7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether, in view of the difficulty that must be encountered in returning our soldiers, he will ask if the British Government will place at the disposal of the Commonwealth all surrendered war vessels of Germany, in order that our troops may be returned in them to Australia?
– It israther a large order to answer such a question offhand. I shall certainly give consideration to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he is in a position to supply any information concerning the Business Board of the Defence Department, in reply to questions I submitted last week?
– On the 28th November, the honorable senator asked the following questions: -
I am now able to supply the following information in answer to the questions: -
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911. -
Orders of Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and other documents, in connexion with variations or further variations of awards in the following cases : -
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers Association (dated 8th November, 1918).
Australian Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Officers Association and Commonwealth Postmasters Association (dated 8th November, 1918).
Australian Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association (dated 8th November, 1918).
Australian Letter Carriers Association (dated 8th November, 1918)- (2 cases).
Commonwealth General Division Telephone Officers Association (dated 21st November, 1918).
Federated Public Service Assistants Association of Australia (dated 8th No vember, 1918).
General Division Officers Union of the Trade and Customs Department (dated 8th November, 1918).
Postal Sorters Union of Australia (dated 7th November, 1918).
Lands Acquisition Act 1906-1916. - Land acquired at Ballarat, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Naval Defence Act 1 910-1912.- Regulations amended.- Statutory Rules 1918, Nos. 297, 298, 300.
Papua. - Ordinance No. 14 of 1918. - Pearl, Pearl-shell, and Beche-de-mer.
Public Service Act 1902-1917.- Promotion of H. Potter, Postmaster-General’s Department.
– In view of the fact that the Paper Board has decided to discontinue its operations, and to pass out of existence, I ask the Leader of the Senate how many more of the numerous Boards appointedby the Government have followed this excellent example?
– I do not assent to the proposition that the example set by the Paper Board is necessarily excellent, and as to the further portion of the honorable senator’s question, I must ask him to give notice.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether Ministers will take into their favorable consideration the suspension of the entertainments tax upon tickets for admission to swimming baths during the continuance of the hot weather?
– I do not know that there is any necessity to suspend the operation of the tax in hot, rather than in any other, kind of weather, but I am not able to answer the honorable senator’s question at the present moment.
– Seeing that the Government, in connexion with the entertainments tax, are compelling billiard saloon keepers to furnish certificates showing the number of games played in their saloons, will Ministers provide similar certificates for the wealthy people who can afford to have private billiard tables in their own homes?
– The honorable senator must surely see that there is no parallel between the two cases which he has quoted.
– The wealthy must be exempt.
– The person who visits a public billiard saloon does so knowing that he must ; pay the tax. Obviously the tax gatherer cannot follow a man into the privacy of his home in order to ascertain what he does.
– In view of the fact that the end of the session is approaching, can the Minister for Repatriation give us any indication of when the Housing Bill relating to returned soldiers will be introduced?
– The first step in connexion with the introduction of that measure I hope to take to-morrow or, at latest, on Friday of this week.
– (By leave) - Honorable senators will recollect that at the termination of Senator Pratten’s statement in this Chamber last week relative to the Government control of metals and the export of scrap tin, I intimated that that statement would be placedbefore the gentlemen whose names had been used, and, upon receipt of their replies, the Government would give consideration to the matters which had been brought forward. Following that action, a proof copy of Senator Pratten’s speech was immediately forwarded to the gentlemen concerned, with an invitation to them to forward such comments upon it as they wished to make. I now propose to read the letters which have reached me in consequence of those communications. The first letter is from Sir John Higgins, dated 29th November, and is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. It is as follows : - 29th November, 1918.
Sir, - I beg to reply to the statements made by Senator Pratten in the Senate yesterday afternoon regarding tin scrap.
When I assumed the position of Metallurgical Adviser to the Commonwealth Government (practically my services were requisitioned under the War Precautions Act), I was instructed by the then Attorney-General - Hon. W. M. Hughes, P.C. - that the policy of the Commonwealth Government regarding metals was to have, if possible, all ores and metals treated and refined within the Commonwealth, and to submit proposals to give effect to this policy. I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to carry out my instructions. The results must speak for themselves.
As regards “ scrap metals,” and particularly all forms of iron and steel scrap, the method adopted has been to conserve for Australian use the maximum quantities. From time to time letters have been addressed to the Hon. the Prime Minister and the Hon. the AttorneyGeneral from the Australian users of scrap iron and steel to prohibit, absolutely, the exportation of scrap iron and steel in all forms. With occasional exceptions that policy has been followed, with the result that practically all scrap iron and steel has been worked up in Australiaby the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Newcastle, the Lion Boiling Mill’s, Melbourne, the Victoria Rolling Mills, and others. The outcome of this policy has been, with the scarcity of shipments from overseas, to keep the local markets, during the war period, fairly well supplied with certain standard types of steel rods, bars, &c.
The embargo which was placed upon steel and iron by Great Britain and France was adopted by the Commonwealth with some exceptions. The United States of America also followed the same course on joining the Allies, with the effect that the Fast Indies, China, and Japan, were faced with a great shortage of iron and steel, hence the phenomenally high prices ruling in the East for scrap steel of all kinds.
The result of the shortage of stocks in Australia, the effect of the embargo, and the inducements offered by the Commonwealth Government, have been important factors in the huge and rapid development of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s steel works at Newcastle, and the impetus given to all other companies and firms using scrap iron or steel.
The formation of the Australian Electric Steel Company, using scrap metal as the raw material, is the direct outcome of the Commonwealth’s policy. This company has already expended £40,000 in plant and appliances, has not distributed after three years’ work one penny as dividends amongst shareholders; yet the directors and shareholders of this company are so satisfied with the Commonwealth Government’s policy and the prohibition of export on scrap iron and steel that the company has arranged to expend a further £80,000 in the Commonwealth in the extension of the present plant and in the establishment of branch works. This company has also decided to install plant for the manufacture of ferro-alloys - a most important industry to Australia.
Another example of the Commonwealth Government’s policy is the Austral Wire and Nail Company, which is now erecting plant in close proximity to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s works at Newcastle, to draw wire, roll steel bands for wool dumping and packages, and to embark on the manufacture of wire ropes. Other illustrations of the soundness of the Government’s policy could’ be given.
In pre-war times portion of the Australian production of tin scrap was purchased and shipped to Germany, but a large portion was carted to the “ rubbish dumps.” Previous attempts had been made in Australia unsuccessfully to treat the tin scrap.
The Metals Recovery Company Proprietary Limited was formed to treat tin scrap in Australia, and after much experimental work, perfected a commercial process and started operations. The capacity . of the works, according to the company’s statements, is now 5,000 tons per annum, which is to be increased sufficiently to work up accumulated stocks within a reasonable time, and to treat current production.
Assume the treatment by the company of 7,500 tons of tin scrap annually, the gross value of the tin recovered - 150 tons - should be at the low figure of £250 per ton, equal to £37,000, and the resultant scrap steel - 7,500 tons - at £3 per ton, is equal to for that metal £21,000, or a total of £58,000. In addition to the Melbourne works, there is another company carrying on similar operations in Sydney.
With the establishment of tin-plate manufacture in Australia, which is imperative to safeguard many primary industries, such as meat canning, jams, preserved fruit, condensed milk. &c, the conservation of metallic tin and the development of all sources of supply, together with protection of Allied industries, must be a sound and prudent policy. The Japanese were not buyers of tin scrap prior to the war, nor, I believe, before the formation of this company. If the embargo were lifted upon tin scrap, which consists of 2 to 3 per cent. of tin and 96 to 97 per cent. of steel, then there would be justification in asking for the embargo to be raised on steel scrap, the product of the detinning process, or any other form of steel scrap.
Since the embargo was placed on scrap . metals, scores of applications have been refused for the exportation of same overseas. This course was imperative in the interests of the Imperial Government, and to conserve stocks in Australia and protect Commonwealth industries. For many months applicants were pressing for the freedom of exports of all descriptions of iron and steel - manufactured or scrap - to the East, whilst the local users were short of supplies. Very strong measures had to be taken by the Commonwealth Government, not only as regards scrap metals, but also pig iron, steel billets, rails, &c. Application was made by a company of the highest standing - Dalgety and Co. - to be allowed to export tin scrap to Japan. I recommended the Minister to refuse the application. It was after this refusal that I first learned that Colonel Oldershaw was connected with the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd.
I was. advised later that a syndicate had purchased certain stocks of tin scrap, and received notification that Mr. Ambrose Pratt, of the Miming Standard newspaper, was considerably interested in it. An application was made by Mr. Ambrose Pratt to ship a definite tonnage of tin scrap to Japan. This was also refused. Dalgety and Co., the Ambrose Pratt syndicate, and the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd. were treated alike. None of the applicants were permitted to export the scrap metals - the latter the resultant steel scrap from the detinning process; the two former tin scrap.
As an adviser, my duty is to uphold the policy of the Commonwealth Government if practicable. I am not specially concerned as to the details, but I must pay strict attention to the principles involved. In any application for the shipment of iron, steel or tin scrap, the problem is almost the same, and may be summarized under the following headings: -
In the case in question - steel scrap - because tin scrap consists of 96. per cent. to 97 per cent. of steel, I arrived at the conclusion, and I think rightly, in favour of. local treatment. This decision was not arrived at hurriedly, but after most careful consideration. I maintain that the action decided upon, viz., to support and assist in Australia an industry (to utilize a waste product - tin scrap - and which there is every reason to believe can bo made permanent, is of far greater value to the Commonwealth than the mere Sale of a parcel or two of scrap metal during war time, when prices and markets are abnormal.
As to the price paid for the tin scrap, that is ruled, as far as the recoverable tin contents, by the price of metallic tin in the world’s markets, but local conditions practically govern scrap steel, which at the date of the application was very much lower in Australia than in China or Japan, and the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd. was, and is, forced to accept the Australian price for its scrap steel after the removal of the tin coating. The low price for Australian steel scrap governs the position. This fact must be emphasized.
– I cannot tell.
The document continues -
The embargo was placed on scrap metals by the Commonwealth Government in 1915. The Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd. was formed in 1917. I say deliberately and positively that the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd. did not receive, as far as I am aware or concerned, preferential treatment or concession of any kind from the Commonwealth Government beyond the influence resulting from the embargo on scrap metals which applied to all parties interested in the working and treatment of scrap metals, on identically like terms. It is readily admitted that the satisfactory disposal of a by-product suchas tin scrap is a factor in certain industries; on the other hand, steel scrap is the raw material of primary importance in other industries. The course to be followed, then, is that which will be of the greatest good to the greatest number, and I contend that the evidence is decidedly in favour of the treatment of the scrap metals in the Commonwealth.
As to the conference that I held in the AttorneyGeneral’s Office, when Mr. Ambrose Pratt stated the case for his syndicate, I admitted, without hesitation, that the terms then offered by the company were unsatisfactory and harsh to producers of tin scrap, and in my recommendation to the Attorney-General stipulated -
That the producers should receive 75 per cent. of the profits, not 25 per cent., as in the company’s previous proposal.
That the works should be extended to treat current production, and to work up accumulated stocks within a rea sonable time.
That the company should enter into a bond of £2,500 for the proper per formance of these terms.
All of the above conditions the company has agreed to accept.
The statement is absolutely untrue that I am interested in the company. I have never, at any time, directly or indirectly, been associated or connected with the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd., or any other metal or smelting or refining or mining company, since I assumed the position of Honorary Metallurgical Adviser to the Commonwealth Government.
When I was advised, after the refusal of Dalgety and Co.’s application, that Colonel Oldershaw was chairman of the company, I exercised extreme caution. I expressed on more than one occasion my disapproval as to his position with the company. I mentioned the matter to Colonel Oldershaw. I am perfectly satisfied that his actions have been beyond question, but I believed that his position in the Prime Minister’s Department, and his connexion with the company as chairman of directors, were liable to be misunderstood by some persons, hence my expressions of disapproval in order to protect the Minister in charge, the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department, and myself. I take exception to Senator Pratten’s frequent references to Colonel Oldershaw’s company. The correct title is the Metals Recovery Co. Pty. Ltd. - a properly constituted company, of which Colonel Oldershaw is chairman of directors.
After reconsideration of the whole case, the criticism and the hostile attack in the Senate - which was evidently inspired - I am convinced that the course which I recommended to the Minister was sound, and in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Senator Pratten states that the attack is not personal. If that be so, why introduce such irrelevant matter as “ the option of the Blythe River Iron Mines,” “wool tops,” &c, in a statement dealing with a refusal to recommend the lifting of the embargo - not the placing of an embargo - on tin scrap to a particular applicant?
It is necessary to state - because Senator Pratten and other members of Parliament have committed the same error - that I am not, and never have been, a Commonwealth officer, although I have for a considerable time conducted highly important and confidential work for the Commonwealth Government. If the Senate desire an inquiry, no one will be better pleased than the writer. The only qualification I can add is that it be a thorough examination, with preferably a High Court or a Supreme Court Judge in charge of the investigation.
In conclusion, I wish to state that, as Honorary Metallurgical Adviser to the Commonwealth Government, I made the recommendation that permission to ship tin scrap to Japan be not granted ; in other words, that the embargo be not lifted; and, further, I desire to emphasize the fact that the responsibility of adopting the recommendation rests with the honorable Minister.
I remain, sir,
Respectfully and obediently yours, (Signed) J. M. Higgins.
P.S. - I have given over four years of national service, which I do not regret; but I feel certain that the proceedings which occupied so much valuable time in the Senate on the 28th instant will not inspire other citizens to rush into honorary positions to assist their country in time of stress.
I wish to read now a letter from Colonel Oldershaw. It is addressed to the Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department, Melbourne, is dated “ Melbourne, 2nd December, 1918,” and is as follows: -
I have read the Hansard proof of the statements made by Senator Pratten in the Senate on Thursday afternoon, and, in reply, beg to submit the following : - .
Yours faithfully, (Signed) W. Oldershaw.
I have also a letter, forwarded to me by the Acting Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department (Mr. George Knowles), under date 2nd December. It is as follows: -
Department of the Attorney-General, Melbourne, 2nd December, 1918. Tin Scrap.
With reference to the discussion relative to tin scrap that took place in the Senate on Thursday last, on the motion of Senator Pratten for the special adjournment of the Senate, and to your verbal instructions to me to obtain from Sir John Higgins and Colonel Oldershaw reports in relation to the matters referred to by Senator Pratten, I have the honour to inform you that I at once communicated with the gentlemen in question, and have now received from them the ‘attached reports.
As, however, there are several phases of the matter referred to by Senator Pratten which are not dealt with in those reports, I, as the acting permanent head of the Department which deals with metals, desire to make the following report for your information.
The policy of the Government, as ‘ regards metals, has been to have all ores, mattes, impure metals, scrap metals, &c, treated within the Commonwealth, in order that the resultant metals may be put on the world’s markets in a refined state, and employment given to Australian labour. This policy was laid down by the Prime Minister early in the war, and has been steadily pursued ever since, with the result that at the present time the whole of the Australian output of ores, with the exception of zinc, and practically all scrap metals, residues, &c, are treated within the Commonwealth.
The policy finds legal expression in a proclamation under the Customs Act prohibiting the export of metals, alloys, and minerals from the Commonwealth without the consent of the Minister for Trade and Customs. (It may be mentioned, in passing, that this proclamation was issued nearly two years before the formation of the Metal Recovery Proprietary Limited.) In determining whether to grant or refuse applications for permission to export metals, &c, the Department of Trade and Customs acts on the advice of this Department.
As part of the policy of providing for the treatment of metals within the Commonwealth, the Government exercises a general supervision of local treatment companies, in order to insure that fair treatment is accorded by them to local producers. Several instances of alleged unfair treatment by local treatment companies have been investigated by the Department, with the result that in some cases the Department has secured improved terms for the producer, while in others it was satisfied that, under the present abnormal conditions, the charges made were fair and reasonable. Dealing now generally with the treatment of tin scrap, it may be mentioned that, before the war, tin scrap produced in Australia was either dumped on a tip or exported to Germany, a large portion of what was sent to Germany going tothe Goldsehmidt Works.
The impossibility of getting supplies to Germany led to the accumulation of tin scrap in Australia. Twelve months after the war started, and just before the imposition of the general embargo on the export of metals from Australia, several of the local producers, including the Australasian Jam Company, the managing director of which is Mr. A. W. Palfreyman, one of the owners of this particular parcel of tin scrap, inquired as to the possibility of supplying tin scrap to the Goldsehmidt Detinning Company of New York. The jam company, in making the inquiry, added that - “ So long as we make tins at all, there is a certain amount of ‘ scrap,’which, so far as we are aware, is quite unsaleable in Australia, there not being the necessary plant to handle it.”
The imposition of the embargo, coupled with the growing accumulation of tin scrap in Australia, led to the establishment of two detinning companies - Detinning Limited, at Alexandria, Sydney, and the MetalRecovery Pty. Ltd., at Melbourne.
It is difficult to estimate with any accuracy the annual production of tin scrap. The Department places it in the neighbourhood of 6,000 tons, while Mr. Ambrose Pratt, part owner of the parcel of tin scrap referred to by. Senator Pratten, places it at upwards of 4,500 tons.
The present capacity of the works of the Sydney company is 50 tons a week, or 2,500 tons per annum, and that company is stated to be treating the whole of the available production in New South Wales.
The capacity of the works of the Melbourne company has for some weeks been 60 tons a week; but this week extensive increases in plant will be completed, and the capacity will thereuponbe increased to 100 tons, or 5,000 tons per annum.
Thus, assuming that the departmental estimate of the annual production in Australia of 6,000 tons is a fair statement of the position, the works already established in Australia can handle the whole of it.
It may be mentioned that both companies have intimated that they are prepared to extend their works if increased supplies of tin scrap become available.
Dealing now with the particular parcel of tin scrap referred to by Senator Pratten, the following is a summary of the correspondence which has taken place with the Department in regard to it: -
In June last an application for permission to export 1,000 tons to Japan was made to the Department by a prominent company in Melbourne, whose traveller had just returned from Japan. The company stated it had purchased the scrap, but subsequent events disclosed that it was merely the agent of the owners of the scrap. In accordance with the practice of the
Department, applicants were referred to the local detinning company, and were informed that if a reasonable agreement could not be made with the local company, the application for permission to ship might be renewed.
The applicants thereupon approached the local detinning company, offering to supply the scrap at £2 15s. per ton. The company, however, having a largo stock of scrap on hand, and being largely ofa co-operative nature, was not desirous of purchasing the parcel outright, but suggested treatment on a co-operative basis, and offered to place the applicants on the same terms and conditions as if they were producers of scrap tin, and treat their scrap on the same co-operative basis as the company treated scrap belonging to its shareholders.
The applicants did not again communicate with the Department in writing,but, in the course of an interview, they hinted that the connexion of Colonel Oldershaw with the detinning company had something to do with the refusal of the desired permission to export - a suggestion which was, of course, wide of the mark, seeing that the refusal was in accordance with an embargowhich was imposed nearly two years before the establishment of the company with which Colonel Oldershaw is connected.
In September last Mr. Ambrose Pratt, managing editor of the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, applied for permission toexport to Japan 1,600 tons of tin scrap held by him. The parcel of 1,000 tons, for which permission had previously been refused, formed part of this parcel.
In reply, Mr. Pratt was requested to give further information as to the impossibility of treatment in Australia, and he gave some further information on 2nd October.
On 17th October, after several communications had passed by telephone, he was informed that- “ The policy of the Government is, if practicable, to have all ores, scrap metals, &c, treated within the Commonwealth. Works have, since the commencement of the war, been established both in Melbourne and Sydney expressly for the purpose of treating tin scrap. Theseworks are at presenttreating each week an amount greater thanthe weekly production of tin scrap in Australia, and both companies, if sufficient tin scrap is available, are prepared to extend their works. “I have accordingly to state that, before your application can be finally dealt with, it will be necessary for you to register the contract of sale of the scrap overseas with the Metal Exchange, and to produce evidence from the Australian detinning works that they are unable to treat the scrap, or that a reasonable arrangement cannot be arrived at with them for the local treat ment of the tin scrap held by you.”
In a letter in reply, on the same date, he referred to the correspondence that had taken place between the previous applicants for permission to export and the detinning company.
He did not combat the statement of the Department that the local companies were treating a greater quantity of scrap than the weekly production; in fact, he admitted that the companies might be treating an equivalent quantity, comprised partly of old and partly of new supplies, but maintained - as is, no doubt, the case - that the companies were not receiving the whole of the current output, inasmuch as several producers objected to the cooperative basis, which was the only basis upon which the local companies were prepared to treat. In conclusion, he threatened publicity if the export permit was not forthcoming promptly.
Conformably to the custom, which had been followed in metals administration, of bringing the parties in controversial cases face to face at the offices of the Department, a conference was summoned by the Acting Attorney-General to take place on 28th October. There were present at the conference -
Sir J. M. Higgins, who, on behalf, and in the unavoidable absence, of the Attor ney-General, occupied the chair;
Colonel W. L. Raws, chairman of the Aus tralian Metal Exchange;
Messrs. Pratt, Neuendorf, and Palfreyman, the owners of the scrap (the last two of whom were, for the first time, officially revealed to the Department as part owners) ; and
Colonel Oldershaw and Mr. Fitzgerald, representing Metal Recovery Proprietary Limited.
The main question at issue was the question of the terms of treatment of the scrap by the company. It is understood that the terms originally quoted by the Metal Recovery Propty. Ltd. were 75 per cent. of the profits to the company and 25 per cent. to the producers, after allowing for working costs, depreciation, and 7 per cent. interest on the amount of paidup capital of the company. The conference discussed the matter generally, Mr. Palfreyman, one of the owners, agreeing that “the work of detinning should bo done locally, if practicable.”
After the conclusion of the conference, the matter was further considered by the Department, in conjunction with Sir J. M. Higgins, the Honorary Metallurgical Adviser to the Commonwealth Government, and it was decided to notify the Metal Recovery Pty. Ltd. as follows: - “ With reference to the conference held on 28th instant, in connexion with the exportation of tin scrap from the Commonwealth, I have the honour to inform you that, as it was admitted by both parties that every effort should be made to treat tin scrap in Australia, it is proposed to refuse permission to export the tin scrap in question, on the distinct understanding that your company will be prepared to treat the parcel in question upon a basis considered by this Department to be satisfactory, and within a reasonable time. “ To this end I shall be glad if, within a week, you will call a meeting of the directors of your company to consider the treatment of the particular parcel in question, and also current production, due allowance being made for working stocks. “ I have also to state that satisfactory evidence must be forthcoming on or before the 30th proximo that your directors are prepared to increase the capacity of your plant, in order that the tin scrap may be treated within a reasonable time. “The division of profits at present fixed between your company and the producers is not considered satisfactory, and I shall be obliged if your directors will give special attention to the apportionment of profits, after deducting working costs, amortization, interest, &c. “I have also to ask that a certified list of the true shareholders in your company be forwarded as soon as possible. “ As you are aware, much attention has already been devoted to the treatment of tin scrap locally, and whilst the policy of the Commonwealth Government is to protect new industries, such as your company is conducting, it must be understood that it is the duty of the Government also to protect the producers of tin scrap. If your company should decide to undertake the treatment of this scrap metal, it will be necessary for the company to enter into a bond for the proper performance of the contract.”
A copy of the letter was forwarded to Mr. Pratt.
In reply, the Metal Recovery Company, on 11th November, wrote at length, reviewing the history of the company, its present output, and financial position, and the extensions being made to the plant. It intimated that it had been the intention of the directors to increase the amount to be paid for the scrap, either in the shape of a bonus at end of year, or by paying a larger percentage of the profits. It thereupon intimated that it was prepared to treat all scrap on the following terms: - Division of profits to be increased to 66 per cent. to the producer and 33 per cent. to the company, after allowing for working costs, depreciation, and 7 per cent. interest on paid-up capital. It further pointed out that it had already 2,200 tons on hand at the factory, and was receiving weekly deliveries to the amount of 40 tons a week. It was, however, prepared to treat Mr. Pratt’s parcel at the rate of 40 tons a week. It did not consider a bond was necessary.
As the Department considered that the bond was necessary, and that the division of the profits, namely, 66 per cent. and 33 per cent., was not entirely satisfactory, the company, on 22nd. November, made a further offer, altering the division to 75 per cent. to the producers, and 25 per cent. to the company. It also undertook to lodge with the Department a bond for £2,500 for the due performance of any contract entered into, and agreed to make monthly payments to Mr. Pratt on account of his scrap as treated.
Before this offer was communicated to Mr. Pratt, a conference took place between the Acting Prime Minister, the Acting AttorneyGeneral, Sir John Higgins, and myself. The matter was carefully considered, and the Government, concluding that the offer was a reasonable one under the circumstances, approved of the refusal of the permit to export. Mr. Pratt was accordingly notified in the following terms: - “ With reference to my letter to you of 30th ultimo, and your reply of 1st instant, in connexion with your application to export 1,600 tons tin scrap to Japan, I have to inform you that, as stated previously, the policy of the Government is to insist on the local treatment of all ores, scrap metals, &c, wherever facilities exist within the Commonwealth for their treatment on a reasonable tariff. “ Detinning works have been established at Melbourne and Sydney,, in accordance with the Government’s policy, and this Department has been in communication with the Metal Recovery Pty. Ltd., of Melbourne, as to the terms uponwhich it is prepared to treat the parcel in question. “ I understand that the company has increased its plant, so that early next month it will be capable of treating 100 tons per week, and the company is prepared to. still further increase its plant, if circumstances warrant such extension.. “I am informed that the company is prepared to take delivery of and treat 40 tons of your scrap per week, and is also prepared to divide with you the profits accruing from the treatment as follows: - “ The holders of the scrap to receive 75 per cent and the company 25 per cent. of the profits, the holders paying for actual working costs, including depreciation and interest at 7 per cent. on amount of capital actually paid up, payments on account to be made monthly.” “I may also add that the company is quite willing to enter into a bond to the Commonweath Government to faithfully carry out the terms of the arrangement as above set out. “ In view of the foregoing, permission to ship tin scrap from the Commonwealth cannot be granted.”
One matter in. this letter calls for attention - a matter arising out of the statement of terms in the fourth paragraph. That paragraph concludes with the words “ payments on account to be made monthly.” Those words are admittedly somewhat ambiguous, and have been construed by Senator Pratten as meaning thai the producers must make payments to the company monthly. What I intended to convey to Mr. Pratt was that the company was to pay to the producers monthly their share of the profits. I can, however, hardly under stand how Mr. Pratt can have, without inquiry from the Department, placed such a construction upon the words as he has done, inasmuch as before the offer was communicated to him in writing he, in the course of conversation by telephone, asked whether the offer meant that he was to await the treatment of the whole parcel before receiving anything on account, to which I replied that the Department would see that payment was made by the company periodically as the scrap was treated.
Before summarizing the position, I desire to draw attention to several inaccuracies in Senator Pratten’s speech.
In connexion with its metal administration, many instances are on record of successful effortsmade by the Department to bring buyer and seller together and overcome differences. In this particular case the intervention of the Department secured an altered division of the profits from 75 per cent. to the company, and 25 per cent. to the producers, to 25 per cent. to the company and 75 per cent. to the producers. I have already referred to the erroneous reading of the terms of the offer in so far as monthly payments on account are concerned.
In conclusion, Senator Pratten puts the following four questions, apparently as the crux of the whole matter: -
It is submitted that the following are appropriate replies: -
In conclusion, the departmental view of the complaints of Senator Pratten may be summarized as follows: -
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant, (Signed) Geo. S. Knowles,
Senator the Hon. E. D. Millen,
Following the reading of these documents, I have only to remind honorable senators that the suggestion running through the whole of the statement made by Senator Pratten last week undoubtedly was that there had been collusion between Sir John Higgins and Colonel Oldershaw, as the result of which a company in which Colonel Oldershaw was interested had obtained some benefits. After carefully consideringSenator Pratten’s statement and the replies furnished thereto, and after going into the matter most thoroughly, the Government have arrived at the conclusion that that suggestion is in no way sustained, that the facts set out in the memorandum which. I have just read dispose altogether of it. In these circumstances the Government do not feel that they are called upon to take any further action in relation to this matter
– Pardon me; it was an oversight on my part. I intended to move, and I do now move -
That the documents be printed.
– I have followed very closely the long statements which have been read by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen). I regret exceedingly that the Government have come to the conclusion that those replies to my statements are quite satisfactory. I say most unhesitatingly that the replies are incomplete, that to me they are unconvincing, that some of the salient points in my statement have not been touched by them, and that in some respects they appear to be misleading, if not inaccurate.
We have heard a good deal about the very valuable character of this steel product from the de-tinning works. I will not repeat all that has been said by Sir John Higgins, Colonel Oldershaw, and the representative of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, as to the value of this raw material to the Commonwealth. But I will tell honorable senators that the price which the de-tinning works in Sydney received for this product in 1915 was 25s. per ton. A year or two later they obtained 35s. per ton for it, and today they are receiving only 40s. per ton for this very valuable material.
– That £2 per ton is in Australia. It is not in Japan.
– Yet we have been told that this material is eagerly sought for by the local iron companies. Sir John Higgins has himself suggested an inquiry into the matters raised by me. Colonel Oldershaw, speaking from memory, has also suggested an inquiry, and I most emphatically affirm that the statements which have been read this afternoon by Senator Millen are incomplete, and, to some extent, misleading, if not inaccurate. Inasmuch as the Government will not consent to the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate this matter, and are apparently satisfied with the statements which their officers have made, I shall give notice of my intention to move to-morrow that a Select Committee of the Senate be ap- pointed to inquire into it on the lines aid down in my speech of last week.
.- I am very glad that Senator Pratten has intimated his intention of probing this matter further. There are now before the Senate two distinctly opposite statements, and Senator Pratten has declared that the letters which have been read this afternoon contain inaccuracies. I must express astonishment at the method adopted by the Government in reading, not a report from their officers in regard to this matter, but an attack on a senator.
– And an attack on the Senate.
– The officers in question went beyond the submission of a departmental report. They attacked a senator and the Senate. Now that Senator Pratten has affirmed that there are inaccuracies in their statements, no other course is open to the Government than to sanction the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the matter. Personally, I would prefer an inquiry by a Select Committee rather than by a High Court Judge. This Parliament, it must be remembered, is a higher tribunal than is the High Court. When Senator Pratten moves for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate this question, I hope that his motion will be so framed as to make the inquiry embrace the whole of the minerals of Australia during the war-time period. At present, we are discussing only the question of tin scrap. In my opinion, the whole business should be inquired into. If the Government will not move for the appointment of a Committee, if they are satisfied with the statements which have been read to the Senate, I trust that this Chamber will have sufficient courage to vindicate its own character. If such an inquiry be held, inaccuracieswill not then be able to stand, because the evidence tendered by witnesses will be given on oath.
– I listened to the speech which was delivered by Senator Pratten last week with care and attention, and I listened with equal, if not greater, care and attention to thereplies which have been read by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) this afternoon. I must confess that I was absolutely surprised at the concluding remarks of the honorable gentleman. I was surprised at his statement that, in the opinion of the Government, nothing further should be done. As a matter of fact, the letter of Sir John Higgins actually welcomes an inquiry into this matter, preferably by a Royal Commission, consisting either of a High Court Judge or a Supreme Court Judge. If my memory be correct, Colonel Oldershaw also makes reference to an inquiry, which he. courts. In the replies read by Senator Millen, a great many allegations are made, not merely by way of criticism of the remarks of Senator Pratten, but by way of criticism of Mr. Ambrose Pratt, Mr. Palfreyman, and others. Did the Government ask their officers anything in respect of those gentlemen? What has Mr. Palfreyman or Mr. Ambrose Pratt to do, with the actions of Sir John Higgins?
– What about Sir John Higgins’ lecture to the Senate?
– Sir John Higgins is not content to criticise the action taken by Senator Pratten ; he also criticises the Senate itself for devoting time to a consideration of what he has done. In a postscript tohis letter, he says that he has given four years of voluntary service to the Commonwealth in time of war. All honour to him, all credit to him, for that. But let no man think that, because he gives honorary service to this country, because he is placed in a position of trust and” responsibility, and because he is endowed with powers such as have been vested in Sir John Higgins, he is not to be subjected to criticism. That gentleman says that the action taken by Senator Pratten and the Senate in considering his conduct, is not calculated to attract from the business men of the community service such as he has rendered to the Commonwealth. We ought to resent that statement. I am prepared to give credit to all who have rendered voluntary service to the Commonwealth, either in respect of the war or in any other connexion. But a man so placed is not necessarily to escape reasonable criticism.
The criticism offered by Senator Pratten last week was, I submit, offered in a spirit of duty. In reply, it has been asserted that he was inspired to indulge in that criticism. Perhaps he was. But I am not concerned with whether he’ was or not. His criticism has been published, the replies to it have been read, and those replies involve a consideration of the conduct and statements of other persons, who, df the matter is now permitted to drop, will remain unheard. I think that .Senator Pratten is quite right in his decision to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into this question. I disagree, however, with the view that has been expressed by Senator Gardiner, in that I would much prefer an inquiry of this character to be undertaken either by a Supreme Court or a High Court Judge, or by some person altogether outside of parliamentary life.
.- The Government cannot accept a proposal for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate this matter. In the first place, Senator Pratten has based his claim for the constitution of such a body on the allegation that some of the statements which have been read this afternoon aire inaccurate. But he has had an opportunity of pointing out those inaccuracies. Yet he has not pointed to a single .statement as inaccurate. Anybody who listened to the honorable senator the other day will agree with me - I heard his statement throughout - that he was definitely charging collusion between Colonel Oldershaw and Sir John Higgins, and that he waa endeavouring to make it appear that the prohibition imposed on the export of this metal was imposed by Sir John Higgins in order to benefit Colonel Oldershaw. The replies to his statements are here. Does anybody contradict them ? They -are not merely statements, because they are backed up by a representative of the Attorney-General’s Department, who shows that there was an interval of two years between the time when the prohibition was imposed and the formation of the company in . which Colonel Oldershaw is interested. The Senate has heard both sides of this matter, and it is surely up to Senator Pratten, before we are asked to appoint a Select Committee, to say which of the statements read this afternoon are inaccurate. It may beurged that he has not had time to do so. But I can remember the leading statements made in those documents. I can put my finger upon them, and so can any other honorable senator. Instead of contradicting them, Senator Pratten has merely made a general charge that the replies read contain statements which are inaccurate. It may be that he has in mind the statements referred to by Senator Keating, in which other names - the names of Mr. ‘Palfreyman and Mr. Pratt - are introduced. But the charges made by Senator Pratten were not against Mr. Palfreyman or Mr. Pratt, but against Sir John Higgins and Colonel Oldershaw. Those charges have been refuted here today, not merely by the statements of these gentlemen, but by the letters read from the Attorney-General’s Department, which entirely destroy them.
– If a Select Committee were appointed, would not Mr.. Palfreyman and Mr. Pratt have a chance to repudiate the charges made against them?
– We are now concerned only with the charges made against Sir John Higgins and Colonel Oldershaw. To introduce other names is beside the question. It raises another matter. And, as for the mention df the names of certain other gentlemen, that would not justify the Senate in appointing a Select Committee upon another matter altogether.
– The question of the appointment of a Select Committee is not now before the Senate. There is before it a motion for the printing of certain papers.
– I understood that Senator Pratten had moved an amendment to the motion for the printing of the papers. However, I now take it that the honorable senator indicated his intention to move for the appointment of a. Select Committee.
The Government, in considering the various statements, had before them Senator Pratten’s charges, allegations, and insinuations. The Government also had before them the statementswhich have just been read, and which they were able to check with the records in Government Departments. And the Government are satisfied that those replies, in so far as they deal with the allegations made by Senator Pratten, are a complete rebuttal, and destroy any prima facie case which may have- been made out by Senator Pratten. There is no justification, in the opinion of the Government, for the money and the time of the country to be wasted upon a Select Committee in connexion with this matter.
Senator McDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [4.22]. -Charges have been made by Senator Pratten against certain Government officials. Those officials have themselves asked for an inquiry into those charges, so that they may rebut them. The Government are very lax in their methods ifthey say now that theywill take no further action. So far as Sir John Higgins is concerned, the Government are bound to appoint a Committee or Commission of some kind ; and such an investigation should be right outside of Parliament altogether. The Government should atonce appoint a Commission to inquire onto the grave charges of collusion made by Senator Pratten against certain officials.
– Mr. President
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– May I have the privilege, then-
– No; the honorable senator cannot speak a second time upon the question now before the Senate.
– Well, I will say it to-morrow, upon my motion.
– The rules of the Senate are emphatic with regard to the rights of honorable senators in addressing themselves to questions before the Senate. I point out, however, that the honorable gentleman will still have an opportunity to give notice of a motion, after the present question has been disposed of.
– May I move it now, sir ?
– The honorable gentleman must not interrupt the Chair. I am about to put the question.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Methods of Quarantine Department in Sydney.
– I have received from Senator McDougall an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ Methods of the Quarantine Department in Sydney.”
Senator McDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [4.24]..- I move-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 1 p.m. on Friday next.
Four honorable senators having risen in theirplaces in support of the motion,
– I inquired some days ago if the Government could furnish information with regard to charges made in the New South Wales Parliament against the methods of quarantine and the regulations adopted in connexion with the quarantine of vessels during the present outbreak of influenza in Sydney. The answer which I received was that the Minister would try to find out what the charges were, but that he did not then know. Since then the charges have been published in the newspapers over the name of a gentleman who has been visiting Australia for the past three or four months, a Chicago business man, Mr. Louis M.. C. Reed. That gentleman has taken a very prominent part, during his stay in Australia, in assisting the Government in the recruiting and war loan campaigns. He is a man of standing; I have had the pleasure of meeting him on the public platform in the Town Hall, Sydney, in advocating the claims upon the public of the Voluntary Workers Association. And no question need be askedwhether the man who made the charges has been game enough to sign his name. Those charges are of a drastic nature, and reveal such horrible things that it is scarcely possible that they could be perpetrated in any part of the world, even among the greatest bands of savages. The indignities placed upon passengers who have had to go into quarantine have been such that an inquiry should be demanded, and the conditions to which attention has been called should be remedied at once. There is a Conference of quarantine officials being held in Melbourne which shouldbe in Sydney. If the scourge gets out among the inhabitants of Sydney there will be a repetition of what has occurred in New Zealand, where people have fallen in the streets, and there has been scarcely time to bury them. It has not been due to the precautions taken by the Quarantine Department that the disease has not spread. It is simply that nature has helped us in the matter of the good weather which has prevailed in Sydney. The good sunshine has, in my opinion, proved the main cause of the outbreak not spreading.
Mr. Reed’s letter contains nineteen distinct charges, and he states, in introducing those charges, “ I am prepared to make affidavit to the following facts.” His accusations are as follows: -
– I submit that an important matter of this kind, affecting New South Wales, is one which merits the presence of a quorum.
– I understand that the bells upstairs are not ringing.
– I have had action taken to remedy that, and hope that the trouble has been overcome by now. [Quorum formed.]
– I will continue the reading of Mr. Reed’s charges.
The passengers were not “ questioned regarding their health and directed what to do to combat infection,” but were absolutely unable to procure at any time, even at their own expense, any medicines or disinfectants, except the smallest quantity of Condy’s fluid.
To have to stand by helpless and see decent, clean women like my wife, and elderly, refined mothers of useful men herded into stuffy, stinking inhalation chambers, and put through all manner of hardship and disappointments day after day for two long weeks until their nerves are so shattered with the indignity of it all that they are in condition to catch any disease, should be enough to make every decent, chivalrous, patriotic man blush for shame.
The absence of your chief health authorities in Melbourne during a crisis like this, obliging their subordinates here to have to wire back and forth for instructions, and to have three badly overworked doctors in charge of several hundred patients and a half-dozen ships, so that through the very physical inability of these men to properly attend to each ship the healthy passengers must be held for -two- weeks and regarded as contacts until the doctors can get around to them, is scandalous.
It is not against quarantine’ measures that I ann protesting. It is against the shocking lack of them. Your Health Department did not quarantine the Manuka passengers. They simply imprisoned them. That any of us remained well’ during the nineteen days’ menace since we sailed from Wellington is little short of remarkable.
I have been quarantined in Turkey and Greece during, cholera epidemic. I have been through small-pox epidemics in South Africa, New Zealand,, and China, and plague in India, Egypt, and elsewhere. I have passed through hundreds of medical examinations aboard all kinds of ships touching all’ kinds of civilized and. half-civilized ports,, but never during my whole experience in ocean, travel have I met with suck shocking indifference to health and dignity and decency until I came to the door of this white man’s country on the 13th of November.
Those are; the charges that have been publicly made against our quarantine authorities. Like Mr. Reed, I do not blame the Government, or the officials, or the doctors, but I am blaming the system of quarantine that will allow such scandalous treatment of passengers to take place, and such utter disregard for the welfare of the community to be exhibited. I hope the Government will take immediate action to remedy this disgraceful state of affairs. If the scourge escaped from the quarantine station, which isonly a few hundred yards from one of the healthiest suburbs of Sydney, the Government would be to blame on account of their- unavoidable quarantine regulations and arrangements. They have been asked- by the New South Wales’ Government to provide temporary accommodation elsewhere in New South Wales, and Senator Gardiner pointed out here last week an arrangement that could be made whereby all these difficulties could be overcome.. But nothing has been done, and nothing will be done unless we, in our places in this chamber, protest with all our power against the scandalous treatment of the unfortunate people who happened to- be on these ships. Here is a well-to-do Chicago business man, who has assisted’ us in every possible way in recruiting and in war loans,, by going on the platform, and in other ‘ways. He goes away, and when he comes back, is treated in a white man’s country in the. way he has described. Better precautions for the health of the people wouldbe taken in the- most savage country in the world than we are taking to-day. Their medicine-men and hospitals may be crude, but, at any rate, they do something, whereas we are running right in the face of. Providence, doing everythingwe possibly can, not to keep the disease outside the gates of. Australia, but to bring it in. If it does get in, there will be thousands more deaths than there were in New Zealand, because we have a different climate,, and the Government will be to blame for every one of them if they do not remedy the existing condition of affairs at once.
– This is the first time that thesecharges have been brought directly under my notice in this Chamber. I have recently felt thankful, as an Australian, that Australia, lying between South Africa and New Zealand, and being practically the last link in the circle of the world, had’ been kept free from this disease, which had spread rapidly throughout the habitable globe. It struck methat Australia must be a very clean country,, and that somebody was to be thanked for those conditions in Australia which enabled us alone to be free from the disease. I was inclined to think that our Quarantine Department must have been controlled by men who were not only careful, but highly skilled. I have had an opportunity of meeting Mr. Reed, the American, the report of whose complaints, has been read by Senator McDougall.. Dr. Lambert, an American health expert ; was a passenger on one of the quarantined boats, and furnishes a complete refutation of every statement made by that gentleman. A little personal and direct knowledge is often at least equal to information obtained from -a. newspaper, and evidently magnified considerably. Among the passengers on one of the boats was a brother of my own. I have spoken to him in Melbourne on this very subject. He was quarantined, not only in New Zealand, but also in Sydney, and speaks highly of the treatment he received at the Sydney station. Not a single complaint did he make, privately or publicly, about his treatment there. I have met several other prominent . citizens since their arrival in Melbourne, and know, from their conversations, that they had not the slightest complaint to make. Either Australia has been exceedingly well protected by our quarantine authorities, or it has been much more lucky than any other country, seeing that, except among the passengers who came from overseas, we have not had a single case of the disease in Australia. . If there have been little difficulties arising out of the sudden call upon the authorities, it is quite evident that the preparatory work of those authorities has been such as to prevent the disease from developing here.
Dr. Lambert, who was. a passenger on the Manuka, is an American health expert. He not only refutes Mr. Reed’s statements, ridiculing many of them and denying others, but also gives high praise both to the officials and to the establishment.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. There should be a quorum present to hear the Minister. [Quorum formed.]
– During his stay at the Quarantine Station, Mr. Reed threatened to have Dr. Mitchell, who, I believe, is one of the quarantine authorities, removed from his present position, and also refused to undergo the prescribed treatment. That is the statement of Dr. Mitchell himself. No Australian, and particularly no member of Parliament, who feel some sense of responsibility, with the possibility of the outbreak of a disease of this sort staring us in the face, will be prepared to tolerate that attitude on the part ofMr. Reed, who happens to be. an American, or of any other person. Every person, from whatever country, should be prepared to undergo such treatment as is necessary, not only to protect himself individually, but to protect also a good many other innocent people. I have no sympathy with any man who refuses to obey the laws of the land, particularly the health laws.
This is the telegram received here by Dr. Cumpston from Dr. Elkington, who is now in Sydney: -
Lambert’s comments on Reed’s statement: - Point 1 - Probably good reason, and no harm resulted. Point 2 - Isolation was observed. Point 3 - Doctor visited twice, inspected all, and examined suspects. Points 4 and. 5 erroneous. Point 6 - Medicines adequate. Points 7 and 8 - No real bearing on issue. Points 9, 11, and 12 - Shipboard rumour only. Point 10 - Layman’s ignorance. Points 13 and. 14 - No personal knowledge, but absence any cases last seven days quarantine negatives carelessness. Point 15 - Cases were on upper deck; healthy people on lower deck. Point 17 - No personal knowledge. Points 18 and 19 - Non-essential. States his bronchitis not made worse by inhalation, and his wife and child completely treated. Ends with high praise of service officials and establishment. Testifies to personal knowledge that inhalations were conducted with decency and efficiency, and ridicules description of inhalation chambers as stuffy and stinking. Describes inhalation chambers and baths as entirely modern and adequate; and kept as clean as one’s own diningroom table. Report posted to-night.
Mr. Reed has the reputation of being America’s silver-tongued orator - I had the opportunity of hearing him in Sydney -and I regret that statements of this kind have been made, because, with the best information at our disposal, I feel confident they are not justified. I am inclined to accept the personal experience of members of my own family and of friends on that vessel, backed up by the expert knowledge and experience of Dr. Lambert. I feel sure that when the matter has been investigated thoroughly, it will be found to be chiefly the complaint of a man with a grievance.
– I submit,, Mr. President, that there ought to be a quorum present while the Minister is speaking on such an important matter.. [Quorum formed.]
– I will not detain the quorum any longer. I only want to say that the Government have done their best to prevent the spread of this disease in Australia, and I believe that Australia has reason to congratulate herself that it has not obtained a foothold here. I feel sure also that an unbiased investigation into all the facts will prove that the chief factor in Australia’s immunity is the work of our Quarantine Department.
– In the absence of General Ryrie, the member for North Sydney, and of Sir Joseph Cook (Minister for the Navy) who, I understand, undertook to, as far as possible, look after the interests of that large and important constituency during General Ryrie’s absence at the war, it behoves every individual member of the Senate for the State of New South Wales to endeavour, to the best of his ability, to voice legitimate complaints made in connexion with it, particularly with reference to this matter of quarantine.
I read with surprise the statements made by Mr. Reed in one of the Sydney papers last Sunday, and I agree that it is entirely in the public interest that my friend, Senator McDougall, has taken this, the first, opportunity of raising that question.in this chamber. The statements quoted were made by a most reputable man. Because he is an American, his statements are none the less admissible. He was a passenger on the Manuka, and complained about the treatment which the passengers received at the hands of the quarantine officials in Sydney. I have had placed in my hands to-day by a passenger on that unfortunate steamer a record of a meeting held on that vessel, and I must say that, so far as I have been able to judge, the two statements made - the chargesby Mr. Reed and the record of the meeting of passengers - entirely agree that a considerable amount of carelessness was evinced in the early stages of the quarantining of that vessel, and that the passengers were carelessly, if not inhumanly, treated. I will read, for the information of the Minister (Senator Russell) the record of the meeting, and I am satisfied that when I have done so he will concede that there is something more to be said in connexion with the matter than has been told to the Senate. The record is as follows: -
At a meeting held on the R.M.S. Manuka, at 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 15th November, Mr. D. C. Bates chairman, it was unanimously resolved -
That this meeting of saloon passengers protests against the dangers and unsanitary conditions to which we have been subjected - (a) in transit to and from the ship; (b) to the vapour bath, in which 30 or 40 persons of all classes have been confined together for ten minutes; (c) to the necessity of going barely clad straight into the open air from the vapour bath in order to reach one’s clothing, or to the shower baths; (d) to having to undress and leave all wearing apparel together in a small room unprovided with pegs while undergoing treatment; (e) to the absence of women attendants and the presence of male attendants and workmen while women passengers are at the baths, thereby making privacy in the dressing room impossible. - Proposed by Mr. Taylor, seconded by Mrs. Bedford, and carried unanimously.
We call upon the Union Steam-ship Company to at once isolate all suspected cases of influenza and attendants in their charge. - Proposed by Lieutenant Lock, seconded by Mr. Reed, and carried unanimously.
We call upon the Federal Health Department to institute a proper daily medical examination of all quarantined persons, and for the isolation of all diseased and contacts. - Proposed by Miss Baker, seconded by Mrs. Bedford, and carried unanimously.
That steps be taken for the thorough fumigation of the ship. - Proposed by Mr. Russell, seconded by Mr. Reed, and carried unanimously.
Nominations were received for the appointment of passengers to deal with hygienic matters, with power to add to this number, and a committee, composed of the following, was appointed: - Dr. Lambert, Mr. Bates, Mr. Reed, Captain Goldingham, Mr. Dumas, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Bedford.
Mr. Reed read a letter which he had forwardedto Sydney, and it was proposed by Mr. Taylor, seconded by Miss Clarke, that this meeting substantiated Mr., Reed’s statements, and heartily indorsed his action.- Carried unanimously.
I presume the letter here referred to was the one which appeared in the Sydney press last Sunday, and which Senator McDougall read to the Senate to-day.
– Evidently Senator Russell’s brother was there also.
– He was not on the Manuka.
– The record of the meeting states further -
Dr. Smallpage, Captain C. Clift (commander of R.M.S. Manuka), and other ship’s officers then attended the meeting, and the main resotions were read to them.
In answer to questions, Dr. Smallpage stated that from the moment the ship came to anchor she was in charge of the quarantine authorities; that passengers would be taken ashore next day to remain in quarantine at the station, and their chief objections would be met.
Mr. Reed asked if there was not a real danger of passengers catching cold in transferring them, lightly clad, to and from the ship to the vapour baths at Quarantine Station, as had been done the previous day during a high wind, owing to lack of instructions. The doctor admitted there was a danger in such procedure, and then asked if any passengers had actually caught cold as a result. Dr. Lambert, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Bates, and others replied that they had caught cold as a consequence.
Mr. Reed asked Dr. Smallpage why he had ordered the passengers ashore for the baths if there was an element of risk. Dr. Smallpage replied that he had not given such orders.
– Hear, hear!
– I am very glad indeed that this matter is so serious as to call for indorsement of the protest by Senator de Largie.
– Some honorable senators living here in Melbourne forget sometimes what is going on in that Queen City of the South, Sydney. This is one of the things concerning which dissatisfaction is felt. I heartily indorse what has been said by Senator McDougall. So far as can be ascertained, the consensus of medical opinion appears to be that pneumonic influenza is traceable to the presence of vermin. I have been informed by three or four passengers on the Manuka that that vessel was full of rats, and that she had not been fumigated until she went up to the wharf in Sydney, further than that, the disease seems to be concurrent with the war, and probably is brought about by great empty, or half-empty, troopships in which vermin have been allowed to increase at a very rapid rate. It seems to me, therefore, that the Federal quarantine authorities should treat this epidemic very much on the same lines as outbreaks of what are regarded as more serious diseases, and that the first thing to be done should be the destruction of vermin. In the early stages of quarantining, so far as the Manuka is concerned, this was not done, and in the opinion of many passengers on that vessel it should have been undertaken immediately. I consider that the resolutions passed by the meeting of passengers indorsed all that has been said to-day, and dispose very largely of the reply made by the Minister.
– I am rather glad that Senator Pratten has spoken on the motion, because, if he had known what the Minister (Senator Russell) intended to say in reply to Senator McDougall’s charges, he could not have made a more effective answer. Every statement made by the Minister in reply to Senator McDougall has been absolutely contradicted by therecord of the meeting of passengers on board the Manuka, as read by Senator Pratten. It is about time that the Government woke up. I pointed out to the Government last week in a friendly way, because it is not my method to raise difficulties when grave danger confronts us, that definite action ought to be taken in regard to this matter. To my mind, this plague - I hope I am not giving it a wrong name - is the gravest danger that has threatened Australia for many years, and I am satisfied that Government quarantine officials living inMelbourne have not yet realized the enormity of the danger.
Last week I put before the Government a proposal for the removal of the whole of the passengers to Trial Bay, so as to provide a separate establishment for those who were not contacts. Trial Bay has this advantage: there is a good beach, good fishing, and the military hutments recently vacated by the German prisoners are available for their accommodation. Moreover, the passengers could be conveyed to that place without coming in contact with the rest of the community. It is practically impossible to prevent overcrowding of passengers on a quarantined vessel, and there is always grave danger that some may escape from quarantine and get amongst the people. If they do, it will then be of no use for the Government to try and camouflage the danger. If once this plague gets a hold in Australia, the Government and those responsible for quarantine administration will be subjected to the severest condemnation.
As far as Sydney is concerned - and I speak as one who endeavours to get the very best information - I can say that from one end of the city to the other there is, among well-informed people, entire dissatisfaction with the administration of our quarantine laws in relation to this plague.
– People will not even go down to Manly now.
– It is quite right that they should not. I can say nothing as to the conditions brought about as a result of this plague, but I know that when people have been isolated at the Quarantine Grounds on previous occasions, many young fellows have crossed the boundaries of the Quarantine Station, and gone into Manly to spend the evening. That has frequently occurred in the past, and the same thing might happen to-day.
The matter under consideration is most serious. A number of statements have been put before the Senate by Senator McDougall, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), in his self-satisfied way, believing, no doubt, from the information supplied to him, that he was in a position to give effective answers, made replies to almost every statement, feeling sure that a silvertongued orator from America “ has been spreading himself.
– I said I had reports . from Dr. Lambert, and that I expected a full report by to-day’s post. I could only speak from the information I had, and could not work upon my imagination.
– Exactly; but the honorable senator, now that he has heard Senator Pratten’s statement, will probably agree with me that it very closely coincides with the statements of the “silver-tongued” American gentleman of whom he has spoken. In view of the grave situation with which we are faced, this is a time for the closest inquiry into all statements made in connexion with this disease. We are not yet free of this plague. We should make no mistake about that.. We may be congratulating ourselves upon the fact that our preparations’ have prevented the invasion of the disease. We may assume that the sanitary arrangements carried out by Commonwealth officials have been so good that we shall be able to prevent its invasion. I hope that they are so good.
– They deserve some little credit for having kept the disease out of the Commonwealth up to the present.
– I hope that their arrangements are sufficiently good to combat the plague, and prevent it spreading within the Commonwealth, but we should not overlook the seriousness of the position.
The agitation going on now in Sydney for the removal of the Quarantine Grounds from their present position should appeal to every common-sense person. I do not agree that the Quarantine Station should be removed to the Naval College at Jervis1 Bay. The buildings at Jervis ‘ Bay were constructed for Navy purposes, and should be used for those purposes, and kept altogether free from disease ; but I do say that the little neck of land between Manly and the Heads is no place in which to quarantine thousands of people, as may be necessary, should many more vessels arrive in Sydney with passengers affected by this disease.
The Government should take steps to give the public confidence, and they should let the public know that they are doing something effective in connexion with quarantine against this disease. Personally, I have not much time for medical reports that are intended to reassure the people, unless it can be shown that they are well grounded. As a casual reader, I noticed in yesterday’s newspapers, in the references to what was happening at the Quarantine Station at Sydney, that amongst those affected with the disease there were, I think I am correct in saying, six nursing sisters, if not more. I believe that the attention of the Quarantine authorities should at once be called to the fact, if it is a fact, that certain of the hospital staff called in to nurse the patients at the Quarantine Station have themselves, after being inoculated, become infected with the disease. If inoculation is a failure as a means of prevention from infection by this disease, we should know it. We should not be led to believe that an absolute preventative is at hand if, after making use of it, those who might be expected to be most careful, and they are the attendants upon the patients, are being infected with the disease.
I do not care whether this disease be called pneumonic influenza or by any other name. We have only to read the newspaper reports of its ravages in other countries to know how serious it is. I glanced at a letter published in yesterday’s Sun, dealing with the disease. I do not pretend to quote its exact words, but to state the impression which the perusal of it left on my mind. It was the letter of a lady to her brother from New Zealand, and it stated that in New Zealand they could not celebrate the armistice as we did in Australia, owing to the ravages of this disease, and to people dropping down in the streets faster than they could be buried. That statement was not written with a view to spreading panic, but appeared in a letter from a sister to a brother. The Government should not take any action in connexion with this matter which might have the effect of giving the public a false sense of security. Australia is threatened to-day with an invasion of the most dreadful disease that has ever threatened this community. I make that statement on information from people who are qualified to judge of its effects. The Minister (Senator Russell) will be well advised not only to listen to all criticisms on this subject, but to make his officers realize that the danger is’ great, that the utmost energy is ‘ required on their part and that Australia will never be safe from the invasion of this disease until the whole of the quarantine authorities realize how serious the danger is. Criticisms of the work of the Quarantine Department must not be turned aside as the criticism of some smooth-tongued American, but must be fully investigated, and all necessary steps taken to preserve Australia from the invasion of this plague.
:. - I agree- with Senator Gardiner that this is one of the most serious visitations with which Australia has ever been threatened, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) should treat every phase of the question as deserving of the most serious inquiry and attention. If we can keep this disease out of Australia that will be of immense benefit to> this community. As Senator Gardiner has said, the ravages of the disease in other parts of the world have been something extra ordinary. In New Zealand the whole community was thrown into a state of chaos, and only now the people there are beginning to resume their ordinary business.
However, I do not believe all the complaints that are made in connexion with quarantine, and I will tell honorable senators why. My son, with his wife and family of two young children, came out from Home in the Niagara. They were .quarantined for a week in New Zealand, were fumigated there, came on to Sydney, and were landed at the Quarantine Station, and stayed there a week. Thinking that they might be short of food, I arranged with a friend in Sydney to send along hampers to my son, as he might require them. But he telephoned to my friend to say that the food was splendid ; that he was in every way comfortable and as well treated as a man could be. He said that the inhalations were very trying, but he supposed that that could not be helped. He gave as satisfactory an account of the treatment of passengers by the authorities as could be wished for. I think that many of the complaints made on such occasions may not be true, but the Minister should have them all looked into and sifted to the bottom, because Australia will be faced with a great calamity if this disease gets a footing here.
I can quite understand our Sydney friends desiring the Quarantine Station there to be removed to some other place. I am not sufficiently acquainted with possible sites for a quarantine station for Sydney to be able to say to what locality the present station should be removed, but it is clearly unwise to have such plague spots established in large centres of population. Senator Gardiner has said that Manly is being avoided at the present time, and I can quite imagine, that it is. When we had the meningitis plague to contend against here many cases were treated at the Alfred Hospital, and on that account people were afraid to go along- Commercial-road There was a panic created by the effects of the disease, and people became very nervous on that account. I agree that it would be advisable to. remove the Sydney Quarantine Station from the present site.
The fact that they have been successful so far in preventing this disease from coming amongst us is, in my opinion, a great feather in the cap of the quarantine authorities, not only in Sydney, but in other parts of Australia. I think that they have done good work. Some of my medical friends say that the disease is of a most infectious character, and that it will be found impossible to keep it out of Australia. So far, happily we have been able to keep it out, and I hope that we shall be able to continue to do so. Every nerve should be strained by the Minister and his officials in the effort to keep it out, as if it gets a footing in Australia it will mean the loss of thousands of lives.
There seems to be some conflict in the statements which have been made by Dr. Lambert, but I have always found that a man while in quarantine is in a most fractious state. I know that I was myself in such a state while in quarantine. It does not therefore surprise me that Dr. Lambert while in quarantine should say one thing, and when out of quarantine and calm should say another. I do not think that it will be found, on inquiry, that such atrocities as Senator McDougall has brought before us have occurred. I hope not; but I do say that if there is a scintilla of truth in the charges that have been made the persons responsible should be severely dealt with.
– Mr. Reed’s letter is indorsed by all the passengers of the Manuka.
– The passengers were in quarantine, and when I am in quarantine you cannot believe a word I say. In any case, the complaints made should be thoroughly investigated, and I feel sure that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will use every endeavour to prevent this dreadful plague coming amongst us.
– One of the disadvantages of the Federal Parliament continuing to meet in Melbourne is that questions of this kind do not appeal to honorable senators with the degree of force that they might.
– In view of the importance of this speech and the speaker, I direct attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– Honorable senators seem to have overlooked the fact that Sydney has been built almost right down to the Quarantine Grounds. When the Quarantine Station was originally established at North Head there were very few houses in Mosman’s Bay, or in the area around there, and comparatively few at Manly. I suppose that Manly to-day has a population of some 20,000 people. Mosman is a large suburb. There are a great number of houses around that area, and the same may be said of Watson’s Bay. If the Parliament of the Commonwealth met in Sydney instead of in Melbourne, I venture to say that the Sydney Quarantine Station would not be allowed to remain where it is for very many days. The urgency of its removal does not appear to me to receive the attention from this Parliament that it ought to receive. The sooner the Quarantine Station is removed from North Head, Sydney, the better it will be, not only for the inhabitants of. that city, but for the entire population of the Commonwealth. At the present time, Sydney possesses a population of 600,000 or 700,000, and, should the plague make its appearance there, it will be very difficult to eradicate it. I am confident that the people of that city are almost unanimously behind the movement to secure the removal of the Quarantine Station from its present position at North Head. It must be recollected that that station is within a very few miles of the city itself. I thoroughly appreciate the work which has been done by the medical staff there in preventing the spread of the plague, and I hope that their efforts will continue to be successful. But I enter my protest against the continuance of the Quarantine Station in its present position. It should be removed without delay.
– Senator Pratten, in replying to theremarks of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) administered a fair knock-out blow. I am really sorry that the Minister should have so far forgotten himself as to throw cheap sneers at the gentleman who has made these complaints.
– I did nothing of the kind. What I took exception to was his statement at the Million Club.
– The honorable gentleman may not have sneered at him intentionally. From what I know of him, I believe that every word stated by Mr. Reed is absolutely true. The statement read by the Vice-President of the Executive Council himself amply proves the accuracy of Mr. Reed’s complaints. Even the names of the very gentlemen who have been quoted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council appear in the minutes of the meeting of passengers on the Manuka as disaffected persons.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate.-[ Quorum formed.]
– When my remarks were interrupted, I was making a few observations in condemnation of the attack made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon the author of these complaints. The statements which I have previously read appear in the Sunday Times of 1st December under very big headings. That journal has a larger circulation than has any other newspaper published in Australia. One may find it in New Guinea, in the islands of the Pacific, and even in London. The record which I have cited constitutes one of the most damnable indictments against the Government that can possibly be conceived. If this plague - and undoubtedly it is a plague, because the bodies of its victims become black within a few hours after death - spreads, it will be on account of the neglect of the Government to combat it with the most scientific methods. Were it once to obtain a footing in Sydney, it would speedily spread to Melbourne, and all over Australia. Only the beautiful expanse of water at Sydney and the splendid sunshine which obtains there, have hitherto prevented its spread. Had the scourge broken out in the north, it would, ere this, have been all over Australia. Great indignation prevails amongst the inhabitants of Sydney because of the persistent way in which the Commonwealth Government have ignored the request of the New South Wales Government to remove the Quarantine Station from its present position. If action be not taken in this direction shortly, I believe that people will burn the entire station - lock, stock, and barrel.
– Why did the State Government establish a Quarantine Station there ?
– They did that before the honorable senator came to Australia, and when the population of Sydney was much less than it is to-day. The present site is a good one for a small Quarantine Station.
– Does the honorable senator know that there has never been a case of disease spread from the Quarantine Station, Manly?
– It is idle to tell me that. I have seen two smallpox patients being returned to that station after their escape from it.
Provision should be made in New South Wales for the quarantining of quite a number of ships. We know that in normal times there” might, in case of an outbreak of disease like that of Spanish influenza, be forty or fifty ships ‘ in quarantine simultaneously. Under existing conditions, where could we put them ?
I enter my protest against the ineptitude of the Commonwealth Government to cope with this great scourge. I resent their want of courtesy in replying to the Government of New South Wales. I do not blame the doctors for their action in connexion with the outbreak. Personally, I would be prepared to submit to any precautionary measures to which they desired tosubject me. When I went to Egypt they inoculated me for various diseases no less than twelve times. So long as they submitted to the same treatment, I offered no objection. I saw men around me attacked with all sorts of diseases, which did not attack me. I received some very excellent advice from one doctor, who told me never to drink water there unless I had something strong in it. I followed his advice to the letter, and probably that is what saved me.
I say that the Quarantine Station in Sydney is undermanned, and that the minutes of the meeting read by Senator
Pratten amply prove my contention. Some complaint has been made of the method of inspection followed in Sydney. But, in most cases, this inspection is a farce, because of the lack of doctors to efficiently discharge the duty. I am sorry that the Vice-President of the Executive Council attempted to refute the charges which have been made in regard to the treatment of people in Sydney on the scanty information which he had. In reply to Mr. Reed’s indictment regarding the bathing of women, Dr. Lambert says he “ has no personal knowledge.”
– I do not think the honorable senator really knows what an inhaling bath is. It is not an ordinary bath.
– I am quite aware of that. But would the VicePresident of the Executive Council like to go into an inhaling room with a rusty Chow? Does he approve of women being” subjected to these baths with male attendants? He cannot deny the accuracy of the report of the minutes of the meeting quoted by Senator Pratten. In conclusion, I say that if the disease spreads in New South Wales it will be because of the failure of the Government to take energetic steps to prevent it. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the increased cost of living during the last few years, will the Government consider the question of increasing the oldage pension by 2s. 6d. per week?
– In view of the state of the finances an increase in the rate of old-age pensions at the present time is not considered justifiable.
Use of Collie Coal
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Holidays in Celebration of Armistice.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
SenatorRUSSELL. - The answers are -
Evening News, 2nd Final Extra, 12/11/18.
The postal authorities announce that the usual holiday arrangements will be observed to-day and to-morrow.
Though to-day has been proclaimed a public holiday in the State, it is officially notified that there will not be a holiday in the Postal Department. All mails, therefore, will close at the usual hours.
There will be no holiday in the Postal Department to-day, consequently the ordinary postalarrangements will obtain.
To-day has been -proclaimed a public holiday by the State Government. A special issue of the Government Gazette yesterday announced the fact “in celebration of the signing of the armistice, terminating the international hostilities of the past four years.”
The shops will be closed to-day, in consequence of the declaration of a public holiday.
No one worked yesterday, and few will work to-day. There has been a clash in the holiday arrangements made by the Federal and State authorities respectively. The Federal Government late on Monday night declared Tuesday a holiday, whereas the State Ministers favoured Wednesday, and did not learn the Federal intentions in time to alter the decision and give legal effect to a closing up on Tuesday. So the upshot is that the people of New South Wales will have two holidays. The mass of employees will not object - andthe great occasion, if it comes to that, justifies a week’s holiday - but it is a somewhat serious matter for business men, particularly those who deal in perishable goods.
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Lieutenant j. W. McKenzie.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers axe - 1 and 2. Not at present. This question is being considered by the Commonwealth and the Imperial Governments in connexion with the Imperial Mineral Resources Bureau.
Flogging as Punishment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Has flogging been abolished on the war ships belonging to the Australian Navy?
– Corporal punishment has been suspended for some years in the Royal Navy by Admiralty Order, and the suspension applies to the Royal Australian Navy. Caning of boys is allowed in the Royal Navy, but only in the training establishments of the Royal Australian Navy.
SenatorKEATING asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Have the Government succeeded in making arrangements for the shipment of Australian apples to Great Britain during the coming season?
If so, to what extent?
– The answers are -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice
In view of the announced continuance of the
Wheat Pool, will the Government extend and maintain the wheat freights arrangements concerning Tasmania?
– The matter is at present receiving the consideration of the Government.
Protest against Appointmentof Captain Allen.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Advances to Queensland Growers
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Government are awaiting advice from the Government of Queensland regarding this matter.
LOAN bill (No. 2).
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– Mr. President
– The honorable senator will not be in order in speaking upon the first reading of this measure.
– I thought it was a money Bill.
– The honorable senator is confusing the practice in respect toa Bill which the Senate may not amend.. The Senate has full liberty to amend this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Limitation of Debate
– In the absence of Senator Millen, and at his request, I ask leave to amend the motion of which notice has been given by inserting after the first paragraph the words -
Any senator may move that the limit of one hour, or of one hour and a half, may be extended for thirty minutes; such motion shall forthwith be put without debate.
– Is there not a correct way of putting an amendment to a motion ?
– This is the correct method.
– When I rose to amend a notice of motion, you simply ruled, sir, that I could not do so.
– It was not a question of the honorable senator not being able to do so on that occasion, but that he wanted to do so at the wrong time - that was, after the opportunity for doing so had passed.
– No, sir, it was the correct time.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension.
– I move -
That the following new standing order be adopted by the Senate -
No senator shall speak for more than one hour at a time in any debate in the Senate, except that in the debate on the AddressinReply, or on the first reading of a Bill which the Senate may not amend, or in moving the second reading of a Bill, he shall be at liberty to speak for one hour and a half.
Any senator may move that the limit of one hour, or of one hour and a half, may be extended for thirty minutes; such motion shall forthwith be put without debate.
In Committee, no senator shall speak for more than a quarter of an hour at any one time, or more than twice on any one question before the Committee: provided that no limitation shall apply in Committee to a senator in charge of a Bill, or to any senator during the proceedings in Committee on the Tariff, or to a Minister of the Crown, in Committee on an Appropriation or a Supply Bill, in regard to the number of his speeches in connexion with any Departments which he represents.
I do not propose to labour this matter, but I think honorable senators must have come to the conclusion long ago that some such provision is necessary for the proper and efficient conduct of parliamentary government. I hope that it will not be looked upon as merely a question as between Government and Opposition.
– What do you want to do that you are going to “gag” honorable senators?
– I want to secure the cutting out of long, speeches. It is no use beating about the bush. Exceedingly long speeches have done more than anything else to discredit parliamentary government.
– Any kind of speech will discredit this Government, if the truth is told about them.
– If our sins are so enormous, it should be easy to point them out in an hour and a half. I do not think it should occupy twelve hours.
– T - This is a very dilatory conversion on the part of the Min- ister.
– I admit that I have been a failure as a “stone-waller” throughout my career. When I “was on the other side, Senator O’Keefe and others have suggested that I should assist in carrying on a “ stone-wall,” but they were able to see that I was the most abject failure that any Opposition has had to call upon for assistance in the matter of “stone-walling,” and I have never been able, indeed, to acquit myself creditably in that direction. There is, in many quarters, an impression going round that parliamentary government is breaking down, and is a failure; and one thing which has led to that impression has been the tedious and tortuous manner in which Parliament has dealt with public business.
– Surely you do not apply that to the Senate?
– I apply that to practically every Parliament in Australia. We have got into the way of making, and expecting, and listening to, long speeches on every conceivable topic, and that means that only one mind, namely, that of the inordinately long speaker, has an opportunity of expounding the matter at issue. We should take heed of the motto which appears upon the floor of the entrance hall to this Parliament - “In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.” But where only one counsellor is heard upon a subject, it is quite clear that others, perforce, can say nothing. Our aim should be to encourage members of Parliament to express their views; and, if that is to be effectively carried out, wo must curtail the opportunities of those who take an excessive length of time in stating their opinions.
This is not an attempt to curtail debate. The new standing order will do more than anything else to encourage debate among a greater number of honorable senators. Towards the end of a session, practically every Bill becomes urgent; and, if one or two honorable senators make up their minds to try to block a certain measure, and to occupy hours in its debate, there certainly can be no wide discussion.
– If we agree to this motion, will the Minister promise to do away with all-night sittings?
– That is what the standing order is intended to accomplish. The cruellest method of getting our business through is to compel honorable senators to sit up all night, and, by sheer physical exhaustion, to pass the measures under discussion.. It would be far better to adopt this form of limiting speeches. There is ample time, given under the proposed new standing order for an honorable senator to address himself to every matter under the sun, and to do so comprehensively. The proposal is no new thing. In the House of Representatives in the United States of America there is already a similar rule by which a member is entitled to speak for an hour, and may not speak more than once upon the same question. In Queensland, speeches are limited to forty minutes upon any debate, except on the AddressinReply, or upon a motion of want of confidence, where one hour is allowed. An exception to that is made in the case of a member moving the second reading, when he and the Leader of the Government, and the Leader of the Opposition, are allowed one and a-half hours each. In New Zealand, no member may speak for more than half-an-hour in any debate, except upon the Address-in-Reply, or upon a motion of want of confidence, or in the case of the mover of the second reading of a Bill, when one hour is allowed. In Committee, speeches are limited to ten minutes. I appeal to honorable senators generally to support the motion, which is not aimed at any particular side, but applies to both alike. It is in the interests of public business.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 8569), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now road a second time.
– Having had an opportunity of looking through the Bill, I see nothing in it to which I can take exception.
– I submit that a quorum is not present. [Quorum formed.]
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section 2 of the Amendments Incorporation Act 1905 is amended by inserting after subsection 2 the following sub-section : - “ 2a. When an Act, which amends a principal Act in the manner mentioned in subsection 1, prescribes a method of citation for the principal Act as amended by that Act, the principal Act shallbe deemed to be amended by substituting that method of citation for the. short title of the principal Act, and in every reprint of the Act as so amended that method of citation shall be substituted accordingly.”
– Will the Minister explain the full effect of this provision, which seems a little confused?
.-The explanation was given by Senator Millen in moving the second reading. Briefly, it is as follows: As the law stands, when an Act is reprinted with amendments, it is not permissible to state in the citation clause how the Act, as amended, may be cited. For instance, in the reprint of the Defence Act 1903-1917, in the volume of Commonwealth Acts for 1917 (page 127), section 1 reads, “ 1. This Act may be cited as the Defence Act 1903.” It is explained in a note that the Defence Act 1903, as amended by the various subsequent Acts, may be cited as the Defence Act 1903-1917. The Bill will remove the necessity for putting in that footnote, and will make it possible to state in the Act itself how the principal Act, as amended, may be cited. It has been the practice for many years to reprint, with amendments, Acts which have been amended several times. In the case of the Defence Act already referred to, there were in 1917, in addition to the principal Act, nine amending Acts. Consequently, since this Act has been reprinted, one can ascertain the law by referring to the reprint, whereas previously it was necessary to refer to several Acts. In addition to being published in the volumes of Commonwealth Acts, these reprints are published separately, and can be bought at the Government Printing Office. This system saves much inconvenience to the public, and particularly to members of the legal profession.
– I understand that in future it is. intended, when an Act is amended,, to incorporate the amendments in the Act, and. consolidate it in such . a way that all the previous Acts may be disregarded.
– That is being done as ;a matter of practice, but this clause refers only to the citation.
– The Act which we are now amending already provides for what Senator Grant is. contemplating.. It sets out that when a principal Act is amended, reprints of the Act after that date may be reprints of the Act as amended, so that it will be possible to refer to the measure in its complete, and amended form. This Bill merely provides- that the citation clause of -an original principal Act may be referred to in all subsequent Acts in the way explained by Senator Pearce. The moment- one sees the new citation, one’s attention is drawn to the fact that there isi more than one Act dealing with the subject, and when one looks at the completed amended form of the Act, the provisions of any intermediate Act are at once noticed in it by the different print in the marginal notes.
– I associate myself with Senator Grant in. asking for an explanation of this clause. I have no doubt it is quite clear to the gentleman who drafted it, but I have read it twice-, and the second time left me a little more confused than the first. The two explanations by Senator Pearce and Senator Keating only added to my confusion. The wording of the clause is not of the kind that we should have ‘in our legisla*tion. Each sentence seems to repeat and complicate the previous sentence. We ought to aim at definite, clear draftsmanship. Although this is only a small Bill, Senator Grant deserves the thanks of. the Committee for eliciting, explanations from Senators Pearce and Keating, which we shall probably understand much better when, we can. study them at leisure.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 8570), on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I think the Minister (Senator Millen), when moving the second reading of this Bill; said that it had been rendered necessary owing to some prosecutions which had been initiated against a manufacturer of “ soft ‘’” drinks in consequence of an ‘undue proportion of alcohol being discovered. I must confess that I am not familiar with the circumstances of the trade, but I believe that, although “ soft” drinks may at the time of manufacture- not contain more than 2 per- cent, of- alcohol, they may become strongly alcoholic before the process of fermentation has been completed, and the intention of the Bill is to throw on the manufacturer the onus of proving that the article does not contain an undue proportion of alcohol. Another provision relates to the duty of manufacturers to see that Excise duty stamps are placed on the casks of beer, and to properly cancel them so as to prevent their use a second time. I know that in the past some hardship has been inflicted owing to a neglect of this precaution, but the Minister for Customs has usually met the case by a small fine. The Bill also seeks to increase the amount _ of the annual licence-fee for brewers, and provides that the large breweries must pay more in licence-fees than the proprietors of small concrns. The breweries in New South Wales could almost be counted on one’s fingers, as the large companies have absorbed most of the smaller ventures. It is only in the country that one or two companies are able to stand up to the big concerns, and it is only right that larger breweries should pay more in licence-fees. There is also provision in the Bill to allow of the transfer, prior to the payment of duty, of beer from one, brewery to another. This, I understand, has been inserted to meet a difficulty experienced under the existing law, as at present it is not permissible for one brewery to get beer from another brewery. I have no doubt that the Bill will remedy a number of minor defects that have been disclosed in the working of the Act, and the object, I presume, is to obtain as much revenue as possible from all businesses, butI do not believe in getting this revenue from the “soft” drink manufacturers. I really think the Government ought to put a tax on teetotallers straight out.
– What for?
– Because they do not pay as much as the other fellow who enjoys his glass of beer. As far as I am concerned, I see nothing in the Bill to object to, and I intend to assist the Government in passing it.
.- The Bill is so lengthy, and so little time has been allowed for its consideration, that I think one may he excused for not beingable to discuss it in all its phases. It is a most important measure, and it will inconvenience a large number of people in certain circumstances. It is our duty to watch the interests of our constituents, and see that no unnecessary hardship is placed upon them.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to get approval from Senator. Shannon, and I remind him that I indorse the sentiments expressed by Senator McDougall, that teetotallers ought to be taxed, because in this direction they do not contribute so much to the revenue as others.
– And they lose a lot of fun.
– The Bill, I understand,- has been drafted byExciseofficers with the object, no doubt, of remedying the little defects they have discovered in the execution of their duties.
– It is. designed to remedy defects discovered in the administration of the Act duringthe past seventeen years.
– I am. glad of the Minister’s assurance on. this point, and’ I may say that I have always found that Government officials are quite anxious to make things easy for themselves, without caring very much how hard the position is made for the other fellow. Let me give an illustration of what I mean. Clause 18 proposes to repeal sec- tion 45 of the principal Act, and to insert in its stead the following : -
It may be a slip-shod method of conducting a brewery, but I know that in many country towns men working in a brewery have hitherto been accustomed to take their daily beer home in a billycan. There is nothing wrong about that; but this new provision intends to make it an offence punishable by a fine of £50. Men doing this haveno idea at all of defrauding the revenue. . It , is part of their daily life, and it will be a hardship if now it is to be madean offence against the law.
– Why not markthe billy in the prescribed form ?
– That is one of the things : a man cannot do. Honorable senators know, of course, thatI hold no brief for drinking ; but it should not be an offence for a man working in a brewery to take home a pint or a quart of beer for use withhis meals.
SenatorColonel Rowell. - Butthat is the presentlaw.
-The new provision simply means thatno beer shall beremoved from a brewery without the consent of . an Excise officer.
– But I am thinkingof themanworking in abrewery and whowantsto take home a billy of ‘beer. Will any Excise officer give him permission to take homehisdinner beer inthis way? I venture to say he would not. It would be more than his position was worth to do so.
I want honorable senators to understand clearly what it is thatthe Government propose to do.They intend to interfere, and theyhave been interfering all along, with the people in a way that I never believedthe Federal Government wouldget downto. Honorable senators know, also, that if the Government will make an endeavour to deal with the beer and spirit question in a comprehensive manner, they will have my support. We should clearly understand just what it is proposed to do ; and by way of illustration I may, perhaps, he permitted to refer to the amusement tax. I do not believe a single honorable senator onthe other side believed that that taxwould so operate that if a man went in to have a game of billiards in a saloon, or if a boy went down to any of our beaches and entered an enclosure for the purpose of enjoying a swim, he would be taxed. With our recent experiences of the looseness with which Government measures are drafted, I venture to say that the Senate should give more serious attention to measures brought before it. I have just given an illustration of what is likely to happen in regard to this Bill. The clause I refer to states that no beer shall be taken from a brewery in any vessel or case unless such vessel or case is marked in the manner prescribed.
– According to your argument, if beer is removed in a cask, it should pay Excise duty; but if taken out in a billy, it should be free.
– My argument is against interference with a man, working in a brewery, who desires to take home a billy of beer. This has been done, hitherto, in very many centres where breweries are established, and there has been no injury to the revenue. Now, however, we have a Bill which makes this custom a punishable offence.
I have a vivid recollection of what happened to a man engaged in another line of business some years ago. Ignorant of the law - although I know ignorance of the law cannot be pleaded as any excuse - he started the cultivation of the tobacco plant. Finally, he commenced the manufacture of cigars, and exhibited them at the district show. A man who could make cigars and tobacco in that way soon established a business, but an Excise officer came down upon him, and he was heavily fined. The Excise officer was, no douibt, carrying out the law, but the law should not have made such a thing possible. This occurred under a law for which a State Government was responsible. The Government was more intelligent than is the present Federal Government, but it was still not sufficiently intelligent to amend provisions of the law which discouraged the local manufacture of tobacco and cigars. Of course, there was sufficient public spirit in the community to raise enough money to meet the fine.
What will happen under this Bill to men who make a practice of carrying home a quart of beer in their billy-cans for their evening meal, when they find out that under the Russell Act this practice will have to be stopped? The first time some of them are caught they will probably shake their heads and say, “ And we helped to put him where he is.” They may say that they thought that Senator Fairbairn was a man who would not go out of his way to deliberately interfere with people in this way. The constituents of Senators Shannon, Keating, de Largie, and Earie - though I have some doubt about Senator Earle’s case - may express themselves in similar terms. The returned soldiers in Queensland may change their opinion of Senator Foll when they find that in his first session in Parliament he has assisted the Government in the passing of such a Bill as this. They may feel disappointed with the honorable senator. They probably believed, when he was returned, that he would ultimately develop into a good old Tory, but they might be excused for considering that he would be able to stand his environment for one session of Parliament. No doubt our constituents would expect support of such a measure from Senator Pearce and from myself:
I seriously ask honorable senators not to hurry through these provisions imposing £50 penalties. They may be recorded against some innocent and unoffending person, who may have no desire to break the law of the country, because of the action of some officious and over-zealous Excise officer. I have personally no great respect for the police force, who have permitted me to enjoy so much liberty when they might have adopted another course, but we must not shut our eyes to the fact that there may be one in a hundred Excise officers who will read this measure in the narrowest possible way. When that occurs, trouble will arise under it. I ask honorable senators to insist that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) shall give some reason why this measure should be passed. It contains about halfadozen different principles, one of which the Minister has explained. I suppose that, feeling buttressed with the support of Senator Pearce, who is prepared to carry on the war upon beer as vigorously as he has carried out the work of the Defence Department, Senator Russell considers that honorable senators will accept this measure with very few words from him. He should give a little consideration to the difficulties which may arise in the case of employees of a brewery. I do not suppose that, with a view to increasing the revenue, the Government will send an officer into every brewery, and prevent an employee obtaining a glass of beer until Excise duty is paid upon it. Will the Government expect the manager of a billiard saloon to certify as to the number of games played in his saloon, and the exact amount of tax he is, therefore, called upon to pay? I warn honorable senators that they should be careful in passing legislation of this kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– What is the reason for the proposed alteration of the definition of “Collector “ ? We have had no explanation of the proposed amendment.
– It is proposed that the term “ Collector “ shall include the Comptroller and any Collector of Customs for the State, and any principal officer of Customs doing duty at the time and place, and any officer doing duty in the matter in relation to which the expression is used. The Collector of Customs is practically the administrator of the Customs Department in each State. Under the existing Act, the Comptroller, who is really in charge of the central administration, is not included in the definition of “ Collector “ for the purposes of this measure. It has to be borne in mind that at such outside places as Port Darwin,
Geraldton, and Broome it would not be practicable to have a Collector of Customs appointed at £1,000 a year. At such places, Commonwealth officers occupying subordinate positions are required at times to perform the functions of the Comptroller or of a Collector of Customs, and it is the intention by the pro-‘ posed amendment of the definition of “ Collector “ to delegate to officers at such places the power to settle matters legally, subject to the approval of the Comptroller.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 8 of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting therefrom the words “or under a licence already granted under some State Act “ ; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: -
The liability under this section attaches to the person who brews or makes beer from any amylaceous substance or any fermentable sugar, which when brewed or made, or at any subsequent period falls within the definition of beer in this Act.
– Section 8 of the existing Act provides that-
No person shall make beer except pursuant to this Act, nor unless he is licensed to do so under this Act, or under a’ licence already granted under some State Act.
It is proposed by clause 3 of this Bill to delete from section 8 of the existing Act the words “ or under a licence already granted under some State Act.” We make provision in the Constitution preserving to the States certain rights in regard to intoxicating . liquors. Section 113 of the Constitution provides that -
All fermented, distilled, or other intoxicating liquids passing into any State or remaining therein for use, consumption, sale, or storage, shall be subject to the laws of the State as if such liquids had been produced in the State.
The question arises as to whether there is not here proposed a conflict of jurisdiction between the Commonwealth and the States with regard to the manufacture of beer. I note that when section 113 of the Constitution was agreed to by the
Federal Convention, a considerable amount of discussion took place with regard to the then existing law in the United States of America concerning fermented, distilled, and other intoxicating liquors. Incidental to that discussion, a great deal was said as to the legislative power of each State to regulate production within the State. Does the power which the Commonwealth holds with regard to the imposition of Excise duty imply a .concurrent power or an exclusive power, as is asserted here, to regulate manufacture within a State of an excisable article?
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was pointing out that under our Constitution full power is reserved to the several States to deal with intoxicating liquors within their own boundaries. Each State has full power to regulate the brewing of these’ liquors within its own borders, and if this Parliament attempted to deprive it of ‘that power the attempt would prove to he abortive. ‘ Were it otherwise, no State would have the power, if it wished to ‘do so, to establish prohibition. But it is ©pen to any State to enforce prohibition, and it may seek to attain that result .by imposing a prohibitive tax on the brewing of beer, or by levying -a prohibitive licence-fee. I have already pointed out that section 8 of the principal Act provides that no person: shall make beer unless he is licensed - to do so under that Act, “ or under a licence already granted under some ‘State .Act.” I understand that the reason the Government wish to strike out from that provision in the -principal Act the -words “ or under a licence already granted under some State Act “ is that the- State licences have expired.
– ‘They have to “be renewed annually.
– Yes. They cease to have effect at the end of the year unless they are renewed. I take it that the proposal now before us is not an attempt to deprive any State of its rights to subject the brewing of beer to any imposition that it may think fit. Should any State hereafter superimpose upon the licence-fee provided in this Bill a fee of its own, there will, I presume, be no> attempt on the part of the Commonwealth Government to assert that it hasexclusive jurisdiction in this matter. In other words, though we are now about to affirm that nobody shall hereafter brew beer unless he is licensed to do so under this measure, we realize that any State,, if it chooses to do so, may impose an additional obligation upon the brewer to take out a licence within the State itself.
– Clearly this Bill is not intended as a reform of, or an embargo on, the liquor traffic. The licencefee is merely for the purpose of raising revenue.
– But it has occurred to me that the draftsman of the Bill may be under the impression that the State cannot “butt in” upon this question. As a matter of fact, it can do so. If we levy a licence-fee of £100 upon the brewer of beer, any State may, if it so desires, levy a licence-fee of £5,000. So long as it is clearly understood that we are not attempting to assert an exclusive jurisdiction in this matter, but have in ‘mind- section 113 of the Constitution, I have nothing more to say.
– I think we are .under an obligation to Senator Keating for the very clear manner in which he has stated the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and of the States in regard to this matter. I would have liked from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) an assurance that the Government are not, under the impression that the Bill can ‘interfere .in any way with . the rights of- the States-. We ought to have- a record of the Minister’s view upon it.
– If the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) .entertains the idea that I was guilty of discourtesy to Senator Keating, I .am exceedingly sorry. The latter stated the constitutional aspect of this question so clearly that I did not think any . good purpose would be served by any attempt on my part to express what he had already so admirably expressed. I thank him for his lucid exposition of the position, and entirely indorse all that he said.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 23 agreed to.
Clause 24 -
The principal .Act is amended by adding, at the end thereof the following schedules : - “ The Fourth Schedule.
Scale of Fees for Brewers’ Licences.
For every brewery wherein beer is brewed in quantities not exceeding in any one year 50,000 gallons . .. . £25 per annum.”
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) [8.111-1 move-
That “£25,” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof “£2,500,000.”
I have many, reasons for submitting this proposal. In my judgment, the persons who run these breweries are not prepared to pay their fair share of our war expenditure, but desire to put it on to the shoulders of the working class. Consequently, when we have an opportunity of “ handing it out “ to them, we ought not. to neglect it. At the present time, in two constituencies in New South Wales, there is a strike in progress against the price of beer. The brewers are always ready to put an extra penny upon the poor man’s glass of beer. What will be the effect of my amendment if carried ? It will stop brewing in Australia. That is my object in submitting it.
– People will then have to drink spirits.
– No ; if the brewing of beer is knocked out, the distillation of spirits will quickly follow.
– Had we not better start with the knocking out of the spirits ?
– I hope that the Committee will support my amendment, and thus prevent any more beer being brewed in Australia. In doing this we shall be following the excellent example set by America.
– If the amendment be carried, Senator Gardiner will accomplish that which, I venture to say, is not his object. Now, if any honorable senator wishes to throw out a direct challenge to the liquor traffic by means of a motion in favour of straight-out prohibition, I shall have no objection to urge against it. But this is merely a machinery measure, which is designed to raise revenue from that traffic. The larger question which has been raised by Senator Gardiner can better be discussed on a specific motion. May I also suggest that it would be preferable to raise that question just prior to a general election so that the people might be afforded an opportunity of expressing their views upon it. To tack his proposal on to an innocent-looking measure of this character is certainly not the way in which we ought1 to deal with a big public question.
– What was the amount of revenue raised last year from the beer excise duty?
– I cannot say offhand. The Government will not assist Senator Gardiner to achieve his professed object by the indirect means now proposed.
– I cannot support the amendment, because Senator Gardiner has already said that the brewer will pass on the increase; and, if that is the case, goodness knows what will be the price of beer. I do- not want to see any more taxes put upon the good fellows that I know who drink beer. I know men who work down the mines all day, and who do not abuse the drinking of beer; but, as it is; every time they lift their hands it costs them l-Jd. towards the revenue, while drinkers of tea and coffee pay nothing. Personally, I do not know the taste of beer, but I have a lot of sympathy with the man who is digging coal all day and feels like a couple of beers at the end of his shift; and, when he drinks those two, he pays 3d. to the revenue,
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This measure is somewhat similar to one or two others having to do with the Customs Department, and which have been already dealt with. When Acts such as these were passed originally, some seventeen years ago, there were still such things as Interstate border duties; and there were various State enactments. This Bill and similar measures are intended merely to clear up the position, and to simplify administration on the part of Excise and Customs officers, in order to adequately protect revenue. In this Bill there are no new principles involved, except in regard to industries which, as they grow, require greater expenditure in affording Government supervision. It has been laid down that, wherever services are rendered in connexion with supervision for revenue purposes, the cost of such inspection should be fully borne by the industry itself. That is to say, the industry should carry its own expenses.
In this Bill there are also provisions relating to several minor matters. For instance, it is proposed to exempt from the provisions relating to licensing stills of a capacity not exceeding 1 gallon. There are private stills of this kind which are used purely for scientific or experimental purposes. At present, it is necessary for the owners to secure permission to use those stills; and, if they desire to do so for purposes other than the distillation of spirits, they must lodge security that the stills will not be used for distilling spirits. There is a section in the Act which apparently had its origin in an old fear that the brewer might be getting his spirits by some subterranean channel. It relates to pipes and tubes in a distillery, and imposes a restriction. At present, every pipe and tube, when placed below the surface of the ground, must be enclosed in a wooden case capable of being readily opened, so that the pipe or tube may be exposed to view. It is proposed in the present measure to give power in special cases, where there can be no possible danger to the revenue, to waive this requirement.
– Does this measure exempt a still for the distillation of eucalyptus oil?
– It deals only with spirituous liquors.
Debate (on motion by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [8.21].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is another measure having exactly the same objects as that with which the Senate ‘has just been dealing; butit is also intended to clear up a certain matter arising from a Court decision. The principal amendment relates to the improper use of methylated spirits. Apart from its use for human consumption in alcoholic beverages, alcohol is employed a great deal for industrial ‘purposes; and, while it is a proper subject for taxation when used for human consumption, it is not advisable that it should be taxed when employed industrially, because alcohol for such purposes should be obtainable as . cheaply as possible. At the same time, of course, revenue must be safeguarded, and the difficulty is to exempt from duty alcohol when used for industrial purposes, without leaving a loop-hole through which the revenue may be defrauded. The method1 by which that difficulty is met in the principal Act is that spirit for industrial and scientific purposes is exempt from duty when denatured with certain nauseous and poisonous substances which render it unfit for drinking. When the spirit is so denatured it is called methylated spirit, and it is free from duty; but the untreated spirit is subject to a duty of 16s. per proof gallon. No one should take exception to the jaising of revenue in that regard. E’ut to place an Excise duty of 16s. a gallon on industrial alcohol would be an undue tax upon industry. The denaturing substance most commonly used is wood naphtha, the principal ingredient of which is methyl alcohol. In a recent prosecution in connexion with the use of methylated spirits in the preparation of a medicine for human use, the evidence showed the presence of methyl- alcohol; tout the Court ruled that although methyl alcohol was . a constituent part of wood naphtha, the latter was the methylating substance prescribed by the regulations, audi, as the Court would not accept the fact of the presence of methyl alcohol as proof of the use of wood naphtha, the prosecution failed. The result of that decision was to render practically useless the provision made to safeguard the revenue against the improper use of methylated spirits; and, in order to make this provision efficient for the purpose for which it was intended, the Bill proposes to alter the definition of “ methylating substance” so that it shall include not only the principal substance specified as a methylating substance, but also any ingredients of any such substance.
Debate (on motion “by Senator McDougall) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 8572), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Senator McDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [8.23]. - I am heartily in favour of the Bill. We should protect the industries of the country, and this is an industry which has had very little protection in the past. There have been various efforts to make steel and galvanized sheets in New South Wales, but the objection which has been farcically taken, in my view, is that that product could not be used for fear that it would not last, and that it could not be equal to the imported article. An industry such as this should be given a fair chance. A bounty is not like a duty. It is spread over the whole community.
One objection which I have to the Bill is contained in the clause which deals with the reduction of the bounty where the profits exceed 15 per cent. I would like to see the limit set down at 10 per cent. Objection may be taken that a manufacturer has laid! out much capital on machinery, but he would be able to advance the same argument in regard to a limit of 15 per cent, as to one of 10 per cent.
– The proposal contained in the Bill to give a bounty on sheet iron manufactured from imported sheet bar steel, requires further consideration. I can quite understand the desirability of giving a bounty to those who manufacture galvanized iron or sheet iron from locally produced lores; but when it comes to granting a bounty for merely transforming imported bars, it appears to be a subject requiring very careful consideration. It is proposed to devote, altogether, a sum of £200,000 to the industry, and while this may be the best way, in the opinion of the Government, to secure the firm establishment of this very necessary work, it would be much better if the Government themselves took in hand the importation of the requisite machinery and manufactured the products themselves. After the £’200,000 has been expended the only advantage that I can see will be the somewhat reasonable certainty of the continued production of these commodities in Australia. During the currency of the war the selling price of galvanized iron has so greatly advanced that it is now problematical what one would require to pay for it. Some time ago the Government published a regulation under the War Precautions Act, fixing the price of galvanized iron at £56 per ton. I do not know whether that regulation is still in force, but, presumably, it is. Whether or not, however, I have noticed advertisements in the daily press in Sydney announcing that galvanized iron is for sale at prices very much in excess of the amount prescribed. In effect, the regulation appears to be a dead letter.
It may not be widely known that for many years galvanized iron was manufactured at Lithgow. Not only was the iron rolled into thin sheets, but it was corrugated and galvanized, and, in every way it was proved as suitable and as good as any imported article. Why that industry was discontinued I do not know.
I suggest to the Government that the Bill should be withdrawn, and that they should consider the question of establishing works which will be their own property. If the Bill is passed, I trust the clause which makes the bounty conditional on fair and reasonable rates of wages being paid will be rigidly enforced. In the event of the £40,000 allocated yearly not being mopped up in any one year, it is provided that the unclaimed balance may be paid in any other year, so that we may be faced with a payment of £150,000 during the last year of the life of the Bill. It also appears that altogether a bounty of £3 10s. per ton may be payable on the finished article. The other provisions may be necessary to give effect to the principle of the measure, but I would much rather see the Government construct works themselves, and directly control the industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “black steel sheets” means black steel sheets, not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness, made from Australian iron ore and steel manufactured in Australia or from such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in pursuance of section 3 of this Act;
.- I move-
That the words “ or from such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in pursuance of section 3 of this Act” be left out.
Unless that amendment is made, manufacturers may claim the bounty for goods manufactured, not from Australian ore, but from imported sheet barsteel. That is entirely foreign to the wishes of those who are anxious to assist in the expansion of Australian industries. If the Government agree to the amendment, it will lead to a much greater manufacture of Australian productions. I shall be glad to hear the Minister explain the object of the provision.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council [8.34]. - I am glad Senator Grant has raised this question. I agree with what he said, and personally would not be prepared in ordinary circumstances to give a bounty on goods manufactured from imported iron, but unless some provision of this sort is made it will hardly be possible to induce any one to go into the industry which we desire to encourage. Without mentioning names, at the present time any one who wanted to make these goods from Australian iron would be practically dependent on one company. If that company attempted to put up the price of the raw material to the secondary manufacturer - I do not say it would do so - it might be as well to open the door to the imported article for a month or two, in order to bring the company to its senses. This is one of the effective ways that we shall have of checking abuses. I hope there will be two companies starting right away to manufacture under this Bill; but if we tell them that they must buy all their stufffrom the one company that now exists in Australia, irrespective of what that company likes to charge, neither they nor anybody else are likely to be induced to make a start.
– There are two companies manufacturing iron and steel in Australia.
– I wish there were a dozen. Bythat means we would be sure of healthy competition . This provision is really a protection against any local monopoly forcing the price up so as to obtain the bounty or profit that should go to the manufacturer of these articles. That power used discreetly by any Minister would be one of the most effective means of breaking up any monopoly, if an attempt were made to create one.
– - The Minister (Senator Russell) has advanced a good reason for the provision, but is it not the intention of the Government to enter into the iron and steel manufacturing business themselves, seeing that they recently acquired an option over the Blythe River iron deposits, on the north coast of Tasmania ? We learn that a considerable sum has beenpaid for theoption to the people who have been allowed to hold those leases for abouttwenty years, much to the surprise of most of the people of Tasmania.The parties concerned have succeeded in inducing successive Governments in. that State to allow them a suspension of the labour covenants, for reasons which. I suppose, those Governments deemed good enough… Those deposits were said by Mr. Montgomery, once Government. Geologist of Tasmania, and now in the. employ of the Western Australian Government, who is esteemed one of the best men in his line in the world, to be equal to almost anything known anywhere for quantity and quality.
– And yet the Broken Hill Proprietary Company did not “ snavel “ them.
– S - Somebody is going to “snavel” them, or else the Federal Government are going into the business themselves.
– I am surprised, if the deposits are so good, that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company did not buy them.
– I - It seems strange that the company, who have been running steel works at Newcastle, have not acquired them, but there are wheels within wheels.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - They have an ample supply of better stuff at Iron Knob.
– I - I suppose they have a better supply nearer at hand. It is supposed that some fairly heavy shareholders in the Broken Hill Proprietary have been the main shareholders in the Blythe River iron leases for a good many years. The Minister may be able to tell us whether the Government, having acquired the option, have any intention of establishing iron works as a Federal proposition. Constitutional difficulties may arise, but if they do, the Government can always propose an amendment of the Constitution to give them the necessary power. If they do not intend to enter into the business, what are they going to do with those leases, and why have they paid a fairly large sum to acquire an option over them?
– I regret that I am unable to give Senator- O’Keefethe information he desires. Probably he and I would agree as to what should be done with the Blythe River iron leases if we acquired them. The Government’ are about to have a thorough inspection made of them with a view to determining the quantity of ore and its probable value to Australia. Upon those reports they will have to determine their policy towards them.
– Why confine the investigation to that one deposit?
– That does not necessarily follow. I was ona Board which inquired into them, and I believe that neighbouring leases have very fair prospects.
– I am not referringto neighbouring leases; There is another 25 miles away.
– Let us be thanks ful for small beginnings. Any Government that thinks well of Australia must recognise that the iron and steel industries are the basis of all other industries. I have no complaint to make about the one company now operating in Australia, but no country should have all its eggs in the one basket. Under ordinary conditions I would refuse to vote for a bounty for an industry which merely im ported iron and converted it, but I am prepared to give the Minister power to check any attempt that may be made to cripple subsidiary industries-, which depend on the basic industry of iron and steel, by forcing up prices against them. I do not infer that the existing company is likely to do anything of the kind, but where national interests are involved we should make assurance doubly sure by protecting them.
– I shall support Senator Grant in this matter. We should lay down the principle that bounty should be paid only on products manufactured from Australian ores. The reason given by Senator Russell for the provision is the very reason why it should not be included, because it means giving protection to the secondary industry and not to the primary industry, which is the production of steel from ore.
– We have had a bounty for years on iron production.
– The Minister’s argument is absolutely against the basic principle of supporting the primary industry first. If we want to establish these secondary industries in Australia, we must support the primary industry of producing iron and steel from our own ores. If there is only one company engaged in that work, it can easily be regulated by providing that it must sell its product at a fair price. I believe it will do so, because it will produce so much that it will have to export.
– I shall support the amendment because it should be the function of this Parliament to render all the assistance possible to the development of our primary industries, chief among which is that of iron production. If the bounty is extended to goods produced from imported iron and steel, it is certain that the Australian iron industry will suffer in consequence. T cannot understand why the Minister (Senator Russell) does not accept the proposal, which appears to me to be a sound one. Reference has been made to the probable output of a certain mine in Tasmania, which is to be subjected to an exhaustive test, and I sincerely hope that the results will be equal to the expectations of the most sanguine person interested in it. It is very satisfactory to know that the Commonwealth Government have taken an interest in this industry, and it is equally satisfactory to know that the various State Governments are also active in this matter. ‘ The Tasmanian Government have already withdrawn a number of iron ore deposits from application under the mining laws of that State. The Government, we have been told, contemplate bringing an expert from the Old Country, or some other part of the world, to report upon the Blythe River iron deposits. No doubt they will get a very good man. There is no doubt, also, that in Australia they could get fifty men equally as good and capable of making as accurate a geological survey, and as exhaustive a test, as any expert from the other side of the world can furnish to the Government. If it were a question of developing and opening up these deposits on well-established lines, followed with regard to big iron ore deposits in other parts of the world, we could understand the policy of the Government; but in every Geological Department of Australia there are at least one or two men just as skilled as any imported man can be, but, unfortunately, they are not to he given a chance to display their ability. “We shall all be glad to do what we can to assist the industry, but the efforts of the Government should not be concentrated upon any particular mine. We should not regard this industry as belonging to one State, but as an industry affecting the welfare of the whole Commonwealth. There are other deposits to which attention might be directed. Today I addressed a letter to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt), asking that when the examination of the Blythe River iron deposits have been completed the necessary steps may be taken to have a test examination made of another deposit that I have named, and which, I have no hesitation in saying, in richness of ferro-oxide and in the absence of phosphoric acid, equals any deposit in any other part of the world. Honorable senators will see, therefore, how important it is that the application of the principle involved in this Bill should he as wide as possible, so that where a deposit of iron is known to exist, every assistance may be rendered to those who have been engaged in its development for some considerable time past. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will see his way clear to accept the amendment, which will limit the application of this bounty to steel produced from Australian iron. That ought to be the first consideration of this Parliament. We ought to see that every effort is made to place our own industries on as- permanent a footing as possible. If the bounty is to be extended to steel produced from imported iron, we shall have very keen competition from overseas.
– But bounty on steel from imported iron is limited to exceptional circumstances. Read clause 3.
– I am dealing with clause 2.
– But that relates to clause 3.
– Of course, all the clauses are associated. The clause states -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears, “ black steel sheets “ means black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness, made from Australian iron ore and steel manufactured in Australia, or from such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in section 3 of this Act.
And clause 3 provides -
In the event of such circumstances arising as would, in the opinion of the Minister, warrant the use of sheet bar steel, other than that mb.de in Australia, for the manufacture in Australia of black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and galvanized sheets, the . Minister may authorize that sheet bar steel to be so used . .
I think Senator Grant’s point is that we do not want ever again to be dependent on imported black steel sheet bars, and that to safeguard the position the application of this bonus should be confined to our own iron mines. If that is not done we shall not be giving that assistance to our primary industries which I believe the Government are anxious, and which, J. am sure, Parliament is anxious, to give. I shall support Senator Grant’s amendment.
– I cannot support Senator Grant’s proposal. The explanation given by the Minister (Senator Russell) is simple, and covers all the ground. The primary object of the Bill is to give a bounty upon black steel sheets manufactured from Australian iron ore and steel manufactured in Australia. That is its main purpose; but as the Minister has pointed out, the manufacture of iron and steel ore has not yet attained any very great dimensions in Australia. As a matter of fact, there are only two manufacturers, I believe, and to all intents and purposes, when we speak of them comparatively, there is only one. The Minister foresees the possibility that a company manufacturing iron and steel ore in Australia, realizing that the bounty is to be given upon, say, galvanized iron sheets made from their ore, might impose onerous conditions upon persons desirous of obtaining the bounty. He does not say they will do so, but conceives that it is quite possible that, hav ing an existing monopoly which secures to them the purchase of their iron and steel ore by any other person who desires to secure the bounty, they may put up their prices or make their terms of supply so difficult that the object of the Bill ‘ might be defeated. In circumstances such as those - and such circumstances may assume varying forms not yet probably in contemplation - it is impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule for the guidance of the Minister in the exercise of the discretion proposed to be reposed in him. It is provided, therefore, that the bounty shall be given in respect of black steel sheets made from Australian iron ore and steel manufactured in Australia, or from such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in section 3, which Senator Long has just read. In the event of such circumstances arising; in the event of the raw material produced in Australia being withheld from a manufacturer who desires to secure this bounty, the Minister, after full inquiry into all the circumstances, will have authority to let a little imported raw material in, to be used, until the manufacturer having a monopoly of black steel sheets from Australian iron ore, comes to his senses. If the Minister exercises his power unfairly or discriminatingly, and to the disadvantage of a primary industry of the Commonwealth, this Parliament can deal with him. The main purpose of the Bill is to secure the bounty for a new industry, to be founded on an existing primary industry in the Commonwealth. So long as a primary industry acted loyally by a subsidiary industry, there would be no need for the Minister- to exercise the power which it is proposed iri this clause to invest him with ; but if, for some unforeseen reason, the primary industry did not turn out the necessary raw material for the subsidiary industry, if there were a block in supplies, the Minister could be trusted to allow the importation of the necessary raw material for the subsidiary industries which it is proposed by this Bill to establish and secure. The Minister is responsible to this Parliament, and I think can be intrusted with the administration of the measure.___ i
. -Senator Grant’s amendment raises another question. The iron ore having been smelted becomes the base upon which the secondary industry of the produotion of steel sheets depends, and the production of the steel sheets -becomes in turn the base for the production of galvanized.iron sheets. It is possible that all. the operations may not be confined to one firm. Senator Grant suggests that where the steel sheets are produced from imported bar steel, the bounty should not be granted, and it has occurred to me that by clause 13 the Minister would be restricted in such a way that he would be unable to differentiate as to the bounties paid upon galvanized iron made from sheets produced in Australia from Australian ore and that made from imported sheet bar steel. I think it would be wise if provision were made for a lower bounty on galvanized iron produced from imported sheet bar steel than for galvanized iron produced from steel sheets made in Australia.
– Because by paying the full bounty on galvanized iron produced from imported sheet bar steel, we shall be paying a bounty upon an article which can be abundantly produced in Australia, and our object in paying a bounty should be to extend Australian manufactures.
– The honorable senator desires to give the Government power by regulation to differentiate in the payment of the bounty?
– I say it is necessary that the Government should have power to differentiate in the bounty paid where it covers the full process of manufacture, and where it covers only a part of the process. In my view, Senator Grant would have given better effect to his intention if he had dealt with clause 3.
– As Senator Keating has clearly pointed out, the object of the Bill is to secure the production of black steel sheets and corrugated and galvanized iron from Australian ore. This proposalhas had long consideration fromthe Boardof
Trade, who have studied the matter with the advantage of evidence taken by. the Inter-State Commission. After careful inquiry, it was. decided that the bounty should be £4 or £4 10s.,according to freight on black steel sheets’ and galvanized. sheets. The alternative would appear to be to give a bounty that would not be required. It is proposed, under this Bill, to give the full amount of bounty required to establish the industry in Australia. We are operating in war times now, and can do a number of things which could not be done in normal times. To establish this industry by one or two firms may cost anything up to £250,000. The only object of clause 2, as has been explained is to prevent a monopoly in. the production of the raw material, squeezing the manufacturer engaged’ in this industry. I have heard it said that it is possible to regulate a monopoly. I hope that we shall soon have power to do so; but until the Constitution is amended we shall not have that power. The industry has to be established in such a way that it may be carried on under the limitations of the Constitution, and under the normal conditions which, we trust, will exist ‘before long. Clauses 2 and 3 provide the best policeman which could be devised by those who have considered this problem to effectively protect the secondary industry proposed to be established, and prevent it becoming dependent entirely upon any monopoly. I ask honorable senators to allow the Bill to pass as it stands. It may not be perfect; but it is a genuine: effort on the part of the Government to establish in this country a very important industry.
– I intend to support the amendment. We are considering a Bill to provide for the payment of bounties on the manufacture ofblack steel sheets and galvanized sheets in the Commonwealth. The object of the measure is to encourage and foster an Australian industry, and I have always been prepared to vote for a bounty for that purpose. I support the amendment after hearing the argument adduced by Senator Keating, who has put up the bogy of a monopoly being created if the amendment be carried. I agree with the Minister that, under our Constitution, we cannot controlmonopolies; but I point out to Senator Keating and to the Minister that the final clause of this Bill provides a protection against the suggested monopoly that can be made use of even without an amendment of the Constitution. Clause 13 provides that-
The Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act, and in particular for any of the following purposes : -
I venture to say that if Senator Grant’s amendment be carried the Government will have full power under clause 13 to prevent any monopoly interfering with this industry. I cannot understand why the Government should propose the payment of a bounty on imported material of this kind. This is an island continent blessed by nature with all the resources necessary for the manufacture of everything essential to its development. The Government propose under this Bill a means of encouraging the production and manufacture of Australian iron ore. But at the same time they leave the door open for the imported material.
– They invite its importation.
– That is so, and by so doing they invite the destruction of the industry they are trying to. establish. They undo with one hand what they are doing with the other. There is full power under this Bill to deal with the suggested monopoly.
– Where does the honorable senator find that?
– In clause 13.
– The regulations must be consistent with the Constitution as well as with the provisions of this Bill.
– Should such a monopoly eventuate as has been indicated by . Senator Keating even without an alteration of the Constitution, the Government would have full power under clause 13 to deal with it.
– C - Clause 13 does not. alter the Constitution.
– That is so; but it would give the Government all the power they wouldrequire under this Bill. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment, because I desire that the bounty shall be paid only to Australian people for the production of Australian material. If material is imported from abroad we have another remedy to meet the difficulty. We can amend our Tariff by increasing the duties upon it, but we should not open the door wider than it is now under the Tariff to importations of this material.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [9.15]. - It is evident that we are all agreed in our desire to support this Bill, the object of which is to establish an entirely Australian industryan industry which will be Australian . from the ore itself, to the completed article. But it seems to me that, under the amendment which we are now considering, one or two companies, which practically enjoy a monopoly of the iron industry to-day, would be able to defeat its very purpose. If, for example, the companies already in existence- decide to undertake the manufacture of galvanized sheets, and other companies, which may be formed especially to embark upon this particular enterprise, apply to them for the requisite raw material, they may be met with a refusal, to supply it or charged a prohibitive price. The result would be that the existing companies would be able to maintain not only a monopoly of the raw material, but also a monopoly of the manufactured article. At the same time, I think it would be wise to provide that the Minister, before permitting the importation of sheet bar steel, shouldbe required to state his reasons to both Houses of Parliament. I cannot supportSenator Grant’s amendment, because, conceivably, it might defeat the object of the Bill.
– I think that the case has been very clearly put by Senators Keating and O’Loghlin, who have grasped the true purport of this clause. We must recollect that the quantity ofiron required in the Australian market is very limited. Consequently, we cannot afford to have iron works established in every
State of the Commonwealth. Many years will probably elapse before more iron works are established in our midst for the purpose of manufacturing iron out of our iron ores. But the object of this Bill is not to sanction the payment of a bounty upon the production of iron ore, but to encourage the manufacture of galvanized iron. Now, if we are going to have that article produced in any places other than Newcastle or Lithgow, it is absolutely necessary that this clause should be carried in its present form. The manufacture of iron from Australian ore is now practically a monopoly. If a company were established in Western Australia for the purpose of manufacturing galvanized iron- and the plant required for this particular work is not large or costly - it wouldbe obliged to obtain its raw material either from Newcastle or Lithgow. In such circumstances, the freight added to the price of the iron would be practically prohibitive. That is the reason why I imagine a pseudo Free Trader like Senator Grant wishes to see this amendment carried - to create a monopoly in New South Wales.
– The honorable senator cannot face any question in a decent manner. He is the most contemptible man I ever met.
– I wish to save the honorable senator’s good name as a Free Trader.
– The honorable senator cannot deal with any question in a decent manner. He is always insulting. He is the most contemptible man I ever knew.
– There is only one reason why Senator Grant, as a Free Trader, has submitted this proposal, namely a desire to see a monopoly established in New South Wales.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in imputing improper motives to met I ask that he shall be compelled to withdraw his offensive, ignorant, and foolish remarks.
– If Senator de Largie has said anything which is personally offensive to Senator Grant, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I have said nothing that is offensive, and nothing that is out of order under our Standing Orders; and I am not going to withdraw my statement, after the insulting way in which Senator Grant has put the matter.
– I submit that Senator de Largie is out of order in imputing motives to me which are incorrect, misleading, and untrue; and I ask that his statement should be withdrawn. He has said that 1 have submitted this amendment because I desire to see a monopoly established in New South Wales. That statement is quite untrue, and only worthy of Senator de Largie.
– That statement is quite in order in debate.
– I beg to dissent from your ruling that Senator de Largie is in order in imputing to me motives which are incorrect and without foundation.
In the Senate.
The Chairman of Committees. - I beg to report that in Committee, Senator de Largie stated that Senator Grant was supporting the payment of the iron and steel bounty because he desired to create a monopoly in New South Wales. I ruled that the statement was quite in order, and Senator Grant has dissented from my ruling.
– In Committee, I moved to omit from clause 2 the words “ or such imported sheet bar steel as is authorized in pursuance of section 3 of this Act.” In doing so, I was actuated solely by a desire to prevent the payment of bounty upon galvanized iron and black steel sheets made from imported material. My object was not to secure the creation of a monopoly in New South Wales. As a matter of fact, I have very little respect for State boundaries. In these circumstances, I felt . that my opinions were being misrepresented, and my motives wrongly twisted by Senator de Largie, who had evidently determined to place upon my views a construction which was absolutely incorrect. I appealed to the Chairman of Committees to protect me from those insinuations and gross misrepresentations on the part of Senator de Largie,but the Chairman held that the honorable senator was entitled to impute motives to me, namely, that really I was advancing this amendment in order that New South Wales might have a monopoly. As nothing of that kind was in my mind, and as the statements were untrue, I dissented from the Chairman’s ruling; and I ask, in the circumstances, that you, sir, will not support the Chairman, but will declare that he was utterly wrongin the decision which he arrived at.
– In stating his case, Senator Grant has taken the ground from right under his own feet by repeating the words which he used when he raised the point of order. As a matter of fact, the honorable senator got himself out of order by using insulting words and repeating them.
– Because that is the only expression which correctly fits you.
– Order! The honorable senator must not use those expressions.
Senatorde Largie. - No, and if the honorable senator uses such words in regard to myself, I shall have to apply much stronger terms to him.
– I should like to see you try it on.
– Order !
– The words which I used were that the effect of Senator Grant’s amendment would be to create a monopoly in New South Wales. And, in his usually impetuous manner, the honorable senator rushed a point of order upon the Chairman, which was, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous, because there was nothing unruly or out of order in anything I had said. My arguments were quite in keeping with the question before the Committee; and, in raising a point of order, all that Senator Grant has done has been to interrupt the business of the Senate.
– In fairness to Senator Grant, I wish to state that my mind has registered the statements of Senator de Largie as imputing motives to Senator Grant. He used words to this effect : “ This pseudo Free Trader is introducing a protectionist amendment to give New South Wales a monopoly in a certain way.”. Senator Grant took exception to the offensive manner of Senator de Largie.
-That is not in dispute. Senator Grant does not refer to that in his written dissent.
– I suggest that you get the Hansard notes of what actually has been said.
– It is all right. I used those terms.
– In any case, I could not take notice of what may be in the Hansard record. All I have to notice, and to deal with, is what is contained in the written dissent from the ruling of the Chairman of Committees, as to what the honorable senator feels aggrieved about. I have the dissent of Senator Grant before me, in which he states -
I beg to dissent from the ruling of the Chair that Senator de Largie was in order in imputing that Senator Grant supported the amendment because it would give a monopoly to New South Wales.
The standing order dealing with the matter is No. 418, which reads as follows : -
No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any member of such House, or of any House of a StateParliament, or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.
If Senator de Largie made any offensive statement, or even a statement which Senator Grant regarded as offensive, then, undoubtedly, the Chairman of Committees should have compelled Senator de Largie to withdraw that statement. But I have nothing to do with any offensive statement that may have been made, because Senator Grant has not called it into question in his written dissent from the ruling of the Chair. The honorable senator’s complaint is that the Chairman did not compel Senator de Largie to withdraw the imputation of a motive. The whole question arises whether there was the imputation of an improper motive or not. I am walling to leave it to Senator Grant himself to decide whether it was improper to impute that by his actions he was standing up for the State of New South Wales.
Unless Senator Grant considers that the insinuations were improper, and that it would not be a proper attitude for him to stand up for advantages which might accrue to his own State, then I must rule that the Chairman was right in not regarding it as an improper motive. I would like to leave it to Senator Grant himself. My opinion is that it is not improper for any honorable senator to stand up for the benefits and advantages and the welfare of the State which he represents. I say so candidly. While recognising the duty that an honorable senator owes to the whole of Australia, I; personally, hold that it is only right that he should have his eye open to the best advantages which can be afforded the State which he particularly represents, and an insinuation that hewas doing so, I would not regard as being an imputation of an impropermotive. If Senator Grant thinks that the imputation of the motive that he was supporting a benefit for his own State is an improper one, then I shall rule that the Chairman was not in order in refusing to compel Senator de Largie to withdraw the expression which he employed.
– The imputation hurled at me by Senator de Largie is offensive. I am for Australia first.
– In those circumstances, I shall rule that the Chairman of Committees was not correct in refusingto compel Senator de Largie to withdraw.
– Senator de Largie must withdraw the imputation which he made concerning the motives of Senator Grant.
– I withdraw the imputation. The next time Senator Grant raises a point of order, I hope that he will not use any offensive remarks; otherwise it may lead to still more unpleasantness. I realize, of course, that the matter under discussion is quite above the intelligence of the honorable senator. He is not able to grasp its full meaning. Therefore, we can forgive him.
– Senator de Largie has just been called to order for imputing motives to Senator Grant, and he now uses the expression that the subject under discussion is above the intelligence of the honorable senator. I take exception to such a reflection upon my honorable colleague, and I ask Senator de Largieto withdraw it.
– And so do I.
– I shall not do anything of the kind, because I do not think the point of order is genuine, but that it has only been raised to take up the time of the Committee.
- Senator Gardiner and Senator Grant have objected that the remarks used by Senator de Largie are offensive. I thereforeask him to withdraw them.
– I withdraw them. I, at any rate, do not wish to take up the time of the Committee. I do not expect Senator Grant to be able to. follow my remarks, for very good and obvious reasons.
If a private firm, engaged in the manufacture of pig iron from Australian ore, were to attempt to carry on business in any other State than New South Wales, it would be impossible, owing to the fact of a monopoly being held by one big firm. I havetried to show the fallacy of thematter, but Iamsorry that Senator Grant was notable to grasp the meaning of my arguments. Knowing SenatorGrant as I do, Iam not surprised at that. What I am pleading for is a fair deal for all the States, and not for a monopoly for New South Wales. I am not ashamed tosay that I standup for the rights of the State which I represent. IfSenatorGrant is ashamed to beaccused of doing that, I certainly am not.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that Senator de Largie. in his usually personal, ignorant, and offensive manner, isdirecting specific remarks to myself. His complaint that I cannot follow his arguments upon the subject are quite right, because, so far as he has gone, he has givenno argument - he has merely indulged in personal reflections. I , ask whether Senator de Largie is in order in making such reflections ?
Senator de Largie isperfectly in order in the statements which he has just made.
– I have pointed out that the plant required would not necessarily be very expensive, and that, if the industry were confined to the use of iron made from Australian ore, that would preclude any rolling mills from being established in any other State than New South Wales. And to secure such an extension of the industry this Bill has been framed. If we preclude the possibility of the use of imported bar iron for this purpose, we shall defeat the object in view, and create a monopoly in New South Wales. That would be quite wrong. Consumers in the other States would have to pay for the monopoly established in one State only. I, for one, shall not agree to such a proposition. I shall endeavour’ to see that a fair deal is given to the industries of Western Australia. They would suffer if the iron could only be secured from New South Wales.
– I listened with great attention to the arguments of Senator Keating, and to the explanations of the Minister in support of the clause as it stands. But those arguments have not made the slightest impression upon me. I do not propose to withdraw my amendment. Most honorable senators will remember that not many years ago, when the Commonwealth required a supply of steel rails for the transcontinental line, the iron manufacturers around the world combined forces, and agreed to supply those rails only at a certain fixed price. I do not imagine that the mental acuteness of the iron manufacturers of the world has been dulled by the war. I have in mind that, while there may be a large company established in New South Wales at present, there is just a possibility that it may work in harmony with the importers of iron. And, if we concede to that company the right to claim a bounty from the Commonwealth on imported manufactured iron, what is to stop the company from importing iron ? It may be easier for it to import iron than for the manufacturers to do so. To some honorable senators that may be a most desirable objective, but I venture to think it is not the objective behind this Bill. The idea of the Bill is to see that iron and iron ores procurable in Australiaare manufactured into the finished article. If we give a bounty on the article manufactured from imported iron or steel bars, we shall open the door wide to the two industries’, at present established in New South Wales, to imports. If I were a big shareholder in one of those companies, and saw the door opened in that manner, and could make more money by the importation of partly manufactured material, I should avail myself of it as much as possible. That is not the intention of the Bill. It is not to be supposed that those who have put their money into the primary industry will be so unreasonable as to charge extortionate prices to the secondary producer. I do not agree that expensive machinery is not required for the manufacture of sheet iron, for I am informed on very good authority that the cost is fairly substantial, that the manufacture of the necessary machinery and plant is a matter of considerable expense, and that we need not expect to see many of these concerns established in the Commonwealth for some time to come. For these reasons, and with the desire to see Australian ores made into the finished article, I submit that it would be far better to make some arrangement with the companies, which have already shown their willingness to manufacture iron and steel from local ores, to supply their finished article to the Commonwealth Government or other companies at a fixed price. Australia has suffered in innumerable directions ever since the war began on account of the exceptionally high cost of galvanized iron. Probably nothing has caused such a deadlock in business as the scarcity and high price of that article. If my amendment is carried, I am satisfied that the companies’ now extracting iron from Australian ore, and manufacturing it up to a certain point, will not charge excessive prices for their products to other companies which desire to manufacture subsidiary articles.
.- I shall vote with Senator Grant, and altogether dissent from Senator de Largie’s line of argument.
He seemed to think that the amendment was framed purely in the interests of New South Wales, and that the fact that iron works were already established there would give that State a monopoly if the bounty were paid only on sheet iron wholly produced “in the Commonwealth. Iron works in countries where cheap labour is available can undoubtedly land here a much cheaper sheet iron than can be produced in the high-wage State of New South Wales. If imported iron from Japan and other cheap labour centres is put on the same footing as the locally produced iron, it will push it off the market. If that happens, we shall simply be paying a huge bounty to certain firms to galvanized imported sheets. I am not a Protectionist, and this war has made me more a Free Trader than ever. I have seen the iron monopolists of Australia hand their iron manufacturing concerns, brought into existence by means of” bounties paid from hard-earned taxes of the people, over to a combine of merchants to charge the users pounds and pounds above the normal value of their products. Iron which was selling at £9 per ton was up to £28 a few months after the war had started, the people being plundered by the very businesses that were brought into existence with their own money.
– And you want to extend that monopoly!
-I want to do nothing of the kind. Senator Grant’s motive is the straight-out, honorable motive of a man who wants the whole produce of Australia, to get the full benefit of the bounty, instead of produce partly Australian and partly foreign getting it. If the bounty ‘ is given on sheets imported from abroad, and galvanized in Australia, the galvanizing process will give ana mount of work that is hardly worth considering. Senator de Largie admits that the galvanizing plant is not very costly. He says those plants may be set up in Western Australia or Tasmania for that reason, but that if the promoters are compelled to obtain their raw material from New South Wales alone, they will be prevented from going into the business, because the monopolists in New South Wales can put the prices up.
Before any bounties are granted, a Bill of this kind should provide that no arrangement shall be entered into by the primary producers of iron with any firms or merchants to increase the price of their product; but that it must be sold at a reasonable profit upon the cost of production. The Lithgow company, who have been subsidized for years by the Commonwealth, were actually selling their scrap, which is the cut-off ends, to the manufacturers and users of iron. The combine of merchants, with which the company were acting in co-operation, objected, because this practice interfered with the profits of their business, the scrap being purchaseable at about half the merchants’ prices. You could not get any of these businesses, which the people have paid to create, to sell directly to the man who wanted to use their products for manufacturing purposes. You could not get Hoskins to sell to a large engineering or blacksmithing concern. He sells to the combine which he has agreed to sell to, and the combine put on exorbitant prices. Thus everything has gone up, and during the war the combine has exploited Australia. Senator Grant is coming right down to bedrock in saying that we must not give huge bounties to iron made in America, Japan, or elsewhere, and merely galvanized in Australia. That would simply mean establishing businesses for the importation of iron to come into competition with our primary iron producers, and with the great iron deposits of Tasmania and New South Wales. There may be equally good iron deposits in Western Australia.
– It means making Australia the slave of cheap labour overseas.
– That is true. I said I was more of a Free Trader than ever; but we are getting somewhat mixed in this Chamber. Here we have old Protectionists, such as Senator de Largie, proposing to open the door for the importation of iron, and accusingSenator Grant, as an old Free Trader, of trying to introduce a system of Protection. I shall vote with Senator Grant, whether his proposal is Free Trade or Protection, because his amendment goes far in the direction of giving the bounty to the wholly Australian product, and not to a product which is nine-tenths foreign and one-tenth Australian.
.- Will the Minister (Senator Russell) explain the exact meaning of the term “sheetbar steel’’? I have not seen it used before. There is a reference in the Bill to steel sheets made from sheet bar steel, and not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness. It seems to me that all we are doing in opening the door, so far as the Minister’s approval is concerned, is to allow the importation of steel bars into Australia, to be rolled in Australia into black sheets, and subsequently galvanized. It has been suggested in the debate that there is likely to be a big importation of steel sheets ready for galvanizing. I do not read that meaning into the Bill at all. It simply gives the Minister authority at his discretion, should circumstances warrant it, to allow the importation of bar steel. It is not right to assume that clause 3, which has a vital bearing on the clause now before us, will open the door to the importation of steel sheets of 24, 26, and 28-gauge, ready for galvanizing and corrugating into the article which is so largely used by primary producers all over Australia.
– It is not the intention to permit the importation of steel sheets. What is referred to is the steel bar, which is practically ready to be rolled into sheets to be made subsequently into galvanized iron.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Grant’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
In the event of such circumstances arising as would, in the opinion of the Minister, warrant the use of sheet bar steel, other than that made in Australia, for the manufacture in Australia of black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and galvanized sheets, the Minister may authorize that sheet bar steel to be so used, and the black steel sheets not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness and the galvanized sheets made from that sheet bar steel shall be deemed to be black steel sheets and galvanized sheets for the purposes of this Act.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [10.3]. - I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided that in case the Minister should authorize the use of sheet bar steel other than that made in Australia the reasons for such authorization shall be laid before Parliament.”
I indicated, when speaking on clause 2, that I could not support Senator Grant’s amendment, as I thought the authority should not be left to the arbitrary discretion of the Minister. I trust the Minister will accept the reasonable proposition I have now submitted. If he should desire to make such a departure by authorizing the importation of sheet bar steel, he will, under this proviso, lay the reasons before Parliament, and if they are sound and sensible there will be no objection to them by the Senate. Should they not be satisfactory, however, both Houses of Parliament will have an opportunity of expressing an opinion.
– I accept the amendment with a good deal of pleasure, because, as I indicated earlier in the debate, if I thought the provisions of clause 2 would injure the production of the material in Australia, I would not support it myself. This provision will require the Minister to lay the reasons before Parliament, andI seeno objection to it.
– I am glad to know of the attitude of the Minister, as it will convince honorable senators who supported the amendment to the previous clause of the bona fides of the Government with regard to the exercise of this power. I believe, however, that a similar provision has been inserted in other Acts, and it might be necessary, before this Bill leaves the Senate, to have the substance of . the amendment proposed inserted in some other form.
– I shall make a note of the suggestion.
– I think the amendment needs further consideration, because it is necessary for the reasons to be placed before Parliament much in the same way as regulations are at present, so that Parliament may have an opportunity within so many sitting days of disallowing them.
– Disallowing the reasons ?
– No, disallowing the right to import foreign material. We might have in charge a Minister who would permit large quantities of most inferior and objectionable material to be imported from some foreign State, and if, as provided in the amendment, he merely had to give his reasons, naturally he would give an intelligent reason, and say that importation was necessary because of the scarcity of material in Australia. He need say nothing more.
– B - But Parliament could deal with the reasons.
– The amendment will be ineffective unless it invests Parliament with power to deal with the decision of the Minister.
– Senator Keating’s suggestion meets your difficulty.
– No. The amendment as at present before the Committee merely provides that the reasons shall be laid upon the table. We know what that means. We have provided that our statutory rules shall be laid upon the table of the. House within fifteen sitting days if Parliament is sitting, but I point out that eight days have gone by since a statutory rule was promulgated, and it has the effect of law to-day. If I called a public meeting against the wish of any military officer who wrote an order under that rule, I and anybody attending that meeting would be arrested. Although the spirit of the Act provides that, if Parliament is sitting, statutory rules shall be laid before Parliament for approval or disapproval, I cannot disapprove of this rule, because it has not been laid on the table of the Senate. I rose to complain that the amendment givesus nothing, because, as I havealready shown, the Minister could furnish the Senate with any reason he liked, and as the amendment is drafted, the Senate would have no power to deal with it. 1 would prefer to have the Bill without it than delude myself with the belief that the amendment was a safeguard against the possibility of any Minister permitting imported articles to put articles of local manufacture out of the market, because Parliament will not have an effective opportunity of discussing the reasons.
– But anything laid on the table of the Senate may be discussed.
– The honorable senator says so; but I have been here for eight years, and I dissent from his opinion. This amendment merely says that the Minister shall place his reasons upon the table of the Senate, but as honorable senators know, papers so laid on the table are not often discussed. Year in and year out thousands of papers are laid on the table, and the Senate has no time to discuss them.
– If they are brought on by motion they may be discussed.
– As far as my experience goes, it is absolutely out of the question to expect the Senate to discuss these matters. They need never be discussed except with the consent of the Government. I am quite in agreement with the intention of Senator O’Loghlin’s amendment, but I contend that it does not provide any adequate safeguards for Australian industries.
– I should like some explanation from the Minister with regard to the peculiar phraseology of the clause. It states -
In the event of such circumstances arising as would, in the opinion of the Minister, warrant the use of sheet bar steel -
We will assume those to be bars of steel especially made for the rolling of steel sheets - other than that made in Australia for the manufacture in Australia of black steel sheets not exceeding l-16th of aninch in thickness……
Sheet iron, eventually galvanized and corrugated, is gauged in different thicknesses, from 1 to 28, and even 30, and I understand that 28-gauge sheets, when corrugated, are very much stronger than the ordinary flat sheet of 24-gauge. The peculiar phraseology seems to block the making of these thin sheets in Australia.
– No. It provides they must not be thicker than l-16th of an inch.
– I am glad of the’ Minister’s explanation. I should now like the Minister to accept a slight amendment ofthe clause by insertingthe word” British “ before the words “ black steel sheets.” This, I think, cannot be objected to. Obviously, there are many reasons why, if we are going to import raw material, we should obtain it from the ‘Motherland. I know there are some objections to giving bounties upon anything imported, butif this course be necessary, and the Minister will accept the suggestion I have made, it will,I think, meet with the unanimous approval of the Committee, because it will remove from the minds of honorable senators any fear they may have that in the future the Australian taxpayers’ money will be used in a direction not. at present contemplated.
– The honorable senator cannot submit an amendment at this stage unless Senator O’Loghlin temporarily withdraws the amendment he has moved.
– Senator Pratten’s suggested amendment would require a similar amendment in clause 2.
– The Committee cannot go back to clause 2, but may recommit any clause requiring further consideration.
– I - I ask leave to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That after the word “ that,” line 7, the word “ British “ be inserted.
. -I see no great objection to the acceptance of Senator Pratten’s amendment. It is in accordance with the policy of the Government, which is in all cases to give the preference first to Australia and afterwards to the Home Country. With respect to Senator Needham’s suggestion, Ithink the words used in clause 2., “ such imported sheet barsteel as is authorized in pursuance of section 3 of this Act,” would render a similar amendment of clause 2 unnecessary.
.- I have no particular objection to the insertion of the word “British,” but I remind Senator Pratten that sheet bar steel ismanufactured in the United States of America as well as in Great Britain. Ihaveevery respect for anything British, because I am a Britisher myself, but I remind Senator Pratten that there is cheap labour in Great Britain. I supported Senator Grant’s amendmentin order to conserve the manufactureof Australian materials for theAustralian people . If I decided to oppose Senator Pratten’s amendment, I should be consistent with the attitude I have always adopted as a member of the Senate when we have been considering amendments of the Tariff. I have consistently opposed the 5per cent. preference given to British goods under the Tariff, because there is so much cheap labour in Great Britain. People outside have considered my opposition to that preference best described by the word “disloyalty,” which is in every one’s mouth nowadays. I am still alive, despite that construction being put upon my action. If we are going to allow imported sheet bar steel to be used in this industry, I remind honorable senators that it is manufactured in the United States and in Canada. Does Senator Pratten intend that the preference shall be given to sheet bar steel manufactured only in Great Britain?
– I think the phrase used in the Tariff is “the produce of manufactures of the United Kingdom.”
– Sheet bar steel might be manufactured in Ireland. Would that be covered by the word British?
– It might be suggested that that was anti-British.
– That has not been proved by the experience of the war, in which Redmond died leading Irishmen into action. If we are going to permit the use of imported sheet bar steel, I do not see how we can cut out the products of the great nation that assisted us so materially in the war which has just been brought to a successful conclusion.
– And what about France?
– The honorable senator’s interjection supplies another reason why, perhaps, it would not be wise to accept the amendment. It would lead to an invidious distinction, particularly when a revision of the Tariff is held in abeyance until the terms of peace are settled.
– Surely we may pay our own money to whom we please?
– I admit that, and I personally would rather pay it to Australian people than to any people outside of Australia. I do not see why sheet bar steel made in Britain should be given a preference over sheet bar steel made in Australia.
– It would not be given a preference over sheet bar steel made in Australia.
– It would, under the honorable senator’s amendment, be placed in a position to compete with sheet bar steel made in Australia. I think it would be far better to leave the clause as it stands; and even at the risk of being called disloyal and an antiBritisher I think I shall have to vote against the amendment.
– I wish , to say a word or two to correct a misapprehension which, I fear, exists in the mind of Senator Needham. If the clause were amended in the way suggested by Senator O’Loghlin, and the supply of Australian sheet bar steel was not, in theopinion of the Minister, sufficient to supply the works to be established under this Bill, he would be able to authorize the importation of a sufficient quantity of sheet bar steel to keep those works going upon giving sufficient reasons to Parliament for that authorization. But when such a necessity arose, if my amendment were carried, no sheet bar steel could be imported on the authorization of the Minister unless that of British origin. A bounty Bill is very different from a Tariff. Under a Tariff the goods of all nations imported pay duty according to certain schedule rates, but under a Bounty Bill moneys drawn direct from the taxpayers’ pockets are paid to manufacturers under the terms specified by the Bill. There are only a few countries abroad that would be in a position to export sheet bar steel, and the chief of these on the Continent is Germany. We cannot forecast what the economic position will eventually be, bub here we have a proposal to pay a bounty out of the pockets of the taxpayers, and surely it is reasonable to safeguard the Australian taxpayers’ money, and see that it shall be paid only in respect of sheet bar steel of British manufacture, where it is necessary that sheet bar steel should be imported.
– The amendment which I submitted some time ago has evidently been having its influence upon Senator Pratten’s mind. The honorable senator is now prepared to exclude sheet bar steel manufactured in any of the oversea Dominions of the British Empire, in the United States, or anywhere else outside of Australia, except Great Britain That would not impose the limitation I desire to see imposed upon the payment of this bounty, but it would very substantially limit the importation of sheet bar steel. I should be disposed to support the honorable senator’s amendment if he substituted the words “ United King- dom “ for the word “British.” Probably that is what the honorable senator intended, by his amendment.
-That is so.
– I think the United Kingdom would be the better term to use. I believe it would include Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as well as England. I suppose that Senator Pratten would not care to differentiate between sheet bar steel manufactured in Ireland and the same material manufactured in Wales. If the honorable senator would accept my suggestion, I should be prepared to support his amendment as a step in the direction in which I wished the Committee to move when I submitted my amendment on clause 2.
– I hope that Senator Pratten will withdraw his amendment. This is not a Bill to provide for a bounty on imported steel bars, because it must be made into sheet steel after it reaches the Commonwealth.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed - That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) the discontent that exists amongst some of our returned blind soldiers. I presume that he has read, just as I have done, the following statement, which appears in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday last -
The Sightless Fighter. better treatment wanted. “ They took fifty pieces of shrapnel out of me; both my eyes are out,” a returned soldier exclaimed at last night’s meeting of theR.S. and S.I.L. He demanded a better pension, declaring that the 30s. a week he received was utterly too low. “This is paralysed,” he shouted, touching one arm, “ and this is useless, and so is this,” pointing to other parts of his body, “ and yet Senator Millen says a blinded man is not entirely incapacitated.”
The soldier was loudly cheered when he de clared that he could not sit making baskets or mending boots all day- he thought he was entitledto a better pension, whether he did that or not. As it was, he was left in lodgings like a dog, without even any one to lead him about. He had asked permission to sell bootlaces in George-street, and had been put off.
That is a terrible state of affairs-
– If true, it would be.
– I endeavoured to ascertain the real facts of the case. I went to look for this man. I found out where he lived, but, unfortunately, he had left his lodgings, and I was informed that it was owing to discontent that he had left them. Cases of this kind should be dealt with on their merits. If’ this blind soldier is discontented, and wishes to sell boot laces in George-street, he should be permitted to do so. But there should be some institution in which he can be cared for after his work for the day is finished. His name is Burlington. I know that the Minister has just as much sympathy with this man as I have. I am merely taking the present opportunity to bring his case under the honorable gentleman’s notice, feeling sure that he will inquire into it, and that, if anything can be done to make this unfortunate blind soldier more contented both in body and mind, he will do it.
– I take no exception to the action of Senator McDougall in bringing this case before the Senate. But, before I say any more, I am entitled to complain of the persistency with which organizations, and the newspapers, publish statements of the kind which Senator McDougall has just read when they ought to know, and if possible to point out to such men that they are suffering from their own ignorance of what we provide for them. There is no need for any blind soldier to subsist on his pension of 30s. per week. If those who profess to be looking after the soldiers’ interests would only devote a little time to our repatriation regulations they would know that the position of this man to-day, if it has been correctly stated, arises purely from want of knowledge on his part.First of all it is stated that he gets a pension of 30s. a week, and that there is nobody to look after him. As a matter of fact, our War Pensions Act makes’ special provision for an attendant in such cases. I thought; too, that everybody knew that we supplemented the pensions: of ail incapacitated soldiers, and even of those who are not incapacitated while they are awaiting work, beyond 30s. a week. The least a single man can get in circumstances such as I have outlined is £2 2s. a week. That ought to have been pointed out to this soldier by some of his numerous friends who are acting as critics of the Department today. Our repatriation regulations, set out that the Department will provide a home for any blind soldier,, will teach him any trade that he - desires to learn, and will equip him with .the tools of that’ trade in his own home. It would be very much better if those who ought to know the facts, would place our returned soldiers In. possession of those facts, instead of allowing, them to rush into print with all sorts of ill-founded complaints. Senator McDougall has supplied me. with the name of this particular soldier, and tomorrow I shall wire to Sydney in. an endeavour to get into touch with him, so that we may inform him of -what his position really is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate- adjourned, at 10.40 p.m. .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 December 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181204_senate_7_87/>.