7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that we are approaching the Christmas adjournment, I ask the Leader of the Senate how long the recess is likely to last?
– I am unable to answer that question just now; tut, perhaps, before the Senate rises I shall be in a position to make a statement on the subject. .
Removal of Mr. Jensen from the Ministry.
-(By leave.)- In to-day’s newspapers there appears a statement by Mr. Jensen, in which he refers to a conversation which’ took place between him and myself at my house in St. Kilda. . As that statement is in conflict with my recollection of what took place I wish to. take this opportunity to put before the. Senate and the country what my recollection of that conversation is.
It is quite correct that Iinvited Mr. Jensen to come out on a Saturday afternoon to see me at my house. On his arrival, I, first of all, congratulated him on the fact that the Royal Commission’s report had, in ray judgment, cleared him from any charge of having improperly received money in connexion with the Shaw wireless contract. I expressed my pleasure at that. I then proceeded to say to him that, in my opinion, the report of the Commission in regard to his administration was a weighty andsevere indictment, and one that I thought would tell very heavily against him in Parliament and in the country. He contested that, and we then proceeded to go through the report, of which I had a copy.
Mr. Jensen put to me the view he held in opposition to that which I had stated. He said that if he had an opportunity he could put a case which he believed would exonerate him both in Parliament and in the country from any charge of laxity or want of administrative ability. I told him eventually, after our conversation had proceeded for some time’ on those lines, that, in my opinion, that was not the case, and -that I felt that if he came before Parliament with that report as a Minister he would be condemned on the report.
I pointed out, further, that if he came before Parliament as a member of ‘the Government, the Government would also’ have to accept the responsibility of that condemnation, he being a member of it. I mentioned that the acts for which the Commission had condemned his administration were acts, not of the present Government or of his administration while a member of the present Government, but of his administration while he was a member of the previous Government. I said that even if any members of the present Government took his view that he had a good defence to the condemnation of his acts of administration, and they put that view forward, they would at once be open to the charge, not that they were trying to save Mr. Jensen from public or parliamentary condemnation, but that they were trying to save themselves and the Government to which they belonged.
I told Mr. . Jensen that I was speaking to him entirely on my ownresponsibility, that I had not been asked to do so by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Watt) or any member of the present Government,and my only justification for speaking was that he and I had been associated with the Labour party together, that we left the Labour party for the same reason at the same time, that we were members of that section of the Labour party which coalesced with the Liberals, that Mr. Hughes was at present away in England, and that I felt it my duty as an old colleague to give him the benefit of my views and of my advice. I told him that, in my judgment, he would put himself in a better position to defend his administration if, before the Cabinet met to discuss this question, he placed his resignation in the hands of the Acting Prime Minister. He contested that view, and said that he believed that if he had an opportunity to come before the Nationalist party he could convince the members of the party, and they would agree to his remaining in the Government. I then pointed out to him that under the system of Cabinet responsibility Ministers have to take a collective responsibility for the acts of the several members of the Cabinet. I said that if the first Administration of which he was a member at the time these things were done had continued in office, he would have a perfect right, in my judgment, to ask that that Administration should share- his responsibility, although they might justly have said that, in regard to some of the matters on which the Commission reported, those things were done without their knowledge. I said that theposition was entirely altered by the fact that the majorityof the members of the present Government were not members of the Government under which these things took place, and that a majority of them, also, did not even belong to the party which the previous Government represented. I said that, whatever claims he might have on Ministers who were his colleagues at the time these transactions took place, he bad no right to ask the other Ministers to share this responsibility with him.
I said that if he resigned he would come before the House untrammelled by Government responsibility, free to make the best case he could to Parliament, and that Parliament would honour his action in resigning from the Government in order to avoid placing responsibility on his colleagues. I said that he would be in a better position, and receive a better hearing from Parliament and the country, after having done that, than if he attempted, as a member of the Government, to make the Government as a whole shoulder responsibility for transactions in which a majority of them had had no voice.
Mr. Jensen, to my mind, seemed to be impressed with what I put before him, and on leaving he thanked me for the advice I had given him. He said that he recognised that I gave it to him as a friend, and promised that he would consider what I had said before he came to a decision.
– I ask the Minis- . ter representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has any information to supply in answer to the questions which I asked some time ago relative to the regulation of the importation of. certain classes of goods.
– I regret that it is not possible to give a complete return in the form desired by the honorable senator, but I lay on the table a return which supplies the information desired so far as the records of the Trade and Customs Department permit.
Report ofroyal Commission.
– In view of what has happened in connexion with the report of the Royal Commission on Navy and Defence Administration, I ask the Leader of the Senate, have the Government considered the question of taking any further steps?
– The honorable senator will recollect that the last time I made a statement in the Senate on this subject I intimated that the Government were then taking some steps.
– My recollection is that it was with a view to a prosecution that steps were being taken.
– With a view to obtaining an opinion.
– In view of what has happened in the last few days, have the Government taken any steps to have any further investigation into the Royal Commission’s inquiry, which is at such a stage now that the Commission has not gone far enough or has gone too far?
– The Royal Commission is still in existence. It has not yet completed its labours.
Resignation of the Victorian State Board.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is correct, as reported in the metropolitan press of Melbourne this morning, that the Victorian State Board of Repatriation has resigned, and for the reasons stated? Will the Minister say if any similar action, or any action of an allied nature, has been taken by corresponding bodies in any of the other States, or whether those corresponding bodies have made any representations similar to those contained in the reasons given for the resignation of the Victorian State Board.
– It is correct that the Melbourne Board has tendered its resignation, to take effect, I believe, from the middle of February. I have no knowledge, nor have I any reason to suspect, that similar action is contemplated on the part of any other Repatriation Board.
– The whole of the members of the Victorian State Board have not resigned.
– That is so. So far, the resignations of only six members of the Board have reached me.
– Have similar representations been received from the other State Boards ?
– No, nor did the Victorian State Board, previous to the announcement in the press of their intention to resign, give me any intimation that they regarded these matters as of sufficient importance to justify such action, or that- it was at all in their mind. On learning from the press that the Board contemplated resigning, I telephoned the Chairman, and asked him to give me an opportunity of. meeting the Board. He declined to say yes or no to that request himself. He said that the Board would be meeting that afternoon, and that he would place my request before the members, when the Board would have to accept collective responsibility for acceding to that request or re- ‘ jecting. it. The Board did not give me an opportunity of meeting them before taking action.
– I ask the Minis ter for Defence, as the Minister in charge of the War Precautions’ Bill, which was passed in this Chamber in the early hours of this morning, whether the matter of the constitutionality of the measure has been considered, as I suggested yesterday, and, if not, when it is likely to be considered ?
– I think that the honorable senator cannot accuse me of delay when I say that I have not had an opportunity of forwarding my Hansard proofs to the Attorney-General’s Department. It is my usual practice, when I receive my proofs in the morning, to go through them, arid where I find I have made any promises, to forward a proof of my remarks to my colleague concerned. I shall see that that is done in this case at the earliest opportunity.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General yet received answers to the questions put by me regarding the pay of certain postal employees who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force?
– The following questions were asked by the honorable senator on the 11th inst. : -
The Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, has furnished the following replies : -
– I desire to ask you, sir, whether, in view of the fact that the Federal and State Governments are considering the justice of granting a war bonus to the lower-paid civil servants in consequence of the high cost of living due to the war, you, in conjunction with Mr. Speaker, will take into consideration the justice of granting a similar bonus to the lower-paid servants of this Parliament?
– This matter has been considered by Mr. Speaker and myself. We know from matters within our personal knowledge that the cost of living has gone up considerably. During the war we both set our faces very strenuously against giving any increases in salaries. In these circumstances we thought that the grant of a war bonus to the lower-paid servants of Parliament who had dependants was not only justifiable, but an incumbent obligation on this Parliament. Consequently, we have made a recommendation to the Treasurer on behalf of all the Departments connected with this building, that a sum of money should be made available to us to pay a war bonus of £10 for this financial year to each of the servants of Parliament who are receiving under £204 a year, and who have dependants. This will apply to all who come within that description except the female cleaners. In their case we have recommended that the bonus should be £5. The reason is that only about one-third of their time is occupied in this building, and that they are free during the rest of their time to do as they please. A bonus at the rate mentioned will preserve about the due proportion between them and those who are working full time. The only others to whom this recommendation will not apply are the gardeners. The reason for this is that during this financial year, through the recommendation of the Joint House Committee, they are already receiving a war bonus of1s. per day, which will amount in their case to morethan the £10 to be received by the others. We have not yet received the Treasurer’s decision on our ‘recommendation, but that is the only bar in the way of the payment ofthe money. As soon as the Treasurer’s warrant authorizing the payment is received, the money will be paid. If the Treasurer refuses to grant the bonus we can do no more.
The following papers were presented : -
Finance : Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1918, accompanied by the report of the Auditor-General.
Defence: Commonwealth Government Factories - Reports for year ended 30th June, 1918.
Audit Act 1901-1917.- Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council- Financial Year 1917-18. (Dated 18th December, 1918.)
War Precautions Act 1914-1916.- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1918, No. 314.
List of goods the importation of which is prohibited except by permission of the Minister for Trade and Customs. - Return to Order of Senate of 28th November, . 1918.
– Have representa tions been made to the Acting Minister for the Navy regarding the case I brought before the Senate recently of the alleged flogging of a boy on the Warrego? If so, what reply has been furnished?
– I have not yet received a reply from the Department of the Navy.
– Has the Leader of the Senate obtained the promised information regarding the export of metal scrap ?
– No. Owing to the late hour at which I left the building this morning, I have not had time to apply direct to the Department for it, but will see if it is possible to obtain it during this sitting.
Reduction of Staff
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Has any reduction been made in the Censor staff in Australia; and, if so, to what extent has such reduction been effected?
– The answers are -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Regulation 409 in consideration of age or service ?
– The answers are -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government follow the example of the State Government and pay the public servants, married or single, with dependants, who are in receipt of less than £204 per year, a bonus of £10?
– In view of the increased salaries granted under arbitration awards and Public Service regulations on account of the higher cost of living, no action in the direction indicated is contemplated.
Profit on Rabbit Skins.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Prices Commissioners have made a profit of, approximately, £250,000 from rabbit skins; and, ifso, is it intended to refund this sum to the Australian Workers Union, or to permanently retain it in the Consolidated Revenue?
– Yes. The profit resulted chiefly owing to the careful grading of the skins, and the keen demand by the American buyers. Australian requirements were met at practically normal rates. Under these circumstances, it is intended to retain the profit in the Consolidated Revenue.
Detention of Bilbao and Burtovitch
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he give the men Bilbao and Burtovitch, who have been detained in custody seven months after the expiration of their sentence, an opportunity of a public trial prior to the Government carrying out its expressed intention to deport them?
– Bilboa and Burtovitch are no longer resident in the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– I have not yet been furnished with this reply, but will endeavour to obtain it later to-day.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice-
– The answers are -
Land Leased and Alienated - Dar win Jetty.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice-
Australian Agency Limited, or North Australian Meat Company, within a radius of 5 miles of Darwin?
– The answers . are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - 1, Does Vestey Brothers, or North Australian Agency Limited, or North Australian Meat Company, hold the jetty at Darwin, and necessary rolling-stock, under lease from the Government?
– The Railways Commissioner advises -
No. 2 and 3. See answer to 1.
Coal, coke, firewood, ores, concentrates,1s. per ton.
General merchandise, N.O.S.,1s. 6d. per ton.
General merchandise (including vehicles), over 4 tons, in one piece, 4s. per ton.
Horses and cattle, 4d. each.
Other animals, 3d. each.
There are, however, other charges, such as handling on jetty by wharf labourers, 3s. per ton; railway shunting from jetty to sorting shed,1s. per ton; unloading in sorting shed by ship’s agents, 3s. per ton; delivery from sorting shed by ship’s agents,1s. per ton; and railway rental for use of sorting shed, 6d. per ton.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it a fact that one or more batches of internees have already been released from concentration camps ; and, if so, what are the circumstances under which such releases have been made?
– One batch of four internees, naturalized or natural-born, have been released, because it was considered that, under the existing conditions, there was no military necessity for their further retention.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 13th December, vide page 9229):
Clause 1 agreed to.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 1a. Section 32a of the principal Act is amended by adding, at the end thereof, the following sub-section : -
The new clause is a very simple one, and one which, I feel sure, will meet with the unanimous approval of honorable senators. Under the present law, a telegraph messenger, unless he passes a qualifying examination before he reaches eighteen years of age, is compelled to retire from the Service. To the credit of a number of these lads, be it said, upon attaining their eighteenth birthday, they were either in military camps in Australia, or at the Front as members of the Australian Imperial Force. As the boys, who at eighteen years of age were either in camp or at the Front, were precluded from passing the necessary qualifying examination, this clause is intended to permit them to remain in the Service without undergoing any examination. It is a simple act of justice to the lads who have served us so well at the Front.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
After section 34c of the principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 34d. - (1.) Where the Commissioner reports to the Governor-General that it is not desirable that the system of examination should be applied in relation to an appointment to a specified position, or appointments to a specified class of positions, in the General Division, there may be appointed to that position, or to a position in that class, a person who has not passed the prescribed examination. “ (2.) In making appointments under the provisions ofthis section, preference shall be given to persons who have served with satisfactory record in any Expeditionary Force raised under the provisions of the Defence Act 1903-1917. “ (3.) Where the Governor-General so directs, persons appointed under the provisions of this section shall not be subject to the provisions of Part IV. of this Act.”.
in introducing this Bill. Had the provisions of this measure been in exact accord with the Minister’s statement of the position, I should have been prepared to support the Bill in its entirety. But I do not know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council, prior to making that speech, had really read the Bill. In his secondreading speech, he stated -
The first amendment of importance is to enable those who have been on active service in the Australian Imperial Force to enter the Public Service without being required to go through the formality of examination.
I venture to say that every honorable senator would only be too glad to support any such proposal. But the clause goes a great deal farther. It provides that after section 34c of the principal Act the following section shall be inserted : - “34d. (1.) Where the Commissioner reports to the Governor-General that it is not desirable that the system of examination should be applied in relation to an appointment to a specified position, or appointments to a specified class of positions, in the General Division, there may be appointed to that position, or to a position in that class, a person who has not passed the prescribed examination.”
Such a provision would leave it open to everybody, and not merely to lads who have enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, to enter our Public Service without first passing the prescribed examination. It goes a good deal farther than I am prepared to go. Then sub-section (2) of the proposed new section reads -
In making appointments under the provisions of this section, preference shall be given to persons who have served with satisfactory record in any Expeditionary Force raised under the provisions of the Defence Act 1903-1917.
That relates only to the granting of a preference. The Bill, I contend, if passed in its present form, will throw open to anybody, without examination, entrance to the General Division of our Public Service, if the Commissioner deems that course desirable. I intend to move amendments to sub-section (2) of the proposed new section, which would have the effect of making it read -
The provisions of this section shall apply only to persons who have served, &c.
In the first place, I move -
That the words “In making appointments under “, line 13, be left out.
If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will accept such an amendment, the clause will then provide exactly - for what he wishes it to provide. With me, an educational test in regard to admission to the Public Service is a fundamental. I should be very sorry, if, in regard to entrance to the General Divi-. sion, we fell back upon the system of patronage rather than of merit. Of course, I have no hesitation whatever in removing any difficulties that may stand in the’ way of admission to the Service of those who have served at the Front. Quite a large number of these men will return to Australia and resume their normal occupations here. They will not wish to enter our Public Service. The result will be that in the course of a few years the proposed new section will automatically cease to operate. I know that some persons desire to abolish the educational test. Some time ago, the PostmasterGeneral himself declared his intention to disregard it. If the Government do not believe in an educational examination, they ought to say so, frankly; but they ought not to ask Parliament, behind a boy who has enlisted in the Australian Imperial. Force, to discard it. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council will agree to my amendment, I am prepared to go farther than do the Government in the first portion of the proposed new section. Why should not a young lad who has been to the Front enter the Clerical Division of our Public Service if he has the ability to satisfactorily discharge the duties of his office? He may have been to the Front, and he may be well qualified to enter the
Clerical Division of our Public Service. But, because be has been away for several years, he might not be in a position to pass an examination. I do not see why’ the same provisions should not also be applied in the Clerical Division. The Minister feels strongly that the concession should be granted, and that it is only fair to youths who have missed the opportunity for examination, because they were away fighting or were in camp. At that no one can cavil. If my amendment . is not accepted, the trouble will be that any one who has stayed, at home nursing his feet may secure the same concession.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria- Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [3.48]. - In my references to this matter there was no intention to suppress the full meaning of the clause. Its dominating feature, however, is to permit returned soldiers who, by their .absence at- the Prout, have been placed under a disability to enter the Service without undergoing examination. There can be no exception to that principle. When a position is advertised in the General Service, it is set out that preference is to be given. But, of course, where there are not enough returned men available to take all the openings offered, the positions must still be filled. Therefore, the Public Service Commissioner may, by recommendation to the Governor-General, suspend the necessity for examination in certain cases. That suspension is limited, in the first place, to the .General Division. Let us suppose the Commissioner requires halfadozen labourers. As the Act stands,” he must advertise, and applicants must be given an examination. Clause 3 gives the Governor-General power to exempt successful applicants in certain cases, also, from insurance. A man, who is given employment as a labourer, may be so old that insurance charges would be excessive. It is desired, therefore, to exempt such an individual from what would be an unfair tax, in the form of insurance. Suppose a driver of a steam launch were required, and that it was necessary that he should undergo examination . It would be a farce to test him in the ordinary way. What such a man would require would be a practical test. He would need to be put on a launch and “ tried out “ as to his practical knowledge and experience. The Commissioner would judge that man upon his certificates as an engine-driver.. -
– And would make that his examination.
– That is so. “ The intention now is to permit the Commissioner to accept such an examination as sufficient.
– What of the case of a line repairer ? How about a man engaged in digging post-holes?
Senator RUSSELL.Such a person would be required to undergo an examination of a practical nature, because there is an art in’ digging a post-hole and erecting the pole. There is an art also in the trimming of posts and the fixing of wires. But in the case of a watchman or an office cleaner, surely the Commissioner should not be required to make a man go down on his knees and scrub the floor before giving him a job. It would be a farce. It is not the intention, however, to abolish examinations in any case where a test of a practical nature would reveal the degree of skill or merit of the applicant.
– How does the clause affect the Clerical Division?
– That branch is not affected at all. The scope of the clause is limited to the Non-Professional and Non-Clerical Divisions.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South
Australia) [3.54]. - I am glad that Senator Thomas has called attention to this point, because I had -also made :a note, and had intended to move an amendment to insert at the end of proposed new section 34d a proviso to the effect that “such persons shall have served with a satisfactory record in any Expeditionary Force raised under the provisions of the Defence Act 1903.” Honorable senators will all agree that the exemption proposed should be confined to men who have been on active service. It is now clear, however, that whatever may be the intention of the Government, this clause will leave it entirely open for them to do away with examinations. Though we may have unbounded faith in the present Government, they will not last for ever. We should legislate against the possibilities of a different system of administration. I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Minister,- nor am I prepared to concede such unlimited power to the Government.
– I welcome this clause and accept the explanation of the Minister that the practical test will still be applied wherever it may be required. Examinations in certain cases, of course, are farcical. As secretary of my union, I have been called upon to send men to fill jobs under the Government. They have had to pass a medical test. In one case the applicant was a fine, big, bulky athlete; he was turned down, while a weakling of 10 stone or less was . taken on. The man who had the. capacity to do the work’ was rejected on account of a small defect which could not have interfered with his working powers.
.- My sentiments are in accord with those of Senator McDougall. Examinations have often proved an absolute farce. Some time ago I brought before the Senate the case of two men, one of whom had had six years’ and the other four years’ service in the telegraph and telephone branch of the Postal Department. Those men could not have been replaced by any other workmen in the State. But, because they failed somewhat in an educational test, they were turned down, although on the practical side they had scored 100 per cent. of marks.
– They must have put the ladder up against the post in an inartistic manner.
– Such experiences suggest to me that the examination test is a farce. I know of another young man who was at work in the Postal service. He was not as industrious as he might have been, but he was exceptionally smart and was well educated. The other employees in the same office admitted, without hesitation, that he could beat them all. On one occasion the postmaster at that centre was the examiner, and there was not a single candidate who could have passed a test under that individual. He could not pronounce a word correctly, and I am not sure that he was not partly intoxicated when making the examination.
Among the fifty or sixty who were undergoing the test hot one had a hope of succeeding, because of the postmaster so badly mispronouncing his words “in the dictation examination. I know of another, young fellow who gained almost the maximum of marks in the writing test and in arithmetic; but in the dictation examinanation, a piece was read which introduced geographical terms that - this candidate had never heard before. He misspelt a word or two. Although he gained 200 marks more than most of those who passed the examination, he failed. We should insist upon common-sense methods in examinations for the Postal service. It is a farce if a man can do his work efficiently, but fails in an examination because he cannot spell some word of which, perhaps, he has never heard before. We ought to get back to common sense in examinations of candidates.
– I have here a statement by the Public Service Commissioner, which I think will prove an ample explanation of the intention of the clause. The Commissioner states -
Unless a person is- eligible for appointment to the Public Service under sections 33 to 34c, i.e., by virtue of service in a public railway or other service of a State or a Commonwealth Territory, he cannot be appointed unless he passes a competitive examination.
Where there is no person so eligible available it is- necessary to arrange a competitive examination.
This course is justified where a large number of positions are filled, such as lineman, mechanic,&c., and which call for the possession of special skill,
The test for mechanics will still be made - but there are other positions, such as labourer, office-cleaner, searcher, and watchman, &c, in which Vacancies only occur at long intervals.
It would, of course, be absurd to require applicants, say, for the position of officecleaner, to attend for the purpose of an examination, and be required to scrub a room.
– Is that done now ?
– No, it is not.
– But in the Minister’s second-reading speech he said these provisions were required for members of the Australian Imperial Force, and now they are being widened.
– It has never been the usual practice for a Minister, in his second-reading speech, to enter into the details of clauses, and I did not do so.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - You told the Senate that this provision would apply to soldiers only.
– I want to correct any false impression that may have been created. It is not the practice now to require examinations of applicants for certain positions, because . the Public Service Commissioner takes a commonsense view of the Act, although in omitting to require examinations in respect of these applicants, he is breaking the law, and I do not think he should be placed in that position. Continuing, he states -
If examinations are held for these positions, and only one or two appointments are made within the eighteen months during which candidates are eligible for appointment, there is complaint by the unappointed successful candidates that they wasted time and money in undergoing the test and paying the entrance fee.
That often happens. I have known of vacancies occurring for certain positions for which, perhaps, between 200 and 300 persons have applied and have attended for examination, although there was a certainty that about 90 per cent. of them would not be successful. It is a serious matter for working men to be required by the Act to lodge 7s. 6d. as an application fee and then attend for examination,. losing half a day, or a day, over the process, when it is not necessary. Though this provision might be all right in the case of a position carrying a salary of£500 a year and where there is something at stake. The Commissioner adds -
In a skilled position such as mechanic and lineman, it is a fairly easy matter to arrange appropriate practical tests, and judge the relative merits of the candidates. But in an unskilled position such as labourer or officecleaner, it is not practicable to do so, because the nature of the work will not admit of it. Even in some skilled positions, practical tests cannot be arranged. For example, if an appointment is required as coxswain or enginedriver on a steam launch, it would be necessary to test the candidates by securing a steam launch for a lengthy period, and ask the candidates to perform the actual work of the position. That would be impracticable, and should be unnecessary, as the Commissioner could satisfy himself by evidence such as certificates issued by the Marine Board of the efficiency of the applicants, and make a suitable selection.
I ask honorable senators not to be led away with the suggestion that it is the intention of the Government to abolish this system of examination. That is not the intention of the Government or the Public Service Commissioner at all. I trust, therefore, that the amendment will not be accepted.
– I am rather pleased that the Minister made this explanation; but I ask honorable senators to read what he said when introducing the Bill.
– I was not dealing with this particular clause.
– Yes. The Minister, referring to this matter, said -
The first amendment of importance is to enable those who have been on active service in the Australian Imperial Force to enter the Public Service without being required to go through the formality of examination. We should all be sympathetic with such a prevision, although there may be difficulties in administering the principle fairly.
Who objects to that?
– Is there anything wrong in that statement?
– No, it is all right so far as it goes. The Minister added -
But it is only right that a man who has been on active service should not be denied the opportunity to enter the Public Service because he has been abroad in the defence of his ‘country during a period when he might have stayed at home and prepared himself to pass the ordinary examination. And, even though the service for a little while might not be carried on with quite as much competency as ordinarily, we would all, no doubt, be prepared to accept that situation in view of the circumstances.
Every member of the Senate is in favour of that. The Minister said this clause of the Billwas for the purpose of allowing persons who had been connected with the Australian Imperial Force to enter the Public Service without the necessary examination, and I repeat that we are all agreed upon that. But now he goes further. This clause, which, by the way, is supported by Senators McDougall and
Guy, conveys the impression that it is the intention of the Government to do away withexaminations. I am strongly in favour of some examination, but I realize that it would be an absurdity to put applicants for the position of telephone linesman through a Latin or Greek test. The examination should be of a practical nature to determine the competency of the applicant. If the Minister says that there are some other Departments for which an educational test is not required, he should definitely and clearly indicate all the circumstances so that the situation may be dealt with. In my judgment, an educational test is a fundamental qualification for entrance to the Public Service. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) has told us that he is against examinations, and I understand the employees of the Postal Department number between 12,000 and 15,000. The PostmasterGeneral has also stated that there are a number of incompetent persons in his Department, and that it is his intention to shift them. I think it probable that he finds this rather difficult because of the operation of the Public Service Act. I do not know to whom the PostmasterGeneral refers when he speaks of incompetent employees, but I have not the slightest doubt that it will be found upon inquiry that in every single instance persons charged with incompetency are those who entered the Service without examination.
Some members of this Parliament have had no experience in a State Parliament, and no knowledge of a Public Servicenot under the control of a Public Service Commissioner. In common with Senator Millen and other honorable senators, I have, as a member of a State Parliament, had experience of a Public Service that wasnot under a Commissioner. . . From that experience I look with perfect horror upon the establishment of a Public Service, the entrance to which would not be by examination.
– I agree with the honorable senator on that point.
– Then why does not the Minister accept my amendment, which would limit the entrance to the Commonwealth Public Service without examination to members of the Australian Imperial Force? In view of what the honorable senator has stated I shall ask leave to withdraw my amendment in’ order to move for the insertion of the word “Clerical” before the words “and General” in sub-section 1 of the proposed new section. If this is to be limited to members of the Australian Imperial Force, as I think it should, I do not see why a young fellow who has been to the Front, and is competent to write a letter, should not have the same opportunity to enter the Clerical Division of the Public Service as is given to a member of the Australian Imperial Force, who can put up a telegraph post, to enter the General Division of the Service. I shall test the sincerity of the Government on the subject of preference to members of the Australian Imperial Force for entrance into the Public Service by proposing an amendment which will secure to them this preference in respect of appointments to the Clerical Division without examination as well as to the General Division. If the Minister desires that there should be some provision to enable the Government to deal with people who are required to clean offices., I have no objection to that. No one asks for an educational test for such employment.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - But we should not open up the whole Service for that purpose.
– Decidedly we should not. I have on several occasions directed attention to the fact that for years now we have had an Acting Public Service Commissioner, when we should have had a permanent appointment to that office. I say this, though I have a high opinion of Mr. Edwards, who is the Acting Public Service Commissioner. The Government propose to give the Acting Public Service Commissioner the power to say that certain persons may be admitted to the Public Service without examination, but that returned soldiers are to receive preference. A returned soldier may be turned down because he is unable to pass the medical test. For permanent appointments I am in favour of a medical test, even in the case of returned soldiers. I think that returned soldiers who cannot pass a medical test should be invited to take advantage of our repatriation legislation.
– If a returned soldier had only one eye the honorable senator says that he should not get into the Service.
– I do not say anything of the kind. I would leave his case to the doctor. Honorable senators should remember that we are dealing with permanent appointments, and if an unhealthy person is appointed to a permanent position he may be constantly on sick leave at great expense to the Department.
– And his absence throws more work upon other officers.
– That is so. Senators Guy and McDougall should support my proposal to apply the provision proposed for the benefit of returned soldiers to the Clerical as well as to the General Division. Senator McDougall, if Ee is against examinations-
– I am not against examinations. I am only against examinations which do not apply to the positions which have to be filled.
– That is the fault of the examiner. The man who suggests that a man required to put up telegraph posts should possess a knowledge of Greek, Latin, and French ought, to have his bumps read. Personally, I should prefer that, as the years go by, our educational examinations should become more difficult. In view of our educational’ systems we can afford to raise the educational standard of our Public Service. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment, with a view to moving an amendment in an earlier part of the clause.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, (by Senator Thomas) proposed
That in line 8, before the word “ General,” the words “ Clerical and “ be inserted.
– I am not quite clear in my mind as to whether Senator Thomas is anxious to maintain a high standard of educational qualification in the Public Service. I do not see the advantage of an educational examination for the employment of a charwoman. I do not know whether the honorable senator thinks that a gardener should be an accountant as well as a man able to dig drains. The honorable senator’s present amendment seems to be a flat contradiction of the attitude which he first assumed, unless, he makes a clear charge that the Governments proposal will introduce political patronage.
– I want to limit the proposal to members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– I may inform the honorable senator that special provisions already exist in connexion with the appointment of members of the Australian Imperial Force to the Clerical Division. We already do give absolute preference to returned soldiers for employment in that division, with a modified examination applicable only to them. To expect them to undergo the ordinary examination Would be to destroy the spirit of the rule of preference to returned soldiers.
– It has done so very largely.
– No, the examination has been modified in the case of returned soldiers. The question really is whether a returned soldier is a fair average clerk, and if he is he should be given preference in appointment to the Public Service. That has been already provided for.
– Have any of these modified’ examinations been held?
– There have been many special examinations held of members of the Australian Imperial Force. It is not reasonable to expect them to have an up-to-date knowledge of subjects with which one loses touch after being a few years away from school, and so members of the Australian Imperial Force’ are submitted to a simplified educational test. I am sure that I could make a. pledge on behalf of the Government, and of the whole of the people of Australia, that if the examination which they are required to pass were of so high a standard that an ordinary clerk who has been on active service could not pass it, it would be simplified.
– That is our object.
– The Government are. willing to co-operate with the honorable senator to secure compliance with the absolute spirit of the rule of preference to returned soldiers to give those men the opportunity to obtain permanent employment, which, by reason of their service to the country, they deserve. In view of the special provision already made for a simplified examination for members of the Australian Imperial Force, I hope that Senator Thomas will not press his amendment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [4.26]. - Honorable senators must realize that the members of the Public Service have very important functions to perform, and no reasonable man with a sense of responsibility would suggest anything that would be detrimental to the Service. It seems to me that the pro.posal in this Bill relating to members of the Australian Imperial Force should “ aPply> not only to the General, but also to the Clerical and Professional Divisions. Other things being equal, a returned soldier capable of carrying out the duties of an officer in either of these divisions should be given preference. Instances have been brought under my notice of men temporarily employed in the Clerical, and also in the Professional Division, who, after performing the duties of their office for six or twelve months, have failed to receive a permanent appointment because of the examinations and other difficulties in their way. If a returned soldier has carried out the duties of an office as a temporary employee for six months or a longer period, that should surely be regarded as proof that be is qualified for a permanent appointment to .such a position. The country is justified in making some concession to the men who have served it so well at the Front. If,, with due regard to the efficiency of the Service, we can in this way show our gratitude to these men for the services they have rendered, I say that we will be fully justified in appointing them to permanent positions regardless of examinations, and provided only that they can perform the duties required of them. I strongly support the amendment.
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [4.29]. - I support the amendment on the ground that it is desirable that we should give the. widest possible opportunity to the boys who have been fighting for us at the Front to secure permanent employment in the Public Service if they so desire. We cannot put a man accustomed to labouring work or deficient in education in a clerical position; but it is not necessary that a man appointed to such a position .should have a knowledge of a foreign language.’ Senator McDougall and Senator Guy regard the system of examination as not altogether satisfactory, but it is the most satisfactory that has been devised, and is in existence in every Civil Service in the Commonwealth and the British Empire. While I admit that it is not perfect, it is our principal safeguard against nepotism and favoritism. That is why it was introduced. The Commissioner cannot have a personal knowledge of all those under him, and therefore must depend on the recommendations of his subordinates. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent any of them recommending some thirty-first cousin for preferment to a position to which some one else is better entitled. The Minister is full of good intentions, but we should legislate on definite lines. Only to-day I had an instance of how regulations are disregarded. I asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) whether it was the practice in the Defence Department to call for. applications for positions, and whether a certain position had been filled without applications being called. The Minister said, in answer to the first question, “ Yes’, it is the practice,” and then coolly told me that that particular position had been filled by the appointment of the next senior man, without applications being called for.
– When they want bo promote a non-commissioned officer to commissioned rank, they do not call for applications. They give the position to the senior man.
-Colonel O’LOGHLIN. - I. was speaking of the Ordnance Branch of the Defence Department, and not of the Forces.
– Does that position come under the Public Service Com- . missioner ?
– I am not prepared to say. The man selected may be competent, but there may be others, senior to him, who are quite as competent, but who had no opportunity to apply. If- we leave the Act open, as this Bill proposes, there will be no obligation to have an examination for any position.
– Are you in favour of leaving it open to the returned soldier?
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN.Yes; I am supporting Senator Thomas’ proposal to declare the Clerical Division open as well, although I recognise that some form of examination is necessary, but not the one now applied, requiring a high literary knowledge which it is very desirable for a cultured man to possess, but is not absolutely necessary for the clerical work usually required in the lower branches of the Service. The- provision before us is very dangerous, and I have not been at all satisfied by the explanation of the Minister. I shall therefore support both of Senator Thomas’ amendments.
– I am in thorough sympathy with the effort to give the returned soldier every opportunity to fill any position that he is capable of filling; but Senator Thomas will agree with me that if you include in a team, say of postal sorters, a man who has no knowledge of geography, his work must be gone over again,
– That is in the General Division.
– It applies right through. We must, therefore, not expect to bring about the millennium by doing away with the examination. I would much rather give the returned soldier every opportunity to enter and remain in the Service until he has acquired the necessary knowledge. I would then require from him a full satisfaction of the test of examination, just as I would of anybody else. We do not want tomake the Public Service weaker simply through our desire to be sympathetic. We must not only show sympathy to themen who are coming back, but we must also make our Public Service strong. All Senator Thomas will achieve by hisamendment is to make a further amendment necessary in the Public Service Act. I would even allow the candidate from theAustralian Imperial Force to enter the Service, and postpone the examination for him for twelve or eighteen months.
– We do not suggest that the man from the Australian Imperial Force should join simply because he asks to join. He can join only after he has been passed by the Public Service Commissioner.
– The Public Service Commissioner must require a certain knowledge on the part of the applicant. It simply means starting further back, and we cannot do it in this Bill. The honorable senator practically gives these men the entry to the Service, and then the Commissioner says, “ I cannot accept them, because I am bound by certain rules.”
– Are you in favour of the Bill as it stands?
– No; but all Senator Thomas’ amendment will do will be to take down the first slip-panel, without allowing these men to enter the real enclosure.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with Senator Thomas and those who are anxious to make it easier for the returned soldier to get into any branch of the Federal Public Service where there is a vacancy and for which the applicant is suitable, but I foresee great danger in opening the doors of both branches of the Service in the way this amendment would open them. The examinations for the Clerical and General Divisions have been in the past the greatest safeguard that we have had against the use of political, social, or any other kind of influence in securing appointments to the Service. The result of that method of entry into the Service has been that a certain* privileged section has grown up, but I do not see how we can avoid it in the present circumstances. Of the two evils, it is better to have that privileged section than to throw open the door to conscious or unconscious influence by the Public Service’ Commissioner. Ministries may change, and the Public Service Commissioner may change, so that we have to look to the possibilities of the future. Keen and anxious as I am to do everything possible for the returned soldier, we must guard against filling the Public Service with a large proportion of men who may not be competent.
– Do you. favour the Bill as it stands, because the Bill allows tha>t?
– That is not correct.
– I am not altogether in favour of all the amendments moved or foreshadowed by Senator Thomas. During the next few years a very large number of returned soldiers will want to get into the Service. Senator Thomas will remember that in years gone by the Service was not composed of men as competent as those who are in it to-day.
– Generally speaking, that is so.
– Of course, there are exceptions; but the younger generation who have got into the Service have raised its tone, and are better qualified for their duties. If for sentimental reasons we open the door of the Service to the returned soldier, there is a danger that by this means we may get men who are not quite competent, because of their lack of early training, for the positions they would be called on to fill.
– The Bill opens the General Division to returned soldiers and to anybody else.
– Yes ; but later on we hope to improve proposed new sub-section 2 in an even better direction than Senator Thomas suggests. If we open the door of the General Division to the returned soldier, we must, to be consistent, also throw open the door of the Clerical Division to him, although I presume he must have certain qualifications.
Although I am rather doubtful of the consequences, I intend to support Senator Thomas in his amendment to proposed new sub-section 1.
– I think that this question might very well be considered from the stand-point of what is meant by an examination. In my opinion the matter hinges upon the class of examination that is applied to any candidate. When the Postal Commission was conducting its inquiry into the Post and Telegraph Department it came across no end of ridiculous examinations, to which common labourers were subjected when they were seeking employment in that Department. They were obliged to undergo a difficult educational examination, notwithstanding that the duties which they were required to perform did not partake in the slightest degree of a clerical nature. Yet they were compelled to submit to most difficult, and even “ tricky “ examinations. I was under the impression that this silly practice had been abandoned years ago, and I was indeed surprised to learn that we have before us to-day a measure relating to it. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to prescribe an examination for admission to the Clerical Division which would be suitable to all Departments of the Service. The different Departments perform very different classes of .work, so that, whilst a man might make a very suitable clerk in the Postal Department, he might be utterly unfitted to fill a clerical position in the Attorney-General’s Department or the Department of Trade and Customs. Consequently any examination which applicants may be required to undergo should be founded upon the class of duties that they are to be required to perform. The same remark is also applicable to the Professional Division. But I am very strongly opposed to dispensing with competitive examinations for admission to our Public Service. The moment we adopt that course we shall be acting unwisely. At the same time, for the position of a watchman, a labourer, Or cleaner, it is ridiculous to prescribe any educational examination whatever.
– The most valuable qualification of a watchman is honesty.
How can we examine an applicant in regard to his honesty?’
– One would have to form an opinion of his honesty from his general character. So many activities are carried on under the Public Service Commissioner that unless different examinations are prescribed for different branches of the Service, all sorts of inconsistencies will arise. In the Weather Bureau, for example, the work performed by the officersis utterly different from that which is performed by officers in any other Department. I do not consider that the work required to be done by the officials of the Postal Department is of a very high quality.
– The work required of the Accounts section is of a high quality.
– But far more men are employed in the correspondence and records branches, where the work required of them is not of a very high class. 1 admit that in some of the other Departments, properly educated and trained officers are indispensable. For returned soldiers who desireto enter the General Division of our Public Service we cannot make the conditions too easy. The nature of the work required of officers in that division is not difficult, and so long as we do not interfere with the Clerical Division, I think we may safely accept the proposal of the Government.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved m the negative.
– I move -
That the words “ In making appointments under,” line 13, be left out.
My idea is that we should limit entrance to the General Division of our Public Service without examination to the members of the Australian Imperial Force. In moving the second reading of the Bill the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) stated that that was the object which it was designed to accomplish. Personally, I am sorry that the Committee has declined to extend this concession to our soldiers, to admission to the Clerical Division of our Public Service. 1 strongly favour the retention of the system of entrance by examination to the Public Service. Entrance should be upon merit every time. But I am prepared, so far as members of the Australian Imperial Force are concerned, to alter the present method, first out of gratitude to our men who have fought, and, secondly, because within a few years the concession will have (become automatically a dead letter. As the position stands, however, the Commissioner may dispense in any case with an examination. It is only fair to the Government to admit that provision has been made for preference to returned soldiers. My amendment is intended solely to limit that preference - that is to say, the concession of dispensing with examinations - to returned soldiers-
– It is not the intention of the Public Service Commissioner, or of the Government, to abolish any examination intended to determine the merits of applicants.
– The Public Service Commissioner will have to administer the Act.
– And the responsibility is upon him. He is quite independent of Ministerial control in that regard.
– Then the Government cannot answer for him.
– The Public Service Commissioner is independent in regard to appointments. But is it worth while to compel an engine-driver, for example, to undergo an examination when he already possesses a certificate which indicates his competency ?
– The possession of a certificate would be regarded as equivalent to an examination.
– The Bill does not stipulate that.
– That holds good under the Act itself.
– The Act compels candidates for positions to present themselves for competitive examinations. The Commissioner should be relieved of the necessity of putting an applicant for a watchman’s job under examination. In referring to this clause in my second-reading remarks, I dealt with the general principle of preference to soldiers. There was no intention on my part to suppress anything, and I ask Senator Thomas to accept, that explanation. I object to the. repeated taunt that I have sought to suppress any feature of this amending Bill. If an advertisement were inserted for the. filling of. a vacancy on the list of Customs watchmen, the chief qualifications of an applicant would be honesty, reliability, and sobriety. Probably there would be 200 applicants for such a vacancy in Melbourne to-day. They would be compelled, under the Act as it stands, to furnish a. deposit, and they would have to lose time in undergoing an examination. The Commissioner would want only a man who could be trusted. All but one of the 200 applicants would have to go away disappointed.
– An examination is not held for one particular individual. There is always a batch waiting.
– The position would be the same. What kind of an examination can be held in the matter of appointing a watchman? If the proposal now before the Committee is accepted, the procedure will be that preference will be absolute so long as there is one suitable soldier available. In the event of there being no soldier available) ordinary civilians will be eligible. Under this clause, also, exemption is proposed, both with regard to soldiers and civilians, in the matter of compulsory insurance. Many men who apply for such positions as that of watchman are of an advanced age. To compel an old man to takeout an insurance policy would be penalizing; him heavily. And, with respect to returned soldier applicants, it might Be that, on account of injuries received during the war, the rates of insurance would be exceptionally heavy. It would not be right to compulsorily impose such penalties.
.- I am not clear with regard to the. statement of the Minister that, until the list of applicants was exhausted, preference would be given to returned soldiers. If there were 100 applicants waiting, and an advertisement were inserted for twenty watchmen, I take it that those positions would be filled by suitable returned soldiers, whose names were listed. That might exhaust the number of returned men just then awaiting employment. Soon afterwards, however, another advertisement might call for more men. There would be numbers of returned soldiers looking for. jobs, but their claims would not be priorto those of civilians having their names on the list, who had been overlooked when the original twenty watchmen were appointed. I want to knowwhether those returned soldiers would have to wait until the whole of the civilians left upon the list had been absorbed.
– Absolute preference will be given every time to returned soldiers.
– Then, why will not the Minister accept Senator Thomas! amendment? I intendto support it.
– I do not quite agree with the Minister when he states that absolute preference will be given to returned soldiers until the whole of such applicants: have been placed. The clause provides for a special set of conditions in relation to a special type of applicant. There is nothing to prevent the Commissioner from calling for applications in the ordinary way and filling vacancies from among persons who have passed the requisite examination. The clause specifically provides that returned members ofthe Australian Imperial Force may enter a certain division ofthe Public Service without undergoing an examination. It does not say that no other person shall receive appointment. If Senator Thomas’ amendment were incorporated, it would then be quite clear that the provision would apply to returned soldiers only; but that, at the same time, the hands of theCommissioner would not be tied so far as other persons were concerned. It is not likely that returned soldiers will be put into the Public Service in a haphazard manner. They must approach, to some extent, the standard required of candidates for the Public Service. It would be unthinkable if a returned soldier, without qualifications of any kind, were appointed to a vacancy in the Service ‘merely because he was a returned soldier. The clause will open the door of the Public Service to returned soldiers so far as manual labour is concerned, but entrance into the other section of the Public Service will not be so easy. -I hope the Committee will agree to the amendment, because I should regret to think that we are throwing open any section of the Public Service to the general public without -examination, unless, of course, we were prepared to abolish the system of examinationsaltogether.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [5.17]. -I think there issome misunderstanding. I agree entirely with all that has been said by SenatorNewland, but we must remember that the clause will affect,notonly the masculine section of the community, butthe feminine also. When vacancies are available for women we give preference to widows and close relatives of members of the Australian Imperial Force, and as the Act stands at present, if they wish to become permanent employees, they are required -to undergo some examination. There should be a generous interpretation of qualifications so far as the Australian Imperial Force applications are concerned. A man on his return might be a bit nervy as a result of war experiences; and allowance should ‘be made for his condition in order that he may be able to settle down.
– Will this clause cover members of the Naval Forces ?
– What examination does the law require?
– A competitive examination.
– Who prescibes it?
– The Public Service Commissioner.
– And . he could prescribe any examination he thought fit?
– In the case of vacancies for women, I take it, the test would be those who . have suffered most in the war.
Question - That the words proposed to be . left out be left out (Senator Thomas’ amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - “Section seventy-two of the principal ‘Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3) to (6) inclusive and inserting in -their stead the following sub-sections: - “ (5) The Minister of a Department or the Permanent Head or Chief Officer thereof may require the Department or any part thereof to be kept open in the public interest for the whole or any portion of a holiday observed in pursuance of any of the preceding sub-sections; and may require the attendance and services of any officer of the Department during that holiday; but in that case that officer shall be granted an amount equal to a day’s salary if a full day’s attendance has been required and a proportionate amount if less than a full day’s attendance has been required. “ (7) The Regulations may prescribe -
– The clause, as it stands at present, provides that if any officer is brought in to work for halfanhour or an hour on a public holiday he shall be paid only a proportionate amount of his day’s salary. Since I spoke on the second reading I have had a communication from a number of Public Service officers, who desire a clause to be put in to the effect that they shall receive not less than a full day’s pay in such circumstances. I do not agree with that, but I believe that if a man is brought in to work on a public holiday he should receive not less than one half day’s pay, and if he is working for more than half-a-day he should receive a proportionate amount over and above the half-day’s pay provided.
– I should like the Minister to explain if, in connexion with this clause, the Arbitration Act willhave come into force. Suppose a person is working on a public holiday, must he be paid in cash, or take time off?
– The minimum payment for duty performed by any officer on a holiday may be provided by regulation. The honorable senator’s suggestion might operate in an undesirable manner. A telegraph messenger boy, for instance, might, on account of a rush of business on a holiday, be required to work for half-a-day, and if he were paid according to the terms of the amendment, he might get only 2d., 4d., or 8d., which would be quite ridiculous. If his holiday is broken into he should get at least 3s. or 4s. On the other hand, it would be equally unfair, if an officer in the Professional Division, drawing up to £800 or £900 a year, received as a minimum half a day’s salary if he were required to work an hour or two on a holiday. It would be ridiculous to propose that a man in receipt of such salary should get half a day’s pay for a few minutes’ service. The purpose of subclause 7 of this clause is to fix a regulated scale which will enable us to be. generous to the lower-paid officers called upon to work on holidays.
– My proposal in no way affects the minimum which may be provided for under sub-clause 7. What I suggest would be fair to every officer in the Service. Under the Government proposal, if a man is brought back on a holiday for. only an hour, he will be paid for only an hour, and I wish to make it quite clear that if an officer is brought back on a holiday at all he shall receive not less than half a day’s pay. The Service organizations who have circularized honorable senators on this subject ask for a full day’s pay in such cases, but I am not prepared to go so far as that. I move -
That the following words be added to subclause (5) : - “Provided that no proportionate payment shall be less than one half day’s pay.”
– Some years ago, before the application of Arbitration Court awards to the Public Service, officers received all holidays gazetted by Federal or State Governments. I find from one report on the Post and Telegraph Department that in Queensland alone, during the year 1910, in addition to the statutory holidays provided under the Commonwealth Public Service Act, as many as 374½ special holidays were proclaimed. Holidays are proclaimed in various parts of a State in connexion with shows, the opening of railways, the holding of carnivals,and so on, and in such cases a postal official, if employed on the holiday, was entitled to a day off in lieu of the holiday. In December last, in accordance with the rule, what is known as Separation Day being proclaimed a holiday in Queensland, postal officials got their holiday, and if they worked on that day were entitled to a day off instead. I should like to know from the Minister in charge of the Bill whether, now that the Arbitration Act is applied to the Public Service, officers of our Seryice are entitled to a day off in lieu of holidays on which they work?
– There are eight holidays in the year which are common to the State and Federal Public Services, and are provided for in awards of the Arbitration Court. The granting” in addition of all holidays proclaimed by a State Government was found to be objectionable, because it led in some of the States to officers receiving ten holidays in the year and in others receiving; sixteen holidays in . the year. It is felt that the number of holidays should be uniform for the Commonwealth Service throughout Australia, and so, in addition to the eight statutory holidays, it was decided to grant four extra days in each of the States. The Arbitration Court awards provide only for eight holidays.
– My information is that they do. The four extra holidays granted are known as concession holidays, and they may be taken in eight half holidays or in four full holidays. The intention of the Bill is that, in respect to the whole twelve holidays, officers shall be paid for service on those days in proportion to the time they work, subject to the minimum provided for in sub-clause 7, to protect the interests of the -lower-paid officers.
– If a half holiday were proclaimed in a particular locality to celebrate the opening of a railway, what would happen?
– That half holiday might be granted within the local district, but the holiday time granted must not exceed twelve holidays in all during the year. We are striving to secure a uniform practice in respect of holidays in all the States.
– Does the Arbitration Court award apply in the same way to a salaried officer as to a man paid by the day?
– Yes; it is uniform in its application. To every man coming under it - to a professional officer receiving as much as £800 a year as well as to a man in receipt of a wage of 8s. per. day.
– Senator McDougall’s amendment does not go far enough, and I want an opportunity to submit an amendment to sub-clause 5, to provide that the pay granted in respect of holidays shall be an amount equal to not less than halfaday’ s pay where half a day or less is worked ; a full day’s pay where more than half a day and less than a full day; ora full day, is worked ; and where more than, a full day is worked the extra time to be paid for.
-That amendment cannot be moved unless Senator McDougall temporarily withdraws the amendment he has- submitted.
– Will Senator McDougall temporarily withdraw his amendment to enable me to submit the one I have indicated.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator is not prepared to do so. His amendment does not go far enough, and does not meet the views of the public servants. It might be suggested that if an officer attends his office for an hour or two on a holiday he is adequately paid if he is paid a proportionate amount for his actual lost time. But it has to be remembered that if a man has to attend his office in the morning, his holiday is destroyed. In the circumstances, it is only fair that he should be paid at least half-a-day’s pay, and, in my opinion, he should receive a full day’s pay. What I propose would not interfere with the proposed power of the Public Service Commissioner to pass a regulation fixing a minimum pay for those who are not receiving a living wage.
It is not wise to leave too much to the Commissioner. It is much better to have in the Bill a provision which will give a clear and distinct understanding to every one concerned than to leave it to the Commissioner, who may put through one regulation to-day and a few days later send abroad another modifying or repealing the first. We have had too much of that sort of thing under the War Precautions Act, the Unlawful Associations Act, and the Defence Act, and no one knows where he is so far as those Statutes are concerned.
– On looking up the matter of holidays, I find from the report of the Federal Arbitration Court, in the cases off the Commonwealth Post andTelegraph Officers Association, the Federated Public Service Assistants Association, and the Australian Letter-carriers Association against the Public Service Commissioner and others, heard in 1916, that the following claimwas made : -
Membersof the claimant organizationshall be entitled to the following holidays, or any days prescribed under the ‘law ‘of any State to be robserved inlieu thereof -
The Eight Hours day has since been removed from that list. On the question of ‘holiday overtime, ‘the claim was -
For all time on duty on holidays members of the ‘claimant organization shall be ‘paid at the rate -of double time.
Thathas been made fairly general. The award contained the following: -
Asin other awards lately made,I do not propose to make, for any association, any award inconsistent with the declaration of Parliament last year as to holidays, after awards had -been made by thisCourt, I also think it onlyfair that all public servants ought to be treated alike, and thatth ere should be Federal holidays only : for Federal servants.
There was an appeal againstthe award, as toboth overtime and holidays. A definite pronouncementhas only latelybeen given as to what constitutes Sunday duty, in the following terms: -
If honorablesenators look at sub-clause ‘& of the clause now before the Committee, they will see that by this Bill the Government are endeavouring to contract themselves out of the obligations of an Arbitration Court award. We are hard upon the man who will not obey an arbitration award, and. should be equally severe on a Government that tries to contract itself out of it. There cannot be one code of honesty for the servant under the Government, and another for the Government over the servant. There was an appeal to the Court, in which the Government and the. employees were represented, and an award was given, but the decision has not been obeyed. Now the Government are trying to avoid paying the public servants what is due to them under that award. It is very dangerous forMinisters to ask Parliament to go behind the terms of an award, and to lift the Government above the necessity of observing it
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted (Senator McDOUGALL’S amendment) - put. The Committee- divided.
Ayes . . . . . . 20
Noes . . . . 7
Majority. . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [6.0]. - I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ (2) This section shall not commence until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and nineteen.”
That is to say, it will not touch the approaching Christmas holidays in any shape or form.
– I do not like this clause- at all. It is vicious in principle. I cannot use any word which will better describe it. It is an attempt to get entirely behind a decision of. the Arbitration Court, and by an Act of Parliament to set that decision at nought. I think that the Bill should be referred back to the Minister in order that he may bring its provisions into conformity with the decision of the Arbitration Court. If I am. compelled to vote upon the clause, I shall vote against it.
– In speaking upon the motion for the second reading of this measure I said it was a simple little measure which had a sting in its tail. This is where the sting comes in. As late as the 16th December last, Mr. Justice Powers, in the case of the Letter “Carriers Association versus the Public Service Commissioner, spoke of this measure as follows: -
It appears by the Bill that has been submitted to me that the Government intend to ask. Parliament to get rid of my adverse decision on the application made by it to this Court, and it will also have the effect, if passed, of preventing the organization from proceeding with an action at present pending in the High Court. *
This clause has had the effect of causing litigation - between an industrial union and the Commonwealth to be abandoned. It is an attempt to usurp the functions of the Arbitration Court, which has been duly constituted by Parliament. The learned Judge whom I have quoted held that the Letter- Carriers Association would be prevented from proceeding with the action it had instituted in the High Court if this Bill were carried, and that it would thus interfere with the course of justice. In my opinion, the words used by Mr. Justice Powers aptly describe the position. The Bill has been brought forward for one purpose, and one purpose only, namely, to strangle the award of the Arbitration Court, and to defeat the course of justice. I shall do my best to have this clause deleted, because it is designed to defeat the legal action which has been instituted by the Public Service Association.
.-This Bill deals principally with the question of holidays. The clause dealing with the question which has been touched upon by Senators Senior and McDougall, is clause 5, which I intend dropping from the Bill. The Arbitration Court will then be left unfettered to deal with the whole subject of holidays. Senator Senior has referred to cases in which holidays, in addition to the statutory holidays, are granted. Now, if a Commonwealth officer in New South Wales is entitled to thirteen holidays, obviously a Commonwealth officer in Tasmania ought to be entitled to the same number. Similarly, if an officer in Victoria receives twelve holidays during the year, an officer in New South Wales should get an- equal number. Under our Public Service Act, officers receive twelve holidays a year in addition to three weeks’ annual leave. That is to say, they get one full day out of every ten for complete rest, and if we include Sundays they get two full days out of every ten. Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales) [6.10].- This clause distinctly says -
This section shall have “effect notwithstanding . the provisions of any award made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and- Arbitration under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911.
That provision covers the whole of the section in the principal Act.
– Clause 4 of the Bill provides -
Section 72 of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections 3 to 6 inclusive, and inserting in their stead the following subsections : -
In my opinion, that provision refers to the whole section of the Act. It simply means that the Arbitration Court cannot make an award in connexion with holidays.
– It is a consolidation of awards to make the holidays uniform. Senator McDOUGALL. - I take it that it covers the whole of the section in the principal Act, and prevents the Arbitration Court from adjudicating, under the provisions of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911, on anything that is contained in sub-sections 3 to 6 of that Act.
– I am very jealous of the rights, privileges, and awards of the Arbitration Court. I owe my present position very largely to the fact that I am a believer in arbitration. I stand for arbitration in preference to direct action or any other method of remedying the wrongs of the people. For that reason I am anxious to avoid doing anything to interfere with an award of the Arbitration Court. I confess that I do not understand what will be the full consequences of clause 8 if it be carried. As far as I can gather, it appears to represent an attempt to get behind any award which may have been made in connexion with our Public Service. We must recollect that Arbitration Court awards are made only after very exhaustive inquiries. Our Public Service Association is given every opportunity of calmly and dispassionately putting its case, and so, also, is the particular Department which happens to be concerned in such litigation. Upon the evidence thus tendered an award is made. Yet, under this clause, we are asked to annul half-a-dozen awards which have been made by the Arbitration Court. At any rate, that is my reading of the position, and the remarks made by other, honorable senators fortify me in my belief. Therefore, I do not intend that my vote shall give the Government the power they seek. If we are going to do away with arbitration and Arbitration Courts, we should proceed in a straightforward manner.
– I do not understand the exception which is being taken to the provision under discussion. In the Education Act of this State the authorities do not necessarily leave it to regulations to set out the compulsory ages of attendance. Take also the Factories Acts of Victoria. There are certain trades in which employees arenot allowed to work more than a stipulated number of hours. There are provisions, also, for the observation of health and sanitation conditions. Regulations governing those matters are part of a comprehensive law. The Courts have dealt with the subject of holidays. The old Public Service Act did the same. In Tasmania, for example, there are ten Public Service holidays in a year. This measure provides for the recognition of twelve, which means an increase of two public holidays in that State.In Queensland, public servants are given sixteen paid holidays in a year. The Government cannot justify granting public servants in one State sixteen holidays on full pay and those in another State only ten. Therefore, an average has been arrived at. In only one State will there be a reduction in number, whereas in all the other States Federal public servants will secure an increase. It is a compromise in the interests of uniformity.
– There is no reference to double pay in the Bill or in my amendment.
– If a public servant’ is called in to work on the morning of a general holiday, then, according to Senator McDougall’s amendment, if he has worked two hours, he must be paid as though he had done four hours’ work. I believe in that principle, and I am sure that the Commissioner would be prepared to adopt it. Under Senator McDougall’s amendment, on a public holiday an em- . ployee will receive his ordinary wage for a day’s work. Then, if he is called in for duty, and works for two hours, he will be given a half-day’s pay.
– The Minister should say that an employee will receive extra pay for working on holidays; but he has said that these employees will receive double pay, and there is no reference to that.
– If a man receives 10s. on the basis of an ordinary working day, and he is paid for working on a holiday a sum equal to one day’s wage, that amounts to double pay.
– The provision regarding public holidays was brought forward by Mr. Justice Powers; the award was given on the 15th June, 1915. In South Australia there are nine general holidays throughout the year, and three others - making twelve in all. One of the nine public holidays, which is celebrated throughout the State, is Foundation Day, namely, 28th December. Another such is the King’s Accession Day. That, naturally, is also generally celebrated. There is the Prince of Wales’ Birthday, too. There are now outstanding five such general holidays, for which payment has been claimed and refused. Three of those days have reference to the year 1916, and the other two occurred in 1917. Several thousand pounds in wages are unpaid, and the Arbitration Court has said that that amount should be paid. It cannot be reasoned by the Minister that this clause will cover that situation. The clause is clearly defined - although I do not accuse the Government of so intending - to get behind the award of the Arbitration Court. I would like to see subclauses 5, 6,. and 7 left out.That would then throw the whole position back upon the awards of the Arbitration Court, both as to payments and direct holidays. We have not asked the Government for this Bill. This clause is calculated to override the decisions of the Arbitration Court with regard to payment of public servants who are called upon to work on public holidays.
– The Government are justified in limiting the number of holidays.
– I grant that. The Court has distinctly specified whatshall be public holidays. If I appeal to a Court to settle a dispute, I must abide by that settlement. It must not be forgotten that it was not the employees who desired to go into the Arbitration Court, but that they were practically forced there. The Public Service Commissioner told them to go to the Arbitration Court.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
– I desire to state, for the information of the Senate, and in reply to a question asked by Senator Earle today, that I have received an intimation from the Treasury that the money asked for for the payment of a bonus to the lower-paid servants of the Parliament is now available, and the bonus will be paid accordingly.
Report of Royal Commission : Purchase of Shaw Wireless Works
Debate resumed from 11th December (vide page 9027), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper be printed.
– I suppose. Mr. President, that I have to thank the Government for giving me this opportunity of speaking on this very important question. If any honorable senator thinks that I am going to offer any defence of myself, because my name happened to be mentioned in conversation in connexion with this business, he will be grievously disappointed. I am perfectly satisfied, from the manner in which my name has been mentioned, that my long career in the public life of this country will prove a sufficient safeguard against the breath of any scandal. But there is something very much more important than any breath of scandal as concerns me or any public men. We have to deal with the . report of the Commission. I venture to saythat that report is a most extraordinary one, not only as to the subject-matter, but as to the manner in which evidence was collected, and, what is worse than all, the bringing in of a finding absolutely against the weight of evidence,
In the course of my address I shall make frequent quotations from the evidence, and if I weary honorable senators I would like them to understand that since the report was placed in my hands I have been working on it for more than the customary eight hours a day, and yet I have not found time to read all the reports and all the exhibits brought before the Commission; and, . as I have not had time to digest them all, it is possible that my address will be more lengthy than otherwise would have been the case, because, in order to place the position before the Senate, I shall be compelled to give the facts, not in my own words, but by reference to exhibits, evidence, and statements made before the Commission..
Why am I called upon to speak?” I have saidthat this was a most extraordinary Commission, and I venture to say that I am addressing the Senate on the most extraordinary situation that hasever arisen with regard to Governments in this country. The Commission’s report is, in effect, a vote of censure on the first Hughes Administration absolutely, and it appears to me that no one is left to defend that Government but myself. Senator Pearce was good enough to-day to make an explanation concerning the conversation that took place between himself and Mr. Jensen. With regard to that conversation, all I want to say is that if Mr. Jensen is called upon to leave the Government because of the Commission’s report, so is Senator Pearce, so is Senator Russell, and so is Mr. Hughes, for the simple reason that the purchase of the Shaw Wireless Works was as much a business transaction of the Government as a business transaction carried out by Mr. Jensen.
But I am not here as Mr. Jensen’s defender. He may defend himself. I am here to-night as the ‘defender of the action of the Government in purchasingthe Shaw wireless plant, and never did I approach a question with as much misgiving of my own powers as I do on this occasion. I feel like a man who is passing through a horrid nightmare, seeing danger and frantically but vainly trying to raise an alarm, I would like honorable senators, if possible, to see the question as I see it, but I feel that my own powers are not sufficiently strong to make them realize the gravity of the situation.
What is it that I am called upon to do? Let me begin at the beginning. The Commission was appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General, as representative of His Majesty the King. I wish to put the whole of the Commission on record, as follows: -
Commonwealth of Australia
George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India:
To our trusty and well beloved
William George McBeath (Chairman).
Frank A. Verco.
Know ye that We do, by these Our Letters Patent, issued in Our name by Our GovernorGeneral of Our Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of Our Federal Executive Council,and in pursuance pf the Constitution of Our said. Commonwealth, the Royal Commissions Act 1902-12, and all other powers him thereunto enabling, appoint you to be Commissioners to inquire in toand report upon the following matters in connexion with the Departments of. Defence and Navy : -
And. we require you, with as. little delay as possible, to report to Our GovernorGeneral in and over Our said Commonwealth the result, of your inquiries into the matters intrusted to you by these Our Letters Patent:
In. testimony whereof. We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent and the seal of Our said Commonwealth to be thereunto affixed.
Witness OurRight Trusty and Well-beloved Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor.-General and. CommanderinChief of the Commonwealth of Australia, this second day of July, in the year of Our Lord One thousand nine hundred and seventeen, and in the eighth year of Our reign.
By His- Excellency’s Command,
Crime Minister’s Department, 20th February, 1918
Resignation of aroyal Commissioner.
Hi’s Excellency the Governor-General in Council has been pleased to accept the resignation of James Chalmers, Esquire, of his appointment as one of the Commissioners to inquire into and report upon certain matters in connexion with the Departments of Defence and Navy.
Appointment of a Royal Commissioner.
His Excellency the Governor-General in Council has appointed the Honorable Patrick Thomson Taylor to be a Member of the Commission appointed on the 2nd July, 1917, to inquire into and report upon certain matters in connexion with the Departments of Defence and Navy (vice James Chalmers, Esquire, resigned) .
I have read the Commission for the special purpose of reminding honorable senators what the Commissioners were asked to do, and I say that the manner in which, the evidence was taken is calculated to bring His Majesty’s Commission into disrepute and ridicule. They took evidence in a way absolutely abhorrent to our sense of British justice, and they reported absolutely contrary to the weight of evidence brought before them.. I have inquired, as far as my limited powers would enable me-, into the character of the Commission. I hold the Government responsible for their appointment. I can find nothing as regards the standing and character of the men about which I can complain, and I do not complain. But as. regards the manner in which the duty intrusted to them was discharged, I do complain, though. I cannot hold the Government responsible for that, unless they make themselves responsible by adopting the report.
What is their report?. I venture to say that the report has created in the minds of honorable senators, and in the minds of the general public, the impression that the Hughes Government purchased the Shaw wireless works for £55,000 when it might have been purchased for £25;000, the option held over it by Sir Rupert Clarke. My task tonight is to show, not from statements of my own, but from evidence given before the Commission, not only that £55,000 was a fair price, and this a good business transaction, but that in. making the purchase on those terms . the Government secured a real bargain. I realize, however, that greater ability than I possess would be required to dispel the impression which has been created in the minds of honorable senatorsand the general public that a huge price was paid for an inferior business concern. But I am going to tackle the task, and, as- I have already told honorable senators,. I shall bring no evidence to bear except facts which were in possession of the Commissioners when they arrived at their finding, as set out in the report laid on the table of the Senate.
The Government have taken drastic action with regard to this report, and I am entitled to assume that in arriving at their decision the Government assumed that the Commissioners found in accordance with the evidence. My effortis to show that the Commissioners took evidence in a way that was quite unwarranted, and brought in a verdict - because it is a verdict, whether they pretend it is or not - against the weight of evidence, and inflicted punishment on some people in this community. Now, let me take the question of the price. There was a volume of evidence before the Commission. Shall I be guessing too much if I say that not one member of the Ministry has read the exhibits placed before that body? Of course, Ministers may contradict me if they wish, but I venture to say that no man could go through those exhibits, in conjunction with the evidence, without coming to the same conclusion that I have come to. Why the Commission brought in a report contrary to the. evidence I do not know. That they have done so I shall endeavour to prove. I assert that there were before this Commission three men well qualified to give evidence as to the value of the plant. These are the three men : Mr.Ross, of the firm of Messrs. Boss and Rowe, accountants, of Sydney, than whom no man stands higher in his profession in the “opinion of the people of that city;Mr. Cornwell, manager of the factory, who, upon oath, before the Royal Commission, swore that he considered £63,000 a fair valuation, and not a false one; and Radio-Commander Cresswell, a man whose qualifications- are recited in the report. It is not necessary for me to read them, ashonorable senators may read them for themselves. These three men. had full knowledge of the value- of the Shaw Wireless Works, and it can be shown from the evidence that, notwithstanding all. the cross-examinations, they positively swore that the value of the works which we purchased for £55,000 was £63,000. I fail, therefore, to see why the press of this country should placard the purchase of these works as a public scandal. There is the evidence of one man who disapproves of Mr. Ross’ valuation, but honorable senators, if they look. up. the report, will find how he withered under examination.
I have read the powers of the Commission, and, perhaps, it will be in order now if I read the letters from Archibald Shaw putting forth the proposition to the Government. These are the letters -
The Honorable the Minister for the Navy. Sir, . . The works comprise stock, electrical casting and wireless manufacturing plant, and recently one of the most up-to-date shell factories has been added, at a cost of £4,500. . . . . My company has spent £100,000 in establishing these works, and I may also point out that the whole of the machinery is in first class order, carrying a full staff, and therefore I present the proposition to you as a complete and well-organized going concern. (Sgd.) Archibald Shaw.
Melbourne, 15th May, 1916
Shaw Wireless Limited,
Sydney, 9th June, 1916
The Hon. Minister for the Navy, Melbourne.
As requested, I have pleasure in forwarding inclosed a complete inventory of the equipment, tools, plant, workshops, land, houses, and stocks of the business of the Shaw Wireless Co. . . .
That was signed “ Archibald Shaw.”
I now come to an important matter. This is a matter upon which the public have formed their judgment of the price at which these works could be purchased and that at which they were purchased. I quote this from the Royal Commission’s report- .
Option of Purchase. - On the 12th May, 1918, Father Shaw saw Mr. Cotes, one of the directors of Shaw Wireless Limited, and informed him that he thought he had a good chance of selling the works to the Government, and asked for, and on the 15th May, 1916, obtained, an option of purchase of the company’s interests for £25,000.
Extended Option of Purchase. - On the 19th June, 1916 - as a result of a conversation with Engineer-Rear- Admiral Clarkson - the Minister wired to Father Shaw asking him whether he -
Had authority to dispose of the land, buildings, and plant on behalf of the company before the Department incurred the expense of making a valuation.
On the same day Father Shaw obtained from the company an extension of his option, and on the following day forwarded a copy of the extension to the Minister. The correspondence was placed on the official file, but no inquiry was made as to the amount of the option.
I cannot pass the option without commenting upon it. There are members of the Senate who believe that the amount stated in the option represented the whole value of the Shaw wireless plant.
SenatorE arle. - Surely not.
– I hope that honorable senators will permit me to put my own case. There are numbers of the outside public, thanks to the big headlining of the press, who absolutely believe that. One man said to me, “ How do you propose to defend buying for £55,000 a . plant that was worth £25,000.” I am going to show now what the option meant. Father Shaw had a mortgage of £25,000 with a certain bank. He had put, not only years of labour, but his hard earnings into this plant. Finding that he could not get another penny from the bank, he managed to get Sir Rupert Clarke to relieve him of his difficulties by giving his name to the bank, and, in return for an advance of £27,000, Sir Rupert Clarke received certain shares in the wireless works and a mortgage over a certain part of the property in the plant at the particular time when the deal was completed. Of course, I can only get my figures from the report of the Commission. When Father Shaw finally disposed of his plant, he paid Sir Rupert Clarke’s solicitors £25,000; he paid to Peters and Company, who had stores on which they had a hold in the plant, £7,000, and he paid to the London Bank £4,900 for the mortgage they held over the title deeds and houses which were included in the Clarke mortgage. All the mortgages against Father Shaw on the plant amounted, approximately to £37,000.
I am not going to talk about business men. Because I am a Labour man some persons may ask, “ What can a Labour man know about business?” I know this much about it, and it is that there are very few men in this Parliament or elsewhere who can get £37,000 from business people in this country unless they have a property worth at least £55,000. I can appeal to business men to say whether that is not a sound proposition. If a test of the value of the Shaw Wireless Works were required, it was already provided in the fact that the money lent upon it amounted to £37,000.
I am slowly clearing away the mists that have been created to obscure this business transaction. The extracts given in the report of Father Shaw’s business show that there were mortgages amounting to £37,000 over the property which we purchased. This property was valued as carefully as any property ever purchased by any one. Honorable senators can see the evidence given before the Royal Commission, and they will find that the Commissioners report that no valuation of the stores was made and that some £13,000 worth of obsolete stores were there. A most careful valuation of plant and stores was made by three persons, and after that valuation had been made they examined the stock-sheets and took stock of the whole property. Their stock-taking revealed the fact, and the evidence proves it, that the stocks were not of the value estimated, but exceeded it by some £500. There was a valuation of the stock. I will not say by Sydney’s most competent valuer, but by one of the most prominent and competent business men in Sydney, Mr. Ross. There was a valuation and estimate of the stock and plant by Mr. Cornwell, and there was a check of the valuation of Mr. Ross by a departmental officer, CommanderCresswell.
Let us see how it is possible to throw doubt on all those valuations. We might assume that they were not to be trusted. It is said that Mr. Ross had a conversation with Father Shaw before he valued the works. We might assume that Cresswell was not to be trusted, or that Cornwell was not to be trusted. We might assume that Mr. Thomas, the Chief Accountant, who assisted Commander Cresswell to make out his report, was not to be trusted. We might assume that the members of the Ministry who dealt with the matter were not to be trusted, and if we got so far, we might assume that this was a dishonest transaction. But have we reached the stage at which we can assume so much without evidence? The. press has assumed it. The Commissioners have assumed it, and the public, misinformed, have assumed it. But it is still quite contrary to the fact. I will read here a reference to the appointment of Mr. Ross as valuer. These are the Commissioners’ words -
A valuation of the machinery and plant at the works was obtained by the Minister from Mr. H. E. Boss, of the firm of Messrs. Boss and Rowe, architects and engineers, Sydney. Mr. Ross was selected for this purpose in the following manner: - Father Shaw (to whom Mr. Ross was a stranger) asked him to visit the works, and on his arrival there Father Shaw . inquired whetherhe would be prepared to act as valuer as between Father Shaw and the Department. Mr. Ross said that he would. Father Shaw later mentioned Mr. Ross’ name to the Minister as a suitable valuer. The Minister put himself into communication with the Minister for Lands of New South Wales (the Hon. W. G. Ashford), inquiring as to the suitability and reliability of Mr. Ross to represent the Navy Department, and Mr. Ashford strongly recommended him.
The whole interview between Mr. Ross and Father Shaw, as stated in tie evidence of Mr. Ross, lasted a minute and’ a Half. Father Shaw asked him if he- would act as valuer between the two, and he agreed to do so. We must assume that Ross was not an honorable and straightforward man. in making his valuation before we can say that there is anything wrong with it. I am borne out by the. Commissioners’ report’ when I assume that Mr. Ross’ reputation in his particular line stands as high as that of any other: man in Sydney, and that a conversation of a minute and a hall with Father Shaw was not calculated to corrupt him. Is that a fair assumption ? No one will deny that it is.
Before referring to Mr. Ross’ report, I want to say this in regard to it. He was closely examined upon it by the Commission, and the examination not only vindicated his report, but, tested by the keenness of an expert barrister and three capable business men, when he left the box so satisfactory was his examination that they never saw occasion to recall him. Here is Mr. Ross’ report, and when honorable senators censure the Government - because I am speaking of the Government who made this deal - for making a bad deal, I think they should have before them the documents which were before us as members of that Government, whilst added to the information supplied in those documents was our knowledge, which I venture to say would compare favorably with the knowledge of the Commissioners who were reportingupon this matter two years after the transaction occurred. There was our own knowledge, not only of the plant and machinery in a well-equipped concern, but also the conditions that threatened to overwhelm the Government in keeping things going so far as Australia’s share in the war at that period was concerned. Here is Mr. Ross’ valuation which we had before us -
Sydney, 12th July, 1916.
The Naval Secretary; Melbourne.
Valuation of Shaw Wireless; Plant at Randwick, Sydney.
I have to report to you’ that I have carefully examined the whole of the plant and machinery of these works, and have valued the same according to the schedule given hereunder. Buildingsand land are not included. The valuation has been made as for a manufacturing concern in complete going order.
The plant and equipment; in respect of its manufacturing aspect, I have dealt with in close detail..
In respect of the wireless equipment, installation, and instruments,. I have been more particularly associated with Lieutenant Cresswell, who has viewed my figures during compilation in this particular section, and in addition to this, he has generally attended upon the valuation, inspecting with, me each machine and all equipment in succession.
With regard to the machine tools and shop equipment, I have put my own. valuation upon each item of these; but, in respect of the store stock, any count or examination in close detail, of course would be impossible ; valuation has been taken as per stock-sheets as taken as at 3 1st May, 1916, and as. forwarded to me by you. I have, however, checked throughout this list the values at intervals, and find, in every case, the values stated are fairly represented.
As is usual in matters of this kind, the values I have given are added together into groups, as my instructions have, not been to give detail of each machine or tool; indeed, in the case of portion of the equipment where, for instance, in die tools, there are nearly 400 tools alone, this would be manifestly impossible
The valuation of ‘minor equipment, however, has been taken in such cases only after ‘examining practically the whole o’f ‘the tools comprised in groups and computing an average group value. But, in case of the machines, by the close examination of each Individual machine.
The whole manufacturing “plant is in very excellent condition, not more than three machines are showing signs of wear, and in this case the tools aTe such as accuracy is not called for or necessary.
The plant is, moreover, complete, ‘and has no obsolete or ineffective units, ‘the ‘machines being in each case, almost without exception, the best of their kind.
Total valuation, £46,496. “Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Herbert E. Ross.
Honorable senators .may say that that valuation is only £46,000. The land, houses, and other buildings are not included in that valuation, as is shown by he sworn evidence. They were valued by the Home Affairs Department at £14,000, and the Commission never questioned the accuracy -of ‘that estimate. If :that report were ‘before -honorable senators, apart from ‘their own judgment, being the report o’f a “highly reputable member of a firm of -high (standing, showing that the whole >qf (the plant and stores were worth ££6/000, tarra the unquestioned valuation of .the Viand, houses, and other .buildings was stated to them at /£1’4000, would they (not -be /satisfied, without hearing another word, that this was not only a good business deal, but a real bargain for the Commonwealth 1 Have I not proved that to honorable senators ? .1 am -going to do more than prove it, because I claim, without trying to put myself above my colleagues, that if there was one man who had an inside view into the value of wireless at that time, it was myself. Honorable senators who were here in those days will remember that I had to answer questions -with regard to proposed wireless Bills. I remember preparing a speech to be delivered on a motion regarding .wireless plant then before the Senate, and that preparation took me carefully through all the papers dealing with the settlement of the Marconi business. My mind was open to the importance of Australia ‘having the control and command of its own wireless .plant; but I shall give honorable -senators more of that story later.
I propose to read practically the whole of Mr. Boss’ evidence, because it is very important. I am not going to pick out, here and there, pieces that are favorable to my case. In any quotations I have made, I have not attempted to do anything of that kind. The report of Mr. Ross’ evidence is as .follows: -
Herbert Ernest Boss, sworn and examined.
By Mr. Starke. - What are you? - A consulting engineer.
And you carry on the practice of your profession in Sydney, New South Wales? - Yes.
What has been your experience in connexion with electrical plant? - :I have a very large industrial connexion in the establishment of factories, and I am retained by several large industries in that respect; and my experience has been a special one in electrical machinery on the industrial side. I hare been called upon to install, on numerous occasions, large installations of electrical machinery, in whichmy ‘advice and judgment is called into account.
And for how many -years has ‘that experienceextended’? - About twenty-five years.
At the request of ‘the Federal authorities^ you made this report, dated 12th July, in respect of ‘the Randwick plant’? - Yes.
And the instructions that .were given to yow were- ^reading .No. J 3 on .file] 1 - Ses. Thosewere my instructions.
You <know no more of your appointment than that you .had ‘correspondence or telegrams addressed ‘to you from ‘the ‘Federal authorities? - That is ‘so.
Commander Cresswell did arrive ‘to assist you’? - Yes.
Will you tell me what time, you spent .on thevaluation, and .exactly what -you did ? - I was three days inspecting the ‘machines .and equipment of the factory and the stock. During those three days, each machine was examined in detail. A note was made- mentally, or, .in many cases, in writing- -Of the condition of the machines, their utility and class, .type, and their settings; and, after doing so- I might
Say the schedule of the equipment was .handed to me by the Shaw Wireless people at my request, as the Navy Department did .not .furnish me with lists as arranged - I took the schedule, together with my own notes, and went through the workshop. The schedule provided by the Shaw Wireless people was incomplete. There are a great many items omitted from that; and, of course, I made those items good in my own notes. Then, having .inspected the plant, its. character and condition, I devoted about five days, including a good deal of night work, in pricing those items from the material I had available. I inquired also from merchants in -the business .as -to .values. I consulted the tenders and prices accepted for equipment for Government purposes of .about that -date, ;and as regards the items in stock, consisting of a large collection of miscellaneous manufactured stock, nuts, small screws, bolts, and insulations. I inspected those, and inquired the prices at that time, in order to check the values of this stock. As regards the stock, a sheet was given to me of the stock, of the number of items in each section, which I referred to in my statement to the Government; and I took a note of what Stock was mentioned as being in the bin. That is to say, I selected here and there at random entirely, without any suggestion, from different bins, and examined the contents of those bins, and in a few cases I counted the contents, although I did not intend to take stock in that sense - but I examined the quality and condition of the stock; and then, taking the sheet, which had prices opposite the various items, I checked those items Dy inquiry in the mercantile world in Sydney; and therefore, in a sense, I did make a valuation of the stock, subject to the quantifies being correct.
You made your report, and your report gives £40,406. That has no reference to the stock! -Yes; it ‘has, most decidedly.
What does it covert - The stock represents £12,000 of that item; and if you refer to my report, I say, “ In respect of the store stock . a valuation has been taken as from the stock-sheets as on 31st May, 1916, and as forwarded to me by you. I have, however, checked throughout these lists the values, &c, and find in every case the valuations stated are fairly correct.” So I did not check the quantities, but checked the values.
And then you made a valuation of the plant? - 1 would like to say, at this stage, as regards that stock, I discussed it with Commander Cresswell - in fact, we could not possibly count all this miscellaneous stock - and Commander Cresswell told me that departmental officers would check the quantities.
With your report, did you send in a detailed schedule? - I sent in fifty-seven pages, altogether, of a schedule.
Is it all there on the file? - It should be. In my letter, I referred to the number of schedules, and what the various items are in detail.
In valuing the plant, what was the basic principle of the valuation which you followed out? - My instructions were such that I could only take the plant without any regard to its utility, and it was nothing to me if I found a grand piano there, or a machine for making ginger beer, I valued that as a machine for the purpose, whether it suited the Navy or did not. I did not have instructions to value for Navy purposes, and so took everything at its value as a going concern, assuming the utility of the machine was there, provided it was not obsolete and suitable for the purpose.
The valuation, then, was based upon the things in situ assembled and ready as a profit* making concern? - Yes, as a going concern.
And regardless, as you said, of its particular value in the business? - Quite.
Did you value it entirely as new machinery? No; that would not be valuing.
Yon allowed for depreciation? - Yes, and I allowed for appreciation.
Appreciation caused by the war? - Yes. I took it that there was somebody willing to sell and somebody willing to buy certain plant at that time, and that both parties were willing to do business.
Can you express it in percentages at all as to what was the appreciation all round on pre-war prices? - It would be impossible to do it, but I had it in much closer detail than that. I took every individual machine, and I referred to the English, American, or local prices where available, and I took the ruling conditions. - .
May I ask you how you got the appreciated price. For instance, a lot of material could not be obtained in Australia at the time. What prices did you take for that? - Where it could not be obtained in Australia, what I did was this: I took my English list of John Birch, and taking the average of that class of machine, I assumed that the same appreciation would apply to these particular machines. That, I considered, was a very sound position to take.
Did you apply that same principle to the stock value? - Yes. Most of the stock values I checked by quotations. The same principle was applied.
And you went into the question of any depreciation that you saw?- -Yes.
That is with each particular machine? - Yes, it ‘was gone into in detail.
Did not that strike you as a very high valuation? - Certainly not
To take each particular machine and not look at it as a whole? - Absolutely, no.
You were taking it substantially at its replacement value, less depreciation? - Yes, most decidedly. That was the market value of the plant. As a matter of fact, those machines could have been sold since at a price exceeding my valuation.
You would have dismantled them. It means money to dismantle? - Dismantlement is a very simple thing compared with setting.
We understand the basic principles of your valuation, but how did you go about the depreciation? - If a machine were tight in its bearings and not worn out at all, and the accuracies are there, &c, I allowed practically no depreciation at all, because it is for the purpose a new machine, and years make . no difference. A machine may be used three times in two years, and, under the circumstances, I would take that as a new machine. Obsolescence, of course, is taken into account.
Could that be so on the basis of your valuation? - I claim it was taken into account.
You told me that, quite apart from the utility of _ the machines at all to the works, whether ginger beer machine or a pop-gun, you took it at its market. value less any depreciation. What application has the principle of obsolescence to such a valuation as that? - In a few cases, and in this particular instance, in a very close association with Commander Cresswell, I wrote down almost entirely certain things that were obsolete, and from the nature of which could never be anything else but obsolete, because they had an express purpose, and that purpose was past, and if they were no good to the Shaw Wireless they were no good to any one, such as certain generators. Wherever that principle could be applied it was applied.
I suppose, without a detailed examination, you could not tell me what amounts were involved in the obsolescence? - Not very much. I could nottell you the amount of the obsolescence. It referred more especially to wireless instruments, and certain instruments that were obsolete and of no value to anybody. It was not whether they were of value to the Navy Department, but of value to anybody else.
Or of value to the owner? - Or anybody.
By Mr. Cussen. - The market value? - Not exactly the market value.
By Mr. Starke. - Have you had valuations to do in compulsory acquisitions of property? - A great many.
You know the principle there which is the value to the owner - that is the guiding principle -and not the market . value or anything else - the most beneficial use to which it could be put? - Yes. That did not apply here.
Why not? - Because it was not compulsory.
No, but did not you adopt precisely the same principle ? - No.
The most beneficial value to the owner? - Yes, in that sense I did.
And the most beneficial value to the owner meant to whatever purpose it could be put in ‘ anybody’s hands? - Yes.
The most beneficial use of the property. You were valuing for buyers? - I was valuing as between parties, I understood.
But it was not essentially a vendor’s valuation? - I do not think so.
I am not speaking of the figures, but the principle adopted was essentially a vendor’s valuation? - I do not think so.
Why not? - Because I simply had to take the value of the thing as between two parties, one who wished to sell and one who wished to buy.
The only thing that apparently you did not include was the cost of the installation, putting it in? - That was included.
The cost of putting it in and establishing it in situ? - Yes, as a going concern. I allowed nothing at all for good-will, because there was none, in my opinion.
Again, I suggest that principle of valuation which would, I think, have been the right principle to adopt of compulsory purchase, is essentially a vendor’s valuation, without regard to what the parties could by negotiation in the market have got it? - I do not think so at all.
Then you made this report, and, in your opinion, it was a fair and just valuation? - Absolutely.
Subject to the checking of quantities? - Yes, which I understood was to be done by somebody else.
Did Father Shaw see you in connexion with the valuation before the Government had com municated with you? - Yes. He asked me would I agree to act.
And that is all that passed between you? -
Yes. I saw Father Shaw - I had never seen him before in my life - but I saw him for about a minute and a half on this occasion. He was sick that day.
At the works? - Yes.
He asked you to go and see him there? - Yes, and asked me would I be willing to act as a valuator between him and the Department, and I said I would.
Cross-examined by Mr. Cussen. - You have had plenty of time to make your valuation? - I took all the time I wanted. I was wired expressly for the valuation to be sent on as soon as possible, but I took all the time I wanted.
By the Chairman. - You said that you valued according to instructions. Who did you get instructions from? - The Navy Department.
In the shape of a letter? - Yes.
Can you produce the letter? - I think it is a telegram.
By Mr. Starke. - It is document No. 13 on the file, telegram dated 12th July, 1916. Those were the instructions to you? - Yes.
By the Chairman. - The instructions were in regard to plant and machinery and stock, and nothing to do with buildings? - Yes. I would like to point out that, at the beginning of the address by counsel, a mistake was made which might have some impression on the minds of the Commission. The statement was that I did not value the stock. As a matter of fact, I did. 1 took their stock sheets at their valuation, and I found they were correct. Therefore, I did value the stock, because if there were things not included in the stock, they were given credit for, and it is part of my valuation; but I did not estimate the quantities. I checked the quantities in a few cases; but, as a matter of fact, that was left to tile other officers.
That is the evidence of one of Sydney’s most expert valuers. He was never called before the Commission again, and I leave it to honorable senators to say whether upon his valuation the Commission has not misled the Government, the Parliament, and the people. I have very carefully searched the record of the evidence taken by this body. I do not claim that
I am acquainted with every word of it, but I do claim that the evidence of another valuer was taken by the Commission in preference to that of Mr. Ross. Mr. T. Brentnall, upon being recalled, was examined as follows -
By Mr. Starke. - You were present in Court when Mr. Ross gave his evidence as to the basic principle of his valuation? - Yes, I was.
I understand you have had great experience of valuing commercial concerns of all sorts? - Yes, I have had a good deal of experience. ‘
Is the principle of valuation whichhe adopted a usual or unusual one to adopt in makingvaluations? -Ihave neverheard of it before.
As a valuer of business concerns, is it your experience that the usualvaluationsare made on profit earning or replacement value? - Profits, of course.
Cross-examinedby Mr. Cussen. -Have you ever valued a machinery business since the war? - No.
Have you ever valued a machinery business in your life? -I amnot a valuer, but Ihave had a great deal to do in dealing with these things.
I have now given the valuation of acompetent authority, and also the valuation of a man who was called by the Commission to review Mr. Ross’ evidence, and I say unhesitatingly that the finding of the Commission is a ‘finding on Mr. Brentnall’s evidence, and that thetestimony of Mr. Ross has been brushed aside ‘as if it were of no importance. I am going to stress this valuation almostto the point : of wearying honorable senators, because Idesire my remarksto reacha wider audience ‘outside this building. I intend to stress it to such an extent that anybody whointhe future readsan article in a newspaper referringto the scandals : of the wireless, will haveso many facts and figures before him that any journal whichdares to headlinea transaction of this kind will standdisgraced in the eyes of its readers.
I now come to Mr. Cornwell, about whom certain gentlemen have spoken very hotly and disparagingly. He has made arather cruel insinuation against me, and soI . will tell honorable senators what I know about him. A few years ago a strikeoccurred at Lithgow. At the time I was assisting the Minister for Defence. I visited Lithgow, where I found. Mr. Cornwell, who was then a prominent member of ‘the Engineers Union. He assisted me to settle that strike, and my two or three days’ association with him impressed me with the idea that he was a straightforward and competent man. Having gone through his evidence before the Commission,however, I have reversed my opinion. From what I have said, honorable senators will understand that I am dealing with him in no spirit of anger. Here is the reportof Mr, Cornwell. who had at the time the sub mitted it been more than ‘a year managing the works for the Government. His report, which is contained in an exhibit which the Government have not yet had time to look at, reads -
Wireless and Electrical Works, Randwick,
New South Wales. 9 th October, . 1917.
The Naval Secretary,
Navy Office, Melbourne. (Through the Acting Director of the Radio Service.)
It will be seen, on reference to the files, that no complete list of assets, totalling the purchase money for the workshops, viz., £55,000, appears in the files. I have, therefore, prepared a list of assets, and have based my figures on the average between the various lists shown in the files. Iforward herewith copy of the list of assets which was taken as the basis for the opening of the workshops ledger. (Sgd.) A. E. Cornwell,
I propose now to read from the evidence tendered to the Commission by Mr. Cornwell regarding the value of the Shaw wireless plant. This gentleman made many statements as to values, and I could select from his evidence, if I chose, certain statements which appear to conflict with those which I am about to quote. Mr. Cornwell, was examined thus -
Was ita large plant ? - Yes, a comparatively largeplant.
Was it modern? - Quite modern.
Was the driving machinery modern too? - Yes, quite.
And in good repair? - Yes.
Did. he have a quantity of stock there - stores? - Yes,, there was. a. quantity of stock there.
A large quantity? - I was not at that time conversant with the stock.
You noticed there was a large stock? - Yes.
You might tell me, did you become confidential with. Father Shaw, and did he discuss his business with you.? - Yes. I became fairly confidential, with him, and he told me details of his business. I knew his financial commitments and his financial standing.
I have quoted the foregoing to call attention to Mr. Cornwell’s sworn testimony that the stock and engines of the Shaw Wireless Works were modern-. I come now to his evidence in regard to the stores: Upon this matter he was examined as fallows : -
Take the stores? - The stores were valued in this way. I had an inventory taken in the store, which was checked by. Downey and myself; and those valuations, were checked in “a; number of cases by obtaining quotations from outside firms, of the ruling prices of those particular items.
New material ? - Yes, many of the articles: in the stores, were practically new material.
That was practically the market value- of the stuff? - Yes,, it. was.
Whether it was old or new stock? - No; If old stock-, a due allowance was- made,
Yon allowed for- depreciation? - Yes.
Was that a- fair valuation, in. your opinion? - On a number- of articles, yes.
By Mr. Cussen. - Is this tie £4.4,000 or the £63,000?- £63,000.
– Does that £63,000 include land and buildings ?
– Yes. In. our “ scandal bargain “ land and buildings were included. I am. very glad of the interruption by the Minister for Repatriafcion, because it helps me- to put the case more clearly and fully than I might otherwise do. Here is another portion of the evidence given by. Mr. Cornwell, who- was. examined many times by. the Commission -
By Mr. Cussen. - It does not appear in the figures? - I took that into consideration in compiling the £63,000, that the workshops were a going concern, and in the compilation of the £40,000 to £44,000 I. put. myself in the. position of a would-be purchaser of the workshop, and stated what I would be prepared to pay for the- workshop.
By the Chairman. - But, of course, at that time, it would be practically impossible to get the machinery? - Yes, a good deal of it.
Impossible to get it? - Yes.
Therefore, it was worth more than the £44,000?- Yes.
If the Government. wanted to’ establish these works successfully, they would have to take the fact into consideration that they could not get the machinery, or could not get the machinery installed as a. going concern, and they would, naturally allow something for the value of that running concern? - Yes.
So that you would not say that £63,000was altogether a false valuation, but a valuation of the market price of the day, what it would cost to establish those works?- Yes.
So you say now, you took into consideration the fact that it was a going concern,, properly equipped, and. well, able to do. the work, quite apart from the wireless aspect altogether? - Yes.
a reason with which I am perfectly familiar, has endeavoured to make it appear that a Labour Government purchased the Shaw wireless plant under conditions which constitute a public scandal. If we had nothing else before us but the valuations which I ‘have quoted, there is not an honorable senator who would not be already reconsidering, with a view to re-adjusting, any false impressions that he may have gained from the report of the Commission. With regard to the report of Mr. Cooke, I examined the exhibits, and, on the store list which he had, it will be seen that Mr. Cooke, with his two valuators, marked in red ink even such small differences as 6d. here and 3d. there, which were natural mistakes occurring in the taking down of the particulars in type. I have had access to those exhibits which the Government probably have not had. During recess I hope the Government will avail themselves of the opportunity, and will consider it their duty to make themselves better acquainted with all the documents bearing on the transaction.
I will now deal with the subject of land values, and will quote, first, a Home Affairs document, dated Melbourne, 1st Julv. 1916, as follows: -
The Commission has not called that into question. On the subject of values, I will keep my points in order by following up Mr. Ross’ valuation; and I will add to it the reports of Commander CresswelL Of course, if honorable senators and the public choose to view’ all these matters in the light of everything and everybody being suspect, there will be no difficulty in branding the case with the term “ scandal “ or “ corruption.” But has public life reached a stage wherein the people will not accept the valuations of different persons made at different times and places, and which persons possess characters that have never been attacked? I now quote Commander Cresswell’s report -
The Naval Secretary,
I have to report that, in accordance with instructions received, I visited the Shaw Wireles Works Ltd. on Wednesday, 7th instant, for the purpose of making a preliminary inspection of the workshops, with a view to purchase by the Government.
The workshops are well equipped, and I know of none more suitable for the manufacture of wireless telegraphy and electrical equipment, and for small mechanical work. They consist of a patternmaker’js shop, iron and brass foundry, turning and fitting shops, instrument making shops, armature and winding shops, stores in which a considerable quantity of material at present difficult to obtain is kept, laboratories, power-house, and suction plant, two houses and I see no reason why, in the near future, these workshops should not, with the addition of machinery of a special nature, turn out the manufacture of machine guns. . . . . . I would point out that it has been this Department’s experience that private contractors claim, and we are at present compelled to pay, exorbitant prices for the local production of wireless telegraphy and electrical apparatus. …
In conclusion, I would point out that, owing to the war, it is a very difficult matter to obtain machinery, all the factories in England and America being employed in the manufacture of munitions. The price of electrical motors has increased considerably, and the Shaw Works are at present manufacturing electric motors for the Government of New South Wales. (Sgd.) P. G. Cresswell,
A /Director of Wireless Telegraphy. 26th June, 1916.
That is a report which the Government had before them when they purchased the wireless plant. It is the first report made regarding the condition of the plant at that time. I have here also a document dated from the Navy Office, Melbourne, 2nd March, 1915, in which Commander Cresswell states -
The Naval Secretary, - Since the outbreak of war, the Naval Service has had to procure over fourteen sets of wireless telegraphy apparatus for fitting in H.M.A. ships and transports.
The Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Co. Ltd., having a monopoly in the commercial* field of wireless telegraphy supplies, and being the only company who could provide for immediate requirements, ‘ were requisitioned to supply and fit the installations required. - The price the Government have had to pay for lj-kilowatt Marconi installations is £600 odd. The value of these installations, allowing reasonable profit, is estimated at £350. it is thought that the developments pf wireless telegraphy within the Commonwealth, apart from the wireless telegraph demands consequent upon the outbreak of war, justifies the Government in establishing its own workshops for the manufacture and repair of all wireless apparatus used by the Government. (Sgd.) F. G. Cresswell,
Fleet W/T Officer.
Let me now comment upon that. Apparatus was required for wireless installation upon our ships. At that time, when there were floating mines around our coasts, it was specially necessary, for the preservation of life, that vessels should be equipped with wireless. The Amalgamated Wireless Company was then presided over by Mr. Hugh Denison. That company is practically the German Telefunken Company and the Marconi Foreign Company. Honorable senators scarcely need to he reminded, so far as that last-named company is concerned, of the Marconi contracts scandals in Great Britain during- 1912. I will show, based upon reasonable evidence, that one of the chief reasons for the attack which has been made upon this purchase is that the Shaw plant, left in the hands of the Government, would materially increase the benefits and prosperity of the people of Australia, and would decrease the profits of the Amalgamated Company and the Telefunken and Marconi companies. I intend to prove that statement with the aid of dockets at my disposal. I will continue now with Commander CressVeil’s evidence. First, however, I must refer to what I term a rather cowardly attack by the Commission - although I should not be angry enough to say “ cowardly,” I suppose. But when a Commission attacks Commander Cresswell and Mr. Thomas, his chief accountant, as being weak in their estimates, I can only say that I happened to be sitting in the Court when those gentlemen were examined. And, although the Commission has said that their statements were weak, I came away from the proceedings with the conclusion in my mind that they knew their business from A to Z. I want the Government to look carefully into their reports, and see how their estimates worked out on the actual estimation of the plant. Under critical examination they showed that they considered that the output of work for the first year “ amounted to £16,000, and showed a profit of 9 per cent. - deducting 4 per cent, for depreciation, and leaving 5 per cent, interest. The ten and a half months’ working of the plant returned £18,000 worth of work, and showed a profit of 11$ per , cent. With those figures sworn before it, and having’ all the particulars in its possession, what am I to think of a Commission which says that those gentlemen were weak and did not understand their business?
All the evidence which I have so far quoted was in the possession of the Com- . mission before it presented its findings., I hold the Government responsible for the Commission, but not for its means and methods of taking evidence. But, if the Government persist in defending and supporting the Commission in the teeth of the evidence placed before them, then the Government must be charged with responsibility for this report also. Up to that time I have made no charge against the Government. Here are extracts from Commander Cresswell’s evidence -
Is there anything you wish to add to that report now - [reading”] . Perhaps the thing it is .desirable for you to expatiate upon as the importance of acquiring these works in the Commonwealth ? - Yes.
You seemed to have a very strong opinion about it? - I had at that time, because wireless telegraphy in this war was playing a most important part, especially in connexion with troopships and transports, and the safety of the ship and life on board to a very large extent depended, on wireless telegraphy. It enabled, the ship to receive- submarine warnings, what tracks to avoid, what -enemy ships to- avoid, and so- on.. I’ think there were 78 transports - of course, we were not responsible, for the whole of the fitting of the transports, . but, I think, in all thirty ships were fitted. Besides the fitting of those ships, there was the- upkeep . . .
You said, “ I have therefore to recommend that if these works can be acquired for the sum of £40,000; which in my opinion would be a fair offer to make under all the conditions at present obtaining; .may be so acquired for the purpose of a Government Electrical Workshop ? -Yes.
I presume that was your honest opinion ? - Tes-. - And that was the: value you. would have recommended as the responsible technical officer? - Yes; that is so.
And not beyond it.? - No; if I was negotiating myself E would certainly have opened up at £40,000;
Do you remember about the- 14th. July, 1010, having two questions submitted, to von for report? - Yes; I remember that.
How did they come to you? - I do not- remember I take it that it came officially. - What does it show on the face of it? - It lias. got a; Navy-‘ Office- number, here;, but if that came officially, to my office I would have a copy of it in the office file. I’. cannot say. whether it came- over officially or- unofficially ; but it was replied1 to-, officially.
I intend to comment upon tlie item of £40,000, Because that is- one of* the figures which has been misused. T will not charge the Commission with want of integrity, but there are two alternatives: either their- integrity or- their intelligence is at. stake, and; they must render the answer as: to which it. is. The evidence proceed* -
Your- report is- dated 14th July, 19 16-, and it says - breads, report”]. How did.’you work that out? - In the- first place> speaking, of interest on capital at 5 per cent, for the Government,, it seemed to me to be a very safe figure to take as interest on. capital, as- at that time the Government were- borrowing money for- about 4i per cent, “ That they would earn after paying ordinary maintenance and running charges.” What possible basis did you have- for that? You did not know anything about the running charges? - I’ dp not remember what the figures were. I went” into those figures.
All you knew was that the purchase price, £5.7,000, was the capital charge? - Yes..
You knew nothing whatever- of the turnover when you were proposing it. You did not apparently consider that. You knew nothing whatever of the market you had? - I remember
Mr. Jensen told me that if. the: works paid interest on capital he would be satisfied.
This says, “after paying ordinary maintenance and running charges “ ? - I do not remember the figures now.
Now, after leaving Commander Cresswell’s evidence, I will, with the aid of the evidence of Mr. Thomas, show how that figure of £40,000 came before the Commission. Whether the Commission intended it or not, it has- created in the public mind the idea that Commander Cresswell at that time, in the report which he made to Mr. Jensen, considered the sum of. £40,000 a. fair value of the works. I had the advantage of sitting in Court while Commander Cresswell and Mr. Thomas’ were undergoing examination. Under conditions which were different from the ordinary process of examining- witnesses, those gentlemen gave such evidence that. I left the Court with the clear impression, in. my mind - and a close perusal of that evidence will similarly affect the minds’ of honorable senators2- that Commander Cresswell had never intended his statement to mean that £40;000 was- enough to- give for- the plant. H?e positively and’ clearly swore that £40,000* should be the amount at which negotiations’ should1 commence. While- he considered’ £57,000 was a* fair valuation-, he held that £40,000 was a fair sum- upon which the Minister should begin negotiations for the deal. He clearly put- before the Commission, not that’ £40,000 was the value, but that- it was the amount at’ which he reckoned negotiations should be- begun. Now, there- has- been much fuss and’ clou-ding-, of the- issue as- to the valuation of the property. I think that Mr: Jensen, in another- place, has defended himself-. Mb. Jensen, in his sworn evidence, said that be asked Commander Cresswell if the £57,0.00 was too high, or. the- £40,OOO was too low. That- was the position he took up. I ask honorable, senators to wipe away the sus?picion that has been created by this Commission, owing to. its- inability to accept evidence, as, shown by the casual way in which, .they set it down as being in the nature of weak statements that they did not understand..
I am going to make. reference to evidence given by Mr. Thomas, because, he and Commandere Cresswell were examined at the same time, and. they drafted the report. The Commission stated -
The examination of Commander Cresswell and Mr.F. W. Thomas (his Chief Clerk), before the Commission shows that the opinion expressed by Commander Cresswell as to the earning power of the works was founded on an entirely unreliable ‘basis.
I do not intend to read the whole of the evidence given by Mr. Thomas, though it would be worth reading, but I shall ask the Government to give very careful attention to it. Mr. Thomas was examined at considerable length by Mr. Starke, and I take the following from his evidence : -
In yourestimate you say you have got to build £7,000 worth of plant every year to arrive at that £4,000?- No; there are other items. There isthe item of £5,000 per annum Which is for brand new work. Then there is repair work. You cannot keep twenty-one stations going without spending money.
By the Chairman. - That is all assumption? - It is more than assumption. The balancesheets I -have seen for the last two years, and in ‘the first year . the turnover was £18,000.
By Mr. Starke-. - Do you know there has been only one balance-sheet? - There are two balancesheets.
Mr. Cornwell says it has not been prepared yet ‘for this . year’? - There was a -proformà balance-sheet for the first twelve months.
It is nota , pro formâ balance-sheet, it is : an actual balance-sheet? - I know I have seen a balance-sheet.
That is pretty clear evidence. Further on the report states -
I think youare rambling on a great deal? - I think I am trying to answer questions as directly as I can. At this stage, I would like to point out for the information of the Commission that, although at the time this estimate was made, 5 per cent. was estimated as interest on the capital, it is now 4½ per cent., I believe, and 4 per cent. for depreciation, making a total of 9 per cent. At the present time the works are doing better, because they are paying interest at the rate of4½ per cent, on capital and 7½ per cent, depreciation, which is a total of 11½ per cent., so that they are doing 2½ per cent. better in actual practice than What we estimated they would do.
I do not want to overprove my case, but I emphasize ‘that a close examination of the evidence given by Mr. Thomas will show that the valuation was carefully made. I want to show how that £40,000 estimate came into the matter, because it has played a fairly important part in the recommendationsof the Commission. The report states -
In view of that very definite conversation between you and the Director that . you could carry on at a capital charge of more than £40;000 or £45,000 with success, how can . you justify within a few days, because that ‘first report is the 14th of July, ‘and I assume within a day or two you go and report to the Minister that you can carry on with a capital charge of . £57,000 with success? - X would like to point out there are two positions. The first one was this - we wanted work, and we had an opportunity, as I say, that any tyro could see, of the plum falling into our hands. . There was only one possible competitor, and I am positive that competitor would not give anything like what was a reasonable offer.
Mr. Thomas was carefully crossexamined, and he finished up by : making it perfectly clear how- the £40,000came to be mentioned in Commander Cresswell’s report. His evidence . states -
I want . you to explain that reference in Commander Cresswell’s recommendation of £’40,000. Apparently he . discussed that with you? - When . the matter . of the works arose.it was ‘.seen quite clearly that.the jump from , a little works costing £5,000 to a works of the character of the Shaw Wireless Works could only be justified if there was work for such a works. I, therefore, sat down and endeavoured to see what sources there were open for the necessary work, and although I cudgelled my brain as much as I could, and ran out pro formA profit and loss accounts, I could not see that we would be justified in . assuming responsibility for works at a capital value higher , than £40,000 or £45,000. The cardinal thing which guided me was although, as war expenditure, emergency expenditure can : be justified, . from a peace point of view it might be found the works could not be carried on profitably. As to the actual value of the work, we did not bother whether it was £60,000, or £70,000, or £80,000, but we did bother about what we could secure them at, because on that depended whether we could make a success or failure of it. When the Director came todictate the last paragraph, I pointed out to him, as he was the responsible man, if he failed he would have to take a share of the blame, but if he could get it iat what a tyroin business would know was a figure at which we could make a success of it, then it would be all right. There were only two possible- buyers, I pointed out to him, and I also pointed out the financial position of the works. Weknew the bank was advancing money to Father Shaw; we knew there were mortgages overthe works; and I had a very shrewd idea Father Shaw had an option, and . I made a shrewd guess that the option was £28,000.I said to the Director, “You offer £40,000; pin yourself to it,” and he put it in.
From your point of view, as accountant, you did not think the works in Government hands could carry a heavier capital charge from £40,000 to £45,000 ? - I was not going over that, but the works have been doing better than we thought.
At that time? - Yes; at that time I do not think we could have stated the case any higher.
If that were so your attitude was this: “I am of opinion that on a purchase price of £57,000” - you have now jumped from £45,000 to £57,000 - “ these works should earn, after paying ordinary maintenance and running charges, interest and depreciation amounting to £4,700 “ How can you justify a statement like that? - Because we are dealing with war time. That would be the result; we could earn interest on £70,000 during the war.
I listened to the evidence, and I left the Court with the impression that Commander Cresswell and Mr. Williams were both of the opinion that £57,000 was a fair valuation, but that in a spirit of caution, and knowing that there was an option over the works and that’ money was tight, they thought £40,000 was a fair basis for negotiation. I leave the question of the values at that, but I ask if the Commission and the press were justified in saying that a scandal had taken place in regard to these negotiations.
I want also to give some figures that were submitted to the Commission. This is not guesswork. They are actual figures of working operations for two years. Mr. Thomas said that, taking into consideration the wages-sheets, interest at 5 per cent, on £55,000, and allowing 4$ per cent, for depreciation, an output of £16,000 would earn 9 per cent. Reference to Mr. Thomas’ evidence will show that for the first ten and a half months of working, on an output of only £18,208 2s. 9d., the return was equivalent to Hi per cent., whereas he had calculated it would be 9 per cent, on an output of £16,000. In the face of- this result the Commis.sion expressed the opinion that ‘ the valuation of the plant was weak. But let us see what the output was in the next year, and again I remind the Senate that these figures were placed before the Commission. In the second full year of working to 13th June, 1918, the output was £31,459, and the return was equivalent to 19 per cent.- If charges for management and cost’ of material were the same as last year, these figures establish definitely that the valuation was a fair one, and completely dispose of the statement made by the Commission that it had been arrived at on a false basis.
Now I am going to draw on my reason to suggest why this thing has happened. I do not propose to throw about any wild or reckless charges, but I am certainly going to say something about influences which are at work in our community to discredit Governments, to spread slanders about purchases, and in a general way to make out that every one trusted in this community is, more or less, corrupt and tainted. I say that, in connexion with this particular wireless project, I am justified in putting before the Senate some reasons wiry some very interested persons are very anxious that the Commonwealth Government shall not continue the manufacture of wireless plant. I referred a little time ago to the Marconi scandals in Great Britain, and I ^intend now to make one or two brief quotations from the Hansard of the House of Commons in connexion with the matter. I find that Sir H. Norman, speaking about the agreement entered into with Marconi, said -
But if the constructional part of the agreement is astonishing, the provisions regarding -royalty are still more so. The Government are to pay the company 10 per cent, on the gross receipts for a period of twenty-eight years. The Marconi master-patent, the well- known “ four sevens “ of 1900- the validity of which is being challenged in the Courts by a rival company - expires in eighteen months. . . If the company to-day invented, or bought, a new process for wireless telegraphy of the greatest importance, its life could not exceed fourteen years.’ Yet the Government are to pay a royalty of 10 per cent, for twentyeight years.
I direct attention to that because I am going to show that there has been, there is still, and there will continue to be, influences working against any Government establishing a wireless plant in Australia as the property of the people. Still quoting from Sir H. Norman, I find he said,’ further -
The point is that the Marconi Company, while talking about their own “ confidential apparatus “ and “ secret processes,” and while actually having concluded an agreement with the Admiralty which forbids one branch of His Majesty’s ser.vices to communicate information to the other branch, have the right, under this agreement, to a complete disclosure nf anything the Government may do in any one of its own stations. And let it be remembered that Mr. Marconi himself is a foreigner, and that the Marconi Company is in the most intimate relations possible with half-a-dozen foreign companies bearing the same name. These clauses, like the five years’ building monopoly, were, on the face of them, so intolerable that the Postmaster-General has already partially abandoned them.
Speaking further, after quoting from some statements of the British PostmasterGeneral, Sir H. Norman said -
These sentences, I submit, do not quite correctly state the situation which would arise under the agreement. “ We are at full liberty to introduce that improvement.” Ves, but only by abandoning everything covered by any Marconi patent. “ We reserve to ourselves the right to introduce any new system we prefer.” Yes, but only after having paid £60,000 for a station for the Marconi system. The Marconi Company have, from the beginning, done everything in their power to establish a monopoly in wireless. I do not blame them for this. As a commercial company, they want, and rightly want, to make all the profit they can, and nothing is so profitable as a monopoly. They did everything in their power to prevent the adhesion of this country to the Radio Telegraphic Convention of 1906, adhesion which was, nevertheless, recommended by a Select Committee of this House.
On the same page of the House of Commons Mansard there is a further statement made in these terms -
The evidence makes it clear that the Marconi Company …. claims what amounts to a monopoly in this country.
Honorable senators might reasonably ask why I should go all the way to England to quote something against the Marconi Company, but I intend to refer now to what was done in Australia to show the reason why they should prevent the Commonwealth Government having a monopoly of wireless in Australia. “ Let me tell honorable senators that the Australian Commonwealth wireless system, though it may have been surpassed in the last few months, which is not at all likely, was, when we made this purchase, absolutely the best wireless system in the world. It had been reported upon by Mr. Swinburne, who was brought from
Great Britain for the purpose in connexion with a case, then pending between the Marconi people and those conducting the Australian system, in the High Court of Australia. Realizing the difficulty with which they were confronted in dealing with this question, the High Court asked for an expert of experience to report upon and give evidence in connexion with the wireless systems affected, and the expert who was brought from Great Britain was Mr. Swinburne. The case is pending, the. expert arrives, and he examines the Commonwealth patent. I will say here, taking full responsibility for the statement, that the Australian Commonwealth wireless patent, although registered in the name of Balsillie, was the invention and production’ of Father Shaw and one of his best workmen, Mulrooney, I think, by name. I say that, in all fairness, these gentlemen handed the patent to Balsillie to be registered as the Commonwealth patent without seeking to make money out of it. I could quote Mr: Swinburne’s report, which I have here; but what was his opinion upon the Australian wireless station? It was that it was by 33 per cent, a better system than either the Telefunken or the Marconi; that it was no infringement of their patents, and that it was something entirely new in the way of wireless. What happened ? The High Court were .awaiting for the evidence of the expert to give their decision, and, beyond all possibility of dispute, the verdict must have gone £o the Commonwealth. There was correspondence going on with Mr. Swinburne, who wrote a report and made statutory declarations, and on the 4th June, 1914, the Government, represented by their solicitor, met the solicitors of Marconi and arranged an agreement. The agreement was that the Marconi people surrender to the Australian Commonwealth all interests in all their patents held in Australia for £5,000, and the case would be settled, each party paying their own costs. Perhaps some honorable senators might think that I am throwing some aspersions on the Government who made that agreement. I am going to do nothing of the kind. It transpired afterwards that all that we have purchased were patents that expired within two months after that agreement was signed. The papers are on the table in the Library for honorable senators to see, and they will show that there was no doubt that if the case had been continued the. Government must have won it. To be fair to Mr. Glynn, I should say that there were prospects of other law cases. However, that agreement was entered, into. No one will say that to buy patents which expire two months after wards, and which we were not using - and we were using Father Shaw’s system, which was by 33 per cent. abetter system - was a. bad bargain. No one will say that it was a scandal, or represented a corrupt practice.
When this wireless company came to the Governmentsitting at the table with their solicitors, they offered the Marconi interests in all their Australian patents. I. was in office before the. agreement was finally signed. It was signed by the previous. Government before going out of office, and we had to complete the agreement and protect the interests of Australia as best we could. We thought that we were buying from the Marconi Company their Australian Tights in the same patents that they held in England. But we were doing nothing of the kind. The basic patent of all wireless patents, known as the Goldsmidt patent, was being used by the Marconi Company in Great Britain. But when the agreement with the Commonwealth came to be looked into carefully, the solicitors found that the Marconi Company had not registered the Goldsmidt basic patent in Australia. It was registered by the Telefuhken Company, who were acting in co-opera tion with the Marconi Company. . We were tricked out of that patent by the. Marconi Company at the conference. That can be substantiated by a reference to the papers, which are not secret and can be seen. They have often been referred to, as well as the correspondence between the Government and Mr. Swinburne, the expert. A perusal of the papers will show that the Marconi Company, through their representatives at the conference table-, deliberately tricked the Commonwealth Government into the belief that they were getting the same patent rights in Australia which the Marconi Company were exercising in Great Britain, whilst at the same time. the. patent rights that were of most value were registered in the name of the Telefunken Company, and we were cheated out of them. The competitors of the Australian wireless system are still those who control the Marconi and Telefunken systems, with a few Australian shareholders thrown in. Honorable senators may say that, these statements have no relation to the case under consideration, but I shall show that they bear very closely upon it.
I say that a conference sat to deal with the matter in 1914. I do not want to go exactly into the figures, but I know that they will stand examination. After the Cook Government were defeated at the polls the agreement was signed. I am not going to say that there was anything wrong with the action of the Cook- Government in signing that agreement. They conducted careful negotiations; and arrived at the conclusion that they were making a good bargain.. Mr. Swinburne’s letters are amongst the papers, and let us see what sort of a hand we would have held if the case had been fought out to a finish in the High Court. I venture to assert that had Mr. Glynn known that the Marconi Company were keeping back two or three of the. most important patents he would have fought the case to a finish, and no one can doubt what the decision of the Court would have been. Here is the statutory declaration of Mr. Swinburne -
The Commonwealth of Australia.
The Patents Act 1903-1909.
In the matter of an application for Letters Patent number 6524 of 1912 by John Graeme Balsillie, and
In the matter of the opposition thereto by Marconi’s Telegraph Company Limited.
I, James Swinburne; of 82 Victoriastreet, London, S.W., England, Fellow of the Royal Society, and engineer, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows: -
Wireless Telegraph Company Limited in support of the opposition to the above-mentioned application.
AndI make this solemn declaration by virtue of theStatutoryDeclarations Act 1911 conscientiously believing the statements contained herein to be true in every particular. .
Declared at 76 Victoria-street, Westminster in the county of London, this 24th day of April 1914.
Before one - J. C. Dalzeel, a Commissioner for oaths.
Here is ‘the highestexpert . the Commonwealth could get claiming that the. Balsillie system - which I take the responsibility of asserting was the production . of Father Shaw and one of his employees - is an absolutely new system and is no infringement of the patent, rights of Marconi or Telefunken.. The following is a letter ofhis dealing with the same question, which has a peculiar interest at the present time: - 82 Victoria-street,London, S.W., 8th May, 1914.
Dear Mr. Wynne, -
Mr. Agar Wynne was Postmaster General at that time
SinceIcame back from Australia. I have had several conferences with Mr. Marconiand Mr. Isaacs. ‘They have all along held that the Balsillie -arrangement is ‘an infringement, -and -that even ; if ‘it . was ‘used ?o as not to be an infringement at the time I inspected . it, thatwas a special adjustment made for the purpose. Their idea is that ; it is generally used adjusted someotherway, . so as to infringe.
I pointed out . that . they would, in my opinion, find they . were misinformed as to that. I also pointed out that the patent was bad, on the ground that ‘the first claim is bad, and that there is no infringement, because Balsillie does not use any transformers in the sense the word is used in the Australian patent. . 1 have had discussions at intervals, and each time I thought they were altering . their opinion. Last time I saw Isaacs, about three weeks ago, he told me they had decided to drop the ‘action on the patent corresponding to the English 7777/00, : and . to amend it to get the first claim right, and they would then start again on the amended patent and on the Telefunken patents. I told them that the amended patent would still not hit us on infringement, and an amendment would not effectively alter the meaning of -the Australian documents. I also ‘reminded them ‘that if they were successful, they would get damages assessed by arbitration from the time . ofamendment to ‘the expiry . of the patents. I also pointed out that the Telefunken patents did not cover “ quenched spark” systems broadly. Mr. Isaacs said he ‘would have the position of the Telefunken patents examined, fcnd would then communicate with me. I have just had a telephone message from him to say, after full consideration of everything, they hace decided to go on with the original action. T presume this means they will not air.end, and will not sue under the Telefunken patents. At the -some time, if I could propose any amicable settlement, they would be only too glad -to fall in. I said that I hod already done all I could in ‘the way Of amicable settlement when in Australia, -and I had no power to do anything at all further. “My own opinion is that the action will never be fought.. Mr. Isaacs is a man of great determination, and I think this -policy is ‘entirely his . own, and I -do not . think ‘he quite -realizes that you cannot ‘win law cases iby flheer will poiwer.
J will probably Jiear from you or the Crown Solicitor as soon ias the Marconi jteople do anything further. It is likely that they have ca’bled out, and that the Australian ‘company has (shown signs of ‘activity by ‘the -time this reaches you, or that , a letter will be on the way to me by the time . you . get this. 1 have very pleasant recollections of my Australian visit generally,and of yourkindness in particular. I would like ‘to ‘come out . and have some more; but I do not want to come on this very unprofitable ‘infringement action. (Sgd.) James Swinburne.
I propose now . to quote . from -a . report by Mr. Thomas, who,, the . Commission isay is a weak man. One can almost trace that statement to the fact that in . one of . ‘his reports Mr. Thomas had been putting before the public facts which possibly the wireless people did not want revealed, . but they are facts, nevertheless. Mr. Thomas’ report is as -follows : -
Director of Badio iService.
The following -facts broadly outlining . ‘the present position and the . future outlook of the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd. in its relation, directly and indirectly, to the Commonwealth Radio Telegraphic Service, are submitted.
The Amalgamated Wireless Company . is a company registered in Sydney . in 1913, having a capital of ?140,000 in ?1 Jfully paid shares.
It amalgamated the interests of the Australian Wireless Company and the Australian Marconi Company. The former company represented the Telefunken interests, and obtained certain concessions from the Commonwealth Government for terminal stations at Perth and Sydney, whilst the latter company provided the Marconi patents and general ship organization. The Amalgamated Wireless Company is largely representative of the interests of the parent Marconi Wireless Company, London, as is shown by the attached list of shareholders -
The next important group is, of course, that represented by the Australian concessionaires, who subsequently floated their rights into the company known as the Australian Wireless Limited -
The reading of these reports is not unprofitable. They show that the organized Marconi Companies want the monopoly of the world’s patents, and that Australia, with its superior wireless system, with a shop, and an establishment, and machinery in capable hands, equipped to turn out wireless, must rapidly diminish their profits. Honorable senators may ask what the profits of wireless are. Let me read the following figures, also given by Mr. Thomas, regarding ninety steamers fitted by the Amalgamated Company: -
That is the profit for one year. Do honorable senators understand now why the amalgamated companies are straining every nerve to wipe out the Australian system? Mr. Thomas also says -
The sinister influence of these companies’ can be traced all through this case. When the works were about to be purchased, an article appeared in the Sydney Sun, and simultaneously Mr. Denison wrote a letter to the Age and Argus from Sydney. I have not looked the matter up to see whether the Age and Argus acted on that’ letter or not; I am simply showing what was done by the head of a great company, the majority of the shares of which are in the hands of foreigners. We know that Germans are among them. I do not know whether the Government have taken action in that case to wipe the German Interest out, but they could wipe it out with benefit. to Australia.. If this case does nothing else but make public the huge interests that are at stake, and let the people of Australia know that the Commonwealth Government have in their possession at the present time a wireless system which, if properly handled, will become the United British system, it will not have occurred in vain. The Imperial Conference of 1906 stood by, and for, such a united British system, but it has been intercepted, by the Marconi interests. I went through all these papers when I was Assistant Postmaster-General, in order to be able to answer innumerable questions on the subject, and also to speak on a motion moved in this Chamber. Seeing that I had all these facts within iny own knowledge, and the question arose of purchasing a wireless works which would equip Australia to free itself from this huge monopoly, am I to be charged with lack of business acumen, lack of foresight, and lack of ability to. understand the position? These powerful companies, which want to get Australia in their grip that they may earn big profits, have the influence of the press behind them, and that press brands as a scandal a transaction which was a fair and good bargain. That is my position. I had before me, not only the reports, but the broad interests and outlook of this concern. Let me see what influences have been at work.
I have given figures to show that the Amalgamated Company earned £10,800 profit from ninety vessels in a year, or practically £100 a year from every vessel installed with their apparatus. During the week I tried to get from the Navy Office the exact cost of the installation of fifteen of our Australian vessels with Marconi wireless apparatus in England, and the exact cost of fifteen similar vessels fitted with our own system. Unfortunately, the figures are not to hand, but I have other figures which show that there is a profit of about £100 for every vessel to the Australian Amalgamated Company per annum. One hundred vessels installed with our own plant would not give us the huge profits that the monopoly take, but they would return us an ample profit, and at the same time provide for our shipping people a wireless system better than that of a monopoly at a cheaperrate. In these circumstances, cannot honorable senators see why there are influences at work in this country to discredit our transactions? Honorable senators do understand that, and know it is a fact, and the world will yet know that it is a fact. What do honorable senators think of this idea of the monopoly of besmirching every one who fights them ? Honorable senators know how they fought our former Postmaster-General, the late Charles Frazer - fought him to the grave. I will not let my feelings carry me away, or I might say that it looks to be a dangerous thing to oppose big foreign companies. I had better buttress everything I have to say by documentary evidence, because the days are coming when members of Parliament will not be believed, even on their oath, seeing that the company commands the press, and the press forms and commands public opinion.
This is the letter I received from Mr. Macandie, Naval Secretary, dated 19th December, 1918, in answer to the inquiry I alluded to above -
Dear Senator Gardiner,
Regarding your request of the other day,I regret that I have been unable to get a proper comparison as to the cost of the Commonwealth fitting wireless installation in a merchant ship and of the Marconi Company doing the same. I find that our wireless workshops have offered to fit ships of the Commonwealth Government line at, say, £450. The Marconi Company work on different lines. They charge hire of installations - that is, they require a ship to pay a sum of £225 or £250 for a period of ten years. The installation always remains the property of the Marconi Company. Out of the money they receive they undertake to pay the wages of one operator up to £100 per annum. So that, you see, an exact comparison is hardly possible.
– Is £100 a year all that an operator gets?
– I think there are other means by which operators can earn more. Even that letter shows that from plant which our shop could put in for £450, the amalgamated companies draw a profit of £100 a year. Multiply that by a hundred ships, and, in view of the prosperity ahead of us in the near and distant future, by thousands of ships, and surely honorable senators can see that this is more than a party matter. It is a matter’ in which Australian interests are threatened. If Australian interests are managed as they should be, the Australian patent will become the British patent. The Australian wireless system will become the United British wireless system, and the amalgamated companies know it. I read of proposals to link Australia up with the rest of the Empire. Will it not be better to link it up with Imperially-owned wireless stations, with an establishment in which we can manufacture and repair all our requiremnts, and leave out of consideration the interests of these foreign companies which are fighting so bitterly and discrediting so effectively every public man who dares to stand in their way ?
I shall leave the matter at that, and conclude,but it will be a long conclusion. I shall conclude with a review of the serious question of the way in which the evidence was taken, and finally with an amendment to the motion, recording the disapproval of the Senate of the method and manner of obtaining and taking evidence, and the fact that the report is against the weight of evidence, and calculated to bring His Majesty’s Commission into disrepute, ridicule, and contempt. That is a serious amendment to move, but I am going tojustify it by analyzing the manner in which the evidence was taken. I have already shown that the decisions of the Commission were against the evidence. Let me see the manner in which the evidence was obtained, and how it wastaken. I am certain that it was illegally taken. Our Royal Commissions Act authorizes Royal Commissioners to send for witnesses, and compel them to produce papers. Iam not attributing dishonest purposes to Mr. McBeath. I dare say he has found himself in a position in which a great many more able men have found themselves before to-day -that is, a position entirely new to him, and that he knows nothing about. It is no discredit to a business man to say that he doesnot know how to conduct the proceedings of a Royal Commission. But when he has discharged his duties in a way which reflects discredit on the Commission and on the Parliament,thefacts should , be placed before the Senate. I hold Mr. McBeath responsible for every officer employedby the Commission. In this connexion, I propose to refer to the wayin which Senator Long was inveigled into a conversation with Mr. Cornwell, which was placed upon record by a shorthand writer who was secreted on the other side of a wall, with a telephone held to hisear. What would we say of a High Court Judge who allowed his shorthand writer to go down to a secret interview of that kind, for the purpose of taking notes ? Would we say that it was a fair method of obtaining evidence? There are two written records of that interview in the exhibits which are in the hands of the Commission and of the Government. One of these records was written by Mr. Price, the shorthand writer to whom I have referred, and the other waswritten by Mr. Cornwell. In Mr. Cornwell’s record, there donot appear thenames of two senators who are mentioned in his evidence.
– Where did the honorable senator find that out ?
– I discovered it by visiting the Prime Minister’s Department, where I spent a day in going through the exhibits. The two written statements by the two interested persons made no reference to Senator Russell and myself. But let me get along. What would honorable senators thing of a Supreme Court Judge who allowed his shorthand writer to attend an interview and take notes under the conditionswhich
I have described? Is that a method of obtaining evidence which can be approved? Then, I would remind honorable senators that a Royal Commissioner can no more delegate his powers than can a Supreme Court Judge. A Royal Commission is at liberty to call witnesses, and compel them to produce documents. But it is not empowered to do what this Commission did, namely, to instruct Mr. Brentnall to direct Mr. Barton to go to a bank and examine my privatebanking account. As a matter of fact, I am heartily glad ‘that the Commission did examine my account before I learned of it. That account showed that, apart from my parliamentary salary, no amount higher than £5 had been paid into it, for the simple reasonthat I have no income other than that which I derive from politics. I ama professional politician, if people choose so to regard me. But this matter is not a personal one with me. Mr. Starke, in examining me, said, “ I understand that you have given permission for your bankingaccount to be examined?” To that I replied, “You should understand nothing of the kind.” I have since found that the examination of my banking account took place months ago. Senator Russell was treated in the same way, and it is quite probable that every other honorable senator has been subjected to similartreatment.
– Thatis abad look-out for us.
– It is. But for that aspect of the case, I would not have occupied the time of the Senate. This is a new practice, or else it is a leap hack to the Star Chamber system. If the Labour party were in power to-morrow, how would SenatorFairbairnlike it to appoint a Commission to examineall the accounts of honorable senators opposite?
SenatorFairbairn. - A Commission may look at my account any day.
– I know that. But can this unBritishpracticecontinue? Where will itlead:? By the slow process of years we have won our way from a system of that kind.
If honorable senatorswilltake the trouble to examinetherecords which are in the Prime Minister’s Department, they will find that this Commission first held a secret inquiry. At that inquiry they examined a man named Carroll, who made quite a number of statements about Mr.Watt. I want to say that Mr. Carroll was declared by Mr. Starke, and by the chairman of the Commission, to be an unreliable witness - in fact, an unmitigated liar - and Mr. Cussen said that he did not wish liars to give evidence before the Commission. While this secret Commission was sitting, Carroll came before it, and, though he did not impute any dishonesty to Mr. Watt, he told what he knew about him. He said that when Mr. Watt was Leader of the Opposition, he had approached him and told him what was going on in regard to the Shaw Wireless. He affirmed that he had requested Mr. Watt to take action. Then when Mr. Watt became a colleague of Mr. Jensen he again approached him, and on this occasion Mr. Watt said that he could not well take the matter up then, because Mr. Jensen was his colleague.
– Is that in the evidence ?
– It is a pity that it was not published.
– It will be published. There is nothing dishonorable shown against Mr. Watt, except that this infamous liar went before the Commission and made statements which, twenty years after Mr. Watt’s death, will impugn his character; These statements are contained in documents of which the Government are in possession at the present moment. What occurred to Mr. Watt might have occurred to any one of us. That gentleman, I repeat, is only mentioned by Carroll as having been told about the wireless business.
– When was Mr. Watt Leader of the Opposition ?
– It was statements like that which broke down Carroll’s evidence. He knew so little about political matters that Mr. Starke soon discovered that his statements were so absurd that they stamped him as an unmitigated liar. The result was that he was not called before the open tribunal. In, these circumstances, I appeal to honorable senators to say that these secret tribunals must end. The honesty of several members of Parliament was impugned by Carroll without their knowledge. Any honorable senator can verify my statement by reference to the document which is in the hands of the Prime Minister. In this matter the Government would he well advised if they called to their aid the High Court Judges, put into their hands all this secret information, together with the Commission’s report and findings and asked them to report upon the entire business.
– If one honorable senator can see these secret documents, we are all entitled to see them.
– Exactly. I have already shown the disgraceful trick adopted by the Commission to secure evidence as to what took place at a particular conversation.
– That is referred to in the evidence.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - But the exhibits are not printed, and that is what makes the evidence so incomplete and puzzling.
– Yes. Now, let me say what I think of the whole transaction. I believe that Carroll and Lynch conspired to blackmail certain people. I. believe that anybody who goes into the evidence and documents, as I have done, will arrive at a similar con- clusion. I have already said that, until I read the Commission’s report, I regarded Cornwell as a reputable man. But every charge of corruption preferred against any public man in the proceedings of the Commission can be traced directly to Cornwell, as indeed can all the evidence to buttress such charges. Cornwell and Lynch were working together. Cornwell was Lynch’s superior officer. Upon the death of Father Shaw, Lynch got a communication from Carroll sympathizing with him, and asking for a memento of Father Shaw Lynch’s mother then came to Melbourne and interviewed Carroll. Some time later, Lynch came to Melbourne, and met
Carroll in Collins-street. They went into Collins House, and had tea together. Then followed a letter from Carroll to Mr. Jensen asking for employment. Lynch had already asked for employment. The letter asking for employment was simply a means to insure a meeting with the Minister. A few days later, Carroll presented his card at the Navy Office, and wrote upon it, “ Business - Shaw Wire- less.” One can see the blackmail at work. Cornwell and Lynch had been together. Lynch had met Carroll, and almost simultaneously the blackmailing of Mr. Jensen started. He, too, met Carroll. A day or two afterwards, Mr. Jensen, getting wind of how things were going, played the trick of secreting detectives at the Navy Office; and at a certain stage in his interview with Carroll, he introduced them to him. That is a point worth knowing.
Now, let me get back to my statement that all the evidence in regard to corrupt charges may be traced to Cornwell. He was foreman of Father Shaw’s works. Upon the death of Father Shaw, he took certain cheques to the bank to Mr. Willis, who informed him that on the preceding Saturday, Father Shaw had drawn ?5,300, which could not he traced. Cornwell, upon thinking the matter over, evidently, for some purpose of his own, must have desired to trace that money. I am of opinion that he anticipated some favours from Father Shaw - favours which he would probably have received had that gentleman not died suddenly. Lynch, in his evidence, admits having expected certain favours from Father Shaw, including a trip to America. But there is ?5,300 not accounted for and a works manager under the Commonwealth Government becomes a private investigation officer. He meets Miss Hoad. She visits his house. She tells him she has a letter in which it is stated that two members of the Parliament were to get ?2,000 each. A little while after that Cornwell writes to her. She meets him in Moorestreet, Sydney, and he introduces her to the secret commissioner. Her story is told. She has not Father Shaw’s- letter, but has quite a dramatic story to tell.
Honorable senators will find all that information in the secret exhibits. Cornwell has imputed corruption. Lynch has imputed the same; and Miss Hoad had a letter. If there was ?5,300 missing, is it not possible that Cornwell and Lynch put their heads together, assisted by this infamous Carroll, to blackmail certain people ?
I will turn to the evidence now, and will refer to the manner in which it was taken ; not the secret evidence, but evidence adduced in open Court - evidence which imputed dishonour to men against whom no charge of dishonour could be levelled. I will not call it evidence. It is a series of statements which have discredited the fair fame of a dead man. I propose to direct attention to the utterances of Cornwell; and honorable senators’ reputations, as well as those of Cornwell, are involved. I wish to put on record, first, some details with respect to Carroll’s character -
Mr. Starke. There is no objection to Mr. Cussen personally taking that document to examine it himself. Mr. Cussen asked me certain things about Carroll, and I propose, with the sanction of the Commission, to give him a statement made by Carroll on the 14th of May, also a statement made by Carroll, I think, on the 16th, on which he was examined by me. Also a statement of the transcript of Mr. Jensen’s interview with Carroll.
Mr. Cussen. I have got that; I want Carroll’s evidence if possible.
Mr. Starke. Here is his statement; is that what you mean?
Mr. Cussen. Yes.
Mr. Starke. I think you will find all the cross-examination I submitted him to established that we could not rely upon him at all. The result is that I have not felt it necessary to call him before the Commission in any way. If Mr. Jensen wishes him to be called, I will call him, if I can find him.
Mr. Cussen. I do not want any liars called before the Commission.
Mr. Starke. I was only just wanting to bring out he was utterly untruthful ; you could not believe him on his oath.
Mr. Cussen. I only wanted to know where I stood.
– We absolutely wiped his evidence out altogether.
Mr. Starke. Mr. Jensen knows all about it.
Mr. Cussen. He told me about it, but I wanted to clear the air.
Mr. Starke. The chairman told me he did not trust Mr. Carroll. He has not been called, because I took the responsibility of saying I could place no reliance on him.
Honorable senators will note thetype of man with regard to whom there are secret documents upon the files, showing how he endeavoured to impugn the reputations of honorable men, who did not know they were being attacked, and who were never given a chance of defending themselves.
– The War Precautions Act and internees over again !
– Justthe same kind of thing. I will now turn to the evidence of Miss Hoad.
– This was not secret evidence.
– This lady was first examined in secret; but it is only fair to say that I am now quoting from the official public documents, so the evidence is not secret. But the point I wish to make is that the man at whom this evidence was aimed was dead, and his friends knew nothing about the inquiry, and had no opportunity to defend his character. These Commissioners - the “ trusty and well beloved “ McBeath, Verco, and Taylor - were so keen upon business matters that they have degraded His Majesty’s commission. I am not saying that offensively; but I claim that, by taking such evidence as this, and publishing it, they have defamed the fair name of a dead man”. And any member of the Government who indorses the report of the Commission must accept that same condemnation. This was a business Commission. Let us see how it pursued its investigations. The brutality of the Hun scarcely exceeds this examination of a lady. I will quote from Miss Hoad’s evidence, as follows : -
Evie Prudence Hoad, sworn and examined.
By Mr. Starke. - What are you? - Manageress of the Jenolan Caves.
How long haveyou been manageress there? - About sixteen months.
Bid you know Father Shaw ? - Yes.
How long had you known him? - I do not know whether the end of March or the beginning of April, 1914.
Did you know anything of his wireless works? - I did not understand very much about it except what he told me about it. He often spoke to me about it.
Did he ever mention the matter of selling the works to the Government? - Yes.
Could you tell me when he mentioned that matter to you? -The first timehe ever spoke about it was in December - the December before he died.
That would be December, 1915? - Yes.
What did he say to you? - He was going to make munitions. I asked him whether he would make a success with it,and he said, “ If I don’t, I shall sell the works.”
Did he say anything more? - Yes. Nothing more about selling.
Did he ever speak to you again about it? - Yes.
When next can you remember? - I think it would be some time about the middle of February.
Where did he see you?-In Sydney.
At his works, or where? -At his works.
Did you go out to seehim at his works? - Yes.
Would you tell me what was said then? - He seemed to be downhearted because the munitions were about to close, and I asked him what he would do,” and he said he would sell the works.
Did you say anything? - Yes.
What did you say? - I asked him if he thought he would be able to sell them. He said he thought he would. He said he would getSenator Long and Mr. Jensen tohelp in the sale of the works.
Can you remember anything else then? - Either in February, 1916 - I would not be sure whether he said that then or when I came down towards the end of March to Sydney.
Did you go down to Sydney about March? - Yes, about the end of March.
Did you see Father Shaw again? - Yes.
Did he speak about the works again ? - Yes.
What was the conversation then as far as you can remember? - He said he was going to try and sell to the Government, that he would have a little trouble, he thought, but thought it would come off.
He said lots of things?- He said he would get Long and Jensen to work, and that he did not think he would have any trouble in getting them to sell.
Did he ever tell you the works were sold? - Yes.
When did he tell you that? - Just a little while before he died, he wrote and told me.
What date would that be about? - I got a letter on a Monday from him from Melbourne. He did not put any address.
Where is that letter? - I destroyed it a long time ago.
How did he address you? - By my christian name, Evie; as a matter of fact, he had a nickname for me, “ E–.” He said in that letter the works were sold, and he would soon be . back in Sydney. He said he had drawn a lot of money out of the bank - I am not sure of the amount, but I think he said between £6,000 and £7,000, and he said, “Long will probably get about £2,000 of it. Jensen about the same,” and there were some other names he mentioned that I cannot remember.
Have you thought over them since? - Yes. I could not remember them now.
Was there anything else in the letter you can remember? -I cannot think of anything else just now.
I will mention several names to you to see if they recall anything to you. Was. the name “Cresswell” mentioned.?-I wouldnot be sure whether it was mentioned in the letter, but he often spoke about Cresswell to me. I really could not remember what he said about him. I could not say if it was mentioned in the letter.
Was the. name of “ Russell “ mentioned ? - No. “ Gardiner “ ?- No ; I could not remember that.
Had those answers been different they would have impugned the reputation of men who knew nothing of such questions being put to a witness concerning themselves, who were not aware that an inquiry of such a nature was proceeding. Now let me show where the Commission, went off the track, and how it got away from the business side of its inquiry. And, by the way, I point to a discrepancy in the evidence of this lady. She swears that a letter from Father Shaw, written on a Sunday in Melbourne, was in her possession in Sydney on Monday. I do not know of any mail service which could make that possible. It may be held that this is only a slight discrepancy; but the fair fame and good reputation of a dead man rest upon such evidence.
– Can you do any good by pursuing that matter further ?
– Yes, because a lie - a cowardly libel -has been uttered, and silence on my. part would furnish no remedy. When I have done, there will have been placed before the country the fact that not only did the Commission take evidence of this nature, but that Commissioner McBeath permitted direct perjury under his very eyes and ears,, and failed to check it, and failed, moreover, to let the publicknow.I will prove that.
– I do not say that the honorable senator should not prove as much as he is able to do ; but what is the good of following this up ?
SenatorGARDINER.- I will prove that Cornwell came to help to spread a slander and launch a. libel. I will show by further evidence that, in regard to things which he swore positively occurred in Melbourne, he was at the same time in
Sydney.Should not facts such as those be brought to light?
– I am not questioning that.
– If I thought that to hold my peace would redeem the fair fame of a dead man. I would remain silent; but the slander has gone forth. I knewFather Shaw, but I am not a member of his church; and I am not ashamed of having known him.
Let us return to further consideration of the brutal questioning to which this lady,. Miss Hoad,was put -
What were the exact relations between you and Father Shaw?-He had asked me to marry him two years before he died, and he was just waiting until he got everything settled up.
Cross-examined byMr. Cussen. - How long had you known him? - My father had known him since he was a boy. I knew him since March orApril, 1913 or 1914.
And was it in 1914 he asked you to marry him? - Yes.
He was then a priest, as you understood? - Yes.
And still remained in the church? - Yes. He said he would leave the church as soon as he could. As a matterof fact, he asked me several times to marry him secretly; but, of course, I would not do that.
And he still remained a priest of the church ? -I suppose so.
Your relations were of the utmost intimacy, were they not?- What do you mean by that?
Sexual intercourse tookplace between you? - No.
That was an emphatic answer. Here is a business Commission pursuing a business inquiry; and, without one scintilla of evidence, except a woman’s uncorroborated statement, it defames the name of a dead man by publishing such evidence. It will be seen how all this witness’s womanly instincts revolted at the brutal course which the Commission was pursuing; And McBeath, “the trusty and well beloved “ Commissioner, degrades His Majesty’s Commission by pursuing an inquiry of that nature. And will the “ trusty and well beloved” Executive advisers of His Majesty continue the degradation by allowing records such as these to remain in the archives of the Commonwealth ?
I will pass now to the worse than libel -the perjury of Cornwell; and I will prove that that man’s perjury was directed to the very same purpose, namely, the defamation of the memory of a dead man. Here is Mr.Cornwell’s evidence -
By Mr. Cussen. - In this report it is said on the Monday night before Father Shaw was taken ill there were two girls in his room. What does that refer to? Was it a fact that two girls were in his room? - Yes.
During the night? - I could not say that.
There is a suggestion that merely two girls were inhis bedroom, or was it that he was misconducting himself with the girls? - The girls werein his roomthat evening.
What did you infer from it? - I thought there was misconduct there, yes.
Do you know who the girls are? - No.
Does anybody else know ? -I do not know.
I appeal to honorable senators to read the evidence, and carefully note the answers, and then remember that Cornwell was in Sydney, while the late Father Shaw was in Melbourne. The Commission also were aware of this fact, although they never took any steps to check this evidence, upon the strength of which this infamous scandal has been published broadcast throughout Australia.
– Did they know that Cornwell was in Sydney at that time?
– That is a pertinent question, so I shall read more of the evidence.
– Did Cornwell give that evidence as something of his own personal knowledge?
– I ask honorable senators to read the evidence for themselves. Here it is. They will see that the chairman appeared to be desirous of giving; instead of getting, information -
– I might say that the Commission were very anxious, as indeed they are now, to trace this matter, and when we heard that Father Shaw was taken ill, and Senator Long made some suggestion about foul play, the secretary of the Commission communicated with the police, and we had Father Shaw’s movements traced from the time he took ill on the Monday, rather from the time he got the money on the Saturday. We got the report that he had had those women in his room, and also another man,. Carter, was named.
Mr. Cussen. Has Carter been traced ?
– Yes, and examined.
Mr. Cussen. Have the girls been found?
– Yes, the police have reported to the Commission.
Are they reputable women, or disreputable?
Mr. Cussen. And is this Carter a reputable man,or disreputable?
– Here is Carter’s statement. We found thatCarter was a man very hardup, and had pawned his watch very soon after Father Shaw died. . We have the fullest statement.
Mr.Cussen. That is substantially all the information I want.
– If you would like to see the police file it is available.
Here is a portion of Cornwell’s evidence dealing with his last interview with Shaw - .
Did he at any time before his death tellyou to whom he had disbursed any money ? - No.
Did he tell you whether he had in fact disbursed any money? - No.
When did you see him last? - I saw him last on 17th July,1916.
That was a month before Father Shaw died. I appeal to the Government that this is a most serious matter. Here is a witness who has sworn certain evidence about Father Shaw, and, in another part of his examination, admits that he had not seen Father Shaw for a month before he died. The Commission have allowed the fair fame of that man to be maligned when they had knowledge that the evidence was unreliable. If the Government permit this report to become an official document - if they do not withdraw it - I can only express my disgust at such a disgraceful method of conducting evidence.
I am not raging about McBeath. He may have undertaken a job he did not understand. He may have thought it was his duty to pursue this inquiry into the personal character of certain individuals in this way. But I ask: Is this practice to continue? I said earlier in the course of my remarks that wehad taken one step along a very dangerous path, or that we had jumpedback to the Dark Ages of the Star Chamber, with the result that even the dead are not exempt from the calumny of perjurers. I would not like my character to be besmirched by evidence of this nature. And, mark you, the man does not live whose character is sohigh as tobe free of the menace that one day he might he held up to ridicule and contempt on the evidence of the most degraded and most disreputable being in the community. This is the reason why I have spoken to-night. This evidence is before the Government, and I say that the matter cannot stop where it is. It has gone either too far or not far enough. Let there be the fullest inquiry into the value of these works. . Let the Government select, not an expensive Royal Commission, but three competent men, and get their opinion as to the plant. The stores may have gone, but the books will show the turnover of the property, and the amount it has earned. Let them express an opinion as to whether the property was worth the money given for it.
Then, as regards the method of taking evidence, I say, let the Government submit all the exhibits and all the evidence, as well as the manner in which it was taken, to their advisers, and let them act as honorable men should act. I impugn not the Government. They are responsible for the appointment of the Commission, but they cannot be held responsible for the manner in which it conducted its business. As an amendment I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “and that an address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General, informing him that the Senate records its disapproval of -
the method of obtaining evidence;
the manner of taking evidence; and (c) declares that the report is against the weight of evidence, and calculated to bring His Majesty’s Commissioninto disrepute, ridicule, and contempt.”
Let me conclude my remarks by saying that in the limited time at my disposal I have not been able to read the whole of the evidence; but yet, on going through the exhibits and perusing so much of the evidence Ihave been able to read, I recognise that a new system of judicial inquiry has arisen. Already, as the result of the evidence taken at this secret inquiry, one public man has lost his position. Is that not punishment? Senator Pearce to-day gave his version of the interviewwhich he had with Mr. Jensen. He was quite right to explain his position. I am not defending Mr. Jensen. Senator Long I cannot refer to, because of the statement made by the Government that his case is still under consideration by the legal authorities. But Senator Long has spoken himself in this Chamber, and I do not desire to say anything with regard to his remarks.
I have taken much time to do three things -
The Commission knew this man was speaking, not of his own personal knowledge, but from a police report . Upon these three questions I earnestly urge the Government to carefully reconsider this report. They will have time beforethe Senate meets again, and I feel that even my statements are sufficiently serious to warrant consideration. And being so serious, I need not expect a reply tonight.
Let me conclude by saying that, as far as the Hughes Government was concerned, not only didwe inquire into the exact value of these works before they were purchased, but the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) will bear me out when I say that we had depleted Australia of the weapons we would have been called upon to use had. Australia been attacked at that time. Here was an opportunity to secure a wellequipped plant - aplant capable of turning out 18-pounder guns, shells, and other munitions. I may add that we had already commandeered portion of this machinery, in order to increase the output ofrifles. With all these facts before them, the Government decided to purchase the works. Imagine a man, in such circumstances, being called to the bar of public justice to answer for his action. I have answered for the Hughes Labour Government, which for two years of the war administered the affairs of this country in a manner that willbear favorable comparison with that of any later Government. I have not regarded this matter as a personal one;but I have spoken feelingly because of the imputation contained in the report of theRoyal Commission that the purchase of the works was a blunder. I say it was a good bargain. I challenge any one to prove that it was not a good bargain. The value still stands. It cannot be questioned. And I emphasize the fact that its value to the Commonwealth was infinitely greater when Australia was threatened with invasion. That Australia was not attacked was due to the fact that the tide of war turned the other way, and the menace passed. But, I may ask, did not theGovernment carry out any other great undertakings without consulting subordinate officials? Did not the Hughes Government spend nearly £2,000,000in the purchase of shipping? And on that occasion did we ask the advice of the Navy whether we could do so or not? If the war had ended within three months, any fool in the country could have risen and branded us as business bunglers. But the war lasted long enough for those ships to pay for themselves, and this business Commission will not inquire into that transaction. I have no feud against business men. Like other men, they are right enough in their own sphere, but, as , this Commission has demonstrated, if business men get outside their own sphere they are capable of doing things which are a discredit and a disgrace to them. I have no more to say, except to thank honorable senators for their attention.
Debate (on motion by Senator de Largie) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from page 9755) :
Clause 4 -
Section seventy-two , of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections 3 to 6 inclusive and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: -
the minimum payment for duty performed by any officer on a holiday; and
that the performance by an officer on a holiday occurring on or after the 1st day of July, 1918, of duty commencing at or after a prescribed hour of commencement, or terminating at or before a prescribed hour of termination, shall not be deemed to be the performance of duty on a holiday.
This section shall have effect notwithstanding the provisions of any award madeby the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911.”
Upon which Senator Russell . had moved -
That the following words be added to the clause: - “This section shall not commence until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and nineteen.”
– I propose to withdraw my amendment, with a view to proposing other amendments. The main debate has centred round the fact that certain of the provisions of the Bill are retrospective in character. I have ascertained the facts in connexion with the dispute in the Court, and have had anopportunity of perusing the recent remarks of Mr. Justice Powers. As a result, I propose omitting from the Bill all words that make it retrospective in character. If the amendments I intend to propose are agreed to, the provisions of this measure will not affect any cases in the Courts at the present time. To give effect to what I propose, I ask leave of the Committee to withdraw my present amendment.
Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following words be left out: - ” (a) the minimum payment for duty per formed by any officer on a holiday; and (b)
As honorable senators will remember, Senator McDougall’s amendment providing for half -a-d ay’s pay was agreed to. That being so, the words which I propose to omit have become quite unnecessary.
– Are we to understand that the Government accept the position as stated by Mr. Justice Powers, and by the report of the Board of Reference ?
– What I propose will leave the matter entirely in the hands of the Court.
-i have looked through the proposed amendments, and I find that they carry out what I desire.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment(by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the following words be left but: - “oc curring on or after the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and eighteen.”
SenatorLt. -Colonel BOLTON (Victoria) [10.50]. - I should like to know what is the position of temporary employees in connexion with holidays? I am informed that quite a number of returned soldiers areemployed temporarily in the PublicService, and that they receive no consideration in the matter of holidays, even though their services may extend over a year. I think that they have some claims for consideration. Is the Minister in a position to give the Committee any information on the subject?
– The temporary hands referred to are provided for under special conditions, and willnot come under this Bill in any shape or form.
.- Do they now get any holidays?
– Yes, they do.
– Colonel Bolton. - I am informed that they do not.
– I am informed that after twelve months’ service they get twelve days’ leave of absence.
– They must have twelve months’ service before they get any holidays.
– No; they get the ordinary public holidays, and after twelve months’ service they are entitled to twelve days’ leave.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment . (by Senator Russell) agreed to-
That sub-clause (8) be left out.
– I move-
That the following words be added to the clause: - “This section shall not commence until the first day of January, One thousand ninehundred and nineteen.”
This is to make theoperation of the Bill commence with the New Year. It is not desired to interfere with the ordinary course of procedure during the ensuing Christmas holidays.
– I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that this will not interfere with any claim that may have accrued under the existing Act.
– No; the whole matter will be left entirely to the Arbitration Court, and such other Courts as the Service organizations care to appeal to. Cases are now before the Court, and we do not propose to interfere with them in any shape or form:
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause5 (No payment for certain concession holidays allowed by Minister).
– In keeping with the statement I have made to the Committee, that it is intended to leave the decision in these matters to the Arbitration Court, I ask the Committee to negative this clause.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Senator MILLEN. (New South Wales -
Minister for Repatriation) [10.57.]. - I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill to appropriate £23,624,914 for the service of the year ending 30th June, 1919. Of this amount £10,112,140 has already been approved by the Senate in Supply Bills. Of the total amount of £23,624,914, a sum of £13,811,378 is required for ordinary services, and £9,813,536 for war. The amount for -war services is, of course, required mainly for war pensions, to pay interest to the British Government on indebtedness of the Commonwealth in connexion with the maintenance of Australian troops at the Front, and for the repatriation of our soldiers..
The estimated revenue for the year is £45,375,591, and the expenditure out of revenue, £45,344,595-. ‘The: revenue- includes £3,905,091, balance brought forward from 1917-18, and also the following amounts estimated to be .received from additional taxation -
It. also includes a sum. ‘of £800,000 being transferred from’ London funds. These j.re funds which have accumulated in London in anticipation of the supply ‘of goods, which, however, have not been supplied, and are not likely to- foe shipped for months, and possibly years. The’ moneys are therefore available for trans1 fer back’ to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
As regards the larger expenditure’ estimated to be made out of revenue compared with the amount of the Appropriation. Act, it will, of course, be understood that large amounts are payable out off revenue as special appropriations, the amount for 1918-19 being; -
The estimated expenditure of £45,344,595 includes £454,951 for new works already appropriated.
In connexion with the criticism which has been made of the Government as regards the heavy expenditure of the Commonwealth, it should be mentioned that. after the estimates of expenditure were finally revised by the Departments, they were reduced- by the Treasurer .as follows: -
The total under the head of War Expenditure out of- loan and revenue up to 30th June, 1918, and the estimated total up to the end of 1918-19, may be summarized as follows: -
The public debt of the Commonwealth at 30th June, 1918, was £284,022y072. Of this amount £245,467,006 is accounted for by loans raised for war purposes, and our indebtedness to the Government of the United Kingdom for the maintenance^ Asc., of the Australian Imperial Force to the same date. In September last a further loan - the .seventh - was issued. The subscriptions to this loan totalled £44,029,130. A further loan of £4,750,000 was also raised by the Commonwealth in London for the States in August last. Allowing for these loans and for minor transactions, of the .public debt, the total public debt at the 30th November was £332,615,059. This includes the total of subscriptions- to the seventh War Loan, although’ some of the instalments pf that loan are still outstanding.
War pensions in force at 13 th December, 1918, numbered 145j538,” representing an annual liability “of £4,394,776. The expenditure .in 1917-18 was £2,772,220, an- increase of £1,622,968 over the previous year. A further increase of £2,227,790 is expected this financial year. Provision is accordingly made for £5,000,000. The average fortnightly rates of pension granted to date are £1 16s. in the case of incapacitated soldiers, and £11s. 2d. in the case of dependants.
– It is exceedingly unfair of the Government to delay the presentation of these accounts until this moment. It is contemplated that Parliament will rise for a recess, probably to-morrow, and it is quite unfair to ask us to pass.Estimates for over £13,000,000 with only a few moments’ consideration. I trust this is the last time the Government will do this. Parliament has a right to have ample time placed at its disposal, and senators, individually and collectively, should be in a position to express their opinions about the way in which the taxation wrung from the people is expended. A very profitable discussion could take place regarding the expenditure on the naval works at the Henderson and Flinders Bases, and on a variety of other sources of expenditure. I regret that the Government did not bring the Bill forward earlier so as to give the Chamber an opportunity of expressing its opinions fully and freely on the expenditure of this vast sum. I content myself at this moment with expressing my desire that on the next occasion they will give us a week or a fortnight to discuss a measure of this magnitude.
.- I shall be glad if the Minister (Senator Millen) would agree to the adjournment of the debate. If the whole Bill is going through . to-night we shall require an opportunity to discuss it. I am rather in a difficulty, because I do not know how far the Minister intends to go at this late hour.
– If the honorable senator resumes his seat now, I shall rule that he has already spoken on the motion for the second reading, and certainly shall not allow him to speak again.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £13,512,774).
– I wish to enter my strongest possible protest against what is going on in the Senate to-night. This Bill authorizing the expenditure of, as set out in this clause, at least £13,000,000 has just been placed in our hands, and it is not fair to expect honorable senators, who have been sitting early and late, to deal with it now. It is not showing proper respect to honorable senators.
– Order ! The honorable senator is not discussing clause 2.
– I shall content myself with entering my strongest possible protest against theway in which it is attempted to jamb the business through at this late hour of the night. There will be more time to discuss it to-morrow.
– The honorable senator is not in order. The time for him to enter his protest was on the second reading. The discussion in Committee must be confined to the clause before the Committee.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.,
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule :
The Parliament, £41,115, agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £187,177.
– Do the Government intend to continue the Commonwealth line of steamers, for, which a sum of £13,555 is appropriated under this Department, now that the war is over ? Personally, I hope they will, and shall be glad if they can see their way to establish a main line of steamers between here and England. I am notasking for a Government monopoly of shipping, but it would be a good thing if we had at least one line of mailboats carrying our mails from here to Great Britain. It would take the place of the Orient line when the contract with them is finished. I have not a word to say against the Orient Company, whose vessels have done their work well and given a very fine service. I hope that it will be a long timebefore we see the
German flag flying from anyvessel in Australian waters, though, of course, we hope to see the French flag here again. In my opinion, Australian boats should carry our mails One way. There would be the Peninsular and Oriental, or some other lines, working in with them as before. I should like to know whether the Government have considered this matter.
.- The interest of Senator Thomas in the Commonwealth line of steamers is well known, and of long duration. I remind him that it is only within the past few weeks that the alteration of circumstances brought about by the cessation of hostilities has made what he suggests possible, and within that period the Government has had no opportunity to seriously address itself to the subject. It is, however, one of the matters that will be taken into consideration as early in the recess as that can be done conveniently.
.- I suggest that the Government, now that hostilities have ceased, might well reconsider its shipbuilding programme. The price that it has contracted to pay for wooden vessels is a war price that is altogether out of the question in peacetime, and the vessels themselves will not be needed. I understand that there are three keels laid down, but that it is impossible to get the labour that is needed, and under present conditions the vessels will not be afloat for years. I have already spoken of the need for organizing labour for this work, but nothing has been done. A skilled mechanic cannot be brought into existence by a wave of the hand. Men have to be taught, and it takes years to learn the shipwright’s trade. I believe that we are paying £32 per ton to have wooden vessels built which, when they are built, will not be worth £12 per ton; indeed, they will be obsolete and useless. My suggestion tothe Government is that’ it should get expert advice, and not throw the taxpayers’ money away. We are told that seventy vessels will be on their way to Australia before very long, and we may soon have more than we need. I should like to see the steel shipbuilding industry established here, but wooden ships are out of date. Ministers might well consider whether they cannot break the contracts which have been made for the building of wooden vessels, or, at least, see thatno more such vessels are laid down.
.- I should like the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to give us an indication of the value of the contracts that have been let for the building of wooden ships, and to tell us whether there is a clause in the agreement which will allow the contracts to be terminated subject to arbitration as to compensation.
.- The matter to which Senator McDougall has referred has been occupying the attention of the Acting Minister for the Navy (Mr. Poynton) since the definite suspension of hostilities, and no doubt before long he will place the result of his investigations before the Cabinet. I hope to be able to supply within a few minutes the figures asked for by Senator Grant.
– Can the Minister give us information regarding the salaries totalling £1,339 set down for the manager, engineer, and assistant connected with the Port Pirie wharf ? I understandthat some machinery has been erected on the wharf for the coaling of vessels, but that it has not proved so effective as hand coaling.
– The item referred to makes provision for the staff of the coal -loading apparatus at Port Pirie.
– I understand that the Commonwealth line of steamers has paid for itself. It has been carrying wheat for the farmers at 4s. per bushel, but freights have now been reduced by 25 per cent., and I hope will soon be reduced again by 50 per cent. Even then they willbe much higher than pre-war freights. The rural industries would get an immense lift if we could provide that the farmers would make another 2s. per bushel from their wheat. That might be done by reducing the freights on wheat carried on the Commonwealth ships. As those ships havenow paid for themselves, they could carry freights very cheaply.
The future of Australia depends on the profits made from our primary productions, and if, before the NewYear, we could assure the farmers of anything up to 6s. per bushel for their wheat, there would be an immense increase in production next year, and an immense increase in the national wealth. I do not suggest that we should take money out of the pockets of the taxpayers. What I say is that if our ships have paid for themselves, we can he content with freights that will cover working expenses, andthus allow rural produce to be carried at the cheapest rates possible.
– The Commonwealth line of steamers carry only an insignificant part of our exported produce.
– We are told that a fleet of seventy vessels is coming to Australia.
– They are not Commonwealth vessels.
– They are under Commonwealth control. Before the war, wheat was carried for from 19s. 6d. to 30s.6d. per ton, or from6½d, to 10½d. per bushel. The Commonwealth vessels have earned enough to pay for themselves by carrying wheat for £7 10s. per ton, or for over 4s perbushel.
– They have made their profit, not by carrying out wheat, but by carrying munitions in other parts of the world.
– We have sent away 190,000 tons of wheat and 23,000 tons of flour. Comparing war rates with pre-war rates, our ships earned at least £5 per ton more for carrying wheat during the war than they could have earned before the war. It would give a big inducement to the farmers to increase their area of cultivation if we made our freights only just high enough to cover working expenses.
– What is the good of cheap freights when the men needed to handle the wheat ask as much for their labour as is obtained for the wheat?
– The cost of wheat handling is so small that it does notenter into the calculation ; but the sooner wehave up-to-date appliances for handling wheat the better it will be for us. Our fleetof fif teen or sixteen vessels has paid for itself by carrying wheat, and has made a profit of £1,000,000.
– And two of the steamers have been lost.
.- Of course, everybody would like to see the farmer gets his wheat carried cheaply, and carried for nothing, if that were possible. But I would point out that the Government are dealing not unfairly by the farmers in regard to the very ships to which the honorable senator has referred. Quite recently these vesselscould have earned £15 per ton, instead of which they were utilized in bringing cornsacks to Australia for £5 per ton. A loss of £10 per ton was thus incurred in order to give the farmers of this country bags at a cheaperrate than would otherwise have been possible. Still more recently these boats refused , a further offer of £15 per ton in order that they might carry wheat at £8 per ton. Inconnexion with these vessels the Government have adopteda policy which is in vogueonthe railways - a policy under which, whilst not losing sight ofthe commercial side of things,endeavours to givesubstantial aid to those who are engaged inour rural industries.
Proposed vote agreedto.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £944,984.
– In regard to the payment of increments to public servants, I amin receipt of acircular which Ishould like to read. It says -
During recent years the long delays in deal ing with the Estimates have been responsible for theholding up ofincrements in the higher classes of the Public Service until the money was voted by Parliament.
In respect of automatic or statutory increments, however, it has been the custom to pay the amount ofthe increment from the date upon which the officer became entitled to it, evidently on the presumption that the officers of the Service on lower salaries - to whom statutory increments in general apply - would be harshly treated in beingdeprived of their increments for any length of time.
In connexion with theEstimates for the financial year 1918-19, however,a decision has been circulated by the Department of. the Treasury to the effect that increases in salaries provided for in the Estimates may be paid before the Estimates are passed only in those cases where the salary will not be increased beyond £200 per annum, and where the increase is automatic under Act, regulation, or Arbitration Court award.
In the majority of the services of the Commonwealth automatic increments extend be- yond £200 per annum either by Act, regulation, or Arbitration Court award, and an officer cannot be legally deprived of his increase unless it is proved that his conduct, diligence, or efficiency is unsatisfactory.
– Order! I understand that the document which the honorable senator desired to quote was a brief one.
– Then I should like an assurance from the Treasurer that when these increments are due they will be paid.
– I desire to ascertain from the Government what they propose doing with the Blythe River iron option. AsI understand the position, it is that the Blythe River iron mine has been offered to them for £110,000, through Sir John Higgins, who is himself to receive a commission of £10,000. If he obtains that commission he is prepared to allow it to be utilized in founding a scholarship which will be associated with his name. I understand that the Government have given £3,000 for the option, and intend getting experts from England and America to report upon these iron deposits. I know that Mr. Darby, a recognised expert, was brought out by Mr. Griffith, a member of the New South Wales Ministry, for the very same purpose, and that he turned the proposition down.
– The Tasmanian Geologist is in the locality now making a very exhaustive examination for. the purpose of supplementing other exhaustive examinations of the deposits which have been made.
– This is a company which has been hawked about for a considerable time. I understand that Sir John Higgins attempted to float it in England, and that he was to receive £10,000 commission had he been successful.
– When was that?
– I have read the statement made in the newspapers. I do not suggest that because Sir John Higgins was unable to float a company in England that the proposition is not a good one. But we have men in Australia associated with the iron industry, and if the property is so very valuable it seems strange that they have not seen their way to take it up. That fact, however, does not necessarily imply that the proposition is a bad one. I wish to know whether the Government intend to take up the option, and what they propose doing with these deposits if the expertswho report upon them affirm that they represent a good proposition. In such circumstances, do the Government intend running them as iron mines, and are they going to erect smelting works there?
– I know nothing whatever about the Blythe River iron deposits, but what struck me in the remarks of Senator Thomas was that these deposits have been offered to the Government by a gentleman who is a Government official.
– He does not propose to make any money out of them.
– That does not matter. It. is a most dangerous thing for a Government official to have any trafficking with the Government at the present time. Sir John Higgins, ought to relinquish any connexion with the Government beforehe approaches Ministers in regard to the sale of a mine. I make that statement upon general principles.
– It must be obvious to honorable senators that it is not correct to refer to Sir John Higgins as a Government official, if by that term it is implied that he is a paid official.He is only in the position of a gentleman who, without fee or reward, gives the benefit of his advice to the Government.
– He volunteers his services as a contribution to our war effort, I understand.
– Yes; he is simply an adviser of the Government. When the Government need advice, they are like the patient who goes to a doctor. But this particular doctor is serving us for nothing. Consequently, he cannot be regarded in any sense of the term as a public official.
– Doctors do not give advice free.
– They do not. I cannot see any reason why the Government should not accept advice from those who are best qualified to offer it. Honorable senators who know anything about Sir John Higgins and his commercial abilities, must recognise that he has made a very substantial contribution to the war effort of this country by giving his time and services to the Government during a period of considerable stress, when by means of his attainments he could have added very much to his wealth.
Senator Thomas has asked what are the reasons which have induced the Government to acquire this particular option. In reply, let me say that the Government recognise that we have already started the iron industry in Australia upon a fairly big scale as an initial effort. We also recognise that it is highly undesirable that that industry should be allowed to grow up as a monopoly. Whatever may be said of a State monopoly,nobody doubts that there would be a considerable danger if we permitted this industry to develop into a private monopoly. When this proposition was submitted to us, the Government, realizing the tremendous possibilities ahead if anticipations were realized, thought it would be an excellent thing if by securing this option and thoroughly testing the mine, they could possess something which private persons might afterwards come in and take, or which the Government themselves might decide to work. We have acquired the option without any fixed policy as to what shall be done if we act upon that option. At present, the Government are endeavouring to supplement the information which has already been obtained. They are utilizing the services of local experts, so that it is possible that it may not be necessary to engage experts from the other side of the world
– Does the Minister refer to the Tasmanian Government Geologist (Mr. Twelvetrees) ? I understand that he is on the Blythe River field at present.
– The Government have availed themselves of the services of, amongst others, a Tasmanian expert, who will make full examination of the deposits, and will possibly select samples to be sent to England rather than that experts should be brought out from Europe to Australia. The Government will be guided by the information presented from that source, and will have regard also to existing circumstances in framing a future course of action.
– I know the Blythe River district well. The Tasmanian Government have withdrawn from selection by prospectors all of the many large areas in their State which are presumed to contain iron ore deposits. The Blythe River deposits are by no means a new discovery. Substantial efforts, by way of prospecting, were made years ago, even before the railway was extended along the North-West Coast, from Ulverstone to Burnie. One of the great advantages of the Blythe River field is that it is within the immediate vicinity of the northern seaboard of Tasmania. The State authorities have from time to time caused examinations to be made of these deposits. Withregard to Mr. Twelvetrees, he has occupied high positions in Russia. He has been engaged upon mines in Turkey -in-Asia, and in other parts of the world, and isfamed as a petrologist throughout the world. The Commonwealth Government are wise in that they have decided upon a substantial examination of the deposits; and, asI have indicated, that policy has been supplemented by the Tasmanian authorities, in that all important iron deposits throughout the State have been withdrawn, temporarily, at any rate, from the attentions of prospectors and speculators. It may seem a remarkable thing that a deposit, such as the Blythe River field, has not already been exploited by capitalists ; but it should be remembered that to open up an iron mine costs a huge sum of money.
– Reference has been made to Sir John Higgins having hawked the Blythe River proposition in England. I have always taken great interest in matters having to do with the iron industry, and, if that information is correct, it has unaccountably escaped my attention. I can only believe that Senator Thomas’ information is not well founded. Any one who has made himself acquainted with the subject at all will know that the Blythe River deposits are among the best in Australia. The Tasmanian Government Geologist is not the only expert who has favorably reported upon that field. The Western Australian Government Geologist (Mr. Jacquet) investigated the Blythe River field some twenty years ago, and reported glowingly upon it. ‘
– I desire attention to an item of £1,500, under the heading of “ unforeseen expenses.” There is also one other item, regarding which I desire information. A year or two ago the advances to the Treasurer totalled £200,000. A modest little sum of £1,000,000 is now set down. What are the purposes of that amount ?
– Concerning the purposes of the item, “ Unforeseen ‘ expenditure,” the title itself is sufficiently indicative. It is to give the Department a sum upon which to draw against unforeseen, contingencies. For example, it might be decided to conduct a State funeral.- It would not be possible to set out’ in the Estimates, beforehand, the name of the worthy citizen whose remains were to be so honoured. With regard, also, to arrivals of distinguished visitors, it is only right that they should be worthily and officially entertained ; and it is - to meet contingencies such as those. that this amount of £1,500 is set down .
Proposed vote agreed to.
Attorney-General’s Department, £74,582, agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Proposed vote, £542,973.
– I draw attention again to the fact that we are not doing very much for the development of the Northern Territory. I am in fairly frequent communication with persons in the Territory, and reports received from that source have not been particularly creditable either to the Government or to anybody else. No attempt has been made to remedy the very unsatisfactory state of affairs existing there. Only within the past fortnight T have received communications complaining bitterly of the administration in certain directions. I communicated with the Minister, as I always do, as I have no desire to go into unnecessary details in the Senate; but I hope that during the’ coming recess, the Government will do something practical. It is a matter for regret to” those who take an interest in the Northern Territory to know that since the Commonwealth took over the control of that tremendous area practically nothing has been done to develop it. It is true that a section of railway has been constructed at the northern end, but nothing has been done so far to facilitate communication and induce settlement. I noticed by to-night’s paper that the dissatisfaction there has become so acute that the Administrator has been assaulted. . This is a frightful state of affairs. It almost suggests that we are drifting into the condition of some of the South -American Republics, where, when they become, tired of a President, they assassinate him. One does not take so much notice of fighting between individuals in the streets - and -in Port Darwin streets you can get as much fighting as you like: - but it is a very serious matter indeed when the Administrator is publicly assaulted.
The expenditure on the Federal Capital site is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. I notice that in another place an attack has been made on the Government for what is termed lavish expenditure of public money. My inclinations are not in that direction. My. complaint is that, the Government are not spending sufficient money in certain directions, and I am afraid that parliamentarians are apt to pay too much attention to -agitation which originates in Melbourne as to the expenditure on the Federal Capital site. It is the policy of the Melbourne newspapers to protest against the removal of the Commonwealth Parliament to Canberra, and .if by alarming the people of
Victoria and Australia about expenditure at the Federal Capital they can influence the Government, their object will be achieved. I am anxious that work at the Federal Capital site should be gone on with. And, in connexion with this matter, there was a strange incident a few days ago. Certain members in another place led an attack upon the Government for what they termed lavish expenditure of public money, but the very next day the same gentlemen sought to press the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Glynn) to spend more money on Federal Capital works. I am supposed to be a member of the Territories League, but my political conscience was not sufficiently elastic to induce me to join in that deputation, which is, as I have said, comprised of members who the previous day were protesting against public expenditure. A considerable amount of money has already been spent on roads in the Federal Capital Territory and I am sorry to say that these roads are now being washed away by floods.
Another reason why we should not shut down altogether on all public works expenditure is the factthat we shall shortly have large numbers of soldiers returning, and if works are not authorized there will be lack of employment, which would be a serious matter. There is another unfortunate feature of this economy craze among a certain section of the people to which, I regret to say, the Government are giving way. During the period when public works were being proceeded with, the Government gathered together a staff second to none in Australia. These men, the best the States could produce, were drawn from the various State services, but, owing to the policy of economy, many of them have been dismissed from the Works and Navy Departments. This is a most serious matter, because in the future when the people will assuredly demand that these Commonwealth works shall be recommenced, it will be extremely difficult to replace those men who are being dismissed , and are scattering throughout the length and breadth of Australia. When it is desired to secure the services of professional men, those who are in reasonably good positions with private em ployers, or the State Governments, will not be attracted to the Commonwealth Service, in view of this fear that, in the course of a few years, the Government, again acting under pressure from the press, will once more initiate a policy of economy.
In the Northern Territory it is essential that some scheme for local government should be inaugurated, so that the people up there will have some right to regard themselves as citizens of the Commonwealth. At present they are practically outcasts. They have no vote, and no connexion with the Commonwealth, though they are called upon to pay taxation. It is time the Government gave serious attention to this matter.
– Some time ago I drew attention to. the condition of the hotels in the Northern Territory, as the result of information received by me from a number of travellers, who represented that the accommodation there was most inadequate. I think, on that occasion, Senator Russell stated that my information was not altogether correct, and that a certain sum of money had been spent by the Government in improving the hotels. Since then I have met a number of friends from the Territory, and they have assured me that the conduct of the State hotels there is anything but satisfactory. I also took the trouble to write to friends in Port Darwin, and have obtained some photographs of these hotels, which I shall forward to the Minister. One hotel seems to be rather a flash affair; but I understand that, on last year’s trading, it lost approximately £6,000. The other two hotels, judging by the photographs, are little better than broken-down “ humpies,” but I am informed that they showed a profit of £19,000. I think the Government should utilize some of this huge profit in an honest endeavour to provide better accommodation. I would suggest that these two hotels be pulled down, and decent places built. I hope the Minister will give the matter attention, and that some steps will be taken to remove the grounds for complaint.
Sitting suspended from 12.15 to1 a.m. (Friday).
Senator Lt.-Colonel O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) [1 a.m.].- Senator Newland has made a reference to a disturbance that has occurred in the Northern Territory, and I find from the press that certain telegrams with respect to it have been censored. It is important that we should receive accurate information about the Northern Territory. If we are to be allowed to receive only such information as the Government or their officers choose to let through we shall not be in a position to deal with questions affecting the Territory on their merits. We hadan assurance that the censorship has been removed except in regard to two matters - the employment of troops, and our relations with our Allies. I should like to ask whether the disturbance which occurred in the Northern Territory affects either of those relations in any way. If not, why have these telegrams been censored?
– Have the Government given any consideration to the question of providing the people of the Northern Territory with direct parliamentary representation ?
– With reference to the general survey of affairs in the Northern Territory by Senator Newland, I can only say that I will have a copy of the honorable senator’s remarks sent to the Minister responsible for the administration of the Territory. In reply to Senator Foll’s remarks on the subject of the State hotels, I have to say that in recent times £13,000 have been spent on the hotels, and they are now in a much better condition than the honorable senator has described. In reply to Senator O’Loghlin it is true that a couple of telegrams sent from the Northern Territory were temporarily withheld, but have since been released as the condition of affairs does not appear to be so serious as was at first supposed.
.- Are the telegrams available now?
– Yes, they are in the press.
– I shall bring Senator Grant’s proposition under the notice of the Cabinet for consideration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,605,138.
– I desire at the close of the session to impress on the Minister for Defence the fact that, for all practical purposes, the war is over. In the internment camp there are a number of people who have not been brought to trial and found guilty of any offence, and they should not be detained any longer. The Minister stated recently that there are thirty-eight Australian-born persons interned. There can be no question of the deportation of any of these men, as they cannot be deported from their own country under any ordinary law. What is the use of keeping them interned any longer? It may be said that it is necessary to do so for the public safety until peace is signed. Many of these men have been interned because of injudicious and unwise things they have said. I have in mind one man of some wealth,a land-owner, Australian-born, of German parents, who resided in the Albury district. Since the last conscription referendum he has been interned with two Germans. His parents were Germans, but he was himself a man who occupied in the Albury district, even after the war started, a very prominent position as President of the local Shire Council. He is a man against whom I venture to say, in the early period of the war, nothing could be urged. The Government owe much to his assistance in dealing with a district in which there are a great many German settlers. The Minister for Defence, I am sure, knows the man to whom I am referring.
– He is being released.
– Then I shall say no more.
– On the question which Senator Gardiner has raised, I should like to say that the Government recognise that in the present circumstances many of these cases can be reviewed. They wear a different complexion to-day to what they wore while the war was proceeding. The case which Senator Gardiner has mentioned, and whichI know, because the honorable senator corresponded with me in connexion with it, is one of these cases. With a number of others it has been reviewed within the last few days, and instructions have been issued for the release of the man referred to. The cases of Australian-born internees are under review in the same way. Speaking from memory, I do not know of any Australianborn internees who, for any reason, should be deported.
– I invite the attention of the Minister for Defence .to the fact that there are forty or fifty members of the Australian Imperial Force locked up in Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, because they have committed some military offence. I have in mind in particular the case of one. man who enlisted, and was for a considerable time in camp at Liverpool. During his stay there he was unwell, and for three months Was in hospital suffering from a wounded hand. He was of opinion, that he was of no further use to the military, and when he was able to leave the hospital he openly handed in all property belonging to the Defence Department and walked out of the camp. ‘ He was absent without leave for a considerable number of months; but recently he was discovered, arrested, and tried, and I think, was given a sentence of 120 days’ detention. What is the good of keeping a man of that description in gaol? 1 do not know the particulars of other’ cases, but I have, no doubt that in a considerable number of them the offences were more or less of a nominal character. I know that in the Military as well as in the Naval Service a good deal of discipline must be maintained; but now ‘that the war is over no good purpose can be served by keeping these men in gaol. I hope that the Minister for Defence will at once review these cases, and will liberate if not -all, then as many of these men as possible.-
There is one other matter; to which I should like to refer, and that is the delay that occurs in securing replies to correspondence addressed to the Defence De.partment. I realize that the Department receives ari immense volume of correspondence, and that inquiries must be made before definite replies can be given. Still, the Minister might take the matter into consideration and see whether it is not possible for correspondence addressed to his Department to be more promptly replied to. ‘ .
.- sit is my intention at the earliest opportunity to review the cases to which Senator Grant has referred. In reply to a question’ asked by the honorable senator on the subject, I said that they would be reviewed at the conclusion of peace. It is to be understood that the assumption in that case is that peace will be concluded within a reasonable time.. If there is a prospect that the formal declaration of peace will be considerably delayed, these cases will be reviewed before peace is declared. These cases are not all of the class mentioned by the honorable senator. .
– I quite understand that.
– It has to be remembered that men do not necessarily become morally reformed when they enter a military camp. The sentences in these cases come before me, and. I know that men have been convicted of stealing from their mates. For an offence of that character committed in camp the offender should be treated in the same way as if the offence were committed outside. Because there is a prospect of peace there is no more reason why such an offender should receive his liberty than that a man in a civil gaol who committed a similar offence should be released.- In the case of military misdemeanours during a state of war severe sentences must be imposed-; but. now that the military situation has been altered there is good reason why those cases might be reviewed.
As to the delay in answering correspondence, 1 can only say that the Department does its- best in this matter. The correspondence with the Department seems to - come in waves, and may “be largely increased by the alteration of a regulation, by an alteration of pay,, and so on. It would . astonish honorable senators to know what an enormous increase in correspondence the declaration of the armis- tice brought upon the Department. As soon as it was known that the armistice was signed people wrote to ask why their boys could not be at once sent back to Australia. The volume of the Department’s correspondence increased by 25 per cent, immediately upon the signing of the armistice. Honorable senators will realize that we cannot immediately increase the staff by 25 per cent, in such cases, but I shall endeavour to see that no avoidable delay occurs.
. -I see that a vote of £33,000 is put down for the Aviation School. If there is one branch of science which more than another has proved of value in time of war it is aviation. I think that it might be appliedwith equal benefit to the country in time of peace. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Government to continue the Aviation School with a view in the not distant future of supplying some of the back-blocks of Queensland, beyond such places as Longreach andCunnamulla, where the people get mails only once a fortnight, with an aerial mail service. It would be a Godsend to the people of remote districts in all the States if by co-operation between the Defence Department and the Post and Telegraph Department an aerial mail service could be provided.
– I do not want to commit myself to an aerial mail service, as that does not come within my Department. I can say, however, that I regard it as the duty of the Government to encourage aviation. I think I have shown that by what I have done in this direction on the military side. We believe that it is essential in the interests of defence to encourage aviation. We can have a large number of trained aviators at much less cost than by keeping a large staff of military aviators, who would have to he fairly highly paid. The policy we have decided to adopt in regard to the military side is to keep a nucleus and instructional staff of military aviators, and we shall try to get the Government to agree to encourage private aviation in every possible way, so that when war comes wewill not only have the military aviators trained, but will be able to call in all those private aviators, train them for military service, and use them in time of war. I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion with regard to mail services under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,511,771.
. -On the item “ Wireless Workshops, £1,364,” I want to bring certain matters, under the notice of the Committee and the Government, in the hope that they will be cleared up in the interests of the people. I call attention to paragraph 10 of the Royal Commission’s . report on Navy and Defence Administration, more particularly with regard to the purchase of the Shaw wireless works, as follows: -
On the 12th May, 1916, Father Shaw saw Mr. Cotes, one of the directors of the Shaw Wireless Limited, and informed him that he thought he had a good chance of selling the works to the Government, and asked for, and on the 15th May, 1916, obtained, an option of purchase of the company’s interest’s for £25,000.
That paragraph has created the impression outside, as well as inside, Parliament that the late Father Shaw sold to the Commonwealth Government for £55,000 a general electrical engineering plant, with land and buildings, over which he had an option for only £25,000. In my judgment, that paragraph was so worded by the Commission as to produce upon the press and the public mind the impression I have indicated. The fact is that Father Shaw’s interests and shares in land and buildings equalled the amount of the option obtained from the company, and were not, and could not.be, included in such option, hut formed part of the assets that were subsequently acquired by the Commonwealth Government. From January, 1916, Father Shaw held these works under lease, from the company for the manufacture of munitions, an undertaking that involved the introduction of new and special plant, which was added at Father Shaw’s sole expense, the company having no liability whatever for its installation. In addition, the land upon which a 150-horse-power plant was erected, the land on which a large twostory ‘building was erected, and is now used, by the Navy Department for- offices, and a considerable area of land which is not built on at all, were assets over which Father Shaw had an option. He alone contracted, and was the only one who could contract, for their sale. and transfer to the Government, without ,any reference to the company. The public should know the facts.
In order that the public might know the facts, I wrote to ifr.. P. R. Cotes, of the firm of Whiting and Aitken, who* was a director of the Shaw Wireless Company at the time of the sale, and pointed out to him the opinion that had been formed of the option given by his company to the late Father Shaw. I received from him the .following reply.: - 19th December, 1918.
The Senate, Melbourne.
I have your letter of the 18th inst., in which you say that the ‘impression has ,got about that the late- Father Shaw sold to the Commonwealth Government for £55,000 an industrial undertaking -over which he ‘had an option for £25;000.
If any -such impression has been created it is erroneous, for the property over which Father Shaw had .an option -for £25,000 was .a portion only, of what .he sold -to the (Commonwealth for £55,000, and the other .assets which were included in the sale .by Father Shaw to the Government were of vital -importance for .-the successful carrying on of the works, as a perusal .of my evidence given before the Commission will show.
In reference to that evidence, I have not carefully perused it, but I know that at least one important misprint has been made, for I am recorded as laving said that the rent to be paid to the company by Father Shaw, as lessee of the works, was to be £15,000 for the first six months, whereas the amount which T stated was £1,500.
I am, sir, yours faithfully,
I say without hesitation that the impression referred to has been created both in the public mind and in the minds of members of Parliament. In justice to myself, if I am entitled to any justice, and to the memory of the man who is dead and gone, the Government should take the earliest possible opportunity’ to clear up this -matter, and -show the -public of Australia that in those works, quite independently -pf what Mr. Herbert “Ross, a competent valuer, said, the Commonwealth received full value for the money paid for them. I do not propose to go into the question of whether the Government did or did not get the utmost value for .the. money, because I am not competent to offer an« opinion, nor have I ever claimed to know everything, about the value of the machinery, or the buildings, or the land on ‘which they were erected. All that I am guided by is the report of Mr. Ross, of the firm of Ross .and Rowe, who went thoroughly and exhaustively into these valuations, . and sent his report on to the Government. I think it was that report which largely influenced the Government in purchasing. I shall give one instance to demonstrate the very conservative view that Mr. Ross took, in valuing the works for the Government. Some honorable senators -know the tremendous steel tower .erected at the works. It is 210 :feet high, with a spread at the ‘base of about 30 feet /square. The very (best steel was used in its construction. In valuing it for the ‘.Commonwealth Government, Mr. Ross .set ‘.down its value .at £250, which would -not ‘he mere than sufficient to pay for the bolts used in its .construction. That is one instance to show how .careful Mr. Ross was not to overestimate the value of .any .article or machine, or other part of the plant, which it was proposed by the .Commonwealth Government to acquire:-
In the Commission’s report it is stated, in large type, that Senator Long drafted the letter containing the .proposition for the sale of the works to the Minister for (?he Navy. That is perfectly true, as I have already told the Senate and as I told the Commission. I have here the . document which I did not draft, but helped Father Shaw to draft, so that I am. not entirely responsible for it. It consists of a dozen lines, and its’ language is most formal. I am reading it, so that honorable senators may .estimate the influence that that language would be likely to have upon the mind of a Minister or of the Government - .
The Honorable the Minister for the Navy.
Some time ago I submitted the whole of the Shaw Wireless Company’s assets, situated at Randwick,New South Wales, tothe Postal Department. The works comprise stock, electrical, casting, and wireless manufacturing plant, and recently one of the most up-to-date shell factorieshas been added at a cost of £4,500. The Postal Department didnot at the time feel disposed to purchase. Now that your Department has taken over complete control of wireless, I have the honour to offer to you the whole ofmy company’s plant, &c, which will include the Shaw wireless patents, for the sum of £57,000. My company has spent £100,000 in establishing these works, and I may also point out that the whole of the machinery is in first class order, carrying a full staff, and, therefore,I present the proposition to you as a complete and well-organized going concern.
Yours sincerely, (Sgd.) Archibald Shaw.
Melbourne; 15th May,1916.
Honorable senators, in reviewing the whole of the circumstances surrounding this purchase, will be well advised to read Mr. Ross’ report to the Minister, after he had carried out his instructions to value the plant. This was his concluding paragraph - .
The whole manufacturing plant is in very excellent condition, not more than three machines are showing signs of wear, and in this case the tools are such that accuracy is not called for or necessary. The plant is, moreover; complete, and has no obsolete or ineffective units, the machines being in each case, almost without exception, the best of their kind.
The statements made by the Commission have, I realize, reflected very seriously upon me.These statements, though unsupported by evidence; have been accepted with as little hesitation by the members of my own party as by those on the Government side of the House. Consequently, as I feel that no man against whom rests the slightest suspicion of improper conduct should occupy a seat in a National Parliament, I have, after a very careful consideration of the, matter, determined, in the interests of parliamentary honour in the first place, and of my own party’s reputation in the second, to tender to the President my resignation as a senator for the State of Tasmania. I shall do this with the full consciousness that I am guilty of no wrong against my own reputation or the interests of the country. The only offence with which I can be justly charged is that I have endeavoured to give effect to that plank of my party’s policy which says that the Government shall manufacture its own requirement’s in respect of all its public activities, and, perhaps, that I assisted a good old friend in what I deemed a legitimate way. That he chose to reward me for that help beyond the bounds of generosity is a circumstance for which I should not be held responsible. What assistance I was able to render him I have no cause to regret, and never will regret so long as I live. He was a friend with whom I am proud to have been associated, notwithstanding the vile slanders that have been levelled at his memory by certain witnesses who appeared before the Commission. I shall place my resignation in the hands of the President at the earliest possible moment.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs, £583,215, and Department of Works and Railways, £641,789, agreed to.
Proposed vote; £5,075,116.
– The Department of thePostmasterGeneral has refused to register the official newspaper of the Returned Soldiers’ National party, entitled The Nation. On the 22nd August last the departmental refusal was couched in these terms in a letter written by the Deputy Postmaster-General for Victoria: -
With reference to the desired registration of a publication entitled The Nation as a newspaper,I beg to inform you the opinion is held that the publication is not a newspaper in the generally accepted sense, and its main object is political propaganda.
I may state the paper in question does not come within the definition of a newspaper under section 28 of the Post and Telegraph Act.
To a later application, the following reply was received from the secretary to the Department: -
With reference to your recent interview at this office, relative to the desired registration of The Nation,I beg to inform you that such journal is not a newspaper in the sense required by the Post and Telegraph Act.
The definition of a newspaper contained in section 28 of the Post and Telegraph Act is this -
I have here a copy of the November issue of The Nation. It contains articles on Arbitration, the Australian Imperial Force, the Strengthening of Militia Forces, Recruiting Posters, Chaplains on Troopships, the RedFlag, “ Carbine - the most memorable Cup,” Cup Carnival Pranks, Non-party Government, Representingthe Soldier, and other subjects, and I see no reason why it should not be registered as a newspaper. When we were discussing the proposal to impose a war tax of½d. on postal matter, I said that it was a pity that it was not proposed to charge½d. on every newspaper that went through the Post Office. If such a charge were made, the authorities would not have much objection to registering publications as newspapers. I can understand that at present, when a number of copies can be sent together in a bundle, not exceeding 20 ounces, at a charge of 1d., the authorities are not anxious to increase the number of registered newspapers. But if, as in New Zealand and in England, every copy posted had to pay ½d., the position, so far as the Department was concerned; would be different.
– Such a change in the rates would hit some of the little newspapers very hard.
– It is still worse for them to be unable to obtain registration. It is objected to TheNation that “it’s main object is political propaganda.”
Surely that is the main object of many weekly newspapers. The Worker, for instance, hardly professes to be a newspaper in the sense of a distributor of current news. It exists chiefly for the propagation ofcertain political views. I would not press for the registration as a newspaper of a publication that should not be so registered; but it is difficult to know why The Nation has been refused registration. I should be glad if the Minister who in this Chamber represents the Postmaster-General will obtain, within a reasonable time, a fuller statement of the attitude of the Department in this matter, and I hope that the PostmasterGeneral may see his way to register The Nation.
– Iwould point out that the publication of which Senator Thomas has just spoken is the official organ of the Victorian branch of theSoldiers’ Political Federation, and that a similar newspaper, which for the past two years has been published in Queensland for the Queensland branch of. the same organization, is registered by the Post Office as a newspaper. I should like to know why a publication is registered in one State as a newspaperand in another refused registration? It would seem that the refusal to register The Nation is the act, not of the PostmasterGeneral,but of some of his subordinates, who are not desirous of increasing the number of publications carried at newspaper rates. Inasmuch as The Worker and various other political rags are allowed to spread their views broadcast, the soldiers’ political paper should be given the same opportunity.
. - Since the½d. war tax was imposed, the summonses and quarterly accounts sent out by the friendly societies have been charged postage at the rate of1½d. each. This charge isa heavy burden on societies which have many expenses, and whose difficulties have been increased by the war. The summonses to which I refer are printed forms, on which is filled in in writing the amount of dues owing by members of the different bodies. Because of a few figures in writing, they are treated by the Postal Department as private letters, and charged postage accordingly. The Government might show some leniency towards the friendly societies in this matter, seeing that these societies are doing . so much for the people of Australia. Not merely the State Governments, but the Commonwealth Government benefit by the organization of friendly societies, directly and indirectly. It would be a boon to these societies if the Government applied penny postage to the carriage of their letters. On behalf of these organizations, I desire to direct the attention of the Minister to this very desirable reform.
– It is quite impossible to understand why the Postmaster-General should refuse to register certain newspapers. His action is a fair sample of the annoyance to which persons are subjected when they engage in a perfectly legitimate enterprise. I have been informed that it is the intention of the PostmasterGeneral to review the registration of newspapers. I think that Parliament should indicate to him, in an unmistakable manner, that noaction in thatdirection will meet with its approval. Newspapers are the best mediums for disseminating information throughout the country, and any suggestion to remove their registration, so as to increase the rate of postage upon them, should not be tolerated. It is bad enough that they should be subjected to the increases which were recently imposed under the Postal Rates Act. If the Government are going to remove the extra postage which has been placed upon the letters of friendly societies, it should also remove the additional postage which has been imposed upon the correspondence of trade unions.
Senator RUSSELL (Victoria - VicePresident of the Executive Council [1.49 a.m.]. - In regard to the newspaper belonging to the Returned Soldiers’ Association - TheNation-I promise to bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral for his consideration. I may add that we all have a great deal of sympathy with the suggestion which has been put forward by Senator Earle in relation to lodge circulars. Probably these come under one of the general regulations of the Postal Department. Consideration will be given to the matter, and also to the request preferred by Senator Grant.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £9,813,536.
Senator Colonel ROWELL (South Australia) [1.50 a.m.]. - I should like to know whether this vote will come out of revenue or out of loan funds.
– This particular vote will come out of revenue.
-I desire to say a few words in regard to a matter which was brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) a little time ago. I allude to the position of the members of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, who are at present stationed at the Queenscliff Forts.Senator Earle, it will be recollected, asked some questions in respect of this matter the other day, andI wish to quote the following newspaper article dealing with it : -
Members of the R.A.G.A. serving at the Queenscliff forts recently asserted that the Minister ofDefence had done them an injustice when he stated in the Senate last week that they had been enlisted to replace the permanent men who had gone on active service. They contended that they had joined the R.A.G.A. with a view to being drafted into the siege reinforcements for service abroad. The Minister for Defence, in alluding to this contention yesterday, said that while it was true that the siege reinforcements had been drawn from the R.A.G.A., men enlisting in the R.A.G.A. since the outbreak of the war had only taken an oath for service in the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. Reinforcements for the Siege Brigade could only be absorbed slowly, and some time ago, when reinforcements for other arms of the A.I.F. were urgently needed, an offer was made to men serving in the R.A.G.A. to transfer to the A.I.F., but only a few men responded to the invitation. Regarding the demobilization of the men now serving at the forts, he stated that it would be necessary to retain sufficient men to man theguns until the permanent troops attached to the R.A.G.A. returned from overseas service.
The grievance of these men is that the Minister’s statement that they were given an opportunity to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, and refused to do so, is somewhat unfair. I have here a copy of the parents’ consent in the case of one of these lads, which reads -
We, the undersigned, the parents of- , hereby give our consent for him to go on active service (abroad) with reinforcements to the 36th Australian Heavy Artillery Group.
Then follow the names of the father and mother, which are certified to. The consent is dated 11th August, 1918. This ladis at present stationed at Queenscliff. He applied to go away with the Australian Imperial Force, but was not permitted to do so. Yet the Minister has stated that the opportunity was given to these men to enlist, and that only a few of them responded.. On the 16th instant the following letter appeared in the Argus: -
tot he editor of the “argus.”
Sir; - In the Senate on Monday night Senator Pearce stated : - “ A number of men were enlisted in the Garrison Artillery at the forts to replacemenon active service, and the question of their release was now under consideration.”
Now, as the father of one of these young men (in the case of my son a boy under 19) I desire to protest most strongly against this statement.’. They enlisted in the A.I.F. -for the purpose of reinforcing the troops in France, and it is an insult to say that they enlisted “ to replace men on active service,”’ when they were eager to. proceed to France and risk their lives in the service of their country. The statement is further misleading in that they did not (at any; rate knowingly,) enlist in the R.A.G.A.; they enlistedin the A.I.F. They were drafted by the military authorities into the Siege Artillery, presumably on account of their physique and general fitness for big gun work. If the terms of their enlistment were as stated, the military authorities should have made it quite clear to them at the time, when I am certain few, if any, would have entered the Siege Artillery.
Now, shortly after the signing of the armistice, it was stated by the Government that no more reinforcements would be sent, and that all in camp, would be released, yet the Minister states, in regard to the Siege Artillery, “ their release was now under consideration.” The Minister is evidently not, cognisant with what has taken place, or he would be aware that a large number of Siege Artillery men who” enlisted months later than my son have already been released, and, this being the case, what need is therefor “ considering “ the release of the remainder? On behalf of my son and other men’s sons similarly detained, they should be relieved of their duties without further delay. - I am, &c,
I spoke to the Minister a few days ago in regard to a number of the men at the Queenscliff forts who desire to be released from duty, in order that they may go about their own businesses: He informed me that at present it is not possible to deplete the Force there. I quite agree with the honorable gentleman that it would notbe safe to release every member of the Australian Garrison Artillery who is stationed there. But. the position there seems to be inconsistent with the. statements which I have already quoted.
I have also received a letter from a member of the Australian Garrison Artillery, who is located at these forts, and who says -
The only time an offer was made to the members here to enlist in other unitswas about two years ago for the Field Artillery, the full number then being secured:.
That statement is also quite contrary to the statement made by the Minister. The letter proceeds -
There are quite a number of men with only three months’ training drafted from the A.I.F. . from Broadmeadows who have not taken any oath with the R.A.G.A. The only oath these men have taken is the usual one as taken, with all A.I.F. units.
Doubtless the Minister has been misinformed as to the true position, and trust that you will give the true facts of our position.
Just prior to the armistice about twenty man of the R.A.G.A.. applied for transfers: to the A.I.F. general reinforcements, and after some time elapsing permission was given them to do so. Their reason for so doing was with the idea of getting away for active service sooner than they would have done had they remained.
It seems to me that these men have a genuine grievance. A number of them were desirous: of going to the Front, and were prevented from doing so, and they resent, the Minister’s statement that they were given an opportunity’ to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, but refused to avail themselves of it. I also desire to know whether an attempt cannot be made to release these men from f urther duty by replacing them with men who have had experience insiege field battles abroad.
Senator Foll has read my statement,,and I do not take back a single word of it. I have nothing to add to it. I merely stated the facts. I have seen the oath which these men took, and under that oath they were sworn into the Commonwealth Military Forces and not into the Australian Imperial Force.
– Perhaps they did not understand theoath that they were taking.
– That is not my fault. If I take an oath I read it and see exactly what I am swearing. In addition to that, there was a question read out to them when they enlisted, and that question was not the question which is read out to menwho enlist in the Australian ImperialForce. These men were sworn to obey the Commonwealth Military Force regulations. Senator Foll, in one of the letters which he quoted, supplied the answer to another letter which he read. One of his correspondents affirms that these men were only given an opportunity to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force some two years ago, and that that opportunity related to the Field Artillery. Later on he states that they were given an opportunity to transfer, and that some of them did so,just before the armistice was signed.
– He says that they de- sired to do so.
– I may add that some mouths beforethat a number of these men, through their friends, were pressingto be sent to the Front. The Officer Commanding the Australian Garrison Artillery said that it would be useless to send them to England to do nothing. Thereupon I said “ Well, give them an opportunity to transfer to the Australian Imperial Force.” That offer was published in every one of the camps, and very few of the men accepted it. These are the facta of the case, and I have nothing to add to them. They are backed , up by documentary evidence in the Department.
– I naturally accepted the Minister’s statement.
– The reason why these men cannot be released, and Senator Foll, asan artilleryman,willappreciate it - isthat they have been trained on the gains. The permanent men are still at the Front with the Siege Brigade. As soon as they can be returned we shall release these men.
– Something further require to be done in respect to returned soldiers who are not receiving a sufficiently high pension. I know of the case of one’ man who wasshot through the kidneys and the legs, and who applied for a pension, but was put off with 7s. 6d. a . week. Before the warhe had been accustomed to earn about £4 a week in arather strenuous form of employment, but, owing to his wounds he could not return to that means of livelihood. I understand that he is a single man. It is not fair that he should receive such a miserable amount of pension. He is not even able to work full timeupon the class of employment in which he is engaged.
– I am always a little surprised to hear statements of that kind made by members of Parliament. . It should be well understood by now that if a man is incapacitated it does not matter how much pension he receives, or even if he receives none at all, the Repatriation Department assures him the sum of £2 2s. per week. Senator Grant should know that.He should in- form the individual in question of the means to be adopted to secure that amount, rather than make statements of this character in public.
SenatorGrant. - The public way is very effective.
– It is, in the way of creating the impression that the country is not looking after returned men. Every person who professes a desire to assist in repatriation should make it his business to be able to tell men placed like the returned soldier just alluded to all the facts, so that he may secure the benefits held outto him under the repatria tion scheme. It was discouraging to me to learn of a blind man getting up in a meeting of the Returned Soldiers’ Association recently, and complaining that he had been left to live a dog’s life on 30s. a week. Every man present, and certainly every officer, should, have immediately put that unfortunate man out of his mental troubles by informing him of the sum he could receive through the Repatriation Department. If Senator Grant will give me particulars of the case he has mentionedI will endeavour to trace that man and tell him how to secure the benefits to which he is entitled .
– This man had been accustomed to a laborious occupation, but, owing to his wounds, he can do little work to-day. It was with great reluctance that he applied to the Pensions Department at all, and it was only upon ascertaining that he could not do much work. Then he was put off with7s. 6d. per week. Possibly he may secure more now, because I have placed his case before the Pensions Department. But if he does not receive better treatment I will furnish the Minister with the particulars.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to. .
Bill reported without request.
Motion (by SenatorMillen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Is there any truth in the statement which has recently appeared in thepress to the effect that it is contemplated to purchase some modern weaving plant at a cost in the neighbourhood of £50,000, in order to provide new employment for returned soldiers?
– I made a statement to the press intimating that the Department had taken an option Over the plant and patent rights of a new weaving process. I propose to lay on the table of the Senate later this day the papers connected with that transaction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time..
– I have to announce the receipt of the following communication, tendering his resignation, from Senator J. J. Long:-
The Hon. the President of the Senate.
I beg to resign my seat inthe Senate as a representative for the State of Tasmania.
That letter was received by me at 1.46 o’clock this morning. The usual steps will be taken to communicate the information to His Excellency the Governor of Tasmania by telegram, and that will be subsequently confirmed by letter in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution, and the practice adopted in such cases. “ ;
Bill received from the House of’ Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– Does the Minister propose to proceed with the consideration, of the Bill at this stage? We have gone through the Estimates, and that is more than a fair thing. To ask honorable senators now to deal with a Bill of such scope and importance as this is most unreasonable.
– The strain is as heavy upon myself as upon others.
– I would prefer to return next week gather than carry on now under conditions which afford no opportunity of adequate consideration being given to the measure. It was debated at considerable length in another place. I do not know in what condition it left that Chamber. Honorable senators have assisted the Government in their programme, but I am convinced that the most reasonable consideration in that regard scarcely provides an excuse for demanding further concessions.
– I largely sympathize with the views of
Senator Gardiner. He must know, however, that there is a natural desire to close the proceedings of Parliament in order that honorable senators may be in their own homes at Christmas tide. Christmas Day will be on Wednesday next. . If we do not complete the business before Parliament by to-morrow there will be no prospect of a number of senators reading their natural desires for that occasion. Senator Gardiner speaksof honorable senators returning next week. That would not only mean bringing us back, but would require the attendance of members of the other House. Unless our business is completed now there would not only be great difficulty in securing an attendance la the. other House, but it could only be achieved by compelling members of Parliament to forgo their Christmas plans.
– The other House does not give the Senate much consideration towards the end of a session.
– I cannot say that I differ very much with the honorable senator in that regard. It is no pleasure for me to be here for two nights in succession at this hour,’ but circumstances compel it. I appeal to honorable senators to accept the inevitable..
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Sill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As honorable senators are aware, there has been, amongst a certain section of the community for some time a considerable agitation for the repeal of the War-time Profits Act. The Government has considered the matter very fully, and has come to the conclusion, for two main reasons, that it is not advisable to repeal it at this juncture. The Government has also recognised that the existing legislation imposes hardships upon certain people, and it is the intention of this Bill to remove some of the objectionable features of the Act, so that it may rest with greater equity upon the business community. A memorandum has been circulated amongst honorable senators setting out in the usual form the effect. of the proposed amendments. In clause 8 certain additions are madeto the classes of businesses to be exempted from taxation, amongst them being shipbuilding inthe Commonwealth, and such mining businesses, not including coal, as are specified by proclamation. Agencies are also to be exempted, so far as concerns income which is the result of commissions and not the utilization of capital. There is also an important alteration of section 11 of the principal Act. Under the present law, if a business has not one pre-war standard, the Commissioner has power to grant relief from the taxation to insure the financial, stability of the business. It is now proposed towiden his discretion. There are, of course, running through the Bill some other important alterations, but as this is an amending measure, I suggest it would be more appropriate if I were to deal withthe various provisions atthe Committee stage. The principles of the Bill do not need discussion, as they were debated when’ the principal Act was before the Senate. I assume, therefore, that I shall be suiting the convenience of honorable senators if I refrain from detailed explanation until the Bill is in Committee.
– The whole principle of the Bill is founded upon a wrong basis, and 1 think it is very much to be regretted that the Government has not . seen its way clear torepeal the existing legislation in regardto this matter. I am sure this course would give a great deal of satisfaction. I am informed on very reliable authority that notwithstanding all the care which seems to have been taken by the Government to insure that newbusinesses shall not be unfairly handicapped, they will be severely hit by this Bill. I am pleased to see, however, that amongst the amendments made to the existing law is: one which treats cooperative societies in a more satisfactory manner than under the original Act. I. understand1 it is proposed to exempt them altogether from taxation so far as concerns profit the result of trading with members of the society That clause will afford very much-needed relief, and I hope it will not be interfered with in Committee. The Government appears to be determined to pass the measure, but I think it is absolutely unfair to place a comprehensive amendment of a complicated and troublesome piece of legislation in our hands, and expect us to give it intelligent consideration in the few hours now at our disposal.
– Our powers of review are being reduced to a farce.
– Yes; and I, note that the Government had to apply the “ gag “ to get the measure through in another place. That pieceof machinery is not operative in the Senate, because hitherto we have curtailed our remarks and. it has not been found necessary.
– It is, indeed, reducing the powers of review, constitutionally possessed by this Senate, to a farce to expect us to systematically review an intricate financial measure of this kind at, this hour of the morning, remembering that yesterday morning we were also sitting at about, this time. How can jaded senators, even of the keenest mental attainments, instantaneously address themselves to anything like a. sensible review of a measure like this ? The Bill has, no doubt, been substantially amended in the other Chamber, “which was most deliberate in its treatment of it. It was before that House for a considerable time, and it has now been brought before the Senate in its amended form. But this is not the last word.So perfunctory seems to have been the handling of the measure in another place that, notwithstanding the time occupied in deliberating upon it, we now have placed in our hands a whole page of amendments upon this amending Bill for insertion at this late hour. No doubt, circumstances over which the Government have not complete control have brought about this pass. I am not in the habit of making rash statements; and although I shall always, as far as my physical powers; permit me, remain up to assist in sittings necessary to clear away the business of the Senate, I will not, if I ampresent at any future sessions of this Senate, consent to anything of this kind again. I warn the Minister in charge that if anything of a similar nature is attempted in any other session of this Senate at which I am present, I shall vote against the suspension of the Standing Orders, so that something approximating studied consideration may be given to measures, particularly those of an. intricate character.
– But is that not exactly what you said last time?
– I nevermade such a statement before. I shall not forget the statement, I am making now. I assure honorable senators who, like myself, have remained to conduct, the business of this Chamber that, my promise or my threat in this regard will be carried out.
I regard the Act which this ‘Bill is. introduced to amend as. a -most pernicious measure, and I am sorry that it remains onthe statute-book. The conditions of life in New Zealand are almost identical with the conditions in Australia. The people there are our people, they speak the same language, and. belong to the same Empire, they prosecute their adventures and enterprises in similar circumstances, and yet, after .one year’s experience .of a -war-time profits tax, the Parliament of th.at Dominion, repealed it in toto. If the ‘Commonwealth were welladvised they would, have taken an exactly similar step,. I. am not going to oppose this amending Bill because it’ to some extent ameliorates the unpleasant incidence of the original measure. ‘ I was so astonished at the phraseology of the clauses’ pf the ‘original Bill when I came to examine them minutely that I said that I washed >ny .hands of all responsibility in connexion ‘with *hat measure. That attitude on my part towards -this legislation is well understood by my constituents. I have protested against the provisions of the War-time.. Profits Act ever since it Was under consideration in this Chamber.
Though’ the Treasurer may derive £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 “ of revenue from the operation of the existing Act, tlie fact must not be lost sight of that by .reason of its existence damage to the extent of tens of .millions of pounds has been inflicted upon the enterprises; energies, and commercial life of our people. This is not a country in which large sums of money have been made as war-time profits by (people who are called profiteers. I am satisfied that there are a great many industries which the assessment under the Act will disclose have not provided £1,000 as available for this taxation. We have already on the statute-book taxation measures by means of which profits can be levied upon in the interests of the community. The Income Tax Act is a .measure of that description. In this country, inhabited by 5,000,000. of people, who will presently find themselves burdened by hundreds of millions of debt, every energy should be bent upon the stimulation of production. But the War-time Profits Act may be said to have held a shadowy and sinister hand over all the activities and enterprises of the people.. In connexion with every industry of which I can think, many more enterprises would have- been .launched if it had not been passed. I suppose that it is the reluctance of ;the Acting Prime Minister (M.r. Watt), who is also Treasurer, to relinquish anything in the way of a substantial amount, of revenue that has induced the Government’ to propose to amend, rather than to repeal,’ the existing Act. We are told that a “ ‘bird in the - hand is worth two in the bush,” and that a “.sprat may be used to catch, a mackerel,” but I venture -to say that in business eagerness to secure a small amount of profit may sometimes prevent a man from being in a position to avail himself of the opportunity to make a much larger profit. It is a distinct mistake, by legislation of this Character, in order to collect £l/000;000 or £2,000,000 in. taxation, to check enterprise -. which would result m a long period of fruitfulness, not only from the ‘Stand-point of the taxpayer, but in regard to the production of ‘ wealth, which is so essential to .the welfare of the people at this juncture. I do not think that any one can closely estimate the vast amount of” damage which the existing Act has inflicted upon the Commonwealth”, and I -most earnestly desired to see the Government repeal the measure, as was done with a similar Act in New Zealand.
We can deal with the Income Tax Act in such .a way as to levy upon any large profits. In fact, they automatically come within the ambit of that Act. “This mea- . sure, to- be properly styled, should be called “The Bar to Enterprise Act.” I believe that it will ameliorate the incidence of the operation of the existing Act, and I shall, therefore, support the second reading. When the original Bill was -under consideration I contended that the industry of tin-mining was one which should be specifically exempted from such legislation. The price of tin went up to an abnormal point during the latter portion of the war period, but it is tumbling down like the waters of a cataract at the present time. A further fall is .announced in the newspapers which have ju.st been circulated, and no one can now put a limit to this falling tendency. I should like to know whether the assessments disclosed anything like big war-time profits in this industry. The high price of tin did not stimulate production in Australia, for the simple reason that the -existence of the
War-time Profits Act barred enterprise and checked the necessary’ inflow of capital, without which new tin ventures could not be started.
There is a retrospective feature of this Bill which has been much commented upon in the press, and it affords an additional buttress to my argument for the repeal of the original Act. We are unable at this hour of the morning to discuss the features of this amending Bill which are pernicious or are beneficial as amendments of the existing law, which, no doubt, some ofthem are.
– Does the honorable senator think that any of the new provisions are more pernicious than those which they amend ?
– One feature of the amending Bill which has been continually referred to in the press, and that is its retrospective character, is very pernicious. The promise to give relief to the tin-mining industry is embodied in an amendment in very general terms, and subject to the condition of proclamation. An amendment of section 8 of the principal Act is proposed by the insertion in sub-section 1 of a paragraph, which reads -
Such mining businesses or such classes of mining businesses (not includingany coalmining businesses) as are specified by proclamation, as from the date, to the extent and on the conditions set forth in the proclamation.
I say that that is very indefinite, and is conditioned in a way that I did not anticipate, seeing the great rumpus which I think has been justly made over the tin-mining industry. It is not my intention to delay the passage of the Bill; but I do intend to move an amendment which, in two words, will specifically exempt the tin-mining industry and release it from this indefinite and inconclusive condition. I shall propose in Committee, when we come to consider clause 3 proposing the amendment of section 8 of the principalAct, that in paragraphc the words “ or tin “ shall be inserted after the word “ gold.” I am going to be content with supporting the Bill, and will secure one amendment of it if possible which will exempt the tinmining industry from the operation of this pernicious legislation.
I have remained to assist in carrying out the business of the Senate, and to assist the Government as a Government supporter, and I shall now resume my seat after once more repeating my great regret that the Government have notproposed therepeal of the principal Act, which is so detrimental to the enterprise and energies of the people of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Bill to consider the amendment of sections 2 and 27 of the principal Act.
Clause 1 agreed to.
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 1a. Section 2 of the principal Act is amended by omitting all the words from and including “ next after “, and inserting in their stead the words “ One” thousand nine hundred and nineteen “.
Section 2 of the principal Act is as follows : -
The Act shall apply to the profits of any business arising up’ to the thirtieth day of June next after the declaration of peace in connexion with the present war.
The object of the amendment is toremove all doubt and ambiguity, and make it clear that no tax will be collected on profits made after the 30th June, 1919.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
.- The definition of “cooperative company “ is removed from the definition section in the principal Act and put into another clause in the middle of the Bill, What is the purpose?
– Not only is the definition transferred, but there is an alteration in the conditions applying to co-operative societies. As these require a clause to themselves, that clause has been inserted later on. To put in new conditions where this definition was before would have destroyed the symmetry of the definition section.
Clause agreed to. Clause 3 -
Section 8 of the principal Act is amended - («) by inserting in sub-section (1) after paragraph (j) the following paragraphs : - “ and [h) shipbuilding so far as regards contracts made with the Commonwealth Government since the fourth day of August One thousand nine hundred and fourteen and before the- declaration of peace and “ (i) such ‘mining businesses or such classes of mining businesses (not including any coal mining business) as are specified by proclamation, ‘ as1 from the date/ to the extent and on the conditions, set forth in the proclamation; and “ j
Section proposed to be amended -
The businesses to which this Act applies are all businesses … of any description deriving profits from sources within Australia, excepting -
businesses where the principal business consists of mining for gold; and
– I desire to amend paragraph e of sub-section 1 of section 8 of the principal Act by adding after the word “ gold ‘”’ the words “ or tin.” There has been a- constant chorus “ of disapproval from all sections of the mining community regarding the position, of the tin industry. It may. be contended that tinmining can be exempted .by the new wording of sub-paragraph i in clause 3,. but that process requires a proclamation, and conditions the undoubted promise made by the Administration that tin-mining would be exempt. Tin-mining is not mentioned’ in sub-paragraph “ i, although right through the tin-mining fields of Australia it was expge’ted and understood, and indeed proclaimed by’ the press, that tin-mining was to be exempted by the provisions of this amending Bill. There are times when it is necessary for theMinister in charge of a measure. to be inflexible, but I submit that this is not one of those occasions. A great deal of friction will be obviated, and much of the existing unpopularity of this tax in mining districts will be removed, if ‘my amendment is accepted. It does specifically what was expected to be done, but has not been done. I move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted after the word “amended,” line 1: - “ (aa) By inserting in paragraph e of such section, after the word ‘ gold,’ the - words ‘ or tin ‘.”
– I t-ike no exception to the moving of the amendment; indeed, I appreciate the courteous manner in which Senator Bakhap stated his views ; but -I regret that I am not free to accept his proposal. The clause empowers the authorities to exempt tin and other mineral propositions under circumstances which seem to justify such an exemption. No doubt, the honorable senator would like to make’ the exemption certain. I do not know on what he based the statement that a definite promise was given that it would be made certain. No doubt, a sympathetic reply was given to those who sought that concession, but there was no definite promise - I speak from memory, and may be at fault - that “tin-mining would be exempted. There is reason for leaving the question of exemption to be determined according to the circumstances of any particular mining company. There might be circumstances which would justify an exemption at one time, and at other times make it unnecessary and unfair to the industries that are taxed. Where a good case can be made out, the Administration will be inclined to give a concern the benefit of the exemption.- Possibly, if I represented tin-miners to any great extent, I would be better pleased to have the exemption set *out in the Act; but the Government has endeavoured to deal fairly with, those who have approached them, and the Administration . might well be left to determine whether an, exemption shall or shall not be given. If it be thought that that might provide opportunities for favoritism, I would point out that a clause is to be Introduced which will make it necessary’ for the Government to immediately inform Parliament of what it is doing in this regard, so. that Parliament may have’ an opportunity to take any steps it likes to ‘check improper action by the Administration.
– I regret that the Minister cannot see his way to accept the amendment. I am not sure that it could notbe- introduced in a more appropriate place, and in better form ; but the object which Senator Bakhap and Others have in view would be achieved if it were carried. This matter was discussed at considerable length when the principal Act was before the Senate, and from the moment that that Act became law until the introduction of this Bill, representations have continued to be made to the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Watt). Instance after instance of the actual working of the Act, in its relation to tin-mining, has been brought under his notice. I believe that every honorable senator and honorable member who waited on the Acting Prime Minister on this subject is aware that the reply given by him was not only very sympathetic, but one which led all to infer that tin-mining would be dealt with in the manner proposed by the amendment.Senator Millen says that the reply of the Minister might have been sympathetic, but that it did not contain any definite promise. I shall go further, and say that subsequently, just as the Bill was about to be introduced, an intimation was given to me which resulted in my sending to Tasmaniathe statement that the principle embodied in Senator Bakhap’s. present amendment was incorporated in the Bill.
– Was that an intimation from the Government?
– It was from a member of the Government, and Isent a communication to Tasmania to that effect.
-I received a similar communication.
– I regretted very much, later, that I had to send copies of the Bill to various persons with the statement that my information did not tally exactly with the wording of the measure.However, nothing can be said in addition to what has already been said on previous occasions, and I realize that, in the circumstances, one can merely talk to Hansard. I regret that, after actual cases have been laid before them, theGo vernment do not realizethe necessity for dealing with tin-mining as gold-mining is dealt with in the original Act, and as molybdenite, tungsten, sheelite, and other rare metals used in the manufacture of munitions of war have been dealt with. I shall support the amendment, and I trust that other senators will do so too. On a previous occasion- it was by a very narrow majority that a proposal to include tin-mining among the exempted businesses wasdefeated.
– It was defeated ultimately in Committee by one vote, in an attempt to secure a. recommittal to insert this amendment.
– I hope that on. this occasion we shall be more successful.
SenatorBAKHAP (Tasmania) [3.11 a.m.].- I did notwish to divulge any confidence but undoubtedly an intimation was made to me in very definite terms by a member of the Government, who prompted me to assure all the members of the tin-mining community that I met in Tasmania and in Melbourne that tin would be specifically exempted. The indefiniteness of the permission to exempt makes increased production impossible. Notwithstanding the high prices of tin, it is practically impossible to obtain any capital for Australian tin-mining ventures, though any quantity of money can be obtained for enterprises to be registered in Malaya. People say that, as bin is a wasting asset, it will be better to leave it in the ground until such time as the profit obtained from the mining of it will no longer be taken away under a war-time profits tax. Although such high prices ruled during the latter part of the war, the production of tin in the Commonwealth has notincreased. Ishall not say much about the attitudeof the primaryprodiucers towards this Administration, but surely Ministers cansee the writing on the wall. In two recentelections representatives of theprimary producers have defeated the candidates of this party. That has happened because it is believed that the Government is not sufficiently consideringthe interests of the primaryproducers. A gentleman in
Launceston, whose influence has always been worth at least from 50 to 100 votes . for the Liberal and National parties, has told me that if the measure is not amended in accordance with the implied promise that was given, under no circumstances will he again vote, for a Nationalist candidate, and he . will vote for Senator Keating and myself only on personal grounds. That is a straw in the stream which indicates the trend of public opinion. This gentleman has spent between £4,000 and £5,000 in taking machinery from a mine which was exhausted some years ago, and in placing; it on his own mine. Realizing the profits likely to be won from the tin ore in this long-exploited mine, he says, “ If the implied promiseto exempt tin-mining is not fulfilled’ I will shut down my mine, and discharge the sixteen or twenty miners who are employed upon it at present.” He recognises that he- cannot obtain, a fresh yield of tin every_ year from the old and exploited mine which he is endeavouring to rehabilitate. This Bill will, therefore, check tin production. If honorable senators choose to stultify themselves, if they are willing to forget that the attempt to exempt tin-mining in connexion with the principal Act was defeated by only onevote, I shall be sorry for such of “them as have to deal, with tin-mining- constituencies. Directly the armistice was proclaimed the price of this particular metal commenced to tumble, and since the 10th November its price has fallen as much as £70 or £80 per ton. With a market so unstable, if tin-mining is not to be specifically exempted from ‘ the operation of the Act, I despair of the’ intelligence of members of this National Parliament.
– In reply to Senator Bakhap, I would point- out that the very class of. mine that he has attempted to portray - tlie mine which is up against adverse circumstances - will be met by the clause which we are now considering. But, in addition to that, class of mine, .there are tin mines which are reaping handsome profits. So long as the war-time profits tax is in operation there is no reason why one business which is returning a handsome profit should pay the tax, while another venture, which is making- ah equally handsome profit, should be exempted. That would not be equitable. What the Bill provides is that we shall collect the tax on the profits which are earned, but if there are any mining ventures which,- . because of the circumstances’ to which reference has been made by Senator Bakhap, are not yielding a fair profit, we will exempt them from taxation.
– Does not the Minister see that the very indefinite nature of the language of this clause will only serve- to prolong- the- feeling of uncertainty which at present exists amongst the mining community, and emphasize theposition which I have stated?
– All taxation has a. somewhat repressive effect- on enterprise. I say that with a. good deal Of hesitancy at. 3.20 in. the morning in the presence of Senator Grant. But, seriously speaking, I do- think that taxation has a tendency to retard people from embarking upon industry whatever may be its. nature. But the Government have attempted to discriminate to the advantage of those tin. or. other mining ventures which are not making undue profits, whilst demanding from those which are making handsome profits, the same contribution to the revenue as will be paid by other enterprises similarly placed. * -
.: - In regard to the proclamation mentioned in paragraph i of this clause, I would point out that since the. principal Act was passed there has been less activity in tin-mining. In Tasmania, where a good deal of this class of mining was carried on for many years, one could go into the tinmining centres of the north coast at any time during the last couple of years, and find there scarcely one eligible man. Why? Because they had all gone to. the Front. The result- was that tinmining was. dependent for labour on men who had been associated with it for the best part of their lives, but who were beyond the recruiting age. -The effect of this Act has been to disperse that labour.
-The stopping of tinmining means that the eligibles enlist.?
– What I have stated is a fact. Eligibles could not he found in these tin-mining centres. They had gone to the war. That circumstance, however, has no relation to the principal Act. I repeat that tin-mining was dependent for labour upon men who were not eligible, but who had spent the greater part of their lives in mining operations. Since the slump took place in tin-mining, to which our war-time profits taxation largely contributed, the lessened labour which was previously available has been dispersed. When tinmining is revived in these centres it will be very difficult to obtain suitable labour.
Moreover, the proclamation of which Senator Millen has spoken cannot come into force unless in relation to a specific mining venture or class of mining venture. It will be necessary for people to embark upon those ventures before they can ask for the proclamation. Will they embark upon them when they are in the position of uncertaintydescribed by Senator Bakhap ? I do not think so. There will first be the difficulty of assembling ‘the requisite labour which has been dispersed, and, over and above this, those who contemplate embarking upon thisenterprise will say, “ If we do so, we have no assurance that we shall be exempt from the operations of the wartime profits tax,” These are the circumstances which make the outlook for tin-mining most unpromising.
The Minister has referred to the necessity for laying a proclamation upon the table of both Houses, which will then be able to deal with the action of the Government, but that state of affairs cannot arise unless there is a proclamation of exemption. If there be no proclamation there will be nothing to be tabled. I do hope thathonorable senators will follow the course which they followed on a previous occasion, and realize the importance of the tin-mining industry.
– The course which they followed on a previous occasion was to defeat the amendment.
– It was defeated by only one vote, and one vote was, I think, cast in error.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 6
Questionso resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That after the word “ proclamation “. in sub-paragraph i of paragraph a the following words be inserted “ The proclamation shall be laid before both Housesof the Parliament within seven days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, but if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after the proclamation has been laid before such House disallowing the proclamation, the proclamation shall cease to have effect as from the making thereof.”
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales-
Minister for Repatriation) [3.33 a.m.]. - I move -
That sub-paragraph j of paragraph b be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-paragraph : - “(j) any agency (in which little or no capital expenditure is required) to the extent to which the Commis- sioner is satisfied that theprofits arise from commissions in respect of purchases, sales, leases, loans, insurances, or collections of money made on behalf of any other person, including commercial travellers and agents whose remuneration consists wholly of a fixed and definite sum not dependent on the amount of the business done or any other contingency.”
A good deal of discussion arose when this measure was previously before the Senate, in regard to the agency business. It was pointed out that an agent might have no capital in his business. It could not be said, therefore, that he was making any profits when his income really arose from his own personal exertion.. The purpose of this clause is that a man shall not ‘be exempt; but if, side by side with the income arising from his own personal exertion, he is also earning an income from some capital employed in the business, that portion of his income shall be subject to the Act. This clause will extend a large measure of. relief to a considerable number of people throughout the community.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the following . new paragraph be added: - ” (bb) by inserting after paragraph ; the following paragraph: - and
businesses deriving profits from the raising and sale of stud live stock bred by the owner of the business to the extent of the profits so derived where the profits so derived do not exceed Two thousand pounds.’”
This amendment is intended to- exempt profits from the raising and sale of stud stock in certain cases. The exemption” will be limited to profits arising from the sale ofstud stock breeders’ own animals. It will not apply to the value of stud . animals which he may take into his ordinary wool-growing business.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Computation of profits).
– I move -
That the following new paragraph be inserted after paragraph (f ) : - “ (3?). by omitting sub-section (8) thereof and inserting in its stead the following sub-section : -
In the case of a business which uses leasehold property or the owner of which has acquired a licence to construct works, buildings, or other improvements for the purpose of gain on any land - (a)’ for which a definite sum of money has been paid other than the rent reserved; or
The idea in this amendment is very simple and just. Sometimes a property is let on a lease, and one of the conditions is that certain improvements are to be effected, which: improvements ultimately fall in for the benefit of the ownerof the property, at, the expiry of the lease. This clause permits the lessee to deduct a proportionate amount of the value of those improvements for the purposes of bis assessments. Take, as an example, a lease for a term of ten years, on which £1,000 worth of improvements have been erected. The lessee could deduct, over that period, at the rate of £100 per annum.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 9 -.
Section 17 of the. principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (6) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the capital of a partnership …. shall include -
Provided that where the member has borrowed money on the security of his estate in the land, the average amount of the borrowed money outstanding during the accounting period of the partnership shall be deducted from the amount that would otherwise be included in the capital of the partnership business, and shall be deemed to be borrowed money used by that business within the meaning of sub-section (15) of section 15 of this Act.”.
. - I move -
That all the words from and including the word “ Provided “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof - “ Provided that where a member has borrowed money for the purpose of acquiring his estate in the land or has borrowed money on the security of his estate in the land for the purpose of using it in the business of the partnership, the average amount of the borrowed money outstanding during the accounting period of the partnership shall be deducted from the amount that would otherwise be included in the capital of the partnership business and shall be deemed to be borrowed money used by that business within the meaning of sub-section (15) of section 15 of this Act.”
This is a provision by which it is sought to define what portion of the capital employed in a business shall be regarded as borrowed money, in respect to which the taxpayer is entitled to deduct from his income the amount which he pays in interest.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “9a. Section 27 of the principal Act is amended by omitting the proviso to subsection 3 thereof.”
This new clause is submitted by the draftsman as a consequential amendment to that made by clause 46 of the Bill which struct out the proviso to section 11, sub-section 1, of the principal Act; That proviso limited the power of the Commissioner and Board of Referees to modify the law in certain cases, to what was necessary to insure the financial stability of the businesses. The new clause removes the limitation on the Board of Referees, and is in harmony with what has already been done by clause 46.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 verbally amended and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I join with other honorable senators in expressing the hope that this will be the last occasion upon which we shall be called upon to pass legislation in this way. It is. impossible for honorable senators, wearied and jaded as they are, to handle intricate measures at such short notice. I protest against this course. The Senate being the house of review, should really have more time to consider carefully the effect of the amendments that are brought before it. This Bill has been carefully considered in another place, but that is no reason why we should neglect our duty. It is particularly unfair to expect the Senate to deal with a Bill like this, brought down at such a late hour, and. in the last day practically of the session.
– I am entirely in sympathy with Senator Senior’s remarks, but I remind him and other honorable senators that we are practically the victims of circumstances.
– It happens so often.
– It does, and I point out it is the fault of our present parliamentary system. If the session lasted a month or two months longer the position would not be altered at all. Sooner or later some system will have to be devised by which, possibly, the Senate will be enabled to initiate legislation. At present the trouble is so many Bills are, under compulsion, introduced in another chamber, and the Senate is kept waiting at one end of the session while the work in the other House is crowding up. Unless something can be done to ease the situation, in the way I suggest, I am afraid that, despite our protests, we shall invariably be confronted with this congestion at the. end of the session.
Question resolved in the. affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It is hardly necessary for me to do more than formally submit the Bill. Honorable senators are aware that its purpose is to make provision for a pension of £1,750 per annum for the Chief Justice of Australia upon his retirement. I have no doubt that honorable senators are also aware of the distinguished career and great public service rendered by the present occupant of this’ office. The chief reason which, I think, can be advanced as a claim for . support of the Bill is the fact that Sir Samuel Griffith, who was Chief Justice of Queensland, would have been entitled, had he remained in’ that position for another five years, to a pension of £1,750 per annum, the amount stated in this Bill. By coming over to the Commonwealth Service, Sir Samuel Griffith not only lent lustre to the office he occupied, but rendered great public service to the people by his interpretation of the Constitution. But he forfeited all the rights of a pension that would have been his had he remained in the State Service for another five years, as against the ten years’ service which he has given to the Commonwealth. I am aware that objection has been taken to the principle of pensions by some honorable senators, but, in view of the circumstances to which I have referred, I ask them not to allow it to be said that a great public servant, who has served the Commonwealth so well, should be called upon to make a sacrifice through having left the Queensland Service to become the first Chief Justice of Australia.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– The honorable senator must read the motion.
– The motion of which, by leave, I give notice is as follows: -
That the Senate is of opinion that clause 125 of the Constitution should be amended by striking out the words, “and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney. Such territory shall contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.”
– I ask the Minister for Defence if the publication of Defeat and other temperance organs, which have been censored for some considerable time, will now be permitted?
.- I may say that the books referred to, Defeat and The Fiddlers, havebeen released from the censorship.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adiourned at 4 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 December 1918, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1918/19181219_SENATE_7_88/>.