Why? The report of the Committee supplies the reasons. It states -
The matter of the foundation was carefully considered by the Committee, and it was shown that, to obtain any foundation that cau be trusted, it will be essential to go down to the solid rock. The advantage of erecting the building on piling, as compared with concrete piers, was duly weighed’, and the Committee recommends the adoption of solid concrete piers as being eminently suitable and cheaper than piles to the extent approximately of £1,000.
The difficulty was to find the bottom of that place for a foundation. I saw the pump working to get the water away, and one would think that Sydney Harbor was pouring in there, and that they were trying to pump the ocean dry. That site was bought by one Federal Government for £13,000.
– On the recommendation of some official, I suppose.
– Undoubtedly ; that is the very point we are arguing. I have quoted the report of the Public Works Committee, of which I was a humble member, on that occasion. I would emphasize, in supporting the amendment, that only when a site has been chosen is the erection of a building referred to the Public Works Committee. In this case, a sum of money was paid, and the Committee was asked to consider, not the cost, or suitability, or advantage of the site, but the question of erecting on it an extension of the Postal Stores then in existence. During the deliberations of the Committee, the opinion’ was freely expressed that if the site had been referred to the Committee for investigation, the extension of those stoves would not have been made there.
The Public Works Committtee have done good work. I have pointed out the weak point in the Minister’s armour. No greater argument for referring the suitability of this site to the Committee could be adduced than the case I have quoted. Had not the site to which I have referred been recommended to some Department by some intelligent official, and bought and paid for, the building would never have been put there. Perhaps it is time now to call a halt in this .policy. We might well consider the desirability of amending the Public Works Committee Act to determine whether or not sites should be referred to the Committee before buildings are erected. Senator Gardiner has opened up a question of the greatest importance to the people. The Committee is impotent to say whether or not a site is right or wrong. The Minister’s argument that the land acquired is Commonwealth land does not save the situation, and honorable senators would do well to consider seriously clause 13 of the Public Works Committee’s recommendation made on 7th March, 1917.
– The fact that the Senate has already decided on the acquisition of the park land and the private land adjoining does not prevent the Committee approving of Senator Gardiner’s proposed new clause. It is impossible for individual members of the Senate to examine sites of this description. Even if they do, they have no power to call evidence or get expert opinions ; but the Public Works Committee are in quite a different position. They were appointed to make it reasonably certain that money voted for public works is expended to lie best advantage,, and to supply Parliament with reliable information. All Senator Gardiner asks is that, before any further money is spent in. the erection of the Stores, the Committee should report to Parliament as to the suitability of the site for the purpose. That is a most reasonable request. The Senate has agreed to the acquisition of the site, but only by a narrow majority. Who is the man that has supplied the Government with the information upon which they are acting? Has the Minister seen the site? Have any other members of the Government seen it? I doubt whether any members of the Senate, except Senator McDougall and myself, have seen it. Therefore the Government are acting almost entirely on the advice of Colonel Sands. I do not question his ability to report on the matter.
– Were you not here when I read Mr. Swinburne’s report ? He is Chairman of the Business Board, and recommended the acquisition of the site.
– Then the information at the disposal of the Government has been furnished by Mr. Swinburne and - Colonel Sands ?
– I read other reports, including one by the Director of Public Works, in the Works Department.
– The information placed at the disposal of Parliament by the three gentlemen named is not equal to the information that would be supplied to us by the Public Works Committee. They are appointed to do work of this kind, and especially to prevent the wasteful expenditure of public funds. It is true that the State Government have taken possession of part of the park land adjacent to the site, and propose to erect additional buildings upon more land to be resumed in the vicinity. They, also intend to construct a light line of railway up to the boundary of the park land mentioned by the Minister. The buildings erected there by the State Government show that it has been quite impossible to secure a foundation fit to carry more than one story, and that of very flimsy construction. They are mainly, if not entirely, of galvanized iron. Evidently the rock is so far beneath the surface that the State Government would not go to the expense of searching for a solid foundation on which to put a building of more than one story. I am certain that if we attempt to put solid heavy walls on any part of the park land in question, the « foundations will have to go to such a depth that the cost will exceed all our expectations. We should have reliable information on that point before we agree to the proposal. Once the Government begin to prepare plans and expend any substantial sum of money on the site, it will be most difficult to stop them.
It would be an easy matter for the Public Works Committee to report as to the suitability of the site, and if it were found that it was not suitable I am sure that a number of suitable sites having water frontages might be suggested instead of it. I emphasize the fact that between this site and the lower stretches of the harbor there is a substantial bridge known as the Iron Cove bridge. It is not a swing bridge, and only very small vessels could be taken under it. This must lead to additional expense in connexion with the establishment of Ordnance Stores at this site. I join with Senator McDougall in saying that, notwithstanding the attitude of the Leichhardt Municipal Council, we should investigate this proposal. I remind honorable senators that the Council is not elected by adult males and females, but upon a very limited franchise. There is before us no expression of opinion by a local branch of the Labour League or from any body elected by the adult residents of Leichhardt. The Municipal Council is favorable to the erection of Ordnance Stores at this site, but we have been assured that there has been aprotest made against the proposal. One portion of the site on which the cottages are erected has a good foundation, but if it is intended that there should be railway connexion with the site a considerable amount of excavation will be necessary. All these are matters which should be reported upon by the Public Works Committee before we agree to the expenditure of any public money there. A sum of £50,000 has been mentioned, but I venture to say that that will not nearly cover the cost of the erection of buildings there, apart from the expenditure involved in the construction of a railway to the site, and a new wharf. I do not know that the Sydney Municipal Council will be allowed to carry its electric mains into that district, and I understand that it is proposed by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that the electric current required will be obtained from the BalmainElectric Company.
I should like to disabuse the minds of honorable senators o’f a false impression which might be created by Senator McDougall’s, statement that the water frontage to the Leichhardt park is a sewer. The whole of the area which drains into the water-course is sewered, and the only water that now flows into the channel is storm water. There is no offensive odour noticeable there, though there may at times be noticed the smell common to all foreshores at low tides. No matter what Colonel Sands may say to the contrary, the Leichhardt park is greatly appreciated by a considerable number of residents of the district. Thereis a cricket pitch constructed there, and poles have been erected for football. Thisshould be given due consideration, in: view of the fact that there is no other park in the district There is no urgency about the passage of this Bill, and in the circumstances, I think honorable senators might go to the trouble of inspecting the* site for themselves, before coming to a decision on the proposal.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
.- I move-
That the progress report from the Select Committee on”Intoxicating Liquor - Effect on Australian Soldiers, and Best Method of dealing with Sale,” presented to the Senate ora 1st May, be adopted.
I wish to make it quite clear that this is but a progress report. As members of the Committee, we feel that we have not yet finished out labours, or our “ junketings,”’ whatever they may be called, and that, therefore, we are not in a position to bringin a full and complete report. Whether we will further prosecute our labours, or “ junketings,” will depend upon circumstances to which I may refer before I resume my seat.
– It is the Presidentwho determines the circumstances.
– I may deal with the circumstances presently. We say that we have not taken all the evidence that we think necessary for the compilation of a full report, but we are in a position topresent to the Senate this preliminary report, and the recommendations,I think, represent practically the unanimous views of those who came before the Committee as witnesses. The recommendations are two in number. One is that all returned invalided soldiers - and we take it for granted that practically all returned soldiers are invalided, or otherwise they would not he back in Australia - should be prohibited from having any intoxicating liquor whilst under the care of military medical officers. The other recommendation is that there should be a general anti- ‘ shouting ‘ ‘ law, to apply alike to civilians and soldiers.
Before dealing with the report and the evidence, I may say that while honorable senators generally know what my views are on the question of temperance, and while probably some may consider that I am somewhat intemperate in my advocacy of temperance, I can appeal with every confidence to my colleagues, who have worked faithfully and loyally with me in this matter, to say that I never endeavoured to pack the witness-box. As a Committee, we went on definite lines in the calling of witnesses. First of all, we took those officers who hold high positions in military rank, irrespective of what views they may hold on the temperance question. As a matter of fact, we did not know what their views were before they gave evidence. They were simply called because of their official position. In addition, some of the churches and some of the temperance societies nominated their own witnesses. The returned soldiers did likewise, and the licensed victuallers also nominated three representatives of the Licensed Victuallers Association, while one other member of the same association was called by the Committee. Members of the Committee, of course, had the right to summon any witness they desired to examine, and whilst a number were called as the outcome of my own wish or the wishes of other members of the Committee, this power was used to a very limited extent.
We did not consider it within our province to ask witnesses whether they were total abstainers or not, though in some cases this was done. In the majority of instances the witnesses told us of their own volition whether they were total abstainers.
I think, if honorable senators will read the evidence, they will notice that, with the exception perhaps of representatives of temperance societies, and perhaps also of the chaplains, most of whom, I think, were total abstainers, the ma jority of the witnesses were not total abstainers. I mention this because some honorable senators might feel, and, perhaps, with justification, that those witnesses who for many years- have held strong views on the temperance question, were unconsciously biased. But if that can be said of witnesses who appeared on behalf of the temperance and kindred organizations, the same argument may be applied to those who represented the licensed victuallers’ view of this question. Speaking for myself - and I think I may also speak for members of the Committee - I can say that we are prepared to rest our recommendations on the evidence of those who said they were not total abstainers. With the exception of the four witnesses who, in some way, represented the Licensed Victuallers Association - I do not wish to belittle their evidence - I think I am right in saying that the recommendations of the Committee were supported practically by every witness that came before us.
At the outset, we were faced with a difficult problem. In view of the fact that Australia had, on two occasions, decided to carry on the war voluntarily, we felt it would be unjust, and certainly somewhat unfair, to say that a man who decided to volunteer to go to the Front and risk his health and, perhaps, his life, should be denied some personal gratification, and, it may be, some social pleasures, that were not denied to those who remained behind. In spite of that, however, we have recommended that, so far as returned invalided soldiers are concerned, no intoxicating liquor should be supplied to them while they are under the care of the medical officer.
– Does the honorable senator mean that a medical officer attending a returned invalided soldier may not prescribe alcohol ?
– We say that it must be given only on the advice of the military doctor.
– The honorable senator did not make that clear.
– We assume that until a man is discharged, he is under the care of a military doctor. We were influenced in making our recommendation by the evidence given to us by the medical officers. The doctors, I think, without exception, stated that as far as a returned soldier was concerned - I mean the invalided soldier - drink was not to him a beverage, but practically an irritant poison, which had a maddening effect.
– The honorable senator might also add that the military Commandants held the same views.
– We found that the course we recommend has been adopted in England. In the Mother Country no invalided soldier under the care of a military doctor is allowed to have any intoxicating liquor without the consent of the medical officer, so that in our recommendation we are only asking for what is being done in England. If an Australian soldier were wounded and sent to England for medical treatment he would not be allowed to have any intoxicating liquor during the time he remained in hospital or under the care of English doctors. The same rule applies on transports returning to Australia.
The other recommendation is that there should be an anti-“ shouting “ law. It would have to be brought in, of course, under the War Precautions Act, if the Government saw fit to adopt this legislation. But we ask for such an Act, which would apply not only to the soldier but to civilians as well. The Committee, after its investigations, came to the conclusion that such legislation would confer great benefit on outgoing and returning soldiers and also upon the civilian population. We were strongly impressed by the evidence that an anti-“ shouting “ law, rigorously carried out, would not only benefit the troops, but the public generally. It may be safely said that the sacrifice on the part of civilians, if anti- “shouting” became the lav/ of the land, would not be very great, because both the soldier and the ordinary individual would still be able to obtain liquor if desired - the restriction being merely that they could not be “ shouted “ for nor “ shout “ for others. That is the law in England to-day, and those who have had experience under it told us in the course of evidence that it was most certainly beneficial.
– Is the anti-“ shouting “ legislation generally applicable throughout the United Kingdom, and does it apply to civilians as well as to the military ?
– I can only speak for its application to England, though I have no information to the contrary regarding Scotland and Ireland. But its application in England is both to the soldier and to the civilian.
We are only asking, with regard to these two propositions, that Australia shall come into line with Britain. We are not arguing concerning prohibition as it exists in Canada or in parts of the United States of America to-day. In New Zealand anti-“ shouting “ legislation is at present in force; so that, as far as restrictions upon the drink traffic are concerned, it may be said that there are less in Australia, perhaps, than in any other English-speaking country engaged in the war.
– Is there not less necessity here?
– Does the honorable senator think so ?
I intend to quote from the evidence of two or three witnesses upon the principle of anti-“ shouting,” and I shall mention, first, Captain Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, V.C., of Adelaide. He is a soldier who has won the highest military honour on the fields of Prance. I may say that one reason why Icull from his evidence is that he indicated to the Committee that he himself was not a total abstainer. Indeed, it would not be unfair to him to say that he told us that, in his opinion, upon the field of battle those who were not total abstainers were even better than men who were:
– The physiological effect of alcohol, of course, is to beget courage.
– Some people need it for that reason.
– That is why they supply it to soldiers.
– I am quoting Captain Blackburn to show that I am not desirous of presenting the evidence of one who may be considered prejudiced on the side of total abstinence.
– The evidence was quite fairly taken as representing all sides of the case.
– That is so. It is only fair to the total abstainers to say also that Captain Blackburn, V.C., admitted that if all the men were total abstainers there would probably be less trouble upon occasions when they were not actually in the trenches; but he added , that once in action he preferred those who were not total abstainers.
– I do not remember his stating that.
– I think I can recall it to the honorable senator. It was in reply to questions by myself.
– It does not matter very much, in the course of a battle, whether men are total abstainers or not, seeing that they must abstain for the reason that they cannot get liquor.
– What Captain Blackburn said was that if he had 100 men who were wharf labourers, and had been accustomed to their drink, and had also 100 men, say, from the city, mostly of the clerk type, he would prefer the 100 wharf labourers behind him in battle. I then remarked that that was hardly a fair criterion, and I asked which would he prefer in battle - 100 wharf labourers who drank or 100 wharf labourers who did not, and he said, give him the 100 who drank.
– Where will you get 100 wharf labourers who do not drink?
– I did not think of asking him that until one minute too late. Captain Blackburn was asked -
Would you be in favour of a law to prevent civilians “ shouting “ for soldiers or soldiers “ shouting “ for Civilians ? And he replied, “I should be strongly in favour of such a law.” I then asked, “ You are against ‘ shouting ‘ altogether ?” and he answered, “ I am. The good conditions I spoke of in London were, I believe, due to the prohibition of ‘ shouting.’ “
I now propose to quote from the evidence of the Most Rev. Charles Owen Lever Riley, Archbishop of Perth and Anglican Chaplain-General. The Archbishop is one of the most deservedly popular personalities in Western Australia, popular in the highest sense of the word - one of that State’s best citizens. He is not a total abstainer; and I point out that, when I am able to adduce evidence in favour of my point from a non-abstainer, I am the more strongly supported. The question and answer in Dr. Riley’s case were -
From your personal observation, do you think that drink has perceptibly interfered with the efficiency of our troops? - Slightly. I have no figures to give you. The District Commandant gave you figures; but I am speaking from observation. Men come down from the country to Perth, and they have not many friends here, and get into trouble. If we had an anti- “ shouting “ law, nine-tenths of the trouble would be done away with. I am sorry to say that the extremists will not assist us to secure an anti-“ shouting “ law. They want absolute prohibition, and nothing else.
You are strongly in favour of an anti-“ shouting’’ law? - Yes. I have fought all I could for it. The Chief Commissioner in London says that anti-“ shouting “ there has done a great deal of good. . . .
I shall quote one more witness, namely, Professor the Rev. E. G. Mclntyre, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church and Professor of Theology, Sydney University, who is in charge of the recruiting campaign in Sydney. I do not quote his views because he is Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, or oh the ground that he is a Professor of Theology, but for the reason that he is in charge of the recruiting campaign. Whether he is a total abstainer or not I am unable to say. I should be rather inclined to think he is. He told the Committee that he was of opinion that one of the most practical measures would be an anti-“ shouting “ Act, which would be applicable to civilians as well as to soldiers. If that were not done, Parliament would almost fail criminally in promoting the interests of Australia.
I recollect reading in the newspapers some time ago a statement by no less an authority than Mr. Lloyd George, to the effect that the House of Commons cowered before the whisky distillers of Great Britain. Yet the authorities there have done more in regard to this liquor question than we have. As chairman of the Select Committee which inquired into this question, I should not like to say anything that may possibly be construed as going beyond the recommendations of that body, lest I may express views which are not shared by my colleagues. But, excluding the four witnesses who represented the Licensed Victuallers’ Association, I think I may say that practically every witness who came before us spoke of the advantages that have accrued from the restrictions which have already been imposed upon the liquor trade, not merely by the Commonwealth Government, but also by the State Governments.
– The Committee recommend the removal of one of those restrictions.
– I will deal with that matter in a moment. I may tell the Minister, however, that we are not very strong upon that recommendation. When I say that all the witnesses save four, ex- tolled the restrictions which have been imposed upon the liquor trade, I ought perhaps also to exempt Dr. Vance, of the Caulfield Hospital, of whom I was extremely pleased to note that the Committee appointed to inquire into the Defence Department spoke most highly as to his work at the hospital. That gentle- man is not a totalabstainer. Using his own words, he put the position in this way: - “I am not a total abstainer, but I do not drink.” As a matter of fact, none of the doctors who came before the Committee were total abstainers, although they were very very moderate drinkers. When questioned about the result of the 6 o’clock closing of hotels in Victoria, Dr. Vance said that the reform had been of very great assistance to him as chief of the Caulfield Hospital. But, he added that, unfortunately, its effect had been to permit of a certain quantity of whisky in small bottles being smuggled into that institution without detection - in lieu of the beer which had . formerly been consumed by the patients. That circumstance shows how hydra-headed the drink traffic is. At the same time, Dr. Vance did not desire the removal of the 6 o’clock closing restriction. What He advocated was a prohibition upon the sale of whisky in small bottles or flasks, such as can be taken into the hospital without fear of detection. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has reminded me that the Committee recommended the removal of one restriction which has been imposed by the Government. My reply is that if the Government are prepared to adopt the two recommendations which we make without removing that restriction, no member of the Committee will raise any objection.
– Oh yes, I will!
– Then there will be only one objection. We all know that, under the conditions which formerly existed, on occasions when invalid soldiers were being brought back to Australia in transports, very unhappy scenes were enacted in Fremantle-
– And worse in Port Adelaide.
– There were some deplorable scenes enacted there, too. In view of those scenes, the Government decided to close all hotels in ports at which our transports touched. That practice has resulted in a very great deal of good. The Committee, however, recommend that hotelkeepers shall not be permitted to supply liquor to any invalid soldier until he has been discharged from the Forces.
– Does the honorable senator mean that to apply to every returned soldier, because a number of our returned men are not invalids?
– We recommend that it shall apply to all invalided soldiers. If the men are not invalided, we ought to know something about the matter.
– A man may be perfectly sound in health, and yet the loss of a few fingers may render him quite unfit for military service.
– In that case, I presume that he would be discharged from the Forces, andwould then be able to obtain liquor. But under the conditions which now prevail, whenever a transport arrives at Fremantle, the hotels there, and also in Perth, have to be closed, not merely to the returning troops, but also to the general public. Our recommendation is that the hotels should be open to the general public so long as invalided soldiers are not allowed to obtain liquor. The hotelkeepers have assured us that if effect be given to that recommendation they will do their best to see that the law is respected. If they fail to do so it will be an easy matter to revert to the conditions which at present obtain.
I stated just now that the Committee was not anxious to proceed further with its investigations, save under Certain circumstances. The recommendations which we have made represent our irreducible minimum, and if the Senate refuses to adopt them, obviously it will be idle for us to pursue our inquiry further. The seven members constituting the Committee are unanimous in respect of those recommendations.
– Does not the honorable senator see an objection to differentiating between our citizen soldiers and ordinary civilians?
– In what way?
– By allowing civilians the opportunity to obtain ‘a drink, and denying that opportunity to our invalided soldiers.
– I have already given the reasons why we make that, differentiation.
– The same thing obtains in the Old Country.
– Let us legislate to prevent any invalided soldier from obtaining intoxicants except under medical advice.
– A large number of our returning soldiers are suffering from shell shock,- and medical authorities assure us that such men cannot safely take even a small quantity of intoxicants.
There is just one other matter of a personal nature on which I desire to touch. The President of the Senate, in speaking here a few days ago, was good enough to say-
I remember reading some time ago that Senator Thomas, who attaches wonderful importance to this Committee, of which he was the originator, was adversely criticised for originating this Committee by a lending temperance newspaper which usually supports him, on the score that he was merely trying to save his face because he had supported the Government in the suppression of the Fiddler and Defeat, two pamphlets which had been suppressed by the Government censor.
I do not hesitate to say that in my judgment no Committee should be appointed merely for the purpose of “ saving the face” of some honorable senator. If that statement is correct, I do not think I ought to remain on the Committee if- it does continue its labours. I have not seen the statement in any temperance newspaper, although I do not say that the quotation is incorrect. Perhaps the President will be good enough some day to tell me what paper it appeared in, so that, without using public money, I may have an opportunity of replying to it. I am rather glad Mr. President, that you have returned to the chair, because while the Deputy President (Senator Shannon) has been in the chair I have been dealing with some reasons why the Select Committee perhaps ought not to continue its labours. One is a statement which you were good enough to make, from the chair. I have read it already, and do not suppose it will be necessary to read it again.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in reading it. It is not pertinent to the question before the Senate. The question of the right of the Committee to continue or not continuedoes not arise out of the motion.
– Do I understand; that I canno’t give any reasons, seeing that this is only a progress report, why theCommittee should continue or discontinue its labours?
– The question of the right, of the Committee to continue does not arise out of the motion, which is that the progress report laid- on the table on a certain day be adopted. Any matter outside of that question will not be in order.
– Then am I to understand that I will not be in order in giving reasons why the Committee should or should not go further with its labours ?
– That is so.
– Then I will give some reasons on the public platforms of this country.
– I rise to order. Surely, seeing that the report makes a suggestion regarding the continuance or otherwise of the inquiry, it is right and proper that the opinion of the Senate should be ascertained -on the question. Unless the Chairman of the Committee, as well as every other member of the Senate, is permitted to discuss the subject, I cannot see how we can deal with it. It appears to me, therefore, that your ruling will considerably curtail honorable senators’ rights of discussion. Before you finally rule in that direction, I ask you to give that aspect of the case your attention. I scarcely think that you would rule in such a way that the rights and privileges of senators will be curtailed.
– I rise to order. Senator de Largie is discussing your ruling. You have ruled that Senator Thomas was out of order. Is Senator de Largie in order in his line of conduct? If he is, will the same opportunity be given to me 1
– Senator de Largie will be in order if he concludes with the usual motion. I expected to hear that he intended to do so.
– I cannot understand Senator Gardiner’s haste- to ascertain whether he will have the right to speak or not.
– I want to know if I will have the right to f ollow on the same lines. Senator de Largie is challenging your ruling, apparently without intending to move a motion of dissent.
– Senator Gardiner appears to be anxious to learn whether the President will extend him the right to speak.
– The honorable senator is not in order in arguing the matter across the chamber with another honorable senator. My ruling will have to stand unless it is challenged in the ordinary and proper way.
– It is not absolutely necessary for any one who speaks on your ruling to move a motion.
– Yes, if a decision is once given, although not while the matter is being discussed.
– May I say that I will not deal with that phase of the matter now, but on some other occasion will move a definite motion on the question of whether the Committee shall continue its labours or not? The discussion can take placeon that motion, and I will not deal now with some things with which I intended to deal.
– Is not that obviously the better course?
– The question of the introduction of extraneous matter into the debate on a definite motion is continually arising. The discussion of matter foreign to the subject at issue never helps any deliberative body to arrive at a proper conclusion on the subject immediately before it. The only result is to cloud the issue, and perhaps excite passions, and retard the recording of a proper decision. I have no objection to Senator Thomas discussing any matter, but there is a proper way to do all these things, and the honorable senator is too old a parliamentarian not to know that there are dozens of ways in which an honorable senator can bring up any matter in which he is interested without transgressing the Standing Orders.
– I am afraid we are getting away from your ruling. I understood, when Senator Thomas intervened, that he was going to move a motion regarding it.
– Senator de Largie will not be in order in discussing my ruling unless he proposes to conclude with a motion .
– I propose to draw your attention to the second paragraph of the report, as follows: -
Your Committee have now examined witnesses in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Launceston, and hope to proceedto Sydney and Brisbane, when Parliament adjourns, in order to complete their inquiries.
That paragraph raises the whole question of the future action of the Committee. We cannot discuss the report without having every right to discuss that question. If you insist that we cannot discuss it, your ruling should be dissented from, and I move accordingly.
– Will the honorable senator put his motion of dissent in writing ?
– I propose to do so.
– The honorable senator does not intend to ? .
– I have no desire to do so, but I do not wish to see the rights of the Senate curtailed. It is not a party matter, and I see no necessity to curtail the discussion in any way.
– I have received the following motion from Senator de Largie, in writing, in accordance with the standing order -
That the President’s ruling be dissented from, on the ground that his ruling curtails the rights of honorable senators in discussing the report before the Senate.
Is the motion seconded ?
– I will second it.
– Will the motion be dealt with forthwith?
– I take it that it will be postponed until to-morrow.
– According to tho standing order, the motion will stand over until to-morrow unless the Senate orders that it be dealt with forthwith.
– The motion to dissent from the ruling of Mr. President should be dealt with forthwith. Otherwise Senator Thomas will have concluded his speech without knowing whether he is free to discuss the very matters that he specifically wants to bring forward .
– I will bring them on in another way.
– The honorable senator has already said so, and that is why I was surprised at his seconding a motion to enable bini to bring them on now. I move -
That the question requires immediate determination.
Motion - That the question requires immediate determination - agreed to.
– I am entirely in sympathy with the President’s ruling. It is very important in the discussion of a specific question that every care should be taken to exclude extraneous matter. We have before us the progress report of a Committee which was appointed by a resolution of the Senate on the 10th January. The duties intrusted to the Committee were to inquire into all questions connected with intoxicating liquors during the, war, and during demobilization, and their effect upon repatriation. If the Committee does not go on with that work without receiving any instructions from the Senate to discontinue its labours, it will fail to discharge the duty imposed upon it by the Senate. The question of whether the Committee will continue its labours, and further examine into the matters referred to it, is absolutely extraneous to the consideration of its progress report, in which it makes certain recommendations to Parliament. I am surprised that the point has been raised, but I entirely sympathize with your ruling. If honorable senators support the principle you have laid down, they will do well, not only in relation to this matter, but in relation to other questions that may come before the Senate from time to time. Debate should be confined as nearly as possible to the subject-matter at issue, in order that a fair and uninfluenced verdict may be secured. I shall vote against the motion.
– I always feel that those who oppose a ruling of the President are placed at a very great disadvantage, for the simple reason that there is a feeling amongst honorable senators that when the President has given a ruling, right or wrong, he should be supported.
– The honorable senator may say “ No “ if he pleases; but I personally own up that I am always reluctant to dissent from a ruling by the President or the Chairman. If I do occasionally dissent from a ruling by the Chair, it is because I fear that the liberties of members of the Senate may be curtailed, and that any encroachment or infringement of their liberties by the President - quite unwittingly, perhaps - may create a precedent that will so narrow the scope of our deliberations in this chamber that we shall become like boys in a school room, who must sit down if the master frowns. I altogether resent being’ placed in any such position. If, sir, the tone of my voice should convey to you the impression that I desire to say something to which -you ought to take exception, I hope you will understand that that is not at all my intention. I speak as one who places the rights and privileges of honorable senators above the consideration that certain observations may hurt the feelings of any one. I quite recognise that your absence from the Chair may have been quite unavoidable, but I believe that if you had been present when Senator Thomas approached the discussion of this matter you would not have ruled in the way you have done. In my opinion, the honorable senator, when you gave your ruling, had not trespassed one inch beyond the scope of matters legitimately open to discussion upon the question he submitted to the Senate. I* direct your attention to the fact that, in the report which he asks the Senate to adopt, the following statement appears: -
Your Committee now have the honour to present to the Senate the following progress report: -
Your Committee have now examined witnesses in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Launceston, and hope to proceed to Sydney .and Brisbane, when Parliament adjourns, in order to complete their inquiries.
That is a very important part of this progress report of the Select Committee. The Committee give no reason in this report why they have not already examined witnesses in Sydney and Brisbane, but we know that there were grave reasons why they did not do so, and that you, sir, were very largely responsible for the Committee being placed in such a position that it was necessary for them to present a progress report instead of a final report on the subject into which they were called upon to inquire.
– Order! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that matter. There is a distinct and definite practice which prevents a matter which has been once discussed, and upon which the discussion has been closed, being discussed again. Senator Thomas took advantage of a legitimate opportunity to discuss at length the matter to which Senator Gardiner is now referring.
– What has this to do with the ruling?
– I am pointing out to Senator Gardiner that he is reviving the discussion upon a matter which has already been fully debated and dealt with. I do not .think the honorable senator was present at the time; but I can assure him that the matter to which he is referring was fully debated. If debates are to be continually revived, we shall have no finality, and the continual repetition of debates is not conducive to the orderly conduct of the business of the Senate.
– I regret to have to discuss this matter, but I was proceeding to show a reason for the statement’ in the progress report that the Select Committee intended to go to Sydney and Brisbane. You, sir, will not now permit me to discuss whether that matter should be dealt with or not, though you were personally and individually responsible for the reference to the matter, because, in your position as President, you simply stepped over a resolution of the Senate. We, the Senate, appointed the Select Committee, and yet you stepped right over our resolution, and proceeded to control the Committee.
– I did not attempt to control the Committee.
– Shall I say that you interfered with it.
– I did not attempt to interfere with it.
– If you, .sir, say that you did not attempt to interfere with, the Select Committee, I shall let the matter drop at that, and leave the public to decide whether that statement is correct, or is merely side-stepping the real question. Here we have a progress report in which the Select Committee express a desire to proceed to Sydney and Brisbane. They have been to Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, and Perth; but they have not yet gone to the centres of the two great States of the Commonwealth to obtain evidence. Senator Thomas, in speaking to his motion, was leading up to the reasons why the Committee had not been to ,
Sydney and Brisbane, and why they should go there, when you interrupted him and decided that his references to the matter were out of order. With all due respect to your authority in the Senate - and we all respect you and your authority as well as the way in which you exercise it - there are occasions when, in my opinion, the President takes to himself authority that was never delegated to him, and seeks to exercise that authority to curtail the rights of honorable senators in speaking to a motion as broad and wide as that now before the Senate.
– It is not a broad and wide motion ; it is a very narrow one -“‘That the report be adopted.”
– Does that not include the whole of what is specified in the report ?
– Surely it does not include an indorsement of every hope expressed in the pages of the report?
– Nor does it restrict criticism to the mere words, “ That the report be adopted.”
– The report, and its wording, make it clear to me that Senator Thomas was in order in the references he was making; and I believe that if the President had been present during the whole of the honorable senator’s speech he would not have ruled ashe did. I may inform honorable senatorsthat I am speaking, with the impression in my mind that, little by little, the powers, of the President of the Senate are increasing, and the rights of members of theSenate are diminishing. I hold the viewthat the President is placed in his position to protect the rights of honorablesenators and their liberties. He should not curtail them, but should rather broaden them.
– What do the Standing Orders say?
– We have Standing Orders, certainly, but I- venture to say that much depends on their interpretation and administration by the President. If honorable senators say that because we have Standing Orders, if we go the slightest bit over the line we should be brought up with a round turn by the President administering them as a coachman drives a team, with the reins well in hand, and the whip on the backs of the team, we shall be getting, away from my idea of a .deliberative assembly.
– There must be a certain discipline of debate.
– Of course there must, but that must be left to the good sense of honorable senators, and not to the judgment of the President.
– Oh, dear !
– I can understand that honorable senators opposite do not agree with that. Their idea of an august assembly like the Senate is that all our words and phrases shall be controlled by some one whom they have put in authority. I say that this august assembly, a House representative of the whole of the States of this great Commonwealth, should not have its rights taken from it in that way. My voice shall be raised on every occasion when I feel that, possibly with the best intentions, the President is setting up a precedent which will curtail the legitimate rights and privileges of any member of the Senate. I have no desire that the Senate should becoms a place where the President will not only control our phrases, but the manner in which .we shall illustrate our views. If that course were followed we might have a President who would do what I do not accuse you, sir, of doing. We might have a President who, when the Senate, in the teeth of the sound advice from this side, claimed the right to appoint a Committee to go through the length and breadth of Australia to investigate a great- question like that of liquor control, would prevent the Committee from doing so. What would happen then ? No doubt we should find honorable senators like Senators Earle, Shannon, Rowell, Millen, and Pearce saying, “ Quite right ! The President is the authority; the Senate has no rights in these matters.”
– The Senate is going to assert its right on the motion now before it.
– It is going to assert that the President may curtail a little further the rights of honorable senators, and that the President shall be the judge, not only of what senators say, but how they say it, and what Select Committees appointed by the Senate shall do or shall not do. I resent that attitude on the part of the President, and I shall vote for Senator de Largie’s motion.
– The question raised by Senator de Largie’s motion is a very important one. I hesitate to vest in any man the right to limit debate or to appeal to the Senate on any question. That power can only be vested in the Senate itself. I do not know whether there is a standing order which would prevent Senator Thomas referring to that part of the progress report of the Select Committee wherein it is stated that it is the desire of the Committee to go to parts of the Commonwealth they have not yet visited. It was when he was approaching that paragraph of the report that you, sir, ruled him out of order. To my mind, a very important principle is involved. If the Committee of which Senator Thomas is chairman should not prosecute its inquiries any further, that is for the Senate to say, and not you, sir.
– Order! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that matter. I wish honorable senators to understand that the matter to which Senator Needham is now referring was fully discussed before, and does not arise upon the motion submitted by Senator de Largie. I ask the honorable senator to address himself to the question that my ruling be disagreed with, and not to make it a hinge upon which to open a door by which he may make charges against myself that have not a single particle of foundation in fact.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, sir, to rule whether you are in order in imputing motives to an honorable senator on this side.
– I am perfectly in order, and I say so entirely impartially, although I am speaking myself. I am pointing out the evils which would arise if the course adopted by the honorable senator were pursued. Every honorable senator must know that there are many ways in which every question can be properly brought before the notice of the Senate. The honorable senator was trying to make use of the motion-
– I rise to a point of order. You, sir, rose to call Senator Needham to order, and, having done so, are you in order in addressing yourself to this question?
– I am in order in pointing out the reasons for my ruling, and an honorable senator in questioning niy ruling is not entitled to debate matters which do not properly belong to the motion now before the Senate. Senator Needham, in common with every other member of the Senate, will have many opportunities of bringing such questions before honorable senators.I have to ask that the debate shall be confined to the specific motion before the Senate, otherwise we may have a discursive debate, which will be in no way. conducive to arriving at the best decision. On the specific motion now before the Senate, no argument should be advancei except an argument as to whether my ruling was in accordance with the Standing Orders or not, and whether it should or should not be dissented from.
– Mr. President - having ceased your interjections-
-Order! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that statement and to apologize to myself and to the Senate for having made that offensive remark.
– I withdraw it, and apologize. With your permission, and the permission of the Senate, may I proceed to complete the sentence I had started when you interrupted me? Perhaps I may be permitted, with your indulgence, to address the Senate. I tell honorable senators that I was not reflecting on you in any manner at all; and might I be permitted to say you have endeavoured to put into my mouth words which I had no intention of uttering. Perhaps I will be permitted to say that I was referring tothe particular phase of the report to which Senator Thomas was directing attention when you ruled him out of order. I was addressing myself to the motion moved by Senator de Largie that your ruling be disagreed with. We have come to a pretty pass if an honorable senator is not to be permitted to conclude a few sentences without interruption from the President. It is a most remarkable thing. I had no intention of reflecting on you, as President of the Senate, in any shape; but I do say that the ruling you have given is limiting, and will limit, any debate in this Senate. I have been a member of the Senate for about twelve years, and, though other gentlemen who have preceded you in the high office that you occupy have had their rulings questioned, as yours has been to-night, this is the first time that judgment has been given before the evidence has been adduced. I have never known of any honorable senator being interrupted by the President whilst he was on his feet giving reasons in support of a motion against the President’s ruling.
– Order ! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark. To say that an honorable senator has been interrupted by the President whilst he is on his feet is offensive to the Chair. The honorable senator will recognise that the President is charged with the duty of seeing that a debate is carried on in a proper manner, and that if an honorable senator is called to order, it is not an interruption from the Chair.
– Then, Mr. President, I will withdraw it, and address myself to the motion, as I have been doing all the time, and, in my opinion, relevantly. Senator Thomas was referring to a paragraph in the report that it was the intention of the Committee to seek further evidence. Whether I am in support of that view is a different question altogether.
– I am not going to support it.
– I am not saying whether I am or not.
– I am going to vote against the Committee going any further.
– And I am going to support Senator de Largie, and vote against your ruling, Mr. President, because the Senate should determine whether members of the Committee should or should not go further.
– That is not the question.
– That has no connexion with the motion to adopt the report.
– I point out that in the report there is a certain paragraph which is under consideration. Surely it is relevant for the mover of the motion to say that it is the desire of the Committee to go further.
– But he has said it all. before.
– That may be so, but a good thing cannot be said too often..
– There will be no end to it.
– I hope there will be an end’ to the honorable senator’s interjections. Really, the question is whether or not an honorable senator may refer to a certain matter contained in a printed document. We might as well apply the President’s ruling to a paragraph in a Bill ; and if it is upheld, I fear discussion will be limited in future about certain matters. I have no personal animus in the matter at all; but I shall support the motion against your ruling, sir, and I hope that you will quote your authorities when you are giving your final ruling.
– Surely he will not speak any more on this matter.
– The President has spoken four or five times already. I do not think that Senator Thomas has broken any standing order in referring to a paragraph in the report.
– I venture to express the hope that in discussing the matter raised by Senator de Largie’s motion we shall, at least for the remainder of this debate, be able to do so without anything in the nature of personal reflections on you, Mr. President. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) has said that the decision given by the President will tend to limit the rights of honorable members of this Chamber. Does any honorable senator with any knowledge of parliamentary procedure believe that? All the Presidents in the world could not do it. Let us consider for a moment what the President is in his high office for. He is there to give effect to the Standing Orders. The President does not create them. This Chamber is both their architect and guardian. Have Standing Orders been created for the purpose of curtailing the liberties of debate? Have they been brought into existence to limit the liberties of any honorable member?
– They are to silence the Opposition.
– If they did that, I think I would have a far greater regard for them than I have at the present moment.
– That is just the attitude of the Minister towards them.
– Our Standing Orders have been created for the benefit of all honorable senators, and particularly for the protection of minorities, and to determine the manner in which we shall carry on debates here. There is a wellknown standing order which says that the discussion of any motion must be relevant to it. The simple question now before the Senate is whether the matter which Senator Thomas sought to introduce into the discussion is pertinent to the motion, and it seems to me there is a very simple way of determining that issue. Senator Thomas has asked this Senate, by motion, to adopt the report of the ‘ Committee which he, as chairman, has presented; but he wants to discuss on that question whether the Committee should continue its peregrinations or not.
– The report which he asks the Senate to adopt contains a paragraph to that effect.
– That has nothing to do with the question before the Senate. Senator Thomas, on behalf of his Committee, has presented a report, and invites the Senate to adopt it; but on that motion he is endeavouring to bring into the discussion the question whether or not this Committee should continue their investigations. That, I take it, is the position now, and I point out that the two things have nothing in common. If, for instance, I hoped, as, no doubt, Senator Thomas hopes, that the recommendations of the Committee would be adopted, but if I opposed their continuation of the inquiry, what position would I be in then ? Is it to be held that, if I should vote for the adoption of the report, therefore I am also in sympathy’ with the Committee’s views about being able to continue their investigations?
– That is not the point at all.
– I say the two things cannot be voted upon under this motion, and they cannot be discussed.
– They may be discussed and disagreed with.
– We . are asked to adopt the report, and if we do so, we shall affirm that we approve of the Committee’s recommendations. But certainly there is nothing in the motion asking us to express an opinion as to whether this Committee should continue its journeyings or not.
– Supposing we turn the report down.
– Then the matter will be ended. In no sense are we asked, or invited, or given an opportunity of expressing any opinion as to whether the Committee should continue travelling about the continent or not.
– That is a strong argument for it.
– Certainly not.
– The Minister is not quite so logical as he usually is.
– The logic of my argument cannot be impugned. These two things cannot be connected, and I should like to remind those honorable senators who are supporting the motion that they will have ample opportunity of discussing this question. No honorable senator ought to give a vote in support of the motion under the impression that, unless .the President’s ruling is reversed, the Senate will have no opportunity of expressing an opinion upon this matter. Senator Thomas will not say that, because as an old parliamentarian, who, like my- 1 self, was trained in a fairly strenuous school, he knows that there are dozens of ways in which he can invite the attention of the Senate to the matter. Therefore it is no use for ‘Senator Gardiner, Senator Needham, and Senator de Largie to attempt to enlist the sympathy of honorable senators on the ground that unless they vote for the motion they will have no further opportunity of dealing with the question. The only peg on which Senator de Largie could have hung his argument was contained in this paragraph in the- report -
Your Committee have now examined witnesses in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Launceston, and hope to proceed to Sydney and Brisbane when Parliament adjourns, in order to complete their inquiries.
– I want to speak against that, but according to the ruling of the President I will not be permitted.
– Senator de Largie may do that by the introduction of a motion to cancel the authority previously given by the Senate for this Committee to travel about. He should move a specific motion to withdraw the leave given to the Committee. I appeal to honorable senators not- to be misled by any idea that if the President’s decision is upheld they will be deprived of any right. They will have ample opportunities under the Standing Orders tq discuss the question whether or not the Committee should continue their work. At the present time we are only considering the motion which invites us to adopt the report, and under those circumstances - only one course can be taken.
– The motion is that the report be adopted. Does that entitle us to discuss the whole report.
– It would depend on what the honorable senator means by discussing the report. Does he mean that he is entitled to discuss the whole of the evidence, some of which was irrelevant? We are simply asked to adopt the report presented by” this Committee.
– I do not want to mix the -two things up. I am not anxious, even if I had the right now, to discuss whether we should go any further. Even if your ruling were not sustained, I would not go further or make any further remarks on the subject. As I understand your ruling, Mr. President, no remarks can be made as to whether the Committee should or should not proceed further. Senator Earle has said that this Committee has been authorized by the Senate to do something. He read out what the Senate has done, and now’ he says that it is the duty of the Committee to go on.
– Yes, until you are stopped or have completed your work.
– Then no one can say why the Committee should or should not go on.
– Unless you submit a motion.
– No. I mean on this report. If this is carried no one can say, “ I think the Committee has done its duty.” or that it should not go any further .
– Yes, on another motion.
– No. I mean on this: not while we are discussing the matter that is actually before us.
– Of course not.
– Whether this motion is carried or not would not prevent our going on unless some one moved that we should not go on, and until that motion was carried in the Senate.
– Unless, of course, some other power interposed.
– Just so. That means that we can give no reason why we have only brought in a progress report. As a matter of fact, I have already broken the Standing Orders. I gave some reasons why we brought in a progress report, and why it was not necessary to secure more evidence before we could bring in this report. According to the strict ruling of the President, I should not have done that. I should have said, “ Here are the recommendations, and the reasons why We ask the Senate to support them,” and so on. T should not have said why it was a progress report, or why we have only brought it in as such. I did say that this was not our full report; and, in so doing, I went outside of my province.
– It is not outside it. It is “ it.”
– Your own motion is “ That the report be adopted.”
– At any rate, I . do not want to labour the question. As I have indicated, I shall not raise this other matter to-night. There are legitimate reasons why the Committee should not proceed unless directed by the Senate in future. But it seems to me that in the discussion there should be allowed to honorable senators the right to say whether they think the Committee should or should not proceed. If the ruling of the President is accepted, no one, while the discussion of this report is proceeding, will be able to say why we should not go on-
– You. have a perfect right to go on unless something is done to prevent you.
– I take it that that is so.
– The honorable senator will please not discuss that.
– Even if the motion is carried ! However, I will not proceed further.
– Mr. President-
– Order ! The question. I think, has been sufficiently discussed by honorable senators. I claim my right now to speak. The honorable senator, if he desires, will have an opportunity later.
– Mr. President, I rise to a point of order. Are you in order, sir, in refusing the right of the honorable senator to speak in this Senate, and in taking to yourself the right to speak-
– Has any one the right to- call the President to order?
– I am perfectly within my right in speaking to a question of order at any time.
– It does not necessarily close the debate, you know.
– But, Mr. President
– Order! The honorable gentleman will have a further opportunity of discussing the matter when my ruling has been disposed of.
– Mr. President-
– Order! The idea which is becoming prevalent in the minds of certain honorable senators that they may attack the presiding officer in this Chamber with impunity will have to be stopped.
– Mr. President, I only want to say-
– Order !
– But, Mr. President
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to obey the Chair. The Standing Orders strictly provide that no honorable senator shall interrupt the President when he is on his feet. I want to put this matter clearly to the Senate, so that it may have an opportunity of arriving at a right decision.
– I rose to a point of order-
– Order ! The honorable senator must resume his seat. I ask him to obey the Chair.
– I will obey the Chair; but I will dissent from your ruling; and, what is more, the Chair will have to obey the Standing Orders.
– The Chair will at all times obey the Standing Orders, for there is an obligation imposed by which not only honorable senators generally, but the President also must strictly abide
– But you are breaking the Standing Orders yourself.
– Order! The honorable senator must know that the Standing Orders are emphatic that when the President is on his feet-
– Good gracious ! But you are never off your feet.
– Order ! The honorable senator will show proper respect f or the Chair, or I shall considermyself at perfect liberty to enforce that respect.
– You are at perfect liberty to do as you like.
– Do not carry the matter farther.
– Then, has he any right to threaten me? I will not be threatened. I will not stand it.
– Order ! The Standing Orders compel me now to take a certain course.
-Then take the course.
– I will. I report Senator Gardiner to the Senate for continued disobedience to the Chair.
– You having reported Senator Gardiner to the Senate, Mr. President, for declining to obey your directions, I have no option but to move -
That Senator Gardiner be suspended from this sitting of the Senate.
I submit the motion without any comment.
– I second the motion.
– The question is that Senator Gardiner be suspended from the sitting of the Senate. Before putting that, I ask the honorable senator to reconsider his attitude and withdraw.
– Before you put the question, Mr. President, can I say anything ?
– Upon such a motion there must be no debate.
– What do you ask?
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the expression which he used towards the Chair.
– I am quite prepared to follow your directions in any way you like, to withdraw anything you consider offensive, to withdraw anything in connexion with this Senate. But I certainly must claim the right to protect myself.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not debate the matter at this stage.
– Am I not to be heard in defence? Am I to go out without an opportunity of discussing it?
– Upon the moving of such a motion as this there must be no debate. The Standing Orders say -
When any senator has been reported as having committed an offence he shall be called upon to stand up in his place and make any explanation or apology he may think fit, and afterwards a Motion may be moved - “That such Senator be suspended from the sitting of the Senate.”
No Amendment, Adjournment, or Debate shall be allowed on such Motion, which shall be immediately put by the President.
– Then I have no right to speak ?
– No honorable senator has a right to speak - not even the mover of the motion himself. I again ask Senator Gardiner, before putting the motion, if he will reconsider his attitude and withdraw his expression towards the Chair.
-From the beginning, Mr. President, you have been under a misapprehension. You take offence where none is intended. Senator Guy had risen to speak. You had - quite in an improper way-
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to discuss that.
– I again appeal to Senator Gardiner. I do not wish to take further action. Altogether, this incident is very regrettable. I will ask the honorable gentleman again to make the usual amende to the President.
– If anything has been said, or if any conduct of mine has been offensive to you, sir, I am prepared to withdraw it; but I refuse to admit that I have done anything that could be considered offensive to the President.
– You have been defying the Chair all the evening.
– I have asked the honorable senator to make the usual amende, which I have a right to expect of any honorable senator.
The honorable senator has not made, and refuses to make, the unreserved amende to the Senate and the Chair which is required by the Standing Orders, and
I must now put the motion without further comment -
That Senator Gardiner be suspended from this sitting of the Senate.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
SenatorGardiner. - I decline to withdraw.
Senator Gardiner having left the chamber escorted by the Usher of the Black Rod,
No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.
Now, if a question which has already been decided by this Senate cannot be again proposed during the same session, I ask honorable senators how it can possibly be in order to discuss it? Can it be in order to discuss a question which cannot be proposed ? If it be out of order to propose a question, obviously it must be out of order to discuss it. The standing order is emphatic upon this point. The only way in which it can again be discussed is upon a specific motion to rescind it. There is another point to which I desire to invite attention, namely, that only one specific subject of a motion may be discussed, and the matters which are immediately relevant to it. Now, whether this Select Committee shall travel from place to place, shall examine witnesses, and make reports, is manifestly not relevant to the Committee’s report. The two specific matters upon which the Committee have reported relate to a recommendation to allow invalid soldiers under medical care to obtain intoxicating liquor, and to the practice of “ shouting.” These are the two things in the report which the Senate is asked to consider, and to vote upon. In the report, which covers fifteen pages, these two recommendations occupy only two or three pages. At least fourteen pages of the report are devoted to a recital of the questions put to witnesses, and their answers thereto, and to a reprint of the New Zealand legislation on anti-“ shouting.” Can it be urged that, because some witness made an irrelevant statement in reference to some matter, it can be quoted at length on a motion for the adoption of this report?
Question - That the President’s ruling be dissented from - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 5
SenatorFerricks. - The bells did not ring when the Senate re-assembled after the dinner hour.
-I will ask the officers to see that the bells are rung, and if they are out of order to see that senators in the various rooms are informed. I am now notified by the engineer that the only bells which failed to ring were those in the billiard room. They have since been put in order.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The Select Committee do not take the stand that our soldiers, as a body, are addicted to strong drink. Others a thousand times better able than myself have paid a tribute to their heroism on the field of battle in no measured terms. We can not only speak of their heroism, but can be very proud of their general conduct. They were our sons yesterday, and they are no less our sons because they have put on uniforms. We loved them yesterday; we love them all the more to-day because of what they have done for us. We go further, and say that in our opinion the soldiers compare more than favorably with the civilians in this regard. I should have liked to read some of the evidence on that part of the inquiry, but I shall refrain to-night. Our soldiers are picked men in the first place, while quite a number of civilians who have loyally desired to go to the Front have been turned down, not so much because they were heavy drinkers, but because of the effect of alcoholism on their frames. So I say the soldier compares very favorably with the civilian. The evidence out before us showed conclusively that there is no question that the general drinking habits of the community have, to some extent, interfered with the full prosecution of the war.
– A very small percentage.
– I referred to the general drinking habits of the community. I did not refer to the soldiers. I had intended to give some quotations on that point,but again I refrain. I simply say, In conclusion, that great sacrifices have been made for Australia. The greatest have been made by the soldiers themselves, some of whom have come back halt, maimed, and blind, whilst some will never come back. Next to them, we take it that the mothers and wives have made the greatest sacrifices, but fathers, brothers, and sisters also have been called on to make sacrifices. We ask this, which may be only a little sacrifice, that the civilianshall cease shouting intoxicating liquors either for soldiers or for civilians, for the sake of soldiers. We ask for that little sacrifice, if sacrifice it may be called. If the two recommendations of the Committee are carried out no one in the community will be any the worse, and some will be all the better. If the labours, or even the “ junketings “ of the Committee have hastened by ever so little the Government putting our recommendations into force, our efforts will not have been wasted, and even if £240 has been spent on the inquiry, it will not have been spent altogether in vain.
– I rise to order. I desire your ruling on the question whether the report is properly before the Senate, and whether the Senate can consider it. I was loath to interrupt Senator Thomas when he was addressing himself to the report and recommendations, but during the discussion of the previous point of order it occurred to me that the procedure followed in connexion with the Committee is not in accordance with the Standing Orders. Standing order 294 provides, under the heading of Select Committees -
On the appointment of every Committee, a day shall be fixed for the reporting of their proceedings to the Senate, by which day the final report of the Committee shall be brought up by the chairman, unless further time be moved for and granted; but the Senate may at any time prior to such day receive the final report of the Committee.
On looking at all the standing orders bearing on Select Committees, it appeared to me that the only report contemplated and dealt with is the final report, and that there is no authority for any Committee to bring up a progress report by way of recommendation, or for the Senate to consider it.
– Is there any prohibition ?
– I think so. It is a well-known principle in the law of interpretation that the express mention of certain things impliedly excludes others, or, as it is put in Latin, Expressio unius exclusio altering. Standing order 309 provides -
By leave of the Senate a Committee may report from time to time its proceedings, with or without the evidence, or the evidence only.
There is no provision there for a Committee reporting its recommendations, and generally there seems to be no provision in the Standing Orders for a progress report so far as recommendations are concerned. Was leave granted under standing order 309?
– The Committee waa granted, on the 22nd January of this year, leave to report its minutes of evidence from time to time.
– Under standing order 309 the Committee may report ite proceedings from time to time. That refers to the report of the proceedings in its meetings, with or without the evidence, or the evidence only.
– Do not the proceedings include the recommendations?
– No, they refer to the minutes of the proceedings, which are generally printed with the report. As a rule, there are printed the recommendations, the evidence, and the minutes of the proceedings at different meetings. I am not raising the question in relation to this particular Committee, but as a general principle. My point is : Is it competent for a Committee to bring up a progress report in the way of recommendations?
Let us see what is the position so far as the general principle is concerned. I find that May, in the 11th edition, page 418, referring to Select Committees, says -
When it is desired to report any matters to the House, not comprised in theorder of reference, or otherwise exceptional, leave is obtained from the House to make a special report.
It is the custom not to report the evidence until the inquiry has been completed, and the report is ready to be presented But where an intermediate publication of the evidence, or more than one report has been thought desirable, the necessary power has been conferred upon the Committee on its appointment, or the House has granted leave subsequently, on the application of the Chairman, for the Committee to “ report its opinion or observations from time to time,” or to “ report minutes of evidence” only, from time to time. And until the report and evidence have been laid upon the table, it is irregular to refer to them in debate, or to put questions in reference to the proceedings of the Committee.
It appears that in the House of Commons they have had to adopt a separate standing order - I think it is No. 63 - to enable Select Committees to report their recommendations from time to time, and to bring up progress reports. We have no standing order that expressly authorizes any Select Committee to make a progress report as to its opinions or its recommendations. But we have a standing order by which the Senate may give to a Select Committee leave to report proceedings, with or without its evidence, from time to time. It seems to me that the whole’ of the Standing Orders, in the chapter dealing with Select Committees, contemplate as a report a final report, and if this or any other Select Committee were to have power to make progress reports, that power should be given to it at the time the Committee is constituted.
– Will the honorable senator go so far as to say that, by his contention, a Select Committee would be prevented from presenting a progress report? The Committee have already presented their progress report.
– It was not presented in order.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the presentation of the progress report was out of order?
– I should say that it was out of order. As to the constitution of the Committee, the Senate resolved on the 10 th January -
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire as to the extent that intoxicating liquor is adversely affecting outgoing and returned soldiers, and the best method of dealing with the sales of intoxicating liquor during the period of the war and of demobilization and repatriation, with power to call for papers and witnesses.
Then, on the 22nd of January, the Senate further resolved -
That the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the effects of intoxicating liquor on outgoing and returning soldiers have leave to report its minutes of evidence from time to time.
I contend that this authorization of the Select Committee expressly to report its minutes of evidence from time to time impliedly prohibits the Committee from going beyond that. That was the practice in the House of Commons, and they had to adopt a special standing order to enable Select Committees generally to report their opinions or recommendations. That standing order would not be adopted by us, because, as Senator Millen and others who were here at the time will remember, when we framed our own Standing Orders there was in the original draft a first provision that in all matters not expressly provided for in our Standing Orders the practice and procedure of the House of Commons should be applicable, but objection was taken to that in the Senate when we adopted our Standing Orders, and it was held that we should form our own precedents. We stand, therefore, in the same position as the House of Commons stood before it had adopted any standing order expressly bearing on this point. I think that our Standing Orders contemplate the presen tation by a Select Committee of only one report, and that the final report, of the Committee. They contemplate the possibility of the Senate giving leave to a Select Committee to make certain limited progress reports, and impliedly exclude the power . of the Committee to report opinions or recommendations: The question I raise is purely a technical one, and does not in any way touch the merits or character of the progress report of this Select Committee. I might have taken my point earlier, but, as I have said, I did not wish to disturb the current of Senator Thomas’ remarks, because, as he was addressing himself to the report, I thought that he should be permitted to state the merits of his case without interruption. For that reason, amongst others, I abstained from taking any part in the discussion which occurred during the .course of the honorable senator’s address. I think it will be found that there is no express power for a Select Committee to make a progress report; that there is express power with regard ]to a final report, and the limited kind of report mentioned in standing order 309; and in view of the existence of these express provisions all not included in them is impliedly unauthorized and prohibited.
– I do not think that the point raised needs any further discussion. Fortunately there are precedents of the Senate to guide us. Even > in the short time during which the matter has been discussed I have been able to look up a few of those precedents, and I find that a certain practice has been well established. In the session of 1907-8 there was a Select Committee appointed to consider the powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate. No less than two progress reports were brought up from that Committee before the final report was presented.
– What was the Select Committee referred to?
– It was a Committee moved for by the late Senator Lt.-Colonel Neild.
– Did the progress reports of that Select Committee contain any recommendations? That is Senator Keating’s point.
– I have not had time to go into the matter fully. The reports were read by the Clerk, and ordered to be printed and taken into consideration later. They were followed by a final report, which was presented from the Committee.
– Were the progress reports under standing order 309?
– I have not had time to look up the exact particulars, but if the honorable senator will refer to the Journals of the Senate for 1907-8 he will see them. There are other cases also. The practice of the House of Commons is similar, as honorable senators will see, not only from May, but from the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Standing order 63 of the House of Commons provides that -
Every Select Committee having power to send for persons, papers, and records shall have leave to report their opinions and observations, together with the minutes of evidence taken before them, to the House, and also to make a special report of any matters which they may think fit tobringto the notice of the House.
So that they have not only the right to make progress reports, but to make special reports.
– That is under that special standing order.
– That seems to me to go much further than was contemplated by the Committee whose report we are now considering. Senator Keating was perfectly right in pointing out that, under our Standing Orders, there is a time beyond which a Select Committee may not go before presenting its final report. There is a definite and very good reason for such a provision. It is necessary to prevent an inquiry by a Select Committee being prolonged indefinitely and contrary to the wishes of the Senate. There is no prohibition in that standing order against a Select Committee presenting a progress report. I do not think it is necessary that I should labour the matter. The practice is already very well established, and I rule that Senator ‘Thomas was in order in presenting a progress report from the Select Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– For the . information of the Senate, I desire to draw attention to the policy which the Government have adopted of encroaching upon and filching the park lands from the people. I was prevented from speaking on this subject this afternoon by the Standing Orders, and I wish to refer to it now. The Government, by Executive action, are encroaching upon another park land in Sydney, known as Wentworth Park. Last week I was in Sydney in company with the member for West Sydney (Mr. Wallace), and went down to the park to see what the Government were doing there. We noticed that from 15 to 20 acres had been commandeered by the Government, and that foundations had already been laid down for the erection of wool storage buildings. The arguments adduced in this chamber relating to another park do not apply to this area, because it is plainly evident to anybody who visits the site that there is vacant land outside this park, and right in the midst are huge wool stores belonging to such firms as John Bridges and Company, the New Zealand Company, and Winchcombe, Carson, and Company. These buildings occupy three sides of a vacant area, which, presumably, is privately owned land. The Government, however, for reasons best known to themselves, did not acquire any of this private land, but have encroached upon the area reserved for park lands. While walking around the park we noticed, also, that portion had been utilized for a tennis court, and that a still further encroachment had been rendered necessary by the erection of buildings for kindergarten purposes, both, no doubt, very desirable institutions, but both further restricting the area of park lands. It seems to me that the Government have taken very drastic action with regard to this area.
– The Commonwealth Government could not possibly have erected the kindergarten buildings.
– No; but I mention this fact to indicate that the area of park lands had been still further restricted. It will be argued, of course, that this site is on a water frontage; but it really is merely an indent of the harbor, up which no large vessels can come, and from a casual inspection of the locality it seemed to me that the facilities for handling the wool might just as well have been provided 100 miles up country as in that locality, because the wool will have to be handled a second time before it is shipped. I fail,utterly, to see the necessity for the action of the Government in acquiring this area of park lands. The locality is thickly populated, and many children were to be seen playing about in the small area that remains of the park. It may be pointed out, on behalf of the Government, that it is only a temporary arrangement, but my firm conviction is that once this right has been taken from the people, and buildings have been erected and commercial operations established there, it will be extremely difficult subsequently to resume the area for public park purposes again. It appears to me that by allowing this to be done we are acquiescing in the demand of commercialism to make use of what are really the lungs of our great cities. I mention this fact because several speakers on another matter to-day referred to the fact that there was no other land available. I noticed that some fine fig. trees had been cut down, and foundations put in for large buildings, and to me this appeared to be an act of absolute vandalism. In my opinion the locality is not suitable for. the establishment of these stores, because modern commercial businesses of this nature work on what is termed the sloping principle, and land with ‘a higher side seems specially adapted for their use. Once the Wool Stores are established there I fear that the land will be gone for good, so far as the people are concerned. Those honorable senators who in silence this afternoon supported the Government in filching park lands from the people should consider where their action will lead them.
– Order! The honorable senator must not continue in that strain.
– I am endeavouring to show that the settled policy of the Government is injudicious. I am not able to say what influence is operating, but it must be generally admitted that the pastoral people have been doing fairly well during the past two or three years, and should not require any further coddling by the Government at the expense of the people. This policy on the part of the Government is detrimental to the best interests of Australia as a whole, and if allowed to continue without opposition it may be only a matter of time before it is extended to other cities of the Commonwealth. I hope the Government will desist from any further extension of this rapacious proposal to filch park lands from the people.
– The area of land referred to by Senator Ferricks is situated probably on the most closely-settled district in Sydney, and 1 am astounded thab the Government should misappropriate that portion of Wentworth Park. There are innumerable other areas convenient to the city which might have been acquired, and which, in my opinion, would have been equally suitable for this purpose. Personally I strongly protest against their action, more particularly against appropriating this park without the knowledge of the Senate or Parliament. I have no faith whatever in these temporary misappropriations of park land areas, because once they are gone, it seems to me, they cannot be again secured for recreation purposes.
– This is only a temporary arrangement.
– As a matter of fact, frontages of other parks have been leased temporarily for a long number of years, with the result that vested interests have grown up, and during all these years the people have been robbed Qf the privilege of walking over the grass land. I can well remember when the people were prohibited from even walking across the grass on the park, which has now been misappropriated by the Wool Committee or the Government, and had to confine themselves exclusively to the asphalted or rough footpaths. Apparently, the area of this park is now to be reduced by at least 50 per cent., and I enter my strong protest against this action on the part of the Government.
I do not wish to detain the Senate for more than a few minutes longer, but I should like information from the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) in regard to a letter which I have received, and which is as follows: - 110 Queensberry-street, Carlton, 15th May, 1018.
The military authorities yesterday (Tuesday, 14th inst.), visited the above premises, and seized all the printed petition forms and a number of other papers.
We Italians now feel that we are helpless to express our protestation against the introduction of conscription for Italians if our right of petition is to be taken from us.
We appeal to you to assist us to retain this right, which, we believe, is recognised as an institution in the Commonwealth of Australia.
I should like to know whether it is a fact that this action has been taken, and, if so, was it takenwith the consent of the Government ?
– I regret that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Millen) is absent for the moment, as I wanted to ask him if an opportunity would be given to proceed with some private business which I have on the notice-paper. Last week he assured me that there would be an opportunity, before the adjournment of Parliament, to discuss the matters I have indi cated, and I would like to know now when there’ will be a chance of disposing of them, particularly Order of the Day No. 1. 1 thought there might have been time this evening, though I know that new business may not be introduced after 10.30, but at 10.28 the Leader of the Senate moved the adjournment. I am not at all objecting to that, but I should like to know from the Minister for Defence if he can let me know if an opportunity will be given, prior to next Thursday evening, without inconveniencing the Government business, to discuss those items standing in my name.
– Referring to the matter raised by Senator Ferricks, I may say that the temporary use of the park lands referred to is necessary for the storage of wool which has been purchased by the British Government. I think Senator Ferricks and other honorable senators know that this is an entirely temporary measure, which has been forced upon us by the recent shortage of shipping. This wool must be stored somewhere in the vicinity of shipping facili-, ties. It is one of the sources of our national wealth - one of the things that keep the wheels of industry going in this country. That wool has been paid for by the British Government. If it had not been purchased, we should now have seen thousands of unemployed and starving people throughout this country. We have a right, therefore, to make available to the British Government facilities for storing the wool at not too great a cost. Obviously, if we compelled them to resume land in any of our big cities, the cost would be enormous, and it would be quite unfair to the British Government, which have treated Australia so generously in this matter. We know that there is no private or other land available, with the exception of this reserve. To talk about storing the wool 100 miles away is to suggest that we are going to add to the already high cost of that wool to the Imperial Government. It should be remembered that it is not paid for until it has been appraised, and that, as the appraisement must take place within the wool warehouses, if facilities are not provided for its storage so as to permit of its removal without difficulty, the period will be lengthened over which the payments are made. That would be delaying the payment to the grower, and thus hindering the circulation of the money throughout Australia. By handling it at the storage depot, so soon as the wool is appraised it can be removed from the warehouse, and the money paid down, so that it may be circulated without delay, and contribute towards providing necessary employment throughout the country.
– You will have to re-handle it from where you are putting up the buildings now.
– The park lands have not been resumed, and there is no intention to do so. There is no proposal to divert them from their purpose as park lands. It is simply a temporary arrangement which has been agreed to by the consent of the State Government and the park trustees; and the “Wool Committee have undertaken to fully restore any damage done to the park lands, at the expense of the Wool Pool. Either the British or the Australian Government will be mulct to whatever extent may be necessary, and the park is to be restored in its original order.
– They are hacking down trees over acres.
– You will see trees being cut down in any park any day, and other trees being planted in their place.
There is an endeavour being made to defeat and thwart the intentions of the Italian Government to call to their colours certain Italians in this country who have never taken on themselves British nationality. There is an attempt proceeding by various means to create trouble and discontent, and certain people in Australia are lending themselves to that practice. The Government intend to firmly set their face against that by every lawful means possible, and to see that the law is carried out. I do not intend, under cover of Parliament, therefore, to give any information that will assist in fomenting that disturbance outside.
It has not been through any action of the Government that the motion standing in the name of Senator Needham has been deferred from time to time. The Government are not responsible for the fact that the motion has not been dealt with hitherto. So far as possible, it is the intention to give the honorable senator an opportunity, and to provide generally for private business. Senator Needham asks that additional facilities be provided over and above those ordinarily permissible.
– Without hampering Government business.
– That is so. I cannot give a promise other than that, if the opportunity does occur, as it possibly will towards the end of the session, when this Chamber may be awaiting business from another place, the Government will be quite willing to permit of private business being brought forward. But I cannot give any actual undertaking to enable such motions to be disposed of.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 May 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19180516_senate_7_84/>.