7th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Commercial Activities Bill.
Wireless Telegraphy Bill.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Mrs. Palmer, widow of Mr. Albert Clayton Palmer, late member for Echuca in the House of Representatives, expressing her appreciation of, and thanks for, the resolution of condolence and sympathy of the Senate on the occasion of the death of her husband.
The following paper was presented : -
Peace - Treaty between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles, 28th June, 1919.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation, without notice -
– I suggest that the honorable senator must indicate what are the conditions which the Bank stipulates before I can answer his question.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I submit this motion with the concur rence, I understand, of a majority of honorable senators, in order that those who may wish to do so shall be afforded an opportunityto listen to a speech which will be delivered elsewhere on an occasion which is undoubtedly historic, and in reference to a matter which is filling all our minds at the present moment.
– I certainly am not going to delay the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose indicated, but I must take the earliest opportunity of stating the position of the waterside workers who are classed as loyalists which I brought up in the Senate a week or so ago. When I mentioned that the loyalist waterside workers had broken up into two sections, one representing over 700 loyalists, and the other stated to represent about 170, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), in his reply to my observations, said that, although the more numerous section of the loyalist workers might number 700, it did not at all follow that they were all original loyalist workers.
– Or loyalistsat all, I suppose.
– It is not contended that they were not all loyalists.
– Why not call them by their proper name?
– Why not say “scabs”?
– These men, in my opinion, performed very meritorious service in the interest of the State. I quite understand the value of the exclamations from the other side, but they will not deter me from doing what I conceive to be my duty at the present moment.
SenatorFoll. - They did not “ scab “ on the men at the Front.
– The Minister said that the organization, comprising 700 men, did not necessarily include any very large number of men who could properly be classed as those who came to the rescue of the industrial community during the maritime strike of 1917. I wish now to state that officials of the organization have brought under my notice the fact that after carefully going over the list of 700 members, they found that no fewer than 643 of the names represent men who may be definitely classed as having come to the rescue of the country during the maritime strike to which I have referred.
– Classed by whom - themselves?
– Classed by the secretary, an official of the organization. If there has been any official inquiry which determines the matter otherwise, the result of that inquiry should be made known to the country at once. I am one of those who hold that the Commonwealth is under a great obligation to these men. They are already complaining that their services are spurned, and that they are suffering because of a lack of discrimination in their favour, a lack of the preferential treatment to which they believe they are entitled. The refusal of such treatment to these men may he classed with the spineless action of certain people in the State of Western Australia a little time ago. I do not say that the Minister in charge of this matter is acting in this way ; but as the statement I made, on authority, that the far greater number of the loyalist workers to whom I referred were original loyalists, was questioned, I have informed myself that careful investigation has proved to the satisfaction of those concerned that 643 of the 700 members of the organization are, without doubt, original loyalists.
.- WhenI put a question to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen), without notice, as to conditions stipulated by the Commonwealth Bank in advancing money under the War Service Homes Act, the honorable senator suggested that I should state the conditions. I did not do so, because I thought that probablyI should have been pulled up under the Standing Orders for stating facts in asking a question. As the Minister has asked me to mention the conditions, I will say that it is stated that the manager or officials of the Commonwealth Bank in Tasmania are to a certain extent in conflict with the Deputy Commissioner for Tasmania under the War Service Homes Act. They are not in agreement on cer tain matters connected with the purchase of homes for returned soldiers, or the dependants of deceased soldiers. As a matter of fact, it is said that the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth Bank in Tasmania are not agreed to, or approved, by the Deputy Commissioner in that State under the War Service Homes Act. The manager of the Bank refuses to advance money for the purchase of a ready-built home, even if the valuer for the Bank has agreed that the value placed upon the dwelling is correct, unless the property has a frontage of not less than 40 feet. Also, he will not advance money for the purchase of a weatherboard house, except under the condition that the period for repayments is much reduced, although the Deputy Commissioner is quite agreeable, so long as the valuer for the Bank has reported favorably. If the manager refuses, it shows a distinct clash of authority-
– It shows a clash of opinion, not of authority.
– Well, then, a clash of opinion, leading to a clash of authority. I assure the Minister that this is a burning question in Tasmania. I am anxious to know what powers have been conferred by the Minister upon the authorities of the Commonwealth Bank.
– The authority conferred upon the Bank is set out in an agreement between the Housing Commissioner and the Bankwhich agreement was tabled in the Senate some time ago. I am at present corresponding with the Governor of the Bank regarding these matters.It is to be regretted that any official, even a Deputy Housing Commissioner, should venture, in respect to matters which he knows are under discussion at this time, either publicly or privately, to give expression to his own views, which may or may not be in conflict with the policy laid down. I hope in a few days to be able to make a statement, not only regarding the situation in Tasmania, but in . relation to other States as well. Officials are too ready to give utterance to their own private views upon matters on which they ought to confer with their chiefs before doing so.
In relation to the subject again introduced by Senator Bakhap, I repeat that the Government gave a pledge, not to an association, but to individuals. It is immaterial to the Government whether any of these individuals is a member of an association or not. A pledge “was given to men who did certain things at a certain time. That pledge will be honoured.
– Hear, hear I 1 hope so!
– But the Government docs not intend that other personswho came in afterwards, and enrolled in an association which had been formed by the men to whom the Government had given that pledge, shall reap where they have not sown.
– But, surely, investigation will prove the merits of the matter !
– That is Just what I was about to say. We cannot accept the statements of the men who claim the benefits of our pledge as sufficient in themselves. Senator Bakhap would not suggest that. Every man will be given opportunity to prove his claim - to show whether or not he did come to the rescue of the Government at the time when it asked him to do so. I am desirous that the pledge of the Government shall be carried out, both in the letter and in the spirit. We do not propose, however, to permit those who in no sense came to th« country’s help at first, but came afterwards - those who are hangers-on to the others - to secure the benefit of the pledge given to other men.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1919, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1919/19190910_senate_7_89/>.